FBI raids on local activists

This weekend’s big news began Friday, with the FBI carrying out six search warrants in Minneapolis and Chicago, as reported by KARE11. The KARE11 story points out that two of the people served were peace activists, Mick Kelly and Jess Sundin. What were the warrants? They were “part of an ongoing joint terrorism task force investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism.” What were they looking for? “[P]ointy things,” Sundin said.

And, after that, the deluge, first from the local media. Mara H. Gottfried and David Hanners of the Pioneer Press looked into who else was served with warrants. There was Meredith Aby, who, with Kelly and Sundin, had organized a march on the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, and all were planning another march on the Democratic National Convention, were it to happen here. They had sought permits for this march, something, Sundin said, “I don’t think terrorists would do.”

Who else? According to the Associated Press, a warrant was served on Joe Iosbaker and his wife, Stephanie Weiner. According to the AP story, “Warrants suggest agents were looking for connections between local anti-war activists and groups in Colombia and the Middle East,” but the couple’s attorney, Melinda Power, has a different explanation: “These are people committed to social justice … That is not a crime in this country.

Nobody was arrested, and the FBI has been vague about what they were looking for — the activists they targeted do have histories of working with organizations that travel abroad and provide support to organizations in other countries, although all claim that this has been done with the utmost transparency and their relationships have been with peace organizations internationally, not terrorist groups. Sometimes it’s just not easy to be an activist. Take the case of Lucinda Naylor, who has been working as the artist-in-residence at the Basilica of St. Mary. As reported by Hart Van Denburg of City Pages, Naylor was troubled by the local Catholic Archdiocese sending out hundreds of thousands of DVDs in opposition to gay marriage. She requested that those who received DVDs donate them to her, and she would turn them into a sculpture. She was then suspended from her position. “I knew it was coming,” she said. “But I was surprised at the speed.” She intends to go ahead with the project and created a Facebook page in support of it.

According to OutFront Minnesota Executive Director Monica Meyer, there is no accident in the timing of these DVDs. Quoted by Minnesota Independent’s Andy Birkey, Meyer says, “Using the lives of GLBT people, immigrants, and poor people to provoke fear and advance a political agenda is a time-honored tradition among those whose vision for Minnesota is based on exclusion, marginalization, and demagoguery. It is shameful for a religious institution to stoop to such tactics when there are so many real, pressing issues facing people daily.” Meyer stops short of naming who the Archdiocese might be supporting with this gesture, but there is only one of the three major gubernatorial candidates who stands in clear opposition to gay marriage: GOP candidate Tom Emmer.

Emmer hasn’t been discussing gay marriage much. Instead, he’s been complaining about local government aid, which he means to slash. “I don’t know how many of your viewers understand that only about half the cities in this state get any local government aid, and frankly only a handful get the lion’s share,” he said in a debate on Sept. 17. Catharine Richert of Minnesota Public Radio took a look at that claim. and concluded that “There’s little truth” to it. About 85 percent of communities get government aid. Additionally, if you break down the way the money is doled our on a per capita basis, “some of the state’s smallest towns are getting the most money per person.”

When we last checked the polls, Emmer and DFL candidate Mark Dayton were neck and neck, but a new Star Tribune poll has Dayton ahead by 9 points. As detailed by the Independent’s Andy Birkey, the poll has Dayton ahead — 39 points to Emmer’s 30 points — with IP candidate trailing distantly at 18 percent. Also worth noting: Horner’s votes are taking the largest bite out of possible support for Dayton — were he not in the race, Dayton would be polling at 49 percent while Emmer would get 38 percent.

Weirdly, despite Horner trailing in the polls, as he has since the start of this thing, the media are still tickled by the idea of him winning. “Can Horner win? DFL, GOP opponents are acting like it,” declares an article by MPR’s Mark Zdechlik; “Polarized Minnesota gov’s race leaves opening for indie,” writes the AP; they also put out a story titled “Third-party nominees could swing outcome in tight governors and congressional races this fall.” Say, that would be fun! And all it depends on is if Horner can double his support in the next month.

In arts: As it turns out, Minnesota is home to the largest collection of material related to the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, thanks to the University of Minnesota (here’s the website of the collection). Actually, we’ve also been home to Sherlock Holmes himself, thanks to author Larry Millett, who put out a series of novels that had the British sleuth investigating crimes at places like the Ice Palace and the Kensington Rune Stone’s home — one is surprised Millett didn’t take that sort of extreme regionalism a step further and actually have Holmes do his sleuthing in Millett’s bathroom or sock drawer. Anyway, the Poking Around With Mary blog points out another Holmes/Minnesota event, which is directly connected to the U of M’s collection: First, there is an exhibit called “The Spirits of Sherlock Holmes,” at The Andersen Library, which will “explore the many meanings of the word ‘spirits’ and how they relate to Sherlock Holmes.” Also at the event, according to the event’s web page: “items from the collection of the late Allen Mackler, whose replica of the sitting room at 221B Baker Street is on permanent display adjacent to the exhibit gallery.” We all knew about the replica sitting room, didn’t we?

In sports: Twins’ outfielder Jason Repko got hit by a baseball this weekend. Also, Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire got hit by a baseball. A man in a deerstalker hat was seen investigating, muttering something about conspiracy, a master criminal named Professor Moriarty, and how sick he was of Minnesota.

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Comments (19)

  1. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 09/27/2010 - 10:34 am.

    On this morning’s Democracy Now program, Amy Goodman interviews Jess Sundin of Minneapolis, Joe Iosbaker of Chicago and former FBI agent Colleen Rowley. Sundin, Iosbaker and others have been subpoenad to appear before a Chicago grand jury.

    They have not been charged with any crimes, but the FBI is looking for evidence of their “material support for terrorism” in their computers, cell phones, and tons of other personal belongings taken from their homes.

    The program will be repeated at 4:00pm on St. Paul Neighborhood Network’s (SPNN) cable channel 15 and at 10:00pm in Minneapolis (for which I don’t know the channel number).

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/27/2010 - 10:59 am.

    Say bunny?

    While we acknowledge polinaut’s contribution to lweftist stress relief, the thoughtful reader might appreciate the application of a few facts regarding LGA.

    As detailed by Shot In The Dark’s Mitch Berg, where Emmer garbled the LGA fine print, he nailed the story.


    Now that I’ve helped clarify things for you, I wonder if you could explain what Lucinda meant by; “I knew it was coming,” she said. “But I was surprised at the speed.”?

    She was thumbing her nose at her employer, did she expect they’d file an environmental impact report first, or what?

  3. Submitted by Joe Schweigert on 09/27/2010 - 11:19 am.

    The recent FBI raids demonstrate how critically important it is to be vigilant about the reach of government via the war on terror. Of all the discussion recently on the size of government, it is distressing that the reach of security personnel is never brought up.

  4. Submitted by Michael Hunt on 09/27/2010 - 12:16 pm.

    “But I was surprised at the speed.” If only they could have dealt with the Pedophiles with such speed.

  5. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/27/2010 - 12:31 pm.

    “If only they could have dealt with the Pedophiles with such speed.”

    Would have prevented approx. 75% of the grief if they’d have concentrated on the pederasts, but I’m with ya anyway, Mike.

  6. Submitted by Rich Crose on 09/27/2010 - 01:16 pm.

    We’re fighting a war on terror while the Catholic church is fomenting terror. Doesn’t that make the church a terrorist organization?

  7. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/27/2010 - 01:17 pm.

    “But I was surprised at the speed.” Both Mr. Swift and Mr. Hunt seem correct on this one.

    Would that the Church were in a position to offer credible guidance to people regarding sexual activity. Unfortunately, it is not.

    Also unfortunate, Lucinda Naylor’s naivete regarding employment. Artists are sometimes so self-absorbed that – kind of like folks at both political extremes – their encounters with the real world are often disillusioning.

    I stopped listening to radio decades ago, so I’ve missed out completely on MPR, as well as – except for snippets at a Colorado barbershop – Rush Limbaugh.

    Going to the blog Mr. Swift recommends as a corrective to MPR in #2, readers will find an exhaustive examination of which cities are getting LGA money and which aren’t, but not, as far as I could tell, addressing the relevant question of WHY the cities that get no LGA funds are making do without it, or why those that DO receive “the lion’s share” get as much LGA money as they do.

    Are there qualification criteria that those cities don’t meet? Do they spurn the aid on philosophical grounds, as any right-thinking city would do? Are they so affluent that aid from the state isn’t necessary to fund their services and amenities? Plenty of snarky tone in the blog, but an apparent hole in the analysis that doesn’t make Mr. Emmer’s offhanded dismissal of LGA reductions quite as trivial as his supporters might have us believe.

  8. Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/27/2010 - 01:57 pm.

    Re: Emmer, LGA and Shot in the Dark:

    Emmer said “half the cities”, not “half the people.” He was wrong.

    As MPR pointed out, “Local Government Aid was created to help towns with limited tax bases provide services to its residents. Funding is doled out based on a city’s fiscal needs and its ability to pay for them, as well as other factors, including population.” If that is the case, then it only makes sense that some communities aren’t going to receive LGA.

    If Emmer (or anyone else) wants to come at LGA, I suggest he do it accurately and clearly. Waiting for someone else to spin straw into gold isn’t going to cut it.

  9. Submitted by Bruce Hope on 09/27/2010 - 02:14 pm.

    Thomas Swift asserts that 75% of the sexual contact was consensual priest/boy and only 25% priest/boy abuse. Does anyone else find this troubling? If a boy is not legal age then any sexual contact is criminal regardless of intention or willingness. (by the way, whose statistics are these?) Why bother to continue to assert this distinction as if it makes a difference?

  10. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 09/27/2010 - 02:14 pm.

    So.. cases of pedophilia should be dealt with differently (specifically, given a different priority level) depending on the sex of the victim? Just… wow.

  11. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/27/2010 - 03:33 pm.

    Hmmm. So, it’s just as we thought; the leftists that are out there bashing the Catholic church have no “earthly clue” (pun intended) about the subject they’re babbling about.

    Imagine our surprise.

    Pederasty and pedophilia are not the same thing, but consent, or lack of, has nothing to do with either.

    The Archdioces’ CD singles homosexuals out for an unrelated reason, but you all want to bash the church for the despicable history of sexual abuse by priests…but you don’t want to admit the problem overwhelmingly consists of cases of adult, homosexual men abusing adolescent boys.

    Sorry, the facts are not with you.


    James informs us: “Local Government Aid was created to help towns with limited tax bases provide services to its residents.”

    And Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Duluth meet that criteria…how?

  12. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 09/27/2010 - 03:56 pm.

    “And Minneapolis St Paul meet that criteria (for LGA)? How?”

    By having the greatest concentrations of people in poverty, of immigrants struggling to learn English while also seeking employment and a place to live, of school systems drained by Pawlenty’s cuts to LGA — which may not be paid back as soon as promised, with roads and streets and bridges used so heavily that gridlock rules every rush hour and maintenance is needed more frequently, with extensive library services that include introductory computer training, and so on.

  13. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 09/27/2010 - 04:21 pm.

    “Pederasty and pedophilia are not the same thing, but consent, or lack of, has nothing to do with either. ”

    Um… it actually has to do with both. Unless you think an 8-year-old can give consent. And as far as I understand (having just looked them both up to be certain) the only difference is the former singles out the same-sex cases. If that’s a major concern to you in the case of child abuse, I think you should step back and get a little more perspective. And that’s the nice way of putting it.

  14. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 09/27/2010 - 04:24 pm.

    Regarding the recent terrorism on our Civil liberties:

    Just a short time ago a close friend said…”but be glad you live in a country where we can still speak out without fear of retribution.”

    I agreed.

    That was yesterday. This is today.

    I suppose the next step will be FBI recruits being sent to The School of the Americas…then what will tomorrow bring?

  15. Submitted by B Maginnis on 09/27/2010 - 04:35 pm.

    Beryl John:

    National security is Job 1.

  16. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 09/27/2010 - 05:42 pm.

    “The Archdioces’ CD singles homosexuals out for an unrelated reason, but you all want to bash the church for the despicable history of sexual abuse by priests…but you don’t want to admit the problem overwhelmingly consists of cases of adult, homosexual men abusing adolescent boys.”

    The “problem” is that priests have been raping children. The gender of those rape victims is irrelevant. The only issue that matters is consent and the inability of children to legally give consent.

    The criticism of the Archdioces stems not from crimes committed by a small number of priests, but by the complicity and cover-ups by the entire Catholic church. That is the “problem” here.

  17. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/27/2010 - 11:35 pm.

    Let us not forget, as well, that prior to his elevation to Pope the current Pope was the person responsible for setting and enforcing Vatican policies regarding cases of sexual exploitation on the part of priests. It has been documented that Pope Benedict demanded that such cases be kept quiet, the civil authorities not be informed, that investigations by local dioceses of priest they suspected of such abuse be shut down, and that NO priest should be removed from the ranks lest the game be given away.

    The reputation of the church as an institution was regarded by Pope Benedict as far more important than any damage that might have been done to individual boys and girls by pedophile and pederast priests and yes, even when adolescent boys may seem to have consented to sexual involvement with their priests, damage was extremely likely precisely because those priests represented a church whose official policy claimed that such desires were a disorder which, if managed and if the individual never acted on them might be OK, but acting on those desires, even with your priest, was a sure ticket to hell.

    Pope Benedict has made it his aim (as it was also his aim serving under Pope John Paul II) to elevate and appoint only the most conservative priests to positions as Bishops and Cardinals. He is attempting to stamp out all traces of moderation in the leadership of the Catholic Church in America (and as he has already successfully done here in Minnesota).

    But I can’t help but wonder just exactly how much the church’s current leaders reflect Pope Benedict’s perspective on the primacy of the reputation of the church over all other concerns.

    I fear they will seek to convince the faithful and the general public that the problem of abusive priests was not that there was something wrong with the institution that allowed those priests the freedom to abuse massive numbers of children and adolescents, but only that there were homosexual priests within their ranks and that has now been dealt with (by protesting loudly and strongly how vehemently they are opposed to gay marriage, for example).

    I fear, as well, that these same conservative leaders will soon seek to close the books on the entire problem and sweep everything under the rug again, returning to their previous policies and, thereby, guaranteeing a return to the bad old days when the small number of priests who wanted to prey upon the youngsters in their care for their own sexual gratification could do so with impunity.

    When it comes to homosexuality and to DVDs demanding a constitutional ammendment to ban gay marriage in Minnesota, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

  18. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 09/28/2010 - 09:10 am.


    Captain may I…yes you may?

    Shock and Awe; FBI homeboys?

    The Strib offers a collective salad of comments and opinions from the Boston Globe to Coleen Rowley, ex FBI whistle blower and politically astute voice on the Huffington Report…that affirms, suggests -take your pick – was a trial run; “make-work-on-a-slow-day” exercise?

    Is this is to be acceptable as a practice run creating training exercise for FBI grunt patrols?

    To scratch it off as a ‘fire drill’ preempting a real ‘fire’ and terrorizing citizens sans credibility or accountability…even FBI underlings practicing for future actual terrorism plots need to be held accountable. Captain-may-I is not acceptable.

    …and where is the outcry among our legislators seeking another term in office when civil liberties have been violated?
    Silence? Their silence is even more scary.

    National security? Trial run? The FBI needs to called on the carpet on this one in a free society.

  19. Submitted by donald maxwell on 09/28/2010 - 09:19 am.


    Perhaps your comment was written ironically.

    But if not, you are as wrong as one can be. The freedom to express dissent is far more valuable than protection against the threat of vague potential physical harm.

    The Nazis knew how state security could be used to regiment the people. Do you know what “SS” stood for?

    The FBI failed completely to protect the US from the one really big attack, even in the presence of big fat clues. So now they are engaging in an excess of diligence rounding up people who might associate with someone who might break a pane of glass.

    The fact that the FBI roundup focused on Minneapolis strongly suggests that this is all about keeping protesters out of the way of the upcoming DNC convention.

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