Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stop the destruction of jobs!

2011-01-29 photograph showing Tom Lacey, Chairperson of "Peace and Freedom Party of San Francisco", with folks at Congresswomen Pelosi's mansion, demanding rejection of Korea-US KORUS Free Trade Agreement

2011-01-29 "Vallejo shooting protested" by Irma Widjojo from "Vallejo Times-Herald" newspaper
About 20 people gathered at the Solano County Justice Center on Friday to "demand answers" regarding the investigation into the death of Guy Jarreau Jr., killed last month in an officer-involved shooting in Vallejo.
At about 1 p.m., protesters held signs that said "Stop police terror" and "Stop police brutality, justice for Guy Jarreau."
Jarreau, a 34-year-old New Orleans native who had been living in Vallejo for more than eight years, was mortally wounded in an alley by an officer on Dec. 11. He died on the way to the hospital.
Friends say he was with some Napa Valley College classmates making an anti-violence music video.
Vallejo police officers said they came to the scene in response to a 911 call about a man brandishing a gun near some teenagers in the 2100 block of Sonoma Boulevard. Police said Jarreau ran into a nearby alley and was shot in self defense.
On Friday, rally spokeswoman Verrose Hill, who said he was Jarreau's friend and fellow student of Napa Valley College, read a list of items that protestors wanted released. The list included statements from the Vallejo officer involved in the shooting, medics and eye witnesses as well as the 911 dispatch recording, a video camera and tape.
"If they had done nothing wrong, then they have nothing to hide," Hill said.
The participants in Friday's rally included Vallejo residents, Napa Valley College students and members of the Diablo Valley College Students Democrats Society. Jarreau's family members and friends, who were involved in the music video, were not present.
"We tried to call them, but I think they are still in mourning," Hill said.
Hill said she did not expect any immediate action.
"Our goal is to stir up people and get the gears turning," she said. "Hopefully, we'll get the answer soon."
Despite discussions of moving the rally into the Justice Center, the rally remained outdoors and peaceful.
"We just want to make sure their actions remain peaceful, while exercising their right (to assembly)," Solano County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Gary Faulkner said.
Solano County District Attorney Don du Bain said his office just received the investigation reports from Vallejo Police Department on Thursday.
"It is still under review by my office, and we will come to our own independent conclusion," du Bain said.
Vallejo Police investigators and six district attorney's investigators worked together since shortly after the shooting to determine what happened, du Bain said.
When asked when his office would issue its findings, du Bain said it was too early to speculate, since "it all depends on the length and complexity of the case."
All fatal and potentially fatal incidents involving police officers are investigated by the district attorney's office, he added.
Students and activists hold a rally in front to the Solano County Hall of Justice in demanding the investigation into a fatal shooting by Vallejo Police. (Chris Riley/Tmes-Herald, Vallejo)
2011-01-28 "Guy Jarreau--Protest Rally" by Marc Garmen from "Vallejo Independent Bulliten" online journal
On December 11, 2010 Guy Jarreau was shot and killed by Vallejo police. Many questions remain unanswered. According to witnesses, Jarreau was involved in filming an anti-violence video with friends on the streets of Vallejo when he was shot. He was also carrying a gun...allegedly a prop for the video.
Was the shooting of Guy Jarreau justified or the result of a series of unfortunate circumstances?
Footage from the protest rally in front of the Solano County Justice Building on 321 Tuolumne St. in Vallejo. January 28, 2011.

2011-01-28 "Supporters Of A Vallejo Man Fatally Shot By Police Rally At Courthouse" from "KTVU channel 2 News"

VALLEJO, Calif. -- About 30 people gathered at the Solano County Courthouse in Vallejo Friday afternoon to call for a thorough investigation into the fatal shooting of a man by a Vallejo police officer in December.
The crowd asked the Solano County District Attorney's Office to thoroughly review all the evidence, including video taken near Kentucky Street and Sonoma Boulevard, where 34-year-old Guy Jarreau Jr. was shot on Dec. 11. He was pronounced dead at the John Muir Medical Center.
Vallejo police said Jarreau was reaching for a handgun when he was shot by a police officer, who has not been identified.
Verrose Hill, a spokeswoman for those who rallied today, said Vallejo police have withheld videotape evidence. She said eyewitness testimony indicates Jarreau kept the handgun in his belt and had only a green plastic cup in his hand.
Vallejo police posted on the department website video that they said was taken before the shooting that shows Jarreau "brandishing" a revolver. They said they retrieved the video from a camera used by someone who was filming Jarreau and others who had gathered outside a tattoo shop at 2118 Sonoma Blvd. before the shooting.
Jarreau's friends and family members said Jarreau and the others were filming an anti-violence music video in the area.
Police went to the scene after the tattoo shop owner called them to report that a large group of young African American males was outside his shop and one of them was flashing a gun.
Police said Jarreau ran down an alley when officers arrived. As the officer who pursued Jarreau turned the corner, Jarreau was facing him and was trying to draw a gun from his pocket, police said. The officer fired in self-defense, according to police.
Hill said about a dozen people spoke at the 90-minute rally this afternoon. She said Jarreau's supporters sent emails and letters to the district attorney's office, but they have not received a response.
Solano County District Attorney Don du Bain said this afternoon his office received the Vallejo Police Department's report about the incident Thursday.
"We intend to complete a thorough investigation, and I will be involved in the investigation," du Bain said.
He could not estimate how long the investigation would take.

Friday, January 28, 2011

War against public education

History shows once public Universities seek private money for "research" purposes, the private hands will mold young minds to serve the private interest over all other concern, even health or ecological concerns, and with this is another process of fascism continues...

"Pfizer reaches out to academia—again"
Nature Biotechnology, doi:10.1038/nbt0111-3

Pfizer is rolling out a grand plan to draw out drug-development-ready research from academia through a series of collaborations with leading medical centers worldwide. The first collaboration, announced in November, is with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), to which the pharma giant will commit $85 million. Coincidentally, London-based GlaxoSmithKline, is launching a similar outreach program, but with a very different approach. Like Pfizer, it wants to access leading academic researchers with targets ripe for translation into the clinic. Its scope, however, is more modest and targeted, focused on individual scientists.

For Pfizer, the overall aim in setting up these Global Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTIs) is to move novel bio-therapeutics rapidly into human clinical trials—each project will aim to deliver a drug through phase 1 testing in five years. Pfizer expects five such initiatives to be up and running in 2011 in the United States, Europe and Asia. Assuming eight projects per CTI, this could bring dozens of differentiated biologics against new targets into the clinical pipeline.

The New York–based pharma will set up shop on each campus, contributing proprietary phage display libraries, peptide libraries and associated technologies for rapidly generating antibodies to be used as probes against the novel targets flagged by university researchers. Each CTI will be staffed with 20–25 Pfizer employees with expertise in cell-line generation, protein characterization and purification—the skill sets needed to rapidly identify and advance molecules into the clinic. All decision making, from the initial acceptance of proposals through the determination to start clinical testing, will be made by a joint steering committee. “The concept is to make a transition away from the vertically integrated R&D model into smaller, decentralized groups of a truly global nature,” says Pfizer's Anthony Coyle, who is heading up the program out of the company's Cambridge, Massachusetts, facilities.

As important, the CTI model creates a 50-50 joint relationship where the goals of the investigators and the company are aligned and both sides are empowered to succeed. “There has got to be a change in the mindset from 'We own this, you do this for us,'” says Coyle. The CTIs will seek out investigators who have already developed a hypothesis around a novel disease mechanism and are keen to translate their discoveries into drugs. “These will be projects where we can articulate very clearly at the beginning what the first-in-man study will be,” says Coyle. The strategy will be to define the mechanism of action and in parallel develop the appropriate drug to hit the target and also determine the right patient population to target with it.

The model “allows us to leverage all of the drug discovery capability in our organization—the ability to make clinical grade material, the finances to perform the right enabling toxicology studies, and the regulatory support to allow the investigator to realize the ambition and see the concept translated,” says Coyle. He also hopes to bypass animal modeling. “What's becoming clear to me is that the time you spend on in vivo validation has zero impact, in most cases, on whether you will be successful going into the clinic. Here we propose to define the mechanism based on a human in vitro system, very quickly, which is again aided by having our phage library right there with the individuals doing the research.”

Funding for CTI initiatives will follow a pre-negotiated template Pfizer will put down at each institution. The company will pay for one to three post docs for each participating laboratory and the steering committee will have access to a flexible fund used either for additional biology or to allow the joint project team to move a compound into trials. There will be two clinical milestone payments, at proof of mechanism and successful proof of concept. All joint inventions will be jointly owned, with Pfizer holding an exclusive option to license a drug after proof of mechanism. In the event Pfizer exercises its option, any jointly developed enabling intellectual property (IP) would be licensed from the institution. If Pfizer declines, IP and other joint assets revert to the institution, which could then partner with someone else.

“There's going to be less of an establishment of value going into this, and more of it saved for the negotiation about the IP, which is downstream,” says S. Claiborne Johnston, director of the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

In the past, most collaborations, however, have failed to lead to new drugs. “I think they generally have failed because of the misalignment of the interests of the academic investigators and the industrial partners,” says David Mack of the venture firm Alta Partners, in San Francisco, either because the academics were driven by other basic research questions or because of a lack of appreciation for the cost, risk and time that drug development takes. “They see that they've created an asset that is worth a lot, but actually it's not worth a lot because all of the risk is ahead of us—investment capital, development, technical risk.”

But as grant funding proves ever harder to find, it's an opportune time for exploring new models. Plus, the venture capital industry is contracting significantly and is also shifting its focus, where possible, to more late-stage, downstream investments. The absence of an initial public offering market has made some of the investigators more realistic. “It's the right time for that kind of approach—getting them involved on a risk-sharing basis and setting some realistic near- to midterm milestones to achieve some value creation, even if it means then passing it on to Pfizer in exchange for a royalty,” says Mack. The ability to hit the group running with a program and have immediate access to Pfizer's development resources may also be attractive to academics who are either uncomfortable or impatient with the venture capital process, where initial fund-raising could take years.

But more experienced academic entrepreneurs might not want to trade control or more potential upside in exchange for expediency. Paul Schimmel of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, believes that “To preserve their freedom and work in an academic-like way, they'll probably want to turn to do that in the venture community and startups rather than the pharmaceutical industry, where it can get buried and disappear.”

A tendency for people within companies to move is another ongoing issue. Regis Kelly, director of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), a nonprofit institute spanning three University of California campuses in the San Francisco Bay Area, points to pharma's frequent management changes as a potential snag in making the partnerships thrive. For instance, in 2008, soon after Pfizer merged with Wyeth, it dissolved the Bio-therapeutics and Bio-innovation Center (BBC) on UCSF's Mission Bay campus—set up in 2007 as a hybrid between academia and industry, to work on translational projects (Nat. Biotechnol. 27, 308, 2009). For about a year, Kelly recalls, “there was a hiatus, where we couldn't start any new programs together.”

Even as Pfizer focuses on decentralizing industry-academic partnerships, London-based GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will soon adopt a virtual approach.GSK aims to create up to ten relationships with individual researchers throughout the world, forming a virtual project team with each of them in order to, like Pfizer, provide immediate access to GSK resources. “We're not talking about giving lots of money across to academia,” says GSK's Patrick Vallance, who is leading the program. An experienced drug discoverer will work in tandem with the research group. “At the beginning it's very focused, with access to the whole of GSK's expertise,” he says.

GSK is set to announce the first of its collaborations under the program, withMark Pepys at University College, London (UCL), and Pepys' UCL spinout, Pentraxin Therapeutics, for the development of a small molecule to treat amyloidosis. GSK and Pentraxin are already working together to develop an antibody to treat the disease.

To some extent, Pfizer's CTI programs echo the spirit of Eli Lilly's Chorus initiative, started in 2007, in which a venture firm supplies the Indianapolis-based pharma with compounds for Lilly to rapidly advance through phase 1. But whereas both emphasize speed to the clinic from a similar preclinical starting point, the CTIs will also explore the biology around its targets in depth, at greater cost, but also presumably to its benefit. Indeed, although Pfizer is aware of the importance of targeted therapeutics and personalized medicine, “It's not an area we have invested a significant amount of time in,” says Coyle. By focusing on translational medicine up front, “We're going to have a broader impact in the organization,” he says.

War against public education

2011-01-27 "San Jose adult education classes to disappear" by Sharon Noguchi from "San Jose Mercury News" newspaper
Ending a 44-year history, the budget-squeezed Metropolitan Education District will likely stop offering all recreational and leisure classes for adults at the end of this school year, and will cut by more than half its basic education courses for adults.
Classes ranging from Spanish to watercolor to "coping with hearing loss" will be gone after June, and 100 of 368 teachers and other employees will lose their jobs. Two of three campuses will close. The fate of a teaching garden at Erikson School is up in the air.
And that's the good scenario. If California voters do not extend temporary tax measures, as Gov. Jerry Brown is recommending, the district's financial squeeze could become a death grip. MetroED would probably close its entire adult-education program.
Superintendent Paul Hay is occupied with preparing to dismantle and move programs, close campuses and lay off employees. In between, he feels devastated.
"But our focus right now is how do we do what we have to do to serve the most number of students next year," he said.
Students are feeling at a loss. "To end this class for everyone would be a travesty," said Rebecca Moreci, one of 23 students in an intermediate Spanish class in the "50-Plus" program for older adults. Classmate Nathan Mitakides, 80, called the class "mental as well as social nourishment."
Students cited a long list of reasons to study Spanish at MetroED. "I look forward to jueves con Paco," or Thursdays with teacher Frank Herrera, Moreci said.
But the budget outlook is dark and darker. MetroED is funded in part by the state and by its six member school districts. The largest of those, San Jose Unified, last week decided to cut its contributions to the adult-education district by two-thirds, or $3.5 million.
Like all other districts, San Jose Unified faces its own revenue crisis. Given flexibility by the state, the district is scooping up monies from separate pots -- once designated for not only adult education, but also gifted and talented programs, arts and textbooks, for instance -- to shore up basic education..
"We are a K-12 district," San Jose Unified Superintendent Vincent Matthews said, after the school board voted 5-0 last week to redirect its adult education funds. "We're in a place we'd rather not be in, if the Legislature made the tough decisions they ought to make."
So the $3.5 million next school year will go toward restoring five days to the academic year, days that were lost this year in the form of employee furloughs. Matthews also plans to bolster Saturday school, summer school and remedial classes, and open a middle school for struggling students.
All that comes as little solace to adults who will lose their classes.
MetroED will close the Erikson Adult Education Center on Pearl Avenue and San Jose Adult Education Center on East Julian Street. From July 1, remaining classes will be consolidated at the Hillsdale Avenue campus. The district will eliminate the 50-Plus and "Community Interest" programs, along with Capitol High School for students making up credits.
The 2,400-student Central County Occupational Program, a career development and training facility, is not being trimmed. And MetroED's other adult programs will survive, but at less than half their current size. That includes basic reading and math skills and courses leading to a high school diploma or its equivalent, vocational education, English as a Second Language and citizenship classes.
And the fate of the World Garden at Erickson is uncertain. It's the site of free monthly garden workshops, a gardening class for older adults and classes for home-schooled children. Its harvest of fruit and vegetables is donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank -- when there's not a pest quarantine in place.
Maintaining the garden was a condition when MetroED took over the Erikson campus seven years ago amid neighborhood opposition.
"My concern is that the garden continue and be maintained organically and with care," said master gardener Rita Bottini. 49.
Students questioned whether the leisure classes could be continued at a higher cost. Currently, for example, the fee for older adult classes is $30 per semester -- up from $5 a few years ago.
But Hay said the district can't afford to continue even its other fee-funded "Community Interest" classes, which cost $6 per hour, or typically $72 for a six-week course. The fees pay for the instructor but not the overhead. And with consolidation, the district is losing its sites for the classes.
The cutback is the most severe in MetroED history. It is a sad decline for what was one of the largest adult education programs in the state, once serving 115,000 people annually. Even just a few years ago, it could meet demand and offer, for example, 11 sections of "Better Bones and Balance," registrar Maria Consuelo Cisneros said. Now classes have waiting lists -- or simply don't exist.
There's no indication that other agencies will pick up the course offerings. MetroED's classes at several community locations, such as churches, will continue next year, Hay said.
But students and teachers alike at the two campuses slated to close worry about losing their course and their community.
"I've developed a relationship here," Bottini said. "I feel like one of the trees in the garden."

Number of students served annually: 7,300; after cuts, about 2,100 to 2,300 students will be served
Created: 1967, an outgrowth of the City of San Jose's "night school" dating to the 1870s
2010-11 budget: $8 million
2011-12 budget projection: $3.7 million
Member school districts: Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High, Campbell Union High, East Side Union High, San Jose Unified, Milpitas Unified, Santa Clara Unified.

Student Power!

Here are 2 articles about the "Students for a Democratic Society" of Florida.

2011-01-20 "Student activism responsible for stalling tuition overhaul" by Dave Schneider from "The Independent Florida Alligator" newspaper

Dave Schneider is a Progress Party senator and member of Students for Democratic Society
There’s a reason we don’t celebrate Lyndon Johnson Day. This past Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I spent a lot of time thinking about the civil rights movement.
In the face of repression by segregationists and lethargic responses by the federal government, black people and a multiracial coalition of allies courageously marched, rallied and took direct action to bring national attention to the horrors of racism. Their heroic struggle forced lawmakers, like President Johnson, to advocate equal rights for all.
Right now, higher education is under assault around the globe, and Gainesville is no exception.
When the administration announced in November that they wanted to implement a block tuition system — in which every full-time undergraduate student would pay a flat rate for 15 credit hours, regardless of how many he or she actually takes — students became outraged. Because the proposal would harm working students and hinder participation in extracurricular activities, they decided to stand up and organize a resistance.
Since the spring semester started, I’ve heard a lot about Student Body President Ashton Charles voting against block tuition at the December Board of Trustees meeting. I haven’t heard enough about the flurry of Facebook groups created to oppose block tuition. I haven’t heard enough about the students who pressed the administration to answer hard questions at several town hall meetings last fall. I haven’t heard enough about the thousands of students who signed petitions against the administration’s plan. And I haven’t heard enough about the largest and most direct resistance to block tuition — the three rallies attended by hundreds of students, organized by Students for a Democratic Society and the students from instructor Meggan Jordan’s Social Problems class.
On the same day the Trustees approved block tuition, students rallied together to directly voice their opposition. Several of us met with and addressed members of the board, and we successfully pushed block tuition’s implementation back to fall 2012. I’m not saying Charles didn’t make the right choice in opposing block tuition at the Board of Trustees meeting. She did. I’m saying I don’t think she would have if not for the mass student resistance to block tuition across campus.
If we’re going to stop block tuition once and for all, we need to remember a central lesson of the civil rights movement: Change doesn’t come from the top.
Provost Joe Glover won’t wake up one day with an epiphany that block tuition is bad for students.
Student Government officials alone won’t stop the attack on working students. If we stop block tuition — and I pray we do — it’s the students alone whom we have to thank.

2011-01-06 "Homeless advocates hand out food to dozens" by Chad Smith from "Gainesville Sun" of Florida
A coalition of advocates for the needy handed out plates of spaghetti, rice, beans, rolls and fruit to dozens of homeless and hungry people on Gainesville's downtown plaza on Thursday evening before walking across the street to City Hall to again ask commissioners to repeal a limit on how many meals soup kitchens can serve.
The Coalition to End the Meal Limit Now — a group of advocates and members representing Students for a Democratic Society, the Civic Media Center, the International Socialist Organization and others — formed in recent months with one goal: getting the meal limit on the St. Francis House repealed.
Per an 18-year-old ordinance that was until recently not enforced, the soup kitchen and shelter at 413 S. Main St. is restricted from serving more than 130 meals a day.
Because the limit doesn't apply to churches or the Salvation Army, St. Francis House is virtually the only organization impacted by the law.
"They want to feed everyone who's there, but they're afraid they're going to lose their permit," Joe Cenker, a 28-year-old member of the coalition, said in an interview on the plaza. "The simplest, easiest solution is just to feed everybody who shows up."
Dozens of people showed up to the plaza at about 5 p.m. in hopes of getting food.
A man who would only identify himself as Jeff S. said he wasn't aware of the reason the coalition was providing the food but agreed that the limit should be lifted.
Jeff, who said he is 57 and has been living in the woods for about four years, said he has been turned away from St. Francis House several times.
Now, clients come early to get in line to be sure they aren't No. 131.
"If you're not one of the first ones lined up, there's no sense in even going," he said.
Katie Walters, a coalition member, told the City Commission she heard a similar story Thursday.
"Luckily, on the Bo Diddley Plaza we were able to serve him," Walters said.
Commissioner Jeanna Mastrodicasa explained that the ordinance was put in place before any of the current commissioners were elected and the St. Francis House itself, on its application for a permit, had listed 130 meals as the daily maximum.
Mastrodicasa said the reason for the 130-meal restriction and other policies involving soup kitchens is to distribute the homeless population in the community so it isn't concentrated downtown.
"What we're trying to do is spread it out," she said. "That's our goal."
Cenker, though, said the coalition is going to keep pressure on the commission until the ordinance is changed.
He added that the group is contacting the American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild about a possible lawsuit.
"We're trying to determine if the ordinance is unconstitutional or what angle we can go at it from," he said.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Protest FBI and Grand Jury Repression!
National Day of Action with International Solidarity
In December 2010, under the direction of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the FBI delivered nine new subpoenas in Chicago to anti-war and Palestine solidarity activists. Patrick Fitzgerald’s office is ordering the nine to appear at a Grand Jury in Chicago on January 25.
In response we are calling for protests on Jan. 25 across the country and around the world to show our solidarity. Hundreds of organizations and thousands of people will be protesting at Federal Buildings, FBI offices, and other appropriate places, showing solidarity with the nine newly subpoenaed activists, and with all the activists whose homes were raided by the FBI.
Fitzgerald’s expanding web of repression already includes the fourteen subpoenaed when the FBI stormed into homes on September 24th, carting away phones, computers, notebooks, diaries, and children’s artwork. In October, all fourteen activists from Chicago, Minneapolis, and Michigan each decided to not participate in the secret proceedings of Fitzgerald’s Grand Jury. Each signed a letter invoking their Fifth Amendment rights. However, three women from Minneapolis—Tracy Molm, Anh Pham, and Sarah Martin—are facing re-activated subpoenas. They are standing strong and we are asking you to stand with them – and with the newly subpoenaed nine activists – by protesting Patrick Fitzgerald and his use of the Grand Jury and FBI to repress anti-war and international solidarity activists.
Defend free speech! Defend the right to organize! Opposing war and occupation is not a crime!
Tell Patrick Fitzgerald to call off the Grand Jury!
Stop FBI raids and repression!
Take Action!
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression
stopfbi (@)

2011-01-19 "Presbyterian Groups Call on U.S. Department of Justice to End Subpoenas on Dissenting Activists" from "Religion News Service":
NEW YORK—The Israel Palestine Mission Network* (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA), The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) and the National Middle East Presbyterian Caucus (NMEPC) oppose the misuse of the grand jury process by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the accompanying FBI raids. The DOJ served a total of nine federal grand jury subpoenas to Chicago area Palestinian solidarity activists in the month of December alone, raising the total subpoenas served to 23. These Presbyterian groups call upon their own denominational leadership, as well as Churches for Middle East Peace, the National Council of Churches and all concerned Christian denominations to join them in denouncing the DOJ's bold attempts to suppress peaceful dissent on the part of those working for an end to the illegal Israeli occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
Jeff Story, a Chicago attorney and member of the IPMN, points out "the time for all Americans to speak up about these encroachments on our constitutional right to dissent is now. We must not wait until Presbyterians who are Palestinian solidarity peacemakers receive the 'knock on the door'." Story, who is also a member of the National Lawyers Guild Free Palestine Subcommittee, adds that Christians, to our discredit, did not adequately "raise the alarm when the DOJ politically prosecuted Muslim charities and mosques in the recent past" and that "our present response is long overdue."
The Supreme Court's ruling from last June on "material support" for terrorism has enabled the DOJ to conduct these raids, armed with an extremely broad definition of what constitutes "material support." Parallels can be drawn to Schenck v. United States, a 1919 Supreme Court decision that upheld the overbroad definition of espionage and sedition. The DOJ subpoenas from Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald are an infringement on the First Amendment, which upholds the right of free speech, protest and free assembly—one of our most basic rights as Americans.
At its General Assembly in Minneapolis in July 2010, the Presbyterian Church (USA) called upon the United States government, "to exercise strategically its international influence, including making U.S. aid to Israel contingent upon Israel's compliance with international law and peacemaking efforts." Rev. Jeffrey DeYoe, Advocacy Chairperson for the IPMN, adds: "As the Presbyterian Church (USA) and other denominations begin to take courageous stands against U.S. military support of violations of human rights in the OPT, all Christians should be concerned about judicial efforts to silence fellow citizens opposing unjust policy."
Of special concern are DOJ demands that activists in the U.S. be forced to reveal names of those who seek peaceful change in Palestine. This process has been described as a "fishing expedition" in which the DOJ looks for ways to prosecute activists without legal grounds.
The IPMN, the PPF and the NMEPC are deeply concerned that solidarity activists, through this misuse of the grand jury process, may soon be facing imprisonment for refusing to allow themselves to be compelled to name names of fellow activists here at home, and in the OPT. If this process is carried forward and church workers are similarly subpoenaed, this could threaten partnerships between American churches and Palestinian Christians striving for justice.
These Presbyterian groups call upon all concerned Christian bodies to act with peace, love and courage to affirm our nation's higher good, as well as God's highest law.
*The General Assembly of PC(USA) mandated IPMN, who speaks TO the Church not FOR the Church.
Rev. Dr. Jeff DeYoe—

Thursday, January 20, 2011

UC Privatization Will Shut Out Thousands of Working Class Students

2011-01-20 "Yudof warns of a more exclusive UC" by Nanette Asimov from "San Francisco Chronicle"
University of California will shut out tens of thousands of qualified students over the next decade as deep budget cuts force the nation's premier public university to become more exclusive, UC President Mark Yudof told the regents Wednesday in San Diego.
UC is staring at a budget gap of at least $1 billion next year, half of which is expected to come from reduced state funding for 2011-12. The rest, Yudof said, will be from unavoidable expenses: higher negotiated salaries, rising energy costs, millions in pension contributions and more.
After three years of deep cuts, Yudof said, something dramatic will have to give.
"The moment is fast approaching when the university will no longer be able to guarantee admission to all California applicants who meet the eligibility criteria," the central tenet of the state's 50-year-old Master Plan for Higher Education, Yudof said.
It will be "a bleak milestone, not just for the university, but for all of California," he said.
Yudof estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 qualified students will be turned away because UC won't have the money to educate them.
The regents learned that if California's budget crisis forces state lawmakers to reduce UC's budget by at least $500 million for 2011-12, as expected, its public funding will drop to what it was in the late 1990s - except that UC now enrolls at least 73,000 more students, has a new campus in Merced and offers far more doctoral and other programs than it did a dozen years ago.
Fewer courses -
Besides turning away students, UC is likely to lay off more employees next year, offer fewer courses, reduce financial aid and enroll more out-of-state students who pay higher tuition than in-state students, said Yudof, who will propose specific cuts in March after hearing from each campus' chancellor.
"I feel like a passenger on the Titanic being told by the captain how long it'll take before the boat sinks," lamented Regent Rex Hime, who suggested pushing Congress to tax Internet sales so the money could be set aside for higher education.
Regent Sherry Lansing agreed that identifying new funding sources is crucial.
Although UC's total budget is a hefty $21 billion, about 70 percent is unavailable for UC's "core" education mission because it comes from medical centers, research grants and other restricted sources.
Less than $3 billion comes from the state and, for the first time next year, UC expects to take in more from tuition than from tax dollars.
Former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom - now lieutenant governor and a regent - suggested asking faculty, staff and students for ideas on how to raise money other than increasing tuition.
The regents have raised tuition nearly every year since 2002, more than tripling it since then to $11,124 for fall 2011.
"We will not stand for another round of fee increases," Claudia Magaña, president of the UC Student Association, told the regents.
The regents declared UC's declining fortunes "scary," "tragic" and "disappointing."
'Save UC Fund' -
But it was Regent George Marcus who interrupted the litany of woe.
"We're really great at talking, but it's about time we acted!" he announced, his voice rising with excitement. "I'm going to kick off the 'Save UC Fund' right now!"
Whereupon he offered $100,000. "Let's do it! Let's get a campaign going! I'm serious!" Marcus said.
He proposed that UC ask its 1.3 million alumni to contribute $1,000 apiece, to raise more than $1 billion.
Tapping alumni for help is a good idea, said Regent Richard Blum, because "you can talk to Sacramento until you're blue in the face" without getting more money.
Even so, Regents Russ Gould and Monica Lozano vowed a "dogfight" in Sacramento against the $500 million hit.
In a bit of ironic timing, the regents also agreed that each campus should use a more expensive method of evaluating applicants.
They voted to expand the use of "holistic review," now employed at UC Berkeley and UCLA. Many top-tier universities also use it to examine a range of student achievements and then assign a score to each applicant.
But extensive training is required for application readers, and the method costs more than the current system.
Yudof said expanding holistic review was "appropriate for UC" because of its diverse range of applicants.
Justice for Guy Jarreau, jr.!!!
Community Assembly and Rally
1:00 p.m., Friday, January 28, 2010
321 Tuolumne Street , Vallejo , Solano County District Attorney's Office
Vallejo Police killing of Guy Jarreau, jr.
CONTACT: Verrose.Hill (@) hotmail .com, 707-235-6872

In front of the Solano County District Attorney's Office and Service and Justice Center there will be a community rally calling on the District Attorney to conduct a full investigation into the fatal shooting of Guy Jarreau jr. by the Vallejo Police Department in December of 2010. The event will be open to the press, and there will be knowledgeable and concerned community members available to speak about the case and the call for Justice for Guy Jarreau, jr., a man who worked for peace in the community and was an active student at Napa Valley College, working with the Black Student Union and at the Child Daycare center.

A central demand of the community is that all evidence, including video taped footage of the nights events documenting the incident of Guy’s killing, be made available for a full and comprehensive investigation by the District Attorney or the California Attorney General. At this time video tape evidence from the incident is being withheld by the Vallejo Police Department, and there are contradictory accounts between the police who say Guy had pointed a weapon at an officer, versus eye witness testimony stating that Guy kept his weapon in his belt and had only a green plastic cup in his hand.

We, the concerned residents of the community and our fellow people, are demanding that justice be done by exposing the truth of what occurred that fatal night in December on Sonoma Blvd. All evidence from video taped recordings as well as eye witness testimony must be considered in a full investigation by the District Attorney or the California Attorney General. If the police department has done their job according to the law, then they have nothing to hide by releasing the tape for use in a full investigation by the DA.

We further ask that the paramedics who arrived at the seen come forward with their statements.
We ask for the police dispatch recordings.
We ask for any witnesses to issue statements.
We ask that Vallejo Police issue their officers with ear-bud bluetooth video cameras.
We ask for a Citizen review panel.

Endorsed by,
God First
Black Student Union, and UMOJA, of Napa Valley College
Students for a Democratic Society of Napa Valley College
Peace and Freedom Party of Solano County
Oscar Grant Committee for Justice
Katrina's Dream
Movement for a Democratic Society - East Bay

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Napa Valley State Hospital is becoming a prison

"Safety Now Coalition" Press Conference To Protest Murders & Injuries of Napa State Hospital Workers
Hundreds of Napa State Hospital workers from AFSCME Local 2620, SEIU 1000,CAPT, UAPD, rallied on 1/19/2011 to demand proper health and safety conditions.
The murder of shychiatric technician Donna Gross and hospitalization of rehabilitation therapist George Anderson for skull fractures have taken place recently but there has been an ongoing pattern of murders and assaults.
Hospital managers and the State have refused to take remedial action to correct the dangers. In the second quarter of 2010 there were 200 attacks on hospital staff and in 2009 there were 1580 crimes reported at Napa State Hospital.
For further information about the "Safety Now Coalition" contact Sue Wilson 510-926-0408 or Peter Feng 415-323-8582
Production Of Labor Video Project

2011-01-01 "Violence at state hospitals spurs calls for change" from "Los Angeles Times" newspaper

Reporting from San Francisco —
Among proposals are high-security units for the most predatory patients and expedited hearings to involuntarily medicate the violent. With most patients having committed crimes, 'you have to be somewhere between a hospital and a prison,' a union official says.
For years, the number of patients in the state's mental hospitals who have committed crimes has been rising. Today, they represent more than 90% of the population.
That dramatic trend has brought an increasing level of violence to the hospitals, including vicious attacks on patients and hospital employees.‬‪ As assaults rose, staff members privately urged state officials to improve security at the hospitals to no avail, documents show.
But the slaying of a Napa State Hospital psychiatric technician two months ago has emboldened angry employees to go public with their demands.‬‪ The outcry has captured the attention of at least three state lawmakers who plan to press for significant changes.
Two of them toured Napa's aging campus last week and have called on incoming Gov. Jerry Brown "to immediately allocate the necessary resources to secure the hospital."‬‪ The third, state Sen. Sam Blakeslee (R- San Luis Obispo), has met numerous times over the years with employees at Atascadero State Hospital and said he was shocked by the rising degree of danger.
"This level of violence is unacceptable," he said.‬‪
The unions that represent hospital employees are working together to craft legislation that calls for high-security units at each hospital to house the most predatory patients, expedited hearings to involuntarily medicate those who are violent and a streamlined process to transfer dangerous criminals sent for treatment by the corrections system back to prison.‬‪
More fundamentally, the violence is spurring a debate on the viability of the mental hospital system's core philosophy — to maintain a treatment environment that does not resemble prison.‬‪
"The days when Grandpa's a little crazy and ended up at Napa State Hospital for a while, those days are gone," said Brad Leggs, the facility president for the California Assn. of Psychiatric Technicians. "Now we have a barbed wire fence up and we have police officers guarding the perimeter. There's a prison mentality."
Although it's essential to "keep the treatment in place," Leggs said, "you have to be somewhere between a hospital and a prison."
‬‪Blakeslee agrees.
"There needs to be capacity to handle patients who are not completely right for a pure corrections system or a pure therapeutic setting," he said.‬‪
The debate comes as some clinicians question the use of cages at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville, northeast of San Francisco, to restrict the movement of dangerous mentally ill prisoners during therapy sessions.
The state mental hospitals have already moved toward more patient freedoms. Even as they receive more patients from prison who are too sick to be treated there or can't be accommodated, hospital police remain unarmed and don't visit units unless called in a crisis‬‪.
The hospitals have been subject to a federal court judgment to improve care since 2006.
But a review of data through mid-2010 shows overall increases in patient and staff assaults at the four facilities under federal monitoring. In addition to Atascadero and Napa, those include Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk and Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino.
‬‪In the mid-1990s, four-fifths of the patients were committed by the civil courts. At Napa, they wore their own clothes and went on outings to see the city's Christmas lights. Today, more than 90% of patients are there because they committed crimes.
Many arrive with gang affiliations, hard-to-treat antisocial personality disorders and predatory behavior, staff and mental health officials say.‬‪ The rise in violence at Napa has been particularly acute.
Attacks on staff in the second quarter of 2010 doubled to about 200 compared with the same period of 2009, and patient assaults against one another soared about sixfold to 692, state data show. The hospital's buildings, some from the 1800s, are scattered across a bucolic campus in a rambling way that makes control difficult.
Dr. Richard Frishman, a Napa State Hospital psychiatrist, works in an office that is tucked out of sight. In 2008, he was beaten by a patient, his wrist broken and his eye blackened.
"I never know if the next time I walk out of my office it's going to be my last," he said.‬‪ The alarm carried by a colleague who was with Fishman failed to go off.
Staffers have called for an improved system. The current one does not work outdoors, where 54-year-old Donna Gross, the first staff member killed in the hospital system in two decades, was strangled.‬‪
Staff members stress that patients are victimized more often than staff.
"We believe you can't possibly treat an individual who is highly aggressive without sufficient security enhancements," said Dr. Patricia Tyler, a psychiatrist at Napa who is working on behalf of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists to help design proposed fixes to the system.
‪Key among them is a high-security unit at each hospital that would place the most predatory patients in a more rigid environment with specially trained staff and a regular officer presence.
Documents show that a unit was retrofitted for that purpose at Napa in 2006 and had the approval of hospital management, but was derailed in part over a labor dispute.‬‪ Another proposal would require that hearing officers come to the hospitals within 72 hours to decide whether dangerous patients who arrive from jails as "incompetent to stand trial" can be medicated against their will.
The process now takes as long as three months, Tyler said.‬‪ Yet another proposal would make "gassing" of staff — the throwing of feces, urine or other bodily fluids — a felony. It is already a felony for state prisoners.‬‪
The federal consent judgment demanded a shift in treatment to what is known as a "recovery model," a patient-based form of care that has included a push to reduce the use of restraints, seclusion rooms, some medication cocktails and one-to-one supervision of patients.‬‪ Many staff members say the changes have been implemented in a way that has reduced safety, an allegation that administrators deny.
Although there are efforts to reward good behavior, attempts to withhold rewards because of bad behavior have been discouraged.‬‪
"A 3-year-old gets put in time out or grounded for a week. These guys don't get any consequences," said Kathleen Thomas-Morris, a nurse at Napa .‬
‪The Department of Mental Health, which runs the hospitals, has not taken a position on the proposals, said spokeswoman Jennifer Turner, but is "committed to providing technical assistance and working with legislators to understand the impact of the issues."‬‪
At Napa, administrators have withdrawn all patient grounds passes while reworking the system by which they are awarded. They are poised to implement a "grounds patrol" staffed by psychiatric technicians and are taking measures to clear some trees and shrubs, Turner said.‬‪
Staff memos have described extensive contraband activities and fights on the grounds.‬‪ Results of a security audit are expected soon, and Turner said hospital officials are meeting with employees and unions to gather suggestions before the next legislative budget session.‬‪
Blakeslee said he is committed to legislation calling for high-security units and making "gassing" a felony. State Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) and Assemblyman Michael Allen (D-Santa Rosa), who recently visited Napa, are talking to employee groups.
"One thing I take very seriously is my responsibility for oversight," Evans said.‬‪ Allen, a onetime psychiatric nurse, has called for immediate fixes, including more fencing and video cameras.
The freshman lawmaker, who landed on the budget committee, hopes to take the members of the panel and the new governor on a tour of the facility.
"We have a bad budget situation," he said, "but when you have people being killed, people being harmed, that's not a savings."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011-01-16 Lio comic strip

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2011-01-12 "California's higher education in line for big budget hit under Brown's proposals" by Laurel Rosenhall from "Sacramento Bee" newspaper
While last budget season, California's public universities were the only major area of government to see an increase in state funding, higher education is now in line to take a big hit – 16 percent if Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal comes to pass.
Brown on Monday proposed cutting $500 million each from the University of California and the California State University systems and another $400 million from community colleges. The announcement came as no surprise to college leaders, who say the newly elected governor told them last month to brace for reductions.
Brown's proposal marks the starting point for months of negotiations. But it's already clear that the impact of any cuts on students, parents and college employees will vary among the three segments of California's higher education system.
Community colleges -
To offset a portion of the cuts, Brown has proposed raising fees from $26 to $36 a unit, which means a full-time student would pay $1,080 per school year starting this fall – a 38 percent rise.
Community college leaders have historically opposed increasing fees for students at the state's 112 campuses, but response to Brown's proposal this week was muted.
"Reality has set in," said Terri Carbaugh, spokeswoman for the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office.
"For years we were fighting to be a free institution where you could just walk on and go to class. But our state budget just won't support that. And we're hearing from our own students: 'I will pay a little more if I could just get my math class and move on and get my degree.' "
Community college leaders aren't yet committing to how large an increase they will support, Carbaugh said, but they're open to the idea of raising fees.
It's a suggestion the state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office has been pushing for years, arguing that higher fees would bring more money to the colleges without hurting poor and middle-income students.
Students from families that earn up to $65,000 a year qualify for waivers and don't pay any fees. Students from families earning up to $160,000 will get a full refund on their fees through federal tax credits, said Steve Boilard, the LAO's director of higher education.
"Our argument is: (The state's) just leaving this federal money on the table," Boilard said.
California State University
The higher-ed budget roller coaster is likely to have an impact on enrollment at the 23 CSU campuses and could leave students facing a real squeeze to get in next year.
Last school year, CSU responded to state budget cuts by slashing enrollment by 30,000 students, largely by shutting the doors on those who wanted to transfer. This school year, CSU got a funding bump – and admitted tens of thousands of new students to meet enrollment targets that came with the increase. But with the budget likely to go down again next year, enrollment could too.
"The big swings up and down year to year really complicate good management of a university," said Robert Turnage, CSU's assistant vice chancellor for budget.
Turnage said officials will have to consider lots of ways to save money next year – including cuts to the number of students they admit for fall 2011 and spring 2012.
CSU employees are also likely to feel the budget cuts, he said, though it's too soon to say whether that would be in the form of furloughs, layoffs, pay cuts or reduced benefits. But with benefits and payroll making up 85 percent of CSU's expenditures, Turnage said, "we have to reduce the amount we're spending on salaries and benefits."
University of California -
The state's premier university system has been gradually reducing enrollment over a few years, but it never implemented the massive cuts – and additions – seen at CSU. Vast enrollment changes are unlikely at UC campuses next year, though the number of new freshmen may go down slightly, said Patrick Lenz, vice president for budget.
He said UC may also respond to its budget cut by admitting more undergraduates from outside California, who pay much higher tuition.
UC President Mark Yudof said he has asked UC's 10 chancellors to come back with plans by March 1 on how they will reduce budgets on their campuses. He said he's reluctant to raise tuition or reduce financial aid but can't make any promises until he's assessed the proposals.
"The physics of the situation cannot be denied," Yudof said. "As the core budget shrinks, so must the university."
UC Santa Cruz student Claudia Magaña said she's already seen the impact of earlier cuts. One of her classes of 350 students used to have six teaching assistants, she said, and now has three. That's left each TA with so many papers to grade that the professor no longer assigns essays as homework. Instead, students do brief in-class writing assignments, Magaña said.
Students are organizing their annual lobbying day at the state Capitol for the end of February, Magaña said, as well as planning campus protests in March.
"Right now everyone is trying to understand what the budget means," she said. "And if there's any chance of fighting it."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2011-01-09 "Protesters march for Wikileaks founder Assange"

By JENNA BROGAN from "Santa Cruz Sentinel" newspaper
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
SANTA CRUZ -- Around 50 protesters raised signs and marched in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and whistle-blower Pfc. Bradley Manning at Saturday at the Town Clock on Pacific Avenue.
Hoping to publicize their disdain for the prosecution of the two men responsible for the disclosure of U.S. classified information, protest organizer Steven Argue of Santa Cruz and the Coalition to Free Julian Assange and Bradley Manning distributed 3,000 fliers and gathered for the second time in two weeks.
"Freedom of speech and press are being violated," said Argue. "It's no crime to expose war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan -- these wars are extreme in their torture and destruction; we're not being told what's going on."
Manning is an Army intelligence analyst who's suspected of supplying WikiLeaks with classified information. He is in a maximum-security military brig at Quantico, Va., charged with leaking video of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed a Reuters news photographer and his driver. WikiLeaks posted the video on its website in April of last year. Three months later, WikiLeaks posted some 90,000 leaked U.S. military records on the war in Afghanistan, including unreported incidents of Afghan civilian killings as well as covert operations against Taliban figures.
Assange is currently out on bail in Britain, where he is fighting extradition to Sweden on sex crimes allegations. His next hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.
Some of the protesters traveled from as far as Napa County to participate. Representatives from Students for a Democratic Society, Movement for a Democratic Society, the Oscar Grant Committee and the Peace and Freedom Party were also in attendance.
"[Manning] is being made a criminal when he's a hero," said Frank Runninghorse of Concord. "He risked his life to protect this country, and if we don't oppose this, we're accomplices."
Though the group was concentrated at the Town Clock, eventually some of the protesters tried to march down Pacific Avenue.
"At times they created a bit of a traffic problem," said Santa Cruz police Capt. Steve Clark. "But the march was largely unsuccessful."
Their passion was not squelched, though.
For Stan Woods, the need to take a stand motivated him to drive from Oakland to attend.
"If Assange can be prosecuted, so should the editor of The New York Times and The Guardian in Britain," he said of the papers that have printed the Wikileaks revelations. "This is a huge step toward becoming a police state."
Ruth Valdez of Aptos hoped the protesters' visibility on Pacific Avenue would at least draw attention to the issue and their solidarity for the "heroic whistle-blowers." Judging by the number of cars that honked as they drove by, they certainly got the attention they were looking for.
"I'm happy to see that all these people came out," said Woody Wood of Santa Cruz. "If you can cover up the truth, that's scary."

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011-01-07 "New Year’s Day vigil commemorates Oscar Grant killing" by Judy Greenspan from "San Francisco Bay View" newspaper
Bay Area activist and writer Judy Greenspan, whose work often appears on Workers World, can be reached at
Oakland – Over 100 family members, religious leaders and community supporters held a prayer vigil and speak-out on New Year’s Day in front of the Fruitvale BART station to commemorate the second anniversary of the BART police killing of Oscar Grant, a young Black man. Grant’s murder sparked a series of protests and rebellions throughout California and around the country. Today’s rally also focused attention on the murder of Derrick Jones and others killed by the police.
The vigil was led by Grant’s uncle, “Uncle Bobby,” Cephus Johnson. Johnson has worked tirelessly since Grant’s murder by BART policeman Johannes Mehserle to bring a coalition together to fight for justice for all people impacted by police brutality.
Uncle Bobby thanked the crowd for coming out today to demand justice for Oscar Grant. “It’s the community that enables us to continue. We believe you represent justice and not just for Oscar Grant,” he stated.
Speakers at the vigil included Wanda Johnson, Grant’s mother, and several members of his family. “I want the police to take responsibility for taking my son’s life and all the other lives,” Johnson said. The family was very upset when Mehserle received a light sentence of two years for killing Grant, who was unarmed and restrained, on the BART platform in the early hours of the morning on Jan. 1, 2009.
Several religious leaders also spoke today. Minister Keith Muhammad of Mosque 26B, located in East Oakland, spoke eloquently about who is to blame for Grant’s death. He noted that it’s not just one bad cop; it’s the entire system that’s to blame. He called on everyone to show with their “deeds” that they are fighting for justice. “We are all Oscar Grant,” Muhammad concluded.
According to Uncle Bobby, Grant’s case is now before the U.S. Department of Justice. He called upon everyone to keep organizing and bring pressure on the Justice Department. “By standing together and having one voice, they will be forced to listen to us,” Grant’s uncle stated.
The family of Derrick Jones, another young unarmed Black man killed by the police in Oakland, expressed their solidarity with the Grant family and the fight against police brutality. The father of Derrick Jones stated, “We are going to continue this movement for justice. The spotlight is on Oakland and justice will be served.”
Many of Oscar Grant’s family members and friends were introduced and brought to the front of the rally, including his daughter Tatiana, his sister, his nephew and Jack Bryson, a close family friend and another moving force behind the movement for justice for Oscar Grant and all victims of police brutality.
A community speak-out was held following the vigil. Dave Welsh, a local leader of the Bail Out the People Movement and a member of the Grant committee, invited everyone to attend the next meeting of the Oscar Grant Committee to Stop Police Brutality (OGC), which will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 7 p.m., at the Niebyl Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave., North Oakland. The OGC meets every second and fourth Tuesday.
The New Year’s vigil was organized by the OGC, ONYX, New Year’s Movement for Justice, Community Action Project and many other groups.
2011-01-07 "New Year’s Day vigil commemorates Oscar Grant killing" by Judy Greenspan from "San Francisco Bayview" newspaper
Bay Area activist and writer Judy Greenspan, whose work often appears on Workers World, can be reached at
Oakland – Over 100 family members, religious leaders and community supporters held a prayer vigil and speak-out on New Year’s Day in front of the Fruitvale BART station to commemorate the second anniversary of the BART police killing of Oscar Grant, a young Black man. Grant’s murder sparked a series of protests and rebellions throughout California and around the country. Today’s rally also focused attention on the murder of Derrick Jones and others killed by the police.
The vigil was led by Grant’s uncle, “Uncle Bobby,” Cephus Johnson. Johnson has worked tirelessly since Grant’s murder by BART policeman Johannes Mehserle to bring a coalition together to fight for justice for all people impacted by police brutality.
Uncle Bobby thanked the crowd for coming out today to demand justice for Oscar Grant. “It’s the community that enables us to continue. We believe you represent justice and not just for Oscar Grant,” he stated.
Speakers at the vigil included Wanda Johnson, Grant’s mother, and several members of his family. “I want the police to take responsibility for taking my son’s life and all the other lives,” Johnson said. The family was very upset when Mehserle received a light sentence of two years for killing Grant, who was unarmed and restrained, on the BART platform in the early hours of the morning on Jan. 1, 2009.
Several religious leaders also spoke today. Minister Keith Muhammad of Mosque 26B, located in East Oakland, spoke eloquently about who is to blame for Grant’s death. He noted that it’s not just one bad cop; it’s the entire system that’s to blame. He called on everyone to show with their “deeds” that they are fighting for justice. “We are all Oscar Grant,” Muhammad concluded.
According to Uncle Bobby, Grant’s case is now before the U.S. Department of Justice. He called upon everyone to keep organizing and bring pressure on the Justice Department. “By standing together and having one voice, they will be forced to listen to us,” Grant’s uncle stated.
The family of Derrick Jones, another young unarmed Black man killed by the police in Oakland, expressed their solidarity with the Grant family and the fight against police brutality. The father of Derrick Jones stated, “We are going to continue this movement for justice. The spotlight is on Oakland and justice will be served.”
Many of Oscar Grant’s family members and friends were introduced and brought to the front of the rally, including his daughter Tatiana, his sister, his nephew and Jack Bryson, a close family friend and another moving force behind the movement for justice for Oscar Grant and all victims of police brutality.
A community speak-out was held following the vigil. Dave Welsh, a local leader of the Bail Out the People Movement and a member of the Grant committee, invited everyone to attend the next meeting of the Oscar Grant Committee to Stop Police Brutality (OGC), which will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 7 p.m., at the Niebyl Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave., North Oakland. The OGC meets every second and fourth Tuesday.
The New Year’s vigil was organized by the OGC, ONYX, New Year’s Movement for Justice, Community Action Project and many other groups.

Oscar Grant’s “Uncle Bobby,” Cephus Johnson, and his mother, Wanda Johnson, recall the young man, their son and nephew, that their very close-knit family adored. Oscar lives now only in memory since his life was stolen by racist BART cops on New Year’s 2009. – Photo: Judy Greenspan
Derrick Jones’ father calls for accountability by the Oakland police, a goal his family had pursued for many years prior to the murder of his son. – Photo: Judy Greenspan
Minister Keith Muhammad, who has worked closely with Oscar Grant’s family since Oscar’s murder, spoke passionately at the vigil. Cephus Johnson, Oscar’s Uncle Bobby, is at the left, his mother, Wanda Johnson is just behind Minister Keith, and Oscar’s fiancée, Sophina Mesa, is at the far right. – Photo: Judy Greenspan

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011-01-02 "2nd Anniversary of Oscar Grants Foul Killing marked by Vigil/Rally at Fruitvale BART"

by "OGC" organizer FRH:
On new years day, 2011, a racially diverse crowd of 150-175 people marked Oscars murder at the hands of BART police with statements from Grant family members, reminiscences of Oscar and pledges from family and community alike to carry on and intensify the struggle to get justice for all of the many victims of unjust police violence.
The Vigil/ Rally was called by the Grant family with solidarity from the family of Derrick Jones, another unarmed black man from the east Oakland neighborhood near Fruitvale BART who was recently shot up and killed by the OPD.
The "Oscar Grant Committee, to Stop Police Brutality and State Repression" that includes Oscars 'Uncle Bobby' and family friend Jack Bryson among its active members played a prominent role in organizing and sponsoring the event.
The event was organized in a little over two weeks time, using the OGC's and Grant family's network of contacts.
The first part of the action was a candlelight vigil focusing on members of the Grant Family including Oscars mother Wanda was MC'ed by Uncle Bobby.
This was a collective sharing of grief and love with several prayers offered by ministers of different faiths including both christian and the NOI [Nation of Islam] minister Keith Mohammed.
Frank Jones, father of the slain Derrick Jones also spoke passionately and made common cause with the Grant family and vowed that this is only the beginning of a struggle for justice.
The well known attorney John Burris spoke on the epidemic of unjust police killing cases that have come to his office recently.
Dan Siegle the attorney from the National Lawyers Guild who is working with the OGC and recently helped to defend the 152 protesters arrested in Oakland on Nov. 6th also spoke.
During the 2nd part of the event ,Uncle Bobby turned it over to OGC organizers, who broke out colorful OGC and SDS [Students for a Democratic Society] picket signs and distributed them throughout the crowd.
The signs touched on the rallies themes, included: 'We Are Oscar Grant', 'Jail Killer Cops', 'Stop Police Terror', 'A Injury To One ,Is An Injury To All' , 'Without Struggle, There Is No Justice' and a series of signs that said 'Stop Police Brutality, Justice For ______' , with the blank spot filled in either with 'Oscar' or one of the other unarmed victims of lethal police violence that the OGC has voted to fight for such as Derrick Jones, Martin Cotton, and Guy Jarreau.
Several active OGC members/leaders including Lesley Phillips, Dave Welsh and Elizabeth Addams spoke on the groups organizing projects and battles for justice.
Lesley informed the gathering of the recent Vallejo police killing of a returning black NVC [Napa Vally College] student during a film project that the OGC is looking into and working with locals on.
OGC members encouraged the gathering to join with them and car pool down to Santa Cruz on Sat., Jan.8th to protest the unjust 'State Repression' focused on the heroic whistle blowers, Bradley Manning and Wiki-leaks Julian Assange.
Other community and political organizations spoke or slammed some poetry during the open mike time or were present to show solidarity including the Grey Panthers, BAMN [By Any Means Necessary], the IBT [International Bolshevik Tendency], the ISO [International Socialist Organization], the Diablo SDS/MDS [Movement for a Democratic Society], Berkley Liberation Radio, America Needs To Know [public tv program], Peace & Freedom Party, Speak Out, and the Green Party among others.
Members of the OGC presented small bunch's of picket signs to the Grant and Jones family's that said "We Are Oscar Grant" and "Stop Police Brutality, Justice For Derrick Jones".
They were warmly and gratefully received.
The two dozen police squad cars and armored personnel carrier staged around the corner had no call to move against the peaceful action and even the gods seemed to be smiling on us, as the rain clouds broke apart and the sun came out just long enough to conclude the rally.
Unlike our previous 3 events which got drenched.
All in all , I'll call it a peoples victory and a great way to start the new year off, uniting the the people and fighting for justice.
I'm very proud of all the brave street solders that shook off their new years hangovers, disregarded the rain clouds, feared not the the shadowy police state presence and came out to stand up for justice on new years day.
Stop Police Terror
We Are Oscar Grant
We are Derrick Jones

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011-01 "Fresno Police Officers Beat Homeless Man" from the "Fresno Community Alliance" newspaper
In February 2009, Fresno police officers Jeff Gross and Scott Payn were caught on videotape beating Glen Beaty. Beaty, who was homeless at the time, had been sleeping under a tree before the incident in which the police are seen hitting him repeatedly in the face.
The officers were not arrested for using excessive force. Instead, Beaty was arrested and put into the Fresno County Jail. Police Chief Jerry Dyer claimed Beaty had attacked his officers. It took an ACLU lawsuit to force the FPD to release the names of the officers involved. Despite the public accusations by Dyer, Beaty was never charged with a crime in the incident.
Beaty remained in the Fresno County Jail for eight months and was then transferred to the Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, California, where he is confined against his will to this day. Last month, it was announced that a lawsuit Beaty filed against the City of Fresno was being settled by his court-appointed guardian for $75,000. There is no indication that Beaty has approved this settlement. His legal counsel expects Beaty to be restored to mental competency and returned to Fresno in April 2011.
Some legal observers say that it was “fortunate” for the city of Fresno to settle this case with Beaty’s guardian just before Beaty is to be released. One attorney told the Community Alliance that if this case had gone to court, the city probably would have had to pay more than one million dollars. A hearing on the settlement is scheduled for January 10.

ACLU Files Complaint about the Fresno County Jail -
The Fresno chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has requested an investigation of practices in the Fresno County Jail that they say are violating prisoners’ civil and human rights. They say that inmates with mental health issues are not being given their prescribed medications, and that is affecting their ability to assist in their legal defense. A lawsuit in Fresno Superior Court claims that the withholding of psychiatric medication also has resulted in the injury of an inmate.
The ACLU letter went to the Medical Board of California Central Complaint Unit, the Board of Psychology and the Fresno County Grand Jury. The letter says, in part:
The significance of these failures cannot be overstated. They result in psychiatric treatment that is below the standard of care, failure to competently diagnose and competently treat psychotic mental disorders, and failure to give informed consent of treatment options for mental disorders. From a Constitutional standpoint, all of these factors contribute to unnecessary suffering and deny the inmate a right to participate in his own defense. Therefore, in the spirit of our mission statement, which supports the program of the ACLU-NC intending to defend, maintain, and extend the civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, and by the Constitution of the State of California, we request your agency undertake a formal review of these issues.

The letter continues:
County jails appear to meet the definition of “mental health facility, program, or service” set forth in Welfare and Institution Code § 5500(c). This definition includes “any publicly operated or supported mental health facility or program . . . and publicly supported agencies providing . . . mental health services to mentally disabled clients.” Similarly, the United States Supreme Court has held that the Americans With Disabilities Act applies to state prisons because prisons provide “services, programs, or activities” within the meaning of the ADA. The involuntary nature of incarceration does not affect the application of the ADA to inmates. (See Yeskey v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (1998) 524 U.S. 206.) In evaluating the current situation at the County jail, the ACLU board regards the discussion of prisoner medical care by our Supreme Court as prescient:
An inmate must rely on prison authorities to treat his medical needs; if the authorities fail to do so, those needs will not be met. In the worst cases, such a failure may actually produce “physical torture or a lingering death,” the evils of the most immediate concern to the drafters of the [Eighth] Amendment. In less serious cases, denial of medical care may result in pain and suffering which no one suggests would serve any penological purpose. The infliction of such unnecessary suffering is inconsistent with contemporary standards of decency. . . . (Estelle v. Gamble (1976) 429, U.S. 97, 103, cited by Plata v. Schwarzenegger (9th Cir. 2009) 560 F.3d. 976).
There are reasons to believe that current staff members at the Fresno County Jail withhold or change medications for inmates who have been diagnosed with needs for specific psychotropic medications, with the intention of reducing operational costs. These “budget-cutting” efforts, it is argued, are putting inmates’ lives at risk and affecting their ability to assist competently in their legal defense.

City Attorney Says Fresno Doesn’t Have Enough Money to Harass the Homeless -
The Fresno Bee reported last month that City Attorney Jim Sanchez said, “We’ve ceased to prosecute ‘quality of life’ violations. We no longer have the resources.” Sanchez was referring to quality of life violations such as the city ordinance that prohibits homeless people from asking for money from median islands.
The ordinance, passed in 2010, allowed nonprofits and other groups to use the median islands once or twice a year but made it virtually impossible for the homeless to get a permit. A homeless person would have to pay a fee, have insurance, wear a safety vest and more. Homeless advocates claimed the ordinance was a transparent attempt to make them less visible to the community. It also had the effect of making it more difficult for the homeless to get the money they need to survive.
City Council member Larry Westerlund, who pushed the ordinance through the council, said that he was surprised by Sanchez’s comments and that he thought the city should continue to prosecute anyone who violates quality of life regulations. Sanchez said the changes were made necessary because his office faces a $500,000 budget cut after January 1.

Good News for the Homeless -
A City of Fresno trash bin has been put at the homeless encampment at Santa Clara and E street in downtown Fresno. The homeless, who live outside the gate of the Poverello House, have been requesting a trash bin for months now, so they can keep their encampment clean.
Thanks to the generous contributions of readers of the Community Alliance newspaper, the trash bin arrived on the day before Christmas Eve. Homeless advocates who have been demanding basic public services for the homeless believe this is a step in the right direction. Community Alliance newspaper editor Mike Rhodes said that “this is not going to end homelessness, but it will provide the homeless with a little more dignity as they wait for the city to fulfill their promise of housing the homeless.”

Donations to help pay for the trash bin can be sent to the Community Alliance, P.O. Box 5077, Fresno CA 93755 (note that it is for the homeless). Every dollar donated will go to benefit the homeless. If enough money is donated, portable toilets will be set up at the encampment.

Glen Beaty, victim of Pig justice