About 350 anti-war activists, clergy members and trade union members demonstrated Monday outside the FBI’s Chicago headquarters and condemned federal authorities for their raids last week of the homes of activists in Chicago and Minneapolis.
Signs read “Freedom to Dissent” and “One Nation Under Surveillance.” Others chanted into bullhorns, “Freedom of speech under attack/What do we do?/Stand up, fight back!”
“It’s not just our family. It’s not just those that got the knock on Friday. It’s not just the many, many movement activists that are here today,” said Stephanie Weiner, whose home in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood was the subject of a search warrant Friday.
Weiner and her husband, Joseph Iosbaker, were among several activists whose homes were searched in the two cities in an investigation into possible domestic links with alleged terrorist organizations. Authorities also searched each of their sons’ bedrooms, including the room of Tre Iosbaker, 17, who attended the rally in support of his parents.
The FBI also searched the Jefferson Park home of Hatem Abudayyeh, executive director of the Arab American Action Network.
Subpoenas issued to other activists sought records detailing their travel to countries in the Middle East and South America, as well as records of donations to Abudayyeh’s group and two groups on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.
Special Agent Ross Rice, a Chicago-based FBI spokesman, has declined to discuss details of the investigation. But he has noted that judges reviewed the warrants and found probable cause.
Jim Fennerty, an attorney representing Abudayyeh, who is an American of Palestinian descent, said Monday that lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild will represent those who are being investigated.
Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Monday that the investigation into Abudayyeh’s organization was “a waste of taxpayer dollars.”
“Hatem is a longtime, respected leader in the community. It is unthinkable that he would have any connections to terrorism,” Rehab said. “This is a new low. … This is an example of FBI overreach when it comes to activism or commentary on the (Middle East) conflict.”
The Arab American Action Network has received federal block grants for training programs offered at its 63rd Street headquarters, according to its Web site, and offers assistance with citizenship, English classes and after-school programs.
Several of the people whose homes were searched or who were issued subpoenas are members of the Chicago-based Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
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