[Marxism] FBI Harassing Protesters

Scotlive at aol.com Scotlive at aol.com
Tue Aug 17 15:30:11 MDT 2004


Gary Younge in New York
Tuesday August 17, 2004
The Guardian 

The FBI has questioned dozens of demonstrators planning to come to New York 
for the Republican convention later this month and encouraged agents to scour 
protest groups for evidence of any planned disruptions. 
In a nationwide move that civil rights advocates called "chilling", the FBI 
has drawn up a list of people it intends to question because they may have 
information about possible violence. 
In Missouri, three unnamed young men have been subpoenaed and informed that 
they are part of a domestic terrorism investigation, although their lawyer says 
the police have not told them on what grounds. 
"It is part of a national effort to chill dissent in this country," said 
William Dobbs, the spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, which is planning 
to stage week-long demonstrations in New York during the convention. "And it is 
always a worry that this kind of intimidation will scare some people off." 
The FBI says it is concentrating on possible crimes rather than trying to 
quash dissent. Most interrogations have centred on whether violent demonstrations 
are planned. 
"The FBI isn't in the business of 'chilling' anyone's first amendment 
rights," FBI spokesman Joe Parris told the New York Times, referring to the right to 
free speech and free assembly enshrined in the US constitution. 
"But criminal behaviour isn't covered by the first amendment. What we're 
concerned about are injuries to convention participants, injuries to citizens, 
injuries to police and first responders." Those planning to protest say the 
interrogations amount to harassment. "The message I took from it was that they were 
trying to intimidate us into not going to any protests and to let us know 
that 'hey, we're watching you'," said Sarah Bardwell, an intern at an anti-war 
group in Denver. 
Last year Denver police agreed to restrict intelligence-gathering after it 
was revealed that they kept files on 3,000 people and 200 groups. 
"This kind of pressure has a real chilling effect on perfectly legitimate 
political activity," said Mark Silverstein, legal director for the American Civil 
Liberties Union of Colorado. 
"People are going to be afraid to go to a demonstration or even sign a 
petition if they justifiably believe that will result in your having an FBI file 
opened on you." 



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