Category events

After Grand Jury Decision in Shooting Death of Mike Brown, Organized Communities Vow Nonviolent Protest in Ferguson & Beyond

[FERGUSON, MO]  At 8PM CT, Ferguson Action issued the following statement in response to the St. Louis County Grand Jury’s failure to levy charges against Darren Wilson for the August 9th killing of Michael Brown Jr.

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“We are devastated that the grand jury has failed to indict Darren Wilson in the killing of Mike Brown,” said Montague Simmons Chair of The Organization for Black Struggle.  “All this community wanted was simple justice. Wilson killed an unarmed man and should face a trial by jury. Instead, he benefited from a highly unusual grand jury process, led by a prosecutor with whom the local community pleaded to step down or be removed from the case. Mike Brown was a young man with his entire life ahead of him. He could have been any of us. In fact, since his murder, we have seen more police killings of unarmed Black people. In the last week alone, the killings of Akai Gurley in New York City and Tamir Rice in Cleveland have served as stark reminders that the problems with policing in Ferguson are rampant throughout the country.”

“In this moment, we all have a choice to make,” said Tef Poe, Co-Founder of Hands Up United, “We can stand by while police and their apologists in prosecutors’ offices and city halls continue to kill, harass and criminalize our communities – or stand up in this moment to demand that our elected officials lead and finally deal with our broken policing system.”

Cecily McMillan Released from Rikers Island: Uses Platform to Challenge Systemic Injustices Incarcerated Women Face Daily

[NEW YORK, NY] Imprisoned Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan was released from Rikers Island on Wednesday morning, July 2nd, after serving 58 days. She spoke publicly at a 1pm press conference outside the jail’s outer gates on Hazen Street.

Cecily McMillan Presser

This was the first time she was able to speak publicly after testifying in her trial. Cecily’s controversial trial garnered international media attention. She was supported by elected officials, community leaders, and celebrities. While serving her term at Rikers Island she was visited by members of Russian rock group Pussy Riot, themselves unjustly imprisoned in 2012.

The Following is Cecily’s Statement as read to members of the press at 1pm EST:

“Fifty nine days ago, The City and State of New York labeled me a criminal. Millionaires and billionaire–who had a vested interest in silencing a peaceful protest about the growing inequalities in America–coerced the justice system, manipulated the evidence, and suddenly I became dangerous and distinguished from law-abiding citizens. On May 5th, the jury delivered its verdict, the judge deemed me undesirable, and officers drove me across that bridge and barred me within. On the outside, I had spent my time fighting for freedom and rights. On the inside, I discovered a world where words like freedom and rights don’t even exist in the first place. I walked in with one movement, and return to you a representative of another. That bridge right there, that divides the city from Rikers Island, divides two worlds – today I hope to bring them closer together. Crossing back over, I have a message to you from several concerned citizens currently serving time at the Rose M. Singer Center.

FBI Releases Nelson Mandela Documents in Response to MIT Student’s FOIA Lawsuit: 3 Takeaways From the Redacted Documents

[CAMBRIDGE , MA]   As revealed in an exclusive report by Jason Leopold for Al Jazeera America, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate Ryan Shapiro has received the first batch of documents from the FBI as part of Shapiro’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records on Nelson Mandela. The released records largely deal with Mandela’s historic 1990 visit to the U.S. shortly after his release from 27 years in prison for anti-apartheid activities. Though what’s missing from these documents is often as illuminative as what’s disclosed, there’s still a lot here.

Nelson Mandela 1990 visit

Shapiro, a FOIA specialist, is an historian of the political functioning of national security and the policing of dissent. His pathbreaking FOIA work has already led the FBI to declare his MIT dissertation research a threat to national security. Shapiro is also suing the NSA, CIA, and DIA over those agencies’ failure to comply with his FOIA requests for records on Mandela. Shapiro is represented by FOIA specialist attorney Jeffrey Light.

Three key takeaways from the FBI’s release of documents to Shapiro:

Laura Poitras & Edward Snowden Awarded 2014 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling

[WASHINGTON, DC]  Today, The Ridenhour Prizes announced that Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras will be jointly awarded the 2014 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling for exposing the US government’s vast warrantless surveillance operation. The revelations sparked a debate on the constitutionality of mass surveillance, and how technology has transformed the parameters of individual privacy.

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In reflecting upon its decision, the awards committee said, “We have selected Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras for their work in exposing the NSA’s illegal and unconstitutional bulk collection of the communications of millions of people living in the United States. Their act of courage was undertaken at great personal risk and has sparked a critical and transformative debate about mass surveillance in a country where privacy is considered a constitutional right. We particularly wanted to salute the role that Poitras has played in this story, as we feel that her contribution has not been adequately recognized by the American media.

Trial Resumes Monday for Occupy Activist Cecily McMillan: Faces 7yrs in Prison After Beating by NYPD Left Her Unconscious

[NEW YORK, NY]  After two years of delays, trial will begin for Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan.  Set for this Monday, April 7th at 9:30am at 100 Centre St Room 1116 Part 41, Cecily’s case marks the last ongoing Occupy trial.  On March 17th, 2012 Cecily was sexually assaulted by a plainclothes NYPD officer and then beaten unconscious by police when she attempted to leave a gathering marking the 6 month anniversary of the inception of Occupy Wall Street.  In the wake of this attack she endured, Cecily faces a charge of 2nd degree assault on a police officer.

cecily mcmillanCecily McMillan  |  Illustration by Molly Crabapple

The heavy-hand of Cecily’s prosecuting attorney has led some activists to speculate that her political organizing within Occupy Wall Street plays 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 Cecily’s arrest. Cecily’s firm commitment to nonviolence makes these charges even more absurd.