Guantanamo Hunger Strike Update
Lynne Stewart Petition for Compassionate Release
Michael Ratner Visits Julian Assange: Kissinger Documents
Chris Hedges: The Death of Truth
MOVE Bombing: 28th Anniversary
This week marks the 28th anniversary of an armed police mission in Philadelphia that ended in a helicopter bombing of the headquarters of the group known as MOVE. The fire commissioner in that city allowed a fire to rage unabated at 6221 Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia, killing six adults and five children, destroying 65 homes and leaving more than 200 people homeless. Despite two Grand Jury investigations, and a commission finding that top officials were grossly negligent, no one from city government was ever criminally charged. A recent film called Let the Fire Burn chronicles the events leading up to the conflagration.
- The government, through the media, had misled people to believe that what happened in May of 1985 was because of complaints from neighbors, which is absolutely not true.
- What happened on May 13, 1985 happened because of our unrelenting fight for the release of our innocent sisters and brothers known as the MOVE 9, who were arrested in August 1978.
- After years of abuse, physical abuse, judicial abuse by this system, MOVE babies being killed through miscarriage and a 3-week-old baby being trampled to death by police, after countless unprovoked beatings of MOVE men and women, children, even pregnant women, MOVE people took a stand and said listen, we are uncompromisingly opposed to violence, we’re a peaceful people, but we’re not stupid and we’re not masochistic or suicidal.
- We do believe in self-defense, which is the law, the law of life. There is not a species on this Earth that doesn’t defend itself, when threatened, when attacked.
- When MOVE took that stand, the government became enraged.
- They alleged housing code violations, and they wanted MOVE to move out of the home based on housing code violations.
- MOVE people wouldn’t go along with that. A judge gave MOVE people until August 1 to get out.
- On August 2, 1985, a judge issued warrants on any MOVE people he knew of, including people he knew were not in the house.
- After the warrants were issued, hundreds and hundreds of cops were sent out to our home.
- They shot thousands of bullets into that house. The fire department used deluge hoses to flood our home.
- The officer that was killed was standing on street level while everybody including the police acknowledged that all MOVE people were in the basement of our home.
- This policeman was shot by a bullet traveling on a downward angle.
- Hours after I was arrested on August 17, the city sent a demolition team out and completely demolished MOVE’s home, which was the scene of the crime.
- The MOVE 9 trial was a bench trial, not a jury trial.
- They did it to silence our righteous protest and our unrelenting fight for the release of our family, the MOVE 9.
- They came out to our home on Mother’s Day, May 12, 1985, with warrants they obtained on May 11.
- The Fire Department, as in 1978, was their first mode of attack.
- They came out there to kill, that’s the bottom line.
- When their ten thousand rounds of bullets didn’t kill us, the water hoses, the tear gas didn’t do the job, they concocted a bomb made from powerful military explosives, C4.
- They got the C4 from the federal government, from the FBI.
- The state police helicopter flew over our home without any warning, and two Philadelphia Police bomb squad police officers dropped that bomb on the roof our home. It ignited a fire. They made a conscious decision not to put the fire out.
Guest – Ramona Africa, the sole adult survivor of the 1985 police bombing of the home occupied by members of the MOVE organization.
Assata Shakur Placed on FBI Terror List
Last week, the FBI placed Assata Shakur on its Most Wanted Terrorists list, while the state of New Jersey raised the bounty on her head to $2 million. These actions fall on the 40th anniversary of the 1973 shootout in in which police allege Shakur killed a police officer during a traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. Assata, also known as JoAnne Deborah Byron, is an African-American activist who was a member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army. Assata Shakur: Understanding the Politics Behind the FBI’s New Attack.
I think putting a 65-year-old grandmother on the FBI terrorist list is a reflection of the United States government’s fear of that which opposes it.
Assata Shakur was part of the ’60s movements, movements that the Nixon administration attempted to criminalize, to criminalize political dissent and political opposition to the US government and its imperial moves around the world.
She does fit the profile of what the US government has been trying to perpetuate for the last 30 years, in a sense an extension of COINTELPRO.
One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.
Assata Shakur’s actions and beliefs are certainly not something that is beyond the pale but the US government views her as a terrorist.
By placing her on this terrorist list, it’s a way of criminalizing dissent.
Assata’s trial was moved several times, to counties that were mostly wealthy, mostly white, where pre-trial publicity around the case had biased people in a major way against Assata Shakur.
When the government wants to put someone away and they know they don’t have the evidence, they want to do everything possible to both manipulate the venue and also bring in people whose predisposition will make them more likely to believe the government’s version of events.
Assata was in a position to be put in prison for the rest of her life in these soul-crushing conditions.
The day before this happened, the US government refused to remove Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list. This is used in part for keeping Cuba on that list, and also to give a chilling effect to progressive movements in the United States.
The US seems to be redefining what is considered a “terrorist action” and what its responses are.
We see it in the lockdown of Boston, the reclassification of Assata Shakur, the issuing of the drone memo of what eminence actually means.
The US is attempting to create ambiguity in the statutes.
Guest – Eugene Puryear. Eugene is a writer and on the editorial board of Liberation, the newspaper of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
Coalition of Immokalee Workers Fair Food Program: Wendy’s
Last year Trader Joe’s and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers signed an agreement that formalized Trader Joe’s support for the CIW’s Fair Food Program, a hard-won victory. Since then efforts have turned to companies such as Publix supermarkets in Florida and the Wendy’s fast food chain. Recently, Fair Food activists across the country visited their local Wendy’s to deliver a message: it’s time to join the rest of the fast food industry and support the Fair Food Program.
- We’re farm workers who come from the town of Immokalee, Florida, in the southwestern part of the state. Our community is a farm worker community and for many years we faced a number of different kinds of exploitation: poverty, wage theft, physical and verbal abuse, as well as sexual harassment of many women working in the fields.
- We began our campaign, focused on the big corporate buyers of the produce that we pick, back in 2001, in an effort to improve wages and working conditions in the fields. We began with Taco Bell and from there had campaigns with McDonald’s and Burger King, until 11 other companies came to the table to dialogue with farm workers and work on improving the wages and working conditions in their supply chains.
- We’re here in New York focused on Wendy’s fast food chain. For a number of years the coalition has been sending letters to the fast food chain asking them to join the Fair Food Program. We launched a public campaign with them earlier this year but thus far they have ignored us.
- We want Wendy’s to do what most of these corporations have done, which is pay one penny more for each tomato that they buy.
- We’re here for the Wendy’s shareholder action, and we’re going to be organizing a protest on Saturday, May 18, at 2pm in Union Square to send a message to company’s investors that this is something that farm workers in the Wendy’s supply chain deserve. There will also be a number of actions taking place that day all over the country, standing in solidarity with the CIW.
Guest – Emilio Faustino, farm worker and Coalition of Immokalee Workers activist living in Florida. He is among other workers picking tomatoes by hand for 10 to 12 hours per day, getting paid 50 cents per bin, about $200-$283 dollars per week.
Guest – Joe Parker, CIW spokesman and translator.