Abolitionists From Around The World Gather To End Prisons

Janetta Johnson at the keynote address for the International Conference of Penal Abolition (ICOPA). (Photo courtesy of Rustbelt Abolitionist Radio from Detroit)

By Jean Trounstine for Truthout. In July 2017 more than 200 people from across the globe met for four days in New Bedford, Massachusetts, which was once home to abolitionist Frederick Douglass and a major stop on the Underground Railroad. Meeting intentionally in a place with such historical significance to the abolition movement, conferees came together to learn more about the relationship between the carceral state and struggles against colonialism and slavery. Since 2000, “The increased use of incarceration accounted for nearly zero percent of the overall reduction in crime,” according to a recent report by the Vera Institute, entitled “The Prison Paradox: More Incarceration Will Not Make Us Safer.” The report also underscores the structural racism in which incarceration is grounded, adding, “Incarceration will increase crime in states and communities with already high incarceration rates.” Recognizing that prison does not reduce violence, many organizations and abolitionists advocate community accountability practices as an alternative to the punishment system, utilizing networks of friends, families, church groups, neighborhoods or workplace associates to provide safety to the community and ways of healing harm.

Dick Gregory: A Life Educating & Seeking Justice

Dick Gregory talking Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on stage  with Dr. Benjamin Spock, Rev. Ralph Abernathy (BETTMANN ARCHIVE).

By Rachel Mack for Americans Who Tell The Truth. The great civil rights activist Dick Gregory died this week. His book, Nigger, was published when I was nine years old and had a long-lasting impact on my political development and views. He spoke at my university and added to helping to shape my political views and push me toward activism. When we organized the Occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC he was a regular visitor and spoke at the event.

Oldest Columbus Memorial Vandalized In Protest Against White Supremacy

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By Staff for Popular Resistance. In the dark of night on August 21, 2017, protesters attacked a memorial commemorating Christopher Columbus. The memorial is the oldest monument to Columbus in North America and is one of three in Baltimore. The video shows an individual who identifies himself as “Ty” explaining why he is destroying the plaque commemorating Columbus. He says: “Christopher Columbus symbolizes the initial invasion of European capitalism into the Western Hemisphere. Columbus initiated a centuries-old wave of terrorism, murder, genocide, rape, slavery, ecological degradation and capitalist exploitation of labor in the Americas. That Columbian wave of destruction continues on the backs of Indigenous, African-American and brown people. “Racist monuments to slave owners and murderers have always bothered me. Baltimore’s poverty is concentrated in African-American households, and these statues are just an extra slap in the face. They were built in the 20th century in response to a movement for African Americans’ human dignity. What kind of a culture goes to such lengths to build such hate-filled monuments? What kind of a culture clings to those monuments in 2017?” The protest deepens the actions against the culture that glorifies white supremacy and the racism that goes along with it.

Newsletter: Success Against Racists, Build On It

Thousands of counter-protesters march down Tremont Street.	—Matthew J. Lee / The Boston Globe

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. Last week, we wrote about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia in terms of their historical and political context. Since then, the national and international response to right wing mobilization has been rapid and powerful. The response has been global, e.g. women in Poland held photos of slain Heather Heyer while they blocked a far right wing march. The national conversation is changing to include criticism of white supremacy and confederate statues are being taken down. This week, we present a greater focus on the tasks of the movement for social justice and racial equality. It is possible to halt the rise of right wing extremism. To do that we must understand what institutions maintain white supremacy and turn our energy towards ending racist institutions in the United States and globally.

Disinformation Terrorism Against Venezuela

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By Armando B. Gines for New Dawn. World elites dominate the main international media almost completely through an intricate network of associations that conceal the participation of transnational empires such as banks, weapons industries, energy industries, and financial and investment entities. The New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, the Financial Times, El País—renowned newspapers and TV networks impose the views of their shareholders on current events, dictating the agenda for the millions that make up their audience. In other words, they lead the collective attention to focus on their preferred topics while they intentionally cast a cloak of silence over other issues, according to their economic interests. As US linguist George Lakoff revealed, we only talk about that which the hegemonic power wants us to talk about.

Millions For Prisoners’ Human Rights March In DC

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By Kyle Fraser for Black Agenda Report. Prisoner rights advocates will converge for what aims to be the largest abolitionist demonstration in U.S. history, Saturday, August 9, in Washington D.C. The Millions for Prisoners’ Human Rights March is centered around the demand that the exceptions clause, which allows for slavery to continue in United States prisons, be removed from the Constitution’s 13th Amendment. With over 1,100 lives claimed last year by today’s slave-catchers in law enforcement, a Black imprisoned population that comprises 1/9 of the prisoners on earth and a manufactured “war on drugs” that rages on despite untold evidence of its foul origins, the fact of prison slavery should not exceed the imagination’s limits — and yet mass mobilization for its abolition has thus far not reflected the brutally severe implications of its ongoing practice. On August 19th, IAmWeUbuntu and the other march organizers both in and outside the walls seek to change that, as they bring family members, friends and supporters of the incarcerated from across the country together under the banner of abolitionism. The growing modern-day abolitionist movement calls on all people of conscience to join in on the mass denunciation of this country’s original sin in D.C.’s Lafayette Park this Saturday, August 19th, to finally achieve the goal of ending slavery once and for all and without exception.

The People's Congress Of Resistance

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By the Convenors of the People’s Congress of Resistance. We are excited to release the Manifesto of the People’s Congress of Resistance! Titled “Society for the Many: A vision for revolution,” the manifesto sets out a bold and clear program for people’s power, emancipation, equality and a society to meet human needs. In the introductory paragraphs, the People’s Congress of Resistance Manifesto explains: “Without a revolutionary vision, change will not take a revolutionary direction. Resistance will remain rudderless, an exercise in activism for its own sake, or it will be co-opted into a vessel for the political elites. A vision for social, economic and political revolution is necessary. We need to know where we want to go. Our vision ties our actions to our goal by showing us what we are mobilizing for. It guides us in coordinating our strategies and tactics. It helps us build collective strength. Our vision tells us how we can win and that we will win.”

Protest Inhumane Conditions In St. Louis Jail

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By Caroline Linton for CBS News. St. Louis, MO – St. Louis police in riot gear used pepper spray to disperse protests Friday outside a jail that has drawn intense criticism for not having air-conditioning while the city has faced a heat wave. About 200 people demonstrated for the closure of the St. Louis Workhouse, a medium-security jail, CBS affiliate KMOV reports. The jail, mainly built in the 1960s, has no air conditioning while temperatures have hit triple digits. In a video posted on Facebook earlier this week, inmates can be heard yelling “help us!” and “we ain’t got no A/C!” According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the protesters outside chanted “let them go” while inmates responded “let us out!” At least one person was arrested and several protesters’ cars were towed away, KMOV reports.

CIA No Longer Can Defend The Indefensible—Its Torture Program

Demonstrators at the International Day to Shut Down Guantanamo in 2007. The rally was held in Washington, D.C. (takomabibelot / Flickr)

By John Kiriakou for Truth Dig – James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the two contract psychologists who were the masterminds of the CIA’s torture program, are in for a heap of trouble. They are defendants in two major lawsuits accusing them of designing, implementing, overseeing and personally participating in the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program. That they did exactly that is not in doubt. Indeed, Mitchell has written proudly of his work in a new book. But what makes these cases newsworthy is that the CIA has apparently turned its back on the two, offering no support and even cooperating with the plaintiffs by voluntarily turning over documents and refusing to supply CIA officers to serve as defense witnesses. (This is not out of the goodness of the CIA’s heart. But we’ll get to that later.) The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the first suit in January in the federal district court for the Eastern District of Washington state, where Mitchell and Jessen based their company, on behalf of three former CIA detainees—Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud and the estate of Gul Rahman, a suspected Afghan militant who was tortured and who died in CIA custody in 2002. The second suit was filed on behalf of Abu Zubaydah in the federal district court for the District of Columbia. The suit holds that Abu Zubaydah was tortured relentlessly by the CIA, which held him in a series of secret prisons around the world.

Statement Of Support For Civic Strike In Buenaventura, Colombia

Mass action closing down port in Buenaventura, Colombia May 21

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. Popular Resistance has been closely following and reporting on the civic strike in the port city of Buenaventura, Colombia. As the strike is suspended we are issuing this statement of support and solidarity. We applaud the political clarity and the uncompromising demands of the people of Buenaventura in response to the long-term prejudice and mistreatment of Afro-Colombians. The organization that the civic strike showed, especially in the face of harsh treatment by the security state in Colombia, demonstrated great strength and courage which made the strike successful. Your effort has brought massive attention to the indifference of the Colombian government to centuries of racism that has led to abject poverty and mistreatment of black people in Colombia. The agreement that led to the suspension of the strike is a clear victory for Afro-Colombians in Buenaventura.

Filipinos Rally Outside NY Consulate, Condemn Duterte’s Martial Law

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By Staff for Bayan. Filipinos from around New York and New Jersey are coming together on Monday, June 5th to condemn martial law and increasing U.S. counterinsurgency and intervention in the Philippines. The demonstration demands that martial law be immediately revoked from Mindanao and that the GRP-NDFP peace talks resume. In the wake of attacks on May 23rd between the Maute group and the Philippine military in Marawi City, the entire southernmost island of Mindanao has been placed under martial law. President Duterte has suspended the writ of habeas corpus, meaning arrests can now happen without a warrant throughout the island. Habeas corpus is vital in protecting the right to liberty and preventing torture, ill-treatment and enforced disappearance.Hundreds of Moro men began being rounded up in Davao City on the day before Ramadan started, and Duterte is threatening to expand martial law to the entire country.

Peaceful Strikers Being Attacked By Armed Police

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By Esther Ojulari for Black Alliance for Peace. Buenaventura, Colombia – “I know you’re fighting a just cause…We go all round the country and we see people fighting just causes all the time…But this is our job…our role here is to attack, so that’s what we do.” These were the words my friend was told when he engaged in conversation the other night with an agent of the ESMAD (Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron) on the streets of Buenaventura, Colombia, in the context of the ongoing civic strike. The mainly Afro-descendant and indigenous community of Buenaventura on the Pacific Coast of Colombia has been on a civic strike now for 16 days. 16 days in which business, banks, shops and schools have been closed down and taxis and buses have stopped working to demand that the national government fulfills its basic human rights obligations to its citizens.

Strike In Buenaventura For People Centered Human Rights

Buenaventura strike

By Esther Ojulari for Black Alliance for Peace. Since the Buenaventura port was privatized in 1991, the vast majority of income generated goes straight into the pockets of private business owners from outside of the city, while the community suffers from a lack of investment and neglect. 64% of the population lives in poverty and 9.1% in extreme poverty. The child mortality rate in Buenaventura is 27.6 per 1000. The sewage system covers only 60% of the city, and only 76% receives running water. For most of the population that water arrives in homes for only a few hours a day and in some communities only a couple of times a week. The city’s public hospital was closed in 2015 leaving the population with access only to primary health care and meaning that patients often have to travel to other cities to receive adequate medical attention. Only 22% of the population have access to secondary education, and schools not only lack materials and infrastructure but resources to provide a culturally relevant education. The privatisation of the port contributed to a rise in unemployment as many of the jobs were given outsiders leaving an unemployment rate today of 62%. Much of the working population are engaged in informal labour, with lack of job security and safe working conditions.

Punishment For Human Rights Abusers Is Achievement For Argentine Society

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By Daniel Gutman for Nation of Change – What at first was terrible news that outraged a large proportion of Argentine society, who see the conviction and imprisonment of dictatorship-era human rights violators as an irrevocable achievement for democracy, became a cause for celebration a week later. An unexpected ruling handed down by the Supreme Court on May 3 initially opened the door to hundreds of members of the military and civilians in prison for crimes against humanity committed during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship to seek a reduction of their sentences, which would in some cases even allow them to immediately be released. However, the wave of outrage that arose in human rights groups spread in the following days throughout society, leading to changes that came about at a dizzying pace that made it unlikely for the court ruling, which applied to one particular case, to be used as a precedent for other human rights abusers to obtain a reduction in their sentences. “It won’t go any farther than this. In the Argentine justice system, the Supreme Court’s decisions are not binding on lower courts.

First Hundred Days Of Human Rights Violations

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By Amie Stepanovich for Access Now. In the final years of the Obama Administration, we frequently took issue with the negative impact the administration’s actions were having on our human rights, tackling issues from surveillance to encryption and beyond. However, nothing we saw then could have prepared us for what we have witnessed in the first few months of 2017. Simply put, when President Trump hits the 100th day benchmark on Saturday, April 29, he and his administration will have taken — or prepared to take — a series of actions with massive negative consequences for human rights all around the globe, some of which will darken the U.S. human rights record for generations to come. Below we detail five that are related to our mission of defending and extending the digital rights of users at risk, and describe what we’re doing to fight back.