Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, February 10, 2023


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

March to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal 

With ILWU Port shutdown! 

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Assemble at noon, 400 North Point, S.F. March to Harry Bridges Plaza 

(Opposite the Ferry Building)

This is the hour to fight for Mumia’s freedom. On Thursday, Feb. 16th, longshore workers in ILWU Local 10will shut down the Ports of Oakland and San Francisco to demand freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal.


Mumia was framed for killing a police officer. With Tyree Nichols’ murder, we know who the real criminals are!


Other actions are being organized for Feb. 16:


Unions in South Africa will demonstrate in Pretoria at the U.S. Embassy, and in Durban at the U.S. Consulate.


Railroad workers in Japan (in the Doro-Chiba union) will organize a demonstration for Mumia in front of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.


Bay Area teachers will also teach on Mumia’s case on February 16th.


We call on all Bay Area justice supporters to join the ILWU action for Mumia’s freedom. 


Why now?Judge Lucretia Clemons of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has ordered the Philadelphia District Attorney to turn over its files—up to 200 boxes—to Mumia’s defense team. His lawyers expect to findfurther evidence that he was framed, that police coerced and bribed witnesses, and that extreme racism andjudicial bias have permeated all the proceedings against him.


What you can do now: In addition to participating in the actions of Feb. 16, we can write letters to Judge Clemons to demand Mumia’s immediate release. Here is her address:


Judge Lucretia Clemons, Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County 1220 Criminal Justice Center

1301 Filbert St.

Philadelphia, PA 19107


Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal www.laboractionmumia.org

(415) 483-4428

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.



John Beadle (Screenshot)


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



The writers' organization PEN America is circulating this petition on behalf of Jason Renard Walker, a Texas prisoner whose life is being threatened because of his exposés of the Texas prison system. 

See his book, Reports from within the Belly of the Beast; available on Amazon at:


Petition: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/protect-whistleblowers-in-carceral-settings



In the past year, we've learned that dozens of Federal Correction Institution Dublin employees sexually abused countless incarcerated people at the facility. Survivors' stories make clear that FCI Dublin staff specifically targeted immigrant women for abuse, and that ICE has knowingly detained and deported survivors and witnesses of sexual abuse by federal prison employees. Advocates have spoken with seven women who were sexually assaulted by prison staff and have already been deported, and at least 15 who are currently facing deportation (including at least six who are indefinitely detained by ICE).


We are writing to ask you to sign on to an open letter to the ICE leadership, demanding that they cease detaining and deporting noncitizen survivors and witnesses of prison staff sexual abuse, and release those currently in immigration detention. 


Sign on here:



You can read the full text of the open letter, and you can sign your organization on to the letter here:



Thanks for your consideration.





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.



February 6, 2023 

Statement from Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier released this statement from his prison cell to mark the 48th anniversary of his unjust incarceration.[1]

Greetings my friends, supporters, loved ones. I know I’ve probably said this, or things like this, many times. Every time I say it, it is as heartfelt as the first time. From the bottom of my soul, I thank you for your support. Living in here, year after year, day after day, week after week, plays on your concepts of time and your process of thought beyond what you can imagine.

Every day, I have to say a prayer in the morning, about keeping my spirit up and the spirits of our people.

The struggles of the American Indian Movement, which are the struggles of all of us, have never ended for me. They go on, week after week, month after month, year after year.

When I speak, sometimes I think I may sound a bit too sensitive, but my love for my people and the love supporters have shown me over the years is what keeps me alive. I don’t read your letters with my intellect. I read them with my heart.

My imprisonment is just another example of the treatment and policies our people have faced since the arrival of the first Europeans. I’m just an ordinary man and I come from a live-and-let-live society, like all our people. And yet we have had to live in a state of survival ever since Columbus landed.

There is nothing about my case, nothing about the Constitution, which is a treaty between the American people and the government, that warrants my continual imprisonment.

They have historically imprisoned or killed our people, taken our land and resources. Any time the law was in our favor they ignored the law or changed the law to benefit their agenda.

After they have gotten what they wanted, a generation later, some politician would apologize. They have never negotiated sincerely with us unless we had something they wanted and could not take, or we were an embarrassment before the world, or we were some sort of opposition. The opposition has always been the dominant reason for them making treaties with us. I could go on and on about the mistreatment of our people and on and on about my case, but the United Nations said it.

That the United States has kept me locked up because I am American Indian. The only thing that really makes me different from other American Indians who have been mistreated, had land taken, or been imprisoned by our government, is that it is all a matter of court record in my case. The violation of my Constitutional rights has been proven in court. The fabrication of every piece of evidence used to convict me has been proven in court.

The United Nations itself, comprised of 193 nations, has called for my release, noting I am a political prisoner. In my case as a political prisoner there does not have to be a prisoner exchange. The exchange they need to make is from their policy of injustice to a policy of justice.

It does not matter what your color and ethnicity are. Black, red, white, yellow, brown—if they can do it to me, they can do it to you. The Constitution of the United States is hanging by a thread. Again.

I want to say, from my heart to your heart, most sincerely—do your best to educate your children. Teach them to defend themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. Make them aware of our history. Teach them to plant a food forest or any plant that will provide for them in the future.

Again, from my heart to yours, plant a tree for me.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse.


Leonard Peltier

—Liberation, February 6, 2023



Write to:

Leonard Peltier 89637-132

USP Coleman 1  

P.O. Box 1033

Coleman, FL 33521

Note: Letters, address and return address must be in writing—no stickers—and on plain white paper.

[1] To learn what his case is about click here:


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.




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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) After Gutting Youth Services, Can the U.K. Still Cut Youth Crime?

Poor neighborhoods that have been hit hardest by austerity have also seen violence among young people surge or remain stubbornly high. Residents say that’s no coincidence.

By Euan Ward, Feb. 4, 2023

Euan Ward obtained police data and interviewed dozens of families, social workers and officials to understand the convergence of austerity cuts and youth violence in London’s poorest neighborhoods.


The Marcus Lipton Youth Club in South London in August. The center used to count on hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in government funding. Now, it gets almost none.

The Marcus Lipton Youth Club in South London in August. The center used to count on hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in government funding. Now, it gets almost none. Credit...Andrew Testa for The New York Times

The Marcus Lipton Youth Club is the last dedicated youth center still standing in its pocket of South London. Every day, the center opens its steel security gates to an area of the city plagued by youth violence, where half the children live in poverty.


But Marcus Lipton is teetering. Nearly half of London’s youth centers have closed in the past decade as Britain has cut money for youth services, as well as for welfare, schools and drug and alcohol treatment, according to the most recent available data. Marcus Lipton used to count on hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in government funding. Now, it gets nearly zero.


“Just look around you,” said Ira Campbell, 55, the manager of the club, which offers counseling, warm meals and sports for young people. “This place is a safe haven.”


Marcus Lipton lies in the shadow of the vast Loughborough Estate public housing project, where two of the Conservative government’s longtime priorities — fighting crime and trying to reduce the budget deficit — collide.


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is building new prisons and recruiting more police officers as part of his party’s pledge to be tough on crime. He has also proposed a budget that would make deep spending reductions in the coming years, forcing officials to find savings in programs that have already been whittled to the bone during a decade of austerity.


Budget cuts during that decade, instituted in response to the global financial crisis of 2008, hit the poorest neighborhoods of Britain’s capital particularly hard, according to the Institute for Government, an independent research group in London. Those neighborhoods are also where serious youth violence, like homicide, has risen or remained disproportionately high after austerity, data from the office of London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, shows.


Annual knife violence involving teenage victims in the city increased by nearly 40 percent to 5,332 in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic began, from 3,809 in 2012, according to police figures obtained by The New York Times. (There was later a dip in serious youth violence during virus-related lockdowns, most likely because of reduced social contact.)


Residents of the Loughborough Estate, already frustrated by sharply rising utility bills and food costs, say that the government would rather pay to lock up young people than spend money on projects that might provide them with positive activities or help their parents to make ends meet.


With government funding effectively vanished, Mr. Campbell is no longer able to provide regular meals to children from the estate. The center receives occasional local government donations but is mostly self-funded and has been forced to cut the number of days it opens — three days, down from five on a good week.


It all leaves the youth center as one of the few places left trying to hold things together, he added. “We’re doing the dirty work that society doesn’t want to talk about,” he said. “You can’t jail your way out of this problem.”


He slowly counts on his fingers the teenagers from his youth center he has lost. Seven have been murdered over the past decade, he said. Teenage homicides in London reached a record peak in 2021, according to police data.


It is too soon to know whether a sharp drop in teenage homicides last year was a reversal of that trend or an anomaly. The relationship between crime and budget cuts is difficult to prove, particularly because money for policing was also cut during the same period. Further complicating things, crime rates in England and Wales have fallen steadily since the mid-1990s.


But under the austerity measures of the past decade, serious youth violence in London rose, as the figures from the mayor’s office point out. One analysis by a group of lawmakers found that areas of England where youth budgets had been cut most tended to have bigger increases in knife crime.


The government cut youth services in England by more than 1.1 billion pounds, about $1.35 billion, from 2010 to 2021 — a 74 percent decline. In recent years, the government has been promising to reverse £560 million of those cuts. But time and again, the money failed to materialize.


The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the government office responsible for youth policy, said in a statement that the pledged money would soon be available, with funds to help refurbish or build 300 youth centers. “By 2025, every young person will have access to regular clubs and activities, adventures away from home and opportunities to volunteer,” the department said.


The Home Office, which oversees crime policy, said that it had committed £130 million to tackle serious violence in England and Wales. That money, it said, would pay for increased police patrols, weapons sweeps and early-intervention programs.


Mr. Sunak, speaking at the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia in November, acknowledged that poorer areas tended to experience greater levels of crime than wealthier areas.


“It’s often people who are in parts of the country that may feel that they’ve been looked over in the past, or that are from more disadvantaged backgrounds, that crime impacts the most,” he said.


He did not address how his party’s budget cuts might play into that analysis.


Past cuts have had a measurable effect on young people. Under austerity, since 2010, welfare money available to the poorest families dropped by an estimated £37 billion, nearly a quarter. As a result, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, an independent research group based in London, 4.3 million children were in relative poverty by the time the pandemic began. At 31 percent, that was the highest level since the financial crisis.


For Patrick Boyce, the talk of a new round of austerity cuts at the same time as a crackdown on crime shows that the government is out of touch. Mr. Boyce’s son Jamel died last year after being stabbed in South London in 2016. The attack, which occurred when he was 17, had left him in a vegetative state for years.


“They haven’t got a clue what it’s like to live here,” Mr. Boyce said of Britain’s leaders. “These kids are fending for themselves.”


The London mayor’s office has also pointed to hunger as an indicator for crime, noting that areas with high food insecurity were strongly associated with rates of serious youth violence.


In 2009, Britain’s largest network of food banks sent 41,000 boxes of emergency food supplies to families in need.


Last year, it sent 2.1 million.


Mimi Asher is a pastor at Word of Grace Ministries, a small evangelical church housed in a rented school hall across the railway bridge from the Marcus Lipton center.


“These children are being left out there in the wild,” she said during a recent sermon. “We need the resources as a community. We can’t keep losing them to jail and the grave.”


For years, Ms. Asher has offered her church as a de facto youth center. She has helped write résumés, given counseling and career guidance, organized day trips out of London and even housed some young gang members in her own home, winning an award from the local government for her efforts. That award is proof, she says, that a little investment of time, effort and resources can redirect young people toward a better future.


But Ms. Asher, too, says she is on the brink of failure. Her congregants were already struggling after the welfare cuts. Now, with the skyrocketing costs of food, energy and other essentials, people are increasingly skipping meals — and donations. Ms. Asher said that it was getting harder to cover the rent. She has cut back on counseling and other services, and she says many young people have stopped attending church.


“We’re heading down a very dangerous path,” she said.


Gideon Buabeng, 29, knows that path well. A former gang member, his torso is jagged with knife scars from an attack that finally persuaded him to turn his life around. Mr. Buabeng now provides youth mentoring services in impoverished areas such as his home neighborhood, Pollards Hill, in South London. Funding, he said, is always spotty.


Mr. Buabeng said that children who grew up surrounded by poverty saw drugs and robbery as their best chance to make money.


“If you have a young person who has not eaten for days, what do you expect him to do?” Mr. Buabeng said. “No one is born a monster.”



2) Doctors Aren’t Burned Out From Overwork. We’re Demoralized by Our Health System.

By Eric Reinhart, Feb. 5, 2023

Dr. Reinhart is political anthropologist and physician at Northwestern University.  


An exhausted doctor in blue scrubs, gloves and cap in an empty operating room.

Moment, via Getty Images

Doctors have long diagnosed many of our sickest patients with “demoralization syndrome,” a condition commonly associated with terminal illness that’s characterized by a sense of helplessness and loss of purpose. American physicians are now increasingly suffering from a similar condition, except our demoralization is not a reaction to a medical condition, but rather to the diseased systems for which we work.


The United States is the only large high-income nation that doesn’t provide universal health care to its citizens. Instead, it maintains a lucrative system of for-profit medicine. For decades, at least tens of thousands of preventable deaths have occurred each year because health care here is so expensive.


During the Covid-19 pandemic, the consequences of this policy choice have intensified. One study estimates at least 338,000 Covid deaths in the United States could have been prevented by universal health care. In the wake of this generational catastrophe, many health care workers have been left shaken.


“For me, doctoring in a broken place required a sustaining belief that the place would become less broken as a result of my efforts,” wrote Dr. Rachael Bedard about her decision to quit her job at New York City’s Rikers Island prison complex during the pandemic. “I couldn’t sustain that belief any longer.”


Thousands of U.S. doctors‌‌, not just at jails but also at wealthy hospitals, now appear to feel similarly. One report estimated that in 2021 alone, about 117,000 physicians left the work force, while fewer than 40,000 joined it. This has worsened a chronic physician shortage, leaving many hospitals and clinics struggling. And the situation is set to get worse. One in five doctors says he or she plans to leave practice in the coming years.


To try to explain ‌‌this phenomenon, many people have leaned on a term ‌‌from pop psychology for the consequences of overwork: burnout. Nearly two-thirds of physicians report they are experiencing its symptoms.


But the burnout rhetoric misses the larger issue in this case: What’s burning out health care workers is less the grueling conditions we practice under, and more our dwindling faith in the systems for which we work. What has been identified as occupational burnout is a symptom of a deeper collapse. We are witnessing the slow death of American medical ideology.


It’s revealing to look at the crisis among health care workers as at least in part a crisis of ideology‌‌ — that is, a belief system made up of interlinking political, moral and cultural narratives upon which we depend to make sense of our social world. Faith in the traditional stories American medicine has told about itself, stories that have long sustained what should have been an unsustainable system, is now dissolving.


During the pandemic, physicians have witnessed our hospitals nearly fall apart as a result of underinvestment in public health systems and uneven distribution of medical infrastructure. Long-ignored inequalities in the standard of care available to rich and poor Americans became front-page news as bodies were stacked in empty hospital rooms and makeshift morgues. Many health care workers have been traumatized by the futility of their attempts to stem recurrent waves of death, with nearly one-fifth of physicians reporting they knew a colleague who had considered, attempted‌‌ or died by suicide during the first year of the pandemic alone.


Although deaths from Covid have slowed, the disillusionment among health workers has only increased. Recent exposés have further laid bare the structural perversity of our institutions‌‌. For instance, according to an investigation in The New York Times, ostensibly nonprofit charity hospitals have illegally saddled poor patients with debt for receiving‌‌care to which they were entitled without cost and have exploited tax incentives meant to promote care for poor communities to turn ‌‌large profits. Hospitals are deliberately understaffing themselves and undercutting patient care while sitting on billions of dollars in cash reserves. Little of this is new, but doctors’ sense of our complicity in putting profits over people has grown more difficult to ignore.


Resistance to self-criticism has long been a hallmark of U.S. medicine and the industry it has shaped. From at least the 1930s through today, doctors have organized efforts to ward off the specter of “socialized medicine.” We have repeatedly defended health care as a business venture against the threat that it might become a public institution oriented around rights rather than revenue.


This is in part because doctors were told that if health care were made a public service, we would lose our professional autonomy and make less money. For a profession that had fought for more than a century to achieve elite status, this resonated.


And so doctors learned to rationalize a deeply unequal health care system that emphasizes personal, rather than public, moral responsibility for protecting health. We sit at our patients’ bed sides and counsel them on their duty to counteract the risks of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, for example, while largely ignoring how those diseases are tied to poor access to quality food because of economic inequities. Or, more recently, we find ourselves advising patients on how to modulate their personal choices to reduce their Covid risk while working in jobs with dismal safety practices and labor protections.


Part of what draws us into this norm is that doctors learn by doing — that is, via apprenticeship — in which we repeat what’s modeled for us. This is, to a degree, a necessary aspect of training in an applied technical field. It is also a fundamentally conservative model for learning that teaches us to suppress critical thinking and trust the system, even with its perverse incentives.


It becomes difficult, then, to recognize the origins of much of what we do and whose interests it serves‌‌. For example, a system of billing codes invented by the American Medical Association as part of a political strategy to protect its vision of for-profit health care now dictates nearly every aspect of medical practice, producing not just endless administrative work, but also subtly shaping treatment choices.


Addressing the failures of the health care system will require uncomfortable reflection and bold action. Any illusion that medicine and politics are, or should be, separate spheres has been crushed under the weight of over ‌‌1.1 million Americans killed by a pandemic that was in many ways a preventable disaster. And many physicians are now finding it difficult to quash the suspicion that our institutions, and much of our work inside them, primarily serve a moneymaking machine.


Doctors can no longer be passive witnesses to these harms. We have a responsibility to use our collective power to insist on changes: for universal health care and paid sick leave but also investments in community health worker programs and essential housing and social welfare systems.


Neither major political party ‌‌is making universal health care a priority right now, but doctors nonetheless hold considerable power to initiate reforms in health policy. We can begin to exercise it by following the example of colleagues at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx who, like thousands of doctors before them, recently took steps to unionize. If we can build an organizing network through doctors’ unions, then proposals to demand universal health care through use of collective civil disobedience via physicians’ control over health care documentation and billing, for example, could move from visions to genuinely actionable plans.


Regardless of whether we act through unions or other means, the fact remains that until doctors join together to call for a fundamental reorganization of our medical system, our work won’t do what were promised it would do, nor will it prioritize the people we claim to prioritize. To be able to build the systems we need, we must face an unpleasant truth: Our health care institutions as they exist today are part of the problem rather than the solution.



3) In West Bank, Settlers Sense Their Moment After Far Right’s Rise

After a surge in violence, there are fears of a wider escalation in the occupied West Bank. Israeli settlers see an opportunity, and Palestinians fear what’s next.

By Patrick Kingsley and Raja Abdulrahim, Feb. 5, 2023

Mr. Kingsley and Ms. Abdulrahim, correspondents in The Times’s Jerusalem bureau, drove across the northern West Bank, interviewing Israeli settlers and Palestinians.


A road leading to settlements and Palestinian areas in the north of the West Bank. The signs were written in Hebrew, Arabic and English, but the Arabic has been erased.

A road leading to settlements and Palestinian areas in the north of the West Bank. The signs were written in Hebrew, Arabic and English, but the Arabic has been erased. Credit...Avishag Shaar-Yashuv for The New York Times

The remains of Or Haim, an illegal settlement outpost, lie strewn across a windswept hilltop in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Two dozen Israeli settlers erected a few flimsy huts there one night last month, and by morning, the Israeli Army had demolished them.


But the settlers plan to try again. The most right-wing government in Israel’s history, which includes settler leaders among its key ministers, entered office late last year, and the settler movement has been emboldened, sensing a window of opportunity to expand its enterprise faster than ever before.


“Now I expect things to go differently,” said Naveh Schindler, 19, a settler activist leading the effort to build the Or Haim outpost. “If I persevere enough,” Mr. Schindler said, “hopefully the government will build it themselves.”


Settlers like Mr. Schindler hope to build more Israeli settlements across the West Bank, which is illegal under international law, on land that Palestinians hoped would be the core of a future Palestinian state. Palestinians, meanwhile, are watching with fear and anxiety as the settlements expand, and as the number of attacks on Palestinians increase as more settlers come.


While previous Israeli governments and generals have built and protected hundreds of settlements, they have often opposed unauthorized outpost construction by settler activists. Now, open advocacy for settlements by government ministers and the growing ambitions of the settler movement, coupled with a recent surge of violence, are raising fears that it could help incite a coming explosion in the West Bank.


An unusually intense wave of settler violence against Palestinians and their property swept through parts of the territory last weekend. It followed a month of near daily Israeli military raids into Palestinians cities and towns that left at least 26 Palestinians dead. Palestinian violence against Israelis also continued to rise sharply, compounding the sense of a region on the brink.


United Nations officials documented at least 22 settler-led attacks and vandalism from Jan. 26 to Jan. 30, while Palestinian officials said the real number was roughly seven times higher. More than 70 settler attacks occurred throughout January, U.N. officials said — a rate that, if maintained throughout the year, would be the highest in at least a half-decade.


That capped a January in which the Israeli Army reported at least 59 Palestinian attacks in the West Bank, nearly twice as high as two months ago, causing several injuries but killing none. At least 35 Palestinians were killed during the same period, sometimes during those attacks. At least two were killed by civilian settlers, in circumstances that Israeli officials described as self-defense, but that Palestinians said was unclear.


Violence from both Israelis and Palestinians has long been routine in the territory, which was occupied by Israel during the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, in which Israel defeated several Arab states that were mobilizing against it. Hundreds of Israeli settlements have since been built there, impeding Palestinian hopes of sovereignty, and contributing to the creation of a two-tier legal system that tries settlers in civilian courts and Palestinians in military ones.


But now there are expectations of an even greater surge. Young settler activists, who believe the land in the West Bank has been promised to them by God, have been galvanized by the presence of their allies in the new government.


New groups of young Palestinian fighters have meanwhile emerged in response to the entrenchment of Israel’s occupation and the perceived corruption of their own leadership.


A surge of violence last week highlighted how ripe the situation was for further escalation. An Israeli Army raid in the northern West Bank killed 10 Palestinians after a gun battle erupted, before a Palestinian attacker shot dead seven civilians outside a synagogue in Jerusalem. Both episodes were the deadliest of their kind in years.


Less reported was a subsequent wave of settler attacks against Palestinians, in which settlers vandalized Palestinian shops, homes and cars.


In one attack, surveillance footage showed three masked men inside the Palestinian town of Turmusaya late last Saturday night.


Video showed them jumping over a fence and walking toward a home, then out of view of the camera. Seconds later, flames erupted from underneath the house’s red terra-cotta awning and the men fled back over the fence.


“They believe they are the only ones who have a right to this land,” said Awad Abu Samra, 57, a Palestinian who rushed to the house — owned by a Palestinian-American — after the attack. “It’s going to go from bad to worse, especially with this new government,” Mr. Abu Samra added.


In the village of Jeensafoot, in the northwest of the West Bank, Wissam Eid, 29, woke up on Wednesday morning to find that all four tires of her family’s black S.U.V. had been slashed. At least seven other neighbors found their tires slashed as well, and residents attributed all eightepisodes to settlers.


For years, Israelis from a nearby settlement have entered the village a few times a year, slashing tires, breaking windows and writing racist, anti-Palestinian graffiti, including on the village mosque, residents and local officials said. But never in Ms. Eid’s neighborhood.


“I was frozen with fear,” she said after they discovered the vandalized vehicle. “They could have climbed up and entered the house.”


Ms. Eid decided not to send her children to school that morning, and hours later, she was still shaken, wringing her hands and fidgeting with her phone.


“Their goal is to make us scared,” she said. “They want to send a message: ‘Stay afraid, stay anxious.’ And I am.”


Settlers acknowledge that the violence takes place, but say that it is carried out by a tiny minority, almost always in self-defense, and that if there were no Palestinian attacks — like the one in Jerusalem last Friday — there would be no settler response. Some portray life in the West Bank as one of uneasy coexistence between two national groups, disturbed mostly by acts of Palestinian violence.


Palestinians killed nine Israelis in the West Bank last year, and 21 more Israelis and foreigners inside Israel. The Israeli military says it has given up trying to record the number of attacks by Palestinians throwing rocks at Israelis in the West Bank because the number is in the thousands.


“So many cases begin with an aggressive act by Palestinians against Israelis,” said Mr. Schindler, who added that he personally did not approve of violence. “Then we respond — but the media never covers it that way.”


But to Palestinians, Israelis have not only a monopoly on violence — more than 170 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank last year, most of them by the Israeli security forces, in the highest toll for more than a decade and a half — but also do not acknowledge the deep power imbalance the settlement enterprise in the West Bank has created, as well as the restrictions the occupation imposes on Palestinians’ daily routines and freedoms.


Israeli settlements often straddle private Palestinian land; require the mobilization of a huge Israeli military force to protect them; and have led to the legal system in which Palestinians are prosecuted in military courts with a very high conviction rate, while Israelis are charged in civilian ones, if at all.


Data released this week by Yesh Din, an Israeli rights watchdog that monitors settler violence, found that only 3 percent of Israeli nationalist crimes against Palestinians since 2005 had resulted in a conviction.


The new Israeli government’s statement of guiding principles, published late last year, began with a direct assertion of the Jewish people’s exclusive right to both Israel and the West Bank.


Another coalition agreement promised to formally annex the West Bank and to legalize dozens of unauthorized settlements in the territory. It also gave a settler leader, Bezalel Smotrich, nominal control over a Defense Ministry department that oversees West Bank construction and demolition.


“We’re hoping that a window of opportunity has been opened,” said Yedaaya Stein, 22, another settler activist leading efforts to erect Or Haim, the destroyed settlement outpost in the northern West Bank. “We are going to demand more and more building,” Mr. Stein added.


Under pressure from allies, including the United States, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has avoided carrying out parts of the coalition agreement in full. For now, he is acting to restrain Mr. Smotrich.


When Mr. Smotrich pushed to let Or Haim stay standing, Mr. Netanyahu overruled him. And though Mr. Smotrich wanted to demolish a strategically located Palestinian community east of Jerusalem, the government ultimately decided to delay its demolition this week, amid fears it might cause a wider Palestinian backlash.


Within the settler movement, that has caused friction. Younger activists generally want to use this moment to build even more settlement outposts, regardless of the local or international fallout. But some older activists feel that more can be achieved by working quietly in the corridors of power to give settlers more long-term control over the West Bank, enabling more building in the future.


“We don’t have to change everything overnight,” said Yisrael Medad, a veteran settler activist.


“With enough below-the-radar work in planning and strategic direction,” he added, “we can get a lot more done.”


But to young settlers like Mr. Schindler and Mr. Stein, now is the time to build new sites like Or Haim. Every crisis over a new settlement outpost will increase the pressure on the government to turn its pro-settler ideals into practice.


Any backlash is inevitable and therefore pointless to worry about, Mr. Schindler said.


“It’s a national war between two peoples,” he said. “The conflict is over land, there is less and less land to claim, and so the war over that land will intensify,” Mr. Schindler added.


Gabby Sobelman, Hiba Yazbek and Myra Noveck contributed reporting.



4) Erasing Black History Is Not the Role of the College Board

By Mara Gay, Feb. 4, 2023


A collage of photos of people and events in Black history set over a blue floral background.
Naila Ruechel for The New York Times; photographs by Getty Images and The New York Times.

In the nation’s capital, blocks from the White House, scores of sharply dressed Americans mingled Thursday night over cocktails and collard greens, a glittering coming-out party for the College Board’s first advanced placement course in African American Studies.


At the party, a formal affair of educators and donors held at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, jazz was played, and a woman in a gold dress sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the Black national anthem. And then the topic on everyone’s mind came up.


Board officials tried to assure the crowd that they had not bent to censorious political pressure from the country’s increasingly brazen right wing. “If this were true, it would be a terrible stain on this country and on the College Board,” said the College Board’s C.E.O., David Coleman.


But in fact, when the College Board unveiled the final curriculum for the AP course the day before, it turned out that the board had removed from the core material a handful of vital Black thinkers and some important subject matter. They downgraded the study of Black Lives Matter, of reparations, of queer life and of incarceration. They removed prominent writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates and bell hooks, who have helped so many people understand the relationship between race, class and feminism.


Gov. Ron DeSantis, Republican of Florida, had earlier vowed to ban the course, which the state’s Department of Education has said, “lacks educational value.” He had objected to much of the material the board removed. The board issued a statement denying that its action was in response to Mr. DeSantis, saying it determined on its own that the course was too dense and needed fewer secondary sources.


The College Board, though a nonprofit, is a fixture in the country’s education infrastructure. Taking its courses and succeeding on its exams has long been a way for savvy high school students to make themselves more attractive to the most selective colleges and, upon acceptance, win college credit.


The inclusion of Black history into this enterprise is a meaningful act.


The Black scholars who pioneered the teaching of Black history long before it was popular to do so understand this. “We have to tell the truth,” one of those scholars, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, a professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, said Thursday evening. “The truth is we helped to build this country.”


Those opposed to the re-centering of Black history at the heart of the nation’s story instead of its periphery understand it, too, which is why they have mobilized against it.


As we listened to the music and were held in thrall by Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard professor whose television show about tracing American ancestries has made him a household name, I thought about the students in dozens of states where books and other subject material, often recognizing the dignity of Black and transgender people, have been banned.


I thought about the teachers in Florida I had spoken to in recent days, who were being asked for the first time to document and report their Black History Month activities to administrators. I thought about the bravery of Kenneth McElroy, a Black middle-school civics teacher in the Tampa area, who told me he had no plans to stop sharing the truth of the nation’s history with his students, regardless of what the state law said.


“I come from Martin Luther King and Malcolm X,” Mr. Elroy said. “I’m not going to change how I teach.” Martha Elena Galindo, another Tampa-area educator, described an environment hostile to Black and transgender students. “‘Miss, we’re not bad people,’” she recalled a transgender student telling her one day. “It brought tears to my eyes,” she said.


The College Board could have sent a powerful message by standing with these Americans. Instead, its gestures at accommodation threw them under the bus, right along with bell hooks. A basic reading of the history board officials say they champion would make it clear that such accommodation will satisfy no one.


The question now is whether the majority of Americans in the middle, and at institutions like the College Board, are able to see the backlash clearly, not as some kind of culture war sideshow, but as the very lifeblood of the anti-democratic, sometimes violent political movement gaining currency in the United States.


Black history is a direct threat to this movement. It humanizes the enslaved and their descendants. It lays bare the terrible cost of white supremacy, not only to Black Americans, but to the nation. It opens the door for exactly the reckoning that makes interracial coalitions possible, giving life to democracy and pluralism and stripping would-be tyrants of their power.


The problem is that looking directly at this history is a prospect that terrifies many white Americans. Viewing the exhibits at the National Museum of African American History and Culture — which include the instruments played by enslaved people and shackles made for a small child — it’s not hard to understand why. But the way forward is to confront this history, not bend it to our will, or whitewash it, or wish it away.


It is no coincidence that the Black writers under assault, like Mr. Coates and Ms. hooks, have been militant in refusing to allow America to forget. “The time to remember is now,” Ms. hooks wrote. “The time to speak a counter hegemonic race talk that is filled with the passion of remembrance and resistance is now. All our words are needed.”


Until then, we may look away, but the history lives on, gnawing at our national sanity.



5) Israeli Raid Kills at Least 5 Palestinians in West Bank

The Israeli Army said the deaths came during an operation to arrest gunmen accused of attempting an attack. Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, said the men were members of its armed wing.

By Patrick Kingsley, Feb. 6, 2023

Reporting from Jerusalem

Palestinians gathering at the scene on Monday where Israeli forces killed a number of armed fighters during a raid at a refugee camp near the city of Jericho in the West Bank.
Palestinians gathering at the scene on Monday where Israeli forces killed a number of armed fighters during a raid at a refugee camp near the city of Jericho in the West Bank. Credit...Mohamad Torokman/Reuters

Israeli military forces killed at least five Palestinian fighters near the city of Jericho in the occupied West Bank on Monday, during a firefight that the Israeli Army said began after soldiers sought to arrest gunmen accused of recently attempting an attack at a nearby Israeli settlement.


Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, later said that the five men were members of its armed wing, in a rare acknowledgment of the group’s armed activity inside the West Bank, where it has recently kept a low profile.


The deaths near Jericho brought the number of Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank since the start of the year to more than 40, most of them during gun battles that broke out during Israeli operations to arrest members of armed Palestinian groups.


That toll constitutes the deadliest start to a year for Palestinians in the West Bank in the past decade and a half, drawing comparisons with the violence of the early years of this century, when a Palestinian uprising, known as the second intifada, left roughly 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis dead.


Seven Israelis have also been killed since the start of the year, all during a mass shooting on Jan. 27 by a Palestinian attacker in East Jerusalem — the deadliest attack in the city since 2008.


Israeli officials have said that the Israeli death toll this year could have been far higher if two Palestinians, both carrying assault rifles, had not aborted an attempted attack a day later at a restaurant in an Israeli settlement south of Jericho, a Palestinian city in the east of the occupied West Bank, close to the border with Jordan.


Video circulating on social media of the episode appeared to show two men with assault rifles arriving at the restaurant before suddenly retreating; Israeli officials said one of their weapons malfunctioned.


The Israeli Army said that its raid on Monday morning on a Palestinian neighborhood adjacent to the settlement was an attempt to capture the two men and other members of their cell. At least five Palestinians were killed during an ensuing gunfight, an Israeli security official said.


Israeli soldiers took the bodies with them after the raid, later informing Palestinian officials of their identities.


The Palestinian Health Ministry said that three others were injured in the gun battle. The Israeli Army circulated a photograph of five assault rifles that it said Israeli soldiers had taken from Palestinians at the scene.


Tensions were already high in the West Bank amid rising Palestinian anger at the entrenchment of the Israeli occupation, which began when Israel captured the territory from Jordan during the Arab-Israeli War of 1967.


Hundreds of Israeli settlements have since been built there, curbing Palestinian hopes of sovereignty, and leading to the emergence of a two-tier legal system that tries settlers in civilian courts and Palestinians in military ones.


In response to that impasse, new groups of young Palestinian fighters have emerged in the past year, some of which have been unusually active in striking Israeli targets. Their members are angry at both Israel and their leaders in the Palestinian Authority, the semiautonomous body that administers Palestinian areas in the West Bank and which many Palestinians perceive as working too closely with Israeli officials.


Conscious of that perception, the authority partially suspended its coordination with the Israeli security establishment last month — a relationship that has helped to curb spasms of past violence.


After initially avoiding claiming direct connection to the incident, Hamas announced late Monday afternoon that the five slain fighters were members of its armed wing. Though dominant in Gaza, Hamas has in recent years kept a lower profile in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Palestinian areas like Jericho are dominated by Fatah, a secular political movement.


Amid the current surge of violence, Hamas has previously avoided claiming direct responsibility for attacks, leery of provoking Israeli reprisals on Gaza. But a direct connection between violence in the West Bank and the Hamas leadership could risk drawing Gaza into the fight.


Hiba Yazbek and Myra Noveck contributed reporting.



6) Dancing With America Has Been a Curse for the Philippines

By Gina Apostol, Feb. 7, 2023

Ms. Apostol is a Philippine novelist. 


Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., shaking hands with President Richard Nixon in 1969 in Manila.

Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., shaking hands with President Richard Nixon in 1969 in Manila. Credit...Bettmann/Getty Images

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., of the Philippines shaking hands with the U.S. secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, in Manila last week.

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., of the Philippines shaking hands with the U.S. secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, in Manila last week. Credit...Jamilah Sta Rosa-Pool/Getty Images

For Filipinos like me who grew up under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the news that the U.S. military would expand its presence in the Philippines has been dizzying and wounding.


The image of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin shaking hands in Manila last week with the country’s fatuously smiling president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the former despot, was like some tragic Groundhog Day. Mr. Marcos was elected in May. So Filipinos not only find themselves with another President Marcos, but also with another creeping occupation by the U.S. military under the guise of East Asian security.


The Philippine Senate put an end to the permanent basing of American forces three decades ago. But according to Mr. Austin, China’s growing shadow in the region makes a renewed American presence essential.


The Philippines’ proximity to China has long been seductive for the United States. For Filipinos, it’s a curse.


The 1898 U.S. annexation of the islands from the previous colonizer, Spain, after the Spanish-American War provided a foothold for American goods to get access to the real prize: China’s huge market. As Albert Beveridge, a senator from Indiana, put it in 1900, “The Pacific is our ocean …. Where shall we turn for consumers of our surplus? Geography answers the question. China is our natural customer.” The Philippines, he said, gave the United States a “base at the door of all the East.”


Filipino revolutionaries fighting for the nation’s freedom from 1899 to 1902 had no chance against U.S. forces. During the Philippine-American war more than 200,000 Filipinos were killed or died from famine or disease in a conflict that has been likened to genocide and the U.S. wars against Native Americans. What followed was the creation of a nation “in our image,” as the American historian Stanley Karnow described it.


American greed and geopolitics entrenched Philippine oligarchy as a matter of policy because it strengthened U.S. control. Taking on a feudal template laid down by the Spanish, a few powerful families prospered in the U.S. neocolonial orbit, consolidating land, resources and power through the Cold War and into the current era of China’s global ascendancy.


Scenes of abiding U.S.-Philippine relations are seared into our collective memory, like a form of trauma: Richard Nixon playing the piano as Imelda Marcos applauded, Ms. Marcos grooving with Gerald Ford, Mr. Marcos Sr. dancing closely with Nancy Reagan. As U.S. leaders waltzed with Mr. Marcos Sr., he imposed martial law from 1972 to 1981 — my childhood years. The tyrant thrived during the Cold War, using his U.S.-funded counterinsurgency campaign — which targeted communists — to consolidate power. He imprisoned, tortured or killed thousands and stole an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion until a people’s uprising in 1986 exiled him and his family to Hawaii.


China’s predations are another nightmare for the Philippines. Mr. Austin specifically cited China’s continued advancement of its “illegitimate claims” in portions of the South China Sea that are also claimed by the Philippines as a reason for the U.S. military’s return. And there is fear of a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan, which is just 93 miles from the Philippines’ northernmost island of Itbayat. The Philippines is not the only Southeast Asian country wary of getting caught in the cross-fire.


Chinese encroachment on the South China Sea, which has included building military installations, has been globally condemned. In 2016, an international tribunal ruled in the Philippines’s favor, rejecting China’s maritime claims. But the former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, who cozied up to Beijing in a desire for Chinese investments (“I need China,” he once declared. “I simply love Xi Jinping.”) dismissed the tribunal’s ruling in deference to China. He also frequently maligned the United States. But like all Philippine oligarchs, he danced with America, retaining a military pact with Washington.


The departure of the mercurial Mr. Duterte, whose murderous drug war has resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings, is welcome. But his successor isn’t much different. Mr. Marcos Jr. won the presidency after a campaign powered by disinformation and has never disavowed his dictator father’s legacy of cronyism and corruption. His 28-year-old son, Sandro, a political neophyte, has been given a senior leadership position in the Philippine House of Representatives; Mr. Marcos’s cousin Martin Romualdez is speaker of the House. They were among the authors of a bill to facilitate a plan by the new Marcos government to take money out of social security systems and pump it into a sovereign investment fund, which drew a public outcry.


Mr. Marcos made himself agriculture secretary, a powerful position. Under his leadership, costs of basic food items are soaring, with the price of onions surpassing meat at one point recently. Drug-war killings and a culture of impunity continue. Indigenous activists, journalists, human rights defenders and others branded as communists are at risk. Mr. Marcos is fond of junkets, traveling to Davos with a large entourage. His government has not been transparent about the cost. What he does with the boondoggle of American military money is no fool’s guess. As it was with his father, American support will be used to deflect public criticism.


Mr. Duterte and Mr. Marcos are cut from the same cloth: Their families and cronies have profited from U.S. geopolitical and military interest in the Philippines and will continue to.


For all of the troubled history, President Biden has a chance to redeem the United States. Representative Susan Wild of Pennsylvania has urged her colleagues to sign the Philippine Human Rights Act, which would suspend security assistance to the Philippines “until violence against dissidents ceases and accountability against the perpetrators commences.” Ms. Wild and a bipartisan group of legislators also are calling for sanctions against Philippine human rights violators.


Until then, the long dance between Washington and Manila continues, to the recurring horror of the Filipino people.



7) Why So Many People in France Are Protesting Over Pensions

President Emmanuel Macron is forging ahead with plans to raise the legal age of retirement to 64, from 62, despite a third day of strikes, wide public opposition and a fierce parliamentary battle.

By Aurelien Breeden, Feb. 7, 2023

Reporting from Paris


Protesters in Nantes, France, during a nationwide strike in late January to voice anger over proposed changes to the pension system.
Protesters in Nantes, France, during a nationwide strike in late January to voice anger over proposed changes to the pension system. Credit...Loic Venance/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Strikes snarled public transportation and railway traffic in France on Tuesday for a third day of vigorous protests barely a month into the year against President Emmanuel Macron’s widely unpopular plans to raise the legal age of retirement to 64, from 62.


The continuing protests, which gathered over a million people for each previous march, have become a major test for Mr. Macron after his re-election last year, as recent public opinion polls show that over two thirds of French people oppose his proposal.


High-stakes debates over the pension bill are underway in the National Assembly, France’s lower house of Parliament, where Mr. Macron’s party and its allies do not have enough votes to pass the bill on their own.


The government will have to rely on the fickle support of mainstream conservatives and fend off thousands of amendments from left-wing lawmakers.


Mr. Macron and his government say they need to change France’s pension system to put it on a firmer financial footing as life expectancy rises and as the ratio of workers to retirees decreases.


Opponents, including a united front of labor unions, dispute the need for urgency. They say that Mr. Macron is attacking a cherished right to retirement and unfairly burdening blue-collar workers because of his refusal to increase taxes on the wealthy. Neither side has shown any sign of backing down.


Although overall disruptions have been limited, protests and intermittent walkouts by workers in schools, public transportation, fuel refineries and power plants have made clear the widespread discontent, putting growing pressure on Mr. Macron. He has said little publicly about the pension overhaul and left his government on the front lines of defending it. But he has staked much of his second-term legacy on getting it done.


Wait, why does this seem familiar?


The prospect of a pension overhaul has long been a third rail of French politics, prompting large protests in 1995 and 2010, long before Mr. Macron took office. This is the second time that Mr. Macron’s pension plans have met fierce resistance.


In 2019, during his first term, Mr. Macron’s effort to overhaul France’s generous pension system led to huge street protests and grinding strikes, including one of the longest transportation walkouts in the country’s history. The government shelved those plans after the coronavirus pandemic hit.


There is a key difference between what Mr. Macron did back then and what he is doing now: Mr. Macron’s initial project did not involve increasing the legal age of retirement. Instead, he was aiming for an across-the-board overhaul of the pension system’s dizzyingly complex architecture. The goal was to merge 42 different pension programs into what he said would be a fairer, unified system, using points that workers would accumulate and cash in upon retirement. But the plans left many confused and worried that their pensions would decrease.


So what is Macron doing this time?


The latest plans are a much more straightforward attempt to balance the system’s finances by making the French work longer, an effort that the government acknowledges will be difficult for some but that it insists is necessary.


France’s pension system relies on a pay-as-you-go structure in which workers and employers are assessed mandatory payroll taxes that are used to fund retiree pensions. That system, which has enabled generations to retire with a guaranteed, state-backed pension, will not change.


France has one of the lowest rates of pensioners at risk of poverty in Europe, and a net pension replacement rate — a measure of how effectively retirement income replaces prior earnings — of 74 percent, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, higher than the O.E.C.D. and European Union averages.


But the government argues that rising life expectancies have left the system in an increasingly precarious state. In 2000, there were 2.1 workers paying into the system for every one retiree; in 2020 that ratio had fallen to 1.7, and in 2070 it is expected to drop to 1.2, according to official projections.


Antoine Bozio, an economist at the Paris School of Economics, said that there was no short-term “explosion of the deficit” that needed to be addressed urgently. But “once you’ve said that the system isn’t in danger or on the verge of a catastrophe,” he said, “that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem” in the long term.


To keep the system financially viable without additional taxpayer money, the government wants to gradually raise the legal age of retirement by three months every year until it reaches 64 in 2030. It also wants to accelerate a previous change that increased the number of years that workers must pay into the system to get a full pension.


“This reform is indispensable,” Mr. Macron said on Monday evening during a visit to the Netherlands.


Why is the plan so unpopular?


Opponents say that Mr. Macron is exaggerating the threat of projected deficits and refusing to consider other ways to balance the system, like increasing worker payroll taxes, decoupling pensions from inflation or increasing taxes on the rich.


Making people work longer, opponents argue, will unfairly affect blue-collar workers, who often start their careers earlier and who have a shorter life expectancy, on average, than white-collar ones.


“Sixty-four isn’t possible,” Philippe Martinez, the head of the CGT labor union, France’s second-largest, told the BFM TV news channel last month. “Let them visit a textile factory floor, or a slaughterhouse, or the food-processing industry, and they will see what working conditions are like.”


Some worry about being forced to retire later because older adults who want to work but who lose their jobs often deal with age discrimination in the labor market.


The plan’s unpopularity also has much to do with pre-existing anger against Mr. Macron, who has struggled to shake off the image of an out-of-touch “president of the rich.”


By making pensions a cornerstone of his second term — he cannot run for a third consecutive one — Mr. Macron has also made them a referendum of sorts over his legacy.


“That’s why he has not only all the unions, but also a large part of public opinion against him,” said Jean Garrigues, a leading historian on France’s political culture. “By tying himself to the project, opposition to it is heightened, dramatized in a way.”


What comes next?


The government has announced measures intended to mollify opposition: a raise of the minimum monthly pension to 1,200 euros, or about $1,300; continued exemptions allowing those who begin working at younger ages to retire earlier; and other measures to help seniors stay employed.


But the government has shown no sign of backing down on raising the legal age of retirement, which Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne has said was not negotiable. Labor unions are digging in for continued, if not continuous, protests and strikes, while lawmakers, especially on the left and the far right, are waging a fierce battle against the pension bill.


Mr. Macron’s party, Renaissance, and its allies no longer enjoy an absolute majority in the National Assembly, and would struggle to pass the pension bill on their own. They will have to rely on France’s Republicans, the mainstream conservative party, whose leadership has said it could support the bill.


Mr. Macron is hoping to weather the protests and get the bill through turbulent debates in the lower house, much like Nicolas Sarkozy did as president in 2010, when he raised the retirement age to 62 from 60 despite huge demonstrations.


But some rank-and-file Republicans — and even members of Mr. Macron’s party — have expressed discomfort with the current version of the bill, meaning the vote could go down to the wire if protests from constituents push individual lawmakers to back out. Some French news outlets have already started counting the votes.


The government could use a rare constitutional tool to ram the bill through without a vote, a move that would expose the cabinet to a no-confidence motion and that Ms. Borne successfully used multiple times in the fall to get finance bills passed. But using it on a far more contentious and consequential piece of legislation could further inflame tensions on the streets.


Left-wing lawmakers have also filed over 10,000 amendments to the bill — if the lower house is unable to wade through them all by mid-February, the bill will automatically head over to the Senate.


Constant Méheut contributed reporting.



8) California County Agrees to Pay $4.5 Million in Death of Man Stunned With Taser

The man, Chinedu V. Okobi, 36, died in 2018 after a deputy repeatedly used a Taser on him in a struggle that began when law enforcement officers saw him jaywalking in Millbrae, Calif.

By Livia Albeck-Ripka, Feb. 8, 2023


Ekene Okobi and Tobenna Okobi, siblings of Chinedu Okobi, hug to comfort each other near a large photograph of their late brother. A pastor, Michael McBride, stands to the left of the siblings. In the photograph, Chinedu Okobi is sitting, striking a relaxed pose as he looks away from the camera.

Pastor Michael McBride, left, stands near Ekene Okobi, center, and Tobenna Okobi, siblings of Chinedu Okobi, during a news conference in San Francisco where they called for an investigation in October 2018. Credit...Jessica Christian/San Francisco Chronicle, via Getty Images

San Mateo County, Calif., has agreed to pay $4.5 million to the family of a Black man who died in 2018 after a sheriff’s deputy repeatedly used a Taser on him during a struggle that began when law enforcement officers saw the man jaywalking on a busy street, the county confirmed on Tuesday.


The man, Chinedu Valentine Okobi, 36, died on Oct. 3, 2018, after the struggle that day with deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department, who had seen him walking in and out of traffic on a busy street in Millbrae, about 15 miles south of downtown San Francisco, officials said at the time. Video made public in 2019 showed one of the deputies using his Taser several times against Mr. Okobi, before he was restrained and became unresponsive. Officials said Mr. Okobi died of cardiac arrest.


In 2019, the family of Mr. Okobi, a father and college graduate, filed two federal lawsuits, one on behalf of his mother, and one on behalf of his daughter, alleging that the county and the law enforcement officers involved in the episode had violated Mr. Okobi’s civil rights and wrongfully caused his death, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.


The settlement between the family and county was reached in August, but became public on Tuesday when The San Francisco Standard, which said it had obtained access to the documents through a public records request, wrote about it.


Michelle Durand, a spokeswoman for San Mateo County, confirmed by email that the settlement had been reached. “It is certainly the largest law enforcement-related settlement in anyone’s memory,” she said, adding that the $4.5 million is covered by the county’s insurance.


The news came amid renewed conversation surrounding police brutality in light of the death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who died last month after being beaten by police officers in Memphis.


John Burris, the Oakland-based civil rights attorney who represented Mr. Okobi’s mother, said that while the family was content with the settlement, it had always been more concerned with reforms in the use of Tasers by the police.


Mr. Okobi’s death helped prompt a review by San Mateo County in 2019 into its use of Tasers, Mr. Burris said by phone Tuesday.


“It really wasn’t about money,” he said. Mr. Burris said he believed that the officers involved had targeted Mr. Okobi as a Black man, and that the county had failed to acknowledged that.


“It never would have happened,” Mr. Burris said, “if they had not been racially profiling him.”


In the aftermath of Mr. Okobi’s death, the San Mateo County district attorney, Steve Wagstaffe, called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Okobi’s death, but no criminal charges were filed against the officers. Four of the sheriff’s deputies were also cleared in 2019 of violating a sheriff’s office policy.


Mr. Wagstaffe’s office declined to comment on the settlement on Tuesday. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.



9) Frustration Mounts Over Pace of Aid and Rescues as Quake Toll Passes 19,000

Ben Hubbard and Safak Timur, February 9. 2023

The New York Times


Frustration Mounts Over Pace of Aid and Rescues as Quake Toll Passes 19,000

Antakya, Turkey. (photo: NYT)

The death toll from the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria rose as rescuers faced shortages of trucks, fuel and time. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey visited the area near the epicenter.


Two days after a devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake killed more than 15,000 people in Turkey and Syria, families huddled in the cold rain, hitching tarps to make improvised tents, resting on bits of furniture pulled from the wreckage and lining up for shoes, blankets — anything available.


Many were angry that it was taking so long for rescue crews with heavy machinery to arrive. In Kahramanmaras, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey visited on Wednesday, three bodies were recovered from a six-story building and there were at least six more victims in the rubble. “The volunteers were here, but not the state,” said a relative of two of the victims.


Buildings fell across streets all across southern Turkey, rendering them impassible, and a fire station in Pazarcik was turned into a makeshift funeral home. Cracks in the walls of buildings that still stood were wide enough to reach through. Broken glass litters the ground, threatening to slash the feet of survivors, many of whom are shoeless and still in the sleeping clothes they wore when the quake struck two days ago.


Here are key developments:


The death toll in Turkey has passed 12,000, according to Turkey disaster management agency, the state Andalou News Agency reported early Thursday. In total, 12,391 people have died and 62,914 have been injured, according to the agency, known by its Turkish initials as AFAD.


Mr. Erdogan, Turkey’s paramount politician for 20 years, made his first visit to the disaster zone on Wednesday to tell his people how much his government had already done to help, while urging that citizens “show patience” as more aid made its way to them. But the leader of the country’s largest opposition party rejected a call for unity, saying that Mr. Erdogan was “fully responsible.” Criticism of the government’s disaster response would only add to headwinds for Mr. Erdogan’s quest for re-election in May.


Syria’s more than decade-long civil war is complicating efforts to get aid to the country. Many refugees displaced by the fighting live in the quake-stricken area of Turkey, and while aid was not crossing into Syria, bodies were.


The humanitarian crisis has prompted Turks around the world to rally together and raise money and gather supplies to send home. Their efforts ranged from a bake sale in London to the gathering of donations at a nursing home in Berlin.


In Turkey, Mr. Erdogan said rescue missions will focus on some of the hardest-hit provinces in Turkey: Hatay, Adiyaman and Kahramanmaras. In Syria, where more than a decade of civil war had already created a humanitarian crisis, at least 3,042 people died in the quake, according to the state Health Ministry and the White Helmets relief group.



10) Quake Death Toll Surpasses 22,000 Amid Struggle to Get Aid to Syria

Only a trickle of humanitarian aid has reached the devastated parts of Syria because years of war have carved the country into zones of control that impede deliveries.

By Cora Engelbrecht and Mike Ives, Feb. 10, 2023


A large group of people, some wearing face masks, carry a body.

Carrying a body found by rescuers in a collapsed building in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, on Thursday. This has now become Turkey’s deadliest earthquake since 1939. Credit...Emin Ozmen for The New York Times

The death toll in Turkey and Syria from this week’s catastrophic earthquake surpassed 22,000 on Friday as relief organizations struggled to overcome a host of political obstacles and deliver aid to hard-hit northwestern Syria.


The second aid convoy in two days reached an enclave of opposition-held territory in Syria on Friday, loaded with food, clothes and blankets as the leaders of both Turkey and Syria visited the earthquake zones in their countries to console survivors.


The effort to provide aid to millions of people across both countries has been strained by bitter cold, power outages and shortages of fuel, trucks and other essential supplies and by the many constraints posed by a continuing state of war and territorial division inside Syria.


The problem of delivering aid is much more acute in Syria than Turkey because 12 years of civil war have left the country carved up into several zones under the control of different authorities. The earthquake hit hardest in two of those zones, one controlled by the government of the authoritarian president, Bashar al-Assad, and the other controlled by opposition forces.


Syria has received far less aid than Turkey since the earthquake hit, in part because the border crossing used on Thursday, known as Bab al-Hawa, is the only one to allow United Nations aid to reach the opposition-held region in northwestern Syria. Millions have also been displaced by the yearslong civil war, and the humanitarian challenges were enormous even before this earthquake.


On Thursday, the first significant delivery of aid crossed into the opposition-held region — six trucks carrying shelter material and nonfood items. The International Organization for Migration said that the initial shipment could meet the needs of “at least 5,000 people.”


Fourteen more trucks, laden with food and shelter materials, entered the same area on Friday. But it was a small consolation to the war-ravaged enclave, home to millions of Syrians who have been displaced by more than a decade of fighting. Hundreds of thousands have already watched homes or family members vanish beneath the rubble in a matter of days.


On the government-controlled side of the earthquake zone, Mr. al-Assad made his first visit to survivors in the city of Aleppo, which has been devastated by the quake.


And in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the hard-hit province of Adiyaman and tried to console victims.


“I know very well that words are meaningless to describe our pain,” he said. “Sadly, the death toll increased to 18,991,” he added. In Syria, the death toll neared 3,400, and in both countries, those numbers have been steadily climbing since the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck early Monday morning.


This has now become Turkey’s deadliest earthquake since 1939 and one of the deadliest worldwide in decades.


In many of the hardest-hit areas in the quake zone, a chaotic atmosphere prevailed on the ground. Turkey has imposed a three-month state of emergency in 10 provinces affected.


In the city of Antakya in western Turkey’s hard-hit Hatay Province, the ancient old town has entirely collapsed, traffic has been bumper-to-bumper for days now, and the air is acrid from the smoke of bonfires from the many people who have been sleeping and living for days out in the open or in their cars trying to stay warm. Thousands more are sheltering in white tents in the shadow of a soccer stadium.


Ambulances and trucks bringing aid were arriving nonstop in the city.


The United Nations humanitarian chief said on Friday that he was on his way to visit parts of Turkey and Syria most devastated by the quake. The official, Martin Griffiths, will visit the cities of Aleppo and Damascus in Syria, along with Gaziantep in Turkey, over the weekend, according to the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres.


“More help is on the way, but much more, much more is needed,” Mr. Guterres told reporters on Thursday.


He said that the greatest obstacle for delivering aid to Syria was access.


Relief organizations say that the first 72 hours after a natural disaster are crucial for finding survivors. Once that window closes, as it already has in Turkey and Syria, the medical burden typically shifts from disaster sites to medical facilities, said Yasushi Nakajima, an expert on disaster risk management at Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital in Japan.


The United Nations will ask the Security Council for authorization to expand aid to Syria, a U.N. spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, said, adding that the United Nations was also negotiating with Syria’s government to deliver more humanitarian aid to opposition-held areas in the northwest.


Syria’s government has said that U.S. sanctions against the country have exacerbated the humanitarian disaster caused by the earthquake. Those sanctions do not target humanitarian aid.


On Thursday, the State Department doubled down on its refusal to lift sanctions on Syria, saying that humanitarian aid efforts were not impeded by the policy. It also repeated a demand that Mr. al-Assad’s authoritarian government open more border crossings for aid delivery.


As the humanitarian crisis builds, the possibility of further seismic activity hangs over the region. Dozens of earthquakes have been recorded in Turkey this week, including a few on Friday morning. Experts say that large aftershocks pose potential risks to the structural integrity of partly collapsed structures in the earthquake zone.


Reporting was contributed by Raja Abdulrahim, Farnaz Fassihi, Hwaida Saad, Anushka Patil and Farah Mohamed.


My NYT Comment: 

It is unconscionable that the U.S. has not lifted its sanctions against Syria under this horrendous humanitarian catastrophe. We should be sending masses of unarmed troops, equipment and supplies to come to the aid of the people in Syria and Turkey with NO strings attached. But it should be no surprise, since our government barely comes to the aid of those in our own country (or territory, in the case of Puerto Rico) who suffer devasting ecological catastrophe. Shameful! —Bonnie Weinstein



11) The Relentless Attack on Trans People Is an Attack on All of Us

By Jamelle Bouie, Feb. 10, 2023


A hand holds out roughly a dozen blue-pink-and-white trans flags.

Christopher Lee for The New York Times

Over the past year, we have seen a sweeping and ferocious attack on the rights and dignity of transgender people across the country.


In states led by Republicans, conservative lawmakers have introduced or passed dozens of laws that would give religious exemptions for discrimination against transgender people, prohibit the use of bathrooms consistent with their gender identity and limit access to gender-affirming care.


In lashing out against L.G.B.T.Q. people, lawmakers in at least eight states have even gone as far as to introduce bans on “drag” performance that are so broad as to threaten the ability of gender-nonconforming people simply to exist in public.


Some of the most powerful Republicans in the country want to go even further. Donald Trump has promised to radically limit transgender rights if he is returned to the White House in 2024. In a video address to supporters, he said he would push Congress to pass a national ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth and restrict Medicare and Medicaid funding for hospitals and medical professionals providing that care.


He wants to target transgender adults as well. “I will sign a new executive order instructing every federal agency to cease all programs that promote the concept of sex and gender transition at any age,” Trump said. “I will ask Congress to pass a bill establishing that the only genders recognized by the United States government are male and female, and they are assigned at birth.”


There is plenty to say about the reasoning and motivation for this attack — whether it comes from Trump, Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida or Gov. Greg Abbott in Texas — but the important thing to note, for now, is that it is a direct threat to the lives and livelihoods of transgender people. It’s the same for other L.G.B.T.Q. Americans, who once again find themselves in the cross-hairs of an aggressive movement of social conservatives who have become all the more emboldened in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year.


This is no accident. The attacks on transgender people and L.G.B.T.Q. rights are of a piece with the attack on abortion and reproductive rights. It is a singular assault on the bodily autonomy of all Americans, meant to uphold and reinforce traditional hierarchies of sex and gender.


Politicians and those of us in the media tend to frame these conflicts as part of a “culture war,” which downplays their significance to our lives — not just as people living in the world, but as presumably equal citizens in a democracy.


Democracy, remember, is not just a set of rules and institutions, but a way of life. In the democratic ideal, we meet one another in the public sphere as political and social equals, imbued with dignity and entitled to the same rights and privileges.


I have referred to dignity twice now. That is intentional. Outside of certain select phrases (“the dignity of labor”), we don’t talk much about dignity in American politics, despite the fact that the demands of many groups for dignity and respect in public life has been a driving force in American history since the beginning. To that point, one of the great theorists of dignity and democracy in the United States was none other than Frederick Douglass, whose experience in bondage gave him a lifelong preoccupation with the ways that dignity is either cultivated or denied.


Douglass observed “that although dignity seems to be woven into human nature, it is also something one possesses to the degree that one is conscious of having it,” the historian Nicholas Knowles Bromell writes in “The Powers of Dignity: The Black Political Philosophy of Frederick Douglass,” “and one’s own consciousness of having it depends in part on making others conscious of it. Others’ recognition of it then flows back and confirms one’s belief in having it, but conversely their refusal to recognize it has the opposite effect of weakening one’s confidence in one’s own dignity.”


It is easy to see how this relates to chattel slavery, a totalizing system in which enslaved Black Americans struggled to assert their dignity and self-respect in the face of a political, social and economic order that sought to rob them of both. But Douglass explored this idea in other contexts as well.


Writing after the Civil War on women’s suffrage, Douglass asked his readers to see the “plain” fact that “women themselves are divested of a large measure of their natural dignity by their exclusion from and participation in Government.” To “deny woman her vote,” Douglass continued, “is to abridge her natural and social power, and to deprive her of a certain measure of respect.” A woman, he concluded, “loses in her own estimation by her enforced exclusion from the elective franchise just as slaves doubted their own fitness for freedom, from the fact of being looked down upon as fit only for slaves.”


Similarly, in her analysis of Douglass’s political thought — published in the volume “African-American Political Thought: A Collected History” — the political theorist Sharon R. Krause shows how Douglass “clearly believed that slavery and prejudice can degrade an individual against his will” and generate, in his words, “poverty, ignorance and degradation.”


Although Douglass never wrote a systematic account of his vision of democracy, Bromell contends that we can extrapolate such an account from the totality of his writing and activism. “A democracy,” Douglass’s work suggests, “is a polity that prizes human dignity,” Bromell writes. “It comes into existence when a group of persons agrees to acknowledge each other’s dignity, both informally, through mutually respectful comportment, and formally, through the establishment of political rights.” All of our freedoms, in Bromell’s account of Douglass, “are means toward the end of maintaining a political community in which all persons collaboratively produce their dignity.”


The denial of dignity to one segment of the political community, then, threatens the dignity of all. This was true for Douglass and his time — it inspired his support for women’s suffrage and his opposition to the Chinese Exclusion Act — and it is true for us and ours as well. To deny equal respect and dignity to any part of the citizenry is to place the entire country on the road to tiered citizenship and limited rights, to liberty for some and hierarchy for the rest.


Put plainly, the attack on the dignity of transgender Americans is an attack on the dignity of all Americans. And like the battles for abortion rights and bodily autonomy, the stakes of the fight for the rights and dignity of transgender people are high for all of us. There is no world in which their freedom is suppressed and yours is sustained.



12) Anger Over Quake Response Challenges Erdogan Ahead of Election

A furor is building among some survivors over the government’s handling of the crisis. “I have been voting for this government for 20 years,” said one. “I will never forgive them.”

By Ben Hubbard, Feb. 11, 2023


Many residents of the disaster zone have expressed frustration with the government’s response, saying that in some areas, the state was nowhere to be seen during the initial aftermath.

Many residents of the disaster zone have expressed frustration with the government’s response, saying that in some areas, the state was nowhere to be seen during the initial aftermath. Credit...Emin Ozmen for The New York Times

GAZIANTEP, Turkey — A powerful earthquake struck northwestern Turkey in 1999, killing more than 17,000 people, exposing government incompetence and fueling an economic crisis. Amid the turmoil, a young, charismatic politician rode a wave of public anger to become prime minister in 2003.


That politician was Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


Now, as president, Mr. Erdogan faces challenges similar to those that brought down his predecessors — posing what is perhaps the greatest threat of his two decades in power to his political future.


The deadliest earthquake to strike Turkey in almost a century killed at least 21,000 people this past week, with the bodies of countless others still buried in the rubble. It hit after a year of persistently high inflation that has impoverished Turkish families, leaving many with scarce resources to bounce back.


The quake’s aftermath has highlighted how much Mr. Erdogan has reshaped the Turkish state, analysts said. Critics accuse him of pushing the country toward autocracy by weakening civil rights and eroding the independence of state institutions, like the Foreign Ministry and the central bank. And in a series of moves aimed at undercutting his rivals and centralizing control, he has restricted institutions like the army that could have helped with the earthquake response while stocking others with loyalists.


Mr. Erdogan acknowledged on Friday that his government’s initial response to the disaster had been slow, and anger was building among some survivors, a sentiment that could hamper his bid to remain in power in elections expected on May 14. Many were also loudly questioning whether shoddy construction was to blame for some of the death and destruction.


“I have been voting for this government for 20 years, and I’m telling everyone about my anger,” said Mikail Gul, 53, who lost five family members in a building collapse. “I will never forgive them.”


The president, who faced harsh criticism in 2021 over his government’s failure to control disastrous wildfires, has long portrayed himself as a leader in touch with the common citizen. He visited communities hit hard by the quake in recent days. Dressed in black, his face grim, he visited the wounded and comforted people who had lost their homes and emphasized the magnitude of the crisis.


“We are face to face with one of the greatest disasters in our history,” he said on Friday during a visit to Adiyaman Province. “It is a reality that we could not intervene as fast as we wished.”


The 7.8 magnitude earthquake — the most powerful in Turkey in decades — and hundreds of aftershocks toppled buildings along a 250-mile-long swath in the south, destroying thousands of buildings and causing billions of dollars in damage. Across the border in Syria, nearly 4,000 dead have been counted, a toll that is expected to rise significantly.


“This is the largest-scale disaster that Turkey has to manage, and, inevitably, this will create a backlash against the government,” said Sinan Ulgen, the director of Edam, an Istanbul-based think tank. “But much will depend on how effectively it can address the needs of the affected population.”


The Turkish government has begun an extensive aid operation, dispatching 141,000 aid and rescue workers to search for the dead and wounded, to distribute food, blankets and diapers and to erect tents for the tens of thousands of homeless, many of them sleeping in cars to avoid the subzero winter chill.


Nevertheless, many survivors have expressed frustration with the government’s response, saying the state was nowhere to be found during the initial aftermath, leaving residents alone to find shelter and free trapped loved ones from collapsed buildings.


The scarcity of trained rescue squads and heavy machinery during the critical first days most likely increased the death toll because many people who could have been saved were not.


When government agencies arrived, residents said, their equipment seemed insufficient and they failed to coordinate the efforts of volunteers who were already struggling to help survivors.


For two days after the quake, Mr. Gul said his family lacked food and water and felt helpless amid the destruction.


“The house next to us collapsed and there was a girl inside saying, ‘Save me! save me!’” he said.


The girl was saved, but Mr. Gul and his relatives had to dig out their five dead family members, he said.


He had worked in Germany for 20 years, funneling his savings into 10 apartments in the city of Kahramanmaras, near the quake’s epicenter, so he could live off the rent. But all of the apartments were destroyed, and he has to start over.


“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said.


During his two decades as prime minister and president, Mr. Erdogan has argued that changes to the way Turkey was run were necessary to protect it from a range of domestic and foreign threats, including military coups and terrorist groups.


He has also restricted the army, which played a key role in the government’s response to the 1999 earthquake.


Turker Erturk, a former Navy admiral who was a commander in the crisis center set up after that quake, said in an interview that the army had swiftly intervened. But in the years since, Mr. Erdogan’s government had limited that ability and the army had stopped planning and training for it, he said.


After Monday’s quake, the government called on the army only after public criticism, according to Mr. Erturk.


“It is because of one-man rule,” he said. “In authoritarian governments, those decisions are made at the very top, and they wait for his commands.”


On Friday, the army said in a tweet that its soldiers had been helping “from the first day” and now had more than 25,000 soldiers deployed. But their presence has not been obvious in many of the hardest-hit areas.


Leading the government’s earthquake response is the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, which critics say Mr. Erdogan has stocked with loyalists and empowered at the expense of other organizations, like the Turkish Red Crescent.


The earthquake has also brought increased scrutiny of the government’s use of construction codes aimed at preventing buildings from collapsing, and some in the zone were angrily questioning whether shoddy construction and contractors may bear the blame for at least some of the deaths.


After the 1999 quake, Turkey strengthened its construction codes to make buildings more earthquake resistant. But the zone devastated by the recent quakes is dotted with areas where some buildings survived while others nearby — some relatively new — completely collapsed, raising questions about whether some contractors had cut corners.


In response to the outcry, the Turkish Justice Ministry on Saturday ordered officials in the 10 provinces affected by the quake to set up so-called earthquake crimes investigation units and to appoint prosecutors to bring criminal charges against all of the “constructors and those responsible” for the collapse of buildings that failed to meet existing codes.


In one example, Yasar Coskun, the constructor of a 12-story building that was completely destroyed in the heavily damaged Hatay Province, was detained on Friday at an Istanbul airport while trying to board a flight to Montenegro. Dozens of people are thought to have died when the building collapsed.


At another collapsed apartment block this week, volunteer construction workers spotted what they said was inferior rebar and they broke up chunks of concrete with their hands, saying it was poor quality.


In the days since, a lawyers’ association has asked prosecutors in Kahramanmaras to identify contractors who built buildings that collapsed and inspectors who checked them so they can be investigated for possible criminal violations. Prosectors in Gaziantep have started collecting rubble samples for their own investigation.


Although no one can predict the precise timing of an earthquake, seismologists have been warning for years that a big one was expected in this region.


Three days before the quake, a prominent geologist, Naci Gorur, wrote on Twitter that he was concerned that other seismic activity in Turkey had put pressure on the faults near the epicenter of Monday’s tremor. He even posted a map pinning some of the locations that would be the hardest hit if his predictions came to pass.


After the quake, he tweeted again, saying: “As geologists, we grew exhausted of repeating that this earthquake was coming. No one even cared what we were saying.”


The earthquake left behind billions of dollars in damage, and government plans will require billions more at a time when the state budget is already strained.


Before the quake, Mr. Erdogan’s government unleashed billions of dollars in new spending aimed at cushioning the blow of high inflation to citizens before the election, a cash injection that some economists predicted could tip the country into recession this year.


On top of economic hardship, the earthquake will deepen Turks’ distress, and not in a way that makes them feel that they are contributing to a greater cause, said Selim Koru, an analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey.


“This, by its nature, comes out of nowhere, and it makes people even more miserable, and not just in the earthquake zone,” he said. “The economy is going to suffer, and I’m not sure it gives that suffering any meaning.”


The earthquake’s proximity to the presidential and parliamentary elections that must be held on or before June 18 could lead to other challenges.


The Reuters news agency quoted an unnamed Turkish official on Thursday as saying the earthquake’s devastation posed “serious difficulties” for the vote. It was the first hint that the government could seek to postpone it.


Trying to unseat Mr. Erdogan is a coalition of six opposition parties that want to bolster the economy and restore independence to state institutions. They have already started trying to turn the quake response into an election issue.


But even some angry voters still trust Mr. Erdogan.


“We failed this test,” said Ismail Ozaslan, 58, a long-haul truck driver in a park in Gaziantep where part of his family was cramped inside a tent. “We are like patients left to die. There is no management here.”


But his criticism of local and national officials, whom he accused of corruption and neglect, stopped short of Mr. Erdogan.


“It’s like a building where the roof is strong but the pillars are rotten,” he said. “We don’t have a chance other than Erdogan. May God grant him a long life.”



13) Video Raises Questions About Tortuguita’s Death at “Cop City” Amid Permit Appeal

The release of body camera footage and permit challenge come as one Atlanta Police Foundation board member steps down.

“…Tortuguita’s family and lawyers discussed the results of a private autopsy that showed Tortuguita was shot at least 13 times by several different firearms.”

By Candice Bernd, TRUTHOUT, February 10, 2023

A screen capture of the body-worn camera footage released by the Atlanta Police Department on February 8, 2023. ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT

Body-worn camera video released by the Atlanta Police Department (APD) showing the immediate aftermath of a Georgia State Patrol trooper’s fatal shooting of Manuel Esteban Paez Terán at the forested site of a planned police training facility raises questions about the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s (GBI) initial story of Terán’s killing. The video release comes at a time when the facility’s land disturbance permit is being legally challenged.


APD released four videos from a unit of officers who were not directly involved in the shooting. The footage appears to confirm Terán’s killing was carried out by a Georgia State Patrol SWAT team, which is not required to wear body cameras.


Terán, whose chosen name was Tortuguita, was shot and killed by police on January 18 during a violent raid on a protest encampment in the South River Forest that has blockaded construction of what Atlanta-area activists have dubbed “Cop City,” an 85-acre, $90 million police militarization and training complex spearheaded by the Atlanta Police Foundation that, if built, would be one of the largest police training facilities in the country. The site would contain several shooting ranges, a helicopter landing base, an area for explosives training, police-horse stables and an entire mock city for officers to engage in role-playing activities.


The GBI initially said Tortuguita was shot and killed after allegedly firing a gun and injuring a Georgia state trooper during the raid, but APD’s newly released body camera video appears to show officers suggesting that the trooper was shot by friendly fire in the initial moments after the shooting. In one video, after gunshots ring out through the forest, an officer can be heard saying, “That sounded like suppressed gunfire,” implying the initial shots were consistent with the use of a law enforcement weapon, not the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield nine-millimeter the GBI alleges Tortuguita purchased and fired upon the trooper with, which did not have a suppressor.


Later, another officer can be heard muttering to himself, “You fucked your own officer up.” The officer walks up to two other officers and asks, “Did they shoot their own in there?” to which another officer replies, “We don’t know what he got shot by,” followed by inaudible dialogue. An officer responds and says, “The first one, they said, was suppressed.” At another point in the footage, a drone can be overheard, indicating that GBI may have more direct footage of Torguita’s shooting.


In a statement to the media on January 18, anonymous protesters and community activists dubbed “Forest Defenders” reported hearing “dozens” of gunshots around 9 am on January 18, indicating it wasn’t clear who fired the first shot, and alleging they had “reason to believe” Tortuguita was killed after a friendly fire incident. Police continued the raid after Tortuguita’s shooting, using tear gas and rubber bullets to remove protesters from tree houses and bulldozing forest around the camp.


Tortuguita’s death sparked an uprising in Atlanta in the following days, during which the city’s residents broke windows and burned a police car. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in response to protests that allows up to 1,000 National Guard troops to police the streets of Atlanta. Today is the last day the order remains in effect.


Over the course of December and January, 19 opponents of the police training center have been charged with felonies under Georgia’s rarely used 2017 domestic terrorism law, including participants of the recent uprising. A Grist review of 20 arrest warrants shows that none of those hit with terrorism charges are accused of seriously injuring anyone, and that many of the alleged acts of “domestic terrorism” consist solely of trespassing in the woods, camping or occupying a tree house.


The GBI released a statement in response to the release of APD’s body camera videos on Thursday, saying that the footage shows that “at least one statement exists where an officer speculates that the Trooper was shot by another officer in crossfire. Speculation is not evidence. Our investigation does not support that statement.” They went on to note that their investigation of the shooting remains ongoing, and that, “When the investigation is complete, all videos will be provided.” It’s unclear if that would include video from the drone heard on the APD footage.


Tortuguita’s family released a statement Thursday responding to the release of the body camera footage, saying the videos raise “more questions than they answer, but confirm the family’s worst fears that Manuel was massacred in a hail of gunfire. The videos also show the clearing of the forest was a paramilitary operation that set the stage for excessive use of force.”


In a press conference on Monday, Tortuguita’s family and lawyers discussed the results of a private autopsy that showed Tortuguita was shot at least 13 times by several different firearms. The family has joined community activists in calling for investigation of the shooting completely independent of the GBI, DeKalb County police and the APD, and for the agencies to share the evidence it has gathered with the family in a face-to-face meeting.


Kamau Franklin, an organizer with the Black-led collective Community Movement Builders, was among the community activists who spoke at the press conference Monday. Franklin called for an independent investigation from a private entity in response to the release of the footage, telling Truthout that, “It’s not sort of damning evidence that it actually was friendly fire, but, [police’s] estimation is that somebody assumed such. Those things lead us to believe that there’s no way whatsoever we can trust the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to do a thorough investigation.”


The release of the videos comes as the Atlanta public safety training center’s land disturbance permit is being challenged by a member of the project’s own review committee, and after another member, Nicole Morado, resigned in outrage over the police-perpetrated killing of Tortuguita the day they were shot on January 18. Morado told the Guardian that, “It doesn’t sit well with me, to be affiliated with a project that has resulted in somebody’s life being taken.”


Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, alongside DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond announced the county’s approval of the permit during a press conference last week. During the conference, Dickens and Thurmond referred several times to the Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee, a body intended to act as a representative for the communities immediately surrounding forested area of the planned training facility — mostly Black and working-class residents of unincorporated DeKalb County.


But Advisory Committee member Amy Taylor, who lives within 250 feet of the site, filed an appeal to the project’s permit Monday with the DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals. The appeal claims the county improperly issued the permit because the project’s construction would violate a state limit on sediment runoff and because the amount of green space its lease sets aside is inaccurately large.


The Advisory Committee has been at the center of many transparency issues since its creation in 2021 in response to criticisms about lack of transparency in the training center’s public process. Environmental engineer Lily Ponitz was removed from the committee last year after speaking to the press (including this reporter) about the project’s problematic environmental reviews. She previously told Truthout the committee’s public meetings are largely dominated by Atlanta Police Foundation officials and their development team, with little opportunity for open discussion. Taylor joined the committee after both Ponitz and Morado’s departure.


Taylor’s attorney, Jon Schwartz, tells Truthout the county processed her appeal Thursday. The next step is a hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals in April, Schwartz says, and then the board would have 60 days to issue a ruling. The stay against the permit would remain in effect until the board issues a decision, legally freezing construction on the project until potentially as late as June. If the Zoning Board rules the permit can move ahead, Schwartz says he still has the opportunity to appeal to the Superior Court.


DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry told Truthout he also plans to file an appeal alongside the South River Watershed Alliance using a similar argument to Taylor’s — that the permit violates the Clean Water Act. Terry, whose district includes the South River Forest, said his attempts to have the county reject Atlanta’s applications for permits have been met with silence.


“The announcement [of the permit] last Tuesday between the mayor and CEO Michael Thurman was a bit of a shock because they literally emailed us at 1 pm on the day of a 3 pm press conference,” Terry said. “It’s like that old saying, ‘When you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.’


Terry emphasized the lack of transparency from city and Atlanta Police Foundation leaders pushing the training center project over the past two years, telling Truthout there hasn’t been a sincere attempt to engage the larger community or include county representatives like himself. In September 2021, the Atlanta City Council approved the project despite nearly 17 hours of comments from more than 1,100 constituents across the city, 70 percent of whom expressed firm opposition. Black working-class communities who actually live in the proposed area of unincorporated DeKalb County, and therefore aren’t represented in Atlanta’s City Council, also vocally oppose the project.


Residents are also fighting other development projects threatening the South River Forest, including a planned expansion of Hollywood’s Blackhall Studio, which they say would further intensify gentrification in an area that has one of the widest income inequality gaps in the country. Organizers argue both projects would further displace working-class Black people rather than prioritize the kinds of solutions the city and county desperately need, such as affordable housing.


The release of the body camera footage and news of the permit appeal also come as former Emory University President Claire Sterk stepped down this week from the board of the Atlanta Police Foundation. Sterk resigned from the board after more than 100 health care workers and students affiliated with Emory signed a letter calling for her resignation. The campaign is now focused on pressuring Foundation board member Douglas Murphy with the Emory Department of Surgery to follow suit.


The Emory letter is just one of many pressure campaigns that have kicked off at several universities and colleges in Georgia, including the historically Black colleges at Morehouse and Spellman. Faculty at Morehouse, Martin Luther King Jr.’s alma mater, also signed a letter in opposition to the project, prompting Mayor Dickens to meet with students and faculty of the larger Atlanta University Center system, including Morehouse President David Thomas, about student opposition across the system’s campuses.


Mayor Dickens reportedly became visibly frustrated during the meeting, telling students that he “was not a sellout.” Students at Mayor Dickens alma mater, Georgia Tech, are planning another protest against the training center today.


“In Black community vernacular, when you have to say you’re not a sellout, that usually means you are a sellout,” Community Movement Builders’ Franklin told Truthout, calling the burgeoning student movement at the city’s historically Black colleges and universities one of the most significant recent developments in the ongoing struggle against the police training center. “There’s actually now a larger movement building here to stop Cop City even as [city officials] grant themselves the permit to try to build this thing.”


A Georgia State University student and movement organizer told Truthout he is working to more closely coordinate student groups across different universities. Students are focused on organizing a large convergence during a week of action March 4-11 to reoccupy the South River Forest, he says. “We don’t want police to just chop down as many trees as they can before [a Zoning Board decision on the permit appeal]. So the legal front is really important for that strategy,” said Elias, who requested a pseudonym to avoid police surveillance of his organizing activities.


The land around the site slated to become the training center is associated with the Old Atlanta Prison Farm, a complex of farms sold in a land lottery to a chattel slave plantation. The site became a city-operated prison and dairy farm where incarcerated people were forced to grow crops and raise livestock to feed the populations of other city prisons from about 1920 to 1989, according to the Atlanta Community Press Collective. Today, the area continues to host a shooting range, juvenile detention facility and the Helms state prison.


The struggle against the training center has brought activists against police violence together with environmental activists as well as Muscogee (Creek) tribal members, whose ancestors originally inhabited the land before their forced removal in the early 19th century. Highlighting the intersection of the training center’s social and environmental injustices, they point out that not only is the South River Forest and watershed, known to the Muscogee as the Weelaunee Forest, one of the city’s most important defenses in the face of the worsening climate crisis, it’s also long been the site of racist displacement, enslavement and carceral subjugation.