[GENEVA, SWITZERLAND] The 1970 shooting of unarmed students at Kent State University will for the first time be brought before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva on March 10-14, 2014. Laurel Krause, whose sister Allison was among those killed at Kent State, will address the UNHRC at its 4th Periodic Review on Human Rights in America. She will be representing the Kent State Truth Tribunal (KSTT) that she founded to pursue truth and accountability for the Kent State shootings.
The Kent State Truth Tribunal (KSTT) is seeking US government accountability for the killing of four unarmed students and the injury of nine others by US military personnel on May 4, 1970 at a Kent State University anti-Vietnam war rally. The Kent State killings gained national attention in 1970 leading to mass protests and student strikes across the United States. Witnesses and historians have asserted a pronounced role by the FBI before and during the shootings, and command responsibility that pointed to Ohio governor James Rhodes’ collusion. In response to the surge of activism following Kent State, on May 5, 1970 President Nixon said: “This should remind us all once again that when dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy. It is my hope that this tragic and unfortunate incident will strengthen the determination of all the nation’s campuses, administrators, faculty and students alike to stand firmly for the right which exists in this country of peaceful dissent and just as strong against the resort to violence as a means of such expression.”
[NEW YORK, NY] Activists will gather for a second candlelight vigil on Monday, March 10 at 6PM outside the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in lower Manhattan [150 Park Row and Pearl St]. These monthly vigils are organized by a critical new campaign titled No Separate Justice (NSJ). Monday’s vigil focuses on the unjust prosecution and imprisonment of Tarek Mehanna. Launched on January 7th, 2014 NSJ aims to expose and to work towards ending patterns of human rights and civil liberties abuses created by the Department of Justice under the auspices of the US’s “War on Terror.”
NSJ vigils are held on the first Monday night of every month outside the MCC., a federal penitentiary where people accused of terrorism-related offenses are held for years in solitary confinement, even before they have been tried.These inhumane conditions are not unique to the MCC. In an effort to shine a light on and end the pattern of human rights and civil liberties abuses happening in “War on Terror” cases, the No Separate Justice Campaign brings together community groups, academics, family members and human rights and civil liberties organizations including Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Council On American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-New York, and Educators for Civil Liberties.
[New York, NY] Two years ago today, 17 year old Trayvon Martin was gunned down in Sanford, FL, triggering public outcry over “Stand Your Ground” laws. Introduced as model legislation in 2004 by the American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC), Florida became the first state to pass an explicit “Stand Your Ground” law. Since 2004 similar bills have been passed in over 30 states. Until the Sanford tragedy that left Trayvon slain, ALEC and its model legislation remained grossly underreported.
Since the shooting, a groundswell of grassroots activism has not only shone a light onto what ALEC is but has turned the once elite legislative council into a pariah. Color of Change was instrumental in making this happen. The following is a statement issued this morning from Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of Color of Change.
“Two years ago on this day, Trayvon Martin was murdered in cold blood while walking home, and we are deeply saddened that Trayvon’s family did not receive the justice they deserved.
[DALLAS, TX] The curious case of Barrett Brown —a freelance journalist and satirist, turned political prisoner— has captivated thousands in the lead-up to what many are calling a “show trial” slated to take place in Dallas, TX, later this year. In an open letter published this morning (and attached below), Icelandic MP, Birgitta Jonsdottir claims the charges against Brown are part of a larger ”unjust war on whistleblowers, journalists, and information activists.” Brown, who has been incarcerated since September 12, 2012, is facing three separate indictments carrying a sum of 17 federal charges, each related to his work with Project PM (a crowdsourced journalism initiative aimed at shedding light on private contractors in the intelligence industry.) Brown’s charges, should he be sentenced to them consecutively, have him facing 105 years in Federal prison.
At the core of these charges is an argument that Brown’s alleged conduct of linking to, and editorialized upon, documents leaked by others to an unrelated 3rd party is tantamount to the leaking itself and henceforth constitutes a criminal violation of fraud and abuse. This controversial contention has triggered a groundswell of support from press freedom foundations and activists that see Brown’s case as a canary in the coal mine of permissible internet speech. From occupying recent monologs in the popular Netfilx political series, House of Cards, to charming readers of his popular column in D Magazine, it feels like everyone is talking about Barrett Brown (and rightfully so). Whether or not this attention will translate into a successful challenge to the charges against him remains to be seen, but what is undisputed is that in the weeks, months, and possibly years ahead, Barrett Brown needs our solidarity. You can learn more about how to support Brown HERE as well as donate to his defense fund HERE.
[NEW YORK, NY] Trial began in Manhattan Criminal Court Monday for Occupy Wall Street activist, Cecily McMillan, who faces 2nd degree assault charges stemming from a 2012 encounter with the NYPD that left her beaten and unconscious. Trial has been postponed until March 3rd due to the introduction of illuminating new evidence. McMillan was brutally arrested on the evening of March 17, 2012 at an event marking the 6-month anniversary of the group’s occupation of Zuccotti Park. The series of events leading up McMillan’s beating was documented extensively by the press, and began with a plainclothes male NYPD officer forcibly grabbing her right breast. McMillan was 23 years old at the time.
McMillan, over the course of her arrest, sustained a violent beating resulting in bruised ribs, a seizure, and myriad cuts and bruises across her body. McMillan was hospitalized for these injuries.
McMillan was later charged with felony assault of a police officer, Assault 2nd degree, a Class D felony in NY, which carries that sentence of up to 7 years in prison. Prosecutors, upon approaching trial, have indicated that they will ask the judge for a maximum sentence of 7 years. Many activists speculate that McMillan’s work as a political organizer has played a role in the prosecutor’s unwavering position. Others attribute the city’s stance to an unwillingness to admit guilt in the grotesque display of police misconduct on the night of McMillan’s arrest.