Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, January 24, 2023





February 24-25 :: International Days of Action in Solidarity with Ukraine

On the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, activists throughout the world will be mobilizing for protests and education events in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and their struggle to liberate their country. 

The Ukraine Solidarity Network (U.S.) will be organizing actions and events. 

Connect with us!

Solidarity with Ukraine!

Ukraine Solidarity Network Mission Statement 

The Ukraine Solidarity Network (U.S.) reaches out to unions, communities, and individuals from diverse backgrounds to build moral, political, and material support for the people of Ukraine in their resistance to Russia’s criminal invasion and their struggle for an independent, egalitarian, and democratic country. 

The war against Ukraine is a horrible and destructive disaster in the human suffering and economic devastation it has already caused, not only for Ukraine and its people but also in its impact on global hunger and energy supplies, on the world environmental crisis, and on the lives of ordinary Russian people who are sacrificed for Putin’s war. The war also carries the risk of escalation to a direct confrontation among military great powers, with unthinkable possible consequences. 

It is urgent to end this war as soon as possible. This can only be achieved through the success of Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion. Ukraine is fighting a legitimate war of self-defense, indeed a war for its survival as a nation. Calling for “peace” in the abstract is meaningless in these circumstances. 

The Ukraine Solidarity Network (U.S.) supports Ukraine’s war of resistance, its right to determine the means and objectives of its own struggle—and we support its right to obtain the weapons it needs from any available source. We are united in our support for Ukraine’s people, their military and civilian defense against aggression, and for the reconstruction of the country in the interests of the majority of its population. We stand in opposition to all domination by powerful nations and states, including by the United States and its allies, over smaller ones, and oppressed peoples. 

We uphold the following principles and goals: 

1.     We strive for a world free of global power domination at the expense of smaller nations. We oppose war and authoritarianism no matter which state it comes from and support the right of self-determination and self-defense for any oppressed nation.

2.     We support Ukraine’s victory against the Russian invasion, and its right to reparations to meet the costs of reconstruction after the colossal destruction it is suffering. 

3.     The reconstruction of Ukraine also demands the cancellation of its debts to international financial institutions. Aid to Ukraine must come without strings attached, above all without crushing debt burdens. 

4.     We recognize the suffering that this war imposes on people in Russia, most intensely on the ethnic and religious minority sectors of the Russian Federation which are disproportionately impacted by forced military conscription. We salute the brave Russian antiwar forces speaking out and demonstrating in the face of severe repression, and we are encouraged by the popular resistance to the draft of soldiers to become cannon fodder for Putin’s unjust war of aggression. 

5.     We seek to build connections to progressive organizations and movements in Ukraine and with the labor movement, which represents the biggest part of Ukrainian civil society, and to link Ukrainian civic organizations, marginalized communities and trade unions with counterpart organizations in the United States. We support Ukrainian struggles for ensuring just and fair labor rights for its population, especially during the war, as there are no military reasons to implement laws that threaten the social rights of Ukrainians, including those who are fighting in the front lines.


Click here to read the complete list of USN Endorsements: 



Please sign below to add your endorsement:




Spring Action Week:  April 15 - 22, 2023
Holloman AFB, Southern New Mexico

Co-sponsored by CODEPINK & Ban Killer Drones

Mark your calendars & Join Us! 

Come for all or part of the week!



Dear friends and supporters of Kevin Cooper, 

We are horrified by the terrible report put out by the Morrison Foerster (MoFo) law firm who were assigned to conduct an independent investigation of Kevin Cooper’s case. As Kevin’s chief attorney, Norman Hile, says: "In short, Mofo did not do an innocence investigation. Instead, they simply looked at the evidence the prosecution used and then hired some of their own experts to affirm what the prosecution said.”

Attached is a brief press statement issued by Kevin’s defense law firm. If you would like to receive the link to the MoFo report (over 200 pages) let me know and I will email it to you.

More analysis and information will follow soon.

An immediate act of solidarity we can all do right now is to write to Kevin and assure him of our continuing support in his fight for justice. Here’s his address:

Mr. Kevin Cooper

C-65304. 4-EB-82

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974



January 14, 2023


Kevin Cooper has suffered imprisonment as a death row inmate for more than 38 years for a gruesome crime he did not commit. We are therefore extremely disappointed by the special counsel’s report to the Board of Parole Hearings and disagree strongly with its findings.  Most fundamentally, we are shocked that the governor seemingly failed to conduct a thorough review of the report that contains many misstatements and omissions and also ignores the purpose of a legitimate innocence investigation, which is to independently determine whether Mr. Cooper’s conviction was a product of prosecutorial misconduct. The report failed to address that critical issue. The evidence when viewed in this light reveals that Kevin Cooper is innocent of the Ryen/Hughes murders, and that he was framed by the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department. 


The special counsel’s investigation ordered by Governor Newsom in May 2021 was not properly conducted and is demonstrably incomplete. It failed to carry out the type of thorough investigation required to explore the extensive evidence that Mr. Cooper was wrongfully convicted. Among other things, the investigation failed to even subpoena and then examine the files of the prosecutors and interview the individuals involved in the prosecution. For unknown reasons and resulting in the tragic and clearly erroneous conclusion that he reached, the special counsel failed to follow the basic steps taken by all innocence investigations that have led to so many exonerations of the wrongfully convicted. 


In effect the special counsel’s report says: the Board of Parole Hearings can and will ignore Brady violations, destruction of exculpatory evidence, planted evidence, racial prejudice, prosecutorial malfeasance, and ineffective assistance of trial counsel; since I conclude Cooper is guilty based on what the prosecution says, none of these Constitutional violations matter or will be considered and we have no obligation to investigate these claims.


Given that (1) we have already uncovered seven prosecutorial violations of Brady v. Maryland during Mr. Cooper’s prosecution, (2) one of the likely killers has confessed to three different parties that he, rather than Mr. Cooper, was involved in the Ryen/Hughes murders, and (3) there is significant evidence of racial bias in Mr. Cooper’s prosecution, we cannot understand how Mr. Cooper was not declared wrongfully convicted.  The special counsel specifically declined to address ineffective assistance of counsel at the trial or the effect of race discrimination.  We call on the governor to follow through on his word and obtain a true innocence investigation.

Anything But Justice for Black People

Statement from Kevin Cooper concerning recent the decision on his case by Morrison Forrester Law Firm

In 2020 and 2022 Governor Newsom signed in to law the “Racial Justice Act.” This is because the California legislature, and the Governor both acknowledged that the criminal justice system in California is anything but justice for Black people.

On May 28th, 2021, Governor signed an executive order to allow the law firm of Morrison Forrester (MoFo) to do an independent investigation in my case which included reading the trial and appellant transcripts, my innocence claims, and information brought to light by the 9th circuit court of appeals, as well as anything else not in the record, but relevant to this case.

So, Mr. Mark McDonald, Esq, who headed this investigation by Morrison Forrester and his associates at the law firm, went and did what was not part of Governor Newsom’s order, and they did this during the length of time that they were working on this case, and executive order. They worked with law enforcement, current and former members of the L.A. Sheriff’s department, and other law enforcement-type people and organizations.

Law enforcement is the first part of this state’s criminal justice system. A system that both the California legislature, and the Governor acknowledge to be racist, and cannot be trusted to tell the truth, will present, and use false evidence to obtain a conviction, will withhold material exculpatory evidence, and will do everything else that is written in those two racial justice act bills that were signed into law.

So, with the active help of those pro-police, pro-prosecutor, pro-death penalty people working on this case to uphold my bogus conviction we cannot be surprised about the recent decision handed down by them in this case.

While these results are not true but based on the decisions made in 1983 and 1984 by the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office, these 2023 results were not reached by following the executive orders of Governor Newsom.

They ignored his orders and went out to make sure that I am either executed or will never get out of prison.

Governor Newsom cannot let this stand because he did not order a pro-cop or pro-prosecutor investigation, he ordered an independent investigation.

We all know that in truth, law enforcement protects each other, they stand by each other, no matter what city, county, or state that they come from. This is especially true when a Black man like me states that I was framed for murder by law enforcement who just happened to be in the neighboring county.

No one should be surprised about the law enforcement part in this, but we must be outraged by the law firm Morrison Forrester for being a part of this and then try to sell it as legitimate. We ain’t stupid and everyone who knows the truth about my case can see right through this bullshit.

I will continue to fight not only for my life, and to get out of here, but to end the death penalty as well. My entire legal team, family and friends and supporters will continue as well. We have to get to the Governor and let him know that he cannot accept these bogus rehashed results.

MoFo and their pro-prosecution and pro-police friends did not even deal with, or even acknowledge the constitutional violations in my case. They did not mention the seven Brady violations which meant the seven pieces of material exculpatory evidence were withheld from my trial attorney and the jury, and the 1991 California Supreme court that heard and upheld this bogus conviction. Why, one must ask, did they ignore these constitutional violations and everything that we proved in the past that went to my innocence?

Could it be that they just didn’t give a damn about the truth but just wanted to uphold this conviction by any means necessary?

No matter their reasons, they did not do what Governor Gavin Newsom ordered them to do in his May 28, 2021, executive order and we cannot let them get away with this.

I ask each and every person who reads this to contact the Governor’s office and voice your outrage over what MoFo did, and demand that he not accept their decision because they did not do what he ordered them to do which was to conduct an independent investigation!

In Struggle and Solidarity

From Death Row at San Quentin Prison,

Kevin Cooper


Call California Governor Newsom:

1-(916) 445-2841

Press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, 

press 6 to speak with a representative and

wait for someone to answer 

(Monday-Friday, 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. PST—12:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. EST)



Ruchell is imprisoned in California, but it is important for the CA governor and Attorney General to receive your petitions, calls, and emails from WHEREVER you live! 


SIGN THE PETITION: bit.ly/freeruchell




Call CA Governor Newsom:

CALL (916) 445-2841

Press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, 

press 6 to speak with a representative and

wait for someone to answer (Mon. - Fri., 9 AM - 5 PM PST / 12PM - 8PM EST)


Call Governor Newsom's office and use this script: 


"Hello, my name is _______ and I'm calling to encourage Governor Gavin Newsom to commute the sentence of prisoner Ruchell Magee #A92051 #T 115, who has served 59 long years in prison. Ruchell is 83 years old, so as an elderly prisoner he faces health risks every day from still being incarcerated for so long. In the interests of justice, I am joining the global call for Ruchell's release due to the length of his confinement and I urge Governor Newsom to take immediate action to commute Ruchell Magee's sentence."


Write a one-page letter to Gov Gavin Newsom:

Also, you can write a one-page letter to Governor Gavin Newsom about your support for Ruchell and why he deserves a commutation of his sentence due to his length of confinement (over 59 years), his age (83), and the health risks of an elderly person staying in California’s prisons. 


YOUR DIGITAL LETTER can be sent at bit.ly/write4ruchell


YOUR US MAIL LETTER can be sent to:

Governor Gavin Newsom

1303 10th Street, Suite 1173

Sacramento, CA 95814


Email Governor Newsom




Under "What is your request or comment about?", select "Clemency - Commutation of Sentence" and then select "Leave a comment". The next page will allow you to enter a message, where you can demand:


Commute the sentence of prisoner Ruchell Magee #A92051 #T 115, who has served 59 long years in prison. 

He was over-charged with kidnapping and robbery for a dispute over a $10 bag of marijuana, a substance that is legal now and should’ve never resulted in a seven-years-to-life sentence.  Ruchell is 83 years old, so as an elderly prisoner he faces health risks every day from still being incarcerated for so long.


Write to District Attorney Gascon

District Attorney George Gascon

211 West Temple Street, Suite 1200

Los Angeles, CA 90012


Write a one-page letter to D.A. George Gascon requesting that he review Ruchell’s sentence due to the facts that he was over-charged with kidnapping and robbery for a dispute over a $10 bag of marijuana, a substance that is legal now and should’ve never resulted in a seven-years-to-life sentence. Ruchell’s case should be a top priority because of his age (83) and the length of time he has been in prison (59 years).


·      Visit www.freeruchellmagee.org to learn more! Follow us @freeruchellmagee on Instagram!

·      Visit www.facebook.com/freeruchellmagee or search "Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee" to find us on Facebook!

·      Endorse our coalition at:

·      www.freeruchellmagee.org/endorse!

·      Watch and share this powerful webinar on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u5XJzhv9Hc



Ruchell Magee

CMF - A92051 - T-123

P.O. Box 2000

Vacaville, CA 95696


Write Ruchell uplifting messages! Be sure to ask questions about his well-being, his interests, and his passions. Be aware that any of his mail can be read by correctional officers, so don’t use any violent, explicit, or demoralizing language. Don’t use politically sensitive language that could hurt his chances of release. Do not send any hard or sharp materials.



of Detroit Shakur Squad


The Detroit Shakur Squad holds zoom meetings every other Thursday. We educate each other and organize to help free our Elder Political Prisoners. Next meeting is Thurs, Jan 12, 2022.  Register to attend the meetings at tinyurl.com/Freedom-Meeting




Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal march down JFK Blvd. past the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice and City Hall, in Philadelphia, Friday, December 16, 2022.Jessica Griffin / Staff Photographer

Results of Mumia Abu-Jamal's Court Hearing 

December 16, 2022


In October, Common Pleas Court Judge Lucretia Clemons strongly signaled in a 30-page opinion that she is leaning toward dismissing the defense appeal.

However, she gave the two sides one last chance Friday, Dec. 16, 2022 to argue their positions. The lawyers did so in a courtroom filled with about 50 Abu-Jamal allies, as well as Faulkner’s widow, Maureen, and a smaller number of her supporters. Mumia Abu-Jamal was not present.

Clemons said she would rule within three months. Before ending the hearing, the judge asked the prosecutors and defense lawyers to make sure that Abu-Jamal’s lawyers had reviewed every scrap of evidence that the District Attorney’s Office could share.

“I do not want to do this again,” she said.




Watch the live-stream of the Dec. 16 Court Rally at youtu.be/zT4AFJY1QCo.

The pivotal hearing follows a hearing Oct. 26 at which the Judge said she intended to dismiss Abu-Jamal’s appeal based on six boxes of evidence found in the District Attorney’s office in Dec. 2018. Clemons repeatedly used procedural rules – rather than allowing for an examination of the new evidence – in her 31-page decision dismissing Mumia Abu-Jamal’s petition for a new trial. (https://tinyurl.com/mtvcrfs4 ) She left the door open on Abu-Jamal’s appeal regarding the prosecution’s selection of jurors based on race.

Abu-Jamal’s attorneys Judith Ritter, Sam Spital  and Bret Grote filed a “ Petitioner’s Response to the Court’s Notice of Intent to Dismiss PCRA Petition” (https://tinyurl.com/mvfstd3w ) challenging her refusal to hold a hearing on the new evidence.

Just this week, the UN Working Group on People of African Descent filed an Amicus brief, a friend of the court document that reinforced the facts and arguments in Mumia's attorney's PRCRA filing. (https://tinyurl.com/587r633p ) They argued that no judicial time bar should be applied when the defendant is a victim of historic racial bias that may have tainted the possibility of a fair trial and due process.

At a press conference Dec. 13 announcing the Amicus brief, the Hon. Wendell Griffen, Division 5 judge of the 6th Judicial Circuit Court for Pulaski County, Arkansas said, “Clemons is only the second Black judge to hear any aspect of Abu-Jamal’s case. Will she have the courage to say that there are too many factors here that compel for Mumia to justify dismissing the motion? This evidentiary hearing is required, because exculpatory evidence was concealed.” (https://youtu.be/Xh38IKVc_oc )

Griffen clarified his statement on Dec 14 during a Democracy Now interview (https://youtu.be/odA_jjMtXQA): “Under a 1963 decision that every law student knows about, and every lawyer that does criminal law practice, in Brady v. Maryland, the Supreme Court of the U.S. held that due process of law is violated when the prosecution conceals evidence relevant to guilt or punishment from the bench. In this country, that kind of precedent should have required Mumia to be released and the Commonwealth decide whether or not to prosecute him based upon having revealed the right evidence. That hasn’t been done.”

More details on Abu-Jamal’s case can be found at 
https://tinyurl.com/ymhvjp8e and https://tinyurl.com/34j645jc.





Urgent support needed for cancer-stricken, imprisoned writer/artist, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson’s Legal Fund!

Fundraiser for an attorney to represent Rashid’s struggle for medical care
A campaign is underway to hire an attorney to represent Kevin Rashid Johnson’s struggle for medical care. The prison has denied this care to him, despite a cancer diagnosis discovered over one year ago for which no treatment has yet been provided.

Here is the donation link for Rashid’s legal fund: 
Please be as generous as you can.


Prostate cancer can be cured if discovered and treated before it spreads (metastasizes) beyond the prostate. But once it spreads it becomes incurable and fatal.

Rashid's prostate cancer was discovered over a year ago and diagnosed by biopsy months ago, before it had spread or any symptoms had developed. However, he has now developed symptoms that indicate it likely has metastasized, which would not have happened if he had begun receiving treatment earlier. Denied care and delayed hospital appointments continue, which can only be intended to cause spreading and worsening symptoms.

I just received word from Rashid through another prisoner where he is, that he was transported on October 25, 2022 to the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) hospital, which is a state hospital where Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) officials also work. MCV appears to have a nefarious relationship with the VDOC in denying prisoners needed treatment. Upon arrival to the hospital he was told the appointment had been rescheduled, which has now become a pattern.

The appointment was for a full body PET scan to determine if and to what degree his cancer has metastasized. When he met with a radiologist on October 4, 2022, after 3 prior re-schedulings, there was concern that his cancer may have spread because of symptoms he's begun developing. This is his fourth rescheduled hospital appointment which has delayed appointments for weeks to months, preventing him from receiving care.

Because of delayed testing and denied care Rashid has developed symptoms that continue to worsen, which include internal bleeding and pain. The passage of time without care is worsening his condition and making the likelihood of death from the spread of his cancer more certain.



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.



Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale


I’m pleased to announce that last week our client, Daniel Hale, was awarded the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. The “Corner-Brightener Candlestick” was presented to Daniel’s friend Noor Mir. You can watch the online ceremony here.

As it happens, this week is also the 20th anniversary of the first drone assassination in Yemen. From the beginning, the drone assassination program has been deeply shrouded in secrecy, allowing U.S. officials to hide significant violations of international law, and the American Constitution. In addition to the lives directly impacted by these strikes, the program has significantly eroded respect for international law and thereby puts civilians around the world in danger.

Daniel Hale’s revelations threw a beam of light into a very dark corner, allowing journalists to definitively show that the government's official narrative was a lie. It is thanks to the great personal sacrifice of drone whistleblowers like Hale that public understanding has finally begun to catch up to reality.

As the Sam Adams Associates note:

 “Mr. Hale was well aware of the cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment to which other courageous officials have been subjected — and that he would likely suffer the same. And yet — in the manner of his famous ancestor Nathan Hale — he put his country first, knowing what awaited him at the hands of those who serve what has become a repressive Perpetual War State wreaking havoc upon much of the world.”

We hope you’ll join the growing call to pardon or commute Hale’s sentence. U.S. citizens can contact your representatives here.

Happy new year, and thank you for your support!


Jesselyn Radack
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)

Twitter: @JesselynRadack



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.



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



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!



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) The Next Phase of the Abortion Fight Is Happening Right Now in New York

By Michelle Goldberg, Jan. 20, 2023


Linda Prine wearing a royal blue shirt and looking into the distance.

Linda Prine is a physician and co-founder of the Miscarriage and Abortion Hotline. Credit...Alana Paterson

Linda Prine spends a lot of time speaking to frantic women navigating the end of Roe v. Wade.


Prine is a New York physician and co-founder of the Miscarriage and Abortion Hotline, which provides support to people using pills to end their pregnancies on their own. She started the hotline during the Trump administration in response to escalating state restrictions. At first, with abortion clinics still operating in every state, there weren’t many calls. Then Texas banned most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, and more calls started coming in.


After Roe v. Wade was overturned, “it just went through the roof, and it continued to get busier and busier,” said Prine. Now, 60 volunteers keep it staffed 18 hours a day. “Pretty much the phone rings almost nonstop, and we’re getting texts at the same time,” she said.


For those with unwanted pregnancies who live in states with abortion prohibitions, using medication to self-manage an abortion is sometimes the only option. “It’s only a minority of people who can afford the travel,” said Prine. Nonprofits like the Brigid Alliance can help cover expenses, but they can’t ensure people have child care they trust, make their bosses give them time off from work, or explain their absence to unsupportive parents. “So some people are figuring out how to get pills as best as they can,” Prine said.


Doing so can take a frighteningly long time. The Biden administration has authorized telehealth providers to prescribe and ship abortion pills, but online pharmacies won’t mail pills to states where abortion is illegal. Women can rent post office boxes in blue states and then have their mail forwarded, but Prine said that some telehealth providers check their patients’ IP addresses. For people in prohibition states, one of the most reliable sources of mail-order pills is the European organization Aid Access, which Prine works closely with. But because those pills are shipped from India, they can take up to three weeks to arrive, an eternity for someone desperate to end an unwanted pregnancy.


“They’re into the second trimester, not infrequently, when they finally get their pills and when they finally can have two days off from work to use them,” Prine said of the people who call the hotline. Though the F.D.A. authorizes pills for use only up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, in some countries they’re employed much later, and taking them in the second trimester isn’t usually considered medically dangerous. Still, self-managing a late abortion can be harrowing psychologically, especially, said Prine, “if you’re a teenager and nobody’s supposed to know what’s happening to you.”


It’s because of this terror and distress that Prine, along with a few other intrepid doctors, is preparing to start mailing abortion pills across state lines. Before she can get up and running, though, she needs New York to pass a bill ensuring that the state will try to protect her from red state prosecutors and lawsuits.


“If we want to expand access to abortion, we need to think outside the box and try to make some new things happen,” said Prine. “And that’s what this shield law should do: It should let us prescribe into these red states.”


Shield laws for telemedicine abortions are at the cutting edge of pro-choice lawmaking. They’re an attempt, at a time of staggering loss, for supporters of abortion rights to go on the offensive. In anticipation of the fall of Roe v. Wade — a decision that would have turned 50 next week — several blue states, including New York, passed laws protecting abortion providers who care for those traveling from places with abortion bans. Telemedicine shield laws go much further, attempting to protect doctors who break the laws of anti-abortion states by helping the women in them have abortions at home.


Right now, only Massachusetts has such a law, but New York may soon join it; this week, a bill sponsored by State Senator Shelley Mayer was voted out of committee. “We just can’t back away because it’s complicated,” said Mayer. “The doctors are not backing away.”


As Emily Bazelon reported in The New York Times Magazine, some abortion-rights groups initially hesitated to throw their weight behind Mayer’s proposal. The New York Civil Liberties Union worried, among other things, about giving providers a false sense of security, since New York’s ability to protect doctors from legal action by other states is limited, especially once they step outside New York’s borders. But after working with Mayer to refine the bill’s language, the N.Y.C.L.U. has come on board, even though Donna Lieberman, its executive director, said, “It is not the panacea that I wish we could provide for Linda and others.”


Prine knows that, but she’s willing to accept a degree of risk. “I think the PTSD that a lot of people will have from this is going to last a long time,” she said, speaking of some of the women who call her hotline. “And it could all be avoided.” New York lawmakers can help.



2) How Do You Fight a Drought When It’s Flooding?

By Farhad Manjoo, Jan. 20, 2023


From above, brown flood waters encroach on trees with light green leaves, and a black road with a broken yellow divider line, and begin to creep into rows of green crops.
Josh Edelson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

California is built upon the great gamble of irrigation. Left alone, much of the land in the Western United States would be inhospitable to teeming cities. But we’re Americans — we couldn’t let the desert stand in our way. More than a century ago, the United States Bureau of Land Reclamation began taming the water in the West. It’s been a remarkably successful project. In California, where I live, irrigation has turned largely barren regions into some the country’s most fertile farmland and most prosperous metropolises. We’ve built “the most ambitious desert civilization the world has seen,” Marc Reisner put it in “Cadillac Desert,” his 1986 history of Western irrigation.


I’ve been thinking a lot about “Cadillac Desert” in the past few weeks, as the rains fell and fell and kept falling over California, much of which, despite the pouring heavens, seems likely to remain in the grip of a severe drought. Reisner anticipated this moment. He worried that the West’s success with irrigation could be a mirage — that it took water for granted and didn’t appreciate the precariousness of our capacity to control it. “Everything depends on the manipulation of water — on capturing it behind dams, storing it, and rerouting it in concrete rivers over distances of hundreds of miles,” he wrote. “Were it not for a century and a half of messianic effort toward that end, the West as we know it would not exist.”


But what happens to that century of irrigation when the weather changes, as it is now? Experts say that climate change is exacerbating “weather whiplash” in California — that we’ll increasingly suffer years of prolonged, extreme aridity followed by great biblical gushers of precipitation. Can a society adjust to a climate of opposing calamities — a climate of both megadroughts and atmospheric rivers, of far too little and far too much?


Just psychologically, this is a difficult balance to maintain: It’s hard to worry about drought when it’s flooding. It’s hard to worry about flooding when there’s a drought. Adjusting infrastructure and water usage to the seesawing weather is going to require some big and possibly painful changes to many of the state’s key constituencies. Farmers will have to give up some agricultural land and grow different crops. Homeowners and developers might have to leave some flood-prone areas uninhabited. We’re going to have to alter our cities to capture more water and alter our lifestyles to use less of it.


California’s water system “was designed and built and is operated for different climatic conditions — for the climate of the 20th century, not the 21st century,” said Peter Gleick, a co-founder and senior fellow at the Pacific Institute. Gleick says there’s some reason for optimism that we’ll be able to tackle this problem — at least California’s government understands and is determined to address the changing weather. Still, Gleick said, “given what we now know about the unavoidable changes of climate change, our policymakers are not doing enough.”


California’s precipitation patterns are naturally variable — we have always had very dry years and very wet years, and quick shifts from droughts to floods are not unheard-of. But climate change is supercharging this phenomenon. A recent state climate report found that year-to-year weather variability has increased sharply since the 1980s. Anyone living in California over the past decade has seen this firsthand. Between 2012 and 2016, California suffered one of its worst droughts on record. Then, in 2017, we had one of the wettest years on record. Then California and much of the Western United States went back into severe drought, again with some of the driest years ever recorded; a report published in Nature Climate Change last year found that the years between 2000 and 2021 might be the Southwest’s driest 22-year period in 1,200 years. And then, this winter, another deluge.


It’s not just that wet years bring more water; it’s also how the water is falling. Because temperatures are warmer, a lot more of California’s precipitation has in recent years been falling as rain instead of snow. This is a problem for a few reasons. Snow acts as a kind of “frozen reservoir” that stores water from one season to another — the snow falls in the winter, then trickles into California’s water supply as it melts. But when precipitation falls more heavily as rain — and when the storms come in quick succession, as they have recently — water isn’t as easily stored and instead becomes destructive. A 2019 study published in the journal Water Resources Research found that the risk of flood grows as snowfall shifts to rainfall and that floods driven by rain can be much larger than floods driven by snowmelt. When rain falls on snow, the snow melts faster. And when rain pours on cities, little of it is captured for use — and instead washes out to sea.


And so we’re left with this surreal phenomenon of a flood-drenched drought. As the storms pounded California last week, water-management officials were telling people not to go wild with water: “We’re kind of dealing with this extreme flood during an extreme drought, and so we’re, of course, encouraging Californians to continue to conserve water and make conservation a way of life,” one official told The Los Angeles Times.


Water experts say there are ways to mitigate the effects of California’s changing climate on our water supply. Gleick has called for revamping national flood insurance regulations to curtail rebuilding in places that are newly prone to flooding. Leaving some places undeveloped and allowing areas to regularly flood will help recharge California’s groundwater supply, he said.


Capturing storm water is another big opportunity. For years, Los Angeles County has been working on a gigantic effort to collect more rainfall for use. Among other projects, the plan involves creating huge “spreading grounds” — tracts of land where rainwater is allowed to pool and soak into the ground; installing rain barrels and other ways to collect water in apartment buildings and at businesses; and building water-absorbing infrastructure into roadways and sidewalks, like drainage ditches and pavement made out of materials permeable to water. Officials reported collecting 33 billion gallons of water in the recent storms — enough for more than 800,000 people for a year. Expanding such efforts statewide could yield lots of new water.


It’s also clear that California’s agricultural sector has got to use less water. Farming currently accounts for 80 percent of California’s water use. In drought years, lots of the agricultural water is pumped from underground, a practice that experts say cannot be sustained. Farmers can reduce this amount by growing more efficient crops — at the moment too much of our land is used to grow water-hogging crops like alfalfa and almonds — but even so, the agricultural sector will have to get smaller. Farmland will need to be fallowed — at least 500,000 acres, according to researchers at the Public Policy Institute of California.


Gavin Newsom, California’s governor, has not been hiding from these issues. Last summer he proposed a big plan for recycling more water and expanding storage. During the recent storms he called for $200 million more for levees and other flood protection measures.


But adjusting California’s water infrastructure to the shifting weather patterns will need to be a long-term, sustained effort, and it will require political bravery. Newsom’s plans did not call on agriculture to make many sacrifices.


As floods-amidst-droughts continue, he and other politicians will need to make difficult decisions. The desert won’t be kept at bay for long.



3) Six-Year-Old Accused of Shooting Teacher in Virginia Has ‘Acute Disability,’ Family Says

The child had previously been accompanied by a parent every day in school, but that stopped the week of the shooting, his family said.

By Sarah Mervosh and Campbell Robertson, Jan. 19, 2023


A large crowd, facing away from the camera, gather at night around a field. Many are holding candles.

People gathered for a vigil for Abigail Zwerner, the first-grade teacher who was shot at Richneck Elementary School. Credit...John C. Clark/Associated Press

The 6-year-old boy who is accused of bringing a gun to school and shooting his teacher in Newport News, Va., this month has an “acute disability” and had been under an intensive care plan at school, his family said on Thursday in its first statement since the shooting on Jan. 6.


The statement, released through the family’s lawyer, said that the boy had previously been accompanied in school each day by his mother or father as part of the plan for his disability, and that the week of the shooting was the first time that a parent was not in class with him.


“We will regret our absence on this day for the rest of our lives,” the family said in a statement.


The statement also said that the gun, which the authorities said the boy brought from home, had been “secured,” but did not explain how the boy had gotten access to it.


The police declined to comment. No one has been charged in the case so far, a spokeswoman for the Newport News Police Department said on Thursday. The Newport News school district declined to comment, citing student privacy.


The new details add context to a painful case in which the police say the 6-year-old obtained a handgun at home, brought it to Richneck Elementary School and pulled the trigger in his first-grade classroom, seriously injuring his teacher, Abigail Zwerner, 25. She has been released from the hospital.


The child’s history also raises questions about the school’s response on the day of the shooting, when district officials say that an employee at Richneck Elementary, acting on a tip, searched the boy’s backpack for a gun. No weapon was found at that time, the school district said. Later, around 2 p.m., the police said, the boy held up a handgun in his first-grade classroom and fired one shot at his teacher.


The case, unusual because of the child’s young age, spurred new conversation around school security and access to guns, in an era of increasing school shootings. Richneck Elementary has been closed since the shooting, and the school district announced it would install metal detectors in all school buildings, including elementary schools.


In the statement, the family said it had been committed to “responsible gun ownership and keeping firearms out of the reach of children.”


The police have said that the handgun was legally purchased by the child’s mother. Virginia law prohibits leaving a loaded gun where it is accessible to children under 14, a crime that is punishable as a misdemeanor.


“Our heart goes out to our son’s teacher and we pray for her healing,” the boy’s family said in the statement, adding that Ms. Zwerner had “worked diligently and compassionately to support our family as we sought the best education and learning environment for our son.”


The boy has also been “under hospital care and receiving the treatment he needs,” his family said.


“We continue to pray for his teacher’s full recovery, and for her loved ones who are undoubtedly upset and concerned,” the family said. “At the same time, we love our son and are asking that you please include him and our family in your prayers.”


Paul Bibeau contributed reporting.



4) Which Came First, Inflation or the Egg Meme?

Home cooks are flocking to the internet to lament skyrocketing prices.

By Becky Hughes, Jan. 20, 2023


A skillet holds three fried eggs that have been seasoned with pepper.
An egg shortage is the subject of the nation’s current internet bit. Credit...Johnny Miller for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Sue Li.

The chicken is crossing the road, and she is doing so glamorously, toting a Louis Vuitton bag, rocking a Derby-style bowler hat and avoiding the paparazzi in sunglasses. In the eyes of frustrated grocery shoppers equipped with Photoshop and social media accounts, chickens have become the misers of a valuable asset, eggs.


Across Facebook and Instagram and Reddit and Twitter and TikTok, consumers fed up with soaring egg prices are coping the modern way: They’re making memes.


Some posts compare cartons of eggs to stacks of gold and cold, hard cash. On TikTok, there are more than 14.2 million videos listed under #eggshortage. Among them, there’s a recurring joke: A person, often wearing a fur coat, weighs, inspects and doles out eggs like a drug dealer. Rick Ross’s “Hustlin’” is the soundtrack to really drive home the gag.


But the videos going viral aren’t always staged. One TikTok filmed at a Costco shows a line of people snaking through the store to buy eggs. It’s a scene familiar to those who remember the toilet paper shortage early in the pandemic.


Don Caldwell, the general manager and editor in chief of the internet archive site Know Your Meme, traces the origin of several egg price jokes circulating online to a tweet posted on Dec. 23 that suggested chickens had unionized. It quickly inspired jokes about chickens “staging some chicken revolution,” he said.


“We’ve seen similar memes around inflationary market pressures,” Mr. Caldwell said, noting the deluge of internet humor in response to the spike in gas prices last spring.


There are several explanations for rising egg prices. A highly contagious bird flu has been going around for almost a year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that at least 57 million chickens have been affected, making it the deadliest bout of avian influenza to date. Another, potentially more impactful factor is inflation. Costs are rising for many components of consumer egg production including fuel, chicken feed, packaging and labor. Other food prices are increasing, too, but the average cost of eggs has nearly doubled.


Eggs are, as the New York Times columnist and egg enthusiast Eric Kim elegantly put it, “a blank canvas for flavor and sustenance, in both form and content.”


As “eggs are this cornerstone of so many other foods,” it’s no wonder egg memes are something that not only “chronically online” people are participating in, said Amanda Brennan, the senior director of trends at XX Artists. “When it hits the local suburban Facebook groups, that’s when you know it’s serious.”


Online searches for “egg substitutes” are up by 16,000 compared with last year. Home cooks and influencers are seizing on the opportunity to share recipes for eggless breakfasts and cupcakes (next, the eggless omelet?).


This isn’t the first time eggs have been spotlighted on social media. In 2019, the @world_record_egg became a beloved Instagram stunt as the account attempted to make a stock photo of an egg the most-liked picture on the platform. (It was successful, beating out Kylie Jenner’s baby announcement, until it was bested by a Leo Messi post after Argentina won the World Cup last month.)


It’s unclear when, or if, consumers can expect prices to fall. In the meantime, there’s not much to do but post through it.


“When people meme things, they’re not necessarily saying they’re not serious or important,” Mr. Caldwell said. “It’s a very social game to play online, to be more connected to people about an issue. It makes people feel less alone.”



5) What A. Philip Randolph Knew About Jobs and Freedom

By Jamelle Bouie, Jan. 21, 2023

Opinion Columnist 

“capitalism knows no color line” and that capitalists “will coin the blood, sweat and suffering of white women and white children or black women and black children into dollars and dividends.”


A black-and-white photo of a crowd of people, many of them locking arms or holding signs.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. A. Philip Randolph is in the front, second from right. Credit...PhotoQuest/Getty Images

A black-and-white photograph of a man in a suit jacket and tie.

A. Philip Randolph, circa 1937. Credit...MPI/Getty Images

I keep a running list of ideas and observations that could be used for columns or essays, and this week, my original plan was to write about A. Philip Randolph, the labor leader and civil rights activist whose work in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s was crucial to the growth and success of the civil rights movement. He had a starring role at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which itself was the culmination of an effort Randolph had begun in 1941 with his fellow activist Bayard Rustin and other allies in the civil rights and labor movements.


I couldn’t make the column work — these things happen! — but I still want to share some of the material, both because it’s intrinsically interesting and because it illustrates a point I have made, and will continue to make, in my work for The Times.


To the extent that Randolph is still known to the public, it is as one of the more moderate leaders of the civil rights movement, a member of the old guard in contrast to younger leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But Randolph was at one point a young man, and as a young man, he was a fierce and radical proponent of economic justice as the foundation for civil rights and democratic equality.


You can see much of this in Randolph’s writing for The Messenger, an independent magazine he co-founded in 1917 with assistance from the Socialist Party (and the help of his wife, Lucille Campbell Green), which was still a significant force in American politics at the time. For example, in a 1919 piece, “Lynching: Capitalism Its Cause; Socialism Its Cure,” Randolph condemns “the economic arrangement in the South” as the “fundamental cause of race prejudice, which is the fuse that causes the magazine of capitalism to explode into race conflicts.” He blasts “prejudice as the chief weapon in the South which enables the capitalists to exploit both races” and warns that in actuality “capitalism knows no color line” and that capitalists “will coin the blood, sweat and suffering of white women and white children or black women and black children into dollars and dividends.”


In one of Randolph’s more arresting formulations, found in a 1926 address, “The Negro Faces the Future,” delivered not long after he was elected president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, he connects the Black experience of slavery and discrimination to the entire class system: “From the beginning of the systematic trade in men up to the present moment, the Negro is the one outstanding unpaid worker in the modern world,” Randolph said.


“To the end of correcting this evil,” he continued, “the Negro’s next gift to America will be in economic democracy” and “demonstrating the virtue of the principle of collective bargaining.”


One of the points I’ve tried to make in my column and in this newsletter is that there are multiple and competing traditions of freedom in American society and that one of the most powerful is an egalitarian vision that makes economic security the foundation of democratic self-rule. A related point I hope to explore in detail this year is that by virtue of the largely shared experience of slavery and peonage, the African American political tradition is especially attuned to the vital importance of economic equality to building a truly democratic society.


Here, I’ll let Randolph have the final word: “The insistent cry for freedom on the part of the Negro has kept the American people face to face with the fact that a democracy has not fulfilled its highest mission so long as there are people in the country, black or white, who cannot participate in the affairs of government, industry or society generally as free, intelligent human beings.”



6) The list of U.S. mass shootings continues to grow.

New York Times, January 22, 2023


A vigil in Chesapeake, Va., for victims of a mass shooting at a Walmart that killed six store employees in November 2022.

A vigil in Chesapeake, Va., for victims of a mass shooting at a Walmart that killed six store employees in November 2022. Credit...Carlos Bernate for The New York Times

The mass shooting that left at least 10 people dead in Monterey Park, Calif., on Saturday night is the deadliest in the United States since the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, last May, when nineteen children and two teachers were killed.


Saturday’s shooting is also the second major attack in less than a week in California. Last Monday, gunmen killed six people in Tulare County, Calif., including a 16-year-old mother and her 10-month-old child, in a shooting that the police said was likely gang related.


There is no consensus on what constitutes a mass shooting, complicating the efforts of government, nonprofits and news organizations to document the scope of the problem. The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group, defines a mass shooting as involving at least four people killed or injured.


By that measure, there have been 33 mass shootings so far in 2023, according to the group. It counted 648 mass shootings in 2022, 21 of which involved five or more fatalities.


Here is a partial list of recent mass shootings in the United States:


Nov. 22: Chesapeake, Va.


A Walmart employee opened fire in a break room as the store was preparing to close for the night, killing six people, the authorities said. The gunman was found dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the police.


Nov. 20: Colorado Springs


Five people were killed and 17 injured by gunfire in a shooting at an L.G.B.T.Q. nightclub. The gunman was injured and taken to a hospital.


Nov. 13: Charlottesville, Va.


Three University of Virginia students, all members of the football team, were killed and two were wounded when a gunman, a former player, opened fire in a garage after a field trip to see a play in Washington.


Oct. 13: Raleigh, N.C.


A gunman, described by the authorities only as a “white male juvenile,” killed five people, including an off-duty police officer, and wounded two others. The attacks drew a large response from law enforcement agencies to the residential area near the Neuse River Greenway, a popular bike trail for Raleigh residents.


Sept. 7: Memphis, Tenn.


Memphis was effectively closed down during an hourslong manhunt for a 19-year-old gunman who killed four people while streaming some of the violence on Facebook Live. The violence involved several shootings and carjackings over the course of the day.


July 4: Highland Park, Ill.


Seven people were killed and dozens more wounded when a gunman opened fire from the roof of a building in Highland Park, a suburb north of Chicago, during a Fourth of July parade. The 21-year-old was taken into custody several hours later.



7) Early Abortion Looks Nothing Like What You’ve Been Told

By Erika Bliss, Joan Fleischman and Michele Gomez, Jan. 22, 2023

Drs. Bliss, Fleishman and Gomez are co-founders of the My Abortion Network and primary care doctors who provide abortions as part of their primary care practices.


Early pregnancy tissue after manual uterine aspiration procedures for abortion. The first image shows fragments of uterine lining (decidua). The next images show the pregnancy tissue (gestational sacs) from five weeks through nine weeks of pregnancy. Credit...My Abortion Network

Primary care clinicians like us who provide early abortions in their practices have long known that the pregnancy tissue we remove does not look like what most people expect. After Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and early pregnancy termination was banned across more than a dozen states, we felt it was important to make this information public and show the images we have seen more widely.


It’s important to us to counter medical misinformation related to early pregnancy because about 80 percent of abortions in the United States occur at nine weeks or earlier. So much of the imagery that people see about abortion comes from abortion opponents who have spent decades spreading misleading fetal imagery to further their cause.


Last fall, as members of the MYA (My Abortion) Network, a clinician-led organization dedicated to educating people about abortion and expanding early abortion services into primary care settings, we launched a multimedia project to provide accurate information regarding early pregnancy tissue after abortion.


The Guardian published our first photos on Oct. 19; they went viral, appearing in media outlets and getting shared widely on social media.


Many people, even those who support abortion rights, did not believe the photos were accurate. Some insisted we had deliberately removed the embryos before taking the photos. The images weren’t consistent with those often seen in embryological textbooks, magnified on ultrasounds or used in anti-abortion propaganda; these enlarged images are not what you see with the naked eye after an abortion. A Stanford gynecologic pathologist has validated our photos, but many people could not believe the pictures were presented unaltered.


We weren’t surprised by the vitriol. We knew we’d face pushback. While we have long felt comfortable showing our patients the pregnancy tissue after an abortion, we went through serious consideration before making the images public on our website. We did not want our message to undermine our unequivocal support for patients who make this decision at later stages when there is a visible embryo or fetus.


We also recognized that people taking abortion pills or having miscarriages might find the images confusing because they don’t show the blood passed out of the body. And, of course, someone who has had a miscarriage after a desired pregnancy might feel considerable sadness when viewing the photos.


But showing these images is vital to counter misinformation, not only for patients but for our colleagues as well. Dr. Jeffrey Levine is a professor of family medicine and director of reproductive and gender health programs at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He’s been teaching abortion care to fellows, residents and medical students for nearly two decades.


“When we examine the tissue after a procedure, everyone is consistently surprised. They expect to see an embryo, fetus or at least some body parts,” he told us, describing the students’ experience as “underwhelmed.”


But our primary daily work, of course, is with patients. And when our patients look at the tissue, it often makes them realize how much guilt or even shame they have internalized from society’s judgment in making this deeply personal decision.


Relief was how Jewel experienced seeing the pregnancy tissue. “I was really scared about all the horror stories and the trauma. The anxiety of coming here was worse than actually going through it,” she told Dr. Fleischman.


In many ways, medical care related to abortion has never been more straightforward. And we know abortion is an important part of primary care and could be widely available in mainstream practice settings — if the Dobbs decision hadn’t suddenly thrust many of our colleagues in states across the country into jeopardy.


Instead, we find ourselves in a country divided by politics rather than by patient need. Ensuring that our patients, colleagues and the general public have clear, objective information about abortion is critical for patients to get the care they deserve.



8) In Moscow, a Quiet Antiwar Protest With Flowers and Plush Toys

Amid Russia’s crackdown on resistance to the war in Ukraine, some have dared to lay bouquets and other offerings at a statue of a Ukrainian poet, protesting the recent Russian strike on civilians in Dnipro.

By Valerie Hopkins and Nanna Heitmann, Jan. 23, 2023


Laying flowers at the statue of the Ukrainian poet and writer Lesya Ukrainka in Moscow, in memoriam to those killed by a Russian missile strike in Dnipro, Ukraine. this month.

Laying flowers at the statue of the Ukrainian poet and writer Lesya Ukrainka in Moscow, in memoriam to those killed by a Russian missile strike in Dnipro, Ukraine. this month. Credit...Nanna Heitmann for The New York Times

Police buses seem ubiquitous in Moscow since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, watching over much of the city center, including a statue of one of Ukraine’s most famous poets that has become a popular spot for a silent but emotional outpouring of antiwar sentiment.


Since a Russian missile struck a residential building in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro nine days ago, killing 46 and injuring 80 others, Muscovites have been coming to lay flowers — along with plush toys and photographs of the destroyed building — at the feet of the statue of Lesya Ukrainka, a Ukrainian poet and playwright who lived during the last decades of the Russian Empire.


The ritual, after one of the biggest death tolls from one strike since the war began, has become an expression of sorrow, shame and opposition to the war. But at regular intervals, the authorities have been removing the flowers.


“In contemporary Russia, under these conditions, it is a battle — a silent battle,” said Tatyana Krupina, a 28-year-old chemist who went with a small group of friends to lay flowers last week.


This is what passes for protest in Russia in January 2023, 11 months after the invasion. Russians have also begun laying flowers in other cities, spurred by social media.


The flower tussle is one of the first public protests taking place on a large scale since the days after President Vladimir V. Putin’s announcement last September that hundreds of thousands of men would be called up to fight.


Russia has imposed harsh penalties for criticizing the war, or even calling it one, so for many Russians, laying flowers seems like a rare opportunity to show dissent without being arrested.


For antigovernment Russians remaining in Russia, the flowers remind them that they are not alone in their opposition to the war, even as the propaganda becomes increasingly vitriolic and the letters Z and V, which have become pro-war symbols, are etched on public buildings.


And for Russians who fled because of persecution, potential conscription or a refusal to pay taxes that will fuel the war machine, the flower memorial is a sign that there are still people left in the country who are brave enough to protest.


“This is not only a way to show people in Ukraine that there are people in Russia who do not condone what is happening; it shows people that they are not alone,” said Aleksandr Plyushchev, a popular Russian journalist with a significant following on YouTube.


But even laying flowers has potential consequences. At least seven people have been detained, according to a New York Times journalist who witnessed the episodes over the past week. Four were detained after placing flowers at the site.


The police have tried to prevent people from photographing the memorial, and have told others to delete the images from their phones. But people keep arriving, looking for an opening when many are not gathered around the monument so that it does not seem like an  illegal public gathering — and quietly placing their flowers.


“My endurance is finished; I want to show my opinion,” a lawyer named Ekaterina Varenik said on Saturday afternoon after placing flowers on the statue. She was referring to not being able to express her opinion publicly.


Ms. Varenik, 26, said she last protested when the opposition politician Aleksei A. Navalny was arrested two years ago. She stayed home when thousands protested the war mobilization. But, she said of the crackdown, “Every day it gets worse and worse, and stricter and stricter.”


For more than half an hour, Ms. Varenik stood in front of the statue with a homemade poster that read, “Ukraine: not our enemies, but our brothers.”


She was detained by the police shortly afterward, and could face up to 15 days in prison.


For many, standing in front of the statue is intensely emotional.


“How can this be happening?” sobbed a pensioner named Rita who declined to provide her surname out of fear of retribution, and gave her age only as over 50. “People are dying: children, the elderly,” she said. “It is just awful. Maybe this will be a reminder to people that we are living in a terrifying world.”


Some prominent Russians have minimized the protests.


“Bringing flowers to a monument does not require courage, or even money,” Dmitri L. Bykov, a poet and writer who is critical of the government and lives in exile, said on Wednesday during a discussion streamed on YouTube.


“This is aesthetically beautiful, but completely pointless,” said Mr. Bykov, who Bellingcat’s investigative journalists concluded was the victim of an attempted poisoning in 2019 with a nerve agent similar to the one used on Mr. Navalny. He said, “There is only one positive effect: Maybe someone will find out who Lesya Ukrainka is — a great poet — and read her work.”


The statue has been the site of altercations with pro-war nationalists, who have denounced the mourners and accused them in reports to the authorities of discrediting the Russian military, which is now a crime in Russia.


The Kremlin’s crackdown on political opposition and protests accelerated after the invasion of Ukraine. About 20,000 protesters have been detained since the war began, according to OVD Info, a human rights watchdog. Many lost their jobs after protesting, signing petitions or writing social media posts critical of the war.


Ilya Yashin, a municipal councilor in Moscow, was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison for speaking about Russian atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine. A 19-year-old university student from the city of Arkhangelsk is facing up to 10 years in jail for social media posts criticizing the war.


In that context, defying the police to lay flowers may require a degree of bravery, but it also takes a mental toll that has become harder to bear as the war grinds on.


“I know that at any minute the police can come to my house and arrest me,” said Maksim Shatalov, 36, a former flight attendant who said he had been fired from his job because of his antiwar position.


Mr. Shatalov became friends with a tight-knit circle of activists after being thrown into an avtozak, or police van, after a protest in April. During the summer and fall, they protested against the mobilization, painted antiwar messages around in the city in chalk and laid flowers at other memorials.


Mr. Shatalov and his friend Anna Saifytdinova, 36, brought flowers together to the statue one recent evening. She had four white roses — Russians give an even number of flowers as a tribute to the dead.


Because one of their friends, a minor, had been detained after placing a picture of the devastated Dnipro building at the base of the statue, Ms. Saifytdinova waited until there were no people around so they could not be accused of staging an unsanctioned protest.


“I already spent eight days in jail for protesting mobilization,” she said. “If I am detained again, I face criminal charges.”


That could mean a sentence of up to 10 years.


“It’s like Russian roulette,” she said. “You never know when something bad could happen, or when it won’t happen. Some people have been detained for holding a blank piece of paper in public.”


Mr. Shatalov said he was planning to leave Russia soon because he feared arrest.


“I believe that I would do more good in another country than by staying here without a job and without a livelihood,” he said. “What will I accomplish when I sit in a prison camp: Will I be beaten up constantly or kept in a cage all the time like Navalny? Or someone from the private military company Wagner will come to try to recruit me to fight in Ukraine with threats that if I don’t sign up? They’ll just drive me to the point where I kill myself.”


Still, some who risk arrest insist on showing their resistance.


“Moscow is a huge city, and everyone is quiet,” said Ms. Varenik, the lawyer, before she was detained for her antiwar poster. “I want to show the world that we should not be quiet. We allow all of this with our silence.”



9) As Thousands Fall Behind on Rent, Public Housing Faces ‘Disaster’

The New York City Housing Authority collected just 65 percent of the rent it charged in the 12 months leading up to December, the lowest percentage in the agency’s history.

By Mihir Zaveri, Jan. 23, 2023


The Wagner Houses public housing development

A sharp decline in rent payments presents a crisis for the New York City Housing Authority. Credit...Hilary Swift for The New York Times

It has been years since public housing in New York City has received enough money from the government to deal with the aging buildings, spotty heating systems, malfunctioning elevators, rats and more that have made it an emblem of neglect.


Now, plummeting rent payments from residents threaten to escalate the crisis in the nation’s oldest, largest public housing system.


More than 1,600 public housing agencies nationwide — from those in Richmond, Va., to San Francisco — have faced a “significant decrease” in collections since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as tenants lost work or spent more on cleaning supplies and other safety measures. When evictions were put on hold, people could miss payments without fear of losing their homes. Aid to help cover the mountain of back rent was sometimes confusing to access or left people in public housing out entirely, leaving local agencies to deal with the consequences.


But nowhere has the phenomenon been as dire as in New York. The New York City Housing Authority collected just 65 percent of the rent it charged in the 12 months leading up to December, the lowest percentage in the agency’s nearly 100-year history and an alarming slide from the annual prepandemic numbers of 90 percent or higher.


“It’s really just a recipe for disaster,” Lisa Bova-Hiatt, who took over as CEO of NYCHA on an interim basis in September, said in an interview.


She added, “Without money, we can’t do anything else. We can’t fund the much needed repairs. We can’t handle emergencies.”


The rent problems are a fresh setback for an institution that, despite its many troubles, is vital to New York, providing some of the few truly affordable homes in one of the nation’s most expensive cities. NYCHA’s more than 270 developments are home to some 340,000 people.


But the shortfall, amounting to almost half a billion dollars, threatens to impede the agency’s ability to repair faulty elevators and leaky roofs, run day-to-day operations and do the huge amount of construction work required to address lead, mold and other dismal conditions in thousands of apartments. That may prompt exasperated residents to withhold rent.


The agency is already feeling the toll. This year, it cut dozens of contracts for legal, financial and administrative work and eliminated about 150 vacant positions. NYCHA has also been pulling from its financial reserves, which are so low that they cannot even cover one month’s worth of expenses.


“I am very, very alarmed about the situation NYCHA is in financially,” said Tim Kaiser, the executive director of the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association, a Washington-based group that works on behalf of about 1,900 housing agencies and has raised the alarm with the federal government about the rent issues.


New York’s public housing system was once heralded as a progressive triumph, providing solid, stable homes for working-class people. But dwindling funds, scandal and mismanagement have made it the focus of one of the city’s most urgent crises and a high-profile example of the effects of the federal government’s retreat from housing. NYCHA estimates it needs a staggering $40 billion to return its developments to decent condition.


A monitor, appointed as part of a 2019 agreement with the federal government to push NYCHA to address its problems, delivered a mixed verdict on the agency’s progress. The monitor said, for instance, that 108 elevators needed to be replaced by the end of 2022. NYCHA said it could replace eight.


Mayor Eric Adams is pushing a contentious plan to place the city’s housing developments under private management, in New York’s version of a program developed by the Obama administration to decrease reliance on inconsistent government funding. The city said earlier this month that between 2015 and the end of last year, it had either completed or started renovations on some 36,000 apartments under the plan.


Another plan calls for some developments to be transferred over to a new public benefit corporation, which officials predict could generate more than $5 billion to improve the agency’s housing.


But without adequate rent collection, typically totaling about $1 billion every year before the pandemic, NYCHA may not be able to cover salaries, upfront construction costs and other day-to-day operations needed to carry out the more ambitious solutions.


Making matters worse, NYCHA’s costs appear to be ballooning. The agency spent about $267 million in 2019 to meet the provisions of the agreement with the federal government, according to Annika Lescott-Martinez, NYCHA’s chief financial officer. Last year, it spent $392 million, as its obligations under the agreement ramped up.


“We’re receiving less revenue, but spending more at the very same time,” she said.


According to the Citizens Budget Commission, a nonprofit fiscal watchdog, NYCHA’s operating costs per unit have grown about 50 percent since 2013 and exceed those of other types of affordable housing. The federal agreement and the increasing costs of benefits and overtime are the major reasons for the increase, said Sean Campion, the commission’s director of housing and economic development studies.


Rent is generally capped at 30 percent of a resident’s income and adjusted if a household’s income goes up or down. From 2019 through 2021, the agency received more than 500,000 requests for rent adjustments.


Even with many adjustments made, the total sum of rent owed has continued to increase.


“Some folks got misinformed that they didn’t have to pay; there would be emergency funding available and they wouldn’t have to pay,” Mr. Kaiser said. “I think in other instances, the eviction moratorium kind of served as a protection in the minds of some, that they would not be evicted, and therefore they would not pay their rent.”


One of the main problems lies in how New York legislators designed the state’s now-depleted pandemic rent relief program. Public housing tenants were given the lowest priority of those eligible for assistance because legislators figured they had access to other safety nets.


NYCHA residents still applied for at least $130 million worth of aid — but they received none. Leaders in the State Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul have not made any commitments to provide more funds, and a replenishment of the federal pot is unlikely now that Republicans, who have frequently criticized NYCHA, control the House of Representatives.


That means for tens of thousands of NYCHA residents who are already dealing with the effects of deteriorating buildings, owed back rent is now a new source of constant anxiety.


Stacey Rollins, 56, has lived in the Robert F. Wagner Houses in East Harlem her whole life. But during the pandemic, Ms. Rollins, who works overnight shifts for NYCHA taking calls from residents about emergencies, struggled to cover rent while also paying for her daughter’s college tuition. She eventually amassed a debt of roughly $15,000 for about 12 months of missed payments. It was her first time owing back rent, she said.


Ms. Rollins still owes about $9,000. She applied for rent relief in early 2021, but was told there would be no money coming.


“I know there’s no help out there,” she said. “I’m going to just concentrate on having tunnel vision right now, just trying to make it up.”


Luis Henriquez Carrero, the litigation director at Manhattan Legal Services, a nonprofit that represents tenants in court, said some residents were finding it difficult to figure out how much rent they owed and whether some of it could be abated for repair issues or covered by city aid programs.


In the past, he said, those disputes would often have been litigated in housing court, but NYCHA largely stopped suing tenants for unpaid rent in 2022 and reformed how it approaches evictions.


Agency officials said it was unlikely that filing court cases would have made a huge dent in addressing unpaid rent. They said they were working on better ways to connect residents to aid programs.


In some cases, there are disputes about how much rent is actually owed. Last year, NYCHA paid $190,000 as part of a settlement with a group of residents who accused the agency of miscalculating rents.


Jenice Zayas, who lives in the Lehman Village Houses in East Harlem, said she recently received a bill saying she owed $13,000. But Ms. Zayas, 49, said the bill did not reflect a nearly $7,000 rent abatement she was promised after she sued NYCHA in housing court to try to get repairs done in her apartment.


NYCHA, however, said that it had already applied rent abatements and credits totaling almost $9,500, and that there were no other abatements that had been agreed to. The agency said that it had been prevented from entering the apartment to make repairs.


When combined with the routine elevator outages, leaks and hot-water problems, Ms. Zayas, who is unemployed but studying to become a yoga instructor, said the rent situation was another blow. Ms. Zayas, who lives with her 17-year-old son, has also applied for rent relief.


“At this point, it’s beyond just mental health,” she said. “It’s just overall quality of life.”


My NYT Comment:

I left New York in 1966. Before that, I had visited many housing projects throughout New York City from the age of 16. I was selling a weekly socialist newspaper for 25 cents a copy or $1.00 for a year's subscription. It was dismal work that I was totally uncomfortable with. I hated asking people living in these filthy, dilapidated, urine-soaked buildings, elevators and hallways for money. (The urine was the result of children playing outside and needing to go to the bathroom and not making it to their apartments in time.) These buildings have been filthy and dilapidated even then and are, of course, much worse now. And the city is complaining about unpaid rent? How about compensation for being forced to live in sub-standard housing for decades? Housing is a human right, not a privilege! —Bonnie Weinstein




10) What We Know About Tyre Nichols’s Lethal Encounter With Memphis Police

Lawyers for Mr. Nichols’s family said he was beaten by officers for three minutes, according to video footage that has yet to be publicly released.

By Rick Rojas, Jan. 23, 2023


Family members and activists held a rally for Tyre Nichols last week at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.
Family members and activists held a rally for Tyre Nichols last week at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. Credit...Mark Weber/Daily Memphian, via Associated Press

Tyre Nichols, 29, was beaten by Memphis police officers for three minutes on Jan. 7 after the officers had stopped him for reckless driving, lawyers for his family said on Monday. The stop escalated into a violent confrontation that ended with Mr. Nichols hospitalized in critical condition. Three days later, he died.


The circumstances of the traffic stop remain murky, as officials have disclosed little information. But Mr. Nichols’s death has stoked anger and frustration in Memphis as his family, their lawyers and activists seek answers.


Memphis is now waiting for the release of video footage of the stop, which city officials have vowed to make public. Mr. Nichols’s family and their lawyers watched the video on Monday. In it, they could see that Mr. Nichols, who was Black, had been pepper sprayed, shocked with a stun gun and restrained, Antonio Romanucci, one of the lawyers, told reporters after watching the footage.


The police, in an initial statement, said that a “confrontation occurred” as the officers, all of whom are also Black, approached Mr. Nichols’s vehicle on the evening of Jan. 7 and he ran away. There was then “another confrontation” as officers arrested him, the statement said.


“He was a human piñata for those police officers,” Mr. Romanucci said Monday, standing with Mr. Nichols’s mother, RowVaughn Wells. “Not only was it violent, it was savage.”


What is the status of the investigation into Mr. Nichols’s death?


State and federal investigations are underway as prosecutors determine whether to pursue criminal charges against the officers who were involved in the stop. An internal investigation by the Memphis Police Department has already found that the officers used excessive force and failed to intervene or provide help.


On Friday, the department announced that the five officers involved — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — had been fired. The officers had all joined the department between 2017 and 2020.


“The egregious nature of this incident is not a reflection of the good work that our officers perform, with integrity, every day,” Cerelyn Davis, the Memphis police chief, said in a statement.


The Memphis Police Association, the union representing the city’s officers, declined to comment on the firings. “The citizens of Memphis, and, more importantly, the family of Mr. Nichols deserve to know the complete account of the events leading up to his death” and what may have contributed to it, Lt. Essica Cage-Rosario, the union’s president, said in a statement.


Mr. Nichols’s family is pushing for the officers to be charged with first-degree murder. “Anything short of that we will not accept,” Rodney Wells, Mr. Nichols’s stepfather, said at a news conference on Monday after watching the videos, which he described as “horrific.”


Who was Tyre Nichols?


Mr. Nichols worked the second shift at a FedEx facility, the shipping company that is a major employer and corporate presence in Memphis. Every evening, around 7 p.m., he would return to his mother’s house for his “lunch” break, according to his family. He had worked there for roughly nine months.


He had a 4-year-old son. He went to the same Starbucks most mornings around 8:30 a.m., his mother said. He often went to Shelby Farms, a sprawling public park just outside Memphis. He photographed sunsets and skateboarded, a passion that he’d had since he was 6 — one his stepfather thought he was too old for. “You’ve got to put that skateboard down,” Mr. Wells remembered telling Mr. Nichols not long before he died. “You’ve got a full-time job now.”


His mother said that Mr. Nichols had her name tattooed on his arm. “That made me proud,” she said. “Most kids don’t put their mom’s name. My son was a beautiful soul.”


According to the family’s lawyers, Mr. Nichols told the officers during the Jan. 7 events that he just wanted to go home, and in what they believed were his final words, he called out for his mother. Her home was about 100 yards from where he was beaten, the lawyers said.


When will the video of the incident be released?


City officials have promised transparency, including the public release of the footage of the beating. But the timing for that remains unclear. It could be an additional week, at least, the family’s lawyers said. Other details are also uncertain, such as how much footage is being released and whether it is only from the officers’ body cameras or includes other sources.


Mr. Nichols’s family has urged the community to give officials time to finish their investigation.


But on Monday, they and their lawyers shared some of what they had seen on the video.


“His mother couldn’t get through the first minute of it,” Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer who is representing the family, said in the news conference. “What we can tell you about the video is that it is appalling, it is deplorable, it is heinous.”


Mr. Crump said Mr. Nichols had pleaded with officers for an explanation of why he had been stopped before things escalated.


“‘What did I do?’ — that was his question,” Mr. Crump said. “‘What did I do?’”


Jessica Jaglois and Laura Faith Kebede contributed reporting.



11) Mastermind Behind Amazon Murders of Journalist and Activist Is Caught, Police Say

Brazilian police officials accused an illegal fishing trafficker of ordering an assassination in June that left a British journalist and a Brazilian activist dead deep in the Amazon.

By Jack Nicas and Flávia Milhorance, Jan. 23, 2023

Reporting from Rio de Janeiro.


Police officers after recovering the bodies of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips last year in Atalaia do Norte, Brazil.
Police officers after recovering the bodies of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips last year in Atalaia do Norte, Brazil. Credit...Victor Moriyama for The New York Times

An illegal-fishing trafficker ordered henchmen to kill an expert on Indigenous tribes in June because he was disrupting the illicit game trade, Brazilian authorities said Monday, leading to an assassination that also left a British journalist dead. The killings attracted international attention to the bloody conflict over the Amazon rainforest.


Brazilian federal police officials said they had gathered evidence that showed Rubén Dario da Silva Villar, a Colombian man widely known as Colombia, had ordered the killing of Bruno Pereira, 41, an activist and former Brazilian government official, because he was helping Indigenous tribes combat illegal fishing and hunting.


As a result, they said, he was hurting Mr. Villar’s business.


When other men went to carry out the orders, pursuing Mr. Pereira in a boat and shooting him with shotguns, they also killed the person he was with: Dom Phillips, 57, a British freelance journalist who had written for The Guardian and The New York Times and was traveling in the Amazon at work on a book.


Mr. Villar is now at least the fourth man arrested in the murders of Mr. Pereira and Mr. Phillips. The federal police have also charged three other men with killing the men or helping to hide their bodies. The police said they were also searching for another man who they believe gave one of the murder weapons to the gunmen and later helped to hide the bodies.


Law enforcement officials said they planned to charge Mr. Villar with the murders, largely ending the investigation into the killings. But Indigenous activists in the region said more work needed to be done.


“Who is financing these people so they can continue their illegal activities?” asked Eliesio Marubo, a lawyer with Univaja, an Indigenous association that, along with Mr. Pereira, helped organize patrols of the region. “The federal police didn’t answer that. We need a deeper investigation.”


The police said that they believed Mr. Villar ordered the killings based on testimony from witnesses and records that showed he supplied the ammunition used in the killing and paid for the lawyers of one of the gunmen.


The Times was unable to contact Mr. Villar or a lawyer representing him. A lawyer who had been working on his behalf said he had left the case.


Mr. Pereira and Mr. Phillips were traveling deep in the Amazon in early June to meet with a group of Indigenous men who were patrolling the Javari Valley, a remote Indigenous reservation the size of Portugal that is home to at least 19 isolated groups.


The Indigenous men had taken up the patrols in an effort to fight rampant illegal fishing and hunting in the region, which had increased after the Brazilian government largely abandoned the area, particularly under the administration of the former far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro.


Mr. Pereira, who was once Brazil’s former top official on isolated tribes, was training the Indigenous men to document crimes using smartphones and drones, and Mr. Phillips was interviewing them for a book he was writing about the way people were trying to save the Amazon.


The Indigenous patrols had been successful at times, including leading authorities to a poacher with 650 pounds of illegal game and nearly 900 pounds of illegal fish. The patrols had upset Mr. Villar, who had run a trafficking operation in the area, a violent, crime-ridden region of the rainforest on the border of Brazil, Colombia and Peru, police said.


The police first arrested Mr. Villar in July for using a false identification when questioned about the murders. He was later released. The police arrested him again in December for breaking the rules of his previous release. He has been in detention since.



12) Alec Baldwin Didn’t Have to Talk to the Police. Neither Do You.

By Farhad Manjoo, Jan. 25, 2023


In a color photograph against a blurred backdrop of a dry scrub landscape, Alec Baldwin, bearded in a baggy blue T shirt, holds a cell phone to his right ear as he holds a surgical mask in his left hand.
Jim Weber/Santa Fe New Mexican, via Associated Press

Video: Don’t Talk to the Police


Shortly after a prop gun Alec Baldwin was holding fired a bullet that killed a cinematographer and wounded a director on the set of the movie “Rust,” in October 2021, he told the police in New Mexico that he’d be willing to do whatever they requested, including sitting for an interview at the station.


In an interrogation room later that afternoon, detectives began by informing Baldwin of his rights: He had the right to remain silent. Anything he said could be used against him in court. He was free to consult with an attorney; if he could not afford an attorney, one would be appointed for him. And he could stop the interrogation at any point he wished.


“My only question is, am I being charged with something?” Baldwin asked.


Not at all, the police said. Reading his rights, one detective told him, was “just a formality.”


And so, without his attorney present, while the police recorded him, Baldwin talked. And talked. And talked. At that point, Baldwin knew only that the film’s director, Joel Souza, and its cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, had been injured; detectives would inform him at the end of the interrogation that Hutchins had died. Still, for about an hour, Baldwin not only answered detectives’ many questions about the shooting but also offered his own theories about the incident and suggested the next steps the police might pursue in their investigation.


To people unfamiliar with the American criminal justice system, Baldwin’s decision sounds reasonable: Something terrible happened, and he wanted to help. But defense lawyers I talked to said Baldwin’s case should serve as a reminder that if you are involved in a serious incident, it’s best not talk to the police unless you have an attorney present.


Prosecutors in New Mexico announced last week that they planned to charge Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s armorer, who is responsible for weapons on a movie set, with involuntary manslaughter in Hutchins’s death. They argue that Baldwin had a responsibility to check that the gun he was holding was safe. The prosecutor’s argument has shocked many in the film industry who say that it is the crew’s responsibility, not an actor’s, to ensure that weapons are safe.


In that first police interview, Baldwin told interrogators that Gutierrez-Reed handed him the gun and assured him it was safe: “She said, ‘Do you want to check?’ — and I didn’t want to insult her, we never had a problem. I said, ‘I’m good.’”


Prosecutors have yet to file charges, so it is not clear what evidence they would use against Baldwin or what their legal arguments will be — but given that they’ve said Baldwin violated his legal responsibility to use the gun safely, his admission that he never checked the gun may itself incriminate him.


Also, in a second conversation with the police a week later, Baldwin said it was actually Dave Halls, the film’s first assistant director, who handed him the gun while announcing, “cold gun.” (Halls has since agreed to a plea deal with prosectors.)


“It presents a huge problem if he ever wants to actually testify,” Joshua Ritter, a criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor in Los Angeles, said of Baldwin’s decision to talk to cops as well as the news media. “If he takes the stand to try to explain his side of things to the jury,” he will need to explain any possible contradictions in these prior statements, Ritter said.


The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution allows Americans to refuse to answer questions from law enforcement. Yet despite the ritualistic incantation on the Miranda warning on every TV police procedural, silence is a right that people can find hard to accept. If you’re convinced of your innocence, aren’t you obligated to help the police solve the matter under investigation? Refusing to talk to the police seems like something people do only when they’ve got something to hide.


I have only a passing interest in Baldwin’s guilt or innocence. Several years ago, though, I came upon the work of James Duane, a professor at Regent Law School in Virginia who has become a Johnny Appleseed of Fifth Amendment advocacy. A video of a lecture Duane gave a decade ago on the importance of the Fifth Amendment, “Don’t Talk to the Police,” has been viewed millions of times on YouTube, and Duane has since given his talk dozens of times around the country. The title of his book “You Have the Right to Remain Innocent” sums up the case for silence, since the presumption of innocence and the burden prosecutors bear to prove guilt even when the accused remains silent are the bedrock of American criminal law.


Duane’s work has turned me into a zealot for the right to remain silent — and when I watched Baldwin blithely sign away his rights, I winced. (His talking to several reporters about the case would be a separate concern.)


Of course, we have no idea how Baldwin’s words will play in his case. But his case hints at the danger that innocent people with far less money and power than Baldwin can bring upon themselves by doing what they think is the “right thing” — talking to the police.


“The average American — even if they’re a highly sophisticated college graduate or a law school student — really doesn’t know an awful lot about the many different ways in which even innocent people can regret for the rest of their lives the biggest mistake of their lives, the decision to waive their Fifth Amendment right and agree to talk to the police,” Duane told me.


Looking beyond the Baldwin case, Duane argues that a key danger is that in trying to defend yourself to the police, you may unwittingly admit some wrongdoing. Navigating around such dangers is made all the more difficult because courts have given the police wide leeway to lie to people being interrogated.


“They will lie to you about what crime they are actually investigating,” Duane writes in his book, “whether they regard you as a suspect, whether they plan to prosecute you, what evidence they have against you, whether your answers may help you, whether your statements are off the record, and whether the other witnesses have agreed to talk to them — even about what those witnesses have or have not said.”


When you talk to the police, it’s unlikely that your whole story will be relayed to the jury during a trial. Duane argues that federal and state rules of evidence make it much easier for prosecutors and the police to present damaging statements from an interrogation than for defense attorneys to present exculpatory information from the same interview. Say you vehemently deny shooting a man, explain that you’ve never owned a gun and don’t know how to shoot, and point out that you weren’t anywhere near the scene of the crime — but also admit, in passing, that, “Yeah, sure, I never liked the guy, but who did?” Even if all of that is true, Duane says, the jury might hear only the worst at trial, with an officer testifying, “He admitted to me that he never liked the guy.”


Duane says that while prosecutors can ask an officer who interviewed a defendant anything they want about the statement, hearsay rules can greatly limit what defense attorneys can elicit from the officer on cross-examination about other portions of the same statement.


Do these scenarios sound far-fetched? The data says otherwise. Since 1989, the Innocence Project has used DNA evidence to help exonerate 375 innocent people falsely convicted of crimes. About 29 percent of the exonerated had been convicted in part because of false confessions. Research has found that most false confessions occur after interrogations lasting a half dozen hours or more and that virtually all involve police officers lying to suspects. Many also involve implicit promises of leniency that may give suspects an impression that talking is their only way out.


The Fifth Amendment is no mere formality. It is among the best defenses against government overreach that Americans enjoy. We should guard it vigorously. Anytime you’re asked to talk to the police about an incident you are involved in, there are just four words you need to say: “I want a lawyer.”