Fight Back News

Subscribe to Fight Back News feed
This newspaper exists to build the people's struggle! We provide coverage and analysis of some of the key battles facing working and low-income people.
Updated: 2 hours 17 min ago

Justice for Japanese Latin Americans!

5 hours 32 min ago

San José, CA - On June 24, more than 75 people gathered at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose (JAMsj) in San José’s Japantown for a program on the struggle for justice by Japanese Latin Americans.

The program began with the film Hidden Internment: The Art Shibayama Story. The film explained how Art Shibayama, a Japanese Peruvian, and more than 2000 other Japanese who immigrated to Latin America or were born there were taken by the U.S. government during World War II. They were held in Department of Justice internment camps along with thousands of Japanese, German and Italian immigrants to the U.S. who had been arrested in the days after the U.S. declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy. The U.S. government planned to use the Japanese Latin Americans as hostages to be exchanged for Americans held by the Japanese government.

At the end of World War II, the U.S. government classified the Japanese Latin Americans who they had taken by force as ‘illegal immigrants.’ 40 years later, the U.S. government denied Japanese Latin Americans equal reparations with Japanese Americans who had been put in concentration camps during World War II. In March of 2017, after more than 20 years of seeking justice from the U.S. government, Art Shibayama and others testified to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), to seek a ruling against what the U.S. government had done and to call for full redress for Japanese Latin Americans.

After the film, Art Shibayama’s daughter, Bekki, spoke about how the internment had affected her family. Grace Shimizu of the Campaign for Justice spoke the audience about how they could help the campaign. She urged supporters to sign a petition to the IACHR in support of the Shibayamas and other Japanese Latin Americans (see below for a link).

At a potluck dinner after the program, Joyce Oyama said that she had first heard of the Japanese Latin Americans at a Day of Remembrance, and that “it just wasn’t right” that they were denied the same reparations that Japanese Americans had received. [Day of Remembrance is an annual commemoration in Japanese American communities of Executive Order 9066, which was issued on February 19, 1942, and led to concentration camps for 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II]

Readers of Fight Back! can support the struggle by signing the petition at: https://www.change.org/p/inter-american-commission-on-human-rights-justi...

Republican Senate health care bill just as bad as the House version

Mon, 2017-06-26 21:30

San José, CA - On Monday, June 26, the Congressional Budget Office or CBO released its analysis of the Senate Republicans’ bill meant to repeal the Affordable Care Act (the ACA, often called Obamacare). The Senate Republicans’ bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act or BCRA, would mean 22 million more people would go without health insurance as compared to the current law with the ACA at the end of ten years. 15 million people would lose their Medicaid coverage (called Medical in California; each state has its own name), a million more than under the House Republican bill known as the Health Care Reform Act or HCRA. 7 million more people would have to go without their individual insurance policies purchased on state exchanges, also a million more than the House Republican HCRA.

The Republican Senate bill would hit the working poor hard. Most workers with lower paying jobs don’t get health insurance from their employer, and must rely on Medicaid, buying their own insurance or simply doing without insurance. The working poor will also be hurt by the elimination in funding for Planned Parenthood, which offers low-cost health care to many women.

Many people who do manage to keep their health insurance will end up paying more through higher deductibles and/or having to pay more out of pocket. The Senate bill allows for insurance that doesn’t cover pregnancy, emergency room visits, and other services now mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

So who are the winners? The rich, of course, who won’t have a pay the Net Investment Income Tax or NIIT. This is a tax on high-income households that have large profits from the sale of land, stocks or other investment. They will save an estimated $172 billion over the next ten years. Bigger businesses will also no longer have to pay a fine for not providing health insurance for their workers, saving them $171 billion over the next ten years. Big health insurance companies that are raking in billions of dollars every year in profits will have an additional $145 billion in profits over ten years as their tax is canceled by the Senate Republican bill.

Doing the math, the rich and big businesses are gaining more than $20,000 in additional after-tax income and profits for every person who loses their health insurance over the next ten years. This is the reality of Republican rule: take from the poor and give to the rich and big business.

Protest at Twin Cites Pride: “No cops, no KKK, no racist Pride today!”

Mon, 2017-06-26 21:18

Minneapolis, MN - Tens of thousands lined Hennepin Avenue to watch the annual Twin Cities LGBTQ Pride parade on June 25. A group of hundreds behind a banner reading “Justice for Philando #NoJusticeNoPride” took the lead of the parade, a few blocks ahead of the police car that was supposed to lead the official parade. The group was protesting Pride’s decision to allow police to lead the parade and be present throughout the festival, despite an epidemic of police violence that particularly targets queer and trans people of color.

They marched and chanted, “No cops, no KKK, no racist Pride today!” Another chant echoed the queer-led movement that took on the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, “White silence = violence!” Those watching the parade cheered and chanted too, and some joined the protest in answer to the call, “Off the sidewalks, into the streets, Queer & trans liberation now!” Several banners and signs carried other messages, including “Queer & trans liberation, not assimilation,” and “Black lives matter.”

Every few blocks, including at the main grandstand, the group would stop. At one stop, there was a dance party. Another time, organizer Austin Jackson spoke, “We’re going to take a moment of silence to be with yourself, or your queerness, or your blackness, or your transness and be here for the people who can’t be here today… and also for Philando, for Jamar Clark, for Marcus Golden, for Map Kong, for Phil Quinn, and every single person who has been murdered by police.” The marchers stood silent with their fists raised, and the powerful silence was honored by marchers and parade-watchers alike.

At many of the stops, Kat George and June Kuoch read from a list of demands set out by protest organizers. First, “We demand that Twin Cities Pride honors the legacy and life of trans women of color and recognize Pride as the byproduct of their resistance of police brutality and repression.” Some of the other demands called for eliminating police involvement in Pride, and an end to white supremacy and other oppression within the LGBTQ community.

The action took place in the context of longstanding conflicts within the LGBTQ community over racism and policing, which are heightened by the recent acquittal of the cop that shot and killed Philando Castile last year. Community pressure forced the issue, and on June 20, Pride organizers said there would be no uniformed police officers marching in the parade, and that more of the event security would be handled by unarmed security guards. Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau was one of many area police officials that took to social media and the press to rail against the “divisive” move. Three days later the decision was reversed, and Pride announced that uniformed police would not be “excluded” from the parade, and instead, police were invited to carry the unity flags at the start of the march.

Jackson challenged Pride organizers when he was on the mic, “You are letting the police department that brutalizes and kills us … lead us in a Pride parade. [To] me, a Black queer trans person, that’s shady!”

Protesters delayed the parade by some 90 minutes, as they “reclaimed” the event, in the spirit of the Stonewall Rebellion. Many community members today are still living Stonewall, resisting police violence and repression now. The action was organized by an ad hoc coalition of groups and individuals, including Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar, Native Lives Matter, and Justice for Marcus Golden.

Protesters demand Trump close Guantanamo Bay

Mon, 2017-06-26 21:10

Doral, FL - About 40 activists marched from Trump National Resort in Doral to U.S. Southern Command, June 25, to demand that President Trump shut down Guantanamo Bay prison. The prison currently holds 41 detainees, 26 of whom have not been charged or tried for any crimes and five of whom have been cleared for release.

Protesters first gathered outside of Trump’s resort at 5 p.m., with a large banner that read, “Shut down Guantanamo!” Four people donned the infamous orange jumpsuits with black hoods over their heads; the same that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are forced to wear. The four knelt in front of the Trump National Doral entrance holding signs such as, “Investigate Trump for war crimes.”

Conor Munro, an organizer with People’s Opposition to War, Imperialism, and Racism (POWIR), led the evening’s protest. “Closing Guantanamo under Trump might be more difficult than under Obama, because he openly promotes a torture agenda. But, what’s also true is that there is a large people’s movement against Trump, and we need to use that to target issues that matter,” said Munro.

At 6 p.m., the group marched one mile in the 93-degree heat to U.S. Southern Command, which is the entity responsible for all military activity in the Americas. From directing the prison cells at Guantanamo Bay, to the right-wing paramilitaries in Colombia and attempted coups in Venezuela, SOUTHCOM is a sinister institution that serves no other purpose than to spread the violence of U.S. imperialism across the hemisphere.

The event ended outside of the gates of SOUTHCOM, where the group listened to speeches from community leaders. One speaker focused on how the prison was once used to detain thousands of Haitian refugees fleeing a U.S.-backed coup, while another focused on how the land belongs to the people of Cuba and must be returned back to them in order to rid the island of U.S. military presence once and for all.

This was the fifth year that POWIR organized this protest to close Guantanamo Bay. Activists promised to continue the fight against torture, violence and war, no matter who sits in the White House.

China develops laser gun for shooting down drones

Sat, 2017-06-24 21:28

Washington, DC – In a June 23, People's Daily Online article, it was reported that “scientists at the China Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP) announced recently that they have perfected a laser gun capable of shooting down drones flying at low altitudes. The laser system performed well during experiments and tests, shooting down over 30 small aircraft.”

The article goes on to state, “The laser gun disables drones after shooting lasers that burn and erode the target’s surface and functional parts. In this way, it interferes with the drone's remote control and navigation system. The system can destroy targets within five seconds, causing no collateral damage. A single system defense set can cover an area of 12 square kilometers.”

In recent years socialist China has made a major effort to develop and modernize military-related technology, as the U.S. has promoted a pivot towards Asia to maintain its dominance of the Pacific region.

WFTU Statement on the Decision of the UN Security Council to welcome the deployment of military force to tackle the threat of terrorism in Sahel

Sat, 2017-06-24 21:24

The United Nations Security Council on June 21st welcomed the deployment by the so-called Group of Five (G5) – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – of a joint force to tackle the threat of terrorism, as well as the serious challenges posed by transnational organized crime in Africa’s restive Sahel region. Also by that text, the Council urged the joint force of up to 5,000 military and police personnel, as well as the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali and French forces in that country to ensure adequate coordination and exchange of information regarding their operations, within their respective mandates.

The text of the Decision was proposed by France and USA, this development comes just 4 days after the G20-Africa Partnership Conference in Berlin where the imperialistic forces decided how to further strengthen their monopolies to steal the African riches. All those prove once more the interest of the imperialists in the region of Africa.

The WFTU strongly believes that only the people and the workers of Africa have the power to change their lives. No charity from the stolen wealth of the African workers can smoothen the barbarity of capitalism. No “Non-Governmental Organization” can heal this situation. The natural resources of Africa belong to the peoples and the workers of the region.

The Secretariat

Jacksonville protests for trans rights

Sat, 2017-06-24 21:08

Jacksonville, FL - Around 50 people rallied for trans rights at Memorial Park in Jacksonville, June 24. Organized by the Coalition for Consent, Jacksonville Transgender Action Committee along with other groups, protesters rallied to demand an end to attacks on the trans community, especially oppressed nationality trans women.

Protest organizers led chants of "No justice, no peace, no transphobic police." Other chants included, "Queer is hot, war is not, queer is hot, Trump is not."

So far 13 trans women have been murdered this year.

Protesters demanded an end to these attacks as well as end to laws that criminalize the trans community.

Charges dropped against Ariel Vences Lopez from arrest on Minneapolis light rail

Sat, 2017-06-24 00:03

Minneapolis, MN - On June 23, the charges against Ariel Vences Lopez of ‘fare evasion,’ ‘obstruction of process’ and ‘providing a false name to police’ were dropped. This legal victory is one step in the campaign that immigrant rights and anti-police brutality activists are waging to stop the deportation of Vences Lopez and stop police harassment and brutality on Twin Cities public transit.

Vences Lopez was riding the blue line light rail train in Minneapolis on May 14 and gained national attention after a video posted to Facebook went viral. In the video, Metro Transit police officer Andy Lamers can be seen asking Vences-Lopez, “Are you here illegally?” during what appears to be a routine fare check. Minneapolis is supposed to be a ‘sanctuary city’ where police do not ask people about immigration status. Metro Transit, which has its own police force, claims to not ask about immigration status either, despite the viral video showing Lamers doing exactly that.

After protesting at the Met Council and pressing authorities about what happened, it became clear that after the video snippet showing officer Lamers questioning Vences-Lopez ended, he was then removed from the train, tased and then arrested. The charges from that arrest are the charges that were dropped today.

When Vences-Lopez was in custody at the Hennepin County Jail for these charges, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) put a hold on him, after which he was transferred to ICE for deportation. He is still held by ICE pending deportation, with activists and lawyers working to stop his deportation. Getting the charges against Vences Lopez dropped is one step in that process.

Undocumented student Claudia Rueda freed

Fri, 2017-06-23 20:41

Los Angeles, CA - Public school teachers at Roosevelt High School (RHS), joined by professors from Cal-State LA and students from RHS Magnet joined together to demand that authorities free 22-year-old Claudia Rueda.

Only a week after Rueda helped organize the successful fight to free her own mother, Teresa de Vidal Jaime, from custody, Rueda was taken from her home by ICE.

On June 8, Rueda’s mother Teresa, Rueda’s sister, her aunt, students, teacher, professors and community members all lined up to give testimony about Rueda being influential and inspiring. Organized by M.E.Ch.A de RHS, the United Teachers of LA union, ICE out of LA, and the Immigrant Youth Coalition, the event had a strong and energized turnout.

“I see myself when I look at Claudia,” said Edna Galvis, president of M.E.Ch.A de RHS. “Fighting for her mother, fighting for a better education, and helping lead her classmates against discrimination and attacks of ICE.”

RHS’s Marianna Ramirez, who was Rueda’s teacher said, “We must join when Claudia needs us more than ever!”

Teacher Arlene Inouye spoke of the Japanese concentration camps and about how her grandmother was taken from her home and put in the camps. Inouye insisted that organized efforts are the key to succeeding against ICE and deportations.

Rueda was in the middle of moving when sheriffs showed up at her door to detain her. Rueda was then transferred to the Otay Mesa Detention Center near San Diego. Efforts in LA, San Diego, as well as public outcry ultimately led to the freeing of Rueda on June 9. Rueda’s next steps are to have her case reviewed, and to be eligible for DACA.

The people united, will never be defeated.

Young Latino survives LAPD shooting in East Los Angeles

Thu, 2017-06-22 10:16

Los Angeles, CA – On June 15, 18-year-old Pedro Echevarria was shot four times by LA Police Department Hollenbeck station cop Carbajal. He survived after neighbor Darlene intervened, yelling, “Stop shooting! Don’t kill him!”

Pedro Echevarria, who lives in the Rose Hills area of El Sereno in the Eastside of LA, is still in intensive care unit at the LAC+USC Medical Center in Boyle Heights under 24-hour police guard, having undergone several major operations. His parents can only see him with a police escort as he is being held on $100,000 bond for alleged gun possession. Echevarria had graduated from Central High School the day before and was working as a painter. He had been harassed by officer Carbajal several times in the past.

Family, local community members and supporters held a vigil in front of LAC+USC Medical Center calling for solidarity with Pedro and the family.

Members of Centro CSO, with the parents of Jesse Romero (a 14-year-old killed by LAPD last August), visited the hospital to support the family and stand in unity with families who are victims of police brutality.

Pedro’s parents Raul and Rosa, originally from El Salvador, are calling for justice, and for prosecution of the police. The LAPD Hollenbeck station has had a high number of police killings recently. The community, with Centro CSO, have held several protests at the LAPD and district attorney’s office to denounce these police killings and call for the firing and prosecution of the killer cops.

PFLP denounces, urges action against collective punishment attacks on Jerusalem and Deir Abu Mashaal

Mon, 2017-06-19 16:12

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine denounced the repeated Zionist attacks against the city of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque and collective punishment that has escalated over the last few days and hours, and the besieging of the village of Deir Abu Mashaal. Zionist forces have launched a campaign of attacks and arrests against the people of the village. These raids against the village will not extinguish the flame of resistance and will only intensify the determination of the Palestinian people to defend their rights, principles and holy sites.

The Front condemned the heavily armed forces of the Israeli police that stormed the courtyards of al-Aqsa Mosque, attacking worshippers and imposing closure on the Damascus Gate area. This military stranglehold is a retaliatory attack meant to divert attention from the clear failure of its military forces in preventing the heroic Jerusalem operation, which hit Zionist occupation forces in the holy city. These criminal practices reflect the essence of Zionist policy.

The Front denounced the prime minister of the Zionist enemy Netanyahu as a war criminal. His threats to take unprecedented action against the city of Jerusalem and the village of Deir Abu Mashaal and the orders to demolish the homes of the families of the strugglers who carried out the Jerusalem operation are empty baloons directed at the Zionist population after failing once more in Jerusalem and in an attempt to again cover up the corruption charges that have arisen once more. The demolition of homes and the policy of collective punishment by the occupation and its soldiers have never succeeded in smothering the spirit of resistance or breaking the popular support of the masses of our people. Instead, these attacks only fuel the flame of intifada and resistance.

The PFLP saluted the steadfastness of the Paletinian people in occupied Jerusalem and Deir Abu Mashaal village who continue to act to confront the crimes of the occupation. It called on the Palestinian masses to support their steadfastness by acting to break the siege on the city and the village, calling on all to turn any home demolitions into a battle with the enemy to prevent and stop this policy and expose it before the world. The aim of this policy is an attempt to break the will of the masses and weaken their embrace of resistance.

The Front also urged the Palestinian, Arab and international media to display the images of repression, abuse and closure on the steadfast village of Deir Abu Mashaal.

The Front warned the Zionist enemy that for every demolished home in Deir Abu Mashaal, Palestinian fighters will emerge from the rubble of these homes to respond to the crime as occurred in the courageous Promise of al-Buraq operation.

The PFLP emphasized its deepest greetings of pride for the families of the martyrs, their mothers in particular, for their steadfastness and national and human pride and strength.

Film review: "All Eyez on Me"

Mon, 2017-06-19 16:01

Houston, TX - In the last six months, there have been a few really good pro-Black films: Moonlight, Get Out, and Sleight. The most recent addition to the list of Black Lives Matter era films is director Benny Boom's All Eyez on Me, a movie that chronicles the life of rapper Tupac Shakur. Unlike some films about famous rappers such as Get Rich or Die Trying (50-Cent) and 8 Mile (Eminem), All Eyez on Me has a strong focus on the political dimension of Tupac's music. It also gives a beautiful portrait of his life and the incredible passion with which he made great hip hop music.

The film begins with a voiceover giving a stirring speech about the fight against racist discrimination and the struggle for Black liberation. After the opening credits, it starts with a scene of a Black Panther rally, in which we see Tupac's mother, Afeni Shakur, being released from prison after doing time for her political activities. The first few scenes highlight his mother’s political commitment in the Black Panther Party, and also focus on his stepfather’s role in the Republic of New Afrika (RNA) organization. There is an interesting scene, in which Tupac is attending a class about African-American history taught by his stepfather Mutulu Shakur at the Republic of New Afrika school. He tells the youth, "You must be willing to live for something, and you must be willing to die for something." The film then follows the way that Tupac put this principle into action by committing his life to making socially-conscious hip hop music.

Throughout the film, All Eyez on Me tries to draw a historical continuity between the Black Liberation Movement of the sixties and Tupac's music of the nineties. There is one scene in which Tupac's mother states that her son is a new Black leader and that his music is a new movement for the liberation of Black people. In the film, Tupac continually emphasizes how his music can allow oppressed people a voice to directly discuss their struggles and empower them to resist against this oppression. There is one scene in which Tupac stands up against the owners of Interscope Records because they demand he tone down his music to make it more marketable (particularly criticizing his song Brenda’s Got a Baby). Director Benny Boom depicts Tupac as someone who put his principles before money and fame, with the intent of inspiring change through his music.

The film also shows how the FBI will go to great lengths to silence revolutionaries who fight for the liberation of oppressed people. In the first part of the film, there is a scene in which Tupac's father is on the front of a newspaper as a wanted man, and his mother is harassed and followed by FBI agents. There is a scene in which his home is raided by the FBI, who arrest his father for his political activities and bring about false charges against him. I found this scene to be disturbing, as it reminded me of my fellow comrades in the anti-war movement who had their homes raided by the FBI in 2010 and continue to face political repression. The film emphasizes the terrible brutality of the FBI agents and the police.

Once Tupac is famous, his mother warns him that the state will go to great lengths to silence him, both through direct repression and through promoting a destructive lifestyle. Throughout the film, we see the police harassing Tupac, we follow him in prison and witness the crimes that the police commit against him, and see how the bourgeois media continually tried to ruin his career. The film tries to show how Tupac stood by his principles and remained a good person even when many were trying to destroy him.

All Eyez on Me gives a very accurate depiction of his life, his path to becoming a successful rapper, and the struggles he faced throughout his life. Demetrius Shipp Jr. does a great job acting as Tupac, and even resembles him - some scenes it looks as if Tupac had risen back from the dead. All Eyez on Me is a must-see for everyone, whether one is a Tupac fan or not.

 

Chicago protest slams acquittal of the cop that killed Philando Castile in Minnesota

Sun, 2017-06-18 22:32

Chicago, IL - 500 people gathered in Chicago’s Washington Park June 18 to protest the acquittal of the cop that killed Philando Castile in Minnesota. The marchers began with a rally at the location where Ronald “Ronnieman” Johnson was shot in the back by Chicago police in October 2014.

Called by Black Lives Matter (BLM), the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, and the Resist Reimagine Rebuild (R3) Coalition, the action included a number of victims of police crimes, including Ronnieman’s mother, Dorothy Holmes. BLM and Ronnieman’s family has renamed the park Ronald Johnson Park in his memory.

Kofi Ademola Xola of BLM told the crowd that they had originally planned an event for this Sunday because it is Father’s Day. They wanted to uplift the memory of Ronald Johnson, the father of five children; Philando Castile, the father of one child; and all the other murder victims of police crimes whose children have to grow up without their fathers.

Barbara Ransby of the R3 coalition, expressed solidarity with the family of Philando. She said, “We demand justice for the family, but we know that justice isn’t simply convicting one bad cop. There will be another killer cop after this one.”

Frank Chapman of the Alliance said, “Some people say they are tired of marching. We can’t get tired of marching, because we’re not going to get justice from this system until we, the people, bring about justice.”

Both speakers made mention that they had just come from the memorial service of Josephine Wyatt, a founder and leader in the Chicago Alliance.

People along the street joined in the march. The chants raised included, “Black lives matter” and “What do we want? CPAC! When do we want it? Now!” CPAC stands for the Civilian Police Accountability Council, legislation for community control of the police that the movement has introduced into the Chicago city council.

Massive protest underway protesting verdict in case of Philando Castile

Fri, 2017-06-16 21:57

St. Paul, MN – A massive protest is underway at the Minnesota State Capitol building, tonight, June 16, in response to the not guilty verdict in the case of Philando Castile. Castile was killed by Saint Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez.

The #Justice4Philando Emergency Unity Response was initiated by Black Lives Matter Twin Cities Metro, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Justice Occupation for Philando, and Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar. Endorsers include Black Saint Paul, Blue LIES Matter, Cop Watch Minneapolis, MN Neighbors for Justice, Movement Support Network, Native Lives Matter, New North and Philando's Peace Garden.

Day of verdict: Justice4Philando emergency response set

Wed, 2017-06-14 10:39

St. Paul, MN - The world is watching Saint Paul, Minnesota this week, hoping that the family of Philando Castile will get justice for his death at the hands of Saint Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez. In the Twin Cities, community organizations have come to together to hold a unified response, whatever the verdict. A march and rally will take place at the Minnesota State Capitol building, 7 p.m., on the day the verdict is announced.

“While we hope for a guilty verdict, we also know that justice has been denied to countless families in this same position. If Yanez is found guilty, the verdict will be celebrated as a victory for justice, that was won only because the world demanded it,” organizers said in a statement. It continued, “If the jury fails to return a guilty verdict, this case will serve as the latest proof that the so-called justice system refuses to deliver justice to victims of police terror.”

Just hours after the event was posted, hundreds had committed to attend. The #Justice4Philando Emergency Unity Response was initiated by Black Lives Matter Twin Cities Metro, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Justice Occupation for Philando, and Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar. Endorsers include Black Saint Paul, Blue LIES Matter, Cop Watch Minneapolis, MN Neighbors for Justice, Movement Support Network, Native Lives Matter, New North and Philando's Peace Garden.

Day of verdict: Justice4Philando emergency response set

Wed, 2017-06-14 10:39

St. Paul, MN - The world is watching Saint Paul, Minnesota this week, hoping that the family of Philando Castile will get justice for his death at the hands of Saint Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez. In the Twin Cities, community organizations have come to together to hold a unified response, whatever the verdict. A march and rally will take place at the Minnesota State Capitol building, 7 p.m., on the day the verdict is announced.

“While we hope for a guilty verdict, we also know that justice has been denied to countless families in this same position. If Yanez is found guilty, the verdict will be celebrated as a victory for justice, that was won only because the world demanded it,” organizers said in a statement. It continued, “If the jury fails to return a guilty verdict, this case will serve as the latest proof that the so-called justice system refuses to deliver justice to victims of police terror.”

Just hours after the event was posted, hundreds had committed to attend. The #Justice4Philando Emergency Unity Response was initiated by Black Lives Matter Twin Cities Metro, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Justice Occupation for Philando, and Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar. Endorsers include Black Saint Paul, Blue LIES Matter, Cop Watch Minneapolis, MN Neighbors for Justice, Movement Support Network, Native Lives Matter, New North and Philando's Peace Garden.

Protest demands New Hope fire cop who questioned Ariel Vences-Lopez’s immigration status on public transit

Tue, 2017-06-13 23:57

New Hope, MN - Protesters packed the June 12 city council work session in New Hope, a suburb of Minneapolis, to demand that the city fire police officer Andy Lamers. Until recently, in addition to his job in New Hope, Lamers also had a part-time job as a police officer with Metro Transit, which operates public transit in the Twin Cities area.

However, Lamers was forced to resign from Metro Transit Police when a video of him surfaced in which he questioned a light rail passenger about his immigration status asking, "Are you here illegally?" The action in New Hope, called for by Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB), asserted Lamers’ resignation from Metro Transit Police was not enough, that officers who blatantly racially profile people shouldn’t be police officers anywhere.

The incident prompting the protest occurred on May 14 and gained national attention after a video posted to Facebook went viral. In the video, officer Lamers can be seen asking a light rail passenger, later identified as Ariel Vences-Lopez, “Are you here illegally?” during what appears to be a routine fare check.

After protesters spoke out forcefully at the May 24 Met Council meeting and forced the authorities to come clean with the whole story, it became clear that after the video snippet showing officer Lamers questioning Vences-Lopez ended, he was then removed from the train, tased and arrested under suspicion of committing fare evasion and obstructing an officer. When Vences-Lopez was in custody at the Hennepin County Jail, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) put a hold on him, after which he was transferred to ICE for deportation. Since finding out ICE had Vences-Lopez, immigrant rights activists and lawyers have scrambled to try to stop his deportation while also campaigning to end Metro Transit police’s relationship with immigration enforcement and holding the officer in question accountable.

Organizers next plan to attend and speak at the June 14 meeting of the Metropolitan Council. The speak-out, called by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC) will demand that Metro Transit police officers stop carrying out immigration enforcement on trains and buses, and that they stop cooperation with ICE and the Department of Homeland Security on trains and buses.

Protest demands New Hope fire cop who questioned Ariel Vences-Lopez’s immigration status on public transit

Tue, 2017-06-13 23:57

New Hope, MN - Protesters packed the June 12 city council work session in New Hope, a suburb of Minneapolis, to demand that the city fire police officer Andy Lamers. Until recently, in addition to his job in New Hope, Lamers also had a part-time job as a police officer with Metro Transit, which operates public transit in the Twin Cities area.

However, Lamers was forced to resign from Metro Transit Police when a video of him surfaced in which he questioned a light rail passenger about his immigration status asking, "Are you here illegally?" The action in New Hope, called for by Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB), asserted Lamers’ resignation from Metro Transit Police was not enough, that officers who blatantly racially profile people shouldn’t be police officers anywhere.

The incident prompting the protest occurred on May 14 and gained national attention after a video posted to Facebook went viral. In the video, officer Lamers can be seen asking a light rail passenger, later identified as Ariel Vences-Lopez, “Are you here illegally?” during what appears to be a routine fare check.

After protesters spoke out forcefully at the May 24 Met Council meeting and forced the authorities to come clean with the whole story, it became clear that after the video snippet showing officer Lamers questioning Vences-Lopez ended, he was then removed from the train, tased and arrested under suspicion of committing fare evasion and obstructing an officer. When Vences-Lopez was in custody at the Hennepin County Jail, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) put a hold on him, after which he was transferred to ICE for deportation. Since finding out ICE had Vences-Lopez, immigrant rights activists and lawyers have scrambled to try to stop his deportation while also campaigning to end Metro Transit police’s relationship with immigration enforcement and holding the officer in question accountable.

Organizers next plan to attend and speak at the June 14 meeting of the Metropolitan Council. The speak-out, called by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC) will demand that Metro Transit police officers stop carrying out immigration enforcement on trains and buses, and that they stop cooperation with ICE and the Department of Homeland Security on trains and buses.

Racist gets off with plea deal in shooting of Justice 4 Jamar protesters

Tue, 2017-06-13 09:42

Minneapolis, MN - Judge Hilary Caliguiri approved a deal today, June 12, between Hennepin County prosecutors and Nathan Gustavsson, one of the white supremacists involved in the November 2015 shooting of five Black men at a protest demanding justice for Jamar Clark.

News of a deal was leaked on Thursday, June 10, and today, the terms were released. Gustavsson pled guilty to one count of 2nd degree riot, and one count of aiding an offender after the fact. The deal means he will serve six to eight months jail time and pay $300 in court costs, followed by five to ten years’ probation.

Defense attorney Robert Jones said he will argue for a sentence that will allow Gustavsson's offenses to be reduced from felonies to misdemeanors after fulfilling the terms of his plea agreement.

“I’m tired of this white supremacy,” said Cameron Clark. Cameron was an outspoken participant in the demonstrations following the murder of his unarmed cousin, Jamar, by Minneapolis police. He was one of the victims of the violent racist attack, and objected to the light charges in this case from the outset. Allen Scarsella, the shooter, was convicted on several counts of assault, and related charges, but not attempted murder and no hate crimes charges. He was also not charged with endangering the lives of the many people present when he emptied his gun into the crowd that night. Gustavsson was not hit with the same charges, despite the fact that, in the words of Cameron Clark, “If it was me and my friend, we would both get charged.” The other two racists with Scarsella and Gustavsson had the charges against them dropped entirely.

Today’s plea was made over the objections of many community members who called in to oppose the deal, as well as Cameron Clark, who was so upset that he hung up on prosecutors when they called to notify him of the deal.

When prosecutors called Cameron to tell him about the deal, he challenged them on the assertion that Gustavsson was “an accessory after the fact.” Gustavsson was with the now-convicted shooter, Allen Scarsella, throughout the attack. Cameron learned that Gustavsson had also come to the protest armed. A text from Gustavsson just days before the attack, read at Scarsella’s trial, also shows his full participation in the events that sent five men to the hospital. He wrote, “Dude, if this shit is going down on Monday, we need to get down there. I could rile so much shit up.”

The shooting came after video threats were posted online, filled with racist language. Videos were made after an earlier trip by Scarsella to the Jamar protest, where he and another racist wore masks, waved guns and heaped racist slurs into the camera in their car before walking through the crowd gathered outside the Minneapolis Fourth Precinct police station. Having watched those videos, Gustavsson went with Scarsella, knowing exactly what his racist friend had in mind. The two shared a love of guns, and a white supremacist outlook. They fled the scene together and Gustavsson admitted today to conspiring with Joe Backman to slow down the subsequent investigation by attempting to hide video evidence of the attack. Gustavsson was a part of the violent racist plan, from start to finish.

When Gustavsson testified for Scarsella in January, he was strident, insisting that they had done nothing wrong, that the armed white men feared for their lives, and that the shooting was justified. Despite this having been in Calguiri’s court room, just a few months ago, she took his willingness accept losing his gun rights as a justification for this lenient deal. The charges in the plea are felonies and would strip him of his gun rights, unless they are later reduced to misdemeanors. Gustavsson did not express any regret or shed any tears in the courtroom today.

Final sentencing Is scheduled for July 19, at 8:30 a.m. Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar will meet this week to plan a response, and support Cameron in the other victims in their demand for justice.

Racist gets off with plea deal in shooting of Justice 4 Jamar protesters

Tue, 2017-06-13 09:42

Minneapolis, MN - Judge Hilary Caliguiri approved a deal today, June 12, between Hennepin County prosecutors and Nathan Gustavsson, one of the white supremacists involved in the November 2015 shooting of five Black men at a protest demanding justice for Jamar Clark.

News of a deal was leaked on Thursday, June 10, and today, the terms were released. Gustavsson pled guilty to one count of 2nd degree riot, and one count of aiding an offender after the fact. The deal means he will serve six to eight months jail time and pay $300 in court costs, followed by five to ten years’ probation.

Defense attorney Robert Jones said he will argue for a sentence that will allow Gustavsson's offenses to be reduced from felonies to misdemeanors after fulfilling the terms of his plea agreement.

“I’m tired of this white supremacy,” said Cameron Clark. Cameron was an outspoken participant in the demonstrations following the murder of his unarmed cousin, Jamar, by Minneapolis police. He was one of the victims of the violent racist attack, and objected to the light charges in this case from the outset. Allen Scarsella, the shooter, was convicted on several counts of assault, and related charges, but not attempted murder and no hate crimes charges. He was also not charged with endangering the lives of the many people present when he emptied his gun into the crowd that night. Gustavsson was not hit with the same charges, despite the fact that, in the words of Cameron Clark, “If it was me and my friend, we would both get charged.” The other two racists with Scarsella and Gustavsson had the charges against them dropped entirely.

Today’s plea was made over the objections of many community members who called in to oppose the deal, as well as Cameron Clark, who was so upset that he hung up on prosecutors when they called to notify him of the deal.

When prosecutors called Cameron to tell him about the deal, he challenged them on the assertion that Gustavsson was “an accessory after the fact.” Gustavsson was with the now-convicted shooter, Allen Scarsella, throughout the attack. Cameron learned that Gustavsson had also come to the protest armed. A text from Gustavsson just days before the attack, read at Scarsella’s trial, also shows his full participation in the events that sent five men to the hospital. He wrote, “Dude, if this shit is going down on Monday, we need to get down there. I could rile so much shit up.”

The shooting came after video threats were posted online, filled with racist language. Videos were made after an earlier trip by Scarsella to the Jamar protest, where he and another racist wore masks, waved guns and heaped racist slurs into the camera in their car before walking through the crowd gathered outside the Minneapolis Fourth Precinct police station. Having watched those videos, Gustavsson went with Scarsella, knowing exactly what his racist friend had in mind. The two shared a love of guns, and a white supremacist outlook. They fled the scene together and Gustavsson admitted today to conspiring with Joe Backman to slow down the subsequent investigation by attempting to hide video evidence of the attack. Gustavsson was a part of the violent racist plan, from start to finish.

When Gustavsson testified for Scarsella in January, he was strident, insisting that they had done nothing wrong, that the armed white men feared for their lives, and that the shooting was justified. Despite this having been in Calguiri’s court room, just a few months ago, she took his willingness accept losing his gun rights as a justification for this lenient deal. The charges in the plea are felonies and would strip him of his gun rights, unless they are later reduced to misdemeanors. Gustavsson did not express any regret or shed any tears in the courtroom today.

Final sentencing Is scheduled for July 19, at 8:30 a.m. Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar will meet this week to plan a response, and support Cameron in the other victims in their demand for justice.

Pages