Saturday, April 14, 2018

ICE raid in Madison

Freedom Inc. reports:
April 31, 2018 -- Early this morning, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) came to pick up one of Freedom, Inc.'s longtime members, a Khmer man named Sophal Chuk. Sophal is 67 years old, does not speak English, and has a knee injury that needs medical attention. He is currently being detained in Milwaukee, and will potentially be deported to Cambodia.
Sophal's family is very concerned about his safety and well-being, and they are not allowed to visit him until Monday. Today is the first day of Khmer New Year, and instead of spending the weekend with his family as he had planned, he is now spending it in a jail cell. Like all members of our Madison Khmer community, he does not deserve this treatment! We are working with Southeast Asian advocates to communicate with Sophal and gather information, and will keep sharing updates when we can.
This unjust detention is the direct result of President Trump's aggressively anti-immigrant agenda, which has led to the rounding up, detention, and deportation of hundreds of Southeast Asian refugees. Just last week, 43 Cambodian Americans were deported, joining a group of hundreds of refugees who came to the US to escape the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia and are now being torn away from their families and homes. We need to work together to oppose these inhumane actions and protect our Southeast Asian families in the U.S. 
SAFETY ALERT 
If you have a deportation order, do NOT open the door for ICE. They may claim to be the police or have a warrant, but they are lying. If you get an unscheduled check-in appointment, expect to be detained. Please call Advancing Justice ALC at (415) 896-1701 if you know of Khmer Americans being picked up by ICE, or if you have an ICE check-in. They will help assess the case and assist families in planning for the possibility of detention. 
For more information from Freedom, Inc. please contact: Nancy Vue or Savang Chhorm

Monday, March 12, 2018

Youth protest

From Balklinzation:
New online resource--youthinfront.org--advice on leading change from experienced youth activists and allies.

All around the country, inspired by activists from Ferguson to Parkland, a generation of young people are considering participating in their first political action or protest. They have questions. What’s the point of a walkout? Will I get in trouble? What happens after a march?

YouthInFront is a community-created online learning resource. We started by interviewing and surveying youth about their questions, and then sourced questions from adult allies and educators as well. We believed the best people to answer those questions are experienced youth activists and allies. During an 18 day sprint from Feb 13 to March 7, we interviewed nearly 30 youth activists and educators, reviewed youth-produced and youth-focused resources from around the web, and benefitted from the generous contributions of media producers, civic educators, youth activists and organizers, software engineers, and many others.

The YouthInFront community is made up of individuals with diverse array of beliefs about public policy, the tactics and strategy of protest, and how adults can best and most appropriately support students. What we all agree on, though, is that youth-led civic activism can transform society for the better. Young people are powerful civic actors, and during their apprenticeship of citizenship, their voices deserve to be heard. The youth in our community are leaders; the adults in our community are supporting them as they march up front.

YouthInFront was kicked off by three longtime civic educators: Justin Reich from MIT, Doug Pietrzak from Fresh Cognate, and Meira Levinson from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Yes, this means that YouthInFront site was planned and organized by adults – but we hope that we have used the wealth of resources at our disposal to provide a model of how adults can support youth who are leading the way. We quickly had nearly 100 volunteers from Cambridge, Boston, and across the country, and we gratefully acknowledge their many contributions.

YouthInFront is supported by a wide variety of organizations, led by the Harvard Graduate School of Education Usable Knowledge project, the MIT Teaching Systems Lab, Fresh Cognate, Justice in Schools, and the HGSE Teaching and Learning Lab. A wide variety of other organizations sent resources, offered suggestions, and shared our site within their networks. We gratefully acknowledge these informal partners below.

The majority of project resources were generously provided by volunteers; we also gratefully acknowledge financial support from the HGSE Dean’s Office and Dean James Ryan. 
Please send questions, comments, and feedback to youthinfront@mit.edu. Apologies if we cannot respond to all queries.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Update on J20 prosecutions

More than 200 folks are facing very serious charges and jail time when they were mass-arrested during public protests at the Trump inauguration. For instance, prosecutors are using Facebook "likes" of the disruptj20 website as evidence of an intent to commit violent protest.

NLG's communications director, Tasha Moro, has an excellent update on the trial in this case and how it intersects with new surveillance initiatives against protests on the left, including Black Lives Matters.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Vigil/rally for Jason Pero

On November 8th, 14 year old Jason Pero was shot and killed by an Ashland County Deputy in front of his home in Odanah Wisconsin on the Bad River reservation. 

Neighbors and relatives challenge the official story put out by the Wisconsin Dept. of Justice, and their videos contradict the officer's claim that he was in danger from a middle school kid with a knife. The Bad River tribe has demanded a federal investigation.

Come bring lights, drums, and songs to remember this young singer, drummer, and keeper of his Anishinabe peoples' traditions. Demand justice for him and protection for indigenous people across the world as we close out Native American Heritage month in the U.S.A. Our heritage should no longer excuse violence against our indigenous relatives.

We will begin at Wisconsin DOJ's office on West Main Street and proceed to the US Attorney's office on West Washington Avenue.

Thursday, November 30th, 4:30-5:30pm

Please come and invite your friends.


Giving Tuesday for NLG

From NLG's executive director:
On this global day of giving back, please consider making a $50 donation to support the National Lawyers Guild.
As the first integrated bar association and the oldest and most extensive network of social justice activists working within the legal system, the National Lawyers Guild has been resisting oppression for 80 years. With over 150 chapters and 20 committees, the NLG continues to be at the forefront of movements for social justice both in the United States and internationally. In this time of increasing state repression and political uncertainty, we need your support now more than ever.

So please mark your calendars for Tuesday, November 28th and make a donation in support of the NLG’s work on #GivingTuesday.

Thank you,
Pooja Gehi
Executive Director
NLG National Office
132 Nassau Street, Rm. 922
New York, NY 10038
Given the current political climate, the NLG's efforts at protecting protests against pipelines, the young, gifted & black, criminal justice reform, the environment, and free expression and association for those on the left will be ever more important in 2018.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Comments on SB303 and SB304

On 19 October 2017, our own PK Hammel testified about SB303 and SB304. These bills "allegedly" address rioting and blocking of roadways. Here is her testimony:

The Madison chapter of the National Lawyers Guild opposes the proposals to further criminalize public protest which are the basis for SB 303 and 304, the “riot” act and adding penalties for blocking access to streets and buildings. This legislation is unnecessary and constitutionally over-broad in sweeping protected speech and assembly into the criminal code and making felons of law abiding citizens. 
To be clear, threatening an act of violence against a person is already a crime. Section 947 of the Wisconsin Statutes already prohibits disorderly conduct (misdemeanor), disrupting a funeral or memorial service (misdemeanor or felony for repeat offenders), intimidation or harassment including by use of a computer (forfeiture to felony), threats of bombs or biological or toxic substance release (felonies) terrorist threats (felony since 2015) and unlawful assemblies (misdemeanor) including blocking entrances to buildings and failing to disperse when ordered, with additional punishments for University of Wisconsin students and employees. 
Causing damage to property is also currently a crime in Wisconsin pursuant to sec. 943 of the statutes with enhanced penalties (felony) for damage to roads, public utility property and archaeological or cultural sites. Assault against another person is also a crime under sec. 940 of Wisconsin’s statutes; battery is generally a felony now, with increasing penalties for battery to vulnerable individuals and special provisions for vulnerable individuals, and law enforcement officers (threats are also felonies).

So what do SB 303 and 304, adding the “riot” provision and singling out groups of three or more (?) accomplish? They make “Whoever participates in a riot” in which someone else, who may be completely unknown or even adverse to the person being charged, a felon by association. 
These proposals are unnecessary and unconstitutional. It is worth remembering that the State has lost challenges to over-broad penalties against groups of four assembling in the Capitol without a permit as recently as 2013. U.S. District Court Judge William Conley issued an injunction against enforcement of the Wisconsin Administrative Code and Capitol Access policies on July 8 2013, finding that the Dept. of Administration’s assembly permitting scheme was improperly content based and overly broad, and that the plaintiff Michael Kissick had shown a likelihood of success in his case against DOA Secretary Huebsch and Capitol Police chief Erwin. 
To be constitutional, a statute limiting First Amendment rights of speech and assembly must be narrowly drawn to achieve a legitimate objective. A statute criminalizing the mere presence of a person with two or more others who are violent or threatening violence is NOT narrowly drawn. It is overly broad. It chills protected conduct by imposing a potential felony charge on someone who is not doing anything wrong, and may be participating in activity that deserves the highest level of constitutional protection. 
A felony charge is a serious matter. The number of attorneys who take cases of people charged with felonies is relatively limited because these are serious charges that can affect a person’s access to jobs, housing, education and the right to vote. Retainers for attorneys in a felony case are in the thousands of dollars. The State Public Defender’s office is underfunded and the number of attorneys who take private appointments has declined because private attorneys can’t keep their doors open getting $35 an hour. 
You may say that other states have “riot” bills so we should have one too. Those states (North Dakota being the one I am most familiar with) do not have unlawful assembly bills and the penalty for participating in a “riot” is a misdemeanor there. 
1. This crime is a B misdemeanor North Dakota has three levels of misdemeanors: Class A, Class B, and Class C. A class B misdemeanor carries a Maximum penalty of 30 days in prison, a $1,500 fine, or both. N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 12.1-32-01 (West). 
2. The terms of the crime A person is guilty of Engaging in a Riot if he participates in “a public disturbance involving an assemblage of five or more persons which by tumultuous and violent conduct creates grave danger of damage or injury to property or persons or substantially obstructs law enforcement or other government function.” N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 12.1-25-03 (West). N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 12.1-25-01 (West).” 
Most of the people charged with “riot” in North Dakota last year have had their charges dismissed. Merely being there has not been found sufficient reason to sustain a misdemeanor charge. Wisconsin does not need a “riot” statute and people who assemble to exercise their free speech rights should not face felony charges. There are already penalties for committing acts of violence or being parties to such activity, and for blocking streets, and escalating penalties that adequately address any illegal activity. 
The Madison Mass Defense group, involving attorney and legal worker members of the National Lawyers Guild, ACLU and others concerned about federal and state constitutional rights to petition and protest the government, represented over 100 defendants given over 330 tickets in the “crackdown” ordered by Capitol Police Chief Erwin since he became chief in 2013. Only one case went to a jury trial resulting in a guilty verdict, nearly all of them were dismissed by the prosecuting Wisconsin Attorney General’s office after every Dane County judge assigned to the cases dismissed them. 
The Madison Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild is the local arm of the national organization of lawyers, legal workers, law students, and jailhouse lawyers. The National Lawyers Guild represents progressive political movements, and its motto is that human rights are more sacred than property interests.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Chicago Community Bond Fund Interview

Shadowproof has an interview with Max Suchan about the Chicago Community Bond Fund.
CCBF is a part of a local coalition, the Coalition to End Money Bond, which includes labor, legal advocacy, and faith-based organizations. They have put pressure on the city to reform the money bond system. Externally, Suchan said, the city also has noticed a national trend demanding reforms to the most racist practices in the criminal justice system.
Lawyers affiliated with the coalition launched a lawsuit last year that seeks a “declaratory judgment that Cook County’s bond-setting practices violate the Constitution; that actually they disproportionately impact people that don’t have money, and it’s a system that punishes people because they’re poor,” according to Suchan.
* * *  
Of 180 cases that we’ve tracked of people that were given money bonds, within seven days, only half those people were able to post their bonds,” Suchan added. “Fewer than 10 percent were able to pay their bond at their review hearing. Most people are not getting review hearings at all.”
“More than 90 percent of cases that we’ve been tracking are not given bond reviews within the seven-day review period or after.”
“It’s very rare that I’m sitting in court, where I don’t see something particularly disturbing. It happens. That’s the norm. It’s not actually the exception,” Suchan shared.
Listen to the interview of Max Suchan by going here.