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I was supposed to fly today on the 4:30 PM American Airlines flight from LAX to JFK. But tonight I find myself stuck in L.A. with an incredible range of emotions over what has happened on the island where I work and live in New York City.
My wife and I spent the first hours of the day -- after being awakened by phone calls from our parents at 6:40am PT -- trying to contact our daughter at school in New York and our friend JoAnn who works near the World Trade Center.
I called JoAnn at her office. As someone picked up, the first tower imploded, and the person answering the phone screamed and ran out, leaving me no clue as to whether or not she or JoAnn would live.
It was a sick, horrible, frightening day.
On December 27, 1985 I found myself caught in the middle of a terrorist incident at the Vienna airport -- which left 30 people dead, both there and at the Rome airport. (The machine-gunning of passengers in each city was timed to occur at the same moment.)
I do not feel like discussing that event tonight because it still brings up too much despair and confusion as to how and why I got to live* a fluke, a mistake, a few feet on the tarmac, and I am still here, there but for the grace of* Safe. Secure. I*m an American, living in America. I like my illusions. I walk through a metal detector, I put my carry-ons through an x-ray machine, and I know all will be well.
Here*s a short list of my experiences lately with airport security:
* At the Newark Airport, the plane is late at boarding everyone. The counter can*t find my seat. So I am told to just *go ahead and get on* -- without a ticket!
* At Detroit Metro Airport, I don*t want to put the lunch I just bought at the deli through the x-ray machine so, as I pass through the metal detector, I hand the sack to the guard through the space between the detector and the x-ray machine. I tell him *It*s just a sandwich.* He believes me and doesn*t bother to check. The sack has gone through neither security device.
* At LaGuardia in New York, I check a piece of luggage, but decide to catch a later plane. The first plane leaves without me, but with my bag -- no one knowing what is in it.
* Back in Detroit, I take my time getting off the commuter plane. By the time I have come down its stairs, the bus that takes the passengers to the terminal has left -- without me. I am alone on the tarmac, free to wander wherever I want. So I do. Eventually, I flag down a pick-up truck and an airplane mechanic gives me a ride the rest of the way to the terminal.
* I have brought knives, razors; and once, my traveling companion brought a hammer and chisel. No one stopped us.
Of course, I have gotten away with all of this because the airlines consider my safety SO important, they pay rent-a-cops $5.75 an hour to make sure the bad guys don*t get on my plane. That is what my life is worth -- less than the cost of an oil change.
Too harsh, you say? Well, chew on this: a first-year pilot on American Eagle (the commuter arm of American Airlines) receives around $15,000 a year in annual pay.
That*s right -- $15,000 for the person who has your life in his hands. Until recently, Continental Express paid a little over $13,000 a year. There was one guy, an American Eagle pilot, who had four kids so he went down to the welfare office and applied for food stamps -- and he was eligible!
Someone on welfare is flying my plane? Is this for real? Yes, it is.
So spare me the talk about all the precautions the airlines and the FAA is taking. They, like all businesses, are concerned about one thing -- the bottom line and the profit margin.
Four teams of 3-5 people were all able to penetrate airport security on the same morning at 3 different airports and pull off this heinous act? My only response is -- that*s all?
Well, the pundits are in full diarrhea mode, gushing on about the *terrorist threat* and today*s scariest dude on planet earth -- Osama bin Laden. Hey, who knows, maybe he did it. But, something just doesn*t add up.
Am I being asked to believe that this guy who sleeps in a tent in a desert has been training pilots to fly our most modern, sophisticated jumbo jets with such pinpoint accuracy that they are able to hit these three targets without anyone wondering why these planes were so far off path?
Or am I being asked to believe that there were four religious/political fanatics who JUST HAPPENED to be skilled airline pilots who JUST HAPPENED to want to kill themselves today?
Maybe you can find one jumbo jet pilot willing to die for the cause -- but FOUR? Ok, maybe you can -- I don*t know.
What I do know is that all day long I have heard everything about this bin Laden guy except this one fact -- WE created the monster known as Osama bin Laden!
Where did he go to terrorist school? At the CIA!
Don*t take my word for it -- I saw a piece on MSNBC last year that laid it all out. When the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan, the CIA trained him and his buddies in how to commits acts of terrorism against the Soviet forces. It worked! The Soviets turned and ran. Bin Laden was grateful for what we taught him and thought it might be fun to use those same techniques against us.
We abhor terrorism -- unless we*re the ones doing the terrorizing.
We paid and trained and armed a group of terrorists in Nicaragua in the 1980s who killed over 30,000 civilians. That was OUR work. You and me. Thirty thousand murdered civilians and who the hell even remembers!
We fund a lot of oppressive regimes that have killed a lot of innocent people, and we never let the human suffering THAT causes to interrupt our day one single bit.
We have orphaned so many children, tens of thousands around the world, with our taxpayer-funded terrorism (in Chile, in Vietnam, in Gaza, in Salvador) that I suppose we shouldn*t be too surprised when those orphans grow up and are a little whacked in the head from the horror we have helped cause.
Yet, our recent domestic terrorism bombings have not been conducted by a guy from the desert but rather by our own citizens: a couple of ex-military guys who hated the federal government.
From the first minutes of today*s events, I never heard that possibility suggested. Why is that?
Maybe it*s because the A-rabs are much better foils. A key ingredient in getting Americans whipped into a frenzy against a new enemy is the all-important race card. It*s much easier to get us to hate when the object of our hatred doesn*t look like us.
Congressmen and Senators spent the day calling for more money for the military; one Senator on CNN even said he didn*t want to hear any more talk about more money for education or health care -- we should have only one priority: our self-defense.
Will we ever get to the point that we realize we will be more secure when the rest of the world isn*t living in poverty so we can have nice running shoes?
In just 8 months, Bush gets the whole world back to hating us again. He withdraws from the Kyoto agreement, walks us out of the Durban conference on racism, insists on restarting the arms race -- you name it, and Baby Bush has blown it all.
The Senators and Congressmen tonight broke out in a spontaneous version of *God Bless America.* They*re not a bad group of singers!
Yes, God, please do bless us.
Many families have been devastated tonight. This just is not right. They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him! Boston, New York, DC, and the planes* destination of California -- these were places that voted AGAINST Bush!
Why kill them? Why kill anyone? Such insanity*
Let*s mourn, let*s grieve, and when it*s appropriate let*s examine our contribution to the unsafe world we live in.
It doesn*t have to be like this*
08/17/01: AT BENEFIT SEPT. 15 in RORSCHACH, Switzerland
There will be an Alternative Tentacles Legal Defense Fund Benefit concert in Zurich on September 15th, 2001. Bands playing will be : Cwill, Curb Dogs,and OCME. (This is not to be confused with Jello Biafra's spoken word engagement September 21st at the Volkshaus in Zurich. We will let you know the details as they develope. For more info email firstname.lastname@example.org
08/16/01: AT flaunts rarities on eBay ; effective TODAY!
Alternative Tentacles Records have decided to raid our 22 year old vaults and auction off some of the cool collectable crap we have assimilated over the years. We have been around for 22 years and hence have lots of cool stuff that many people have expressed interest in such as promotional copies of albums, old posters, test pressings, inserts, AT memorabilia, photos, out-of-print titles in all formats, t-shirts, stickers, buttons, autographed items, etc. Lots of stuff in very small quantity, hence it doesn't make sense to sell them on our site. We actually started this in January 2000 when we auctioned off the LARD 70's Rock Must Die Ford Pinto!!(hence the eBay user name Virus235)
Take a peek for yourselves at :
AT's eBay Auctions . Or just look for eBay user Virus235
08/15/01: COURT ORDERS MUMIA ABU-JAMAL NOT TO APPEAR IN COURT
EMERGENCY ALERT! COURT ADMINISTRATOR ORDERS MUMIA ABU-JAMAL NOT TO APPEAR IN COURT ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 17TH! NATIONAL FAX AND PHONE BLITZ CAMPAIGN BEING LAUNCHED TO DEMAND THAT MUMIA'S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS NOT BE VIOLATED ONCE AGAIN!
August 14, 2001
Please contact and demand that Mumia be in court:
Joseph J. DiPrimio, Court administrator Phone: (215) 686-2547 Fax: (215) 686-7485 City Hall, Room 336
John Street, mayor of Philadelphia Phone: (215) 686-2181 Fax: (215) 686-2180 City Hall, Room 215
In a stunning but not surprising move, Mumia Abu-Jamal has been ordered to be kept away from his upcoming August 17th court hearing. During his original trial in 1982, Mumia was physically removed from his trial when he attempted to legally represent himself.
On July 27, 2001, Judge Pamela Dembe ordered Mumia to appear in the Pennsylvania State Court of Common Pleas. Yet, yesterday, on August 13, the Court Administrator of the First Judicial District, Joseph J. DiPrimio, of the same court stated that Mumia should not be transported down to Philadelphia. His "rationale" is there will not be any room in the Philadelphia prisons to house Mumia. How absurd! During Mumia's 1995-96 post conviction hearing in Philadelphia, Mumia was actually housed in a prison outside of Philadelphia. Judge Dembe has not responded to this order by DiPrimio as of yet.
The real reason for this illegal and unconstitutional order is that thousands of supporters, who want to see Mumia free, are mobilizing in Philadelphia as well as around the country and the world to stand with Mumia on August 17th. The courts, the Fraternal Order of Police and the prisons are desperate to stop the momentum that Mumia's court date has created. We fully expect that Mumia will appear in court this Friday. We must protest loud and clear this outrageous maneuver to keep Mumia from coming to court. He has the right to hear firsthand the oral arguments regarding whether he will be granted a new post conviction hearing because his very life is at stake. Also we must double and triple all efforts to be in Philadelphia on August 17th.
We want Mumia to hear our chants and feel our support inside and outside the court on the 17th. International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, International Action Center, NY Free Mumia Coalition and others are initiating this campaign here and around the world. Please pass along this important information to others ASAP.
08/14/01: SUPPORT MUMIA ON AUGUST 17
ACTIVISTS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY WILL DESCEND UPON PHILADELPHIA ON AUGUST 17TH TO SUPPORT MUMIA ABU-JAMAl'S FIRST COURT APPEARANCE IN FIVE YEARS
ACTOR OSSIE DAVIS, HIP HOP ARTIST MOS DEF AND OTHERS WILL HELP PACK THE COURTROOM; FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, RAMSEY CLARK, TENTATIVELY PLANNING TO ATTEND
Thousands of activists including celebrities will be traveling to Philadelphia on Friday, August 17th to stand with African American journalist, Mumia Abu-Jamal who is scheduled to appear before a Commons Pleas judge in the Criminal Justice Court at 9 am. Abu-Jamal is the most well- known death row inmate in the world.
Activists will be mobilizing from New York City; Newark, New Jersey; Washington, DC; Boston; Chicago; Baltimore; Buffalo; Rochester; Providence and as far away as San Francisco to march and rally at City Hall during an important status hearing for Abu-Jamal that could eventually determine whether he will be granted a new post conviction relief act hearing.
Abu-Jamal was falsely convicted on July 3, 1982 for the killing of Daniel Faulkner, a Philadelphia white policeman. The judge during the original trial was "hanging" Judge Albert Sabo, a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, who helped to cover up vital evidence proving that Abu-Jamal was innocent. Abu-Jamal has been awaiting execution ever since and has survived two death warrants, one signed in 1995 and the other in 1999.
Abu-Jamal's new attorneys, Marlene Kamish, Eliot Grossman and Nick Brown, submitted a legal brief on May 4, 2001 that includes important affidavits making a strong claim of innocence on Abu-Jamal's behalf. One of these affidavits includes a confession made by Arnold Beverly, who confessed to be the killer of Faulkner. Other affidavits were signed by Abu-Jamal, his brother, William Cook and other eyewitnesses who testified under oath that Abu-Jamal did kill not Faulkner. A claim of innocence was not submitted during the 1996 post conviction hearing.
This could very well be the last hearing for Abu-Jamal. On July 19th, Federal District Judge William Yohn turned down a request made by Abu-Jamal's lawyers to have the Beverly affidavit added on to a writ of habeas corpus originally filed with Yohn's court on October 15, 1999. This writ was filed in an effort to win an evidentiary hearing for Mumia. Yohn turned down the Beverly affidavit citing the "statute of limitations" in the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. This act, signed by Clinton, severely guts the writ of habeas corpus on behalf of death row inmates who are seeking to have their state convictions overturned. Federal judges are not obligated to review the state rulings even if there is clear evidence proving one's innocence or constitutional violations that occurred during the original trial.
Larry Holmes, a co-director of the IAC, states, "We cannot predict or control what is going to happen in the Common Pleas court on August 17th. As activists, we see August 17th as a golden opportunity for the progressive movement to unite and strengthen the demand to free our brother, Mumia, who has come to symbolize resistance against racist repression especially the racist death penalty and police brutality."
The IAC and other forces condemn the most recent reports in the Philadelphia press and elsewhere that accuse International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal of illegally raising legal funds for Mumia. Why are these false allegations being made now when Mumia is going to be in court? Why is the big business press willing to print negative things about Mumia especially since he is so beloved by millions here and worldwide? These media attacks are meant to divert attention from Mumia's case and attempt to drive a wedge between him, his supporters and the general public.
Holmes went on to say, "The media does not want the public to know that Mumia is facing execution because he is a victim of police misconduct and also is outspoken on a number of social issues. Just as this government and its police want to break up the dynamic anti-globalization movement, they also want to intimidate the Free Mumia movement but we will never allow that to happen."
The IAC will be organizing buses from all over the country to go to Philadelphia. For bus information in NYC as well as leaflet and poster pick-ups, call the IAC at 212-633-6646. The August 17th coalition is also organizing buses with the 1199 Health and Hospital Union. Call 212-330-8029 for more information.
07/17/01: World Bank and IMF to return to DC 9/28 for fall meetings
On Friday, September 28th, 2001, the heads and managers of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund [IMF] will be returning to Washington, DC, for their fall planning meetings, where they will discuss their economic plans for the immediate future. The World Bank is one of the most powerful financial institutions in the world. Together with its sister organization, the IMF, it formulates and enforces major economic policy decisions for more than 75 poverty-stricken countries.
The World Bank and IMF are able to exercise such unrivaled power because other lending institutions and governments generally deny credit to countries that have not complied with the Bank's and IMF's demands, and many of the countries subject to World Bank and IMF supervision and control are desperate for the funds that these institutions provide.
In many cases, the World Bank and IMF impose "structural adjustment programs" (or SAPs) as prerequisites for any loans made to developing countries. These SAPs include (but are not limited to): high interest rates and reduced access to credit (which slows economic growth and increases unemployment), government spending cuts in education and health care, and privatization of state-run enterprises.
Help boycott the World Bank! Join the protests starting September 28th! For
more information on the World Bank and its anti-democratic policies, go to
07/12/01: FCC BANS SONG...NO REVOLUTION FOR FIRST AMMENDMENT RIGHTS
The FCC proposed a $7,000 fine against non-commercial KBOO-FM in Portland, OR for broadcasting the song "Your Revolution," a collaboration between Ninja Tune recording artist DJ Vadim and spoken word artist Sarah Jones. The song comes from the DJ Vadim album USSR: Life From The Other Side released in 1999.
The commission claims that is contains "unmistakable patently offensive sexual references." KBOO-FM counters that its mission is to provide a forum for "unpopular, controversial neglected perspective," and that "Your Revolution" is "a feminist attack on attempts to equate political revolution with promiscuous sex" - the opening lyric is, "Your revolution will not happen between these thighs" - and thus is not indecent. The FCC rejected that argument and has given KBOO-FM 30 days to respond.
The move has, of course, forced other non commercial and otherwise progressive radio broadcasters to ban their programmers from playing the song. Thus, permanently silencing one of the most important feminist hip-hop songs of the last decade from ever reaching FM listeners.
This is a heavy-handed blow from the FCC against the First Ammendment rights of the citizens of the United States, positive hip-hop artists, and anyone striving for increased equality for women in this country or worldwide.
Listeners of the song will note that Jones in no way
endorses or promotes
any "patently offensive sexual references." Quite
the opposite. Hear the
song for yourself :
We ask that you contact FCC Chairman Micheal Powell at email@example.com or 1-888-225-5322 to voice your concern and support independent music and free speech.
07/03/01: CAUSEY EXPLAINS HIATUS
To whom it may concern.
Those wanting facts about the matters of the Causey Way deserve some information. I write you this letter from The Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital.(jail for crazy people)I guess I shall first explain why I am in an Asylum. The court hearing I attended almost 6 months ago to this day decided that I was insane and felt that I needed psychiatric care. In their words, "Scott Causey Stanton has proven time and time again that he can not function in normal society, so we have no other measure then to institutionalize him." I say to you, every "normal" person is constantly coming upon crossroads of life, and in order to choose one alternative and reject the other it is necessary either merely to assume that one way is right and the other way is wrong.
I have had several run-ins with the law. Yeah, the Vancouver incident was bad, and the Toronto episode was alarming, and I have future court hearings in Canada, but the Causey Way service in Morgantown, West Virginia landed me in this nut shell. My firearms display got a little out of hand that night, a young punk put me to the test and I did not back down......I told this young man that in fact, Punk is not dead, but I am about to kill it this very second and I used him as an example. Due to litigation I can not talk any more about this, I can say the young man is doing fine and we have befriended each other since this episode.
I am in no means trying to paint the picture that I am not at fault and I am an innocent man, for psychiatric reasons and personal reasons I must admit that Causey was an egomaniac.I WAS WRONG.
I am sorry I have not been able to write you all earlier, we have little computer time in the hospital and the time that I do have, I use to write my mother. She is a real blessing to me.
I have been doing good since my last outburst, four weeks ago I tried to drown myself in holy water,I wanted to negate the sin of suicide. It was a most embarrassing situation to be caught in......I am sure you are wondering where does one get holy water in a psychiatric hospital. The Chapel my friend, I was doing community service work at the chapel and I found the 10 gallon drums of holy water in the storage shed.......Thats where I got the bright idea. Bright idea huh? This little outburst will cost me another 6 months at least.
I have learned a lot in the institution, I have looked back on some things,but I guess your concerns are those of the Causey Way. I must be brief, I have a group meeting to attend. The Causey Way was a cult, something sociologist call an audience cult. Causey viewed the members of his cult as consumers, not members, they were to buy and tithe.Everthing had a price tag on it, MEMBERSHIP (Causey judgement forms), MERCH(faith tools) CAUSEY SHOWS(services) and so on and so on.
The Causey Way like most cults involved very little bonds between members and very little sense of group identity. The Causey Way was a form of "white magic", the opposite of black magic. Causey was more concerned with manipulating nonempirical forces in the form of filling his own specific worldly and material needs.
The charasmatic ass known as Causey realized the world was grasping for answers. The politicians, the economist,the religious leaders, the pop stars and the movie stars had no answers and where indeed the problem. Causey knew he could come up with an answer or at least pose as if he had an answer. For the people of the world who could not face reality and wanted to drop out,could choose The Causey Way as their cop-out.
Causey was clueless, he thought you needed him, but in fact he needed you. I know you are all beautiful individuals with creative genius minds. Take your gifts and make a better world for mankind. Make it easier for the fellow individuals you meet along the way.
Stay in focus, remember the demons, the demons may leave your body and creep the land, but when they can not find a home as good as you, the gather up their friends(other problems) and they move back into you.
I must get prepeared to leave.
Finally, If you indeed feel something positive from your Causey Way experience, please feel free to take that and make something better with it, for that is yours.
The music, the name, it is all yours. There are no copy rights or publication rights...no contracts signed. The only thing I ever signed were ASCAP papers. ASCAP and other ACE members advised me that I should sign with ASCAP and make extra money for my songs on the radio and the for the live shows I was playing these songs at etc/etc. So, about two months after the "buisness/signing dinner" and having to hear this ASCAP REPS jibberish, I recieved my first letter from ASCAP stating that I owe them money. Point being, I dont think that contract is worth anything since I never paid them so you dont pay them. But you will unfortunately, everytime you listen to the radio, every time you go to a live music club, etc, etc.
The music is yours,take the music and do whatever you please with it, for it is yours.
I must go now, I have the group meeting at 5pm
Please remember, Religions, Governments and other "POWERS" are all man made ideas. The idea is to have power and control over the people. Power has two slaves, the one that holds the "power" and the one that is ruled by the so-called power. There really is no such thing as "power", "wealth" or "success" in a non manufactured world. These are all man made concepts. Concepts that make you consume, consume and consume more.Dont buy them, make them buy you and dont sell cheap.
and I shall end with these words
Gods Black Box is Love and I believe in Love, Yes I believe in Love
your friend indeed,
05/10/01: AUSSIES GO BOBBING FOR BEER
There was no shortage of rescue volunteers when a truck carrying 24,000 bottles of beer crashed into an Australian river -- some locals donned scuba suits and others just dived in. People spent the Easter weekend salvaging beer from the Tweed River north of Sydney or watching others dive for bottles, police said. One man reportedly walked away with 400 bottles of beer.
05/10/01: MUMIA: CHALLENGING THE MAINSTREAM MINISTRIES OF MISINFORMATION
On June 26th, Alternative Tentacles Records and AK Press are proud to present "175 Progress Drive", our third release by MUMIA ABU-JAMAL, one of the most censored voices in the U.S. Continuing a long tradition of challenging the mainstream ministries of misinformation, ATR remains the only source for MUMIA's inspiring words on accessible CD format. From the depths of death row, in the most restrictive maximum-security prison, MUMIA speaks a truth so powerful that National Public Radio banned his broadcasts. This latest release testifies to his timeless contribution as an award-winning journalist and illuminates a country's conscience condemned behind bars.
Prior to being shot and arrested in 1981, MUMIA ABU-JAMAL was a respected radio reporter, covering breaking news, particularly as it affected Philadelphia's disenfranchised communities. He was president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and had recently won Columbia University's prestigious Major Armstrong Award for his work with the WUHY "91 Report." MUMIA's books have sold over 150,000 copies and have been translated into seven languages.
"175 Progress Drive", compiled by Prison Radio, features previously unreleased radio essays recorded during MUMIA's continued incarceration, as well as rare material aired on NPR, WHYY and other stations prior to his arrest. This release includes his interviews with Bob Marley, Jimmy Carter, Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee, Hugh Masekela, and others. It also contains conversations with seniors at the opening of a hot lunch program, discussions with young men and women who faced harassment and murder by police, and interviews with public housing residents, disabled individuals, and school board officials. One recording took place as MUMIA rode on the back of a motorcycle, chatting with members of the Wheels of Soul, a Philadelphia Black motorcycle club.
Also included are MUMIA's essays as read by Peter Coyote and Ruby Dee, poems/statements by Assata Shakur, Martin Espada, Rubin Hurricane Carter and Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and music by I Was Born With Two Tongues, Unbound Allstars (includes Chuck D, Dead Prez, Pharaohe Monch), and Seeds of Wisdom.
05/07/01: BLACK KALI MA TO PAY TRIBUTE TO THE DICKS
To commemorate the very first DICKS show twenty-one years ago — May 16, 1980 at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, TX — former members Danny Roman, Lynn Perko, & Ed Cagnacci will join Gary Floyd for a medley of DICKS songs!!!!
This momentous performance will follow BLACK KALI MA's headlining set at the following show:
Wednesday, May 16th
05/07/01: MUMIA ABU-JAMAL DEMONSTATION ANNOUNCED FOR MAY 12 IN SAN FRANCISCO
STOP THE EXECUTION! OVERTURN THE CONVICTION! FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL!
Saturday, May 12, San Francisco
Peace & Freedom Party contingent will meet near 18th & Dolores Streets
beginning at 10 a.m. Look for our banners: "Free All Political
Prisoners" and "Justice is Our Right!". Volunteers needed to leaflet and
BUS AND CARPOOL INFORMATION FROM SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA:
Quebec Police report 463 arrests in total throughout the FTAA protests. On Wednesday April 25th, the Quebec Legal Collective announced that 1 woman and 29 men still remained in custody at Prison d`Orsainville. However, this figure did not include the untold number who had been unable to contact the outside. One former prisoner recalled being silenced by police when he attempted to share the legal hotline information with a fellow activist. Authorities released approximately 200 people between Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th; that many were freed with no charges pending constitutes strong evidence of illegal arrests.
Accounts of physical abuse and intimidation tactics by the police are rampant. Prior to their arrival at the prison, many demonstrators were held for long hours in buses with no access to restrooms and limited availability of food and water. Authorities refused to accommodate prisoners' dietary restrictions. Medical treatment was often unavailable; activists frequently had to agitate before guards administered proper care. Men were stripped naked in groups and sprayed with cold water to decontaminate from tear gas. Menstruating women were reportedly denied tampons and pads. Four to six prisoners were contained in single occupancy cells.
Some individuals recalled being awakened in the middle of the night to interrogations by "intelligence personnel." These officials, who appeared to have U.S. accents, questioned the prisoners on their political affiliations. In one case, an American woman was confronted with previous charges committed as a juvenile that had been supposedly sealed in her record. Members of the Quebec Legal Collective observed FBI agents' signatures in the jail's sign-in book.
At least one protester plans to launch a class action lawsuit against the police for brutality. One of several incidents occurred after authorities denied the woman access to an attorney. When she began chanting in protest, six riot police suddenly pinned her to the ground. As they dragged her across the jail courtyard, the woman's sweatpants slid down. She was left half-naked as the guards had failed to supply her with underwear. These events took place in front of several Summit of the Americas employees who were present in the yard. Police later dropped the woman's charges, likely in an attempt to stem the repercussions of their misconduct.
Across the board, both charges and the corresponding penalties were administered in a decidedly arbitrary fashion. One man who was freed without charges mentioned that his friend, who had been standing next to him when arrested, remained incarcerated on substantial bail. In another instance, the police designated a demonstrator's drumsticks as parts of an explosive device. When authorities raided a free food station, they took one man into custody for simply inquiring about the return of pans and food supplies. Jaggi Singh, a well-known spokesperson for the Anti-Capitalistic Convergence (CLAC), has been denied bail and will potentially remain in custody until his trial, which could be several months away. Officers specifically targeted men, as reflected in the arrest ratio. On Monday night, only 17 of the remaining 253 prisoners were women.
Massive amounts of confusion reigned over the release proceedings. In some cases, police processed and received bail from activists, but then failed to release them. Officials closed the bail window unexpectedly early on Tuesday. Bail generally ranged from $100-500, with the majority fixed at $300. There are reports of intentional mishandling of people after release. In several instances, freed demonstrators were dropped off at distant locations across the city, which directly contradicted the addresses given to supporters.
Activists have been conducting solidarity actions both inside and outside the prison. At one point, approximately 30 prisoners were refusing to provide their names; a number of these individuals participated in a hunger strike. From the weekend onwards, an average of 50 people maintained a solidarity vigil in front of the prison, chanting their support and serving warm meals to the recently released. 10,000 students at 3 colleges in Montreal held a general strike, refusing to go to classes in solidarity with the prisoners. On Wednesday afternoon, CLAC/CASA sponsored a demonstration calling for the activists' release.
Legal fund donations can be sent to Quebec Legal Defence, 1615 Bernard, Outremont, Quebec H2V 1X2; visit quebec2001.org for further details.
04/03/01: BLACK KALI MA CANCEL EUROPEAN TOUR
Black Kali Ma regrets that it must cancel its Spring European tour. The band hopes that it'll soon get a chance to play in front of you all.
03/27/01: FTAA SUMMIT April 20-22; BE INFORMED!
If You Thought NAFTA Spelled Trouble
On April 20-22 in Quebec City, Canada, leaders of thirty-four nations will meet to further the ratification of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), set for completion before 2005. If implemented, FTAA policies, a more extreme version of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), will spread the latter's devastating effects throughout the Americas, further broadening the disparities between rich and poor and destroying the environment, as corporate interests continue to take precedence above all else. An array of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), unions, grassroots groups, and concerned individuals have united to contest FTAA's decidedly undemocratic process and its intended goals. Broad coalitions are planning massive demonstrations in Quebec City during the April convention, as well as solidarity actions along both US/Canadian and US/Mexican borders, and throughout the Americas and the Caribbean.
For more information visit: www.stopftaa.org or www.sf.indymedia.org/ftaa