Archive for the ‘Prison Industrial Complex’ Category

By Emma Rosenthal

none of us
us all
everyone’s story
under the boot
on the edge of town
at the end of the line
behind closed doors
in cattle cars
hidden in alleyways
cast into the wilderness
and shallow graves
underground passages
black site gulags
penal colonies
erasing us
erases you
we are not
the ones who
cannot count

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Emma Rosenthal, MacArthur Park, Rampart Division-LAPD, Los Angeles

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you today at this October 22 demonstration against police brutality on the theme, Resistance Matters,  focusing on a segment of EVERY community– people with dis-abilites.

People with dis-abilities are specifically targeted by police for abuse and brutality.

People who are deaf, unable to heed orders they do not hear, unable to communicate with authority, often are killed or battered by a system that doesn’t take their communication needs into consideration.

People with visible dis-abilities attract the attention of bullies, including the bullies in blue who know that there are no consequences for our ostracism or victimization.

People who appear, walk, talk differently are often singled out, accused of being drunk, and often have trouble with law enforcement because of both misunderstandings and the outright hostility toward us, by the police.

People with mental health conditions come in contact with police on the street, when our behavior doesn’t conform to society’s expectations, or when police are called to respond to medical emergencies.

Homelessness and prisons ARE our society’s mental health care system.

Police often respond to medical psychiatric emergencies with brutal and often deadly force, claiming they felt that they were in imminent danger.

Imagine if health care providers said they had to kill a patient because the patient’s condition threatened the lives of health care professionals.

It is the job of health care providers to treat people who are ill. We must demand no less of emergency personnel, including police, when answering a call for medical emergencies.


There is a nexus of gender, class and race with dis-ability, compounding our experience with authorities. We are part of every community, not a separate group, or geographic. There is no organization or outreach that can fully succeed without our full inclusion. You cannot address the issue of police brutality without also addressing the role of people with dis-abilities in the struggle for social justice.

Yet many social justice organizations don’t include people with dis-abilities fully, in addressing many social justice issues, and often perpetuate attitudes and policies that contribute to our marginalization.

You can’t defend our rights without our participation, our full participation. Nothing about us, without us. Working on our behalf without us, simply appropriates our exploitation in the service of rhetoric.

A movement that isn’t informed by the victims perpetuates the abuse. Planning that does not take our specific needs and issues into consideration often puts us in significant danger. Too often event security responds to us in much the same way that the state does.  I have been at demonstrations where the event coordinators did as much to endanger us, as the police do. This must be changed, this must be challenged.

We cannot fight a system by replicating its attitudes & practices. We cannot demand from society what we cannot also create among ourselves.

Expectations of people with dis-abilities merge with issues of race/gender and class to increase marginalization via expectations of behavior.

Thinking of people with dis-abilities as aberrant, undesirable, non-contributing and a burden have no place in the movement, these are capitalist attitudes.

Dis-ability rights isn’t charity. nothing short of full inclusion is justice. It is not your place to “help” us, but rather to work with us, to include us in ways that inform praxis.

It is NOT our job to make you comfortable with out conditions.

It is NOT our job to find our own way into your organizations.

It is NOT our job to say what you want to hear, and to leave our particular needs and experience out of the discussion.

Dis-ability inclusion is the collective responsibility of the entire community. 


Additionally, agents of repression know to use dis-ability to divide the movement, like they use gender & race; by relying on our own prejudice & bigotry.

Infiltrators use ridicule of people with dis-abilities. Police have been known to “street: us into demonstrations to provoke an angry crowd that knows we are acceptable targets.

These divisive tactics don’t work when we check ourselves, our own entitlements that mask as privileges that defeat us all. We cannot build a sincere movement w/o including the most marginalized sectors, and we cannot address police brutality by ignoring its specific nexus with dis-abilty .


It must also be  recognized that police not only target people with dis-abilities for abuse, but also, in their brutality, create dis-ability, leaving those who survive, injured and traumatized. Let us honor those comrades wounded in the struggle, injured by capitalism, with ramps, sign language & voice, as well as make room for all activists into the future, as any one of us can become a person with a dis-ability, at any time.

No more excuses. These are matters of resistance because resistance matters.

So, let us build the strongest resistance to police brutality and state hegemony by ever increasing the circle, by standing, sitting, signing, rolling arm in arm in solidarity, a strong movement that cannot afford to leave anyone behind, a movement that needs everyone’s voice, everyone’s story.

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By Emma Rosenthal

One might assume that natural disasters are “beyond politics”.  Certainly the massive, popular rush to donate to victims of disasters indicates as such.  But where that money goes, how it is used and who receives services in general is highly political.  Politics and power informs much of the resource distribution and policy in a variety of disasters including evacuation plans in fire zones inhabited by some of California’s wealthiest residents, and the  decisions of which communities to save from the blaze;  building integrity in earthquake zones, and evacuation and shelter planning during these disasters.  In many cases, media and social service agencies put the care of pets over the care of entire human populations, many of whom not only are left on their own, but are left confined to inescapable conditions.

As people use their own personal resources (to the extent that they have them), to batten down the hatches, and people with renters or homeowners insurance find shelter at fine hotels, more marginalized populations face dire circumstances, as they fall through (and get stuffed in) the cracks of the failing infrastructure.

The following links provide information for and about some of the more vulnerable and targeted populations, the discarded sisters and brothers of our collective human family.



As Hurricane Irene approaches the East Coast of the US, we urge all of our members and other people living with disabilities in states that may be impacted by this dangerous storm to be prepared.


‎‎”‎”We are not evacuating Rikers Island,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference this afternoon…
According to the New York City Department of Corrections’ own website, more than three-quarters of Rikers Island’s 400 acres are built on landfill–which is generally thought to be more vulnerable to natural disasters. Its ten jails have a capacity of close to 17,000 inmates, and normally house at least 12,000, including juveniles and large numbers of prisoners with mental illness–not to mention pre-trial detainees who have yet to be convicted of any crime. There are also hundreds of corrections officers at work on the island.”




From North Carolina to New York City, thousands of people have already evacuated their homes to escape Hurricane Irene’s path. Among them are transgender people who, like others, don’t have anywhere else to turn to except for evacuation shelters.”
some of the problems facing people with dis-abilities (pwds) during california wild fires.http://www.nobodyleftbehind2.org/speakout/speakout1.shtml


One in five Americans lives with a disability. 1 Each month one or more communities, which include residents with disabilities are working to recover from a natural or man-made (sic) disaster.


New York City Mayor Bloomberg has announced that in the event of a hurricane, that he will not evacuate prisoners at Rikers’ Island, claiming instead to have a “contingency plan” in place. The experience of prisoners in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina shows that city authorities will abandon the basic rights of prisoners in the face of disaster.


Emergency Shelters. Shelter information is available through the Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder at www.NYC.gov/hurricanezones or by calling 311 (TTY: 212-204-4115). This site is overwhelmed and may take time to access. We are attaching a list of shelters. There are 91 emergency shelters.We are advised by OEM that the shelters are accessible and will have accessible toilets, cots, etc.We have not been advised what arrangements have been made for ASL interpreters at shelters.”


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Art and activism


What you can do!


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andy and i were coming home from grocery shopping this evening and our street, right by our house was blocked off by at least 5 lapd police cars who had surrounded one of my neighbors, a young man; one of their favorite “usual suspects.” no one else was out on the street. a few cars were behind us, also waiting to get through. upon our approach, one of the police cars shined his light directly into our eyes and blinked the low beams. we were given no instructions. i got out of my car, sure to make both hands visible and walked toward the gathering of more than 7 officers. one approached me and told me they were having a “friendly chat” with my neighbor (stating his name) and that they were “old friends.” he continued to tell me that they weren’t arresting anyone and that nothing had happened.
“do you always handcuff your “old friends” when you chat with them?” i asked.

i stood on the sidewalk, watching (women can get away with this much more then men can– andy, 6 ft tall, and rather hefty, stayed in the car!)

when the officer came over to me and told me the street was clear, andy drove the car home, and i walked past the gathering of officers and neighbor, asked him if he needed anything, and stood at my gate. one of the officers suggested i move on. “i’m just hanging out in front of my home on a pleasant evening” i told him. i waited until my neighbor was released, i signaled to him and he followed me into our home until the danger was gone. we made sure he got to his home safely.

our security cameras of course, caught the whole thing!!!! (we installed them because of the political stalking we’ve experienced. it had never occurred to me that the cameras would also provide for the safety of the rest of the community under police siege.)

eight cops, 5 cars, and according to my neighbor, they told him they were introducing him to the new cops on the beat, and felt they needed to hand cuff him for their safety.

los angeles is struggling with a terrible financial crisis. is this an appropriate use of city funds? do the math. eight cops, at least a half hour of man hours each, to provide for a most unnecessary introduction, to create a most outrageous provocation, and establish a police presence on a street with almost no crime.

like most days, today, the helicopters continued over head regularly, including two military helicopters. often these ghetto birds pass so low, they shake the buildings. another neighbor says his daughters cry at night because the noise scares them.

rampart division of the lapd is one of the most brutal divisions of one of the most brutal police departments. most of the men in my neighborhood have been criminalized, either by discriminatory immigration laws or by a system that is unforgiving of the excesses of youth. these young men don’t have the lawyers or the connections of their counterparts in angelino heights, west l.a., brentwood. pulled over for walking down the street, frisked regularly as children, from the time their bodies took on a manly form, ticketed, taken in, penalized for the smallest infraction and set in the system for life.

i know these men. they are my neighbors. some have helped with the urban farm, others are construction workers who worked with me, transforming this old, neglected slum of a duplex into two beautiful homes. they watch over this street– a strangely peaceful place in a brutal large amerikan city. they aren’t who the police say they are. they aren’t the accumulation of whatever youthful transgressions they may have committed. they aren’t the sum of the limitations of options for city youth.

there was no cause for this show of force. there was no need even for the introduction. there was no legitimate reason to utilize so much of a failing city’s resources. there certainly was no explanation (beyond the daily harassment and the establishment of police presence) for shining the light into our eyes or closing off the street!!!!

on this street we look after each other. it isn’t safe to call the cops.

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Emma’s Notes (Joaquin’s message to follow)

One of the most important lessons of my early activism: when i was 16, working in the dc boycott house, which attracted a number of activists from a variety of tendencies, came from a veteran black panther, named paul (i forget his last name.) he left the house one night when people started passing around a joint. — naive enough (and lucky enough) not to consider the consequences to the entire movement, had we been caught in the boycott house with that material. later he told me he left because it was his policy never to provide a pretext for the police. his advice really stayed with me and i am sure, in my years of activism has kept me out of a lot of trouble, including a recently served search warrant on our home, where no drugs, weapons or other evidence of illegality were found. (these intrusion have the chilling effect on one’s activism that they are intended to have, and at least in our case found a period of private reflection and isolation was necessary. we too have had to hold back from issuing a statement, but expect to very soon, necessitated even more by the gossip and opportunism of alleged progressives, who having found out about this very private experience, took it upon themselves to use our situation to their own small political advantage.) serious activists must practice revolutionary discipline, which i think is what joaquin means when he says he would not have a loaded gun, that that is what he would do differently. these are the small errors that can have huge consequences. not that he did anything ethically wrong, just that as activist, we are under such scrutiny that we have to maintain a level of legality (to the extent possible without compromising real struggle) that other citizens might not. (any difference of opinion i may have with him about the decision to use guns in his battle with the state, are tactical, not ethical. to consider it an ethical decision, is to ignore the immense power of the apparatus we are up against, and its incredible fire power.) we also experienced the betrayal of members of the movement: (an extension of the sell out to zionist pressure within the teachers’ union, several years ago.) to attempt to keep andy from speaking up for human rights, even when it raises issues (such as palestinian human rights) that make people uncomfortable or expose divisions and at the very lease, demand dialogue. it is truly the difference between liberal, feel good, guilt based politics, and movements for real and profound revolutionary change. it is a sad reflection on members of the “left” that they would determine their support of joaquin based on his decision to carry a gun, even more hypocritical since such a decision is also a constitutional right, a legal right. in a city where the police notoriously violate human rights, in a country, the belly of the beast, the most powerful military in the world, a left that repeatedly “honors the troops” finds fault with an activist for possession of one weapon, one legal weapon. it is the romanticization of activism, and an extreme double standard: the romanticization of armed struggle when it is far away, or in the past, or focuses on a cult hero. one wonders, do they forget that nelson mandela, che guevara, fidel castro, malcolm x all used and carried weapons? are malcolm and che more than t-shirt logos? it is a double standard to call for supporting the troops or celebrating and approving obama as commander in chief of the largest imperial military force the world has known, and simultaneously not support our own comrades in the streets of los angeles when targeted by the police state apparatus? if it was wrong for joaquin to carry a gun in his trunk, what about the weapons carried by the agents of repression that searched and seized his car and arrested him? what about the huge arsenals of the u.s. military, or the military power and brutality of israel, the largest client state of the u.s. empire? do these liberals underestimate, fail to understand the attack on our own communities, as well as indigenous communities around the world (including the palestinians, who not the cause du jour, were expendable when personal prestige and power would have been the only casualty to liberal activists?) the daily violence committed by the state against the people, on so many levels: health care, education, social services, incarceration, housing or that these deficiencies kill more than guns? is activism any more than a game of prestige, awards ceremonies and board of directors positions? do they understand that their petty gossip can cost lives, can also kill, their lack of discipline, of personalization becomes a powerful weapon too? -=in service to the state, the apparatus they claim they want to deconstruct? in solidarity,

Emma Rosenthal Cafe Intifada!


A Reflection on “the Left” and my Arrest

by Joaquin Cienfuegos

I wanted to write this piece to update people on my arrest for the felony “Unlawful Possession of an Assault Riffle” case and to share with people my position on the entire matter. I wanted to send this out sooner but people would like to use this position paper against me, but I feel like the reflection is necessary regardless. I also want to take some time to reflect on other things that I’ve been thinking about regarding the movement as a whole.

 I am currently completing 200 hours of community service and one year summary probation (if I complete my community service within one year, otherwise I will do two years summary probation). Part of the deal they gave me was that they kept my legally purchased semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle, and destroy it. They also dropped my felony charge to a misdemeanor: possession of a loaded weapon. I took this deal due to the fact that there was a chance if I lost this case I would do 19 months to 3 years in a state penitentiary. Even though my position has always been that we need to organize where we are at, from the street block to the cell block, I have too many responsibilities in my community, including my priority at this point which is my family responsibilities. Therefore I rather not risk being captured by the state and go behind enemy lines in their prisons. I took this deal and I am continuing to organize with the Revolutionary Autonomous Communities and Cop Watch Los Angeles – Guerrilla Chapter.

I should also start by thanking everyone who supported me in this legal battle, those who helped bail me out, and those who helped raise the money to pay the folks back that lent us money to bail me out. We were able to raise 2,000 dollars, thanks to individual donations from people, events at universities (like Cal State Northridge and Cal State Humboldt). We also thought that we would have to raise most of the money a the 1st Annual Los Angeles Anarchist Bookfair, but thankfully the funds were raised before then. The money raised at the bookfair went to the Southern California Library, the Bookfair Collective (for next year’s bookfair), Anarchist People Of Color in L.A., and to start a defense fund. Currently I’m still paying off my lawyer, and hoping we can continue to build on a defense strategy and fund, because we understand this is the nature of the state, and until we get rid of it, those with institutional power will continue to repress the movement. The majority of the support I received came from anarchists internationally, and that I am grateful for. Thank you for the world of support comrades. People of color in the U.S. as well gave a great deal of love, during the time of my arrest and legal battle.

 I think that my arrest raised a lot of important questions, and it seemed like the dividing line for some activists was the fact that I had a gun. The question was why did I have a loaded semi-automatic weapon on me. A lot of liberals did not support me because of this reason, but personally my life is more precious than the support of liberals and gun-control leftists. The facts were that the police stopped me because they profiled me, it is legal to carry a weapon in the trunk of your vehicle, I just happened to have it loaded. This is probably the only thing I would have changed, I would have kept the ammunition separate from the rifle. The police searched my car illegally, and try to put a felony charge on me (by saying that this rifle is illegal in California, even though it was legally purchased at a Outdoors’ store). They couldn’t pin this on me so they dropped it to a misdemeanor, “possession of a loaded weapon.” During the investigation they brought a weapons expert who had only looked at pictures and claimed it was an assault rifle and they tried to find out if I had links to any gangs in Los Angeles.

This really made me reflect on many things. I don’t think it matters if you say you’re a leftist, progressive, or whatever, if you intend to side with the state and do the job of the police. When there are people who are coming under attack, not just me, but all the other political prisoners who have done years and decades, and you have these activists siding with the state on whether they might have done something wrong. First of all, this is a settler-colonialist system, and doesn’t have the authority to try us because this system is not legitimate in my opinion. When in Los Angeles last year the law enforcement agencies killed over 40 people, we have to begin to realize that they have waged war on indigenous, people of color/colonized people, and this genocidal war has been going on for 500 years really. So when the police have the right to murder any of us and get away with it, how is it wrong for anyone to carry a registered weapon? So it doesn’t matter if anyone is from the left or from the right, what matters is who gets in the way of the oppressed when fighting for a better world, and in the way of the people taking their lives and communities back. There are many people who are doing the work of the police, snitching, informing, and straight just being busters by siding with the enemies of the people, who rather commit acts of violence against the people than defend them. That is what is now called horizontal violence, and this is something we have to deal with as well.

 People should arm themselves legally, politically, and with an understanding that we are trying not to create a culture of the gun, but this is only one tactic in self-defense of our people and our community. Unfortunately, it is a necessary element in the survival of our communities and peoples at this point. I have to agree with Franz Fanon, “Violence, is a cleansing force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his despair and inaction; it makes him fearless and restores his self-respect.” Again, to me it self-defense is a necessary tactic in safe guarding our communities and our people from the state. When a community is building anything that poses a real threat to the state and the system, they will try to destroy it. So the communes will need to set up people’s militias and other mechanisms to protect itself from the fascists (learning from the Spanish Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and even just from our own experiences with the Counter Intelligence Program and the Patriot Act).

 Also to speak to the fact that maybe we do pose a threat, not only to the state but to some organizations who are in bed with the state. This has become clear to me, on several occassions, which includes May Day 2007. Where some of those organizations came out and blamed Cop Watch L.A., the youth and anarchists, for the police repression, similar to the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago in 1886 (the first May Day, where eight anarchist organizers were blamed for police murder and repression). These organizations (mainstream non-profits and non-governmental organizations), play the role of house-slaves in the movement today. Their organizing is done in a way that is suitable for the state and poses no threat to the oppressive system as a whole. To keep their position and be in good with their masters, these organizations side with the state in isolating the more radical youth, anarchists, and “problem activists.” To keep their status as a large non-profits with good funding, they work with the state in keeping tabs on thes radical youth organizations. They speak of immigration reform that leaves out these same youth who are being targeted by the police, and work with the state as well as developers to further gentrify communities of color.

 I personally saw how the system works from inside the Los Angeles County Jail, and it was enough time to realize that we have a lot of work to do internally. This is a bigger challenge to me, than convincing people on why I had a rifle inside the trunk of my car. As a revolutionary I do think I have to be more careful, but to paraphrase Ricardo Flores Magon, “We Revolutionary Anarchists have to be Outlaws,” we have fight these injustices at all cause even and that means breaking the laws that are put in place to keep us in control and in check. Their oppressive institutions which have no place in our communities are also legitimate targets in my opinion. > This is a challenge on anyone who wants to create a better world.

Always in Struggle.

Autonomy, Land and Liberty.

All Power Through the People.

*Recently I was stopped by the North East Division of the Los Angeles Police Department for not having a light on the plates of my car, they pulled me out and handcuffed me and asked me if I had any M-16’s in the car. They then searched my car, and did not find any “drugs or weapons,” but told me they could arrest me. They released me then but impounded my car, even though I had an abstract from court saying I can drive. It seems like they ran my plates and saw my previous arrest, so they profiled me based on that. They did search my back pack, and saw fliers for the organizations I am part of. This happened on Wednesday, April 08, 2009

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“I am the only one here because I cannot go home- you are all being deported home, I am denied home”
-Laila el Haddad
Laila el Haddad’s Update
from twitter.com/gazamom
After 36 hours of being held at Cairo Airport, where she was repeatedly
interrogated and given contradictory information as to what would
happen, Laila el Haddad and her two children are now being deported to
the US via London. They were put on a flight at 7 a.m. this morning.
Laila's US visa has expired, so it is likely that the family's ordeal is
not yet over.
Noor and Yousuf appear to be fine as far as the situation allows, but
the family is exhausted.

Here are Laila's latest posts.

thank you everyone for your support- I thought I could get in, I
exhausted all options. They said I needed security clearance (to go home)

i don't think I have ever gone such a long stretch with no sleep. I am
beginning to halluciate.
getting ready for deportation trip back to US via London. should be
interesting explaining this to US immigration. the saga continues.

i was asked by men in holding cell what I did to be in there, I said "I
was born Palestinian"

favorite line by egyptian mockiccer: "honestly, we did not get any sleep
over your orrdeal, we feel for you, really we do"unfortunately could not
film there; though could have tried to hide my flip. oh well.

I told everyone in the detention room I am the only one here because I
cannot go home- you are all being deported home, I am denied home

then they said "its very uncomfortable isn't it? we do'nt mind keeping
you there you know"

took my laptop and cameras; everyone was called on by country; 5 south
asians were "Pakistan"; Guneaian was "Kenya"; another was Indonesia i
was placed in a detention room with 17 others for 3 hours then taken to
a room and asked "if that's what I wanted for the forseable future

2009/4/8 s

Laila and her children Yousuf and Noor have been stuck at Cairo airport
since around 10a.m. Laila’s family and friends have tried to contact
anyone they could think of to get them to help. At one point, the
Egyptian foreign minister and the Palestinian Minister of Interior were
involved, but it seems they were unable to let her out of the airport.
Though Egyptian authorities apparently continue threatening the three
with deportation to the US and in fact said they wanted her out of the
airport tonight, airport staff has also asked whether she would like
them to build a shelter for them at the airport. The three are bracing
themselves for a longer stay.

Laila’s visa for the US has ended and she was planning to renew her visa
in Beirut, where she was going to meet her husband, a US citizen and a
Palestinian refugee who is denied his right to return to Palestine by
Israel. Before going to Beirut, Laila wanted to visit her home in Gaza.
Since Israeli authorities have closed all points of entry to the Gaza
Strip under its control, the only route to Gaza left for Laila is
through the Egyptian side of Rafah. Rafah is also temporarily closed,
and apparently Egyptian authorities have been claiming that they had
orders not to allow Palestinian residents into the country as long as
Rafah is closed. Laila is carrying a letter signed by the Egyptian
consulate in the US explaining that she is travelling to renew her visa,
but Egyptian authorities at Cairo airport are unimpressed. According to
Laila, they told her “So sue him!”

Laila’s daughter Noor is one year old, Yousuf is five years old.
Laila el Haddad, is the writer of the blog, Raising Yussef and Nour

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There will be a book release/birthday party for
Mumia and to free all political prisoners on
Saturday, April 25, 5-7 pm at the Southern
California Library for Social Studies, 6120 S
Vermont, L.A. We must continue to mobilize for
Mumia and all political prisoners, and against
the death penalty. We will be showing "In Prison
All My Life" a new British documentary about
Mumia, will have copies of the book for sale,
will be signing birthday cards to send to Mumia
and planning further action. Updates on other
political prisoners including the SF8, Puerto Rican POWs, etc.

From: MUMIA ABU-JAMAL <nattyreb@gmail.com>
Subject: !*Supreme Court lets Mumia Abu-Jamal's Conviction Stand
Date: Mon, 6 Apr 2009 13:40:06 -0400
Reply-To: nattyreb@gmail.com
X-Topica-Id: <1239039617.inmta009.6849.1280741>
List-Help: <http://topica.com/lists/mumiacolumns@topica.com/>
List-Unsubscribe: <mailto:mumiacolumns-unsubscribe@topica.com>

  via:  Sis. Fatirah

According to this article just released, the US
Supreme Court announced that they will not give
further consideration to Mumia's appeal for a new
guilt-phase trial (in legalese, they won't grant
his "Petition for a Writ of Certiorari")

However, it also says that the US Supreme Court
may still consider the DA's appeal to re-instate
the death penalty without a new sentencing hearing!

This is another terribly dark day for justice in this country!

Hans Bennett

Supreme Court lets Mumia Abu-Jamal's conviction stand
By Bill Mears
CNN Supreme Court Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court has let
stand the conviction of former Black Panther
Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was sent to death row for
gunning down a Philadelphia police officer 28 years ago.

He contends blacks were unfairly excluded from
the jury, and has been an outspoken activist from behind bars.

The justices made their announcement Monday.

A separate appeal over whether Abu-Jamal deserves
a new sentencing hearing has not been taken up by the high court.

Prosecutors are appealing a federal appeals court
ruling in Abu-Jamal's favor last year on the
sentencing issue. The case has attracted
international attention amid charges of
prosecutorial misconduct and the inmate's outspoken personality.

Abu-Jamal, a former radio reporter and cab driver
has been a divisive figure, with many prominent
supporters arguing that racism pervaded his
trial. Others countered Abu-Jamal is using his
skin color to escape responsibility for his
actions. They say he has divided the community
for years with his provocative writing and activism.

He was convicted for the December 9, 1981, murder
of Officer Daniel Faulkner, 25, in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. Faulkner had pulled over
Abu-Jamal's brother in a late-night traffic stop.
Witnesses said Abu-Jamal, who was nearby, ran
over and shot the policeman in the back and in the head.

Abu-Jamal, once known as Wesley Cook, was also
wounded in the encounter and later confessed to
the killing, according to other witnesses testimony.

Abu-Jamal is black and the police officer was white.

Incarcerated for nearly three decades, Abu-Jamal
has been an active critic of the criminal justice system.

On a Web site created by friends to promote the
release this month of his new book, the
prisoner-turned-author writes about his fight.
"This is the story of law learned, not in the
ivory towers of multi-billion dollar endowed
universities but in the bowels of the slave-ship,
in the hidden, dank dungeons of America."

His chief defense attorney, Robert Bryan, had
urged the justices to grant a new criminal trial,
but the high court offered no explanation for its refusal to intervene.

"The central issue in this case is racism in jury
selection," Bryan wrote to supporters last month.
Ten whites and two blacks made up the original
jury panel that sentenced Abu-Jamal to death.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court
of Appeals a year ago kept the murder conviction
in place, but ordered a new capital sentencing
hearing. That court ultimately concluded the jury
was improperly instructed on how to weigh
"mitigating factors" offered by the defense that
might have kept Abu-Jamal off death row.

Pennsylvania law at the time said jurors did not
have to unanimously agree on a mitigating
circumstance, such as the fact that Abu-Jamal had no prior criminal record.

Months before that ruling, oral arguments on the
issue were contentious. Faulkner's widow and
Abu-Jamal's brother attended, and demonstrations
on both sides were held outside the courtroom in downtown Philadelphia.

Many prominent groups and individuals, including
singer Harry Belafonte, the NAACP and the
European Parliament, are cited on his Web site as
supporters. Prosecutors have insisted Abu-Jamal
pay the price for his crimes, and have
aggressively resisted efforts to take him of death row for Faulkner's murder.

"This assassination has been made a circus by
those people in the world and this city who
believe falsely that Mumia Abu-Jamal is some kind
of a folk hero," said Philadelphia District
Attorney Lynne Abraham last year, when the
federal appeals court upheld the conviction. "He
is nothing short of an assassin."



The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

Audio of most of Mumia's essays are at: http://www.prisonradio.org

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New York Times

September 13, 2008

Death Penalty Is Upheld in Publicized Georgia Case

ATLANTA — A Georgia parole board on Friday upheld the death sentence of a man convicted of killing a Savannah police officer in 1989, despite a group of witnesses who recanted their testimonies against the convict.

It was the second time in two years that the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency for the man, Troy A. Davis, despite his lawyers’ claims of police misconduct.

Mr. Davis, 39, is scheduled to die by lethal injection in Jackson, Ga., on Sept. 23, unless the United States Supreme Court agrees to hear an appeal.

A county jury in 1991 convicted Mr. Davis in the 1989 murder of Mark Allen MacPhail, an off-duty police officer moonlighting as a security guard who was shot to death while responding to a late-night fight at a Burger King in Savannah.

Mr. Davis testified he was at a nearby pool hall and left before Officer MacPhail arrived. The prosecution offered no murder weapon, DNA or fingerprints tying Mr. Davis to the killing but instead relied heavily on testimony from witnesses. Since the trial, seven key witnesses have recanted, saying they were bullied by investigators into lying under oath.

The case has received international publicity; 20,000 people signed petitions asking that Mr. Davis be spared the death penalty.

“Troy’s case represents everything wrong with the death penalty — from procedural obstacles to racial bias to witness mishandling to inadequate counsel,” said Jared Feuer of Amnesty International.

The head of the Southern Center for Human Rights, Stephen B. Bright, a law professor at Yale, called the decision “shocking.”

“For somebody to be executed,” Mr. Bright said, “we really should be sure beyond doubt that the person is guilty.”

“Non of the material on this website has been uploaded for financial profit, but is merely there for education and research purposes under the ‘Fair Use’ laws”.

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Posted to several relevant listserves

While this story  of a disabled man dumped from his wheelchair by a deputy while in custody, hit the disability rights lists right away, and the major news networks carried the story, there was NO discussion of the issue, not one post, not one email on the matter on any of the left/progressive lists I’m on!!!!!

Amazing!  Why the silence?
For video coverage and other reports:


Had Sterner been from a different demographic facing the same brutality might the story have found a leftist spin?
Why is brutality against people with disabilities  (pwd) so brutally ignored?
The dialogue that I did find, on mainstream news lists, was appalling.  Some pointed out that since Sterner could drive a car or had been able to fly to the Today Show he couldn’t be disabled, or that the deputy was such a nice person that she must have had a reason.

One argument (on a disability rights list, no less, argued that he was playing victim to complain about his treatment, and in doing so, was reinforcing the stereotype of  pwd as victim. )

Brutal teasing of pwd is not protected under national hate crime legislature (it was just vetoed by Bush recently) though it is protected in California.  PWD are often the favorite targets of bullies, both overt and covert, many of whom are “just the nicest people.”  It is strange what pathological sadism the sight of a PWD can bring out in people.
Sonali, has been my friend for many years and as my disability progresses has shared with me a growing awareness of the marginalization and hostility towards pwd.  In one discussion, she told she was in an office supply store, near the back of the store, by the photocopy section.  An older couple with obvious visual limitations asked the clerk, who had been politely helping Sonali, where the check out was.  The clerk  repeatedly rudely insisted that the check out (on the other side of the store,) was in clear sight.  (“It’s over there, can’t you SEE it!”)

It is important to note that the deputy who dumped Sterner, did so while other law enforcement officers watched.
Everyone knows that teasing the cripple, the retard, the freak is generally accepted on school playgrounds with relative impunity and  most people participated in that cruelty.  Yet when an event like this comes out, people seem so surprised.

So why the surprise?

I know from my own experience; I’ve been mocked by store clerks in front of their employers, had chairs “provided out of reach,” carts put in the way of my scooter or walker.  Just the sight of the wheelchair or scooter seems to attract derision, with impunity.  I’ve had similar experiences in airlines where attendants wouldn’t provide a seat for me so that I wouldn’t have to stand while waiting for a rest room (they have a special wheelchair for the aisle) and made mocking faces to each other, while condescendingly suggesting to me that if I continued to assert my rights they might call security.  In one restaurant a waiter suggested that since the bathroom wasn’t accessible, perhaps I shouldn’t drink so much water.  I have found that it is almost impossible to leave my home without some humiliating reminder of my place as a pwd, of my marginalization.
Here’s one example:


If I have so much trouble in establishments where I’m trying to spend money, imagine the attitudes of people with pathological power such as corrections personnel.

Also amazing is the accusation that we’re faking our disability.  Here’s my own experience with such ostracism.  Please note, the names have been changed, but many of those involved are among L.A. most respected activists!   (if you go to the link, scroll down to the bottom to read the thread in order.)

The daily indignities became so overwhelming that it provoked me to start a blog on the subject    http://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com

At a recent teacher’s conference, when I requested to have a seat reserved for me that was accessible I was told  that there was plenty of room for me in the back of the room. An entire table of teachers began to laugh and ridicule my request.
This shouldn’t come as great surprise.  Schools are among the most segregated (they call it special) placed for pwd. (The new high schools being built in LAUSD have massive staircases and no elevators, barring students with ambulatory disabilities from attending; barring teachers and staff with disabilities from providing education in a system that repeatedly complains that it can’t find or keep teachers; keeps parents from participating in the education of their children while blaming parents for not being involved with their children’s lives.)

In a society where power is privilege, even on the left,  disability, perceived as weakness provokes hegemonic behavior and attitude so that one’s ability and one’s humanity is disregarded and one’s right to full inclusion dismissed and denied.

A dialogue on the left on this issue is long overdue, as are solutions to barriers to full inclusion at events.
Stairs are apartheid.  There’s nothing    SPECIAL about segregation.
Peace with Justice,


Plan for your future…….Support disability rights!

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