Lawyers at Monday’s Minneapolis rally in solidarity with the six citizens targeted by FBI raids on Sept. 24 discussed some of the frightening new personal liberty issues that these dramatic events have raised. In particular, a July ruling by the Supreme Court threatens First Amendment rights in various ways. The current law — and the FBI’s interpretation of it — suggest that interacting with groups that may be on the government’s list of terrorist organizations could put one at risk. The previous standard concerned providing aid. Now, talking may be a crime. The Washington Post touched on these threats to civil liberties in its series entitled “Top Secret America”. Local attorney Coleen Rowley, who spoke at the FBI protest on Monday, has authored several pieces on this issue.
On a related note, the FBI emptied its Minneapolis offices prior to the rally. Twenty Minneapolis Police officers observed the peaceful protest from across the street, including Chief Tim Dolan. In addition, the Ramsey County Sheriff provided surveillance — despite the fact that Minneapolis is in Hennepin County, not Ramsey County … i.e. they were out of their jurisdiction.