Protesters Demand Answers In Sandra Bland’s Death

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By Renee Lewis in Al Jazeera. Hempstead, TX – More than 100 people staged a protest Friday outside the county jail in Hempstead, Texas, where a black woman was found dead one week ago after being arrested following an altercation with police. Officials have called the death a suicide. But protestors led by Quanell X — leader of the Houston New Black Panther Party — disputed that, shouting “No justice, no peace!” and “We demand answers!” Twenty-eight-year-old Sandra Bland was arrested during a July 10 traffic stop in the Texas town of Prairie Ville after allegedly kicking the officer who pulled her over. A witness said the policeman dragged Bland from her car and then roughly detained her. In a video showing the arrest, Bland can be heard saying the officer had slammed her head into the ground.

Letter From Political Prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney

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By Rev. Edward Pinkney. My name is Reverend Edward Pinkney. I am at Lakeland Correctional Facility, otherwise known as a prison, in Coldwater, Michigan. I am a victim of racial injustice and over-reaching corporate power in Berrien County, Michigan. I am an internationally recognized activist who acts and fights for justice for all, and I am the leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO). I was sentenced to 30 months to ten years. This is a death sentence for a 66-year-old man. I was accused of a crime I did not commit. Because I exercised my democratic right to petition to recall the Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower, who supports the Whirlpool Corporation and not the residents of Benton Harbor, I was charged with five felony counts of changing dates on petitions!

America’s Slave Empire

Prison Slavery protest

By Chris Hedges for Truthdig. “We have to shut down the prisons,” Council, known as Kinetik, one of the founders of the Free Alabama Movement, told me by phone from the Holman Correctional Facility in Escambia County, Ala. He has been in prison for 21 years, serving a sentence of life without parole. “We will not work for free anymore. All the work in prisons, from cleaning to cutting grass to working in the kitchen, is done by inmate labor. [Almost no prisoner] in Alabama is paid. Without us the prisons, which are slave empires, cannot function. Prisons, at the same time, charge us a variety of fees, such as for our identification cards or wrist bracelets, and [impose] numerous fines, especially for possession of contraband. They charge us high phone and commissary prices. Prisons each year are taking larger and larger sums of money from the inmates and their families. The state gets from us millions of dollars in free labor and then imposes fees and fines. You have brothers that work in kitchens 12 to 15 hours a day and have done this for years and have never been paid.”

Newsletter - No Justice, No Peace

No justice no peace We the People

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report writes that “No justice, no peace” is “a vow by the movement to transform the crisis that is inflicted on Black people into a generalized crisis for the larger society, and for those who currently rule.” In reality, given the violence being inflicted upon people, particularly people of color, whether directly or indirectly through rising poverty, unemployment, homelessness, lack of access to health care and more, and the government’s failures to address these crises and listen to the people, disruption is a necessary element of political change. In 1968 the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke outside a prison in California where people were being held for protesting the Vietnam War. In the speech he drew the connections between the Civil Rights movement and the peace movement against the Vietnam War. Today we see the links between racism, inequality, imperialism, militarism and ecocide and his comment on that day continues to ring true: “There can be no justice without peace. And there can be no peace without justice.”

US Finally Sends Long-Cleared Gitmo Prisoners To Oman

Six Yemeni prisoners released from Gitmo JUne 13, 2015

By Carol Rosenberg for the Miami Herald. U.S. troops delivered six long-held Yemeni prisoners from Guantánamo for resettlement in the Arabian Sea nation Oman on Friday, the Pentagon said early Saturday, resuming transfers that had been stalled for months. The mission reduced the detainee population at the prison camps to 116 captives, 51 cleared for transfers with security assurances from the nation taking them in. Among those released was Emad Hassan, 35, whose lawyers said had been on the prison hunger strike since 2007, and failed to get a judge to stop his forced-feedings. Hassan, captured in Pakistan in March 2002, became a devotee of the “Game of Thrones” series and Dan Brown novels from the prison library, according to his attorney Alka Pradhan. All six had been cleared for release for at least five years. None was ever charged with a crime. All were taken to the prison camps in the summer of 2002.

After The Uprising: Lessons From Rojava For Baltimore

Stop Lethal Force

By Ben Reynolds for ROAR. How can we create the fundamental change we so desperately need? We need a superior strategy to the failed strategies of the past; we need a means to turn an uprising into a revolution. History offers a few successful examples of popular organizing we can draw from. During the French Revolution, the popular assemblies of the Paris sections formed a radical base that pushed the developing revolution forward. The Russian Revolution of 1917 saw deliberative popular bodies known as “soviets” overthrow the provisional government in the name of bread and peace. These kinds of systems — based upon deliberative councils and assemblies — frequently appear in any period of unrest or upheaval, and have recently emerged in Argentina, Spain, and elsewhere. In the present, the Kurdish movement in Turkey and Syria employs a developed version of this system known as “democratic confederalism.” Face-to-face neighborhood assemblies form the base of political decision-making, while successive councils operate at the district, city and regional levels. The councils and assemblies deliberate upon all of the issues facing the community and attempt to organize the means to effect necessary changes.

After Year Long Hunger Strike Mohamed Soltan Released In Egypt

Mohamed Soltan was sentenced to life in prison for allegedly supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood [Getty]

By Al Jazeera Staff. Jailed activist Mohamed Soltan, who has been on hunger strike for over a year in protest against his detention in Egypt, has been freed and sent back to his home country, the United States. Soltan, a 27-year-old US-Egyptian dual citizen and human rights activist, was arrested in September 2013 when police was searching for his father, a senior member of the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group. Last month, Soltan was sentenced to life in prison for allegedly supporting the group, a verdict his family challenges, saying that there was no evidence against him. A website calling for his release also said he was not a member of the Brotherhood, describing him as a US-educated peace activist who was involved in youth events and charities.

Trans Struggle For Justice Behind Bars Just Beginning

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For the past three years, Ashley Diamond has been denied health care as well as protection from recurring violence from the men around her. But she has been fighting back — and her fight has been making headlines and wresting small changes from the Georgia Department of Corrections. Her story starkly illustrates the challenges facing trans women behind bars — from frequent violence and sexual assaults to the denial of hormones and other medical neglect. But Diamond’s experiences are far from unique, or even unusual. Nor is her decision to challenge prison policies around trans health care and safety an exception. Across the country, trans people have individually challenged and collectively organized to be free from physical, sexual and medical violence.

Trial For Four Who Support 17 Women Imprisoned In El Salvador

Activists inside the El Salvadorian Embassy

Four activists, who appeared in court on May 15th for a pre-trial status hearing, will have to return to Washington, DC on July 7, 2015 to stand trial on the charge of unlawful entry, which carries a maximum sentence of 6 months in prison. The four were arrested on April 24, 2015 at the Embassy of El Salvador where they staged a sit-in to call attention to 17 Salvadoran women currently serving extreme 30-year prison sentences for having had miscarriages. The charges are for aggravated homicide and receiving illegal abortions, though there is little to no evidence as to the causes of their miscarriages. Carmen Guadalupe Vásquez Aldana made international headlines last month as the first of the 17 to be released. “This is a grave injustice. Where there is injustice, silence is complicity,” said Father Roy Bourgeois.

Act Out! Know Your Rights And Justice For Moms

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Raise your fist, but not to fight. This week it’s about the power of the mind – to overcome, to evolve, to rise up and to stand resolute against injustice. We go through some bullet point rights, yours to flex any and every time you’re on U.S. soil. Knowledge is power. We go to LA to see how artists are manifesting justice through their various mediums: theater, discussions, forums, workshops on screen printing, spoken word, health and wellness. We then take you to the front lines of the Million Moms March, where mothers took a list of demands to the Department of Justice seeking answers for unsolved crimes that killed their children and destroyed their communities. Not one to end on a somber note, we wrap up this week with a rap/rock piece that reminds you to use your mind, find your fight and raise the floodlight.

Newsletter - Overcome Fear With Love

Love Over Fear

Instead of taking action to prevent or mitigate the next crisis, politicians are causing more harm as they work hand in hand with the wealthy elites who are trying to grab even greater power and extract even greater riches. Maryland’s governor was quick to bring in the National Guard and militarized police, but just cut Baltimore education funding by $11.6 million to fund pensions, while last week the state approved funding for a youth jail the people in Baltimore don’t want. This article provides five key facts about Baltimore and a graphic that shows how the United States built its wealth on slavery, Jim Crow and racially-based economic injustice and kept African Americans from benefiting the economy. Also, as a special addition to recognize BB King, he sings “Why I Sing the Blues” describing the history of African Americans from slavery until today.

Mumia Hospitalized Again

Mumia May 13, 2015

Wadiya Jamal Mumia’s wife at 8:50 pm last night May 12th and told her that Mumia had been moved to the hospital. This is a disturbing development and is cause for grave concern. There are reports that he had a fever, and that he has open wounds and sores on his legs. HIs attorney Bret Grote visited him on Friday. He was engaged, alert, yet he was in pain in his knees and leg. We will be working to gather more information as the day goes on. His hospital conditions will be abhorrent: he will be chained to the bed. He could, as they did before, be arbitrarily and systematically denied visitors. The last time we were in the ICU they did not let his familly or lawyers see him, or give them any information for 24hrs. Even though they were the ICU waiting room just a few feet from Mumia’s bed.. Clearly Mumia’s chronic conditions remain undiagnosed and unsuccessfully treated.

Will Charges Against 6 Baltimore Police Bring Justice?

Suspect Dies Baltimore

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s announcement that the six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray were being charged brought cheers and celebratory honking of horns. On closer inspection, however, there are important questions as to whether the arresting officers who began the process that led to Gray’s death were charged with an adequately serious offense. Indeed, if it had not been for the illegal arrest and the damage they did to Gray before the van ride, Gray would not have died. Further, comparing how the police were treated with how protesters were treated shows further injustice and prompts questions about amnesty for all those arrested during the protests. If a country truly believed in freedom of speech and the right to assembly, there would be amnesty for all the protesters who were arrested. They should have their records cleansed, the arrests should never have occurred and there should be no record of them. There is a human right to resist injustice that should be respected. As for the case of Freddie Gray, State’s Attorney Mosby still has a chance to amend the charges against the officers involved in his arrest or bring the case before a grand jury and seek an additional charge of second degree murder against the three arresting officers.

NLG Files Urgent Appeal To UN For Mumia Abu-Jamal

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NEW YORK, NY – Members of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Heidi Boghosian and Natsu Saito, with Kathleen Cleaver of the Human Rights Research Fund, today delivered an Urgent Appeal Request on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal to Juan Méndez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. The Request addresses the life-threatening denial of medical care to the 61-year-old journalist, political activist, and human rights defender who has been described as “perhaps America’s most famous prisoner.” According to the Request, Mr. Abu-Jamal, currently in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, has life-threatening medical conditions that have been caused and/or exacerbated by his conditions of confinement. It reports that prison officials have consistently denied him appropriate medical treatment and adequate nutrition, and blocked access to his doctors, his lawyers and his family members.

Baltimore: Arrestees Suffer Human Rights Abuses

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More than 250 people have been arrested since Monday here in Baltimore. . . The small concrete booking cells were filled with hundreds of people, most with more than ten people per cell. Three of us were sent to the women’s side where there were up to 15 women per holding cell. Most of them had been there since Monday afternoon/evening. With the exception of 3 or 4 women, the women who weren’t there for Monday’s round-ups were there for freaking curfew violations. Many had not seen a doctor or received required medication. Many had not been able to reach a family member by phone. But here is the WORST thing. Not only had these women been held for two days and two nights without any sort of formal booking, BUT ALMOST NONE OF THEM HAD ACTUALLY BEEN CHARGED WITH ANYTHING. They were brought to CBIF via police wagons (most without seat belts, btw–a real shocker after all that’s happened), and taken to holding cells without ever being charged with an actual crime. No offense reports. No statements of probable cause. A few women had a vague idea what they might be charged with . . . .