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Saturday, 31 August 2013

The impact of the 1971 Attica prison rebellion on today's Prison Movement

Join us tonight on BAF Radio as we host a panel discussion on the impact of the 1971 Attica prison rebellion on today's Prison Movement.

The Attica Prison rebellions (Preview)  took place at the Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York in 1971. The rebellions were in response to inhumane treatment of the prisoners and horrid living conditions. The Attica rebellions were sparked by the killing of black activist George Jackson who was an inmate at San Quentin prison in California on August 21, 1971. It is estimated that about half of Attica prison's population of 2,200 inmates rebelled and seized control of the prison.  Forty-two prison staff members were held by prisoners and four days of negotiations ensued. Authorities would agree to 28 of the prisoners' demands but would not agree to demands for complete amnesty from criminal prosecution for the prison takeover or for the removal of Attica's superintendent. When the uprising was over, at least 39 people were dead.
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Nancy Day via Change.org: "I Regret Our Verdict."

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By Jueseppi B.
Tyra Patterson was 15 years old when she was handed a life sentence for robbery and murder. I know this because I was on the jury that convicted her. But I just found out about evidence that wasn’t presented at the trial -- and I believe it proves that Tyra is innocent.
I recently heard a recording of the 911 call that was placed the night of the crime and was shocked to discover that it was Tyra who called to help the victim.

Who am I?

 picture from google

I am neither here nor there, up or down left or right near or far...
No distinction or description can fit or suffice. In all descriptions are limitations.
Within the field of the mind is the known. The known is limited to memory.
Essence on the other hand is beyond mind, beyond anything coming from the mind, meaning any language/words or expressions, which is only a product of this limited and finite mind.

Friday, 30 August 2013

K Koke - My Time ft. Bridget Kelly

Pre-Order 'My Time' now - http://smarturl.it/MyTime
'My Time' will be released on 14th July 2013

Connect with Koke

Music video by K Koke feat. Bridget Kelly performing My Time. (C) 2013 Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Don’t just follow in the footsteps

“Don’t just follow in the footsteps of those who came before you but be courageous enough and brave enough to leave your own footprints behind to be remembered by as you help shape the course of history because to make a real change and difference in this world means having the courage to stand apart from everyone else and standing up for what you believe in even if others aren’t right there beside you. For those who have made the greatest changes in history are the ones who were spirited enough to go against the norm, to overcome challenges, to exceed limitations, and to break down barriers because they dared to rebel rather then follow everyone else’s lead and set their own course and path to make the changes they saw needed to be made. Change cannot be made unless one is ready and willing to break the rules of society and have the strength to stand up and speak out by challenging those who say something can’t be done or that it’s supposed to be done this way or that and showing and proving there’s always another way to not only improve the how things are done but also a way to achieve the impossible and make it happen. Learn from yesterday, change today, and build a better tomorrow.”

Jenna Kandyce Linch

Copyright © Jenna Kandyce Linch


We need to connect the dots

Michelle Alexander is renown as author of the book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Era of Colorblindness and has also lent her name and time to many struggles against the criminal justice system since her book reached best-seller status. In a post on Facebook on August 28, 50 years to the day since the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, she wrote about recognizing how the fight against the New Jim Crow is connected to the many other struggles for justice in society.
Michelle Alexander (Miller Center) 
Michelle Alexander (Miller Center)
FOR THE past several years, I have spent virtually all my working hours writing about or speaking about the immorality, cruelty, racism and insanity of our nation's latest caste system: mass incarceration. On this Facebook page, I have written and posted about little else.
But as I pause today to reflect on the meaning and significance of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I realize that my focus has been too narrow. Five years after the March, Dr. King was speaking out against the Vietnam War, condemning America's militarism and imperialism--famously stating that our nation was the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world."
He saw the connections between the wars we wage abroad, and the utter indifference we have for poor people, and people of color at home. He saw the necessity of openly critiquing an economic system that will fund war and will reward greed, hand over fist, but will not pay workers a living wage. Five years after the March on Washington, Dr. King was ignoring all those who told him to just stay in his lane, just stick to talking about civil rights. Yet here I am, decades later, staying in my lane.
I have not been speaking publicly about the relationship between drones abroad and the War on Drugs at home. I have not been talking about the connections between the corrupt capitalism that bails out Wall Street bankers, moves jobs overseas, and forecloses on homes with zeal, all while private prisons yield high returns and expand operations into a new market: caging immigrants. I have not been connecting the dots between the NSA spying on millions of Americans, the labeling of mosques as "terrorist organizations," and the spy programs of the 1960s and 70s--specifically the FBI and COINTELPRO programs that placed civil rights advocates under constant surveillance, infiltrated civil rights organizations and assassinated racial justice leaders.
I have been staying in my lane. But no more. In my view, the most important lesson we can learn from Dr. King is not what he said at the March on Washington, but what he said and did after. In the years that followed, he did not play politics to see what crumbs a fundamentally corrupt system might toss to the beggars of justice. Instead, he connected the dots and committed himself to building a movement that would shake the foundations of our economic and social order, so that the dream he preached in 1963 might one day be a reality for all. He said that nothing less than "a radical restructuring of society" could possibly ensure justice and dignity for all. He was right.
I am still committed to building a movement to end mass incarceration, but I will not do it with blinders on. If all we do is end mass incarceration, this movement will not have gone nearly far enough. A new system of racial and social control will be born again, all because we did not do what King demanded we do: connect the dots between poverty, racism, militarism and materialism. I'm getting out of my lane. I hope you're already out of yours.
First published at Facebook.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Lapdogs of the national security state

The mainstream media aren't just ignoring the erosion of our rights and civil liberties. They're leading the chorus of voices justifying government repression.
From left: Savannah Guthrie and David Gregory on the NBC News set with Brian Williams (Phil Davis) 
From left: Savannah Guthrie and David Gregory on the NBC News set with Brian Williams (Phil Davis)
FOR THE biggest names of the American mainstream media, being a mouthpiece to those in power is more important than asking even the most basic questions about the erosion of our rights and civil liberties.
That's the attitude on display from much of the U.S. media toward revelations of the crimes of the U.S. war machine and national security state--and the government's war on whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning (formerly named Bradley) who leaked the information that exposed those crimes.
Numerous figures from so-called respectable journalism have lined up to heap abuse on not only Snowden and Manning, but the newspapers and websites that published their leaks--often enough with more spite than the Pentagon brass and the spies.
All this has been an object lesson about the "world's greatest democracy." Revelations of the atrocities committed in the "war on terror" in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond--and the vast surveillance programs of the National Security Agency carried out in the name of "keeping Americans safe"--have proved once again, as Martin Luther King Jr. declared almost half a century ago, that the greatest purveyor of violence and repression in the world is the U.S. government.
And we also have fresh evidence of another fact about the Washington establishment--that the media which piously claim to scrutinize the actions of government and hold politicians to account are anything but watchdogs.
More like lapdogs.
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SINCE EARLIER this year, when NSA leaker Edward Snowden went public with information about government surveillance, aided by journalist Glenn Greenwald and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, nearly every week has brought a new disclosure about the war on our rights and freedoms--from the scope of government spying to the cooperation of telecommunications and Internet companies in the electronic eavesdropping.
These exposés have caused some outrage in the U.S., but the response is unquestionably more muted compared to similar scandals in countries like Britain and Germany. One big reason why is that the mainstream media have typically saved their criticisms not for the Obama administration, but for whistleblowers like Snowden.
The former NSA contract employee has said from the start that he believes the public should know about the vast scope of government spying programs--yet newspapers and cable TV news have been filled with slanderous speculation about his political motives, his treatment of his longtime partner when he was forced to flee the U.S. rather than go to jail, and much more.
In other words: Shoot the messenger.
The "official" response of political leaders in Washington has been muted, too. It's been left to a handful of liberal Democrats in Congress, including Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, to demand answers from the Obama White House--joined in some cases by Republicans who are at least as interested in finding an issue to use against Democrats as anything else.
The murmurs of official dissent could become louder when Congress comes back into session. But in the meantime, leaders of the two parties in Congress are united in support of government spying. According to Republican House Speaker John Boehner, Snowden is a "traitor" who has put American lives at risk. Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, says she has "concerns" about NSA spying, but was still part of the 217-205 majority that voted against an amendment put forward in July by Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) to curb government surveillance.
But the politicians' pronouncements have, in many cases, been tamer than those of leading journalists.
In mid-August, for example, Time magazine senior national correspondent Michael Grunwald tweeted, "I can't wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out [WikiLeaks founder] Julian Assange."
Grunwald deleted the tweet, but not before saying he was only sorry about the statement because it "gives Assange supporters a nice safe persecution complex to hide in."
Thus, in 280 characters or less, the eminently "respectable" journalist Grunwald not only welcomed the extrajudicial assassination of someone who helped expose U.S. war crimes, but showed how much he and his ilk are subservient to government interests.
Grunwald may have been the most openly repugnant, but he's just the tip of an establishment journalism iceberg that actively cheers for Assange's arrest (as the Christian Science Monitor did last year), smears Edward Snowden for fleeing the U.S. (Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer), and complains that columnist Glenn Greenwald is complicit in crimes for reporting Snowden's leaks (Meet the Press host David Gregory). They even have the gall to claim journalistic "impartiality," even "integrity."
To the Grunwalds and Gregories, true journalists like Glenn Greenwald--who refuse to hesitate in questioning those in power and, in fact, see this as a fundamental part of their job--are an affront.
Supposedly, Greenwald is suspect because he dares to express an opinion. But, of course, the "journalists against journalism," as Salon.com's David Sirota has called the Gregory brigade, express opinions, too--ones that dovetail neatly with the prevailing wisdom in Washington and are therefore accepted as part of the (non-threatening) status quo.
These same fixtures of the establishment media who are so anxious to exclude Glenn Greenwald from "real journalism" are the same ones attacking Chelsea Manning by ascribing her desire to see the crimes of the U.S. empire exposed to a supposed "mental illness" resulting from her gender identity.
Manning has done far more--and at enormous personal cost--to expose the crimes of empire than these "journalists against journalism" ever will. But adding insult to injury, some mainstream media outlets are now refusing to use the correct name or female pronouns to refer to Manning. Worse, on CNN, guest Richard Herman "joked" that Chelsea Manning would get "good practice" being a woman in prison. And the bottom-feeding Fox & Friends used the song "Dude Looks Like a Lady" to intro a piece about Manning.
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ACCORDING TO the likes of CNN contributor Jeffrey Toobin, the British government's illegal detention of Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda for nine hours at Heathrow airport under an anti-terrorism law was perfectly justified--even though the detention was a blatant attempt to confiscate information being carried between two journalists.
When Toobin was asked by CNN's Anderson Cooper if he thought Miranda's detention was justified, he replied, "I sure do," adding that Miranda was "a mule. He was given something--he didn't know what it was--for one person to pass to another at the other end of an airport. Our prisons are full of drug mules."
As Poitras wrote in Der Spiegel in an article about Miranda's detention, "Revealing the secret partnerships between spy agencies and telecoms entrusted with the private communications of citizens is journalism, not terrorism."
That such a sentence even needs to be written shows how imperiled freedom of the press has become--sometimes at the hands of those claiming to be the press.
But an even more extreme example is the call for "More surveillance, please," as the headline of a Wall Street Journal column by Gordon Crovitz put it. Arguing that the NSA is "doing its best" to protect Americans' privacy, Crovitz, the paper's former publisher, wrote, "In the fantasy world of the Mannings and Snowdens, the U.S. is waging unnecessary surveillance of terrorists while willy-nilly eavesdropping on Americans. In the real world, the biggest risk is that rules to protect privacy could discourage the intelligence agencies from being aggressive enough to stop the next 9/11."
So our basic rights--to privacy, to not be spied on by our own government--need to be sacrificed to stop "terrorism," according to Crovitz--and the public shouldn't even have the right to know.
This comes as the Obama administration has itself escalated attacks on journalists--for example, declaring Fox News' James Rosen a "co-conspirator" in the case of State Department contractor Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who was accused of leaking information about North Korea. In another instance, the Justice Department tapped the phones of the Associated Press in an attempt to track down the source of a story--an outrageous attack on press freedom.
Some commentators have argued that the vitriol directed against journalists like Greenwald represent a tension between the "old" and "new" media: reporters from traditional journalistic entities like daily newspapers who are supposedly required to check their politics at the door versus a new breed of activist reporter/bloggers who use their platforms on the Internet to not just report the news, but become a part of making it.
But the alleged impartiality of "old" journalism was always a myth--something unintentionally underlined by Fox News' laughable slogan "Fair and Balanced." For journalists who rise to the top ranks of the Washington media, the pressure--from their publishers and editors as much as from the elite they cover--is to be a stenographer to those in power.
We at SocialistWorker.org are proud to be on the other side from these lapdogs, alongside Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald. We're proud to take a stand--and contemptuous of a mainstream media that feigns outrage at a scantily clad Miley Cyrus performing at the MTV Video Music Awards, while all but ignoring the erosion of fundamental rights and freedoms.


While they protested, he served

Leela Yellesetty reviews the new film The Butler, which tells the story of a Black White House butler, with the struggle for racial equality over the 20th century as the backdrop.
Forest Whitaker stars in Lee Daniels' The Butler 
Forest Whitaker stars in Lee Daniels' The Butler
Warning: This review contains plot spoilers.
LEE DANIELS' The Butler opened last weekend at number one at the box office. It's simultaneously the story of one man and of an entire generation that lived through the momentous changes of the civil rights era. Achieving this balance is difficult, and at times the film falls flat, but overall, it's a gripping story, and one that will hopefully inspire new generations to learn more about this crucial history than one movie could possibly offer.
The Butler was inspired by the life of Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served through eight presidential administrations, though most of the personal history is fictional. In the film, Cecil Gaines, played brilliantly by Forest Whitaker, grew up on a cotton plantation in 1920s Georgia. Viewers are almost immediately faced with the brutality of the Jim Crow South when a young Cecil's mother is raped and his father murdered by the plantation owner.
This sets the backdrop for Cecil's entrance into domestic service, where he learns the art of being "two-faced"--presenting a carefully constructed mask in front of his white employers--such that "the room should feel empty when you're in it."
Cecil's character thus offers an interesting perspective on 20th century race relations, from the point of view of those who shared a much more intimate, though fundamentally subservient, relationship with whites--and in this case the most powerful white men in the nation.
As a fictional Martin Luther King Jr. remarks at one point in the film, "The Black domestic played an important role in our history." Reflecting on how their hard work and quiet dignity undermined the dominant stereotypes of Black people, King reflects, "In many ways, they are subversive without even knowing it."
Review: Movies
The Butler , directed by Lee Daniels, starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey and David Banner.
Cecil's character also stands in as an archetype for an older generation attempting to come to grips with the birth of the civil rights movement. His son Louis, on the other hand, is a living embodiment of the entire trajectory of the movement, appearing Zelig-like everywhere from the lunch counter sit-ins to the freedom rides, to the Black Panther Party to the anti-apartheid movement, to running for Congress.
This convenient pairing of historical and personal narratives--including having a younger son die in the Vietnam War for good measure--feels far too contrived. Nonetheless, the actors manage to wrest some compelling human drama from the larger-than-life events against which their lives unfold.
Oprah Winfrey gives a stunning performance as Cecil's wife, who, owing to her husband's success, is elevated to the role of housewife, yet struggles with loneliness and alcoholism as a result.
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THE CENTRAL tension in the film is between Cecil and his son. Viewers can sympathize both with Louis' growing frustration with his father's passive acceptance of injustice as well as Cecil's incomprehension that his son would reject the better life he worked so hard to provide for him and instead risk his life for a cause that was seemingly unwinnable. When Louis tells his father that something special is going on in the South, Cecil responds, "What's so special about another colored man in jail?"
The depictions of the early student movement are the most powerful historical aspects of the film. When we are so often offered a sanitized version of the civil rights struggle, Daniels succeeds admirably in capturing the harrowing viciousness of the Southern racists and the unbelievable courage and determination required of the student activists in response.
Less compelling are the later portrayals of the Black Panther Party activists who come across as somewhat of a joke with their funny hair and thirst for vengeance. Overall, the ambitious scope of the timeline makes it difficult to delve into dynamic evolution of the Black freedom movement in more than a cursory manner.
From the vantage point of White House butler, the film does offer the opportunity to register each successive president's reactions--both personal and public--to the growing struggle. Although the impressive array of actors strive admirably to capture these presidential personas, too often, the depictions are played mainly for laughs--such as Liev Schreiber's Lyndon B. Johnson barking out profanity-laced orders while seated on the toilet.
Nonetheless, it's clear that rather than leading the calls for change, the presidents are mainly in the position of reacting to the movement from below. While he's initially reluctant to intervene, John Kennedy is given far too much credit for having a personal change of heart.
What could have been a useful opportunity to explore the administration's attempt to contain and co-opt the civil rights movement--for instance, Robert Kennedy's intervention to try and divert the student movement from civil disobedience into voter registration drives--instead devolves into an ahistorical sentimentality.
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IT'S UNDER Ronald Reagan that Cecil finally fully grasps the hypocrisy of the presidents he works for and the significance of his son's activism. Reagan was a master of doling out the symbolic gesture to cover up the systemic attack. We see him for instance on a secret mission to send out money to people who write him for help, while on a policy level working to dismantle the welfare state.
He's the president who finally grants Cecil and his fellow Black workers equal pay and invites Cecil to a White House dinner in recognition of his advocacy. It's at this dinner that Cecil comes to terms with the hollowness of this gesture, and the immensity of the struggle that made even that possible.
The end of the film skips ahead to a much older Cecil and his son campaigning for Barack Obama. This is arguably the most problematic part of the film. Cecil's euphoria at the election of the country's first Black president, shared by millions of African Americans, is certainly understandable and poignant. However, in a movie coming out while Obama is still in office, it smacks too much of propaganda.
Most troubling is the implication, or at least the lack of evidence to the contrary, that racism is now a thing of the past. This is likely not the intention of Daniels or the other actors in the film--surely Forest Whittaker, who experienced racial profiling himself earlier this year when he was accused of shoplifting at a New York deli, doesn't believe this to be true.
However, there's a real danger that for white audiences, who recent polls show have a much different perception of the persistence of racism than Blacks, this ending will help reinforce the myth of the so-called post-racial society.
Hopefully, that won't be the case. The past few years have seen a growing awareness of how deeply racist this country remains, and a groundswell of activism around the shooting of Trayvon Martin and many other aspects of the racist criminal injustice system.
Last weekend saw many of these activists converge for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. In that sense, the civil rights activists portrayed in the film can help serve as an inspiration to those of us who continue the struggle for justice today.

Justice for Ayyub Abdul-Alim

David Wood reports on the struggle to win justice for a Muslim man who was victimized after he refused to become an informant for the FBI.
Rallying for justice for Ayyub Abdul-Alim (David Woodsome | SW) 
Rallying for justice for Ayyub Abdul-Alim (David Woodsome | SW)
A DIFFERENT reality exists for people of color in America, for Muslims and those living in marginalized neighborhoods. No one knows this better than Ayyub Abdul-Alim.
Ayyub is a 35-year-old African American and Puerto Rican U.S.-born citizen who was raised as a Muslim. He has been held in Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow, Mass., for almost two years waiting to go to trial for alleged firearms and ammunition charges leveled against him after a random stop-and-frisk by Springfield police.
Ayyub says that he has police recordings revealing he was searched and cleared of having any weapons.
The same day Ayyub was booked, he was greeted by an FBI agent who offered him exoneration and a return to normalcy. The condition was that he agree to become an informant within his Muslim community. Ayyub refused.
What you can do
For information about the case and what you can do to help, visit the "Justice for Ayyub" Facebook page.
In a statement, Ayyub described the arrest:
In December of 2011, I was targeted and arrested on a fabricated weapons charge less than five minutes after closing my store, Natures Garden, by the Springfield Police Department in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). I have been incarcerated against my will at the Hampden House of Corrections for approximately two years pending trial--despite the fact that I have police recordings revealing I was searched and cleared of any weapons and then forcibly strip searched and probed sexually in view of the public.
Most importantly, I have been offered exoneration of the aforementioned fabricated charges, prior to being arraigned in Springfield Court, at the Springfield police station (by the FBI and Springfield police)--only if I agreed to become an informant against my will to spy on the Muslim community.
Ayyub's story sheds light on the way police terrorize Muslims and people of color across the country. Thanks to his family and friends, this reality has been gaining attention.
Camila Carpio goes to Amherst High School where Ayyub graduated. "The same people who are suppose to protect and serve are bringing the real crime to our communities," she said. "Ayyub is one in a million men set up and profiled. As a community, we're responsible to restore justice if the people who are employed to do so fail."
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TARGETING COMMUNITIES of color is nothing new for the Springfield and Massachusetts State Police. Last year, the New York Times released a disturbing story on how Green Beret counterinsurgency tactics have been rolled out in the Brightwood neighborhood of Springfield.
Still more disturbing is how the police, with the help of the Times, presented the program as strengthening neighborhoods by improving police-community relationships and cooperation--as if counterinsurgency tactics, which have caused so much bloodshed and destruction abroad, would solve anything at home.
The article praises two Massachusetts state troopers who are former Green Berets and responsible for implementing the counterinsurgency program:
[T]heir experience overseas changed their perspective, convincing them that it was futile to fight a war without gaining the trust and support of those most affected by it. So in 2009, when gang violence spiked and community leaders and the city police were eager to develop new tactics, the troopers proposed trying the counterinsurgency strategies they had been trained to use in Iraq.
The troopers talked about the communities they policed as if they were occupied nations. Their comments are an insightful look into how the police view communities of color. The Times reported:
"It was kind of an 'aha' moment," Trooper Cutone said. "Gang members and drug dealers operate very similarly to insurgents. I don't mean they're looking to overthrow the state. But the way that they blend into the passive support of the community and use that to their advantage is very similar." On a sheet of butcher paper, Trooper Cutone drafted a plan, listing goals like "Work by, with and through the local population," and "Detect, degrade, disrupt and dismantle criminal activity"--maxims similar to those drilled into him during counterinsurgency training in the Special Forces.
Ayyub's case shows what police tactics today are really about. Despite the police's facade of good will, not everyone in Springfield is accepting their lies. This is seen most starkly by those who are fighting for Ayyub.
Twenty people turned out at the Springfield courthouse at 7 a.m. on August 23 to stand in solidarity with Ayyub's at his court date. They gathered outside holding a banner demanding "Justice for Ayyub." Later they filled the courtroom for Ayyub's pre-trial conference.
Vira Cage also stood in solidarity with Ayyub. She worked tirelessly last year to win freedom for her nephew Charles Wilhite, who was also framed by the Springfield Police.
When asked about Ayyub, she said, "They plucked him out of our community and expected us to turn the other way." As the crowd of Ayyub's supporters stood up in unison concluding his first court procedure, it was clear his community was not turning the other way.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Stunning Story of The IRP6


Saturday, 31 August 201321:00 until 22:00 in EDT
By George Gilliam
Kendrick Barnes, Gary L. Walker, Demetrius K. Harper, David A. Zirpolo, Clinton A. Stewart and David A. Banks are IT professionals that, built a small company (IRP Solutions) that concentrated on developing a software application called CILC, which stands for Case Investigative Life Cycle.

This software was developed to assist law enforcement in investigating cases from beginning through the final court proceedings. The software development process had been shared with several law enforcement agencies and embraced to the point formal contract talks between IRP and the agencies had become the agenda of several meetings.

Somewhere, something went horribly wrong with what should have been a rewarding business relationship between IRP and the authorities. It started with a February 9th 2005, raid on IRP’s headquarters by FBI agents and ended up with Kendrick Barnes, Gary L. Walker, Demetrius K. Harper, David A. Zirpolo, Clinton A. Stewart and David A. Banks receiving prison sentences of 7-11 years for mail and wire fraud.

The IRP executives, supporters, and advocates for justice say the IRP6 have done nothing wrong and this is a blatant case of injustice and false imprisonment fueled by an ulterior agenda that has nothing at all to do with mail and wire fraud because no mail or wire fraud was committed.

The case has garnered national attention, and on this episode of Talk To The Nation Sam Thurman, President of A Just Cause and Cliff Stewart, brother to one of the IRP6, Clinton Stewart, joins us share the intricate details and circumstances leading up to what a lot of people, attorneys, and activist are saying is the wrongful convictions of the IRP6 in Colorado.

Attorneys for Advocacy Group, A Just Cause, Challenges U.S. Attorney’s Plans to Represent Court Reporter in Civil Lawsuit

Attorneys for A Just Cause Say U.S. Attorney's Office In Denver Cannot Represent Court Reporter Darlene Martinez in Civil Lawsuit Because She Was Acting As A Private Citizen When She Breached Contract With A Just Cause

Denver, Colorado (PRWEB) August 27, 2013
Lawyers for A Just Cause are fighting a motion filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver where the U.S. Attorney's Office is seeking to represent Court Reporter Darlene Martinez in a civil lawsuit filed by Just Cause on August 1, 2013. Lawyers for A Just Cause filed suit in District Court for the 2nd Judicial District, Denver County, Denver, Colorado against federal court reporter Darlene M. Martinez. (District Court, 2nd Judicial District, Denver County, Case 2013CV033380, Div 409, Filing ID 6EEE4CA4A567C, Doc ID 8B0EE416E3F64, Filed July 31, 2013, Accepted August 1, 2013)
The action was brought by A Just Cause for breach of contract claiming that on or about September 10, 2011, Defendant (Federal Court Reporter) Darlene Martinez entered into a contract with Plaintiff A Just Cause to provide stenography services for the entire trial proceedings of IRP Solutions/IRP6. (United States v. Banks, et al., case number 09CR266).
The lawsuit asserts that on October 27, 2011 A Just Cause paid, by cashier's check in the amount of $9450.00, directly to Darlene Martinez for a transcript of the entire proceedings of the IRP6 case, which included, but was not limited to, all bench conferences. The complaint states that Ms. Martinez failed to provide the entire trial transcript as contracted for. (2nd Judicial District, Denver, Case 2013CV033380)
"The Court Reporters Act, 28 U.S.C.A 753(b) makes it mandatory by Congress, that a court reporter shall record all proceedings verbatim in criminal cases held in open court which includes sidebars," says Attorney Gwendolyn Solomon (attorney for the six defendants). According to Solomon the statute reads, "...all original notes are required to be preserved and available in the clerk’s office. The reporter or other individual designated to produce the record shall attach his official certificate to the original shorthand notes or other original records so taken and promptly file them with the clerk who shall preserve them in the public records of the court for not less than ten years." (Court Reporters Act, 28 U.S.C.A 753(b))
Court records show that on August 22, 2013 Assistant U.S. Attorney (Denver) Michael C. Johnson filed a Notice of Removal moving the lawsuit from District Court for the 2nd Judicial District, Denver County, Denver, Colorado to the federal courts. The motion claims that the case should be handled in the federal system because Ms. Martinez is employed as a court reporter with the United States District Court (federal) and was performing “her duties during the alleged incident in the complaint”. (Case 1:13-cv-02260 Document 1 Filed 08/22/13 USDC Colorado)
“Our attorneys are challenging Assistant U.S. Attorney Johnson on his position that Ms. Martinez was performing her duties when she breached our contract”, says Sam Thurman, A Just Cause. “A Just Cause did not pay the federal courts for the transcript, but rather Ms. Martinez as a private contractor”, added Thurman. “We are not challenging if Ms. Martinez was performing her duties when she was transcribing during the court proceedings. But if she personally received payment for a private business transaction, which she did receive such payment, that doesn't sound like an official capacity to me”, concludes Thurman.
“As part of our due diligence I contacted the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. to inquire about the U.S. Attorney's office representation of an individual or contractor, and the DOJ communications office stated that U.S. Attorneys are prohibited from representing individuals or contractors”, states Ethel Lopez, A Just Cause. The official Department of Justice website substantiates this claim with, “The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Division represents the United States, its departments and agencies, Members of Congress, Cabinet Officers, and other federal employees in any civil or criminal matter within its scope of responsibility”. (http://www.justice.gov/civil/common/about.html)
The IRP6 case concerns an African-American company (IRP Solutions Corporation) in Colorado that developed criminal investigations software for federal, state and local law enforcement. The case of the IRP6 (Kendrick Barnes, Gary L. Walker, Demetrius K. Harper, Clinton A. Stewart, David A. Zirpolo and David A. Banks) is currently under appeal in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The men represented themselves pro se at trial. They were convicted in 2011 after being accused of mail and wire fraud. The IRP6 have been incarcerated at the Federal Prison Camp in Florence, Colorado since the summer of 2012. The IRP6 continue to maintain their innocence. (D. Ct. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA)
A hearing or trial date has not been set yet in the lawsuit against Darlene Martinez (2nd Judicial District, Denver, Case 2013CV033380).
The case of IRP Solutions (IRP6) is currently under appeal (US District Court for the District of Colorado, Honorable Christine M. Arguello, D. Ct. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA; Case Nos: NO. 11-1487, Case Nos. 11-1488, 11-1489, 11-1490, 11-1491 and 11-1492). For more information about the story of the IRP6 or for copies of the legal filings go to http://www.freetheirp6.org. Appellate Court panel includes the Honorable Senior Judge Bobby R. Baldock, Honorable Judge Harris L. Hartz, and Honorable Judge Jerome A. Holmes
Related press release on A Just Cause/Martinez Lawsuit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/8

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Always been you”

“Sometimes the one person who requires the most attention from you, who needs to be loved by you, who needs you to be there for them, who needs to feel that you really care, who needs to know that you think they are beautiful and special in every way, who needs you to believe in them, and who needs to just feel wanted by you is actually none other then yourself. Spend time with yourself and you will find someone who is worth knowing, someone who is unique and extraordinary in so many ways, and someone who is more then just another face in this world but someone whose heart and soul reflects the true value and worth that comes from the real beauty within. When you take the time to get to really know all of you, then you begin to see your self image as being incredibly beautiful as you start to build up the confidence again from taking that chance on loving yourself again even after you’ve been hurt for a broken heart in a way is like a stained glass window. When the pieces come together, they fit in such a way that they depict the real picture of your heart and soul by revealing the true story of the life you’ve lived and everything you’ve survived and overcome as all the strength, courage, and inspiration shines through to show you the most beautiful miracle in the making has always been you”

Jenna Kandyce Linch

Copyright © Jenna Kandyce Linch


Wayne William Snellgrove clear violation of the Geneva Convention.

Wayne William Snellgrove
Birth name: Dwayne Ivan Smoke
Birth Mother: Nora Smoke
This was Canadian policy the day I was born. In fact it was policy even before I was born. It even had a name. It was dubbed the 60’s scoop. Because the Gov. scooped up babies and put them into foster care, orphanages, anywhere but with there Biological families. I was a victim of this diseased policy. It is Genocide. Geneva Convention in part reads:
This is article 4.
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  • (a) Killing members of the group;
  • (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
 This is a clear violation of the Geneva Convention.
Note grab a copy of canada’s laws of Genocide.
Born : April 9th 1971.
Place: Wadena, Saskatchewan, Canada.
My genocide story begins the day of my birth, I taken on my birthday and put into an orphanage, ( Ontario )later foster care.
First memory: scared, alone, dark.
I was taken from all that is right, normal, and natural and placed into an artificial world.
At 3 Y/O: I was adopted into a wonderful white American family, The Snellgrove’s and brought to the states. I Crossed over in Buffalo NY.
New father: Richard A. Snellgrove, Professor at Penn. State
New Mother: Ann M. Snellgrove, had PH.D in nutrition.
New Brother: Thomas A. Snellgrove, white.
Note: My brother was white, My new parents were looking for a brother to go along with there other adopted son. He was adopted one year prior to my
It took me a long time to figure out what family was. I just didn’t know.
I didn’t why I was taken from family.
I didn’t know why I given to this family.
So as a child I came up with my own ideas, thoughts and conclusions.
All were bad. So that made me bad.
I was born with a cleft pallet and lip. I had about 20 surgeries on my lip and roof of my mouth before the age 7.
I spoke with a studder most of my childhood. I failed 1st grade because of it and labeled learning disabled. I could not pronounce Th, W’s, or S’s.
1976 Moved from Pa. To NJ, Cherry Hill.
Started my swimming career at 7 with the Jersey Wahoo’s Swim Club.
By the end of my 8th year in was already National Ranked for 8 and under. I knew I wanted to be a great swimmer.
90’-Attended the prestigious The Peddie School in Hightstown NJ.
91’- Was told I should retire from swimming after torn rotator cuff injury
91’-was told to retire from swimming again after doctors told me I had a
heart condition, severe scarring due to swimming and other activities
----Swam anyway, told doctors they were wrong, weeks later….
91’-Broke the National High School Record in the 200-yard medley relay.
91’-was 1 of the Top Ranked swimmers coming out of HS that year in my event 100- yard fly
91’-spring dropped out of HS to go to detox (didn’t graduate from Peddie)
92’-(early 92 )focused on staying sober
92’-late, broke 2 YMCA National Records, and won YMCA two national titles, Long Course.
Got offered a full ride to Collage after my performance at YMCA Nationals
93’-got full Scholarship to La Salle U. in Philadelphia.(Winter )
93’-failed out of college (spring)
93’-Started ocean swimming/working for Atlantic City Beach Patrol
( Summer.)
93’- My ADOPTED mother diagnosed with COLON CANCER.(fall)
94’ moved to South Florida (on a whim)& lived homeless on the beach while trying to find work and training at the Ft.Lauderdale’s International Swimming Hall of fame. (ISHOF)
95’-Won USA Swimming National Championship 5k, open water swim.
95’-Finished 3rd, at the USA Swimming 25k Championships, Lake Lanier Ga.
95’-USA Swimming National team Member
95’-Competed at Pan-Pacific Championships as a member of the US National Swim Team, Georgia USA
96’ Won 2nd USA Swimming National Championship 10k, open water swim.
97’- ADOPTED MOTHER DIED, she had succumb to Cancer.
( days later )
97’- As I was putting her to rest for the last time. I suddenly realized THIS FEELING OF Mourning I had my entire life, I had lost mothers in one lifetime. It was the saddest day of my life. Its bad enough losing one, but realizing I lost two in the same moment was almost to much to bare.
97’-Over the next few months I decided to seek out my Birth mother. Because maybe she still was alive. I had a dream one night that was. And she looking for me. I have had these dreams since I was a child, but I chalked them up to fantasy only. But I had to know if she still loved me.
98’-NDE, nearly killed in car accident in Miami. I saw my life disappear before me. Only by the grace of GOD did I survive. I got hit son hard I flipped 5 times up hill.
02’- Narrowed my search for my BIOLOGICAL MOTHER down to 3 names and 3 numbers, and sat on it for a year. Because of fear I did not want make those calls. What if I was a product of rape or incest? What if I got rejected again. I knew I could not handle rejection all over again. I would kill myself.
03’-Found a web site explaining the 60’S SCOOP and adoption re-unions. I fit the nationality, time period, ethnic group. So, I contacted the PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR who specialized in adoption re-unions. I gave her all my information. She would start making phone calls the following day.
(two days later)
03’-The PI called me and ask me to sit down because she had good news. I cried for three hours as she was explaining what happened and who she was talking to. I Found my biological Mother for the 1st time. She made 1st contact. I had no reason to be fearful. I mother NORA SMOKE never forgot me. My mother explained the horror of losing me at birth and later forced to sign a paper giving me up ( a common GOVERNMENT Practice )
She said she had to flee and go under ground in order to save my other brother and sister.
03’-(A few months later) I flew up to Saskatchewan and mew entire family, 5 brothers & sisters.
I finally knew what happened to me after all those lost years. I was not to blame. I was not defective like I assumed I was all those years. I had never felt love like this before.
I was a victim of the Canadian Government’s Policy of assimilation.
I was robbed of my heritage.
I was robbed of my Ancestry.
I was robbed of my family.
I was robbed out of a childhood.
I was robbed of my innocents.
Everything that could be taken, was taken by the Canadian Government.
I was apart of a deep seeded hatred for the red man.
I was apart of GENOCIDE and didn’t even know it.
I was a survivor of GENOCIDE and didn’t even know.
I later learned out of hundreds children taken from my Reserve, I was only the 3rd to make it back.
Out of the Thousands taken from their Reserves only a handful were ever adopted out, usually whites through out Europe and the states.

"We Didnt Start The Fire" The New Edition 1979-2013

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Friday, 23 August 2013

Bail request filed by Herman Wallace of the Angola 3

picture from google

by International Coalition to Free the Angola 3
Wednesday Aug 21st, 2013 9:54 AM


On the evening of August 20, the Angola 3's legal team filed a request for bail in Herman Wallace's habeas case. This comes only days BEFORE a recommendation is expected from the Magistrate Judge reviewing the case. Judge Jackson has the authority to issue bail at any time while the case is under consideration, but especially when the facts are compelling and failure to release on bail could "leave the petitioner without remedy."

In addition to an overwhelming body of evidence pointing to actual innocence, his habeas claim presents not one but 4 strong constitutional violations each sufficient on their own to trigger release. According to the prisons own mechanisms of review, he does not pose a danger to himself or others and has not had a disciplinary write up for any incidence of institutional violence in over 30 years. Most crucially at this time, his health continues to deteriorate rapidly, in no small part due to "the sub-standard care of the Louisiana Department of Corrections," and if bail is denied, he may not survive the weeks or months possibly needed to complete the litigation of his claim, even if the Court rules in his favor.

According to the legal team, this sort of request for bail pending habeas review was once relatively routine 20 years ago but is only very rarely granted now. However, as we all know well, and as the attorneys do an excellent job of summarizing for the Court, Herman's case is “exceptional,” and “deserving of special treatment in the interests of justice.”

Let us hope Judge Jackson agrees.
We will update you as soon as we hear anything from the Court.

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California jails: “Solitary confinement can amount to cruel punishment, even torture” – UN rights expert

GENEVA (23 August 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, today urged the United States Government to abolish the use of prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement. There are approximately 80,000 prisoners in the United States of America who are subjected to solitary confinement, nearly 12,000 are in isolation in the state of California.
“Even if solitary confinement is applied for short periods of time, it often causes mental and physical suffering or humiliation, amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and if the resulting pain or sufferings are severe, solitary confinement even amounts to torture,” Mr. Méndez stressed as nearly 200 inmates in Californian detention centres approach their fifth consecutive week on hunger strike against cruel, inhuman and degrading prison conditions.
“I urge the US Government to adopt concrete measures to eliminate the use of prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement under all circumstances,” he said, “including an absolute ban of solitary confinement of any duration for juveniles, persons with psychosocial disabilities or other disabilities or health conditions, pregnant women, women with infants and breastfeeding mothers as well as those serving a life sentence and prisoners on death row.”
The independent investigator on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment urged the US authorities to ensure that “solitary confinement is only imposed, if at all, in very exceptional circumstances, as a last resort, for as short a time as possible and with established safeguards in place.” In Mr. Méndez’s view, “its application must be subject to independent review, and inmates must undergo strict medical supervision.”
Since 8 July 2013, thousands of prisoners detained in nine separate prisons across the state of California have gone on hunger strike to peacefully protest the cruel, inhuman and degrading prison conditions. The inmates are demanding a change in the state’s excessive use of solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure, and the subjugation of prisoners to solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time by prison authorities under the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
In California’s maximum security prison in Pelican Bay more than 400 prisoners have been held in solitary confinement for over a decade, and the average time a prisoner spends in solitary confinement is 7.5 years. “I am extremely worried about those numbers and in particular about the approximately 4,000 prisoners in California who are held in Security Housing Units for indefinite periods or periods of many years, often decades,” Mr. Méndez said.
In many cases inmates are isolated in 8-foot-by-12 foot (2.5 x 3.5 m. Approx.) cells and lack minimum ventilation and natural light. The prisoners are forced to remain in their cells for 22 to 23 hours per day, and they are allowed only one hour of exercise alone in a cement lot where they do not necessarily have any contact with other inmates.
In the context of reported reprisals against inmates on hunger strike and a District Judge’s approval of Californian authorities’ request to engage to force-feed prisoners under certain circumstances, the UN Special Rapporteur also reminded the authorities that “it is not acceptable to use threats of forced feeding or other types of physical or psychological coercion against individuals who have opted for the extreme recourse of a hunger strike.”
Mr. Méndez addressed the issue of solitary confinement in the US, including prison regimes in California, in his 2011 report* to the UN General Assembly and in numerous communications to the Government. He has also repeatedly requested an invitation to carry out a visit to the country, including State prisons in California, but so far has not received a positive answer.
“My request coincides with some prominent voices in the United States, including the first-ever congressional hearing chaired by Senator Durbin on 19 June 2012; the decision to close Tamms Maximum Security Correctional Center by the State of Illinois on 4 January 2013 and numerous editorials by prominent columnists in major papers addressing the excessive use of solitary confinement across the country,” Mr. Méndez said.
“It is about time to provide the opportunity for an in situ assessment of the conditions in US prisons and detention facilities,” the UN Special Rapporteur underscored.
Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on 1 November 2010. He is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. He is currently a Professor of Law at the American University – Washington College of Law and Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association. Mr. Méndez has previously served as the President of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) until 2009, and was the UN Secretary-General Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide from 2004 to 2007, as well as an advisor on crime prevention to the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court, between 2009 and 2010. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx
(*) Check the 2011 report on solitary confinement: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N11/445/70/PDF/N1144570.pdf?OpenElement or http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?m=103
UN Human Rights Country Page – United States of America: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/USIndex.aspx
For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Sonia Cronin (+41 22 917 91 60 / scronin@ohchr.org) or Ms. Stephanie Selg (+1 202 274 4378 / ssleg@ohchr.org) or write to sr-torture@ohchr.org.
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)
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Free All Political Prisoners!

Lawyers, Advocates: Prison Hunger Strike Force Feeding Order Political Attack on Peaceful Protest. Prisoners Rejoin Strike

Lawyers, Advocates: Prison Hunger Strike Force Feeding Order Political Attack on Peaceful Protest
Strikers Vow to Continue, Prisoners Rejoin Strike, Supporters Redouble Efforts

Press Contacts:
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Oakland—As prisoners enter their 46th day of the massive California prison hunger strike, supporters continue to condemn Monday’s controversial court order that authorizes force feeding of strike participants and that disregards their medical wishes.  According to lawyers just back from a visit to Pelican Bay, the order has emboldened prisoners to continue their strike, while others have decided to rejoin the strike in response to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) attack.

Attorney Anne Weills met with strikers in Pelican Bay Tuesday and Wednesday.  “Although some have lost around 30 pounds and are getting significantly weaker, they are still very sharp intellectually and are still deeply united in their struggle for a life with dignity,” said Weills. “They are very much committed to their demands and are waiting for Governor Brown to send someone to Pelican Bay to negotiate about those demands.”

Weills reported that prisoners were disturbed that the Judge who signed the controversial order, along with the Prison Law Office and the Medical Receiver’s office would align themselves with the CDCR’s political repression of the peaceful protest.  Strike supporters are particularly disturbed and outraged that the order against strikers’ advanced medical directives (AMD) adds legal weight to the CDCR’s sensational, and largely unsubstantiated, propaganda that all strike participation is part of a gang conspiracy. “This is an extraordinary political attack on the hunger strikers,” continued Weills. “ It is even more absurd when a spokesperson for the Medical Receiver's office stated that among the hunger strikers who have been starving since July 8th, there are very few who have any advanced medical directives in the first place. So who is being coerced?  There is not one shred of evidence that has been presented to Judge Henderson that anyone has been coerced to sign anything.  Where are the declarations of such a person? Where is a declaration from a real hunger striker which states that they are being coerced?   Is this a fraud being perpetrated on a federal judge, who trusts the Plata plaintiff's attorneys?  Why was there no evidentiary hearing?”

“This is a continuation of CDCR’s attacks on a nonviolent protest,” said Dolores Canales of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition. “We have seen this before.  This is about dehumanizing the strikers, delegitimizing their demands, and disrupting the widespread support for the protest coming from the community.  But, as always, this will only cause the strikers, their loved ones, and their supports to fight harder.”  Amid CDCR’s latest stunts and Gov. Brown’s continued silence, strike supporters are continuing to put pressure on California politicians, demanding action from the state’s Public Safety Committee .

It seems that the CDCR’s plans have backfired as Weills reports prisoners are rejoining the strike. “As a result of recent events and Judge Henderson's Order, I was told yesterday that more than 50 people in the SHU at Pelican Bay are now going back on hunger strike,” said Weills. “From what I understand, that 50 may turn into 100 very fast, and that many have already been on rolling hunger strikes—going two weeks on, and then two weeks off.  This will all continue until an agreement is reached.”



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Questions and comments may be sent to claude@freedomarchives.org


Free All Political Prisoners!

Social Awareness


Social Awareness is important and plays a key role by equipping our communities with the knowledge of the mishaps and social injustices in the country (USA) and around the world. By providing this exclusive complimentary service to communities everywhere, our mission is to keep our people connected by encouraging the discussion of these topics.

The fierce urgency of now

The determined message of Martin Luther King's famous speech will be as important as ever as people from across the country travel to Washington to protest racism.
Protesting Trayvon Martin's murder and the targeting of young Black menProtesting Trayvon Martin's murder and the targeting of young Black men
FOUR-AND-a-half years ago, an enormous crowd packed into the Capitol mall in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama. The first African American president took the oath of office in front of a Capitol building built by slaves.
Among the crowd on that January day, there was a sense of bearing witness to progress--not only because of the historical significance of the first Black president in a country founded on slavery, but also the seeming sea change in contemporary politics after eight long years of George W. Bush and the Republicans in power.
This weekend, another crowd--smaller, but likewise dominated by African Americans--will gather on another part of the mall. They will be commemorating a different historical moment: the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.
But they will also be protesting--expressing their anger at the continuing grip of racism in so many forms, even as an African American sits in the Oval Office.
By virtually every measure, the conditions and quality of life for the majority of African Americas have declined during the Obama years. More than other parts of the population, Black America has borne the brunt of the economic and social crisis of the Great Recession years. The March on Washington is an opportunity to focus a spotlight on this reality, while the cameras of the media are rolling--and on the need to do something about it with, as King said 50 years ago, "the fierce urgency of now."
Not only is racism still with us--despite the claims that we are, since Obama's election, living in a "post-racial society"--but the first African American president has done nothing about the crisis of Black America. On the contrary, for the last five years, Obama and his administration have explicitly avoided being identified with "racial issues."
This posture changed somewhat over the summer. Last month, Obama made one of the only public statements of his presidency about racial profiling and racism in the U.S. justice system--but only because of the wave of outrage after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the murderer of Trayvon Martin. Likewise, Attorney General Eric Holder promised changes in the Justice Department's policies on drug prosecutions and mandatory minimum sentencing--after years of upholding the federal injustice system.
Obama and his administration will get credit they don't deserve for these statements and promises--among liberal leaders of mainstream civil rights organizations and unions who will speak at the March, and also among the crowd in general. Those committed to building the antiracist struggle should take the opportunity this weekend to talk about the real record--and about why liberal leaders who apologize for that record, rather than challenge it, are making the situation worse.
Still, even if Obama and Holder are taken completely at their word, it won't be news to anyone at the March that much, much more needs to be done--and that the initiative for doing it is going to have to come from outside the Washington political system, as it did after the Zimmerman verdict.
That's a sentiment to build on--with the aim of using this national mobilization against racism to advance local struggles around a wide range of questions that marchers will return to on August 25.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THE AUGUST 24 demonstration would have been an important historical commemoration no matter what, but it took on a new dynamic after the Zimmerman verdict.
The acquittal of a self-declared neighborhood watch captain who stalked and killed an unarmed Black teenager dramatized how much the issues of 50 years ago are with us today. A young Black man walking after dark where someone decided he shouldn't be, his murderer declared not guilty by a jury without a single African American--all that would be very familiar to the marchers of 1963.
The issues of racial profiling and vigilante justice, carried out by killers in uniform and out, naturally became one important hub for the mobilization to Washington.
In New York City, participants in the struggle to win justice for the victims of police murder like Ramarley Graham and Shantel Davis filled up one bus by themselves and are looking for any way to get more people to D.C. Among the thousands of others from New York will be those who marched down Fifth Avenue last year in a silent protest against "stop-and-frisk," the NYPD policy that a federal judge this month found had violated the constitutional rights of hundreds of thousands of Black and Brown New Yorkers.
There are other issues driving the turnout--as numerous as the many faces of racism in U.S. society. In Chicago, the Chicago Teachers Union is among the organizations behind the Chicago Labor Freedom Riders caravan to D.C. Its participants want to emphasize how the assault against public education and public-sector workers is bound together with the attack on Black America.
So whether they've been to Washington protests before or are attending their first national demonstration, many of those at the March will be no strangers to struggle. For them, the bus rides to and from D.C. and the rally and march itself will be a chance to build up networks of solidarity--to make connections to people involved in the same struggles in other cities, or their neighbors organizing around different issues in their own hometown.
Thus, Joseph "Jazz" Hayden of the Campaign to End the New Jim Crow in New York City is hoping the March on Washington will help activists sink deeper grassroots far beyond the capital. As he told SocialistWorker.org:
We saw the grassroots response to the Trayvon Martin decision, which led to demonstrations in over 100 cities across the country. Imagine if we were organized in 100 cities across the country. Anytime we decided we wanted to put something on the national agenda, we could put it out there instantly.
In addition, every person who brings their experiences to Washington and every struggle represented at the March will add to the ideological alternative to the conventional wisdom that has dominated mainstream U.S. politics--that the problems of the Black community are largely, if not entirely, the fault of the Black community itself.
That scapegoating message has been constant since the end of the civil rights era in the mid-1960s, when openly preaching the inferiority of African Americans fell out of favor in mainstream politics. Instead, racism was repackaged, often through coded appeals for "law and order" and "personal responsibility." Today, the idea that Blacks--and not the system--are to blame for their own oppression is accepted across the political spectrum, including, in varying degrees, by leading figures in the Black community.
But as Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor wrote for SocialistWorker.org:
[E]very once in a while, something happens that tears the mask off, revealing the ugly face of U.S. society. The murder of Trayvon Martin and now the acquittal of his murderer confirms again that racism is so tightly packed into the blood and marrow of American democracy that it cannot live without it.
The assembled masses of the marchers in Washington will be definitive evidence, for anyone who cares to listen, of both the depth of the crisis of Black America and the fact that its causes lie in systemic oppression that is woven into the fabric of U.S. society and Washington politics.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
NO OPPONENT of racism doubts that the Republicans and their right-wing base are committed to bigotry and discrimination. They all but say so themselves.
Case in point: The Supreme Court decision in June, by a 5-4 majority along ideological lines, that gutted one of the main accomplishments of the civil rights movement: the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Gallingly, the conservative justices claimed that racist obstacles to voting rights were a thing of the past, and therefore the act's major protections could be done away with. That's a blatant lie--six of the nine states that were specially scrutinized under the Voting Rights Act passed new voting restrictions since 2010. All told, 19 states passed more than 24 measures in 2011 and 2012 that make it harder to vote--practically speaking, harder for people of color to vote--and there's worse to come following the Supreme Court ruling.
The ugly logic is clear for Republicans--fewer Black and Brown voters means fewer votes against them. Thus, the call for Congress to update or amend the Voting Rights Act will ring out from the stage at the March on Washington, and rightly so.
But many speakers will be hesitant to talk about issues where the Democrats have a hand in implementing racist laws and policies. Take the issue where Attorney General Holder recently spoke out: the "war on drugs" laws that have been a leading cause of the incarceration boom in the U.S.
Earlier this month, Holder told the American Bar Association that he would urge federal prosecutors to avoid charging defendants in nonviolent drug cases with offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences--one of the main contributing factors in the 800 percent increase in the federal prison population since 1980. But there are holes in Holder's announcement--not least that it will be up to prosecutors whether to exercise the discretion Holder is allowing them.
Plus, Holder's new promises come after four-and-a-half years when the administration has enforced some of the most unjust and racist policies of the decades-old drug war.
In June, for example, Holder's Justice Department argued in court for enforcing existing sentences for prisoners under the notorious 100-to-1 rule--a sentencing guideline where mandatory minimums were triggered for possession of a hundredth of the amount of crack cocaine (where users are more likely to be Black) compared to powder cocaine (more likely to be white).
In 2010, Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which dropped the disparity to 18-to-1--still a half measure that Jasmine Tyler of the Drug Policy Alliance described as a license "to be a little racist."
But when a federal appeals court ruled that the new "fair" sentencing should be applied retroactively for drug possession convictions, Holder's lawyers went to court to oppose the decision--in effect, asking that thousands of people, most of them poor and people of color, remain behind bars under a sentencing guideline the administration itself repudiated.
That Holder this month proposed reforms around mandatory minimums "is a reflection of a change in public opinion and a rising tide of activism among prisoners here in California and their families," Isaac Ontiveros, an organizer with the prison abolition group Critical Resistance, told the Common Dreams website. But the struggle against the New Jim Crow can't end there, any more than civil rights activists of the 1950s and '60s would have been satisfied with their first partial victories against old-style Jim Crow segregation.
This weekend, people will come to Washington, D.C., from across the U.S. to show their opposition to racism and send the message that action is needed. The words of Martin Luther King's famous speech will be as important as ever:
We have...come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism...The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.