National Lawyers Guild Rejects Scapegoating in Hearings Targeting Muslims

March 9, 2011
Paige Cram
Communications Coordinator
212-679-5100, ext.15

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) joins civil and human rights organizations across the country in denouncing the “radicalization” hearings Representative Peter King (R-NY) that began on March 10, 2010 in Washington D.C.  “King’s hearings combine racial and religious bigotry with political scapegoating, shamefully reminiscent of Senator McCarthy and the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) of the 1950s. The NLG was one of the only legal organizations to represent targets of the HUAC hearings and is proud to ally itself with U.S. American Muslims targeted by King’s vitriolic hatred today,” said Michael Flynn, President of the NLG SF Bay Area chapter.

Representative King has submitted a poster used in a National Lawyers Guild Know Your Rights workshop series in the San Francisco Bay Area as an exhibit in the hearings. The poster was originally created by activist artists in the 1970s in the context of unlawful COINTELPRO surveillance, monitoring, and raids of civil rights and anti-imperialist organizations by the FBI and other government agencies. The NLG’s successful Know Your Rights workshop series has seen packed rooms and energized discussion on the constitutional rights of U.S. Americans in the context of the current FBI raids and Grand Jury subpoenas targeting anti-war and anti-imperialist solidarity activists in Chicago and Minneapolis.

"The poster is a reminder to targeted communities of their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. As attorneys, it is our responsibility to counter the FBI's often misleading and coercive tactics by informing people about their constitutional rights and encouraging them to consult an attorney before deciding whether to submit to interrogation," said NLG attorney Rachel Lederman.

Furthermore, King's misleading and hateful attitude toward Muslim Americans provides a platform to white supremacist groups, and is fueling increased hate attacks on Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim. “Just this past Saturday two Sikh men were murdered in a drive by shooting in the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove. Last month a group openly insulted and threatened families, including children, attending an event to benefit a Muslim charity in Orange County.  Their taunts were full of bigotry and expletives,” said Carlos Villarreal, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter.

We call upon Representative King to immediately cancel the hearings and issue an official apology to the Muslim-American community for shamelessly and irresponsibly promoting the government-sanctioned profiling, discrimination, and harassment of Muslim-Americans. We also appeal to the U.S. people to reject the opportunistic use of scapegoating for political advancement.

The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.

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