Law and Disorder Radio

Archives for January, 2011


Law and Disorder January 31, 2011


Jon Burge, Former Chicago Police Commander Sentenced to 4 ½ Years

Here on Law and Disorder we’ve reported on the ongoing developments of the Chicago Torture case and former Chicago police commander Jon Burge. Burge has been sentenced to 4 and a half years in prison for obstruction of justice and lying about torturing prisoners to obtain coerced confessions. The People’s Law Office brought the case in 2005 and the city of Chicago refused to settle while pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the case. Attorney with the People’s Law Office Flint Taylor says the city has spent over the 10 million dollars in aiding the defense of former Commander Jon Burge. Mr. Burge, who is 63 and in ill health, was fired from the Chicago Police Department in 1993.  Attorney Flint Taylor’s Statement on Burge sentencing.

Attorney Flint Taylor:

  • Burge did not do this alone. Many people working under him or with him, those people are under investigation.
  • The city pours millions of dollars into the defense of Burge with private lawyers.
  • There needs to compensation and treatment for all the men that were tortured that number is in the hundreds.
  • We have a mayoral race here, with 3 Daley clones, none of them have addressed what the judge has said.
  • The judge cited the city and the police department as well as the state’s attorneys office under Richard Daley has a dismal failure of leadership with regard to these cases.
  • To be in the court room and hear a judge adopt our view that we fought so hard for, that was very rewarding.
  • People look at the sentence, it’s a little less than five years, of course you should do much more than that for torture.  The judge had her hands tied in some degree and she went as high as she could, going double on the guidelines that were recommended.
  • We’ve been raising for decades why Richard Daley didn’t prosecute for torture when he was states attorney.
  • The Obama Administration’s failure or refusal to prosecute admitted torturers, I’m talking about Bush who in his book admitted that he authorized water boarding.
  • Chicago is a beacon of light in the fight against torture.
  • We fought for decades here to get the prosecutions, to get the convictions, to get the sentence.

Guest – Attorney Flint Taylor, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern University School of Law and a founding partner of the Peoples Law Office. More bio

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State of Democratic Rights – Bill Goodman

We’re joined today by attorney Bill Goodman former legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights. Bill has been an extraordinary public interest lawyer for more than 30 years he’s served as counsel on issues including post-Katrina social justice, public housing, voting rights, the death penalty, living wage and human rights work in Haiti.  Bill delivered a speech recently titled the State of Democratic Rights, defining democracy as we now understand it. Everyone of these defining points has been attacked or undermined and very little has been done to repair them under the Obama Administration.

Attorney Bill Goodman:

  • If you want to define or crystallize what American democracy looks like in maybe 7 concepts you can break down pretty well.
  • People can’t be detained without good cause and without being charged with a crime in front of an independent magistrate.
  • They can’t be tortured or punished in ways that are extreme.
  • They’re allowed to protest publicly. First Amendment rights.
  • People can’t be discriminated against based upon religion.
  • Separation of powers, so that no single branch of government becomes overly important or overreaches.
  • Right to privacy. The government can’t break into our houses, unreasonable search and seizure.
  • The right to free and fair elections and have our votes counted.
  • From a lawyers perspective, what I see is an unwillingness of the courts.
  • It’s shameful that these judges don’t step up to the plate and say that this should not happen and will not happen.
  • Humanitarian Law v. Holder. There’s a very serious attempt to extend the concepts of terrorism to protesters right here in the United States.
  • People who work on behalf of the environment, animal rights.
  • The United States Supreme Court is happy to say that huge corporations can spend as much money as they possibly want to shift and tilt the electoral playing field right here in the United States.
  • In order to strengthen the Constitution we need active aggressive organized movements.
  • Within the end of a generation we can see the end of public education in the United States.

Guest – Bill Goodman, former legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights has been an extraordinary public interest lawyer for over 30 years, and has served as counsel on issues including post-Katrina social justice, public housing, voting rights, the death penalty, living wage, civil liberties, educational reform, constitutional rights, human rights work in Haiti, and civil disobedience.

Post Coup Aftermath – Honduras: Sarah Hogarth

Today we are joined by legal worker Sarah Hogarth who has recently returned from a human rights delegation to Honduras through the Friendship Office of the Americas. We talk with her about her observations on the post coup human rights crisis in that country. As listeners may know On June 28, 2009, the Honduran military ousted the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. Former Parliamentary speaker Roberto Micheletti was sworn in as Zelaya’s replacement. Repressive tactics were used immediately after the coup–people on the front lines who oppose this regime have been beaten and illegally detained by the state. Journalists and LGBT activists were among the first to be targeted and killed. Dr James Cockcroft joins interview.

Sarah Hogarth/ James Cockcroft:

  • The purpose was to meet with the movement leaders and the human rights organizations there.
  • Honduras elections broadly considered to be illegitimate.  The president who was overthrown, brought Honduras into ALBA.
  • The outgoing president was flown out of a US military base in Honduras. The whole world knew this, but the United States said it wasn’t a coup.  Now wikileaks shows that the ambassador was already telling Washington, it’s a coup.
  • Zelaya was not the most radical of political leaders by any stretch.
  • The resistance movement there is truly an inspiration. The new Honduran regime has instituted anti-terrorism legislation.
  • The community radio movement in Honduras is the primary means, to disseminate real news about what’s happening.
  • There was a time after the coup the radio equipment was not only shut down by the military but the equipment destroyed.
  • Withing 48 hours, community radio stations from other Latin American countries rushed to the borders of Honduras to keep communications going into Honduras among the resistors.
  • The people want the money flow to stop funding the new regime.
  • Six thousand Marines were just sent to Costa Rica. Two military bases in Honduras, 6 in Columbia.
  • The whole foreign policy of the United States has been and extension of the Bush policy of militarization of the world.
  • This is being pitched in the context of the war on drugs. Disguise the imperial intervention with the war on drugs.
  • There is an extremely small amount of arable land in Honduras.
  • The level of unity among all these people is truly impressive.
  • Another thing that is discouraging is the extreme privatization that has happened over the past year.
  • They have given away the farm to these large corporations.

Guest – Sarah Hogarth,  human rights activist in New York City. She is a freelance legal worker and writer and has recently returned from a human rights delegation to Honduras through the Friendship Office of the Americas. The delegation met with activists to learn about the human rights situation in Honduras in the one year since the elections in November 2009. In June 2009, democratically elected President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, was removed in a military coup d’etat.

Guest – Dr. James Cockcroft, historian and activist, Jim has written 45 books on Latin America. He’s a professor at the State University of New York and is a member of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five.

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Law and Disorder January 24, 2011


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The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict.

It’s been more than 2 years since Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, a massive surprise air strike against the Gaza Strip. In its aftermath, researchers began to unearth and document evidence of war crimes, human rights violations. Among those investigations was the Goldstone Report officially titled the Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza. The report is based on a course of investigations that include 188 interviews, the review of 10 thousand pages of documents and the inspection of 1200 photographs.  While most war crimes reports fade into the night, The Goldstone Report is kept alive in a recent book titled  The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict.

The authors Lizzy Ratner, Adam Horowitz and Philip Weiss have reprinted the central findings of the report and include 11 essays chronicling the report’s ongoing impact.  The introduction is written by author Naomi Klein with a forward by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The Goldstone Report:

  • LR: Operation Cast Lead: I remember thinking, can this just happen? Is there some kind of law that says this can’t happen?  Judge Goldstone is South African, he was a member of the Constitutional Court in South Africa. He is seen as someone who really advanced international law.
  • He’s a big Zionist. He’s a committed Zionist. In Israel, they loved him before this report.
  • He was fast friends with the head of the Supreme Court in Israel.
  • He goes to Gaza in 2009. It’s interesting he remark that thought that he would be kidnapped by Hamas. I think what happened, he went and he saw what life was like in Gaza, and had a bit of a conversion.
  • This is not somebody you would expect to come out and issue a report like this.
  • Our mission was there’s this report out there, it’s controversial, thunderous, it’s convulsive. Not many people have read it.  Once we read it, it became clear, it’s contents were extraordinary.
  • It lays out the events of Gaza in minute and devastating detail. We wanted to abridge the report and that really forms the core of the book.
  • We have a series of 11 different essays. Each take for the Goldstone Report with a different perspective.
  • PW: The first and last essays are from Gazans.
  • It’s explained in very vivid terms what it’s like to be under assault, to see white phosphorous raining down on this strip, which is tiny, it’s the size of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket put together. 1.5 million people.
  • Rogi’s thesis just itemizing this assault on Palestinian dignity, saying this is a basic human right, to live in dignity.
  • Goldstone: Lack of discrimination between civilians and combatants. A deliberate attack on the civilian infrastructure on the means of life. Israel had several recourses before it launched an all out assault on civilian infrastructure.
  • The Goldstone Report contradicts what Israel tends to say. One of things the report makes clear is there had been a cease fire for 6 months before the attack.
  • United States -  We’re not going to stop you Israel when you inflict collective punishment on 1.5 million people.
  • This book really helps give a window into the current perception of the Israel, Palestinian conflict as a whole and how that perception is changing.
  • AH: The anti-Goldstone report speeches were very uninformed.  They treated him like a witch and ex-communicated him from the Jewish community. Goldstonereportbook.com
  • The criminality, the complete selfishness, the utter indifference to other peoples lives.
  • I realize how much I was made to hate Arab people and Palestinian people and to think that they were lesser.
  • Everything you’ve heard was wrong about them.
  • At the heart of it, the Goldstone Report tells the story of people who had to live through a horribly traumatic event.  You won’t be able to dismiss 1300 people being killed as people that should have died.
  • LR: Stop it Jewish people, you’re doing the wrong thing, you’re behaving in an immoral, unethical way and its wrong. Any human should be offended from what happens in Gaza and what still happens there.

Guests – Lizzy Ratner, Adam Horowitz and Philip Weiss

Lizzy Ratner a journalist here in New York City, her articles appear in many publications including The Nation and Alternet.

Adam Horowitz is an editor and journalist covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, he co-edits the blog Mondoweiss and is a founding member of Jews Against the Occupation.

Phil Weiss, founder of the blog Mondoweiss, is a longtime journalist and regular contributor to the Nation and a fellow at the Nation Institute  He’s the author of two books a political novel, Cock-A-Doodle-Doo, and American Taboo, an investigative account of a 1976 murder in the Peace Corps in the Kingdom of Tonga.

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Law and Disorder January 17, 2011


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Right-Wing Firms Train Public Servants on Terror Threats

There is a sprawling hidden world of counter-terrorism organizations growing beyond control in the United States. Twenty-four of them were created by the end of 2001, including the Office of Homeland Security and the Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Task Force. The next year, 37 more were created to track weapons of mass destruction and collect threat tips. By 2009, nearly 260 organizations were created as 854 thousand civil servants, military personnel and private contractors with top-secret security clearances monitor national security concerns. However, according to a report from the Public Research Associates, those same  concerns have bolstered a class of self-proclaimed terrorism experts who decry Islam as an evil religion of terrorists and routinely brand Muslims as primitive, vengeful, duplicitous, and belligerent people who oppress women and gays, and have values irreconcilable with “western Judeo-Christian civilization.”

In fact, when PRA discovered earlier this year that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) had contracted with Security Solutions International to con­duct a training on radical Islam, they noti­fied the Muslim American Society, ACLU, and our other advocacy partners, who used PRA’s research to compel the MBTA to cancel the agency’s training.

Chip Berlet :

  • As part of the Homeland Security Initiatives and working with the FBI in other aspects of the national security apparatus, there was a need to train thousands as part of a local state and federal counter-terrorism “experts.”
  • Some of these trainings are quite good. The problem is that there are a handful of groups that train hundreds and hundreds of local, state and federal counter-terrorism experts, with rhetoric that is basically Islamophobic.
  • In the late 1970s there was an attempt to restrain this illegal surveillance. I’d have to say right now it’s worse.
  • What used to be done illegally and covertly is now done ostensibly legally and openly and in fact proudly by both Democrats and Republicans who should be ashamed.
  • The whole strategic suspicious reporting initiative which basically is a pipeline for unverified rumor and innuendo through local police departments up through a chain of information agencies to the federal government.  We know in Europe this kind of reporting is unconstitutional and bad for society.
  • Now, everyone that was considered illegal and unconstitutional for which there were Congressional hearings and reforms under Jimmy Carter, now we do it.
  • In proper training that is actually looking for criminal activity, not people of color who wear garb that we’re scared of.  What’s going on here is untrained, badly trained officers are reporting the names of people up into a huge infrastructure of information data storage, based on bias they’ve not been trained to resist or confront within themselves.
  • We described this whole process as a platform for prejudice in a report by Tom Cincotta
  • Tom has on his wall a wall chart of all the agencies of this information reporting system and it has 150 dots so inter-connected, no one can control this.
  • I’m urging people to form broad coalitions across the political spectrum.

Guest – Chip Berlet, (senior analyst) is a veteran freelance writer and photographer who specializes in investigating right-wing social movements, apocalyptic scapegoating and conspiracism, and authoritarianism. A PRA staffer since 1982, he has written, edited and co-authored numerous articles on right-wing activity and government repression for publications as varied as the Boston Globe, the New York Times, The Progressive, The Nation, The Humanist, and the St. Louis Journalism Review.

sallyfrank cottage club princeton

Lawyers You’ll Like – Sally Frank

For our Lawyers You’ll Like series, we’re delighted to have with us attorney, activist and Drake University law professor Sally Frank.  Sally specializes in family law and domestic violence. Her activism began when she was a student at Princeton University. She filed suit against the Cottage Club, the Ivy Club and the Tiger Inn because they refused to admit her as a member based on gender. 13 years later she won the case and the three eating clubs became coed. Now Sally Frank lectures on women in law and encourages law students to be activists.

Attorney Sally Frank:

  • They (Princeton) had 13 eating clubs and 3 of them were all male.
  • I sued three of the clubs and the University, it began when I was a 19 year old junior at Princeton in 1979.
  • My problem with it was they were very important institutions on campus, they ratified discrimination. A couple of them were the most prestigious clubs, if the most prestigious people discriminated, that kinda made it ok and it radiated it back onto to the campus in other aspects of life.
  • The question was whether they were public accommodations or not.
  • When I was in 5th grade I watched Inherit The Wind five times.
  • Seeing William Kunstler and the Chicago 8 and how he supported the protesters and the rights of the people, and how Clarence Darrow did, made me want to be a people’s lawyer.  Clerk for Emily Goodman as first job out of law school. I learned so much from her, I learned how to make a record.
  • The Joint Terrorism Task Force began to investigate the peace movement in Des Moines, Iowa.
  • There was question that my email was being watched. They subpoenaed 4 peace activists to a grand jury. Drake University was subpoenaed for information on the National Lawyers Guild members.
  • After I found out about the Drake subpoena, there was a gag order on the subpoena.
  • Leading up to 2008 RNC in Minneapolis, FBI leaving cards with peace activists in Iowa. What was going on here was an intelligence gathering that we were able to stop.
  • Do not talk to the FBI, NSA, ICE. It’s very hard for people who were brought up to be polite, not to answer a question.
  • We lived in a condo on the 8th floor and Bush came to the senior citizens center next door.  We unfurled a banner from the balcony, a half hour before Bush was expected and we got a knock on the door by the secret service.
  • I checked with the ACLU and they couldn’t bust in. Exigent circumstances.
  • Most of what I do are civil cases.
  • There’s certainly more government resentment and government attitude.

Guest - Attorney Sally Frank, longtime activist and law professor at Drake University. As a lawyer and law professor, Sally Frank represents protesters, victims of discrimination and poor people in housing. In her teaching and practice, Sally has helped the disenfranchised in family law and domestic abuse cases. “This is the work of the public interest lawyer. We see the problems of the system and work with our clients and others to achieve justice for them and for society as a whole.”

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Law and Disorder January 10, 2011


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Ohio Supermax: Hunger Strike In Long Term Solitary Confinement

In an Ohio Super Max prison, 4 prisoners facing execution are confined to permanent restrictive solitary confinement. They’re on a hunger strike,  bringing attention to their requests to simply be placed on death row. What’s the difference? Death row isn’t as restrictive as permanent solitary confinement. Jules Lobel, Vice President of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh explains in detail the differences of regular prison, death row and solitary confinement conditions.

Jules is working to defend the prisoners, he says that long term, essentially permanent and very harsh solitary confinement is both cruel and unusual punishment  that violates due process requirement of annual review.  The state of Ohio has decided to keep these four in solitary confinement permanently. It’s not only in Ohio, permanent solitary confinement is becoming a problem nationally, particularly with people convicted of terrorism related offenses, including material aid to terrorism.

Jules Lobel:

Guest – Jules Lobel, through the U.S. Center for Constitutional Rights, Jules has litigated important issues regarding the application of international law in the U.S. courts. In the late 1980’s, he advised the Nicaraguan government on the development of its first democratic constitution, and has also advised the Burundi government on constitutional law issues.  Professor Lobel is editor of a text on civil rights litigation and of a collection of essays on the U.S. Constitution, A Less Than Perfect Union (Monthly Review Press, 1988). He is author of numerous articles on international law, foreign affairs, and the U.S. Constitution in publications including Yale Law Journal, Harvard International Law Journal, Cornell Law Review, and Virginia Law Review. He is a member of the American Society of International Law

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Defending Grand Jury Protesters

As many listeners know, last September in a nationally coordinated raid, the FBI targeted anti-war and Palestinian solidarity activists, raided their homes and subpoenaed them to appear before a grand jury. The 13 people all of whom were critical of US foreign policy, later withdrew and asserted their right to remain silent. But in early December of 2010 subpoenas were reissued against 4 of those targeted in the raids. Three women in Minneapolis, Tracy Molm, Anh Pham, and Sara Martin were sent reactivated subpoenas by Fitzgerald’s office and new Grand Jury dates.

We’re joined by Chicago based journalist and activist Maureen Murphy who also received a new subpoena. Maureen is managing editor at the website Electronic Intifada, though the site is not being targeted in the FBI probe. In a statement, the Electronic Intifada said, quote, “Although The Electronic Intifada itself has not been a target, we consider the grand jury investigation and all of the subpoenas to be part of a broad attack on the anti-war and Palestine solidarity movements and a threat to all of our rights.”

We are also joined by regular guest, attorney Michael Deutsch from the People’s Law Office and is working with the defense committee.

Maureen Murphy:

  • I don’t know why its happening, we do know that no crime has been identified. There’s nothing written on my subpoena that I need to bring any documents.
  • We believe that the government is subpoenaing us so that we come before a grand jury and name names, and tell them how we organize so they can further disrupt their movement. I’m one of 23 activists now who have gotten the knock at the door. My subpoena says nothing but show up, so I think this is really a fishing expedition.
  • In one home they took everything with the word Palestine on it.
  • The government has expended a lot of resources on an investigation of a group that has always worked pubicly to advocate for a more just US policy. I was visited by the FBI on December 21, 2010.
  • A national committee that has formed around the raids and subpoenas is calling for a day of action January 25, in front of federal buildings and FBI headquarters.
  • I’ve already stated that I’m not going to testify.

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Michael Deutsch:

  • In December the FBI went out with a stack of subpoenas, and wound up subpoenaing 9 additional people in the Chicago area which then makes 23.
  • These people who are subpoenaed are all active in Palestinian support work.  Arab American Action Network, Palestinian Support Group.  This next wave of subpoenas are people who are they’re trying to gather information from.
  • I’ve never in all my experience seen so many people subpoenaed to a grand jury.
  • A lot of the Palestine support work has gone on in Chicago.
  • Originally 14 people were subpoenaed and each one through their lawyer said they weren’t not going to voluntarily come in. Now they haven’t decided to enforce the subpoena, they said well get back to you when we decide what we’re going to do.
  • There are 23 people lined up trying to figure out what the next step of the government is.
  • These prosecutors don’t seem to know who they’re dealing with. They see the grand jury as a tool of oppression.
  • I believe that the Israeli security apparatus is involved in supplying information to the US government.
  • There’s no evidence here of any type of violence or weapons. We’re dealing with advocacy and associations.
  • Despite Holder v the Humanitarian Law Project, we believe that it’s a total violation of the First Amendment.
  • The underlying tenor is going after people because of their political ideology.

Guest – Maureen Murphy is a journalist and Palestine solidarity activist from Chicago. She spent a few years living and traveling throughout the Middle East, interning for the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq in the occupied West Bank in 2004-06 before she was denied entry and deported by the Israeli government. She also lived in Lebanon in 2007, learning about the human rights situation for Palestine refugees and the impact of U.S. foreign policy there.

Guest – Michael Deutsch, attorney with the People’s Law Office in Chicago.

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Law and Disorder January 3, 2011


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No More Deaths: Jake Ratner and Elena Stein

Hundreds of immigrants are pulled from their families and bused to Nogales, Mexico every day. The families are broken apart as deportees most of whom have been working in the US without a criminal charge, are left in limbo in this foreign city. No More Deaths, the humanitarian organization is also stationed in Nogales to provide basic first reponse aid to deportees. Many immigrants arrive in Nogales after serving months in jail.  Jake Ratner and Elena Stein volunteered with No More Deaths and witnessed the sentencing process called Operation Streamline. A system that funnels 75 immigrants every day through a mass court proceeding where they are sentenced up to 6 months in jail. Very few are allowed to explain their situation in court.

Jake Ratner / Elena Stein:

  • We were living in Patagonia, Arizona, which is near Nogales, Arizona. There’s a wall in Nogales separating the US and Mexico. The wall is about 15-20 feet high. It was built by the same company contracted to the build the wall in Israel / Palestine.
  • It’s right down the middle of the city, so there’s Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico.
  • In the morning we drive 20 minutes to Nogales Arizona. We push our way through a turnstile gate. As we walk in we pass a very long line of those waiting to come in from Mexico.
  • No More Deaths provides phone calls to recently deported people so they can have that first phone call to their families. We provide them with property recovery, items that were confiscated can be recovered to them.
  • Most the people who we come across have been living the US for a long time. Most have families living in the US.  More men than women.
  • Some people are found by being pulled over by the police with a broken tail light. They get handed to ICE and then to Border Patrol. Others will get a knock on the door, because there is belief that someone doesn’t have papers.
  • This is a new phenomena, that people living in the United States 15 – 20 years are being deported.
  • There was a campaign put on by (correction) United Farm Workers saying “Here take our jobs.” (picking tomatos) You want our jobs? Take our jobs.  They ran a 2 month campaign. No one. No one wanted those jobs.
  • One or two people a day are dying making the trek from Mexico and crossing the desert to the US. The change that we’ve seen is that more people are dying. Streamlining is the process where they take the 75 of the 300 people crossing the border everyday and put them on trial together.
  • Corrections Corporation of America wrote this law. This private company sat down with legislators and wrote of Operation Streamline.
  • They’re getting money from the tax payers to fill these jails and profit off of Mexican citizens. Operation Streamline has not proven to be a deterrent.  The Dream Act / Secure Communities.
  • I think there is a responsibility as Americans for us to first understand the realities that people are experiencing everyday as a result of actions that were taken by our country and have a responsibility after understanding it to try and do something about it.
  • We have an obligation to have good relationships with our neighbor. It’s Mexico, our neighbor.  The more we try to understand the system we’ve become part of, the more we become repulsed at our own participation.
  • Corrections sent in from a volunteer at No More Deaths, monitoring Operation Streamline: “the Border Patrol sends up to 70 (never more) of those whom they have apprehended to OS in Tucson, daily, Monday through Friday.  The majority are sentenced to “time served” (most have been held 3 or 4 days), given a permanent criminal record and deported.  Those who have been deported previously (usually between 20 and 30 people) are charged with the felony of “reentry after deportation” and are sentenced to prison for anywhere from 30 to 180 days.  The magistrates always ask the detainees if they want to say anything in court, but few ever do. “

Guest – Jake Ratner -son of co-host Michael Ratner. Jake graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. He’s traveled and studied in Cuba and Bolivia, South America.

Guest – Elena Stein – has worked with recent deportees on the Arizona-Mexico border. She graduated last year from the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked with human rights groups in the US and Central America, specifically with children.

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Lawyers You’ll Like – Azadeh Shahshahani

For our Lawyers You’ll Like series, Azadeh Shahshahani joins us.  Azadeh is the Director of the National Security /Immigrants’ Rights Project at the ACLU of Georgia. That’s a project aimed at bringing Georgia into compliance with international human rights and constitutional standards in treatment of refugee and immigrant communities. This also included immigrant detainees. She is the editor of two human rights reports one on racial profiling: “Terror and Isolation in Cobb: How Unchecked Police Power under (federal law) 287G Has Torn Families Apart and Threatened Public Safety” and “The Persistence of Racial Profiling in Gwinnett: Time for Accountability, Transparency, and an End to 287G.” Azadeh also serves as Executive Vice President and International Committee Co-chair for the National Lawyers Guild.

Azadeh Shahshahani:

  • I work on immigrants’ rights and post 9/11 security issues with the ACLU of Georgia
  • 287g turns law enforcement into immigration officials.
  • There are four counties in Georgia that have 287g. These are counties with long and documented racial discrimination. The numbers (of those picked up and processed through 287g) have gone up tremendously in one county, 2 thousand plus people in Cobb County.
  • A lot of them have ties to the community, have US citizen spouses or children.
  • Sometimes it’s not clear why people get pulled over, there’s no moving violation on the ticket.  Georgia doesn’t have an anti-racial profiling law on the books so there’s no way to hold the police accountable.
  • Detention Centers: Some are run by the government, others are run by counties, jails, then private corporations.
  • In Georgia, you have 2 operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, then you have City of Atlanta jail that rents space to ICE.
  • The Obama administration boasted that it deported 400 thousand people.
  • Lawsuit against ICE, seeking safeguards that US citizens aren’t deported and people with disabilities are afforded a measure of due process.  Georgia Detention Watch
  • Stuart Detention Center Report: 16 men per one toilet. No contact visits.
  • I came to US when I was 16. I went to law school in Michigan. After law school I knew that I wanted to do human rights work. I approached the ACLU of North Carolina and proposed a project focusing on empowerment, know your rights presentations at the mosques. Also putting together an anti-racial profiling campaign.
  • State Must Enact Anti-Profiling Laws

Guest – Azadeh Shahshahani,  the Director of the National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project at the ACLU of Georgia. The project is aimed at bringing Georgia and its localities into compliance with international human rights and constitutional standards in treatment of refugee and immigrant communities, including immigrant detainees. To that end, a variety of strategies are employed, including the development of impact litigation, legislative advocacy, providing training to attorneys, human rights documentation and the publishing of reports, public education, and coalition and movement building. The current focus areas of the project include: immigration detention, racial profiling and local enforcement of immigration laws, governmental surveillance, discrimination faced by Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities, immigrant access to higher education, and language access in the court setting.  Azadeh’s opinion pieces have appeared in print and online publications such as the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Fulton County Daily Report, and the Huffington Post.

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