For the U.S. military, it apparently isn’t enough to rely on the intelligence gathered by the undercover agents at protest rallies. The campaign against dissent may now have added a common tactic–the use of investigation as intimidation.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
- Politically active artists have been shaken by the alleged visit of military investigators to the family of an outspoken San Francisco hip-hop band member, calling it one in a series of moves aimed at silencing dissenting musicians and actors.
The incident surfaced a week ago when Michael Franti, the front man for the band Spearhead, told Pacifica Radio network’s “Democracy Now” that military investigators visited the mother of an unnamed band member in Boston. The woman also has a daughter stationed with U.S. military forces in the Middle East.
The mother, whom Franti also declined to name for her safety, said plainclothes investigators appeared at her door on March 16, showing pictures of the band performing at an anti-war demonstration the previous day in San Francisco, Franti said. They questioned her about entries made in her son’s checking account, his travel records for the past several months, and his general whereabouts, Franti said.
- “She’d spoken in an interview about her daughter who has been deployed in the Gulf, and her son who is in this band Spearhead,” says Spearhead frontman Michael Franti. “They showed her a picture of her son wearing a t-shirt that said ‘Unfuck the world’ on the front, and ‘Dethrone the Bushes’ on the back. They told her that was an un-American statement. She said, ‘That’s free speech,’ and they said, ‘Well, things are changing these days.’”
The men who visited the frightened woman told her that her daughter’s CDs had been confiscated, and that her son had recently taken two flights to Japan. “Why would he do that?” they asked her, according to Franti.
The men then showed her a list of names of people who worked in Franti’s management office in San Francisco and a photograph of her son performing with Spearhead at the peace rally one day prior. “It kind of put a scare into all of us,” says Franti. “The fact that people would be paying this close attention to what we’re doing as musicians is a bit freaky. We’re human rights workers — we don’t believe that people should be killed. We’re not about wanting to overthrow the government, but we want to speak out. It’s made us deepen our belief in what we do and work that much harder.”
Franti tells Democracy Now:
- “They had pictures of us performing the day before at the rally, they had pictures of us performing at some of our annual concerts that we put on that are in support of peace and human rights. They had his flight records for the past several months, they had the names of everybody who works in my office, our management office Guerilla Management. They had his checking account records. They asked his mother a lot of questions about where he was, what he was doing in this place, why he was going here. They confiscated his sibling’s CD collection that they had brought over to listen to while they were in the Gulf, and basically were intimidating – told her which members of the press she could talk to and which members of the press she should not speak to.”