Just days before Socialist Saturday (see #hashtags below), a series of union-related events are beginning to become large enough of an embarrassment to the Obama administration that they may be hard for the media to ignore any longer.
With the abrupt departure of SEIU über-boss Andy Stern, the rejection (and subsequent departure) of his hand-chosen successor, Anna Burger, the President’s friends at the Service Employees International Union have been increasing their media presence lately—and not necessarily in a good way.
Federal agents searched homes of anti-war activists in Chicago and Minneapolis on Friday in an investigation of possible links with terrorist organizations in the Middle East and South America.
About 20 FBI agents spent most of the day searching the Logan Square residence of activists Stephanie Weiner and Joseph Iosbaker, Weiner said.
In Jefferson Park, neighbors saw FBI agents carrying boxes from the apartment of community activist Hatem Abudayyeh, executive director of the Arab American Action Network. In addition, Chicago activist Thomas Burke said he was served a grand jury subpoena that requested records of any payments to Abudayyeh or his group.
“The warrants are seeking evidence in support of an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism,” said Steve Warfield, spokesman for the FBI in Minneapolis, where six additional homes were searched Friday.
If you don’t see the connection yet, try this:
Weiner, who said she and her husband for years have been active in labor causes and the anti-war movement, complained the search was an attempt to intimidate her and other activists.
“We aren’t doing anything differently than we have in 20 years,” said Weiner, a teacher at Wilbur Wright College. Iosbaker is a staff member at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a union steward for Service Employees International Union Local 73.
Burke said he received a grand jury subpoena requesting records of payments to Abudayyeh’s organization as well as two groups among the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The subpoena also requested “items relating to trips to Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian territories of Israel.” Burke said he toured Colombia eight years ago with members of an oil workers union there.
Burke, a former school custodian-turned-stay-at-home father, belongs to the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, a group mentioned in subpoenas and search warrants issued Friday to activists in Minneapolis.
Burke said he knows Weiner, Iosbaker and Abudayyeh from years of involvement in demonstrations and activities in Chicago. Most of the people whose homes were searched or who were issued subpoenas attended anti-war rallies at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., he said.
Actually, Joe Isobaker is a bit more than a SEIU “steward” as described above, he’s an active Chief Steward with the 24,000-member SEIU Local 73 and is an activist, as well as writer for Fight Back magazine, a Marxist magazine that states [emphasis added]:
We are not “neutral” or “even-handed” in our coverage. We are opposed to exploitation, discrimination, and oppression. We hold that the rich class of people who run the economy and government of this country are unfit to rule. We support all movements that challenge their power and privilege.
The writers and staff of Fight Back! are activists and organizers – in the trade unions, low-income community, oppressed nationality movements, on the campuses, and in other people’s movements. We welcome articles, letters, comments and criticisms. Some of us working to put out this paper are members of Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
We are Marxist-Leninists who believe that capitalism—as a system centered on private accumulation and profit—is inherently a system of inequality, injustice, and war. We want a social system where social wealth is not in the hands of a few billionaires, but is controlled by the people. We seek both economic and political democracy. However, genuine democracy is not possible unless the multi-national working class holds the reins of society. Human needs cannot replace profit as the driving force of society unless the people control their workplaces, their schools, their neighborhoods, and the institutions of government.
We support the existing socialist countries and believe that socialism is the only solution for the future of humanity. However, we recognize that major contradictions exist in building socialism. We continue to look to both the summations of socialists around the world and to our own practice to deepen Marxist-Leninist theory and practice to guide us in making revolutionary change here in the United States.
On March 20, 2010, Sundin, “an important organizer of the anti-war movement,” led “protests against the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
In January 2009, Sundin, Tracy Molm (University of Minnesota Students for a Democratic Society) and Sarah Martin (Grandmothers for Peace and Women Against Military Madness) were among seven antiwar protesters acquitted on charges of trespassing in March 2008 at a Minneapolis National Guard recruiting office.
Jess Sundin, a defendant who has traveled to Iraq, described conversations with an Iraqi man who was later killed by U.S. soldiers. Her testimony also criticized deceptive recruiting practices meant to entice low income youth with promises of financial rewards and career advancement.“The reality is that less than one third of National Guard soldiers [ever] receive money for college,” said Sundin. “Veterans make only 85 cents for every dollar that non-veterans make. And one third of all homeless people are veterans. Recruits are being lied to.”
On October 18, 2008, Sundin and Burke were the speakers for FRSO’s National Conference, “War, Socialism and the People’s Struggle.”
The event announcement promised: “We will also be talking about how to build a revolutionary media that serves the people, grassroots organizing, building a revolutionary organization and the direction for the people’s struggle in 2009.”
Another union member whose home was Meredith Aby, a teacher in the social studies department at Jefferson High School in Bloomington, MN. As a member of both the FRSO as well as the Bloomington Federation of Teachers, Aby is also a member of the FRSO and an advisor to the school’s Debate and Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR) clubs.
[Via RBO] Aby has taught an AP U.S. Government course at JHS.
Students will examine who governs and to what ends with an ethical lens emphasizing citizenship, integrity, and responsibility. Students will evaluate the government’s decisions and institutions in relation to the students’ ethical criteria.Students will develop criteria for evaluating public policy choices and through the use of oral and written language develop the ability to synthesize social science data to support a coherent argument.
Students will identify important political, social, and economic issues in American life and evaluate the impact of these issues on American political processes and institutions through time.
Readings for the course include those by historian and Socialist Charles Beard and New Left mentor, C. Wright Mills.
On May 18, 2010, Aby was arrested in a Saint Paul “protest at the office of U.S. Representative Betty McCollum to demand that she vote against a $33 billion request for additional funding for the war in Afghanistan.” Aby and five others “refused to leave the office after McCollum would not meet with the delegation.
Despite the revolutionary goals of these Marxist-Leninist activists and the FRSO’s links, the radicals are maintaining that they are the victims of an oppressive government. In other words, they are being victimized by the FBI for doing nothing more than engaging in peaceful protests.
So, like any good activists are wont to do when feeling oppressed (or when caffeine-deprived), they are planning to protest their oppression.
Hard to Control the Anger?
Several protesters plan to demonstrate at FBI and federal buildings in Chicago and Minneapolis today and Tuesday, according to activists. This comes after FBI raids made here and Minneapolis in an effort to find possible terrorist connections.
“It’s hard to control the anger that we feel, ” said Joe Iosbaker who said a search of his home by the FBI Friday was an attempt to intimidate him and his wife and silence the peace movement.
[Somehow, we don’t think Mr. Isobaker’s and his revolutionary friends are going to be silenced at all.]
With incidents of radical union activists supporting socialist revolution, allegedly engaging in forgery and fraud to potentially steal elections, it reminds Americans that there are radical Marxist-Leninists throughout the country who are members of the peace movement, the union movement (working in schools and universities), and all of them are working very hard to “transform America.”
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