Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, June 29, 2022


“You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom." 

—Malcolm X


Legal Filing in Mumia’s Case

By Johanna Fernández

[The following statement was issued January 4, 2022, regarding new legal filings by attorneys for Mumia Abu-Jamal.]


Campaign to Bring Mumia Home


In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”


With continued pressure from below, 2022 will be the year that forces the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Philly Police Department to answer questions about why they framed imprisoned radio journalist and veteran Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal’s attorneys have filed a Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition focused entirely on the six boxes of case files that were found in a storage room of the DA’s office in late December 2018, after the case being heard before Judge Leon Tucker in the Court of Common Pleas concluded. (tinyurl.com/zkyva464)


The new evidence contained in the boxes is damning, and we need to expose it. It reveals a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority by the prosecution, including bribery of the state’s two key witnesses, as well as racist exclusion in jury selection—a violation of the landmark Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentucky. The remedy for each or any of the claims in the petition is a new trial. The court may order a hearing on factual issues raised in the claims. If so, we won’t know for at least a month. 


The new evidence includes a handwritten letter penned by Robert Chobert, the prosecution’s star witness. In it, Chobert demands to be paid money promised him by then-Prosecutor Joseph McGill. Other evidence includes notes written by McGill, prominently tracking the race of potential jurors for the purposes of excluding Black people from the jury, and letters and memoranda which reveal that the DA’s office sought to monitor, direct, and intervene in the outstanding prostitution charges against its other key witness Cynthia White.


Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed and convicted 40 years ago in 1982, during one of the most corrupt and racist periods in Philadelphia’s history—the era of cop-turned-mayor Frank Rizzo. It was a moment when the city’s police department, which worked intimately with the DA’s office, routinely engaged in homicidal violence against Black and Latinx detainees, corruption, bribery and tampering with evidence to obtain convictions. 


In 1979, under pressure from civil rights activists, the Department of Justice filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the Philadelphia police department and detailed a culture of racist violence, widespread corruption and intimidation that targeted outspoken people like Mumia. Despite concurrent investigations by the FBI and Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and dozens of police convictions, the power and influence of the country’s largest police association, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) prevailed. 

Now, more than 40 years later, we’re still living with the failure to uproot these abuses. Philadelphia continues to fear the powerful FOP, even though it endorses cruelty, racism, and multiple injustices. A culture of fear permeates the “city of brotherly love.”


The contents of these boxes shine light on decades of white supremacy and rampant lawlessness in U.S. courts and prisons. They also hold enormous promise for Mumia’s freedom and challenge us to choose Love, Not PHEAR. (lovenotphear.com/) Stay tuned.


Pa. Supreme Court denies widow’s appeal to remove Philly DA from Abu-Jamal case


Abu Jamal was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder of Faulkner in 1982. Over the past four decades, five of his appeals have been quashed.


In 1989, the state’s highest court affirmed Abu-Jamal’s death penalty conviction, and in 2012, he was re-sentenced to life in prison.


Abu-Jamal, 66, remains in prison. He can appeal to the state Supreme Court, or he can file a new appeal.


KYW Newsradio reached out to Abu-Jamal’s attorneys for comment. They shared this statement in full:


“Today, the Superior Court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to consider issues raised by Mr. Abu-Jamal in prior appeals. Two years ago, the Court of Common Pleas ordered reconsideration of these appeals finding evidence of an appearance of judicial bias when the appeals were first decided. We are disappointed in the Superior Court’s decision and are considering our next steps.


“While this case was pending in the Superior Court, the Commonwealth revealed, for the first time, previously undisclosed evidence related to Mr. Abu-Jamal’s case. That evidence includes a letter indicating that the Commonwealth promised its principal witness against Mr. Abu-Jamal money in connection with his testimony. In today’s decision, the Superior Court made clear that it was not adjudicating the issues raised by this new evidence. This new evidence is critical to any fair determination of the issues raised in this case, and we look forward to presenting it in court.”




Demand Mumia's Freedom:


Governor Tom Wolf -1(717) 787-2500  Fax 1 (717) 772-8284

Office of the Governor

508 Main Capitol Building

Harrisburg, PA  17120    


After calling the governor, send an online communication about our concerns.  https://www.governor.pa.gov/contact/#PhoneNumber




For Immediate Release                                                           


Press Contact: Herb Mintz (415) 759-9679


LaborFest 2022 presents


1934 San Francisco General Strike


Walk and Presentation by Gifford Hartman


Sunday, July 3rd at 12 noon PDT


LaborFest 2022 continues its 29th annual festival with a labor history walk and presentation by Gifford Hartmann that highlights the remarkable history of the San Francisco General Strike of 1934.


Participants will meet at the Harry Bridges Plaza Tower to the south, Embarcadero at Market in San Francisco. 


No registration is necessary.  Admission is free. 


Eighty-eight years ago, a great battle took place between striking workers and the police and National Guard along the waterfront alongside the piers of San Francisco’s Embarcadero. We will look at the causes of the 1934 General Strike, why it was successful, and how the issues from that strike are still relevant to working class people today. The current movement against police murder of black and brown people can draw lessons from the way strikers invited black workers into their ranks to prevent racist exclusion from breaking their strike. We explain how an 83-day West Coast Waterfront Strike exploded into the 4-day General Strike that paralyzed all commerce in San Francisco. This tour will visit the sites of those events.


 This two-hour free event is a walk around downtown San Francisco on Sunday, July 3rd, beginning at 12 noon PDT.  Please dress appropriately.


For more information: https://laborfest.net/event/1934-san-francisco-general-strike-walk-presentation-by-gifford-hartman/


Events are subject to change or cancellation due to COVID-19 related issues.  Check our website at https://laborfest.net/ prior to each event or for a calendar of all events.


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


Find LaborFest on Facebook here: 








Fuck You

With Olivia Rodrigo and Lily Allen

[Verse 1: Lily Allen]

Look inside, look inside your tiny mind

Then look a bit harder

'Cause we're so uninspired, so sick and tired

Of all the hatred you harbour

So you say it's not okay to be gay

Well, I think you're just evil

You're just some racist who can't tie my laces

Your point of view is medieval


[Chorus: Lily Allen]

Fuck you, fuck you very, very much

'Cause we hate what you do

And we hate your whole crew

So please, don't stay in touch

Fuck you, fuck you very, very much

'Cause your words don't translate

And it's getting quite late

So please, don't stay in touch

[Verse 2: Olivia Rodrigo, Lily Allen & Olivia Rodrigo]

Do you get, do you get a little kick out of being small minded?

You want to be like your father, it's approval you're after

Well, that's not how you find it

Do you, do you really enjoy living a life that's so hateful?

'Cause there's a hole where your soul should be

You're losing control of it

And it's really distasteful


[Chorus: Olivia Rodrigo, Lily Allen & Olivia Rodrigo]

Fuck you, fuck you very, very much

'Cause we hate what you do

And we hate your whole crew

So please, don't stay in touch

Fuck you, fuck you very, very much

'Cause your words don't translate

And it's getting quite late

So please, don't stay in touch


[Bridge: Crowd]

Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you

Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you

Fuck you


[Verse 3: Lily Allen]

You say you think we need to go to war

Well, you're already in one

'Cause it's people like you that need to get slew

No one wants your opinion



Doctors for Assange Statement


Doctors to UK: Assange Extradition

‘Medically & Ethically’ Wrong 



Ahead of the U.K. Home Secretary’s decision on whether to extradite Julian Assange to the United States, a group of more than 300 doctors representing 35 countries have told Priti Patel that approving his extradition would be “medically and ethically unacceptable”.


In an open letter sent to the Home Secretary on Friday June 10, and copied to British Prime Minster Boris Johnson, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland, the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, the doctors draw attention to the fact that Assange suffered a “mini stroke” in October 2021. They note:


“Predictably, Mr Assange’s health has since continued to deteriorate in your custody. In October 2021 Mr. Assange suffered a ‘mini-stroke’… This dramatic deterioration of Mr Assange’s health has not yet been considered in his extradition proceedings. The US assurances accepted by the High Court, therefore, which would form the basis of any extradition approval, are founded upon outdated medical information, rendering them obsolete.”


The doctors charge that any extradition under these circumstances would constitute negligence. They write:


“Under conditions in which the UK legal system has failed to take Mr Assange’s current health status into account, no valid decision regarding his extradition may be made, by yourself or anyone else. Should he come to harm in the US under these circumstances it is you, Home Secretary, who will be left holding the responsibility for that negligent outcome.”


In their letter the group reminds the Home Secretary that they first wrote to her on Friday 22 November 2019, expressing their serious concerns about Julian Assange’s deteriorating health.


Those concerns were subsequently borne out by the testimony of expert witnesses in court during Assange’s extradition proceedings, which led to the denial of his extradition by the original judge on health grounds. That decision was later overturned by a higher court, which referred the decision to Priti Patel in light of US assurances that Julian Assange would not be treated inhumanely.


The doctors write:


“The subsequent ‘assurances’ of the United States government, that Mr Assange would not be treated inhumanly, are worthless given their record of pursuit, persecution and plotted murder of Mr Assange in retaliation for his public interest journalism.”


They conclude:


“Home Secretary, in making your decision as to extradition, do not make yourself, your government, and your country complicit in the slow-motion execution of this award-winning journalist, arguably the foremost publisher of our time. Do not extradite Julian Assange; free him.”


Julian Assange remains in High Security Belmarsh Prison awaiting Priti Patel’s decision, which is due any day.




Sign the petition:


If extradited to the United States, Julian Assange, father of two young British children, would face a sentence of 175 years in prison merely for receiving and publishing truthful information that revealed US war crimes.

UK District Judge Vanessa Baraitser has ruled that "it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America".

Amnesty International states, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”

Human Rights Watch says, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”

The NUJ has stated that the “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.

Julian will not survive extradition to the United States.

The UK is required under its international obligations to stop the extradition. Article 4 of the US-UK extradition treaty says: "Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense." 

The decision to either Free Assange or send him to his death is now squarely in the political domain. The UK must not send Julian to the country that conspired to murder him in London.

The United Kingdom can stop the extradition at any time. It must comply with Article 4 of the US-UK Extradition Treaty and Free Julian Assange.



Dear friends, 

Recently I’ve started working with the Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee. On March 17, Ruchell turned 83. He’s been imprisoned for 59 years, and now walks with a walker. He is no threat to society if released. Ruchell was in the Marin County Courthouse on August 7, 1970, the morning Jonathan Jackson took it over in an effort to free his older brother, the internationally known revolutionary prison writer, George Jackson. Ruchell joined Jonathan and was the only survivor of the shooting that ensued. He has been locked up ever since and denied parole 13 times. On March 19, the Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee held a webinar for Ruchell for his 83rd birthday, which was a terrific event full of information and plans for building the campaign to Free Ruchell. (For information about his case, please visit: www.freeruchellmagee.org.)

Below are two ways to stream this historic webinar, plus 

• a petition you can sign

• a portal to send a letter to Governor Newsom

• a Donate button to support his campaign

• a link to our campaign website. 

Please take a moment and help. 

Note: We will soon have t-shirts to sell to raise money for legal expenses.

Here is the YouTube link to view the March 19 Webinar: 


Here is the Facebook link:


Sign the petition to Free Ruchell:


Write to Governor Newsom’s office:




Ruchell’s Website: 



Charlie Hinton


No one ever hurt their eyes by looking on the bright side



Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale


U.S. Air Force veteran, Daniel Everette Hale has recently completed his first year of a 45-month prison sentence for exposing the realities of U.S drone warfare. Daniel Hale is not a spy, a threat to society, or a bad faith actor. His revelations were not a threat to national security. If they were, the prosecution would be able to identify the harm caused directly from the information Hale made public. Our members of Congress can urge President Biden to commute Daniel's sentence! Either way, Daniel deserves to be free.





Laws are created to be followed

by the poor.

Laws are made by the rich

to bring some order to exploitation.

The poor are the only law abiders in history.

When the poor make laws

the rich will be no more.


—Roque Dalton Presente!

(May 14, 1935 – Assassinated May 10, 1975)[1]

[1] Roque Dalton was a Salvadoran poet, essayist, journalist, political activist, and intellectual. He is considered one of Latin America's most compelling poets.







Screenshot of Kevin Cooper's artwork from the teaser.


 “In His Defense” The People vs. Kevin Cooper

A film by Kenneth A. Carlson 

Teaser is now streaming at:



Posted by: Death Penalty Focus Blog, January 10, 2022



“In his Defense,” a documentary on the Kevin Cooper case, is in the works right now, and California filmmaker Kenneth Carlson has released a teaser for it on CarlsonFilms.com


Just over seven months ago, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered an independent investigation of Cooper’s death penalty case. At the time, he explained that, “In cases where the government seeks to impose the ultimate punishment of death, I need to be satisfied that all relevant evidence is carefully and fairly examined.”


That investigation is ongoing, with no word from any of the parties involved on its progress.


Cooper has been on death row since 1985 for the murder of four people in San Bernardino County in June 1983. Prosecutors said Cooper, who had escaped from a minimum-security prison and had been hiding out near the scene of the murder, killed Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, and 10-year-old Chris Hughes, a friend who was spending the night at the Ryen’s. The lone survivor of the attack, eight-year-old Josh Ryen, was severely injured but survived.


For over 36 years, Cooper has insisted he is innocent, and there are serious questions about evidence that was missing, tampered with, destroyed, possibly planted, or hidden from the defense. There were multiple murder weapons, raising questions about how one man could use all of them, killing four people and seriously wounding one, in the amount of time the coroner estimated the murders took place.


The teaser alone gives a good overview of the case, and helps explain why so many believe Cooper was wrongfully convicted.



New Legal Filing in Mumia’s Case

By Johanna Fernández

The following statement was issued January 4, 2022, regarding new legal filings by attorneys for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Campaign to Bring Mumia Home

In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”

With continued pressure from below, 2022 will be the year that forces the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Philly Police Department to answer questions about why they framed imprisoned radio journalist and veteran Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal’s attorneys have filed a Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition focused entirely on the six boxes of case files that were found in a storage room of the DA’s office in late December 2018, after the case being heard before Judge Leon Tucker in the Court of Common Pleas concluded. (tinyurl.com/zkyva464)

The new evidence contained in the boxes is damning, and we need to expose it. It reveals a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority by the prosecution, including bribery of the state’s two key witnesses, as well as racist exclusion in jury selection—a violation of the landmark Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentucky. The remedy for each or any of the claims in the petition is a new trial. The court may order a hearing on factual issues raised in the claims. If so, we won’t know for at least a month. 

The new evidence includes a handwritten letter penned by Robert Chobert, the prosecution’s star witness. In it, Chobert demands to be paid money promised him by then-Prosecutor Joseph McGill. Other evidence includes notes written by McGill, prominently tracking the race of potential jurors for the purposes of excluding Black people from the jury, and letters and memoranda which reveal that the DA’s office sought to monitor, direct, and intervene in the outstanding prostitution charges against its other key witness Cynthia White.

Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed and convicted 40 years ago in 1982, during one of the most corrupt and racist periods in Philadelphia’s history—the era of cop-turned-mayor Frank Rizzo. It was a moment when the city’s police department, which worked intimately with the DA’s office, routinely engaged in homicidal violence against Black and Latinx detainees, corruption, bribery and tampering with evidence to obtain convictions. 

In 1979, under pressure from civil rights activists, the Department of Justice filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the Philadelphia police department and detailed a culture of racist violence, widespread corruption and intimidation that targeted outspoken people like Mumia. Despite concurrent investigations by the FBI and Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and dozens of police convictions, the power and influence of the country’s largest police association, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) prevailed. 

Now, more than 40 years later, we’re still living with the failure to uproot these abuses. Philadelphia continues to fear the powerful FOP, even though it endorses cruelty, racism, and multiple injustices. A culture of fear permeates the “city of brotherly love.”

The contents of these boxes shine light on decades of white supremacy and rampant lawlessness in U.S. courts and prisons. They also hold enormous promise for Mumia’s freedom and challenge us to choose Love, Not PHEAR. (lovenotphear.com/) Stay tuned.

Workers World, January 4, 2022


Pa. Supreme Court denies widow’s appeal to remove Philly DA from Abu-Jamal case


Abu Jamal was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder of Faulkner in 1982. Over the past four decades, five of his appeals have been quashed.


In 1989, the state’s highest court affirmed Abu-Jamal’s death penalty conviction, and in 2012, he was re-sentenced to life in prison.


Abu-Jamal, 66, remains in prison. He can appeal to the state Supreme Court, or he can file a new appeal.


KYW Newsradio reached out to Abu-Jamal’s attorneys for comment. They shared this statement in full:


“Today, the Superior Court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to consider issues raised by Mr. Abu-Jamal in prior appeals. Two years ago, the Court of Common Pleas ordered reconsideration of these appeals finding evidence of an appearance of judicial bias when the appeals were first decided. We are disappointed in the Superior Court’s decision and are considering our next steps.


“While this case was pending in the Superior Court, the Commonwealth revealed, for the first time, previously undisclosed evidence related to Mr. Abu-Jamal’s case. That evidence includes a letter indicating that the Commonwealth promised its principal witness against Mr. Abu-Jamal money in connection with his testimony. In today’s decision, the Superior Court made clear that it was not adjudicating the issues raised by this new evidence. This new evidence is critical to any fair determination of the issues raised in this case, and we look forward to presenting it in court.”



Demand Mumia's Freedom:

Governor Tom Wolf -1(717) 787-2500  Fax 1 (717) 772-8284
Office of the Governor
508 Main Capitol Building
HarrisburgPA  17120    
After calling the governor, send an online communication about our concerns.   https://www.governor.pa.gov/contact/#PhoneNumber
Let us know what there response was, Thank you.  Mobilization4Mumia@gmail.com


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



A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 

Leonard Peltier

Video at:


Screen shot from video.

Sign our petition urging President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier.




Email: contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info

Address: 116 W. Osborne Ave. Tampa, Florida 33603


Bury My Heart with Leonard Peltier

How long will he still be with us? How long will the genocide continue?

By Michael Moore

—VIA Email: michaelmoore@substack.com

LEONARD PELTIER, Native American hero. An innocent man, he’s spent 44 years as a political prisoner. The prosecutor who put him behind bars now says Peltier is innocent. President Biden, go to Mass today, and then stop this torture. (Sipa/Shutterstock)

American Indian Movement leader, Leonard Peltier, at 77 years of age, came down with Covid-19 this weekend. Upon hearing this, I broke down and cried. An innocent man, locked up behind bars for 44 years, Peltier is now America’s longest-held political prisoner. He suffers in prison tonight even though James Reynolds, one of the key federal prosecutors who sent Peltier off to life in prison in 1977, has written to President Biden and confessed to his role in the lies, deceit, racism and fake evidence that together resulted in locking up our country’s most well-known Native American civil rights leader. Just as South Africa imprisoned for more than 27 years its leading voice for freedom, Nelson Mandela, so too have we done the same to a leading voice and freedom fighter for the indigenous people of America. That’s not just me saying this. That’s Amnesty International saying it. They placed him on their political prisoner list years ago and continue to demand his release.


And it’s not just Amnesty leading the way. It’s the Pope who has demanded Leonard Peltier’s release. It’s the Dalai Lama, Jesse Jackson, and the President Pro-Tempore of the US Senate, Sen. Patrick Leahy. Before their deaths, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and Bishop Desmond Tutu pleaded with the United States to free Leonard Peltier. A worldwide movement of millions have seen their demands fall on deaf ears. 


And now the calls for Peltier to be granted clemency in DC have grown on Capitol Hill. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), the head of the Senate committee who oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has also demanded Peltier be given his freedom. Numerous House Democrats have also written to Biden. 


The time has come for our President to act; the same President who appointed the first-ever Native American cabinet member last year and who halted the building of the Keystone pipeline across Native lands. Surely Mr. Biden is capable of an urgent act of compassion for Leonard Peltier — especially considering that the prosecutor who put him away in 1977 now says Peltier is innocent, and that his US Attorney’s office corrupted the evidence to make sure Peltier didn’t get a fair trial. Why is this victim of our judicial system still in prison? And now he is sick with Covid.


For months Peltier has begged to get a Covid booster shot. Prison officials refused. The fact that he now has COVID-19 is a form of torture. A shame hangs over all of us. Should he now die, are we all not complicit in taking his life? 


President Biden, let Leonard Peltier go. This is a gross injustice. You can end it. Reach deep into your Catholic faith, read what the Pope has begged you to do, and then do the right thing. 


For those of you reading this, will you join me right now in appealing to President Biden to free Leonard Peltier? His health is in deep decline, he is the voice of his people — a people we owe so much to for massacring and imprisoning them for hundreds of years. 


The way we do mass incarceration in the US is abominable. And Leonard Peltier is not the only political prisoner we have locked up. We have millions of Black and brown and poor people tonight in prison or on parole and probation — in large part because they are Black and brown and poor. THAT is a political act on our part. Corporate criminals and Trump run free. The damage they have done to so many Americans and people around the world must be dealt with. 


This larger issue is one we MUST take on. For today, please join me in contacting the following to show them how many millions of us demand that Leonard Peltier has suffered enough and should be free:


President Joe Biden


Phone: 202-456-1111

E-mail: At this link



Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland


Phone: 202-208-3100

E-mail: feedback@ios.doi.gov


Attorney General Merrick Garland


Phone: 202-514-2000

E-mail: At this link



I’ll end with the final verse from the epic poem “American Names” by Stephen Vincent Benet: 


I shall not rest quiet in Montparnasse.

I shall not lie easy at Winchelsea.

You may bury my body in Sussex grass,

You may bury my tongue at Champmedy.

I shall not be there. I shall rise and pass.

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.



PS. Also — watch the brilliant 1992 documentary by Michael Apted and Robert Redford about the framing of Leonard Peltier— “Incident at Oglala”



Union Membership—2021

Bureau of Labor Statistics

U.S. Department of Labor

For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Thursday, January 20, 2022

Technical information: 

(202) 691-6378 • cpsinfo@bls.gov • www.bls.gov/cps

Media contact: 

(202) 691-5902 • PressOffice@bls.gov

In 2021, the number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions continued to decline (-241,000) to 14.0 million, and the percent who were members of unions—the union membership rate—was 10.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The rate is down from 10.8 percent in 2020—when the rate increased due to a disproportionately large decline in the total number of nonunion workers compared with the decline in the number of union members. The 2021 unionization rate is the same as the 2019 rate of 10.3 percent. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent and there were 17.7 million union workers.

These data on union membership are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. For further information, see the Technical Note in this news release.

Highlights from the 2021 data:

• The union membership rate of public-sector workers (33.9 percent) continued to be more than five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers (6.1 percent). (See table 3.)

• The highest unionization rates were among workers in education, training, and library occupations (34.6 percent) and protective service occupations (33.3 percent). (See table 3.)

• Men continued to have a higher union membership rate (10.6 percent) than women (9.9 percent). The gap between union membership rates for men and women has narrowed considerably since 1983 (the earliest year for which comparable data are available), when rates for men and women were 24.7 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. (See table 1.)

• Black workers remained more likely to be union members than White, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)

• Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 83 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($975 versus $1,169). (The comparisons of earnings in this news release are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences.) (See table 2.)

• Among states, Hawaii and New York continued to have the highest union membership rates (22.4 percent and 22.2 percent, respectively), while South Carolina and North Carolina continued to have the lowest (1.7 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively). (See table 5.)

Industry and Occupation of Union Members

In 2021, 7.0 million employees in the public sector belonged to unions, the same as in the private sector. (See table 3.)

Union membership decreased by 191,000 over the year in the public sector. The public-sector union membership rate declined by 0.9 percentage point in 2021 to 33.9 percent, following an increase of 1.2 percentage points in 2020. In 2021, the union membership rate continued to be highest in local government (40.2 percent), which employs many workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as police officers, firefighters, and teachers.

The number of union workers employed in the private sector changed little over the year. However, the number of private-sector nonunion workers increased in 2021. The private-sector unionization rate declined by 0.2 percentage point in 2021 to 6.1 percent, slightly lower than its 2019 rate of 6.2 percent. Industries with high unionization rates included utilities (19.7 percent), motion pictures and sound recording industries (17.3 percent), and transportation and warehousing (14.7 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in finance (1.2 percent), professional and technical services (1.2 percent), food services and drinking places (1.2 percent), and insurance (1.5 percent).

Among occupational groups, the highest unionization rates in 2021 were in education, training, and library occupations (34.6 percent) and protective service occupations (33.3 percent). Unionization rates were lowest in food preparation and serving related occupations (3.1 percent); sales and related occupations (3.3 percent); computer and mathematical occupations (3.7 percent); personal care and service occupations (3.9 percent); and farming, fishing, and forestry occupations (4.0 percent).

Selected Characteristics of Union Members

In 2021, the number of men who were union members, at 7.5 million, changed little, while the number of women who were union members declined by 182,000 to 6.5 million. The unionization rate for men decreased by 0.4 percentage point over the year to 10.6 percent. In 2021, women’s union membership rate declined by 0.6 percentage point to 9.9 percent. The 2021 decreases in union membership rates for men and women reflect increases in the total number of nonunion workers. The rate for men is below the 2019 rate (10.8 percent), while the rate for women is above the 2019 rate (9.7 percent). (See table 1.)

Among major race and ethnicity groups, Black workers continued to have a higher union membership rate in 2021 (11.5 percent) than White workers (10.3 percent), Asian workers (7.7 percent), and Hispanic workers (9.0 percent). The union membership rate declined by 0.4 percentage point for White workers, by 0.8 percentage point for Black workers, by 1.2 percentage points for Asian workers, and by 0.8 percentage point for Hispanic workers. The 2021 rates for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics are little or no different from 2019, while the rate for Asians is lower.

By age, workers ages 45 to 54 had the highest union membership rate in 2021, at 13.1 percent. Younger workers—those ages 16 to 24—had the lowest union membership rate, at 4.2 percent.

In 2021, the union membership rate for full-time workers (11.1 percent) continued to be considerably higher than that for part-time workers (6.1 percent).

Union Representation

In 2021, 15.8 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union, 137,000 less than in 2020. The percentage of workers represented by a union was 11.6 percent, down by 0.5 percentage point from 2020 but the same as in 2019. Workers represented by a union include both union members (14.0 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.8 million). (See table 1.)


Among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $1,169 in 2021, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $975. In addition to coverage by a collective bargaining agreement, these earnings differences reflect a variety of influences, including variations in the distributions of union members and nonunion employees by occupation, industry, age, firm size, or geographic region. (See tables 2 and 4.)

Union Membership by State

In 2021, 30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that of the U.S. average, 10.3 percent, while 20 states had rates above it. All states in both the East South Central and West South Central divisions had union membership rates below the national average, while all states in both the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions had rates above it. (See table 5 and chart 1.)

Ten states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2021. South Carolina had the lowest rate (1.7 percent), followed by North Carolina (2.6 percent) and Utah (3.5 percent). Two states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2021: Hawaii (22.4 percent) and New York (22.2 percent).

In 2021, about 30 percent of the 14.0 million union members lived in just two states (California at 2.5 million and New York at 1.7 million). However, these states accounted for about 17 percent of wage and salary employment nationally.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on 2021 Union Members Data

Union membership data for 2021 continue to reflect the impact on the labor market of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Comparisons with union membership measures for 2020, including metrics such as the union membership rate and median usual weekly earnings, should be interpreted with caution. The onset of the pandemic in 2020 led to an increase in the unionization rate due to a disproportionately large decline in the number of nonunion workers compared with the decline in the number of union members. The decrease in the rate in 2021 reflects a large gain in the number of nonunion workers and a decrease in the number of union workers. More information on labor market developments in recent months is available at: 

www.bls.gov/covid19/effects-of-covid-19-pandemic-and- response-on-the-employment-situation-news-release.htm.



Resources for Resisting Federal Repression

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

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

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

Emergency Hotlines

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

State and Local Hotlines

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

National Hotline

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

Know Your Rights Materials

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

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

We also recommend the following resources: 

Center for Constitutional Rights

Civil Liberties Defense Center

Grand Jury Resistance Project

Katya Komisaruk

Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources

Tilted Scales Collective






1) 3 N.Y.C. Detainees Die in Less Than a Week, Bringing Year’s Total to 9

The deaths came just a week after a judge gave New York City until the fall to come up with a plan for fixing Rikers to avoid a federal takeover.

By Jonah E. Bromwich and Jan Ransom, June 22, 2022

The sprawling Rikers complex has been afflicted with violence and dysfunction for years.
The sprawling Rikers complex has been afflicted with violence and dysfunction for years. Credit...Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the week since a federal judge granted New York City at least another six months to reform its troubled jail system, three people who had recently been held at the troubled Rikers Island jail complex have died.


Anibal Carrasquillo, 39, died on Monday, the city’s Department of Correction said. The cause was suspected to be a drug overdose, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Albert Drye, 52, died on Tuesday at the Bellevue Prison Hospital Ward, according to the Legal Aid Society, which was representing him. The cause of death is unknown.


The third incarcerated person, Antonio Bradley, 28, died on June 18, three days after being granted compassionate release from Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, according to the Department of Correction.


The fatalities bring the number of people who have died after being held by the city this year to nine, three more than had died at this time last year. The deaths all came in the week after the judge, Laura T. Swain, had scheduled a status conference about the Rikers Island jail complex for November, likely forestalling any federal takeover of the troubled facility until the winter or later.


Mayor Eric Adams, in a statement last week, celebrated the judge’s order, saying that his administration had “a strategy to aggressively untangle the dysfunction that has plagued the jails and set them on a path of real enduring reform.” Shortly before Mr. Bradley’s death was reported, the mayor announced that he would tour two jails on Rikers Island Wednesday afternoon.


Members of a jail oversight agency said the growing death toll on Rikers should compel the judge to reconsider and appoint an independent leader to run the correction system. Last year, 16 people died after being held in New York City’s jails, the highest toll since 2013.


“The tragedies of the past days on Rikers Island should be of concern to every New Yorker,” said Dr. Robert Cohen, a member of the board. “Thoughts and prayers are important but they are not enough. The City of New York, despite their best efforts, is not capable of maintaining a minimally safe environment for people in custody.”


The Department of Correction did not immediately respond to requests for comment on staff shortages or actions leading up to the deaths.


Mr. Drye had been held since May 17 on assault, harassment and weapons charges in Manhattan and the Bronx, had been seriously ill and hospitalized for several weeks. Before he was hospitalized, he had been detained at the Eric M. Taylor Center, a facility on Rikers Island where new detainees are held and assessed before being permanently housed.


The city was held in contempt last month by a state judge for its failure to administer proper medical care to those in its custody. In April, the month before Mr. Drye was arrested, 11,789 medical appointments were missed in city jails, according to city data, thousands of them because correction officers were not available to escort incarcerated people to the clinic.


On Sunday night, just two days before Mr. Drye’s death, Mr. Carrasquillo, who had been held at another Rikers facility on a $50,000 bail on charges including robbery, drug possession and assault, was last seen alive shortly after 10 p.m., a person with knowledge of the incident said. Shortly before 1 a.m. on Monday, a jail supervisor found Mr. Carrasquillo unresponsive in his cell, the person said.


A second official with knowledge of the matter said that jail staff had not adequately toured the housing area between when Mr. Carrasquillo was last seen alive and when he was discovered. Mr. Carrasquillo was pronounced dead at 1:31 a.m.


Earlier this month, on June 10, before Mr. Carrasquillo’s death, Mr. Bradley was in a Bronx courthouse eight miles away. His lawyer, Bruce Klein, had just informed him that the judge on his firearms case was out sick and that the next court date would be in two weeks. During that conversation, Mr. Klein said his client did not give any indication that he was suicidal.


Soon after, Mr. Bradley, who had been held at Rikers since October, was returned to the courthouse holding pen, which is managed by correction officers, where he hanged himself.


Video evidence suggests that Mr. Bradley was unsupervised in the cell for six to nine minutes before staff found him hanging, according to a person familiar withan investigation into his death.


Mr. Bradley was cut down by correction officers, who administered CPR, and was taken to the hospital, where he was put on life support, according to the Department of Correction. The department did not respond to a question about the circumstances of his death.


“He was a decent human being,” Mr. Klein said. “It’s a tragedy.”


Mr. Bradley was released from custody on June 15 to the hospital, where he died. His death was first reported by The New York Daily News.


“It is very disheartening to hear about the passing of Mr. Bradley,” Louis A. Molina, the Correction Department commissioner, said in a statement, offering condolences and prayers to his family.


After months of similar episodes, the United States Attorney in Manhattan in April raised the possibility of a federal court takeover. Judge Swain required the city to file a plan last month, indicating how it would turn things around at Rikers. That plan was met with frustration by a Legal Aid lawyer, Mary Lynne Werlwas, who told the court that she would seek an order of contempt and the appointment of an outside official to take over the jails or some other appropriate remedy.


Judge Swain denied her request to set a timetable for those actions at least until Nov. 17, when there will be a status conference about whether the city’s plan has been implemented successfully. The judge wrote that only at that point would she consider whether setting such a schedule was warranted.


Federal court takeovers of jails and prisons are unusual, and judges are obligated to demonstrate that several factors make such remedies necessary. Among those tests are that there are no lesser alternatives to a so-called receivership, and that the government is acting in bad faith and will not comply with court orders.


“It’s important for the judge to show that she has tried everything and everything that she has tried has come up short,” said Hernandez D. Stroud, counsel of the Justice Program of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. “It is reserved for when the court reaches the end of the road with nowhere to turn.”



2) The Supreme Court Strips Us of Miranda Warnings

Today, Justice Alito ruled that you have constitutional rights, but no right to know what they are.

By By Elie Mystal, June 24, 2022


(Joseph Prezioso / AFP via Getty Images)

In 1966, the Supreme Court created the now famous “Miranda warnings,” in the seminal case Miranda v. Arizona. The Constitution had arguably always protected the right against self-incrimination in the Fifth Amendment, but the white men who wrote the Constitution never provided practical protections of that right. In Miranda, Earl Warren invented, out of whole cloth, a set of instructions the government would be required to give people in order to protect their rights against self-incrimination, and their right to an attorney (which is found in the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution). Everybody has heard of these warnings: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?” Before the decision in Miranda, police would routinely arrest people and bully them into making incriminating statements without allowing them to talk to an attorney. Ernesto Miranda himself was questioned at his home, “voluntarily” taken to the police station, placed in a lineup, and eventually convinced to sign a confession, without his ever once talking to a lawyer. The idea was to end the practice of law enforcement tricking people out of their constitutional rights.


Today, in a case called Vega v. Tekoh, the Supreme Court rejects that idea. According to the conservative majority, the Constitution still protects people from incriminating themselves. But now, if cops trick or coerce or threaten or brutalize people into giving up their constitutional rights without telling them they have a right to make the intimidation stop, there’s no way to sue the government for the failure to inform victims of their rights. Justice Samuel Alito, writing for a 6-3 conservative majority, might as well have channeled Agent Smith’s famous line from The Matrix: “What good is a phone call if you are unable to speak?”


In Vega, Alito argues that the failure to give Miranda warnings does not result in a Section 1983 cause of action against the government. Section 1983 is the main vehicle for people to sue the government when government actors violate constitutional rights. Alito argues that the Miranda warnings are not a constitutional “right”; they’re just a thing cops can say if they feel like it. If cops violate constitutional rights under the Fifth or Sixth Amendments, victims can still sue the government (if they can somehow prove a violation occurred), or move to have the evidence unconstitutionally obtained against them at trial excluded. But Alito rejects Miranda’s presumption that constitutional rights are violated if law enforcement fails to give the warning. Essentially, Alito argues that you have constitutional rights, but no right to know what those are.


I couldn’t invent a better example of the difference between a Supreme Court controlled by conservatives versus one controlled by liberals than the one given by the court in its decisions in Vega versus Miranda. People often forget that the Miranda case itself was a 5-4 decision over conservative objections. Here, Vega is 6-3, functionally overturning Miranda with all the conservatives in lockstep. If you want robust protections of people’s rights, there is simply no substitute for having liberals control the court. If you want robust protections of gun rights and corporate rights and Jesus rights, by all means, continue allowing the current conservative majority to rule over all.


Now, most people reading already understand that the current court is more conservative and reactionary than the court in 1966. But the opinion in Vega shows how radical and extremist conservatives are even compared to the conservative court of the 2000s. That’s because Vega also functionally overturns Dickerson v. United States, a 2000 case that upheld Miranda warnings. That case was decided 7-2, by the very same court who would go on to anoint George W. Bush as president of the United States later in the year. Ultraconservative William Rehnquist even wrote the majority opinion defending Miranda warnings.


Oh, Rehnquist only grudgingly upheld Miranda. He didn’t give Miranda a ringing endorsement. Instead, he upheld it simply because it was precedent, and that precedent was simply too popular to overturn. He wrote: “Miranda has become embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become part of our national culture.”


In her dissent in Vega, Justice Elena Kagan doesn’t spend as much time defending Miranda as she does defending Dickerson. “Dickerson v. United States tells us in no uncertain terms that Miranda is a ‘constitutional rule,’” she writes. Kagan points out that we know the Miranda warnings are part of the constitutional protections enshrined in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, because courts have turned back legislative attempts to weaken Miranda, including the federal attempt that was at issue in the Dickerson case.


But Alito and the conservative majority (which included Justice Clarence Thomas, who was one of the two dissenters in Dickerson) simply don’t care. Alito recasts the Dickerson opinion as upholding Miranda warnings as an option, not a requirement.


That is the essential difference between the conservatives on the court 20 years ago and the ones appointed this century. They used to do everything they could to bend or break the law toward the Republican Party outcomes they desired, but felt somewhat constrained by prior Supreme Court precedent and overwhelming popular will. Now, they push the law toward their preferred conservative outcomes without regard for past precedent or popular opinion. They have the votes, they have the power, to do what they want when they want to.


The practical effect of this decision will be to unleash already brutal American cops to use even more intimidation and coercion to secure (potentially false) confessions than they already do. Paradoxically, this ruling will do more to deny the constitutional rights of people who are innocent than to infringe those of people guilty of crime. That’s because professional criminals, for the most part, know their constitutional rights. They know they shouldn’t talk to the cops; they know the only word they should say to the police is “lawyer.” You don’t have to tell a street-level drug dealer what to do if he gets held by the cops; he already knows. And you don’t have to tell a banker or a person accused of “white collar” crime what to do either: Those folks have their lawyers on speed dial.


Alito and conservative legal media will hide behind the fact that the Fifth and Sixth amendments still exist. They’ll say people still have the right to remain silent. And that will be true for their rich friends and for people with enough “street smarts” to know how the system works.


But the whole point of Miranda is that constitutional rights should not be tied to whether you have the education and training to know they exist. My kids will know not to talk to cops, because I tell them that every time we see one (I warn my kids about the cops the way other parents warn their kids about taking candy from strangers). But what about kids who don’t have lawyers for parents? Do those kids get less Constitution than mine?


Alito and the conservatives say yes. They always say yes. They always rule in a way that provides constitutional protections to some people, but not all people. And they will continue to rule this way, as long as they are allowed to control the Supreme Court.



3) Heat Waves Around the World Push People and Nations ‘To the Edge’

Large, simultaneous heat waves are growing more common. China, America, Europe and India have all been stricken recently, and scientists are starting to understand why certain far-flung places get hit at once.

By Raymond Zhong, June 24, 2022

A wildfire raged in the Sierra de la Culebra in Zamora Province in Spain this month.
A wildfire raged in the Sierra de la Culebra in Zamora Province in Spain this month. Credit...Emilio Fraile/Europa Press, via Associated Press

Millions of Americans are once again in the grips of dangerous heat. Hot air blanketed Europe last weekend, causing parts of France and Spain to feel the way it usually does in July or August. High temperatures scorched northern and central China even as heavy rains caused flooding in the country’s south. Some places in India began experiencing extraordinary heat in March, though the start of the monsoon rains has brought some relief.


It’s too soon to say whether climate change is directly to blame for causing severe heat waves in these four powerhouse economies — which also happen to be the top emitters of heat-trapping gases — at roughly the same time, just days into summer.


While global warming is making extreme heat more common worldwide, deeper analysis is required to tell scientists whether specific weather events were made more likely or more intense because of human-induced warming. (A team of researchers who studied this spring’s devastating heat in India found that climate change had made it 30 times as likely to occur.)


Even so, concurrent heat waves seem to be hitting certain groups of far-flung places with growing frequency of late, for reasons related to the jet stream and other rivers of air that influence weather systems worldwide.


Studies have shown that parts of North America, Europe and Asia are linked this way. Scientists are still trying to determine how these patterns might change as the planet warms further, but for now it means simultaneous heat extremes will probably continue affecting these places where so much of the world’s economic activity is concentrated.


“To have a heat wave, we need the heat, and we need the atmospheric circulation pattern that allows the heat to accumulate,” said Daniel E. Horton, a climate scientist at Northwestern University. With global warming, he said, “we’re definitely getting more heat.” But climate change may also be affecting the way this heat is distributed around the world by globe-circling air currents, he said.


Simultaneous weather extremes in numerous locations aren’t just meteorological curiosities. Individual heat waves can lead to illness and death, wildfires, and crop failures. Concurrent ones can threaten global food supplies, which have been under perilous strain this year because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


While heat waves are shaped by complex local factors such as urbanization and land use, scientists no longer have much doubt about whether climate change is making them worse. Soon, the world’s most devastating heat waves may simply have no historical analogue from the time shortly before humans starting pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, some scientists argue, rendering obsolete the question of whether climate change is a main driver.


The warming of recent decades has already made it hard for scientists to know what to call a heat wave and what to treat as simply a new normal for hot weather, said Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University.


If the threshold for a heat wave is just the mercury exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit for days in a row, for instance, then it’s “not at all unexpected,” Dr. Dessler said, to see them occurring more regularly in several regions at once. “As time goes on, more and more of the planet will be experiencing those temperatures, until eventually, with enough global warming, every land area in the mid-latitude Northern Hemisphere would be above 100 degrees,” he said.


Yet even when scientists look at how often temperatures exceed a certain level relative to a moving average, they still find a big increase in the frequency of simultaneous heat waves.


One recent study that did this found that the average number of days between May and September with at least one large heat wave in the Northern Hemisphere doubled between the 1980s and the 2010s, to around 152 from 73. But the number of days with two or more heat waves was seven times higher, growing to roughly 143 from 20. That’s nearly every single day from May to September.


The study also found that these concurrent heat waves affected larger areas and were more intense by the 2010s, with peak temperatures that were almost one-fifth higher than in the 1980s. On days when there was at least one large heat wave somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, there were 3.6 of them happening per day on average, the study found.


These “dramatic” increases came as a surprise, said Deepti Singh, a climate scientist at Washington State University and an author of the study.


Dr. Singh and her co-authors also looked at where concurrent heat waves occurred most frequently during those four decades. One pattern stood out: Large simultaneous heat waves struck parts of eastern North America, Europe, and central and eastern Asia increasingly often between 1979 and 2019 — “more than what we would expect simply by the effect of warming,” Dr. Singh said.


The study did not try to predict whether heat waves along this pattern will become more frequent as global warming continues, she said.


Scientists are working to pin down how the meandering of the jet stream, which has long shaped weather patterns for billions of people, might be changing in this warming era. One factor is the rapid warming of the Arctic, which narrows the difference in temperatures between the northern and southern bands of the Northern Hemisphere. How exactly this might be affecting extreme weather is still a matter of debate.


But those temperature differences are key forces driving the winds that keep weather systems moving around the planet. As the temperature differences narrow, these air currents may be slowing down, said Kai Kornhuber, a climate scientist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. That means extreme events like heat waves and heavy downpours are likely to last longer.


“The longer a heat wave lasts, the more you push natural and societal systems to the edge,” Dr. Kornhuber said.


Climate change already means the world will see more extreme weather events, and more extremes occurring simultaneously, he said. “These circulation changes, they will act on top of it,” he said, “and would make extremes even more severe and even more frequent.”



4) 'It's time the US released pictures of Guantanamo's children, the waterboarding, the blood-stained walls of cells where prisoners were killed'

Held in the infamous torture prison for 14 years, Mansoor Adayfi says his experience is nothing like the sanitised images released from the camp by the US June 23, 2022

By Mansoor Adayfi, June 23, 2022


US Army Military Police drag a detainee to his cell January 11, 2001 in Camp X-Ray at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba [Petty Officer 1st class Shane T. McCoy/U.S. Navy/Getty Images]

US Army Military Police drag a detainee to his cell January 11, 2001 in Camp X-Ray at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba [Petty Officer 1st class Shane T. McCoy/U.S. Navy/Getty Images]

Over the last 20 years, Guantanamo has represented many different things to the world. It is not only the site of one of the most infamous prisons in the 'War on Terror' but joins the ranks of Alcatraz and Robben Island as one of the most notorious in history. Outside observers may know it as a symbol of torture, rendition and indefinite detention without charge or trial; for me however, it was my home for 14 years. Every inch and crevice of the Camp has seared itself into my mind, the images of that brutal reality will forever remain firmly embedded in my mind's eye.


That's why I looked on with interest as a series of secret, never-before-released photos of the original detainees arriving at the detention camp were published.


The images, posted by the New York Times Sunday, show scenes of men in shackles, blindfolds, and ear protectors as they arrived at Guantanamo in 2002. Most of what was done to us there was kept safely out of the glare of the public eye, and the NYT points out that the only images ever leaked from the prison were put out by WikiLeaks in 2011.  Why were they taken? Apparently to give Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and other leaders in Washington a look at the start of the wartime detention and interrogation. Perhaps even to comfort them that the "worst of the worst" were being treated how they deserved. One of the first things I did was to share the NYT article with a WhatsApp group I share with former Guantanamo prisoners, asking if they could identify with what they saw in the photos. I knew already it would be triggering, but I needed to hear and know what they thought. The majority reacted the same way I did, and some could not even look, let alone comment. The trauma was too fresh.


What were the reactions? The sentiments ranged from: "I wish I was treated like that", to "Is this a sick joke?". We then spoke about the things that really happened and how they happened. We also floated what the real narrative would sound like, if it were ever to be reported: "We kidnapped them, abused them, tortured them, set their life on fire, released them without charge or trial. Now we are going to sugarcoat what we did to them and use photos to lie to the world."


I personally know the story of each of the men who make up this group of survivors, I lived, prayed and suffered with them. We were all part of each other's stories- like jigsaw pieces in a cursed puzzle. Yet, I always want to hear them again. I want to know about their lives now. I want to understand the impact of those years on the kind of life they're trying to live today. It is a grim reality. We may technically be far from the shores of Cuba, but we are all still imprisoned in many open and hidden ways. The conditions of our release and the choking restrictions on our lives mean we are all living what can only be called "Guantanamo 2.0".


One of the brothers' messaged, he has just read the article. "They can lie to the world here in this life, but a day will come where justice will be served in the Hereafter. And there, in a Divine Court, there will be no lying. It is not over yet."


The photos you see today would have us all looking like pampered terrorists. Look at us clothed in our clean, pressed orange jumpsuits, being cradled like babies, fed and provided the best healthcare. Oh, look at all the freedom to practice religion we've been given as we kneel in prayer, it's almost heartwarming.


Except, those of us who have lived it know the truth of our experiences. Our experiences are unanimous.


"My ribs were broken there, and I still live with the pain of it today" says one. "I still have the scars on my head and body, and I can't explain to my children why," says another.


Then one brother chimes in: "Thankfully I can't even look at the photos since – as you all know – I lost sight in one eye in Guantanamo while being tortured. The vision in my other eye is so weak that I am clinically blind."


Another takes a more reflective approach: "It is one thing to destroy a man, his family and his future… it's another to then release sanitized and misleading images to the world to cover up the evil of what you did."


For me, I have questions. Questions I would like to ask the photographers: How could they bear watching the atrocities that they did while they stood with a wide-angle lens? How could they position themselves to take the perfect pictures while human torture was taking place in front of them? How can they live with themselves?


My call to the public is to dig deeper, and not allow yourselves to be fooled by powerful PR. When a global superpower has access to media resources and the power to control the narrative, go straight to the people on the receiving end and truly open yourself up to all sides of the story. Consider how tightly controlled and censored any public information was about Guantanamo since it opened its doomed doors in 2001. The US military reviewed and had to sign off every single photo taken by pre-approved photographers. The press themselves were not allowed to leave the base until their work was authorised for public consumption. The prisoners were not the only ones not to be free there. The only images of Guantanamo released to the world were vetted and manipulated by the US government, keen to whitewash crimes under the familiar refrain of "fighting terrorism".


There are some photos that will never make it to your screens, however. You will never see the images of the 60 children held in cages, including a three-month-old baby. A glorified human zoo of vulnerable children. You will never see the photo of the 105-year-old prisoner who was beaten so badly that blood poured down his aged and decrepit frame. You will not see the force-feeding. You will not see prisoners sat naked, cold and hungry in the long nights, forced to defecate and sit in their own excrement. You will never see the men who lost their life and had their killings covered up as "suicides". You will not see the photos of the brothers who had their organs removed and their dehumanised bodies gutted from the inside out. You will not see the body bags shipped out of the facility – with just an ISN barcode – back to families who were offered no explanation, let alone remorse or reparation.


No, the Americans torture and kill first and ask questions later. Heck, they don't even bother asking questions. They just release pretty photographs to demonstrate their humanity in the face of our barbarism. The CIA has already destroyed thousands of photographs and videos that attest to the torture that has taken place at CIA black sites across the world.


Here for you now is just one image of our journey to Guantanamo. One stop on the road to Hell. Most of us were wishing the plane would crash and we would die there are then. Nobody sat on those planes. We were gagged, hooded, shackled and chained to the floor. I myself was sporting a sign around my neck saying "BEAT ME". The soldiers enacted the command and then posed for photos with my heaving, bloodied body. They were fond of photography, for sure. They slammed their boots down on our heads. They rode us like animals. Choked us. They pulled down our underwear and took photos while elbowing one another in delight. They carried out their infamous "cavity searches" which involved taking a deep, long look into our anuses. "You like that, huh? Do you want us to do it again?" I will never stop hearing their laughter in my head, they enjoyed nothing more than humiliating us.


We were dragged naked to our cage where we had to wait for hours to be given the infamous orange jumpsuit. This was the first stop in our journey. And the journey was long and brutal.


So now we make a request.


We ask the Pentagon to release the photos of prisoners who died in Guantanamo. The Guantanamo children. The waterboarding. The force-feeding. The blood-stained walls of cells where prisoners were killed. The prisoners who left the cursed facility in wheelchairs because they had their backs literally broken during interrogations. Release the pictures of us when we were kept naked and cold in metal cells for weeks and months in solitary confinement.


Even then, we prisoners produced art. We painted, we drew, we wrote, we sketched. Instead of these photographs, we ask the Pentagon to release the Guantanamo art that we created while detained. Since 2017, lawyers have been petitioning the US government to return it, yet they have refused. Our art is "a threat to American national security." Our art is dangerous … because it tells the truth.


Even after all this, I feel the first victims of the American government are its people. They are being lied to and deceived. They are being fed false tales of the American Dream, freedom, democracy and justice. They are being misled and abused by the powers they have entrusted to safeguard their interests. This is the slow rot of America that is killing it from within.


Without accountability, acknowledgement and openness, the world will never know the truth. Americans will never know the reality of their government, of their country, of the lies which are veiled in plain sight.



5) No, Justice Alito, Reproductive Justice Is in the Constitution

By Michele Goodwin, June 26, 2022

Ms. Goodwin is a chancellor’s professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, and the author of “Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood.”

Illustration by Sergio Lass, images by David Fenton and Chicago History Museum via Getty Images

Black women’s sexual subordination and forced pregnancies were foundational to slavery. If cotton was euphemistically king, Black women’s wealth-maximizing forced reproduction was queen.


Ending the forced sexual and reproductive servitude of Black girls and women was a critical part of the passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments. The overturning of Roe v. Wade reveals the Supreme Court’s neglectful reading of the amendments that abolished slavery and guaranteed all people equal protection under the law. It means the erasure of Black women from the Constitution.


Mandated, forced or compulsory pregnancy contravenes enumerated rights in the Constitution, namely the 13th Amendment’s prohibition against involuntary servitude and protection of bodily autonomy, as well as the 14th Amendment’s defense of privacy and freedom.


This Supreme Court demonstrates a selective and opportunistic interpretation of the Constitution and legal history, which ignores the intent of the 13th and 14th Amendments, especially as related to Black women’s bodily autonomy, liberty and privacy which extended beyond freeing them from labor in cotton fields to shielding them from rape and forced reproduction. The horrors inflicted on Black women during slavery, especially sexual violations and forced pregnancies, have been all but wiped from cultural and legal memory. Ultimately, this failure disserves all women.

Overturning the right to abortion reveals the court’s indefensible disregard for the lives of women, girls and people capable of pregnancy, given the possible side effects and consequences of pregnancy, including gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, hemorrhaging, gestational hypertension, ectopic pregnancy and death. State-mandated pregnancy will exacerbate what are already alarming health and dignity harms, especially in states with horrific records of maternal mortality and morbidity.


To understand the gravity of what is at stake, one need only turn to the Supreme Court’s own recent history. In 2016, Justice Stephen Breyer noted in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that women are 14 times more likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term than by having an abortion. The United States bears the chilling distinction of being the most dangerous place in the industrialized world to give birth, ranking 55th overall in the world.


Disproportionately, those who will suffer most are poor women, especially Black and brown women. Black women are over three times as likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term than white women. In Mississippi, a Black woman is 118 times as likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term than by having an abortion. According to the Mississippi Maternal Mortality Report, from 2013 to 2016, Black women accounted for “nearly 80 percent of pregnancy-related cardiac deaths” in that state. At present, there is only one clinic in the entire state of Mississippi to serve hundreds of thousands of women that might need to terminate a pregnancy.


In 1942, in a unanimous decision delivered by Justice William Douglas in Skinner v. Oklahoma, the court explained that “This case touches a sensitive and important area of human rights,” because Oklahoma sought to sterilize a man who committed petty crimes, including stealing chickens, under its “Habitual Criminal Sterilization Act.”


Justice Douglas wrote that reproductive autonomy and privacy, associated with “marriage and procreation” are “fundamental,” and a state’s interference with such rights “may have subtle, far-reaching and devastating effects.” The justices were concerned about the inequality at the heart of the law, which singled out poor and vulnerable classes of American men.

Now, 80 years later, Mississippi has already made a “clear, pointed, unmistakable discrimination,” as if it has “selected a particular race or nationality for oppressive treatment,” which the court specifically struck down and condemned in Skinner.


What today’s Supreme Court strategically overlooks, legal history reminds us with stunning clarity, specifically the terrifying practices of American slavery, including the stalking, kidnapping, confinement, coercion, rape and torture of Black women and girls. In a commentary reprinted in The New York Times on Jan. 18, 1860, slavery was described as an enterprise that “treats” a Black person “as a chattel, breeds from him with as little regard for marriage ties as if he were an animal, is a moral outlaw.”


Such observations were hardly unique or rare; the Library of Congress offers a comprehensive collection of newspapers, almanacs, daguerreotypes, illustrations, and other materials that comprise the “African-American Mosaic: Influence of Prominent Abolitionists.” Laws that date back to the 1600s expose the sexual depravity and inhumanity of American slavery. In 1662, the Virginia Grand Assembly enacted one of its first “slave laws” to settle this point, expressing, “Whereas some doubts have arisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a Negro woman should be slave or free, be it therefore enacted and declared by this present Grand Assembly, that all children born in this country shall be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother.”


Thomas Jefferson kept copious receipts and documents related to the births of enslaved children at his Monticello plantation, including those who were ultimately discovered to be his own. Not surprising, at the heart of abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude in the 13th Amendment was the forced sexual and reproductive servitude of Black girls and women. Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, who led the effort to prohibit slavery and enact the 13th Amendment, was nearly beaten to death in the halls of Congress two days after giving a speech that included the condemning of the culture of sexual violence that dominated slavery.


Black women also spoke out about their reproductive bondage. In 1851, in her compelling speech known as “Ain’t I a Woman,” Sojourner Truth implored the crowd of men and women gathered at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, to understand the gravity and depravity of American slavery on Black women’s reproductive autonomy and privacy. Reported by newspapers and recorded through history, Ms. Truth stated that she had borne 13 children and seen nearly each one ripped from her arms, with no appeal to law or courts. Wasn’t she a woman, too? By the accounts of those gathered, including famed feminist abolitionist Frances Gage, the room stood still and then erupted in applause.


Similarly, in “Incidents In The Life of A Slave Girl,” published in 1861, Harriet Jacobs describes the herculean efforts made to avoid the inevitable sexual assault and rape by her captor. She wrote, “I saw a man forty years my senior daily violating the most sacred commandments of nature. He told me I was his property; that I must be subject to his will in all things.”


And yet, slavery’s vestiges persisted in Southern states, including within the domains of privacy, child rearing and marriage. The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, better known as the “Freedmen’s Bureau,” founded March 1865, collected letters written by Black mothers despairing over vile “apprenticeships” whereby their children were kidnapped and returned to bondage under the guise of traineeships.

Congress followed in 1868 with the ratification of the 14th Amendment, which further secured the interests of Black women who had been subjected to cruelties inflicted on them physically, reproductively, and psychologically.


The 14th Amendment opens with the sentence, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States … are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside” and as such would be protected by the laws of the United States. Such language applied to infants born to Black women, changing the provisions of law that had long denied Black children citizenship and the protection of laws. Lawmakers were understandably concerned about overturning states laws that had denied children the dignity of personhood.


Justice Samuel Alito’s claim, that there is no enumeration and original meaning in the Constitution related to involuntary sexual subordination and reproduction, misreads and misunderstands American slavery, the social conditions of that enterprise and legal history. It misinterprets how slavery was abolished, ignores the deliberation and debates within Congress, and craftily renders Black women and their bondage invisible.


It is no hyperbole to say that the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs case is in league with some of the darkest rulings — Plessy v. Ferguson, which opened the floodgates to “separate but equal” laws that ushered in Jim Crow, and Buck v. Bell, which sanctioned states’ eugenics laws permitting forced sterilization of poor women.


The court’s central role — and sadly its complicity — in the harms that predictably will result from this decision cannot be overlooked. The court will be giving its imprimatur to states set to “trigger” laws that will criminally and civilly punish girls and women who want and need to end pregnancies, including victims of rape and incest, while ignoring the deadly traps in which most of those states have historically placed Black women.



6) 50 Migrants Dead After Truck Found Abandoned in Texas

The discovery in San Antonio led to the arrest of three people. It comes as authorities are struggling with a migration surge at the southern border.

By James Dobbins, J. David Goodman and Daniel Victor


Investigators at the scene where dozens of migrants were found dead Monday in or near a tractor-trailer in San Antonio.

Investigators at the scene where dozens of migrants were found dead Monday in or near a tractor-trailer in San Antonio. Credit...Lisa Krantz for The New York Times

At least 16 people from the overheated tractor-trailer were taken to hospitals, where several died.


SAN ANTONIO — The death toll from a scorching-hot tractor-trailer found in the Texas sun rose to at least 50 on Tuesday morning, with three victims confirmed dead at a hospital in San Antonio. The authorities were working to identify the victims and were searching surrounding fields for other passengers who might have jumped or fallen from the truck before it came to a stop.


The bodies of at least 46 people believed to be migrants were found on Monday in and around the abandoned tractor-trailer on the outskirts of San Antonio, officials said. At least 16 others, including children, were taken to hospitals alive but suffering from apparent heat exhaustion and dehydration. Three later died at Baptist Medical Center, a spokeswoman confirmed. Where the 50th victim died was not immediately clear.


Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said on Twitter on Tuesday that the dead included 22 Mexicans, seven Guatemalans and two Hondurans. Others have not yet been identified.


At least three bodies were found strewn along the roadway, with the farthest about 75 yards from the truck, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation. It was possible, the official said, that those found outside had died inside the truck and fallen out when its door opened.


Officials did not identify a cause of death, but suggested that extreme heat most likely contributed. The truck did not have operating air-conditioning, officials said, and the temperature reached 101 degrees in San Antonio on Monday.


The city’s fire chief, Charles Hood, said the people who were transported to hospitals were “hot to the touch.” An employee from a nearby business discovered the truck around 6 p.m. after hearing a cry for help, William McManus, the chief of the San Antonio Police Department, said on Monday.


Border crossings are always dangerous, with hundreds of migrants often packed into vehicles, sometimes without water, fresh air or food. Many have been killed in crashes, while others have overheated. All of the victims on Monday were believed to have crossed into the United States illegally from Mexico.


In other developments:


·      Three people have been taken into custody, the police said. It was not yet known if the driver, whom the police were searching for after the truck was abandoned near railroad tracks and auto salvage yards southwest of downtown, was among those detained.


·      The Department of Homeland Security was expected to take over the investigation. Agents from Homeland Security Investigations, a unit specialized in smuggling, were collecting evidence inside the trailer on Monday, officials said.


·      President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico said his country’s government was ready to support the investigation into the migrant deaths. “I want to express my deepest condolences to the families of Mexican, Guatemalan and Honduran migrants who died yesterday asphyxiated in a trailer,” he said, “a tremendous misfortune.”


·      Mayor Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio called the deaths “a horrific human tragedy.” Immigrants making their way to places across the United States often pass through San Antonio, as tens of thousands have done in recent months, according to immigrant advocates. “The plight of migrants seeking refuge is always a humanitarian crisis,” the mayor said.


·      The deaths came as state officials are bracing for a new surge in illegal crossings. Federal officials have recorded a record number across the southern border for this point in the year, with more than 44,000 last month just in the area around Del Rio and Eagle Pass, the border closest to San Antonio, which is about 150 miles away. In May, agents apprehended a record high of more than 239,000 migrants along the entire border.



7) Amid Attacks and Thefts, Some Retail Workers Want to Fight Back

Assaults at stores have been increasing at a faster pace than the national average. Some workers are tired of fearing for their safety.

By Michael Corkery, June 28, 2022


There was the customer who stomped on the face of a private security guard. Then the one who lit herself on fire inside a store. The person who drank gasoline and the one who brandished an ax. An intoxicated shopper who pelted a worker with soup cans. A shoplifter who punched a night manager twice in the head and then shot him in the chest.


And there was the shooting that killed 10 people, including three workers, at the King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colo., in March 2021. Another shooting left 10 more people dead at a Buffalo grocery store last month.


In her 37 years in the grocery industry, said Kim Cordova, a union president in Colorado, she had never experienced the level of violence that her members face today.


So when she was negotiating contracts for 21,000 grocery workers in Colorado this past winter, the usual issues of wages and scheduling were certainly on the table. But just as critical, if not more so, was safety.


“What happened with Covid?” said Ms. Cordova, president of Local 7 of the United Food and Commercial Workers. “People have changed. Sometimes I wonder if I am living in a Netflix movie. This can’t be real.”


The union negotiated a contract that ensures workers have the right to defend themselves if a customer attacks them. It is a grim acknowledgment of not only the violence plaguing many facets of American society but the increasing unwillingness of retail employees to keep turning the other cheek to crime in their stores.


During the early months of the pandemic, stores became tinderboxes for a society frazzled by lockdowns, protests and mask mandates. Many workers say that tension persists, even as pandemic tensions recede, and that they need more protections.


According to a New York Times analysis of F.B.I. assault data, the number of assaults in many retail establishments has been increasing at a faster pace than the national average.


From 2018 to 2020, assaults overall rose 42 percent; they increased 63 percent in grocery stores and 75 percent in convenience stores. Of the more than two million assaults reported to the F.B.I. by law enforcement agencies across the country in 2020, more than 82,000 — about 4 percent — were at shopping malls, convenience stores and other similar locations.


Last year, the F.B.I. said, more than half the so-called active shooter attacks — in which an individual with a gun is killing or trying to kill people in a busy area — occurred in places of commerce, including stores.


“Violence in and around retail settings is definitely increasing, and it is a concern,” said Jason Straczewski, a vice president of government relations and political affairs at the National Retail Federation.


Tracking retail theft is more difficult because many prosecutors and retailers rarely press charges. Still, some politicians have seized on viral videos of brazen shoplifting to portray left-leaning city leaders as soft on crime. Others have accused the industry of grossly exaggerating losses and warned that the thefts were being used as a pretext to roll back criminal justice reforms.


“These crimes deserve to be taken seriously, but they are also being weaponized ahead of the midterm elections,” said Jonathan Simon, a professor of criminal justice at the University of California, Berkeley, Law School.


While the political debate swirls about the extent of the crime and its causes, many of the people staffing the stores say retailers have been too permissive of crime, particularly theft. Some employees want more armed security guards who can take an active role in stopping theft, and they want more stores to permanently bar rowdy or violent customers, just as airlines have been taking a hard line with unruly passengers.


Store employees have begun capturing episodes of violence, either against workers or between customers, on their phones in an effort to bring attention to the problem. A selection of videos were shared with The Times by a person who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation by the employers.


Stores, by their very design, can be a catch basin for society’s gravest challenges, such as homelessness and gun violence. And until those issues are solved more broadly, it is difficult to fortify spaces where the public is encouraged to roam freely and shop.


The crime is also a byproduct, in many ways, of the modern retailer’s business model, which arranges products out in the open in a spacious store to entice shoppers to buy more. Thin staffing and increased automation have boosted profits but make it easier for crime to flourish, workers say.


“These criminals feel like they own the store,” said Tony Settles, a clerk at a Safeway in downtown Denver. “The No. 1 thing that can fix this is accountability.”


Mr. Settles, 60, recently shouted at a man who had jumped over the customer service counter and stolen cartons of cigarettes. The man swore at him and then walked out of the supermarket unimpeded.


Employees typically lose their jobs if they physically try to stop or confront a shoplifter, a policy meant to protect them from harm. But this policy can seem to invite more crime, said Mr. Settles, who is on the executive board of Local 7 and has been trying to raise the alarm about employee safety and lobby for more security.


“If an employee gets caught stealing a candy bar, they get fired,” said Mr. Settles, who has worked in the grocery industry for 40 years. “But you have shoplifters who come in here and steal a whole buggy full of Tide. They leave, and we tell them not to come back. But they come back a few days later.”


In a statement, Safeway said: “Safeguarding our associates and customers is our No. 1 priority. For that reason, we permit only specially trained store personnel and security professionals to approach an alleged shoplifter.”


The statement added: “While acts of violence have increased across the country, we work closely with police departments to mitigate and address any threats of violence that may occur in and around our stores. The company also provides training to associates designed to protect their safety, including active shooter training.”


Some workers say companies are slow to act when they point out a potentially dangerous customer. Eden Hill, who works at a Fred Meyer supermarket in Richland, Wash., said colleagues had constantly warned management about a man who would spend hours in the store, talking especially to children. The store finally barred him, but “it took months,” Ms. Hill, 21, said.


Still, she said, she didn’t worry too much about her own safety until a man came into the store in February and shot and killed an Instacart worker and seriously injured a Fred Meyer employee.


After the shooting, Ms. Hill was so shaken that she needed colleagues to walk with her through the store. “I didn’t feel safe walking the floor anymore,” she said.


The grocery giant Kroger, which owns Fred Meyer, did not respond to requests for comment.


Some unions are demanding that retailers make official accommodations for employees who experience anxiety working with the public by finding them store roles where they don’t regularly interact with customers.

“My members are open targets,” Ms. Cordova said.


David Brokke, 30, who works in the produce department at a Fred Meyer in Bellingham, Wash., said that one of his tires was slashed in the store’s parking lot a few months ago, and that the gas lines of colleagues’ cars had been cut while they worked.


Mr. Brokke had to take a sick day to get his tire fixed, and the company didn’t compensate him for the damage, he said. “I felt disrespected,” he said. “I was doing work for them, and this happened in their parking lot, and they don’t protect us.”


Kyong Barry, a front-end manager at a Safeway in Auburn, Wash., has no qualms about confronting a rude customer, she said, but she’s deeply afraid of being caught in a mass shooting like the one in Buffalo last month.


“A lot of people are angry and frustrated and take it out on workers,” Ms. Barry said. “People are very touchy right now. There is something in the air. It is strange.”


She thinks the hands-off approach to shoplifting is leading to a broader breakdown. Ms. Barry, 59, who has been working in the grocery industry for more than 20 years and is a member of U.F.C.W. Local 3000, said she had recently noticed that regular customers were walking out the door without paying for items.


“It’s like a disease,” she said. “When there are no consequences, some people think: Why should I pay if others are not?”

Over the years, retailers have vacillated between taking a hard line on thieves and unruly customers and letting them go.


When Tony Sheppard started as a store detective for Montgomery Ward in Detroit in the 1990s, he carried handcuffs with him and had the authority to detain thieves. The next department store where he worked, in Boston, had a cell where he could lock up suspected transgressors.


“The industry took a hands-on approach back then,” said Mr. Sheppard, who is now a senior director at ThinkLP, a theft-prevention software firm. “But that could lead to legal issues if a suspect or a bystander got hurt.”


Punishments for retail theft have been eased over the past few decades in part to reduce incarceration rates. Many states now have a felony theft threshold of $1,000 or more, so even if a store reported a shoplifting case, some police departments wouldn’t be likely to make it a priority.


Retailers have tried imposing civil penalties on shoplifters, essentially threatening to sue them to cover the value of the stolen merchandise. But large companies like Walmart discontinued that practice after it was revealed that the retailers were hounding falsely accused customers.


The industry says it is putting much of its focus on stopping organized rings of thieves who resell stolen items online or on the street. They point to big cases like the recent indictment of dozens of people who are accused of stealing millions of dollars in merchandise from stores like Sephora, Bloomingdale’s and CVS.


But it’s not clear how much of the crime is organized. Matthew Fernandez, 49, who works at a King Soopers in Broomfield, Colo., said he was stunned when he watched a thief walk out with a cart full of makeup, laundry detergent and meat and drive off in a Mercedes-Benz S.U.V.

“The ones you think are going to steal are not the ones doing it,” he said. “From high class to low class, they are all doing it.”


Ms. Barry often gives money to the homeless people who come into her store, so they can buy food. She also knows the financial pressures on people with lower incomes as the cost of living soars.


When people steal, she said, the company can write off the loss. But those losses mean less money for workers.


“That is part of my raise and benefits that is walking out the door,” she said. “That is money we deserve.”


Ella Koeze contributed reporting.



8) Indictments in Flint Water Crisis Are Invalid, Michigan Supreme Court Finds

The cases against former Gov. Rick Snyder and other top officials were thrown into doubt by the ruling.

By Mitch Smith, June 28, 2022

Former Gov. Rick Snyder, center, walking out of the Genesee County Jail alongside his lawyer after a video arraignment on charges related to the Flint water crisis last year.
Former Gov. Rick Snyder, center, walking out of the Genesee County Jail alongside his lawyer after a video arraignment on charges related to the Flint water crisis last year. Credit...Jake May/The Flint Journal, via Associated Press

The Michigan Supreme Court said Tuesday that indictments against former top state officials over the Flint water crisis had been issued improperly, upending some of the highest-profile prosecutions in recent state history and leaving residents whose tap water turned toxic without any accountability in criminal court.


In bringing charges last year against Michigan officials, including former Gov. Rick Snyder, prosecutors said they had failed to protect the safety and health of Flint residents, who were sickened by increased levels of lead and by Legionnaires’ disease after the city’s water supply was switched to the Flint River in April 2014.


But prosecutors appointed by Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, relied on a one-man grand jury to issue indictments against Mr. Snyder, a Republican, and eight others, including the former state health director and the state’s former chief medical officer. The Supreme Court said Tuesday that single-person grand juries could not be used in that way.


Three defendants, not including Mr. Snyder, had challenged the use of the one-man grand jury, but the court’s decision also appeared likely to upset the prosecutions of the other defendants. An official in Ms. Nessel’s office said prosecutors were reviewing the decision. It was not clear whether they intended to pursue new charges.

At least nine people died of Legionnaires’ in the Flint region from June 2014 through October 2015. The water crisis, which resulted in elevated lead levels among thousands of people in Flint, has left countless families distrustful of the water supply, even as city officials insist that it is now safe to drink.


The charges brought by Ms. Nessel’s team were a second attempt at prosecuting officials for what had happened in Flint. Before Ms. Nessel took office, her Republican predecessor helped oversee cases against 15 state and local officials for crimes as serious as involuntary manslaughter. But Ms. Nessel’s team had those cases dismissed in 2019 before filing new charges against several of the same officials.

My NYT Comment:

Not a single word about the life-long damage of lead poisoning in thousands of children in Flint, and cities and towns across the country where the water is not safe! This gives City officials ad water companies free reign to poison with impunity! No Justice, No Peace! —Bonnie Weinstein




9) Gas Piped Into Homes Contains Benzene and Other Risky Chemicals, Study Finds

While the concentrations are low, the chemicals are potentially dangerous and some are linked to cancer risk, the researchers found.

By Elena Shao, June 28, 2022


For the study, researchers collected samples of unburned natural gas from kitchen stoves.

For the study, researchers collected samples of unburned natural gas from kitchen stoves. Credit...Brett Tryon

The natural gas delivered to homes contains low concentrations of several chemicals linked to cancer, a new study found. Researchers also found inconsistent levels of odorants — substances that give natural gas its characteristic “rotten egg” smell — which could increase the risk of small leaks going undetected.


The study, which was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, adds to a growing body of research that links the delivery and use of natural gas to detrimental consequences for public health and the climate.


Most prior research has documented the pollutants present where oil and gas extraction takes place, but there are “fewer studies as you work your way down the supply chain,” said Drew Michanowicz, the lead author of the study, looking at “where we actually use it, in our homes.”


Over 16 months, researchers led by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health collected 234 samples of unburned natural gas from 69 homes in the Boston metropolitan area that received natural gas from three suppliers. They found 21 “air toxics” — an Environmental Protection Agency classification of hazardous pollutants known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects or adverse environmental effects — including benzene, which was detected in 95 percent of the samples.


Short-term exposure to high levels of benzene in particular could lead to drowsiness, dizziness, headaches and irritation of the eyes and skin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Longer-term exposure can increase the risk of blood disorders and certain cancers like leukemia.


The highly flammable chemical is colorless or light yellow, and is found in products made from coal and oil including plastics, resins and nylon fibers, and also some types of rubbers, dyes and pesticides. It is also regularly found in vehicle exhaust, tobacco smoke and gasoline.


The concentrations of benzene that the researchers found in the natural gas samples were “much lower compared to the amount in gasoline,” Dr. Michanowicz said on Friday during a conference call with reporters. Even so, he said, the finding is concerning since “natural gas is used so widely in society and in our indoor spaces.”


Americans spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors, according to the E.P.A., where concentrations of some pollutants can range from two to five times as high as outdoor concentrations.

Benzene is a carcinogen, and exposure over time adds up, leading some experts to suggest that there is no safe level of exposure.


The researchers said that the goal of their study was to identify the presence and concentration of certain hazards, and that more research is needed to understand the health risks.


“The largest sources of benzene in most people’s lives are gasoline from cars and smoking,” said Rob Jackson, an earth scientist at Stanford University who did not work on the study. “On the other hand, any unnecessary benzene in your home is just too much.”


The unburned natural gas also contained inconsistent levels of odorants, or substances that give off a perceptible smell, the researchers said. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is odorless, so odorants are routinely added to help detect leaks.


“If there’s less odorant in the natural gas stream, there is a higher potential for larger leaks to exist without a smell to them,” Dr. Michanowicz said in the Friday call.


When released into the atmosphere unburned, methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas. It can warm the planet more than 80 times as much as the same amount of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Oil and gas companies have come under fire in recent years for often large-scale, invisible releases of methane.


Across the country, a growing number of cities are trying to phase out natural-gas hookups to homes and businesses in favor of electric alternatives, mostly citing the emissions impact of continuing to burn fossil fuels.

The new research suggests that natural gas leaks aren’t just releasing methane, but also air toxics that could be detrimental to public health, said Curtis Nordgaard, a pediatrician and study co-author. “We might want to rethink those leaks as not just a climate issue, but a health issue,” he said.


Dr. Nordgaard is a senior scientist at PSE Healthy Energy, a nonprofit research institute focused on the public health and climate effects of energy production, as is Dr. Michanowicz.


With this study, the researchers said they hoped to fill a gap in the availability and transparency of gas composition data. Pipeline operators and gas suppliers in the United States generally test the composition of gas, consistent with recommendations from the North American Energy Standards Board, an industry organization that sets standards for the natural gas and electricity marketplace.


However, the gas composition tests usually measure only the 16 most abundant constituents of natural gas. That list doesn’t include some of the components the researchers identified, like benzene.



10) Behind the Scenes, McKinsey Guided Companies at the Center of the Opioid Crisis

By Chris Hamby and Michael Forsythe, June 29, 2022

The reporters pored over a trove of more than 100,000 documents to investigate McKinsey’s unknown work for opioid makers.

The consulting firm offered clients “in-depth experience in narcotics,” from poppy fields to pills more powerful than Purdue’s OxyContin.


McKinsey, drawing on data analyses, made personality profiles of doctors to fuel opioid sales.

In patches of rural Appalachia and the Rust Belt, the health authorities were sounding alarms that a powerful painkiller called Opana had become the drug of choice among people abusing prescription pills.


It was twice as potent as OxyContin, the painkiller widely blamed for sparking the opioid crisis, and was relatively easy to dissolve and inject. By 2015, government investigations and scientific publications had linked its misuse to clusters of disease, including a rare and life-threatening blood disorder and an H.I.V. outbreak in Indiana.


Opana’s manufacturer, the pharmaceutical company Endo, had scaled back promotion of the drug. But months later, the company abruptly changed course, refocusing resources on the drug by assigning more sales representatives.


The push was known internally as the Sales Force Blitz — and it was conducted with consultants at McKinsey & Company, who had been hired by Endo to provide marketing advice about its chronic-pain medicines and other products.


The untold story of McKinsey’s work for Endo was among the revelations found by The New York Times in a repository of more than 100,000 documents obtained by a coalition of state attorneys general in a legal settlement related to McKinsey’s opioid work.


Much has been disclosed over the years about McKinsey’s relationship with Purdue Pharma, including the consulting firm’s recommendation that the drug maker “turbocharge” its sales of OxyContin. But The Times found that the firm played a far deeper and broader role in advising clients involved in the opioid crisis than was publicly disclosed.


The newly released McKinsey records include more than 15 years of emails, slide presentations, spreadsheets, proposals and other documents. They provide a sweeping and detailed depiction of a firm that became a trusted adviser to companies at the core of an epidemic that has claimed half a million American lives.


While the firm held remarkable sway at Purdue, it also advised the largest manufacturer of generic opioids, Mallinckrodt. It worked with Endo on marketing Opana and helped it grow into a leading generics manufacturer. It advised Johnson & Johnson, whose subsidiary Tasmanian Alkaloids was the largest supplier of the raw materials extracted from poppies used to make many top-selling opioids. Then, as the full brunt of the epidemic became apparent, it counseled government agencies on how to address the fallout.


McKinsey’s opioid clients already wanted to grow their businesses. What the firm offered was know-how and sophistication, the documents show, and, as it noted in one presentation, “in-depth experience in narcotics.”


The Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, who helped craft the settlement, said in a statement that “as Americans were dying from the opioid epidemic, McKinsey was trading on its reputation and connections to make the crisis worse.” She added that the newly released documents “expose McKinsey’s role in the opioid crisis and will inform policymakers’ efforts to prevent this from happening again.”


Drawing on reams of data and proprietary tools, McKinsey vetted deals and advised on corporate strategy. It developed tactics for dealing with regulators and helped secure approval for new products.


The firm helped clients adopt more aggressive sales strategies, which, on at least two occasions, led companies to shift resources to more potent products. It profiled and targeted physicians, in some instances trying to influence prescribing habits in ways that federal officials later warned heightened the risk of overdose.


And when opioid prescriptions began to decrease during a government crackdown, the records show, McKinsey devised new approaches to drive sales.


McKinsey agreed to provide the documents to the attorneys general last year as part of a nearly $600 million settlement in which it admitted no wrongdoing. The firm has since apologized for its advice to opioid makers but, in a statement on Wednesday, suggested that its work with companies other than Purdue was “much more limited” and that it “did not counsel or recommend to Endo that it promote Opana more aggressively.”


“We recognize the terrible consequences of the opioid epidemic and have acknowledged our role in serving opioid manufacturers,” said a McKinsey spokesman. “We stopped that work in 2019, have apologized for it and have been focused on being part of the solution.”


An Endo spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s work with McKinsey, citing litigation. She instead referred to a company statement saying that in September 2016 Endo had “stopped promoting opioid products to health care professionals” and eliminated its opioid-focused sales force.


Mallinckrodt declined to comment. Johnson & Johnson, in a statement, maintained that all its actions were appropriate, while Purdue said that it was focused on ending bankruptcy proceedings so it could reorganize into a new, more “public-minded” company that would “deliver billions of dollars of value” toward abating the opioid crisis and compensating victims.


‘Opana Patients’


Dr. Steven Butler, a kidney specialist serving a largely rural stretch of East Tennessee, helped with an unusual case in fall 2012. A woman in her 20s had arrived at the Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport with an array of symptoms — she was anemic, and her kidneys appeared to be failing — that resembled a rare blood disorder.


A few days later, another patient with similar symptoms arrived at the hospital. Then a third. Dr. Butler called the Tennessee Department of Health, which launched an investigation. Over the following months, more patients appeared.


As they underwent time-consuming treatments, some acknowledged they had dissolved and injected a pill whose name Dr. Butler had never heard before: Opana ER.


“Locally, it became a very well-described phenomenon,” he recalled. “They were just called ‘Opana patients,’ as though that was a real common thing.”


The tangled path that led to Opana’s rise illustrates McKinsey’s deep involvement in the opioid business, with its work for one client rippling out with consequences for others.


Years earlier, the firm had helped usher the drug onto the market, advising Endo’s partner, Penwest Pharmaceuticals, on its launch in 2006. Two years later, the documents show, McKinsey performed a project for Purdue that paved the way for Endo to extend Opana’s reach.


Purdue was seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a new version of OxyContin that would be more difficult to snort or inject. After the F.D.A. denied its application in 2008, Purdue enlisted McKinsey’s help. The consultants interviewed a former drug dealer about OxyContin abuse, oversaw scientific studies, prepared regulatory documents and coached company officials on how to deal with the F.D.A., which had been a McKinsey client. The agency gave its approval in 2010, and later allowed Purdue to claim the new pills were resistant to abuse.


Soon, OxyContin sales declined — while Opana sales rose. In an internal document, Endo attributed the uptick in part to “patient dissatisfaction with new OxyContin formulation.” Data on abuse showed similar trends: a decline for OxyContin and a rise for Opana.


Endo later developed a new version of Opana it wanted to promote as abuse-resistant. The F.D.A. found that the new pills “demonstrated a minimal improvement in resistance to tampering by crushing,” and that they were “readily abusable” by injection. The agency allowed the drug to enter the market in early 2012, but without being labeled as resistant to abuse.


Within months, Dr. Butler saw his first Opana patient. In October 2012, both the F.D.A. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out health alerts about the blood syndrome. Then another cluster appeared, in North Carolina, and other cases in Arkansas, Florida, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.


To make matters worse, according to the F.D.A., the new version of Opana drove many users to switch from snorting to injecting, considered a riskier form of abuse. The likely cause of the blood disorder, researchers determined, was the very substance that Endo had added to make the pills harder to crush. When dissolved and injected, it could trigger rapid red blood cell destruction and organ damage.


As concerns about Opana grew, Endo hired a new chief executive in 2013: Rajiv De Silva, a former leader within McKinsey’s pharmaceutical practice who soon tapped the firm to help chart a growth strategy.


A few months after Mr. De Silva took over, McKinsey helped Endo execute a complicated maneuver known as a “tax inversion” — a legal form of tax avoidance that the Obama administration would decry as an “abuse” of the system. For tax purposes, the Pennsylvania company was now based in Ireland, where the rate was substantially lower.


The move, which sent Endo’s stock price climbing, was “a tax play to set up doing a lot of deals,” according to a 2014 email from a McKinsey partner named Dr. Arnab Ghatak, who also helped lead the firm’s work with Purdue.


Endo went on a buying spree and would soon become one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of generic opioids.


‘The Narcotics Franchise’


The production of pills by companies like Endo and Purdue depended on a complex and tightly regulated global supply chain stretching from the fields of Tasmania to factories in the American heartland.


Here, too, was McKinsey.


Long before a patient in the United States filled a prescription for OxyContin, a farmer on another continent harvested a poppy rich in a substance called thebaine. Tasmanian Alkaloids, the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, controlled the majority of this market.


From far-flung fields and extraction facilities, the raw materials made their way to American processing plants. The top U.S. producers at this stage were another Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Noramco, and Mallinckrodt, the big generics manufacturer.


The documents reveal McKinsey’s work advising them behind the scenes. By the firm’s own account, it had deep expertise in the international trade of legal narcotics. “We serve the majority of the leading players,” the consultants wrote in a 2009 memo.


That year, the firm oversaw a project for Johnson & Johnson titled “Maximizing the Value of the Narcotics Franchise.” In a presentation set against an image of a poppy field, the consultants advised the company on how it could invest to further strengthen its already-dominant position or sell the business if the price was right.


For Mallinckrodt, McKinsey consultants walked factory floors and monitored production data, recommending how the company might coax greater yields from the same base of raw materials and speed up manufacturing lines.


In 2016, McKinsey prepared Mallinckrodt for negotiations with companies that sourced generic drugs for Walmart and CVS, and advised on dealing with the Drug Enforcement Administration. The D.E.A. had set production limits to prevent an oversupply of pills, and McKinsey counseled Mallinckrodt on how it could use logistical tactics to secure a higher quota while maintaining a “friendly relationship” with the agency.


“To suggest this work was intended to undermine relevant laws or regulations would be false,” the McKinsey spokesman said.


McKinsey consultants also took jobs at the opioid manufacturers themselves. A partner in the firm’s pharmaceutical practice, Frank Scholz, became Mallinckrodt’s senior vice president of global operations in 2014 and later was promoted to president of its generics business.


But it was the arrival of Mr. De Silva at Endo that brought a particular opportunity for McKinsey. In late 2014, the company asked the consultants to provide advice on structuring the company’s sales force. This soon evolved into a more detailed project in an area where McKinsey excelled: how to dispatch hundreds of sales representatives to maximum effect.


Shifting to Offense


McKinsey had a playbook for seemingly any problem a pharmaceutical company might face, from production snags to generic competition to inquisitive regulators. But the firm had a particular penchant for sales and marketing.


In the years leading up to its work on Opana, McKinsey had built increasingly powerful tools for getting the right messages in front of the right physicians, and the firm had honed them in numerous opioid-marketing projects, including two for Johnson & Johnson.


While the broad strokes of these efforts have been known, the documents provide an unprecedented look inside McKinsey’s tool kit. The records related to the firm’s work for Purdue are particularly detailed, providing insight into the strategies that consultants used for other companies.


In 2009, the firm recommended a technique known as segmentation. The best marketing campaigns — whether for food, cars or electronics — divided consumers into segments based on how they acted and thought, then developed tailored messages to win them over, the consultants said.


In Purdue’s case, the customer was a physician with a license to prescribe controlled substances, and the product was OxyContin.


The consultants interviewed dozens of physicians and solicited the views of hundreds more in a survey. Four groups of doctors emerged, each with a distinct profile. The consultants then developed messages to appeal to each group’s practical and emotional needs.


McKinsey identified a particular opportunity in doctors who were hesitant to prescribe OxyContin because of worries about abuse, addiction and possible scrutiny from the D.E.A. These physicians often tried to treat chronic pain with less powerful drugs.


Persuading them to switch to OxyContin could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, McKinsey advised. To do this, McKinsey proposed tactics to “raise physician comfort levels through appropriate education and support.” Sales representatives, McKinsey said, should reassure doctors that many of their colleagues prescribed OxyContin and that the drug need not be reserved for extreme pain.


In 2014, the F.D.A. introduced new labeling requirements for OxyContin and similar opioids, limiting their use to cases of severe chronic pain in which less risky treatments had proved ineffective. But McKinsey’s strategy had long since been rolled out.


Another McKinsey approach, known as targeting, tried to identify doctors who would provide the greatest return on sales representatives’ time.


Purdue, dissatisfied with dipping OxyContin sales in 2013, had enlisted McKinsey’s help. Revenues were down, the consultants advised, in large part because of government actions to tamp down the opioid epidemic. Doctors were writing prescriptions for fewer tablets and lower doses, and wholesalers and pharmacies were imposing new controls.


McKinsey recommended a more aggressive response than the one Purdue’s vice president for sales and marketing, Russell Gasdia, had been pursuing. Mr. Gasdia had accepted that OxyContin revenue was dropping in part “due to less abuse,” one McKinsey consultant wrote, and he was focused on promoting a less potent opioid.


McKinsey called for a shift “to offense”: Purdue needed physicians to start new patients on OxyContin. Drawing on an array of data — more than just a list of high prescribers, which had been the focus of Purdue and other drug companies — the consultants identified specific doctors to target.


In a statement, McKinsey said that this advice pertained to the reformulated OxyContin, which “was believed to be a safer version of the product.”


Purdue’s board endorsed the plan, and soon Mr. Gasdia stepped down as head of sales and marketing. In an internal self-assessment, Dr. Ghatak, the McKinsey partner who helped lead its Purdue business, basked in the firm’s success.


“Overall,” he wrote, “we are now deeply involved in nearly every facet of the company.”


An Outbreak and a Blitz


When a cluster of H.I.V. cases appeared in a small southeastern Indiana community in 2015, it didn’t take the C.D.C. long to identify the cause. Most of the patients had injected Opana.


The governor declared a public health emergency, and the list of those infected eventually surpassed 180.


Disease often followed incidents of injecting opioids, but Opana posed a higher risk, the C.D.C. later determined. When injected, it was 10 times as potent as morphine. The high was intense but short-lived, and the withdrawal was particularly agonizing. As a result, users injected more frequently.


And because Opana commanded a high street price, users often split pills, shared equipment and shot up multiple times in one sitting. It was a recipe for what a C.D.C.-led research team called “explosive transmission.”


If any of this caused alarm among the McKinsey consultants working for Endo, their presentations did not reflect it.


In summer 2015, McKinsey helped launch the “Sales Force Blitz,” which the firm said in a statement applied to a range of Endo’s products. “The small portion of our work that concerned Opana was done at the client’s request,” the spokesman said, “not by our recommendation.”


While the company had pulled back its marketing of the painkiller, McKinsey now advised it on how to do the opposite, emails and presentations show, by reallocating sale representatives from a migraine drug to Opana.


A consultant, Sherin Ijaz, expressed her excitement in an email to the head of Endo’s pain business unit, John Harlow. The next step “is to identify the sweet spot of docs so we can do targeting,” she wrote, adding that the “fun” begins “on Monday!”


“Agreed,” Mr. Harlow replied, “and the fun is just beginning!”


When two Endo executives proposed shifting some sales calls to promote the company’s arthritis gel, McKinsey was opposed. Doing so would be a distraction “at a time when we want to drive Opana,” wrote another McKinsey consultant, Nicholas Mills.


Ultimately, the consultants directed Endo to focus on more than 3,000 additional physicians with promotional messages about Opana.


In 2017, less than two years later, the F.D.A. took the rare step of demanding that Endo pull Opana from the market, citing the grave public health consequences of its abuse. The company complied.


Over the five years from the appearance of the blood-disease cluster in Tennessee to the drug’s withdrawal from the market, the painkiller had brought in more than $844 million in revenue, according to corporate filings.


In Indiana, law enforcement officials broke up a drug-trafficking ring in 2016. One man admitted obtaining Opana in Detroit and selling it in bulk to a dealer. He was sentenced to six years in prison.


“Health care, the schools, the welfare department, the whole thing is crumbling because of drugs, drugs that you helped make available,” said the judge in the case, scolding him.


“You’re not responsible for all of that, of course, but you did your part.”


‘Opioid Crisis Is Horrible’


In June 2017, Tom Latkovic rose to speak at a health care conference in Chicago sponsored by his employer, McKinsey.


“I start today by asking, ‘Why do we continue to prescribe, dispense, pay for opioid prescriptions to people that we know, or at least we could know, have an incredibly high propensity to abuse them?’”


Mr. Latkovic, a senior partner, was not a member of McKinsey’s pharmaceutical practice. Instead, his team focused on using data analysis tools to address complex health care problems, and it had increasingly homed in on the opioid epidemic.


In the hopes of broadening this work, Mr. Latkovic told the audience, “We are launching a new center focused on opioids and insights.”


The client list for the new venture came to include state governments, insurers and health systems. One of McKinsey’s more ambitious efforts was in Philadelphia, a city that had one of the highest death rates in the country from opioid overdoses.


In 2019, consultants spent almost two months working with the city government, according to two people who were local officials at the time. Both praised McKinsey’s work, which came at no cost to the city but was later shelved after Covid-19.


Yet as Mr. Latkovic’s team tried to combat the opioid epidemic, the firm did not stop serving the company often blamed for sparking it, Purdue. And on at least two occasions, the documents show, drafts of publications prepared by Mr. Latkovic’s team were given to consultants for pharmaceutical clients to review. The purpose, a manager in the pharmaceutical practice wrote, was to assess “whether this could create any waves on social media or from journalists that could be harmful to our Pharma clients.”


As negative news coverage and lawsuits against Purdue mounted, some of the consultants fretted internally that scrutiny might extend to McKinsey.


In 2019, around the time of the Philadelphia project, McKinsey decided to stop advising companies on opioids — after the firm’s 15-year relationship with Purdue became public as part of a court filing by the Massachusetts attorney general’s office. Since Mr. Latkovic’s 2017 speech, McKinsey had collected $7.8 million in fees from Purdue, the documents show.


The disclosure that McKinsey had advised Purdue led to debate within the firm. “We may not have done anything wrong, but did we ask ourselves what the negative consequences of the work we were doing was, and how it could be minimized?” one consultant wrote.


Dr. Ghatak, a driving force behind McKinsey’s work for Purdue and Endo, found himself in the spotlight. Much as he had done for pharmaceutical executives, he crafted talking points, this time for himself.


“Opioid crisis is horrible,” he wrote. “Acknowledge that up front.” But by advising clients to develop products that would be more difficult to abuse, “we were directly working on a solution to a public health crisis, not a silver bullet but definitely a solution.”


In 2020, documents released as part of a Purdue legal case indicated that Dr. Ghatak and another consultant, Martin Elling, had discussed destroying records. McKinsey soon fired them.


The firm settled with the state attorneys general in early 2021, and the documents it turned over are housed in an archive managed by the University of California, San Francisco, and Johns Hopkins University.


Some of McKinsey’s former clients faced potentially crushing damages in court. Purdue filed for bankruptcy protection in 2019, and Mallinckrodt did the same the following year. Johnson & Johnson had previously sold its narcotics business to a private investment firm and has settled a number of lawsuits related to its marketing of opioids, which the company said in a statement was “appropriate and responsible.”


Endo has also floated the possibility of bankruptcy amid a wave of litigation over its marketing of opioids, especially Opana. The company said in a regulatory filing that it had received a subpoena in 2020 from the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Virginia, which years earlier had won guilty pleas from Purdue executives. This time, according to Endo’s disclosure, the office wanted information on McKinsey.



11) 1955 Arrest Warrant in Emmett Till Case Is Found in Court Basement

The document charges the woman whose accusations led to the Black teenager’s murder with his kidnapping. The warrant was never served — and she is still alive.

By Alex Traub, June 30, 2022

Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi in 1955 by two white men who were later acquitted.

Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi in 1955 by two white men who were later acquitted.

Credit...Batemann/Getty Images

A team of researchers including relatives of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black boy who was abducted and murdered in Mississippi in 1955, has discovered an unserved arrest warrant for the white woman whose accusations led to his gruesome death.


The document was found last week in the basement of a courthouse in Greenwood, Miss. It does not constitute major new evidence in the case, which horrified but galvanized Black Americans at the time and helped lead to the civil rights movement.


But those still working on Emmett’s behalf said that the discovery added to their understanding of the legal drama surrounding his death, and that they hoped it would provide a basis for a new investigation. The woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, was never charged in the case. She is now in her 80s and was living in North Carolina as recently as May, according to public records. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Ms. Donham was married to Roy Bryant at the time of the killing. Mr. Bryant and his half brother J. W. Milam murdered Emmett days after the teenager was said to have whistled at Ms. Donham during an encounter at the couple’s store. The two white men were acquitted by an all-white jury but later confessed to the killing. They have since died.

The newly discovered warrant, issued by the sheriff of Leflore County, Miss., and dated Aug. 29, 1955, charges the two men and Ms. Donham, identified as Mrs. Roy Bryant, with Emmett’s kidnapping. The current clerk of the Leflore County Circuit Court, Elmus Stockstill, certified its authenticity.


An affidavit attached to the warrant says that the three did “willfully, unlawfully and feloniously and without lawful authority, forcibly seize and confine and kidnap Emmitt Lewis Tell,” misspelling the boy’s surname and his middle name, Louis.


A note on the back of the warrant signed by a local sheriff says Ms. Donham was not arrested because she was not located in the county at the time, said Keith A. Beauchamp, a filmmaker who directed a 2005 documentary about the killing and helped find the warrant.

He called the discovery “a jackpot” and wrote in a text message to The New York Times: “I hope that the authorities will do the job they were suppose to do in 1955.”

Although the document does not appear to have been rescinded, experts said it was unlikely that Ms. Donham would be arrested based solely on the warrant.


“Relying upon a 67-year-old warrant, while it’s an interesting academic exercise, I think would be unsound police work,” Ronald J. Rychlak, a law professor at the University of Mississippi and an expert in criminal procedure and Mississippi criminal trial practice, said in an interview. “Why would you rely on a 67-year-old warrant if you think you have the cause today to justify it?”


Efforts to revive the case by the Justice Department foundered in 2007 and again last year, when federal officials said there was not enough evidence to pursue charges. The case had been reopened after a historian said in a 2017 book that Ms. Donham had recanted parts of her accusations against Emmett, including that he had grabbed her and made sexually suggestive remarks.


In a 1956 article in Look magazine, Mr. Bryant and Mr. Milam confessed to killing Emmett. Ms. Donham later divorced Mr. Bryant, who died in 1994. Mr. Milam died in 1980.


Mr. Beauchamp, the documentary filmmaker, has researched the case for decades, and started scouring the courthouse this year for records that pertained to the kidnapping. He was joined by Melissa Earnest, a criminal justice student; Deborah Watts, a cousin of Emmett’s who leads the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation; Ms. Watts’s daughter Teri; and the Till family’s lawyer, Jaribu Hill.


The group visited the courthouse on June 21 and, to their shock, found the warrant.


“There were a lot of tears in the room,” Mr. Beauchamp said.

Emmett Till was born in 1941 in Chicago, where he grew up. He was an only child, nicknamed Bobo, and lived with his mother and other relatives in a middle-class Black neighborhood.


His encounter with Ms. Donham occurred in August 1955 while he was staying with relatives in the Mississippi Delta. During a visit to Mr. Bryant and Ms. Donham’s store, he bought bubble gum and passed the money into Ms. Donham’s hand instead of leaving it on the counter, as white Mississippians generally expected Black people to do at the time. Ms. Donham later testified that she went to get a pistol, and one of Emmett’s cousins, who was with him, said Emmett then whistled at Ms. Donham. Emmett, the cousin and a friend quickly left.


Days later, Mr. Bryant and Mr. Milam responded by abducting Emmett from bed at his relatives’ home at night. They tortured him, shot him, tied a 75-pound fan from a cotton gin around his neck and tossed his body into the Tallahatchie River. When he was found, he was unrecognizable, with a crushed skull and a disfigured face.


Photographs of his body published in Jet magazine and an open-casket funeral in Chicago rocked the nation. Weeks later, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala., another seminal moment in the civil rights movement.


Years later, when asked why she refused to move to the back of the bus, she answered, “I thought of Emmett Till and I couldn’t go back.”


Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.