bauaw2003 BAUAW NEWSLETTER, SUNDAY, MAY 14, 2017





On International Conscientious Objectors' Day, Celebrate the 11th Annual

11:30 A.M. Monday, May 15, 2017

  • Sponsored by City of Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission
  • Endorsed by War Resisters League-West and Courage to Resist

Peace Flag raising ceremony, first at Civic Center flagpole at 2180 Milvia Street, corner of Allston Way and then at the flagpole at MLK, Jr. Civic Center Park, 2151 MLK, Jr. Way (between Center Street and Allston Way, across from Old City Hall), Berkeley Read more


This evening...

Free showing of the drone documentary "National Bird"
Friday, April 28, 7:45px at the Proxy outdoor movie theater

432 Octavia Blvd., at Hayes Street, San Francisco

This weekend...
Dr. King's Speech on Viet Nam War of April 4, 1967 - Full Reading
Sunday, April 30, 2 pm at Yerba Buena Gardens

Mission Street, between 3rd and 4th Streets

Presented by Veterans for Peace, Chapter 69, San Francisco


On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Chelsea will come out of prison after seven years.

6 - 7 P.M. Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Harvey Milk Plaza (Castro & Market street). 6-7pm
San Francisco gathering and speak-out Co-sponsors: Courage to Resist, Code Pink, Gays Without Borders, Queer Strike, and the South African Human Rights Coalition. More info about this and other May 17 events.


484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559
www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



Labor Studies and Radical History

4444 Geary Blvd., Suite 207, San Francisco, CA 94118




(call 415.387.5700 to be sure the library is open for the hours you are interested in. We close the library sometimes to go on errands or have close early) suggested)

7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed on all major holidays and May Day 

We can arrange, by request, to keep the library open longer during the day or open it on weekends. Just ask.


  • Reference Librarian On-site
  • Email and Telephone Reference
  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Online Public Access Catalog 
  • Microfilm Reader/Printer
  • DVD and VCR players
  • Photocopier
  • Quiet well-lighted place for study and research 

For an appointment or further information, please email: david [at] holtlaborlibrary.org 



Courage to Resist

We saved her life! 

Chelsea Manning free May 17

You and I may be wrong about Donald Trump.  Under his leadership, the US may finally find the policies of war and empire counter-productive.  An era of peaceful coexistence with our sisters and brothers here on Mother Earth may follow shortly thereafter.  Could that happen?  Sure, it's "possible"—in the "I'm spending my paycheck buying lottery tickets, instead of buying food for my kids today" kind of way.

Ask yourself these two questions about where we're heading under the leadership of the The Donald, his Twitter account, and what he happens to watch on Fox News any particular morning:  Is there an increased chance of direct US involvement in conflicts around the world, either by design, incompetency, or even illiteracy?  And, if so, might a significant number of US military service members openly question killing and dying for these insane plans and/or blunders?

I believe the answers to both questions are, unequivocally, yes.  Courage to Resist is working hard to prepare to do our part to support such common sense, infused with heroism.  That's why, this month, we've launched a new podcast series, are debuting exclusive collaborative news and analysis articles, and have completely redesigned our website

We have a simple story to tell: Military war objectors are proof that courage and resistance is not futile, and that with support, we can win.

Within a few days, two heroic objectors, both of whom we have supported for much of the last decade, will walk out of prison and move on with their lives—Chelsea Manning, from Fort Leavenworth on May 17, and the following week, Iraq War refuser Ryan Johnson, from the Miramar Naval Brig near San Diego.  We're extremely proud of what we've accomplished on behalf of Ryan and Chelsea.  However, the near future brings the very real possibility of mass resistance, certainly, unlike anything we've seen since the final years of the US war in Vietnam.

You're $35 donation today will allow us to continue doing this work on your behalf. 

Please, support the resistance. 


Jeff for Courage to Resist

p.s. Yes, it's really happening. Chelsea will be walking out of Fort Leavenworth a week from now. This wouldn't be happening today, if not for the financial support of over 30,000 people who contributed to her Courage to Resist-hosted defense fund.





Thank you for being a part of this struggle.

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight we win!

Noelle Hanrahan, Director




To give by check: 

PO Box 411074

San Francisco, CA


Stock or legacy gifts:

Noelle Hanrahan

(415) 706 - 5222



Former Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera who recently received a commutation of his sentence  from President Obama will be coming to the Bay Area on Wednesday, May 31st.  This will be a memorable event, not to be missed!

Welcome Oscar Lopez Rivera 

  Oscar is Free and Coming to the Bay Area May 31st

           Oscar Lopez Rivera is coming to the Bay Area after 36 years in prison for his struggle in support for independence and sovereignty for Puerto Rican Independence. Help us support Oscar as he continues his work by making a financial commitment as he begins his new life.

            He will be visiting the Bay Area for a unique one time only public appearance on May 31st. For many of us, this is a welcome opportunity to celebrate his release and our shared victory. Let us show our support for Oscar in his new endeavors.

Please make a generous donation now: https://www.gofundme.com/welcomeoscar

Let us show Oscar that the SF Bay Area community supports him as he continues to advocate for sovereignty and independence for Puerto Rico. We look forward to seeing you in May.

Save the date: Wed. May 31, 2017  
                                 Recepcion 5pm
                                 Program 7pm - Place still to be determined 

For more information: freeoscarnow@gmail.com www.facebook.com/WelcomeOscartotheBayArea





MEDIA ADVISORYMedia contact: Morgan McLeod, (202) 628-0871




Washington, D.C.— Despite recent political support for criminal justice reform in most states, the number of people serving life sentences has nearly quintupled since 1984. 

A new report by The Sentencing Project finds a record number of people serving life with parole, life without parole, and virtual life sentences of 50 years or more, equaling one of every seven people behind bars. 

Eight states  Alabama, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, and Utah  have at least one of every five prisoners serving a life or de facto life sentence in prison. 

The Sentencing Project will host an online press conference to discuss its report Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences, on Wednesday, May 3rd at 11:00 a.m. EDT.   

Press Conference Details

WHAT: Online press conference hosted by The Sentencing Project regarding the release of its new report examining life and long-term sentences in the United States. REGISTER HERE to participate. The call-in information and conference link will be sent via email.  


Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. EDT 


  • Ashley Nellis, The Sentencing Project's senior research analyst and author of Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences

  • Evans Ray, whose life without parole sentence was commuted in 2016 by President Obama

  • Steve Zeidman, City University of New York law professor and counsel for Judith Clark—a New York prisoner who received a 75 year to life sentence in 1983

The full report will be available to press on Wednesday morning via email.

Founded in 1986, The Sentencing Project works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration.




Solidarity with the Jacksonville Five! Donate for bail and defense

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Committee to Stop FBI Repression (stopfbi.net)

Solidarity with the Jacksonville Five!
Donate for bail and defense!

Please donate to the Jacksonville Five bail and defense fund!

Call State Attorney Melissa Nelson at
904-255-2500 and say, "Drop the charges against the Jacksonville Five!"

April 13, 2017 - The Jacksonville Five are a group of anti-war protesters in Florida beaten and arrested by police at a "No War in Syria" rally held on Friday April 7, 2017. A right-wing provocateur appeared with a Trump flag, and then harassed and shoved anti-war activists, while police did nothing to him. Then the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office (JSO) physically attacked the anti-war protesters who did nothing wrong.

The police descended upon Connell Crooms, a deaf African American man, who had been leading chants. The police savagely beat, kicked and tased Crooms until he was unconscious and had to be taken to the hospital. Crooms is a well-known Teamster and a Black Lives Matter leader.

The police also punched Vietnam veteran Willie Wilder in the face and arrested the 74-year-old peace activist. Christina Kittle, the leader of the Jacksonville Coalition for Consent was thrown to the ground and arrested. Transgender activist Toma Beckwith was also tackled and arrested.

As protesters were leaving the park to do jail support, the police arrested union activist and anti-war speaker Dave Schneider, charging him with "felony inciting a riot" for organizing the anti-war protest. Police never arrested the right-wing provocateur. In fact, there are many photos on social media of him posing with JSO police, including Sheriff Mike Williams.

Jacksonville quickly rallied to the defense of the Jacksonville Five. The next day, April 8, over 200 people rallied to demand all charges be dropped. Leaders of the labor, African American, and progressive movements chanted, "Drop the charges!" The mother of Connell Crooms gave a tearful testament to her son's good character and denounced the police attack on her son, "JSO should not be allowed to get away with this type of behavior."

The rally demanded a full independent investigation into the police misconduct of April 7. Protesters are also demanding an independent investigation into a police spying program. Just weeks earlier the Florida Times Union newspaper reported the Sheriff's Office was spying on activists, including the Jacksonville Five, with photos of Dave Schneider, Connell Crooms and Christina Kittle appearing.

Jacksonville Sheriffs are lying and denying, claiming the protesters "incited a riot." Fortunately, dozens of people took video of the police brutality. The social media pages of the provocateur contain ties to white supremacist groups and to Sheriff Mike Williams who denies he knows him, despite their photo together at a Trump rally.

To add insult to injury, the total bail amount issued by the court for all five arrestees came out to over $157,000. They are outrageously charging the people who were beaten and arrested by the police with serious felony charges. We need to mobilize national support and raise enough money to cover this and pay for the defense.

There is a continuing campaign to drop the trumped-up charges and investigate the abuses by the JSO.

Please call the State Attorney for the Florida 4th Circuit, Melissa Nelson at 904-255-2500, and demand she drop the charges against the Jax5.

Please share this link to donate to the Jacksonville Five legal defense fund:


Copyright © 2017 Committee to Stop FBI Repression, All rights reserved.

Thanks for your ongoing interest in the fight against FBI repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists!

Our mailing address is:

Committee to Stop FBI Repression

PO Box 14183

MinneapolisMN  55414

Add us to your address book



Please call to support Siddique Abdullah Hasan on hunger strike!

Call Director Gary Mohr at 614-387-0588 or email him at drc.publicinfo@odrc.state.oh.us as well as Northeast Regional Director Todd Ishee, 330-797-6398. 

Demand that the punishments being imposed on Jason Robb and Siddique Abdullah Hasan be reversed and that OSP authorities be severely reprimanded for violating their rights to due process and displaying bias toward them. 

Details and backstory (share this with media contacts, please):

Contact for interviews:

Staughton and Alice Lynd: salynd@aol.com, 330-652-9635

Prison Strike Leader Moved to Infirmary after Twenty Four Days Refusing Food.

Siddique Abdullah Hasan, a national prisoner leader has been on hunger strike since Monday, February 27th. On Friday, March 24th he was moved to the infirmary, presumably due to failing health. His appeal to the Rules Infraction Board (RIB) was also denied by Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Director Gary Mohr.

The administration at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) has been targeting and restricting Hasan's communication access on any pretense they can find or invent since his outspoken support for the nation-wide prisoner strike on September 9th of 2016.

Hasan and another prisoner, Jason Robb began refusing food when the OSP administration put them on a 90 day communication restriction for being interviewed by the Netflix documentary series Captives. Hasan appealed the RIB's decision, arguing that they violated policies regarding timelines, access to witnesses, and prisoners' due process rights. Director Mohr's response to the appeal was a form letter that did not address any of the issues Hasan raised.

Hasan and Robb are on death row and have been held in solitary confinement since the 1993 prison uprising in Lucasville. They believe that the ODRC and the Ohio State prosecutors targeted them after the uprising because of their role in negotiating a peaceful surrender. State officials, in both the Captives documentary and a 2013 documentary called The Shadow of Lucasville, have admitted that some prisoners were given deals to testify against Hasan, Robb and others, and that no one really knows who committed the most serious crimes during the uprising. In court, they argued the opposite to secure death penalty convictions.

The Lucasville Uprising prisoners have been fighting to tell their story for decades, and are currently suing the ODRC over an unconstitutional media blockade, which the Captives documentary crew circumvented by unofficially recording video visits with Hasan and Robb. The current hunger strike is part of an ongoing struggle for equal protection, basic human rights and survival after decades of living under the most restrictive and torturous conditions of confinement at OSP, Ohio's supermax prison.

Supporters are asking people to please call Director Gary Mohr at 614-387-0588 or email him at drc.publicinfo@odrc.state.oh.us as well as Northeast Regional Director Todd Ishee, 330-797-6398. Demand that the punishments being imposed on Jason Robb and Siddique Abdullah Hasan be reversed and that OSP authorities be severely reprimanded for violating their rights to due process and displaying bias toward them.

For more information on the Lucasville Uprising, the struggles of these prisoners, and the media blockade against them, please visit LucasvilleAmnesty.org.

Hasan's Conduct Report and appeal: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bxez-nYn2VrpVTVESENUZENnaVU/view?usp=sharing

Gary Mohr's form letter response: https://drive.google.com/a/lucasvilleamnesty.org/file/d/0B9q-BEqATW6TeHVUUHM1ZVF5bnc/view?usp=sharing

Feb 28th announcement of hunger strike: http://www.lucasvilleamnesty.org/2017/02/uprising-prisoners-censored-respond.html

Info about the lawsuit against media blockade: http://www.lucasvilleamnesty.org/2014/04/aclu-articles-on-lucasville.html

Articles about Hasan's involvement with the September 9th prison strike: http://www.lucasvilleamnesty.org/search/label/strike%20september%209th






100,000 protest in San Francisco, CA

Pictures From Women's
Marches on Every Continent



Good News for Mumia Abu-Jamal

May 1, 2017: News sent today from Rachel Wolkenstein:

Judge Tucker granted discovery to Mumia Abu-Jamal pursuant to his claims brought under Williams v Pennsylvania that he was denied due process because his PA Supreme Court appeals from 1998-2008 were decided by Ronald Castille, who had previously been the District Attorney during Mumia's 1988 appeal from his conviction and death sentence, as well as having been a senior assistant district attorney during Mumia's trial.

The DA is given 30 days—until May 30, 2017—to produce all records and memos regarding Mumia's case, pre-trial, trial, post-trial and direct appeal proceedings between Castille and his staff and any public statement he made about it. Then Mumia has 15 days after receiving this discovery to file amendments to his PCRA petition.

This date of this order is April 28, but it was docketed today, May 1, 2017.

This is a critical and essential step forward!


Dear Friend,

For the first time- a court has ordered the Philadelphia DA to turn over evidence and open their files in Mumia's appeal.   In a complacency shattering blow, the District Attorney's office is finally being held to account.  Judge Leon Tucker of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court ordered the DA to produce all of the documents relevant to former PA Supreme Court Justice's role in the case. Castille was first a supervisory ADA during Mumia's trial, then District Attorney, and finally as a judge he sat on Mumia's appeals to the PA Supreme Court. 

This broad discovery order follows just days after the arguments in court by Christina Swarns, Esq. of the NAACP LDF, and Judith Ritter, Esq. of Widner Univ.

During that hearing, Swarns made it clear that the District Attorney's practice of lying to the appellate courts would not be tolerated and had been specifically exposed by the U.S. Supreme Court.  In the Terrence Williams case, which highlights Ronald Castile's conflict, the Supreme Court in no uncertain terms excoriated the office for failing to disclose crucial evidence.  Evidence the office hid for years.  This is an opportunity to begin to unravel the decades long police and prosecutorial corruption that has plagued Mumia's quest for justice.  

In prison for over thirty six years Mumia Abu-Jamal has maintained his innocence in the death of Philadelphia Police officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9th 1981.  

"The Commonwealth  must  produce  any  and  all  documents  or  records  in  the  possession  or  control  of  the Philadelphia  District  Attorney's  Office   showing   former   District   Attorney   Ronald   Castille's   personal   involvement   in the  above-captioned  case  ... and public statements during and after his tenure as District Attorney of Philadelphia."

It is important to note that the history of the District Attorney's office in delaying and appealing to prevent exposure of prosecutorial misconduct and the resulting justice.  At every turn, there will be attempts to limit Mumia's access to the courts and release.   it is past time for justice in this case.  

Noelle Hanrahan, P.I.

Prison Radio is a 501c3 project of the Redwood Justice Fund. We record and broadcast the voices of prisoners, centering their analyses and experiences in the movements against mass incarceration and state repression. If you support our work, please join us.

www.prisonradio.org   |   info@prisonradio.org   |   415-706-5222

Thank you for being a part of this work!



Dear Friend,

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) is now in Contempt of Court

On January 3, 2017, Federal District Court Judge Robert Mariani ordered the DOC to treat Mumia with the hepatitis C cure within 21 days.

But on January 7, prison officials formally denied Mumia's grievances asking for the cure. This is after being informed twice by the court that denying treatment is unconstitutional.

John Wetzel, Secretary of the PA DOC, is refusing to implement the January 3rd Federal Court Order requiring the DOC to treat Mumia within 21 days. Their time has run out to provide Mumia with hepatitis C cure!

Mumia is just one of over 6,000 incarcerated people in the PA DOC at risk with active and chronic Hepatitis C. Left untreated, 7-9% of people infected with chronic hep C get liver cancer every year.  

We need your help to force the DOC to stop its cruel and unusual punishment of over 6,000 people in prison with chronic hepatitis C. Click here for a listing of numbers to call today!

Water Crisis in the Prison

Drinking water remains severely contaminated at the prison in which Mumia and 2,500 others are held, SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, PA. Mumia filed a grievance regarding the undrinkable water: read it here.

We are asking you to call the prison now to demand clean drinking water and hepatitis C treatment now! 

Protest Drinking Water Contamination Rally
From 4-6pm on Thursday, Feb 9
Where: Governor's Office- 200 South Broad St, Philadelphia

We're sending our mailing to you, including this brilliant poster by incarcerated artist Kevin Rashid Johnson. Keep an eye out it next week!

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight, we win!

Noelle Hanrahan, Director

About the recently appealed Court victory:

On January 3rd, a federal court granted Mumia Abu-Jamal's petition for immediate and effective treatment for his Hepatitis-C infection, which has hitherto been denied him. The judge struck down Pennsylvania's protocols as "deliberate indifference to serious medical need."

This is a rare and important win for innocent political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal in a court system that has routinely subjected him to the "Mumia exception," i.e., a refusal of justice despite court precedents in his favor. Thousands of Hep-C-infected prisoners throughout Pennsylvania and the US stand to benefit from this decision, provided it is upheld. 

But, it is up to us to make sure that this decision is not over-turned on appeal--something the State of Pennsylvania will most likely seek.

Hundreds demonstrated in both Philadelphia and Oakland on December 9th to demand both this Hep-C treatment for prisoners, and "Free Mumia Now!" In Oakland, the December 9th Free Mumia Coalition rallied in downtown and then marched on the OPD headquarters. The Coalition brought over two dozen groups together to reignite the movement to free Mumia; and now we need your support to expand and build for more actions in this new, and likely very dangerous year for political prisoners. 


Protect Kevin "Rashid" Johnson from Prison Repression!


WHEN: Anytime
WHAT: Protect imprisoned activist-journalist Kevin "Rashid" Johnson
FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1794902884117144/

On December 21, 2016, Kevin "Rashid" Johnson was the victim of an
assault by guards at the Clements Unit where he is currently being held,
just outside Amarillo, Texas. Rashid was sprayed with OC pepper gas
while handcuffed in his cell, and then left in the contaminated cell for
hours with no possibility to shower and no access to fresh air. It was
in fact days before he was supplied with new sheets or clothes (his bed
was covered with the toxic OC residue), and to this day his cell has not
been properly decontaminated.

This assault came on the heels of another serious move against Rashid,
as guards followed up on threats to confiscate all of his property – not
only files required for legal matters, but also art supplies, cups to
drink water out of, and food he had recently purchased from the
commissary. The guards in question were working under the direction of
Captain Patricia Flowers, who had previously told Rashid that she
intended to seize all of his personal belongings as retaliation for his
writings about mistreatment of prisoners, up to and including assaults
and purposeful medical negligence that have led to numerous deaths in
custody. Specifically, Rashid's writings have called attention to the
deaths of Christopher Woolverton, Joseph Comeaux, and Alton Rodgers, and
he has been contacted by lawyers litigating on behalf of the families of
at least two of these men.

As a journalist and activist literally embedded within the bowels of the
world's largest prison system, Rashid relies on his files and notes for
correspondence, legal matters, and his various news reports.
Furthermore, Rashid is a self-taught artist of considerable talent (his
work has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and books);
needless to say, the guards were also instructed to seize his art
materials and the drawings he was working on.

(For a more complete description of Rashid's ordeal on and following
December 21, see his recent article "Bound and Gassed: My Reward for
Exposing Abuses and Killings of Texas Prisoners" at

Particularly worrisome, is the fact that the abuse currently directed
against Rashid is almost a carbon-copy of what was directed against
Joseph Comeaux in 2013, who was eventually even denied urgently needed
medical care. Comeaux died shortly thereafter.

This is the time to step up and take action to protect Rashid; and the
only protection we can provide, from the outside, is to make sure prison
authorities know that we are watching. Whether you have read his
articles about prison conditions, his political or philosophical
polemics (and whether you agreed with him or not!), or just appreciate
his artwork – even if this is the first you are hearing about Rashid –
we need you to step up and make a few phone calls and send some emails.
When doing so, let officials know you are contacting them about Kevin
Johnson, ID #1859887, and the incident in which he was gassed and his
property confiscated on December 21, 2016. The officials to contact are:

Warden Kevin Foley
Clements Unit
telephone: (806) 381-7080 (you will reach the general switchboard; ask
to speak to the warden's office)

Tell Warden Foley that you have heard of the gas attack on Rashid.
Specific demands you can make:

* That Kevin Johnson's property be returned to him

* That Kevin Johnson's cell be thoroughly decontaminated

* That Captain Patricia Flowers, Lieutenant Crystal Turner, Lieutenant
Arleen Waak, and Corrections Officer Andrew Leonard be sanctioned for
targeting Kevin Johnson for retaliation for his writings

* That measures be taken to ensure that whistleblowers amongst staff and
the prisoner population not be targeted for any reprisals from guards or
other authorities. (This is important because at least one guard and
several prisoners have signed statements asserting that Rashid was left
in his gassed cell for hours, and that his property should not have been

Try to be polite, while expressing how concerned you are for Kevin
Johnson's safety. You will almost certainly be told that because other
people have already called and there is an ongoing investigation – or
else, because you are not a member of his family -- that you cannot be
given any information. Say that you understand, but that you still wish
to have your concerns noted, and that you want the prison to know that
you will be keeping track of what happens to Mr Johnson.

The following other authorities should also be contacted. These bodies
may claim they are unable to directly intervene, however we know that by
creating a situation where they are receiving complaints, they will
eventually contact other authorities who can intervene to see what the
fuss is all about. So it's important to get on their cases too:

TDCJ Ombudsman: ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov

The Inspector General:  512-671-2480

Let these "watchdogs" know you are concerned that Kevin Johnson #1859887
was the victim of a gas attack in Clements Unit on December 21, 2016.
Numerous witnesses have signed statements confirming that he was
handcuffed, in his cell, and not threatening anyone at the time he was
gassed. Furthermore, he was not allowed to shower for hours, and his
cell was never properly decontaminated, so that he was still suffering
the effects of the gas days later. It is also essential to mention that
his property was improperly confiscated, and that he had previously been
threatened with having this happen as retaliation for his writing about
prison conditions. Kevin Johnson's property must be returned!

Finally, complaints should also be directed to the director of the VA
DOC Harold Clarke and the VA DOC's Interstate Compact Supervisor, Terry
Glenn. This is because Rashid is in fact a Virginia prisoner, who has
been exiled from Virginia under something called the Interstate Compact,
which is used by some states as a way to be rid of activist prisoners,
while at the same time separating them from their families and
supporters. Please contact:

VADOC Director, Harold Clarke

Interstate Compact director, Terry Glenn

Let them know that you are phoning about Kevin Johnson, a Virginia
prisoner who has been sent to Texas under the Interstate Compact. His
Texas ID # is 1859887 however his Virginia ID # is 1007485. Inform them
that Mr Johnson has been gassed by guards and has had his property
seized as retaliation for his writing about prison conditions. These are
serious legal and human rights violations, and even though they occurred
in Texas, the Virginia Department of Corrections is responsible as Mr
Johnson is a Virginia prisoner. Despite the fact that they may ask you
who you are, and how you know about this, and for your contact
information, they will likely simply conclude by saying that they will
not be getting back to you. Nonetheless, it is worth urging them to
contact Texas officials about this matter.

It is good to call whenever you are able. However, in order to maximize
our impact, for those who can, we are suggesting that people make their
phone calls on Thursday, January 5.

And at the same time, please take a moment to sign the online petition
to support Rashid, up at the Roots Action website:

Rashid has taken considerable risks in reporting on the abuse he
witnesses at the Clements Unit, just as he has at other prisons. Indeed,
he has continued to report on the violence and medical neglect to which
prisoners are subjected, despite threats from prison staff. If we, as a
movement, are serious about working to resist and eventually abolish the
U.S. prison system, we must do all we can to assist and protect those
like Rashid who take it upon themselves to stand up and speak out. As
Ojore Lutalo once put it, "Any movement that does not support their
political internees ... is a sham movement."


To learn more about Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, the abuses in the Texas
prison system, as well as his work in founding and leading the New
Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter, see his website




Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:


















Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson featuring exchanges with an Outlaw Kindle Edition

by Kevin Rashid Johnson (Author), Tom Big Warrior (Introduction), Russell Maroon Shoatz(Introduction)




Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!

Click HERE to view in browser



Today is the 406th day that Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan

languishes in prison doing felony time for a misdemeanor crime he did not

commit. Today is also the day that Robert McKay, a spokesperson for the

Free Rev. Pinkney campaign, gave testimony before United Nations

representatives about the plight of Rev. Pinkney at a hearing held in

Chicago. The hearing was called in order to shed light upon the

mistreatment of African-Americans in the United States and put it on an

international stage. And yet as the UN representatives and audience heard

of the injustices in the Pinkney case many gasped in disbelief and asked

with frowns on their faces, "how is this possible?" But disbelief quickly

disappeared when everyone realized these were the same feelings they had

when they first heard of Flint and we all know what happened in Flint. FREE


Please send letters to:

Marquette Branch Prison

Rev. Edward Pinkney N-E-93 #294671

1960 US Hwy 41 South

Marquette, MI 49855

Please donate at http://bhbanco.org (Donate button) or send checks to BANCO:

c/o Dorothy Pinkney

1940 Union St.

Benton Harbor, MI 49022

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.



State Seeks to Remove Innocent PA Lifer's Attorney! Free Corey Walker!

The PA Office of the Attorney General (OAG) filed legal action to remove Corey Walker's attorney, Rachel Wolkenstein, in November 2014. On Tuesday, February 9, 2016 the evidentiary hearing to terminate Wolkenstein as Corey Walker's pro hac vice lawyer continues before Judge Lawrence Clark of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas in Harrisburg, PA.

Walker, assisted by Wolkenstein, filed three sets of legal papers over five months in 2014 with new evidence of Walker's innocence and that the prosecution and police deliberately used false evidence to convict him of murder. Two weeks after Wolkenstein was granted pro hac vice status, the OAG moved against her and Walker.

The OAG claims that Wolkenstein's political views and prior legal representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal and courtroom arrest by the notorious Judge Albert Sabo makes it "intolerable" for her to represent Corey Walker in the courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Over the past fifteen months the OAG has effectively stopped any judicial action on the legal challenges of Corey Walker and his former co-defendant, Lorenzo Johnson against their convictions and sentences to life imprisonment without parole while it proceeds in its attempts to remove Wolkenstein.

This is retaliation against Corey Walker who is innocent and framed. Walker and his attorney won't stop until they thoroughly expose the police corruption and deliberate presentation of false evidence to convict Corey Walker and win his freedom.

This outrageous attack on Corey Walker's fundamental right to his lawyer of choice and challenge his conviction must cease. The evidence of his innocence and deliberate prosecutorial frame up was suppressed for almost twenty years. Corey Walker must be freed!

Read: Jim Crow Justice – The Frame-up Of Corey Walker by Charles Brover

Go to FreeCoreyWalker.org to provide help and get more information.



Major Battles On

For over 31 years, Major Tillery has been a prisoner of the State.

Despite that extraordinary fact, he continues his battles, both in the prison for his health, and in the courts for his freedom.

Several weeks ago, Tillery filed a direct challenge to his criminal conviction, by arguing that a so-called "secret witness" was, in fact, a paid police informant who was given a get-out-of-jail-free card if he testified against Tillery.

Remember I mentioned, "paid?"

Well, yes--the witness was 'paid'--but not in dollars. He was paid in sex!

In the spring of 1984, Robert Mickens was facing decades in prison on rape and robbery charges. After he testified against Tillery, however, his 25-year sentence became 5 years: probation!

And before he testified he was given an hour and a ½ private visit with his girlfriend--at the Homicide Squad room at the Police Roundhouse. (Another such witness was given another sweetheart deal--lie on Major, and get off!)

To a prisoner, some things are more important than money. Like sex!

In a verified document written in April, 2016, Mickens declares that he lied at trial, after being coached by the DAs and detectives on the case.

He lied to get out of jail--and because he could get with his girl.

Other men have done more for less.

Major's 58-page Petition is a time machine back into a practice that was once common in Philadelphia.

In the 1980s and '90s, the Police Roundhouse had become a whorehouse.

Major, now facing serious health challenges from his hepatitis C infection, stubborn skin rashes, and dangerous intestinal disorders, is still battling.

And the fight ain't over.

[©'16 MAJ  6/29/16]

Major Tillery Needs Your Help and Support

Major Tillery is an innocent man. There was no evidence against Major Tillery for the 1976 poolroom shootings that left one man dead and another wounded. The surviving victim gave a statement to homicide detectives naming others—not Tillery or his co-defendant—as the shooters. Major wasn't charged until 1980, he was tried in 1985.

The only evidence at trial came from these jailhouse informants who were given sexual favors and plea deals for dozens of pending felonies for lying against Major Tillery. Both witnesses now declare their testimony was manufactured by the police and prosecution. Neither witness had personal knowledge of the shooting.

This is a case of prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption that goes to the deepest levels of rot in the Philadelphia criminal injustice system. Major Tillery deserves not just a new trial, but dismissal of the charges against him and his freedom from prison.

It cost a lot of money for Major Tillery to be able to file his new pro se PCRA petition and continue investigation to get more evidence of the state misconduct. He needs help to get lawyers to make sure this case is not ignored. Please contribute, now.


    Financial Support: Tillery's investigation is ongoing, to get this case filed has been costly and he needs funds for a legal team to fight this to his freedom!

    Go to JPay.com;

    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney

    Seth Williams:

    Free Major Tillery! He is an innocent man, framed by police and and prosecution.

    Call: 215-686-8711 or

    Write to:

    Major Tillery AM9786

    SCI Frackville

    1111 Altamont Blvd.

    Frackville, PA 17931

      For More Information, Go To: Justice4MajorTillery/blogspot


      Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq. (917) 689-4009RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com



      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

        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




        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



        Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson

        Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

        Dear Supporters and Friends,

        Show your support for Lorenzo by wearing one of our beautiful new campaign t-shirts! If you donate $20 (or more!) to the Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson, we will send you a t-shirt, while supplies last. Make sure to note your size and shipping address in the comment section on PayPal, or to include this information with a check.

        Here is a message from Lorenzo's wife, Tazza Salvatto:

        My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!

        Lorenzo Johnson is a son, husband, father and brother. His injustice has been a continued nightmare for our family. Words cant explain our constant pain, I wish it on no one. Not even the people responsible for his injustice. 

        This is about an innocent man who has spent 20 years and counting in prison. The sad thing is Lorenzo's prosecution knew he was innocent from day one. These are the same people society relies on to protect us.

        Not only have these prosecutors withheld evidence of my husbands innocence by NEVER turning over crucial evidence to his defense prior to trial. Now that Lorenzo's innocence has been revealed, the prosecution refuses to do the right thing. Instead they are "slow walking" his appeal and continuing their malicious prosecution.

        When my husband or our family speak out about his injustice, he's labeled by his prosecutor as defaming a career cop and prosecutor. If they are responsible for Lorenzo's wrongful conviction, why keep it a secret??? This type of corruption and bullying of families of innocent prisoners to remain silent will not be tolerated.

        Our family is not looking for any form of leniency. Lorenzo is innocent, we want what is owed to him. JUSTICE AND HIS IMMEDIATE FREEDOM!!! 

                                  Lorenzo's wife,

                                   Tazza Salvatto

        Lorenzo is continuing to fight for his freedom with the support of his lead counsel, Michael Wiseman, The Pennsylvania Innocence Project, the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, and the Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson.

        Thank you all for reading this message and please take the time to visit our 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


                      Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

        Have a wonderful day!

        - The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

        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












        1)  Police Officer Who Fatally Shot 15-Year-Old Texas Boy Is Charged With Murder

        MAY 5, 2017




        BALCH SPRINGS, Tex. — A police officer in a Dallas suburb was charged with murder on Friday, six days after he fired his rifle into a car full of teenagers leaving a party, killing a black 15-year-old in the front passenger seat.

        The Dallas County Sheriff's Department issued a warrant on Friday for the arrest of the officer, Roy D. Oliver II, 37, the authorities said. Mr. Oliver turned himself in Friday night in Parker County, Tex., officials said.

        Mr. Oliver, who was a patrol officer with the Balch Springs Police Department, responded late last Saturday to reports of underage drinking at a house party. Mr. Oliver and another officer entered the house but left after the police said they heard gunshots outside the residence.

        As a car with five black teenagers inside drove away from the house, Mr. Oliver, who is white, fired his AR-15 rifle, fatally striking Jordan Edwards, a freshman at Mesquite High School, in the head, according to the police and the law firm representing the Edwards family.

        The Balch Springs police chief fired Mr. Oliver on Tuesday, saying he had violated departmental policies. In the Police Department's first account of the fatal shooting, Chief Jonathan Haber had said that the car was reversing aggressively toward the officers when Mr. Oliver opened fire. But after Chief Haber reviewed the two officers' body cameras, he corrected that description: The car had reversed but was accelerating forward and away from the officers when Jordan was struck.

        The Edwards family released a statement on Friday evening calling the arrest warrant "a bit of a reprieve in a time of intense mourning."

        "Although we realize that there remain significant obstacles ahead on the road to justice, this action brings hope that the justice system will bend against the overwhelming weight of our frustration," the family said.

        The warrant was issued the day before Jordan's funeral. Friends and relatives are planning to gather Saturday at Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church in nearby Mesquite, Tex. The funeral is closed to the public.

        Cedric W. Davis Sr., a former mayor of Balch Springs, said the news of the murder charge would help ease tensions in the city, a working-class suburb of 25,000 east of Dallas.

        "I think the benefit here is that it moved fast," said Mr. Davis, who became Balch Springs's first black mayor when he was elected in 2008. "The charge came quickly. In those previous cases, it took months and months," he said, referring to other high-profile shootings of young black men by police officers across the country.

        The Edwards family urged people on Friday not to protest at Jordan's funeral. "Though we understand what his life and death mean symbolically, we are not ready to make a martyr of our son," the family said.

        Linda Oliver, Mr. Oliver's mother, said Friday night, "We are under a hard no comment." She said that her son is being represented by James Lane, a Fort Worth lawyer, who did not return a call or an email.

        The charges against Mr. Oliver came during another week of national debate about race and police brutality and amid uncertainty over how police violence will be addressed by the Trump administration. The Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions has indicated it will move away from the aggressive efforts of the Obama administration to oversee law enforcement agencies.

        Events of the past week revealed little about the department's new direction. Federal prosectors received a guilty plea by a white police officer who fatally shot a black man in South Carolina, but the department declined to press charges against two officers involved in the fatal shooting of a black Louisiana man.

        Still, the charges brought Friday by Dallas County were seen by black leaders in the region as a positive step.

        Mr. Oliver became a police officer after serving as an infantryman in the Army, eventually rising to sergeant. He was deployed twice to Iraq, from October 2004 to September 2005 and again in 2009 from January to November. In an interview this week, Ms. Oliver recalled that a suicide attacker set off an explosion at a military mess tent in December 2004, killing 22 people, while Mr. Oliver happened to be away from the base.

        Before he was hired by the Balch Springs Police Department, Mr. Oliver worked as a police officer for about a year starting in 2010 in Dalworthington Gardens, a small town outside Fort Worth. He received no disciplinary actions or complaints during his time as an officer there, according to the city's Department of Public Safety. He submitted his voluntary resignation in May 2011 and began officially working for Balch Springs two months later.

        Mr. Oliver was reprimanded by the Balch Springs Police Department in 2013 for aggressive and unprofessional behavior while working with Dallas County prosecutors on a drunken-driving case. A prosecutor described the interactions with Mr. Oliver as "scary," and others said Mr. Oliver was uncooperative and cursed at an assistant district attorney. Balch Springs suspended him for 16 hours and ordered him to attend anger management training.

        A lawyer for the Edwards family, S. Lee Merritt, reflected this week on Mr. Oliver's past.

        "I think we see two things out of military-trained policemen," he said. "Sometimes, you get some of the best policemen out there. They're calm, they've learned to operate in the battlefield. They've been extensively trained, a lot more than your average officer. And at other times you have officers who are dealing with the effects of being in a war zone, the post-traumatic effects."

        "As I learn more about this officer," Mr. Merritt continued, "he seems to be one who had some problems. It should have been dealt with and it should have been identified a long time ago."



        2)  Tell Us 5 Things About Your Book: China Miéville on the Russian Revolution

        MAY 7, 2017


        China Miéville is one of those fiction writers whose multivalent imagination — with its monsters, cityscapes of the future, and battles between good and evil — is capable of making readers' heads explode. In The New York Times, Sarah Lyall once wrote that his novels "skitter among genres, magpie-ing elements from science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, traditional fairy tales, steampunk, horror." So perhaps the weirdest thing Miéville could do at this point is write about the real world, which is what he does in "October," his new nonfiction book about the Russian Revolution in 1917. Below, he tells us about his interest in the subject, why he chose to write about it a century after the events he describes, and more.

        When did you first get the idea to write this book? 

        It was in discussion with a friend who is also the editor of the book, Sebastian Budgen. Although there's a huge literature on the Russian Revolution, it's actually quite difficult to find a nonintimidating text for the interested lay reader. Sebastian was talking about the potential for writing it in a novelistic way. Basically the idea was to tell the revolution as a story, because it was an extraordinary one, without blurring the politics, or pretending the politics aren't there, or dumbing them down.

        Sebastian knew that I've been active on the left for a long time. Socialist politics and culture is something that's been important to me. So he knew I had a political relationship with the revolution as well. It's not just an astonishing story on an abstract level; it's a very relevant story as well.

        There are certain rules I followed. There's no event, no person, no reported speech that isn't in the literature somewhere. There's no invention like that. It's a book with a relatively new reader in mind, but I want the specialists to realize I've taken the subject very seriously.

        What's the most surprising thing you learned while writing it?

        The extent to which you couldn't make this up. I did this enormous amount of research, and I kept thinking how genuinely strange, as well as everything else, the story was. There are points of low farce where it's a little on the nose. The one I always return to is the Kornilov affair, the proto-fascist military revolt menacing St. Petersburg in August, and there's this one extraordinary exchange between Lavr Kornilov and Alexander Kerensky. They're talking at cross-purposes. They're misunderstanding each other in a way where if you wrote it as a novel or play, the editor would send it back saying, "You can't stretch the credibility this much." There are points in the narrative where you just gape — the one telephone line in the Winter Palace that was still alive, the provisional government kind of huddling under the table to use it.

        In what way is the book you wrote different from the book you set out to write? 

        I was disappointed that I didn't have more on the art and fiction of the period — I wanted to make it substantial but not off-putting — and about one or two very extraordinary individuals. The first draft was much, much longer, as they tend to be. In winnowing it down to a narrative with its own propulsion, some of that had to go. I had to restrict myself to a few references and a few phrases here and there. That was one of the things I was agonized about.

        Conversely, it might sound odd, because I was expecting it to be moving, but the process was more moving. I found myself moved by researching and then writing in a way that was different and felt even more urgent and kind of blooded than I expected it to. And I hope that comes across. Not that I expected it to be a bone-dry book, but I felt like the sense of urgency was even greater than I expected it to be.

        Who is a creative person (not a writer) who has influenced you and your work? 

        It could be many people, but someone who's been looming very large to me for years now is the painter Toyen, who was extraordinarily transgressive about gender and refused to be pinned down in a certain structure of patriarchy. Toyen was instrumental in setting up the Czech surrealist group in 1934; shielded a partner during the Nazi occupation; and remained active at 70.

        I always loved the Surrealists. Discovering them in my early teens was a very momentous experience for me. I have a particular love for drawing as opposed to painting, though I like painting, too. I find myself endlessly compelled by Toyen's brutal dreamscapes in pen and ink.

        Persuade someone to read "October" in less than 50 words. 

        The narrative of the Russian Revolution is as urgent and strange as that of any novel, and October is the key political event of the 20th century. We need its memory in these bleak, sadistic times. This is an attempt to tell the astonishing, inspiring story.

        This interview has been condensed and edited.



        3)  Rikers Tumult Rises: Prison Official Accused of Spying on Investigator

        MAY 8, 2017



        New York City's Department of Investigation has picked apart practically every facet of the troubled Rikers Island jail complex in recent years, including abuses committed by guards and inmates and the misuse of official cars by the commissioner and his staff.

        Now it is taking aim at the very person who is supposed to prevent wrongdoing at the jail from within — the head of the Correction Department's Investigation Division.

        The Department of Investigation believes the jail official, Gregory Kuczinski, has orchestrated a spying campaign against it and has called for his removal. On Monday morning, Mr. Kuczinsky was removed from his position and placed on modified duty.

        In a long letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Department of Investigation said Mr. Kuczinski and his subordinates violated city rules and regulations by repeatedly listening in on telephone calls between an investigator with the agency and inmates who were serving as informants, several people with knowledge of the letter said.

        In an interview late on Sunday, the Correction Department commissioner, Joseph Ponte, insisted that "there was no improper eavesdropping." As soon as Correction Department investigators determined that they had been listening in on a conversation involving a Department of Investigation staff member, he said, they stopped the surveillance.

        "Clearly there was no intent to interfere with D.O.I. and anything they were doing," he said.

        Mr. Kuczinski, in a separate phone interview on Sunday, denied wrongdoing and called the reaction of officials at the investigation agency "ridiculous," saying: "Are they trying to cover something up? I don't know."

        The letter from the head of the department, Mark G. Peters, was sent to Mayor de Blasio on Wednesday, according to the people. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the contents of the letter were confidential.

        The letter said that Mr. Ponte had learned of the surveillance in February, after another official had shut it down, the people said. But Mr. Ponte did not report the surveillance to the investigation agency, nor did he take any action against Mr. Kuczinski, whom he had promoted into his current job.

        The accusation came just a week after the Department of Investigation issued a report sharply rebuking Mr. Ponte, Mr. Kuczinski and two other top correction officials for misusing their city cars. It was the latest in a series of embarrassing revelations of deep systemic problems in the city jails uncovered by the agency.

        Paired with the rebuke over the cars, the accusations in the letter underscore how Rikers continues to be plagued with problems, including brutality on the cell blocks, corruption in the correction officer ranks and a disturbing level of mismanagement from the commissioner's suite on down.

        But the accusations against the city jails' chief investigator, by another department's investigators, represent a low point for the jails system. They suggest that the very person responsible for ferreting out wrongdoing at Rikers may have been focused instead on protecting the jail, and those who work there, from further scrutiny.

        The mayor, in a statement issued by his press secretary, Eric F. Phillips, acknowledged the gravity of the accusations and suggested that they would lead to change.

        "These are serious and troubling allegations," the statement said. "We will work with the Department of Correction and the Department of Investigation to determine what happened and what changes must occur to ensure that it doesn't happen again."

        Two city officials said the mayor was expected to order that Mr. Kuczinski be removed from his post as early as Monday and that he be placed on modified duty.

        Mr. Kuczinski, in the interview on Sunday, defended his actions and disputed some aspects of the Department of Investigation's account. He said he learned of the recordings only in early February, soon after he took over the unit that monitors phone calls, when Mr. Ponte asked him to investigate the suspicions of a senior Correction Department official. That official, Mr. Kuczinski said, believed that four of the calls suggested that someone from the investigations agency was trying to frame Correction Department officials.

        Mr. Kuczinski said he never listened to the recorded calls himself. Instead, he said, he assigned two members of his staff to investigate, but because of the demands of his new role, it took him two weeks to do so. It took the staff members several weeks to review the recordings and conclude that the calls did not indicate an attempt to frame anyone, he said. He said he did not initially notify the Department of Investigation about the matter in February because he believed it would have posed a conflict for the agency.

        Mr. Ponte defended Mr. Kuczinski, affirming Mr. Kuczinski's assertion that he was not initially involved with the call monitoring unit that had picked up the conversation between the Department of Investigation employee and an inmate informant. Mr. Ponte acknowledged that better communication with the Department of Investigation could have prevented the monitoring of the investigator's calls, but he placed some of the blame on the investigation agency.

        "There are ways that D.O.I. could have told us that, these numbers, don't listen to them," he said.

        The hiring of Mr. Kuczinski at the Correction Department remains something of a mystery.

        As the deputy commissioner in charge of the agency's Investigation Division, he is responsible for uncovering administrative misconduct in the ranks of the department's 10,000 officers and investigating crimes committed by inmates.

        But when he joined the jail agency in March 2015 as the division's No. 2 official, Mr. Kuczinski, a retired New York Police Department sergeant and a lawyer, had little investigative and no internal affairs experience from his police tenure. Nonetheless, Mr. Ponte promoted him to the division's top position about a year later, just days after he was rebuked and fined $1,500 for assigning an on-duty subordinate to drive him and his family to the airport for a summer vacation.

        Officials at City Hall, the Department of Investigation and the Correction Department could not explain how Mr. Ponte came to hire and then promote Mr. Kuczinski despite his limited relevant experience. Mr. Kuczinski said he was hired after responding to a newspaper advertisement.

        The investigation agency did not conclude that the spying was undertaken because of the report on vehicle misuse, the people with knowledge of the letter said. But the letter "did note concerns of the timing of certain actions regarding monitoring of D.O.I. investigator phone calls, especially at the direction of Kuczinski, that immediately followed D.O.C. being notified about the vehicle investigation," one of the people said.

        Mr. Kuczinski's investigators at the Department of Correction are permitted to listen to inmate calls, but not when they know they are with lawyers, clergy, doctors or investigators with the Department of Investigation. If Mr. Kuczinski believed he had uncovered a corrupt investigator, the person said, he should have notified the agency or some other city or law enforcement official. There is no indication, the person said, that he did so.

        In recent years, the Department of Investigation has prioritized inquiries into corruption and brutality at Rikers Island. Its investigations have identified officers who have smuggled drugs and weapons into the jails and determined that the Correction Department had hired gang members and people with criminal backgrounds as officers. Since 2014, 38 jail staff members have been arrested as a result of Department of Investigation inquiries.

        The Department of Investigation report on the misuse of city vehicles by Mr. Ponte, Mr. Kuczinski and other senior officials said they had been referred to the city's ethics watchdog, the Conflicts of Interest Board, for possible discipline.

        Mayor de Blasio is facing increasing criticism for his vocal support of Mr. Ponte — and by implication, other correction officials. The mayor has said he accepts Mr. Ponte's defense that he inadvertently violated city rules by repeatedly driving his government vehicle to Maine, where he spent a total of 90 days last year, because he had been advised by unnamed staff members that he was allowed to do so.

        The mayor's support of the commissioner and other correction officials has prompted comparisons by department critics with the fate of low-level city employees who in recent years have been docked as much as 10 vacation days for using a city car for personal reasons for one day.

        Mr. Ponte has made a number of questionable appointments and promotions since becoming commissioner in April 2014. Months into his tenure, Mr. Ponte promoted William Clemons to chief of department, the top uniformed position, despite an objection from the Department of Investigation. Several years earlier, an internal Correction Department audit had recommended Mr. Clemons be fired for presenting distorted data that made it appear as if violence was decreasing when in fact it was going up. Mr. Ponte's predecessor ignored the recommendation and also promoted Mr. Clemons.

        Mr. Clemons was forced to resign after a New York Times investigation into the distorted data.

        The Correction Department's Investigation Division has been in disarray for a long time. In August 2014, Preet Bharara, then the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, published a report documenting astounding brutality at city jails and singled out the division for aiding what was described as a "deep-seated culture of violence" by failing to properly discipline guards.

        Shortly after, Mr. Ponte appointed Michael Blake, a former senior official with the Police Department, to lead the division. Mr. Blake was another unusual appointment. Previous division heads had spent many years as prosecutors. Mr. Blake had never been a prosecutor, and his only experience investigating officer misconduct came during a stint that lasted less than two years in the Patrol Services Bureau two decades ago.

        Mr. Blake lasted a little more than a year in the position. He left in December 2015, replaced by Mr. Kuczinski, who served as acting head of the division until April 2016.

        Although the unit has expanded in recent years and closes cases more rapidly than in the past, under Mr. Kuczinski it has still suffered from many of the same deficiencies outlined in Mr. Bharara's report three years ago.

        In a report last month, a federal monitoring team responsible for overseeing the reform effort at Rikers harshly criticized the division, accusing it of failing "to pursue disciplinary action in cases where there was objective evidence of wrongdoing."



        4)  Puerto Rico's Debt Crisis Claims Another Casualty: Its Schools

        MAY 10, 2017




        AGUAS BUENAS, P.R. — Natalia Hernández stood before dawn with a bullhorn in her hand in front of the mountainside elementary school that four generations of her family attended, rattling off its academic accomplishments.

        More than half the pupils are on the honor roll. There are tutors, a social worker and even a speech therapist, she said. But there has been an exodus of families from Puerto Rico in the face of its economic collapse, so little Luis Santaella School has a big problem: Only 146 children are enrolled compared with about 250 in the past.

        And so, like 178 other schools across the island, it is set to close after the last day of the school term this week, in part to help Puerto Rico battle a $123 billion debt. The school, perched alongside a winding two-lane road 1,400 feet above sea level, will join the many casualties of a fiscal crisis that forced Puerto Rico to declare a form of bankruptcy last week and sent hundreds of thousands of people packing in the past decade.

        The school will join the shuttered businesses and abandoned homes as yet another indicator of the emergency gripping Puerto Rico and the desperate efforts to stop the hemorrhaging. For some, the closings represent not just another chip at Puerto Rico's national budget, but also an opportunity to transform a struggling education system in which some schools are infested with termites, enrollment has dropped by nearly a third since 2010, and just 10 percent of eighth graders passed the standardized math test.

        But for parents like Ms. Hernández, the cuts feel both catastrophic and capricious.

        "She closed this school without visiting it!" Ms. Hernández said, explaining the parents' decision to park themselves at the school's front gates to prevent teachers, students or the principal from going inside. Her son, Javian, 10, missed class all week.

        By "she," Ms. Hernández was referring to Julia Keleher, the Washington-based consultant who was recently named secretary of education in Puerto Rico. Ms. Keleher took control of the school system in January, a few months after Puerto Rico's affairs were taken over by a governing board in New York.

        The oversight board has warned that the government must save up to $40 million a month, suggesting that about 300 schools close and that teachers be furloughed two days a month.

        As a former federal education official with experience in Detroit and Washington, Ms. Keleher said, the concept of receivership is not foreign to her.

        "We have to close schools," Ms. Keleher said in an interview on Monday. "We are going to close schools."

        The plan Ms. Keleher announced is less draconian than the one the fiscal board had suggested. She insists that the consolidation — which many principals learned of as she announced it on television — is not just about saving money, but improving student performance and empowering local officials to be accountable for what happens at their schools.

        She has covered her office's long conference room table with spread sheets. She whipped out a tablet with pie charts and bus routes as she laid out the possibilities she said would be opened when waste is eliminated. (She wrote her doctoral dissertation on data-driven decision-making.)

        She said schools built for 800 students have just 300 enrolled. The district was still paying for water and power for abandoned school buildings. There are teacher shortages in some schools and surpluses in others. School facilities are rotting and infested with rats.

        If two $1 million schools merge, she said, the new $2 million school can afford computer labs that twice as many students could use.

        "It has been a nearly impossible conversation," she said. "This is not about closing schools. This is about creating these kinds of opportunities with this savings in budget."

        Aida Díaz, the president of a teachers' union, says that while everyone recognizes some schools are in deplorable condition and others are underutilized, Ms. Keleher's data-driven approach fails to consider nuances.

        Looking at the list of closings, she noted that two schools whose communities were longtime rivals were being merged. Another school populated mostly by children who live in public housing was being merged with a school 10 minutes away by highway — but it is unlikely that their parents have cars.

        Ms. Keleher said some schools did remain open for reasons just like those, including avoiding long commutes for children in rural areas. The list of closings dropped by five just since Friday.

        "There is no sense in getting mad: Schools will have to close," Ms. Díaz said. "There are schools that really are so obsolete, with good ones next to it with empty classrooms."

        Emilio Nieves Torres, who heads a different teachers' union, said government officials are misleading the public about the cuts. Although Ms. Keleher has vowed "not to fire anybody," at least 5,000 teachers work on year-to-year contracts, and in order for the consolidation to result in real savings, thousands of contracts will not be renewed, he said.

        Responding to the board's demands, the government presented a fiscal plan that would freeze teacher salaries until 2021 — meaning that teachers, who earn about $21,000 a year and whose salaries have been frozen since 2008, would not get raises for 13 years, he said.

        "Our biggest preoccupation is that all of this will be in the hands of a judge, named by the Supreme Court of the United States, and we don't know if she's going to take into account basic essentials of safety, health and education," Mr. Nieves said. "Right now, that board has proposed cutting school two days a month. That's a month of classes. That impacts education."

        On Friday, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. tapped Judge Laura Taylor Swain, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, to preside over Puerto Rico's filing for a form of bankruptcy relief from its many creditors.

        For now, the savings is just $7 million in water and power bills. But Ms. Keleher acknowledged that many teacher contracts will not be renewed, and more cost savings will come when others quit in frustration.

        "You'll see a natural attrition with the kinds of changes we're going to make," she said. "I think people who are close to retirement will look at changes and say: 'Do I want to do this? I'm not in my school anymore.' Maybe they will choose to do something else."

        Ms. Keleher has a six-month contract for what she estimates to be an eight-year task.

        "Everybody wanted something to change about public education in Puerto Rico," she said, "up until we knocked on their door."



        5)  $1.2 Million City Settlement With Rikers Inmates Who Accused Guard of Rape

        MAY 9, 2017




        New York City has agreed to pay about $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by two women who claimed they had been repeatedly raped and sexually abused by the same correction officer at Rikers Island, a Law Department spokesman said.

        The lawsuit claimed that there was a "pervasive culture of rape and other sexual abuse" at the Rose M. Singer Center, the women's jail, and it accused the city of giving correction officers a "perceived free hand to retaliate" against women who reported them.

        The women also settled legal claims separately against the officer, Benny Santiago, for an undisclosed sum, according to the women's lawyers. The city did not represent Mr. Santiago, who had his own lawyers.

        The settlements come as violence at Rikers remains a topic of intense public scrutiny: The State Commission of Correction recently ordered a halt to all inmate transfers to Rikers from county jails outside the city, on the ground that the jail complex had become too dangerous. And last month, a federal monitor overseeing changes at the complex reportedthat guards were continuing to use brutal force against prisoners at an "alarming rate."

        The lawsuit filed by the women was to go to trial this week before Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of Federal District Court in Manhattan. In a recent brief, the plaintiffs accused Mr. Santiago of being "a serial sexual predator," who they said had been the subject of allegations made by, or on behalf of, female inmates for many years.

        The plaintiffs were identified only as Jane Doe 1, who is now in a state prison, and Jane Doe 2, who resides in Queens, the brief says.

        According to the brief, Mr. Santiago raped and sexually abused Jane Doe 1 for more than four years, starting in 2008. In a declaration, Jane Doe 1 said she did not "complain about Santiago's abuse because he let me know that he could hurt my family."

        Jane Doe 2 was repeatedly raped and sexually abused by Mr. Santiago in 2013, the brief says. She said that she did not report him because he threatened to "write me an infraction and send me to solitary confinement."

        The brief says she eventually told a mental health clinician and a doctor about Mr. Santiago's abuse, but they said there was nothing they could do. The brief is highly critical of an eventual investigation by the city, which it says led to Mr. Santiago receiving no disciplinary action.

        The plaintiffs' law firms — the Legal Aid Society and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton — said in a statement on Monday, "We hope this settlement delivers some justice and underscores the bona fide culture of sexual harassment, abuse and impunity" among guards at the Rose M. Singer Center.

        A Law Department spokesman, Nicholas Paolucci, said, "The city is committed to protecting all the individuals entrusted to its care from sexual abuse, and has implemented numerous reforms in this regard." Settling the case, he said, "was in the best interest of the city."

        Mr. Santiago remains employed as a correction officer but does not have contact with inmates, a correction spokeswoman said.

        Lawyers for Mr. Santiago did not respond to a request for comment.

        In the settlement, the two women are to receive a total of $325,000, with the remaining $850,000 earmarked for legal fees and expenses, the Law Department said.

        A Cleary lawyer, Mitchell A. Lowenthal, said that after expenses had been covered, they would donate the balance to their clients.



        6)  Third Mysterious Death of a Black Ferguson Activist 

        Edward Crawford is the third mysterious death of a young Black activist man in Ferguson over the past three years. Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report argues that this cannot be a coincidence

        May 9, 2017


        Glen Ford is a distinguished radio-show host and commentator. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced and hosted America's Black Forum, the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television. In 1987, Ford launched Rap It Up, the first nationally syndicated Hip Hop music show, broadcast on 65 radio stations. Ford co-founded the Black Commentator in 2002 and in 2006 he launched the Black Agenda Report. Ford is also the author of The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion.

        Kim Brown: Welcome to the Real News Network in Baltimore, I'm Kim Brown. Another activist connected to the uprising in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting death of teenager Mike Brown by police, has been found dead. Take a look at this photo. This was taken the night of August 11th, 2014 and it shows a man named Edward Crawford Jr wearing an American flag tank top, picking up a burning canister of tear gas fired by police and throwing it. 

        He later told reporters that he threw it away from children who was standing nearby. According to the St. Louis Police, 27 year old Crawford was found dead last Thursday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while riding in the back seat of a car. His father told the St. Louis Post dispatch that he thought that his son accidentally shot himself. He did not think that he was suicidal. Edward Crawford Jr leaves behind four children.

        This makes the third such mysterious death in as many years of an activist connected to the Ferguson protest and uprisings. In September of 2016, activist Darren Seals was found shot inside of a burning vehicle. Police have ruled that a homicide which still remains open with no arrests. Another man, 20 year old Deandre Joshua was also found in Ferguson, shot, also inside of a burnt out car in November of 2014, which happened to be on the same night that grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson, the admitted killer of Mike Brown.

        This begs the question, because many in the St. Louis area and throughout the country are really doubtful that these deaths are coincidental. In fact, the long history of the struggle, of the fight for civil rights for African Americans, which ranges from the abolitionist movement, to Black Lives Matter today, many leaders and participants have been either flat out assassinated, or died under unusual circumstances and it really clarifies and illuminates how the struggle for equality and freedom can literally cost you your life. 

        Well, to discuss this, we're joined with Glen Ford. He's the executive of the Black Agenda Report. He's also the author of the book titled The Big Lie. He joins us today from New Jersey. Glen, thank you so much for being here. 

        Glen Ford: Thanks for having me. 

        Kim Brown: Well, Glen, as I've mentioned in the intro, there a lot of unanswered questions, surrounding not only the death of Edward Crawford, but of that of Deandre Joshua and Darren Seals before him. What is your take on this sort of spat of mysterious deaths of those connected to Ferguson and how this ties into a longer history of activists losing their lives?

        Glen Ford: Well, certainly, we're not a case of mass black paranoia, and to point that up, even the St. Louis Police believe that there was a connection between the deaths of Seals and Joshua, who were killed in almost exactly the same way. You can't make up the similarities in those killings, but of course, the St. Louis Police have never brought a case. 

        If we're talking about just the death of young black men, not even young black activist men, who are in the public eye and whose faces are known as Crawford's face was known, his whole visage was iconic and known to millions of people around the world and in fact, it was the image of the Black Lives Matter movement. But let's just talk about that demographic, young black men. 

        If any other demographic or sub-demographic in the United States was dying under all kind of circumstances but most dramatically, violently, at the rate that young black men die, there would be a cottage industry of books and other media that would want to get to the root of this mystery. But when it's young black men, people just think that's normal. Well, these were young, political black men who were operating in a sea of not just police repression, but also a state that used to be a slave state which is infested, Missouri, infested with white supremacist militias, many of whom live very much nearby Ferguson, Missouri. 

        There are plenty of suspects and plenty of similarities and plenty of reasons for black folks to think that young black activists are on somebody's hit list. History certainly is replete with the victims of racist oppression, in and out of uniform. 

        Kim Brown: When we talk about Missouri, when speaking about the deaths of these three men, as you said, Missouri is a hot bed of white supremacy. Very active Ku Klux Klan chapters in Missouri. But Missouri was the basis of the Plessy v Ferguson Supreme Court Case that did rule that, I'm paraphrasing, that no black man has any rights that any white man is bound to abide to. I know I'm messing that all the way up, Glen Ford. 

        Glen, give us the quote, I'm sorry. What was the ... ?

        Glen Ford: You're talking about Judge Taney in 1857 in the Dred Scott Case who said that no slave, no, no black person has any rights that a white man is bound to respect and he based that on black folks not having citizenship and that the founders never envisioned or wanted black people to have citizenship and therefore this covenant, this social contract that the Constitution embodies does not apply. 

        Kim Brown: In the land of Constitutional rights, the First Amendment to free speech, the right to assemble, the right to religion, et cetera, why is it so dangerous for activists, particularly activists of color, black activists, to be on the public platform of advocating on behalf of civil rights? As you mentioned, some of these gentlemen were not famous, necessarily, they certainly weren't household names, but they were still present in the movement and present in the struggle. Even if you're not a Jesse Jackson or a Deray McKesson, you can still be vulnerable for these types of things to happen if you're simply even involved. 

        Glen Ford: You in fact are more vulnerable because you're not surrounded by an entourage. You're not constantly under media attention and your part, and this is the most important aspect, you're part of a group that dies in violent ways all of the time. That this kind of demise is considered normal, so the crime won't be seen as a crime and prosecution is very, very unlikely. Cops, of course, know this better than anybody else. 

        Kim Brown: Speaking of police here, Glen, again, if we're looking at this from a historical perspective, which is usually the prudent thing to do, the police historically have been complicit or have been directly involved with the murders of African American activists. Those who have been pushing for equality of rights, be it voting rights, be it pay equality. The police have usually been there and not always in the way to best seek justice. Talk about the role that law enforcement has played in silencing voices of the struggle. 

        Glen Ford: The police understand their mission. They're indoctrinated into their mission by the state. We're not talking about stray white folks acting out their own personal prejudices and that leading to random acts of violence against black folks. What we're talking about here is police as an institution whose mission, it's very, very clear to them, is to contain and control the black community. 

        That requires the use of terror. It requires that it be re-enforced daily. That the police have a monopoly on the use of deadly force and you have to use that deadly force on occasion in order to let people know that you have it. The people that you want to let know that you have this monopoly on deadly force are those who challenge it. People like folks who get in iconic photographs, like Mr. Crawford. 

        Kim Brown: What do you think that we can learn, or those who are in the movement, in the struggle, can learn from the very tragic and untimely demises that have come for people before this time? We live in an age of technology and social media, I mean, do activists need to constantly disclose where they are, what they're doing? Or maybe even tweet out, "Hey, I'm not suicidal." Just in case they get arrested or taken into custody and they are found dead for whatever reason. I know it sounds like a bit of hyperbole, but it really isn't because these things have happened and they have been happening for a long time. So what can people who are advocating on these fronts do to protect themselves, if anything?

        Glen Ford: Well, you know, you're asking me a very dangerous question and if I gave you my honest answer, then that might put me on a kind of list, not a list from stray policemen, or white militia men, but from our government and our police agencies. You counter attacks upon your community and the important people who made themselves targets in your community because they've stood up for that community, you counter that kind of violence against you by creating a situation in which the perpetrators pay a price. 

        So if you suspect where the violence is coming from, you demonstrate that a price must be paid. But if I speak any further on this, I think that I might be indicted, especially with this new administration which interprets free speech according to it's own set of rules. 

        Kim Brown: Indeed, well, Glen Ford, we will leave the rest of that unsaid. We appreciate you joining us today. 

        Glen Ford: Thank you. 

        Kim Brown: We've been speaking with Glen Ford, he is the executive editor of the Black Agenda Report. He is also the author of the book titled The Big Lie. My name is Kim Brown and I appreciate you joining us right here, on the Real News Network.



        7) Philly DA Office Must Provide All Records of Top Judge's Role as DA in Opposing Mumia Appeal 



        8)  Seven Years After Arrest and Outcry, Young Woman Again Faces Deportation

        MAY 10, 2017




        Jessica Colotl embodied the debate over illegal immigration when she was locked up for 37 days and nearly sent back to Mexico after an Atlanta-area police officer caught her driving without a license in 2010.

        To supporters, including her sorority sisters, the president of her college and the immigrant advocates who publicized her case, hers was an example of police overreach and the need to safeguard ambitious young students from deportation. To others, she was an illegal immigrant, plain and simple, who also was abusing the system by attending a public college at discounted tuition.

        She returned to college — paying full price, because of a new Georgia law inspired by her case — completed her degree and qualified for program started by President Barack Obama in 2012, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which protects some undocumented youth from deportation.

        "Since then, I have been working and doing well for myself," Ms. Colotl, now 28, said in an interview this week. "I thought that all the legal battles were behind me."

        That was until Ms. Colotl, who was brought to the United States by her parents as a child, learned Monday that her DACA status had been revoked, thrusting her into the national immigration debate anew.

        With a new president in the White House, she is once again facing deportation.

        Dustin Baxter, Ms. Colotl's lawyer, on Tuesday requested that a federal judge in Atlanta intervene and reinstate her DACA protection.

        "We are taking an innocent girl who has done nothing but contribute to the society she has been a part of since she was 11 and making her a villain and poster child for Trump's deportation policies," Mr. Baxter said in an interview.

        About 750,000 immigrants have benefited from DACA, and even as he has promised to crack down on illegal immigration, President Trump has said repeatedly that he will not target DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers.

        But since 2012, more than 1,500 Dreamers have had their DACA status revoked for criminal activity, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

        After her arrest for driving without a license, Ms. Colotl had been charged with providing a false address to a law enforcement officer, a felony. She admitted guilt and had the case dismissed after completing community service, a common outcome for low-level offenses. Though she was not convicted, under immigration law her admission to the crime was enough to initiate the loss of DACA status.

        While the Obama administration allowed Ms. Colotl into the program in 2013 — and allowed her to renew in 2015 — the new administration appears less willing to overlook her record.

        "Jessica Colotl, an unlawfully present Mexican national, admitted guilt to a felony charge in August 2011 of making a false statement to law enforcement in Cobb County, Ga.," said an ICE statement. "Ms. Colotl was subsequently allowed to enter a diversionary program by local authorities; however, under federal law her guilty plea is considered a felony conviction for immigration purposes."

        Ms. Colotl's original case became emblematic of hot-button immigration questions, like whether young undocumented immigrants deserved a pass, whether they should benefit from in-state tuition and whether an enforcement program designed to identify violent criminals for removal was ensnaring other immigrants as well.

        During her junior year at Kennesaw State University, on March 28, 2010, Ms. Colotl was pulled over for blocking traffic in a parking lot at the college.

        She had no license, so within days she was transferred to federal immigration custody under a program known as 287(g), which lets local officials act as immigration-law enforcers and cooperate with deportation authorities.

        She spent more than a month in an Alabama detention facility until being released, thanks to campaigning on her behalf. She became a symbol of the long and ultimately unsuccessful fight to pass the federal Dream Act, which would have legalized immigrants like Ms. Colotl who entered the United States as children, and which opponents criticized as an amnesty measure.

        "Jessica has a dream," read a sign at a rally held by Lambda Theta Alpha, the Latina sorority she had helped establish at the college. "Support the Dream Act."

        Nine days after her release, the Cobb County sheriff, Neil Warren, pressed charges against Ms. Colotl, saying she had supplied a false address to a deputy who had booked her into jail, a felony.

        "Ms. Colotl knew that she was in the United States without authority to be here and voluntarily chose to operate a vehicle without a driver's license," Sheriff Warren said at the time, adding that she had "further complicated her situation with her blatant disregard for Georgia law by giving false information."

        Mr. Warren championed his county's participation in 287(g), a program that groups like the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia derided for snagging a "promising student" like Ms. Colotl, rather than hardened criminals, and for promoting racial profiling. Nationally, an outcry against the program prompted the Obama administration to scale it back. Mr. Trump wants it used more often.

        State legislators who became aware that Ms. Colotl was paying in-state tuition passed a law to make undocumented students pay out-of-state rates when attending public colleges. Some candidates for governor invoked Ms. Colotl in their calls for curbing illegal immigration in Georgia.

        Ms. Colotl finished college and began working as a legal assistant at the law office of Charles Kuck, an Atlanta immigration attorney whose firm represents her now. (Her parents have since moved back to Mexico.)

        Mr. Obama began DACA, letting young undocumented immigrants like Ms. Colotl stay in the United States and work legally. But while the failed Dream Act could have eventually let Ms. Colotl become a permanent resident, DACA protection must be renewed every two years and can more easily be revoked.

        The Trump administration so far has not used that power often. In the first three months of 2017, the government revoked DACA protections from 179 recipients for criminal activity and other reasons, a rate similar to that of the final year of the Obama administration.

        But Ms. Colotl, apparently, is not getting a pass.

        She said that just last week she had donated platelets at a hospital to help people in need. Now, she said, she feels persona non grata, unable to work and threatened with ejection from the country.

        "I plan to continue fighting," she said. "This has to be a mistake."



        9)  Sandra Bland's Sister Calls Pared-Down Texas Policing Bill 'Gut-Wrenching'

        MAY 13, 2017




        AUSTIN, Texas — The sister of Sandra Bland, a black woman found dead in a Texas jail after a confrontational traffic stop with a white state trooper, says it is "gut-wrenching" that lawmakers stripped changes to police procedure from a bill named after her sibling and are pushing a weakened compromise.

        The 2015 death of Ms. Bland, 28, was a critical moment in the Black Lives Matter movement. She was stopped near Houston for not signaling a lane change, forcibly pulled from her car and arrested. Days later, she was found dead in a jail cell.

        A leaner version of the bill, called the Sandra Bland Act, enters the homestretch of the Texas Legislature far from the sweeping package of police accountability and anti-racial profiling measures originally filed in March. In the face of opposition from law enforcement groups and Republicans, the bill was drastically slimmed down and now focuses mostly on better jail training and access to mental health care.

        "What the bill does in its current state renders Sandy invisible," Sharon Cooper, Ms. Bland's sister, said in an interview on Friday night. "It's frustrating and gut-wrenching."

        Saying she was speaking on behalf of the Bland family, Ms. Cooper said the legislation as it now stood "isolates the very person it seeks to honor" and made compromises at the expense of the family. "It painfully misses the mark for us," she said.

        Ms. Cooper stopped short of saying her sister's name should be removed from the bill — a move some black community organizers say they would welcome, given the changes.

        Saying she was speaking on behalf of the Bland family, Ms. Cooper said the legislation as it now stood "isolates the very person it seeks to honor" and made compromises at the expense of the family. "It painfully misses the mark for us," she said.

        Ms. Cooper stopped short of saying her sister's name should be removed from the bill — a move some black community organizers say they would welcome, given the changes.

        Democrats who sponsored the measure say they did the best they could in the face of the political realities of the Republican-controlled Legislature. The bill unanimously cleared the Senate on Thursday and must clear the House before the Legislature adjourns on May 29.

        By any measure, the original bill would have changed policing in Texas. It would have required a higher burden of proof for stopping and searching vehicles; ordered counseling and training for officers who racially profile drivers; and banned arrests over offenses punishable by a fine.

        But the pared-down version is what State Senator John Whitmire, a Democrat, called "a mental health and awareness piece of legislation." The remaining provisions require more mental health training for jailers, heightened supervision of inmates and access to improved mental health care.

        The authorities say Ms. Bland, who was from Chicago, hanged herself in the Waller County Jail with a garbage bag three days after she was pulled over in July 2015. Dashcam video shows Trooper Brian Encinia ordering her out of the car and drawing his stun gun while yelling, "I will light you up!"

        Ms. Bland could later be heard screaming off-camera that the trooper was about to break her wrists. The authorities say she told a jailer she had previously tried to kill herself. Her family, friends and activists have expressed skepticism that she committed suicide, one reason organizers and others have taken issue with her name being attached to what is now mostly a mental health bill.



        10)  How Privacy Became a Commodity for the Rich and Powerful

        Recently I handed over the keys to my email account to a service that promised to turn my spam-bloated inbox into a sparkling model of efficiency in just a few clicks. Unroll.me's method of instant unsubscribing from newsletters and junk mail was "trusted by millions of happy users," the site said, among them the "Scandal" actor Joshua Malina, who tweeted in 2014: "Your inbox will sing!" Plus, it was free. When a privacy policy popped up, I swatted away the legalese and tapped "continue."

        Last month, the true cost of Unroll.me was revealed: The service is owned by the market-research firm Slice Intelligence, and according to a report in The Times, while Unroll.me is cleaning up users' inboxes, it's also rifling through their trash. When Slice found digital ride receipts from Lyft in some users' accounts, it sold the anonymized data off to Lyft's ride-hailing rival, Uber.

        Suddenly, some of Unroll.me's trusting users were no longer so happy. One user filed a class-action lawsuit. In a blog post, Unroll​.me's chief executive, Jojo Hedaya, wrote that it was "heartbreaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service." He stressed "the importance of your privacy" and pledged to "do better." But one of Unroll.me's founders, Perri Chase, who is no longer with the company, took a different approach in her own post on the controversy. "Do you really care?" she wrote. "How exactly is this shocking?"

        This Silicon Valley "good cop, bad cop" routine is familiar, and we spend our time surfing between these two modes of thought. Chase is right: We've come to understand that privacy is the currency of our online lives, paying for petty conveniences with bits of personal information. But we are blissfully ignorant of what that means. We don't know what data is being bought and sold, because, well, that's private. The evidence that flashes in front of our own eyes looks harmless enough: We search Google for a new pair of shoes, and for a time, sneakers follow us across the web, tempting us from every sidebar. But our information can also be used for matters of great public significance, in ways we're barely capable of imagining.

        When I signed up for Unroll.me, I couldn't predict that my emails might be strategic documents for a power-hungry company in its quest for total road domination. Such privacy costs often become clear only after they've already been paid. Sometimes a private citizen is caught up in a viral moment and learns that a great deal of information about him or her exists online, just waiting to be splashed across the news — like the guy in the red sweater who, after asking a question in a presidential debate, had his Reddit porn comments revealed.

        But our digital dossiers extend well beyond the individual pieces of information we know are online somewhere; they now include stuff about us that can be surmised only through studying our patterns of behavior. The psychologist and data scientist Michal Kosinski has foundthat seemingly mundane activity — like the brands and celebrities people "like" on Facebook — can be leveraged to reliably predict, among other things, intelligence, personality traits and politics. After our most recent presidential election, the company Cambridge Analytica boastedthat its techniques were "instrumental in identifying supporters, persuading undecided voters and driving turnout to the polls" on Donald Trump's behalf. All these little actions we think of as our "private" business are actually data points that can be aggregated and wielded to manipulate our world.

        Years ago, in 2009, the law professor Paul Ohm warned that the growing dominance of Big Data could create a "database of ruin" that would someday connect all people to compromising information about their lives. "In the absence of intervention," he later wrote, "soon companies will know things about us that we do not even know about ourselves." Or as the social scientist and Times contributor Zeynep Tufekci said in a recent talk: "People can't think like this: I didn't disclose it, but it can be inferred about me." When a peeping Tom looks between the blinds, it's clear what has been revealed. But when a data firm cracks open our inboxes, we may never find out what it has learned.

        Privacy has not always been seen as an asset. The ancient Greeks, for instance, distinguished between the public realm ("koinon") and the private realm ("idion"). In contrast to those public citizens engaged in political life, humble private citizens were known as "idiotai," a word that later evolved into "idiots." Something similar is true of the English word "privacy." As Hannah Arendt wrote in "The Human Condition," privacy was once closely associated with "a state of being deprived of something, and even of the highest and most human of man's capacities." In the 17th century, the word "private" arose as a more politically correct replacement for "common," which had taken on condescending overtones.

        And yet somewhere along the way, privacy was recast as a necessity for cultivating the life of the mind. In George Orwell's "1984," the proles are spared a life of constant surveillance, while higher-ranking members of society are exposed to Big Brother's watchful eye. The novel's protagonist, Winston, begins to suspect that real freedom lies in those unwatched slums: "If there is hope," he writes in his secret diary, "it lies in the proles." In the influential 1967 book "Privacy and Freedom," Alan Westin described privacy as having four functions: personal autonomy, emotional release, self-evaluation and intimate communication. This modern understanding of privacy as an intimate good grew up right alongside the technology that threatened to violate it. At the end of the 18th century, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protected Americans from physical searches of their bodies and homes. One hundred years later, technological advancements had legal minds thinking about a kind of mental privacy too: In an 1890 paper called "The Right to Privacy," Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis cited "recent inventions and business methods" — including instant photography and tabloid gossip — that they claimed had "invaded the sacred precincts of private and domestic life." They argued for what they called the right "to be let alone," but also what they called "the right to one's personality."

        Now that our privacy is worth something, every side of it is being monetized. We can either trade it for cheap services or shell out cash to protect it. It is increasingly seen not as a right but as a luxury good. When Congress recently voted to allow internet service providers to sell user data without users' explicit consent, talk emerged of premium products that people could pay for to protect their browsing habits from sale. And if they couldn't afford it? As one congressman told a concerned constituent, "Nobody's got to use the internet." Practically, though, everybody's got to. Tech companies have laid claim to the public square: All of a sudden, we use Facebook to support candidates, organize protests and pose questions in debates. We're essentially paying a data tax for participating in democracy.

        The smartphone is an intimate device; we stare rapt into its bright light and stroke its smooth glass to coax out information and connect with others. It seems designed to help us achieve Westin's functions of privacy, to enable emotional release and moments of passive reflection. We cradle it in bed, at dinner, on the toilet. Its pop-up privacy policies are annoying speed bumps in the otherwise instantaneous conjuring of desires. It feels like a private experience, when really it is everything but. How often have you shielded the contents of your screen from a stranger on the subway, or the partner next to you in bed, only to offer up your secrets to the data firm tracking everything you do?

        The surveillance economy works on such information asymmetry: Data-mining companies know everything about us, but we know very little about what they know. And just as "privacy" has grown into an anxious buzzword, the powerful have co-opted it in order to maintain control over others and evade accountability. As we bargain away the amount of privacy that an ordinary person expects, we've also watched businesses and government figures grow ever more indignant about their own need to be left alone. Companies mandate nondisclosure agreements and demand out-of-court arbitration to better conceal their business practices. In 2013, Facebook revoked users' ability to remain unsearchable on the site; meanwhile, its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, was buying up four houses surrounding his Palo Alto home to preserve his own privacy. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, has defended President Trump's secretive meetings at his personal golf clubs, saying he is "entitled to a bit of privacy," and the administration has cut off public access to White House visitor logs, citing security risks and "privacy concerns." When The New York Times reported that the president takes counsel from the Fox News host Sean Hannity, Hannity indignantly tweeted that his conversations were "PRIVATE."

        We've arrived at a place where public institutions and figures can be precious about their privacy in ways we're continually deciding individual people can't. Stepping into the White House is now considered more private than that weird rash you Googled. It's a cynical inversion of the old association between private life and the lower class: These days, only the powerful can demand privacy.
























































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