7/15/2020

Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, July 15, 2020


No To Trump-Duterte Terror

&
Get Out Philippine National Police [PNP]!

This Friday, July 17, when the ATL goes into effect, we call on all Filipinos and Solidarity Forces to declare San Francisco ATL-free and to demand that the PNP headquarters in the San Francisco Consulate close down and get out of town!

Friday, 7/17
Caravan at 1:30pm - RSVP & Org Endorsements:
bit.ly/July17OustDuterteSF
Rally 2pm @ SF Philippine Consulate

Duterte’s signing of the Anti-Terror Law (ATL) in the Philippines signals a slippery slope to martial-law and full on fascism in the Philippines. The ATL law affects all Filipinos and anyone who speaks out against Duterte.

Both in the Philippines and in the United States, we have seen increasing government-sanctioned violence, human and civil rights violations, and increasing attacks on our freedom of speech and our right to organize and respond to injustice. No one should ever be condemned or punished for exercising their right to engage and participate in political discourse and demonstrations.

Human rights activists in the US have already been targets of smear campaigns for their advocacy and activism against Duterte's corruption & repression.

This is especially concerning as the San Francisco Consulate hosts the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in the US. We know that the bill impacts Filipinos and others outside the Philippines and that the PNP intends to build relationships with local law enforcement agencies through their Global Police Community Relations efforts.

In addition, the recent vote to shut down the leading broadcaster in the nation, ABS-CBN, further shows that Duterte will stop at nothing to shut down critics and kill press freedom.

Organizers: ABSF, MalayaSF, Pin@y Educational Partnerships, SFCHRP.

To add your organization as an endorser please contact:
malayamovementsf@gmail.com or fill out bit.ly/July17OustDuterteSF

Please wear a face mask. We will encourage physical distancing.

#oustduterte #junkterrorlaw #fightfascism #endstateterror

SAVE THE DATE
People's State of the Nation Address!

Justice 4 Brandon Lee Fundraiser Closer to $10k Goal for $10k Match!

SFCHRP continues to support the fundraising efforts for Brandon Lee, an environmental and indigenous rights advocate who was shot by an agent of the Philippine government for his work in the Cordillera region. Brandon is recovering in San Francisco and is also looking for accessible ADA housing for his family of three.

We have raised nearly $3,000 in the last couple of weeks, getting us closer to the $10k needed to secure a $10k matching donation from an anonymous donor. Please share this fundraising tool, Love4Brandon, which includes artwork and skills donated by talented friends and supporters of Brandon. We are also still accepting donations through Venmo @sfchrp.

If you are interested in joining the Justice 4 Brandon Lee Coalition, please click here. To learn more about Brandon's story, go to www.ichrpus.org/savebrandonlee.


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San FranciscoCA  94122-2008

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The Concert for Cuba
July 18th and 19th

Dear Pacifica Member,

The Pacifica Foundation is proud to be a media sponsor for The Concert For Cuba live streamed from Havana on July 18th and 19th on HotHouseGlobal

This epic event unites 50 of the world's legendary supporters of Cuba's humanitarian efforts during the Covid crisis. 

Join Danny Glover, Micheal Moore, Los Van Van, Omara Portuondo and Eliades Ochoa and so many more. More information can be found on https://hothouse.net.

Live stream the video feed on https://www.twitch.tv/hothouseglobal/.

Thank you,
Lydia Brazon
Executive Director 

To donate, please visit pacifica.org to make your tax deductible donation through ActBlue, credit card or Paypal.


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Conversation on the Intersection of Politics, Labor, & Race with Dr. Stephen Pitts on July 23rd.
We are living at the intersection of racial injustice, labor and politics. The times we are in demand a labor movement that is leading the conversation and at the same time building capacity and pursuing public policy that brings justice to the working class. Join Bay Area Labor Councils for this important discussion. RSVP here.
In Solidarity,
SF Labor Council Team




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For Immediate Release                                                            



Press Contact: Herb Mintz

(415) 759-9679



Photos and Interviews: Steve Zeltzer

(415) 867-0628





LaborFest is committed to providing unique and relevant labor theme events while practicing proper social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no printed program booklet and all LaborFest 2020 program events will be available online only at https://laborfest.net/.  Events will be available through YouTube or Facebook using a web address provided in the program schedule.  Events are subject to change or cancellation due to COVID-19 related issues.  Check our website at https://laborfest.net/ prior to each event.



LaborFest is the premier labor cultural arts and film festival in the United States.  LaborFest recognizes the role of working people in the building of America and making it work even in this time of COVID-19.  The festival is self-funded with contributions from unions and other organizations that support and celebrate the contributions of working people.



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"While you're worried about 'bad apples', We're wary of the roots. because NO healthy tree, naturally bears Strange 

Fruit."



—Unknown source




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The San Francisco Mime Troupe will not be performing their traditional live show in Sana Cruz this year.  Instead they are offering one of their classic shows with a timely theme to stream online.

Watch FREEDOMLAND now through July 19 for a ticket price of 99 cents.  This non-profit theater troupe will also appreciate an additional donation.

-Jeffrey Smedberg
Reel Work Labor Film Festival

Ends this Sunday, July 19


The San Francisco Mime Troupe’s FREEDOMLAND 
available online Monday, July 6 - Sunday, July 19!
In 2015 the Tony award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe presented an original tragic farce - FREEDOMLAND - to critical praise in parks around the Bay Area, and in theaters across California. FREEDOMLAND is the story of the lengths a Black man will go to in order to keep his grandson safe and alive in a country that seems to prefer Black men in jail or dead. Pulling no punches while still managing to be comedic, FREEDOMLAND was a brutal, tragic, yet in the Mime Troupe tradition sardonic look at the results of the War on Drugs, how fear is used as a weapon of racial oppression, and how police violence destroys Black lives in our police state. And now, for the first time, the San Francisco Mime                                                           Troupe will be making one of its most hard-hitting shows available for a limited time online!

Visit www.sfmt.org for more details, and see the show 
anytime between July 6 to July 19 on Vimeo.

See FREEDOMLAND for FREE but a suggested 
donation of $20 is greatly appreciated!
Watch a trailer!
SF Mime Troupe is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, tax ID 94-1602975.
All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law.
Donate Today to FREEDOMLAND!
We also accept checks made out to SFMT.
(And we get your full donation, no third party charges when you send a check!)
Mail to: 855 Treat Ave, SF, CA 94110

San Francisco Mime Troupe | 855 Treat Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

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      HAVE YOU CONTRIBUTED TO SUPPORT THE WORK OF LC4PJ LATELY?

Members of LC4PJ make a voluntary annual donation of $30 (or whatever they can afford) as dues.  While you don't need to be a member to subscribe to this list, we hope you will also support this urgently important work with a financial contribution.

Send donations to LC4PJ c/o 4654 Congress Ave., Oakland, CA 94601.  Make checks payable to LC4PJ or Labor Committee for Peace & Justice.  Send inquires to labor-for-peace-and-justice@igc.org.

Thanks for your support!


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From: "FIRE (Fight for Im/migrants & Refugees Everywhere)" <info@fightformigrants.org>
Date: July 13, 2020 at 10:40:48 PM PDT
To: Carole Seligman <caroleseligman@sbcglobal.net>
Subject: Shut Down Fort Hood! Justice for Vanessa Guillén. Sign the petition!


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Marvin Gaye - What's Going On (Official Video 2019)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5TmORitlKk



Because once is not enough. Because sometimes music is my only solace. Because sometimes it hurts too much too care but to be human is to hurt. Because I feel lucky to have grown up with great music. Because that music was harmonic and melodious. Because that music had soul. Because I grew up with Blues and Motown and Jazz. Because I grew up with Black friends and we played ball everyday and we had fun and we were winners. Because they taught me about music and soul and acceptance. Because they didn't hate me for being white. Because I was brought up with Irish Catholics who taught me that fighting and arguing for justice kept depression in its place. Because they taught me that if you never quit fighting you haven't lost so never quit fighting for justice. Because I was in a union and learned that solidarity is the original religion. Because without solidarity you are alone. And alone is hell and because I have never been in hell. Because I am part of the human race. Because the human race is the only race on earth. Because I am grateful for Marvin Gaye, and John Coltrane, and Sam Cooke and because you know what I am talking about. Because we are going to win and we are going to have fun. Because that's the truth. Because no lie can defeat truth. Because you are there to hear me. Because I know I am not alone.  —Gregg Shotwell

https://www.greggshotwell.com



(Gregg Shotwell is a retired autoworker, writer and poet.)


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"When I liberate myself, I liberate others. If you don't speak out, ain't nobody going to speak out for you."

Fannie Lou Hamer 

Dear Community, 

Do you know what wakes me up every day? Believing that we will win. We always knew that we were on the right side of history—but this summer between unveiling the racist outcomes of COVID-19, the global uprisings and the nationwide 650+ Juneneenth actions, we have momentum like we’ve never had before, and the majority of the country is with us. We know that the next step in our pathway to liberation is to make a strong political move at the ballot box—and we need you to lead the effort to entice, excite, educate, and ignite our people, from the babies to the grannies. Black August belongs to the Electoral Justice Project; it is our turn to set the national Black Political Agenda, and we want you to join us!

In a crisis, we have found resilience and the opportunity to make history. This is the genius of our Blackness—even amid a devastating pandemic that exposed racism and anti-Blackness as the real pre-existing conditions harming our communities, we are rising up and taking action to build power and demand that our rights and dignity be upheld and respected.

This summer, we will continue the legacy of Black Political Power-building and the righteous anger and momentum in the streets to shape a movement that will extend to the November elections and beyond. 

We invite you to join the Movement for Black Lives on Friday, August 28, at for the Black National Convention—a primetime event in celebration of Black Culture, Black Political Power-building, and a public policy agenda that will set forth an affirmative vision for Black Lives.


We are drawing from a legacy of struggle for Black Liberation. In 1964, Black communities across Mississippi and the South united in the face of systemic racism and voter suppression. That summer, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act, which after decades of violence and segregation, was won through sheer will. Then, on March 10, 1972, 4,000 Black people from every political affiliation attended the National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana, to yield power for Black people. While the historic event generated a new Black Political Agenda and quadrupled the number of Black elected officials by the end of the 1970s, it was not without its divisions and tensions—ranging from questions about the efficacy of Reverend Jesse Jackson’s assertion of a “Liberation Party” to the isolation of then–Presidential Candidate Shirley Chishom.

Despite the varied outcomes, the National Black Political Convention was an influential moment in Black History. Forty-eight years later, we are meeting yet another opportunity for radical change. This Black August, join us as we unveil one of the boldest political platforms our country has ever seen, partnering to ignite millions across the country. www.blacknovember.org

You feel that? We’re going to win. 

With Black Love, 

Jessica Byrd and the Black National Convention Planning Teamp


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CODEPINK.ORG


Tell Blackrock: stop investing in Tasers that police have used to kill thousands of Americans!

BlackRock loves to make a killing on killing: Over a thousand Americans have been killed by Tasers — 32 percent of them are Black Americans. Tasers are made by the colossal law enforcement supplier Axon Enterprise, based in Arizona.
One of their top shareholders happens to be Blackrock. Recently Blackrock has been trying to be sympathetic to the atrocities of murders waged on Black Americans and communities of color. If we ramp up massive pressure and blow the whistle on their deadly stocks, we can highlight that divesting from Tasers and the war in our streets will be a step in the right direction in building a fair and just society.
This issue is important to having peace in our streets. But this will only work if people participate. Send an email to Blackrock to divest from the Taser manufacturer Axon Enterprise which is responsible for the killing of thousands of Americans, and CODEPINK will pull out all the stops to make sure Blackrock execs hear our call:

Tell Blackrock: stop investing in Tasers!

Blackrock could do this. They recently announced that they were divesting from fossil fuels — signaling a shift in their policies. If CEO Larry Fink cares about “diversity, fairness, and justice” and building a “stronger, more equal, and safer society” — he should divest from Tasers.
Plus, compared to Blackrock’s other holdings, Taser stocks aren’t even that significant!

But if Blackrock does this, it could be the first domino we need to get other investment companies on board too. Send an email to BlackRock and share this widely! 

Tell Blackrock: stop investing in Tasers!

If there’s one thing our community stands for, it’s peace and social justice. And one way we can help achieve that is by cutting off the flow of cash into the manufacturing of Tasers. So, let’s come together to make that happen, and help prevent more innocent Americans from being killed with these senseless tools.

With hope,
Nancy, Carley, Jodie, Paki, Cody, Kelsey, and Yousef

Donate Now!

This email was sent to giobon@comcast.net. To unsubscribe,  click here
To update your email subscription, contact info@codepink.org.
© 2020 CODEPINK.ORG | Created with NationBuilder
    
 

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Rayshard Brooks, 27 years old, was shot to death while running away from police in Atlanta Friday, June 12, 2020.

SAY HIS NAME!


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/14/us/videos-rayshard-brooks-shooting-atlanta-police.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage


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Kimberly Jones

If you haven't seen this, you're missing something spectacular:

On Saturday May 30th filmmaker and photographer David Jones of David Jones Media felt compelled to go out and serve the community in some way. He decided to use his art to try and explain the events that were currently impacting our lives. On day two, Sunday the 31st, he activated his dear friend author Kimberly Jones to tag along and conduct interviews. During a moment of downtime he captured these powerful words from her and felt the world couldn’t wait for the full length documentary, they needed to hear them now.


Kimberly Jones on YouTube 


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Awesome! I always wonder about what protests accomplish. Here’s a list:

So what has protesting accomplished?

👉🏾Within 10 days of sustained protests:
Minneapolis bans use of choke holds.

👉🏾Charges are upgraded against Officer Chauvin, and his accomplices are arrested and charged.

👉🏾Dallas adopts a "duty to intervene" rule that requires officers to stop other cops who are engaging in inappropriate use of force.

👉🏾New Jersey’s attorney general said the state will update its use-of-force guidelines for the first time in two decades.

👉🏾In Maryland, a bipartisan work group of state lawmakers announced a police reform work group.

👉🏾Los Angeles City Council introduces motion to reduce LAPD’s $1.8 billion operating budget.

👉🏾MBTA in Boston agrees to stop using public buses to transport police officers to protests.

👉🏾Police brutality captured on cameras leads to near-immediate suspensions and firings of officers in several cities (i.e., Buffalo, Ft. Lauderdale).

👉🏾Monuments celebrating confederates are removed in cities in Virginia, Alabama, and other states.

👉🏾Street in front of the White House is renamed "Black Lives Matter Plaza.”
Military forces begin to withdraw from D.C.

Then, there's all the other stuff that's hard to measure:

💓The really difficult public and private conversations that are happening about race and privilege.

💓The realizations some white people are coming to about racism and the role of policing in this country.

💓The self-reflection.

💓The internal battles exploding within organizations over issues that have been simmering or ignored for a long time. Some organizations will end as a result, others will be forever changed or replaced with something stronger and fairer.

Globally:

🌎 Protests against racial inequality sparked by the police killing of George Floyd are taking place all over the world.

🌎 Rallies and memorials have been held in cities across Europe, as well as in Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand.

🌎 As the US contends with its second week of protests, issues of racism, police brutality, and oppression have been brought to light across the globe.

🌎 People all over the world understand that their own fights for human rights, for equality and fairness, will become so much more difficult to win if we are going to lose America as the place where 'I have a dream' is a real and universal political program," Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to the US, told the New Yorker.

🌎 In France, protesters marched holding signs that said "I can't breathe" to signify both the words of Floyd, and the last words of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black man who was subdued by police officers and gasped the sentence before he died outside Paris in 2016.

🌎 Cities across Europe have come together after the death of George Floyd:

✊🏽 In Amsterdam, an estimated 10,000 people filled the Dam square on Monday, holding signs and shouting popular chants like "Black lives matter," and "No justice, no peace."

✊🏽 In Germany, people gathered in multiple locations throughout Berlin to demand justice for Floyd and fight against police brutality.

✊🏾 A mural dedicated to Floyd was also spray-painted on a stretch of wall in Berlin that once divided the German capital during the Cold War.

✊🏿 In Ireland, protesters held a peaceful demonstration outside of Belfast City Hall, and others gathered outside of the US embassy in Dublin.

✊🏿In Italy, protesters gathered and marched with signs that said "Stop killing black people," "Say his name," and "We will not be silent."

✊🏾 In Spain, people gathered to march and hold up signs throughout Barcelona and Madrid.

✊🏾 In Athens, Greece, protesters took to the streets to collectively hold up a sign that read "I can't breathe."

✊🏾 In Brussels, protesters were seen sitting in a peaceful demonstration in front of an opera house in the center of the city.

✊🏾In Denmark, protesters were heard chanting "No justice, no peace!" throughout the streets of Copenhagen, while others gathered outside the US embassy.

✊🏾 In Canada, protesters were also grieving for Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old black woman who died on Wednesday after falling from her balcony during a police investigation at her building.

✊🏾 And in New Zealand, roughly 2,000 people marched to the US embassy in Auckland, chanting and carrying signs demanding justice.

💐 Memorials have been built for Floyd around the world, too. In Mexico City, portraits of him were hung outside the US embassy with roses, candles, and signs.

💐 In Poland, candles and flowers were laid out next to photos of Floyd outside the US consulate.

💐 And in Syria, two artists created a mural depicting Floyd in the northwestern town of Binnish, "on a wall destroyed by military planes."

Before the assassination of George Floyd some of you were able to say whatever the hell you wanted and the world didn't say anything to you...

THERE HAS BEEN A SHIFT, AN AWAKENING...MANY OF YOU ARE BEING EXPOSED FOR WHO YOU REALLY ARE. #readthatagain

Don't wake up tomorrow on the wrong side of this issue. Its not to late to SAY,

"Maybe I need to look at this from a different perspective."

"Maybe I don't know what its like to be black in America..."

"Maybe, just maybe, I have been taught wrong."

There is still so much work to be done. It's been a really dark, raw week. This could still end badly. But all we can do is keep doing the work.

Keep protesting.

WE ARE NOT TRYING TO START A RACE WAR; WE ARE PROTESTING TO END IT,
PEACEFULLY.

How beautiful is that?

ALL LIVES CANNOT MATTER UNTIL YOU INCLUDE BLACK LIVES.

YOU CANNOT SAY 'ALL LIVES MATTER' WHEN YOU DO NOTHING TO STOP SYSTEMIC RACISM & POLICE BRUTALITY.

YOU CANNOT SAY 'ALL LIVES MATTER' WHEN BLACK PEOPLE ARE DYING AND ALL YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT IS THE LOOTING.

YOU CANNOT SAY 'ALL LIVES MATTER' WHEN YOU ALLOW CHILDREN TO BE CAGED, VETERANS TO GO HOMELESS, AND POOR FAMILIES TO GO HUNGRY & LOSE THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE.

DO ALL LIVES MATTER? YES. BUT RIGHT NOW, ONLY BLACK LIVES ARE BEING TARGETED, JAILED, AND KILLED EN MASSE- SO THAT'S WHO WE'RE FOCUSING ON.

🖤🖤🖤BLACK LIVES MATTER🖤🖤🖤

IF YOU CAN'T SEE THIS, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

*I do not know the original author*

Copy & paste widely!


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BLACK LIVES MATTER


Ultimately, the majority of human suffering is caused by a system that places the value of material wealth over the value of
human life. To end the suffering, we must end the profit motive—the very foundation of capitalism itself.
—BAUAW
(Bay Area United Against War Newsletter)


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Tens-of-thousands protest in San Francisco June 3, 2020





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George Floyd's Last Words
"It's my face man
I didn't do nothing serious man
please
please
please I can't breathe
please man
please somebody
please man
I can't breathe
I can't breathe
please
(inaudible)
man can't breathe, my face
just get up
I can't breathe
please (inaudible)
I can't breathe sh*t
I will
I can't move
mama
mama
I can't
my knee
my nuts
I'm through
I'm through
I'm claustrophobic
my stomach hurt
my neck hurts
everything hurts
some water or something
please
please
I can't breathe officer
don't kill me
they gon' kill me man
come on man
I cannot breathe
I cannot breathe
they gon' kill me
they gon' kill me
I can't breathe
I can't breathe
please sir
please
please
please I can't breathe"

Then his eyes shut and the pleas stop. George Floyd was pronounced dead shortly after.



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Credit...

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Trump Comic Satire—A Proposal
          By Shakaboona

PRES. TRUMP HIDES IN WHITE HOUSE BUNKER IN FEAR OF PROTESTORS
Hello everyone, it's Shakaboona here, on May 29, 2020, Friday, it was reported by NPR and other news agencies that when protestors marched on the White House, the Secret Service (SS) rushed Pres. Trump to a protective bunker in the basement of the White House for his safety. When I heard that news I instantly visualized 3 scenes - (Scene 1) a pic of Pres. Saddam Hussein hiding in an underground cave in fear of the U.S. Army, (Scene 2) a pic of Pres. Donald Trump hiding in an underground bunker shaking in fear beneath a desk from U.S. Protestors as Secret Service guards (with 2 Lightning bolts on their collars) in hyper security around him with big guns drawn out, and (Scene 3) a pic of Pres. Trump later stood in front of the church across from the White House with a Bible in hand & chest puffed out & threatened to activate the U.S. Army against American citizen protestors.
 ~ I think this would be an underground iconic image of the power of the People & the cowardice/fear of Pres. Trump, not to mention that I think such a creative comic satire of Trump would demolish his self image (haha). I ask for anyone's help to turn my above visual satire of Trump into an actual comic satire strip & for us to distribute the finished comic satire strip worldwide, esp. to the news media. Maybe we can get Trump to see it and watch him blow a gasket (lol).
 ~ Please everyone, stay safe out there, b/c Trump is pushing this country to the verge of Civil War. Be prepared in every way imaginable. Peace. - Ur Brother, Shakaboona

Write to Shakaboona:
Smart Communications/PA DOC
Kerry Shakaboona Marshall #BE7826
SCI Rockview
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733

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Liz McAlister, the eldest of the King Bay Plowshares 7, was sentenced today via video to time served, three years supervised release and for a portion of the restitution for the seven of just over $30,000. She was the first of the defendants to be sentenced. The remaining six are scheduled to appear in the Brunswick court, June 29 and 30. Thirty-seven years ago Liz first stood before a Syracuse federal judge to hear the court render a sentence for her Griffiss Plowshares direct action protesting nuclear weapons. Today, with her attorney Bill Quigley in New Orleans and her family beside her in Connecticut, Liz appeared via video before Judge Lisa Godbey Wood who sat in Georgia's Southern District Federal Court in Brunswick, to hear today's sentence, maybe the last in the long career of indefatigable hope and courage and unrelenting opposition to nuclear weapons.

Last October, Liz, and the six others were found guilty of trespass, conspiracy and destruction of federal property, three felonies, and a misdemeanor in all, at the Kings Bay Naval Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia, where they had the audacity, in the middle of the night, to symbolically disarm a shrine celebrating US nuclear weapons and to protest the preparations for omnicide—the death of everything. Kings Bay is home to 6 Trident submarines that deploy one-quarter of the US nuclear arsenal.

The world has changed since October 2019 when activists gathered for the trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 in Brunswick, Georgia. We heard testimony and watched a video describing their incursion into the naval base. We heard the defendants explain why they chose April 4—the anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination—to carry out their act of faithful obedience. They described hanging banners, the first, a quote from the Rev. Dr. King that read, “The ultimate logic of racism is genocide,” and another that said "The ultimate logic of Trident is Omnicide." They also painted messages of peace and prayerfully poured baby bottles of blood at the naval base.

In the intervening months, while federal marshals prepared presentencing reports for the Kings Bay 7, the COVID-19 pandemic rose up to take more than 400,000 lives globally—reminding us all, if we have ears to hear, of the peril of complacency in the face of low-probability/high-risk events. It is no exaggeration, and not meant to diminish the suffering of those who have been ravaged by or lost loved ones to the novel corona virus, to say that a nuclear war would make the current struggles look like a paper cut by comparison.

In quiet, quintessential southern, Brunswick, Georgia, the spotlight that shone briefly on nuclear weapons during the trial in October shifted abruptly in May when the pandemic of racism re-entered the public’s line of sight and the world learned that Ahmaud Arbery, a young African-American man was hunted down by three armed white men. Arbery, out for a morning jog in February, the men in pickup trucks, shot and killed him. Going into May, none of the men had been indicted or faced any charges. They had, literally, gotten away with murder. Now the three men sit in the Glynn County jail where Fr. Steve Kelly has been for more than two years.

Because of COVID, Instead of gathering in the Brunswick court with activists and supporters, complete with a festival of hope, we gathered in spirit to listen to the court proceedings on a conference call line. The night before, friends, family, and supporters had gathered for a virtual blessing and liturgy via a Zoom/ Facebook event that will be available on our website later this week.

Martin Gugino, the elderly man who was knocked down to the sidewalk by Buffalo police and lay bleeding from his head is a long-time peace activist. He recently made a series of video statements in support of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 activists. He knows them from drone protests at The Hancock AFB in Syracuse, NY and Witness Against Torture actions in Washington, DC. Martin primarily works through the Western New York Peace Center. He texted today to let us know he is alive and in recovery.


Frida Berrigan's Statement


Frida Berrigan, Liz’s daughter, gave a spirited statement of support for her mother attesting to her lifelong commitment to peace. “…as a 46 year-old white citizen in a nation that is going to spend $720 plus billion on the military this year, even in the face of an economy smashing pandemic that has killed 100,000 people and laid bare the stark inequity and fundamental brokenness of every fiber of the social safety net, I am grateful that people like my mother are willing to stand up and say: “Trident is a crime.”

As a 46 year-old white citizen in a country where white supremacy and militarized policing are so emboldened that Derek Chavin can crush George Floyd’s life out of him in front of a crowd, in front of cameras, where the McMichaels father and son can gun down Ahmaud Arbery in broad daylight as he jogged through the streets of a quiet Georgia town, I draw hope and inspiration from white people who continue to invoke Dr. King’s framework of the giant triplets of racism, militarism and materialism… these weights that cripple our collective humanity. I draw hope and inspiration from my mom and her friends who declare that “Black Lives Matter” who wed their anti-nuclear analysis with an anti-racist ethos, and declare that the ultimate logic of trident is omnicide.

So, I am here as a daughter who doesn’t want her 80 year-old mother sent back to jail and a human being who wonders how anything ever changes if people like my mom aren't willing to take that risk.

I’m hoping you agree with the government that Liz McAlister has served enough time in jail already and you’ll help our family close this long and challenging episode of our lives today by sentencing her to time served. I also hope that you will recognize that as a person who owns nothing but the clothes on her back and the water colors she uses to paint with her grandchildren, you will waive all fines and restitution. "

(Frida's full statement is on the website: Sentencing Statement.)

Liz's Statement

Finally Liz spoke about what motivated her to join this action and take such risks. She quoted the biblical exhortation to “Beat swords into plowshares” from Isaiah and said, “All my life I've tried to follow the prophet, Isaiah, to stop learning war... All my life I have spoken and written against nuclear weapons and I believe these are contrary to life, destructive of life on every single level.”

The sentencing hearing began with technical glitches and was adjourned for more than a half hour at the beginning while these were worked out. There were 270 people listening to the audio feed when adjourned and due to some confusion about getting back on only 230 were on for the actual hearing which went on for another hour. Judge Wood said that she had read several hundred letters which had come to her from plowshares supporters and considered each of them. However, the judge then ruled against all the defense arguments for mitigation.

The defendants are considering doing another webinar before the end of June. Stay tuned.
                                                                         

EMAIL: Media: kbp7media@gmail.com
General: kingsbayplowshares@gmail.com
WEBSITE: www.kingsbayplowshares7.org
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/Kingsbayplowshares
TWITTER: https://www.twitter.com/kingsbayplow7
INSTAGRAM: https://instagram.com/kingsbayplowshares7

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This will make you smile!


Atlanta called in the NG. Know what the NG did?


https://imgur.com/gallery/3gaTKG3


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Still photo from Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove"released January 29, 1964

Enough is Enough: Global Nuclear Weapons 


Spending 2020

  In its report "Enough is Enough: Global Nuclear Weapons Spending 2020" the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has produced the first estimate in nearly a decade of global nuclear weapon spending, taking into account costs to maintain and build new nuclear weapons. ICAN estimates that the nine nuclear-armed countries spent $72.9 billion on their 13,000-plus nuclear weapons in 2019, equaling $138,699 every minute of 2019 on nuclear weapons, and a $7.1 billion increase from 2018.
These estimates (rounded to one decimal point) include nuclear warhead and nuclear-capable delivery systems operating costs and development where these expenditures are publicly available and are based on a reasonable percentage of total military spending on nuclear weapons when more detailed budget data is not available. ICAN urges all nuclear-armed states to be transparent about nuclear weapons expenditures to allow for more accurate reporting on global nuclear expenditures and better government accountability.
ICAN, May 2020
https://www.icanw.org/global_nuclear_weapons_spending_2020

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Shooting and looting started: 400 years ago

Shooting, looting, scalping, lynching,
Raping, torturing their way across
the continent—400 years ago—
Colonial settler thugs launched this
endless crimson tide rolling down on
Today…
Colonial settler thugs launched this
endless crimson tide leaving in-
visible yellow crime
scene tape crisscrossing Tallahassee
to Seattle; San Diego to Bangor… 
Shooting Seneca, Seminole, Creek,
Choctaw, Mohawk, Cayuga, Blackfeet,
Shooting Sioux, Shawnee, Chickasaw,
Chippewa before
Looting Lakota land; Looting Ohlone
Land—
Looting Ashanti, Fulani, Huasa, Wolof,
Yoruba, Ibo, Kongo, Mongo, Hutu, Zulu…
Labor.
Colonial settler thugs launched this
endless crimson tide—hot lead storms—
Shooting, looting Mexico for half of New
Mexico; a quarter of Colorado; some of
Wyoming and most of Arizona; Looting
Mexico for Utah, Nevada and California
So, next time Orange Mobutu, Boss Tweet,
is dirty like Duterte—howling for shooting;
Next time demented minions raise rifles to
shoot; Remind them that
Real looters wear Brooks Brothers suits;
Or gold braid and junk medals ‘cross their
chests. Real looters—with Capitalist Hill
Accomplices—
Steal trillions
Not FOX-boxes, silly sneakers, cheap clothes…
© 2020. Raymond Nat Turner, The Town Crier. All Rights Reserved.       



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CALL TO ACTION: 



Respected Elder Jalil Muntaqim 

Hospitalized with COVID-19





Widely respected elder Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), who in his teens joined the Black Panther Party, and who was convicted at 19 and has been incarcerated for 49 years in NYS prisons on a 25-year minimum sentence, became ill last week, and has tested positive for COVID-19. His health deteriorated over the weekend and he has been hospitalized since Monday.


For months, public health experts, faith leaders, Congress members, and hundreds of others have warned NYS officials that the prisons are potential death traps in the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing this, a New York State judge on April 27th ordered Jalil's temporary release from Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, NY, based on his extreme vulnerability to the virus. Jalil is 68 years old and suffers from serious chronic health conditions that can make COVID-19 deadly.


However, NYS Attorney General Letitia James, acting on behalf of NYS DOCCS Commissioner Anthony Annucci, appealed the ruling, blocking Jalil's release and forcing him to remain in prison. Just as we feared, Jalil, who was ordered released a month ago, eventually contracted COVID-19.


Tomorrow, May 28th, a NYS Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments from Jalil's attorney and the DOCCS attorney. We ask you to call and tweet the AG and DOCCS commissioner today and tomorrow urging them to withdraw the appeal so that Jalil can be released from the hospital to the community, where he has medical and other support awaiting him, rather than be returned to the prison where his recovery will be impeded, and where he will again be vulnerable to contracting another COVID-19 infection.


Here's what you can do:


TWEET!


@TishJames @NewYorkStateAG Withdraw your appeal of Judge Shick's 4/27 order releasing Anthony Bottom. If you had not appealed/blocked his release, Mr. Bottom wouldn't have contracted COVID & wouldn't be seriously ill now. Withdraw the appeal so he can go home, recover & stay safe


@NYSDOCCS Cmr. Annucci should withdraw his appeal of the release of Anthony Bottom. On 4/27, Judge Stephan Schick ordered Mr. Bottom's release to protect him from COVID-19, but DOCCS appealed, blocking release. Now he is ill. Withdraw appeal so he can go home, recover & stay safe


CALL  the Attorney General and Commissioner


Attorney General  Letitia James - (718) 560-2040



Sample Script For AG: 


My name is [X]. I am calling to urge the AG to withdraw her appeal of the release of Anthony Bottom, DIN# 77A4283, which was ordered by Sullivan County Supreme Court Judge Stephan G. Schick on April 27. Had the AG not originally appealed that decision, Mr. Bottom would not have contracted COVID-19, as he recently did, and would not be seriously ill and in the hospital now. The AG's appeal was responsible for his current life-threatening illness. She must now withdraw her appeal so that Mr. Bottom can return to his community after he recovers from COVID-19 and avoid being re-infected. The communities that elected her, and whom she claims to represent, demand this of her.




Commissioner Annucci - (518) 457-8126


Sample Script For Commissioner: 



My name is [X]. I am calling to urge Commissioner  Annucci to withdraw his opposition to the release of Anthony Bottom, DIN#77A4283. On April 27, Sullivan County Supreme Court Judge Stephan G. Schick ordered Mr. Bottom's release to protect him from COVID-19, but DOCCS appealed and he was not released. Predictably, Mr. Bottom contracted the virus and now he is hospitalized with COVID-19. If DOCCS had not appealed this decision, Mr. Bottom would not have contracted COVID-19, as he recently did, and would not be in the hospital now. DOCCS should withdraw the appeal so that Mr. Bottom can return to his community after he recovers from COVID-19 and avoid being re-infected. Alternatively, the Commissioner should expedite and ensure approval of Mr. Bottom's supplemented request for medical parole.  


Read more about the case (with additional articles coming soon):




Questions and comments may be sent to info@freedomarchives.org

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We Need Your Support: Unite to Send Deputy Chairman Kwame Shakur to Minneapolis!

In light of recent protests following the May 24, 2020, state-sanctioned lynching of George Floyd, a black man, and resident of Minneapolis, MN we recognize the protests happening there as an organic demonstration of resistance to imperialist oppression by the people and understand the importance of having the New Afrikan Black Panther Party on the ground in order to give proper leadership and direction to this important struggle. Because of this, we believe that it is necessary to get our Deputy Chairman, Kwame Shakur from Indiana, where he resides, to Minneapolis, MN.  We are calling on all of our friends and supporters to materially assist us in accomplishing this task!  Kwame will need resources that will enable him to travel to Minneapolis, MN, remain for as long as need be, and return to his home in IN.  You can donate to this cause through PayPal at PayPal.me/drayonmiller or through CashApp at $PantherLove2005.

Kwame has been actively organizing and leading mass demonstrations in Indianapolis IN in response to prisoner abuse and police killings there. His involvement and development of wide community support can be seen in the many live recordings made on the ground, which can be seen on his Facebook page (see link below) and podcasts on YouTube. We want to take this revolutionary guidance to Minneapolis and develop new forces to build and advance the work of the mass struggle there. We want boots on the ground! All power to the people!
DONATE
Facebook
Website
Copyright © *2020* *Kevin Rashid Johnson*, All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:

Kevin Rashid Johnson
D.O.C. #264847, G-20-2C
Pendleton Correctional Facility 4490 W. Reformatory Rd

PendletonIN  46064




Want to change how you receive these emails?


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Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin 



conviction integrity unit—confession and all





Petition update - Please sign at the link above!
May 23, 2020 —  

We have submitted our application to the @FultonCountyDA #ConvictionIntegrityUnit demanding a retrial for Imam Jamil Al-Amin FKA H. Rap Brown. 

We must now show the establishment that we care more about justice than they do about corruption and injustice. 

The proof of misdeeds is clear, the proof of innocence is clear, a retrial or release are the only acceptable options. 

We make the news so let our voices once again be heard loudly and in unison…we demand a retrial…we demand justice!   #FreeImamJamil

Questions and comments may be sent to info@freedomarchives.org

To unsubscribe contact: http://freedomarchives.org/mailman/options/ppnews_freedomarchives.org



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#FreeOurYouth Chicago
Chicago community members have been active in #FreeOurYouth actions to call for the release of incarcerated young people during the pandemic. Photo: Sarah-Ji @loveandstrugglephotos 

Dear Friend,

More than 50 years ago, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign taught us what COVID-19 remind us of today. Living wages, health care for all, jobs, and labor rights are issues of right vs. wrong and life vs. death.

On June 20, please join AFSC and partners across the U.S. for a digital gathering of the new Poor People’s Campaign to demand our government prioritize the needs of the poor and working class—and ensure all people have the resources they need to thrive.

Here are this week’s resources to help you stay informed and support your activism.  

Video: How we're responding to COVID-19 in the U.S. and around the world: AFSC’s Joyce Ajlouny, Kerri Kennedy, and Sayrah Namaste share how AFSC is responding to the needs of communities around the world in this pandemic. And join us on Facebook every Thursday at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT for our weekly updates from AFSC staff! (Facebook)

AFSC and partners file class-action lawsuit demanding the release of all immigrants from for-profit detention center: One employee has already died from the virus, and 18 people in detention and another 17 staff members have tested positive. (Gothamist)

As we honor health care professionals, let's remember Razan al-Najjar and all health care workers in Palestine: AFSC’s Mike Merryman-Lotze explains the challenges facing health professionals in Palestine and invites all to join AFSC’s social media day of action on June 1.

If the state fails to act, prisons will become death camps: New Jersey must immediately release more people from prison and provide adequate medical and social services to those incarcerated, co-writes AFSC’s Bonnie Kerness in this op-ed with attorneys Jean Ross and Daniel McCarey. (Star-Ledger)

4 things you need to know about the Supreme Court case on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals): A decision on the fate of hundreds of thousands of young people is expected any day now—here’s what could happen and how we can advocate for permanent protection for DACA recipients, writes AFSC’s Peniel Ibe.

The call to #FreeOurYouth during COVID-19: In Chicago, community members are demanding the release of incarcerated youth—and real investments in their health and future, writes AFSC’s Mary Zerkel.

Be well and take care. 

DONATE NOW

AFSC.org  |  unsubscribe  |  Donate 
Follow us online:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Resolution for Funding for the Undocumented




Whereas, Governor Newsom recently announced the creation of a $125 million emergency relief fund for undocumented workers, none of whom are eligible for the federal stimulus, the centerpiece being a one-time payment of $500 to 150,000 individuals;

Whereas, the undocumented pay $3 billion in state and local taxes every year;[1]

Whereas, California's cost-of-living is extraordinarily high;[2]

Resolved:  Adult School Teachers United considers the one-time $500 grant to undocumented workers at best, token.  It is barely 25 percent of the weekly wage or six percent of the monthly wage the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) considers necessary to lift a family of four in the Bay Area above the poverty line. This is approximately $47.50-an-hour total per household before taxes extrapolating from figures provided by HUD.

As the fifth largest economy in the world, and with Silicon Valley, agribusiness, defense contractors and Hollywood sitting on huge capital reserves, California must provide a living wage to all. Instead it has failed to even match the $600 a week Unemployment Insurance (UI) boost provided by the federal government which itself is grossly inadequate.

We will attempt to circulate our position widely in the labor movement and in the immigrants' rights community, and we call for united labor actions to fight for the necessary level of financial support.”

Contact: 

Kristen Pursley, President,

Adult School Teachers United (ASTU)

(510)-741-8359




[1] https://www.kqed.org/news/11809657/new-covid-19-relief-benefits-leaves-out-some-undocumented-immigrants
[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44725026
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/10/americas-10-most-expensive-states-to-live-in-2019.html

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Veterans Join Call for a Global Ceasefire, The Lasting Effects of War Book Discussion, Sir, No Sir Viewing, VFP's Online Convention, Workshop Proposals, Convention FAQ, No More COVID-19 Money For the Pentagon, Repeal the AUMF, Community Conversation on Hybrid Warfare, St Louis VFP Delivers VA Lunch, In the News and Calendar




Veterans Join Call for a Global Ceasefire 


Veterans For Peace, as a United Nations Department of Global Communication affiliated NGO, is most gratified to see UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres make his plea for a worldwide ceasefire during this global pandemic. 

The first line of the Preamble of the UN's Charter says that they originated to save “succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. But sadly, because the UN was created by the victors of WW2 who remain the powers of the world, and because the UN depends for funding on those same militarily and economically dominant nation-states, primarily the U.S., much more often than not the UN is very quiet on war. 

Please join Veterans For Peace in appealing to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft to support the Secretary General's call for a GLOBAL CEASEFIRE! 


For more information about events go to:

https://www.veteransforpeace.org/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=fa5082af-9325-47a7-901c-710e85091ee1




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Courage to Resist
COURAGE TO RESIST ~ SUPPORT THE TROOPS WHO REFUSE TO FIGHT!
www.couragetoresist.org ~ 510.488.3559 ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist

484 Lake Park Ave # 41
OaklandCA 94610-2730
United States
Unsubscribe from couragetoresist.org 

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From Business Insider 2018

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"The biggest block from having society in harmony with the universe is the belief in a lie that says it’s not realistic or humanly possible." 

"If Obama taught me anything it’s that it don’t matter who you vote for in this system. There’s nothing a politician can do that the next one can’t undo. You can’t vote away the ills of society people have to put our differences aside ban together and fight for the greater good, not vote for the lesser evil."

—Johnny Gould (Follow @tandino415 on Instagram)

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When faced with the opportunity to do good, I really think it’s the instinct of humanity to do so. It’s in our genetic memory from our earliest ancestors. It’s the altered perception of the reality of what being human truly is that’s been indoctrinated in to every generation for the last 2000 years or more that makes us believe that we are born sinners. I can’t get behind that one. We all struggle with certain things, but I really think that all the “sinful” behavior is learned and wisdom and goodwill is innate at birth.  —Johnny Gould (Follow @tandino415 on Instagram)


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Support Major Tillery, Friend of Mumia, Innocent, Framed, Now Ill




Major Tillery (with hat) and family


Dear Friends of the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia,

Major Tillery, a prisoner at SCI Chester and a friend of Mumia, may have caught the coronavirus. Major is currently under lockdown at SCI Chester, where a coronavirus outbreak is currently taking place. Along with the other prisoners at SCI Chester, he urgently needs your help.

Major was framed by the Pennsylvania District Attorney and police for a murder which took place in 1976. He has maintained his innocence throughout the 37 years he has been incarcerated, of which approximately 20 were spent in solitary confinement. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture has said that 15 days of solitary confinement constitutes torture.

When Mumia had Hepatitis C and was left to die by the prison administration at SCI Mahanoy, Major Tillery was the prisoner who confronted the prison superintendent and demanded that they treat Mumia. (see https://www.justiceformajortillery.org/messing-with-major.html). Although Mumia received medical treatment, the prison retaliated against Major for standing up to the prison administration. He was transferred to another facility, his cell was searched and turned inside out repeatedly, and he lost his job in the prison as a Peer Facilitator.

SCI Chester, where Major is currently incarcerated, has been closed to visitors since mid-March. Fourteen guards and one prisoner are currently reported to be infected with the coronavirus. Because the prison has not tested all the inmates, there is no way to know how many more inmates have coronavirus. Major has had a fever, chills and a sore throat for several nights. Although Major has demanded testing for himself and all prisoners, the prison administration has not complied.

For the past ten days, there has been no cleaning of the cell block. It has been weeks since prisoners have been allowed into the yard to exercise. The food trays are simply being left on the floor. There have been no walk-throughs by prison administrators. The prisoners are not allowed to have showers; they are not allowed to have phone calls; and they are not permitted any computer access. 

This coronavirus outbreak at SCI Chester is the same situation which is playing out in California prisons right now, about which the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia, along with other groups, organized a car caravan protest at San Quentin last week. Prisons are enclosed indoor spaces and are already an epicenter of the coronavirus, like meatpacking plants and cruise ships. If large numbers of prisoners are not released, the coronavirus will infect the prisons, as well as surrounding communities, and many prisoners will die. Failing to release large numbers of prisoners at this point is the same as executing them. We call for "No Execution by COVID-19"!

Major is close to 70 years old, and has a compromised liver and immune system, as well as heart problems. He desperately needs your help. 

Please write and call Acting Superintendent Kenneth Eason at:

Kenneth Eason, Acting Superintendent
SCI Chester
500 E. 4th St.
Chester, PA 19013

Telephone: (610) 490-5412

Email: keason@pa.gov (Prison Superintendent). maquinn@pa.gov (Superintendent's Assistant)
Please also call the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections at:Department of Corrections
1920 Technology Parkway
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050

Telephone: (717) 737-4531
This telephone number is for SCI Camp Hill, which is the current number for DOC.
Reference Major's inmate number: AM 9786

Email: ra-contactdoc@pa.gov
Demand that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections immediately:

1) Provide testing for all inmates and staff at SCI Chester;
2) Disinfect all cells and common areas at SCI Chester, including sinks, toilets, eating areas and showers;
3) Provide PPE (personal protective equipment) for all inmates at SCI Chester;
4) Provide access to showers for all prisoners at SCI Chester, as a basic hygiene measure;
5) Provide yard access to all prisoners at SCI Chester;
6) Provide phone and internet access to all prisoners at SCI Chester;
7) Immediately release prisoners from SCI Chester, including Major Tillery, who already suffers from a compromised immune system, in order to save their lives from execution by COVID-19.

It has been reported that prisoners are now receiving shower access. However, please insist that prisoners be given shower access and that all common areas are disinfected.


In solidarity,

The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal




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Kiah Morris

May 7 at 6:44 AM

So, in MY lifetime....

Black people are so tired. 😓

We can’t go jogging (#AhmaudArbery).

We can’t relax in the comfort of our own homes (#BothemJean and #AtatianaJefferson).

We can't ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride).

We can't have a cellphone (#StephonClark).

We can't leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards).

We can't play loud music (#JordanDavis).

We can’t sell CD's (#AltonSterling).

We can’t sleep (#AiyanaJones)

We can’t walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown).

We can’t play cops and robbers (#TamirRice).

We can’t go to church (#Charleston9).

We can’t walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin).

We can’t hold a hair brush while leaving our own bachelor party (#SeanBell).

We can’t party on New Years (#OscarGrant).

We can’t get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland).

We can’t lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile).

We can't break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones).

We can’t shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford)p^p.

We can’t have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher).

We can’t read a book in our own car (#KeithScott).

We can’t be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover).

We can’t decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese).

We can’t ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans).

We can’t cash our check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood).

We can’t take out our wallet (#AmadouDiallo).

We can’t run (#WalterScott).

We can’t breathe (#EricGarner).

We can’t live (#FreddieGray).

We’re tired.

Tired of making hashtags.

Tired of trying to convince you that our #BlackLivesMatter too.

Tired of dying.

Tired.

Tired.

Tired.

So very tired.

(I don’t know who created this. I just know there are so many more names to be added and names we may never hear of.)

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Articles


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1) Mass Death Is Not Inevitable
Some say we’re doomed. But science and public spending have saved us from pandemics worse than this one.
“They also agreed that whether immigrants had brought some diseases or simply suffered from them, no one was safe until everyone was safe, so they made public health universal.”
By Donald G. McNeil Jr., July 15, 2020
Mr. McNeil is a science reporter for The New York Times and has covered epidemics since 2002.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/15/sunday-review/coronavirus-history-pandemics.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

A depiction by the 17th-century painter Nicolas Poussin of a plague described in the Book of Samuel. Credit...G. Dagli Orti/De Agostini, via Getty Images

St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps members during the influenza epidemic in 1918. That epidemic killed 675,000 Americans. Credit...Universal History Archive, via Getty Images


Nearly 140,000 Americans have been lost to coronavirus, and many experts fear the deaths will only accelerate in the fall as cold weather forces us indoors. By year’s end, half as many Americans may have died as did in the four years of World War II.

And yet we are still arguing over how to prevent this — each state struggling over how much lockdown to impose and what its governor can make its citizens do.

“You know the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance?” asked Dr. Emily Landon, a coronavirus expert at the University of Chicago medical school. “I think the American people are in all five of them — but different parts of the country are in different stages.”

As death stalks us, especially our elders, have we simply become inured to the idea that they are doomed?

The stock market appears to have priced in a huge wave of deaths. In the 2008-2009 recession, it fell 50 percent and took four years to recover. In March it fell only 34 percent and has made up much of that ground already. Looked at with Wall Street’s bloodless arithmetic, that makes sense: Most of the deaths are among the very elderly and nursing home residents, who no longer travel or dine out or contribute much to the economy, and who are a burden on the struggling Medicare and Social Security Trust Funds.

One can even argue that the acceptance of death as master of us all is part of the human psyche. But because of modern medicine, we have been out of touch with our ultimate fate for generations.

We’ve all heard of the Black Death and perhaps the Plague of Justinian, events that may have killed up to a third of mankind and rewrote the fates of empires. They seem lost in the mists of time.

But not that long back, our great-great-great-great-grandparents felt the omnipresence of death in ways we will never know.

There is chart famous among epidemiologists titled “The Conquest of Pestilence in New York City.” Produced by New York City’s health department, it tracks and explains deaths in the city from 1805 to the present.

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene


At first glance, it looks innocuous, like the ups and downs of the Dow Jones index. But the longer you stare at the fine print, the more horrified you become.

This past March, before coronavirus cases began to mount, the annual death rate in New York City was about six per 1,000 New Yorkers. The virus’s first wave added about 2.5 more deaths per 1,000 to that baseline. By contrast, from 1800 into the 1850s, deaths in the city rose in a relentless series of epidemic spikes, year after year, with only brief respites in between.

The annual baseline back then was about 25 deaths per 1,000 New Yorkers, and in some years the toll reached 50 per 1,000. In other words, in bad years, New Yorkers saw twice as many people around them die as usual. And they were used to seeing about four times as much death as we now do.

The sharpest peaks were the cholera epidemics of 1832, 1849 and 1854. But plagues came in waves, sometimes more than one simultaneously: yellow fever, smallpox, measles, scarlet fever, diphtheria, typhus and meningitis.

Other than cholera and typhus, most of those were childhood diseases that adults were immune to because they had survived them, so the chart is a parabola of maternal grief, each spike another nail in a hundred small coffins.

The death rate began dropping after the 1860s. New Yorkers — both citizens and doctors — had finally stopped arguing and reached consensus on some basic issues.

First of all, most finally accepted the “germ theory” of disease, acknowledging that it was caused by invisible enemies, not by swamps, trash, manure or the other nuisances that underlay the “miasma theory,” which held that bad smells caused disease. (Only a century earlier, Americans had given up on the “humors theory,” which posited that disease was caused by imbalances between blood, urine, sweat and bile that had to be rebalanced by bleeding, sweating or purging.)

They also agreed that whether immigrants had brought some diseases or simply suffered from them, no one was safe until everyone was safe, so they made public health universal.

As a result, New Yorkers took certain steps — sometimes very expensive and contentious, but all based on science: They dug sewers to pipe filth into the Hudson and East Rivers instead of letting it pool in the streets. In 1842, they built the Croton Aqueduct to carry fresh water to Manhattan. In 1910, they chlorinated its water to kill more germs. In 1912, they began requiring dairies to heat their milk because a Frenchman named Pasteur had shown that doing so spared children from tuberculosis. Over time, they made smallpox vaccination mandatory.

Libertarians battled almost every step. Some fought sewers and water mains being dug through their properties, arguing that they owned perfectly good wells and cesspools. Some refused smallpox vaccines until the Supreme Court put an end to that in 1905, in Jacobson v. Massachusetts.

In the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, many New Yorkers donned masks but 4,000 San Franciscans formed an Anti-Mask League. (The city’s mayor, James Rolph, was fined $50 for flouting his own health department’s mask order.) Slowly, science prevailed, and death rates went down.

Today, Americans are facing the same choice our ancestors did: We can listen to scientists and spend money to save lives, or we can watch our neighbors die.

“The people who say ‘Let her rip, let’s go for herd immunity’ — that’s just public-health nihilism,” said Dr. Joia S. Mukherjee, the chief medical office of Partners in Health, a medical charity fighting the virus in Massachusetts. “How many deaths do we have to accept to get there?”

A vaccine may be close at hand, and so may treatments like monoclonal antibodies that will cut our losses.

We need not accept death as our overlord — we can simply hang on and outlast him.

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2) Please Don’t Call Them Heroes
Parents and teachers need a real plan to reopen schools safely.
“I’m reminded of that famous presidential call to sacrifice: Ask not what your country can do for you … because, honestly, it probably won’t do much of anything, and your best bet when facing a crisis is to just learn to live with it. (This sounds like a joke, but it’s the actual plan: “The virus is with us, but we need to live with it,” one anonymous administration official recently told NBC News.)”
By Farhad Manjoo, July 15, 2020
Opinion Columnist
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/15/opinion/schools-reopening.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
Audra Melton for The New York Times


In America, you should always get a little suspicious when politicians suddenly start calling you a hero. It’s a well-worn trick; they’re buttering you up before sacrificing you to the gods of unconstrained capitalism and governmental neglect.

A few months ago, it was nurses, doctors and other essential workers who were hailed as heroes — a perfectly accurate and heartwarming sentiment, but also one meant to obscure the sorry reality that the world’s richest country was asking health care workers to treat coronavirus patients without providing adequate protective gear.

“Please don’t call me a hero,” a nurse in Brooklyn wrote on a protest sign at the time. “I am being martyred against my will.”

Now, it’s America’s parents and teachers who are being valorized for doing a job that really should not require putting their lives on the line.

At a White House event last week to encourage the nation’s schools to reopen, Vice President Mike Pence laid the heroism on thick. Parents and teachers, he said, were “two categories of heroes that emerged” in the crisis. Since the pandemic is all but over, at least in the magical thinking of the Trump administration, Pence wants parents and teachers to again put on our capes and save the day. “To open up America again, we got to open up America’s schools,” he said.

I want schools to reopen as much any parent does. My wife and I were driven to the verge of breakdown this spring while trying to home-school our kids while working from home, and I am freaking out about having to do that again in the fall.

But parents and teachers would be wise to reject any invitation to unnecessary heroism. I don’t want educating my kids to be a heroic act of American defiance — I want it to be ordinary. And I’d rather not sacrifice my children’s teachers, either, so that America’s economy can begin humming once more.

Again and again in this crisis, the federal government’s callous incompetence has left Americans with no good options. Early research on school reopening suggests that classrooms can be safe when the virus is contained or declining, and as long as schools take necessary precautions to minimize the chance that classrooms become superspreaders. But in much of the nation, the virus remains uncontained, and so we face a grim future. There will likely be danger and chaos if the schools do not reopen, and there will be danger and chaos if they do.

The needs of children and working parents have long been ignored by American lawmakers, but I’ve never felt the government’s neglect as viscerally as in its inability to make school safe again during a pandemic.

Shouldn’t getting our kids back to school have been a primary goal of the federal government throughout the summer? What possible excuse can anyone muster for falling down on this job?

I’m reminded of that famous presidential call to sacrifice: Ask not what your country can do for you … because, honestly, it probably won’t do much of anything, and your best bet when facing a crisis is to just learn to live with it. (This sounds like a joke, but it’s the actual plan: “The virus is with us, but we need to live with it,” one anonymous administration official recently told NBC News.)

Experts say there are many ways to mitigate the risks of the coronavirus while reopening the schools. The most obvious of these would have been to reduce the spread of the virus, but you know how well that’s going.

The federal government could also have provided the hundreds of billions of dollars that school district officials say is necessary to remake education during a pandemic. We could have funded hazard pay for teachers and paid time off for parents, and come up with a plan to repurpose office buildings or gyms for the space required to teach students while social distancing.

In May, Democrats in the House passed a bill that calls for $58 billion in new funds for schools. But the Republican Senate has not taken up the measure, and President Trump has done little more than post several all-caps tweets demanding that they reopen. In cable-news interviews this weekend, Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, refused to say if schools should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s health guidelines, which calls for strict social distancing, masks and the installation of physical barriers and improved ventilation to reduce the spread of the virus.

DeVos’s plan, like Trump’s, appears to be little more than wishful thinking: Go to school. Don’t worry about it. Things will be fine. You’re a hero!

Forgive me if I feel less like a hero than like a chump. This week several large school districts, including Los Angeles and San Diego, announced that it’s too dangerous to open for in-person instruction. I expect that we’ll see a wave of others deciding the same, leaving parents across the country in an impossible bind.

There is a danger that frustrated parents blame teachers for the crisis. After all, distance learning has been a disaster. It’s unfair, and likely impossible, for kids to learn by themselves off a screen, and in my experience, remote learning requires a great deal of parental oversight, which is difficult or impossible for most overburdened parents.


But as I tried and failed to educate my kids during months under quarantine, I gained new appreciation for my children’s teachers, and I’m wary of asking more of them. Spending a day teaching kids has got to be one of the most difficult and most thankless job our society asks professionals to do. It doesn’t strike me as fair to demand that teachers now risk their lives, too, just because our government couldn’t be bothered to protect them. Teachers shouldn’t have to be heroes to do their jobs; educating our children should be heroism enough.

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3) Congress, Do Your Job: Help Americans Without One
Federal aid is about to lapse even as the coronavirus crisis rolls on.
By The Editorial Board, July 14, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/opinion/coronavirus-unemployment-stimulus-congress.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

George Etheredge for The New York Times



Unemployment benefits provide people who lose jobs with a little help for a little while. The money is not really enough to live on, by design: People are supposed to find a new job.

During an economic crisis, however, people can’t find jobs. They need money to live on.

Congress recognized this reality in March when it responded to the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic by increasing unemployment benefits. But the expansion expires at the end of this month, even as the pandemic continues to rage. Congress, after dragging its feet for months, has all but run out of time to prevent a lapse in the distribution of extra aid.

The nation’s elected representatives need to act immediately to extend emergency benefits, and to authorize the extra aid to continue for the duration of the crisis.

Because crises are both inevitable and unpredictable — and because the federal government is slow to react whenever a crisis begins to unfold — the government also needs a set of rules that automatically switches the unemployment benefits program from normal mode to crisis mode, and back again, based on the evolution of economic conditions.

The need for more unemployment benefits is just part of a broader set of measures Congress must take to shore up the economy. State and local governments urgently need help, including funding for schools. So do businesses that the pandemic has shuttered, and health care providers it has overwhelmed.

But those who have lost jobs are singularly vulnerable — especially because pandemic job losses have been concentrated among low-wage workers with little money in the bank.

The program created in March has two main components. First, Congress expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits to include self-employed workers, gig workers and others who were previously ineligible. Americans deserve to have that adjustment made permanent: It moves the safety net of unemployment benefits more squarely beneath the modern work force. As of the end of June, more than 14 million American workers had qualified for benefits under the expansion out of a total of 33 million workers drawing unemployment benefits.

The second component of the rescue package gave unemployed workers a $600 weekly payment from the federal government on top of their standard unemployment check, which averages $373 a week, although the amount varies widely by state. The average recipient is thus getting nearly $1,000 a week. People also can collect the benefits for up to 39 weeks, up from as little as 13 weeks before the crisis.

Federal aid, including the expansion of unemployment benefits, has helped to stabilize the finances, and thus the lives, of millions of American households and the communities of which they are a part. It’s not as good as a job: Among other things, millions of people have lost their health insurance. But even as the pandemic has pushed unemployment to the highest levels since the Great Depression, research suggests the aid is preventing any meaningful increase in the share of families living in poverty.

These are individual benefits with societal impact. Workers on federal aid can afford to make rent payments, easing the pressure on landlords. They can afford to shop at local stores, supporting hard-pressed small businesses.

When Congress slapped a July expiration date on the program, there was reason to hope that the United States might have brought the pandemic under control by now. Other nations have done so. But the United States has failed to control the spread of the virus, and fear continues to curtail economic activity. The need for continued aid is undeniable.

The House of Representatives passed a bill in May that would extend the aid program through January, but few economic analysts expect the economy to recover by then — particularly as the first wave of the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly across the Sun Belt. While any arbitrary deadline risks another battle over reauthorization, a January deadline would be particularly fraught. After the Republican Party lost control of the White House in 2009, during the last economic crisis, congressional Republicans decided it was politically expedient to oppose federal spending that was needed to revive the economy. Democrats would be wise to take the lesson.

The size of the $600 bonus is also a subject of controversy. The figure was chosen because lawmakers wanted to provide workers with the money they would have earned, but the antediluvian conditions in many state unemployment offices made it impossible to tailor benefits. Instead, Congress picked a figure that would make the average worker whole.

The White House, and some congressional Republicans, are upset that some workers are getting more money than they earned in their former jobs. They argue this could discourage workers from seeking new jobs.

This is not an immediate problem: At the moment, the United States is suffering a lack of jobs, not a lack of willing workers. Moreover, there is a ready solution: a plan to reduce the payments as the economy recovers.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, introduced legislation early this month to continue the emergency aid on a state-by-state basis until the jobless rates in each state recede. Expanded eligibility would last until unemployment dropped to 5.5 percent. Expanded benefits would drop by $100 when the rate fell below 11 percent, and by another $100 each time the rate dropped by another percentage point, ending when the rate hit 6 percent.

Congress can avoid the need for similarly ad hoc policymaking during future crises by providing funding for states to fix the problems that have impeded the distribution of benefits — and by adopting rules to automatically expand and contract supplemental benefits.

Claudia Sahm, then a Federal Reserve economist, wrote in a paper published last year that the movement of the unemployment rate could be used as a reliable indicator. She found that since the 1970s, when a three-month average of the unemployment rate rose half a percentage point above the lowest rate during the previous year, the economy was in a recession.

Ms. Sahm, now the director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, has proposed using this “Sahm rule” as a trigger to initiate aid programs such as supplemental unemployment benefits. The emergency aid would then continue until the unemployment rate fell back to that threshold. In the current crisis, emergency aid would continue until the unemployment rate, now 11.1 percent, receded to 5.3 percent.

That would be a smarter way to provide workers with necessary and timely aid.

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4) ‘Coming Out of the Woodwork’: Black Lives Matter in Small-Town America
A multiracial future has appeared, along with unprecedented conversations about race.
By Campbell Robertson, July 15, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/15/us/black-lives-matter-protests-small-towns.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

Protesters gathered at the main square in downtown Chambersburg, Pa., for the Juneteenth Love Demonstration held on June 20. Credit...Valerie Plesch for The New York Times



CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Nikki Wilkerson was used to thinking of herself as the “small brown girl” growing up in rural Pennsylvania.

She has been eyed skeptically while out shopping and questioned by the police for no clear reason at all. But she had resigned herself to keeping quiet about racism, which her white friends never seemed to notice even when it happened right in front of them. Nobody around here ever talked about any of this. It’s just what it was.

And yet there one afternoon in early June, right in the middle of the county seat, she happened upon it: a crowd of white people demanding justice for Black lives. They would be joined by Black high school students, children of Latino farmworkers, “gays, lesbians, queer, transgender, whatever,” Ms. Wilkerson, 34, said. “This was not the Chambersburg I grew up in. I had no idea. All of these people are just coming out of the woodwork.”

The sight was inspiring, she said. But also frustrating. “Why weren’t we doing this a long time ago?”

Black Lives Matter could be responsible for the largest protest movement in U.S. history, which sprang up in countless cities and small towns after George Floyd was killed by the police in May. While the street protests have tapered off in most places, newly minted activists in small towns are still discussing plans for new events or standing in the back of otherwise empty City Council meetings to make their demands for police reform.

But beyond any policy changes, which could be slow in coming, a significant consequence of recent weeks could be the realization for many Americans in small towns that their neighbors are more multiracial and less willing to be quiet about things than most anyone had assumed.

Across the state in Lehighton, Pa., a town that is 95 percent white, Montreo Thompson, 26, pulled a lawn chair into his driveway in early June and held up a Black Lives Matter poster. Within days he was helping lead marches in towns all over the region, and also protesting alongside Black people he had never seen before — some of whom lived down the street. “They were literally walking distance from our house and I never knew they were there.”

Small-town America has never been racially and politically monolithic. After the 2016 election and especially in places where President Trump romped, thousands of women who were aghast at the result became politically active for the first time in their lives, meeting in library basements and organizing small but regular rallies. Still, that movement, powered chiefly by middle-aged, middle-class women in the suburbs and exurbs, was in many ways just a preamble to the mass wave of protests following Mr. Floyd’s death.

For weeks, protesters in Chambersburg gathered on the sidewalk in front of Central Presbyterian Church, a bronze-steepled landmark dedicated in 1871, just seven years after the town was burned to the ground by Confederate soldiers. The Rev. Scott Bowerman, who has been pastor of the church for eight years, called Mr. Trump’s election “an apocalyptic moment.” It was a deliberate word choice, he said, based in the root meaning of apocalypse: a revelation.

The 2016 election, Mr. Bowerman said, revealed that Franklin County, where Chambersburg sits, was not only conservative but enamored of a brand of America-first politics that truly electrified many of the white voters, who unfurled flags for Mr. Trump in a way they never had for any another candidate. Mr. Trump won the county by more than 45 points, 71 to 25 percent.

But the election also revealed a silent minority, long quiet about their politics. Many already knew one another (“the usual suspects,” Mr. Bowerman said) but they began forming overtly liberal groups — Franklin County Coalition for Progress, Community Uniting, Concerned Citizens of Franklin County — planning events to celebrate Pride month, for instance, and digging into issues like redistricting reform. A new organization called Racial Reconciliation began holding discussion groups at the Presbyterian church, with mostly white attendees.

But then the George Floyd demonstrations began. These protesters were not the Trump faithful, nor were they members of the so-called resistance. At first, nobody recognized them at all.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Linda Thomas Worthy, a founder of Racial Reconciliation and one of the county’s most outspoken figures on racial issues. She would drive through downtown during the first week of the protests to try to understand who all of the people coming out to denounce racism were. “I wanted to see how this unfolds.”

It started with Shiloh Hershey, 24, who had never done anything like this and declined to be interviewed. She is white. But, said Amy Stewart, her mother, Ms. Hershey knows something about being marginalized, having come out as transgender several years ago. “I know what it’s like to have a child who can be hated for who they are,” Ms. Stewart said.

On the last afternoon in May, Ms. Hershey and her mother walked downtown after gathering up markers, poster board and a concoction of baking soda and water to pour in their eyes if they were tear gassed. The protest soon became a standing appointment, growing larger and more eclectic by the day, filled mostly by people who did not know one another and had never protested before.

The protesters were mostly white but not exclusively so, not in a town where more than a third of the students in the local schools are minorities. Lexi Leydig, 23, who is mixed race and was raised by a Guatemalan stepfather, was there, as was Maricruz Cabrera, 26, a Mexican-American who waits tables down the street at Falafel Shack.

Protests followed in nearly every town in Franklin County: Shippensburg up the road, little Greencastle and Mercersburg, and Waynesboro, where a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan showed up to jeer.

The politics of the protesters were deeply eclectic. Many of those at the demonstrations in Chambersburg were avowedly apolitical, with little faith in either major party or electoral politics at all. In Shippensburg, a young Black nursing assistant who announced the rally there was joined by a Republican, a libertarian, a Democrat and a young man who described himself as a “radical Christian,” all committed to defunding the police.

The most unexpected champion, perhaps, has been the Franklin County district attorney, Matt Fogal, a Republican. For weeks he had been stewing, unhappy about how partisan the pandemic response had become and about the president’s provocations. Then one afternoon he heard the protest out of his office window.

“I’m listening to them out there and just people honking in support, absolutely peaceful, a contrast to some of the images that we had been seeing,” he said. He sent a statement to local media. “Black lives matter. Period,” it said, going on to urge people to put country over party in November. The former chairman of the local Republican Party called the statement “thoroughly disgusting.”

Few involved in the protests believe that the politics of the county had somehow been transformed overnight. Trump flags still hang from front porches all over the county, and on local Facebook pages, many commenters mock the protesters as ignorant and wasting their time. Many of the young people doubt much will come of this at all. “Once everything slows down,” said Ms. Leydig, “people will just go back to their ways.”

Still, there are some developments. The district attorney is forming an advisory group on racial matters. The meetings of Racial Reconciliation, which held a large demonstration in late June, are markedly bigger than they were. The liberal groups have begun letter-writing campaigns to downtown businesses, urging them to publicly support Black Lives Matter.

The protests themselves, fueled by the young and often working class, have been hard to keep going. A young woman who had taken over the organizing in Chambersburg soon found her days growing too complicated, especially after her mother was suddenly evicted from public housing.

The task of organizing transferred to a local graduate student, Kristi Rines, 30, who tries to keep a regular appointment in front of the church, taking meticulous notes about the ratio of honks to jeers (“3 p.m. — 4 p.m.; 9 incidents of backlash, 77 incidents of support”) but often standing by herself in the sweltering heat.

Ms. Wilkerson has tried to show up, but it is hard with children and a full-time job. She teaches teenagers at a private juvenile detention center in the county, and as one of the few Black employees, has been one of the only ones who will talk with the boys there about what has been happening outside.

“They heard how they’re changing names of syrup bottles and they’re canceling TV shows,” Ms. Wilkerson said. Her students tell her that they had never asked for any of those things, instead wanting “an end to watching my friends get beat up and watching my uncles and fathers and brothers get arrested over small amounts of marijuana.”

“They don’t have much faith in the system changing,” Ms. Wilkerson said. She tells them she hopes it will. “That’s all I can really say.”

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5) The Return of Jane Elliott
Before anti-racist reading lists and Instagram allyship, white people were presented with the “Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes” exercise. Its 86-year-old creator can’t believe she’s still being asked about it.
By Brianna Holt, July 15, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/15/style/jane-elliott-anti-racism.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage
Jane Elliott Credit...Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times, via Getty Images


The day after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, the schoolteacher Jane Elliott scrapped her lesson plan — teaching her third graders the Sioux prayer about not judging another person until you have “walked a mile in his moccasins” — for an experiential learning exercise.

She split the children at her all-white school in Riceville, Iowa, into two groups based on their eye color: brown-eyed students in one, blue-eyed students and anyone else in the other. The members of both groups received treatment based on that one arbitrary quality, the pigmentation of their irises.

Over the course of two days of instruction, she convinced the blue-eyed students that they were not as smart, worthy or human as their brown-eyed peers, who were rewarded for their supposed superiority. The exercise demonstrated for the students how easily prejudice could be learned, and hopefully unlearned.

“Racism is ignorance based on being miseducated. Racism is a result of being indoctrinated instead of educated,” Ms. Elliott said by phone from her home in Iowa in early July. “I don’t sugarcoat racism.”

When teaching, or speaking to a reporter, she uses a strict tone. There is no tolerance for talk of colorblindness, no coddling of so-called white fragility. There is only understanding how it feels to be mistreated based on meaningless standards.

Her uncompromising, one-size-fits-all approach to anti-racist education differs from that of many contemporary writers and thinkers, who emphasize the importance of hard conversations, visible allyship, box ticking and historical fluency. Perhaps it is because she has seen history repeat itself.

“I was born the year Adolf Hitler and Franklin Roosevelt came to power, in 1933. I remember what the Nazis did from 1933 until 1945. And I saw that same thing happening in this country where skin color is concerned,” Ms. Elliott said, recalling the 1960s.

Though Black thought leaders had spoken directly to white people about systemic racism for years, as a white woman herself, Ms. Elliott was able to make the pain of discrimination personal for them with the “Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes” exercise. It was not unusual to observe tears streaming from the eyes of blue-eyed participants, who had likely never experienced serious discrimination based on their appearance.

That the exercise resonated with people led to a second career for Ms. Elliott. She held lectures and workshops all across the United States, including an appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 1992, a conversation with Angela Davis in 2018 and a seat on “Red Table Talk” that same year.

Now, in the midst of stronger-than-ever support for Black Lives Matter and what may be the largest social movement in U.S. history, she has once again emerged as a voice on race.

Adriana Cardenas, 24, became aware of Ms. Elliott a few weeks ago when a video of the third-grade exercise was shared by someone in her Facebook feed.

“I remember thinking that it was a super-charming video where you see kids that are very clearly racist at the beginning of the video do a complete 180 by the end of the video, having learned a lesson after three days. I definitely think it’s a good ‘intro to racism’ video, especially for its time,” Ms. Cardenas, a software engineer in Austin, Texas, said. “But it is really appalling that it’s being shared in 2020.”

“You would think people would be sharing this going, ‘Look how far we’ve come,’ but it seems there’s been barely any progress,” she added.

Ms. Elliott is familiar with the attention her videos have received online, and she is happy to see conversations about racism happening on social media.

“I think that social media, including my videos, can and must be one of the ways to effect change, in the area of racist behaviors, but it isn’t enough,” she said. “Experiential learning is more effective than watching other people’s experience, of course.”

She is all for social media feeds being flooded with anti-racist resources and protest imagery. What she dislikes is the ease and speed with which videos showcasing brutality against Black people spread online.

“I think that the repeated showing of Black men being killed by the police is attempted intimidation of those men and their mothers,” she said. “It seems to be deliberately designed to show all men of color what can happen to them if they run afoul of the law.”(Though camera phones have been heralded by some as tools for exposing police brutality, the proliferation of footage has not affected the frequency of such violence.)

Ms. Elliot’s more than 50 years of educating people about discrimination and unconscious biases have come with challenges. Aside from the stressful work of frequently implanting oneself into the center of ignorance, she regrets the suffering that her family endured.

“I didn’t know how this exercise would work. If I had known how it would work, I probably wouldn’t have done it,” Ms. Elliott said. “If I had known that our four children would be spit on and their belongings would be destroyed, that they would be verbally and physically abused by their peers, by their teachers and some of the parents of their peers, because they had what that community labeled as an N-word-lover for a mother.”

Ms. Elliott’s children weren’t the only family members to face the consequences. Her parents lost their restaurant business after widespread boycotts, her husband was isolated from his friend group, and Ms. Elliott was shunned by teachers in her school system.

At 86, Ms. Elliott feels it was all worth it and says she has no plans of stepping back from educating people — not until every living person understands that the problem underlying racism in America is easy to identify and fix.

“Just stop believing that there’s more than one race. Realize that we’re all members of the same race. That’s the human race,” Ms. Elliott said. ”Every person on the face of the earth is my 30th to 50th cousin. I get really angry at my pale-faced cousins when they abuse my cousins of other color groups, because of pale-faced people’s ignorance about skin color.”

The idea that people should or should not see color has been challenged many times in race education. Often when someone claims they are “colorblind,” it dismisses the experience of those who are different from them.

Ms. Elliott wants people to dismiss racial differences and instead focus on only being different shades. Once everyone realizes they originate from the same place, no one should feel the need to treat anyone differently. The idea is backed by science but is still difficult for many people to grasp. Which means Ms. Elliott definitely isn’t stopping anytime soon.

“When am I going to quit? When racists quit,” she said. “Do I have a job for a lifetime? I’m afraid so.”

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6) When America Bombed Itself
It’s been 75 years since we blew radioactive ash over New Mexico. Now the Trump administration is talking about testing bombs again.
“Recent research suggests that when America detonated the world’s first atomic bomb, its first victims were American babies. ...after more than 1,000 tests, already the most nuclear-bombed country in the world.
By Joshua Wheeler, July 15, 2020
Mr. Wheeler is the author of “Acid West.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/15/opinion/75-anniversary-trinity-nuclear-testing.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
Jesse Auersalo

When America detonated the world’s first atomic bomb at 0529 hours on July 16, 1945, it was an attack on American soil.

The blast melted the sand of southern New Mexico and infused it with the bomb’s plutonium core — 80 percent of which failed to fission — scattering radioactive material across the desert. The first atomic bomb was both a feat of engineering and, by today’s standards, a crude dirty bomb.

After riding the fireball over seven miles into the sky, as much as 230 tons of radioactive sand mixed with ash and caught the breeze of a cool summer morning. It floated 15 miles northwest to the Gallegos Ranch, where it fell and bleached the cattle. The dirty ash floated 20 miles northeast to the M.C. Ratliff Ranch, where that family would spend days cleaning it off their roof, off their crops and out of their water cistern. Thirty-five miles southeast at the Herreras’ home in Tularosa, the radioactive soot stained the white linens drying on the clotheslines.

The fallout from that detonation — code-named Trinity — floated over a thousand square miles and exposed thousands of families to radiation levels that “approached 10,000 times what is currently allowed,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the hours after the explosion, 185 Army personnel chased the fallout to monitor its extent. They chased it so far that their communications radios stopped working. Some who were stationed a few miles north of Trinity looked anxiously at their whirring Geiger counters and decided to bury their now-irradiated breakfast steaks.

Those soldiers had been given respirators, but at least one forgot his and was forced to take the officially sanctioned precaution of breathing through a slice of bread. Others were sent out with Filter Queens, a popular vacuum cleaner, in a futile attempt to suck up the fallout as though it was nothing more than household dust.

In short, the Army was woefully unprepared and even willfully negligent about the fallout of its first atomic bomb. It warned no residents. It ordered no evacuations. It maintained that the area around Trinity was absolutely safe, even when it knew it was not. So Americans went on living in the fallout, working in the fallout, eating from the dirty American soil.

Downwind of the blast, the local infant mortality rate, after declining in previous years, spiked. It increased by as much as 52 percent in 1945, with the highest increase occurring in August through October, the months immediately after Trinity. Recent research suggests that when America detonated the world’s first atomic bomb, its first victims were American babies.

Though there is no conclusive data about the rise in cancer rates after Trinity — largely because of a lack of government funding for such studies — stories collected by the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium reveal generations ravaged by nearly every imaginable cancer.

An Army doctor later wrote about Trinity: “A few people were probably overexposed, but they couldn’t prove it and we couldn’t prove it. So we just assumed we got away with it.”

It has been 75 years and the American government still refuses to admit that the detonation of the “gadget,” as the Trinity bomb was called, was a nuclear disaster.

Aboveground nuclear testing was halted in 1963. Underground testing, which is comparably safer but still terrifying, was stopped in 1992. But today the Trump administration is floating the idea of resuming such testing — despite the fact that America is, after more than 1,000 tests, already the most nuclear-bombed country in the world.

“We maintain and will maintain the ability to conduct nuclear tests if we see any reason to do so, whatever that reason may be,” President Trump’s nuclear negotiator said last month.

Mr. Trump campaigned in 2016 saying he wanted to be “unpredictable” with nuclear weapons. He went on to antagonize North Korea in 2017 by tweeting, “My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal.” According to Axios he suggested “multiple times” the use of “nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the United States.” He withdrew from many arms agreements, including the Iran nuclear deal, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty. And he raised the budget of the National Nuclear Security Administration by more than 50 percent.

What’s next? An explosive nuclear test can be orchestrated in as little as six months. And with a president whose lust for nuclear weapons is as evident as his lust for showmanship, that should terrify all of us. Resumed explosive testing, even underground, will undoubtedly encourage other nations to follow suit.

Any explosive nuclear test is an escalation toward global annihilation.

Congress is now so concerned that Democrats in the House have proposed a bill that would prohibit Energy Department funds from being used for nuclear weapons testing, while the Senate has moved to make any nuclear testing require a joint resolution. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada said, “The decision to conduct an explosive nuclear test should not be made without congressional approval and should never be made by a president hoping to gain political points.”

But the decision to resume explosive nuclear tests should never be made at all. We can and do perform successful tests in virtual-reality chambers using advanced supercomputers. Explosives tests of any kind carry magnitudes more risk, and the consequence of that risk has historically fallen on the most vulnerable Americans.

It should come as no surprise that the downwinders of Trinity were largely impoverished agricultural families, mostly Hispanic and Native. New Mexico, one of the poorest states in the nation, is the only one with a cradle-to-grave nuclear industry, where weapons are designed, uranium mined, and waste stored. After a recent study from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission raised no concerns, the federal government looks poised to finalize Holtec International’s bid to store nuclear waste between the New Mexico towns of Hobbs and Carlsbad, despite vehement objections from the governor and many residents of the area. And any resumed nuclear testing would add more radioactive waste to the controversial storage site already in existence near Carlsbad.

This is further evidence of what’s been called radioactive colonialism, where minority and impoverished communities are forced to suffer the costs of the nuclear industry.

Henry Herrera, whose family’s drying linens were stained by the fallout on that July morning in 1945, told me: “We were lab rats. That ought to make us hero patriots or something. Which we are. But nobody gives a damn.” Mr. Herrera, his brother and his two sisters all had cancer.

If Congress truly wants to awaken Americans to the dangers of nuclear testing, it should start by finally telling the truth about the disaster at Trinity. Bills to acknowledge and compensate Mr. Herrera and other Trinity downwinders have lingered in legislative purgatory for over a decade. Passing them would help establish what should be obvious: The shameful legacy of nuclear weapons testing is something we should never attempt to revive.

Joshua Wheeler is the author of the essay collection “Acid West.” He teaches in the creative writing program at Louisiana State University.

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7) Footage of Police Body Cameras Offers Devastating Account of Floyd Killing
The footage was made available by appointment at a court in Minneapolis, and shows officers seemingly more concerned with controlling George Floyd’s body than saving his life.
By Tim Arango, Matt Furber and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, July 15, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/15/us/george-floyd-video-killing.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
Outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was pinned down by a police officer on May 25. Credit...Caroline Yang for The New York Times

MINNEAPOLIS — Almost from the moment George Floyd encountered the police on May 25, with a gun pointed at him, he appeared terrified and emotionally distraught, according to police camera footage that was newly made available for viewing Wednesday at a courthouse in downtown Minneapolis.

Mr. Floyd was visibly shaken, with his head down, and crying, as if he were in the throes of a panic attack, as he put his hands on the steering wheel in response to a frantic order from an officer.

He told the officers over and over that he was claustrophobic, as two officers struggled to push him to the back seat of a police vehicle. Throughout the video, he never appeared to present a physical threat to the officers, and even after he was handcuffed and searched for weapons, the officers seemed to be more concerned with controlling his body than saving his life, the footage showed.

The video offers the fullest portrait yet of the tragic events around Mr. Floyd’s killing. It begins with officers driving to the scene, after a convenience store clerk called 911 and said a man had used a counterfeit $20 bill, and it ends showing officers on the street discussing what happened, after Mr. Floyd is driven away in an ambulance. At one point, in footage not previously seen, the officers are shown dragging Mr. Floyd to the ground after he resisted being put in the squad car.

Once he was on the ground, as Mr. Floyd again said he couldn’t breathe, and asked for water, and begged for his life, Derek Chauvin, the senior officer on the scene, said, in a nonchalant, almost mocking, tone, “takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to say that.”

The footage provides more detail into the action of Mr. Chauvin, who has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for keeping his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes while he gasped for life. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

As the minutes ticked by, and Mr. Floyd became quieter and his body went limp, one officer checked his pulse and said he couldn’t find one.

Mr. Chauvin’s response, uttered with no emotion, was, “uh huh.”

Just before, after being told that Mr. Floyd appeared to be passing out, Mr. Chauvin appears to express more concern for his fellow officers than the man dying under his knee.

“You guys all right, though?” he said.

“My knee might be a little scratched, but I’ll survive,” responded another officer, Thomas Lane.

The footage was made available for viewing Wednesday to the public and media by appointment at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis — in a conference room with a dozen laptop stations — but was not allowed to be copied or recorded.

A coalition of media organizations, including The New York Times, has petitioned the court to obtain the footage, which would allow for release to the public. Judge Peter Cahill, who is overseeing the case, will hold a hearing on the matter on Tuesday.

Mr. Floyd’s family on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against four of the officers at the scene and against the City of Minneapolis, arguing that the police had violated the Fourth Amendment in killing Mr. Floyd and that the city had failed to properly dismiss problem officers and train recruits about the dangers of neck restraints.

“It was not just the knee of Derek Chauvin on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds,” Ben Crump, a lawyer representing Mr. Floyd’s family, said at a news conference. “But it was the knee of the entire Minneapolis Police Department on the neck of George Floyd that killed him.”

In the lawsuit, Mr. Crump and a team of other prominent lawyers argue that the Police Department’s policies had allowed for officers to use “neck restraint” techniques that could be deadly even when they were not in life-or-death situations. It also said that training materials given to officers in 2014, including Mr. Chauvin and another officer charged in Mr. Floyd’s killing, show an officer placing a knee on the neck of a person who is being arrested and is handcuffed in a prone position, as Mr. Floyd was.

The lawyers said in the lawsuit that the policies and training, approved or condoned by the mayor, City Council and police chief, “were the moving force behind and caused” Mr. Floyd’s death.

Erik Nilsson, the Minneapolis city attorney, said the city would review and respond to the lawsuit. A spokesman for the Police Department did not respond to an inquiry about the lawsuit’s claims.

Transcripts of the body camera footage, from two of the four police officers charged in the killing of Mr. Floyd, were released last week as part of a motion on behalf of one of the junior officers, Mr. Lane, to have the case against him dismissed.

Mr. Lane, 37, was a rookie officer, and one of the first officers on the scene. His lawyer, Earl Gray, has sought to shift the blame to Mr. Chauvin, a senior officer who trained new recruits to the force, arguing that Mr. Lane was following the lead of Mr. Chauvin.

According to the transcripts and an interview Mr. Lane gave to investigators, Mr. Lane suspected that Mr. Floyd was having a medical emergency and asked Mr. Chauvin if they should turn Mr. Floyd on his side as he was facedown and gasping for breath. Mr. Lane also rode along in the ambulance to the hospital with Mr. Floyd, administering chest compressions in an attempt to revive him.

Mr. Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, faces the most severe criminal charges, and three other officers are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. All four were fired shortly after Mr. Floyd’s death. Their trial is scheduled to begin March 8.

Once an ambulance arrived — late, because paramedics had first gone to the wrong location — Mr. Lane went inside and administered chest compressions on Mr. Floyd, whose face appeared bloodied.

But even in the ambulance, at first, there appeared to be little sense of urgency, according to the newly seen footage, with minutes passing before anyone tended to Mr. Floyd.

Later, they strapped a mechanical chest compression device on a nearly naked Mr. Floyd, which kept pumping as Mr. Floyd’s body was rising and falling.

Back at the scene, Mr. Chauvin, who had arrived later than Mr. Lane and another junior officer, J. Alexander Kueng, stood erect, his lips pursed, with his hands on his hips as Mr. Kueng, who called his superior, “sir,” showed him what he believed was the fake $20 bill.

Tim Arango and Matt Furber reported from Minneapolis, and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs from New York.


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8)  Government Executes Second Federal Death Row Prisoner in a Week
Wesley Ira Purkey was killed by lethal injection at the penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., for killing a teenage girl more than two decades ago.
By Hailey Fuchs, July 16, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/16/us/politics/government-executes-second-federal-death-row-prisoner-in-a-week.html?action=click&module=Latest&pgtype=Homepage

Wesley Ira Purkey, center, after his arrest in 1998. He was executed on Thursday. Credit...Jim Barcus/The Kansas City Star, via Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department executed a 68-year-old man on Thursday for the gruesome murder in 1998 of a teenage girl, the second time this week the federal government has carried out capital punishment after a 17-year hiatus.

Wesley Ira Purkey was put to death at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., by lethal injection after the Supreme Court rejected the last of a slew of legal challenges including assertions that he was not mentally competent.

He was pronounced dead at 8:19 a.m.

The Justice Department announced its intention to bring back federal capital punishment last summer. After a series of court fights over its plan to use a single drug for lethal injection, Attorney General William P. Barr scheduled four executions for this summer, the first by the federal government since 2003.

Mr. Purkey, the second on the list, was convicted of raping, killing, and dismembering a 16-year-old girl in Kansas City, Mo.

The Bureau of Prisons put to death Daniel Lewis Lee, 47, on Tuesday morning for his part in the murder of a family of three. Just hours before, the Supreme Court issued the final go-ahead, ruling in a split 5-4 decision in the dead of night that the federal government’s single-drug execution protocol was constitutional. The verdict cleared the way for Mr. Lee, Mr. Purkey, and Dustin Lee Honken, scheduled to die on Friday, to be executed this week.

Mr. Purkey’s lawyers had argued that he was incompetent to be executed. They said he suffered from schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, which left him unable to comprehend why he was sentenced to death. He believed that his execution was intended as retaliation by the federal government for his frequent complaints about prison conditions, they said.

Judge Tanya Chutkan of the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., ruled on Wednesday that Mr. Purkey’s execution must be delayed until the court could determine whether he was fit to be executed.

In a separate decision, Judge Chutkan also ruled on Wednesday that the lethal injection protocol required additional litigation to determine whether it violated several federal statutes and the inmates’ constitutional rights. She cited the potential for “irreparable harm” if the inmates were put to death before their claims could be resolved by the court.

The government filed an immediate appeal in both cases. The Supreme Court, which overturned a similar ruling from Judge Chutkan about the single-drug protocol in Mr. Lee’s case earlier this week, vacated both stays early Thursday morning in a 5-4 decision.

The liberal justices dissented. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan, wrote that continuing with Mr. Purkey’s execution, “despite the grave questions and factual findings regarding his mental competency, casts a shroud of constitutional doubt over the most irrevocable of injuries.”

In a separate dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justice Ginsburg, reiterated questions about the effectiveness of the death penalty as a form of deterrence and retribution.

“A modern system of criminal justice must be reasonably accurate, fair, humane, and timely. Our recent experience with the federal government’s resumption of executions adds to the mounting body of evidence that the death penalty cannot be reconciled with those values,” he wrote. “I remain convinced of the importance of reconsidering the constitutionality of the death penalty itself.”

A federal appeals court panel had issued a stay in Mr. Purkey’s case that remained in effect until the day before his death. In that proceeding, Mr. Purkey claimed that his legal counsel failed to adequately defend him at trial and during his habeas proceedings, but the government argued that federal law barred him from raising the issue so late in his case.

The Seventh Circuit ruled that his claims deserved another look by the court before he was executed. The Supreme Court rejected that argument.

The coronavirus pandemic also complicated Mr. Purkey’s case. Rev. Dale Hartkemeyer, a Buddhist priest and his spiritual adviser, said he could not attend Mr. Purkey’s execution without exposing himself to the virus. The priest, who goes by the name of Seigen, had developed a relationship with Mr. Purkey over more than a decade. But he said his history of bronchitis and pleurisy, lung-related illnesses, left him at greater risk to the coronavirus.

Mr. Hartkemeyer sued the Justice Department, joined by a spiritual adviser for Mr. Honken. They argued that by forcing them to choose between their religious duties and health, the government violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The law prohibits the government from burdening an individual’s exercise of religion.

A federal judge in Indiana rejected the lawsuit Tuesday.

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9) Top N.Y.P.D. Chief Injured While Making Arrest at a Protest
Terence A. Monahan, New York’s highest-ranking uniformed chief, was one of several officers who were attacked on the Brooklyn Bridge, officials said.
By Ed Shanahan, July 15, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/15/nyregion/terence-monahan-chief-injured.html?action=click&module=Latest&pgtype=Homepage
Protesters on the bridge’s roadway on Wednesday. Credit...Yuki Iwamura/Associated Press

New York City’s top uniformed police officer, two lieutenants and a sergeant were injured on Wednesday in two separate incidents on the Brooklyn Bridge, including one that involved an attack with some kind of stick or pole as protesters marched nearby, officials said.

The altercations were the latest to erupt between officers and the public in the roughly seven weeks since the city became the scene of widespread protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

And they came on a day when Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a package of bills meant to rein in police abuses — the most contentious measure being a ban on chokeholds. The department and police union leaders have said the new laws would make it harder for officers to do their jobs and lead to an onslaught of crime.

The episode on Wednesday occurred around 9:45 a.m., when Terence A. Monahan, the Police Department’s chief of department and top uniformed officer, and other officers tried to arrest a person who had jumped onto the bridge’s roadway from the adjoining walkway during a Black Lives Matter protest march, Lt. John Grimpel, a Police Department spokesman, said.

With a small group gathered on the walkway near the officers as they took the person into custody, someone in a purple shirt ran toward the crowd and swung a long, thin instrument twice at the police, causing at least one of the officers to reach for his head as if he had been struck, according to a 10-second video clip of the episode released by the department.

The assailant backed away immediately after striking the officers and was still being sought, Lieutenant Grimpel said. It was not clear whether the person wielding the stick had a connection to the person who was being arrested, the lieutenant said.

In a message posted on Twitter along with the video clip, the department said that three officers had been “violently attacked by protesters crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.”

“This is not peaceful protest,” the message continued. “This will not be tolerated.”

A second post showed several officers with blood on their heads.

The bridge attack left a lieutenant and a sergeant with cuts on their scalps and Chief Monahan with an injured hand, Lieutenant Grimpel said. “We don’t believe it’s broken,” the lieutenant added of the chief’s hand. A second lieutenant sustained a broken eye socket when he was punched in a separate incident.

As the top uniformed officer, Chief Monahan is in many ways the public face of the Police Department’s 36,000 rank-and-file members. He has criticized many of the criminal justice changes being pushed by activists and some elected officials.

During the protests, he has been a somewhat contradictory figure: showing solidarity with demonstrators by taking a knee on one occasion and personally overseeing aggressive arrests on another.

As the protests continue, Mr. de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea have said that officers are acting with restraint, even when they encounter violent resistance. But there is ample evidence, as documented by The New York Times, of violence on the part of officers as well.

The protesters who marched across the bridge on Wednesday were headed to a rally at City Hall Park in Manhattan that was organized by clergy leaders, among others. By day’s end, 37 people had been arrested in or near the park, six of them for felony assault, Lieutenant Grimpel said.

Jeffery C. Mays and Andy Newman contributed reporting.

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10) Asylum Officers Condemn What They Call ‘Draconian’ Plans by Trump
A Trump administration plan to overhaul the asylum system would subject vulnerable families to danger and violate international law, officers who would carry out the policy said.
By Zolan Kanno-Youngs, July 15, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/15/us/politics/asylum-officers-trump.html?action=click&module=Latest&pgtype=Homepage
Migrants waiting at the border in April in Chihuahua, Mexico. Migrants have a legal right to apply for asylum in the United States once they step on U.S. soil, regardless if they crossed the border legally or illegally. Credit...Paul Ratje/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — A Trump administration plan to overhaul the asylum system in the United States would subject vulnerable families to danger and violate international law, officers who would carry out the policy said Wednesday.

In its public comment on the proposed regulation, the union representing federal asylum officers said it would effectively deny most migrants pursuing protection the right to have their claims of fear or persecution assessed.

“In the last three years, the executive branch of our government has sought to turn the asylum system on its head,” the union representing the officers said. “The most extreme in a recent series of draconian changes to the American asylum process, the proposed regulation dismantles our carefully crafted system of vetting asylum claims, and with it, America’s position as a global leader in refugee assistance.”

The proposal, filed last month, is one of a slew of policies the Trump administration has pushed forward to seal the border to asylum-seekers even after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

“They would close off every possibility for the average asylum seeker to even have a fair process much less getting asylum,” said Michael Knowles, a spokesman for the National CIS Council, which represents employees with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the legal immigration agency. “How they think they can do it without violating their own laws and convention is beyond us.”

Migrants have a legal right to apply for asylum in the United States once they step on U.S. soil, regardless of whether they crossed the border legally or illegally. An officer from Citizenship and Immigration Services screens applicants to verify their claims of being persecuted based on race, religion, political beliefs or a number of other factors.

The proposal put forward in June by the department of Justice and Homeland Security would significantly raise the standard that migrants would have to meet. Those claiming to be targeted by gangs or “rogue” government officials would be more likely to be denied, and those seeking protection on the basis of their gender would see their ability to seek asylum further limited.

Migrants also would not be entitled to a full hearing in which an immigration judge could hear their claims under the proposal. And it would give officers expanded authority to declare asylum applications “frivolous,” barring migrants from seeking other forms of immigration relief in the United States.

The new proposal would also empower the Trump administration to deny asylum to migrants who spent two weeks in another country on their way to the United States and did not apply for protections there, reviving a similar measure that was recently blocked by a federal judge in Washington, D.C.

“It will burn down the American refugee protection system,” said Jason Marks, a steward for the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924, which also represents some employees with Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is preparing to furlough nearly 70 percent of its work force as the immigration fees that fund the agency plummet.

The departments of Homeland Security and Justice did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The proposal is part of a web of restrictions intended to wall off asylum seekers. The Trump administration is currently using an emergency authority granted to top federal health officials to immediately block migrants, including children traveling alone, from obtaining asylum and return them to Mexico or their home countries.

The administration built on that effort with another proposal that would allow the government to deny a migrant asylum if they had traveled from or through a country that the administration had classified as in the midst of a public health emergency. That rule would also disqualify a migrant from what’s known as a “withholding of removal,” which can delay deportation and provide an opportunity for a full hearing before an immigration judge. The burden of proof is much higher for that screening than a typical asylum interview.

Under the proposed rule, even migrants at the border who can prove they were tortured in their home country and would normally receive some protection would most likely be sent to a third country to seek sanctuary instead.


President Trump has signed accords with Guatemala and Honduras that allow the United States to deport migrants to those Central American countries, where they would have to seek asylum from those governments.

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Posted by: Bonnie Weinstein <bonnieweinstein@yahoo.com>

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