Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Jericho Movement Response to the Arrest of Veteran Black Panther Party Members

Jericho Response to Arrest of Our Comrades

To all Jericho chapters, members and allies:

It is with urgency that we call on you to be alert right now in light of this latest assault on our movement coming from California and New York. By now you have heard the news that fascism has called for the arrest of at least eight (8) former members of the Black Panther Party, two of whom are already serving life sentences in New York state prisons. The incident occurred back in August 29, 1971, when, if I remember correctly, a unit of the Black Liberation Army attacked a precinct in San Francisco in retaliation for the assassination of Field Marshall George Jackson the week prior.

As with many actions of the BLA, large-scale corralling measures were taken and numerous folks, community revolutionaries and unaffiliated community folks were arrested and charged with criminal bs. Torture and other illegal but totally characteristic measures were used by local, state and federal forces to coerce “confessions” and manufacture evidence where there was none. But that's war, aint it? Revolutionaries held up through it then, as they do now, 35 years later. 35 years later? I am being facetious. The war never ended, good people. And neither has our response to their war on our revolutionaries still confined within their steel, concrete and electronic bowels. We say: FREE ALL P0LITICAL PRISONERS. WE ARE THE JERICHO AMNESTY MOVEMENT. Right on? RIGHT ON.

The names that we have so far of the arrested are:

Ray Michael Boudreaux, 64, of Altadena; Richard Brown, 65, of San Francisco; Herman Bell, 59, and Anthony Bottom, 55, both currently incarcerated in New York state; Henry Watson Jones, 71, of Altadena; Francisco Torres, 58, of Queens, New York; and Harold Taylor, 58, of Panama City, Fla.

There is even a mystery “suspect,” sort of like in the Sean Bell Mystery Fourth Man theory. They said he may be hiding out in Tanzania, Belize or France . We hope that the O'Neils in Tanzania and Donald Cox in France know what's going on and also be alert.

The mass rag sheets have given their jive poisoned descriptions of the BLA, but we say that the BLA is a people's army fighting the good fight and still determined to win. But folks will say that there is no longer a BLA, and I take pleasure in reminding folks with the words of Assata Shakur that there is and will always be a Black Liberation Army until Black folks are free. So, take that, local, state and federal forces of fascism. Long as we believe, and long as our young folks hip-hop and praise the name “Black Liberation Army,” the army is alive and well and in a safe place in our hearts surrounded by balagoonistic spirits, Sandra-Holmes spirits, etc. Hell, empire is raising the dead. Let's go to work!

Stay tuned to freedom archives, Jericho and other people's sites for more info. The best we can say now is that information is still coming in. We should prepare for two things: To be ever alert, and support activity for our comrades, even if on short notice. Right on? RIGHT ON.

What? What? Filiberto is that you, that whisper…

What? What? Nannie Prosser is that you, that whisper…

What? Merle. Geronimo. John Brown. Twyman…

Lawd, the empire in trouble!!!!!!!
Ashanti Alston
Proud to have been a POW out of the ranks of the BLA
Servant Co-Chair, National Jericho

PS – Folks, my co-chair comrade Kazi ain't been feeling too good. Send him a shout-out. Better yet, make him feel better by responding to our call-out for the National Meeting, ya'heard! Let's do this.

A new website can be found at
email sign up will make it possible to get news items about further developments.

These are links to a public speech given by Black Panther veteran Harold Taylor on January 19, 2007, at the University of Central Florida. Four days later, he was arrested by federal marshalls at his home in Panama City, FL. Each segment is a little over 8 minutes long.

Part 1:
Part 2:

For more background on the history of torture and harassment in this case, and the recent re-arrest of Harold as well as Richard Brown, Richard O'Neal, Ray Michael Boudreaux, Henry Watson Jones, Francisco Torres, click on the following links:

Please publicize the attacks on Harold and the other Black Panther veterans by passing this information on through your listserves, email address books, and other networks.
National Jericho Movement • P.O. Box 340084 • Jamaica, NY 11434


From this week's edition of the San Francisco Bay View:

Legacy of torture: the war against the Black Liberation Movement

Eight Black Panther veterans charged in 34-39-year-old cases based on torture

by Wanda Sabir

Last week when I was speaking to Richard Brown, who was enjoying his well-earned retirement, we spoke about his friend and comrade John Bowman, who’d been tortured back in 1973. Brown was looking forward to both the screening Sunday, Jan. 28, at 12 noon of “Legacy of Torture: The War Against the Black Liberation Movement” at the Roxie Cinema, 16th and Valencia, and the celebration of Bowman’s life at 3 p.m. at the Center for African American Art and Culture, 762 Fulton St. at Webster in San Francisco.

At the preview screening of the work-in-progress last October, Ray Boudreaux and Hank Jones were on the panel, and Richard Brown was in the audience. This Sunday they were all going to be at the theatre and the memorial. Now they are all in jail. But the show, said filmmaker Claude Marks of the Freedom Archives, will go on. The gathering, just a day after the protest against the war, is yet another opportunity to develop a plan for action. The war at home against liberated Africans is obviously still going strong.

When I saw the unedited cut of the film last year at East Side Cultural Center during the Black Panther Party’s 40th anniversary weekend, I was stunned at the audacity of this government to trample the rights of its citizens with impunity. Hadn’t they learned that even one’s enemy has rights?

Having assailed the Black Panther Party in 1968 as “the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States,” Federal Bureau of Investigation chief J. Edgar Hoover used any and all methods in the FBI’s arsenal to dismantle the operations of an organization developed to “serve the people.”

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was a youth movement. The five men profiled in the film – Ray Boudreaux, John Bowman, Richard Brown, Hank Jones and Harold Taylor – were in their 20s in 1971 when they were accused of killing a police officer in San Francisco’s Ingleside Station.

In 1973, 13 Panthers were captured in New Orleans. Several of them were subjected to the brutality of torture, including beatings, electric shocks with cattle prods, hot water-soaked blankets and plastic bag asphyxiation, many of the same forms of torture used at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

They captured Jalil Muntaqim and the now deceased Albert “Nuh” Washington in 1971 in San Francisco. Herman Bell was captured in New Orleans. Ruben Scott was tortured so badly in New Orleans that he made accusatory statements.

He later recanted and helped to expose the brutalities committed in New Orleans, but he appears to still be a government witness.

Fast forward to 2005: 34 years later each man is called before a state grand jury on the same charges. Of course, they all
refused to cooperate and were thrown in jail. They were later released when the grand jury expired Oct. 31, 2005. The men were warned that “it wasn’t over.” In June of 2006 they were served with a DNA subpoena during the early morning hours. Richard Brown said they swabbed the inside of his mouth.

There they were: FBI and policemen standing on the Panther veterans’ doorsteps – some of these officers the same men
who were present during their tortures in New Orleans. John Bowman, who died just last month, told attorney Soffiyah Elijah that he’d never had a good night’s sleep since. All the trauma came back.

When I asked Richard Brown if he was worried about the open-ended prosecution spread over 36 years now, he said: “I was named as a participant in 1971 in the murder case. All Panthers were targeted. If we were doing something constructive, we were singled out. They killed Bunchy Carter, arrested and imprisoned Geronimo. It was just our turn. We were next on the list.”

When asked where the case was now, Brown laughed. “As far as I’m concerned, they don’t have a case. They are going forward. They plan to indict us, convict us and sentence us. They’ve been telling us this for the past three years: ‘Don’t get comfortable, because we’re coming after you.’

“Thirty-six years if they had any kind of case, they would have arrested us by now. I haven’t been officially charged.”

“Yes, this case bothers or worries me because they never let the fact that they didn’t have a case stand in their way. They can come up with something tomorrow – evidence they found, people that have a hundred years’ sentence that they will let go home if they testify correctly. They can come up with this.

“They can just manufacture a case. They do that. If they want us, they can come up with something to take to the DA. It’s a different time now. They don’t want to go to trial with nothing, hoping that racism will pull them through.”

Tuesday, as the president was about to give his State of the Union address, these men, now know as the Grand Jury Resistors – Ray Michael Boudreaux, 64, of Altadena; Richard Brown, 65, of San Francisco; Harold Taylor, 58, of Panama City, Fla.; Harold Taylor, 58, of Panama City, Fla.; and Henry Watson Jones, 71, of Altadena; plus other former Panthers connected to the case by “new evidence,” were arrested all across the country and charged with conspiracy and the murder of the Ingleside policeman and a series of other unsolved cases from 1968 to 1973.

Also indicted are Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), 55, and Herman Bell, 59, former Black Panther Party members who are eligible for parole in New York, as well as Francisco Torres, 58, of New York City and Richard O’Neal, 57, of San Francisco. Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth, 62, was still being sought.

In 1971 people who remain unknown to this day raided the FBI offices in Media, Penn., and stole files exposing the Bureau’s illegal operations against Black revolutionary organizations like the Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam and other progressive organizations and movements. Detailed accounts of the systematic attack on Black leaders and Black organizations came out in public hearings hosted by Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho. This was the first public disclosure of the U.S. government’s Cointelpro (Counter Intelligence Program), and it forced the FBI to “agree” to dismantle this illegal activity.

“All these guys (arrested) are in their 50s and 60s and 70s. The (government) is sending a message to the young people: ‘Don’t even think about joining any liberation movement,’” said journalist Kiilu Nyasha, also a Black Panther veteran.

The Black Panther Party was formed to make Black communities safe from police brutality, yet the government aggression never ceased. Cointelpro intensified, government agents infiltrated the organization and created or encouraged internal differences to the point of using the dissent to destroy individuals and the effectiveness of the movement that the Party was building.

Richard Brown said that when he joined the Party, “he and his comrades didn’t expect to live,” so they didn’t fear death. At
22, he’d always been an advocate for Black people and knew then and now that through “unity we could do anything.”

“The village looked out for us,” he said. In “Legacy of Torture,” Brown said that he wasn’t going to help the government prosecute him because they disrupted his life hurt his family, cost his friends their reputations and even employment opportunities. “They are the guilty ones and they should be investigated, not the other way around. I’ve been contending with this for over 30 years.

“In light of what’s going on presently with the chief justice sanctioning our president’s use of evidence gotten through the
use of torture, that’s technically saying they can go back and take the evidence they obtained through torture, arrest us and convict us behind tainted information.” In the film the men spoke of how the New Orleans police told them to sign the statements that the agents wrote if they wanted the pain to stop.

Interview with Richard Brown

Wanda Sabir: When did you start traveling around the country on speaking tours about what happened?

Richard Brown: “We started talking about this when people didn’t believe the government was capable of doing something like this and, because it was primarily happening to Black people at that time, it was overlooked and not believed. We feel if the American public is educated, they will demand it stop. “I would like those guilty of torture brought up on charges. They said it was illegal way back in 1973 at the Church Commission when they found they’d violated the Panthers’ civil rights over 300 times: They were guilty of unconstitutional acts, guilty of torture, guilty of coercion, guilty of lying and passing false information to get people to lie on different folks, and manufacturing evidence, even to the point of assassination and murder. It happened to Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, Bunchy Carter. “It was all a part of that Cointelpro program they had to annihilate the Black Panther Party. We feel education is the best way to bring this to an end.”

WS: “Legacy of Torture” director Claude Marks said you hadn’t really talked about what happened to you prior to making this film. Given what you said, it was understandable, since no one believed your stories anyway.

RB: “Actually, when they broke us up, they literally broke the Party up. Many of us went to different parts of the country. I stayed in touch with most of them over the phone. Someone like John Bowman, who was a part of the family, he and I saw each other over the years, but we rarely spoke of the torture. “We went on with our lives and continued to serve the people the best that we could. I went off into community-based organizations to do as much as I could for my community and for my people. I just continued with the teachings and the principles that brought us to the Party. We honestly didn’t actually talk to each other before they came back for us in 2005 this crap all over again. We thought they’d finished back in the ‘80s.
“They just swooped on us all over the country one day and arrested us and tried to make us go before a grand jury and testify, and we decided independently of one another that we were not going to do that. We were all held in contempt of court and arrested, actually locked up. They took us away from family and spirited us around the country, and no one was able to communicate with us. “I was locked up for quite some time: six weeks. My attorney didn’t know where I was. They kept moving me around.”

WS: The right to a telephone call is not true?

RB: “They didn’t give me a phone call. People have to be approved beforehand to receive calls. My attorney wasn’t able to get through. What you have to do is contact them beforehand, pay a fee to get them on a so-called system. What you’d have to do is write them to contact the phone company and pay a fee so they could receive calls from the jailhouse. Not being able to get a letter out, I wasn’t able to tell them. “It was part of a technique to put more pressure on me.”
Brown has been a community activist his entire life. He worked for the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center in the Fillmore, the same area of San Francisco he grew up in. He worked at Ella Hill Hutch for almost 20 years in housing and employment, in criminal justice and as an advocate for the people in the community. He was able to continue “for Black people in the Fillmore what I was doing in the BPP serving the people.” He said of his friend Bowman: “John grew up in this area, also on McAllister Street. He touched a lot of people’s lives –an organizer, a warmhearted person everyone could relate to. He could educate and motivate. He was a great man.”

WS: Seems like all of you are great men – to be able to live through that. The reenactment in the film of the torture scenes, while not literal, is enough to make one imagine the horror and pain. It’s one thing to imagine it; it’s another thing to go through it. Sometimes it’s not physical but psychological. People have been going through psychological and physical torture ever since slavery. When that was happening to you, did you think you’d live though it?

RB: “I didn’t actually get tortured there in New Orleans at that time. Three of us were tortured: John Bowman, Ruben Scott and Harold Taylor. They arrested me and I was about to be taken to New Orleans, but (the case) was thrown out of court when the evidence acquired through torture was found inadmissible. “I was fortunate that time. The greatest torture is psychological torture. But I’ve been beaten while handcuffed. That’s so common for Black folks I don’t even call that torture. It’s the MO for police to deal with Black people in that manner. When they focus on you and try to break you, that’s a torture tactic. Police jumping on you while you are handcuffed and outnumbered was ordinary, even typical behavior.”

WS: Obviously it didn’t stop you from doing the work. How does one, given the legacy of torture and the potential for it to reoccur, continue to serve the people? It seems like you’d be terrified of the
harassment, knowing that if you continued they could come after you. Anytime you could get assaulted or killed.

RB: “During the time the Black Panther Party was started and we saw the oppression of our people coming down on us, nearly everyone decided we were in it for the long run. None of us expected to live. That’s an unfortunate thing to say, yet, given the time, none of us saw an actual future. Once you make up your mind that you are going to go forward regardless – you do. No matter what they did to us, we were determined not to stop. “I wasn’t actually doing anything except serving the people.”

WS: How old were you when you joined the BPP?

RB: “I was a little older, at 22. The average age was 17 or 18. They were very young people, some as young as 15 to 16. I found out about it on the news coverage of Oakland. “I was doing things in San Francisco – not to the extent of the BPP, but I love Black people, I love my community and I continue to care about people. My level of consciousness was pretty high, so when the Panther Party came along with the kind of spirit I had, the kind of nature I had, it was a perfect vehicle. So we started the Black Panther Party in San

WS: You started it?

RB: “Actually, I was there. Dexter and some other people started it.”

WS: I grew up in San Francisco a member of the Nation of Islam. The mosque was on Fillmore and Geary.

RB: “We had several offices on Fillmore Street, on Ellis and Eddy. We’d see a bigger space and move. We were all over Fillmore.”

WS: Did the Panther Party and Nation do any organizing around any issues?

RB: “Not politically. There was an overlap. We supported each other.”

WS: I found that out at the 40th anniversary. A lot of people I knew in the Nation were former Panthers. You said you loved Black people. I presume you were raised in a home that was African centered?

RB: “Yeah, to a certain extent. I was raised by a single mother, as my father was killed when I was 4 years old. I had a lot of help from the community. I had uncles who took the place of my father. Back then, there was a community. The village looked out for all of us and helped raise all of us. “Because of that, because I grew up in an environment where people cared about one another, I grew up to care about people also. Growing up in a Black community, it was natural I’d grow up caring about Black people. That’s the way I see
it: unity and love for Black people. “I grew up in a different time. I know who we truly are, what we are capable of and what we have accomplished. To see what’s going on nowadays kind of hurts me. The violence that’s going on, particularly with the youth, that’s really
disturbing. I do all I can to try to put an end to that, to let them know that that is not who we are or where we should be headed.”

WS: Do you think the violence is a symptom of something larger?

RB: “Of course. It’s a symptom of racism and slavery. We’ve been conditioned to not unite, to not love one another. They took our culture, our language, our religions, everything. Employment, the lack of employment, the educational system the young people have to put up with, the bombardment with media violence: the movies that they watch, the music that they listen to it’s all a part of the problems that youth grow up with. “It will turn around and go forward again.”

WS: What are the lessons that have come out of the prolonged harassment with the government? What are the lessons
you’d like to share with someone doing political organizing work for African or Black liberation?

RB: “We all get tired. You get exhausted, yet you can’t give up. You will be successful. If I die tomorrow, as far as I’m concerned I have been very successful serving my people with my comrades over the years.”

WS: When you look at the legacy of Cointelpro, which now is called Homeland Security, and the laws have been codified under the USA Patriot Act I and II, how, with Cointelpro, the letters, the tapped phone calls, the infiltration creating an environment where people couldn’t trust each other and black folks were already having trouble trusting each other –

RB: “Conditioned not to trust each other.”

WS: Yes, exactly right – coming over on those slave ships. My question is how do you establish trust, maintain trust, in light of a situation where we know this government does not want African people to come together. What can you do to establish trust, or do you just do your good work and don’t worry about it?

RB: “Do your good work and don’t worry about it. The Black Panther Party started out with just a few people. San Francisco was a small operation. Sometimes you have to just start with yourself and people see what you are doing, and once they trust you, you build from there.

“It’s very hard to get Black people to do anything together and to stay together for a long time, but it can be done. The Panther Party proved that it can be done. Other organizations have proven that. You don’t have to be my blood brother; you can be my extended family.

“We have the foundation to be able to overcome the barrier of not being able to trust each other. Somehow over the years Black people have somehow overcome, worked together and made progress. In our time, we have to pull it together and go forward in order to not die here.”

Interview with Claude Marks

Director Claude Marks says his film, “Legacy of Torture,” examines the increasing legislative legitimacy over the past 30 years that gives the United States the right to torture people.

“We saw last year in the contested public space between Bush and other forces when they chose essentially to carve out a space for themselves to redefine what torture was, so that water boarding is considered harsh treatment but (is now) a legitimate form of interrogation, and that’s only one example,” he said.

“Of course, the U.S. government, some of that – you can tell what kind of pressure they are under with Abu Ghraib, with Guantanamo. I think what the film tries to do is to say that this type of physical abuse and violation of people’s human rights has been happening in the United States all along, particularly in prisons, with the retaking of Attica very substantially documented – the level of torture and treatment of people, including targeted assassinations of some of the leaders of that prison rebellion that took place in 1971 in New York.

“It’s also true that these people in this film, former members of the Black Panther Party, when they were arrested, were tortured.
This set of government violence against the Black Movement takes place in the context of Cointelpro and attempted to wipe out the leadership of the part of the Black Movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s that most challenged the legitimacy of the US government’s racism, repression and segregation as well as its role conducting wars in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

“This is one of the reasons why Cointelpro functioned in such a targeted or focused way, because they defined the Panthers, in particular, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, as the single largest threat to the U.S. government.

“The Black Panther Party was revolutionary and it in fact challenged a lot of people’s notions about what the U.S. could be, should be. And (the BPP) revealed and unmasked that level of internal oppression and apartheid that takes place within these borders and has (taken place) historically.

“The film tries to say this has never ended. As a reporter in the mid-’70s, I was part of breaking the story of what happened in New Orleans in 1973 (when the Panthers were arrested and tortured).

“I interviewed the men brought to San Francisco in 1974. What we did was to air on KPFA that some of the Panthers arrested were subjected to incredibly violent, tortuous treatment.

“And in 1975 some of the cases that were put together by the San Francisco police and federal government against former Panthers were thrown out because at that time, testimony and statements arrived at through torture could never stand up in our legal system. Now that’s changed, and this is what we try to point out in the film, that the government is trying to make torture more acceptable.

“I’m convinced that’s why the state attorney general’s office and the federal government felt that they could come to the doors of these former Panthers, the same officers in some cases who were present for the torture in New Orleans, come to their doors some 30-odd years later and say, ‘Remember me?

We’re going to do this again.’

“That’s pretty hard to wrap my mind around: to go to your door and see the man who tortured you in your youth telling you you are going to go through this again because the terrain is somewhat different under the Patriot Act and the laws have changed. The courts are more reluctant to sanction the government’s abuse of human rights and civil rights, and so to me that’s what the film tries to talk about.

“The point it tries to unmask is the consistent nature of this kind of extra-legal behavior on the part of the U.S. government and its agents, despite the Church hearings in 1972 and the supposed dismantling of Cointelpro,” Marks concludes.

“The Legacy of Torture” moves between interviews with the men and interpretive reenactments of the torture scenes, which were just as jarring and upsetting as if we could see the face of the actor or hear the cries. The film is a meditation on what can happen in a democracy when its caretakers are left to their own devices. Freedom once again a commodity up for grabs as soon as one stops guarding it.

“We have this unique insight from people who have experienced these events, who are willing to step forward and try to get people to understand that it’s up to us and the kind of movement we build to force the United States to be accountable for this illegal, inhumane behavior, because the courts and government infrastructure and the elected officials are either unwilling or unable,” Marks said.

“Legacy of Torture” is a visceral experience and a wake up call. For information on the screening or the memorial, sponsored by Freedom Archives and the New College Media Studies Master’s Program, call (415) 863-9977.

Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at or The addresses for
sending words of encouragement to the two Panther veterans at the San Francisco County Jail are Richard O’Neal, 2300818,
850 Bryant, 6th Floor, San Francisco CA 94103, and Richard Brown, 2300819, 850 Bryant, 7th Floor, San Francisco CA 94103.

San Francisco Bay View
4917 Third St.
San Francisco CA 94124
(415) 671-0789 (badly hacked but coming back - soon)

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
News mailing list

Chinese Leader on Another African Tour


9:19 MECCA TIME, 6:19 GMT

Hu's Africa visit fuels controversy

China's president heads to Africa on Tuesday on a trip aimed at enhancing existing ties and expanding its influence across the continent.

But Hu Jintao's visit to the continent - his third in as many years - is surrounded by growing scepticism over the Asian giant's role in Africa.

China has been criticised for putting profits above people's lives, particularly in Sudan where it has been accused of ignoring human rights abuses to secure oil for its burgeoning economy.

But China says Hu's 12-day tour with eight scheduled stops will boost peace and stability in the region.

Zhai Jun, China's assistant foreign minister, said that besides boosting bilateral ties, Hu would be looking to broker peace in the war-torn Darfur region.

"With Sudan, we have co-operation in many aspects, including military co-operation. In this, we have nothing to hide," he said before Hu's trip.

China has been accused of fuelling violence in some African countries by providing military and economic support.

The Chinese leader will also sign a series of economic deals during his visit.

"I don't know whether they will include energy agreements, but I can say the energy co-operation between China and Sudan is very successful … if we have any energy agreements I think it is only natural," said Zhai.

Half of Sudan's daily oil production is exported to China, according to Sudanese figures, with total trade between the two topping $2.9 bn last year.

China's overtures to Africa include billions of dollars in aid and debt relief.

Last year, China announced $10 bn in assistance for the period 2006 to 2009.

Shi Yinhong, an international relations expert at People's University in Beijing, expects Hu to urge Sudan to allow United Nations peacekeepers into Darfur.

"[He] wants to persuade Sudan to not reject the UN resolution and to co-operate with the UN.

This will bring moral and diplomatic pressure on Sudan and also help China’s ties with the US, the European Union and greater Africa."

Lawrence Rossin, of the US-based Save Darfur Coalition, said China's leaders would have to make a decision about Sudan.

"Either their quiet diplomacy is working... or they're going to have to realise that [Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, is] stiffing them, too.

"And I don't think a country like China should take 'no' for an answer," Rossin said.

Soaring business

Trade between China and Africa has soared fourfold this decade, totalling $40 bn in 2005.

Francis Kornegay, an analyst at the Centre for Policy Studies in Johannesburg, said China offered African countries a "countervailing force to US hegemony" by offering aid with fewer strings attached.

Hu's trip, which includes visits to Cameroon, Namibia, Mozambique and the Seychelles, will focus on further boosting trade and following through on the promises of aid, including debt-relief and moves to alleviate poverty.

China's spreading influence across Africa has also seen increased resistance and disputes.

In South Africa last month, trade unions have complained that Chinese textile imports were devastating the domestic industry.

Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, said that Africa needed to guard against allowing Chinese relations to develop into a "colonial relationship".

Western colonisers were accused of taking the continent's natural resources without improving their lives.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Detroit: MECAWI to Honor International Day of Solidarity With Haiti, February 7

Actions in 15 countries and 4 continents planned for Feb.7th

35 Cities Join International Day in Solidarity with Haiti
PANW Editor's Note: In Detroit the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) has dedicated its weekly meeting in solidarity with the Haitian people. The meeting will feature a brief video clip and discussion on the struggle of the Haitian masses for genuine democracy. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 7 at 7:00 p.m. at the MECAWI office located at 5922 Second Avenue near Antoinette. Admission is free and open to the public.

So far 35 cities -- in South Africa, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and North America -- have joined hands in the February 7th International Day in Solidarity with the Haitian People. They are answering the call of the popular movement in Haiti, which is mobilizing people for February 7, as they have been continually since the February 29, 2004 coup d'etat.

From street demonstrations and marches to vigils, film showings and public meetings, people in 15 countries (so far!) are uniting around the 6 demands and the central theme: Stop the War Against the People of Haiti -- End the Foreign Military Occupation -- Respect Haiti's Sovereignty!

Protests are being organized in Brazil, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, the US and Canada -- countries that provide troops for the UN military force in Haiti -- as well as in South Africa, Ireland, England, Mexico, Guyana, Venezuela and the Caribbean. Cities with large Haitian communities in the US and Canada will be mobilizing. New York will see a Haiti solidarity demonstration at United Nations headquarters on Feb. 7th. San Francisco and Los Angeles will target the consulate of Brazil, whose UN military commander in Haiti is responsible for the massacres and the almost daily, heavy-caliber attacks on the men, women and children who live in Cite Soleil..

This is a critical moment for Haiti. Repression is intensifying, but the people's resistance continues strong. Our practical solidarity can play a key part in this life-or-death struggle.

Here is what you can do:

1. Organize an activity for Haiti on or around Wednesday, Febuary 7 in your city or town.
2. Let us know now what you are planning -- date, time, location, type of activity, contact information -- so we can build the campaign. [Call +1-510-847-8657 or email]. After your event, please call or email us a report immediately so we can publicize each city's protest activity while the news is still fresh.
3. Circulate key documents [sent separately]:
a. The "Call to Action - International Day in Solidarity with the Haitian People - Coordinated International Protests on Feb. 7, 2007." In English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
b. Sept. 30th Foundation Declaration: "No to Occupation -- No to Trusteeship" - in Kreyol and English. And recent article: "The Coup d'Etat Continues" - in French.
c. Reports on the December 22 "Christmas massacre" in Cite Soleil; on the role of the UN since the Feb. 29, 2004 coup; and on the current situation in Haiti.

Thank you, brothers and sisters.

The February 7th Organizing Committee

A Call to Action – Join the International Day in Solidarity with the Haitian People
Coordinated International Protests
on February 7, 2007

*** End the Foreign Military Occupation of Haiti!
*** Stop the War against the People of Haiti!
*** Respect Haiti's Sovereignty!

Dear Activists for Haiti,

The United Nations forces in Haiti (MINUSTAH) – backed to the hilt by the US, France and Canada – are continuing their bloody assault on the poor majority, targeting especially leaders and supporters of the Lavalas grassroots democracy movement.

On December 22, 2006, some 400 UN troops conducted another day-long raid in Bois Neuf, Cite Soleil – an operation on the scale of the July 6, 2005 UN massacre in the same neighborhood – with many civilian residents dead and wounded. Since the "Christmas massacre," UN forces have repeatedly raided Cite Soleil shooting off their weapons.

In response, Fondasyon Trant Septanm, an 11-year-old organization of victims of the 1991 and 2004 coups d'etat in Haiti, has issued a call for renewed protests in many cities of the world on February 7, 2007. This is the anniversary of the overthrow of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986. Haiti will be demonstrating on that day – so should we!

The February 7th call is supported by representatives of these grassroots organizations in Haiti: + Comite de Defense des Droits du Peuple Haitien (Committee in Defense of the Rights of the Haitian People) + Confederation des Travailleurs Haitiens (Confederation of Haitian Workers) + Femmes Victimes Debout (Women Victims Stand Up) + Collectif des Parents et Amis des Prisonniers Politiques (Collective of Relatives and Friends of Political Prisoners) + Coordination Nationale des Organisations de Droits Humains (National Coordination of Human Rights Organizations).

The February 7th International Day is part of a campaign against the US/UN Occupation by the popular movement in Haiti, leading up to February 15th when the UN Security Council is due to renew its Haiti mandate.

We need to act now in solidarity with our Haitian sisters and brothers, whose unbreakable spirit, in the face of severe repression, just won’t stop.

Building on the 2005 international demonstrations for Haiti

The July 6th massacre by UN troops in Cite Soleil sparked an international campaign, culminating in a day of solidarity actions in 15 cities and five countries on July 21, 2005. The campaign succeeded in breaking through the media blockade, exposing the massacre.

This was followed by the first International Day in Solidarity with Haiti on September 30, 2005, when coordinated actions in 47 cities in 17 countries on 4 continents condemned the bloody US/UN occupation and demanded that Haiti's sovereignty and democracy be respected.

Today, violent repression continues against grassroots activists and communities – by UN forces and paramilitary death squads [like the Little Machete Army] created by the Haitian National Police. We're talking not only about killings, but sexual abuse, beatings, house burnings, arbitrary arrests, and the prolonged, illegal detention of people without any charges. UN forces have been repeatedly implicated in these activities.

Our call is for each city to organize its own Haiti solidarity activity on or around Wednesday, February 7, 2007 – to be coordinated as a single worldwide mobilization.

It could be a march, rally, public meeting, vigil, house meeting or civil disobedience – whatever you are able to do – in support of the following demands:

End the brutal US/UN Occupation – Respect Haiti’s sovereignty
Stop the killings, sexual abuse and massacres of the poor by UN troops, police and paramilitaries under police control
Free the political prisoners – No more illegal arrests & detentions
President Aristide must be free to return to Haiti – Respect the Haitian Constitution
Launch an independent inquiry into the February 29, 2004 coup and forced removal of President Aristide
Perpetrators of the coup and massacres of the poor must be brought to justice – Reparations for the victims

Join us in this important mobilization. Let us know by phone or email what solidarity activity you are organizing for on or around February 7th, so we can build the campaign. Use your contacts in other cities and countries to spread this movement.

For the February 7, 2007 International Day of Solidarity with the People of Haiti,

Lavarice Gaudin, Veye Yo
Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, Fondasyon Trant Septanm
Margaret Prescod, Global Women's Strike
Dave Welsh, US Labor/Human Rights Delegation to Haiti

Contact the Feb. 7th Organizing Committee at 510-847-8657 or

MECAWI Calls for Demonstration Outside the 'State of the State' Address in Michigan

For Immediate Release

Media Advisory
Monday, January 29, 2007

Event: Demonstrate at State of the State Address
Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2007
6:00 p.m. at the
State Capitol, Lansing

Contact: Michigan Emergency Committee
Against War & Injustice
Tel. (313) 680-5508


The Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice (MECAWI) is calling for a demonstration at the State Capitol steps during Governor Granholm’s State of the State address on February 6.

At a time when Michigan continues to lose jobs, when foreclosures here are the highest in the nation, when schools are closing, when hunger and homelessness have not been addressed – the Governor continues to mouth optimism without offering real solutions to the daily suffering of the people.

But Michigan’s constitution and laws require the Governor to use her power to declare a state of emergency for economic as well as natural disasters. Under these laws the Governor can stop foreclosures and evictions, end and reverse utility shut-offs and take other action as needed to ensure the health and safety of the people of Michigan. This has been done before and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court!

While we are fighting to get Congress to stop all funds to the Iraq war and use that money right here at home, we can and must demand that the Governor stop the economic disaster afflicting our state by using her emergency powers. We must demand that the Governor place a Moratorium on plant closings and lay-offs, school closings, foreclosures and evictions, utility shut-offs and more!

We urge all other peace and social justice groups around the state to join us at the State Capitol for the protest. For transportation from Detroit (leaving 4:00 p.m. on Feb. 6)-either car caravans or a bus – call 313-680-5508. Let us know if you plan to go.


Southeast Michigan Public Speak-Out to Tell Congress:
“Not a Penny More for the War!”

Saturday, February 17 at 1:00 p.m.
Central United Methodist Church (2nd floor)
Woodward at East Adams, downtown Detroit

For more information on either activity, call (313) 680-5508 or visit

Monday, January 29, 2007

Millions at Stake in Rosa Parks Estate

Millions at stake in name of Parks

Estate fight treads fine line in mixing marketing, legacy

January 29, 2007

The ongoing battle over Rosa Parks' estate set to play out in a Wayne County courtroom next month will have more to do with the marketing rights to her likeness and image than any money the civil rights icon left when she died.

Even if Parks' estate isn't worth the millions some have claimed, experts say, her name and image could be worth millions for decades to come.

"Maybe tens of millions," said Charles L. Sharp, a marketing professor at the University of Louisville, noting that former boxing great Muhammad Ali last year sold most of the rights to his name and likeness for $50 million to be used on such products as snack food.

Parks died in October 2005, leaving virtually all of her assets to the nonprofit Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, which she founded in 1987 with her longtime friend and caregiver, Elaine Steele. It encourages young people to reach their potential through education.

Steele, who has served as an officer of the institute, was granted power of attorney over Parks in 1998, the same year Parks' will was signed.

Since her death, Parks' likeness has appeared in national Chevrolet and Apple Computer ads. Not to mention the souvenirs and other memorabilia being sold around metro Detroit and over the Internet.

Parks' only family, 13 nieces and nephews, contested their aunt's will in November 2005, claiming that Steele bamboozled Parks, who suffered from dementia, into signing a will that cut them out of any decision-making about how Parks' likeness would be used and any profit from the licensing of her name and image.

The case goes to trial Feb. 19 before a six-member jury in Wayne County Probate Court.

Civil rights activists and others will closely watch the outcome because it could determine how the country ultimately remembers one of its greatest heroes of the struggle for racial equality.

"If this can happen to someone of her stature, then it can happen to anyone," said nephew William McCauley, 48, of Detroit, who serves as the family spokesman. "We just believe that our aunt was taken advantage of. ... The way her will read, she didn't care about her family, and that couldn't be farther from the truth."

Steele could not be reached for comment. But her lawyer, Anthony Paganelli of Indianapolis, denied that Steele ever took advantage of Parks.

Parks and Silverado commercial

Parks sparked the modern civil rights movement in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955, when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. She joins Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X among the few deceased African-American icons who command respect -- and potential profit.

Parks' nieces and nephews say her likeness and image in the wrong hands would be detrimental to her legacy.

In the past, Steele has said her goal always has been to protect Park's image and legacy.

Since the case began, Lawrence Pepper and Frederick Toca Jr. of Farmington Hills, lawyers for Parks' nieces and nephews, said Steele has refused to answer questions about the estate, repeatedly dodged depositions and failed to make a full accounting about the institute's activities.

Worse, they said, the institute contracted with CMG Worldwide of Indianapolis to market Parks' name. They said they learned of the deal when Parks' relatives saw a TV ad last fall for Chevy Silverado trucks featuring a famous photo of her on a Montgomery bus.

Paganelli confirmed the deal with CMG.

Wayne County Probate Judge Freddie Burton Jr. issued a temporary restraining order in October 2006 barring the institute from contracting with anyone to market Parks' name, likeness, image or other intellectual property. He also ordered the institute to turn the proceeds of any such arrangement over to the estate's court-appointed trustees.

McCauley said the ad detracted from Parks' legacy, calling it "another form of disrespect toward her family. This is what we're battling for."

The keeping of keepsakes

The day after Burton issued the restraining order, he directed a New York auction house to catalog all of Parks' belongings at the institute's offices and her riverfront condominium. He did so after learning one of Parks' prized possessions -- a Congressional Gold Medal -- had disappeared.

Steele later produced the medal, saying she found it on a shelf at Parks' home on Wildemere, which doubles as one of the institute's offices.

Parks family attorneys said many of her historic, irreplaceable and valuable articles -- honorary degrees, photos with presidents, documents and photos from the movement and the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- were in danger of being lost, stolen or damaged because of Steele's negligence.

In fact, officials from the auction house, Guernsey's, documented in a letter to lawyers that some photos and documents had been kept in deplorable condition and had water and mold damage.

"Thank goodness the court stepped in just in the nick of time," Toca said. "If not, a large part of Rosa Parks' history would have disappeared during the night."

Paganelli took exception to the comments by Parks' relatives and their lawyers.

"We disagree with those characterizations ... and are disappointed opposing counsel would make such statements about Mrs. Steele on the eve of trial," he said.

The lawyers won't divulge what Parks' estate is worth. But a document the Free Press obtained shows that in September 2006, the court-appointed trustees told Burton that there was $145,013 in a bank account and $227,611 in an escrow account from the settlement of her lawsuit resulting from the unauthorized use of her name by the hip-hop duo OutKast.

Probate court experts say battles like this one often come down to money.

"People fight for principle, but you have to ask them, if there was no money would they still invest in litigation," said Alan May, a Detroit probate lawyer. "If either side wins, I don't think they're going to decline their share of the money."


Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Revolution & Cultural Problems in Cuba

In light of the recent discussions of media policy, censorship and
the debates recently taking place on these themes in Cuba, where
Fidel Castro's famous discussion, WORDS TO THE INTELLECTUAL has been regularly referred to as a policy reference point, readers here may wish to review those notable remarks. I must say in reading them, they are reminiscent of themes Fidel has also been speaking about in the past two years on a number of occasions.

This intro has not been made available online to my knowledge and
the Guillen speech was particularly interesting as it takes up some
of Cuba's complex racial issues along with the independence struggle, which was at the core of all of the talks in the pamphlet.

Walter Lippmann

The Revolution and Cultural Problems in Cuba

Republic of Cuba
Ministry of Foreign Relations
1962: Year of Planning

Forward scanned by Walter Lippmann, January 2007

This unsigned forward comes from the 1962 Cuban pamphlet published by the Ministry of Foreign Relations. The pamphlet also contained speeches to same conference by the poet Nicolas Guillen, who was also president of the Cuban Union of Artists and Writers (UNEAC) and President Oswaldo Dorticos Torrado. I hope to get them scanned and posted soon.


The general adherence of all classes in our country to the
revolutionary movement which triumphed on the first of January, 1959. was followed, along with its radicalization and its measures on
behalf of the common people, by first vacillation, then retreat, and
lastly frank repudiation of the Revolution by those who up to then
had enjoyed special privileges. The attitude of the intellectuals who
represented the official culture of previous periods, the culture of
the classes affected by the Revolution, was in keeping with the
attitude of their patrons. These pseudo-intellectuals had a defined
position: they were against the Revolution.

On another side, regarding the Revolution from another point of view,
were the intellectuals who were loyal to it. However, even many of
these honest revolutionaries, enthusiastic workers, men of working
and middle class backgrounds, found that the march of the Revolution, that unfamiliar and rapid march animated by an unsurpassed, constructive rhythm, that tide that swiftly wrote in or erased names, institutions, events, moved only by social justice, that growing wave amazed them, and, in a certain sense, awoke certain fears in them.

When Dr. Fidel Castro, meeting with the writers and artists on the
eve of their First Congress, referred to the Yenan Forum, he revealed
the nature of the cultural problems, in our country.

In the famous Yenan Forum in 1942, Mao Tse-tung could, in the midst of a bloody war of yet unforeseeable results, orient the honest
intellectuals to participate along with men of other classes, the
workers and peasants, in the construction of a new society in China.

In Cuba, when the Revolution began its work, that clear, firm
orientation was lacking, But the Revolution itself proved to be an
exceptional school. Therefore, conscious of the need for all
sympathizers with the Revolution to participate in its work, on
November 19, 1960, the most advanced of the Cuban artists and writers issued a manifesto -- "Towards A National Culture Serving the Revolution". that only a few months later would be regarded as
historic. Its publication marked the beginning of the enthusiastic
work of artists and writers to unite, to take a position, to play a
specific role in the revolutionary process.

The publication of the manifesto was very timely. Events that filled
us with great hopes but that marked directions fraught with
difficulties and obstacles for our Revolution, obliged us all to
formulate clear, unmistakable definitions. The promulgation of the
First Declaration of Havana shortly before by the people of Cuba,
gathered in a National General Assembly, and the adoption of measures such as the nationalization of large foreign and domestically owned companies in Cuba, marked steps of unprecedented importance for the Revolution. It was the exact moment to either state adherence to the cause of the workers and farmers or to rise against them. The Cuban writers and artists formulated an unmistakable declaration. In the November document they proclaimed their irrevocable commitment to the Revolution and to the people.

In the introduction to the statement of their points of view and the
formulation of their immediate program, the writers and artists
considered it their first duty to state their public creative
responsibility to the Revolution and the Cuban people, "in a period,"
they proclaimed, "of united struggle to achieve the complete
independence of our country as a nation." They declared that "the
victory of the Revolution has created among us the essential
conditions for the development of national culture, a liberating
culture, capable of encouraging revolutionary progress."

In accordance with the above premises and the fact that "the unity of
purpose of contemporary Cuban intellectuals is obvious in their works as well as in their of efforts to spread culture among the people throughout the revolutionary period and during the years of struggle that preceded it," the intellectual clearly defined their
revolutionary position.

The immediate program set forth by the writers and artists was in
keeping with these declarations. They stated, as the first point,
that they aspired to the "recovery and development of our cultural
tradition, which is rich in human content and was wrested away from
our people by the colonialists and the imperialists." The second
point of the program was to "preserve, encourage, purify and utilize
our folklore, spiritual wealth of the Cuban people, which the
Revolution is liberating and reevaluating." They added that they
"consider sincere and honest criticism indispensable to the work of
artists and intellectuals," and that they "should try to achieve full
identification between the character of our works and the needs of
our advancing revolution.

The purpose is to bring the people close to the intellectual and the intellectual close to the people, which does not necessarily imply that the artistic quality of our work must thereby suffer." The declaration pointed out, concerning Latin America, that "exchange, contact, and cooperation among Latin American writers. intellectuals and artists are vital for the destiny of our America." And from a still more far-reaching point of view, "Mankind is one. national heritage is part of world culture, and world culture contributes to our national aspirations."

On the basis of these ideas, the preparatory work of he First
National Congress of Writers and Artists began. But the mobilization
in January, 1961, when aggression by imperialism seemed imminent, took many intellectuals to the trenches; the mobilization, and later the aggression itself, with its historic defeat at Playa Giron,
forced the postponement of this great assembly. But the Revolution
advanced constantly. On April 16, the Prime Minister, Dr. Fidel
Castro, proclaimed the socialist character of our Revolution.

The new orientations called for new meetings to be held previous to
the Congress. Dr. Fidel Castro, accompanied by high figures of the
Revolutionary Government, met with. the intellectuals and dealt with
their problems. Many questions dealing with cultural activity were
discussed on June 16, 23, and 30, in the auditorium of the National
Library; there the Prime Minister dispelled fears and clarified the
Revolution's policy in regard to culture and intellectuals.

Thus, with the assurance that artistic freedom was guaranteed
absolutely and totally, the Congress opened on August 18, anniversary of the death of Federico Garcia Lorca. The motto adopted for the Congress proclaimed: "To Defend the Revolution is to Defend Culture." The agenda was based on the program set forth in the November Declaration.

On the opening night, the President of the Republic, Dr. Osvaldo
Dorticos Torrado, spoke about the road that the delegates to the
Congress must take. "Artists and writers must go to the people .—,not descending, but ascending to them. . . in the people is to be found the source of future works, the daily inspiration and the supreme inspiration.. And to the people the literary or artistic products must finally return: a return of the treasures which the people give in the artists every day."

On the morning of August 19th, poet Nicolas Guillén took a journey
through Cuban history, from which he returned asking the artists and
writers to create a "socialist, humanist culture that will give the
ordinary man in the street everything that was denied him by the
Colony in the 19th century and monopolized by an exclusive sector of
the ruling class of that society... a culture that will liberate and
exalt us and distribute both bread and roses without shame or fear".

The publication in this book of Fidel's words to the intellectuals
and the speeches by Dorticós and Guillen will enable English-speaking friends of Cuba throughout the world to form a clear idea of the spirit with which the Revolution is tackling the problem off culture.
Without exception, the only condition that of being unequivocally on
the side of the people, the Cuban Revolution protects the rights of
creators, of scientists, of intellectuals. Even more, it stimulates
their work and opens new horizons to them. With a better world in
view, writers and artists, side by side with the people of whom they
are a part, are helping to build the society of the future


State Torture & The Black Liberation Movement: Former Panthers Indicted in 35-Year-Old Case

Murder Charges Against Former Black Panthers Based on Confessions Extracted by Torture

Friday, January 26th, 2007

Police in California, New York and Florida arrested eight former Black Panthers earlier this week on charges related to the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police officer. Charges were thrown out in 1974 after it was revealed police used torture to extract confessions in the case. We speak with two of the defendants’ attorneys. [includes rush transcript]
Police in California, New York and Florida arrested eight former Black Panthers earlier this week on charges related to the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police officer. Richard Brown, Richard O’Neal, Ray Boudreaux and Henry Watson Jones were arrested in California. Francisco Torres was arrested in Queens New York. Harold Taylor was arrested in Florida. Two men already in jail-- Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim -- were also charged. A ninth man -- Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth – is still being sought. The men were charged with the murder of Sgt. John Young and conspiracy to commit murder for a string of attacks on other officers.

Harold Taylor and two other men were first charged with the murder of the police sergeant in 1975. But a judge tossed out the charges. Taylor and his two co-defendants said they made false confessions after police in New Orleans tortured them.

Joining me now are two attorneys involved in this case:

Michael Warren. Attorney for Francisco Torres who was arrested on Tuesday.

Stuart Hanlon. California-based attorney representing Herman Bell. He also worked for 25 years on the case of Black Panther leader Geronimo Pratt.

Excerpt of the new documentary Legacy of Torture: The War Against the Black Liberation Movement. Produced by the Freedom Archives.


AMY GOODMAN: Joining me now are two attorneys who are involved in this case. Stuart Hanlon is in San Francisco. Michael Warren is with me here in New York. Stuart Hanlon represents Herman Bell, and Michael Warren represents Francisco Torres. Michael Warren, let’s start with this latest news of the arrests.

MICHAEL WARREN: Yes. Mr. Torres was arrested at the first part of this week at his home in Queens and taken to court -- actually he was taken initially to the 1 Police Plaza, then taken to court, where he appeared on an extradition warrant -- the initial stages of an extradition warrant hearing. Extradition was not waived. We are fighting extradition, and we are now awaiting a governor's warrant, which is supposed to be produced by the state of California. The case has been adjourned to March 6 for the production of the governor's warrant.

AMY GOODMAN: Stuart Hanlon, the background on this case? I mean, we’re talking about a police killing in 1971. This is well over 30 years later.

STUART HANLON: Well, the background pretty much is, the case occurred -- you know, it was a pretty awful crime. It was the assassination of a policeman who was sitting in a station. But the point was they didn't have any evidence, and they investigated and they tortured witnesses in New Orleans. They tortured defendants, and cases were thrown out because of torture. And people have to understand this is actual torture with cattle prods by New Orleans policemen, where San Francisco policemen were sitting outside the room, obviously knowing what was going on to get information. And we’ve learned certainly in the last couple years around the world, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, torture doesn't lead to the truth. It leads to what the torturers want to hear. And that's where they got false statements, false confessions, and judges across the country threw these statements out for various reasons, the bottom line being torture, and the case seemed to have ended. They couldn't find the people who had actually done the crime. And that's the background, where the police started investigating again pretty seriously about five or six years ago.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to play for a moment an excerpt of a new documentary called Legacy of Torture: The War Against the Black Liberation Movement. It was produced by the Freedom Archives. The documentary includes interviews with Harold Taylor and John Bowman, about being tortured by police in New Orleans, as well as dramatized scenes depicting the abuse they suffered. Taylor was arrested Tuesday for the killing of the San Francisco police officer. Police allege the late Bowman was also involved in the killing. He died in December. This excerpt begins with Harold Taylor.

HAROLD TAYLOR: I was in there for maybe five minutes, when the door opened. Three police officers of New Orleans came in, dragging me out by my heels, took me to a chair, where they handcuffed me to the chair and handcuffed my ankles, my feet, to the bottom part of the chair. Without asking any questions, they commenced beating me. They beat me, they punched me, they kicked me, they spit on me. They called me a lot of vile names. And then they told me that they was going to kill me if I didn't cooperate with them.

JOHN BOWMAN: The New Orleans Police Department would come into the room. A hot blanket would be taken from the bucket, dripping, hot and wet, placed over my head, held there for -- I can't say whether it was minutes or seconds. It felt like forever.

HAROLD TAYLOR: They came out with a plastic bag, put it over my head, and they started beating me with the bag over my head. About the time I was about to lose consciousness, about to pass out, they would snatch the bag off, and while I’m trying to catch my breath, they would start beating me again. So I asked them, I said, “Well, what do you want?” You know, they just continued to go on whipping. They didn't ask me any more questions. They didn’t ask any questions, really.

Then, they came out with this cattle prod. I knew what it was, because being off of a farm when I was a kid. My family used to go to Louisiana every year to work on the family farm, and my uncles, they had a couple -- we had some cows, and they used cattle prods to move those cows up chutes and stuff like that. So I’d seen that, and I knew what it was.

JOHN BOWMAN: The cattle prod was placed on my genitals, placed in my [expletive]hole, placed under my feet, placed under my arms.

HAROLD TAYLOR: Down on my private parts, under my neck, behind my ears, down my back. I think I passed out one time, and they woke me back up, and they had taken me to another room. Two detectives had me by one arm -- by each arm, and a detective came out of nowhere and he just cold-cocked me and knocked -- I mean, he knocked me straight out. I was unconscious.

JOHN BOWMAN: Another instrument that was used during the questioning was a ledger law book, and this ledger law book was used to hit me upside my head at times when I was not giving the right answers that was script for me.

HAROLD TAYLOR: They took me to a holding cell. They threw water on me. I was soaking wet. It was cold. Pulled me out of there, maybe by 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning, and told me they had somebody they wanted me to talk to and I better cooperate, and if I didn’t, I was going to get more of the same. So they put me in there. There was two detectives from San Francisco. I later found out it was McCoy and Erdelatz. They started asking me questions. They told me they had a script. I’m sure I saw a recorder there, too. And they was reading to me about what they said took place in San Francisco. I told them I had no knowledge of it.

It was back again with the plastic bag. This time they had a blanket. I don't know what they soaked it in, but it was really, really hot, and they just covered me with that blanket and put that plastic bag over my head. And I couldn't scream, I couldn't holler. I couldn’t get my hands up to poke a hole in the bag, because I was handcuffed to the chair and my legs were tied to the chair. And they kicked the chair over and let me just suffocate. I was just about to pass out. They would snatch it off, spit in my face, and they left me sitting there for a little while.

McCoy and Erdelatz, they started asking me questions. I had no knowledge of the things they were asking me, so I couldn't answer them, you know. So they said, “Well, we’ll” -- they turned off the recorder or whatever they had and said, “We'll tell you what happened. And then after we tell you, this is what we want you to say.”

JOHN BOWMAN: So I did make statements. I did waive my rights to an attorney, which means I waived my Miranda rights. I did all of this because of the physical aggression and the brutality that was being put upon my body.

HAROLD TAYLOR: One got behind me, and he took his hands and he slapped them like that over my ears. I couldn't hear nothing. My ears were just ringing so bad. I could feel fluid running down the side of my face. And they were talking to me, but I couldn’t hear them. All I could her was the ringing. Whenever they stood me up to make me walk, I couldn't walk. They had to just kind of just carry me back into the other room. And when they’d get me back in there, they would start again. And they beat, and they beat, and they beat. Then Erdelatz and McCoy would come back in, and they would kind of grin and laugh. They were all laughing. They thought it was a lot of fun. I was a big joke. They started asking me questions, so I started talking to them, telling them just like they -- I followed their whole script. Everything they told me to say, I said it just like -- whatever Ruben told them, I repeated what Ruben said.

AMY GOODMAN: Former Black Panthers, Harold Taylor, who was just arrested, and John Bowman, who died in December. This, an excerpt of a new documentary called Legacy of Torture: The War Against the Black Liberation Movement, produced by the Freedom Archives.

Stuart Hanlon, I wanted to ask you about court papers filed in the case that were released Thursday, indicating a fingerprint on a cigarette lighter, shotgun shells, an informant helped to lead to the arrests this week. An affidavit filed with the court said in 2004 an FBI investigator matched five of the fifteen shotgun cells recovered from the crime scene to spent shells recovered from a shotgun found at Herman Bell’s New Orleans home in ’73. But police are now saying they have since lost the shotgun allegedly found at Bell's house. Your response?

STUART HANLON: It’s fabricated evidence. What they're really saying is, “We found a gun in Herman Bell's house, and we took it to New Orleans, and we test fired it, and we sent the shells to San Francisco 30 years ago, and all of a sudden we found out they match. But you can't test it -- you can't test the truth of our allegations, because we lost the gun, we lost the paperwork, we lost the proof of where we got it, we lost everything but the result. And just trust us that we're not biased, that we're fair, that we're going to produce real evidence in court. Trust us.” And it's a joke. It really was for the media and the public, and not for court, because --

AMY GOODMAN: The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that ex-Black Panther, Ruben Scott, is expected to testify against the arrested men. He was arrested with Harold Taylor and John Bowman in ’73 in New Orleans. In the mid-’70s, Scott said he only agreed to speak to the police after he was repeatedly tortured. Can you talk more about Scott and his expected testimony?

STUART HANLON: Yeah. Ruben Scott was tortured in the same way Bowman and Taylor were. They tortured him and broke him. He wouldn't testify at first, and then they went and got him again and threatened him on a case in New York. And he agreed finally, as a broken man and a tortured soul, who had been the victim of torture, to testify. We have statements from him that media took and he gave to lawyers, where he contradicted everything he was going to say in court, where he said he said it because he was tortured. And in the document you talked about, they admit he was tortured, so I don't think we're ready in San Francisco to convict somebody or a group of people, where there are political motivations for the case on a witness who’s been the victim of torture, so that’s not --

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Warren, we’re going to end with you. We only have a minute, but the larger context here, and can you talk about Counterintelligence Program?

MICHAEL WARREN: I certainly can. People ask the question, why pick up these men after they've been around, have not attempted to elude the authorities, have led productive lives all these years? The reason why is simply this: there are two questions that [inaudible] instructed. John Ashcroft, shortly after he was appointed the Attorney General, made a vow and a promise that he was going to go after as many ex-Black Panthers as he possibly could. And that's when this program was instituted. With respect to the Ingleside shooting and the killing of the police officer there, there was an attempt many years ago to lift a latent fingerprint. A latent fingerprint was lifted off of a lighter. There was an attempt to match it to my client, Francisco Torres, and a number of other people. Negative results. And those attempts continued all the way up until 2002. And the fingerprint technician said that he lost the -- when he checked the card, Francisco Torres, it was the wrong fingerprint card. So we have a lot of inconsistencies, but the most recent --

AMY GOODMAN: Ten seconds.

MICHAEL WARREN: The most recent reason, it relates to retaliation. These men, after being tortured, and after the grand jury ended in 2006, went on the road with the Center for Constitutional Rights and talked about their torture, and we have seen some of that. And that's what this case is about.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Warren, Stuart Hanlon, thanks for joining us.

Judge Rejects Settlement For Katrina Victims With State Farm Insurance; Film Review

January 27, 2007

Judge Puts Settlement on Katrina in Question

New York Times

A federal judge in Mississippi, citing the need for more information, has rejected — at least temporarily — a settlement by State Farm Insurance that was expected to provide several hundred million dollars to help policyholders rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina 17 months ago.

In an eight-page order, Judge L. T. Senter Jr. of Federal District Court in Gulfport, Miss., said he was rejecting the agreement because it did not provide enough information for him to conclude that it was “fair, just, balanced and reasonable.”

State Farm said last night that it had expected the agreement to be approved and that it now looked forward to addressing the judge’s concerns.

The lead trial lawyer in the case, Richard F. Scruggs, and Mississippi officials also expected court approval.

Last night, Mr. Scruggs and Jim Hood, the attorney general of Mississippi, said they were optimistic that the agreement would be revived. Mr. Hood said he was confident that State Farm would “fix the things that need to be fixed.”

In the agreement, State Farm said it would pay at least $130 million to policyholders and participants in the negotiations and said costs to the insurer could increase by another $600 million. The State Farm settlement was expected to be a model for other insurers to use in seeking settlements, which would help jump-start the lagging recovery of Mississippi’s coast.

The dispute with State Farm and other insurance companies centered on the insurers’ refusal, as stated in their policies, to pay for damage from the heavy flooding — driven by the high winds of Hurricane Katrina — that swept over the Mississippi coast on Aug. 29, 2005. Some insurers refused not only to pay for flood damage, but declined to pay for harm to houses that had been battered by wind and waters.

Even so, the insurers paid $5.3 billion for wind damage to more than 330,000 homes in Mississippi and $10.3 billion for nearly a million homes in Louisiana. The rejected settlement did not include homeowners in Louisiana.

The settlement, which was announced on Tuesday, was twofold. One part settled 640 lawsuits arising from the hurricane for $80 million; the other required State Farm to reopen up to 35,000 damage claims that state officials and trial lawyers said had been underpaid. In that part, State Farm had agreed to pay at least $50 million.

Judge Senter’s order dealt exclusively with the second part, the reopening of the damage claims. It was not clear whether the settlement of the 640 lawsuits would proceed. But during the negotiations, participants said that State Farm had refused to settle unless both the lawsuits and the 35,000 damage claims were parts of one agreement.

A spokesman for State Farm, Phil Supple, said yesterday that the two elements were separate. But he would not respond to questions seeking to clarify the linkage and whether the entire agreement might be scuttled if the judge’s concerns about the 35,000 damage claims could not be resolved. In an interview, Mr. Scruggs said he expected the settlement of the 640 lawsuits to stand, partly because State Farm has already paid the first installment.

“We’re going to start dispersing those settlement funds next week,” Mr. Scruggs said.

As part of the overall settlement, Mr. Hood, the Mississippi attorney general, agreed to drop a criminal investigation into State Farm’s handling of hurricane damage claims and to remove the company from a civil lawsuit accusing it and other insurers of treating policyholders unfairly.

Mr. Hood said he was continuing the lawsuit against other insurers. On Thursday he urged other insurance companies to follow State Farm’s lead, to settle hundreds of other lawsuits and to reopen thousands of storm damage claims.

In rejecting the agreement, Judge Senter raised concerns about a lack of detail on how much money policyholders might receive. He noted that State Farm had agreed to pay at least $50 million for reopened claims. But, he said, “there is no way I can ascertain how this sum compares to the total claims” of the approximately 35,000 homeowners, nor “how thinly this large sum may be spread.”

He said he was also troubled about the potential unfairness of an arbitration process intended by the negotiators to provide an appeals process for homeowners who requested that their claims be re-evaluated. He said that under the agreement, arbitration hearings were to be limited to two hours and that there was no apparent provision for legal representation for homeowners.

Judge Senter said the agreement also failed to provide information on what the lawyers had done to justify an agreed-upon payment of up to $20 million in relation to reopening the 35,000 damage claims. The lawyers are to receive another $26 million for settling the 640 lawsuits.

Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, said he thought Judge Senter was being “extraordinarily careful to attempt to protect the interests of all the homeowners.”

Professor Tobias said he did not think the settlement “was all over,” but, he added: “A lot of work has to be done to satisfy this judge.”

City of sunken dreams

By Andrew Ward
January 26 2007 15:48
Financial Times

Kimberly Polk sits on a park bench with the New Orleans skyline visible across a stretch of water behind her. She is holding a picture of her daughter, Serena, who drowned in the flood that followed Hurricane Katrina.

The five-year-old was staying with her father in New Orleans when the storm struck in August 2005. Her body was found eight months later, under debris. “She came to me in a dream and said `Mamma, I’m falling,’” recalls Polk, sobbing. “All I could see was water that she was falling into... I never got a chance to say goodbye.”

Polk’s story is one of numerous heartwrenching moments in When the Levees Broke, Spike Lee’s epic documentary on Katrina and its aftermath. The film is one of several that are helping to keep a focus on the issues raised by Katrina: urban poverty, racial inequality and government incompetence. “Documentaries are helping keep the story alive and posing questions about what happened,” says Douglas Brinkley, a New Orleans historian and author of The Great Deluge, a book about Katrina.

Natural disasters have always attracted documentary makers. But the scale and severity of Katrina, and the fact that it struck one of the US’s most photogenic cities, only strengthened the pathos.

Feature filmmakers are also fascinated by such disasters. But the stories generated by Katrina - the torpid government response, the jarring scenes of anarchy and despair among those stranded in the city - demanded the rigorous analysis and penetrating commentary of documentaries rather than the soft-focus gloss of Hollywood reconstructions. Unlike the September 11 attacks, Katrina cannot be easily distilled into stories of good versus evil. While 9/11 had clear-cut heroes and villains, Katrina’s central characters were more ambiguous. Rescue workers performed heroically but the overall relief effort was botched. The human suffering was tragic but why did people ignore orders to evacuate? The looting was ugly but should we expect obedience of people abandoned by their government?

These are among the issues Lee attempts to unravel in his film. Presented in four segments each lasting an hour, it combines news footage with more than 100 original interviews to produce a forensic autopsy of the disaster. The result is a devastating case against the federal response and the decades-long neglect of the New Orleans levee system. But Lee largely avoids picking scapegoats, realising that the failures were more often systemic than individual.

When the Levees Broke is most effective when telling its story through eyewitness accounts of people such as Polk. Only when it turns to celebrities and activists, such as Harry Belafonte and Al Sharpton, does it slip into polemic.

The film was made for HBO, the US cable channel, and aired in full for the first time on the first anniversary of Katrina. A month later it won three awards at the Venice Film Festival. Its UK premiere was spread over two nights on BBC 4 last month.

Other documentary makers have chosen a narrower focus. For more than a year before Katrina, novice New Orleans filmmakers Vincent Morelli and Jason Berry had been making a documentary about the city’s dysfunctional public school system. When disaster struck, they were ideally placed to tell one of the storm’s most important background stories: how failed schools fed the cycle of poverty and crime revealed as the city flooded. Left Behind seeks to explain why New Orleans had some of the worst schools in the industrialised world, with drop-out rates up to 70 per cent and education standards below those of Kenya and Zimbabwe.

The film follows three teenage African-American boys through their final year at an inner-city school. Each shows flashes of untapped intelligence and unfocused ambition, but the odds are against them - their broken homes and unruly, dilapidated schools offer little respite from the guns, drugs and gangs that dominate their neighbourhoods. Denied permission to film inside school, the filmmakers smuggle a hidden camera into class with the students. The pictures show a teacher making a vulgar gesture to his out-of-control class and karate-kicking a student.

Just as telling is footage from meetings of the city’s school board, where members feud over control of its $500m budget and resist proposals for reform. By showing how New Orleans has short-changed its young people through years of corruption, mismanagement and racial division, the film exposes the rotten political culture behind many of the city’s social ills.

Left Behind is a low-budget, rough-edged documentary filmed with a digital video camera and edited on a laptop in a coffee shop. Without Katrina, it would have struggled to gain an audience beyond New Orleans. But, by putting the city’s problems on the national agenda, the disaster has given Morrelli and Berry a chance to project their story more widely.

It was also helped by such collaborators as the linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky and the rapper Ice T, who provide trenchant commentaries on race and poverty. The film has so far been limited to three sell-out cinema screenings in New Orleans, but film-festival slots are being lined up and national television channels are showing interest, says Morrelli. Securing a distribution deal was less challenging for Leslie Woodhead, one of Britain’s leading documentary makers. A lifelong jazz fan, Woodhead won backing from the BBC and Robert Redford’s Sundance Channel to make a film about saving New Orleans’ musical heritage. Saving Jazz tells the story of Herman Leonard, a legendary 83-year-old jazz photographer whose archive was damaged by the floods.

Another contribution comes from Greg MacGillivray, who made the Imax film Everest and who was shooting an Imax movie about Louisiana’s vanishing wetlands when Katrina struck. Originally intended as a warning about how loss of the region’s swampy ecosystem was putting New Orleans in peril, the film became a postmortem about how decades of human meddling had fatally weakened the city’s natural defences. With its images of airboats hurtling across wetlands, alligators playing beneath the water, and birds streaming across vivid sunsets, Hurricane on the Bayou reveals the fragility of the watery lands upon which New Orleans rests.

Finally, Walter Williams, a comedy writer-turned-documentary maker and New Orleans native, is making short films about returning evacuees, posting them on MrBill.Com, his website. Williams says the rush of filmmaking in New Orleans since Katrina offers hope that the city’s creative spirit survived the storm. Just as the music played by slaves in the city’s Congo Square still resonates in every note of modern jazz, Katrina provides a new layer of memories. “This city’s story,” he says, “is one of constant evolution and recovery from one setback after another.”

Andrew Ward is the FT’s Atlanta correspondent.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

Klansman James Seale Denies Guilt in 1964 Double Lynching in Mississippi

Man denies 1960s race charge

A memorial in Bude, Missisissippi pays tribute to victims of racist violence Charles Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee

A former Ku Klux Klan member has pleaded not guilty to charges in the murders of two black teenagers in Mississippi in 1964, in a case that highlights violence used by white supremacists during the civil rights era in the US.

Marshals escorted James Seale, 71, to and from federal court on Thursday in Jackson for an initial hearing on kidnapping and conspiracy charges.

Robert Mueller, director of the FBI, said: "These tragic murders are straight from among the darkest page of our country's history."

A three-count indictment says Seale trained a shotgun on the teenagers while his companions beat them. Then they attached heavy weights to the pair and threw them alive into the Mississippi River.

Seale faces a maximum life term on each count if convicted. A bail hearing in the case is expected on Monday.

Unresolved case

Until Thursday no one had been charged with the murders of the two 19-year-olds, Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore, although they were long thought to have been abducted and killed by members of the Klan.

According to the indictment, "on or about May 2, 1964, defendant Seale aimed a sawed-off shotgun at Dee and Moore" while fellow members of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan "beat them with switches and tree branches".

It said Seale and the others attached an engine block to Dee, took him on to the Mississippi in a boat and threw him in. They attached iron weights and railway rails to Moore and also threw him into the river, the indictment said.

The murders attracted little publicity at the time and were typical of dozens in the country's "Deep South". Many incidents involved Klan members protected by local authorities who approved of their efforts to tyrannise blacks and halt the civil-rights movement.

The movement, led by Martin Luther King, used non-violent tactics and civil disobedience in a campaign to outlaw racial segregation in the south and permit blacks to vote there.

Alberto Gonzales, the US attorney-general, said: "These allegations are a painful reminder of a terrible time in our country ... when some people viewed their fellow Americans as inferior and as a threat based only on the colour of their skin."


Dee and Moore were killed on the pretext that whites feared that activists from the Student Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee were running guns into the area, according to the Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Mississippi.

Their bodies were recovered during a search for three other civil rights activists later that year.

In 2005, a jury in Mississippi convicted Edgar Ray Killen, a Klan member, of manslaughter over those killings. The case led to revulsion at opposition to civil rights in the 1960s, in part because two of the victims were white volunteers from New York working to register blacks to vote during a "Freedom Summer" campaign.

Guinean Leader Says He Will 'Cede Powers' to a 'Prime Minister'

Guinean leader 'to cede powers'

Guinean President Lansana Conte has agreed to cede some powers to a prime minister, union leaders say, meaning they may call off their general strike.

"He has accepted the principle of a prime minister who is head of government. We are satisfied," said union leader Amadou Diallo.

Another source said talks on ending the strike would take place on Saturday.

Almost 60 people have died over 17 days in clashes between protesters and Guinean authorities.

Mr Diallo, assistant secretary-general of the National Confederation of Guinean Workers (CNTG), said getting the president to agree that the new prime minister should head the government "was the most important point for us".

Until now, Mr Conte has combined the roles of head of state and head of government.

Mr Diallo said the strikers' demands for lower fuel and rice prices were still outstanding, but he was confident a settlement could be reached.

"This should go quickly. The strike could be suspended from tomorrow," he said.

Mr Conte seized power in a 1984 coup but has since won three elections.

The strikers accuse Mr Conte, who is his 70s and suffers from diabetes, of mismanaging the economy and personally securing the release from prison of two men accused of corruption.

This is the third general strike in a year.

It turned very bloody on Monday, when officials say 49 people were killed in the capital, Conakry.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/26 22:44:57 GMT