Last week, EW reported on the case of Perry Patterson, who was arrested for trespassing after shouting "no" at a campaign rally featuring Vice President Dick Cheney in September 2004 (see cover story 2/9). On Feb. 14, Patterson and her attorney, Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, decided to file a civil suit against the men who forced her out of the rally. The only problem is, they're not sure yet who those men are.
Patterson testifies that after her outburst, a pair of "men in black" came up behind her, took her by the elbows and led her out of the Monaco airport hangar where the rally was staged, delivering her to Eugene police. When Patterson refused to leave the property, the police arrested her and charged her with trespassing. Municipal Court Judge Alan Leiman dismissed the case after a pre-trial hearing last fall, but city prosecutor Mark Haight appealed the ruling to the circuit court. A new hearing was scheduled for Feb. 16, but that date has been postponed.
Who were the "men in black"? Process of elimination makes the question perplexing.
"It's definitely not the Eugene police," Regan said. "Everyone agrees at this point that they are denying it." EPD Lieutenant Pete Kerns, who was the officer in charge at the event, declined to comment.
They couldn't have been Monaco representatives, Regan said, because Monaco's "person in charge" wasn't even contacted until Patterson was already outside. Monaco spokesman Craig Wanichek said that "Eugene police came and escorted her out."
Haight originally assumed that the "men in black" were Secret Service agents, but Oregon Secret Service Agent in Charge Ronald Wampole denied that claim in an interview with EW.
Wampole offered another explanation. "It may have been VP staff people who dress just like the SS, complete with ear piece," he wrote in a Feb. 6 e-mail. "They are usually the ones who would take action if someone was arrested for trespassing."
In other words, the vice president's staff may have impersonated Secret Service agents to force Patterson and other protesters out of the rally. Cheney's spokespeople declined to comment.
According to Center for Constitutional Rights Director Bill Goodman, White House staff have no legal authority to remove protesters from political events. "They are public officials and act under color of law," he wrote via e-mail. "As such they can and did violate the First Amendment."
The above is from Kera Abraham's "White House Brownshirts? Perry Patterson plans to sue the 'men in black'" (Eugene Weekly) and was noted by Portland. If you missed it, the newest spin the administration's been working on for the last few weeks is a new name to the so-called war on terror. Now one of the names being floated is "the long war." Well it does drag on. And on.
The indymedia is always based upon what members are submitting in e-mails and the theme in the e-mails this week appears to be the war on all fronts. The war on dissent, obviously, we led that with that. The war on free speech, the war on America, Bully Boy's started so many wars that it's hard to keep track of them all. (You sort of picture future historians using tables and graphs to illustrate his actions.)
But always there is the invasion/occupation of Iraq. Already this month, the official count for the American military fatalities is 32. In England, they've measured another toll. Gary notes Kim Sengupta and Terri Judd's "Iraq: the Forgotten Victims: Military under fire for 'abandoning' more than 1,000 veterans with mental problems" (The Independent via Common Dreams):
Dramatic figures have been released revealing that at least 1,333 servicemen and women - almost 1.5 per cent of those who served in the Iraq war - have returned from the Middle East with serious psychiatric problems.
The official statistics, which have been passed to The Independent, identify those who were diagnosed with mental health problems while on duty. Many Iraq veterans are now receiving little or no treatment for a variety of mental health problems.
Questions have also been raised about the level of care being given to regular soldiers, reservists and members of the TA, some of whose symptoms emerged after ending active service. Many are not included in the figure of 1,333. Many claim they have been abandoned by the military establishment.
The government figures, compiled between January 2003 and September 2005, emerged in an answer by Don Touhig, minister for veterans' affairs, in response to a question by Mark Harper MP.
Out of the 1,333 diagnosed as suffering from mental health problems, 182 have been found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder while 601 are judged to have adjustment disorder or, in laymen's terms, " combat stress".
Also highlighting Common Dreams is Cindy who notes David Michael Green's "See No Evil, Become That Evil: Supporting the War As An Act of Unpatriotic Cowardice:"
People are dying in Iraq by the tens of thousands, and that destructive project is entirely dependent on the acquiescence of the American people in allowing it to continue in their name, and financed by their tax dollars (or, more accurately, by their children's tax dollars which will be used to pay back the massive loans we are racking up in China and Japan).
No one who is a true patriot can support such a grave policy decision until they have seriously examined it. No one who really supports the troops can put them in harm’s way without studying and analyzing carefully the justification for doing so.
Anyone who does otherwise is, in fact, an unpatriotic coward.
For what could be more unpatriotic than to support a war -- the most serious decision a government can make -- without learning the facts? What could be less supportive of the troops than to allow them to go kill, to die and get maimed without being sure there is a good justification for doing so? And if the reasons for thoughtlessly sending people off to war are either laziness or fear of one's own inadequacies, what could be more despicable?
Let's note the song that's becoming a staple of these entries:
They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)
The war drags on . . . as long as we let it. As long as we see ourselves as peasants to be ruled or too ill informed to participate in our democracy. Or how about this, because quite a few are still spouting this nonsense, as long as we think we can "fix" what we broke. On the radio earlier tonight (on Pacifica), it was noted that the Iraqi government, in wake of the most recent Abu Ghraib pictures, was asking that all prisoners in US custody be turned over to the Iraqi government. But some well intentioned ones (or "well intentioned" ones) still think our government can "fix" things. As though if we just give Karen Hughes enough time to work out her spin-charms, Iraqis will forget all about the raids, the arrests, the bombings, the tag-sale on their industries and public goods . . . Elaine long ago compared this attitude to a jerk who spilled red wine on her white rug. If you missed that story, it was years ago. Elaine had her first "adult" apartment that she could furnish as she wanted and she thought the most adult thing in the world would be a white rug (white couch, white was the theme of that living room). As soon as she had the entire apartment decorated to her taste, she threw a party. As I remember the jerk, he was drunk off his rear. He was loud and annoying and staggering. At any rate, he spills not a drop of red wine but the entire glass on her carpet. The color drained from Elaine's face. I'll never forget that. I made no attempt to go over because I knew how much Elaine loved that rug (although I think it may have been carpet, check with her). The jerk insisted upon helping and was only spreading the stain (possibly because he was drunk but maybe just because he didn't know what he was doing). Elaine kept telling him to get out of her way and let her clean up the mess. (That's when I went over.) But apparently, the well intent set can't grasp that when you destroy something, people aren't waiting for you to fix it -- they just want you to go. They want you to leave.
As noted in The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Editorial: Time to Head On Home:"
There's been no shake up at the top. Bully Boy still occupies the oval office just as sure as the US occupies Iraq. Iraqis aren't children and they're not stupid. They're an advanced, educated people. They have no reason to believe that the same set of people who have had almost three years (next month marks the third year) to do something worthwhile but didn't will suddenly spring to the challenge.
Iraq had no WMD. It was not a threat to us ("mushroom cloud," Condi?). Someone lied us into war. They took us off course. It's time to get back to what America's all about and it's time to realize that drunk slurring his words and telling us he knows another bar that's still open isn't anyone we want to get a car in with. We're ready to head on home and return to the lives we should be leading. Lives that don't involve wars built on lies. Lives that don't involve trying to impose a system on a people who didn't ask for us to be there. Lives that don't involve falling for the latest Operation Happy Talk. Lives that are reality-based. Bar's closing, let's all head on home. At least the ones who still have that option, the ones who didn't give their lives to a war of choice, one that should have been avoided.
Now the well intended set needs to stop deluding themselves that Iraqis are children. Imagine that Germany, in 2003, invaded the United States because they saw Bully Boy as a terrorist threat and they stayed on that year, in 2004, in 2005 and in 2006. How would you feel? Or, if you're a right wing visiter, drop the clock back to 1998 and Germany invades to take out Bill Clinton. After three years, wouldn't you think it was past time that you were allowed to run your country and that foreign soldiers left?
And that's just on the issue of an occuyping power, that's not factoring in the damage that's been done to Iraq's hospitals, homes, lives. But still we stay, so all (on all sides) can pay the price of the Bully Boy's illegal war of choice.
And back in the United States? Well if you live in or around Austin, Texas, Howard Zinn's coming to town. That may be the only good news in this post. Freedom of expression, it takes a hit everywhere. But let's start with Ray's highlight, Nicholas Collias' "Red State, Meet Police State" (Boise Weekly):
Dwight Scarbrough's idea of political dissent is one that rubs some people the wrong way. He likes to blame his compulsion for peaceful troublemaking on his birthday: October 2, the same as Ghandi. However, a few of Scarbrough's techniques are all his own--especially when it comes to his truck.
For instance, when the Iraq War was looking imminent, not long after September 11, Dwight attached a garbage bag to the back of his truck bed. He splattered the bag and the truck with ketchup and added a sign reading, "This veteran knows that our children are worth more than a $6.95 body bag." When he drove down the freeway, the bag would inflate and appear occupied.
"That one was a little in-your-face and on-the-edge," Scarbrough recalls. "It got a lot of response."
Scarbrough wasn't always so anti-military. During the waning years of the Cold War, he even served five years on a nuclear submarine for the U.S. Navy. But now, instead of trying to stop the spread of "red" states like China and the USSR, Dwight lives in a red state--Idaho. He's the founder and head of Boise's local branch of Veterans for Peace, he leads seminars exposing military recruitment practices in schools, and he--and his truck--are fixtures at nearly every Democratic, antiwar or pro-peace event in town.
While no longer smeared with ketchup, his ride is still hard to ignore. On the back, he tapes weekly updates of the number of U.S. soldiers killed and wounded in Iraq. Beneath that, on a large, white (and also taped-on) placard: "Support our returning troops and their families when they need help: Give them this number: GI RIGHTS HOTLINE: 1-800-394-9544." On both doors, in bold capital letters: "DEATH IN IRAQ IS NOT A CAREER OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUNG AMERICANS." Taking up nearly half of the back window: "Veterans for Peace Chapter 117, Idaho." On the driver's side wheel well, also in all caps: "PERHAPS GOD BLESSES EVERY NATION, NOT JUST THE USA." And interspersed between them all, he places a variety of purchased bumper stickers and magnetic ribbons reading, among other sentiments, "Support our Troops: Bring them Home Now," "Support Diversity" and "Honor Vets, Wage Peace."
Scarbrough gets his share of negative attention--including plenty of people "flying the bald eagle," as he likes to call it--but he savors such attention. He likes to call his truck a "sociological experiment on wheels," and whether you like the message of that experiment or not, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that Scarbrough is the type of extreme voice that the First Amendment--that one about free speech--is intended to protect.
Or at least it seemed that way until last Tuesday.
What happens next? Use the link (Homeland Security comes a visiting). Homeland Security, the National Security Agency. Lots of agencies with securities in the title, not a lot of security for Americans or their liberties. Michael notes C.J. Janovy's "Caller ID: Sprint helps George W. Bush and his spies" (Kansas City Pitch Weekly):
A cold wind was blowing outside the Sprint store in Westport last week, but I couldn't wait any longer. I needed some answers, and the only way to get them was old-fashioned, man-on-the-street-type interviews.
I'd wondered about Sprint since December, when The New York Times broke the story that George W. Bush had allowed spooks from the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on people without bothering to get the warrants required by federal law. I'd been obsessing about a single line in a story the Times ran on Christmas Day: "Current and former government officials say that the security agency, as part of its domestic surveillance program, has gained the cooperation of some of the country's biggest telecommunications companies...."
The nation's biggest telecommunications companies? Did our hometown telecom giant help out the president's G-men? Did Sprint cooperate in an effort that has weirded out not just Bush haters who are calling for impeachment but also big-time Republicans such as Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter?
I put in a call to Sprint's director of public affairs, Leigh Horner, who handles media inquiries about "legislative, regulatory and issues management" from the East Coast. Sprint's Web site goes on and on about how it handles its customers' sensitive information -- like, say, when it gives it to other companies -- but doesn't say much about government spies.
You never know, after all. You won't get in trouble because you're not a terrorist and you're not blabbing on your cell phone about anything illegal. Besides, you never discuss anything remotely damaging -- nasty gossip about your brother, agony over your finances, gripes about your boss -- that might just embarrass you if it fell into the wrong hands. You have nothing to hide, right?
Sprint's Leigh Horner apparently had something to hide. Just after the first of the year, I left a message on her voice mail. I didn't hear anything, so I left a couple more messages. On January 12, I e-mailed my questions to her. I know the government spy program is all about top-secret information, and anything anyone says could compromise national security, but I figured Sprint's director of public affairs might at least give Kansas Citians the courtesy of some sort of reply. Horner's silence continued. I began to fear the worst about Sprint. Then, as of last Monday, I didn't need Leigh Horner to confirm it anymore. USA Today reported that seven anonymous telecom execs from AT&T, MCI and Sprint said that the companies were cooperating with the feds.
There actually is more good news in this entry than just Howard Zinn. There's the fact that citizens are saying no to war and no to intimidation. Zach notes Claudette Langley's "Grandmothers Offer Their Lives as Valentines' Gift" (San Francisco Bay Indymedia):
It wasn't chocolate and roses the crowd of nearly 300 came bearing to downtown Oakland Valentines' Day it was the offer to trade places with young soldiers in Iraq. Gathering outside the Army recruiting office at 2116 Broadway the mostly gray-haired women called out that they were there to enlist, so that the young people could come home from the war.
"Bring them home. Take us instead," they called out in unison.
"This is our Valentines' gift."
The noon-time demonstration organized by the Bay Area Chapter of Grandmothers for Peace drew not only the matriarchs but a bevy of supporters young and old and male, as well. With a twist on something usually found in male dominated organizations a man stood in the crowd wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with "Grandmothers for Peace - Men's Auxiliary."
"If I was Grandmother I would have one of the other shirts on," said John Ellis, from El Cerrito. The crowd many dressed in black and the traditional Valentine red, spread out for nearly a block walking slowly and carrying signs calling for an end to the war and to "Stop Mad Cowboy Disease." Passersby were handed small leaflets explaining the women's mission.
"We are grandmothers heartbroken over the enormous loss of life and limb in Iraq. We are appalled by our leaders who make war with other people's children-a war and occupation that our leaders justify with lies and deceit," their leaflet declared.
The Oakland demonstration was one of eight similar actions held around the country on the day normally reserved for romance. Marge Lasky, the Bay Area Grandmothers for Peace spokesperson said that women in New York City, Rochester and Albany New York, Tucson, Arizona, Lake Worth and Sarasota, Florida, Montpelier, Vermont and Fresno, California also headed to their local recruiting offices to enlist as a Valentine gift. Despite the crowd of potential recruits ready to rush the doors. The Oakland recruiting office was dark and the doors locked during the action.
The doors locked? Don't underestimate the power of a group of grandmothers banding together to speak out. I'll stop teasing about the Zinn item. Eddie noted Diana Welch's "Who We Are: Howard Zinn on the uses of history" (The Austin Chronicle) and the information on the conference is included before the excerpt:
On Feb. 17-19, Austin will be host to hundreds of historians and activists who will gather in UT's Thompson Conference Center to raise some serious questions, most prominently: 1) What has brought us to the war in Iraq; 2) What are we supposed to do now? Among the scholars convening in the name of informed resistance will be Rashid Khalidi, director of Columbia University's Middle East Institute and author of Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East; Andrea Smith, Native American activist and scholar and co-founder of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence; and Howard Zinn, the historian, activist, and author best known for his ground-breaking retelling of American history from the bottom up, A People's History of the United States. The veteran of both World War II and the fight for civil rights talked with the Chronicle from his home in Massachusetts – about the power of context, America's potential to be truly great, and the truth of human nature.
Empire, Resistance, and the War in Iraq: A Conference for Historians and Activists, Feb 17-19, UT-Austin. For a full list of speakers and a detailed schedule, see www.historiansagainstwar.org.
[. . .]
AC: Have we caught on?
HZ: Well, it takes time to break through the fog of propaganda. The power of that propaganda and the control of the media having become so close to absolute, you have to break through so many layers of falsehood before you get to the truth. Eventually people do, but it takes time. I mean, look at what's happening with the war in Iraq, and look at the 80% support for Bush when the war started and the less than 50% support now.
AC: It's a pity the time it takes.
HZ: Yeah, and the lives it takes.
AC: You said, in that speech on civil disobedience that is in your book: "The world is topsy-turvy. … The wrong people are in jail, and the wrong people are out of jail. The wrong people are in power and the wrong people are out of power." That was 1970. Now, 36 years later, what's changed?
HZ: Well, it's still true. I was thinking about that just this morning when I got the news that the St. Patrick Four were being sentenced (www.commondreams.org/views05/0317-32.htm). They are getting basically six-month sentences. It could have been worse, but the jury did not find them guilty of a felony, they found them guilty of misdemeanors. Their first trial, the jury could not come to a decision. In fact, nine out of the 12 jurors were going to acquit them. There, too, is an instance where people are befogged by what they get from the news and what they get from the authorities. This is true of these jurors who were prevented, by the judge, from hearing the context of what the defendants have done. And when the judge will not allow testimony that can tell the juries why these people committed this act of civil disobedience, then the juries will convict. But, in the first trial, where the juries were allowed to hear arguments of international law, the jury could not convict them. I saw this during the Vietnam War, I testified many times in trials of people who had committed civil disobedience. The outcome of the trial really depended on what the jury was allowed to hear by the judge. Talk about human nature: It gives you a little bit of faith in human nature to know that when people learn the truth, or when people have a chance to hear the other side, they will vote their consciences.
Grandmothers against war, historians against it, this is the people. This isn't the Bully Boy or Clear Channel orchestrating psuedo rallies, this is the people doing the people's business which is participating in their lives, not sitting back and waiting for something to happen or for someone to speak out or for the 'right time' to take to stand. And maybe that's why they lock the doors at a recuriter station or why they resort to the tactics in the highlight the Hilda notes, "The Line Has Crossed Us All: 'Aiding and Abetting' Conviction Brings Six-Month Prison Sentence against DC activist in SOA Trials" (DC Indymedia);
Thirty four peaceful protesters arrested during the November 20, 2005, vigil at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, faced trial before Federal Magistrate G. Mallon Faircloth on January 30 and 31st. All defendants were found guilty and sentenced to prison or probation. This year, prosecutors charged one activist with "Aiding and Abetting." According to the U.S. Criminal Code, "Whoever aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures the commission of an offense, is punishable as a principal."
"It seems possible that others in our movement could receive similar charges," SOA Watch Events and Outreach Coordinator Eric LeCompte commented after the convictions. "Now the government knows they can use this charge against us and the judge will give the maximum prison sentence. We sensed for some time that the government has attempted to piece together a Conspiracy case against SOA Watch, but the Aiding and Abetting charge doesn't seem to carry the burden of proof that a Conspiracy charge would carry."According to the law, "Mere encouragement or assistance is sufficient participation in the criminal act" for a defendant to be prosecuted for aiding and abetting.
Will the crackdown on liberty silence the people? Probably not. Historically not. And you're seeing groups come together to share stories and experiences as with Lyle's highlight, ChaCha's "Resisting Repression - Black Panthers and animal defenders unite to counter attacks" (Boston IMC):
Last Saturday, February 11, at a community gathering in Roxbury Community College’s cafeteria, John Bowman relived the darkest events of his life. Over a period of several days in 1973, in the custody of New Orleans police interrogators, Bowman and two other Black Panther Party members suspected in a 1971 San Francisco police shooting were subjected to severe torture, the kind of torture we are trained to associate with dictatorships or drug mafias. In separate rooms, and supervised by inspectors Ed Erdelatz and Frank McCoy of the San Francisco police department, the police stripped them and alternately beat them with batons, applied electric cattle prods to their genitals and other sensitive areas, sodomized them with the cattle prods, slammed them into walls while blindfolded, stuck needles into their bodies, threatened execution with guns to their heads, and smothered them with wool blankets soaked in boiling water. This went on for days until the police got the ‘confession’ they wanted.
The case against them was dropped some years later when the extent of the abuse became clear, and the government’s 'evidence' of confessions extracted under torture was voided. Nothing was ever done to hold the police accountable, and Bowman and the others were left to cope with the permanent physical and psychological post-traumatic scars.
Until the day in 2003 when the same two San Francisco detectives showed up at Bowman's home in Oklahoma, smiling, "Do you remember us?"
"How could I ever forget them?" Bowman asked the silent audience.
They had come out of retirement to be deputized as federal marshals, and had reopened the same case the prosecution was forced to drop 30 years back. This time the tactics were different; the government relied on grand juries to intimidate four Panther veterans into implicating each other, but they resisted and refused to cooperate, and they were all imprisoned indefinitely. However, they were finally released without indictments when the grand jury expired in November 2005, exposing the flimsiness of the government's case.
They have been touring the country since then with the help of lawyers like Soffiyah Elijah at Harvard University and community groups like the coalition which hosted them in Roxbury, in an effort to raise awareness among political activists of the tactics being used by the government to throttle popular dissent.
Their new organization, the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, is aimed at "drawing attention to the human rights abuses perpetrated by the government of the United States and law enforcement authorities, which were carried out in an attempt to destroy progressive organizations and individuals."
They have been busy building solidarity among many community groups across the country by sharing their experiences and addressing the growing climate of fear in the country. As part of their presentation last weekend, the men assisted Bowman in demonstrating his torture with electric cattle prods and a blanket soaked in boiling water. The crowd seemed stunned, especially to find out it was only his second time speaking about this in public.
"This is very difficult for me to discuss in public."
Ray Boudreaux, one of the Panthers in town for the event, is a Vietnam veteran and electrician in Los Angeles. He remembered how the Panthers were stigmatized in a coordinated FBI campaign aimed at destroying community support for the nascent movement. "Once upon a time, they called me a terrorist too," said Boudreaux. This label allowed the government a much freer hand to use outrageous and frequently illegal tactics in its notorious COINTELPRO campaign against popular movements in the 1960s and 1970s. ( http://thetalkingdrum.com/cointelpro.html )
Will repression and implication work to silence voices? My guess is no. Marcus notes an event that Rachel noted earlier this week, "Support Lynne Stewart" (Big Muddy IMC):
Come to Chicago! Saturday, February 18, 1-3 p.m., DePaul law school, downtown Loop campusStudents, activists, and members of the Carbondale community are invited to join the National Lawyers Guild in Chicago on Saturday, February 18, for a "Day of Outrage" on the upcoming sentencing of attorney Lynne Stewart.
The event features NYC attorney and talk-radio host Michael Smith, "the angriest lawyer on the radio!"
Michael Smith, Esq., Lynne Smith Defense Committee, NYC
"You Can't Tell Lawyers How to Do Their Job"
Saturday, February 18, 2006
1 p.m. SHARP! till 3 p.m.
DePaul University College of Law
Downtown Loop Campus
25 E. Jackson Blvd.
-- Classroom 803
Lynne Stewart, age 66, mother of 3, step mom of 4, and grandmother of 7, was a children's librarian before becoming an attorney. Since 1975, while showing that an "older" woman could go back to school, change careers, and be successful, Lynne has also lived up to the ethical canon of her profession: To provide competent, zealous representation to all her clients, regardless of how unpopular they were.
She did such a good job that the New York bar honored her as criminal defense attorney of the year.
She and famous former attorney general Ramsey Clark represented Omar Abdel Rahman, the so-called "Blind Sheik," who was convicted of plotting to blow up New York landmarks. They visited him in jail many times. They followed well-settled benchmarks of competent representation in high-profile cases. They tried to put their case forward in public.
Long after trial, after the infamous 2000 presidential election, the government indicted Lynne -- but not Clark -- for conspiracy, providing material support to terrorists, and defrauding the U.S. government. Attorney general John Ashcroft flew to NYC to brag about the indictment.
Clark testified at Lynne's trial, "I don’t know of anything that Lynne did that I didn't do."
The National Conference of Black Lawyers called it a "legal lynching," but Lynne was convicted on all counts. Her sentencing is March 10, 2006. She's looking at 35 to 45 years.
contactnlgchicago (at) yahoo.com
NLG Chicago: 312-913-0039
Marcus wondered what show Michael Smith was on? Law & Disorder broadcast on WBAI.
More historical figures come forward to speak to the power of the people in Ted's highlight, Anna Thompson's "Freedom Riders Reunite at Nashville Public Library" (Tennessee Independent Media Center):
Nashville, TN: On the 45th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides from Nashville to New Orleans, the Freedom Riders from Nashville reunited at the Nashville Public Library to discuss the legacy of the Freedom Rides and their impact on the Civil Rights movement and on their lives personally. The panelists, which included CT Vivian, Hank Thomas, Bernard Lafayette and William Harbour among others discussed having their buses firebombed, being attacked by angry white mobs and the solidarity and affinity to the philosophy of non-violence which guided their movement. John Seigenthaler was also in attendance, and discussed his role as a go-between the Kennedy administration, the Governor of Birmingham and Diane Nash, the leader of the Freedom Riders.
The panel, which was free, was held at the Nashville Public Library in honor of Black History Month. William Harbour, whose writings analyzed the movement as a liberation movement, was imprisoned for his role in the Freedom Rides. He helped to restart the Freedom Rides and was John Lews' cellmate at Parchman Penitentiary.
Harbour said that, "I am certain of this, if we had not responded non-violently to those who brutalized us, then many many more people would have died."
In Nashville he also helped to integrate movie theaters and grocery stores. John Seigenthaler, who is perhaps best known for his nationally televised program on PBS, 'A Word on Words' is also the executive director of the First Amendment Center and the former editor and publisher of the Tennessean.
During the Civil Rights era Seigenthaler was the assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy and was commissioned to negotiate safe passage of the Freedom Riders through Alabama. While in passage the bus, which had been guaranteed safe protection by the Governor of Alabama, was met by Ku Klux Klansmen, who attacked the bus, beat the Freedom Riders, and set the bus on fire. Seigenthaler, who tried to rescue two women who were being violently beaten, was himself beaten with a lead pipe in the incident.
Though you wouldn't know it to watch the big broadcast and cable channels, free speech is fighting back even when some try to impose restraints. Sabina notes Bob Fitch (photographs) and Josh Sonnefield (text)'s "UCSC Military Recruitment Debate Reportback" (Santa Cruz IMC):
On Wednesday, Feb. 8, UCSC's Colleges 9 and 10 hosted a tightly-controlled debate on the issue of military recruitment. The two speakers were William Griffin, in charge of Army recruitment for the Monterey Bay area, and Mario Ramirez Hardy, a long-time counter-recruitment organizer and GI Rights Hotline counselor.
he issue of military recruitment at UC Santa Cruz and in the community as a whole has been prominent for years. Due to creative student protests, all branch of the military have been prevented from any form of recruiting on campus for more than a year. After multiple successful local campaigns, the majority of Santa Cruz County high school parents have opted their children out of contact lists sent to recruiters. Santa Cruz County now has the lowest recruitment rate in the state of California. On Wednesday night, Colleges 9 and 10 organized a debate on the issue of military recruitment.
William Griffin, the top dog for Army recruitment in the area, faced off against Mario Ramirez Hardy, who has been helping GIs get out of the military for over a decade, in addition to a wide array of counter-recruitment activities. The night was very tightly controlled by Colleges 9 and 10 (c9/10) staff, headed by Wendy Baxter, and moderated by Professor Paul Roth. There were fears of protests from students, possibly by Students Against War (SAW), as military recruiters are known not to be welcome. Due to these fears, c9/10 staff taped a 'do not cross' line on the ground outside the Multi-Purpose Room, where the debate was held. Protesters and leafletters were not to cross the line.
Nonetheless, important flyers found their way in the hands of almost all the student attendees. No protests were planned, as no military recruitment was to take place. During the debate, Mario Ramirez Hardy and William Griffin calmly answered a few questions that they had received before hand. Students with questions were asked to write them on cards, which Roth and Baxter screened. No questions relating to foreign policy were allowed. Due to all these restrictions, the debate wasn't overly exciting, although there was a good deal of information presented. Mario Ramirez Hardy systematically dispelled the myths about military recruitment - using facts provided from military or governmental sources.
He spoke about how military recruiters, under the enlistment agreement (see: http://quakerhouse.org/documents/enlist.html) can change anything at any time, with or without notice to the enlistee (i.e. recruiters can't make any promises). He noted that 57% of enlistees don't get a dime for college, that 90% of women in the military reported harassment (1/3 of which were raped), the high rates of discrimination against people of color, and the violent heterosexism and homophobia of the military, seen by their 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy and the consistent harassment of enlistees found to be queer. These statistics were backed up by more than a decade of personal experiences counseling GIs.
Need more protest? Mia notes "Presidents' Day IMPEACH BUSH Demo! Richard Nixon Library, Yorba Linda, 2/20/06" (LA Indymedia):
PRESIDENTS' DAY FEBRUARY 20, 2006
IMPEACH GEORGE W. BUSH DEMONSTRATION!
RICHARD NIXON LIBRARY
Both Richard Nixon and George W. Bush carried out an ILLEGAL wiretapping program against people in the United States. George W. Bush LIED to the people and Congress about the justifications for going to war on Iraq! These are serious offenses which constitute High Crimes and Misdemeanors. Support the IMPEACHMENT OF George Walker Bush!
When: President's Day, Monday, February 20, 2006 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Where: Richard Nixon Museum 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd. Yorba Linda, CA 92886 Demonstration at the corners of Yorba Linda Blvd. and Eureka Ave.
Save Our Freedoms! Save our Constitution! Orange County Peace Coalition http://www.ocpeace.org
Earlier today, we provided a link to the latest round of Abu Ghraib photos at Salon. If you used the link and weren't a paid subscriber of Salon, you may have had to watch a commercial to view the photos and I know that some members have computers with very old versions of Windows so they'll freeze if they visit Salon and attempt to watch a commercial. So here's an alternative if you want to view the photos, Dahr Jamail has them up at Iraq Dispatches and you can view them by clicking here (no commercials to watch, just click here).
Brady asked if we could close with an item from today's Democracy Now! because he wants to be sure everyone noticed it:
U.S. Denies Entry To Iraqi Widows
In other Iraq news, the human rights group Global Exchange and anti-war group CodePink are criticizing the Bush administration for refusing to allow two Iraqi women into the United States. The women had been scheduled to take part in a speaking tour and to participate in the March 8th Women Say No to War march in Washington Both women are widows whose husbands and children were killed by U.S. troops. According to the groups the State Department rejected the visas because the women didn't have enough family in Iraq to prove that they'll return to the country and not emigrate to the United States. Organizer Medea Benjamin said "It's appalling that the US military killed these women's families and then the US government rejects their visas on the grounds that they have no family to return to in Iraq."
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and the war drags on
the third estate sunday review
law and disorder