Wednesday, May 27, 2009

EF! Roadshow folks arrested at Home Depot action in Denver!

Hey, all you 'angry Home Depot customers', call 1-800-553-3199 (press
extension # 5)
Tell 'em to drop the charges against our friends in Arapahoe County
Jail, Colorado, and to get the hell out of wild Patagonia!

For Immediate Release: May, 27, 2009

Home Depot has Earth First! activists arrested for action against dams
in Patagonia

Denver, CO-- Two Earth First! activists were arrested at a Home Depot
this morning in Glendale. The arrests followed a banner being hung off
the roof of a Home Depot store reading "Dam Home Depot, NOT
Patagonia!" Supporters of the arrested activists demand that Home
Depot cut all ties and voice their opposition to this project at
tomorrows corporate shareholders meeting tomorrow in Atlanta, Georgia.

The banner-drop action was intended to remind both the public and the
company: "We've fought The Home Depot before and won." Almost ten
years ago, Earth First! groups around the country joined with
Rainforest Action Network and others forced Home Depot to adopt wood
product policies that removed old growth from their shelves. But their
involvement in the HidroAysen project in Patagonia, Chile shows their
commitments to 'green business' practices looking a lot like empty
Public Relations.

International Rivers, an organization working to protect rivers and
defend the rights of communities that depend on them, explains that:

The HidroAysen project involves 3 dams on the Pascua River and 2 dams
on the Baker River that would flood globally rare forest ecosystems
and some of the most productive agricultural land in the Aysen region.
Electricity from these dams would be sent thousands of kilometers
north to serve Chile’s biggest cities and its mammoth copper industry.
More than 1,500 miles of transmission lines would require one of the
world's longest clearcuts--much of it through untouched temperate
rainforests found nowhere else on the planet. US retailer The Home
Depot is the largest buyer of timber products from the main Chilean
interest promoting the dams. The Home Depot has been asked by
thousands of people, including socially responsible investors, to stop
buying timber from suppliers that plan to destroy the rivers and
forests of Patagonia.

According to Ron DeFeo of Home Depot (from a blog post this morning):
"we don’t think it’s our place to weigh in on an issue that we have no
expertise or influence over." While DeFeo denies the company's
involvement and refuses to accept the research of International
Rivers, his blog post admits that "the president of our supplier’s
parent company owns shares, along with his family, in one of the
companies that would work on the project."

Earth First!, which is more of a movement than an organization, has
autonomous groups around the world who target corporations that are
responsible for devastating the planet. The movement currently has a
national Roadshow crossing the country to mobilize people to take
action against companies like Home Depot, which is currently featured

More information about this campaign at:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Chile: Call for international support from squat, La Idea

Infoshop News May 25, 2009

La Idea, an anarchist squat based in downtown Santiago is under intense repression by the Chilean State. A young anarchist, Mauricio Morales, recently died under tragic circumstances when an explosive device that he was transporting detonated unexpectedly. The bourgeois press has incorrectly claimed that Mauricio lived in La Idea. Mauricio occasionally visited the squat, an open and public space where many social events take place. The state violently raided La Idea, and the press is now assisting intelligence agencies in crafting false information about the social space. The state claims to have discovered materials for making explosives in La Idea.

The Chilean state is utilizing Mauricio's death to repress our movement once again. The democratic regime in Chile continues to torture and kill comrades, the same tactics of the Pinochet military dictatorship.

International support and solidarity is needed. The state utilizes the bourgeois press as an apparatus of repression. A small number of powerful families control the press, and they are directly aligned with intelligence agencies. Action is needed from abroad to insure the safety of our comrades here in Chile. This is a call for a diversity of tactics.

Communiqué from the occupied social center, La Idea, concerning recent events
Posted on

We participate in the squat known as “La Idea.” We openly denounce what we suffered on Friday, May 22.

Around 1:30 in the afternoon while cooking and waiting for news on the television to inform ourselves about recent events, the Police of Investigation (PDI), entered our house, violently kicking down the door and implementing a military operation with all of the technological tools that they have in their control, SWAT equipment, rifles with laser scopes, automatic guns, and helicopters. They abruptly threw us against the wall, handcuffing us and pointing their rifles at us without asking questions. Investigators began to search the house, including the roof and nearby structures that are also unoccupied. Meanwhile, they kept us in the patio forcing us to look down at that ground so that we could not see what they were doing behind our backs.

Next, investigators tried to identify which bedrooms belong to each of us. The investigators violently forced us one by one into the rooms; they prevented us from seeing what objects they removed from each location. Investigators in civilian clothes arrived, many of them with black bags.

The investigators completely trashed our bedrooms, even destroying the floor and digging under the floorboard.

The police returned us one by one with our backs to the wall. At this time, investigators began to question us about chemicals that they had supposedly found in the squat. First, investigators said that they had been found in the screen printing room, but then they changed the story to that it had been in the dinning room. Later, police said that it had been found in a bedroom, and finally they claimed that it was in the practice space. We all denied their accusations, and when we responded that they were simply planting false evidence, the investigators became enraged. They became violent, even kicking one of our comrades. We never stopped affirming that the house serves the role of an open social space. Explosives are not fabricated here, much less do we even store similar materials. We were always aware that the house was under surveillance. We remained firm that the purpose of the space was for public activities, acts of solidarity, and self-education.

About five hours later, they brought us to offices of the Brigade of Special Police Investigations (Bipe). The police told us that we had to count our belongings of value—objects and money—but we never saw any documentation. When we noted that money was missing, they became violent once again, screaming at the Argentine comrades that this was not their country.

Hours later, we realized that the operation extended to the entire block, and the bourgeois press was outside, transforming this into the media event of the day. The seven of us found ourselves handcuffed and followed with vigilance. In the office of the Brigade of Special Police Investigations, they kept us apart and uniformed of each other's whereabouts. Next, they completely undressed us in the nude, removing our piercings and shoe laces. They constantly threatened us by claiming that we would remain in jail. Hours later, we would learn that we were not actually under arrest, instead they brought us in for a voluntary declaration and to sign documents. We did not know this until a lawyer was present. Then, their treatment of us quickly changed, and after several hours they returned our phones. They allowed us to exit the premise through a door where the press was not present. The only thing we know at this moment is that we have to wait for a date for the declaration.

They kept the three argentine comrades for several hours, asking them more questions and taking them to the immigration office to review their legal status. They retained their visas, placing their legal status as an infraction. They must come into the office to sign a document every day. We note that the next day a comrade was forced to sign a document that did not correspond to documents from the day before.

By the end of the day, we returned to our home to find numerous objects missing: a digital video camera, a digital photo camera, two computers, two bicycles in bad condition, movies, cds, cellphone documents, written material, zines, books, song lyrics, clothing, and money in US dollars, Chilean pesos, and Argentine pesos. They also broke into a money box with 60,000 Chilean pesos—about $120—that we know will never be returned.

We declare that this was a demeaning treatment towards us. They entered our home with violence just because it is a squat. They treated us with humiliation and abuse. They treated us like scum. They criticized our way of life. They ridiculed the foreign status of our Argentine comrades.

There have never been explosive materials in this house, nor written materials for the fabrication of bombs. Children come on a daily basis, and that is obviously not the profile of the house. Many people come and go in the house, but we are also careful that everything that goes on in the house is decided in an assembly, fulfilling the role of a social space and also our day by day needs.

The capitalist press is lying just like it always has in the past, and the squats are now its target. In the individual declarations, we, the occupants of this house, affirmed that Mauricio Morales has never lived in La Idea, as the press is claiming. He visited the house during public activities where many people participated.

The prosecutor wants to attack us with planted evidence. We denounce once again the false accusations that they always create. We stand in solidarity with others who have been harassed by the police—the comrades who were arrested friday night and brutally beaten.

We stand in solidarity with the family and friends of Mauricio Morales. The ideas of freedom are with us just like so many others are with us everywhere—people who act in diverse ways.

We call for international solidarity with us so that our voices may be heard. We call for more acts of assistance, resistance, and solidarity against the situation that attacks us once again.

We are here defending our home and space, making a call for solidarity.

-La Idea, Santiago, $hile

5/26 Picekt in support of the Six Puerto Rican Protesters


“Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States for 111 years: a disgraceful colonial condition in the 21st century. It is time to resolve this crime against our people.” This is the demand of the six pro-independence protesters who interrupted the U.S. Congress and who hope their actions will produce more acts of civil disobedience regarding the colonial status of the island.

The protesters, who have been summoned to court on May 26, are the artists Luis Enrique Romero, María “Chabela” Rodríguez y José Rivera (Tony Mapeyé), mechanic designer Luis Suárez, nurse Eugenia Pérez-Martijo, and retired laborer Ramón Díaz.

The six interrupted a U.S. Congress session by singing “Oubao Moin” and carrying Puerto Rican flags and signs that read “111 years of colonization is a disgrace.” The protesters could face sentences of up to six months in jail and fines.

The struggle for Puerto Rican independence is the result of many battles that have not ceased. In 1954, five Puerto Rican conducted a shooting attack against member of the U.S. Congress to demand the independence of the island. The 1954 attackers have served more than 25 years in U.S. federal prisons. To date, thousands of pro-independence activists have been persecuted and incarcerated by the U.S. government for their actions. Now is time to decolonize Puerto Rico and put an end to the lies and deceit used by the U.S. government for the past 111 years.

Freedom for Puerto Rico and its political prisoners.


Where: 26 Federal Plaza, Manhattan

When: May 26 at 5:30 pm

Directions: 4, 6, R, W to City Hall

Support by making a monetary contribution for the activists at any Banco Popular and make a deposit to bank account #760060177 to María I. Rodríguez and specify that it is for a Banco Popular (BPPR) account in Puerto Rico.


Solidarity groups will go to Washington DC on the day of the hearing. For more information contact

¡Free Puerto Rico! ¡Freedom for our political prisoners!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Associated Press Story on Prison Legal News

The article below went out on the Associated Press wire services today and will be running nationally over the next few days. For those interested in learning more about PLN our website is at:

Ex-con's magazine focuses on advocacy, prison life

WEST BRATTLEBORO, Vt. --To prison inmates, he's a jailhouse lawyer made good.

To wardens, he's a thorn in the side.

To prison advocates, Paul Wright is a success story: Once a killer, then a prisoner, now a journalist with a cause. He has carved out a niche with his Prison Legal News, a self-help magazine.

The publication, known as PLN, does more than highlight mail censorship, sexual abuse by prison guards and prison overcrowding in its black-and-white pages. The nonprofit tabloid often takes on the role of prisoner advocate, going to court against states and private prison operators -- and winning money, reform and public attention for prisoners.

"It's a voice from the inside, but it's a helluva lot more reasoned and balanced than you might think, even though the point of view is obvious," said Fred Cohen, co-editor of Correctional Law Reporter, a trade publication that serves prison officials. "It's advocacy, in the best sense."

Wright, a former U.S. Army military policeman, started the monthly publication in 1990. Back then, he was inmate No. 930783 at Clallam Bay Correctional Center in Clallam Bay, Wash., where he served 16 years of a 25-year term for killing a cocaine dealer he was trying to rob.

Now, he produces the 56-page tabloid from a split-level home on a cul-de-sac in West Brattleboro, Vt., where he moved after his release from prison in 2003.

It's a long way from his jail cell, where Wright wrote the 10-page first edition on a typewriter, photocopied it and arranged for a contact on the outside to mail it to 75 prisoners he knew in Washington.

It was immediately banned in all state prisons in Washington, prompting Wright and co-editor Ed Mead -- also a prisoner -- to file the first of dozens of legal challenges targeting regulations that barred inmates from receiving PLN and other publications.

PLN has won similar court fights in Alabama, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and California, where state prison officials agreed in 2006 to pay PLN $65,100 for five-year subscriptions for each of the state's 157 prison legal libraries to settle a lawsuit.

The legal challenges aren't always about getting PLN into prisoners' hands.

In 2007, the magazine won a $541,000 settlement in a public records lawsuit against the state of Washington that started with Wright's request for the identities of the Department of Corrections officials who participate in executions.

"PLN is not fighting for cable TV or air conditioning for prisoners," said Rhonda Brownstein, legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, in Montgomery, Ala. "What they're fighting for is basic human rights, and the basic human rights we're talking about are the right to be free from violence by other prisoners or guards, the right to adequate medical care, adequate mental health care and the right -- to an extent -- to freedom of _expression."

But it's the magazine that reaches deepest into prison cells and law libraries.

Subtitled "Dedicated to protecting human rights," it uses lawyers, public policy experts, advocates and prison scribes as correspondents.

The premise is simple, Wright says: "We're not telling prisoners 'Hey, here's how you make bombs.' We're not telling people 'Hey, you need to kill the guards in the morning.' Rather, what we're doing is we're telling them on a fundamental level `You're human, you have civil rights and you can use the civil system to enforce them,'" he said.

The publication is stuffed with legal advice, tips on staying healthy behind bars and news about court rulings that involve prison labor, medical treatment in prisons and suicide prevention programs in prisons. Its correspondents have ranged from late civil rights attorney William Kunstler to imprisoned Philadelphia cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

To prisoners, it's the Bible. After all, there's no hotter topic behind bars than the law.

"Everybody wants the case that's gonna get them out of jail," said Carol Callea, director of legal education for inmate access to courts for Vermont prisons. "When something happens, they want to know about it."

With no photos or color, and headlines like "Alabama Prisoner Awarded $90,000 for Work-Related Eye Injury" and "Pro Se Tips and Tactics," it's not a slick publication.

And it doesn't have to be. It has a captive audience.

About 80 percent of its 7,000 subscribers are incarcerated in the U.S. Subscriptions are cheaper in jail -- $24 a year for inmates, $40 for anyone not incarcerated, free for death row prisoners.

Fans of the magazine say PLN's value lies in giving prisoners truthful, no-nonsense tips to fight their legal battles and, in the process, disenfranchising jailhouse lawyers peddling less reliable information.

"It's really an extraordinary resource, and it's not just a resource for jailhouse lawyers, although it's certainly that," said Elizabeth Alexander, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's national prison project. "It's also a resource for prison rights advocates."

Not that Wright hasn't made some enemies.

"He's very bright, sometimes very effective," said Eldon Vail, secretary of the Washington state Department of Corrections, a frequent Wright target. "He has a world view shaped by his experience that isn't always right. He doesn't always preach a balanced view, but it's a prisoners' rights magazine and you don't expect that."

Wright, a 43-year-old father of two, is articulate and plainspoken in person, but says he has no interest in becoming a lawyer. He's the one sought by lawyers and others to speak at seminars and conference, he says.

With the nation's prison population surpassing 2 million people, he sees a growing market for Prison Legal News -- the only prisoners' rights publication with a national scope -- if only because it covers prison life with the inmates in mind.

"Frankly, the mainstream media, they suck on criminal justice issues. Most of what passes for criminal justice coverage, it's press release journalism. The prosecutor's office or the warden's office or the DOC office issues a press release and that's all (reporters) do.

"They don't seek any input from prisoners, prisoners' advocates, or whatever. It's just a totally one-sided story," he said.

Paul Wright, Editor

Prison Legal News

P.O. Box 2420

West Brattleboro, VT 05303

802 257-1342

Seattle Office

2400 NW 80th St. Suite 148

Seattle, WA 98117


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Parole Hearing for Peltier on July 27

Leonard Peltier's first full parole hearing was held in 1993, at
which time his case was continued for a 15-year reconsideration. On
Wednesday, it was announced (in Portland, OR) that Mr. Peltier has
recently applied for and been granted a parole hearing. The hearing
is scheduled for July 27, 2009. All supporters are encouraged to
step up their efforts in support of parole for Leonard Peltier.

Letters in Support of Parole

It is really important that everyone write letters in support of
Leonard's petition for parole. These letters can be quite simple
and should cover the basic points important for parole decisions. A
sample letter follows. Feel free to use it, but know that it's even
better if you write one in your own words. Be courteous and concise.

Get as many people to sign similar letters, as well. Carry a sheaf of
spare letters with you. Get one signature per letter, that is, rather
than using a petition format. Mail them to the Parole Commission,
but also send copies to the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee
(contact information below).

Guidelines for General Supporters

First, we ask that you sign the online at

Next, draft correspondence to the U.S. Parole Commission. A sample
letter follows.

Sample Letter

United States Parole Commission
5550 Friendship Boulevard
Suite 420
Chevy Chase, MD 20815-7286
(Insert Date)

Re: LEONARD PELTIER #89637-132

Dear Commissioners,

Convicted in connection with the deaths on June 26, 1975, of
Ronald Williams and Jack Coler, agents of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, Mr. Leonard Peltier remains imprisoned at the United
States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

The court record in this case clearly shows that government
prosecutors have long held that they do not know who killed Mr. Coler
and Mr. Williams nor what role Leonard Peltier "may have" played
in the tragic shoot-out.

Further, in a decision filed by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
on December 18, 2002, Mr. Peltier's sentences "were imposed in
violation of [Peltier's] due process rights because they were based
on information that was false due to government misconduct," and,
according to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, in 2003: ".Much
of the government's behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and its
prosecution of Leonard Peltier is to be condemned. The government
withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not

Despite these admissions, Leonard Peltier has served over 33 years
in prison.

After careful consideration of the facts in Leonard Peltier's case,
I have concluded that Leonard Peltier does not represent a risk to
the public. First, Leonard Peltier has no prior convictions and has
advocated for non-violence throughout his prison term. Furthermore,
Leonard Peltier has been a model prisoner. He has received excellent
evaluations from his work supervisors on a regular basis. He
continues to mentor young Native prisoners, encouraging them to
lead clean and sober lives. He has used his time productively,
disciplining himself to be a talented painter and an expressive
writer. Although Leonard Peltier maintains that he did not kill
the agents, he has openly expressed remorse and sadness over
their deaths.

Most admirably, Mr. Peltier contributes regular support to those
in need. He donates his paintings to charities including battered
women's shelters, half way houses, alcohol and drug treatment
programs, and Native American scholarship funds. He also coordinates
an annual holiday gift drive for the children of the Pine Ridge
Indian Reservation.

Leonard Peltier is widely recognized for his good deeds and in
turn has won several awards including the North Star Frederick
Douglas Award; Federation of Labour (Ontario, Canada) Humanist of
the Year Award; Human Rights Commission of Spain International
Human Rights Prize; and 2004 Silver Arrow Award for Lifetime
Achievement. Mr. Peltier also has been nominated for the Nobel
Peace Prize six times.

Leonard Peltier is now over 60 years of age-a great-grandfather-and
suffers from partial blindness, diabetes, a heart condition, and
high blood pressure.

I recognize the grave nature of the events of June 26, 1975,
and I extend my deepest sympathy to the families of those who
died that day. However, I find aspects of this case to also be of
concern and I believe Leonard Peltier deserves to be reunited with
his family and allowed to live the remaining years of his life in
peace. I also believe that, rather than presenting a threat to the
public, Mr. Peltier's release would help to heal a wound that has
long impeded better relations between the federal government and
American Indians.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely yours,


(Your Name)
(Your Street Address)
(Your City, State, and Zip Code)

For Family and Friends

As with any professional correspondence, your support letter should
be on letterhead (if you have Microsoft Word or another similar
program you can easily create professional-looking letterhead from
a template). The letterhead should include all of your contact
information including your name, address, phone number(s) and e-mail
address if applicable.

Describe your relationship with Leonard -- how do you know him, for
how long, etc. Write about his character, and his accomplishments
both before and during imprisonment. Discuss improvements made
since being incarcerated such as education and his philanthropic
work. Discuss Leonard's positive attitude and, despite his innocence,
the fact that he has openly expressed remorse and sadness over the
deaths that occurred on June 26, 1975.

Finish your support letter by telling the Parole Board how you
will support Leonard once he is granted parole. Your support might
be financial, such as a place to live, use of a vehicle, or help
finding job offers. Your support can also be emotional such as
providing advice and encouragement.

IMPORTANT NOTE TO ALL SUPPORTERS: When you write a letter in support
of Leonard's parole, mail the letter directly to the U.S. Parole
Commission, but also please send a copy of your correspondence to
the Peltier Legal Team, c/o LP-DOC, P.O. Box 7488, Fargo, ND 58106.
Time to set him free... Because it is the RIGHT thing to do.

Friends of Peltier

new Marie Mason zine out

Thanks to various supporters, the new Marie Mason zine is ready. It includes her trial statement; drawings and poetry she made after her arrest; and excerpts from an article on her case.

Three versions are available in PDF:

* an unformatted one you can read straight-through
* one formatted for printing in black and white
* one formatted for printing with a color cover

We encourage you to print this zine out and distribute copies widely.

Deadline for PAN vol 2#2 coming up soon! (submit!)

Just a reminder that the 4th issue of Prison Action News is due to come
out July 1. We need all submissions in by June 1 (you can submit by email
to or by mail to PAN c/o Boston ABC PO Box
230182 Boston, MA 02123 USA). If you or prisoners you know have an entry,
we would love to have them!

Below are guidelines and a brief description of PAN!

Prison Action News is a newsletter collaboratively published by prisoner
support groups worldwide for prisoners to report on their struggles and
acts of resistance from behind bars. All submissions must be received by
Dec 1st or June 1st and be in compliance with the following guidelines.
Please note that we retain the right as editors to alter submissions for
grammatical or content-related issues. Prison Action News is one part of
the multi-faceted Prison Abolition movement. We feel as though the
writing that goes into Prison Action News is equally vital but different
than other forms of writing, such as poetry, political essays, etc. but is
often less represented.

The idea for Prison Action News came out of the 2007 Anarchist Black Cross
gathering. We wanted to create a venue for prisoners to share updates of
their activities with each other, similar to the updates we wrote in our
network newsletter. Recognizing that there is far too much activity
occurring in prisons to put in our quarterly newsletter, we decided to
create a new newsletter specifically to report activity within prisons. As
people on the outside, we can facilitate this dialog of prison
resistance, and help our comrades on the inside hear from each other about
the inspiring actions they are taking. We have recently opened up
submissions to prisoners and prison groups worldwide. With your help this
newsletter will be a success!

1. An update must not exceed 500 words.
2. We will not accept submissions with racist, sexist, homophobic, or
otherwise oppressive language.
3. An update may be a report on resistance activities of individual
prisoners or prison groups (this can include, but is not limited to,
radical book groups, hunger strike, general strike, letter writing
campaigns, etc.)
4. PAN is accepting artwork for the covers of upcoming issues, so send us
your designs!
5. A report should not be a political essay or a report on prison
conditions, rather the response and resistance to these conditions 6. One
submission per group, per prison, per newsletter
7. We will not report on gang activity.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

South Korean government arrests 450 workers as general strike seems imminent

May 17 2009

Police apprehended more than 450 labor activists Saturday after a violent protest in Daejeon which left about 150 injured. Labour unrest is set to escalate this month as truck drivers plan to strike and a major labour umbrella group pledged to join.

Thousands of Korean Confederation of Trade Unions members rallied in the city to mark the anniversary of the 1980 Gwangju Uprising. They mourned a unionized trucker who committed suicide earlier this month in what colleagues said was a protest against the government's policies.

The clash erupted when activists marched toward a major transportation company and a police station at 6pm. They attacked riot police with flagpoles and stones, while police fought back with water cannons and batons.

About 50 protesters and 104 police officers were injured during the three-hour skirmish, according to the Daejeon Police Agency. The windows of 99 vehicles, including police buses, were shattered, it said. A total of 457 workers were taken to police stations. Police booked all of them and will seek arrest warrants for those who led the protest and were involved in the violence.

The labour group said police caused the collision by blocking their parade violently.

The bulk of protesters were from the Korean Cargo Workers' Union, which just ahead of the rally approved a plan to go on a walkout demanding labour rights, better working conditions and reinstatement of dismissed workers.

The leaders of the 15,000-member union will decide the strike date later. They will meet with representatives of railway, port, construction and public sector unions early this week to discuss joint actions.

During the rally, the KCTU declared it will advance its general strike scheduled for next month to join force with the truck drivers. The union is demanding basic labor rights for its members.

The government does not allow them the right for collective action because they are formally categorized as self-employed businessmen and not as employed workers. The drivers usually own trucks and work under contract with transport companies.

They also demand that transport firms cancel the reduction of payments and that Korea Express Inc., a major logistics company, rehire 78 laid-off workers.

A union leader committed suicide by hanging in Daejeon May 3. He had been wanted by police on charges of organizing illegal rallies against the company.

The cargo union staged a week-long strike in June last year, causing an estimated $7.2 billion in damage to the export-dependent economy, the government said.

The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said it will not accept the demands of the union and warned of stern action against illegal strikes. The government said it will stop paying fuel subsidies to striking truckers and cancel the business licenses of those who physically disrupt freight transportation. It will also mobilize military vehicles and personnel to escort non-striking truck drivers.

Portland Green Scare benifet May 23rd - Liberating Dissent II: Against State Repression

Liberation Dissent II: Against State Repression.  A benefit for Green
Scare Prisoners and Rose City Copwatch
Saturday May 23rd at Liberty Hall 7pm sharp.

Please join us for an evening of music and speakers on Saturday
May 23rd at 7pm as we examine State Repression as on ongoing strategy
of the State to silence dissent. Liberating Dissent II: Against State
Repression will raise funds for Green Scare Prisoners and the
community organizing efforts of Rose City Copwatch. Speakers will
include Kristian Williams, author of Our Enemies in Blue: Police and
Power in America and American Methods: Torture and the Logic of
Domination as well as Lauren Regan founder and executive director of
the Civil Liberties Defense Center. Music will be provided by Resist
(Portland anarchopunk legends), Adelit@s (fusion of punk and latin
American folk music), Coffin Ship (folk punk) and Silent Majority
(sparse melodic punk).

When: Saturday May 23rd 7pm-12am
Where: Liberty Hall (311 N Ivy st. Portland OR)
What: Speakers: Lauren Regan and Kristian Williams,
music from Resist, Adelit@s, Coffin Ship and
Silent Majority
How much: $6-$100 sliding scale donation. No one turned away for
lack of funds.
More info:

Monday, May 18, 2009

Myanmar's Suu Kyi faces trial, critics outraged

YANGON (Reuters) – Allies of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi gathered outside the Yangon prison on Monday where the Nobel Peace laureate faces trial on charges that could lock her away for five years.

The military regime has ignored international outrage at what critics call trumped-up charges against Suu Kyi, accused of breaking the conditions of her house arrest, which had been due to expire on May 27 after six years of detention.

Win Tin, a senior member of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) and the country's longest-serving political prisoner until his release last year, led 200 NLD members in a protest outside Insein Central Prison.

They were watched by armed police manning barbed-wire barricades and members of a pro-junta militia. Plain-clothes officers kept busy snapping photographs of the protest. Businesses in the area were ordered to close.

One leader of the NLD youth wing was arrested near the prison, but party officials did not have more details.

The government has called 22 witnesses against Suu Kyi and a verdict in the closed-door trial was not expected on Monday. If convicted, she faces three to five years in jail.

"She is ready to tell the truth that she never broke the law," her lawyer Kyi Win said.

Critics have accused the regime of trying to sabotage her defense by revoking the law license of Aung Thein, a prominent activist lawyer, at the weekend.

U.S. diplomats were seen entering the prison where John Yettaw, the American intruder who triggered the case against Suu Kyi by sneaking into her lakeside villa earlier this month, faces trial on several charges.


Critics say the trial is aimed at keeping the charismatic opposition leader in detention ahead of multi-party elections in 2010, derided by the West as a sham aimed at entrenching more than four decades of military rule in the former Burma.

The generals have not forgotten the NLD's landslide election victory in 1990, which the military rejected.

"The trial is all about keeping any voices of dissent silent in the run-up to rigged elections next year," said Zoya Phan of the Burma Campaign UK, which said demonstrations would be held at Myanmar embassies in 20 cities around the world on Monday.

The military has detained Suu Kyi for more than 13 of the past 19 years, much of that time at her Yangon home guarded by police, with her phone line cut and visitors restricted.

Yettaw, a 53-year-old Missouri resident who used homemade flippers to swim to Suu Kyi's home this month, is charged with immigration violations, encouraging others to break the law and entering a restricted area.

His motives are unclear. He swam to her home before, on November 30 last year, and left a copy of the Book of Mormon after she refused to see him, according to a copy of the police complaint translated by the U.S. Campaign for Burma, a pro-democracy group.

He tried again on the night of May 3.

"This time, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi allowed him to stay at her residence until the night of May 5, 2009, spoke with him and provided him food and drinks," the police complaint said.

Kyi Win said Suu Kyi had told Yettaw to leave, but he refused. She did not report him to authorities because "she did not want anybody to get into trouble because of her," he said.

Western governments, the United Nations, human rights groups and fellow Nobel laureates have condemned the charges against Suu Kyi and called for her immediate release.

U.S. President Barack Obama renewed sanctions against the military government on Friday, saying its actions and policies, including the jailing of more than 2,000 political prisoners, continued to pose a serious threat to U.S. interests.

The reaction from Asian neighbors, which have an eye on Myanmar's rich timber, gas and mineral reserves, has been mixed.

China and India have been silent, but the Philippine government said it was "deeply troubled and outraged over the filing of trumped-up charges" against Suu Kyi and worried about her health in the country's most notorious jail.

"These recent incidents will surely impede the process of national reconciliation and the roadmap to democracy in Myanmar," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo said.

Asian governments have favored a policy of engagement, but neither it nor sanctions imposed by the West have coaxed meaningful reforms from junta leader Senior General Than Shwe, widely believed to loathe Suu Kyi.

He is pressing ahead with a seven-step "roadmap to democracy" expected to culminate in the elections in 2010.

(Writing by Darren Schuettler; Editing by Alan Raybould)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Eric McDavid Update

Mail issues, appeal status, tour and more...Hello everyone,

There are a few things we would like to share with you in this update. Below you will find information on Eric's current situation, the tour in June, site updates, and the status of the appeal. Eric sends his hellos to you all. Thanks so much for your continued support. We hope to see many of you soon!

The Mail Situation
Eric would like for us to let you all know that he is currently unable to respond to snail mail. Victorville has recently implemented a new, illegal mail policy that requires prisoners to submit a list of people to whom they would like to send mail. This list is kept on file in the prison's Trulincs system, which was originally setup as an email system for prisoners. The BOP has since expanded it's use of the system as a way to keep track of prisoner phone lists, mail lists, and as a log-in system for prisoner access to the legal library. The use of the system for these purposes has numerous legality issues, and Eric and a couple of other prisoners are attempting to fight the new rules from the inside. In the meantime, Eric will not be using the mail-labeling system set up by Trulincs, which means he is unable to send any written correspondence. This does NOT mean that he cannot receive mail - so please keep those letters coming.

The Northwest in June
Some of us from Eric's support crew will be touring the northwest in June. We will be talking about Eric's case - how it was created, how Eric was targeted by the government and entrapped by an undercover informant, how he was convicted in a trial fraught with error, then sentenced to an outrageous 19 years and 7 months in prison. We will also be talking about entrapment and the use of government informants, and government repression in general.

The presentation will be followed with amazing musical performances by folks from the Anarchozarkian Music Collective - Spokepants of the Flowering Skillet and Nora and Gnoll. Other local musicians will be joining us along the way. You don't want to miss it!

Here is a quick list of what we've got so far:

June 5: Reno, NV
June 7: East Bay, CA (The Longhaul infoshop)
June 9: Arcata, CA
June 12: Portland, OR (The Red and Black Cafe, 6pm)
June 13: Eugene, OR
June 20-22ish: Seattle area? Bellingham?
June 25: Portland, OR (The Black Rose)
Early July: Modesto, CA
San Diego, CA

More dates are in the works. You can check out for updates about the tour.

Site Updates
We are in the process of some major additions to Eric's website. Soon you will have access to all of the transcripts from Eric's trial, sentencing, the plea agreements from his co-defendants, and more. We are also adding a section for writings from Eric to make them more accessible. Check out soon to get the latest.

Appeal Status
As you know, Eric is in the process of appealing both his conviction and sentence. We were hoping to be able to post the appeal with this alert, but are awaiting word from the court. Eric's lawyer filed the appeal on May 6, but also had to file a motion to file a brief that is twice the length of a normal appeal. If the court accepts this motion, then the appeal will officially be filed and we can post it for you all to read. This is nowhere near the end of the process, however. The government will have a month to respond to the brief once it is filed, and then Eric's lawyer will have another two weeks for his final response. We fully expect more delays (the brief was originally due last September). We will keep you posted as things develop.

Eric has been in jail or prison for 3 1/2 years now. His strength and courage continue to remind us all of what it means to stay true to ourselves and the things we hold dear. Our sincerest thanks to all of you who have helped make this journey more endurable.


5/14-16: National Days of Action in Solidarity with Immigrant Prisoners

National Immigrant Solidarity Network

Please join the immigrant Solidarity Network daily news litserv, send e-mail to:
or visit:
5/14-16: National Days of Action in Solidarity with Immigrant Prisoners

May 14th through 16th, 2009 – people around Texas and the United
States will stand united against an immigration system that is
responsible for the abuse and oppression of hundreds of thousands of
human beings.

Actions are already planned for Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Laredo, TX;
San Antonio, TX; Rio Grande Valley (South Padre Island), TX; and
Houston, TX.

I encourage all local and national media to come out to 8101 N.
Stemmons frwy Dallas TX 75427 at 3:00pm where we will be having one of
the six demonstrations.

Today, the US government holds over 440,000 immigrants in prison
—that’s three times more than were locked up just ten years ago.
People in these prisons (some federal others private) are rounded up
by ICE agents, locked up without due process, neglected in their
medical conditions, and suffer verbal and physical abuse by both
governmental and private guards.

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE), and all the private companies that profit off their
injustices have terrorized our communities for too long! Communities
all around say ‘Enough!’” – reads a flyer being distributed by the
Southwest Workers Union.

Immigrant Prisoners are Resisting

Los Fresnos, TX—over 200 Immigrants at the Port Isabel Detention
Center are on hunger strike demanding humane conditions and an end to
the cruel injustices of the immigration system.

Taylor, TX—over 400 men and women at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center
are on hunger strike demanding humane conditions. Children and
families are being detained at this prison.

Pecos, TX — Prisoners inside Reeves County Detention Center began
rioting earlier this year when their demands for adequate medical
attentions went unheeded.

Community groups coordinating and participating in the actions include
Southwest Workers Union, Industrial Workers of the World, Students for
a Democratic Society, Grassroots Leadership, Student/ Farmworker
Alliance, La Union del Pueblo Entero, Proyecto Azteca, Coalicion de
Amigos en Solidaridad y Accion, and Amnesty International.

Southwest Workers’ Union
Alejandro Guzman
Phone: 956/ 337-9563
Rocio Nohemi Hernandez
Phone: 956/393-1060
National Immigrant Solidarity Network
No Immigrant Bashing! Support Immigrant Rights!


New York: (212)330-8172
Los Angeles: (213)403-0131
Washington D.C.: (202)595-8990
Chicago: (773)942-2268

Please consider making a donation to the important work of National Immigrant Solidarity Network

Send check pay to:

National Immigrant Solidarity Network/AFGJ

National Immigrant Solidarity Network
P.O. Box 751
South Pasadena, CA 91031-0751

(All donations are tax deductible)

*to join the immigrant Solidarity Network daily news litserv, send e-mail to:
or visit:

*a monthly ISN monthly Action Alert! Listserv, go to webpage

**Please join our following listservs:

Asian American Labor Activism Alert!
send-e-mail to:
or visit:

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania areas immigrant workers information and alerts
send e-mail to:
or visit:

US-Mexico Border Information/Alert!
send e-mail to:
or visit:

Virginia state-wide immigrant organizing e-mail list, send- e-mail to: or visit:

Chicago/Midwest/Great Lake Region Immigrant List, please send e-mail to:
or visit:

Immigrant Detention & Deportation Alert!

send e-mail to:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Urgent!!! Feds Serving Bash Back!ers Throughout Midwest Subpoenas

May 13, 2009 Bash Back News

At least 23 people associated with Bash Back! are named in a subpoena that has been served to people in Milwaukee and Lansing. As of right now we believe Feds are trying to serve queermos in Chicago and other Midwestern Cities. Agents have been showing up at the homes of friends and family of Bash Back! members.BB! News is under the impression that this has something to do with the BB! Consulta in Lansing, Michigan last fall. When we know more we will let yall know.

Remember we are members of a loving, tight knit community. While we have our differences we also have our friend’s backs. Don’t let them scare you. Loose Lips Imprison Queers.

With Love, Solidarity, and Rage,
Bash Back! News

ADF Fuckers Suing Bash Back! Lansing, Bash Back!, and Jesse Does

May 13, 2009 Bash Back News

The work of devoted Bash Back!ers and allies determined that this morning’s hysteria is the result of the Alliance Defense Fund, a notorious anti-womyn, anti-queer, racist organization. The ADF decided to sue Bash Back!, Bash Back! Lansing and individuals because the authorities would not file a single criminal complaint regarding an action at the Mount Hope Church in Lansing last fall. But that’s not all! Those pesky evange-fascists are trying to identify and out up to 20 other people involved with Bash Back! in the hopes that criminal charges will be placed against them. Fourteen people and 1-20 Jesse “John” Does are named on the complaint.

You can find the ADF press release on their website.
*Warning this Site is an overt manifestion of THE Patriarchy. It may be offensive and enraging*

Bash Back! and radical transfolk/queers cannot and will not be intimidated. Some of us face life and death on a daily basis. This lawsuit aint shit.

BB! News will be setting up an account to raise funds in the near future. Lets fill our pocket books and resist this suit.

Attached to this posting is a copy of the complaint so the entire world can see that it is riddled with inaccuracies and out-right lies.

Disclaimer: This Lawsuit is does NOT respect the chosen identities of the people named. Names, Gender pronouns, and identities were purposely disrespected by the complaint. Please keep this in mind when reading and discussing the lawsuit.

That’s Some Bull Shit!
Bash Back! News

Here is a copy of the complaint.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Crackdown in South Korea as President Lee emphasises need for "labour market flexibility"

May 8, 2009

Nineteen former workers at the Kor-Tek guitar and bass factory in Dungchon, Seoul, have been indicted on serious charges relating to the occupation of the plant late last year. The charges, alongside similar cases, have led to protests from unions which describe them as “excessive” and “preposterous”.

The original dispute at the plant related to management plans to close the factory and move production to China. Workers quickly staged a sit-in strike, but this was broken up by police after only four hours. The strikers were rounded up, and two local union leaders were given one year sentences, which were later commuted to suspended sentences.

However, prosecutors have again targeted the workers, seeking a second round of charges. It is this move which has drawn fire from unions and other organisations, with Sung Sei-Kyung of the Korean Metalworkers’ Union stating, “The union members thought the case was over, and we feel the indictments are preposterous. “ Prosecutors are pursuing charges of armed housebreaking against 19 strikers and union members.

The move isn’t an isolated one, and follows similar cases. Two union leaders have recently been arrested over their participation in a protest against Donghee Auto Co., a company which supplies parts for Kia motors, four months after the event. Three union officials had already been sentenced in relation to the demonstration.

Critics are claiming the moves represent an attempt to send a message that actions around such disputes will be treated harshly, and are part of the South Korean state’s oppressive response to the threat of spreading industrial unrest.

Meanwhile, the office of president Lee Myung-Bak has been emphasising its intentions to “solve labour flexibility” i.e. to encourage further casualisation and the erosion of working conditions through the Contractual and Part-time Worker Protection Act and the Labor Standards Act. The law currently requires that companies offer irregular workers regular contracts after two years of employment, but the Lee administration is attempting to extend that threshold to four years. President Lee’s spokesman emphasised this aim at a recent emergency economic council meeting on the 7th of May.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Last SLA inmate released from California prison

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)– The last captured member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, the radical 1970s-era group notorious for bank robberies, killings and the kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst, was released from prison Sunday, a corrections official said.

James William Kilgore, 61, was paroled from High Desert State Prisonafter serving a six-year sentence for his role in the murder of housewife Myrna Opsahl during an April 1975 bank robbery.

The victim's son, Jon Opsahl, said Sunday it felt "ironic" and "strange" that Kilgore was released on Mother's Day.

Kilgore was one of five SLA members to serve time for the murder of Opsahl's mother.

"I guess they did their time, paid their debts to society," he said. "Now I guess they can get back to their lives."

State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said parole agents processed Kilgore's release at theSusanville prison.

Kilgore has been granted permission to join his wife in Illinois, where she moved after he was arrested in 2002 in Cape Town, South Africa, after nearly three decades on the run. He has two weeks to report to Illinois parole officials.

Kilgore had eluded arrest longer than any of his fellow SLA fugitives. His cover unraveled after the 1999 arrest of his former girlfriend, Sara Jane Olson, who had become a doctor's wife in St. Paul, Minn. Olson, formerly known as Kathleen Soliah, was paroled from a California prison in March.

His release marks "the end of the SLA and the era," said Stuart Hanlon, a San Francisco attorney who represented several SLA members.

The gang of mostly white, privileged would-be revolutionaries led by a black ex-convict also was responsible for the murder of Oakland school superintendent Marcus Foster, bank robberies, and the attempted bombings of Los Angeles police cars. Joseph Remiro is serving a life sentence for Foster's 1973 murder.

Kilgore, a native of Portland, Ore., joined the SLA after graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1969. He escaped the 1974 shootout with Los Angeles police in which six of the SLA's original members died.

He disappeared on Sept. 18, 1975, as the FBI arrested Hearst and other SLA members in San Francisco.

He resurfaced as University of Cape Town professor Charles William Pape, even writing a South Africa high school text book titled "Making History" under the alias.

Kilgore married an American woman, Teresa Barnes, and fathered two sons. Barnes, an associate professor of gender and women's studies at the University of Illinois in Champaign, declined to comment when reached by The Associated Press.

Susan B. Jordan, an attorney who represented another SLA member, sad that some romanticized the group, despite the violence, after its members kidnapped Hearst and demanded her wealthy family distribute food to the poor of San Francisco.

"They were an extremely misguided group of idealists. They really believed they could make the world better by what they did," Jordan said. "I just think they tapped into some mythological fairy story."

New York attorney Louis Freeman, who represented Kilgore after his arrest, did not respond to messages left Sunday and in previous days.

Kilgore's pending parole had sparked far less controversy than Olson's release. Her return to Minnesota drew opposition from Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the St. Paul police union and divided her neighbors.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League and the National Association of Police Organizations objected to letting Kilgore serve his year of parole in another state, but there has been little reaction in Illinois.

"Mr. Kilgore has never even lived in Illinois," Paul Weber, president of the Los Angeles police union, said in a statement. "His last legal residence was in California, and this is where he committed his crimes. ... The community he terrorized has the right and the duty to ensure Mr. Kilgore complies with all terms of his parole, including serving his full sentence here."

Kilgore served his state sentence after finishing a 54-month federal prison term for using a dead baby's birth certificate to obtain a passport in Seattle and for possessing a pipe bomb in his apartment near San Francisco in 1975.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials called Kilgore a model prisoner who tutored other inmates.

'End crackdown on labor activists' in Vietnam, says human rights group May 7, 2009

The Vietnamese government should immediately free activists who have been unlawfully imprisoned for peacefully campaigning for workers' rights, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.

The 32-page report, "Not Yet a Workers' Paradise: Vietnam's Suppression of the Independent Workers' Movement," documents the Vietnamese government's crackdown on independent trade unions and profiles labor rights activists who have been detained, placed under house arrest, or imprisoned by the Vietnamese government in violation of international law. The report calls on donor governments and foreign firms investing in Vietnam to press the government to treat workers properly.

"By arresting the most prominent labor leaders, the Vietnamese government is trying to wipe out the independent trade union movement," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The government continues to target and harass independent labor activists, who are seen as a particular threat to the Communist Party because of their ability to attract and organize large numbers of people."

Since 2006, at least eight independent trade union activists have been sentenced to prison on dubious national security charges. All have been held under Vietnamese laws that violate fundamental freedoms. Those who have been tried have not been afforded internationally recognized due process rights. Other labor activists have been harassed, intimidated, and forced to cease their union activities or flee the country.

Amid double-digit inflation and the global economic downturn, labor unrest continues to soar in Vietnam. Thousands of workers, primarily at foreign-owned factories, have joined strikes to demand wage increases and better working conditions. Though permitted under international law, virtually none of these strikes are considered legal by the Vietnamese government.

Workers are prohibited from forming or joining unions - or conducting strikes - that are not authorized by an official labor confederation controlled by the Communist Party. The minimum monthly wage was increased to 650,000 dong (US$36) for most workers, but it still fails to provide an adequate standard of living, especially given racing inflation, and the increase has failed to stem labor discontent.

The report details provisions in Vietnam's labor laws, such as amendments to the Labor Code that took effect in 2007, which have imposed increasingly harsh restrictions on strikes and independent unions. While the Labor Code allows party-controlled unions to strike, it establishes strict and cumbersome conditions that must be met, which effectively nullify this right.

"Vietnam's labor laws ensure that there is virtually no way for workers to call a legal strike," said Adams. "The so-called reform process and amendments to the Labor Code have focused on tightening government control over workers' movements and effectively denying workers their rights. The People's Committees, People's Courts, and the official labor confederation - all controlled by the Vietnamese Communist Party - work as a machine that is rolling out rules to prevent legal strikes."

Starting in 2006, unprecedented numbers of workers began to join "wildcat" strikes (strikes without the approval of union officials) at foreign-owned factories around Ho Chi Minh City and in surrounding provinces in the south. As the strikes quickly spread to Vietnam's central and northern provinces, workers broadened their demands for labor rights, such as the ability to form independent unions and the dissolution of the party-controlled labor confederation.

In October 2006, Vietnamese activists announced the formation of two independent trade unions, the United Worker-Farmers Organization of Vietnam, or UWFO (Hiep Hoi Doan Ket Cong Nong) and the Independent Workers' Union of Vietnam, or IWUV (Cong Doan Doc Lap). Their stated goals were to protect workers' rights, including the right to form and join independent trade unions, engage in strikes, and collectively bargain with employers without being required to obtain government or party approval. They also planned to disseminate information about workers' rights and exploitative and abusive labor conditions.

For a brief period in 2006, the Vietnamese government - prior to entering the World Trade Organization and normalizing trade relations with the United States - tolerated a budding civil society. Opposition political parties, underground newspapers, and Vietnam's first independent trade unions publicly emerged, a rare situation in the one-party state dominated by the Communist Party of Vietnam.

The government's tolerance of peaceful dissent proved to be short-lived, however. Within weeks after the two independent unions began operations, the government arrested all of the unions' known leaders and supporters.

Of eight independent trade union advocates sentenced to prison since 2006, three remain in prison and at least two under administrative probation or house arrest. The remaining three have been subjected to a series of detentions and interrogation by police, intrusive surveillance, and harassment by vigilantes.

Vietnamese agents are thought to have abducted Le Tri Tue, one of the founders of the Independent Workers' Union of Vietnam. Le Tri Tue went missing in May 2007 after fleeing to Cambodia to seek political asylum. The US State Department noted grimly in its 2008 report on human rights in Vietnam that "Le Tri Tue was still missing ... amid rumors that Vietnamese government security agents had killed him."

"None of Vietnam's peaceful labor activists should ever have been arrested, detained, or imprisoned," said Adams. "Donor governments, the UN's International Labor Organization, companies investing in Vietnam, and others should insist that Vietnam treat its workers properly and release all jailed activists."

From Human Rights Watch, 4th of May 2009

Friday, May 08, 2009

“The Mumia Exception”

by J. Patrick O’Connor Crime Magazine May 1, 2009

ince his conviction in 1982 for the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, Mumia Abu-Jamal, through his numerous books, essays and radio commentaries, has become the face of the anti-death penalty movement in the United States and an international cause célèbre. Paris, for example, made him an honorary citizen in 2003, bestowing the honor for the first time since Pablo Picasso received it in 1971. The “Free Mumia” slogan is seen and heard around the world. Over the last 27 years he has become the most visible of the invisible 3,600 Death Row inmates in the United States.

The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal cries out for justice not because he is famous but because he is innocent. Kenneth Freeman, the street-vendor partner of Abu-Jamal’s younger brother, Billy Cook, killed Officer Faulkner moments after Faulkner shot Abu-Jamal in the chest as he approached the scene where Faulkner had pulled over the car Cook was driving. When Faulkner began beating Cook with an 18-inch long flashlight, Abu-Jamal ran from his nearby taxi to come to his brother’s aid. After Abu-Jamal was shot and collapsed to the street, Freeman emerged from Cook’s car, wrestled Faulkner to the sidewalk and then shot him to death. Freeman fled the scene on foot. Numerous witnesses told police they saw one or more black men fleeing right after the officer was shot. A driver’s license application found in Faulkner’s shirt pocket led the police directly to Freeman’s home within hours of the shooting.

But the police did not want Freeman for this killing, releasing him without him even having to call his attorney. The police, led by the corrupt Inspector Alfonzo Giordano who took charge of the crime scene within minutes of the shooting, wanted to pin Faulkner’s death on the blacked-out, police-bashing radio reporter at the scene. Freeman they would deal with later, meting out their own brand of street justice in the dead of night.

Five days after Faulkner’s death, the Center City newsstand where Freeman and Billy Cook operated a vending stand burned to the ground at about 3 a.m. Freeman told a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter hours after the arson that “there was no question in my mind that the police are behind this.” The Inquirer also quoted a Center City police officer who was on patrol in the area that morning as saying, “It’s entirely possible” that “certain sick members” of his department were responsible. “All I know is when I got to the station to start my shift at 7:30 this morning, the station house was filled with Cheshire grins.” Although the “unsolved” arson bankrupted Freeman and Cook, a worse fate awaited Freeman.

On the night in 1985 when the police infamously firebombed the MOVE home and burned down 60 other row houses in the process, incinerating 11 MOVE members including five children, Freeman’s dead body would be found nude and gagged in an empty lot, his hands handcuffed behind his back. There would be no police investigation into this obvious murder: the coroner listed his cause of death as a heart attack. Freeman was 31.

Abu-Jamal had been well known to local police since he joined the Philly chapter of the Black Panther Party at age 15. The next year he was named “lieutenant of information,” an appointment the Inquirer ran on its front page, picturing the young radical at Panther headquarters. Even though the chapter would soon dissolve, both the police and the FBI continued to monitor Abu-Jamal when he left Philadelphia to attend Goddard College in Vermont and on his return to Philadelphia to take up his radio career. As his career took wing, landing him a high-profile job at Philadelphia’s public radio station, that scrutiny intensified due to his overtly sympathetic coverage of the radical counter-culture group MOVE. Throughout the 1970s and well into the 1980s, police confrontations with MOVE were brutal displays of civic discord and police abuse that culminated in the 1985 firebombing.

Abu-Jamal’s case has been politically charged from the beginning. By the time he was arrested for the murder of Officer Faulkner, he was a marked man to the police for his Black Panther Party association and his favorable reporting of MOVE. Inspector Giordano, who detested both Abu-Jamal and MOVE, would set the framing of Abu-Jamal in motion by falsely claiming that Abu-Jamal had told him in the paddy wagon that he had killed Faulkner. (Giordano would not be called by the prosecution to reiterate his fabrication at Abu-Jamal’s trial. Instead, on the first business day following Abu-Jamal’s sentencing, Giordano would be “relieved” of his duties by the police department on what would prove to be well-founded “suspicions of corruption.” An FBI probe of rank corruption within the Philadelphia Police Department – the largest ever conducted by the U.S. Justice Department of a police force – would lead to Giordano’s conviction four years later. The FBI investigation would ensnare numerous other high-ranking Philadelphia police officials and officers, many of them involved in Abu-Jamal’s arrest and trial. Deputy Police Commissioner James Martin, who was in charge of all major investigations, including Faulkner’s death, was the ringleader of a vast extortion enterprise operating in City Center.)

The trial of Abu-Jamal was a monumental miscarriage of justice from beginning to end, representing an extreme case of prosecutorial abuse and judicial bias. A pamphlet published by Amnesty International in 2000 stated it had “determined that numerous aspects of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case clearly failed to meet minimum standards safeguarding the fairness of legal proceedings.”

The trial judge, Common Pleas Court Judge Albert F. Sabo, presided at more trials that resulted in the defendants receiving the death penalty than any judge in the nation. Of the 31 so sentenced, five won reversals on appeal, an indication of extreme judicial bias. The Inquirer called him “a defendant’s worst nightmare,” a prominent defense attorney referred to him as “a prosecutor in robes.” A former court stenographer said in an affidavit in 2001 that during Abu-Jamal’s trial she overheard Sabo tell someone at the courthouse, “Yeah, and I am going to help them fry the nigger.”

During the third day of jury selection, Sabo stripped Abu-Jamal of his right to represent himself and interview potential jurors despite the fact that the Inquirer reported Abu-Jamal was “intent and business like” in his questioning. On the second day of the trial, Sabo removed Abu-Jamal from the courtroom for insisting that MOVE founder John Africa replace his court appointed backup counsel, Anthony Jackson. In turn, Sabo appointed Jackson to represent Abu-Jamal. This would put to rout the possibility of a fair trial.

Abu-Jamal’s first major appeal issue developed during jury selection when the prosecutor, Assistant D.A. Joseph McGill, used 10 or 11 of the 15 peremptory challenges he exercised to keep otherwise qualified blacks from sitting on this death-penalty-vetted jury. In a city with more than a 40 percent black population at the time, Abu-Jamal’s jury ended up with only two blacks. In 1986 – four years after Abu-Jamal’s trial – the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Batson v. Kentucky that it was unconstitutional for a prosecutor to exclude potential jurors on the basis of race. The ruling was retroactive.

The second major constitutional claim that would arise occurred at the end of the guilt phase of the trial when the prosecutor referenced the appeal process in his summation to the jury. He told the jury that if they found Abu-Jamal guilty of murder in the first degree that “there would be appeal after appeal and perhaps there could be a reversal of the case, or whatever, so that may not be final.”

Although Officer Faulkner had been killed by Kenneth Freeman, the prosecution mounted its evidentiary case against Abu-Jamal on the perjured testimony of a prostitute informant and a cab driver with a suspended license for two DUIs who was on probation for throwing a Molotov cocktail into a school yard during a school day. Both of these witnesses had been handpicked by Giordano at the crime scene.

“The Mumia Exception”

As Amnesty International established in its 2000 pamphlet entitled “The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Life in the Balance,” his tortuous appeal process has been fraught with “judicial machinations.” Claims that won the day in other cases were repeatedly denied him.

In 1989, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court turned down his first appeal even though one of his claims was almost identical to one that had persuaded the same court to grant Lawrence Baker a new trial in 1986. In that case, Commonwealth v. Baker, the court overturned Baker’s death sentence for first-degree murder on the grounds that the prosecutor improperly referenced the lengthy appeal process afforded those sentenced to death. That prosecutor – Joseph McGill – was the same prosecutor who used similar – almost verbatim – language in his summation during both the guilt and sentencing phases of Mumia’s trial. The judge who failed to strike the language in the Baker case was the same judge who presided at Mumia’s trial, Common Pleas Court Judge Albert F. Sabo.

The State Supreme Court ruled in Baker that the use of such language “minimize[ed] the jury’s sense of responsibility for a verdict of death.” When Abu-Jamal’s appeal included the very same issue, the court reversed its own precedent in the matter, denying the claim in a shocking unanimous decision.

A year later, in Commonwealth v. Beasley, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reinstated the death sentence of Leslie Beasley, but exerted its supervisory power to adopt a “per se rule precluding all remarks about the appellate process in all future trials.” This rule not only reinstated the Baker precedent but it ordered all prosecutors in the state to refrain once and for all from referencing the appellate process in summations to the jury. The court could have made this new rule retroactive to Mumia’s case, but did not.

As Amnesty International declared in its pamphlet about the case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s judicial scheming leave “the disturbing impression that the court invented a new standard of procedure to apply to one case only: that of Mumia Abu-Jamal,” Temple University journalism professor Linn Washington aptly dubs this and subsequent court decisions denying Mumia a new trial “the Mumia exception.”

Abu-Jamal’s Post-Conviction Relief Act hearing in 1995 was doomed from the beginning when Judge Sabo – the original trial judge – would not recuse himself from the case and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would not remove him for bias.

Abu-Jamal’s federal habeas corpus appeal – decided by Federal District Judge William Yohn in 2001 – should have resulted in at least an evidentiary hearing on Abu-Jamal’s Batson claim that the prosecutor unconstitutionally purged blacks from the jury by using peremptory strikes to exclude 10 or 11 otherwise qualified black jurors from being empanelled. Abu-Jamal’s attorneys had included a study conducted by Professor David Baldus that documented the systematic use of peremptory challenges to exclude blacks by Prosecutor McGill in the six death-penalty cases he prosecuted in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia. Abu-Jamal’s trial was one of the six trials studied by Baldus. Judge Yohn barred the study on the erroneous grounds that the study was not from a relevant time period when, in fact, it was completely relevant. Judge Yohn’s error was egregious and could have been easily avoided if he had held one evidentiary hearing on that defense claim. But during the two years that Judge Yohn considered Abu-Jamal’s habeas appeal, he held no hearings.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit should have corrected that district court mistake by remanding Abu-Jamal’s case back to Judge Yohn to hold the evidentiary hearing on the Batson claim, but in another example of the “Mumia exception,” the court instead continued the long and tortured denial of Mumia’s right to a fair trial. In a 2 to 1 decision released on March 27, 2008 that reeked of politics and racism, the court ruled that Abu-Jamal had failed to meet his burden in providing a prima facie case. He failed, the majority wrote, because his attorneys were unable to establish the racial composition of the entire jury pool.

In the decision written by Chief Judge Anthony Scirica, the court stated that “Abu-Jamal had the opportunity to develop this evidence at the PCRA evidentiary hearing, but failed to do so. There may be instances where a prima facie case can be made without evidence of the strike rate and exclusion rate. But, in this case [i.e., “the Mumia exception” is in play], we cannot find the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling [denying the Batson claim] unreasonable based on this incomplete record.”

In a nutshell, the majority denied Mumia’s Batson claim on a technicality of its own invention, not on its merits. It also broke with the sacrosanct stare decisis doctrine – the principle that the precedent decisions are to be followed by the courts – by ignoring its own previous opposite ruling in the Holloway v. Horn case of 2004 and the Brinson v. Vaughn case of 2005. It is a general maxim that when a point has been settled by decision, it forms a precedent which is not afterwards to be departed from. In a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in 1989 in a case entitled United States v. Washington, the decision stated that an appeal court’s panel is “bound by decisions of prior panels unless an en banc decision, Supreme Court decision, or subsequent legislation undermines those decisions.” None of those variables were in play when the Third Circuit Court majority ruled against Mumia’s Batson claim.

Judge Thomas Ambro’s dissent was sharp: “…I do not agree with them [the majority] that Mumia Abu-Jamal fails to meet the low bar for making a prima facie case under Batson. In holding otherwise, they raise the standard necessary to make out a prima facie case beyond what Batson calls for.”

In other words, the majority, in this case alone, has upped the ante required for making a Batson claim beyond what the U.S. Supreme Court stipulated. When ruling in Batson in 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court did not require that the racial composition of the entire jury pool be known before a Batson claim may be raised. The high court ruled that a defendant must show only “an inference” of prosecutorial discrimination in purging potential jurors. Prosecutor McGill’s using 10 or 11 of the 15 peremptory strikes he deployed is just such an inference – and an extremely strong one. McGill’s strike rate of over 66 percent against potential black jurors is in itself prima facie evidence of race discrimination. Prima facie is a Latin term meaning “at first view,” meaning the evidence being presented is presumed to be true unless disproved.

In commenting on Holloway v. Horn, a Batson-type case with striking similarities to Abu-Jamal’s claim, Judge Ambro – the lone Democrat-appointed judge on the three judge panel – demonstrated just how disingenuous the panel’s ruling against Abu-Jamal’s Batson claim was. “In Holloway, Judge Ambro wrote in his 41-page dissent, “we emphasized that ‘requiring the presentation of [a record detailing the race of the venire] simply to move past the first state – the prima facie stage – in the Batson analysis places an undue burden upon the defendant.’ There we found the strike rate – 11 of 12 peremptory strikes against black persons – satisfied the prima facie burden.” In Holloway, the Third Circuit ruled that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision denying Holloway’s Batson claim was “contrary to” and an “unreasonable application” of the Batson standard.

In fact, in rendering both its Holloway and Brinson decision, the Third Circuit specifically rejected the requirement that a petitioner develop a complete record of the jury pool. In making its ruling in Abu-Jamal’s appeal, it reversed itself to make the pretext of an incomplete jury record his fatal misstep. Basing its ruling against Abu-Jamal’s Batson claim on this invented pretext demonstrated how desperate the majority was to block Abu-Jamal’s Batson claim. What the majority was implying was that Abu-Jamal’s jury pool may well have consisted of 60 or 70 percent black people and that therefore the prosecutor’s using 66 percent of his strikes to oust potential black jurors was statistically normal and did not create a prima facie case of discrimination. This hypothesis is, of course, absurd on its face. Blacks have been underrepresented on Philadelphia juries for years – and remain so today. What was likely was that the jury pool at Abu-Jamal’s trial was at least 70 percent white.

The Third Circuit – if it had followed its own precedent – would have found the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling denying Abu-Jamal’s Batson claim “contrary to” and an “unreasonable application” of the Batson standard and remanded the case back to Federal District Court Judge Yohn to hold an evidentiary hearing to determine the prosecutor’s reasons for excluding the 10 potential black jurors he struck. If that hearing satisfied Judge Yohn that all of the prosecutor’s reasons for striking potential black jurors were race neutral, the Batson claim would fail. If, conversely, that hearing revealed racial discrimination on the part of the prosecutor during jury selection – even if only concerning one potential juror – Judge Yohn would have been compelled to order a new trial for Abu-Jamal.

Abu-Jamal’s final opportunity for judicial relief was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in November of 2008 in the form of a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari. On February 4, the high court docketed and accepted that filing. According to Abu-Jamal’s lead attorney, Robert Bryan of San Francisco, “The central issue in this case is racism in jury selection. The prosecution systematically removed people from sitting on the trial jury purely because of the color of their skin, that is, being black.”

For at least two compelling reasons, it appeared that the U.S. Supreme Court would grant Abu-Jamal’s petition. In its last term, the high court expanded its 1986 Batson ruling in its Synder v. Maryland decision to warrant a new trial if a minority defendant could show the inference of racial bias in the prosecutor’s peremptory exclusion of one juror. Under Batson, the defense needed to show an inference – i.e., a pattern – of racial bias in the overall jury selection process. Ironically, the Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision strengthening and expanding Batson’s reach was written by Justice Samuel Alito, most recently of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

The second reason was that the Third Circuit’s ruling denying Abu-Jamal’s Batson claim undermined both the Batson and Synder decisions by placing new restrictions on a defendant’s ability to file a Batson claim. The Third Circuit ruling against Abu-Jamal had the effect of creating new law by tampering with a long-established Supreme Court precedent.

As a result, there seemed to be something more than a remote possibility that the Supreme Court would agree to grant Abu-Jamal’s writ.

A Writ of Certiorari is a decision by the Supreme Court to hear an appeal from a lower court. Supreme Court justices rarely give a reason why they accept or deny Cert. Although all nine justices are involved in considering Cert Petitions, it takes only four justices to grant a Writ of Certiorari, even if five justices are against it. This is known as “the rule of four.”

Despite needing only four votes to have his Batson claim argued, the Supreme Court on April 6, 2009 tersely denied Abu-Jamal’s request for a writ. The so-called “liberal block” of Justices Stevens, Ginsberg, Souter, and Breyer disintegrated, yielding to the awesome political power of the “Mumia exception.”

Abu-Jamal – who turned 55 on April 24, 2009 – will, barring the most unlikely intervention by a future governor of Pennsylvania, spend the rest of his life in prison for a crime he did not commit.