2/24/2004 Newsletter


  • Rickey Jones Court Watch
  • Rally and Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty
  • Community Organizing Meeting to Block Passage of "False" Reporting Bills
  • Are You On Uncle Sam's No Fly List?
  • Activists Face Crackdown On Dissent

We left an important upcoming event off the calendar we sent out a few days ago. We also learned that the court information for Rickey Jones was partially incorrect.

Hennepin County Government Center
Rickey Jones: Arraignment on traffic stop. One case on the long list of harassments against this professional photographer, after he captured police brutality on film. Rickey was exiting a parking lot in downtown Minneapolis. Police had the street blocked off near the parking lot so that traffic could only go in one direction. Rickey followed the other cars out of the lot but was singled out and stopped, supposedly for going the wrong way, though it was the way cops were directing cars. What his harassers didn't know is that this incident, too, was captured on film.

12:00 noon
MN State Capitol Lobby, St. Paul
Rally And Lobby Day Against The Death Penalty: Governor Pawlenty has introduced legislation to bring the death penalty back to our state. Minnesotans Against the Death Penalty, a broad coalition in which CUAPB participates, is holding a rally and lobby day this Thursday to let legislators know there is strong opposition to reinstating the racist death penalty. Legislators are holding a hearing on the bill that same day, so it will be a great day to have a big impact on our representatives and senators. There will be a whole constellation of interesting speakers at the rally including at least one person who was exonerated after spending years on death row. Come hear the speakers but be prepared to stay for a little while afterwards getting packets into the hands of your legislators. You'll be glad you did. For more info: 612-978-1936

After lobbying your legislators, don't forget to come to the Community Organizing Meeting to Block Passage of "False" Reporting Bills that evening at 6:00 p.m. at our office, 2104 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis. We'll be organizing a strategy to put a stop to these dangerous bills that would criminalize reporting police misconduct.

Are You On Uncle Sam's No Fly List?
# A CBS 2 Special Report
Feb 5, 2004 11:00 pm US/Eastern

NEW YORK (CBS) The war on terror casts a wide net and has so far prevented a second September 11th. But is that net too wide? CBS 2 has learned of a top secret government list of Americans who are not allowed on any commercial airlines.

Are they terrorists or violent criminals or something else? CBS 2's Cheryl Fiandaca investigates.

The airport counter: This is as far as Rebecca Gordon and Janet Adams say they are allowed to go at San Francisco International Airport. The last time they checked in for a flight to Boston to visit Gordon's 80-year-old father, an airline employee called the police.

"She came back and said you turned up on the FBI no-fly list. We have called the San Francisco police. We were shocked, really shocked," recalled Adams.

"We were detained. We were definitely detained. I couldn't even get a drink of water," Gordon remembered.

So why would two women in their 50's, U.S. citizens, San Francisco homeowners and long-time peace activists with no criminal records be on a federal watch list with suspected terrorists?

That's just one of the questions the couple wanted answers to.

An ACLU attorney tells CBS 2 the government won't even tell them if Gordon and Adams are on the list.

Last April, the ACLU of Northern California filed suit against the Transportation Security Administration and the FBI on behalf of the pair and demanded answers to basic questions, including how many people are on the secret list, who is on the it, how do you get on it and how can you get off it.

This what they got back: hundreds of pages of blacked out text that give them no answers to any of their questions.

"The government has blacked out the information about what criteria they use to place people on these lists. So we don't know how someone gets on the list. How they can get off the list if they're on it incorrectly, we don't know. If the government monitors the list, we don't know if any of this makes us any safer. What we do know is hundreds, maybe thousands, of passengers are being routinely hassled, innocent passengers, because of these lists," ACLU attorney Jayashri Srikantiah told CBS 2.

Civil rights activists don't dispute the governments right to keep a watchlist, but they do have a problem with who's on it and why.

"It's very scary that our government is keeping a list. That's scary," Adams said.

Scary and all too real. The government has admitted it has a secret no-fly list of people who are not allowed to fly. And also has a secret selected list of people who are to be singled out, detained, and questioned.

Both are stored in airline databases and are accessed at check in. The lists allegedly contain thousands of names of passengers who are to be stopped before boarding commercial flights.

The list isn't new. It has been in existence since about 1990 but was expanded after the September 11th attacks.

"It's a no-fly list, it's a list of names gathered through intelligence and law enforcement of individuals who are either known terrorists or have links to known terrorists," TSA spokesperson Mark Hatfied told Fiandaca.

The list is now alleged to include not only suspected terrorists and those believed to be a threat to aviation security but civil rights activists say it also targets people based on their political views. A list that is thought to include members of the Green Party, a Jesuit priest who is a peace activist and two civil rights attorneys.

In Gordon and Adams' case, the ACLU believes the couple may have been targeted for their work on War Times, a free bilingual newspaper that has been critical of the war and the Bush administration's policies on terrorism.

It's very scary that two people who pose no danger, who are publishing something, which last time I looked we were allowed to do, are being detained at the airport and having the police called and they won't tell us why," Adams said.

And as of today, Gordon and Adams still don't have any answers from the government but have a court hearing set for April 9th. This controversy isn't likely to go away anytime soon, since the government is planning on implementing a color code system this summer to track passengers and that list too is expected to be secret.

Cointelpro 2004? Activists Face Crackdown On Dissent
By Richard Muhammad
StraightWords E-Zine
[email protected]

As the one-year anniversary of the Iraq War and massive protests approaches, activists and civil liberties groups face increased government scrutiny.

If you want to wear your "Dump Dubya" button in Crawford, Tex., a few miles from the president's ranch, make sure you get approval from the police chief. Wearing a political button could violate Crawford's protest ordinance that requires a $25 permit and prior approval by police.

A Feb. 16 verdict by a six-person jury meeting in a rented recreation center room upheld the ordinance. Five peace activists stopped at a Crawford roadblock en route to protests near the president's ranch last May were convicted of violating the city's parade and procession law. They were fined $200 to $500 and plan to appeal.

But increasing limits on protest aren't limited to one-horse Texas towns with Bush memorabilia shops. Government surveillance and the "criminalization of dissent" are growing and Americans need to be worried, say activists and civil liberties advocates. Two significant and recent episodes:

· In Des Moines, the U.S. Attorney Office Feb. 10 dropped a gag order, and subpoenas that demanded leadership lists, information about what was discussed and who attended a peace forum as well as annual reports from the Drake University chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. The campus group sponsored a forum Nov. 15, a day before a run-of-the-mill peace rally at a National Guard facility. The government also dropped subpoenas for four protesters. Among those subpoenaed was the executive director of the Catholic Peace Ministry. Some other participants in the protest were Quakers and grandmothers, said Ben Stone, executive director of the Iowa ACLU.

·The Texas Civil Rights Project Feb. 13 condemned U.S. Army intelligence agents who wanted a roster of those who attended a conference on women and Islamic law at the University of Texas law school in Austin. Intelligence agents are also accused of posing as lawyers during the Feb. 4 event. The U.S. Army Intelligence Security Command has said it is looking into incident. The law school's president said it was the first time in 30 years he had heard of the government investigating a law school forum or seminar.

"When the government intimidates people expressing their opinions non-violently in Iowa, the civil rights of all Americans questioned," said Joseph Truong, of the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition. His group's second annual, national "Books Not Bombs Day of Action" is scheduled for March 4. Last year most demonstrations went well and some were supported by schools. But at least 300 students were suspended, 151 students arrested and two schools locked down, Truong said. Truong's group is moving forward with its planned protest.

"These are not terrorists, these are people who are dissenting. I don't think people believe the Catholic Peace Ministry is a threat," said Caroline Palmer, of the National Lawyers Guild, which has over 6,000 members, chapters at over 100 law schools and in nearly every state. Its headquarters is in New York.

It is dangerous to lump peace activists, or other dissenters, with legitimate targets for criminal investigations, she said. Not only is the Patriot Act in effect, but what was Patriot Act II has been broken into smaller pieces of legislation and sprinkled into Homeland Security and other bills, said Palmer.

Legal, policy changes add to concern

With the country reeling from the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Congress quickly passed sweeping legislation called the Patriot Act. It was followed by presidential executive orders and Justice Department decrees. The combination of new laws, presidential privilege and Justice Department policy increased government surveillance power, lessened judicial oversight, crafted a new broad "domestic terror" crime category, approved military tribunals, and indefinite detention and immediate deportation of non-citizens. Increased surveillance of domestic religious groups, greater coordination between the CIA and domestic law enforcement and ability of the CIA director, attorney general and defense secretary to label citizens and non-citizens enemy combatants were also approved. Enemy combatants can be held indefinitely, interrogated and denied communication with outsiders and judicial review.

"We have been urged by the Bush administration that we have to trade off liberty for security and that's not true," said Bill Dobbs, of United or Peace and Justice, a national coalition of over 600 groups opposed to faulty U.S. foreign policy and devoted to social and racial justice. Dobbs noted local ordinances that limit protest are growing and have surfaced in small towns, like Crawford, Tex., and big cities like Miami. During a major protest against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) meeting last year, demonstrators found local law governed how big puppets could be, he said.

In other instances, people were arrested for standing across the street from a protest site or for simply wearing black, which police assumed made them anarchists, Dobbs added.

Protesters are hit with "over charges," said Dobbs, meaning what might have been a simple arrest for civil disobedience can now mean multiple criminal charges.

"People and journalists need to be looking around the entire landscape and asking what is going on," said the activist. With the new surveillance and police powers, it will likely to take years to know how far the authorities have gone, he added.

"We have to continue to organize, not just against Bush, but against Bush's policies," Dobbs said. "Sometimes exposing this to the light helps, but you wonder," he said.

And, though these intrusions are important, people of color suffer from police abuses daily and that should be opposed and not forgotten, Dobbs said. "There is a lack of (police) accountability on a daily basis," he said.

Gov't aim is intimidation, says attorney

"Why would government anti-terror resources be targeted at anti-war activists?" asked Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, of the Partnership for Civil Justice and a board member for the anti-war group International A.N.S.W.E.R. The government activity is "clearly aimed intimidation and has no legal basis," said the attorney.

"When you have a government carrying out criminal, immoral activity, you have a right to protest," said Verheyden-Hilliard.

She warned against falling for the "good protestor-bad protester" divisions. In the 1960s, authorities wanted to label and isolate the Black Panthers as the "bad" radicals to justify a violent assault on the Black Power movement, Verheyden-Hilliard said.

Already in California, where a peace group found out a man killed in a motorcycle accident was a cop and not an activist, and other places there has been government infiltration of dissenting groups, she said.

Abuses within the notorious federal domestic spying and disruption program known as Cointelpro, which targeted the civil rights and Black Power movements, leftist and anti-Vietnam groups and thousands of activists from the 1950s to early 1970s led to prohibitions on some activity. Many of those prohibitions have been lifted activists note. The Partnership for Civil Justice has a class action lawsuit going against the District of Columbia and federal law enforcement authorities for hundreds of arrests during anti-war and IMF/World Bank protests on Sept. 27, 2002. A U.S. District Court judge certified the suit in late September. The judge ordered release of an internal police document about the arrests that Mayor Anthony Williams had withheld for months, said Verheyden-Hilliard.

District of Columbia police have an ongoing domestic spying campaign that has included cops posing as protesters, she said.

Lawsuits stemming from police misconduct during the Bush inauguration in 2001 and the arrests of over 600 people in April 2000 are ongoing.

Verheyden-Hilliard charges cops and two agent provocateurs tried to incite problems at the inauguration. She also points to April 2002 Free Palestine protests, September 2002 mass arrests in D.C.'s Pershing Park, and police beatings during an April 2003 anti-war and anti-occupation protest as signs of "a concerted and violent effort to obstruct free speech rights."

In Miami, a civil suit was filed in federal court Feb. 4. It challenges ordinances enacted just before the FTTA gathering. One provision made it unlawful for more than seven people to gather for more than 30 minutes outside of a structure for a "common purpose." The lawsuit was filed by the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee.

Though Verheyden-Hilliard calls the Bush administration guilty of "cynical manipulation of the political climate" after Sept. 11, she said civil liberties erosions have escalated under the Bush-Ashcroft team, but didn't start there. That means eternal vigilance regardless of who is in the White House, she said.

With the huge demonstration in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and other cities planned by International A.N.S.W.E.R. and other groups for March 20, the one-year anniversary of the war on Iraq, heavy surveillance is expected and likely already underway.

International A.N.S.W.E.R. has already filed a Freedom of Information Act request about Justice Department activity related to the peace movement. The memo, which surfaced last November, and was reported on in the New York Times called for an increased focus on peace activists by law enforcement.

Verheyden-Hilliard said pre-protest planning meetings with police officials in New York were marked by open hostility.

Still activists insist intimidation and pressure won't stop them and are pushing to get thousands of people in the streets.

"Less activism is exactly what these measures are designed to create," said Wayne Krause, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project.

Communities United Against Police Brutality
2104 Stevens Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

  • Michelle Gross
    published this page in 2004 Newsletters 2016-09-18 16:01:13 -0500

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