Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:








California Speaking Tour of David Sheen, Oct. 21-29, 2015

The Bullet, the Ballot, and the Boycott: Racism in Israel Today

Oct. 21-29, 2015, independent Canadian-Israeli journalist and filmmaker David Sheen will present the Bullet, the Ballot & the Boycott at venues in California.  He will cover Israeli incitement to racist violence, the focus of his on-the-ground reporting for the past five years.

David will describe how top Israeli political and religious leaders use dehumanizing discourse to inspire vigilante attacks toward Palestinians, Africans and other non-Jews, especially during the 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip.  It will include material that Sheen presented at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in Brussels, as well as new information never before been made public in English.

David's speaking schedule is as follows.  To make arrangements for David to come to your event or to add the name of your organization as a tour endorser, please call 510-236-4250 or write to us at solidarity@ism-norcal.org.

Wed., Oct. 21


San Jose State University, details to follow

SJSU Students for Justice in Palestine


Thu., Oct. 22


Berkeley, details to follow

Zaytuna University


Sun., Oct. 25


Uptown Body & Fender, 401 26th St., Oakland

ISM-NorCal & JVP-Bay Area

510-236-4250, ism-norcal.org

$10 suggested donation

Thu., Oct. 29


The Markaz, 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles

The Markaz & JVP-LA

www.themarkaz.org 310.657.5511


ISM Northern California | Supporting Palestinian-led non...

Northern California branch of the Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods...

View on www.ism-norcal.org

Tour organizer: ISM Support Group in Northern California





International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity


Featuring Kenia Serrano Puig, President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP)  

Friday November 13, 7:30pm

East Bay Center for the Performing Arts

339 11th Street, Richmond CA 94801-3105

Doors Open 6:30pm

$10-20 Donation at the Door

(nobody turned away for lack of funds)

Students and children free admission

This will be a unique opportunity to hear from the Cuban perspective about the new stage of U.S.-Cuba relations and the role that the U.S. Cuba solidarity movement can play in ending the U.S. blockade.


Keynote Speaker, Kenia Serrano Puig, President of ICAP

Welcome by Gayle McLaughlin, Richmond City Council Member

Dr. Laura Gomez, recently graduated from the Latin America School of Medicine (ELAM)

Leima Martinez, ICAP North America Division

Walter Turner, KPFA Host of Africa Today 

Musical performance by a local group

ICAP is a social organization founded on December 30, 1960 for the purpose of promoting and explaining to the peoples of the world the relations of solidarity that sparked the Cuban Revolution. ICAP is the vehicle to reach around the globe to people who are in solidarity with Cuba. ICAP is that interface that strengthens the network of solidarity, while representing the Cuban people, and delivering a strong message that solidarity not only benefits Cuba but the peoples of the world who are aspiring to promote the idea that a better world is possible for all.

Initiated by the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity

Co-sponsors: Global Exchange, Richmond-Regla Sister City Association, Berkeley-Palma Soriano Sister City Association.



Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

Sign the Petition:


Urge Gov. Jerry Brown to commute Kevin Cooper's death sentence. Cooper has always maintained his innocence of the 1983 quadruple murder of which he was convicted. In 2009, five federal judges signed a dissenting opinion warning that the State of California "may be about to execute an innocent man." Having exhausted his appeals in the US courts, Kevin Cooper's lawyers have turned to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to seek remedy for what they maintain is his wrongful conviction, and the inadequate trial representation, prosecutorial misconduct and racial discrimination which have marked the case. Amnesty International opposes all executions, unconditionally.

"The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." - Judge William A. Fletcher, 2009 dissenting opinion on Kevin Cooper's case

Kevin Cooper has been on death row in California for more than thirty years.

In 1985, Cooper was convicted of the murder of a family and their house guest in Chino Hills. Sentenced to death, Cooper's trial took place in an atmosphere of racial hatred — for example, an effigy of a monkey in a noose with a sign reading "Hang the N*****!" was hung outside the venue of his preliminary hearing.

Take action to see that Kevin Cooper's death sentence is commuted immediately.

Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

Following his trial, five federal judges said: "There is no way to say this politely. The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing."

Since 2004, a dozen federal appellate judges have indicated their doubts about his guilt.

Tell California authorities: The death penalty carries the risk of irrevocable error. Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted.

In 2009, Cooper came just eight hours shy of being executed for a crime that he may not have committed. Stand with me today in reminding the state of California that the death penalty is irreversible — Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted immediately.

In solidarity,

James Clark
Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
Amnesty International USA

News Updates

  • Death Row Stories
    Kevin Cooper's case will be the subject of a new episode of CNN's "Death Row Stories" airing on Sunday, July 26 at 7 p.m. PDT. The program will be repeated at 10 p.m. PDT. The episode, created by executive producers Robert Redford and Alex Gibney, will explore how Kevin Cooper was framed by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and District Attorney.Viewers on the east coast can see the program at 10 p.m. EDT and it will be rebroadcast at 1 a.m. EDT on July 27. Viewers in the Central Time zone can see it at 9 p.m. and midnight CDT. Viewers in the Mountain Time zone can see it at 8 p.m. and ll p.m MDT. It will be aired on CNN again during the following week and will also be able to be viewed on CNN's "Death Row Stories" website.

Kevin Cooper: An Innocent Victim of Racist Frame-Up
- from the Fact Sheet at: www.freekevincooper.org


Kevin Cooper is an African-American man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in 1985 for the gruesome murders of a white family in Chino Hills, California: Doug and Peggy Ryen and their daughter Jessica and their house- guest Christopher Hughes. The Ryens' 8 year old son Josh, also attacked, was left for dead but survived.

Convicted in an atmosphere of racial hatred in San Bernardino County CA, Kevin Cooper remains under a threat of imminent execution in San Quentin.  He has never received a fair hearing on his claim of innocence.  In a dissenting opinion in 2009, five federal judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals signed a 82 page dissenting opinion that begins: "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." 565 F.3d 581.

There is significant evidence that exonerates Mr. Cooper and points toward other suspects:

  The coroner who investigated the Ryen murders concluded that the murders took four minutes at most and that the murder weapons were a hatchet, a long knife, an ice pick and perhaps a second knife. How could a single person, in four or fewer minutes, wield three or four weapons, and inflict over 140 wounds on five people, two of whom were adults (including a 200 pound ex-marine) who had loaded weapons near their bedsides?

  The sole surviving victim of the murders, Josh Ryen, told police and hospital staff within hours of the murders that the culprits were "three white men." Josh Ryen repeated this statement in the days following the crimes. When he twice saw Mr. Cooper's picture on TV as the suspected attacker, Josh Ryen said "that's not the man who did it."

  Josh Ryen's description of the killers was corroborated by two witnesses who were driving near the Ryens' home the night of the murders. They reported seeing three white men in a station wagon matching the description of the Ryens' car speeding away from the direction of the Ryens' home.

  These descriptions were corroborated by testimony of several employees and patrons of a bar close to the Ryens' home, who saw three white men enter the bar around midnight the night of the murders, two of whom were covered in blood, and one of whom was wearing coveralls.

  The identity of the real killers was further corroborated by a woman who, shortly after the murders were discovered, alerted the sheriff's department that her boyfriend, a convicted murderer, left blood-spattered coveralls at her home the night of the murders. She also reported that her boyfriend had been wearing a tan t-shirt matching a tan t-shirt with Doug Ryen's blood on it recovered near the bar. She also reported that her boyfriend owned a hatchet matching the one recovered near the scene of the crime, which she noted was missing in the days following the murders; it never reappeared; further, her sister saw that boyfriend and two other white men in a vehicle that could have been the Ryens' car on the night of the murders.

Lacking a motive to ascribe to Mr. Cooper for the crimes, the prosecution claimed that Mr. Cooper, who had earlier walked away from custody at a minimum security prison, stole the Ryens' car to escape to Mexico. But the Ryens had left the keys in both their cars (which were parked in the driveway), so there was no need to kill them to steal their car. The prosecution also claimed that Mr. Cooper needed money, but money and credit cards were found untouched and in plain sight at the murder scene.

The jury in 1985 deliberated for seven days before finding Mr. Cooper guilty. One juror later said that if there had been one less piece of evidence, the jury would not have voted to convict.

The evidence the prosecution presented at trial tying Mr. Cooper to the crime scene has all been discredited…         (Continue reading this document at: http://www.savekevincooper.org/_new_freekevincooperdotorg/TEST/Scripts/DataLibraries/upload/KC_FactSheet_2014.pdf)

     This message from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. July 2015



Free Albert Woodfox!

On June 8, 2015 a federal judge granted Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox unconditional release. Albert's conviction had already been overturned three times - most recently in 2013 - yet every time the state has appealed.

Today, Albert is still behind bars after spending four decades in cruel, unjust solitary confinement. He believes that he and fellow prisoners, Herman Wallace and Robert King, were first placed in solitary confinement in retaliation for their activism. All three men were members of the Black Panther Party. Together, they came to be known as the Angola 3.

It is time for the State of Louisiana to stop standing in the way of justice. Call on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to ensure Albert's cruel and unjust confinement is not his legacy. Learn more




Amnesty for all those arrested demanding justice for Freddie Gray!


Amnesty for ALL those arrested
demanding justice for Freddie Gray!

Sign and distribute the petition to drop the charges!
Spread this effort with #Amnesty4Baltimore

"A riot is the language of the unheard"
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

An estimated 300 people have been arrested in Baltimore in the last two weeks. Many have been brutalized, beaten and pepper-sprayed by police in the streets, and held for days in inhumane conditions. Those arrested include journalists, medics and legal observers.

One individual arrested for property destruction of a police vehicle is now facing life in prison and is being held on $500,000 bail. That's $150,000 more than the officer charged with the murder of Freddie Gray.  

The legal system has made it clear that they care more about broken windows than broken necks; more about a CVS than the lives of Baltimore's Black residents.

They showed no hesitation in arresting Baltimore's protesters and rebels, and sending in the National Guard, but took 19 days to put a single one of the killer cops in handcuffs. This was the outrageous double standard that led to the Baltimore Uprising.

 Sign the petition to drop the charges on all who have been arrested.

Petition to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Download PDF of Petition 


Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake

City Hall, Room 250,

100 North Holliday St.,

Baltimore, MD 21202

Dear Mayor Rawlings-Blake:

I stand in solidarity with those in Baltimore who are demanding that all charges be dropped against those who rose up against racism, police brutality, oppressive social conditions and delay of justice in the case of Freddie Gray. The whole world now recognizes that were it not for this powerful grassroots movement, in all its forms, there would be no indictment.

It is an outrage that peaceful protesters have been brutalized, beaten and pepper-sprayed by police in the streets, and held for days in inhumane conditions. Those arrested include journalists and legal observers.

Even the youth who are charged with property destruction and looting should be given an amnesty. There is no reason a teenager -- provoked by racists and justifiably angry -- should be facing life in prison for breaking the windows of a police car.

The City of Baltimore should work to rectify the conditions that led to this Uprising, rather than criminalizing those who took action in response to those conditions. Drop the charges now!


[add your name below]




Sign the Petition:


Dear President Obama, Senators, and Members of Congress:

Americans now owe $1.3 trillion in student debt. Eighty-six percent of that money is owed to the United States government. This is a crushing burden for more than 40 million Americans and their families.

I urge you to take immediate action to forgive all student debt, public and private.

American Federation of Teachers

Campaign for America's Future

Courage Campaign

Daily Kos

Democracy for America


Project Springboard

RH Reality Check


Student Debt Crisis

The Nation

Working Families




Last night Mumia got notice that the final appeal of his PA Department of Corrections grievance was denied. Listen to his reaction here.

This denial comes on top of the magistrate Judge's proposal to deny Mumia's right to treatment last week.

Remember-- one of the reasons the Judge gave was her claim that Mumia had not "exhausted his administrative remedies" or received a final denial of his request for care. Now he has received that denial.

We know that withholding Mumia's care is immoral and illegal. We are confident that we will win this battle in court- but we can't do it alone.

We have 3 days left to raise $2,948 to support Mumia's legal team in securing his right to hepatitis C treatment!

If you have already joined us, we're inviting you to ask one friend to match your gift. We need about 50 more freedom fighters to join us to reach our goal— and we want you to make that happen with us!

If you haven't given yet- now is the time to make a contribution for Mumia. Will you join us?

Health care is a human right- for Mumia, and for all prisoners. Let's prove it.‪ #freemumia #fight4mumia

Reply directly to this email to respond to the campaign owner, Prison Radio . Visit the campaign page to view all comments and updates for this project.

Help spread the word about the campaign!




Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson


Updates from the New "Team Free Lorenzo Johnson":

Thank you all for your relentless effort in the fight against wrongful convictions and your determination to stand behind Lorenzo.

To garner even more support for Lorenzo Johnson, we have been hard at work updating the website and developing an even more formidable and dedicated team. Please take a moment to visit the new site here.

During the month of July, Lorenzo wrote two new articles for The Huffington Post titled "When Prosecutors Deny Justice for the Innocent," and "Hurry Up and Wait for Justice: The Struggle of Innocent Prisoners." In these articles, Lorenzo discusses the flaws in the criminal justice system, which he deems is a "serious problem in this country."

Lastly, Lorenzo has a message to you all.

A Letter from Lorenzo:

July 23, 2015

Dauphin County Prison

Harrisburg, PA

Dear Supporters,

I hope all is well with everyone and your families. As for myself, I'm still on my journey in pursuit of my vindication. Sorry for my website being shut down for a couple of weeks. It was being transferred to a new provider and management. I'm back and will do my best to keep everything up to speed with what's taking place.

I would like to thank ALL of my loyal supporters in the U.S. and in the MANY different counties that have signed on to support my innocence. Thanks for all of the letters, emails, photos, etc. Like I always say, I get energy to carry on and inspiration hearing form you, please stay engaged in my struggle.

As of this moment, nothing has changed, but – the continued delay tactics are constantly being used by my prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General William Stoycos. With the mounting of evidence that supports my innocence and police and prosecution misconduct claims that is steadily piling up, you would think that I would be having a couple of evidentiary hearings on my actual innocence appeal that have been pending since August 5, 2013.

At the time of this writing, I've been moved from SCI-Mahanoy to Dauphin County Prison and locked down for 23 hours and 40 minutes a day. In the 20 minutes I get to come out, I get to take a shower and make a short call. Prosecutor Stoycos had me moved so I can be a witness in his attempt to have my codefendant Corey Walker's attorney removed from representing him. How dare he call into question an attorney who is seeking justice for her client, when prosecutor Stoycos himself violated multiple constitutional rights of mine and Mr. Walker, that led to us being in prison for 20 years and counting.

Prosecutor Stoycos is continuously abusing his power and his endless resources he has at his disposal. He is not tough on crime, he's tough on Innocent Prisoners. Prosecutor Stoycos is doing everything in his power to prevent justice from taking place. I encourage everyone to continue to speak out against my nightmare, invite others to get involved by going to my website and signing my Freedom Petition and whatever else they're willing to do.

On a positive note, I just enrolled in warehouse management trade and started on July 13th. Unfortunately, you're only allowed to miss a couple of days and Prosecutor Stoycos had me temporarily transferred on July 14th … It's extremely hard on Lifers to get into these trades due to the fact that Lifers are placed at the back of the list of ALL vocational classes. I try to further my education every chance I get, so when I do come home, I will be certified in different work.

The month of the hearing has come and left, without me being brought to the courthouse … I'm one of MANY innocent prisoners who endures this non-stop madness in our pursuit of Justice and Freedom. Now that my webpage is almost caught up to speed, I promise prompt updates and as everyone knows that contacted me directly, I personally reply to those in the states and out of the country. For those who can make a financial contribution, everything counts. Take care and let's continue to fight until we achieve Freedom, Justice, and Equality for all innocent prisoners.

"The Pain Within"

Free the Innocent

Lorenzo "Cat" Johnson

[Note: Lorenzo has since been transferred back to SCI Mahanoy and can be reached at his usual address.]

Thank you all for reading this message and please take the time to visit the new website and contribute to Lorenzo's campaign for freedom!

Write: Lorenzo Johnson

            DF 1036

            SCI Mahanoy

            301 Morea Rd.

            Frackville, PA 17932

 Email: Through JPay using the code:

              Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC


              Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com

Have a wonderful day!

- The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson



Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!

Click HERE to view in browser


On December 15, 2014 the Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan was thrown into prison for 2.5 to 10 years. This 66-year-old leading African American activist was tried and convicted in front of an all-white jury and racist white judge and prosecutor for supposedly altering 5 dates on a recall petition against the mayor of Benton Harbor.

The prosecutor, with the judge's approval, repeatedly told the jury "you don't need evidence to convict Mr. Pinkney." And ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE WAS EVER PRESENTED THAT TIED REV. PINKNEY TO THE 'ALTERED' PETITIONS. Rev. Pinkney was immediately led away in handcuffs and thrown into Jackson Prison.

This is an outrageous charge. It is an outrageous conviction. It is an even more outrageous sentence! It must be appealed.

With your help supporters need to raise $20,000 for Rev. Pinkney's appeal.

Checks can be made out to BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization). This is the organization founded by Rev. Pinkney.  Mail them to: Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022.

Donations can be accepted on-line at bhbanco.org – press the donate button.

For information on the decade long campaign to destroy Rev. Pinkney go to bhbanco.org and workers.org(search "Pinkney").

We urge your support to the efforts to Free Rev. Pinkney!Ramsey Clark – Former U.S. attorney general,

Cynthia McKinney – Former member of U.S. Congress,

Lynne Stewart – Former political prisoner and human rights attorney

Ralph Poynter – New Abolitionist Movement,

Abayomi Azikiwe – Editor, Pan-African News Wire<

Larry Holmes – Peoples Power Assembly,

David Sole – Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice

Sara Flounders – International Action Center


I am now in Marquette prison over 15 hours from wife and family, sitting in prison for a crime that was never committed. Judge Schrock and Mike Sepic both admitted there was no evidence against me but now I sit in prison facing 30 months. Schrock actually stated that he wanted to make an example out of me. (to scare Benton Harbor residents even more...) ONLY IN AMERICA. I now have an army to help fight Berrien County. When I arrived at Jackson state prison on Dec. 15, I met several hundred people from Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids. Some people recognized me. There was an outstanding amount of support given by the prison inmates. When I was transported to Marquette Prison it took 2 days. The prisoners knew who I was. One of the guards looked me up on the internet and said, "who would believe Berrien County is this racist."

Background to Campaign to free Rev. Pinkney

Michigan political prisoner the Rev. Edward Pinkney is a victim of racist injustice. He was sentenced to 30 months to 10 years for supposedly changing the dates on 5 signatures on a petition to recall Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower.

No material or circumstantial evidence was presented at the trial that would implicate Pinkney in the purported5 felonies. Many believe that Pinkney, a Berrien County activist and leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), is being punished by local authorities for opposing the corporate plans of Whirlpool Corp, headquartered in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

In 2012, Pinkney and BANCO led an "Occupy the PGA [Professional Golfers' Association of America]" demonstration against a world-renowned golf tournament held at the newly created Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. The course was carved out of Jean Klock Park, which had been donated to the city of Benton Harbor decades ago.

Berrien County officials were determined to defeat the recall campaign against Mayor Hightower, who opposed a program that would have taxed local corporations in order to create jobs and improve conditions in Benton Harbor, a majority African-American municipality. Like other Michigan cities, it has been devastated by widespread poverty and unemployment.

The Benton Harbor corporate power structure has used similar fraudulent charges to stop past efforts to recall or vote out of office the racist white officials, from mayor, judges, prosecutors in a majority Black city. Rev Pinkney who always quotes scripture, as many Christian ministers do, was even convicted for quoting scripture in a newspaper column. This outrageous conviction was overturned on appeal. We must do this again!

To sign the petition in support of the Rev. Edward Pinkney, log on to: tinyurl.com/ps4lwyn.

Contributions for Rev. Pinkney's defense can be sent to BANCO at Mrs Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Or you can donate on-line at bhbanco.org.





New Action--write letters to DoD officials requesting clemency for Chelsea!

Secretary of the Army John McHugh

President Obama has delegated review of Chelsea Manning's clemency appeal to individuals within the Department of Defense.

Please write them to express your support for heroic WikiLeaks' whistle-blower former US Army intelligence analyst PFC Chelsea Manning's release from military prison.

It is important that each of these authorities realize the wide support that Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning enjoys worldwide. They need to be reminded that millions understand that Manning is a political prisoner, imprisoned for following her conscience. While it is highly unlikely that any of these individuals would independently move to release Manning, a reduction in Manning's outrageous 35-year prison sentence is a possibility at this stage.

Take action TODAY – Write letters supporting Chelsea's clemency petition to the following DoD authorities:

Secretary of the Army John McHugh

101 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-0101

The Judge Advocate General

2200 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-2200

Army Clemency and Parole Board

251 18th St, Suite 385

Arlington, VA 22202-3532

Directorate of Inmate Administration

Attn: Boards Branch

U.S. Disciplinary Barracks

1301 N. Warehouse Road

Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304

Suggestions for letters send to DoD officials:

The letter should focus on your support for Chelsea Manning, and especially why you believe justice will be served if Chelsea Manning's sentence is reduced.  The letter should NOT be anti-military as this will be unlikely to help.

A suggested message: "Chelsea Manning has been punished enough for violating military regulations in the course of being true to her conscience.  I urge you to use your authorityto reduce Pvt. Manning's sentence to time served."  Beyond that general message, feel free to personalize the details as to why you believe Chelsea deserves clemency.

Consider composing your letter on personalized letterhead -you can create this yourself (here are templates and some tips for doing that).

A comment on this post will NOT be seen by DoD authorities–please send your letters to the addresses above

This clemency petition is separate from Chelsea Manning's upcoming appeal before the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals next year, where Manning's new attorney Nancy Hollander will have an opportunity to highlight the prosecution's—and the trial judge's—misconduct during last year's trial at Ft. Meade, Maryland.

Help us continue to cover 100% of Chelsea's legal fees at this critical stage!

Courage to Resist

484 Lake Park Ave. #41

Oakland, CA 94610














1) For-Profit Colleges Accused of Fraud Still Receive U.S. Funds



2) A.C.L.U. Says Complaints Show Border Patrol 'Impunity'


TUCSON — The federal checkpoints on highways near the Mexican border, with trained dogs and expensive scanning equipment, are supposed to stop drugs and immigrants without legal status from heading north. But newly released complaints against United States Customs and Border Protection paint a disquieting portrait of the interactions between agents and many of those they stopped and searched.Last year, in southeastern Arizona, a military veteran said his children shuddered with fear in the back seat as agents repeatedly asked him if the children were really his. A woman at a checkpoint between Phoenix and Tucson said an agent threatened to use a stun gun on her brother in 2012 after he asked why their vehicle was being searched. And at a California checkpoint in 2013, a man said an agent approached him, hand on his holstered weapon, and demanded: "How would you like to have a gun pointed at your face?"

The accounts were culled from nearly 6,000 pages of complaints, arrest statistics and other records released in recent months to the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona by Customs and Border Protection's overseer, the Department of Homeland Security, after the A.C.L.U. sued the department for access. Collectively, the documents, detailing encounters between motorists and border agents from January 2011 to August 2014, portray an agency whose fractured oversight system has enabled at least some agents working along the southern border to stretch the limits of law and professional courtesy while rarely facing meaningful consequences.

Among the 142 complaints obtained by the A.C.L.U., only one seems to have resulted in disciplinary action: An agent received a one-day suspension for unjustifiably stopping a vehicle, apparently driven by the son of a retired Border Patrol agent.

James Lyall, an A.C.L.U. lawyer dedicated to the border, said the records not only confirmed the types of stories his office regularly hears from border residents, but also suggested that Customs and Border Protection has underreported the number of civil rights complaints it has received. For example, in reports to Congress for the 2012 fiscal year, oversight agencies listed three complaints accusing agents of violating the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, according to an A.C.L.U. report. At the same time, the records the A.C.L.U. received include 81 such accusations filed during the same period against agents assigned to the Border Patrol's Tucson and Yuma sectors, or only two of its 20 regional divisions along the southern and northern borders.

"C.B.P.'s own records paint a disturbing picture of lawlessness and impunity, in which the agency continually operates without any regard for accepted best practices, and agents commit widespread abuses knowing they won't be held accountable," Mr. Lyall said.

Agency officials declined to respond to requests for comment on the complaints, directing reporters to remarks from Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske that highlight his effort to make openness and accountability top priorities when he took over the agency in March 2014. One agency official held up Friday's arraignment of a Border Patrol agent, Lonnie Swartz, on the cross-border killing of a 16-year-old boy, José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, as an example that no one is above the law.

But civil rights lawyers, along with members of Congress from border towns in Texas and Arizona, have long argued that Customs and Border Protection works according to its own rules, resisting calls for greater transparency and accountability.

As evidence, they note that since Jan. 1, 2010, 33 people have died in encounters with border and customs agents but that so far, Agent Swartz has been the only one to face federal criminal charges. (He pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in Federal District Court here on Friday.)

Many of the families of those who were killed have also complained that the agency has fought hard to keep the names of agents implicated in the killings under seal; José Antonio's family had to sue to learn Agent Swartz's identity.

The agency has also been slow to investigate when shots are fired but no injuries are confirmed, and failed to track the number of stops at checkpoints or by roving patrols unless the stops result in arrests. A 2013 report by the nonprofit Police Executive Research Forum said such "no harm, no foul" procedures can lead to a "tacit approval of bad practices."

Mr. Kerlikowske, in response, has convened panels and pushed for changes in the way the agency does business.

In particular, he has championed the recommendations released in June by the Integrity Advisory Panel, of which Commissioner William J. Bratton of New York is vice chairman. Its recommendations for the agency ranged from basic — "emphasize that its overarching responsibility is to preserve human life" — to practical, such as enforcing requirements that all uniformed personnel wear visible name tags at all times and improving Spanish-language abilities at its call centers, where many of the abuse complaints are logged.

"I am taking steps to make transparency and accountability hallmarks of my tenure at C.B.P.," Mr. Kerlikowske said in April during a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "The public's trust in us depends on it."

This month he announced the latest of several policy updates, calling for proper safekeeping of the personal effects of migrants apprehended while illegally crossing the border, adequate standards of hygiene and temperature in holding cells, and specific language on gender identity, which did not exist.

On Tuesday, the agency reported that use-of-force incidents dropped by 26 percent over the past fiscal year — to 768 in the 2015 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, from 1,037 in the 2014 fiscal year. There were 28 incidents involving firearms in the 2015 fiscal year, one fewer than in the previous fiscal year.

In a statement, Commissioner Kerlikowske said that he was "encouraged by the progress," but that "more can be done."

Civil rights advocates and elected officials say the agency still has a long way to go.

The civil rights complaints filed by motorists at checkpoints and roving patrols in Arizona and southeastern California that are part of the A.C.L.U. records — as well as hundreds of other cases found in complaint records obtained independently by The New York Times — are full of accusations of lengthy detentions and damaged property, such as ripped carpets and seats as agents presumably searched for drugs.

Often, drivers claimed that the agents' aggressive reactions were prompted by a simple question: Why had their vehicle been picked for an inspection?

Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, Democrat of Arizona, whose district includes border communities from Nogales to Yuma, said his office has received numerous such complaints from constituents, who speak of "being frustrated" and "losing confidence" over the Border Patrol's "justifications and judgment."

"Citizens, permanent legal residents, people who have lived in the borderlands for generations — that's who's making these complaints," said Mr. Grijalva, who added that he also had his car searched this year at a checkpoint south of Tucson. "People make the complaints, but their complaints go nowhere. There's no acknowledgment, absolutely no response."

Many of the complaints that he and the A.C.L.U. have received make allegations of ethnic profiling. One, by a lawyer for the City of Nogales, says, "How many non-Hispanic-looking persons get subjected to non-immigration questions? How many declarations of U.S. citizenship by non-Hispanic-looking persons are subject to further questioning? The tired excuse of 'the dog alerted' has worn incredibly thin as a reason to search Hispanics."

Agents rely heavily on drug-sniffing dogs to inspect the thousands of cars that go through the Border Patrol's busiest checkpoints, tollbooth-like way stations near the border. But the agency does not seem to keep track of when dogs alert, how often they alert and how often their alerts are wrong. It records an alert only when it results in an arrest.

Jane Bambauer, an associate professor of law at the University of Arizona, said this type of detailed record-keeping was "critical to accountability" because it would allow the agency to assess if a program is working or not.

"If they're only reporting when their hunches turn out to be correct, we can't say if their hunches have been reliable," said Ms. Bambauer, who joined the A.C.L.U. in its public records request, which the Homeland Security Department ignored until it was sued. "What you end up with is a pretty aggressive agency that doesn't know how to measure the effectiveness of all the power that it wields."



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6) Coal Baron's Trial May Hinge on His Secretly Recorded Conversations

"Discussing inspectors from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, he complains that they pay too much attention to black lung disease, caused by excessive coal dust exposure. (Autopsies would find that 71 percent of the 29 miners killed at Upper Big Branch suffered from black lung, compared with an industry average of 3.2 percent, according to a 2011 state inquiry that attributed the blast to 'a failure of basic coal mine safety practices.') 'The truth of the matter,' Mr. Blankenship is heard saying, 'is black lung is not an issue in this industry that is worth the effort they put into it.'"


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Back when he was one of the most powerful and feared men in West Virginia, before a coal mine explosion killed 29 of his employees and exposed his company's shoddy safety record, Donald L. Blankenship was seen as an arrogant, micromanaging bully. Even his lawyer says he was "rude and insulting."But in the end, another of his qualities — his penchant for secretly recording his own conversations — may help bring Mr. Blankenship down.

Mr. Blankenship is the former chairman and chief executive of Massey Energy, whose Upper Big Branch mine became, in April 2010, the site of the nation's deadliest coal mining disaster in nearly 40 years. Now on trial in federal court here, he is the first coal baron ever to face criminal charges — the central character, prosecutors say, in a historic case of conspiracy to flout health and safety laws in pursuit of profits.

Defense lawyers say they will prove that Mr. Blankenship was deeply concerned with mine safety, and that he had committed no "willful violations" of safety laws, as the government asserts.

Mr. Blankenship's rise and fall are the stuff of legend in Appalachia. Raised in a poor county, he built Massey from a family-owned company into an industry behemoth that operated more than 150 mines and brought in $2.6 billion in revenue. As prosecutors make their case against him, they have so far played 19 snippets from hundreds of hours of Mr. Blankenship's secret audio files, which were turned over by the company that acquired Massey after the blast.

The tapes offer a peek into the mind of a man seemingly consumed with his own wealth and frustrated with federal regulators and company officials who pushed for more attention to safety. The prosecution hopes to offer three more recordings, but on Thursday, defense lawyers asked Judge Irene C. Berger, who is presiding over the case, to block them.

In one conversation, Mr. Blankenship complains that Massey's top safety official is too concerned with "the social aspects" of her job: "You've got to have someone who actually understands that this game is about money." In another, he frets over a confidential internal safety memo — central to the prosecution's case — that warned, among other things, of poor ventilation at mines and said Massey was "plainly cheating" in sampling coal dust, a health hazard and a fire accelerant.

He worries how things will look if Massey is sued. "If that was a fatal today, or if we had one," Mr. Blankenship says, an apparent reference to an accident, "it'd be a terrible document to be in discovery."

Discussing inspectors from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, he complains that they pay too much attention to black lung disease, caused by excessive coal dust exposure. (Autopsies would find that 71 percent of the 29 miners killed at Upper Big Branch suffered from black lung, compared with an industry average of 3.2 percent, according to a 2011 state inquiry that attributed the blast to "a failure of basic coal mine safety practices.")

"The truth of the matter," Mr. Blankenship is heard saying, "is black lung is not an issue in this industry that is worth the effort they put into it."

The recordings also reveal Mr. Blankenship's clashes with Massey's compensation committee over a $12 million pay package for him that included stock options. "I said, 'You can't go to the grocery store and buy groceries with options,'" he tells a woman he was dating, after remarking that he was glad she liked the flowers he had sent.

Mr. Blankenship, 65, faces up to 31 years in prison on three felony counts, including conspiracy to violate mine safety standards and hide hazards from federal inspectors, lying to securities regulators and misleading investors about safety practices in an effort to maintain Massey's stock price — and his fortune.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

That he is being prosecuted at all is stunning, given his political clout in a state with a long, sordid history of coal-mine tragedies, stretching back to at least the late 1800s. He spent $5 million to elect one State Supreme Court justice, which prompted a documentary film labeling him "The Kingmaker," and he was photographed on the French Riviera with another. Both later voted to throw out a $50 million jury verdict against Massey.

"Politicians, Democrats and Republicans, flocked to Blankenship," said Patrick McGinley, a law professor at West Virginia University who contributed to the state inquiry. "He was viewed by many as untouchable, just like all the other corporate executives of coal companies that killed scores or hundreds or thousands of miners over the last century."

Prosecutors say that Mr. Blankenship was involved in the minutest details of life at Upper Big Branch, informed nearly every day of safety violations there, and that he had overruled managers who wanted to fix safety problems, demanding instead that they step up production and "run coal."

David Hughart — a former high-level Massey executive who is serving a 42-month prison term connected to the 2010 disaster — testified to that effect this week, telling jurors he had approved safety shortcuts under "pressure to run, produce coal." Mr. Hughart is one of four employees who have been convicted in connection with an investigation that followed the explosion.

Defense lawyers have countered with, among other things, Mr. Blankenship's handwritten notes; he shunned computers. In one note, he approved purchases of safety equipment; in another, he berated underlings for not moving fast enough on a plan to reduce violations.

"The only thing more frightening to our future than regulators is us," Mr. Blankenship wrote.

The defense also contends that Mr. Blankenship was far removed from daily life at Upper Big Branch. But Michael B. Hissam, who worked on the early stages of the mine investigation as a federal prosecutor and now represents coal-industry clients, said the audiotapes "are the answer to the busy C.E.O. defense," because they "show Don Blankenship having hands-on micromanagement involvement."

Mr. Blankenship's recordings are "a gift he gave to the families" of the dead miners, said Judy Jones Petersen, a Charleston doctor whose brother Dean Jones, a mine foreman, was killed. "The jury gets an opportunity to hear this snively character whining about his stock options," she said. "It's rather pathetic."The trial has also painted a grim portrait of conditions at Upper Big Branch, where rough-hewn miners working miles underground often feared for their safety. Several testified that they had been tipped off, in code language by superiors, when federal inspectors were on the way and been told to hastily fix violations.

One former miner, Brent Racer, described hearing the president of the Massey subsidiary that operated Upper Big Branch hassling a mine boss who tried to improve ventilation, telling him, "'We would get more air soon, and we needed to worry about running.'"

Another, Gary Young, worked the overnight shift as a "rock duster" spreading limestone dust, a protective coating to hold down coal dust and prevent explosions. He told the jury that his equipment was often broken, and his shifts often truncated. Frustrated, he kept a journal to communicate with his manager. His last entry, two weeks before the blast, read, "I'm set up to fail."

Defense lawyers have not said whether Mr. Blankenship will testify, but at court, he cuts an awkward figure. Accompanied by a team of Washington lawyers, he arrives each morning carrying a slightly battered black briefcase and walks, tight-lipped, past television cameras and reporters asking questions. During a break the other day, he sat by himself on a bench outside the courtroom.

He is not without supporters. Shannon Westerman, 77, a retired business owner who worked with Massey on a coal safety awareness program, turned up in court the other day to shake Mr. Blankenship's hand.

"I think this is a political and media effort to destroy him," Mr. Westerman said.

Coal mining has long been the lifeblood of the economy here, and many of the families who lost loved ones in the blast have deep roots in the industry.

Gary Quarles, a retired miner whose son, Gary Wayne Quarles, 33, died in the blast, was a miner himself. He and his wife, Patty, who has a tattoo on her left ankle of her son wearing his black miner's hard hat, have been attending the proceedings.

The trial began last week; it is expected to run into November. By the end, Mr. Quarles said, the public will "see what kind of man Don really is."

Five years after losing their son, the couple would like to see Mr. Blankenship convicted. But seeing him in court — surrounded by lawyers, listening to himself referred to as "the defendant" — is a kind of satisfaction in itself.

"To me, his privileges are gone," Mrs. Quarles said. "As of right now, he can't go to the Riviera. He can't go to Vegas like he wanted to. He now is at someplace he's never been, and that's being controlled by other people. He's not used to that."



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8) Ohio: Special Prosecutor Sought in Tamir Rice Killing



9) Georgia: Verdicts in Jail Inmate's Death


Two former sheriff's deputies were acquitted of involuntary manslaughter but convicted of lesser charges in the stun gun-related death of a detainee at the Chatham County jail. A Superior Court jury on Friday found former Cpl. Jason Kenny guilty of cruelty to an inmate and ex-Cpl. Maxine Evans guilty of public records fraud and lying to a grand jury. They were charged in the January death of Mathew Ajibade, who was found dead in a cell hours after being arrested on a domestic violence charge. Prosecutors said Mr. Kenny shocked Mr. Ajibade four times with a Taser while his hands and legs were restrained. Mr. Evans was accused of failing to check Mr. Ajibade's condition while faking jail logs to make it appear checks had been made.



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12) Social Responsibility That Rubs Right Off

"Volkswagen is hardly the first automaker to be called out for exaggerated claims. Last year, Kia and Hyundai paid $300 million to settle with the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency after overstating the gas mileage for 1.2 million vehicles."















































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