Statement by The Committee to Stop FBI Repression, October 2, 2021
On the heels of its defeat in Afghanistan, the United States government has made it clear it is now once again setting its sights on anti-war activists in the United States. Their latest target is Joe Lombardo, a leader of the country’s largest anti-imperialist coalition.
Joe Lombardo is 73 years old and has been an organizer in the anti-war movement for decades. He is a cofounder and lead organizer for Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, a local anti-war group based near Albany, New York. Lombardo also serves on the administrative committee for the country’s largest and most active coalition of anti-intervention organizations, the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC).
UNAC and its member organizations are consistent in their unequivocal and vocal opposition to all forms of U.S. imperialism, from criminal sanctions and embargos to illegal coups and military interventions.
As one of the coalitions’ main leaders, Joe has helped to coordinate conferences, mass mobilizations and webinars around the issues of peace and justice at home and abroad for UNAC. In his long time as an activist, Joe has travelled to countries throughout the world as an ambassador for peace and human rights.
This week, federal agents once again made their move against the anti-war movement. Out of the blue, they called Joe’s ex-wife for questioning. The FBI agents pressed her to answer questions over the phone and to meet in person discuss Joe’s past activities and travels. They specifically asked about Joe’s 2019 trip to Venezuela, which he took as part of a U.S. Peace Delegation.
The feds rely on the fact that the average person is caught off guard and gets very nervous when federal agents come knocking with demands for information. Luckily, Joe Lombardo’s ex-wife knew to reach out to him and to a movement lawyer and made the correct decision not to meet or speak with the FBI about Joe.
All those active in the movements for peace and justice should use this moment as a reminder to never speak with agents of the federal government prying into your political activism or the activism of others. “I have nothing to say, please speak with my lawyer,” are all that need to be said. Activists should also take the time to educate friends and family members on this subject as well. Although not necessary, having the name of a movement or civil liberties lawyer on hand could help people feel less nervous in such a situation.
All this begs the question: why is the federal government once again going after anti-war activists? The powers that be, Democrat or Republican, feel threatened by the influence and power of our people’s movements and will use any opportunity to try to criminalize, silence or destroy them. An attack on one is certainly an attack on all. Solidarity is always the order of the day.
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) stands in unwavering support of our brother in the movement, Joe Lombardo. We oppose all efforts by the U.S. government to target activists in any progressive movement in this country. We call for an end to investigations, political harassment and threats against activists and our movements.