Throughout the year, we’ve carried stories at WB about the FANG Collective, a radical direct action group taking on environmental racism, ecological destruction, and terrorism of immigrants by ICE.
Recently, the FBI approached one of our members at their home and attempted to question them about their political views and their involvement in social justice efforts. This is not the first time that activists in the Providence area have been targeted by the FBI, and we do not expect it to be the last. It is critical that people know their rights in these situations, and be prepared.
Across the country the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have been increasingly targeting people involved in the movement to resist, shut down and abolish ICE. FANG has experienced this from the FBI and also from the Bristol County Sheriff’s Department which has survielled and followed our members.
For example at the recent court case of Sherrie Andre in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Bristol County Sheriffs could be seen in the courthouse identifying FANG members to court officers. The court officers then aggressively and violently removed Sherrie’s supporters from the court.
We want to make sure that people in our community, activists or not, are aware of their rights with the FBI and other agents of the state, including police. You do not have to speak with them or let them into your home if they do not have a warrant. They CAN and WILL lie to you to coerce you into giving them information and access. However, if you lie to them, or say something that is perceived as false, you could be charged with a crime. It is safest to not speak to them at all.
Here are some resources with more information about what to do if the FBI or other law enforcement agency approaches you:
- Know your rights guide from the National Lawyers Guild
- Know your rights guide from the Council on American-Islamic Relations
- Know your rights guide from the ACLU
In addition to these resources, we feel it is important for individuals to reflect on their personal and inter-generational history and identities to determine how they would respond to the police and figure out the best plan for them, their families, and communities. It’s important to recognize that while you have rights when dealing with law enforcement, they can and will violate those rights.
It is also critically important to know the history of the FBI’s efforts to suppress and disrupt social justice movements.
The FBI was established in 1908 and by the 1940’s was fully enforcing the United State’s ideology of white supremacy. During the onset of America’s involvement in World War Two, the FBI arrested 5500 Japanese Americans and searched hundreds of homes. When the United States began the racist internment policy, it was the FBI that enforced the policy and arrested Japanese Americans who did not volunteer to enter the internment camps.
After World War Two, the FBI began the “sexual deviants program” that worked to purge any LGBTQ people from the federal government. Then in 1956 the FBI launched the Counter Intelligence Program, or COINTELPRO, which targeted the civil rights and black power movements, the American Indian Movement, anti-capitalist organizations, antiwar groups and any and all groups that were fighting for social justice. The FBI inflamed intergroup conflicts and surveilled, intimidated and ultimately assassinated members of these groups.
The racist legacy of the FBI’s suppression of social justice movements continues to this day. With the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement came more targeted FBI surveillance and violence. In 2018 the FBI raided the apartment of Rakem Balogun at gun point and detained him for nearly six months on “domestic terrorism” charges after Rakem made posts on social media critical of police brutality. The FBI has also targeted environmental activists and land defenders. During the anti-DAPL protests at Standing Rock, an FBI informant began a romantic relationship with the water protector Red Fawn, ultimately setting her up to be arrested. Red Fawn is now serving a five year prison sentence. You can support Red Fawn here.
This traumatic history is reflective of the violence that the colonial American government inflicts on communities of color, indigenous people and working class communities every day.
State Repression in Florida
As we wrote this statement we also heard that our friends in Florida are also facing state repression as they fight to resist ICE.
On Friday night an activist in Florida was arrested at their home and is facing new felony charges related to a direct action at the GEO Group headquarters in Boca Raton. GEO Group is a private, for profit prison company that also runs ICE detention centers. In December nine people were arrested after blockading the entrances to GEO’s headquarters.
Despite the state’s efforts to stop us, we will continue our efforts to #ShutDownICE and support those most impacted by state violence.
We will be in touch soon with more updates,
– The FANG Collective
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