Saturday, June 26, 2021 – 2:00 P.M.
Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California
1433 Madison Street
Oakland, CA 94612
$20 - $10 sliding scale admission at the door. No one turned away for lack of funds. Wheelchair accessible with advanced notice.
Masks and Social Distancing Requirements Observed
Freedom for Julian Assange, San Francisco Bay Area Presents:
John and Gabriel Shipton, the father and brother of award-winning Australian journalist Julian Assange, as their nationwide tour stops in the Bay Area. They are raising awareness of the importance of protecting whistleblowers and journalists and calling on the U.S. government to drop its prosecution and finally let Julian come home.
Joining the Shiptons live are Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Alice Walker and Pentagon Papers defendant and whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. Noam Chomsky, linguist and author, and Mamia Abu-Jamal, innocent political prisoner and journalist, will be joining via Zoom.
Additional Speakers Include:
· Joe Lombardo, National Coordinator UNAC
· Cynthia Papermaster, CODEPINK
· Jeff Mackler, National Steering Committee, assangedefense.org
· Dennis Bernstein, host of KPFA's Flashpoints
· Nozomi Hayase, author, WikiLeaks, the Global Fourth Estate: History Is Happening
Download the flyer here:
Freedom for Julian Assange, San Francisco Bay Area
affiliated with the National assangedefense.org
Courage Foundation (assangedefense.org) • San Francisco Bay Area National Lawyers Guild
Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal • Black Alliance for Peace • Socialist Action
Code Pink, Golden Gate and nationally • United National Antiwar Coalition • International Action Center
Syria Solidarity Movement • Peninsula Peace and Justice Center • Peace and Freedom Party
Green Party of Alameda County • U.S. Peace Council • BAYAN USA • Haiti Action Committee
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee • Task Force on the Americas
Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center • Workers World Party • San Jose Peace and Justice Center
Women's International League for Peace & Freedom • Bay Action Committee to Free Julian Assange
For additional information: firstname.lastname@example.org Online donations: assangedefense.org
People's March and Rally 2021
SUNDAY, JUNE 27, 2021,10:30 AM – 6:00 PM
We will not be silenced!
We hope all is well with you.
We are happy to announce that the video recording of "No Life Like It: A A Tribute to the Revolutionary Activism of Ernie Tate" is now available for viewing on LeftStreamed
Please share the link with your comrades and friends.
All the best,
Photo from San Francisco rally and march in support of Palestine Saturday, May 15, 2021
Stand with Palestine!
Say NO to apartheid!
Join the global movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Governor's Press Office
Friday, May 28, 2021
Governor Newsom Announces Clemency Actions, Signs Executive Order for Independent Investigation of Kevin Cooper Case
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that he has granted 14 pardons, 13 commutations and 8 medical reprieves. In addition, the Governor signed an executive order to launch an independent investigation of death row inmate Kevin Cooper’s case as part of the evaluation of Cooper’s application for clemency.
The investigation will review trial and appellate records in the case, the facts underlying the conviction and all available evidence, including the results of the recently conducted DNA tests previously ordered by the Governor to examine additional evidence in the case using the latest, most scientifically reliable forensic testing.
The text of the Governor’s executive order can be found here:
The California Constitution gives the Governor the authority to grant executive clemency in the form of a pardon, commutation or reprieve. These clemency grants recognize the applicants’ subsequent efforts in self-development or the existence of a medical exigency. They do not forgive or minimize the harm caused.
The Governor regards clemency as an important part of the criminal justice system that can incentivize accountability and rehabilitation, increase public safety by removing counterproductive barriers to successful reentry, correct unjust results in the legal system and address the health needs of incarcerated people with high medical risks.
A pardon may remove counterproductive barriers to employment and public service, restore civic rights and responsibilities and prevent unjust collateral consequences of conviction, such as deportation and permanent family separation. A pardon does not expunge or erase a conviction.
A commutation modifies a sentence, making an incarcerated person eligible for an earlier release or allowing them to go before the Board of Parole Hearings for a hearing at which Parole Commissioners determine whether the individual is suitable for release.
A reprieve allows individuals classified by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as high medical risk to serve their sentences in appropriate alternative placements in the community consistent with public health and public safety.
The Governor weighs numerous factors in his review of clemency applications, including an applicant’s self-development and conduct since the offense, whether the grant is consistent with public safety and in the interest of justice, and the impact of a grant on the community, including crime victims and survivors.
While in office, Governor Newsom has granted a total of 86 pardons, 92 commutations and 28 reprieves.
The Governor’s Office encourages victims, survivors, and witnesses to register with CDCR’s Office of Victims and Survivors Rights and Services to receive information about an incarcerated person’s status. For general Information about victim services, to learn about victim-offender dialogues, or to register or update a registration confidentially, please visit:
www.cdcr.ca.gov/Victim_Services/ or call 1-877-256-6877 (toll free).
Copies of the gubernatorial clemency certificates announced today can be found here:
Additional information on executive clemency can be found here:
Martha Hennessy and Carmen Trotta released from prison
Martha Hennessy was released yesterday, May 26, from Danbury prison after 5 1/2 months confinement to a halfway house in Manchester, New Hampshire which is about a two hour drive from her home in Vermont. Her husband, Stephen Melanson, picked her up and drove her to the halfway house. She expects to have to spend a week or two at the halfway house before being allowed to return home to finish the last few months of her 10 month sentence. She had applied for early release through the CARES Act which allows release for the qualified elderly to reduce the risk of catching COVID. She is looking forward to return to her home and family and her gardening soon. Martha gave a short video statement on getting out and it will be posted on the website shortly.
Mark Colville is scheduled to report to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY on June 8 to finish his 21 month sentence. He has already served 15 months in the county jails in Georgia before the trial in October 2019. He may also be eligible for an earlier release but does not intend to apply for any special consideration.
Questions and comments may be sent to: email@example.com
We hope all is well with you.
We are happy to announce that the video recording of "No Life Like It: A A Tribute to the Revolutionary Activism of Ernie Tate" is now available for viewing on LeftStreamed
Please share the link with your comrades and friends.
All the best,
Jeff Bezos has at least $180 Billion!
The Washington State Supreme Court just ruled to allow the right-wing Recall Campaign against Councilmember Kshama Sawant to move forward.
In response, Councilmember Sawant said “This ruling is completely unjust, but we are not surprised. Working people and oppressed communities cannot rely on the capitalist courts for justice anymore than they can on the police.”
“Last summer, all across the country, ordinary people who peacefully protested in multi-racial solidarity against racism and police brutality themselves faced brutal police violence. The police and the political establishment have yet to be held accountable, while in stark contrast, more than 14,000 protestors were arrested.”
“In October, the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously threw out the grassroots recall campaign launched in response to Amazon-backed Mayor Jenny Durkan’s overseeing a violent police crackdown against Seattle protests. Now, this same Supreme Court has unanimously approved the recall against an elected socialist, working-class representative who has unambiguously stood with the Black Lives Matter movement.”
“The recall law in Washington State is inherently undemocratic and well-suited for politicized use against working people’s representatives, because there is no requirement that the charges even be proven true. In effect, the courts have enormous leeway to use recall elections as a mechanism to defend the ruling class and capitalist system. It is no accident that Seattle’s last elected socialist, Anna Louise Strong, was driven out of office by a recall campaign for her links to the labor movement and opposition to World War I.”
The recall effort against Councilmember Sawant explicitly cited her role in Black Lives Matter protests and the Amazon Tax campaign in their articles of recall. In 2019, Kshama was elected for the third time despite a record-breaking influx of corporate money in Seattle elections, including $1.5 million in corporate PAC spending from Amazon, as well as donations from top Amazon executives and numerous wealthy Republican donors directly to Kshama’s opponent.
The Recall Campaign is backed by a host of corporate executives and developers, including billionaire landlord and Trump donor Martin Selig; Jeannie Nordstrom of the billionaire union-busting, retail giant Nordstrom dynasty; Airbnb Chief Financial Officer and former Amazon Vice President Dave Stephenson; Merrill Lynch Senior Vice President Matt Westphal; wealthy Trump donors like Dennis Weibling, Vidur Luthra and Greg Eneil; and plethora of major real-estate players, such as John Stephanus, whose asset management company, Epic, has ranked amongst Seattle’s top 10 landlords for evictions.
Now, because of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Recall Campaign is able to begin collecting signatures to get a recall election on an upcoming ballot. With the financial backing of the corporate elite, we know the Recall Campaign will have unlimited resources to collect their signatures.
That’s why we need your support to massively expand our Decline-to-Sign campaign and defeat this attack on all working people. The Recall Campaign has already raised $300,000. Can you make a contribution to the Kshama Solidarity Campaign today so that we have the necessary resources to fight back?
Kshama Solidarity Campaign
Copyright © 2021 Kshama Solidarity Campaign, All rights reserved
PLEDGE: Stand with Kshama Sawant Against the Right-Wing Recall!
The right wing and big business are going after Councilmember Sawant because she’s been such a powerful voice for working people – for leading the way on the Amazon Tax, on the $15 minimum wage, and for her role in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Amazon spent millions trying to unseat Kshama last year and failed. Now the Recall Campaign is raising money from corporate executives and rich Republicans to try to overturn that election and all our victories. Their campaign is saying Kshama’s support for Black Lives Matter was promoting “lawlessness” – this is a racist attack on the movement. The right wing will be collecting signatures to get the recall on the ballot; we’re building a Decline-to-Sign movement to keep our voice on the City Council and win COVID relief for working people.
Sign the pledge at:
Paid for by Kshama Solidarity Campaign
PO Box 20611, Seattle, WA 98102
9 minutes 29 seconds
Pass COVID Protection and Debt Relief
Stop the Eviction Cliff!
Forgive Rent and Mortgage Debt!
Millions of Californians have been prevented from working and will not have the income to pay back rent or mortgage debts owed from this pandemic. For renters, on Feb 1st, landlords will be able to start evicting and a month later, they will be able to sue for unpaid rent. Urge your legislator and Gov Newsom to stop all evictions and forgive COVID debts!
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock our state, with over 500 people dying from this terrible disease every day. The pandemic is not only ravaging the health of poor, black and brown communities the hardest - it is also disrupting our ability to make ends meet and stay in our homes. Shockingly, homelessness is set to double in California by 2023 due the economic crisis unleashed by COVID-19. 
Housing is healthcare: Without shelter, our very lives are on the line. Until enough of us have been vaccinated, our best weapon against this virus will remain our ability to stay at home.
Will you join me by urging your state senator, assembly member and Governor Gavin Newsom to pass both prevent evictions AND forgive rent debt?
This click-to-call tool makes it simple and easy.
Renters and small landlords know that much more needs to be done to prevent this pandemic from becoming a catastrophic eviction crisis. So far, our elected officials at the state and local level have put together a patchwork of protections that have stopped a bad crisis from getting much worse. But many of these protections expire soon, putting millions of people in danger. We face a tidal wave of evictions unless we act before the end of January.
We can take action to keep families in their homes while guaranteeing relief for small landlords by supporting an extension of eviction protections (AB 15) and providing rent debt relief paired with assistance for struggling landlords (AB 16). Assembly Member David Chiu of San Francisco is leading the charge with these bills as vehicles to get the job done. Again, the needed elements are:
Improve and extend existing protections so that tenants who can’t pay the rent due to COVID-19 do not face eviction
Provide rent forgiveness to lay the groundwork for a just recovery
Help struggling small and non-profit landlords with financial support
Ten months since the country was plunged into its first lockdown, tenants still can’t pay their rent and debt is piling up. This is hurting tenants and small landlords alike. We need a holistic approach that protects Californians in the short-run while forgiving unsustainable debts over the long term. That’s why we’re joining the Housing Now! coalition and Tenants Together on a statewide phone zap to tell our elected leaders to act now.
Will you join me by urging your state senator, assembly member and Governor Gavin Newsom to pass both prevent evictions AND forgive rent debt?
Time is running out. California’s statewide protections will start expiring by the end of this month. Millions face eviction. We have to pass AB 15 before the end of January. And we will not solve the long-term repercussions on the economic health of our communities without passing AB 16.
ASK YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS TO SAY YES ON AN EVICTION MORATORIUM AND RENT DEBT FORGIVENESS -- AB 15 AND AB16!!!
Let’s do our part in turning the corner on this pandemic. Our fight now will help protect millions of people in California. And when we fight, we win!
Tell the New U.S. Administration - End
Economic Sanctions in the Face of the Global
Take action and sign the petition - click here!
To: President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and all Members of the U.S. Congress:
We write to you because we are deeply concerned about the impact of U.S. sanctions on many countries that are suffering the dire consequences of COVID-19.
The global COVID-19 pandemic and global economic crash challenge all humanity. Scientific and technological cooperation and global solidarity are desperate needs. Instead, the Trump Administration escalated economic warfare (“sanctions”) against many countries around the globe.
We ask you to begin a new era in U.S. relations with the world by lifting all U.S. economic sanctions.
U.S. economic sanctions impact one-third of the world’s population in 39 countries.
These sanctions block shipments and purchases of essential medicines, testing equipment, PPE, vaccines and even basic food. Sanctions also cause chronic shortages of basic necessities, economic dislocation, chaotic hyperinflation, artificial famines, disease, and poverty, leading to tens of thousands of deaths. It is always the poorest and the weakest – infants, children, the chronically ill and the elderly – who suffer the worst impact of sanctions.
Sanctions are illegal. They are a violation of international law and the United Nations Charter. They are a crime against humanity used, like military intervention, to topple popular governments and movements.
The United States uses its military and economic dominance to pressure governments, institutions and corporations to end all normal trade relations with targeted nations, lest they risk asset seizures and even military action.
The first step toward change must be an end to the U.S.’ policies of economic war. We urge you to end these illegal sanctions on all countries immediately and to reset the U.S.’ relations with the world.
Add your name - Click here to sign the petition:
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.
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:
- Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312
- San Francisco, California: (415) 285-1041 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963
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.
- Know Your Rights During Covid-19
- You Have The Right To Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Encounters with Law Enforcement
- Operation Backfire: For Environmental and Animal Rights Activists
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:
- Grand Juries: Slideshow
Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources
By Lelac Almagor, Ms. Almagor teaches fourth grade at a public charter school in Washington, D.C., June 16, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/16/opinion/remote-learning-failure.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
Our prepandemic public school system was imperfect, surely, clumsy and test-crazed and plagued with inequities. But it was also a little miraculous: a place where children from different backgrounds could stow their backpacks in adjacent cubbies, sit in a circle and learn in community.
At the diverse Washington, D.C., public charter school where I teach, and which my 6-year-old attends, the whole point was that our families chose to do it together — knowing that it meant we would be grappling with our differences and biases well before our children could tie their own shoes.
Then Covid hit, and overnight these school communities fragmented and segregated. The wealthiest parents snapped up teachers for “microschools,” reviving the Victorian custom of hiring a governess and a music master. Others left for private school without a backward glance.
Some middle-class parents who could work remotely toughed it out at home, checking in on school between their own virtual meetings. Those with younger kids or in-person jobs scraped together education and child care — an outdoor play pod or a camp counselor to supervise hours of Zoom classes. With schools closed, the health risks and child care hours didn’t disappear. They simply shifted from well-educated, unionized, tax-funded professional teachers to hourly-wage, no-benefit workers serving only those who could afford to pay.
The families with the fewest resources were left with nothing. No child care, only the pallid virtual editions of essential services like occupational or speech therapy.
If they could work out the logistics, their kids got a couple of hours a day of Zoom school. If they couldn’t, they got attendance warnings. In my fourth-grade class, I had students calling in from the car while their mom delivered groceries, or from the toddler room of their mom’s busy day care center.
Home alone with younger siblings or cousins, kids struggled to focus while bouncing a fussy toddler or getting whacked repeatedly on the head with a foam sword. Others lay in bed and played video games or watched TV. Many times each day, I carefully repeated the instructions for a floundering student, only to have them reply, helplessly, “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you,” their audio squealing and video freezing as they spoke.
Even under optimal conditions, virtual school meant flattening the collaborative magic of the classroom into little more than an instructional video. Stripped of classroom discussion, human connection, art materials, classroom libraries, time and space to play, virtual school was not school; it was busywork obscuring the “rubber-rooming” of the entire school system.
Some educators sneered that the parents who complained just wanted free babysitting. But I’m not ashamed to say that child care is at the heart of the work I do. I teach children reading and writing, yes, but I also watch over them, remind them to be kind and stay safe, plan games and activities to help them grow. Children deserve attentive care. That’s the core of our commitment to them.
I am still bewildered and horrified that our society walked away from this responsibility, that we called school inessential and left each family to fend for itself. Meanwhile nurses, bus drivers and grocery workers all went to work in person — most of my students’ parents went to work in person — not because it was safe but because their work is essential. Spare me your “the kids are all right” Facebook memes. Some children may have learned to do laundry or enjoy nature during the pandemic. Many others suffered trauma and disconnection that will take years to repair.
I don’t know the first thing about public health. I won’t venture an opinion on what impact the school closures had on controlling the spread of Covid. What I do know is that the private schools in our city quickly got to work upgrading HVAC systems, putting up tents, cutting class sizes and rearranging schedules so that they could reopen in relative safety. Public schools in other states and countries did the same.
More of our public school systems should have likewise moved mountains — repurposed buildings, reassigned staff, redesigned programming, reallocated funding — to offer consistent public schooling, as safely as possible, to all children.
Instead we opened restaurants and gyms and bars while kids stayed home, or got complicated hybrid schedules that many parents turned down because they offered even less stability than virtual school. Even now, with vaccinations rising and case rates dropping, some families remain reluctant to send their kids back to us in the fall. I can’t help thinking that’s because we broke their trust.
Does virtual learning work for some kids, in some circumstances? Sure. So does home-schooling, or not attending school at all. But I am profoundly relieved that most districts, including my own, plan to shut down or restrict the online option.
I hope this means that we are renewing our collective commitment to true public education. Just as before, we will have to fight to make our schools safer, more equitable and more flexible. Just as before, coming together will be messy and complicated. Children, families and teachers will all need time to rebuild relationships with our institutions.
But we’ll be back together, in the same building, eating the same food. We’ll find that the friend who helps us in the morning might need our help in the afternoon. We’ll have soccer arguments at recess and patch them up in closing circle. We’ll sing songs, tell stories, plant seeds and watch them grow. That’s schooling in real life. That’s what public school is for.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement signals the beginning of the end to an arrangement that many homeless people said provided a better living environment.
By Andy Newman, June 16, 2021
Homeless people and advocates protested across from Gracie Mansion on Monday against the city’s plan to move people from hotel rooms back to group shelters. Credit...Andrew Seng for The New York Times
New York City plans to move about 8,000 homeless people out of hotel rooms and back to barrackslike dorm shelters by the end of July so that the hotels can reopen to the general public, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday.
When the pandemic lockdown began last spring, New York City moved the people out of the shelters, where in some cases as many as 60 adults stayed in a single room, to safeguard them from the coronavirus. Now, with social distancing restrictions lifted and an economic recovery on the line, the city is raring to fill those hotel rooms with tourists.
“It is time to move homeless folks who were in hotels for a temporary period of time back to shelters where they can get the support they need,” Mr. de Blasio said at a morning news conference.
The mayor said the city would need the state’s approval to remove the homeless people from 60 hotels, but a spokesman for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that as long as all shelter residents — even vaccinated ones — wore masks, the state had no objections to the plan.
“The governor has lifted social distancing restrictions, so now people just have to follow the C.D.C. guidelines on masks,” said the spokesman, Rich Azzopardi.
On Tuesday, Mr. Cuomo announced that the state was lifting nearly all remaining coronavirus restrictions and social distancing measures, after more than 70 percent of the state’s adults had received at least a first dose of a vaccine.
It was unclear when the city would move forward with its plan. When asked when people would be moved back to shelters, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Homeless Services said the agency still believed it needed the state’s approval.
The announcement signals the beginning of the end to a living arrangement that was popular with many homeless people, many of whom said that a private hotel room provided a vastly better living experience than sleeping in a shelter. Some said they would sooner live in the street than go back to a group shelter, where many residents are battling mental illness or substance abuse or both.
“I don’t want to go back — it’s like I’m going backward,” Andrew Ward, 39, who has been staying at the Williams Hotel in Brownsville, Brooklyn, after nearly two years at a men’s shelter nearby, said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s not safe to go back there. You’ve got people bringing in knives.” He said he had his belongings stolen countless times at the shelter.
At the hotel, he said: “It’s peaceful. It’s less stressful.” He said that if he was transferred back to a congregate shelter, “I’d just stay in the street like before.”
But the arrangement at the hotels, many of them located in densely populated middle-to-upper-class neighborhoods of Manhattan, has been a source of friction with neighbors who have complained of noise, outdoor drug use and other nuisances and dangers from the hotel residents.
The city’s decision last year to move nearly 300 people from a shelter on an island off Manhattan into the Hotel Lucerne on the Upper West Side touched off a monthslong battle. A state appeals court earlier this month ruled the city could move the people out of the hotel.
The mayor has said for months that the hotels were never intended to be permanent homes and that he wanted to move people out of them as soon as it was safe. But some advocates for the homeless have noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has offered to pay for the hotel rooms until the end of September and called Wednesday’s announcement premature.
At a small protest outside Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s residence, on Monday, homeless people and organizers from the advocacy group Vocal-NY demanded that the homeless remain in the hotels until they could be offered permanent apartments.
“Why the rush to put us back into the shelters now?” said Milton Perez, 45, who has spent five years in the shelter system. “Why the rush to put us in danger?”
The coronavirus hit the city’s shelter residents hard. More than 3,700 people in the city’s main shelter system contracted the virus, and 102 died of it, the city says.
During the pandemic, some congregate shelters closed entirely. Others moved most people out to create more space but stayed open.
Advocates noted that vaccination rates for homeless people might be much lower than the rate in the general population. The city said that about 6,300 homeless single adults had been fully vaccinated through Homeless Services sites, though it did not know how many had been vaccinated elsewhere. More than 17,000 single adults are in the main shelter system.
About 65 percent of adults in New York City have received at least a first dose of a vaccine.
“There are people sleeping in shelters who are still testing positive and getting sick,” Giselle Routhier, policy director at the Coalition for the Homeless, said in a statement on Wednesday. “Until permanent affordable housing can be secured, the safest option remains placement in hotel rooms.”
Ms. Routhier also took issue with Mr. de Blasio’s implication that people were not receiving needed social services at the hotels. In fact, several shelter operators said in interviews in recent weeks that they had found ways to offer most of the same treatment and counseling services at the hotels.
When the city decided to move people to hotel rooms last spring, many shelter operators were worried that many residents would fall prey to substance abuse or withdraw from social supports that kept their mental health from declining.
The actual results have been mixed. Some shelters have seen increases in overdoses, but others have seen reductions and reported that removing sources of tension seemed to have improved many people’s mental health, which resulted in fewer fights between residents.
“We had far fewer incidents,” said Andrea Kepler, the former director of a BronxWorks shelter in the Bronx that moved en masse to the OYO Times Square hotel, where each room had a microwave and a refrigerator and housekeeping services. She said that more people obeyed curfews at the hotel because they did not want to lose their spots.
“When you get down to it, it’s not science,” she said. “It’s about really doing basic human things that we would all want for ourselves.”
Nicholas Kraus of St. Paul, Minn., was drunk at the time of the crash, the authorities said. Deona Marie Erickson, 31, a social justice advocate, was killed in the episode.
By Neil Vigdor, Published June 16, 2021, Updated June 17, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/16/us/nicholas-kraus-minneapolis-protests.html?action=click&module=In%20Other%20News&pgtype=Homepage
The drunken driver who plowed a sport-utility vehicle into a crowd of protesters in Minneapolis on Sunday night, killing a woman and injuring several other people, was charged on Wednesday with intentional second-degree murder, the authorities said.
The demonstrators had been protesting the death of Winston Smith, a Black man who was shot by members of a federal law enforcement task force this month, when, officials said, the driver, Nicholas Kraus, barreled into them in a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Mr. Kraus, 35, of St. Paul, Minn., was intoxicated at the time and had been driving with a suspended license, according to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, which said that he had been convicted several times of driving under the influence of alcohol.
The protesters pulled Mr. Kraus from the vehicle, and some of them began to strike him, the Minneapolis Police Department said.
Michael O. Freeman, the Hennepin County attorney, said at a news conference on Wednesday that there was clear evidence that Mr. Kraus had intentionally driven into the crowd.
“He said he saw the cars and the barricades and the people,” Mr. Freeman said. “And at that point in time, he intentionally accelerated and went right at them. He said afterwards that he might have hit a person or two while he was driving his vehicle.”
The authorities said Mr. Kraus told investigators that he wanted to get over the barricade. They said there was no indication that he was motivated by politics or antipathy toward the protesters.
The attack on protesters has exacerbated the unrest in Minneapolis, which began last year after the killing of George Floyd while in police custody and continued this year with the trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering Mr. Floyd.
It was not immediately clear if Mr. Kraus, who is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, had a lawyer. He was also charged with two counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, according to a criminal complaint.
The woman who was killed in the episode was identified on Wednesday by the Hennepin County medical examiner as Deona Marie Erickson, 31. She also went by the name Deona Marie Knajdek and was known for her social justice activism.
She had two children and was a program manager for the Cottages Group, a residential services provider for vulnerable adults in the Twin Cities area.
“She was one of the most selfless people we have had the pleasure of knowing, she earned the respect and trust of those she served because of her true compassion for her work,” her employer said in a Facebook post on Monday.
Ms. Erickson’s relatives told local media outlets that she would have turned 32 this week and was drawn to the cause of social justice.
“I knew that she was going to use her voice for this,” Deb Kenney, Ms. Erickson’s mother, told the television station WCCO. “And I’m proud of her for doing so.”
The episode, which occurred at just before 11:40 p.m. Sunday at West Lake Street and Girard Avenue South, spurred outrage among the crowd of people, who had gathered to protest police brutality and commemorate the death of Mr. Smith. He was fatally shot by members of a fugitive task force who had been trying to arrest him.
“I’ve never seen anything that horrendous,” Zachery James, 28, said from the scene, where several of the crowd were still gathered hours later.
Mr. James said the protesters had blockaded an area of the road, using their own cars, and that he and about 40 to 50 people had been “occupying peacefully” when he first heard a vehicle driving toward the group at high speed. He said it smashed into one of the protesters’ parked cars, which hit a woman, sending her flying several yards into a pole.
Mr. James described Ms. Erickson as “an uplifting, kind, beautiful spirit” who was always curious and considerate toward others. He said she had recently joined the Black Lives Matter movement in Minneapolis.
“She was just here for us and with us,” he said. “I watched her body fly.”
Geoffrey H.L. Thom shot Iremamber Sykap eight times after a high-speed chase on April 5, prosecutors said. Two other officers were charged with attempted murder.
By Neil Vigdor, June 17, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/17/us/iremamber-sykap-shooting.html?action=click&module=In%20Other%20News&pgtype=Homepage
A Honolulu police officer has been charged with second-degree murder in what prosecutors called the unjustified fatal shooting of a 16-year-old boy after a high-speed chase in April. Two other officers have been charged with second-degree attempted murder for their roles in the confrontation.
The charges were announced on Tuesday by prosecutors in Honolulu, less than a week after a grand jury had declined to indict the officers in connection with their actions leading up to the death of Iremamber Sykap on April 5.
“The evidence supports the conclusion that the defendants’ use of deadly force in this case was unnecessary, unreasonable, and unjustified under the law,” Christopher T. Van Marter, a deputy prosecuting attorney, wrote in a criminal complaint.
Prosecutors said that Geoffrey H.L. Thom, the officer charged with second-degree murder, had fired 10 shots “without provocation” into the rear window of a Honda driven by Iremamber, hitting him eight times.
Iremamber died shortly after the shooting, according to prosecutors, who said that one of the bullets fired by Officer Thom had pierced Iremamber’s aorta and another had fractured his spine and that one of the bullets had pierced his lung, causing extreme internal bleeding.
Iremamber’s brother, Mark Sykap, who was in the front passenger seat, was struck in the right shoulder and the left hand when the officers opened fire, a criminal complaint said. He survived.
The shooting happened after a high-speed chase, according to investigators, who said that the car had been idling on a city street when three officers opened fire. The police said that the car had been reported stolen two days earlier and had been connected to an armed robbery, a purse snatching and a theft.
The gearshift lever of the car was still in the drive position when Iremamber was shot, and the vehicle struck an empty patrol car, climbed onto the sidewalk, went through a fence and landed in a canal about 10 feet below street level, investigators said.
Prosecutors said that Officer Thom had written in a police report that the Honda had rammed his patrol car and had reversed toward him. But body camera footage, they said, contradicted those statements. His patrol car had a few minor paint chips and scuff marks, a criminal complaint said.
Officer Thom, 42, a five-year veteran of the Honolulu Police Department, did not immediately respond to a phone message on Wednesday requesting comment. It was not clear if he had a lawyer.
The two officers who were charged with second-degree attempted murder were identified by prosecutors as Zackary K. Ah Nee and Christopher J. Fredeluces.
Prosecutors said that Officer Ah Nee, 26, a three-year police veteran, had fired four shots without provocation toward the passenger side of the Honda after it struck his empty patrol car. Two of those shots hit Iremamber’s brother, according to a criminal complaint.
Officer Ah Nee wrote in his report that he thought he had seen the butt of a firearm in the lap of the front-seat passenger, but body camera footage contradicted his account, the criminal complaint said.
A message seeking comment from Officer Ah Nee was left with a person who answered the phone at his home on Wednesday. It was not clear if he had a lawyer.
Prosecutors said that Officer Fredeluces, 40, a 10-year veteran of the Police Department, had fired one round from his Glock 9-millimeter pistol into the driver’s side door of the Honda, but the bullet did not strike Iremamber.
Officer Fredeluces could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.
If convicted, all three officers would face mandatory sentences of life in prison and would be eligible for parole only after serving 20 years because semiautomatic firearms were used in the shooting.
Their police powers have been removed, according to the Honolulu Police Department, which said that they had been placed on desk duty.
The decision to charge the three officers perplexed Honolulu’s interim police chief, Rade Vanic.
“We are surprised by the prosecuting attorney’s announcement to seek charges against the officers after a grand jury comprised of citizens decided not to indict them,” Chief Vanic said in a statement. “This is highly unusual, and we are not aware of a similar action having been taken in the past.”
Matt Dvonch, special counsel to the Honolulu prosecutor, Steven S. Alm, said in an interview on Wednesday that it was not the first time that the office had asked a judge to determine if there was probable cause after a grand jury did not return an indictment.
“It is not that common,” he said, “but it does happen on occasion.”
Eric Seitz, a lawyer for the Sykap family, was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday, but he told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he was gratified that prosecutors were pursuing the case.
“We have suspected from the beginning, when we began to get information about how the events unfolded, that the shooting was entirely unjustified,” he said. “Now that we’ve seen the further evidence that’s contained and attached to the charges, there’s no question in our minds that this was an event that could have been — and should have been — prevented.”
In May, the Sykap family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city of Honolulu and the officers who were involved in the shooting.
The head of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday, but in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday, he voiced support for the officers.
“We continue to trust the process and will continue to stand by our officers,” said Malcolm Lutu, the union’s president.
The exchanges on Thursday and into Friday stopped short of a full-scale escalation, but they underscored the fragile nature of the cease-fire that ended last month’s war.
“The new Israeli government does not want to appear weak, and is trying to differentiate itself from Benjamin Netanyahu, whose administration it replaced on Sunday. Mr. Netanyahu tended to ignore the balloons, whereas his successors want to show that the balloons will be met by a military response. … More than 8,000 remain homeless after their homes were destroyed in the war, with some living in classrooms of a U.N.-run school in Gaza City.”
By Patrick Kingsley, June 17, 2021
A street vendor works near a building that was destroyed by last month’s airstrikes in Gaza City. Credit...Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
JERUSALEM — Israeli airstrikes hit several sites in Gaza on Thursday night for the second time in three days, after Palestinian militants sent incendiary balloons into farmland in southern Israel for the third day in a row.
There were no reported casualties in either Israel or Gaza, but the exchange raised the specter of a return to full-scale conflict for the first time since an 11-day air war ended nearly a month ago.
The Israeli Army said it had targeted military compounds and a rocket launching site near Gaza City and Khan Younis, two of the biggest cities in the strip, shortly before midnight on Thursday. A Hamas-linked media outlet in Gaza reported hits on sites near Gaza City and Khan Younis, as well as in Jabalia, a town in the north of the strip.
About an hour later, early on Friday morning, sirens sounded in areas of southern Israel close to Gaza, a warning that the Israeli military said was prompted by gunfire from militants in Gaza, not rockets, which might have led to an even more forceful Israeli response.
The Israeli airstrikes followed attempts by militants in Gaza to set fires in Israeli farmland surrounding the strip. Militants sent balloons over the perimeter fence that were attached to incendiary devices. Eight fires were reported on Thursday, in addition to scores earlier in the week.
Analysts and diplomats are skeptical that either Hamas or Israel wants a repeat of the war in May. Israel’s new government is barely a few days into its term, while Hamas is still counting the cost of the damage caused last month. The chief of staff of the Israeli Army, Aviv Kochavi, is still planning to visit counterparts in the United States this weekend.
“If there had been an appetite to upscale and uptick, it would have happened already,” Tor Wennesland, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said in a phone interview on Thursday morning.
But while the exchanges on Thursday and into Friday stopped short of a full-scale escalation, they underscored the fragile nature of the cease-fire that followed the air war in May.
The new Israeli government does not want to appear weak, and is trying to differentiate itself from Benjamin Netanyahu, whose administration it replaced on Sunday. Mr. Netanyahu tended to ignore the balloons, whereas his successors want to show that the balloons will be met by a military response.
“What was is not what will be,” said a Defense Ministry official this week.
Hamas is reluctant to let recent behavior by the Israeli police and far-right activists in Jerusalem, which many Palestinians considered offensive and provocative, pass uncontested.
Despite mediation by Egyptian and United Nations officials, Hamas and Israel have yet to conclude a lasting cease-fire agreement.
Reconstruction in Gaza of thousands of homes, clinics, schools and major infrastructure systems has barely begun, with a damage assessment yet to be completed by Egypt and the United Nations. Israel is still blocking the import and export of most items, including millions of dollars in aid from Qatar, on which the Gazan economy depends.
For years, an Israeli and Egyptian blockade has limited what comes in and out of Gaza, while Israel controls Gaza’s airspace, access to water, cellular data and birth registry, and prohibits Palestinian access to farmland at the edge of the strip.
Talks on a new reconstruction arrangement have stalled over disagreements of the role that the Palestinian Authority should play in managing the efforts. Hamas forced the authority from Gaza in 2007, and it now administers only parts of the occupied West Bank.
Hamas is also seeking to include in the agreement the release of hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli jails. Israel wants Hamas to hand over two missing Israeli citizens and the remains of two Israeli soldiers.
Amid these disagreements and delays, many Palestinians in Gaza are still waiting for some kind of normalcy.
More than 8,000 remain homeless after their homes were destroyed in the war, with some living in classrooms of a U.N.-run school in Gaza City.
“The war will be over when I leave this place,” one newly homeless man, Mohammad Gharbain, 36, said in an interview at the school on Wednesday. “The war still goes on as long as I am here.”
Iyad Abuheweila contributed reporting from Gaza City, and Isabel Kershner from Jerusalem.
Six incarcerated people have died, a man accused of murder was accidentally released and a captain was charged with criminally negligent homicide, while the future of Rikers Island remains unclear.
By Jan Ransom, June 19, 2021
Tomas Carlo Camacho, left, died after being found unresponsive in a mental health observation unit on Rikers Island. Kevin Carlo, his son, said the family wanted someone to take responsibility for his father’s death. Credit...via Kevin Carlo
Violence on Rikers Island is surging. Exhausted guards are working triple shifts. And staffing shortages have triggered lockdowns at some of the jail’s largest facilities.
More than a year after the coronavirus sickened thousands in New York City’s jail system, the Department of Correction has plunged further into crisis as complaints of severe mismanagement, persistent violence and deaths of incarcerated people continue to mount.
Correction officers and incarcerated people alike have described a tumultuous first half of the year: Six detainees have died, including at least two by suicide, compared with seven through all of 2020. Guards have been forced to work triple and occasionally quadruple shifts, staying on duty for 24 hours or longer, to make up for staffing shortages.
Last month, a report by a federal monitor appointed to oversee the troubled jails described a system in a state of disorder, and expressed grave concern about the agency’s ability to change course.
The crisis comes at a pivotal moment for Rikers Island. Mayor Bill de Blasio and leaders in the City Council are moving forward with an $8 billion plan to replace the complex with four smaller jails in five years. But most of the candidates vying to replace Mr. de Blasio when his term expires at the end of the year have expressed opposition to the plan. Several candidates have said they want to close Rikers Island without building jails to replace it, instead focusing on mental health treatment. Other candidates have expressed concern about the size and location of the planned new jails.
The chaos at Rikers Island, one of the nation’s largest and most notorious jails, has erupted at a time when officials across the country are grappling with the pandemic, violence and abuse behind bars.
In New Jersey, the governor announced this month that the state’s only prison for women will be shuttered after a Justice Department review found there was a pervasive culture of sexual violence by guards. At the same time, officials in California, Connecticut and elsewhere have moved to close facilities in response to a drop in the prison population and a broad rethinking of how and when people should be incarcerated.
New York City’s correction department, meanwhile, has endured a punishing streak of scandals: A captain was charged with criminally negligent homicide in April after she left a man hanging in a Manhattan jail cell and stopped a subordinate from intervening.
A captain, an assistant deputy warden and two correction officers were suspended in March after a man accused of murder was accidentally released from jail. And now, the department is investigating the wrongful release of yet another detainee who escaped on Monday. The department, in March, also came under fire following a report in the Daily News that more than 1,500 phone calls between defendants and their lawyers had been illegally recorded.
And late last month, several guards and other correction workers were charged with taking bribes to smuggle contraband into city jails.
“I have real questions about what’s happening with the agency,” said Councilman Keith Powers, a Manhattan Democrat who heads the criminal justice committee. “I think we all recognize that Covid has added a new layer of stress to the system, but it still doesn’t help us account for the various issues we have seen over the last few months.”
At least some of the problems inside the jails appear to be the result of mismanagement, the federal monitor found, such as staffing shortfalls resulting not from a lack of officers but from a failure to properly deploy them.
In interviews, guards described being too exhausted to break up fights or to complete necessary paperwork. For some officers, the longer hours have led to shorter tempers and irritability when interacting with inmates, they said. Officer morale remains low. Up to 2,000 officers — more than 20 percent of the work force — are out sick or unable to work daily, jail officials said.
In response, incarcerated people have grown frustrated by a reduction in basic services. Inadequate staffing has forced them to miss meetings with their lawyers, and limited access to commissary, the law library, and medical and mental health care.
Cynthia Brann, the former jails commissioner who stepped down at the end of last month, declined an interview.
Speaking at a jail oversight hearing, Ms. Brann acknowledged “significant challenges” since the beginning of the pandemic.
“I can assure you we’ve taken all measures to ensure that we are safely staffed and operations go on,” Ms. Brann said.
But the 342-page report released by the federal monitor provided a strikingly different view.
“Issues plaguing the department are systemic and deep-seated and have been passed down and accepted by all levels of staff across the agency,” the monitor, Steve J. Martin, a lawyer and national corrections expert, said.
He said the jail’s use-of-force rate was at a five-year high, and added that “the pervasive level of disorder and chaos in the facilities is alarming.”
‘We just want answers’
Instances of self harm have been on the rise in the city’s jails in recent months, statistics show. In March, 148 people harmed themselves, including 12 seriously, according to Correctional Health Services data.
Yet, training officers to better respond to suicide attempts has lagged. As of May 6, just 10 percent of the city’s more than 9,000 officers and their supervisors had received a required annual refresher course in suicide prevention training, the department said.
Underscoring the issue, Manhattan prosecutors in April charged a correction captain, Rebecca Hillman, with criminally negligent homicide after they say she left Ryan Wilson hanging in his cell for 15 minutes on Nov. 22 and stopped another officer from saving him.
Two days later, another man, Ishmael Hamilton, 26, tried to kill himself while in a mental health clinic on Rikers Island, according to an official with knowledge of the incident. The city’s Department of Investigation is now investigating.
On Jan. 23 at another facility on Rikers Island, Wilson Diaz-Guzman, 30, used a bedsheet to hang himself from a sprinkler head in his cell, the official said. An officer discovered Mr. Diaz-Guzman at 7 p.m. He was pronounced dead 30 minutes later.
Tomas Carlo Camacho, 48, was in a mental health observation unit on Rikers on March 2 when he was found unresponsive and on his knees with his head through a small slot in the cell door known as a cuffing slot. He died at a hospital. Earl Ward, a lawyer for the family said Mr. Carlo Camacho should have been under constant surveillance.
Mr. Carlo Camacho’s son, Kevin Carlo, said his father had schizophrenia disorder.
“He was a God-fearing man, he had two kids and grandkids who love him,” Mr. Carlo, 28, said. “We just want answers. We want somebody to take responsibility.”
Seventeen days later, Javier Velasco, 37, used a bedsheet to hang himself while also housed in a mental health observation unit. Mr. Velasco had been transferred to the unit after he had attempted suicide three days earlier, according to two people with knowledge of the incident.
Given the earlier suicide attempt, advocates say, jail officials failed to protect Mr. Velasco.
With the pandemic starting to recede behind bars — 10 percent of incarcerated people have already had the virus and 38 percent were at least partially vaccinated as of last week — new issues have arisen.
“This isn’t even about Covid anymore,” said Kelsey De Avila, the jail service project director at the Brooklyn Defender Services. “This is the aftermath now, this is the crisis that follows the pandemic.”
‘Our officers feel defeated’
The correction officer had not eaten or had a break from her post at a facility on Rikers Island in more than 16 hours. When a fight erupted in the jailhouse, she said, she was too tired to stop it.
It was not the first time the officer, 27, who spoke anonymously because she was not authorized to speak to the media, had to work a triple shift. She said she had worked 15 24-hour shifts since the fall. She had started sleeping in her car, she said, because she was too tired to drive home and often had to return in a matter of hours.
Another officer, 31, said she had worked so many long hours that it began to affect her health. She was only relieved after she suffered a medical emergency on duty, when her heart was racing and she had chest pain.
Benny Boscio Jr., president of the union representing correction officers, said 1,000 officers had resigned in the past two years, in part because of the work conditions. “Our officers feel defeated,” he said.
Jail staff and elected officials had questioned Ms. Brann’s leadership in the months before her departure. Many welcomed the appointment of her successor, Vincent Schiraldi, who is widely seen as a reformer. Mr. Schiraldi has said he plans to downsize the system and move forward on efforts to close Rikers Island.
In an interview, Mr. Schiraldi said he would focus attention on young adults and incarcerated people with mental illnesses at a time when more than half of the city’s detainees receive mental health services. These groups have experienced the highest rates of violence and use-of-force by guards, he said.
Mr. Schiraldi said he also wanted to prioritize getting jail officers to return to work.
“It’s like peeling an onion, there are many layers to the violence that’s occurring there and that includes an insufficient number of staff coming to work, the pandemic, programs being closed down,” Mr. Schiraldi said. “We need a multifaceted approach.”
Councilwoman Adrienne E. Adams said Ms. Brann, the previous commissioner, was “failing her employees in not getting to the bottom of sick outs and making a better work environment.”
Mr. de Blasio, during an “Inside City Hall” interview on NY1 in March, praised Ms. Brann for her work on the plan to close Rikers and, following pressure from advocates for incarcerated people, a move to end solitary confinement.
“Commissioner Brann has taken on an incredibly tough situation and made real progress,” Mr. de Blasio said.
Joseph Russo, president of the union representing assistant deputy wardens and deputy wardens, said that staff members felt “trapped” and that some had resorted to calling out sick to avoid being forced to work multiple shifts.
Jail officials said that staff had been redeployed from headquarters, specialized and support units to make up for the wave of absences. The city also plans to hire 400 new correction officers this year.
But the staffing issues, the monitor’s report said, had led to problems, including the elevated use of excessive force, tension among detainees, and morale issues among staff members working extra shifts.
The monitor also said that jail officers tended to rely too heavily on emergency response teams to assist with routine jailhouse matters, often resulting in extreme uses of force.
“The department struggles to manage its large number of staff productively, to deploy them effectively, to supervise them responsibly, and to elevate the base level of skill of its staff,” the monitor said.
Mr. Boscio, the correction officer union leader, said the work force felt abandoned.
“People are frustrated with the working conditions we’re forced to work in,” Mr. Boscio said. “We feel like they’ve forsaken us.”
By Nicholas Kristof, June 19, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/19/opinion/sunday/child-marriage-rape.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
For years, the United States has campaigned against child marriage around the world, from Guatemala to Zimbabwe. But we should listen to ourselves: Forty-five states here in America continue to allow girls and boys under 18 to wed.
Girls as young as 10 are occasionally married quite legally in the United States. Nine states have established no absolute minimum age for marriage.
A study this year found that nearly 300,000 children — meaning age 17 and under — were married in the United States from 2000 to 2018. An overwhelming majority were 16- or 17- year-old girls, on average marrying a man four years older. But more than 1,000 were 14 or younger, and five were only 10 years old. Some were wed to people far older.
“No one asked me for consent,” remembered Patricia Abatemarco, who as an eighth grader was married just after her 14th birthday to a man who was 27. “There was nothing romantic about it. I wasn’t in love with him. I didn’t have a crush on him. I was afraid of him.”
A judge in Florence, Ala., married the couple in the courthouse, and then the couple went to the park outside — where the new bride spotted a playground and left the groom to play on the jungle gym.
Abatemarco, now 55, said the path to this marriage began when she was 12 and living in a middle-class home. Her parents were secular, but she had become quite religious and during a personal crisis sought help from an evangelical Christian telephone hotline. A counselor, Mark, showed up and offered free counseling services; these became increasingly intense, she said, and he began to forcibly rape her repeatedly.
At 13, she became pregnant by these rapes. She didn’t know what to do, but Mark and her mother favored marriage. This solved their problems: For Abatemarco’s mother, it averted the stigma of an out-of-wedlock baby in the house, and for Mark, it allowed him to dodge rape charges. Abatemarco desperately wanted to keep the baby, in hopes of having someone to love and comfort her, and her mom told her this was the only way she could do so.
While this happened decades years ago, similar reasoning leads to many youthful marriages today.
I’ve been writing about child marriages in the United States since 2017, when I came across the case of an 11-year-old girl, Sherry Johnson, who had been forced to marry her rapist in Florida. Child marriage was then allowed in some form in all 50 states.
Now, thanks in part to heroic work by an advocacy organization, Unchained at Last, five states have completely barred marriages by people under 18: Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and (just this month) Rhode Island. New York has passed a similar bill that is awaiting the governor’s signature.
The states that allow child marriages mostly do so in particular circumstances, such as with the permission of a parent and a judge. These safeguards don’t work very well. The marriages sometimes involve a girl, perhaps pregnant, marrying an older man who may be her rapist.
The new study found that 60,000 of the child marriages since 2000 involved couples with a large enough gap in ages that sex would typically be a crime. “The marriage license became a get-out-of-jail-free card in most of those states,” said Fraidy Reiss, a victim of forced marriage who founded Unchained at Last.
There are, of course, 17-year-olds who fall deeply in love and can handle a marriage. We can understand that if a girl becomes pregnant, the couple may prefer to marry right away. But it’s complicated: The legal system withholds many rights from people under 18, so a married 17-year-old can become trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare.
If the marriage sours, an underage girl will often not be accepted at a women’s shelter. She will have difficulty retaining a lawyer to get assistance. Astonishingly, she may even have trouble getting divorced, because children often cannot initiate a legal proceeding without going through a guardian. And if a minor flees a violent husband, the police may send her right back to her abuser.
That’s what happened to Abatemarco.
Her marriage at 14 didn’t work. Within months, Abatemarco said, Mark began beating her almost daily and sometimes the new baby as well. (Mark died in 2008, so I don’t know his version of events.)
One night, she said, she fled a beating and was walking on the road about midnight with her baby in a stroller. A police officer stopped her for violating curfew, drove her and the baby back home, gave a copy of the written warning to her husband and then drove off.
“My husband then beat me,” Abatemarco said.
Eventually, Abatemarco fled for good and put her baby daughter up for adoption. With the help of her parents, she was able to get a divorce — on a school day, with enough time to catch her 11th-grade English class.
The United States is quite right to campaign to end child marriage in Bangladesh and Yemen. Let’s do the same at home.
One of the girls’ remains from a 1985 police attack are believed to have ended up in a cardboard box for use in a university forensics course, provoking outrage.
By Sam Roberts, June 21, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/21/us/consuewella-africa-dead.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=Obituaries
Consuewella Africa, whose two young daughters were among 11 victims of a police siege in West Philadelphia in 1985 that began when officers tried to arrest four members of the revolutionary group MOVE and ended after the police dropped a bomb on its fortified commune, died on Wednesday in Philadelphia. She was 67.
Her death was confirmed by MOVE, which said she had been hospitalized several weeks ago with lung problems.
The group said Ms. Africa had become ill after officials at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton publicly acknowledged in April that anthropologists had been using the unidentified bones of one of the siege’s young victims for research and in teaching an online course on forensics.
Ms. Africa, MOVE’s former minister of confrontation, was in prison at the time of the siege. She had been arrested in 1978 following the group’s armed standoff with the police in the Powelton Village section of Philadelphia, in which an officer was killed. She was paroled in 1994.
In the 1985 episode, the police fired 10,000 rounds into MOVE’s rowhouse compound and deployed a helicopter that dropped bombs, igniting a fire that destroyed 65 homes. Eleven people, including five children, were killed.
The unidentified bones of one young victim had been turned over by the local medical examiner to an independent forensic anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania in 1985. The anthropologist was subsequently hired by Princeton. In 2016, after he retired, the bones were returned to the Penn Museum, where the curator made a video of a forensic examination of the bones for a Princeton online course.
MOVE members believed the bones belonged to one of Ms. Africa’s daughters, Zanetta, 12, known as Netta, or Katricia, 14, who was known as Tree. They were half sisters. A statement on MOVE’s website expressed confidence that the remains were those of Tree.
The remains were supposed to have been cremated, but when The Philadelphia Inquirer and the news site Billy Penn reported in April that the bones had been stored in a cardboard box at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, Ms. Africa broke into tears.
“It’s just continuous, nonstop, vicious, violent, sadistic, ongoing abuse of the MOVE organization,” she said at a news conference.
“The MOVE organization is not just a bunch of people you see here,” she said. “We are a family, a unit. We stand together. This is my family. The family of John Africa. Our belief is life. Our children is life. Animals are life. Therefore, we stand together and fight for one life.”
MOVE was founded in 1972 by John Africa, born Vincent Leaphart. The name is shorthand for the original title, Christian Movement for Life. The group espouses a back-to-nature philosophy while promoting Black liberation. Members, most of them Black, have adopted Africa as a surname.
In 1988, a grand jury exonerated police officials of criminal liability in the siege. In 1990, Ms. Africa was awarded $125,000 in damages plus a $950 monthly annuity for each of her two daughters, guaranteed for 30 years.
Mike Africa Jr., who had been a childhood friend of Ms. Africa’s daughters, said his reaction to the revelation about the remains was “anger, fury, disappointment, sadness.”
“It’s like this never ends,” he told The New York Times, “and no matter how much time passes, and you hope that things can get to a place where you can begin to heal some, it’s right back up in your face.”
After the existence of the remains was reported in the news media, Christopher Woods, the director of the Penn Museum, said: “I would apologize for any trauma this has reintroduced. That certainly wasn’t our intention. Our intention was to help solve this case and restore the personhood and identity and dignity of this individual.”
Consuewella Dotson was born on Aug. 11, 1953, in South Philadelphia. After graduating from a Roman Catholic high school, she became enraptured by the teachings of John Africa.
Her survivors include her husband, Frank Edwards; her sister and brother, Zelma and Isaac Dotson; and her son, Lionel Dotson.
The statement on MOVE’s website said that the organization had been notified that the remains had been sent to a local funeral home and expressed the hope that “we can put Tree and Consuewella together.”
A major step toward defusing tensions in a conflict that has long divided Spain prompted mixed reactions from an independence movement.
By Nicholas Casey, June 22, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/22/world/europe/spain-catalan-pardon.html?action=click&module=In%20Other%20News&pgtype=Homepage
MADRID — Spain’s government on Tuesday approved pardons to a group of separatists serving long prison sentences for their involvement in a failed attempt to form a breakaway state in the northeastern region of Catalonia, a major olive branch in a conflict that has long divided the country.
The pardons, approved by the Spanish cabinet and announced at a news conference, made good on recent promises by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to reconcile with a separatist movement that in 2017 rocked Spain with an independence referendum. Spain’s courts declared the vote illegal and the government ordered a crackdown, confiscating ballots and even sending in riot squads to beat many who tried to vote.
Officials also ordered wide-ranging arrests, including those of the nine politicians and independence activists, who were originally given sentences between nine and 13 years, on charges that included sedition and misuse of public funds. The prisoners were jailed about three and a half years ago.
In an announcement from the prime minister’s palace, Mr. Sánchez offered a conciliatory tone that marked a shift from past confrontational stances by the government against the prisoners. He said pardoning them was in the public interest.
“It’s best for Catalonia, it’s best for Spain,” he said.
The government did not offer complete pardons to the prisoners, however, maintaining bans on holding political office for a number of them who previously had been politicians.
Among those receiving clemency were Oriol Junqueras, the former deputy leader of Catalonia; Raül Romeva, who had been in charge of foreign affairs for the former Catalan government; Jordi Sànchez, who headed a pro-independence group; and Jordi Cuixart, the president of Omnium Cultural, a Barcelona-based cultural organization.
The pardons decision did not come without risks for Mr. Sánchez, leader of the Socialists, who has been fending off criticism that the party has been soft on the separatists, whom many Spanish regard as little more than lawbreakers. Separatists claim they are political prisoners.
After Mr. Sánchez began floating the idea of pardons more seriously this month, three major political parties — representing voters from Spain’s center, right and far right — demonstrated in Madrid, in a protest that drew an estimated 25,000 people.
Polls show most Spaniards oppose the pardons.
“The pardons are a prize for those who have destroyed families, those that have broken the law,” said Inés Arrimadas, a Catalan politician who heads the centrist Citizens political party and who led a group of protesters. “It’s a humiliation to those in Catalonia who continue to be loyal to the Constitution and follow the law.”
Ms. Arrimadas noted that until recently, Mr. Sánchez and members of his government maintained that the separatists needed to answer for their crimes, but that his party now needs support from Catalan nationalists to pass laws.
Many observers, however, point out that for a government looking to win hearts and minds in Catalonia, the timing could be favorable.
Mr. Sánchez’s Socialists won the most seats in a regional vote in Catalonia in February after years of trailing in elections. Pro-independence parties eventually formed a government without them, but rallied behind a moderate leader, Pere Aragonès, who is proposing a dialogue with Madrid rather than pushing for a renewed referendum.
Joaquim Coll, a historian and columnist in Barcelona, said that in the years since the 2017 referendum, the momentum of the independence movement has flagged throughout the region, meaning there may be little threat in releasing the prisoners.
“I think from the point of view of the state,” he said, “it’s a gesture that confirms the victory of the state — the gesture that the winner chooses to make.”
Mr. Coll also said that by releasing the prisoners, the government deprived more hard-line members of the independence movement of martyrs who could be used to push for more confrontation with Madrid. That gives more breathing room to moderates in Catalonia.
The jailings stem from a longstanding conflict over who should govern in Catalonia, a region of 7.5 million people that is home to Barcelona as well as a separate language and an independent culture.
After Spain’s courts in 2010 nullified much of a charter that was meant to grant the region more autonomous powers, a regional separatist movement began to gain momentum.
The 2017 referendum was held in the face of a court ruling that it was illegal. The separatists declared victory despite opinion polls showing the public divided on the issue, and Catalonia’s government declared independence — only to suspend the measure and be dissolved by the Spanish government in the crackdown.
The next showdown came in the trial of the independence leaders, which dominated the news for months. In 2019, Spain’s Supreme Court gave the group prison sentences of up to 13 years for crimes that included sedition and misuse of public funds.
The long prison sentences stunned many human rights observers, including Amnesty International, which said jailed separatists amounted to political prisoners in the heart of Europe.
Reactions to the pardons were mixed among some members of the independence movement.
“On a personal note, them getting out of prison will make me happy,” said Adrià Alsina, a national secretary for the Catalan National Assembly, an independence group whose leader, Mr. Sànchez, was among those who received pardons. “But the whole process seems like an enormous bad joke.”
Mr. Alsina said that his goal was not pardons, but instead a declaration of amnesty by the Spanish government, a statement that the prisoners had not committed any crimes, and an agreement to allow a new independence referendum to decide Catalonia’s status.
Conservatives were also not pleased by the pardons, though for different reasons.
“This sends a confusing message to citizens about equity in justice,” said Trinidad Cornejo, who works as an economist in the capital, Madrid. “I’m not saying I’m against it in the future, but right now, no, because only a little time has passed and they’re not sorry.”
José Bautista contributed reporting.
By Luis Ferré-Sadurní, June 23, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/23/nyregion/india-walton-buffalo-mayor-socialist.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage
“Tonight’s result proves that Buffalonians demand community-minded, people-focused government, and we’re ready to serve them,” India Walton said. Credit...Lindsay Dedario/Reuters
A progressive challenger running her first campaign was poised on Tuesday to beat Buffalo’s four-term Democratic mayor in a primary upset that would upend the political landscape in New York’s second-biggest city and signal the strength of the party’s left wing.
The challenger, India B. Walton, is a former nurse and community activist who ran with the support of the Democratic Socialists of America and the Working Families Party. She was leading Byron Brown, a longtime member of the Democratic establishment, by 7 percentage points, or about 1,500 votes, as of midnight with all of the in-person ballots counted, according to unofficial results.
Should Ms. Walton, 38, win the primary and then triumph in the general election November — a likely result in heavily Democratic Buffalo — she would be the first socialist mayor of a major American city since 1960, when Frank P. Zeidler stepped down as Milwaukee’s mayor. She would also be the first female mayor in Buffalo’s history.
Ms. Walton celebrated her victory in a jubilant call to her mother that was captured on video, yelling, “Mommy, I won. Mommy, I’m the mayor of Buffalo. Well, not until January, but, yeah.”
Mr. Brown, who once led the state’s Democratic Party and is a close ally of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, declined to concede despite the margin separating him from Ms. Walton.
“We’re going to make sure every single vote is counted,” he said. (Ms. Walton’s campaign estimated that there were about 1,500 absentee ballots outstanding.)
Ms. Walton showed no such hesitation in declaring victory, highlighting what she said were the race’s national ramifications. She said the stunning outcome would “resound here in Buffalo and throughout the nation, showing that a progressive platform that puts people over profit is both viable and necessary.”
“Tonight’s result proves that Buffalonians demand community-minded, people-focused government, and we’re ready to serve them,” Ms. Walton said in a statement. “For too long, we’ve seen our city work for politicians, for developers, for the police union, but not for ordinary working families. In our city, everyone will have a seat at the table.”
Ms. Walton has said her priorities as mayor would include adopting so-called sanctuary city rules to safeguard undocumented immigrants, introducing more robust protections for tenants and ending the role of police officers in most mental health emergency calls.
She has also criticized Mr. Byron’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and helped lead protests in the city last year over the police killing of George Floyd.
Mr. Brown, 62, did not campaign vigorously, according to his opponents, and he refused to debate Ms. Walton. He has appeared regularly with Mr. Cuomo at the governor’s news conferences in Western New York to promote the state’s economic reopening.
Ms. Walton, in turn, relied on an intense grass-roots organizing operation, a formidable fund-raising effort and backing from some of the governor’s most vocal foes, including the Working Families Party and Cynthia Nixon, who waged an unsuccessful primary campaign against Mr. Cuomo in 2018.
By Marlo Mack, June 23, 2021
Marlo Mack writes under a pseudonym about parenting a transgender daughter, in order to protect her child’s safety. Her memoir, “How to Be a Girl,” is based on her podcast of the same name.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/23/opinion/trans-children-parenting.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
I live in Seattle, a large, liberal city in a very blue state. Is that why my child is trans?
According to supporters of the raft of proposed laws targeting trans youth in state legislatures around the country, the answer is emphatically yes: Transgender children are a liberal American fad.
Are they right? Is the Family Research Council, a powerful right-wing organization that supports many of these bills, correct when it claims that children like mine are the result of “a resurgence of postmodern thinking”? Is it true, as a best-selling book has argued, that my daughter is part of a “transgender craze” sweeping America’s youth?
The evidence in my inbox suggests otherwise. I write a blog and host a podcast about parenting my trans daughter, and as a result I receive emails from parents of transgender children every day. I can assure you they are not all writing to me from San Francisco, New York City and Seattle. I can also assure you that my child was not channeling postmodern ideology almost a decade ago when she told me, at age 3, that she was not the boy we all believed her to be.
“My heart is a girl heart,” she said.
Soon after her announcement, I stumbled into the loving arms of a fledgling support group full of parents like me as we grappled with raising gender-diverse children in a world that had yet to hear the name Laverne Cox. I don’t know how I would have managed without them. And I wondered — and worried — about how parents like me were faring elsewhere. Because everything I learned tells me that children like mine must exist everywhere.
I learned that while many transgender people do not transition until adolescence or adulthood, significant numbers of young children are aware of their gender identity from a very young age. Dr. Kristina Olson, a psychologist at Princeton University who studies gender development in children, says, “Research shows that there are a set of trans people who first identify with their gender by the toddler or preschool years and continue to do so throughout their lives.”
I learned that children like this are not new. In her book, “Histories of the Transgender Child,” the historian Jules Gill-Peterson documents the existence of transgender children in the United States dating back to the early 20th century. “As far back as historians like me have found evidence of transgender people,” she recently wrote in The Times, “we have found transgender children.” I read about the long history of people living outside the gender binary in cultures around the planet, including the hijra of South Asia, the fa’afafine of Samoa and the “Two Spirit” people in Native American cultures.
After I started my blog, I began to receive emails from parents who said they had children just like mine. At first, the messages came mostly from the United States, including many from the Midwest and the South. But then I began to hear from parents farther afield. “I am the mom of a gender fluid kid who seems to be the only one in the whole country,” wrote a woman from Italy. The father of a 6-year-old in Argentina wrote to share research he’d found on transgender issues. Groups on Facebook connected me with more parents from around the globe. We shared stories in lengthy emails and in hourslong video chats, meeting each other’s children and laughing and crying like old friends.
Some of them let me interview them for a radio documentary produced for the BBC World Service. I was struck by how remarkably similar their stories were to the ones I had heard for years at my local support group in Seattle.
In Johannesburg, South Africa, a 6-year-old wanted to know why God had forgotten to give him a penis.
On the outskirts of Paris, a mother knew something was amiss when her 5-year-old grew distraught at the idea of one day having “a beard like Papa.”
In Gurugram, India, a father was baffled by his child’s deep depression and frightening incidents of self-harm.
A mother from Kyushu, Japan, told me that she had never heard the word “transgender” when her child came out to her as nonbinary. She described a Japanese legend about people who come down to Earth from the moon. “And that’s how I felt,” she said. “It was as if my child had said, ‘I’m actually from the moon.’”
Like this mother (and like me), nearly all of these parents were bewildered and terrified when they first learned their child was trans. But their children’s suffering was too real to ignore. When the father in India finally discovered the source of his child’s depression — she told him that she could no longer bear living as a boy — she asked her father if he was going to throw her out on the streets.
He did not. Instead, he founded a group that supports transgender people in India. The mother in Japan did the same. A mother from Bogotá, Colombia, joined a similar group after consulting three priests and informing them that if she had to choose between her religion and her transgender son, she would walk away from a lifetime in the Catholic Church. All three priests told her that humans may judge, but God loved her son. She stayed.
These children, their parents told me, are now thriving, living in the genders that match their hearts — in some cases thanks to medical care that still remains inaccessible to many trans people around the world. But if transgender children are a global phenomenon, so are their struggles. Just as in the United States, parents who have spoken publicly are often harassed and threatened. (For safety reasons, I am not naming them.) Nearly all saw relationships with friends and family members disintegrate when their children came out as trans. Several families immigrated to countries that felt safer for their children. “When my daughter is older,” said one mother who left Mexico for the United States, “I’ll tell her the real reason we left.”
These kinds of moves are likely to become more common, as courts and legislatures around the United States and in other countries chip away at transgender rights, restricting access to gender-affirming (and lifesaving) medical care for children like mine. On my social media feed, parents around the world are asking one another: Where can we go now? Where will my child be safe?
It is not always easy to stay hopeful while raising a transgender child in a world that so rarely chooses to welcome her. I wonder what I would do if my own state passed a law making her medical care illegal. I worry about where she will be able to live and travel safely when she is older. I worry about the children who live in places where being transgender remains a crime.
Yet I am hopeful, because I have witnessed the ferocious, protective love of parents around the world. And that is not a liberal Western fad.
By Amanda Allen and Cari Sietstra, June 22, 2021
Ms. Allen is a reproductive rights lawyer. Ms. Sietstra is a reproductive rights advocate.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/22/opinion/miscarriage-abortion.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
Up to 26 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. These losses can be as physically painful as they are emotionally wrenching. And yet many patients are not offered the best care for their miscarriages because of abortion politics.
Both of us have had miscarriages. We each visited our doctors for scheduled ultrasounds between eight and 11 weeks of pregnancy, expecting to see a little bean-shaped baby-to-be with a reassuring heartbeat. Unfortunately, all we heard was quiet. No motion. No beautiful pulse. Only stillness.
These pregnancies would miscarry; there was no way to stop it. The only questions were how and when our bodies would begin to move through the physical acts of loss.
In an ideal world, our health care providers would have offered us the best possible treatment to move the process along quickly, with the least amount of pain and in the privacy of our homes. That treatment would have begun with us each taking one pill of mifepristone, which would have blocked the hormone progesterone and signaled to our bodies that the pregnancies we carried were at an end. That would have been followed by several pills of misoprostol, which would have caused the cramping and bleeding needed for our bodies to swiftly finish our miscarriages. Then we could begin the process of healing and prepare, in both our cases, to try for another pregnancy.
But neither of us was given this option. Instead, we were offered one of three treatment possibilities: a procedure known as dilation and curettage at a local Planned Parenthood, watchful waiting and the use of misoprostol alone, which is less effective than when it’s paired with mifepristone.
Both of us declined the procedure at Planned Parenthood because we wanted to avoid enduring a gantlet of anti-abortion protesters on top of our grief and to select a less invasive and less costly alternative. One of us chose to wait for the miscarriage to pass on its own and weeks later had to undergo a painful procedure to dislodge the remaining pregnancy tissue. The other chose misoprostol alone, which involved more pain and trauma than if it had been preceded by mifepristone to prepare the body to begin the bleeding process.
Because we both work in reproductive health and rights and have deep knowledge of pregnancy loss, we knew there was another way — and we knew it wouldn’t be offered to us.
Why weren’t we offered the best care? It wasn’t an issue of coverage or payment for treatment; we both were fortunate enough to have great health insurance. Many patients who miscarry are not so fortunate. It wasn’t a safety concern; mifepristone has a 30-year track record of use and can be safer than Tylenol. It wasn’t a supply chain issue or unfamiliarity with the medicine. It was abortion politics.
Mifepristone is restricted in the United States for political reasons. Pharmacies are prohibited from stocking it. That’s because, in addition to managing miscarriages, it is used to induce early abortions. This means that because of opposition to abortion, mifepristone is as heavily regulated as drugs like OxyContin.
Last month in a court filing, the Food and Drug Administration announced a new review of the restrictions on this medicine. We applaud this first step and urge the agency to make mifepristone available as a prescription drug.
Right now, health care providers must be certified to prescribe mifepristone, even if they want to use it to manage miscarriages. Even though it could be bought and taken at home as easily as any other prescribed drug, health care providers are required to purchase mifepristone themselves and dispense it in person from their clinics (though the F.D.A. recently suspended the in-person dispensation requirement for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic). If patients are offered mifepristone, they have to sign a consent form stating that they are knowingly ending their pregnancies.
Anti-abortion policies frequently ensnare miscarriages and funnel women who lose wanted pregnancies into substandard treatments that can lengthen their pain and suffering. We are especially concerned that harmful policies around miscarriage will disproportionately hurt people who are already poorly served in pregnancy care. Black women, for instance, have a higher risk of miscarriage compared to white women, and Black women are three to four times as likely as white women to die from pregnancy or childbirth complications.
The mifepristone regulations benefit no one, regardless of whether a person is choosing to end a pregnancy or miscarrying. It’s time for the F.D.A. to allow patients to access this drug without red tape designed to stigmatize abortion.
An Indigenous group said the remains of 751 people, mainly children, had been found in unmarked graves on the site of a former boarding school in Saskatchewan.
By Ian Austen and Dan Bilefsky, June 24, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/24/world/canada/indigenous-children-graves-saskatchewan-canada.html
CALGARY, Alberta — The remains of 751 people, mainly Indigenous children, were discovered at the site of a former school in the province of Saskatchewan, a Canadian Indigenous group said on Thursday, jolting a nation grappling with generations of widespread and systematic abuse of Indigenous people.
The discovery, the largest one to date, came weeks after the remains of 215 children were found in unmarked graves on the grounds of another former boarding school in British Columbia.
Both schools were part of a system that took Indigenous children in the country from their families over a period of about 113 years, sometimes by force, and housed them in boarding schools, where they were prohibited from speaking their languages.
A national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established in 2008 to investigate, expose and document the history and consequences of the residential schools, called the practice “cultural genocide.” Many children never returned home, and their families were given only vague explanations of their fates, or none at all. Canada had about 150 residential schools and an estimated 150,000 Indigenous children passed through the schools between their opening, around 1883, and their closing in 1996.
It is unclear how the children died at the church-run schools, which were buffeted by disease outbreaks a century ago, and where children faced sexual, physical and emotional abuse and violence. Some former students of the schools have described the bodies of infants born to girls impregnated by priests and monks being incinerated.
The commission estimated that about 4,100 children went missing nationwide from the schools. But an Indigenous former judge who led the commission, Murray Sinclair, said in an email this month that he now believed the number was “well beyond 10,000.”
The discovery in Saskatchewan was made by the Cowessess First Nation at the Marieval Indian Residential School, about 87 miles from the provincial capital, Regina.
“There was always talk and speculation and stories, but to see this number — it’s a pretty significant number,” said Bobby Cameron, the chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, the provincial federation of Indigenous groups. “It’s going to be difficult and painful and heartbreaking.”
He added: “This is what the Catholic Church in Canada and the government of Canada of the day forced on our children.”
For Canada’s 1.7 million Indigenous citizens, who make up about 4.9 percent of the population, the discovery is a visceral reminder of centuries of discrimination and abuse, which has led to intergenerational trauma among survivors of residential schools and their families.
It is also a powerful vindication of their testimonies. While the recent findings have intensified attention to the issue, Indigenous people had been suggesting for decades through their oral histories that thousands of children had disappeared from the schools, but had often been met with skepticism. “There’s no denying this: All of the stories told by our survivors are true,” Chief Cameron said.
The latest findings are likely to deepen the nation’s debate over its history of exploiting Indigenous people and refocus attention on the horrors of the schools, a stain in the history of Canada, a country which has often been perceived, fairly or not, as a bastion of progressivism and multiculturalism.
In September 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the nation’s past “humiliation, neglect and abuse” of Indigenous people, and vowed in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly to improve the lives of the country’s Indigenous people. The latest discoveries will add pressure for him to accelerate those efforts, which many Indigenous people complain have fallen short.
When Mr. Trudeau took office in 2015, he made the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 recommendations a top priority. But progress has been slow, in part because some of them are beyond the federal government’s control. The Indian Act, a collection of laws dating back to the 19th century that govern the lives of Indigenous people, also remains in place despite Mr. Trudeau’s promises to move it into a new system under their control. Chief Cameron and several other Indigenous leaders say that they hope the discovery of the children’s remains will accelerate the process.
The remains of the 215 children were discovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia through the use of ground-penetrating radar. Much like an M.R.I. scan of the body, the technology produces images of anomalies in the soil.
An official at the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said the latest analysis, which relied on the same technology, began about three weeks ago, not long after the announcement of preliminary findings about the Kamloops school by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation.
The search at the Kamloops school is continuing, and the First Nation leaders said that they expected the count to rise further.
When the commission tried to look into the question of missing Indigenous children, the Conservative government at the time turned down its request for money to finance searches. Since the Kamloops discovery at the end of May, several Canadian governments have offered to pay for searches.
On Tuesday, the federal government announced that it would provide just under 4.9 million Canadian dollars (about $3.9 million) to Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan to search for graves. The provincial government previously committed 2 million Canadian dollars ($1.6 million).
In a statement, Scott Moe, the premier of Saskatchewan, predicted that the remains of more children would be found elsewhere. “Sadly, other Saskatchewan First Nations will experience the same shock and despair as the search for graves continues,” he wrote.
Like Kamloops, the Marieval school, which opened in 1899, was operated for most of its history by the Roman Catholic Church for the government of Canada. A marked cemetery still exists on the grounds of the school, which closed in 1997 and was subsequently demolished. The commission, relying on testimony from former students and archival materials, listed the Marieval school as a likely site for unmarked graves.
The commission called for a papal apology for the role of the church, which operated about 70 percent of the schools. (The rest were run by Protestant denominations.) But despite a personal appeal from Mr. Trudeau to the Vatican, Pope Francis has still not taken that step. By contrast, the leadership of the United Church of Canada, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, apologized in 1986 for its role in running the schools.
Former students of the Saskatchewan residential schools were particularly active in litigation against the government, resulting in financial settlements and the establishment of the commission, which heard testimony from more than 6,700 witnesses over six years.
Since the Kamloops announcement, Chief Cameron said, he has been traveling around the province, where farming and mining are major industries, looking at former school sites.
“You can see with your plain eye the indent of the ground where these bodies are to be found,” he said of some locations. “These children are sitting there, waiting to be found.”
Vjosa Isai contributed research.