U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!
Stop U.S. Wars and Racism!
No to NATO!

Sunday, March 31, 2019 Oakland Federal Building
13th Street and Clay, Oakland, CA @ 1:00 PM

Honor Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. and his famous April 4 speech against the Vietnam war, racism and poverty.

No to Racism, Sexism, LGBTQI discrimination, Anti- Immigrant Walls/Deportations and Environmental Destruction. U.S. Hands Off Africa, Latin America & the Middle East- from Haiti, Nicaragua and Cuba to the Philippines, Palestine & Syria

Sponsors: Spring Action Coalition 2019; United National Antiwar Coalition For information contact: jmackler@lmi.net or judygreenspan1952@gmail.com 

U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!
Stop U.S. Wars and Racism!
No to NATO!
Sunday, March 31, 2019 Oakland Federal Building
13th Street and Clay, Oakland, 1:00 PM
SponsorsSpring Action Coalition 2019; United National Antiwar CoalitioFor information contactjmackler@lmi.net or judygreenspan1952@gmail.com
Honor Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. and his famous April 4 speech against the Vietnam war, racism and poverty.
No to Racism, Sexism, LGBTQI discrimination, Anti- Immigrant Walls/Deportations and Environmental Destruction. U.S. Hands Off Africa, Latin America & the Middle East- from Haiti, Nicaragua and Cuba to the Philippines, Palestine & Syria
Labor Donated 



How to buy a gun in the U.S. and New Zeland:

New Zealand to Ban Military-Style Semiautomatic Guns, Jacinda Ardern Says
By Damien Cave and Charlotte Graham-McLay, March 20, 2019













Gaza's Great March of Return - 1 Year Anniversary, Rally and March- March 30th, SF @noon

We call on supporters of freedom, justice and humanity to join us in solidarity with Gaza and the Palestinian struggle as a whole. We will meet at 24th and Mission Bart in SF, then march through the Mission. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019 marks the first anniversary of the Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip and the 43rd anniversary of Land Day in Palestine. This is an invitation for supporters of justice around the world to raise their voices. One year ago March 30th, tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees from Gaza began weekly peaceful protests calling to lift the Israeli-Egyptian blockade and for the right to return to their ancestral homes. Since the Great Return March protests began Israeli snipers have killed 256 Palestinian men, women and children in cold blood-and injured 30,000. Meanwhile today, US made bombs are literally raining down on 2 million trapped Gazans.

The Higher National Commission for the March of Return and Breaking the Siege announced preparations to organize a mega march on the first anniversary of the March of Return and on the Land Day, March 30. In a news conference held in Gaza, head of the Commission Khaled al-Batsh said that this event would be a hundred percent peaceful and would take place in the five border camps of the March of Return. He also called for a general strike in all of Palestine on the same day of the anniversary, urging Palestinians in the West Bank and the world to organize marches to confront the dangers threatening their lives as a result of Israeli barriers and settlements.  Join us!  #GreatReturnMarch #March30

Noura Khouri


Call for a Palestine Liberation Movement

The 1st Anniversary of the 'Great March of Return' is March 30. 

                   Call initiated by the One State Assembly, February 9, 2019
All articles represent the opinions of the authors – not UNAC Positions

The 1st Anniversary of the 'Great March of Return' is March 30.  This is also the commemoration known as Land Day to Palestinians.   Land Day commemorates a massacre of 6 Palestinian 'citizens' of Israel who were protesting the Israeli government's appropriation of thousands of donums of Palestinian land in 1976.  
Today, more than 40 years later, Israel is murdering Palestinian protesters in the Great March of Return on a daily basis.  While claiming that others threaten the state of Israel, the Israeli occupation of the ancient land of Palestine (and parts of Lebanon and Syria as well) is increasingly genocidal.   

What follows is a statement by the One State Assembly in support of One Democratic State of Palestine.    Please sign and endorse the statement to support the Palestinian right of return and a future for an open democratic state in historic Palestine rather than an ethno-religious encampment.  Sign before March 30th and stand with the Palestinian people and Palestine on Land Day.  

Call for A Palestine Liberation Movement and One Democratic State of Palestine
We say YES to the just national struggle for our rights, which unifies the living energies of our people. We are inspired by our glorious history, our great leaders and their decisive battles, our martyrs, our prisoners, our restless youth and those in refugee camps, waiting on the realization of their inalienable right of return. We say NO to begging at the doors of the occupiers in pursuit of crumbs. This has led Palestinians and will lead them to more division and bloody infighting

Palestine was colonized for strategic, imperial reasons: it is at the junction of three continents, with key transport links and easy access for the hegemonic powers on their way to the oil wealth of the Arab nations. But the colonists could not evacuate the Palestinian people, who have lived here for more than 6,000 years.

After a century of dealing with the European colonial states and American imperialism, our Arab nation has been betrayed, and is still being betrayed, by the terror of these countries.
The illusion that Zionists want peace must be confronted. When will we wake up? We cannot speak of a national state for the Palestinians if we do not liberate ourselves from our petty differences while under siege and occupation. We have to recognize reality: that we continue in a period of national liberation, not in a period of state building.

For this reason we believe in the need to withdraw completely from farcical negotiations with the colonial entity. These only cover up and legalize the occupation. They suggest fair solutions which don't exist, deepening Palestinian conflicts and leading to bloody infighting.

The national liberation stage must precede the construction of the national state. Recognizing this provides a compass to guide us in our national priorities and relations with others. This means no more agreements with the occupiers. They will not commit to agreements, and experience shows they are part of a great deception, falsely called a 'peace process'.

This 'Peace Process' became a façade for the colonial entity to proceed with a so-called 'political solution'. Really, they needed Palestinian participation to pave the way for the oppressive Arab regimes to end the boycott and 'normalize' relationships with the entity.
As Arab markets were closed to the Zionist entity by a blockade, it was necessary to find ways to open them through 'normalization'. But Palestinian resistance had generated popular sympathy in the Arab and Islamic world, and formed a major obstacle to this 'normalization'. Zionist leader Shimon Perez admitted:
"The main goal of the Oslo conventions was not Palestinians, but rather normalization with the Arab world and opening its markets."
Yet national liberation requires confronting, not submitting to, foreign hegemony. We say that the leadership of our national movement has ignored this, and has instead engaged in binding relations with the occupying entity and its patrons.

The history of the colonial entity in Palestine is nothing more than a history of the destruction of the Palestinian people and their civilization. Two thirds of our people have been displaced and more than 90% of our land has been stolen. Our land, water and houses are stolen and demolished every day, while apartheid walls are built and the racist nation-state law is being enforced by Israeli legislators. There is also a permanent aggression against the peoples of the region, to subjugate them through Salafist terrorism and economic siege.

The USA supports the Zionist entity with money, weapons, missiles and aircraft, while protecting it from punishment at the UN, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, abolishing its financial support for the United Nations Refugees and Work Agency (UNRWA) and halting its financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. How can the USA or its regional puppets ever be 'honest brokers' for the people of Palestine?

The invaders falsely used divine religion in attempts to destroy the indigenous people and their cultures. They said this was an 'empty land', available for another people with no land, but with the 'divine promise' of a religious homeland. Yet hiding settler colonization behind the banner of Judaism wrongly places responsibility on religion for the crimes of the colonizers.

We have no problem with 'Jewish' people in Palestine. That problem emerged in capitalist Europe, not in our countries. We are not the ones to create a solution to Europe's 'Jewish problem'. Rather, we have to deal with colonization and foreign hegemony in our region.

The colonial entity and its imperial patrons have brought the people of Palestine to a historic juncture. We, the residents of historic Palestine, must dismantle the terms of our collective extermination so as to set up relations which reject racial segregation and mutual negation. We must dismantle the closed structure and replace it with an open, non-imperial and humane system. This can only be achieved by establishing One Democratic State of Palestine for its indigenous people, the refugees who we were forced out of the country and its current citizens. This is the key to a 'fair and permanent solution of conflict' in the region, and to a 'just solution' for the Palestinian cause. Failing this, war and mutual destruction will continue.

Yet the old Palestinian leadership has presided over regression. They make agreements for the benefit of the colonial entity and its patrons. They abandon 1948 Palestine and the refugees. They collaborate with our enemies while delivering no tangible benefit for our people.

For these reasons we say that this leadership has become a real obstacle to any future development or advancement for our people. This leadership has lost its qualifications to lead national action. It looks to its own benefit and is too weak to learn the lessons of the anti-colonial movements of the peoples of Asia, Africa and the Americas. It does not see the advances elsewhere in challenging US hegemony. It does not even see the resistance in the Arab and Muslim World, when they manage to foil US and Zionist projects.

Our movement must be an organic part of the Arab Liberation Movement, putting an end to foreign hegemony, achieving national unity and liberating Palestine from the current apartheid system. Yet this great humanitarian goal directly clashes with the interests of the dominant triad – the forces of global hegemony, settler apartheid and the comprador Arab regimes.

We warn all against chasing the myth of 'two contiguous states' in Palestine. This is a major deception, to portray ethnic enclaves within Palestine as an expression of the right to popular self-determination. The goal must be to replace apartheid with equal citizenship and this can only be achieved by establishing One Democratic State in historic Palestine for all, including its indigenous people, the refugees who we were forced out of the country and its current citizens, including those who were drawn into the country as settlers through the Zionist project.

Palestinian parties negotiating for unity and reform should focus on restoring liberation to the core of the Palestinian National Charter. The Arab homeland will never be liberated and unified by subordination to the USA! It will only be liberated by confronting and ending colonial and imperial dominance.

We say YES to national unity in the framework of our Palestinian Liberation Movement, freed from deceptive agreements which only serve the hegemonic powers and comprador regimes.

LONG LIVE PALESTINE, liberated from racial colonization and built on the foundations of equality for all its citizens, rejecting segregation and discrimination by religion, culture or ethnicity; friends with its regional neighbours and with all progressive forces of the world!
One State Assembly
Jerusalem, Palestine

Signatories include: Richard Falk, Tariq Ali, Paul Larudee, Kevin Zeese, Tim Anderson, Amal Wahdan, Judith Bello, Ken Stone, Issa Chaer,  Ali Mallah, Alicia Jrapko …..
Endorsers: Free Palestine Movement, Palestine Solidarity Forum (India), Syria Solidarity Movement, United Front Against Facism and War (Canada), Communist Reconstruction (Canada), Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War, Hands Off Syria Coalition, International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity




Please note change of venue:



Courage to Resist
free chelsea manning
Free Chelsea Manning (again)!
U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been sent back to jail after refusing to answer questions before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. She could be jailed for up to 18 months this time.
As she was being taken back into custody on March 8th, she declared, "I will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to, particularly one that has been historically used to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech."  Here's how to offer your support.

randy rowland
Podcast: Randy Rowland, GI resister
"I was the reluctant guy who's bit by bit by bit, just had to face the facts that things weren't the way I had been raised to believe that they were. It wasn't like I planned to be a resister or a troublemaker or anything of the sort," explains Randy Rowland, an organizer of the "Presidio 27 Mutiny."
This Courage to Resist podcast is the first in series to be produced in collaboration with the Vietnam Full Disclosure effort of Veterans for Peace — "Towards an honest commemoration of the American war in Vietnam." This year marks 50 years of GI resistance, in and out of uniform, for many of the courageous
individuals featured. Listen to Randy's story here.

ctr video
We shared our new 75 second promotional video on Facebook this week. Yes, FB is kind of evil, but we still reach a lot of folks that way. Please check it out, share with friends, and "like" our FB page.
ctr video
During Sunday's Objector Church online meetup, James Branum discussed the heroism of US Army Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds (1919–1985). MSgt Edmonds was the ranking US NCO at the Stalag IX-A POW Camp when he was captured in Germany during WWII. At the risk of his life, he prevented an estimated 200 Jews from being singled out from the camp for Nazi persecution and likely death. Watch the video here.
484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559
www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist


DA Krasner: At long last, turn the page on Mumia Abu-Jamal case!

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In 1981, Mumia Abu-Jamal was a former Black Panther and respected public radio journalist in Philadelphia, when he was jailed after a disputed incident in which police officer Daniel Faulkner was killed. In 1982, Abu-Jamal was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by Judge Albert Sabo, known as a "hanging judge" who'd sent more people to Death Row than any other U.S. judge.

Human rights groups like Amnesty International criticized the trial, pointing to racial bias and "possible political influences that may have prevented him from receiving an impartial and fair hearing." Unsuccessful appeals over the years have argued that prosecutors suppressed evidence and that blacks were systematically purged from the jury.

But after 37 years behind bars, much of it on death row in solitary confinement, Abu-Jamal now has some real hope.

Click here to tell Larry Krasner, Philadelphia's progressive District Attorney, that it's time to turn the page on Abu-Jamal's case.

Last December, Abu-Jamal won a major victory when Philadelphia Judge Leon Tucker ruled that he had the right to re-appeal his case because of the appearance of bias during the appeals process – specifically that a former DA-turned-Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice who'd blocked Abu-Jamal's appeals should have recused himself from the case.

This victory, clearing the path for a possible new trial, seemed especially hopeful because in 2017 Philadelphia voters, especially African American voters, had elected Krasner – a longtime foe of mass incarceration, the death penalty, and racism in criminal justice.

Click here to urge DA Krasner not to resist Judge Tucker's ruling and let justice be served.

At the end of January, Krasner shocked many by announcing that he would challenge Judge Tucker's decision to give Abu-Jamal the right to appeal, apparently over his concern that it might open up appeals for other convicted prisoners. Days later, Krasner was disinvited from a progressive law conference at Yale which he was to keynote, and conference organizers urged Krasner to drop his resistance to Abu Jamal's appeal: "We cannot understand how DA Krasner's decision in this case serves justice or the transformative vision that he ran on."

Add your voice to those who want DA Krasner to reverse course on Abu-Jamal's case – and to ask the DA: "Isn't nearly four decades behind bars more than enough?!" 

After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.

This work is only possible with your financial support. Please chip in $3 now. 

-- The RootsAction.org Team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.

>> Amnesty International: "A Life in the Balance: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal" (Feb. 2000)
>> Essence: "Judge Rules Mumia Abu-Jamal Can Reargue Appeal To The Pennsylvania Supreme Court" (Dec. 28, 2018)
>> Philly.com: "Philly DA Larry Krasner disinvited to speak at Yale Law conference" (Feb. 2, 2019)
>> The Intercept.com: "Larry Krasner Responds to Progressive Critics" (Feb. 9, 2019)
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Mumia Abu-Jamal


On January 3, 2019 the office of District Attorney Larry Krasner filed a letter memorandum to Judge Leon Tucker.  "DA [Larry Krasner], and members of his staff went to a remote and largely inaccessible of the DA's office marked "Storage" looking for office furniture." And found six boxes of files on Mumia Abu-Jamal's case that were not produced duringthe recent court proceedings.

The District Attorney Krasner's remarkable and suspicious discovery of six boxes of files marked Mumia or Mumia Abu-Jamal hidden in a storage room on December 28 was one day after Judge Tucker's historic decision granting Mumia Abu-Jamal new rights of appeal.

This is confirmation of what we've known for decades--the prosecution has hidden exculpatory evidence in Mumia's case.  Evidence that is likely proof that Mumia's guilt was intentionally manufactured by the police and prosecution and the truth of his innocence suppressed.

These files should be released to the public. DA Krasner should take this as evidence of the total corruptness of this prosecution against an innocent man. The remedy for this is nothing less than dismissal of the charges against Mumia and his freedom from prison!

It took DA Krasner six days to report this find to Judge Tucker. Why? And who has gone through those six boxes of files on Mumia's case? What assurance can DA Krasner give that there hasn't been further tampering with and covering up of the evidence, which led to an innocent man being framed for murder and sentenced to death?

The DA's letter was not publicly available, nor was the January 3 docket filing shown on the court's public access web pages of docket filing, until January 9.

Rachel Wolkenstein, January 10, 2019
WHYY (an affiliate of NPR)
Philly prosecutors discover mysterious 'six boxes' connected to Mumia Abu-Jamal in storage room
By Bobby AllynJanuary 9, 2019
A group of two dozen activists briefly block traffic during a rally outside the Philadelphia District Attorney's office on Friday. The group called on DA Larry Krasner to not challenge a Common Pleas court ruling that allows Mumia Abu-Jamal to file an appeal. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

Days after Christmas, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and some of his assistants went rummaging around an out-of-the-way storage room in the office looking for some pieces of furniture. What they stumbled upon was a surprising find: six boxes stuffed of files connected to the case of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Five of the six boxes were marked "McCann," a reference to the former head of the office's homicide unit, Ed McCann. Some of the boxes were also marked "Mumia," or the former Black Panther's full name, "Mumia Abu-Jamal."

It is unknown what exactly the files say and whether or not the box's contents will shed new light on a case that for decades has garnered worldwide attention.

But in a letter to the judge presiding over Abu-Jamal's case, Assistant District Attorney Tracey Kavanagh wrote "nothing in the Commonwealth's database showed the existence of these six boxes," she said. "We are in the process of reviewing these boxes."

The surprise discovery comes just weeks after a Philadelphia judge reinstated appeals rightsto Abu-Jamal, saying the former radio journalist and activist should get another chance to reargue his case in front of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court due to a conflict-of-interest one of the justices had at the time Abu-Jamal's petition was denied.

Abu-Jamal's supportersare seizing on the mysterious six boxes as proof that his innocence has been systematically suppressed by authorities.

"There's no question in my mind that the only reason they could've been hidden like this is that this is the evidence of the frame-up of Mumia," said Rachel Wolkenstein, who has been a legal advocate and activist for Abu-Jamal for more than 30 years.

"What these missing boxes represent is confirmation of what we've known for decades: there's hidden, exculpatory evidence in Mumia's case, and that is evidence that Mumia's guilt was intentionally manufactured by the police and prosecution and the truth of his innocence was suppressed," Wolkenstein said.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office did not say anything at all about what is in the boxes, or whether there is evidence that the files are exculpatory, or capable of demonstrating that Abu-Jamal did not commit a crime. During his original trial three separate eyewitnesses testified Mumia did commit the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

Wolkenstein's assessment is wild speculation, according to Ed McCann, the former homicide unit chief whose name was scrawled across the six boxes. McCann left the office in 2015 after 26 years there as a prosecutor. He was never directly involved in Abu-Jamal's case.

"I can't tell you 100% what is in these boxes," McCann said Wednesday night. "But I doubt there is anything in them that is not already in the public eye."

How and why did six boxes tied to one of the most legendary and racially-charged cases the office has ever handled get relegated to a dusty storage room?

McCann is not sure. But he said when the office moved locations in 2006, hundreds of boxes with his name written them were moved into the current headquarters on South Penn Square, just across the street from Philadelphia City Hall.

"I don't remember these six boxes. But nobody over there discussed this with me before filing this letter," McCann said. "I would think if they were really interested in what happened, they would have reached out to me."

In the two-page letter to the court, assistant district attorney Kavanagh wrote that if Judge Leon Tucker would like to review the boxes, prosecutors will turn them over.

Tucker, who is the same judge who ordered that Abu-Jamal should be given a new appeals argument, has not weighed in on the newly-discovered boxes.

But in his opinion last month, Tucker said former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille should have recused himself from hearing Abu-Jamal's petitions, since Castille himself was Philadelphia's District Attorney when the case was actively on appeal. "True justice must be completely just without even a hint of partiality, lack of integrity or impropriety," wrote Tucker, saying a new hearing in front of the state's high court is warranted.

Prosecutors have not taken a position yet on Tucker's opinion. The files unearthed in the six boxes could influence whether Krasner's office supports or opposes a new hearing for Abu-Jamal.

Wolkenstein said the thousands of people who have joined the "Free Mumia" movement around the globe should be able to review the documents themselves.

"These files should be released publicly," Wolkenstein said. "The remedy for this is nothing less than dismissal of Mumia's charges and his release from prison."



Statement: Academic Institutions Must Defend Free Speech

The International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity issued the following statement on 23 December, signed by 155 distinguished academics and human rights advocates.

Petition Text

Statement issued by the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity:
We, the undersigned, oppose the coordinated campaign to deny academics their free speech rights due to their defense of Palestinian rights and criticism of the policies and practices of the state of Israel. Temple University in Philadelphia, USA and the University of Sydney, Australia have been under great pressure to fire, respectively, Marc Lamont Hill and Tim Anderson, both senior academics at their institutions, for these reasons. Steven Salaita and Norman Finkelstein have already had their careers destroyed by such attacks. Hatem Bazian, Ahlam Muhtaseb, William Robinson, Rabab Abdulhadi and others have also been threatened.
The ostensible justification for such action is commonly known as the "Palestinian exception" to the principle of free speech. One may freely criticize and disrespect governments – including one's own – religions, political beliefs, personal appearance and nearly everything else except the actions and policies of the state of Israel. Those who dare to do so will become the focus of well-financed and professionally run campaigns to silence and/or destroy them and their careers.
We recognize that much of the free speech that occurs in academic and other environments will offend some individuals and groups. However, as has been said many times before, the answer to free speech that some may find objectionable is more free speech, not less. We therefore call upon all academic institutions, their faculty and students, as well as the public at large, to resist such bullying tactics and defend the free speech principles upon which they and all free societies and their institutions are founded.



Updates from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression

Justice for Rasmea Odeh! Justice for Palestine!

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression strongly supports Rasmea Odeh's right to speak in Berlin about the Palestinian liberation struggle. We stand with the many other organizations who condemn the German, Israeli, and U.S. governments' attacks on Rasmea and their attempts to silence her by revoking her visa and prohibiting her from political activity (see article about the March 15 incident).

The actions of these governments blatantly reflect their racist anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim views. But we want to draw attention to the underlying reason for their targeting of Rasmea. The attack on her right to speak is deeply tied to U.S. and German support for the Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism in Palestine. Moreover, the attack on Rasmea reflects these countries' imperialist strategies for control of the Middle East. By the same token, these governments are clearly acting out of fear - fear that when Palestinian women and activists like Rasmea speak up, it chips away at such countries' grasp on Palestine and the surrounding region.

The attacks on Rasmea and Palestine also relate to political repression taking place across the globe. Germany, the U.S. and Israel are attempting to silence Rasmea for the same fundamental reasons that the Duterte government has murdered and attacked activists and human rights defenders in the Philippines; that the U.S. government is trying to forcibly install a new government in Venezuela; and that the NYPD's Strategic Response Group is surveilling and harassing leaders and activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. The imperialists who are in power are clearly afraid that people like Rasmea might inspire others to rise up and fight back against the racist and oppressive system in place.

We want to send a message to these imperialist powers, to say that fighting back is exactly what we plan to do. It is imperative that we fight back against this unjust system that tries to silence Palestinian women like Rasmea. We demand that Rasmea Odeh be permitted to speak in Germany, and we demand an end to state repression against all Muslim women, and all Palestinians who have boldly raised their voices against the imperialist and colonialist powers that are oppressing people across the world.

Activists are not terrorists! We stand in solidarity with Rasmea and all Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation.

-- NYC Committee to Stop FBI Repression

Copyright © 2019 Committee to Stop FBI Repression, All rights reserved.
Thanks for your ongoing interest in the fight against FBI repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists!

Our mailing address is:
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
PO Box 14183
MinneapolisMN  55414

Add us to your address book























Courage to Resist
Hi Bonnie. Courage to Resist is working closely with our new fiscal sponsor, the Objector Church, on a couple projects that we're excited to share with you.
objector registry
Objector Registry launches as draft registration of women nears
The first ever Objector Registry (objector.church/register) offers a declaration of conscience for anyone to assert their moral opposition to war, regardless of age, gender, or religious affiliation. This serves to create a protective record of beliefs and actions with which to oppose a later forced draft. Given last week's release of the report by the Congressionally mandated commission on military service, this free registry is coming online just in time. Please sign up yourself and share with friends!
weekly meetup
You're invited to join us online weekly
This is a great way to find out more about the Objector Church and why we might be the religious humanist interfaith peace and justice community you have been looking for! Our live meetups are lead by Minister James Branum from Oklahoma City. This Sunday at 5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern, if your not excited by the NFL's "big game", pop online and check us out at objector.church/meetup
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







Abu-Jamal Wins New Right to Appeal

By Rachel Wolkenstein

 On December 27, Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker granted Mumia's petition for new appeal rights, over the opposition of "progressive DA" Larry Krasner. 

This is the first Pennsylvania state court decision in Mumia's favor since he was arrested on December 9, 1981.  

 In his decision Judge Tucker ruled former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille, who was the District Attorney during Mumia's first appeal of his frame-up conviction and death sentence, "created the appearance of bias and impropriety" in the appeal process when he didn't recuse himself from participating in Mumia's appeals. Judge Tucker relied heavily on Ronald Castille's public statements bragging that he would be a "law and order" judge, that he was responsible for 45 men on death row, that he had the political and financial support of the Fraternal Order of Police, and new evidence of Castille's campaign for death warrants for convicted "police killers." The appearance of bias and lack of "judicial neutrality" exhibited by Castille warranted his recusal.

Judge Tucker's order throws out the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions from 1998-2012 that rubber-stamped Mumia's racially-biased, politically-motivated murder conviction on frame-up charges of the shooting death of police officer Daniel Faulkner. 

Judge Tucker's decision means that Mumia Abu-Jamal's post-conviction appeals of his 1982 conviction, that he was framed by police and prosecution who manufactured evidence of guilt, suppressed the proof of his innocence and tried by racist, pro-prosecution trial Judge Albert Sabo who declared, "I'm gonna help them fry the nigger."   and denied him other due process trial rights must be reheard in the Pennsylvania appeals court. 

The new appeals ordered by Judge Tucker opens the door to Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom. Abu-Jamal's legal claims and supporting evidence warrant an appeal decision of a new trial or dismissal of the frame-up charges that have kept him imprisoned for 37 years. 

The international campaign for Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom has launched a new offensive. At the top of its actions is a call for letters and phone calls to DA Larry Krasner demanding he not appeal Judge Tucker's order granting new appeal rights to Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Tell DA Larry Krasner: Do NOT Appeal Judge Tucker's Decision Granting Mumia Abu-Jamal New Appeal Rights!

Email: DA_Central@phila.gov, Tweet: @philaDAO, Phone: 215-686-8000
Mail: Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner
3 S. Penn Square, Corner of Juniper and S. Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3499

Write to Mumia at:
Smart Communications/PA DOC
SCI Mahanoy
Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733

Listen to a radio report at Black Agenda Report:



To: Indiana Department of Corrections

Kevin "Rashid" Johnson Should Have Access to His Personal Property

Petition Text

1. IDOC regulation 02-01-101-VIII must be respected! Kevin Johnson (IDOC# 264847) must be allowed to select from his property the items that he most immediately needs. He has been left without any of the material he requires for contacting his loved ones, his writing (this includes books), his pending litigation, and for his artwork. 
2. Kevin Johnson (IDOC# 264847) should be released into General Population. Prolonged solitary confinement is internationally recognized as a form of torture. Moreover, he has not committed any infractions.

Why is this important?

Kevin "Rashid" Johnson (IDOC# 264847) – a Virginia prisoner – was transferred to Indiana on November 4. His transfer was authorized under the Interstate Corrections Compact, commonly used to ship prisoners out of state. Virginia is one of several states that make use of this practice as a tool to repress and isolate prisoners who speak up for their rights.
These transfers are extremely disruptive, and serve as an opportunity for prison officials to violate prisoners' rights, especially regarding their property. This is exactly what has been done to Rashid.
Rashid has 24 boxes of personal property. These are all of his possessions in the world. Much of these 24 boxes consist of legal documents and research materials, including materials directly related to pending or anticipated court cases, and his list of addresses and phone numbers of media contacts, human rights advocates, outside supporters, and friends.
At Pendleton Correctional Facility, where Rashid is now being kept prisoner and in solitary confinement, only one guard is in charge of the property room. This is very unusual, as the property room is where all of the prisoners' belongings that are not in their cells are kept. The guard in charge, Dale Davis, has a dubious reputation. Prisoners complain that property goes missing, and their requests to access their belongings – that by law are supposed to be met within 7 days, or if there are court deadlines within 24 hours – are often ignored, answered improperly, or what they receive does not correspond to what they have asked for.
Despite having a need for legal and research documents for pending and anticipated court cases, his requests to receive his property have not been properly answered. The property officer, Dale Davis, is supposed to inventory the prisoners' property with them (and a witness) present, according to IDOC regulation 02-01-101-VIII; this was never done. When Rashid did receive some property, it was a random selection of items unrelated to what he asked for, brought to the segregation unit in a box and a footlocker and left in an insecure area where things could be stolen or tampered with.
On December 19th, Rashid received notice that Davis had confiscated various documents deemed to be "security threat group" or "gang" related from his property. Rashid has no idea what these might be, as (contrary to the prison regulations) he was not present when his property was gone through. Rashid does not know how much or how little was confiscated, or what the rationale was for its being described as "gang" related. None of Rashid's property should be confiscated or thrown out under any circumstances, but it is worth noting that the way in which this has been done contravenes the prison's own regulations and policies!
Dale Davis has been an IDOC property officer for 8 years. He has boasted about how he does not need any oversight or anyone else working with him, even though it is very unusual for just one person to have this responsibility. Prisoners' property goes "missing" or is tampered with, and prisoners' rights – as laid out by the Indiana Department of Corrections – are not being respected.
Rashid is not asking to have all of his property made available to him in his cell. He is willing to accept only having access to some of it at a time, for instance as he needs it to prepare court documents or for his research and writing. 
After two months in Indiana, he has still not been supplied with his documents containing the phone numbers and addresses of his loved ones and supporters, effectively sabotaging his relationships on the outside. Rashid is not asking for any kind of special treatment, he is only asking for the prison property room to follow the prison's own rules.
We ask that you look into this, and make sure that Mr. Johnson's right to access his property is being respected, and that something be done about the irregularities in the Pendleton property room. We ask that the rules of the Indiana Department of Corrections be respected.

Sign the petition here:

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



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



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




    On Monday March 4th, 2019 Leonard Peltier was advised that his request for a transfer had been unceremoniously denied by the United States Bureau of Prisons.

    The International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee appreciates and thanks the large number of his supporters who took the time to write, call, email, or fax the BOP in support of Leonard's request for a transfer.
    Those of us who have been supporting Leonard's freedom for a number of years are disappointed but resolute to continue pushing for his freedom and until that day, to continue to push for his transfer to be closer to his relatives and the Indigenous Nations who support him.
    44 years is too damn long for an innocent man to be locked up. How can his co-defendants be innocent on the grounds of self-defense but Leonard remains in prison? The time is now for all of us to dig deep and do what we can and what we must to secure freedom for Leonard Peltier before it's too late.
    We need the support of all of you now, more than ever. The ILPDC plans to appeal this denial of his transfer to be closer to his family. We plan to demand he receive appropriate medical care, and to continue to uncover and utilize every legal mechanism to secure his release. To do these things we need money to support the legal work.
    Land of the Brave postcard-page-0

    Please call the ILPDC National office or email us for a copy of the postcard you can send to the White House. We need your help to ask President Trump for Leonard's freedom.

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    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!







    December 29, 2018

    Dear Comrades and Friends Across the Globe:

     On December 27, 2018, in a historic action, Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker granted Mumia's petition for new appeal rights, over the opposition of "progressive DA" Larry Krasner. 
    This is the first Pennsylvania state court decision in Mumia's favor since he was arrested on December 9, 1981.  The new appeals ordered by Judge Tucker open the door to Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom. The legal claims and supporting evidence, previously denied in the PA Supreme Court with Justice Ronald Castille's participation, warrant a dismissal of the frame-up charges that have kept Mumia imprisoned for 37 years, or, at the very least, a new trial. 

     It is critical that Mumia can go forward immediately with these appeals. However, DA Larry Krasner has the authority to appeal Judge Tucker's decision. Krasner's position, to the surprise of many who had described him as the "new kind" of district attorney, more bent toward justice than mere conviction, with a history of defending dissident activists, been adamant in his opposition to Mumia' petition.  His legal filings, court arguments, and his statements on public radio have all argued that there is no evidence of Justice Castille's bias or the appearance of impropriety when he refused to recuse himself in Mumia's PA Supreme Court appeals from 1998-2012 (!).

     If the prosecution appeals, there will follow years of legal proceedings on the validity of Judge Tucker's order before Mumia can begin the new appeal process challenging his conviction. .Mumia is now 64 years old. He has cirrhosis of the liver from the years of untreated hepatitis C. He still suffers from continuing itching from the skin ailment which is a secondary symptom of the hep-C. Mumia now has glaucoma and is receiving treatment. He has been imprisoned for almost four decades.  An extended appeals process coming at the age of 64 to a person whose health had already been seriously compromised is the equivalent of a death sentence by continued incarceration.    

    We are asking you to join us in demanding that Larry Krasner stop acting in league with the Fraternal Order of Police. Mumia should be freed from prison, now!  We are asking you to call, email or tweet DA Larry Krasner TODAY and tell him: DO NOT Appeal Judge Tucker's Decision Granting New Rights of Appeal to Mumia Abu-Jamal.

    In his decision, Judge Tucker ruled that former PA Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille, who was the District Attorney during Mumia's first appeal of his frame-up conviction and death sentence, had "created the appearance of bias and impropriety" in the appeal process when he didn't recuse himself from participating in Mumia's appeals. Judge Tucker relied heavily on Ronald Castille's public statements bragging that he would be a "law and order" judge, that he was responsible for putting 45 men on death row, that he had the political and financial support of the Fraternal Order of Police, and in recently discovered new evidence that Castille had particularly campaigned for immediate death warrants of convicted "police killers".  Judge Tucker states unequivocally that the appearance of bias and lack of "judicial neutrality" exhibited by Castille warranted his recusal. 

    Judge Tucker's order throws out the PA Supreme Court decisions from 1998-2012 that rubber-stamped Mumia's racially-biased, politically-motivated murder conviction on frame-up charges of the shooting death of police officer Daniel Faulkner. 

     Judge Tucker's decision means that Mumia Abu-Jamal's post-conviction appeals of his 1982 conviction must be reheard in the PA appeals court. In those appeals Mumia's lawyers proved that Mumia was framed by police and prosecution who manufactured evidence of guilt and suppressed the proof of his innocence. And, he was tried by a racist, pro-prosecution trial judge, Albert Sabo, who declared to another judge, "I'm gonna help them fry the n----r" and denied Mumia his due process trial rights.

    We can win Mumia's freedom! We have a legal opening. It is our opportunity to push forward to see Mumia walk out of prison! The international campaign for Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom has launched a new offensive. At the top of its actions is this call for letters and phone calls to DA Larry Krasner demanding he not appeal Judge Tucker's order granting new appeal rights to Mumia Abu-Jamal.  Please take this action today.  Please send us back your name so we can compile a list of international signers.  Also, no matter how many letters for Mumia you have signed in the past year or two, please sign this one as well.  The moment is different, and the demand of Krasner is different.  We want all possible supporters included.

    CONTACT:    Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. 
                            Phone: (215) 686-8000; Email: DA_Central@phila.gov; Tweet: @philaDAO
                            Mail: Phila. DA Larry Krasner, Three South Penn Square, Phila, PA 19107

    Tell DA Krasner:     Do Not Appeal Judge Tucker's Decision Reinstating Appeal Rights 
                                     for Mumia Abu-Jamal!

    In solidarity and toward Mumia's freedom,

    (Initiated by all the US based Mumia support organizations)
    International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; The MOVE Organization; Educators for Mumia; International Action Center; Mobilization for Mumia; Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC); Campaign to Bring Mumia Home; Committee to Save Mumia; Prison Radio, Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Oakland; Oakland Teachers for Mumia; Workers World/Mundo Obrero



    1) Mammy Jars Mock Black People. Why Are They Still Collected?
    Racist objects, created as propaganda tools during the Jim Crow era, reflect ugly stereotypes about black people. Yet some people see nostalgia, not dehumanization, in the memorabilia.
    By Elisha Brown, March 27, 2019

    The deadly 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. The documentary "Black Memorabilia" includes footage from the demonstration.CreditEdu Bayer for The New York Times

    n a Black History Month roiled by tone-deaf scandals in politics and fashion involving blackfaceshoes and balaclavas, you may have missed the one about mammy jars.
    Grace Coddington, a former creative director of American Vogue, was photographed with a collection of so-called mammy ceramics in her kitchen for a French lifestyle magazine. The images surfaced in early February and were condemned.
    "I am ashamed and embarrassed that I didn't see the mammy jars in the photo until an Instagram commenter pointed them out to me," the photographer, Brian Ferry, said in a statement. "I'm sorry for my mistake and the hurt it caused," he added. "I am committed to doing better in the future." Representatives for Ms. Coddington did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

    The mammy stereotype portrays black women as obedient maids to white families. Like blackface, racist objects such as mammy jarsperpetuate deep-rooted stereotypes about African-Americans by portraying them as docile, dumb and animated. But some white families view these objects as keepsakes, passed down through generations as relics of the past.

    More than a century after the heyday of minstrel shows and the peak production of racist objects, some Americans are still learning about the how these cultural products — viewed as forms of entertainment and decorations during the Jim Crow era — dehumanize black people.
    This year, February — a month usually set aside for celebrating the achievements of African-Americans — was dominated by a national reckoning with blackface and a series of apologies for racist behavior.

    Ralph S. Northam, the governor of Virginia, first apologized for appearing in a photo on his yearbook page that shows a man in blackface standing next to a man in a Ku Klux Klan robe, and then he denied appearing in the photo at all. The governor later admitted to putting shoe polish on his face to dress up as Michael Jackson. Days later, Virginia's attorney general apologized for wearing blackface at a college party. (Both men are still in office.)
    Conversations about racist controversies, in politics or fashion, are often framed in terms of how they are offensive to black people, but that leaves out a crucial issue, according to Chico Colvard, the director of a new documentary about the history of racist objects.

    "The other part of the equation is that these are persistent markers of white supremacy," Mr. Colvard said.
    Racist objects were originally used as propaganda tools to spread falsehoods about the Civil War.
    Their production spiked in the 1890s, said Rhae Lynn Barnes, an assistant professor of American cultural history at Princeton University.
    "A lot of this iconography is specifically around the kitchen and making jokes about cooking and cleaning," Dr. Barnes said. While blackface, a signature of minstrel shows, was often performed in public by white men to mock African-Americans, black figurines were found in homes, according to Dr. Barnes. 
    Mammy miniatures — jars, salt and pepper shakers, kitchen bells — show a black woman with exaggerated lips in a red-and-white gown and a matching head scarf. Lawn jockeys depict hunched-over black men holding lanterns. Mechanical banks feature bugged-out eyes that roll back into a man's head when coins are inserted into his smiling mouth.

    "They were everyday objects which portrayed black people as ugly, different and fun to laugh at," said David Pilgrim, the founder of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Michigan. "They were, in a word, propaganda."

    The objects still show up in our society today.
    When Barack Obama first ran for president, "jolly Obama banks" appeared online as gag gifts.
    And in an episode of the Netflix comedy "Master of None," the main character, Dev Shah, played by Aziz Ansari, ends a series of bad Tinder dates with a promising hookup. His partner asks him to grab a condom from her bedside table, and he finds one stashed in a mammy cookie jar.
    "Isn't it a little racist?" Dev asks the woman, who is white.
    She gets defensive and asks Dev why he waited until after having sex with her to comment on the object. "Just show it to a black person sometime," he replies.
    Some people collect the objects as investment pieces: At antique shows a few decades ago, the banks were priced from $400 to $600, and mammy jars were sold for $200 to $400, according to Dr. Pilgrim. But sites like eBay led to lower price points.
    "What an interesting culture we have, where you have price guides not just for mammy ceramics and salt and pepper shakers, but also for lynching postcards," Dr. Pilgrim said.
    "Black Memorabilia," Mr. Colvard's documentary, which aired on PBS in February, follows a worker who makes mechanical banks at a small factory in China, a woman who sells antiques at a flea market in North Carolina and an artist who grapples with racism through performance art.

    Mr. Colvard, who is black, was born in Germany and raised in the United States. He grew up "unconsciously consuming a steady diet" of racist images, he said, from Aunt Jemima on boxes of pancake mix to Saturday morning specials with Shirley Temple in blackface.
    "A child is not going to gravitate toward a toy that's hideous or not well designed," Mr. Colvard said. "Of course it's appealing — the colors are bright, welcoming and animated."

    His documentary often weaves in clips from Black Lives Matter protests and the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., to draw connections between the pain African-Americans feel when seeing household caricatures of themselves and the political trauma they experience today.
    One scene from the documentary shows Joy, the antiques dealer, at a market outpost in Massachusetts. The camera cuts to a black boy drinking water out of a spigot. "I want the little one, you're too cute," says Joy, who is white.
    An innocuous comment on its own, her words take on a darker tone in view of the types of items she sells and collects: mechanical banks, minstrel postcards, slave documents, K.K.K. pamphlets. "She sees herself as a preserver of history, of real black history," Mr. Colvard saidin an interview. "She sees this as a history of travail."

    The antiques dealer says she collects the artifacts to "take the wall down between the races." But profiting from objects that exploit black suffering may suggest a skewed understanding of African-American history and identity. "These are objects used to dehumanize us," Mr. Colvard said.
    Dr. Pilgrim, who is black and has been a collector since he was a child, said some people collect the figurines to keep them off the market. 
    "I knew people who bought them because they wanted to remind themselves of how far black people had come and how resilient black people had been," he said.
    But others collect them as investment pieces and as a form of nostalgia.
    "Where a person like myself is likely to see the vestiges of slavery and segregation," he said, "someone else might be reminded of good times spent with their parents or grandparents and not see the connection at all."
    Nostalgia for these objects nods to the post-Reconstruction era, a time when the United Daughters of the Confederacy mapped out the blueprint for the Lost Cause, a cultural campaign that denied slavery was the reason for the Civil War.
    "These figurines laud that time and present a 'moonlight and magnolias' view of slavery," said Keri Leigh Merritt, an Atlanta-based historian and the author of "Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South." "They show happy slaves and try to minimize the brutality and the violence and the horror that we know actually happened."

    Dr. Pilgrim, whose museum houses over 5,000 collectibles, hopes the mass presentation of the memorabilia encourages people from various groups to interrogate the messages behind the figurines.
    "There's a reason we need to have these things: To serve as reminders so we'll never forget," Mr. Colvard said.
    "They shouldn't be erased from history," he added, "but I'm not sure they should be casually bought and sold in a regular stream of commerce either."


    2) Cholera, Lurking Symptom of Yemen's War, Appears to Make Roaring Comeback
    By Rick Gladstone, March 27, 2019

    Yemeni health workers sprayed disinfectant in a neighborhood of Sana earlier this month amid a cholera outbreak.

    Cholera, a potentially fatal disease that has come to symbolize the humanitarian crisis of the war in Yemen, has surged again in the country, health workers reported Wednesday, with some areas hit by as many as 2,000 suspected or confirmed cases per week.
    Doctors without Borders, the medical charity, said in a statement that its teams had recently seen a "dramatic increase in cholera cases, demonstrating the urgent need for humanitarian assistance to improve water and sanitation in the war-torn country."
    The World Health Organization said that from the beginning of 2019 through March 17, nearly 109,000 cases of severe acute watery diarrhea and suspected cholera had been reported, with nearly 200 deaths. About one-third of the reported cases afflicted children underage 5, the organization said.
    Spread by poor hygiene and contaminated drinking water, cholera can cause fatal dehydration without treatment. It has long been considered endemic to Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country.

    But cholera cases exploded after the war began in March 2015 between Yemen's Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition, which led to a basic collapse in public health and sanitation systems.
    Two years ago Yemen suffered the world's largest cholera outbreak, with more than 1 million cases. Although the disease was brought under control, medical organizations operating in the country have continued to see cases in almost every region.
    Doctors without Borders said that its facilities had admitted more than 7,900 patients with suspected cholera in Amran, Hajjah, Ibb and Taiz governorates in western Yemen since Jan. 1.
    Over the past three months, the charity said, "the number of suspected or confirmed cholera patients increased from 140 to 2,000 per week."
    Hassan Boucenine, the head of the charity's Yemen mission, said the increase was particularly concerning because the rainy season, which could aggravate the problem, had not even started yet.

    Dr. Ahmed Al Mandhari, the regional director of the World Health Organization, and Geert Cappelaere, the regional director for Unicef, said in a joint statement that they had begun scaling up the response "to assist immediately the people affected and to prevent the disease from spreading further."
    But they also acknowledged that "we face several challenges, including the intensification of fighting, access restrictions and bureaucratic hurdles to bring lifesaving supplies and personnel to Yemen."
    The United Nations considers Yemen, where the war has just entered its fifth year, to be the world's worst man-made humanitarian crisis. Relief officials have said 24 million people, close to 80 percent of Yemen's population, need protection and assistance, hunger is rampant, and famine threatens hundreds of thousands.


    3) Monsanto Ordered to Pay $80 Million in Roundup Cancer Case
    By Julia Jacobs, March 27, 2019

    Edwin Hardeman leaving a federal courthouse with his wife in San Francisco last month. A jury ordered that Monsanto be held liable for the role its weedkiller played in Mr. Hardeman's cancer.CreditCreditJeff Chiu/Associated Press

    A federal jury on Wednesday ordered Monsanto to pay more than $80 million in damages to a California man whose cancer it determined was partly caused by his use of the popular weedkiller Roundup.
    The six-member jury found that Monsanto should be held liable for the man's illness because it failed to include a label on its product warning of the weedkiller's risk of causing cancer.
    The verdict, delivered in United States District Court in San Francisco, is a milestone in the continuing public debate over the health effects of Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate, the world's most widely used weedkiller. Monsanto is currently defending itself against thousands of similar claims.

    The plaintiff, Edwin Hardeman, 70, used Roundup to control weeds and poison oak on his property for 26 years. In 2015, he learned that he had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The next year, after the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer declared glyphosate a probable carcinogen, Mr. Hardeman sued Monsanto.

    Wednesday's verdict ended the second of two phases in the trial. Last week, the jury issued an initial verdict saying that the weedkiller was a "substantial factor" in causing Mr. Hardeman's cancer. The jury then started deliberating on Tuesday afternoon about whether Monsanto demonstrated negligence and should be held liable.
    In determining that Monsanto was responsible, the jury awarded Mr. Hardeman $75 million in punitive damages, Jennifer Moore, one of his lawyers, said in a phone interview. About $5 million was also awarded for Mr. Hardeman's past and future suffering, as well as more than $200,000 for medical bills, Ms. Moore said.
    Ms. Moore said that Monsanto had continually ignored scientific studies showing the harmful health effects of Roundup.

    "The evidence is overwhelming that Roundup can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma," she said. "And despite that, Monsanto continues to deny that." She said that Mr. Hardeman's cancer was in remission.

    A statement from Bayer, which acquired Monsanto last year, said that the company would appeal the jury's verdict.
    "We are disappointed with the jury's decision, but this verdict does not change the weight of over four decades of extensive science and the conclusions of regulators worldwide that support the safety of our glyphosate-based herbicides and that they are not carcinogenic," the statement said.
    In December 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft human health risk assessment that said glyphosate was most likely not carcinogenic to humans.
    During the court proceedings, Mr. Hardeman's legal team presented expert testimony and research that Roundup causes mutations in human cells and that human populations that are exposed to Roundup are more likely to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
    Bayer's statement said that it believed the jury was most likely divided over the scientific evidence presented in the case, which it said was indicated by the fact that the jurors took more than four days to decide last week's verdict.
    In a similar case decided last year, a California jury found that Monsanto had failed to warn a school groundskeeper of the cancer risks posed by Roundup. The jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages, but a judge later reduced that payment to about $80 million. Monsanto is also appealing that verdict.
    "Now two different juries have held that Roundup causes an individual's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma," Ms. Moore said, "and that Monsanto should be punished for its conduct."

    Mihir Zaveri contributed reporting.


    4) Pennsylvania Police Chief Charged in Child Rape Case
    By Jacey Fortin, March 28, 2019
    Brent Getz, left, and Gregory Wagner. The authorities accused the men of sexually assaulting a child over a seven-year period.CreditCreditPennsylvania Attorney General's Office, via Associated Press

    A case was opened in 2012, when a 12-year-old girl in Pennsylvania told her substitute teacher that a man had sexually assaulted her for years, and the teacher then told the police, according to a statement from the state attorney general's office.
    But seven more years passed before anyone was criminally charged — and one of the men who the girl said had abused her became a police chief.
    On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania attorney general, Josh Shapiro, announced that Gregory Wagner, 28, and Brent Getz, 27, had been arrested on several charges, including child rape and aggravated indecent assault.

    Both men are of Lehighton, Pa., and Mr. Getz was the chief of police in the neighboring borough of Weissport.

    "This young girl was forced to face not one abuser, but two, who were working together, for seven years," Mr. Shapiro said in a recorded statement. "Thank you to this survivor in this case, who bravely shared her truth and will bring her abusers to justice."
    Weissport is a small borough in Carbon County on the eastern side of the state, nestled between the Lehigh Canal and the Lehigh River. It is home to about 400 people. Mr. Getz was hired as a part-time officer for Weissport in 2017 and promoted to the chief of police in February, according to local news reports. The department is tiny, consisting of just one officer as recently as 2016.
    It is unclear how many are on the force now. Neither the mayor nor the police department immediately responded to requests for comment on Wednesday evening, and borough council members could not be reached.
    When the girl first reported the abuse to her teacher in 2012, she said she had been abused by Mr. Wagner, who was then 22, multiple times, according to the attorney general's statement. The teacher went to the Franklin Township Police Department, which opened an investigation.
    But for reasons that remain unclear, no charges were filed at the time. The Franklin Township police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday evening.

    About three years later, the case was reassigned, and the police prepared a criminal complaint against Mr. Wagner. But a magisterial district judge dismissed the complaint because of a paperwork error, the attorney general's statement said.
    The charges were not refiled. Three more years passed.
    In August 2018, another Franklin Township officer looked at the case and interviewed the victim again. She then said that Mr. Getz, too, had sexually assaulted her.
    "The victim revealed that, consistent with her prior disclosures and examinations, from age 4 to 11 she was orally, vaginally and anally raped by Wagner," the statement from the attorney general said. "She reported that Getz would also join in these assaults. Additionally, she said that Wagner often made her watch pornography with him, which she recalled depicted teenagers."
    On Monday, Mr. Wagner's residence was searched by the authorities, who found electronic devices with search histories indicative of child pornography, the attorney general's office said. Mr. Wagner then admitted to sexually abusing the victim for years and said that Mr. Getz had abused her, too, the office said.
    It was unclear whether the men had been appointed lawyers on Wednesday.


    5) The Abortion Divide Gets Deeper
    With Roe threatened, red and blue states are pulling even further apart.
    By Michelle Goldberg, March 29, 2019

    Members of the Handmaid Coalition of Georgia protesting legislation that would ban most abortions after six weeks.CreditCreditBob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated Press

    This week, a Georgia state representative, Ed Setzler, the sponsor of a bill that would ban most abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat could be detected, spoke to a conservative group in the Atlanta suburbs about the legal fight he'd embarked on. "We need to maximize our influence over the next couple of weeks and then close this deal," he said. Then, he continued, conservatives must mobilize behind Georgia's Republican governor, Brian Kemp, as "he recruits the best legal team in the nation to take this to the highest court in the land."
    With the ascension of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, as well as a host of other judges appointed by Donald Trump to lower courts, anti-abortion forces are engaged in a game of legislative whack-a-mole. Sensing their chance to either eviscerate or overturn Roe v. Wade, Republicans are pushing a barrage of anti-abortion measures at the state level, seeing which one goes all the way to the top.

    Access to abortion is already as polarized as anything else in this fracturing country, and it could become dramatically more so. Conservatives, as well as some moderates, have argued that ending Roe would ease culture-war hostilities. "Returning the matter to the states would give most people a law they can live with, defusing the rage that permeates politics and has more than once culminated in acts of terrorism against doctors who perform abortions," wrote The Washington Post's Megan McArdle last year. The early signs, however, suggest that radically different abortion regimes can't comfortably exist side by side.
    As Roe is weakened, conservative states are becoming more conservative, liberal states more liberal. Mutual antagonism is increasing around abortion, as it is around nearly everything else. If Roe is overturned altogether, it won't just be a disaster for women's health care and autonomy. It will further rip America apart.
    Seeing Roe endangered, the anti-abortion movement has become more legislatively audacious. So-called heartbeat bills, which ban abortion at around six weeks' gestation, before some women know they're pregnant, used to be a rarity. Before this year, only two states had tried to enact six-week abortion bans, North Dakota in 2013 and Iowa in 2018. (Courts struck both laws down.) But in the first weeks of 2019, Mississippi and Kentucky passed such laws, and in addition to Georgia, six-week bans are moving forward in Missouri, Tennessee and Ohio.
    Any of these laws could give the Supreme Court a chance to overturn Roe. As that possibility comes into view, anti-abortion lawmakers are showing us what a post-Roe world might look like. Another bill introduced in Georgia, also supported by Governor Kemp, would ban abortion if Roe were overturned, and make "the offense of criminal abortion" punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The bill's language appears to apply to pregnant women as well as doctors. 
    So-called trigger laws, abortion bans that would go into effect if Roe is struck down, aren't new. But according to Ilyse Hogue, president of the abortion-rights group Naral, proposals laying out prison terms for women who terminate their pregnancies are unusual.
    "This is not your grandmother's anti-choice movement, which was bad enough," Hogue said. "This is Trump's anti-choice movement. The bills have a sort of Trumpy cruelty to them that is relatively new."
    Responding to the growing threat to Roe, many blue states are taking steps to codify abortion rights. New York recently expanded access to third-trimester abortion in cases where a woman's health is in danger or where a fetus isn't viable. Lawmakers in Vermont are attempting to enshrine abortion rights in the state Constitution. In Illinois, where the new Democratic governor has pledged to make the state "the most progressive state in the nation for access to reproductive health care," a new bill would repeal existing anti-abortion legislation and require abortion coverage by private health insurance.
    As red and blue states pull further apart, the result is not a lessening of tensions. Republicans, led by Trump, now regularly accuse Democratsof supporting infanticide. Senate Republicans recently attempted to turn anti-abortion propaganda into law with the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which mandated medical care for infants born after a botched abortion, an extraordinarily rare occurrence. The point of the bill seemed to be to pretend that infanticide, which is already illegal, is a consequence of liberalized abortion laws. "The mostly Republican supporters of the bill say that new state-level legislation that has sought to remove barriers to late-term abortions necessitate federal action," reported The Washington Post.
    Even as Republicans seek to harass blue states, Georgia is likely to face a liberal backlash should the six-week ban go into effect. (Legislators are expected to vote on a final version at any moment.) In the past, progressives have boycotted states like Indiana and North Carolina in response to anti-gay and anti-trans legislation. Now, for the first time, there's a prospect of real economic consequences for an anti-abortion measure.

    Georgia is a major center for film and TV production, behind only New York and California. This week, the Writers Guild of America, the union for screenwriters, issued a statement saying that if Georgia passes the anti-abortion law, it would become "an inhospitable place for those in the film and television industry to work." Fifty actors, including Alyssa Milano, Don Cheadle, Ben Stiller and Sarah Silverman, signed a letter saying that if the bill passes, they will try to "move our industry to a safer state for women." Business executives, including some from Amazon and Coca-Cola, have come out against the bill as well.
    This sort of woke capitalism sends conservatives into paroxysms of resentment; the threatened Hollywood boycott has been extensively covered in right-wing media. It's the result of asymmetries that, at the moment, seem baked into American life. Our electoral system gives rural conservatives disproportionate political power; that's why a minority president, backed by senators elected by a fraction of the country, can remake the courts. But the entertainment industry, and corporate America generally, is naturally attuned to affluent urbanites, who tend to be younger and more progressive. 
    Fighting over the most fundamental questions of human autonomy, each side in the divide is going to use whatever influence it can muster against the other. If Roe falls, liberals won't like what follows, but conservatives might not either.
    Michelle Goldberg has been an Opinion columnist since 2017. She is the author of several books about politics, religion and women's rights, and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2018 for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues. @michelleinbklyn


    6) Supreme Court Refuses to Block Ban on Bump Stocks
    By Adam Liptak, March 28, 2019

    A bump stock installed on an AK-47. The devices were used by a gunman to massacre 58 people at a Las Vegas concert in 2017.CreditCreditGeorge Frey/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to block a Trump administration initiative banning bump stocks, the attachments that enable semiautomatic rifles to fire in sustained, rapid bursts.
    The court's action, in a one-sentence order, means that the regulation will remain in force while challenges to it move forward in the courts. There were no noted dissents.
    The case concerns executive power, not the Second Amendment. The lead plaintiff, Gun Owners of America, which describes itself as "the 'no compromise' gun lobby," argued that the administration had exceeded its authority by banning bump stocks under federal laws that largely ban machine guns. (The National Rifle Association was not a party to the suit.)

    Bump stocks work by harnessing a firearm's recoil energy to allow it to keep firing after a single pull of the trigger. The Justice Department has said this transforms semiautomatic weapons into fully automatic machine guns.

    The regulation, which went into effect on Tuesday, bans the sale or possession of bump stocks, which were used by a gunman to massacre 58 people and wound hundreds of others at a Las Vegas concert in October 2017.
    Under the regulation, Americans who own bump stocks have 90 days to destroy their devices or to turn them in to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
    In instructions posted on its website, the bureau suggested "crushing, melting or shredding" as acceptable methods of destruction.
    Michael E. Hammond, a lawyer with Gun Owners of America, said the group "wouldn't advocate that anyone violate the law." But he added that the regulation may be hard to enforce.
    "My guess, from the states that have enacted bump stock bans, is that most of the 500,000 people that have bump stocks are not going to turn them in, if history is any indication," Mr. Hammond said.

    The Justice Department initially decided that the executive branch did not have the authority to ban bump stocks without congressional action. It later changed course, determining it could ban the devices on its own.

    Gun owners challenged the regulation in a federal trial court in Michigan, saying that federal law did not allow the executive branch's action. They added that the regulation would require the destruction of devices worth more than $100 million.
    Judge Paul L. Maloney, of the Federal District Court in Kalamazoo, Mich., last week refused to block the regulation. "Congress restricts access to machine guns because of the threat the weapons pose to public safety," he wrote. "Restrictions on bump stocks advance the same interest. All of the public is at risk, including the smaller number of bump stock owners."
    On Monday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, rejected a request from the challengers for a stay of the regulation while an appeal from Judge Maloney's decision moved forward.
    The panel acknowledged that the plaintiffs "will suffer irreparable harm." But it said that "the public interest in safety supports denial of a stay pending appeal."
    The plaintiffs then turned to the Supreme Court. "This case represents the single biggest A.T.F. seizure of private property in history," their lawyers wrote, "made even more noxious because all existing bump stocks were manufactured and purchased in accordance with A.T.F. rulings approving their sale."

    Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco, representing the administration, urged the justices to deny the stay in the case, Gun Owners of America v. Barr, No. 18A963.
    "The protection of the public and law enforcement officers from the proliferation of prohibited firearms is a bedrock foundation of federal firearms legislation," he wrote, adding that the regulation "promotes that public interest by protecting the public from the dangers posed by machine guns prohibited by federal law."
    The regulation has been challenged in other courts, too, but so far none of them have ruled for the plaintiffs. After a federal trial judge in Washington refused to enter a preliminary injunction, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit did issue a temporary stay of the regulation, but it applied only to the plaintiffs in the case before it.
    The challengers in that case, Guedes v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, No. 18A964, asked the Supreme Court to intervene. "Hundreds of thousands of citizens," they wrote, "will be required to surrender or destroy their property or face felony charges for possession of devices that were unquestionably legal under A.T.F.'s construction of the statute for the past 85 years and A.T.F.'s prior written rulings stating as much."
    "No person," their brief said, "should have to face the threat of felony prosecution and deprivation of their property due to the rushed and arbitrary time frame A.T.F. placed on these proceedings."
    Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., noting that the appeals court had already imposed a partial stay, denied the application on Tuesday.


    7) New York Sues Sackler Family Members and Drug Distributors
    By Ron Caryn Rabin, March 28, 2019
    A protest against Richard Sackler, the head of Purdue Pharma, at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan last month.CreditThe New York Times

    As investigators closed in on Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid painkiller OxyContin, more than a decade ago, members of the family that owns the company began shifting hundreds of millions of dollars from the business to themselves through offshore entities, the state of New York alleged in a lawsuit on Thursday.
    The legal complaint, released at a news conference by the state attorney general Letitia James, was heavily redacted. Even so, it contains striking details alleging systematic fraud not only by the Sacklers but by a group of large but lesser-known companies that distributed alarming amounts of prescription painkillers amid a rising epidemic of abuse that has killed hundreds of thousands of people nationwide.
    The major pharmaceutical distributors — Cardinal Health, McKesson and Amerisource Bergen — warned pharmacies when their monthly opioid limits were approaching, then helped them manipulate the timing and volume of orders to circumvent the limits, the complaint charged. On the rare occasion when a distributor would conduct "surprise" audits of its customers, it would often alert them in advance, the complaint says.

    Over the past two decades, more than 200,000 people have died in the United States from overdoses involving prescription opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 200,000 more have died from overdoses involving illegal opioids, like heroin.

    In New York State, where prescriptions for opioids increased ninefold between 2000 and 2011, opioid-related deaths have more than doubled since 2013, the lawsuit said. Nine New Yorkers die each day.

    The suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court in Suffolk County, names eight Sacklers: Richard, Jonathan, Mortimer, Kathe, David, Beverly and Theresa Sackler, as well as Ilene Sackler Lefcourt. It seeks to claw back funds that it alleges were transferred from Purdue Pharma to private or offshore accounts held by family members in an effort to shield the assets from litigation; to order the Sacklers to return any transferred assets; and to restrain them from disposing of any property.
    A spokesman for the Sackler family called the allegations "a misguided attempt to place blame where it does not belong for a complex public health crisis. We strongly deny these allegations, which are inconsistent with the factual record, and will vigorously defend against them."
    A spokesman for Purdue Pharma said the company and its former directors "vigorously deny" the charges set forth in the complaint, and will defend themselves against the "misleading allegations."

    The Sacklers are one of the richest families in the United States, known for their generous philanthropy in the arts. But they have come under increasing scrutiny after new documents came to light in a Massachusetts case suggesting that some family members helped direct misleading marketing efforts for OxyContin and ignored evidence that the drug was being abused. Over the past several weeks, a number of cultural institutions in the United States and abroad have said they will no longer accept the family's money.
    The New York lawsuit alleges that Sackler family members abolished quarterly reports, insisted that numbers be recounted only orally to board members, and voted to pay themselves millions of dollars, often through offshore companies.
    It further charges that in 2007, while Purdue was being investigated by federal prosecutors, the family created a new company to sell opioids, called Rhodes, which a former Purdue official said was specifically set up as a "landing pad" for the Sacklers because of the crisis surrounding OxyContin, according to the lawsuit.

    Rhodes, which is owned by trusts benefiting the Sacklers and is overseen by members of the family, started selling generic opioids in 2009, the lawsuit says. By 2016, Rhodes had a far greater share of the opioid market than did Purdue, according to a Financial Times article quoted by the lawsuit.
    "Whereas the Sacklers have reduced Purdue's operations and size, Rhodes continues to grow and sell opioids for the benefit of the Sackler families," the legal complaint said.
    By 2014, fearing that Purdue could face catastrophic financial judgments, the Sacklers directed Purdue to pay family members hundreds of millions of dollars a year in distributions, sending money to offshore companies, the lawsuit claims, an act of clear "bad faith."

    As a result of these distributions, the lawsuit says, "assets are no longer available to satisfy Purdue's future creditor, the state of New York."
    The complaint takes a skeptical view of recent reports that the company is considering filing for bankruptcy. It charges that the company is actually conducting "a well-thought out and deliberate media campaign to intimidate the litigating states, including New York, by threatening to commence bankruptcy proceedings."
    The lawsuit also goes well beyond other cases in spelling out in granular detail how pharmaceutical distributors played a role in the opioid epidemic by ignoring blatant "red flags" that indicated mountains of opioids were being diverted for illegal use.

    The distributors are far less known than opioid makers and retailers, but they are among the wealthiest companies in the United States. (The lawsuit says all three are in the top 20 in terms of revenue.) Distributors buy drugs in bulk from manufacturers and then sell them to pharmacies and other distributors, such as clinics. They are legally bound to monitor the quantities sold to each vendor and alert regulators if the amounts seem excessive.
    The suit (which also names a regional distributor, Rochester Drug) alleges that the distributors turned "a collective blind eye as orders for opioids in New York skyrocketed" and drugs known to be dangerous "came to be dispensed like candy."
    A spokeswoman for Cardinal Health said the company has a rigorous system in place to flag and report suspicious orders and has enhanced the program over time.

    "We report suspicious orders to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and state regulators but we do not know what they do with those reports, if anything," the spokesman said, adding, "Our people operate in good faith and our goal is to get it right."
    A spokeswoman for McKesson said the company would not issue a statement in response to the lawsuit, but has stated in the past that it is deeply concerned about the opioid epidemic and is continuously enhancing programs to detect and prevent illicit diversion and sales of controlled substances.
    The lawsuit alleges that Cardinal Health — which distributed 780 million oxycodone pills to its New York State customers between 2010 and 2018 — appointed people with no experience to key compliance positions and gave them no training.

    The company fired employees who alerted executives to pharmacies who repeatedly requested excessive orders, and even, for a time, did away with written site visit reports, according to the suit.
    One drugstore in Suffolk County was in the 99th percentile of opioid sales in the state from 2011 through the first quarter of 2018, the complaint said; Cardinal reported an average of 85 suspicious orders a year from the pharmacy yet continued to deliver opioids to the drugstore.
    The lawsuit amends an earlier suit New York State filed against Purdue Pharma, the company considered primarily responsible for unleashing the current opioid epidemic by misleading doctors about the OxyContin's dangers and ignoring evidence that the drug was being abused.

    The lawsuit adds other opioid manufacturers, including Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson; Mallinckrodt; Endo Pharmaceuticals; Teva Pharmaceuticals; Allergan; and many of their affiliated companies.
    New York is one of three dozen states to sue opioid manufacturers, litigation that is separate from the bundle of 1,600 opioid-related federal cases being overseen by a United States District Court judge in Ohio, who hopes to help craft a single comprehensive settlement — an objective that may be out of reach.
    With the exception of Alabama, which joined the federal consolidation, these states potentially stand to wrest swifter, bigger paydays for their constituents, as long as the states can prove their cases. This week Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers agreed to pay $270 million to settle a case in Oklahoma that was to go to trial in May.


    8) They Let a Sick Inmate Die in a Van. Now They Won't Pay His Family $650,000.
    By Alysia Santo and Eli Hager, March 29, 2019

    Photographs of a U.S. Corrections van, submitted as part of the company's application for approval to merge with the nation's largest prisoner transport firm, P.T.S.

    Johnny Smith spent almost 24 hours shackled in the back of a prison van — barely conscious and muttering incoherently — before he died there in 2011. A private company was hauling Mr. Smith, 48, to Florida from Kentucky to face a drug charge: possession of a single oxycodone pill.
    A judge ruled that the company's "carelessness and gross negligence" had caused the death of Mr. Smith, a disabled construction worker, and awarded his children nearly $650,000 in damages.
    Such lawsuits are the only recourse that families like the Smiths have against private prisoner transport companies, which remain almost entirely unregulated despite the industry's extensive history of passenger deaths and injuries. Federal agencies that are supposed to oversee the industry almost never act, and because the vans cross state and county lines, local officials can say they don't have jurisdiction.
    To this day, the Smiths have not gotten a dollar of what they are owed by USG7, the company that transported their father. As they and others have tried to hold the company to account for mistreating prisoners, an investigation by The Marshall Project and The New York Times found, the brothers behind USG7 have failed to appear in court, started a new company under a different name and claimed that its documents had gone missing in a U-Haul truck.
    Yet the brothers, who operated out of Florida, have held on to lucrative contracts with jails and sheriffs. And they have acquired a major stake in the largest prisoner transport company in the nation.
    USG7's history exemplifies the lack of accountability in the prisoner transport business — even when people die. Every year, tens of thousands of Americans are arrested and extradited, or transferred, to another state where they face criminal charges. While some law-enforcement agencies move their own prisoners, those in cities like Chicago, Atlanta, and Las Vegas hire for-profit extradition companies to do this job for them, on the cheap.
    These businesses pack their vans with as many inmates as possible and spend weeks on the road making pickups and drop-offs on routes that zigzag across the country. They seat violent fugitives next to first-timers facing minor charges. The vehicles seldom stop, and typically don't have working seatbelts, air-conditioning, medical supplies or toilets, according to dozens of guards and inmates.
    The handful of companies that make up this industry have been involved in more than 50 crashes, 60 escapes and 19 deaths since 2000, according to a review of lawsuits and local news articles.
    After previous reports about fatalities and abuses in the prisoner transport industry, the Justice Department promised in 2016 to investigate. The status of the inquiry remains unclear. The agency declined to comment.

    Last month, three members of Congress demanded information from the largest prison transport company about abuse and deaths aboard its vehicles, citing allegations of "inhumane and unsafe" conditions. Five of its passengers have died since 2012.
    USG7, the company that was taking Mr. Smith to Florida, was relatively small, but it contributed significantly to the toll of accidents and escapes. In at least five cases, prisoners suffered severe injuries, including a broken neck, in crashes of the company's vans, which often traveled at dangerously high speeds and late into the night, according to accident reports and interviews with employees.
    Ashley Jacques, one of the two brothers who ran USG7, declined to comment when reached by phone. His brother Steven could not be reached. The family did not respond to certified letters sent to seven addresses associated with them or their companies.
    Two lawyers who have represented Jacques companies declined to comment.
    In depositions, the Jacqueses have said they worked at USG7 but insisted they were not its owners. But according to recently obtained emails between law enforcement officials in Florida, as well as phone interviews with 10 of the brothers' past employees and associates, the Jacques family operated the business.

    The Smiths' lawyers spent several years trying to collect the $650,000 judgment, but USG7 had apparently disappeared. They decided it would be too difficult to go after the owners and closed the case.
    Ashley Jacques was born in South Yorkshire, England, according to a copy of his birth certificate. By 2007, he had joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve.

    His family appears to have gotten its start in the prisoner transport industry at a company called Statewide Prisoner Extraditions. That firm's former manager, Michael Harte, said Ashley Jacques did not follow instructions and was lax about security, and that jail employees would call in with complaints. Mr. Harte says he fired Mr. Jacques and his father, Leslie.
    By 2010, the Jacques brothers and their parents had begun operating USG7. More than a dozen guards and executives said in interviews the company provided low-cost service, training its drivers only briefly before sending them out in poorly maintained vehicles.
    Three former USG7 drivers said that in 2013 and 2014, they went to addresses listed for the company to try to collect back pay, but found empty offices. (In previous interactions with the Jacques brothers, guards said, they had met in parking lots, fast-food restaurants or hotels.)
    At 5:30 a.m. on Aug. 24, 2010, Leslie Jacques was driving prisoners across Florida when his van slammed into a pickup truck, flinging him from the vehicle and into a river. He died. His wife, Pauline Jacques, who was in the passenger seat, survived.
    The following year, a USG7 van crashed into a tree in Florida. A prisoner named Fred Ellis said that he suffered multiple broken bones in the crash, and that he still has chronic back and hip pain. The company never responded to a lawsuit filed in Florida and did not pay the $400,000 that a judge awarded to Mr. Ellis.
    "They were not driving like they had human beings on board," Mr. Ellis told The Marshall Project in 2016. Last December he reached a confidential settlement with USG7's former insurance company, his lawyer said.
    The Department of Transportation found that the company was missing paperwork, including an insurance document, when the agency initially audited USG7 in 2010, according to filings obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. But the agency says that first-time audits focus on education, not enforcement. The agency rarely imposes significant financial penalties against prisoner transport businesses when they fail audits, often giving them repeated chances to improve, according to a review of hundreds of the department's records.

    The Justice Department is also supposed to regulate the prisoner extradition industry under a 2000 federal law known as Jeanna's Act, which is aimed mainly at preventing prisoner escapes but also sets basic safety standards for their transportation.
    The law has been used only once, in 2013, to penalize a transport company for allowing a convicted sex offender to escape from an unlocked van into a cornfield in North Dakota. The fine was $10,000, plus the cost of a manhunt.
    The Justice Department declined to comment on Jeanna's Act, but a spokeswoman pointed out that a private prisoner transport guard had been indicted on charges of sexually assaulting three women in his care. The guard pleaded not guilty in January.
    When the USG7 van arrived at the Franklin County jail in Kentucky to drive Johnny Smith to Florida, he was so weak that jail employees had to push him to the vehicle in a wheelchair, according to police interviews.

    Mr. Smith's doctor had warned the jail that Mr. Smith had a variety of serious medical conditions. "I think his risk for an adverse event with extradition is high," the doctor wrote.
    Instead of heading to Florida, the van went east to pick up other passengers. In Philadelphia, Mr. Smith fell out of his seat while apparently having a seizure, according to a police report in Orange, Conn., where he was found dead in the van 11 hours later. Mr. Smith had asked the guards for help in Philadelphia, an inmate interviewed by the police said, but after a cursory check-in, the van had driven on.

    The police in Orange declined to pursue charges, saying that Mr. Smith had died of natural causes. Both guards involved in the incident declined to comment.
    Mr. Smith's next of kin decided to sue. "It wasn't just the money," said Michael Smith, his son. "I wanted them out of business. I didn't want a family to go through that again."
    But when a hearing was scheduled in 2014, no one from USG7 showed up.
    The company's lawyer, Walter Thomas, had appeared multiple times in USG7's registration documents from 2009 to 2012, and was listed as its president in Department of Transportation filings during the same period. But in 2014, Mr. Thomas told the court that he had severed ties with USG7's management and no longer had any contact information for them.
    By 2015, though, Mr. Thomas was representing a new Jacques company in a Florida lawsuit.
    He declined to comment.
    Just a few months after the company stopped responding to the Smith lawsuit, the Jacqueses were moving to open another transport firm. They called it U.S. Corrections, and kept many of the same agreements with the law-enforcement agencies that had given USG7 business before, according to recently obtained emails and interviews with employees and associates.
    In one email exchange, the manager of warrants and extraditions at the Broward Sheriff's Office in Ft. Lauderdale wrote that Ashley Jacques "requested, if possible, we execute a new contract with his company under the name of U.S. Corrections so we can be sure the conditions of our original contract are being met by his new company."
    "Yes, this is the company that was USG7," she says in another email.
    The sheriff's office said in a statement that it had concerns for several years about the poor record of U.S. Corrections, but that whenever the agency puts out a request for a new transport provider, it gets little response.

    In two documents from April and May 2014 signed by Ashley Jacques, he states that U.S. Corrections was assuming contract obligations previously held by USG7.
    In bids for new contracts, the Jacques's company has written that "U.S. Corrections is a new company by name, but not by existence, experience, and management."
    But the Jacques brothers have maintained in multiple court filings that USG7 and U.S. Corrections are separate entities. And that has been enough to thwart lawyers trying to collect judgments.
    Businesses often set up limited-liability companies, or L.L.C.'s, and in some states these companies do not have to disclose the names of the people behind them.

    A person named Graham Wright, who signed at least one document in 2014 as the "owner" of USG7, could not be found. None of the employees interviewed said they had ever heard of him.
    U.S. Corrections has been registered in North Carolina, Tennessee and Delaware, according to various filings, but it has operated from Florida, according to those who have worked for the company. Lawyers said they have been unable to find the Jacques family because rather than list their street addresses in court documents, they often used post-office boxes.

    Ashley Jacques remains a member of the Marine Corps Reserve. He's been deployed to Iraq and currently serves about one weekend a month and two weeks a year as a military police officer in Brooklyn, according to a spokesman for the Marines.
    He has signed some business correspondence "Capt. Ash Jacques."
    About two years ago, U.S. Corrections was acquired by Prisoner Transportation Services, the nation's largest extradition outfit. The Jacques brothers received a combined 11.25 percent share of P.T.S., and Steven Jacques was given the title of chief transition officer, according to court records.
    In a statement, the company said that the Jacqueses "neither have the right or ability to manage or control P.T.S., nor are they involved in the company's daily operations."
    "Make no mistake, P.T.S. remains committed to doing things right and working to raise the standards of service across the entire industry," the statement says.
    The company said it did not assume the liabilities of U.S. Corrections and had no relationship with USG7.
    But one lawyer whose client recently brought a lawsuit against U.S. Corrections asserts that the P.T.S. deal was part of a recurring effort by the Jacques family to evade responsibility.
    "Slap a new name on the side of its business and escape its day of reckoning," the lawyer, Frank Hedin, wrote in a June email requesting evidence for the lawsuit, which proceeded for much of last year in federal court in Ft. Lauderdale.

    The plaintiff said that in 2015, he was transported by U.S. Corrections for 52 hours inside a cage in a windowless van with no ventilation, no way to lie down, not enough water and only an empty bottle to urinate in.
    The judge initially said she needed to determine whether the company had avoided liability through "a corporate transformation in form only."
    But in later depositions and filings, the Jacques brothers said they could not provide information about the company's history because they had mislaid their records.
    In one instance, they claimed that U.S. Corrections's records are on a flash drive that they could not find. Other documents, they said, were in a rented truck that went missing. They have also claimed that it would take precisely 5,528 hours to gather information about past inmate transports.
    In late December, the judge in the case ruled that the lawsuit could not be turned into a class action, because it would be too difficult to define who had been harmed by U.S. Corrections, when, and how. The plaintiff agreed to a confidential settlement with the company, and the question of who is liable for its debts remains unresolved.
    Months after the merger of U.S. Corrections and P.T.S., the company was moving a man to Florida from Virginia to face a 9-year-old charge of stealing a pearl necklace during a burglary. Other passengers said he pleaded in vain for help. He died en route.

    This article was produced in collaboration with The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that focuses on criminal justice issues.


    9) Black Lawyer Says He Was Detained on the Job and Accused of Being a Suspect
    By Concepción de León, March 28, 2019

    Rashad James, a lawyer with Maryland Legal Aid, says he was detained in court by a deputy sheriff who did not believe he was a lawyer. "The entire time I made sure that I stayed calm, that I was respectful, that I complied," he said.CreditCreditAndrew Freeman

    A black Maryland lawyer who was detained in court earlier this month by a deputy who thought he was a suspect masquerading as a lawyer filed a complaint with the Harford County Sheriff's Office this week, alleging the action was racially motivated.
    The lawyer, Rashad James, who works for Maryland Legal Aid's community lawyering initiative, has asked the Sheriff's Department to begin an internal investigation and to record the complaint in the deputy's personnel file.
    Mr. James appeared at a hearing at Harford County District Court on March 6 on behalf of a client, who was not present. A sheriff's deputy approached Mr. James in the hallway after the hearing and called him by his client's name, according to the complaint.

    Mr. James corrected him and provided his driver's license to prove his identity, but the deputy was not convinced. He directed Mr. James to an interview room and detained him for 10 to 15 minutes while Mr. James made phone calls to confirm his identity, his lawyers said.

    "It was a series of events that we firmly believe none of which would have occurred had Mr. James been white," Andrew D. Freeman, one of Mr. James's lawyers, said.
    The experience was "surreal," Mr. James said on Thursday. "The entire time I made sure that I stayed calm, that I was respectful, that I complied."
    The Sheriff's Department is investigating Mr. James's complaint.
    "We take all complaints seriously," Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler said in a statement, adding that the department would "take immediate and appropriate administrative action" if it found the complaint had merit.
    Since the complaint was filed on Tuesday, Mr. James's lawyers have received phone calls and emails from nearly a dozen people with stories of racial discrimination in Harford County, in northeastern Maryland.
    "I think this is just another example of law enforcement in particular viewing black males suspiciously, second-guessing them or presuming that they're up to no good when they're doing rather ordinary things," said Chelsea Crawford, another lawyer for Mr. James.

    She referred to the episode as "lawyering while black."
    Mr. James's situation is the latest example of black people being detained or having the police called on them while engaging in everyday activities, such as sitting in a Starbucks or leaving an Airbnb home.
    Black professionals have also spoken out about encountering bias while on the job and having their credentials questioned. Last October, a Delta flight attendant asked a black doctor who was trying to help a passenger in distress if she was "actually an M.D."
    Mr. James said he was ready to shift his focus back to his clients. He said that nothing like this had happened to him before in the courtroom and that he felt it was important to tell his story.
    "By speaking up, I hope that it will encourage other persons to speak up," he said.


    10) Kalief Browder's Suicide Inspired a Push to End Cash Bail. Now It's Stalled.
    By Ashley Southall and Jesse McKinley, March 29, 2019

    A memorial for Kalief Browder in New York in 2015. Since his death, the movement to abolish cash bail has grown stronger.CreditCreditLucas Jackson/Reuters
    For many in New York, the inequities in the cash bail system were crystallized when a Bronx teenager named Kalief Browder spent three years on Rikers Island because his family could not raise $3,000, only to have a robbery charge dropped for lack of evidence. He later took his own life.
    Since his death, the movement to abolish cash bail has grown stronger, especially among the state's urban politicians who argue the current system discriminates against the poor, greatly diminishing their chances of acquittal. When Democrats seized control of the state Legislature in New York last fall, the party finally appeared poised to eliminate the use of cash deposits or bonds to ensure people return to court.
    But the proposal has run into unexpected resistance from Long Island Democrats, who are dealing with a wave of MS-13 gang violence and have worries about appearing soft on crime, as well as from Democratic district attorneys, who want strong assurances that people who pose a danger to others will not be released.

    At the same time, more liberal members of the Legislature are chafing at proposals that judges be given permission to hold defendants on the basis of subjective standards like "dangerousness" or "risk." The split in the party has bogged down the proposal, leaving its fate in doubt.

    As the year started, opponents of cash bail had the momentum: They scored a major victory last year when California became the first state to abolish cash bail, and states like New Jersey and New Mexico voted to minimize its use. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo vowed last year to "end the cash bail system once and for all," and the newly installed Democratic leaders of the State Assembly and Senate endorsed the idea.
    But disagreements have arisen over which crimes are serious enough to warrant letting a prosecutor request that a defendant be held in jail and whether judges can consider the threat some pose to the public in making bail decisions. Like the current law, most of the proposed bills only allow judges to weigh the risk of flight, not public safety.
    Supporters of changing the bail law point to a new report that shows judges in New York City have already cut the use of cash bail drastically over the last three decades without seeing a rise in the number of defendants who do not return to court.

    City judges released about three-quarters of the defendants who appeared before them in 2017 without bail, and 86 percent of those people showed up for their court dates, the same percentage as three decades ago, when far more people were held on bail, and well above the national average, the report by the New York City Criminal Justice Agency showed.

    Mr. Cuomo said in an email to supporters this week that he would not agree to a state budget unless it contained language ending cash bail, along with other sweeping changes to criminal procedures. "And we know that the overwhelming number of people who can't afford bail are black and Latino, making this an issue of racial justice," the email stated.
    As negotiations pushed toward the April 1 budget deadline, the Senate majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Westchester County Democrat, reiterated that she and fellow Democrats in her chamber wanted to "make sure that we're not criminalizing poverty, and that there would never, ever, ever be another instance of a Kalief Browder."
    Cash bail has roots going back to Anglo-Saxon law, and has evolved to mean the set of conditions that judges impose on people who have been arrested to make sure they return to court until their cases are resolved. In New York, judges routinely give defendants just two options: cash and insurance bonds, and this, critics say, has created a two-tiered system of justice.
    Because people free on bail are more likely to prevail at trial, the system gives wealthier defendants an enormous advantage over those who are poor, and disproportionately affects black and Latino people. Public defenders say impoverished defendants often plead guilty to reduced charges simply to end incarceration, even as they maintain their innocence.
    Mr. Browder was only 16 in May 2010 when he was arrested on charges he stole a backpack in the Bronx. Unable to pay his bail, he spent three years in jail, two of them in solitary confinement, as his trial date was repeatedly postponed.
    The charges were finally dropped in 2013 after the prosecutors could not locate the person who claimed to have been robbed. Mr. Browder was released but had trouble adjusting to freedom and hanged himselfin 2015. His case became a rallying point for left-leaning politicians, among them Mayor Bill de Blasio, who have sought not only to abolish cash bail, but to overhaul the state's speedy trial rules and to end the practice of jailing teenagers with adults.

    In Albany, Democratic gains in elections last fall swept away a Republican majority in the Senate that for decades had bottled up efforts to alter the bail law, and supporters of eliminating cash bail expected swift passage of a bill.

    But New York politics are never easy; the interests of New York City lawmakers often conflict with suburban and upstate priorities, even within the same party.
    Nowhere is that dissonance more pronounced than in suburban communities of Long Island, where the atrocities committed by the Salvadoran group MS-13 was a Republican talking point last fall.
    Moderate members of the new Democratic majority in the Senate from Long Island and other suburban enclaves have been pumping the brakes on eliminating cash bail without safeguards to keep dangerous criminals in jail.
    A collection of Senate Republicans, judges and law enforcement officials have been lobbying against the proposed changes.
    "The Long Island districts are the ones truly under the most pressure, the most heat," said Khalil A. Cumberbatch, a former inmate who works as the chief strategist for New Yorkers United for Justice, a coalition lobbying for an end to cash bail.
    Many of the "Long Island Six" — as the Nassau and Suffolk County's six Democrat senators are known — are also anticipating spirited re-election campaigns next year, having narrowly won their races in 2018. They are already facing headwinds because of the flurry of victories for liberal Democrats — including codifying abortion rights and a recent agreement on congestion pricing — that threaten to alienate some conservative and suburban voters.

    One of the six is Senator James Gaughran, a Suffolk County Democrat. He said that after speaking with Long Island district attorneys, who are concerned about MS-13 members being released back on the streets, he would support a "bail reform bill, as opposed to a no-bail bill."
    The state District Attorneys Association has endorsed the end to bail for most misdemeanors and some nonviolent felonies, but has warned lawmakers to carefully consider the implications of making broader changes. They note that the Legislature has held no hearings on the issue.

    "We're not in opposition to reform, but what we are opposing are unrealistic, impractical proposals that break the system," said P. David Soares, a Democrat who is the Albany County district attorney and the association's president.
    Six Democratic prosecutors from the city and its suburbs — including liberals like Cyrus R. Vance Jr. in Manhattan, Eric Gonzalez in Brooklyn and Darcel Clark in the Bronx — wrote an opinion piece in The Daily News this week in support of ending cash bail, but only if the law is also changed so that judges can order people detained "who pose a physical safety threat to others."
    Still, supporters of eliminating cash bail are confident they will negotiate a deal on cash bail before the session ends.
    "It's not like we're looking at apples and oranges," said Assemblywoman Latrice M. Walker, who sponsored a bail reform measure that passed last year. "It's more like oranges and grapefruits."

    There is general agreement, for instance, that the only factor a judge should consider for most misdemeanor and nonviolent felony charges is whether a defendant is likely to return to face trial, lawmakers said.
    The main disagreement in Albany seems to be over precisely which offenses prosecutors would be allowed to request that a person be held in jail, and which would be eligible for stricter release conditions. Also being debated is how judges would define abstract concepts like "dangerousness" and "risk."
    Some liberal lawmakers say provisions allowing judges to determine how dangerous the accused person is would give judges too much leeway, inviting the potential for racial or personal bias to influence the decision.
    A bill put forward by Senator Michael Gianaris, a Queens Democrat, and Assemblyman Daniel J. O'Donnell, a Manhattan Democrat, ends cash bail but does not allow judges to make decisions based on security concerns.
    "There's a consensus about doing something," said Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol, a Brooklyn Democrat who is chairman of the Codes Committee. "We just haven't figured out the details."


    11) Your Public Lands Are Killing You
    By Timothy Egan, March 29, 2019

    A rally by Our Children’s Trust outside the Supreme Court in October in support of the plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States.CreditWin McNamee/Getty Images

    Out in the way beyond, the open land on the far side of the Mueller report and cable news obsessives, is a vast kingdom now being used to hasten the demise of the planet.
    You may know this area, more than 500 million acres of empty vales and thick forests, high plains and diamond-cut peaks, as something you saw on a screen saver, or marked as a distant bucket list destination. It’s your American public land endowment, your birthright at citizenship.
    What you may not know is that while you were sleeping through the white noise from the White House, your public servants were put under the control of the oil and gas industry. They have been busy giving away drilling rights on your land for next to nothing. More precisely — per acre, for even less than the cost of a Bacon McDouble, which of course you should eat only in moderation.

    And they’re doing this in the face of considerable evidence that the rush into industrial plunder of these lands is a huge source of planet-convulsing carbon emissions.

    But behold: A history-making lawsuit on behalf of children who will inherit this mess could put an end to the Trump administration plan to drill till we drop. Although the courts have never recognized a constitutional right to a livable environment, the lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, has been given a green light to pursue just that.

    “This is no ordinary lawsuit,” wrote federal judge Ann Aiken of Oregon in allowing the case to proceed. “I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.”
    If that judicial statement was a stunner, what happened this month in another case was equally extraordinary. For the first time, a federal judge temporarily halted drilling on federal land because the government did not take into account the climate change impact of that drilling.

    Forget about the unworkable Green New Deal, which Republicans are using as a prop to show how silly both parties are. Cow flatulence! No air travel! The end of “hamberders!” It’s been a gift to right-wing demagogues, looking to further dumb down a Republican base that doesn’t believe anything a wounded earth is trying to tell them.

    The real action is unfolding now, on federal land. Prior administrations allowed for considerable oil and gas drilling in swaths of the public domain in the West. But President Trump is holding a fire sale for his fellow fossil fools. The amount of federal land offered for drilling is three times what it was under President Barack Obama.
    It would be one thing if we needed this oil. We don’t. The world is awash in cheap crude. And it would be another if these lands weren’t being used for something that poses an existential threat. They are. Almost 25 percent of American earth-warming emissions originate from industrial action involving public land or offshore leases.
    The United States is the biggest carbon polluter in history, and now ranks behind only China in greenhouse gas emissions. As well, we’re now the largest crude oil producer in the world. And we’ve become a leading exporter of that oil, just to show how bad of a global citizen we can be.
    If you force the Trump administration to stop bingeing on public land, you can make an immediate impact on the amount of earth-warming carbon the United States spits into the atmosphere.
    Such an injunction is what the children represented by a trust in the Juliana lawsuit are trying to do. And it was that sort of injunction, acknowledging the role of drilling on public land in harming us all, that temporarily shut down new leasing on 300,000 acres in Wyoming this month.
    Another big step is to prevent David Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist, from becoming interior secretary. A stooge for his former clients, this Trump nominee was the deputy secretary, while the top job was held by a strange man, Ryan Zinke, who paraded around on a horse named Tonto.

    It was Bernhardt who tried to block release of a federal analysis showing that two widely used pesticides were so toxic that theyjeopardize the continued existence” of more than 1,200 species of birds, fish and other life-forms without lobbyists, as my colleague Eric Lipton reported this week.

    You can see who Bernhardt is working for: It’s not all the living things under the domain of the emperor of the outdoors. Nor is he looking out for the interests of children, who will have to live with the consequences of action taken by adults in service to carbon pollution.
    About those kids: Senator Mike Lee of Utah recently took to the floor of his chamber to say that the best response to the mounting chaos of epic floods, searing wildfires and other symptoms of a sick earth is to get married and have children.
    What he didn’t say was that we hold our public land in trust for the Americans of tomorrow. The least we can do is stop using it to imperil their world.


    12) Tear Gas and Clashes as Palestinians Rally Near Gaza Border Fence With Israel
    By The Associated Press, March 30, 2019

    A protester used a slingshot to hurl a rock toward Israeli forces as Palestinians marked the anniversary of the “March of Return” border protests in Gaza on Saturday.CreditCreditMahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters on Saturday as Palestinian protesters approached the fence between Gaza and Israel.CreditMahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Palestinian paramedics carrying an injured man at a rally near the Gaza border fence with Israel on Saturday.CreditAnas Baba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    GAZA — Israeli troops fired tear gas and live rounds on Saturday at small crowds of Palestinian activists who had approached the border fence with Israel as tens of thousands of people gathered to commemorate the anniversary of weekly protests in the Gaza Strip, killing one and wounding 13 others, according to Palestinian medical officials.
    Gaza’s Hamas rulers had pledged to keep the crowds at a safe distance from the fence as Egyptian mediators tried to cement a cease-fire agreement. Dozens of volunteers in fluorescent vests were deployed to restrain demonstrators. Ambulances lined up in front of clinics and police supervised encampments erected far from the fence.
    But as the crowds swelled throughout the afternoon in response to Hamas’s calls for a large turnout, dozens of protesters approached the fence, unfurling Palestinian flags and throwing rocks and explosives toward Israeli soldiers positioned nearby. The Israeli forces responded with tear gas and live fire to disperse the crowds.

    Gaza’s Health Ministry said that a 17-year-old protester was killed immediately after being shot in the face in East Gaza City.

    The Israeli military estimated 40,000 Palestinians had gathered at the marches.
    “The rioters are hurling rocks and setting tires on fire. In addition, a number of grenades and explosive devices have been hurled at the Gaza Strip security fence,” it said in a statement. It said soldiers had responded with “riot dispersal means” and firing in line with standard procedures.
    Earlier on Saturday, Gaza health officials said Israeli troops had shot and killed a Palestinian man, Mohammed Saad, 21, near the perimeter fence, hours before the mass rally began. Gaza’s Health Ministry said he had been hit in the head by shrapnel.
    The Israeli Army said that about 200 Palestinians had “rioted during the night along the fence” and that the army had used crowd dispersal means against them.

    Saturday’s protest came at a sensitive time for both Israel and Hamas.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is seeking his fourth consecutive term in the country’s April 9 elections, but he is facing a serious challenge from a group of former army chiefs who have criticized what they say is his failed Gaza policy.

    In the final stretch of the campaign, Mr. Netanyahu needs to keep the Israel-Gaza frontier quiet without seeming to make concessions to Hamas. He was heavily criticized this past week for what was seen as a soft response to renewed rocket fire out of Gaza.
    Hamas, meanwhile, faces growing unrest in Gaza as a result of worsening conditions after more than a decade of Israeli and Egyptian border closings.
    The fence protests, which began a year ago, have been aimed in large part at breaking the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza, but have not delivered major improvements.
    Fouad Aishan, 40, said came with his five children to the frontier to show them the Israeli soldiers and to return to safety before the protest started.
    “I come here driven by personal national motivation,” he said. “It has nothing to do with what the politicians do.”
    The marches near the fence began a year ago, initially organized by grass-roots activists who were calling for a mass return to their ancestors’ homes in what is now Israel. About two-thirds of Gaza’s two million people are refugees or descendants of refugees who had fled or had been forced from their homes during the war surrounding Israel’s establishment in 1948.

    Hamas quickly took the lead in the protests, using the gatherings to call for an easing of the blockade.

    The blockade, imposed after Hamas seized Gaza in 2007, has devastated Gaza’s economy. Unemployment is over 50 percent, ground water has become undrinkable and electricity has turned into an intermittent luxury.
    The border marches routinely ended in confrontations, with some of the Palestinian demonstrators burning tires, hurling fire bombs or setting off explosives and Israeli troops firing live rounds and tear gas.
    According to a Gaza rights group and a count by The Associated Press, 196 Palestinians were killed in the demonstrations over the past year, including 41 minors, and thousands were wounded by live fire. An Israeli soldier was also killed in the context of the marches.
    Egypt has repeatedly tried to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, stepping up efforts in recent days after a rocket from Gaza struck a house in central Israel earlier this week, injuring seven Israelis and threatening to escalate tensions.
    Palestinians with knowledge of the talks have said that as part of the proposed deal, Gaza protesters were to keep away from the fence Saturday and Israeli troops were to hold their fire.
    Under the Egyptian plan, Israel would offer economic incentives for Gaza in exchange for calm, according to Palestinian officials.

    Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, said the group had received “positive signs” from the Egyptians. He added that the Egyptian team was to return to Israel on Sunday to continue the talks. “We will continue our marches until all our goals are achieved,” he said.
    This month, Hamas quelled what have been portrayed as the fiercest protests yet against its mismanagement and failure to improve the internal economic situation.
    Hamas blames the blockade and punitive measures by its West Bank-based rival, the Palestinian Authority, for worsening the living conditions.


    13) Migrants Are Detained Under a Bridge in El Paso. What Happened?
    By Simon Romero, March 29, 2019
    People [FORCED TO] rest [SLEEP ON ROCKS]BW as they are held by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in an enclosed area beneath the Paso del Norte International Bridge in El Paso, Tex., on Friday. 
    CreditCreditTamir Kalifa for The New York Times

    Welcome to a special edition of Crossing the Border, a limited-run weekly newsletter from The New York Times. Like what you see? Send this to a friend. If someone forwarded it to you, sign up here to have the next issue delivered to your inbox.
    The surge in Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States is straining facilities across the Southwest border, with Border Patrol processing facilities this week handling thousands of people in excess of the system’s capacity. President Trump threatened to close the border next week if Mexico did not halt “all illegal immigration” into the United States.
    El Paso, the Texas border city where the president held a rally in February calling for his wall with Mexico, is emerging as a flash point. Border Patrol agents in the city have begun holding migrant families in an area under a bridge, surrounded by fencing and razor wire.
    Photos of the conditions drew attention this week on social media and in news reports. Here’s a look at where the migrants came from, and how they came to be detained under the bridge.
    People held in an enclosure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday, after crossing the border between Mexico and the United States.CreditJose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters
    CreditCredit Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

    Agents are apprehending about 570 migrants a day in the El Paso metropolitan area, up from about 100 a day five months ago. On some days last year, there were no apprehensions at all in the entire El Paso sector, which stretches across New Mexico and a swath of West Texas.
    The increase translates into a lack of space at processing facilities, so officials put up a large military tent under the Paso Del Norte International Bridge in what they describe as a temporary measure. The tent has bathrooms, blankets, water and food — but people appear to be miserable nonetheless.
    Stays in the encampment are said to vary from several hours to a couple of days, depending on the flow of migrants across the border. Some migrants are sleeping in cots inside the government tent, while others prefer to sleep on the ground outside.
    Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said at a news conference on Wednesday near the encampment that the country’s immigration enforcement system is at a “breaking point.”

    Political and business leaders in El Paso are expressing criticism over the Trump administration’s handling of the new influx. Many in the city, a Democratic bastion, had already disputed the president’s assertion that border fencing had cut crime in El Paso.
    In a news conference in El Paso on Wednesday, Mr. McAleenan announced that C.B.P. was temporarily reassigning up to 750 officers to places on the border that are grappling with the increased flow of migrants. But some of those in El Paso say the overall response has been haphazard.
    sticking point is the Trump administration’s plan to spend $192 million on a new immigrant processing center in the city. Officials chose an old 400,000-square-foot Hoover vacuum plant for the site.
    But business leaders are questioning whether the manufacturing facility is the best place to process migrants in a humane way. Others claim that federal officials chose the site despite concerns over its proximity to schools, businesses and residential areas.
    In any case, the new center won’t be open until at least June.

    Mr. Trump has lashed out at Mexico’s government, claiming on Twitter that it was doing “nothing” to stop unauthorized migrants from reaching the United States.
    But the view in Mexico is more nuanced. In fact, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has already given in to some of Mr. Trump’s demands, breaking with decades of asylum practices in Mexico. (Read more about that here.)

    Mexican authorities have been blocking groups of migrants at some border towns, intercepting unaccompanied minors before they reach American soil and allowing the Trump administration to send more than 120 migrants to Tijuana to await decisions on asylum requests.
    Now Mr. López Obrador’s efforts to avoid a confrontation with Mr. Trump over the issue seem to be waning. The Mexican president said on Thursday that while he respected Mr. Trump’s position, the problem largely involved the United States and Central American countries.
    “I just emphasize that migration flows of Mexicans to the United States are very low,” Mr. López Obrador told reporters in Mexico City.
    “The Mexican is no longer seeking work in the United States,” he said. “The majority are inhabitants of our fellow Central American countries.”
    Border Patrol apprehensions remain well below their peak of 1.6 million in 2000. But apprehensions climbed to 467,000 in 2018, the highest level in six years. Mr. McAleenan said at his news conference on Wednesday that there were more than 12,000 migrants in United States custody at the beginning of the week. “As of this morning, that number was 13,400. A high number for us is 4,000. A crisis level is 6,000. 13,000 is unprecedented,” he said.
    The important thing to understand is that migration patterns from Latin America have undergone a big shift.
    Standing in contrast to previous migration surges, the latest one involves few single men from Mexico. Instead, as more Mexicans actually leave the United States than arrive as migrants, Central American families now account for the large majority of new arrivals.

    Whereas the Border Patrol could easily deport undocumented Mexicans, deporting Central Americans is more challenging. Most are arriving as family units applying for asylum, a process that can take months or years to evaluate. The federal government is letting many migrants go free each week because it lacks enough beds to hold them in family detention centers.
    “The situation has changed dramatically, and we’re responding to it the best we can,” said Ramiro Cordero, a Border Patrol spokesman in El Paso.

    14) Why Do Garfield Phones Keep Washing Up on This Beach?
    By Palko Karasz, March 29, 2019

    Spare parts of plastic Garfield phones were displayed on the beach in Plouarzel, in western France, after being collected from a sea cave by environmental activists.CreditCreditFred Tanneau/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    LONDON — For three decades it was a mystery that seemed to defy belief.
    Bright orange plastic novelty phones shaped like the grumpy cartoon cat Garfield kept washing up on the rocky Atlantic shoreline of Brittany, in western France.
    Over the years, locals have picked up hundreds of pieces of the phones, including paws, headset cables and even Garfield heads, forever fixed in his familiar smirk. But nobody knew exactly where they came from.
    Last week, volunteers cleaning the beaches solved the puzzle: The source of the Garfield phones was a long-lost shipping container, nestled in a rocky sea cave.

    “This waste is over 30 years old, and we are still finding bits,” Fabien Boileau, the director of the Iroise Marine Natural Park, told the news site FranceInfo, citing it as an example of plastic debris that never fully breaks down and contributes to ocean pollution.

    The disturbing longevity of these plastic pieces, some of which look practically new, have made the Garfield phones into a local symbol of marine pollution. The mystery of the phones gained national prominence after journalists at FranceInfo reported on the case as part of a campaign called Pollution Alert.
    Around 148 million shipping containers are sent by sea each year, according to the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency.
    Between 2008 and 2016, shipping companies lost over 1,500 containers on average each year, most during accidents such as capsizing, running aground or when sailing in heavy seas, according to a survey by the World Shipping Council, a trade association.
    In one accident alone in 2014, more than 500 containers were lost from a ship run by the company Maersk in a storm in the Bay of Biscay.
    Depending on what is in them, lost containers can have long-lasting effects on marine life and coastal communities. (Most of the containers lost in the 2014 Maersk accident were empty, and none contained hazardous material, the company said.)

    Rules on reporting and dealing with lost containers vary globally. As part of an action plan on marine waste, the International Maritime Organization plans to discuss in May setting standard procedures for the reporting of lost containers and for addressing liability for plastic consumer goods lost at sea.
    Volunteers in Brittany tracked down the source of the Garfield phones after a local man told them about a big storm that struck in the early 1980s. Last week they ventured into the sea cave, normally cut off by the tide and only accessible a few days each year, where they found metal from a container and Garfield-shaped phone shells, still containing potentially dangerous electronic components.
    The telephones appeared to have been those made by Tyco, advertised in the 1980s as “real phones for real fun.” They feature a keypad, have a classic electric “ring” — and Garfield’s eyelids slide half-open when the user picks up the handset.
    They have survived as vintage items, still sold on auction websites and at flea markets. They will also very likely continue to haunt the Brittany shoreline.
    “Behind the fun character of Garfield, there is plastic pollution that does not decompose in the ocean, and that we will continue to face for years,” said Claire Simonin-Le Meur, a local volunteer.


    15) The NYPD Union’s War Against Parole Reform

    For decades, cops have aggressively opposed even minor reforms concerning accountability and criminal justice. Now, they’re finding they no longer have the state’s parole board under their thumb.

    By Natasha Lennard, March 29, 2019
    Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch in New York on May 4, 2015. (AP Photo / Seth Wenig)

    New York’s largest police union is nothing if not consistent: The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York (PBA) has aggressively opposed even the most minor reforms concerning police accountability and criminal justice for decades.
    In 1966, Mayor John Lindsay proposed establishing a Civilian Complaint Review Board in response to rising public concern over police brutality; PBA members protested in their thousands, lobbied and managed to keep civilians off the police-oversight agency for another 20 years. When Mayor David Dinkins put forward a police-oversight plan in 1992, the union organized a near-riot outside City Hall, jumping on cars and breaking barricades. In 2014, the blustering union president Patrick Lynch said that “blood was on the hands” of Mayor Bill De Blasio following the murder of two NYPD cops. The mayor’s crime: deigning to mention the problem of police violence in the months before the attack.
    But nothing whips the powerful police union into a fury like the possibility that an individual convicted of killing an officer might one day walk free. “Keep Cop Killers in Jail for Life” is among the animating missions of the PBA—a whole page on its website, labeled “Cop Killers,” is dedicated to this issue alone.
    The New York State Board of Parole, which determines the release of eligible prisoners who have already served their determined sentences, currently consists of 12 commissioners appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. In recent decades, the board was typically made up of individuals with previous law-enforcement careers who naturally tended towards denying parole. Over the last year, though, with the adoption of new regulations and the addition of new commissioners without law-enforcement backgrounds, the board has granted some long-overdue releases. As I have previously written, the decision to grant parole after 44 years to 70-year-old Herman Bell, a former Black Panther convicted of the 1971 murder of two NYPD officers, was a litmus test for whether the parole board would follow its own guidelines and release the aging man with a stellar institutional record, or bend to the political influence of the police union.
    In 2018, the PBA reacted with ire to Bell’s release; Lynch, with his flare for blatant racism, stated that “to let this animal onto the streets is disgraceful.” The union continues to pursue strained legal avenues to see the septuagenarian back behind bars. Both Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio publicly condemned the board’s rightful decision; the parole board’s decision later in the year to release Robert Hayes, also a former Black Panther, was a heartening signal that the commissioners would uphold the principles of parole rather than kowtow to police union pressure.
    The PBA has since doubled down on its campaign. The powerful union is taking aggressive aim at the New York State Board of Parole at the very moment parole reform is moving (albeit slowly) in the right direction. If the police union is successful in its efforts with regards to “cop killers”—as it historically has often been—it would undermine the very premises on which the parole system is supposed to function.
    “Every time someone whose crime involved injury or death to police comes up for parole, the PBA launches a frontal media attack, ignoring completely who the person is today, and exaggerating wildly the crime they were convicted of committing,” Laura Whitehorn, an organizer with the project Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) and a former political prisoner herself, said in a recent interview. “They portray themselves as guardians of public safety, but the way they block advances in parole release have nothing whatsoever to do with public safety, only with police supremacy.”
    The PBA’s go-to tactics include hammy appeals to public safety and citizen’s concerns. Last week, the police union announced that it would hand-deliver to the parole board tens of thousands of letters, apparently written by members of the public, asking that “cop killers” never be released. The police union claims that since 2014, some 200,000 letters from the public have been “purposefully ignored” by the board.
    The story behind these letters gives lie to the police union’s claim of vast public support and exposes the cynical efforts it is willing to undertake in its crusade against reasonable parole decisions. Two hundred thousand individuals did not write to the parole board; the PBA’s letters represent as few as around 3,000 people clicking on a website link. The vast majority of letters were automatically generated by the PBA’s site, which invites visitors to “send a letter for all cop killers” in a bold red font and then generates 62 separate letters with one click—one for each “cop killer” listed on the site.
    According to Corrections, between 2012 to 2014, the department enabled what RAPP’s Whitehorn called a “secret pipeline,” by which these mass-generated letters would be dispatched directly to the parole board through the police union’s online portal.
    Without warning the police union, Corrections shut down the portal between its site and the PBA’s in 2014, around the same time advocacy organizations like RAPP were mounting pressure on the board to grant release to aging prisoners. Now, the union and its supporters have to complain to the parole board like any other members of the public (DOCCS has a link on its website for such messages and accepts mail). The union only discovered the change in February—that’s the downside to automating letter-writing–and took it as evidence of a “decision” to “ignore” the public.
    The New York Daily News was swift to trumpet the PBA’s outrage, echoing the union’s soundbite that 200,000 messages had been “left in limbo.” The tabloid at no point mentioned that the PBA site generated dozens of messages per single click. The corrections department, on its part, has pushed back on the PBA’s narrative. “The PBA’s most recent attack on the Board of Parole is disingenuous and is effectively a demand for exclusive access to the board that is not otherwise provided to any other New Yorker,” said DOCCS spokesperson Thomas Mailey, adding that the “clerical change” that ended the online portal “has in no way prevented the PBA or anyone else from providing letters of opposition or support.”
    More optimistically, the letters saga indicates fresh independence in the parole board. In 2017, administrators brought in new regulations in an attempt to instantiate what should have long been standard practice: basing parole decisions on an evaluation of the inmate’s risk to the public instead of the nature of the crime that led to their incarceration. Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed six new parole commissioners, a number of whom have a history in public health and family services, rather than the typical law-enforcement careers of parole commissioners.
    The new regulations stipulated that hearings would no longer serve as a relitigation of an original crime but, rather, a reasoned consideration of an individual and their circumstances at the time of their parole hearing. Such changes are especially crucial for aging prisoners who have served lengthy sentences and pose a negligible risk of recidivism. Even some members of law enforcement also now argue for shifts towards a more presumptive parole system when aging prisoners are concerned. “Imprisoning the elderly is extremely expensive—estimated to cost between two to five times as much as a regular prisoner, and potentially costing hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. On top of that, it’s ineffective,” said Maj. Neill Franklin, a retired police officer and executive director of the nonprofit Law Enforcement Action Partnership. “Most people simply age out of crime as they get older, and very few people over the age of 55 constitute a public-safety risk,” Franklin said.
    The PBA’s letters stunt is thus best read as a scrambling reaction to a parole board no longer entirely under its thumb. “There has been a major shift in parole decisions in the past three years,” Albert O’Leary, the PBA’s communications director, explained. “The nature of the crime used to be the leading consideration for release, but has been reduced to the least-considered factor under changes implemented internally by DOCCS without public review or comment.” It has, however, been in the parole board’s guidelines since 2011 that assessments about a prisoner’s current “risk and needs” be given major weight in parole considerations, rather than a focus on the nature of the original crime. New regulations simply asserted that this guideline should be upheld.
    The parole system is still mired in problems both procedural and structural. The New York State Parole Board is currently understaffed (there are seven vacancies), leading to harmful and cruel delays. That an incarcerated person will likely not be granted parole unless they admit guilt and show penance in front of the board leads to gross injustices for the many innocent individuals in prison who have exhausted their limited appeals.
    But for the parole board to both enact and assert its independence from the police union and the political power it exerts constitutes a notable and welcome shift. It’s high time that the PBA’s mendacious campaigns for police supremacy be met with the silence they deserve.
    Natasha LennardTWITTERNatasha Lennard is a British-born, Brooklyn-based writer of news and political analysis, focusing on how power functions and how it is challenged.

    16) Rasmea Odeh Breaking the Silence in Berlin: #RasmeaSpricht #RasmeaSpeaks
    By Samidoun, Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, March 29, 2019

    On Wednesday evening, 27 March, Rasmea Odeh‘s voice and words were heard in Berlin, Germany, despite a harsh, repressive campaign that included yet another ban on her speaking in person issued by Berlin’s Senator for the Interior. The successful event at be’kech in Berlin’s Wedding district brought crowds to the space despite a large police presence; the space was so crowded that many people stayed outside to watch the event through glass windows.
    The evening marked a significant achievement for Rasmea Odeh and all those defending the right to organize and advocate for Palestine in Berlin. Despite all attempts to prevent it from taking place, Rasmea’s voice was heard in Berlin and celebrated by people of conscience.
    Once again, as was the case on 15 March, when Rasmea was to join Palestinian poet and former prisoner Dareen Tatour for an evening of solidarity and celebration of Palestinian women’s struggle, the venue itself was subject to harassment and threats. Another media smear campaign was launched against Rasmea along with attempts to demand that she once again be prohibited from speaking.
    On Wednesday afternoon, only hours before the event, Berlin Interior Senator Andreas Geisel, an SPD politician who had earlier declared that speaking “against the state of Israel” crossed a “red line” that justified the violation of freedom of speech, once again banned Odeh from delivering a public speech at the event. However, organizers presented a video from Odeh, ensuring that her message and her story would be able to be heard by supporters in person and everyone around the world who supports her and the struggle for justice in Palestine.
    Once again, several vans of police filled the area (although a smaller presence than that surrounding the 15 March event). They searched the crowd for Rasmea, but left partway through the event after it was clear that she was not attending in person. A claimed counter-demonstration by pro-apartheid Zionist organizations was not immediately visible, but there may have been several participants at the corner of the street.
    The moderator of the evening opened the event with a stirring call against the silencing of oppressed and marginalized people, especially Palestinian women. She noted the growing support received by the event and the campaign to defend Odeh by a number of organizations, including the Internationale Liga für Menschenrechte, which sent a statement to the organization. The event was supported by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Berlin Muslim Feminists, Bündnis gegen Rassismus, HIRAK (Palestinian Youth Mobilization, Berlin), The Coalition Berlin, Bloque Latinoamericano Berlin, Brot und Rosen international socialist women’s organiation, Revolutionäre Internationalistische Organisation – Klasse Gegen Klasse, Berlin Against Pinkwashing, Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost (Jewish Voice for a Just Peace), RefrACTa Kollektiv Brasilien-Berlin, BDS Berlin and the Kali feminist collective.
    The event also included a speech by a Palestinian student on behalf of HIRAK, emphasizing that this week also marks the one-year anniversary of the Great March of Return in Gaza. Just this week, Israel has been shelling Gaza, causing further destruction after taking hundreds of lives in the past year as Palestinians participated in collective, popular protests for their right to return and break the siege. She urged people to get involved in struggles here in Berlin, including Palestinian community organizing, the solidarity movement and the BDS campaign.
    The organizers next showed a video from 2013 in which Rasmea speaks about her life as a Palestinian woman. The video was made when she received the 2013 Outstanding Community Leader award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance:
    The screening was followed by a 20-minute video presentation – the main speech of the night – in which Rasmea discussed her situation in Berlin as well as presenting more broadly on Palestinian women, Palestinian prisoners and the continuing struggle for liberation. Full video coming shortly!
    As Rasmea spoke, including discussing her personal experience of torture, people in the packed room were silent, watching and listening closely to the Arabic speech and the subtitles in German and English. The conclusion of her speech was met with loud and prolonged applause and cheers as the event’s moderator noted that “this is what they did not want you to hear.”
    The event continued with a cultural evening featuring anti-colonial poetry by Wind Ma, a silent theater sketch by Maher Draidi of Almadina Theater, a musical performance of songs and guitar by Nicolás Miquea and a closing dabkeh performance by the Yafa Dabkeh Troupe. The event concluded with a stirring moment as people chanted together, “Viva, viva Palestina! Free, free Palestine!”
    Rasmea Odeh, born in 1947, is a lifelong struggler for Palestine and a well-known feminist organizer and activist. After surviving torture and sexual assault under interrogation by occupation forces and serving 10 years in Israeli prison, she came to the United States, where she organized over 800 women in Chicago in the Arab Women’s Committee, a project of the Arab American Action Network. In 2013, she was targeted by the FBI and U.S. immigration authorities and accused of lying about her time in Israeli prison, despite the fact that it was publicly known; she even testified before a Special Committee of the United Nations about her experience under torture and imprisonment. After a years-long court battle that won widespread grassroots support, she was deported to Jordan in 2017. She was one of the initial signatories of the call for the International Women’s Strike.
    After she was invited to speak in Berlin on 15 March, the U.S. ambassador (with ties to the German far right) Richard Grenell, Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan, charged with fighting Palestine solidarity and the BDS movement internationally, and the Israeli ambassador in Germany launched calls to censor her. Media propaganda falsely labeled her an “anti-Semite,” when she is in reality a longtime anti-racist struggler who developed strong connections with other oppressed communities, particularly the Black liberation movement. In the U.S., Angela Davis and Jewish Voice for Peace were among her supporters. In this context, Berlin politicians yielded to the demands of Trump and Netanyahu, and when Rasmea arrived at the event location, she was given a sheaf of papers. Her Schengen visa was ordered cancelled and she was directed to leave the country; she was banned from speaking at the event.
    Most of the allegations in the documents simply restated attacks by pro-apartheid media publications, including labeling the BDS campaign “anti-Semitic”. The German authorities also claimed that allowing Rasmea to speak and retain her visa would “damage the relationship between Germany and Israel.” Thus, Rasmea Odeh’s voice, experience and analysis was ordered suppressed and silenced through the joint complicity of the German, U.S. and Israeli governments.
    Rasmea is committed to fighting back in court. Her lawyer, Nadija Samour, said that “cancelling a visa based on what has happened so far in the past is a completely new concept from a legal point of view.” However, she and her supporters are aware that this is not simply a legal question but a clear political battle that requires support from the broadest number of people in Germany and internationally.
    Supporters of Rasmea in the United States, including the US Palestinian Community Network, Committee to Stop FBI Repression, Rasmea Defense Committee and many other groups have worked to support the growing campaign in Germany, and more organizations have been adding their voices to express support for Rasmea. By cancelling her Schengen visa, German officials are not only attempting to silence Rasmea’s speech in Berlin but to prevent her from traveling elsewhere in Europe to speak about her experiences and her views – thus denying people across the continent the opportunity to hear from a leading transnational feminist and Palestinian organizer.
    Rasmea was ordered silenced based on a desire to stop her from sharing her words and her experience, telling her story and presenting her analysis. The U.S. government is apparently committed to chasing Rasmea around the world in order to persecute her wherever she goes; meanwhile, the Israeli state continues its intensive attack on people’s right to support Palestine everywhere in the world, which has included the promotion of anti-BDS laws and falsely labeling Palestinian human rights defenders and solidarity groups as “terrorists.” The German state and Berlin authorities also chose to join this campaign, issuing two separate bans in less than two weeks against Rasmea Odeh to prevent her from delivering a live speech about her experiences, her involvement in women’s organizing and her view of Palestine.
    In many ways, Rasmea’s case does not stand alone; in Germany, it comes alongside the Humboldt 3 case and the prosecution of activists for speaking up against war crimes, attempts to block Palestine events from taking place in any location and far-right campaigns particularly targeting migrant communities. It also comes alongside the pursuit of anti-BDS laws in the US, the use of “anti-terror” frameworks to criminalize Palestinian community work and the use of visa denial to suppress political and cultural expression, such as in Australia’s recent denial of a visa to Palestinian American poet Remi Kanazi.
    In a particularly disturbing media article containing propaganda against Kanazi, pro-apartheid groups demand that Kanazi is barred for, among other things, supporting Rasmea and other Palestinian political prisoners. They also use the recent far-right, white-supremacist massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, as a justification for banning him, despite the fact that this was an attack targeting Muslims, linked to racist, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab propaganda, based on white supremacy, and which took the lives of a number of Palestinians specifically. It is clear that there is a global attack, backed by Erdan and the Israeli government, aimed at all Palestinians and supporters of Palestine – and especially aiming to isolate Palestinian prisoners from the international movements that continue to defend their rights.
    The campaign to defend Rasmea Odeh is not ending with this event – instead, it marks a strong beginning of a resurgent movement against the silencing of Palestinian women and for justice in Palestine. It also made it clear that Palestinian women, on the frontlines of struggle from inside Israeli prisons, to the Great Return March in Gaza to organizing for justice in Berlin, will not be silenced. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges people and organizations around the world to get involved and join this campaign by following the Facebook page, Rasmea spricht (Rasmea will speak) and sending statements of solidarity to samidoun@samidoun.net.



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