Minnesota: FBI investigating abortion rights movement, activists say no
Minneapolis, MN – Around two dozen students, journalists and community members gathered outside the Humphrey School of Public Affairs for June 15 press conference addressing the FBI harassment of SDS organizer Gillian Rath, regarding her activism surrounding abortion rights, including the SDS campaign in opposition to government-funded and predatory “crisis pregnancy centers.”
The FBI called Rath several times last week. This FBI harassment of a student organizer is especially troubling given the FBI’s long history of infiltrating and disrupting organizations in student movements stretching back to the 1960s, when student activism took off in response to the Vietnam War and Civil Rights movement. The FBI’s harassment of Rath represents a larger pattern of state repression of progressive activism – further demonstrated by the bogus arrest and brutalization of the Tampa 5.
Local organizer Jess Sundin, speaking as a member of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, made an important point about the FBI harassment and right-wing politics: “Republicans in DC have been calling for the FBI to criminalize this organizing. These are political decisions, and we are here to say no more.” Sundin also drew a connection between the repression faced by student activists like Gillian Rath and the Tampa 5 and her own experience with state repression. Thirteen years ago, the FBI raided the homes of anti-war activists across the country and attempted to bring up bogus charges against them. Just as that unjust attack on the freedom of speech was resisted then, the same attacks are being resisted now.
Sundin stressed that activists should never talk to the FBI.
Ashley Taylor-Gouge spoke on behalf of the Minnesota Abortion Action Committee (MNAAC), expanding on their campaign against predatory crisis pregnancy centers, which are backed by the forces of the religious right and, until recently, received funding from the Minnesota state government. This recent defunding is a major victory won by MNAAC and organizers working to defend abortion rights. Taylor-Gouge stated, “Every time that people rise up to fight back against injustice, we should expect the state to respond with attempts to silence us.”
Rath spoke about her experience with FBI harassment. She drew connections between what has happened to her and the situation of the Tampa 5 in Florida: “This is a direct attack on social movements.”
These instances of state repression of organizers show that the ruling class recognizes the threat that the people’s movements have to their stranglehold on power, and is using every tool at their disposal, from FBI harassment to political arrests in an attempt to suppress the people.
But Rath states, “They see that we will not back down and we will not stand for political repression by the state. Because when they threaten us with arrests, like happened recently here with the UMPD, charges with felonies, or have the FBI harass us, we will just persist and come back stronger.”