Law and Disorder Radio

Law and Disorder October 19, 2009

Host Updates:

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Gaza Update: Code Pink Member Kitt Kittredge

Last month, the United Nations commission released the Goldstone Report, a scathing six hundred page account detailing how Israel committed war crimes against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.  South African Judge Richard Goldstone who headed the report says the Israeli Defense Force and Israeli commanders must stand trial for war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead earlier this year.   Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would never allow any Israel’s leaders or soldiers to be put on trial for war crimes. He called the Goldstone report a kangaroo court against Israel. War crimes are war crimes as many see it.

Meanwhile, living conditions in the Gaza Strip deteriorate, salt water has contaminated a large percentage of drinking water, damaging kidney function among the Palestinian children. Many who can afford it are trying to leave the region. To give us an update on the living conditions, we catch up with Code Pink member Kitt Kittredge, who has recently returned from Gaza.

Kitt Kittredge:

  • It turned my stomach to think that we were handing off a less better world to our children
  • So I thought I should step into the more active role of a concerned citizen and I found Code Pink.
  • The conditions are deteriorating, it is a place under siege as you know, I consider it a very slow, deliberate strangulation of Palestine. Because it is a slow strangulation, it doesn’t make the news as would a total annihilation
  • The biggest thing is they’re demoralized, depressed and diminished sense of hope.
  • Unemployment is up more than it was in March, and women are bearing the burden of that.
  • Goods are less available, and they are extremely expensive, Israel determines what goes in and when.
  • Less than 15 percent of what is really needed.
  • The water out of the tap is salty, the showers are cold. The salt water is coming into the wells, the desalinization plant was destroyed, and now the children are drinking the salt water, and they have severe kidney damage.
  • It was very exciting to go to Gaza in September and work with the Palestinians on the Gaza Freedom March scheduled for December 31, 2009
  • International Surge To End the Siege – GazaFreedomMarch.org

Guest – Kitt Kittredge – Code Pink member, recently returned from the Gaza Strip.

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Decriminalization of Drug Possession

Decriminalization of drug possession has now gone into effect for 150 million Latin Americans.  Earlier this month, Mexico decriminalized the possession of a small amount of all drugs and days later, the Argentine Supreme Court declared unconstitutional their own law that criminalized drug possession. Embedded in the recent legislation, Mexico’s decriminalization laws also allow for state and local authorities to arrest and prosecute drug offenders and allows them to make undercover drug buys.

“What’s happened in Mexico and now Argentina is very consistent with the broader trend in Europe and Latin America in terms of decriminalizing small amounts of drugs and promoting alternatives to incarceration and a public health approach for people struggling with drug addiction,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.  International Drup Policy Reform Conference Nov 12 – 14, 2009.

Ethan Nadelmann:

  • I think people understood that this was a good idea all along, sensible re-prioritization of police resources, treat addiction as a health issue, not a criminal issue.
  • Many people who are getting away with drug possession don’t really have a drug problem and shouldn’t be a concern of the state.
  • It doesn’t require people to be tossed into rehab regardless if whether or not they have a drug problem
  • This applies to any drug (Mexico law)
  • It’s part of that human rights, civil liberties tradition that exists in various languages in many parts of the world.
  • Two thirds of Americans say, someone who’s been picked up on possession of drugs and clearly has an addiction, should not be sent to jail,
  • More than 70 percent of the American people say that a small amount of marijuana possession should be decriminalized
  • My job is to mentor and hand off the baton to the second and third generation,
  • I look at drug policy reform as a movement for individual freedom and social justice
  • New York City, marijuana arrest capital of the world / 40,000 marijuana arrests per year / Targeting young black and brown men
  • Easy arrests, easy overtime pay, not contributing to public safety in any way even as its really screwing with hundreds and thousands of peoples lives.

Guest – Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance says that the global consensus on drug policy is changing as countries seek to counteract prison overcrowding, rise in organized crime and drug violence.

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Food Not Bombs Surveillance: Criminalizing Lawful Non-violent Protest

Since 9/11, the government has stepped up its surveillance of a range of individuals and organizations, including volunteer-based groups. After providing free vegetarian food in hundreds of communities worldwide, Food Not Bombs has found itself a part of the domestic terrorism dragnet. Co-founded by Keith McHenry and seven friends, the group is dedicated to non-violent social change, and recovers food that would otherwise be discarded to serve hot free meals to the homeless, disaster survivors, rescue workers and others.

Keith McHenry – Food Not Bombs:

  • We started out in Cambridge, MA. I was a produce worker and I was throwing out a lot of produce every morning.  It occurred to us that we could take some of that produce and give it to battered women shelters and homeless shelters.
  • We could also promote vegetarian eating and animal rights.
  • We now share vegetarian meals in a thousand cities every week. We’re in Iceland, Poland has 12 chapters.
  • I got arrested in 1988 for serving food without a permit. I ended up facing 25 to life under California’s 3 strikes law. They didn’t mind that we were feeding people, but we were making a political statement and that’s not allowed.
  • Political Statement:  Money and resources can go more toward feeding the hungry, healthcare and education. Diverting some of the money from the military to domestic human needs.
  • Anonymous people would go to the state government, or city officials in different communities and file complaints against us.
  • In Albuquerque, New Mexico, we started to get fined 500.00 a day, everyday we served, because of this anonymous complaint.
  • We found out that it was military personnel who objected to our statement.
  • In Flagstaff, Arizona, you can serve the food but you can’t have the Food Not Bombs banner and literature.
  • Last week in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, similar complaints. Turned out the anonymous tipster was the manufacturer of landmines. This was a quarter mile away from where we were sharing free meals.
  • A Lancaster health department official came by, without a thermometer to test the pH of the food, and said it was fine we were feeding people we had to get rid of the literature.
  • We’re seeing this all over, including letters from the state of New Mexico, ordering me to stop all chapters serving free food.
  • In Connecticut, I started getting emails ordering to stop all chapters.
  • I think its the federal government, Homeland Security, and the intelligence unit of Chevron Oil, have all been involved in harrasing Food Not Bombs.
  • We were first declared a terrorist organization in 1988.
  • I’ve been under intense stress for a number of years, with informants trying to force me out of Food Not Bombs.
  • I lost a couple of friends, who had committed suicide, as a result of this tension created in San Francisco, Food Not Bombs in particular.
  • When I was facing the 3 strikes case in California, there was a man who turned out to be an FBI agent, was hanging out with my wife.
  • He was hanging out at the California street bus stop, and he became friends with my wife, and ended up having an affair with her, during the time I was incarcerated and we had no idea whether I would get out of prison.
  • Everything that we were saying in our house was being monitored.
  • In one case, my home phone had become a pay phone. The Food Not Bombs hotline. To dial out, he was asked to deposit 35 cents. I would dial 611 Pacific Bell phone repair and they would tell me it was a pay phone.
  • We’ve had a huge number of informants joining Food Not Bombs.
  • When someone at a Food Not Bombs meeting is joking about violence, you have to distance yourself from that person. You don’t need to call them out and say you’re an infiltrator.

Guest – Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs.  Keith has been arrested more than 100 times for making a political statement of sharing free food in San Francisco and he has spent more than 500 nights in jail for peaceful protest.

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