From the Joe Callahan defense committee:
On July 31, 2011, after two Salvadoran immigrants went to Canada to apply for asylum, long-time Twin Cities activist Joe Callahan was arrested by Canadian police at the Pigeon River border station. At the time Joe was alone in his car. The Canadian police used a backpack, maps and other items found in Joe’s car as the grounds for his arrest.Joe was charged with “aiding and abetting an immigration without a visa,” and “providing false and misleading information.” As a result of these charges, Joe was locked up in the Thunder Bay District Jail in cramped, crowded conditions where inmates are frequently forced to sleep on the floor, as Joe did for the first several days he was there. While Joe was in custody, the authorities added the charge of “smuggling” or “human trafficking.” This charge is much more serious and carries a maximum sentence of ten years.After one month Joe was released on bail and was allowed to return to the Minneapolis area, pending trial. He is restricted to the Twin Cities area as a condition of his release. Meanwhile, the prosecuting attorney, or “Crown Attorney,” as they are called in Canada, informed Joe’s defense attorneys that he is seeking a sentence of three or four years. The trial will be held in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The date has not yet been set. Joe is being represented by Mary Bird and Francis Thatcher, a prominent attorney in the Aboriginal rights struggle.Over the last thirty years Joe has been active in solidarity work for Central America and Cuba. He has been an active defender of immigration rights. He was also active against an attempt to reinstate the death penalty in Minnesota. His record in the fight for justice goes back to his youth. As a student he was active in the anti-Vietnam war movement.For four and a half years Joe worked for the Metro Transit System as a bus driver, and was a member of the Amalgamated Transit Union. He has spent his working life in blue-collar, unionized jobs. Now, because of his legal difficulties, he has been forced to take a lower-paying position as a driver for a small bus company.Joe Callahan is NOT a human trafficker! Joe is NOT a smuggler! These charges against him are unfounded and they should be dropped. Joe is a political activist concerned about the rights of immigrants. He needs the help of all supporters of democratic rights.