(Photo from FBI.gov)

Agents with the FBI, US Marshal’s Service and Joint Terrorist Task Force (JTTF) have reportedly been making visits to over a dozen political activists in Chicago, New York and the San Francisco Bay Area to ask about a case that is more than thirty years old.

The case involves Donna Borup, who the FBI believes was part of a “violent anti-apartheid demonstration at JFK International Airport in Queens, New York, on September 26, 1981.”

A wanted notice further alleges that she “tossed a caustic substance into the eyes of a Port Authority Police Officer, leaving him partially blind” and that at the time she was a part of the May 19th Communist Organization. (The FBI pursued the radical group as a terrorist organization and had arrested all of its members for their alleged role in bombing attacks on government buildings by 1985.)

Borup was indicted on assaulting a police officer and riot charges. She did not appear at her trial on May 20, 1982, and ever since the FBI has wanted to catch her for fleeing to avoid prosecution. In recent years, the FBI has renewed its pursuit of her.

Why is any of this a priority for the FBI today? What makes it so important to the FBI to catch her?

The Bay Area Committee to Resist Political Repression (BACPR), which released a statement alerting activists, suspects that the FBI is using Borup’s case as a pretext to go around questioning activists. It also makes it possible to continue the government tradition of equating “political resistance with terrorism.”

According to the statement, one activist was questioned decades ago about Borup. The unnamed activist refused to talk to FBI agents in the 1980s. “Why would I talk to them now?” the unnamed activist added.

“We believe these visits are an effort to intimidate political activists and stifle free speech and association. We strongly encourage anyone who is visited by the FBI or other agents, whether it concerns this case or any other politically motivated investigations, to insist on your right to remain silent. It doesn’t matter if you think you ‘have nothing to hide.’ Even the most seemingly innocuous information can help the government further repress our movements,” BACPR declared.

The FBI has been engaged in a wide fishing expedition into political activists in this country, especially those who have ties to revolutionary or left-wing groups from the days of COINTELPRO.

A number of antiwar and international solidarity activists in the midwestern United States had their homes raided by FBI agents in September 2010. The FBI seized property from them, anything they deemed suspicious. Subpoenas were issued to twenty-three people to appear before a grand jury. The activists all refused to appear and resisted the grand jury, since then the cloud of an investigation has hung over them.

Meanwhile, the FBI has been targeting well-known activists in their social network and cases that appear to be blatantly political have been pursued against long-time Chicano activist Carlos Montes and Palestinian organizer Rasmea Odeh. These cases seem to have been brought with the intention of pressuring them to inform on the twenty-three activists who have been targets of an FBI investigation for many years now.

BACPR advised activists in the areas where the FBI has been questioning people to not answer any questions if they are approached by a government agent.

Phone calls were made to individuals connected to groups seeking to build support and solidarity in communities where FBI encounters have taken place. However, activists were unwilling to provide additional details or further comment on these encounters with government agents at this time.

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."