News Release Archive - Legal

Relatives of Chicago Police Victims Oppose Ex-Mayor Rahm Emanuel as Ambassador to Japan

Victims and relatives of victims of police brutality in Chicago while Rahm Emanuel was mayor released a joint statement Thursday against the reported plan by President Biden to nominate Emanuel as the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

“During his eight years in office, Emanuel displayed contempt for communities of color,” says the statement. “He showed callous disregard for terrible losses suffered by the families of those who were killed or brutalized by officers of the Chicago Police Department.”

The 28 signers of the statement declared: “The possibility that Rahm Emanuel will become the U.S. ambassador to Japan is abhorrent to those of us who continue to mourn the loss of our loved ones due to police violence that he aided and abetted as mayor of Chicago. … No president who is truly serious about stopping brutality and murders by police would nominate Rahm Emanuel for an important government post. …. Rahm Emanuel became a symbol of lethal disrespect for Black lives. Making him a U.S. ambassador would make the U.S. government a similar symbol.”

Emanuel was mayor of Chicago from 2011 to 2019.

Five of the signers are willing to talk to journalists:

They are reachable via DELMARIE COBB, dlcobb@thepublicityworks.net

DOROTHY HOLMES
Holmes is the mother of Ronald “Ronnie Man” Johnson, who was shot in the back by CPD the same week that Laquan McDonald was killed in 2014. Video featuring Ms. Holmes is being released today. She says: “Rahm Emanuel covered up the murder of my son.”

AREWA KAREN WINTERS
Winters is the aunt of Pierre Loury, killed by CPD in April 2016. Pierre was shot in the back as he was climbing a fence fleeing from the police. Video featuring Ms. Winters is being released today.

EMMETT FARMER
Farmer is the father of Flint Farmer, killed in June 2011. Police officer Gildardo Sierra shot him in the back three times as he lay on the ground. He didn’t have a weapon. Sierra was involved in multiple shootings as an officer.

KENYATTA BRAND
Brand is the sister of Rekia Boyd, who was killed by off-duty officer Dante Servin in 2012. Servin was drinking, then driving when he saw young people in the park. He shot at one of the young men, killing Rekia. State’s attorney Anita Alvarez undercharged him — manslaughter instead of first or second degree murder — and then the judge pronounced a mistrial instead of requiring the state to charge him correctly.

MARTINEZ SUTTON
Sutton is the brother of Rekia Boyd.

Colombia: La Resistencia

FORREST HYLTON, [currently in Brazil] forresthylton@gmail.com
Hylton teaches history and politics at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia-Medellín. He just wrote the piece “La Resistencia” for the London Review of Books.

He writes: “Long one of Latin America’s most conservative countries, Colombia is undergoing a sea change. The second general strike in as many years evolved rapidly into a nationwide urban insurrection. ‘La Resistencia’ has endured for a month in the teeth of ferocious repression. …

“Soon after the protests started on 28 April, the proposed tax reform package that had triggered the strike was withdrawn, proposed healthcare reforms died in committee, and the finance minister and the foreign minister were forced to step down. There were (toothless) calls for dialogue and de-escalation from the international community. Yet the overwhelmingly non-violent protests have continued, as has the government’s response using deadly force.

Ninis (young people without education or job prospects) from urban peripheries have been the leading force on the barricades and they have faced the brunt of police terror — some of it captured on cell phone videos, including sexual assault, torture and murder — in Bogotá, Medellín, Pereira, Cartago, Buga, Tuluá, Cali, Popayán, Pasto, Bucaramanga and Barranquilla. They and their families account for perhaps half the population, and on the rare occasions they are interviewed, they say things like: ‘We have no future because they have taken everything from us, even fear. We have nothing left to lose.’ This was already true before Covid-19 hit, but lack of basic income support during the pandemic has made daily life impossible.”

Facebook Collaboration with Israeli Military “Beyond Outrageous”

NADIM NASHIF, nadim@7amleh.org@7amleh
DANI NOBLE, via Sonya Meyerson-Knox, sonya@jewishvoiceforpeace.org, @jvplive
Nashif, a Palestinian living in Haifa, is co-founder of 7amleh (pronounced Hamleh), the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, a non-profit organization that advocates for Palestinian digital rights. Nobel is campaign organizer for Jewish Voice for Peace.

The two groups are signers of a letter generated by the new initiative FacebookWeNeedToTalk.org along with a host of other groups including Access Now, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Fight for the Future and BDS France:

“As Palestinian residents defend their homes in Jerusalem from forced dispossession by the Israeli government and state-sanctioned Zionist settler groups, their calls for support have received widespread international attention — inspiring social media campaigns and mass protests around the world. This international outcry only grew after the Israeli military attacked Ramadan worshippers at al-Aqsa mosque and started brutally bombing Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip …

“Facebook executives’ decision at this moment to directly collaborate with Israeli Defense and Justice Minister Gantz on content moderation, without appropriate parity of government engagement until prompted by civil society, is beyond outrageous. …

“In addition, the numerous reports of removal or chilling of political speech that several of our organizations have received over the past two weeks, combined with the report released by 7amleh last week [‘The Attacks on Palestinian Digital Rights,’ PDF] that includes 429 reported incidents from Instagram and Facebook, raise concerns about Facebook’s relationship with the Israeli Ministry of Justice’s extra-legal Cyber Unit. The fact that since May 6 there has been widespread removal of Palestinians’ content or supportive content (including removal of content and deactivation of accounts or pages based on Community Standards violations, as well as the mass removal of Instagram stories) that after review have been restored for lack of any violation, indicates that Facebook is perhaps voluntarily agreeing to takedowns recommended by the Israeli Cyber Unit. This unclear relationship between Facebook and the Israeli Cyber Unit is concerning, as it is not subject to any formal governmental or legal process.”

“Ceasefire” Does Not Mean Israeli Violence Has Stopped

SAREE MAKDISI, makdisi@humnet.ucla.edu, @sareemakdisi
Makdisi’s books include Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation. He is professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA. His pieces include “Apartheid” for Critical Inquiry. He recently wrote the piece “The Nakba Is Now” for The Nation.

He said: “Israel is not dropping bombs. But it is still besieging Gaza; still smothering Palestinian life in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; still repressing its second-class Palestinian citizens; still violently barring the refugees’ right of return. This racial violence must also end.

“Israeli police on both sides of the 1947-67 line are raiding Palestinian homes and dragging people off to dungeons. The line distinguishing ‘Israel’ from ‘the occupied territories’ is meaningless: the same racial violence grips both sides of the line.

“A ceasefire in Palestine means we’re back to the slow suffocation of apartheid and brutal military occupation. As Dickens said in a different context, it’s like being drowned by drops, stung to death by single bees. Slow violence, everyday occupation, is still violence.”

Israel’s Invention of Hijacking and its “Sacred Terrorism”

CNN reports: “Did Belarus ‘hijack’ a civilian airliner to detain an activist?” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki claimed Sunday: “Hijacking of a civilian plane is an unprecedented act of state terrorism. It cannot go unpunished.” Such charges have been echoed by other officials and media, but the statement is inaccurate — Israel originated the practice in 1954 and suffered no legal consequence, see below.

BEAU GROSSCUP, bgrosscup@csuchico.edu
Grosscup is professor emeritus at the department of political science at California State University, Chico. He is author of several books on terrorism, including Terrorism and Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethics of Aerial BombardmentHis latest book is Tell Them What You Want, co-authored with Laverne Merritt-Gordon.

He said today: “The U.S. government is demanding an international investigation here while refusing one for the horrific bombing of Gaza by Israel. It is another instance that the oft quoted ‘one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter’ is a vacuous statement. The U.S. government (and its allies) ‘owns’ the concept terrorism, meaning it tells the global community who the terrorists are and who the freedom fighters are, and has the power to make that distinction meaningful in policy, law, practice, and public opinion.”

Jeremy Scahill tweeted: “If the reports are accurate, Lukashenko’s government forcing this plane to land in an effort to arrest a dissident is a terrible crime. Interesting to contrast this with the Obama admin. forcing Evo Morales’s plane to land in 2013 in an effort to arrest a US dissident, [NSA whistleblower Edward] @Snowden.” See by John Pilger: “Forcing down Evo Morales’s plane was an act of air piracy.”

Israel originated the practice of a state hijacking an airplane in 1954. On Dec. 8 of that year, five Israeli soldiers were captured in Syria, apparently retrieving eavesdropping equipment. On Dec. 12, Israeli jet fighters intercepted a Syrian civilian aircraft flying from Damascus to Egypt, claiming that the plane had violated Israeli airspace.

The following day, the New York Times reported that this “development appears to have given Israel an unexpected position of strength for negotiating the release of Syria’s prisoners.”

Gen. Moshe Dayan was then Israeli Chief of Staff. The Israeli Prime Minister, Moshe Sharett, wrote in his diary, “It is clear that Dayan’s intention…is to get hostages in order to obtain the release of our prisoners in Damascus.”

Contrary to General Dayan’s hopes, no exchange took place. Prime Minister Sharett added that the United States State Department complained that “our action was without precedent in the history of international practice.” See Israel’s Sacred Terrorism by the late Livia Rokach, which has a forward by Noam Chomsky and prefix by Naseer Aruri.

Military Analyst Daniel Hale to Be Sentenced for Exposing Drone Killings to Public

The Washington Post reports “Former intelligence analyst Daniel Hale pleads guilty to leaking classified information.”

JESSELYN RADACK, jess@exposefacts.org@JesselynRadack
Radack serves as Hale’s whistleblower attorney. She heads the Whistleblower and Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts and is quoted in the Post article.
She said today: “Hale is not a spy. He was accused of giving an investigative journalist truthful information in the public interest about the U.S. drone warfare program. That information revealed gross human rights violations, and that drones were more deadly and less accurate than the U.S. presented publicly. Ninety percent of people killed were not the intended target — including an American father and teenage son. Articles, books, and documentaries featuring his disclosures have won numerous awards.”

Radack’s work focuses on the issues of secrecy, surveillance, torture, and drones, where she has been at the forefront of challenging the government’s unprecedented war on whistleblowers. Among her clients are national security and intelligence community employees who have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act for allegedly mishandling classified information, including Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake, and John Kiriakou. (IPA is the fiscal sponsor of WHISPeR.) For more on the case, see: StandWithDanielHale.org.
CHIP GIBBONS, chip@rightsanddissent.org@RightsDissent
Gibbons is policy director at Defending Rights & Dissent, which has done extensive work on Hale’s case. He said today: “On Wednesday, Daniel Hale pled guilty to one count of ‘retention and transmission of national defense information’ in violation of the Espionage Act. Hale’s crime is exposing the human rights abuses of U.S. drone strikes, including that during a given time period nearly 90 percent of those killed by drone strikes were not the intended target.

“It is a disgrace to this country that time and time again when brave truth tellers, many of them relatively young, expose the crimes of our government it is they who go to jail.

“Shame on both [political] parties for their role in this and Congress for failing to act.

“Whistleblowers charged under the Espionage Act have an almost impossible chance of mounting a fair defense, which is why Defending Rights & Dissent has repeatedly urged Congress to amend this draconian and antiquated law. Had Hale gone to trial he would have been barred from even uttering the word whistleblower, fairly explaining his actions, or how they were in the public interest.

“It is outrageous that a law ostensibly designed to target spies and saboteurs is used to jail journalists’ sources and even journalists who act in the public interest to reveal official abuses of power.

“Hale’s case spans three administrations, including presidents from both major parties. Espionage Act abuse to prosecute whistleblowers is a bi-partisan disgrace.”

Correction: This IPA news release was initially titled “Military Analyst Daniel Hale Jailed for Exposing Drone Killings to Public.” That is inaccurate. Hale is not in jail, but is currently out on his own recognizance awaiting sentencing, which is widely expected to include jail time.  

Rights Group Calls on Biden to Reverse Trump’s Treatment of Gitmo Prisoner Attempting Suicide

The Center for Constitutional Rights has put out a detailed news release: “Gitmo Torture Survivor Asks Court to Reject Eleventh-Hour Trump Bid to Deny Medical Evaluation,” which states: “Lawyers representing Guantánamo prisoner Mohammed al Qahtani are urging a federal judge to deny an effort by the Trump administration in its final days to reverse a court order to convene a panel of medical experts to evaluate him. A former Defense Department official appointed by Trump attempted to avoid convening the panel by purporting to make an exception excluding men imprisoned at Guantánamo from the military regulation requiring such an evaluation.

“Mr. al Qahtani is the only person imprisoned at Guantánamo whose torture has been formally admitted to by a U.S. government official, and he suffers from schizophrenia, diagnosed years before his detention, and major depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from his torture. He has attempted suicide multiple times, including twice within the last four months, when, in a haze of hallucinations, he swallowed broken glass and cut veins in his arms. He is legally entitled to a neutral medical evaluation to determine whether the United States may continue to detain him.

“In an unclassified phone call with his lawyer, Mr. al Qahtani said, ‘I feel so much worse. I tried to kill myself again. I was in a state of madness. I don’t know what I did. … Even the psychiatrists here told me I’ve reached a stage where I might kill myself without even realizing it. These are dangerous behaviors. They put me in the clinic at first and now I’m back in the cellblock. They’re watching me but it’s as if they’re just waiting for me to kill myself. …’

“Al Qahtani experiences a host of symptoms, including hallucinations, screaming, insomnia, crying for hours, banging his head against walls, impaired concentration and memory, hypervigilance, hopelessness, and physical pain throughout his body, among others.”

Shayana Kadidal, senior managing attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights said: “Our government knowingly tortured a man who was already suffering from schizophrenia from his teenage years, long before he was brought to Guantanamo. Eighteen years later, it serves no purpose to hold him alone in a largely-empty prison, where he is losing what little touch with reality he still has.”

“The Biden administration can and should reverse course on Trump’s effort to resist the independent medical examination of a mentally ill prisoner that the U.S. government has admitted torturing,” said Ramzi Kassem, a professor at CUNY School of Law and the director of the CLEAR Clinic, which also represents Mr. al Qahtani.

Contact: Jen Nessel, Center for Constitutional Rights, jnessel@ccrjustice.org

New Report Calls on Biden to Put an End to Program That’s “Not Far From Slavery”

DAVID BACON, dbacon@igc.org@photos4justice
ANURADHA MITTAL, amittal@oaklandinstitute.org, @oak_institute
Bacon is author of the new report “Dignity or Exploitation – What Future for Farmworker Families in the United States?” for the Oakland Institute. Mittal is founder and executive director of the group.

Bacon said today: “The H-2A program has created a captive labor force, made to work in brutal and often illegal conditions. In practice, it is not far from slavery. The majority of these migrant workers arrive in the U.S. already in debt. Department of Labor regulations permit companies to subject them to quotas that require them to work at an exhausting speed. Efforts to organize against exploitative conditions have been met with terminations, deportations and blacklisting.”

The report states that: “H-2A workers also face disproportionate exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The report describes some of the most acute situations, and analyzes the basic reason for the high infection rate — congregate housing, or barracks, where workers sleep in bunk beds.

Growth of the H-2A program has also exacerbated an existing housing crisis for rural workers, as recruitment has skyrocketed from 10,000 visas in 1992 to over 250,000 in 2020. The exploitative conditions and vulnerability of migrants who came under the H-2A program are very close to those of the bracero program that was in place from 1942 to 1964. The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, which put an end to the bracero program, established an immigration system based on family reunification and community stability, protecting the wages, rights, health, and housing of farmworkers. This system is under increasing threat today.

Mittal said: “Restoring the family preference system and halting the H-2A program are two of the most important decisions that will face the Biden administration in regards to the direction of U.S. immigration policy. The new administration needs to choose whose interests they are going to serve. Will it support the H-2A program and protect the profits of growers, or will it stand with the farmworkers who labor in the fields to feed this country?”

Will Biden End the Militarization of Police?

JARIBU HILL, jaribu.hill@gmail.com@truthteller711@blacks4peace
NETFA FREEMAN, netfa@ips-dc.org@Netfafree

Hill and Freeman are both on the coordinating committee of the Black Alliance for Peace. Freeman is writing a forthcoming book: Community Control Over Police.    The group recently released a statement calling for an executive order to end the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which siphons military equipment to police in the U.S.

The group states: “The gratuitous militarization of police forces across the United States through this program has helped to turn these agencies into brutal weapons of repression. Therefore, nothing short of complete abolition of this program is acceptable.

“BAP has demanded abolition of the 1033 program since BAP’s 2017 founding. It now asks the public to sign a petition (available in English and Spanish) demanding the Biden administration and Democrats commit to abolishing this racist and brutal program.”

Hill is also executive director of the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights. She added: “Here in the belly of the Deep South beast, we understand the harsh and irreversible effects measures like 1033 have had and continue to have on those who languish in poverty, forced to live in shanty shacks and tenements.” She formerly served as municipal judge for the city of Hollandale and is a human rights attorney and a veteran community organizer.

The group noted: “The National Defense Authorization Act of 1997 that then-Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) supported and President Bill Clinton (D) signed into law created the 1033 program by expanding on a previous program.”Responding to outrage about the heavily militarized police response to protests after Michael Brown’s murder in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama enacted a policy in 2015 that appeared to limit the program, but made little difference in any department’s ability to acquire and use military weapons.

“Even with the scale-back, the Obama administration managed to transfer a $459 million arsenal to police agencies. …

“President Donald Trump came into office and reversed Obama’s cosmetic changes. What the Biden administration is now proposing by reversing Trump’s reversal to the Obama policy is not enough, as reverting the policy to Obama’s altered version is not justice.”

Biden Continuing Assange Prosecution, Launched By Trump DOJ

KEVIN GOSZTOLA, kevin@shadowproof.com, @kgosztola
Managing editor of Shadowproof, Gosztola just wrote the piece “Assange Prosecution, Launched By Trump Justice Department, Will Continue Under Biden.”

He writes: “The Justice Department under President Joe Biden plans to continue the case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that was launched under President Donald Trump.

“‘We continue to seek his extradition,’ Justice Department spokesperson Marc Raimondi told Reuters, days before February 12, the deadline for the United States government to submit its ‘grounds for appeal.’

“The statement represents a departure from President Barack Obama’s administration, which declined to prosecute Assange. Justice Department officials were reportedly concerned about the threat it would pose to press freedom.

“On January 4, British district judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the U.S. government’s extradition request and concluded Assange’s mental condition was ‘such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America.'”

Gosztola notes that earlier this week “a coalition of civil liberties, press freedom, and human rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, Center for Constitutional Rights, Committee to Protect Journalists, Fight for the Future, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Human Rights Watch, PEN America, Project on Government Oversight, and Reporters Without Borders, signed on to a letter demanding that the Biden Justice Department drop the charges against Assange. …

“During Biden’s first foreign policy speech on February 4, he proclaimed, ‘We believe a free press isn’t an adversary; rather, it’s essential. A free press is essential to the health of a democracy.’ …

“However … U.S. security agencies believe they should monitor, neutralize, and even target dissident media organizations that may employ practices pioneered by WikiLeaks.”

See Gosztola’s extensive reporting on Assange’s trial, which he covered in London.

While vice president, Biden likened Assange to a “hi-tech terrorist.”