Support Chuck Africa for Parole

Michael Africa Jr. started this petition to Pennsylvania Governor

Charles Sims Africa #AM 4975 has been in prison since age 18. He is now 59 years old and a recovering cancer patient. He has been eligible for parole since 2008 but continually denied because of  his political views.
Charles has 8 codefendants. Two has died in prison, four has been released from prison onto parole. Chuck's sister Debbie Sims Africa is one of the four codefendants released onto parole.
Since coming home from prison, Debbie is thriving. Our community of support has supported Debbie to excel and we are committed to do the same for Chuck so that he can excel as well. 



Kim Kardashian visits inmate on death row at San Quentin State Prison

By Lee Brown, May 31, 2019
Kim Kardashian at San Quentin State Prison

Kim Kardashian's social justice crusade has taken her to death row.
The reality TV star spent two hours inside a cell in California's San Quentin State Prison, one of the most notorious jails in the US, as part of her latest crusade to free convicted murderer Kevin Cooper, sources confirmed.
"They met for two hours in a cell in the visitors' area of death row — a proper cell with bars," a source said.
The 38-year-old "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" star was pictured wearing an all-black jumpsuit as she entered the prison.
"Kim decided to pay a visit so she could have her first face-to-face with the guy she's trying to free," TMZ said.
She left "more convinced than ever he was framed," the site insisted.
The 61-year-old death row inmate was convicted in 1985 of four murders — including two 10-year-old children — but has maintained his innocence.
Kevin CooperCourtesy Photo
Kardashian — who is studying to be a lawyer to help her social justice mission — publicly announced her involvement in Cooper's case last year.
"Governor Brown, can you please test the DNA of Kevin Cooper?" Kardashian tweeted then-California Gov. Jerry Brown last June.
Cooper's advocates have argued that DNA found on a T-shirt that Cooper says he never wore should be retested.
The current governor of California, Gavin Newsom, has ordered that DNA testing, with results yet to be announced, according to TMZ.
Newsom is also a death penalty opponent and has decided to suspend all executions while he is in office.
Earlier this month, it emerged that Kardashian had quietly bankrolled a successful campaign to free 17 federal inmates serving life sentences for low-level drug crimes over the past three months.
Write to:
Kevin Cooper #C-65304 4-EB-82           
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, CA 94974



From: Charlie Hinton <solitaryman@lmi.net>
Date: June 14, 2019 at 7:40:26 PM PDT
To: Charlie Hinton <solitaryman@lmi.net>
Subject: Haiti
Hi Everybody,

Besides developing Solitary Man, I’ve also been a member of Haiti Action Committee for more than 15 years. Haiti isn’t in the news much, sadly and intentionally, but what is happening there is at least as newsworthy as the situation in Venezuela. The only difference is that in Haiti the United States government supports a corrupt dictatorship it has imposed against a people’s movement, while in Venezuela it supports a ruling class opposition which opposes a government of the people. Surprise, surprise. 

While international capitalist news sources report endlessly on Venezuela, they almost completely ignore Haiti, where police and paramilitary forces massacred an untold number of people in the La Saline neighborhood of Port-au-Prince on 11/13/18, and continue to shoot dead in the streets demonstrators who protest corruption and increasingly miserable living conditions, and who demand the fraudulently elected government of Jovenel Moise leave office. I’ll go into more background below, but here’s some current information. Since there is so little information available, Haiti Action Committee is working to Make Haiti Visible. Please forward this information to others that might be interested.

For ongoing updates:  @HaitiAction1   •   @haitiinfoproj   •   Facebook - Haiti Action Committee   •   www.haitisolidarity.net  

To be added to our mailing list: send an email to action.haiti@gmail.com

Please listen to this report on KPFA’s Flashpoints on Wed. 6/12:

Here’s an article about the Lasalin massacre from the latest edition of Haiti Action’s newsletter, Haiti Solidarity:

Here are reports on Real News Network featuring Margaret Prescod of KPFK in Los Angeles about the 11/13 massacre:
Special Report: Massacres in Haiti – Pacifica’s Margaret Prescod 
The Real News | April 14, 2019

Special Report: Haitian Resistance is Rising; US Complicity in Atrocities 
The Real News | April 16, 2019

Background: Haiti is unique in that it is the only nation in the world that grew out of a rebellion of enslaved people into a free society, entirely through the efforts of the enslaved, and Haitians are still paying the price. After winning independence by defeating Napoleon’s army in 1804, no country involved in the slave trade recognized Haiti, leading to diplomatic isolation. In 1826, French troops sailed into the Port-au-Prince harbor and demanded 100,000,000 gold francs for reparations to French land owners who lost their land, or they would bomb the city into rubble with cannon, in exchange for recognition. Haiti closed their new schools and paid off this “debt” until 1947!!!, contributing to the industrialization of France and the impoverishment of Haiti. 

To maintain domination, US marines occupied Haiti from 1915-1934, leaving in place a brutal army used to suppress and control a rebellious population. This set the stage for more than 30 years of the Duvalier father and son dictatorships and their tonton macoutes death squads, finally forced from power by a mass movement in 1986. One of the key leaders in this movement was a theology of liberation priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whom Haitians overwhelmingly elected as president in 1990 in the first free and fair elections in Haiti’s history. He was overthrown in a coup in 1991 after saying at the United Nations that Haitians are tired of sitting under the table, they want a seat AT the table. He was returned to power in 2004, and I went on my first trip to Haiti a few weeks later. I witnessed the streets filled with graffiti supporting him and spoke with many people about his program. The love that people felt for this man was palpable. They had 2 main demands - that he be allowed to serve 5 full years - adding to his term the years he lived in forced exile, and that the death squads be disarmed. Neither happened. In his final acts as president, Aristide opened relations with Cuba and disbanded the hated Haitian army.

He was again elected in 2000, and again overthrown by a coup on 2/28/2004. In the years he and his Lavalas (which translates as “flood”) movement were in power, they built more schools than had been built in Haiti’s history, also providing textbooks and lunches. They built hospitals, health care centers, housing, and parks. They did their best to resist the demands of international capital and Haiti’s elites, as Aristide documented in his book The Eyes of the Heart, only to have their dreams crushed

The 2004 coup began as an invasion through the border with the Dominican Republic of paramilitary troops composed of former members of the army, the tonton machetes, and the FRAPH death squads formed after the 1991coup. They were armed with weapons and SUVs from the US military. They swept into small towns, murdering Lavalas leaders and police officers. They were unsuccessful in capturing Port-au-Prince, however, so on 2/28/2004, US military forces kidnapped Aristide and his family, flew them to the Central African Republic, and initiated a reign of terror overseen by an imposed caretaker government. A United Nations occupation began the day before the coup, that continues to this day.

I took my second trip to Haiti 6 weeks after the coup and interviewed refugee after refugee from these attacks. One man pulled out a photo of his entire family that had been hacked to death with machetes on the man’s kitchen floor. The UN sponsored elections in 2006 and 2011 in which the Fanmi Lavalas Party was denied participation. In 2011, Hillary Clinton flew into Port-au-Prince at the height of the Arab Spring rebellion in Egypt to demand that a coup supporter, Michel Martelly, be moved from 3rd to 2nd in the first round presidential vote, and Martelly was ultimately “elected” in a completely fraudulent process. In 2016, Fanmi Lavalas was allowed to participate in elections, but election corruption and massive voter suppression led to the “selection” of a man named Jovenel Moise, who at the time had something like 17 bank accounts and 47 vehicles registered in his name and no government experience at all. From the day of this fraudulent process to the present, Haitians have been in the streets protesting, and the repression grows more and more horrific. 

During the Hugo Chavez years as president, Venezuela began a project called Petrocaribe to promote development in countries supportive of Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution. Venezuela sold Haiti petroleum at a subsidized rate, and Haiti was supposed to sell the gas at market rate and use the profit to develop the country. Instead the money has completely disappeared - as much as $4.8 BILLION!, while some teachers and government workers haven't been paid for months, or years, and public services, like garbage pick-up, rarely occur. That is why Haitians continue to risk arrest and even death, every time they go into the streets, but the keep demonstrating - demanding return of the stolen money and restoration of their stolen democracy.

While the Haitian people have been made and kept poor, it has been discovered that Haiti is a rich country with many mineral resources, including gold, bauxite, and iridium. The Lavalas and people’s movement wants to use these resources to support a decent life for the majority of Haitians, but international capital and Haiti’s elites want them for themselves. 

Haitians may be the bravest and most politically aware population in the world. They know their history, and they still fight for the land and freedom they have sought ever since they defeated Napoleon. They offer an inspiring example to all of us.

Thanks for reading,




On Abortion: From Facebook

Best explanation I've heard so far..., Copied from a friend who copied from a friend who copied..., "Last night, I was in a debate about these new abortion laws being passed in red states. My son stepped in with this comment which was a show stopper. One of the best explanations I have read:, , 'Reasonable people can disagree about when a zygote becomes a "human life" - that's a philosophical question. However, regardless of whether or not one believes a fetus is ethically equivalent to an adult, it doesn't obligate a mother to sacrifice her body autonomy for another, innocent or not., , Body autonomy is a critical component of the right to privacy protected by the Constitution, as decided in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), McFall v. Shimp (1978), and of course Roe v. Wade (1973). Consider a scenario where you are a perfect bone marrow match for a child with severe aplastic anemia; no other person on earth is a close enough match to save the child's life, and the child will certainly die without a bone marrow transplant from you. If you decided that you did not want to donate your marrow to save the child, for whatever reason, the state cannot demand the use of any part of your body for something to which you do not consent. It doesn't matter if the procedure required to complete the donation is trivial, or if the rationale for refusing is flimsy and arbitrary, or if the procedure is the only hope the child has to survive, or if the child is a genius or a saint or anything else - the decision to donate must be voluntary to be constitutional. This right is even extended to a person's body after they die; if they did not voluntarily commit to donate their organs while alive, their organs cannot be harvested after death, regardless of how useless those organs are to the deceased or how many lives they would save., , That's the law., , Use of a woman's uterus to save a life is no different from use of her bone marrow to save a life - it must be offered voluntarily. By all means, profess your belief that providing one's uterus to save the child is morally just, and refusing is morally wrong. That is a defensible philosophical position, regardless of who agrees and who disagrees. But legally, it must be the woman's choice to carry out the pregnancy., , She may choose to carry the baby to term. She may choose not to. Either decision could be made for all the right reasons, all the wrong reasons, or anything in between. But it must be her choice, and protecting the right of body autonomy means the law is on her side. Supporting that precedent is what being pro-choice means.", , Feel free to copy/paste and re-post., y
Sent from my iPhone



Celebrating the release of Janet and Janine Africa
Take action now to support Jalil A. Muntaqim's release

Jalil A. Muntaqim was a member of the Black Panther Party and has been a political prisoner for 48 years since he was arrested at the age of 19 in 1971. He has been denied parole 11 times since he was first eligible in 2002, and is now scheduled for his 12th parole hearing. Additionally, Jalil has filed to have his sentence commuted to time served by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Visit Jalil's support page, check out his writing and poetry, and Join Critical Resistance in supporting a vibrant intergenerational movement of freedom fighters in demanding his release.

48 years is enough. Write, email, call, and tweet at Governor Cuomo in support of Jalil's commutation and sign this petition demanding his release.

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of the State of New York
Executive Chamber State Capital Building
Albany, New York 12224

Michelle Alexander – Author, The New Jim Crow
Ed Asner - Actor and Activist
Charles Barron - New York Assemblyman, 60th District
Inez Barron - Counci member, 42nd District, New York City Council
Rosa Clemente - Scholar Activist and 2008 Green Party Vice-Presidential candidate
Patrisse Cullors – Co-Founder Black Lives Matter, Author, Activist
Elena Cohen - President, National Lawyers Guild
"Davey D" Cook - KPFA Hard Knock Radio
Angela Davis - Professor Emerita, University of California, Santa Cruz
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - Native American historian, writer and feminist
Mike Farrell - Actor and activist
Danny Glover – Actor and activist
Linda Gordon - New York University
Marc Lamont Hill - Temple University
Jamal Joseph - Columbia University
Robin D.G. Kelley - University of California, Los Angeles
Tom Morello - Rage Against the Machine
Imani Perry - Princeton University
Barbara Ransby - University of Illinois, Chicago
Boots Riley - Musician, Filmmaker
Walter Riley - Civil rights attorney
Dylan Rodriguez - University of California, Riverside, President American Studies Association
Maggie Siff, Actor
Heather Ann Thompson - University of Michigan
Cornel West - Harvard University
Institutional affiliations listed for identification purposes only
Call: 1-518-474-8390

Email Gov. Cuomo with this form

Tweet at @NYGovCuomo
Any advocacy or communications to Gov. Cuomo must refer to Jalil as:
Sullivan Correctional Facility,
P.O. Box 116,
Fallsburg, New York 12733-0116



Painting by Kevin Cooper, an innocent man on San Quentin's death row. www.freekevincooper.org

Decarcerate Louisiana

Declaration of Undersigned Prisoners 
We, the undersigned persons, committed to the care and custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections (LDOC), hereby submit the following declaration and petition bearing witness to inhumane conditions of solitary confinement in the N-1 building at the David Wade Corrections Center (DWCC). 
Our Complaint:
We, the Undersigned Persons, declare under penalty of perjury: 
1.    We, the undersigned, are currently housed in the N-1 building at DWCC, 670 Bell Hill Road, Homer, LA 71040. 
2.    We are aware that the Constitution, under the 8th Amendment, bans cruel and unusual punishments; the Amendment also imposes duties on prison officials who must provide humane conditions of confinement and ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and must take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates. 
3.    We are aware that Louisiana prison officials have sworn by LSA-R.S.15:828 to provide humane treatment and rehabilitation to persons committed to its care and to direct efforts to return every person in its custody to the community as promptly as practicable. 
4.    We are confined in a double-bunked six-by-nine foot or 54 square feet cell with another human being 22-hours-a-day and are compelled to endure the degrading experience of being in close proximity of another human being while defecating. 
5.    There are no educational or rehabilitation programs for the majority of prisoners confined in the N-1 building except for a selected few inmates who are soon to be released. 
6.    We get one hour and 30 minutes on the yard and/or gym seven days a week. Each day we walk to the kitchen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which takes about one minute to get there. We are given ten minutes to eat. 
7.    The daily planner for inmates confined in the N-1 building is to provide inmates one hour and 30 minutes on yard or gym; escort inmates to kitchen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to sit and eat for approximately ten minutes each meal; provide a ten minute shower for each cell every day; provide one ten minute phone call per week; confine prisoners in cell 22-hours-a-day. 
8.    When we are taking a shower we are threatened by guards with disciplinary reports if we are not out on time. A typical order is: "if you are not out of shower in ten minutes pack your shit and I'm sending you back to N-2, N-3, or N-4"—a more punitive form of solitary confinement. 
9.    When walking outside to yard, gym or kitchen, guards order us to put our hands behind our back or they'll write us up and send us back to N-2, N-3, N-4. 
10.  When we are sitting at the table eating, guards order us not to talk or they'll write us up and send us back to N-2, N-3, N-4. ) 
11.  Guards are harassing us every day and are threatening to write up disciplinary reports and send us back to a more punitive cellblock (N-2, N-3, N-4) if we question any arbitrary use of authority or even voice an opinion in opposition to the status quo. Also, guards take away good time credits, phone, TV, radio, canteen, and contact visits for talking too loud or not having hands behind back or for any reason they want. We are also threatened with slave labor discipline including isolation (removing mattress from cell from 5:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M.,) strip cell (removing mattress and bedding and stationery from cell for ten to 30 days or longer), food loaf  (taking one's meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and mixing it all together into one big mass, bake it in oven and serve it to prisoners for punishment.)
12.  When prison guards write up disciplinary reports and transfer us to the more punitive restrictive solitary confinement in N-2, N-3, N-4 or N-5, guards then enforce an arbitrary rule that gives prisoners the ultimatum of sending all their books and personal property home or let the prison dispose of it. 
13.  Louisiana prison officials charge indigent prisoners (who earn less than four cents an hour) $3.00 for routine requests for healthcare services, $6.00 for emergency medical requests, and $2.00 for each new medical prescription. They wait until our family and friends send us money and take it to pay prisoners' medical bills. 
Our concerns:
14.  How much public monies are appropriated to the LDOC budget and specifically allotted to provide humane treatment and implement the rehabilitation program pursuant to LSA- R.S.15:828? 
15.  Why does Elayn Hunt Correctional Center located in the capitol of Louisiana have so many educational and rehabilitation programs teaching prisoners job and life skills for reentry whereas there are no such programs to engage the majority of prisoners confined in the N-1, N- 2, N-3, and N-4 solitary confinement buildings at DWCC. 
16.  It is customary for Louisiana prison officials and DWCC prison guards to tell inmates confined in the prison's cellblocks to wait until transfer to prison dormitory to participate in programs when in fact there are no such programs available and ready to engage the majority of the state's 34,000 prisoner population. The programs are especially needed for prisoners confined in a six-by-nine foot or 54 square feet cell with another person for 22-or-more-hours-per-day. 
17.  Why can't prisoners use phone and computers every day to communicate with family and peers as part of rehabilitation and staying connected to the community? 
18.  Why do prisoners have to be transferred miles and miles away from loved ones to remote correctional facilities when there are facilities closer to loved ones? 
19.  Why are prison guards allowed to treat prisoners as chattel slaves, confined in cages 22-or-more-hours-per-day, take away phone calls and visitation and canteen at will, and take away earned good time credits for any reason at all without input from family, one's peers and community? 
20.  Why do the outside communities allow prison guards to create hostile living environments and conditions of confinement that leaves prisoners in a state of chattel slavery, stress, anxiety, anger, rage, inner torment, despair, worry, and in a worse condition from when we first entered the prison? 
21.  Why do state governments and/or peers in the community allow racist or bigoted white families who reside in the rural and country parts of Louisiana to run the state's corrections system with impunity? For example, DWCC Warden Jerry Goodwin institutes racist and bigoted corrections policies and practices for the very purpose of oppression, repression, antagonizing and dehumanizing the inmates who will one day be released from prison. 
22.  David Wade Correctional Center Colonel Lonnie Nail, a bigot and a racist, takes his orders from Warden Jerry Goodwin, another racist and bigot. Both Goodwin and Nail influences subordinate corrections officers to act toward prisoners in a racist or bigoted manner and with an arrogant attitude. This creates a hostile living environment and debilitating conditions of confinement for both guards and prisoners and prevents rehabilitation of inmates.
23.  In other industrialized democracies like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, et al, it is reported that no prisoner should be declared beyond reform or redemption without first attempting to rehabilitate them. Punitive or harsh conditions of confinement are not supported because they see the loss of freedom inherent in a prison sentence as punishment enough. One Netherlands official reported that their motto is to start with the idea of "Reintegration back into society on day one" when people are locked up. "You can't make an honest argument that how someone is treated while incarcerated doesn't affect how they behave when they get out," the official added. 
24.  Additionally, some Scandinavian countries have adopted open prison programs without fences or armed guards. Prisoners who prove by their conduct that they can be trusted are placed in a prison resembling a college campus more than a prison. The result is a 20 percent recidivism rate, compared to a 67 percent rate in the United States. 
25.  The National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) in a position statement says: "Prolonged (greater than 15 consecutive days) solitary confinement is cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and harmful to an individual's health."
 What We Believe: 
26.  We believe that when the greater portion of public monies goes to war and the military, this leaves little funds left for community reinvestment and human development.The people have less access to resources by which to get a better idea of human behavior and rely on higher education instead of prison to solve cultural, social, political, economic problems in the system that may put people at risk to domestic violence and crime as a way to survive and cope with shortcomings in the system. 
27.  We believe that investing public monies in the rehabilitation program LSA-R.S.15:828 to teach prisoners job and life skills will redeem inmates, instill morals, and make incarcerated people productive and fit for society. 
28.  We believe that confining inmates in cellblocks 15-or-more=hours-per-day is immoral, uncivilized, brutalizing, a waste of time and counter-productive to rehabilitation and society's goals of "promoting the general welfare" and "providing a more perfect union with justice for all." 
29.  We believe that corrections officers who prove by their actions that incarcerated people are nothing more than chattel slaves are bucking the laws and creating hardening criminals and these corrections officers are, therefore, a menace to society. 
Our Demands:
30.  We are demanding a public conversation from community activists and civil rights leaders about (1) the historic relationship between chattel slavery, the retaliatory assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and the resurrection of slavery written into the 13th Amendment; (2) the historic relationship between the 13th Amendment, the backlash against Reconstruction, Peonage, Convict Leasing, and Slavery; (3) the historic relationship between the 13th Amendment, the War Against Poverty, the War on Drugs, Criminal Justice and Prison Slavery. 
31.  We demand that the Louisiana legislature pass the Decarcerate Louisiana Anti-Slavery and Freedom Liberation Act of 2020 into law and end prison slavery and the warehousing of incarcerated people for the very purpose of repression, oppression, and using prisoners and their families and supporters as a profit center for corporate exploitation and to generate revenue to balance the budget and stimulate the state economy. 
32.  We are demanding that Warden Jerry Goodwin and Colonel Lonnie Nail step down and be replaced by people are deemed excellent public servants in good standing with human rights watchdog groups and civil rights community. 
33.  We are demanding that the LDOC provide public monies to operate state prison dormitories and cellblocks as rehabilitation centers to teach incarcerated people job and life skills five-days-a-week from 7:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. 
34.  We are demanding that the LDOC release a public statement announcing that "from this day forward it will not support punitive or harsh conditions of confinement," and that "no prisoner should be declared beyond reform or redemption without first attempting to rehabilitate them."
35.  We are demanding that the prison cellblocks be operated as open dormitories (made in part a health clinic and part college campus) so that incarcerated people can have enough space to walk around and socialize, participate in class studies, exercise, use telephone as the need arise. Prisoners are already punished by incarceration so there is no need to punish or further isolate them. Racism and abuse of power will not be tolerated. 
36.  We are demanding an end to unjust policies and practices that impose punishments and deprive incarcerated people of phone calls, visitation, canteen, good time credits, books and other personal property that pose no threat to public safety. 
37.  We are demanding that LDOC provide incarcerated people cellphones and computers to communicate with the public and stay connected to the community. 
38.  We are demanding the right to communicate with reporters to aid and assist incarcerated persons in preparing a press release to communicate to the public Decarcerate Louisiana's vision and mission statements, aims, and plans for moving forward. 
39.  We are demanding the right to participate in the U.S.-European Criminal Justice Innovation Project and share our complaint, concerns, and demands for a humane corrections program. 
40.  We are only demanding the right to enough space to create, to innovate, to excel in learning, to use scientific knowledge to improve our person and place and standing in the free world. The rule of law must support the betterment and uplifting of all humanity. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said: "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." 
41.  We demand that the responsibility for prisoner medical care be removed from DOC wardens and place it under the management of the state's health office; increase state health officer staff to better monitor prisoner healthcare and oversee vendor contracts. 
42.  We have a God-given right and responsibility to resist abuse of power from the wrongdoers, to confront unjust authority and oppression, to battle for justice until we achieve our demands for liberation and freedom. 
We, the undersigned, declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. 
Executed on this 28th Day of January 2019. 
Ronald Brooks #385964 
David Johnson #84970 
Freddie Williams #598701 
Earl Hollins #729041 
James Harris #399514 
Tyrone Carter #550354 
Kerry Carter #392013 
Ivo Richardson #317371 
Rondrikus Fulton #354313 
Kentell Simmons #601717 
Jayvonte Pines #470985 
Deandre Miles #629008 
Kenneth P. #340729 
Brandon Ceaser #421453 
Tyronne Ward #330964 
Jermaine Atkins #448421 
Charles Rodgers #320513 
Steve Givens #557854 
Timothy Alfred #502378 
—wsimg.com, January 2019



New Prison and Jail Population Figures Released by U.S. Department of Justice

By yearend 2017, the United States prison population had declined by 7.3% since reaching its peak level in 2009, according to new data released by the Department of Justice. The prison population decreases are heavily influenced by a handful of states that have reduced their populations by 30% or more in recent years. However, as of yearend 2017 more than half the states were still experiencing increases in their populations or rates of decline only in the single digits. 
Analysis of the new data by The Sentencing Project reveals that: 
  • The United States remains as the world leader in its rate of incarceration, locking up its citizens at 5-10 times the rate of other industrialized nations. At the current rate of decline it will take 75 years to cut the prison population by 50%.
  • The population serving life sentences is now at a record high. One of every seven individuals in prison – 206,000 – is serving life.
  • Six states have reduced their prison populations by at least 30% over the past two decades – Alaska, Connecticut, California, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont.  
  • The rate of women's incarceration has been rising at a faster rate than men's since the 1980s, and declines in recent years have been slower than among men.
  • Racial disparities in women's incarceration have changed dramatically since the start of the century. Black women were incarcerated at 6 times the rate of white women in 2000, while the 2017 figure is now 1.8 times that rate. These changes have been a function of both a declining number of black women in prison and a rising number of white women. For Hispanic women, the ratio has changed from 1.6 times that of white women in 2000 to 1.4 times in 2017. 
The declines in prison and jail populations reported by the Department of Justice today are encouraging, but still fall far short of what is necessary for meaningful criminal justice reform. In order to take the next step in ending mass incarceration policymakers will need to scale back excessive sentencing for all offenses, a key factor which distinguishes the U.S. from other nations. 

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[Note: China's population is 1,419,147,756* as of April 26, 2019 with 1,649,804 in prison***; while the population of the USA is 328,792,291 as of April 27, 2019** with 2,121,600 in prison.*** 



Brief Medical Update on Mumia Abu Jamal

"Like a Cheesecloth over both my eyes"

Mumia's visual impairment has rapidly progressed.

I reviewed Mumia's chart and saw the patient for a regular monthly f/u on Memorial Day 5/27/19

Mumia's suffers from multiple medical conditions including Glaucoma, (Open Angle) as well as Vitreous Detachment and Cataracts.

This in addition to Cirrhosis, Hypertension, NIDDM, (Type 2 diabetes), Hepatitis C.

The patient reports being unable to read or write anything for over 5 weeks in March and April and although reporting improvement over the last 3-4 weeks given the over all clinical context:

1. Several Severe risk factors-positive family history, NIDDM, poorly controlled hypertension, Hx of Cirrhosis, as well as the demands of his profession as a journalist (incessant reading under conditons of poor lighting) and the increased stress typical of the correctional envirionment, it is nearly certain that Mumia Abu-Jamal will progress to near- total if not total Blindness within 2-4 years.

2. Immediate release on a Medical and Compassionate basis to his community and family would be the standard of care in this situation. The has indicated an extensive social network that would assist him in his release.

3. If a question of Public Safety is posed home confinement would be an acceptable alternative.

Full report to follow.

The patient Mumia Abu-Jamal gave permission to discuss his medical case publicly.

I will seek to personally visit District Attorney this week to discuss this medical need.



Joseph Harris MD

Plea for Medical Release for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia and Dr. Harris

Dr. Joseph Harris MD Speaks on Mumia Abu-Jamal's need for medical release. Conversation with the O.G.M.D Series

"This is a people's victory"  Pam Africa.

Who would ever think that we would see this headline, in our lifetime.  This is the press release up on the Philadelphia District Attorney's website posted minutes ago.

The path to freedom is going to be hard and long, but we are on it.  When We Fight, We Win,
Noelle Hanrahan, P.I. Prison Radio

Mumia Abu-Jamal

See below: 

Statement: Philadelphia District Attorney's Office withdraws appeal in Mumia Abu-Jamal case 

Contact: Ben Waxman
PHILADELPHIA (April 17th, 2019) — Today the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office withdrew its recent appeal of an opinion granting a re-hearing of some previously decided issues in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. We withdrew the appeal because the opinion we appealed has been modified consistent with our primary concern — -that ruling's effect on many other cases.
By way of background, Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of the murder of a young police officer, Daniel Faulkner, that occurred on December 9, 1981. Even after Maureen Faulkner, the wife of the victim, chose not to continue seeking the death penalty several years ago in hopes of closure, the case has evoked polarizing rhetoric and continues to assume a symbolic importance for many that is distinct from the factual and often technical legal issues involved in the case.
The technical issue at stake here is simply whether or not some decided issues need to be re-heard by a Pennsylvania appellate court due to one former judge's having worn two hats — -the hat of an apparently impartial appellate judge deciding Abu-Jamal's case after he earlier wore the hat of a chief prosecutor in the same case. Although the issue is technical, it is also an important cautionary tale on the systemic problems that flow from a judge's failing to recuse where there is an appearance of bias.
Justice Castille did not recuse himself before deciding appeals in the Abu-Jamal case and several others, including the Williams case. In the Williams case, the United States Supreme Court decided that Castille should have recused himself because of the role he took as a chief prosecutor in Mr. Williams's matter. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered that Mr. Williams's appeal be re-heard by the Pennsylvania appeals judges, without the taint of Castille's participation.
A similar question of Castille's role exists in the Abu-Jamal case. In order to help resolve it, our Office exhaustively searched hundreds of file boxes in relation to the Mumia Abu-Jamal matter, including six previously undisclosed boxes (now turned over to the defense, as required by law). While we did not find any document establishing the same level of involvement by Castille in the Abu-Jamal case as in the Williams case, we did find (and turned over) a June, 1990 letter from then-District Attorney Castille to then-Governor Robert Casey, urging that the Governor issue death warrants, especially in cases involving people who have killed police, in order to "send a clear and dramatic message to all police killers that the death penalty actually means something." Although the letter does not mention Mr. Abu-Jamal or his case by name, at the time Justice Castille wrote to Governor Casey, there were only three cases involving people who had been convicted of killing police that were pending. One was Mr. Abu-Jamal's.
In the end, the trial-level judge considering this issue wrote an opinion that agreed with us that these indications of strong feelings on the part of Justice Castille did not rise to the level of the direct and active involvement Justice Castille took in the Williams case but went further, deciding there should be a re-hearing of Abu-Jamal's decided issues anyway, based on more general principles of judges needing to recuse to avoid the appearance of bias.
We appealed, making it extremely clear in our court papers that our primary concern was with the overly broad language of the opinion and its potentially devastating effect on hundreds of long settled cases, decades after their cases were resolved, including its hurtful effect on victims and survivors. We highlighted our concern with the overly broad language of that opinion in five specific respects and specifically noted that we would re-consider appealing if the trial-level court issued another decision addressing the concerns we raised.
Although the judge was not required to do so, on March 27 he issued another decision that addressed the concerns we raised. The judge made clear that his opinion should not be read to mean that several hundreds of cases were disturbed — -it should be applied only to people convicted of killing police officers whose cases were in the District Attorney's Office while Castille was District Attorney (the category of cases Castille highlighted in his June 1990 letter to Casey). Given that the trial-level court has now addressed the concerns that led us to appeal in the first place, we have withdrawn the appeal.
Our decision to withdraw the appeal does not mean Mr. Abu-Jamal will be freed or get a new trial. It means that he will have the appeals that Justice Castille participated in deciding reconsidered by a new group of appellate court judges, untainted by former Chief Justice Castille participating in their decision. The trial-level judge has ordered the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office and the defense to re-submit the legal briefs done in the past (which were written under prior administrations), effectively setting the clock back to where it was in the past.
The result will be that long-settled convictions in other cases will not be disturbed and that decisions made by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on the legal issues raised decades ago in the Abu-Jamal matter will no longer be tainted by the appearance of bias.  ===========end press release====================
Cuando luchamos, ganamos. When We fight, we win. 

Noelle Hanrahan
Director, Prison Radio
To give by check: 
PO Box 411074
San Francisco, CA

Stock or legacy gifts:
Noelle Hanrahan



Courage to Resist
daniel hale drone activist
Drone vet turned activist facing 50 years for whistle-blowing
Daniel Hale, an Air Force veteran and former US intelligence analyst was arrested May 9th and charged with violating the Espionage Act. Daniel is a well-known anti-drone activist who has spoken out a number of anti-war events and conferences. He's a member of About Face: Veterans Against the War, and he's featured in the documentary "National Bird." For years, Daniel has expressed concern that he'd be targeted by the government.  Learn more.
Hal Muskat
Podcast: "There were US anti-war soldiers all over the world" - Hal Muskat
"I told my command officer that I wasn't going to, I was refusing my orders [to Vietnam] … In his rage, he thought if he court-martialed me, he'd have to stay in the Army past his discharge date." While stationed in Europe, Hal Muskat refused orders to Vietnam and joined the GI Movement, resulting in two court martials. This Courage to Resist podcast was produced in collaboration with the Vietnam Full Disclosure effort of Veterans For Peace. Listen to Hal Muskat's story.

Chelsea Manning returned to jail after brief release; Faces half million dollar fine in addition to another 18 months prison
chelsea manning resists
Since our last newsletter less than two weeks ago, Chelsea Manning was freed from jail when the grand jury investigating Julian Assange and WikiLeaks expired. However, a few days later, she was sent back to jail for refusing to collaborate with a new grand jury on the same subject. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga ordered Chelsea fined $500 every day she is in custody after 30 days and $1,000 every day she is in custody after 60 days -- a possible total of $502,000. Statement from Chelsea's lawyers.
Stand with Reality Winner, rally in DC
chelsea manning resists
June 3, 2019 at 7pm (Monday)
Lafayette Square, Washington DC 

Please join friends and supporters as we raise awareness of the persecution of this young veteran and brave truth teller. This marks two years of imprisonment of Reality for helping to expose hacking attempts on US election systems leading up to the 2016 presidential election. For more info, visit the "Stand with Reality" pages on Twitter or FacebookOrder "Stand with Reality" shirts, banners, and buttons from Left Together protest shirts.

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


Funds for Kevin Cooper


For 34 years, an innocent man has been on death row in California. 

Kevin Cooper was wrongfully convicted of the brutal 1983 murders of the Ryen family and houseguest. The case has a long history of police and prosecutorial misconduct, evidence tampering, and numerous constitutional violations including many incidences of the prosecution withholding evidence of innocence from the defense. You can learn more here . 

In December 2018 Gov. Brown ordered  limited DNA testing and in February 2019, Gov. Newsom ordered additional DNA testing. Meanwhile, Kevin remains on Death Row at San Quentin Prison. 

The funds raised will be used to help Kevin purchase art supplies for his paintings . Additionally, being in prison is expensive, and this money would help Kevin pay for stamps, paper, toiletries, supplementary food, and/or phone calls.

Please help ease the daily struggle of an innocent man on death row!



Don't extradite Assange!

To the government of the UK
Julian Assange, through Wikileaks, has done the world a great service in documenting American war crimes, its spying on allies and other dirty secrets of the world's most powerful regimes, organisations and corporations. This has not endeared him to the American deep state. Both Obama, Clinton and Trump have declared that arresting Julian Assange should be a priority. We have recently received confirmation [1] that he has been charged in secret so as to have him extradited to the USA as soon as he can be arrested. 
Assange's persecution, the persecution of a publisher for publishing information [2] that was truthful and clearly in the interest of the public - and which has been republished in major newspapers around the world - is a danger to freedom of the press everywhere, especially as the USA is asserting a right to arrest and try a non-American who neither is nor was then on American soil. The sentence is already clear: if not the death penalty then life in a supermax prison and ill treatment like Chelsea Manning. The very extradition of Julian Assange to the United States would at the same time mean the final death of freedom of the press in the West. 
The courageous nation of Ecuador has offered Assange political asylum within its London embassy for several years until now. However, under pressure by the USA, the new government has made it clear that they want to drive Assange out of the embassy and into the arms of the waiting police as soon as possible. They have already curtailed his internet and his visitors and turned the heating off, leaving him freezing in a desolate state for the past few months and leading to the rapid decline of his health, breaching UK obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights. Therefore, our demand both to the government of Ecuador and the government of the UK is: don't extradite Assange to the US! Guarantee his human rights, make his stay at the embassy as bearable as possible and enable him to leave the embassy towards a secure country as soon as there are guarantees not to arrest and extradite him. Furthermore, we, as EU voters, encourage European nations to take proactive steps to protect a journalist in danger. The world is still watching.
[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/16/us/politics/julian-assange-indictment-wikileaks.html
[2] https://theintercept.com/2018/11/16/as-the-obama-doj-concluded-prosecution-of-julian-assange-for-publishing-documents-poses-grave-threats-to-press-freedom/



Words of Wisdom

Louis Robinson Jr., 77
Recording secretary for Local 1714 of the United Auto Workers from 1999 to 2018, with the minutes from a meeting of his union's retirees' chapter.

"One mistake the international unions in the United States made was when Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. When he did that, the unions could have brought this country to a standstill. All they had to do was shut down the truck drivers for a month, because then people would not have been able to get the goods they needed. So that was one of the mistakes they made. They didn't come together as organized labor and say: "No. We aren't going for this. Shut the country down." That's what made them weak. They let Reagan get away with what he did. A little while after that, I read an article that said labor is losing its clout, and I noticed over the years that it did. It happened. It doesn't feel good."

[On the occasion of the shut-down of the Lordstown, Ohio GM plant March 6, 2019.]



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













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
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







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.

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.

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

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



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.

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.

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

Major Tillery Needs Your Help:

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.

    Powered by
    GoDaddy Email Marketing ®

    Free Leonard Peltier!

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



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


    1) Julian Assange's U.S. Extradition Hearing Is Set for February
    By Megan Specia, June 14, 2019

    Julian Assange after his arrest in April at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London seven years after he had sought refuge there.CreditCreditHenry Nicholls/Reuters

    LONDON — A British court on Friday set February 2020 as the date for the full extradition hearing on whether Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, should be sent to the United States to face a slew of charges, including several under the Espionage Act.
    Mr. Assange, 47, appeared by video link from Belmarsh Prison on the outskirts of London for his first hearing since the United States formally requested his extradition. He had skipped a previous hearing because, his lawyer said, he was too ill to appear. Some experts, including a United Nations official, said he had exhibited signs of a deteriorating physical and mental condition.
    Mr. Assange's hearing came days after Britain's home secretary, Sajid Javid, signed the extradition request from the United States and expressed his support for Mr. Assange's detention.
    "He's rightly behind bars," Mr. Javid told BBC's Radio 4.

    Protesters holding signs that read "Hands off Assange" outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London on Friday denounced Mr. Javid's decision and demanded Mr. Assange's release. If the court rules in the United States' favor, the extradition process is expected to be a long and complicated one.

    Prosecutors from the United States had initially charged Mr. Assange with a single count of computer hacking, and said he had conspired with the former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack into a Pentagon computer network, a crime punishable by up to five years in an American prison.
    But in May, prosecutors added 17 charges to the list, including violating the Espionage Act, a move that has raised profound First Amendment issues. Most of the new charges were related to obtaining the secret document archives as opposed to publishing them, Justice Department officials said. But some worry it could set a precedent to criminalize future acts of national-security journalism.
    The charges stem from Mr. Assange's purported involvement in a 2010 leak of hundreds of thousands of classified documents, mostly related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that proved damaging and embarrassing for the United States and its allies.

    In a brief court appearance on Friday, Mr. Assange, wearing glasses and a gray T-shirt, denied cracking a Pentagon network password as prosecutors read out the accusations against him, according to Reuters.

    "It is important that people aren't fooled into believing that WikiLeaks is anything but a publisher," Mr. Assange told the court. "The U.S. government has tried to mislead the press."
    Mr. Assange is serving a 50-week sentence for jumping bail in Britain and is still appealing that sentence. He was removed from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in April and promptly arrested, seven years after first seeking refuge there to avoid extradition in a Swedish investigation into allegations made in 2010 by a woman who said Mr. Assange had sexually assaulted her.
    Last month, Sweden announced it would be reopening the investigation into allegations of rape. A Swedish court has ruled that Mr. Assange should not be extradited to Sweden for the investigation, though he would still be questioned in the case while he is imprisoned in Britain.
    That decision removed the potential for dueling extradition requests from the United States and Sweden, at least for now.
    Outside the courtroom on Friday, Jennifer Robinson, a lawyer for Mr. Assange, said her client was being held in the hospital's health care ward and "continues to suffer the permanent and difficult adverse health impacts" of his long-term stay in the Ecuadorean Embassy, and now in prison.
    "He's under a huge amount of pressure, and we are very concerned about him," she told reporters.
    Last month, a United Nations expert on torture said that an examination of Mr. Assange showed an alarming deterioration in his mental and physical state, and that he was suffering from psychological torture as a result of the cases brought by Britain, Sweden and the United States.
    The United Nations special rapporteur on torture and ill treatment, Nils Melzer, said in an interview that Mr. Assange was "extremely jumpy and stressed."

    Nick Cumming-Bruce contributed reporting from Geneva.


    2) When We Kill
    Everything you think you know about the death penalty is wrong.
    By Nicholas Kristof, June 14, 2019

    Max Guther

    “I hereby sentence you to death.”
    The words of Judge Clifford B. Shepard filled the courtroom in Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 27, 1976. Shepard was sentencing Clifford Williams Jr., whom a jury had just found guilty of entering a woman’s house with a spare key entrusted to him and then shooting her dead from the foot of her bed.
    It was a bizarre verdict, for forensics showed that the shots had been fired from outside the house — through the window, breaking the glass and piercing curtains and a screen. Moreover, at the time of the shooting Williams had been attending a birthday party, an alibi confirmed by many in attendance.
    That didn’t matter, for Williams was an indigent black man with a public defender who didn’t call a single witness. The jury didn’t realize that he had an alibi or that the bullets had come from outside the house.
    Judge Shepard, who was sometimes mocked in the legal community for harsh rulings and a weak intellect, ordered that “you be put to death in the electric chair by having electrical current passed through your body in such amount and frequency until you are rendered dead.”
    The sentence came just three months after the Supreme Court had restored the death penalty in the United States, in the case of Gregg v. Georgia, saying that new safeguards meant that capital punishment would be applied only to the worst of the worst. “No longer can a jury wantonly and freakishly impose the death sentence,” Justice Potter Stewart declared in the majority opinion.

    Fast forward four decades. Williams, now 76, was freed in March along with his co-defendant and nephew, Hubert Nathan Myers; as they emerged from prison, two frail and elderly men, Myers knelt and kissed the ground. They had each spent 42 years in prison for a murder they did not commit — spanning the entire period of the modern death penalty and its supposed safeguards.

    Williams survived because the Florida Supreme Court had overturned his death sentence by a single vote, in a 4-to-3 decision, back in 1980, effectively giving him life in prison instead. Then in 2016 Jacksonville elected a reformist prosecutor who reviewed this old case and concluded, “There is no credible evidence of guilt, and likewise there is substantial credible evidence to find these men are innocent.” A judge, noting that she had been only 3 years old at the time of the convictions, finally released the men from a justice system that had treated them wantonly and freakishly.

    President Trump is now calling for expanding the death penalty so it would apply to drug dealers and those who kill police officers, with an expedited trial and quick execution. A majority of Americans (56 percent, according to Gallup) favor capital punishment, believing that it will deter offenders or save money and presuming that it will apply only to the vilest criminals and that mistakes are not a serious risk.
    All these assumptions are wrong.
    My interest in the death penalty arises partly from a mistake of my own. At the beginning of 2000, I spoke to Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project, who told me about a white man on death row in Texas, Cameron Todd Willingham, whom he believed to be innocent. I discussed with editors the possibility of doing a deep dive into the case but let myself be lured away by the sirens of that year’s Iowa caucuses instead. I never wrote about Willingham, and he was executed in 2004.
    Subsequent evidence strongly suggests that not only was Willingham innocent but that no crime was even committed. He had been convicted of splashing gasoline around his house and then setting it on fire to murder his three little children. But experts later showed that there was no gasoline and that the fire was simply an accident that probably started with faulty wiring.
    Imagine what it would be like to lose the people you loved most, then be convicted of murdering them and finally be strapped to a gurney and executed by lethal injection. A powerful new movie, “Trial by Fire,” with Laura Dern, tells the story of the Willingham case, and I hope it will prick the national conscience.

    A photo of Cameron Todd Willingham when he was on death row.CreditMichael Stravato

    Partly because I failed to investigate Willingham’s story, I have thrown myself into the case of Kevin Cooper, a black man on death row in California whose case reeks of prosecutorial misconduct. Cooper was convicted of the 1983 home invasion and murder of four white people in Chino Hills, Calif. After an extensive investigation, I argued last year that the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department may have framed Cooper.

    Republican and Democratic politicians alike — including the state’s former attorney general Kamala Harris, now running for president — refused for years to allow advanced DNA testing in Cooper’s case, even though his lawyers would have paid for it. (Harris has apologized and says she now favors testing.) This summer crucial evidence from Cooper’s case is finally being subjected to that testing, 36 years after the murders. We may know the results by September.
    DNA testing accounts for many of the 165 exonerations and prison releases because of dubious evidence since 1973, by the count of the Death Penalty Information Center.
    Usually, though, there isn’t DNA available that can be tested to determine guilt or innocence. As in the Clifford Williams case, it’s more murky. The crucial evidence in his conviction came from an eyewitness who may have been a pathological liar.
    But let’s be clear: The great majority of people executed are guilty. They have frequently killed with the utmost savagery.
    Scotty Morrow, a black man from Georgia, indisputably committed a brutal murder in 1994. He fought with his ex-girlfriend, Barbara Ann Young, and, as her 5-year-old son watched, shot her in the head and killed her.
    Morrow also shot dead another woman in the house, Tonya Woods, and shot a third woman, LaToya Horne, in the face. Horne was able to stagger down the road before collapsing. She suffered permanent injuries.
    Not surprisingly, Morrow was sentenced to die — but let me throw in a bit of complexity.
    Morrow grew up in a violent home where he was raped and beaten as a child, and he never received mental health support to deal with his trauma; that justifies nothing but may help explain something. He desperately wanted to reconcile with Young, and when told that she had been exploiting him for money while she waited for her “real man” to return from prison, he “just snapped,” as he put it. After the murders, he prepared to commit suicide but was arrested; he then prayed daily for 25 years for the families of the women he had killed.
    “Rarely in my career as a prosecutor and a judge did I witness this level of remorse and acceptance of responsibility,” reflected Judge Wendy Shoob, one of the judges who dealt with Morrow’s appeals over two decades. The only disciplinary report against him in a quarter-century in prison was for intervening in a fight to protect an inmate who was being stabbed with a shank. Several correctional officers wrote letters appealing that his life be spared.
    “Scotty Morrow is literally the only inmate I would do this for,” said a correctional officer with 16 years in law enforcement, Nathan Adkerson. Sgt. Tajuana Burns described him as “just a really nice man.” Lindsey Veal Jr., a mental health counselor, said Morrow “actually makes the prison safer,” and added: “There are very few inmates I can call fully rehabilitated. But, without question, Scotty is one of them.”
    William L. Buchanan, a psychologist who worked with Morrow, recalled that one correctional officer “looked me straight in the eyes and stated to me, ‘This is the best man in the world.’”
    Yet in the end the State of Georgia did with meticulous planning what Morrow had done impulsively in a spasm of fury. It executed him last month by lethal injection. In his last moments in the execution chamber, Morrow apologized again to the families of the women he had killed, adding to the 20 witnesses: “I’m truly sorry for all that happened. I hope that you all recover and have healing.”
    Was the man strapped down on a gurney truly the same person as the enraged brute who had shot dead Young and Woods 25 years earlier?
    The death penalty has been applied to at least 222 crimes in the Anglo-American legal system, including marrying a Jew and stealing a rabbit. For a time in America, stealing grapes was punishable by death. So was witchcraft, as we know from the Salem trials.
    For centuries executions were public affairs. The last public execution in the United States was in August 1936 in Owensboro, Ky. Perhaps 20,000 people gathered to see a black man, Rainey Bethea, 22, hanged for the rape and murder of a white woman. The carnival atmosphere and “hanging parties” led Kentucky to ban public executions, although public lynchings continued.

    The argument for public punishment was that it deters crime, and even today a common argument in favor of executions is that through deterrence they save the lives of innocent people. Is that true?
    One 2003 study purported to find that each execution deterred five murders, while opponents of the death penalty sometimes argue the opposite, that executions brutalize society and lead to additional murders. Statisticians and criminologists have studied this issue carefully for decades, and the general conclusion is that executions have no greater deterrent effect than long prison sentences.
    Murder rates are actually lower in states without the death penalty than in those with it. Some jurisdictions have periodically banned the death penalty and then brought it back, and this back-and-forth seems to have zero impact on homicide rates. Scholars have also examined whether there is a decline in homicides after well-publicized death verdicts or executions; there is not.
    One rigorous 2012 study published by the American Economic Review found no clear deterrent effect and noted that depending on the statistical model used, one could conclude that each execution saves 21 lives or causes an additional 63 murders. Note also that a 2008 poll of leading criminologists found that only 5 percent believed that capital punishment was an effective deterrent; 88 percent believed the opposite.
    Meanwhile, the experts polled in that survey agreed that death penalty debates distract legislatures from policies that actually would reduce crime — like lead removal, early childhood programs, career academies, job training, gang violence initiatives like Cure Violence, and programs for at-risk young people like Becoming a Man.
    Let’s also examine another argument of death penalty proponents: that it’s not worth spending hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting brutal killers for the rest of their lives: Execute them and use the savings for better purposes!
    This argument, too, is groundless: Capital punishment is far more expensive than life prison terms. This is because pretrial preparations, jury selection and appeals are all more expensive in capital cases, and death row confinement is more costly than incarceration for the general prison population. One 2017 study by several criminologists found that on average, each death sentence costs taxpayers $700,000 more than life imprisonment.
    “It is a simple fact that seeking the death penalty is more expensive,” concluded that inquiry, by Peter A. Collins of Seattle University and colleagues. “There is not one credible study, to our knowledge, that presents evidence to the contrary.”
    One reason death penalty cases are expensive is that the defense is given more time and resources to prepare the case, and appeals are automatic. So you would think that innocent people are less likely to be put to death than to serve life sentences.
    That may be true. Defense lawyers grimly joke that if you’re falsely convicted of a crime, it’s best to be sentenced to death — because then at least you will get pro bono lawyers and media scrutiny that may increase the prospect of exoneration. Researchers find that an exoneration is 130 times more likely for a death sentence than for other sentences.
    Yet if death penalties get unusual scrutiny, there are countervailing forces. Researchers find that juries are more likely to recommend the death penalty for defendants who are perceived as showing a lack of remorse — and innocent people don’t display remorse. A second factor is that death sentences are often sought after particularly brutal crimes that create great pressure on the police to find the culprits.
    In 1989, for example, after five black teenagers in New York City were arrested in the rape and beating of a white investment banker who became known as the Central Park Jogger, Donald Trump bought full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty. The teenagers were later exonerated when DNA evidence and a confession by another man showed that they were innocent of that crime.

    One peer-reviewed study suggested that at least 4.1 percent of those sentenced to death in the United States are innocent. With more than 2,700 Americans on death row, that would imply that more than 110 innocent people are awaiting execution.

    The Supreme Court in 1976 restored the death penalty partly because it was confident that safeguards — such as meticulous rules about when death penalties could be applied — would eliminate the arbitrary application of capital punishment. In fact, “its defining feature is still its arbitrariness,” noted Jill Benton, an Atlanta lawyer who defends capital punishment cases.
    Racial bias affects every aspect of the criminal justice system, and researchers have found that black defendants not only do worse than white defendants, but also that blacks with dark complexions fare worse than those with light ones. Of prisoners now on death row, 42 percent are black, 42 percent are white, and most of the remainder are Hispanic.
    Bias is not just found in judges and prosecutors. In Washington State, researchers found that juries were four times as likely to recommend a death sentence for a black defendant as for a similar white defendant. The same study also underscored how random capital punishment is. In Thurston County in Washington, prosecutors sought the death penalty in 67 percent of aggravated murder cases; in Okanogan County, 130 miles away, zero percent. Over all in America, 2 percent of counties account for a majority of death penalty cases.
    Researchers have found that whether Texas prosecutors seek the death penalty depends partly on how The Houston Chronicle covers the case. They have also found that if a jury has a majority of women, it is less likely to recommend death.
    Justice is supposed to be blind. But it is not supposed to be random.
    Aside from deterring murders and saving money, a third common argument for the death penalty is that it is appropriate retribution for a heinous crime, a way for a community to rise up and express its revulsion for some brutal act. We dishonor victims, so the argument goes, if we simply lock away a monster.
    This is an argument that cannot be countered with data, for it rests on values. It has to be said, though, that the history of executions as an expression of a community’s moral values is not an inspiring one. Such values-based arguments have been made through history for stoning adulterers and burning witches — and, in Japan in the 1600s, boiling Christians alive.
    Just this spring, the small Southeast Asian sultanate of Brunei defended the stoning to death of gays, adulterers and heretics as an expression of community values intended “to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals.”
    Strom Thurmond, the South Carolina senator who was the longest-serving Republican in congressional history, used to boast that as a judge in the 1930s and 1940s, he had sentenced four men to death; he saw capital punishment as reflecting community values and had no regrets, for the men got what they deserved.
    A South Carolina lawyer, David Bruck, looked into those four death sentences. Three involved black men: one who was deranged from syphilis, one who was accused of rape by a white woman but had many alibi witnesses and may have been innocent, and one who in self-defense shot an armed white man who attacked him. The fourth was a white man who, in a rage, killed his girlfriend.
    At the time, it may have seemed to Thurmond and the white community self-evident that these four executions were righteous. Today the first three seem hideous examples of racist injustice. Our standards and perspectives have changed — but what is unique about the death penalty is that a person can never be un-executed.
    Today the Supreme Court is caught in a bitter feud over the death penalty, with a conservative majority approving executions and fretting about “unjustified delay” in carrying them out, as Justice Neil M. Gorsuch put it in April. In her dissent in that case, Justice Sonia Sotomayor argued, “There are higher values than ensuring that executions run on time.”
    The result of this division is that the court is unlikely to constrain executions significantly. Yet there is some recognition that the system is faulty, and capital punishment is becoming more rare. In 1998, there were 295 death sentences in this country; in 2018, just 42. In California, which has the largest death row, Gov. Gavin Newsom has bravely declared a moratorium on executions.
    The case of Kenneth Reams, a man on death row in Arkansas, encapsulates the cruelty and absurdity of this system. It “shows clearly all the problems with a democratic society using the death penalty,” said George H. Kendall, a lawyer who is helping Reams challenge his sentence. 
    Reams was a black kid born to an impoverished 15-year-old mom. He had a turbulent childhood, running away from home at 13 and dabbling in juvenile crime. Then at 18 he helped a friend who needed money to pay for his graduation cap and gown: They robbed a white man named Gary Turner at an A.T.M., and the friend shot and killed Turner.
    Reams was defended by a part-time lawyer with several hundred other cases and no capital punishment experience, and there were indications that the jury was manipulated to underrepresent African-Americans. In the end, Reams was sentenced to death.

    Last year the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned the death penalty for Reams, but he remains on death row pending new hearings and a new sentence. Even if you believe it is appropriate to execute an unarmed robber because his partner shot someone, even if you’re unconcerned by a criminal’s troubled childhood, even if racial manipulation of juries doesn’t bother you, there remains the basic question of what the execution of someone like Reams would accomplish — and whether, more than a quarter-century later, that 18-year-old offender still exists to execute.
    “People change,” Kendall told me. “Kenny was a reckless, out-of-control kid who, while barely 18 at the time of the crime, had the mental maturity of a 14-year-old. His maturation had been slowed by years of horrible neglect and abuse.” Behind bars, Reams has grown into an accomplished artist who encourages other prisoners to express themselves through poetry.
    That’s something you encounter again and again: People evolve. So because of the glacial pace of “justice,” we sometimes execute a graying, kindly inmate quite different from the violent felon he once was. They may have the same DNA and fingerprints, but their hearts are not the same.
    There is no evidence that the death penalty deters. It costs hundreds of thousands of additional dollars per prisoner. It is steeped in caprice, arbitrariness and racial bias. It is fallible — and when it fails, it undermines the legitimacy of our judicial system.
    Some day, I believe, Americans will look back at today’s executions just as we now look back at witch burnings and public hangings, and they will ask, What were they thinking?
    In Jacksonville, Clifford Williams Jr. is now trying to get used to freedom after 42 years as a convicted murderer. Buddy Schulz, his lawyer, told me what happened when he visited Williams in prison and told him that he would be released.
    “He cried for the first 10 minutes,” Schulz recalled. “For the next 10 minutes, he laughed. And finally after 20 minutes, he said, ‘Mr. Buddy, I hope you don’t think me rude, but I’ve got to go to the chapel and thank God.’”
    Schulz added: “I’m personally of the opinion that the death penalty serves no purpose whatsoever, and I think it’s immoral. This is an example. The judge imposed it and but for a close decision by the Supreme Court, here would have been an innocent man who would have lost his life.”
    I reached out to Henry M. Coxe III, who four decades ago prosecuted the case against Williams and won the death sentence. I figured that he would see the issue differently, but he didn’t. In fact, he was relieved that of the five death sentences he won as a prosecutor, none were ever carried out.
    “In hindsight, I don’t think the death penalty serves a meaningful purpose,” he told me.
    Williams is now living with his daughter in Jacksonville, taking “one day at a time,” he told me. The fact that he knew he was innocent made it immeasurably harder, he said, but he added, “I was trusting God would deal with it.”
    Calm and mild-mannered, he didn’t want to talk about his decades in prison. “It wasn’t a nice time,” he explained mildly. I told him that I was surprised he didn’t sound bitter. Williams laughed. “Well, I feel a little bit bitter,” he said.
    I asked about the death penalty, and there was a long silence. I thought he hadn’t heard, so I asked again, and then I realized that he was struggling with his emotions. 
    “Too many people,” he said, suddenly sounding exhausted, “are getting the death sentence who don’t deserve it.”


    3) German Court Fines Two Gynecologists for Abortion Ad
    By Christopher F. Schuetze, June 15, 2019

    The doctors, Bettina Gaber, left, and Verena Weyer, with supporters outside the court in Berlin on Friday. They were fined a total of about $2,250.CreditCreditPaul Zinken/DPA, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    BERLIN — Two German gynecologists have been fined by a Berlin judge for promoting abortion services on their website, running afoul of a Nazi-era law that makes it a crime to advertise the procedure in detail.
    The law, known as 219a, was revised this year to allow doctors to state whether they offered abortions, but language that is considered to go beyond simply listing the service was still forbidden.
    The ruling on Friday is the first time that a fine was handed down since the law — which was largely ignored for years — was changed. Anti-abortion activists had brought the case to the public prosecutor, according to local news reports.
    Abortion is legal in Germany through the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy.
    The two physicians, Bettina Gaber and Verena Weyer, who run a joint practice in Steglitz, an upscale neighborhood in West Berlin, were fined a total of 2,000 euros, about $2,250. The public prosecutor had sought a fine of €7,500. The maximum sentence is two years in prison.

    At issue were words and phrases on the clinic’s website that included “in a protected atmosphere” “anesthesia-free” and “drug-induced.”
    The language first appeared on the clinic’s website in February 2018. Even so, the judge found, it was still in violation of the new, milder law. As of Saturday, the abortion wording — slightly tweaked and attributed directly to Dr. Gaber — remained on the website.
    The gynecologists’ defense lawyer criticized the law, at one point calling it “pure nonsense” and asking the judge to drop the case.
    But a spokeswoman for the court, Lisa Joni, said in an interview that the law was very clear and that the judge had no choice but to pass down the fine.
    “She didn’t think the case was grave, so she erred on the side of a light fine,” Ms. Joni said.
    Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the courthouse with placards with messages of support for the doctors, such as “Raise your voice!” or “My body, my choice!” according to news reports. Many gynecologists and women’s rights activists had insisted that the law be scrapped rather than revised.

    The judge, Christine Mathiak, noted that even though the law had been changed recently, the wording still went beyond simply telling patients what services the clinic provided.
    “Whether this law suits me personally and whether it makes sense is not the subject of this legal proceeding,” Judge Mathiak said.
    The fine comes as abortion rights are coming under fire in both Europe and the United States. The Norwegian Parliament passed a bill recently to restrict the country’s liberal abortion laws.
    Last month, legislators in Alabama passed a law that would outlaw almost all abortions in the state, even in the case of incest or rape, and that would punish doctors who perform the procedure. Days before, Georgia’s governor signed a law effectively banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, when doctors can usually start detecting a fetal heartbeat.
    The physicians in Berlin have one week file an appeal.


    4) Cleveland Is Paying $225,000 to a Man Who Burned the American Flag
    Gregory L. Johnson claims police officers violated his rights after his act of protest. Those rights were established 30 years ago in a Supreme Court case that bears his name.
    By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, June 14, 2019

    A Cleveland police officer took Gregory L. Johnson into custody after Mr. Johnson set an American flag on fire outside the Republican National Convention in 2016.CreditCreditJohn Minchillo via Associated Press

    After Cleveland police officers arrested Gregory L. Johnson in 2016 as he burned an American flag outside the Republican National Convention, Mr. Johnson sued the city, saying the officers had violated his First Amendment rights.
    He should know. 
    The Supreme Court had ruled decades before that flag burning was a protected form of speech. The case was Texas v. Johnson, and the defendant was the same Gregory L. Johnson. He had doused a flag with kerosene in 1984 during the Republican convention in Dallas.
    This week, three decades after the court invalidated prohibitions on flag desecration in 48 states, the city of Cleveland agreed to pay Mr. Johnson $225,000 to settle his claim that officers had retaliated against him for an exercise of free expression.

    Mr. Johnson, 63, said in his lawsuit that officers had used fire extinguishers to put out the burning flag and pushed him to the ground during the protest outside the convention hall in July 2016. He was charged with misdemeanor assault after two people claimed they had been burned in the incident. The charges were later dropped, and a judge dismissed charges against 15 other people arrested at the protest.

    Cleveland did not admit to any of the claims in Mr. Johnson’s lawsuit and denied liability, a city spokesman said, adding that the city’s insurer will pay the settlement.
    Mr. Johnson, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has spent decades protesting what he describes as American imperialism and inequality, and said that he planned to use the settlement money to support causes in line with his ideology. “I’m a full-on volunteer for the revolution,” he said.
    Legal experts said they were surprised to learn that Mr. Johnson had been arrested again, in part because the legal precedent for flag burning is clear — and also because they were surprised by his commitment.
    “I didn’t know he was still at it,” said Amy Adler, a professor at the New York University School of Law.

    The city’s agreement to pay Mr. Johnson to settle the lawsuit was announced just before Flag Day, which has been observed on June 14 for more than a century, although it is not an official federal holiday.

    In 1989, when the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the Texas law under which Mr. Johnson had been charged with burning a flag was unconstitutional, the decision was met with fierce opposition. Months later, Congress passed the Flag Protection Act of 1989, which the Supreme Court overturned the next year. 
    A Gallup poll in 2005 found that a majority of American adults wanted to allow states to outlaw flag burning. In 2006, a proposed constitutional amendment failed to garner the two-thirds majority needed to be sent to the states for ratification by just one vote
    Leading politicians and presidential candidates from both parties have supported proposals to outlaw some forms of flag burning. After the 2016 election, President Trump suggested that flag burners should be punished with jail time or loss of citizenship.

    There are no signs that the current court will reconsider the issue any time soon, and at least two members of the court’s conservative majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, have indicated that they hold the court’s 1989 decision in high esteem.
    Ms. Adler said the most difficult First Amendment cases often involve speech or expression that a large portion of the public finds reprehensible. “It was a very painful case for the court and the country,” Ms. Adler said.

    Katie Fallow, a senior lawyer at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said many Americans often disagree with court rulings on “lightning rod” issues like flag burning.
    “The First Amendment and the Bill of Rights have long been viewed as — and were intended to be — somewhat counter-majoritarian to protect the rights of a minority,” she said, citing opinions that restrict prayer in schools or allow protests near funerals.
    One of the nation’s foremost flag wavers, John Janik, chairman of the National Flag Day Foundation, said that although he found flag-burning protests despicable, he does not support laws that seek to criminalize the act.
    “Anyone who would disgrace that flag or harm the flag is terrible and deserves all the disrespect you can give him, but this is the land of the free,” Mr. Janik said. “I’m not for a law that takes away that freedom.”
    Mr. Johnson said he has burned many flags since he was first arrested for doing it in 1984, but he always does it deliberately, as a form of protest — not on a whim.
    “It’s not a gimmick,” he said. “It’s something to make a serious condemnation of this system.”


    5) New Rent Laws Pass in N.Y.: ‘The Pendulum Is Swinging’ Against Landlords
    The package, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, significantly strengthened protections for all tenants in New York City.
    By Vivian Wang, June 14, 2019

    Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo, center left, hugged Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, after a floor speech in favor of the rent law package on Friday.CreditCreditDakota Santiago for The New York Times

    ALBANY — New York lawmakers on Friday passed a sweeping package of rent laws designed to dramatically enhance tenant protections and reshape the state’s housing landscape, after a monthslong battle that galvanized tenant activists and dealt a blow to the state’s powerful real estate industry.
    The laws signaled a seismic shift not only in the relationship between tenants and landlords, but also in the power balance of Albany, where deep-pocketed developers had long enjoyed access and influence.
    “The pendulum is swinging,” Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the Senate Democratic majority, said on the floor.
    Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the package immediately after it was passed by the State Senate and Assembly, both controlled by Democrats. 

    The laws would immediately transform life for the 2.4 million people who live in roughly one million rent-regulated apartments in New York City, by closing loopholes that have allowed landlords to raise rents or deregulate properties. The existing rent laws were to expire on Saturday.

    The legislation’s reach could also extend much farther in the coming weeks: Localities statewide will be allowed to adopt their own rent regulations, which had previously been limited to New York City and a few suburbs. 
    And other protections, such as limits on security deposits and protections against evictions, would apply to all renters, stabilized or not.
    “That is a huge reversal of a decades-long trend toward weaker laws and more loopholes and more ability for landlords to make profits,” said Senator Brian Kavanagh, the Democratic chairman of his chamber’s housing committee.

    The real estate industry had lobbied fiercely against the proposed changes, warning that they would discourage landlords from investing in properties and erode thousands of building workers’ and contractors’ jobs. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on ad campaigns, hired well-connected lobbyists and pleaded their case directly to Mr. Cuomo and other top state officials.
    But their appeals met skepticism, and sometimes outright hostility, from the state’s newly empowered Democrats, who took over the Legislature last year for only the third time in the last half-century.

    “For far too long, this Legislature gave landlords the tools to game the system,” said Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, a Democrat from Brooklyn, referring to the years of alliance between the industry and Republican lawmakers. “That will no longer be the case.”
    The details of the package were announced on Tuesday. In the days afterward, stunned industry leaders pressed Mr. Cuomo and legislators from moderate suburban districts to retool the legislation. 
    But Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat who has received millions of dollars in real estate contributions and at times disparaged his party’s left wing, rebuffed them. Though the governor has often been a larger-than-life presence in Albany legislative battles, he publicly disengaged from negotiations with lawmakers in the week before the deal was announced, expressing doubt that the Senate could reach an agreement.
    In a radio interview on Friday before the bill’s passage, Mr. Cuomo said that developers who thought they would get special treatment because they had donated “don’t know me at all.”

    Four Democratic senators, all from Long Island, voted against the bill. But it still passed by a wide margin, 36-26. It passed in the Assembly, where Democrats hold a veto-proof majority, 95-41.

    Mr. Cuomo offered measured praise for the final package.
    “At the beginning of this legislative session, I called for the most sweeping, aggressive tenant protections in state history,” he said in a statement. “I’m confident the measure passed today is the strongest possible set of reforms that the Legislature was able to pass and are a major step forward for tenants across New York.”
    During the floor debate, Republican lawmakers blasted the bill as unnecessary, overbearing and economically catastrophic.
    “The housing market will never forget what we did here,” Assemblyman Andy Goodell, a Republican from Western New York, said.
    Senator Andrew J. Lanza, who represents Staten Island, blasted a provision that would allow an apartment to remain in regulation even if its tenants earned more than $200,000. Previously, an apartment could be deregulated if the tenant exceeded that income threshold, or the rent exceeded $2,733.
    “You’re taking this apartment from someone making $30,000 or $50,000,” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

    Other changes would limit landlords’ abilities to pass the cost of apartment or building improvements on to tenants; guarantee certain temporary rent discounts; and make the laws permanent, rather than letting them expire every few years.
    John H. Banks, the president of the Real Estate Board of New York, said in a statement after the bill’s passage that the changes would reduce tax revenue and discourage the construction of new affordable housing.
    “There was a path to responsible reform that could have protected tenants as well as owners, jobs and revenue, but Albany chose not to take it,” he said.
    But Republican and industry critiques were significantly outnumbered by celebratory speeches from the Democrats, who told emotional stories of receiving calls from tenants who had been evicted, or even stories of fighting for housing stability themselves. They offered repeated thanks to tenant activists, who had packed the chambers’ galleries.

    Ms. Stewart-Cousins, at times choking up with emotion, recounted growing up in public housing and the certainty it had afforded her family.
    “If we had to move every week or every month, if we were afraid that tomorrow we weren’t going to have heat,” she said, “I know I would not be here today.”
    Jesse McKinley contributed reporting.


    6) New York City Allocates $250,000 for Abortions, Challenging Conservative States
    The money will go to a nonprofit fund that pays clinics for abortions performed on women who cannot pay, a third of whom live outside New York.
    By Nikita Stewart, June 14, 2019

    “We heard the news on the abortion bans across the country,” City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera said. “Many of us in New York felt helpless. We wanted to do more.”CreditCreditMarian Carrasquero/The New York Times

    New York City will spend $250,000 to help poor women who travel from other states to obtain abortions here, inserting itself into the increasingly contentious debate over access to the procedure.
    While the amount of money is relatively small, the allocation is a symbolic if provocative move as more conservative states take steps to all but ban abortion.
    The money will go to the New York Abortion Access Fund, according to City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, a Democrat from Manhattan, and Jennifer Fermino, a spokeswoman for the Council speaker, Corey Johnson. Abortion rights activists believe that this is the first time that a city will allocate money specifically for abortions.

    City officials said the contribution, which would be included in the budget being negotiated between the Council and the mayor’s office, would allow about 500 women to terminate their pregnancies.

    The city provides funding to the nonprofit Planned Parenthood, but that organization’s affiliates charge patients on a sliding scale and offer a range of services. The city’s public hospital system also performs abortions, but women face a bureaucracy of requests for proof of income, private insurance and Medicaid.
    The abortion access fund provides payment to clinics on behalf of women who might not be able to pay for abortions, but are not covered by insurance or Medicaid. Roughly a third of the fund goes to women who come to New York for abortions.
    “There haven’t been that many city and state public officials to say we should publicly fund abortions. It’s a big statement,” said Aziza Ahmed, a law professor at Northeastern University in Boston. “This is a culture war to some degree.”

    Nine states have passed laws to restrict abortion this year, prompting legal fights that abortion opponents hope will lead the Supreme Court, reconstituted under President Trump, to reconsider the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

    In response, several states have passed or are considering forms of legislation that would strengthen abortion rights. 
    Earlier this week, the governor of Maine, Janet Mills, signed legislation that allows nurses and physician assistants to perform abortions, expanding services beyond those performed by doctors.
    In January, on the 46th anniversary of the Roe decision, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York signed the Reproductive Health Act that also allows medical professionals, in addition to doctors, to perform abortions. The New York bill also allows a woman to have an abortion after 24 weeks when her health or life is in danger, or the fetus is not viable.
    Before the Roe decision, New York was a haven for women seeking abortions from out of state because of its more liberal laws. Ms. Rivera, a chairwoman of the Council’s Women’s Caucus, said the culture-war climate made it necessary for New York to reassert itself as “the beacon for the rest of the country.”
    “We heard the news on the abortion bans across the country,” Ms. Rivera said. “Many of us in New York felt helpless. We wanted to do more.”
    Officials with the New York Abortion Access Fund had initially sought funding through the city’s health department; when those efforts fell short, the fund began working with the National Institute for Reproductive Health to persuade the city. 
    The institute felt the time was ripe for New York City to take the lead on explicitly providing funding for abortions, said Andrea Miller, the group’s president, and the abortion access fund seemed perfectly suited as a recipient.

    The fund only provides women with financial assistance for abortions, unlike a public hospital or Planned Parenthood, which has several sexual and reproductive health services.
    Women seeking help can call the group, which then has a volunteer respond within 24 hours. After an assessment, the organization pays abortion bills directly to clinics. In some cases, it also refers women to groups that pay transportation costs. In 2018, the fund paid for abortions for nearly 600 women.
    For the most part, the effort to give the organization city funding, called Fund Abortion N.Y.C., was under the radar.
    Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst for the Guttmacher Institute, which researches abortion, said advocates were afraid to bring too much attention to the campaign for fear of derailing it. “This is something that has been done kind of quietly,” she said. “I’ve been sitting with crossed fingers and toes.”


    7) U.K. Bans Advertisements Depicting Gender Stereotypes
    No more commercials showing men struggling to do a load of laundry, or asking women if they are “beach body ready.”
    By Valeriya Safronova, June 14, 2019

    Scenes that play on gender stereotypes are now banned in British advertisements.CreditCreditGetty Images

    Men unable to change diapers; women cleaning while men kick their feet up on the couch; women having trouble with parking: Scenes like these, which play on gender stereotypes, are now banned in British advertisements. Britain’s advertising regulator announced the changes in December, but companies were given a six-month adjustment period before they took effect.
    The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority said in a statement that it will also ban ads that connect physical features with success in the romantic or social spheres; assign stereotypical personality traits to boys and girls, such as bravery for boys and tenderness for girls; suggest that new mothers should prioritize their looks or home cleanliness over their emotional health; and mock men for being bad at stereotypically “feminine” tasks, such as vacuuming, washing clothes or parenting. 

    The guidelines were developed after a report from the regulator found that gender-stereotypical imagery and rhetoric “can lead to unequal gender outcomes in public and private aspects of people’s lives.” The report came on the heels of a few British ads that perpetuated negative assumptions about women, including one for Protein World, a weight-loss drink, which paired a bikini-clad model with the question: “Are you beach body ready?” The posters inspired a Change.org petition with more than 70,000 signatures demanding the removal of the ads.

    The Advertising Standards Authority has been known to ban imagery it deems offensive: In 2016, the regulatory group cracked down on Gucci for using a model who looked “unhealthily thin” in a campaign, and in 2017, it banned a Rimmel commercial starring the model Cara Delevingne for excessive airbrushing that could mislead viewers. (The regulator insisted that Ms. Delevingne’s eyelashes were unnaturally voluminous in the video.) More recently, the regulator criticized an ad for a Porsche dealer for objectification: In the ad, the legs and torso of a woman jut out from beneath a car with the tagline “attractive servicing” printed across.

    With the new guidelines, Britain joins countries like Belgium, France, Finland, Greece, Norway, South Africa and India, which have laws or codes of varying degrees and age that prevent gender discrimination in ads. Norway, for example, has had a law prohibiting sexism in ads since 1978. A 2004 Spanish law against gender violence prohibits ads from showing degrading images of a woman’s body, and Austrian codes consider depictions that reduce a person to their sexuality discriminatory. In the U.S., guidelines on stereotypes in advertising are only offered by the group that oversees ads that target children. 
    Companies are reckoning with the problem of sexism in advertising on their own as well. In 2017, the consumer goods giant Unilever partnered with UN Women and a host of major corporations, including Google, Johnson & Johnson and Mars, to create the Unstereotype Alliance, which seeks to educate people on how advertising perpetuates biases.

    The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media worked with Google to analyze more than 2,000 English-language commercials: It found that between 2006 and 2016, the number of female characters in video advertisements remained essentially unchanged. The amount of screen time men had was fourfold that of women, and men spoke about seven times as often as women did. While ads featuring only men accounted for about a quarter of all ads, those that featured solely women made up 5 percent of the total.

    report from Lloyds Banking Group in 2016 made similar discoveries, finding that only about one-third of people shown in ads were women. They rarely occupied positions of power, and when they did, the “role was often linked to seduction, beauty or motherhood.”


    8) After a 4-year-old took a doll from a store, video shows Phoenix police pulling a gun on her parents
    By Deanna Paul and Herman  Wong, June 16, 2019

    Recently released video of Phoenix officers drawing their weapons on a family and threatening to shoot has led to an internal police investigation and a $10 million lawsuit against the city and its police department.
    In a statement posted online Saturday, Phoenix police offered their own account of the incident, which began with allegations of shoplifting. The police chief, however, said she was “disturbed by the language and the actions” of the officers, and Mayor Kate Gallego called for change.
    “There is no situation in which this behavior is ever close to acceptable,” Gallego said in a statement posted to Twitter on Saturday. “As a mother myself, seeing these children placed in such a terrifying situation is beyond upsetting.”
    On May 29, Dravon Ames and his fiancee, Iesha Harper, said they went on a family outing with their two children, London, 1, and Island, 4. Without their knowledge, Island took a doll from a Family Dollar Store, according to a notice of claim dated Wednesday that was filed by former Arizona attorney general Thomas Horne, who is representing Ames and Harper.
    A police patrol unit followed the couple’s car. Once the family members entered their babysitter’s apartment complex, an officer approached the vehicle with his gun drawn and yanked open the front door, the claim said.
    Despite department rules that require police to wear body cameras, the Phoenix officers were not wearing them, the claim said. But passersby recorded the encounter. The police released one video this week, but there are others online.
    “I’m going to put a cap in your a--,” one officer said to Ames as a second policeman, whose weapon was also drawn and pointed at Ames, walked up to the car, the video shows. “I’m going to shoot you in your f---ing face.” 
    Both statements, Horne wrote in the claim, were made in front of the couple’s children, who were in the rear of the vehicle.
    The first officer pulled Ames, 22, from the car, pushed his head to the pavement, handcuffed him and yelled that Ames better follow orders, according to the claim. The officer threw Ames against the car, ordered him to spread his legs and “kicked him in the right leg so hard that the father collapsed.” Then, the officer dragged him upright and punched him in the back, the claim said.
    Once Ames was handcuffed and inside the patrol car, the officers focused their attention on Harper and the children, according to the claim.
    The two officers pointed their weapons at the visibly pregnant 24-year-old Harper and her children, the video shows and the claim stated.
    "The first officer grabbed the mother and the baby around both of their necks, and tried to take the baby out of the mother’s hand,” the claim alleged. “He told her to put the baby on the ground, which she was unwilling to do because the baby could not walk, and the ground consisted of hot pavement.”
    The officer tried to rip Harper’s youngest child from her arms, the claim stated. Eventually he threw Harper, who had handed the children to a bystander, into the police car face first and then handcuffed her.
    “I could have shot you in front of your f---ing kids,” he said, according to the claim.
    Since May 29, the 4-year-old has been having nightmares and is wetting the bed, and Ames, whose car was impounded, has been limping and is without transportation to get to work, the claim stated.
    Neither Ames nor Harper were arrested or ticketed, though they were detained by the police, the Phoenix New Times reported.
    The notice of claim alleged that the police officers “committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress, and violation of civil rights under the fifth and 14th amendments of the United States Constitution.”
    Horne told The Washington Post that the city has 60 days to respond before he files the lawsuit.
    The Phoenix Police Department did not return The Post’s request for comment, but in a statement posted to Facebook on Saturdaycontested many details in the claim. It said the incident occurred on May 27, not May 29, and began when a store manager alerted authorities of alleged shoplifters.
    Officers located the vehicle at an apartment complex about a mile away and claim the “male driver” told officers he had stolen a package of underwear, which he had thrown out the window, and that he was driving with a suspended license. Police claim a woman in the vehicle said she believed the child stole the doll and that she heard officers tell “the driver to stop with car several times, but he didn’t.”
    According to police, no one was arrested for shoplifting because the store manager declined to prosecute.
    Horne denied the department’s version of events.
    “There are some things that are true and some we dispute,” he told The Post. “None of the discrepancies affect the outrage as to the way the officers treated these people who never resisted and were always compliant.”
    Phoenix police said they became aware of the video on June 11, “showing extremely offensive and unprofessional language and actions by the officers during the arrests,” who have been assigned to desk duty while their actions are being investigated. On June 14, Police Chief Jeri Williams said on Facebook that she began an internal investigation into the incident once she became aware of the video.
    “This incident is not representative of the majority of Phoenix police officers who serve this city,” Williams said.
    Gallego said she was “deeply sorry for what this family went through” and would quicken the deployment of body cameras in the police force.
    “This is not who we are, and I refuse to allow this type of behavior to go unchallenged,” she said, announcing a community meeting with Williams on Tuesday to discuss concerns.
    In 2018, Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, was involved in a record number of police-involved shootings, nearly doubling numbers from 2017, according to the Arizona Republic. Phoenix police officers were responsible for more than half of them.



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