For Immediate Release                                        For Immediate Release

Press Contact: Herb Mintz

(415) 759-9679

Photos and Interviews: Steve Zeltzer

(415) 867-0628

25th Annual LaborFest 2018

Surviving The Billionaire Robot Assault in

 the 21st Century

San Francisco:  LaborFest opens its 25th annual festival on July 1, 2018 with a month of timely events inspired by local and international labor activists and labor history.  The program schedule includes eleven international and local films, labor history walks, a labor history bike ride, a maritime history boat ride, lectures, forums, readings and theater and music performances. Most events are free of charge and are presented in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and San Jose.

This year LaborFest continues to commemorate the San Francisco General Strike of 1934 with a series of lectures and walks.  LaborFest will also focus on the role of technology on workers from Silicon Valley to UBER, Lyft and taxi drivers, workers in the so-called 'gig economy' as well the role of Airbnb on hotel workers and communities and neighborhoods in San Francisco.  The FilmWorks United International Working Class Film and Video Festival will feature films not only from the United States but China, Turkey, South Korea, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.  Directors will be present to introduce some of the films.

Particular events in this year's LaborFest include a forum on the 50th Anniversary of the student strike at San Francisco State University, a concert by labor musician extraordinaire Charlie King, a screening of the LGBT historical comedy-drama film Pride, a book reading from Matilda Rabinowitz's memoir, Immigrant Girl, Radical Woman, a night of labor and immigration history inspired song by the Rockin' Solidarity Labor Chorus and a panel entitled Workplace Racism: Hanging Nooses and Fightback sponsored by United Public Workers.


LaborFest is the premier labor cultural arts and film festival in the United States.  LaborFest recognizes the role of working people in the building of America and making it work with over 50 events.  Most of these events are free or ask for a voluntary donation.  The festival is self-funded with contributions from unions and other organizations that support and celebrate the contributions of working people.

For more details and to read or download a full schedule and description of LaborFest 2018 events, go here: http://www.laborfest.net /events/2018-07/





All Hands on Deck:  Get Malik Washington out of Ad-Seg!

Several weeks ago, friends and supporters of incarcerated freedom fighter Comrade Malik Washington were overjoyed to hear that he was getting released, finally, from Administrative Segregation (solitary confinement) at Eastham Unit in Texas--until TDCJ pulled a fast one, falsely claiming that he refused to participate in the Ad-Seg Transition Program to get him released back to general population.  

This is a complete lie:  Malik has been fighting to get out of Ad-Seg from the moment he was thrown in there two years ago on a bogus riot charge (which was, itself, retaliation for prison strike organizing and agitating against inhumane, discriminatory conditions).  

Here's what actually happened:  when Malik arrived at Ramsey Unit on June 21, he was assigned to a top bunk, which is prohibited by his medical restrictions as a seizure patient.  TDCJ had failed to transfer his medical restrictions records, or had erased them, and are now claiming no record of these restrictions, which have been on file and in place for the past ten years.  Malik wrote a detailed statement requesting to be placed on a lower bunk in order to avoid injury; later that night, he was abruptly transferred back to Ad-Seg at a new Unit (McConnell).  

Malik was told that Ramsey staff claimed he refused to participate in the Ad-Seg Transition program--this is NOT true, and he needs to be re-instated to the program immediately!  He also urgently needs his medical restrictions put back into his records!


We are extremely concerned for Malik's safety, and urgently need the help of everyone reading this. Please take one or more of the following actions, and get a couple friends to do the same!

1. Call Senior Warden Phillip Sifuentes at Malik's current facility (McConnell) and tell them Keith Washington (#1487958) must be transferred out of McConnell and re-admitted to the Ad-Seg Transition Program!

Phone #: (361) 362-2300 (**048) 00 --  ask to be connected to the senior warden's office/receptionist--try to talk to someone, but also can leave a message. 

Sample Script: "Hello, I'm calling because I'm concerned about Keith H. Washington (#1487958) who was recently transferred to your facility.  I understand he was transferred there from Ramsey Unit, because he supposedly refused to participate in the Ad-Seg transition program there, but this is not true; Malik never refused to participate, and he needs to be re-admitted to the transition program immediately!  I am also concerned that his heat restrictions seem to have been removed from his records.  He is a seizure patient and has been on heat and work restriction for years, and these restrictions must be reinstated immediately."

Please let us know how your call goes at blueridgeABC@riseup.net

2. Flood TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier with calls/emails!  You can use the above phone script as a guide for emails.  

(936) 437-2101 / (936) 437-2123

3. Flood TDCJ with emails demanding that Malik's health restrictions and work restrictions be restored: Health.services@tdcj.texas.gov

You can use the call script above as a guide; you don't need to mention the Ad-Seg situation, but just focus on the need to restore his heat and work restrictions!

4. File a complaint with the Ombudsman's Office (the office in charge of investigating departmental misconduct); you can use the above phone script as a guide for emails.

5. Write to Malik!  Every letter he receives lifts his spirit and PROTECTS him, because prison officials know he has people around him, watching for what happens to him.

Keith H. Washington


McConnell Unit

3100 South Emily Drive

Beeville, TX 78103



Listen to 'The Daily': Was Kevin Cooper Framed for Murder?

By Michael Barbaro, May 30, 2018


Listen and subscribe to our podcast from your mobile deviceVia Apple Podcasts | Via RadioPublic | Via Stitcher

The sole survivor of an attack in which four people were murdered identified the perpetrators as three white men. The police ignored suspects who fit the description and arrested a young black man instead. He is now awaiting execution.

On today's episode:

• Kevin Cooper, who has been on death row at San Quentin State Prison in California for three decades.



Last week I met with fellow organizers and members of Mijente to take joint action at the Tornillo Port of Entry, where detention camps have been built and where children and adults are currently being imprisoned. 

I oppose the hyper-criminalization of migrants and asylum seekers. Migration is a human right and every person is worthy of dignity and respect irrespective of whether they have "papers" or not. You shouldn't have to prove "extreme and unusual hardship" to avoid being separated from your family. We, as a country, have a moral responsibility to support and uplift those adversely affected by the US's decades-long role in the economic and military destabilization of the home countries these migrants and asylum seekers have been forced to leave.

While we expected to face resistance and potential trouble from the multiple law enforcement agencies represented at the border, we didn't expect to have a local farm hand pull a pistol on us to demand we deflate our giant balloon banner. Its message to those in detention:

NO ESTÁN SOLOS (You are not alone).

Despite the slight disruption to our plan we were able to support Mijente and United We Dream in blocking the main entrance to the detention camp and letting those locked inside know that there are people here who care for them and want to see them free and reunited with their families. 

We are continuing to stand in solidarity with Mijente as they fight back against unjust immigration practices.Yesterday they took action in San Diego, continuing to lead and escalate resistance to unjust detention, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and to ICE. 

While we were honored to offer on-the-ground support we see the potential to focus the energy of our Drop the MIC campaign into fighting against this injustice, to have an even greater impact. Here's how:

  1. Call out General Dynamics for profiteering of War, Militarization of the Border and Child and Family Detention (look for our social media toolkit this week);
  2. Create speaking forums and produce media that challenges the narrative of ICE and Jeff Sessions, encouraging troops who have served in the borderlands to speak out about that experience;
  3. Continue to show up and demand we demilitarize the border and abolish ICE.

Thank you for your vision and understanding of how militarism, racism, and capitalism are coming together in the most destructive ways. Help keep us in this fight by continuing to support our work.

In Solidarity,

Ramon Mejia

Field Organizer, About Face: Veterans Against the War

P.O. Box 3565, New York, NY 10008. All Right Reserved. | Unsubscribe

To ensure delivery of About Face emails please add webmaster@ivaw.org to your address book.



Feds extend deadline for public comments on future draft

The feds initially provided only a few days for the public to submit comments regarding the future of the draft in the United States. This mirrored their process of announcing public hearings with only a few days notice. Due to pressure, they have extended the deadline for your online comments until September. 

They need to hear from us!

  • It's time to end draft registration once and for all.
  • Don't expand the draft to women. End it for everyone.
  • No national service linked to the military--including immigration enforcement.
  • Until the US is invaded by a foreign power, stop pretending that the draft is about anything other than empire.
  • Submit your own comments online here.

As we have been reporting to you, a federal commission has been formed to address the future of draft registration in the United States and whether the draft should end or be extended.

The press release states "The Commission wants to learn why people serve and why people don't; the barriers to participation; whether modifications to the selective service system are needed; ways to increase the number of Americans in service; and more."

Public hearings are currently scheduled for the following cities. We encourage folks to attend these hearings by checking the commission's website for the actual dates and locations of these hearings (usually annouced only days before).

  • July 19/20, 2018: Waco, TX
  • August 16/17, 2018: Memphis, TN
  • September 19/21, 2018: Los Angeles, CA

For more background information, read our recent post "Why is the government soliciting feedback on the draft now?"

Courage to Resist Podcast: The Future of Draft Registration in the United States

We had draft registration resister Edward Hasbrouck on the Courage to Resistpodcast this week to explain what's going on. Edward talks about his own history of going to prison for refusing to register for the draft in 1983, the background on this new federal commission, and addresses liberal arguments in favor of involuntary service. Edward explains:

When you say, "I'm not willing to be drafted", you're saying, "I'm going to make my own choices about which wars we should be fighting", and when you say, "You should submit to the draft", you're saying, "You should let the politicians decide for you."

What's happening right now is that a National Commission … has been appointed to study the question of whether draft registration should be continued, whether it should be expanded to make women, as well as men register for the draft, whether a draft itself should be started, whether there should be some other kind of Compulsory National Service enacted.

The Pentagon would say, and it's true, they don't want a draft. It's not plan A, but it's always been plan B, and it's always been the assumption that if we can't get enough volunteers, if we get in over our head, if we pick a larger fight than we can pursue, we always have that option in our back pocket that, "If not enough people volunteer, we're just going to go go to the draft, go to the benches, and dragoon enough people to fight these wars."

The first real meaningful opportunity for a national debate 

about the draft in decades . . .

Courage to Resist -- Support the Troops Who Refuse to Fight!

484 Lake Park Ave. No. 41, Oakland, CA 94610




Incarceration Nation

Emergency Action Alert:


In October, 2017, the 2 year court monitoring period of the Ashker v. Governor settlement to limit solitary confinement in California expired. Since then, the four drafters of the Agreement to End Hostilities and lead hunger strike negotiators – Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, Arturo Castellanos, George Franco, and Todd Ashker, have all been removed from general population and put in solitary in Administrative Segregation Units, based on fabricated information created by staff and/or collaborating "inmate informants." In Todd Ashker's case, he is being isolated "for his own protection," although he does not ask for nor desire to be placed in isolation for this or any reason. Sitawa has since been returned to population, but can still not have visitors.

Please contact CDCr Secretary Scott Kernan and Governor Edmund G. Brown and demand CDCr:

• Immediately release back into general population any of the four lead organizers still held in solitary

• Return other Ashker class members to general population who have been placed in Ad Seg 

• Stop the retaliation against all Ashker class members and offer them meaningful rehabilitation opportunities

Contact Scott Kernan. He prefers mailed letters to 1515 S Street, Sacramento 95811. If you call 916-324-7308, press 0 for the Communications office. Email matthew.westbrook@cdcr.ca.gov and cc: scott.kernan@cdcr.ca.gov

Contact Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.,  c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814; Phone: (916) 445-2841Fax: (916) 558-3160; Email: https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov39mail/

As a result of the administrative reviews established after the second prisoner hunger strike in 2011 and the Ashker settlement of 2015, California's SHU population has decreased from 3923 people in October 2012 to 537 in January 2018.  Returning these four men and many other hunger strikers back to solitary in the form of Ad Seg represents an intentional effort to undermine the Agreement to End Hostilities and the settlement, and return to the lock 'em up mentality of the 1980's.

Sitawa writes: "What many of you on the outside may not know is the long sordid history of CDCr's ISU [Institutional Services Unit]/ IGI [Institutional Gang Investigator]/Green Wall syndicate's [organized groups of guards who act with impunity] pattern and practice, here and throughout its prison system, of retaliating, reprisals, intimidating, harassing, coercing, bad-jacketing [making false entries in prisoner files], setting prisoners up, planting evidence, fabricating and falsifying reports (i.e., state documents), excessive force upon unarmed prisoners, [and] stealing their personal property . . ." 

CDCr officials are targeting the Ashker v. Governor class members to prevent them from being able to organize based on the Agreement to End Hostilities, and to obstruct their peaceful efforts to effect genuine changes - for rehabilitation, returning home, productively contributing to the improvement of their communities, and deterring recidivism.

Please help put a stop to this retaliation with impunity. Contact Kernan and Brown today:

Scott Kernan prefers mailed letters to 1515 S Street, Sacramento 95811. If you call 916-324-7308, press 0 for the Communications office. Email matthew.westbrook@cdcr.ca.gov and cc: scott.kernan@cdcr.ca.gov

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.,  c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814; Phone: (916) 445-2841Fax: (916) 558-3160; Email: https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov39mail/

Read statements from the reps: 

Todd – We stand together so prisoners never have to go through the years of torture we did  (with Open Letter to Gov. Brown, CA legislators and CDCR Secretary Kernan)



"There Was a Crooked Prez"

By Dr. Nayvin Gordon

There was a crooked Prez, and he walked a crooked mile,

He found a crooked lawyer upon a crooked isle,

They bought a crooked election which caught a crooked mission,

And they both lived together in a little crooked prison.

April 28, 2018

Dr. Gordon is a California Family Physician who has written many articles on health and politics.



It is so beautiful to see young people in this country rising up to demand an end to gun violence. But what is Donald Trump's response? Instead of banning assault weapons, he wants to give guns to teachers and militarize our schools. But one of the reasons for mass school shootings is precisely because our schools are already militarized. Florida shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was trained by U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program while he was in high school.

Yesterday, Divest from the War Machine coalition member, Pat Elder, was featured on Democracy Now discussing his recent article about the JROTC in our schools. The JROTC teaches children how to shoot weapons. It is often taught by retired soldiers who have no background in teaching. They are allowed to teach classes that are given at least equal weight as classes taught by certified and trained teachers. We are pulling our children away from classes that expand their minds and putting them in classes that teach them how to be killing machines. The JROTC program costs our schools money. It sends equipment. But, the instructors and facilities must be constructed and paid for by the school.

The JROTC puts our children's futures at risk. Children who participate in JROTC shooting programs are exposed to lead bullets from guns. They are at an increased risk when the shooting ranges are inside. The JROTC program is designed to "put a jump start on your military career." Children are funneled into JROTC to make them compliant and to feed the military with young bodies which are prepared to be assimilated into the war machine. Instead of funneling children into the military, we should be channeling them into jobs that support peace and sustainable development. 

Tell Senator McCain and Representative Thornberry to take the war machine out of our schools! The JROTC program must end immediately. The money should be directed back into classrooms that educate our children.

The Divest from the War Machine campaign is working to remove our money from the hands of companies that make a killing on killing. We must take on the systems that keep fueling war, death, and destruction around the globe. AND, we must take on the systems that are creating an endless cycle of children who are being indoctrinated at vulnerable ages to become the next killing machine.  Don't forget to post this message on Facebook and Twitter.

Onward in divestment,

Ann, Ariel, Brienne, Jodie, Kelly, Kirsten, Mark, Medea, Nancy, Natasha, Paki, Sarah, Sophia and Tighe

P.S. Do you want to do more? Start a campaign to get the JROTC out of your school district or state. Email divest@codepink.org and we'll get you started!



October 20-21, 2018

Cindy Sheehan and the Women's March on the Pentagon

A movement not just a protest

By Whitney Webb

WASHINGTON—In the last few years, arguably the most visible and well-publicized march on the U.S. capital has been the "Women's March," a movement aimed at advocating for legislation and policies promoting women's rights as well as a protest against the misogynistic actions and statements of high-profile U.S. politicians. The second Women's March, which took place this past year, attracted over a million protesters nationwide, with 500,000 estimated to have participated in Los Angeles alone.

However, absent from this women's movement has been a public antiwar voice, as its stated goal of "ending violence" does not include violence produced by the state. The absence of this voice seemed both odd and troubling to legendary peace activist Cindy Sheehan, whose iconic protest against the invasion and occupation of Iraq made her a household name for many.

Sheehan was taken aback by how some prominent organizers of this year's Women's March were unwilling to express antiwar positions and argued for excluding the issue of peace entirely from the event and movement as a whole. In an interview with MintPress, Sheehan recounted how a prominent leader of the march had told her, "I appreciate that war is your issue Cindy, but the Women's March will never address the war issue as long as women aren't free."

War is indeed Sheehan's issue and she has been fighting against the U.S.' penchant for war for nearly 13 years. After her son Casey was killed in action while serving in Iraq in 2004, Sheehan drew international media attention for her extended protest in front of the Bush residence in Crawford, Texas, which later served as the launching point for many protests against U.S. military action in Iraq.

Sheehan rejected the notion that women could be "free" without addressing war and empire. She countered the dismissive comment of the march organizer by stating that divorcing peace activism from women's issues "ignored the voices of the women of the world who are being bombed and oppressed by U.S. military occupation."

Indeed, women are directly impacted by war—whether through displacement, the destruction of their homes, kidnapping, or torture. Women also suffer uniquely and differently from men in war as armed conflicts often result in an increase in sexual violence against women.

For example, of the estimated half-a-million civilians killed in the U.S. invasion of Iraq, many of them were women and children. In the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, the number of female casualties has been rising on average over 20 percent every year since 2015. In 2014 alone when Israel attacked Gaza in "Operation Protective Edge," Israeli forces, which receives $10 million in U.S. military aid every day, killed over two thousand Palestinians—half of them were women and children. Many of the casualties were pregnant women, who had been deliberately targeted.

Given the Women's March's apparent rejection of peace activism in its official platform, Sheehan was inspired to organize another Women's March that would address what many women's rights advocates, including Sheehan, believe to be an issue central to promoting women's rights.

Dubbed the "Women's March on the Pentagon," the event is scheduled to take place on October 21—the same date as an iconic antiwar march of the Vietnam era—with a mission aimed at countering the "bipartisan war machine." Though men, women and children are encouraged to attend, the march seeks to highlight women's issues as they relate to the disastrous consequences of war.

The effort of women in confronting the "war machine" will be highlighted at the event, as Sheehan remarked that "women have always tried to confront the war-makers," as the mothers, daughters, sisters and wives of the men and women in the military, as well as those innocent civilians killed in the U.S.' foreign wars. As a result, the push for change needs to come from women, according to Sheehan, because "we [women] are the only ones that can affect [the situation] in a positive way." All that's missing is an organized, antiwar women's movement.

Sheehan noted the march will seek to highlight the direct relationship between peace activism and women's rights, since "no woman is free until all women are free" and such "freedom also includes the freedom from U.S. imperial plunder, murder and aggression"that is part of the daily lives of women living both within and beyond the United States. Raising awareness of how the military-industrial complex negatively affects women everywhere is key, says Sheehan, as "unless there is a sense of international solidarity and a broader base for feminism, then there aren't going to be any solutions to any problems, [certainly not] if we don't stop giving trillions of dollars to the Pentagon."

Sheehan also urged that, even though U.S. military adventurism has long been an issue and the subject of protests, a march to confront the military-industrial complex is more important now than ever: "I'm not alarmist by nature but I feel like the threat of nuclear annihilation is much closer than it has been for a long time," adding that, despite the assertion of some in the current administration and U.S. military, "there is no such thing as 'limited' nuclear war." This makes "the need to get out in massive numbers" and march against this more imperative than ever.

Sheehan also noted that Trump's presidency has helped to make the Pentagon's influence on U.S. politics more obvious by bringing it to the forefront: "Even though militarism had been under wraps [under previous presidents], Trump has made very obvious the fact that he has given control of foreign policy to the 'generals.'"

Indeed, as MintPress has reported on several occasions, the Pentagon—beginning in March of last year—has been given the freedom to "engage the enemy" at will, without the oversight of the executive branch or Congress. As a result, the deaths of innocent civilians abroad as a consequence of U.S. military action has spiked. While opposing Trump is not the focus of the march, Sheehan opined that Trump's war-powers giveaway to the Pentagon, as well as his unpopularity, have helped to spark widespread interest in the event.

Different wings of the same warbird

Sheehan has rejected accusations that the march is partisan, as it is, by nature, focused on confronting the bipartisan nature of the military-industrial complex. She told MintPress that she has recently come under pressure owing to the march's proximity to the 2018 midterm elections—as some have ironically accused the march's bipartisan focus as "trying to harm the chances of the Democrats" in the ensuing electoral contest.

In response, Sheehan stated that: 

"Democrats and Republicans are different wings of the same warbird. We are protesting militarism and imperialism. The march is nonpartisan in nature because both parties are equally complicit. We have to end wars for the planet and for the future. I could really care less who wins in November."

She also noted that even when the Democrats were in power under Obama, nothing was done to change the government's militarism nor to address the host of issues that events like the Women's March have claimed to champion.

"We just got finished with eight years of a Democratic regime," Sheehan told MintPress. "For two of those years, they had complete control of Congress and the presidency and a [filibuster-proof] majority in the Senate and they did nothing" productive except to help "expand the war machine." She also emphasized that this march is in no way a "get out the vote" march for any political party.

Even though planning began less than a month ago, support has been pouring in for the march since it was first announced on Sheehan's website, Cindy Sheehan Soapbox. Encouraged by the amount of interest already received, Sheehan is busy working with activists to organize the events and will be taking her first organizing trip to the east coast in April of this year. 

In addition, those who are unable to travel to Washington are encouraged to participate in any number of solidarity protests that will be planned to take place around the world or to plan and attend rallies in front of U.S. embassies, military installations, and the corporate headquarters of war profiteers.

Early endorsers of the event include journalists Abby Martin, Mnar Muhawesh and Margaret Kimberley; Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly; FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley; and U.S. politicians like former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Activist groups that have pledged their support include CodePink, United National Antiwar Coalition, Answer Coalition, Women's EcoPeace and World Beyond War.

Though October is eight months away, Sheehan has high hopes for the march. More than anything else, though, she hopes that the event will give birth to a "real revolutionary women's movement that recognizes the emancipation and liberation of all peoples—and that means [freeing] all people from war and empire, which is the biggest crime against humanity and against this planet." By building "a movement and not just a protest," the event's impact will not only be long-lasting, but grow into a force that could meaningfully challenge the U.S. military-industrial complex that threatens us all. God knows the world needs it.

For those eager to help the march, you can help spread the word through social media by joining the march's Facebook page or following the march'sTwitter account, as well as by word of mouth. In addition, supporting independent media outlets—such as MintPress, which will be reporting on the march—can help keep you and others informed as October approaches.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer forMintPress News who has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, theAnti-Media, and21st Century Wire among others. She currently lives in Southern Chile.

MPN News, February 20, 2018






Major George Tillery




April 25, 2018-- The arrest of two young men in Starbucks for the crime of "sitting while black," and the four years prison sentence to rapper Meek Mill for a minor parole violation are racist outrages in Philadelphia, PA that made national news in the past weeks. Yesterday Meek Mills was released on bail after a high profile defense campaign and a Pa Supreme Court decision citing evidence his conviction was based solely on a cop's false testimony.

These events underscore the racism, frame-up, corruption and brutality at the core of the criminal injustice system. Pennsylvania "lifer" Major Tillery's fight for freedom puts a spotlight on the conviction of innocent men with no evidence except the lying testimony of jailhouse snitches who have been coerced and given favors by cops and prosecutors.

Sex for Lies and Manufactured Testimony

For thirty-five years Major Tillery has fought against his 1983 arrest, then conviction and sentence of life imprisonment without parole for an unsolved 1976 pool hall murder and assault. Major Tillery's defense has always been his innocence. The police and prosecution knew Tillery did not commit these crimes. Jailhouse informant Emanuel Claitt gave lying testimony that Tillery was one of the shooters.

Homicide detectives and prosecutors threatened Claitt with a false unrelated murder charge, and induced him to lie with promises of little or no jail time on over twenty pending felonies, and being released from jail despite a parole violation. In addition, homicide detectives arranged for Claitt, while in custody, to have private sexual liaisons with his girlfriends in police interview rooms.

In May and June 2016, Emanuel Claitt gave sworn statements that his testimony was a total lie, and that the homicide cops and the prosecutors told him what to say and coached him before trial. Not only was he coerced to lie that Major Tillery was a shooter, but to lie and claim there were no plea deals made in exchange for his testimony. He provided the information about the specific homicide detectives and prosecutors involved in manufacturing his testimony and details about being allowed "sex for lies". In August 2016, Claitt reaffirmed his sworn statements in a videotape, posted on YouTube and on JusticeforMajorTillery.org.

Without the coerced and false testimony of Claitt there was no evidence against Major Tillery. There were no ballistics or any other physical evidence linking him to the shootings. The surviving victim's statement naming others as the shooters was not allowed into evidence.

The trial took place in May 1985 during the last days of the siege and firebombing of the MOVE family Osage Avenue home in Philadelphia that killed 13 Black people, including 5 children. The prosecution claimed that Major Tillery was part of an organized crime group, and falsely described it as run by the Nation of Islam. This prejudiced and inflamed the majority white jury against Tillery, to make up for the absence of any evidence that Tillery was involved in the shootings.

This was a frame-up conviction from top to bottom. Claitt was the sole or primary witness in five other murder cases in the early 1980s. Coercing and inducing jailhouse informants to falsely testify is a standard routine in criminal prosecutions. It goes hand in hand with prosecutors suppressing favorable evidence from the defense.

Major Tillery has filed a petition based on his actual innocence to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Larry Krasner's Conviction Review Unit. A full review and investigation should lead to reversal of Major Tillery's conviction. He also asks that the DA's office to release the full police and prosecution files on his case under the new  "open files" policy. In the meantime, Major Tillery continues his own investigation. He needs your support.

Major Tillery has Fought his Conviction and Advocated for Other Prisoners for over 30 Years

The Pennsylvania courts have rejected three rounds of appeals challenging Major Tillery's conviction based on his innocence, the prosecution's intentional presentation of false evidence against him and his trial attorney's conflict of interest. On June 15, 2016 Major Tillery filed a new post-conviction petition based on the same evidence now in the petition to the District Attorney's Conviction Review Unit. Despite the written and video-taped statements from Emanuel Claitt that that his testimony against Major Tillery was a lie and the result of police and prosecutorial misconduct, Judge Leon Tucker dismissed Major Tillery's petition as "untimely" without even holding a hearing. Major Tillery appealed that dismissal and the appeal is pending in the Superior Court.

During the decades of imprisonment Tillery has advocated for other prisoners challenging solitary confinement, lack of medical and mental health care and the inhumane conditions of imprisonment. In 1990, he won the lawsuit, Tillery v. Owens, that forced the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) to end double celling (4 men to a small cell) at SCI Pittsburgh, which later resulted in the closing and then "renovation" of that prison.

Three years ago Major Tillery stood up for political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal and demanded prison Superintendent John Kerestes get Mumia to a hospital because "Mumia is dying."  For defending Mumia and advocating for medical treatment for himself and others, prison officials retaliated. Tillery was shipped out of SCI Mahanoy, where Mumia was also held, to maximum security SCI Frackville and then set-up for a prison violation and a disciplinary penalty of months in solitary confinement. See, Messing with Major by Mumia Abu-Jamal. Major Tillery's federal lawsuit against the DOC for that retaliation is being litigated. Major Tillery continues as an advocate for all prisoners. He is fighting to get the DOC to establish a program for elderly prisoners.

Major Tillery Needs Your Help:

Well-known criminal defense attorney Stephen Patrizio represents Major pro bonoin challenging his conviction. More investigation is underway. We can't count on the district attorney's office to make the findings of misconduct against the police detectives and prosecutors who framed Major without continuing to dig up the evidence.

Major Tillery is now 67 years old. He's done hard time, imprisoned for almost 35 years, some 20 years in solitary confinement in max prisons for a crime he did not commit. He recently won hepatitis C treatment, denied to him for a decade by the DOC. He has severe liver problems as well as arthritis and rheumatism, back problems, and a continuing itchy skin rash. Within the past couple of weeks he was diagnosed with an extremely high heartbeat and is getting treatment.

Major Tillery does not want to die in prison. He and his family, daughters, sons and grandchildren are fighting to get him home. The newly filed petition for Conviction Review to the Philadelphia District Attorney's office lays out the evidence Major Tillery has uncovered, evidence suppressed by the prosecution through all these years he has been imprisoned and brought legal challenges into court. It is time for the District Attorney's to act on the fact that Major Tillery is innocent and was framed by police detectives and prosecutors who manufactured the evidence to convict him. Major Tillery's conviction should be vacated and he should be freed.

Major Tillery and family


    Financial Support—Tillery's investigation is ongoing. He badly needs funds to fight for his freedom.

    Go to JPay.com;

    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner:

    The Conviction Review Unit should investigate Major Tillery's case. He is innocent. The only evidence at trial was from lying jail house informants who now admit it was false.

    Call: 215-686-8000 or

    Write to:

    Major Tillery AM 9786

    SCI Frackville

    1111 Altamont Blvd.

    Frackville, PA 17931

    For More Information, Go To: JusticeForMajorTillery.org


    Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, Kamilah29@yahoo.com

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



    Free Leonard Peltier!

    On my 43rd year in prison I yearn to hug my grandchildren.

    By Leonard Peltier

    Art by Leonard Peltier

    Write to:

    Leonard Peltier 89637-132 

    USP Coleman I 

    P.O. Box 1033 

    Coleman, FL 33521

    Donations can be made on Leonard's behalf to the ILPD national office, 116 W. Osborne Ave, Tampa, FL 33603



    Reality's trial

    is postponed 

    until October 15th.

    That's 500 Days in Jail,

    Without Bail!


    Whistleblower Reality Winner's trial has (again) been postponed.
    Her new trial date is October 15, 2018, based on the new official proceedings schedule (fifth version). She will have spent 500 days jailed without bail by then. Today is day #301.
    And her trial may likely be pushed back even further into the Spring of 2019.

    We urge you to remain informed and engaged with our campaign until she is free! 

    One supporter's excellent report

    on the details of Winner's imprisonment

    ~Check out these highlights & then go read the full article here~

    "*Guilty Until Proven Innocent*

    Winner is also not allowed to change from her orange jumpsuit for her court dates, even though she is "innocent until proven guilty."  Not only that, but during any court proceedings, only her wrists are unshackled, her ankles stay.  And a US Marshal sits in front of her, face to face, during the proceedings.  Winner is not allowed to turn around and look into the courtroom at all . . .

    Upon checking the inmate registry, it starts to become clear how hush hush the government wants this case against Winner to be.  Whether pre-whistleblowing, or in her orange jumpsuit, photos of Winner have surfaced on the web.  That's why it was so interesting that there's no photo of her next to her name on the inmate registry . . .

    For the past hundred years, the Espionage Act has been debated and amended, and used to charge whistleblowers that are seeking to help the country they love, not harm it.  Sometimes we have to learn when past amendments no longer do anything to justify the treatment of an American truth teller as a political prisoner. The act is outdated and amending it needs to be seriously looked at, or else we need to develop laws that protect our whistleblowers.

    The Espionage Act is widely agreed by many experts to be unconstitutionally vague and a violation of the First Amendment of Free Speech.  Even though a Supreme Court had ruled that the Espionage Act does not infringe upon the 1st Amendment back in 1919, it's constitutionality has been back and forth in court ever sense.

    Because of being charged under the Espionage Act, Winner's defense's hands are tied.  No one is allowed to mention the classified document, even though the public already knows that the information in it is true, that Russia hacked into our election support companies." 

     Want to take action in support of Reality?

    Step up to defend our whistleblower of conscience ► DONATE NOW

    c/o Courage to Resist, 484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610 ~ 510-488-3559


    @standbyreality (Twitter)

     Friends of Reality Winner (Facebook)



    Working people are helping to feed the poor hungry corporations! 

    Charity for the Wealthy!

    GOP Tax Plan Would Give 15 of America's Largest Corporations a $236B Tax Cut: Report

    By Jake Johnson, December 18, 2017







    1) In Denmark, Harsh New Laws for Immigrant 'Ghettos'

    By Ellen Barry and Martin Selsoe Sorensen, July 1, 2018

    An intersection near Mjolnerparken, a housing project in Copenhagen that is classified as a ghetto by the Danish government.CreditMauricio Lima for The New York Times

    COPENHAGEN — When Rokhaia Naassan gives birth in the coming days, she and her baby boy will enter a new category in the eyes of Danish law. Because she lives in a low-income immigrant neighborhood described by the government as a "ghetto," Rokhaia will be what the Danish newspapers call a "ghetto parent" and he will be a "ghetto child."

    Starting at the age of 1, "ghetto children" must be separated from their families for at least 25 hours a week, not including nap time, for mandatory instruction in "Danish values," including the traditions of Christmas and Easter, and Danish language. Noncompliance could result in a stoppage of welfare payments. Other Danish citizens are free to choose whether to enroll children in preschool up to the age of six.

    Denmark's government is introducing a new set of laws to regulate life in 25 low-income and heavily Muslim enclaves, saying that if families there do not willingly merge into the country's mainstream, they should be compelled.

    For decades, integrating immigrants has posed a thorny challenge to the Danish model, intended to serve a small, homogeneous population. Leaders are focusing their ire on urban neighborhoods where immigrants, some of them placed there by the government, live in dense concentrations with high rates of unemployment and gang violence.

    Politicians' description of the ghettos has become increasingly sinister. In his annual New Year's speech, Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen warned that ghettos could "reach out their tentacles onto the streets" by spreading violence, and that because of ghettos, "cracks have appeared on the map of Denmark." Politicians who once used the word "integration" now call frankly for "assimilation."

    That tough approach is embodied in the "ghetto package." Of 22 proposals presented by the government in early March, most have been agreed upon by a parliamentary majority, and more will be subject to a vote in the fall.

    Some are punitive: One measure under consideration would allow courts to double the punishment for certain crimes if they are committed in one of the 25 neighborhoods classified as ghettos, based on residents' income, employment status, education levels, number of criminal convictions and "non-Western background." Another would impose a four-year prison sentence on immigrant parents who force their children to make extended visits to their country of origin — described here as "re-education trips" —in that way damaging their "schooling, language and well-being." Another would allow local authorities to increase their monitoring and surveillance of "ghetto" families.

    Some proposals have been rejected as too radical, like one from the far-right Danish People's Party that would confine "ghetto children" to their homes after 8 p.m. (Challenged on how this would be enforced, Martin Henriksen, the chairman of Parliament's integration committee, suggested in earnest that young people in these areas could be fitted with electronic ankle bracelets.)

    At this summer's Folkemodet, an annual political gathering on the island of Bornholm, the justice minister, Soren Pape Poulsen, shrugged off the rights-based objection.

    "Some will wail and say, 'We're not equal before the law in this country,' and 'Certain groups are punished harder,' but that's nonsense," he said, adding that the increased penalties would affect only people who break the law.

    To those claiming the measures single out Muslims, he said: "That's nonsense and rubbish. To me this is about, no matter who lives in these areas and who they believe in, they have to profess to the values required to have a good life in Denmark."

    Yildiz Akdogan, a Social Democrat whose parliamentary constituency includes Tingbjerg, which is classified as a ghetto, said Danes had become so desensitized to harsh rhetoric about immigrants that they no longer register the negative connotation of the word "ghetto" and its echoes of Nazi Germany's separation of Jews.

    "We call them 'ghetto children, ghetto parents,' it's so crazy," Ms. Akdogan said. "It is becoming a mainstream word, which is so dangerous. People who know a little about history, our European not-so-nice period, we know what the word 'ghetto' is associated with."

    She pulled out her phone to display a Facebook post from a right-wing politician, railing furiously at a Danish supermarket for selling a cake reading "Eid Mubarak," for the Muslim holiday of Eid. "Right now, facts don't matter so much, it's only feelings," she said. "This is the dangerous part of it."

    For their part, many residents of Danish "ghettos" say they would move if they could afford to live elsewhere. On a recent afternoon, Ms. Naassan was sitting with her four sisters in Mjolnerparken, a four-story, red brick housing complex that is, by the numbers, one of Denmark's worst ghettos: forty-three percent of its residents are unemployed, 82 percent come from "non-Western backgrounds," 53 percent have scant education and 51 percent have relatively low earnings.

    The Naassan sisters wondered aloud why they were subject to these new measures. The children of Lebanese refugees, they speak Danish without an accent and converse with their children in Danish; their children, they complain, speak so little Arabic that they can barely communicate with their grandparents. Years ago, growing up in Jutland, in Denmark's west, they rarely encountered any anti-Muslim feeling, said Sara, 32.

    "Maybe this is what they always thought, and now it's out in the open," she said. "Danish politics is just about Muslims now. They want us to get more assimilated or get out. I don't know when they will be satisfied with us."

    Rokhaia, her due date fast approaching, flared with anger at the mandatory preschool program approved by the government last month: Already, she said, her daughter was being taught so much about Christmas in kindergarten that she came home begging for presents from Santa Claus.

    "Nobody should tell me whether or how my daughter should go to preschool. Or when," she said. "I'd rather lose my benefits than submit to force."

    Barwaqo Jama Hussein, 18, a Somali refugee, noted that many immigrant families, including her own, had been settled in "ghetto" neighborhoods by the government. She moved to Denmark when she was 5 and has lived in the Tingbjerg ghetto area since she was 13. She said the politicians' description of "parallel societies" simply did not fit her, or Tingbjerg.

    "It hurts that they don't see us as equal people," she said. "We actually live in Danish society. We follow the rules, we go to school. The only thing we don't do is eat pork."

    About 12 miles south of the city, in the middle-class suburb of Greve, though, voters gushed with approval over the new laws.

    "They spend too much Danish money," said Dorthe Pedersen, a hairdresser, daubing chestnut dye on a client's hairline. "We pay their rent, their clothing, their food, and then they come in broken Danish and say, 'We can't work because we've got a pain.'"

    Her client, Anni Larsen, told a story about being invited by a Turkish immigrant to their child's wedding and being scandalized to discover that the guests were separated by gender and seated in different rooms. "I think there were only 10 people from Denmark," she said, appalled. "If you ask me, I think they shouldn't have invited us."

    Anette Jacobsen, 64, a retired pharmacist's assistant, said she so treasured Denmark's welfare system, which had provided her four children with free education and health care, that she felt a surge of gratitude every time she paid her taxes, more than 50 percent of her yearly income. As for immigrants using the system, she said, "There is always a cat door for someone to sneak in."

    "Morally, they should be grateful to be allowed into our system, which was built over generations," she said.

    Her husband, Jesper, a former merchant sailor whose ship once docked in Lebanon, said he had watched laborers there being shot for laziness and replaced by truckloads of new workers gathered in the countryside.

    "I think they are 300 to 400 years behind us," Jesper said.

    "Their culture doesn't fit here," Anette said.

    The new hard-edge push to force Muslims to integrate struck both of them as positive. "The young people will see what it is to be Danish and they will not be like their parents," Jesper said.

    "The grandmothers will die sometime," Anette said. "They are the ones resisting change."

    By focusing heavily on the collective cost of supporting refugee and immigrant families, the Danish People's Party has won many voters away from the center-left Social Democrats, who had long been seen as the defenders of the welfare state. With a general election approaching next year, the Social Democrat party has shifted to the right on immigration, saying tougher measures are necessary to protect the welfare state.

    Nearly 87 percent of Denmark's 5.7 million people are of Danish descent, with immigrants and their descendants accounting for the rest. Two-thirds of the immigrants, around half a million, are from Muslim backgrounds, a group that swelled with the waves of Afghan, Iraqi and Syrian refugees crossing Europe.

    Critics would say "the state cannot force children away from their parents in the daytime, that's disproportionate use of force," said Rune Lykkeberg, the editor in chief of Dagbladet Information, a left-liberal daily newspaper. "But the Social Democrats say, 'We give people money, and we want something for this money.' This is a system of rights and obligations."

    Danes have a high level of trust in the state, including as a central shaper of children's ideology and beliefs, he said. "The Anglo-Saxon conception is that man is free in nature, and then comes the state" constraining that freedom, he said. "Our conception of freedom is the opposite, that man is only free in society."

    "You could say, of course, parents have the right to bring up their own kids," he added. "We would say they do not have the right to destroy the future freedom of their children."

    Of course, he added, "There is always a strong sense of authoritarian risk."

    Ms. Hussain, the high school student from Tingbjerg, is accustomed to anti-immigrant talk surging ahead of elections, but says this year it is harsher than she can ever remember.

    "If you create new kinds of laws that apply to only one part of society, then you can keep adding to them," she said. "It will turn into the parallel society they're so afraid of. They will create it themselves."

    Anna Schaverien contributed reporting from London.




    2) Woman Assaulted Black Boy After Telling Him He 'Did Not Belong' at Pool, Officials Say

    By Sarah Mervosh, July 1, 2018

    Stephanie Sebby-Strempel, who the authorities say hit a black teenager at a neighborhood pool and told him and his friends to leave because they did not belong there, has been charged with assault.CreditDorchester County, S.C., Detention Center

    First, there was BBQ Becky.

    Then came Permit Patty.

    Now, a South Carolina woman has been nicknamed Pool Patrol Paula after a widely shared video showed her accosting a black boy and his friends at a neighborhood pool, telling them to "get out" or she would call the police.

    "There's three numbers I could dial: 911. O.K.?" the woman said in the video, which was posted on Facebook on June 24 and was viewed more than a million times in a week. "Get out! Little punks."

    The authorities identified the woman as Stephanie Sebby-Strempel, 38, of Summerville, S.C., according to The News & Observer. The newspaper reported that she told the boy, 15, and his friends that "they did not belong" at the pool, instructed them to leave and hit the teenager in his face and chest.

    The teenager had been invited to the private community pool by a friend who lived in the neighborhood, his lawyer, Marvin Pendarvis, said.

    Ms. Sebby-Strempel was charged with third-degree assault related to the teenager, as well as two counts of assaulting a police officer while resisting arrest, The News & Observer reported.

    She could not be reached for comment. Representatives for the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office were unavailable to comment.

    The episode comes after other cases of the police being called on black people for minor or nonexistent transgressions, such as taking a nap in a Yale common room or sitting down and asking to use the restroom in a Starbucks without buying anything.

    Some of these cases — often involving white people — have spawned alliterative nicknames for those at the center of the episode: #BBQBecky, for a white woman in Oakland, Calif., who called the police on black men for using a charcoal grill in a park; #PermitPatty, for a white woman in San Francisco who appeared to call the authorities on an 8-year-old black girl for "illegally selling water without a permit"; and now #PoolPatrolPaula, for Ms. Sebby-Strempel.

    Ms. Sebby-Strempel appeared to target the only black children at the pool at the time, Mr. Pendarvis said. He said his client's name was not being released because he is a minor.

    "She obviously took a look at them and said they don't belong there," Mr. Pendarvis said. "She had no reason to single them out. They weren't doing anything."

    It's unclear what happened leading up to the video clip, which shows Ms. Sebby-Strempel swatting at the camera. Mr. Pendarvis said she hit his client after the recording ended.

    The teenager's mother, Deanna RocQuermore, condemned the attack on her son at a news conference, the television station WCSC reported.

    "No child, including mine or anybody else's, ever, ever deserves that type of abuse or treatment or to be struck not once, not twice but three times by someone that is upset because of the color of someone's skin," she said.

    Ms. Sebby-Strempel was released from jail on $65,000 bail on Tuesday, according to the Dorchester County Detention Center. (Jail records identified her by a single last name, Strempel.)

    At a bond hearing that day, her legal representative told the judge that there was more than one side to the story, WCSC reported.




    3) The Things They Carried: Items Confiscated From Migrants in the Last Decade

    By Laura M. Holson, July 2, 2018

    "Pink Combs and Brushes," a photograph taken in 2012 by Tom Kiefer, who worked as a janitor at a Customs and Border Protection center in Arizona for more than a decade. He collected items confiscated by Border Patrol agents from migrants crossing the United States border with Mexico. Combs, brushes and mirrors were considered nonessential and possibly dangerous, he said. "They are discarded when migrants arrive."CreditTom Kiefer

    For Tom Kiefer, they were symbols of humanity.

    Half-used bars of soap. Bibles with pages earmarked and worn from prayer. Wallets with credit cards and driver's licenses. And lots of unopened cans of tuna.

    For more than a decade, Mr. Kiefer worked as a janitor at the Customs and Border Protection center in Why, Ariz., before leaving in 2014.

    There, he collected tens of thousands of items that were confiscated and thrown in the trash by Border Patrol agents from undocumented migrants crossing the border from Mexico into the United States. He began photographing the items in 2007. 

    "I couldn't leave them," he said.

    The result was "El Sueño Americano" (The American Dream), a series of 600 photographs that has been exhibited at museums and galleries and has drawn considerable media attention. In October, more than 100 of those photographs will go on view at Michigan's Saugatuck Center for the Arts.

    Mr. Kiefer began working with Customs and Border Protection in 2003, during the George W. Bush administration, and left late into Barack Obama's second term.

    When migrants are apprehended, Daniel Hernandez, a Border Patrol spokesman, said agents confiscate items migrants carry with them, much like when a person is admitted to jail. Even as the immigration debate has reignited under President Trump, Mr. Hernandez said that little has changed with regard to what undocumented migrants are allowed to keep when stopped by agents.

    Items are cataloged, stored and, later, returned, he said. But possessions are often left behind and end up in the trash: soiled clothing, books, wallets and photographs. Other items are seized, including food, lighters, knives and anything deemed dangerous.

    In an interview, Mr. Kiefer, who lives in Ajo, Ariz., discussed several photographs he took of confiscated items. His comments have been condensed for clarity.

    'Tuny,' 2014

    Mr. Kiefer first came across the confiscated items when he was rummaging through trash looking for packaged food to donate to a food bank. There, he found cans of tuna fish, a rich source of protein and easy to carry. "Perfectly good food was being thrown away," he said. "The agents didn't like seeing food thrown away either. So I started to collect it. Then I started seeing other things, like Bibles and toys and rosaries. It was so heartbreaking. I couldn't let those things remain in the trash."

    'Oral Hygiene,' 2013

    "The first thing that surprised me was seeing all the toothbrushes," Mr. Kiefer said. "There were dozens and dozens of them in the trash. I wasn't thinking of collecting them in memoriam. I was thinking they should not go in the landfill. I found Swiss Army knives. Combs. I found half full bottles of water. That was annoying. I had to empty them out. But that was my job."

    'Nuevo Testamentos,' 2013

    "I've never done a complete inventory, but I have 15 to 20 of them," Mr. Kiefer said of the Bibles he collected. "There were these pocket-size New Testament Gideons Bibles that came out of Tennessee. They were printed in Spanish. So I called the company in Tennessee and explained that I live near the border and wanted to know more about them. I was curious about how these were distributed and who they went to. The woman I talked to thought I was doing some kind of investigative report. She never told me."

    'Billfolds and Wallets,' 2013

    "They'd still have their identification in the wallet," Mr. Kiefer said of the many billfolds and wallets he found in the trash. "And credit cards. It was just cruel. They were safe with me, but it didn't seem right that the janitor could find this. These should be secure."

    'Gloves,' 2013

    "When people see this, they reference the Holocaust Museum," Mr. Kiefer explained, speaking of the thousands of shoes confiscated at concentration camps that are on display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. "I don't feel comfortable talking about that."

    'Soap,' 2013

    "The migrants would be required to give up their backpacks," he said. "The agents would go through them and toss out what they could. Agents found soap in the backpacks. It didn't even dawn on me to collect soap. I mean, they couldn't even have their own soap."

    'Condoms' 2014; 'Contraceptives,' 2013

    All types of birth control were confiscated at the border, Mr. Kiefer said. He readily spotted packaged condoms, but he said birth control pills were harder to identify because the packaging was less obvious to him. "I have packages of over-the-counter medicine," he said. "I had to figure this out along the way."

    'Toy Car Pile-Up,' 2016

    Mr. Kiefer moved to Ajo, Ariz., in 2001, which is 10 miles from the Border Patrol center in Why. There, he could afford to own his own home and pursue his love of photography. "I have a studio where I store everything in boxes, hundreds of boxes," he said. He was struck by the number of toys he found in trash bags, including a Curious George stuffed animal, dolls and dozens of metal cars. "I wanted to follow in the footsteps of Walker Evans and Robert Frank," he said, referring to famous photographers who documented American life. "I wanted to photograph America."

    Laura M. Holson is an award-winning feature writer from New York. She joined The Times in 1998 and has written about Hollywood, Wall Street and Silicon Valley. A movie producer once held a butter knife to her neck.



    4)  820 Children Under 6 in Public Housing Tested High for Lead

    By Luis Ferré-Sadurní,  July 1, 2018

    The Grant Houses in Harlem, one of scores of developments run by the New York City Housing Authority where lead paint has been found in apartments.CreditJoshua Bright for The New York Times


    Even though the New York City Housing Authority has been under a microscope for flouting lead-paint safety regulations for years, the exact number of children residing in public housing poisoned by lead was never disclosed.

    Over the weekend, the city department of health offered a number: It said that 820 children younger than 6 were found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood between 2012 and 2016.

    The children tested positive for lead levels of 5 to 9 micrograms per deciliter, the minimum amount for which the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that localities intervene. The health department sent "detailed letters" alerting the children's parents and health care providers and offering guidance on how to reduce exposure, said Olivia Lapeyrolerie, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio.

    But the health department did not inspect apartments the children lived in because the city policy — which city officials say follows federal recommendations — requires a lead level of 10 micrograms per deciliter before an apartment would be inspected and Nycha, as the housing authority is known, would be notified.

    The number of cases, first reported by The New York Daily News, is significantly larger than noted by the United States attorney last month in a civil complaint filed against Nycha after a yearslong investigation that accused it of mismanagement and malfeasance.

    Federal prosecutors said that at least 19 children were found to have been exposed to deteriorated lead paint in their Nycha apartments. But they cautioned that "this number understates the true extent of the harm likely caused by Nycha's violations."

    Ms. Lapeyrolerie said "the city has never said that the 19 were the entire universe of Nycha with lead exposure."

    The new number expands the extent of lead paint exposure in New York City's public housing complexes after the housing authority admitted in a consent decree that there was lead paint inside apartments in at least 92 of its 325 housing developments. The authority also admitted that it failed to inspect for lead paint hazards from at least 2012 to 2016 and to ensure that its staff was trained to safely remediate the hazard.

    As part of the consent decree, the authority is awaiting a court-appointed monitor who will ensure the agency's compliance with regulations and oversee an infusion of at least $2 billion in operational and capital funds from the city.

    The higher number outraged some officials, including the city comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, who said in a statement that his office would investigate "the city's procedures for addressing lead poisoning hazards to protect the health of all children."

    "It is horrifying that the department of health kept this information under wraps and it is outrageous that the city continues to justify and minimize this scandal," Mr. Stringer said.

    In response, Ms. Lapeyrolerie said that the health department always abided by federal guidelines.

    Lead can cause devastating harm in children, stunting their intellectual growth and affecting cardiovascular, hormone and immune systems.

    A health department official said the city has recently changed its policy and has begun inspecting all Nycha apartments where children under 18 years old have been found with a lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter or more. And, on Sunday, the city said it would expand that policy citywide by the end of the year.

    "We expect to reach thousands of children this way," said Corinne Schiff, the deputy commissioner of environmental health at the health department.

    The data released by city officials also showed that the number of children under age 6 in public housing with elevated blood levels has steadily decreased from 229 in 2012 to 114 in 2016. Health officials said the five-year figure of 820 represents primarily individual children rather than the same children being tested year after year. Close to one-third of the 400,000 residents living in public housing are children.

    Citywide, childhood lead poisoning has decreased by 87 percent from 37,344 cases in 2005 to 4,928 in 2016.

    Dr. Philip Landrigan, a professor of preventive medicine and pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said new research has shown that lead is toxic even at low levels.

    "The city is responding to new information," Dr. Landrigan said. "I think the city is trying to do the right thing here."



    5) This Tweet Captures the State of Health Care in America Today

    By The Editorial Board, July 2, 2018


    A nightmarish accident on a Boston subway platform on Friday — described in gory detail by a local reporter, Maria Cramer, as it unfolded and quickly retweeted by thousands — is one you might expect to see in an impoverished country.

    Awful scene on the orange line. A woman's leg got stuck in the gap between the train and the platform. It was twisted and bloody. Skin came off. She's in agony and weeping. Just as upsetting she begged no one call an ambulance. "It's $3000," she wailed. "I can't afford that."



    6) An ICE Raid Leaves an Iowa Town Divided Along Faith Lines

    By Trip Gabriel, July 3, 2018


    The president's immigration policies created a sharp, unexpected fracture in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, after federal agents raided a concrete plant in the town. "Relationships and everything are all of a sudden up for grabs," State Representative Dave Heaton said.CreditWilliam Widmer for The New York Times

    MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa — In the days after immigration agents raided a dusty concrete plant on the west side of town, seizing 32 men from Mexico and Central America, the Rev. Trey Hegar, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, got into an impassioned argument on his Facebook page.

    "The Bible doesn't promote helping criminals!!!!" a Trump supporter wrote.

    Mr. Hegar answered with Leviticus: "When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt."

    The Trump supporter came back with the passage in the Gospel of Mark about rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and added for good measure: "Immigration laws are good and Godly! We elected our leaders and God allowed it."

    President Trump's immigration crackdown has been promoted with biblical righteousness by senior members of his administration, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And in heartland communities where the president is popular, the crackdown is often debated — by supporters and critics alike — through the lens of Christian morality.

    In Mount Pleasant, a town of 8,500 in rural southeast Iowa that voted heavily for Mr. Trump, the president's immigration policies created a sharp, unexpected fracture in the days after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents descended, on May 9. Fault lines appeared among public officials, businesses and, especially, the town's many churches.

    "This whole immigration thing has been an abstraction," said State Representative Dave Heaton, a Republican from Mount Pleasant. "It's been on TV and in the newspapers. And all of a sudden it's here in our town. Relationships and everything are all of a sudden up for grabs."

    It was a few weeks before parent-child separations at the border exploded into the news, exposing divisions among faith groups nationally. Mainline Protestant churches harshly condemned Mr. Trump for his policy of separating families. Evangelical leaders also deplored the separations, although they largely deflected blame away from Mr. Trump. The expressions of dismay helped to drive his eventual retreat from the policy, but they reflected the same interfaith divide that opened in Mount Pleasant over the workplace raid, another facet of the administration's "zero tolerance" policy.

    Mr. Hegar, a Texan who served four years in the Marines before attending a Presbyterian seminary, finally asked the Trump supporter he was debating on Facebook: "Which Scripture do we obey?"

    He answered himself: "The one from Jesus to 'Do unto others' is what we choose."

    Mr. Hegar's church on Walnut Street is across from the site of Mount Pleasant's most popular event, a Labor Day festival of steam-powered tractors and other farm machinery. In the days and weeks after the raid, the church became a hectic crossroads for family members of the detained men and their supporters. Parishioners in a group called Iowa Welcomes Immigrant Neighbors raised $80,000 to help detainees' families pay rent, utilities and legal fees.

    Other mainline Protestant churches, including the Lutherans, contributed to the fund, as did the Catholics at St. Alphonsus, where a Spanish Mass is held once a month. Notably absent from the donor roll, though, were Mount Pleasant's evangelical churches.

    Mr. Hegar said he heard relatives of a detained man say that the pastor of the evangelical church they have attended for years had not called to ask if he could help them. "My heart breaks for that," Mr. Hegar said.

    The town's evangelical pastors, whom he knows, are compassionate individuals, he said, "but to see nothing, after something like this in their backyards — I'm shocked."

    He attributed their silence to the strong political alignment between American evangelicals and Mr. Trump, who counts heavily on their votes.

    "The nationalistic politics and theology goes hand in hand now," Mr. Hegar said. "It drives me crazy when we don't practice what Jesus preaches because of the mix of religion and national politics."

    Pastors of three leading evangelical churches in Mount Pleasant declined repeated requests over several weeks seeking comment for this article.

    One evangelical pastor who did agree to an interview in the days after the raid was Jim Erwin, the head of Wellspring Evangelical Free Church. He said no one from the mainline churches had suggested he raise money; if they had, he said, he might have chipped in.

    But Mr. Erwin added that he believed the detentions were justified: "Because they're breaking the law, I recognize the authorities do need to come in and do that."

    On a day in mid-May when the president referred to immigrants who join gangs as "animals," more than 100 people crowded into the fellowship hall of the First Presbyterian Church, including about 25 wives and children of the detained men.

    Walfred Urizar-Lopez, 15, said that he and his father, Elmer Urizar-Lopez, 41, fled Guatemala for their lives after a gang tried to recruit Walfred as a drug courier. His father had gone to the police, but their advice was to cooperate with the drug-runners; his father refused.

    "The gang told my dad he has no idea what kind of problems he will have," Walfred said at the church, speaking through a translator.

    The arrest of his father in the factory raid left Walfred, a high school sophomore, alone in Mount Pleasant. In jeans and a flannel shirt, he thrust his hands into his pockets and fought back tears.

    "His situation right now, it's very bad," said Eneida Carillo, whose family, also from Guatemala, had taken Walfred in. She said a lawyer had told them that day that Walfred's father would probably be deported. Ms. Carillo began to cry

    "As soon as his dad gets back, they will probably kill him,'' she said.

    When Mr. Hegar spoke at the church meeting, he paused after each line to let Dina Saunders, who teaches English as a second language at the middle school, translate into Spanish.

    "I am tired," the pastor said.

    "Estoy cansado."

    "I am tired of people talking about my neighbors breaking the law, when our country is breaking our own laws. By dividing up families. Separating women from children. Treating people seeking a better life like criminals.

    "My church — "

    "Mi iglesia."

    "— is your church."

    "Es su iglesia."

    Workplace raids like the one in Mount Pleasant were de-emphasized by the Obama administration, but they have been stepped up sharply under Mr. Trump. Experts say the raids are meant to deter immigrants from showing up for work or entering the country to seek jobs. Raids at 7-Elevens across the country in January and at a Tennessee slaughterhouse in April made headlines; scores of workers were detained at Ohio meatpacking plants in late June.

    No charges have been filed against the owners of the Midwest Precast Concrete plant in Mount Pleasant that was raided. An ICE spokesman declined to comment, citing a continuing investigation.

    According to Robin Clark-Bennett of the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, 23 of the 32 arrested men have been released on bond, three have been deported and five remain in jail facing criminal charges.

    While emotions ran high at the meeting in the fellowship hall, not everyone in Mount Pleasant, nor even at First Presbyterian, sided with Mr. Hegar.

    "I agree with our president: our borders, we can't open it to everybody," said Rusty King, the church's custodian, the following day.

    "We've got enough poor people here in Iowa that need help," Mr. King said. "I work three jobs and still live paycheck to paycheck."

    After an initial conversation with a reporter about immigration, he seemed to avoid follow-up calls and texts. But he had a granddaughter, Angel King, pass along a Facebook post written by a young man from Mount Pleasant that echoed Mr. King's own views.

    "I can't hold my tongue any longer," Garret Carlston wrote in the post on May 10, when supporters of the detainees were rallying at the Henry County Courthouse. "I feel bad for the families that are going to be torn apart by this but it's hard for me to sit here and act like it isn't the fault of the people who brought them across the border."

    He wrote that the vigil-keepers lacked sympathy for American citizens. "What about the ones living in Mount Pleasant who couldn't find a job because they were employing illegal immigrants instead?"

    The view that immigrants take jobs from citizens or depress wages was a common one, but it was disputed by local business owners. The unemployment rate in Henry County is 2.9 percent, and many factories display "Hiring" signs.

    Gary Crawford, who owns Mt. Pleasant Tire ("We keep you rolling"), said he paid tire installers $16 to $24 an hour, with full benefits. "I know most of the people who run the factories," he said. "They just can't find help."

    Mr. Crawford belongs to St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, and on the Sunday after the ICE raid, he heard Father Paul Connolly, with the detained men in mind, devote his homily to the Good Samaritan, the exemplar of caring for strangers. "All of us were immigrants at one time," the priest said.

    A few days after the church meeting, Angel King, the custodian's 17-year-old granddaughter, who also helps with the church cleaning, was Windexing the glass doors to the sanctuary.

    She said classmates had started calling her "a mini-Donald Trump" for taking the side of the ICE agents in the raid. The law is the law, she said, and undocumented workers had broken it. "They should go back, and if they really want to come back bad enough, they should go through the process legally," she said.

    Nor did she have much sympathy for families separated by the raids. "Families are torn apart every day," Angel said. She spoke from experience: When she was a young girl, her father went to prison on a drug charge, she said.

    She will study criminal justice in the fall at Southeastern Community College, hoping to become a probation officer. One of her classmates at the college will be Juana Barrios, 19, whose father, Oscar Barrios, was detained at the concrete plant.

    Ms. Barrios said her parents brought her to Iowa illegally from Mexico when she was 3. She is enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which the Trump administration has rescinded, and is studying to be a nurse.

    "They say go back and come here legally," she said. "It's not easy. Most of us don't have money. Most of us are denied."

    Ms. Barrios recalled how she had once made a speech at the Catholic Church, naming her father as her inspiration: "I told him, Dad, I'm going to be the best nurse. I'm going to graduate with the best grades. That's the only way I can think of to repay everything they've done for me — to be successful, and make their dream in my future."

    Her father was released on bond in early June to await a deportation hearing in immigration court, which has a five-year backlog of such cases, according to Bram Elias, a law professor at the University of Iowa. "By doing this raid," he said, "the federal government has turned two dozen folks who were undocumented and living in the shadows into people definitely safe from deportation for five years, and possibly able to work lawfully."



    7)  A Second Philippine Mayor Is Killed in 2 Days

    By Felipe Villamor, July 3, 2018


    A cardboard cutout of Antonio Halili, the mayor of Tanauan City, the Philippines, stood outside his office after he was killed on Monday. Another mayor was shot to death on Tuesday.CreditAaron Favila/Associated Press

    MANILA — A Philippine mayor was fatally shot Tuesday afternoon, one day after a gunman killed another mayor who was publicly supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte's unrelenting war on the drug trade.

    Ferdinand Bote, 57, the mayor of General Tinio, a municipality about 50 miles north of Manila, was in his car when a lone assailant on a motorcycle attacked him, the police said in a statement. Mr. Bote sustained several gunshot wounds to his body and was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

    It was not immediately clear why Mr. Bote was attacked.

    The killing happened a day after Antonio Halili, the mayor of Tanauaun, about 40 miles south of Manila, was killed by a sniper at a flag-raising ceremony. Mr. Halili was known for parading criminal suspects around his city to shame them, but he was himself later accused of dealing drugs.

    Mr. Bote was the fifth Philippine mayor killed during Mr. Duterte's war on the drug trade, which has led to the deaths of thousands of people and drawn condemnation from rights groups. Three of the mayors were on the president's list of 150 Philippine officials — including mayors, judges and police officers — whom he had accused of being involved in drugs.

    Mr. Duterte, who took the presidency in 2016 vowing to dump hundreds of dead drug addicts and pushers into Manila Bay, has been warning local officials that they faced death if they got involved in the drug trade.

    On Monday, he said he suspected that Mr. Halili may have been targeted because he was into drugs. The police had already placed him on a watch list.

    "I heard that Halili died. But I suspect that it's related to drugs. Just a suspicion," Mr. Duterte said Monday, hours after Mr. Halili was attacked. He suggested that Mr. Halili's shaming of drug suspects was a cover for his own misdeeds.

    "He pretends that the illegal drug problem is getting worse. He pretends to parade the drug addicts," the president said. "I don't know who killed him. I said not to get involved in illegal drugs."



    8) Emergency Rooms Run Out of Vital Drugs, and Patients Are Feeling It

    By Katie Thomas, July 1, 2018


    Edwin Alsina, in the bed, arrived at Norwegian American Hospital in Chicago with a racing heart. The staff normally would have administered a drug used to steady an abnormal heart rate, but it wasn't in stock, and when its replacements didn't work, he was admitted overnight.CreditAlyssa Schukar for The New York Times

    CHICAGO — George Vander Linde tapped a code into the emergency room's automated medicine cabinet. A drawer slid open and he flipped the lid, but found nothing inside. 

    Mr. Vander Linde, a nurse, tried three other compartments that would normally contain vials of morphine or another painkiller, hydromorphone. Empty. Empty. Empty.

    The staff was bracing for a busy weekend. Temperatures were forecast for the 90s and summer is a busy time for hospital emergency departments — the time of year when injuries rise from bike accidents, car crashes, broken bottles and gunshots.

    At Norwegian American Hospital and other emergency departments around the country, doctors and nurses have been struggling for months without crucial drugs like morphine, which is used to ease the pain of injuries like broken bones, or diltiazem, a heart drug. Norwegian has been out of morphine since March, and the shortages are part of a nagging problem that has intensified this year as a rash of decades-old staples became scarce.

    Hospitals small and large have been scrambling to come up with alternatives to these standbys, with doctors and nurses dismayed to find that some patients must suffer through pain, or risk unusual reactions to alternative drugs that aren't the best option.

    "So many substances are short, and we're dancing every shift," said Dr. James Augustine, a doctor in Cincinnati who works for US Acute Care Solutions, a company that employs doctors who work in emergency departments for hospitals around the country.

    One of the main companies that makes the drugs, Pfizer, has warned that manufacturing problems at some of its plants will lower supplies of many of its products — like morphine — until next year.

    For years, drug shortages have created a behind-the-scenes scramble as pharmacists, doctors and nurses cobble together fixes that are often invisible to patients. But doctors around the country say the latest shortages are more directly affecting patient care.

    A survey in May of emergency doctors by their professional association, the American College of Emergency Physicians, found that 9 of 10 said they didn't have access to critical medicines, and nearly 4 in 10 said that patients had been negatively affected.

    "The lack of pain medications is a huge issue," said Dr. Benjamin Savitch, who oversees the emergency room at Norwegian American for US Acute Care Solutions. He said that it can be difficult to explain to patients what is happening. "They are often disappointed and frustrated that the system is not functioning at the level it should," he said.

    Like so much in health care, the roots of the drug shortage are complex and seemingly without a simple fix. The vast majority of the products in question are sterile injectable drugs, hospital workhorses that are cheaply priced even though they can be difficult to make. These low margins have led some companies to stop making the drugs, while others have failed to invest in older facilities, leading to a host of quality problems, recalls and plant shutdowns.

    The periodic problems were compounded last fall when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, a major center of pharmaceutical manufacturing, causing a shortage of small saline bags that are a mainstay in hospitals and worsening a yearslong problem with keeping intravenous fluids in stock. 

    But even as that crisis subsided, hospitals began grappling with the aftermath of another industry cataclysm — serious manufacturing problems at Pfizer, the nation's largest maker of generic injectable drugs.

    In February of last year, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to the company for problems at its plant in McPherson, Kan., one of several factories Pfizer took over after it acquired the injectable maker Hospira in 2015. The agency described the plant's manufacturing process as "out of control" and, among other problems, said Pfizer had not properly investigated complaints about vials that contained particles later identified as bits of cardboard. If injected, the agency said the contaminated vials could pose a "significant risk" to patients.

    In September, the agency sent Pfizer another warning letter, that time for problems at its plant in a suburb of St. Louis, where the EpiPen is made. 

    Pfizer names hundreds of products on its list of back-ordered items as it works to fix its plants — the status of many of the drugs is described simply as "depleted," with an "estimated recovery" date of 2019. The problems have led to shortfalls of other products, including some that Pfizer makes for other companies. In May, the F.D.A. placed the EpiPen on its shortage list, as well as a competing product, Adrenaclick, which is also made by Pfizer. EpiPen is sold by Mylan, while Adrenaclick is sold by Impax Laboratories.

    As Pfizer's supplies have run short, competitors have struggled to keep up with demand, depleting their own stock. The shortage of opioids like morphine has been aggravated by federal quotas that restrict the amount of narcotics any one company can manufacture; this spring, Pfizer relinquished part of its federal quota, which was then reallocated to other manufacturers.

    Some of the shortages have become severe enough that the F.D.A. has allowed Pfizer to sell products that normally would have been recalled: In May, Pfizer released morphine and other drugs in cracked syringes, with instructions to health care providers to filter the drugs before injecting them.

    Philip J. Trapskin, the program director of Medication Use Strategy and Innovation at UW Health, the University of Wisconsin-Madison's health system, said such actions pose a risk to patients and said he had instructed his staff to find other suppliers. Otherwise, he said, with about 2,500 nurses in his health care system who might need to use the syringes, "We're kind of setting them up to fail if we give them something that is cracked and compromised."

    In an interview, Pfizer executives said that while the company regretted the effect the shortages were having on patients, it was investing significant resources in getting the plants up to par after taking them over from Hospira. The company plans to spend $800 million by the end of this year, and has pledged to invest at least $1.3 billion over the next five years. "We are completely aware of the essential nature of our portfolio," said Navin Katyal, the general manager for the Pfizer Injectables unit in the United States. "The patient is truly our North Star. It's driving our urgency to recover."

    Mr. Katyal also said that while many supplies won't return to normal until next year, Pfizer is continuing its manufacturing — albeit at a slower pace — while the plants are being fixed and some of the most critical shortages are expected to be eased by the end of the year.

    The current state of drug shortages doesn't look that bad by the numbers. According to a recent report by the F.D.A., the agency said it had tracked just 39 new product shortages in 2017, compared with a peak of 251 in 2011. And while the F.D.A. described 2017 as a "challenging year," it also said it had successfully prevented shortages of 145 products by taking actions such as allowing imports of certain products.

    But Erin Fox, who tracks drug shortages at the University of Utah, said the figures don't reflect the intensity of the gaps in supplies. "We've had all of these shortages before at different times, but what's harder about it right now is that it's all at once," she said.

    Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the F.D.A. commissioner, acknowledged in an interview that while the agency has made progress, it has not solved the underlying problem, where manufacturers earn a slim margin on products that are difficult to produce. "We are still in the position of trying to put a Band-Aid on a market that fundamentally hasn't changed," he said. 

    Dr. Gottlieb said he planned to act shortly on a recent request by members of Congress to look more broadly at the issue. One action, he said, could involve imposing more requirements on manufacturers, while at the same time working with programs like Medicare to increase reimbursement for certain drugs, as when they are used in outpatient clinics.

    "Today it's one drug, tomorrow is going to be another drug," Dr. Gottlieb said. "We've got to think of something more holistic and comprehensive."

    On a recent weekday at Norwegian American, the emergency room had been relatively quiet. But two patients in the intensive care unit were suffering because the emergency room staff did not have the right drugs to give them.

    One man, Edwin Alsina, 72, had arrived the night before complaining of a racing heart. The staff normally would have administered diltiazem, also known as Cardizem, that is used to steady an abnormal heart rate. But diltiazem was out of stock, and when two other drugs — adenosine and metoprolol — didn't work, Mr. Alsina was admitted overnight. By Thursday, he was receiving a steady drip of another drug, esmolol, but his heart rate was still 140 beats per minute.

    Another man, Barbaro Gonzalez, 62, had shown up at the hospital earlier in the day with chest pains. Mr. Gonzalez said he has frequently visited the hospital to treat his pain and morphine usually does the trick. But this time, doctors had to give him another opioid, fentanyl, which Mr. Gonzalez said didn't work as well. He seemed resigned to his fate. With a nurse translating his Spanish, he said, "If they don't have the medication, you've got to live with it."

    Drug shortages are often unpredictable and regional in nature. While Dr. Savitch and his staff have struggled with a lack of morphine and diltiazem, Dr. Augustine in Ohio was out of the anti-nausea drug ondansetron. An alternative medication, promethazine, treats nausea but can cause a severe and uncomfortable reaction in some patients, where the face and other muscles spasm involuntarily.

    Ondansetron, also known as Zofran, has been a standard nausea treatmentfor so long, Dr. Augustine said, that many younger doctors have never seen the muscle spasms sometimes caused by promethazine, an older drug. 

    Dr. Augustine said he meets regularly with emergency physicians from overseas, and his foreign colleagues are stumped by his stories of struggles with drug shortages. 

    "Our compatriots are just wondering, how can this happen in America?" he said.

    Katie Thomas covers the business of health care, with a focus on the drug industry. She started at The Times in 2008 as a sports reporter.



    9) Back to Red Onion State Prison: Rashid's return to the original scene of criminal abuse

    By Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, July 2, 2018


    Founded on lies, racism and abuse

    After six years of being bounced from state to state, having been exiled from the Virginia prison system for my political views and years of publicizing and resisting the brutal and racist abuses in its prisons, on June 12, 2018, I was returned to Red Onion State Prison (ROSP) in remote Wise County, Va.

    Even before I began publicizing these conditions – at ROSP in particular – organizations like Human Rights Watch were reporting on them, bringing almost instant notoriety to ROSP after it opened in 1998, and its staff body – drawn from within and around southwest Virginia's racially segregated, isolated white mountain communities – as brutal and racist to the extreme.

    In its 1999 report[1], HRW exposed how ROSP's disproportionately non-white prisoner population was being gratuitously beaten, electrocuted and shot with shotguns, routinely called racist names, mocked and caricatured with racist stereotypes, and subjected to a range of additional mistreatments by Red Onion staff.

    Also exposed by that and further reports was that this prison – as was its sister supermax Wallens Ridge State Prison (WRSP) built only a few miles away and opening a year after ROSP – were never needed for legitimate prison security reasons. Instead, they were actually constructed at great public expense to create jobs and subsidize industries in a poor region suffering massive job losses due to the closing of many of the region's coal mines, caused by the introduction of mountaintop removal strip mining by coal companies and the general decline in the demand for coal.

    Not coincidentally, both ROSP and WRSP were built on top of mountains whose tops had been removed by strip mining. In fact, one can see huge pools of black toxic waste from this process all around WRSP.

    The cycle of window dressing

    Every few years new abuse scandals have surfaced and/or the latest official rationales concocted to justify continuing to operate these unneeded, expensive prisons are exposed as lies, prompting a reshuffling of administrative personnel and the invention of a new set of justifications for their continuing to operate.

    It only amounts to window dressing – merely changing the curtains while the house and landscape remain the same, which is exactly what I returned to on June 12.

    A dramatic police escort

    Officials at these remote prisons have a knack for the sensational, which is consistent with their need to make themselves and their useless prisons seem important.

    When I was flown back to Virginia from the Florida prison system on a Virginia prison plane, I was met at the local county airport by two ranking ROSP guards accompanied by a military armed five car escort from the Wise County Sheriff's Department.

    Sheriff's deputies in bulletproof gear brandishing assault rifles took up positions around the plane, while one trailed me to the transport van with a large unmuzzled dog. I was squeezed into a tiny metal compartment in back of the van and driven at high speed to Red Onion, with three sheriff cars behind us and two in front – their lights flashing and sirens blaring – forcing all cars along the way off the road.

    Self-portraits drawn over the years show that prison takes a toll … yet the strong survive.

    Thrown in the torture unit

    At ROSP I was met by a mob of guards and separated from the seven bags of personal property I'd brought with me from Florida. I was escorted to an intake area, put through the routine strip search and issued ROSP clothing and bedding. Up to that point everything was uneventful.

    I was then taken to my assigned cell, which I found was in the specially constructed B-3 torture unit which I'd previously written about in 2010 and 2011.[2] For insight into the sinister purposes and design of B-3, readers should check out these prior articles.

    Except for me, the entire 22 cell B-3 cellblock is empty, and since I've been in this pod I've been, unlike any other ROSP prisoner, denied all showers and out-of-cell exercise.

    My belongings are ransacked and destroyed

    On the evening of June 13, a guard, H. Mullins, brought four boxes of my property to my cell which he assured me was all the property brought with me from Florida. Upon receiving and spending all night sorting through it – it had all been ransacked, with all my documents shuffled up together – I found about a fifth of my documentary property was missing. They'd also broken and confiscated my radio, headphones and electric razor.

    As I pressed to have the rest of my property returned to me, speaking to various ranking guards and administrators who came into the pod, I found that during my absence from ROSP, many of the guards who were instrumental in the reported abuses of the prison's early and subsequent years were now running the prison as warden (Jeffrey Kiser), assistant warden (Jeffrey Artrip), security chief (Delmer Tate) and various captains, lieutenants and so on.

    A number of their abuses are described in my prior exposés.[3] In fact I'd previously sued the above named officials and the property department supervisor (Lt. James Lambert), who also went through my property, for past abuses in federal court, conducting a day-long jury trial against them which they attended.

    So, each of them clearly had the motives, positions, and opportunity to destroy my property.

    As I spoke to several of them about my broken and missing property, each told me they'd "check on" it or played the lying game of assuring me that I was given all that came with me from Florida and suggested that maybe Florida damaged it and didn't send it all. Which was BS because everything brought with me was what I'd had in my cell in Florida – I packed it up in Florida and it was with me from when I packed it until I was escorted from the transport van into ROSP's intake area.

    After spending all night sorting through my property, on June 14 around 8 a.m. I was able to speak with Mullins, who admittedly did the ransack job and inventory of my property along with Lt. Lambert. Mullins played the same game.

    When I showed him an inventory from Florida showing my electronics weren't broken when I left, reflecting a malicious mishandling of my belongings when I got to Red Onion and that I was going to press the issue, Mullins left visibly angry and less than an hour later filed a fabricated disciplinary report claiming he'd found a homemade cuff key in my property while searching it on June 13.

    Racially targeted property destruction

    There was also a racist motive to their mishandling my belongings – a hate crime? – as all my books and documents on Black history, culture, political views etc. were also specifically targeted and stolen. This included books and printouts of books like:

    • Assata Shakur, "Assata"
    • Elaine Brown, "A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story"
    • Daniel Fogel, "Africa in Struggle"
    • Charles E. Jones et al, "The Black Panther Party Reconsidered"
    • Mumia Abu Jamal, "We Want Freedom! A Life in the Black Panther Party"
    • Ward Churchill et al, "Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret Wars Against The Black Panther Party and The American Indian Movement"
    • Bobby Seale, "Seize the Time"
    • Joshua Bloom, "Black Against Empire"
    • And many other titles.

    Also stolen were back issues of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party's Right On! newsletter, many of which contained my political articles. Much of this material is relevant to and evidence in litigation challenging my political repression, persecution and slander by prison officials and the history of such by U.S. officials against political groups and activists of color.

    Vampires hate the light of exposure

    Like all prison officials, ROSP officials resent prisoners publicizing and challenging their abuses. It was because of this that I was transferred out of state and subsequently kicked out of three other prison systems. According to the Virginia prison officials who flew me back to Virginia on June 12, Florida called Virginia's DOC headquarters only a few days before with an ultimatum – to come get me "by June 15 or else."

    This came on the heels of outside complaints of abuses I'd brought attention to of others and myself, me and various other Florida prisoners working together to unite prisoners at Florida's notorious Santa Rosa Correctional Institution, where I was confined, whom officials were manipulating into frequent violent clashes, and our organizing a canteen strike for the nationwide prison protests beginning on Juneteenth.

    As for ROSP, it had just been publicized that the same administration of veteran abusers had recently retaliated against another prisoner, Kevin Snodgrass, by fabricating bases for throwing him into solitary confinement because of his litigating against abuses in the prison and his mother's speaking out at an ACLU press conference.[4]

    While taking Snodgrass to solitary, guards threw him against a wall injuring his eye and, as they did to me, broke and confiscated his electronics – his TV and MP3 player. Breaking and taking prisoners' electronics is an old and frequent practice of ROSP.

    In the prison's earlier years, guards in the property department would cause minor damage to prisoners' TVs and radios or remove a screw or two and confiscate the items as "altered." This was most often done to new arrivals.

    They would then repair the damage or replace the screws and resell the appliances as second hand items back to prisoners via the canteen or they'd give them to others to barter for good behavior, as rewards to snitches, or donate them to local charities as a PR scam.

    The frequent damage and confiscation of prisoners' electronics was also a scheme used to generate sales of electronics from the commissary to prisoners to replace those taken from them, from which sales ROSP received kickbacks.

    All of these sorts of mistreatments and retaliation are the norm at ROSP, with the same abusive officials cycled around perpetuating and preserving the culture of abuse.

    Solitary anyone?

    And while ROSP officials are quick to hide their continuing use of solitary confinement behind euphemisms, I am at this very moment being held under the most extreme sort of solitary. I am confined in a cell containing only a sink/commode unit and a steel bunk in an entirely empty cellblock that was designed specifically to impose the highest level of sensory deprivation. The cell's back windows are frosted and black shutters are fixed to the cell door windows, to prevent views of anywhere outside the cell.

    Even more absurd is Red Onion officials have now designated B-3 a mental health pod (or an otherwise special use pod) with "mental health safety cell" now painted prominently at the tops of the cell doors, as if cells they originally designed to inflict harm are now meant to protect one from harm.

    The unchanged reality, however, is it's well-established by medical, mental health and torture experts and extensive studies, and even by the U.S. Supreme Court over 100 years ago,[5] that the very sensory deprivation and loss of environmental stimulation these cells inherently cause and were indeed constructed to impose (over and above all other cells in the prison) inflicts the worst sort of torture and exacerbates and causes mental breakdowns and insanity.

    So why are these cells now designated to house mental health prisoners? Just an example of how much regard they have for those with mental health needs, and another case of their continuing to invent bogus justifications to continue using demonstrably abusive and unneeded cells in a demonstrably abusive and unneeded prison.

    So demonstrably unneeded in fact that I can be housed alone in an entirely empty cellblock. Our hard-earned tax dollars at work, and yes, prisoners pay taxes too.[6] Fact is, our slave labor maintains these warehouses at every level.

    What'm I doing here?

    Actually according to the Virginia DOC's own rules I'm not even supposed to be at Red Onion. Under its Operating Procedure 020.2, which governs "Compact for Interstate Transfer of Incarcerated Offenders," "When out-of-the-state Virginia offenders are returned to Virginia, they will be received and processed as a new prisoner at the appropriate reception center …"

    Well, Red Onion is not a reception center and I am not being processed as a new prisoner. Indeed, I'm confined under the same prisoner ID number as before leaving Virginia in 2012. Although they like calling themselves law enforcement officials, these are not people who obey rules or laws. No irony there.

    Corruption, abuse, Red Onion State Prison. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!

    All Power to the People!


    [1] See, Jamie Fellner, "Red Onion State Prison: Super-Maximum Security Confinement in Virginia" (Human Rights Watch, 1999) http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/redonion/

    [2] Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, "Abu Ghraib Comes to Amerika: Torture Unit Under Construction at Virginia's Red Onion State Prison" (Oct 30, 2010), rashidmod.com/?p=119; Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, "Under New Administration Torture Unit Closes Then Reopens at Red Onion State Prison, and Prison Abuse on the Rise," (Nov. 14, 2011), rashidmod.com/?p=317

    [3] Jeffrey Kiser's role in early abuses at ROSP,  his move to another prison during a "cooling off" period, and return as assistant warden in 2011 to revive extreme physical abuses at the prison is discussed in my article cited in note 2 above, "Under New Administration Torture Unit Closes Then Reopens …"

    Jeffrey Artrip, although not named in my prior published reports (he was named in several that weren't posted online), has an extensive history of physical abuse at Red Onion and was the unit manager of the B-3 torture unit when it was in operation in 2011-2012.

    Delmer Tate is repeatedly mentioned in numerous articles for his role in beating prisoners, setting prisoners up for abuse who've sued him or he's had conflicts with. He was the supervisor of an earlier, supersegregation unit where guards freely beat restrained prisoners, and then supervised B-3 until moved following the controversial death of a prisoner in that building. See both articles cited in note 2 above, also Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, "Red Onion State Prison, an Exposé: Racism and Brutality Equals Kind and Usual Punishment in Virginia" (2004), rashidmod.com/?p=176; see also addendums #2 and #8 to this exposé at rashidmod.com/?p=197 and rashidmod.com/?p=192.

    James Lambert (erroneously named as Donald Lambert) is also mentioned in "Red Onion State Prison, an Exposé" for his role in assaults on prisoners.

    [4] Frank Green, "Mother Says Inmate is Back in Solitary Confinement in Virginia After She Campaigned with ACLU," Richmond Times-Dispatch (May 11, 2018).

    [5] See, In re Medley, 134 U.S. 160 (1890).

    [6]  Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, "No Incarceration or Taxation without Representation: Amerikan Slavery in the 21st Century" (2011) rashidmod.com/?p=321

    Postscript from Rashidmod.com

    This is not the first time Rashid has been in the Virginia prison system – despite having spent years in Oregon, Texas and most recently Florida, he has in fact always been classified as a Virginia prisoner. From 1995 to 2012, Rashid was held at Wallens Ridge and Red Onion State Prisons, in various degrees of solitary confinement.

    Through correspondence, he worked to educate his peers while also reaching out to activists on the outside. Much of the correspondence during this time would form the basis of his first book "Defying the Tomb," published in 2010.

    In 2011, Rashid wrote a series of articles about a new isolation unit being opened at Red Onion, and about ongoing guard abuse that included a "pain-compliance technique" that involves bending prisoners backwards, to the point that they would sometimes break. At the same time, he became well known as the artist who drew the drawing that would serve as an unofficial logo for the historic California hunger strikes that year.

    When guards retaliated by beating Rashid, dislocating his shoulder and tearing his dreadlocks out from his scalp, outside supporters attempted to mobilize to protect him, while calling attention to the abuses he had been documenting for years. In an attempt to pre-empt an embarrassing situation, the Virginia Department of Corrections had Rashid first transferred to Wallens Ridge – where he was openly told by guards that they intended to kill him – and then, in mid-February 2012, he was moved once again, this time out of state.

    Using something called the Interstate Compact, VADOC spent the next six years moving Rashid from one state to another. First Oregon, then Texas, then Florida – in each new location, Rashid set about documenting the abuse that he and other prisoners were subjected to.

    Indeed, besides political theory, the bulk of Rashid's writings and work have been attempting to protect or seek justice for those most vulnerable behind bars – those prisoners whose physical and emotional health issues mark them for abuse from guards and prison medical staff. That he has undertaken this work at often considerable risk to himself has earned him an international reputation as an observer and critic of the U.S. prison system, by far the world's largest.

    It is his work exposing abuse that has prompted his repeated transfers from one state to another.

    And now he is back in Virginia, at Red Onion, the prison where he faced serious abuse in the past. Indeed, he has communicated to his lawyer that the same people are still working there today.

    For this reason, we need to start making calls to Red Onion to demand that he be given his property, that he be removed from solitary and that he not be abused. The phone number is 276-796-7510. Ask to speak with the property manager or the warden.

    Please make calls as soon as you can!

    Please also write to Rashid, to let him know that he is in your thoughts – and also to make it clear to the prisoncrats that he has support: Kevin Johnson, 1007485, Red Onion State Prison, P.O. Box 1900, Pound, VA 24279.
























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