Scott Sisters Update, New Articles: Gray-Haired Witnesses Plan Hunger Strike at DOJ / "No More Banquets!" by Dr. Lenore Daniels

The case of the Mississippi Scott Sisters, Jamie and Gladys who are now in their sixteenth year of an unjust and racist incarceration, is beginning to reach a wider audience and is inspiring bold actions in support of their struggle for freedom and justice, all the more urgent in light of the criminal medical neglect of Jamie Scott’s end-stage kidney disease by the Mississippi Department of Corrections and particularly its head, Commissioner Christopher Epps, who is well aware of Jamie’s deteriorating health and refuses to authorize her urgently-needed hospitalization.

Below are two articles sent out by the indefatigable Marpess Kupendua. The first deals with a planned hunger strike at the U.S. Department of Justice by a group of women elders–including Marpessa–which will take place on June 21, 2010. The second is another outstanding article written by Dr. Lenore Daniels, regular columnist for The Black Commentator, who wrote an earlier article which was re-published on this webzine almost a year ago.

Those who are interested in building support for the Hunger Strike and organizing further actions in support of justice for the Scott Sisters can contact folks involved in this struggle at the email addresses and/or phone numbers provided below, or myself (Paul) at lefrak@gmail.com.

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Sent by Marpessa Kupendua:

Contacts: Ruby Sales / B.J. Janice Peak-Graham

1-706-323-0246 / 0247 – spirithousedc@gmail.com

The Gray-Haired Witnesses for Justice are conducting a Hunger Strike at the Department of Justice Headquarters in Washington, DC on June 21, 2010.

We, who are three strikes removed from the center of the power structure of this country, want to raise the political consciousness of the nation while standing as the moral soul of the nation. We are Gray-Haired Witnesses who have struggled from time immemorial within the Black community. We are building towards a movement in history and we need all people of good will to be a part!

When Ida B. Wells stood up, she set in motion a resistance movement where many Americans broke their silence against lynching and said NO. She stood for a race of people bereft of political power or resources. More than 100 years later Gray-Haired Witnesses, Black women with a new Freedom Movement calling on this nation, stand in the spirit of those proud men and women who won hard-fought for victories in struggle and blood. We speak to the totality of the struggle of the Black woman who is debased regularly as uneducated, immoral, subhuman, whore, bad mother, and welfare queen. We also recognize the systemic racism that leads the police to even arrest the Black woman in the first place, the racism during sentencing, during incarceration, in dealing with social services, education, health discrimination, and beyond.

Over the last 20 years, the women’s population in US prisons has more than tripled. Most women are in prison as a result of drug selling, addiction, domestic violence and criminal acts mostly related to men. Too many are victimized by biased and negligent lawyers and judges. The evidence of oppression against Black and poor women significantly increased and continues to mount. Our Sisters are victimized, and subsequently our families, by enormous health care disparities, and emotional degradation through corporate media demonization of our image and place in our community. We now see a coalition of corporate, cultural and political wars fully embracing a White supremacist culture of domination and terrorism.

Our primary focus is the case of the Mississippi Scott Sisters, Jamie and Gladys, whose almost 16 yrs of unjust incarceration is a shocking revelation of the pure nothingness with which our lives are deemed in the eyes of this society and world, where such egregious travesties of justice are heaped upon our women with hate-filled arrogance and in plain view! In 1994, the State of Mississippi sentenced Jamie and Gladys Scott to consecutive double-life terms each for two counts of armed robbery they did not commit. They did not have prior criminal records, vigorously maintained their innocence, approximately $11 was said to have been netted, no one was harmed or injured and no weapon was ever recovered.

In January, 2010, Jamie Scott suffered failure of both kidneys. The combination of absymal health care under deplorable conditions has culminated in her steep decline to stage 5 (end stage) kidney disease. Jamie Scott has now effectively been sentenced to death. We must address this specific issue with urgency and demand that an Inspection and Observation Team be allowed into the Pearl, MS prison where Jamie Scott is being held for independent evaluation, as well as call on this government to free Jamie and Gladys Scott, wrongfully convicted and with no business being incarcerated in the first place! The case of the Scott Sisters is a horrific representation of the cases of countless other Black and poor women who have been denied the benefits of true justice and been incarcerated wrongly and in the process punishing, injuring and destroying Black families and children across the nation.

The Gray-Haired Witness are calling on all people of good will to fast and strike and resist with us across the nation on this day. The greatest asset we have is our body, mind and spirit and our willingness to step out of the daily flow of life and stand tall for what is right and just. In the tradition of race women throughout history and our survival, we declare our presence and we will not be silent and we are not afraid. Our lives have prepared us to come to this place, at this time.

STAND WITH US IN WASHINGTON, DC AND HELP TO BUILD THIS EVENT.

WE ASK THAT YOU STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH US:

1. Organize attendees to come to the event on June 21.

2. Sign your organization/club/church/mosque/temple, etc. on in solidarity with the event.

3. Put a statement in support on your website and link to our blogspot. Send a mailing to your email list and memberships.

4. Assist in distributing literature for this event to build it to the maximum level.

5. Assist in garnering press now and at the event.

6. Organize a local fast where you are and send a press release to local news outlets about the hunger strike and your local support efforts.

7. Dress and wear buttons in solidarity with us on that day.

8. Assist with donations towards expenses earmarked “Gray-Haired Witnesses” at http://www.spirithouseproject.org/donation.cfm.

We call on our Sisters, our Brothers to join with us to demand what is right. We must speak loudly and clearly to the devaluation of Black women’s bodies and lives. We want people of all colors to wage a struggle and stand with us on these issues because none of us are free until we are all free.

SHAKEERAH ABDUL AL-SABUUR, Paralegal

FATIRAH AZIZ, ICFFMAJ, African American Freedom & Reconstruction League, Quba Institute

MAE JACKSON, Art without Walls

MARPESSA KUPENDUA, M’Backe House of Hope, Inc.

DEBRA D. NAPIER, PhD.

BJ JANICE PEAK-GRAHAM, OUR COMMON GROUND Communications, Inc., Progressive Alternative Talk Radio

RUBY NELL SALES, Founder and Co-Director of SpiritHouse project – Public theologian, educator and long time runner for justice

JAMIA SHEPHERD, Founder/President of S.O.P.E. – Support Our People’s Efforts

http://www.grayhairedwitnesses.blogspot.com

The SpiritHouse Project

100 6th Street

Columbus, GA 31901

Thanks very much to the SF Bay View and Dr. Lenore Daniels for writing on the case of the Scott Sisters, we need as many people as possible to continue to write and spread the word of this travesty of justice!

The SF Bay View article is in their fantastic most recent newspaper dated May 2010, with lots of good information posted online at http://www.sfbayview.com. Dr. Daniels’ article appears below from the May 6, Issue 374 edition of The Black Commentator.

Please help us continue to spread the word about the struggle for the freedom of Jamie and Gladys Scott, as well as the fight for the life of Jamie as she endures one horrific medical misstep after another. Join us in calling for Jamie to be hospitalized until she is completely free of infections, please visit the site at
http://www.freethescottsisters.blogspot.com for details.

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No Banquets! Free Jamie and Gladys Scott!

Represent Our Resistance

By Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, PhD

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board

May 6, Issue 374

We, the Black masses, don’t want these leaders who seek our support coming to us representing a certain political party. They must come to us today as Black Leaders representing the welfare of Black people. We won’t follow any leader today who comes on the basis of political party. Both parties (Democrat and Republican) are controlled by the same people who have abused our rights, and who have deceived us with false promises every time an election rolls around.

-Malcolm X

Jamie Scott suffers from kidney disease. She receives inadequate medical care, but the Jackson County Branch of the NAACP in Mississippi last month (April) held a banquet, “NAACP: One Nation, One Dream,” to honor individuals and organizations for their outstanding service to the community. Christopher Epps, commissioner for the Mississippi Department of Corrections was recognized for his – work.

Epps (Black American) is the “longest serving commissioner in the history of the agency,” according to MDOC’s website. Appointed by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove in 2002 and then reappointed by Gov. Haley Barbour in 2004, Epps must have done his work quite well.

Mrs. Evelyn (Rasco), Jamie’s mother, spoke to Epps in March of this year on behalf of her daughter. Jamie, she told him, is very ill; she needs serious medical care. Jamie and her sister Gladys were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to double life each for an $11 dollar robbery. The wallet re-appeared with the money. The accusers admitted to supplying false testimonies against the young women then. But its 15 years latter and now Jamie is ill.

Epps told Mrs. (Rasco) that he would do “everything in his power” and work to have the Scott sisters released from prison, according to legal analyst Nancy Lockhart. Now it seems that Epps isn’t so sure this is his work – securing medical care for Jamie or securing the release of Jamie and Gladys. Maybe Jamie isn’t so ill. Maybe she isn’t so truthful about her experiences with the prison’s medical personnel.

“I’ve talked with Jamie many times. I know Jamie. I can’t imagine Jamie would lie. I have never known Jamie to lie,” Lockhart told me.

No, I can’t imagine that any woman in the end-stage of kidney disease, receiving inadequate treatment, living in a cell with spiders and moldy walls would lie about her condition. No, not many could imagine a woman lying about the pain and bleeding of 4-5 caterers that had been placed in her neck or the bleeding from the caterer (placed in her groin) that fell out. No human being would imagine another would be lying while they suffer from a life-threatening disease.

But Epps seems to have doubts. Something is wrong with this story!

I agree. Something is strange about this story!

The Jackson County Branch rewards Christopher Epps for his outstanding community work! People have to be congratulated for their community work – in this post-racial era! That’s strange considering that surveillance teams are watching and recording a good many of them!

Immigrant communities, particularly Latino/as and Haitian communities, are working to organize resistance to the legalization of racial profiling and racial terror. Native Americans are working to organize resistance to the effort of the government to run bulldozers over their lands and their lives. Muslim communities are working to organize resistance to the targeting of their mosques and community organizations.

While community organizations, focusing on the fallout of war waged against Black Americans, organize to tackle housing, unemployment, gentrification of neighborhoods, and high infant mortality rates, the Black community isn’t organized to confront the U.S. Empire that perpetuates these conditions. On the contrary, mainstream Black organizations fear losing their credibility with Empire and, in turn, they fear losing economic and political support.

These organizations can’t identify themselves as critics of the U.S. Empire. So banquets – out of reach of Jamie, her sister, and their mother – are organized to do what? Honor whom? Collaborators, obedient servants – who are also intended to serve as symbols of Black success? Look at the number of Black Americans who can afford to attend the awards banquet! Look at the “exceptional,” outstanding professional Blacks honored for their work.

In the meantime, NAACP representatives aren’t knocking on Black residents’ doors to urge them to come out, stand together to engage in civil disobedience. The NAACP won’t organize troops of people from the communities of Red, Black, Brown, and Muslim to appear in Washington D.C. and demand an end to the laws and policies that have incarcerated 2.3 million Americans.

Be practical! How could we remain the NAACP without government funding?

But the question should be – how do members of the NAACP continue to tell themselves that its organization represents Black Americans, including the poor, imprisoned, and working class in the tradition of Black solidarity?

Do they know that the Black community is collapsing from without and well as from within? Or is the NAACP an organization that does what is safe for the NAACP to sustain its life. It’s safe to honor Epps, but it’s not safe to free the incarcerated like Jamie and Gladys.

When the NAACP planned a study on the effects of prison in the lives of juveniles, Nancy Lockhart approached the regional director about the Scott Sisters’ case. Lockhart was told that the Sisters “didn’t qualify” for the study, but he would refer their case to the “criminal division of the NAACP” and recommend that the division treat the case in the same manner they are treating the Troy Davis case! Lockhart: “How long was Troy Davis in prison before the NAACP responded to his wrongful conviction?” Other legal organizations did the work to free Davis long before the NAACP took note of his imprisonment.

Is it that Davis’ case like Mumia’s case has received international support and it is therefore safe enough for the NAACP?

As Michelle Alexander writes in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, “mass incarceration depends for its legitimacy on the widespread belief that all those who appear trapped at the bottom actively chose their fate.” No group believes this fallacy more than the Black middle class. While a few more Blacks per year are seated at banquet tables, oblivious to the day-to-day plight of Blackness in the U.S., there’s a steady increase of Black children and young people hurdled into the criminal justice system each year. Unfortunate environment! Wrong parents! The judgment of a divine mind! Jamie and Gladys Scott are just not – exceptional–they’re just common.

Overlook them! They can’t vote! They don’t count!

The system has regulated our relations with one another to its benefit and our detriment.

Consequently, we no longer, as a collective, heed Martin Luther King’s warning that, to quote from Alexander, “racial justice requires the complete transformation of social institutions and dramatic restructuring of our economy, not superficial changes that can [be] purchased on the cheap.” Work that contributes to the continuation of U.S. Empire’s practice of aggression can’t transform or dramatically restructure the institutions that enslave the majority of humanity.

The horrors of Empire are more easily recognized when on display over there. But the horrors of U.S. Empire are here. Palestine is here. The West Bank and Gaza are here in the U.S. in the barrios, on the reservations, in urban communities, and in rural prisons. We don’t see it, but the War on Drugs and immigrant laws lock away Black and Brown people here. Unarmed young men are shot 20, 30, and 41 times for being Black while they hold a cell phone, or ride a subway, or attend a bachelor’s party. The re-settlement scheme, otherwise known as gentrification, forces people to sleep on park benches and in public library sitting rooms. Systemic unemployment and low wages create conditions of impoverishment for thousands of children here. Racial profiling and militarized borders and neighborhoods subject people to fear and shame. Here in the U.S., millions of people for whom the political and economic domestic policies resemble the foreign policies enforced over there, these conditions are too close for Americans to see.

It’s sad to see Black organizations lacking the will and desire to break free and work on behalf of those abused, tortured, imprisoned, killed by the Empire. It’s hard to see how such organizations can direct a movement that would bring about structural transformations in the U.S. Consequently, we can’t put the spotlight on the kind of work that only strengthens aggressive strategies, except to condemn that work as inhumane.

But we shouldn’t have to see Jamie die before we remember that the U.S. has never played fair with Black Americans. If we recall our ancestors, we’ll remember the meaning of work. Let Malcolm and King be pleased for a change!

Mrs. (Rasco) isn’t getting any younger. “She’s an elderly woman, and Gladys needs to be able to care for her sister,” Lockhart said.

Let’s give Jamie Scott the spotlight and honor her with compassion. Free Jamie and her sister Gladys!

SEE:

Appeals Court Affirms that Mississippi Death Row Conditions are Unconstitutional http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/appeals-court-affirms-mississippi-death-row-conditions-are-unconstitutional

Civil Rights Lawyers and Mississippi Department of Corrections Agree to Overhaul Violent Supermax Unit http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/civil-rights-lawyers-and-mississippi-department-corrections-agree-overhaul-violent-

Contact:

www.freethescottsisters.blogspot.com

Mrs. Evelyn Rasco – rqueenbee2222@yahoo.com

Nancy Lockhart thewrongfulconvictions@gmail.com or call 843 217 4649

Christopher B. Epps, Commissioner of the Mississippi Dept. of Corrections cepps@mdoc.state.ms.us (601) 359-5600

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has been a writer for over thirty years of commentary, resistance criticism and cultural theory, and short stories with a Marxist sensibility to the impact of cultural narrative violence and its antithesis, resistance narratives. With entrenched dedication to justice and equality, she has served as a coordinator of student and community resistance projects that encourage the Black Feminist idea of an equalitarian community and facilitator of student-teacher communities behind the walls of academia for the last twenty years. Dr. Daniels holds a PhD in Modern American Literatures, with a specialty in Cultural Theory (race, gender, class narratives) from Loyola University, Chicago.

Reflecting on the Kent State Massacre Forty Years Later

I was prompted to reflect back forty years ago today on the anniversary of the Kent State Massacre of May 4, 1970.

Looking back, I think the Kent State Massacre did play a significant role in shaping my political consciousness, as a true child of the Sixties. In May, 1970, I was a nine-year old fourth grade Jewish-American student growing up on Long Island, NY. My family was against the Vietnam War and I was too, based mostly on a child’s gut feeling against killing human beings. “War is not healthy for children and other living things” seemed to make sense to me.

The Kent State Massacre did hit home. My mother, the school librarian at JFK High School in Plainview, NY worked with the mother of Jeffrey Miller, one of the four students killed at Kent. She attended his funeral. It truly did seem like the war was coming home.

My older sister Nancy was getting ready to enter college that fall in Ohio at Case Western Reserve University, not far from Kent State. A friend of hers was planning on going to Kent State. I feared for both of their safety.

At some point, maybe months later, Nixon made a comment about college protesters being a bunch of “bums.” I was insulted for my sister and her friends. My mother encouraged me to write a letter to the White House taking exception to this. Months later I got something back that included policy statements supporting U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia. I remember thinking they used a lot of words to say something that didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Months later, my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Schultz, an extremely ideologically conscious right-winger made some remark about the killings at Kent State had been justified because (and I remember her exact words) “they needed to teach those rabble rousers a lesson”. I was very upset by this comment given how close Kent State hit home.

I didn’t know what a rabble rouser was, but I think it was at that point that I started to identify with them.

The Plantation called Haiti: US/Euro pillage masking as humanitarian aid by Ezili Dantò

The following was received in an email from Ezili Dantò (Marguerite Laurent), the text of which can be found on her blog.

US/Euro pillage masking as humanitarian aid by Ezili Dantò

Here is an good example of what real helps looks like (Statement of Cuban Foreign Minister at UN Donors Meeting on Haiti
http://bit.ly/b3ZHJa.

Below we post the Haiti-Cuba proposal for building health care in Haiti that considers the needs of the poorest of the poor in Haiti and is without the unseemly large budget of the cork-popping champaign fanfare of the UN/Papa-Mama Clinton March 31st media show and pledging session that just took place. It is worthy of all our support. If only this Haiti-Cuba health care proposal could be brought into application without the US/Euro policymakers’ interference and use of their egotistical NGOs and mercenary military contractors to block it. If only their inhumanity and vulgarity could be held in abeyance while heart sore human beings, living under water-logged tents, old cardboard and wet sheets, people with damaged and inflamed limbs, some also tear-gassed by the UN for protesting their conditions; if only their inhumanity and vulgarity could be held in abeyance as Haiti tried to recover from the ravages of the US/Euro neoliberalism and despotism that exacerbated a 7.0 earthquake so that it took the lives of over 300,000…

While the champaign bottles were popping at the UN for the pledging session’s success – $5billion, 10 billion pledged for the future. Whose future? Haitians in Haiti need a hoe, a tractor, some lifting equipment, so they might not have to use their bare hands to dig out the corpses still under the rubble almost three months after the earthquake. Just a hoe, a tractor – we’ll do the work. But no, the Internationals are going to give us $5 billion later, be happy. Wait for it as you die inside because your daughter, son, wife, mother, father, cousin and friends are still dead under the rubble and no one will help you lift up the cement blocks and steel cables so you might bury them. Yep, you have no food, no water, no medical treatment, no job to go to, no shelter today, but don’t worry, “The international community pledged $5.3 billion Wednesday for earthquake-shattered Haiti over the next two years, launching an ambitious effort not just to rebuild the hemisphere’s poorest nation but also to transform it into a modern state.” (http://bit.ly/97OTp6 – $5.3 billion pledged over 2 years at U.N. conference for Haiti reconstruction.)

So right now, at Fort National Haiti, the people are just walking over corpses and digging on the spot they find them to bury them. Others are burning the remains they find so that the stench and airborne disease won’t kill the living. But don’t worry, remember, papa and mama Clinton cares, the UN cares, Preval cares because at the Donor session the $5.3 billion amount “exceeded by more than $1 billion the goal set ahead of a conference co-sponsored by the United Nations and the U.S. government. In all, countries, development banks and nongovernmental groups pledged nearly $10 billion for Haiti in years to come.” (http://bit.ly/97OTp6.)

In the years to come…

What is needed now is to finish extracting and burying the remaining dead, nurture the living, find a job to survive, get shelter from the elements and coming rains and hurricanes, medical treatment, food, water and get rid of the foreign experts who say their country is financing the Haitian government budget and therefore are the ones to represent the people of Haiti. Meanwhile Senator Dodd of Connecticut and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are not going to these rulers of Haiti for the failure of the so-called Haitian government but asking for more foreigners like them to take charge despite the Internationals six-year dismal failures in Haiti.

Besides, what can the people under water-logged tarps and tents do with the abstract $5.3 billion pledged by these Internationals? A backhoe, tractor, some seeds to plant food and fruit trees, some electricity, in-Haiti production of all daily necessities, shelter, sanitation, a wheelchair, a prosthetic limb to replace the one cut off by the quake’s ravages, a safe place to live, food, running water, antibiotics, some compassion and a living wage job to keep one from thinking about the lost of one’s everything, would be helpful. Like now, per chance? Using, not foreign resources, but Haiti’s gold, petrol, iridium, uranium, bauxite, limestone and the expertise of Haitians from the US, Canada, France, Latin America or the Caribbean who are willing to VOLUNTEER their time and transfer their skills to native Haitians for the nation’s good – to build Haitian capacity not NGO capacity in Haiti.

But alas, the West dreams of riding the world economic recession and political dangers for themselves on the backs of Haiti’s dead to the tune of $5.3, $10 billion do-gooder image they’ve siphoned off for themselves. Officialdom’s policymakers dream of doing more of what they’ve done in Haiti these last nightmarish six-years and of using the earthquake windfalls to build tourist enclaves and waterfront casinos in Site Soley, Fort National and throwing out the Black Haitian majority as was done in New Orleans.

So why bother against these dreams of the BlackBerry-smartphone contingent? Against the NGOs useless waste of money, their setting up projects where no Haitians participate, justifying their jobs by holding meetings upon meetings with the people in the camps but with no follow-up except their trophy reports/press releases and conferences to show direct connection to justify their existence.

Like always, we’re mostly on our own. Just different Haitians are dying, in jail and being abused and tear-gassed by the UN. Oceans of our blood have poured and watered the soil upon which Haiti stands.

“For whose entertainment shall we sing our agony? In what hopes? That the destroyers, aspiring to extinguish us, will suffer conciliatory remorse at the sight of their own fantastic success? The last imbecile to dream such dreams is dead, killed by the saviors of his dreams.” (Ayi Kwei Armah, from the book Two Thousand Seasons.)

“And so it is an exercise in futility to go to the perpetrators and executioners of human rights crimes in Haiti in hopes of getting justice for our people. Those who ousted the constitutional government of Haiti – the U.N., which acts as proxy to maintain this international crime, the Haitian lackeys and their State Department masters – are dead inside and cannot hear the cries of the Haitian masses.

It’s not their mission or mandate. For they don’t represent life, liberty, democracy, development and decency, but its opposite.” (http://bit.ly/8Kx4zt – Another Haitian independence day under occupation by Ezili Dantò)

Who in Haiti and in the Diaspora is not soul-tired of the US/Euro resource war on Haiti masking as humanitarian aid. False charity, false benevolence, false “bringing security to Haiti” barely veil Officialdom’s market share and resource wars on independent Black Haiti? This Cuban proposal for health care ought to be brought into application. Really. And if Haiti’s majority had any say, if Haiti had any sovereignty, if the law, the good, the decent and moral had any teeth in these trying of times, there’s no doubt, it would be. But the foreigners and their Haitian Blan peyi making more than $500 a day in Haiti from donation funds pilfered from the pain they’ve caused, exacerbated and made worst through their rule in Haiti are not embarrassed at all. They make more than $500-a day in Haiti happily proclaiming it’s kosher for Haitians to make .38cents an hour. And through their self-serving defamation and denigration of Haiti’s Black people and always “evil government” or officials, these modern day slave-making Gran Blan, of all the classes and races, make Haiti’s suffering so ordinary, so natural, so-explainable, even they don’t see their own vulgarity. The day these vampire in Haiti accept to level the social and economic hierarchies they’ve imposed on Black Haiti, especially on Black Haitian women, and accept to come to “help” for the same .38 cents per hour salary their policymakers deem good enough for Haitians, is the day the majority in Haiti shall take any of them seriously. Until then, the Haitian Revolution shall continue. Liberty or Death. The souls gone shall add to our strength to continue until we’ve stopped or tied-up the Bafyòti (black collaborator), Mundele (white colonist/imperialist) and all their Ndoki – evil forces. E, e, Mbomba, e, e! Kanga Bafyòti. Kanga Mundele. Kanga Ndòki.

In the last six-years since Bush’s bi-centennial regime change and since the tyrannical NGO industry and US/Euro market privateers took over Haiti, what has worked to assuage the vivid ills inflicted on the poor is the direct help Haitians have provided to each other and the Diaspora remittances. Other than that, with some small exceptions from a few small human rights organizations, Haitians may count on the Cuban doctors whose services do not strip of their sovereignty, equality, humanity and dignity.

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Statement of Cuban Foreign Minister at UN Donors Meeting on Haiti
http://bit.ly/b3ZHJa

Statement of H.E. Bruno Rodríguez Parilla,

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Republic of Cuba

at the Haiti Donors Meeting

United Nations Headquarters

New York, 31 March, 2010

Mr. President,

The international community has a tremendous debt with Haiti where, after three centuries of colonialism, the first social revolution on the American continent took place, an act of boldness that the colonial powers punished with close to 200 years of military dictatorships and plunder. Its noble and hardworking people are now the poorest in the Western hemisphere.

We all have the moral obligation to contribute additional financial resources and greater cooperation to Haiti, not only for its reconstruction but, in particular, for its development.

In order to have an idea of the magnitude of the human tragedy in Haiti, suffice it to note that the death of 230,000 people in its small and high-density population, is equivalent to the death of more than 30 million people in a country such as China, whose population reaches a total of 1.3 billion inhabitants; an unimaginable tragedy.

In the wake of this devastating earthquake that shook the conscience of humanity, we trust that the numerous promises heard will be converted into action, that Haiti’s independence and sovereignty will be respected and ennobled, that the government of President René Préval and Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive will be facilitated to exercise all its faculties, and that it will be able to benefit, not the whites and foreign companies, but the Haitian people, especially the poorest.

Generosity and political will is needed. Also needed is the unity of that country instead of its division into market plots and dubious charitable projects.

The program for the reconstruction and strengthening of the Haitian national healthcare system, drawn up by the Haitian government and Cuban governments, with the cooperation of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and other countries and humanitarian organizations, will guarantee wide health coverage for the population, in particular the low-income sector.

That program is based on 101 primary healthcare centers which are being created, at which an estimated 2.8 million patients will be treated, 1.3 million emergency operations performed, 168,000 babies delivered, and 3 million vaccinations administered every year.

These health centers will be supported by the services of 30 community reference hospitals distributed throughout the country and equipped with cutting-edge technology for secondary attention, which can treat 2.154 million people per year, perform 54,000 operations – 1 million of these emergency surgery –, 276,000 electro-cardiograms, 144,000 diagnostic ultrasounds, 43,000 endoscopies, 181,000 X-Rays, 107,000 dental examinations, and 487,000 laboratory tests.

Given the extraordinary number of poly-traumatized patients, 30 rehabilitation rooms are likewise being equipped which, within 12 months, will provide services for 520,000 patients and 2.4 million therapeutic treatments.

There will also be three electromedicine centers, a prosthesis laboratory and an integral hygiene and epidemiology program.

Also planned is a Haitian National Specialties Hospital at tertiary level, involving cooperation from other countries, directed by 80 high-level Cuban specialists responsible for services and clinical departments, research and teaching, and Haitian professionals who will be trained at the institution and progressively replace the Cuban medical professors.

The cost of the already mentioned services will amount to $690.5 million over 10 years, a total that includes the medical services provided, calculated at 50% of international prices; the sustainability of these services and the personnel providing them; and the training of a further 312 Haitian doctors in Cuba.

As can be deduced, the approximate cost is $170 million per year for a country of approximately 9.33 million inhabitants.

It is possible to do this. Our practical experience confirms it. In fact, this program is already underway and, post-quake, 23 of these primary care health centers, 15 community reference hospitals and 21 rehabilitation rooms are up and running.

From almost immediately after the earthquake, Cuban specialists have been dedicating their attention to the population affected. To date they have seen 260,000 patients, performed more than 7,000 operations, delivered close to 1,400 babies, and administered close to 100,000 vaccinations. More than 50,000 patients have undergone rehabilitation therapy and more than 75,000 children have received psychosocial therapy, in the presence of some of Cuba’s most eminent professionals.

A total of 783 Cuban and 481 Haitian doctors, plus 278 health professionals from 28 countries – all of them graduated in Cuba – are working on this program.

Last Saturday [March 27], as part of the program outlined, a memorandum of understanding for the strengthening of the healthcare and public services system and epidemiological prevention was signed in Port-au-Prince, thanks to the will of the Haitian government and a significant contribution from President Lula and Brazil, which will be decisive for the planned healthcare program.

During the 11 years of work prior to the earthquake, the Cuban medical brigade, which has a presence in 127 of the 137 Haitian communes, saved 223,442 lives, treated 14 million people, performed 225,000 operations and delivered 109,000 babies. Via the Operation Miracle program, 46,000 Haitians have had their sight restored or improved. During the same period, 165,000 Haitians have become literate in Creole.

If we evaluate the medical services provided in these 11 years and the training of medical personnel in Cuba, it would represent $400 million throughout the period.

The medical program that we are proposing, in its entirety, will benefit 75% of the poorest population of the country at a minimum expense.

We invite all governments, without exception, to contribute to this noble effort. For that reason, we attribute particular importance to this conference, and aspire to its success.

Thank you very much.

Translated by Granma International

Justice for the Scott Sisters: An Update

Scott SistersToday, March 25th, is a “day of blogging” to support justice for the Jamie and Gladys Scott, two wrongfully imprisoned sisters in the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility. There are two central issues at stake with this important case.

Most immediately, the life of Jamie Scott is being endangered due to the prison’s ongoing and cruel medical negligence. She is being denied the urgent medical care she needs for both malfunctioning kidneys and she has an infection that has spread throughout her body. Jamie is in constant severe pain and is very weak. In addition, her mother, Mrs. Evelyn Rasco, and their family including their children, have been denied visitation at times.

Then there is the case itself. Here’s what the flyer used to mobilize support has to say:

MISSISSIPPI JUSTICE: DOUBLE-LIFE EACH FOR $11.00!

On 12/24/93, the Scott County Sheriff’s Department arrested Jamie and Gladys Scott for armed robbery even though three young males, ranging from ages 14 to 18, confessed to committing the crime and the women have unwaveringly maintained their complete innocence. Despite this, the corrupt Mississippi sheriff used coercion, threats, and harassment to compel them to turn state’s evidence against the Scott sisters due to a long-standing vendetta against a family member. The Judge in the case, Marcus Gordon, has an extensive racist past that includes granting bail to the KKK murderer of 3 civil rights workers in 1964. In 10/94 the Scott Sisters were sentenced to extraordinary double-life terms each, despite the facts that no one was harmed, neither sister had prior convictions, & the amount alleged to have been taken was $11.00! Even if they were guilty as charged, this sentence is completely outrageous and cruel!

THE SCOTT SISTERS ARE NOW IN THEIR 15TH YEAR OF UNJUST IMPRISONMENT!

WE NEED LEGAL REPRESENTATION FOR THESE WOMEN NOW!

WE NEED YOU TO PLEASE HELP TO MAKE THIS A NATIONAL NEWS STORY!

Their older brother has recently returned from Iraq and has served in the US Army for 22 years. The women’s five children and grandchildren are being raised by their now ailing mother, and their father has died of a massive heart attack because of this. The emotional strain this burden has placed upon their family is absolutely immeasurable. The defendants and their family are wholly depending on support from the press, organizations, and all those dedicated to justice in making this debacle as public as possible.

Please visit http://www.freethescottsisters.blogspot.com for complete info or contact their mother offline, Mrs. Evelyn Rasco, P.O. Box 7100, Pensacola, Florida 32534.

“The Scott Sisters’ case is a travesty of justice,” Chokwe Lumumba, Jackson, MS City Council

From the Scott Sisters Blog:

Mrs. Rasco and her entire family are in Mississippi to visit Jamie and Gladys as well as to participate in the 3/26 MWM/BWDL (Million Woman March/Black Women’s Defense League) Press Conference scheduled for 12 noon in front of the Jackson, MS Capitol Bldg. at 400 High St. The organization is asking for letters of support for their campaign by 12 midnight 3/25 to be sent to nationalmwm@aol.com or officialmwm@yahoo.com
For more info call: 267-636-3802.

Jamie Scott
Jamie Scott with her grandchildren

Jamie has been in the hospital since 3/15 with a very serious infection, severe weakness, extreme pain and swelling. Jamie stated that she was “kicked out” of the hospital on Tuesday to prevent Mrs. Rasco from coming up in there and asking a lot of questions, in fact an extra guard had been placed there to make certain that Mrs. Rasco didn’t come in there to see her. Jamie told Mrs. Rasco that she couldn’t believe how her 4′ tall momma caused so much worry among those prison officials!

She was abruptly moved to her old cell in the prison to await the visit with her mother and family to take place Wednesday for an hour, after which her family was to visit with Gladys for an hour. However, the Assistant Warden met them at the entrance and stated that some of the children weren’t on the list to come in. After much wrangling and his personally searching the young men he permitted everyone to visit both women together BUT for one hour total, which actually ended up being less than an hour due to all of the wasted time spent being searched and with the Asst Warden on the phone rechecking names in the waiting area. The family watched in tears as Jamie climbed off of a bus and limped slowly and weakly to the visiting area and questioned staff as to why she wasn’t given a wheelchair, to which they had no answer.

Jamie and Gladys grabbed onto each other and their family members for a very emotional reunion, especially for the children. Both women had lost quite a bit of weight, Gladys from extreme stress and depression and Jamie due to her serious illness. Jamie stated that she was told by the doctor that 6 catheter infections was much too much and that she never should have had so many temporary catheters, which blew out all of her veins where they were placed. She currently has a shunt in her groin which is extremely painful and must be surgically removed next week. She is scheduled to stay in her old cell until Friday, at which time she is told that she will be returned to the hospital.

Both Jamie and Gladys want all of their supporters to know that our activities are very greatly appreciated and that they want us to keep on! Mrs. Rasco and family are also very thankful and hopeful that together we can get those women released from this horrific situation soon! If we keep pushing and use our creativity to call attention to this case, it will happen! If you write, then write about it; if you sing, sing about it; poet about it; creatively perform about it; print out flyers and distribute them at programs and events, however you can do it, please help get the word out about the plight of these women, there’s something that everyone can do!

The Days of Blogging for the Scott Sisters that happened on 3/18 and is so wonderfully happening again today will really help get the word out on the case in wider and broader areas of the internet and hopefully lead to much more support and national attention! Thanks so much to all of the participants and we will be posting links to all of the blogs that participated at the Scott Sisters site, so please send them in so that you can be acknowledged! Of course everyone is encouraged to continue blogging beyond today and please do!

We still don’t trust that Jamie will receive adequate medical care once these hospitalizations are completed, which was proven by the fact that as soon as she was returned from the hospital yesterday she was put right back in that moldy building where she was originally housed!

JAMIE SCOTT NEEDS TO BE HOUSED IN THE MEDICAL BUILDING.

Someone as seriously ill as Jamie needs to be somewhere that she can get assistance in better living conditions, and that’s not in the infirmary
and definitely not in her original cell. The Medical Bldg. would give her access to her sister, Gladys, who would help her with her activities of daily living and monitor her condition, just as other family members incarcerated together there are permitted to do with less life-threatening illnesses than Jamie suffers.

We must keep pushing for media attention to what’s going on and are continually pressing for nationwide press. A complete and in-depth examination of this travesty of justice must be exposed!! Please forward all of the info at the site to anyone, anywhere that can help to make that happen, the Scott Sisters need to go prime-time to apply enough pressure to make this Gov. do the right thing.

CNN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell should do an entire segment on the Scott Sisters now that she is aware of the case, please contact her and urge her to follow-up her brief mention of the Scott Sisters on her 3/6 “Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell” with a more significant segment that will focus on Jamie’s serious medical condition and the Scott Sisters case period. The contact form is at http://www.cnn.com/feedback/tips/newstips.html

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PLEASE TELL GOVERNOR BARBOUR TO GRANT INMATE JAMIE SCOTT, #19197, CMCF, AND GLADYS SCOTT, #19142, CMCF, PARDON AND RELEASE FROM PRISON. Neither sister is a threat to anyone and Jamie has a supportive family willing to care for her and obtain the medical care that she has not adequately received while in prison. These women are first-time offenders who have served 16 years in prison and are not a risk for recidivism, particularly with the gravity of Jamie’s declining health. They must be released AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

Thanks to everyone, please help to really spread the word as far as you can & ACT!

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BE DIRECT BUT PLEASE BE COURTEOUS — NO YELLING OR CURSING! IT WILL ONLY TAKE A FEW MINUTES, PLEASE PARTICIPATE!

Governor Haley Barbour

P.O. Box 139

Jackson, Mississippi 39205

1-877-405-0733 or 601-359-3150

Fax: 601-359-3741

(If you reach VM leave msgs, faxes, and please send letters)

Dorothy Kuykendall

Personal Assistant to Gov. Barbour

(601) 359-3150

DKuykendall@governor.state.ms.us

P. O Box 3150

Jackson, MS 39205

Christopher Epps, Commissioner of Prisons for the State of Mississippi

601-359-5600

CEPPS@mdoc.state.ms.us

723 North President Street

Jackson, MS 39202

Emmitt Sparkman, Deputy Commissioner

(601) 359-5610

esparkman@mdoc.state.ms.us

Margaret Bingham, Superintendent of Central Mississippi Corrections Facility

(601) 932-2880

mbingham@mdoc.state.ms.us

FAX: (601) 664-0782

P.O. Box 88550

Pearl, Mississippi 39208

Dr. Gloria Perry, Medical Department

(601) 359-5155

gperry@mdoc.state.ms.us

Attorney General Eric Holder

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

PLEASE CONTACT POLITICIANS AND MEDIA

Congressman Bennie Thompson

3607 Medgar Evers Blvd.

Jackson, MS 39213

601-946-9003(ph)

601-982-5337 (fx)

Benniethompson@mail.house.gov

Congressman John Conyers

2426 Rayburn H.O.B.

Washington, DC 20515

Ph: 202-225-5126

Fax: 202-225-0072

John.Conyers@mail.house.gov

A complete list of the media that we have listed (feel free to send to any others that you wish to!) is at http://freethescottsisters.blogspot.com/2010/01/119-emergency-update.html

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Visit and LINK to: http://www.freethescottsisters.blogspot.com

Subscribe to our group: Send a blank e-mail to scottsistersupdates-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and share information!

Facebook Group: Free The Scott Sisters
Free the Scott Sisters Petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Free-Jamie-Gladys/index.html

Free the Scott Sisters Flyer: http://www.scribd.com/doc/28847395/Scott-Sisters-Flyer-Black-23-Mar-2010-20

(Thanks to Bro. Darryl McClain for the beautiful new flyer design!)

Legal Transcripts: http://www.scribd.com/Scott%20Sisters

URGENT! Support Haitian Earthquake Relief Coordinated by Solidarity Organizations

The January 12th 7.0 earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti is a disaster of unimaginable proportions that has likely left tens of thousands dead and many more without adequate medical care, homes, electricity, potable water and other basic necessities of life. This nation–site of the world’s only successful slave rebellion in the early 19th Century–has been devastated by imperialist-engendered extreme poverty that has been made worse by a series of disasters including last year’s hurricanes from which it never recovered. Twice, in 1991 and 2004, the U.S. engineered coups against the democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Haiti is a case study in imperialist domination and racism. After this earthquake, the people there need immediate help and solidarity from the left and working class movements like never before.

Below is information taken from the websites of School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) and Upside Down World which contain links to solidarity and progressive organizations that are coordinating relief efforts.

From SOAW: “SOA Watch is joining other Latin America and Caribbean Solidarity and human rights groups in raising funds for food and water, health and shelter relief for those affected by the earthquake and for community re-building efforts.”

The article from Upside Down World “Support Victims of the Earthquake in Haiti” contains links to organizations coordinating relief in Haiti including Partners in Health, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Haiti Action, Grassroots International, and OXFAM.

Readers of this webzine should consider organizing their own local fundraisers to help with this emergency effort.

Jamie and Gladys Scott: Wrongfully Convicted - By Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, PhD

Jamie and Gladys Scott: Wrongfully Convicted

June 4, 2009 Black Commentator

Represent Our Resistance
By Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, PhD
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board

I will get you one way or the other, even through your daughters!

As the social order continues, it devises other ideals of social danger, among them women.

In the United States today, there are more than ninety thousand women in prisons. Of that number, over 80 percent are mothers, who have left more than 167,000 children behind, living in a tenuous freedom.

-Mumia Abu Jamal, Jailhouse Lawyers

In Chicago, James “Hawk” Rasco decides its time to return home, to his native soil – Mississippi. Now, he was returning to Scott County with his family. Rasco’s nephew ran a nightclub – in dry Scott County. The nephew, along with other Black nightclub owners, paid the sheriff in order to sell alcohol. The sheriff was Glenn Warren, otherwise known as the “High White Sheriff.”

Some things do change but only slightly. Years later, an FBI investigation landed Sheriff Warren in a courtroom and ultimately in prison. Rasco’s nephew ends up turning state’s evidence against “High White Sheriff.” James Rasco buys the nightclub after the nephew enters the witness protection program.

And sometimes things tragically remain the same. Enters Deputy Sheriff Marvin Williams – “Black!” Sheriff Williams is angry. He believes Rasco, the new owner of the nightclub, should continue business as usual. Show Me The Money! James Rasco refuses.

And Williams tells Rasco that he will get him! I will get you one way or the other, even through your daughters!

We have to remember that Frantz Fanon tells us there’s the violence of the perpetrators and there’s the violence of resisters. The violence of the former disrupts human potential while the later disrupts tyranny motivated by hate. Who was Marvin Williams really? In this narrative, what does he represent?

Time passes.

The Scott sisters, stop by a local store. It is December 23, 1993. Jamie (22) and Gladys (19) Scott, two young mothers, have run out of heating fuel. They drive to the local store in town. But when they exit the store, the car will not start up!

The women decide to leave the car and begin walking home when they hear voices. There are two Black men, cousins, in their 20s, known as the Duckworth men. Gladys recognizes one of them from the chicken plant where she and Jamie work. The Duckworth cousins offer to take the women home. Jamie, however, pays the men $10 dollars.

It was the Scott Sisters!

But the ride home was far from pleasant. According to Jamie, one of the men began touching her. The women exit the car and started walking home. Again, Jamie and Gladys hear a commotion from behind them, but they don’t stop.

Jamie and Gladys finally arrive home. Soon, three young men, 2 brothers and a cousin, known as the Patrick Men, knock at their door. The Patrick Men, 14, 16, and 18 years old, tell the sisters that the two Duckworth men started a fight with them. That’s it.

It’s Christmas Eve. Morning.

There’s a knock at the Scott sisters’ door. It’s Sheriff Marvin Williams. He’s come to arrest Jamie and Gladys!

Sheriff Marvin Williams had a story to tell the court, the residents of Scott County, and the media…

But he has to work on it!

First, the sisters are charged with conspiracy to rob the Duckworth men of $9-11 dollars, but Sheriff Williams has a little talk with the Duckworth cousins and the Patrick Men. The “victims” (one with 3 convictions for DWI) point to the Scott sisters. The Patrick Men (one if not two of them with previous run-ins with the law), threatened by Sheriff Williams with time at Parchman prison, where they would “be made out of women” if they didn’t cooperate and single out the Scott sisters, agreed. It was the Scott sisters! Now, according to Sheriff Williams, the Scott sisters robbed the older men of $200 – at gun point! Armed robbery!

The Patrick Men confessed to the robbery, but why let truth get in the way of a good story!

Sheriff Williams has his revenge

A gun was never located, and the “stolen” wallet was recovered in streets, according to an affidavit by a trustee of the jail. The wallet “re-appeared” 2 days later with a photo ID of the “victim” and $60 dollars! This same trustee also claims that the “armed robbery” never happened. Only later, in affidavits, did the “victims” and the Patrick Men confessed to being coerced and threatened by Sheriff Marvin Williams.

But this is a narrative of violence, of vengeance and not of justice.

Family-hired lawyers advised Jamie and Gladys not to testify, and there were several potential witnesses to the character and innocence of the Scott sisters. But, only one will do or not! Five witnesses in court told conflicting stories, but all declared that Jamie and Gladys are innocent.

And the judge? Judge Marcus Gordon has a bit of a history, American history. In 1964, 3 civil rights workers, Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman were found dead. Edgar Ray Killens was found guilty for the murder of these 3 men – in 2005! Guess who was the judge? Killens, an old KKK organizer, was charged with 3 counts of manslaughter (not murder) and sentenced to 20 years in prison for each count.

But why bother about this history!

But Sheriff Williams has his revenge. The jury deliberates for 36 minutes and the verdict: Guilty! Jamie and Gladys both received double life sentences! And the sisters do not possess any criminal record!

Narratives of violence ensnarl people of color and effectively disrupt the lives as well as the well being of women and children.

Five children grew up without the care and attention of their mothers for the last 14 years. One sister gave birth in prison!

In those 14 years, James Rasco dies of a heart attack. Both Sheriffs Warren and Williams are also dead.

And these Black women? Their safety depends on their silence! They linger in fear.

How many Black women, Black mothers, innocent, linger behind bars in the United States? How many have stories that are invisible, absent from the discourse on incarceration and injustice?

Angela Davis writes, Mumia Abu Jamal recalls, that once communism was no longer “the quintessential enemy” in the U.S., it was replaced “by ideological constructions of crime, drugs, immigration, and welfare.” Of course, she writes, “the enemy within is far more dangerous than the enemy without, and a black enemy within is the most dangerous of all.”

Can you imagine Jamie and Gladys as white women framed by a Black or a white sheriff?

Evelyn Rasco has been fighting for her daughters’ release the last 14 years. Rasco lost her husband and an older daughter who died of congenital heart failure in 2001. This daughter left behind a 5 year old child. In these last 14 years, Rasco has tried to be the grandmother and the mother of 10 children (includes grandchildren of Jamie and Gladys) while sustaining the battle to free her two remaining daughters from prison.

Eleven of those 14 years, Rasco wrote letters to Operation Push / Rainbow Coalition. No response. She writes to Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. asking him to submit a letter to Push / Rainbow. The congressman submits this letter to Nancy Lockhart at Push / Rainbow. Lockhart, working on a Masters in Jurisprudence at Loyola University Chicago at the time, contacted Evelyn Rasco.

Lockhart discovers that Rasco not only wrote letters to Operation Push / Rainbow Coalition without ever receiving a response, but in 1998 and 1999, Jamie and Gladys Scott appealed to the Innocence Project in Mississippi and in New Orleans.

No response.

Lockhart contacted the Innocence Project to ask why the organization refuses to respond to the Scotts.

No response.

The ACLU refuses to respond to the case.

No longer with Operation Push / Rainbow Coalition, Nancy Lockhart has dedicated her full attention to the Scott sisters’ case. As a Volunteer Legal Analyst for the Committee to Free the Scott Sisters, Lockhart has worked on the Scott sisters’ case without financial resources for the last 4 years. For Lockhart, the case represents a wrongful conviction.

Rasco and Lockhart have both written to the U.S. department of Justice Civil Rights Division. And only recently did Rasco receive a response!

We apologize for our delay in responding

Here’s the response from Steven Harrell, Paralegal Specialist:

Criminal section – PHB
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Ms. Rasco:

This is in response to your letter post marked February 13, 2009, in which you allege that Jamie and Gladys Scott were wrongfully convicted of armed robbery in 1994. You further allege that, in order to obtain this conviction, local law enforcement officers intimidated a witness. We apologize for our delay in responding.

The Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division is responsible for enforcing federal criminal civil rights statutes. Much of our enforcement activity relates to the investigation and prosecution of deprivations of civil rights under color of law. These matters generally involve allegations of excessive physical force or sexual abuse by law enforcement officers.

Please note that federal criminal civil rights laws have a five year statute of limitations from the date of the incident. Since the incident in question occurred in 1994, we regret that we are unable to assist you. This is not a judgment on the truth or merit of your complaint, it is simply to inform you that, because the relevant statute of limitations has expired, this office can not prosecute this case.

Inasmuch as you feel that Jamie and Gladys Scott were wrongly convicted, you may wish to contact The Innocence Project, a national organization dedicated to the exoneration of the wrongly convicted. You may contact the Innocence Project by sending correspondence to info@innocenceproject.org

Sincerely,
Mark J. Kappelhoff
Section Chief
Criminal Section
Civil Rights Division

By:
(Signature)
Steven Harrell
Paralegal Specialists
Criminal section

“Now this is untrue, as Mrs. Rasco started writing the Civil Rights Division 14 years ago,” Lockhart says.

Mrs. Rasco initially started writing the Justice Department in 1994. She has not passed any statutory limits. The response that she has received is an untruth. She has written many times and the previous responses have been, “your information will be forwarded to the correct department.” She has written the Criminal Division of the Civil Rights Department as well.

Lockhart also contacted Attorney General, Eric Holder, and as of the writing of this article, Lockhart has not received a response.

She also sent a letter to President Barack Obama. No response.

In October 2008, Nancy Lockhart hears Rev. Al Sharpton’s voice on the radio. She calls in and tells him the Scott sisters’ story. Sharpton says, “That sounds like the Troy Davis.” Lockhart reminded him that situation with the Scott Sisters is different. Davis was on Death Row. “Let me give you to my assistant so we can get in touch with you,” Sharpton says. The “assistant” is someone from a consultant firm. Someone will contact her soon.

So Lockhart waits for a call from the National Action Network (NAN). Time passes, again, and Lockhart calls NAN. She is told to contact a Mrs. Davis, and she is told to call at 10 a.m. the next day. “I called every day for two weeks at 10 a.m.” Lockhart sent information to Mrs. Davis, but she never heard from Mrs. Davis again. A month passed. Months pass. Finally, in April 2009, Lockhart receives a call from NAN or rather the consultant firm, informing her that there is a chapter in Louisiana. Lockhart is given a couple of numbers call.

But Lockhart has to call NAN again. The numbers are useless. “One was a fax number and the other was a disconnected number,” recalls Lockhart. The consultant tells Lockhart that there are other chapters. Which is closest to Mississippi – Savannah, Georgia or Atlanta, Georgia, Mrs. Davis asks?

Do I need to say that, in the end, Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network are missing in action!

But are we? You do not have to remain silent!

Lockhart: The Case of the Scott Sisters was featured along with other important information regarding the Mississippi wrongfully convicted on the May 22, 2009, on One Black Man’s View radio program! Just scroll down to Event Description, highlight the first item for May 22, 2009 and click the second button on the left to play and listen. So please visit http://blacktalkradio.ning.com/events/one-black-mans-view-5222009?rsvpConfirm=1 and please visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/justiceforall/2009/04/16/Scott-Sisters-Sentenced-to-Double-Life-No-One-Died-or-Was-Hospitalized and share so that others can understand fully what this case is about!

Next, Nancy Lockhart has provided a sample letter to be sent to Attorney General Eric Holder:

Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

The Honorable Attorney General Holder:

I am writing to request that you investigate the case of Jamie and Gladys Scott. The Scott Sisters were given double life sentences each in October of 1994 for armed robbery in the state of Mississippi. No one was injured or murdered. One witness states that about 11 dollars was netted in the armed robbery. All witnesses and victims of this crime have testified that the Scott Sisters were not involved in the robbery. Witnesses testified that they were coerced and threatened to lie on the Scott Sisters.

A 14 year old witness testified that he signed a statement which was prepared for him before he entered Deputy Sheriff Marvin Williams’ Office. This statement was signed by the 14 year old without an attorney present. He was told that he would be released from the local jail the next morning if he signed it. He was not released.

This is an egregious wrongful conviction and the Scott Sisters have suffered now 14 years 8 months of double life sentences.

Jamie and Gladys Scott are housed in Pearl, Mississippi. Their ID numbers are Jamie Scott #19197 and Gladys Scott # 19142.

Sincerely,
(Your Name)

Finally, to discuss strategies to organize the release of Jamie and Gladys Scott, to sign the petition, and to donate to the Committee to Free the Scott Sisters, please contact:

Nancy R. Lockhart
Volunteer Legal Analyst
Committee to Free the Scott Sisters

641-715-3900 – ext. 99222

Updates: http://www.freethescottsisters.com
Petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Free-Jamie-Gladys/index.html

http://www.blackcommentator.com/327/327_ror_scott_wrongfully_convicted.html

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has been a writer, for over thirty years of commentary, resistance criticism and cultural theory, and short stories with a Marxist sensibility to the impact of cultural narrative violence and its antithesis, resistance narratives. With entrenched dedication to justice and equality, she has served as a coordinator of student and community resistance projects that encourage the Black Feminist idea of an equalitarian community and facilitator of student-teacher communities behind the walls of academia for the last twenty years. Dr. Daniels holds a PhD in Modern American Literatures, with a specialty in Cultural Theory (race, gender, class narratives) from Loyola University, Chicago.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

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FREETHESCOTTSISTERS-subscribe@topica.com

Support the Viva Palestina USA Convoy to Gaza!

On the heels of the recent success of the Viva Palestina: Lifeline from Britain to Gaza medical aid convoy of over 100 vehicles headed by British Minister of Parliament George Galloway from the Respect Party, a similar effort will be launched from the United States. Leaving on July 4th and led by Galloway and Vietnam veteran and antiwar activist Ron Kovic, Viva Palestina: A Lifeline from the United States to Gaza promises to be an even larger mobilization of solidarity resources to help the people of Gaza and draw attention to their heroic struggle.

Organizers are accepting applications to go on the Convoy which leaves from New York and will gather in Cairo, Egypt from where they will travel to cross the Rafah border into Gaza—hopefully without any obstacles from the craven Egyptian government. Organizers are aiming for at least 500 vehicles and $10,000,000 in material aid.

Even if you are not able to go on this historic voyage, you can still donate money, medical supplies or other humanitarian aid to help out.

The Chicago-based Convoy organizers are partnering with the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organizations/Pastors for Peace (IFCO), a long-established humanitarian 501(c)(3) organization to accept donations. The Viva Palestina website will soon have a paypal link, but in the meantime, you can send tax-deductible donations (check or well-concealed cash) directly to IFCO at:

Viva Palestina USA – IFCO
47 West Polk Street
Suite 100 – 403
Chicago, IL 60605-2085

Caravan organizers are also encouraging other ways to help out. Below is from their donation info page:

There are dozens of creative ways to assist Viva Palestina USA in its goal to provide humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza!

For instance, you can:
• Contact hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and physician’s offices to gather non-expired, legal medicines and medical supplies, first aid kits, hygiene materials, prosthetics, and other medical assisting devices (e.g. wheelchairs, crutches, slings, casts).
• Donate the cost of an airline ticket or donate your transferable frequent flier miles or airline vouchers for another to meet us in New York or Cairo or, better still, donate the cost of the convoy if you are unable to come with us!
• Donate the cost of a vehicle for purchase in Cairo.
• Attend the convoy as a media representative or photographer/videographer and document the convoy’s journey and experiences and donate the final product to Viva Palestina for use or distribution.

To volunteer or for more ideas on how you can help, write to: usinformation@vivapalestina.org

On a personal note, I’ve applied to go on the convoy myself, hopefully being able to leave from Caracas (I live in Venezuela) and hook up with folks in Cairo. All of us prospective attendees are expected to fundraise to defray our costs and buy medical supplies to bring in our suitcases. Right now, I’m in the process of raising funds for airfare and whatever supplies I can pack. As an anti-Zionist Jew, I especially want to make a personal statement that the siege of Gaza and the massacring of Palestinians will not be done in MY name.

If you would like to help me out, please contact me directly at my personal email: ftlpaul@yahoo.com. Even if it turns out that I cannot go, any funds that I’m able to raise will go directly to benefit the work of the Viva Palestina USA Convoy.

Observations on a Venezuelan Workplace Struggle

This past April, I had the privilege to participate in a brief campaign to defend workplace rights here in the Andean city of Mérida, Venezuela where I currently live. The campaign was to defend a very well regarded and popular director of the local Comedor Popular (“popular dining hall”) located in downtown Mérida and run by the government of the state of Mérida.

Five times a week, the comedor, like thousands of other dining halls scattered throughout the country, serves hot nutritious lunches and dinners at a very low price, or for free to those who can’t even afford that. Every day, many merideños take advantage of the tasty, nutritious and ample meals served there. I usually eat lunch there a few times per week. For five bolivars—the equivalent of less than a dollar at the “parallel” currency exchange rate, or about $2.50 at the official rate—you get soup, a main course, rice, a salad, vegetables, yucca or plantain, natural fruit juice, and sometimes dessert. During the busy lunch hour, you may have to wait a half hour or more to get served cafeteria-style, but it’s almost always a chance to see friends, make new ones, and maybe catch up on news of local political importance. Most, but not all, of the overwhelmingly working class and poor people who eat there would count themselves as supporters of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution.


Serving lunch at the comedor

The case of Mayela Rodriguez

Mayela Rodriguez, the director of Mérida’s flagship comedor is, in my view, no small part of why the place felt so inviting. I was introduced to her shortly after first eating there and she truly is a highly personable human being. You can quickly see why so many in the community and the 30 or so employees there are so devoted to her. Anyone who knows her seems to like and respect her. She radiates a strong sense that she takes her role of guaranteeing high-quality nutritional food for all extremely seriously.


A typical lunch

So it came as a shock to people when Mayela was abruptly terminated from her position as head of the comedor and told she had to take a cook position in El Vigia, a city about an hour from here. Workers and community members immediately took to organizing a campaign for her immediate reinstatement.

The ostensible reason given for her dismissal was that Mayela lacked a university degree. However, she has had 15 years of experience in the field and a federal certification that was regarded as an equivalent. What seemed to be the common speculation was that because Mayela is an honest administrator, certain powers-that-be high up in the Autonomous Institute of Nourishment and Nutrition of the State of Mérida (known by its Spanish initials IAANEM), the administrators of the facility, likely wanted her out in order to replace her with someone pliable and corrupt. The director for the each comedor is in charge of making purchasing decisions where corruption could easily filter in. I should emphasize that this was merely widely-held speculation and that there was no direct proof of this. But I have no reason to believe it’s not true.

After less than 24 hours of a worker-community struggle on this issue, Mayela was able to win her position back. Upper management who shared responsibility for either making this unfortunate decision, or had the unenviable task of trying to explain it publicly, were suddenly forced to backpedal and apologize to her in a public meeting in which all the workers and a few dozen community members were present, including myself.

So how did this happen? What makes Mayela’s story of success so much different than what usually happens to a worker in the United States fighting the same kind of thing?

USA: Arbitration behind closed doors

As a union steward in the U.S., I’ve seen my share of wrongful terminations. First, as an AFSCME steward in a service and maintenance workers union at the University of Michigan, then later in a similar capacity in Broward County, Florida for an OPEIU local representing county “professional” workers. I’ve seen that even with clear evidence, with union representation including a union and/or lawyer committed to the case, and with solid evidence of discrimination or harassment, workers still end up losing. To win a case often takes several years. Even then—as is all too familiar to labor advocates—there’s usually little or no punitive damages to management. Fighting such cases almost always involve a number of legal and/or labor-management hearings such as arbitration spread over a very long period of time and can be very expensive. Quite often, union leaderships simply abandon most cases given the expense and an overall reluctance to take on management.

It’s a long cumbersome process that usually goes on behind closed doors and with a deck stacked against working people. That’s how it is in the U.S.

It was very different with this struggle here in Mérida, Venezuela.

The comedor is a public institution run by the state of Mérida. The governor and the most of the governmental apparatus nationwide is in the hands of the governing party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, or as it’s known by its Spanish initials, the PSUV. This is the party led by head of state President Hugo Chávez Frias.

Venezuela: Community support for workers

When word spread about Mayela’s removal as head of the comedor, members of the community and workers quickly mobilized. Petitions were drawn up during the lunch rush and circulated. Germán Morales, an artist and revolutionary (who, in the interests of full disclosure, is also my partner) led the charge, climbing the railing where people had lined up for lunch, denouncing her dismissal and urging people to sign petitions. Over the course of the day, he and others had gathered hundreds of signatures from the public.

That evening, comedor workers met with several community supporters to plot strategy. A meeting had been planned by upper management for the next day to try to explain the situation to the workers. The strategy of Mayela’s supporters was to also get people there and demand her reinstatement at this meeting which was set for 9am the next day in the main dining hall.

Germán and I arrived at that meeting at 9am. One male security guard and one policewoman were also present. Initially the idea of opening up the meeting to the community was resisted. However, they had to relent in the face of opposition to this and with the acknowledgment that this was a public issue and therefore constitutionally had to be considered an open public meeting. Soon more community members trickled in. Mayela was there along with her husband and all the workers. Several representatives of upper management were there as well, mostly wearing red, the official color of the PSUV.

As the head administrator for the location, Mayela is not represented by a union. Her defense was conducted by herself, her husband, community supporters, and workers. The workers and community assembled weren’t buying any official doubletalk. Germán and others spoke of further actions including a picket/boycott and mass demonstrations if Mayela was not reinstated. Mayela spoke movingly and compellingly on her own behalf.

Sensing that the workers and community were united and determined to continue this struggle with further actions and lots of bad publicity, the management representatives were forced to back down. Mayela was promised her job back immediately. Apologies were made to her on the spot.

We had won.

Pro-socialist government, capitalist state

What was especially interesting to me was that everyone there spoke in terms of what was best for the revolution and the interests of “socialism.” This included the workers, community members and upper management who were either responsible for the decision or were there to defend it. This is true even of the most self-interested, opportunist and ultimately pro-capitalist government bureaucrats. That’s the contradictory reality of Venezuela today: a pro-socialist government administrating what is still a capitalist state (albeit one that has been transformed through mass struggle from a more traditional clientist neocolonial model) and presiding over an economy that overwhelmingly remains in private hands.

The administrators at all levels of the Venezuelan state run the gamut from the most sincere and revolutionary-minded to the most self-interested and opportunistic. Unfortunately, despite good rhetoric to the contrary, the model of a top-down management still prevails within the state sector. Thus workplace struggles like this one will emerge just as they would in any bourgeois state.

“Here, the people lead”

The difference is that here in Venezuela, there is at least a commitment in stated policy and in the Constitution of the Fifth Republic adopted in 1999 mandating that “here the people lead”. People take that seriously. The workers and community members united in this struggle fully believed that this was part of a revolutionary defense of their interests, a gain that had to be defended. That we had to go through this at all shows that there still is a capitalist state at work here. But the fact that this fight was essentially socialized from the very start—that those making the decision had to react to the mobilized workers and community—is something that makes the Venezuela of today very different. Those responsible for this unpopular decision had to reverse course immediately and in front of all assembled.

The perception of “here the people lead” is what’s crucial. With Mayela’s firing, that was initially taken away, but then reasserted. It’s the mere fact that people expect to be in control that makes a real difference.

It’s that sense of self-confidence on the part of the Venezuelan working class that continues to be so inspiring. This self-confidence is the key ingredient that can serve to propel the great masses of people forward to create the organizations needed in order to overthrow capitalism and democratically administer all the resources of society. We saw a small example of this in winning Mayela’s job back. We’ll need more of it to win bigger victories ahead.

In Venezuela, as elsewhere around the globe, it’s this sense of self-confidence and self-organization on the part of the working class and all the oppressed that will be the ultimate difference between our victory and our defeat.

A cover for preserving racism: The "U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan To Eliminate Racial Discrimination"

I think it’s noteworthy that once again Brazil’s Lula government is running interference for U.S. imperial interests in the wake of the walkout at the Durban UN international conference on racism on behalf of Israel’s Zionist apartheid. For Obama, it’s an opportunity to stake out some cheap and ultimately empty rhetoric while appearing to have a progressive plan on ending racial discrimination.

Of course, for both the U.S. and Brazilian ruling classes, dealing with the historical legacy of institutionalized racism has never been a particular strong point. Nothing really has changed in this regard.

The U.S. imperial class needs to repackage itself under the Obama brand. Its junior partner Brazilian elite uses late social democracy to promote its interests by adopting a neoliberal agenda domestically and loyal opposition to the world capitalist trade frameworks.

Brazil’s elite seeks to cover its ultimate capitulation to U.S. corporate and financial globalization, but the two ruling classes complement each other nicely. Like they did during WHO and FTAA negotiations, or the decision to send Brazilian troops to Haiti. So now promoting the murderous and racist colonialist ideology of Zionism is part of the Brazilian government’s junior role on behalf of U.S. imperialism. Nice.

Here’s the blah blah blah from the U.S. State Department’s invitation to their press conference to announce this earth-shaking initiative. Even without the “best practices” and “private sector participants” rhetoric, you get the idea:

Democracy, Human Rights, Refugees: U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan To Eliminate Racial Discrimination
Tue, 28 Apr 2009 20:43:54 -0500

*U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan To Eliminate Racial Discrimination*

Bureau of Public Affairs
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
April 28, 2009

Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas A. Shannon and Brazil’s Minister for Promotion of Racial Equality Edson Santos will address the press and answer questions at a joint walkout at the C Street Entrance of the State Department at 12:10 p.m., on Wednesday, April 29, 2009.

The remarks will follow the first morning session of the conference of the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial Discrimination. The U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan is a landmark bilateral agreement involving not only agencies of the two governments, but also non-governmental, academic and private sector organizations from both countries. The April 29-30 meeting will be the second gathering under the Joint Action Plan and will provide an opportunity for civil society and private sector participants to discuss best practices and next steps.

Media representatives may attend this event upon presentation of one of the following: (1) A U.S. Government-issued identification card (Department of State, White House, Congress, Department of Defense or Foreign Press Center), (2) a media-issued photo identification card, or (3) a letter from their employer on letterhead verifying their employment as a journalist, accompanied by an official photo identification card (driver’s license, passport).

*PRESS CONTACT
*Heide Bronke Fulton
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
_whapress@state.gov_
(202) 647-0842

Mumia, Miami, May 1st

Thinking forward to an auspicious May 1st this year.

May 1 is celebrated worldwide as International Workers Day. May Day 2009 promises to be more interesting this year given the increasingly deepening crisis of legitimacy that afflicts capitalism on a global scale.

For May Day 2009–in a city not widely thought of as exactly being a hotbed of proletarian internationalism–an impressive and highly diverse coalition of groups coming from the workers/immigrant rights’ movement and progressive social struggles such as antiwar/peace and international solidarity groups has emerged to organize a march and rally.

That city is Miami and the city’s May Day protest is taking place in its very heart of this city, a city that is much more readily associated with right-wing Cuban-American terrorism than international working class solidarity. The rally and march, complete with speakers, music and spoken word will take place during that Friday’s afternoon downtown rush hour on Brickell “Bank” Avenue.

Read more about this organizing here: http://miami.indymedia.org/news/2009/04/13053.php. Be sure to check the list of groups that are sponsoring it listed on the poster.

Thinking about Mumia. While remaining a living symbol of the racism, repression and complete injustice of the U.S. criminal “justice” system, Pennsylvania Black death row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal writes about this year’s May Day and the tasks of the international workers’ movement. This while his own case reaches a very key legal conjunction (see, and be sure to sign the petition at: http://www.freemumia.com/civilrights.html

Here’s what Mumia had to say about May Day 2009. Thanks to Sis. Marpessa Kupendua for passing this along and providing the additional support information that follows Mumia’s column.

May Day ’09
[Speech writ. 3/23/09] (c) ’09 Mumia Abu-Jamal

While May Day has historically been a day of worker’s solidarity and a celebration of labor power, this is not a day or year like any other.

That’s because many nations are in the midst of economic recession and financial failure, and it is workers worldwide who are suffering from layoffs and mass firings in almost every sector of the global economy.

While labor is depressed, capital is aggregating to itself bigger and larger shares of national and global wealth, as governments rush to bail out banks and investment firms, but only if they are “too big to fail.”

Under the newly amended rules of capitalism, corporations (especially in the financial sector) can scam, steal, and hustle virtually everyone, and when the economy falls, the government sails in and bails them out with public money!

Under a system such as this, capitalism can never lose. It’s like a gambling casino, where the house rules change every half hour (or depending on who’s winning and who’s losing!)

But workers are losing.

Around the world, workers are facing lost jobs, vanished careers, foreclosed homes, and families broken and shattered against the grinding wheel of Capital.

This will be one hell of a May Day — but it’s the one that globalized capital has fashioned for us all.

Only if labor is truly globalized can it fight for and demand its fair share from the ravages of capitalism.

Let that be our mission for May Day — and for tomorrow.

–(c) ’09 maj
=================

Audio of most of Mumia’s essays are at: http://www.prisonradio.org

http://mumiapodcast.libsyn.com/
Mumia’s got a podcast! Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Radio Essays – Subscribe at the website or on iTunes and get Mumia’s radio commentaries online.

The Power of Truth is Final — Free Mumia!

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s new book — JAILHOUSE LAWYERS: PRISONERS DEFENDING PRISONERS V. THE USA, featuring an introduction by Angela Y. Davis — will be released soon! It will be available from City Lights Books at a 30% discount weeks before you can get it at any other bookstore, or from Amazon. Sign up for an email alert and when the book becomes available for sale you’ll receive an email letting you know: http://www.citylights.com/book/?GCOI=87286100448090

In support of Mumia and the publication of JAILHOUSE LAWYERS, organizations around the country will be holding “More Than a Book Party” events on or around Mumia’s birthday, April 24, 2009. If you are planning to organize an event or would like to order in bulk, you can also receive a 45% discount on any bulk orders of 20 copies or more. The book retails for $16.95, for orders of 20 copies or more the discounted price would be $9.32 per book, plus shipping and handling. Prepayment would be required and books are nonreturnable. If you or your organization would like to place a bulk order, please contact Stacey Lewis at 415.362.1901 or stacey@citylights.com

Let’s use the opportunity of the publication of this brilliant, moving, vintage Mumia book to build the momentum for his case, to raise the money we desperately need in these challenging economic times, to get the word out – to produce literature, flyers, posters, videos, DVD’s; to send organizers out to help build new chapters and strengthen old ones, TO GET THE PEOPLE OUT IN THE STREETS … all the work that we must do in order to FREE MUMIA as he faces LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE OR EXECUTION!

Please make a contribution to help free Mumia. Donations to the grassroots work will go to both INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL and the FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL COALITION (NYC).

www.freemumia.com

Please mail donations/ checks to:
FREE MUMIA ABU JAMAL COALITION
PO BOX 16, NEW YORK,
NY 10030
(CHECKS FOR BOTH ORGANIZATIONS PAYABLE TO: FMAJC/IFCO)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
215 476-8812
212-330-8029
Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:

Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
SCI-Greene
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

WE WHO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM CAN *NOT* REST!!

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