Judge grants latest appeal for Mumia Abu-Jamal, in part

By Kristen Johanson, December 27, 2018

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia judge has re-instated Mumia Abu-Jamal post-conviction appellate rights, more than 35 years after he convicted of killing Philadelphia Police Officer Danny Faulkner in Center City.


City Judge Leon Tucker partially granted Abu-Jamal's appeal, saying former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ron Castille should have recused himself from Abu-Jamal's state Supreme Court appeal attempt "to ensure the neutrality of the judicial process," but simultaneously said the court found no evidence Castille was biased in his decision or had prior significant involvement in the case, as the defense contends.

Abu-Jamal's latest appeal attempt is based on a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving another Philadelphia man, Terrance Williams, who was convicted in a separate murder. The high court ruled Castille should have recused himself from that state Supreme Court decision, because he had "personal significant involvement" as the city's district attorney.  


Castille was the District Attorney when Abu-Jamal was going through his appeal process on the lower-court level.

Abu-Jamal was convicted by a jury in the murder of Faulker in 1982, and he was sentenced to death. But in 2011, then-District Attorney Seth Williams decided to ask for life without the possibility of parole, following a federal appeals court decision that jurors may have received misleading instructions during the trial.

"Justice would best be served by allowing the petitioner (Abu-Jamal) re-argument before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania," wrote Tucker, "before a complete and clearly unbiased tribunal" or court.

In the court filing released Thursday afternoon, Tucker also pointed to two missing documents brought to the court's attention by the defense, which he said should have been held on to by the commonwealth.

The first is a memo from Castille to Deputy District Attorney Gayle Barthold, and the second is a 1988 letter from then-Sen. Michael Fisher asking about status information on certain capital cases. 

"The unavailability of such documents may prejudice petitioner," Tucker added.

The judge also said the commonwealth should have kept all documents related to the case, adding, "It is ironic that the commonwealth accepts no responsibility for the preservation of the memo request from Mr. Castille yet has been able to retain the responsive document from Ms. Barthold that the memo request from Mr. Castille was attached to."

He continues, saying, "The public expectation of impartial justice is necessary. The slightest appearance of bias or lack of impartiality undermines the entire judiciary hence the mandate of not only propriety but the appearance of propriety."

Abu-Jamal's defense attorney, Judith L. Ritter, said in an emailed statement: "Judge Tucker recognized the unconstitutional bias involved with Justice Castille's sitting on the prior post-conviction appeals, and the need for a new appeal untainted by such bias. This was a straightforward application of federal and Pennsylvania law requiring cases to be decided by judges whose impartiality cannot reasonably be questioned."

Abu-Jamal now has 30 days to appeal to the state Superior Court. 























We refuse to pay to protest!

Women's March on the Pentagon, October 2018

For Immediate Release
Contact: CindySheehan@MarchonPentagon.com

What: The day before Thanksgiving, Cindy Sheehan, co-coordinator of the recent Women's March on the Pentagon (WMOP) was presented with a $540.00 gill for "police escort" by the Arlington County Virginia Police Department (ACPD).

Background: Beginning in July, leadership of WMOP began taking steps to secure permits from the two jurisdictions that the WMOP would take on October 21st (51st anniversary of the March on the Pentagon during the Vietnam War): 

Arlington County (brief march) and the Pentagon. Although WMOP eventually obtained a permit from the Pentagon, WMOP was never able to obtain a permit from Arlington County and many phone messages left by DC area Co-ordinator Malachy Kilbride were never returned by the ACPD.

On the day of the March, about 1500 people gathered at the Pentagon City Metro station (for a 12pm March start) in front of the mall and at about 10:30am, to the surprise of March organizers, ACPD showed up and did stop traffic for the brief March through Arlington County.

The organizers of the WMOP are outraged and appalled by this obvious violation of our First Amendment rights to gather "peaceably" and demonstrate one of the sacrosanct rights to our Freedom of Speech. 

The DC area co-ordinator for the WMOP Malachy Kilbride had this to say upon receipt of the bill:  "As a former resident of Arlington County of over 20 years I am disturbed that the county is following in the footsteps of the Trump Administration which wants to charge people for First Amendment activity. Shame on Arlington County! The First Amendment is priceless and shouldn't be monetized."

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF)* the D.C. based non-profit legal organization that works to protect and advance the constitutional rights of protestors has issued the following letter to the ACPD on behalf of the Women's March on the Pentagon:

Chief Jay Farr

Lt. John Feden

Arlington County Police Department

1425 North Courthouse Rd
. Arlington, VA 22201
Dear Chief Farr and Lt. Feden:

We are writing on behalf of Cindy Sheehan in response to Lt. John Feden's e-mail correspondence dated November 21, 2018. 

The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) has issued an invoice to Ms. Sheehan seeking to charge her for engaging in constitutionally protected First Amendment activities. Specifically, the invoice is stated to be "for the police services we provided October 21st during the March On the Pentagon," and demands $540.00 for what is described as "police escort for The Women's March on the Pentagon." 

This attempt to tax free speech is without lawful basis and violates Ms. Sheehan's constitutional rights. We request that this invoice be immediately withdrawn.

Ms. Sheehan did not request police "services," nor was she given prior notice that the ACPD intended to send police to the demonstration and charge her for their time.  At no time did Ms. Sheehan agree to pay for any such charges. 

Indeed, the ACPD actually refused to respond to Ms. Sheehan's efforts to coordinate the First Amendment activities with them. An application for a permit was submitted for the March and thereafter, Arlington Country was nonresponsive to follow up efforts. After failing and refusing to return phone calls regarding the March, the ACDP appeared at the Pentagon City mall in front of the metro stop entrance at the starting point for the march, well before the march was scheduled to step off. At that time Ms. Sheehan expressed her surprise at their presence given their refusal to communicate with the March organizers. 

The ACPD may not charge demonstrators for First Amendment activities at its own discretion. We are requesting that the ACPD provide all policy documents, guidelines, and criteria that the department relies upon in assessing charges on demonstration activities as well as any notice it believes was given to Ms. Sheehan of such policies and procedures. 

We further request that the ACPD issue instructions to personnel consistent with constitutional obligations to ensure that organizers of demonstration activity are not improperly charged in the future.


Mara Verheyden-Hilliard (PCJF)  

The Women's March on the Pentagon adamantly refuses to pay for this appalling violation of our constitutional rights.

*The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund is a free speech and civil rights organization that has defended First Amendment rights for over 20 years in Washington, D.C. and around the country. It is currently challenging the Trump Administration's proposed anti-protest rules that would levy potentially bankrupting fees and costs on demonstrators who engage in constitutionally protected free speech on public parkland in the nation's capital. More information here.

*(Women's) March on the Pentagon is a women-led coalition of activists, professionals, military veterans, and everyday citizens of the world with one thing in common: we are anti-imperialist. More info can be found here.

  This press release can also be found on our website:

Join the Facebook group:



America has spent $5.9 trillion on wars in the Middle East and Asia since 2001, a new study says

  • The U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan have cost American taxpayers $5.9 trillion since they began in 2001.
  • The figure reflects the cost across the U.S. federal government since the price of war is not borne by the Defense Department alone.
  • The report also finds that more than 480,000 people have died from the wars and more than 244,000 civilians have been killed as a result of fighting. Additionally, another 10 million people have been displaced due to violence.
  • https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/14/us-has-spent-5point9-trillion-on-middle-east-asia-wars-since-2001-study.html








Open letter to active duty soldiers on the border
Your Commander-in-chief is lying to you. You should refuse his orders to deploy to the southern U.S. border should you be called to do so. Despite what Trump and his administration are saying, the migrants moving North towards the U.S. are not a threat. These small numbers of people are escaping intense violence. In fact, much of the reason these men and women—with families just like yours and ours—are fleeing their homes is because of the US meddling in their country's elections. Look no further than Honduras, where the Obama administration supported the overthrow of a democratically elected president who was then replaced by a repressive dictator.
Courage to Resist has been running a strategic outreach campaign to challenge troops to refuse illegal orders while on the border, such as their Commander-in-Chief's suggestion that they murder migrants who might be throwing rocks, or that they build and help run concentration camps. In addition to social media ads, About Face, Veterans For Peace, and Courage to Resist, are also printing tens of thousands of these leaflets for distribution near the border. Please consider donating towards these expenses.

Don't turn them away

The migrants in the Central American caravan are not our enemies

Open letter to active duty soldiers
Your Commander-in-chief is lying to you. You should refuse his orders to deploy to the southern U.S. border should you be called to do so. Despite what Trump and his administration are saying, the migrants moving North towards the U.S. are not a threat. These small numbers of people are escaping intense violence. In fact, much of the reason these men and women—with families just like yours and ours—are fleeing their homes is because of the US meddling in their country's elections. Look no further than Honduras, where the Obama administration supported the overthrow of a democratically elected president who was then replaced by a repressive dictator.
"There are tens of thousands of us who will support your decision to lay your weapons down. You are better than your Commander-in-chief. Our only advice is to resist in groups. Organize with your fellow soldiers. Do not go this alone."
These extremely poor and vulnerable people are desperate for peace. Who among us would walk a thousand miles with only the clothes on our back without great cause? The odds are good that your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. lived similar experiences to these migrants. Your family members came to the U.S. to seek a better life—some fled violence. Consider this as you are asked to confront these unarmed men, women and children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. To do so would be the ultimate hypocrisy.
The U.S. is the richest country in the world, in part because it has exploited countries in Latin America for decades. If you treat people from these countries like criminals, as Trump hopes you will, you only contribute to the legacy of pillage and plunder beneath our southern border. We need to confront this history together, we need to confront the reality of America's wealth and both share and give it back with these people. Above all else, we cannot turn them away at our door. They will die if we do.
By every moral or ethical standard it is your duty to refuse orders to "defend" the U.S. from these migrants. History will look kindly upon you if you do. There are tens of thousands of us who will support your decision to lay your weapons down. You are better than your Commander-in-chief. Our only advice is to resist in groups. Organize with your fellow soldiers. Do not go this alone. It is much harder to punish the many than the few.
In solidarity,
Rory Fanning
Former U.S. Army Ranger, War-Resister
Spenser Rapone
Former U.S. Army Ranger and Infantry Officer, War-Resister
Leaflet distributed by:
  • About Face: Veterans Against the War
  • Courage to Resist
  • Veterans For Peace
Courage to Resist has been running a strategic outreach campaign to challenge troops to refuse illegal orders while on the border, such as their Commander-in-Chief's suggestion that they murder migrants who might be throwing rocks, or that they build and help run concentration camps. In addition to social media ads, About Face, Veterans For Peace, and Courage to Resist, are also printing tens of thousands of these leaflets for distribution near the border. Please consider donating towards these expenses.
484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559
www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist*---------*---------*---------*---------*---------*---------*




New "Refuse War" Shirts

We've launched a new shirt store to raise funds to support war resisters.

In addition to the Courage to Resist logo shirts we've offered in the past, we now  have a few fun designs, including a grim reaper, a "Refuse War, Go AWOL" travel theme, and a sporty "AWOL: Support Military War Resisters" shirt.

Shirts are $25 each for small through XL, and bit more for larger sizes. Please allow 9-12 days for delivery within the United States.

50% of each shirt may qualify as a tax-deductible contribution.

Courage to Resist -- Support the Troops who Refuse to Fight!
484 Lake Park Ave. #41, Oakland, CA 94610, 510-488-3559
couragetoresis.org -- facebook.com/couragetoresist







Judge to Soon Rule on Mumia's Appeal Bid
By Kyle Fraser, December 4, 2018
Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker promised a decision on whether a former prosecutor unlawfully took part as a judge in rejecting Mumia Abu Jamal's appeal of his 1981 conviction in the killing of a police officer. "We're not going to stop fighting until we see Mumia walk out of these prison walls," said Johanna Fernandez, of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home. Pam Africa, of the MOVE organization, said Abu Jamal's supporters have sustained his defense for decades "no matter what kind of devious tricks this government has used to try to break this movement."
Listen to a radio report at Black Agenda Report:

Free Mumia Now!
Mumia's freedom is at stake in a court hearing on August 30th. 
With your help, we just might free him!
Check out this video:

This video includes photo of 1996 news report refuting Judge Castille's present assertion that he had not been requested at that time to recuse himself from this case, on which he had previously worked as a Prosecutor:
A Philadelphia court now has before it the evidence which could lead to Mumia's freedom. The evidence shows that Ronald Castille, of the District Attorney's office in 1982, intervened in the prosecution of Mumia for a crime he did not commit. Years later, Castille was a judge on the PA Supreme Court, where he sat in judgement over Mumia's case, and ruled against Mumia in every appeal! 
According to the US Supreme Court in the Williams ruling, this corrupt behavior was illegal!
But will the court rule to overturn all of Mumia's negative appeals rulings by the PA Supreme Court? If it does, Mumia would be free to appeal once again against his unfair conviction. If it does not, Mumia could remain imprisoned for life, without the possibility for parole, for a crime he did not commit.
• Mumia Abu-Jamal is innocent and framed!
• Mumia Abu-Jamal is a journalist censored off the airwaves!
• Mumia Abu-Jamal is victimized by cops, courts and politicians!
• Mumia Abu-Jamal stands for all prisoners treated unjustly!
• Courts have never treated Mumia fairly!
Will You Help Free Mumia?
Call DA Larry Krasner at (215) 686-8000
Tell him former DA Ron Castille violated Mumia's constitutional rights and 
Krasner should cease opposing Mumia's legal petition.
Tell the DA to release Mumia because he's factually innocent.
Write to Mumia at:
Smart Communications/PA DOC
SCI Mahanoy
Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733



A Call for a Mass Mobilization to Oppose NATO, War and Racism
Protest NATO, Washington, DC, Lafayette Park (across from the White House)

1 PM Saturday, March 30, 2019.
Additional actions will take place on Thursday April 4 at the opening of the NATO meeting

April 4, 2019, will mark the 51st anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the internationally revered leader in struggles against racism, poverty and war.

And yet, in a grotesque desecration of Rev. King's lifelong dedication to peace, this is the date that the military leaders of the North American Treaty Organization have chosen to celebrate NATO's 70th anniversary by holding its annual summit meeting in Washington, D.C. This is a deliberate insult to Rev. King and a clear message that Black lives and the lives of non-European humanity really do not matter.   

It was exactly one year before he was murdered that Rev. King gave his famous speech opposing the U.S. war in Vietnam, calling the U.S. government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world" and declaring that he could not be silent.

We cannot be silent either. Since its founding, the U.S.-led NATO has been the world's deadliest military alliance, causing untold suffering and devastation throughout Northern Africa, the Middle East and beyond.

Hundreds of thousands have died in U.S./NATO wars in Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yugoslavia. Millions of refugees are now risking their lives trying to escape the carnage that these wars have brought to their homelands, while workers in the 29 NATO member-countries are told they must abandon hard-won social programs in order to meet U.S. demands for even more military spending.

Every year when NATO holds its summits, there have been massive protests: in Chicago, Wales, Warsaw, Brussels. 2019 will be no exception.

The United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) is calling for a mass mobilization in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 30.  Additional actions will take place on April 4 at the opening of the NATO meeting. 

We invite you to join with us in this effort. As Rev. King taught us, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

No to NATO!
End All U.S. Wars at Home and Abroad!
Bring the Troops Home Now! 
No to Racism! 
The Administrative Committee of UNAC,

To add your endorsement to this call, please go here: http://www.no2nato2019.org/endorse-the-action.html

Please donate to keep UNAC strong: https://www.unacpeace.org/donate.html 

If your organization would like to join the UNAC coalition, please click here: https://www.unacpeace.org/join.html



In Defense of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson

Update on Rashid in Indiana
By Dustin McDaniel

November 9, 2018—Had a call with Rashid yesterday. He's been seen by medical, psych, and
dental. He's getting his meds and his blood pressure is being monitored,
though it is uncontrolled. The RN made recommendations for treatment
that included medication changes and further monitoring, but there's
been no follow up.

He's at the diagnostic center and he (along with everyone else I've
talked to about it) expect that he'll be sent to the solitary
confinement unit at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, though it could
be 30 days from now.

He's in a cell with no property. He has no extra underwear to change
into. The cell is, of course, dirty. He's in solitary confinement. He
didn't say they were denying him yard time. He didn't say there were any
problems with his meals.

They are refusing him his stationary and stamps, so he can't write out.
He gets a very limited number of phone calls per month (1 or 2), and
otherwise can only talk on the phone if a legal call is set up.

They are refusing to give him his property, or to allow him to look
through it to find records relevant to ongoing or planned litigation.
He's already past the statute of limitations on a law suit he planned to
file re abuses in Texas and other deadlines are about to pass over the
next month.

He has 35 banker boxes of property, or 2 pallets, that arrived in IDOC.
He needs to be allowed to look through these records in order to find
relevant legal documents. Moving forward, I think we need to find a
place/person for him to send these records to or they are going to be
destroyed. It would be good if we could find someone who would also take
on the task of organizing the records, getting rid of duplicates or
unnecessary paperwork, digitizing records, and making things easier to
search and access.

Although he does not appear in the inmate locator for IDOC, he does
appears in the JPay system as an Indiana prisoner (#264847). At his
request, I sent him some of his money so hopefully he can get stamps and

Hold off on sending him more money via JPay - I've been told that some
of the IDOC facilities are phasing out JPay and moving to GTL and
wouldn't want to have a bunch of money stuck and inaccessible due to
those changes. If you want to send him more money immediately, send it
to Abolitionist Law Center. You can send it via Paypal to
info@abolitionistlawcenter.org, or mail it to PO Box 8654, Pittsburgh,
PA 15221. We will hold on to it and distribute it according to Rashid's

Please write to him, if you haven't already. He's got nothing to do in
solitary with nothing to read and nothing to write with.

you can also hear a recent interview with Rashid on Final Straw podcast here: https://thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org/post/tag/kevin-rashid-johnson/
Write to Rashid:
Kevin Rashid Johnson's writings and artwork have been widely circulated. He is the author of a book,Panther Vision: Essential Party Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, Minister of Defense, New Afrikan Black Panther Party, (Kersplebedeb, 2010).

Kevin Johnson D.O.C. No. 264847
G-20-2C Pendleton Correctional Facility
4490 W. Reformatory Rd.
Pendleton, IN 46064-9001



Prisoners at Lieber Correctional Institution in South Carolina are demanding recognition of their human rights by the South Carolina Department of Corrections and warden Randall Williams.  Prisoners are also demanding an end to the horrific conditions they are forced to exist under at Lieber, which are exascerbating already rising tensions to a tipping point and people are dying. 
Since the tragedy that occured at Lee Correctional earlier this year, prisoners at all level 3 security prisons in SC have been on complete lockdown, forced to stay in their two-man 9x11 cells 24 hours a day (supposed to be 23 hrs/day but guards rarely let prisoners go to their one hour of rec in a slightly larger cage because it requires too much work, especially when you keep an entire prison on lockdown) without any programming whatsoever and filthy air rushing in all day, no chairs, tables, no radios, no television, no access to legal work, no access to showers, and no light!  Administration decided to cover all the tiny windows in the cells with metal plates on the outside so that no light can come in.  Thousands of people are existing in this manner, enclosed in a tiny space with another person and no materials or communication or anything to pass the time.  
Because of these horific conditions tensions are rising and people are dying. Another violent death took place at Lieber Correctional; Derrick Furtick, 31, died at approximately 9pm Monday, according to state Department of Corrections officials:
Prisoners assert that this death is a result of the kind of conditions that are being imposed and inflicted upon the incarcerated population there and the undue trauma, anxiety, and tensions these conditions create.  
We demand:
- to be let off solitary confinement
- to have our windows uncovered
- access to books, magazines, phone calls, showers and recreation
- access to the law library and our legal cases
- single person cells for any person serving over 20 years
Lieber is known for its horrendous treatment of the people it cages including its failure to evacuate prisoners during Hurricane Florence earlier this year:
Please flood the phone lines of both the governor's and warden's offices to help amplify these demands from behind bars at Lieber Correctional.
Warden Randall Williams:  (843) 875-3332   or   (803) 896-3700
Governor Henry McMaster's office:  (803) 734-2100

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Get Malik Out of Ad-Seg

Keith "Malik" Washington is an incarcerated activist who has spoken out on conditions of confinement in Texas prison and beyond:  from issues of toxic water and extreme heat, to physical and sexual abuse of imprisoned people, to religious discrimination and more.  Malik has also been a tireless leader in the movement to #EndPrisonSlavery which gained visibility during nationwide prison strikes in 2016 and 2018.  View his work at comrademalik.com or write him at:

Keith H. Washington
TDC# 1487958
McConnell Unit
3001 S. Emily Drive
Beeville, TX 78102
Friends, it's time to get Malik out of solitary confinement.

Malik has experienced intense, targeted harassment ever since he dared to start speaking against brutal conditions faced by incarcerated people in Texas and nationwide--but over the past few months, prison officials have stepped up their retaliation even more.

In Administrative Segregation (solitary confinement) at McConnell Unit, Malik has experienced frequent humiliating strip searches, medical neglect, mail tampering and censorship, confinement 23 hours a day to a cell that often reached 100+ degrees in the summer, and other daily abuses too numerous to name.  It could not be more clear that they are trying to make an example of him because he is a committed freedom fighter.  So we have to step up.

Phone zap on Tuesday, November 13

**Mark your calendars for the 11/13 call in, be on the look out for a call script, and spread the word!!**

- Convene special review of Malik's placement in Ad-Seg and immediately release him back to general population
- Explain why the State Classification Committee's decision to release Malik from Ad-Seg back in June was overturned (specifically, demand to know the nature of the "information" supposedly collected by the Fusion Center, and demand to know how this information was investigated and verified).
- Immediately cease all harassment and retaliation against Malik, especially strip searches and mail censorship!

Who to contact:
TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier
Phone: (936)295-6371

Senior Warden Philip Sinfuentes (McConnell Unit)
Phone: (361) 362-2300


Background on Malik's Situation

Malik's continued assignment to Ad-Seg (solitary confinement) in is an overt example of political repression, plain and simple.  Prison officials placed Malik in Ad-Seg two years ago for writing about and endorsing the 2016 nationwide prison strike.  They were able to do this because Texas and U.S. law permits non-violent work refusal to be classified as incitement to riot.

It gets worse.  Malik was cleared for release from Ad-Seg by the State Classification Committee in June--and then, in an unprecedented reversal, immediately re-assigned him back to Ad-Seg.  The reason?  Prison Officials site "information" collected by a shadowy intelligence gathering operation called a Fusion Center, which are known for lack of transparency and accountability, and for being blatant tools of political repression.

Malik remains in horrible conditions, vulnerable to every possible abuse, on the basis of "information" that has NEVER been disclosed or verified.  No court or other independent entity has ever confirmed the existence, let alone authenticity, of this alleged information.  In fact, as recently as October 25, a representative of the State Classification Committee told Malik that he has no clue why Malik was re-assigned to Ad-Seg.  This "information" is pure fiction.   



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
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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:
    Security Processing Center
    Major Tillery AM 9786
    268 Bricker Road
    Bellefonte, PA 16823
    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!

    Art by Leonard Peltier
    Write to:
    Leonard Peltier 89637-132
    USP Coleman 1,  P.O. Box 1033
    Coleman, FL 33521



    Working people are helping to feed the poor hungry corporations! 
    Charity for the Wealthy!





    1)  We Are All Riders on the Same Planet

    Seen from space 50 years ago, Earth appeared as a gift to preserve and cherish. What happened?
    By Matthew Myer Boulton and Joseph Heithaus, December 24, 2018
    The "Earthrise" photograph taken by William Anders on Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve in 1968.

    On Christmas Eve 1968, human beings orbited the moon for the first time. News of the feat of NASA's Apollo 8 mission dominated the front page of The New York Times the next day. Tucked away below the fold was an essay by the poet Archibald MacLeish, a reflection inspired by what he'd seen and heard the night before.
    Even after 50 years, his prescient words speak of the humbling image we now had of Earth, an image captured in a photograph that wouldn't be developed until the astronauts returned: "Earthrise," taken by William Anders, one of the Apollo crew. In time, both essay and photo merged into an astonishing portrait: the gibbous Earth, radiantly blue, floating in depthless black space over a barren lunar horizon. A humbling image of how small we are — but even more, a breathtaking image of our lovely, fragile, irreplaceable home. The Earth as a treasure. The Earth as oasis.
    When the Apollo 8 commander, Frank Borman, addressed Congress upon his return, he called himself an "unlikely poet, or no poet at all" — and quoted MacLeish to convey the impact of what he had seen. "To see the Earth as it truly is," said the astronaut, quoting the poet, "small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold — brothers who know now that they are truly brothers."
    The message offered hope in a difficult time. Not far away on that same front page was a sobering report that the Christmas truce in Vietnam had been marred by violence. These were the last days of 1968, a divisive and bloody year. We'd lost Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy that year, gone through a tumultuous election, and continued fighting an unpopular and deadly war.

    For MacLeish, these images of Earth from space would help usher in a new era, overturning the old notion of humanity as the center of the universe and the modern view of us humans as little more than "helpless victims of a senseless farce." Beyond these two extremes, MacLeish suggested, was an image of the planet as a kind of lifeboat, "that tiny raft in the enormous, empty night."
    Commander Borman himself compared Earth to an "aggie," no doubt recalling playing marbles as a boy, drawing circles in the dirt. The famous "Blue Marble" image — one of the most reproduced photographs in human history — came four years later, from Apollo 17. But for Commander Borman and MacLeish alike, what "Earthrise" revealed wasn't a marble made vast but a planet made small. A little blue sphere, a child's precious aggie, floating alone in the abyss.
    Much later, Carl Sagan would pick up this line of thought in his 1994 book, "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," in which the Earth, as photographed in 1990 from the Voyager 1 from 3.7 billion miles away, became "a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam." For Sagan, this new image challenged "the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe," and at the same time "underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
    Since then, we've learned a great deal more. When Voyager 1 took that picture, we weren't yet sure whether there were any planets at all outside our solar system. But today, largely thanks to space telescopes peering out from Earth's orbit, we know we look up at night into a galaxy with more planets than stars. We may now perceive, as never before, the Earth's exquisite rarity and value. We live on a marvel to behold.
    We also know how our own DNA links us to one another and to life on our planet in general. We need not imagine ourselves as brothers and sisters, because science tells us that we are one family of life that includes plants, animals, birds, insects, fungi, even bacteria. All of life rides on Earth together.

    By the time Sagan delivered his message "to preserve and cherish" our planet, the awareness of our responsibility to care for the Earth had already taken hold. In 2018, it is virtually impossible to see "Earthrise" without thinking of the ways the planet's biosphere — proportionally as thin as a coat of paint on a classroom globe — is not only fragile but also under sustained attack by human actions. It is hard not to conclude that we have utterly failed to uphold the grave responsibility that the Apollo 8 crew and "Earthrise" delivered to us.
    Our precious "raft" is losing members — species are dying — as our climate changes and our planet warms. The very technologies that flung us around the moon and back, the dazzling industrial genius that gave us fossil-fuel-fed transport and electricity, animal agriculture and all the rest, have fundamentally changed our Earth, and they now threaten to cook us into catastrophe. We may be afloat in MacLeish's "eternal cold," but what MacLeish couldn't yet see was how, even then, we were madly stoking the furnace.
    It's all there in "Earthrise," if we look closely enough. Those spiraling ribbons of clouds foreshadow the extreme weather to come. In the foreground, the gray moon testifies to how unforgiving the laws of nature can be. And behind the camera, so to speak, is the sprawling apparatus of the modern industrial age, spewing an insulating layer of haze around that little blue marble, the only home we've ever known.
    Today, against the backdrop of our enormous challenge in salvaging the Earth, MacLeish's message almost seems quaint, if not dated. (He wrote of brothers, no sisters mentioned.) And yet, the poet still has a point. The vision of "Earthrise" is still one of awe and wonder. As we continue to venture out beyond Earth's orbit, we citizens of Earth can at least hope that we will still be humbled by each new vision of our lonely planet from space.
    In the end, "Earthrise" is an icon of hope, not despair. That Christmas Eve 50 years ago, Commander Borman and his crewmates turned to another kind of poetry, some of the oldest on Earth. Broadcasting live from lunar orbit to what was then the largest television audience in history, the astronauts read the opening verses of the Book of Genesis, ending with verse 10: "And God called the dry land Earth. … And God saw that it was good."
    "And from the crew of Apollo 8," said Commander Borman, signing off as the ship slipped around to the dark side of moon and out of broadcast contact, "good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas — and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth." In the silence of the moon's dark side, they later recalled, the skies appeared brighter and deeper — all except for the ink-black disc of the lifeless moon itself, blocking out the stars.

    Matthew Myer Boulton, a writer and a filmmaker living in New Hampshire, is the co-founder and creative director of SALT ProjectJoseph Heithaus is a professor of English at DePauw University and the author of the poetry collection "Poison Sonnets." 


    2) Gov. Jerry Brown Commutes 131 Sentences and Orders DNA Testing in Death Row Case
    By Thomas Fuller, December 24, 2018
    Kevin Cooper, shown in 1983, is on death row for his 1985 conviction in the killings of Douglas and Peggy Ryen and two of their children in Chino, Calif.

    SAN FRANCISCO — Gov. Jerry Brown of California on Monday ordered a limited retesting of evidence in a highly contested murder conviction.
    Lawyers for Kevin Cooper, who was convicted in 1985 of murdering Douglas and Peggy Ryen and two of their children in an affluent suburb of Los Angeles, had petitioned the governor for clemency in 2016.
    Mr. Brown said in July that he would consider additional testing in the case, and on Monday he ordered the retesting of a shirt, towel, hatchet handle and hatchet sheath.
    In his order the governor said that the purpose of the testing, which will be carried out under the supervision of Daniel Pratt, a retired judge, was to see whether DNA from any another person in the F.B.I.'s database is present on the items.

    Mr. Cooper, who has been sentenced to death, has exhausted all his appeals. His case had been championed by, among others, Senator Kamala Harris and the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.
    The request for retesting was fiercely contested by the San Bernardino County district attorney's office, which in a 94-page filing urged the governor to "consider the overwhelming evidence of Cooper's guilt" and to allow his "clearly deserved death sentence to remain in place."
    The filing quoted extensively from Josh Ryen, the only surviving family member, who was 8 years old at the time of the killings.
    Mr. Brown granted Christmas Eve clemencies that included 143 pardons and 131 commutations. Among them was one for Sear Un, an immigrant from Cambodia who avoided deportation because of the governor's pardon. Mr. Brown will leave office at the end of his term next month.
    Given a commuted sentence was Richard Richardson, the editor in chief of San Quentin News. After serving more than 20 years for robbery, Mr. Richardson will be given the opportunity to appear before the Parole Board and make his case for earlier release.

    The governor rejected a request by the mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, to have the sentence of her brother commuted. The mayor's brother, Napoleon Brown, has spent 18 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and armed robbery.


    3) How Did Rifles With an American Stamp End Up in the Hands of African Poachers
    The question is at the heart of investigations by Congress and federal agencies into whether an American gun manufacturer is entangled in the shadowy world of arms smuggling and wildlife poaching.
    By Ron Nixon, December 25, 2018
    Field rangers with Protrack, a private anti-poaching company, patrolling near Hoedspruit, South Africa.

    HOEDSPRUIT, South Africa — High-powered hunting rifles are the tools of the trade for poachers in South Africa and Mozambique. Steady and deadly accurate, the rifles are capable of dropping a rhinoceros with one shot from long distances, and are a major reason the rhinos in those African countries, highly valued for their horns, are dwindling toward extinction.
    Three years ago, Sandy McDonald began finding the rifles, left behind by poachers, scattered near the dead rhinos he found in the game reserve he owns in Mozambique, just across the border from South Africa.
    Mr. McDonald immediately recognized the weapons. They were .375-caliber Safari Classics, made by CZUB or just CZ, a firearms manufacturer based in the Czech Republic. Upon closer inspection, Mr. McDonald noticed something else on the rifles. Carved into the metal were the words "CZ-USA, Kansas City, KS," suggesting that the weapons were from the American subsidiary of the arms company.

    "Coming from a firearms background I recognized that these were rifles that are quite common in the U.S.," Mr. McDonald said. "It left me wondering how they got out of the U.S. and into the hands of Mozambican poaching syndicates."

    His question is at the heart of multiple investigations by a congressional committee and an array of federal agencies into whether an American gun manufacturer has become entangled in the shadowy and illegal world of arms smuggling and wildlife poaching that both President Trump and former President Barack Obama have committed to combating. Neither CZ nor its American subsidiary has been accused of a crime by federal authorities.
    In a 2013 executive order, Mr. Obama called wildlife trafficking a national security issue because of its devastation of African wildlife and its destabilizing effect on local communities. Another order signed by Mr. Trump last year directed law enforcement agencies to increase their efforts to dismantle transnational smuggling organizations, including wildlife traffickers.
    The American government has also stationed law enforcement officers from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in several African countries, including Botswana, to help local officials fight poachers. Over all, the American government spends about $150 million a year in efforts to fight wildlife trafficking and poaching.
    Now agents from the Commerce Department and the Department of Homeland Security are investigating whether CZ or its subsidiary violated American laws by exporting rifles to Mozambique and whether the company continued to sell weapons even after being warned as early as 2015 that the rifles were used by poachers to kill protected wildlife in South Africa.
    This fall, the House Foreign Affairs Committee began its own investigation into the use of possible illegally exported rifles in poaching crimes, requesting from federal agencies "any and all information related to CZUB and its subsidiary CZ-USA and the selling of rifles to transnational criminal organizations," according to a staff member on the committee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the investigation.

    A United States law enforcement official said as many as 100 Safari Classics found on African game reserves appear to have been manufactured by CZ-USA, which is based in Kansas City, Kan.
    But CZ officials said the guns that were found at poaching scenes were manufactured in the Czech Republic, not the United States. The company denied that any of the rifles came from its subsidiary in the United States — or that it had done anything wrong. And company officials said the weapons were legally sold to suppliers in Mozambique.
    "Although the firearms were marked 'CZ-USA,' the U.S. entity CZ-USA had nothing to do with the rifles," Petr Kallus, a company executive, wrote in a response to questions from The New York Times. "Rather, the marking 'CZ-USA' was applied to the rifles by CZUB as an international brand name only."
    Mr. Kallus also said the company ceased delivery of firearms after being told that the firearms shipped to Mozambique had been used in wildlife crimes. (An American law enforcement official confirmed that the company stopped selling weapons but said it was only after the company was warned that it could be added to one of several government lists of bad corporate actors.)
    Wherever they are made, the weapons have had a disastrous effect — the latest factor in the precipitous decline in the worldwide rhino population from 500,000 in the early 20th century to fewer than 30,000 today, with the vast majority in South Africa.
    A 2015 report by Small Arms Survey, a Switzerland-based research group, showed that the free flow of high-powered rifles and other weapons in Africa has significantly increased the scale of poaching. In turn, that has bolstered the illicit arms trade.

    Protrack, a private anti-poaching company, began finding the CZ rifles near rhino carcasses as early as 2011. "We didn't see this level of poaching until these high-powered rifles were introduced into the system," said Vincent Barkas, Protrack's owner.

    Police records and incident reports from similar anti-poaching watchdogs indicate that 90 percent of all weapons found at wildlife crime scenes in South Africa and Mozambique since then were CZ rifles.
    As the number of rifles found at wildlife crime scenes soared, alarmed conservation and anti-poaching groups reached out to Kathi Lynn Austin, a former United Nations arms-trafficking expert who had worked on the investigation of Viktor Bout, the notorious Russian arms dealer. Ms. Austin is executive director of the Conflict Awareness Project, an organization that investigates international arms trafficking.
    Over the next two years, and armed with incident reports, interviews, rifle serial numbers, shipping receipts and other records, Ms. Austin pieced together the trail of the rifles sold from CZ as they made their way into the hands of poachers. Her findings were the basis of the government investigations now underway.
    "Millions of dollars were being poured into anti-poaching efforts, including arming rangers and private companies with more and more weapons, which had just created an arms race," Ms. Austin said in a recent interview. "But not one was tracing the source of the guns found on the poachers or at the scene of the crime."
    In 2016, Ms. Austin, attended a gun show in Las Vegas after learning that CZ-USA officials would be there. Ms. Austin said she observed CZ and CZ-USA company representatives meeting with several Mozambican companies. She had earlier traced several weapons CZ sold to those companies that were later found at poaching crime scenes in South Africa.
    Ms. Austin said she later met with a whistle-blower from one of the companies who shared with her emails between the company and CZ sales offices. It is unclear if the weapons were sold from the parent company or its American subsidiary. Ms. Austin also shared emails with The Times showing that she had warned CZ-USA that weapons with the company's markings were showing up at wildlife crime scenes in South Africa.

    "CZ and its American subsidiary, at a minimum, knew that the weapons it was selling were being used for poaching," Ms. Austin said in an interview. "They knew and continued to look the other way as dozens, perhaps hundreds, of their weapons continued to show up in the hands of poachers."

    Emails obtained by Ms. Austin and federal investigators show that the Czech company was made aware that Safari Classics with the Kansas branding were used to poach rhinos at least as early as May 2015. Ms. Austin said she personally met with company officials and told them that their weapons were being used in wildlife crimes.
    If the weapons were manufactured in the United States, American export laws would have required CZ-USA to have a license to sell them outside the United States and to provide detailed accounting of their buyers. Federal investigators are looking into whether the weapons were actually made in the United States and not in the Czech Republic, as the parent company says.
    But while company officials insist that all Safari Classics that are for export are made in the Czech Republic, CZ-USA's own sales catalogs advertise rifles that are built to order by Triple River Gunsmithing, a small family-owned company in Warsaw, Mo.
    Meagan Satrang, a gunsmith and the daughter of the store owner, Harlan Satrang, confirmed in an interview that the company has built Safari Classic models since 2004.
    Only recently, she said, did she learn that two models of the Safari Classic — the .416-caliber and the .375-caliber — are built by CZ manufacturers abroad, she said.
    "But they shouldn't have the U.S. markings on them," Ms. Satrang said.
    In emailed answers to questions posed by The Times, CZ executives gave a different explanation for how the Safari Classics are made. The company said all of the weapons were manufactured in the Czech Republic, and the American markings were added to the Safari Classics there.

    CZ executives said a limited number of the Safari Classics are made specifically for the American market and stamped with the Kansas branding. But since CZ-USA was not able to place orders for all the rifles that the parent company makes for the American market, Mr. Kallus said, some of the weapons were instead sold to customers elsewhere in the world, including in Mozambique.

    Mr. Kallus insisted that even though the weapons were intended for sale in the United States, they were never shipped into the country. He added that once the weapons are sold, the company has no legal responsibility.
    CZ said some of the rifles sold in the United States could have been brought to Mozambique and South Africa by hunters. Ms. Austin agreed that hunters could have left some of their Safari Classics behind; American hunters can take their weapons to another country if they file documentation to temporarily export a personally owned firearm for hunting.
    But Ms. Austin said given that the vast majority of the hundreds of CZ-USA rifles that have been recovered at poaching sites were traced to gun sales in Mozambique, it is unlikely they were all left by hunters.
    "All of these weapons didn't come from hunters," Ms. Austin said. "The records just don't show that."



    4) Sudanese Police Try to Break Up Swelling Protests Against Bashir
    By The Associated Press, December 25, 2018
    Sudanese demonstrators chanted slogans as they marched along the street during antigovernment protests in Khartoum, Sudan, on Tuesday.

    CAIRO — The police used tear gas and fired in the air Tuesday to disperse thousands of protesters trying to march on the presidential palace to demand that Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Sudan's president of 29 years, step down, according to activists and video clips posted online.
    The clips purported to show crowds of several hundred each gathering on side roads and headed toward the palace on the bank of the Blue Nile. They sang patriotic songs and chanted "freedom," "peaceful, peaceful against the thieves" and "the people want to bring down the regime."
    One clip showed the lifeless body of a protester in Khartoum being carried away and placed inside a car that drove away. The protester's head showed a gaping wound, and the voice of another protester could be heard saying he was deliberately shot by a sniper. Earlier images circulated by activists showed police snipers on rooftops near the palace ahead of the march.

    Another clip purported to show two other protesters suffering gunshot wounds to the head and the legs as they were being attended to in a clinic. There were no reliable casualty figures available.

    Large numbers of security forces were deployed across much of Khartoum Tuesday in anticipation of the march, with soldiers riding in all-terrain vehicles. The police fired in the air, used tear gas and hit demonstrators with batons to disperse them, only for the crowds to assemble again and try to continue their march. Activists said the battles continued after nightfall.
    The protest was called by an umbrella of independent professional unions and supported by the country's largest political parties, Umma and Democratic Unionist. The organizers want to submit a petition demanding that Mr. Bashir, in power since a military coup in 1989, step down.
    Tuesday's march follows nearly a week of protests initially sparked by rising prices and shortages of food and fuel, but which later escalated into calls for Mr. Bashir to go. He was in the Al Jazeera region, south of Khartoum, on a previously scheduled visit on Tuesday. Live TV coverage showed him addressing supporters there in a rally, and the country's state news agency said he inaugurated a road and a girls' school there.
    In an address in which he frequently quoted verses from the Quran, Mr. Bashir blamed the country's economic woes on international sanctions and enemies of Sudan who don't want it to progress.
    The march followed a joint statement late Monday by the United States, Britain, Norway and Canada, which said they were concerned by "credible reports" that Sudan's security forces have used live ammunition against demonstrators.

    The London-based rights group Amnesty International said it had credible reports that the Sudanese police had killed 37 protesters in clashes during the anti-government demonstrations.


    5) 8-Year-Old Migrant Child From Guatemala Dies in U.S. Custody
    By Miriam Jordan, December 25, 2018
    The Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, N.M., where a Guatemalan child detained at the border died while in United States custody.

    An 8-year-old boy from Guatemala died in United States custody early Christmas Day, the second death of a child in detention at the southwest border in less than three weeks, raising questions about the ability of federal agents running the crowded migrant border facilities to care for those who fall ill.
    The number of migrant families and unaccompanied minors journeying over land to the United States has swelled in the last year. Migrants are usually transferred to facilities designed to hold adults after being arrested by federal authorities while attempting to enter the country illegally or after being processed at a port of entry.
    The boy, who has not been named, died just after midnight on Tuesday at a hospital in Alamogordo, N.M., where he and his father had been taken after a Border Patrol agent saw what appeared to be signs of sickness, according to United States Customs and Border Protection. His death follows that of a 7-year-old girl from the same country while also in the custody of the Border Patrol.
    Much about the circumstances of the boy's death remains unknown. It is not clear whether his condition was attributable to the care he received in the facilities, the result of an arduous journey, or some combination of the two.

    The border facilities have absorbed more children than was ever intended when they were built, presenting challenges for those tasked with caring for migrant families.
    At first, the boy was thought to have a cold, but staff at the hospital, the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center, later found that he also had a fever, according to the agency.
    He was held at the hospital for an additional 90 minutes for observation and then released on Monday afternoon with prescriptions for amoxicillin, a commonly prescribed antibiotic, and ibuprofen, which is often used for relieving pain and reducing fever.
    On Monday night, however, the boy grew nauseated and vomited, prompting border authorities to take him back to the hospital, where he died.
    The cause of death is not known, but an internal review will be conducted, according to the agency, which said it had notified the government of Guatemala. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to requests for additional information related to the boy's death.

    The other migrant child from Guatemala, Jakelin Caal Maquin, died this month in United States custody in New Mexico. Border Patrol said Jakelin had died from dehydration, but her father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cruz, disputed that assertion, saying he "made sure she was fed and had sufficient water."
    While details about the boy's death are scant and there is no evidence so far that conditions in detention were the cause, the proximity of the two children's deaths is already renewing debate about the Trump administration's immigration policies.
    Medical professionals and advocates said on Tuesday that a second death of a child at the border highlighted the risks of keeping vulnerable children in what they called overcrowded, often cold facilities known as "hieleras," Spanish for ice boxes. Children are not supposed to remain in the facilities for more than 72 hours.
    "These facilities are no place for a child, even a well child," said Marsha Griffin, a pediatrician on the Texas-Mexico border and the co-chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics's special interest group on immigrant health.
    "The conditions in which these children are being held are truly shocking," said Dr. Griffin, who said that children who fall ill are not receiving adequate care. "It's cold, and they are susceptible to influenza and dehydration."
    Kevin K. McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said in July that the facilities were built in the 1980s and '90s to temporarily house migrant adults, not families and children.
    "They were built for single adults," he said. "Think of it like a police station, like short-term detention before they're turned over to a jail or a longer-term facility. In immigration, it's ICE. They were not built to handle families and children."

    After being apprehended by border agents, children pass through processing facilities, some of which provide limited medical screening for scabies, lice and chickenpox, according to a report released in May 2017 by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It said that complete medical histories and physical examinations are not conducted.

    Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, died in United States custody earlier this month.

    "Children should not be subjected to these facilities," the report recommended.
    Inside the facilities, detainees sleep side-by-side on mats placed on the ground. Their belongings are removed and they receive only a Mylar blanket with which to cover themselves, according to migrants who have been held in these facilities.
    Audrey Stempel, a nurse who volunteered in a clinic at a respite center in Texas, where families released from the border facilities spend a night before traveling onward, said the main thing "the migrants talked about was how cold they were in these detention centers."
    "The feedback we got from migrants was that children arrived compromised and were not taken care of," Ms. Stempel said. "Authorities were doing the absolute bare minimum. By the time the kids got to us, many of them were sick."
    She said that she treated colds, fevers, respiratory infections and other ailments, and that she had to transfer some children to a hospital.
    When the harrowing trek to the border is made during the low temperatures of winter months, migrants are especially vulnerable.
    "CBP strictly adheres to our national standards in regard to the conditions, including temperature control, at our temporary holding facilities," said a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, adding that the agency had appointed a juvenile coordinator to monitor conditions.

    The Trump administration attempted to deter immigration with a "zero-tolerance" policy announced in April that called for criminally prosecuting anyone who had crossed the border illegally. Border Patrol agents arrested parents and sent their children to government-licensed shelters, but President Trump suspended the practice in June after it sparked outrage.
    Since then, a record-setting crush of migrant arrivals has overwhelmed shelters and government detention facilities.
    The Border Patrol apprehended 25,172 people in family units in November, compared with 7,016 the same month a year earlier. Arrests for the 2018 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, reached 107,212, exceeding the previous high of 77,857 in fiscal year 2016.
    Some adults have said they travel with a child to increase their chances of being freed rather than remaining in detention for an extended time. Having fled violence in their home countries, they then request asylum.
    "Minor children are being brought under treacherous circumstances because we have incentivized this," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a national organization that lobbies for curbing all immigration.
    "Politicians who could solve the problem are not rectifying the abuse in our asylum system that is encouraging people to come under these conditions," he added.
    In a Christmas morning question-and-answer session with reporters, President Trump touted his administration's immigration policies and demanded further funding for a border wall. While he castigated migrants, the president did not bring up the boy's death hours earlier.

    "So you have drugs, you have human trafficking," Mr. Trump said. "You have illegal people coming into our country. We can't do that. We don't know who they are."
    In a brief phone call, Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman, called the death of the 8-year-old boy "very sad" and said administration officials were trying to get a clearer understanding of what had happened to him from the Department of Homeland Security.
    Several Democratic members of Congress responded to news of the boy's death with sharp criticism of the Trump administration's approach to the border.
    "This is devastating news on Christmas Day — a time when so many around the world are holding their families and loved ones close — and my heart goes out to this young boy's family," said Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, calling for a full investigation.
    Homeland Security officials have struggled to answer questions about how many people have been harmed as a result of the administration's detention policies. Last week, Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of Homeland Security, was unable to answer a question about how many people had died in custody.

    Reporting was contributed by Niraj Chokshi in New York and Katie Rogers in Washington.


    7) In Bethlehem,
    I had a vivid experience of what Israel's occupation feels likeBy Ghoda Karmi, December 25, 2018https://english.palinfo.com/articles/2018/12/25/I-had-a-vivid-experience-of-what-Israel-s-occupation-feels-like"O little town of Bethlehem/How still we see thee lie/Above thy deep and dreamless sleep/The silent stars go by," runs the famous Christmas carol sung all over the English-speaking world as it celebrates Christmas. On Christmas Eve midnight mass will sound out from Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, the legendary birthplace of Jesus Christ, proclaiming he will bring "peace to men on earth".
    The real BethlehemNothing could be further from the truth than the image of a sweet, untroubled Bethlehem as depicted in a carol originally created by the pious imagination of a Victorian Western-Christian. Generations of Christian children have been brought up on it, and its mythical power is such that few of them realize what or even where Bethlehem is.
    A well-educated English friend I had known for years was recently surprised to learn that Bethlehem was located in Palestine. In her mind the town was more a legend than an actual place, and connected to Jews, if to anyone.
    That idea is still widespread and has been instrumental in keeping Western-Christians disengaged from the real Bethlehem and unsupportive of its struggle for survival. The city I saw on a visit earlier this year was a travesty of the place the Christmas carol depicts and an indictment of Western Christianity's abject failure to sustain one of its holiest shrines.  
    In today's Bethlehem "dreamless sleep" is more like a nightmare, and the town can only "lie still" when Israel's occupation ends.
    Israel's brutal vandalismBethlehem and its outlying villages of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour have been traditionally the most Christian of Palestine's places, even though Bethlehem has a Muslim majority now. Until Israel's occupation in 1967 the city had been an important social, cultural and economic hub, and one of Palestine's most ancient localities. Its name "Beit Lahem" goes back to Canaanite times, when it was a shrine to the Canaanite god, Lahm or Lahem.
    Its architecture is testament to its rich history: Roman and Byzantine, when the Empress Helena had the Church of the Nativity built over the supposed cave of Jesus' birthplace in 327; followed by the Muslim conquests of 637, and then the crusader occupation from 1099 until ended by Saladin in 1187; the succeeding Ottomans built the city's walls in the early 16th century, their rule terminated by the British Mandate from 1922 to 1948.
    In 1995 Bethlehem was transferred to Palestinian Authority control, although it remains under Israel's overall rule.
    Despite their variation, none of these preceding historical periods was ever associated with the brutal vandalism and destructiveness of Israel's current occupation
    Despite their variation, none of these preceding historical periods was ever associated with the brutal vandalism and destructiveness of Israel's current occupation. Leaving Jerusalem southwards to travel the nine kilometer distance to Bethlehem, I took a wrong turn and found myself on a fast, modern highway without another Palestinian driver in sight.
    I had stumbled by accident onto a Jews-only settler bypass road, one of two that skirt Bethlehem and connect with its encircling settlements. I soon realized the purpose of the operation: To pretend that no one else exists in the area but Jews.
    A sad placeThere are 22 Israeli settlements encircling Bethlehem, cutting off its exits and confiscating its agricultural land. They glower down from the surrounding hills and house more settlers than all of Bethlehem and its neighborhoods. To the north is Har Homa, a settlement that until 2000 was an ancient, densely wooded hill called Jabal Abu Ghneim.
    Israel uprooted the trees and replaced them with a colony of dreary, box-like houses, which it threatened to turn into a Bethlehem look-alike for tourists. Nokidim, to the east, is the current residence of Israel's hard-line former defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman.
    Since 2015 Israel has closed off Bethlehem's fertile Cremisan Valley to its Palestinian owners, and announced in June of this year a massive settlement expansion along the route between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
    Rachel's tomb, Bethlehem's historic landmark on the main Jerusalem-Bethlehem road and an area traditionally buzzing with shops and restaurants, is now blocked off by the wall and reserved exclusively for Jews. Muslim worshippers who venerated the tomb (and built it) cannot go there. It is a sad place, deserted and lifeless. In the shadow of the wall most businesses have closed and as the noose tightens around Bethlehem, none will be left.
    Israel's relentless penetration to the heart of Bethlehem is unmistakable. Bethlehem is deliberately isolated behind the formidable separation barrier, surrounded by checkpoints, and its economy strangulated. Its main source of prosperity had been tourism with two million annual visitors and a thriving souvenir market of classic olive wood and mother-of-pearl carvings.
    It was also a rich agricultural area with a successful wine industry. But most of its land has been confiscated, and draconian restrictions on movement to and from Bethlehem have reduced tourism and pilgrim numbers drastically. Today its population of 220,00, including 20,000 refugees, have the highest unemployment rate in the occupied territories, second only to that of Gaza.
    Saving BethlehemSitting in the "cafe" outside the Walled Off Hotel at the entrance to Bethlehem, I had a vivid experience of what Israel's occupation feels like. The hotel is in effect a piece of installation art, created by the British artist, Banksy, to highlight the plight of Bethlehem.
    The only view from the hotel windows is of Israel's hideous eight-meter wall, whose huge grey slabs are a mere car's width away.
    Stretching forward, you can almost touch it. I remember how its sinister watchtowers and surveillance cameras bore down on me oppressively. It was a scene out of a horror film.
    To date, and despite church delegations, papal visits, and public expressions of concern, nothing Christians have done has halted or reversed Israel's destruction of a city so uniquely holy to Christendom. If they can do nothing to save Bethlehem, they can at least stop singing a carol that mocks its sad reality.
      Read more at   https://english.palinfo.com/38373 @Copyright The Palestinian Information Center


    8) How a Crackdown on MS-13 Caught Up Innocent High School Students
    By Hannah Dreier, December 27, 2018
    Alex in custody at an ICE office building in Manhattan in September 2017.

    This article is a collaboration between The Times and ProPublica, the independent nonprofit investigative-journalism organization.
    When Alex walked into school on June 14, 2017, it felt as if summer had already started. He didn't have regular classes, just a standardized math test in the late morning. The other immigrant students in the bilingual program at Huntington High were crowded in a hallway comparing their plans for the break — most already had jobs lined up — and promising to stay in touch.
    Classmates came up to greet him. At 19, Alex was older than many of the other sophomores. He enrolled as a freshman when he arrived in Suffolk County on Long Island from Honduras a year and a half before. He felt good in the school from the start. A shy teenager who preferred video games and watching soccer on TV to playing it on the field, he had always been an outsider, slow to make friends. But all the immigrants in the bilingual program were outsiders, so he fit in, and he was popular for the first time in his life. In Honduras, it had felt as if teachers were preparing students to work in the fields, like everyone else. Here, in Huntington, they were always telling him that with a good education, he could do anything he wanted. The halls were decorated with inspirational posters of Latino students attending college and completing ambitious projects mixed in with images of a scowling blue devil with horns, the school's mascot.
    While the other students laughed and shouted in the hall, Alex (his middle name) went to his desk. He was nervous about the Regents math test. He loved all his classes but algebra. In language arts, he was learning to write essays and reading historical fiction about young people who immigrated to the United States in decades past, and he was hoping to get an A. But in algebra, he was falling behind. Now he struggled through questions that required him to calculate the diminishing earnings of a carnival-booth owner and reverse-engineer parabolas. He was relieved when the teacher called pencils down. He was sure he had gotten a lot of answers wrong, but he had two more years to pass the test before graduation.

    Alex sometimes lingered in the halls, but today he wanted to leave as soon as possible. A month before, he got in trouble in school for the first time, for doodling in math class. He was shocked and confused when the principal accused him of drawing gang signs and suspended him for three days. His parents assured him it was just a small setback and would be forgotten over the summer, but still, Alex was worried. Although he was in the United States legally, seeking asylum from gang persecution, his status was tenuous. The government can revoke the provisional freedom it gives to minors seeking asylum if they do something to indicate they are a danger to the community. So he had been careful to stay away from anyone who might be connected with gangs, and he had never come in contact with the police, aside from a brief chat in the cafeteria with the officer assigned to the school.
    Alex rode his bike the 10 minutes home. He liked to look at the big houses as he pedaled, with their lush lawns that his father and other immigrant landscapers kept immaculate. He crossed a set of train tracks that divided the older, more affluent part of Huntington from the newer part where many immigrant families lived. Alex usually rode home with a neighbor, but his friend had recently stopped going to school because he did not feel safe there. A few weeks earlier, a classmate was arrested by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement and never came back to school. He seemed like a rule-follower, but the rumor was that he had been accused of being in the street gang MS-13. Soon after, another student was detained on his way to church. Alex figured there must be something he didn't know about them — maybe they really had done bad things. He had heard about gang killings in some other Suffolk County towns, but it all felt very far away. In a year and a half at Huntington High, he never even saw a shoving match in the halls.
    He unlatched the gate to the building where his family lived and left his bike unlocked on the lawn as he always did. Then he changed into a pair of gym shorts and settled in to enjoy a rare afternoon alone in the three-room basement apartment, with the TV, PlayStation and fridge full of food all to himself. His brother, who was a year younger, was still at school, and his parents were at work. If he had turned on the news, he might have learned about an initiative in New York, announced that day, called Operation Matador; ICE was partnering with police departments and officers in schools to target and detain Latino immigrants suspected of gang ties. Instead, Alex sprawled out in his room and texted a girl he had a crush on. "How did the exam go for you??" he wrote, following up with heart emojis. Then he heard a soft knock. He emerged from his bedroom and, through a window in the door, saw a group of men wearing bulletproof vests.

    He ran back into his room and lay on the bed, holding his breath. He hoped the men would go away if they thought no one was home, but a half-hour passed, and he could still hear their muffled voices and steps. He told himself there was no reason to be afraid — his immigration case was moving forward, and he hadn't committed any crime. So he put on flip-flops and went outside. One of the men asked his name and told him they had a warrant for his arrest. He was too stunned to protest as they cuffed his hands behind his back, loaded him into an S.U.V. and drove off, with a second car in front and a third behind. A neighbor watched between the curtains as the convoy disappeared. She called his parents. They rushed home and found his keys, wallet and cellphone laid out neatly on the kitchen table.
    In April 2017, two months before Alex was apprehended, Attorney General Jeff Sessions went to Suffolk County and outlined the Trump administration's strategy for defeating MS-13. The key, he said, lay in increasing border enforcement — and driving the gang out of schools. "To parents out there, know this," he said. "We will not surrender our schools to these gangs. We will not allow them to prey on our children in the hallways."

    Sessions's visit was part of a continuing rhetorical war that President Trump began on the campaign trail and continued in his early months in the White House. Trump invoked the image of MS-13 gang members "infesting" the country, with unnamed towns begging to be "liberated," to argue for restricting immigration and tightening the rules on asylum.
    MS-13 was founded in Los Angeles in the 1980s by Salvadoran immigrants fleeing civil war. During a wave of deportations in the 1990s, it spread back to El Salvador and Honduras, helping to make them two of the most violent countries in the world. The gang's symbols include devil horns and the country calling codes of El Salvador and Honduras (503 and 504). In the United States, MS-13 has an estimated 10,000 members — a number that has remained stable for more than a decade. They are a mix of immigrant and American-born Latinos, based primarily in a handful of suburbs with high concentrations of Central American immigrants outside Washington, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles and New York. MS-13 accounts for less than 1 percent of the country's gang members and a similarly small share of gang murders.
    For about two decades, MS-13 has had a presence on Long Island, where in recent years its membership in Suffolk and Nassau Counties has numbered about 900, according to local police departments. That's less than one-fifth of Long Island's gang members, who also include Bloods and Crips. The gang is more active in Suffolk County, mostly in Brentwood and the adjoining district Central Islip, which are heavily Latino, and where MS-13 members have periodically taken part in brutal killings. In 2003, in Central Islip, members beat and stabbed to death a young man who they thought was a rival and stuffed his body in a drain pipe. Also in Central Islip, the gang shot a toddler and his mother in 2010 and left their bodies in a patch of woods.
    In the last few years, Long Island's MS-13 members and victims have gotten younger. In 2016, MS-13 gang members murdered five Latino Brentwood High students with bats and machetes. In 2017, the gang killed three more local Latino students and left their macheted bodies in a park in Central Islip. Some two dozen young men from Brentwood and Central Islip were eventually charged with the murders. A few were as young as 16.
    President Trump took office at the peak of this local wave of violence and announced that he was making the gang a federal law-enforcement priority. Trump has "taken the handcuffs off of law-enforcement officers," Thomas Homan, who served as the acting director of ICE from January 2017 to June 2018, said in July 2017. Many agents wanted to arrest and deport suspected MS-13 members under President Obama. But they were constrained by an Obama-administration policy that required ICE agents to focus on undocumented immigrants who had committed serious crimes.

    The sort of criminal investigations into MS-13 that the Obama administration favored take time and on-the-ground work. Immigration agents spend months mapping out networks and gathering evidence using informants and wiretaps. Under the new Trump mandate, ICE opted for a shortcut. Gang affiliation on its own is not a crime, but it can be grounds to detain undocumented immigrants or people legally seeking asylum. ICE began using what are called "administrative arrests" to pursue known gang members and "gang associates," who had no criminal records but who, ICE argued, were dangers to the community. To identify them, ICE agents met with police commissioners around the country and asked them to pass on names from databases that they used to track people they believed were involved with gangs.
    In May 2017, the New York ICE office created Operation Matador to promote information-sharing between police departments and ICE, and to allow immigration agents to go after suspected gang members who had not been charged with crimes. Nationally, some departments have been wary of cooperating with ICE, for fear of scaring away undocumented immigrants who might help in criminal investigations. Philadelphia sealed its gang database from ICE, and Portland, Ore., eliminated its database entirely. But in New York, departments in places like Suffolk County — which Trump carried in 2016 — were eager to sign up and began flagging supposed gang members for immigration detention.

    Under Operation Matador, ICE has arrested 816 people suspected of gang affiliation. About 170, like Alex, came to New York legally as unaccompanied minors, some of whom were also seeking asylum, and several dozen were still minors when they were detained. Roughly a dozen students from Huntington High alone were rounded up. But the evidence behind many of these arrests was unreliable. Police databases are notoriously inconsistent and opaque. People aren't told if they are listed in a database, and if they don't actually belong to a gang, it's virtually impossible to prove it and have their names removed.
    The local police officers who contribute names to the database rarely speak Spanish and lack training in the intricacies of transnational criminal organizations like MS-13. To become an MS-13 member, recruits have to commit a serious act of violence — like assaulting a rival gang member — and endure a group beating. But there is no process to become a "gang associate" — a classification used only by law enforcement. ICE designates people as gang associates if they meet two out of eight criteria, which include frequenting a known gang hangout (which can be a bus stop or a park), wearing gang colors and displaying symbols.
    One of the best places for tracking potential gang associates is school. But schools are prohibited by privacy laws from sharing anything beyond the most basic information about students. With Operation Matador, ICE found a way around these protections, by relying on police officers posted inside schools, known as school resource officers. They collect tips and disciplinary information from teachers and administrators and can legally share it with their departments, which can in turn pass it on to immigration agents. Without any legal changes, schools have become the start of a law-enforcement chain that lets ICE agents on transnational-crime task forces peer into hallways and backpacks without ever entering the property.
    Alex grew up in a tiny village in the highlands of Honduras, with no restaurants, banks or even consistent running water. His father, Victor, worked in the fields but was known in the village as a striver. He built his own house when he was 18 to persuade Alex's mother, Marina, to marry him. She was one of the most educated women in the village, having been sent by her family to complete high school in a nearby town.
    Victor left for the United States in 2010, when Alex was 11, and managed to sneak across the border. He settled in Huntington because he had heard from a Honduran friend who was living there that it was a safe area with a good high school. To imagine where his father was living, Alex watched American sitcoms and a reality-TV show about a family running a pawnshop. His father sent back money for food, clothes and school supplies. But the money made the family a target for MS-13 and its rival gang, Barrio 18. Gang members mugged Alex's mother twice and killed two of his cousins. They shot his uncle dead and broke all his teeth and smashed each of his fingers. A group of gang members robbed Alex and then harassed him every time he went to the local three-room high school.

    In 2015, after Alex turned 17, Victor decided it was time to get his son out of danger. He saved and borrowed $4,000 to hire a coyote to bring Alex to the United States-Mexico border. On Dec. 29, 2015, Alex crossed a bridge to a checkpoint and told United States border agents that he feared for his life back home. As an unaccompanied minor, he qualified to stay in the country while his case was processed, which could take years. He was allowed to travel to his father on Long Island. It was his first time on a plane, and he spent the flight glued to the window. When he landed, Victor took him to the basement apartment he was renting in Huntington. It was smaller and darker than the house he built in Honduras, but he had painted the walls a bright yellow to make it feel cheery.
    Located on Long Island's northeast shore, known as the Gold Coast, a half-hour drive from where most of the MS-13 violence has occurred, Huntington is an affluent town with one of the lowest crime rates in the state. The downtown has brick sidewalks, old-fashioned street lamps and an art-house movie theater. Retirees play music on the sidewalks. People dress up to stroll past stores that include a tea bar selling matcha lattes for $6.25 a cup, a two-floor used-book store and a gluten-free bakery.

    Alex didn't consider waiting for the new school year to enroll in Huntington High. "Of course I started classes right away — that's the point of being here," he told me in one of many conversations over the phone and in person during the last year and a half. "I've always felt happy in school."
    Huntington's Latino population has increased more than 70 percent in the last decade, making it one of the rare wealthy areas on Long Island that have a sizable population of recent immigrants. By the time Alex arrived, the high school was almost half Latino. The district runs a bilingual education program in which native English speakers learn alongside Spanish speakers, with instruction in both languages. The program has become so popular that English speakers are now put on a waiting list. A club pairs established immigrant students with recent arrivals to help ease the transition.
    Huntington High administrators say there has never been any MS-13 presence at the school. Unlike a number of other Long Island high schools, Huntington High says nothing about gang activity on its website; instead it offers guidance on throwing snowballs ("dangerous") and keeping the hallways clear ("essential").
    Alex was relieved to be away from the gangs in Honduras, and he soon stopped looking over his shoulder on the streets of Huntington. His parents had always told him that if he did well in school, he would have a good life. Now his teachers reinforced that message. He managed to finish his first semester with a B average. It was easy to imagine succeeding here. Once immigrant students learned enough English, they transferred into mainstream classes. There were asylum-seekers like him in the marching band, on the varsity soccer team and even in the student government.
    But the threats and violence continued in Honduras, and that summer, Alex's mother and younger brother came to Long Island, also making asylum claims. His mother got a job cleaning office buildings, and when the new school year started in 2016, she saw the boys off at 6:30 each morning. After dinner, the whole family sat around the table and talked about their days. Some nights, Alex would connect his phone to the TV, and he and his brother would sit in folding chairs watching English tutorials on YouTube.

    During his sophomore year, Alex learned to navigate the hallways, and he was tardy only once through the spring. He took home report cards that said he was "a pleasure to teach." And he had grown close to a group of friends in his homeroom who showed off their Central American pride by dressing in the colors of their home countries' flags. They tagged themselves in group Facebook photos with the telephone calling codes for their home countries — 503 for El Salvador, 502 for Guatemala and 504 for Honduras. Alex started wearing a bracelet with the blue and white of the Honduran flag. When his parents had extra money, he asked for a T-shirt, sweatshirt or backpack emblazoned with Huntington High's name and its mascot, the blue devil with horns.
    Alex knew that MS-13 claimed Nike Cortez shoes and blue bandannas, so he made sure to avoid them. In the spring of 2017, school security guards stopped him as he walked down the hall wearing bright blue sneakers that his mother picked out for him as a gift for accompanying her to an immigration appointment in Queens. They said the blue of the shoes was the color of MS-13. They also searched Alex's bag, on which he had written "504," and found that he had doodled the name of his Honduran hometown and a devil with horns. Without explaining why, the security guards photographed the drawings before giving Alex his books back. When Alex got home that day, he buried the shoes in a closet and didn't wear them again, even on weekends.

    Shortly after, Alex was eating nachos with his friends in the lunchroom when the school police officer, Andrew Fiorillo, walked up to him. Fiorillo took Alex aside and asked in halting Spanish how he was doing in his classes. He said that if Alex heard anything in school, he could tell him. Then he walked Alex to class and left him at the door. Alex was confused about why Fiorillo talked to him, but he thought he seemed nice.
    Fiorillo, known as Officer Drew at Huntington High, is in his 40s, tall with thinning hair and a friendly face. He has worked at the school for more than a decade and is widely beloved. The Police Department pays his salary ($166,000 in 2017, including overtime). Fiorillo, who wears his full police uniform each day, told me that he sees himself more as a mentor than as a law-enforcement officer, and that he invites students to talk to him in private if they ever have a problem. Some kids run up to greet him in the halls, but immigrant students tend to keep their distance.
    A few weeks later, on May 4, 2017, Alex was daydreaming as his algebra teacher introduced yet another indecipherable math operation. Without thinking, he began doodling in pencil on the school calculator he was using. When the bell rang, he handed it back in. That afternoon, security staff pulled Alex out of English class and took him to the office of Brenden Cusack, the principal. When Alex walked in, he saw the calculator on Cusack's desk. Through a translator, Cusack asked Alex if he had drawn the number 504 on the case, and Alex said he had. Then Cusack produced the security guard's photos of Alex's drawing of devil horns and told him that the doodles signified MS-13.
    Alex told me he would never have written on a wall or desk in this American school, and he knew it was wrong to draw on the school-issued calculator, but he was surprised to be taken to the principal for something he saw as a form of fidgeting. He tried to defend himself; the devil was the school mascot, after all, and 504 was the Honduras country code. "For the police, it's a gang thing, but for us, it's about being proud of your country," he later told me. To Cusack, Alex's distinctions didn't seem to matter. The principal signed an incident report that said Alex had been caught in possession of "gang paraphernalia" and had been "defacing school property with gang signs." Alex says that Cusack told him that he would be suspended for three days and that the doodles would be reported to Officer Fiorillo. Though Cusack says that he wouldn't have told a student about sharing information with law enforcement, Alex remembers him saying: "We're working with police to clean up the school."
    Congress first provided funding to bring full-time police officers into schools after the 1999 Columbine shooting. The number of these resource officers has doubled in the last decade, according to the National Association of School Resource Officers. Some 80 percent of high schools with more than 1,000 students have them. Schools with large populations of black and Latino students are more likely to have a resource officer than schools that are majority white. After the school shooting this year in Parkland, Fla., President Trump called for police officers on every campus.

    Alex's redacted school ID. ''If I hadn't been detained, I would have finished school, learned English and gotten a good job,'' he said.

    The position of school resource officer is a hybrid of conflicting roles: counselor, teacher and cop. "You have to have a person who can be caring and loving, but on the flip of a switch, turn into a law-enforcement warrior," says Mac Hardy, a spokesman for the resource officers association. They greet kids each morning and comfort those having hard days, but they are also on constant alert for threats and illegal activity. The association recommends that members receive 40 hours of training, in part to counteract the stereotype of resource officers as more akin to crossing guards than real police officers.
    Even as their ranks have grown, these officers have been criticized for contributing to what civil rights advocates call the school-to-prison pipeline. School administrators are allowed to talk openly with resource officers and often call them in to interview students directly. And the officers can — and do — notify their police superiors about what they learn. Studies by professors at the University of Tennessee and the University of Maryland show that when schools bring in resource officers, arrests for minor infractions tend to rise; federal school data shows that students of color bear the brunt of those school arrests. "This mix has been detrimental to black and Latino youth, frankly," Bryan Joffe, director of education at the American Association of School Administrators, says. National school-administration groups have tried to balance these concerns against fears about school shootings by advising that resource officers concentrate on outside threats rather than student misbehavior. That recommendation has mostly gone unheeded.

    With the introduction of initiatives like Operation Matador, school resource officers have played an increasingly important role in the detention of immigrant teenagers. They've helped the police collect intelligence in schools without technically violating the 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (Ferpa), which bars schools from sharing student records with government agencies. In the past, if officers wanted to surveil or search students suspected of committing a crime, they had to ask for a warrant.
    Across the country, ICE increasingly depends on information from resource officers to identify suspected gang members. But that intelligence is often unreliable. In March 2018 in Baltimore, ICE detained a 17-year-old after the school resource officer reported that the student was part of a group that threatened a classmate. The detention lasted six months. A federal immigration judge reviewed the decision for "clear error" and found that one had been made. In January 2018 in Houston, ICE detained a high schooler with a 3.4 G.P.A. after a school resource officer wrote him up for fighting with another student. The student went to the officer after the fight to explain that his classmate had been harassing him, but he was arrested and transferred to ICE custody; after a student walkout at the school, supported by some teachers, he was released in April.
    This year, civil rights groups sued the Boston School Police, the city's school district and its superintendent, Tommy Chang, over the way information is being shared with ICE. Chang stepped down the next day. (The case is pending.) Nevertheless, ICE recently detained several Boston students, citing school incident reports. In one case, a teenager was attacked by a known gang member, and ICE used the incident to classify the victim as a gang member as well. In California, school resource officers added hundreds of names to a statewide police gang database shared with federal agencies, including ICE.
    Michael A. Olivas, who teaches immigration and education law at the University of Houston, says schools are violating the intent of the Ferpa school-privacy law by reporting students to immigration authorities. "They're trying to use the mechanism that is supposed to protect children," Olivas says. "If they actually announced what they are doing, which is facilitating information to immigration authorities, they would likely face all kinds of sanctions."
    In Suffolk County, although resource officers have been in the schools for two decades, their roles are expanding. In 2017, the Police Department sent officers into Huntington High and other schools to train administrators and teachers to identify gang members. The presentations focused on items like plastic rosaries, blue bandannas, anything with horns and the numbers 504 and 503, written in notebooks or on hands. One slide, which was used in community presentations, featured a group of young men holding up the Salvadoran flag at a Central American pride parade.

    Some police officers cautioned that these symbols could also mean a student was being pressured to join or just trying to look cool, and that symbols can have multiple meanings. The same way metalheads might draw a pentagram, or wannabe punks might draw the anarchy sign (a letter A inside a circle), some students might draw MS-13 symbols, unaware that adults could take those doodles as proof of membership. One law-enforcement officer told me about being called in by a Long Island school after a student drew the signs for both MS-13 and a rival Mexican gang in his notebook. The officer explained that a real gang member would not draw signs of a gang he wasn't a member of — the drawings were not incriminating, just dumb. But not all officers were as clear about these nuances.
    In Bellport and Brentwood, the towns that lost several students to MS-13 murders, the schools were particularly eager to help. Administrators held similar briefings for parents. Actions that once might not have even prompted a trip to the principal's office now might lead to a long suspension. After a police training in 2017, an assistant principal at Bellport High School checked a 15-year-old student's Facebook page and saw "503" superimposed on an image of the Salvadoran flag and on the hat of a video-game character. The assistant principal spoke to the school resource officer, who agreed that the image was related to MS-13. The administrator suspended the student for "disruptive incidents," even though the student pointed out that the posts had been made in middle school and said they had simply stood for El Salvador. In May 2017, a 15-year-old special-education student at the same school was suspended for five months for wearing a Chicago Bulls shirt with the team's logo, a bull with horns. School administrators began texting officers photos of drawings from students as young as fourth and fifth graders, according to a law-enforcement official who requested anonymity.

    n Huntington, it wasn't just school staff who wanted to help. The head of security for Huntington's two public libraries began banning students who were suspended from school for gang activity, or who he had heard were gang members. After attending a police presentation in 2016, June Margolin, the president of Huntington Matters, a civic group, said she started seeing MS-13 indicators — like photos of boys making hand signs of horns, or large groups wearing blue and white — in the profile pages of residents trying to join her Facebook group. She began flagging those profiles to the Police Department's gang unit. The high school wrote a note home to parents saying that anything the police classified as gang-related was banned, but did not specify what those things were.
    An English-as-a-second-language teacher at Central Islip High, who asked that she not be identified out of concern for her job, didn't join in the effort, even though MS-13 killed two of her students in 2016. "I get the feeling that the police and the government want to make it bigger than it is," she told me. "I think a lot of teachers were just not well equipped to make good judgment calls." One day she was working lunch duty when a school security guard told her he thought it was suspicious that a lot of the students were wearing the Salvadoran flag. "Thank God I was there, because I told him, 'Today is their Independence Day,' " she says. "He had no clue."
    In neighboring Nassau County, where MS-13 killed nearly as many people as it did in Suffolk, the Police Department took a different approach to ICE's new focus on the gang. Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder says his school resource officers don't write up noncriminal incidents like doodles, and the department doesn't route information from schools to immigration enforcement. ICE made half as many arrests there last year as in Suffolk County. "How many kids do that because they're just knuckleheads?" Ryder says. "They make a mistake, they're adolescents."
    When Alex was suspended in May 2017, his parents were angry with him, but they were also puzzled when he explained that the "gang paraphernalia" he'd been caught with were drawings of the school's mascot and the country code for Honduras. His mother, a practicing Catholic, said that she had never liked the two seven-foot-tall devil faces painted around the school's perfectly maintained football field. She thought schools should display the colors of the flag, or maybe an animal mascot. Alex's father gave him another lecture about the importance of doing well in school.
    The school sent home a suspension notice in Spanish giving Alex's parents the option of meeting with the principal at 7:15 the next morning to contest the punishment. But it was too late for them to ask their bosses for time off, and they figured it would be fine. Alex had only one month of his sophomore year left and had never gotten in trouble before.

    It is most likely that as Alex sat at home during his suspension, Officer Fiorillo received word of the doodling incident. While Fiorillo told me he didn't remember details about Alex's case, Huntington High has a policy of calling him in as soon as a staff member sees something that could be gang-related, according to a former principal, Carmela Leonardi, who retired in 2015. "The minute you see a gang sign, you need to intervene," she says. "First, we'd try to get Drew involved, and say, 'Have you seen this kid outside of the school talking to people?' Because sometimes you do that in your notebook because you're trying to seem cool, or because you're a little idiot."
    Once Fiorillo knew about Alex's drawings, he would have had to fill out a form and send the information on to the department's criminal-intelligence unit. Although Suffolk County school resource officers are allowed to use their judgment about reporting infractions like marijuana possession or writing on school walls their 2017 handbook requires them to write up gang activity, no matter how trivial. School resource officers are not detectives, and they don't generally go further than passing on what they are told and observe themselves, according to Gerard Gigante, Suffolk County's chief of detectives.

    Their reports read like notes jotted down after a short conversation, not accounts of an investigation. One report I was shown from Brentwood High said that an anonymous student told an officer that three classmates were "chequeos" for MS-13, the word the gang uses for low-level potential recruits. The report doesn't comment on whether the officer found this information credible. At the county Police Department's central intelligence office, reports are entered into the gang database, even if the information is unconfirmed.
    Fiorillo says it's important to him that students not be channeled into detention — "We can't arrest our way out of problems," he told me — but at the same time, his first priority is to keep Huntington High safe. He sees his job as bridging the worlds inside and outside the school. "As a police department, we patrol many neighborhoods," he told me. "As a school resource officer, all you're doing is patrolling a school. It's no different than in the streets, just a different sector."
    In the end, Alex got permission to go to school two of the three days he was suspended in order to take his exams. His classmates were surprised by his suspension. Dariana (her middle name), an undocumented immigrant who was one of the school's top students, was in Alex's world-history class sophomore year and knew that he always did the reading and paid attention. "I was like, Wow, he's here trying to learn, and he's suspended just for that?" she says. His classmate Rosa was also surprised. She knew him as the boy who always brought her snacks when she studied through lunch.
    After the suspension, Alex no longer felt safe at school. Security staff began randomly searching his backpack and carefully flipping through his notebooks. "I was walking around really scared," he said. He stopped wearing his Honduran sports jerseys and his bracelet with the colors of the flag. He avoided talking to anyone he didn't already know well. He and his two best friends decided it was safest to wear all black to school to avoid being tagged as gang members. But when they showed up in their matching outfits, the security guards said they couldn't dress like that because it looked as if they were trying to start a gang.
    As the school year wound down in June, Alex and his friends began noticing that certain students were no longer coming to school. Girls started posting on Facebook about their boyfriends being detained, writing long essays with crying emojis. "It was person after person," says a Huntington student named Osmin (his middle name), who was suspended for fighting on school grounds at the beginning of the 2016-17 year. "I was like, 'If you do bad things, bad things will happen to you.' And then ICE came for me."

    Despite all these warning signs, when the ICE agents came to Alex's house on June 14, 2017, he was shocked into silence. It was only when they were far from Huntington, passing through unfamiliar, rundown Long Island towns, that he was able to get out the words to ask why he was being arrested. Alex says the agent first asked him to guess, and then told him, "We received a report a while ago from the school that you were a gang member, and that's why." Behind the tinted windows, his confusion resolved into fear for himself and his parents. "I felt so bad," he says, "because I was thinking that my mom and dad were going to suffer."
    One of the first people in the Huntington school district to fully realize what was going on with the wave of detentions during the spring and summer of 2017 was Xavier Palacios. A graduate of Huntington's bilingual program and an immigration lawyer, Palacios was elected as the first Latino member of the Huntington School Board in 2012. He believed he was succeeding in helping to make the district a friendly place for immigrants, and then a Huntington High student who also happened to be his client was detained in Operation Matador. When Palacios finally obtained his client's detention memo, the paperwork ICE uses to justify calling someone a gang member, he couldn't believe it. The memo revealed that the student, who Palacios said had not belonged to a gang and had been on track to go to college, had been arrested for social-media images and writing the country code in a school notebook. "I got his immigration file, and I realized, wait a minute, this came from the school," Palacios says. "This is coming from Drew." He says he had always thought of him as a friend.

    Palacios talked to Fiorillo about collecting information that was used to detain students. The school resource officer was cordial and heard Palacios out. Palacios recalls Fiorillo's saying, "I don't want to argue with you, I just want to move forward." When I asked Fiorillo if he had known that his information was shared with ICE, he demurred. "I can't speak to what they do, they being a federal government agency," he said. "I don't work with them." Testimony at an immigration hearing by another Suffolk County school resource officer, George Politis of Brentwood High, whose information collected in school was found in ICE memos, shed some light on the process. Asked what happened after he wrote a report, he said: "It's submitted, and then I don't know how it's disseminated from there. We enter it on a computer, and then it goes to whoever wants to read it within the department."
    Palacios asked his client's teachers for letters of support. But the teachers refused, saying the administration wouldn't allow it. Alex's father and the parents of many of the other detained Huntington students also approached their children's teachers for letters and were also turned down. Cusack, the principal, told me he had been caught off guard by the requests and worried that having staff write about students to third parties would violate students' privacy rights.
    Shortly after Alex was detained, his immigration lawyer spoke to Cusack and recorded the conversation. In the recording, Cusack sounds surprised that Alex was arrested based on a suspension. "We don't send anything to Immigration and Customs," Cusack says in the recording. Then he pauses and adds, "We do have a school resource officer here who works with us." Cusack told me that he had no idea that information from the school was being channeled to ICE. He said that he never believed any of the immigrant students he suspended were gang members, and that his goal with students who drew gang symbols was to warn them away from "presenting themselves as something they are not."
    Cusack's confusion about what information would be conveyed to ICE may have been partly a consequence of not having a formal agreement with the Police Department. The Department of Justice and the National Association of School Resource Officers recommend that police departments and school districts create formal agreements to make sure everyone understands how information will be shared. In Suffolk County, there are no such agreements in place.
    Palacios says he doesn't think Fiorillo or Cusack was out to get immigrant students, but he thought they had an exaggerated worry about the gang. "The fear was that we were going to get hit with a big push of MS-13 in our school district," he says. That summer, he asked for a series of private meetings with school administrators and demanded that they do more to support detained students, including allowing teachers to write letters. It is hard to prove that a student is not part of a gang. "I can't say, 'I'd like to get a letter from the leader of the MS-13 to say this kid is not a gang member,' " he told me. So a teacher's letter of support is crucial.

    In August, the A.C.L.U. brought a class-action suit on behalf of dozens of minors rounded up in ICE gang operations all over the country, demanding that they be given hearings to challenge the evidence against them. The group included the student Palacios represented and a handful of other students from Huntington High; Alex had just turned 19 when he was arrested, so he didn't qualify for the suit. Many of the minors had been sent to a high-security detention center for children in Virginia, where some were strapped to chairs with their heads covered or held naked in dark rooms. A 15-year-old Huntington student, George (his middle name), tried to kill himself twice, once by hanging himself and once by slitting his wrist.
    After a few weeks, the Virginia staff decided that the facility was too restrictive for the well-behaved Long Island teenagers. That summer, the director of a California detention center asked to see ICE's evidence that the detainees were gang members. When ICE wasn't forthcoming, he refused to hold them, and starting in August 2017, they were sent to a group home run by ICE in upstate New York called Children's Village.

    In November 2017, a federal judge ruled that ICE would have to hold individual hearings and present evidence that each minor was a danger to the community. The lead case involved a Brentwood High student, Noel (his middle name), who ICE said was dangerous because he had been seen with suspected MS-13 members and had written the number "503" in a school notebook. ICE labeled Noel a "gang member" when he was detained, then downgraded him to a "probable member" and finally, on the day of his hearing, settled on calling him a person identified by a school resource officer as "associated" with the gang. In an immigration courthouse in Lower Manhattan, Judge Aviva Poczter ordered Noel's immediate release, noting that 503 is a country code. "I think this is slim, slim evidence on which to base the continuing detention of an unaccompanied child," Poczter said.
    In other hearings, ICE presented evidence pulled from the Suffolk Police Department's gang database. Again and again, judges found that the material — a student cited for a gang tattoo who didn't have a tattoo; a photo of a group of suspected gang members that did not include the student in question — was far too weak or inaccurate to detain the students. In the cases involving Huntington students, the "Huntington High resource officer" kept coming up. In one case, he reported that one student was "found to be in possession of MS-13 drawings in his school work." In another, he reported that a student had written "MS-13" on his arm. Ultimately, 30 of the 32 teenagers in the A.C.L.U. lawsuit were freed, including Palacios' client, who returned to school. But of the hundreds of people administratively detained in Operation Matador, most were not minors, and they were fighting losing battles to be allowed to challenge, or even see, the evidence against them.
    It took Alex's parents days to find him. He had been taken to a jail in New Jersey that was being used as an immigration detention center and housed other Long Island students, including some from his high school. It was less than two hours from Huntington, but for his parents it might as well have been across the country: If they tried to visit, they could be detained. Alex wouldn't let his parents take the risk. And he felt sure ICE would release him before the start of his junior year. If everyone always told him that doing well in school was so important, how could officials prevent him from going to class?
    When the first week of school came and went and he remained in jail, he fell into despair. "I don't know how much longer they'll keep me in here, or what my life will be like when I get out," he told me in a visiting room in September 2017. He wore a bunchy orange jumpsuit and canvas slip-ons that his big toe had worn a hole through; his fingernails were long and ragged because he couldn't find nail clippers. "The most important thing is to finish high school. But I don't know if the principal will let me back in."
    Many of the Operation Matador detainees had been moved to the same maximum-security unit, which was about the size of the Huntington High cafeteria. The detainees spent most of their time staring out the windows at sooty buildings and industrial lots or watching soccer games and soap operas on TV. Alex was rarely able to take the classes that the jail offered, because criminal inmates were given priority. "Even when I get out of here, how will my mind be?" Alex asked his parents in one of his nightly calls. In another he told his mother about jumping out of the way when a fight broke out in the ward, and narrowly avoiding getting blood on his shoes. He was nervous about his current cellmate, who he thought was an MS-13 member and a drug addict. He could hear the other boy muttering and pacing at night and was terrified to go to sleep locked up alone with him.

    To get out of detention, Alex would need a hearing. But it was held up by a jurisdictional issue: Should he be considered an unaccompanied minor, as he was when he first requested asylum, or an adult, which he was now? While this issue was disputed, ICE declined to provide any evidence to justify classifying him as an active member of MS-13. At the same time, the government had expedited his asylum case in light of his new designation as a danger to the community. He and his lawyer scrambled to get his documents in order.
    Around Thanksgiving, a Huntington High School bilingual-education administrator contacted Alex's father to say the school was now willing to provide a letter of support for Alex. Victor wondered if the administration might be working with ICE to set a trap for him, but nevertheless he walked the two miles to the school. He and Marina had been saving for a car, but now they had spent all that money on legal fees. In the bright administrative offices, the principal, Cusack, handed over a letter written by Alex's language-arts teacher and told Victor that he understood his plight, because he, too, had children.

    The letter said Alex had progressed from beginner to advanced in two years and had always been well behaved. "He is soft-spoken, polite and compliant with classroom procedures," his teacher wrote. "I personally believe that this young man can have a bright future if we encourage him and guide him to make the right choices in life." Cusack walked Victor to the school door. "Let me know if we can do anything more," he said. Outside, Victor turned to look back at the blue devil painted on the front of the school building that had once gleamed with the promise of his son's success.
    When Victor told Alex that other Huntington High students detained in Operation Matador had been released, Alex assumed that he would have his detention hearing soon and be released as well. In December 2017, while he was waiting, Alex was called to his asylum hearing in a federal immigration court in New York City. According to a transcript, the government lawyer asked him exclusively about his school suspension, his being labeled a gang member and the meaning of the number 504. Judge Lauren F. Weintraub interrupted Alex's testimony about whether he would be safe in Honduras to ask whether he had tattoos (he didn't). Asylum hearings sometimes stretch for weeks or months, but after less than an hour with Alex, the judge ordered him deported. When he got back to his cell, he lay on his bed and cried.
    His immigration lawyer explained that Alex could appeal the asylum denial several times, which would give him time to fight his detention. He appealed once and was rejected again in June 2018. He knew that he would be released if he accepted deportation. But he would never have a chance to contest the supposed gang evidence against him or use the teacher's letter of support. Each time Alex called home, his father pleaded with him to keep fighting, saying it would tear the family apart if he left.
    But Alex had now been in detention for more than a year. He rarely got out of bed until lunchtime and didn't even have access to a yard. Being locked away on a ward felt like being dead, with the world moving on without him. In his year there, six inmates and detainees had died, including three suicides. When the government sent Alex paperwork asking him to accept the deportation, he signed.
    His father was devastated when Alex told him, but his mother felt her son was unraveling in detention. She even wanted to give up her own asylum claim and go back to Honduras with him, but Victor insisted on keeping the rest of the family together.

    They planned to go to the jail on July 7, 2018, to say goodbye. Alex called them four times the day before and once that morning, asking them not to come because seeing them sad would only make him feel worse. But it was unthinkable for them to let him leave without seeing him, possibly for the last time.
    At the security desk, Marina showed a new state ID she had recently received. Victor presented his Honduran passport, worried every moment that the staff might ask about his legal status. They sat on opposite ends of a bench in the waiting room. "And if he gets sick?" Marina asked Victor. "Who is going to take care of him?" Victor didn't answer.

    Victor went into the windowless visiting room first. Alex had grown more than an inch since he had been arrested, but he had become so pale and thin that he looked younger to his father. Alex told Victor that he had done everything a father could do, and he shouldn't feel bad. Victor's shoulders slumped as he began to cry. "Don't be sad," Alex said. "I'll finally be free."
    He spent his 15 minutes with his mother trying to reassure her that he would be fine and would call her every day. She rose to leave. "I know we'll see each other again," she said. "I just don't know when. But I know we will." She made it out the door and then leaned against the white cinder-block wall, sobbing and mopping her face with a paper towel.
    The teenagers who were freed by the A.C.L.U. lawsuit have found it impossible to return to their old lives. Some of them have had their green-card applications denied on the basis of the same gang claims that federal judges did not find credible. Some never returned to school for fear of being targeted by either MS-13 or school staff.
    Noel, the lead plaintiff, switched to home schooling because he was afraid Brentwood High would hand him over to ICE again. Osmin was released and returned to Huntington High in January 2018, and has had several run-ins with security staff. This November, he says, one security staff member mimed making a phone call and said to him, "You fight again, I'll call the police, and beep beep beep, you'll be gone." He doesn't use social media anymore and sits alone at school so he can't be accused of having gang friends. He said that the students "don't talk about the people who were deported. We don't say their names, because the school is always watching us." (The Huntington Union Free School District declined to answer a series of questions, citing student-privacy issues.)
    George, the Huntington High student who tried to kill himself twice in detention, publicly denounced MS-13 after he returned to school. When gang members then began threatening his life, he went to the principal, Cusack, with Irma Solis, the director of the Suffolk County New York Civil Liberties Union. Cusack called in Officer Fiorillo. According to Solis, Fiorillo seemed friendly at first and asked for the names of the people threatening George. When George was too scared to tell him, Solis said, Fiorillo's manner changed. He lifted a chair and slammed it down, then jabbed a finger in George's face, saying he didn't believe him. Officer Fiorillo explained, she said, that he had already called his colleagues in the gang unit, and George needed to go to the precinct station. "It was like a switch flipped," Solis said. "He said, 'I'm here to help,' and then he went into this interrogation mode." (The Suffolk County Police Department said that Officer Fiorillo "did not feel as though he was intimidating but just trying to help.") George recently dropped out of school and moved away.

    Palacios said the student he is representing has now been denied a visa because of the gang accusations. Palacios is appealing the decision with the help of letters from Huntington High teachers, but he fears it's too late. "I couldn't get the stigma off of him," he said. "That scarlet letter sits on these kids' files forever. When that happens at the immigration level, it's fatal." Cusack said he has implemented implicit-bias training for school staff and has tried to make returning students feel safe. Cusack said he does not pretend to be perfect but has tried to comfort the detained students as they have returned. "I listened to their stories and shed tears with them," he said. "I tried as best as I could to welcome them back and to share my sincere feeling that this is their school, that this is where they belong."
    But across Long Island, immigrant students who get in trouble for minor offenses still risk the same chain of overreactions that led to Alex's deportation. In August 2018, the school district for Bellport High banned students from drawing devil horns and the numbers 503 and 504, or posting them on their private social-media pages. By December, the A.C.L.U. identified about 20 new minors around the country arrested by ICE on shaky gang claims, and it sued to force ICE to reveal the total number of minors who have been detained. ICE now says Operation Matador will be permanent on Long Island. This fall, the initiative won an annual award from the Department of Homeland Security for best new ICE program.

    On July 24, 2018, Alex landed in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. His parents had decided that he couldn't go back to his hometown because he would be a target for the police and MS-13, who might find out that he was deported for gang activity. Instead, he would live with an aunt in La Libertad, a mountain town of pastel pink and green houses interspersed with mango and coconut trees on sloping streets. His aunt Olga found him a room in a boardinghouse a block from a narrow plaza with a faded white-and-gold colonial church. The room had a concrete floor and a toilet and sink in the corner, just like Alex's cell in the detention center. His aunt had furnished a mirror, but Alex turned it to the wall.
    Alex dimly remembered his aunt from childhood Christmases. She remembered him as a lively and brilliant child, but now he seemed absent and distracted. "So much time alone, it's like he's forgotten how to talk," she told me in November. Before, he could sit and concentrate for hours. Now he struggled even to read newspapers, and his hands were always in motion, fidgeting with his ears or his sleeves.
    Alex was scared to go outside. When he left his room, the first thing he saw was "MS-13" spray painted on the wall across the street. Old men with shotguns guarded small stores, young men with MS-13 tattoos on their faces and necks demanded money and a man had just been shot to death at a festival at the plaza.
    After a month, he fell into a routine of sleeping late, watching TV, then eating lunch by himself at the town's one sit-down restaurant. He spent his afternoons sitting on the edge of the plaza's empty planters and dried-out fountains, swinging his legs and texting with friends on Long Island, who were all out of school for the summer. Sometimes he watched Long Island TV news on his phone. He put off going back to his room until the black grackle birds began to shriek, signaling that the sun was setting and the thugs would soon come out. In the evenings, he watched more TV and continued chatting with people in the United States until it was time to go to sleep. He called his parents every night. They offered to send him the clothes and shoes he had left in Huntington, but he wasn't ready to admit he might never return to New York. He still had his phone set to East Coast time.
    When the school year started again, Alex began to feel desperate. His friends were all back in classes now. Some were applying to college. He began to think about trying to sneak back into the United States. He knew that he couldn't go back to Huntington High, but he figured he could at least earn enough working with Victor to take private English lessons. Alex broached the subject with his father. Victor had been feeling unbearably guilty, as if the whole family had crossed a bridge and left Alex on the other side. He agreed to help. Victor and Marina borrowed thousands of dollars and moved with Alex's brother into two rented rooms in Huntington. Toward the end of September, Victor called to say he had found a coyote.

    On Sept. 24, 2018, Alex set off for the United States-Mexico border. The coyote led a group of seven into the Texas desert for a five-day trek. They drank rainwater from puddles to cool down during the day and shivered in the sand at night. One night, the group was waiting to be picked up on a highway when a United States Border Patrol truck came into sight. The group turned back into the desert and ran stumbling for hours. Eventually they stopped to rest, and Alex fell asleep. He awoke to feel a German shepherd sniffing him.
    Under Trump's zero-tolerance policy, Alex was charged with illegal entry, a misdemeanor that carries up to a six-month prison sentence. But a federal judge agreed to release him if he pleaded guilty and accepted immediate deportation. Alex now had a criminal record as well as a 20-year ban, meaning he would be 40 before he could apply for a visa.

    By mid-November, Alex was back in his concrete room in La Libertad. He felt ashamed of himself and sad for his parents. "All the things they sacrificed, all the worry that they've had, it's all my fault," he said. "If I hadn't been detained, I would have finished school, learned English and gotten a good job." He spent his first afternoon back in La Libertad sitting in the plaza, staring at the olive green mountains that rose on every side. The deal his father made with the coyote included two more chances to try to cross the border. But failing again could mean two years in prison and a lifetime ban on getting a visa.
    Staying in Honduras wasn't safe, either. His first weekend back, Alex scrambled up volcanic boulders for 20 minutes to a popular lookout point on the edge of a cliff. Two men soon came climbing over the rocks. They wore beanies pulled low over their eyes in the heat, and even on the uneven boulders, they walked with an unmistakable swagger. The one in front had three dots tattooed on his face, signifying the three places he was willing to go for his gang — prison, the hospital or the morgue. Alex lowered his head and quickly climbed down, terrified.
    The next day, Alex walked 20 minutes outside town to a school on top of a steep hill, looping his thumbs behind the straps of his JanSport backpack the way he used to do in the halls of Huntington High. The school was closed for a long break, but a security guard in neatly pressed slacks let him in. The guard, Macario Zavala, gave Alex a tour, starting with the coffee plantation the school kept to teach students how to work in the fields. The coffee season was about to begin, and red coffee berries shined in clumps against the dark bushes. The guard told Alex that many students managed to work in the fields and go to school at the same time. "You can earn 70 lempira a day cutting coffee during the season," Zavala said.
    "But that's like $3," Alex said. "You can't even buy a shirt with that." In the United States, he earned $90 a day doing landscaping with his father.
    Zavala showed Alex the rest of the campus, a set of buildings without windows or chalkboards set amid banana trees. Alex looked inside a classroom. The walls and desks, and even the teacher's table, were covered with crosshatched doodles. Someone had written out 18 in Roman numerals on the wall. It looked like a sign for the gang Barrio 18. Alex asked if there were thugs in the school, but Zavala shook his head. "The kids do that sometimes, but they're just being dumb," he said. "There are no gang members here, just people trying out pretending."
    Alex stopped to examine a list of people who had failed their courses that was posted on a wall. One of the classes was English. He had thought that to keep learning English, he would have to take a bus two hours to the nearest city. "I think I'd like to enroll here," Alex said to the guard. "It's really nice. I think it would be good to study here, if I'm not too old."
    The guard told Alex that he was welcome anytime, and there were even older students. But he didn't know what good it would do. "The education here doesn't get you anything — this country is full of doctors and engineers who work as taxi drivers," Zavala said. "That's why my family went to the U.S." He told Alex that he had graduated from university himself, with a degree in education, and felt lucky to have this job. The other school guard had a degree in agriculture. "You study, and for what?" he said. "But a person has to do something." Alex nodded. He shoved his thumbs through the straps of his backpacks, thanked the guard and headed back down the hill to the plaza, to check in with New York.


    9) The Iceboxes at the Border
    By Opheli Carcia Lawler, December 26, 2018

    Migrants, immigration activists, and even — allegedly — U.S. government officials have a nickname for the frigid, cramped holding cells in Customs and Border Protection facilities: las hieleras, or "the iceboxes." Women and children detained at the border will routinely spend several nights crowded into these tiny rooms, according to reports, wrapped in foil blankets, shivering, and denied mattresses and medicine.

    In 2013, three undocumented immigrants sued the U.S. government over abuses they said they'd suffered in CBP custody, specifically citing the bitterly cold temperatures. "[One woman's] lips eventually chapped and split," read one of their suits. "The lips and fingers of her two sisters and her sister's child also turned blue." Since then, it seems, little has changed: On December 19, BuzzFeed News reported that a five-month-old girl has been hospitalized with pneumonia after being held in a hielera for five days with her mother. Within two days of being released from detention, she had a 102.7-degree fever and was throwing up.

    The U.S. government is incredibly opaque about the conditions in their facilities; a CBP representative wouldn't confirm the existence of hieleras to the Cut, and the agency has previously insisted that their cells are kept at 70 degrees. Reports from watchdog organizations and first-hand accounts from those who've been held in detention paint a starkly different picture, though: one of rampant abuse, neglect, and dangerously low temperatures. Here's what we know.

    According to a February 2018 report from the Human Rights Watch, the conditions in the detention run by CBP centers are abysmal. In addition to the frigid temperatures, migrants are reportedly subjected to intense overcrowding, forced to sleep on concrete floors, and denied showers, soap, and toothpaste. The first photos of a hielera were only publicly released in 2016; they show over a dozen people sharing a tiny, concrete room in a Tucson facility, huddled under foil blankets.

    "They took us to a room that was cold and gave us aluminum blankets," a Guatemalan woman who had been held in an Arizona detention center in 2017 told HRW. "There were no mats. We slept on the bare floor. It was cold, really cold."

    Another woman, who crossed with her two-year-old son in 2015, was detained in Texas described similar conditions. "We were completely soaked from crossing the river. We'd waded in the water up to our waists. The place they held us was really cold. They only gave us a paper blanket. That's all we had to keep us warm," she said. "We were sitting on the cement floor, completely freezing. In the end, I had to sleep seated upright, with my son in my lap, because I couldn't let him lay down on the cement floor. He would have been much too cold."

    Because there is limited access to the detention centers managed by the CBP, there's no way to be sure how long, exactly, hieleras have existed; like many of America's more brutal immigration policies and practices, they became widespread in the wake of September 11, when immigration issues were passed over to the newly created Department of Homeland Security. (A 2013 report from Univision on the use of hieleras details conditions not much different than those reported today.) There's also no way to gauge the exact temperature they keep the cells — but years of complaints paint a picture of unlivable circumstances.

    "It seems pretty likely to me that the persistent issues with the temperature are connected to this basic indifference and desire to create a punishing environment," Clara Long, the lead researcher on the HRW report, told the Cut. "I think CBP's response so far has been very telling of that; these talking points that are like 'this is why we don't people to bring their children on these dangerous journeys.' As if, somehow, the indifference of the U.S. government is a legitimate danger that migrants should have to face."

    In the past, the CBP has denied that their treatment of migrants is substandard. But in July, when the agency was involved in the family separations, Reuters reported that hundreds of migrants gave sworn statements detailing the mistreatment and abuses they faced in CBP custody. CBP declined to comment on the hieleras, or any individual cases that may have involved them, to the Cut.

    In May, a Honduran woman named Roxana Hernández died in ICE custody after being detained in a CBP facility. Multiple organizations reported that she was held in a hielera before her death; official reports say she displayed "symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration, and complications associated with HIV," and a subsequent investigation from the Transgender Law Center indicated she had been beaten before her death.

    "She was processed and held for five days in the dreaded 'icebox' — holding cells with extremely low temperatures — in U.S. Customs and Border Protection, suffering cold, lack of adequate food or medical care, with the lights on 24 hours a day, under lock and key," read a statement about Hernández's death from the organizations Diversidad Sin Fronteras, Al Otro Lado, and Pueblo Sin Fronteras.

    And earlier this year, an 18-month-old Guatemalan girl named Mariee died less than two months after being released from U.S. government custody in Texas, where she and her mother had been held for weeks. The first few days of their detention, they were held in a CBP hielera before being moved to the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. While they were held at the CBP facility, they were "forced to sleep on the floor of a locked cage with as many as 30 other people," according to a lawsuit her mother filed.

    Mariee's mother, Yazmin Juárez, and her lawyers said that the Mariee was never given adequate healthcare, and that Juárez's repeated requests for medical attention were ignored. Juarez is now suing the United States for $60 million dollars in damages.

    In a statement to the Cut, CBP declined to comment "due to pending litigation."


    10) 'Beyond Repulsive': Outrage After Trump DHS Secretary Blames 'Parents' and 'Open Borders' Advocates for Deaths of Children in US Custody
    By Jake Johnson, December 27, 2018

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testifies during a hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 16, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

    As human rights groups, Democratic lawmakers, and the United Nations demanded an independent probe into the deaths of two Guatemalan children in U.S. Border Patrol custody, President Donald Trump's Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen sparked outrage on Wednesday by declaring that "open borders" advocates and the kids' "own parents"—not Trump's inhumane treatment of immigrants—are to blame.

    "Our system has been pushed to a breaking point by those who seek open borders," Nielsen said in a statement just hours after eight-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez died in U.S. custody on Christmas day. "Smugglers, traffickers, and their own parents put these minors at risk by embarking on the dangerous and arduous journey north."

    Nielsen, who signed off on the Trump administration's internationally condemnedfamily separation policy, was immediately denounced for attempting to deflect attention and blame away from the White House's anti-immigrant agenda.

    In a statement on Wednesday, National Nurses United (NNU) pinned the deaths of the two young children on Trump's treatment of asylum-seekers fleeing violence and persecution as "criminals."

    "Nurses, whose life work is to protect and heal, are appalled at the lack of humane treatment for vulnerable children, and their families, who are seeking refuge and safety in the U.S.," said Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director of NNU, in a statementon Wednesday. "Our government must stop treating these families, and their children as criminals. The imagery of a migrant child dying on Christmas day is especially disturbing, but we need a policy of caring and compassion every day."

    Castillo concluded that the Trump administration must "immediately end its practice of warehousing families and children in the 'hierleras,' make sure that all the families and children are provided safe and secure conditions while being considered for asylum, and guarantee that medical professionals are fully available to provide the ongoing professional medical assessment and needed care and support for them."

    As Common Dreams reported on Wednesday, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it will now order medical checks for all minors in its custody.

    In response, critics immediately demanded to know why it took at least two deaths in a single month for CBP to order such basic medical examinations—and why young children are being detained in the first place.

    "Why are they jailing children under ten?" asked Scott Hechinger, senior staff attorney and director of policy at Brooklyn Defender Services.


    11)  Investigation Finds at Least $800M in Taxpayer Money Went to Funding For-Profit Immigrant Prisons in 2018
    By Jake Johnson, December 27, 2018

    Emily Ryo, an associate professor at the University of California's Gould School of Law, said the working conditions at these facilities are effectively indistinguishable from "slave labor." (Photo: Customs and Border Protection)

    While President Donald Trump's anti-immigrant agenda has been disastrous and deadly for asylum-seekers fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries, a Daily Beast investigation published on Thursday found that the White House's xenophobic policies have been a major boon for the private prison industry—at the expense of American taxpayers.

    According to the Daily Beast's Adam Rawnsley and Spencer Ackerman, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) budget records show that for-profit immigrant detention centers run by corporate giants like CoreCivic and GEO Group raked in over $800 million in taxpayer money in 2018 alone, thanks to generous government contracts that are largely kept secret from the public.

    "For 19 privately owned or operated detention centers for which the Daily Beast could find recent pricing data, ICE paid an estimated $807 million in fiscal year 2018," Rawnsley and Ackerman reported. "Those 19 prisons hold 18,000 people—meaning that for-profit prisons currently lock up about 41 percent of the 44,000 people detained by ICE. But that's not a comprehensive total, and the true figures are likely significantly higher."

    As Ackerman pointed out on Twitter, the estimated $807 million cost to taxpayers is also "certainly an undercount, because ICE's accounting of how many for-profit prisons it contracts to is opaque."

    On top of documenting the big profits private prison corporations are making from Trump's immigration dragnet, the Daily Beast also highlighted the brutal and "exploitative" conditions of the for-profit detention facilities, where detained aslyum-seekers work for as little as $1 a day.

    Yesica, a 23-year-old woman who fled El Salvador after MS-13 persecuted her for being a lesbian, described the Texas facility where she is currently detained as "like a torture chamber."

    "This is a really terrible place," Yesica, who works the kitchen graveyard shift for $3 a day, said of the Joe Corley Detention Center. "It's inhumane."

    Emily Ryo, an associate professor at the University of California's Gould School of Law, told the Daily Beast that the working conditions at these facilities are effectively indistinguishable from "slave labor."

    "To the extent that the industry is in the business of expanding the system so they can make more money off holding more immigrants that can be confined, and doing everything possible to profit off of it by labor processes like getting detainees to work and paying them a dollar a day, there is very little distinction you can draw between slave labor and what they're doing," Ryo said.

    Laura Lunn, an attorney with the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network in Colorado, agreed with this assessment, declaring, "The whole system is exploitative."

    "It takes away the humanity of the people it detains and tells them, 'you can't be with your family, you can't go outside, you have very little agency, and while you're here, you've got to represent yourself in an immigration case without any tools, really, to succeed,'" Lunn concluded. "The labor piece of their detention is a small fragment of the ways their dignity is stripped from them. It's dehumanizing."


    12) My Picks for Athlete of the Year Carried That Weight
    By Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Guardian UK, December 27, 2018
    Colin Kaepernick, Maggie Nichols and Serena Williams left us better off because of their commitment to sport and society

    oday's athletes have to carry a lot more baggage than a smelly gym bag and the giddy dreams of their parents. If they hope to achieve true greatness (or GOAT-ness) – and not just fleeting athletic notoriety – they also have to shoulder the leg-wobbling weight of responsibility to the community. This responsibility can come in different forms: charity work, as a role model and/or political activism. At the same time as they're pushing the boundaries of their sport, they have to help define and promote the values of their community, even if that goes against some of the members of that community. That kind of athlete needs as much courage off the court as they do on it. Maybe more. With that in mind, in no particular order, here are my picks for athlete of the year, based on conduct most becoming a professional athlete.

    Colin Kaepernick, football

    Colin Kaepernick is still being punished by the NFL for exercising his right to peaceful free speech. Despite protestations of innocence from various teams, his continued absence from the league is a deliberate message meant to keep players in line and pander to football fans who aren't also fans of the Bill of Rights. This is truly a case of a league misreading the room – and the decade. His influence has only spread more during his enforced absence from football. Nike's use of his image in their ad campaign increased sales 31%. On 14 December, seven members of the Prince George County Board of Education sent a letter to Washington requesting they give Kaepernick an immediate tryout for the team after their two starting quarterbacks went down with injury: "We believe that giving Kaepernick an opportunity will send the right message to our students and community members, who see him as someone who cares about issues affecting our community." Washington have instead chosen to start a quarterback who last threw a pass in the NFL in 2011. Kaepernick risked everything to quietly protest racial injustice while the NFL is unwilling to risk anything to do what's right.

    Maggie Nichols, gymnastics

    University of Oklahoma gymnast Maggie Nichols will be honored in January with the 2018 NCAA Inspiration Award. This year she won an NCAA individual national championship as well as becoming the first gymnast with two perfect 10s on every event. She is the only gymnast to post back-to-back "Gym Slams" with a 10.0 on every event in consecutive seasons. What makes her achievements even more remarkable is that she accomplished this while undergoing the kind of personal stress that would have sidelined most of us. Right before the start of the 2018 season, Nichols revealed that she was the first of what would become hundreds of young girls to accuse Larry Nassar, the team doctor for USA Gymnastics, of sexual molestation.

    Beyond exposing the exploitation of the athletes, her courage in coming forth also led to uncovering the negligence of the USA Gymnastics organization in stopping the abuse. The subsequent lawsuits have resulted in USA Gymnastics declaring bankruptcy and a complete reorganization. "Coming forward made me a stronger person," Nichols said. "Going through such a traumatic event and growing the courage to come forward took a lot of strength for me. It was very hard. But after I did so, I felt that I was inspiring others which gave me so much strength and made me feel like an inspiration which is so motivating." Because of her and the other gymnasts who have come forward, thousands of other young girls are safer to focus on the joys of the sport instead of worrying about predators.

    Serena Williams, tennis

    No one disputes Serena Williams' place as one of the most successful athletes in the world. She has dominated tennis for most of her career, tying Steffi Graf's record of being ranked number one by the Women's Tennis Association for 186 consecutive weeks. Her achievements have not only encouraged young girls to take up tennis, but her prominence as a black woman in a mostly white sport has inspired more African-American girls to pursue the sport. That would be enough to make her one of the most influential athletes this year. But she has gone even further in redefining the sport by redefining the way females are perceived, not just as athletes, but as women.

    For most of her career, she has faced body shaming for being a muscular woman. Watching her stride onto the court confident in her powerful body is a stark refutation of the harmful traditional view of beauty which praises skinny, physically weak women in need of a man's strength. Fortunately, that grotesque and self-loathing image is being replaced by women like Williams who aren't ashamed of their muscles.

    Williams is also the embodiment of what NFL coach Vince Lombardi used to say: "It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up." She returned to professional tennis just months after giving birth, a procedure that nearly killed her due to a pulmonary embolism that required multiple surgeries. Despite the trauma to her body, she is back playing as hard as ever, demonstrating that motherhood is not an impediment to ambition, but a bonus in providing a new perspective. "I think having a baby might help," Williams said. "When I'm too anxious I lose matches, and I feel like a lot of that anxiety disappeared when Olympia was born. Knowing I've got this beautiful baby to go home to makes me feel like I don't have to play another match. I don't need the money or the titles or the prestige. I want them, but I don't need them. That's a different feeling for me." That difference was demonstrated when she returned to play tennis, only to find that the WTA had changed her world ranking from number 1 to 451, a clear punishment, whether intended or not, for her taking time off to have a baby. After public outcry, the WTA this week changed their rules regarding women returning from giving birth. Williams continues to improve the sport through her athleticism and her social stances.

    Coach John Wooden taught me that sports wasn't just about making us better athletes, but about making us better people. Compassion, kindness, and morality were more important than a championship season. Fame wasn't an accomplishment, it was an opportunity to show our gratitude to the community that we are a part of by changing it for the better. That's what these three exceptional athletes have done this year: left us better off because of their commitment to a sport and to society.


    13) A Second Chance for Prisoners, and Their Warden
    As a school board member in Wolf Point, Mont., Ron Jackson couldn't help struggling Native American students as much as he hoped. Now some of them are his inmates.
    By Erica L. Green and Annie Waldman, December 28, 2018

    Wallace Archdale, 23, in a segregation unit at the Fort Peck Indian Reservation adult correctional facility in Poplar, Mont.

    This article was reported and written in a collaboration with ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative journalism organization.

    WOLF POINT, Mont. — Every day Ron Jackson walks into work and is reminded of his failures.

    As Mr. Jackson, the warden of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation adult correctional facility, patrols the cells, he sees Native American inmates who might be leading productive lives on the outside if they had graduated from high school. And Mr. Jackson, a member of the Assiniboine tribe, says he feels partly responsible.

    Before becoming warden, he served on the Wolf Point school board for 15 years, 10 as its chairman. He pushed to curb discrimination in the town's schools against Native Americans, who make up more than half of students but less than one-fifth of the staff. He fought for more reading instruction and other support for Native children and challenged decisions to expel them. But his efforts mostly fell flat as the white majority on the board outvoted or ignored him.

    Now he has been meeting some of those dropouts as adults on the other end of the school-to-prison pipeline.

    "I still see the effects of our schools," he said. "We got grandparents 70, 80 years old, can't read and write because they went to these schools. Their kids are doing the same thing; they don't care if they go to school."

    At 64, Mr. Jackson hasn't given up. More than a century ago, the federal government opened up unused land on the reservation to white settlers, whose descendants have long dominated Wolf Point's politics, business and school system. But corrections and policing of tribal members has been under Native control for decades, and Mr. Jackson is trying to make the most of it. 

    Built in 2014, the two-story correctional facility in Poplar, 20 miles from Wolf Point, has about 70 inmates at a time. It serves as both a jail and a prison; some inmates are awaiting trial, while others have been convicted of violent crimes. Mr. Jackson has shifted its focus from punishment to rehabilitation and education.

    One of his first acts as warden after being appointed by the tribal executive board in 2016 was to gather the inmates in a circle and lead them in a prayer for redemption. He also allowed prisoners to travel overnight to powwows and other Native ceremonies. Although many of them struggle with substance abuse, they all passed drug tests on their return. This year, Mr. Jackson introduced a G.E.D. program to help inmates earn diplomas.

    Inmates point to the failures of Wolf Point's schools at key moments in their youths. Elton Lambert, 19, who was serving four months for criminal mischief, sat in gray sweatpants and an orange sweatshirt in a circular meeting room with a skylight and murals of feathers and eagles etched on the walls, as he recounted getting kicked out of a Wolf Point school in second grade.

    "I would get mad and walk out of the classroom and throw stuff around," he said. "I acted out because I had a hard time reading, and I didn't want to read out loud."

    Beginning at age 6, Mr. Lambert was sent off the reservation to residential treatment centers for troubled children. When he returned to Wolf Point at age 12, the school wouldn't take him back, citing his earlier outbursts and saying that he had fallen so far behind that he would be teased, he said.

    "I wanted to go back to school because I wanted my education," he said. "They denied me, so I just kept getting back in trouble."

    Wallace Archdale Jr., 23, who is serving 16 months for domestic abuse, said he was held back two years in middle school, then told he couldn't graduate because he would be too old. He dropped out, he said. 

    "They just watch you until you mess up, so they can kick you out," he said.

    Unlike the schools, Mr. Archdale and Mr. Lambert said, the prison offers a sense of tribal community. Family lineage is celebrated and traditional religious ceremonies are woven into inmates' schedules. Mr. Jackson built a sweat lodge where inmates perform a purifying and healing ceremony. The facility offers alcohol and drug counseling, and mental health evaluations, and a women's center conducts parenting groups and domestic violence counseling for male and female inmates.

    "It helps the people on the inside to know that the warden cares for them and also tries to walk his talk as much as possible," said Christine Holler-Dinsmore, the pastor of Spirit of Life Ministries, who provides spiritual guidance to inmates. "The depths of the pain of what people have experienced here is tragic, and that's one thing that Ron understands. Nobody here is a stranger to the struggles."

    Mr. Jackson was born on the reservation but grew up in Gary, Ind., where his family moved with help from the Indian Relocation Act of 1956, a federal law that provided job training to Native Americans and encouraged them to leave the reservations for urban areas. He returned to Wolf Point in the late 1960s. As a high school athlete, he said, his Native peers nicknamed him "apple," mocking his popularity with white students — red on the outside, white on the inside. Of more than 100 Native students in his freshman class, only he and nine others graduated.

    Mr. Jackson was born on the reservation but grew up in Gary, Ind., where his family moved with help from the Indian Relocation Act of 1956, a federal law that provided job training to Native Americans and encouraged them to leave the reservations for urban areas. He returned to Wolf Point in the late 1960s. As a high school athlete, he said, his Native peers nicknamed him "apple," mocking his popularity with white students — red on the outside, white on the inside. Of more than 100 Native students in his freshman class, only he and nine others graduated.

    Mr. Jackson climbed the ranks on the reservation, holding jobs in law enforcement and at the local community college. He joined the school board in 1991, thinking that with more Native voices at the table, he could change the system. 

    "Just about every time you brought up an issue on your agenda, you'd talk about that, that it wasn't fair," Mr. Jackson said. "Every time we had to go into executive session for a child, they expelled them."

    A tribal elder named him Pte Mnonga Nadambi, "Charging Bull," but his efforts were largely in vain. Even when he toured the schools, he was treated differently from white board members.

    "I walk down the hall and one of my teachers walks by and acts like I'm not even there," he said. "I told them I am really getting tired of walking down the hall and having my own people, the guys that I sign their checks, ignoring me."

    After he lost election in 2012, the board was all white. Mr. Jackson and six other Native residents sued the school district, contending that the boundaries of Wolf Point's school board districts discriminated against Native Americans by giving greater voting power to whites. Less than a year after the suit was filed, the district entered into a consent decreeto draw more equitable district lines. Today, half the school board members are Native American or of Native descent.

    Still, mistreatment of Native students persists, he said. "Nothing works here."

    Erica L. Green is a correspondent in Washington covering education and education policy. Before joining The Times, she wrote about education for The Baltimore Sun.



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