Solidarity against FBI repression
CHICAGO--At least 200 people braved freezing rain and packed into Martyr's bar on Thanksgiving eve to support a group of antiwar and socialist activists who have fallen victim to the FBI’s political repression.
Some 14 Twin Cities and Chicago activists received subpoenas to testify in front of a grand jury after having their homes and offices raided by FBI agents in late September on the pretense of possibly having provided "material support" to groups designated by the government as terrorist organizations. After they refused to testify, the government dropped the subpoenas against 11 of the activists, but has since reissued subpoenas to three--and their legal battle is far from over.
The activists took to the stage early on, reminding everyone of the importance of solidarity and the history of repression against those fighting for justice and peace. It was a theme that would be echoed by many of the artists performing throughout the evening.
The evening was hosted by the nonprofit organization Portoluz and featured acts including Bin Laden Blowin' Up (BBU) and Rebel Diaz, among others.
BBU emphasized the importance of artists being involved in activism beyond their performances, explaining that their members are involved in a Service Employees International Union local and in fighting AIDS on the West Side of Chicago.
Rebel Diaz continued this theme, discussing their autonomous space in the south Bronx that gives young artists a venue to organize and perform. They also emphasized the importance of ongoing struggles for immigration reform, against imperialism and wars from Afghanistan to Palestine to Puerto Rico. They reminded the crowd that the days of fashionable Bush-bashing were over, and activists would have to be ready to go head-to-head with the Obama administration and a Democratic Party who have sold us lies about change on almost every issue.
In the coming months, solidarity displays like these will be key to defending the rights of the activists still in the FBI's crosshairs.