Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Politics of Death: Throwing Mumia Abu-Jamal Under the Bus

Published on This Can't Be Happening (

The Politics of Death: Throwing Mumia Abu-Jamal Under the Bus
By Dave Lindorff

"I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."
--Frederick Douglass

On the evening of March 4, participants at the Fourth UN World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Geneva, Switzerland had assembled from all over the globe for a dramatic Voices of Victims evening. It got more dramatic than they had anticipated though, when suddenly a cell phone rang and Robert R. Bryan, lead defense attorney for Mumia Abu-Jamal, jumped up on the stage to announce that his client had called him from death row in Pennsylvania.

The audience in rapt silence as the emcee held the phone up to the microphone. Abu-Jamal, on death row for 28 years after a widely disputed conviction for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, greeted the delegates and than, as he has done on many occasions before, described to them the horrors of life in prison for the 20,000 people around the world who are awaiting execution.

A small group of American death penalty abolitionist leaders, led by Renny Cushing, executive director of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, stalked out of the hall. Two members of MVFHR, however, remained in the hall: Bill Babbitt, whose brother Manny, a Vietnam vet suffering acute post-traumatic stress disorder, was executed in California; and Bill Pelke, whose grandmother was murdered by a girl whom he later befriended and helped to spare from execution. Babbitt even joined Bryan onstage during Abu-Jamal's brief address.

What neither Babbitt nor Pelke, nor Abu-Jamal and his attorney, Bryan, knew at the time was that way back in December, leaders and individual board members of several of the organizations in the US abolitionist movement had signed--without their full boards’ or their memberships’ knowledge--a “confidential” memorandum [1], which they then sent to the French organizers of the World Congress, stating bluntly that, “As international representatives of the US abolition movement, we cannot agree to the involvement of Abu-Jamal or his lawyers in the World Congress beyond attendance.”

Purporting to be from “the US members of the Steering Committee” of the World Congress” (though hardly an inclusive list of that committee’s membership) and titled, “Involvement of Mumia Abu-Jamal endangers the US coalition for abolition of the death penalty,” the memo claimed that the French organizers of the World Congress, Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM), had arranged to have Abu-Jamal speak “over objection.” The memo further further asserted that the abolitionist movement in the US is trying to “cultivate” the support of the ultra-conservative and staunchly pro-death penalty Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), an organization representing some 35,000 police officers in the US that advocates the execution of Abu-Jamal and all other prisoners convicted of killing of police officers. The FOP, said the memo, has “announced a boycott of organizations and individuals who support Abu-Jamal,” and therefore anything done by the Congress to aid his cause would be “dangerously counter-productive to the abolition movement in the US.”

ThisCantBeHappening! this past week obtained a copy of that secret memorandum.

When we showed it to some other members of the boards of the organizations whose officers or individual board members had signed their names to it, responses ranged from consternation to outrage. Babbitt’s brother Manny was killed as a direct result of a corrupt law enforcement system in California that pressed for execution, even though it was clear from medical testimony that the elderly grandmother he allegedly killed actually died of shock when she discovered him breaking and entering her apartment. Left in the dark about the memo despite his being on the WVFHR board, Babbitt said, “My brother Manny’s last words to me were to always take the high road, and to me that means telling the truth and being open and transparent.” He added, regarding the content of the memo, “I think throwing Mumia under the bus is not the way to go in the abolitionist movement. You don’t make bargains with a wolf whose motive is to devour.”

Robert Meeropol, a son of Ethyl and Julius Rosenberg, who were executed as spies in 1953, is also a member of the MVFHR board. Currently traveling on behalf of the organization in Asia, he said through a staffer in the US that he did not know about the memo, and added that he still stands “fully in support of a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal.”

Several calls seeking a comment from Cushing or Lowenstein remain unanswered, though a staffer at the WVFHR Boston office, Susanna Sheffer, said, “This is a complicated thing. You need to understand the depth and texture of this.”

Also surprised at the memo was actor Michael Farrell, president of the California abolitionist group Death Penalty Focus. Farrell, a long-time supporter of the call for a new trial for Abu-Jamal, said he had never seen the memo, though it was signed by a member of the DPF board, attorney Elizabeth Zitrin.

Other signers of the memo were Thomas H. “Speedy” Rice of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Kritsin Houlé of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and Juan Matos de Juan of the Puerto Rican Bar Assn.

Bryan, a veteran death penalty defense lawyer who served 10 years on the board of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty--three of them as the organization’s chair--says, “In all my years as an activist opposing the death penalty, I have never heard of any individual or group in that fight singling out anyone as an exception to our campaign to abolish capital punishment. Everyone is treated equally. To single someone out and say they don’t count is chilling. Where do you draw the line? At people accused of killing cops? At people accused of killing old ladies? People accused of killing children? Where does it stop? It’s appalling!”

Heidi Beghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, an organization that has long been in the forefront of the campaign to end the death penalty in the US, and which was not advised of the plan to circulate the memo on behalf of the US Steering Committee to the World Congress, despite it’s being a charter member of the World Congress, roundly condemned the secret effort to silence Abu-Jamal at the March event.

“Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case is emblematic of the inherent flaws in the capital punishment system,” she said. “That he is castigated by leaders in the abolitionist movement shows precisely what is wrong with the system­it is a system enslaved to the whims and personal biases of police, prosecutor, judge, and jury. While cultivating certain voices of law enforcement may assist in efforts to achieve abolition, it should not be at the expense of exposing a case that embodies some of the most reprehensible actions on the part of the police, the district attorney and the judiciary. The powerful FOP, and their heavy-handed efforts to vilify Abu-Jamal and his supporters, should not be the barometer by which abolitionist leaders gauge their strategic priorities. Members of the abolitionist movement should be working together and not further censoring and ostracizing a death row inmate.”

What makes the American abolitionists’ petulant and manipulative behavior as expressed in the secret memo and their cynical threat to withdraw from the Congress particularly outrageous is that Abu-Jamal’s arrest, trial and appeals process has been, as Beghosian notes, a textbook case of police and prosecutor corruption, malfeasance and abuse. From the beginning, even before his arrest, Abu-Jamal’s case was poisoned by a police lust for vengeance. Although he had been shot through the lung and liver by a bullet fired from Officer Faulkner’s service revolver, and was in danger of dying of internal bleeding that was filling his lungs with blood, Abu-Jamal was left lying in a police wagon for almost half an hour before he was finally delivered to a hospital emergency room, where hospital staff and at least one police officer on the scene observed him being kicked and punched by the officers delivering him.

During the jury selection process at the beginning of his trial, the presiding judge, Albert Sabo, who as a county sheriff’s deputy was an FOP member before was made a judge, was overheard by a second judge and his court stenographer saying to his own court clerk, as he exited the courtroom through the jurdge’s robing room, “Yeah and I’m gonna help them fry that nigger!”

During the tortuous appeals process, both the state and federal courts have shamelessly bent their rules and violated precedents to deny Abu-Jamal the benefits of precedents that have been routinely accorded other appellants. Third Circuit Appeals Court Judge Thomas Ambro wrote in a stinging dissent to a decision by his two colleagues who effectively created new law from the bench in rejecting Abu-Jamal’s well-founded Batson claim of racial bias by the prosecution during jury selection at his trail. Scarcely concealing his outrage, Judge Ambro wrote: "Our Court has previously reached the merits of Batson claims on habeas review in cases where the petitioner did not make a timely objection during jury selection--signaling that our Circuit does not have a federal contemporaneous objection rule--and I see no reason why we should not afford Abu-Jamal the courtesy of our precedents." He added, "Why we pick this case to depart from that reasoning I do not know."

Abu-Jamal himself, interviewed by phone last Friday from his cell at the super-max death row facility SCI-Greene in western Pennsylvania, blasted the attempt to silence him at the Congress, and to ostracize him from the American abolitionist movement. “They are really making deals with the devil,” he said, of claims that the US abolitionist movement was trying to gain the support of the FOP. “My instinct, being from Philadelphia, is that money was passed, though I have not evidence to prove it.” He added, “This secret action is a threat to the entire abolitionist movement. They are saying that because the opposition (to abolition) is so strong, we should not fight. If you have that attitude, why have an abolitionist movement at all?”

Abu-Jamal, whose death penalty was lifted by a federal judge in 2001, only to have the US Supreme Court remand that decision back to the Third Circuit, where it could be reimposed, and who continues to be held in solitary confinement on death row, where he maintains his innocence, calls the signers of the memo “co-conspirators,” and says they are “naive” to believe they can win over the FOP by abandoning him to his fate.

“If the slavery abolitionists had taken this approach back in 1860,” he says, “and said okay let’s free the slaves, except those uppity ones with prices on their heads like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, we’d still have slavery today.” Abu-Jamal said it appeared that the abolitionist movement appeared to have lost its way, and said that it needed to be broadened to more closely reflect the population of the nation’s death rows. where nearly everyone is poor, and where 53% of the doomed inmates are non-white.

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from the US members of the Steering Committee of the WCADP
Involvement of Mumia Abu-Jamal endangers the US coalition
for abolition of the death penalty

ECPM has unilaterally, and over objection, determined to give the Mumia Abu-Jamal case a prominent role in the upcoming 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, including the participation of Mr. Abu-Jamal's lawyers and his direct participation by telephone. The US members of the Steering Committee of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty do not agree to this, because it will be counter-productiveto our effort to achieve abolition in our country.

The Abu-Jamal case, regardless of its merits, acts as a lightning rod that galvanizes opponents of abolition and neutralizes key constituencies in the cause of abolition. Continuing to give Abu-Jamal focused attention unnecessarily attracts our strongest opponents and alienates coalition partners at a time when we need to build alliances, not foster hatred and enmity.

While Abu-Jamal still attracts some positive attention outside of the United States, it is at a real cost to the US abolition effort. In 1999, the world's largest association of professional law enforcement officers, the Fraternal Order of Police, announced a boycott of organizations and individuals who support Abu-Jamal. Bills have been introduced in both houses of the US federal legislature condemning the naming of streets for Abu-Jamal. The result is that Abu-Jamal, rather than abolition of the death penalty, becomes the issue and the focus of attention. That is dangerously counter-productive to the abolition movement in the US.
The voices of the Innocent, the voices of Victims and the voices of Law Enforcement are the most persuasive factors in changing public opinion and the views of decision-makers (politicians) and opinion leaders (media). Continuing to shine a spotlight on Abu-Jamal, who has had so much public exposure for so many years, threatens to alienate these three most important partnership groups.

The support of law enforcement officials is essential to achieving abolition in the United States. It is essential to the national abolition strategy of US abolition activists and attorneys, that we cultivate the voices of police, prosecutors and law enforcement experts, to support our call for an end to the death penalty. It was key in New Jersey and in New Mexico, it is fundamental to abolition throughout the US, and it will be a primary focus for 2010 and beyond. We have begun to make real progress with police officers and prosecutors speaking out against the death penalty as a failed policy.

«In a national poll released in 2009, the nation's police chiefs ranked the death penalty last in their priorities for effective crime reduction. The officers did not believe the death penalty acted as a deterrent to murder, and they rated it as one of most inefficient uses of taxpayer dollars in fighting crime .... "

Death Penalty Information Center, The Death Penalty in 2009: Year End Report, December 18,2009. If the 4th World Congress gives Abu-Jamal and his lawyers the focus and attention proposed by ECPM, the US movement for abolition will be exposed to a serious backlash that will directly damage the delicate alliances we are building with essential groups. As international representatives of the US abolition movement, we cannot agree to the involvement of Abu-Jamal or his lawyers in the World Congress beyond attendance.

For these reasons, providing Abu-Jamal the World Congress stage will require us to consider how to distance our programs in order to protect our vital alliances with our key partners and constituencies. To be effective ad- vocates within the US we must and will continue our strategic approach to abolition with our core allies and our evolving partners. Featuring Mr. Abu-Jamal's case as ECPM has proposed presents an unacceptably high risk of fracturing a developing but still fragile alliance with vitally important constituencies - constituencies that can either help our movement reach the goal of abolition or severely hinder our progress.

Elizabeth Zitrin (DPF), Renny Cushing and Kate Lowenstein (MVFHR), Speedy Rice (NACDL), Kristin Houle (TCADP), Juan Matos de Juan (PRBA)

21 December 2009

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30 June 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

At Confirmation Hearings, Kagan Faces Questioning on Political Leanings, Gun Ownership, Military Recruiting, and Abortion
The Senate Judiciary Committee will continue questioning Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan today after she mounted a spirited defense against her critics Tuesday. Fifteen years ago, Kagan called the Supreme Court confirmation process "a vapid and hollow charade" where nominees simply offer a "repetition of platitudes." Although many noted that Kagan did not significantly depart from this script, her confirmation did have a few heated as well as light moments in exchanges with Senators from both sides of the aisle. We play excerpts, and get commentary from Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree, who has known Kagan for 25 years and serves as special counsel to President Obama.

Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree on "The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Race, Class and Crime in America"
The Cambridge Police Department is scheduled to release the results today of an independent review of the arrest of leading African American Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. by a white police officer last year. The incident made national headlines and sparked a national debate on race relations that reached all the way to the White House. Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree acted as counsel to professor Gates throughout the incident, which he documents along with other incidents of racial profiling in his new book, "The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Race, Class and Crime in America."

From Ku Klux Klan Member to Iraq War Opponent and Obama Supporter, Late Sen. Robert Byrd Remembered for "Principle and Honor"
Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia will lie in state today following his death at the age of ninety-two. Elected in 1958, Byrd served an unprecedented nine terms in the US Senate. In the 1940s, Byrd was a prominent member of Ku Klux Klan in West Virginia, rising to the position of "exalted cyclops." He opposed the desegregation of the US military and filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Byrd would later apologize, saying his association with the Klan was a sad mistake. In 2008, he endorsed President Obama for president. In 2003, he was a leading critic of President Bush’s push to invade Iraq. Charles Ogletree says: "We don’t judge people by how they were born but how they lived their life, and here is a man who in the long-term was a giant and a champion."


Kagan Faces Opening Day of Questioning at Confirmation Hearings
Petraeus Vows to Review Restrictions on U.S. Attacks in Afghanistan
Taliban Fighters Attack NATO Base
Claim: U.S. Ambassador Threatens Afghan Attorney General With Dismissal
Kerry, Lieberman Offer to Further Weaken Climate Bill
Dems Remove $17.9B Bank Tax from Financial Overhaul
BP, Coast Guard Sued for Burning Endangered Sea Turtles
Putin Criticizes U.S. Arrests of Alleged Russian Spies
Israeli FM: No Palestinian State By 2012
Supreme Court Orders New Hearing in Siegelman Case
Survey: Majority of Americans Hit by Recession
Olympia Peace Activist Wins $400,000 in Damages for Gov’t Surveillance

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

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Agenda for Senate Indian Affairs Committee business meeting (6/29)

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Yakama Nation members stranded in Alabama in hopes of jobs (6/29)

Navajo Nation president loses ruling in campaign for third term (6/29)

Review: Washington politics and the 'Wounded Knee' massacre (6/29)

Column: Republicans slam Thurgood Marshall in Kagan hearing (6/29)

Miccosukee Tribe under scrutiny for $61K per capita payments (6/29)

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United Auburn Indian Community debuts new hotel for casino (6/29)

Tim Giago: A Native American newspaper born on July 1, 1981 (6/28)

Salazar tells BIA to continue work on gaming land applications (6/28)

Mark Trahant: Community health centers a new funding source (6/28)

Editorial: Barrasso should listen to tribes on Cobell settlement (6/28)

Supreme Court dismisses petition in Cobell accounting appeal (6/28)

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Libby Washburn: Remembering Udall legacy in Indian Country (6/28)

Brent Wesley: An Indian within the meaning of the Indian Act (6/28)

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Alaska Native leaders ready for meeting with Larry Echo Hawk (6/28)

Navajo community moves to address suicide among its youth (6/28)

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29 June 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

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John Pilger: There Is A War on Journalism
It’s been a week since Rolling Stone published its article on General Stanley McChrystal that eventually led to him being fired by President Obama. Since the article came out, Rolling Stone and the reporter who broke the story, Michael Hastings, have come under attack in the mainstream media for violating the so-called "ground rules" of journalism. But the investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger says Hastings was simply doing what all true journalists need to do.

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Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan Vows To Be Impartial
Republicans Criticize Kagan’s Ties to Thurgood Marshall
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Indigenous Peoples Speak Out

At the US Social Forum:

At the G8/G20

This Week from Indian Country Today

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NANTUCKET, Mass. – A renewable energy advocacy group from California and conservation groups from as far away as Texas have partnered with the Alliance to Save Nantucket Sound in a district court lawsuit against the federal agencies that approved the industrial Cape Wind energy factory in Nantucket Sound, an area sacred to the Wampanoag people. Read more »


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This week we mourn the passing of an American hero, Clarence Wolf Guts, who was the last surviving Lakota code talker from World War II. He was laid to rest in Black Hills National Cemetery after a traditional Lakota funeral in Wanblee, S.D. June 22. I had the distinct honor of knowing Clarence and was privileged to meet him. With his passing we take a moment to honor and remember the life of a man who contributed not only to the history of South Dakota but also to the history of the United States. Read more »

For news you won't get from Indian Country Today, see Censored News.

Native rights protest at the G20

Native rights protest at the G20
Native activists took to the empty streets of Toronto for the G20
By Ellie Kirzner
It’s pretty easy to go on a march for native sovereignity and suddenly find yourself filled with awe.

It certainly happened for me, yet again, on Thursday as a several-thousand strong anti-G20 parade led by activists carrying eagle feathers, wound its way though University, Bay, Yonge, and then headed out of the scorching sun to the green respite of Allan Gardens.

The march was intended to highlight the fact that Canada hasn’t adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples — but it was really all about the full weight of what’s been done to native communities.

Where was the G20 content? Several speakers stressed that the leaders’ Summit has no decision-making authority over First Nation territories — and that was pretty much the extent of it.

But no matter. Many had come to town from locations far, far from the powercenters, not just of the country, but of the globe and with the G20-chasing media in tow, it was time to tell the world things have not gone well.

“The G20 wants to maintain and consolidate hierarchical power — we have a different concept: we have a circular base to our culture,’’ Arthur Manual from the Secwepemc Nation in Kamloops told me, summing up the prevailing view.

Doreen Silversmith from Six Nations told the crowd about the over 500 missing and murdered aboriginal women, including, she said, two of her cousins. “All the money spent on the G20 could have been used to find the perpetrators,’’ she said.

And from the Saik’uz Carrier Nation in B.C., Jasmin Thomas, a traditional healer, reported on the proposed Enbridge Pipeline, slated to carry crude from the tar sands and how the resource industry is destroying the medicines she picks in the wilds.

As they marched, protesters chanted: “Whose water-our water, whose land-our land’’ and “Justice, freedom, self-determiniation/Canada is an illegal nation.’’ At one point, an organizer took to the bullhorn to dis Children’s Aid — “stop taking our children,’’ he said. “No more CAS,’’ the crowd answered. One aboriginal woman with a child on her shoulders shouted: “our kids are not for sale.’’

At the U.S. consulate Harrison Friesen, a Cree from Big Stone Alberta, stopped the march to “show solidarity with [imprisoned] brother Leonard Peltier'' and to tell “the sisters and brothers in the U.S. that we know what they go through.’’

Just out of sight lurked a phantom contingent of cops and horses which appeared and reappeared with eery regularity. Yes, the police presence was overwhelming but somewhat defanged by the fact that most of the visible officers present (I stress visible because there was a heap of cop action on the side streets) walked their bikes along the side of the march and generally had their friendly faces on. Despite the fact that the parade took over University, Bay, and Yonge at various times, it had no official permit.

Later when I checked with the Integrated Security Unit, spokesperson Michelle Murphey admitted that during the summit, there was a expectation protesters would be just taking streets.

At one point, a mass bunchup of police on foot appeared at Bay and Wellesley and things felt a little tense.Why were they always just showing up like that? Chief Bill Blair claimed later that police were trying to "facilitate'' the parade— but let's be clear, demonstrators have been leading traffic-safe mass marches on the streets of the city for decades. Stopping for a while in the intersection, the drummers started to pound extra hard it seemed to me and the throat singers were wailing to a fever pitch.

But the organizers were very clear what kind of demo this was — it was announced from the mic that no one should wear bandanas over their face. And leaders just continued onwards, ignoring the black police vans that were now leading the march.

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25 June 2010: Democracy Now!

Fortress Toronto: Massive Security Clampdown for G8/G20 Meetings Most Expensive in Canadian History
World leaders have started arriving for the G8 and G20 meetings amidst a massive security crackdown that will mark the most expensive three days in Canadian history. Large swaths of Toronto’s downtown core have the appearance of a police state, with an estimated deployment of over 19,000 security personnel—nearly five times the number at the G20 in Pittsburgh last year. The security price tag is around $1 billion, and some predict the total summit cost will surpass $2 billion. [includes rush transcript]

CODEPINK Activist Detained for Over 48 Hours at Canadian Border After Being Denied Entry to Canada
Two activists from the group CODEPINK taking part in the US Social Forum were detained and prevented from entering Canada on Wednesday when they tried to cross the border from Detroit. Democracy Now!’s Mike Burke spoke with one of them, CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin. [includes rush transcript]

Indigenous Activists Protest G8/G20 Meetings in Toronto
On Thursday, indigenous groups in Toronto held a demonstration to protest the G8 and G20 meetings. Franklin López and Dawn Paley of the Vancouver Media Co-op file a report from the streets. [includes rush transcript]

Indigenous Leader Art Manuel: "Indigenous People Are the First Ones Impacted" by Western-Driven Resource Extraction
Indigenous leader Art Manuel, former Chief of the Neskonlith Band in British Columbia and spokesperson for the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, joins us to talk about the struggle for indigenous rights and sovereignty in the context of the G20 summit. [includes rush transcript]

Indigenous Groups Lead Struggle Against Canada’s Tar Sands
A group of lawmakers are calling on the Obama administration to take a closer look at the significant environmental impacts of a proposed massive pipeline that would carry Canadian tar sands oil 2,000 miles from northern Alberta all the way down to refineries in Texas and tankers off the Gulf Coast. Tar sands mining emits three times more greenhouse gas pollution than traditional oil and has come under heavy criticism from environmental and indigenous groups. Democracy Now!’s Mike Burke speaks to Clayton Thomas-Müller, a Canadian indigenous activist with the Indigenous Environmental Network. [includes rush transcript]

Canadian Activist Stefan Christoff Targeted by Government Surveillance, Harassment Ahead of G20 Summit
The G20 host province of Ontario has secretly passed an unprecedented regulation allowing police to arrest anyone near the G20 security zone who refuses to identify themselves or agree to a police search. We speak to Stefan Christoff, a Montreal-based activist who has come under harassment from the Canadian intelligence agency, CSIS, over the past year. [includes rush transcript]


Obama Backs Down from July 2011 Drawdown in Afghanistan
Congress Negotiators Approve Financial Regulation Overhaul
Senate Republicans Block Unemployment Benefits Bill
NRA, Sierra Club Exempted from Campaign Finance Bill
US to Deploy Predator Drones Along Texas-Mexico Border
Obama Faces Another Setback on Drilling Moratorium
Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Enron CEO
Julia Gillard Becomes Australia’s First Female PM
Whale Hunting Talks Break Down
Jamaican Gang Leader Extradited to US
Detroit to Close 77 City Parks

June 26 Statement by Leonard Peltier

June 26, 2010


I want to first say thank you—thank you for taking the time and making the commitment to come to this place—but thank you mostly for remembering. Sometimes I sit in this cage and I find myself wondering if anyone really remembers. Many days, remembering is all my mind allows me to do. So, again, thank you. Thank you for bearing witness and being a part of a living memory.

But maybe the most important thing I’d like to say is don’t forget. Not ever.

You must be the historians who keep this lesson alive because this story isn’t about one day, one event, one person, or even one lifetime. This is a story that goes all the way back to the day a misguided fool, whose name I won’t even mention, led his troops in an attack on innocent people at the Greasy Grass, and in the process got himself and over two hundred of his troopers killed. And while the victors on that day had no choice but to defend themselves, we have been the victims of a genocidal revenge that continues until this very moment. So don’t forget. Not ever.

It is vengeance that preoccupies the mind of the colonizer. It is this fervor to show us who is boss that led to the massacre at Wounded Knee, the theft of the Black Hills, the establishment of boarding schools, and the criminalization of our languages and traditional ways. It is vengeance that armed the GOON squads, killed our leaders, and surrounded our people at Wounded Knee again in 1973. Revenge is why they today prosecute Indian people for the crimes they know the government committed during their murderous campaigns of the last generation. Vengeance is what killed Joe Stuntz, Anna Mae Aquash, Buddy Lamont and so many others. Getting even is what keeps me in prison. So don’t forget. Not ever.

All of these events are bound together, interrelated and interdependent. And quite clearly the lesson they intend for us to learn is don’t defend yourselves. Don’t stand up for what is right. Don’t think for yourselves. Don’t choose to be who you are. Don’t remember your ancestors. Don’t live in defense of the Earth. Don’t you do it! Don’t even think about it. If you do, this government—this mindset of control—will unleash an attack so vast it will even seek to destroy our genetic memories. So don’t forget. Not ever.

In days past, some among our people were induced to become “scouts”. For whatever reasons, these individuals made possible the treacherous campaigns that resulted in the deaths of countless innocent people. These days—sadly—there are still these types amongst us. The government preys on the weaknesses of these people, inducing them to turn against the rest of us. The government uses this treachery to cover up state sanctioned murder and terrorism. They do this and then tell us that what we remember didn’t really happen at all, as though memory or truth is something to be shaped and molded to fit a preconceived outcome. So don’t forget. Not ever.

We gather today after decades and generations of blood and trauma. We gather in defiance.

And we remember.

We remember not just one day or one event, because remembering what occurred on June 25 or June 26—or any particular date—is important, but not as important as an understanding of the ongoing campaign of colonization. This is a continuing human drama of slaughter and uncontrollable bloodlust and we’re still here, engaged in our running defense; praying for balance, peace and justice; and trying to make some sense of it all. Perhaps, in the face of such a menace, the most important thing we can do is remember. So teach your children. Pass this knowledge. Don’t forget. Not ever.

Remembering is resisting and, if we remember, then we’ll be free one day. Free of their mindset. Free of their theft. Free of their guns and their bombs. Free of their cages. Free to be who we are.

And free of their fear. That’s the truest freedom of all and true freedom is what this is really all about, not the illusion of freedom they offer us.

So don’t forget. Not ever.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier

Friday, June 25, 2010

News from Indianz.Com

Kevin Abourezk: NCAI passes resolution for Cobell settlement (6/24)

Senate passes Tribal Law and Order Act as part of another bill (6/24)

Senate Indian Affairs Committee meeting, hearing on June 30 (6/24)

9th Circuit revives Indian preference lawsuit against Peabody (6/24)

Labor Department announces $67M in tribal workforce grants (6/24)

Chippewa Cree Tribe assesses damage after flooding disaster (6/24)

Indian Country takes aim at alarming rate of Type 2 diabetes (6/24)

New York paper profiles Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation leader (6/24)

Federal judge holds regular sessions on Hopland Reservation (6/24)

Most claims dismissed in law enforcement discrimination suit (6/24)

Elem Pomo Tribe steps up efforts to reacquire ancestral land (6/24)

New Mexico court boots Navajo woman off state commission (6/24)

Navajo Nation rape suspect turns self in to federal authorities (6/24)

NPR: Interview with author of book on Comanche Chief Parker (6/24)

Opinion: Louisiana tribe suffers through Gulf of Mexico oil spill (6/24)

Abramoff not a 'monster' according to new boss at pizza spot (6/24)

Secretary Salazar welcomes Tracie Stevens as leader of NIGC (6/24)

Mississippi Choctaw members seek referendum on casino bid (6/24)

Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe in 'holding pattern' on casino bill (6/24)

Mashantucket Tribe backs protections for gay casino workers (6/24)

ATMs at most casinos readily accept California welfare cards (6/24)

NCAI backs Cobell settlement, rejects Barrasso amendment (6/23)

More headlines...

Eric McDavid Update

Update June 23, 2010

Dear friends,

This is just a quick note to let you know that a date has finally been set for oral argument of Eric's appeal. The date is August 9th at 9 am in San Francisco. This is the last major step that has to happen before a decision is issued on the appeal. However, it could be another 6 months to over a year after oral arguments before the appeals court issues a decision. We still have many months of anxious waiting. Please keep Eric in your thoughts during this time.

To find out more about how to support Eric- including information on how to send him letters - please visit:

Eric's Support Crew

Immigration Checkpoint

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mondo we Langa appeals 1971 COINTELPRO case to Eighth Circuit over new evidence

Mondo we Langa appeals 1971 COINTELPRO case to Eighth Circuit over new evidence
June 24, 12:17 PM · Michael Richardson - COINTELPRO Examiner

Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice) has filed an application with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit seeking permission for a hearing in U.S. District Court on new evidence. Mondo, a former leader of the Omaha, Nebraska chapter of the Black Panthers called the National Committee to Combat Fascism, is serving a life sentence for the August 17, 1970 bombing murder of an Omaha policeman.

Mondo we Langa’s case is at the confluence of judicial activism by Chief Justice Warren Burger and COINTELPRO abuses by J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Burger decided to use Mondo’s case to roll back the “Warren Court” era and deprive prisoners of habeas corpus protection in federal courts when state courts are available. Hoover had targeted Mondo for counterintelligence actions and personally approved the withholding of a FBI crime lab report on the 911 call that lured policeman Larry Minard to his death to make a case against Mondo.

Mondo was implicated in the murder by the confessed 15 year-old killer, Duane Peak who also claims to have made the 911 call, and by dynamite supposedly found in Mondo’s basement. Steadfastly denying any involvement in the crime, Mondo remains imprisoned four decades later.

The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for Mondo back in the 1970’s over the search of his house but the Supreme Court denied the order in a consolidated case, Stone v. Powell. Mondo’s case was the immediate proof that Stone v. Powell was going to have lasting negative implications for prisoners when his case was not heard on the merits.

New scientific testing of the 911 tape revealed that it was not Duane Peak who made the call as he testified, leaving an unknown killer at large. The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled last year in the case of co-defendant Ed Poindexter, also serving a life term, that the tape wasn’t critical information for the jury. However, the voice of the killer is something that just will not go away and is the subject, in part, of Mondo’s petition for habeas corpus filed last week in U.S. District Court.

Mondo’s attorney, Timothy Ashford of Omaha, reveals some other new information the 1971 jury also never knew.

“Several unusual events have occurred throughout the course of Mondo’s proceedings that cast aspersion upon his jury verdict. First, approximately one month before the explosion, one of the primary investigative officers from the Omaha Police Department, Sgt. Jack Swanson, stopped three black men in north Omaha and seized from the trunk of their vehicle a case of DuPont Red Cross dynamite. All three men were charged with felony possession of explosives, but each had their case dismissed approximately one week after the jury found Mondo guilty in the spring of 1971.”

“Coincidently, on August 22, 1970, Sgt. Jack Swanson claimed to have also found a case of the exact same type of dynamite in the basement of Mondo’s house.”

“Sgt. Jack Swanson testified at Mondo and co-defendant Poindexter’s trial that he was the person who found the dynamite in the basement of Mondo’s house. Sgt. Bill Pfeffer testified at Mondo’s trial that he never went into Mondo’s basement where the dynamite was found.”

“Interestingly, Sgt. Bill Pfeffer was deposed in 2006 and stated under oath that he was the person who found the dynamite in Mondo’s basement. He later testified at co-defendant Poindexter’s post-conviction hearing in 2007 to the same thing. When confronted with the inconsistency in his sworn testimony, Pfeffer became incredulous and extremely defensive.””

“Mondo cannot prove that Omaha Police Department officers planted the dynamite found in Mondo’s basement, but the circumstantial coincidence of these events lends credence to Mondo’s actual innocence on the first degree murder charge.”

“Mondo’s case also occurred during the racial turmoil of the late 1960s and the early 1970s. Specifically, the FBI had instituted its COINTELPRO program designed to create internal fractures in the political groups it had targeted. History teaches that the Black Panther movement was targeted by the FBI in this program, including fringe groups associated with the Black Panthers.”

“Furthermore, Mondo was the victim of racial hatred by OPD which included him being called numerous racial epithets by law enforcement and being repeatedly harassed by members of OPD.”

Mondo we Langa and Ed Poindexter have come to be known as the Omaha Two and are both imprisoned in the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary.

24 June 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

3 US Soldiers Speak Out on McChrystal’s Firing, Petraeus as Replacement, and the Unending War in Afghanistan
President Obama says the Afghan war will continue as planned despite his firing of General Stanley McChrystal over disparaging comments made by McChrystal and his aides about top US officials. Obama has named General David Petraeus, head of the US Central Command and architect of the surge in Iraq, as a successor. The firing of McChrystal comes at a perilous moment in the Afghan war, with June now the deadliest month for the NATO force since the 2001 invasion. We speak to three soldiers: Brock McIntosh, an Afghan war vet who has filed for conscientious objector status; Victor Agosto, who was jailed after refusing to deploy to Afghanistan after serving in Iraq; and Camilo Mejia, the first GI who served in Iraq to have publicly resisted the war. [includes rush transcript]

Detroit Urban Agriculture Movement Looks to Reclaim Motor City
In Detroit, demolition crews are planning to tear down 10,000 residential buildings over the next four years that the city has deemed dangerous. But as old structures are coming down, the city is redefining itself in other ways. An estimated 20 to 30 percent of the city’s lots are vacant, and there is a growing urban agriculture movement that community groups are using to reclaim the city. Malik Yakini, chairman of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, gives us a tour of D-Town Farm, one of the biggest urban farms in Detroit. [includes rush transcript]

Detroit Summer: The Youth Program that Inspired Many Activists to Make Detroit a Movement City
To many longtime Detroit-based activists, urban farming and other community-based programs are a prime example of why they see Detroit not as Ground Zero for the recession but as a movement city—a place that uses crisis as an opportunity to nurture sustainability and community-building. When many of the Detroit-based activists and organizers are asked how they first got involved in their communities, they often mention Detroit Summer, a youth program started in 1992. We speak with Michelle Brown, who is sometimes called "the mother of Detroit Summer," and a member of the Detroit Summer mural project. [includes rush transcript]

Detroit Hip-Hop Artist and Activist Invincible: Another Detroit Is Happening
Invincible performs an a capella version of her new "Detroit Summer" and talks about how youth organizing is transforming Detroit. She is releasing the song this summer on her own label Emergence, which is based on cooperative economics. The website recently named Invincible the fifth best female MC ever, behind Jean Grae, MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill and Queen Latifah. [includes rush transcript]


Obama Taps Petraeus as Afghan Commander After Firing McChrystal
June is Deadliest Month for NATO Occupation in Afghan War
Oil Spill Worsens After Containment Cap Damaged
"Despondent" Gulf Boat Captain Commits Suicide
Report: Iranian Officers Seized US Hikers in Iraq
5 US Citizens Sentenced to 10 Years in Pakistan
CIA Awards Blackwater Another Contract in Afghanistan
Poll: Most Palestinians Support Peace Deal with Israel
Israel Accused of Unlawfully Treating Jailed Nuclear Whistleblower
Swedish Dockworkers Launch Week-Long Boycott of Israeli Ships
Study Ranks US Last on Healthcare
Witnesses Recant Testimony at Hearing for Georgia Death Row Prisoner Troy Anthony Davis

Veronza Bowers Update

On Monday, June 21, 2010, attorneys for Veronza filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (Atlanta) challenging the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia denying his writ of habeas corpus and release on mandatory parole.

In a lengthy review of the case, Veronza's legal team submitted a strong and compelling argument for the judges of the 11th Circuit to accept Magistrate Judge Susan Cole's 2008 Report & Recommendation recommending Veronza's immediate release on parole. In that report Judge Cole concluded that the U.S. Parole Commission bowed to undue political pressure exerted by former-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and a rogue commissioner, and that the Commission acted illegally by violating statutes handed down by Congress, its own regulations and U.S. Constitution.

The government will next file a brief responding to our team's brief, and Veronza's attorneys will have the opportunity to reply. This process will take several more months. Then the judges will have the option of hearing oral argument in Atlanta, or deciding the case based upon the briefs alone.

23 June 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

Obama Considers Firing Gen. Stanley McChrystal over Public Criticism of Administration’s Handling of Afghan War Effort
The top US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, is in danger of losing his job over a magazine profile in which he criticizes several top Obama administration officials. McChrystal was summoned to Washington after Rolling Stone printed an article in which he and his aides mock Vice President Joe Biden, US ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, National Security Adviser General James Jones, and Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke. We speak to retired Army colonel and former US diplomat Ann Wright. In 2002, she helped open the US mission in Kabul. [includes rush transcript]

Over 10,000 March in Detroit to Open US Social Forum
Thousands of people from across the country marched through Detroit Tuesday afternoon to kick off the opening ceremony of the US Social Forum. The colorful, joyous, and sometimes raucous procession down Detroit’s Woodward Avenue included social movements and community organizations struggling for justice on everything from healthcare, the environment, fair trade, labor solidarity, immigrant rights, and racial profiling to Palestine solidarity, ending the wars, police brutality, and the devastating impact of the recession on people’s lives and sense of security. [includes rush transcript]

47 Years Ago in Detroit: Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Delivers First "I Have a Dream" Speech
We turn now to another historic march down Woodward Avenue in Detroit. It was June 23rd, 1963, when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a civil rights march of thousands and delivered a speech with what would become his most famous words: "I have a dream." The speech came two months before the historic March on Washington. We play an excerpt of the speech and talk to Grace Lee Boggs, who helped organize the march. [includes rush transcript]

Adrienne Maree Brown on the US Social Forum, Detroit and Octavia Butler
Thousands of activists and organizers have come from around the world for the US Social Forum for four days of workshops, meetings and marches to strengthen social movements and advance a progressive agenda. Democracy Now!’s Mike Burke was at Cobo Hall for the opening ceremony. He spoke with one of the national coordinators of the US Social Forum, Adrienne Maree Brown. [includes rush transcript]

Disability Justice Activists Look at "Ways to Maintain Ablism" and Counter "How Our Bodies Experience Trauma in the Medical-Industrial Complex"
Disability justice activists gathered in Detroit to take part in the US Social Forum and the Allied Media Conference. "There is a growing framework about how disability connects with other issues," says Stacey Milbern. "It’s a way to maintain ablism and not look at the way disability connects in with how our bodies are policed or experience trauma in the medical-industrial complex." [includes rush transcript]


Judge with Energy Ties Strikes Down Deepwater Drilling Ban
McChrystal Prepares Resignation Letter Ahead of Obama Meeting
British Envoy to Afghanistan Resigns
Evidentiary Hearing Begins in Troy Anthony Davis Case
Erlinder Returns to US After Rwanda Jailing
Both Sides Claim Victory in Supreme Court Ruling on Monsanto Crop
Greenpeace Activists Disrupt BP Speech
UN Probes Alleged Abuses in Sri Lanka Fighting
Jamaica Arrests Alleged Drug Lord
Israel Advances East Jerusalem Demolitions, Orders Expulsion of 4 Palestinian Politicians
Portuguese Novelist Jose Saramago Dies at 87

Oglala Commemoration Update: Concert

Due to all unforseen events in Oglala we have moved the concert portion of the event to the Prairie Wind Casino. Concert will begin at 6:00PM.

Dinner will be served at the Jumping Bull Property.

Please post and disseminate widely.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Leonard Peltier at the USSF

June 22, 2010

Welcome to the traditional lands of my people, the Anishinabe... Greetings, my brothers and sisters. Greetings also to my relations from the many different Indigenous Nations who now call this place “ Home ” . Thank you for your warm welcome.

Hello to all the people of conscience in attendance at the US Social Forum. Thank you for taking the time and expense to attend an event that people will talk about for years to come. I know if you focus and believe, this event can be a major step in the development of a new society—one that turns away from fossil fuels, war and the rampant destruction of our universal home and, instead, focuses on the betterment of all... as opposed to the enrichment of a select few.

I ask that you work this week, in particular, toward full recognition of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as an essential component of a just and honorable U.S. human rights policy. As many of you may know, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was developed over many years with the participation of thousands of Indigenous Peoples. It is consistent with human rights principles as contained in international law, as well as the U.S. Constitution. And, yet, two nations with the largest Indigenous populations—Canada and the United States—have failed to endorse the Declaration. We call upon the United States government to finally endorse the Declaration in its entirety—without qualifications or exceptions—and to work in full partnership with Indigenous Peoples, Tribal governments and Nations to ensure its implementation.

I am Leonard Peltier, an American Indian political prisoner who fought against some of the same ideas and mechanisms many of you are fighting against today. Perhaps it was in a different way and a different time, but many years ago we were warning against the very realities many of you face today. The energy companies were raping Indian Country years ago—long before the oil spills, the mining disasters, and the poisoned waters America has come to know so well. So perhaps you can spare a few minutes to listen to the admonitions of an old man, an old warrior whose wisdom has come at a very high price.

I encourage you to find unity in your various causes, because all of your struggles are linked. Actually, you don’t just find unity, you create it—each of you individually. Create unity within your specific organizations. And between them. Link your efforts and find ways to network and maximize those efforts.

Making change has never been more important. Make the most of every second, for time is growing short, as so many prophecies have foretold. Educate others about the realities you are struggling for and against. Especially focus on educating the young people who will further your efforts tomorrow. Know that your sensibilities are a gift from Creator intended to wake up and shake up the world so that we may improve how we treat the Earth and each other.

We Indian people like to say “we are all related”. I pass that truth on to you now. Each and every one of you and the work you are doing are related. Let that be your greeting between groups and persons, as well as an ethic—the very spirit of what gatherings like this are intended to be. Practice thinking and saying it until it is automatic. We are all related, so put aside whatever differences you may have and make solidarity a new and constant reality. Remember, this is not your struggle. It is for everyone.

I thank you for taking the time to remember an old activist and perhaps learn from the experiences of another people from another time.

Now go out and change the world! Make it a place you’ll be proud to hand to the next seven generations!


In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier

Monday, June 21, 2010

News from Indianz.Com

Charles Trimble: Can't really get excited about those mascots (6/21)

Sen. Barrasso hopes for vote on changes to Cobell settlement (6/21)

Mark Trahant: Expanding oral health access in Indian Country (6/21)

Kevin Abourezk: Omaha language professor draws complaints (6/21)

Powwow helps kickoff NCAI mid-year conference in Rapid City (6/21)

Dorothy Webster, Onondaga Nation clan mother, passes at 81 (6/21)

Chippewa Cree Tribe evacuates homes over flood emergency (6/21)

Delvin Cree: Turtle Mountain Band takes on toxic time bombs (6/21)

Harold Jacobs: Another unfulfilled promise for Alaska Natives (6/21)

Brenda Golden: Tribes still here in spite of Great White Father (6/21)

Rodriguez: Anti-immigration law spurred by manifest insanity (6/21)

Salon: Miley Cyrus race-baiting with wild 'tribal' performance (6/21)

School board meets to consider fate of controversial member (6/21)

Editorial: Fix problems in Seattle's Indian education program (6/21)

Review: A history of Indian relations in 'Making of Minnesota' (6/21)

Small tribe in Ecuador thriving with help of the 'Gringo Chief' (6/21)

Massachusetts gaming bill forces tribes to follow state laws (6/21)

Shinnecock Nation said to consider sites for potential casino (6/21)

State official questions Mississippi Choctaw casino compact (6/21)

Cherokee Nation hasn't decided on future of shuttered track (6/21)

Editorial: Casino competition takes toll on Connecticut tribes (6/21)

More headlines...

21 June 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

Academy Award-Winning Filmmaker Oliver Stone Tackles Latin America’s Political Upheaval in "South of the Border", US Financial Crisis in Sequel to Iconic "Wall Street"
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone has taken on three American presidents in JFK, Nixon and W. and the most controversial aspects of the war in Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July. He looked at the greed of the financial industry in the Hollywood hit Wall Street and its forthcoming sequel. In South of the Border, his latest documentary out this week in the United States, Stone takes a road trip across South America, meeting with seven presidents about the revolution sweeping the continent. The leftist transformation in the region might be ignored or misrepresented as nothing but "anti-Americanism" in the corporate media, but this film seeks to tell a different story. Stone joins us along with the film’s co-writer, the Pakistani British author and activist Tariq Ali. [includes rush transcript–partial]


Documents: BP Privately Estimates Spill of 100,000 Barrels a Day
BP Used "Risky" Well Design at Explosion Site
Admin Grants New Waivers for Gulf Drilling
10 Afghan Civilians Killed in NATO Attack; Afghan Violence Up 40%
US Awards Blackwater $120M Contract in Afghanistan
26 Killed in Iraq Car Bombings
US Ignores Calls for End to Gaza Seige
Protesters Block Israeli Ship from Unloading at Oakland Port
Ex-Defense Minister Wins Colombia Vote
Report: Admin Intervenes to Oppose Curbing CEO Pay
Study: Blacks, Latinos Hardest Hit by Foreclosures
Pentagon Revives Spy Database