We just got word from our allies at the Arab American Action Network that on Monday, June 26th, the FBI attempted to enter the homes of two Arab community activists in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. Neither was home at the time, but the FBI agents nevertheless began asking family members questions about them, and left their business cards to have the activists call them back.
The activists’ family members refused to answer any questions, and were advised by the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) to contact the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) immediately. Defending Rights & Dissent applauds the family members for refusing to speak with FBI agents, and joins the AAAN denouncing this attempt at harassment and intimidation.
We remind all community members: Don’t Talk to the FBI!
Although you may know you have nothing to hide, you do not know what information the FBI is seeking, or even if you are the target of their interest. You have the right, and the responsibility toward your community, to remain silent. Read here, here, and here why this rule is so important. The AAAN warns of the stakes:
These FBI visits to community members and activists have always been routine, but now, with the Trump administration in power, and with his fellow racist, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as head of the Department of Justice (DOJ), it becomes even more important to remember that we have the constitutional right to remain silent, and should always utilize that right when visited by the FBI or other law enforcement agencies.
Chicago area activists and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, South Asian community members should be especially vigilant, given the FBI visits yesterday. If you are contacted by the FBI or other law enforcement, you should refuse to answer questions and IMMEDIATELY call the NLG-Chicago hotline at 312-913-0039. After you speak to the NLG, please contact AAAN at email@example.com , as they are tracking these incidents.
If you don’t live in Chicago, your best bet is to call the local chapter of the NLG or the ACLU. OR, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll connect you to a trusted local ally.
In addition, Palestine Legal, which focuses specifically on defending the rights of those active in Palestine support work, has published an important legal and tactical guide to human rights advocacy in the U.S. Youth activists with the AAAN also produced this popular video in 2012, reminding community members of their rights when approached by the FBI.
FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) intimidation tactics are not new to Arab, Muslim, South Asian, Black, and Latino communities, which have been the most affected by U.S. law enforcement’s techniques of widespread surveillance, entrapment, and harassment, especially since 9/11. The DOJ and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will continue to come after those who are doing effective and impactful work, as well as those specifically targeted by Trump’s racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia. But we have rights that must be known, learned, and defended.
Please be vigilant by reading the above documents, distributing them far and wide, and watching and studying the AAAN video.
Don’t Talk to the FBI!
The Arab American Action Network is based in Chicago