I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

David Rovics: We Are Everywhere

To my fellow activists now struggling through life - let this be a reminder that you are not alone and that we desperately need you here. All the injustice, grief, war, and human suffering calls for us to stay and do everything we can about it - you can't help us anymore when you're gone. Don't give up the fight - your last shred of hope may just keep someone else alive, too.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Governor's Reply and I: Correspondence with the ADC.

Some of you may remember that I wrote to the Governor a couple of weeks ago about Davon Acklin, William Macumber, and the other prisoners that she's leaving to die behind bars - regardless of their illnesses, crimes or innocence. Yesterday I received a reply to that letter from the Office of Constituent Services at the Arizona Department of Corrections. Below is that email, followed by my response to it. I doubt I'll be hearing from them again - I kind of hit "send" when I was trying to "save" and proof it. This gives you the update, though.

FYI: the people I cc'd my response to are Charles Ryan (the Director of the ADC) and his corporate counsel, Karyn Klausner (who was pretty cool when she was a criminal defense attorney, in my book, because she stuck up for that 8-year old St. Johns kid that prosecutors wanted to charge as an adult for killing his dad. Still, try to avoid messing with her.)


BETTY CASSIANO Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 12:23 PM
Good morning Ms. Plews,

Your e-mail message to the Arizona Governor's office concerning Arizona Department of Corrections inmate was forwarded to me for response.

I sincerely appreciate your concern for both inmates and want to assure you that the Arizona Department of Corrections provides health care to incarcerated offenders consistent with community standards. Quality care and services responsive to the offender population include: medical services, mental health services, dental care, primary nursing care, and pharmacy services. Keeping offenders healthy is the basic platform from which the offender is prepared and supported to successfully complete basic education, work skills and experience, and recreational and leisure skills essential to building good citizenship and self-sufficiency. The Health Services Bureau also assists inmates in learning to develop and sustain personal wellness through ongoing education designed to augment healthy living while diminishing life-style habits that can lead to poor health and a decreased quality of life.

As you may know, medical information is strictly confidential and not available to inquirers in accordance with federal and state statutes.

Information about the Arizona Department of Corrections is available on the public website as follows: . I invite you to access the site for additional information about the Health Services Division and other areas of interest to you. The Constituent Services page provides access to a handbook which includes information about many areas of concern as well as a listing of applicable policies and contact numbers.

Betty J. Cassiano
ADC/Constituent Services Office

Peggy Plews Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 4:42 AM
Dear Mrs. Cassiano,

Don't believe everything that Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) health services administrators tell you - they either don't know squat, or they have a propensity for lying. In fact, their department can't even keep their medical records straight or accounted for. Davon needs a liver biopsy for anyone to be able to say how ill he really is (or isn't) from Hep C, and he needs genotyping to determine his chances of surviving this thing with early treatment. Unfortunately, resources are instead being spent trying to deflect his mother and I in our attempts to help him.

These are just stalling tactics - as is being referred to you. She and I are both done with the games.

I suspect it's going to cost Arizona more to fight us than it would have to competently diagnose and treat Davon early in the course of his infection, because now we're out to change the whole system. We may not be able to bust him out of there in time to prevent further damage from the virus, but he's going to end up getting options for medical care either now or later - all we need to do is to escalate this issue enough that the visibility brings other ADC families to us wondering why their mentally ill kid wasn't offered Hep C treatment, too, and we have a class action suit. In the meantime, you have a lot of highly-paid people spinning in circles doing absolutely nothing for that boy. That's a pathetic waste of precious taxpayer money, and we already spend more on you than on our schools.

As for standard medical protocols - "we're just following the leader" is no excuse. You've been warned specifically that neglecting Davon's medical care because he has a serious mental illness is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and your algorithms giving you that out are based on research that's over a decade old. Did you realize that? Did Ryan or Karyn Klausner? They'd better not be counting on their dental staff for guidance about whether or not the ADC is following good medical protocol regarding Hep C. Given the advances in the areas of diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment in recent years, that's malpractice in my book. Furthermore, the argument that he's too close to his out date to begin treatment now (because you want to assure that he completes it) is pretty flimsy. You all know full well that Julie would make sure he continued his treatment once released - especially after all this. Few prisoners have as supportive a family to go home to as Davon does.

What the American Correctional Association has to say about your protocols and standards is the last thing that will impress me - they're paid off by prison profiteers and have elected as their president the man who's presided over Mississippi's DOC as their prisoner mortality rate has shot up to the second highest in the country. In any case, I think every entity that promulgates the same standards that the ADC uses to determine who and when to treat for Hep C should also be sued for violating the ADA and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA). I'm sure to find a good attorney in each pertinent jurisdiction who will agree with me.

So, please don't bother writing to me again if you're just going to give me the standard line of ADC BS, as you do so well. It just pisses me off, and it disrespects those dying inside. Your people don't even know how sick Davon is because they refuse to do an adequate medical evaluation - lest a specialist finds something you have to treat (or get sued over for not treating) out of your grossly inflated budget. They apparently haven't even checked him out themselves, yet - for all the communication that Julie has had with you people all this time, now she's being told that unless Davon fills out a health request himself, he doesn't have any symptoms. That's very disconcerting - and the standard MO for departments of corrections trying to keep down health care/litigation costs by denying when prisoners are sick and putting up barriers to care in the first place. All of you are treating Julie like she's some kind of idiot - she probably knows more about Hep C now than most of your "experts". And she's learning fast where the money for Hep C + prisoners comes from and goes to (not to prisoners like Davon, clearly - the mentally ill, that is. They're apparently all a bad risk).

Don't bother trying to talk to Julie again either, by the way - all you seem to do is insult her.

As for disseminating info about funding mandates and ADA/CRIPA obligations (we're going to make new case law. Just watch): we have more than just Facebook and my blogs for public consumption. We see a whole lot of lives at stake here and are willing to put ourselves on the line over this - and our alliances now include the crew keeping a 24/7 watch at the capitol. They came to our vigil in May and cried as Julie told them about her son, while I passed out Spanish language literature about hep C. Then they blessed us with drumming and sage. Several former prisoners with Hep C came up to Julie to give her a hug and thank her for talking about it to fight the stigma; they always got the message that they're just criminals and therefore not worth saving. It was all pretty powerful. My brother has the video and is going to try to figure out how to put it on You Tube. I've also been contacted by a journalism student who does film editing and we discussed doing a project on Hep C in prison, using AZ as an example of what prisons do wrong. Especially to the mentally ill, who clearly aren't worth the expense or hassle of even finding out if they need treatment or not...

Unless you want to be the example of someone doing something right by the most vulnerable people in custody, instead. I kind of doubt Ryan will choose that route, though.

As for ADC's health services educating anyone, particularly prisoners: all Davon knows about his illness is what he feels and what his mother tells him. Clearly the people paid to "educate" patients and the public about Hep C aren't doing their job, or we wouldn't end up doing all this. I've read the literature they hand out on Hep C. After describing how ill one can get, one such fact sheet sarcastically concludes: "As you can see, it's better not to get this in the first place." Why am I writing a blog about Hep C and posting the latest research, not them? What did they do to recognize World Hepatitis Day in May? We want harm reduction programs in place both in and out of prison - this is absurd for this disease to still be killing people in 2010 when we know how to stop it. Prisoner health is public health, so don't think this starts and stops with you and no one else should worry about it. Remember ACT UP? You haven't seen anything yet. This (the first two photos below) was just to cheer Julie up - I staged it during AM rush hour in front of Fox News. Saving Davon is what this comes down to, not just freeing him.

Once we aren't competing with SB 1070, we're going to be out there raising hell and digging up more witnesses and claimants. We can be pretty creative; I'll escalate it as necessary to get local and national media on this, and I have a lot of friends who are sympathetic to prisoners and down for just about any kind of direct action that counters state violence - which is what I consider medical neglect of institutionalized persons to be. I have no fear left in me and very few inhibitions - I was already assaulted the night we did the candlelight vigil (hence my silence on the anniversary of Marcia's death - I was abandoning my home that day), and my car was vandalized two days later (nearly killed me on the highway when my tire went). All coincidence, I'm sure, that just knocked me off my feet for a little while - blessings in disguise to teach me that no matter what happens to me, exposing you people is the right thing to do.

As is exposing the Governor's brutality, who still has to answer for leaving Macumber to die. Even the New York Times is watching him (and now Liptak knows about Davon, as well), so please try not to kill him before he gets out of there. By the way, I can see the DOJ Googling your dead prisoners. I think they're on to you already for all those murders since Brewer/Ryan took over, aren't they? Maybe for the suicides, too - including that boy on the minors unit this spring. I have a packet to send off to them anyway, just in case they hadn't heard about everyone or didn't know that others cared out here.

Finally, rest assured that I know how to find everything I need on the ADC website now - I even notice what isn't there - and please don't ever refer me to your handbook of propaganda again for answers to serious questions like these.

Thank you for your time.

Margaret Jean Plews

(this email will be forwarded to the Governor's office and posted on my websites, lest it gets lost in the ether.)

Brewer Save Davon 719.JPG

Morning Rush Hour: July 19, 2010 (W. Washington St/7th Ave, Phoenix)

Brewer all signs 719.JPG

Morning Rush Hour: July 19, 2010 (W. Washington St/7th Ave, Phoenix)

ADC 716 Free Davon.JPG

Early Afternoon: July 16, 2010 (W. Jefferson St/15th Ave.; across from the ADC)

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881)

Prison Abolitionist
Arizona Prison Watch
Arizona Juvenile Prison Watch
Hard Time: Hep C in AZ Jails and Prisons
Free Marcia Powell

¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!

Perryville: The silent fall of Geshell Fernandez.

(UPDATE: September 21, 2010)

I tried to dig up some
information about Geshell other than court records, but there isn't much out there. In 2007 the courts had her address listed as "transient". Some of Geshell's convictions included drug-related charges and assault, all of which suggest that she was dually diagnosed with a serious mental illness and a substance abuse disorder. As recently as January 09 she had to be restored to competency in order to plead guilty to her crimes.

She had an even worse record in prison: within six months of killing herself, Geshell had been charged with assaulting both another prisoner and a guard. She was considered a 5/5 custody risk and housed in maximum security.

I just keep wondering, though: if she was so ill that the Department of Corrections couldn't manage her without putting her in max, then why wasn't she in a psychiatric hospital? Did they think she was
just being "bad"? That's why women with mental illness get more than our fair share of brutality, chemical restraint, and solitary. Our deviance isn't just a sign of distraction or distress, it's an outright rejection of the social order that Power depends on to maintain control. For that we need to be punished, apparently, to keep the rest of the women in line.

I didn't find any indication in my search that Geshell's family is around - couldn't find an obituary, even. Please feel free to contact me if you have any more information about this woman's life. She was only 28 when she died.

- Peggy Plews (09/21/2010)

--------------------from the original post, all I knew-----------------

Suicide in a community increases the risk to those most susceptible to follow suit. The number to the national suicide hotline is posted in the side column. The reason to call if you need to is in Phil Ochs' song, also in the side column. Stop, listen, call.

Our condolences go out to this young woman's loved ones.


1601 W. JEFFERSON PHOENIX, ARIZONA 85007 (602) 542-3133

For Immediate Release

For more information contact:

Barrett Marson

Bill Lamoreaux

July 23, 2010
Inmate Death Notification

Goodyear, Az.- Inmate Geshell Fernandez, ADC#196933, died while in Arizona Department of Corrections custody early Friday after apparently committing suicide.

Medical responders attempted life saving measures in her cell but Fernandez was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m.

Fernandez, 28, came to ADC in November 2009 after a conviction from Maricopa County for aggravated assault and a drug paraphernalia violation. She was serving 7.5 years and housed at ASPC-Perryville in the Lumley Unit.

The death is under investigation by the Department.


Friday, July 23, 2010

The Untapped Resource: NAACP Prison Branches

Got turned onto this by Charlie through the national CURE list-serve, or I wouldn't even have known there were prison branches of the NAACP. Not a lot makes me weep that isn't tragic - this did. I just developed a whole new level of respect for the organization. Congratulations to the prisoners of Branch 4003 of the NAACP - and thank you. Your persistence has no doubt opened the door to new possibilities for others.

NAACP's prison branch in Cameron gets its wish to host conventioneers

On Saturday, 20-some NAACP convention-goers walked through the metal detectors at the maximum security prison in Cameron, Missouri, to participate in a historic event. After years of planning and pleading, prisoners with the NAACP Branch #4003 at the Crossroads Correctional Facility were granted permission to host a seminar at the prison as part of the civil rights group's 101st convention in Kansas City.

Among the attendees: Effie Jones Bowers, a black student who desegregated Hall High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. "She has a thousand-watt smile," says Jon Marc Taylor, a Crossroads inmate and Branch #4003's convention and resolutions chairman.

NAACP Xroads.jpg
The banner reads, "Prison Branches: 'The Untapped Resource?'"

The event "went better than we had ever hoped for," Taylor tells The Pitch. "It was a historic, tremendous program."

Conventioneers showed up at the prison around 8:30 a.m. Saturday, and were treated to a catered lunch between discussion sessions. Topics included the disproportionate number of African-American men incarcerated in U.S. prisons and the challenges that felons face when they're released back into society. When the seminar ended at 3:15 p.m., Taylor says, "The guests didn't want to leave. We almost literally had to push 'em out the door."

Because of space restrictions, only 28 of the 60-some NAACP prison branch members took part in Saturday's events. Factors like seniority in the group helped determine which inmates attended.

Other attendees included Paula Skillicorn, widow of Dennis Skillicorn, a death row inmate who was executed in May 2009; Peter Wagner of the Prison Policy Initiative; the Rev. Elston McCowan, the Missouri NAACP's prison committee chairman; and Niaz Kasravi, the NAACP's national senior program manager for law enforcement accountability.

Taylor expressed gratitude to the leadership of the NAACP and to Larry Denney, Warden at the Crossroads prison, for allowing the session to take place. "We are pleasantly surprised by the level of cooperation and support we've received, and we really hope this is a great example of where we can go forward in the future with programs," Taylor says.

Where There is Darkness, Light...

This is stunning. In a time and place where we've come to expect the worst from our public servants, Mr. Romley seems to be emerging as a man who is willing to put his job - serving the people - before his career. Unfortunately, that's something of a miracle here.

I can think of a few people who could learn something from this, beginning with the governor herself. As some of you may know, she's left a man she knows to be innocent, William Macumber, to die in a prison cell.

I can also think of a few more innocent souls whose nightmares have yet to end.
Courtney Bisbee is one. Andrew Thomas buried the evidence that will exonerate her. God willing, Mr. Romley will have the political courage to set someone free again.

It's one thing to correct an injustice done on the watch of another, however. It's something else altogether to admit and fix the ones we own. Mr. Romley has a long history here; I hope he's willing to take responsibility for that as well. If so, even people like me might vote for him then. If not, we may just give up believing there's enough difference between any of them to bother voting any more at all. For now, however, we're grateful for this ray of light in the darkness that envelops the wrongly convicted, and for the hope that it brings to their loved ones.

Blessings to you, Lisa Randall: welcome to the rest of your life. May you be forever free.


Charges Dropped, Nightmare Ends for Peoria Woman

KSAZ Fox News

Updated: Thursday, 22 Jul 2010, 7:22 PM MDT
Published : Thursday, 22 Jul 2010, 7:22 PM MDT

PHOENIX - A beloved babysitter for nearly three decades found herself charged with murder in the death of a baby under her care. But now, a prosecutor has dismissed those charges.

"I can finally breathe. It's been a long 3 and a half years of hell," said Randall as she came out of a courthouse Thursday. Her ankle monitoring bracelet will finally come off.

In 2007, Lisa Randall's odyssey began as she faced the death penalty when 4-month-old Dillon died while in Randall's Peoria home in day care.

A medical examiner has since ruled the 4-month-old boy's death as undetermined, but Randall's attorney, David Cantor, says the child died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. (S.I.D.S.)

"Lisa was the victim of a witch hunt," said Cantor. "She had a police department with a detective who did his first homicide investigation, and his last, he didn't know what he was doing. And the medical examiners based everything on the information given to them from the detective, which was faulty."

The detective had said the baby suffered blunt force trauma, but when there was an autopsy, no skull fractures were found.

"Rick Romley, once he took over and Andrew Thomas was out, we finally had a voice of reason. They put it to an incidents review committee and they voted 8-0 and said this case needs to be dismissed in the interest of justice."

All charges were dropped and a court tossed out the case. Randall may decide to file a civil lawsuit against the Peoria Police Department and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

This is the first prosecutor-initiated dismissal of a capital murder case in at least 10 years in Maricopa County.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Scott Watch: Mother and Child Reunions

An update from Sis Marpessa on the Scott Sisters. There's something about love across generations that makes Hell hurt a little less. Blessings to Mrs. Rasco from Arizona - it's going a little nuts in the streets here, but we're still with you all. For everyone else, let's get on all this before Monday - there are three concrete things listed that we can do right now to help.

Actually, skip the part below and head on over to the Free The Scott Sisters' blog instead - there's an awesome, soulful tune that comes up with the current page (hit the player to the left if it doesn't start automatically). Listen to it as you read this update there, buy a t-shirt if you can, and put your brain to work again on how we're going to get the State of Mississippi to free these women (and keep Jamie alive in the process).

Finally, if anyone out there is in or near Chicago in a couple of weeks we could use a hand - and a few good signs. I'm Peggy, and I'm posting this shout out all over the country - please contact us if you might be in a position to do an action there. My email is

Enjoy the reunion...


Greetings all,

Mrs. Rasco just returned from visiting with Jamie and Gladys and wanted everyone to have an update right away. Jamie no longer has evidence of infection and the boils that were on her body have cleared up. She is, however, still very weak and exhausted from her dialysis and at times during the visit was speaking while her eyes were closed. She told her mother that she wants and needs a kidney transplant.

Thanks to you supporters, Mrs. Rasco was able to get in to visit Gladys!

Mrs. Rasco said that Gladys was so happy to see her that she picked her up off of the ground and kissed her, to the delight of everyone in the visiting room! It was truly a beautiful moment. Gladys' daughter, Courtney, was at first denied due to a claim that she was not on the visiting list. Thanks to the efforts of Sondra Humphrey, Director of MS CURE, Courtney was able to finally visit her mother the following day for one hour. Mrs. Rasco is very, very grateful for her

The Scott Sisters are still in need of pro bono legal representation and we are asking for an individual, group or class to please help develop ideas for these women's legal defense. This is incredibly their 16th year on this outrageous charge, the injury just grows each and every day that their lives are hijacked in that place and their children and grandchildren suffer without them.

1. Please purchase t-shirts to help with fund raising efforts!! We need folks to wear them to help raise awareness as we need everyone to begin talking about this case so that no one can say that they have not heard about it.

Visit and get yours today!

2. Additionally, both women said that they have practically exhausted their commissary funds and anyone who wishes to donate to the women directly may send donations via , register for Access Corrections and use each of their name and number to make your donation.

Jamie is #19197 and Gladys is #19142.

3. Ask Color of Change to feature the Scott Sisters at, and also copy and paste in an e-mail to:

Thank you! More updates will come soon!


Please continue to advocate on behalf of Jamie and Gladys Scott, their children and families need for them to return home alive, the time is NOW!

Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
HOTLINE: 202-353-1555
PHONE: 202-514-2000
202-307-6777 fax

Christopher Epps
723 North President Street
Jackson, MS 39202

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)

SB 1070: B.A.N. Info Sessions (Southern AZ)

Infórmate, Prepárate, e Únete!
Reminder: Upcoming Information Sessions
Border Action Network
(Acción Fronteriza)
(Busca la segunda parte en Español)


- At 6 PM tomorrow (Friday, July 23rd) an immigration attorney from Tucson, Mo Goldman, will speak about the U.S immigration process and answer relevant questions. (Presentation in English with Spanish translation)

- On Saturday, July 31st, at 6:00 PM., B.A.N. member Griselda Moya-Flores will offer a class on basic traffic laws. (Presentation in Spanish with English translation)

Both of these events will take place at the B.A.N. headquarter office at 842 S. 6th Ave (approximately the intersection of 6th Ave. and 19th St.)


- At 10 AM on Saturday, July 24th, Immigration Attorney Mo Goldman will speak about the U.S. immigration process and answer relevant questions. This event will take place at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, 749 E. 11th (intersects at D Ave). (Presentation in English with Spanish Translation)

- On Saturday, July 31st, B.A.N. Policy Director Jaime Farrant will present an SB1070 update. Details to come soon. (Presentation in Spanish)


- At 5:30 PM on Wednesday, July 28th, there will be an immigration Q&A with attorney Luis Parra. Location information to come soon. (Presentation in Spanish)

Thank you again for your support and we hope you can attend and Inform Yourself, Prepare Yourself, and Unite!

With gratitude,

Border Action Network Staff

Aviso : Sesiones Informativos


- Este viernes, 23 de Julio, a las 6:00 de la tarde, abogado de Tucson, Mo Goldman, va a hablar y contestar preguntas sobre el proceso de inmigración en los EEUU. (Presentación en inglés con traducción en español)

- Sábado, 31 de Julio, a las 6 de la tarde, un miembro de nuestra organización, Griselda Moya-Flores va a ofrecer una clase sobre las leyes de tránsito y manejo. (Presentación en español con traducción en inglés)

Los dos de estos eventos van a tener lugar en nuestra oficina en 842 S. 6ta Ave. (la esquina de Ave 6ta y 19th St.) en Tucson, AZ. 


- Este sábado, 24 de julio, a las 10 de la mañana, abogado de inmigración Mo Goldman va a hablar y contestar preguntas sobre el proceso de inmigración en los EEUU. Este evento va ser en St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 739 E. 11th Ave. (cruce con D Ave). (Presentación en inglés con traducción en español)

- Sábado, el 31 de julio, director político de B.A.N. Jaime Farrant presentará las noticias más recientes de SB1070. Tendremos más detalles muy pronto. (Presentación en español)


- A las 5:30 por la tarde, habrá una sesión de preguntas y respuestas con abogado Luis Parra. Tendremos información del lugar muy pronto. (Presentación en español)

Muchísimas gracias otra vez por su apoyo, y esperamos que puedan asistir y Infórmate, Prepárate, e Únete!

Con agradecimiento,

Acción Fronteriza

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't Buy! Don't Work! Don't Comply!

Forward widely!

(This is a mass conspiracy, folks!)

------------A Calendar of Resistance, from No More Deaths--------------


below are the many ways you can participate in opposing SB1070. As most of you already know, the law is to take effect on Thursday, July 29th. There are lots of things happening in Phoenix over the next week or so. Please forward this e-mail to everyone you know, get out, get involved, voice your outrage!

Represent NMD...wear your NMD t-shirts to these actions!

1. Wednesday, July 21: Training on Non-Violence and Civil Disobedience - 6:00pm

LOCATION: Phoenix Quaker Meeting House (1702 E. Glendale, 17th Street and Glendale)

If you are planning to participate in the National Day of Non-Compliance on the 29th and want to know about the realities of CD, you should come to this training! Get the facts, know your rights, be trained.

2. Thursday, July 22: Injuncion Hearing Against SB1070 - 9:00am

LOCATION: Sandra Day O'Conner Courthouse (401 W. Washington)

This is the day that many of the suits against the Law are being heard. Come to protest outside the courthouse all morning! Bring signs, sunscreen and water!

3. Saturday, July 24: Policing the Police Training - 2-4:00pm

LOCATION: Unlimited Potential (6520 S. Central Ave, three blocks south of Southern)

Sheriff Arpaio has promised to hold another racial profiling sweep on July 29th and/or 30th, as soon as SB 1070 goes into effect. We need to have dozens of volunteers out on the street to monitor and document the activities of the sheriff's deputies on those days. Attend one of these trainings and learn how to safely and legally observe the police during this sweep and in your own neighborhood.

4. Saturday, July 24: Diamondbacks Boycott and Protest - 4:30pm

LOCATION: Meet at Tonatierra (7th Street and McKinley)

Join Puente in thier ongoing boycott and protest of the Diamondbacks. Meet at Tonatierra to walk over to the stadium. Bring your signs!

5. Wednesday, July 28: Prayer Vigil - 6:30pm

LOCATION: at the Capital

There will be an interfaith prayer vigil at the Capital on the eve of the law taking effect. All are welcome!

6. Wednesday, July 28: Policing the Police Training - 7-9:00pm

LOCATION: Phoenix Quaker Meeting House (1702 E. Glendale, 17th Street and Glendale)
(in case you missed the one on July 24th)

7. Wednesday, July 28: La Comunidad Resiste Contra SB1070 - 7-11:30pm

LOCATION: Civic Space Park (424 N. Central Ave)

Join hundreds for a gathering and demonstration downtown!

Bring games, blankets, chairs, instruments, art supplies, friends!

Food and music will be provided!

8. EVENTS ON Thursday, July 29:

Day of Non-Compliance!
Don't Buy! Don't Work! Don't Comply!

- Sunrise Interfaith Prayer Service - 6:30am

LOCATION: Trinity Cathedral (Central and Roosevelt)

- Procession to Federal Courthouse - 9:00am

Procession will begin at the Trinity Cathedral on Central and Roosevelt, right after the prayer service.
Actions, speakers, rally to be held at the Courthouse

- Gathering at Cesar Chavez Plaza (ALL DAY)

Folks will be gathering between the Courthouse and Cesar Chavez Plaza (across from the courthouse) all day. Come out with your signs, bring water, and sunscreen!

Add your name to the fight: Repeal SB 1070

Greetings NMD volunteers!

We need your help!

NMD-Phoenix is working with the Repeal Coalition to begin a yard sign campaign opposing SB 1070.

Specifically, we're going to target businesses that will publicly oppose 1070 and place the yard signs in their windows.

We will give/sell yard signs to individuals to place in their yard. Also, churches will take them and give to their members.

Here is where we need NMD volunteers to help:

1. Come to an organizing meeting on Friday night to discuss the logistics of campaign.
- We will meet at my house (Laura's house) located at 1633 E. Willetta Street
- Meet at 5:00pm

2. Volunteers are needed on Saturday morning!
- We will meet at 9:00am to visit businesses and ask for their support, give yard signs, have them sign petition/pledge.
- we will meet at Tonatierra to distribute signs and give you locations to visit

We really need everyone's help in getting the community involved.

If you cannot attend either meeting, but can visit a business, or know of a church that will take the yard signs and display them, let me know!

We've ordered 100 signs to distribute across the valley.

Call me to pick up signs ($3 donation)

HELP! Please let us know in what capacity you can help.


Laura Ilardo
No More Deaths-Phoenix

Phoenix New Times dissed by Sheriff Joe.

In my book, that means they're doing something right, and everyone else is colluding.


‘Section 1070′ tent city expansion to unveil July 21

Capitol Times
July 20th, 2010

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced July 20 that he will be opening a new section of his tent city jail, just for those convicted under Arizona’s new immigration law. The new section of the outdoor jail will be called “section 1070,” according to a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.

The new section will be arranged inside the existing tent city area in south Phoenix, since expanding the boundaries of tent city would require approval from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, with which the sheriff has had high-profile public fights involving budget issues.

But the board of supervisors told the Arizona Capitol Times before Arpaio’s announcement that any changes to tent city would need to meet safety and liability requirements, and that despite his assertion that he gets the final say on what happens at his jail, the board needs to provide the proper checks on his practices.

Arpaio will hold a press conference to formally announce and display his tent city addition at 3 p.m. July 21. The announcement coincides with the 17-year anniversary of the opening of tent city. The sheriff’s office will be giving “hot chocolate cake” to all the inmates to celebrate the anniversary. A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office said all media except the Phoenix New Times is welcome.

Race, Space and the Production of Inequality.

This is a great new course coming open at ASU - I've heard that the professor, Wendy Cheng, is dynamite, and it comes recommended by HLT Quan, one of the best out there. She take this stuff very seriously and doesn't give out endorsements lightly.

Just from the brief description provided, it looks like Cheng does a pretty sophisticated analysis of the topic. What I find most interesting are her plans to explore how national boundaries/borders are erected and what structures (including racism) reinforce them.
So, if I can get ASU to let me back for the fall, I'm going to try to enroll myself - I only need one more upper level Justice Studies class to graduate.

For those of you lucky enough to do so, sign up soon - I think classes are less than three weeks away now.


JUS 394*: Race, Space and the Production of Inequality (LN 75829)

Tue/Thurs 3:00 – 4:15 pm
Instructor: Prof. Wendy Cheng

This course is an introduction to critical scholarship on race and space in the United States.
We will (re)consider definitions of race and racism, and how the intertwining of race and differential access to space has shaped patterns of power and inequality
throughout the history of the U.S.

We pay special attention to the making and maintenance of national boundaries;
regional histories; spatial typologies within metropolitan areas; and the differential racialization of Asian Americans, Latinas/os, African Americans, and Native Americans.
Readings and discussion are organized in part around key spatial typologies
such as border, ghetto, suburb, and prison.


Revolutionary Communist Party on the 4th of July.

A few weeks ago I attended the anti-4th of July picnic held in Phoenix by the Revolutionary Communist Party. I think I even posted a little promo to it for them, in case anyone else was interested in seeing what they were up to.

I hadn't heard of them before they took such an interest in AZ's immigration law. While socializing before the rally I found that most people there - primarily new recruits attracted by the "revolutionary" language and their defiance of SB 1070 - were talking about their own feelings regarding fascism, racism, social activism, and their decision to get involved in what only the Revolutionary Communist Party now is calling Arizona's "Freedom Summer". I had already been identifying with the concept of Freedom Summer here myself simply because the original one was the season I was born into, in 1964. I didn't know they were the only ones calling it that by then - to everyone else this is the Summer of Human Rights (or anything but what the RCP brands it).

It did become clear to me as soon as I walked onto the scene that if I had done my homework I would have included my own disclaimer with their announcement, if I posted it at all. Everywhere I looked there were posters with the image of their self-appointed leader, Bob Avakian, most of them done in a stenciled style that seemed to visually set him up to someday be placed alongside Marx and Lenin as one of the "great" communists in history. It created an eerie, cult-like aura to the gathering, and I quickly tuned into the fact that my brain was being exposed to a whole lot of washing. Still, I was quite curious, so I hung out for the main show - the recruiting speech.

I had corresponded a couple of times beforehand with Nina, a young organizer who came out here with a small group of them from California, I believe. They seemed a bit fanatical, but well-intended, so I thought I'd check them out in person. It had become clear to me by then that the radical community here wasn't the least bit interested, however. In fact, they've been very vocally perturbed about their presence and efforts to build more of a following, so I wasn't surprised that I didn't see any friendly faces there from the local left.

The Phoenix Class War Council did a pretty thorough critical analysis of the group (worth reading) and their current campaign a few days after their picnic (itself a propaganda-laden recruiting tool for disillusioned young minds as much as it was a rallying cry for those already converted). I'm sure glad they didn't come after me, too, for giving the RCP any of my space here. I give space to a wide variety of left-leaning groups, and while I find the party line and leadership disturbing, I also found the individual people involved to be sincere and earnest about making a positive difference in the world. They just seem to be under some kind of spell.

The only person I really grilled about the RCP's message and leadership was Nina, because she was clearly well-indoctrinated and believed in what she was doing with them with all her heart. In fact, I think she said she writes much of their paper, which makes her responsible for a lot of propaganda. I questioned her about how any organization can be democratic or even communist if it's run by a self-appointed authoritarian. I thought that mimicked the worst mistakes ever made by communist parties - they were essentially under totalitarian rule. There is no democratic process at work - it's all "follow the leader". This Avakian guy struck me as nothing more than an intellectual, self-promoting, grandstanding dictator who gets idealistic and exhuberant youth to raise his money and push his ideology onto other kids.

That troubled me, seeing how many youth had shown up who had probably never been involved in a movement like this before, and were drawn to their talk of "revolution". Many were young people of color - Latino, Native American, Black, Asian American - I was really kind of impressed with the diversity they attracted. I frankly think that revolution requires open minds and a healthy exchange of ideas, though - not a descent into one man's doctrine and ideology that seeks to be the dominant influence. There doesn't seem to be much room for doubting whether or not he's right. That leads to living in chains of a different kind, not to liberation. And how can you help free others if you can't even free your own mind?

I have to say that I don't remember what Nina's responses to my questions and observations were, because she sounded like the propaganda in the literature so often. I left wishing she would walk away with me, but didn't extend that particular invitation to her, thinking it would just be insulting. She's a bright woman, very passionate about social justice I believe, and is doing what she feels is the right thing to do for the resistance here in Arizona. She also keeps hanging in there despite the resistance she gets from both the right and the left - I kind of respect that, though I disagree with what the ideology she defends. I just think Avakian is exploiting the tragedy here to build himself more of a following, and making good kids do all his dirty work for him - his "cause" is definitely not the same as ours. He appears to be his own cause.

If that's not accurate, then he and his people better look again at their messaging, because Avakian, not the people of Arizona, was very much the center of attention at the picnic, even in his absence. All the books are by him, about his own ideas. His face was everywhere. His people were singing his praises, reciting doctrine and dogma. There was something about the event that made me feel like I'd just walked into the Church of Scientology, in fact. How is that revolutionary?

So, for those of you who thought my posting of their picnic news or an article they did on Nina Simone means I think we should all hop on board their train, think again. Anyone who knows me should know that's one train I'd let pass on by - I'm just not here to derail it because there are still other people inside. They're going to have find their own way home from wherever it leads them. I hope when they decide to so, the rest of the radical community will be here for them with open arms...

I'll be here, anyway, my friends - not for the party, just for the people.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Africa Today with Marilyn Buck

What an amazing woman. Click on the KPFA icon for the interview (mp3 file). There's also an interview with her attorney, Jill Soffiyah Elijah (a pretty incredible woman herself) at the website for the Friends of Marilyn Buck.

After all that, you should head over to kerspledebeb to sample the CD of her poetry from prison, Wild Poppies. She reads a handful herself, but most are read by other people from around the world who were themselves political prisoners. My favorites are probably "Thirteen Springs" and one that isn't with the samples, "To Vieques, in Solidarity" (which is read in both English and Spanish - the Spanish version is the most beautiful).

Finally, I'm so sure that you'll want to buy a copy for yourself - and a couple to have on hand as Christmas gifts - that I'm giving you that link too. Enjoy.

PHX COPWATCH Training coming up

This training will be on a Saturday afternoon to accommodate folks who couldn't make the weekday trainings. Please spread this far and wide. And if you can't make this one, there will still be one on July 28th.


Unlimited Potential
6520 S Central
Phoenix, Arizona 85040


Saturday, July 24th

Policing the Police: Next week's COPWATCH training

Hey all: here's the info for the training on the 28th, before the racial-profiling activities planned by Arpaio and the MCSO once SB 1070 goes into effect. We really need people to turn out for the trainings so you can come on patrol on the 30th. If you can't make it this weekend, head out to this one next week. It's a good training with great people and it's a way to really make a difference. Showing up with your own video camera is a bonus, but you don't have to be out there shooting any deputies - you just need to be diplomatic and take good notes.

After you're done with the training, come join us at Civic Space Park (424 N. Central Ave, where the New Fair Trade Cafe is) - we'll be having a rally to gear up for the 29th.

See you out there.

Phoenix Copwatch

If you can't be there, or if you're already trained, please share this with anyone who might possibly be interested! We need dozens of volunteers for that day.


Phoenix Friends Meeting House
(Also the locale for Fiddler's Dream Coffee House)
1702 E Glendale Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85020


Wednesday, July 28th

Benito: The majority is not always right.

This comment was left last night on one of my posts about human rights - specifically about an anti-Arpaio demonstration conducted by children after a series of raids/sweeps conducted against the Latino community in the valley. His comments seem to be in direct response to SB 1070, though. Frankly, I think capitalism, greed, and colonialism are the REAL problem. We wouldn't have smugglers if we didn't erect borders... In any case I went ahead and posted his remark where he left it, but it will just be buried there and no one else will read it, and he seems to have put a lot into it and makes some good points. So, here's Benito, who just unwittingly became my guest columnist. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, my friend:


"I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. All of us ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated, but this is not the case.

I know the proponents of this law say that the majority approves of this law, but the majority is not always right. Would women or non-whites have the vote if we listen to the majority of the day, would the non-whites have equal rights (and equal access to churches, housing, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, schools, colleges and yes water fountains) if we listen to the majority of the day? We all know the answer, a resounding, NO!

As for the undocumented workers, as was attributed to Ronald Reagan “It’s the Economy, Stupid”. When the economy is good you say let’s all celebrate “Cinco de Mayo, my brothers” but when the economy is down “it’s all your fault, you damn immigrant”. This too will pass, the real problem is the narcos, arms and people smugglers and that’s what the focus should be on.

Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics and do what is right, not what is just popular with the majority. Some men comprehend discrimination by never have experiencing it in their lives, but the majority will only understand after it happens to them.

Fight HIV and HEP C with Sentencing Reform.

This is going down this week, folks. Wherever you are in the country, please call or e-mail your congressman today, and specify both HIV and HEP C as concerns. This action comes in from the Sentencing Project via our friends at UNSHACKLE.



This week, people in the worldwide fight against HIV/AIDS are gathering in Vienna for the International AIDS Conference. But there's important action we can take right here at home.

Members of the CHAMP Network and Project UNSHACKLE know that mass imprisonment is fueling the spread of HIV in this country. Obama's new National HIV/AIDS Strategy also notes the links between imprisonment and HIV:

Although the available data suggests that relatively few infections occur in prison settings, there is evidence that some people with HIV who had received medical care while incarcerated have difficulty accessing HIV medications upon release-affecting their health and potentially increasing the likelihood that they will transmit HIV. High rates of incarceration within certain communities can also be destabilizing. When large numbers of men are incarcerated, the gender imbalance in the communities they leave behind can fuel HIV transmissions by increasing the likelihood that the remaining men will have multiple, concurrent relationships with female sex partners. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that a single male would transmit HIV to multiple female partners.

CHAMP and Project UNSHACKLE believe that sentencing reform - meaning that less people are locked up, and for shorter periods - is a crucial part of the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Please join us in responding to this action alert from the Sentencing Project (below), calling on Congress to reform sentencing policies as a part of the fight against HIV/AIDS. When you make your calls, please be sure to say that the new National HIV/AIDS Strategy says that "High rates of incarceration within certain communities can also be destabilizing... and can fuel HIV transmissions":

Tell Congress To Vote Yes for Crack Cocaine Sentencing Reform

This week, the House of Representatives may vote on legislation, recently passed by the Senate, to reduce the 100 to 1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine to 18 to 1. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, S. 1789, would also eliminate the simple possession mandatory minimum (5 years for 5 grams without intent to distribute), limit the excessive penalties served by people convicted of low-level crack cocaine offenses, and increase penalties for high-level traffickers. The U.S. Sentencing Commission estimates the changes could reduce the federal prison population by 3,800 over 10 years.

Champions for sentencing fairness are urged to contact their representative in the House today to ask them to vote yes for the Fair Sentencing Act. Call the U.S. Capitol Switch Board at 202-224-3121 and ask for your representative. They will patch you through to the correct office.

Once you reach your representative, tell them you support the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, S. 1789 because:

• The current 100 to 1 cocaine sentencing disparity is unfair. The five-year penalty for possessing as little as five grams of crack cocaine is the same for selling 500 grams of powder cocaine. The law imposes excessive prison sentences for low-level crack cocaine offenses that often exceed penalties for offenses involving powder cocaine trafficking.
• The current 100 to 1 cocaine sentencing disparity exacerbates racial disparity in federal prisons. Over 80% of those serving time for a crack cocaine offense are African American, despite the fact that two-thirds of users are white or Hispanic.
• The Fair Sentencing Act, S. 1789, is an historic opportunity to advance justice and restore faith in the criminal justice system.
• The Fair Sentencing Act will also save taxpayers money. Replacing the irrational 100:1 ratio with a new 18:1 ratio will save $42 million over five years, according to Congressional Budget Office.

When you have completed your call to your representative, please email and say how it went. Also, please consider forwarding this email to a friend.

Thank you for joining the effort to reduce the crack cocaine sentencing disparity. A broad consensus among criminal justice experts, law enforcement organizations, and policymakers has emerged that concludes the current 100 to 1 disparity cannot be justified. Organizations endorsing reform include: the NAACP; Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; American Bar Association, American Civil Liberties Union; the National District Attorneys Association; and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Injustice Everywhere: Police Brutality in America


Police Brutality in America

by Stephen Lendman
Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Despite Congress passing the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, Congress has consistently failed to fund it. Further, the legislation doesn't require local police agencies to keep records, nor does it criminalize police violence and excessive force as human rights violations. Across America, daily incidents occur, one of many the cold-blooded January 1, 2009 murder of Oscar Grant - unarmed, offering no resistance, thrust face-down on the ground, shot in the back, and killed, videotaped on at least four cameras for irrefutable proof. USA Today said five bystanders taped it.

His killer: Oakland, CA transit officer, Johannes Mehserle, tried for the killing, the jury told to consider four possible verdicts - innocent, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter, jurors deciding the latter.

The Legal Dictionary defines it as "The act of unlawfully killing another human being unintentionally," the absence of intent distinguishing it from voluntary manslaughter. Many states don't define it or do it vaguely. Wallin & Klarich Violent Crime Attorneys say in California it carries a two - four year sentence. However, since a gun was used, Judge Robert Perry can add three to 10 additional years.

Because minority victims seldom get justice, especially against police, Mehserle may serve minimal time, then be paroled quietly when the current furor subsides.

After the verdict, it erupted on Oakland streets, hundreds turning out to protest, Bay Area saying:

"The actions of the Police in Oakland tonight (including dozens of arrests) show their disrespect for justice in General. Their heavy handed violence towards protestors just reinforces their total disconnect with the people of Oakland." It's as true everywhere across America, police acting like Gestapo, usually unaccountably.

Grant's family will appeal the verdict and is suing the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) for $25 million, his mother Wanda Johnson saying "My son was murdered (and) the law has not held the officer accountable." It rarely does for Black, Latino, or other minorities, no matter the injustice, civil rights lawyer John Burris, representing Grant's family in the civil suit, saying:

"The system is rarely fair when a police officer shoots an African-American male." Police brutality against them and other minorites is systemic, including beatings, torture, and cold-blooded murder, usually with impunity, justice nearly always denied.

While far from certain, the Obama administration may charge Mehserle with civil rights or hate crime violations, DOJ spokesman Alejandro Miyar saying:

"The Justice Department has been closely monitoring the state's investigation and prosecution. The Civil Rights Division, the US Attorney's Office, and the FBI have an open investigation into the fatal shooting and, at the conclusion of the state prosecution, will conduct an independent review of the facts and circumstances to determine whether the evidence warrants federal prosecution."

Systemic Police Brutality

An earlier Jones text and video account headlined, "Epidemic of Police Brutality Sweeps America," showing footage of police repeatedly tasering a student with 50,000 volts of electricity for questioning the 2004 election results at a campus meeting.

Other videotaped incidents showed:

  • a man victimized by police violence;
  • a former sheriff's deputy acquitted of voluntary manslaughter for shooting an unarmed man;
  • police repeatedly beating an old man on the head, "for the crime of intoxication;"
  • officers violently using assault rifles, tear gas, dogs, and at least one helicopter in an alleged narcotics sweep;
  • a woman tasered to death by police; and
  • a man in shock, bleeding and burned over much of his body, ordered to lie on the pavement, then tasered and shot to death while he sat dazed, the Report highlighting systemic police violence "repeated almost every day in (America), the police (getting) away with murder," beatings, and other lawless acts - poor Blacks, Latinos, and Muslims for their faith and ethnicity their usual victims.
Amnesty International (AI) on American Police Brutality

On its web site, AI says "Police brutality and use of excessive force has been one of the central themes of (AI's) campaign on human rights violations in the USA," launched in October 1998. In its "United States of America: Rights for All Index," it documented systematic patterns of abuse across America, including "police beatings, unjustified shootings and the use of dangerous restraint techniques to subdue suspects."

Yet little is done to monitor or constrain it, evidence showing that "racial and ethnic minorities were disproportionately" harmed by harassment, verbal and physical abuse, false arrests, and in the case of West African immigrant, Amadou Diallo, shot at 41 times by four New York policemen, struck 19 times and killed while he stood in the vestibule of his apartment building, unarmed and nonviolent, victimized by police brutality.

Nationwide, driving while black has been criminalized, racial profiling used for traffic stops and searches for suspected drugs or other reasons, the practice especially common in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Texas.

AI cited numerous incidents, including beatings and "questionable" shootings, usually found to be unjustified, yet cops most often absolved. Although most US police departments stipulate that officers should only use deadly force when their lives, or others, are endangered, dozens of cases show they do it indiscriminately, at most being "mildly disciplined" even if guilty of serious misconduct.

"Police shooting(s) resulting in death or injury are routinely reviewed (internally or) by local see whether criminal laws (were) violated. However, few officers are criminally charged and little public information is given out if a case does not go to trial." As a result, systemic abuse stays hidden, police brutality allowed to persist with impunity.

Despite Congress passing the 1994 Police Accountability Act, incorporated into the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act to require the Attorney General to compile national data on excessive police force, Congress has consistently failed to fund it. Further, the legislation doesn't require local police agencies to keep records or submit data to the Justice Department. Nor does it criminalize police violence and excessive force as human rights violations.

ACLU Report on Racial and Ethnic Profiling

In August 2009, the report titled, "The Persistence of Racial Profiling in the United States" [PDF  graphic Download full report] quoted Rep. John Conyers (D. MI) saying "Since (9/11), our nation has engaged in a policy of institutionalized racial and ethnic profiling," although, as an African-American, he knows the problem goes back generations, most recently in the "war on terrorism" against Blacks, Latinos, and Muslims for their faith, ethnicity, activism, prominence, and at times charity, a topic this writer addresses often - arrests, some violently, bogus charges, prosecutions, and imprisonments often compounding the injustice.

Post-9/11 under Bush and Obama, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have engaged in virulent racial/ethnic profiling, what the ACLU calls "a widespread and pervasive problem throughout the United States, impacting the lives of millions of people in African American, Asian, Latino, South Asian, and Arab communities."

Evidence shows that racial minorities are systematically victimized, without cause, in public, when driving, at work, at home, in places of worship, and traveling, often violently.

Evidence shows that racial minorities are systematically victimized, without cause, in public, when driving, at work, at home, in places of worship, and traveling, often violently.

A "major impediment to (prohibiting it) remains the continued unwillingness or inability of the US government to pass federal legislation (banning the practice) with binding effect on federal, state or local law enforcement."

Nor do authorities comply with the provisions of the 1994 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) that obligates all levels of government.

In addition, the Justice Department's 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies designed to ban federal officers from engaging in racial profiling is, in fact, flawed and does little to end it, because it doesn't cover "profiling based on religion, religious appearance, or national origin."

Nor does it apply to state and local law enforcement where police brutality is systemic. In addition, it specifies no enforcement mechanisms or punishments for violators, and contains a "blanket exception for national security and border integrity cases," besides being advisory and not legally binding.

As a result, it actually promotes profiling and abuse, including false arrests, beatings and killings. It's not surprising how minorities have been systematically mistreated by federal, state and local authorities, or that congressional legislation introduced to stop it never passed.

On December 13, 2007, the House and Senate introduced their versions of the End Racial Profiling Act (HR 4611 and S. 2481). Both bills were referred to committee and never enacted - making it extremely hard to nearly impossible for victims to successfully challenge abuses against them.

As a candidate, Obama promised a "Blueprint for Change" to ban racial profiling and related mistreatment, criminalizing them, but so far, no measures have been introduced or passed, showing another promise made, another broken, a systematic pattern under his leadership, across the board against the constituencies that elected him. Hopefully they'll remember next election and choose another way, a third way, both parties equally corrupted in deference to big money and systemic police brutality that serves it.

National Police Misconduct Statistics

The Injustice (IE) web site compiles them, publishing them in regular reports, some for individual cities, including daily accounts. One on July 10 covers King County, WA deputy Paul Schene, captured on videotape assaulting a 15-year old girl in jail. He was tried twice, hung juries resulting each time.

On July 9, the County Prosecutor's Office dropped the charges, and won't pursue a third trial. As a result, the sheriff's department may rehire Schene, though he still faces possible disciplinary action. It's currently in arbitration, IE saying decisions nearly always favor officers, in which case he'll likely be reinstated to abuse other detainees, off camera to avoid being charged.

In early 2010, IE published an April - mid-December 2009 (8.5 months) Police Misconduct Report, from figures compiled in its National Police Misconduct Statistics Reporting Project (NPMSRP), begun earlier in March 2009, analyzing data:

"by utilizing news media reports of police misconduct to generate statistical information (to) approximate how prevalent (it) may be in the United States."

Police departments don't usually provide them, nor do courts, except for successful prosecutions, omitting confidential settlements and cases resulting in disciplinary action only, not trials. Media reports, though imperfect, are more complete because laws limit or filter information released. As a result, IE's data "should be considered as a low-end estimate of the current rate of police misconduct," as well as in individual cities covered.

Statistics compiled follow the same DOJ/FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) methodology, recording only the most serious allegation (not conviction) when multiple ones are associated with a particular incident. The findings were as follows:

  • 3,445 police misconduct reports;
  • 4,012 officers charged;
  • 261 law enforcement officials (police chiefs or sheriffs) cited;
  • 4,778 alleged victims;
  • 258 fatalities reported;
  • an average of 15.05 daily incidents or one every 96 minutes;
  • nearly $200 million in related civil litigation expense, excluding legal fees and court costs;
  • 980.64 per 100,000 officers charged;
  • one of every 266 officers accused of a violent crime;
  • one of every 1,875 charged with homocide;
  • one of every 947 accused of sexual assault;
  • 33% of police officers charged were convicted, not necessarily justly for the offense committed;
  • 64% of officers convicted were imprisoned, not necessarily as long as justified;
  • those sentenced served an average 14 months, far less than citizens for the same crime;
  • misconduct by category included 18.1% for non-firearm related excessive force; 11.9% for sexual misconduct; and 8.9% for fraud or theft;
  • analyzing reports by last reported status showed 45.9% affected officers adversely, including 14% internally disciplined and 31.9% criminally charged; of the latter, 32.5% were convicted "for a 10.4% total criminal conviction rate for alleged misconduct incidents; and
  • 27% resulted in civil lawsuits, 34.3% favoring victims.

In addition, data were compiled for states, cities and counties, excluding unavailable federal statistics as well as local omissions, especially in some states. Various offenses included:

  • accountability: evidence of coverups, lax discipline, and other failures to adhere to official policies or processes;
  • animal cruelty, harming them by unnecessary shooting, inappropriate KP unit training, or other mistreatment;
  • assault: "unwarranted violence" off-duty, excluding murder;
  • auto incidents involving recklessness, negligence, and other violations of official policies;
  • brutality, involving excessive physical force on-duty, excluding firearms or tasers;
  • civil rights, including unconstitutional civil liberties violations such as lawless peaceful protest disruptions;
  • sexual misconduct, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, wrongfully eliciting sex, harassment, coercion, prostitution, sex on duty, incest, and molestation;
  • theft or fraud, including robbery, shoplifting, extortion or bribery;
  • shooting: gun-related incidents both on and off-duty, including self-harm;
  • taser: excessive force, including usage not according to guidelines, resulting in excessive injury or death; also, improper taser use may be recorded as "brutality;"
  • color of law, including incidents involving misuse of authority such as bribery, soliciting favors, extortion by threat of arrest, or using badges to avoid arrest;
  • perjury, including false testimony, dishonesty during investigations, and falsifying charging papers or warrants; and
  • raids, including misconduct during warranted or warrantless operations or searches, wrong address raids, mistaken ones, use of no-knock ones when warrants require notification, or mistreatment during executions.

Misconduct status stages go from allegations to investigations, lawsuits, charges, trials, judgments, disciplinary measures, terminations, convictions, and sentences.

IE compiles data regularly, prepares daily and quarterly reports, and henceforth an annual one each January the following year. It explains that its statistics:

"should only be used (as) a very basic and general view of the extent of police misconduct. It is by no means an accurate gauge that truly represents the exact extent (of its extensiveness) since it relies on the information voluntarily gathered and/or released to the media, not (first-hand) by independent monitors who investigate complaints.....because no such agency exists for any law enforcement agency...."

Detailed quarterly and annual reports are produced, not monthly ones considered a less accurate "depiction of the overall extent of police misconduct...." Daily reports cover a sampling of individual incidents. Overall, IE provides a valuable reading of systemic police misconduct, though capturing only a snapshot of the full problem - widespread, abusive, violent, often with impunity, and when officers are held accountable, imposed discipline is usually mild, prison sentences rare and short-term, victims cheated by a criminally unjust system, favoring power over people, no matter the offense.

Final Comments

In December 2007, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination published a report titled, "PDF  graphic In the Shadows of the War on Terror: Persistent Police Brutality and Abuse of People of Color in the United States," saying:

"Since this Committee's 2001 review of the US, during which it expressed concern regarding incidents of police brutality and deaths in custody at the hands of US law enforcement officers, there have been dramatic increases in law enforcement powers in the name of waging the "war on terror (resulting in) the use of excessive force against people of color....(It's not only continued post-9/11), but has worsened in both practice and severity" - a NAACP representative saying it's "the worst I've seen in 50 years."

On April 4, 2007, Ryan Gallagher, writing for Medill Reports, produced by Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, headlined, "Study: Police abuse goes unpunished," saying:

From 2002 - 2004, over "10,000 complaints of police abuse were filed with Chicago police....but only 19 resulted in meaningful disciplinary action, a new study asserts." According to Gerald Frazier, president of Citizens Alert, it reflects "not only the appearance of influence and cover-up," but clear evidence that city residents are being abused, not protected, despite the department's official motto being "We Serve and Protect."

Most disturbing is that the Chicago pattern reflects what's happening across America, people of color like Oscar Grant systematically abused, in his case murdered in cold blood, what no criminal or civil actions can undo.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national topics. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.