LIBYA 360°



Mass Migration Deaths Caused by Imperialist Foreign Policy

Ten Years After Katrina : Natural Disaster or Forced Removals?

Systemic Racism : Failing New Orleans

Ferguson : State of Emergency

Torture and Show Trials in Neo-Colonial Libya

Protests in Libya & International Condemnation of Al Qaeda Sentencing of Jamahiriya Officials

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

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

Imperialism and the Making of the Migration Crisis

Zero Tolerance for Racism

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.

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

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

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

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.

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 Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)

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


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.


  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 

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 • 508 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg PA 17120

John Wetzel Secretary of the Deparment of Corrections 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
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

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 and FIST can be reached at

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.

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

Criminalization of Michael Brown and Ferguson Rebellion Continues

Corporate media seeks to dampen anti-racist movement through distortion and slander

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

During the course of one week the Washington Post published at least three articles suggesting that the white former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in self-defense. This same line of argument stems from the questionable findings of both the St. Louis County grand jury and Department of Justice reports designed to provide a rationale for not pursuing criminal charges against Wilson.

In an article entitled “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot Was Based on a Lie”, Jonathan Capehart said that Brown was an “inappropriate symbol” for police violence against African Americans. The Washington Post writer asserted that the actual facts revealed in the DOJ report indicated that Brown did not have his hands up when he was shot to death by Wilson. (March 16)

The DOJ report which was cited in the article attempted to justify the killing of Brown by saying that he had committed a robbery and when stopped reached into the police vehicle punching Wilson, attempting to grab his gun. The grand jury testimony presented by Dorian Johnson, who was with Brown when he was killed by Wilson, was attacked as being inaccurate.

Interestingly enough, this is not the first time that an attempt has been made to criminalize Brown, Johnson and the entire movement that ignited in Ferguson and spread around the country. Since the beginning of the demonstrations and rebellions on Aug. 9, the police, prosecutors and the city administration have maintained that Wilson did nothing wrong by shooting to death an unarmed African American youth.

The Washington Post in these articles attacking the Black Lives Matter movement kept emphasizing that they checked the facts and they were at variance with the actual developments as conveyed by eyewitnesses. That the people who were on the scene when Brown was killed and left to lie in his blood for four hours, were not to be believed but the cops and those who were not there, including the DOJ investigators, were the only ones to be taken seriously.

Corporate Media Attacks Seek to Dampen Outrage at Police Actions

Corporate media pundits across the country picked up on the Washington Post articles also claiming that Brown was aggressively pursuing Wilson and that the slogan: “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” should never have been used. This represents a renewed attempt to not only convict Brown in his death but to slander the anti-racist movement that has grown up in the aftermath of the killing on Aug. 9 and subsequently deaths of African American youths at the hands of the police.

On March 17, Alyssa Rosenberg, writing for the Washington Post, even included other movements for social justice as being based on false premises. She says that “The problem is social movements do this all the time. Both the civil rights movement and the fight for gay equality have been supported by stories that were edited, challenged later or outright fabricated.”

This same article goes on to say “while these stories risk being exposed as less than entirely true, they pose another challenge for movements for equality. When we rely on stories about spontaneous, apolitical activists or saintly victims, we buy into larger and deeply conservative arguments about which lives have value and what kind of people deserve the protection of the law.”

In other words African Americans such as Michael Brown, Errol Garner, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Stanley Jones, etc. and their families do not deserve the support of the people. Such reasoning represents the degree to which the ruling class in the United States, imbued with racism and class bias, despises the masses of the people.

This is why the DOJ reports by presenting the contradictory narrative that both the Ferguson and St. Louis County police, courts and municipal administrations engage in systematic campaigns to profile, penalize, criminalize and cover up injustices committed against African Americans but at the same time this racist regime and its agents should not be held accountable for its actions, serves to fortify the status-quo. Since there are no criminal charges warranted for oppressing African Americans through unjustified citations, jail and prison sentencings, beating and even death, then the system will continue unimpeded by the judicial arm of the state.

The only real counterweight to the institutional racism practiced not only in Ferguson but across the U.S. is the popular movements organized and led by the people. What distinguished the police killing of Michael Brown and Errol Garner was the groundswell of opposition that grew up spontaneously in cities and towns nationwide. African Americans and Latinos are killed routinely by police and vigilantes with very little political response.

Consequently, the anti-racist movement can only view these latest attempts to slander the struggle as a continuation of a pattern extending back a century-and-a-half since the end of the civil war, legalized slavery and the beginning of Reconstruction. To even suggest that the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” slogans are based on falsehood, is tantamount to saying that “Freedom Now”, “By Any Means Necessary,” “Black Power”, “Right On”, “All Power to the People” and other slogans that grew out of the African American liberation movement of the 1960s, were advanced from untruths.

Following such logic, the African American people and other oppressed nations in the U.S., have no real reasons to make demands on the state and the ruling class to end racist violence by police, armed white individuals and organizations. Such claims deny the humanity of the oppressed and their striving towards freedom and social transformation.

Racist Violence Considered Legal

The fact is that it has never been illegal in the U.S. for cops or others to kill African Americans.

Many of the lynchings carried out from the 1880s through the Great Depression, nearly 5,000 documented and many more unrecorded, enjoyed the participation of the police and the courts. Photographs and eyewitness accounts of these atrocities were exploited through postcards and public festivals.

Despite the widespread public awareness, press accounts and protests against this form of egregious mob violence, the U.S. federal government never passed one anti-lynching bill over the period of decades. Almost all of the urban rebellions that have occurred since the 1960s have been sparked by police misconduct and brutality stemming from a racist and exploitative political and economic system.

Jeffrey Williams Says He Was Forced to Confess in Police Shooting

As further illustration of law-enforcement abuses, the person being charged with the shooting of two Ferguson cops, Jeffrey Williams, is now saying that he was forced to confess after suffering injuries from the police. Williams suffered injuries that were documented by his attorney.

“He told me that he never fired a weapon,” said Jerryl T. Christmas, who is the attorney for Jeffrey Williams, the 20-year-old accused in the shooting of two Ferguson police officers. (Press TV, March 18)

Christmas said his client was in a “tremendous amount of pain” resulting from being pistol-whipped while in police custody. “I think under those circumstances he would have said anything,” William’s lawyer said.

“Anytime someone is questioned without counsel and then I see that kind of bruising, then I’m suspicious about any statements that he may have voluntarily given.”

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.

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Justice Department Issues Scathing Report on Ferguson Police and Courts
Abayomi Azikiwe : Ferguson and the Black Liberation Struggle
Ferguson, Racism and Poverty in America
The Darren Wilson Non-indictment: Resistance to Oppression is a Human Right!
Ferguson: It is Right to Resist, By Any and All Means Necessary
The Day After the Grand Jury Decision
PFLP Denounces Racist Injustice in Ferguson and the United States, Supports Resistance Against Oppression
Ferguson: When Protests Are Not Enough
How the No Fly Zone in Ferguson Became the No Justice Zone
There Will be a Reckoning, From Ferguson to Gaza
Race and Militarism from Ferguson to Syria: A Letter to African Americans
Ferguson Demands Justice
Ferguson and the Islamic State: Two Sides of Malcolm’s American Nightmare
Ferguson Aftermath Exposes US Police Brutality, Racism Worldwide
Why Ferguson is the Congo
What Happens in Ferguson Does Not Stay in Ferguson
Ferguson Unmasks the War on Black America
Mass Unrest in Ferguson Continues Despite Attempts to Criminalize African Americans
Militarization of Ferguson Portends Much for the Political Status of African Americans
Ferguson Rebellion Reflects Deepening Anger Against Racist Violence in the United States
Racial Terror and the Need for a 21rst Century Anti-Lynching Movement
On Racism, Resistance and State Violence: A Discussion on the Politics of Greed and Hate
“Justifiable” White Violence and the History of the Criminalization of Blackness
The Danger of America’s Police is the Mindset, Not Military Weapons
“Shock and Awe” Comes to America

Selma, Obama and the Colonization of Black Resistance

Mumia Abu-Jamal on Obama, Ferguson, and How African-Americans ‘Live in Hell’

Mumia Abu-Jamal in prison in 1998

“Oppression abroad gives rise to oppressions at home,” Abu-Jamal tells Sputnik in his first exclusive interview following a stint in solitary confinement. America’s most famous “political prisoner” argues that the plight of African-Americans has only gotten worse under President Obama.

Activist and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death in a trial that many believe was a political prosecution. Supporters of Abu-Jamal point to a racist judge, conflicting testimony about his alleged confession, charges of manufacturing evidence against Philadelphia police officers involved, the concealment of witnesses, and the confession of another suspect.

Before his conviction, Abu-Jamal had been a Black Panther and later an activist with MOVE and a radio journalist. He had been under FBI COINTELPRO and police surveillance which his supporters believe shows he was already a target when he was arrested for the murder.

Sputnik asked Abu-Jamal through written correspondence for his thoughts on the state of race relations in post-Ferguson America, and what impact the the first black president has had on progress and equality.

He took a dim view, saying African-Americans are “living in Hell.”

Mumia Abu-Jamal in prison circa 1998
Mumia Abu-Jamal in prison circa 1998

The American Caste System

“We don’t have ‘equal rights,’” he said. “We have the rhetoric of equal rights used by the elites and the state to camouflage the real situation of Black Americans — one of dire, unremitting hell. Equal rights would not produce the glaringly unequal outcomes that lead to mass incarceration, poverty and death.”

None of this should “surprise” anyone who looks at history, he noted.

“After the Civil War, when the ‘black Republicans’ amended the Constitution to protect Black rights of citizenship (i.e., voting, etc.), the National literally ignored the Constitution’s ‘guarantees’ for a century — until Black southern resistance made it impossible to do (but they continued to do by other means!).”

Referring to legal scholar Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow,” Abu-Jamal argued that the United States has a caste system when it comes to “average, everyday working-class and poor Blacks.”

“They are locked out of anything meaningful in life (jobs, education and good housing, etc.),” he said. One culprit:  the “bogus war on drugs,” when he argues effectively “criminalized Black life.”

Ferguson, an Icon of Black Life in America

Recent revelations out of Ferguson — ground zero for the recent Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality after police shot and killed unarmed Mike Brown last year — show a judicial system stacked against lower-income, usually black, citizens. A Department of Justice investigation and various news reports revealed that African-Americans were disproportionately stopped for minor violations, given hefty traffic and court fines, and were then sent to jail when they couldn’t pay them.

The DOJ also said that police in Ferguson operated through a prism of racial bias.

“Our findings indicated that the overwhelming majority of force – almost 90 percent – is directed against African Americans,” Attorney General Eric Holder announced after the report was released earlier this month.

However, Abu-Jamal sees what happened in the Missouri town as merely one example of a systemic problem.

“Ferguson tells us everything:  that for the Black poor, their lives are a living hell, for the state exploits the poor for their pennies — and still utilizes debtors prisons! — to squeeze money out of the poor,” he said. “Mike Brown showed us, they utilize terror, at the blink of an eye —- to keep the natives in line. Things are hellish today; despite the fable of ‘civil rights’ and its victories.”

Obama’s Election as ‘Political Brilliance’

Things have gotten worse for “Black lives” under Obama, Abu-Jamal argued. He noted that the recession of 2007 and 2008 disproportionately decimated impacted ethnic minorities and the situation has yet to reverse, according to economists.

“Did you know that in the last eight years or so, Black Americans (and Latinos) lost more personal wealth than at any point in Black American history — mostly through mortgage losses?” Abu Jamal asked rhetorically.

Owner-occupied houses make up a disproportionate share of the wealth of black and Hispanic families — at least those who have wealth —  while white citizens tend to have a more diversified portfolio consisting of stocks and bonds, the markets for which have largely rebounded. However, the housing market took another turn and rampant foreclosures and underwater mortgages (those in which the amount owed is greater than the value of the home) have forced many lower-income homeowners to lose their homes and, therefore, the vast majority of their accrued wealth.

“Blacks are at the bottom of every social indicia in the nation,” Abu-Jamal said.

Having the first black president, he added, might have only exacerbated the problem.

“His election elicited a blowback response among whites that has grown into a challenge to everything he tries to do,” Abu-Jamal explained. “He has been bleeding political power since his election and in two cycles lost his majorities in both houses of Congress. The Republicans — the white nationalist party — is making his days harder and harder.”

That couldn’t have been planned better for those who want to keep a certain order in the country.

“Obama’s election (and re-election!) has been political brilliance,” he said. “But it has no coattails because Black faces in high places are not sufficient to hold, project and utilize power.”

“[Obama's] election elicited a blowback response among whites that has grown into a challenge to everything he tries to do,” Abu-Jamal explained. “He has been bleeding political power since his election and in two cycles lost his majorities in both houses of Congress. The Republicans — the white nationalist party — is making his days harder and harder.”
“[Obama’s] election elicited a blowback response among whites that has grown into a challenge to everything he tries to do,” Abu-Jamal explained. “He has been bleeding political power since his election and in two cycles lost his majorities in both houses of Congress. The Republicans — the white nationalist party — is making his days harder and harder.”

‘False Solutions’

To Abu-Jamal, “equal rights,” the Obama presidency, affirmative action and integration are “chimerae; false pseudo-solutions to the problems of fundamental levels of oppression against Black Americans.”

“None of these ideas address real self-determination or even autonomy for Black people. We are still haggling about crumbs,” he said. “Affirmative action was initially a Republican (ala Nixon) plan to placate the freedom movement with promises of good jobs. Because our economic life has been kept in retrograde our communities are places largely divorced from normal economic ebb and flow — we live in the caste zones (bantustans) where exploitation (as admitted in Ferguson earlier today) is all that matters.”

“When we seriously examine affirmative action, it was a plan designed to construct diverse elites — doctors, lawyers, political leaders. For the ghetto poor, it is largely irrelevant as it’s untouchable. As law professor [Michelle] Alexander makes clear, the average Black American was jettisoned — so that Black elites could have access to affirmative action — and the neo-liberals applauded such a deal.”

“There are cities in America today where 50 percent — 50 percent! — of kids drop out and don’t graduate. There are cities with higher percentages. This is a failed system.”

Oppression Abroad = Oppressions at Home

After a Missouri grand jury decision absolved Darren Wilson — the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown — of any prosecution, the United Nations offered a review of life in the United States for people of color, calling it a human rights issue.

“I am deeply concerned at the disproportionate number of young African Americans who die in encounters with police officers, as well as the disproportionate number of African Americans in US prisons and the disproportionate number of African Americans on Death Row,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said at the time.

Sputnik asked Abu-Jamal what he thought about the fact that the US was being called out for its treatment of African-Americans.

“Malcolm [X] would agree with that basic sentiment, but he’d add that because the US is an empire, it neither cares nor has to care what others think of it,” he explained. “It matters only that others obey. Bow. Scrape. Praise America. If Guantanamo closes (a big “if”), there are still ‘black sites’ all around the world where torture is accepted, practiced and coupled with worse. US citizens may be droned at the executive’s whim; and the entire nation is under surveillance by various alphabet soup agencies. Every phone call, every keystroke, every cellphone conversation.”

The way the US acts in its foreign policy, Abu-Jamal said, is part-and-parcel to how it responds to domestic opposition.

“Malcolm would say that oppression abroad gives rise to oppressions at home, that capitalism running amok outside the country will soon turn its famished eye on opportunities within the ‘nation.’ Because, as Malcolm said, ‘Capitalism’ is a blood sucker.’”

The Legacy of Malcolm X

Sputnik originally planned to publish this interview with Abu-Jamal on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Malcolm X. However, despite the request being sent more than a month before the anniversary, Abu-Jamal did not receive it in time because he was serving a term in solitary confinement for “not following instructions.”

(Editor’s note: Long-term use of solitary confinement as well as its use as a punishment is considered a breach of international humanitarian law.)

Abu-Jamal did respond to questions about Malcolm X’s legacy and his impact.

“I think, today, honestly, generations grow up into adulthood with no real sense of Malcolm X — except as something he would have hated to have been described as: ‘a civil rights leader.’ His name may be known, but his ideas, his story, largely isn’t, in my view — especially among the broad masses of Black youth.”

Abu-Jamal lamented that Malcolm X has become “a poster, a US postage stamp, because there is no real organization out there to push and project Malcolm’s meaning to Black America. The corporate media cannot — and will not — tell that story. Instead they have Martinized Malcolm, by distorting his history, civilizing him — making him ‘safe’.”

“When he was alive, he was a potent force, as speaker, orator, but also organizational leader, who, as a revolutionary, radiated the seriousness of our struggle, and his commitment to the Freedom of Black people the world over.”

Asked to compare the legacies of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr, Abu-Jamal suggested they were divided, above all, by diverging senses of allegiance to their country of birth.

“Oddly enough, both men were nationalists to a certain extent,” he said. “Martin was an American nationalist who wanted the US to live up to its stated creed; Malcolm was a Black nationalist who wanted Black America to be free to follow its interests — America be damned.”

Abu-Jamal concluded that, despite both men’s efforts, little has changed and little could have been expected to.

“To be black in America today is not a picnic,” he said. “It is, in the words of rapper Young Jeezy, ‘livin’ in hell.”

Reviving the Fight Against Environmental Racism

UN Special Rapporteur Condemns US Sentencing of Children to Life in Prison Without Parole

By Natasja Sheriff


The United States was singled out Monday by a United Nations expert on torture for being the only country in the world that continues to sentence children to life in prison without parole.

“The vast majority of states have taken note of the international human rights requirements regarding life imprisonment of children without the possibility of release,” Juan Méndez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, said in his report, before noting that the United States is the only country to continue the practice.

A sentence of life without parole means life and death in prison — a practice considered cruel and inhumane punishment for juveniles under both international and U.S. law.

“Life sentences or sentences of an extreme length have a disproportionate impact on children and cause physical and psychological harm that amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment,” the report reads.

Dr. Louis Kraus, the chairman of the juvenile justice reform committee at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, called the practice “a devastating process to even conceptualize.”

“These kids have not developed. These are eighth-graders and, in some states, younger than that,” he said.

Issuing life sentences for children is banned under numerous international laws, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child — which the U.S. and South Sudan are the only two states to have signed but not ratified. Also, a U.N. oversight body has found that the sentence violates the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, since youths of color are more likely to receive the sentence than white offenders.

The U.S. Mission to the U.N. did not return a request for comment by time of publication.

“The toughest part is that the crimes children might have committed, as devastating as they may have been, are really in unformed brains,” said Kraus. “These teenagers are not the same as their adult counterparts will be. Many of them are not going to be that same person. They’re going to show greater insight, better empathy, less impulsivity, better reasoning ability in terms of understanding the short- and long-term ramifications of their behavior.”

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Miller v. Alabama in 2012, outlawed mandatory sentencing of life without parole for children under 18, arguing that the sentence violated the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

Delivering the opinion of the court, Justice Elena Kagan wrote, “Mandatory life without parole for a juvenile precludes consideration of his chronological age and its hallmark features — among them, immaturity, impetuosity and failure to appreciate risks and consequences. It prevents taking into account the family and home environment that surrounds him — and from which he cannot usually extricate himself — no matter how brutal or dysfunctional.”

Still, while the Supreme Court has ruled that sentences of mandatory life without parole are unconstitutional, judges at the state level can make sentencing decisions based on the circumstances in which the crime was committed. About 2,500 people in the United States are currently serving life sentences without the possibility of release for crimes they committed as children.

“The big issue is whether that decision from the Supreme Court [on mandatory sentencing] has a retroactive effect so that persons who are serving life in prison without parole can benefit from that,” said Steven Watts, the senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union human rights program.

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have banned life sentences without parole for juveniles; Hawaii and West Virginia joined the roster in 2014. Earlier this month, the American Bar Association called for a complete end to life without parole for children.

“In the 1990s, [courts] increased the numbers of offenses for which children could be sentenced as if they were adults. They were charged, prosecuted — as young as 14 — charged, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced as if they were adults,” said Watts, “That comes from a debunked theory from back in the 1990s that there are these superpredators, incorrigible children, that it was built into their DNA that they would do the wrong things.”

“We’re still living with those laws, enacted at that time, and it happens to a degree in the U.S. that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world,” he said.

Amnesty International USA has for years championed the case of Jacqueline Montanez, jailed for life in 1992 at the age of 15, without the possibility of release. She was convicted in adult criminal court for the death of two members of a rival gang and given a mandatory life sentence without parole. She pleaded not guilty at the time but says she has since accepted full responsibility for her involvement in the murders.

“When children come into conflict with criminal law, our primary objective as a society should be maximizing their potential for successful reintegration into society,” Steven Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said in a January 2015 letter to then-Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois, asking for clemency for Montanez. “To deny the possibility of release is to deny the human capacity to change and is utterly incompatible with the basic principles of juvenile justice.”

Montanez, like many juveniles sentenced to life in prison, was exposed to violence and abuse at home. According to a 2012 report by the Sentencing Project, many individuals incarcerated for life as children experienced high rates of violence, abuse and economic disadvantage growing up.

“We know that this practice is also unfairly imposed upon our most vulnerable citizens — those who have already been failed by many of the systems that are supposed to protect them,” said Jody Kent Lavy, the director and national coordinator of the advocacy group the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. “In addition, there are significant racial disparities in the use of the sentence, with black youth sentenced to life without parole at a per capita rate 10 times that of white teens.”

But it’s not only children in the criminal justice system that concern the U.N.’s Méndez; any form of detention is detrimental to the health and well-being of children, including immigration detention centers.

In a statement released ahead of the report, he said, “Detention of children based on migration status is never in the best interests of child, is grossly disproportionate and constitutes ill treatment.”

Experts say immigration detention can have profound negative effects on children’s mental health and development. “That’s partly because they are deprived of the kind of normal, everyday experiences and opportunities that they need developmentally,” said Dr. Sarah Mares, a child and family psychiatrist and medical consultant to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s recent inquiry into children in immigration detention.

“They are exposed to very high levels of adult distress, so things that can be protective for children and young people in everyday life when they’re facing adversity are not available for kids that are detained,” she said.

“Particularly for children, there’s a very significant link between deterioration in their mental health and functioning and the length of time in detention,” said Mares. “That’s why it’s clear that detention for children needs to be for the minimum possible time.”

According to the Global Campaign to End Child Detention, over 67,000 unaccompanied children and 2,000 families were detained in the U.S. in 2014.

Detention is inextricably linked with ill-treatment, children must be protected

GENEVA (10 March 2015)

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, today urged States to adopt new alternatives to the detention of children that fulfill the child’s best interests and the authorities’ obligation to protect them from torture or other ill-treatment.

“The detention of children is inextricably linked – in fact if not in law – with the ill-treatment of children, owing to the particularly vulnerable situation in which they have been placed that exposes them to numerous types of risk,” Mr. Méndez said during the presentation of his latest report* to the UN Human Rights Council.

“The particular vulnerability of children imposes a heightened obligation of due diligence on States to take additional measures to ensure their human rights to life, health, dignity and physical and mental integrity,” he said. “However, the response to address the key issues and causes is often insufficient.”

The human rights expert noted that the deprivation of liberty of children is intended to be a last resort measure, to be used only for the shortest possible period of time, only if is in the best interests of the child, and limited to exceptional cases.

“Failure to recognize or apply these safeguards increases the risk of children being subjected to torture or other ill-treatment, and implicates State responsibility,” Mr. Méndez warned. He called for the adoption of “higher standards to classify treatment and punishment as cruel, inhuman or degrading in the case of children.”

In addition, the Special Rapporteur pointed out that inappropriate conditions of detention – including pretrial and post-trial incarceration as well as institutionalisation and administrative immigration detention- exacerbate the harmful effects on children deprived of their liberty.

“Within the context of administrative immigration enforcement, it is now clear that the deprivation of liberty of children based on their or their parents’ migration status is never in the best interests of the child,” he added. “It exceeds the requirement of necessity, becomes grossly disproportionate and may constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of migrant children.”

“States should, expeditiously and completely, cease the detention of children, with or without their parents, on the basis of their immigration status,” Mr. Méndez said.
“One of the most important sources of ill-treatment of children in those institutions is the lack of basic resources and proper government oversight,” the UN Special Rapporteur noted. “Regular and independent monitoring of places where children are deprived of their liberty is a key factor in preventing torture and other forms of ill-treatment,” he concluded.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment, Juan Ernesto Mendez

Addendum – Observations on communications

Addendum – Follow-up report

Mr. Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in November 2010. Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. He is currently a Professor of Law at the American University – Washington College of Law and Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Universal Human Rights Index:

Justice Department Issues Scathing Report on Ferguson Police and Courts

Scathing attacks on system but no indictment of Darren Wilson
DOJ criminally fails to indict Darren Wilson

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

Last week United States Attorney General Eric Holder issued two seemingly contradictory reports.

It was officially announced that Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed unarmed African American youth Michael Brown on Aug. 9, would not be indicted on federal civil rights violations charges due to lack of probable cause. Wilson, who has since resigned from the Ferguson Police Department, claimed that he felt threatened by the 18-year-old and consequently drew his weapon and fired numerous shots into the young man’s body.

Just one days earlier, the same Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a comprehensive report on the systematic discriminatory policies of the Ferguson police. These findings are by no means news to the people of Ferguson and St. Louis County.

Journalists, activists and other observers have noted as well the appalling and repressive character of the police in St. Louis County and the exploitative nature of the court system which ensnarls African Americans with citations and jail time for failure to pay these arbitrary fines in a timely fashion.

The DOJ report revealed that “The City budgets for sizeable increases in municipal fines and fees each year, exhorts police and court staff to deliver those revenue increases, and closely monitors whether those increases are achieved. City officials routinely urge Chief Jackson to generate more revenue through enforcement.”

During March 2010, a memorandum from the City Finance Director to Chief Jackson stressed that “unless ticket writing ramps up significantly before the end of the year, it will be hard to significantly raise collections next year. . . . Given that we are looking at a substantial sales tax shortfall, it’s not an insignificant issue.”

Also the DOJ documents that in March 2013, the Ferguson Finance Director wrote to the City Manager noting: “Court fees are anticipated to rise about 7.5%. I did ask the Chief if he thought the PD could deliver 10% increase. He indicated they could try.” The report continues saying “The importance of focusing on revenue generation is communicated to FPD officers. Ferguson police officers from all ranks told us that revenue generation is stressed heavily within the police department….”

Police Guided by Racism

It is quite obvious that the City of Ferguson’s methodology of law enforcement reflects and fortifies racial profiling and discrimination. Consequently those most severely impacted by these policies are African Americans who are systematically targeted for punitive actions by the cops.

The DOJ report substantiates such assumptions by stating unequivocally that “Data collected by the Ferguson Police Department from 2012 to 2014 shows African Americans account for 85 percent of vehicle stops, 90 percent of citations, and 93 percent of arrests made by FPD officers, despite comprising only 67 percent of Ferguson’s population. African Americans are more than twice as likely as white drivers to be searched during vehicle stops even after controlling for non-race based variables such as the reason the vehicle stop was initiated, but are found in possession of contraband 26 percent less often than white drivers, suggesting officers are impermissibly considering race as a factor when determining whether to search.”

During the period of two years, 2012 to 2014, the FPD wrote four or more citations to African Americans on 73 occasions. Nonetheless, the statistics illustrate that cops issued four or more citations to non-African Americans on only two occasions. The Ferguson police obviously issue certain citations almost exclusively against African Americans. Between the years of 2011 to 2013, African Americans were cited for 95 percent of Manner of Walking in Roadway charges, and 94 percent of all Failure to Comply charges.

Racists E-mails Common

The report also revealed racist e-mails sent by Ferguson city personnel insulting and mocking African Americans from the local area all the way up to the White House. These racist e-mails were widely circulated even outside city administration circles.

E-mails circulated by Ferguson officials in law-enforcement and the courts reflect the venomous racism within the municipal system. These electronic notes and “ethnic jokes” draw upon some of the worst stereotypes within U.S. society.

African Americans are accused of not taking care of their children, of being lazy and criminally inclined. Even President Barack Obama was described as an animal by a Ferguson employee.

These e-mails continued to circulate and no one was ever held accountable by Ferguson officials. In the aftermath of the release of the DOJ report a court clerk and two police officers have since left their jobs. However, no one has been criminally prosecuted for these offenses.

Yet Darren Wilson Remains Unscathed

Despite the damning proof of blatant racism, police brutality, judicial misconduct and criminal conspiratorial actions, no one has been arrested or indicted for these violations of the law which the DOJ say contravene the fourth, eighth and fourteenth amendments to the U.S. constitution. Darren Wilson, who shot down Michael Brown, was not indicted by the local St. Louis County prosecutor and also escaped from criminal charges by the DOJ.

According to the DOJ in its statement related to the decision not to indict former Ferguson police officer Wilson on federal civil rights violations charges, “The evidence does not establish that the shots fired by Wilson were objectively unreasonable under federal law. When Brown turned around and moved toward Wilson, the applicable law and evidence do not support finding that Wilson was unreasonable in his fear that Brown would once again attempt to harm him and gain control of his gun.”

Such a rationale for not indicting Wilson stems from the same stereotypical reasoning enunciated by the white police officer when he told ABC News in an exclusive interview that he felt mortally threatened by an unarmed African American youth. These are the same excuses given for decades to justify the police killings of African Americans and other oppressed people in the U.S.

Brown’s Family to File Civil Suit Against Darren Wilson

On March 5, the family of Michael Brown announced that they would pursue civil litigation against Darren Wilson for the wrongful death of their son. Since the family and the community in Ferguson have been denied redress within the local and federal court systems, they are seeking to hold Wilson liable for his actions resulting in the death of Brown.

“There were other alternatives available to him. He did not have to kill Michael Brown,” said Daryl Parks, an attorney for the family of the slain teen.

Attorney Anthony Gray said the lawsuit is being prepared now and will be filed soon.

Gray said the lawsuit is being worked on and will be filed in the not too distant future. “Wilson did not have to shoot and kill Mike Brown Jr. in broad daylight in the manner that he did,” Gray said. “The choice to use deadly force was unreasonable and unnecessary.” (Globe and Mail, March 5)

The DOJ report on Ferguson and St. Louis County is not an exception in the U.S. Such practices involving law-enforcement and the courts are commonplace in many municipalities throughout the country.

On March 6, Tony Robinson, a 19-year-old African American in Madison, Wisconsin was killed by the police. The officer involved has not been arrested on indicted and the authorities say the incident is “under investigation.”

The pervasive racism in the U.S. was also revealed when an Oklahoma State University all-white fraternity was videotaped chanting slogans saying that African Americans will never join their organization and that they should be hung from trees. Although the group was suspended by their national office and the university has publically distanced itself from the racist organization, these attitudes are not an anomaly.

It will take a much broader organized mass movement to overthrow racism and police brutality. The character of the U.S. capitalist and imperialist system is rooted in racial discrimination and economic exploitation which must be eradicated for true equality and self-determination to be won by the nationally oppressed.

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.

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