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Law and Disorder December 18, 2017


 

Columbia University Protesters Charged For Disrupting Controversial Speaker

On October 10, 2017 the notorious British anti-Semite and Islamophobe Tony Robinson appeared by Skype on the Columbia university campus. He was invited by the College Republican Club.

Many Columbia University students registered for the event and protested the things he said. The protesters did not disrupt the event but rather engaged the speaker’s comments.

17 students were investigated and interrogated and charged with Columbia University rules violations for “briefly interrupting a university function“ or “ disrupting a university function or rendering it’s continuation impossible.“

Guest – Columbia Law Professor Attorney Katherine Franke about the commission’s findings and recommendations and the objections to the reports conclusions. Katherine Franke is a former executive director of the National Lawyers Guildthe and chair of the board of the Center for Constitutional  Rights.  She is the Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, and also the Faculty Director of the Public Rights/Private Conscience Project, a think tank that brings legal academic expertise to bear on the multiple contexts in which religious liberty rights are in tension with other fundamental rights to equality and liberty. Her book is titled “Wedlocked:  The Perils of Marriage Equality”.

Guest – Kayum Ahmed is a Doctoral Fellow in International and Comparative Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Adjunct Faculty member at Columbia Law School. Before joining Columbia, Kayum served as Chief Executive Officer of the South African Human Rights Commission from 2010 to 2015. During this period, he led a team of 178 colleagues to monitor, protect and promote human rights in South Africa, and oversaw the management of nearly 45,000 human rights cases.

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Immigration Defense Project: ICE Arrests Increase

Although they have yet to hunt down undocumented people in churches, hospitals, and schools, ICE is now arresting people inside of our state courthouses. Making people afraid to enter court houses is another indication of the further disintegration of democracy which has rapidly accelerated under the Trump administration.
There have been 900 incidences of ICE arresting people inside of a courthouse in America this year, 70 in New York City. Just two weeks ago in Brooklyn a rebellion of legal aid attorney’s occurred when ICE tried to arrest a client of Brooklyn Attorney Rebecca Kavanaugh‘s who was there appearing on an order of protection matter.

The persons arrested in court houses are people that are free to leave, not in jail, not held on any charges – in all kinds of court houses including where people are coming to seek protective orders in domestic violence situations, special human trafficking courts, and family courts. There has been a 900% increase in court house arrests in New York City alone this year. In response to this, there has been much organizing going on to get ICE out of the courthouses.

Guest – Andrew Wachtenheim Supervising Attorney at IDP. He works with IDP’s non-profit and pro bono partners on litigation before the federal courts and Board of Immigration Appeals, and provides technical assistance, litigation support, and training to immigration and criminal law practitioners on the immigration-criminal law intersection. Andrew came to IDP from the immigration practice at The Bronx Defenders, where he represented noncitizens in immigration-related proceedings primarily at the agency level, and consulted with noncitizen defendants and criminal and family defense attorneys about the potential immigration consequences of contacts with the criminal justice and child welfare systems. Andrew is a graduate of Wesleyan University and Fordham Law School.

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Law and Disorder December 4, 2017


Law and Disorder Editorials:

  • Jared Kushner Middle East Policy Advisor

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Free Press: New FCC Rules On Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission recently released a plan to do away with landmark regulations ensuring equal access to the Internet. They pave the way for Internet service companies to charge the public higher rates to see certain content and to even deny access to some websites.

The proposal was made by the FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, an opponent to regulation in general. Pai is the former Associate General Counsel for Verizon Communications, Inc.

The proposal is expected to be approved in mid-December. In his first year Pai, who was appointed by Donald Trump, has already eliminated numerous regulations. The agency has stripped down rules governing TV broadcasters, newspapers and telecom companies designed to protect the public interest. In addition to the net neutrality rollback, the chairman announced a plan to eliminate a rule limiting any corporation from controlling broadcasts that can reach more than 39 percent of American homes.

In a broad brushstroke, the new proposal repeals rules put in place by the Obama administration that prohibit high-speed internet service providers, or I.S.P.s, from slowing down or even stopping the delivery of websites. The Obama rules prevent companies from charging customers extra fees for high-quality streaming and other services. These former rules were drafted to preserve the principle commonly known as “net neutrality” and to prevent practices that would created tiers of access to the Internet.

The plan to repeal existing rules that were passed in 2015 would reverse a hallmark decision by the agency to consider broadband a public utility, as essential to modern lives as phones and electricity. The earlier decision created the legal foundation for the current rules and underscored the importance of high-speed internet service.

Guest – Attorney Gaurav Laroia, Policy Counsel at Free Press. Before joining Free Press, he worked at the Government Accountability Project protecting the rights of national security whistleblowers.

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The Sentencing Project

The United States of America imprisons more of its citizens both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population than any other country in the world. Only China comes close. On any given day 2,300,000 Americans are in jail or prison, 70% of them are non-white.

Former Alabama senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions wants these numbers to rise. He has instructed federal prosecutors to prosecute people for the most serious possible crime and to demand the longest possible sentence.

In the last 30 years the number of people in jail and in prison have skyrocketed by factor of five. Prosecutors are increasingly demanding life sentences without the possibility of parole. Judges have lost their discretion with the implementation of maximum minimum sentencing. The long-term impact of mass incarceration has been devastating, especially to black communities.

Attorney General Sessions has stated that there is “a dangerous permanent rise”
in violent crime, despite FBI data showing a sharp decline in the last 20 years. He has falsely charged that crime increases have been caused by immigrants and that prosecutorial policy under Obama caused crime to increase.

Guest – Marc Mauer, the Executive Director of the Sentencing Project and a central figure in the justice reform movement. The Sentencing Project is a Washington DC based research and advocacy group working to reduce the use of incarceration in the United States and to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.


Follow Heidi Boghosian on Twitter – @HeidiBoghosian

Law and Disorder October 30, 2017


 

 

Cuban US Embassy Sonic Weapons Scare

The Trump administration is considering closing the recently reopened US Embassy in Havana after several unexplained incidents that allegedly hurt American diplomats in Cuba. Some lawmakers are calling for the ouster of all Cuban diplomats from the US in addition to the 15 they’ve kicked out of the country. Its a move that would have significant diplomatic implications.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made these suggestions recently. His comments were the strongest indication yet that the US might mount a major diplomatic response, potentially jeopardizing the historic restart of relations between the Cuba and US governments. The two reopened embassies in Washington and Havana in 2015 after roughly a half-century of estrangement.

Of the 21 medically confirmed US victims, some have permanent hearing loss or concussions while others have suffered nausea, headaches and ear-ringing. Some are having problems with concentration or common word recall.

Some victims felt vibrations or heard loud sounds mysteriously audible in only parts of rooms, leading investigators to consider the possibility of a sonic attack. Others heard nothing but later developed symptoms.

The US State Department has emphasized that the US still does not know what has occurred. Cuba has denied any involvement and has said that it wants to help the US resolve the matter.

Investigators have explored the possibility of an electromagnetic weapon, or an advanced spying operation gone awry. The US has not ruled out that a third country or even a rogue faction of Cuba’s national security services may be involved.

Guest – Sandra Levinson, President and Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies. She was one of the Center’s founders in 1972. In 1991 Levinson spearheaded a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department which resulted in legalizing the importation of original Cuban art.  She is currently directing works at the Cuban Art Space, which she founded in 1999, to properly house and archive the thousands of posters, photographs and artworks which the Center has collected in the past 42 years.

Contact the Center for Cuban Studies at 212.242.0559.

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Trump in the White House: Tragedy and Farce

The great issues of our times are the return of fascism to the United States and Europe, climate change, and the stagnation of the world capitalist economy. These great issues are pressing and interconnected.

We used to think that the experience of World War II guaranteed that no politician would ever advocate the ideas of fascism.

But the election of Donald Trump a year ago has caused a serious reconsideration of fascism and it’s relationship to capitalism and to democracy.

The neoliberals paved the way for Trump. Now he and the forces aligned with him have put our democratic institutions under attack in order to protect the rule of the wealthy. The attacks include the right to vote, labor unions, public education, an independent news media, independent public universities, the privatization of much of traditional governmental functions and making it almost impossible to launch a new political party.

The election of Trump is a political development that for concrete sociological reasons allows us to see it for what it is, as a type of neo-fascism. Only by identifying the phenomena correctly can we effectively fight it.

Jack London wrote a century ago in his famous book The Iron Heel that “There is a shadow of something colossal and menacing that even now is beginning to fall across the land. Call it the shadow of an oligarchy, if you will; it is the nearest I dare approximate it. What is nature may be I refuse to imagine. But what I want to say was this: You are in a perilous position.”

Guest – John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He has written widely on political economy and has established a reputation as a major environmental sociologist. He is the author of Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature (2000), The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (with Fred Magdoff, 2009), The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth (with Brett Clark and Richard York, 2010), and The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism: An Elaboration of Marxian Political Economy (New Edition, 2014), among many others.

Law and Disorder October 16, 2017


Free Speech on College Campuses

Last week an invited lawmaker was shut down form addressing Texas Southern University after protesters stormed the room calling him a racist. House Representative Briscoe Cain was asked to speak to the Thurgood Marshall School of Law by the Federalist Society about the recent legislative special session. But as he uttered a few words, he was shut down by students and then the University’s President claimed it was an unapproved event. It’s ironic that the school is named for the Supreme Court justice known for his exemplary record of protecting First Amendment rights.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also recently spoke–uninterrupted–at Georgetown University about free speech on American college campuses. He said, “The right of free speech does not exist only to protect the ideas upon which most of us agree at a given moment in time,” and encouraged students to: “make your voices heard, [and] to defend the rights of others to do the same.” Sessions joins a bipartisan chorus of public officials expressing support for free speech in academic institutions.

This summer, Senators Bernie Sanders and Mitch McConnell condemned efforts to shut down different viewpoints at schools. And in 2015, Barack Obama more than once defended the importance of free speech on campus. “I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view,” he said at a September 2015 town hall.

The recent Sessions talk comes amid an uptick (1) in efforts to dis-invite controversial speakers of all ideological persuasions, (2) use of bias response teams to monitor unpopular speech, and (3) in unprecedented violence aimed at silencing off-campus speakers.

These are some of the findings from a recent study produced by The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The comprehensive survey on students’ attitudes about free speech measured responses to questions about hate speech, guest speakers on campus, self-expression and reactions to expression of other students.

Guest –Will Creeley, Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Advocacy at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.

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Tech Freedom on USA Liberty Act of 2017

Americans whose data is inadvertently swept up while the government monitors foreign intelligence, risk having their information used for non-national-security related purposes.

Two weeks ago draft legislation was introduced to address this, but a broad coalition of civil liberties organizations say it doesn’t go far enough. They are calling on the House to close the so-called “back-door search” loophole by requiring a warrant based on probable cause for any search of information about U.S. citizens and residents.

Similar to the USA Freedom Act of 2015, which ended the practice of bulk surveillance of American citizens under Section 215 of the 2001 PATRIOT Act, the current USA Liberty Act of 2017 would overhaul surveillance that is supposed to be limited to targets outside the U.S. but actually affects Americans. Section 702 expires at the end of December, which is why Congress is reassessing the program.

Currently, FISA surveillance is conducted under a warrant issued annually by the FISA court for a list of foreign intelligence targets. But law enforcement can access, and can use, Americans’ communications swept up in FISA surveillance with no warrant at all. This is even though U.S. persons’ communications require constitutional protections not afforded to foreigners.

The USA Liberty Act adds a warrant-like ‘probable cause’ requirement before law enforcement can search the database, but also includes a sweeping, vague exception for “foreign intelligence information” and does not stop law enforcement from using that information for criminal prosecutions. This is a glaring violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Guest – Austin Carson, Executive Director of TechFreedom joins us to talk about this legislation, and the state of surveillance generally. Tech Freedom is a non-profit, non-partisan technology think tank launched in 2011 that focuses on issues of Internet freedom and technological progress.

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Law and Disorder September 18, 2017


 

Anthropomorphic Climate Disruption

Devastation caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma have provided ample opportunity for Democrats to press Republicans on climate change — with the catastrophic storms and wild fire giving tens of millions of Americans an up-front glimpse of the types of devastation we are facing.

Oddly, there’s been little talk in the nation’s capital. Aside from a handful of outliers like Hawaiian Sen. Brian Schatz, leading Democratic politicians have been slow to use the tropical storms to denounce President Donald Trump, who has dismissed climate change as a “hoax.”

That’s a contrast from past storms like 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, when Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the disaster a sign that “climate change is a reality.” Even then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, cited the storm and climate change at the time among his reasons for endorsing Barack Obama’s reelection as president.

Democrats appear to be heeding the warnings of Trump appointees like EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who said last week that it’s “very, very insensitive to the people in Florida” to talk about climate change now.

Guest – Eleanor Stein, teaches a course called the Law of Climate Change: Domestic and Transnational at Albany Law School and SUNY Albany, in conjunction with the Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences Department at SUNY. Eleanor Stein is teaching transnational environmental law with a focus on catastrophic climate change. For ten years she served as an Administrative Law Judge at the New York State Public Service Commission in Albany, New York, where she presided over and mediated New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard proceeding, a collaboration and litigation of over 150 parties, authoring in June 2004 a comprehensive decision recommending a landmark state environmental initiative to combat global warming with incentives for renewable resource-fueled power generation.

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John Brennan Named Distinguished Fellow for Global Security At Fordham Univerity’s Law School

Labor Day brought an unwelcome surprise to students and alumni of what the Jesuits proudly call The Jesuit University in the City of New York. Fordham University’s Law School announced that it had named former CIA Director John Brennan Distinguished Fellow for Global Security.

Brennan was a senior official in the CIA during the Bush -Cheney administration. The official record shows he was knee-deep into their programs of secret offshore prisons, torture, and kidnapping.

In fact, in late November 2008, when President-elect Obama was about to appoint Brennan director of the CIA, a category-five hurricane of protest made that politically impossible. For example, the American Psychological Association publicly appealed to Obama not to appoint Brennan because of his role in torture.

So, instead, Brennan played the role of national security adviser – a role in which Obama and he worked together, meeting every Tuesday to draw up lists of who would be killed the following week by missiles from drones.

By 2008, Congress had become so inured to such things that Brennan sailed through confirmation and became CIA director for Obama’s second term.

That Fordham has succumbed to what Jesuits like Dan Berrigan call the “celebrity virus” is abundantly clear in Brennan’s appointment. Fordham is proud to claim him as a college alumnus. And without a hint of shame, its law school is also proud to give him a prestigious appointment.

Guest – Ray McGovern, an alumnus of Fordham and was a high-ranking CIA analyst for 27 years. His expertise was Russia and he had one on one briefings daily with President George Bush. He broke with the government under George W. Bush over the cooked intelligence used to rationalize America’s illegal war of aggression against Iraq and helped form the organization Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  His group issued a memorandum to President Obama which demonstrated that the Russians did not hack into the computers of the Democratic Party or Hillary Clinton and did not therefore influence the American election.  http://raymcgovern.com/

Law and Disorder July 24, 2017


 

Trump Election Fraud Investigation

Donald Trump lost last November’s election by some 3 million of the popular vote. Subsequently, he falsely asserted that between 3 and 5 million votes were cast illegally. Then in May of this year, by executive order, Trump established The Election Integrity Commission. The nominal head of the commission is Vice President Mike Pence, but the functioning head is Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who has a long history of successful voter suppression. He is running for governor on this record. Kobach was recently fined by a federal magistrate for “making patently misleading representations to the court” and “abusing the judicial process” when he lied to the judge about the content of certain papers that he shared with Trump concerning voter suppression.

Kobach is helping Trump lay the groundwork for a national voter suppression effort. His commission wrote to the 50 Secretaries of State in the U.S. asking for private information on the voters in their states. Forty-four of the 50 Secretaries of State have told Kobach that they will give him a little or no information. A leading resister, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said “at best this committee was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large scale voter suppression.”

Guest – Eliza Carney  is the senior editor at The American Prospect.  She wrote an article about Kris Kobach titled The Limits of Lying and Cheating in the June 29 issue.

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Offense Strategy For Left

The election of Donald Trump has greatly emboldened the forces on the right. We have seen lynchings, stabbings and even murder. The acquittal of murderous cops is almost routine. Deportations number in the tens of thousands. A number of left-wing professors have been suppressed. Right wing provocateurs and racist speakers have appeared on campuses. Fascists have a attempted to organize rallies in major cities.

Hard core groups such as the Klan, racist skinheads and outright fascist organizations like Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute have been growing and so have militia organizations. The Republican Party, the congressional freedom caucus, fundamentalist, FOXNews aficionados, and neocons have also seen their strength and numbers and influence increase.

How do we fight this? Should we ask the government for help? Should we confront the right? Do we need a mass movement? Do we have to present a political alternative to provide real answers to real problems?

Guest – Jon Kurinsky is a Chicago activist, he recently gave a speech on the topic of fighting the right at the Socialism 2017 conference in Chicago which had a record attendance of more than 2000 people.

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Law and Disorder June 19, 2017


Sex Trafficking Lawsuit Against Philadelphia Motel

Prosecutors have dubbed a Northeast Philadelphia motel the city’s “epicenter of human trafficking.” Recently, a lawsuit was brought against the Roosevelt Motel for the pimping of a teenage girl in one of its rooms for a period of two years. It’s the first lawsuit under a 2014 state law permitting victims of sex traffickers to sue hotels and motels where abuse occurs. The suit was filed on behalf of a 17-year-old girl known as M.B., who was sold into sexual slavery at the Northeast Philadelphia motel at age 14. The lawsuit alleges that she was prohibited from leaving and was forced to commit sex acts with approximately 1,000 men. The hotel is known by the District Attorney as the site of most trafficking investigation. The National Human Trafficking Hotline says that 7.5 thousand human trafficking cases were reported in 2016, including 151 in Pennsylvania and 193 in New Jersey. Almost three-quarters of those involve sex trafficking and nearly a third of sex-trafficking cases occurred in hotels and motels.

Guest – Attorney Nadeem Bezar of the law firm Kline & Specter in Philadelphia. His practice concentrates on medical negligence, catastrophic personal injury, and cases involving child abuse and human trafficking, sexual assault and Title IX violations on college and university campuses.

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Whistle-blower Protections: FBI Director James Comey

Nearly 20 million television viewers tuned in to hear former FBI Director James Comey testify before Congress on June 8, and explain that he recorded his conversations with President Trump because he did not trust him. Despite the Trump administration’s assertions to the contrary, most legal experts say that former FBI Director James Comey’s sharing the memos about his interactions with Donald Trump is perfectly legal. Several whistleblower attorneys are among those asserting that Comey’s handing over memos to a friend to be leaked to the press violated no laws. The information, they say, was neither classified nor secret as a matter of a federal law. And Comey revealed a matter of public interest and had a right to expose these facts anonymously.

Guest – Louis Clark, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Government Accountability Project in Washington, DC. The G.A.P. is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization. It litigates whistleblower cases, helps expose wrongdoing to the public, and promotes government and corporate accountability. For four decades, GAP has assisted more than 6,000 whistleblowers.

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Politics, Influence And Journalism: Attorney Dave Saldana

For many, the word Watergate is synonymous with political corruption. The scandal was revealed when five burglars were caught by Washington police in the Democratic National Committee’s office on Jun 17, 1972, and ended with the resignation of President Nixon in 1974. Richard Nixon was the first American president who felt compelled to resign because of the severity of the situation. The role of the press was critical in the episode, beginning with the Washington Post’s front page reporting. At first, the role of the television—with the notable exception of CBS, was scant.

The credit of responsible reporting goes largely to Washington Post editor Katherine Graham, and the Co-editor, Ben Bradlee as well as reporters Woodward and Bernstein. They covered the story at great threat to their lives and their families. The president and his staff in the White House made every possible effort to resist and downgrade the true news stories of the reporters. The Nixon staff had threatened the journalists with verbal attacks. It also created the Washington Star to counter the Washington Post and anti-government reporting. Nixon also sought the help of Federal Communication Commission to ban two TV channels in Florida. The presidential administration had devised such plans that the government officials began to avoid meeting Woodward and Bernstein.

Guest – Attorney Dave Saldana is an award-winning journalist and attorney, and longtime member of the National Lawyers Guild.

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Law and Disorder January 16, 2017


Update:

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Hacktivist Advocate

Long before news reports of Russians hacking, the Democratic National Convention dominated the news, a handful of lawyers across the nation were defending socially-minded hackers, or hacktivists, against harsh computer-related prosecutions. The term hactivism refers to persons who use computers to advance political agendas, often related to freedom of information, free speech and human rights.

Guest – Attorney Jay Leiderman, the Atlantic Magazine has called attorney Jay Leiderman the “Hacktivist’s Advocate” for his work defending individuals accused of computer-related crimes, especially those associated with Anonymous. An experienced defense attorney, Leiderman lectures nationally on a range of criminal defense issues. He is a founding member of the Whistleblower’s Defense League, formed to combat FBI and Justice Department tactics of harassment and over-prosecution to chill and silence those who engage in journalism, Internet activism or dissent.

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Attacks On Journalists, Hackers And Information Activists

In the past decade we have seen an unprecedented attack on hackers, journalists, whistleblowers, and other “information activists” who dare to let the public know what goes on within the corridors of corporate and governmental power structures.

Both sectors have launched an all-ought war on the ability of the public to access newsworthy information. Yet as this takes place, the public is being told that we no longer have a right to privacy, especially online privacy. Here to discuss trends in the laws and the often lawless acts that are used to suppress the public’s right to information and ultimately the possibility of democracy is attorney Abi Hassen.

Guest – Attorney Abi Hassen, is a consultant and cofounder of the Black Movement-Law Project. He was formerly the mass defense coordinator at the National Lawyers Guild. He has a J.D. from New York University School of Law, and an undergraduate degree in computer science from The Evergreen State College. With his extensive background in labor, political and community organizing, Abi has been active at the intersection of law, technology and organizing for social justice for more than a decade.

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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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Law and Disorder March 14, 2016


Update: Co-host Michael Smith’s Parrot Charlie Turns 25

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Green Party 2016 US Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein

Jill Stein is a physician and activist who is seeking the Green Party’s 2016 presidential nomination. She ran for the White House as the Green Party’s candidate in 2012, winning nearly half a million votes.  Stein is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School.

Her campaign website urges: It’s time to build a people’s movement to end unemployment and poverty; avert climate catastrophe; build a sustainable, just economy; and recognize the dignity and human rights of every person. The power to create this new world is not in our hopes; it’s not in our dreams — it’s in our hands.

Guest – Dr. Jill Stein, was the Green Party’s 2012 candidate for president of the United States. She is an organizer, physician, and pioneering environmental-health advocate. She has led initiatives promoting healthy communities, local green economies and the revitalization of democracy – addressing issues such as campaign finance reform, green jobs, racially-just redistricting, and the cleanup of incinerators, coal plants, and toxics. She was a principal organizer for the Global Climate Convergence for People, Planet and Peace over Profit. Dr. Jill Stein is a mother, physician, longtime teacher of internal medicine, and pioneering environmental-health advocate. She is the co-author of two widely-praised reports,  In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development, published in 2000, and Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging, published in 2009.  The first of these  has been translated into four languages and is used worldwide. The reports promote green local economies, sustainable agriculture, clean power, and freedom from toxic threats.

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Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois Reduced From Nine To Zero

Professor Robert Warrior is the departing chairman of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois. Warrior is a member of the Osage Indian tribe of Oklahoma. He was the chairman of the department that help recruit Professor Steven Salaita to the University of Illinois in 2014. Salaita gave up his tenure in Virginia and was moving to University of Illinois when he was openly critical of the Israeli bombing of Palestinians in Gaza. For this, his tenured position at the University of Illinois was revoked. In the wake of Salaita’s firing, the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois had dwindled down to zero people from the nine it had just two years ago.

Guest – Professor Robert Warrior is Director of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is Professor of American Indian Studies, English, and History. An enrolled member of the Osage Nation, he is the author of The People and the Word: Reading Native Nonfiction, American Indian Literary Nationalism (with Craig Womack and Jace Weaver), Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee (with Paul Chaat Smith) and Tribal Secrets: Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions. He is also a member of the Native Critics Collective, which published Reasoning Together, a collection of essays focused on Native literary criticism.

Members of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association selected both The People and the Word and Reasoning Together for its list of the ten most influential books in Native and Indigenous studies in the first decade of the twenty-first century. He and the coauthors of American Indian Literary Nationalism were the inaugural recipients of the Beatrice Medicine Award for Scholarly Writing from the Native American Literature Symposium, and Warriorhas also received awards from the Gustavus Myers Foundation, the NativeAmerican Journalists Association, the Church Press Association, and others.

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