MINNEAPOLIS — Some 30 people attended a Militant Labor Forum here May 20, “Oppose Government Spying and Harassment; Defend Political Freedoms Under Assault.” The speakers were Leah Fifield, from the Uhuru Solidarity Movement; Cynthia Wilson, president of the Minneapolis NAACP; and Kevin Dwire for the Socialist Workers Party. Gabrielle Prosser, SWP candidate for City Council Ward 11 here, chaired the meeting.
Fifield spoke about state-sanctioned attacks on and the arrests of leaders of the Uhuru Movement and the African People’s Socialist Party. She said her group “is an organization of white people who work under the leadership of the Black-led and Black-created APSP and Uhuru Movement chaired by Omali Yeshitela.”
She described the July 2022 pre-dawn FBI raids on the APSP in St. Petersburg, Florida, and St. Louis. Yeshitela and other party members were handcuffed with assault rifles pointed at them. The FBI used flash-bang grenades, drones and a battering ram to break down doors and windows, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage, and stole personal and political property.
Members of the APSP and Uhuru Movement were indicted in April and charged with being unregistered agents of a foreign government, namely Russia.
Fifield urged forum participants to get the word out on these attacks. She said the latest information and a way to donate to the legal defense fund is on their website at www.handsoffuhuru.org.
Cynthia Wilson, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, described a federal lawsuit her organization has filed against the Minneapolis Police Department for using fake social media accounts to keep tabs on and criticize Black community leaders.
She explained Minneapolis officers posed as Black community members to criticize city officials and members of the NAACP, dirty tricks that weren’t part of any legitimate investigation. She said the cops used the accounts to track the activity of Minneapolis NAACP members and to push racist stereotypes about Black people. This operation took place between 2010 and 2020.
“We are all here for defense of democratic rights,” SWP speaker Kevin Dwire said. Quoting from the SWP’s resolution and new book The Low Point of Labor Resistance Is Behind Us, he explained, “Defending and extending the freedoms protected by the U.S. Constitution is at the center of the class struggle today.”
Dwire said the African People’s Socialist Party was under attack for its political views and to set a precedent. He said the Democratic Party is the leading force in assaulting constitutional freedoms, noting the Minneapolis mayor, liberal Democrat Jacob Frey, is backing the police against the NAACP lawsuit.
Dwire pointed to the photo on the forum’s flyer showing FBI agents raiding the SWP headquarters here in 1941 and described the historic victory won in the SWP’s political and legal campaign against decades of FBI spying and disruption. This helped push back government assaults on our rights.
Today, he said, Democrats and Republicans — each in their own way — are pushing to refurbish the image of the rulers’ political police for use against working-class fights and political struggles to come.
Dwire demanded the government drop the charges against the APSP and the Uhuru Movement and urged meeting participants to support the NAACP in its lawsuit and stand together to support anyone whose rights come under attack by the government.
A lively discussion followed. “If you’re being spied on you must be doing something right!” one participant commented.
Edwin Fruit, SWP City Council candidate for Ward 1, said FBI spying and harassment goes back to the late 1930s when, on the eve of Washington’s entry into the second imperialist world war, the Franklin Roosevelt administration tasked the FBI with being the rulers’ political police. He noted that the FBI’s armed raid on former President Donald Trump’s estate in Florida occurred around the same time as the raid on the APSP.
It doesn’t matter if you agree with Trump or not, he said, stand up for anyone unconstitutionally targeted by the U.S. political police, regardless of their political views, as “the ultimate target is the working class.”