About 60 groups ranging from grass-roots activists to legal and civil rights recently penned and sent a letter. Its desired destination was to the appear before the eyes of the Senate and House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. The request is for them to utilize their power to initiate a thorough investigation into the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) overbearing surveillance and the constant repression of nationwide movements, protests, an gatherings to address grievances.
Photo By Dave Winer
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Defending Dissent Foundation, who created the letter strongly expressed “concern over Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security abuse of counterterrorism resources to monitor Americans’ First Amendment protected activity.” It also contains that the FBI “has a well-documented history of abuse of First Amendment rights, that in recent years that abuse has continued.”
School of Americas Watch, Police accountability activists, Occupy groups and the environmental conscience anti-Keystone XL Pipeline activists are just a few of the targets of this oppression through the misuse of surveillance.
Their well orchestrated letter specifically details the evidence displaying how the DHS and FBI have spied, repressed and infiltrated these movements, leading to the mistreatment of peaceful activists like they are terrorists. The Feds continue to unleash undercover informants and provocateur agents to infiltrate peaceful activist groups and use “counterterrorism” as a guise to enforce laws to surveil legal protests and assemblies.
Chip Gibbons, a legal representative for the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Defending Dissent Foundation said “That the FBI cannot discern between activism and terrorism shows us that they think dissent is still the enemy.” He continued “There have been multiple attempts at reform but after each and every one we see the same thing happening again. The FBI claims to no longer investigate groups for their political beliefs, but look at who the FBI investigates under its counterterrorism authority, peace groups, racial justice groups, economic justice groups. The very same types of organizations that were targeted during the heyday of J. Edgar Hoover.”
These collaborated groups conveniently released their letter on 45th anniversary of the break-in of the Pennsylvania FBI field office back in 1971. This event yielded a multitude of secret documents that were taken and immediately published to expose the COINTELPRO arm of the FBI. On April 28th of the same year, FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover cancelled the program, but of course they still stealthily continued it on a smaller scale. This specific secret intelligence program where the FBI’s henchmen were sent out to spy and infiltrate dissident and political activists groups. It eventually led to the assassination of a famous activist leader Fred Hampton, the Head of the Chicago Black Panther Party.
With a large collaboration of civil rights and activist organizations signing the letter it sends a stronger message. Some of the signatures included were from the National Lawyers Guild, the center for Constitutional Rights, the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, Greenpeace USA, Color of Change, and Veterans for Peace.
The collective reveals that there is an important historical example for this type of investigation. During the late eighties, it was uncovered that the FBI had orchestrated a “counterterrorism” campaign against the peaceful activist group the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, who adamantly opposed the United States funding and arming the extreme repressive ARENA government during the civil war in El Salvador.
This led to a report about the FBI surveillance being released in 1989. After COINTELPRO was revealed to the public it put pressure on Congress to start its own investigation with the Church and Pike Committees used as tools. Later Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Photo by Sam Felder
The letter states “Surveillance of First Amendment-protected activities has a chilling effect on free speech and civil society. Individuals who may otherwise express their views freely may refrain from participating in demonstrations or political organizations if they believe they will be monitored by law enforcement or intelligence agencies. It is also detrimental to free expression for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to conflate activism with terrorism. Labeling activism as terrorism criminalizes political dissent. Given the current political climate and draconian laws concerning terrorism, individuals may be deterred from participating in completely lawful speech, such as a protest march, by this stigma.”
A valiant step with the usage of the ‘address of grievances’ that has been drawn up like a number of fiery spears being propelled at the elected few. A continued barrage from different activists joining together and agreeing on the most important issue of all that is Freedom, is the ultimate weapon to achieve it.
By Andre’ Gabriel Esparza – DontComply.com
A Pro Liberty, Pro Freedom, Human Rights Activist, very involved in a wide variety of Activism and Exposing the Truth at all costs.
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