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Archives for October, 2016


Law and Disorder October 31, 2016


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Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate Ajamu Baraka

Here on Law and Disorder we continue our interviews with candidates other than the two major parties. This week we talk with Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate Ajamu Baraka.

Guest – Ajamu Baraka is a longtime activist, veteran of Black Liberation Movement, Human Rights defender, Former founding director of US Human Rights Network, currently Public Intervenon for Human Rights with Green Shadow Cabinet, member of Coordinating Committee of Black Left Unity Network and Associate Fellow at IPS.  He’s on a long time board member of the Center for Constitutional  Rights and a human rights defender whose experience spans three decades of domestic and international education and activism, Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement and anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles. Black Agenda Report

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The Connecticut Four

More than ten years ago four librarians in Connecticut fought back after FBI agents handed them National Security Letters seeking library records under the PATRIOT Act, and warned them it was a criminal offense to discuss it with anyone. The letter demanded that the librarians identify patrons who had used library computers online at a specific time a year earlier. Four librarians challenged the legality of the request in a lawsuit, represented by the ACLU. A year later the government withdrew the demand for information and the gag order. The media dubbed them “the Connecticut Four.”

Recently they have reunited to draw attention to attempts by the U.S. Senate to expand the amount and kinds of information that the government may compel libraries and others to divulge. It could force librarians to give the FBI transaction records, such as email metadata, links clicked on to access other websites and the length and time of Internet search sessions.

Guest – George Christian, executive director of the Library Connection and one of the four Connecticut librarians gagged by the FBI. The four librarians, members of the Library Connection, sought help from the ACLU after the FBI demanded patron records through a National Security Letter.

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The Bronx 120

Just before 5 in the morning on April 27, 700 law enforcement officers conducted the largest gang raid in NY history in the Williamsbridge section of the North Bronx. Prosecutors used the 1970 RICO Act, and 78 young men averaging 24 years in age were arrested and indicted 120 on conspiracy charges. All are being detained collectively for 8 murders and firearms and drug charges dating back two decades. In one apartment, more than a dozen police threw flash-bang grenades and broke down the front door with assault weapons aimed at Paula Clarke and her two daughters, then forced them to crawl down their hall on all fours toward the officers.

At a press conference, police characterized the young men as “the epitome of organized crime today.” Cooperating federal agencies included the DEA, the ATF, the US attorney general, and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations. Community members question this portrayal, saying the young men were not highly organized gangsters terrorizing a community; they lacked money and weapons and were living at home with their parents.

Critics claim that applying RICO to to street gangs has racist implications. Under RICO, individuals can be found guilty by association. Despite gang-related crime accounting for less than 2 percent of city crime, two weeks after the raid, James O’Neill, now NYPD Commissioner, promised 20 more raids before July 4.

The department quadrupled its gang division by launching Operation Crew Cut in 2012. A 2014 initiative has spent over $64.6 million on surveillance cameras and singled out 15 projects as high-crime zones; at least ten of those projects have experienced police raids.

Guest – Cindy Gorn is a former teacher of Urban Studies at Hunter College and a member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee.

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Law and Disorder October 24, 2016


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Dakota Access Pipeline: Dispatch #5

The battle over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline continues. Two weeks ago the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington DC dissolved the injunction against the company which is building the pipeline. They plan to complete construction of a 1172 mile subterranean pipeline which will go from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa, and into Illinois. It is 30 inches wide and will carry 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day underneath the Missouri River and through the sacred land of Standing Rock Sioux Indian burial grounds.  Twenty-two percent of the pipeline is already completed, although the Army Corps of Engineers has placed a stay on that part of the pipeline passing through the land it controls which borders both sides of the Missouri River.  If the pipe breaks, which is common, the drinking water of some 15 million people will be imperiled. Knowing this, the government and the pipeline company changed its plans to have the pipeline pass close to the large city of Bismarck, North Dakota and instead rerouted it through Indian lands, in violation of several treaties with the Sioux Indians and international law regarding the rights of indigenous people.

Representatives of someone 180 indigenous tribes from United States of America, Canada, and Latin America and hundreds of other people, calling themselves water protectors, are camped out in North Dakota as the winter sets in to protest the pipeline construction. Last week the charge of participating in a riot was dropped by Judge John Grinsteiner against journalist Amy Goodman of the television and radio show Democracy Now! which is broadcast on nearly 1200 stations. Earlier, the charge of trespass was withdrawn against her. She had been interviewing people and her crew was filming an attack by private pipeline security with dogs biting the Native American protesters.

Guest – National Lawyers Guild Attorney Jeff Haas, recently returned from living at the North Dakota encampment with thousands of Native Americans and climate change activists who gathered in solidarity with the Standing Rock Indian tribe in North Dakota to protest the pipeline construction. Jeff Haas was a founding partner of the Peoples Law Office in Chicago. He victoriously represented the family of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party and proved that Hampton was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago Police Department. He’s also author of the book The Assassination of Fred Hampton.

Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defense – Lawyers wanting to support the Sacred Stone Camp, contact Attorney Robin Martinez –  robin.martinez@martinezlaw.net

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Gloria La Riva: United States Presidential Candidate

Here on Law and Disorder we continue our interviews with candidates other than the two major parties. This week we talk with Party for Socialism and Labor Presidential Candidate Gloria La Riva.

Guest – Gloria La Riva is a labor, community and anti­-war activist based in San Francisco, California. Born in Albuquerque, N.M., Gloria attended Brandeis University where she was active in affirmative action struggles. Gloria has been a key organizer of many mass demonstrations and other actions opposing the wars and occupation in Central America, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and elsewhere. Gloria has worked for decades to defend Cuba’s sovereignty and against the U.S. blockade. She was awarded Cuba’s Friendship Medal in 2010, approved by the Council of State, for her many years of Cuba solidarity, and is the national coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five.

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Law and Disorder October 17, 2016


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Women’s Boat To Gaza: 2016

When the Zionist settlers colonized Palestine they removed 750,000 natives in 1948 and more in the 1967.  Many Palestinians fled to Gaza where 1,900,000 people live in a 5 x 25 mile strip of land in the Mediterranean Sea south of Israel. Gaza is completely blockaded by the Israeli army, Air Force and Navy. The 25 mile stretch of land has been called the largest open air prison.  In 2012 the Israeli Army and Air Force attacked Gaza killing several thousand people, including more than 500 children and destroyed many buildings and the infrastructure of the area like hospitals, schools and the water purification plant. Because of the Israeli blockade, Gaza has yet to be rebuilt.

Ann Wright was on the boat Zaytouna-Oliva as part of the women’s boats to Gaza project. It sailed 1,715 miles from Barcelona Spain to Corsica to Sicily and on towards Gaza. However, the boat was seized by the Israeli Navy on October 5, 2016. They were in international waters 34 miles from Gaza when they were illegally apprehended by the Israeli Navy, taken to Israel, and deported. On board were 13 women from various countries whose mission was to bring hope to the people of Gaza and show they are not forgotten. Ann joins us today to talk about this courageous endeavor of hope and peace. She’s a retired Army Colonel and diplomat who resigned after the beginning of the war on Iraq.  She has since devoted herself to the peace movement.

Guest – Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserves veteran, a retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She received the State Department Award for Heroism in 1997, after helping to evacuate several thousand people during the civil war in Sierra Leone. She is most noted for having been one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Wright was also a passenger on the Challenger 1, which along with the Mavi Marmara, was part of the Gaza flotilla. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December, 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is the co-author of the book “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.” She has written frequently on rape in the military.

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Jeff Mackler : U.S. Presidential Campaign Gains Support

Law and Disorder will be broadcasting interviews with candidates other than the two major parties. We check in with Jeff Mackler who is the National Secretary of Socialist Action and their 2016 presidential candidate. Jeff Mackler is the author of 25 books and pamphlets on a range of key social, economic and political issues. He’s a lifelong anti-war and anti-racist activist and a leader of the United Anti-War Coalition.

Guest – Jeff Mackler, is the National Secretary of Socialist Action and Socialist Action’s candidate for president in 2016. Mackler is the author of some 25 books and pamphlets on a range of key social, political and economic  issues, a lifelong antiwar and anti-racist activist, a leader of the United National Antiwar Coalition and founder of the Northern California Climate Mobilization.

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Law and Disorder October 10, 2016


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Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited

In 1913,  a 29 year old New York Jew who managed a pencil factory outside of Atlanta was hauled out of his jail cell in Marietta, Georgia by a group of prominent citizens including the judge who found him guilty. He was placed standing table. A rope was tied to a tall tree and put around his neck. The judge kicked the table out from under him. Leo Frank was lynched. The case had became a national scandal with Frank being accused and found guilty of raping and murdering a 13-year-old girl, Mary Phagan, who worked at the pencil factory. Frank was sentence to death, although he was innocent, but lost his appeals all the way up to the Supreme Court. The governor of Georgia, feeling uneasy about the impending execution, commuted his sentenced to life in prison. The commutation incited the local citizens to carry out the execution themselves by breaking into Frank’s cell and taking him out for the lynching. The Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City at the southern tip of Manhattan is featuring a show on the Frank case.

Guest – Steve Oney, was educated at the University of Georgia and at Harvard, where he was a Nieman Fellow. He worked for many years as a staff writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Magazine. He has also contributed articles to many national publications, including Esquire, Playboy, Premiere, GQ and the New York Times Magazine. Oney lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Madeline Stuart. Steve is the author of The Dead Shall Rise : an acclaimed account that re-creates the entire story for the first time, from the police investigations to the gripping trial to the brutal lynching and its aftermath. Oney vividly renders Atlanta, a city enjoying newfound prosperity a half-century after the Civil War, but still rife with barely hidden prejudices and resentments. He introduces a Dickensian pageant of characters, including zealous policemen, intrepid reporters, Frank’s martyred wife, and a fiery populist who manipulated local anger at Northern newspapers that pushed for Frank’s exoneration. Combining investigative journalism and sweeping social history, this is the definitive account of one of American history’s most repellent and most fascinating moments.

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Dakota Access Pipeline: Dispatch #4

The Dakota Access Pipeline which is planned to bring dirty shale oil through North Dakota and underneath the Missouri River into the Midwest has been stalled by a powerful occupation of representatives of some 180 native American tribes and several thousand supporters who are camped out in North Dakota. The pipeline is being constructed by a Texas company. It is a $3.8 billion project financed by loans from Goldman Sachs, the Chase Manhattan Bank, UBS bank and other banks. The amount of air pollution emitted by not keeping this oil in the hole is substantial and will contribute substantially to global warming. Moreover, if the pipe breaks under the river, as these pipelines frequently do, such an incident could pollute the drinking water of up to 20 million people who depend on it.

Guest – National Lawyers Guild Attorney Jeff Haas, recently returned from living at the North Dakota encampment with thousands of Native Americans and climate change activists who gathered in solidarity with the Standing Rock Indian tribe in North Dakota to protest the pipeline construction. Jeff Haas was a founding partner of the Peoples Law Office in Chicago. He victoriously represented the family of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party and proved that Hampton was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago Police Department. He’s also author of the book The Assassination of Fred Hampton.

Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defense – Lawyers wanting to support the Sacred Stone Camp, contact Attorney Robin Martinez –  robin.martinez@martinezlaw.net

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Law and Disorder October 3, 2016


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Demand the Impossible! A Radical Manifesto

The  presidential debate held last week between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton allowed us to take a sober measure of the calamitous situation we find ourselves in 15 years after September 11, 2001. Our guest Bill Ayers just published Manifesto! Demand the Impossible. It presents a different vision from those sketched out by the candidates and the economic, political and cultural system which produced them. As Robin D. G. Kelly has written, “Bill Ayers vision for a humane future is incendiary – it incinerates old logics and illuminates new paths. If we do not end the violence of militarism, materialism, caging, dispossession, debts, want, ignorance, and global warming our very survival is impossible.”

Guest – Bill Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior Bill AyersUniversity Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago (retired), member of the executive committee of the Faculty Senate and founder of both the Small Schools Workshop and the Center for Youth and Society, taught courses in interpretive and qualitative research, oral history, creative non-fiction, urban school change, and teaching and the modern predicament.  A graduate of the University of Michigan, the Bank Street College of Education, Bennington College, and Teachers College, Columbia University, Ayers has written extensively about social justice, democracy and education, the cultural contexts of schooling, and teaching as an essentially intellectual, ethical, and political enterprise. He is a past  vice-president of the curriculum studies division of the American Educational Research Association.

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Free Puerto Rican Nationalist Oscar López Rivera 2016

A growing movement is calling for the release of 72-year-old Puerto Rican Nationalist Oscar López Rivera, who has served 34 years in prison, 12 of which have been in solitary confinement. In 1980, 11 members of FALN were arrested for a series of bomb attacks on banks, government facilities and military sites across the U.S, in protest against the US colonization of Puerto Rico. Although named a co-defendant in the case, López Rivera was not arrested until a year later, picked up during a traffic stop, and charged with seditious conspiracy, weapons possession and transporting stolen vehicles across state lines. No evidence was ever found tying López Rivera to any of the bombings, and although he was not convicted of any violent crimes, he was sentenced to 55 years in federal prison. Fifteen more years were later added to his sentence for an alleged escape attempt.

Most Puerto Ricans and human rights advocates view López Rivera with enormous respect for his work as a civil rights activist and community organizer. He is a decorated war veteran, having been awarded the Bronze Star medal during his service in the US Army. In 1999, Bill Clinton offered all FALN members, including López Rivera, conditional clemency. López Rivera declined the offer because the deal included a condition that he serve an additional 10 years in prison, and because two of his co-defendants would be left behind.  Supporters are now collecting signatures on a petition that asks Barack Obama to issue a presidential pardon that grants his immediate release.

Guests – Attorney Jan Susler from the People’s Law Office in Chicago. A longtime member of the National Lawyers Guild she has has represented Puerto Rican political prisoners for over three decades. Jan Susler joined People’s Law Office in 1982 after working for six years as a Clinical Law Professor at the legal clinic at Southern Illinois University’s School of Law, Prison Legal Aid. At the People’s Law Office she continued her litigation and advocacy work on prisoners’ rights issues and also took on representing people wrongfully imprisoned, falsely arrested, strip searched, or subjected to excessive force by police officers.

We are also joined by Alejandro Molina from the campaign to free Oscar López.

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debtorsprison Sarah Geraghty. Photo by John Disney/Daily Report.

Debtors Prison In The South

It has been nearly 200 years since this country abolished the practice of imprisoning those who fail to pay their debts. Recently, however, many impoverished persons face the modern equivalent of debtors’ prisons in the form of unfair legal practices. More and more courts are charging fees to those convicted of crimes, including fees for public defenders, prosecutors, court administration, jail operation, and probation supervision. Aggressive, and often illegal, tactics are employed to collect unpaid fines and fees, including for traffic offenses and other low-level offenses. These courts have ordered the arrest and jailing of people who lag behind in payments, without offering hearings to determine an individual’s ability to pay or to provide alternatives to payment such as community service.

The human toll of these practices is enormous. Coercive debt collection means that poor individuals may forgo the basic necessities of life in order to avoid arrest. Debtors’ prisons increase government costs and waste taxpayer money by jailing people who may never be able to pay their debts. Finally, debtors’ prisons result in racial injustice and a two-tiered system of justice in which the poor receive harsher, longer punishments for committing the same crimes as the wealthy.

Guest – Attorney Sarah Geraghty, managing attorney of the Impact Litigation Unit at the Southern Center for Human Rights.  Sarah practices in the areas of civil rights, habeas corpus, and class action litigation aimed at improving fairness and conditions in the criminal justice system.  She has litigated cases challenging inhumane prison conditions, unfair police treatment, open records law violations, denial of the right to counsel, and the incarceration of indigent persons for debt.  In 2011, Sarah received the Indigent Defense Award from the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She was listed by the Fulton County Daily Report as an “On the Rise Georgia lawyer under 40”. She received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, her M.S.W. from the University of Michigan School of Social Work, and her B.A. from Northwestern University. She is a member of the Alabama, Georgia, Illinois and New York bars.

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