Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, October 9, 2020

Defend Dolores Park!

      October 17th, 12:00 P.M., Dolores Park, SF

Bay Area call-out to come stand with us against 
 hate group, Proud Boys and other far right 



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) 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.”



2) 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.”



3) Pandemic Exposes Holes in Sweden’s Generous Social Welfare State

Decades of budget-cutting and market reforms laid the ground for a wave of death in Swedish nursing homes.

By Peter S. Goodman and Erik Augustin Palm, Oct. 8, 2020

The Sabbatsbergsbyn nursing home in Stockholm, which is owned and operated by Sweden’s largest for-profit operator of nursing homes, struggled to control the spread of the coronavirus. Credit...Felix Odell for The New York Times

In the popular imagination, Sweden does not seem like the sort of country prone to accepting the mass death of grandparents to conserve resources in a pandemic.


Swedes pay some of the highest taxes on earth in exchange for extensive government services, including state-furnished health care and education, plus generous cash assistance for those who lose jobs. When a child is born, the parents receive 480 days of parental leave to use between them.


Yet among the nearly 6,000 people whose deaths have been linked to the coronavirus in Sweden, 2,694, or more than 45 percent, had been among the country’s most vulnerable citizens — those living in nursing homes.


That tragedy is in part the story of how Sweden has, over decades, gradually yet relentlessly downgraded its famously generous social safety net.


Since a financial crisis in the early 1990s, Sweden has slashed taxes and diminished government services. It has handed responsibility for the care of older people — mostly living at home — to strapped municipal governments, while opening up nursing homes to for-profit businesses. They have delivered cost savings by relying on part-time and temporary workers, who typically lack formal training in medicine and elder care.


This is how the nursing staff at the Sabbatsbergsbyn nursing home in the center of Stockholm found itself grappling with an impossible situation.


It was the middle of March, and several of the 106 residents, most of them suffering dementia, were already displaying symptoms of Covid-19. The staff had to be dedicated to individual wards while rigorously avoiding entering others to prevent transmission. But when the team presented this plan to the supervisors, they dismissed it, citing meager staffing, said one nurse, who spoke on the condition on anonymity, citing concerns about potential legal action.


The facility was owned and operated by Sweden’s largest for-profit operator of nursing homes, Attendo, whose stock trades on the Nasdaq Stockholm exchange. Last year, the company tallied revenue in excess of $1.3 billion.


On weekends and during night shifts, the nurse was frequently the only one on duty. The rest of the staff lacked proper protective gear, said the nurse and a care aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being fired. Management had given them basic cardboard masks — “the kind house painters wear,” the nurse said — while instructing them to use the same ones for days in a row. Some used plastic file folders and string to make their own visors.


By the time the nurse quit in May, at least 20 residents were dead, she said.


“The way we had to work went against everything we learned in school regarding disease control,” the nurse said. “I felt ashamed, because I knew that we were spreaders.”


The lowest-wage workers — who are paid hourly and lack the protection of contracts — continued showing up for shifts, even after falling ill, because government-furnished sick pay did not cover all of their lost wages, the care aide said.


“This is an undervalued part of the labor market,” said Marta Szebehely, an expert in elder care at Stockholm University. “Some care workers are badly paid, badly trained and have really bad employment conditions. And they were supposed to stop a transmission that nobody knew anything about, and without much support.”


Vulnerability in another area was central to the devastation: Over the last two decades, Sweden has substantially reduced its hospital capacity. During the worst of the initial outbreak, elderly people in nursing homes were denied access to hospitals for fear of overwhelming them.


When nursing home residents displayed Covid symptoms, guidelines in force in Stockholm in the initial phase of the pandemic encouraged physicians to prescribe palliative care — forgoing efforts to save lives in favor of keeping people comfortable in their final days — without examining patients or conducting blood or urine tests, said Dr. Yngve Gustafson, a professor of geriatrics at Umea University. He said that practice amounted to active euthanasia, which is illegal in Sweden.


“As a physician,” Dr. Gustafson said, “I feel ashamed that there are physicians who haven’t done an individual assessment before they decide whether or not the patient should die.”


In the United States, some 40 percent of total coronavirus deaths have been linked to nursing homes, according to a New York Times database. In Britain, Covid has been directly blamed in more than 15,000 nursing home deaths, according to government data.


But these are countries characterized by extreme levels of economic inequality. An estimated 45,000 Americans die every year for lack of health care, according to one report. Britons endured a decade of punishing austerity that battered the national health system.


Sweden is supposed to be immune to such dangers. Yet this country of only 10 million people has been ravaged by the coronavirus, with per capita death rates nearly as high as the United States, Britain and Spain, according to World Health Organization data.


One element appears to have substantially increased the risks: Sweden’s decision to avoid the lockdowns imposed in much of the rest of Europe as a means of limiting the virus. Though the government recommended social distancing, and many people worked from home, it kept schools open along with shops, restaurants and nightclubs. It did not require that people wear masks.


“There’s been more society transmission, and it’s been more difficult to hinder it from entering the care homes,” said Joacim Rocklov, an epidemiologist at Umea University. “The most precious time that we lost, our mistake was in the beginning.”


Those who operate private nursing homes in Sweden assert that residents have been the victims of the government’s failure to limit the spread of the virus.


“It’s the total transmission in society, that’s the key,” said Martin Tivéus, chief executive of Attendo, the company that owns the Sabbatsbergsbyn home in Stockholm.


Investigations by Swedish media have concluded that private nursing homes suffered lower death rates than their public counterparts. But experts say private and public homes are governed by the same decisive force: Municipalities handle elderly care, and taxpayers have been inclined to pay less.


For decades aggressive public spending was the rule in Sweden, rendering joblessness a rarity. By the beginning of the 1990s, a sense had taken hold that the state had overdone it. It was subsidizing industries that were not internationally competitive. Wages were rising faster than productivity, yielding inflation.


In 1992, Sweden’s central bank lifted interest rates as high as 75 percent to choke off inflation while preventing a plunge in the national currency, the krona. The next year, amid a tightening of credit, Sweden’s unemployment rate surged above 8 percent. The economy contracted, depleting municipal tax revenues.


This played out just as the policy sphere became infused with the thinking of economists like Milton Friedman, whose neoliberal principles placed faith in shrinking the state and lowering taxes as a source of dynamism.


From the middle of the 1990s through 2013, Sweden dropped its top income tax rate to 57 percent from 84 percent while eliminating levies on property, wealth and inheritance. The net effect was a reduction in government revenue equivalent to 7 percent of national economic output.


Under a 1992 law, Swedish elder care shifted from a reliance on nursing homes to an emphasis on home care. Part of the alteration was philosophical. Policymakers embraced the idea that older people would better enjoy their last years in their own homes, rather than in institutional settings.


But the shift was also driven by budget imperatives.


As a share of its economy, Sweden spends 3.2 percent a year on long-term care for the elderly, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, compared with 0.5 percent in the United States and 1.4 percent in Britain. Only the Netherlands and Norway spend more.


But that expenditure is now spread across a population with greater needs. With home care the rule, nursing homes are reserved for older people suffering from complex ailments.


Attendo said it had enough protective gear to satisfy Swedish guidelines, and more than public nursing homes had, but not enough to manage the pandemic. When the company realized it needed more, it confronted a global shortage.


“It took five or six weeks to get the volumes outside of China,” said Mr. Tivéus, the Attendo chief executive.


The shortages at Swedish nursing homes underscore the extent to which budget math has taken precedence over social welfare, say those who have watched the refashioning.


“What this pandemic has done is demonstrate a number of system errors that have gone under the radar for years,” said Olle Lundberg, secretary general of Forte, a health research council that is part of the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. “We totally rely on the global production chain and just-in-time delivery. The syringes we need today should be delivered in the morning. There is no safety margin. It may be very economically efficient in one way, but it’s very vulnerable.”


Mia Grane was unaware of the systemic issues when she moved her parents into the Sabbatsbergsbyn home in the summer of 2018.


In their younger days, her mother had been an Olympic swimmer. Now, she was descending into Alzheimer’s. Her father used a wheelchair.


The home sat in the center of Stockholm, a 15-minute bike ride from her apartment, with lovely gardens that were used for midsummer parties.


“It was a perfect place,” said Ms. Grane, 51. “They felt at home.”


But her confidence evaporated as the pandemic spread. When she asked the nursing home staff how it planned to manage the danger, it reassured her that everything was fine.


“I thought, ‘If this virus gets into this place,’” she said, “‘a lot of people are going to die.’”


A week later, she read in a local newspaper that a prominent Swedish musician had died. He had lived in the same ward as her parents. She called the home and was told that her father was suffering cold symptoms. A test showed that he had contracted Covid.


Ms. Grane urged the staff to transfer her father to the hospital. It told her that no one was making that journey, she said.


Nursing homes lack advanced medical equipment like ventilators, and hospitals were effectively off limits to nursing home residents.


“We knew that Sweden had fewer intensive care beds per inhabitants than Italy,” said Dr. Michael Broomé, a physician at an intensive care unit in Stockholm. “We had to think twice about whether to put elderly people with other conditions on ventilators.”


This forced the nursing home to administer comfort care, easing the pain with opioids as death approached.


Ms. Grane’s father died on April 2. “He was all alone,” she said.


She begged the staff to save her mother — “the most important person in my life.” But she wasn’t eating. A week later, her mother died, too.


Ms. Grane struggles to make sense of it — the staff not having proper masks, the hospital deemed off limits, the lack of concern about the nature of the threat.


“For me, it’s clear that they wanted to save costs,” she said. “In the end, it’s the money that talks.”



4) ‘I Won’t Be Used as a Guinea Pig for White People’

Mistrust of vaccines runs deep in African-American communities. Against formidable odds, Father Paul Abernathy and his teams are trying to convince residents of Pittsburgh’s historic Black neighborhoods to volunteer for trials testing a Covid-19 shot.

By Jan Hoffman, Photographs by Chang W. Lee, Oct. 7, 2020


Rev. Paul Abernathy and LaRay Moton, left, greeted Ms. Moton’s relatives and friends, gathered on a stoop at the Bedford Dwellings. Credit...Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

PITTSBURGH — The recruiters strode to the front of the room, wearing neon-yellow vests and resolute expressions. But to the handful of tenants overwhelmed by unemployment and gang violence in Northview Heights, the pitch verged on the ludicrous.


Would you like to volunteer for a clinical trial to test a coronavirus vaccine?


On this swampy-hot afternoon, the temperature of the room was wintry. “I won’t be used as a guinea pig for white people,” one tenant in the predominantly Black public housing complex declared. Another said she knew of five people who had died from the flu shot. Make Trump look good? a man scoffed — forget it. It’s safer to keep washing your hands, stay away from people and drink orange juice, a woman insisted, until the Devil’s coronavirus work passed over.


Then an older woman turned the question back on Carla Arnold, a recruiter from a local outreach group, who is well-known to people in the Heights:


“Miss Carla, would you feel comfortable allowing them to inject you?”


Ms. Arnold, 62, adjusted her seat to face them down, her eyes no-nonsense above a medical mask.


“They already did,” she replied.


The room stilled.


Recruiting Black volunteers for vaccine trials during a period of severe mistrust of the federal government and heightened awareness of racial injustice is a formidable task. So far, only about 3 percent of the people who have signed up nationally are Black.


Yet never has their inclusion in a medical study been more urgent. The economic and health impacts of the coronavirus are falling disproportionately hard on communities of color. It is essential, public health experts say, that research reflect diverse participation not only as a matter of social justice and sound practice but, when the vaccine becomes available, to help persuade Black, Latino and Native American people to actually get it. (The participation of Asian people is close to their share of the population.)


People of color face greater exposure to the virus, in part because many work in front line and essential jobs, and have high rates of diabetes, obesity and hypertension, all of which are risk factors for severe Covid-19. But even when those factors are accounted for, people of color still appear to have a higher risk of infection, for reasons researchers cannot yet pinpoint, said Dr. Nelson L. Michael, an infectious-disease expert at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.


“Historically, we test everything in white men,” said Dr. Michael, a member of the vaccine development team at Operation Warp Speed, the public-private partnership set up by the White House. “But the disease is coming after people of color, and we need to encourage them to volunteer because they have the highest burden of disease.”


Now, academic researchers at trial sites like Pittsburgh’s are turning to neighborhood leaders to attract more diverse pools of participants. The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh sponsored an information webinar and the New Pittsburgh Courier, which has a large, African-American readership, published articles about the trial.


And in the Hill District, which contains the city’s oldest Black neighborhoods, volunteers from the Neighborhood Resilience Project, a faith-based initiative that offers a food bank, clothing and a health clinic, are trying to reach people where the pandemic is raging in crowded, multigenerational homes.


The recruiters knock on doors and buttonhole neighbors. Sitting on worn sofas in small, close apartments, they address fears with respect and facts.


Ms. Arnold carefully explained to the tenants her decision to participate in the trial for the vaccine being developed by Moderna, a company that has received pledges of $1.5 billion from the Trump administration for its effort.


“I am a proud African-American woman,” she said. “As African-Americans, we always seem to get less out of things that go on. I want us at the forefront of this. I want to make sure that Black people are represented. I’m going by faith that these people won’t do to African-Americans what they did to us in Tuskegee. I’m holding them accountable.”


The hard resistance in the room wobbled. Pandemic experiences tumbled forth.


A granddaughter was sick with it. A woman knew a 24-year-old who had caught it, and it was beating him up. Covid had put a neighbor down the hall in a coma.


In frustration, a woman shouted: “I asked paramedics why people here are getting sick, and they said, ‘There’s no social distancing.’ But you can’t social-distance in a place like this, everyone on top of each other.”


Ms. Arnold seized the moment. Go door to door with me, she pressed. Talk to folks about Covid-19 safety, about signing up for the vaccine registry.


The registry, a bank of people willing to be contacted about the clinical trials, does not commit you to getting the experimental vaccine, she added, only to being called by researchers.


“You’re not going to be the guinea pig,” the supervisor of the volunteers, Tyra L. Townsend, chimed in. “White people are.”


That is because, she said, most of the vaccine trial registrants so far are white.


The room hesitated, perched on the precipice of decision-making. No firm commitments. But interest, definitely.


The recruiters said they would return to the Heights at 6 p.m. to begin knocking on doors.


Join us?


Science vs. scientists


Black and Latino people, along with Native Americans, are being hit far harder by the coronavirus than white people are. A recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that from March through mid-July, people of color were five times more likely to be hospitalized for Covid-19 than their white counterparts and that through Aug. 4, the rate of death among Black people, relative to their share of the population, was at least twice as high. In Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, the Black population’s rates of cases and hospitalizations have been almost as stark.


While Black people stand to benefit greatly from a coronavirus vaccine, surveys show that they are the group least likely to trust one. In a poll last month by the Pew Research Group, only 32 percent of Black respondents said they were likely to take it, compared with 52 percent of white respondents. Historically, Black people have been more hesitant than other groups to get vaccines, especially the flu shot, and are also far less likely to volunteer for medical research; one study showed their participation hovering at about 5 percent. They are 13 percent of the population.


The mistrust is built on present disparities as well as a long history of abuse. Studies show that Black people in the United States have less access to good medical care than do white people and their concerns are more likely to be dismissed. Notorious medical experiments on Black people continue to exacerbate suspicion. They include surgeries by Dr. J. Marion Sims, a 19th-century gynecologist, on enslaved Black women, the 40-year-long Tuskegee study, in which doctors deliberately allowed syphilis to progress in Black Alabama sharecroppers, and researchers’ taking of cells without permission from Henrietta Lacks, an African-American cancer patient, in 1951.


“It’s not the science we distrust; it’s the scientists,” said Jamil Bey, head of the UrbanKind Institute, a Pittsburgh nonprofit organization whose programs include virtual town halls on racism, the pandemic and vaccine trials.


Some public health experts said that the percentages of volunteers from various groups should replicate the disproportionate impact of the virus but that they hope at least to mirror the population so that about a third of participants are Black, Latino and Native American.


By mid-September, 407,000 people in the United States had enrolled in the vaccine trials through the website for the national Covid-19 Prevention Network, but only 11 percent identified as people of color.


Trials for vaccines developed by the drug companies Moderna and AstraZeneca are being conducted at local sites across the country, including the University of Pittsburgh. In June, Dr. Elizabeth Miller, a co-director of the community engagement program for the university’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, reached out to local groups to help with recruitment.


At early meetings, Rev. Paul Abernathy, 41, an Orthodox Christian priest and Iraq War veteran who is Black, spoke up: The national strategy of radio commercials, online ads and church sermons was not enough to persuade people to enroll, he said. They needed to be pulled into conversation, one on one. And he had just the team to do so.


In 2011, Father Paul, as he is known locally, founded an organization that he recently renamed the Neighborhood Resilience Project. Run mostly by volunteers, it provides food, counseling, medical care and other services to the city’s poorest neighborhoods. In April, in response to the pandemic tearing through those communities, his group trained volunteers to check on their neighbors. These “community health deputies” offered masks to young people hanging out on corners and picked up food and medicine for older people.


Why not have the deputies recruit for the vaccine trials? suggested Father Paul, a Pittsburgh native whose ancestry is African-American, Syrian and Italian-Polish. “People trust folks who look like them, who know them,” he explained.


For weeks, his offer languished, and the registry remained stubbornly white.


“Do they think we are unable to comprehend the vaccine information?” Father Paul asked in exasperation.


In late August, as the deadline for enrollments approached, the researchers relented: Go for it.




On a recent morning, Father Paul’s team climbed aboard a modest R.V. to fan out to some of Pittsburgh’s struggling neighborhoods. “There is a great deal that is against us,” Father Paul said. “And we have to be honest about that. Our community needs more than what we have. But with a good spirit and a willing heart, miracles can happen.”


They rolled through the streets, carrying backpacks full of bottles of water, bags of Cheez-Its and cards with contact numbers. Father Paul rode shotgun, wearing his clerical collar and trademark fedora. As the R.V. paused at traffic lights, people waved at him. “How y’all doing?” he shouted back.


At one stop, LaRay Moton, 61, a community health deputy, introduced Father Paul to her neighbors in the Bedford Dwellings, a public housing complex: Lori Strothers, 56, and her daughter Jayla, 26.


Then they learned that the vaccine was the reason for the priest’s visit.


“It’s scary,” said the younger Ms. Strothers. “You’re being filled with unknown things. There’s not enough data.”


“So how much data would you need to feel comfortable?” Father Paul asked.


“I’m a visual person,” she explained. “I need to see it on paper.”


He turned to his deputies. “Let’s work to get spreadsheets to her,” he said.


At a store in the housing complex’s basement, stocked with free surplus and secondhand goods, the air was musty and the aisles tight and twisting, crammed with clothes, dishes, bicycles, books.


Almost unseen amid the clutter was the store’s founder and proprietor, Effie Williams, 80, a tiny figure enthroned in her office chair.


Ms. Moton, the volunteer, knew better than to try to distract people who were shopping. Instead, she pitched to Ms. Williams, whom she wanted to help spread the word.


Ms. Moton is something of a community matriarch in the Bedford Dwellings. Earlier that day, she had been visiting older tenants, knocking loudly at every door and calling out: “Put your face mask on, baby! You got company!”


Then she had plopped herself down beside the tenants, asking about their chemotherapy and their blood pressure, deftly working up to flu shots and vaccine registries.


Now in the store, Ms. Moton launched into her spiel. “I’m here to talk about wellness checks and Covid-19, ” she said to Ms. Williams. “What are your thoughts about the vaccine?”


Ms. Williams cocked a dubious eyebrow.


Unruffled, Ms. Moton plowed ahead. She turned to two women who were minding young children and helping Ms. Williams with the store.


“What about you?” Ms. Moton asked. “Would you be interested in participating in the trial here in Pittsburgh?”


“I’m scared of side effects,” Shaquala Miller, 29, said.


Father Paul stepped forward, explaining that so far, the only reported reaction was a temporary swelling at the injection spot. This trial was already in Phase 3. Phase 1, he explained, was “high risk and low benefit.” By the time Phase 3 rolled around, “you’ve got low risk and high benefit.”


A handful of shoppers drew close. Father Paul cranked it up a notch.


“We want to make sure that the vaccine will get into our community and work for us,” he said. “I guarantee you it will be in other communities!”


“That’s right!”


“Don’t leave us out!”


“When is it starting?”


Ms. Moton practically shouted with glee: “Now!”


Ms. Miller said tentatively: “Maybe I’ll sign up. Just as long as you know it’s safe. I have three kids. ”


Ms. Williams suggested that Ms. Moton leave cards with the registry information in the store. And she decided to give the vaccine a try. “I guess it doesn’t bother me,” she announced. “I’m old.”


“I can help you register, Miss Effie,” Ms. Moton offered.


And then in a low voice, she asked, “Miss Effie, have you eaten today?”


Ms. Williams looked down at her lap.


Handing her a bag of Cheez-Its, Ms. Moton said, as she made a note: “Don’t you worry. I’ll get that taken care of right away.”


One more trauma


To Father Paul, Covid-19 is one more deadly trauma in a litany that has shaken Black neighborhoods. People come to his organization seeking food, health care and clothes and wind up talking about stabbings, overdoses, robberies, fires, domestic violence.


“I was seeing more PTSD in my community than I saw in Iraq,” he said, referring to his yearlong tour of duty as a staff sergeant in 2003, during which he saw combat.


Upon his return, he became an outspoken opponent of the Iraq War and completed masters degrees in divinity and in public and international affairs. About six years ago, Father Paul began working with researchers from Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh to develop a manual for community development, informed by the sustained, incapacitating trauma so prevalent in the neighborhoods his group serves. Now, often summoned by the Pittsburgh police, Father Paul’s volunteers arrive after a shooting or a stabbing to administer emotional first aid.


The weight of so many traumas on a community, he said, is in part what makes it so hard to ask for volunteers for the trials. Daily survival can feel so all-consuming that participating in an institutional research experiment seems utterly beside the point.


“We cannot talk about a vaccine without acknowledging these other epidemics,” Father Paul said. “Our kids aren’t being educated, and food lines are longer. Hope is gone, too. So if you say to people, ‘That makes volunteering for the vaccine trials more meaningful,’ they will say: ‘Are you kidding me? My house got shot at last night. And you really want to talk about Covid?’”


A change of plans


At 6 p.m., as promised, his teams returned to Northview Heights. But there would be no door-to-door vaccine pitches this evening.


A few nights earlier, during a gunfight, a stray bullet had pierced a wall of a nearby public housing complex, killing a 1-year-old baby as he slept in his crib. His two grieving grandmothers lived in Northview Heights.


Father Paul and his trauma response teams, wearing orange vests, had already been to the scene of the shooting the previous night. Orange tape marked the bullet holes. People peered at the teams through broken shade slats, and stared from stoops, turning away as they approached.


A woman who was sobbing and cursing beckoned. Her teenage stepson had also been killed over the weekend, and she wanted to let loose.


“I watched the officers try their hardest to save that baby!” said the woman, who identified herself only as Tyffani, 44.


Father Paul held her hand. She bowed her head as he prayed. “There is no prayer more powerful than the prayer of a broken heart,” he said. “Heal her in her brokenness and raise her up in peace.”


A bulwark had been breached. Neighbors who had watched warily began to accept comfort from the trauma teams, as well as masks and information cards.


Now, at Northview Heights, a balloon release to honor the grandmothers’ grief had been hastily arranged for the evening.


More than 100 people, many carrying floating, bobbing bouquets of white and colored foil balloons, assembled on the sloping lawn next to the apartments. The weeping grandmothers, wearing T-shirts printed with the baby’s smiling face, were swarmed by mourners. On the periphery, children played tag, and teenagers set off firecrackers.


Almost no one wore a mask.


“This is our culture of death — memorial sites, murals and balloon releases,” said Father Paul. “This is what we do. We don’t even have to think about it.”


The teams’ backpacks included cards with information about vaccine trials, as well as cookies and small stuffed animals.


“We ask parents if we can give their kids a teddy bear,” explained Roxane Plater, a volunteer. “The kid smiles, the parents ask what we do — and that’s our opening.”


Ms. Plater scoped out the crowd. “Do you need a mask?” she asked. People looked startled, as if in a fog, and gratefully accepted one, or produced their own.


A domino effect unfurled: as more people put on masks, others pulled on their own. The teams offered cards with contacts.


The balloons were distributed, followed by keening, anguished speeches. A GoFundMe page for funeral expenses was announced. Then, all at once, flocks of balloons floated away, some tangling in trees and telephone wire, others sailing higher.


And, abruptly, the gathering was over.


As people walked away, Charniece Cabbagestalk approached a weeping grandmother of the dead baby and offered a black cloth mask imprinted with a photo of the woman’s grandson. Since the pandemic began, Ms. Cabbagestalk has made more than 100 such masks as gifts for people whose loved ones died violently.


Father Paul shook his head sadly. “A mask for Covid and violence,” he said. “Two pandemics hitting the Black community in one image.”




By the following week, there were signs that the outreach efforts were helping. The portion of people of color in the Pittsburgh area in the vaccine registry had risen to 8 percent, from 3 percent. Because trial leaders can choose whom they finally enroll, they have been increasing the percentage of nonwhite subjects. Moderna reported that nationwide, as of Sept. 28, 26 percent of those enrolled were Black.


Dr. Miller, the University of Pittsburgh professor who coordinates outreach for the local vaccine trials, was elated. “The community health deputies have been instrumental in communicating about the vaccine registry in authentic ways,” she said.


During the week, the recruiters had confronted an array of questions.


Won’t melanin protect me from Covid?


If you had Covid, can you go in the trial?


How do you know that white folks won’t get one vaccine and Black folks another?


How do you know what they’re putting in the Black vaccine?


At a weekly meeting over Zoom, the health deputies and the researchers reviewed a new script to help answer those questions.


Then Ms. Townsend, who trains volunteers, asked Ms. Arnold, the Northview Heights community health deputy, to speak about why she had decided to lead by example and get an injection.


Years ago, Ms. Arnold said, she was visiting her father, a prostate cancer patient, in the hospital. She saw drip bags attached to him, including one filled with yellow liquid. What’s that? she asked. Platelets, she was told.


It was then that she learned that there weren’t enough African-Americans in the blood donor base to help all the Black patients with cancer or sickle cell disease. That was when she began to donate blood.


“I was just trying to save him and other African-Americans,” she said, “because we didn’t have a fair shot at getting better sooner.”


And now, she said, how could she ask people in the community to volunteer for the coronavirus vaccine trials if she hadn’t done so herself?



5) While Millions Lost Jobs, Some Executives Made Millions in Company Stock

By Peter Eavis, Oct. 8, 2020


Even as millions of people have lost their jobs during the pandemic, the soaring stock market since the spring has delivered outsize gains to the wealthiest Americans. And few among the superrich have done as well as corporate executives who received stock awards this year.


Executives With the Biggest Gains:

William Lynch—Peloton—$64.4 million

Edward W. Stack—Dick’s Sporting Goods—$60.4 million

Frederick W. Smith—FedEx—$36.9 million

Stephane Bancel—Moderna—$29.9 million

Marc Benioff—Salesforce—$27.6 million


Edward W. Stack, the chief executive of Dick’s Sporting Goods, and William Lynch, president of Peloton, for example, are each sitting on paper gains of over $60 million on stock-based awards they mostly received in the first three months of the year, based on Wednesday’s closing stock prices, according to an analysis by Institutional Shareholder Services, which advises investors on how to vote on corporate matters.


And Stéphane Bancel, the chief executive of Moderna, a drug maker developing a coronavirus vaccine, received options in January that have appreciated by nearly $30 million.


The pay gains are a result of the sharp rise in the stock prices of these companies, which investors are betting are well positioned to grow during the pandemic. Another reason these stock awards have appreciated so much is that some of the grants were made when the stock market was close to its lowest point for the year. Of course, many executives are also sitting on gains on stock they got in earlier years.


But the surge in wealth also highlights how the compensation of senior executives is designed to give them enormous windfalls, which they have gotten even during one of the sharpest economic downturns in decades.


These gains are also a reminder that income and wealth in the U.S. economy are tilted heavily toward a tiny number of top earners who own significant amounts of stock. Most Americans own little or no stock, according to a recent Federal Reserve report, and many had less in savings in 2019 than they did before the last recession a decade ago.


“The stock market is not an indicator of the health of the economy for working people; it’s an indicator of economic inequality,” said Brandon Rees, deputy director of corporations and capital markets at the A.F.L.-C.I.O. “These C.E.O. payments reflect that reality.”


For decades, corporate boards have tried to tie executive pay to the performance of the company’s stock in an effort to make managers more accountable to shareholders. Yet executives still often end up doing far better than might be justified by a company’s fundamental business performance.


Mr. Stack’s compensation shows how top executives can rack up such large gains so quickly.


In March, when the stock market was close to its low point and the share price for Dick’s Sporting Goods was also at a nadir, he received 355 percent more stock options for his 2020 award than for his 2019 grant and 142 percent more restricted shares, according to the I.S.S. analysis and the company’s securities filings. (Businesses often hand executives stock in two forms: stock options or restricted shares. An option usually provides its owner the right to acquire company stock at a future date at the price it was trading on the day it was issued. A restricted share is stock that executives cannot sell for months or years.)


When asked to explain how the company arrived at Mr. Stack’s 2020 stock grants, it said in a statement: “As in prior years, the compensation committee considered a number of factors, including the company’s 2019 performance.”


Then, everything started to move in Mr. Stack’s favor. Investors, believing that Dick’s could profit in the pandemic economy and encouraged by stimulus from Congress and the Federal Reserve, bid up the price of the company’s stock. But because Mr. Stack had far more shares in the 2020 stock grants than he did in 2019, the overall value of that awards have ballooned. The 2020 awards were worth about $7 million when they were issued and are now valued at a combined $67.4 million. By contrast, Mr. Stack’s 2019 awards are worth $15 million at Wednesday’s stock price.


Of course, the gains could shrink if Dick’s stock declines. Mr. Stack can exercise and sell all his stock options only after four years. In a filing, the company said his restricted stock awards would become available over time but did not specify the period.


Still, the award raises questions. Shareholders may object to an arrangement that could give Mr. Stack compensation far in excess of what they might have expected when the stock grant was made.


“If you don’t adjust your approach when there is a shake-up in the market and your stock price is down significantly, investors are going to raise concerns,” said Brett Miller, head of data solutions for the responsible-investment arm of I.S.S. “What you don’t do is give executives more opportunities to increase their value.”


Employees may also feel left out. As Mr. Stack’s stock grant was swelling in value, Dick’s furloughed many of its employees for several weeks. In the company’s last fiscal year, his compensation was 1,487 times the pay of the company’s median employee, a measurement that includes many part-time workers. Mr. Stack has a large stake in Dick’s and controls the company through powerful voting shares.


The I.S.S. analysis covers top executives whose pay details are included in companies’ proxies, documents that publicly traded businesses file with the Securities and Exchange Commission annually. Proxies provide investors with important financial information and instructions on how to vote on corporate proposals and board appointments.


Not all executives have gains on their 2020 grants, because many companies have struggled in the pandemic. In its survey, which covers 2020 grants made by companies in the Russell 3000 stock index, I.S.S. found that 1,675 “named executive officers,” or the executives who appear in proxies, had gains while 1,388 had losses, as of Wednesday’s closing stock prices. The average appreciation was nearly $1.5 million and the average loss $827,000.


The chief executives of technology companies, many of which have thrived during the pandemic, have done particularly well. Their average gain on 2020 grants was $3.2 million, while the average loss was $543,000.


The largest combined gain in the survey was Mr. Lynch’s $64 million on his 2020 options grants from Peloton. Its stock is up 500 percent from its 2020 low.


If a company’s stock soars like Peloton’s, employee stock awards will most likely produce immediate paper fortunes. But Mr. Miller said companies could structure stock awards to reduce that likelihood if they wanted to. For example, companies can space out grants so they are not all granted when the stock is at a low or a high point.


Peloton declined to comment.


Ray Jordan, a spokesman for Moderna, said Mr. Bancel’s options vested over several years, meaning that “paper gains in a few months do not necessarily translate to long-term gains if the stock performance is not maintained.”


Some executives at companies that have been hit hard by the pandemic have still done well. In March, William J. Hornbuckle, chief executive of MGM Resorts International, gave up the remainder of his 2020 salary in exchange for restricted stock units worth $700,000, the amount of his forgone salary. After MGM stock recovered somewhat from the lows it plumbed in March, that grant is worth $1.3 million on paper — and all his 2020 awards have appreciated by a combined $4 million.


“At a time of great uncertainty when all of our properties were closed with no clear plan for reopening, Mr. Hornbuckle and several of our executives volunteered to help the company conserve cash by exchanging all or a portion of their cash compensation for the remainder of 2020 for restricted stock units that vest at the end of the year,” Debra DeShong, an MGM representative, said in a statement. “By doing so, they took on great risk, risk that still exists in that we are not operating under normal circumstances and we are still in a period of recovery.”



6) Daniel Prude Was in ‘Mental Distress.’ Police Treated Him Like a Suspect.

Rochester officers followed their training in restraining Mr. Prude, who was incoherent, but did little to calm him down or defuse his anger.

By Edgar Sandoval, Oct. 9, 2020

Body camera footage shows Daniel Prude on the ground, with a spit hood over his head, as officers stand by. Credit...Rochester Police Department, via Reuters

Daniel Prude

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — One officer wrote in his arrest report that he knew that Daniel Prude had been “previously suicidal” before his disastrous encounter with police and had spent hours a day earlier in a psychiatric ward.


Police body-camera footage shows that after officers restrained Mr. Prude, they stood around him, smiling and laughing as he made delusional comments. He could be seen shouting incoherently as he lay naked, handcuffed and hooded, in the street on a frigid night.


A lieutenant later acknowledged in internal police documents that Mr. Prude had “acted in a fashion consistent with an individual in some form of mental distress.”


The death of Mr. Prude, who suffocated after three officers placed the hood over his head, has intensified scrutiny of the police treatment of Black people, touching off weeks of protests and official soul-searching in this Rust Belt city of 206,000 on Lake Ontario.


But it has also highlighted another deep-seated problem in many police departments: Armed police officers, intensely drilled in techniques to subdue violent suspects, often seem ill-equipped to deal with people who are mentally ill or in a drug-induced delirium.


Around the country, the Prude case has helped to galvanize the debate over police department training — and whether resources and responsibility for these kinds of cases should be diverted from the police to mental health professionals. Supporters of the movement to defund the police have embraced that shift, but so have others who are opposed to deep cuts in police budgets.


In New York City, there have been several cases in recent years where people in the throes of mental illness died after encounters with responding officers. In general, those with untreated mental illnesses are 16 times more likely to die at the hands of the police than other people, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center, an advocacy nonprofit.


“Every police department in the country should watch the video and try to ask themselves, how could the incident be handled differently,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, which seeks to improve policing. “These are traditionally the most difficult calls for the police.”


Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged police departments late last month to respond to the Prude case by working more closely with mental health and substance abuse experts.


“People are dying,” Mr. Cuomo said. “That’s a fact. When all you have is a gun and a badge and the ability to arrest, that’s your only solution to that issue.”


“Redesign your public safety plan,” he said, addressing local governments.


Lawyers for the seven officers involved in Mr. Prude’s arrest said on Thursday that the officers knew Mr. Prude had taken phencyclidine, or PCP, and as a result they thought some techniques employed with mentally ill people would not work.


“Many in the media and elsewhere have cast this incident as a mental health event. It was not,” said Matthew Rich, a lawyer for four of the officers. “It was an event that involved the use of a dangerous drug with very serious side effects.”


Still, internal police documents show that from the moment that the officers responded to the 911 call on March 23, they knew that they were dealing with a so-called mental hygiene case involving a person who had not committed a serious crime but instead seemed to be experiencing a psychotic episode.


Mr. Prude had bolted from his brother’s home in nothing but a tank top and long johns after taking PCP — also known as angel dust — which causes hallucinations, his brother, Joe Prude, told the police, according to the internal documents.


But police body-camera footage and written reports indicate that the officers did little to try to soothe Mr. Prude as he grew increasingly frantic after his arrest. The officers did not call for mental health professionals to respond to the scene. Nor did they offer him a blanket or put him in a police car for warmth, though he had stripped off his clothes and was naked.


The officers instead ordered him to lie on his stomach, and he complied, according to body camera footage and police reports. Pointing a Taser, one officer told Mr. Prude to “Chill out, man, don’t move, all right man?” before handcuffing him with relative ease at 3:16 a.m.


For three minutes, Mr. Prude made delusional comments as the officers stood around him. Then he sat upright and yelled, “Give me that mask, man!” and spat on the ground.


An officer responded by putting a so-called spit hood over Mr. Prude’s head from behind, which seemed to increase his panic.


“That would scare anybody, even someone in their right mind,” said Melanie Funchess, an official with a Rochester nonprofit that provides mental health services.


The footage showed that one officer pressed Mr. Prude’s hooded head down, apparently trying to get him to be less agitated, while a second pressed down on his back and a third pinned down his legs.


Shortly after, Mr. Prude went into cardiac arrest before he was taken away by an ambulance.


Four weeks after Mr. Prude’s March 30 death, a police internal investigation cleared the officers — and said nothing about whether they were properly trained in how to handle an emotionally disturbed person or someone suffering from mental illness.


The investigation concluded that the officers’ actions “appear to be appropriate and consistent with their training.” The officers, the investigation noted, had all recently been certified in “defensive tactics” and “ground control” techniques.


The seven officers involved in the Prude case were suspended last month, but only after the police body-camera footage was made public by Mr. Prude’s family.


The Rochester Police Department declined repeated requests to discuss the training that officers receive on mental health. The Rochester police chief at the time of the Prude encounter, La’Ron Singletary, has denied that police officers did anything wrong. He was dismissed last month by the city’s mayor, Lovely Warren.


Ms. Warren, a Democrat whose leadership has come scrutiny in recent weeks, was indicted on Oct. 2 on two unrelated felony campaign charges tied to when she was running for a second term in 2017.


Training manuals in Rochester do not specify under what circumstances officers are allowed to use a spit hood, a loose breathable fabric sack that can be placed over a person’s head to prevent biting or spitting.


The city and county do have mental health professionals on call whom the Rochester police can summon in such situations, but it is not mandatory for officers to do so.


“They were not dispatched,” said Willie Lightfoot Jr., chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee. “I don’t know why. I am looking for answers.”


The four lawyers representing the officers said they had followed their training precisely, using pinning techniques designed to avoid blocking airways and waiting for an ambulance as they had been taught to do in such cases. They added that mental health experts do not usually accompany officers on such calls.


The lawyers said that because their clients knew Mr. Prude was high on PCP, they relied on common physical maneuvers used to control people on drugs rather than softer methods like talking, which are often employed in mental hygiene calls.


The officers had also been taught that PCP can cause a body to overheat, so putting a blanket over Mr. Prude “would had done more harm than good,” said James Nobles, a lawyer for one of the officers.


The officers put a hood over Mr. Prude’s head to protect themselves from possible exposure to the coronavirus, but the hood’s mesh fabric should not have impeded Mr. Prude’s breathing.


“You can see through it, you can hear through it, you can breathe through it,” Mr. Nobles said, donning a so-called spit-sock at a news conference. “I can breathe better through this than I can through any mask that I’ve worn to prevent the coronavirus.”


The lawyers asked that the officers be reinstated. “We offer our sympathies to the family of Mr. Prude, but the officers involved in this incident did not cause his death,” Mr. Rich said.


Michael Mazzeo, president of the union representing about 700 Rochester officers, said that after viewing police footage of the arrest, he believed that the officers appear to have followed training protocols.


Mr. Mazzeo added that if training needs to change, “then change it. But don’t blame the officers.”


But Cedric Alexander, a former deputy police chief in Rochester, said the body camera footage demonstrated that the officers mishandled the arrest.


“Once they got him secured, and clearly he was having some crisis, they really should have gotten him off the ground, gotten him into that vehicle, and then taken him immediately into a mental health facility for evaluation,” Mr. Alexander said.


Mr. Alexander said he helped design a police training program for responding to the mentally ill in the early 2000s in Rochester. By 2006, the department also had about 45 volunteers who had undergone several hours of training in handling the mentally unstable.


The training centered on three principles: engage in soft-spoken conversation, de-escalate the situation and transport the person to a mental health facility.


Under the program, violent encounters between police and local residents in distress fell to “almost zero,” said Eric Weaver, a retired sergeant who supervised many of the mental health calls and now teaches similar techniques to other departments. He is the author of “Overcoming the Darkness,” about his own struggles with mental illness.


But Mr. Alexander, who is also a clinical psychologist, said the Rochester police placed less importance on the training after he and Mr. Weaver stepped down from the department in the mid-2000s.


“We left the playbook to continue this program,” he said. “It is clear that that never took place.”


Last month, after the footage of Mr. Prude’s arrest gained national attention, Rochester officials announced plans to form crisis intervention teams that would include clinicians and social workers and would respond to calls of people under mental stress and determine if the police are needed. Other cities have started using similar teams with some success, including Denver; Olympia, Washington; and Eugene, Oregon.


“We’re trying to work and move into a direction where what happened to the Prude family will never happen again,” Councilman Lightfoot said.


In New York City, 16,000 officers have gone through a four days of “crisis intervention training” since 2015, including role playing, lectures and conversations with individuals with mental illness who have had encounters with the police. (The training was suspended this year after the department faced pandemic-related budget cuts.)


Officials with the New York State’s Division of Criminal Justice Services said recruits in cities like Rochester are required to take a 20-hour course titled “the Fundamentals of Crisis Intervention,” where they learn how to minimize the use of force during mental health calls.


Phillip Atiba Goff, founder of the Center for Policing Equity, a think tank at Yale University, said that while training can help, most officers are ill-equipped to make the right decisions when confronted with mentally ill people.


“There is no way you can train police officers well enough that they can be frontline mental health workers, especially crisis mental health workers,” Mr. Goff said. “It’s very clear that if there had been a medical expert there, there also would’ve been different treatment and a different response.”


Troy Closson contributed reporting. Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.



7) After a Hospital Stay for Covid, Patients May Face Months of Rehabilitation

Many patients who were critically ill with Covid-19 face arduous recoveries, often requiring extensive physical rehabilitation.

By Anahad O’Connor, Oct. 8, 2020

Allen Washington was an active, busy executive before contracting Covid-19 this summer. After weeks in the hospital, he now faces extensive physical and occupational therapy. Credit...Taylor Glascock for The New York Times

Not long ago, Allen Washington was a busy executive who traveled the country on business trips while trying to stay healthy and active, walking up to two miles a day for exercise.


But that came to an end when he developed Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in June. Mr. Washington spent three weeks lying in a hospital bed in a medically induced coma. When he woke up, he discovered his body had deteriorated. He had bedsores and was too weak to walk or stand. He had nerve damage in his legs, neck and shoulders. He suffered from memory loss and kidney failure.


While he survived Covid-19, Mr. Washington, 60, is now grappling with the aftermath of the disease. To regain his strength and motor skills, he undergoes physical and occupational therapy at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago, which specializes in helping people who have been debilitated by Covid-19 and other illnesses. Since leaving the hospital, he has had to relearn simple tasks that became too difficult because of his memory loss and muscle weakness, like walking up stairs, tying his shoes and getting dressed in the morning.


“I came back from death’s door, and now I have a lot of work to do to get better,” he said.


Even after surviving Covid-19, many patients who were critically ill face long and arduous recoveries, often requiring extensive physical rehabilitation. The problems they encounter are wide ranging. Some patients suffer muscle atrophy, kidney damage or reduced lung capacity, making it difficult for them to leave their homes or get out of bed. Many struggle with cognitive and psychological issues like memory loss, depression and anxiety. Among the most common problems they face are shortness of breath, fatigue, confusion and body aches.


Doctors have known for some time that survivors of critical illness can develop long-term physical, cognitive and mental health problems, which can persist for years after they leave intensive care units. The phenomenon is known as post-intensive care syndrome, or PICS, and the risk factors for it are especially common among patients hospitalized with Covid-19: prolonged periods of time on a ventilator, heavy sedation, organ failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome, in which fluid builds up in the lungs, causing low blood oxygen levels.


The scale of the coronavirus pandemic, with more than seven million people in the United States infected so far, suggests that a significant number of patients who survive Covid-19 will go on to develop post-intensive care syndrome, said Dr. Michelle Biehl, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. A recent report by public health experts at Harvard estimated that millions of Americans could require intensive care by the time the pandemic is over. Another report in the medical journal Heart & Lung suggested that the number of Covid patients needing rehabilitation could become another public health crisis.


“A lot of us are still dealing with the initial crisis — the patients in the hospital and the I.C.U.,” Dr. Biehl said. “But as a health care system we need to get better prepared and organized for what is coming, which is going to be a lot of patients needing specialty care.”


While rigorous data is scarce, a study in Italy found that 87 percent of people who were hospitalized with Covid-19 had at least one persistent health problem, such as joint pain, fatigue or labored breathing, two months after they fell sick. About 44 percent of the patients in the study, which was published in JAMA, reported a worsened quality of life. Another study at New York University medical school found that 74 percent of Covid patients continued having shortness of breath a month after they left the hospital, and many reported worsened physical and mental health.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study of people with “milder” bouts of Covid-19 who had not been hospitalized. It found that about a third of these people, often referred to as “long haulers,” had prolonged illness and persistent symptoms weeks after they contracted Covid-19.


For some patients, like Mr. Washington, lifelong nerve damage can be a particularly devastating consequence of Covid-19. A study published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia this month found that nerve injuries were common among patients on ventilators because they are frequently placed face down in their hospital beds. This practice, called “proning,” improves their breathing and can be lifesaving. But it can also compress nerves in the shoulders, legs and other limbs, increasing the odds of a disability. “It’s one of the more severe and substantial neurological problems that people can experience from Covid-19,” said the lead author of the study, Dr. Colin Franz, an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and neurology at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.


Across the country, dozens of hospitals have begun catering to recovering patients with specialized clinics for post-Covid care, which connect them to physical therapists, pulmonologists, psychologists and other specialists. In San Francisco, for example, patients who are discharged from UCSF Health are referred to the hospital’s specialized post-Covid Optimal Clinic, where they undergo an hourlong evaluation — done virtually — of their lung health, physical abilities and cognitive and mental health.


Then they undergo what the clinic’s founder, Dr. Lekshmi Santhosh, calls a “brain wellness check” to look for signs of psychological distress. For many critically ill Covid patients, the hospital experience — being isolated from family and friends, heavily sedated and hooked up to a ventilator — can be traumatizing, leading to delirium, depression or worse.


Dr. Santhosh and her colleagues then explore whether patients are experiencing other consequences as a result of their illness, such as job loss, shame and loneliness. “The benefit of clinics like this is that we have the luxury of time and connections that we can point people to so we can get them help,” said Dr. Santhosh, who specializes in pulmonary and critical care medicine. “A 15-minute visit with your primary care doctor is probably not enough time to delve into all of these different domains that are affected.”


It is not just the older and more vulnerable patients that become debilitated, said Dr. Justin Seashore, a pulmonary and critical care doctor and director of the Post Covid Recovery Clinic at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. “I have patients that were young and healthy people — people who say that before Covid-19 they could run a 5K and now they can’t run at all,” he said. “These are people that were normally very active.”


Since opening the clinic in July, Dr. Seashore and his colleagues have treated more than 70 patients, about half of whom were never hospitalized but have lingering health issues stemming from Covid. The clinic has a waiting list of over 200 people seeking care. Dr. Seashore said his patients seem to benefit in particular from pulmonary rehabilitation, which incorporates exercise training and breathing techniques to help them manage their chronic lung issues, as well as physical therapy, which helps them with daily activities like going to the store or walking down their driveway.


While it is still very early, researchers have found that the sooner Covid patients begin pulmonary rehabilitation after leaving the I.C.U., the faster their improvements in walking speed, breathing capacity and muscle gain and the better their overall recovery.


At Penn Medicine’s Post-Covid Assessment and Recovery Clinic in Philadelphia, many patients experience anxiety caused by their persistent shortness of breath. For some, the anxiety can be so crippling that they are afraid to leave their homes, said Dr. Benjamin Abramoff, a co-founder of the clinic and assistant professor of clinical physical medicine and rehabilitation.


Dr. Abramoff said patients are screened for a wide range of health issues and then enrolled in a program that incorporates physical and pulmonary therapy to build up their strength and endurance. They also learn techniques to manage their breathing and anxiety. Dr. Abramoff said there has been a lot of focus on “acute” treatments for patients in the hospital, but not enough attention on treating patients over the long term.


“Part of it is that we don’t know what the long term looks like at this point,” said Dr. Abramoff. “But as a medical community we need to be thinking about this and paying attention to these long-term effects. They are going to be common and impacting people’s lives in significant ways.”

























































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

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