Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, October 5, 2020


Father Steve Kelly and Patrick O'Neill are planning to go forward with in person sentencing in Brunswick, GA on October 15. The other four defendants are asking for further continuances because of the virus. They should hear in a few days if this request is granted by Judge Wood.

They ask, "In the interest of public safety, and out of love for our supporters during this Covid 19 pandemic, the seven Kings Bay Plowshares members request that no one come to Brunswick for the sentencing hearings scheduled for Oct. 15-16. We do, however, encourage you all to join the Oct. 11 pre-sentencing Zoom meeting. Thank you all for your love and support, which sustains us."

There is expected to be an audio link from the court to listen to the proceedings as was done with Liz McAlister in June. The number and times will be posted on the website when we get them.
We are planning a virtual Zoom Festival of Hope for Sunday, October 11 at 5 pm EDT with speakers and music. It will use the KBP supporter Zoom. More details will be on the website. The links are:
One tap mobile
+16465588665,538573565# (New York)
+17207072699,538573565# US

For those in the Brunswick area more information on local activities around the sentencing can be obtained through Sarah Cool:  404.449.7893    coolsarahs@gmail.com

Steve Kelly has now served 30 months in county jails and so has satisfied the sentencing guidelines the government is proposing for him. However, he has a probation violation where he is facing up to six months stemming from a prior trespass conviction at Kitsap, WA at the West coast Trident base. It is not yet known what will happen with this.

We understand that many are struggling financially at this time. We ask for donations only if you are able and doing well. Thank you for all the support you have given through these past two and a half years. Your support for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 will help cover the ongoing costs surrounding the seven co-defendants while in prison and their families and communities. Checks can be sent to Plowshares, PO Box 3087, Washington, DC 20010. Or donate online here at this link: Isaiah project.   Thank you.

TWITTER: https://www.twitter.com/kingsbayplow7

Emile de Antonio’s 1983 film, In the King of Prussia, is about the trial of the Plowshares Eight. The judge is played by Martin Sheen and the defendants are played by themselves. It’s available for viewing on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUph8GWFupE

The Plowshares 8: Fr. Carl Kabat, O.M.I., Elmer Mass, Phil Berrigan, Molly Rush, Fr. Dan Berrigan, S.J., Sr. Anne Montgomery, R.S.C.J., John Schuchardt, and Dean Hammer

You can read Fr. Daniel Berrigan’s reflections on the Plowshares Eight action from the book Swords Into Plowshares: Nonviolent Direct Action for Disarmament (1987), edited by Art Laffin and Anne Montgomery: http://www.nukeresister.org/2015/09/08/swords-into-plowshares-fr-daniel-berrigans-reflections-on-the-plowshares-8-nuclear-disarmament-action/

Here’s an article written by Anna Brown and Mary Anne Muller ten years ago, for the 30th anniversary: https://wagingnonviolence.org/2010/09/the-plowshares-8-thirty-years-on/

And here is a 1990 New York Times article about the Plowshares Eight: https://www.nytimes.com/1990/04/11/us/eight-sentenced-in-1980-protest-at-nuclear-unit.html

“They shall beat their swords into plowshares; their spears into pruning hooks. One nation shall not lift sword against another. Nor shall they train for war anymore.” (Is. 2:4) 



VICE News Video: What Really Happened at Standing Rock, Featuring Chase Iron Eyes

We worked with VICE News to produce this powerful episode of "I Was There." Featuring an exclusive interview with Chase Iron Eyes, the episode describes the NoDAPL protests in depth and in relation to the present moment.

View video at:




Denver Black Lives 

Matter Activists 


Above: PSL activists marching in Colorado anti-racist protest 

By Left Voice

On September 17, six protest leaders, including four members of the Party of Socialism and Liberation, were arrested in Denver, Colorado in a coordinated  police action. Those arrested are now being threatened with a litany of bogus felony charges, including “kidnapping.” Four of the arrested individuals—Russel Ruch, Lillian House, Joel Northam, and Eliza Lucero—are protest leaders who have denounced the crimes of the Colorado police, most notably the racist murder of Elijah McClain. The repression against these activists, and many others, is nothing short of police-state retribution. As a PSL statement noted, 

“This attack on the Denver anti-racist movement and the PSL is part of a concerted national assault on the Black Lives Matter movement, an attack driven directly from the White House, from Governor’s mansions, and from local police chiefs and police departments around the country.”

It is clear from the manner of the arrests that the Denver area police are trying to punish and intimidate activists. Russel Ruch, for instance, was followed to Home Depot and arrested in the parking lot; Lillian House was surrounded by five police cars as she was driving; and a S.W.A.T. team was sent to Joel Northam’s home. According to the 30-page long arrest affidavits, the police used livestream footage, call transcripts, and social media posts to build a case against those arrested. These coordinated arrests, which utilized both surveillance and brute force, aim to instill fear in every Denver area activist. “Protest, and you could be next” is the message being sent. And the absurd list of felony charges, known as “charge stacking,” means the arrested activists could be facing years, if not decades, in prison. 

The arrest of these protest leaders in Denver are part of a larger nationwide crack-down on the Black Lives Matter movement. Across the country, protesters have been snatched off the streets by the police or federal forces in unmarked vehicles. In New York City, the NYPD used facial-recognition software to find and harass a Black Lives Matter activist. And earlier this month, in Washington, federal marshals gunned down Portland activist Michael Reinoehl without warning as he walked to his car. 

Left Voice denounces the attempts to repress or otherwise intimidate anti-racist, anti-police activists. It is unacceptable that the state, under direction from both Republican and Democratic Party leaders, targets and intimidates activists fighting for racial justice, while the murderers of Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor and many more walk free. The real threat to public safety can be found in every police precinct, every city hall, and every seat of political power. 

Drop the charges against Denver PSL activists—Free all the arrested protesters! 

To sign the PSL’s petition to have the charges dropped, click here: 


To donate to the PSL’s legal defense, click here:


— Left Voice, September 18, 2020




History, Great Britain, and Julian Assange

By Clifford D. Conner

Below are the comments Clifford D. Conner made at a September 8, 2020 press conference in front of the British consulate in New York City. Conner is an historian and author of Jean Paul Marat: Tribune of the French Revolution and The Tragedy of American Science: From Truman to Trump. The court in Britain is holding hearings on the Trump administration’s request to have Julian Assange, the Australian editor, publisher and founder of WikiLeaks, extradited. Assange would be tried in a Virginia court on 17 counts of espionage and one count of conspiracy to commit a computer crime. If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison.

In 2010 Assange had the audacity to post a video showing a U.S. Apache helicopter indiscriminately murdering a dozen civilians and two Reuters’ journalists in the streets of Baghdad.

Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower, testified in court on September 16 that Assange could not receive a fair trial in the United States. When he pointed out that the Collateral Murder video was clearly a war crime, the prosecution maintained that Assange was not wanted by Washington for it but for publishing documents without redacting names. Ellsberg pointed out that when he leaked the Pentagon Papers, he did not redact a single name.

Assange’s lawyer has since informed the London court that in 2017 former Republican U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher and Charles Johnson, a far-right political activist, relayed Trump’s offer to pardon Assange if he provided the source for the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails. This was described to Assange as a “win-win” situation for all involved.

A National Committee to Defend Assange and Civil Liberties, chaired by Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, and Alice Walker has been set up. For further information, go to: www.facebook.com/CommitteeToDefendJulianAssangeThe press conference was organized by the New York City Free Assange Committee. The press conference was organized by the New York City Free Assange Committee: NYCFreeAssange.org

—Dianne Feeley for The Editors, Against the Current

Comments by Clifford D. Conner

I am here at the British Consulate today to protest the incarceration and mistreatment of Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison in Great Britain, to demand that you immediately release him, and above all, to demand that you NOT extradite Julian Assange to the United States.

As a historian who has written extensively on the case of the most persecuted journalist of the 18th century, Jean Paul Marat, I am in a position to make historical comparisons, and in my judgement, Julian Assange is both the most unjustly persecuted journalist of the 21st century and arguably the most important journalist of the 21st century.

Julian Assange is being hounded and harassed and threatened with life in prison by the United States government because he dared to publish the truth about American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan for the whole world to see. This persecution of Julian Assange is an assault on the fundamental principles of journalistic freedom.

The sociopathic Donald Trump and his accomplice, Attorney General William Barr, are demanding that you deliver Assange to them to face false charges of espionage. Every honest observer in the world recognizes Trump and Barr as utterly incapable of acting in good faith. If they succeed in suppressing Julian Assange’s right to publish, it will be a devastating precedent for journalists and publishers of news everywhere—and above all, for the general public, who will lose access to the information necessary to maintaining a democratic society.

If you allow yourselves to become co-conspirators in this crime, History will not look kindly on Great Britain for that.

Last November, more than 60 doctors from all over the world wrote an open letter to the British government saying that Julian Assange’s health was so bad that he could die if he weren’t moved from Belmarsh Prison, where he was being held, to a hospital, immediately. Your government chose to ignore that letter and he was not hospitalized, then or later. History will not look kindly on Great Britain for that.

Of all crimes against humanity, the most unforgivable is torture. No nation that perpetrates torture has the right to call itself civilized. United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, has unequivocally characterized Julian Assange’s treatment in Belmarsh Prison as torture. History will neither forget nor forgive that terrible moral transgression.

Furthermore, the exposure of the widespread use of torture by the United States military and the CIA at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, at Guantánamo Bay, and at so-called “black sites” all over the world, absolutely disqualifies the United States from sitting in moral judgement of anybody. If you deliver Julian Assange into the hands of torturers, history will not look kindly on Great Britain for that.

So, I join together today with human rights advocates and advocates of journalistic freedom around the world.

I stand with the Committee to Protect Journalists, which declared: “For the sake of press freedom, Julian Assange must be defended.”

I stand with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which said that the attempt to prosecute Julian Assange is “a worrying step on the slippery slope to punishing any journalist the Trump administration chooses to deride as ‘fake news’.”

And I stand with the ACLU, which said: “Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for WikiLeaks’publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations.”

History will not only record the names of the countries that collaborate in this travesty of justice, but also the names of the individuals—the judges, the prosecutors, the diplomats, and the politicians—who aid and abet the crime. If you, as individuals, choose to ally yourselves with the likes of Donald Trump and William Barr, be prepared for your names to be chained to theirs in infamy, in perpetuity.

History will certainly absolve Julian Assange, and it certainly will not absolve his persecutors.

Against the Current, November/December 2020




Sign the petition at:




Call for the immediate release of 


Syiaah Skylit from CDCR custody! 



Sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/gavin-newsom-call-for-the-immediate-release-of-syiaah-skylit-from-cdcr-custody-blacktranslivesmatter?recruiter=915876972&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=abi_gmail&utm_campaign=address_book&recruited_by_id=7d48b720-ecea-11e8-a770-29edb03b51cc 

Syiaah Skylit is a Black transgender woman currently incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP). Syiaah has been a victim of multiple acts of brutal, senseless violence at KVSP at the hands of prison staff and others in custody. Many of these attacks are in retaliation for her advocacy for herself and other trans women. 

Syiaah’s life is currently at risk due to racist, transmisogynist violence at the hands of the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCr). While all the offending officers should be fired, this isn’t about a couple of bad apples. We have centuries of evidence that prison will never be safe — for Black people, for trans people, and especially not for Black trans women.

“I’m not going to make it out of this prison alive if I’m left here any longer.” 

— Syiaah Skylit, June 2020

While incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison between 2018 and the present, prison staff have subjected Syiaah to severe and persistent physical, sexual, and psychological abuse (see below for examples, with content warnings). Staff at Kern Valley State Prison are also responsible for the 2013 death of Carmen Guerrero, a transgender woman who was forced to be housed with an individual who made it clear to officers that he would kill Ms. Guerrero if he was celled with her. Earlier this year, that individual was given the death penalty for killing Ms. Guerrero just eight hours after CDCR officers forced them to cell together. 

Facing immediate danger, Syiaah has repeatedly asked to be transferred to a women’s facility and CDCR has repeatedly denied her requests. We demand that Governor Newsom and CDCR immediately release Syiaah to her community and family before she falls further victim to the lethal danger that transgender people face in prison. 

[Content note: assault, sexual violence, anti-Black racism, transmisogny]

While in CDCR custody between 2018 and the present, Syiaah has:

- Been physically attacked by CDCR staff multiple times;
- Been threatened with sexual assault with a baton by CDCR staff; 
- Been forced by CDCR staff to parade through the yard naked from the waist down;
- Been stripped naked by CDCR staff and left overnight in her cell without clothes, blankets, or a mattress;
- Been attacked by other people in custody who admitted that CDCR staff directed them to do so;
- Had her property stolen and destroyed by CDCR staff;
- Been maced in the face and thrown in a cage after reporting an assault;
- Been intentionally placed on the same yard as an individual she testified against who is facing attempted murder charges for his assault of a transgender woman. As Syiaah feared, this individual violently attacked her as revenge. This man was then allowed to attack a gay man after attacking Syiaah. 
- Been intentionally placed on the same yard as individuals with histories of attacking trans women and other LGBTQI+ people, in spite of her pleas to be placed separately;
- Been thrown in administrative segregation after being the victim of an attack;
- Has had all of her recent documented complaints of discrimination and violence rejected under false pretenses;
- Has had contact with her legal representatives restricted to one phone call a week;
- Has been humiliated and discriminated against for going on a hunger strike as a form of protest;
- Has expressed numerous, documented concerns for her safety and had them blatantly ignored.

In spite of the constant violence Syiaah continues to survive, she continues to demonstrate her resilience and dedication to learning and growing. She has earned certifications in many educational and vocational programs and support groups. 

We as Syiaah’s community and chosen family are ready to support her with a safe and successful reentry plan if Governor Newsom uses his executive powers to grant her clemency. Organizations that can offer Syiaah comprehensive reentry support including housing and employment upon her release include TGI Justice Project, Transgender Advocacy Group (TAG), and Medina Orthwein LLP. 

You can read more about Syiaah's story in this article by Victoria Law for Truthout as well as this one by Dustin Gardiner for the SF Chronicle

Please sign and share this petition to #FreeSyiaah and declare #BlackTransLivesMatter! 

Please also check out our social media toolkit to support Syiaah!

[Please do not donate as prompted after signing, as the money goes to change.org and not to any cause associated with Syiaah.] 

Art by Micah Bazant at Forward Together.




Write to Kevin “Rashid” Johnson:

Kevin Johnson #264847

Wabash Valley Correctional Facility

6908 S. Old U.S. HWY 41, P.O. Box 500

Carlisle, IN 47838




Comrades, Friends, and Supporters,


This afternoon I received word through a third party that Rashid has been transferred from Pendleton and is now in Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlise, IN. He went through an intake process and was screened by a Ms. Clark who he believes is a nurse.  During this screening Ms. Clark informed Sgt. Nichols and Lt. Small to give him all of his K.O.P. meds to keep with him in his cell.  Sgt. Nichols and Lt. Small took Rashid to a cell in the S.H.U. (Segregated Housing Unit) but DID NOT give Rashid his medication or any of his property. He was also purposefully put into a cell that has no reception which has prevented him from calling and emailing directly from his tablet. Obviously they did this believing that it would prevent Rashid from communicating his condition and whereabouts to us.


We thank you for the support that you have shown and ask that calls and emails continue to be made on his behalf with increased intensity and that they be directed at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility's staff.  Our demands have not changed.  Please respond to this email if you have questions or suggestions or reach out to me directly.


-Shupavu wa Kirima



Frank Vanihel


Mailing Address

Wabash Valley Correctional Facility

6908 S. Old U.S. Highway 41

P.O. Box 500

Carlisle, IN 47838


Phone Number

(812) 398-5050


Administrative Secretary to the Warden

Janna Anderson


Facility Staff

Deputy Warden of Re-entry

Kevin Gilmore


Deputy Warden of Operations

Frank Littlejohn


Administrative Assistant

Legal Liaison

Michael Ellis


(812) 398-5050 ext. 4198


Our mailing address is:
Kevin Rashid Johnson
D.O.C. #264847
Pendleton Correctional Facility 4490 W. Reformatory Rd
PendletonIN  46064

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Snowden vindicated by court ruling – time to drop 


his charges.

Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NSA telephone surveillance program revealed by Edward Snowden was illegal and likely unconstitutional. This ruling should finally end any remaining debate on whether Snowden’s actions constituted whistleblowing, and on his necessity of going to the press. The question now is how to remedy the legal and ethical dilemma he was placed into. It’s time to either drop his charges or pardon him.

The court’s ruling validates Snowden on multiple levels. It settles beyond doubt that his belief in the illegality of the programs he witnessed was reasonable. The panel of judges ruled that the mass telephone surveillance conducted under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act was illegal. And while they refrained from issuing a ruling on the Constitutional challenge, they strongly suggested that the program was in violation of the Fourth Amendment. They ruled that the government’s claims about the effectiveness of the surveillance had been lies, and that its legal theory about the necessity of mass collection of phone data was “unprecedented and unwarranted.”

Legally, a whistleblower does not need to ultimately be proved correct about the concerns they report. If they simply have a “reasonable belief” their employer is breaking the law, they are entitled to whistleblower protections. While any plain reading of the Fourth Amendment and the FISA statutes should have sufficed to prove a reasonable concern, this ruling is beyond sufficient affirmation that Snowden’s concern was “objectively reasonable”. 

While he should have been able to make a protected whistleblower disclosure based on such concerns, those channels were not a realistic option. As an outside contractor, he would not have been guaranteed protection under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA) statute in place at that time. Critics of Snowden also conveniently ignore the history of other NSA employees who blew the whistle on these programs before him. The internal channels were used to “catch and kill” the complaints of at least four previous surveillance whistleblowers, placing them – and even the Congressional intelligence committee staffer they went to – under criminal leak investigations. Snowden saw, for example, the punitive treatment of NSA whistleblower, Thomas Drake. Drake went through every conceivable internal channel: his boss, the NSA Inspector General (IG), the Defense Department IG, and the House & Senate Intel Committees. Not only did they fail to redress his grievances, many acted to further punish him: ignored his concerns, marginalized him, forced him out, blacklisted him, and ultimately drove his failed criminal prosecution.

Snowden correctly assessed that the only remaining option was to go to the press, and the 9th Circuit ruling credits him for choosing that path, noting that his disclosures enabled “significant public debate over the appropriate scope of government surveillance”. Indeed, this ruling simply would not have been possible without his public disclosures. The government had long maneuvered to keep mass surveillance programs beyond this kind of judicial scrutiny.

As a witness to large scale illegality, and without effective or safe channels, Snowden was placed in a dilemma: break his agreement to protect classified information, or break his sworn oath to uphold the laws and defend the Constitution. He chose to honor his higher duty and so turned to the only other available channel that could serve as a check against government wrongdoing: the press. Snowden turned to the “Fourth Estate” and it played exactly the role the Founders intended. We cannot now prosecute him as a spy or abandon him to a lifetime of exile for having done so.

In solidarity,


Jesselyn Radack
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)

Twitter: @JesselynRadack

Donate Now



From Across the Pond

Johnson the Invisible Brat

By John Blackburn

Johnson the invisible brat,

Thinks he’s better than us all,

For he’s a posh prime minister,

Who defies international law,

No matter how many graves get filled,

Or the cupboards are running bare,

You bet you can rely on this,

Johnson won’t be there.


Hancock, Priti, any sycophant,

It doesn’t matter who,

Can keep a straight face on camera,

While reading the lies on the autocue.

Nursing homes, schools there’s Covid everywhere,

But whenever there’s a crisis,

Johnson isn’t there


Depravity, depravity there’s no match for his depravity.

He is nastiness in human form, with not a shred of common humanity.

You may read him in a by-line, or see his face in the morning paper,

But when there’s a problem to deal with,

Boris Johnson won’t be seen till later.


Depravity, depravity the are no bounds to his depravity,

He’s already broken every law and conduct of normality,

His powers of crass dishonesty are way beyond compare,

He lies in every sentence and doesn’t seem to care,

You may look for him in Downing Street or in another lair,

But when a job is needing done,

Boris Johnson is never there.


He’ll sack anyone who happens in his way 

And tear up any treaty he doesn’t like today,

He is outwardly respectably but he cheats all his friends

He’ll trample over anyone to get to his own ends,

Or he’ll send his hoodlum Cummings to crush dissenting minds.

Lies, corruption, negligence we know he doesn’t care

But when there is money to be made,

This time,

Johnson and mates will be there.


In Britain he acts like a dictator doing just as he wants,

Ignoring real life tragedies while posing for photo stunts,

For all his fake bravado, he’s just another coward,

A liar, a bully a posh self-centred fraud.

He’s an invisible prime minister who is never here, 

But whenever there’s Trump’s arse to kiss,

You can be sure that,

Boris Johnson will reappear.


Calamity then catastrophe with grand theft larceny,

Another billion of our money flushed down the lavat’ry,

He cares not for our suffering our deaths and our pain,

Fake news and lies again and again,

When things go wrong and account is called,

It is always someone else’s fault,

What ever the problem no matter where

He always can claim that he wasn’t there.


Covid 19’s, coming, 

He says we’ll take it on the chin,

World beating, moonshot, track and trace,

Endless lies and spin

Just more meaningless hot air from this uncaring buffoon,

Exam results fiasco, yet he never showed his face.

Children going hungry a national disgrace

We must take matters in our own hands,

To make things proper here,

Have confidence in our own powers,

Make Johnson and his kind 

Completely disappear.



In April of 1971, Edward Poindexter and Mondo we Langa, formerly David Rice, were sentenced to life in prison for the death of an Omaha police officer- a crime they did not commit. The two were targeted by law enforcement and wrongfully convicted due to their  affiliation with the Black Panther Party, a civil rights and anti-fascist political group.  Nearly 50 years later, Ed is still in prison and maintains his innocence. He has earned several college degrees, taught anti-violence classes to youth, authored screenplays, and more. His last chance for freedom is to receive a commutation of sentence from the Nebraska Board of Pardons. At age 75, he is at high risk for COVID related health complications. He must receive an immediate and expedited commutation hearing from the Board.-EMAIL: freedomfored@gmail.com@freedom4ed
Take Action Now
Write, email and call the Nebraska Board of Pardons. Request that they expedite Ed’s application, schedule his hearing for the October 2020 meeting and commute his sentence. 
WRITE: Nebraska Board of Pardons/ P.O. Box 95007/ Lincoln, NE 68509
*please email a copy of your letter..to freedomfored@gmail.com---EMAIL: ne.pardonsboard@nebraska.gov
CALL:  Governor Pete Ricketts--402-471-2244  & SoS Robert B. Evnen---402-471-2554  & AG Doug Peterson--402-471-2683



Urgent Action: Garifuna leader and 3 community members kidnapped and disappeared in Honduras

Share This 
On the morning of Saturday, July 18, Garifuna leader Snider Centeno and other three members of the Triunfo de la Cruz community where kidnapped and disappeared by a group of men wearing bullet proof vests with the initials of the Honduran National Police (DPI in Spanish). The DPI is the Investigative Police Directorate and when it was formed years ago, was trained by the United States. As of this Monday Morning, there is still no word on the whereabouts of Mr. Centeno, Milton Joel Marínez, Suami Aparicio Mejía and El Pri (nickname).
Snider was the president of the elected community council in Triunfo de la Cruz and his community received a favorable sentence from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2015. However, the Honduran state has still not respected it. The kidnapping and disappearance of Snider and the 3 other men is another attack against the Garifuna community and their struggle to protect their ancestral lands and the rights of afro-indigenous and indigenous people to live.
National and international pressure forced the Honduran Ministry of Human Rights to put out a statement urging authorities to investigate and act. Your support can make the difference!
For more information and updated on what is happening in Honduras, please follow the Honduras Solidarity Network

Contact Us

Alliance for Global Justice
225 E 26th St Ste 1

Tucson, Arizona 85713-2925
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About Albert Einstein

In September 1946, (after the war, before the civil rights movement), Albert Einstein called racism America’s “worst disease.” Earlier that year, he told students and faculty at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the oldest Black college in the Western world, that racial segregation was “not a disease of colored people, but a disease of white people, adding, “I willl not remain silent about it.” 

His peers criticized this appearance. The press purposefully didn't cover it. He simply wanted to inspire young minds with the beauty and power of science, drawing attention to the power of ALL human minds, regardless of race.

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.” -Albert Einstein



Party for Socialism and Liberation

Gloria La Riva nominated by Peace and Freedom Party in California

Now on the ballot in California, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey and New Mexico!
Longtime San Francisco labor and anti-war activist Gloria La Riva was chosen today as the Peace and Freedom Party nominee for U. S. President. The party's state central committee cast 62 votes for La Riva and 3 votes for Howie Hawkins, with three abstentions. Anti-racist and disability rights advocate Sunil Freeman of Washington DC was then chosen without opposition as the party's nominee for Vice President.
La Riva received over 2/3 of the vote for the nomination in the March primary, but the State Central Committee's action Saturday will officially place the La Riva / Freeman ticket on California's November general election ballot. They will appear in a number of other states on the ballot lines of the Vermont Liberty Union Party and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
Gloria La Riva said "We are honored to be the nominees of the Peace and Freedom Party. We are running not just to represent voters, but to represent the millions without the right to vote: undocumented immigrants, permanent residents, prisoners and parolees who are unable to cast a ballot. This is their country too."
Kevin Akin of Riverside, the new California State Chair of the party, reports that the ticket expects to get more votes in California than in any other state. "It's a clear way for a voter to show support for peace, socialism, and the immediate needs of the working class."

Read our Campaign Statements

Gloria La Riva Condemns Israeli Annexation Plan Calls for Solidarity with Palestinian People and End to U.S. Aid to Israel

Upcoming Events

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Questions? Comments? Contact us.
You can also keep up with the PSL on Twitter or Facebook.
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Resources for Resisting Federal Repression

Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests. 

The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page. 

Please visit the NLG Mass Defense Program page for general protest-related legal support hotlines run by NLG chapters.

Emergency Hotlines

If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities. 

State and Local Hotlines

If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for: 

National Hotline

If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:

Know Your Rights Materials

The NLG maintains a library of basic Know-Your-Rights guides. 

WEBINAR: Federal Repression of Activists & Their Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Strategies to Defend Our Movements: presented by NLG-NYC and NLG National Office

We also recommend the following resources: 

Center for Constitutional Rights

Civil Liberties Defense Center

Grand Jury Resistance Project

Katya Komisaruk

Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources

Tilted Scales Collective



 Reality Winner Tests Positive for COVID, Still Imprisoned
With great anguish, I’m writing to share the news that NSA whistleblower Reality Winner, still in federal prison, has tested positive for COVID-19. Winner, despite her vulnerable health conditions, was denied home release in April – the judge’s reasoning being that the Federal Medical Center, Carswell is “presumably better equipped than most to deal with the onset of COVID-19 in its inmates”. 
Since that ruling, COVID infections at Carswell have exploded, ranking it now as second highest in the nation for the number of cases, and substantially increasing the likelihood that its medical capacity will be overwhelmed.
This news comes one week after Trump’s commutation of convicted felon Roger Stone, and two months after the home release of Trump’s convicted campaign manager, Paul Manafort:

Roger Stone’s Freedom Is All the More Outrageous While Reality Winner Languishes in Prison

Donald Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence is galling on numerous levels. It’s a brazen act of corruption and an egregious obstruction of an ongoing investigation of the President and his enablers. There are few figures less worthy of clemency than a Nixonian dirty trickster like Stone. But the final twist of the knife is that Reality Winner, the honest, earnest, anti-Stone of the Russian meddling saga, remains in federal prison.

Continue Reading
Please share this with your networks, and stand with us in support of Reality Winner and her family during this critical time.
Thank you,
Jesselyn Radack
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)
Twitter: @JesselynRadack

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WHISPeR Project at ExposeFacts 1627 Eye Street, NW Suite 600 Washington, DC 20006 



Note: Below are comments from Ambassador Andrew Young, who is also the former Mayor of Atlanta. The Ambassador notes that Imam Jamil Al-Amin was wrongfully convicted and that it's time to 'rejudge'.

Below is also a correction in the title of the previous posting about Otis Jackson, who admitted to the killing of which Imam Jamil Al-Amin was falsely accused of committing. The article is included below with the title correction being, "There are demands for a new trial"

And again, please sign the petition for a new trial and ask your friends to do so as well.

August 10, 2020
Justice Initiative

"(There's one case) that weighs heavy on my heart because I really think he was wrongfully convicted."
This Man, a Muslim, helped "clean up" Atlanta's West End.
"I'm talking about Jamil Al-Amin," he said, "H. Rap Brown."
"I think it's time to rejudge. He's been dying of cancer and has been suffering away from his family in the worst prisons of this nation." 
Ambassador Andrew Young Jr. 

Otis Jackson Speaks - 
The Man Who Committed 
The Crime Imam Jamil Is Serving Life For
There are demands for a new trial for 
Imam Jamil Al-Amin
Please sign the petition for a new trial

The Confession - My Name Is James Santos aka Otis Jackson (We Demand A Retrial For Imam Jamil)
The Confession - My Name Is James Santos aka OtisJackson (We Demand A Retrial For Imam Jamil)

Otis Jackson is a self-proclaimed leader of the Almighty Vice Lord Nation (AVLN). Founded in the late 1950s, the AVLN is one of the oldest street gangs in Chicago.
According to Jackson, the group under his leadership was focused on rebuilding communities by pushing out drug dealers and violence.
In a never-before published sworn deposition, Jackson recalls the events of the night of Thursday, March 16, 2000, in vivid detail.
It was a cool night as Jackson remembers. He wore a knee-high black Islamic robe with black pants, a black kufi-Muslim head covering-underneath a tan hat, and a tan leather jacket. His silver sunglasses with yellow tint sat above his full beard and mustache.
He arrived at Mick's around 7PM, when he realized his schedule had changed. He was no longer the food expediter in the kitchen; his title was now dishwasher/cook, which meant he would wash dishes and then help close the kitchen at night.
Since his title changed, he wasn't required to work that Thursday night. It immediately dawned on him that he had a 10-hour window to do whatever he wanted. As a parolee under house arrest, the opportunity to have truly free time was rare if even existent. Jackson decided to fill his new found freedom like most people fill their free time-he ran a few errands.
His first stop was the West End Mall where he got a bite to eat, did some shopping and then headed toward the West End community mosque, led by Al-Amin. He knew it was a regular building off of Oak Street, but wasn't sure which one exactly.
He parked his black Cadillac in an open field and walked down toward a house that turned out to be the mosque. He passed a black Mercedes before he got to the mosque, where he met a man named Lamar "Mustapha" Tanner. They talked for a while during which Jackson explained to Tanner that he was looking for Al-Amin to talk about how the AVLN could help Al-Amin's community.
Tanner told Jackson to check the grocery store, since Al-Amin could usually be found there. Tanner then gave Jackson his phone number and hurried away to go pick up his wife. Jackson proceeded to the grocery store. He wanted to discuss with Al-Amin how his AVLN organization could help further clean the streets of drug dealers in the West End community.
By the time Jackson made his way to Al-Amin's store, it was already late. He was afraid the store would be closed since he didn't see anyone else on the street. His fear was affirmed; the store wasn't open.
Hoping that maybe the owner would be in the back closing up, he knocked on the door a few more times. No answer. As he turned to leave, Jackson saw a patrol car pull up. By the time Jackson walked by the black Mercedes, the patrol car was parked in front of it, nose-to-nose. The driver of the patrol car got out and asked Jackson to put his hands up.
Immediately, this scenario flashed through Jackson's head: Here he was, violating his parole by not being at work, with a 9mm handgun in his waist. Jackson was afraid the cops would think he was breaking into the store. That meant they would probably frisk him and find the gun. The gun would be a direct violation of his parole; he'd be sent back to prison in Nevada.
Jackson ignored the order to put his hands up and instead began to explain that he was not trying to break into the store. He stated that he wasn't trying to steal the Mercedes either; his car was parked down the street. Both officers were out of the car with guns drawn and demanding Jackson put his hands up. The cops were closing in and there was little space between them. Jackson made a quick decision. He backed up against the Mercedes, pulled out his gun and began to fire.
He fired off two shots. The officers, while retreating, returned fire. Jackson wasn't hit and bolted toward his car, where in the trunk he had an arsenal of other weapons. As Jackson explains, "the organization I was about to form, the Almighty Vice Lord Nation, we're anti-oppression, and we fight, you know, drug dealers and what not, so...we need artillery."
He quickly opened the trunk - the lock was broken and held together with shoe string-and grabbed a lightweight, semiautomatic carbine Ruger Mini-14 with an extended clip housing 40 .223 caliber rounds. Jackson then headed back toward the cops; one was moving for cover behind the Mercedes, the other was on the police radio screaming for backup.
Jackson approached the officer he thought was the most aggressive, who was using the Mercedes for cover and resumed firing his rifle. The officer returned fire, hitting Jackson in the upper left arm twice.
Jackson, now angered and fearful for his life, shot back, downing the officer. Jackson stood over him and shot him in the groin up to four times. The fallen officer, Deputy Kinchen, in a last attempt to plead with his killer, described his family, mother, and children to Jackson, hoping for mercy.
But Jackson admits that by this time, "my mind was gone, so I really wasn't paying attention." Jackson fired again at the officer on the ground. Dripping his own blood on the concrete where he stood, Jackson then turned his attention to Deputy English who was running toward the open field. Jackson believed English was flagging down another officer; he couldn't let him get away.
Jackson hit English four times. One shot hit him in the leg; he soon fell, screaming, thereby confirming Jackson's shot. After English went down, Jackson, in a state of shock, walked down pass the mosque.
Nursing his bleeding wounds, he tried to stop three passing cars on the road; no one dared pull over. He then walked back down the street and knocked on three different doors for assistance. Only one even turned the light on, but no one opened the door for Jackson. He then made his way back to his car and drove to his mother's home.
As he walked in the door, the phone rang. His mother was asleep, so Jackson hurriedly answered it in the other room. It was a representative from the Sentinel Company that provided the monitoring service for Jackson's ankle bracelet. The man on the phone asked where Jackson was; he responded that he was at work. The Sentinel representative explained that his unaccounted for absence would have to be marked down as a violation. Jackson agreed and quickly ended the conversation.
Although one bullet exited through the back of his arm, the other was still lodged in his upper left arm. Jackson called a couple of female friends, who were registered nurses. The women, who were informed by Jackson that he was robbed in the middle of the night, arrived at his house and worked for three hours to remove the bullet from his arm. Jackson then called Mustapha Tanner, whom he just met earlier in the evening, and asked him to come by his house.
Tanner arrived before 10am. Jackson explained what had happened the previous night and said he needed to get rid of the guns and the car. Jackson's car trunk contained enough artillery for a mini-militia: three Ruger Mini-14 rifles, an M16 assault rifle, a .45 handgun, three 9mm handguns and a couple of shotguns. Once Tanner left, Jackson called his parole officer Sarah Bacon and let her know that he "had been involved in a situation," but left out the details.
In the following days, Jackson was asked to report to the Sentinel Company. He checked in with the monitoring company and his parole officer, and was then given a ride back home. As they pulled onto his street, Jackson noticed many unmarked police cars. After entering his driveway, multiple police officers emerged. The police searched Jackson's house and found rounds of Mini-14, .223, 9mm, and M16 ammunition. Jackson's bloody clothes and boots from the shootout with the deputies the night before were left untouched in his closet.
On March 28, 2000, Jackson's parole was revoked and he was sent back to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence in Nevada. Upon his detainment in Florida and later transfer to Nevada, Jackson confessed the crime to anyone who would listen. Jackson claims that when he reached the Clark County Jail in Las Vegas, Nevada, he made numerous phone calls to the F.B.I., after which an agent arrived to discuss the incident with him. Jackson recalls telling his story to "Special Agent Mahoney."
Special Agent Devon Mahoney recalls documenting the confession, but not much beyond that. Mahoney remembers getting a call from a superior to "talk to someone" in a Las Vegas jail and then to "document it and file it up the chain of command." The confession was documented and filed on June 29, 2000.

Gray & Associates, PO Box 8291, ATLANTA, GA 31106
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Subject: Shut Down Fort Hood! Justice for Vanessa Guillén. Sign the petition!




Timeless words of wisdom from Friedrich Engels:

This legacy belongs to all of us:

“Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. The people who, in Mesopotamia, Greece, Asia Minor and elsewhere, destroyed the forest to obtain cultivable land, never dreamed that by removing along with the forests the collecting centres and reservoirs of moisture they were laying the basis for the present forlorn state of those countries. . . Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature–but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.” The Part played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man 1876. —Friedrich Engels



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


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


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




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!

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





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 






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.
(Bay Area United Against War Newsletter)



George Floyd's Last Words
"It's my face man
I didn't do nothing serious man
please I can't breathe
please man
please somebody
please man
I can't breathe
I can't breathe
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
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
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 I can't breathe"

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






Trump Comic Satire—A Proposal
          By Shakaboona

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









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



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
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
Looting Ashanti, Fulani, Huasa, Wolof,
Yoruba, Ibo, Kongo, Mongo, Hutu, Zulu…
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
Steal trillions
Not FOX-boxes, silly sneakers, cheap clothes…
© 2020. Raymond Nat Turner, The Town Crier. All Rights Reserved.       











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:




Courage to Resist
www.couragetoresist.org ~ 510.488.3559 ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist

484 Lake Park Ave # 41
OaklandCA 94610-2730
United States
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From Business Insider 2018



"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)







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)



















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



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.




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.)








1) The First Photos of Enslaved People Raise Many Questions About the Ethics of Viewing

By Parul Sehgal, Sept. 29, 2020


Fabrizio Amoroso/Aperture

For a century, they languished in a museum attic. Fifteen wooden cases, palm-size and lined with velvet. Cocooned within are some of history’s cruelest, most contentious images — the first photographs, it is believed, of enslaved human beings.


Alfred, Fassena and Jem. Renty and his daughter Delia. Jack and his daughter Drana. They face us directly in one image and stand in profile in the next, bodies held fixed by an iron brace. The Zealy daguerreotypes, as the pictures are known, were taken in 1850 at the behest of the Harvard zoologist Louis Agassiz. A proponent of polygenesis — the idea that the races descended from different origins, a notion challenged in its own time and refuted by Darwin — he had the pictures taken to furnish proof of this theory.


Agassiz wanted images of barbarity, and he got them — implicating only himself. He had hand-selected his subjects in South Carolina, seeking types — “specimens,” as he put it — but each daguerreotype reveals an individual, deeply dignified and expressive. Their hurt, contempt, fatigue, utter refusal are unequivocal. The photographer, Joseph T. Zealy, who specialized in society portraits, did not alter his method for the shoot; he carried on as usual, using the same light, the same angles, giving the images their unsettling, formal perfection.


Agassiz showed the pictures only once. They were then tucked away at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Rediscovered in 1976, they have been at the center of urgent debates about photography ever since.


Is there a correct way to regard these images? Should one view them, or any coerced image, at all? To whom do they belong? Do they quicken or numb the conscience? Does displaying them traumatize the living? Is it care or cowardice to keep them concealed? What do we owe the dead?


I am looking at the pictures now, in a handsome recently published volume; the deep crimson of its cover matches the plush interior of the portrait cases. “To Make Their Own Way in the World: The Enduring Legacy of the Zealy Daguerreotypes,” edited by Ilisa Barbash, Molly Rogers and Deborah Willis, convenes a group of scholars of slavery, American history, memory, photography and science. Their aim is to tell “more fully the complex story of the people in these iconic images.”


The specialists attend to their own sections, like the far corners of an immense puzzle. Slowly the era is pieced together in lavish detail, through histories of the daguerreotype and reconstructions of the daily lives of the subjects. The artist Carrie Mae Weems discusses her famous reinterpretation of the photographs. The novelist Harlan Greene delves into the racist history of South Carolina, where 165 years to the day after Zealy completed the series, a white teenager named Dylann Roof posted snippets of 19th-century racist pseudoscience on social media, and killed nine Black congregants of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.


Do these essays — so rich in context — assist us in seeing the photographs any better? Perhaps a better question is: Do they provide the necessary context? Do they resolve that tension I feel as I look at Drana and register both the appeal in her eyes and the absolute certainty (for she is proud — I feel it in the set of her chin) that she would hate being in this book, perhaps even hate being invoked in this essay — unclothed, stared at, opined upon? And yet the notion that she be forgotten, unseen, is also intolerable. It is the tension of “sitting in the room with history,” as the poet Dionne Brand has written.


It is the tension and the buried irony in the title “To Make Their Own Way in the World,” plucked from an essay by Frederick Douglass. Douglass, the most photographed American of the 19th century, is a recurrent character in this book. There’s no evidence that he knew of the daguerreotypes, but he spoke publicly against pseudoscience, and, like Sojourner Truth, cannily publicized his image as a counternarrative to racist portrayals. In “Lecture on Pictures,” he lauded the democratization of the daguerreotype. He wrote: “Pictures, like songs, should be left to make their own way in the world. All they can reasonably ask of us is that we place them on the wall, in the best light, and for the rest allow them to speak for themselves.”


At first glance, it’s an unimpeachable sentiment. The editors clearly want to give the viewer ample background information and then trust her and the photograph. Compare it to, say, the recent furor over four museums canceling a retrospective of the work of Philip Guston, worried that his depictions of the Ku Klux Klan lacked sufficient framing.


What’s curious about the title is that the story of the Zealy daguerreotypes is one of fraught and contested possession. Harvard, which owns the photographs, long zealously guarded the copyright, threatening to sue Weems, who duplicated the images in her 1995 series “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried.” After deciding that she had a moral if not a legal case, Weems encouraged the lawsuit: “I think actually your suing me would be a really good thing,” she has remembered telling Harvard. “You should. And we should have this conversation in court. I think it would be really instructive for any number of reasons.” Harvard ended up acquiring the series.


In 2019, Tamara Lanier, a retired probation officer living in Connecticut, claimed to be a direct descendant of Renty. Her family had long passed down stories about “Papa Renty,” and Lanier devoted herself to finding him, combing census and death records and slave inventories, finally locating him in South Carolina.


Lanier’s findings have been verified by genealogists, including Toni Carrier, a contributor to the PBS series “African-American Lives,” hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr., who writes the introduction to this book. Lanier’s revelation arrives in the midst of decolonial movements around the world, calls for museums to repatriate stolen relics and universities examining their ties to slavery. She has found popular support. Forty-three descendants of Agassiz signed a letter to Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow asking the school to turn over the photographs. This month, the Harvard Undergraduate Council unanimously voted to pass a statement condemning the university’s ownership of the daguerreotypes, writing: “Imagine your great-grandparents were enslaved, exploited, forced to strip naked, photographed against their will, those photographs are publicly shared today … and there was nothing you could do about it.”


A few contributors to this book have expressed skepticism about Lanier’s lineage — although only Gates mentions her directly. Rogers, one of the editors and the author of a previous book about the images, “Delia’s Tears,” maintains that tracing heredity under slavery is complex. “It’s not necessarily by blood,” she has said of family records. “It could be people who take responsibility for each other.” In his introduction, Gates downplays Lanier’s connection to Renty. “In a larger sense, can any one person be the heir of these photographs, or does the responsibility for them fall to all of us to protect them as archival relics of history, to be studied, pondered and reckoned with?”


It’s an odd statement. Why would Lanier’s claim threaten the “pondering” and protection of the pictures? What does he imagine Lanier has in mind for them? Already some writers have taken to approaching her directly, to symbolically ask for her permission to use the images — Thomas A. Foster, for example, author of “Rethinking Rufus: Sexual Violations of Enslaved Men.” Lanier encouraged him, he has said, because “she believes that the story of the daguerreotypes and of exploitation under slavery, need to be told.” Lanier’s own lawyer has stated that one ideal use of the pictures could be a traveling exhibit.


But in one respect, Gates is absolutely correct. If Lanier has a claim, the photographs will no longer be known only as “archival relics.” Renty and Delia are not relics to Lanier — they are family. Renty is known not as an object of study but a source of comfort and pride, the star of the family bedtime stories, a man who secretly taught himself and others to read. In Lanier’s accounts, he was never invisible, never lost, never in need of “discovery.” What kind of scholarship, what kind of criticism will he prompt if seen this way — not as a figure in need of reclamation or object of fascination but as an ancestor deserving of protection, whose memory has been improbably preserved?


Daguerreotypes, as is often noted, are sensitive, mirrored surfaces. You need to find the precise angle that blocks out your own reflection. Everything you see depends on where you stand.



2) Why “Biodegradable” Isn’t What You Think

By John Schwartz, Oct. 1, 2020


You care about the planet, and would like to avoid bottles and other goods made of single-use plastic. But it’s complicated.


Choosing products with packaging that claims to be “biodegradable” or “compostable” might mean that they degrade only under special conditions, and could complicate recycling efforts, said Jason Locklin, the director of the New Materials Institute at the University of Georgia. “It’s tremendously confusing, not just to the consumer, but even to many scientists,” he said.


Here are four examples of the kinds of products you might see on supermarket shelves or at the takeout counter. It’s not an exhaustive list, but one that can give you a sense of the issues that people face.


Corn-based plastic


It doesn’t come from petroleum. But in a landfill, it might be just as bad.

Food service items made from polyactic acid, or PLA, include bottles, disposable cutlery, plastic films, some grocery bags and other products. They look like plastic made from petroleum, but PLA is usually made from corn, though it can come from other plants, including beets, cassava and sugar cane.


The labels on PLA products often describe them as compostable. But that doesn’t mean you can just throw the stuff into your backyard compost pile, if you have one. To properly degrade, they have to be sent to commercial compost facilities.


The process of industrial composting involves high heat and precisely controlled moisture, among other conditions, and it isn’t available in many parts of the country. Worse, PLA products look enough like regular recyclable plastic bottles, which are made from the most common plastic used in recyclable bottles, known as PET, that they can get mixed in at the recycling plant, and can contaminate the recycling stream.


And if your PLA trash ends up in a landfill, it will be there a very long time, because it’s unlikely to be exposed to conditions that would help it to break down.


Paper, kind of

It’s what’s on the inside that counts.


Similar to the push from some restaurants to replace plastic straws with paper ones, paper bottles are seen as a possible option to replace plastic ones. Because they can be made of sustainable, renewable materials (from trees!), paper bottles are getting the attention of major companies. Coca-Cola, Carlsberg and the vodka maker Absolut are exploring the idea with the Paper Bottle Company.


Paper, of course, is recyclable — as long as it is just paper. However, paper-based bottles and containers tend to be made with several layers of materials other than paper, including plastic or foil, to form barriers. One paper bottle maker’s website calls 100 percent biodegradability a “goal.”


Hypothetically, you could strip away the layers and recycle the paper, but who’s actually going to do that?



Looks compostable, but may end up in the landfill anyway.


Some fast-casual restaurants use bowls designed and marketed to be compostable. They are made from bagasse, a fiber produced as a byproduct from sugar cane mills.


Sweetgreen, for instance, put the message in a longtime slogan: “Nothing from inside Sweetgreen goes to the landfill.” But getting to current levels of compostability has been a struggle for Sweetgreen and Chipotle, whose previous bowls turned out to contain PFAS, a family of chemicals linked to cancer that can remain in the environment even after the bowl has been composted.


They fixed that problem. But while your bowl may be compostable, if you don’t compost at home you have to throw it into a dedicated composting bin in the restaurant, or use a composting service.


Don’t put it in the recycling bin: Materials that come contaminated with food get rejected by recyclers. And throwing the bowl into a trash can at the office or at home means it’s likely to go to a landfill anyway.


Bacteria do the work

Next best thing?


PHA, or polyhydroxyalkanoate, has been the next big thing in biodegradability for years. This bioplastic, which can be produced by bacteria, has promising properties: Research suggests it can break down in conventional landfills. In ocean water, it will degrade within a few years, a fraction of the 450 years that it takes standard plastic.


Producing the material economically, however, has been a technical challenge.


Cove, a bottled water company, says it is about to bring out its product in containers made from PHA. The company that supplies the bioplastic to Cove, RWDC Industries, introduced drinking straws made from the material last year in Singapore, where the company is based.


There is certainly a market for environmentally friendly goods. A report by the market research firm Mintel Group found that 34 percent of consumers said they would pay more for water packaged in 100 percent biodegradable bottles.


“There is a place for biodegradable materials” as a way to cut down the sheer amount of mismanaged plastic waste the world is dealing with, said Jenna Jambeck, a professor of environmental engineering at the University of Georgia who has studied the accumulation of plastics in the world’s oceans and the ability of PHA to degrade. However, she worries about the consequences of developing products that are seemingly environmentally friendly without planning for disposal and recycling. “You have to think about end of life when you’re designing things,” she said.


Ultimately, Dr. Jambeck said, “the best thing you can do environmentally is not create any waste in the first place.”



3) ‘A Battle for the Souls of Black Girls’

Discipline disparities between Black and white boys have driven reform efforts for years. But Black girls are arguably the most at-risk student group in the United States.

By Erica L. Green, Mark Walker and Eliza Shapiro, Oct. 1, 2020


“It’s not fair that now I have to say, ‘It’s OK to be Black and hyper and giddy,’ that it’s not a crime to smile,” Zulayka McKinstry said of her daughter. Credit...Miranda Barnes for The New York Times

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Zulayka McKinstry’s once silly, sociable daughter has stopped seeing friends, talking to siblings and trusting anyone — changes Ms. McKinstry dates to the day in January 2019 when her daughter’s school principal decided that “hyper and giddy” were suspicious behaviors in a 12-year-old girl.


Ms. McKinstry’s daughter was sent to the nurse’s office and forced to undress so that she could be searched for contraband that did not exist.


“It’s not fair that now I have to say, ‘It’s OK to be Black and hyper and giddy,’ that it’s not a crime to smile,” Ms. McKinstry said. “And she doesn’t believe me.”


The Binghamton case is now the subject of what might be a groundbreaking federal lawsuit by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which has drawn on the disparate treatment and discipline rates of Black girls to pursue it.


The disproportionate discipline rates of Black boys have long dominated discussions about the harmful effects of punitive discipline policies, but recent high-profile cases have begun to reframe the debate around the plight of Black girls.


In Florida, Kaia Rolle, was only 6 last year when police officers escorted her, hands bound behind her with zip ties, from her school in Orlando after employees there said she had a temper tantrum.


In Sacramento, the first “virtual suspension” to draw national attention was meted out to a 9-year-old Black girl who was kicked out of her Zoom classroom for reportedly sending too many messages. In Michigan, a teenager was sent to juvenile detention for not completing her online schoolwork.


Just this week, higher education’s Common Application cited disproportionate discipline rates for Black girls in its decision to stop asking students to report whether they had been subject to disciplinary action.


Statistically, Black boys have led the country in suspensions, expulsions and school arrests, and the disparities between them and white boys have been a catalyst for national movements for change. But Black girls’ discipline rates are not far behind those of Black boys; and in several categories, such as suspensions and law enforcement referrals, the disparities between Black and white girls eclipse those between Black and white boys.


A New York Times analysis of the most recent discipline data from the Education Department found that Black girls are over five times more likely than white girls to be suspended at least once from school, seven times more likely to receive multiple out-of-school suspensions than white girls and three times more likely to receive referrals to law enforcement. Black boys experienced lower rates of the same punishments compared with white boys.


In New York City, Black girls in elementary and middle school were about 11 times more likely to be suspended than their white peers in 2017, according to a report from the Education Trust-New York, a research and advocacy group. In Iowa, Black girls were nine times more likely to be arrested at school than white girls, according to a state-by-state analysis conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union.


“We are in a battle for the souls of Black girls,” said Monique W. Morris, the executive director of Grantmakers for Girls of Color and author of the book “Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School.”


The disproportionate discipline rates among girls indicate what researchers have long said about all Black children: It is not that they misbehave more than their peers, but their behaviors may be judged more harshly. Federal civil rights investigations have found generally that Black students are punished more harshly than their white peers for the same behavior. Black girls in particular are more likely to be punished for subjective infractions like dress code violations and insubordination.


Alliyah Logan, a recent New York City high school graduate, said she routinely saw her Black female friends punished for dress code violations that did not affect her white classmates.


“There would be white girls who wore the same exact outfits or even worse than us,” she said. “They would wear sheer tops and stuff like that, and I would never see anyone call them out. But if a Black student wore a tank top, then that was a problem.”


Sophia Lusala, a junior at Iowa City High School, said she often felt the effects of the “loud, sassy, Black girl” stereotype. In math class last year, when a teacher said he would not review a certain lesson, she asked why — and landed in the hallway “to calm down,” she said.


“We’ve been in school growing our minds so that we can challenge things,” she said. “But when we do so, we’re punished for it.”


Black girls are viewed by educators as more suspicious, mature, provocative and aggressive than their white peers, said Rebecca Epstein, the executive director of the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality and an author of the first robust study of “adultification bias” against Black girls. The study found that Black girls as young as 5 were viewed by adults as less innocent than white girls.


“Developmentally, Black girls and white girls are the same — regardless of any differences in outward presentation,” she said.


The Binghamton lawsuit, filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund last year against the Binghamton City School District, will test whether such studies can translate into legal recourse.


The organization argued that administrators “were motivated by false race- and gender-based stereotypes in directing, facilitating and conducting these unlawful searches” on Ms. McKinstry’s daughter and three other 12-year-old Black girls. The school nurse who conducted the searches called the girls “loud, disrespectful and having ‘attitudes,’” the complaint said. It accused the nurse of commenting that the breasts of one of the girls were unusually large for her age and of invoking the “stereotypical view of Black girls as older and more mature than white girls of similar age.”


“This case is about the criminalization of Black childhood,” said Cara McClellan, a lawyer who is representing the girls.


Last month, a Syracuse, N.Y., judge ruled that the case could go forward on unlawful search claims but granted the school district’s motion to dismiss the race discrimination charge, in part because the complaint’s data was not recent or granular enough to show that administrators targeted the girls because of their race. He wrote that the “defects in plaintiffs’ complaint” were technical and that a “better pleading could cure them.” The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund plans to amend its filing to bolster its race discrimination claims.


In a statement, Shannon T. O’Connor, the lawyer for the Binghamton City School District, maintained its position that the four girls “presented symptoms that suggested the school nurse should provide a standard health and safety check,” and that they were not strip-searched. She said the girls were cleared without “incident, complaint or discipline of any kind.”


“This has been a trying time for students and educators, one made more so, here, by the interference of an outside interest determined on making a spectacle,” Ms. O’Connor said.


Black Girls Find a Spotlight


In 2014, President Barack Obama announced a national initiative called My Brother’s Keeper to improve the lives of young Black men. Motivated in part by the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012, Mr. Obama said the initiative was an effort to “change the statistics — not just for the sake of the young men and boys, but for the sake of America’s future.” Among the program’s goals: school discipline reform.


A few months later, Kimberlé Crenshaw, a professor and scholar of race theory, wrote an opinion article titled “The Girls Obama Forgot.” She also published a report that concluded Black girls were all but ignored by policymakers, funders and researchers in discipline discussions. An NAACP Legal Defense Fund report in 2014 said inattention to Black girls had “fueled the assumption that all girls are doing fine in school,” though they also sustained academic and economic setbacks.


An issues brief in March 2014 by the Education Department concluded that “while boys receive more than two out of three suspensions, Black girls are suspended at higher rates” than “girls of any other race or ethnicity and most boys.”


But scholars say that Black girls are still seen as a footnote. “The attitude is: Everything starts with boys. Paint it pink, and it works for girls,” Ms. Epstein said.


As the nation’s political leadership has grown more diverse, that may be changing. Last year, Representative Ayanna S. Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts, introduced a bill that targeted the disproportionate discipline rates of Black students, highlighting girls.


Senator Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, tweeted in 2017, “It’s time to address the underlying issues in our education system that limit Black girls’ opportunities before they even reach college.”


LaTasha DeLoach has been working for years through the Iowa-based organizations G!World and Sankofa Outreach Connection to dismantle the perception that Black girls are not as endangered by systemic racism as boys.


“These are slave narratives,” she said. “Black men were publicly hanged, while Black women were raped in secret. This tendency to hide Black women’s pain dates back years.”


In 2015, when Ms. DeLoach was elected as the first Black woman to serve on the Iowa City Community School Board in 30 years, she began raising alarms about Black girls’ discipline rates. The data showed that 75 percent of Black female discipline referrals were for disruption, compared with 19 percent for white girls; 69 percent were for defiance, insubordination or noncompliance, compared with 19 percent for white girls.


“When you walk into a school here and you’re a Black girl, they’re just waiting for you to open your mouth,” Ms. DeLoach said.


The Iowa City Community School District said in a statement that it was “committed to identifying, understanding and rectifying disproportionality within our schools.”


A report by the Education Trust and the National Women’s Law Center, released in August, urged school districts to seek alternatives to suspensions and detentions for girls of color. Girls of color, it concluded, were being subjected to “punishments that have more to do with who these girls are rather than what they do.”


Cpl. Betty Covington of the Baltimore City School Police Department agrees.


When she joined the department in 1998, she said she found herself “arresting kids for stuff they didn’t even have control over.” Black girls were suspended for fighting while their white or Latina classmates were consoled. So she created Girls Expecting More Success, or GEMS, a nonprofit youth program.


“These girls are going to grow up and have babies,” Corporal Covington said. “So, if I save a girl, I save a family, a whole community.”


A dozen girls gathered in a principal’s office this year to reflect on their relationship with their unlikely mentor.


“Police are out here shooting people up and locking people up, but Officer Covington is different,” said Zoey Jones, an eighth grader in the GEMS program. “She pays attention to us for the positive stuff.”


Kaia Jones said she remembered seeing Corporal Covington cross the hallway of Digital Harbor High School, when she was in ninth grade.


“She said, ‘You caught my attention,’ and I was like, ‘Lord, not today,’” recalled Kaia Jones, who graduated in 2019 and was known as outspoken, “a fighter.”


The officer told her she was “outstanding” and asked her to join the program.


Corporal Covington “tells us that nobody can say we don’t have the magic,” Kaia Jones said. “We threaten society because we’re the latest trendsetters, we don’t let nobody walk over us, and people want to be like us. Black girls go through the most. But it’s because we’re just so powerful.”


‘Spirit Murdering’


The long-term trauma for Black girls from disproportionate school discipline is little understood, experts say.


“We talk about death a lot in the Black community. We see physical death a lot, but what we don’t see a lot is spirit murdering,” said Bettina L. Love, an education professor at the University of Georgia.


“When we talk about racism, we talk about it in terms of statistics and numbers,” she said. “But we don’t talk about what happens when you have to go into a school where nobody in that building believes you, or believes in you.”


The Binghamton case spurred protests and petitions, but the girls — now 14 and starting high school — see no justice.


“Justice would be for people to know what we go through now, and for this never to happen to another African-American female,” said Ms. McKinstry’s daughter, whom The New York Times is not identifying to protect the privacy of a minor.


A state investigation ordered by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo produced a report that listed the district’s policies, including its strip-search policy, but did not address the girls’ case. The New York State Police Department said its investigation was closed without charges.


In their first public comments since the case erupted, the Binghamton girls said they still struggled to make sense of their treatment.


“White girls can laugh or be giddy, and teachers aren’t going to think they’re high,” said one of the girls, the daughter of Lia Silva. “They’re going to think they’re just having fun.”


In the days after the incident, the district acknowledged in a statement the “unintended consequences of making the students feel traumatized,” and said they were working with the girls’ families “to support their children’s success.”


But the girls say that because the district continues to deny their experience, they still do not feel comfortable attending school here.


Ms. McKinstry’s daughter said her middle school grades were affected, some falling from A’s to F’s. “It’s harder to focus when you can feel people are against you,” she said.


“I can’t even go to the nurse’s office comfortably,” said her classmate, Ms. Silva’s daughter.


Their mothers have run out of ways to assure them.


“She feels like I can’t save her from things anymore,” Ms. Silva said. “She’s still asking me, ‘Mom, why did they do that?’”


For Kaia Rolle in Florida, bed-wetting and nightmares were the first signs of trauma, followed by separation anxiety and crippling fear of the police, her grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, said.


“You can’t even raise your voice at Kaia to discipline her,” Ms. Kirkland said. “If you reach for her, she’ll flail around or run around screaming that somebody’s trying to hurt her.”


Kaia, now 7, has made progress. She sees the injustice: “She said, ‘Grandma, if I was white, they would not have arrested me,’” Ms. Kirkland recalled.


But sleep apnea surgery eased her exhaustion-induced tantrums. She secured a partial scholarship to attend a private school, where she is thriving. A Florida law, the Kaia Rolle Act, requires officers to set procedures for arresting children under the age of 10.


But she has a long road ahead.


“Ten, 20 years from now, she could be pulled over for a traffic stop and have a flashback to her arrest, and it could cause her to attack the officer or pull away,” Ms. Kirkland said. “And we all know how that could end.”



4) Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop
By Officer A. Cab

Medium, June 6, 2020


Officer A. Cab

I was a police officer for nearly ten years and I was a bastard. We all were.

This essay has been kicking around in my head for years now and I’ve never felt confident enough to write it. It’s a time in my life I’m ashamed of. It’s a time that I hurt people and, through inaction, allowed others to be hurt. It’s a time that I acted as a violent agent of capitalism and white supremacy. Under the guise of public safety, I personally ruined people’s lives but in so doing, made the public no safer…so did the family members and close friends of mine who also bore the badge alongside me.

But enough is enough.

The reforms aren’t working. Incrementalism isn’t happening. Unarmed Black, indigenous, and people of color are being killed by cops in the streets and the police are savagely attacking the people protesting these murders.

American policing is a thick blue tumor strangling the life from our communities and if you don’t believe it when the poor and the marginalized say it, if you don’t believe it when you see cops across the country shooting journalists with less-lethal bullets and caustic chemicals, maybe you’ll believe it when you hear it straight from the pig’s mouth.

Why am i writing this

As someone who went through the training, hiring, and socialization of a career in law enforcement, I wanted to give a first-hand account of why I believe police officers are the way they are. Not to excuse their behavior, but to explain it and to indict the structures that perpetuate it.

I believe that if everyone understood how we’re trained and brought up in the profession, it would inform the demands our communities should be making of a new way of community safety. If I tell you how we were made, I hope it will empower you to unmake us.

One of the other reasons I’ve struggled to write this essay is that I don’t want to center the conversation on myself and my big salty boo-hoo feelings about my bad choices. It’s a toxic white impulse to see atrocities and think “How can I make this about me?” So, I hope you’ll take me at my word that this account isn’t meant to highlight me, but rather the hundred-thousand of me in every city in the country. It’s about the structure that made me (that I chose to pollute myself with) and it’s my meager contribution to the cause of radical justice.

Yes, all cops are bastards

I was a police officer in a major metropolitan area in California with a predominantly poor, non-white population (with a large proportion of first-generation immigrants.) One night during briefing, our watch commander told us that the city council had requested a new zero tolerance policy. Against murderers, drug dealers, or child predators?

No, against homeless people collecting cans from recycling bins.

See, the city had some kickback deal with the waste management company where waste management got paid by the government for our expected tonnage of recycling. When homeless people “stole” that recycling from the waste management company, they were putting that cheaper contract in peril. So, we were to arrest as many recyclers as we could find.

Even for me, this was a stupid policy and I promptly blew Sarge off. But a few hours later, Sarge called me over to assist him. He was detaining a 70-year-old immigrant who spoke no English, who he’d seen picking a coke can out of a trash bin. He ordered me to arrest her for stealing trash. I said, “Sarge, c’mon, she’s an old lady.” He said, “I don’t give a shit. Hook her up, that’s an order.” And…I did. She cried the entire way to the station and all through the booking process. I couldn’t even comfort her because I didn’t speak Spanish. I felt disgusting but I was ordered to make this arrest and I wasn’t willing to lose my job for her.

If you’re tempted to feel sympathy for me, don’t. I used to happily hassle the homeless under other circumstances. I researched obscure penal codes so I could arrest people in homeless encampments for lesser known crimes like “remaining too close to railroad property” (369i of the California Penal Code.) I used to call it “planting warrant seeds” since I knew they wouldn’t make their court dates and we could arrest them again and again for warrant violations.

We used to have informal contests for who could cite or arrest someone for the weirdest law. DUI on a bicycle, non-regulation number of brooms on your tow truck (27700(a)(1) of the California Vehicle Code…shit like that. For me, police work was a logic puzzle for arresting people, regardless of their actual threat to the community. As ashamed as I am to admit it, it needs to be said: stripping people of their freedom felt like a game to me for many years.

I know what you’re going to ask: did I ever plant drugs? Did I ever plant a gun on someone? Did I ever make a false arrest or file a false report? Believe it or not, the answer is no. Cheating was no fun, I liked to get my stats the “legitimate” way. But I knew officers who kept a little baggie of whatever or maybe a pocket knife that was a little too big in their war bags (yeah, we called our dufflebags “war bags….) Did I ever tell anybody about it? No, I did not. Did I ever confess my suspicions when cocaine suddenly showed up in a gang member’s jacket? No, I did not.

In fact, let me tell you about an extremely formative experience: in my police academy class, we had a clique of around six trainees who routinely bullied and harassed other students: intentionally scuffing another trainee’s shoes to get them in trouble during inspection, sexually harassing female trainees, cracking racist jokes, and so on. Every quarter, we were to write anonymous evaluations of our squadmates. I wrote scathing accounts of their behavior, thinking I was helping keep bad apples out of law enforcement and believing I would be protected. Instead, the academy staff read my complaints to them out loud and outed me to them and never punished them, causing me to get harassed for the rest of my academy class. That’s how I learned that even police leadership hates rats. That’s why no one is “changing things from the inside.” They can’t, the structure won’t allow it.

And that’s the point of what I’m telling you. Whether you were my sergeant, legally harassing an old woman, me, legally harassing our residents, my fellow trainees bullying the rest of us, or “the bad apples” illegally harassing “shitbags,” we were all in it together. I knew cops that pulled women over to flirt with them. I knew cops who would pepper spray sleeping bags so that homeless people would have to throw them away. I knew cops that intentionally provoked anger in suspects so they could claim they were assaulted. I was particularly good at winding people up verbally until they lashed out so I could fight them. Nobody spoke out. Nobody stood up. Nobody betrayed the code.

None of us protected the people (you) from bad cops.

This is why “All cops are bastards.” Even your uncle, even your cousin, even your mom, even your brother, even your best friend, even your spouse, even me. Because even if they wouldn’t Do The Thing themselves, they will almost never rat out another officer who Does The Thing, much less stop it from happening.

Bastard 101

I could write an entire book of the awful things I’ve done, seen done, and heard others bragging about doing. But, to me, the bigger question is “How did it get this way?” While I was a police officer in a city 30 miles from where I lived, many of my fellow officers were from the community and treated their neighbors just as badly as I did. While every cop’s individual biases come into play, it’s the profession itself that is toxic, and it starts from day-one of training.

Every police academy is different but all of them share certain features—taught by old cops, run like a paramilitary bootcamp, strong emphasis on protecting yourself more than anyone else. The majority of my time in the academy was spent doing aggressive physical training and watching video after video after video of police officers being murdered on duty.

I want to highlight this: nearly everyone coming into law enforcement is bombarded with dash cam footage of police officers being ambushed and killed. Over and over and over. Colorless VHS mortality plays, cops screaming for help over their radios, their bodies going limp as a pair of taillights speed away into a grainy black horizon. In my case, with commentary from an old racist cop who used to brag about assaulting Black Panthers.

To understand why all cops are bastards, you need to understand one of the things almost every training officer told me when it came to using force:

“I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by six.”

Meaning, “I’ll take my chances in court rather than risk getting hurt.” We’re able to think that way because police unions are extremely overpowered and because of the generous concept of Qualified Immunity, a legal theory which says a cop generally can’t be held personally liable for mistakes they make doing their job in an official capacity.

When you look at the actions of the officers who killed George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, or Freddie Gray, remember that they, like me, were trained to recite “I’d rather be judged by 12” as a mantra. Even if Mistakes Were Made™, the city (meaning the taxpayers, meaning you) pays the settlement, not the officer.

Once police training has—through repetition, indoctrination, and violent spectacle—promised officers that everyone in the world is out to kill them, the next lesson is that your partners are the only people protecting you. Occasionally, this is even true: I’ve had encounters turn on me rapidly to the point I legitimately thought I was going to die, only to have other officers come and turn the tables.

One of the most important thought leaders in law enforcement is Colonel Dave Grossman, a “killologist” who wrote an essay called “Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs.” Cops are the sheepdogs, bad guys are the wolves, and the citizens are the sheep (!). Colonel Grossman makes sure to mention that to a stupid sheep, sheepdogs look more like wolves than sheep, and that’s why they dislike you.

This “they hate you for protecting them and only I love you, only I can protect you” tactic is familiar to students of abuse. It’s what abusers do to coerce their victims into isolation, pulling them away from friends and family and ensnaring them in the abuser’s toxic web. Law enforcement does this too, pitting the officer against civilians. “They don’t understand what you do, they don’t respect your sacrifice, they just want to get away with crimes. You’re only safe with us.”

I think the Wolves vs. Sheepdogs dynamic is one of the most important elements as to why officers behave the way they do. Every single second of my training, I was told that criminals were not a legitimate part of their community, that they were individual bad actors, and that their bad actions were solely the result of their inherent criminality. Any concept of systemic trauma, generational poverty, or white supremacist oppression was either never mentioned or simply dismissed. After all, most people don’t steal, so anyone who does isn’t “most people,” right? To us, anyone committing a crime deserved anything that happened to them because they broke the “social contract.” And yet, it was never even a question as to whether the power structure above them was honoring any sort of contract back.

Understand: Police officers are part of the state monopoly on violence and all police training reinforces this monopoly as a cornerstone of police work, a source of honor and pride. Many cops fantasize about getting to kill someone in the line of duty, egged on by others that have. One of my training officers told me about the time he shot and killed a mentally ill homeless man wielding a big stick. He bragged that he “slept like a baby” that night. Official training teaches you how to be violent effectively and when you’re legally allowed to deploy that violence, but “unofficial training” teaches you to desire violence, to expand the breadth of your violence without getting caught, and to erode your own compassion for desperate people so you can justify punitive violence against them.

How to be a bastard

I have participated in some of these activities personally, others are ones I either witnessed personally or heard officers brag about openly. Very, very occasionally, I knew an officer who was disciplined or fired for one of these things.

·      Police officers will lie about the law, about what’s illegal, or about what they can legally do to you in order to manipulate you into doing what they want.

·      Police officers will lie about feeling afraid for their life to justify a use of force after the fact.

·      Police officers will lie and tell you they’ll file a police report just to get you off their back.

·      Police officers will lie that your cooperation will “look good for you” in court, or that they will “put in a good word for you with the DA.” The police will never help you look good in court.

·      Police officers will lie about what they see and hear to access private property to conduct unlawful searches.

·      Police officers will lie and say your friend already ratted you out, so you might as well rat them back out. This is almost never true.

·      Police officers will lie and say you’re not in trouble in order to get you to exit a location or otherwise make an arrest more convenient for them.

·      Police officers will lie and say that they won’t arrest you if you’ll just “be honest with them” so they know what really happened.

·      Police officers will lie about their ability to seize the property of friends and family members to coerce a confession.

·      Police officers will write obviously bullshit tickets so that they get time-and-a-half overtime fighting them in court.

·      Police officers will search places and containers you didn’t consent to and later claim they were open or “smelled like marijuana.”

·      Police officers will threaten you with a more serious crime they can’t prove in order to convince you to confess to the lesser crime they really want you for.

·      Police officers will employ zero tolerance on races and ethnicities they dislike and show favor and lenience to members of their own group.

·      Police officers will use intentionally extra-painful maneuvers and holds during an arrest to provoke “resistance” so they can further assault the suspect.

·      Some police officers will plant drugs and weapons on you, sometimes to teach you a lesson, sometimes if they kill you somewhere away from public view.

·      Some police officers will assault you to intimidate you and threaten to arrest you if you tell anyone.

·      A non-trivial number of police officers will steal from your house or vehicle during a search.

·      A non-trivial number of police officers commit intimate partner violence and use their status to get away with it.

·      A non-trivial number of police officers use their position to entice, coerce, or force sexual favors from vulnerable people.

If you take nothing else away from this essay, I want you to tattoo this onto your brain forever: if a police officer is telling you something, it is probably a lie designed to gain your compliance.

Do not talk to cops and never, ever believe them. Do not “try to be helpful” with cops. Do not assume they are trying to catch someone else instead of you. Do not assume what they are doing is “important” or even legal. Under no circumstances assume any police officer is acting in good faith.

Also, and this is important, do not talk to cops.

I just remembered something, do not talk to cops.

Checking my notes real quick, something jumped out at me: 

Do not fucking talk to cops. Ever.

Say, “I don’t answer questions,” and ask if you’re free to leave; if so, leave. If not, tell them you want your lawyer and that, per the Supreme Court, they must terminate questioning. If they don’t, file a complaint and collect some badges for your mantle.

Do the bastards ever help?

Reading the above, you may be tempted to ask whether cops ever do anything good. And the answer is, sure, sometimes. In fact, most officers I worked with thought they were usually helping the helpless and protecting the safety of innocent people.

During my tenure in law enforcement, I protected women from domestic abusers, arrested cold-blooded murderers and child molesters, and comforted families who lost children to car accidents and other tragedies. I helped connect struggling people in my community with local resources for food, shelter, and counseling. I deescalated situations that could have turned violent and talked a lot of people down from making the biggest mistake of their lives. I worked with plenty of officers who were individually kind, bought food for homeless residents, or otherwise showed care for their community.

The question is this: did I need a gun and sweeping police powers to help the average person on the average night? The answer is no. When I was doing my best work as a cop, I was doing mediocre work as a therapist or a social worker. My good deeds were listening to people failed by the system and trying to unite them with any crumbs of resources the structure was currently denying them.

It’s also important to note that well over 90 percent of the calls for service I handled were reactive, showing up well after a crime had taken place. We would arrive, take a statement, collect evidence (if any), file the report, and onto the next caper. Most “active” crimes we stopped were someone harmless possessing or selling a small amount of drugs. Very, very rarely would we stop something dangerous in progress or stop something from happening entirely. The closest we could usually get was seeing someone running away from the scene of a crime, but the damage was still done.

And consider this: my job as a police officer required me to be a marriage counselor, a mental health crisis professional, a conflict negotiator, a social worker, a child advocate, a traffic safety expert, a sexual assault specialist, and, every once in awhile, a public safety officer authorized to use force, all after only a 1000 hours of training at a police academy. Does the person we send to catch a robber also need to be the person we send to interview a rape victim or document a fender bender? Should one profession be expected to do all that important community care (with very little training) all at the same time?

To put this another way: I made double the salary most social workers made to do a fraction of what they could do to mitigate the causes of crimes and desperation. I can count very few times my monopoly on state violence actually made our citizens safer, and even then, it’s hard to say better-funded social safety nets and dozens of other community care specialists wouldn’t have prevented a problem before it started.

Armed, indoctrinated (and dare I say, traumatized) cops do not make you safer; community mutual aid networks who can unite other people with the resources they need to stay fed, clothed, and housed make you safer. I really want to hammer this home: every cop in your neighborhood is damaged by their training, emboldened by their immunity, and they have a gun and the ability to take your life with near-impunity. This does not make you safer, even if you’re white.

How do you solve a problem like a bastard?

So, what do we do about it? Even though I’m an expert on bastardism, I am not a public policy expert nor an expert in organizing a post-police society. So, before I give some suggestions, let me tell you what probably won’t solve the problem of bastard cops:

·      Increased “bias” training. A quarterly or even monthly training session is not capable of covering over years of trauma-based camaraderie in police forces. I can tell you from experience, we don’t take it seriously, the proctors let us cheat on whatever “tests” there are, and we all made fun of it later over coffee.

·      Tougher laws. I hope you understand by now, cops do not follow the law and will not hold each other accountable to the law. Tougher laws are all the more reason to circle the wagons and protect your brothers and sisters.

·      More community policing programs. Yes, there is a marginal effect when a few cops get to know members of the community, but look at the protests of 2020: many of the cops pepper-spraying journalists were probably the nice school cop a month ago.

Police officers do not protect and serve people, they protect and serve the status quo, “polite society,” and private property. Using the incremental mechanisms of the status quo will never reform the police because the status quo relies on police violence to exist. Capitalism requires a permanent underclass to exploit for cheap labor and it requires the cops to bring that underclass to heel.

Instead of wasting time with minor tweaks, I recommend exploring the following ideas:

·      No more qualified immunity. Police officers should be personally liable for all decisions they make in the line of duty.

·      No more civil asset forfeiture. Did you know that every year, citizens like you lose more cash and property to unaccountable civil asset forfeiture than to all burglaries combined? The police can steal your stuff without charging you with a crime and it makes some police departments very rich.

·      Break the power of police unions. Police unions make it nearly impossible to fire bad cops and incentivize protecting them to protect the power of the union. A police union is not a labor union; police officers are powerful state agents, not exploited workers.

·      Require malpractice insurance. Doctors must pay for insurance in case they botch a surgery, police officers should do the same for botching a police raid or other use of force. If human decency won’t motivate police to respect human life, perhaps hitting their wallet might.

·      Defund, demilitarize, and disarm cops. Thousands of police departments own assault rifles, armored personnel carriers, and stuff you’d see in a warzone. Police officers have grants and huge budgets to spend on guns, ammo, body armor, and combat training. 99 percent of calls for service require no armed response, yet when all you have is a gun, every problem feels like target practice. Cities are not safer when unaccountable bullies have a monopoly on state violence and the equipment to execute that monopoly.

One final idea: consider abolishing the police.

I know what you’re thinking, “What? We need the police! They protect us!” As someone who did it for nearly a decade, I need you to understand that by and large, police protection is marginal, incidental. It’s an illusion created by decades of copaganda designed to fool you into thinking these brave men and women are holding back the barbarians at the gates.

I alluded to this above: the vast majority of calls for service I handled were theft reports, burglary reports, domestic arguments that hadn’t escalated into violence, loud parties, (houseless) people loitering, traffic collisions, very minor drug possession, and arguments between neighbors. Mostly the mundane ups and downs of life in the community, with little inherent danger. And, like I mentioned, the vast majority of crimes I responded to (even violent ones) had already happened; my unaccountable license to kill was irrelevant.

What I mainly provided was an “objective” third party with the authority to document property damage, ask people to chill out or disperse, or counsel people not to beat each other up. A trained counselor or conflict resolution specialist would be ten-times more effective than someone with a gun strapped to his hip wondering if anyone would try to kill him when he showed up. There are many models for community safety that can be explored if we get away from the idea that the only way to be safe is to have a man with a M4 rifle prowling your neighborhood ready at a moment’s notice to write down your name and birthday after you’ve been robbed and beaten.

You might be asking, “What about the armed robbers, the gangsters, the drug dealers, the serial killers?” And yes, in the city I worked, I regularly broke up gang parties, found gang members carrying guns, and handled homicides. I’ve seen some tragic things, from a reformed gangster shot in the head with his brains oozing out to a fifteen-year-old boy taking his last breath in his screaming mother’s arms thanks to a gang member’s bullet. I know the wages of violence.

This is where we have to have the courage to ask: why do people rob? Why do they join gangs? Why do they get addicted to drugs or sell them? It’s not because they are inherently evil. I submit to you that these are the results of living in a capitalist system that grinds people down and denies them housing, medical care, human dignity, and a say in their government. These are the results of white supremacy pushing people to the margins, excluding them, disrespecting them, and treating their bodies as disposable.

Equally important to remember—disabled and mentally ill people are frequently killed by police officers not trained to recognize and react to disabilities or mental health crises. Some of the people we picture as “violent offenders” are often people struggling with untreated mental illness, often due to economic hardships. Very frequently, the officers sent to “protect the community” escalate this crisis and ultimately wound or kill the person. Your community was not made safer by police violence; a sick member of your community was killed because it was cheaper than treating them. Are you extremely confident you’ll never get sick one day too?

Wrestle with this for a minute: if all of someone’s material needs were met and all the members of their community were fed, clothed, housed, and dignified, why would they need to join a gang? Why would they need to risk their lives selling drugs or breaking into buildings? If mental healthcare was free and was not stigmatized, how many lives would that save?

Would there still be a few bad actors in the world? Sure, probably. What’s my solution for them, you’re no doubt asking. I’ll tell you what: generational poverty, food insecurity, houselessness, and for-profit medical care are all problems that can be solved in our lifetimes by rejecting the dehumanizing meat grinder of capitalism and white supremacy. Once that’s done, we can work on the edge cases together, with clearer hearts not clouded by a corrupt system.

Police abolition is closely related to the idea of prison abolition and the entire concept of banishing the carceral state, meaning, creating a society focused on reconciliation and restorative justice instead of punishment, pain, and suffering—a system that sees people in crisis as humans, not monsters. People who want to abolish the police typically also want to abolish prisons, and the same questions get asked: “What about the bad guys? Where do we put them?” I bring this up because abolitionists don’t want to simply replace cops with armed social workers or prisons with casual detention centers full of puffy leather couches and Playstations. We imagine a world not divided into good guys and bad guys, but rather a world where people’s needs are met and those in crisis receive care, not dehumanization.

Here’s legendary activist and thinker Angela Y. Davis putting it better than I ever could:

“An abolitionist approach that seeks to answer questions such as these would require us to imagine a constellation of alternative strategies and institutions, with the ultimate aim of removing the prison from the social and ideological landscapes of our society. In other words, we would not be looking for prisonlike substitutes for the prison, such as house arrest safeguarded by electronic surveillance bracelets. Rather, positing decarceration as our overarching strategy, we would try to envision a continuum of alternatives to imprisonment—demilitarization of schools, revitalization of education at all levels, a health system that provides free physical and mental care to all, and a justice system based on reparation and reconciliation rather than retribution and vengeance.” (Are Prisons Obsolete, pg. 107)

I’m not telling you I have the blueprint for a beautiful new world. What I’m telling you is that the system we have right now is broken beyond repair and that it’s time to consider new ways of doing community together. Those new ways need to be negotiated by members of those communities, particularly Black, indigenous, disabled, houseless, and citizens of color historically shoved into the margins of society. Instead of letting Fox News fill your head with nightmares about Hispanic gangs, ask the Hispanic community what they need to thrive. Instead of letting racist politicians scaremonger about pro-Black demonstrators, ask the Black community what they need to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. If you truly desire safety, ask not what your most vulnerable can do for the community, ask what the community can do for the most vulnerable.

A world with fewer bastards is possible

If you take only one thing away from this essay, I hope it’s this: do not talk to cops. But if you only take two things away, I hope the second one is that it’s possible to imagine a different world where unarmed Black people, indigenous people, poor people, disabled people, and people of color are not routinely gunned down by unaccountable police officers. It doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, this requires a leap of faith into community models that might feel unfamiliar, but I ask you:

When you see a man dying in the street begging for breath, don’t you want to leap away from that world?

When you see a mother or a daughter shot to death sleeping in their beds, don’t you want to leap away from that world?

When you see a twelve-year-old boy executed in a public park for the crime of playing with a toy, Jesus fucking Christ, can you really just stand there and think “This is normal?”

And to any cops who made it this far down, is this really the world you want to live in? Aren’t you tired of the trauma? Aren’t you tired of the soul sickness inherent to the badge? Aren’t you tired of looking the other way when your partners break the law? Are you really willing to kill the next George Floyd, the next Breonna Taylor, the next Tamir Rice? How confident are you that your next use of force will be something you’re proud of? I’m writing this for you too: it’s wrong what our training did to us, it’s wrong that they hardened our hearts to our communities, and it’s wrong to pretend this is normal.

Look, I wouldn’t have been able to hear any of this for much of my life. You, reading this now, may not be able to hear this yet either. But do me this one favor: just think about it. Just turn it over in your mind for a couple minutes. “Yes, And” me for a minute. Look around you and think about the kind of world you want to live in. Is it one where an all-powerful stranger with a gun keeps you and your neighbors in line with the fear of death, or can you picture a world where, as a community, we embrace our most vulnerable, meet their needs, heal their wounds, honor their dignity, and make them family instead of desperate outsiders?

If you take only three things away from this essay, I hope the third is this: you and your community don’t need bastards to thrive.



5) Why We Let White-Collar Criminals Get Away With Their Crimes

By James B. Stewart, Sept. 29, 2020


From left: Michael Cohen; Michael Flynn; Paul Manafort; Roger Stone. These former associates of President Trump have been convicted of various crimes. In “Big Dirty Money,” Jennifer Taub examines our justice system’s history of leniency toward white collar criminality. Credit...From left: Craig Ruttle/Associated Press; Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images; Shawn Thew/EPA, via Shutterstock; Shawn Thew/EPA, via Shutterstock


The Shocking Injustice and Unseen Cost of White Collar Crime

By Jennifer Taub

298 pp. Viking. $28

Donald Trump is not the ostensible subject of “Big Dirty Money,” Jennifer Taub’s polemic against America’s failure to curb the destructive criminal tendencies of the very rich. Yet the president, his friends and former Trump campaign and administration officials parade through these pages. The latest example may be Steve Bannon, Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, whose arrest in August on fraud charges came too late for inclusion in Taub’s book.


Trump is very rich, although how rich remains a subject of investigation, given the wildly varying and self-serving values he’s assigned his many real estate assets. He has escaped the consequences of what amounts to a lifetime of dubious business dealings. As Taub, a law professor at Western New England University, writes, “Trump took advantage of a system that gives first, second, third and seemingly infinite chances to the elite.”


As president, he has been investigated, impeached, tried and summarily acquitted for high crimes and misdemeanors over his dealings with Ukraine and attempts to impede Congress. Trump also oversees the Justice Department and its investigations of white-collar crime, including cases involving many of his friends and associates. It should thus be no surprise that white-collar prosecutions on his watch have plummeted. He hasn’t hesitated to enlist his compliant attorney general, William P. Barr, in the effort to gain leniency for friends like his former campaign adviser Roger Stone and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Both were accused of lying under oath — one of the most common crimes committed by the wealthy and well connected.


The president wields the power of the pardon, and Trump has freely used it on behalf of wealthy white-collar criminals. He did so earlier this year for Michael Milken and Eddie DeBartolo Jr., sending a powerful message that white-collar crimes don’t really matter, even though white-collar crime in America “costs victims an estimated $300 billion to $800 billion per year,” Taub reports, while “street-level ‘property’ crimes, including burglary, larceny and theft, cost us far less — around $16 billion annually, according to the F.B.I.”


Trump is a stark illustration of why so few wealthy malefactors are held accountable. Like other members of the .01 percent, he can act with seeming impunity, able to buy or influence his way out of trouble. He empathizes with rich people who run afoul of the law. He minimizes their guilt, suggesting white-collar crimes aren’t really crimes, especially when the accused are white men, as the vast majority of all rich white-collar criminals are. Yet Trump is a symptom, not the cause.


Taub is hardly the first author to call attention to the American justice system’s curious indifference to white-collar crime, apart from occasional spasms of attention triggered by populist indignation. Brandon L. Garrett’s “Too Big to Jail” (2014) and John C. Coffee Jr.’s “Corporate Crime and Punishment: The Crisis of Underenforcement” (2020) are excellent examples.


But Taub explicitly and persuasively places the breakdown of enforcement and accountability in the context of money and class. She notes that the phrase “white-collar crime” was coined in 1939 by the sociologist Edwin Sutherland to describe an offense committed by “a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.” This association with respectability manifests itself throughout the justice system. Prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges are largely white, well-educated, affluent men and, increasingly, women, who, consciously or not, Taub suggests, identify with the white-collar defendants who come within their purview.


Asked about the startling lack of high-profile criminal cases after the 2008 financial crisis, Lanny Breuer, who served as the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s criminal division during the Obama administration, told “Frontline” that the department looked “hard” at potential cases but couldn’t prove intent. “That’s the old standby excuse in any white-collar case,” Taub maintains.


Attorney General Barr identified lack of intent as a key factor in his swift exoneration of President Trump on obstruction of justice charges, an issue the special counsel Robert Mueller had said he couldn’t resolve.


Intent is a subjective standard, and usually must be inferred: Hardly any accused criminals admit they acted intentionally, with a guilty state of mind. Yet the jurors in the 2004 trial of Martha Stewart, to cite just one of Taub’s case studies, had no trouble inferring intent in finding Stewart guilty of lying to federal officials in connection with her suspiciously timed stock trades. (That case was brought by then United States Attorney James Comey, who was fired by Trump as the director of the F.B.I. after he turned up the heat on the investigation of the Trump administration’s contacts with Russia.)


Taub poses a simple question and a provocative thesis: Why don’t more prosecutors just lay out the facts about intent and let juries decide? Isn’t it because on some level their empathy with the affluent, high-ranking executives they’re investigating prevents them from doing so?


Needless to say, such delicate issues of intent rarely arise in petty street crimes.


A defendant’s social and economic status is even more obvious at sentencing. One might think that a person with all the wealth and advantages that society confers might be deemed more, rather than less, culpable than ordinary street criminals. On the contrary, many judges seem to believe that a fall from grace is punishment enough, especially since white-collar defendants (often older white men) pose little danger to society, at least with respect to committing violent crimes.


Some judges seem to shudder at the thought of people like themselves in prison. Taub suggests that they feel the prison environment is tougher for white-collar criminals than the presumably more streetwise non-white-collar ones.


Although the conviction and sentencing of Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen happened too recently for Taub to mention, Cohen seems a classic beneficiary of judiciary deference. Sentenced to three years in prison for campaign finance violations and lying to Congress, Cohen was released early to home confinement out of concern he might contract Covid-19. Soon after, he was photographed dining at the posh Le Bilboquet restaurant near his Park Avenue apartment.


Paul Manafort, another Trump crony, faced 19 to 24 years in prison in one of two cases against him, for an array of crimes including tax fraud and money laundering. After noting Manafort’s “otherwise blameless life,” the judge in the case gave him just four years in prison. (He was sentenced to an additional three and a half years in the second case.) But no matter: Like Cohen, Manafort was released early over Covid-19 concerns. Trump has said repeatedly that Manafort’s prosecution was unfair.


Or consider Taub’s account of Deborah Kelley, a broker who admitted to paying more than $100,000 in bribes to a portfolio manager with New York’s giant state pension fund and then lying about it. She faced up to five years in prison, but instead was sentenced to home confinement and probation because the judge thought she was “a good person.”


“Such empathy rarely extends to the burglar or the small-time drug dealer,” Taub notes. “The lack of similar concern for poor offenders is astonishing,” she says. By this juncture, readers’ blood may have reached the boiling point. They’re unlikely to cool down after Taub turns to a list of six possible solutions — from creating a new Justice Department division focused on “big money criminals” to extending protections for investigative journalists and whistle-blowers. These are earnest and well intentioned but small bore given the scope of the problem she so vividly illustrates.


Solving it will require a broad shift in an American culture that celebrates the accumulation of wealth and too often turns a blind eye to — or even glorifies — the success of the white-collar criminal.



6) Why Did Hundreds of Thousands of Women Drop Out of the Workforce?

In some families buckling under the caregiving burden, the lower wage earner is leaving the workforce. Usually that’s the wife.

By Alisha Haridasani Gupta, Oct. 3, 2020

Some women are opting out of the workforce as the multiple burdens between work and home become too great to bear. Credit...Brittany Hosea-Small/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“The bigger the wage gap across spouses, the smaller the labor supply of the secondary earner, which is typically the wife.” — Stefania Albanesi, an economics professor at the University of Pittsburgh


The September jobs numbers, released by the Labor Department on Friday, confirmed what economists and experts had feared: The recession unleashed by the pandemic is sidelining hundreds of thousands of women and wiping out the hard-fought gains they made in the workplace over the past few years.


While the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 7.9 percent in September, far below the record high of nearly 15 percent in April, a large part of that drop was driven not so much by economic growth — though there were some job gains — but by hundreds of thousands of people leaving the job market altogether.


A majority of those dropping out were women. Of the 1.1 million people ages 20 and over who left the work force (neither working nor looking for work) between August and September, over 800,000 were women, according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center. That figure includes 324,000 Latinas and 58,000 Black women. For comparison, 216,000 men left the job market in the same time period.


From the start of the pandemic, the job losses among women have been a direct result of the collapse of female-dominated industries like hospitality, education, entertainment and even some parts of the health care system.


But even as parts of the economy stirred back to life, recent data suggests that some women are actually beginning to opt out.


One of the key factors in their decision? The persistent gender wage gap, experts said.


“The earnings gap issue is a big part of the story at this point,” said Stefania Albanesi, an economics professor at the University of Pittsburgh who has studied gender inequalities in the work force.


Throughout the year, there have been signs of women buckling under the burden of unpaid labor while juggling full-time jobs. A report from Lean In and McKinsey & Company, published in September, found that of 40,000 women surveyed across corporate America between May and August, 1 in 4 was contemplating resigning or downshifting her career — perhaps going part time, leaving for a less demanding job or finding a job with better work-life balance.


As the caregiving burden increased, with many schools and child care centers still shuttered heading into the fall, many women — particularly white women — made the decision to bow out of the work force.


The labor participation rate in September among white women ages 20 and older was 56.3 percent, down from 58.3 percent in the same period last year. For Black women, it was 59.8 percent, down from 62 percent last September, and the participation rate for Hispanic or Latina women was 57 percent, down from 61 percent a year earlier.


“White families tend to have higher wealth and higher average income so they can afford to reduce labor supply, compared to most African-American households, where earnings are quite low,” Professor Albanesi said.


When making the decision as to who will look after kids or sick family members, it only makes economic sense for the higher-wage earner to go back to work or keep working, Professor Albanesi explained, and in a dual-income household, more often than not, the higher-wage earner is a man.


“The bigger the wage gap across spouses, the smaller the labor supply of the secondary earner, which is typically the wife,” she said.


Dropping out of the work force completely has long-term consequences not just for the woman trying to re-enter the work force down the line but also for women’s overall position in the work force, said Matthias Doepke, an economics professor at Northwestern University who is the co-author of a report published in August about the gendered impacts of this economic recession.


“First of all, it takes some time to find a new job,” Professor Doepke said, “but what’s actually more important is that it’s even more difficult to find a job that is comparable and to get back to the same career position.”


“So we see that even decades after a recession, people who lost their jobs often have low earnings,” he added.


That, in turn, has an impact on the wage gap. According to Professor Doepke’s research, this recession will likely widen that gap by five percentage points, further perpetuating the conditions that drove women out of the workplace this year.


When women do step out of the work force, whether it’s because they were laid off or because they stepped out voluntarily, they are more likely to stay out of the work force longer, said Kweilin Ellingrud, a senior partner at McKinsey and co-author of its report with Lean In. “That is a very worrisome story.”


“We’ve now lost a lot of ground that we had gained very, very slowly over the last decade,” she added.


Francesca Donner contributed reporting.



7) ‘Fifth Girl’ in 1963 Church Bombing Gets an Apology From Alabama’s Governor

Gov. Kay Ivey offered to have state officials meet with lawyers for a maimed survivor of an infamous racist attack in Birmingham to discuss restitution for an “egregious injustice.”

By Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Oct. 3, 2020

Sarah Collins Rudolph was severely injured in an attack that occurred at a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. Credit...Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sarah Collins Rudolph had appealed to local and state leaders in Alabama for years, asking for some form of restitution, after the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. The explosion blinded her right eye, killed her sister and three other girls, and started a struggle with injuries and trauma that weighs on Ms. Rudolph to this day.


This week, after 57 years, a formal apology from the governor of Alabama brought her one step closer to resolution.


The victims and their families “suffered an egregious injustice that has yielded untold pain and suffering over the ensuing decades,” Gov. Kay Ivey wrote in a letter dated Wednesday. “For that, they most certainly deserve a sincere, heartfelt apology — an apology that I extend today without hesitation or reservation.”


Lawyers representing Ms. Rudolph, 69, said that while the apology was extremely significant and meaningful to their client, an Alabama native, it was only part of what was needed. In a Sept. 14 letter to the governor, they called on the state not just to apologize but also to compensate Ms. Rudolph “to right the wrongs that its past leaders encouraged and incited.”


Ishan Bhabha, one of her lawyers, said on Saturday that the quest for restitution had always been a “two-part endeavor.”


He said that Ms. Rudolph lives with physical disabilities resulting from the explosion that have curtailed her opportunities in life and that she has tremendous medical bills to pay, adding that the explosion had “put her life on a fundamentally different track.”


Ms. Rudolph still bears the scars from when dynamite exploded at the church, killing four Black girls: Denise McNair, who was 11, and Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Addie Mae Collins, Ms. Rudolph’s sister, who were 14.


She spent more than a month in the hospital, missing her sister’s funeral, after surgeons had removed more than 20 shards of glass from her body. It took a long time before she was able to talk openly about being the “fifth girl” in the infamous bombing of the church by Ku Klux Klan members, Ms. Rudolph said in an interview in September. The explosion, she said, “shook the whole city of Birmingham.”


In her letter of apology on Wednesday, which was addressed to Mr. Bhabha, Ms. Ivey wrote that the day of the bombing, “Sept. 15, 1963, was one of the darkest days in Alabama’s history.” But she wrote that “many would question whether the State can be held legally responsible for what happened at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church so long ago.”


Mr. Bhabha said that while Alabama is very different today than it was in 1963, when the governor, George Wallace, was promising “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” the state had still played a crucial role in the attacks by protecting those responsible for years afterward. The first defendant in the case was not convicted until 1977, and others not until after the turn of the century.


“You don’t have those kinds of events without an environment created to facilitate them,” Mr. Bhabha said.


Ms. Ivey’s letter did not close the door to restitution. She suggested that lawyers from her office and the State Legislature meet with Ms. Rudolph’s representatives to discuss the issue further. Alison Stein, another of Ms. Rudolph’s lawyers, said they were looking forward to a “cooperative process” with the governor’s office.


The bombing of the church attracted national outrage at a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement, thrusting the horrors of racism into the spotlight and influencing future legislation. The governor’s apology comes at another moment when violence against Black Americans is in the national spotlight, and outraged demonstrators have taken to the streets to condemn systemic racism.


Now, “some measure of justice” for Ms. Rudolph is finally achievable, Mr. Bhabha said.


Allyson Waller contributed reporting.



8) Workers Face Permanent Job Losses as the Virus Persists

Soon, a wave of people will have been out of work for more than six months, the threshold for long-term unemployment.

By Jeanna Smialek, Ben Casselman and Gillian Friedman, Oct. 3, 2020

Millions of people who lost jobs in March and April, like Nathaniel Claridad, an actor in New York, are hitting the six-month mark that defines long-term joblessness in the United States. Credit...Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

The United States economy is facing a tidal wave of long-term unemployment as millions of people who lost jobs early in the pandemic remain out of work six months later and job losses increasingly turn permanent.


The Labor Department said on Friday that 2.4 million people had been out of work for 27 weeks or more, the threshold it uses to define long-term joblessness. An even bigger surge is on the way: Nearly five million people are approaching long-term joblessness over the next two months. The same report showed that even as temporary layoffs were on the decline, permanent job losses were rising sharply.


Those two problems — rising long-term unemployment and permanent job losses — are separate but intertwined and, together, could foreshadow a period of prolonged economic damage and financial pain for American families.


Companies that are limping along below capacity this far into the crisis may be increasingly unlikely to ever recall their employees. History also suggests the longer that people are out of work, the harder it is for them to get back into a job.


To be sure, the labor market has bounced back more quickly than most forecasters expected in the spring. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.9 percent in September from 14.7 percent in April. But progress has slowed, and there are signs of more lasting damage. Through September, the economy had regained only about half of the 22 million jobs it lost between February and April.


High-interaction businesses like restaurants, theaters, casinos, conferences and cruises are struggling to fully reopen as the coronavirus continues to spread, leaving many workers out of jobs.


Disney announced this past week that it would lay off 28,000 U.S. employees as its theme parks struggle. Layoff notices filed with state authorities show that hospitality and service companies across the country, from P.F. Chang’s restaurant branches to Gap stores, are making thousands of long-term staff reductions. Airport bookstores in Pennsylvania and Tennessee are cutting jobs as travel dwindles. So are wineries and upscale sports clubs in California.


Airline job cuts run to the tens of thousands. American Airlines started to send furlough notices to 19,000 workers and United Airlines to 13,000 after a federal moratorium expired on Thursday. Those are on top of reductions at other carriers, and existing firings across the industry.


Altogether, nearly 3.8 million people had lost their jobs permanently in September, according to the Labor Department’s latest monthly survey, almost twice as many as at the height of the pandemic job losses, in April.


As a result, the employment rebound, which was initially rapid, may begin to feel more like the grinding healing process that dragged on for a full decade after the Great Recession, economists warned.


“The risk is that you end up with people permanently detached from the labor market, and either you never get them back in or it takes you 10 years to get them back in, like it did the last time,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics. “The economic consequences are that you depress future growth.”


The slow recovery from the Great Recession, when the tally of the long-term unemployed neared seven million, made it clear that extended spells out of work can haunt workers, locking them out of job opportunities or reducing pay.


Whether that penalty holds true in the pandemic-induced downturn remains unclear, but the economic repercussions of having a large number of workers sidelined will undoubtedly weigh on the United States’ economic potential and disrupt lives.


Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, has warned that a “significant group” of people may “still be struggling to find jobs” even as the labor market strengthens.


Longer-term unemployment can be “very damaging to people’s lives and their working lives,” Mr. Powell said at a news conference this year.


The risk of permanent job loss weighs heavily on workers like MacKenzie Nicholson of Nottingham, N.H., who lost her job with the American Cancer Society in June after the pandemic cut into the organization’s fund-raising. Her husband, a service manager at a Jeep dealership, kept his job after a brief furlough, but his income is not enough to cover their monthly expenses.


Ms. Nicholson plans to start picking up gig shifts with DoorDash and Uber in the evenings, once her husband gets home from work and can take over watching their two young children.


“I’ll be saying goodbye to my husband when he gets in the door,” she said. “It won’t be ideal for our marriage.”


It’s hard for Ms. Nicholson, 30, to square the anxiety over meeting basic needs with the life she had one year ago, when she and her husband bought their first home, providing a sense of security. Now their mortgage payment feels like an albatross, and a simple trip to Target feels out of reach.


“My daughter ran out of toothpaste and I put it on the shopping list, and then realized we could use the sample bottles we get from the dentist to hold out for a few weeks,” Ms. Nicholson said. “I’m making disgusting casseroles with everything I have in the fridge so I don’t have to go grocery shopping.”


Lasting joblessness is a comparatively new problem in the United States. Europe, where social safety nets are more generous and labor rules are stricter, has long had high rates of extended unemployment. But economists once thought that the United States’ less restrictive, more dynamic labor market made it relatively immune. Even in the brutal recessions of the early 1980s, when the unemployment rate topped 10 percent, less than a quarter of job seekers had remained out of work longer than six months.


That has changed in recent decades, as the sluggish “jobless recoveries” that followed the past three recessions left a large share of workers unable to find jobs for months or years. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, nearly half of all job seekers had been unemployed long term. Many younger people dropped out of the job market altogether, while long-term unemployment for workers older than 50 stayed at high levels for years.


This is a very different crisis, both in swiftness and in breadth. Workers in entire industries were furloughed practically overnight, with little regard for their unique skills and performance. Employers may not fault future applicants for those lost jobs.


“It’s not clear to me that anyone’s going to hold it against you that you were an unemployed waiter for nine months,” said Jay Shambaugh, a George Washington University economist.


But there is mounting evidence that the long-term jobless will face a harder road back to work. In August, newly unemployed workers — out of work less than five weeks — were twice as likely to find jobs as those out of work more than six months.


Many people who aren’t looking for work now because they believe they are on temporary layoff may find that their jobs never return. They may be “frozen in place by the uncertainty of not knowing what the economy is going to look like,” said Thomas Barkin, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.


If losses do turn permanent, it’s unclear how quickly workers will be able to shift into new roles. People with similar backgrounds tend to apply for similar jobs, which could lead to a glut of available workers in categories that lack the demand to absorb them.


Jose Martinez, 47, a houseman at the DoubleTree Metropolitan hotel in Midtown Manhattan for 26 years, remains hopeful he will retain his job. He was laid off in April, and despite several setbacks, he said he expects to return this coming week because his union contract requires that workers be brought back according to tenure. His wife also works at the hotel, but she has not been there for as long and is more likely to remain out of work longer.


“There are hotels that are closing, but it’s mostly the smaller hotels,” Mr. Martinez said. “I have faith that I’ll be back at work.”


Nathaniel Claridad is less certain what the future holds, though he, too, hopes for a return to normalcy. He was acting in a show in Florida when Broadway closed. Days later, the artistic director informed him and the rest of the cast and crew that they were free to go — they were shutting down as well.


Fast forward six months and Mr. Claridad, who had another show and a concert postponed and saw his job selling tickets at a Midtown theater wilt away, remains unemployed. He’s current on rent for the Washington Heights apartment he shares with his employed partner, and he’s hopeful that his shows will take place in 2021 — but he’s starting to pick up Zoom directing gigs here and there, and he is applying to teaching jobs.


“It’s getting to the time now where I have to decide what to do, in terms of income,” Mr. Claridad, 38, said. But there are downsides to looking for work when your colleagues with similar skill sets are doing the same.


“Talking with friends, it feels like the market is saturated with people like me who are looking for another source of income,” he said.


Labor supply also remains an issue. Employers report that many workers, including those who are older, are nervous about returning given the health threat. People with children, particularly women, are struggling to return to jobs because they have limited child care options with schools and day cares all or partly closed.


Women’s participation rate — the share working or looking for work — dropped last month to its lowest level since 1987, excluding April and May this year. The household employment survey suggested that they might have lost more than 140,000 jobs in September, though a separate survey of businesses showed them still eking out gains.


The people most at risk of getting stuck on the sidelines in this crisis are in many cases those least prepared to take the hit.


Minority groups have seen bigger spikes in unemployment during the pandemic era — and getting back to work is taking them longer, suggesting that they are likely to make up a disproportionate share of the long-term unemployed.


Black joblessness jumped higher earlier in the recession and is declining more slowly than that for white workers: It stood at 12.1 percent in September, compared with 7 percent for white adults. Hispanic unemployment jumped at the onset of the crisis but is declining relatively quickly. Even so, it stood at 10.3 percent last month.


Those groups hold far less wealth, so they are less financially prepared for a long period out of work.


For now, unemployment is falling across demographic groups as layoffs end, and some economists are hopeful that the rebound will continue — though most warn that recovery will remain incomplete until the virus is under control.


Mr. Barkin at the Richmond Fed is urging communities and policymakers to think about retraining options now, in recognition that some share of the work force may find that its old skills are obsolete.


“It’s a virtual certainty that there are going to be large scarring effects for workers in certain industries,” said Alicia Sasser Modestino, an economist at Northeastern University. “What will those workers do with the skill sets that they have?”



9) Why a Hospital Might Shun a Black Patient

The way medical professionals are paid keeps structural racism alive. It’s unethical and it must change.

By Amol S. Navathe and Harald Schmidt, Dr. Navathe and Dr. Schmidt are professors of health policy, Oct. 6, 2020

Maskot/Getty Images

Doctors like to do good. They also like to make money. Technically, the ways in which physicians are paid are “colorblind.” Despite this, they contribute to inequality. It’s time to fix payment models that don’t address Covid-19’s disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities and don’t align with broader efforts to make health care fair.


Research shows that doctors are more likely to choose procedures and treatments that are more profitable for them, whether these are better for patients or not. For example, cancer doctors frequently recommend higher-cost chemotherapy because they profit handsomely from it. And hospitals do more of the kinds of surgeries that come with high profit margins, like hip and knee replacements and heart valve procedures, while limiting unprofitable services like psychiatry wards either by keeping only a small number of spots for patients or by simply not offering a dedicated psychiatry ward at all.


The approach used most frequently by health insurers to remedy this is to financially motivate hospitals to control costs and improve quality by tying payments to achieving these goals. The aim is laudable and some programs do benefit disadvantaged populations. The Pennsylvania Rural Health Model, for example, is a collaborative effort by Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurers to provide a fixed payment to rural hospitals each year for all the health care services they provide. Because they’re receiving a fixed payment, hospitals can worry less about which services are more profitable and instead focus on preserving access and improving care for rural populations, whose health outcomes have lagged behind those of urban counterparts.


But because a vast majority of programs that tie payment to cost and quality goals aren’t focused on disadvantaged populations, they create incentives for hospitals to avoid patients from these groups.


For example, in the 1990s, the New York State Department of Health began grading surgeons who performed coronary bypass surgery and making their report cards available to the general public. The aim was to make outcomes more transparent and to help surgeons improve. But to this day, the initiative makes it harder for Black patients to get surgery. Why? Because statistically, outcomes are generally worse for Black patients because of larger issues of systemic racism. So surgeons avoid them to protect their scores.


Or consider the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, which penalizes hospitals for excessive re-hospitalization. Again, the intention is noble: to discourage hospitals from skimping on care in a patients’ initial hospitalization such that the patient returns to the hospital soon after being discharged. But since people with worse living and working conditions are readmitted more frequently, hospitals that serve more worse-off racial and ethnic minorities were more frequently penalized.


There are also so-called value-based payment reforms, under which physician groups and hospitals get bonuses if patients use less health care overall but still improve their health. If a patient is hospitalized too many times or fails to get blood pressure under control, the physician group or hospital must pay a penalty — kind of like a fine. These reforms have been adopted by Medicare (because the Affordable Care Act required it) and private insurers. They have rapidly become more popular over the past decade.


While this does have its benefits, it also means that sicker patients who need more care or those who face other challenges, like not having a caregiver at home, become economically unattractive to hospitals. That’s why fewer value-based initiatives have been taken up in communities that are home to more people of color or are worse off economically. And where such initiatives are offered, patients who belong to minority populations are more likely to be shunned at the expense of better-off white ones whom doctors see as likely to have better outcomes.


With each of these types of payment models, the initial intention regarding social justice may be unclear, unknown or even aimed at promoting it. A value-based payment reform model seems as innocent as a daisy and worlds apart from the most overt forms of structural racism, such as segregated transportation or drinking fountains. Yet, far too often, such models share the consequence of systematically disadvantaging some groups, whether as a result of the design of policies or culturally ingrained behavioral patterns.


So what can be done?


First, an explicit and integral goal of all payment reforms adopted by public and private health insurers should be to reduce racial disparities in patient health outcomes. When payment is tied to the achievement of pre-defined goals, those goals should include making health care better for disadvantaged populations and more fair overall.


Second, all payment reform programs should be subject to disparate-impact monitoring. Chiefly, this entails the insurers, including the federal and state governments, measuring and documenting the extent to which access to care of structurally disadvantaged populations is affected. This should include expedited reporting and data collection to “sense” changes in health care access and quality for minority populations more rapidly.


Third, we need a complete and detailed picture of the full extent to which payment reforms are conduits, or barriers, in reducing health disparities and structural racism. Building on related work by the National Academy of Medicine and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, similar groups should inventory the current landscape and make concrete recommendations for action.


The expression “Money talks” is typically used to mean that those who are better off are able to get what they want and deserve. Equity-oriented payment reforms can make money talk in a different way, a way that makes physicians and hospitals see every patient’s life as equally worth saving.


Amol S. Navathe and Harald Schmidt are assistant professors of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania.



10) Oscar Grant’s Killing Will Be Investigated Again, D.A. Says

In 2009, a transit officer fatally shot Oscar Grant III in the back in Oakland, setting off protests over the police treatment of Black people. A district attorney said she would reopen the investigation.

By Daniel Victor, Oct. 6, 2020


A street-side memorial to the shooting victim Oscar Grant in Oakland, Calif., in 2010. Credit...Paul Sakuma/Associated Press

The district attorney in Alameda County, Calif., said on Monday that she would reopen an investigation into the 2009 killing of Oscar Grant III, an event that spurred mass protests in Oakland and more than a decade of calls for justice after he was fatally shot in the back by a transit officer.


As one of the first fatal police shootings to be filmed on cellphone cameras and spread widely on social media, the death of the 22-year-old Mr. Grant, who was Black, has long festered in the Bay Area and beyond as an example of police brutality. Responding to a fight on a Bay Area Rapid Transit train, a white transit officer, Johannes Mehserle, shot Mr. Grant on New Year’s Day while he was lying facedown, unarmed, on a train platform at the Fruitvale Station.


Mr. Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in 2010 and served 11 months in prison. Supporters of Mr. Grant, including his family, have long felt that justice was not achieved.


The district attorney, Nancy O’Malley, said in a statement Monday that her office had “listened closely to the requests of the family of Oscar Grant.”


“I have assigned a team of lawyers to look back into the circumstances that caused the death of Oscar Grant,” she said. “We will evaluate the evidence and the law, including the applicable law at the time and the statute of limitations and make a determination.”


On Monday, Mr. Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, told reporters beside a mural of her son at the Bay Area Rapid Transit station where he was killed that Ms. O’Malley should charge a second officer, Anthony Pirone, with murder. Mr. Pirone, who is white, was seen on videos pulling Mr. Grant from the train, pinning him to the ground with a knee to his neck and using a racial slur.


“Absolutely we are hopeful that Nancy O’Malley and her team will do the right thing, and the right thing is to convict Pirone for his actions in causing my son to lose his life and be killed,” Ms. Johnson said, according to The Mercury News.


Mr. Mehserle has contended that the killing was an accident because he mistook his pistol for his stun gun, which he said he meant to use. He was found not guilty on charges of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter.


In 2019, the transit agency released a long-sealed report on the episode that laid much of the responsibility on Mr. Pirone. The report said he punched Mr. Grant without justification, lied to investigators and “started a cascade of events that ultimately led to the shooting.”


Mr. Pirone, who was fired but not charged in 2009, could not immediately be reached for comment.


Though predating the Black Lives Matter movement that has reshaped the American discussion on race and policing, Mr. Grant’s death in many ways mirrored those of other Black men and women whose deaths figured prominently in this summer’s nationwide protests. For some, the recent demonstrations were a catalyst to renew attention to Mr. Grant’s case.


In 2009, the killing set off often-violent protests in Oakland, with the police responding to arson and looting with tear gas and batons.


The killing was the basis of the critically praised 2013 movie “Fruitvale Station,” in which Michael B. Jordan depicted Mr. Grant in a dramatic retelling of his last 24 hours.


Adante Pointer, a lawyer for Mr. Grant’s family, told The Guardian that he was happy the investigation would be reopened, but that it may be too late.


“Is this political theater or is this serious criminal prosecution that is being considered?” he said. “Any good lawyer would know that many of the charges that could have easily been brought have ostensibly now been swept away by the sands of time. She once again sat on her hands until the community demanded action.”



11) In Louisville, Looking to Protests of the Past to Move Forward

Protesters of Breonna Taylor’s death are drawing on the city’s robust, if overlooked, history of civil rights struggle that has spanned generations.

By John Eligon and Will Wright, Oct. 6, 2020


The police killing of Breonna Taylor has thrust Louisville, Ky., back into a longtime battle for racial justice. Xavier Burrell for The New York Times

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — They gathered near the banks of the Ohio River this past weekend, about 100 deep, and began marching toward downtown, belting out chants that have become part of the city’s soundtrack.


“Bre-on-na Tay-lor!” “I love being Black!”


When they reached Jefferson Square Park, where protesters have held vigil since late May, the demonstrators lit candles, laid flowers and offered words that were by turns meant to soothe and to rally.


“Louisville has always responded to get justice,” said Raoul Cunningham, 77, the president of the city’s branch of the N.A.A.C.P., who participated in sit-ins in 1961 that helped lead to the integration of commercial businesses. “I think today’s demonstrations are a continuation or even an advancement of that quest,” he said.


As activists work to chart a path forward after prosecutors announced that the two Louisville police officers who fatally shot Breonna Taylor would not be charged, some are drawing on the city’s past to help guide them. Louisville has a robust, if overlooked, history of civil rights struggle that has spanned generations. Many see what is happening today as a continuation of that legacy.


During the civil rights movement, Louisville was a regular stop for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose brother served as a pastor in the city. There were sit-ins, pickets and marches that led to landmark victories: It was the first major city in the South to pass local civil rights and fair housing ordinances, and it was the rare Southern city to peacefully integrate its schools after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling.


The 1970s brought a violent clash over the use of busing to integrate schools. In the ’80s there was so much labor unrest that Louisville became known as Strike City.


In the nearly two weeks since the prosecution’s announcement, the street rallies have shrunk and the national news media has largely left. But marches are still happening nearly every night, as they have been for more than four months. An array of new activist organizations grew out of the response, created in part by many young people protesting for the first time. Together with legacy civil rights groups, they are pressing Ms. Taylor’s case on several fronts — advocating for legal consequences for the officers, public awareness, and state and local legislative changes.


The city is working to create a civilian oversight board that is stronger than the one currently overseeing the Police Department.


A local ordinance, known as “Breonna’s Law,” was passed banning no-knock warrants and expanding the requirements for the use of police body cameras. Attica Scott, a state representative, is sponsoring similar legislation at the state level that would also allow lawsuits against officials who violate a person’s civil rights, and would require drug and alcohol testing for officers after fatal encounters.


Ms. Scott, the lone Black woman in the State Legislature, said her parents, born in Louisville in the 1950s, had activism on their minds when she was born: She is named for the prison in upstate New York where inmates protested against inhumane conditions, she said.


Ms. Scott described growing up in a household where she saw her mother work to make sure that families could get affordable housing and where her parents supported the Black Panthers.


“Activism and social justice is at our core,” she said of Louisville residents. “That is who we are.”


Ms. Scott became a labor organizer in the city, and when she went to meetings and demonstrations, she would sometimes bring her daughter, Ashanti, in tow. Ashanti was about 8 when she accompanied her mother to a protest for increased wages and better conditions for retail workers. That stuck with her.


“It really showed me the importance of showing up, putting your body out there on the line, standing with your community,” Ashanti Scott, now 19, said. “And how vital that is to have your voice, whether it’s leading chants or following chants — that is some of the most important work.”


And so in late May, when she saw images of raucous downtown protests on social media, when she read the details of the killing of Ms. Taylor, who, like her, was young, Black and from Louisville, Ms. Scott knew she had no choice. She had to take to the streets.


In the months since, Ms. Scott has become one of the many first-time activists helping to sustain the movement. She goes to the downtown square, tweets about the case and protests about four times a week, she said.


She said she took inspiration, and saw something of a road map, from the past battles that Black people in Louisville fought — like the push to integrate Fontaine Ferry Park, an amusement park, on the West End, or the boycotts that helped to desegregate businesses.


Those efforts taught her to use protests to highlight injustice, she said, “so we can end it and get policy changes to keep Black people in Louisville secure in their homes and their communities.”


In the mid-20th century, Louisville was the stop for trains coming from the North where Black passengers had to move to the “colored cars” before continuing their southward journey, said Tracy E. K’Meyer, a historian at the University of Louisville and the author of “Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South.” But it also was the place where organized labor as well as liberal churches helped to produce a civil rights movement that was relatively interracial for its time.


“One of the things the ’60s era sort of bequeathed to us is a sort of playbook for activism,” Dr. K’Meyer said. “Some of my younger students, especially some of my more radical younger students, will say, ‘We’re not like them. We’re different from what they did back in the ’60s,’ while doing pretty much exactly what they did back in the ’60s.”


Some older movement leaders say that the younger generation has shown less patience at times, and that the current activist efforts can seem chaotic.


Shameka Parrish-Wright, a co-chair of the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, has been helping to guide some of the younger activists.


“They’re still reacting,” Ms. Parrish-Wright, 43, said. “They’re still processing and they’re doing it out loud.”


Ms. Parrish-Wright helped to set up the encampment in the downtown square — which activists now call Injustice Square Park — in late May when protesters began flooding the streets of Louisville. Ms. Taylor was killed in March at age 26, but her case only started receiving national attention in May after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.


The 40-year-old Alliance runs its operations out of the two-story Craftsman home where one of its founders, Anne Braden, who was white and died in 2006, lived in Louisville’s predominantly Black West End. Inside the home there is a clutter of cases of water and other supplies donated to support the protesters. Large yellow sheets of paper propped on an easel have lists of protest “demands” and “wins,” such as the ban on no-knock warrants.


Protesters have said they want more to come out of this moment, but as they continue to push, activists are encountering resistant public officials and internal disagreements that threaten to thwart their efforts.


On a Saturday evening last month, after one of the largest marches of the week, hundreds of demonstrators milled about Jefferson Square Park, looking for direction. What they got instead was a power struggle.


Some organizers urged the marchers to sit in the square past the city’s 9 p.m. curfew to force the Police Department’s hand in deciding whether to arrest peaceful demonstrators. Others wanted them to take sanctuary at a nearby church and feared that the police would destroy a memorial to Ms. Taylor in the square.


The group ultimately splintered. The remaining protesters ended up at the church, where arguments ensued over what to do next.


The following evening, with dozens gathered back at the church, Chris Wells, 31, an activist working to create his own organization, sought to patch any lingering wounds.


“I love y’all,” he told a crowd gathered around him. “We’re going to keep marching, keep stepping, but we’re going to do it together as one.”



























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

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