Washington, DC – Today, the Bill of Rights of Rights Defense Committee & Defending Dissent Foundation (BORDC & DDF), American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Council on American Islamic Relations, and Democratic Socialists of America delivered the signatures of 88,000 Americans to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees demanding an investigation of FBI and DHS spying on the Black Lives Matter movement, anti-pipeline activists, Occupy Wall Street and other movements for social change. A letter calling for an investigation signed by 131 civil society groups was also delivered.
The petition was also promoted by CREDO Action, which collected over 68,000 signatures, and Demand Progress and Roots Action. “The sheer number of Americans who signed this petition, as well as, the range of civil society organizations that have called on Congress to investigate the FBI shows that this is an issue of concern to anyone engaged in political activity,” said BORDC & DDF Policy and Legislative Counsel Chip Gibbons.
Evidence of improper spying has come to light in recent months and years in documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act and media reports. The School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch), a peace and human rights group, was infiltrated and under surveillance for nearly ten years, although the FBI repeatedly concluded the group had “peaceful intentions.” National SOA Watch organizer Hendrik Voss has been active in the campaign to demand an investigation. “The spying on political groups like SOA Watch, Black Lives Matter, and Occupy unmasks the true nature of the FBI as a political police, whose role is to defend the status quo against political dissent,” Voss said.
OUR Walmart, which organizes Walmart workers, was also the target of an improper investigation. “When Walmart workers like me started speaking out, Walmart considered it enough of a threat that they hired military contractor Lockheed Martin, contacted the FBI, and monitored our activities,” said OUR Walmart leader Cynthia Murray, who works at the Laurel, MD Walmart. “No worker anywhere should be spied on for simply speaking up for a living wage. That’s why we won’t let Walmart intimidate us from continuing our stand up for $15 an hour, full-time hours, and being treated with respect.”
“All over the country, when I meet with grassroots activists they almost always without exception express concern about infiltration and monitoring of their peaceful political activities,” Gibbons explains, “Americans should not fear they will be spied on for participating in their democracy and Congress must listen to the people and act now.”
More details on FBI and DHS political spying is available at bordc.org/investigate-the-fbi
Attributable Quotes in Support of the Petition and letter
“Our union knows all too well the tremendous damage done to democracy, people’s lives, and the living conditions of the American people when U.S. government agencies are allowed to interfere with First Amendment rights. We fully support a thorough investigation of our government spying upon and infiltrating U.S. organizations carrying out lawful political activity,” said United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE) Vice President Carl Rosen
“The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and liberties organization, stands with the seventy-five thousand Americans calling on the U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committees to immediately investigate and hold congressional hearings on alleged FBI and DHS abuse of counterterrorism resources to spy on the First Amendment protected activities of civically engaged American citizens lawfully organizing, rallying and petitioning their government,” said CAIR Director of Government Affairs Department Robert S. McCaw.
“Dissent is not the enemy of democracy. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security should not use their counterterrorism authorities to spy on domestic protest movements and activist networks. Congress must take immediate action to rein in these blatant abuses of power.” – Demand Progress’ Kate Kizer
“Five years after we occupied Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, the problems of corruption in our government, rule by Wall Street and growing wealth inequality persist. The government has failed to address these injustices. It is time for Congress to investigate spying on peaceful demonstrators and make sure that our rights to political free speech are respected and protected,” said Popular Resistance Co-Director and Maryland Green Party US Senate Candidate Margaret Flowers
“Isn’t it funny how even the stripping away of our freedoms is defended as being done in the name of “Freedom”? If the emperor is ever spotted as having no clothes, he will probably have an FBI badge pinned to his skin,” said RootsAction.org Campaign Coordinator David Swanson