Law and Disorder Radio

Archives for October, 2011

Law and Disorder October 31, 2011


  • UN Votes 186-2 To Lift Cuba Embargo – US and Israel
  • Anxiety Over Economy: Concentration Of Wealth Seen As Key Issue At A Volatile Time
  • OWS Albany Arrest Controversy

Occupy Des Moines Arrests

Police abuse of authority including excessive use of force are on the increase as more Occupy movements around the country are forced to disperse. Last week, 37 demonstrators were arrested in Des Moines, Iowa when 24 state troopers closed in on the Occupy movement there, arbitrarily enforcing curfew in a local park.  Still more people were arrested in the downtown area that same night. While capturing his friend being pepper sprayed in the face on video, and then arrested, an officer directed Justin Norman to back off the sidewalk into another area. Justin was then arrested for trespassing and interfering with official acts. The officer grabbed his camera, but other protesters were able to wrestle it away from him.

Justin Norman:

  • There’s an 11:00 PM curfew at the park that’s normally not enforced. Some of the people said they would walk their dogs in the park after 11:00 and no one cared. The Iowa State Patrol brought out about 24 state troopers.
  • I was down there doing some video taping. The protesters began to sit as the police approached.
  • The police began to be strangely brutal with some of the protesters.
  • One of the leaders of the chant was asked if would like to be arrested or go. He said he would go. As he was leaving they shoved him on the ground and cut open his knees.
  • They dragged him off to a police van anyway. Another person was shoved to the ground, the state trooper stepped on his head and struck him the face multiple times.
  • Another guy I believe is a ten year Air Force veteran, was refusing to leave the park, arms linked with another protester, in response, one of the state troopers maced him in the face.
  • I was videotaping him from the edge of the sidewalk, the state trooper told me to step back, back into the park.  I’m about 20 feet from the trooper and he’s still telling me to move back.
  • He tells me if I don’t continue to move back, I’m going to be charged with interference and trespassing.
  • They arrested me and tried to take my camera. They took the camera and I yelled out to one of my friends and ran up and tore the camera out of the troopers hands.
  • I do a demonstration against torture on a regular basis in west Des Moines.
  • People got a bit frightened by the police brutality they witnessed and they decided to apply for a permit in the park. They stayed there for about 3 days, the permit expired in 3 days.

Guest – Justin Norman, activist who has filmed police misconduct, including recent raid on OWS movement in Des Moines, Iowa.

Guantanamo Murder Case: Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld

Last week, Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Pardiss Kebriaei present oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the case of Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld. The case is a civil action filed on behalf of two men who died at Guantanamo Bay Prison in June 2006. There deaths, highly questionable and last year, four soldiers came forward with eye-witness accounts suggesting a cover up of the cause of the deaths and that they may have killed at a black site in Guantanamo.  The military has maintained that the deaths were suicides, having once famously called them “acts of asymmetrical warfare.”  Also, CCR attorneys have pointed to other documented examples of deaths and killings covered-up by the military in the recent past, including the falsification of records in the death of former football player Pat Tillman and the premeditated murders of Afghan civilians by members of the Army’s Bravo Company.  Our own Michael Ratner has recently returned from Norway after meeting with family members of one of the men.  Scott Horton article

Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei:

  • This case is on behalf of the families of 2 of the 3 who died in June 2006. They were high profile deaths, the military came out immediately and said they were suicides that the men had died from creating nooses from bed sheets and hung themselves in their room.
  • Then there were offensive remarks made by government spokespeople, they called them asymmetric warfare.
  • They saw this as an attack, the fact that these men for having taking their own lives, from having been detained without charge in solitary confinement for 4 years, as an attack on the US government.
  • They were characterized as a good PR move. These were military and Department of State spokespeople.
  • Yasir was 17, he was from Saudi Arabia, he was, almost like everyone there not charged, held for almost 4 years. He was apparently a long time hunger striker.
  • Along with the torture and solitary they were subjected to in terms of their condition, just the torture they were subjected to in general, they were forced into restraint chairs. Restrained at five points, their forehead, shoulders wrists and ankles, had a tube inserted up their nose and a liter of fluid pumped into their stomachs.
  • In 2008 from a Freedom of Information Act litigation, the government was finally compelled to produced its information, investigation into these deaths.  Supporting the claim that the deaths were suicides.
  • Our clients were really disadvantaged to find out what’s really going on. I don’t think they believed these were suicides.
  • The case was dismissed because the case raised special factors of national security and the military and foreign policy that were issues that were within the realm of political branches and basically not the business of courts to interfere in.
  • It’s not enough to criticize the administrations anymore because the courts are accepting those arguments.
  • If you’re DC, the district courts and the circuit courts in particular have been accepting those arguments.
  • In 2010, 4 soldiers stationed at Guantanamo at the time came forward with eye witness accounts and were actually on duty on the night of the deaths.
  • One of the soldiers came forward with direct evidence of a cover up of the actual cause the deaths.  They were transported to “Camp No”
  • Hickman reported hearing screams for Camp No. They reported seeing plain clothes officers sometimes going there. It was thought to be a site possibly run by the CIA or used by the CIA or Joint Special Operations Command forces of the military who are again, not accountable.
  • The disdain from the DC Circuit Court for this case and every case coming out of Guantanamo was absolutely evident from the moment I opened my mouth.

Guest – Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei, she joined the Center Constitutional Rights in July 2007. Since then, her work has focused on representing men detained at Guantánamo Bay in their habeas corpus challenges, before international human rights tribunals, in diplomatic advocacy with foreign governments to secure resettlement for men who cannot return home, and in post-release reintegration efforts. Her clients have included men from Yemen, Syria, Algeria, and Afghanistan. Her work includes seeking accountability for torture and arbitrary detention at Guantánamo.



Law and Disorder October 24, 2011



Occupy Wall St. – Think Tanks and Organizing

Like many protesters down at Liberty Plaza, Tim Weldon has been under employed for years. He’s got a Masters Degree, one in economic development and 10 years experience in international business.  He’s now part of Occupy Wall St working with the think tank group.  The first step is taking all the ideas and solutions generated from the movement and collating them into a more accessible format.

Tim Weldon:

  • The food is hit or miss, you cycle through, get in line, whatever is there at the time, that’s what you get.
  • There’s sanitation, first aid, media press, PR. The group that I’m specifically on is the think tank.
  • Similar to a lot of people, said, how do I fit in and what exactly is going on? Like most people I got down there and thought how do I fit in to where I most belong?  So, I walked around for most of the day, I got to the stage to where I thought, what I would be good at and what could fit in here.
  • Then I found some very like minded people who were thinking the same thing, to sort of create an opportunity for all of the ideas to be collected, organized and collated together. The think tank, we’re going to have four different receptacles for information.
  • One will be from the park where we’ll have discussion groups on topics. We’re trying to develop a web platform within the .
  • We’re getting all walks of life, one of the best participants was a disabled man.
  • The discussions have been so positive and energetic and we’re saying how can we take both of these ideas and forget about the established dichotomies and all this dogma that people are working with.
  • Let’s go straight to us right here, let’s create a productive use of this information where everybody is happy.
  • I found that everybody I’m working with open and wants to listen, wants to learn, the way most of the groups work is there’s no leaders. I like to draw differentiation between leaders and leadership.
  • People are coming here after they’ve been setup and more streamline or coming here to get things more streamline. Take a step back, try to envision something different.
  • Everybody seemed united around, well, they want it clean, lets get things clean.
  • People were doing what had to be done and getting things done, but there was a subtle apprehension there, what’s going to happen tomorrow? How serious is it going to be? How much are we going to have to fight, not in a physical sense but in all sort of senses for this space?
  • Most of the country can get behind the fact, whether your left or right, whatever it is, you’ve got some apprehension about what’s going on in the country right now and that’s what we’re trying to voice.
  • Holding that space is really important to the movement.
  • Maintaining that park is very important because it is the symbol.  You control us in every other aspect of our lives perhaps, but you don’t control us here.
  • I left my job last week, this to me is the movement of our generation.

Guest – Tim Weldon is from upstate New York. He quit his job to dedicate his time to help the Occupy Wall Street movement. Specifically, Tim is working with the think tank group, pulling together ideas and solutions pouring in from around the country and making them more accessible to media and others. Tim has a Master’s Degrees in economic development. He also has 10 years experience in international business.

Occupy Wall Street: Attorney Margaret Ratner-Kunstler Part 2

We continue the “know your rights”  discussion on the Occupy Wall St protests, encampments and demonstrations. Last week we talked about how the NYPD collected intelligence data from protesters.  When more than 800 people on the Brooklyn Bridge were arrested a few weeks ago,  that event was more about getting protester names and pedigree information into databases says attorney Margaret Ratner-Kunstler with the National Lawyers Guild Meanwhile students from 90 colleges and universities are protesting the price of education, being saddled with student loan debt and more. There are many aspects to knowing your rights as a demonstrator and we’ll discuss more details today with returning guest attorney Margaret Ratner Kunstler.

Attorney Margaret Ratner-Kunslter:

  • You can be anywhere to express your first amendment rights. I think occupation is a new first amendment right.
  • The occupation movement is relatively new and we haven’t really tested it in the federal courts or state courts and I think we have a good opportunity to do that.  They haven’t got people out of the park because when they threatened to do so, the number of people swelled from about 1000 to 6000.
  • I think it was a question of mass support for the demonstration that prevented the police from clearing the park.
  • Seattle was a successful protest (1999) it interfered with delegates going to the convention center and it was a very embarrassing thing for the police because it was an international conference.
  • Kettling is those big iron fences, they put people in these fenced areas to keep them separated so they can be crowd control.
  • By the time Michael and I finished this book, we were saying, oh, they’re never going to be able to demonstrate again. But lo and behold, a new form of demonstrations is upon us, and its just thrilling.
  • The police officer who pepper sprayed the young woman, lost ten vacation days.
  • That was the immediate result after Seattle, there were fusion centers. Those are centers where the FBI and local police get together and collect information.
  • Every time they hear of a demonstration, they try to prevent it, they have many ways to dissuade people from coming to demonstrations.
  • Militarization of the police: It was no longer a family occupation to protest against the war, it was a dangerous thing to do. You got stuck in a pen and you couldn’t get out.

Guest – Magaret Ratner-Kunstler, an attorney in private practice. As education director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, she originated the Movement Support Network and authored “If an Agent Knocks.” Margaret is the President of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, a foundation established in 1995 in the memory of her late husband to combat racism in the criminal justice system.



Law and Disorder October 17, 2011



Occupy Wall Street: Attorney Margaret Ratner-Kunstler

There is a North America-wide strategy to take away the right to mass protest. We’ve talked about the book Hell No: Your Right To Dissent in 21 Century America, but today we have both authors of this book in the studio, attorney Magaret Ratner Kunstler and our own co-host Michael Ratner.

In Hell No, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the country’s leading public interest law organization, offers a timely report on government attacks on dissent and protest in the United States, along with a readable and essential guide for activists, teachers, grandmothers, and anyone else who wants to oppose government policies and actions. Hell No explores the current situation of attacks upon and criminalization of dissent and protest, from the surveillance of activists to the disruption of demonstrations, from the labeling of protestors as “terrorists,” to the jailing of those the government claims are giving “material support” to its perceived enemies. Offering detailed, hands-on advice on everything from “Sneak and Peak” searches to “Can the Government Monitor My Text Messages?” and what to do “If an Agent Knocks,” Hell No lays out several key responses that every person should know in order to protect themselves from government surveillance and interference with their rights.
Attorney Margaret Ratner-Kunslter:

  • This is a time that we don’t know the return dates are because they weren’t put throught the system, they were given desk appearance tickets or summons, people arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge and elsewhere.
  • Politically what do you make of the fact that they let these people stay in the park? Perhaps Michael they had an opportunity to do something about it if they did something quickly.
  • In Boston, they closed it down much more quickly. Each Lawyers Guild office has a hotline.
  • They (the NYPD) actually led people down to the bridge walkway. There’s a law in New York that says you can’t block roadways, but you can march on sidewalks.
  • They led people down to the roadway, then announced with a bull horn that not everybody could hear of the more than 800 people on the bridge – – you’re now doing something illegally and we’re going to disperse immediately or we’re going to arrest you. Most people were chanting, nobody could hear that announcement.
  • Why do this? There was no place to put these 800 people. To get their names, to get their pedigree information, to do intelligence work.
  • Early on with the RNC arrests, they had a sheet of paper asking what political affiliations they had. We stopped that quickly. The police department in New York City has a tremendous intelligence division.
  • Some people we have no idea why they were arrested.
  • Yesterday morning a young woman was chalking on the sidewalk, “good morning NYPD.” Not only was she arrested, but the people photographing her arrest, were arrested.
  • Much of the planning on how to stop demonstrators, happened after Seattle 1999. At that point there was this training program that began with all of these local police forces across the country and the FBI.  It wasn’t til 9/11 that they were fully funded.
  • When Michael Ratner and I wrote this, we were totally depressed because we thought that demonstrations were over. There were so many ways of preventing demonstrations and people were penned.
  • You can film the police in NYC. The law may be on your side, but the police don’t follow the law.
  • If you’re recording audio, and only one party knows you’re recording, that’s ok in New York.
  • The cop doesn’t have to give you his name, or badge number. If you ask a cop his badge number, he’ll give you the wrong number.
  • I’d like to last through winter, I’m worried about these children.  The demand for justice and equality is the demand basically all over the world.
  • How can we say this is too abstract for us, isn’t this what we all want?

Guest – Magaret Ratner-Kunstler, an attorney in private practice. As education director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, she originated the Movement Support Network and authored “If an Agent Knocks.” Margaret is the President of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, a foundation established in 1995 in the memory of her late husband to combat racism in the criminal justice system.


Law and Disorder October 10, 2011


Saul Landau – Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up

We welcome back internationally known scholar and film maker, Saul Landau. We talk with Saul about his recent article, A Judge Grants Dubious Probation and his film, Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up? In his article, Saul writes about the release of Cuban Five member Rene Gonzalez who was released on parole in Miami for 3 years. Miami isn’t a good place for an admitted Cuban agent, Saul writes, and he’s a man who infiltrated the anti-Castro Brothers to the Rescue; his life would be in danger from Cuban exile terrorist groups.  Earlier this year, Gonzalez had asked the court to allow him to return to Cuba where his family lives.  As many listeners may remember the Cuban Five are five Cuban men who are in U.S. prison, serving four life sentences and 75 years collectively after being wrongly convicted in U.S. federal court. They were accused of committing espionage conspiracy against the United States.

Saul Landau:

  • The classification of terrorist fall into 3 categories.  The good, the bad and the crazy.
  • The good terrorists are freedom fighters. Those are people still walking around Miami because they’ve directed their violence against Cuba, who is a bad guy.
  • Then there are the bad terrorists and of course they’re all Muslims. Then there are the other terrorists who are neither good or bad, simply crazy like the guy who did the Oklahoma City bombing and this Norwegian guy who did this massacre.
  • The idea in the film “Will The Real Terrorist Please Stand Up” is that people don’t know what the Cuban Revolution was and they don’t much about US policy. Ironically, Cuba is now showing this film in their high schools having found out their own students are ignorant about their own history.
  • Cuba had very little recourse over terrorism for decades, other than to infiltrate the groups that were planning violence against Cuba and try therefore to impede their terrorist actions.
  • The Cuban Five were looking for information that would help them stop bombings in Cuba.
  • They were spying on Cuban exile groups that were based in south Florida.
  • When the Soviets went away in 1991, Cuba had very little recourse in terms of economic survival other than tourism. As she began to get her tourism revved up, so to did the Cuban exiles in Miami start to level their guns; deterring tourists from going.
  • Posada Carriles: We have interviews of him in the film, and of course he denies he did any of it in the New York Times.
  • He gets honored, he got the keys to Hialeah, Florida for doing things he denies he has done. If he hasn’t done all these things, why would they honor him?
  • Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch hired two Venezuelans to plant bombs in an airplane bathroom, which would go off after the two bombers left the plane.
  • The Venezuelans confessed they were hired by Posada and Orlando. The Venezuelan police arrested them. They both got out for weird reasons. Posada escaped with the help of a 50 thousand dollar bribe to the warden of the prison.
  • When Posada got out he went to work for Col. Oliver North. His next job was financed by the Cuban American National Foundation, which was the heart of the anti-Castro lobby. Orlando Bosch died after getting honored at the University of Miami.  Orlando Bosch was pardoned by George HW Bush.
  • Rene Gonzales: Essentially she’s put a bulls eye on his chest.
  • After the United States assassinates a U.S. citizen abroad because it is said he planning terrorist acts against the United States. Under that precedent would Cuba not have the same right to send assassins into Miami and gun a whole bunch of people who are Cuban citizens in the United States who are plotting against Cuba?
  • People can screen the film at

Guest – Saul Landau, a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies at the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, has produced more than 40 films in his career, most concerned with human rights. His latest documents 50 years of US-Cuba relations in which violent Cuban exiles–backed by the CIA–tried to dislodge Cuba’s government, and of five Cuban spies, now in US prisons, who tried to stop this US-sponsored terrorism.


Occupy Wall Street: Liberty Square, New York City

We go now to hear a wide range of voices from One Liberty Plaza at the Occupy Wall Street encampment.  During these interviews, the Occupy Wall Street movement remained a collective with people of many political persuasions.  In this early period of  austerity measures, they call themselves the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1% and claim they’re using the revolutionary Arab Spring strategy to achieve results and encourage the use of nonviolence and civil disobedience.

Our own Heidi Boghosian spoke with activists, union workers, a lawyer and many more about where the movement is going, the support for it and a focus on demands such as pushing for the redistribution of wealth from the top 1 percent of Americans.


Law and Disorder October 3, 2011



Irvine 11 Case Update

Earlier this year 11 Muslim students were arrested on charges for disrupting a speech of the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. The incident took place last year on the campus of the University of California at Irvine. The local District Attorney claims that the students had no right to disrupt the event, charging them with conspiracy to shut down the ambassador’s speech, even though he was able to complete the speech. Supporters claim that the Muslim students’ actions are protected by the first Amendment, and that are being charged for being vocal critics of Israel.

Last month, an Orange County court has found 10 Muslim students guilty of two misdemeanors. Facing up to one year in jail on multiple misdemeanor charges, they were sentenced to three years of probation, 56 hours of community service and fines. Each was convicted of one misdemeanor count of conspiring to disrupt Oren’s Feb. 8, 2010 speech and a second count for disrupting it.

Attorney Lisa Holder:

  • I knew there were some very difficult challenges in this case. The students modeled their protest after a protest that took place in Chicago.
  • There 11 students who stood up serially, one after the other, with about 3 or 4 minutes in between.
  • Each student made a short statement of protest. None of the protesters in Chicago were arrested.
  • A lot of the students who had a pro-Palestine perspective were targeted.
  • The prosecutor framed his whole case on the notion that the students shut down the First Amendment rights of the speaker.
  • This is the way they framed it at the beginning; in the statements they made to the media.
  • In terms of their framing, it makes no sense from a legal perspective.
  • The way the Bill of Rights work, is to protect individuals from the government. In terms of the First Amendment which protects free speech, the Fourth Amendment that protect against unreasonable searches and seizure.
  • It protects the individual from the government impeding on those rights.
  • An individual can’t impede or violate another individual’s First Amendment rights, only the government can do that.
  • The prosecutor should not have been allowed to argue to the jury, these students violated Mr Oren’s free speech rights.
  • These are wonderful young men, they’re very gracious people and there’s no way that the judge could lose sight of that.  It was outrageous, because really what was being prosecuted in their conspiracy charge was their First Amendment right to assemble.
  • Penal code section 403a violates the First Amendment essentially says you can’t disrupt a meeting, violates our First Amendment to free speech.


Attorney Dan Stormer:

  • Islamophobia is really taking hold.
  • I tend to believe it is Islamophobia, 9/11 hysteria, more Arab / Muslim focus than Israeli / Palestine focus.
  • The use of conspiracy in this case allowed them to get in all sorts of evidence that might not otherwise be admissible.
  • Penal Code 403 says if you upset a meeting and substantially interfere with its progress, you can be criminally prosecuted.
  • I think the statute is unconstitutional and that’s going to be a primary basis for our appeal.
  • The district attorney was calling for jail time. The D.A. attacked the judge subsequently for failing to give jail time. I think it is a severe sentence but given Orange County, and given the nature of hysteria against our clients, I’m ultimately please with the sentence.
  • The background is they actually took this to a Grand Jury, and alleged they might file a felony conspiracy and felony allegation against them.
  • Its shocking and horrifying that this prosecution went forward.

Guest – Attorney Lisa Holder, Los Angeles, criminal trial attorney since 2000. Ms Holder is a member of the California Bar, The National Lawyers Guild and the California Employment Lawyer’s Association. She is a member of the board of directors for the Southern California ACLU. In addition she is an adjunct professor at Occidental College, teaching pre-law classes. Ms. Holder graduated from New York University School of Law in 2000 after obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree at Wesleyan University.

Guest – Attorney Dan Stormer, a Civil Rights, International Human Rights and Constitutional lawyer for thirty-five years and has been recognized internationally, nationally and locally as one of the top attorneys in the United States.  A graduate of New York University School of Law and Wagner College, Stormer has lectured and published extensively and has taught law school at Hastings College of Law and Loyola Law School.  He has obtained a number of large verdicts in gender discrimination in employment, civil rights violations, and age discrimination.  He has appeared before the U. S. Supreme Court and  is currently one of the attorneys on a Guantanamo Bay case.



People Wasn’t Made to Burn – Joe Allen

People Wasn’t Made to Burn is a shocking personal story of a Mississippi Black share cropping family that faced incredible hardship and tragedy after moving to Chicago in 1947. Within the year, 4 of their infant children perished in a massive blaze in an overcrowded tenement. The father sickened with grief took justice in his own hands and shot the landlord, thought to have the set the fire. James Hickman was jailed and facing murder charges. The story takes off, author Joe Allen gives the reader an inside look into the strategy to defend Hickman in the most racist area of the country.

Joe Allen:

  • I think his story is really symbolic of a whole generation of African Americans who left the South for the North or the West to find a better life and a measure of dignity and freedom.
  • He came to Chicago and permanently settled here in 1945. He got a job in the steel industry which was very typical of African American men who came to the Midwest.
  • While you were sort of welcomed here for the hard work and labor you would give particularly to the big steel plants, finding a home was the thing which was a source of incredible frustration and humiliation.
  • Housing is the whole that Joe Hickman’s trial really revolves around.
  • The African American population really up until the second world war, was really confined to a thin sliver of land on the south side of the city (Chicago)
  • It was overcrowded, and what the banks do is try to use this limited space to make as much money as possible.
  • Kitchenette apartments, one room hovels, that didn’t have running water, no electricity, rat infested.
  • Richard Wright’s book – Native Son.
  • James Hickman would go from one end of the city to the other looking for a place and would have the door slammed in his face each time.
  • Black landlords were not very common at that time. Coleman took his money and never gave the apartment that he wanted. When James Hickman raised the issue of what happened with the money, Coleman threatened to set fire to the place.
  • On January 16, 1947, a fire breaks out, it spread so quickly that Annie Hickman, the mother and wife, and one of the eldest sons, made it out of their attic apartment and jumped to safety.
  • Because of the speed of the fire and incredible smoke, the four youngest kids, they suffocated and burned to death.
  • Six months to the day of the death of children, he confronted Coleman at his home.
  • The police acted very quickly in this case. He faced execution in the electric chair or minimum 14 years in prison.
  • They pulled together a Hickman defense committee. They organized a very broad based campaign.
  • Even though he was a man racked by grief he went out to find some measure of justice for his children when he couldn’t get that from the criminal justice system.
  • Housing is still a crucial issue for working class people.

Guest – Joe Allen, a frequent contributor to the International Socialist Review and a long-standing activist, based in Chicago.


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