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Archive for the 'Truth to Power' Category


Law and Disorder May 11, 2015


 

Updates:

  • Heidi Boghosian: Attorneys Make United Nations Urgent Appeal Request For Mumia Abu-Jamal

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FiSaraha International Film Festival

Co-host, attorney Michael Ratner recently attended the 11th FiSaraha International Film Festival in Africa’s Western Sahara Desert. He bring us up to date on the festival and the larger issue of Sahrawi refugee camps in Southwestern Algeria. He also reminds about the anniversary of the United States’ contra torture and murder of Ben Linder in Nicaragua.

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Michael Ratner,  President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York City and president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) based in Berlin. Ratner and CCR are currently the attorneys in the United States for publishers Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He was co-counsel in representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States Supreme Court, where, in June 2004, the court decided his clients have the right to test the legality of their detentions in court. Ratner is also a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of numerous books and articles, including the books Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, as well as a textbook on international human rights.

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ACLU Lawsuit To Make Catholic Groups Provide Abortions To “Illegal” Immigrants

After hearing reports that Catholic bishops are prohibiting Catholic charities from allowing undocumented immigrant teenagers in their care to access contraception and abortion services—even in cases of rape—the ACLU recently filed a lawsuit to obtain federal government records. The group seeks documents related to reproductive healthcare policy for unaccompanied immigrant children in the care of federally funded Catholic agencies, which do not believe in abortion.  Nearly 60,000 unaccompanied minors illegally crossed over from Mexico border in 2014. Approximately one third were young girls, an astonishing 80% of whom were victims of sexual assault.

The government contracts with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to care for those children until they can either reunite with a relative or face an immigration hearing. In total the Conference has received $73 million overall from the government—with $10 million allocated for the care of unaccompanied minors in 2013 alone.

The Conference has objected to a regulation proposed by the Obama administration mandating that contractors provide abortions to immigrants who have been raped. In response to the ACLU’s request, the Conference asserts that they are within their rights to exercise religious freedom while taking care of the minors.

Guest – Brigitte Amiri, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project.  Brigitte is currently litigating multiple cases, including a challenge to South Dakota’s law that requires women seeking abortion to first visit a crisis pregnancy center before obtaining an abortion, a restriction on Medicaid funding for abortion in Alaska, and a law in Texas that has forced one-third of the abortion providers to close their doors.  Brigitte is also heavily involved in the challenges to the federal contraception benefit, and was one of the coordinators for the amicus briefs in the Supreme Court.  Brigitte is an adjunct assistant professor at New York Law School, and has been an adjunct assistant professor at Hunter College.

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 Proposal To Award Chicago Police Torture Victims Reparations

Victims of police torture under former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge will share $5.5 million, receive an apology and have their story taught in school under a reparations package proposed recently. The proposal is expected to pass when the council votes on it this month.

More than 100 people who accused Burge and officers under his command of torture—from cattle-prod shockings, phone book beatings prods, and suffocation with bags until false confessions were given—over nearly two decades ending in 1991. While some have already settled for thousands or millions of dollars, the remaining dozens can each receive up to $100,000 under the proposed ordinance. More than $100 million has already been paid over the years in court-ordered judgments, settlements and legal fees. Amnesty International USA lauded the proposal, which it said was unlike anything a U.S. municipality has ever introduced.

Besides a provision that calls for teaching the Burge torture cases to 8th and 10th graders in public school history classes, the ordinance includes a formal apology from the City Council, and psychological counseling and other benefits such as free tuition at community colleges. In recognition that the torture, and in many cases wrongful convictions and lengthy prison sentences, has impacted victims and their families, the ordinance extends some benefits to victims’ children or grandchildren.

Burge, 67, was fired from the Chicago Police Department in 1993. He was never criminally charged with torture, but was convicted in 2010 of lying about torture in a civil case and served 4.5 years in federal custody. Still drawing his pension, he was released from a Florida halfway house in February.

Guest – Attorney  G. Flint Taylor, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern Law School, is a  founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago, an office which has been dedicated to litigating civil rights, police violence, government misconduct, and death penalty cases for more than 40 years

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Law and Disorder May 4, 2015


Updates:

  • Heidi Boghosian:The Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal Places Ad In New York Times – “Mumia Abu-Jamal Is Dying In Prison From Medical Neglect”

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Listen Yankee: Why Cuba Matters

As relations between the United States and Cuba are radically changing, Tom Hayden’s new book Listen Yankee! Why Cuba Matters is especially timely. It offers thoughtful analysis and insights into the efforts of intellectuals, social justice activists and politicians that helped bring about normalization efforts.

Listen Yankee is both a historical account and personal memoir of Hayden as a revolutionary student leader and SDS founder whose own early work to spur poetical change mirrored the transformation going on in Cuba. His book is based in part on conversations with Ricardo Alarcon, one of the leaders of the revolution,. UN representative and a former guest of Law and Disorder.

Guest – Tom Hayden was a leader in the student, antiwar, and civil rights protests in the 1960s. He took up the environmental cause in the 1970s, leading campaigns to shut down nuclear power plants and serving as California’s first solar energy official. He was elected to the California legislature in 1982, serving for eighteen years. He continues to write as an editor for The Nation, and has taught at many campuses from Harvard’s Institute of Politics to UCLA’s labor studies

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Baltimore and the Human Right to Resistance: Rejecting the framework of the Oppressor

Events continue to unfold within Baltimore, Maryland in response to the police murder of Freddie Gray. Today we examine how stereotypes are perpetuated of the rebels in the streets. The mainstream press, pundits and elected officials black and white call them thugs.

Guest – Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer, geo-political analyst and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. Baraka serves as the Public Intervenor for Human Rights as a member of the Green Shadow Cabinet and coordinates the International Affairs Committee of the Black Left Unity Network. An Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C., Baraka’s is also a contributor to “Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence” and Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA.

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Law and Disorder April 27, 2015


Updates:

  • U.S. Continues To Not Officially Recognize Armenian Genocide On 100th Anniversary
  • Michael Ratner: Constitution and Freedom of Speech Threatened In Wake Of Anti-Boycott (BDS) Legislation In US and Israel
  • University of Southampton Cancels Conference After Government, Israel Lobby Pressure
  • Michael Ratner Exposes NY Times Article – Student Coalition at Stanford Confronts Allegations of Antisemitism
  • Michael Ratner – “Antisemitism has nothing to do with whether I’m against the practices of the Israeli state.”

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Emmett, Down in My Heart

The prize-winning play Emmett, Down in My Heart is the true story of two female characters, Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley and a white teacher, Roanne Taylor, who frame the 1955 kidnap, torture, murder of 14-year old Emmett Till in the Mississippi Delta. Roanne is haunted by her silence and confronts her need to take responsibility and speak. Mamie Till-Mobley, through outrage and grief, is transformed from a private citizen to a social-justice activist. Many consider her insistence on an open casket to be the start of the modern Civil Rights Movement. And tree months later in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks said Emmett Till was the catalyst that motivated her when she refused to move to the back of the bus.

Guest – Clare Coss, activist, writer and psychotherapist. Her publications include Lillian D.Wald: Progressive Activist which features the play and a selection of Wald’s correspondence and speeches. Her anthology of lesbian love poems, The Arc of Love (Scribner), was a Lambda Literary Award Finalist. Coss was for many years the Poetry Editor for Affilia, a journal of women and social work. She has taught at Hunter College, SUNY at Stony Brook, and is collaborating on her libretto Emmett Till, the Opera with composer Mary Watkins.

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The United States, Saudi Arabia And The War In Yemen 2015

Today we’re going to untangle the war in Yemen. You read a lot about it. There’s Iran helping the Houthis. Why is Saudi Arabia stopping the bombing? What’s the role of the United States? How did this war come about? What happened to civil society? There are no easy answers, at least if you read American newspapers. But there actually are answers.

Guest – Dr. Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he serves as coordinator of the program in Middle Eastern Studies. Recognized as one the country’s leading scholars of U.S. Middle East policy and of strategic nonviolent action, Professor Zunes serves as a senior policy analyst for the Foreign Policy in Focus project of the Institute for Policy Studies, an associate editor of Peace Review, a contributing editor of Tikkun, and co-chair of the academic advisory committee for the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

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Law and Disorder April 20, 2015


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Speaking In Turkish: Denying the Armenian Genocide

To commemorate this, the first genocide of the 20th century, Law and Disorder co-host Heidi Boghosian presents a 60-minute documentary special titled “Speaking In Turkish: Denying the Armenian Genocide.”

Around the world, April 24 marks the observance of the Armenian Genocide. On that day in 1915 the Interior Minister of the Ottoman Empire ordered the arrest and hangings of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. It was the beginning of a systematic and well-documented plan to eliminate the Armenians, who were Christian, and who had been under Ottoman rule and treated as second class citizens since the 15th century.

The unspeakable and gruesome nature of the killings—beheadings of groups of babies, dismemberments, mass burnings, mass drownings, use of toxic gas, lethal injections of morphine or injections with the blood of typhoid fever patients—render oral histories particularly difficult for survivors of the victims.

Why did this happen? Despite being deemed inferior to Turkish Muslims, the Armenian community had attained a prestigious position in the Ottoman Empire and the central authorities there grew apprehensive of their power and longing for a homeland. The concerted plan of deportation and extermination was effected, in large part, because World War I demanded the involvement and concern of potential allied countries. As the writer Grigoris Balakian wrote, the war provided the Turkish government “their sole opportunity, one unprecedented” to exploit the chaos of war in order to carry out their extermination plan.

As Armenians escaped to several countries, including the United States, a number came to New Britain, Connecticut in 1892 to work in the factories of what was then known as the hardware capital of the world. By 1940 nearly 3,000 Armenians lived there in a tight-knit community.

Pope Frances calls it a duty not to forget “the senseless slaughter” of an estimated one and a half million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks from 1915 to 1923. “Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,” the Pope said just two weeks before the 100th anniversary of the systematic implementation of a plan to exterminate the Armenian race.

Special thanks to Jennie Garabedian, Arthur Sheverdian, Ruth Swisher, Harry Mazadoorian, and Roxie Maljanian. Produced and written by Heidi Boghosian and Geoff Brady.

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Law and Disorder April 13, 2015


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: Edward Snowden Bust On Brooklyn War Memorial Replaced By Hologram

 

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Mumia Abu-Jamal Health Crisis Update

Journalist and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal continues to be in serious medical condition at SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, Pennsylvania. He has lost over 50 pounds and his body is covered with a hard, painful layer of jet-black skin that is both bloody and itchy. Last week his blood sugar registered in the mid 200s and continues to fluctuate, with doctors injecting a double shot of insulin right before he was brought out in a wheelchair to see visitors. As of that visit he had not been seen by a diabetes specialist, and there is concern that the insulin injections may result in an overdose or cause organ damage.

Mumia is so weak that when he tried to go to the infirmary’s bathroom, he could not sustain himself on his feet. He slid down to the floor and waited there, helplessly and unable to call for assistance, for 45 minutes until he was found by a doctor and another prisoner.

Support and demands for medical attention and an improved diet continue to pour in from around the globe. Two teachers delivered letters that their students had written to Mumia; one batch from a third grade class taught by Ms. Marylin Zuniga in Orange, New Jersey; the other from a group of high school students in the Philadelphia Student Union, which fights for school reform and is led by Mr. Hiram Rivera.

ACTION: Please call Secretary of Pennsylvania Corrections John E. Wetzel – 717-728-4109. Demand is that Mumia be allowed to see a team of specialist chosen by his family and supporters to assess and evaluate his condition.

Article: A Slow Death for Mumia Abu-Jamal and Thousands of Prisoners in America by Johanna Fernandez and Heidi Boghosian

Guest – Johanna Fernandez, assistant professor of history at Baruch College and an active member of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home. She received a PhD in History from Columbia University and a BA in Literature and American Civilization from Brown University. Professor Fernández teaches 20th Century U.S. History, the history of social movements, the political economy of American cities, and African-American history.

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Palestinian Refugees in Syria

In a situation the United Nations has described as “beyond inhumane,” last week an estimated 300 ISIS extremists converged on Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus after three days of fighting. Humanitarian aid has failed to reach starving residents there, even as ISIS members, many of whom appear to be Syrian, portrayed the attack as a liberation of the camp’s residents. In fact the residents –3,500 of whom are children—have been under siege and starvation tactics for two years.

Syrian forces control all entrances to the north and east of Yarmouk and have largely resisted pleas by UNRWA for parcels of food and water to be allowed in. Jaysh al-Islam, one of the main Islamist opposition groups fighting against Isis in the camp, reported to the Guardian that 80 ISIS militants had been killed in a period of two days and some of its positions had been seized. Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian camp in Syria, has been a frequent battle zone, pitting regime forces against mainstream and Islamist rebels. Approximately 16,000 residents remain in the settlement, a decrease from 200,000 prior to the war.

Most inhabitants fled to Lebanon where they now live in overcrowded refugee camps. Many are refugees for the second time, having fled what is now Israel in 1967 or 1948. Some have attempted to flee on migrant boats to Europe and Egypt.

Guest – Salim Salamah, the head of the Palestinian League for Human Rights-Syria, and a former Yarmouk resident who fled in October 2012. He’s exiled in Sweden since February 2013 – spokesperson of the Palestinian League for Human Rights/Syria, a grassroots refugee and youth-led human rights collective.

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Law and Disorder March 30, 2015


Updates:

  • FBI: If You Give Us Assata Shakur, We’ll Free The Cuban Five
  • Michael Ratner: Massive CIW March St. Petersburg, Florida 2015
  • Alliance For Fair Food

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War Tax Resistance

As April 15 draws near, some Americans engage in the practice of war tax resistance, refusing to pay some or all of their federal income tax. It’s an act of civil disobedience with a proud history in this country. Notable war tax resisters included Henry David Thoreau who refused to pay his poll tax during the Mexican-American war. In the 1960s and 70s, many Vietnam war protesters engaged in the practice, including Norman Mailer, Howard Zinn, James Baldwin and Joan Baez. While individuals refusing to pay war taxes cite the refusal as a moral imperative-even citing international law to bolster this assertion—it’s not surprising that the Internal Revenue Service considers the refusal to pay such taxes as illegal.

Ruth Benn:

  • In war tax resistance we tend to use the War Resisters League chart where your income tax money really goes and the calculations from the War Resisters League over the years have been around 50 percent.
  • About 27 percent is current military so that’s paying for the wars and its buying the weapons for the next wars and all of those things that the Pentagon does.
  • The “past military” is mainly for the debt and then the money that’s set aside for veterans.
  • The nuclear weapons program which they are increasing over the coming 10 years, modernizing weapons and modernizing delivery systems. Obama is increasing that money for the nuclear weapons. That’s in the Department of Energy.
  • We have the Department of Homeland Security. That is a lot of armed people also. The TSA, the militarization of the border. Homeland Security is giving those grants to local communities in the U.S. that are getting these military weapons.
  • We have 500 billion this year for veterans and past military. That’s only going to add up.
  • Basically, (war tax resistance) is similar to conscientious objection in terms of people who refuse to go into the military or refused the draft. So this is a refusal to have my tax dollars drafted. A refusal to pay income taxes that go into this pie of the military budget.
  • There was a particular tax put on people in WW2. A stamp that people had to buy that was on their cars that supported war.
  • (Famous tax resisters) We tend to go back to Henry David Thoreau of course with his one dollar that resulted in on the duty of civil disobedience.
  • I always say going throughout history taxes first tend to be put on people because somebody wants to fight somebody. A government wants to go to war, that’s centuries back.
  • The Vietnam War of course was the biggest time for tax resistance when it really was a strong part of the peace movement.
  • The campaign during Vietnam to resist the telephone tax. A tax that was put on and raised during Vietnam. It was put on to 10 percent just to pay for the wars.
  • People would owe 7.00 dollars in phone tax and some of them had their houses seized, some had their bicycles and cars seized.
  • Within the network of war tax resisters and I hesitate to call it a movement these days, there are people who do a whole range of things. There are people who live on a very low income which is a legal way to do it. The cut off for filing and owing taxes is around 10 thousand dollars for a single person.
  • There are people who are more adept at using credits and deductions to lower their taxable income.
  • I think in ’87 I started very consistently filing and refusing to pay. You get a lot of letters. I have files and files of collection letters, of course they add up interest and penalties.
  • Now I’m self-employed, the IRS can do things like garnish salaries. Over the years I figured out how to live in a way that makes it harder for them to collect. Not that they couldn’t make my life difficult.
  • Mostly the IRS would like to get the money than prosecute people.
  • I got active in the peace movement with the American Friends Service Committee. I’m not a Quaker myself but war tax resistance tends to known pretty well in the Quaker community.
  • Usually you’ve been active (in peace movement) for a while and then you go . . oh, I’m paying for this. I’m paying for what I’m fighting against.
  • nwtrcc.org
  • War Tax Resisters Guide – The Book.

Guest – Ruth Benn, Coordinator of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. Along with Ed Hedemann, she co-edited the fourth and fifth editions of the book “War Tax Resistance: A Guide to Withholding Your Support from the Military, published by the War Resisters League.”

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Life After Guantanamo: A Father And Son’s Story

In the weeks after September 11, 2001, the United States gave bundles of cash to Afghan war lords and the Pakistan government to assist in capturing suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters. Hundreds of men were turned over to U.S. custody often without evidence. This was an unfortunate starting point of how human lives were destroyed to as some suggest, justify an illegal war launched by the Bush Administration. Center for Constitutional Rights, senior staff attorney Pardiss Kebriaei’s Harper’s Magazine article titled Life After Guantanamo: A Father and Son’s Story traces the human toll of how her clients were wrongly imprisoned. After being picked up in Pakistan, sent back to Afghanistan, detained in Kandahar, Abdul Nasser Khantumani and his son Muhammed were interrogated by the United States and sent to Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba.

Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei:

  • I started in 2007 and it took me year to be able to go down to the base. I went to down in mid 2008, that was the first time I met Muhammad.
  • Muhammed was the son, he was a teenager and he was taken into U.S. custody. By the time I met him, he had been at Guantanamo for 6 years. 6 years without charge.
  • What I say in the piece is he started breaking down, really kind of cracking in 2005.
  • He was saying things like – I don’t care if I’m here another 5 years, another 10 years, I’m never getting out.
  • He’d been held in solitary confinement for 2 years at that point, and there was this additional aspect of the way his relationship with his father was used to traumatize him.
  • They were captured together, transferred to Guantanamo together but then, pretty much held apart in prison.
  • In November of 2008 we met then in December he cut his wrists.
  • He doesn’t call it suicide because he didn’t want to die. He just didn’t know what to do.
  • We filed an emergency motion with the court, asking the court to move him out of solitary to get him close to his father, to do something.
  • The latest hunger strike in 2013, they denied it was happening.
  • Muhammed was young and he was really vocal and loud about his torture. I remember hearing him yell and scream.
  • Abdul Nasser, his pain was quieter. There was a different kind of pain that left a wife behind or children behind. Abdul Nassar thought a lot about the rest of his family.
  • We know that the CIA was paying millions of the dollars to the Pakistani government and Afghani war lords to profile and turn people over, basically sell them into U.S. custody.
  • They came into U.S. hands because they profiled and unilaterally deemed by President Bush and Rumsfeld to be enemy combatants without any real evidence of wrongdoing.
  • We know that happened and its not just groups like CCR saying that.
  • The way that decisions are made and people are transferred (from Guantanamo Bay Prison) is such a lottery.
  • I think Abdul Nassar appeared to be more of a burden frankly to them, because he was older and in ill health. They didn’t take him. They wanted a younger guy who they thought would be easier to resettle.
  • Part of the point of the story was to shed light on just what life is like after Guantanamo.
  • Abdul Nassar has not seen his wife since 2001. He hasn’t seen his other children since 2001. He hasn’t seen Muhammed since that day in 2009.
  • http://ccrjustice.org/reunificationafterguantanamo

Guest – Pardiss Kebriaei, Senior staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which she joined in 2007.  Her work focuses on challenging government abuses post-9/11, including in the areas of “targeted killing“ and unjust detentions at Guantanamo and in the federal system.  She is lead counsel for CCR in Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta, which seeks accountability for the killing of three American citizens in U.S. drone strikes in Yemen, and was counsel in Al-Aulaqi v. Obama, which challenged the authorization for the targeting of an American citizen placed on government “kill lists.”  She represents men currently and formerly detained at Guantanamo in their efforts for release and reintegration, and represented the families of two men who died at the base in their lawsuit for accountability, Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld.  She also represents Fahad Hashmi, who pled to material support for terrorism after years in pre-trial solitary confinement and Special Administrative Measures, in his efforts to challenge his continuing solitary confinement in a federal “supermax” prison.

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Donate now!

Is Law and Disorder important to you? Consider a tax deductible donation to the show. By making a donation, you’ll be helping Law and Disorder continue to provide the consistent high quality content on some of the most pressing legal, human rights and international issues. This radio show is now a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Law and Disorder must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

 

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Law and Disorder March 23, 2015


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Israeli Journalist Amira Hass: Israel Elections and Palestinian Refugees

Last week during Israeli elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vowed that as long as he leads the country, there will be no Palestinian state, according to the Times of Israel. How can an Israeli government afford to ignore the humanitarian crisis in Gaza while Palestinian leadership advances international legal diplomatic action against Israel? How will these recent elections effect the future of the Palestinian state, Palestinian refugees and the right of return.

Amira Hass:

  • I kept saying the right, right wing bloc is very strong it won’t change, maybe some configuration within the bloc. There wouldn’t be a real shift even into the center.
  • Netanyahu keeps saying, the left wing, the left wing, and he means the Zionist camp or Labor. Let’s make it clear, its at best center-right.
  • The Labor Party paved the way for where we are today. The Labor Party are the real experts in the colonial enterprise. All these peacekeepers  Peres, Rabin, Belin arranged a situation that leads nowhere, a status quo in favor of colonialism
  • The Palestinians gave us and gave Labor a golden opportunity in 1993 when they signed the Oslo Accords.
  • The status quo keeps changing to favor the colonialist Israel
  • They (Palestinians) accepted Israeli society, has its faults but also its things to like. They knew Israelis, they met them either at work or in prison . . . and they accepted the Israeli society. They saw it. They knew it exists. It is there, you cannot make it disappear.
  • Without the 12 years of Nazi rule, most of the jews would not have chosen to immigrate to Palestine.
  • Within the Oslo Accords, from the Palestinian side there was a potential of including these two historiographies that include the state of Israel.
  • Palestinians are not a minority in the region. Indigenous Americans were made a minority very quickly with white’s immigration.
  • The Palestinians are a majority in the region.
  • Also, the Israeli policies, we have to be very strict about this, are not genocidal policies.
  • The essence of Israeli oppression and colonialism is not about the elimination of the people, thankfully.
  • It’s almost 70 years since the state of Israel and the Palestinians as a people, they grow. They were about 2-3 millions, and now they are about 13. So, we’re not talking about genocide.
  • What Israel did very artfully and this is again credit to the main colonialist philosophy of the Labor Party, it concentrated Palestinians into their areas. You look at the map and you see the Palestinian enclaves. Before Oslo, the map that everyone had in his or her mind – the map of the West Bank was Israeli settlements scattered like spots in the W est Bank which was considered Palestinian.
  • There were all kinds of Palestinian villages and Palestinians had the freedom of movement.
  • When you look at the geography of Palestinians in Israel, they are encircled in enclaves. They are deprived of their land.
  • Israelis will not change the situation. That is true about any privileged group in the world.
  • The good thing that these elections brought us is the joint list of Arab-dominated parties.

Guest – Amira Hass, the only Israeli journalist to have spent several years living in and reporting from Gaza and the West Bank. Amira Hass writes a regular column in Ha’aretz newspaper, and is the author of Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land under Siege, and Reporting from Ramallah: An Israeli Journalist in an Occupied Land, and also The Diary of Bergen Belsen – Haymarket Books 2009.

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Jewish Voices For Peace And Students For Justice In Palestine

As the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction or BDS movement gains traction on college campuses, anti-Arab sentiment rears its head in many forms. For example, since the University of California Student Association passed a resolution recommending divestment, posters with violent images, calling Palestine solidarity activists anti-Semites and terrorists have appeared at multiple college campuses. Campuses include Drake University, DePaul, UMass Amherst, University of California, Irvine and the University of California, Los Angeles. We talk about that and also in another show of solidarity with Palestinians, the annual Jewish Voices For Peace national gathering had record attendance. Last summer’s assault on Gaza lead to a boom in JVP membership and donations, and a shift to the left among some liberal Zionists who decided to join JVP.

Alex Kane:

  • Jewish Voices For Peace will continue to grow as the situation gets worse in Israel. That’s the productive tension from this conference.
  • The Netanyahu win that you referenced is a gift to Jewish Voices For Peace and Students For Justice In Palestine and the larger Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement.
  • There’s one stream of thought that as things get worse, as Netanyahu stays in office that it exposes the true face of Israel to the world.
  • Since 2005, when hundreds of organizations within Palestinian society called for Boycott, Divestment, Sanction targeting Israel, the campus movement – Justice In Palestine has grown exponentially.
  • You have dozens of new Students For Justice In Palestine chapters cropping up, even Jewish Voices For Peace chapters on campus. They’re broadening the discourse on campus. They’re bringing up the issue of Palestinian human rights and they’re pushing for divestment resolutions.
  • Most of the resolutions are symbolic because they can’t force the universities to divest but it does lead to a push in media coverage and an increase with solidarity with Palestine.
  • The opposition has come out strongly. The opposition ranges from well-funded right wing pro-Israel groups to even the Israeli government.
  • It’s really remarkable; you have the Israeli consulate getting involved with campus politics in the U.S.
  • It’s very easy for university presidents to come out against these incredibly hateful anti-Muslim posters. On the other hand, the same university presidents are part of this larger crackdown on Palestine solidarity on campus.
  • Last year at Northwestern in Boston, they suspended their Students For Justice In Palestine chapter.
  • Benjamin Netanyahu is the greatest gift to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement.
  • The tensions between Obama and Netanhayu and the disrespect that Netanyahu has shown to the U.S. president has created some space on the left for them to get their message out that the U.S. should not be funding Israel to the tune of 3.1 billion dollars a year.
  • The U.S. doesn’t care whether the Palestinians have a state or not. I don’t think this is a huge core issue of the Obama Administration.

Guest – Alex Kane  is a freelance journalist writing for Mondoweiss and a graduate student at New York University’s Near East Studies.

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Donate now!

Is Law and Disorder important to you? Consider a tax deductible donation to the show. By making a donation, you’ll be helping Law and Disorder continue to provide the consistent high quality content on some of the most pressing legal, human rights and international issues. This radio show is now a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Law and Disorder must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

 

 

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Law and Disorder February 23, 2015


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: Palestine Not Recognized As State By U.S. Thus Allowed To Be Sued In Federal Court For Attacks on Israel
  • Michael Ratner: Why Is Obama Trying To Get An AUMF When The U.S. Is Already At War With ISIS? If Passed, The U.S. Under This Act Can Make War Everywhere
  • ICC En Vogue? – Hosts Talk About NBC Drama “Crossing Lines.”

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Pelican Bay Solitary Confinement Case Update

We bring you an update on the Pelican Bay Prison Solitary Confinement Case. As you may recall Pelican Bay Prison had more than 1000 prisoners in long term solitary confinement at 10-20 years or more. The Center for Constitutional Rights and its lead attorney Jules Lobel have been challenging this practice for a number of years since 2012. Recently, the state of California in an effort to blunt the lawsuit has transferred some of the named plaintiffs to other prisons. Their theory, once we’re rid of the plaintiffs maybe we’re rid of the lawsuit.  CCR and Jules Lobel went out to California to argue that this is not a Constitutional practice. That transferring a person from Pelican Bay to another prison in California should not blunt the lawsuit and in fact CCR we should be able to challenge solitary confinement in those prisons as well. The judge agreed and now the CCR case will not just challenge Pelican Bay Prison solitary confinement practices but those in other prisons throughout California.

Attorney Jules Lobel:

  • Because of 3 hunger strikes and our litigation the California prison officials are now instituting reforms. They realize they have to do something.
  • There are over 1000 people in solitary. When we started the case 500 people were there for over 10 years.
  • Because of the reforms they’ve made under pressure from our litigation there are now only 230. Still 230 people for over 10 years is a huge amount.
  • They’re also moving people out not only to general population prisons, but to other solitary units in other prisons. Other SHOES, its called Special Housing Unit.
  • Four of our ten plaintiffs are moving to another SHOE to a place called Tahachapi and the defendants say, they’re no longer part of your case.
  • That’s what the argument was about. The argument was about whether or not you can expand the case beyond Pelican Bay.
  • If you were at Pelican Bay and transferred to another prison, still in solitary, you’re still part of our class.
  • The judge accepted that we can expand the case, rejecting the state’s argument.
  • We bifurcated the trial so we could have a relatively quick trial on Pelican Bay. The fundamental question for Pelican Bay trial is whether keeping people for a prolonged period of time in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay is cruel and unusual punishment.
  • We also have a claim in that way that they are placed there. It violates due process.
  • These guys only get reviews every six years. So, you stay in your cell for six years and then after six years somebody comes and reviews whether you should be kept in solitary.
  • No state in the country has six years. Usually its 30 days, 90 days, six months, maybe at most a year.
  • California unlike most states puts people into solitary simply because they’re a member of a gang or associated with a gang.

Guest – Attorney Jules Lobel, 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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Architect’s Human Rights Code of Ethics Petition

In our coverage of psychologists involved with torture continuing to hold their professional licenses to practice we look at a similar concern with licensed architects who design prisons, solitary confinement cells and death chambers. Research has show that the design of a prison can influence many aspects of prisoners lives including recidivism rates. Recently, the American Institute of Architects rejected a petition to censure members who design solitary confinement cells and death chambers.

Raphael Sperry:

  • In 2013 when the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture announced that spending more than 15 days in solitary confinement was a human rights violation and we’re aware that people in the United States are routinely held in solitary for years if not decades, and that there had been dozens of supermax prisons that housed thousands of people in those conditions, specially designed for that purpose, that really tipped the scales.
  • That was really shocking to realize the same tools that architects use everyday trying to make the world a better place for people can be used to torture and kill people.
  • The question of what constitutes a torture chamber is complicated. There are many buildings that have been used to house prisoners in solitary confinement that were never designed for that purpose.
  • There are a subset of prisons that are designed for solitary confinement. They’re usually called administrated segregation units.
  • Supermax prisons are the most egregious. There’s no space for people to eat together. There are no tables with seats clustered around them even.
  • The recreation spaces that prisoners have a right to go into for an hour a day, are shrunk down to size that they’re for just one person.
  • You guys are probably familiar with ADX Prison in Florence, the Federal Supermax which is supposed to be the most secure supermax in the United States.
  • In that facility they actually have showers in every cell. The prisoners then actually don’t have to get into the hallway. They might walk by somebody elses’ cell or walk by somebody elses’ cell to get to a shower.
  • The AIA has a code of ethics for members and it already had a statement saying members should uphold human rights in all their professional responsibilities.
  • It’s not directly enforceable. If members set out to design a space intended to kill somebody or to torture them or degrade them which is a human rights violation. AIA is not prepared to take any disciplinary action to someone who does that.
  • We were asking them to simply add a rule that clarified if a member designed a space that is intended for human rights violations specifically execution and prolonged solitary confinement that it would be clear they’re in violation of the code of ethics and then AIA could take disciplinary action that include censure and expelling them from the institute.
  • The National Board of Directors gets to set the ethics code for the whole organization including all the chapters. They took in our petition. They took in all the letters of support we sent in.
  • Then they didn’t communicate with us . . they referred it to an internal group. They never let us know who was on that panel. They sent a brief letter back to me head of the ADPSR saying that they weren’t going to make the change and they were concerned about potential anti-trust violations and how hard it would to enforce.
  • Lastly, they don’t want to restrict their members from designing any particular building type. I just found that to be the worst.
  • To me if you’re going to be a professional and take on the responsibility of protecting public health, safety and welfare every time you put your pencil down then there should be limits to what you do with that specialized knowledge.
  • To us its not a political issue, its a human rights issue and they said they’re an organization that’s for human rights. It didn’t seem right to us that they should pick and choose which human rights they’re ok with and which ones they would restrict.

Guest – Raphael Sperry, president of Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR), a 32-year old independent non-profit organization. He researches the intersection of architecture and planning with human rights with a special focus on prisons and jails, and advocates for design professionals to play a larger role in supporting human rights in the built environment. He directs ADPSR’s human rights advocacy, including ADPSR’s petition urging the AIA to amend their Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct to address buildings that violate human rights. He was the first architect to receive a Soros Justice Fellowship from the Open Society Foundations, hosted jointly by the University of California at Berkeley College of Environmental Design and Berkeley Law School, in 2012. He is an active member of the AIA Academy of Architecture for Justice and a leader of its subcommittee on sustainability.He holds an M.Arch. from the Yale School of Architecture and a BA summa cum Laude from Harvard University.

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Law and Disorder February 16, 2015


photo4a Teresa_Sheehan_photo-cropped

City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan

In early December of 2014, the Supreme court agreed to hear the case City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan. The case involves San Francisco police officers who reported to a group home to transport Teresa Sheehan, who was known to be mentally ill, to mental health facility. The situation ended with police firing six shots on Sheehan. She survived and filed a lawsuit arguing that officers had a responsibility under federal law to consider her mental disability. The case is not about police criminal liability, this one is about whether police are obligated to take special precautions in using deadly force, and also in entering an individual’s home without a warrant or permission. Read Michael Avery’s observation about details of case.

Attorney Michael Avery:

  • Teresa Sheehan is a woman in her mid-fifties who was living in a group home in San Francisco, a home for people with mental disabilities.
  • Officers came to the house and ended up shooting her five times at point blank range.
  • The case raises some issues for the federal courts in which the lower courts are in disagreement, and the court (Supreme Court) took the case hoping to resolve those disagreements.
  • The police came because the social worker had become concerned with Ms Sheehan, and wanted to send her to a hospital for 72 hours of evaluation and requested the assistance of the police in transporting her to the hospital.
  • Ms. Sheehan on the other hand didn’t want to be taken to the hospital, didn’t want the social worker in her room, did not want the police in her room, she just wanted to be left alone.
  • In the course of asserting her right to be left alone, she threatened the police and the social worker with a knife.
  • The police then ended up breaking through her door. Forcing open her door and when she was standing there with the knife, they tried to pepper spray her. That didn’t seem to have much effect on her and so they shot her five times.
  • Miraculously she survived but now she’s permanently disabled and disfigured. One of the bullets entered the left side of her temple, shattered her eye socket and then exited through her mouth causing serious injuries to her jaw.
  • Officers encounter people with mental disabilities extremely frequently. In large cities and towns in the United States its estimated 1 out every 15 people that the police interact with has some form of mental illness.
  • Officers are trained to try to diffuse the incident, not to threaten the person, to ask open ended questions, to listen to what the person has to say, try to establish some rapport with the person, respect the person’s space and not crowd the person, and at the same allow the incident to go on as long as it has to in order to have a peaceful resolution.
  • Several years ago I wrote an article called Unreasonable Seizures of Unreasonable People making the point that officers ought to be held to standard that requires them to follow their own training.
  • When I saw this case was in the courts, I volunteered to provide some assistance to the lawyers in connection with the brief they were writing.
  • There are two claims in the case. One is a claim under the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which is the part that says government cannot make unreasonable searches of our home or seizures of our person and the other is a claim under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
  • In effect they discriminated against her on the basis of her disability by not following their training and not making the accommodations that they were trained to make for a mentally ill person.
  • Secondly, the argument is, when they forced open the door to her apartment and entered and used deadly force against her, they were not behaving reasonably and that again is based on the same idea it would have been reasonable to follow their training. Frankly, they just threw their training out the window.
  • Oral argument is scheduled for March 23, 2015.

Guest – Civil rights lawyer Michael Avery,  professor at Suffolk University Law School and former president of the National Lawyers Guild from 2003 to 2006. He’s also worked with the National Police Accountability Project.

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Lawyers You’ll Like: David Kairys

David Kairy began his career at the Philadelphia public defender’s office in the late 1960s. Since then, he’s been a leader in effort to fight discrimination and protect individual rights, now he’s regarded as one of the nation’s preeminent civil rights attorneys. David is a professor at the University of Temple Law School, where he teaches civil rights and constitutional law. He has written several books, including Philadelphia Freedom: Memoir of a Civil Rights Lawyer, which was published last year.

David Kairys:

  • We were of a number of young firms dedicated to civil rights and representation of progressive groups.
  • The Camden 28, caught in the act of breaking into a Camden, New Jersey draft board and destroying all of the files. This was a Catholic Left action.
  • FBI had informant in the group, who the FBI was paying on an hourly rate. The informant supplied the means to make the action happen.
  • One hundred FBI agents sat around and waited til they destroyed all the files in the office.  Many of the 28 were priests. There were more than 300 draft board raids during Vietnam.
  • Father Michael Doyle said when your government is napalming children, the place you should be is in jail.
  • Father Doyle and I strategized a way to start talking to the FBI informant Bob Hardy and eventually got an affidavit saying that the FBI manufactured this crime.
  • I filed the affidavit and it was on the front page of the New York Times.

Guest – David Kairys, Professor of Law, the first James E. Beasley Chair (2001-07), and one of the nation’s leading civil rights lawyers. He authored Philadelphia Freedom, Memoir of a Civil Rights Lawyer and With Liberty and Justice for Some and co-authored the bestselling progressive critique of the law, The Politics of Law, and authored With Liberty and Justice for Some and over 35 articles and book chapters. His columns have appeared in major periodicals, and he has been profiled in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Wall Street Journal, and Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday Magazine. Kairys’s Public Nuisance Theory.

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Law and Disorder December 29, 2014


1082119862 Photo by Pete Souza The White House

U.S. Cuban Foreign Policy Changes Strategy: Normalizing Relations

We’re joined today by attorney Michael Krinsky, a partner in the famous law firm of Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman. This the firm that almost has been from the beginning representing the government of Cuba. We speak with Michael about the dramatic reversal of policy and the recognition by the United States of the Cuban government and the eventual establishment of joint embassies. We also speak about the returning to Cuba of the three remaining anti-terrorist Cuban fighters who have been in American prisons for 16 years. Three men of the Cuban Five. That, plus we discuss the changing of the commercial relationships between the United States and Cuba.

Attorney Michael Kinsky:

  • It was an extraordinary moment. Word got around that Raul Castro was going to talk to the Cuban people on television at Noon, so everyone ran to find a television, including me.
  • I think many people expected Obama to take some minor measures to test the waters perhaps to get things moving.
  • Most people were quite surprised about the tone of his speech and what he said.
  • I happen to be at a conference of US and Cuban scholars, which were talking about US-Cuban relations, that’s where I saw President Castro’s speech. The first thing he said of course was the cuban heroes. The 3 of the remaining Cuban Five and the place broke into pandemonium. People jumped up literally hugging each other. People were crying, then they quieted down and they listened to the next thing.
  • And then when he said President Obama and I have agreed to reestablish normal diplomatic relations. There was silence. Then people half a second later absorbed and again there was a tremendous commotion.
  • People felt a sense of triumph. After 55 years of holding despite the Bay of Pigs, despite the economic blockade, despite the special period when the trade with the Soviet Union collapsed, they had held on. In the end, someone put it, the United States came to us.
  • You could see it in the streets, you could see it in the restaurants, you could see it in the offices. People were happy.
  • They were literally smiling for days afterward.
  • The embargo has been in effect for 54 years. It’s as comprehensive an embargo as this country has ever imposed, as any country has every imposed against any country.
  • It’s not simply the US saying we the United States won’t trade with Cuba. A major part of it is extra-territorial reach. The effort for Cuba to make trade with third countries difficult and impossible.
  • They can’t get US parts for their equipment.
  • They can’t use US dollars for international transactions, which is the currency of international trade.
  • Shipping to Cuba is made extremely difficult because of the US law that says if a ship goes to Cuba it can’t come to the United States for six months.
  • Everyone in Cuba lives on a daily basis what they rightfully call a blockade.
  • A blockade implies an effort to interrupt, disrupt trade between Cuba and a third country.
  • There is nothing there about Cuban products being sold in the United States. It’s all one way.
  • Cubans have developed a lot of innovative medical products that doctors are very excited about.
  • There was nothing in the announcements about regular airplane service between the two countries.
  • (Michael Ratner: The president has the authority to license almost everything, every economic transaction with Cuba at this point)?
  • Right export, import, financial transactions, loans, credits, investments, all of these things are within the president’s licensing authority.
  • The United States did not want a left wing socialist revolution to succeed in the Americas.
  • The theme publicly and internally in the US government, until about 1991, 1992 and then there was a shift. Then for the first time, the United States publicly started talking about the goal of US policy including the blockade was to change the internal character of the Cuban system. The Cuban government.
  • Civil liberties, free elections, free speech – those became for the first time the articulated goals of US policy.
  • Guantanamo Bay used to be a Naval Station for coaling, ships operated on coal then. There was a 99 year lease between a captive Cuban government and the United States.
  • I’m trying to find the right balance between a great deal of enthusiasm and not necessarily skepticism, but caution.
  • It was nice to see the State Department make reference to this, the United States has claims for the nationalization the properties of its companies in Cuba in the early days. Cuba has articulated it has much greater claims against the United States for the blockade and for acts of economic sabotage which have died actually over the years.
  • There are claims on both sides that have been articulated in the past.

Guest – Attorney Michael Krinsky, has been practicing law for forty-five years. For three decades, he has led the Firm’s representation of Cuba and other foreign governments, and their agencies and enterprises, as well as the Firm’s practice in the area of U.S. embargoes and export controls. Mr. Krinsky graduated from the University of Chicago’s College in 1965 and its Law School in 1968. After working with the American Civil Liberties Union in Newark, New Jersey, he joined the Firm in 1971.

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NYPD Unions Respond To Police Shootings, Says Protests At Fault

In the wake of the killing of two NYPD officers, a rift has widened amid police unions and the mayor of New York City. The New York City Police Benevolent Association Officers has suggested that the recent demonstrations against police misconduct and police violence have played a role in the execution style murders. To discuss the rhetoric from the police union and the tabloid media, we’re joined by attorney Jonathan Moore.

Attorney Jonathan Moore:

  • It is a critical moment here in New York City and around the country on the issue of dealing with over aggressive policing and the militarization of police, I think they go hand in hand.
  • We’ve been fighting this battle in New York for at least 15 years going back to the killing of Amadu Diallo and litigated the stop and frisk cases until the end of last year in to this year.
  • Police unions have been an absolute impediment to any reform of the police department in the city of New York over the last several years.
  • The union of that police department doesn’t reflect the membership anymore. The police department is close to being majority minority. Patrick Lynch is the vestiges of the old guard who never saw a police officer who did anything wrong.
  • The overwhelming majority of these protests have been peaceful and law abiding. They have not been about calling for the death of police officers. They’ve been about calling for fair bias-free, constitutional policing.
  • To use the death of these two officers as an attempt to stifle what as you say is growing mass movement, that hasn’t been seen in many years, is unfortunate and should be resisted.
  • I’m glad that people are out there, these are important issues.
  • The daily use of excessive force that goes on in many communities is never registered, never gathered by the police department. That’s a problem.
  • The systemic problem is a culture within the New York City police department that has adopted an us against them mentality.
  • There has to be a cultural change within the police department.
  • In 2011, the police department was doing close to 700 thousand stops and frisks a year. The fear was that if you impeded the stop and frisks in the way they were doing it. We of course they were doing it based on race, and the federal court found that.
  • Their alarmist response was if we stop doing stop and frisk, the crime rate will soar.
  • They did 50 thousand stop and frisks this year, that’s down 650 thousand. That’s because they made a change. They stopped imposing quotas on police officers.
  • By the way, on the pace of doing 50 thousand this year, and crime is still going down.
  • What does that tell you. It tells you for all these years, they were unnecessarily harassing and stopping and frisking, young black men and young Hispanic men, mostly in our communities for no good reason.
  • These unions blindly defend officers when they engage in misconduct and that hurts all police officers, all correction officers.
  • In an organization like the NYPD of 35 thousand sworn officers, there are going to be people who don’t do what they should do. They should be rooted out and removed from the police department.

Guest – Attorney Jonathan Moore, is a civil rights lawyer known for his work in the stop and frisk suit against the city and representing 3 of the 5 wrongly convicted men in the Central Park jogger case in 1989. He is now representing the family of Eric Garner, a father of six who died from a police choke hold.

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