Statement – Bridget Colvin, Target of Illegal FBI Spying
Illegal FBI / JTTF Spying >>
The Thomas Merton Center for Peace & Justice was founded in 1972 to bring people from diverse philosophies and faiths together to work, through nonviolent efforts, for a more just and peaceful world. Through protests and ongoing projects, members of TMC aim to instill in our society a consciousness of values and to raise the moral questions involved in the issues of war, poverty, racism and oppression.
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I first got involved with the Thomas Merton Center through its Anti-War Committee in the late fall of 2002. About six months later I joined the board of directors, and this past November I was elected president. I am also a Postdoctoral Scholar in Transplant Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh.
I've done most of my anti-war, counter-recruiting and global consciousness work with the Pittsburgh Organizing Group, but I went to several TMC-sponsored flyering events in November of 2002 with my younger sister, although I don't remember if I was at the specific one that we know the FBI was watching. Generally we'd meet at Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh and there would be 15 to 20 of us teamed up in pairs or in groups of three. As anyone who has flyered will tell you, flyering is not the most fun type of event, and it's much easier to do with a buddy with whom you can chat. My sister and I would hold out flyers and try to talk to people as they walked by. Many people took the flyers.
It's odd that the government feels the need to spy on the TMC, as everything we do is very above board and public. I assume that many projects and affiliates of the TMC are or have been monitored simply because we're being vocal about expressing our dissent. We're exercising our Constitutional rights. I don't think that the fact that someone may be reporting that back to the government is any reason to change what we're doing. We've been active since before the war started and have been holding big rallies and marches and getting people to go out and protest in the cold and the hot or whatever the weather might be.
The government and particularly the FBI have a long history of attempting to disrupt effective social movements, through spying and other covert means. That we're being spied on must mean we've been organizing effectively, so we take it as a kind of compliment! However, it does not mean in any way that we condone these actions by the government. The TMC is a resource center with a diverse variety of projects and affiliates; we support the right of all our members and groups to organize and express dissent regardless of race, orientation, gender, religion, or political views without being spied upon by the government.