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US : The State Murder of an Activist

Millennium Development Goals vs Imperialist Wars, World Capitalism

Restorative Justice Is Needed For Albert Woodfox, The Black Panther Party & The Nation

An Interview With Law Professor Angela A. Allen-Bell

By Angola 3 News
On Monday, June 8, 2015, US District Court Judge James Brady ruled that the Angola 3’s Albert Woodfox be both immediately released and barred from a retrial. The next day, at the request of the Louisiana Attorney General, the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay of release set to expire on Friday, June 12.

As the week intensified following Judge Brady’s ruling, both Albert Woodfox and his family, friends & supporters wondered if he would finally be released over 43 years after first being placed in solitary confinement. Amnesty International USA launched a petition calling on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to honor Judge Brady’s ruling.

On June 9, US Congressman Cedric Richmond (LA-02) issued a statement declaring that “Attorney General Caldwell must respect the ruling of Judge Brady and grant Mr. Woodfox his release immediately…This is an obviously personal vendetta and has been a waste of tax payer dollars for decades. The state is making major cuts in education and healthcare but he has spent millions of dollars on this frivolous endeavor and the price tag is increasing by the day.”

On June 11, eighteen members of the Louisiana House of Representatives voted unsuccessfully to pass a resolution (H.R. 208) urging Attorney General Caldwell to stop standing in the way of justice, withdraw his appeals, and let Judge Brady’s unconditional writ and release ruling stand.

However, on Friday, June 12, the Court responded by scheduling oral arguments for late August and extending the stay of release at least until the time that the Court issues its ruling later in the Fall.

Among those who communicated with Albert during that emotional week was Southern University Law Professor Angela A. Allen-Bell. In the days following Judge Brady’s ruling, she was a featured guest on several television and radio shows that focused on Albert’s case, including National Public Radio. In this interview with Angola 3 News, Prof. Bell discusses her new law journal article and reflects upon the latest developments in Albert’s fight for freedom. She argues that recent Angola 3-related media coverage in the US is becoming “more substantive,” and that this month “the media got bolder and began digging deeper than just a soundbite.”

Literally hundreds of news websites around the world published articles about Judge Brady’s ruling. The New York Times, who in an earlier editorial from 2014 declared Albert’s four decades in solitary to be “barbaric beyond measure,” chose a headline for their June 10 article that cited Albert’s “Torturous Road to Freedom.” The next day, the NY Times reprinted an Associated Press article entitled “What Has Louisiana Got on the Last of the Angola Three?” Answering the question posed by the headline, the articles states: “Woodfox’s long-simmering story has been the subject of documentaries, Peabody Award winning journalism, United Nations human rights reviews and even a theatrical play. It’s a staggering tale of inconsistencies, witness recants, rigged jury pools, out-of-control prison violence, racial prejudice and political intrigue.”

Media coverage in the state of Louisiana itself also seems to be improving. For example, writer Emily Lane of the NOLA Times-Picayune responded to Brady’s ruling with a series of in-depth articles, focusing on the specifics of how and why Albert has been in solitary for over 40 years, as well as the physical and mental impact of such treatment. In another article, the Times-Picayune quoted extensively from a statement made by Teenie Rogers, the widow of slain prison guard Brent Miller. “I think it’s time the state stop acting like there is any evidence that Albert Woodfox killed Brent,” Rogers said. Meanwhile, Albert remains in solitary confinement, with Louisiana authorities “not letting up on” the “last of the ‘Angola3.'”

Our first interview with Prof. Bell, entitled Prolonged Solitary Confinement on Trial, followed the release of her 2012 article written for the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, entitled “Perception Profiling & Prolonged Solitary Confinement Viewed Through the Lens of the Angola 3 Case: When Prison Officials Become Judges, Judges Become Visually Challenged and Justice Becomes Legally Blind.”

Our second interview, entitled Terrorism, COINTELPRO, and the Black Panther Party, examined her 2014 article, published by the Journal of Law and Social Deviance, entitled “Activism Unshackled & Justice Unchained: A Call to Make a Human Right Out of One of the Most Calamitous Human Wrongs to Have Taken Place on American Soil.”

This new interview, now our third, is timed with the release of of Prof. Bell’s latest article, published by the University of Miami Race & Social Justice Law Review, entitled “A Prescription for Healing a National Wound: Two Doses of Executive Direct Action Equals a Portion of Justice and a Serving of Redress for America & the Black Panther Party.”

Since the Angola 3 News project began in 2009, we have conducted interviews focusing on many different aspects of the Black Panther Party and the organization’s legacy today, including:  Remembering Safiya BukhariCOINTELPRO and the Omaha TwoThe Black Panther Party and Revolutionary ArtDylcia and Cisco on Panthers and Independistas“We Called Ourselves the Children of Malcolm,”  Medical Self Defense and the Black Panther Party, and The Black Panther Party’s Living Legacy.

Angola 3 News:      How does your new law journal article, A Prescription for Healing a National Wound, relate to and ultimately build upon your previous two articles, Perception Profiling and Activism Unshackled?

Angela A. Allen-Bell:      The three articles share a common thread and that is that the Angola 3 case was the inspiration for each of the articles. The Angola 3 case is a fusion of complexities, including race, justice, corrections practices, abuse of power, official misconduct and politics. Each of the three articles explores a different theme in the case.

The 2012 publication, Perception Profiling, explores the constitutional implications of long term solitary confinement.

The 2014 publication, Activism Unshackled, exposes the harsh response of the government to the Black Panther Party (BPP) and declares the BPP to be victims of something akin to domestic terrorism.

The 2015 publication, A Prescription, calls for redress and offers a solution for the nation and the BPP to heal from the traumas experienced during the historical period of the BPP’s existence.

A3N:      You write that “Redress is the aim because it is broader than justice. Redress is also the goal because, when delivered, it has the impact of bringing distant human rights aspirational goals to a local and identifiable place in our society.” For folks that have not yet read A Prescription, can you please explain what you mean by “redress?”

AB:      When I use the term redress, I simply mean “remedy.” In this section of the paper, I am calling people’s attention to the fact that the pursuit of justice is largely personal. It involves personal vindication.

Contrarily, redress, through a restorative justice model, is much more expansive. Restorative justice not only considers the victim; it also considers the impact on society. It seeks to heal both simultaneously.

We have never healed from many of the racial traumas that afflict this nation. The evidence of this is on display in the media consistently. Unaddressed traumas are the underlying explanation for some police feeling comfortable gunning down African American males in absence of a legitimate threat of bodily force. That psyche developed during the lynching era.

Unaddressed traumas explain educational and discipline policies that fast track poor children and children of color from schools to prison. Long ago, it was decided that certain groups were intellectually inferior and, as such, could best serve as an underclass.

Unaddressed traumas explain the decision to select an African American church as the setting for an act of domestic terrorism, as with the recent massacre in Charleston. That happened so many times during the Civil Rights Era, it almost became sport. We must recognize that patterns continue unless and until a conscious choice is made to stop them. That is why I advocate for redress through a restorative justice approach. It is my attempt to reconstruct the paradigm and pursue a path of healing.

A3N:      Why do you feel that redress is an appropriate response to the political repression faced by the BPP and other leftists groups during the era of the FBI’s COINTELPRO and beyond? What are the benefits of redress?

AB:      In my opinion, it is the only appropriate response because of the state we presently find ourselves in as a country. We excel at technology. We are masters at warfare. We are an international might. We have accomplished all these things, but we have yet to master the art of loving each other. I am not using the word love in a superficial way. I am using it as a verb. I mean love in a profound way. I mean love that blinds your view of the outside and affixes your eyes on the heart of your brother or sister. This is a terrible indictment on us collectively. This is the legacy that racism, subjugation, oppression and dehumanization left behind.

We need collective healing from a number of social traumas, such as lynchings, racist medical, educational and criminal justice practices, all of the vestiges of slavery, and the neutralization of or attempts at neutralization where civil rights activists and organizers are concerned. These things have caused us not to be well. This article picks one social trauma to address and that involves what was done to the BPP. It serves as a template to addresses the others.

The article discusses several benefits to redress. They include: the timely ability to shape good policy; the achievement of accountability; the furtherance of human rights goals and objectives; and the prevention of history repeating itself. Redress in this instance will help society and the BPP. It will allow us to move pass this chapter onto the next chapter then the work must begin again and again until we have peeled away the many layers to this dysfunction that we are experiencing as a human family.

A3N:      You write further that “the goal is to achieve restorative redress—for America in general and the BPP in particular—through executive direct action correcting official history by way of a proclamation and an executive order granting amnesty—with a focus on healing for the nation, victims and perpetrators (as opposed to focusing on the limiting notion of punishing the perpetrator).” Why do you focus on Executive Direct Action as the best means for redress?

AB:      Executive direct action is a presidential power that is highly effective because it can accomplish a goal without the paralyzing complication that a bureaucracy involves. It is used more than many people know and was chosen in this instance because of the expediency of the process and the complexities of this historical ordeal. It was also chosen because traditional methods have failed and/or will not work.

In the article, I share detailed reasons why courts, hearings, legislation and executive action on the state level were all eliminated as possible forms of redress.

A3N:      Over two years ago, on Feb. 26, 2013, Albert’s conviction was overturned for a third time. However, today, even following last week’s ruling by Judge Brady, Albert remains behind bars and in solitary confinement! Reminiscent of fictional stories by George Orwell or Franz Kafka, how does something like this actually happen? What does it say about the legitimacy of the broader so-called criminal ‘justice’ system in the US?

AB:      Like the United States Constitution, our criminal justice system was born in sin and iniquity. Our modern criminal justice system has very little to do with dispensing justice or keeping citizens safe. It was designed as a tool to further a caste system that was started before slavery. It has become a lucrative enterprise for many. Many laws were written with these considerations in mind. This system is now a machine. Add the utter disdain that this country has had for African American men to this assembly line environment and you might be able to rationalize what Albert Woodfox is experiencing.

The justice system has dealt an unjust hand to many people of color and poor people, but it has been particularly harsh when it comes to the BPP.  They were arrested regularly and locked up often, but, in most cases, charges were dropped or the BPP member won the case. The criminal justice system was intentionally used as tool to disrupt their political and social activities. That detail has largely been suppressed from the public.

This is not to suggest that we don’t need a justice system or jails. I feel both are needed. My only point is that there is a design defect. When that happens, demolition must follow. In my view, this is where we are in our criminal justice journey.

A3N:      Any other thoughts on this month’s events?

AB:      Last week, I saw members of the international community intensify their response. That was beautiful and their support has been consistently present and helpful. That is greatly appreciated.

There were several welcomed, new developments at home. One was the more substantive media coverage that took place in the United States. The media got bolder and began digging deeper than just a soundbite.  Much of the coverage explored the actual evidence (or lack thereof) in the case and many outlets courageously did a critical analysis of America’s solitary confinement practices.

Most impactful of all is the fact that, last week, Americans reclaimed their power.  Grassroots activism and direct citizen participation is the key ingredient in any social change movement.  That happened last week.  Even more significant, a heightened interest took place in Louisiana, which is a very conservative, “tough on crime” kind of place.

The new development is that Louisiana citizens who, in spirit, support locking folks up have become opposed to the State’s decision to spend well over six million taxpayer dollars on the criminal prosecution and the civil litigation in the Angola 3 case. Many more Louisiana citizens, after realizing this case was built on deals with criminals and false testimony and official misconduct, voiced their opposition to what State officials have done and continue to do in the case.

Others have begun to see that corruption has played a part in this case as contracts for legal work on the Angola 3 case have been awarded to associates who have a financial incentive to engage in dilatory tactics at the expense of Louisiana taxpayers.

Other citizens were called to act because the global reputation of the United States is being compromised as the world looks at us in judgment for this human rights abuse. The next step is to see this channeled and to see mobilization follow.

A3N:    While it is important to examine how Albert and the Angola 3’s story represent much broader issues of injustice, we also do not want to forget that above all, Albert is a human being. Shifting to a more personal level, can you tell us about your visits with Albert? What have you learned from Albert?

AB:    It is my personal feeling that the Angola 3 were anointed and called to do the courageous and significant work they have done both collectively and individually. It is a message I often speak to them. In my view, this is why they weren’t murdered or harmed behind bars by other inmates.

It is also my feeling that this is the source of grace that Albert displays. He has his vulnerable, grief-stricken moments, but he has many more days of peace. The suits the Angola 3 filed and the organizing they did has led to better conditions for many others.

Albert has taught me: how to speak mightily with a few words; how to be patient while never waiting; that freedom has more to do with liberation than it does location or station; that Christ, who was a carpenter himself, consistently uses the least valued people (in man’s terms)─people who the world could see little value in─to accomplish some of the most profound changes; how to fight evil without ever balling a fist or loading a weapon; how a liberated mind in the head of an African American man often results in a symbolic, social warning label; how to resist the urge to allow fear to serve as an excuse for lack of service; how to manifest the Biblical teaching that love is the greatest commandment of all; and, how to minister without preaching.

A3N:    How much physical contact, if any, has been allowed during visits? Based on your experience visiting Albert, how important is it for prisoners to be able to hug and express friendship through human touch with their visitors?

AB:    Louisiana officials have branded sixty-eight-year-old Albert Woodfox, who is afflicted with a litany of health problems, the most dangerous man in America, despite their own records documenting that he is and has been a model prisoner.

In fulfillment of this marketing strategy and act of wordplay, Albert’s visits are restricted.  They are no contact, limited to an hour and are observed closely.  Even the Bible recognizes that man was not born to be alone.  Isolation violates biblical principles, as well as medical research, legal precedent and human rights principles.

The practice of prolonged isolation even runs counter to the thinking of Pope Francis, US Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, certain doctors, academics, human rights advocates and architects, Human Rights Rapporteur Juan E. Mendez, the American Bar Association, the American Correctional Association, the National Defense Association and many other credible voices.  It especially makes no sense when a person is elderly and harmless as was the case with Herman Wallace and as is the case with Albert Woodfox.

Society is better off when inmates maintain humanity and also when they do not become totally institutionalized.  Innocent human touch and meaningful interaction are quintessential ways of preserving humanity.

A3N:    Any further reflection on the personal impact of both your research & writing about the Angola 3 as well as your relationship with Albert?

AB:    These things have impacted me profoundly. They have made me keenly aware of our social regression in this country. The shift from us being somewhat of an interconnected unit during the 1960s and 1970s to a self-driven population has crippled progress where social gains are concerned. This is not meant as a judgment or an indictment. This is meant partially as a plea and partially as a call for introspection.

A3N:   Returning to your new article, A Prescription for Healing a National Wound, how does Albert’s case further illustrate the US government’s mistreatment of the BPP? Conversely, how do you feel that Albert’s release would contribute to the healing of our nation?

AB:  This case centers attention on the plight of the BPP at the hands of then FBI Director J.Edgar Hoover, who ran the FBI from 1924-1972 with unchecked authority and who ran the FBI without concern for the constitution or best practices. He ran the FBI as a personal enterprise to silence minorities, activists and anyone else who he could produce a reason not to like. Many times, his reasoning was not sound. He used his power to crush and silence people and he regularly violated the law in order to do so.

We, as a society, have never assessed the harm that flowed from this–the lives and careers that he wrongly destroyed; the current leaders who rode their way to the top doing what he groomed them to do and who have continued what he started; the impact that this had on activism and dissent in America; and the many people who lost their liberty as a result of his abuses of power. The Angola 3 case illuminates these concerns.

The Angola 3 case also brings attention to the growing problem of prosecutorial misconduct in this country and especially in Louisiana. Evidence was suppressed and testimony was induced. Inmates who initially denied knowledge of the murder changed testimony in exchange for favors. When asked about this under oath, state officials denied this, but proof now exists. Several courts have now concluded that grand jury discrimination was at play in Herman Wallace’s trial and also in Albert Woodfox’s trial. A grand juror who was married to a former Angola warden ended up serving on one of Albert’s grand juries and she actually brought a book she authored into deliberations, which contained negative overtures about the case.

Not only does this create a distrust for the judicial system, much of this created additional victims as some of the inmates whose testimony was “bought” were rewarded with freedom. Some of these criminals went on to commit additional crimes. The release of these criminals also re-victimized victims who were forced to live with the knowledge that the person who victimized them was back amongst them in society.

This case is a powerful educational tool for citizens who have thus far placed great faith in the words “convicted” or “a jury found him guilty.” Many people naively take these words at face value. For a large population of American citizens, convictions are obtained without any credible evidence. Many people, after seeing the “evidence” used against Albert Woodfox, now understand this point.

In Albert’s case, there was a bloody crime scene. It was one of the most ideal crime scenes imaginable because where else are fingerprints of every person on the property on file? None of the forensic evidence, including a bloody fingerprint found at the scene, matched Albert Woodfox or Herman Wallace.  (See Woodfox v. Cain, 609 F.3d 774, 810 (5th Cir. La.), Jun 21, 2010). The authorities’ outrageous refusal to check this fingerprint against their own database of inmates’ fingerprints continues to this day. In 2008, NPR asked Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell why the state refuses to test the print. “A fingerprint can come from anywhere,” Caldwell explained. “We’re not going to be fooled by that.”

Albert even passed a polygraph test. In absence of any physical evidence, what was used against him was “bought” testimony from dangerous criminals, such as a legally blind man who, under oath, swore he saw things on the day of the murder, a robbery convict who was released in exchange for his testimony and then committed more robberies. This was done, not once, but twice. In Louisiana, state appellate courts signed off on this, not because of a conspiracy, but because of their design. When a criminal case is appealed, the court can’t revisit all the facts and evidence and act as a de facto jury. They must use standards of review and they are only allowed a narrow window into the case.

When insufficiency of evidence is raised in a criminal case, the state appellate court in Louisiana can only consider, in the light most favorable to the prosecution, if the record suggests any reasonable juror could have found the defendant guilty. Under this standard, it is rare to see a criminal case reversed on appeal. The state appellate process is much like a sniff test. They take a quick sniff then move on to the next one in line.

In Albert’s second trial, then Warden Henderson, while under oath, swore no incentives had been offered to the serial rapist, Hezekiah Brown, who they used to testify against Albert. The prosecutor stood before the court and praised this lying rapist. Specifically, he said he was proud of the lying rapist and he remarked that the lying rapist was courageous. This issue was brought up in an appeal before the federal court. That court agreed that this conduct was troubling, but no official action has ever been undertaken to address it.

This sets the stage for the next unsuspecting defendant to walk into the grips of the same cast of characters and the show begins all over again. Under a system that dispenses justice in this fashion, any one of us could be Albert Woodfox. That lesson is finally resonating.

Albert’s release could also highlight an ugly chapter in our history where the BPP is concerned. It could show the type of selfless work they did and the type of harm that came to many of them as a result. It could also aid in bringing an end to this era of social purgatory they have lived in and under since the 1960s.

In each of these contrasting ways, people will become informed then empathy and dialog will follow.  These things lead to societal healing.

Septima Clark and the Role of Civil Rights Education in South Carolina and Beyond

African American woman played a prominent role in linking mass literacy to politics

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

In the aftermath of the massacre of nine African Americans at the Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) by a white racist on June 17, we must continue the examination of the legacy of the Civil Rights struggle in Charleston, South Carolina.

A previous article recounted the resistance role of the AME Church in Charleston with co-founder Denmark Vesey as his comrades being targeted by the slavocracy for plotting insurrection in 1822.

Other leading organizers in the African struggle against slavery and institutional racism were from the state of South Carolina, one of the most notable being AME Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (1834-1915), who was born in the antebellum period and rose to prominence as a soldier in the Union Army during the Civil War, a politician during Reconstruction and a proponent of Pan-Africanism during the latter years of life in late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Leading Role of Septima Clark

An often overlooked figure in the African American movement was Septima Poinsette Clark. Born on May 3, 1898 in Charleston, Clark studied education and became a teacher.

She joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) which during the early 20th century was considered a dangerous militant organization by the southern ruling class. Legalized segregation was the law of the South and many areas of the North of the United States.

In an entry published by biograpy.com, it says that “Clark qualified as a teacher, but Charleston did not hire African Americans to teach in its public schools. Instead, she became an instructor on South Carolina’s Johns Island in 1916. In 1919, Clark returned to Charleston to teach at the Avery Institute. She also joined with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in trying to get the city to hire African-American teachers. By gathering signatures in favor of the change, Clark helped ensure that the effort was successful.”

Septima Poinsette married Nerie Clark in 1920 however he died of kidney failure five years later. She then relocated to Columbia, South Carolina, the capital, and continued her education career.

There she joined the local chapter of the NAACP. Clark worked consistently with the organization along with Atty. Thurgood Marshall, leading activist. In 1945 they initiated a legal case demanding equal pay for African American and white teachers. Clark later described the case as her “first effort in a social action challenging the status quo.”

After winning the case her salary as a teacher increased threefold. Similar cases were filed in various states throughout the South during the 1940s.

She then went back to Charleston in 1947, securing another teaching position, and continuing her activism in the NAACP. Nonetheless, in 1956, the racist state government in South Carolina made it illegal for public employees to hold memberships in civil rights organizations. Clark, being a principled organizer and fighter in the anti-racist movement refused to resign from the NAACP and consequently was fired from her job after decades of service.

Civil Rights and Mass Education

Despite these setbacks, Clark continued her pioneering work in the Civil Rights Movement which was gaining mass support during the mid-to-late 1950s. She realized the necessity of adult literacy in the struggle for voting rights and advancement within the labor market.

After being terminated as a public school teacher in South Carolina, Clark went to work for Tennessee’s Highlander Folk School, an institution that trained organizers in the labor and the Civil Rights Movements. She was not a newcomer to the Highlander School having led workshops there during breaks from teaching in South Carolina. In fact Rosa Parks, popularly known as the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” had attended workshops conducted by Clark in 1955 prior to the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott later that same year.

Clark was appointed as the director of the Highlander’s Citizenship School program. This program assisted working people and farmers in learning how to instruct others in their communities in the fields of basic literacy and mathematics. As a result of these projects more people were able to register to vote, since Southern states often utilized literacy tests to exclude African Americans from the franchise.

By 1961 the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which was founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other ministers in 1957, adopted the education project. Clark soon joined the SCLC as its director of education and teaching. Under her direction, more than 800 citizenship schools were established.

Clark became the first woman to occupy a seat on the board of the SCLC. She had to deal with an organization which was male-dominated and still burdened with paternalism.

Another leading African American woman organizer Ella Baker, who had also worked with the NAACP during the 1930s and 1940s, served as the first executive director of the SCLC but left the organization after differences with its leaders. Baker convened the South-wide youth conference in April 1960 at Shaw College in Raleigh, North Carolina which led to the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Significance of Septima Clark Today

A pioneer in mass education, Clark’s work linked adult literacy to the struggle for Civil Rights and political representation. Political education in needed desperately in 2015 as African Americans renew the struggle against racism and for self-determination along with full equality.

Since the height of the Civil Rights Movement, the ruling class has waged a campaign to reverse all the gains won during the period between the 1940s and 1970s. Today the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been stripped of its enforcement provisions while in many states affirmative action programs designed to re-correct historic disparities in education, housing, employment and women rights have been eviscerated.

In order to wage these necessary struggles workers, oppressed people and women must be organized and politically educated. A study and recognition of the lives and contributions of Septima Clark, Ella Baker, Rosa Parks and countless other African American women should be evoked.

Septima Clark died in 1987 after publishing two autobiographies, one in 1962 entitled: “Echo in My Soul and a later one “Ready From Within” in 1987, the year of her passing. She would win recognition for her contributions in the literary field as well.

Her legacy is a well-secured within the history of the African American people and all forces fighting for an end to racism and inequality.


Abayomi Azikiwe has written extensively on African affairs with specific reference to historical studies and political economy. He has done research on the origins and political ideology of the African National Congress, its leaders as well as other national liberation movements and regional organizations  in Southern Africa.

Related:
Charleston Massacre and the Revolutionary Legacy of Denmark Vesey

Imperialism and the Making of the Migration Crisis

The unprecedented scale of global migration and migrant deaths are deliberate, not coincidental.

By Harsha Walia

Leading up to World Refugee Day on Saturday, the United Nations unveiled a devastating and damning report on the scale of global displacement. The U.N.’s Refugee Agency data reveals a total of 59.5 million people are displaced around the world. With one in every 122 people being internally displaced or seeking asylum in a new country, this is the highest level of displaced people ever recorded. It is also the largest leap recorded within a single year, and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres calls it “a staggering acceleration” that will only worsen.

This 56-page report illuminates the context for Angela Davis’ remarks in Germany last month, when she declared that the “refugee movement is the movement of the 21st century.” Patterns of displacement and migration reveal the unequal relations between rich and poor, between North and South, between whiteness and its racialized others.

Roots of the Migration Crisis

Aptly titled “World at War,” the U.N. report names wars and persecution as the drivers of forced displacement. Almost 14 million of the 59.5 million are newly displaced people over the past year, with an average of 42,500 people becoming refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced every single day primarily due to military conflicts.

The four-year civil war in Syria has created 11.6 million refugees, giving Syria the unfortunate honor of being the leading source country of refugees. Turkey, which neighbors Syria to the north, has become host to the world’s largest refugee population with almost 2 million refugees within its borders. Due to the ongoing occupation of Palestine by Israel, there are an estimated 5 million Palestinian refugees registered with a separate U.N. agency, UNRWA, in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

While militarization and persecution are typically understood as primary forces of migration, forces of economic violence, climate change and gendered violence are all also causing displacement. The forced privatization and neoliberalization of subsistence farming has resulted in the loss of rural land for millions, particularly women peasants, across Asia, Africa, and South and Central America.

Though the U.N. report does not tackle displacements due to corporate interests and free trade deals, a recent study by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Huffington Post found that over the last decade, World Bank-funded projects physically or economically displaced 3.4 million people, forcing them from their homes, taking their land or damaging their livelihoods.

According to statistics by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, by the year 2020 there will be 50 million climate refugees. A day after the U.N. report on displacement, Pope Francis released his encyclical on climate change in which he articulates the connection between the climate, capitalist, and migration crises. He writes:

“Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry … There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world.”

Border Militarization

“you broke the ocean in
half to be here.
only to meet nothing that wants you”
– Nayyirah Waheed

Despite the popular myth of First World benevolence toward refugees, 86 percent of refugees are actually in countries of the global South. Yet some of the most intense border enforcement policies – informed by long-standing racial fears of brown and Black migrants – are being undertaken by countries in the global North.

Immigration detention centers are the most visible sites of border enforcement policies, with migrant detainees forming one of the fastest growing prison populations around the Western world. In Canada, an immigration detainee being held in a maximum-security facility died June 11 in a local hospital after being restrained by officers. There have been at least 11 documented deaths in immigration detention custody in Canada since 2000. This week in Arizona over 200 migrant detainees at the Eloy Detention Center launched a hunger strike in response to the death of Jose de Jesus Deniz-Sahagun, who was beaten by guards. In the U.S., 106 people have died in immigration detention centers since 2003, and since 1998, more than 6,000 migrants have died trying to cross the U.S.–Mexico border.

Geographer Reece Jones documents how three countries alone, including the U.S. and Israel, have built over 3,500 miles of walls on their borders. An estimated half of all displaced people are children and a fraction of these children – around 50,000 children – traveling as unaccompanied minors primarily from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border last year.

Other countries, such as those in Western Europe, have pushed their border outwards to create  “Fortress Europe.” The EU spent about US$2.2 billion between 2007-2013 to fortify its external borders through naval surveillance. Such “prevention-by deterrence” strategies have received international condemnation, with Amnesty International declaring, “The human tragedies unfolding every day at Europe’s borders are neither inevitable, nor beyond the EU’s control. Many are of the EU’s making. EU member states must, at last, start putting people before borders.”

The International Organization for Migration has recorded 40,000 migration-related deaths around the world since 2000. Since that year, over 22,000 migrants have lost their lives trying to reach Europe. In the 2014 alone, over 3,000 migrants died in the Mediterranean, while this year over 800 died off the coast of Libya in a devastating boat wreck in April.

Recently, some European politicians suggested military operations to intercept and destroy boats transporting migrants and refugees off the coast of Libya. Perversely, these interventions were justified as humanitarian ones to target human smugglers, deemed modern-day slave-traders. Hundreds of academics immediately challenged this putatively progressive rhetoric, writing: “To attempt to crush [people-smuggling] with military force is not to take a noble stand against the evil of slavery, or even against ‘trafficking’. It is simply to continue a long tradition in which states, including slave states of the 18th and 19th century, use violence to prevent certain groups of human beings from moving freely.”

Indeed, border militarization policies make migrants’ journeys precarious and perilous. Bodies battering onto the shores and blistering in deserts may invoke sympathy and international discussions on how to “manage” the fatalities, but rarely do they invoke our collective sense of complicity and responsibility for migrant displacement and death. Geographer Mary Pat Brady describes migrant deaths as “a kind of passive capital punishment” where “immigrants have been effectively blamed for their own deaths.”

It is not a coincidence that migrant deaths are increasing every year, or that they happen at all. Migrants are dying at borders and in detention centers precisely because militarized borders and exclusionary immigration policies are intended to make their bodies, journeys and humanities vulnerable and expendable.

Harsha Walia (@HarshaWalia) is a South Asian activist and writer based in Vancouver, unceded Indigenous Coast Salish Territories in Canada. She has been involved in community-based grassroots migrant justice, feminist, anti-racist, Indigenous solidarity, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements for 15 years. She is the author of Undoing Border Imperialism.

Zero Tolerance for Racism


June 18, 2015

An historic Black church in Charleston, S.C., has been hit by an act of racist terrorism. The nine people killed on June 17 may not be victims of the systematic racism of the police and courts that the Black Lives Matter movement has been combating. They also may not be the victims of an organized conspiracy — that remains to be seen. But their deaths were not accidental.

The killings took place in a local atmosphere where it is normal for the state government to fly the flag of slavery on its lawn. Where the local cops have mingled with the Ku Klux Klan and recruited their members. And vice versa.

It’s a national atmosphere where capitalist corporate media hacks can call African-American youths “thugs” on network and cable television. An atmosphere where cops gather in demonstrations to demand their “right” to shoot Black and other people of color at will, without question or redress. A country where the airwaves and written words are still heavy with racism 150 years after slavery’s official end.

Those in power are already calling the suspect, Dylann Roof, a “lone, deranged individual.” If this individual is guilty of pulling the trigger, however, there is no doubt that his “derangement” was crafted in a society steeped in racism. Assuming the media reports are accurate, the suspect felt comfortable wearing the symbols of apartheid South Africa and racist, colonial Rhodesia — the country that is now independent and named Zimbabwe. And according to survivors, he repeated the vile lies racists have used for centuries to focus anger at Black men.

Those who fell from his bullets were women and men, churchgoers and political activists, union members and people who fought for their rights. Their church was the church of Denmark Vesey, whose name will live in the history of the fight for freedom because he made plans in 1822 for a massive slave uprising in the city of Charleston. Only torture and executions by the slave masters were able to prevent it.

As with all those who have died on the front lines of the struggles for rights, the cause of those just murdered in Denmark Vesey’s church should be taken up by all who want justice in this country and in the world.

Trade unions, rights organizations, progressive political organizations from all communities in the United States should rally together and bring this message to the streets across the country:

Zero tolerance for racism against Black people and any people of color! Solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and with all who are victims of racist police violence! Class solidarity of all working people, who must stand together to win rights for all!

International Action Center

The atrocity in Charleston: ‘Let this trauma drive the struggle for Black Liberation’

By Lamont Lilly
June 18, 2015

When nine defenseless people are killed in a church, it’s not a “shooting,” it’s a massacre. When a 21-year-old white male who wears racist hate badges on his jacket walks into a church and murders nine unarmed Black people, I don’t call that just a “hate crime” by a lone wolf. It’s a terrorist attack by a white supremacist.

Unfortunately, the following description is exactly what happened on June 17 in Charleston, S.C., between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.

According to witnesses and recent reports, the accused 21-year-old gunman, Dylann Roof, walked in to Emanuel A.M.E. Church around 8:00 p.m. Local police were called around 9:00 p.m. According to witnesses and on the scene survivors, Roof reloaded five times. Eight people died at the scene, including the church’s pastor, Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney.

After a 14-hour hunt, Roof was finally arrested in Shelby, N.C., just a few miles west of Charlotte, N.C., which is the former home of police shooting victim Jonathan Ferrell.

Adding insult to painful injury, the flag on South Carolina’s Capitol lawn — the flag of the Confederacy — is now flying at half-staff to “commemorate” the nine Black lives, dead at the bloody hands of a racist terrorist. Such a gesture is nothing less than a slap in the face to human dignity — acid to an open wound of injustice and inequality.

We don’t need to have a conversation about race. We need to have a conversation about revolution and Black Liberation. There’s a difference, a political and very serious difference. Ironically, Charleston’s historic Emanuel AME Church has a deeply entrenched history in the struggle for Black Liberation and people’s resistance.

In 1822, Denmark Vesey, one of the church’s original founders, was investigated and captured by slave authorities for his plan of organizing a slave revolt there in Charleston. After being sold out by an informant, Vesey and 36 other enslaved African descendants were hanged.

For the church’s involvement in a plot to resist, it was burned to the ground by local authorities and vigilantes. Black Codes and Jim Crow laws were quickly enacted to restrict all forms of slave assembly, including churches statewide. Traveling passes became required, while the slave patrol became the first form of organized and paid U.S. policing. Black people were literally forced to worship underground in that church for over 30 years until 1865. Common sense says you don’t fly a “Confederate flag” at half mast to commemorate a history like this.

Anyone who knows the history of the U.S. South is well familiar with the ruthless legacy of the state of South Carolina. Charleston was at one point the largest and most important slave port in North America. This same city and local municipality is directly responsible for the brutal death of Walter Scott just a few months ago. Scott was shot eight times in the back by a Charleston police officer. Only because that killing was captured on live video was truth able to reach the masses.

When Black youth from the oppressed communities of Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore and Oakland, Calif., decided to stand on courage and rebel against police brutality, racism and the capitalist system, they were called “thugs,” “rioters” and “hoodlums.” For some reason, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, a well-trained white supremacist, is being referred to by corporate media as a “lone wolf” who must have been “mentally ill.” That media completely fails to address the core issues, nor have they used the correct language.

Now is the time for the Black Church to return to its roots of organized resistance, of freedom fighting and liberation. As we also remember the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four little girls, let us channel this anger into movement building just as our ancestors did. Let this pain inspire us to rally our communities and organize every block. Let this trauma drive a new generation to pursue their freedom and complete liberation.

May the people rise above their oppressors.



Chairman Omali Yeshitela (African People’s Socialist Party), Rev. Bruce Wright (Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign) and Penny Hess (African People’s Solidarity Committee) point out the colonial relationship Africans in the U.S. and the nine Africans killed by a white American terrorist in Charleston, SC.

Empire of Bases : The Truth About Diego Garcia

From Africa, Middle East, Latin America to Ukraine – Snowden & Human Rights : Theatre vs Reality

By Tortilla Con Sal

Recent legislative theatricals in the US Congress once again brought the issue of mass surveillance into the corporate media headlines and with it the continuing hype around Edward Snowden. Ever since Snowden made his revelations, his supporters have claimed his actions constitute a heroic defence of fundamental civil rights in the United States and countries of the European Union.

The latest corporate media reports argue that Snowden has been largely responsible for a major change in Western country legislation defending fundamental civil rights. But the reality behind this extraordinary campaign of exaggeration and illusion looks very different in the light of actual events and a critical look at their media diffusion.

Whatever Edward Snowden’s own intentions may have been, his revelations have been exploited by the psychological warfare apparatus of the United States government and its allies. The media and political management of his revelations have helped the US government consolidate and legitimize existing covert mass surveillance practices in the United States and overseas.

USA Today reported on June 2nd, “The Senate overwhelmingly voted Tuesday to end the controversial bulk collection of the phone data of millions of Americans who have no ties to terrorism.” The USA Today report included a tweet from President Obama “Glad the Senate finally passed the USA Freedom Act. It protects civil liberties and our national security. I’ll sign it as soon as I get it.”

However, Barack Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers than any President before him. So it seems rational to infer that he will sign off on what is nothing more than a procedural administrative tweak. Let’s face it: substantially, it changes nothing. Even the New York Times reported the day before the vote “Even if Congress ultimately restricts domestic surveillance, it will leave intact the vast majority of the post-Sept. 11 programs authorized by two presidents.

Numerous writers have correctly noted that the new law merely places the formality of a routine administrative procedure – the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) tribunal – between the US government’s spies and the mass data they previously collected unhindered. The corporate media and non-governmental Edward Snowden industry spin this as a vindication of Snowden’s revelations.

But Edward Snowden’s support network is almost completely compromised, one way or another, by most of its members’ relations with the the political and corporate establishment of the US and its NATO allies. For example, film-maker Laura Poitras in 2012 received a US$500,000 fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation, whose then President Robert Gallucci was previously a very high level strategic adviser to the US government.

Glenn Greenwald has been the main proselytizer managing what in many ways is a Snowden cult. Greenwald moved swiftly from his work managing Edward Snowden’s material for the Guardian to working for billionaire Pierre Omidyaar, whose own business empire has corporate links to the US government intelligence network, in particular Booz Allen Hamilton, for whom Snowden used to work.

Edward Snowden himself is an espionage professional, so what he says or does should certainly not be taken at face value. That said, it does seem clear that far from having radical progressive politics he is very much a US patriot with staunch libertarian views, not at all opposed to US foreign policy as such.

While the North American and European progressives who promote Edward Snowden congratulate themselves on their commitment to human rights, almost everywhere else in the world their human rights agenda has been made to look hollow, self-serving and hypocritical. The psy-warfare exploitation of Edward Snowden’s revelations categorically confirms the truism that human rights concerns derive from political, not humanitarian concerns, as events in Palestine, Libya, Syria, Ukraine demonstrate

In Libya, among many other even more extreme examples, hundreds of former officials of the Libyan Jamahiriya have been tortured and abused prior to the sinister farce of judicial process under the control of ISIL terrorists who make a mockery of Islam. Those Libyans, including Saif Gaddhafi, face the death sentence. But Western human rights advocates have nothing to say about these phony trials or their governments’ destruction of Libya because they were cheerleaders for it.

In Palestine, the UN General Secretary has just decided not to include the Israeli government on the list of governments harming children through armed conflict, despite overwhelming evidence including the repeated genocidal massacres in Gaza. Western human rights advocates tend to play down this kind of shameful, indefensible decision and other examples like it, because they fear zionist accusations of “anti-semitism”.

In Ukraine, the fascist regime there has overseen the murder of dozens of journalists, like Oles Buzyna, and anti-regime activists like Oleg Kalashnikov under cover of almost complete silence from the US government and its European Union allies. Western human rights organizations too have next-to-nothing to say beyond ritual denunciations because they are reluctant to seem “pro-Russian”.

In Syria, as in Libya, Western human rights organizations and liberal and progressive NATO country media outlets have vociferously promoted one falsehood after another, that government military arbitrarily murdered large numbers of “peaceful demonstrators”, that “Assad” used chemical weapons in Ghouta or that “Assad” deliberately targets civilians.

It is hard to believe mere coincidence leads the same corporate media and human rights networks to promote Edward Snowden’s revelations ostensibly against government policy, alongside the propaganda line of those same governments targeting Syria, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia and China and so on. That only adds up if one goes to sleep each night listening to the fairy tale of “objective reporting” as read by the BBC or CBS, or Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – an organization funded (and founded) by George Soros, the same man who destabilized the Ukraine and is a close associate to President Petró Poroshenko.

Edward Snowden’s revelations can be looked at in any number of ways, some more plausible than others. A credible view on the available evidence to date is that the material he has made available has been managed to legitimize long standing covert practice by Western intelligence gathering agencies while also providing a handy human rights and democracy alibi to Western media.

Western government support for their corporate oligarchies following the crash of 2008 compounded Western media embarrassment at their governments’ well-documented human rights abuses, from Iraq and Afghanistan, to Guantanamo and the US corporate industrial penal system. The Snowden revelations have been exploited by Western corporate media so as to offer a theatrical human rights and democracy distraction from past and current crimes by the US government and its NATO allies.

Those governments are guilty of murdering many hundreds of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Ivory Coast and Libya, as well as more current support for genocidal Nazi militias in Ukraine and for takfiri terrorists across the Arab world and Central Asia. Not surprisingly, they are also determined enemies of the emancipatory processes of change in Latin America and the Caribbean, targeting especially the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.

Now the same corporate media and human rights networks that attack Venezuela and its allies are falsely reporting, with all the unison of an accomplished choir, an important civil rights victory thanks to Edward Snowden. That should give decisive pause for thought, because by now few will disagree that the underlying reality of the management of Edward Snowden’s revelations is very different from their superficial appearance.
https://i2.wp.com/stopimperialism.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Syria-Civil-War.jpg


Related:
Psy-warfare and NATO Country Terrorism – Ukraine, Venezuela, Snowden
Snowden: Overlooking the Obvious
Snowden Revisited
Inculcating Stupidity: Syria and Edward Snowden
Reflections on the category “journalism” and the revelations by Edward Snowden
Snowden: Behind NATO’s propaganda outlet for progressives – the Guardian’s board members
Mr. Snowden, It’s Time to Come Out and Take a Stand Publicly as to Your Intentions
The Risks of Trusting the Snowden Story

Albert Woodfox, Ex-Black Panther, Released after 43 Years in Solitary Confinement

The United Nations has demanded states ban solitary confinement for periods longer than 15 days, calling it an act of torture. A U.S. judge ordered Tuesday the release of prisoner Albert Woodfox from solitary confinement, where he has been kept for 43 years for a crime he did not commit.
Woodfox is one of three inmates known as the ‘Angola Three‘ who were thrown into isolation in 1972, after being accused of killing a guard during a prison riot.

Over the course of the years, Woodfox was twice convicted at trial for the guard’s murder, but both convictions were overturned on the grounds of racial prejudice and lack of evidence.

He has been waiting in solitary confinement for the third trial to begin. U.S. district judge James Brady, who presided over the case from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, ordered Woodfox’s unconditional release and ruled that he could not be tried again for the guard’s death.

“The only just remedy is an unconditional writ of habeas corpus barring retrial of Mr. Albert Woodfox and releasing Mr. Woodfox from custody immediately,” Brady wrote.

His lawyers, George Kendall and Carine Williams, went to seek Woodfox’ release Monday night.

“Mr. Woodfox has spent 40 years in solitary confinement under constitutionally invalid convictions,” they said, happy and relieved with the ruling.

“The only just remedy is his immediate release from prison.”

Not everyone was happy with the federal judges decision this week, however. Louisiana Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell has vowed to appeal.

“With today’s order, the court would see fit to set free a twice-convicted murderer,” said Aaron Sadler, a spokesperson for Caldwell. He called the judge’s ruling a “free pass” to freedom “based on faulty procedural issues.” Woodfox, now 68 years old, is the last of the three to be released from solitary confinement.

After spending 43 years alone, he has been the longest serving solitary confinement inmate in the country.

His case has drawn international condemnation, with human rights groups calling his treatment an act of torture. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez had previously called on the U.S. to immediately end the solitary confinement imposed on Woodfox, but has been ignored by U.S. authorities for almost two years.

“Keeping Albert Woodfox in solitary confinement for more than four decades clearly amounts to torture and it should be lifted immediately,” said Mr. Mendez in October, 2013. “I am deeply concerned about his physical and mental condition,” he added.

According to Tory Pegram of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3, Woodfox has been staying in a cell measuring eight by 12 feet, and was allowed to exercise for one hour three times a week.

The Angola Three were named after the Louisiana penitentiary where they were being held, which lies in close proximity to the former Angola plantation. The other two members of the trio include Robert King and Herman Wallace, who were both released when their conviction was overturned in 2001 and 2013, respectively. They were all initially serving time for armed robbery. When the three men were sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary in 1971, they helped establish a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party, a militant group that defended the rights of African Americans in the U.S. in the 1960s and 70s. At the time, they were active in hunger strikes and work stoppages to protest against the conditions inside the infamous prison. Riots also ensued.

The men believe they were singled out for the 1972 riot killing because of their activism, but maintained they were not responsible for the death.

“We look forward to Mr. Woodfox going home to his family; getting much needed medical attention; and living the remainder of his days in peace,” said Woodfox’s lawyers.

The United Nations has previously called on all states to ban solitary confinement for periods longer than 15 days. But according to the U.S. based advocacy website Solitary Watch, there are currently some 25,000 individuals being held in long-term isolation in the nation’s “supermax” facilities.

teleSUR


Related:
Fifth Circuit Issues Temporary Stay of Judge Brady’s Ruling to Release Albert Woodfox
BREAKING!: Judge Brady orders Albert Woodfox’s Unconditional Release & Retrial Banned!! (Stay Tuned for Updates)

 

Nuclear Horror Still Haunts Trinity, New Mexico, 70 Years On

https://vamadevananda.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/4f423-l_76fda3c0-66ec-11e1-8276-b539a7e00001.jpg?w=736By Finian Cunningham

America’s New Mexico state saw the birth of nuclear weapons 70 years ago at the Trinity test site, where the world’s first ever atomic explosion occurred. That was on July 16, 1945. Less than one month later, the bomb was dropped on Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki wiping out some 200,000 lives in an instant.

Now the American state is grappling with the sinister problem of trying to bury seven decades of nuclear waste from America’s military-industrial complex. In many ways, the horror of nuclear weaponry still haunts the very place where it was first unleashed.

US federal and state politicians are planning to make New Mexico the permanent burial site for highly radioactive waste materials that up to now have been kept in temporary storage at other locations across the country, such as at Hanford in northwest Washington state where the nation’s main facility for producing plutonium and uranium for nuclear weapons is located.

There is, to be sure, strong opposition among various community groups and activists, who deplore the plans to scale up New Mexico’s nuclear-waste dumping. They point to an already heavy burden of environmental and public health toxicity in NM that includes not only fallout from the original Trinity test site, but also from Los Alamos Laboratories where the atomic bomb was conceived under the Manhattan Project during the 1940s, as well as from scores of uranium-ore mines, and an existing low-level nuclear waste site.

But the anti-dumping campaigners are up against the formidable US military-industrial complex and what they call a «genocidal ideology» in the east coast Washington political establishment. If plans go ahead, as seems likely, New Mexico will become the sole depository for the most dangerous of all radioactive waste in the US.

Randy Martin is one of the community campaigners trying to prevent the scaling up of nuclear-waste dumping in NM. He has been an activist on the issue for over 30 years. Some of his family relatives who had farms near the Gnome site – another disastrous nuclear-explosion test area hatched on the backs of natives and locals – succumbed to cancers and other diseases, which he believes were caused by the subsequent radioactive fallout. He reckons that thousands of people in New Mexico have been affected by inter-generational nuclear contamination.

«The trouble is that New Mexico has been enslaved to the military-industrial complex», says Martin. «Our relationship to the industry is from the cradle to the grave. This is where nuclear weapons technology was created and tested, and now we are being left with the task of burying its toxic waste».

One of the biggest advocates for the expanded waste facility in New Mexico is Republican state governor Susana Martinez. Martinez is touted to have ambitions of becoming a future vice-president in the White House. The plan is to take in high-level spent radioactive materials from all over the country, including fuel rods and bomb cores, in an expansion of an already existing low-level waste site located at Carlsbad – about 200 km from the Trinity site.

Advocates for the expansion of nuclear-waste dumping in New Mexico appear to have a strong suite of arguments in their favour. The state is one of the poorest in the whole of the US; therefore the development beckons jobs and a boost to local government coffers. There is also a onerous psychological pressure on communities to be «patriotic» in helping to serve the nation’s military. Moreover, since the Second World War, New Mexico has become so entwined with the US military that it seems extremely difficult to live without it.

The state hosts the biggest weapons testing and training sites in the whole country at the White Sands Missile Range covering 8,300 sq. km of desert at the foot of the San Andreas Mountains. The vast area encompasses the Trinity test site. There are also numerous other military bases dotted all over the state. Consequently, much of the civilian sector, even if it is not formally connected to the military, has a preponderant economic dependence on it. The argument that whatever is good for the military is good for New Mexico is a hard one to rebut. That makes it difficult for communities to oppose the plan to accept military nuclear waste even if there is an apprehension about contamination risk. Many livelihoods are at stake by not accommodating the Pentagon.

Indeed campaigners say there is a sinister, but subtle, social atmosphere that pervades the state, whereby open criticism of the environmental and public health impacts from the Pentagon’s activities is frowned upon. That creates a climate of conformity and self-censorship. Jobs and contracts can be lost on a sly say-so.

Furthermore, there is a dearth of official data on the fallout from nuclear activity in New Mexico. Incredible as it might seem, it was only last year that the federal government finally launched a comprehensive epidemiological study into the possible health impact of the Trinity atomic test – some 70 years after it took place. So up to now, no-one was too sure how deleterious that explosion was to local populations, although there is ample anecdotal evidence of high rates of cancer and other environmental impacts.

That lack of impact-data makes it difficult to mount an effective campaign against the latest plans to scale up nuclear dumping.

However, there are warning signs. Last year, there was a serious radioactive leak at the existing waste site at Carlsbad, which resulted in contamination of some dozen workers at the plant. Yet the same facility is now being lined up to take in much greater quantities of higher-level spent radioactive material. The new waste is to be stored in vast underground caverns mined from the salt-rock terrain.

Advocates for the site claim that the geology provides a safe natural deposit. But given that the waste material represents a toxic lifespan of thousands of years it is a worrying assumption that leaks will not occur from future geological events. The New Mexico waste site lies perilously above the Delaware Basin that serves as the only fresh-water source for communities in the region and is a tributary to the Rio Grande River, which outflows to the Gulf of Mexico, potentially affecting millions of lives all along the US-Mexican border.

Campaigners against nuclear-waste dumping point out that the Soviet authorities acted with much greater alacrity to the fallout of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster compared with their American counterparts over New Mexico’s decades-old concerns. Following Chernobyl, medical surveys were carried out to assess human health impacts, and the then Soviet government enacted compensation payments to victims and families. In contrast, the US federal government has tended to suppress investigations into the legacy of nuclear activity in New Mexico, and has been reluctant to provide financial compensation for those allegedly affected by it. The pervasive dominant role of the US military in the state tends to further suppress any public criticism and calls for accountability.

The historical background of colonial conquest is another telling factor. New Mexico was long considered by the Washington establishment as backward «Indian territories». The modern state of New Mexico was only formed in 1912. Prior to that it was known simply as «The Territories» – a vast borderless hinterland populated by native American tribes. The Apache Wars were being waged by the newly formed United States up to the late 1800s – only 70 years before the Trinity test explosion occurred in 1945. During those wars, the Apache tribes were among the last native Americans to be conquered in brutal campaigns of extermination.

It is no coincidence then that the «worthless deserts and conquered people» of New Mexico would be later selected by the Washington establishment as the test site for the first atomic weapon. It must be recalled that even the scientists of the Manhattan Project were not sure whether the nuclear explosion would result in a catastrophic atmospheric reaction within New Mexico and surrounding US states.

Randy Martin, the campaigner, says that horrific atomic experiment at the Trinity site in 1945 was born out of the «genocidal mentality» that the Washington government retained from the earlier conquest of native American tribes.

«That genocidal mentality persists to this day», says Martin. «The United States government and its military-industrial complex unleashed the horror of nuclear weapons in this part of the country because they saw it as a conquered territory containing conquered people. Today, the Washington establishment and its ilk still view New Mexico as a place where they think nuclear problems can be buried and forgotten».

Under the Obama administration, the Pentagon has received a budget of over $350 billion to upgrade the US arsenal of nuclear weapons over the next decade. Some observers have discerned that this nuclear resurgence under Obama is emblematic of a new Cold War with Russia and other perceived global rivals. Notwithstanding the facts that Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 in part supposedly for nuclear disarmament, and that the US is obligated to totally disarm under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that was signed 40 years ago.

Under Washington’s renewed nuclear arms quest, Los Alamos Laboratories in New Mexico has been assigned to replace plutonium cores in nuclear weapons with new fission devices. That inevitably means much greater volumes of nuclear waste will be dumped in the deserts of New Mexico.

Seventy years after Trinity, New Mexico is still being used in a pernicious nuclear experiment by the Pentagon. The toxic waste might be buried underground, but the horror lives on.

Da’esh-run Tripoli Court to Deliver Verdict on Saif Gaddafi and Former Jamahiriya Officials July 28

By Alexandra Valiente
Viva Libya!

On July 28, the Tripoli Court of Appeals will decide the fate of Saif Al Islam Gaddafi along with that of 36 former Jamahiriya officials.
01ASaif will be sentenced in absentia. He has been detained incommunicado in Zintan since his arrest in 2011. He was never permitted to attend the mock trials in Tripoli and proceedings that may have taken place in Zintan are shrouded in secrecy.  Saif has been denied legal counsel and contact with family and friends. No witnesses were allowed to testify on his behalf.

(Libya, ICC, and UNSC Violate Saif Gaddafi’s Right to a Fair Trial) | (Urgent: Regarding Saif Al Islam Gaddafi and Other Political Prisoners in Libya) | (Mock Trials For Saif Gaddafi and 36 Officials Postponed Until November 30) | (Safia Qaddafi Calls for Justice)

Saif Gaddafi’s first International Criminal Court defense counsel, Ms. Melinda Taylor, was forcibly detained in Zintan. At that time, the Libyan authorities attempted to blackmail Ms. Taylor and the International Criminal Court, promising her immediate release on the condition that she disclosed the location of a key witness who would testify on behalf of Saif Gaddafi. 1

Saif’s current lawyer, John Jones, has had no contact with his client since his appointment three years ago.
https://vivalibya.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/15626748947_3a50c4a0c5_b.jpg?w=700Libya’s ongoing violation of the rights of political prisoners has drawn condemnation from the Association of Libyan Lawyers, international human rights organizations, the Red Cross | Red Crescent, the International Criminal Court and the United Nations.

(HRW : Letter to the ICC Prosecutor : Accountability for Serious Crimes in Libya and Justice for Political Prisoners | UN Security Council: Address Libya’s Crimes and the Urgent Needs of Political Prisoners | Fatou Bensouda (ICC) at UNSC on Libya)

There are over 40, 000 political prisoners in Libya, all held in filthy, militia-run detention centers where they endure inhumane conditions, extreme deprivation and routine torture. Many have been executed following kangaroo tribunals or perished from injuries inflicted from beatings.  Thousands are detained for having black skin.

The Libyan Refugee Trap(Lists of Political Prisoners Currently Detained in Libya |The Names Of Over 1000 Political Prisoners In Libya Detained Because They Are Black)

And more to the point, it is Da’esh and militias that are in power. Libya has no functioning government.

Thus calls from the United Nations and human rights bodies can find no competent target for their demands.

(OHCHR | UNHCR Appeal to al Qaeda to Permit them to Resume Operations in Tripoli)

There is no doubt that each prisoner has been denied a fair trial. In exceptional cases where prisoners had defense counsel, lawyers were forced to withdraw due to threats to their lives.

All prisoners have been brutally tortured in an effort to force false confessions.

The charges brought against them have been fantastic and unsubstantiated. Hence,  prisoners and their defense teams were never permitted to bring evidence or witnesses forward that could irrefutably prove their innocence.

(Saif al Islam Gaddafi and Former Government Officials Deny All Charges)

However innocent the prisoners facing sentencing on July 28 may be, the charges leveled against them by the regime carry the penalty of death.  The rule of law suspended,  their prospects are grim.

If they are murdered, those who have brought about the destruction of the nation will have victory.

(Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya)

Amidst an atmosphere of vengeance, violence and chaos, Libya will be plunged deeper into darkness…a desolation from which it may never recover.


Related:
LPNM Statement by the Coordinator of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
Kangaroo Court Judges to Sentence former Jamahiriya Officials July 28
Urgent Call : Liberate Libya’s Political Prisoners. Stop Their Execution!
Tripoli Trials a Violation of Every Principle of Justice
LIC STATEMENT ON THE END OF TRIALS

EU’s War on African Migrants Supports Da’esh

Reuters / Antonio Parrinello
See: Britain, Libya and the Mediterranean : The Creation of a Humanitarian Emergency

By Dan Glazebrook

In the wake of the appalling death toll in the Mediterranean at the end of April – when up to 1,300 refugees were estimated to have drowned in one week – the EU was quick to jump on the tragedy as an opportunity to ramp up military involvement in Africa.

Resisting calls to restart search-and-rescue operations, an emergency European Council meeting last month instead called for the bombing of the boats on which the migrants were fleeing, vowing to “undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers in accordance with international law.”

A leaked ‘strategy paper’ presented to the UN Security Council last week by EU foreign representative Federica Mogherini, spelled out exactly what this would entail: “The operation would require a broad range of air, maritime and land capabilities. These could include: intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; boarding teams; patrol units (air and maritime); amphibious assets; destruction air, land and sea, including special forces units.”

Meanwhile, ‘onshore activities’ might include “action along the coast, in harbor or at anchor of smugglers assets and vessels before their use.” In other words, another large scale assault on Libya waged from air, sea and land.

Needless to say the plan has been rejected by both Libyan ‘governments’ – the internationally-recognized one in Tobruk, and in a rare display of unity, also by the Libyan Dawn government based in Tripoli.

Taken at face value, such an approach to the problem of illegal migration is hard to understand. Experts have been queuing up to condemn the planned bombardment, arguing that not only will it be gratuitously cruel, but counter-productive as well. A joint statement issued by the UN’s human right experts on migrants, Francois Crepeau, and on trafficking in persons, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro warned that “Increasing repression of survival migration has not worked in the past and will not work now. Destroying boats is only a very short-sighted solution to combating smuggling. Smugglers continue to skillfully adapt, as long as there is a market to exploit.”

Indeed, the ‘war on drugs’ has already proven that militarized solutions aimed at the ‘supply side’ of criminal enterprises without addressing demand are invariably disastrous. As Ioan Grillo has brilliantly documented in the book El Narco, attempts in Mexico and Colombia to wipe out drug crops through aerial attacks over the past four decades has had two main consequences: first, it drives up the price – and therefore the profits – of the trade; second, it consolidates that trade in the hands of only the most ruthless, vicious and armed gangs. The result has been a massive concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the most ultra-violent drug cartels. The estimated 100,000 killed in Mexico’s Jalisco province over the past eight years is the latest bloody testament to this grim reality. Any attempt to deal with ‘people smuggling’ by bombing their boats out of existence would almost certainly have a similar result.

Reuters / Antonio Parrinello

In Libya, the ‘people smuggling trade’ is currently run by a plethora of small providers, some organizing occasional runs in small vessels hired from fishermen. These small providers would probably not withstand a concerted military assault. With prices going through the roof as a result of continued demand and declining supply, however, the trade would certainly continue. But it would do so in the hands only of those with the firepower necessary to run the operation in the newly militarized terrain – that is to say, in the hands of groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. And they would be doing so in a market that would have become immeasurably more profitable.

Thus, the practically guaranteed result of the EU’s strategy would not be to eliminate the ‘people smuggling’ trade, but to ensure that it helped concentrate massive wealth and firepower in the hands of Libya’s most violent gangs. This much should be obvious to any high school economics student with even a basic knowledge of supply and demand. No wonder, then, that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the Russian government, and even, apparently, parts of the French military are opposed to the plans.

So why is the EU so firmly in favor of this self-defeating exercise in moral bankruptcy? Of course, one explanation says it is simply a way for governments to outflank their far-right opponents by proving their ‘toughness on immigration.’ Cameron and his ilk, for example, can argue that not even Nigel Farage has promised to actually blow refugees out of the water! This analysis makes some sense when we note that it is Britain, France and Italy in the forefront of the ‘war party’ on this issue – all of whom have witnessed large support for anti-immigrant parties in recent years.

But seen in terms of the broad context of European capitalism’s deep, multi-layered crisis, another explanation also suggests itself.

Myself and many others have argued over the past four years that the unleashing of sectarian violence across the Middle East and North Africa was not an accidental by-product of Western foreign policy in the region, but in fact its very purpose. By the mid-2000s, the growing economic clout of the global South was presenting a very real threat to the continued European/ North American extortion of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Ever since these regions gained formal independence from colonialism, they had remained tied to former (and new) colonial powers through a million economic threads. Yet the rise of China (and to a lesser extent, India and Brazil) has smashed the West’s former monopoly of markets and finance, and has facilitated one country after another freeing themselves from economic dependence on Europe and the US, and moving towards a growing South-South cooperation in which the West has been edged out. The massive rise in Chinese investment in Africa – from $6 billion in 2000 to an estimated $200billion today is but the most vivid example of this global trend.

Destabilization through terrorism, then, has been the West’s way of using military means to claw back that power it can no longer maintain through economic manipulation alone. For destabilized regional powers cannot contribute to the growing strength of the BRICS, cannot support their regions’ moves towards self-sufficiency, and are likely to be ever more reliant on both Western military aid and international finance. By creating one failed state after another – in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Kosovo and Libya – the US and Britain have created the conditions in which terrorist activity can thrive; and then by directly supporting sectarian militias, in Libya and Syria in particular, they have ensured that these militia keep the affected countries in a state of violent chaos. That is to say, weak and dependent.

If this analysis is correct – if the West is pursuing a policy of destabilization against the global South in order to keep it weak and dependent – then the apparently self-defeating strategy of concentrating the ‘people smuggling’ trade in the hands of ISIS and Al-Qaeda suddenly makes perfect sense. It may be a desperate measure to keep these groups alive.

The tide has now definitively turned against the sectarian death squads that the West has been fostering for the past five years. No longer seen as the ‘freedom fighters of the Arab Spring’, the West’s proxy militias – and their political apologists – now inspire little more than revulsion across much of the region. This began with the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt in 2013, and continued throughout 2014 with both the military gains made by Syrian President Bashar Assad and the ousting of the pro-militia parliament in Libyan elections. In Libya, in particular, which has been steeped in sectarian violence and civil war ever since NATO’s invasion in 2011, there are some encouraging signs that the death squads’ reign of terror might be on its last legs.

Last month, the UN envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon announced that the country’s two rival factions have reached a draft accord which is “very close to a final agreement,” and each side has begun putting forward their nominees for positions within a unity government. Of course, this may yet fall though. After all, the Libya Dawn coalition – formed of militia supporters who lost the last election – has apparently rebuffed the agreement. Yet if it is rejected, this just makes it more likely that the Libya Dawn militias will simply meet with outright military defeat – for two reasons.

First, they are intensely divided. The rise of ISIS in Libya has split the so-called ‘Islamists’, with Libya Dawn now officially at war with ISIS, although this is a policy not all of the party’s militias support. Furthermore, the Misrata militias, who broadly support the idea of a ‘unity government’, are increasingly fighting other more hard-line groups that do not. While there are also divisions on the elected government’s side, so far these are on the level of political faction-fighting rather than shooting battles. Clearly the violent divisions on the Misrata – Libya Dawn – ISIS side are likely to be more corrosive than political disputes.

Second, the intervention of Egypt on the side of the elected Tobruk government has significantly altered the balance of power in that government’s favor. And according to intelligence reports from DebkaFile, Egypt is “preparing a large-scale ground and air assault along the Libyan border to oust the Islamic State group from eastern Libya.”

If Egypt does indeed wage such an assault, wiping out ISIS (together, possibly, with its allies and supporters from within Libya Dawn), that will again increase the pressure for Libya Dawn to come to a compromise or risk total annihilation. Either of these outcomes would be a serious spanner in the works to British-US led ‘divide and ruin’ strategy – in which Libya is supposed to play the role of the base of destabilization across the whole region.

Hence the urgency for a ‘new intervention’. Not only would ISIS and company see their smuggling profits boosted exponentially, but the EU plan would also pave the way for SAS involvement in revitalizing the militias (just as they did in 2011) and to serve as a bulwark against Egyptian forces.

The result would, of course, be a much more bloody conflict. But that is precisely the point.


The Barbaric Police Bombing of MOVE

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal : May 13th at 30

This essay was recorded on 4/26/2015 and was released on 5/13/2015 on the 30th anniversary of the MOVE bombing.
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Let the Fire Burn
On May 13, 1985, Philadelphia police dropped two pounds of military explosives onto a city row house occupied by the radical group MOVE. The resulting fire was not fought for over an ho
Directed by Jason Osder
Cast:Birdie Africa, John Africa, Ramona Africa
Country:United States


The Bombing of Osage Avenue, Philadelphia – May 13, 1985


When a Black Mayor Killed Black People

By Margaret Kimberley

If the purpose of Black electoral politics is to protect African American interests, the Black political class has been a colossal failure. “The disasters of mass incarceration, police murder, gentrification, privatized public schools, and austerity have all taken place on their watch.” Worse than useless, most Black elected officials are collaborators in an oppressive system.

Black politicians are as much for sale as their white counterparts.”

On May 13, 1985, Wilson Goode, the first black mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, burned down a neighborhood occupied by other black people. As mayor he had the power to start or stop actions undertaken by any city agency. He had the power to scuttle the police decision to bomb the house occupied by members of MOVE. He had the power to order the fire department to extinguish the flames. He had the power to order police to save lives that night.

The event may seem like a singular one, sparked by a series of police assaults on MOVE, one of which resulted in the death of one of their own officers. The desire of some in the community to have MOVE members leave their neighborhood also played a part in the chain of events. But one important issue can never be forgotten about this horrific episode.

The presence of a black face in a high place still provokes an almost hypnotic response from the masses of people. The deeply felt feelings of pride are based on the history of enslavement, Jim Crow humiliation and terror. While the sentiments have an historical basis and are understandable, they can also be very dangerous and create support for events just as dreadful as the destruction of Osage Avenue in Philadelphia.

Black Americans have moved from being the most consistently left wing constituency in this country to supporting actions they would otherwise oppose if a black person is elected to public office. Wilson Goode’s political career should have ended that day. Instead a group of black ministers publicly expressed their support for Goode while the fire still smoldered on the incinerated street. He was re-elected two years later and again won a majority of the black vote.

Black Americans have precious little to show for the thousands of black mayors, congress people, and city and state legislators elected to office since the 1960s. The disasters of mass incarceration, police murder, gentrification, privatized public schools, and austerity have all taken place on their watch.

A group of black ministers publicly expressed their support for Goode while the fire still smoldered on the incinerated street.”

The list of failure and dubious decision making is a long one indeed. In Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick gave the green light to the derivatives schemes which pushed that city into bankruptcy. Maynard Jackson, the first black mayor of Atlanta, fired striking city workers within months of gaining office. The Congressional Black Caucus was once the “conscience of the congress” but now acts only in support of Barack Obama, no matter how terrible the policy decisions in question.

Obama’s election was the nightmare scenario for black politics. Already teetering due to multiple treacheries from the misleadership class, black politics flat lined after the 2008 presidential campaign. When Barack Obama called for war against Syria in 2013, support was tepid at best, except in the black community. A group known for being vehemently anti-war and anti-empire suddenly turned into the largest cohort supporting a misadventure that no one else wanted.

Wilson Goode may be the only black politician responsible for killing his own people and destroying their property, but his actions have been seen in miniature across the country. Black politicians are as much for sale as their white counterparts and they will turn over public money for sports stadiums or anything else that wealthy, powerful people may demand. When developers decide to put big money back into the cities, black neighborhoods disappear and their residents are disbursed. If hedge fund captains want to destroy public schools in favor of privately funded charter schools, then black politicians will sing the praises of privatized education.

The Congressional Black Caucus now acts only in support of Barack Obama, no matter how terrible the policy decisions in question.”

The saddest part of this tale is that the masses of black people will put aside their long history of struggle against oppression if one of their own suddenly becomes the public face of bad policy. Black mayors will join in the chorus demanding more police for already over-policed communities. None of them demanded federal prosecution of the murders of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, Timothy Russell, Malissa Williams, Michael Brown or Freddie Gray.

Goode should not be seen as the lone killer among the political class. The others should not be let off the hook so easily. Hundreds of lives taken by police violence might have been saved if black politicians established true community control or demanded that the black president who gets so much love actually did something to earn it.

Mass incarceration is also a killer. Mumia Abu Jamal’s medical crisis is not unique. Prison kills otherwise healthy people and the end of this awful system should be at the top of every black politician’s agenda.

Wilson Goode’s victims should be remembered in Philadelphia. But it would be a mistake if the night of terror in 1985 was regarded as a unique event and not as part of a larger and continuing problem. The mayors and congress people and, yes, the president owe their positions to the black liberation movement. One wouldn’t know that by looking at the state of black life today. We are all Osage Avenue.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

Baja’s Day Laborers Suffer Police Repression

Chiapas Support Committee

Police repression  in Baja
EZLN in solidarity

Baja California state police attacked farmworkers on strike in that state for better wages and working conditions. On May 9, twenty (20) patrol cars full of police agents entered the Triqui community of Nuevo San Juan Copala in the San Quintín Valley under the mistaken impression that members of the Alliance of Organizations for Social Justice were there to incite some of the community’s residents to set a farm on fire. The police started to detain one person; community members came out to defend him and a few threw stones and used sticks to repel the police. The police, in turn, used rubber bullets. Police originally detained 17 people, but 12 were released. Five remain in police custody. 70 people were injured, 7 of them in gravely injured. At the close of the Seminar on “Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra,” the EZLN expressed solidarity with the day laborers. Below is a La Jornada article regarding the federal government’s handling of the strike.

A small tank is set on fire in the San Quintín Valley of Baja California

SAN QUINTÍN: IRRESPONSIBLE INDOLENCE

By Luis Hernández Navarro

From the exhaustion to the repression, from the indolence to the joke, that’s how the strategy that the federal government has traced for “resolving” the conflict of the San Quintín jornaleros [1] can be summarized.

Almost two months have passed since, last March 17, when thousands of farmworkers from this agro-exporting enclave broke out in a general strike to denounce the savage labor exploitation that they suffer and to demand a salary dignified increase. In place of resolving the movement’s demands, the government of Enrique Peña Nieto first gambled on its weakening and discouragement and, later, on violent contention.

Nevertheless, neither of those maneuvers has been effective for disarticulating the day laborer protest. Despite the eight weeks of struggle transpired, it maintains itself fed with the combination of moral indignation in the face of a savage model of exploitation and a cohesive and vigorous associative base community fabric.

The May 9 repression shows it. That day, using the pretext that they wanted to set fire to an agricultural, the state preventive police beat residents of the Triqui settlement Nuevo San Juan Copala when some of its residents were exhorting the farmworkers to maintain the strike. Residents responded by confronting the police with rage.

Nuevo San Juan Copala is a colonia of San Quintín, which in 2010 had a little more than 1,600 inhabitants, the majority Triquis. It took the name of the community of origin of its founders in Oaxaca. It was formally established in 1997 on lands occupied by jornaleros that were seeking dignified housing and that were fleeing from the oppressive agricultural camps. Since then, the collective action of its residents achieved obtaining services and basic infrastructure: orderly subdivision of land, public lighting, safe drinking water, schools and improvement of the streets. Simultaneously, it installed a figure of the Triquis’ political representation.

Its residents have developed –according to what Abbdel Camargo explains in Asentamiento y organización comunitaria– [2] a form of political and community organization that combines traditional organs of authority based on its places of origin with newly created institutions. This re-invention of tradition has permitted them to appropriate new spaces of residence, to develop collective practices that generate a strong cultural identity and to strengthen their management capacity.

The standard life of the settlement, explains Camargo, is organized around three traditional figures, natives of their communities of origin. These are: the traditional authority, the community’s political representative and mediator; the council of elders, which orients and gives its opinion on the settlement’s relevant issues, and the system of majordomos, in charge of the organization and realization of the fiestas in honor of the patron saint.

Thus, when last May 9 the state police repressed the residents of Nuevo San Juan Copala to discourage their struggle and send a signal to the striking San Quintín jornaleros about what awaited them, they butted heads with a vigorous community organization, constructed and forged from the heat of the struggle for almost two decades. The result of this maneuver was counter-productive.

The violence against residents of Nuevo San Juan Copala was the last link of a failed strategy. At first, the federal government gambled on confining the struggle to the state ambit, hoping that it would die out. When the conflict was nationalized and internationalized, it had to accede to installing a negotiating commission, headed by the assistant secretary of Governance, Luis Miranda.

Police fired rubber bullets on striking day laborers

Far from seeking solutions, the negotiating (dialogue) table between the jornaleros and the authorities last March 24 was a maneuver to gain time. The official retinue, which consisted of the governor of Baja California, Francisco Vega de la Madrid, and the heads of the IMSS, the STPS, senators and deputies, came without any proposal. First it impeded the press’ passage to the meeting. Then it behaved as if it knew nothing about the origin of the conflict. Mockingly, the governor –according to what Arturo Alcalde wrote– said to the jornaleros: “You have the word; we are here now. Tell us what your requests are.”

The public functionaries dedicated themselves to confusing the work. Finally, assistant secretary Miranda put into effect operation surprise attack: without having convened a meeting between the parties, he announced a future meeting on May 8, in which he would give an integral solution to the demands; he invented that an agreement had been reached, unilaterally closed the meeting and brought the journalists into the meeting. The jornaleros rejected that anything was agreed upon in that negotiation.

The official retinue abandoned San Quintín hurriedly. Even the representatives of the Legislative Power, who supposedly attended the session invited by the strikers, acted like employees of the government and shamefully added themselves to the Executive’s entourage.

Assistant Secretary Luis Miranda arrived on May 8 and left the agricultural workers in the lurch. More than 4,000 of them were waiting for him in order to hear his answer to their demands. When Fidel Sánchez Gabriel, the leader of the Alliance for Social Justice, warned him that they would stay in front of the state government offices, the functionary replied: “You don’t know me.” The next day they felt the clubs and rubber bullets of the police.

Despite the nearly two months that have transpired and the repression against them, the movement of the San Quintín day laborers doesn’t show signs of physical or spiritual tiredness. It resists, fed by the conviction that one must put an end to a barbaric model of exploitation and by decades of community struggles. For the time being, it is willing to confront official indolence by organizing the international boycott of the Valley’s vegetable and fruit production Valle.

Notes:

  1. Day laborers
  2. Settlement and community organization

Imperialism ‘Genocides the Poorest of the Poor’

Britain, Libya and the Mediterranean : The Creation of a Humanitarian Emergency

Baltimore Rebellion Prompts Nationwide Protests

Baltimore and the Human Right to Resistance : Rejecting the Framework of the Oppressor

https://i1.wp.com/www.ajamubaraka.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/MX1960_L.jpgBy 

Anti-Black racism, always just beneath the surface of polite racial discourse in the U.S., has exploded in reaction to the resistance of black youth to another brutal murder by the agents of this racist, settler-colonialist state. With the resistance, the focus shifted from the brutal murder of Freddie Gray and the systematic state violence that historically has been deployed to control and contain the black population in the colonized urban zones of North America, to the forms of resistance by African Americans to the trauma of ongoing state violence.

The narrative being advanced by corporate media spokespeople gives the impression that the resistance has no rational basis. The impression being established is that this is just another manifestation of the irrationality of non-European people – in particular, Black people – and how they are prone to violence. This is the classic colonial projection employed by all white supremacist settler states, from the U.S., to South Africa and Israel.

The accompanying narrative is that any kind of resistance that does not fit the narrow definition of “non-violent” resistance is illegitimate violence and, therefore, counter-productive because – “violence doesn’t accomplish anything.” Not only does this position falsely equates resistance to oppression as being morally equivalent to the violence of the oppressor, it also attempts to erase the role of violence as being fundamental to the U.S. colonial project.

The history of colonial conquest saw the U.S. settler state shoot and murdered its’ way across the land mass of the North American in the process of stealing indigenous land to expand the racist White republic from “sea to shining sea.” And the marginalization of the role of violence certainly does not reflect the values of the Obama administration that dutifully implements the bi-partisan dictates of the U.S. strategy of full spectrum dominance that privileges military power and oppressive violence to protect and advance U.S. global supremacy. The destruction of Libya; the reinvasion of Iraq; the civil war in Syria; Obama’s continued war in Afghanistan; the pathological assault by Israel on Palestinians in Gaza and the U.S. supported attack on Yemen by the Saudi dictatorship, are just a few of the horrific consequences of this criminal doctrine.

Race and oppressive violence has always been at the center of the racist colonial project that is the U.S. It is only when the oppressed resist — when we decide, like Malcolm X said, that we must fight for our human rights — that we are counseled to be like Dr. King, including by war mongers like Barack Obama. However, resistance to oppression is a right that the oppressed claim for themselves. It does not matter if it is sanctioned by the oppressor state, because that state has no legitimacy.

No rational person exalts violence and the loss of life. But violence is structured into the everyday institutional practices of all oppressive societies. It is the deliberate de-humanization of the person in order to turn them into a ‘thing’ — a process Dr. King called “thing-afication.” It is a necessary process for the oppressor in order to more effectively control and exploit. Resistance, informed by the conscious understanding of the equal humanity of all people, reverses this process of de-humanization. Struggle and resistance are the highest expressions of the collective demand for people-centered human rights – human rights defined and in the service of the people and not governments and middle-class lawyers.

That resistance may look chaotic at this point – spontaneous resistance almost always looks like that. But since the internal logic of neoliberal capital is incapable of resolving the contradiction that it created, expect more repression and more resistance that will eventually take a higher form of organization and permanence. In the meantime, we are watching to see who aligns with us or the racist state.

The contradictions of the colonial/capitalist system in its current expression of neoliberalism have obstructed the creation of decent, humane societies in which all people are valued and have democratic and human rights. What we are witnessing in the U.S. is a confirmation that neoliberal capitalism has created what Chris Hedges called “sacrificial zones” in which large numbers of black and Latino people have been confined and written off as disposable by the system. It is in those zones that we find the escalation of repressive violence by the militarized police forces. And it is in those zones where the people are deciding to fight back and take control of their communities and lives.

These are defining times for all those who give verbal support to anti-racist struggles and transformative politics. For many of our young white comrades, people of color and even some black ones who were too young to have lived through the last period of intensified struggle in the 1960s and ‘70s and have not understood the centrality of African American resistance to the historical social struggles in the U.S., it may be a little disconcerting to see the emergence of resistance not depend on and validated by white folks or anyone else.

The repression will continue, and so will the resistance. The fact that the resistance emerged in a so-called black city provides some complications, but those are rich and welcoming because they provide an opportunity to highlight one of the defining elements that will serve as a line of demarcation in the African American community – the issue of class. We are going to see a vicious ideological assault by the black middle class, probably led by their champion – Barack Obama – over the next few days. Yet the events over the last year are making it more difficult for these middle-class forces to distort and confuse the issue of their class collaboration with the white supremacist capitalist/colonialist patriarchy. The battle lines are being drawn; the only question that people must ask themselves is which side they’ll be on.



Malcolm X Message to the Grassroots

The Public Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Linn Washington Jr.

In August 1936 nearly 20,000 people filled a vacant lot next to a municipal building in a small Kentucky town to watch the hanging of a man convicted of rape. This hanging, conducted by two executioners retained by that town, would be the last official ‘public execution’ in America.

Although states across this country have banned executions where the public can freely attend, some contend that the American public is again witnessing the spectacle of a public execution – more precisely: the spectacle of a killing occurring in plain sight administered by governmental authorities.

This current spectacle of governmental killing involves a high-profile inmate in Pennsylvania that evidence indicates is quite possibly experiencing a ‘slow execution’ through calculated medical mistreatment.

Author/activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, perhaps the most widely known prison inmate in America, is gravely ill, hardly able to walk or talk because of severe complications related largely to the diabetes which medical personnel inside a Pennsylvania prison failed to diagnose for months. Prison medical personnel either did not detect the diabetes earlier this year while giving Abu-Jamal numerous blood tests that easily identify the elevated blood sugar levels of diabetes or did not inform Abu-Jamal of the blood test results.

That failure to find his raging diabetes led to Abu-Jamal’s emergency hospitalization at the end of March, after he collapsed, unconscious and in sugar shock. When authorities finally transported Abu-Jamal from the SCI Mahanoy prison to the hospital, he was on the verge of a potentially fatal diabetic coma. Weeks before that emergency hospitalization, Abu-Jamal’s blood pressure spiked to a level that required hospitalization that he did not receive, stated persons working with Abu-Jamal.

After four months of substandard or nonexistent treatment for serious diabetes in prison, Mumia Abu-Jamal is at risk of organ fa
After four months of substandard or nonexistent treatment for serious diabetes in prison, Mumia Abu-Jamal is at risk of organ failure — perhaps the goal of prison officials.

Despite Abu-Jamal’s obvious painful and deteriorating medical condition, Pennsylvania prison authorities have barred Abu-Jamal from receiving access to or consultation from medical experts assembled by his supporters.

Those experts could provide the quality of care unavailable at either the demonstrably incompetent infirmary inside SCI Mahanoy or that non-prison hospital authorities utilized. (Abu-Jamal has had adverse reactions to medications he has received from the Mahanoy prison infirmary, his supporters said.)

The refusal of Pennsylvania prison authorities to properly treat Abu-Jamal or permit him access to non-prison medical personnel who could effectively treat his conditions fuel understandable fears among Abu-Jamal’s far-flung supporters that anti-Abu-Jamal forces are trying to effectuate the death sentence that once hung over Abu-Jamal.

The ‘fear’ that foul play could be apart of Abu-Jamal’s poor medical care arises from the fact that police, politicians and others had vigorously campaigned for Abu-Jamal’s execution for 28-years. Abu-Jamal received a death sentence following his controversial 1982 conviction for killing a Philadelphia policeman. That campaign for execution included many forms of harassment. The extraordinary punishments from that campaign provide proof for many that Abu-Jamal is a political prisoner.

“They are outright killing him in front of us,” Pam Africa said. Africa, a close associate of Abu-Jamal and head of International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal, visits him regularly.
(Abu-Jamal’s death sentence was converted to life in prison after federal courts repeatedly upheld the dismissal of the death sentence citing constitutional violations.)

“He is in pain. His skin is so bad from that rash that he looks like a burn victim,” Africa said. “The is F*%king horrible …”

When prison authorities returned Abu-Jamal to SCI Mahanoy from that hospital, following a few days care in the ICU, he was still seriously ill.

Yet, prison authorities ordered him returned to his prison cell after a brief stay in the Mahanoy infirmary following his return from the ICU. Authorities returned him to his cell despite his visibly weakened condition, dramatic 70-lb.weight loss, labored breathing, swelling of his body parts and open sores on his skin from a festering rash.

Prison authorities certainly knew that Abu-Jamal’s weakened condition would make it difficult for him to walk back to the infirmary for help since the distance from his cell to the infirmary is the distance of about three-city-blocks. Certainly authorities knew the difficulties facing Abu-Jamal even in obtaining meals from the dining hall, a nearly two-block distance from his cell.

Prison Radio, the San Francisco-based media entity that has broadcast Abu-Jamal’s prison commentaries for decades, recently issued an update on his medical condition utilizing information provided by Abu-Jamal’s wife, Wadiya following her latest visit.

According to that report Abu-Jamal “is extremely swollen in his neck, chest, legs and his skin is worse than ever, with open sores. He was not in a wheelchair, but can only take baby steps. He is very weak. He was nodding off during the visit. He was not able to eat – he was fed with a spoon. These are symptoms that could be associated with hyper glucose levels, diabetic shock, diabetic coma, and with kidney stress and failure.”

Prison Radio, a few days before that updated report on Abu-Jamal’s condition, had released information that Pennsylvania prison authorities were refusing proposals to address Abu-Jamal’s worsening medical condition.

Prison Radio revealed that prison authorities had notified Bret Grote, a lawyer for Abu-Jamal, that they would not allow Abu-Jamal to be examined by his own doctor, and would not allow his doctor to speak with prison medical staff to assist or direct Abu-Jamal’s care. Prison officials are also refusing to allow regular phone calls between Abu-Jamal and his doctor and they said they would not allow Abu-Jamal to be examined by an endocrinologist (a diabetes specialist).

Proposals for Abu-Jamal receiving medical care from personnel outside the prison system are not out of line. Authorities allowed millionaire John DuPont to have his medical issues treated by his own private physician at his expense while he served a life sentence for murder before dying in a Pennsylvania prison. Authorities denying Abu-Jamal allowances that authorities have extended to other inmates is a part of the pattern of punishments that target Abu-Jamal.

Charges that prison authorities are deliberating mistreating Abu-Jamal are routinely dismissed as hyperbole by authorities despite abundant examples of mistreatment directed at Abu-Jamal and other inmates.

For example, in 2010 an inmate serving a life sentence like Abu-Jamal filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania prison authorities challenging their refusal to provide him with medical treatment for acute kidney stones despite a previous court settlement where authorities had agreed to provide that inmate with his needed treatment.

That inmate, Walter Chruby, secured an injunction from a trial court judge ordering immediate treatment. Chruby’s lawsuit, according to a court ruling on that injunction, stated that immediately after Chruby won that first court order for treatment, prison authorities “began withholding or intentionally delaying adequate medical care…”

The medical mistreatment of Mumia Abu-Jamal comes at a time when callous law enforcement, particularly brutality and fatal shootings by police, is in the national spotlight. Abu-Jamal, in his books and commentaries produced in prison, has been a strident critic of inequities in the criminal justice system. The medical mistreatment of Abu-Jamal is rife with callousness and inhumanity.

Call and write these people and demand that Abu-Jamal be provided with appropriate medical care for thie eminently treatable disease!:

Strong>Gov. Tom Wolf, PA Governor: 717-787-2500 • governor@PA.gov 508 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg PA 17120

John Wetzel Secretary of the Deparment of Corrections ra-crpadocsecretary@pa.gov 717-728-4109 • 717-728-4178 Fax 1920 Technology Pkwy, Mechanicsburg PA 17050

John Kerestes, Superintendent SCI Mahanoy: 570-773-2158 x8102 570-783-2008 Fax 301 Morea Road, Frackville PA 17932

Susan McNaughton, Public Information Office PA DOC DOC Press secretary: 717-728-4025 PA DOC smcnaughton@pa.gov
Public Information Officer, SCI Mahanoy

Jane Hinman 570-773-2158; then dial zero SCI Mahanoy: 570-773-2158 x8102 • 570-783-2008 Fax 301 Morea Road, Frackville PA 17932





Related:
Mumia’s Message to the Movement

Why Mumia Must Live, and US imperialism Must Die : The Link Between Political Prisoners and the War on Terror


Important Mumia Update

Mumia Abu-Jamal: International pressure blocks ‘execution by neglect’
Petition: No To Slow Death Row
Open letter to Pennsylvania governor and corrections head urges independent medical care for Mumia Abu-Jamal – seeks more signers
Wadiya Jamal: Help my husband get free! Mumia is dying in there!

Why Mumia Must Live, and US imperialism Must Die : The Link Between Political Prisoners and the War on Terror

By Danny Haiphong

“The FBI’s counter insurgency war on the Black Panther Party chapters and leaders like Mumia established for local police departments a direct link to Washington’s war and surveillance arsenal.”

The so-called War on Terror and the national security state did not emerge full-blown from the rubble of 9/11.
Both are products of previous waves of police repression, mainly targeting Black radicals.

The fear of the Muslim/Arab terrorist rekindles the same fear in white America that the Black liberation movement ignited over four decades ago.”

Political Prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal has been subjected to over three decades of torture from the US prison gulag. His political imprisonment has placed his life in serious danger, this time not from state execution but instead from extra-legal medical neglect. The prison state has continuously failed in its efforts to murder Mumia through official means and has thus decided to refuse the former Black Panther adequate medical treatment for diabetes. Meanwhile, Boston residents of all classes await the verdict of whether the alleged “Boston bomber” Dzokhar Tsarnaev will receive the death penalty or life in prison. The event that faithful day remains shrouded in questions , but most of the city has accepted the dominant narrative put forth by the FBI and Boston Police Department. The War on Terror that produced the “Boston Bombing” and Mumia’s struggle against the prison state are intimately connected. For Mumia to live with freedom and dignity, the US imperial order behind the War on Terror must die.

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s existence as a political prisoner has been repressed by the establishment, while the War on Terror is a household name in the US. This is because the War on Terror serves the objectives of imperialism and Mumia does not. Mumia joined the Black Panther Party at fifteen and served as the Philadelphia Chapter’s Ministry of Information. He used his talents in journalism in service of Black people both in the BPP and after. This landed him on J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTEPRO list of Black liberation fighters to watch and suppress. In 1978, Mumia covered the Philadelphia police department’s siege on the MOVE Organization. His critical investigation of the Philly PD’s role in repressing MOVE led to his ouster from the journalism industry. In 1982, Mumia was framed for the murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death.

He used his talents in journalism in service of Black people both in the BPP and after.”

The context of Mumia’s imprisonment is at the essence of US imperialism’s War on Terror, which could be better named its war of terror. In the film Manufacturing Guilt​ , Mumia’s frame-up is blatantly exposed through court documents and investigations. Yet, Mumia has lived much of his life in prison, mostly in solitary confinement. What explains this injustice and how does it relate to the current War on Terror? In Still Black, Still Strong, Dhoruba Bin-Wahad explains how the FBI’s counter insurgency war on the Black Panther Party chapters and leaders like Mumia established for local police departments a direct link to Washington’s war and surveillance arsenal. Washington’s war on Black liberation fighters precipitated the first SWAT team operation in 1969 and the FBI’s declaration that the Black Panther Party was the “greatest threat to the internal security” of the US. The war on Black freedom that jailed Mumia created the technical capacity for the War on Terror.

The recent bombing of the 2013 marathon, and 9/11 before that, created the conditions for a massive expansion of the surveillance state and police state throughout the US mainland. The hundreds of illegally detained prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the increased surveillance of Muslims and Black people in the US, and the massive spy program instituted by the Patriot Act and similar legislation are daily reminders of US imperialism’s ever expanding repressive apparatus. Internationally, the US led War on Terror interventions have caused the loss of life of millions of people in the Middle East and Africa alongside the thousands more from US aerial drone strikes and proxy war. All of this has been justified as necessary to “counter” the so-called threat of “terrorism.”

The war on Black freedom that jailed Mumia created the technical capacity for the War on Terror.”

Mumia’s story, one shared by numerous US political prisoners sentenced to die in the cages of the prison state, contains in it the seeds that sprouted the rise of the massive War on Terror. Russell Maroon Shoatz, Oscar Lopez Rivera, Leonard Peltier and scores more faced trumped up charges from the state as part of US imperialism’s counter insurgency war on dissent generally and the Black liberation movement in particular. This war has been expanded to meet the needs of US imperialism, which in its current form has produced a potentially explosive situation domestically and globally. The sharpening contradictions of never-ending war and increasing poverty and privatization wouldn’t last long if the counter insurgency war on Mumia and the Panthers hadn’t provided the blueprints and technical support for the mass expansion of the War on Terror’s primary tools: war and surveillance state.

Mumia Abu-Jamal and the rest of the Empire’s political prisoners are caught in the cross hairs of US imperialism’s war of survival. Not only has the material basis of the counter insurgency war that murdered and imprisoned the Black liberation movement grown, but so too has the racist logic behind the repression. The War on Terror’s racist logic has permeated so deeply into the minds of the US public that the mere questioning of the agenda’s blatant deceit is subject to dismissal or defense by most people living in the US mainland. These conditions have left political prisoners with few fighters on the outside pressuring their release. The War on Terror has attempted to erase the memory of political prisoners by reframing the racist justifications for political imprisonment as common sense in what George Jackson called the “Amerikan mind.”

The War on Terror’s racist logic has permeated so deeply into the minds of the US public that the mere questioning of the agenda’s blatant deceit is subject to dismissal.”

So, even though the justification for each and every War on Terror intervention or policy since 2001 are dubious at best, the fear of the Muslim/Arab terrorist rekindles the same fear in white America that the Black liberation movement ignited over four decades ago. The Black Panther Party and their partners in struggle were deemed criminal in every way and many were falsely charged with the murder of police officers, the highest form of offense in the eyes of white America. The War on Terror built off this strategy by throwing the Muslim community into the racist war on the oppressed as a means to control the dissent of the entire population. That the US imperial machinery is complicit in, and a sponsor of, jihadist terror and proxy war matters as little as the innocence of political prisoners when it comes to preserving the Empire and criminalizing all resistance to its rule.

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s life needs to be saved by any means necessary, but fighting to free him based on his criminal case alone won’t develop the movement we need. One of the primary obstacles to building a concrete movement for the freedom of political prisoners is the privileging of innocence over a movement that links political prisoners to the repression of the imperial state. But Mumia’s innocence teaches us the real purpose of political imprisonment. The War on Terror is a consolidation of the forces that were built by imperialism to suppress the revolutionary ideas of Mumia Abu-Jamal. What we need is a reexamination of those ideas in the service of the freedom of all political prisoners. By studying the War on Terror and the repression of the Black Liberation movement from which it grew, it becomes increasingly clear that imperialism must die for Mumia to truly live.

Danny Haiphong is an organizer for Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST) in Boston. He is also a regular contributor to Black Agenda Report. Danny can be reached at wakeupriseup1990@gmail.com and FIST can be reached at bostonfist@gmail.com.

Berrien County Court Continues Racist Campaign Against Rev. Edward Pinkney

Civil Rights leader unable to gain justice in southwest Michigan

Berrien County Demonstration on April 14, 2015
Berrien County Demonstration on April 14, 2015

By Abayomi Azikiwe
St. Joseph, Michigan
Libya 360°

Another post-conviction motions hearing took place on April 14 in St. Joseph, Michigan involving the conviction by an all-white jury late last year of a leading Civil Rights activist, Rev. Edward Pinkney. People traveled from throughout the state of Michigan and across the United States to support the Berrien County leader who many feel has been denied justice by a corporate-controlled racist system in the southwest region of the state.

Rev. Pinkney, the leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), was present in the courtroom in St. Joseph, Michigan, the seat of Berrien County. Defense Attorney Tat Parish requested that the handcuffs be taken off of Pinkney, but to no avail.

Judge Sterling Schrock, who continues to preside over the case where the BANCO leader was convicted on five felony counts for forgery involving the purported changing of dates on recall petitions designed to remove Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower, denied the request saying it was up to the discretion of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). No MDOC officials appeared to have been in the courtroom since Pinkney was transported to the Berrien County jail the night before from Coldwater where he is being held on a sentence of 30-120 months.

There were two motions heard before Judge Schrock resulting in decisions that clearly violate the civil rights of Pinkney, a long-time organizer in the county. The first of the egregious decisions stemmed from a prosecution motion requesting restitution to Mayor Hightower due to purported harm done to him by Pinkney during the recall campaign of 2014.

The judge ordered that Pinkney pay restitution to Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower, who is up for re-election this year, in the amount of $1,736.17, saying the politician suffered economic and psychological damage due to the recall campaign aimed at removing him from office in 2014. Hightower did not even bother to appear in court and the prosecutor Michael Sepic, who submitted the motion, argued on his behalf.

Human resources director Susan Leach of Lakeland Hospital where Hightower is employed in addition to his mayoral post, was subpoenaed to testify by the defense. She reported that Hightower is a salaried employee and did not lose any pay during the course of the recall campaign and the trial of Pinkney, where he testified. Nonetheless, the court ruled against Pinkney.

Motion for a New Trial Denied

The other motion presented by the defense requested a new trial based on the connections which existed between juror Gail Freehland of neighboring Three Oaks and the family of Sharon Tyler, the Berrien County Clerk, who was a key witness in the prosecution of Pinkney.

Relationships were clearly established through a series of witnesses called by the defense.

The former juror Ms. Freehland was called to testify saying she did not have any social relationships with the Berrien County officials in question. Other witnesses called by the defense not only substantiated a connection but longtime friendships between these elements in the county.

Tyler’s partner, Danny Gross, the former president of Three Oaks village, was also subpoenaed to testify by the defense. He did admit that he had known Freehland “all her life” but said he was not aware if the former juror was acquainted with his partner, Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler.

Gross owns a restaurant in the county and stated that Freehland had been in his business. The former Three Oaks leader acknowledged that his daughters were around the same age as Freehland and that they knew each other.

Later Gross’ daughter Jody was called to testify and stated that she has “known Freehland for thirty years.” She mentioned during her testimony that she sees Freehland at least once or twice a year and that they were friends of Facebook.

Later Gail Gross, another daughter of Danny, testified that she and Freehland “attended the same school system” although Freehland is younger. When asked by defense lawyer Parish if the two were friends, Grosse said “she considered her a friend.”

Prosecutor Sepic said the defense arguments seeking to draw connections and social relationships between these personalities involved in the trial of Pinkney were “preposterous.” Later saying that there was no connections established.

Parish said for the defense that “there is every reason to suggest connections” and this was not disclosed during the jury screening process known voir dire.

Consequently, Judge Schrock agreed with Sepic. He denied the motion for a new trial and re-emphasized that Pinkney did not qualify for bond pending the outcome of his appeal which is being filed in an attempt to overturn his convictions on the felony charges.

During the course of the trial in 2014, no witnesses were brought forward by the prosecution who testified that they saw or believed that Pinkney changed the dates on five signatures on the recall petitions. Both the prosecution and the judge repeatedly stated that the evidence against Pinkney was “circumstantial”, yet no circumstantial evidence was ever presented.

Pinkney was then ushered out of the courtroom and transported bac to state prison in Coldwater. His next step will be to bring the case before the appeals court where many believe he has a good chance of prevailing.

Demonstration Held Outside Court House

Dorothy Pinkney speaks out against persecution of her husband
Dorothy Pinkney speaks out against persecution of her husband

 

After the hearing ended, dozens of people remained behind to carry out a demonstration outside the Berrien County Court. Activists from Chicago, Flint, Detroit, Oak Park and other areas spoke out against what they saw as a travesty of justice.

Berrien County is dominated by the Whirpool Corporation, a multi-billion dollar firm. Pinkney and BANCO are staunch critics of the company saying that it is behind the prosecution and imprisonment.

A demonstration against Whirpool products sold at Lowe’s Department in Southfield, Michigan, suburb of Detroit, is scheduled to be held on Friday April 24. Activists are attempting to expose the role of corporations in the politics of Berrien County and southwest Michigan.

Abayomi Azikiwe with Rev. Edward Pinkney


Abayomi Azikiwe has written extensively on African affairs with specific reference to historical studies and political economy. He has done research on the origins and political ideology of the African National Congress, its leaders as well as other national liberation movements and regional organizations  in Southern Africa.

Related:
Civil Rights Activist, Rev. Pinkney, Denied Appeal Bond
National Defense Campaign Building for Civil Rights Leader, Rev. Edward Pinkney
Civil Rights Leader, Rev. Edward Pinkney’s Sentence Unjust, Politically and Racially Motivated
Civil Rights Activist Rev. Edward Pinkney Convicted of Five Counts of Felony Forgery by Berrien County Jury
Rev. Edward Pinkney Speaks to the People of Detroit
Rev. Edward Pinkney Remains Under House Arrest in Benton Harbor
Rev. Pinkney Released From House Arrest (Update)
Rev. Edward Pinkney Remains Under House Arrest in Benton Harbor

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