Tuesday, December 27, 2005

President Robert Mugabe of the Zimbabwe African National Union, Patriot Front (ZANU-PF)

Originally uploaded by arlingtonhynes.
Despite the efforts of the United Kingdom and the United States, the ZANU-PF ruling party of Zimbabwe continues to dominate the political landscape. President Mugabe has drawn support from the majority of the Zimbabwean people. Zimbabwe foreign policy has continued to strengthen relations with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa as well as the African Union (AU). Support from the Peoples Republic of China prevented the southern African nation from being brought before the United Nations Security Council on false charges during 2005.
Zanu (PF) dominates political landscape

Kennedy Mavhumashava
Courtesy of the Zimbabwe Chronicle

Zanu (PF) again dominated the local political landscape with two landslide electoral victories but the unfolding bickering in MDC also hogged the limelight towards the end of the year.The ruling party scored a massive victory during the March parliamentary elections, by winning 78 of the 120 contested seats. Its main challenger, MDC managed 41, down from the 57 it held going into the plebiscite.

A University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Mr Eldred Masungure singled out the ruling party’s electoral victories and Operation Murambatsvina as key highlights of the year. He said although the clean up campaign, that the Government launched in May, was largely a developmental programme, it elicited a political response from Britain, United States and the United Nations.“The most important development was the clean-up exercise,” he said.

“Whether it was political or not depends on how you look at it. The Government said it was designed to stamp out criminal activities and bring about order. But the response to it, especially from the United Nations and the West, was clearly political.”

The Government launched the clean-up scheme in May and followed it up with a nationwide rebuilding exercise, Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle under which thousands of core houses, vendor marts and factory shells have been built and allocated to those who need them. The Government has made more than $1 trillion available for the massive project.

After the launch of clean-up campaign, the West criticised it and brought it to the attention of the UN. The world body obliged by sending its envoy, Mrs Anna Tibaijuka a few months ago. She toured the country and wrote a report that was critical of Operation Murambatsvina. A few weeks ago, the UN sent another emissary, Mr Jan Egeland, who like Mrs Tibaijuka came up with another adverse report. On elections, Mr Masunungure said they were characterised by peace.

He however said while the senatorial elections, held last month were a key political development they were marred by “unprecedented” voter apathy. “The atmosphere was calmer in both elections compared to previous ones.

But if you see that in some constituencies during the election as few as 5 000 people voted against average registered voters as many as 100 000, you will realise how poor the turnout was. That was unprecedented. But I think that the November election was more eventful outside the ballot box because of the intra-party conflict in the MDC.”

Results of the election showed that the ruling party sustained its recovery from the heavy losses of the 2000 poll by winning 43 of the 50 contested seats. Earlier on, it had won 19 seats unopposed after opposition parties failed to field candidates. Zanu (PF) won all the five seats in Matabeleland South and grabbed others in Matabeleland North, Harare and Chitungwiza, which were regarded as MDC strongholds.

However the plebiscite opened up deep divisions in the MDC after its leadership differed sharply on whether or not to participate. The party held a national council meeting on October 12, to decide whether to field candidates or not. The issue was brought to a vote and 33 officials voted for participation while 31 opposed the decision.

Party leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who had previously advocated a boycott, rejected the outcome. That precipitated a split of the party into a pro-Senate camp led by secretary general, Professor Welshman Ncube and an anti-Senate faction, which Mr Tsvangirai leads.

Now, the British-backed party has almost collapsed with the factions operating from two different headquarters, each having established parallel structures ahead of its congress scheduled for next February.

The Upper House elections were preceded by the passing of Constitution Number 17 by Parliament. Among others, the milestone amendment provides for the establishment of a bicameral legislature and the finalisation of the land question. Vice-President Joice Mujuru marked her first anniversary in office this month after her election to the ruling party Presidium last December. Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei, head of political think tank, Zimbabwe Integrated Programme said:“She has been in office for a year now.

We have seen similar developments elsewhere in Africa where women have risen to higher political positions. That happened in South Africa where the deputy president is a woman and in Liberia recently where a woman was elected president.”

An independent political analyst, Mr Augustine Timbe said the Government sustained its Look East policy with more benefits accruing to the country from many countries in Asia.“We saw a further strengthening of that policy.

Zimbabwe has hosted many high level political and business delegations from countries like China, Malaysia, Vietnam and others in Asia,” Mr Timbe said. “China has become the second biggest investor in Zimbabwe after Britain and is on course to matching London. A few months ago, the Air Force of Zimbabwe took delivery of jets from the Asian giant. The same applies to Air Zimbabwe. We have also seen China pursuing investments in many sectors of the economy such as mining, agriculture and energy. Iran is also coming in strongly.”

Turning to foreign affairs, Mr Timbe noted that President Mugabe has continued to defend and explain Government policies at international gatherings while SADC, African Union and the majority of UN members maintained their support for the country despite western pressure.

Mr Masunungure said the ongoing squabbles in the MDC are likely to result in a major “reconfiguration” of the local political landscape.“It is going to spill into next year and will significantly re-shape our politics. It will be a different Zimbabwe next year with a weakened MDC compared to the past five years,” said the political scientist.

He was dismissive of the United People’s Movement, a planned political party linked to former Minister, Professor Jonathan Moyo. It is rumoured that the party may be “launched” before the end of this month.“Even if it is launched,” said Mr Masunungure; “I see it as a passing cloud. It will be a trivial political development and the party will not be a permanent feature in local politics, - if it is launched that is.”

However, the highlights of the year must also include the antics of Mr Egypt Dzinemunhenzva, leader of little-known African National Party.

Always sporting his light-coloured jacket on top of a maroon jersey with a huge and almost flapping collar, Mr Dzinemunhenzva amused television viewers ahead of the Senatorial elections with his daring, and sometimes overly basic understanding of national issues. The veteran politician and Mutoko villager was campaigning for the Chikomba senatorial constituency, making food shortages in the area, his campaign watchword.

Like on many occasions in the past he heavily lost. But he is likely to be back in the fray come the 2008 presidential election.

President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Recently Elected in the United Republic of Tanzania

Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete
Originally uploaded by Ramadhani Msangi.
One of the most respected and stable states in post-independence Africa has been the United Republic of Tanzania. The ruling Chama Cha Mapenduzi (CCM) has maintained political control since 1977. This party was originally called the Tanzanian African National Union (TANU) but was restructured during the tenth anniverary of the Arusha Declaration, the document issued by the Party in 1967 calling for a socialist Tanzania. The article below focuses on the the struggle for gender equality in this east African nation.
Tanzania makes progress towards gender equality


THE new parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania to be sworn in this week will include almost 30 percent women members. The Tanzanian parliament, the Bunge, has been increased to 324 members, made up of 232 members elected on December 14 with the remainder appointed.

There are 75 seats guaranteed for women, representing an additional 30 percent of the number of elected seats.Ten members are appointed by the Union President, and five seats are occupied by members of the Zanzibar House of Repres-entatives. The remaining two seats are reserved for the Attorney General and the Speaker of Parliament. The 75 women members are appointed by the National Electoral Commission drawn from lists submitted by the parties in parliament, and based on the number of votes won by the parties represented in parliament.

Most of these seats will go to Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which easily won the parliamentary elections, taking 206 of the elected seats, that is almost 90 percent of the elected seats. CCM presidential candidate Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete also won the presidential election with 80,2 percent of the popular vote. Opposition parties won seven parliamentary seats on the mainland, with five going to Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) and one each to the Tanzania Labour Party (TLP) and the United Democ-ratic Party (UDP).

Some of the constituency seats were also won by women, including most of the 19 CCM women candidates, thus bringing the total of women in parliament to 28-29 percent of the total 324 seats. CCM won more than double the number of constituency votes of the combined opposition candidates, often far higher in individual constituencies. CCM also swept all parliamentary and council seats in Dar es Salaam, including seats such as Temeke, previously seen as opposition strongholds. Some 70 percent of registered voters turned out at the polls.

The picture was more divided in the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar, where the southern island of Unguja returned all but one member from CCM while the northern island of Pemba returned a full slate of 18 opposition CUF members to the Bunge. This means the total number of elected seats for the opposition in the Bunge stands at 26, and the next leader of the opposition in parliament will come from Pemba, as CUF failed to win a single seat in mainland Tanzania.

The previous CUF leader in parliament lost his seat to CCM in the northern mainland constituency of Bukoba Urban. The Union election in Zanzibar was a mirror image of the local elections held there on October 30 for the Zanzibar House of Representatives, with CUF winning all but one seat on the southern island while CUF swept the seats in Pemba.

The United Republic of Tanzania was formed in 1964 by two independent states of Tanganyika and Zanzibar with the objective of building a unified society based on freedom, human rights and peaceful existence. Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of the Union that also elects a local president and a parliament. The latter enacts laws except on constitutionally decreed Union matters, such as foreign affairs, home affairs and defence. CUF has refused to accept the election results in Zanzibar despite the approval of local, regional and international election observers, including the Southern African Development Community, the African Union and the Commonwealth.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Roger Toussaint Has Become One of the Most Significant Labor Leaders in the United States

roger toussaint
Originally uploaded by ebogjonson.
Roger Toussaint, President of the Transit Workers Union (TWU)Local 100 directed the rank and file to return to their jobs as soon as possible. This three day strike interupted the city of New York by stranding 7 million commuters who rely on public transport every day. The business elites, the corporate press, the billionaire mayor and the conservative governor all attacked the TWU ruthlessly. They were threatened with jail time and multi-million dollar fines. The TWU Executive Board must now demand amnesty from these retaliatory actions on the part of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and their corporate allies.
TWU Local 100 Executive Board Votes to End Strike, Return to Work

For more information log on to the TWU Local 100 website:

Dec. 22--The first NYC system-wide transit strike in 25 years ended today. Local 100 had to walk out to stop the TA’s 11th hour pension ambush. We walked out strong, and we walk back stronger. Thousands of transit workers have been on freezing cold picket lines around the clock for three days. The vote of the TWU Local 100 Executive Board to overwhelmingly accept the recommendation of the New York State Mediators means we will now start reporting to work.

In the face of an unprecedented media assault, the average New Yorker supported the TWU and blamed the MTA for the strike. Our riders knew we did not abandon them, and they did not abandon us. Public support from unions, communities, clergy and elected officials helped create the atmosphere for an end to the strike.

The details will be coming to all transit workers very soon. Every TWU member should be proud that our Union stood up for justice.

Stay United! Stay Strong!

December 22, 2005

State Mediators' Plan Clears Way to Resolve 60-Hour Ordeal

New York Times

On the third day of a citywide transit strike that has left millions without subway and bus service, union members began returning to work this afternoon, ending a 60-hour walkout that caused much hardship but also put on display the creativity and resilience of New York commuters. Union leaders ordered an end to the strike, the first in 25 years, early this afternoon after state mediators brokered a deal with transit officials.

Limited subway and bus service could resume later tonight, though normal service might not be restored until early Friday morning, officials said. "We have an enormous system," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a City Hall press conference. "It can't be turned on or off with a flip of a switch."

"This was really a very big test for our city and I think it's fair to say we passed the test with flying colors," the mayor said. "We did what we had to do to keep the city running and running safely." The order to return to work came after executive board of the Transit Workers Union, Local 100, voted 38 to 5 with two abstentions to accept a preliminary framework of a settlement as a basis to end the walkout.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority had already agreed to the framework, which was devised by state mediators after all-night negotiations with the union and the authority. "We thank riders for their patience and forbearance," Roger Toussaint, the president of the union, said outside union headquarters this afternoon. "We will be providing various details regarding the outcome of this strike in the next several days."

A few minutes earlier, one of the executive board members, George Perlstein, who said he had voted against the settlement plan, angrily told reporters that the union had not achieved its goals. "We got nothing," he said. "Absolutely nothing." On its Web site, the union claimed victory and told members to "Hold your head high when you report to work."

"In the face of an unprecedented media assault, the average New Yorker supported the TWU and blamed the MTA for the strike," the union said in a statement. Even as workers began returning to work, Gov. George E. Pataki said penalties against union members and leaders for the illegal walkout would stand. "There is a lesson to be learned from this: no one is above the law. You break the law and the consequences are real," he said at a press conference at Rockefeller Center. "They cannot be waived. They will not be waived."

But a short time later, noting the need for both sides to complete their negotiations, Justice Theodore T. Jones of the State Supreme Court adjourned until Jan. 20 a hearing on possible fines and jail terms for union leaders under the Taylor Law prohibiting strikes by public employees. The hearing was originally scheduled for this morning and later delayed till 4 p.m.

The strike forced New Yorkers, who are heavily dependent upon public transportation, to walk, bike, hitchhike and endure traffic jams as early as 3:30 a.m. to get into Manhattan for work. Weary commuters welcomed the end of the strike.

"I'm relieved," Jennifer Stephens, 29, a publicist who lives in West New York, N.J., and works in downtown Brooklyn, said at Grand Central Terminal this afternoon. "I can't believe they went on strike to begin with." Ms. Stephens said the strike had forced her to take three days off work, and said, "I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't have any more days I could take off." She added that she had not been able to shop for Christmas. "It was frustrating. It put my life on hold. I wasn't able to get anything done."

Workers received word of the strike's end in the middle of the afternoon. At the Casey Stengel bus depot on Roosevelt Avenue, across from Shea Stadium in Queens, about 100 picketing workers looked surprised after a union official at the site got a call on a cellphone, then picked up a megaphone and announced that the strike was over.

"If you're on for a 4 o'clock shift, you have to go to work," the official said. There was some confusion among workers, who didn't have their work uniforms with them and had questions about the end of the walkout. "I feel like we lost if we go back to work without a contract," said Fazlu Miah, 43, of Queens, a bus driver who works out of the depot.

In a statement, Lawrence G. Reuter, president of New York city Transit, said that restarting the system was "complicated," and would take between 10 and 18 hours for subways - and "somewhat" less than that for buses. "As employees report to duty, an assessment is made to determine what level of service can be provided with the personnel available," the statement said.

"By the time the first trains are ready to roll, all 468 subway stations will be opened, but service levels will be ramped up incrementally." He said the system would have to undergo thorough safety inspections as well. Word of a possible end to the strike began filtering out earlier in the day and was made officially announced by state mediators.

"In the best interests of the public, which both parties serve, we have suggested, and they have agreed, to resume negotiations while the T.W.U. takes steps toward returning its membership to work," Richard A. Curreri, the lead state mediator, said at a news conference this morning.

However, he noted that a final contract agreement would still take some work. "While these discussions have been fruitful, an agreement remains out of the parties' reach at this time," he said. "It is clear to us, however, that both parties have a genuine desire to resolve their differences."

The return-to-work agreement, said several people close to the negotiations who insisted on anonymity because of the sensitive stage of the talks, would give every side some of what it asked for. It would allow Mr. Pataki to save face because the final negotiations would not take place until the strikers return to work, the people said, and it would apparently allow the Mr. Toussaint, the union's president, to save face because, they believe, the authority's pension demands - which are at the crux of the deadlock - have been significantly scaled back.

Mr. Curreri and two other mediators were appointed by the state's Public Employment Relations Board on Tuesday afternoon, after the union declared a strike at 3 a.m. that day and the authority said the talks had reached an impasse. Mr. Curreri, the board's director of conciliation, invited two veteran mediators - Martin F. Scheinman, a longtime arbitrator who has negotiated many labor agreements, and Alan R. Viani, the former chief negotiator at D.C. 37, the city's largest municipal workers union - to join him. All three met with both sides for hours at a time on Wednesday and into the night.

The authority's chairman, Peter S. Kalikow, and Mr. Toussaint both participated in the talks on Wednesday and early this morning. The news was an abrupt change from Wednesday's developments, when a war of rhetoric surrounding the strike entered a louder and more contentious phase, with Mr. Toussaint demanding that thorny pension issues be removed from the table before the strikers returned to work.

But Governor Pataki joined Mayor Bloomberg in saying that the transit workers must end the strike before negotiations could resume, contradicting the M.T.A.'s earlier position that it would talk anytime.

In addition to disagreements over pensions, the union and the M.T.A. have also had a difficult time on health care benefits.

The transportation authority had originally demanded that future transit workers contribute 2 percent of their pay toward health premiums. It reduced that demand to 1 percent several days before the strike deadline, then dropped it altogether, just hours before the strike deadline. Current workers do not pay premiums for the union's basic health plan. Mr. Toussaint's union has repeatedly said he would not agree to a contract that treated future workers worse than current workers - on pension or health insurance.

Several people close to the negotiations said they expected the two sides to discuss proposals to have the union agree to have all workers, current and future, pay health premiums Repeatedly saying that he wants to beat back the wave of concessions demanded by managements across the country, Mr. Toussaint has also insisted that he would not agree to a contract that required all workers to pay health premiums. Mr. Toussaint had attacked the mayor and the governor Wednesday for what he called the use of "insulting and offensive language," apparently referring to the mayor's characterization of the strike by the city's 33,700 subway and bus workers as "thuggish" and "selfish."

In a speech that belied the union's tenuous position - it is already being fined $1 million a day - Mr. Toussaint seemed to cast the conflict in a social-justice context. In describing the struggle of his largely minority union, he invoked the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, saying: "There is a higher calling than the law. That is justice and equality."

The transit strike, the first in a quarter century, began at 3 a.m. Tuesday after negotiations between the union and the transit authority broke down over the authority's last-minute demand that all new transit workers contribute 6 percent of their wages toward their pensions - up from the 2 percent that current workers pay. The authority has said it needs to rein in its soaring pension costs. Mr. Toussaint has argued that, under state law, it is illegal for the authority to insist on including a pension demand as part of a settlement.

Reporting for this article was contributed by Steven Greenhouse, Vikas Bajaj, Matthew Sweeney, Corey Kilgannon, Michael Cooper, Janon Fisher, Thomas J. Lueck, Jesse McKinley, Colin Moynihan, Fernanda Santos and Shadi Rahimi.

MTA Backs Down on Pension Proposals: TWU Executive to Vote on Proposal

Transport Workers Union leaders today agreed to take a proposal to their executive board aimed at ending the strike. These new proposals came out of discussions with state mediators. The cutbacks proposed by the MTA in the union pension system have been taken off the table. Meanwhile, the MTA are threatening to impose jail time and huge monetary fines on TWU leaders in an effort to break the union and the strike. Corporate media outlets and their business counterparts have denounced the transport workers as "thugs, rats and selfish." Roger Toussaint responded by recounting the heroic struggles of the civil rights movement evoking Rosa Parks and others who stood down threats and possible imprisonment in order to win gains in the struggle for human rights.
December 22, 2005

No Timetable Is Announced on Resumption of Service

New York Times

After meeting with both sides through the night, state mediators have devised a preliminary framework for a settlement of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority contract dispute that would allow strikers to return to work later today, the chief mediator said. It is not clear when members of Transit Workers Union, Local 100, would return to work to get subways and buses running again.

The union's executive board must first accept the settlement framework, although mediators said the union's leaders had agreed to ask the executive board to approve the recommendations.

"In the best interests of the public, which both parties serve, we have suggested, and they have agreed, to resume negotiations while the T.W.U. takes steps toward returning its membership to work," Richard A. Curreri, the board's director of conciliation, said at a news conference this morning. "Over the last 48 hours we have met separately with both T.W.U. and the M.T.A.," he said.

"While these discussions have been fruitful, an agreement remains out of the parties' reach at this time. It is clear to us, however, that both parties have a genuine desire to resolve their differences." Details of a settlement could take at least a day or two longer to be finalized, although buses and subways would be running before that.

The agreement, said several people close to the negotiations, would give every side some of what it asked for. The people insisted on anonymity because of the sensitive stage of the negotiations.

The proposal would allow Gov. George E. Pataki to save face because the final negotiations would not take place until the strikers return to work, the people said, and it would apparently allow the union's president, Roger Toussaint, to save face because, they believe, the authority's pension demands - which are at the crux of the deadlock - have been significantly scaled back.

In light of the progress in negotiations, State Supreme Court Justice Theodore T. Jones delayed a hearing scheduled for this morning on possible fines and jail terms for union leaders under the Taylor Law, which prohibits strikes by public employees.

The hearing was rescheduled for 4 p.m. today.

In Albany, Governor Pataki hailed the progress, and credited the Taylor Law, which requires mediation once an impasse is declared. "I just am pleased the Taylor Law, that sets up this process, was in this case followed by both sides and moved things forward in a positive way," Mr. Pataki said in a televised news conference.

Mr. Curreri and two other mediators were appointed by the state's Public Employment Relations Board on Tuesday afternoon after the union declared a strike at 3 a.m. that day and the authority said the talks had reached an impasse. Mr. Curreri, the board's director of conciliation, met with lawyers for the union, Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, that afternoon.

Mr. Curreri also invited two veteran mediators - Martin F. Scheinman, a longtime arbitrator who has negotiated many labor agreements, and Alan R. Viani, the former chief negotiator at D.C. 37, the city's largest municipal workers union - to join him. All three met with both sides for hours at a time on Wednesday and into the night. The authority's chairman, Peter S. Kalikow, and Mr. Toussaint both participated in the talks on Wednesday and early this morning, the people said.

Even if the union calls for strikers to return to work, it could be 18 hours before service is fully restored. Most of the 6,300 subway cars have been placed in underground tunnels or in train yards, one next to another. Supervisors have been running empty trains over the rails to keep the rails polished and prevent rust. The 4,600 buses have been stored and guarded at 18 depots.

Employees would have to return to their shifts, tracks and signals would have to be inspected, and subway cars and buses examined before the subways and buses could run. If all employees promptly returned at the start of their next shift, some subways could begin to run eight hours after managers and supervisors get word that the strikers are returning, officials said.

The news is an abrupt change from Wednesday's developments, when a war of rhetoric surrounding the strike entered a louder and more contentious phase, with Mr. Toussaint demanding that thorny pension issues be removed from the table before the strikers returned to work. But Governor Pataki joined Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in saying that the transit workers must end the strike before negotiations could resume, contradicting the M.T.A.'s earlier position that it would talk anytime.

The authority took the highly unusual step of running television advertisements urging individual workers to return to their jobs. Even so, there was evidence of a willingness to compromise, at least behind the scenes, as both sides met separately with state mediators - the first possible step toward taking the dispute to arbitration.

And late last night, members of the union's executive board were summoned to headquarters for an emergency meeting at 1 a.m. Then, a short time later, it was postponed indefinitely. For his part, Mr. Toussaint attacked the mayor and the governor for what he called the use of "insulting and offensive language," apparently referring to the mayor's characterization of the strike by the city's 33,700 subway and bus workers as "thuggish" and "selfish."

In a speech that belied the union's tenuous position - it is already being fined $1 million a day - Mr. Toussaint seemed to cast the conflict in a social-justice context. In describing the struggle of his largely minority union, he invoked the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, saying: "There is a higher calling than the law. That is justice and equality."

Despite Mr. Toussaint's vow not to return to the table until the pension demand was dropped, he and his top lawyers were meeting with state mediators for hours at a time. State mediation could have either led to a solution to the differences, or forced the two sides to binding arbitration.

While Mr. Toussaint reiterated his opposition to binding arbitration, he did not rule it out. And while Governor Pataki vowed that there would be no negotiations as long as workers were striking, Peter S. Kalikow, the chairman of the authority, was in the Grand Hyatt hotel Wednesday night, suggesting he was still willing to meet with Mr. Toussaint. Though he issued a statement highly critical of Mr. Toussaint's words, it included language hinting the authority still wanted to talk.

Mayor Bloomberg recited a litany of misery brought on by the strike: business was down 40 percent in some restaurants and 60 percent in some stores; home health aides were unable to reach their patients; people were delaying chemotherapy and radiation; the New York Blood Center declared a state of emergency; attendance at museums and theaters was down; the holiday crowds on Fifth Avenue had thinned. After the first day of chaos, there were signs that systems were being fine-tuned and people were adapting.

Some suburban trains took to skipping stops to get into Manhattan faster. Police checkpoints ran more smoothly. Still, the evening rush was as chaotic as Tuesday night's, with long lines almost everywhere. More cars entered Manhattan. About 36,000 cars entered between 5 and 10 a.m., up 18 percent over Tuesday, said Kay Sarlin, a spokeswoman for the City Department of Transportation.

The Staten Island ferry had more passengers than usual; commuters thronged ferry terminals at the Brooklyn Army Terminal and at Hunters Point in Long Island City. The city reopened Fifth and Madison Avenues, which had been closed to all but emergency vehicles on the first day. There were scattered reports of price gouging by taxi and livery car drivers, the mayor said. The burden of the strike fell unevenly upon New Yorkers of different classes. For many living in Manhattan, the strike remained an inconvenience, not a hardship.

Some, like Dave Halman, a 35- year-old Wall Street banker, worked from home the first day. On Wednesday, he was out on West 96th Street waiting for a company shuttle. "It's fine," he said. "We went through the blackout, 9/11 and now most people are taking this in stride." But for many more, the impact was harsher.

Stan Decker said he had walked nearly seven miles from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn to Jamaica, Queens. "They're hurting the ordinary people, they're not hurting the big shots," Mr. Decker, 59, said of the union. A union member himself, he complained, "Everybody's paying for health insurance. Why should they be different? When they overdo it like this, they hurt unions because if gives people a bad impression."

In its television advertisement, broadcast on the local cable channel NY1 News, the president of New York City Transit, Lawrence G. Reuter, said that "many hundreds of employees have already reported to work and we commend them." He urged employees to report to designated locations, listed on the agency's Web site, to avoid "severe legal and financial consequences."

On picket lines outside a bus depot in Midtown Manhattan and outside a transit plant, on West 53rd Street, some striking workers hinted they were having second thoughts. They said they live paycheck to paycheck, burdened with mortgages, many with children and ailing relatives to care for. Some said they had begun to wonder if they would be the ones to lose the most. Mayor Bloomberg, too, raised the question of whom the strike is hurting. "Roger Toussaint and the board have sought to portray the strike as a fight for working people," he said at a news conference.

"That argument doesn't hold any water. Working people are the ones that are being hurt. Busboys are getting hurt, garment industry workers are getting hurt, owners of mom-and-pop businesses are being hurt." The transit strike, the first in a quarter century, began at 3 a.m. Tuesday after negotiations between the union and the transit authority broke down over the authority's last-minute demand that all new transit workers contribute 6 percent of their wages toward their pensions - up from the 2 percent that current workers pay.

The authority has said it needs to rein in its soaring pension costs. Mr. Toussaint has argued that, under state law, it is illegal for the authority to insist on including a pension demand as part of a settlement. At a news conference, Mr. Pataki said: "There aren't going to be any talks while you're out there walking. Come back to work. And then the M.T.A., I'm sure, will be willing to engage in negotiations. But not while you're engaged in an illegal strike."

Asked about the union's demand that pensions be taken off the table, the governor said, "I don't care what the union says, until they come back to work." The governor's staff would not elaborate on his words, nor say whether they represented a change in the state's stance. Mr. Kalikow, who was appointed by the governor, said in his statement that the authority was ready to negotiate, but warned ominously that time was running out.

"The M.T.A. has remained in the hotel since the strike commenced, ready to negotiate," Mr. Kalikow said. He added: "It is becoming clear that we are rapidly approaching the point at which further waiting would be futile." Justice Jones ordered the union leaders to appear in court to face contempt charges and possibly jail. He also agreed to consider a request by the city for a temporary restraining order, which could lead to strikers being assessed additional fines.

Justice Jones brought up the possibility of jail for top union officials during proceedings in which James B. Henly, the lead state lawyer in the case, was seeking fines against Mr. Toussaint and two other officials of Local 100 - Ed Watt, the secretary-treasurer and Darlyne A. Lawson, the recording secretary. The union's lawyer, Arthur Z. Schwartz, argued that the judge could not rule on the state's request for fines against the three officials because they were in mediation, and not present in court.

Although he had not been asked by the state, the authority or the city to jail any union officials, Justice Jones said "one or more of these people could possibly be sent to jail" and agreed that they needed to be present. Mr. Toussaint, at his news conference, reiterated the union's argument that the authority had forced the union to strike by illegally insisting on pension changes. Under the state's Taylor Law, one side cannot make pensions a condition of a settlement. But in 1994 and in 1999, both sides agreed on pension changes. "We are prepared to resume negotiations, right away, right this minute," he said.

"If the pension issue were taken off the table, that would form the basis for us to ask our members - to ask our executive board - to ask our members to go back to work." Reporting for this article was contributed by Michael Cooper, Janon Fisher, Thomas J. Lueck, Jesse McKinley, Colin Moynihan, Fernanda Santos, Shadi Rahimi and Timothy Williams.

December 22, 2005

The Subtext Race Bubbles to the Surface in Standoff

New York Times

The standoff between the Transport Workers Union and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, tense and perilous, was already taking a harsh physical and economic toll on New Yorkers. But now, as representatives of a mostly nonwhite work force trade recriminations publicly with white leaders in government and at the transportation authority, the potentially volatile issue of race, with all its emotional consequences, is bubbling to the surface.

The examples are both blatant and subtle, some open to interpretation, some openly hostile. Regarding the latter sort, the union - representing workers who are largely minority - shut down a Web log where the public could comment on the strike after it became so clogged with messages comparing the workers to monkeys and calling them "you people." (Seventy percent of the employees of New York City Transit are black, Latino or Asian-American.) And what may have begun inadvertently, when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on Tuesday that union leaders had "thuggishly turned their backs on New York City," took on a life of its own yesterday as minority leaders and union members attacked the mayor's conduct as objectionable, or worse.

"There has been some offensive and insulting language used," said Roger Toussaint, the union leader. "This is regrettable and it is certainly unbecoming for the mayor of the city of New York to be using this type of language." But others were more extreme in their response. Leroy Bright, 56, a black bus operator who is also a union organizer, saw racial coding in Mr. Bloomberg's choice of words.

"The word thug is usually attributed to people of color whenever something negative takes place," he said, adding that the language was "unnecessarily hostile." The Rev. Al Sharpton, who called an evening news conference to blast Mr. Bloomberg, said in an interview: "How did we become thugs? Because we strike over a pension?" "I do not think the language would have been used in a union that was not as heavily populated by people of color," he added. "And whether he intentionally did it or not, he offended a lot of people of color and he ought to address that, and come to the bargaining table."

Earlier in the day, the Rev. Herbert D. Daughtry, a Brooklyn pastor, joined elected officials at a City Hall news conference and compared Mr. Bloomberg to Eugene (Bull) Connor, the Alabama police chief who used police dogs and fire hoses on civil rights protesters in the 1960's. Ed Skyler, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, dismissed those comments, saying, "It's despicable for anyone to inject race into this situation."

He noted that when police and fire union members were trailing the mayor during contract negotiations, Mr. Skyler had accused them of "acting like thugs," to little comment. But for all the accusations and counter-accusations, clues of a simmering racial tension have hovered over the contract negotiations between the union and the transit authority all along. Mr. Toussaint, for instance, continued yesterday to cast the strike as part of a broader movement for social justice and invoked the civil rights movement, as he often does in his calls to respect the dignity of his workers.

"Had Rosa Parks answered the call of the law instead of the higher call of justice, many of us who are driving buses today would instead be at the back of the bus," he said. Mr. Toussaint added that he was the one who pointed out that the authority did not honor the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The authority, in its offer on Monday night, agreed to create such a holiday, an action estimated to cost $9 million a year.

Indeed, the politics of the strike are in some ways embedded in the broader demographic changes in the city. Mr. Toussaint, who is originally from Trinidad, leads a union, now dominated by blacks, Latinos and Asian- Americans, whose members were once mostly of European descent. "Clearly race is a subtext of much of what has happened in city politics, in the ethnic succession within unions and city agencies," said Douglas A. Muzzio, a professor at the Baruch School of Public Affairs, who said he saw nothing inherently racial in the use of the term thuggish.

Among members of the Transport Workers Union, however, there is a real and bitter sense that city leaders speak of them differently from members of other unions, like those of police officers and firefighters, whose memberships are whiter. For instance, George McAnanama, a semi-retired union leader and former transit worker said transit employees have received less praise for their contributions during city emergencies like the 2001 terror attack and the 2003 blackout.

"Whenever there's praise given out we're always the stepchild if we're mentioned at all," he said.

Now, that sense of injustice has more fully emerged among workers on strike and is being championed by elected officials from the City Council to Congress. Mr. Sharpton made the civil rights connection explicit, noting that when Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, he was in Memphis to support a sanitation workers' strike, a strike also held to be illegal.

Sewell Chan and Mike McIntire contributed reporting for this article.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

NYC Transit Strike May Inspire Workers Nationwide

NYC Transit Strike (Madison Ave)
Originally uploaded by Bluester.
New York City transit workers have paralyzed the nation's largest metropolitan area in a 34,000 union member walkout. Although they have been condemned by the Bloomberg administration, Gov. Pataki and the capitalist elites who are only thinking of their desire for holiday shopping profits, the majority of working people in the city have expressed support for the work stoppage. This labor action may inspire other unions across the nation to put a halt to the constant threat of cutbacks in salaries, health care coverage and pension benefits.
TWU Statement on Strike--Left Responses to the Transit Workers Walkout


NYC transit workers forced to strike!

Press statement from TWU President Roger Toussaint

People's Weekly World Newspaper, 12/20/05 15:20

NEW YORK CITY - With a one billion dollar surplus, the contract between the MTA and Transport Workers Union Local 100 should have been a no brainier. Sadly that has not been the case. Our contract expired midnight on Dec. 15.

In an attempt to save Mass Transit and in deference to our riders, we postponed our deadline and attempted to continue talking to the MTA. From the beginning, the MTA approached these negotiations in bad faith, demanding arbitration before even trying to resolve the contract.

Hours before contract expiration, the MTA got rid of its one billion dollar surplus -- a surplus which we believe continues to be understated by some one hundred million dollars. The MTA knew that reducing health and pension standards at the authority would be unacceptable to our union. They knew there was no good economic reason for their hard line on this issue - not with a billion dollar surplus.

They went ahead anyway, supported by the Bloomberg administration which wants to overrun Municipal Labor Unions and all City workers with down pressed wages and gutted health benefits and pension plans. This has been combined with continued attempts by the MTA, joined by the Governor and the Mayor, to intimidate and threaten our members and their families.

This is a fight over whether hard work will be rewarded with a decent retirement -- over the erosion or eventual elimination of health benefit coverage for working people. And it is a fight over dignity and respect on the job. A concept that is very alien to the MTA. Transit workers are tired at being under appreciated and disrespected. The Local 100 Executive Board has voted overwhelmingly to extend strike action to all MTA properties effective immediately.

All Local 100 representatives and shop stewards are directed to report to their assigned strike locations picket lines or facility nearest you immediately. To our riders, we ask for your understanding forbearance. We stood with you to keep token booths open, to keep conductors on the train and oppose fare hikes. We now ask that you stand with us. We did not want a strike.

Evidently the MTA, governor and the Mayor did. We call on all good will New Yorkers, the
Labor Community, and all working people to recognize that our fight is their fight, and to rally in our support with solidarity activities and events. And to show the MTA that TWU does not stand alone. -

Roger Toussaint, President, TWU Local 100


Transit workers show determination, high morale

Dan Margolis
People's Weekly World Newspaper, 12/21/05 11:09

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — All 34,000 New York City’s bus and subway workers, represented by Transport Workers Union Local 100, walked off the job in the early morning hours of Dec. 20, beginning NYC’s first transit strike in 25 years. According to TWU workers picketing in the cold at the Coney Island subway terminal, they were there for themselves, for future transit workers and for all working-class families.

At 3 p.m., exactly 12 hours after Local 100 leadership called the strike, nearly a hundred workers picketed the Coney Island terminal. According to Edwin Kippins, a motorman for the B and Q lines, over 60 pickets — some of them much larger — were going on at train and bus yards and terminals all over the city’s five boroughs.

Hazel Daley, the picket captain, said that she was proud to be out, and that she felt there was “very good morale” from the workers and the public alike. “We haven’t seen too many people walking by — Coney Island is sort of isolated when the trains and buses aren’t running — but people driving by are showing more support than we expected.” As if to emphasize her point, a line of cars went by moments later, all honking their horns, some with drivers giving the “thumbs up” sign.

“Other drivers asked to take some of our [picket] signs, so that they could display them in their car,” Daley said. No one wants to strike, but everyone interviewed felt it was necessary. The transit workers said that they needed to stand up to the transit authority, which, they say, treats them with contempt.

Although it is running a $1 billion surplus, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the agency that controls the trains and buses, demanded a two-tier pension system, where new workers would pay more toward their pension than current workers for their first 10 years of service.

It also wants new workers to pay more for health care benefits. “It’s a divide-and-conquer strategy that [the MTA] is pulling,” Daryl Ramsey, motorman on the Q and D trains told the World. “How can you have a worker paying 6 percent of his salary to his pension, while another worker, hired only two months before, is paying only 2 percent? That’s going to be divisive.” Ramsey also said that such a disparity is simply unjust.

Another picketer named Sterling held up the back of his digital camera for this reporter to view. “Look at that,” he said, pointing to an image that showed a filthy, overflowing toilet. “That’s the toilet we’re supposed to use at the 145th street station [on the B line] in Manhattan.” Pointing out another picture, which showed a room with a filthy layer of slime on the ground, the worker explained that it was their lunch area at the same station.

The slime on the ground, he explained, was raw sewage that came out of the toilet in the previous picture, when it backed up. Kippins said this strike, if successful, would benefit all workers. “They are slowly chipping away at the benefits of everyone, especially public employees,” he said. “The fire department, the police department — if we lose, they’re the next to get hit, and they know that.”

Daley said that she sensed a lot of support from other sections of labor. This support was on view the night before, at a rally of thousands of people to support the TWU. At the rally, leaders of public and private unions, including the City University professors, the building trades, Unite Here, the Screen Actors Guild, the Teachers Union and others all came out to pledge support in the event of a strike.

Daley pointed to a group of police officers who were there and said that they had been very friendly and supportive. Their union, the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, supports the TWU. One of the officers, when questioned, said that he was on duty, and was not allowed to say he supported the strike.

The workers are under fierce assault. The mayor, the governor, and many others are demanding that the Taylor Law be enforced. This law fines public workers two days pay for every day on strike. “There are some things higher than the law,” TWU President Roger Toussaint told the previous night’s demonstration. “One of those things is justice. If Rosa Parks had obeyed the law, many of us who drive the buses would have to sit in back of them.”

One of the Coney Island workers said that he was willing to pay the fines, if “push came to shove.” “It’s worth it,” he said. “I’ve been working for the MTA for eight years. I have decades to go. It’s worth it. We have to draw the line.”


Justice for NYC transit workers

They are fighting the rich and powerful to get a decent contract

Workers World Party Statement on TWU Strike

Published Dec 19, 2005 11:12 PM

Who keeps our subways and buses running? Not the high-paid executives of the MTA. Not the bankers who milk our transit system through huge interest payments. No matter how early you go to work, you’ll find subway and bus drivers, conductors, token booth workers, cleanup and track personnel already on the job. These women and men work hard, around the clock, often in hazardous conditions and in all weather.

The MTA wants to cut out conductors and make "one-person" trains, endangering the safety of workers and the public. It wants to cut benefits for new hires. It is offering wages that lag behind inflation. The workers have said, enough is enough! They face jail and fines if they strike for a decent contract. They're ready to fight and have the power to shut the city down. It's a power they haven’t used in a long time.

But the MTA may force them to do that or give up wages and health coverage and pensions that every worker deserves. MTA has the money No one wants to be inconvenienced. But think of it—this struggle will affect the workers of this city for years to come. Big business has been cutting away at wages and benefits, crying poverty. Poverty? Yes, there’s poverty all right, but not in the executive suites, not on Wall Street, not in the country club crowd. Their earnings are out of sight. And the MTA admits to having a $1-billion surplus!

But millions of workers can’t afford a doctor or medicine, can’t send their kids to college, can’t find decent, affordable housing, and are thousands of dollars in debt to credit card companies and banks. Most of them have no unions. The transit workers have a union—Local 100 of the TWU. It has a proud history of fighting the rich and powerful.

The MTA says it won’t touch “one cent” of existing workers’ health care and pensions. But it wants to cut those benefits for all the new hires. The TWU members, voting democratically in mass rallies of thousands, have said NO. Fighting for our future The big bosses don’t care what kind of a world our children live in. They’re trying to impose a “two-tier” contract—lower pay and benefits for future employees.

But the transit union is taking a stand for our sons and daughters. Let them know you agree! Get involved in supporting these workers. They help you every day. Now they need your help so we all can have a better life.

Issued as a public service by:
Workers World Party 55 West 17th St., 5th floor
New York, NY 10011
Phone: (212) 255-0352
Email: wwp@workers.org
Web: http://www.workers.org

This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: ww@workers.org
Page printed from: http://www.workers.org/2005/us/justice-1229/

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bolivian Socialist, Evo Morales, Wins Presidential Election

Originally uploaded by Donmatas1.
A socialist leader and a close ally of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Cuban head-of-state Fidel Castro, has won a hefty victory in the Bolivian national elections. The election of this indigenous labor organizer as the president of this South American country clearly illustrates the strong movement towards the left in Latin America.
Leftist Morales Claims Victory in Bolivia

The Associated Press
Monday, December 19, 2005; 5:40 PM

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia -- The Socialist firebrand who claimed victory in Bolivia's presidential race repeated his promise to end a U.S.-backed crusade against coca plants, but said Monday his government would respect private property. Unofficial results showed Evo Morales _ himself a coca farmer _ with a decisive lead over seven opponents that would make him the first Indian president in the 180-year history of independent Bolivia and solidify a continental leftward shift.

Morales was congratulated by Venezuela's self-proclaimed revolutionary leader Hugo Chavez and by the more centrist Socialist president of Chile, Ricardo Lagos. No early call came from the United States, and Morales said, "neither was I expecting one." A State Department spokeswoman, Jan Edmondson, later said in Washington that "while official results have not yet been released, we congratulate Evo Morales on his apparent victory."

She said the U.S. has had good relations with Bolivia in the past and "we're prepared to work to build the same relationship with the next government." Apparently trying to reassure foreign investors, Morales said his government would respect private property even as it asserts state ownership over Bolivia's natural gas reserves.

Multinational companies would be paid to help in exploration and to develop the industry, he said. Morales has been an irritant for Washington for years while he has built close ties with Cuban President Fidel Castro and Chavez. A State Department report earlier this year referred to him as an "illegal-coca agitator."

On Monday, Morales said a governing Movement Toward Socialism party "is not only going to respect, but is going to protect private property," although "vacant, unproductive land" would be turned over to farmers with no land or very little. His comments echoed policies already in place in Venezuela to grant the poor title to land owned by big companies or individuals that has been deemed unproductive by the government.

The site of the news conference _ the offices of the coca growers union where he rose to political prominence _ showed that his apparent victory did not mellow his crusade against U.S. coca-eradication efforts. "We are betting on an effective fight against narcotrafficking because neither cocaine nor drug trafficking is part of Bolivian culture," Morales said.

He has not said how he will stop illegal drug exports, complaining instead that "the fight against drug trafficking has been a pretext for the U.S. government to install military bases ... and these policies will be revised." Morales also defended coca _ the raw material for cocaine _ as an integral part of Bolivian culture.

Complete official returns were not expected before Tuesday, but three independent vote counts sponsored by Bolivian news media showed Morales at or above the clear majority he would need to win outright. If he falls short, Bolivia's congress would decide the winner, but it would be under enormous pressure to choose the clear front-runner.

No candidate in decades has won by such a landslide, marking a turning point in a country traditionally governed by the non-Indian elite. Like most Bolivians, Morales grew up in extreme poverty; only two of his six brothers and sisters survived childhood in Bolivia's bleak Andean highlands.

"The people have dealt him a very strong mandate," said Former Foreign Minister Gustavo Fernandez. He said congressional confirmation would be a "mere formality" if Morales falls short of a straight majority.

Fernandez considers the election a dramatic triumph for South America's leftists: After years of strikes, protests and barricade-building, the people are finally in the position to demand more power from entrenched ruling classes. "This isn't just about Bolivia; this is happening across Latin America," Fernandez said.

"There is now a wave of popular movements sweeping across the region, not only in Bolivia but also in Uruguay, Brazil and other countries." ___ Associated Press Writer Bill Cormier in La Paz contributed to this report.

December 19, 2005

New Bolivian Leader Poses Challenge to US Policy

Filed at 7:05 p.m. ET

SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) - The election of Evo Morales as Bolivia's president poses new challenges to the Bush administration in Latin America, where its unpopularity is growing and the left is on the ascendancy.

U.S. officials have tried to demonize Evo Morales, a former leader of coca farmers and the first Indian elected Bolivian president, since he came to prominence. He himself has called his Movement Toward Socialism a ``nightmare'' for Washington. But Morales shows signs he could be a pragmatic leader and the United States should steer away from confrontation, regional analysts said.

``It is important to recognize that he clearly has a mandate from the Bolivian people. People knew what they were voting for,'' analyst Jess Vogt of the Washington Office on Latin America said in a telephone interview from Bolivia. Morales' victory is the latest for the left in Latin American, where many voters have become disillusioned with free-market economic policies that have done little to improve the lot of the poor.

Anti-U.S. sentiment is rising, evident from the graffiti on walls of cities like Sao Paulo in Brazil, or the tear-gas filled street protests that greeted U.S. President George W. Bush at a hemispheric summit in Argentina last month. The trend has thrown up leaders like Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former factory worker who follows a conservative economic policy and has a respectful relationship with Washington, and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who has engaged in a shrill shouting match with Bush administration officials as he tries to counter U.S. influence and spread his own social revolution.


Who will Morales follow? His praise for Chavez has alarmed the White House, which fears a leftist bloc gathered around Chavez and Cuban President Fidel Castro, who has also lauded the new Bolivian leader. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington would look to the behavior of the Bolivian government to determine the course of U.S.-Bolivian relations.

``The issue for us is will the new Bolivian government govern democratically? Are they open to cooperation that, in economic terms, will undoubtedly help the Bolivian people, because Bolivia cannot be isolated from the international economy?'' Rice said in a CNN interview.

Morales opposes Washington in the two key areas of its Latin American policy -- the creation of an Americas-wide free trade zone and the war on drugs. He has vowed to roll back a U.S.-funded eradication program of coca, cocaine's main ingredient, but also used by Indians in traditional medicine. Bolivia is the third-biggest cocaine producer after Colombia and Peru.

Morales has also pledged to nationalize the natural gas industry -- Bolivia has South America's second-largest reserves -- and use the wealth to lift the poor. Still, said Larry Birns of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington: ``I don't think there's going to be an early confrontation, because Morales is a practical man.''


``Will the administration be wise enough to pull back from its hostile attitude? What is needed is a sober accounting of what is needed, instead of turning to the CIA,'' Birns said. Increased aid, particularly for a crop substitution program, could help on the drug issue, analysts said. ``It is clear this government is not going to turn Bolivia into a narco-state, which is what Washington keeps on insisting,'' Vogt said.

On the eve of the election, Morales said he hoped for a proper relationship with Washington. On Monday, he said gas rights for foreign companies would end, but Bolivia still wanted to work with them as partners.

``Morales is not out there demanding expropriations. They are not fools. They are taking a pragmatic approach,'' Vogt said. The United States could follow the approach of Bolivia's giant neighbor, Brazil, which will play an important role in stabilizing the country, analysts said. Brazilian state energy company Petrobras has a major stake in Bolivian gas and could lose some of it.

Yet Lula has praised Morales and his ambitions for his people. ``Of course we want to guard our interests, we don't want to throw money out the window, but it is more important to take care of political harmony and development,'' Brazilian foreign affairs advisor Marco Aurelio Garcia told O Globo newspaper. How the United States handles Bolivia could set the scene for its reaction to elections across the region next year that could bring more leftist leaders.

``There is a changing tide in Latin America and the United States needs to get out of the Cold War paradigm. The policies they've been pursuing for decades just don't fly anymore,'' Vogt said.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

US Government Targets Anti-War Movement

Originally uploaded by jongela4peace.
Abayomi Azikiwe is seen here addressing the "Bring Them Home Now!" Rally on September 10, 2005. The visit of the delegation from Crawford, Texas to Washington, D.C., which spent three days in Detroit, coincided with the "Camp Casey Detroit" project that lasted for 21 days at Grand Circus Park in downtown Detroit. The "Camp Casey Detroit" initiative was launched by a delegation from the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) that travelled to join the protests led by military mom Cindy Sheehan outside Bush's vacation ranch in Crawford. These protests against the war are being targeted by various intelligence units affiliated with the US Army, the FBI and the National Security Agency.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pages From History: Detroit City Council Holds Meeting on Police Spying

Originally published on March 8, 2004

By Abayomi Azikiwe

Date Created
08 Mar 2004

Activists from MECAWI, the ACLU and NLG addressed the need for changes in Detroit's police policy related to conducting surveillance on legal political activity

Detroit City Council Meeting on Police Surveillance Against Peaceful Protesters

For more information log on to the following URL: http://www.mecawi.org

Editor's Note: The following two statements were delivered on Monday March 8, 2004 to a special meeting of the Detroit City Council. This meeting was in response to a written request by Mr. David Sole of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice after the Detroit Police Department was confronted at a mass demonstration on Woodward avenue last September 27, 2003 for videotaping activists participating in the action.

The republishing of this article is being done at a time when the same issues of political surveillance are resurfacing with concrete proof that this is official administration policy coming directly from the White House. In recent days (Dec. 2005) it has been brought to light that the United States military has engaged in broad infiltration and monitoring of anti-war and peace organizations. In addition, the National Security Agency is being utilized to spy on people living within the geographical boundaries of the United States. In 2003-04 our suspicion was that the intelligence gathering on the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) originated from the implementation of the USA Patriot Act and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

One major concern of David Sole and Abayomi Azikiwe at the City Council meeting was to what degree the USA Patriot Act and other measures are influencing police pratice on a local level? According to the two police officials who arrived late at the hearing at City Council on Monday, the department does not conduct political surveillance.

However, when pressed by the panelists including City Council members and representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Lawyers Guild, the Commander who was present representing the Chief of Police Ella Bully-Cummings, modified his statement to admit that the department does collect intelligence but that it is strictly limited to criminal investigations and the intelligence gathering is de-centralized.

City Council members JoAnn Watson, Alberta Tinsley-Talabi, Alonzo Bates, Sheila Cockrel and Sharon McPhail, who chaired the session, agreed to hold another meeting on the issue in which the police will be requested again to arrive at the meeting on time and be prepared to discuss the issue of political surveillance related to protest activity in the city of Detroit.

When Commander Ralph Godbee arrived well into the meeting on Monday, March 8, he stated that he was not prepared to discuss the issues related to political surveillance and that he thought the meeting was on videocameras placed in police squad cars. He initially denied that Detroit police had videotaped anti-war demonstrators on September 27, however, Councilwoman Cockrel emphasized that the three men doing the videotaping were in fact Detroit police officers.

Some of the City Council members present at the March 8 session had been victims of surveillance and political disruption during the 1960s and 1970s. This fact was noted by at least two members during the course of the discussions. The entire meeting was broadcast over Detroit Cable television later on that evening.

Statement to the Detroit City Council Opposing Law-Enforcement Surveillance of the Anti-War Movement

By Abayomi Azikiwe

First of all I wish to thank the Detroit City Council for convening this meeting today. The erosion of civil liberties and civil rights under the current administration in Washington, D.C. is a serious concern for all peace and freedom-loving people throughtout the country. Consequently, we appreciate your show of concern as it relates to the issues brought before you by the petitioner, Mr. David Sole, resulting from the activities of police officers on September 27, 2003 during a peaceful demonstration opposing the war in Iraq on Woodward avenue and Grand Circus Park.

Since the events surrounding the World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Seattle in December of 1999, there has been an escalation in attacks on the rights of individuals, groups and movements to gather and protest against the oppressive conditions we face under an increasingly globalized world under the domination of the United States Government.

Events in Washington, D.C. in April of 2000 outside meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, where hundreds of mainly youthful demonstrators were arrested and brutalized by D.C. police represented a continuation of what happened in Seattle months before, where law-enforcement officers used excessive force, including chemical warfare to clear thousands of anti-globalization activists from the streets.

This pattern continued in June of 2000, when hundreds protested the Free Trade Area of the Americas Summit held in Windsor. The city of Detroit reportedly spent over $5 million dollars to monitor and suppress these demonstrations. Dozens of peaceful activists were arrested during the first day of action surrounding the FTAA summit for riding bicycles in the downtown area. The then Mayor of the city held a press conference where he denounced the mostly young activists as "anarchists" and "communists" and warned city residents not to participate in the demonstrations which sought to highlight the growing economic crisis in the United States and consequently the city of Detroit and state of Michigan.

However, after the assumption of power by the Bush administration in January of 2001, resulting in the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of mainly African-American, Hispanic-American and Senior voters in the state of Florida, a stepping-up of harassment and surveillance of governmental critics occured.

This speaker attended the counter-inaugural demonstrations in the nation's capital in January of 2001, where well over 100,000 people came out into the streets to protest the right-wing coup launched by the U.S. Supreme Court. The entire security for the anti-Bush protest activity was supervised by the director of Secret Service who attempted to block legally permitted demonstrators from entering Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania avenue in Washington.

Moreover, after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration was granted a green light to change the entire fabric of American jurisprudence by conducting mass arrests and indefinite detentions of immigrant groups from predominantly Muslim countries. Many of these individuals remain in custody and hundreds have been deported.

Some have also been assassinated by government hit squads in Yemen and other countries outside the U.S. Today hundreds remain in concentration camp conditions at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where even children are denied the right to legal representation and due process. It is important to also note that many of the people who are now being detained as "enemy combatants" are American citizens and permanent residents of the country.

Consequently, having legal American citizenship does not protect one's rights in the United States in Bush's so-called "War on Terrorism." Our concern in MECAWI is that the domestic and foreign policy imperatives of the Bush administration not be used here in our city to deny the rights of individuals and groups.

On October 15, 2003, the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a memorandum to over 17,000 law-enforcement agencies throughout the United States indicating that the upcoming national demonstrations held on October 25, 2003 in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco should be monitored for possible terrorism links.

These demonstrations, which were legally permitted gatherings, were targeted for political surveillance and disruption on a national level. According to the October 15, 2003 FBI memo: "While the FBI possesses no information indicating that violent or terrorist activities are being planned as part of these protests, the possibility exists that elements of the activist community may attempt to engage in violent, destructive, or disruptive acts."

Such statements by the chief law-enforcement agency in the country which is disseminated to police departments across the nation is extremely misleading and can cause extreme harm to law-abiding citizens who wish to exercise their democratic rights supposedly guaranteed under the first and fourth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Despite the issuance of a statement by the FBI denying such actions were aimed at curtailing individual rights and liberties, two major events should be cited to illustrate the impact of such information being circulated on a national level.

The demonstrations in Miami in November against the FTAA were attacked by the local police where union members, youth and retirees were beaten, gassed and arrested in mass. What came to light later was that $8 Million of the $87.5 Billion supplemental war allocation approved by the U.S. Congress last fall was utilized to suppress the demonstrations in Miami.

More recently, in Des Moines, Iowa, Federal Prosecutors on Tuesday "withdrew a subpoena ordering Drake University to turn over a list of people involved in an antiwar forum in November, as well as subpoenas ordering four activists to testify before a grand jury."(AP report, Feb. 11, 2004) Such actions are clearly designed to carry out the domestic and foreign policy agenda of the Bush administration. We are calling upon the Detroit City Council to reject such an approach during this critical period of our history as a nation.

There should at least be a law which prohibits law-enforcement from engaging in political surveillance of legally protected peaceful activity. Adopting such an ordinance would send a strong message to the Bush administration that the people of this city reject the false demonization of dissent and protest.

Abayomi Azikiwe

Statement by David Sole (Petitioner from the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice) to Detroit City Council, March 8, 2004

On September 27, 2003 hundreds of Detroiters gathered to protest the U.S. colonial invasion and occupation of Iraq. We were there with a permit issued by this very Council who polled the Police Department, Recreation Department, DOT and other concerned departments for their input.

We were engaged in an activity that has the sanction of the highest law of this nation – exercising our Constitutionally guaranteed rights to assemble and speak. It isn’t always easy or popular to speak out on an issue or to march down Woodward Avenue. Many people feel somewhat intimidated, understandably so, because disagreement with the policies of the Bush administration has been branded, by some, to be as bad as terrorism.

So you can imagine our anger and outrage when three Detroit plainclothes police officers with video cameras approached our gathering site. They didn’t limit themselves to a group shot. No, they came right up to individuals and stuck the camera into peoples’ faces. What is the purpose of this behavior? Police Chief Bully-Cummings said in her November 26 reply to Council’s inquiry that it was for “strategic planning” and to “enable the department to efficiently prepare for future events.”

Of what use to planning, training or efficiency is having closeup and group photos of peaceful protesters? Is this the best use of our tax dollars and Detroit’s police personnel? With all the problems this police department has, as documented by the Federal government and exemplified by the huge sums of money paid out to victims of police misconduct, brutality and even wrongful death– it seems self-evident that there are better things for the police to be doing. The police action of Sept. 27 has a chilling effect on the exercise of constitutional rights. It is a form of intimidation and harassment.

Many of us remember the outrageous Federal, state and local Detroit spying by police agencies in the 1960’s and 70’s. Much of this conduct was found to be illegal. Detroit’s infamous Red Squad kept files on tens of thousands of people accused of no crime. In case anyone here is too young to remember – I brought my Red Squad file along with me today. It was turned over to me by court order – along with the assurance that surveillance of peaceful protest activities would no longer be tolerated.

We urge that this Council take immediate action to bar police spying on peaceful protesters. We urge that Council inquire further to insure that Detroit’s police department isn’t carrying out other forms of illegal interference, infiltration or spying. Police Departments, once embarked upon the path of targeting political activists and protesters, are not easily stopped at simple surveillance.

The history of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Black Panther Party, the civil rights movement, the labor movement and the anti-war movement show a propensity to engage in surveillance, disruption, infiltration, breaking and entering to steal files, provocation to violence and even assassination! Please send a clear message to the Detroit Police Department that the people of Detroit and our City Council will not tolerate infringement of our rights.


USA Patriot Act Opens Window For Fascism

Patriot Act
Originally uploaded by M.L. Liu.
Two major exposures highlighting the Bush administration's fascist agenda have temporarily slowed the pace of the implementation of more legislation which empowers the government to act with impunity, secrecy and ruthlessness. The uncovering of the Central Intelligence Agency flights to Europe where they torture purported terrorists. Also the admittance by Bush that he approved widespread electronic eavesdropping on people within the United States by the National Security Agency.
Bush Approved Eavesdropping, Official Says

By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writer

President Bush has personally authorized a secretive eavesdropping program in the United States more than three dozen times since October 2001, a senior intelligence official said Friday night.

The disclosure follows angry demands by lawmakers earlier in the day for congressional inquiries into whether the monitoring by the highly secretive National Security Agency violated civil liberties.

"There is no doubt that this is inappropriate," declared Republican Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record) of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He promised hearings early next year.

Bush on Friday refused to discuss whether he had authorized such domestic spying without obtaining warrants from a court, saying that to comment would tie his hands in fighting terrorists.

In a broad defense of the program put forward hours later, however, a senior intelligence official told The Associated Press that the eavesdropping was narrowly designed to go after possible terrorist threats in the United States.

The official said that, since October 2001, the program has been renewed more than three dozen times. Each time, the White House counsel and the attorney general certified the lawfulness of the program, the official said. Bush then signed the authorizations.

During the reviews, government officials have also provided a fresh assessment of the terrorist threat, showing that there is a catastrophic risk to the country or government, the official said.

"Only if those conditions apply do we even begin to think about this," he said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the intelligence operation.

"The president has authorized NSA to fully use its resources — let me underscore this now — consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution to defend the United States and its citizens," the official said, adding that congressional leaders have also been briefed more than a dozen times.

Senior administration officials asserted the president would do everything in his power to protect the American people while safeguarding civil liberties.

"I will make this point," Bush said in an interview with "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." "That whatever I do to protect the American people — and I have an obligation to do so — that we will uphold the law, and decisions made are made understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people."

The surveillance, disclosed in Friday's New York Times, is said to allow the agency to monitor international calls and e-mail messages of people inside the United States. But the paper said the agency would still seek warrants to snoop on purely domestic communications — for example, Americans' calls between New York and California.

"I want to know precisely what they did," Specter said. "How NSA utilized their technical equipment, whose conversations they overheard, how many conversations they overheard, what they did with the material, what purported justification there was."

Sen. Russ Feingold (news, bio, voting record), D-Wis., a member of the Judiciary Committee, said, "This shocking revelation ought to send a chill down the spine of every American."

Vice President Dick Cheney and Bush chief of staff Andrew Card went to the Capitol Friday to meet with congressional leaders and the top members of the intelligence committees, who are often briefed on spy agencies' most classified programs. Members and their aides would not discuss the subject of the closed sessions.

The intelligence official would not provide details on the operations or examples of success stories. He said senior national security officials are trying to fix problems raised by the Sept. 11 commission, which found that two of the suicide hijackers were communicating from San Diego with al-Qaida operatives overseas.

"We didn't know who they were until it was too late," the official said.

Some intelligence experts who believe in broad presidential power argued that Bush would have the authority to order these searches without warrants under the Constitution.
In a case unrelated to the NSA's domestic eavesdropping, the administration has argued that the president has vast authority to order intelligence surveillance without warrants "of foreign powers or their agents."

"Congress cannot by statute extinguish that constitutional authority," the Justice Department said in a 2002 legal filing with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review.
Other intelligence veterans found difficulty with the program in light of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, passed after the intelligence community came under fire for spying on Americans. That law gives government — with approval from a secretive U.S. court — the authority to conduct covert wiretaps and surveillance of suspected terrorists and spies.

In a written statement, NSA spokesman Don Weber said the agency would not provide any information on the reported surveillance program. "We do not discuss actual or alleged operational issues," he said.

Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, former NSA general counsel, said it was troubling that such a change would have been made by executive order, even if it turns out to be within the law.
Parker, who has no direct knowledge of the program, said the effect could be corrosive. "There are programs that do push the edge, and would be appropriate, but will be thrown out," she said.

Prior to 9/11, the NSA typically limited its domestic surveillance activities to foreign embassies and missions — and obtained court orders for such investigations. Much of its work was overseas, where thousands of people with suspected terrorist ties or other valuable intelligence may be monitored.

The report surfaced as the administration and its GOP allies on Capitol Hill were fighting to save provisions of the expiring USA Patriot Act that they believe are key tools in the fight against terrorism. An attempt to rescue the approach favored by the White House and Republicans failed on a procedural vote.

Senate Rejects Extension of Patriot Act


Special Correspondent In a stinging defeat for President Bush, Senate Democrats blocked passage Friday of a new Patriot Act to combat terrorism at home, depicting the measure as a threat to the constitutional liberties of innocent Americans.

Republicans spurned calls for a short-term measure to prevent the year-end expiration of law enforcement powers first enacted in the anxious days after Sept. 11, 2001. "The president will not sign such an extension," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and lawmakers on each side of the issue blamed the other for congressional gridlock on the issue.

The Senate voted 52-47 to advance a House-passed bill to a final vote, eight short of the 60 needed to overcome the filibuster backed by nearly all Senate Democrats and a handful of the 55 Republicans.

"We can come together to give the government the tools it needs to fight terrorism and protect the rights and freedoms of innocent citizens," said Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., arguing that provisions permitting government access to confidential personal data lacked safeguards to protect the innocent.

"We need to be more vigilant," agreed Sen. John Sununu (news, bio, voting record), a Republican from New Hampshire, where the state motto is "Live Free or Die." He quoted Benjamin Franklin: "Those that would give up essential liberty in pursuit of a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security."But Frist likened the bill's opponents to those who "have called for a retreat and defeat strategy in Iraq. That's the wrong strategy in Iraq. It is the wrong strategy here at home."

Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., said, "If 90-plus percent of the Democrats vote against cloture, and 90-plus percent of the Republicans vote for cloture, it is hard to argue it is not partisan." Cloture is a Senate term that refers to ending a filibuster.

In a statement, Bush said terrorists "want to attack America again and kill the innocent and inflict even greater damage" than four years ago. "Congress has a responsibility not to take away this vital tool that law enforcement and intelligence have used."

Congressional officials pointed to a provision in the existing law that said even if it expired, law enforcement agencies could continue to wield Patriot Act powers in existing investigations of all known groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and the Zarqawi group in Iraq.

Justice Department officials said no existing wiretap would have to be turned off. But they said expiration of the law would create confusion about whether information gleaned after Jan. 1 could be shared, even if it stemmed from an ongoing investigation.

Much of the controversy involved powers granted to law enforcement agencies to gain access to a wealth of personal data, including library and medical records, in secret, as part of investigations into suspected terrorist activity.

The bill also includes a four-year extension of the government's ability to conduct roving wiretaps — which may involve multiple phones — and continues the authority to wiretap "lone wolf" terrorists who may operate on their own, without control from a foreign agent or power.

Yet another provision, which applies to all criminal cases, gives the government 30 days to provide notice that it has carried out a search warrant. Current law requires the government to disclose search warrants in a reasonable period of time.

During debate, several Democrats pointed to a New York Times report that Bush had secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on individuals inside the United States without first securing permission from the courts.

"Today's revelation makes it crystal clear that we have to be very careful, very careful," said Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y.

No Republican defended the reported practice, and the bill's chief Republican supporter joined in the criticism. "There is no doubt that this is inappropriate," said Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He pledged hearings in 2006.

Under the measure the Senate was considering, law enforcement officials could continue to obtain secret access to a variety of personal records from businesses, hospitals and other organizations, including libraries.

Access is obtained by order of a secret court established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Specter told the bill's critics that before such permission is granted, a judge would have to "make a determination on a factual showing that there is a terrorism investigation that does involve foreigners."

On a second issue covered under the bill, a so-called National Security Letter, government investigators could continue to gain access to a more limited range of personal records without a court order of any kind.

Specter said the legislation permitted the recipient of a letter to appeal in court. "The essence of the protection of civil rights ... has been that you interpose an impartial magistrate between the policeman and the citizens. That protection is given," he said.

The recipient of such an order is barred from disclosing it, and Sununu said that in order to overturn the gag order, "you have to show...bad faith on the part of the federal government, and no individual or business will ever be able to show that."

On the Senate vote, two Democrats supported the GOP-led effort to advance the bill to a final vote, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Sununu and GOP Sens. Larry Craig of Idaho, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted to block the measure. Frist initially voted to advance the bill, then switched to opposition purely as a parliamentary move that enables him to call for a second vote at some point in the future.
On a separate issue, the House called for the Bush administration to give Congress details of secret detention facilities overseas. The vote was 228-187.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Racist Political Class Executes Stanley Tookie Williams

Originally uploaded by lope.
The legal lynching of Stanley Tookie Williams was designed to shore up the right wing base of the Republican party in the state of California and throughout the United States. Killing Williams was symbolic of the genocidal impulses and racist psychosis of the ruling class in America. Nonetheless the campaign to save the life of this reknowned author and spokesperson for personal transformation has exposed the barbaric nature of the national security state.
The Politics Behind the Legal Lynching of Stanley Tookie Williams

PANW Editor's Note: The execution of Stanley Tookie Williams by the State of California on December 13, 2005 was a well planned and politically calculated action by the ruling elites in the United States. Despite the fact that the initial trial that convicted Williams was fraught with errors and constitutional violations, the court system refused to grant him a new trial.

The denial of clemency by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was based on his right wing politics and his close links with the Bush administration. Bush, who was the former governor of Texas, a state which has carried out more executions over the last three decades than any other within the country, is a staunch supporter of capital punishment. Bush put more people to death than any other governor in the United States.

Executing Williams provided the right wing with an opportunity to shore up its political base, which has been shaken by the failing fortunes of the Bush administration in relationship to the disastrous defeats in Iraq as well as the growing economic crisis throughout America. The response of Schwarzenegger to the request for clemency by Williams' legal team illustrates clearly his disdain for the liberation movements of African and oppressed peoples both in the United States and internationally. Towards the end of the five page document he cites Williams' dedication of his first book to revolutionary leaders within the African and indigenous world as the basis for his denial.

This document can be read in full by clicking on the URL below:
5-page PDF of the Governator's decision:

What was most striking about the denial was the section quoted below on pages 4 (bottom) to 5 (top):

"The dedication of Williams’ book “Life in Prison” casts significant doubt on his personal redemption. This book was published in 1998, several years after Williams’ claimed redemptive experience. Specifically, the book is dedicated to “Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Assata Shakur, Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt, Ramona Africa, John Africa, Leonard Peltier, Dhoruba Al-Mujahid, George Jackson, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and the countless other men, women, and youths who have to endure the hellish oppression of living behind bars.” The mix of individuals on this list is curious. Most have violent pasts and some have been convicted of committing heinous murders, including the killing of law enforcement.

"But the inclusion of George Jackson on this list defies reason and is a significant indicator that Williams is not reformed and that he still sees violence and lawlessness as a legitimate means to address societal problems."

Consequently, this was a deliberate act of murder commited before the eyes of the world and specifically targeted at the right wing to win their lagging support and the oppressed peoples of the United States and the world as a gesture of contempt, hatred and provocation.

However, the actions of Schwarzenegger and his political class has further exposed the true character of the ruling class in America. People have condemned this lynching throughout the United States and the world. It has galvanized a broad coalition in opposition to the racist death penalty and has intensified the debate over capital punishment and the genuine character of the American national security state.

Below is an article reprinted from the New York Times that addresses some aspects of the growing debate and political struggle over the antiquated usage of the death penalty, which has been outlawed by the European Union, the Republic of South Africa, Senegal and an ever increasing number of nations throughout the world.

Abayomi Azikiwe

December 14, 2005

Execution Ignites New Fire in Death Penalty Debate

New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 13 - As plans were under way to hold a large public funeral for Stanley Tookie Williams, the former gangster executed by lethal injection early Tuesday morning, and scatter his ashes in South Africa, his death was stirring fresh passion on both sides of the debate over capital punishment in California. There was also debate within the debate over what impact the execution would have, either on a spate of scheduled executions here or the broader question of where California was headed on the death penalty.

Critics of the death penalty, who, among others across the nation and around the world, helped lead one of the most highly publicized campaigns in decades to save a death row inmate's life, said Mr. Williams's execution had already galvanized public opposition to capital punishment. They said the execution would become a powerful tool in their fight to overturn the death penalty, or at least suspend executions in the state. It is possible that at least five death row inmates in California could be executed in the next year.

Of the five, only one, Clarence Ray Allen, 75, the oldest condemned prisoner in the state, has a scheduled execution date, Jan. 17.

"It was a profoundly sad day this morning when they killed Stanley Williams, a needless act of violence by the state that accomplishes nothing," said Lance G. Lindsey, executive director of Death Penalty Focus, one of the groups that rallied to Mr. Williams's cause. Mr. Lindsey said his group was hopeful that the publicity surrounding the Williams case would aid in the effort to have capital cases more closely scrutinized in California.

Most Californians support the death penalty, although those numbers have begun to decline in recent years, according to several polls. Mr. Williams, 51, a co-founder of the Crips gang of Los Angeles who was convicted of murdering four people in 1979, had become, to his supporters, an example of jailhouse redemption and a powerful critic of gang life, both from his cell and through his writings.

Mr. Williams, who was executed at 12:35 a.m. Tuesday at San Quentin State Prison, maintained his innocence and pursued a series of legal appeals, including a petition to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for clemency and another for a stay of his execution, until the final moments of his life. Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, cited Mr. Williams's refusal to admit to the murders as a reason he denied the request to commute his sentence to life in prison. To those who supported his execution, Mr. Williams was a remorseless, brutal killer responsible for starting a notorious gang now blamed for the death of perhaps thousands of people.

And advocates for the death penalty said they did not believe his case would hold special sway here with either the public or lawmakers considering a temporary moratorium on executions. "I can't see in what sense it would lend momentum," said Michael Rushford, president of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento.

He added that Mr. Williams's supporters, including the rap star Snoop Dogg, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, "picked the wrong guy" to show what was wrong with the death penalty. "It would be like picking Hitler for clemency," he said. "I don't know of a criminal enterprise that has caused more harm than the Crips. Timothy McVeigh didn't kill as many people as Tookie's gang did last year in Los Angeles itself."

But Barbara Becnel, a close friend and an editor of Mr. Williams's books who was arranging his funeral, said she would continue to try to prove his innocence. "For the people who opposed Stan," Ms. Becnel said, "they wanted to blame him directly for everything the Crips did. The Crips was a local gang, an L.A. gang, albeit a large one, when he was arrested in 1979. They arrest him and set him up and he never sees the light of day again and the gang becomes statewide, nationwide, worldwide."

Ms. Becnel added, "Is a dead man going to be responsible for everything that the Crips do from here on out?" She watched the execution, which took 36 minutes and 15 seconds, said reporters who witnessed it, longer than expected, as a nurse struggled for about 12 minutes to insert a needle into Mr. Williams's left arm. Ms. Becnel described the procedure as "an absolutely barbaric display of truly how cruel the punishment of the death penalty is."

"It took the staff at San Quentin 35 minutes to kill Stan," she said. "During the course of their bumbling, we watched him grimace in pain, we watched him finally reach a point of frustration, where you saw him lift his head up, and you could see he was saying, Can't you just do this?"

Ms. Becnel said she was arranging to have Mr. Williams's body flown to Los Angeles, where she said a funeral with an open coffin was being planned for Monday or Tuesday. She said Mr. Williams, who was visited by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at the prison in 1999, requested that he be buried under a yohimbe tree in South Africa or that his ashes be scattered over the "Blue Nile River, to feed the fishes and other organisms." She said she was making plans to scatter the ashes somewhere in South Africa, with a memorial there planned for sometime in January.

An aide to Ms. Mandela, the former wife of Nelson Mandela, told a South African newspaper, Beeld, on Tuesday that "she will keep her promise to ensure that Williams is buried in South Africa." Joe R. Hicks, a former board member of Death Penalty Focus, a San Francisco group that opposes the death penalty, who now supports capital punishment, said Mr. Williams deserved to die.

But Mr. Hicks, now the vice president of a conservative Los Angeles group, Community Advocates, said he believed that Mr. Williams's execution would touch off "an upsurge of anti- death-penalty work that may have some effect on upcoming campaigns to get rid of the death penalty in California." "There will be an increased frenzy around this," he said. "And it will all spin off the Tookie case."

Carolyn Marshall contributed reporting from San Francisco for this article.