Archive for October 2014
Pennsylvania Enacts Bill to Silence Prisoners – Especially Mumia Abu Jamal
A new law would curtail the speech of prisoners held by the State of Pennsylvania on the grounds that their utterances and writings might cause “mental anguish” to crime victims. “It’s a backlash, it’s a repressive law,” said Dr. Johanna Fernandez, professor of history at Baruch College and a supporter of Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner. “It suggests that authorities are feeling the heat of emerging movements against police brutality and mass incarceration.”
Speaking from Frackville State Prison, Mumia Abu Jamal said the legislation proves Pennsylvania’s government “doesn’t give a white about their own Constitution, nor about the United States Constitution. I welcome that, because it proves that they are the outlaws.” Police organizations were outraged that Abu Jamal was allowed to give a commencement speech at Vermont’s Goddard College.
Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration
Police and FBI personnel have reverted to throwing around the old term “outside agitators” to describe activists that have journeyed to Ferguson, Missouri, to protest the U.S. criminal justice system. “They’re picking up the terminology of George Wallace, Bull Connor and the like,” said Carl Dix, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, who was arrested along with fellow co-founder Dr. Cornel West, in Ferguson, last week. The point “is to divide the movement to transform the status quo.” Nationwide actions to resist police brutality, mass incarceration and criminalization of Black people are set for October 22.
Prop 47 Would Dramatically Reduce Incarceration in California
The online activist outfit Color of Change has thrown its weight behind passage of Proposition 47, a ballot initiative that would reclassify some nonviolent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and redirect prison funding to programs for transition to life on the outside. “It would impact up to 10,000 people who are currently incarcerated” and spare thousands more from being “overcharged” for offenses, said Matt Nelson, organizing director for Color of Change. Moreover, said Nelson, passage would go far to “make it unacceptable to have such high rates of incarceration, which really start in a racially biased culture.”
Next Round: Rev. Pinkney vs. Whirlpool in Benton Harbor
Community activist Rev. Edward Pinkney goes on trial October 27 on charges of altering signatures on petitions to recall the mayor of Benton Harbor, Michigan, a mostly Black town long dominated by the giant Whirlpool Corporation. “They’re counting on an all-white jury that is motivated by something other than the truth,” said Pinkney, leader of the fight to recall Mayor James Hightower. Whirlpool and county police authorities “would do anything – I believe they would even kill – to keep him in office, because he is the corporate puppet,” said Pinkney.
Temple University Students Supplement “Africology” with DuBois
Students at Philadelphia’s Temple University are holding their own W.E.B. Dubois lecture series to make up for what’s missing from the new “Africology” courses instituted by Dr. Molefi Asante, chairman of the recently renamed African American Studies department. Asante refused to renew the contract of Duboisian scholar Dr. Anthony Monteiro. “We feel a critical analysis, historically, politically and economically, through the vantage of African American struggle, is lacking” under the Africology regime, said student organizer Sabrina Sample. Asante’s agenda has been to “eliminate any competition with Afro-centric ideology within the department.”
“Baby Doc” is Dead, But Duvalierism Lives On in Haiti Regime
Haiti’s elite flocked to the funeral of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier who, along with father “Papa Doc” killed probably 20,000 people, terrorized the entire population and stole half a billion dollars over a period of two generations. Duvalier died of a heart attack at age 63, “but there are many others who were involved in the actual torture and arrests and stealing who supported that brutal system,” said Brian Concannon, executive director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. “The Duvalierist system has in many ways comes back” with the current government of Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly, who was closing associated with “Baby Doc’s” terror network.
BBC Film Implicates Rwanda’s Kagame in Assassination of Two Presidents
A recently release BBC documentary shows that Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame’s rebel forces shot down the airplane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, in 1994, setting the stage for mass killings. “Kagame’s complicity has been known for many years by the U.S. and the UN,” said Peter Erlinder, an international lawyer who has defended Kagame’s opponents and was himself jailed by the regime for questioning the prevailing narrative, that Kagame halted the Rwandan genocide. Once in power, Kagame’s forces invaded neighboring Congo, igniting yet another genocide that has killed six million people.
Mumia Addresses Goddard College Grads
In 1996, while still on Pennsylvania’s death row, Mumia Abu Jamal earned his bachelor’s degree from Vermont’s Goddard College. “Goddard allowed me to really study what interested and moved me: revolutionary movements,” the nation’s best known political prisoner told the college’s graduating class. Police organizations across the country fought furiously to prevent Abu Jamal from making the commencement speech, in which he advised students to “take what you know and apply it in the real world. Help be the change you’re seeking to make.”
New Film on 1898 Wilmington Massacre
The last vestiges of post-Civil War Reconstruction died in the flames and carnage of Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898, when white supremacists mounted a military assault on the city’s alliance of Black Republicans and white Populists. Hundreds of Blacks may have died, half the Black population left the city, and the last Black Reconstruction congressman fled the state. Christopher Everett hopes to complete Wilmington on Fire, his new film on these historical events, by December. He said racist Democrats carried out the massacre “to put out a signal to the rest of North Carolina that, if they can take over Wilmington, the whole state will follow.”
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New Youth Party Demands West Finance Ebola Fight
Events in Ferguson, Missouri, have inspired formation of “an alternative party of young people of color” in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. In its first major demonstration, set for October 16, the Young people’s Freedom and Justice Party is “demanding that the U.S. government and the western world provide the funding for drugs for treatment” of Ebola “and that they move with all deliberate speed,” said Sara Osman, one of the organizers. The party is comprised of college and high school students as well as youths who are not in school.
Black Is Back Coalition to March on White House November 1
In November, 2009, President Obama’s first year in office, the newly formed Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations held its first rally and march on the White House. “I think, five years later, even the most die-hard Obamites would have a serious problem trying to ignore the criminality of this regime, or to separate what the United States government is doing under Obama from anything it’s done under George W. Bush or any of the other criminals who have occupied that office,” said Coalition chairman Omali Yeshitela. The Coalition holds a rally and march on the White House on November 1, followed by a teach-in at Howard University the next day under the theme “Peace Through Revolution.”
U.S. Intelligence Agencies Were Aware of ISIS’s Plans
Far from being in the dark about ISIS’s capabilities and goals, the CIA was well aware of the jihadist’s plans to attack the Iraqi city of Mosul and seize much of the country, according to journalist Nafeez Ahmed, author of the Guardian newspaper article “How the West Created the Islamic State.” The U.S., Britain and the Gulf oil monarchies were plotting regime change in Syria even before the outbreak of demonstrations against the government, in 2011. The same countries that have been “supporting and financing and manipulating” Islamist militants are now “being mobilized to fight the very enemy they created,” said Ahmed, author of Zero Point, a novel that actually predicted the events now unfolding in Iraq.
Washington’s Incessant Lies
U.S. foreign policy seems full of contradictions because “they are at war with the world and have to constantly hide their aims and their goals, and can turn on the very forces that they create,” said Sara Flounders, of the International Action Center. But, said Flounders, “what they’re telling the people of the world is always a lie. Always.”
Rally Makes Connection Between African American and Palestinian Struggles
On October 11, hundreds will gather at the Malcolm X and Betty Shabbaz Center, in Harlem, to affirm their solidarity with Palestinians under the Israeli apartheid regime. “The World Stands with Palestine” rally will highlight parallels in the plight of Blacks in the U.S. and Palestinians under occupation. The Center is housed on the site of Malcolm X’s assassination, in 1965. “Malcolm would have been an African internationalist,” said hip hop artist and activist M-1. “To have the rally in the former Audubon Ballroom completes the cycle.”
Black Politicians Silent and Ineffectual: Throw Them Out
One looks at the images from Ferguson “and sees in an instant that there is a war against Black people,” said Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner. What are Black politicians doing? “Many, if not most, have been silent,” said Abu Jamal, in a report for Prison Radio. “A new, militant, responsive politics must arise, built by the young who are clear-eyed and committed.”
Detroit: Water Cut-Offs Lead to Evictions
Pastor Ray Anderson, of the House of Help church and community center, joined with the grassroots Water Brigade to halt the water cut-offs that have affected hundreds of thousands. Before long, the city cut off the House of Help’s water, too. “A lot of people are losing their homes when their house goes into foreclosure because of the water bill,” said Pastor Anderson. “I believe it’s a God-given right for us to have water,” especially since Detroit sits on the Great Lakes, the greatest reservoir of fresh water in the world.