3/6/2003 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Homeland Security or the New McCarthyism?
  • Strib: Expert Identifies Extreme Groups in State

HOMELAND SECURITY OR THE NEW MCCARTHYISM?
During a talk earlier this week on "Understanding Terrorism in Minnesota," Hennepin County Sheriff's Department Capt. Bill Chandler lumped a number of progressive organizations including anti-racist and anti-war groups in with known terrorist organizations such as the KKK and militia cells. He referred to an animal rights and an environmental group as "more dangerous in Minnesota than Al-Qaida" (see the article below).

This attack on progressive groups, who engage in First-amendment protected activities, is outrageous! That a law enforcement officer would spread such false information (and that the Strib would report it as factual) is a serious sign that progressive movements and people are once again being watched and will soon be targeted for repression based solely on their politics. We must unite to quickly and powerfully resist this dangerous attack.

What you can do to help:
1) Attend a press conference being held by Anti-Racist Action, Students Against War and others on Monday, March 10th, 11:00 a.m. at the State Capitol. State Rep. Keith Ellison is expected to announce a new anti-McCarthyism bill he will be introducing to the legislature.

2) Email a short (one or two paragraph) letter to the editor of the Star-Tribune about the information in the article below. We need to create a sense among the editors that a lot of folks are outraged by these false allegations. You can drop a quick email letter to opinion@startribune.com or fax a letter to 612-673-4359. Please take just five minutes to drop something to them. Even if they don't use it, they will get the message and stop reinforcing cop lies about progressive movements.

3) There will be other actions coming together in the next few days. We'll let you know about them as soon as they are announced.


Expert Identifies Extreme Groups in State
Randy Furst and Mike Kaszuba, Star Tribune
Published March 5, 2003

A Hennepin County sheriff's official with expertise on counterterrorism efforts urged Minnesota law enforcers Tuesday to become aware of several right-and left-wing organizations operating in the state.

"We are not calling any of them terrorists. We call them domestic identified groups that may affect our communities," Capt. Bill Chandler said after giving a presentation to emergency management personnel on "Understanding Terrorism in Minnesota."

Chandler, who heads the patrol division for the Sheriff's Office and frequently gives training talks on countering terrorism, offered details about the number of militia and neo-Nazi groups in Minnesota.

He said that one group, Posse Comitatus, is "very strong in Minnesota" and active in Stearns County, and that two other organizations, the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front, were more dangerous in Minnesota than Al-Qaida.

About 160 law enforcement, fire and other emergency officials from around the state heard Chandler's seminar on the opening day of the annual Governor's Emergency Management Conference at the Radisson Hotel South in Bloomington.

Chandler said afterward that he was unaware of any terrorist cells in Minnesota but that "there is a financial network here that is supporting terrorism overseas. It's a safe community. We can't let our guard down because I know they're among us."

Chandler told the seminar crowd that there are six neo-Nazi groups in Minnesota. He said there was a "strong group in Minneapolis" and groups in Grove City, Park Rapids and Hutchinson. He said one group, the National Socialist Movement, has a national commander in Litchfield.

Chandler said another neo-Nazi group, Aryan Nation -- which has been involved in hate crimes -- has a presence in New Brighton and St. Paul. Two Christian identity groups that are part of the radical right are operating in Apple Valley and Albert Lea, he said.

Chandler also cited "neo-Confederate" groups, which he described as much less violent.

Joseph Peschek, chairman of the Political Science Department at Hamline University, said in an interview that it appeared that authorities were painting extremist groups with a very broad brush.

"You have groups on the left and right that use very different tactics," Peschek said. "These may all be radical or extremist groups, but their connection to terrorism in any meaningful sense is a bit cloudy to me."

Chandler said that 43 racist skinhead groups exist in the United States, and that while there are no actual groups in the Twin Cities, there are some smaller groups and "wannabes."

Chandler also listed a number of antiracism action groups that he said are violent, anti-government and protest the Ku Klux Klan. He said they had connections to Arise, a Minneapolis group that has affiliations with anarchist organizations. There are no Klan groups in Minnesota, he said.

Chandler said there are a number of militia movement groups in the state that are extremely strong, especially outstate. He said one group met with the FBI and gave the agency information about its weapons. He said the group told the FBI that when things go bad in Minnesota, the FBI is welcome to join with them.

Chandler cited several left-wing groups, "mainly" of anarchists who don't like the government or anything that hurts the environment. He said the groups have used "direct action," and he listed a Twin Cities group that has national ties, the Ruckus Society.

He said the most dangerous groups, with a national base, were the Animal Liberation Front, which supports animal rights and damages property, and the Earth Liberation Front, which has a "strong violence component" and "doesn't care who they injure."

Chandler also mentioned "pro-life and pro-choice movements" that he said have become more violent because of actions on both sides. He did not give details on the groups.

He said that a group at the University of Minnesota, Students Against War, was organizing a walkout of classes if war breaks out with Iraq, with plans to leave cars in city intersections to create gridlock.

"You're kidding me? Wow," Nathan Mittelstaedt, an organizer for Students Against War, said in reaction. "It's pretty disheartening to be listed with some of those groups. . . . I'm kind of shocked at this."

Mittelstaedt, a political science major, said the group formed after the Sept. 11 attacks in response to U.S. military action in Afghanistan. The group, he said, generally draws 15 to 25 people to its meetings and is part of a coalition organizing a student walkout should U.S. forces invade Iraq.

Bob Cahill of Arise Bookstore on Lyndale Avenue S. in Minneapolis said that the bookstore has rented space to Anti-Racism Action (ARA), but that neither group had terrorist links. ARA and (at least indirectly) Arise Bookstore were named at Tuesday's meeting. "Arise wouldn't align itself with any violent tactics," he said.

"Any group like ARA, if they had a meeting here, they wouldn't [represent Arise] . . . at all," he said.

-- The writers are at rfurst@startribune.com and mkaszuba@startribune.com


Communities United Against Police Brutality
2104 Stevens Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)


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