For the sake of the Democratic Party, President Obama should allow a strong, more authentically Democratic candidate to run in 2012. Otherwise, like the Pied Piper, he’ll likely drag the rest of the Democratic ticket over the cliff. He is unpopular even among his base.
I got email from DOJ – civil rights division that two NO police officers were sentenced in the killing of Raymond Robair:
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Two Former New Orleans Police Officers Sentenced in Connection with the Death of Raymond Robair
WASHINGTON – Two former New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers were sentenced today in relation to the beating death of Raymond Robair and subsequent cover-up, the Justice Department announced today.
U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon sentenced former NOPD Officer Melvin Williams to 262 months in prison for violating the civil rights of Robair by beating him to death, and for obstructing justice in the wake of that beating. Former NOPD Officer Matthew Dean Moore, who was working as Williams’ partner on the day of the beating, was sentenced to 70 months in prison for obstructing justice and for making false statements to the FBI during a federal investigation into Robair’s death. Williams was also ordered to pay $11,576 in restitution and Moore was sentenced to three years of supervised release.
“The New Orleans Police Department has been broken for some time, and this case shows just that,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “I hope that today’s sentences bring justice for the family of Raymond Robair and the entire community.”
“Today’s prison sentences are once again powerful messages that we in the Department of Justice will never tolerate the abuse of power or victimization of our citizens by anyone in law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Lousiana Jim Letten. “All of our citizens – and especially those among us who are most vulnerable – as well as the men and women who honor the badge of law enforcement every day deserve our respect and our protection.”
This event took place a month before Katrina flooded New Orleans. You can read the details here. A lot went wrong in New Orleans during Katrina, but not much went worse than the police shooting and beating people, blocking their passage to safety. I think the Robair case is a good indicator of the attitude of the NOPD toward the community prior to the flooding.
I think we suffer from outrage fatigue in this country because so many outrages are done under color of law. Waterboarding anyone? No justice in that matter that can be discerned, but justice may have been served for these two policemen who have been are going to jail for their part in the beating death of Raymond Robair. Rookie police, like Moore in this case, should think long and hard about tolerating the abusive behavior of more “experienced” police officers. And of course, there is issue of testilying, but you never get to that point if as a rookie cop, you jump in and stop the crime of a police officer assaulting a citizen. Moore has a long time to think about that.
A Plowshares activist was released today after serving the majority of her sentence, only to be promptly arrested for allegedly violating the terms of her probation.
Lynne Greenwald was released earlier today from the SeaTac Federal Detention Center in Washington State after serving five and a half months of a six month sentence for her participation in the 2009 Disarm Now Plowshares action at the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base and Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific.
Greenwald is a grandmother, retired social worker, peace activist, and until her time in prison worked at Irma Gary House, a transitional house for women recently released from prisons in Washington State.
Greenwald arrived at the Federal Progress House (the organization that was to provide community supervision while she is under house arrest for the remaining two weeks of her sentence) before noon as she had been instructed by Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officials. While working through her paperwork U.S. Marshals arrived and arrested Greenwald for allegedly violating her conditions of release. They transported her to a holding cell in Tacoma awaiting transport back to the SeaTac Federal Detention Center this evening.
Upon learning of Greenwald’s arrest supporters immediately contacted the U.S. Marshal’s office as well as attorneys working on Greenwald’s behalf.
Attorney Blake Kremer said that Greenwald was picked up on a probation violation based on the requirement that she go “immediately” to the halfway house (Irma Gary House). A brief videotaped interview and time spent with well-wishers who went to the prison to meet her are the issue. Greenwald did go directly from SeaTac to Irma Gary House and then on to Progress House where she did what was required by checking in before noon. The marshals were sent by the BOP, not requested by Progress House or Irma Gary House.
According to the Marshal’s office generally when Marshals pick up someone for the BOP at a halfway house, the issue is handled administratively and without a hearing. Kremer said that her case could either be handled administratively or through a hearing. A hearing would likely be held tomorrow at the U.S. District Courthouse in Tacoma, Washington.
Greenwald and her fellow Disarm Now Plowshares co-defendants, Bill “Bix” Bichsel, SJ, Susan Crane, Steve Kelly, SJ, and Anne Montgomery, RSCJ, challenged the legality and morality of the US storage and threat of use of thermonuclear missiles by Trident nuclear submarines stationed at the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base outside Bremerton Washington. They entered the U.S. Navy’s nuclear weapons storage depot at Bangor, Washington on November 2, 2009 to symbolically disarm the nuclear weapons stored there, and expose the illegality of the government’s continued preparations for nuclear war.
The five admitted from the start that they cut through the chain link fence surrounding the Navy base during the night of All Souls, November 2, 2009. They then walked undetected for hours nearly four miles inside the base to their target, the Strategic Weapons Facility-Pacific. This top security area is where activists say hundreds of nuclear missiles are stored in bunkers. There they cut through two more barbed wire fences and went inside. They put up two big banners which said “Disarm Now Plowshares: Trident Illegal and Immoral,” scattered sunflower seeds, and prayed until they were arrested at dawn. Prosecutors said the government would neither admit nor deny the existence of nuclear weapons at the base and argued that “whether or not there are nuclear weapons there or not is irrelevant.”
Prosecutors successfully objected to and excluded most of the defense evidence about the horrific effects of nuclear weapons, the illegality of nuclear weapons under US treaty agreements and humanitarian law, and the right of citizens to try to stop war crimes by their government.
After difficult deliberations the jury finally found all five co-defendants guilty on all charges of Conspiracy, Trespass, Destruction of Property on a Naval Installation and Depredation of Government Property. The five co-defendants received varying sentences including up to fifteen months confinement.
Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific represent the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons according to the Kansas City Star. The U.S. is currently working on plans for a new fleet of ballistic missile submarines to replace the current Trident fleet. The new fleet armed with nuclear armed missiles would operate through the year 2082.
There have been more than 100 Plowshares Nuclear Resistance Actions worldwide since 1980. Plowshares actions are taken from Isaiah 2:4, a book in the Hebrew Scriptures of the Bible, “God will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many people. And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not take up swords against nations, nor will they train for war anymore.”
Leonard Eiger, 425-445-2190, email@example.com
Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
16159 Clear Creek Road NW Poulsbo, WA 98370
“As Governor of Texas, Rick Perry oversaw the execution of an innocent man. But the media is failing to do its job and make Perry account for his role in this terrible injustice.
The facts are pretty damning. Cameron Todd Willingham was executed for intentionally starting a fire that killed his three children.1 But all six of the outside experts who have reviewed the evidence of the Dec. 23, 1991 fire that killed the Willingham children have concluded that there is no reason to think arson caused the fire.”
Signed a petition this morning online through PDA to ask the super committee to save a trillion dollars by fixing Medicare Part D. The change requested would allow the Feds to negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma instead of the current model. I haven’t studied this hard, but you don’t have to study much to know that the ability to negotiate prices is a good idea. It’s kind of free market stuff, isn’t it? Doesn’t the right love the power of the free market? Let’s see how far this thing goes. Senator Kyl has jumped off talking about savings from attacking Medicare fraud, but the CBO guy told him point blank, this approach does not address the deficit and tax changes needed.
I also responded to a request from the FCNL – Friends (quakers) Committee on National Legislation and sent the following letter to my Senator, Patty Murray:
I live in Chehalis, Wa and have been pleased to have you as my Senator.
In my lifetime I have watched the tax table leveled and it has had disastrous effects on the US economy and US politics. The well-to-do, the middle class, and the poor continue to pay their fair share. The “haves” and “have mores” as George Bush called them have had their tax burden greatly relieved and now we face a budget deficit that is a pretext for cutting essential government services that are important to the majority of Americans, but mean little or nothing to the have mores.
In addition to the tax structure tilted to the rich, there is a question of war profiteering and the failure to raise taxes to pay when this country goes to war as it has done too quickly in this century.
The Pentagon budget has doubled in the last 10 years–without even counting what our country has spent on the two wars. It now amounts to more than half of the money Congress appropriates to federal programs each year.
But the main problem is falling revenues and that related directly to the tax hatred and demagogery. A steep tax structure promotes investment in infrastructure, jobs and factories instead of second, third, and fourth homes for the captains of industry.
You are in a very difficult position. It seems you are the only woman on the Super Committee and perhaps this country’s needs more matriotism and less patriotism to turn it around. I send my thoughts to you with the prayer that you will stand larger than a single person on this committee and that you may turn the country in a new direction from your position.
Be strong, be well. Do wonderful things.
I don’t have much time for this email activism, but I took a minute this morning. I am generally more directly involved in political action. I spend more time making signs and materials and engaging in political action than I do sending signing online petitions pleading for change in public policy. But I took a couple of minutes for this stuff this morning, mainly because FCNL asked me to take a minute.
The Friends, the Quakers, were the folks who ran the underground railroad moving enslaved humans to freedom when slavery was legal in part of our country. They probably wrote letters and signed petitions as well, but some of the friends of that era believed action was required.
We stand on the shoulders of giants. Will we stand? Do we stand for anything?
Which side are you on, boys and girls?
Be strong, be well, DO wonderful things.