Wednesday, November 20, 2019

BAUAW NEWSLETTER, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2019

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Women in Black Annual Black Friday Action.

Friday, Nov. 29, 11:45:  Meet at Powell St. BART station. 
12:00:  March to Union Square for one hour vigil, chants and "anti-carols".

1:00 return to Powell St.
SFPD will escort us.



Please join them if you can,  
Toby     (We'll be out of town)


Dear all,

Please join Bay Area Women in Black for our annual Black Friday march and vigil in San Francisco. Our fliers and signs will carry the message, on the most profitable shopping day of the year in the US, that people's purchases may be contributing to the illegal and deadly Israeli occupation and colonizing of Palestine.  We will name specific products to be boycotted, explaining the rationale of each call for boycott. We will also urge people to remind their elected representatives of the role of US taxpayers in the increased violence of the Israeli military government toward Palestinian civilians, particularly children,  and in the official steps that Israel is taking, with US support, toward a state worse than apartheid South Africa.

Please dress in black.  Drums are welcome. Let us know if you are willing to wear a "puppet" (see attached photo by Phil Pasquini). And please pass this message along to allies.ro

Peace and be well,
Judith and BAWiB




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Save The Date: Black Lives Matter at School Week, February 3-7, 2020.




Mark your calendar! The Black Lives Matter at School national week of action will be held from February 3-7th, 2020–and educators from coast to coast are organizing to make this the biggest coordinated uprising for racial justice in the schools yet. 
Black Lives Matter At School is a national coalition educators, parents and students organizing for racial justice in education.  We encourage community organizations and unions to join our annual week of action during the first week of February each year. To learn more about how to participate in the week of action, please check out the BLM@School starter kit
If you or your organization would like to support or endorse the week of action, please email us at: BlackLivesMatterAtSchool2@gmail.com.  
During the 2018-2019 school year, BLM@School held its second national week of action in some 30 different citiesaround the country. During the nationally organized week of action, thousands of educators around the U.S. wore Black Lives Matter shirts to school and taught lessons about the guiding principles of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, structural racism, intersectional black identities, black history, and anti-racist social movements. 
In addition to centering Blackness in the classroom, BLM at School has these four demands:
1) End "zero tolerance" discipline, and implement restorative justice
3) Mandate Black history and Ethnic Studies in K-12 curriculum
The lessons that educators teach during the week of action corresponded to the guiding principles of Black Lives Matter:
Monday: Restorative Justice, Empathy and Loving Engagement
Tuesday: Diversity and Globalism
Wednesday: Trans-Affirming, Queer Affirming and Collective Value
Thursday: Intergenerational, Black Families and Black Villages
Friday: Black Women and Unapologetically Black
With your help, this year's BLM at School week of action can continue to grow and provide healing for Black students.  Learn more about how to participate by visiting our website, www.BlackLivesMatterAtSchool.com. Let us know what you are planning for BLM at School week this school year or ask us how to get involved with the action by emailing us at: BlackLivesMatterAtSchool2@gmail.com.

Related

https://blacklivesmatteratschool.com/2019/10/15/save-the-date-black-lives-matter-at-school-week-feb-3-7-2020/








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Stop Kevin Cooper's Abuse by San Quentin Prison Guards!

https://www.change.org/p/san-quentin-warden-ronald-davis-stop-kevin-cooper-s-abuse-by-san-quentin-prison-guards-2ace89a7-a13e-44ab-b70c-c18acbbfeb59?recruiter=747387046&recruited_by_id=3ea6ecd0-69ba-11e7-b7ef-51d8e2da53ef&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=petition_dashboard&use_react=false

On Wednesday, September 25, Kevin Cooper's cell at San Quentin Prison was thrown into disarray and his personal food dumped into the toilet by a prison guard, A. Young.

The cells on East Block Bayside, where Kevin's cell is, were all searched on September 25 during Mandatory Yard. Kevin spent the day out in the yard with other inmates. In a letter, Kevin described what he found when he returned:

"This cage was hit hard, like a hurricane was in here . . . little by little I started to clean up and put my personal items back inside the boxes that were not taken . . . I go over to the toilet, lift up the seatcover and to my surprise and shock the toilet was completely filled up with my refried beans, and my brown rice. Both were in two separate cereal bags and both cereal bags were full. The raisin bran cereal bags were gone, and my food was in the toilet!"

A bucket was eventually brought over and:

"I had to get down on my knees and dig my food out of the toilet with my hands so that I could flush the toilet. The food, which was dried refried beans and dried brown rice had absorbed the water in the toilet and had become cement hard. It took me about 45 minutes to get enough of my food out of the toilet before it would flush."

Even the guard working the tier at the time told Kevin, "K.C., that is f_cked up!"

A receipt was left in Kevin's cell identifying the guard who did this as A. Young. Kevin has never met Officer A. Young, and has had no contact with him besides Officer Young's unprovoked act of harassment and psychological abuse.

Kevin Cooper has served over 34 years at San Quentin, fighting for exoneration from the conviction for murders he did not commit. It is unconscionable for him to be treated so disrespectfully by prison staff on top of the years of his incarceration.

No guard should work at San Quentin if they cannot treat prisoners and their personal belongings with basic courtesy and respect. Kevin has filed a grievance against A. Young. Please:

1) Sign this petition calling on San Quentin Warden Ronald Davis to grant Kevin's grievance and discipline "Officer" A. Young.

2) Call Warden Ronald Davis at: (415) 454-1460 Ext. 5000. Tell him that Officer Young's behaviour was inexcusable, and should not be tolerated.

3) Call Yasir Samar, Associate Warden of Specialized Housing, at (415) 455-5037

4) Write Warden Davis and Lt. Sam Robinson (separately) at:

Main Street
San Quentin, CA 94964
5) Email Lt. Sam Robinson at: samuel.robinson2@cdcr.ca.gov


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Sign Global Petition to Dismiss Charges Against Anti-Nuclear Plowshares Activists Facing 25 Years

US ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR

This is an urgent request that you join with distinguished global supporters including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, other Nobel laureates and many others by signing our global petition to dismiss all charges against the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 (KBP7). They face 25 years in prison for exposing illegal and immoral nuclear weapons that threaten all life on Earth. The seven nonviolently and symbolically disarmed the Trident nuclear submarine base at Kings Bay, GA on April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (View KBP7 reading their statement here.)

This petition is also a plea for us all to be involved in rebuilding the anti-nuclear weapons movement that helped disarm the world's nuclear arsenals from 90,000 down to 15,000 weapons in the 1980s. We must abolish them all. The KBP7 trial is expected to begin this fall in Georgia. Time is short. Please sign the petition and visit kingsbayplowshares7.org. Help KBP7 by forwarding their petition to your friends, to lists, and post it on social media.

The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 have offered us their prophetic witness. Now it's up to us!

In peace and solidarity,

The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 Support Committee
https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/sign-global-petition-to-dismiss-charges-against-anti-nuclear-plowshares-activists-facing-25-years?source=direct_link&




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Vote Socialist 2020!
Gloria La Riva and Leonard Peltier announce presidential run

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Support the return of Leonard Peltier's Medicine Bundle

November 1, 2019

Dear Friends and supporters,
We need your help in getting Leonard Peltier's- (89637-132) Medicine Bundle returned to him. His Medicine Bundle includes: Pipe bowel, Pipe stem, Eagle feathers, sage and cedar. Leonard is at USP Coleman1, in Coleman FL. which has been locked down since mid-July. This lockdown has led to many "shakedowns" that is where the guards go in to a cell and check it for weapons. Leonard said in a legal letter,  that on"10/22/2019 the shakedown crew came to his cell and destroyed itThey came in and tore apart everything and threw out everything they couldjust because they couldThe most painfuland what caused me the most anger was when they took my religious itemsmyPipe (Chunapain myMedicine Bundleuse in my prayers."
Leonard's lawyer was immediately on top of the situation and asked us to hold off until he could reach Leonard's counselor and get the Bundlereturned.  I heard from the attorney last night and he said the prison has not returned Leonard his Medicine Bundle nor give them any reason for itbeing taken. 

Leonard Peltier as a citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewaa federally recognized American Indian Nation is afforded all the legalprotections and rights pursuant to the American Indian Freedom of Religion Act codified at Title 42 United States Code 1996 et.seq.

I am asking if today you would send e-mails to Coleman I SR. Attorney J.C. DiNicola jcdinicola@bop.gov, public relations officer-COA/Publicinformation@bop.gov and to thenBOP-Southwest Regional office SERO/ExecAssistant@bop.gov requesting the return of Leonard Peltier 89637-132, Medicine Bundle

This lockdown has been extremely hard on Leonard and his Medicine Bundle is his way to help him maintain his relationship to his Creator!

Miigwech
Paulette Dauteuil ILPDC National Office
Sheridan Murphy- President of the ILPDC Board
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Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/


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Courage to Resist
Reality Winner, a whistleblower who helped expose foreign hacking of US election systems leading up to the 2016 presidential election, has been behind bars since June 2017. Supporters are preparing to file a petition of clemency in hopes of an early release. Reality's five year prison sentence is by far the longest ever given for leaking information to the media about a matter of public interest. Stand with Reality shirts, stickers, and more available. Please take a moment to sign the letter


Vietnam War combat veteran Daniel Shea on his time in Vietnam and the impact that Agent Orange and post traumatic stress had on him and his family since. Listen now
This Courage to Resist podcast was produced in collaboration with the Vietnam Full Disclosure effort of Veterans For Peace — "Towards an honest commemoration of the American war in Vietnam." This year marks 50 years of GI resistance, in and out of uniform, for many of the courageous individuals featured. If you believe this history is important, please ...




COURAGE TO RESIST ~ SUPPORT THE TROOPS WHO REFUSE TO FIGHT!
484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559
www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist

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New Evidence of Innocence Spurs two Court Filings for Mumia Abu Jamal

Press Release

mobilization4mumia.com

September 9, 2019 Philadelphia—The struggle to free unfairly convicted Mumia Abu-Jamal took a significant step forward on September 3, 2019, when his attorneys submitted two documents to Pennsylvania Superior Court.
Judith L Ritter, Widener University-Delaware Law School, and Samuel Spital, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. released this statement: 
"This week, Mumia Abu-Jamal filed a brief in Pennsylvania Superior Court to support his claim that his 1982 trial was fundamentally unfair in violation of the Constitution. For example, he argues that the prosecution failed to disclose evidence as required and discriminated against African Americans when selecting the jury. And, his lawyer did not adequately challenge the State's witnesses. 
"Mr. Abu-Jamal also filed a motion containing new evidence of constitutional violations such as promises by the prosecutor to pay or give leniency to two witnesses. There is also new evidence of racial discrimination in jury selection."
Abu-Jamal has always said he is innocent and the new documents go a long way in supporting his case, undermining police and prosecution claims of how Philadelphia police officer Danny Faulkner was killed.
The filings are in response to the December 27, 2018 decision by Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker reinstating Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petitions for the defendant. Tucker ruled Justice Ronald Castille unconstitutionally participated in deciding the appeals in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after denying Mr. Abu-Jamal's motions asking for his recusal, creating an appearance of judicial bias.
The "Brief For Appellant" in support of his struggle to gain his freedom after 37 years in Pennsylvania prisons re-opens the PCRA petitions as ordered by Tucker.
The "Appellant's motion for remand to the court of common pleas to consider newly discovered evidence" ask the Superior Court that the case be sent back to the Court of Common Pleas "so that he may present newly discovered evidence."
Among the arguments resubmitted in the "Brief For Appellant:"
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel:Failure to make right argument because counsel did not know the law.
Brady Violation—District Attorney Withheld Evidence:Namely that Prosecutor said that he would look into reinstating the driver's license of key witness, Robert Chobert;
Rights Violation of fifth, sixth, and 14th Amendments:District Attorney manipulated key witness to falsely identify Abu-Jamal as the shooter.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel:Failure to retain ballistics expert when the trial counsel knew Officer Faulkner was killed by a .44 caliber bullet even though it was known Abu-Jamal's firearm was not a .44 weapon.
Batson:Discrimination in jury selection that kept Black jurors from being sworn in.
Juror Misconduct:Several jurors violated court rules by conducting premature discussions, creating potential for prejudgment of evidence.
Basym Hassan, Philadelphia political activist, said: "The district attorney clearly violated Mumia's constitutional rights by withholding clear evidence that should have been exposed from the beginning. Throughout the entire process of Mumia's approaching the scene up until today's current developments, the law has not been applied as it was created—to get to the truth of a matter. Hopefully, Mumia will get a re-trial and the truth will finally get told. We await his release from hell."
Cindy Miller, Food Not Bombs, Solidarity and Mobilization for Mumia reminds us: "Does everybody remember on December 28, when current Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and his staff happened to find six boxes of evidence that had not beforehand been shown? That evidence is partly the reason for this new motion."
The "Appellant's motion for remand to the court of common pleas to consider newly discovered evidence" Miller refers to, includes the suppression of evidence of improper prosecutorial interactions with the state's main two witnesses that were instrumental in ensuring Abu-Jamal's conviction. The motion charges that "Abu-Jamal's capital trial was fundamentally unfair and tainted by serious constitutional violations. Mr. Abu-Jamal respectfully requests that this Court remand the case to the Court of Common Pleas so that Mr. Abu-Jamal may litigate the claims arising from this new evidence."
Pam Africa: "Here's another example of why Mumia shoulda been home—an example of police and prosecutorial misconduct. That evidence has been there for years. It shoulda been in trial records but it was hidden. What else is hidden besides the few things that we have right here."
MOVE 9 member, Eddie Africa said: "If they deal with this issue honestly, they'll have to release him because they know what they did was wrong."
Mumia, 65-years-old, remains in SCI Mahanoy in poor health, suffering from severe itching and cirrhosis of the liver. He recently had cataract surgery in his left eye and is awaiting surgery in his right eye. He also has glaucoma. 
Janine Africa, from the MOVE 9, said: "I just got released from prison after 41 years in May. I want to say, everyone work hard to bring Mumia home so he can be taken care of and get proper medical care, and he don't deserve to be in jail from the beginning."
Mike Africa Jr. added: "The pressure of the people, and of the power of the people is squeezing the evidence of Mumia's innocence out. We shall win."


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The Campaign To Bring Mumia Home


 

As many of you know, Jalil has been to the parole board twelve times since 2002, when he first become parole eligible.

Jalil has been denied each time for a variety of reasons, all of which are tantamount to the nature of the crime—something that will never change.

Pursuant to NYS Constitutional Article IV, Section 4, Jalil has filed an Application to Commute the Sentence to Time Served with NYS Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Governor Cuomo has the authority to grant the Application and order Jalil's immediate release from NYS DOCCS custody.

Since the Application's submission it has been revealed that the NYS Board of Parole had a "secret deal" with the NYC Police Benevolent Association (PBA), permitting them to submit opposition letters directly to the Board of Parole from their website. These opposition letters negatively influenced the decision-making process, ensuring Jalil would not receive a fair and impartial parole hearing. During Jalil's 2014 parole hearing, he was told that "current and former members of law enforcement" were parole commissioners, many of whom decided to deny his release.

On December 4th & 5th, 2016, The New York Times published an extensive exposé entitled "The Scourge of Racial Bias in New York States Prisons" that informed: "The racism can be felt from the moment a black inmate enters New York's upstate prisons." This implacable racism has been institutionalized in the entire parole system, permitting subjective biases of parole commissioners to influence parole decisions.

Since the submission of the Application to Commute the Sentence to Time Served, Governor Cuomo has received many letters and communications urging him to grant Jalil's Application. However, due to the revelation of political collusion between the Board of Parole and the PBA, and the PBA/media backlash and scrutiny of the Parole Board's release of Jalil's co-defendant, it has become necessary to launch this initiative in support of Jalil's Application.

Jalil exceeds all requirements for release. His release on parole has been supported by activists, academics and community leaders from across the country and around the world, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the family of one of the victims. The political nature of his conviction has prevented parole commissioners from giving fair and impartial consideration to his release, despite the overwhelming community support.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS

During his 48+ years of his imprisonment, Jalil has accomplished the following: Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, Certificate of Architectural Drafting, Certificate of Computer Literacy.

He has established many programs, such as the first Men's Group for therapeutic training in the NY State prison system, an African/Black Studies program, a computer literacy class, a Sociology class and a poetry class. He has received two commendations for preventing prison riots. He has raised money for the children's fund, was office manager of the computer lab and a teacher's aide for GED classes.

Jalil is also the recipient of several certificates for rehabilitation programming, and is a published author, poet, educator and blogger.

As a human rights advocate, he had the first U.S. prisoners national petition heard and recorded by a Special Committee at the United Nations on U.S. prisons and the existence of U.S. political prisoners. He has litigated several civil rights complaints on behalf of prisoners. In 2000, Essence magazine featured an article on father-daughter relationships. The article, entitled "Daddy Says," quoted Jalil stressing the importance of maintaining these relations even during incarceration.

We request that people do the following for Jalil throughout the months of November and December:

We are requesting that Friends and Supporters call, tweet, email and write NYS Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's office and appeal to him to grant Jalil's Application to Commute the Sentence to Time Served.

We also request that this initiative be widely posted on social media platforms, encouraging freedom loving people around the world to join in this initiative.

Since this will be ongoing throughout the months of November and December, we propose that people tweet and/or email Governor Cuomo every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and call and write the Governor every Tuesday and Thursday.

Communications to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's office must refer to Jalil as: ANTHONY JALIL BOTTOM, 77A4283, Sullivan Correctional Facility, P.O. Box 116, Fallsburg, New York 12733-0115.

Write the Governor:

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of the State of New York
Executive Chamber
State Capital Building
Albany, New York 12224

Call the Governor: 1-518-474-8390

Tweet the Governor: @NYGovCuomo

Email the Governor: https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form

For more information concerning Jalil's case, check his website: www.freejalil.com and https://thejerichomovement.com/

Click here to download a pamphlet to distribute to your family, friends, neighbors, faith group, etc.


UPCOMING EVENTS



 

"There is no time for despair, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. This is how civilizations heal."

-Toni Morrison
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Board Game

https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/race-for-solidarity

Solidarity against racism has existed from the 1600's and continues until today
An exciting board game of chance, empathy and wisdom, that entertains and educates as it builds solidarity through learning about the destructive history of American racism and those who always fought back. Appreciate the anti-racist solidarity of working people, who built and are still building, the great progressive movements of history. There are over 200 questions, with answers and references.
Spread the word!!
By Dr. Nayvin Gordon


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Action Alert for Shaka Shakur

Urgent Action Alert: Stop Prison Officials from Blocking Shaka Shakur's Access to Educational and Vocational Services

Shaka Shakur is a politically active, incarcerated, New Afrikan who was transferred on December 18th, 2018, from the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) to the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) as part of campaign to neutralize his activism by prison officials. This transfer was done in violation of his due process rights as a prisoner. He is currently incarcerated at the Sussex 1 State Prison in Waverly, Virginia. His VA DOC # is 135647.  Since being held there, his right to access educational and vocational programs has been violated. Below is a summary of these violations in Shaka's own words:

"1) i was moved out of the state of Indiana against my will in violation of Indiana Code and due process. i was never afforded any form of hearing where i was informed as to why i was being shipped out of state nor allowed to present evidence challenging the decision to move me.

2) Upon my arrival to the prison system in Virginia, i was never given any form of orientation. I've never been informed as to what my rights are, nor informed as to how i can go about challenging any decision made by the state of Va. I've only been informed that the state of Va has custody of my body and that all decisions pertaining to my classification, security level and placement was being determined and controlled by the state of Indiana and its Department of Corrections (IDOC).

3) There is supposed to be an IDOC liaison that oversees my placement in Va and communicates with an official in the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) named Ms. Collins. She has refused to respond to any and all efforts to contact her by myself or any outside sources. Any questions i've had pertaining to video visits, security level, placement, and classification have gone unanswered except for being told that it is up to Indiana.

4) Per Indiana Code i am supposed to be afforded the same rights and privileges as if i was still in Indiana. That includes jobs, programming, religious services etc.s To deny me such is a const violation and discrimination. In fact, it denies me equal protection under the law. I am not being allowed to find a job outside of the housing unit. i'm being told that i'm not going to be allowed to drop my security level even though my points will drop as low as 10 points in Va and less than 15 in indiana. Both of which would qualify me for a level 3 security level placement.

5) The counselor Ponce falsified my classification review/progress report by lying and saying that i had assaulted a staff member within the last 12 months. This was in order to justify my continued placement at a level 4/5 prison. When this was brought to her attention, she pretended that she had corrected it and instead further falsified the report and then blamed it on Indiana. i have copies of these documents and my lawyer have the originals [see images posted in event below]."

Furthermore:

6) The doctors at Sussex 1 have not been provided with Shaka's medical records past 2014. Shaka experiences nerve and other issues due to a degenerative disc on which he has been operated. Without these records he cannot be provided with the necessary care for his chronic condition.

7)There is no appeals process available to Shaka or any other out-of-state inmate. Indiana code establishes the sender state [Indiana] as having unchallenged authority in cases of interstate transfer. Having access only to internal grievance procedures in Virginia, Shaka is unable to appeal decisions made in Indiana

You can read about Shaka's long history of activism and rebellious activity in Indiana prisons here and here.

What You Can Do to Support Shaka:

On Monday, 11/11, call  the Indiana DOC Executive Director of Classification Jack Hendrix at (317) 232-2247. Leave a message with whoever you are able to speak to, or a voicemail. You can also email Jack Hendrix at jdhendrix@idoc.in.gov.

Please tell them to drop Shaka's  security level dropped to a level 3 for which he qualifies so that he can access vocational and educational programs, or to authorize Shaka's lateral transfer to a facility where he can be allowed to participate in vocational and educational programs.

As Shaka stated:

"How am i supposed to work my way back to Indiana if i'm not being allowed to participate in anything positive or constructive?"

To make a donation to Shaka Shakur's legal defense fund and for more info on his case, go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/shaka-shakur-legal-defense-fund

For more information, contact Seth Donnelly at sethdonnelly2000@yahoo.com.


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50 years in prison: 
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!

FREE Chip Fitzgerald 
Grandfather, Father, Elder, Friend
former Black Panther 
              
Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald has been in prison since he was locked up 50 years ago. A former member of the Black Panther Party, Chip is now 70 years old, and suffering the consequences of a serious stroke. He depends on a wheelchair for his mobility. He has appeared before the parole board 17 times, but they refuse to release him.

NOW is the time for Chip to come home!

In September 1969, Chip and two other Panthers were stopped by a highway patrolman. During the traffic stop, a shooting broke out, leaving Chip and a police officer both wounded. Chip was arrested a month later and charged with attempted murder of the police and an unrelated murder of a security guard. Though the evidence against him was weak and Chip denied any involvement, he was convicted and sentenced to death.

In 1972, the California Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty. Chip and others on Death Row had their sentences commuted to Life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. All of them became eligible for parole after serving 7 more years. But Chip was rejected for parole, as he has been ever since. 

Parole for Lifers basically stopped under Governors Deukmajian, Wilson, and Davis (1983-2003), resulting in increasing numbers of people in prison and 23 new prisons. People in prison filed lawsuits in federal courts: people were dying as a result of the overcrowding. To rapidly reduce the number of people in prison, the court mandated new parole hearings:
·        for anyone 60 years or older who had served 25 years or more;
·        for anyone convicted before they were 23 years old;
·        for anyone with disabilities 

Chip qualified for a new parole hearing by meeting all three criteria.

But the California Board of Parole Hearings has used other methods to keep Chip locked up. Although the courts ordered that prison rule infractions should not be used in parole considerations, Chip has been denied parole because he had a cellphone.

Throughout his 50 years in prison, Chip has been denied his right to due process – a new parole hearing as ordered by Federal courts. He is now 70, and addressing the challenges of a stroke victim. His recent rules violation of cellphone possession were non-violent and posed no threat to anyone. He has never been found likely to commit any crimes if released to the community – a community of his children, grandchildren, friends and colleagues who are ready to support him and welcome him home.

The California Board of Parole Hearings is holding Chip hostage.

We call on Governor Newsom to release Chip immediately.

What YOU can do to support this campaign to FREE CHIP:


1)   Sign and circulate the petition to FREE Chip. Download it at https://www.change.org/p/california-free-chip-fitzgerald
Print out the petition and get signatures at your workplace, community meeting, or next social gathering.

2)   Write an email to Governor Newsom's office (sample message at:https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iwbP_eQEg2J1T2h-tLKE-Dn2ZfpuLx9MuNv2z605DMc/edit?usp=sharing

3)   Write to Chip: 
 Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald #B27527,
CSP-LAC
P.O. Box 4490
B-4-150
Lancaster, CA 93539

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Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/

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Political Prisoners and Assange: Carole Seligman At S.F. Assange Rally
As part of an international action to free Julian Assange, a rally was held on June 12, 2019 at the US Federal Building in San Francisco and Carole Seligman was one of the speakers. She also speaks about imperialist wars and  the cases of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Fumiaki Hoshino.
For more info:
Production of Labor Video Project
www.laborvideo.org 

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One Democratic State of Palestine
https://odspal.net


Why One Democratic State of Palestine

The colonial entity and its imperial patrons have brought the people of Palestine to a historic juncture.  We, the residents of historic Palestine, must dismantle the terms of our collective extermination so as to set up relations which reject racial segregation and mutual negation.  We must dismantle the closed structure and replace it with an open, non-imperial and humane system.  This can only be achieved by establishing One Democratic State of Palestine for its indigenous people, the refugees who were forced out of the country and its current citizens.  This is the key to a 'fair and permanent resolution of conflict' in the region, and to a 'just solution' for the Palestinian cause.  Failing this, war and mutual destruction will continue.

Call for a Palestine Liberation Movement

Call initiated by the One State Assembly, February 9, 2019
We are calling for signatures on the statement to create national and global public opinion specially among Palestinians, Arabs and international supporters about the genuine, just and long lasting solution to the seven decades of the ethnic cleansing war and catastrophe of 1948. The One Democratic State  of Palestine (ODSP) initiative stands in opposition and objection to the dead solution of the two states, the Oslo Accords and exposing the latest racist Nation-State Law that was issued by the apartheid state of Israel which emphasizes the real nature of this manufactured colonial state.
This is a crucial time in the history of our struggle, which needs all activists, individuals and organizations, to consolidate and coordinate their efforts in an organized manner to make an impact, make a difference towards the only solution that guarantees the right of return and deals with our people as one united nation on one united homeland: the One Democratic State of Palestine.
Signatories include: Richard Falk, Alison Weir, Ann Wright, Cindy Sheehan, Tariq Ali, Paul Larudee, Kevin Zeese, Joe Lombardo, Tim Anderson, Amal Wahdan, Judith Bello, Ken Stone, Issa Chaer,  Ali Mallah, Alicia Jrapko …..
Endorsers: Free Palestine Movement, Palestine Solidarity Forum (India), Syria Solidarity Movement, International Committee for Peace Justice and Dignity, Hands Off Syria Coalition, Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War, United Front Against Facism and War (Canada), Communist Reconstruction (Canada), Palestine Solidarity Association/University of Western Cape (South Africa), India Palestine Solidarity Forum, Venezuela Solidarity Network, Free Palestine Movement, Akashma News, Media Review Network,  Solidarity Net, Kenya, Human Rights in the Middle East, Cleveland Peace Action, Interfaith Council For Peace In The Middle East Northeast Ohio, Pax Christi Hilton Head, Portsmouth South Downs Palestine Solidarity Campaign
https://odspal.net/call-for-a-palestine-liberation-movement/



Call for A Palestine Liberation Movement and One Democratic State of Palestine

We say YES to the just national struggle for our rights, which unifies the living energies of our people. We are inspired by our glorious history, our great leaders and their decisive battles, our martyrs, our prisoners, our restless youth and those in refugee camps, waiting on the realization of their inalienable right of return. We say NO to begging at the doors of the occupiers in pursuit of crumbs. This has led Palestinians and will lead them to more division and bloody infighting
Palestine was colonized for strategic, imperial reasons: it is at the junction of three continents, with key transport links and easy access for the hegemonic powers on their way to the oil wealth of the Arab nations. But the colonists could not evacuate the Palestinian people, who have lived here for more than 6,000 years.
After a century of dealing with the European colonial states and American imperialism, our Arab nation has been betrayed, and is still being betrayed, by the terror of these countries.
The illusion that Zionists want peace must be confronted. When will we wake up? We cannot speak of a national state for the Palestinians if we do not liberate ourselves from our petty differences while under siege and occupation. We have to recognize reality: that we continue in a period of national liberation, not in a period of state building.
For this reason we believe in the need to withdraw completely from farcical negotiations with the colonial entity. These only cover up and legalize the occupation. They suggest fair solutions which don't exist, deepening Palestinian conflicts and leading to bloody infighting.
The national liberation stage must precede the construction of the national state. Recognizing this provides a compass to guide us in our national priorities and relations with others. This means no more agreements with the occupiers. They will not commit to agreements, and experience shows they are part of a great deception, falsely called a 'peace process'.
This 'Peace Process' became a façade for the colonial entity to proceed with a so-called 'political solution'. Really, they needed Palestinian participation to pave the way for the oppressive Arab regimes to end the boycott and 'normalize' relationships with the entity.
As Arab markets were closed to the Zionist entity by a blockade, it was necessary to find ways to open them through 'normalization'. But Palestinian resistance had generated popular sympathy in the Arab and Islamic world, and formed a major obstacle to this 'normalization'. Zionist leader Shimon Perez admitted: "The main goal of the Oslo conventions was not Palestinians, but rather normalization with the Arab world and opening its markets."
Yet national liberation requires confronting, not submitting to, foreign hegemony. We say that the leadership of our national movement has ignored this, and has instead engaged in binding relations with the occupying entity and its patrons.
The history of the colonial entity in Palestine is nothing more than a history of the destruction of the Palestinian people and their civilization. Two thirds of our people have been displaced and more than 90% of our land has been stolen. Our land, water and houses are stolen and demolished every day, while apartheid walls are built and the racist nation-state law is being enforced by Israeli legislators. There is also a permanent aggression against the peoples of the region, to subjugate them through Salafist terrorism and economic siege.
The USA supports the Zionist entity with money, weapons, missiles and aircraft, while protecting it from punishment at the UN, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, abolishing its financial support for the United Nations Refugees and Work Agency (UNRWA) and halting its financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. How can the USA or its regional puppets ever be 'honest brokers' for the people of Palestine?
The invaders falsely used divine religion in attempts to destroy the indigenous people and their cultures. They said this was an 'empty land', available for another people with no land, but with the 'divine promise' of a religious homeland. Yet hiding settler colonization behind the banner of Judaism wrongly places responsibility on religion for the crimes of the colonizers.
We have no problem with 'Jewish' people in Palestine. That problem emerged in capitalist Europe, not in our countries. We are not the ones to create a solution to Europe's 'Jewish problem'. Rather, we have to deal with colonization and foreign hegemony in our region.
The colonial entity and its imperial patrons have brought the people of Palestine to a historic juncture. We, the residents of historic Palestine, must dismantle the terms of our collective extermination so as to set up relations which reject racial segregation and mutual negation. We must dismantle the closed structure and replace it with an open, non-imperial and humane system. This can only be achieved by establishing One Democratic State of Palestine for its indigenous people, the refugees who we were forced out of the country and its current citizens. This is the key to a 'fair and permanent solution of conflict' in the region, and to a 'just solution' for the Palestinian cause. Failing this, war and mutual destruction will continue.
Yet the old Palestinian leadership has presided over regression. They make agreements for the benefit of the colonial entity and its patrons. They abandon 1948 Palestine and the refugees. They collaborate with our enemies while delivering no tangible benefit for our people.
For these reasons we say that this leadership has become a real obstacle to any future development or advancement for our people. This leadership has lost its qualifications to lead national action. It looks to its own benefit and is too weak to learn the lessons of the anti-colonial movements of the peoples of Asia, Africa and the Americas. It does not see the advances elsewhere in challenging US hegemony. It does not even see the resistance in the Arab and Muslim World, when they manage to foil US and Zionist projects.
Our movement must be an organic part of the Arab Liberation Movement, putting an end to foreign hegemony, achieving national unity and liberating Palestine from the current apartheid system. Yet this great humanitarian goal directly clashes with the interests of the dominant triad - the forces of global hegemony, settler apartheid and the comprador Arab regimes.
We warn all against chasing the myth of 'two contiguous states' in Palestine. This is a major deception, to portray ethnic enclaves within Palestine as an expression of the right to popular self-determination. The goal must be to replace apartheid with equal citizenship and this can only be achieved by establishing One Democratic State in historic Palestine for all, including its indigenous people, the refugees who we were forced out of the country and its current citizens, including those who were drawn into the country as settlers through the Zionist project.
Palestinian parties negotiating for unity and reform should focus on restoring liberation to the core of the Palestinian National Charter. The Arab homeland will never be liberated and unified by subordination to the USA! It will only be liberated by confronting and ending colonial and imperial dominance.
We say YES to national unity in the framework of our Palestinian Liberation Movement, freed from deceptive agreements which only serve the hegemonic powers and comprador regimes.
LONG LIVE PALESTINE, liberated from racial colonization and built on the foundations of equality for all its citizens, rejecting segregation and discrimination by religion, culture or ethnicity; friends with its regional neighbours and with all progressive forces of the world!
**Your Signature**

HTTPS://ODSPAL.NET/CALL-FOR-A-PALESTINE-LIBERATION-MOVEMENT/

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Support Chuck Africa for Parole

Michael Africa Jr. started this petition to Pennsylvania Governor


Charles Sims Africa #AM 4975 has been in prison since age 18. He is now 59 years old and a recovering cancer patient. He has been eligible for parole since 2008 but continually denied because of  his political views.
Charles has 8 codefendants. Two has died in prison, four has been released from prison onto parole. Chuck's sister Debbie Sims Africa is one of the four codefendants released onto parole.
Since coming home from prison, Debbie is thriving. Our community of support has supported Debbie to excel and we are committed to do the same for Chuck so that he can excel as well. 
http://chng.it/Yprs8pXBBp

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On Abortion: From Facebook

Best explanation I've heard so far..., Copied from a friend who copied from a friend who copied..., "Last night, I was in a debate about these new abortion laws being passed in red states. My son stepped in with this comment which was a show stopper. One of the best explanations I have read:, , 'Reasonable people can disagree about when a zygote becomes a "human life" - that's a philosophical question. However, regardless of whether or not one believes a fetus is ethically equivalent to an adult, it doesn't obligate a mother to sacrifice her body autonomy for another, innocent or not., , Body autonomy is a critical component of the right to privacy protected by the Constitution, as decided in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), McFall v. Shimp (1978), and of course Roe v. Wade (1973). Consider a scenario where you are a perfect bone marrow match for a child with severe aplastic anemia; no other person on earth is a close enough match to save the child's life, and the child will certainly die without a bone marrow transplant from you. If you decided that you did not want to donate your marrow to save the child, for whatever reason, the state cannot demand the use of any part of your body for something to which you do not consent. It doesn't matter if the procedure required to complete the donation is trivial, or if the rationale for refusing is flimsy and arbitrary, or if the procedure is the only hope the child has to survive, or if the child is a genius or a saint or anything else - the decision to donate must be voluntary to be constitutional. This right is even extended to a person's body after they die; if they did not voluntarily commit to donate their organs while alive, their organs cannot be harvested after death, regardless of how useless those organs are to the deceased or how many lives they would save., , That's the law., , Use of a woman's uterus to save a life is no different from use of her bone marrow to save a life - it must be offered voluntarily. By all means, profess your belief that providing one's uterus to save the child is morally just, and refusing is morally wrong. That is a defensible philosophical position, regardless of who agrees and who disagrees. But legally, it must be the woman's choice to carry out the pregnancy., , She may choose to carry the baby to term. She may choose not to. Either decision could be made for all the right reasons, all the wrong reasons, or anything in between. But it must be her choice, and protecting the right of body autonomy means the law is on her side. Supporting that precedent is what being pro-choice means.", , Feel free to copy/paste and re-post., y
Sent from my iPhone

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Celebrating the release of Janet and Janine Africa
Take action now to support Jalil A. Muntaqim's release


Jalil A. Muntaqim was a member of the Black Panther Party and has been a political prisoner for 48 years since he was arrested at the age of 19 in 1971. He has been denied parole 11 times since he was first eligible in 2002, and is now scheduled for his 12th parole hearing. Additionally, Jalil has filed to have his sentence commuted to time served by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Visit Jalil's support page, check out his writing and poetry, and Join Critical Resistance in supporting a vibrant intergenerational movement of freedom fighters in demanding his release.

48 years is enough. Write, email, call, and tweet at Governor Cuomo in support of Jalil's commutation and sign this petition demanding his release.

http://freedomarchives.org/Support.Jalil/Campaign.html
Write:
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of the State of New York
Executive Chamber State Capital Building
Albany, New York 12224

Michelle Alexander – Author, The New Jim Crow; Ed Asner - Actor and Activist; Charles Barron - New York Assemblyman, 60th District; Inez Barron - Counci member, 42nd District, New York City Council; Rosa Clemente - Scholar Activist and 2008 Green Party Vice-Presidential candidate; Patrisse Cullors – Co-Founder Black Lives Matter, Author, Activist; Elena Cohen - President, National Lawyers Guild; "Davey D" Cook - KPFA Hard Knock Radio; Angela Davis - Professor Emerita, University of California, Santa Cruz; Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - Native American historian, writer and feminist; Mike Farrell - Actor and activist; Danny Glover – Actor and activist; Linda Gordon - New York University; Marc Lamont Hill - Temple University; Jamal Joseph - Columbia University; Robin D.G. Kelley - University of California, Los Angeles; Tom Morello - Rage Against the Machine; Imani Perry - Princeton University; Barbara Ransby - University of Illinois, Chicago; Boots Riley - Musician, Filmmaker; Walter Riley - Civil rights attorney; Dylan Rodriguez - University of California, Riverside, President American Studies Association; Maggie Siff, Actor; Heather Ann Thompson - University of Michigan; Cornel West - Harvard University; Institutional affiliations listed for identification purposes only.

Call: 1-518-474-8390

Email Gov. Cuomo with this form

Tweet at @NYGovCuomo
Any advocacy or communications to Gov. Cuomo must refer to Jalil as:
ANTHONY JALIL BOTTOM, 77A4283,
Sullivan Correctional Facility,
P.O. Box 116,
Fallsburg, New York 12733-0116


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Funds for Kevin Cooper

https://www.gofundme.com/funds-for-kevin-cooper?member=1994108

For 34 years, an innocent man has been on death row in California. 

Kevin Cooper was wrongfully convicted of the brutal 1983 murders of the Ryen family and houseguest. The case has a long history of police and prosecutorial misconduct, evidence tampering, and numerous constitutional violations including many incidences of the prosecution withholding evidence of innocence from the defense. You can learn more here . 

In December 2018 Gov. Brown ordered  limited DNA testing and in February 2019, Gov. Newsom ordered additional DNA testing. Meanwhile, Kevin remains on Death Row at San Quentin Prison. 

The funds raised will be used to help Kevin purchase art supplies for his paintings . Additionally, being in prison is expensive, and this money would help Kevin pay for stamps, paper, toiletries, supplementary food, and/or phone calls.

Please help ease the daily struggle of an innocent man on death row!




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Don't extradite Assange!

To the government of the UK
Julian Assange, through Wikileaks, has done the world a great service in documenting American war crimes, its spying on allies and other dirty secrets of the world's most powerful regimes, organisations and corporations. This has not endeared him to the American deep state. Both Obama, Clinton and Trump have declared that arresting Julian Assange should be a priority. We have recently received confirmation [1] that he has been charged in secret so as to have him extradited to the USA as soon as he can be arrested. 
Assange's persecution, the persecution of a publisher for publishing information [2] that was truthful and clearly in the interest of the public - and which has been republished in major newspapers around the world - is a danger to freedom of the press everywhere, especially as the USA is asserting a right to arrest and try a non-American who neither is nor was then on American soil. The sentence is already clear: if not the death penalty then life in a supermax prison and ill treatment like Chelsea Manning. The very extradition of Julian Assange to the United States would at the same time mean the final death of freedom of the press in the West. 
The courageous nation of Ecuador has offered Assange political asylum within its London embassy for several years until now. However, under pressure by the USA, the new government has made it clear that they want to drive Assange out of the embassy and into the arms of the waiting police as soon as possible. They have already curtailed his internet and his visitors and turned the heating off, leaving him freezing in a desolate state for the past few months and leading to the rapid decline of his health, breaching UK obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights. Therefore, our demand both to the government of Ecuador and the government of the UK is: don't extradite Assange to the US! Guarantee his human rights, make his stay at the embassy as bearable as possible and enable him to leave the embassy towards a secure country as soon as there are guarantees not to arrest and extradite him. Furthermore, we, as EU voters, encourage European nations to take proactive steps to protect a journalist in danger. The world is still watching.
[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/16/us/politics/julian-assange-indictment-wikileaks.html
[2] https://theintercept.com/2018/11/16/as-the-obama-doj-concluded-prosecution-of-julian-assange-for-publishing-documents-poses-grave-threats-to-press-freedom/
https://internal.diem25.org/en/petitions/1

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Words of Wisdom

Louis Robinson Jr., 77
Recording secretary for Local 1714 of the United Auto Workers from 1999 to 2018, with the minutes from a meeting of his union's retirees' chapter.

"One mistake the international unions in the United States made was when Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. When he did that, the unions could have brought this country to a standstill. All they had to do was shut down the truck drivers for a month, because then people would not have been able to get the goods they needed. So that was one of the mistakes they made. They didn't come together as organized labor and say: "No. We aren't going for this. Shut the country down." That's what made them weak. They let Reagan get away with what he did. A little while after that, I read an article that said labor is losing its clout, and I noticed over the years that it did. It happened. It doesn't feel good."

[On the occasion of the shut-down of the Lordstown, Ohio GM plant March 6, 2019.]
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/05/01/magazine/lordstown-general-motors-plant.html

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Get Malik Out of Ad-Seg


Keith "Malik" Washington is an incarcerated activist who has spoken out on conditions of confinement in Texas prison and beyond:  from issues of toxic water and extreme heat, to physical and sexual abuse of imprisoned people, to religious discrimination and more.  Malik has also been a tireless leader in the movement to #EndPrisonSlavery which gained visibility during nationwide prison strikes in 2016 and 2018.  View his work at comrademalik.com or write him at:

Keith H. Washington
TDC# 1487958
McConnell Unit
3001 S. Emily Drive
Beeville, TX 78102
Friends, it's time to get Malik out of solitary confinement.

Malik has experienced intense, targeted harassment ever since he dared to start speaking against brutal conditions faced by incarcerated people in Texas and nationwide--but over the past few months, prison officials have stepped up their retaliation even more.

In Administrative Segregation (solitary confinement) at McConnell Unit, Malik has experienced frequent humiliating strip searches, medical neglect, mail tampering and censorship, confinement 23 hours a day to a cell that often reached 100+ degrees in the summer, and other daily abuses too numerous to name.  It could not be more clear that they are trying to make an example of him because he is a committed freedom fighter.  So we have to step up.


Who to contact:
TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier
Phone: (936)295-6371

Senior Warden Philip Sinfuentes (McConnell Unit)
Phone: (361) 362-2300

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Major George Tillery
MAJOR TILLERY FILES NEW LEGAL PETITION
SEX FOR LIES AND
MANUFACTURED TESTIMONY
April 25, 2018-- The arrest of two young men in Starbucks for the crime of "sitting while black," and the four years prison sentence to rapper Meek Mill for a minor parole violation are racist outrages in Philadelphia, PA that made national news in the past weeks. Yesterday Meek Mills was released on bail after a high profile defense campaign and a Pa Supreme Court decision citing evidence his conviction was based solely on a cop's false testimony.
These events underscore the racism, frame-up, corruption and brutality at the core of the criminal injustice system. Pennsylvania "lifer" Major Tillery's fight for freedom puts a spotlight on the conviction of innocent men with no evidence except the lying testimony of jailhouse snitches who have been coerced and given favors by cops and prosecutors.

Sex for Lies and Manufactured Testimony
For thirty-five years Major Tillery has fought against his 1983 arrest, then conviction and sentence of life imprisonment without parole for an unsolved 1976 pool hall murder and assault. Major Tillery's defense has always been his innocence. The police and prosecution knew Tillery did not commit these crimes. Jailhouse informant Emanuel Claitt gave lying testimony that Tillery was one of the shooters.

In May and June 2016, Emanuel Claitt gave sworn statements that his testimony was a total lie, and that the homicide cops and the prosecutors told him what to say and coached him before trial. Not only was he coerced to lie that Major Tillery was a shooter, but to lie and claim there were no plea deals made in exchange for his testimony. He provided the information about the specific homicide detectives and prosecutors involved in manufacturing his testimony and details about being allowed "sex for lies". In August 2016, Claitt reaffirmed his sworn statements in a videotape, posted on YouTube and on JusticeforMajorTillery.org.

Major Tillery has Fought his Conviction and Advocated for Other Prisoners for over 30 Years

Major Tillery Needs Your Help:


Major Tillery and family

HOW YOU CAN HELP
    Financial Support—Tillery's investigation is ongoing. He badly needs funds to fight for his freedom.
    Go to JPay.com;
    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner:
    The Conviction Review Unit should investigate Major Tillery's case. He is innocent. The only evidence at trial was from lying jail house informants who now admit it was false.
    Call: 215-686-8000 or

    Write to:
    Security Processing Center
    Major Tillery AM 9786
    268 Bricker Road
    Bellefonte, PA 16823
    For More Information, Go To: JusticeForMajorTillery.org
    Call/Write:
    Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, Kamilah29@yahoo.com
    Rachel Wolkenstein (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com




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    ILPDC NEWSLETTER BANNER
      

    On Monday March 4th, 2019 Leonard Peltier was advised that his request for a transfer had been unceremoniously denied by the United States Bureau of Prisons.

    The International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee appreciates and thanks the large number of his supporters who took the time to write, call, email, or fax the BOP in support of Leonard's request for a transfer.
    Those of us who have been supporting Leonard's freedom for a number of years are disappointed but resolute to continue pushing for his freedom and until that day, to continue to push for his transfer to be closer to his relatives and the Indigenous Nations who support him.
    44 years is too damn long for an innocent man to be locked up. How can his co-defendants be innocent on the grounds of self-defense but Leonard remains in prison? The time is now for all of us to dig deep and do what we can and what we must to secure freedom for Leonard Peltier before it's too late.
    We need the support of all of you now, more than ever. The ILPDC plans to appeal this denial of his transfer to be closer to his family. We plan to demand he receive appropriate medical care, and to continue to uncover and utilize every legal mechanism to secure his release. To do these things we need money to support the legal work.
    Land of the Brave postcard-page-0

    Please call the ILPDC National office or email us for a copy of the postcard you can send to the White House. We need your help to ask President Trump for Leonard's freedom.
      


    Free Leonard Peltier!



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    Articles:


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    1) Opportunity Zones — for Billionaires
    A federal tax break intended to draw investment to lower-income areas has become one more way for the rich to avoid paying taxes.
    By The Editorial Board, November 16, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/16/opinion/trump-tax-opportunity-zones.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    Illustration by The New York Times; photograph by Getty Images

    Of all the ways President Trump's 2017 tax cut has enriched the wealthy at the expense of the public interest, perhaps the most outrageous is the black comedy of "opportunity zones."
    The law lets the wealthy avoid capital gains taxation by investing in projects or companies in designated geographical areas. The stated purpose is to drive big money into investment deserts — areas where wealthy investors might otherwise hesitate to tread. In reality, the tax break is being used to juice the profit margins on projects like a proposed luxury condominium development at a "superyacht marina" in ritzy West Palm Beach, Fla.
    According to ProPublica, then-Gov. Rick Scott of Florida agreed to create the opportunity zone after lobbying by the owner of the marina, Wayne Huizenga Jr., the son of the billionaire founder of Waste Management and AutoNation. The Huizenga family gives generously to Republican candidates, including Mr. Scott, and Mr. Huizenga wrote a letter to Mr. Scott requesting the inclusion of the marina. Mr. Scott obliged — while deciding not to honor the request of the city government to designate nearby, less affluent areas of the same city.
    The report adds to a rapidly mounting pile of evidence that the design of the opportunity zone program is allowing a massive waste of public resources for the benefit of a wealthy few.

    The program, by its nature, rewards the small number of households that face significant capital gains taxation, offering them a measure of relief from that obligation. Still, many members of Congress — including a large number of Democrats — saw merit in encouraging development in downtrodden areas. But Congress failed to write a law that directed dollars into those areas, and the flaws have been compounded by the Trump administration's interpretation and administration of the program. The law, for instance, allowed the inclusion of a limited number of neighborhoods adjacent to low-income areas. As anyone who has spent time in an American city knows, this definition includes some very wealthy areas. And in the hands of the Treasury Department, the language of the law was capaciously interpreted to include fully 56 percent of the nation's census tracts, an astonishing figure. 
    The federal government then gave states significant discretion in picking from that list. The result, in many states, is that politicians chose to focus the tax breaks on areas already experiencing significant development. Indiana, for example, designated much of downtown Indianapolis as an opportunity zone — an area already experiencing a multibillion dollar building boom — while ignoring several lower-income neighborhoods around the designated downtown area.
    The developers of the planned condominiums at the superyacht marina in West Palm Beach have not even bothered to pretend that they needed the tax break to move ahead with the project. "It worked as a market-rate rental," Jorge Perez, chairman of the development firm Related Group, told Bloomberg. "Now, it works that much better as an opportunity zone."
    Similar stories of political largess are popping up around the country. The Times reported that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin personally intervened to designate an opportunity zone in Nevada, including a 700-acre industrial park among whose major investors is the billionaire junk bond king — and felon — Michael Milken. Officials initially concluded the area was too affluent to qualify, but Mr. Mnuchin, a friend of Mr. Milken's, reversed that decision, The Times reported. The Treasury says Mr. Mnuchin was not aware that Mr. Milken was among the beneficiaries; Mr. Milken has denied lobbying for the change.
    ProPublica has produced a series of compelling stories about similar giveaways, including a decision by the Trump administration to revise its initial list of eligible census tracts to include an affluent portion of downtown Detroit where Dan Gilbert, the billionaire founder of Quicken Loans, has amassed significant landholdings.

    Similarly, Kevin Plank, the billionaire founder of Under Armour, persuaded Maryland officials to designate a Baltimore district called Port Covington, where he already was planning a giant development project. To clear room, Maryland removed a nearby low-income neighborhood from its list of opportunity zones.
    Supporters of the law maintain that it will produce significant benefits. But in a further blow to the public interest, Congress stripped the legislation of any reporting requirements. The beneficiaries are not required to report the value of the tax breaks they receive, nor the value of the projects they undertake, making it impossible to assess the merits of the program. This is a basic and appalling failure of good governance. 
    It is not too late to correct those problems. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon introduced legislation earlier this month to exclude wealthier areas from the opportunity zone program and to create reporting requirements. Both changes are necessary. We concur in the judgment of Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina: "The program needs to be tweaked — or it needs to experience its funeral."


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    2)  PRESS RELEASE: Settlement Ends Solitary Confinement for All People Sentenced to Death in PennsylvaniaNovember 18, 2019
    https://mailchi.mp/5db08ee9bf5a/deathrow-solitary-abolished?e=8271292659

    CONTACT:
    Hanna Johnson, hjohnson@aclu.org
    Andrew Hoover, media@aclupa.org
    HARRISBURG, Pa. — The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Abolitionist Law Center, and counsel from Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP and Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feinberg & Lin LLP announced a settlement today in a class action lawsuit against the state's Department of Corrections. The suit, which was filed in January of 2018, claimed that Pennsylvania DOC's automatic, irrevocable practice of holding all people sentenced to death in permanent solitary confinement violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
    In the settlement, the department agreed to house people who have been sentenced to death in the same manner as the prisons' general population.
    "The use of long-term solitary confinement on anyone is torture," said Amy Fettig, deputy director of the National Prison Project. "The conditions Pennsylvania's DOC was subjecting people on death row to — spending their entire lives in a tiny, filthy cell without any normal human contact, congregate religious services, sufficient access to exercise, sunshine, access to the outdoors, or environmental and intellectual stimulation — weren't just deeply unconstitutional; they were horribly inhumane."
    The department will still house people who are sentenced to death in specific prisons, but has agreed to reforms to offer the rights and privileges afforded to people in other state facilities, including: 
    • At least 42.5 hours out-of-cell activity every week, including yard and outdoor time, law library time, congregate meal time, treatment or counseling meetings, congregate religious worship, work assignment, and phased in contact visitation;
    • Permission to use the phone on a daily basis  for at least 15 minutes per usage;
    • Incarcerated people will not be subjected to strip-searches, shackling, or other restraints, unless security measures are required in response to a temporary, emergent situation;
    • Contact visits with family, lawyers and religious advisors; and
    • Resocialization assistance for individuals psychologically damaged by long periods in solitary confinement to help them in the transition to living in a general population setting, as well and physical and mental health baseline evaluations due to years of neglect.
    "This settlement brings Pennsylvania out of the penological dark ages and makes it a national leader in treating all incarcerated persons humanely," said Witold Walczak, legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "We are grateful that Governor Wolf and Secretary Wetzel have agreed to stop using permanent solitary confinement and to adopt humane policies to govern Pennsylvania's capital units."
    "Despite decades spent in inhumane isolation, our clients have organized and persevered in this historic achievement for the movement to abolish solitary confinement in Pennsylvania," said Bret Grote, legal director of the Abolitionist Law Center. "They have set a powerful precedent for ending solitary confinement of capital case prisoners —  and eventually the death penalty as a whole — across the country. We are proud to represent them."
    Pennsylvania currently has 136 people on death row, making it the fifth largest row in the country. The state hasn't carried out an execution since 1999 and currently has a moratorium on the death penalty.
    More information about the lawsuit, Reid et al. v. Wetzel, including a copy of the settlement agreement, is available at this link: https://www.aclupa.org/en/cases/reid-et-al-v-wetzel
    ###
    Copyright © 2019 Abolitionist Law Center, All rights reserved.
    --
    Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
    Questions and comments may be sent to info@freedomarchives.org

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    3) Hong Kong Protests: Demonstrators Trapped at Polytechnic University as Court Overturns Mask Ban
    The police offered protesters one way out of a besieged university campus, raining tear gas and rubber bullets on those who attempted to flee.
    By Elaine Yu and Russell Goldman, Photos by Lam Yik-Fei, November 18, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/18/world/asia/hong-kong-protests-university.html

    Police officers on Monday seemed to block all routes out of Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

    Police officers on Monday cornered hundreds of student protesters who occupied a Hong Kong university, offering the demonstrators one way out: drop your weapons and surrender or be met with a hail of tear gas and rubber bullets. 
    For days, the protesters have held the police off from entering the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, fortifying their holdout with homemade fire bombs, giant sling shots, bricks and bows and arrows.
    At least 38 people were injured in a protracted battle at the university on Sunday, the city's Hospital Authority said, after a bloody battle in which a police officer was struck by an arrow and demonstrators set a police van on fire. 
    As other protests raged across the city, Hong Kong's High Court on Monday struck down a contentious ban on the wearing of face masks in public. The court found that the ban, enacted in October, violated the territory's mini-constitution, know as the Basic Law.

    The Hong Kong protests began in June over legislation, since scrapped, that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, and have expanded to include a broad range of demands for police accountability and greater democracy.
    Here's the latest:
    Running out of weapons and supplies, protesters at PolyU on Monday sought to flee the campus, only to find all of their routes blocked by a cordon of heavily armed riot police officers and a hailstorm of tear gas and rubber bullets. 
    The students on Monday afternoon tried unsuccessfully to rush a police cordon only to be pushed back into the campus. Despite running out of options, the students fear that following police instructions to "drop their weapons" and leave through one designated exit will result in their arrest.

    The protesters, many of them university and high school students, have occupied the campus for a week. On Sunday night and well into Monday morning they clashed with the police in one of the most violent confrontations in months of conflict. 
    At least 500 protesters remained on campus by Monday afternoon, after the police tried to enter the campus that morning but were pushed back.

    By nightfall, about 100 people staged a sit-in directly in front of the police cordon near the university, including women who appeared to be mothers of trapped protesters sobbing and being comforted by others. 
    "Most of the people here are parents," said Claudia Mo, a pro-democracy lawmaker who joined the rally. "They realize once their children get out they will be immediately arrested. They just want to take a look at their kid and see if he or she is O.K."
    Conditions on the campus have grown increasingly desperate with injured protesters unable to receive treatment, Owan Li, a student council member, told reporters. Student leaders said protesters suffered eye injuries and hypothermia after being struck by a stinging dye shot from a police water cannon.
    Areas near the university had the feel of a battle zone, with streets engulfed by tear gas and fires.

    Scores were arrested by the police on Monday morning near the university. A large group of people were seen seated outside a hotel in the Tsim Sha Tsui district of Kowloon, their hands zip-tied behind their backs.

    It was unclear if the bulk of the arrestees were protesters trying to flee the campus or allies responding to calls for help evacuating protesters. 
    The police said that they arranged for Red Cross volunteers to enter the campus in the afternoon and provide first aid to the injured, and that the force would assist those who needed to go to the hospital "before further investigation," implying that arrests would wait until after their treatments.
    Fernando Cheung, a pro-democracy lawmaker who was in touch with social workers, said that some of the young people trapped inside were "close to breaking down."
    The police said 154 people were arrested over the weekend, bringing the total number of arrests to 4,491 since the protests started in June.

    The city's High Court on Monday struck down a ban on wearing face masks in public, issuing a blow to the local government's ability to characterize the ongoing protests as a situation that requires the invocation of emergency powers. 
    The ban, which was enacted in October, quickly inflamed tensions in the city and set off a series of violent clashes. The city's chief executive, Carrie Lam, imposed the ban without seeking legislative approval by invoking powers granted under the rarely used Emergency Regulations Ordinance, or E.R.O. 
    In its ruling, the court said the ban violated the city's mini-constitution, known as the Basic Law, because it was too vague and endangered the ability of the Legislative Council, or LegCo, to make the territory's laws.
    "The E.R.O. is so wide in its scope, the conferment of powers so complete, its conditions for invocation so uncertain and subjective, the regulations made thereunder invested with such primacy, and the control by the LegCo so precarious, that we believe it is not compatible with the constitutional order laid down by the Basic Law," the court said in its ruling. 
    Masks have been worn by protesters since the early days of the movement, as a way for protesters to conceal their identities and protect themselves from the pepper spray and tear gas routinely deployed by the police. Many protesters saw the law as a pretext that would allow officers to arrest nonviolent demonstrators in order to discourage people from joining the street actions. 
    "The judgment affirms the importance of separation of powers and fundamental freedoms under our constitutional order," said Simon Young, a professor at the University of Hong Kong Law School.

    Austin Ramzy and Tiffany May contributed reporting. 


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    4) Sweden Drops Julian Assange Rape Inquiry
    "The evidence is not strong enough to form the basis of an indictment," the country's deputy director of public prosecutions said.
    By Elian Peltier, November 19, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/19/world/europe/sweden-julian-assange.html

    Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in 2017.Credit...Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    LONDON — The Swedish authorities announced on Tuesday that they would end an investigation into allegations of rape and sexual assault made against Julian Assange, the embattled WikiLeaks founder, that date from 2010.
    "The evidence is not strong enough to form the basis of an indictment," said Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden's deputy director of public prosecutions. "In such a situation, the preliminary investigation should be discontinued, and that is what has happened."
    Mr. Assange, 48, is still in a British prison awaiting a United States extradition hearing, raising questions about whether the end of the Swedish investigation would clear the path for that process to continue. 
    "This clears one hurdle away for Julian Assange," said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. "It brings the focus on the extradition process, and what British authorities will be willing to do."

    Sweden began investigating Mr. Assange in 2010, after two women accused him of assaulting them during separate sexual encounters while he was visiting Stockholm.
    When the Swedish authorities issued a European arrest warrant in 2012 seeking his extradition from Britain for questioning over "suspicion of rape, three cases of sexual molestation and illegal coercion," he fled to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Mr. Assange and his lawyers said they feared that if he returned to Sweden, he would then be extradited to the United States from there.
    He remained in self-imposed exile in the embassy for seven years, until his arrest in April after Ecuador revoked his asylum status. 
    Ms. Persson said that investigators had questioned again the individuals who had been interviewed in 2010 and spoken to two additional people who had not previously been interviewed. She said that the investigators had found the accusers credible and their statements reliable but that some parts of the testimonies were contradictory.
    In 2010, Anna Ardin, a Swedish woman who later spoke publicly about the incident, accused Mr. Assange of forcing her to have unprotected sex. A second woman said Mr. Assange had penetrated her without a condom as she was sleeping during the same trip to Stockholm.

    "Memories fade for natural reasons," Ms. Persson said, but she emphasized that the "injured party has submitted a credible and reliable version of events."
    "Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed," Ms. Persson said about one of the complainants. "However, my overall assessment is that the evidential situation has been weakened to such an extent that there is no longer any reason to continue the investigation."
    Asked by reporters about the length of the procedure — almost 10 years — Ms. Persson said that the extensive news coverage could have affected the case's viability.
    "You have to consider how much the witnesses will have read and heard from the media," she said.
    The Swedish authorities dropped the investigation in 2017, but it was reopened this year after Mr. Assange was arrested in London and a lawyer for one of the alleged victims asked for it to be revisited, the prosecutor said. Mr. Assange, who is Australian, has always denied the accusations, and his lawyers have repeatedly accused the complainants of trying to unjustly slur the WikiLeaks founder.
    Mr. Assange was detained last year and jailed for jumping bailafter Ecuador abruptly withdrew its protection of him. The United States is seeking his extradition over accusations that he tried to assist in a breach of classified data.
    In September, a British court ruled that Mr. Assange must stay in a British jail until his extradition hearing, which is planned for early next year. 
    The Justice Department has indicted Mr. Assange on a slew of charges including 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act, accusing him of the solicitation, acquisition, and publication of classified information from the former army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
    The charges raised questions about press freedom, and critics have expressed concern that the case could set a precedent to criminalize future acts of national security journalism.

    The end of the Swedish investigation into the sexual assault allegations simplifies matters for the United States government in its effort to extradite him to American soil. Put simply, it means there is now only one country, not two, that would like the British authorities to transfer custody of him for further legal proceedings. 
    The Justice Department declined to comment on how the end of the Swedish investigation would affect its case. 
    But Mr. Assange's lawyers welcomed the Swedish decision on Tuesday and said that it was time to turn to the American extradition request. Kristinn Hrafnsson, the editor in chief of WikiLeaks, echoed that sentiment in a statement published by the group.
    "Sweden has dropped its preliminary investigation into Mr. Assange for the third time, after reopening it without any new evidence or information," he said. "Let us now focus on the threat Mr. Assange has been warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment."
    Elisabeth Massi Fritz, a lawyer for one of the women who made allegations against Mr. Assange, said in an emailed statement that she and her client to do not share the prosecutor's assessment.
    She said there are logical reasons why the oral evidence from nine years ago has changed and said that if the earlier investigation had included more detailed questioning, "then the interviews would have been of higher quality and we would have been able to use them today."

    "Unfortunately, that is not the case," Ms. Massi Fritz said. "The only right decision would have been to interview the suspect in London,"
    Megan Specia contributed reporting from London, Christina Anderson from Stockholm and Charlie Savage from Washington.




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    5)  Falsely Imprisoned for 23 Years: Now He's Received $7 Million
    The payout "doesn't settle what I went through," said Derrick Hamilton, who accused the police of fabricating evidence.
    By Alan Feuer, November 19. 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/19/nyregion/derrick-hamilton-louis-scarcella-exoneration.html

    Derrick Hamilton leaving State Supreme Court in Brooklyn after his murder conviction was overturned in 2015.Credit...Anthony Lanzilote for The New York Times

    Twenty years ago, Derrick Hamilton was at his lowest point: locked in solitary confinement for a murder he insisted he did not commit. Over the next two decades, he slowly crawled his way out of the belly of the beast. 
    He became a jailhouse lawyer, helping his fellow inmates appeal their convictions. Twenty-three years later, he finally persuaded prosecutors to throw out his own conviction, after an eyewitness recanted her testimony. Once free, he became an activist, toiling to get others he believed were wrongfully convicted out of jail.
    Late last week, Mr. Hamilton, 54, took on a new role in the long drama of his fight against injustice: a successful plaintiff. City officials in New York and New Haven, Conn., agreed on Friday to pay him a total of $7 million to settle a lawsuit he had filed against three police officers, accusing them of fabricating evidence against him.
    One of those officers, Louis Scarcella, a retired New York detective, has emerged in recent years as symbol of wrongful convictions, as numerous cases he handled have fallen apart. Under the terms of the agreement, reached on the eve of what would have been a trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, Mr. Scarcella admitted no wrongdoing. He had been scheduled, like Mr. Hamilton himself, to testify at the trial.

    For Mr. Hamilton, the payout, while substantial, was not the point. "It'll help my family out financially," he said. "It doesn't settle what I went through."
    Mr. Hamilton added: "Everyone's life went on for 20 years. Mine stopped."
    In 1991, when he was 28 and living in New Haven, Mr. Hamilton was arrested by Mr. Scarcella and the local police, accused of having murdered a Brooklyn man, Nathaniel Cash, whom he had known when he lived in the borough. 
    The only eyewitness against him at his trial in State Supreme Court was Mr. Cash's girlfriend, Jewel Smith, who had given conflicting accounts to the police about Mr. Hamilton's role in the killing.
    Still, the jury convicted him, and Mr. Hamilton was sent away in 1992 to what soon became a series of upstate prisons. 
    He spent much of the next 23 years performing jailhouse legal work. He pored over trial transcripts, filing motions on behalf of other inmates and occasionally winning their appeals. At one point — in Attica Correctional Facility — he filed papers challenging his long stint in solitary confinement, claiming it was "cruel and unusual punishment."

    In 2007, Ms. Smith went to the authorities and asserted that Mr. Hamilton was innocent. Mr. Scarcella, she said, had coerced her into testifying against him. Eight years later, the Conviction Review Unit of the Brooklyn district attorney's office asked a judge to toss out Mr. Hamilton's guilty verdict. Prosecutors noted that Ms. Smith had been "unreliable, untruthful and incredible in her testimony."
    By that point, the district attorney's office was two years into an expansive investigation of dozens of Mr. Scarcella's former murder cases, looking into allegations that he had coerced other witnesses and had threatened people to get them to confess. That investigation, which is ongoing, has led to the release of 14 inmates and has resulted in the city and state paying tens of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits against Mr. Scarcella.

    The district attorney's office has, however, maintained that Mr. Scarcella has not committed any punishable conduct or broken the law.
    Since becoming a free man, Mr. Hamilton has labored to overturn many convictions linked to Mr. Scarcella. Mr. Hamilton has worked with lawyers as a paralegal to investigate facts and has helped draft lawsuits and motions in support of new trials.
    A few years ago, he founded a support group called Friends and Family of the Wrongfully Convicted with another former inmate, Sundhe Moses, who was also arrested by Mr. Scarcella and was ultimately freed. 
    The group met for a while at the Brownstone Bar & Restaurant on Tillary Street in Downtown Brooklyn, which Mr. Hamilton operated with Shabaka Shakur, a third man arrested by Mr. Scarcella and later exonerated. (The bar eventually closed down.)

    The three former prisoners would sometimes appear at hearingswhere Mr. Scarcella was on the stand defending his work. They wore hats that said "Wrongfully Convicted."
    More recently, Mr. Hamilton has partnered with the Innocence Project in an effort to persuade the New York Police Department to change the way in which its officers conduct interrogations. He has also undertaken a project to organize former prison inmates to work together as a voting bloc for criminal justice reform.
    On Tuesday, he was in court when a Brooklyn judge was scheduled to throw out the conviction of Eliseo Deleon in what will be the 15th exoneration linked to Mr. Scarcella's detective work. Mr. Deleon spent 25 years in prison for a 1996 murder committed during a botched robbery in Clinton Hill. He has long maintained that Mr. Scarcella fabricated his confession.
    "I know what it's like to come home and have nothing — that's why I'm going," Mr. Hamilton said. "The guy who's coming home, he needs to know he's got a friend."



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    6) Why I Quit My Job Carrying Out Trump’s Immigration Policies
    A former asylum officer says “remain in Mexico” and other policies undermining asylum aren’t just racist, they’re illegal.
    By Doug Stephens, November 20, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/20/opinion/trump-asylum-remain-mexico-policy.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
    A former asylum officer says “remain in Mexico” and other policies undermining asylum aren’t just racist, they’re illegal. Video by Leah Varjacques and 
    In the Video Op-Ed above, a former asylum officer reveals why he resigned: to protest President Trump’s policy requiring migrants to remain in Mexico while awaiting hearings. 
    Doug Stephens had been an asylum officer for two years. But two days and five interviews that resulted in sending asylum seekers back to danger shook him. He drafted a memo detailing his legal objections to the policy, and circulated it to 80 of his colleagues, his supervisors and a member of Congress. And then he quit.
    Mr. Stephens is not the only asylum officer who has grappled with following orders. In interviews with a half-dozen current and former asylum officers across the country, The Times learned of individuals leaving their posts, requesting job transfers and falling into deep depression. 

    The right to asylum has been a cornerstone of international immigration law since the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The United States, along with 144 other nations, made a commitment to protect those who arrive at our borders with “a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

    To date, Mr. Trump’s remain in Mexico policy, officially known as one of the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” has left nearly 58,000asylum seekers stranded in Mexico. 
    Doug Stephens, a lawyer, resigned his post as a Citizenship and Immigrations Services asylum officer in San Francisco in August.


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    7) The Latest Failure in the War on Drugs
    People who provide the drugs that lead to overdoses often need help, not prison.
    By Brandon D.L. Marshall and Abdullah Shihipar, November 19, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/19/opinion/drug-induced-homicide-overdose.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    Credit...PG/Bauer-Griffin, via Getty Images

    In September 2018, the rapper Mac Miller died of a drug overdose — a toxic combination of fentanyl, cocaine and alcohol. Three men were charged with distributing the drugs that allegedly led to his death. In July, Tyler Skaggs, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels, died from asphyxia. Fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol were found in his system, and federal authorities are working to determine who provided the drugs that killed him.
    Mac Miller (whose real name was Malcolm James McCormick) and Mr. Skaggs are among the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have lost their lives to drug overdoses. One way the authorities have responded to this crisis is by promoting the use of naloxone — a medication used to revive people who have overdosed on opioids  — and expanding access to medications for opioid use disorder. 
    But despite the recognition of drug use as a public health issue, some states have also introduced “drug-induced homicide” laws that put the responsibility of an overdose at the feet of the drug suppliers. In Rhode Island, for example, under “Kristen’s Law” aperson who supplies drugs to someone who overdoses can be punished with a life sentence.
    These laws have been enacted in at least 25 states, while a few more are considering adopting them. They represent a return to the outdated “war on drugs” approach, which decades of researchhas shown to be unsuccessful. It instead increases risks for those who use drugs, particularly minority populations and people of color.

    Some may see no problem with these laws. Partly because of rhetoric from the Trump administration, people tend to think that the drug supply is controlled by shady cartel figures and ruthless dealers who are stationed on American street corners.
    The reality is far more complex. People who supply drugs are often friends or family members of those who overdose and often use drugs themselves. In a national survey, more than two in five people who reported having sold drugs also said they meet the criteria for a substance use disorder. Another analysis of drug-induced homicide news stories, conducted by the Health in Justice Action Lab at Northeastern University, found that 50 percent of people who were charged under drug-induced homicide laws were either friends, caretakers, partners or family members. Drug transactions are not as simple as buyer and seller.
    All of this nuance is not captured in existing legislation. In Rhode Island, if someone were to give drugs to a friend in exchange for food or a place to stay for the night, that person could be charged if their friend fatally overdosed. The law criminalizes the exchange of anything of value for drugs, regardless of whether someone is a full-time dealer or merely passing drugs on. In other states, multiple people have been charged in the deaths of people they merely shared drugs with.
    Proponents say that because these laws have good Samaritan provisions — which protect from criminal consequence those who seek emergency medical assistance at the scene of a suspected drug overdose — they will not discourage people from calling 911 to report an overdose. However, while studies have shown that knowledge of good Samaritan protections is associated with a willingness to call 911 in the event of an overdose, people are still afraid to call because of fear they will be charged. In Vermont, the state health department found in 2018 that fewer than 40 percent of people who requested a refill of naloxone reported calling 911. In the likely event that drug-induced homicide laws escalate such fears and prevent bystanders from calling 911, these laws will actually increase the rates of fatal overdose among those they are trying to protect.
    A 2018 study of drug users in Baltimore found that those who sold drugs were 69 percent more likely to have witnessed an overdose in the past six months. Given that those who sell drugs are more likely to witness — and therefore be in a position to intervene — in the event of an overdose, these laws might be especially damaging and counterproductive. Adding a good Samaritan provision to a bill that is aimed to criminalize is hardly reassuring.

    What’s more, putting drug users in jail will only worsen the overdose crisis. People who have recently been released from prison are at much greater risk of overdosing than the public — up to 40 times greater in some cases. Most jails and prisons across the country do not have medications to treat opioid addiction, which means that when people are released they are especially vulnerable to fatal overdoses.
    The war on drugs has hit communities of color the hardest, with Black and Latinx people much more likely to be arrested for simple possession and to receive harsher sentences than whites, despite rates of drug use being similar across all communities. Even with promises from the authorities to pursue a public health approach, racial disparities in drug-related arrests persist. A study conducted in Washington State found that among people who had received treatment for substance abuse disorder, black clients were more likely to have been arrested on substance-related charges compared to white clients. The rate of Fentanyl-related overdose deaths has risen most sharply for black and Latinx people, so we can only expect that drug-induced homicide legislation will disproportionately and negatively affect them.
    There has been progress: The Massachusetts Supreme Court recently struck down a drug-induced homicide conviction. The court argued that the prosecution did not provide sufficient evidence that Jesse Carrillo knew that the heroin he gave to a fellow student, Eric Sinacori, would cause a deadly overdose. Similar arguments can be made for other cases. Fentanyl has so contaminated the drug supply that it is hard to determine how much control individual sellers have on quality and content. Promoting the use of tools like fentanyl test strips, which can allow people to check their drugs before selling or using drugs, should be promoted. Indeed, when we recently collaborated with other researchers on a study of Rhode Islanders at risk of fentanyl overdose, we found that those with a history of drug dealing were among the most likely to use fentanyl test strips.
    Punitive measures threaten the progress we have made on the overdose crisis. They push people into the shadows, increase overdose risk and contribute to racial disparities. If the authorities are serious about treating drug use as a public health issue, then they have to let go of this longstanding fixation on punishment.
    Brandon D.L. Marshall is an associate professor of epidemiology at the Brown University School of Public Health, where Abdullah Shihipar is a master’s degree candidate.


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    8) ‘Our Patience Is Over’: Why Iraqis Are Protesting
    Sadr City residents have come in droves to Baghdad’s protests, driven by anger at the Iraq government’s neglect and fueled by their long history of defiance.
    By Alissa J. Rubin, November 201, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/20/world/middleeast/iraq-protests-sadr-cit.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage

    Credit...Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

    SADR CITY, Iraq — In the morning, the squarely built father of four wore flowing tribal robes to receive visitors in his garden, but by early afternoon he was in jeans, traveling light, his cellphone in one hand and his to-do list in his head.
    He had a half dozen stops before he reached Tahrir Square in Baghdad, ground zero for the demonstrations now shaking Iraq.

    The man, Bassim al-Kaabi, 41, is one of scores of people organizing the protests from Sadr City, a vast, impoverished neighborhood of Baghdad with a history of defying the government.

    “Let us be frank, we are poor people in Sadr City and we need many things: schools, health clinics, jobs,” said Mr. al-Kaabi, who drives a taxi to support his family.

    “What is a pity is that we believed the politicians who said, ‘vote for us and we will do our best for you,’” he said. “But then we found they were liars and so now we are saying, ‘enough.’”
    For the last five weeks, more than 200,000 Iraqis across the country have gathered on any given day to demonstrate against the government. Security forces have killed at least 320 and wounded about 15,000, according to the United Nations office in Iraq. 
    The protesters are angry about corruption, unemployment and Iran’s influence. Many are educated, idealistic young people, who are mostly urban and secular. But the largest group are working-class and poor Shiite Muslims, either from the southern part of the country or with origins there. 
    These Iraqis have suffered decades of economic deprivation as well as government oppression by the Sunni Muslims, who controlled the government during the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. And they have a history of violent resistance.

    They feel frustrated that having endured Saddam Hussein’s reign, the civil war that followed his overthrow and then the invasion of the Islamic State, their lives have seen little improvement. 
    Most of Sadr City’s residents are descended from people who migrated from Iraq’s south, and retain rural and tribal ties there. So the neighborhood offers a window into the passions driving the current protests and its roots in southern Iraq’s tradition of defiance.

    With more than three million inhabitants, Sadr City is crowded and littered. Its larger boulevards give way to smaller unpaved streets and cracked asphalt alleys. 
    Public baths are a feature of life, a place for male bonding and a rare source of plentiful hot water. As in much of Baghdad, electricity is rarely on for more than half the day, but hardly any family can afford its own generator, so vast spider webs of wire spin out from ones shared by a neighborhood. 
    The heat in the summer means life is lived on the street, and in makeshift gardens and empty lots. People sleep on the roofs to escape the indoor swelter. 
    Despite the deprivation, Sadr City is a place of intense energy that has produced some of Iraq’s best musicians and poets, as well as painters and sculptors.

    “Sadr City was always like a quarry filled with clay and when you dig deep, you find jewels,” said Wagih Abbas, a poet and well-known Iraqi writer, who grew up in Sadr City. 
    Mr. al-Kaabi, known as Abu Tiba to his family and fellow protest organizers, lives with his wife and children in a small house his father built. On his street is a median strip. Like his neighbors, he has transformed the part outside his house into a small garden.

    Abu Tiba’s father tends it and has made the tight space into a haven of flowers and fruit trees — a reminder of the southern Iraqi gardens of his childhood. There are brilliant orange-pink lantanas, red desert roses, flowering jasmine and an apple and a fig tree. 
    His neighbor has turned a similar garden into an outdoor reception room, scattering it with carpets to receive friends and relatives. In one corner are two large birdhouses with singing canaries that taunt the chickens wandering in the grass. It is possible to sit here and forget the surrounding noise and ugliness.
    Earlier this month, Abu Tiba’s day started in earnest when he tore himself away from his garden and set out to prepare for the demonstrations. 
    Like many in Sadr City, he still has family in the south. His cousin was executed by Saddam Hussein, and he has endured the humiliation of a corrupt system — paying for a government job only to be denied the position.

    “The nature of Sadr City is tribal and the ethic of the tribe is that if something happens to one person, then everyone starts to help in their own way,” he said, explaining why it has been so easy to rally his neighborhood. 
    He stopped first on a street corner where a friend who runs a catering business was supervising young men stirring six caldrons bubbling with lentil and soybean soup — enough to serve 500 protesters.
    Next was a quick visit to one of Sadr City’s oldest markets, where butchers and fishmongers, greengrocers and cloth sellers work cheek by jowl. 
    One butcher closed early to make sandwiches for protesters’ dinners. Nearby a fruit seller plucked Abu Tiba’s sleeve and showed him a large burlap blanket heaped on the floor, then whipped it away like a magician to reveal 100 watermelons he had readied to take to Tahrir Square. 
    At a cloth store, the deaf son of the owner had been collecting money from other stalls. He signed to Abu Tiba that he now had $140 and would be making sandwiches for the demonstrators; could someone take them to Tahrir Square? Yes, someone could, Abu Tiba nodded.
    It is easy to find transport to the demonstrations; in Sadr City, ancient taxis spew fumes next to horse-drawn wagons and thousands of tuk-tuks. Rarely seen in more affluent Baghdad neighborhoods, the three-wheeled, motorized tuk-tuk has become the demonstrators’ unofficial bus and ambulance service. 
    “This is a revolution of the poor, of the disappointed,” Abu Tiba said.
    The first settlers in Sadr City, mostly poor farmers and fishermen, came more than 60 years ago to escape the punishing feudal system run by wealthy sheikhs who cared little for those who worked their fields and harvested their date trees.

    Revolt and resistance was part of their identity. Their grandfathers in the south resisted British efforts to colonize Iraq in 1920. They lost that battle but not their suspiciousness of outsiders. 
    Most Sadr City residents, like many people in southern Iraq, are followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, a nationalist and populist Shiite cleric and leader whose family long resisted the authority of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party.
    The dictator assassinated Mr. al-Sadr’s father and brothers, and tortured to death other family members. Those loyal to the Sadr family suffered as well. 
    There was forced conscription during the Iran-Iraq war, from 1980 to 1988. “Almost every family was touched by this,” said Mr. Abbas, the Sadr City poet. 
    There was routine targeting of anyone trying to pray in public, which Saddam Hussein saw as an effort to rally the Shiites against the ruling Sunnis, said Sheikh Jalil al-Sarkhi, 70, a cleric and Sadr City native, who leads a modest mosque there.
    “I could be arrested just for carrying a prayer rug,” he said. 
    Those decades of resistance prepared Sadr City for its fight against the Americans.

    Mr. al-Sadr wanted the United States military out of Iraq. When the Americans came and tried to subdue his militias, United States soldiers were relentlessly attacked. 
    Roadside bombs targeted Humvees, and booby traps littered the neighborhood. Children were used as lookouts.
    Sadr City today remains armed and ready to defend its own. 
    The Sadr Organization, of which Abu Tiba is a member, and which has ties to Mr. al-Sadr’s militia, is helping to coordinate the protests from the neighborhood. Its members are thick on the ground at the protests, controlling strategic positions.

    In midafternoon, Abu Tiba met with leaders of his sub-tribe, the Al Bunda. There were about 20 men in tribal robes and their sons and a few daughters, dressed neatly as if for the first day of school; they climbed into minibuses, taxis, a pickup truck and a jeep. 
    As they drove off, all of Sadr City seemed to be coming along with them. At a traffic circle, a father and daughter clambered into the pickup. Everyone was waving flags and honking horns. 
    Abu Tiba’s group parked more than a mile from the protests and unfurled its tribal flag.

    Out of nowhere some of the men produced instruments — a large drum and the traditional southern reed flute. The group half walked, half danced the final mile, chanting, “Shala kala, kulhom haramiya” or “Pull them out by the roots, all of them are thieves.”
    A woman who had brought her five children — all wearing tribal flags — said she had come from Sadr City to support “our brothers.” 
    “Really I want change,” said Najla Latif, 42. “Our patience is over now, we waited 16 years after Saddam and we still have nothing.”
    Falih Hassan contributed reporting from Baghdad.


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    9) SAVE RODNEY REED, STOP YET ANOTHER LEGAL LYNCHING (2019)
    By Kevin "Rashid" Johnson
    Write to Kevin “Rashid” Johnson:
    Kevin Johnson #264847
    G-20-2C Pendleton Correctional Facility
    4490 W. Reformatory Rd.
    Pendleton, IN 46064-9001
    www.rashidmod.com
    Rodney Reed, another innocent Black man, is set to die at the hands of an uncaring criminal (in)justice system.
    It's not a system that doesn't care because of being broken, but one that doesn't care about the truth and never did.
    It's only in exceptional cases that generate broad public scrutiny that the system begins to care...but not about the truth and justice. In those situations it begins to care only about its image and only because its legitimacy is then brought into question. But even then often still goes about its usual business of destroying innocent lives, innocent Black life especially, as in the case of Troy Davis.
    But we must fight nonetheless to expose the injustices against and save the life of Rodney Reed.
    Rodney was blatantly railroaded, convicted and sentenced to die for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites a 19 year old white woman, before an all white jury in a small Texas town. A scenario all too reminiscent of the open days of Southern lynching terror.
    Since his conviction facts demonstrating his innocence have been brought out, demolishing the state's case, which the system has worked tirelessly to prevent being scrutinized. 
    All the experts recanted their prior testimony, several highly regarded forensic pathologists agree that the prosecutor's theory is impossible, the timeline is wrong, DNA evidence has gone untested and the state has blocked this testing knowing it could instantly demonstrate his innocense.
    Worse still, Stacey Stites' fiancee Jimmy Ferrell, was the original suspect and failed 2 polygraph tests when asked if he'd killed her. But Ferrell who was white and a cop himself was cleared. It's not complicated math-again, a typical lynching scenario. In fact Ferrell was later convicted of raping a woman while she was in police custody.
    Rodney Reed 's life is now hanging in the balance in a system that was built on destroying innocent lives. We must fight to save his.
    Dare to Struggle Dare to Win!
    All Power to the People!

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    Working people are helping to feed the poor hungry corporations! 
    Charity for the Wealthy!





























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