Mick Kelly

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Mick Kelly

Template:TOCnestleft Mick Kelly is the husband of Linden Gawboy. He has been active in the movements for peace, justice, equality and liberation since 1970.[1]

FRSO ML School

Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack! ML School public FB group, October 2 2020 members included Mick Kelly.

Radicalized by the war

On April 30, 1970, President Richard Nixon, elected on promises to end the war in Vietnam, instead announced U.S. ground troops would invade neighboring Cambodia to prevent another Tet Offensive.

What followed was an unprecedented, though largely forgotten, revolutionary moment in U.S. history. Over two weeks, millions of people walked out of classrooms, blocked highways, and in dozens of cities set fire to military recruitment centers. Panicking officials deployed National Guard soldiers to college campuses across the country, leading to the events for which the period is most remembered: the shootings of student protesters at the universities of Kent State in Ohio and Mississippi’s Jackson State.

By May 2, protesters had set fire to the ROTC office at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. At the behest of university and local officials, Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes ordered the National Guard onto campus, declaring on television, “I think that we're up against the strongest well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America.”

On May 4, with tear gas failing to quash large daily demonstrations, the National Guard opened fire on a crowd of protesters with live ammunition, killing four students: Jeffrey Glenn Miller, Allison B. Krause, William Knox Schroeder and Sandra Lee Scheurer. Nine more were injured, with one paralyzed permanently.

The National Guard retreated from campus. But the shootings quickly sent a shockwave through the country.

Following Kent State’s lead, repression expanded nationwide in the following days. Police wounded a dozen protesters at the State University of New York at Buffalo with shotgun fire. National Guard troops attached bayonets to their rifles before charging demonstrators in both Albuquerque, New Mexico and Carbondale, Illinois. In Madison, Wisconsin, guardsmen indiscriminately fired tear gas into student housing blocks.

“It was a full-scale uprising against the war,” says Fight Back! editor Mick Kelly, whose participation in the May 1970 movement as a youth started him on the revolutionary path. He explains it wasn’t only students walking out: thousands of faculty effectively went on strike. Many universities closed for the remainder of the year. On May 8, 100,000 protesters descended on Washington, D.C., at one point forcing Nixon to flee to Camp David, with the 82nd Airborne Division reportedly prepared to deploy in the city. In the streets of New York, huge groups of anti-war demonstrators brawled with mobs of bootlicking pro-war strikebreakers.

“There’s a misunderstanding about the character of the core of the anti-war movement. People weren’t pacifists or ‘Let’s get out of Vietnam’ types,” explains Kelly. “You weren’t chanting, ‘Peace now’, you were chanting ‘Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, NLF is sure to win.’” The NLF was the National Liberation Front - the so-called ‘Viet Cong.’

“It was a near revolutionary period,” he says. “You had a powerful Black liberation movement in the streets, everywhere. There’d be people selling the Black Panther Party newspaper. The movement clearly understood that to eliminate war, American imperialism had to be eliminated. It was real solidarity with Vietnam.”

on the night of May 14, another massacre took place, this time at Jackson State University, a historically Black institution in Jackson, Mississippi. Student protesters blocking roads in the city were attacked by dozens of state troopers, who then advanced upon a dormitory. The officers opened fire for nearly a full minute. Phillip Lafayette Gibbs, age 21 and James Earl Green, 17, were killed; 12 others were wounded.

“Almost immediately after the events, there were those of us in the anti-war movement who raised the slogan, ‘Avenge Kent State and Jackson State,’” Kelly recounts.

A May 4th Coalition led a national convergence on the Kent State campus to fight to preserve the memory of the killings. “It was a major battle, and it was an important battle, because it represented an attempt - by us and by the enemy - to sum up the war and the whole period,” explains Kelly, who was active in one of the groups that led the fight, the Revolutionary Student Brigade. “It involved an attempt by the university administration and the government to basically sweep Vietnam and the subsequent uprising under the rug.”

Once again Kent State became a protest battlefield, complete with National Guard deployment and tear gas. “The gym ultimately was built,” Kelly recalls. “But the memory of Kent State and Jackson State was kept alive.”[2]

In December 2020 Alan Canfora, one of the student activists wounded when the National Guard opened fire on an anti-war demonstration at Kent State University, on May 4, 1970, died at age 71.

Alan was a key leader to in the militant struggle to prevent KSU administrators from building a gym on the site of the killings. The fight brought together student activists from across the country under the slogan, “Long live the spirit of Kent and Jackson State.”

While the gym was finally built in 1979, the struggle, which involved hundreds of arrests, demonstrators defying court injunctions, and clouds of tear gas, the point was made – the crime committed at Kent State would never be forgiven, and the resistance that followed May 4, would never be forgotten. Alan devoted the rest of his life to keeping alive the memory of what happened at Kent State on May 4.

Mick Kelly, a member of the Revolutionary Student Brigade in the 1970s, stated, “I traveled to Kent many times to participate in the ‘move the gym’ struggle. Alan was a courageous leader and a dynamic speaker, who condemned the crimes of U.S. imperialism. While his politics moderated in later life, his consistent work to keep alive the memory of May 4, 1970 is something to be respected.” Kelly is currently the editor of Fight Back!

Core message of Leninism

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Founding NAAPR

Bebster Tan November 25, 2019 ·


With Mick Kelly, Tomas de Bourgha, Chrisley Carpio, Adrian Bonifacio, Rhonda Ramiro, Joe Iosbaker, Monique NB, Terry Valen, Frank Chapman, Cody Urban, Caiti Le Ward, Donna Denina and Mai Ya.



Mick Kelly was part of a 1975 delegation to China.

Contributors PSN News

Contributors to the May 1986 issue The Progressive Student News from Minneapolis were - Chris Gunderson, Geoff Hahn, Mic Kelly, Michael Turnure, Mina Wood, Jill Zemke.

Committees of Correspondence Connection

In 1994 Mick Kelly, Chicago was listed on a "Membership, Subscription and Mailing List" for the Chicago Committees of Correspondence, an offshoot of the Communist Party USA.[3]


In 1994, Mick Kelly, a member Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Socialist Organizing Network, was a guest at the Workers Party of Belgium May Day celebrations. [4]

Freedom Road Socialist Organisation

Mick Kelly is a founding and leading member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack!.[5] He edits the organization's newspaper, FightBack!.[1]

Coalition to March on the RNC

As the head of the Saint Paul City Council banged her gavel, Deb Konechne, of the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War and the Welfare Rights Committee, stood up and demanded that council members listen to statements on why permits should be granted now for a massive anti-war march at the Republican National Convention. When the Council refused to hear the statements, protesters chanted, “We need the permits,” and marched out of the meeting.

In April, groups involved in the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War resubmitted their permit applications for demonstrating in Saint Paul on Sept. 1, 2008. The city of Saint Paul has not responded to their requests to receive a permit and instead have formed a ‘free speech’ working group. This working group is discussing what rights protesters will have to demonstrate, but is not considering or listening to what the community needs to protest against the Republican agenda.

Marie Braun, of the Twin Cities Peace Campaign-Focus on Iraq, stated, “Next September the Republican Party will be here to chose the candidate who will best keep this country on a path of occupation and war. Similarly, on Sept. 1, 2008 tens of thousands of people from Minnesota, from the Midwest, and from around the country will gather in Saint Paul to march on the RNC and to demand and end the war on Iraq.”

A protest organizer, Meredith Aby of the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War notes, “The RNC march has been endorsed by peace and justice groups around the country. People from around the country are planning to come here to demonstrate against the war and speak out against the Republican agenda. Many of those coming are asking about the permits.”

This effort is backed by local organizations that have organized the major Twin Cities anti-war protests. In addition, the organizations that have organized the large anti-war and immigrant rights demonstrations in Washington D.C., New York and on the West Coast have also signed on. These organizations include; CODEPINK, International Action Center, Latinos Against War (Los Angeles), the March 25 Coalition - Los Angeles, May 1 Movement for Worker and Immigrant Rights, Troops Out Now Coalition, United for Peace and Justice and many chapters of Students for a Democratic Society.

Local signers include the Anti-War Committee, AFSCME Local 3800, American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council, Iraq Peace Action Coalition, Low Income People Organizing for Power, Military Families Speak Out, MN Immigrants Rights Action Coalition, Twin Cities Peace Campaign-Focus on Iraq, Welfare Rights Committee and Women Against Military Madness and many others.

Protest organizer Mick Kelly of the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War says, “We are taking a message to the Saint Paul City Council. We want the permits to march on the RNC now. City government needs to stop fooling around with its so-called free speech committee and grant the permits so we can exercise that freedom and speak out against the war at the RNC.”[6]


A lawsuit for damages totaling $75,000 will be filed in Federal Court, July 2 2008, by attorneys representing Mick Kelly. Kelly is an organizer for the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War. Kelly was arrested outside the Xcel Center June 5 while passing out leaflets at an Obama rally. He was promoting the Sept. 1 anti-war march at the Republican National Convention. Police placed him under arrest, then he was searched, put in a squad car and taken blocks away to the old police headquarters where he was cited for soliciting and peddling.

Mick Kelly is also the editor of the newspaper FightBack! and Fight Back News Service.

Mr. Kelly states, “The city of Saint Paul violated my right to speak out against the war and to encourage people to come to the march on the Republican National Convention. It is part of a larger pattern of the city attempting to suppress the right to dissent. For example, the city has refused to grant a workable permit for the Sept. 1 protest. The blame needs to placed at the door of Mayor Coleman and the city administration as a whole.”

The suit names the City of St. Paul and the individual officers involved in the arrest. Kelly is represented by attorneys Ted Dooley, Gena Berglund and Peter Nickitas, all members of the National Lawyers Guild.

Attorney Ted Dooley states, “What happened to Mick Kelly was illegal. The mayor, the city and the police will have to explain it in Federal Court. This is a straight signal to Saint Paul City officials: The people have the constitutional right to speak out against the war and injustice, even though the Republican National Convention happens to come to town.[7]

Anti-Apartheid network

Joe Iosbaker December 5, 2013 ·

This plaque is among my most treasured possessions. Remember Nelson Mandela! Continue the struggle against apartheid in Israel! Victory to the liberation struggles of oppressed nations!


— with Dennis O'Neil, Lester Dragstedt, Lynne Adrian, Tracy Van Quaethem, Carol DeProsse, Richard Berg, Jim Potter, John A. Smith, Daniel Hughes, Mike Ascroft, Bob Hearst, Andrew Harvey, Josef Ignatious Fortier, Amy Kratz, Bob Cotter, Craig Perrin, Mike Price, Michael Turnure, Patrick Kearns, Kris Penniston, Stephanie Weiner, Judith Mentzer, Chris Iosbaker, Joe Burns, Bridgette Sheridan, Prexy Nesbitt, Tomas de Bourgha, Kit Bonson, Brenda Barton, Anne Evens, Juliet Holt Klinger, Michael Harvey, Saed Abu-Hijleh, Chip Young, John Stonebarger, Robin Potter, Barbara Ransby, Keith L. Perry, Mick Kelly, Tom Wilson, Beau Barry, Amy Smith, Lj Yanney, Richard Saks, Bruce Nestor, Hermalee Webb and Bethany McIvor.

Minnesota SDS

Members of the Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Minnesota Public group in 2017 included Mick Kelly.

Noor Elashi, Holy Land 5 and FBI repression

More than 30 student activists from Florida State University (FSU) packed into a room in the Oglesby Student Union to hear Noor Elashi and other organizers speak about government repression, March 25 2013 . Holy Land 5 attorney John Cline joined Elashi on the panel, along with Mick Kelly, who was one of the 23 anti-war activists raided by the FBI in September, 2010.

The event was organized by the newly-formed Tallahassee Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Cecelia O'Brien, one of the founders of the chapter, introduced the speakers and contextualized this new wave of government repression for students. "Student groups in Florida recently faced repression from their university administration, which is part of a larger attack on the rights of activists," said O'Brien. She continued, "The way we fight back against this repression is by supporting each other and sharing our stories at events like this one."

Noor Elashi spoke as the daughter of Ghassan Elashi, a founder of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development who was raided by the FBI in 2001 and imprisoned by the U.S. government in 2008. As the largest Muslim charity in the U.S., the Holy Land Foundation provided housing and scholarships for poor students in Palestine and around the world. The Bush administration shut down the Foundation in 2001 and later indicted its founders on bogus charges of material support for terrorist groups. Ghassan Elashi remains imprisoned, along with four other Foundation members, for providing charity to the Palestinian people.

John Cline, who was Ghassan's attorney, spoke about the outrageous case that the U.S. government brought against the Holy Land Foundation. He talked about the government's use of anonymous witnesses.

Finally, Mick Kelly spoke about his experience with government repression when he was raided by the FBI on Sept. 24, 2010. Kelly talked about receiving a call from his spouse while at work, who told him ominously, "They're here." After returning home, he found his home had been raided by a machine gun-wielding FBI SWAT Team, who had used a battering ram to break down the door to his apartment. The agents carrying out the raid came heavily armed with two extra clips, as if expecting a confrontation. Kelly reiterated that he was raided because of his anti-war and solidarity work, particularly with regards to Colombia and Palestine.[8]

September 24, 2010 FBI Raids

Kelly's attourney is Ted Dooley.[9]

Meeting Leila Khaled

Leila Khaled, Mick Kelly

Leila Khaled, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was interviewed in Beirut, Lebanon Jan. 17 by Fight Back! editor Mick Kelly.

Leila Khaled was among the speakers at the Beirut International Forum for Resistance, Anti-Imperialism, Solidarity between Peoples and Alternatives. The Forum was held at the UNESCO Palace on Jan. 16-18.[10]

FBI raids


The material that the FBI copied and returned comes from the homes of Twin Cities activists Jess Sundin, Steff Yorek, Mick Kelly, Meredith Aby, Anh Pham and Tracy Molm and the office of the Anti-War Committee. All of them are among the 23 anti-war and international solidarity activists summoned to appear in front of a Chicago grand jury headed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, investigating ‘material support for terrorism.’[11]

Kelly said he went to Lebanon in 2008 for a Palestinian solidarity conference, and he's been on Colombian radio by phone from the U.S.[12]

Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout

Circa September 19, 2009, Mick Kelly signed a petition initiated by the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout entitled, Petition to Demand a People's Bailout which includes the statement, "Tax the rich, make them pay for their crisis!"[13] Kelly is a leader of the organization and has helped to lead the fight against home foreclosures.[1]

Supporting North Korea


WWP conference

Long Island City, Queens, N.Y. — The stage banner in a school auditorium in Queens, N.Y., said it all: “Workers World Party stands in solidarity with Gaza, Ferguson and Ayotzi! Down with capitalism! Fight for socialism!”

This theme resonated on Nov. 15-16 2014, as the Workers World Party annual national conference highlighted major struggles here and worldwide, including resistance to U.S. police and military occupation — from Occupied Gaza to Ferguson, Mo.

Joe Lombardo was a guest at the 2014 Conference.

Maggie Vascassenno, from Los Angeles, chaired a panel on solidarity with Lucy Pagoada, a founder of Honduras USA Resistencia; Charles Jenkins, president, New York Chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; Kazem Azim, SI-Solidarity with Iran; Berna Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN USA; Mick Kelly, Freedom Road Socialist Organization; Victor Toro, a founder of Chile’s Movement of the Revolutionary Left, who won the right to live in the United States after facing the threat of deportation; and Joe Lombardo, co-coordinator of the United National Antiwar Coalition.[14]

Working with CAIR

A group of 50 people gathered at the First United Church of Tampa, February 2015, for a panel discussion, “State Repression and the War on Terror.” Speakers focused on the U.S. government targeting of Arab-Americans, Muslims and anti-war activists for political repression.

“Only the fish that opens its mouth gets in trouble,” said Attorney Hassan Shibly of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Shibly advised individuals to remain silent and call their lawyer when facing intimidation and questioning by the FBI. CAIR offers representation to clients for free.

Another panelist, Cassia Laham, spoke about the growing student movement in opposition to U.S. support for Israeli and for the liberation of all of Palestine. She helped found Students for Justice in Palestine at University of Florida.

“We have a duty to keep organizing together to keep moving forward,” Laham said. Currently she is active with People’s Opposition to Imperialism, War, and Racism (POWIR) in Miami and organizes in solidarity with Palestinian American women’s leader Rasmea Odeh..

“Targeting of Arab Americans and Muslims for the sake of ‘safety’ is a lie used by the state to perpetuate fear of these oppressed communities and to instill support of U.S. wars overseas,” said Mick Kelly from Minneapolis.

“The U.S. has built an empire that encompasses every continent, the people of the Middle East are defeating that empire. They are fighting to get the boot of the U.S. and Israel of their necks. We need to stand in solidarity with all those who are fighting for their liberation and defeat attempts to repress ourselves and others,” continued Kelly. Kelly is one of the anti-war and international solidarity activists whose home was turned upside down by the FBI in 2010.

Kelly also spoke about Rasmea Odeh’s trial in Detroit, “Through organizing and speaking out, it is a way to make a breakthrough.”

The CSFR-Tampa is organizing a local protest on March 12 in support of Rasmea Odeh. One local leader will be attending Odeh’s sentencing in Detroit.[15]



"Minneapolis: Celebrate May Day - International Workers Day 2015"

Sunday 26 April 2015, "Minneapolis: Celebrate May Day - International Workers Day 2015" organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack!. Location TBA.

Those indicating attendance on Wherevent included Katherine Elizabeth, Jessica Schwartz, Steph Ross Taylor, Christina Field, Doug Jadzia Sembla, Mary Padilla Cristobal Aldana, Alisha Olson, Kim DeFranco, Jess Sundin, Cassandra Hendricks, Cherrene Horazuk, Julia Russ, Zandra Dee , Loretta VanPelt, Tracy Molm, Hannan Ayoub, Khin Oo, Tracey Plk, Kim Smith, Hoda Isak, Alexandra Vagac, Laura Hoffman, Meredith Aby-Keirstead, Jessie Gavilanes, Amy Selvius, Penelope Mace, Beatriz Hernandez, Marisol Marquez, Laye Kwamina-Barry, Cory Eggert, Lion Ras, Kuntal Chatterjee, Andy Carhart, Sean Orr, Rahul Choudhury Boro, Andrew McNally, Cleveland Savage, Jesus Estrada-Perez, Julio Alberto Martinez, Fern Figueroa, Ryan A. Smith, Joshua Cromarty, Brad Sigal, Tim Nolan, Edward Hahn, Cody Gilbert, Timmy McDonough, Mick Kelly, Jigme Ugen, Manuel Berduc.[16]

Dump Trump

Tom Burke speaking, Mick Kelly second from right

Mick Kelly, a spokesperson Coalition to Stop Trump and March on the RNC stated, “We plan on marching right up to the site of the RNC. We insist that our right to protest is respected. The people of this county are rejecting Trump and his racist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim attacks.”

Tom Burke, also of the Coalition states, “Thousands of people are coming to the RNC to protest Trump. Buses are being chartered to come to this protest from as far away as Minnesota, and we plan on being within sight and sound of the RNC on July 18.”

Coalition organizers say they are exploring legal options to challenge the restrictions.

About 40 immigrant rights, student, anti-war, labor, and low-income organizations have announced their support for the protest.

The demonstration will put forward the slogans, “Dump Trump, Say No to the Republican Agenda. Stand Against Racist, Anti-Immigrant, and Anti-Muslim Attacks. We demand Peace, Justice and Equality.”[17]

Interviewing Sison


Fight Back! interviewed Jose Maria Sison, the founding Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, August 19, 2017 in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

The interview was conducted by Fight Back! editor Mick Kelly, who is also responsible for the international work of Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack!.[18]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Committee to Stop FBI Repression: Who are the targets of the FBI and Grand Jury Witch Hunt? (accessed on Nov. 23, 2010)
  2. [1]
  3. Chicago CoC "Membership, Subscription and Mailing List" 10.14.94
  4. [Forward Motion, Summer 1994]
  5. http://www.frso.org/about/docs/2003seminar/frsopaper.htm
  6. [2]
  7. [3]
  8. [4]
  9. Committee to Stop FBI Repression website: CISPES Statement on FBI raids, Sept. 27, 2010 (accessed on Oct. 6, 2010)
  10. FighBack News! Leila Khaled speaks on the Israeli attack on Gaza by staff | February 2, 2009
  11. [http://www.fightbacknews.org/2011/11/2/fbi-copies-50000-plus-pages-materials-seized-raids-minneapolis-peace-and-international-sol FBNews, FBI copies 50,000-plus pages of materials seized in raids on Minneapolis peace and international solidarity activists – now they give back the originals Serious FBI violation of civil rightsBy staff | November 2, 2011]
  12. [http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/09/24/fbi-searches-homes-anti-war-activists-minneapolis-chicago-terrorism-case/Fox News FBI serves warrants on Minn. anti-war activists, Chicago addresses, looking for terrorist ties Published September 24, 2010]
  13. MN Coalition for a People's Bailout website: Petition, circa Sept. 19, 2009 (accessed on Oct. 5, 2010)
  14. WW, WWP National Conference: ‘Down with capitalism!’By Monica Moorehead November 19, 2014
  15. FBNews, Tampa event opposes U.S. war and political repression By Jessica Schwartz | February 23, 2015
  16. Wherevent "Minneapolis: Celebrate May Day - International Workers Day 2015"
  17. [http://www.fightbacknews.org/2016/5/31/organizers-dump-trump-protest-oppose-restrictions-free-speech-rnc FBNews Organizers of “Dump Trump” protest oppose restrictions on free speech at RNC By staff | May 31, 2016]
  18. [http://www.fightbacknews.org/2017/8/27/fight-back-interview-jose-maria-sison-people-s-war-philippines FB News, Fight Back! interview with Jose Maria Sison on the people’s war in the Philippines By staff | August 27, 2017]