Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, August 16, 2022



We demand that ALL "illegal abortion" charges against Madison County, Nebraska women be dropped


In Madison County, Nebraska, two women- one the mother of a pregnant teenager who was a minor at the time of her pregnancy and is being charged as an adult- are facing prosecution for self managing an abortion. In an outrageous violation of civil liberties, Facebook assisted the police and county attorney in this case by turning over communication between the daughter and her mother regarding obtaining abortion pills which is not illegal in Nebraska. The prosecutor has used this information to charge the daughter, her mother, and a male friend who assisted them after the fact with illegal abortion along with additional trumped up charges of "concealing a body."


We demand that ALL charges be dropped against all three of them and we ask that you call the office of Madison County Attorney Joseph Smith at 402-454-3311 Ext. 206 with the following:


"I am calling to demand that all charges against Jessica Burgess, her daughter, and their friend be dropped. In your own words- no charges like this have ever been brought before. That is because criminalizing abortion is unjust and unconstitutional. We will not stand for any charges being brought against any pregnant person for the outcome of their pregnancy OR anyone who assists that pregnant person. Drop all charges NOW."


You can also email County Attorney Smith here.


If you pledged to #AidAndAbetAbortion- NOW is the time to stand up for these women in Nebraska as this could be any of us in the future.


About NWL


National Women's Liberation (NWL) is a multiracial feminist group for women who want to fight male supremacy and gain more freedom for women. Our priorities are abortion and birth control, overthrowing the double day, and feminist consciousness-raising.


NWL meetings are for women and tranpeople who do not benefit from male supremacy because we believe we should lead the fight for our liberation. In addition, women of color meet separately from white women in Women of Color Caucus (WOCC) meetings to examine their experiences with white supremacy and how it intersects with male supremacy to oppress women of color.


Learn more at womensliberation.org.


Questions? Email nwl@womensliberation.org for more info.



No to red-baiting in the reproductive justice movement


National Radical Women statement 

By Nga Bui, NYC


At a time when a united mass movement to defend reproductive justice is needed more than ever, NYC for Abortion Rights and nearly two dozen organizations have chosen to launch an anti-communist attack against one of the most visible activist groups, Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights.  Radical Women, a veteran socialist feminist organization with decades of experience in the movement for reproductive justice, denounces this dangerous game of divide and conquer.


The “Statement Against RiseUp4AbortionRights” – signed by NYC for Abortion Rights, United Against Racism & Fascism NYC, Brooklyn People’s March, Shout Your Abortion, The Jane Fund, Chicago Abortion Fund, Chicago DSA Socialist Feminist Working Group and others – deplores Rise Up’s connections to the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). It labels this well-known fixture on the Left as a personality cult. It accuses both Rise Up and RCP of using pyramid schemes to raise money and exploitative methods to recruit.  These unsubstantiated claims are bolstered by other “crimes”: wearing white pants stained with fake blood, holding die-ins, using coat-hanger imagery, and describing forced pregnancy as “female enslavement.” The Statement calls on “repro groups to now unite in discrediting Rise Up publicly” and demand that “the group step back from pro-abortion spaces.” This divisive attack is like a dog-whistle to corporate media, which is crawling all over the issue in coverage from Daily Beast and The Intercept.


Imperfect as Rise Up may be, the reality is the group has been out front nationally in defense of abortion – though not the only group as they have claimed. It has consistently organized protests and used audacious tactics such as unfurling huge banners at sports events to draw media attention to the issue. It has broadened its messaging after being criticized that its single-issue focus on women having abortions was transphobic and limiting. Its green wave imagery is omnipresent and its anti-capitalist message is spot-on. Its boldness has resonated with youth.


Truth be told, it has been largely the Left, including Radical Women, that organized rallies, speak outs, marches, and protests throughout last year to draw attention to the impending Supreme Court debacle. Meanwhile, moderate feminist organizations pushed online fundraising and waited for the Democratic Party to ride to the rescue.


One has to think that some of the venom expressed in the Statement is from groups that did much less than Rise Up and may begrudge its appeal to young people. Others may be driven to undermine the influence of the Left in the movement overall. How condescending it is for them to demand that Rise Up disappear rather than trust young supporters to reach their own conclusions about whether Rise Up’s strategies work in the long run.  


Radical Women initiated the National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice a year ago in order to build the kind of coalition effort we think is urgently needed to preserve abortion and achieve full reproductive justice. The Mobilization has attracted feminist groups, grassroots organizations, unions, radicals, and individuals coming together in common cause. Though Rise Up in many instances put itself in competition with actions announced by the Mobilization, we managed to work cooperatively with it in various cities, including in NYC. Rather than demanding political conformity, we believe in respectfully debating differences. With the right wing intensifying its attacks on the most vulnerable, a united front of working-class organizations is essential to pushing them back.


Red-baiting, smearing people or groups for their radical associations, is not acceptable in the movement. It needs to be stopped before it further hurts the very women, people of color, non-binary, trans and poor folks looking to find a channel for their rage as their rights are stripped away. There’s no denying that those of us fighting for abortion rights and reproductive justice will have differences of opinions. It is essential we learn to work together with mutual respect instead of excluding, silencing and witch-hunting one another. Organizations and independent activists can unite around issues while maintaining our differences. The future of reproductive justice and all social movements depends on it.







The unprecedented massive fire at the Supertanker Base in Matanzas province has not abated. Dozens of people have suffered burns, 16 firefighters are still missing, and thousands are evacuated. Heroic efforts by firefighters and civil defense are 24/7.


Supplies are urgently needed to save the lives of the burn and other victims affected by the fire. The Hatuey Project is working to provide some of the most critical supplies for burn and other patients.


Please make a monetary donation so we can buy medical items in bulk and ship immediately to Matanzas.


Cuba has been through so much during the time of pandemic. Despite a heroic and successful campaign to vaccinate virtually all of Cuba from COVID, this summer has been particularly taxing for all of Cuba. Now the fire has added to the hardship.


Please click here to make a donation to The Hatuey Project for Matanzas Relief. Every donation to Hatuey is tax-deductible through our fiscal sponsor, The Alliance for Global Justice.


On behalf of The Hatuey Project, we thank you.


Nadia Marsh, MD, Assoc. Prof. of Clinical Medicine

Simon Ma, MD, MPH, Family Medicine

Rachel Viqueira, MHS, Epidemiologist

Brian Becker, Executive Director, ANSWER Coalition

Gloria La Riva, coordinator, Hatuey Project




We are health providers and social justice activists concerned about the harmful effects of the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba. We have inaugurated this medical aid project to extend solidarity to the Cuban people, with the procurement of vital medicines and medical equipment.


Cuba has already shown that its remarkable health care and scientific/biotech systems are fully capable of serving the 11+ million people on the island, providing excellent quality, universal and free care to everyone. But more than 240 measures by the Trump administration that turned the screws even further on Cuba’s people — in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — have created a truly difficult situation for the people. We have already taken part in direct delivery of vital medicines over the last year, and we aim to do much more.


We invite you to join in our project in any way you can: With your monetary contribution, as well as helping procure major donations from pharmaceuticals and other medical providers. We are fully volunteer; all of the donations we receive will go strictly to acquire medical aid. Shipping costs will be held to the utmost minimum. The Hatuey Project is fiscally sponsored by the Alliance For Global Justice, so all donations are tax-deductible. Join our effort today!




Waging Peace Exhibit In San Francisco 


Veterans Gallery, San Francisco

June 29 – August 14, 2022

1:00-6:00 P.M.

Veterans Building

401 Van Ness Ave., Suite. 102 

San Francisco, CA







Donkey Punch, Mr. Fish




The Rock, Bernal Hill, San Francisco








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”



The Moment

By Margaret Atwood*


The moment when, after many years 

of hard work and a long voyage 

you stand in the centre of your room, 

house, half-acre, square mile, island, country, 

knowing at last how you got there, 

and say, I own this, 


is the same moment when the trees unloose 

their soft arms from around you, 

the birds take back their language, 

the cliffs fissure and collapse, 

the air moves back from you like a wave 

and you can't breathe. 


No, they whisper. You own nothing. 

You were a visitor, time after time 

climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming. 

We never belonged to you. 

You never found us. 

It was always the other way round.


*Witten by the woman who wrote a novel about Christian fascists taking over the U.S. and enslaving women. Prescient!



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) Is Cricket Sustainable Amid Climate Change?

The warming of the earth, combined with the exhausting nature of the game, is raising questions about the future of the second most popular sport in the world.

By Jeré Longman and Karan Deep Singh, Aug. 4, 2022

Jeré Longman reported from Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; and Karan Deep Singh from New Delhi.

England’s Ben Stokes walked past his teammate Jos Buttler after losing his wicket.

England’s Ben Stokes walked past his teammate Jos Buttler after losing his wicket. Credit...Lee Smith/Action Images Via Reuters

The joke is that if you want it to rain during this wetter-than-usual summer in the Caribbean, just start a cricket match.


Beneath the humor is seemingly tacit agreement with the assertion in a 2018 climate report that of all the major outdoor sports that rely on fields, or pitches, “cricket will be hardest hit by climate change.”


By some measures, cricket is the world’s second most popular sport, behind soccer, with two billion to three billion fans. And it is most widely embraced in countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and South Africa and in the West Indies, which are also among the places most vulnerable to the intense heat, rain, flooding, drought, hurricanes, wildfires and sea level rise linked to human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases.


Cricket in developed nations like England and Australia has also been affected as heat waves become hotter, more frequent and longer lasting. Warm air can hold more moisture, resulting in heavier rainstorms. Twenty of the 21 warmest years recorded have occurred since 2000.


This year, the sport has faced the hottest spring on the Indian subcontinent in more than a century of record keeping and the hottest day ever in Britain. In June, when the West Indies — a combined team from mainly English-speaking countries in the Caribbean — arrived to play three matches in Multan, Pakistan, the temperature reached 111 degrees Fahrenheit, above average even for one of the hottest places on earth.


“It honestly felt like you were opening an oven,” said Akeal Hosein, 29, of the West Indies, who with his teammates wore ice vests during breaks in play.


Heat is hardly the only concern for cricket players. Like the roughly similar pitching and batting sport of baseball, cricket cannot easily be played in the rain. In July, the West Indies abandoned a match in Dominica and shortened others in Guyana and Trinidad because of rain and waterlogged fields.


An eight-match series between the West Indies and India concludes Saturday and Sunday in South Florida as the height of hurricane season approaches in the Gulf and the Atlantic. In 2017, two Category 5 storms, Irma and Maria, damaged cricket stadiums in five countries in the Caribbean.


Matches can last up to five days. Even one-day matches can extend in blistering conditions for seven hours or more. While rain cleared July 22 for the 9:30 a.m. opening of the West Indies-India series in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, players still had to contend with eight hours of sun at Queen’s Park Oval in temperatures that reached the low 90s with 60-plus percent humidity.


According to a 2019 report on cricket and climate change, a professional batsman playing over a day can generate heat equivalent to running a marathon. While marathon runners help dissipate heat by wearing shorts and singlets, in cricket the wearing of pads, gloves and a helmet restricts the ability to evaporate sweat in hot, humid conditions often lacking shade.


“It’s pretty evident that travel plans are being disrupted because of weather conditions, along with the scheduling of matches, because of rainfall, smoke, pollution, dust and heat,” said Daren Ganga, 43, a commentator and former West Indies captain who studies the impact of climate change on sport in affiliation with the University of the West Indies.


“Action needs to be taken for us to manage this situation,” Ganga said, “because I think we’ve gone beyond the tipping point in some areas. We still have the opportunity to pull things back in other areas.”


The International Cricket Council, the sport’s governing body, has not yet signed on to a United Nations sports and climate initiative. Its goal is for global sports organizations to reduce their carbon footprint to net-zero emissions by 2050 and to inspire the public to consider the issue urgently. While Australia has implemented heat guidelines, and more water breaks are generally permitted during matches, there is no global policy for play in extreme weather. The cricket council did not respond to a request for comment.


“This is like stick your head in the sand denial,” David Goldblatt, the British author of a 2020 report on sport and climate change, said of the council. “Cricket really needs to get its act together. A whole bunch of trouble is not really far away.”


A suggestion in the 2019 climate report that players be allowed to wear shorts instead of trousers to keep cool in excessive heat may seem like a common-sense idea. But it has not gone over well with the starchy customs of international cricket or seemingly with many players, who say their legs would be even more susceptible to brush burns and bruises from sliding and diving on hard fields.


“My two knees are already gone,” said India’s Yuzvendra Chahal, who is 32.


Still, questions are being raised inside the sport and out about the sustainability of cricket amid the extremes of climate and the exhausting scheduling of various formats of the game. The English star Ben Stokes retired on July 19 from the one-day international format, saying, “We are not cars where you can fill us up with petrol and let us go.”


Coincidentally, Stokes’s retirement came as Britain recorded its hottest day ever, with temperatures rising for the first time above 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. As climate scientists said such heat could become the new normal, England hosted a daylong cricket match with South Africa in the modestly cooler northeastern city of Durham. Extra water breaks, ice packs and beach-style umbrellas were employed to keep the players cool. Even with those precautions, Matthew Potts of England left the match, exhausted.


Aiden Markram of South Africa was photographed with an ice bag on his head and another on his neck, his face in apparent distress, as if he had been in a heavyweight fight. Some fans were reported to have fainted or sought medical attention, while many others scrambled for thin slices of shade.


On June 9, South Africa also endured taxing conditions when it faced India in the heat, humidity and pollution of New Delhi. The heat index was 110 degrees Fahrenheit for an evening match. A section of the stadium was transformed into a cooling zone for spectators, with curtains, chairs and misting fans attached to plastic tubs of water.


“We are used to it,” said Shikhar Dhawan, 36, one of India’s captains. “I don’t really focus on the heat because if I start thinking about it too much I will start feeling it more.”


In India, cricket players are as popular as Bollywood actors. Even in sauna-like conditions, more than 30,000 spectators attended the match in New Delhi. “It feels great. Who cares about the heat?” said Saksham Mehndiratta, 17, attending his first match with his father since the coronavirus pandemic began.


After watching some spectacular batting, his father, Naresh, said, “This chills me down.”


South Africa, though, was taking no chances after a tour of India in 2015, when eight players and two members of the coaching and support staff were hospitalized in the southern city of Chennai by what officials said were the combined effects of food poisoning and heat exhaustion.


“It was mayhem,” said Craig Govender, a physiotherapist for the South African team.


For South Africa’s recent tour, Govender took along inflatable tubs to cool players’ feet; electrolyte capsules for mealtimes; slushies of ice and magnesium; and ice towels for the shoulders, face and back. South Africa’s uniforms were ventilated behind the knees, along the seams and under the armpits. Players were weighed before and after training sessions. The color of their urine was monitored to guard against dehydration. During the June 9 match, some players jumped into ice baths to cool down.


“Global warming is already wreaking havoc on our sport,” Pat Cummins, the captain of Australia’s test cricket team, which plays five-day matches, wrote in February in The Guardian newspaper of Britain.


In 2017, Sri Lankan players wore masks and had oxygen canisters available in the dressing room to counter the heavy pollution during a match in New Delhi. Some players vomited on the field.


In 2018, the English captain Joe Root was hospitalized with gastrointestinal issues, severe dehydration and heat stress during the famed, five-day Ashes test in Sydney, Australia. At one point, a heat-index tracker registered 57.6 degrees Celsius, or 135.7 Fahrenheit.


The incident led Tony Irish, then the head of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association, to ask, “What will it take — a player to collapse on the field?” before cricket’s governing body implemented an extreme heat policy.


Also in 2018, India’s players were asked to limit showers to two minutes while playing in Cape Town during an extended drought there that caused the cancellation of club and school cricket.


In 2019, the air in Sydney became so smoky during a bush fire crisis that the Australian player Steve O’Keefe said it felt like “smoking 80 cigarettes a day.”


Climate change has touched every aspect of cricket from batting and bowling strategy to concerns by groundskeepers about seed germination, pests and fungal disease. Even Lord’s, the venerable cricket ground in London, has been forced at times to relax its fusty dress code, most recently in mid-July when patrons were not required to wear jackets in the unprecedented heat.


Athletes are being asked “to compete in environments that are becoming too hostile to human physiology,” Russell Seymour, a pioneer in sustainability at Lord’s, wrote last year in a climate report. “Our love and appetite for sport risks straying into brutality.”


To be fair, some actions have been taken to help mitigate climate change. Matches sometimes start later in the day or are rescheduled. Cummins, the Australian captain, has begun an initiative to have solar panels installed on the roofs of cricket clubs there. Lord’s operates fully on wind-powered electricity. The National Green Tribunal of India, a specialized body that addresses environmental concerns, has ruled that treated waste water should be used to irrigate cricket fields instead of drinkable ground water, which is in short supply.


Players on the Royal Challengers Bangalore club of the Indian Premier League wear green uniforms for some matches to heighten environmental awareness. Team members appeared in a climate video during a devastating heat wave this spring, which included this sobering fact: “This has been the hottest temperature the country has faced in 122 years.”


Yet some in the cricket world counter that climate change cannot be expected to be the most immediate concern in developing nations, where the basics of daily life can be a struggle. And countries like India and Pakistan, where cricket is wildly popular, are among the least responsible for climate change. One hears the frequent admonishment that rich, developed nations that emit the largest amount of greenhouse gases must also do their share to lower those emissions.


“In the U.S., people are flying on private jets while they’re asking us not to use plastic straws,” said Dario Barthley, a spokesman for the West Indies team.


Kitty Bennett contributed research.



2) Albuquerque Welcomed Muslims. Then Four of Them Were Killed.

Amid a citywide homicide spike, officials believe the recent deaths of four Muslim men are connected, leading to fear in a place where many immigrants and refugees had felt at home.

By Simon Romero, Neelam Bohra and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Aug. 9, 2022


Three of the four Muslim men killed in the shootings that the police say are related belonged to the Islamic Center of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Three of the four Muslim men killed in the shootings that the police say are related belonged to the Islamic Center of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Adria Malcolm for The New York Times

Naeem Hussain was the third Muslim man killed in recent weeks, and the fourth since November.

Naeem Hussain was the third Muslim man killed in recent weeks, and the fourth since November.

ALBUQUERQUE — Tahir Gauba attended funerals on Friday for two members of Albuquerque’s largest mosque, victims in a spate of apparently targeted killings that have shaken this Southwestern city, which in recent years has welcomed a growing community of immigrants and refugees.


Afterward at the mosque, Mr. Gauba ran into Naeem Hussain, a 25-year-old from Pakistan. “Naeem asked me, ‘Brother, what’s happening in Albuquerque?’” said Mr. Gauba, 43, who also came to New Mexico from Pakistan. “I told him, ‘It’s crazy right now, don’t leave your house if you don’t have to.’”


Hours later, Mr. Hussain was also dead, shot in a parking lot. It was the third killing of a Muslim man in recent weeks, and the fourth since November.


The killings, which law enforcement officials believe are connected, have raised alarm in a city that the authorities had sought to shape into a haven for immigrants and refugees, including hundreds who resettled from Afghanistan in the past year, since the withdrawal of the U.S. military presence there.


The possibility that someone could now be targeting Muslims, in a city already reeling from a harrowing spike in murders, has many in Albuquerque asking how this could happen.


One of the victims, Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, moved from Pakistan to attend the University of New Mexico. He had become president of its graduate student association before going into city planning. Another, Aftab Hussein, 41, worked at a local cafe.


Naeem Hussain, the 25-year-old who was killed on Friday, had started his own trucking business and become a U.S. citizen just weeks earlier. The recent killings were preceded by the fatal shooting in November of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a Muslim immigrant from Afghanistan, who was attacked outside the grocery store that he owned with his brother.


“There are recent arrivals who are fearful, and there are people who are U.S.-born Muslims who are also are on edge,” said Michelle Melendez, director of the city’s Office of Equity and Inclusion. “The victims are everything from professionals to students to working-class people.”


Scrambling to respond, the Albuquerque Police Department has begun bolstering patrols around the businesses and places of worship that serve as gathering places for the city’s Muslims, estimated to number from 5,000 to 10,000 in a city of over half a million.


In a plea for help from the public, the police over the weekend released a photo of a car, thought to be a dark gray Volkswagen sedan, which they believe was used in the killings.


The fatal shootings came amid a string of murders in the city, explaining, perhaps, why it didn’t seem unusual for the first two killings of Muslim men to go relatively unnoticed.


In 2021, 116 people in the city were killed, according to crime statistics from the Albuquerque Police Department, which exclude justified or negligent homicides. It was the city’s deadliest year on record; one person was killed an average of every three days in November 2021, when Mr. Ahmadi was found dead.


Things have only become worse this year. As of Monday, homicides are on pace to reach 131, surpassing last year by more than a dozen. That’s more than double the average number of homicides from 2010 to 2020, when the city recorded about 53 killings each year.


At the same time, Albuquerque, like other cities around the country, has struggled to fill vacancies in its police force. Since 2014, the department has been under a settlement agreement with the Justice Department to improve its practices, reached after accusations of civil rights violations and excessive force.


Police officials have remained largely quiet about their investigation into the recent killings beyond asking for help in finding the sedan and stating that they believe one individual carried out the acts.


“While we won’t go into why we think that, there’s one strong commonality in all of our victims: their race and religion,” Kyle Hartsock, deputy commander of the department’s Criminal Investigations Division, said in a statement. “We are taking this very serious, and we want the public’s help in identifying this cowardly individual.”


Before going into truck driving, Naeem Hussain, the most recent victim, had worked as a case manager for Lutheran Family Services, helping refugees. It was in the parking lot of that organization where Mr. Hussain, a Pashto speaker who had family roots in Pakistan and Afghanistan, was killed while in his car.


Ahmad Assed, who grew up in Albuquerque and is now president of the city’s largest mosque, the Islamic Center of New Mexico, described the community as a “welcoming melting pot.” He almost never felt that he stuck out as a Muslim, he said, until a woman was arrested and accused of trying to burn down the mosque last year.


Mr. Assed, who was born in Dearborn, Mich., said that even with increasing xenophobia after the Sept. 11 attacks, the city seemed to continue to treat the Muslim community with respect, regardless of faith and nationalities.


Now many Muslims in the city feel like targets, and fear is even driving some people to make plans to leave New Mexico.


Indeed, the killings have jolted an increasingly diverse city, where immigration, largely from Mexico and other Latin American countries, is a major source of population growth and integral to the city’s history. Immigrants from the Middle East, including Muslims and Christians from Lebanon and Syria, put down stakes in Albuquerque and other parts of New Mexico in the late 19th century.


The city gradually saw a new wave of Muslim immigrants in recent decades, with many coming to study at the University of New Mexico. A group of Muslim students came together in the mid-1980s to form the Islamic Center of New Mexico, which the three most recent victims attended.


Many in the city’s Muslim community come from Pakistan and Afghanistan, while others are from countries including India, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Sri Lanka. During the Trump administration, when concerns grew over bigotry directed against Muslims, officials passed a bill affirming Albuquerque’s status as an “immigrant friendly” city. It restricted federal immigration agents from entering city-operated facilities and city employees from collecting immigration status information.


At least 300 Afghan refugees have arrived in Albuquerque over the past year, bolstering a growing community reflected today by at least eight different places of worship for Muslims. Albuquerque strengthened outreach efforts through translators speaking Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto — languages that officials have prioritized in recent days when sharing information about the killings.


Although Muslims in the United States faced violence and discrimination after Sept. 11 and during Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign, the apparent serial nature of the attacks in Albuquerque — and the stubborn mystery of who is responsible — is uniquely disconcerting, said Sumayyah Waheed, senior policy counsel at Muslim Advocates, a civil rights group.


“I can’t think of any incident like this,” she said.


Ms. Waheed said it was concerning that the police in Albuquerque had apparently made a possible connection between the attacks only after three Muslim men were killed.


Statistics from the Albuquerque Police Department show that the racial breakdown of its employees, including officers and civilians, are roughly in line with that of the city, where about half of the residents are Latino and 38 percent are white. As of June 2021, there were 17 Asian employees out of nearly 1,480 people in the department. It is unclear how many officers are Muslim, and a spokesman said the department did not collect data on religious affiliation.


Although Naeem Hussain’s death on Friday heightened the concerns of his community, Ehsan Shahalami, his brother-in-law, said the killing came as a shock.


“There was never any indication of him feeling threatened or being scared of anything,” Mr. Shahalami said. “On the contrary, he was very fond of Albuquerque. He wanted to give back to the place that took him in.”



3) Two in Arbery Case Sentenced Again to Life in Prison; Third Man Gets 35 Years

The men were convicted of federal hate crimes after state murder convictions in 2021. Their lawyers tried without success to have part of their sentences served in federal prison.

By Richard Fausset, Aug. 8, 2022


Ahmaud Arbery.

Ahmaud Arbery

ATLANTA — Before the three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery were sentenced on Monday on federal hate crime charges, they asked a judge to consider not only the length of the sentences, but also the location, with one lawyer arguing that if her client went straight to Georgia’s dangerous state prison system, he would be subject to “vigilante justice.”


The men did not get what they asked for.


U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said she had “neither the authority nor the inclination” to send the three white men to federal prison in lieu of the Georgia prison system, where safety issues are so dire that they are the subject of an investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department.


Judge Wood said that the men would go to state prison first, because they were first prosecuted for murder by state authorities. At the same time, the judge handed down severe sentences to the men for their federal crimes, which included the hate-crime charge of “interference with rights,” and attempted kidnapping.


Travis McMichael, the 36-year-old who fired on Mr. Arbery with a shotgun, was given a life sentence. So was Mr. McMichael’s 66-year-old father, Gregory McMichael. Their neighbor William Bryan, 52 — who joined the McMichaels in chasing Mr. Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, through their neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon in February 2020 — received a sentence of 35 years.


The federal sentences will run concurrently with the life sentences stemming from each man’s murder conviction in state court, for which only Mr. Bryan is deemed eligible for parole — and then only after 30 years.


In a statement, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said that the sentences “make clear that hate crimes have no place in our country, and that the department will be unrelenting in our efforts to hold accountable those who perpetrate them.”


The courtroom drama on Monday — which featured rare words of remorse in open court from Mr. Bryan and the elder Mr. McMichael — closed a chapter “in an excruciatingly painful journey” as the federal prosecutor Tara M. Lyons put it, “for Ahmaud Arbery’s family and for an entire nation that has wept for Ahmaud along with his loved ones.”


Long federal sentences were expected for the three men after their convictions in Judge Wood’s courtroom in February. The idea that they should be able to serve at least some of their time in federal prison, as opposed to Georgia’s prison system, became an emotional flash point when it was first offered up in proposed plea deals for the McMichaels that were presented to the court in January; it was eventually rejected by Judge Wood.


In a filing last week, Amy Lee Copeland, Travis McMichael’s lawyer, wrote that her client had received “hundreds of threats,” including “statements that his image has been circulated through the state prison system on contraband cellphones, that people are ‘waiting for him,’ that he should not go into the yard, and that correctional officers have promised a willingness (whether for pay or for free) to keep certain doors unlocked and backs turned to allow inmates to harm him.”


But Mr. Arbery’s family members came to the federal courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., on Monday and argued that the three men deserved no special treatment after their own notorious acts of vigilantism against Mr. Arbery.


“These three devils have broken my heart into pieces,” Marcus Arbery Sr., Mr. Arbery’s father, said in court on Monday. He added that he hoped the men would “rot in the state prison.”


In three separate hearings, the defense lawyers for the three men asked for at least the first part of their clients’ terms to be served in the federal system. Ms. Copeland noted the “rich irony” that her client was concerned about vigilante violence. But she argued for a “cooling off” period in federal prison to last for the duration of the appeals process. Putting her client in state prison now, she said, would “effectively” result in “a back-door death penalty.”


In announcing their investigation, federal officials said the safety problems in Georgia’s prison system had been compounded by staffing shortages, training issues and other factors. Ms. Copeland cited an analysis from Georgia Public Broadcasting that found that 53 homicides had occurred in Georgia’s state prisons in 2020 and 2021.


The McMichaels and Mr. Bryan are currently being held in a local jail, the Glynn County Detention Center, where they have been since they were arrested in May 2020. They had walked free for weeks after Travis McMichael shot Mr. Arbery at close range with a shotgun.


The fatal shooting came after the men, in a pair of pickup trucks, chased Mr. Arbery, who was on foot, through their suburban neighborhood of Satilla Shores, just outside of Brunswick. The chase, and the killing, were captured on video that was widely circulated on the internet, sparking outrage worldwide and assertions from civil rights leaders that Mr. Arbery had been subject to a modern-day lynching.


Moments before the chase, Mr. Arbery had been inside a house under construction; the McMichaels had suspected him of committing a string of property crimes. Mr. Arbery’s relatives said that Mr. Arbery, an avid runner, had been out for a Sunday jog. In court proceedings, prosecutors argued that all three defendants harbored racial animus toward Black people.


In court on Monday, A.J. Balbo, the lawyer for Gregory McMichael, asked for leniency, noting that his client suffered from heart problems and bouts of depression and anxiety. The lawyer for Mr. Bryan, J. Pete Theodocion, noted that his client, unlike the McMichaels, had not grabbed a gun when he joined the chase. Prosecutors noted, however, that Mr. Bryan had used his truck to block Mr. Arbery as he tried to run out of the neighborhood.


Judge Wood said she had spent a long time thinking about the appropriate sentences for the men. At one point, she referred to the February 2022 federal trial that she presided over, in which all three men were found guilty of federal hate crimes.


It had been a fair trial, Judge Wood said — “the kind of trial that Ahmaud Arbery did not receive before he was shot and killed.”


The three men did not take the stand during their trials. But on Monday, Mr. Bryan apologized to Mr. Arbery’s family: “I never intended any harm to him,” he said.


Travis McMichael declined to address the court. But his father spoke before his sentencing. “The loss that you’ve endured is beyond description,” Gregory McMichael said to the Arbery family. “I’m sure that my words mean very little to you. But I want to assure you, I never wanted any of this to happen.”


The McMichaels were each given extra sentences, to run consecutively rather than concurrently, for their use of firearms in the incident. Mr. Bryan was technically given 447 months, with 27 months off for time served.


“By the time you’ve served your federal sentence, you will be close to 90 years old,” the judge said to Mr. Bryan. “But, again, Mr. Arbery never got the chance to be 26.”



4) Maryland Towns to Pay $5 Million in Black Teen’s Death in Police Encounter

The family of Anton Black, who died after being held face down for about six minutes during a 2018 encounter, partly settled their lawsuit against three Eastern Shore Police Departments.

By Eduardo Medina, Aug. 8, 2022


An image of Anton Black, right, who died in police custody in 2018.

An image of Anton Black, right, who died in police custody in 2018. Credit...Schaun Champion for The New York Times

Three towns on Maryland’s Eastern Shore have agreed to pay $5 million to the family of a Black teenager who was killed in an encounter with police officers in 2018, lawyers for the family said on Monday.


The announcement of a partial settlement in the federal lawsuit brought by the family of Anton Black came nearly four years after Mr. Black, a 19-year-old former star high school athlete with a nascent modeling career, died after being restrained by three police officers, who held him face down for about six minutes, pinning his shoulder, legs and arms, according to the lawsuit. As part of the agreement, the towns also agreed to make changes in how their Police Departments train officers to prevent similar deaths.


Mr. Black’s death drew comparisons to the May 2020 killing of George Floyd, who was pinned to the ground under the knee of Derek Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer, for more than nine minutes.


After local prosecutors did not pursue charges in the death, Mr. Black’s family filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in December 2020, arguing that the police officers — all of whom were white — from Police Departments in the towns of Centreville, Greensboro and Ridgely had used excessive force on Sept. 15, 2018. The lawsuit also contended that the officers tried to cover up an unjustified killing by claiming that Mr. Black was under the influence of marijuana laced with another drug and had exhibited “superhuman” strength.


An autopsy report released four months later by the state’s medical examiner at the time, David Fowler, blamed congenital heart abnormalities for Mr. Black’s death and classified the death as an accident, saying there was no evidence that the police officers’ actions had played a role. The litigation by Mr. Black's family against the medical examiner’s office and Mr. Fowler — also defendants in their lawsuit — is continuing.


Jennell Black, Mr. Black’s mother, said in a statement that “there are no words to describe the immense hurt that I will always feel when I think back on that tragic day, when I think of my son.”


“No family should have to go through what we went through,” she added. “I hope the reforms within the Police Departments will save lives and prevent any family from feeling the pain we feel every day.”


In addition to the three towns, the partial settlement of the lawsuit resolved the family’s claims against several people in the towns, including Thomas Webster IV, a former Greensboro police officer; Michael Petyo, the former chief of the Greensboro Police Department; Gary Manos, the former chief of the Ridgely Police Department; and Dennis Lannon, a former Centreville police officer.


The men could not be reached or did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment on Monday night.


The lawyers representing the three towns — Patrick W. Thomas, Sharon M. VanEmburgh and Lyndsey Ryan — did not immediately respond to emails or calls seeking comment on Monday. The attorney general’s office, which is representing the medical examiner’s officer, did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment on Monday.


In the summer of 2018, Mr. Black developed mental health issues and began behaving erratically, according to the lawsuit. He was eventually found to have bipolar disorder.


On Sept. 15, 2018, a woman called 911 after seeing Mr. Black roughhousing with a 12-year-old boy, the lawsuit says. The officers who arrived used a Taser on Mr. Black and pinned him down near his mother’s home in Greensboro, the lawsuit says.


While he was being held down, Mr. Black told his mother, “I love you,” and cried out, “Please,” according to the lawsuit, which cites body camera footage from the officers.


Moments later, after his mother noticed that Mr. Black was “turning dark,” emergency medical workers tried to resuscitate him, but he died after being taken to a hospital, the lawsuit says.


Judge Catherine Blake of U.S. District Court in Maryland said in a ruling earlier this year that the video evidence from Mr. Black’s encounter with the police “is not so conclusive as to ‘clearly contradict’ and outweigh the plaintiffs’ allegations” of excessive force, which dealt a setback to the Police Departments’ case.


Richard Potter, a member of Coalition for Justice for Anton Black, a group that has sought police accountability in Mr. Black’s death, noted in a statement that the police reforms brought on by the settlement would help “prevent this kind of tragedy from happening in our community again.”


The reforms required under the settlement include more resources for police officers who encounter mental health emergencies, de-escalation training, lessons on implicit bias and transparency with hiring.


Deborah Jeon, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, which represented the coalition, said in a statement that “today marks a step forward on the path toward accountability for the police killing of Anton Black.”


On top of those reforms, a Maryland law named after Mr. Black already requires disclosure of information about police misconduct investigations.


La Toya Holley, Mr. Black’s sister, said in a statement on Monday that the settlement gave her hope that another tragedy could be prevented.


“No one deserves to be killed like this,” Ms. Holley said. “Anton Black did not deserve this. He will never be forgotten.”



5) Detective Expected to Plead Guilty Over Warrant in Breonna Taylor Raid

Kelly Goodlett, who helped apply for a warrant for the fatal raid, would be the first officer convicted in the case.

By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Aug. 12, 2022

A memorial to Breonna Taylor at Jefferson Square Park in Louisville, Ky.

A memorial to Breonna Taylor at Jefferson Square Park in Louisville, Ky. Credit...Xavier Burrell for The New York Times

A police detective in Louisville, Ky., is expected to plead guilty to conspiring to mislead a judge in order to obtain a search warrant for Breonna Taylor’s home, a plea that would mark the first conviction of a police officer over the fatal raid more than two years ago.


Federal prosecutors had brought charges against the detective, Kelly Goodlett, and three other officers this month over the nighttime raid in which police officers fatally shot Ms. Taylor, 26, a Black emergency room technician whose death was among several police killings that led to months of protests in 2020.


On Friday, a U.S. magistrate judge set a hearing for Ms. Goodlett to enter a plea on Aug. 22. Ms. Goodlett’s lawyer, Brandon Marshall, told the judge that she would enter a guilty plea at that time, news outlets reported.


The police had been investigating Ms. Taylor’s former boyfriend for selling drugs, and another detective, Joshua Jaynes, claimed in a search warrant affidavit that he had verified with a postal inspector that the former boyfriend was receiving packages at Ms. Taylor’s apartment. Mr. Jaynes later admitted that he had never verified the information with an inspector and was fired by the Louisville Metro Police Department.


Prosecutors said Ms. Goodlett had reviewed a draft of the affidavit and, despite knowing that the claim about the postal inspector was false, did not alter it. They also said she added a misleading line to the affidavit in which she said the former boyfriend had recently been using Ms. Taylor’s address as his own. Then, prosecutors said, as fallout from the raid worsened, Ms. Goodlett lied to investigators about whether Mr. Jaynes had verified the information about the packages.


Ms. Goodlett and Mr. Jaynes were charged in federal court last week along with a third officer, Sgt. Kyle Meany, who led an investigative unit in the Police Department and, according to prosecutors, approved the submission of the false warrant and later lied to the F.B.I.


Federal prosecutors also charged a fourth officer, Brett Hankison, who had fired blindly through a window and door, hitting a neighboring apartment where a family was sleeping but not injuring anyone. Mr. Hankison was acquitted on endangerment charges in state court this year, the only officer to have been prosecuted in the case before the federal charges were filed last week.


Mr. Jaynes, Mr. Meany and Mr. Hankison have all pleaded not guilty. A guilty plea from Ms. Goodlett could signal that she is cooperating with investigators in their case against the other three.


The maximum sentence for the conspiracy charge against Ms. Goodlett is five years in prison, while the charges against the other officers could bring up to a life sentence because prosecutors say their false claims in the warrant affidavit resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death.


Neither of the two officers who shot Ms. Taylor, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly, have been charged.


The Police Department moved to fire Ms. Goodlett, who has worked for the department for about a decade, after the Justice Department unsealed the charge against her last week.


Ms. Goodlett was not at the scene of the raid, which took place after midnight on March 13, 2020, nor were any of the other officers involved in securing the search warrant. The warrant contained a “no knock” provision allowing the police to enter without warning.


The police have said they nonetheless knocked and announced themselves during the raid, but Ms. Taylor’s new boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was in bed with her when the police arrived, said he had heard only banging at the door. Mr. Walker said that when the police knocked the door open with a battering ram, he believed that intruders were storming the apartment. He fired one shot, striking an officer in the leg, and three officers returned fire, killing Ms. Taylor.


In the affidavit used to secure the warrant, Mr. Jaynes wrote that the police had seen her former boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, walking out of her apartment with a package in January, and that they suspected him of selling drugs elsewhere. The police raided several other homes on the night they shot Ms. Taylor, and Mr. Glover later pleaded guilty to selling cocaine and other charges.


At a hearing in front of a police board in Louisville last year, Mr. Jaynes said that while he had not personally verified that the former boyfriend was receiving packages at Ms. Taylor’s home, he had heard as much from a sergeant and believed that was enough to back up the warrant. Prosecutors said that this claim, too, was false.



6) Big Changes Are Coming for Health Care Costs

By Larry Levitt, Aug. 13, 2022

Mr. Levitt is the executive vice president for health policy at Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). 


Sam Kaplan/TRUNK

Even in their pared-down form passed by Congress, the changes to the U.S. health care system in the Inflation Reduction Act are momentous, politically and for the many patients struggling with drug costs.


The Inflation Reduction Act is the biggest health reform initiative since passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, more than a decade ago. And the fact that this new legislation passed despite the opposition of the drug industry — which, along with most insurance companies and hospitals, largely supported the A.C.A. — makes it, in a sense, even more of a statement about what’s politically possible in reforming the health system.


Until now, the United States stood alone among high-income countries with no government control (outside of Medicaid and the Veterans Health Administration) over drug prices. That’s why prices in this country are roughly triple what other nations pay for the same brand name drugs.


Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices is the culmination of an effort that began decades ago. As far back as 1993, President Bill Clinton proposed adding a drug benefit to Medicare as part of his ill-fated Health Security Act, including having the government negotiate prices using its purchasing leverage. Democrats have been very successful at expanding health coverage but less effective at controlling costs.


The political power of the pharmaceutical industry has historically prevented the United States from controlling drug prices. The plan is not the sweeping drug-pricing measure originally envisioned by Democrats, but it is the single biggest political loss the drug industry has sustained. Big Pharma is no longer invincible, which could embolden future efforts to expand the scope of the drug-pricing restraints.


The legislation also tackles inflation head-on with respect to drug prices. From 2019 to 2020, the prices of half of the drugs covered by Medicare increased faster than inflation. Starting next year, if drug makers raise prices for Medicare-covered drugs more than inflation, they will have to pay a penalty. This will help put the brakes on price hikes and lower the federal budget deficit if drug companies increase prices. It will directly help many who have to pay a percentage of a medication’s list price, known as coinsurance.


These drug-pricing restraints give Democratic candidates potent talking points heading into the midterm elections this fall. For example, after hearing arguments for and against giving the government the authority to negotiate drug prices, 83 percent of adults said they support it, including 71 percent of Republicans, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll. It’s rare to find an issue that has such bipartisan appeal. In Congress the legislation passed with no votes from Republicans.


Because the Inflation Reduction Act ended up less sweeping than originally envisioned, some political challenges remain for Democrats. Government-negotiated drug prices will not take effect until 2026, so the tangible benefits will require some patience. It’s conceivable that, depending on the outcome of the next presidential election, there could be efforts to roll back the plan or slow it down, as there have been with Obamacare.


These price negotiations will not apply to all drugs — just 10 medications in the first year, 15 more the following year and ultimately 20 additional drugs each year. So people cannot expect lower prices every time they walk up to the pharmacy counter to fill prescriptions.


And perhaps most important, the government will not negotiate drug prices for people with private insurance or no insurance. Seniors who rely on Medicare use a lot of health care and are an important voting bloc, but over 200 million people will still be paying unconstrained drug prices. For example, the new law provides for a cap on insulin co-pays at $35 per month, which is welcome news for people who need it to stay alive. But again, that provision applies only to the 3.3 million insulin users in Medicare, not to the millions of others who are uninsured or privately covered.


Democratic candidates may try to use this exclusion to their political advantage. The bill they proposed in the Senate included an insulin co-pay cap for people with private insurance. But because the Senate parliamentarian determined that the provision did not comply with budget rules, Republicans challenged it and voted it down.


One of the most tangible provisions of the law would reduce drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries with especially high medication expenses. Out-of-pocket drug costs would be capped at $2,000 per year, savings thousands of dollars for some patients with expensive illnesses like cancer. Over one million Medicare beneficiaries would benefit from this cap each year, though the vast majority of enrollees do not have drug expenses high enough to qualify in any given year.


The other big health care provision in the legislation would extend enhanced A.C.A. premium assistance for three years, through 2025. These subsidies, which were added as part of the American Rescue Plan in 2021 and are saving A.C.A. enrollees an average of over $700 annually on their premiums, were set to expire at the end of this year. If Congress had not acted, premiums would have skyrocketed by 53 percent, with notices going out to consumers right before the elections. Though Democrats will not be able to promise even lower premiums, they can say they prevented a huge premium hike — and a resulting political headache.


Having passed the Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats go into the midterm campaigns with a strong message to voters about relief from health care costs. Yet, as popular as their platform will be, its reach has limits. Drug-pricing restraints will not apply immediately or to everyone, and drugs account for less than 10 percent of health spending.


As always, the outcomes of elections have consequences. In fact, with the effects of drug price negotiation delayed until 2026 and enhanced A.C.A. premium assistance expiring that year, these elections and the ones in 2024 could well determine the shape of health care affordability into the future.



7) Successful Addiction Treatment Looks Like This

By Beth Macy, Aug. 15, 2022

Beth Macy is the author of the forthcoming book “Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis,” from which this essay is adapted. 

Celia Jacobs

HICKORY, N.C. — On a chilly spring evening in 2021, Tim Nolan set up a portable addiction clinic next to a McDonald’s dumpster, and he waited. His desk was the dashboard of his grey Prius, his office this parking lot, which smelled like frying oil and trash. The hatchback of the nurse practitioner’s car was full of hepatitis C testing kits, clean needles, fentanyl test strips — and pizzas.


Mr. Nolan’s first appointment of the night was with a middle-aged factory worker named Sammy, who showed up late in a dented old Ford and high on heroin, a broken face mask dangling from one ear. “I’m ready to get off that damn needle,” Sammy told him.


“Why do you want to?” Mr. Nolan asked, gently.


Sammy’s eyes welled. “Sorry, man,” he said. He’d been imprisoned twice, he explained, most recently on drug-related charges. While incarcerated, Sammy faced an additional charge for assaulting a jail guard during what appeared to be a full-blown psychotic episode that Sammy blamed on abrupt withdrawal. A year earlier, his fiancée’s 18-year-old son was killed. He’d just been fired from his job driving a forklift following a fight.


Sammy wiped away tears and vowed to stop injecting heroin before he started his next job. “I’ve never even said all this to anyone.”


Sammy’s experience illuminates why America’s overdose crisis has only continued to worsen: We are a nation that, a quarter-century into the worst addiction crisis in U.S. history, still makes death, incarceration and buying dope far easier to achieve than evidence-based treatment.


It illuminates why a crew of underfinanced, ultra-motivated addiction fighters — many of them volunteers like Mr. Nolan — have been able to make strides and fill treatment gaps caused by government impotence by using innovative, even counterintuitive, strategies in some select cities and rural areas across America. In some cases, these bootstrappers must skirt law enforcement officials to bring lifesaving medicines and harm reduction supplies like clean syringes and fentanyl test strips to the most marginalized in their communities. They operate ad hoc, by and large, and just about all of them are working at the ragged edge of capacity.


Since the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, more than 1 million Americans have died of drug overdose, including a record of nearly 108,000 Americans last year alone. And it’s not slowing down: Overdose deaths are on track to double, to 2 million, by 2030.


As someone who has covered the overdose crisis off and on for a decade, largely from the Appalachian communities where it initially took root, I know that the kind of care Mr. Nolan offers is extremely hard to come by. This is especially true in places already slammed by the decimation of jobs, where a fatalistic culture too often views drug users as moral failures rather than as people with a treatable medical condition.


Last year, West Virginia severely restricted needle exchange programs just as the county home of its state capital, Charleston, was designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having the most concerning H.I.V. outbreak in the nation. Roughly 87 percent of Americans with opioid use disorder, or O.U.D., do not receive evidence-based treatment with addiction medicines. Research published in June, in fact, suggests that 6.7 to 7.6 million adults in the United States now live with O.U.D. — roughly four times as many as previously known.


But it was not until I spent a year shadowing Tim Nolan and his harm reduction peers that I began to see what successful addiction care might look like.


Across the nation, harm reduction services look vastly different in rural towns and counties than in, say, New York City, which authorized the nation’s first official supervised-consumption sites last fall. Many rural Americans make do with a hodgepodge treatment landscape that depends entirely on the efforts of individuals. And yet this type of care has been proven time and again to work,  the federal government must take heed if it hopes to truly curb overdose deaths.


Mr. Nolan thanked Sammy for opening up. “That’s how we’re going to work together,” he said. The next day he would call in a prescription of low-cost buprenorphine for his new patient. (Sammy was uninsured, partly because North Carolina is one of 12 non-Medicaid expansion states.) But right now, Mr. Nolan needed his new patient to understand two things:


First, you can get better.


Second, and maybe even more important: “Don’t disappear.”


That meant that Mr. Nolan expected to see Sammy the following week, even if he relapsed. If Sammy’s vehicle broke down and he couldn’t make it to McDonald’s, Mr. Nolan would drive to him.


If Sammy no longer had a home address — a reality for so many addicted Americans — Mr. Nolan was fully prepared to meet him under a bridge, in a tent encampment or in another parking lot of his choosing, as he did for many patients, a practice experts call low-barrier or low-threshold.


Success, as I came to understand it, could be boiled down to two simple edicts: hope and help.


Mr. Nolan volunteers for the Olive Branch Ministry, an organization based in Hickory, N.C., and co-founded by the Rev. Michelle Mathis, a nondenominational Christian minister, and her wife, Karen Lowe. “Ten syringes fit nicely in a box of Nature’s Valley granola when you take out a few bars,” said Ms. Mathis, who has a floral tattoo on her forearm with the words “Acta Non Verba” — which is Latin, she told me, for “Do shit. Don’t just talk about it.”.


Operating the nation’s first queer, biracial, faith-based harm reduction organization, the couple began their work in 2009, seven years before the state legalized needle exchange, under the auspices of a food pantry they ran out of the back of their pickup truck.


Back then, they covertly added sterile syringes, condoms and wound-care kits to the boxes of dry goods they gave out. They tucked in business cards, too, with only a phone number and the ministry’s name, so that if disapproving relatives discovered the cards, they’d think: How nice, they’re going to church.


Mr. Nolan, Ms. Lowe and Ms. Mathis, who struggle against deep-seated prejudice even among those who claim to want to help, are providing critical links to effective evidence-based care. I first met Ms. Mathis three years ago in Surry County, N.C. She’d been called in to advise a network of church volunteers who wanted to ferry people to addiction-medicine treatment and therapy at a clinic in the town of Mount Airy. Most of that region’s drug users lived many miles from the practice and had no way to get to appointments.


Around that time, Surry County had the highest overdose rate per capita in the state. Its jail was so full of addicted people that recent arrestees who were dopesick clutched vomit buckets in an intake area, and surplus inmates had to be bused to other counties. The county had hundreds of job openings it was struggling to fill, in part because many applicants couldn’t pass a drug test.


By 2019, Olive Branch was running three needle access sites in the state’s former furniture factory belt and had a team of peer support specialists — people in recovery who are trained to triage the addicted and connect them to services. One peer roamed the back roads and under-the-bridge encampments in her car, handing out food, safe-injection supplies and even pet food for one client who lived with her cat.


Soon the organization would also offer low-barrier addiction medicine (buprenorphine, often called “bupe” for short), which stems opioid cravings, to people who were already using their syringe services. As a volunteer for Olive Branch, Mr. Nolan started out delivering needles and other supplies to people at truck stops and fast-food parking lots. Even if some participants weren’t ready to stop using drugs, many wanted to be cured of their life-threatening, energy-zapping hepatitis C.


Several patients later began hosting hepatitis C testing treatment gatherings in their homes, with pizza, helping their friends access the same hard-to-get services, including clean needles and naloxone, the overdose-reversal drug.


Fast-food parking lots, trailers and tents soon turned into de facto addiction triage centers in a small corner of Appalachia, filling in for the failures of local health departments hampered by budget cuts and the continued unwillingness among many health care gatekeepers to treat those with addiction.


As Mr. Nolan built trust among his Olive Branch clientele, strangers began texting on a near-hourly basis, asking him to “fix my hep” or “get me off the needle.”


The harm reductionists I followed were equal parts exhilarated and exhausted. They crafted treatment regimens on the backs of envelopes, politicked back channels and butted heads when bureaucrats and elected leaders refused to acknowledge the data on harm reduction and make change.


Grieving relatives were among the grittiest treatment champions — moms and sisters, especially. In Peoria, Ill., Dr. Tamara Olt, an OB-GYN who’d lost her 16-year-old son to overdose, started a naloxone distribution program that grew to offer access to clean needles and low-barrier “bupe.” It was her first time treating men.


When overdoses soared by an estimated 40 percent during the first months of the pandemic, Dr. Olt’s harm reduction project blanketed the area with naloxone, increased outreach to addicted sex workers (hand-delivering condoms and lubricants) and took over food distribution when a neighborhood food pantry closed.


In Northern Virginia, a woman who’d lost her brother to overdose started a harm reduction group in his name — the Chris Atwood Foundation — which now also meets regularly with addicted inmates, who are provided counseling as well as bupe by the jail, a rarity in the United States, with thanks to a sheriff who dared to change jail protocols over some of her own deputies’ objections. Peers arrange the inmates’ follow-up care and even transport them to housing when they’re released — a critical moment when people are far more likely to overdose and die.


In upstate New York, one mother worked tirelessly to force county leaders to stop undercounting overdoses after having families self-report overdose deaths directly to her via Facebook. At a news conference she organized for relatives of the dead in front of city hall, they demanded action against a backdrop of corrugated-plastic tombstones they made to represent their lost loved ones.


But the families of drug users and their peers shouldn’t have to be responsible for fixing this problem or convincing leaders there is one. The federal government should take heed of what’s working in patchwork segments of the country and elsewhere in the world, like Portugal and Switzerland, where harm reduction strategies have long been the norm. It should make amends for its failure to stop this man-made crisis, which began in the hinterlands but whose victims now know no political or demographic bounds.


Harm reduction isn’t harm eradication, but it works to prevent the spread of H.I.V. and hepatitis C and to prevent overdose deaths — and the government should acknowledge its efficacy: People who recently started using syringe service programs, which can provide crucial and nonjudgmental bridges to care, are five times as likely than those who don’t to enter treatment and three times as likely to stop using drugs altogether.


As opioid litigation settlement money from drug makers and distributors begins to land in communities, I worry that it will be wrongly sucked up by abstinence-based programs and incarceration-first models that remain our nation’s de facto response to O.U.D. Most residential treatment programs still don’t offer addiction medicines for long-term use, and too many regions of the country are run by politicians and law-enforcement leaders who equate offering addiction treatment in jail as coddling inmates.


To turn back overdose deaths, Congress and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration should attack the problem with urgency and innovation. While the Biden administration recently pledged significant financial support for harm reduction, and the drug czar Rahul Gupta appears to be championing harm reduction strategies — after disastrously presiding over the closure of an important harm reduction program in Charleston, West Virginia, in 2018. President Biden should make good on his campaign pledge to shepherd long-term funding that would make treatment on demand the rule rather than the exception. He should also elevate the drug czar’s job to a cabinet-level position, as it once was, and together our leaders should encourage all health care providers to treat addiction with medicines that can dramatically improve outcomes. As cases grow less acute, patients transition from emergency or low-barrier care — ideally paired with peers, counseling services, housing and other social supports.


Until that happens, scrappy organizations like Olive Branch, currently operating on duct tape and glue, desperately need more support. Cutting-edge care shouldn’t be left to volunteers working from their cars.



8) Artists Taking on Mass Incarceration

More and more art is challenging long-held assumptions about the criminal justice system.

By Adam Bradley, Aug. 11, 2022

“…the Prison Policy Initiative reported that what we call the criminal justice system comprises “almost two million people in 1,566 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,850 local jails, 1,510 juvenile correctional facilities, 186 immigration detention facilities and 82 Indian country jails, as well as in military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals and prisons in the U.S. territories.” In total, the U.S. criminal justice system controls 5.7 million people, when one accounts for parole and probation. On top of that, it is estimated that more than 113 million Americans have an immediate family member who has been to prison or jail. The racial disparities are stark, particularly for Black Americans, who make up less than 15 percent of the total U.S. population but 38 percent of the nation’s incarcerated population.”

Maria Gaspar’s “Unblinking Eyes, Watching” (2019), a composite photograph printed to scale of the north-end wall of Chicago’s Cook County Jail.
Maria Gaspar’s “Unblinking Eyes, Watching” (2019), a composite photograph printed to scale of the north-end wall of Chicago’s Cook County Jail. Credit...© Maria Gaspar, courtesy of the artist. Photo: Clare Britt

Mandela’s “The Guard Tower” (2003).

Mandela’s “The Guard Tower” (2003). Credit...© Nelson Mandela. Courtesy of the Belgravia Gallery

WHEN THE INTERDISCIPLINARY artist Maria Gaspar was 12 years old, her teachers took her to jail. It was the early 1990s, in the era of Scared Straight programs aimed at curbing juvenile delinquency, and Gaspar and her classmates were deemed “at risk,” by virtue of where they lived — the West Side of Chicago — and who they were, many of them first-generation immigrants from Mexico. Back then, on any given day, Cook County Jail, located in the city’s South Lawndale neighborhood, housed some 8,000 people, a third of them pretrial detainees unable to post bail, mostly men, Black and brown. Gaspar remembers her frightened teachers, all of them white, scurrying through tiered cellblocks; the inedible food served to them in the mess hall; the guards scolding the young visitors for crossing their legs and for “not being ‘clean.’” But her clearest memory is of the faces of those who gazed back at her from their confinement. “I remember feeling like the guys behind bars looked like people down my block,” she says. “They just looked like people I knew. That stuck with me.”


Thirty years later, Cook County is demolishing the nearly century-old Division 1 section of the jail, the very cellblocks Gaspar visited as a child. She has been documenting that process for the better part of a year. Shooting video footage, salvaging bars and bricks, Gaspar, 42, has been gathering raw materials that she and a group of jailed artists, collaborators who comprise what she terms an ensemble, will use in conceiving an experimental performance piece that reflects on absence and presence. “Sometimes it feels very abstract, a little bit vague,” she admits, though she understands this indeterminacy as a necessary feature of any collective artistic labor — and as a reflection of her collaborators’ precarious condition. “This is a place for us to play and to experiment,” she says. “It may not fit the different categories that we have already determined, but that’s OK. We can make new ones.” The acts of creating art and serving time share this much: They both demand that one find freedom in constraint.


The art of mass incarceration, both the art that incarcerated people produce and the art that incarcerated people and the system itself inspire, has never been more visible than it is today. Galvanized by the events of 2020 — the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, and the protests that followed — the art world is increasingly centering works that engage with and critique America’s carceral state. In late 2021, for instance, the conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas debuted an exhibition titled “Another Justice: Divided We Stand” at the Kayne Griffin gallery in Los Angeles, featuring mixed-media works composed of prison uniforms and American flags, making literal the tensions between American freedom and captivity in a patchwork of labyrinthine pathways and star-filled skies. This year’s Venice Biennale features the conceptual artist Sable Elyse Smith’s “Landscape” series, a sequence of large-scale neon textual installations that blur the lines between the institutional and the intimate. “Like the hands of the correctional officer on my abdomen searching for metal — rather — groping for the sake of taking over — for possession,” one begins.


The art world’s turn toward incarceration hasn’t happened overnight. In 2018, the curator Risa Puleo, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, debuted the landmark exhibition “Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the Justice System” at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. The show helped coalesce a community of nonincarcerated contemporary artists who, through a diversity of media and practices, were each seeking ways for their art to take more than symbolic action when it comes to social justice, prison reform and abolition. Building on this momentum, in September 2020, the scholar Nicole R. Fleetwood, 49, curated “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration” at MoMA PS1 in Queens, which underscored the continuities between work that’s done inside and done outside the prison walls, and in the spaces in between. Propelling all of these efforts are writers and activists, from the social justice advocates Bryan Stevenson and Angela Davis to the scholars Michelle Alexander and Ruth Wilson Gilmore, all of whom recognize the importance of art as a tool for structural change.


Like any cultural expression that looks at society’s most vulnerable and voiceless, the art of incarceration is often defined from the outside in. For decades, the art establishment described the work of imprisoned artists — when it described that work at all — in terms of folk or outsider art. Prison art was relegated almost exclusively to the domain of rehabilitation: classes offered to keep inmates out of trouble, to cordon off safe spaces for unruly emotions. The first documented prison art program in the United States dates back to 1876, at the Elmira Reformatory (now the maximum-security Elmira Correctional Facility) in New York State. With the rise of expressive therapy approaches in the 1960s and ’70s, arts programs flourished nationwide, benefiting from federal funding that dried up during the tough-on-crime ’80s and ’90s.


Over the years, the most celebrated individuals making art in prison have often been political dissidents and human rights advocates — those individuals, in other words, whom an audience could accept as “innocent” rather than as “criminal.” The Japanese American artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi, for instance, voluntarily entered the Japanese internment camp known as Poston Relocation Center in Arizona in 1942 with the intention of designing recreational spaces to ease the suffering of his fellow detainees; though he drafted multiple plans, the government never implemented them. In 1999, almost a decade after his release from Robben Island prison, near Cape Town, Nelson Mandela began painting a series of watercolors portraying his cell. More recently, in 2011, the Chinese government detained the conceptual artist Ai Weiwei for 81 days. He channeled the experience into his acclaimed work “S.A.C.R.E.D.” (2011-13), a series of six near-life-size dioramas portraying Ai and his guards in confined spaces as he sleeps, showers and uses the toilet.


In popular media, the artist as prisoner is a potent if rare figure, usually rendered through fanciful imaginings of artistic savants. In Wes Anderson’s 2021 film, “The French Dispatch,” Benicio Del Toro portrays a painter jailed for murder whose genius affords him wide latitude to flout prison regulations, even to the point of painting nude portraits of a female guard. On the strength of a single work, he becomes an art world sensation. Defying his newfound marketability, however, he spends years painting his magnum opus on the walls of the prison hobby room. A wealthy American collector purchases the work, whose preservation requires the walls of the prison itself be dismantled. Anderson’s madcap character is in keeping with the romantic notion expressed by the prison arts educator Phyllis Kornfeld in her book “Cellblock Visions: Prison Art in America” (1997), in which she writes that “the criminal is a rule-breaker. So is the true artist.”


KORNFELD’S CLAIM IS perhaps too breezily aphoristic, but it posits an undeniable truth: Art made by, with or about imprisoned populations demands subversion. Art that deals in some way with lockup generally requires the collaboration of individuals and organizations beyond the prison walls, and it frequently has the aim of changing people’s opinions. Art for Justice, which the philanthropist Agnes Gund launched in 2017 with $100 million in seed money made through the sale of a 1962 Roy Lichtenstein painting, outlines on its website an ambitious agenda that includes ending mass incarceration in the United States. To date, the fund has distributed over $105 million in grants to support work across the nation. “We think of ourselves as movement funders,” says the project’s director, Helena Huang. She emphasizes that social transformation has always required art as a means of projecting alternative realities. “Artists are only going to help broaden everybody’s imagination about what is possible and give fuel to advocates and organizers,” she says.


It’s a common misconception that if given full knowledge of the inequities and abuses of American prisons, citizens would unite in raising their voices to call for reform. In fact, evidence alone very rarely shifts opinion. But feeling does. “All the public policy change in the world, all the legal change in the world, it doesn’t happen without people being moved in a deep way,” Huang says. For her part, Gaspar understands the art she makes both with and about jailed people as necessarily confrontational and transformative. “People come with a certain preconception about incarcerated people or about criminalization and, to me, art fails when they leave with the same idea,” she says.


Listen to artists like Gaspar and it soon becomes clear that prison is not simply another conceptual preoccupation or source of inspiration. The artists engaged in this work don’t tend to talk about it as a theme or as a visual aesthetic. They aren’t interested in portraying the abuses and failures of the system as a metaphor for some aspect of the human condition beyond the walls of confinement. Instead, the work often contests and deconstructs the ready-made visual vocabulary that the carceral system propagates — mug shots and sentencing documents, prison-issued garments and commissary goods, visiting room photographs and letters stamped “inspected” by correctional personnel. It fights to render the invisible — both people and systems — visible. It denies easy recourse to sympathy in favor of work that invites and sometimes compels direct action.


One of the early projects to gain support from Art for Justice was a collaborative effort between the interdisciplinary artist Titus Kaphar and the poet, attorney and founding director of Freedom Reads (an organization that provides prisoners with books), Reginald Dwayne Betts. Though Betts, 41, has written extensively on mass incarceration, first in a memoir about his own experience as a juvenile and most recently in his poetry collection “Felon” (2019), he has a profound appreciation for what art can achieve. “I think the visual artist has more of an inclination against darkness,” he says, by which he means artists are particularly well equipped to expose harsh truths.


In his and Kaphar’s collaborative work, some of which will be published this fall as part of a book titled “Redaction,” Kaphar’s mug-shot-like etchings are paired with Betts’s poems based on redacted lawsuits. Redaction here functions as much to reveal as to conceal. The mug shot is a vestige of the carceral system that comes to the artist preaestheticized. Practically speaking, it is a tool of capture and coercion, of state control. In the hands of these artists, however, it becomes, in Betts’s words, “an act of love.” For Betts, that love extends beyond word and image; he has helped negotiate the release of five of his incarcerated friends, who donated prison-issued clothing that he and Kaphar made into paper.


The path between creation and liberation is rarely as straight as this. The American carceral state is a patchwork of facilities that include federal and state prisons, local jails, federal holding cells for migrants and much more. Though certain conditions of privation unite them, they are not the same. Earlier this year, the Prison Policy Initiative reported that what we call the criminal justice system comprises “almost two million people in 1,566 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,850 local jails, 1,510 juvenile correctional facilities, 186 immigration detention facilities and 82 Indian country jails, as well as in military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals and prisons in the U.S. territories.” In total, the U.S. criminal justice system controls 5.7 million people, when one accounts for parole and probation. On top of that, it is estimated that more than 113 million Americans have an immediate family member who has been to prison or jail. The racial disparities are stark, particularly for Black Americans, who make up less than 15 percent of the total U.S. population but 38 percent of the nation’s incarcerated population. Though the overwhelming majority of Americans support reform, recent years have shown only halting progress toward substantive change.


IN THE IMMEDIATE aftermath of the 2020 protests prompted by the murder of George Floyd, politicians seemed more open than ever to the idea of legislative reform. Yet even in these seemingly hopeful moments, some artists and advocates sensed a vulnerability, an evasion. Too many who all of a sudden seemed to support change had arrived at that position without confronting and examining their own core beliefs and biases. As long as they could hold on either to the mollifying myth of innocence through stories of the wrongly accused or to the blurring rhetoric of analysis, cut off from the uncomfortable human particulars, they could stay committed to wholesale reform, at least in principle.


“I think for us to really understand the aesthetic and cultural impact of mass incarceration, we have to have works by people who are differently positioned by the carceral state in conversation with each other,” Fleetwood, the art historian and curator, says. “We can’t understand the sheer impact of the carceral state by just looking at the work of conceptual, socially engaged artists who are working out of art institutes or commercial galleries, nor can we just look at the work made by people held in captivity. We actually have to think expansively about culture making in this era.”


Among those thinking expansively is Ashley Hunt, 52, a multimedia artist and faculty member in the Program in Photography and Media at California Institute of the Arts in the Santa Clarita Valley. Several years ago, he noticed when visiting prisons how many facilities were disguised in the landscape, hidden in plain sight. This was no coincidence, he thought, but a calculated strategy to render invisible the massive system of warehousing human beings. What emerged was “Degrees of Visibility” (2010-present), a photographic project that has since grown to encompass correctional facilities in all 50 states and the country’s territories. Some of the images are startlingly beautiful; others are nondescript. We might see, Hunt explains, “a landscape that we think we recognize as bucolic, and then we realize that there are 4,372 men out of sight there.” Within his work, Hunt detects “a chance to trouble that distancing.” At the center of “Degrees of Visibility” is a struggle with the systemic, with how something can grow so beyond human scale that it becomes unfathomable. How do you describe something you can’t see? Focusing on the big picture mitigates against the “bad apple” claim — the idea that abuse is isolated to certain specific instances alone. “That’s how the system absolves itself of its guilt: ‘It was the bad cop,’ or ‘That’s the bad prison. We’re gonna fix it.’ We need to be looking at the overall structure,” Hunt says.


A full commitment to reform requires something else of us, as well: that we demand dignity for the incarcerated without consideration of guilt, that we understand the system as necessarily consisting of individual lives and complexities. Hunt’s work and that of others like him who are engaged with on-the-ground activists offers one way forward. It’s about ensuring that we don’t elide the facts of incarceration — the enormity of its scale and impact. Art’s full accounting demands both: the human scale and the systemic; the power comes in superimposing one on the other, in appreciating the weight of each of those nearly two million souls against that of the power structure that frames their enclosure.


One might think of this as the Richard Wright Theory. In 1938, Wright, a young Black author from Mississippi living in New York, published his first book, the short-story collection “Uncle Tom’s Children,” to strong sales and critical acclaim. His success, however, left him regretting that he had written “a book which even bankers’ daughters could read and weep over and feel good about,” as he notes in the 1940 essay “How ‘Bigger’ Was Born,” which recalls the genesis of his most famous character, Bigger Thomas, the brutal and unsympathetic protagonist of his naturalist masterpiece, “Native Son” (1940). He never again wished to publish a book like “Uncle Tom’s Children.” Instead, he released a novel in which his Black protagonist accidentally kills the daughter of his white boss, hacks her body into pieces and incinerates her in a furnace. “I swore to myself,” Wright concludes, “that if I ever wrote another book ... it would be so hard and deep that they would have to face it without the consolation of tears.”


Many contemporary artists are following Wright’s example, rejecting calls for sympathy — or even empathetic audience connection — in favor of a cold-eyed accounting of the implications of mass incarceration, both on the lives of the imprisoned and on the souls of the free. Increasingly, this kind of art demands that the nonincarcerated audience sit in discomfort, without the moral clarity of supporting only the innocent. Is there any crime that warrants society robbing an individual of human dignity? Must dehumanization necessarily accompany punishment?


“I’M NOT INTERESTED in only telling the story of the innocent,” says the New York-based artist Sable Elyse Smith, 36, who has spent much of her life visiting her father in prison. “I am interested in confrontation.” For Smith, that confrontation often takes the shape of cutting off all paths of retreat from a stark engagement with the cruelty and contradictions of a system in which we are all implicated. “A lot of people just classify my practice as only talking about prison,” Smith says, “but I often like to say, ‘I say “prison,” but I mean the world.’ It’s an everyday condition.”


Smith’s “Backbend” (2019) uses replicas of five blue prison visitation tables to build an arch, at once institutional and organic. But the sculpture also makes something beautiful out of the ugliness of cold utility. In “Backbend” and her other series of works that make use of these tables and chairs — like “A Clockwork” (2022), included in this year’s Whitney Biennial, in which visitation tables are turned into a Ferris wheel — Smith renders the functional fantastic. For an audience seeing such a form out of context, there is a process of gradual revelation. From a distance one notices the work’s sensual shape, its bold color; only up close does it finally resolve itself into the institutionalized vocabulary of carceral form, one that may be familiar to some, but not all.


Like Gaspar, Smith wants her work to challenge viewers, because challenge is required to elicit change. In her “Coloring Book” series, which takes images from a coloring book intended for the children of those caught up in the criminal justice system, the artist uses oil pastels that mimic a child’s crayon scrawl across the enlarged pages. In one spread, she paints over the phrase “If we all work together, we can make the world a better place,” casting doubt on such easy answers. Viewers of her art, Smith says, “are visually seduced into something, they’re interested in it or salivating for it or desiring it — they’re having some pleasure in it.” But “there’s the moment when it comes into focus. For certain audiences, that’s a moment of some tension and some discomfort.” Audience members who are distanced or willfully blinded may just see an abstract sculpture. But those with a personal connection will find affirmation of an experience from which many people would rather look away.


Some of the most vital art being made today reminds us that we are all much closer than we might imagine to mass incarceration. “In cities in America, we’re used to police sirens going all the time,” says the New York-based artist Dread Scott, 57, who has long engaged with themes of race and justice. “We’re used to the sound of police helicopters flying over our heads; we’re used to seeing images of cops harassing Black folk; we’re used to seeing wanted posters,” he adds. For “Wanted” (2014), a community-based art project out of Harlem, Scott enlisted a former police sketch artist to make portraits of local residents who haven’t committed any crimes. “Wanted for lifestyle choice,” one of the posters reads. “The male was observed standing on a corner with other males. The suspect exhibited dress and behavior typical of alleged gang members,” the notice continues.


The posters look so much like actual ones issued by the police department that they elicit double takes, calling attention to the overpolicing of young Black and brown people, and to the dangerous assumptions made about them. The message, according to Scott, is straightforward. “There are many things right now that are normalized that should not be accepted,” he says.


For a nonincarcerated artist, venturing behind the prison walls often means normalizing absurdities: learning that a paint color you’ve been using for months is now considered contraband; discovering a collaborator is missing — sent to solitary, transferred to another facility or simply gone without explanation; reconciling yourself to the fact that, no matter how democratic your artistic practice, you will walk free that day and the people you are making art with and about will not. The art of mass incarceration, in all its forms, might just be the last distinctly American art we have left: a testament to our cruelty, as well as to our ingenuity — our irrepressible drive to create meaning out of darkness. Gaspar recalls a conversation she had recently with Christopher Coleman, one of the men from her ensemble, about the work it took for the group to transform a sterile room in the jail into a space for creativity. “What was that like?” she asked him. “It was so powerful,” he told her, “that even the guards became unshackled.” Art, perhaps better than anything else, can do that: liberate us, if fleetingly, imperfectly from the manacles that bind us.



9) Leadership Vacuum Heightens Worries as Crises Loom in U.K.

As energy prices and inflation soar under a caretaker prime minister, critics say transition at the top is leaving Britons in limbo at a tumultuous moment.

By Stephen Castle, Aug. 16, 2022

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, third from left, is working out his last few weeks in Downing Street before a successor is announced on Sept. 5.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, third from left, is working out his last few weeks in Downing Street before a successor is announced on Sept. 5. Credit...Pool photo by Oli Scarff

LONDON — With energy costs surging, a recession looming, more rail strikes down the tracks and the prospect of a drought, Britain faces its fair share of problems.


But the transition in leadership in the top tier of the British government has made those challenges more acute. The country has a caretaker prime minister who is preparing to depart, there is a war of words between his two potential successors, Parliament is not in session and it’s vacation season, too.


All of which prompted worries that Britain’s politicians have left the public in limbo at a moment of gathering crisis.


“It’s basically like waiting for a typhoon to hit,” said Steven Fielding, a professor of political history at the University of Nottingham. “We’re all confident that bad things are going to happen but, at the moment, there’s nobody in charge, no sense that anybody has got a grip of those things.”


Amid a stream of grim economic news, and as the economy starts to contract, many Britons have been shocked by new estimates that inflation will hit 13 percent and that the average cost of heating a normal home will climb to 4,266 pounds ($5,170) next year. That would raise the typical monthly payment to £355, from £164 now.


Officials are also reported to be drawing up plans to avert an electricity supply shortfall and possible blackouts in the winter.


On top of that, a rail strike is scheduled to resume on Thursday and there is acute pressure on public services, including the country’s overstretched health system. Travel chaos recently choked airports and the country’s biggest ferry port, Dover; and drought warnings are in place after England experienced its driest July since 1935.


Yet this tsunami of bad news has hit during a political vacuum, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson working out his last few weeks in Downing Street before a successor is announced on Sept. 5.


Mr. Johnson, who was forced to quit after a series of scandals, has rejected appeals to recall Parliament or to sit down with the two contenders vying for his job — the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, and the former chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak — to work out how to help Britons facing huge hikes in energy bills.


The sense of drift extends beyond the energy crisis, with public services crumbling and the ambulance service under severe pressure. Britons are also struggling with more administrative tasks such as renewing passports or securing tests for driver’s licenses.


“It’s not so much chaos, it’s just a slow sense of decline: things stopping one after another,” Professor Fielding said.


Nonetheless it is the news about energy price hikes, caused in large part by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and their dire prospects for the economy that have crystallized a sense of foreboding.


Earlier this month the Bank of England, warning that inflation would hit 13 percent, hiked interest rates, and also forecast a recession lasting more than a year. At the time of the announcement both Mr. Johnson and his chancellor of the Exchequer, Nadhim Zahawi, were on vacation.


Back in Downing Street last week, Mr. Johnson attended a meeting last week with energy company bosses but insisted that decisions would have to await his successor.


Underwhelmed by that outcome, one newspaper on Friday opted for irony, publishing a banner headline that read: “PM turns up for meeting.”


A former prime minister from the opposition Labour Party, Gordon Brown, sought to fill the gap last week, suggesting in an opinion article that energy companies should be nationalized temporarily if they failed to offer lower bills. However, his intervention served to underscore the absence of Labour’s current leader, Keir Starmer, who was also on vacation.


When he returned to work on Monday, Mr. Starmer said that, were he in power, he would freeze energy bills to curb the impact on hard-pressed consumers.


Though Mr. Johnson has been criticized for refusing to try to problem-solve with Ms. Truss and Mr. Sunak on energy costs, the three would be unlikely to agree even if they were to get together in the same room.


The two leadership contenders are fighting a bitter political battle, and management of the economy has been one of the main dividing lines. Ms. Truss wants to focus on cutting taxes to spark economic growth and Mr. Sunak wants to prioritize the fight against inflation.


But, during an ill-tempered campaign, both candidates have been forced to shift their positions somewhat. Mr. Sunak now says he wants to cut VAT, a sales tax, on energy bills after having previously rejected that idea; Ms. Truss, who at one point insisted she wanted to cut taxes rather than give people “handouts” in the form of grants, is now hinting that she might offer more help to those struggling with energy costs.


Analysts argue that, behind the scenes, work is being done and that there is time for the new prime minister to prepare a package of measures before the prices rises in the fall.


“The conversation between the energy companies and government is being facilitated and continuing,” said Hannah White, acting director of the Institute for Government, a London-based research institute. “So, I don’t think policymaking is quite as paralyzed as some of the media is seeking to portray it.”


Ms. White believes that part of the criticism of Mr. Johnson may come from those who always opposed him. “They may be using the fact that he’s not solving this problem as a stick to beat him but, in my view, it wouldn’t be right for him to be making a policy intervention,” Ms White said.


Nonetheless, few doubt the severity of what many people in Britain are facing. Martin Lewis, a prominent financial expert, told the BBC that Britain was confronting a “national crisis on the scale we saw in the pandemic,” likening the situation to seeing hospital beds filling in continental European countries in 2020 but taking no action.


More than 100,000 people, in the meantime, have joined an online pledge to refuse to pay energy bills in October. “We’re facing an energy price hike in the U.K. that will cause widespread devastation to so many,” said Lewis Ford, from Hull in the north of England, who has gotten involved with the online initiative, which is known as Don’t Pay. “Millions will be forced into debt and far, far too many will be left without heating in the cold of winter.”


“The disgraceful failure of our political leaders to address this crisis is obvious to everyone,” he added in an emailed statement.


The wider sense of malaise has underscored one of the peculiarities of the British system under which, when the governing party changes its leader, the country changes prime minister without a general election.


Inevitably, that leaves a hiatus while the successor is chosen and, in a country where power is relatively centralized in London, that can be jarring for Britons whose electoral system is designed to deliver strong governments with the ability to act.


“The expectations are high, and at the moment the delivery is almost nonexistent because we’ve got a government that is incapacitated,” said Professor Fielding.


There is, he added “an empty hole where a decisive prime minister should be.”



10) Pain in Children is Often Ignored. For Children of Color, It’s Even Worse.

Racial differences in medical care are part of a theme experts are seeing “over and over” again.

By Rachel Rabkin Peachman, Aug. 16, 2022


Mikyung Lee

Judith McClellan, a social worker who lives in Salisbury, N.C., knows what it’s like to see her child in pain. Her daughter Kyarra, 15, has sickle cell disease, an inherited red blood cell disorder that most commonly affects Black people and frequently causes pain so excruciating that emergency opioids are necessary. When she was younger, Ms. McClellan said, Kyarra would describe the pain — caused by blockages in blood vessels — as feeling “like a butcher’s knife stabbing me 1,000 times in the same spot.”


During times of distress, Ms. McClellan said, “the protocol is we go to the nearest hospital” to receive powerful pain medications that will mitigate Kyarra’s discomfort until the crisis has passed. But because the McClellans, who are Black, live an hour and a half away from Kyarra’s primary hematologist, they often find themselves at emergency departments with medical staff who don’t know them and who often doubt Kyarra’s pain.


“If she says she has a pain level of eight — because she’s not screaming and hollering — they question, ‘Are you sure it’s an eight? Or are you making it an eight to get more pain medication?,’” Ms. McClellan said. “Sometimes I think they think she’s seeking drugs.”


Dr. Andrew Campbell, director of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Disease Program at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., said that health care providers who don’t understand a condition like sickle cell disease, where pain is the hallmark feature, often mislabel Black children, particularly teenagers, as “drug seekers” or “opioid abusers.” There is also a “potential layer of racism” that can lead to that characterization, he added.


Last year, at a UNC hospital emergency department in Chapel Hill, N.C., a doctor reported Ms. McClellan to Child Protective Services because he was concerned about the fact that Kyarra had received 30 opioid prescriptions from 19 different doctors in North Carolina in the past year. That was too many, in his opinion. Ms. McClellan said that when she explained to the doctor that Kyarra’s prescriptions were necessary and in accordance with prescribing guidelines, he said, “If you’re not hiding anything, this will all work out.”


When asked about the incident, Alan Wolf, a spokesman for UNC Health, said that “hospital providers are obligated under North Carolina law to report suspected child neglect or abuse.”


In the end, the agency decided not to pursue the report, Ms. McClellan said, because “it didn’t meet the qualifications for abuse and neglect.”


A theme seen over and over again


Dr. Emily Hartford, an assistant professor in pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Washington who studies how differences in care can affect children, said that Kyarra’s experience is part of “a theme we’re starting to see over and over in the literature.”


In June, for instance, Dr. Hartford and her colleagues published a study in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine that analyzed the medical records of 833 12- to 16-year-olds who visited the Seattle Children’s hospital emergency department for migraine treatment between 2016 and 2020. They found that the children who were Black, Asian, Hispanic or who preferred to speak in a language other than English were less likely than white children to receive strong intravenous pain-relieving medications, despite reporting similar pain levels.


This jibes with past research, Dr. Hartford said, which has found that when children of color visit emergency departments for issues like bone fractures or appendicitis, for example, they are less likely than white children to be given appropriate pain medications, like opioids. Many studies have also found similar variations in pain treatment among adults of color.


“We would like there to be no differences by ethnicity and languages,” Dr. Hartford added. But “we have to uncover them as the first step to addressing them.”


Why racial differences in children’s pain care exist


Pain is subjective, hard to measure and often invisible. And in children — even more so than in adults — it is frequently misunderstood, undertreated and dismissed, as research has shown.


But in children of color, treatment can be worse. Dr. Ron Wyatt, a senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement who is based in Madison, Ala., noted that false beliefs about biological differences between Black people and white people — dating back to slavery — have had lasting effects on how people of color are treated in medical settings.


As part of an often-cited study published in 2016 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, for instance, researchers from the University of Virginia surveyed 222 white medical residents and students and found that more than a third of them believed that Black people had physically thicker skin than white people did. And about 7 percent believed that Black people’s nerve endings were less sensitive than white people’s. The participants with such erroneous beliefs also made less accurate pain treatment recommendations, the study authors found.


Dr. Lisa Cooper, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University and director of its Center for Health Equity, has found in her own research that the more implicit (or unconscious) bias white physicians have, the more poorly they communicate with Black patients.


One of her studies found that white doctors dominated conversations more with Black patients than they did with white patients, making it far more likely that Black patients’ concerns would go unheard and their conditions and pain would go undertreated. “It’s definitely a safety issue,” Dr. Cooper said.


Dr. Cristina Gonzalez, a professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City who teaches physicians how to recognize and manage their implicit biases, said she remembered one instance years ago when a young Hispanic patient came into the hospital complaining of severe pain. A staff member said, “I don’t think he is really in pain.” He was eventually diagnosed with a gallbladder infection, Dr. Gonzalez said, but those doubts could have delayed his treatment and caused damage that could have been life-threatening.


“Delaying care has significant health downstream effects,” she said.


What can you do to improve your child’s pain management?


Experts emphasized that the onus should not be on patients to improve their own care. In recent years, there has been a push by researchers, hospitals and lawmakers to help health care providers become more aware of their biases — which everyone has — and to change their behavior accordingly. But “those are things that take time,” Dr. Wyatt said. In the meantime, these strategies may help parents at the hospital:


Keep records. Write down your child’s medications, symptoms and pediatrician’s contact information. Then, give the staff this information, which will help them assess what type of care your child needs faster. This is particularly helpful if your child has a chronic condition and is taking medication regularly.


Get to know the hospital staff. Vanessa Finch, of Fort Lauderdale, Fl., whose son Kahleeb Beckett died at age 24 during a sickle cell crisis at the hospital, said that when Kahleeb was young, she found ways to connect with the hospital workers. “I volunteered. I kicked it with the social workers. I stayed in those doctors’ faces,” she said. “That makes a difference.” She discovered that when the medical staff felt a more personal connection to her son, who was Black, they were more empathetic to his pain.


Try to alleviate your child’s anxiety. Studies show that anxiety and pain are intricately interwoven and some surprisingly simple tactics can help to reduce anxiety and lessen perceptions of pain. These may include having your child imagine a favorite place, listening to a guided imagery exercise or offering distractions, like music or a video. You can use these strategies while waiting for treatment.


Take deep breaths. “We know that parents’ distress about their child’s pain in the E.D. really impacts how their child experiences pain and how they respond to treatment,” said Emily Law, an author of the recent study on migraine treatment in adolescents and an associate professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine at the University of Washington. So do what you can to stay calm, whether that involves taking deep breaths or stepping out of the exam room to call a friend for support.


If necessary, file a complaint. If you feel that your child hasn’t been treated appropriately, ask to speak with a hospital social worker or write a complaint to the hospital to hold them accountable.



11) Reading While Incarcerated Saved Me. So Why Are Prisons Banning Books?

By Christopher Blackwell, Aug. 17, 2022

Mr. Blackwell is an incarcerated writer.


Ben Denzer

SHELTON, Wash. — During my first decade in prison, I busied myself with exercising and hanging out in the big yard. I hardly grew as a person, aside from developing muscles that I really used only to intimidate others.


I stopped going to school at around 14. After multiple stints in juvenile detention, I was too far behind all my classmates to catch up. By my mid-20s, I was sentenced to a total of 45 years in prison, first for a robbery and then for taking the life of another person during a drug robbery. Every day I regret what I did. It wasn’t until I began college in prison in my 30s that I started to realize my full potential.


In my classes, I met people who were intelligent, spoke with confidence and understood structural forces I had almost no knowledge of, despite the huge role they played in my life. I realized I didn’t want to feel like the most ignorant person in the room. I, too, wanted to participate in an intellectual conversation and have people think I was smart and well spoken.


Shyly, I asked a classmate and fellow prisoner in my class if he’d be willing to help me. He jumped at the task. Before I knew it, I was absorbed in David Foster Wallace and Michel Foucault and using concepts and terms in conversations that were previously far over my head.


Through my journey in college, I became an avid reader and writer, striving to escape prison life by expanding my mind beyond the toxic environments I’d been confined to. I started studying feminism and restorative justice. One concept that really hit home for me was toxic masculinity. I come from an abusive home and a neighborhood consumed by gangs, drugs and gun violence. I wanted to understand better why I had used violence to solve my problems.


I have found, however, that strangers stand between me and many of the books I want to read.


Books, like everything an incarcerated person receives — personal mail, emails, photos, news and education materials — are evaluated by prison officials and rejected or shared with us. Corrections departments typically claim they ban books that contain sexual content, racial animus or depictions of violence, criminal activity, anti-authority attitudes or escape. In practice, PEN America wrote in a 2019 report on prison book restriction policies, the restrictions “have been wide-ranging, from perverse to absurd to constitutionally troubling, with bans being applied in ways that defy logic.”


In Texas, books by Alice Walker, Pablo Neruda and even the former senator Bob Dole have been banned. Throughout the country, prison officials have rejected or tried to ban books about biology (too much nudity in the anatomical drawings), the Holocaust (some of the victims were pictured nude), sketching, dragons and even the moon (it could “present risks of escape,” according to one New York prison). At one point, Colorado prison officials blocked a prisoner from reading two of President Barack Obama’s memoirs because they were “potentially detrimental to national security,” although they later reversed that decision.


Claiming such bans are necessary for the safety and security of prisons seems ludicrous. If anything, many banned books could contribute to a safer environment in prisons and in the societies incarcerated individuals are released into. Practically every author I have encountered while in prison, from Don Miguel Ruiz to Angela Y. Davis, has played a role in my efforts to grow and become a better person — someone who can live in society by adding to it, as opposed to taking from it.


While working to understand my harmful ways, I corresponded with Michael Kimmel, the author of “Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era.” When he sent a copy of his book to me, it was rejected for what the prison claimed were “penological objectives.”


“The content could reasonably be thought to lead or add to tensions between groups specifically in a prison setting,” the prison explained in the rejection notice I was sent.


Successfully challenging book rejections often requires navigating a forbidding bureaucratic maze. But I appealed. I explained that the book is about toxic masculinity and shows men how to be functioning adults without the need for violence and anger — the opposite of what the prison claimed could be the outcome of reading the book.


Four months later, the rejection was overturned, and the book was released. For me, this small win was huge. Reading Dr. Kimmel’s book helped me to understand some of the deeply rooted structures around masculinity. I learned about how entitlement could lead men to hit women they claimed to love because they felt disrespected — something that happened in my family. He helped me to see my own toxic masculinity and to prevent it from consuming me and harming others.


I wish my fellow prisoners across the country could easily have access to books like Dr. Kimmel’s that show how to solve problems without violence. But my successful appeal didn’t automatically make the book available for others. Mailroom staff members can still reject the same book for the next prisoner who wants to read it. And many prisoners don’t have the time or the skill to file an appeal, or they are afraid of retaliation. Denied the chance to learn and grow through reading, incarcerated people are released with fewer skills and less knowledge.


State and federal prisons should not be allowed to censor the reading and educational materials of adult prisoners unless they can point to a legitimate safety threat; I’m not expecting them to allow us to read “The Anarchist Cookbook,” for example.


Prisons across the country will continue arbitrarily rejecting books like “Angry White Men” until state and federal officials create more explicit book restriction policies that clearly define what constitutes a safety threat. Prison officials should also be required to carefully consider the rehabilitative and educational potential of each book. The process for appealing a book rejection should be easier, and successful appeals should make formerly banned books easily accessible to all prisoners who want to read them.


Without college and without access to books and materials that expanded my mind beyond the razor wire and towering concrete walls, I might still be wasting my time on the yard. My worldview would still be dictated by toxic masculinity and the violence and harm that surround it. That’s not who I want to be when I leave this prison. It’s not who I want to see sent back into society.


Christopher Blackwell (@chriswblackwell) is an incarcerated writer and a co-founder of the nonprofit Look 2 Justice. He is a contributing writer at Jewish Currents, and he is working on a book about solitary confinement.