Prof. Akinyele Umoja Discusses “We Will Shoot Back”


March 27.2013

Professor Akinyele Umoja, chair, African American Studies at Georgia State University discusses his new book: We Will Shoot Back: Armed Self-defense in the Mississippi Freedom Movement. This program was sponsored by the Stone Center and the Bull’s Head Bookstore of UNC at Chapel Hill.
This is part of the presentation Professor Umoja made at Chapel Hill,  length: 30:38
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What Will It Take to Free Our Political Prisoners?

July 16, 2013

By Liz Derias

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), a revolutionary organization based in the u.s. that fights to uphold the self-determination and the human rights of Black people in the world, has been working to free political prisoners for over three decades. The organization has actively worked on the cases of Assata Shakur, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Geronimo ji Jaga Pratt, the San Francisco 8 (SF8), the MOVE 9, the Cuban 5, and more. Additionally, MXGM has worked with the founding Black August Organizing Committee of California to popularize Black August, a month of commemoration and action in support of political prisoners.

Through the heed of political prisoners Assata Shakur and Nehanda Abiodun, MXGM has also taken a lead in inspiring and mobilizing the Hip Hop generation to take action in support of political prisoners, particularly through the annual Black August Concert, which has featured artists such as Talib Kweli, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Erykah Badu, Dead Prez, and others. MXGM works with other leading organizations that have championed action to free political prisoners, such as the National Black United Fund, the Prisoners of Consciousness Committee, the Nation of Islam, and numerous support committees around the world.black august

This article will describe the history and current context of political prisoners in the u.s., the conditions for them while incarcerated, and the organizing strategies employed by MXGM over the years to free them.

The Legacy of COINTELPRO

We cannot discuss the case of political prisoners in the u.s. without having an understanding of COINTELPRO. COINTELPRO, or the Counter Intelligence Program, was the federal government’s secret program during the 1950s-1970s used against many forces of the Black Liberation movement, leftists, and political dissidents in the u.s., including the Chicano Nationalist Movement and the Puerto Rican Independence Movement. It was secret because it was illegal.

Under COINTELPRO, the FBI and local police forces assassinated, arrested, tortured, and framed hundreds of leftists, particularly Black leftists, who were considered to pose the greatest threat to the racist status quo of u.s. society. The tactics of COINTELPRO can be categorized in four main areas: infiltration of organizations, psychological warfare from the outside, harassment through the legal system, and extralegal force and violence, including extrajudicial killing and outright murder. The FBI’s stated motivation for the program was “protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order. Continue reading

How the System Worked – The US v. Trayvon Martin

July 15, 2013, http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/15/the-us-v-trayvon-martin/

by ROBIN D.G. KELLEY

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Senator Rand Paul, Florida State Representative Dennis Baxley (also sponsor of his state’s Stand Your Ground law), along with a host of other Republicans, argued that had the teachers and administrators been armed, those twenty little kids whose lives Adam Lanza stole would be alive today.   Of course, they were parroting the National Rifle Association’s talking points.  The NRA and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the conservative lobbying group responsible for drafting and pushing “Stand Your Ground” laws across the country, insist that an armed citizenry is the only effective defense against imminent threats, assailants, and predators.

But when George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed, teenage pedestrian returning home one rainy February evening from a neighborhood convenience store, the NRA went mute.  Neither NRA officials nor the pro-gun wing of the Republican Party argued that had Trayvon Martin been armed, he would be alive today.  The basic facts are indisputable: Martin was on his way home when Zimmerman began to follow him—first in his SUV, and then on foot.  Zimmerman told the police he had been following this “suspicious-looking” young man.  Martin knew he was being followed and told his friend, Rachel Jeantel, that the man might be some kind of sexual predator.  At some point, Martin and Zimmerman confronted each other, a fight ensued, and in the struggle Zimmerman shot and killed Martin.

Zimmerman pursued Martin.  This is a fact.  Martin could have run, I suppose, but every black man knows that unless you’re on a field, a track, or a basketball court, running is suspicious and could get you a bullet in the back.  The other option was to ask this stranger what he was doing, but confrontations can also be dangerous—especially without witnesses and without a weapon besides a cel phone and his fists.  Florida law did not require Martin to retreat, though it is not clear if he had tried to retreat.  He did know he was in imminent danger.

Where was the NRA on Trayvon Martin’s right to stand his ground?  What happened to their principled position?  Let’s be clear: the Trayvon Martin’s of the world never had that right because the “ground” was never considered theirs to stand on.  Unless black people could magically produce some official documentation proving that they are not burglars, rapists, drug dealers, pimps or prostitutes, intruders, they are assumed to be “up to no good.”  (In the antebellum period, such documentation was called “freedom papers.”)  As Wayne LaPierre, NRA’s executive vice president, succinctly explained their position, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”   Trayvon Martin was a bad guy or at least looked and acted like one.  In our allegedly postracial moment, where simply talking about racism openly is considered an impolitic, if not racist, thing to do, we constantly learn and re-learn racial codes.  The world knows black men are criminal, that they populate our jails and prisons, that they kill each other over trinkets, that even the celebrities among us are up to no good.  Zimmerman’s racial profiling was therefore justified, and the defense consistently employed racial stereotypes and played on racial knowledge to turn the victim into the predator and the predator into the victim.  In short, it was Trayvon Martin, not George Zimmerman, who was put on trial.  He was tried for the crimes he may have committed and the ones he would have committed had he lived past 17.  He was tried for using lethal force against Zimmerman in the form of a sidewalk and his natural athleticism. Continue reading

Daniel Ellsberg defends NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden

Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, says whistleblowers like Snowden and Bradley Manning are helping Americans defend their right to privacy.

Jennifer Mattson, GlobalPost, June 10, 2013

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, said Edward Snowden, 29, the whistleblower who exposed a National Security Agency wide-ranging surveillance program, showed “the kind of courage that we expect of people on the battlefield.”

Ellsberg said on Twitter “there has not been in American history a more important leak than Snowden’s,” including his own, during Watergate.

In July 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a former National Security Council consultant and military analyst changed the course of history when he leaked confidential information about the Vietnam War to a reporter at The New York Times. Those documents later became known as The Pentagon Papers.

Snowden, who has fled to Hong Kong, worked for the NSA as a contractor for Dell and Booz Allen over the last four years.
Ellsberg told The Daily Beast:
“The information about unconstitutional activity that he [Snowden] put out could only be reversed or stopped if the public knows about it, and there was absolutely no way for them or most members of Congress to learn about it without him putting it out.
He went on to say that he identifies with Snowden, “his choice, his decision, his performance” and that the 29-year-old is clearly aware of the consequences of his actions.

He said it is clear is that Snowden broke the law and faces possible of prosecution.

Ellsberg had this to say on CNN:

Daniel Ellsberg “I Think They Have Everything And That Is The Recipe For A TYRANNY In This Country!”

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130610/daniel-ellsberg-defends-nsa-whistleblower-edward

Data Surveillance with Global Implications

By Marcel Rosenbach, Holger Stark and Jonathan Stock, Der Spiegel, June 10 2013

The American intelligence director and the White House have finally confirmed what insiders have long known: The Obama administration is spying on the entire world. Politicians in Germany are demanding answers.

South of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, the National Security Agency (NSA), a United States foreign intelligence service, keeps watch over one of its most expensive secrets. Here, on 100,000 square meters (1,100,000 square feet) near the US military’s Camp Williams, the NSA is constructing enormous buildings to house superfast computers. All together, the project will cost around $2 billion (€1.5 billion) and the computers will be capable of storing a gigantic volume of data, at least 5 billion gigabytes. The energy needed to power the cooling system for the servers alone will cost $40 million a year.

Former NSA employees Thomas Drake and Bill Binney told SPIEGEL in March that the facility would soon store personal data on people from all over the world and keep it for decades. This includes emails, Skype conversations, Google searches, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, bank transfers — electronic data of every kind.

“They have everything about you in Utah,” Drake says. “Who decides whether they look at that data? Who decides what they do with it?” Binney, a mathematician who was previously an influential analyst at the NSA, calculates that the servers are large enough to store the entirety of humanity’s electronic communications for the next 100 years — and that, of course, gives his former colleagues plenty of opportunity to read along and listen in.

James Clapper, the country’s director of national intelligence, has confirmed the existence of a large-scale surveillance program. President Barack Obama further explained that Congress authorized the program — but that American citizens are exempt from it.

A top-secret document published last week by the Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian shows where the NSA may be getting the majority of its data. According to the document, which was allegedly leaked by former CIA employee Edward Snowden, the intelligence agency began seeking out direct access to servers belonging to American Internet companies on a wide scale in 2007. The first of these companies to come onboard was Microsoft. Yahoo followed half a year later, then Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype and AOL. The most recent company to declare its willingness to cooperate was Apple, in October 2012, according to the secret government document, which proudly states that this access to data is achieved “directly from the servers” of the companies. Continue reading

US’ “Junior-Partners-in-Empire” also spied by NSA (but worried that data is not shared with them)

Europe outraged but conflicted over NSA surveillance

Indignation was sharp and predictable across Europe – a continent where privacy is revered. Yet anger over revelations of U.S. electronic surveillance was tempered by an indisputable fact: Europe wants the information that American intelligence provides.

That dilemma was clear Tuesday, only days after leaks about two National Security Agency programs that purportedly target foreign messages – including private e-mails, voice and other data transmissions – sent through U.S. Internet providers.

The European Union’s top justice official, Viviane Reding, said she would demand that the United States afford EU citizens the same rights as Americans when it comes to data protection. Hannes Swoboda, a Socialist leader in the European Parliament, said the purported surveillance showed that the U.S. “is just doing what it wants.”At the same time, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich confirmed that his government regularly receives tips from the United States on Islamic extremists – and he doesn’t expect the Americans to tell him where they got the information. Continue reading

The Whistleblower: “I Can’t Allow the US Government to Destroy Privacy and Basic Liberties”


Jun 9, 2013

The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA’s history explains his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadow

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, and in Hong Kong The Guardian, Sunday 9 June 2013

The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA.

In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”

Despite his determination to be publicly unveiled, he repeatedly insisted that he wants to avoid the media spotlight. “I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”

He does not fear the consequences of going public, he said, only that doing so will distract attention from the issues raised by his disclosures. “I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me.” Continue reading

Assata Shakur Becomes the First Woman Added to FBI’s Most Wanted List

Assata Shakur

Madeleine Davies
As of yesterday, former Black Panther and member of the Black Liberation Army Assata Shakur became the first-ever woman to be added to the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list. She is currently 66 years old and living in Cuba where she has been granted political asylum.

In May of 1973, Shakur was in a car that was pulled over by police on the New Jersey highway. A shootout occurred, resulting in the deaths of her companion and fellow activist Zayd Malik Shakur and State Trooper Werner Foerster. Assata Shakur was wounded in the gunfight, having been shot twice. Accounts of what happened that night differ greatly — surviving Trooper James Harper (also wounded) claimed that Zayd Malik Shakur began firing when they asked him to step out of the vehicle whereas Assata Shakur attests that the police fired first, even after she had her hands in the air.

Shakur was convicted of Foerster’s murder and sentenced to a life in prison. In 1979, with the help of allies, she was able to escape from confinement and flee to Cuba where she still lives and calls herself a “20th century escaped slave.” Continue reading

Over 200 arrested in annual Montreal police brutality clash

Nelson Wyatt, Canadian Press | March 15, 2013

[THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz - montreal-BFbdJHvCMAAqjTtAt an anti-police brutality demonstration in Montreal on Friday March 15, 2013. Police used horses, pepper-spray and kettling tactics to clamp down Friday on an annual protest that has a history of "getting rowdy."]

MONTREAL — Police wasted little time Friday cracking down on an annual protest that has a history of getting rowdy, deploying charging squads of helmeted officers, cops on horseback and pepper spray to corral demonstrators.

Montreal police, who have been dealing with regular protests since student unrest last year, usually let peaceful marches proceed even if they have been declared illegal under municipal bylaws.

On Friday, police massed platoons of officers around their downtown headquarters — which was the target of the annual rally against police brutality — and had made their first arrest before the march even began.

“We sent up a message right at the beginning,” said Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere of the Montreal police at a late evening news conference after the march. “They haven’t shared a route, they haven’t shared their itinerary, they refuse to give us a location where they were heading. That’s the reason we made a stop to that.” Continue reading

India: New Delhi police fire water cannon at rape protest

[In the capital of India, which the government has claimed is "the world's largest democracy," a brutal rape of a young woman has brought thousands of outraged protestors into the streets.  Rape is a common terror that women face in Delhi and throughout India.  What brought these massive protests to the streets, this time?  As the following articles point out, "Police figures show that, in Delhi, a rape is reported on average every 18 hours and some form of sexual attack every 14 hours....Indian novelist Arundhati Roy said rape is seen as a 'matter of feudal entitlement' in many parts of the country, and the reason this case had come to light is because the woman victim belongs to the affluent middle class".....She said attitudes towards women need to change in India, because a change in the law only will protect middle class women, but 'the violence against other women who are not entitled will continue'." -- Frontlines ed.]

[Tear gas and water cannon were used against protesters marching on the presidential palace]

Indian police have used tear gas and water cannons to keep back thousands of protesters marching in Delhi over the gang rape of a young woman.

Violence broke out as the protesters, mainly college students, tried to break through police barricades to march on the presidential palace.

There has been outrage in India over the attack on a bus last Sunday that has left the 23-year-old woman in a critical condition in hospital.

Six people have been arrested.

The government has tried to halt the rising anger over the attack by announcing a series of measures intended to make Delhi safer for women.

They include more police night patrols, checks on bus drivers and their assistants and the banning of buses with tinted windows or curtains.

But the protesters say the government’s pledge to seek life sentences for the attackers is not enough – many are calling for the death penalty.

Some carried placards reading “Hang the Rapists” and “Save women. Save India” as they marched on Saturday. Continue reading

Spain prepares more austerity, protesters battle police

A demonstrator struggles with Spanish National Police riot officers outside the the Spanish parliament in Madrid September 25, 2012. Protesters clashed with police in Spain's capital on Tuesday as the government prepares a new round of unpopular austerity measures for the 2013 budget that will be announced on Thursday. REUTERS-Sergio Perez

By Tracy Rucinski and Paul Day, REUTERS

MADRID | Tue Sep 25, 2012

(Reuters) – Protesters clashed with police in Spain’s capital on Tuesday as the government prepared a new round of unpopular austerity measures for the 2013 budget to be announced on Thursday.

Thousands gathered in Neptune plaza, a few meters from El Prado museum in central Madrid, where they formed a human chain around parliament, surrounded by barricades, police trucks and more than 1,500 police in riot gear.

Police fired rubber bullets and beat protesters with truncheons, first as protesters were trying to tear down barriers and later to clear the square. The police said at least 22 people had been arrested and at least 32 injured, including four policemen.

As lawmakers started to leave the parliament shortly after 2100 GMT in official cars or by foot, a few hundred people were still demonstrating in front of the building. Most dispersed shortly afterwards.

The protest, promoted over the Internet by different activist groups, was younger and more rowdy than recent marches called by labor unions. Protesters said they were fed up with cuts to public salaries and health and education.

“My annual salary has dropped by 8,000 euros and if it falls much further I won’t be able to make ends meet,” said Luis Rodriguez, 36, a firefighter who joined the protest. He said he was considering leaving Spain to find a better quality of life. Continue reading

South Africa: Solidarity with Mine Workers at Marikana Platinum

17 August 2012

Abahlali baseMjondolo Press statement

Solidarity with Mine Workers at Marikana Platinum

Abahlali baseMjondolo are deeply shocked by the murderous cruelty of the South African police, and those that give the police their orders, at the Marikana Platinum Mine in the North West. The killing of more than 40 mine workers yesterday by the SAPS is immoral and brings great disgrace on our country. There were other ways and much better ways to handle the situation. Yesterday will always be remembered as a dark day in the long history of oppression in South Africa.

We wish to express our solidarity to all the families of the workers that have been killed and injured. We share your sorrow. You are not alone. We carry our pain together. Your children may not grow knowing their fathers but they will not grow alone. We have to care for each other and stand together as we struggle for a world that puts human beings first and treats all human beings equally. We wish to express our solidarity to all struggling workers. We face the same system that makes some people rich and others poor. We face the same government that refuses to recognise our humanity, which tries to force us to the margins of society and which represses us when we resist.

The ANC have shown no regard for the people of this country. They are putting us in transit camps and trying to keep us in bantustans. They are leaving us to burn in our shacks every winter. They are beating us in the police stations. They are shooting us in the streets. Millions of us cannot find work. A government that kills its citizens is immoral and must be opposed by everyone. A government that kills its citizens has lost all moral right to govern. What happened yesterday is no different from the killings of the apartheid government. This is no different to the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 which claimed 69 lives. It is no different to the Boipotong massacre in 1992 which claimed 45 lives. Continue reading

Behind the Masks: Spanish Miners Battle Police Over Austerity


July 09, 2012 via Associated Press
Spanish miners in the northwestern provinces of Asturias and Leon, armed with homemade rockets and slingshots, have been battling police in protest against government cuts, including a slashing of subsidies in their industry.


Striking Spanish Miners Fire Homemade Rockets at Police
June 15, 2012 via Telegraph.co.uk
Striking Spanish coal workers continued to block roads and clashed  with police inside a mine in the northern region of Asturias on Friday.

Oakland police chief confronted and shut down at “Justice 4 Alan Blueford” townhall


Published on May 24, 2012 by mrdaveyd

After murdering high school senior Alan Blueford, Oakland police have been trying to do damage control. Initially they claimed Blueford was involved in a shoot out and shot the officer.. We now know the officer shot himself after killing Blueford.. The officer’s name was not released to the public due to California law. The police held a townhall meeting at Acts Full Gospel church to try and calm down angry residents. As Chief Howard Jordan rattled of lie after lie, folks turned their back to him..They were not feeling what amounted to a dog and pony show.. OPD cut the townhall short as folks surrounded the police and demanded justice for Alan Blueford.. We caught up with Oscar Grant’s uncle Cephus Johnson aka Uncle Bobby to get his assessment of what took place.

May 24, 2012
http://sfbayview.com/2012/oakland-police-chief-confronted-and-shut-down-at-justice-4-alan-blueford-townhall/

Chris Moreland, who cried “Justice!” at the Oakland townhall, is now in jail on $100,000 bail for battery of an officer, clearly a trumped up charge; arraignment Friday, 2 p.m., Wiley Manual Courthouse; support march 7 p.m., 19th and Telegraph

by Davey D

Alan Blueford, 18, was preparing to graduate from high school when he was murdered by police for running from them on May 6 in East Oakland.

Since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, close to 30 Black or Brown people have been shot and killed by law enforcement – or, in the case of Trayvon, wannabe law enforcement. Many of these shootings have been highly questionable, meaning the person killed was unarmed or there are strong conflicting statements from either the police or witnesses.

Here in Oakland, California, the shooting death of Alan Dwayne Blueford is one such killing. Oakland police have been very shady with the stories they put forth to the public. It seems like a deliberate attempt to muddy the waters, cast seeds of doubt and cover up their own mistakes.

Initially police said they were in a shoot-out and Blueford shot the officer in the stomach. Later the police said Blueford shot the officer in the leg. Next the police said that it was possible the officer was shot in the leg by another officer in a case of friendly fire. Finally it came out that the officer shot himself. He shot himself in the foot.

Many believe the officer shot himself after he killed Blueford and saw the young man was unarmed. The police then doubled back and said a gun was recovered; the community has yet to see any evidence of fingerprints, gun residue etc. Many have concluded it was the officer planting a gun near the scene.

This would not be unusual in a city that in the past 10 years has had to shell out over $58 million for wrongful death shootings and police brutality incidents. This would not be far-fetched in a city that was home to a rogue group of cops known as the Oakland Riders, who were found to routinely plant drugs and guns on suspects. One of the Riders is a still a fugitive at large. Continue reading

Philippines: Police demolition team meets mass resistance in San Juan City

Residents hurling stones at members of the demolition team

23 hurt in demolition of shanties in San Juan
By Jose Rodel Clapano, The Philippine Star, January 12, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – At least 23 persons were hurt when the demolition of shanties along P. Narciso street in Barangay Corazon De Jesus in San Juan City turned violent yesterday morning.

Members of the demolition team, San Juan Police, Eastern Police District, National Capital Region Police Office and the Special Weapons and Tactics team clashed with the residents, who threw rocks, bottles and even molotov cocktails.

“We observed maximum tolerance, but they (squatters) started attacking us. We are here to maintain peace and order during the demolition, but they provoked us,” Superintendent Thomas Arcallana said.

Among the injured were policemen, members of the demolition team and at least three residents.

They suffered injuries in the head, belly, face and thighs and were rushed to the San Juan Medical Center.

The windshields of several vehicles parked near the area were also shattered.

Grace Cortes, spokesperson for Mayor Guia Gomez, said some of the victims suffered injuries in the chest, forearm, head and mouth.

Cortes said the 123 families, whose shanties were the subjects of the demolition, were part of the 400 families scheduled for relocation since Jan. 25 last year. Continue reading