Tag Archive: news

Riots work: Wolf Blitzer and the Washington Post completely missed the real lesson from Baltimore

Wolf Blitzer

The police—not to mention capitalism—have done far more to damage Baltimore than any riot could

From Salon/ By

When Oscar Grant was shot by transit cop Johannes Mehserle in Oakland in the early hours of January 1, 2009, a week passed with no institutional response, while videos of Grant’s murder spread on YouTube like a prairie fire. Then people rebelled, rioted, and took over the streets of Oakland twice—on January 7 and January 14—and just like that, and with the threat of another rebellion hanging heavily in the air, the mayor and the governor leaned on the Alameda County district attorney to bring charges.

When Mike Brown was gunned down by Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014, the community exploded in massive and sustained resistance on the streets. Aside from galvanizing public opinion and sparking a national movement against white supremacist policing, this street insurgency first forced the replacement of Ferguson PD by the St. Louis County Sheriff, and later bythe  state Highway Patrol, as well as prompting both a federal investigation and a grand jury considering—but ultimately rejecting—Wilson’s indictment for murder.

And when Freddie Gray died on April 19, 2015, after a week in a coma provoked by Baltimore City Police, we all know what happened next: in a wave of resistance rivaling Ferguson in the national attention it garnered, Black youth across Baltimore responded as directly as possible to those terrorizing their communities, in some cases chasing the “forces of order” out with bricks. After nearly a week of resistance—including the occupation of Baltimore by heavily-armed National Guard—Maryland state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby stepped into the fray, announcing charges against six officers and admitting that her hand had been forced by the streets: “To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America: I heard your call for ‘No justice, no peace.’”


Human Rights Groups and Environmentalists Oppose New Federal Prison on Abandoned Coal Mine in Kentucky

environmentHuman Rights Groups and Environmentalists Oppose New Federal Prison on Abandoned Coal Mine in Kentucky  

Organizations and individuals from across the country have joined the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) in filing a comment opposing a plan by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to build a new federal correctional facility in the Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky. The comment, filed on Monday pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), addresses multiple issues related to a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that analyses two potential locations for constructing the largest federal prison in the region—both on former coal mining sites.

The public comment, which can be read in its entirety here, follows several years of controversy surrounding this project in a rural region where the prison industry has made many unfulfilled promises of economic prosperity to local communities.

The comment provides a thorough analysis of the impact of the proposed facility siting and addresses social, economic and ecological concerns, including: (more…)

Seven Ways to Support People in Prison

For many people behind bars books are a sanity-saver.

For many people behind bars books are a sanity-saver.

From Waging Non Violence/ By Victoria Law

I recently received a letter from a person asking how to get involved with supporting women in prison. The return address was from a small town that takes up 2.4 square miles and has approximately 14,000 residents. As far as the letter writer knew, there were no organizations — or even individual advocates — working around these issues nearby. The letter reminded me that not everyone is blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) enough to live in a city with opportunities to get involved in advocacy or direct support.

So what are some ways to support people behind bars if you’re not near any existing organizations or grassroots groups? Here are seven places to start: (more…)

Kitchen fire closes Hillsborough Jail; no one hurt

Everything Is Awesome!

Everything Is Awesome!

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (AP) — Officials say more than 200 inmates have had to move out of a minimum-security North Carolina prison in Hillsborough after the prison’s kitchen caught fire.

State Department of Public Safety spokesman Keith Acree said no one was injured in the fire early Saturday morning at the Orange Correctional Center, and the blaze did not make it to the areas where inmates live.

Acree says the prison had to be closed because the fire left no way to feed inmates. About 180 of the 216 prisoners were taken to the Johnston Correctional Institution in Smithfield. The rest were in disciplinary segregation and were spread across several other prisons.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined.

Acree didn’t know how long it will take to repair or rebuild the prison’s kitchen.

Shocking police overreach haunts Durham: Racial profiling, quotas and secret “conviction bonuses”

handcuffed-620x412How a federal grant incentivized a police department to go nuts on drug arrests — and terrorize its community

From Salon

In the late afternoon of Jan. 3, Robin Dean, a 50-year-old county employee, pulled into a Durham, N.C., Burger King parking lot to give a friend a package of frozen chitlins that she had cooked over the holidays. After the transfer was complete, the pair said goodbye and parted ways. Both were subsequently pulled over by Durham Police.

Dean says an officer told her that there was evidence that she had just engaged in an illegal drug transaction, searched her car without her consent, and called for backup. When Dean worried aloud that she had been racially profiled, she says the white officer called her an “idiot,” although the nearly hour-long stop revealed nothing illegal apart from a window-tinting violation that was later dismissed.

In recent years, stories like this have come to epitomize heightened concerns that, as Durham becomes a regional center for sophisticated culture and cuisine, the drug enforcement strategies of its police increasingly assign second-class status to the city’s minority communities. Over the past several months, protesters alleging police misconduct have pummeled the city’s police headquarters with rocks and met tear gas along the usually amiable streets of this city of 240,000.

In seeking to understand the roots of the city’s divisive policing, lawyers at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice were astonished by what a recent round of public records requests produced. Not only was a federal grant subsidizing what they regarded as the most perniciously targeted drug enforcement operations of the department, but the grant — with a key “performance measure” emphasizing police report their sheer volume of arrests — also appeared to be incentivizing the department to raise its overall number of drug arrests, which overwhelmingly affect the city’s black community. SCSJ attorneys add that recently revealed evidence also indicates that the federally funded program included an illegal system of secret payments law enforcement made to witnesses who delivered successful drug prosecutions — another sign, they say, that the city’s policing has flown off the rails. (more…)

Pharmacy won’t provide lethal drug for Missouri execution

Revamped lethal injection room at San Quentin State Prison supplied by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Revamped lethal injection room at San Quentin State Prison supplied by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

From RT

An Oklahoma pharmacy has agreed not to supply compounded pentobarbital for an upcoming execution in Missouri, following a lawsuit filed by the convict arguing the substance is likely to cause “ultimately inhumane pain.”

The lawsuit was filed by Michael Taylor, whose execution is scheduled for February 26 and who alleged that Missouri could obtain the lethal drug – pentobarbital – from the Apothecary Shoppe of Tulsa.

A federal judge ruled last week that the pharmacy must suspend the supply of the drug to Missouri until further review. The Apothecary Shoppe chose to settle the case out of court.

The Apothecary Shoppe has agreed that it will not prepare or provide pentobarbital or any other drug for use in the execution of Michael Taylor,” Carrie Apfel, Taylor’s attorney, said in a written statement, according to St Louis Public Radio. She also said the pharmacy had not sold any drugs to the Department of Corrections for this execution yet.

The settlement comes as US states which implement capital punishment face a growing shortage of lethal substances, following the 2011 decision by the EU to stop altogether the sale and export to the US of drugs that could potentially be used for executions. (more…)

Report: Nearly all drug defendants “forced” to plead guilty

Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill

Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill

97 percent of drug defendants forgo their right to trial and plead out. HRW highlights undue prosecutorial power

from Salon

“It is very clear that prosecutors control the criminal justice system through their charging and plea bargaining powers,” wrote Angela Davis last year, commenting on the fact that 95 percent of defendants in criminal case forego their day in court and opt instead to plead guilty. Buoyed by mandatory minimum sentence laws, prosecutors hold undue power and leverage in the U.S. judicial system.

A new report from Human Rights Watch released Thursday bears out Davis’ point precisley. “Federal prosecutors routinely threaten extraordinarily severe prison sentences to coerce drug defendants into waiving their right to trial and pleading guilty,” the human rights group found. Looking specifically at drug cases (the primary filler of brimming U.S. prisons), the HRW report found that “only 3 percent of U.S. drug defendants in federal cases chose to go to trial.”

The right to trial, in the face of prosecutorial bargaining power, is de facto obliterated. What, after all, is a right if recourse to it appears as no option at all? HRW goes as far as to say that drug defendants — often caught for minor offenses — are “forced” to plead guilty when prosecutors present the risk of years in prison as the alternative. (more…)

Court Affirms Contempt Judgment for Jerry Koch

jerryby Dena Aubin / Reuters

A federal appeals court has upheld a contempt judgment against a self-described anarchist who refused to testify before a grand jury thought to be investigating a 2008 bomb explosion in New York’s Times Square.

Gerald Koch, 24, of Brooklyn was sent to jail in May after being found in civil contempt for refusing to testify, citing his rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

He was ordered held in federal custody for no longer than 18 months or the remaining life of the grand jury. (more…)

Mail Your Move Marie Letter in by November 25th

movemarieFrom Free Marie Mason

We’ve seen a great outpouring of support for Marie since the Move Marie campaign launched in October.  Events across the country and even the world have been organized, publishers such as AK Press and Burning Books have been sending out postcards with orders, bookfairs and other events have been gathering and mailing signed postcards to the BOP.  The response has been moving and powerful.

We’re calling now for those of you who haven’t yet sent in a letter, to do so by November 25th.  After this final push of sending letters demanding that Marie be moved, we’ll be entering into the next phase of the campaign.

Below is the address to send all letters to, and a sample letter. Please remain firm but polite in your communications with the BOP. (more…)

Jeremy Hammond Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison

jeremyhammondFrom Huffington Post

NEW YORK — Convicted hacker Jeremy Hammond was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison for stealing internal emails from the global intelligence firm Stratfor.

During the hearing, he claimed in a defiant sentencing statement that his acts were meant to expose the truth and that he hacked foreign government websites at the behest of an FBI informant.

“The acts of civil disobedience and direct action that I am being sentenced for today are in line with the principles of community and equality that have guided my life,” Hammond said in a prepared statement provided to HuffPost Live. “I took responsibility for my actions, by pleading guilty, but when will the government be made to answer for its crimes?” (more…)