STOP THE TERROR of the U.S. Drone Killing
Why We Go to Creech…
Shut Down Creech, Fall Action Week
Sun, Sept 26th - Sat, Oct 2ndPlease Join Us!
Why We Go to Creech…
Shut Down Creech, Fall Action Week
Sun, Sept 26th - Sat, Oct 2nd
Please Join Us!
Ajmal Ahmadi weeps alone in a room after 10 members of his family, including 6 children were killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 29, 2021. (Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times):
Did you hear about the 3 Afghan toddler girls whose flesh was ripped to pieces by a U.S. Drone Strike last Sunday? Striking in a Kabul NEIGHBORHOOD, the attack also killed 4 other children, including 2 more under 6 years old! The grief on Amal Ahmadi’s face tells it all! 10 civilian family members dead, 7 of them children, body parts everywhere, and bodies unrecognizable. It was a horrific and tragic scene.
And then there was last Friday’s U.S. drone strike in Nangarhar Province that U.S. officials claimed killed two “high profile" ISIS-K targets.” A witness reported, “…rickshaws were burning. Children and women were wounded and one man, one boy and one woman had been killed on the spot.”
OFFICIALS LIE...CHILDREN, WOMEN AND MEN DIE!
WE MUST UNITE TO STOP THIS RACIST U.S. DRONE TERROR IN THE SKY.
Information about Programs & Activities, Housing & Transportation, Camp Justice, Meals, and Sponsorship & Support can be found on our website at <http://shutdowncreech.blogspot.com>.
Link to Registration:
Sincere Greetings of Peace:
The “In the Spirit of Mandela Coalition*” invites your participation and endorsement of the planned October 2021 International Tribunal. The Tribunal will be charging the United States government, its states, and specific agencies with human and civil rights violations against Black, Brown, and Indigenous people.
The Tribunal will be charging human and civil rights violations for:
• Racist police killings of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people,
• Hyper incarcerations of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people
• Political incarceration of Civil Rights/National Liberation era revolutionaries and activists, as well as present day activists,
• Environmental racism and its impact on Black, Brown, and Indigenous people,
• Public Health racism and disparities and its impact on Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, and
• Genocide of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people as a result of the historic and systemic charges of all the above.
The legal aspects of the Tribunal will be led by Attorney Nkechi Taifa along with a powerful team of seasoned attorneys from all the above fields. Thirteen jurists, some with international stature, will preside over the 3 days of testimonies. Testimonies will be elicited form impacted victims, expert witnesses, and attorneys with firsthand knowledge of specific incidences raised in the charges/indictment.
The 2021 International Tribunal has a unique set of outcomes and an opportunity to organize on a mass level across many social justice arenas. Upon the verdict, the results of the Tribunal will:
• Codify and publish the content and results of the Tribunal to be offered in High Schools and University curriculums,
• Provide organized, accurate information for reparation initiatives and community and human rights work,
• Strengthen the demand to free all Political Prisoners and establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission mechanism to lead to their freedom,
• Provide the foundation for civil action in federal and state courts across the United States,
• Present a stronger case, building upon previous and respected human rights initiatives, on the international stage,
• Establish a healthy and viable massive national network of community organizations, activists, clergy, academics, and lawyers concerned with challenging human rights abuses on all levels and enhancing the quality of life for all people, and
• Establish the foundation to build a “Peoples’ Senate” representative of all 50 states, Indigenous Tribes, and major religions.
Endorsements are $25. Your endorsement will add to the volume of support and input vital to ensuring the success of these outcomes moving forward, and to the Tribunal itself. It will be transparently used to immediately move forward with the Tribunal outcomes.
We encourage you to add your name and organization to attend the monthly Tribunal updates and to sign on to one of the Tribunal Committees. (3rd Saturday of each month from 12 noon to 2 PM eastern time). Submit your name by emailing: email@example.com
Please endorse now: http://spiritofmandela.org/endorse/
Dr. A’isha Mohammad
– Coordinating Committee
Created in 2018, In the Spirit of Mandela Coalition is a growing grouping of organizers, academics, clergy, attorneys, and organizations committed to working together against the systemic, historic, and ongoing human rights violations and abuses committed by the USA against Black, Brown, and Indigenous People. The Coalition recognizes and affirms the rich history of diverse and militant freedom fighters Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela, Graca Machel Mandela, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, and many more. It is in their Spirit and affirming their legacy that we work.
To: U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives
Sign Petition at:
A BRILLIANT, BRAVE, BLACK POLITICAL JOURNALIST
PLEASE CALL AND EMAIL ON BEHALF OF KEVIN RASHID JOHNSON!
Jalil Muntaqim in the 2000 documentary, "Jalil Muntaqim: Voice of Liberation" by Freedom Archives on Vimeo
I call upon all those who identify themselves as progressive to recognize the U.S. prison system is an institution generally operated by white supremacists. This has been my experience in both California and New York State prison systems. In fact, on December 4th and 5th, 2016, the New York Times did a two day expose informing NYS prison system is run by white racists. However, among the many prison systems that function as a bastion of white supremacy, Lucasville, Ohio, is one of the worst in the country.
It is under these conditions that Kevin Rashid Johnson, a staunch advocate for the abolition of prisons is presently being threatened with the loss of his life. Being held in 23 hour lockdown, Rashid, is now in the worst condition of his life, locked away in a system of rabid racists that hate him for being a New Afrikan, a brilliant artist, a revolutionary and anti-capitalist imperialist. Since being transferred to Lucasville Rashid has been threatened, his personal property damaged and/or not given to him and must constantly be vigilant from being assaulted or murdered either by prison guards or their flunkies who mindlessly function as tools of white supremacy.
I am petitioning to the entire Progressive community to unite, to band together and say to the world… we will not permit Lucasville to murder Kevin Rashid Johnson. I am asking every single one of you to call the Governor of Ohio and demand Rashid be immediately transferred out of the notorious Lucasville prison. I ask that all of you contact the major Ohio newspapers and news outlets and urge them to find out why Kevin Rashid Johnson’s life is being threatened. We, collectively, need to shine a spotlight on Kevin Rashid Johnson, and let all know Rashid belongs to the people, that progressive people around the world support him and refuse to sit idle and let Rashid be murdered in Lucasville, Ohio!!!
To contact Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine: Call the governor’s office at 614-466-3555.
You will be prompted to go to his website to write out your message at:
Do that, but ALSO LEAVE A PHONE MESSAGE:
Tell the governor to transfer Kevin Johnson, A787991, out of Lucasville Prison immediately before he is murdered!
Remember: We Are Our Own Liberators
Jalil A. Muntaqim
Jalil A. Muntaqim, legendary analyst, theorist and stategist, author of We Are Our Own Liberators, veteran of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army, co-founder of the Jericho Movement, born in Oakland, raised in San Francisco, survived 49 years in prison, from 1971 to Oct. 7, 2020. Learn about his current campaign at SpiritofMandela.organd join in preparations for the International Tribunal on Oct. 22-25, when “We Charge Genocide” again.
𝘼𝙡𝙡 𝙋2𝙋 𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙨𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙙 𝙙𝙖𝙮 𝙤𝙛 𝘽𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝘼𝙪𝙜𝙪𝙨𝙩. 𝙊𝙪𝙧 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙧𝙖𝙙𝙚 𝙍𝙖𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙙 𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙣𝙚𝙚𝙙𝙨 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙖𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚. 𝙄𝙩 𝙞𝙨𝙞𝙢𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙘𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙚𝙢𝙖𝙞𝙡𝙨 𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙗𝙚 𝙢𝙖𝙙𝙚 𝙤𝙣 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙗𝙚𝙝𝙖𝙡𝙛 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙘𝙩𝙨 𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙗𝙚𝙡𝙤𝙬. 𝙎𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙤𝙣𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙘𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙢𝙚 𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙡𝙞𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙚𝙡𝙡 𝙢𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙍𝙖𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙙'𝙨 𝙘𝙚𝙡𝙡 𝙝𝙖𝙨 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙨𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙘𝙝𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙬𝙞𝙘𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙖𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮𝙗𝙚𝙡𝙞𝙚𝙫𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙝𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙢𝙪𝙣𝙞𝙘𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙨𝙞𝙙𝙚. 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙤𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙪𝙘𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙖𝙡𝙠 𝙩𝙤 𝙝𝙞𝙢 𝙤𝙧 𝙖𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙝𝙞𝙢 𝙞𝙣 𝙖𝙣𝙮 𝙬𝙖𝙮. 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙥𝙞𝙜𝙨 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙚𝙢𝙥𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙨𝙤𝙬 𝙙𝙞𝙫𝙞𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙥𝙚𝙧 𝙪𝙨𝙪𝙖𝙡. - Shupavu Wa Kirima
𝙒𝙚 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙙𝙚𝙢𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙡𝙡𝙤𝙬𝙞𝙣𝙜:
1. 𝘼𝙣 𝙚𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙗𝙤𝙜𝙪𝙨 30 𝙙𝙖𝙮 𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙥𝙝𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙚𝙢𝙖𝙞𝙡.
2. 𝘼𝙣 𝙚𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙗𝙤𝙜𝙪𝙨 30 𝙙𝙖𝙮 𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙢𝙞𝙨𝙨𝙖𝙧𝙮 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙨 𝙍𝙖𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙙 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙤𝙧𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙮 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙬𝙝𝙞𝙘𝙝 𝙩𝙤 𝙬𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙚.
3. 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙞𝙢𝙢𝙚𝙙𝙞𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙧𝙚𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙣 𝙤𝙛 𝘼𝙇𝙇 𝙤𝙛 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙮 𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙡𝙪𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙝𝙚 $400 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙤𝙣 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙩𝙧𝙪𝙨𝙩 𝙖𝙘𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙖𝙩 𝙒𝙑𝘾𝙁 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙡𝙚𝙜𝙖𝙡 𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙮 𝙬𝙝𝙞𝙘𝙝 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙚𝙣𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚 𝙝𝙞𝙢 𝙩𝙤 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙪𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙘𝙖𝙨𝙚 𝙖𝙜𝙖𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙄𝙉𝘿𝙚𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙩𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙤𝙛 𝘾𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨. 𝙄𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙩𝙚𝙡𝙡 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙮 𝙝𝙖𝙨 𝙖𝙡𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙙𝙮 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙬𝙚 𝙣𝙚𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙤𝙣 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙙𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙞𝙩 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙙 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙛𝙖𝙘𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙚𝙞𝙫𝙚𝙙 𝙞𝙩.
𝙏𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙠 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙨𝙤 𝙢𝙪𝙘𝙝 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙨𝙤𝙡𝙞𝙙𝙖𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙨𝙪𝙥𝙥𝙤𝙧𝙩. 𝙄 𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙤𝙛 𝙮𝙤𝙪. 𝙒𝙚 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙊𝙉𝙇𝙔𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙙𝙚𝙛𝙚𝙣𝙨𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙞𝙢𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙤𝙣𝙚𝙙 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙧𝙖𝙙𝙚𝙨.
* 𝘼𝙣𝙣𝙚𝙩𝙩𝙚 𝘾𝙝𝙖𝙢𝙗𝙚𝙧𝙨-𝙎𝙢𝙞𝙩𝙝, 𝘿𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙤𝙧 𝙤𝙛 𝙊𝙝𝙞𝙤 𝘿𝙚𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙩 𝙤𝙛 𝙍𝙚𝙝𝙖𝙗𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝘾𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 𝙥𝙡𝙚𝙖𝙨𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙘𝙩: 𝙈𝙚𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙨𝙖 𝘼𝙙𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙨 (𝙀𝙭𝙚𝙘𝙪𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝘼𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙩) 𝙫𝙞𝙖 𝙚𝙢𝙖𝙞𝙡: 𝙢𝙚𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙨𝙖.𝙖𝙙𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙨@𝙤𝙙𝙧𝙘.𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙚.𝙤𝙝.𝙪𝙨 𝙤 614-752-1153.
* 𝙍𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙡𝙙 𝙀𝙧𝙙𝙤𝙨, 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙣 𝙊𝙝𝙞𝙤 𝘾𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙡 𝙁𝙖𝙘𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮, 𝙒𝙖𝙧𝙙𝙚𝙣 (𝙇𝙪𝙘𝙖𝙨𝙫𝙞𝙡𝙡𝙚) (740)259-5544 𝙙𝙧𝙘.𝙨𝙤𝙘𝙛@𝙤𝙙𝙧𝙘.𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙚.𝙤𝙝𝙞𝙤.𝙪𝙨
*𝙅𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙥𝙝 𝙒𝙖𝙡𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙨, 𝘿𝙚𝙥. 𝘿𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙤𝙧 𝙑𝙞𝙧𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙖 𝘿𝙚𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙩𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙊𝙛 𝘾𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨𝙟𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙥𝙝.𝙬𝙖𝙡𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙨@𝙫𝙖𝙙𝙤𝙘.𝙫𝙞𝙧𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙖.𝙜𝙤𝙫 (𝙋𝙧𝙤𝙭𝙮 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙃𝙖𝙧𝙤𝙡𝙙 𝙒. 𝘾𝙡𝙖𝙧𝙠𝙚, 𝘿𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙤𝙧 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝘿𝙚𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙩𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙤𝙛𝘾𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨) (804)887-7982
*𝙅𝙖𝙢𝙚𝙨 𝙋𝙖𝙧𝙠, 𝙄𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝘾𝙤𝙢𝙥𝙖𝙘𝙩 𝘼𝙙𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙤𝙧 𝙅𝙖𝙢𝙚𝙨.𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙠@𝙫𝙖𝙙𝙤𝙘.𝙫𝙞𝙧𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙖.𝙜𝙤𝙫
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Our mailing address is:
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Freedom for Major Tillery! End his Life Imprisonment!
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:
Questions and comments may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
- 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 Chris Ladd, September 26, 2021https://www.politicalorphans.com/something-weird-is-happening-on-facebook/
Aw, how funny! Click, share.
This, however is a little different:
That first post generated 21 comments and 59 shares. The second one on the same hyper-twee recipe page generated 1.4 million comments and 35,000 shares. Yes, a question-post invites more engagement than a simple comment, but there’s something else at work here. We’re seeing a rash of posts like this soliciting a kind of engagement that would reveal valuable personal insights. In many cases they’re coming from pages purporting to be “blogs” which in fact are nodes in an “affiliate network.”
These affiliate networks are the new Tupperware or LuLaRoe, where housewives or hobbyists sell clicks instead of Amway. The humans in this network provide a veneer of authenticity. Network owners give them access to troves of thin content, usually recipes or vapid “lifestyle” tips, while cramming their pages to the gills with ads. Bloggers get a cut of the ad revenue, but here’s where it gets interesting. They aren’t doing a lot of selling. These social media and blog ads don’t appear to generate much revenue. Rarely are the blogs specifically selling anything on any scale. For that matter, they rarely write much either. This multi-billion dollar industry has to be getting revenue somewhere else.
It’s tough to tell where the money’s coming from because no one in this business would respond to inquiries, but there’s a likely answer. In the social media industry, data is the product. Facebook’s APIs allow me to pull some aggregate data but other methods let me scrape the profiles of people who interact with my posts. I can then collect and analyze their responses to my posts. If I have access to dozens or even hundreds of “affiliated” pages the potential reach becomes vast. Someone appears to be pouring enormous energy and effort into a data collection project aimed at building personality profiles from social media interaction…again. This has been tried before, most prominently by Cambridge Analytica back in 2016.
Cambridge Analytica was a short-lived political consulting firm famous for their role in Russian meddling in the US & British 2016 Elections. CA used data gathered in violation of Facebook’s terms of service to build complex voter profiles. They used that data to target political messages, often containing phony information, to users based on their “psychographic” profile. Cambridge helped the Trump campaign target misleading messages based on material stolen in the Russian hack of Democratic National Committee servers toward voters most likely to believe this fake news.
To build these profiles, CA promoted an online personality quiz through an app that required a Facebook login. They used that login to steal data via Facebook’s API which they tied to the respondents’ answers. Getting only 270,000 responses to their personality test, they were able to assemble profiles on a purported 87m+ social media accounts.
Facebook has shut down that particular avenue of data harvesting. There are disputes about whether CA’s voter profiles even worked. However, the dream of building psychological profiles of voters from patterns of social media engagement remains alive. Such an engine could power potent networks of political disinformation. Major companies have long had far more powerful targeting tools at their disposal, but those tools are too expensive for politicians and aren’t aimed squarely at the traits that drive political engagement. Political operatives need tools that are cheap and dirty. That brings us back to our affiliate networks.
Let’s take a look at another pair of posts, this time exactly the same meme on the same page, posted a couple of weeks apart.
Same post, with the same meme, on the same page, a couple of weeks apart produces results that differ by orders of magnitude. It could be that the second one is just newer, but based on the second post’s engagement trajectory that doesn’t seem to explain the difference. Scrolling through other memes on the page another pattern emerges. The difference appears to be the “with” accounts, other social media entities “tagged” to assist with promotion.
What are those accounts and why do they matter? It isn’t clear and there’s no definite pattern. A lot them are, for lack of a better term, squirrelly. They seem to be “promoter accounts,” generating dozens of posts of day consisting mostly of spam. Some are offshore. A few appear to be ordinary people. Why these tagged accounts deliver such huge impact is unclear, but the results are impressive. How this works is murky, but it’s clear that someone has found a way to gain absolutely stellar reach for these apparent spam posts. What they have in common is help from affiliate networks.
If you spend any time on Facebook you’ve probably noticed a blizzard of question memes coming from clickbait accounts. You’ve likely either commented on them yourself or seen comments from close friends. Many of these posts look like they’re probing for answers to security/verification questions, but the ugly reality is that your passwords are nearly worthless. Chances are your passwords are already circulating on the dark web, sold in batches of millions for as little as a few thousand dollars. Unless you hold the password to something wildly valuable, like major corporate or government assets, nobody cares except kids playing around.
By contrast, what could I learn about someone by knowing their answers to these questions?
"What was your first car?" "How old were you when you got your first job?" "First Celebrity Crush?" "What do your grandchildren call you?"
Going a little further, there’s a tranche of questions circulating that look more clearly political:
How old are you? Where do you live? What are your entertainment tastes and how far do you live from your hometown? Properly scrubbed, these answers could probably predict your ’16 and ’20 Election preferences with 90%+ accuracy. Sure, that first post won’t accurately predict your birth year, but that’s the point. Look at the comments (running into hundreds of thousands) and you’ll see people simply posting that data, plus colorful details. Thanks to advances in sentiment analysis and the declining cost of computation power, I can get remarkable insights from masses of text-based data.
What data do these posts produce? For each account that interacts with these posts, page administrators can use Facebook Insights to query aggregate information on post reach and demographics, but that’s for rookies. With a little python expertise responses on my page can be scraped directly from Facebook and stored for analysis. There are legitimate paid services that will do this, but this would likely be an in-house capability for social media affiliate networks. Janie in Memphis with her mommy blog or Steve in Phoenix with his RV musings might enjoy a little extra money each month from their social media engagement. Meanwhile the larger network with administrator access to their accounts is collecting the real gold in the form of individual user data.
Without more research, or perhaps even a subpoena, it’s impossible to nail down exactly what’s happening here, but there are some clear precedents. If these affiliate networks aren’t being used to improve on CA’s voter profiling project it would be a surprise.
Don’t take candy from strangers and don’t feed your personal information to bots. If that mommy blog is jammed with ads and promotions, leave immediately. For context, compare the layout and content on an authentic blog like Scary Mommy with the spam, ads, and brain-numbing botspeak you’ll encounter on a MediaVine blog like the A Typical Mom. The difference is easy to spot.
Watch this space. There’s a pretty good chance that the big data scandal of the 2024 Election is unfolding on your Facebook feed right now.
Ms. Everard’s killing this year inspired a national call to action in Britain to address violence against women. The court heard this week how Wayne Couzens used his police ID and handcuffs in abducting her.
By Megan Specia, Sept. 30, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/30/world/europe/sarah-everard-wayne-couzens-sentencing.html
LONDON — The police officer who abducted, raped and murdered Sarah Everard — a case that prompted a wave of criticism of the police and calls to reform the way officers handle violence against women — was sentenced on Thursday to life in prison by Britain’s top criminal court.
The sentence was announced a day after prosecutors detailed how the officer, Wayne Couzens, abused his authority and, under the guise of the coronavirus restrictions imposed during a national lockdown in March, deceived Ms. Everard into thinking that she was under arrest.
Judge Adrian Bruce Fulford, in explaining why Mr. Couzens would not be eligible for parole, said that he had “irretrievably damaged the lives of Sarah Everard’s family and friends” and “eroded the confidence that the public are entitled to have to the police force in England and Wales.”
The judge said that the “misuse of a police officer’s role” — he used his official police credentials, equipment and training to carry out the crime, according to prosecutors — justified the steepest possible sentence.
The degree of preparation and length of time over which Mr. Couzens planned his attack, as well as the brutality he demonstrated, also factored into the judgment, he said.
Judges in Britain are usually obligated to give life sentences to people convicted of murder, but those sentenced to life in prison rarely serve out the entire term behind bars.
There is, however, an exception for the most serious murder cases, when a judge passes a “whole life order,” as was the case for Mr. Couzens. In this situation, the offender must remain in prison for life without any possibility of early release.
Tom Little, a prosecutor, detailed the case against Mr. Couzens in London’s central criminal court this week, revealing new and harrowing details about the March killing of Ms. Everard, a 33-year-old whose death inspired national calls for better protections for women. Those present, including Ms. Everard’s family, heard how Mr. Couzens went “hunting for a lone young female to kidnap and rape.”
Mr. Couzens then confronted Ms. Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house and conducted “a false arrest” to get her into his car, the prosecutor said.
Mr. Couzens, who was a diplomatic protection officer with the Metropolitan Police, presented a police identity card to Ms. Everard and handcuffed her before driving her out of the city, raping her and eventually killing her and setting her body on fire, Mr. Little said.
Her remains were discovered seven days later in a wooded area in Kent, nearly 80 miles from London. Justice Fulford reflected on Ms. Everard’s likely state of mind during the journey and said what she had to endure was “as bleak and agonizing as it is possible to imagine.”
When Mr. Couzens’ defense lawyer spoke on behalf of his client on Thursday, he said his client did not dispute any of the facts outlined by the prosecution but argued against the possibility of a whole life sentence, citing his guilty plea among other factors.
The details of Mr. Couzens calculated attack and his abuse of power as a police officer have shocked rights activists and lawmakers who have pushed for an overhaul of the approach to policing violence against women.
On Wednesday, before the sentencing hearing began, the Metropolitan Police in a statement acknowledged that Mr. Couzens’ “actions raise many concerns.”
The Metropolitan Police Federation, a staff association representing London’s police, said in a statement: “Police officers in London are totally disgusted and sickened that what was a serving colleague could have committed such a heinous crime.”
After Ms. Everard’s death, the government commissioned a report from an independent watchdog group to review the police response to violence against women and girls in England and Wales. The report, released this month, called for radical changes across the whole system in approaching these cases.
Zoë Billingham, an inspector at Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, the watchdog group, told the BBC Woman’s Hour on Thursday that Mr. Couzens’ actions had “struck a hammer blow to the very heart of police legitimacy.”
“We cannot dismiss Wayne Couzens as a one-off, as a rarity, as an aberration,” she told the BBC. “We must see every single police force in England and Wales now stepping forward to tell its communities precisely what it is doing to ensure women are safe.”
By Samuel Earle, Oct. 1, 2021
Mr. Earle is a journalist who writes often about Britain’s politics and culture.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/01/opinion/britain-fuel-crisis-johnson.html
LONDON — Long lines outside gas stations. Panicked drivers fighting one another as the pumps run dry. Soldiers deployed to distribute fuel across the country. And in the background, the pandemic stretching on, food rotting in fields and families sinking into poverty. This is Britain in 2021.
Not long ago, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson lifted all pandemic restrictions in July, the mood across the country was cautiously optimistic. A successful vaccine rollout had finally restored cherished freedoms to daily life: visiting friends and family in their homes, socializing with strangers, eating in restaurants. Cases of the virus continued to multiply, but the number of hospitalizations and deaths fell markedly. The nightmare, it seemed, was over.
But any sense of normality has been banished in the past few weeks. A dramatic fuel crisis, caused in large part by a lack of truck drivers and which at its peak forced around a third of all gas stations to close, is only the most glaring concern.
A convergence of problems — a global gas shortage, rising energy and food prices, supply-chain issues and the Conservatives’ decision to slash welfare — has cast the country’s future in darkness. Even Mr. Johnson, known for his boosterish optimism and bonhomie, has struggled to make light of the situation.
The panic of the past week, which recalled old memories (and myths) about the tumultuous late 1970s, was a long time coming. For many months, industry leaders across the economy have warned about chronic labor shortages — of truck drivers, yes, but also fruit pickers, meat processors, waiters and health care workers — disrupting supply chains and impeding businesses.
The signs of breakdown are everywhere: empty shelves in supermarkets, food going to waste in fields, more and more vacancy posters tacked to the windows of shops and restaurants. Meat producers have even called on the government to let them hire prisoners to plug the gap.
One of the main causes of this predicament is Brexit, or at least the government’s handling of Brexit. Britain’s protracted departure from the bloc, undertaken without any real effort by Mr. Johnson to ensure a smooth transition, led to an exodus of European workers — a process then compounded by the pandemic. As many as 1.3 million overseas nationals left Britain between July 2019 and September 2020.
Yet as it became clear that Britain faced substantial shortages in labor, the Conservatives refused to respond. They bloviated, calling it a “manufactured situation.” They prevaricated, assuring the public there was nothing to worry about. And, seeing the chance to recast their negligence as benevolence, they claimed their failure to act was because they wanted companies to pay British workers more, instead of relying on cheap foreign labor.
This alibi for inaction is unconvincing. In the Netherlands, for example, new legislation has improved the pay and working conditions for truck drivers. In Britain, conditions remain among the worst in Europe. The government’s belated response — offering 5,000 temporary visas for drivers from E.U. nations — is too little, too late.
Instead of higher wages, the British public have so far encountered only higher prices. Inflation has risen faster than at any point since 1997 and the climbing price of gas globally is placing further strain on people’s lives, making energy more expensive than anywhere in Europe.
Whereas other governments, in Spain and Italy, have ensured that struggling families are protected from rising costs, the Conservatives have offered no such clemency. Three million households in Britain already live in “fuel poverty,” made to choose between heating and eating in the winter. After the Conservatives raise a cap on energy prices in October, that number is expected to increase by a further half million.
Mr. Johnson nonetheless claims to have given British Conservatism a kinder face. He speaks rousingly of “leveling up” and “turbocharging” left-behind communities. But the behavior of his government suggests otherwise.
On Sept. 30, it ended a program that compensated people for up to 80 percent of lost income during the pandemic. And on Oct. 6, the Conservatives will cut Universal Credit, Britain’s all-encompassing welfare program, by 20 pounds, or $27, a week — just when more people than ever rely on it. The largest single reduction to the welfare state in British history, it’s forecast to push half a million more people below the poverty line, including 200,000 children. (A newly announced winter hardship fund worth £500 million, or $673 million, will do little to soften a cut 12 times its size.)
This grim confluence, from fuel shortages to spiraling poverty, has been described by many as a “perfect storm.” Yet the metaphor erases the active role the Conservatives — and in particular, the prime minister — have played in orchestrating these foreboding conditions. The bleak winter ahead is of their making.
But Mr. Johnson is unlikely to bear the consequences of his actions. His government, resting on a large majority, remains secure. And for him, crises are always opportunities. A master shape-shifter, unburdened by any sense of accountability or honesty, he thrives in conditions of adversity. The rest of the country won’t be so lucky.
Researchers comparing information from death certificates with data from organizations that track police killings in the United States identified a startling discrepancy.
By Tim Arango and Shaila Dewan, Sept. 30, 2021
Researchers estimated that nearly 31,000 Americans were killed by the police over a four-decade period. Credit...Caroline Yang for The New York Times
Police killings in America have been undercounted by more than half over the past four decades, according to a new study that raises pointed questions about racial bias among medical examiners and highlights the lack of reliable national record keeping on what has become a major public health and civil rights issue.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington and published on Thursday in The Lancet, a major British medical journal, amounts to one of the most comprehensive looks at the scope of police violence in America, and the disproportionate impact on Black people.
Researchers compared information from a federal database known as the National Vital Statistics System, which collects death certificates, with recent data from three organizations that track police killings through news reports and public records requests. When extrapolating and modeling that data back decades, they identified a startling discrepancy: About 55 percent of fatal encounters with the police between 1980 and 2018 were listed as another cause of death.
The findings reflect both the contentious role of medical examiners and coroners in obscuring the real extent of police violence, and the lack of centralized national data on an issue that has caused enormous upheaval. Private nonprofits and journalists have filled the gap by mining news reports and social media.
“I think the big takeaway is that most people in public health tend to take vital statistics for the U.S. and other countries as the absolute truth, and it turns out, as we show, the vital statistics are missing more than half of the police violence deaths,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which conducted the study.
He continued: “You have to look for why those deaths that are being picked up by the open-source investigations, looking in the media and elsewhere, aren’t showing up in the official statistics. That does point to the system of medical examiners and the incentives that may exist for them to want to not classify a death as related to police violence.”
Researchers estimated that over the time period they studied, which roughly tracks the era of the war on drugs and the rise of mass incarceration, nearly 31,000 Americans were killed by the police, with more than 17,000 of them going unaccounted for in the official statistics. The study also documented a stark racial gap: Black Americans were 3.5 times as likely to be killed by the police as white Americans were. Data on Asian Americans was not included in the study, but Latinos and Native Americans also suffered higher rates of fatal police violence than white people.
The annual number of deaths in police custody has generally gone upward since 1980, even as crime — notwithstanding a rise in homicides last year amid the dislocations of the coronavirus pandemic — has declined from its peak in the early 1990s.
The states with the highest rates of police killings were Oklahoma, Arizona and Alaska, as well as the District of Columbia, while the states with the lowest rates were Massachusetts, Connecticut and Minnesota, according to the study.
Researchers estimated that about 20 times as many men as women were killed by the police over the past several decades; more American men died in 2019 during police encounters than from Hodgkin lymphoma or testicular cancer.
Unexplained or violent deaths in the United States are investigated by coroners or medical examiners, who use autopsies, toxicology tests and evidence like body camera footage to determine the cause and manner of death. The death certificate does not specifically ask whether the police were involved — which may contribute to the undercount identified by the study — but many medical examiners are trained to include that information.
The system has long been criticized for fostering a cozy relationship with law enforcement — forensic pathologists regularly consult with detectives and prosecutors and in some jurisdictions they are directly employed by police agencies.
Yet pathologists have also complained on occasion that law enforcement does not provide them with all relevant information, that they have been pressured to change their opinions, or that coroners, who are usually elected and are not always required to have a medical degree, can and do overrule their findings.
The researchers found that some of the misclassified deaths occurred because medical examiners failed to mention law enforcement’s involvement on the death certificate, while others were improperly coded in the national database.
While The Lancet study did not mention specific cases, there have been recent examples where the initial findings of coroners or medical examiners downplayed or omitted the role of the police when a Black man was killed: Ronald Greene’s death in Louisiana, for instance, was attributed by the coroner to cardiac arrest and classified as accidental before video emerged of him being stunned, beaten and dragged by state troopers.
In Aurora, Colo., the manner of Elijah McClain’s death was ruled undetermined after the police put him in a chokehold and paramedics injected him with ketamine, a powerful sedative. Almost two years later, three officers and two paramedics were indicted.
Even in the case of George Floyd, whose agonizing last breaths under a Minneapolis police officer’s knee were captured on bystander video, the police and the county medical examiner first pointed to drug use and underlying health conditions.
The National Association of Medical Examiners encourages the classification of deaths caused by law enforcement as homicides, in part to reduce the appearance of a cover-up (a homicide may still be deemed justified). But classification guidelines differ from office to office, and there are no national standards.
Roger Mitchell Jr., a former chief medical examiner of Washington, D.C., and an expert on investigating deaths in custody, has long said that death certificates should include a checkbox indicating whether a death occurred in custody, including arrest-related deaths as well as those in jails and prisons.
As long as medical examiners are not specifically asked to include that information, he said, he would not jump to conclusions about why they do not do so: “If it’s a function of training, a function of bias, a function of institutional and structural racism — all the things we can assume — we can identify that once we have a uniform system.”
A federal law passed in 2014 requiring law enforcement agencies to report deaths in custody has yet to produce any public data.
The paper’s top-line findings are similar to the results of a more narrow study conducted at Harvard in 2017 that examined one year — 2015 — and compared official death statistics in the United States with data on police killings compiled by The Guardian.
“It’s highlighting the persistent problem of undercounting of killings by police in official data sources, one of those being mortality data,” said Justin Feldman, a research fellow at Harvard who conducted the 2017 study and was a peer reviewer on the paper published on Thursday in The Lancet.
“This is an ongoing issue that we are still, after all these years, not doing a very good job of keeping track of people killed by police,” he added.
The study lands at a time when America has grappled with one high-profile police killing of a Black man after another. But, as the study showed, there are tens of thousands of other deaths that remain in the shadows.
Rulings on the cause and manner of death strongly influence whether criminal charges are brought or whether families receive a civil settlement. The death of Mr. Floyd was classified as a homicide and the death certificate cited law enforcement restraint, but the medical examiner still faced criticism after prosecutors made public his preliminary findings that underlying health conditions and drug use had contributed.
The former chief medical examiner of Maryland, Dr. David Fowler, was also criticized after he testified on behalf of the Minneapolis police officer, saying Mr. Floyd’s death was caused by several factors and was not a homicide.
After an open letter by Dr. Mitchell said that Dr. Fowler’s testimony revealed “obvious bias,” Maryland’s attorney general began a review of in-custody deaths that were handled under Dr. Fowler’s tenure.
Dr. Murray of the University of Washington said that one of the starkest findings was that racial disparities in police shootings have widened since 2000.
The trend contrasts, he said, with other health outcomes, such as heart disease, in which the racial gap has narrowed in recent years.
The study, he and other researchers said, points to the need for a centralized clearinghouse for data on police violence, as well as more scrutiny of coroners and medical examiners.
“There’s been an attempt to limit the reality of what is,” said Edwin G. Lindo, a scholar of critical race theory and professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, who examined the findings of the study but was not involved in putting it together. “And what I would suggest is, when we don’t have good data we can’t actually make good policy decisions, and I don’t know if that’s an accident for it to be so greatly underreported.”
The recent surge at the Mexican border is likely to grow as more migrants, mostly Haitian, risk everything negotiating the notorious Darién Gap on their way to the United States.
By Julie Turkewitz, Natalie Kitroeff and Sofía Villamil Photographs and Video by Federico Rios, Oct. 2, 2021
NECOCLÍ, Colombia — For decades, the Darién Gap, a roadless, lawless stretch of jungle linking South America to the north, was considered so dangerous that only a few thousand people a year were daring, or desperate, enough to try to cross it.
But the economic devastation wrought by the pandemic in South America was such that in the first nine months of this year, Panamanian officials say, an estimated 95,000 migrants, most of whom are Haitian, attempted the passage on their way to the United States.
They made the journey in shorts and flip-flops, their possessions stuffed in plastic bags, their babies in arms and their children by the hand. It’s uncertain how many made it — and how many didn’t. And yet tens of thousands more are gathered in Colombia, eager for their turn to try.
The migrants’ willingness to try to breach the notoriously dangerous land bridge connecting Colombia and Panama — long a deterrent to walking north — presents not only a looming humanitarian disaster among those making the trek, experts said, but also a potential immigration challenge for President Biden in the months to come.
The thousands of Haitians who crossed the border into Texas last month, jolting the town of Del Rio and thrusting the Biden administration into a crisis, were just the leading edge of a much larger movement of migrants heading for the jungle and then the United States. People who had fled their troubled Caribbean nation for places as far south as Chile and Brazil began moving north months ago, hoping they would be welcomed by President Biden.
“We very well could be on the precipice of a historic displacement of people in the Americas toward the United States,” said Dan Restrepo, the former national security adviser for Latin America under President Barack Obama. “When one of the most impenetrable stretches of jungle in the world is no longer stopping people, it underscores that political borders, however enforced, won’t either.”
The Darién, also known as the Isthmus of Panama, is a narrow swath of land dividing the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Parts are so inaccessible that when engineers built the Pan-American Highway in the 1930s, linking Alaska to Argentina, only one section was left unfinished. That piece — 66 roadless miles of turbulent rivers, rugged mountains and venomous snakes — became known as the Darién Gap. Today, the journey through the gap is made more perilous by a criminal group and human traffickers who control the region, often extorting and sometimes sexually assaulting migrants.
Now, Necoclí, a small Colombian tourist town just at the mouth of the passage, has become a staging ground for migrants hoping to cross. Thousands of families bide their time in hostels, or in tents along the beach. Hungry and running out of money, all are waiting for their turn to be ferried by boat to the edge of the forest.
“I’m afraid,” said Ruth Alix, 30, who was traveling with her husband, their daughter, Farline, 3, and their son, Vladensky, 6 months.
The number of migrants who have made the journey so far this year is more than triple the previous annual record set in 2016. At one time, Cubans made up the majority of migrants walking through the gap. Now, nearly all of the migrants are Haitians who settled in South America during better economic times, but who were among the first to lose jobs and homes when the pandemic hit.
As many as 1,000 migrants cross into Panama through Darién every day, said Panama’s foreign minister, Erika Mouynes, an influx that has pushed border infrastructure to the brink. Her government has tried to provide food and medical care to those who survive the jungle passage, she said, but officials cannot keep up with demand.
“We’ve surpassed completely our capacity to support them,” she said, adding that she was “raising the alarm” about the need for a regional response to the crisis.
“There are many more still coming,” she said. “Please listen to us.”
Each group that leaves is quickly replaced by another 1,000 or more migrants, creating a bottleneck that has transformed Necoclí. Sewers overflow in the street. Water has stopped flowing from some taps. Markets now sell kits made for crossing the Darién; they include boots, knives and baby slings.
They know the journey ahead is dangerous, they said. They had heard the stories of drownings and fatal falls.
At least 50 bodies have been found in the Darién this year alone, though estimates of the true number of dead are at least four times as high, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Sexual assault is also a risk: Doctors Without Borders has documented 245 cases in the Darién in the past five months, though the group believes the real number is far higher.
Ms. Alix, the mother of Farline and Vladensky, said that her family had fled Haiti for French Guiana, on the northern coast of South America, but found only poverty. Returning to Haiti was not an option, she said. The country is in tatters after a presidential assassination and an earthquake, its economy faltering and its streets haunted by gangs.
The only choice, Ms. Alix said, was the road north.
“We take this risk because we have children,” said Vladimy Damier, 29, Ms. Alix’s husband.
Many knew that the Biden administration had been deporting back to Haiti those who’d managed to make it into the United States — but they were still willing to try.
Henderson Eclesias, 42, also from Haiti, had been living in Brazil with his wife and 3-year-old daughter when the pandemic hit. In May, he lost his job, he said. By August, he and his family were on their way to the United States.
“I hope they change the way they are acting,” he said of the Americans. “Our lives depend on that.”
In recent years, a growing number of migrants had begun to brave the corridor, a journey that can take a week or more on foot. But after the pandemic, which hit South America particularly hard, that surge has become a flood of desperate families. At least one in five of those who crossed this year were children, Panamanian officials said.
As the number of migrants arriving at the U.S. border grew, the Biden administration retreated from a more open approach to migration embraced in the president’s first days in office to a tougher stance with a singular goal: deterring people from even attempting to enter the United States.
“If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned,” the secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, said in September. “Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s lives.”
But the warning is unlikely to turn back the tens of thousands of Haitians who are already on the road.
On a recent day, there were about 20,000 migrants in Necoclí, in Colombia. And there are up to 30,000 Haitian migrants already in Mexico, according to a senior official in the Mexican foreign ministry who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“They’ve already started the journey, they’ve already started to think about the U.S.,” said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute. “It’s not that easy to turn that off.”
On a recent morning, Ms. Alix and Mr. Damier woke their children before dawn in the small home they’d been sharing with a dozen other migrants. Their turn had come to board the boat that would take them to the edge of the jungle.
In the darkness, Ms. Alix threw her backpack over her shoulders and strapped Vladensky to her chest. In one hand she carried a pot of spaghetti, meant to sustain them while it lasted. Her other hand reached out to her toddler, Farline.
On the beach the family joined a crowd of others. A dockworker handed a large life vest to Ms. Alix. She draped it over Farline’s small body and climbed into the boat. Aboard: 47 adults, 13 children, seven infants, all migrants.
“Goodbye!” yelled a man from the boat company. “Have a good trip!”
Government officials are largely absent from the Darién. The area is controlled by a criminal group known as the Clan del Golfo, whose members view migrants much as they view drugs: goods they can tax and control.
Once the migrants step off the boats, they are met by smugglers — typically poor men in the area who offer to take them into the jungle, starting at $250 a person. For an extra $10 they will carry a backpack. For another $30, a child.
Farline and her family spent the night in a tent at the edge of the jungle. In the morning, they set out before sunrise, alongside hundreds of others.
“I carry bags,” smugglers shouted. “I carry children!”
Soon, a vast plain became a towering forest. Farline clambered between trees, following her parents. Vladensky slept on his mother’s chest. Other children cried, the first to show signs of exhaustion.
As the group crossed river after river, tired adults began to abandon their bags. They clambered up and then down a steep, muddy slope, only to stare up at the next one. Faces that were hopeful, even excited, that morning went slack with exhaustion.
A woman in a leopard-print dress fainted. A crowd formed. A man gave her water. Then they all rose, picked up their bags and began to walk.
Today, after all, was just day one in the Darién, and they had a long journey ahead.
By Israel Meléndez Ayala and Alicia Kennedy Photographs by Damon Winter, October 2, 2021
Mr. Meléndez Ayala is an anthropologist and historian. Ms. Kennedy is a food writer working on a book about ethical eating. Mr. Winter is a staff photographer on assignment in Opinion.
Watermelon shipped from the U.S. mainland for sale at a supermarket in San Juan.
SAN JUAN, P.R. — In 1953, the Visitors Bureau of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico released a promotional film to entice visitors called “Fiesta Island.” The island and its people are presented as exotic oddities, reflecting the colonialist attitudes of the era, and one gets the impression that Puerto Ricans desire nothing more than to serve American tourists.
But what is most striking is how prominently the local agriculture is featured. We are treated to images of sugar cane being chopped down to be turned into molasses for rum, fields of pineapples being harvested, bananas growing in the Yunque rainforest.
Yet today, even with a tropical climate that allows farmers to grow food year-round, Puerto Rico imports over 80 percent of its food.
You can sometimes find local produce, eggs, cheese and meat at the small farmers markets that have begun to pop up; grocery stores also carry a smattering of locally grown items like cilantro, recao, ají dulce and eggplant. But these aren’t the building blocks of a well-rounded diet. They’re not even all the ingredients in sofrito, the base for many Puerto Rican dishes.
“Today we have an economic model of consumption,” said Eliezer Molina, a Maricao-based farmer who ran for governor in the last election. “The United States doesn’t want to encourage the growth of production in Puerto Rico, because what we consume is from their producers, and that gives their companies protection.”
For example, local egg producers have been snuffed out by the “dumping” of lower-priced, lower-quality eggs from off the island, securing the dominance of mainland producers in supermarkets. “Local companies are then driven to bankruptcy, and then there’s no competition,” Mr. Molina said, which means “the American companies raise their prices.”
It wasn’t always like this. In 1940, agriculture was the cornerstone of Puerto Rico’s economy, employing nearly 45 percent of the work force. But by 2019, it represented less than 1 percent of the commonwealth’s G.D.P. and employed less than 2 percent. Natural disasters, economic crises and mismanagement have contributed to the island’s transformation from agricultural powerhouse to one that relies on imports. But it has been U.S. policies like the 1920 Jones Act and Operation Bootstrap that have strangled local agriculture.
The Jones Act, a protectionist law that governs coastal trade, requires that maritime transport of cargo between points in the mainland and territories like Puerto Rico be carried by vessels that are U.S.-owned, crewed, registered and built. American freight rates are often higher than those charged by foreign carriers for shipments of similar products and distances. According to a 2012 report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, shipping a container from the East Coast to Puerto Rico costs an estimated $3,063. The same shipment to Kingston, Jamaica, costs only $1,607.
“The Jones Act is still a straitjacket on Puerto Rico because it subsidizes the marine shipping companies of the United States,” said Fernando Lloveras San Miguel, president of Para La Naturaleza, a nonprofit that works on reforestation.
Puerto Rico’s dependence on imports is a boon for shipping companies whose vessels, in a brutal irony, carry names of local symbols like Taíno, after the Indigenous people of the Caribbean, or Coquí, for the island frog with a singsong croak. The enforced use of indirect importation for things like fertilizer and farming equipment in turn drives up local farmers’ costs.
But Puerto Ricans can’t afford to pay a premium to support local producers. The territory has been in an economic recession since 2006. Over the years, the government accumulated over $70 billion in debt, which is equivalent to roughly 100 percent of its G.D.P. By June 2015, the governor at the time, Alejandro García Padilla, called the debt “unpayable.”
As a result of the overwhelming debt, Congress passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, which created a Federal Oversight and Management Board whose seven members are appointed by the president and typically don’t come from the island; Puerto Ricans disparagingly call it the “junta” for short. In 2017, the board imposed an austerity program that cut deeply into the public service budget, health care, pensions and education, setting aside the interests of the people to pay off creditors.
A series of natural disasters compounded problems here. That same year, Hurricane María pummeled the island, killing some 4,600 people and causing an estimated $95 billion in damage. Earthquakes in early 2020 left many homeless, and the pandemic paralyzed the economy for months.
The economic consequences have been staggering. Hundreds of thousands of islanders have moved to the mainland. Puerto Rico has the highest unemployment rate in the United States; 40 percent of the population is experiencing food insecurity. The minimum wage of $7.25 an hour will increase to $8.50 starting in January, but that is unlikely to move the needle on a poverty rate that has hovered at nearly 44 percent since 2019.
Scrapping or changing the Jones Act could help turn the tide, but President Biden has reiterated his support for it. Proponents of the act include the U.S. shipping industry and those who owe their livelihoods to it, whether as shipbuilders or merchant mariners.
Puerto Rico’s economy has long been exploited to satisfy the needs of its colonizers. Coffee was introduced during Spanish rule, and consequently Puerto Rico became one of the largest coffee producers in the world.
When it became a U.S. territory in the late 1800s, the focus shifted from coffee to sugar cane. But the industry was crippled by U.S. policies that prevented producers from getting bigger and more efficient. Today the 40 or so sugar mills from Aguada in the west to Vieques in the east that once exported over 60 tons annually have been abandoned, left to rust.
Tobacco and textiles were also big businesses until Operation Bootstrap policies championed by Washington solidified Puerto Rico’s shift from agriculture to industrialization starting in the 1950s. One Operation Bootstrap initiative granted mainland manufacturers an exemption on an array of taxes to encourage them to set up shop on the island. The demand for factory employees sapped farm work forces, meaning that less and less food was grown domestically. Now, low-wage workers relying on food stamps go to the supermarkets to purchase shipped-in food, continuing a cycle of money leaving the island.
And yet despite decades of policies that have discouraged farming, some younger Puerto Ricans see an opportunity to reverse the historical trend. They are working to revive the agricultural industry, often using agroecological methods that foster biodiversity and use little to no herbicides.
“In the ’90s, when I was a kid, everyone thought that whatever comes from the outside world was better than what was from here,” says Crystal Diaz, owner of El Pretexto, a culinary farm lodge in Cayey, and co-founder of PRoduce, an app that sells locally produced food. “I have seen the change over the last 10 years.”
That change needs help to become permanent, though. “Organic agriculture could be an action to detach from” the use of imported fertilizers and pesticides. “Compost and other organic techniques take time, teaching and support,” said Salvador Coleman-Davis, agroecology coordinator of Para La Naturaleza. “With the lack of support from the government, it is not easy.”
For Gabriel Hernández, the chef at the Old San Juan restaurant Verde Mesa, the growing number of small farmers has been a boon. Though he’s had to develop his network of farmers from scratch, the quality and shelf life of local produce surpass what comes from off-island, which might languish on a ship for weeks.
“When I started cooking, it was very obvious to me that the more close to the source of produce, the better it is, the more flavor, more brightness, more fresh,” Mr. Hernández said. “All that translates to the plate.”
Agroecological farming is a labor of love for the land, one that is in line with building a climate-resilient future, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. But it’s also labor intensive, and many small farms can afford to do this work only part time. These few local producers just cannot compete with cheaper products from the mainland.
Local agricultural policy should support small farmers in the territory and encourage agroecological practices. Increased wages and jobs aren’t just good for the economy — it can ensure that Puerto Ricans have access to food that hasn’t spent weeks on a ship. There are farmers markets like the government-run Mercado Familiares in towns around Puerto Rico, but they take place only once every few months. Markets like ones that run weekly in Old San Juan or Rincón run by artisans and small growers aren’t as accessible to those outside these affluent areas.
Bolstering these markets, ensuring they are affordable and accessible throughout Puerto Rico, would help get local produce into more kitchens. Getting rid of the Jones Act’s shipping laws and allowing Puerto Rico to import and export products using cheaper shippers would remove shackles that have prevented the local economy from evolving into a self-sustaining model in which local products can realistically compete with imports. It would mean a step toward sovereignty.
Hundreds of students, parents and residents in York County, Pa., protested limits on books told from the perspective of gay, Black and Latino children.
By Isabella Grullón Paz and Maria Cramer, Oct. 2, 2021
Students, parents and educators gathered on Sept. 20 outside the Educational Service Center for the Central York School District to protest the district's banned resources list. Credit...Dan Rainville/ York Daily Record, via USA Today Network
Edha Gupta and Christina Ellis, two high school seniors in York County, Pa., were furious when they read last month in a local paper that their teachers had been effectively banned from using hundreds of books, documentary films and articles in their classrooms.
The list, which was created in 2020 by a diversity committee in the Central York School District, was meant to serve as a resource guide for students and teachers as they grappled with the racial and social turmoil that followed the murder of George Floyd. It included a documentary film about James Baldwin and a statement on racism by the state’s association of school administrators.
It also included children’s books like a “A Boy Called Bat,” about a third grader with autism, “I Am Rosa Parks,” and “Cece Loves Science,” about a curious girl who loves experiments.
But what began as an effort to raise awareness somehow ended with all of the materials on the list being banned from classrooms by the district’s school board in a little-noticed vote last November. Some parents in the district, which draws about 5,000 students from suburban townships surrounding the more diverse city of York, had objected to materials that they feared could be used to make white children feel guilty about their race or “indoctrinate” students.
The debate came to a head with the return to in-person classes at the start of the current school year. The Sept. 1 article in The York Dispatch quoted teachers who were aghast at an email from the high school’s principal listing the forbidden materials.
“In 19 years of teaching, it was the first time one Central York High School educator had ever received an email like it: a list of banned books, movies and other teaching materials,” the story began.
“I was ready to go to battle,” said Ms. Ellis, 17. “I read the first sentence and that was enough.”
That same week, she and Ms. Gupta, 17, recruited other students to wear black T-shirts to school in protest. Over the weekend, they created signs that read “Diversity is our strength” and “Our story matters. My voice matters.” They handed the signs out to their classmates, who began protesting every day at 7:15 a.m. before school.
Soon, the students were writing letters to the editor and reading excerpts from the banned books on Instagram. The controversy dominated the headlines in The Dispatch and its rival paper, The York Daily Record, and soon drew national media attention. Bernice King, the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., posted a message on Instagram supporting the students, and some of the authors whose books were on the list voiced support.
In solidarity with the students, one local woman created a free library outside her house featuring many of the books.
“Every day it seemed to get bigger and bigger,” Ms. Ellis said.
The committee that drew up the list in August 2020 was composed of faculty members, students, residents and board members reacting to the many protests that occurred following Mr. Floyd’s murder. When the board voted to keep the materials out of classrooms, it got little attention in York, a county with nearly half a million people about 100 miles west of Philadelphia.
The county has 16 different school districts covering rural and suburban areas, as well as the city of York, where a little over half the population is Black or Hispanic, and where memories of race riots 50 years ago still linger.
At the time of the vote, public attention was mostly focused on the pandemic and the presidential election, according to the students.
But Patricia A. Jackson, an English and creative writing teacher at the high school, said instructors “lived in fear” of being disciplined.
“I had children writing stories about queer love and trans love, and I was worried about the backlash about that,” she said.
Ms. Gupta said she was not even aware of the vote.
At the time, she and other students, who had formed the Panther Anti-Racist Union, were trying to convince the board to adopt a social studies curriculum that included an African-American studies class. The group was named for the school mascot.
Other residents around the town said they were stunned when they saw the list of banned resources.
“It takes your breath away,” said Hannah Shipley, 27, a nanny in York, Pa. “People are afraid of these books?”
On Sept. 13, the school board met again to discuss the list. About 100 people protested outside. Dozens of people spoke during the public hearing, and many of them criticized the board.
Some parents agreed that the board should vet some of the books, which they believed criticized the police or focused too heavily on ideas like white privilege.
“I’m sure there might be some books that are on there that probably don’t need to be,” Matt Weyant, a parent, said at the meeting. “But at the same time, I don’t want my daughter growing up feeling guilty because she’s white.”
Once again, the board voted to keep the materials from being used in class.
“We will not teach a curriculum that creates division and hate,” said Veronica Gemma, a school board member.
The students continued their morning protests. Ms. Shipley said she posted a video of herself on TikTok reading some of the books and tagged the authors, who began encouraging their followers on social media to buy the books and send them to York. A petition circulated.
Less than three weeks after the students began their campaign, the board met again, on Sept. 20, and temporarily lifted the freeze. The board said that its November 2020 vote was not intended to be a ban, but rather an effort to give a curriculum committee time to review the materials.
The board noted that none of the listed books had been removed from school libraries and that teachers who had already been using the materials were not affected.
Jane Johnson, the president of the school board, read aloud from a statement that said that while the board recognized the importance of diversity, it was concerned about materials that “may lean more toward indoctrination rather than age-appropriate academic content.”
Ms. Johnson acknowledged that the committee review had taken too long.
“To that end, we recognize the intensity of opinions on all sides of these issues, and we are committed to making this long delay right,” she said. She and the board declined to be interviewed.
Tim Strickler, a board member, defended residents who had raised concerns but said he was voting to reverse the freeze because it was not “helpful” to keep the entire list of resources out of classrooms.
“What these parents oppose is the use of diversity training as a tool of activism or political indoctrination,” he said, “which appears to be the aim of some of the resources, a minority of the resources.”
Ben Hodge, a teacher who is a faculty adviser to the Panther Anti-Racist Union, said that kind of rhetoric undermined the autonomy of teachers to train students to think critically about what they are reading.
“Censorship is a slippery slope,” he said.
Olivia Pituch, a high school senior and a secretary of the union, said the group will monitor the board’s future decisions on the list.
“We know that they did not temporarily reverse out of the goodness of their hearts,” she said.
Susan Beachy contributed research.