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Release Kevin "Rashid" Johnson From Solitary Confinement ImmediatelyKevin “Rashid” Johnson has been a Virginia prisoner (#1007485) since 1990. During his imprisonment, he became a human rights advocate and a journalist. His journalistic work in particular exposes abuses by prison administration and staff. His related steps toward litigation have resulted in his being “interstate compacted” or transferred to prisons in different states. Currently, Rashid is being held in solitary confinement with no legitimate security justification at Sussex I State Prison in Virginia. Between 2012 and June of 2018, Kevin "Rashid" Johnson was transferred to prisons in three other states (Oregon, Texas, and Florida) before being returned to Virginia. He was kept in solitary confinement in Texas and Florida, where he witnessed and suffered many acts of abuse by prison staff. All this, in reprisal for his political and journalistic activity. Each state prison transfer has subjected Rashid to serious abuses -- including, while in northern Florida last January, being caged for over a week in a freezing cold cell without heat or a blanket. Over the years, Rashid has had his life threatened by corrections officers and has endured explicit, violent retaliation for exercising his First Amendment right of protected free speech. Rashid expects to be transferred again soon and fears being subjected to extreme isolation. Kevin Rashid Johnson does not call for violence or illegal activity and has not been charged with anything of the kind during his imprisonment. He is not a threat to the Virginia Department of Corrections – he is an imprisoned journalist and human rights advocate – and should be released from solitary confinement immediately. Solitary confinement has been increasingly recognized by courts and society as a form of torture. This punitive measure has been imposed on Kevin Johnson not because of any violent conduct on his part but because of his relentless exposure of abuses by prison officials, his willingness to challenge those abuses through the legal system, and his efforts to educate fellow prisoners and encourage them to challenge by peaceful means the unhealthy and humiliating conditions to which they are subjected. Using solitary confinement as a tool to silence someone who exposes prison abuses and advocates for prison reform is a human rights abuse and unconstitutional. We call for the immediate release of Kevin Johnson from solitary confinement and for the VADOC not to transfer him again out of state.
#SaveChristopherYoungIn 2006, 21-year-old Christopher Young was sentenced to death for the 2004 murder of 55-year-old convenience store owner Hasmukhbhai “Hash” Patel. In his 12 years of incarceration, Chris has transformed himself into a thoughtful, peaceful man with a desire to help others. He has committed his final moments to sharing his story of transformation and asking for clemency from death. You can read/watch his story here: http://lawatthemargins.com/death-row-saved-my-life/ “I’m truly sorry for the crime I committed. There’s nothing I can do to bring back Mr. Hash Patel. If I knew taking my life would do that, I’d volunteer for it without any complaints. But that’s not going to do it. I can teach others to think about their actions. I’m sure I can stop something like this from happening again.” – 32-year-old Christopher Young, June 2018 Young’s attorneys are challenging the conviction itself and seeking a new trial based on what they consider a violation of his rights under the “free exercise” clause of the First Amendment and “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Chris’ lawyers claim that religious discrimination occurred during the jury selection process of his trial, and in 2016 over 500 religious leaders signed a statement saying he deserved a new trial. “Unfortunately, the state court issued a ruling saying it is acceptable to exclude someone from serving as a juror in a death penalty trial merely because of the church that person belongs to,” said David R. Dow, Young’s attorney. “We hope the Supreme Court will agree to review the case and reaffirm that our Constitution and our nation’s commitment to religious liberty means that an individual’s membership in a church does not automatically disqualify that person from acting as a juror.” Sadly, the United States Supreme Court turned down Young’s latest appeal in January 2018. In his final days, he seeks clemency. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has the power to recommend clemency. Together, we must send a strong message to the members of the board and to Texas Governor Greg Abbott (who can accept or reject the board's recommendation) that Chris deserves mercy. Take action today to save Christopher Young’s life. Sign the petition.
Demand Rep. Huffman Support Human Rights for Palestinian ChildrenYour Congressional district has a strong tradition of being supportive of human rights and the dignity of all. Introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum in November of last year, this important bill is needed to ensure that US taxpayer money is not used by Israel to commit human rights abuses against Palestinian children under military occupation. According to Defense for Children International-Palestine, Israel is the only country in the world to systematically detain and imprison children through a separate-and-unequal military court system. These courts convict Palestinians in 99.74 percent of cases, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Palestinian children are also systematically ill-treated by Israeli forces during and after their arrest. They suffer “beatings, long-term handcuffing, threats, intimidation, and solitary confinement,” which in some cases amount to “torture,” according to the Department of State. This bill would prohibit any US assistance appropriated to Israel being used to support the military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children in violation of international law. The United States gives Israel more than $3 billion in military aid each year. The least we can do is to ensure that this money is not going to support Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinian children. Your action on this bill has become very urgent. Israel is using massive military force against unarmed protesters in Gaza, killing dozens, terribly wounding hundreds. Clearly identified members of the press have been murdered or wounded by the Israeli military. Children have been killed or wounded. The Israeli military admits “we know where every bullet landed”. Now is not the time for empty platitudes of concern. We demand accountability for US aid to Israel. I strongly urge you to join Bay Area representatives Barbara Lee, Jackie Speier, Ro Khanna, and Anna Eshoo and cosponsor this bill. I look forward to hearing back from you on this matter.
Pass the Equality Act to Protect LGBTQ Americans from DiscriminationWhile the groundbreaking Marriage Equality Act expanded marital protections for LGBTQ people in 2015, there is still much to be done to ensure non-discrimination protections and equal treatment under the law. Federal law and the majority of states lack explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people at work, at school, and elsewhere, leaving them vulnerable to discrimination. In other words, a person can be fired from their job, evicted from their home, denied access to housing, credit, loans, hotel services, and even jury duty on the strict basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other key federal non-discrimination laws to provide clear, explicit federal protection against discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, credit, federally funded programs (including education), and federal jury service. The bill would provide clear, explicit federal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the following six areas: ● Employment: The Equality Act would explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and in the workplace. ● Federally funded programs and activities: Any program that receives federal funds would be prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This provision would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination by institutions that receive federal funds – including schools, hospitals, domestic violence shelters, and police departments. ● Housing: The Equality Act provides explicit protections for LGBTQ people against housing discrimination. ● Public Spaces and Services: LGBTQ people would be protected from discrimination in “public accommodations,” including stores, restaurants, hotels, transportation, and healthcare services. ● Banks and Credit: The Equality Act would explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in credit, financing, and lending. ● Federal Jury Service: The Equality Act would explicitly prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people in selecting federal juries. All LGBTQ Americans deserve a fair chance to live, love and provide for their families without the burden of legalized discrimination. This bill will help ensure that no one is fired, evicted from their home, or denied basic services because of who they are or whom they love. Urge your members of Congress to support this critical piece of legislation. H.R. 2282, The Equality Act https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2282?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22Equality+Act%22%5D%7D&r=1 Human Rights Campaign: Why the Equality Act? https://www.hrc.org/resources/why-the-equality-act
Release Imprisoned Bahraini Human Rights Defender Dr. Abduljalil al-SingaceFrom Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain: Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace is a Bahraini academic, blogger, and human rights defender sentenced to life in prison after he called for democracy during Bahrain’s 2011 Arab Spring protest movement. Along with twelve other leading human rights and political activists that would come to be known as the “Bahrain 13,” Dr. al-Singace was tortured before a military court convicted him on baseless charges stemming from his right to free expression. Despite international criticism and formal calls for reform, civilian courts upheld the “Bahrain 13” rulings and confirmed his life sentence. Now, Dr. al-Singace is spending his 56th birthday in prison – his sixth behind bars since the start of his unjust life sentence. Dr. al-Singace suffers from a number of serious, ongoing health concerns – including post-polio syndrome and sickle-cell anemia – that the Bahraini government has refused to adequately address during his detention. Authorities have consistently denied Dr. al-Singace regular medical treatment and have failed to provide him with surgery required as a result of the torture he suffered in 2011. Prison officials have even denied Dr. al-Singace necessary medical supplies, including rubber stops for the bottom of his crutches. As a consequence, it is difficult for him to walk, and he is prone to slipping and falling on his unstable crutches – avoidable accidents which draw ridicule from prison guards. In recent weeks, Dr. al-Singace and other prominent prisoners of conscience held in Bahrain’s Jau Prison have faced increased harassment, including repeated raids at odd hours which have resulted in the confiscation of nearly all personal effects. Dr. al-Singace has had all books, papers, pens, and materials seized, including the only manuscript of a book he had been authoring during his detention. Though advocates for Dr. al-Singace have issued repeated complaints to Bahraini oversight institutions, the government has taken no action to rectify these issues. Dr. al-Singace has been subjected to torture, arbitrary detention, inhumane and degrading treatment, and life imprisonment – merely for peacefully exercising his right to free opinion and expression. But you can help. Take this opportunity on Dr. al-Singace’s 56th birthday to sign this petition calling for his immediate release, and demanding the Bahraini authorities provide him unrestricted access to adequate medical care. After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends. Please tweet at the Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs (@bahdiplomatic) and the Foreign Minister (@khalidalkhalifa) to call for Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace’s release and for him to be provided proper medical care. Feel free to use the following sample message: #Bahrain human rights defender Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace shouldn’t spend another birthday in prison. @bahdiplomatic @khalidalkhalifa must ensure he is immediately released & given proper medical care! Background from ADHRB: • The Health of Nabeel Rajab and Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace https://www.adhrb.org/2017/06/hrc35-item-3-oral-intervention-health-nabeel-rajab-dr-abduljalil-al-singace/ • High-Profile Political Leaders and Human Rights Defenders Face Ongoing Degradation, Punishment, and Restrictions on Access to Medical Care http://www.adhrb.org/2017/10/high-profile-political-leaders-and-human-rights-defenders-face-ongoing-degradation-punishment-and-restrictions-on-access-to-medical-care/ • No contact for a week: Family fears for Dr. al-Singace’s health http://www.adhrb.org/2016/07/no-contact-week-family-fears-dr-al-singaces-health/ • Urgent Appeal: Release Prisoner of Conscience Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace as Hunger Strike Reaches 160th Day https://www.adhrb.org/2017/10/high-profile-political-leaders-and-human-rights-defenders-face-ongoing-degradation-punishment-and-restrictions-on-access-to-medical-care/ • Champion of Justice: Dr. Abuljalil al-Singace http://www.adhrb.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Champion-of-Justice-Abduljalil-al-Singace.pdf
Support OperationPUSHJanuary 15 marked the beginning of a month-long work stoppage organized by prisoners throughout the Florida Department of Corrections demanding an immediate end to unpaid labor and inhumane working conditions at their facilities. The strike, announced in late December, aims to force corrections officials to pay prison laborers monetary compensation for their work as opposed to “the current slave arrangement,” in which they are paid in time deducted from their sentences. In written statements to news media, the strikers have also demanded increased access to parole, cheaper and more reasonable prices for basic food and hygiene items, voting rights for former felons, and an end to prison-guard brutality. The organized strike began on Martin Luther King Jr. Day — and is named #OperationPUSH, after civil rights leader Jesse Jackson’s 1970s-1990s campaign to improve economic conditions for African Americans. Almost a third of Florida inmates are black, compared with fewer than 17% in the general population. Florida has the nation’s third-largest prison system in the United States, with 97,000 inmates. Prison work inside Florida correctional facilities consists of doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, maintaining the facilities, and even growing food for the inmate population. Before the strike began, one organizer wrote that “[the strike’s] goal is to make the Governor realize that it will cost the state of Florida millions of dollars daily to contract outside companies to come and cook, clean, and handle the maintenance, [which] will cause a total breakdown." Outside of the prison, incarcerated laborers work in “community work squads,” providing free labor to state offices such as the Department of Transportation, the Division of Forestry, and the Department of Environmental Protection. According report by the FDOC, “community work squads” worked over 3.15 million hours in 2017 alone and saved the state more than $38 million in payroll expenses, including flooding and debris cleanup work after Hurricane Irma. Ironically, these same incarcerated workers are barred from employment at the state-level upon release, due to their criminal records. Another incarcerated organizer wrote that Florida prisoners “want to create an environment where someone can do their time, be rehabilitated, and enter into society with some type of hope…that would be helpful for society instead of creating a revolving door where you lock people up and just set them up for failure so that they keep coming back.” In fear of retaliation, these organizers have asked to remain anonymous. One week into the month-long work stoppage, internal sources have reported the participation of strikers in at least eight different Florida facilities in the FDOC. Internal sources have reported that many of these strikers have been placed into solitary confinement by correctional officials. In solidarity with prisoners, marches and protests have been organized throughout the state, and more than 135 civil rights and activist groups, including local chapters of the NAACP and the Florida Women's March, have voiced their support for #OperationPUSH. At a speech at Florida State University, civil rights leader Angela Davis said there is "no better way to keep the legacy of Dr. King alive than by supporting the prisoners' strike." Will you sign the petition to support #OperationPUSH and to demand an immediate end to unpaid labor and inhumane work conditions in Florida prisons? Sources: Movement Against Prison Slavery Ramps Up With OperationPUSH in Florida https://shadowproof.com/2018/01/11/operation-push-movement-against-prison-slavery-florida/ Florida Prisoners Set to Strike January 15th Against Prison Slavery https://itsgoingdown.org/florida-prisoners-set-strike-january-15th-prison-slavery/ Striking Florida Prisoners Thrown in Solitary Confinement, Activists Say http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/striking-operationpush-florida-prisioners-placed-in-solitary-activists-say-10006900
Protect Bethesda African CemeteryThis community built the main thoroughfares in the county. It manufactured building materials and provided the manpower building the bunker under the White House. By around the 1850s free Africans owned property in Bethesda but were confined to a small area by covenants preventing them and Jews from living elsewhere. A community once thrived there. That history has been erased, but needs to be preserved. A museum could provide the archive for that history as well as serve as the vehicle for conveying the story to future generations. Washington Post death notices, County plat and plot maps, oral histories, aerial photos and other historic materials substantiate the existence and location of the cemetery. No documentation of bodies being disinterred has ever been produced. Currently there is a Sector Plan that seeks to place a parking garage and housing units on top of what is now a parking lot that was placed on top of the African Cemetery (allegedly at least in part to prevent erosion from exposing the remains). History of the enslavement of Africans is American history. More importantly, the triumph of Africans against enslavement in a living museum and memorial will be an ongoing testament to these people, their heritage and their legacy.
Tell Charlottesville: No Weapons at RalliesActivists, including nonviolent peace activists, are often forbidden to carry posters on sticks, having to use hollow carboard tubes, at events around the United States. Yet in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017 a group threatening violence and having engaged in it the night before was allowed to assemble in a public space with guns, sticks, and other weaponry. The results were brutal. There is no reason that Charlottesville cannot, under existing laws, do what many other localities do and set the terms of public rallies to forbid the possession of weapons. Here’s an expert legal opinion that forbidding weapons is legal. http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/free-speech-expert-restricting-weapons-at-virginia-rallies-could-be/article_75548987-1529-5deb-ae11-19d2e5a7c9ac.html Here is a report on Richmond, Virginia, forbidding weapons at a rally. http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/state/richmond-police-plan-weapons-ban-at-pro-confederate-protest-saturday/article_db0447fe-c0fc-509c-912d-2b85a0959b1f.html There is nothing to be gained by trying to ban rallies of particular political viewpoints, or by trying to ban all public rallies. Either would be in stark violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no need for new laws. Charlottesville can and must commit to forbidding weapons from rallies. ********** UPDATE: Here's a list of items banned from an event in Gainesville, Florida, with hatemonger Richard Spencer. It includes all conceivable weapons, and even open flames of any kind. http://www.police.ufl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Richard-Spencer-Speaking-Engagement-Prohibited-Items-List.pdf Here's an NBC 29 report on our petition to ban weapons from public rallies in Charlottesville. http://davidswanson.org/petition-asks-charlottesville-to-keep-weapons-out-of-rallies/ It seems to focus on this Virginia state law, which bans loaded guns from public places in a list of localities that does not include Charlottesville. https://www.lawserver.com/law/state/virginia/va-code/virginia_code_18-2-287-4 The intent in citing this seems to be to claim that Virginia state laws allowing "concealed" and "open" carrying of guns cannot be overridden in any way except in the list of localities found in that law. Yet, Richmond, which is in that list, apparently decided it could ban every type of weapon except guns. http://www.richmond.com/news/local/city-of-richmond/richmond-police-say-they-can-t-stop-unpermitted-confederate-rally/article_c25223b6-4d05-54c1-9b88-8289a0dfb90b.html Still, here is a list of weapons banned in Gainesville that nobody in Charlottesville has yet proposed, as far as I know, any justification whatsoever for not banning from the fascist rally in August or any future rally: simulated firearms, tasers, knives, sharp objects Lighters, matches, torches or open flame Any athletic equipment or other items which could be used as a weapon Masks of any kind, goggles, bandanas/scarfs, neck gaitersFlag Poles, bats, clubs, sticks (including sticks on signs) Aerosol/pressurized cans, mace Chains, padlocks, bicycle locks Shields Fireworks Backpacks, bags, purses, clutches Signs made of anything other than cloth, paper, foam core, cardboard Cans, metal or glass containers, premixed beverages or alcoholic beverages water bottles of any kind Perhaps some of the items above go overboard. Certainly the rest of the list not reproduced here does. And of course it seems crazy to ban non-gun weapons while allowing guns. But we are asking the City of Charlottesville to ban guns, knives, and sticks, and it has yet to produce any excuse for not banning knives and sticks. And the city will only be moved to pursue banning guns from public rallies if we keep up the pressure.
Empire State Realty Trust: Stop Price Gouging NYC's WBAI Pacifica Radio and Profiteering off 9/11/01My son, police officer John W. Perry, was killed on 9/11/2001 while attempting to save a woman’s life when the South Tower collapsed on him and countless others that horrific day. The pain and impact of 9/11 were felt by local businesses and people throughout the New York City area. One of those impacts was that your property, the Empire State Building, became one of the few places for local TV and Radio to transmit from since all antennas on the Twin Towers were destroyed. One of those stations, Pacifica's WBAI, has been part of the fabric of our great city for decades and now is on the verge of shutting down because you continue to price gouge and take advantage of the station by repeatedly jacking up the monthly lease payments. You took advantage of this when WBAI's antenna tower lease was renewed in 2005 by making the license fees under the lease increase by more than four times the rate of inflation. That is unconscionable. WBAI management went to Empire State Realty Trust three years ago, asking that you accept the market rate for antenna tower leases because WBAI could not afford the large annual increase in payments in the lease, but never got an answer. This station has always been one of the feelings of pride of our city and beyond - providing a platform for our local elected officials and NYC’s best and brightest. For decades, WBAI has fearlessly served the public with independent news, music, and public affairs that other stations won't let you hear. My son did not risk his life for you and Empire State Realty Trust to profit off of it. It is not the New York Way. Sincerely, Patricia J. Perry, Seaford, New York
Stop the Dakota Access pipelineThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had failed to conduct a proper environmental and cultural impact study. ... The Standing Rock Sioux tribe believes that the pipeline would put the Missouri River, the water source for the reservation, and the local environment at risk.
You Must Impeach Trump for War Crimes & Bust the Military/Industrial Complex!Our country was founded on the idea that our government would be instituted under the “rule of law” rather than the political whims of kings and queens as England was ruled in the 1700’s. Our Constitution states Congress must pass a declaration of war before the US military and president can take action against another nation, except in the case America is attacked by another nation. America has NOT been attacked by any of the nations in which our military or CIA forces are fighting today. Furthermore, no declarations of war have been approved by Congress. Thus these wars are illegal under the American Constitution and laws. They are illegal under the UN Charter and various treaties America has signed. Mr. Trump’s threatening preemptive nuclear war and aggression against N. Korea and threatening war of aggression against Venezuela are established war crimes. Trillions of dollars have been spent illegally drowning our Nation in debt and prohibiting the domestic public investments necessary to help our people and environment. Today we have a vast complex comprised of military/industrial/intelligence/elected officials. This complex is an old boys club with each group helping the other get public tax dollars and get richer becoming ever more powerful. This complex spends trillions of dollars on preparation for wars, on actual illegal wars of aggression and sends millions of American soldiers into harm’s way. The result of these illegal wars has been: millions of people have died, been wounded or made ill or homeless by these Wars on Terror. Thousands of American troops have died and hundreds of thousands wounded physically, mentally or emotionally. We must break the back of this “complex.” The impeachment and removal from office of President Trump for war crimes will initiate, hopefully, the dismantling and demise of this “complex” by Congress and future administrations. Why? Because the next president Vice President Pence, or another person, will have to obey the rule of law or he/she will be the next person impeached. Future presidents will think twice before they commit illegal actions. Additionally, once the president has been impeached, the following impeachments of military and intelligence leaders for their violations of their oath of office and the laws of our land will become easier. The American military/industrial/intelligence/elected official complex is possibly the greatest threat to world peace and to the future of America that exists. It must be dismantled and the perpetrators punished and removed from power. We, the below members of Veterans for Peace, are co-sponsors of this petition. We urge you to please sign the petition, share it with your friends and hopefully help save our future! Peace! Philip Anderson, VFP Chapter 80 Duluth-Superior, WI US Army 1975-78 retired-Army & Navy Reserves Buzz Davis, VFP Ch. 13 Tucson, AZ, US Army 1967-70 S. Korea Kay Davis, Assoc. Member VFP Ch. 13 Tucson, AZ Brad Geyer, Ch. 175 Janesville, WI USAF 1989-93 WI ANG 1993-03 Gulf War Dan Luker, VFP Ch. 9 Boston, MA, US Army 1968-71 Vietnam John Spitzberg, Chs. 099/160, Willow, AK, US Army & Air Force 1958-72 Germany Jean Rawson, Assoc. Member VFP Ch. 25 Madison, WI Joshua Shurley, VFP Ch. 180 Fresno, CA, US Army 1993-01 Carroll Nast, VFP Ch. 122 Colfax, CA, USAF 1969-79 Vietnam Wayne Beverly, VFP Udonthani, Thailand USMC Sgt-Vietnam 1966-67 Paul Gessler, VFP Ch. 178 Northern CO USAF 1970-73 ICBM Support Jim Wohlgemuth, VFP Nashville, TN George Newell, Pres. VFP Ch. 120 Boulder, CO USMC 1968-1973 VFP Chapter 120 Boulder, CO Daryl K. Sherman, VFP Ch. 25 Madison, WI US Army Special Forces Sgt. 1956-62 Berlin 60-62 Cynthia Heil, Assoc. Member, VFP Ch. 099 Asheville, NC