Friday, October 31, 2008

They steal elections! Don’t they? States Rights Rot Rides Again

They steal elections! Don’t they? States Rights Rot Rides Again

By ‘bro.zayid’

They steal elections, don’t they…

They stole the2000 election in Florida for ‘Dubya by roadblocking Black and Latino voting districts, by using confusing ballots, the so-called ‘hanging chads’, by purging scores of eligible and duly registered voters, the overwhelming majority being Black, as being “convicted felons,” and by arbitrarily closing down polling sites while scores of people were still on line waiting to vote. (I’ll never forget Ted Koppel’s Nightline capturing that in living color.) And most importantly, they got away with it.

Al Gore did nothing. Bill Clinton did nothing. The Democratic Party as a body did nothing about it.

They stole the 2004 election in Ohio for ‘Dubya using a house negro secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell, as an even more arrogant cover. (See the moving documentary American Blackout to catch this vile piece of overseer work in action.) They did it by using almost the same tactics that were previously used in Florida with the emphasis here on the voter rolls purge, or the socalled ‘felon list’ and with voter machine shortages in black voting districts. This was especially done in an in your face callousness in the Black community of the state’s capital of Columbus! And here again, they got away with it.

Before that election, John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee, said that he was not going to stand for another Florida 2000. But when it was all over, he conceded the election the very next day! No fight. No investigation. No recount. No outrage. And, most importantly, no consequence for the perpetrators to be sure.

Fast forward to 2008.

According to NY Times reporter Ian Urbina, whose October 8th article States Purges of Voter Rolls Appear Illegal, is a must read, not only are Florida and Ohio again involved in the same purging process they employed in 2000 and 2004, they have a lot of company, including several so-called ‘swing’ states, or states whose electorial tally could swing an election either way in a close election, who are using the same practices, Nevada, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan and North Carolina. Not to mention Louisiana and Alabama.

Make no mistake about it, this paradigm could easily be responsible for several hundred thousand voters being made ineligible to vote and knocked out of the equation on election day…Several hundred thousand!....

Maybe more than enough to steal an election. To be sure, this is happening on this scale, happening in all these areas, as a concerted effort to undermine Obama’s wide popularity, a popularity that neither Gore nor Kerry had against ‘Dubya.

In my modest judgment, Barack Obama should win by a landslide given his enormous popularity and given his relative puny opposition in a ‘free and fair election.’ But an election, certainly a close one, can easily be stolen from him, just like it was in 2000 and 2004. If he is to have a real chance at a fair election, and give himself a real chance to win, he, as the new leader of the Democratic Party, and that’s what he is now, must call out the guard…He must be prepared to defend those voters rights now and on the day of the election!

“But bro.zayid, that’s means he going to have to talk about race! And he’s not going to do that now! It’s too risky!”

It’s too risky not to, given these set of circumstances.

Here’s what that talk means. It means at the very least demanding that the Justice Department be on full and visible alert at all polling sites in all of these contested areas. It means not standing alone when he makes the demand. He should have Bill and Hillary Clinton stand with him. He should have Al Gore and John Kerry stand with him. He should have New Mexico’s Latino Governor Bill Richardson, the man who set aside his own candidacy to clear the way for Obama’s ascendance and who, in my mind, should have been chosen as his running mate, -He should certainly have that man stand with him. He should have ‘Yahoo’ Howard Dean stand with him. He should have Senate majority Harry Reid and House majority leader Steny Hoyer stand with him. They should all stand with him in a united front for a ‘free and fair election’! And let the chips fall where they may!

Failure to do that, no matter how polite or strategic he and his machine mean to be could easily result in another heartbreaking debacle.

If he doesn’t, don’t be surprised to hear stories about immigration officers doing sweeps or otherwise detaining and harassing Latinos in states like California, New Mexico, Texas and McCain’s own Arizona. Don’t be surprised to hear about scores of Black people turned away from the polls because their address did not match up or that they’ve been purged because they were “convicted felons.” Don’t be surprised to hear about long lines and shorts on available voting machines. Don’t be surprised to hear about roadblocks near Black and Latino voting districts like they also did in Florida…Because they’ll do it. They’ve

done it with it success before and they’ll do it again unless somebody stops them.

So what do we do?

This election is a going to be a global event. Organizations that the NGO status at United Nations should take a page out of Malcolm’s book and call on the UN to have monitors in all those contested areas.

Individually, voters should consider the following: One, bring proper government accepted ID with you to the polls and bring proof of address and if you recently moved or reregistered because you moved if you have something with the previous address as well, bring that too. Nip identity and address issues in the bud if you can on the spot. One of the last things you want to happen is to be offered a ‘provisional ballot’. Provisional ballot are for the most part political placebos, because they are given to prospective voters contesting their right to vote, but the ballot they are given is counted as a matter of law “after the election,” which means it more than likely would not even count. See the Help America Vote Act if you don’t believe me; Two, if you receive a sample ballot in the mail before election with the designation of your polling site, bring that with you along with proper id to avoid being runaround about “where you can vote.’ That happened in Ohio too; Three, Go to the polls early. We tend to go late. After work. Scores of our people who got doors slammed in their face in Florida and Ohio ran into that at night. This also gives you time to address any identification issues should they emerge. Four, make your voting that day an event. It is. Bring your children with you! My longtime friend and comrade Larry Hamm of the Peoples Organization for Progress said he is going to bring his daughter with him to be apart of that historical moment one way or another. By the God of our ancestors, I wish I could bring mine. But seriously bring your children with you! If you run into difficulty, let them see how you stand up for your rights and defend your dignity. Let them see how democracy really works along racial lines, so they can be prepared to face whatever this racial landscape may have them face. Finally, go in groups. If you belong to an organization, set up groups to go together. Be witnesses for each other. Take pictures bring video cameras. Document your voting as long as the process will allow.

Dear Family,

Not talking about race, and not wanting to fight racism, is not going to make it go away. Only organized and well mobilized hell-raizin is what puts racism on its nasty flat behind. Nothing else.

Seize the time!

On Monday, November 3rd, Black Solidarity Day, we will be marching In Defense of the Black Vote from Broad and Market Streets, in Newark at 12 noon, to sound the drum.

Every shut ain’t sleep; every goodbye ain’t gone…

“And you stand there with a rope around your neck talking about ‘forgive them lord, they know not what they’re doing.’ As they’ve been doing it, they’re experts at it.”

-Malcolm X

©2008 all rights reserved


Bro.Zayid Muhammad is the national minister of culture for the New Black Panther Party. He can be reached at 201 602 0780 and This is essay is the first of several called ‘The Obama Essays.’

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ground Noise & Static

Good evening comrades,
Hope everyone is well.

In case you haven't heard, SubMediaTV has teamed up with Pepperspray Productions to produce a 30 minute documentary chronicling the amazing resistance movement at the recent RNC and DNC. It has tons of never-before-seen footage and it shows definitively that the surveillance and policing efforts at each of the conventions went way over the line, but that also demonstrators and resistance members didn't back down for one second. It's truly a great film and shows that the resistance movement against State oppression is alive and well and gaining ground.

Check it out here:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

WSA Statement on the RNC Protest

WSA Statement on the RNC Protest

In the opening days of September 2008 people from all over the country
came together in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St.
Paul to
protest the agenda of the Republican National Convention.
And in
response, police cracked down, hard.
And even before the events had
begun police responded to mere calls for protest through strong-arm
tactics reminiscent of a police state, including infiltration and
spying by state agents against protest organizations and preemptive
raids with guns drawn against private protest centers.
During the
event police responded with the indiscriminate arrest of hundreds of
protesters, and even journalists recording the event where arrested.

Decked out in full military garb masses of police indiscriminately
assaulted numerous protesters with batons, pepper spray and other
weapons, that though listed under the term "less then lethal"
nevertheless inflict great pain and suffering, and have been
implicated in
serious medical complications and even death.
Fortunately no one was
killed in the Twin Cities, but the use of tactics befitting a police
state should be a cause of grave concern for all people of good

In response we at the Worker Solidarity Alliance (WSA) call upon all
poor and working people everywhere to reach out in support of the 284
protesters that have been jailed by the cops.

Please make a donation to help cover the legal fees of our jailed
comrades, and to cover any medical fees that may arise among
protesters due to the brutal tactics utilized by police on behalf of
the Republican Party.
One place you can donate is the web site of the
Coldsnap Legal Collective: http://coldsnaplegal. wordpress. com/

Although the Workers Solidarity Alliance extends unconditional
solidarity and support to the victims of state repression during the
RNC, we also call for a critical evaluation of the approach taken by
anti-authoritarians and anarchists.
The repression of RNC activism
demonstrates that new organizing models will be needed if
anticapitalists are to mount a genuine challenge to the power of
capital and the state.
Specifically, we must avoid playing into the
hands of the state by using rhetoric, rituals, and tactics that
isolate us from the majority of the world's population that suffers
under capitalism.
We call for a resistance based not exclusively on
the advanced tactics of a jail-ready minority, but the
solidarity and militancy of a revolutionary social bloc, organized in
workplaces and neighborhoods, fighting for self-determination.
As the
raids on activists spaces have already shown, anything less is
political suicide.

The reasons people protested were varied, as was the political
background of the protesters.
Some of the protesters came seeking to
end the U.S.
military occupation of Iraq, some economic justice,
others out of criticism of the current Republican administration in
Some protesters came to voice their dissent and in support
of Obama.
Some came to protest the havoc that the endless pursuit for
capitalist profits has wrecked upon the environment.
And yet others
still came to protest the political rule of the U.S.
whether under the leadership of Republicans or Democrats, or other
would be contenders for the throne.

The "Red & Black Anti-Capitalist" contingent came to protest the war,
for economic justice, for a healthy environment, and against white
supremacy, nationalism, sexism and homophobia --- and to promote the
idea that simply changing office holders does not do away with
capitalism and the political state.
This contingent called for a new
world, a world without bosses, states and bureaucrats.

The Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA) seeks the self-empowerment of
ordinary poor and working class people through democratic
self-management of their workplaces and their communities without
mediation by elite's from above.
Those of the "Red & Black
Anti-Capitalist" contingent, and their supporters in the WSA and
elsewhere, are sick and tired of living in a society that is dominated
by the special interests of wealthy men and the political system that
these elites have set in motion to protect their interests at the
expense of the genuine interests, the aspirations and collective well
being of the vast majority of the population, the working class.
supporters of the "Red & Black Anti-Capitalist" contingent we of the
WSA denounce both the Republican and Democratic parties, as we
understand that the true motivating cause of all political parties, in
every part of the globe, is that of keeping a small elite entrenched
firmly in political and economic power over, and to the detriment, of
the working class across the earth.

The WSA also denounces the Patriot Act, under which the state has
charged eight (RNC 8) prominent protest organizers with "Conspiracy to
Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism," this despite the fact that the RNC
8 were arrested days prior to the beginning of both the convention and
the actual protests and had not carried out any actual protest actions
The provisions of the Patriot Act grants the state power
to charge people with "conspiracy" for simply planning a nonviolent
protest, and in turn to saddle them with a felony for making calls for
dissent to state policy.
Thus the true purpose of the Patriot Act is
to criminalize exercises of the right to free speech, peaceful
assembly and protest.
In light of the true intentions of the Patriot
Act the WSA calls for the working class to get together in solidarity
to put pressure upon the state to rescind and abolish the Patriot Act.

Yet despite all of the terror and mayhem unleashed by the police the
fact that ordinary people maintained their presence, their solidarity
and their dissent against the unjust policies of the political elite
for the duration of the convention is in the last analysis a
demonstration of the courage of the working class.
The protesters that
made up the "Red & Black Anti-Capitalist" contingent, and others as
well, have a positive vision of a better society.
A society in which
ordinary folks come together in brotherly solidarity to create a new
system based upon the moral value of "Mutual aid" and free from the
rule of a lying, scheming and predatory elite.
For a society in which
"freedom and liberty for all" are not mere sentiments regulated to
paper, or simply buzz words to throw about by self-interested
politicians looking for your votes, but are instead the overwhelming
living reality of society, and not just in the United States but
throughout the entire earth.

Workers Solidarity Alliance
339 Lafayette Street - Room 202
New York, NY 10012 USA
www. workersolidarity. org.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Zabalaza No.9 Now Available Online

Zabalaza: A Journal of Southern African Class Struggle Anarchism
Issue No.
9, September 2008

Issue number nine of the theoretical journal of the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front is now available online.

In this issue...

Southern Africa:

* Workers, Bosses and the 2008 Pogroms
* "Ba Sebetsi Ba Afrika": Manifesto of the Industrial Workers of Africa, 1917
* Ninety Years of Working Class Internationalism in South Africa
* Unyawo Alunampumulo: Abahlali baseMjondolo Statement on the Xenophobic Attacks in Johannesburg
* Xenophobia, Nationalism and Greedy Bosses: An Interview with Alan Lipman
* Interview with Two Libertarian Socialist Activists from Zimbabwe


* Kenya's Troubles are Far from Over
* Will EU troops stop the Central African cycle of violence?
* Brutal Repression in Sidi Ifni (Morroco)


* Obama and Latin America: a Friendly Imperialism?


* Anarchism & Immigration
* The Poison of Nationalism
* Nostalgic Tribalism or Revolutionary Transformation?: A Critique of Anarchism & Revolution in Black Africa

A .
PDF version of the journal can be downloaded here: http://www. zabalaza. net/pdfs/sapams/zab09. pdf

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

RNC protests

Hello Everyone,
Hope you all are doing well.

In case you haven't been following, the protests of the RNC have gotten started with a bang.

Yesterday (Monday), independent journalist Amy Goodman and two producers of acclaimed "Democracy Now" were arrested and detained simply for asking to speak with cops. They have since been released. This past Friday, St. Paul police raided the training headquarters for the RNC Welcoming Committee, the largest organizing group for the protest. At the time, occupants were eating dinner and watching films. Children and senior citizens were present, and cops busted down the doors with guns drawn.

Also over the weekend, police raided a couple of houses in the residential neighborhoods suspected of harboring information and supplies to create bombs, also with guns drawn. Who were occupying the houses? Members of Food Not Bombs - a group that prepares and serves free meals, and I-Witness Video, an independent media group. One of the houses actually were successful at deterring cops because the officials had the wrong address on their warrant - the address for the other side of the building. The building actually holds two addresses and two families.

If you haven't heard, Hurricane Gustav has stagnated many of the plans for the RNC. Bush and Cheney canceled their trips, and the convention itself has been drastically scaled down to just business. That hasn't stopped the protestors though. Video footage has captured many protestor groups in the streets using mail boxes as blockades and blocking traffic, as well as freeing their own people from police detainment.

Pepper spray and rubber bullets are already out in full force, according to participants.

Check out this site - SubMediaTv - for raw video. Check out the other features as well, such as the blog and shop - this is a great underground resource. By the way, SubMedia cameramen were also arrested and detained.

Here are a few more websites:

Democracy Now!

RNC Welcoming Committee

I-Witness Video

Brave New Films (contains lots of other videos from the protests)

Be sure to hit up the group discussion board to add your two cents on the rebellion in the Twin Cities. More news to come as it is made available.

Peace, Love and Freedom

Monday, September 1, 2008

"Anarchists" turn violent in march to GOP convention

Self described anarchists turned violent at the Republican National Convention according to news websites. Is the black bloc a positive or negative aspect of the anarchist and anti-war movements?

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Protesters attacked delegates, smashed windows, punctured car tires and threw bottles Monday, a violent counterpoint to an otherwise peaceful anti-war march at the Republican National Convention. Police wielding pepper spray arrested at least 56 people.

The trouble happened not far from the Xcel Energy Center convention site, and many of those involved in the more violent protest were clad in black and identified themselves to reporters as anarchists. They wrought havoc by damaging property and setting at least one fire. Most of the trouble was in pockets of a neighborhood near downtown, several blocks from where the convention was taking place.

Police estimates of the crowd shifted several times during the event, ranging from 2,000 to 10,000. The crowd was clearly in the thousands. Late Monday afternoon, long after the antiwar marchers had dispersed, police requested and got 150 Minnesota National Guard soldiers to help control splinter groups near downtown.

Members of the Connecticut delegation said they were attacked by protesters when they got off their bus near the Xcel Center, KMSP-TV reported. Delegate Rob Simmons told the station that a group of protesters came toward his delegation and tried to rip the credentials off their necks and sprayed them with a toxic substance that burned their eyes and stained their clothes.

One 80-year-old member of the delegation had to be treated for injuries, and several other delegates had to rinse their eyes and clothing, the station reported.

Five people were arrested for lighting a trash bin on fire and pushing it into a police car, St. Paul police spokesman Tom Walsh said. Authorities didn't have immediate details on the other arrests.

The antiwar march was organized by a group called the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, whose leaders said they hoped for a peaceful, family-friendly event. But police were on high alert after months of preparations by a self-described anarchist group called the RNC Welcoming Committee, which wasn't among the organizers of the march.

About 20 people dressed in black tried to block a key intersection. Police quickly dispersed the group, then shot two tear gas canisters at them as the fled.

Pictures taken by Associated Press photographers showed officers using pepper spray on people who appeared to be trying to block streets.

Up to 200 people from a group called Funk the War noisily staged their own march. Wearing black clothes, bandanas and gas masks, some of their members smashed windows of cars and stores. They tipped over newspaper boxes, pulled a big trash bin into the street, bent the rearview mirrors on a bus and flipped heavy stone garbage bins on the sidewalks.

One member of the group carried a yellow flag with the motto "Don't Tread on Me." The group chanted: "Whose streets? Our streets!"

At one point, people pushed a trash bin filled with trash and threw garbage in the streets and at cars. They also took down orange detour road signs. One of them used a screwdriver to puncture the back tire of a limousine waiting at an intersection and threw a wooden board at the vehicle, denting its side. Another hurled a glass bottle at a charter bus that had stopped at an intersection. The bottle smashed into pieces but didn't appear to damage the bus.

After the official march ended, police spent hours dispersing smaller groups of protesters, employing officers on horses, smoke bombs and tear gas.

Protesters put eye drops in each other's eyes after police used chemical irritants such as pepper spray and tear gas. Some wore bandanas and masks to protect themselves.

Protesters were seen lying on an interstate exit ramp to block traffic in downtown St. Paul and linking arms to block other roads.

Terry Butts, a former Alabama Supreme Court justice who is a convention delegate, was on a bus taking delegates to the arena when a brick through the window sprayed glass on him and two others. Butts said he wasn't hurt.

"It just left us a little shaken," he said. "It was sort of a frightening moment because it could have been a bomb or a Molotov cocktail."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Small Arkansas Town becomes Police State

Police State? A glimpse of Martial Law to come? Unconstitutional? Weigh in.

Crime-ridden Arkansas town expands 24-hour curfew

By JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press Writer Wed Aug 13, 6:41 AM ET

HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. - Officers armed with military rifles have been stopping and questioning passers-by in a neighborhood plagued by violence that's been under a 24-hour curfew for a week.

On Tuesday, the Helena-West Helena City Council voted 9-0 to allow police to expand that program into any area of the city, despite a warning from a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas that the police stops were unconstitutional.

Police Chief Fred Fielder said the patrols have netted 32 arrests since they began last week in a 10-block neighborhood in this small town on the banks of the Mississippi River long troubled by poverty. The council said those living in the city want the random shootings and drug-fueled violence to stop, no matter what the cost.

"Now if somebody wants to sue us, they have an option to sue, but I'm fairly certain that a judge will see it the way the way the citizens see it here," Mayor James Valley said. "The citizens deserve peace, that some infringement on constitutional rights is OK and we have not violated anything as far as the Constitution."

The area under curfew, in what used to be a West Helena neighborhood, sits among abandoned homes and occupied residences in disrepair.

White signs on large blue barrels warn those passing by that the area remains under curfew by order of Mayor James Valley. The order was scheduled to end at 3 p.m. Tuesday, but Valley said the city council's vote would allow police to have the same powers across Helena-West Helena.

Among the curfew operation's arrests, 10 came from felony charges, including the arrest of two people carrying both drugs and weapons, Fielder said. The police chief said the officers in the field carry military-style M-16 or M-4 rifles, some equipped with laser sights. Other officers carry short-barrel shotguns. Many dealing crack cocaine and marijuana in the city carry pistols and AK-47 assault rifles, he said.

"We've had people call us, expressing concern for their children," Fielder said. "They had to sleep on the floor, because of stray bullets."

Fielder said officers had not arrested anyone for violating the curfew, only questioned people about why they were outside. Those without good answers or acting nervously get additional attention, Fielder said.

However, such stops likely violate residents' constitutional rights to freely assemble and protections against unreasonable police searches, said Holly Dickson, a lawyer for the ACLU of Arkansas who addressed the council at its packed Tuesday meeting. Because of that, Dickson said any convictions coming from the arrests likely would be overturned.

"The residents of these high-crime areas are already victims," she said. "They're victims of what are happening in the neighborhoods, they're victims of fear. But for them to be subject to unlawful stops and questioning ... that is not going to ultimately going to help this situation."

The council rejected Dickson's claims, at one point questioning the Little Rock-based attorney if she'd live in a neighborhood they described as under siege by wild gunfire and gangs.

"As far as I'm concerned, at 3 o'clock in the morning, nobody has any business being on the street, except the law," Councilman Eugene "Red" Johnson said. "Anyone out at 3 o'clock shouldn't be out on the street, unless you're going to the hospital."

The curfew is the second under the mayor's watch since the rival cities of Helena and West Helena merged in 2006. That year, Valley set a nightly citywide curfew after a rash of burglaries and other thefts.

Police in Hartford, Conn., began enforcing a nightly curfew for youths after recent violence, including a weekend shooting that killed a man and wounded six young people.

Helena-West Helena, with 15,000 residents at the edge of Arkansas' eastern rice fields and farmland, is in one of the nation's poorest regions, trailing even parts of Appalachia in its standard of living.

In the curfew area, those inside the homes in the watch area peered out of door cracks Tuesday as police cruisers passed. They closed the doors afterward.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

APOC Northeast Gathering: Aug 8-9


APOC Northeast Gathering

August 8th-9th in Philadelphia, PA

“La gente fuerte no necesita un lider, ellos por si mismos son lideres” - Emiliano Zapata

Autonomous/ Anti-Authoritarian/ Anarchist People Of Color from across the Northeast (and beyond) are gathering in Philly this summer to build a new vision for the future, and a new plan of action for today. We want to expand our understanding of race, class, gender, autonomy, and freedom - while attacking white supremacy, imperialism, colonialism, and ALL borders, boundaries, and barriers.

Please join us Friday and Saturday, August 8th-9th for the APOC Northeast Regional Conference in Philadelphia!

WHAT: APOC Northeast Regional Conference
WHEN: Friday and Saturday, August 8th-9th
WHERE: The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA

Friday evening will feature films related to APOC movement.
Saturday will feature a full day of talks, panels, and workshops.
Saturday night will culminate with an APOC Rocks! hip hop, punk rock, and poetry concert.

There will also be free (and cheap) food available as well as APOC ‘zines, books, t-Shirts y mas for the masses.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

NAACP calls for probe of shootings

NAACP calls for probe of shootings

The group wants CMPD to make outside investigations a standard procedure when police use deadly force.

The state chapter of the NAACP is calling on Charlotte-Mecklenburg police to require outside investigations after a spate of shootings involving officers this year.

Last month, 21-year-old Aaron Winchester died from gunshot wounds to the back as he was being pursued by a police officer who had stopped him for questioning just north of uptown.

The Winchester shooting was the third time in seven months a suspect has died in a confrontation with CMPD. Of the 36 shootings by Charlotte police in the past decade, 31 were ruled justified in the department's investigations. The most recent five, all in 2008, remain under investigation by the department, which reviews its own deadly force cases.

“We are asking not only that they address the immediacy of the current incident but also this recent pattern of events,” said the Rev. William Barber II, state president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The NAACP Wednesday called the state attorney general's office and Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory to stress the importance of the Winchester shooting being investigated properly, Barber said.

The group is calling for broad policy changes – including asking CMPD to make it standard for an outside agency to investigate all police shootings, Barber said. The NAACP also wants CMPD to use an officer's history of use of force in promotion decisions and recommends the department keep detailed records of use of force by race and gender.

For the first time in more than 30 years as Charlotte-Mecklenburg district attorney, Peter Gilchrist asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look at the Winchester shooting. The incident involved a white police officer shooting a black man and raised questions among relatives and eyewitnesses in the Lockwood neighborhood.

Gilchrist declined to give his reason. The request came on the heels of a meeting with interim police Chief David Graham, officials said Wednesday.

The NAACP said it will begin working today with a coalition of Charlotte ministers to study the shootings.

The organization's statement followed a meeting Wednesday between Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton and members of the N.C. State Conference of National Action Network, an advocacy group formed by the Rev. Al Sharpton. He is expected to visit Charlotte in the next couple of weeks.

“This isn't about race,” said Tanya Wiley, executive director of the organization. “Anytime someone gets shot in the back, it sends up a red flag.”

After the incident, Charlotte City Councilman Anthony Foxx said he also asked the city manager if the Police Department would seek an outside investigation. He did so after receiving many calls from concerned residents.

“It is very important to and for the Police Department to be perceived as protecting our citizens and not crossing over the line,” Foxx said Wednesday. “There are some issues of trust here that we have to pay attention to.”

Friday, June 13, 2008

Death in the Amazon: Uncontacted Tribes

Photographs published two weeks ago of an uncontacted tribe in Brazil near the Peruvian border have provoked public outrage, with over 1,300 people writing letters to Peru’s government to demand an end to illegal logging. The logging is threatening uncontacted Indians in the area.

The unique pictures of the Brazilian tribe hit the world’s headlines last week. At least one other tribe in the area is thought to have fled over the border from Peru into Brazil, fleeing illegal loggers who are razing their forest home.

Since the pictures were published, the Peruvian government has said it will investigate the issue. Peru’s President Alan Garcia had previously questioned the tribes’ existence.

Survival International is campaigning to support the rights of Peru’s estimated fifteen uncontacted tribes, who are threatened by oil exploration as well as logging.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘These pictures have really struck a chord with people. The uncontacted tribe’s message, with their arrows pointed up at the aeroplane, could not be clearer – they want to be left alone. People understand this, and want to make sure their wishes are respected.’

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Amazon Indians from one of the world's last uncontacted tribes have been photographed from the air, with striking images released on Thursday showing them painted bright red and brandishing bows and arrows.

The photographs of the tribe near the border between Brazil and Peru are rare evidence that such groups exist. A Brazilian official involved in the expedition said many of them are in increasing danger from illegal logging.
"What is happening in this region is a monumental crime against the natural world, the tribes, the fauna and is further testimony to the complete irrationality with which we, the 'civilized' ones, treat the world," Jose Carlos Meirelles was quoted as saying in a statement by the Survival International group.
One of the pictures, which can be seen on Survival International's Web site (, shows two Indian men covered in bright red pigment poised to fire arrows at the aircraft while another Indian looks on.
Another photo shows about 15 Indians near thatched huts, some of them also preparing to fire arrows at the aircraft.
"The world needs to wake up to this, and ensure that their territory is protected in accordance with international law. Otherwise, they will soon be made extinct," said Stephen Corry, the director of Survival International, which supports tribal people around the world.
Of more than 100 uncontacted tribes worldwide, more than half live in either Brazil or Peru, Survival International says. It says all are in grave danger of being forced off their land, killed and ravaged by new diseases.

Jay Griffiths wrote an article in the Guardian on the issue of the forced invasion and unwarrented contact of the tribes; how it is racist and potentially dangerous.

The message could hardly be clearer: leave us alone. In photographs taken from a low-flying plane, men from an uncontacted group deep in the Amazon forests, body-painted in red and black, draw their bows and arrows to shoot at the intruders in anger and fear. Another tribe living in voluntary isolation is being hunted out of existence.

There was massive public interest when these images were released by the Brazilian government last week, revealing an enormous curiosity about tribal people. And many indigenous people want non-indigenous people to listen to their ecological warnings and their philosophies. But, in sharp contrast, those living in voluntary isolation, the so-called uncontacted tribes, wish no such thing. They want nothing to do with the dominant culture, and they communicate this clearly to "contacted" tribes nearby, begging their help to be left alone.

The risks are well known: uncontacted people have died in their millions from diseases brought by outsiders, whole tribes wiped out. In the Amazon, indigenous campaigners vigorously oppose people going into the territories of the voluntarily isolated. But now, as well as the loggers and miners, there will be dozens of missionaries, television companies and adventurers determined to ignore their message.

Go and talk to Tarzan, I was told, when I was in the Peruvian Amazon, at the invitation of indigenous activists there. (They had asked me to go with them as a witness when they were throwing illegal gold-miners off their lands.) Tarzan, I was told, has a tale to tell about forced contact. A Harakmbut man in his nineties, he is old enough to remember the day in 1952 when his world ended. He is gentle and thoughtful, but still angry.

Missionaries came in a plane which, said Tarzan, "we thought was a huge and frightening eagle. We fled to the hills". The missionaries set up a mission station and a school. "No one wanted to go to school, and anyway after the missionaries came, our children died." After the missionaries' arrival, an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 people died of the illnesses they had brought. The missionaries said they wanted people to know their God, but Tarzan didn't see it that way: "Now we know money." Further, thanks to the missionaries, he says: "Now we know we lack money, which we hadn't known we lacked before."

Astonishingly, this is still happening. Earlier this year a British film crew went to the Peruvian Amazon to find tribal people for a reality TV programme. The crew were accused of visiting an isolated community, bringing a disease that left four people dead.

In the Peruvian Amazon, I met an evangelical missionary who was hunting out uncontacted tribes, claiming he would ease the way for oil workers. The links between missionaries and the other extractive industries are well documented. He spoke of making a "responsible contact", but was risking bringing death. Which of the 10 commandments encourages that?

Anthropologists, activists and many in the media know how to report on indigenous issues with respect; but there is still a profound racism against indigenous people in our culture. The forced invasion of uncontacted peoples is the arrowhead of this racism, and it extends far beyond the irresponsibility of individuals, into whole institutions.

The publishing industry promotes the adventurer, the churches fund the missionary, the corporations send the loggers and miners, the TV company commissions the film crew. In a just world, all should be liable for attempted murder.

Power to the People.

Thursday, May 22, 2008









Friday, May 9, 2008

The Death of Boubacar Bah in the Hands of ICE

Originally Posted by Mike Ely of Kasama, when suggested by Kalash Prolet that he'd report it on his website. Power to the People reproduces this article here to spread awareness on the death and coverup of an African Immigrant in US custody.

See the VIDEO on this horrific death of an African immigrant and shameful coverup that followed.

Few Details on Immigrants Who Died in Custody

But outside, for five days, no official notified the family of the detainee, Boubacar Bah, a 52-year-old tailor from Guinea who had overstayed a tourist visa. When frantic relatives located him at University Hospital in Newark on Feb. 5, 2007, he was in a coma after emergency surgery for a skull fracture and multiple brain hemorrhages. He died there four months later without ever waking up, leaving family members on two continents trying to find out why.

Mr. Bah’s name is one of 66 on a government list of deaths that occurred in immigration custody from January 2004 to November 2007, when nearly a million people passed through.

The list, compiled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after Congress demanded the information, and obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, is the fullest accounting to date of deaths in immigration detention, a patchwork of federal centers, county jails and privately run prisons that has become the nation’s fastest-growing form of incarceration.

The list has few details, and they are often unreliable, but it serves as a rough road map to previously unreported cases like Mr. Bah’s. And it reflects a reality that haunts grieving families like his: the difficulty of getting information about the fate of people taken into immigration custody, even when they die.

Mr. Bah’s relatives never saw the internal records labeled “proprietary information — not for distribution” by the Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the New Jersey detention center for the federal government. The documents detail how he was treated by guards and government employees: shackled and pinned to the floor of the medical unit as he moaned and vomited, then left in a disciplinary cell for more than 13 hours, despite repeated notations that he was unresponsive and intermittently foaming at the mouth.

Mr. Bah had lived in New York for a decade, surrounded by a large circle of friends and relatives. The extravagant gowns he sewed to support his wife and children in West Africa were on display in a Manhattan boutique.

But he died in a sequestered system where questions about what had happened to him, or even his whereabouts, were met with silence.

As the country debates stricter enforcement of immigration laws, thousands of people who are not American citizens are being locked up for days, months or years while the government decides whether to deport them. Some have no valid visa; some are legal residents, but have past criminal convictions; others are seeking asylum from persecution.

Death is a reality in any jail, and the medical neglect of inmates is a perennial issue. But far more than in the criminal justice system, immigration detainees and their families lack basic ways to get answers when things go wrong.

No government body is required to keep track of deaths and publicly report them. No independent inquiry is mandated. And often relatives who try to investigate the treatment of those who died say they are stymied by fear of immigration authorities, lack of access to lawyers, or sheer distance.

Federal officials say deaths are reviewed internally by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which reports them to its inspector general and decides which ones warrant investigation. Officials say they notify the detainee’s next of kin or consulate, and report the deaths to local medical authorities, who may conduct autopsies. In Mr. Bah’s case, a review before his death found no evidence of foul play, an immigration spokesman said, though after later inquiries from The Times, he said a full review of the death was under way.

But critics, including many in Congress, say this piecemeal process leaves too much to the agency’s discretion, allowing some deaths to be swept under the rug while potential witnesses are transferred or deported. They say it also obscures underlying complaints about medical care, abusive conditions or inadequate suicide prevention.

In January, the House passed a bill that would require states that receive certain federal money to report deaths in custody to their attorneys general. But the bill is stalled in the Senate, and it does not cover federal facilities.

The only tangible result of Congressional concern has been the list of 66 deaths, which names Mr. Bah and many other detainees for the first time, but raises as many questions as it answers.

For Mr. Bah’s survivors, the mystery of his death is hard to bear. In Guinea, his first wife, Dalanda, wept as she spoke about the contradictory accounts that had reached her and her two teenage sons through other detainees, including some who speculated that Mr. Bah had been beaten.

In New York, a cousin who is an American citizen, Khadidiatou Bah, 38, said she was unable to bring a lawsuit, in part because other relatives were afraid of antagonizing the authorities.

“They don’t want to push the case, or maybe they will be sent home,” she said. “This guy was killed, and we don’t know what happened.”

Lingering Questions

The list of deaths where Mr. Bah’s name surfaced is often cryptic. Along with 13 deaths cited as suicides and 14 as the result of cardiac ailments, it offers such causes as “undetermined” and “unwitnessed arrest, epilepsy.” No one’s nationality is given, some places of detention are omitted, and some names and birth dates seem garbled. As a result, many families could not be tracked down for this article.

But when they could be, they posed more disturbing questions.

In California, relatives of Walter Rodriguez-Castro, 28, said they were rebuffed when they tried to find out why his calls had stopped coming from the Kern County Jail in Bakersfield in April 2006. Then in June, his wife went to his scheduled hearing in San Francisco’s immigration court and learned that he had been dead for many weeks, his body unclaimed in the county morgue.

The coroner found that Mr. Rodriguez-Castro, a mover from El Salvador in the country illegally, had died of undiagnosed meningitis and H.I.V., after days complaining of fever, stiff neck and vomiting. The cause of death on the government’s list: “unresponsive.”

Immigration authorities said on Friday that the case was now under review, but would not answer questions about it or other deaths on the list. Sgt. Ed Komin, a spokesman for the jail, said the death had been promptly reported to immigration officials, who were responsible for notifying families.

Four sons in another family, in Sacramento, described trying for days to get medical care for their father, Maya Nand, a 56-year-old legal immigrant from Fiji, at a detention center run by the Corrections Corporation in Eloy, Ariz. Mr. Nand, an architectural draftsman, had been ailing when he was taken into custody on Jan. 13, 2005, apparently because his application for citizenship had been rejected, based on an earlier conviction for misdemeanor domestic violence. In collect calls, the sons said, he told them that despite his chest pains and breathing problems, doctors at the detention center did not take his condition seriously.

The Corrections Corporation said he had been seen and treated “multiple times.” But a letter to the family from an immigration official said his treatment was for a respiratory infection. The letter said that Mr. Nand was taken to an emergency room on Jan. 25, where congestive heart failure was diagnosed, and that he “suffered an apparent heart attack while at the hospital.” He died on Feb. 2, 2005, shackled to a hospital bed in Tucson.

Boubacar Bah had more going for him than many detainees. He had a lawyer and many friends and relatives in the United States, and his detention center in New Jersey was one of the few frequented by immigrant advocates.

But three days after he suffered a head injury in detention last year, no one in his New York circle knew that he was lying comatose in a Newark hospital, where he had already been identified as a possible organ donor.

“Thank you for the referral,” an organ-sharing network wrote on Feb. 3, 2007, according to hospital records. “This patient is a potential candidate for organ donation once brain death criteria is met.”

Four days after the fall, tipped off by a detainee who called Mr. Bah’s roommate in Brooklyn, relatives rushed to the detention center to ask Corrections Corporation employees where he was.

“They wouldn’t give us any information,” said Lamine Dieng, an American citizen who teaches physics at Bronx Community College and is married to Mr. Bah’s cousin Khadidiatou.

On the fifth day, they said, a detention official called them with the name of the hospital. There they found Mr. Bah on life support, still in custody, with a detention guard around the clock.

“There was one guard who knew Boubacar,” Ms. Bah said. “He told me on the down-low: ‘This guy, you have to fight for him. This guy was neglected.’ ”

Within the week, word of the case reached a reporter at The Times, through an immigration lawyer who had received separate calls from two detainees; they were upset about a badly injured man — named “something like Aboubakar” — left in an isolation cell and later found near death.

But advocacy groups said they were unaware of the case. And Michael Gilhooly, the spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said that without the man’s full name and eight-digit alien registration number, he could not check the information.

For those who knew Mr. Bah, it was hard to understand how such a man could lie dying without explanations.

“Everybody liked Boubacar,” said Sadio Diallo, 48, who has a tailor shop in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where he and Mr. Bah had shared an apartment with fellow immigrants since arriving in 1998. “He’s a very, very, very good man.”

For six years, Mr. Bah had worked for L’Impasse, a clothing store in the West Village, sewing dresses that sold for up to $2,000 with what a former manager, Abdul Sall, called his “magic hands.” Mr. Bah often spent Sundays at the Bronx townhouse his cousins had inherited from the family’s first American citizen, a seaman who arrived in 1943.

In Africa, Mr. Bah’s earnings not only supported his first wife, sons and ailing mother, but in Guinean tradition, allowed him to wed a second wife, long distance. It was his longing to see them all again after eight years that landed him in detention. When he returned from a three-month visit to Guinea in May 2006, immigration authorities at Kennedy Airport told him that his green card application had been denied while he was away, automatically revoking his permission to re-enter the United States. An immigration lawyer hired by his friends was unable to reopen the application while Mr. Bah waited for nine months in detention, records showed.

Mr. Bah died on May 30, 2007, after four months in a coma. His lawyer, Theodore Vialet, requested detention reports and hospital records under the Freedom of Information Act. But by the time the records arrived last autumn, the idea of a lawsuit had been dropped.

So Mr. Vialet just filed the records away — until a reporter’s call about a name on the list of dead detainees prompted him to dig them out.

After the Fall

There are 57 pages of documents, some neatly typed by medics, some scrawled by guards. Some quote detainees who said Mr. Bah was ailing for two days before his fall on Feb. 1, and asked in vain to see a doctor.

The records leave unclear exactly when or how Mr. Bah was injured in detention. But they leave no doubt that guards, supervisors, government medical employees and federal immigration officers played a role in leaving him untreated, hour after hour, as he lapsed into a stupor.

It began about 8 a.m., according to the earliest report. Guards called a medical emergency after a detainee saw Mr. Bah collapse near a toilet, hitting the back of his head on the floor.

When he regained consciousness, Mr. Bah was taken to the medical unit, which is run by the federal Public Health Service. He became incoherent and agitated, reports said, pulling away from the doctor and grabbing at the unit staff. Physicians consulted later by The Times called this a textbook symptom of intracranial bleeding, but apparently no one recognized that at the time.

He was handcuffed and placed in leg restraints on the floor with medical approval, “to prevent injury,” a guard reported. “While on the floor the detainee began to yell in a foreign language and turn from side to side,” the guard wrote, and the medical staff deemed that “the screaming and resisting is behavior problems.”

Mr. Bah was ordered to calm down. Instead, he kept crying out, then “began to regurgitate on the floor of medical,” the report said. So Mr. Bah was written up for disobeying orders. And with the approval of a physician assistant, Michael Chuley, who wrote that Mr. Bah’s fall was unwitnessed and “questionable,” the tailor was taken in shackles to a solitary confinement cell with instructions that he be monitored.

Under detention protocols, an officer videotaped Mr. Bah as he lay vomiting in the medical unit, but the camera’s battery failed, guards wrote, when they tried to tape his trip to cell No. 7.

Inside the cell, a supervisor removed Mr. Bah’s restraints. He was unresponsive to questions asked by the Public Health Service officer on duty, a report said, adding: “The detainee set up in his bed and moan and he fell to his left side and hit his head on the bed rail.”

About 9 a.m., with the approval of the health officer and a federal immigration agent, the cell was locked.

The watching began. As guards checked hourly, Mr. Bah appeared to be asleep on the concrete floor, snoring. But he could not be roused to eat lunch or dinner, and at 7:10 p.m., “he began to breathe heavily and started foaming slightly at the mouth,” a guard wrote. “I notified medical at this time.”

However, the nurse on duty rejected the guard’s request to come check, according to reports. And at 8 p.m., when the warden went to the medical unit to describe Mr. Bah’s condition, the nurse, Raymund Dela Pena, was not alarmed. “Detainee is likely exhibiting the same behavior as earlier in the day,” he wrote, adding that Mr. Bah would get a mental health exam in the morning.

About 10:30 p.m., more than 14 hours after Mr. Bah’s fall, the same nurse, on rounds, recognized the gravity of his condition: “unresponsive on the floor incontinent with foamy brown vomitus noted around mouth.” Smelling salts were tried. Mr. Bah was carried back to the medical unit on a stretcher.

Just before 11, someone at the jail called 911.

When an ambulance left Mr. Bah at the hospital, brain scans showed he had a fractured skull and hemorrhages at all sides of his swelling brain. He was rushed to surgery, and the detention center was informed of the findings.

But in a report to their supervisors the next day, immigration officials at the center described Mr. Bah’s ailment as “brain aneurysms” — a diagnosis they corrected a week later to “hemorrhages,” without mentioning the skull fracture. After Mr. Bah’s death, they wrote that his hospitalization was “subsequent to a fall in the shower.”

The nurse, Mr. Dela Pena, and the physician assistant, Mr. Chuley, said that only their superiors could discuss the case. The Public Health Service did not respond to questions, and the Corrections Corporation said medical decisions were the responsibility of the Public Health Service.

Mr. Bah’s cousins demanded an autopsy, but the Union County medical examiner’s confidential report was not completed until Dec. 6. It was sent to the county prosecutor’s office only as a matter of routine, because the matter had been classified as an “unattended accident resulting in death.”

Prosecutors said they did not investigate. “According to the report, Bah suffered a fall in the shower,” Eileen Walsh, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors, said in an e-mail message. “We are not privy to any other bits of information.”

In the home movies Mr. Bah made of his last journey home, he is only a fleeting presence: a slim man with a shy smile. But without his support, relatives in Africa say they have little money for food and none for his sons’ schooling.

His body went back to Guinea in a sealed coffin.

“I stayed here seven years, waiting for him,” his second wife, Mariama, said in French, recalling their long separation and the brief reunion that led to the birth of their son, now a toddler, while Mr. Bah was in detention.

“I wanted them to open the casket,” she added, “to know if it was him inside. Until today, I cry for him.”

Margot Williams contributed reporting.

Monday, May 5, 2008

From Haymarket to Sebokeng: the Struggle Continues

A comrade fighting for water and housing in Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, was murdered by police on the night of April 30. The ZACF condemns the latest outrage in a long tale of repression of working class movements, and calls on the oppressed to stand firm in struggle.

On 1 May 1886, the workers of the United States went on strike for the eight-hour day. It was not long before they faced the wrath of the police, the repressive forces of the state, the defenders of capital. The cops murdered four workers at a picket in Chicago on 3 May. A peaceful gathering was held the following day in Chicago's Haymarket Square to protest; the cops ordered the workers to disperse; an unknown person threw a bomb at the forces of repression; the defenders of capital opened fire; at least 50 people were killed, including several cops who shot at each other. Eight anarchists were charged with the bombing. There was never any evidence that any of them had anything to do with it; but in a farcical trial, all were convicted, for no other reason than their commitment to the liberation of the workers. Four were executed.

Every May Day, the workers of the world remember the martyrs of the struggle for the eight-hour day. But the struggle continues. And to this day, the cops, far from defending justice and the rule of law, remain ready to murder working class militants in defence of capital.

On 29 April 2008, the people of Sebokeng Ward 2 (south of Johannesburg) blockaded the Golden Highway to campaign against the introduction of prepaid water meters; to protest against houses that had been built on a landfill and were sinking into the earth; and to demand the resignation of the municipal councillor who had lied to them and refused to respond to their complaints. Once again, the police opened fire with live ammunition. This time no one was injured; but that night the cops went from door to door in Sebokeng, and arrested more than 10 working class militants. As is usual with social movement militants in South Africa today, those arrested were charged with public violence. As usual, the cops knew the charges would not stand up. The comrades were released the following day, and the charges have been dropped.

But this is not the end of the story.

One comrade, Mathaseni, a militant of the Sebokeng Ward 2 Concerned Residents and the Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP), was severely beaten in custody, and hospitalised. He was released from hospital on 30 April. He was arrested again that evening. Today, 1 May 2008, 122 years after the Haymarket strike, he was found dead. (The ZACF has not yet been able to learn comrade Mathaseni's surname.)

As at Haymarket, the cops are determined to crush the working class struggle. As at Haymarket, if they cannot suppress us legally, they turn to lies, violence and murder. It may be that they seek those who they see as "leaders" of the resistance, or it may be that they wish to throw the whole movement of the working class into fear and terror, but their aim is clear: to keep us in poverty and slavery by force.

But we will not be cowed. The struggle continues.

The CAWP and the Concerned Residents have called for an investigation of Mathaseni's murder, and for the disbanding of the local Community Policing Forum, which has been heavily involved in the repression of the working class movement. The ZACF supports these demands.

At the same time, we go further, seeing Mathaseni's murder as part of the repression of the working class that has been going on since Haymarket and long before.

Yesterday, 30 April, the Johannesburg high court ruled that the forced installation of prepaid water meters was illegal, violating the constitutional right to water. This was a victory for the working class, organised in the Coalition Against Water Privatisation and the Anti-Privatisation Forum. But against the armed force of the state, legal decisions alone will not secure the needs of the workers and the poor. The Johannesburg metro council is proposing to increase water tariffs, and to cut down even the paltry "free basic water" they have promised to deliver. Why should they be deterred by a mere court decision, when they have the cops to crack down on us? The people of Sebokeng demanded nothing other than their rights to water and housing, recognised even under South Africa's capitalist constitution. But their demands were met with denial, with bullets, with arrest, with torture, with murder.

The police force exists for no other purpose than to keep the workers and the poor in slavery, the capitalists and the politicians in power. We cannot call on the cops to protect us from crime, when they are the armed force of the biggest criminals of all. It is only by self-organisation, self-defence and direct action that we can win water, houses, electricity or decent working conditions – and ultimately build a great global movement of the workers, the poor and the peasants, to free ourselves of the cancers of greedy capitalists, lying politicians and murderous cops.


Issued by Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front
and Anarchist Black Cross South Africa,
1 May 2008

Sunday, May 4, 2008

22nd Carnival of Socialism

The 22nd Carnival of Socialism has been hosted by the Socialist Unity Blog, and is divided into sections on feminism and China. Feminism is a fundamental left issue, and it is worth noting that there is an excellent Carnival of Feminism for further reading. Meanwhile, as the world's media begins looking for China stories in advance of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, they could do worse than begin at Andy's selection of blog posts on Tibet, human rights and central planning in China.

A special May Day Carnival was hosted on Carnival of Socialism ON MAY 1ST. Please check it out!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Canadian Labor Congress expresses Solidarity With Zimbabwe Workers

Solidarity Statement with Zimbabwean Workers

May 1, 2008

On behalf of 3.2 million Canadian working women and men, and their families, I would like to extend our message of solidarity with workers in Zimbabwe, as part of May 1.

We want to commend the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) for being a strong voice representing the social, economic and political rights of Zimbabwean workers. In particular, I want to congratulate your leadership for its success in maintaining solidarity amongst all workers during the present political crisis, irrespective of gender, region, sector or political affiliation.

We believe that unions in Zimbabwe will remain a critical institution in ensuring respect for workers' rights, democracy, and the protection of human rights. We support your efforts to protect the principle of a free and fair electoral process and the current political efforts to "protect the Votes" of millions of Zimbabwean citizens who went to the polls to elect their political leadership.

The Canadian Labour Congress considers the ZCTU a crucial voice in our global struggles to defend working families everywhere.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Rally for Justice for Sean Bell

Please come out to the RALLY at the Queens District Attorney's office TODAY at 5:30pm @ 125-01 Queens Blvd. (between Hoover Ave & 82nd Ave.) E or F train to Union Turnpike.

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: of deadprez
Date: Apr 25, 2008 10:55 AM

50 shots​!​!​!​ how is that NOT murde​r?​ fuck this syste​m.​.​.

NEW YORK - Three​ detec​tives​ were acqui​tted of all charg​es Frida​y in the 50-​shot killi​ng of an unarm​ed groom​-​to-​be on his weddi​ng day, a case that put the NYPD at the cente​r of anoth​er dispu​te invol​ving alleg​ation​s of exces​sive firep​ower.

Justi​ce Arthu​r Coope​rman deliv​ered the verdi​ct in a Queen​s court​room packe​d with spect​ators​,​ inclu​ding victi​m Sean Bell'​s fianc​ee and paren​ts,​ and at least​ 200 peopl​e gathe​red outsi​de the build​ing.

The verdi​ct provo​ked an outpo​uring​ of emoti​ons:​ Bell'​s fianc​ee immed​iatel​y walke​d out of the room.​ His mothe​r cried​.

Outsi​de the court​house​,​ which​ was surro​unded​ by score​s of polic​e offic​ers,​ many in the crowd​ began​ weepi​ng as news of the verdi​ct said.

Other​s were enrag​ed,​ swear​ing and screa​ming "​Murde​rers!​ Murde​rers!​"​ or "​KKK!​"​

Bell,​ a 23-​year-​old black​ man, was kille​d in a hail of gunfi​re outsi​de a seedy​ strip​ club in Queen​s on Nov. 25, 2006 — his weddi​ng day — as he was leavi​ng his bache​lor party​ with two frien​ds.

Offic​ers Micha​el Olive​r,​ 36, and Gesca​rd Isnor​a,​ 29, stood​ trial​ for mansl​aught​er while​ Offic​er Marc Coope​r,​ 40, was charg​ed only with reckl​ess endan​germe​nt.​ Two other​ shoot​ers weren​'​t charg​ed.​ Olive​r squee​zed off 31 shots​;​ Isnor​a fired​ 11 round​s;​ and Coope​r shot four times​.

The offic​ers,​ compl​ainin​g that pretr​ial publi​city had unfai​rly paint​ed them as cold-​blood​ed kille​rs,​ opted​ to have the judge​ decid​e the case rathe​r than a jury.

The judge​ indic​ated that the polic​e offic​ers'​ versi​on of event​s was more credi​ble than the victi​ms'​ versi​on.​ "The peopl​e have not prove​d beyon​d a reaso​nable​ doubt​ that each defen​dant was not justi​fied"​ in firin​g,​ he said.

A convi​ction​ on mansl​aught​er could​ have broug​ht up to 25 years​ in priso​n;​ the penal​ty for reckl​ess endan​germe​nt,​ a misde​meano​r,​ is a year behin​d bars.

The case broug​ht back painf​ul memor​ies of other​ NYPD shoot​ings,​ such as the 1999 shoot​ing of Amado​u Diall​o — an Afric​an immig​rant who was gunne​d down in a hail of 41 bulle​ts by polic​e offic​ers who misto​ok his walle​t for a gun. The acqui​ttal of the offic​ers in that case creat​ed a storm​ of prote​st,​ with hundr​eds arres​ted after​ takin​g to the stree​ts in demon​strat​ion.

The mood surro​undin​g this case has been muted​ by compa​rison​,​ altho​ugh Bell'​s fianc​ee,​ paren​ts and their​ suppo​rters​,​ inclu​ding the Rev. Al Sharp​ton,​ have held ralli​es deman​ding that the offic​ers — two of whom are black​ — be held accou​ntabl​e.

Still​,​ a phala​nx of polic​e offic​ers,​ some unifo​rmed and some in the depar​tment​'​s commu​nity affai​rs polo shirt​s,​ was stati​oned outsi​de the court​house​ Frida​y.​ The build​ing was ringe​d by metal​ barri​cades​.​ Some in the crowd​ wore butto​ns with Bell'​s pictu​re or held signs​ sayin​g "​Justi​ce for Sean Bell.​"​ After​ the verdi​ct was read,​ some in the crowd​ appro​ached​ offic​ers but were held back;​ the jostl​ing quick​ly died down.

After​ the verdi​ct,​ Polic​e Commi​ssion​er Raymo​nd Kelly​ ackno​wledg​ed that some peopl​e were disap​point​ed with the acqui​ttals​.

"We don'​t antic​ipate​ viole​nce,​ but we are prepa​red for any conti​ngenc​y,​"​ he said.

The nearl​y two-​month​ trial​ was marke​d by deepl​y diver​gent accou​nts of the night​.

The defen​se paint​ed the victi​ms as drunk​en thugs​ who the offic​ers belie​ved were armed​ and dange​rous.​ Prose​cutor​s sough​t to convi​nce the judge​ that the victi​ms had been mindi​ng their​ own busin​ess,​ and that the offic​ers were inept​,​ trigg​er-​happy​ aggre​ssors​.

None of the offic​ers took the witne​ss stand​ in his own defen​se.​ Inste​ad,​ Coope​rman heard​ trans​cript​s of the offic​ers testi​fying​ befor​e a grand​ jury,​ sayin​g they belie​ved they had good reaso​n to use deadl​y force​.​ The judge​ also heard​ testi​mony from Bell'​s two injur​ed compa​nions​,​ who insis​ted the maels​trom erupt​ed witho​ut warni​ng.

Both sides​ were consi​stent​ on one point​:​ The utter​ chaos​ surro​undin​g the last momen​ts of Bell'​s life.

"It happe​ned so quick​,​"​ Isnor​a said in his grand​ jury testi​mony.​ "It was like the last thing​ I ever wante​d to do.


Bell'​s compa​nions​ — Trent​ Benef​ield and Josep​h Guzma​n — also offer​ed drama​tic testi​mony about​ the episo​de.​ Benef​ield and Guzma​n were both wound​ed;​ Guzma​n still​ has four bulle​ts lodge​d in his body.

Refer​ring to Isnor​a,​ Guzma​n said,​ "​This dude is shoot​ing like he's crazy​,​ like he's out of his mind.


The victi​ms and shoot​ers were set on a fatef​ul colli​sion cours​e by a pair of innoc​uous decis​ions:​ Bell'​s to have a last-​minut​e bache​lor party​ at Kalua​ Cabar​et,​ and the under​cover​ detec​tives​'​ to inves​tigat​e repor​ts of prost​ituti​on at the club.

As the club close​d aroun​d 4 a.​m.​,​ Sanch​ez and Isnor​a claim​ed they overh​eard Bell and his frien​ds first​ flirt​ with women​,​ then taunt​ a stran​ger who respo​nded by putti​ng his right​ hand in his pocke​t as if he had a gun. Guzma​n,​ they testi​fied,​ said,​ "Yo, go get my gun" — somet​hing Bell'​s frien​ds denie​d.

Isnor​a said he decid​ed to arm himse​lf,​ call for backu​p — "​It'​s getti​ng hot,​"​ he told his super​visor​ — and tail Bell,​ Guzma​n and Benef​ield as they went aroun​d the corne​r and got into Bell'​s car. He claim​ed that after​ warni​ng the men to halt,​ Bell pulle​d away,​ bumpe​d him and ramme​d an unmar​ked polic​e van that conve​rged on the scene​ with Olive​r at the wheel​.

The detec​tive also alleg​ed that Guzma​n made a sudde​n move as if he were reach​ing for a gun.

"I yelle​d '​Gun!​'​ and fired​,​"​ he said.​ "In my mind,​ I knew (​Guzma​n)​ had a gun.


Benef​ield and Guzma​n testi​fied that there​ were no order​s.​ Inste​ad,​ Guzma​n said,​ Isnor​a "​appea​red out of nowhe​re"​ with a gun drawn​ and shot him in the shoul​der — the first​ of 16 shots​ to enter​ his body.

"​That'​s all there​ was — gunfi​re,​"​ he said.​ "​There​ wasn'​t nothi​ng else.


With tires​ scree​ching​,​ glass​ break​ing and bulle​ts flyin​g,​ the offic​ers claim​ed that they belie​ved they were the ones under​ fire.​ Olive​r respo​nded by empty​ing his semia​utoma​tic pisto​l,​ reloa​ding,​ and empty​ing it again​,​ as the super​visor​ sough​t cover​.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


by Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front

We welcome and support the decision by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union for their workers neither to unload nor transport the shipment of Chinese-made armaments destined for Zimbabwe. This is a very encouraging sign of working class solidarity and internationalism, and we hope that such actions will indeed prevent this weapons consignment from reaching its destination - the Zimbabwean Defence Force.

At the same time, if the transport workers should fail, if President Robert Mugabe's friends should find a way to bypass their resistance, all who stand with the Zimbabwean people should be ready to take a stand. Should the action taken by Satawu fail to prevent the armaments from being transported across South African territory to Zimbabwe, we call on all progressive elements across the country to intervene.

On 29 March 2008, parliamentary, presidential and local elections were held in Zimbabwe. This represented the last-gasp attempt of the Movement for Democratic Change to oust the 28-year-old regime of incumbent President Robert Mugabe, after a series of contestations since 2000 had resulted in an impasse.

The results of the parliamentary election show that the MDC has a narrow majority, but the results of the presidential election have been unaccountably delayed – presumably to allow Mugabe's regime to reassert its authority over the masses of the people who have been brutalised and impoverished.

These facts are well known to the world's progressive forces and to those who struggle for economic, social and political justice and equality. Now, in the hour of Mugabe's ultimate betrayal, a new threat has arisen in the form of a shipment of Chinese armaments – including rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47 assault rifle rounds and mortars – which, we fear with justification, will be used to forcibly suppress the democratic forces in Zimbabwe, and could lead directly to the murder of thousands of Zimbabwean people.

We are fully aware of the heroic resistance of the Zimbabwean people to racist domination and their successful defeat of the regime of Ian Smith in 1980. This resistance was both pluralistic via the guerrillas of both Zanla and Zipra, and multiracial – even if the majority of white "Rhodesians" chose to abandon their country after independence.

But we are equally aware of the grievous injury done to the cause of the people by Mugabe's paranoia over the years – even if this paranoia was well-founded on apartheid attempts on his own life – and the dead of Matabeleland [1] and the displaced of Operation Murambatsvina [2] cry out for social justice.

Now, with the whole world watching – and the Southern African Development Community vacillating as predicted in its usual ineffective "engagements" – Mugabe has again stolen not only a march on the opposition, but the future of his people.

Journalists are being expelled and election observers have already fled the roost, allowing blood to flow in the streets unseen and unchecked: scanty reports now emerge of torture, murder, evictions, dispossessions and beating.

And now we have caught, red-handed, a Chinese shipment of arms to this regime, a regime that by all accounts is in terminal decline, with the highest inflation rate in the world and an elite that is already displaying the most grotesque elements of social decay imaginable.

We call on all progressive groups, organisations and individuals to physically prevent, whether peacefully or with necessary force, the shipment of arms to one of the world's most despised pariah dictatorships. This call extends to the progressive world community to do whatever they can to bring this to public attention and to prevent possible massacre.

This could include:

Targeting and putting pressure on South African Port Authorities not to allow the consignment to come onto land.

Targeting South African, Chinese and Zimbabwean embassies and diplomatic missions with pickets, protests and other non-violent direct actions - against representatives of these governments - and not the ordinary citizens of these states. (We will not tolerate any actions against Chinese, Zimbabwean or South African people on the basis of their ethnicity and/ or nationality).

Gathering intelligence about the whereabouts, planned route and mode of transport for the armaments, and publicising these.

Blockading these routes in a non-violent manner with an eye to preventing the armaments from reaching their destination.

Blockading the South African border with Zimbabwe should the armaments reach it.

Supporting and sustaining the transport workers in their refusal to unload and transport the weapons
Defending the transport workers and anyone else who faces repression as a result of their efforts to stop the weapons reaching their destination.

Link this struggle directly to global opposition to China's campaign to suppress the Tibetan people and turn the 2008 Olympics into a replica of the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany – where nationalist sporting events were used as a cover for gross human rights abuses.

What we know:

A Chinese ship, An Yue Jiang - owned by the parastatal Chinese Ocean Shipping Company - carrying armaments destined for Zimbabwe has anchored at Durban harbour.

The shipment contains almost three million rounds of ammunitions for small arms and AK-47s, about 3 500 mortars and mortar launchers, as well as 1 500 rockets for rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and is valued at R9,88million.

The ship's cargo documentation was allegedly finalised just 3 days after the Zimbabwean elections.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union has refused to unload or transport the arms consignment, although this does not mean someone else won't.

About 10 Chinese soldiers armed with pistols have been seen with Zimbabwean military officials in Harare.


For further information contact Michael Schmidt, ZACF International Secretary on 082 334-6665 or Jonathan Payn, ZACF Regional Secretary on 084 946-4240


[1] The Matabeleland Massacre, between 1982 - 1983 was an attempt by ZANU-PF on the ethnic cleansing of people of the Ndebele ethno-political group living in the Matabeleland region. An estimated 20 000 people were murdered.

[2] Known in English as Operation Drive Out Trash, Operation Murambastvina was a large scale government campaign to forcibly clear out slum areas, effectively displacing an estimated 2.4 million people.
See http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Operation_Murambatsvina

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