The Council on American-Islamic Relations asked its California chapter to take down the image of a poster — one that says, “Build a wall of resistance. Don’t talk to the FBI” — it used to promote a discussion about the FBI’s tactics in recent terrorism investigations.
As soon as the national organization found out about the image last week — about the same time Fox News and others began writing about it — officials asked the chapter to pull it down, a CAIR spokesman tells TPM.
“It is not consistent with CAIR’s policy of constitutionally informed cooperation with law enforcement,” government affairs director Corey Saylor said.
“We’re concerned that what would normally be a minor error will be overblown by people with a political agenda,” he explained, saying the group used “extreme caution to make sure we don’t send the wrong message to our community.”
It’s a sensitive issue these days. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the new chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, says he will hold hearings next month on the “radicalization” of American Muslims. He says his reason is that Muslim leaders too often tell their congregations or members not to cooperate with law enforcements.
On the other side, Muslim groups are wary of the Justice Department. After a string of terrorism arrests in late 2010, the DOJ had to defend its tactic of using undercover stings in which undercover agents provide fake bombs to young Muslim men.
The event in California, titled “FBI Raids and Grand Jury Subpoenas: Know Your Rights and Defend Our Communities,” is about other contentious FBI tactics. The featured speaker is Hatem Abudayyeh, an Arab-American activist whose home was raided by the FBI in September. Also raided as part of the same probe were the homes of five anti-war activists in Minnesota. Grand jury subpoenas served to the activists asked for records relating to any payments to Abudayyeh.
The Minnesota raids became a flashpoint, and hundreds protested the raids shortly afterward. And supporters of the activists apparently adopted the “Don’t talk to the FBI” poster.
The poster, according to the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, was originally created by the Fireworks Graphics Collective in San Francisco around 1980 to protest FBI tactics being used against members of the Puerto Rican independence movement. It has been reused a number of times since.
Saylor, the CAIR spokesman, said the organization doesn’t tell its members to stonewall the FBI. It does, however, warn them to always have an attorney present when talking to law enforcement.