Chicago locks public out of NATO 3 trial


This article originally appeared on Counterpunch. The NATO 3 are a group of activists preparing for protests against a NATO meeting in 2012 in Chicago. They were entrapped by undercover agents and arrested on terrorism charges. More about their story can be found here

"Meanwhile, public officials continue to invoke the ‘terrorism’ meme in the NATO trial as part of a criminal prosecution that has consistently conflated dissent with criminality. And they’re taking no chances on uncontrolled spin in the case.

Besides making members of the public surrender their privacy rights to attend the trial, they’re enforcing the courts’ recently imposed ban on cell phones, lest people who CAN get in report from the ground, and have told those who are willing to ‘pre-register’ that officials are giving priority seating to those who then RE-register to attend a day before each trial date. You don’t re-register? You take your chances at getting a seat the following day. At one point, the judge even considered banning pencils and paper from the courtroom.

New rules for non-corporate reporters are equally extreme. Officials are imposing restrictions that effectively ban freelance reporters and reporters with non-corporate and non-traditional media from the kind of access and privileges — including the right to carry their cell phones — that corporate reporters will be afforded."

Locking The Public Out Of Public Trials In Chicago

Your Rights Aren’t Worth Crap

by CHRIS GEOVANIS

Public trials are one of the fundamental tenets of American democracy. And they've been cancelled in Chicago, at least for the trial of the NATO 3 — three defendants battling terrorism charges for alleged 'crimes' wholly instigated, manufactured and advanced by undercover cops in a blatant case of entrapment. But you'll be hard pressed to determine this for yourself, since you're essentially banned from the courtroom unless you're willing to surrender your right to privacy, your right to even a glimmer of free expression, or your right as a non-corporate reporter to cover the case in real time like your corporate colleagues can.

Government officials are forcing every member of the public seeking to observe the NATO 3 trial to 'pre-register', produce a government-issued ID, submit to a criminal background check — and, of course, trust them with your data.

This last bit is spectacularly hard to swallow, as news continues to come out about the extent of government spying and data-mining on perfectly lawful activity like talking on the phone. Government agencies have surveilled and disrupted the Occupy movement, to which the defendants had a loose affiliation, simply for existing, and we've barely begun to plumb the depths of cop spying in the run-up to Chicago's NATO protest — and beyond. For Chicagoans, this comes in the wake of the Chicago cops' notorious history of political spying, disruption and assassination going back to the days of the infamous COINTELPRO Red Squad.

In fact, there would be no criminal case against the three defendants if the city's autocratic former mayor, Richard M. Daley, hadn't finally succeeded in convincing the federal court in 2001 to effectively gut the Red Squad Consent Decree banning police spying, infiltration, harassment, intimidation and undercover disruption of political activity. The hollowed out decree was ultimately dissolved in 2009.

Attorneys for the NATO defendants have argued in a court finding that the 'terrorism' scheme they're charged with is based on "idle chatter, laced with bravado and abetted, encouraged and egged on by the undercover police agents." There was no actual act of vandalism committed, and there certainly was no act of 'terror' committed — unless you're feeling terrorized by the prospect of undercover cops inciting thought crimes to dirty up your political beliefs. But there was, essentially, a law enforcement scheme to incite crime where no crime had been committed, wholly fomented by undercover cops engaged in manufacturing criminality — cop behavior that would have been illegal under the Red Squad consent decree.

Meanwhile, public officials continue to invoke the 'terrorism' meme in the NATO trial as part of a criminal prosecution that has consistently conflated dissent with criminality. And they're taking no chances on uncontrolled spin in the case.

Besides making members of the public surrender their privacy rights to attend the trial, they're enforcing the courts' recently imposed ban on cell phones, lest people who CAN get in report from the ground, and have told those who are willing to 'pre-register' that officials are giving priority seating to those who then RE-register to attend a day before each trial date. You don't re-register? You take your chances at getting a seat the following day. At one point, the judge even considered banning pencils and paper from the courtroom.

New rules for non-corporate reporters are equally extreme. Officials are imposing restrictions that effectively ban freelance reporters and reporters with non-corporate and non-traditional media from the kind of access and privileges — including the right to carry their cell phones — that corporate reporters will be afforded.

"It is my sense going into this trial that the Cook County Sheriff's Office will be putting on a trial that undermines the public's right to access much more than the US military did during Manning's court martial," writes Firedoglake reporter Kevin Gosztola. He should know, since he covered the Manning trial daily — and his most recent piece on the NATO 3 trial is a compelling and disturbing summary of the state's dubious basis for its terrorism allegations.

The state's scheme to effectively ban the public from a public — and publicly funded — trial is part of a long-standing official pattern to harass, arrest and undermine those who dissent in Chicago. For years, activists in Chicago had to fight in court for permission to rally and march against the Iraq war, and protesters have routinely been subject to arrest simply for attempting to exercise their First Amendment rights. More broadly, the restrictions that local government overlords have imposed on public access and public oversight in the NATO trial are part of a national effort to rebrand dissent as inherently dangerous.

The judge in the NATO 3 case, Thaddeus Wilson, prominently displays a picture of Martin Luther King behind his bench. If he were able, King would be spinning in his grave at some of the rulings Wilson has issued in the case. Wilson refused, for example, to dismiss a juror for cause, even though she routinely teaches at the Chicago police academy, and is married to the law enforcement officer who supervised the undercover operations of state police during the NATO protests. Despite the fact that police spying and its abuses lie at the heart of the NATO 3 case — and that this prospective juror's very livelihood and family economy is grounded in police collaboration — Wilson ruled that there was no reason to doubt her ability to serve objectively.

That's like saying that the chairman of BP is perfectly fit to serve on a jury weighing criminal negligence in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Defense attorneys were forced to exercise a peremtory challenge to keep her off the jury.

Judge Wilson has also issued a disingenuously named 'decorum' order that sets the stage for massive courtroom repression. The edict is so sweeping that one could conceivably be ejected from the courtroom and cited for criminal contempt for the 'crime' of raising your eyebrows or shaking your head at testimony — or even smiling at a defendant. The order also bans political buttons, t-shirts, armbands and perhaps even particular colors — we won't know until we show up wearing red or black or both. If you get up to take a leak, you can't get back into the courtroom until the judge calls a recess — and in the jury selection of the phase, court sometimes ran past 9PM, so empty your bladder early.

Wilson has also consistently ruled in the prosecution's favor in terms of what evidence will and will not be admissible. And in one of the judge's worst rulings, Wilson has asserted that that police are included under the terrorism definition of the state statute under which the defendants are being tried, which defines terrorism as "intent to coerce a significant portion of the civilian population."

In short, the testimony of the undercover cops who manufactured the conditions for a 'crime' to be alleged should be treated like any testimony from any 'civilian'. Jurors could essentially be asked to embrace the legal fiction that these undercover cops felt 'coerced' into the self-same crime they themselves were attempting to create and incite. This ruling essentially privileges testimony from cops in a police department whose officers routinely tell flat-out lies with impunity to bolster their cases.

It bears emphasizing that the undercover cops at the heart of this case are not civilians. They're the undercover cops who told court officials they 'lost' a shitload of text messages that could have been exculpatory for the NATO 3 defense team — this in an age when virtually any electronic traffic anywhere lives somewhere, including in the NSA's vast databases. Except when the NSA's pals in the Chicago police department lose that electronic traffic. They're the undercover cops who actually manufactured the conditions in which they could allege a crime under the notoriously vague and little used state terrorism statute under which the NATO 3 are charged.

This is just as dunderheaded as the only other instance in which this state terrorism statute has been used to charge someone. In that case, the state convicted a college student for making a terrorist threat — even though he actually did no such thing — after cops searched his unoccupied car and found some crappy and inflammatory rap lyrics scribbled on a piece of paper. The state circuit court in that case sentenced the student — a Black man in a largely white community — to five years in prison. An appellate court later tossed out that conviction. Blacks, dissidents — hey, this state terrorism statute is perfect for Illinois' law enforcement community!

Secret trials are abhorrent. That's why the nation's founders, whatever their other manifest flaws, banned them. Secret trials built on the testimony of undercover cops given broad license to manufacture and incite criminal activity to entrap defendants is particularly revolting and deeply dangerous to all of us.

"The NATO 3 trial is not about terrorism," says Andy Thayer, who helped organize 2012's protests against the NATO meeting. "This trial is about the government using hype ABOUT terrorism to pursue a political agenda, and as such represents a fundamental mis-use of the justice system, if we are to believe the words of the U.S. Constitution."

The political agenda of the Cook County States Attorneys Office — the prosecutors of record of the NATO 3 and others criminally charged around the 2012 NATO protests — has included a stubborn commitment to defend its own most egregious miscarriages of justice. Cook County States Attorney and career Chicago prosecutor Anita Alvarez, who's not been shy about chasing media face time in the NATO cases, has historically embraced the worst sorts of police excess and abuse — including cops who torture, lie and murder.

Alvarez' local prosecutorial agenda dovetails with allied schemes in national and local government to support increasingly militarized police forces which hustle funding for their agencies on the public dime, and promote the careers of "security" industry professionals — many of whom are former members of these self-same militarized police forces.

Those self-same law enforcement agencies are also perfectly happy to collude with corporations to suppress dissent that those corporations deem unhelpful — what journalist Naomi Wolf has described as "totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent."

To support this agenda in Chicago, authorities are using the tried and true tactic of terrifying people into signing off on their most fundamental civil liberties — including any vestiges of privacy rights — for the 'privilege' of attending a public criminal trial rooted in police misdeeds. More than a few activists who assembled in Chicago in May 2012 to oppose the murderous war agenda of NATO have said they simply will not submit to the state's draconian terms to attend the NATO 3 trial. And in that respect, the state has succeeded in locking out some of the people with the most at stake in a 'public' trial in which defense attorneys have been consistently thwarted in their effort to expose law enforcement's schemes to derail dissent and manufacture crime.

The Chicago police and their overlord, Rahm "Mayor 1%" Emanuel, worked mightily to make the city safe during the NATO protests for the worst sorts of corporate criminals and their military backers. Emanuel and Alvarez remain strong allies in a shared dystopian vision of civic life in a city that routinely criminalizes people of color and undermines the fundamental tenets of economic and social justice. It's no accident that Mayor 1% backs privatization schemes in critical public endeavors that range from education to health — just as States' Attorney Anita Alvarez backs privatizing this critically important public trial.

So, who are the real terrorists?

Chris Geovanis is a Chicago media activist, advocacy journalist and member of the HammerHard MediaWorks collective. You can reach her via Twitter @heavyseas, via her Facebook page or at chrisgeovanis(at)gmail.com

Drop the charges against the CUNY 6!

This semester the war criminal ex-general David Petraeus was appointed to lecture at the City University of New York. Students at CUNY have righteously resisted this appointment by protesting outside of the building he teaches in; every single class. Last Monday six students were attacked by the NYPD, beaten and arrested. Today over a hundred people protested against Petraeus and in defense of the CUNY 6. The protests will go on as long as Petraeus lectures at CUNY, exactly as it should be. (Intro by Nat Winn)

The following article first appeared on the Revolutionary Students Coordinating Committee website.

PRESS RELEASE: UNPROVOKED POLICE ATTACK AGAINST PEACEFUL PROTEST BY CUNY STUDENTS AND FACULTY AGAINST EX-GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS

Press release

Contact: Portia Seddon, 347-740-8834 or Tafadar Sourov, 646-331-1266

Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY, adhoccunycommittee@gmail.com

Unprovoked police attack against peaceful protest by CUNY students and faculty against ex-Gen. David Petraeus

NEW YORK, 17 September — Six students were arrested this evening in a brutal, unprovoked police attack against a peaceful protest by City University of New York students and faculty against CUNY’s appointment of former CIA chief ex-General David Petraeus. Students were punched, slammed against vehicles and against the pavement by police captains and officers, after the NYPD forced them off the pavement and into the street. The demonstration was called by the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY.

The arrested students are presently being held and are to be arraigned this Wednesday, September 18, at some point between 9:00 a.m. and the afternoon in the Arraignment Court in the Manhattan Criminal Court at 100 Centre Street. All defenders of students’ basic right to protest are urged to come to the arraignment and show their support.

“As students were chanting ‘War Criminal Petraeus Out of CUNY Now,’ I was shocked to see several police officers grab and brutalize one of the demonstrators,” said City College student Yexenia Vanegas. “This was completely unprovoked, as demonstrators made clear that they were there to defend our university in a peaceful protest.” The attack occured in front of CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College, where Petraeus has been appointed to teach a class on public policy. “Protestors were marching in a circle on the sidewalk and chanting, but the police forced them into the street and then charged. One of the most brutal things I saw was that five police officers slammed a Queens College student face down to the pavement across the street from Macaulay, put their knees on his back and he was then repeatedly kneed in the back,” said Hunter student Michael Brian. The student was one of those pointed out by “white shirt” officers, then seized and brutalized. A Latina woman student was heaved through the air and slammed to the ground.

A broad range of CUNY students, faculty and staff members, have been carrying out a campaign of “protest and exposure” against the Board of Trustees’ appointment of Petraeus, whose documented actions as Iraq/Afghanistan war commander and CIA chief include drone attacks upon civilians, and the creation of torture centers and death squads. When Petraeus was setting up Special Police Commandos, the “dirty tactics” that were used included the use of white phosphorus, a chemical weapon, against the population in Fallujah. “Petraeus’ man” Col. James Steele, who organized death squads in Central America, had been brought to the area for the same purpose.

With the NYPD being sent to brutalize and arrest CUNY students on behalf of a certified war criminal, organizers state that this blatant use of police brutality against peaceful protestors wil not intimidate or deter those who expose the truth about the actions of David “Death Squad” Petraeus and oppose attempts to turn the City University into “a war college.”

California Prisoner Hunger Strike Suspended

 

Below is the statement on the suspension of the California Prisoners Hunger strike.  More updates, news and statements can be found on the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity website.

 

Statement Suspending the Third Hunger Strike

Greetings of Solidarity and Respect!

The PBSP-SHU, Short Corridor Collective Representatives hereby serve notice upon all concerned parties of interest that after nine weeks we have collectively decided to suspend our third hunger strike action on September 5, 2013.

To be clear, our Peaceful Protest of Resistance to our continuous subjection to decades of systemic state sanctioned torture via the system’s solitary confinement units is far from over. Our decision to suspend our third hunger strike in two years does not come lightly. This decision is especially difficult considering that most of our demands have not been met (despite nearly universal agreement that they are reasonable). The core group of prisoners has been, and remains 100% committed to seeing this protracted struggle for real reform through to a complete victory, even if it requires us to make the ultimate sacrifice.  With that said, we clarify this point by stating prisoner deaths are not the objective, we recognize such sacrifice is at times the only means to an end of fascist oppression.

Our goal remains: force the powers that be to end their torture policies and practices in which serious physical and psychological harm is inflicted on tens of thousands of prisoners as well as our loved ones outside.  We also call for ending the related practices of using prisoners to promote the agenda of the police state by seeking to greatly expand the numbers of the working class poor warehoused in prisons, and particularly those of us held in solitary, based on psychological/social manipulation, and divisive tactics keeping prisoners fighting amongst each other. Those in power promote mass warehousing to justify more guards, more tax dollars for “security”, and spend mere pennies for rehabilitation — all of which demonstrates a failed penal system, high recidivism, and ultimately compromising public safety.  The State of California’s $9.1 billion annual CDCR budget is the epitome of a failed and fraudulent state agency that diabolically and systemically deprives thousands of their human rights and dignity. Allowing this agency to act with impunity has to stop! And it will.

With that said, and in response to much sincere urging of loved ones, supporters, our attorneys and current and former state legislators, Tom Ammiano, Loni Hancock, and Tom Hayden, for whom we have the upmost respect, we decided to suspend our hunger strike.  We are especially grateful to Senator Hancock and Assembly Member Ammiano for their courageous decision to challenge Governor Brown and the CDCR for their policies of prolonged solitary confinement and inhumane conditions. We are certain that they will continue their fight for our cause, including holding legislative hearings and the drafting legislation responsive to our demands on prison conditions and sentencing laws. We are also proceeding with our class action civil suit against the CDCR.

The fact is that Governor Brown and CDCR Secretary Beard have responded to our third peaceful action with typical denials and falsehoods, claiming solitary confinement does not exist and justifying the continuation of their indefinite torture regime by vilifying the peaceful protest representatives. They also obtained the support of the medical receiver (Kelso) and Prison Law Office attorney (Spector—who is supposed to represent prisoners interests, and instead has become an agent for the state) to perpetuate their lie to the public and to the federal court — that prisoners participating in the hunger strike have been coerced — in order to obtain the August 19, 2013 force feeding order.

We have deemed it to be in the best interest of our cause to suspend our hunger strike action until further notice.

We urge people to remember that we began our present resistance with our unprecedented collective and peaceful actions (in tandem with the legislative process) back in early 2010, when we created and distributed a “Formal Complaint” for the purpose of educating the public and bringing widespread attention to our torturous conditions.

After much dialogue and consideration, this led us to our first and second hunger strike actions in 2011, during which a combined number of 6,500 and 12,000 prisoners participated. We succeeded in gaining worldwide attention and support resulting in some minor changes by the CDCR concerning SHU programming and privileges. They also claimed to make major changes to policies regarding gang validation and indefinite SHU confinement by creating the STG/SDP Pilot Program. They released a few hundred prisoners from SHU/AD SEG to general population in the prison.  But in truth, this is all part of a sham to claim the pilot program works and was a weak attempt to have our class action dismissed. It didn’t work.

In response we respectfully made clear that CDCR’s STG-SDP was not responsive to our demand for the end to long term isolation and solitary confinement and thus unacceptable.  (See: AGREEMENT TO END HOSTILITIES)

Our supporting points fell on deaf ears, leading to our January 2013 notice of intent to resume our hunger strike on July 8, 2013 if our demands were not met.  We also included Forty Supplemental Demands.

In early July, CDCR produced several memos notifying prisoners of an increase in privileges and property items, which are notably responsive to a few of our demands, while the majority of our demands were unresolved, leading to our third hunger strike, in which 30,000 prisoners participated and resulted in greater worldwide exposure, support and condemnation of the CDCR!

From our perspective, we’ve gained a lot of positive ground towards achieving our goals.  However, there’s still much to be done.  Our resistance will continue to build and grow until we have won our human rights.

Respectfully,

For the Prisoner Class Human Rights Movement
Todd Ashker, C58191, D1-119
Arturo Castellanos, C17275, D1-121
Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C35671, D1-117
Antonio Guillen, P81948, D2-106
And the Representatives Body:
Danny Troxell, B76578, D1-120
George Franco, D46556, D4-217
Ronnie Yandell, V27927, D4-215
Paul Redd, B72683, D2-117
James Baridi Williamson, D-34288. D4-107
Alfred Sandoval, D61000, D4-214
Louis Powell, B59864, D1-104
Alex Yrigollen, H32421, D2-204
Gabriel Huerta, C80766, D3-222
Frank Clement, D07919, D3-116
Raymond Chavo Perez, K12922, D1-219
James Mario Perez, B48186, D3-124

 

STRIKE THE PRISONS!

STRIKE THE PRISONS is a one-shot bulletin to get the word out that prisoners are occupying the prisons. 

Hunger Strikes staring today in the California prisons against their super-max isolation. SPREAD THIS.

Download the PDF

Why the Ruling Class is So Upset About Edward Snowden

The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, has the audacity to tell NBC News, “It is literally gut-wrenching to see” Snowden’s revelations… because of the “damage” they do to “our intelligence capabilities”! As though there were really an “our” or “us” at this point. As though we were a nation united, including the mindful watchers and the grateful watched.

No, there are us, and there are them. The tiny power elite that controls the mainstream press and cable channels, the corporations that dutifully hand over meta-data to the state (and then deny doing so to allay consumer outrage), the twin political parties, are sick to their stomachs that they’ve been so exposed.

This first appeared on Counter-Punch.

I don’t have a weak stomach, but I confess that watching TV news does get me nauseated. So I do so sparingly. I have of course been following the coverage of the Edward Snowden story, just to see how opinion is being shaped.

In the days immediately after June 5, when Snowden revealed that the U.S. government daily collects meta-data of all phone call records in the U.S. and beyond, the cable news networks seemed puzzled about how to deal with the story.

They couldn’t very well denounce Snowden out of hand, lest they be accused of being shameless lackeys of the state (even though that’s in fact what they are). They all like to posture as “fair and balanced,” so they did initially pose the question: is Snowden a hero, or a villain?

Early opinion polls showed considerable support for Snowden’s action; aTime poll released June 13 showed 54% of those surveyed in the U.S. thought he’d done the right thing. Some unlikely people (Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck) called Snowden a “hero.” But that may be changing, as the networks now compete with one another to generate outrage—not at the spying, mind you, but at Snowden for violating the law. O’Reilly’s current position is that while a hero, Snowden should be placed on trial and judged by a jury. Which is to say, he should be apprehended abroad, brought back in handcuffs and treated to the same benefits of the U.S. judicial system enjoyed by a Bradley Manning or a Guantanamo detainee.

He broke the law! He told us: “Any analyst at any time can target anyone.

“He took an oath,” thunders Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee (and thus someone complicit in the spying programs). What she means by this is that he broke his pledge, made when he became an employee of the CIA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton—which helps handle the massive effort to monitor all of us daily—to conceal any secrets he obtained as an employee. She is of course notreferring to the oath he made at the same time, to uphold the Constitution of the United States, which says very clearly that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”

Snowden has not merely revealed that the U.S. government has forced service providers Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple to share all their records with itself, in the form of meta-data that can only be accessed for content following the issuance of warrants from (secret) courts, in order to thwart real or imagined terrorist plots.

Read more...

Glen Greenwald shreds US govt/NSA disinformation machine

Glenn Greenwald Blasts MSNBC Host’s "Misleading White House Talking Points" About The NSA Leaks

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sniping Chokwe: reactionary hysteria amidst Jackson's elections

On the day of and in the week leading up to Jackson's elections, reactionary hysteria is being whipped up about candidate Chokwe Lumumba, a founding member of the revolutionary New Afrikan People's Organization (NAPO), who is running for mayor of Jackson as a part of the Jackson Kush Plan, a plan attempting to use a combination of mass movement of the people and radical left participation in elections to spark a Black liberation movement in the South of the United States. While Chokwe Lumumba was projected to win, a new endless tirade of reactionary media attacks have been launched: fliers targeted at radical Black neighborhoods claiming that Chokwe was a police informant, radio ads of Chokwe discussing religion, and more. Kasama will continue reporting on these events as they unfold. -Eric Ribellarsi

Update: Chokwe Lumumba has won this round of the elections, and now will almost certainly win the mayor position.

This article first appear on Jackson Free Press.

In the final hours of the Jackson mayoral election, a group called Citizens for a Better Jackson is making a push to beat back gains made by Ward 2 Councilman Chokwe Lumumba.

The political-action committee statement of organization lists longtime political operative Bob Hickingbottom as a director. Hickingbottom's PAC, which has not submitted a legally required campaign-financial disclosure report showing the group's political fundraising and spending, is running radio spots featuring a portion of a speech Lumumba gave in 2009 in which he expresses doubt in whether Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Reached this afternoon by phone, Hickingbottom refused an interview. "I'm out here today trying to vote and pick up my grandson and I'm just so doggone hot today and I'm just not up to it," Hickingbottom said, adding that he would speak to JFP editor Donna Ladd after the election.

In the radio ad, which a Jackson Free Press reporter heard Monday morning on BDAY 99.1, Lumumba states:

"Don't come down to Mississippi talking about organizing if you're not going to be able to work with church people because if you can't organize church people, then you're not going to organize Mississippi. Now I have enough sense to know what churches to go into. I had a discussion with my minister, and I said, 'I don't know if Christ died and rose again. That's not my thing. I'm not into that."

Read more...

Boston: It's Not a Chechen Thing

Why It's Not a Chechen Thing, But All About the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

What Motivated the Boston Bombers

New details emerge every day, raising more questions. But the outlines of the stomach-churning story seem clear. Two young men, brothers who emigrated from Kyrgyzstan twelve years ago with their parents and sisters—high-achieving, “well-assimilated” immigrant men—planted bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring well over 250. They killed an MIT campus policeman for no apparent reason, hijacked an SUV, engaged in a gunfight with police, and sowed citywide fear for five days. Both self-identified as Chechens, although neither grew up nor spent much time in the Russian republic of Chechnya; and as Muslims, although the older was the observant one, the younger a pot-smoking (maybe pot-dealing) Hennessey drinker. The older held a green card and had applied for U.S. citizenship but had been denied it.

How to define these men, and to describe the event? Let us step back and survey the big picture.

Racism and Islamophobia Shape the Coverage

The U.S. remains a deeply racist society, the nature of its racism always evolving, old targets forgotten, new targets found. The habit of hate does not diminish but merely seeks new objects. The “No Irish Need Apply” signs of the 1860s (here in my city of Boston) are a distant historical memory after the election of presidents of Irish descent. Young people in the Obama era can hardly imagine the Jim Crow laws in the South in effect to the 1960s. The Japanese-American internment camps of the 1940s are treated officially as a national shame. Old racisms survive of course (just consider the Black unemployment and incarceration rates) but new ones more energetically flourish. Especially since 9/11, Middle Eastern ethnicities have been popular targets. Hate crimes against people appearing to be of Middle Eastern origin quadrupled in the following year.

After the 9/11 attacks, it was not difficult for those promoting a U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq to win over the majority of people in this country. They were able to convince them that al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were in cahoots. They argued this based on contrived evidence too thin to persuade any critical mind, but that was not the point. The war-mongers knew they could rely on the (sometimes subconscious) racist reasoning: the attackers were Arabs, Saddam is an Arab, they all hate America, they must be working together to attack us, we must defend ourselves by preventative action. The plan worked, as it could not have if the “us vs. them,” essentializing anti-Arabism had not resonated somewhere deep in the American soul.

Most people in this country are unclear about the distinctions between Arabs, Iranians and Turks (the three major ethic groups in the Middle East), much less distinctions within the Arab nations. So when a “War on Terror” was declared, and targets as in fact dissimilar as al-Qaeda, Iraq, Yassir Arafat, Hamas, Hizbollah, Iran, Syria, a tiny faction of Iraqi Kurds, etc. lumped together and labeled “terrorist,” the way was paved, psychologically and ideologically, for ongoing war against anyone in the Middle East.  GIs in Iraq decorated their barracks with posters showing images of bin Laden alongside images with Saddam, linking them both to 9/11, urging the troops to see their occupation of Iraq as somehow retaliation for those attacks.

Read more...

Killer Police declare "Frozen Zone" in Brooklyn

The following is an excerpt from a report by Will, a member of Fire Next Time. Will  witnessed nights of protests in East Flatbush following the police killing of 16-year old Kimani “Kiki” Gray. His larger report appears  here. 


We hope to post more reports and information as we get them. And we urge everyone to express strong solidarity and find ways to take action to oppose the police repression and murder. Share with us your thoughts.

* * * * * * *

By Will

...The legend of the outside agitator has returned.... I was there at last night’s rebellion, and let me tell you: there were fewer then 10 white people involved in a rebellion of hundreds of young Black militants.  Last night was led by young Black militants. Period.

For hours, Black politicians and activists–many of them veterans of, or influenced by, the 1968 generation–yelled and berated the young people to keep the “peace” and “respect.” The NYC Black establishment brought its best efforts to bear in hopes of keeping the affair civil.  Crowds of Black men and women listened for almost two hours.  They were told that the keepers of the peace felt their pain, that they understood. There was silence from the crowd of angry faces.  The tension could be felt. The crowd had selected no spokesperson to respond, and none emerged organically in the moment. Will one emerge tonight?

At some point at night, the Black militants decided to march. No white people told them to march. As the march moved through the streets of Flatbush, it was Black militants who picked up bricks, cinder blocks, and beer bottles and threw them at the police.  There were almost no white and Latino or African American faces involved in this.  It was largely a Jamaican and Afro-Caribbean rebellion.

eastflatbush2

And perhaps that is the problem.  We need to flip the script of the outside agigator.   Are brothers and sisters from the Bronx outside agitators? The same people who are stopped and frisked in the Bronx become outside agitators to Jumanee Williams and his friends.   It is time for the rest of the NYC working class to jump in and get involved.  If the divisions of racialization are going to be broken down, white, Brown, and Black working class people must face the cops and go to jail together.  New solidarities must be built.  Now is the time for everyone who has felt the pain of the police to converge in Flatbush. Bring presents, bring your anger, and bring your running shoes.

The target has been the 67th Precinct all week, but we have not had enough forces to take it on.  All the crews across New York should converge in Flatbush and then march towards the 67th precinct.

eastflatbush1

...

During Occupy, hundreds of people joined up with Occupy the Hood in hopes of building movement in working class black and brown neighborhoods. Now the opportunity is here. Will those who identify with these goals come down on the side of the people in the streets, or toe the line of the politicians? Only they can decide.

Letter from Rashid: Drugged, beaten, and in grave danger

I was then confronted by a mob of guards in riot armor and gas masks with a large canister of gas and told to submit to handcuffs which I did. I was brought out of the holding cell and chained by my waist to a wall, where an argument ensued and the guards attacked me literally ripped off all my clothes, put me in a pair of underwear, strapped me into a restraint chair and wheeled me to the IMU disruptive unit (unit A), where I was dumped enraged into cell 07...

the medical staff literally tried to let me die. Their actions and attitudes made clear to me and the attending guards that they didn’t want me there because of my race. Not only did they do nothing to have the drugs disgorged from my stomach, they had me sit for two hours in a secluded room with no care, extracted only a small syringe of blood ahtough admittedly needing 3 large vials to conduct appropriate blood tests, then sent me back to the prison claiming there were no traces of pills in my system. The entire incident of me swallowing handsfull of pills was audio-video taped and confirmed by the riot armored guards who immediately removed me from the cell, including segeant Morthorst.

The following undated letter comes from Rashid, a revolutionary communist political prisoner. It includes confirmation past reports from another prisoner that Rashid was in fact drugged by the police, beaten, and intentionally denied access to healthcare. -eric r

“Keep this will need it to recollect everything. Also use it as factual basis for protest and help. I’ve begun writing this at 10:00pm on Feb. 9th 2013. At this moment I am severely dehydrated, tongue coated with white film. Staff refuse any monitoring of vital signs or care. Urine looks like rust water. kidney (left) hurts.

The following is a chronology of events leading to my present state. All are significant jointly and severally in revealing gross abuse and corruption here.

Jan. 28 (on or about) while exercising inside my cell I cut my groin area on loose nylon stitching from my pants and began bleeding heavily. On noticing the stinging sensation then, upon inspection, blood. I notified the unit guard N. Claudio who contacted medical staff. After a bit of back and forth wrangling I was taken to the SHU nursing station where a nurse (name unknown) inspected the laceration gave me a wad of gauze and ordered me given a shower. She also instructed me to keep the area clean and dry.

A couple nights later I caught the same nurse while she was passing out evening medication and got a small packet of antibacterial ointment from her.

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