Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Over Two Thousand Six Hundred Activists Arrested in US Protests

By Bill Quigley
Since President Obama was inaugurated, there have been over two thousand six hundred arrests of activists protesting in the US. Research shows over 670 people have been arrested in protests inside the US already in 2011, over 1290 were arrested in 2010, and 665 arrested in 2009. These figures are certainly underestimate the number actually arrested as arrests in US protests are rarely covered by the mainstream media outlets which focus so intently on arrests of protestors in other countries.

Arrests at protest have been increasing each year since 2009. Those arrested include people protesting US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Guantanamo, strip mining, home foreclosures, nuclear weapons, immigration policies, police brutality, mistreatment of hotel workers, budget cutbacks, Blackwater, the mistreatment of Bradley Manning, and right wing efforts to cut back collective bargaining.

These arrests illustrate that resistance to the injustices in and committed by the US is alive and well. Certainly there could and should be more, but it is important to recognize that people are fighting back against injustice.

Information on these arrests has been taken primarily from the newsletter The Nuclear Resister, which has been publishing reports of anti-nuclear resistance arrests since 1980, and anti-war actions since 1990.

Jack Cohen-Joppa, who with his partner Felice, edits The Nuclear Resister, told me “Over the last three decades, in the course of chronicling more than 100,000 arrests for nonviolent protest and resistance to nuclear power, nuclear weapons, torture, and war, we've noted a quadrennial decline as support for protest and resistance gets swallowed up by Presidential politicking. It has taken a couple of years, but the Hopeium addicts of 2008 are finally getting into recovery. We're again reporting a steady if slow rise in the numbers willing to risk arrest and imprisonment for acts of civil resistance. Today, for instance, there are more Americans serving time in prison for nuclear weapons protest than at any time in more than a decade.”

In the list below I give the date of the protest arrest and a brief summary of the reason for the protest. After each date I have included the name of the organization which sponsored the protest. Check them out. Remember, they can jail the resisters but they cannot jail the resistance!


January 1, 2011. Nine women, ages 40 to 91, who brought solar panels to the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor were arrested for blocking the driveway at Entergy Corporation. Shut It Down.

January 5, 2011 and February 2, 2011. Five arrests were made of peace activists protesting at Vandenberg Air Force base, including a veteran of WWII. Vandenberg Witness.

January 11, 2011. Ten people protesting against the continued human rights violation of Guantanamo prison trying to deliver a letter to a federal judge were arrested at the federal building in Chicago, Illinois.

January 11, 2011. A sixty one year old grandmother protesting against excessive radiation was arrested for blocking the path of a utility truck in Sonoma County, California.

January 15, 2011. Twelve people protesting against Trident nuclear weapons at the Kitsap-Bangor naval base outside of Seattle, Washington were arrested – six on state charges of blocking the highway and six others on federal charges of trespass for crossing onto the base. Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

January 17, 2011. Marking the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, people protested outside the Lockheed Martin Valley Forge Pennsylvania office where eight people were arrested. Brandywine Peace Community.

January 17, 2011. Three people protesting the US use of armed drones and depleted uranium were arrested at the Davis-Monthan air force base near Tucson Arizona.

January 29, 2011. Eight peace activists marking the 60th anniversary of the testing of the atom bomb were arrested at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site. Nevada Desert Experience.

February 10, 2011. Twenty three hotel workers were arrested after protesting management abuses at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. UNITE Here Local 2.

February 15, 2011. A former CIA agent turned whistleblower was arrested and battered by police for standing silently and turning his back during a speech on the need for human rights in Egypt delivered by the US Secretary of State. Veterans for Peace.

February 17, 2011. Nine people protesting against the attack on collective bargaining in Wisconsin were arrested at the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison.

February 25, 2011. Eleven people protesting federal budget cuts against the poor, including one person in a wheelchair were arrested charged with blocking traffic in Chicago.

March 4, 2011. Three people were arrested in Seattle after a protest against police abuse.

March 4, 2011. Sixteen people were arrested at a protest against tuition increases at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

March 10, 2011. Fifty people protesting the removal of collective bargaining rights were arrested after being carried out of the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison.

March 16, 2011. Seven union supporters protesting proposals to strip collective bargaining from teachers were arrested in Nashville Tennessee.

March 19, 2011. One hundred thirteen people protesting the eighth anniversary of the war in Iraq, lead by Veterans for Peace, were arrested at White House. Veterans for Peace.

March 19, 2011. Eleven military family members and veterans were arrested in Hollywood California after staging a sit protesting the 8th anniversary of the war in Iraq. Veterans for Peace.

March 20, 2011. Thirty five people were arrested protesting outside the Quantico brig where Bradley Manning was being held. Bradley Manning Support Network.

March 28, 2011. Seven people defending a family against eviction and protesting home foreclosures were arrested in Rochester, NY, including a 70 year old neighbor in her pajamas. Take Back the Land.

April 4, 2011. Seven people protesting against unjust immigration legislation barring undocumented immigrants from Georgia colleges were arrested for blocking traffic in Atlanta Georgia.

April 7, 2011. Seventeen people were arrested protesting budget cuts in assistance for the poor and elderly and calling for an end to corporate tax exemptions in Olympia Washington.

April 10, 2011. Twenty seven people calling attention to the thousands of murders of people in Latin America by graduates of the US Army School of the Americas/WHINSEC were arrested outside the White House. School of Americas Watch.

April 11, 2011. Forty one people, including the Mayor and many of the members of the District of Columbia city council, protesting Congressional action limiting how the District of Columbia could spend its own money were arrested in Washington DC.

April 15, 2011. Eight teenage girl students, some as young as fourteen, were arrested after they refused to leave their public school Catherine Ferguson Academy, which is specially designated for pregnant and mothering teens in Detroit. Also with the young women were children and teachers. The school is targeted for closure due to budget cutbacks.

April 22, 2011. Thirty seven people were arrested protesting the use of drones outside the Hancock Air Force base near Syracuse New York. Syracuse Peace Council. Ithaca Catholic Worker.

April 22, 2011. Eleven women chained and locked the gate at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon Vermont before being arrested.

April 22, 2011. Thirty three people protesting at the Livermore Lab which designs nuclear weapons at an interfaith peace service were arrested for trespassing in California.

April 22, 2011. Four people were arrested at the Pentagon after they held up a banner and read from a leaflet outside of the designated protest zone. Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.

April 24, 2011. Sixteen protestors against nuclear weapons at the Nevada National Security Site were arrested after a sixty mile sacred walk from Las Vegas. Nevada Desert Experience. Pace e Bene.

May 2, 2011. Fifty two protestors against a nuclear weapons plant in Kansas City Missouri were arrested after blocking a gate to the construction site. Holy Family Catholic Worker.

May 9, 2011. Five people protesting against draconian immigration laws were arrested in the governor’s office in Indianapolis, Indiana.

May 7, 2011. Seven people celebrating Mothers Day and protesting nuclear weapons were arrested outside the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor twenty miles from Seattle. Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

May 9, 2011. Sixty five people protesting cutbacks in education funding were arrested in Sacramento California.


January 6, 2010. Over one hundred people protesting for union recognition of hotel workers at Hyatt San Francisco were arrested. UNITE Here Local 2.

January 15, 2010. A man who served nearly six months in jail and who was still on probation for hammering windows at a military recruiting center in Lancaster Pennsylvania was arrested at the recruiting center after insisting that recruiters and recruits to leave the army.

January 18, 2010. Seven people commemorating Martin Luther King’s birthday wore sandwich board messages saying “Make War No More,” “It’s about Justice,” and “its About Peace,” outside of Lockheed Martin’s main entrance in Merion Pennsylvania until they were arrested. Brandywine Peace Community.

January 21, 2010. Forty-two people protesting the ongoing human rights violations of Guantanamo prison were arrested at the US Capitol building. Twenty-eight were arrested on the steps of the Capitol and fourteen inside the rotunda. Witness Against Torture.

January 26, 2010. Thirteen people from Minnesota lobbying to stop funding for war were arrested after holding a die-in on the sidewalk in front of the White House. Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

January 31, 2010. Eight people were arrested trying to protest at Vandenberg Air Force base in California, one of those arrested, an octogenarian, was brought to the hospital for injuries suffered in the arrest. A few days later, seven protestors were arrested at the same spot. A month later, four more protestors were arrested. Vandenberg Witness.

February 22, 2010. Five people protesting against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were arrested inside US Senators’ offices in the Des Moines Iowa federal building. Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Des Moines Catholic Worker.

March 4, 2010. Four students protesting against rape were arrested after they refused to leave the administration building at Michigan State University in East Lansing Michigan.

March 20, 2010. Nine peace activists were arrested in Washington DC for lying down beside mock coffins outside the White House.

March 21, 2010. Two people protesting at the Aerospace and Arizona Days air show at Monthan Air Force base held a banner declaring “War is not a Show” in front of a Predator Unmanned Air Vehicle (drone) were arrested.

March 30, 2010. Eight protestors were arrested during a march against police brutality in Portland Oregon.

April 2, 2010. Eleven people on a Good Friday walk for peace and justice were arrested outside the USS Intrepid in New York city after they began reading the names of 250 Iraqi, American and Afghan war dead. Pax Christi New York.

April 2, 2010. Nine people carrying a banner “Lockheed Martin Weapons + War = The Crucifixion Today” in the 34th annual Good Friday protest at Lockheed Martin were arrested in Valley Forge Pennsylvania. Brandywine Peace Community.

April 4, 2010. Twenty two people protesting against nuclear weapons after the Sacred Walk from Las Vegas to the Nevada Nuclear Test Site were arrested after the Western Shoshone sunrise ceremony and Easter Mass. Nevada Desert Experience.

April 7, 2010. Three people, including a 12 year old girl, were arrested inside a US Senators office in Des Moines, Iowa with a banner “No More $$ For War.” The mother of the 12 year old girl was called into the police station and issued a citation the next day for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Voices for Creative Nonviolence and Des Moines Catholic Worker.

April 15, 2010. A man protesting nuclear weapons was arrested inside the security fence of a nuclear missile silo near Parshall, North Dakota.

April 16, 2010. Twelve people protesting against Sodexho mistreatment of workers were arrested in Montgomery County Maryland. Service Employees International Union.

April 20, 2010. A woman was arrested for standing in the path of a bulldozer to try to prevent mining in Marquette County, Michigan.

April 26, 2010. Seventeen people protesting war and poverty inside and outside the federal building in Chicago were arrested. Midwest Catholic Worker.

April 26, 2010. Boulder Colorado police arrested five people protesting at Valmont coal power plant.

May 3, 2010. Three people protesting nuclear weapons were arrested at Bangor Naval Base outside of Seattle Washington. Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

May 3, 2010. Twenty two people protesting nuclear weapons were arrested at Grand Central Station in New York city after unfurling banners saying “Nuclear Weapons = Terrorism,” and “Talk Less, Disarm More.” War Resisters League.

May 9, 2010. Seven people trying to stop a foreclosure-driven eviction were arrested in Toledo Ohio. Take Back the Land.

May 15, 2010. Thirty four people protesting against Arizona’s draconian immigration laws were arrested outside the White House.

May 17, 2010. Sixteen people were arrested in NYC protesting against unjust immigration policies.

May 20, 2010. A woman US Army specialist who served as a Military Police applied for conscientious objector status while serving in Iraq and who later left her unit was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

May 24, 2010. Thirty seven people protesting against unjust immigration policies were arrests in New York City.

June 1, 2010. Fifty six people protesting against unjust immigration policies were arrested in NYC.

June 8, 2010. Six peace advocates were arraigned in federal court in Des Moines, Iowa for numerous actions protesting in US Senators offices for the previous several months. One activist, a grandmother and hog farmer, held weekly die-ins in Senators’ offices and was arrested frequently. Once, when police asked her to leave, she replied that she was dead and couldn’t leave. Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

June 15, 2010. Several people protesting against evictions caused by bank foreclosure were arrested in Miami Florida. Take Back the Land.

June 23, 2010. Twenty two people protesting in favor of immigration reform singing “America the Beautiful” and “This Land is Your Land,” were arrested and charged with blocking traffic in Seattle.

July 5, 2010. Thirty six people protesting for a nuclear free future were arrested at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee – thirteen of federal trespass charges and twenty-three on state charges for blocking a highway. Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance.

July 6, 2010. Seventy eight people protesting against police brutality in Oakland California and the trial involving a shooting by a BART police office.

July 23, 2010. One hundred fifty two hotel workers protesting against management at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco were arrested. UNITE Here Local 2.

July 29, 2010. Thirteen people were arrested in Tucson Arizona protesting against the state’s illegal immigration laws.

August 9, 2010. On Nagasaki day, three people protesting against the US commitment to nuclear weapons were arrested outside the US Strategic Air Command in Omaha Nebraska. Omaha Catholic Worker.

August 15, 2010. A twenty two year old female student at Michigan State University who pitched an apple pie at a US Senator during an anti-war protest was arrested and charged with federal felony charges of forcible assault on a federal officer. Another anti-war activist was also arrested and charged with the same crime.

September 9, 2010. Twelve people protesting for equality for gay people in the workplace were arrested in San Francisco.

September 27, 2010. One hundred fourteen people protesting mountaintop removal coal mining were arrested at the White House after a conference of people from West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Prior to this protest, forty-nine activists in the Climate Ground Zero Campaign have served jail time for taking action against strip-mining in Appalachia. Climate Ground Zero.

November 5, 2010. One hundred fifty two people protesting police killings were arrested in Oakland, California.

November 8, 2010. Five people protesting wind turbines in Lincoln, Maine were arrested including an 82 year old native of Maine.

November 21, 2010. Three people were arrested on federal charges and twenty-four more on state charges at the School of Americas/WHINSEC protest in Columbus Georgia outside the gates of Fort Benning. Six others were arrested at a protest against a private prison housing immigrants in rural Georgia. School of Americas Watch. ACLU Immigrant Rights Project.

December 1, 2010. Three people protesting against unjust immigration policies were arrested at the office of a Congress rep in Racine Wisconsin. Voces de la Frontera.

December 16, 2010. One hundred thirty one protestors, including numerous veterans, gathered in the snow outside the White House challenging the war in Afghanistan, the cover-up of war crimes and the prosecution of Bradley Manning and Wikileaks were arrested for failing to clear the sidewalk. In a parallel New York City protest, several others were also arrested. Veterans for Peace.

December 17, 2010. Twenty two people protesting against unfair home foreclosures were arrested when they blocked an entrance to a Chase bank branch in Los Angeles. Alliance Californians for Community Empowerment.

December 20, 2010. Six people were arrested after protesting at Bank of America against the foreclosure of an elderly couple in South Saint Louis. Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.

December 28, 2010. Three parents asking for the abolition of all nuclear weapons were arrested for leafleting at the Pentagon. Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.


January 2009, seventeen people, clad in black mourning clothes and white masks, were arrested in the US Senate Building for reading the names of the dead in ongoing US wars and unfurling banners stating “The Audacity of War Crimes,” “Iraq,” “Afghanistan,” “Palestine,” and “We Will Not Be Silent.”

January 26, 2009, six human rights advocates were sentenced to two to six months of federal prison or home arrest in federal court in Columbus Georgia for challenging training of Latin American human rights abusers at the US Army School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC) by walking onto Fort Benning. School of Americas Watch.

January 2009, a former Army specialist who refused to graduate with his Airborne Division because he realized he could not kill anybody was arrested and jailed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The former soldier had been ordered home in May 2002 to await discharge papers. Courage to Resist.

February 2009. There were fifteen arrests of activists protesting mountain top removal by Massey in West Virginia. Climate Ground Zero.

February 2009, five peace activists in Salem Oregon fasting on the steps of the state capitol building so that National Guard soldiers would not be sent to Iraq and Afghanistan were cited for trespass by state police.

March 1, 2009, six anti-nuclear activists protesting the 55th anniversary of the US nuclear bomb detonation at Bikini Atoll were arrested at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Kitsap, Washington after they knelt in the roadway. Ground Zero Community and Pacific Life Community.

March 4, 2009, nine people seeking to present a letter to CEO of Alliant Technologies outlining how weapons manufacturers were prosecuted as war criminals at the end of WWII were arrested in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Alliant Action.

March 12, 2009, four people who were arrested during a protest at Vandenberg Air Force base were fined between $500 and $2500 by federal authorities. California Peace Action.

March 17, 2009, seven people seeking a meeting with US Defense Secretary to challenge the legality of the war in Iraq were arrested at the Pentagon. National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.

March 18, 2009, seven women, ranging in ages from 65 to 89, some in wheelchairs and walkers, were arrested protesting the war in Iraq after wrapping yellow crime scene tape around a military recruiting center and blocking the entrance for an hour in New York City. Grannie Peace Brigade.

March 19, 2009, three people protesting the war in Iraq were arrested in Washington DC. In one instance a US Army veteran scaled the front of the Veterans Administration building and unfurled a banner saying “Veterans Say NO to War and Occupation.” Protests against the war in Iraq in Chicago resulted in an arrest there after banner drop.

March 19-21, 2009, protests against the war in Iraq in San Francisco resulted in twenty-two arrests at a die-in in the financial district, eleven more for blocking a street outside the Civic Center, and ten more at the Saturday march when Palestinian marchers were confronted by pro-Israel counter protestors resulting in police using batons and tear gas.

March 31, 2009, four people were arrested in Brattleboro, Vermont, for standing in silent opposition to the Vermont Yankee nuclear power reactor.

March 31, 2009, an anti-nuclear protestor was convicted of trespassing at the Los Alamos nuclear weapons facility and sentenced to two days in jail, community service and probation. Trinity House Catholic Worker.

April 3, 2009, four people protesting injustices on Wall Street and in Afghanistan and Iraq were arrested in New York, NY, for marching down the center of the street. Bail Out the People Movement.

April 9, 2009, fourteen people were arrested at Creech Air Force outside Las Vegas Nevada base protesting against the US use of drones in lethal attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Nevada Desert Experience.

April 10, 2009, eight people were arrested while kneeling and praying for peace at the Pentagon. Another, clad in an orange jumpsuit and black hood, was arrested at the White House where he was chained to the fence protesting the human rights abuses of Guantanamo. Jonah House.

April 10, 2009, sixteen people were arrested while protesting the war profiteer Lockheed Martin in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Brandywine Peace Community.

April 12, 2009, twenty one people were arrested while protesting the use of nuclear weapons at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site on Western Shoshone tribal lands. Nevada Desert Experience.

April 17, 2009. A man protesting US polices of violence, racism and poverty-production was sentenced to six months in prison for hammering out some windows in the US Military Recruiting Center in Lancaster Pennsylvania.

April 23, 2009, four people protesting lies by military recruiters were arrested after locking themselves to the door at the military recruiting center in Minnesota. Three others were arrested at the Knollwood Plaza after disrupting the recruitment center so much it had to be closed. Another woman was arrested near a recruiting center after placing a “Don’t Enlist” sticker on a police car. Antiwar committee.

April 24, 2009, a woman calling for the return of the National Guard from Iraq was arrested in the US House Appropriations during testimony by US Generals in Washington DC. Code Pink.

April 28, 2009, a US Army veteran who refused to fight in Iraq was court-martialed in Fort Stewart, Georgia and sentenced to one year in prison. Courage to Resist.

April 29, 2009, twenty-two people were arrested after trying to serve a Notice of Foreclosure for Moral Bankruptcy on Blackwater/Xe, the mercenary company responsible for so many deaths in Iraq, at its compound in Mount Carmel, Illinois. Des Moines Catholic Worker Community.

April 30, 2009, sixty three people were arrested at the White House protesting against illegal detention and torture at Guantanamo prison. Witness Against Torture.

May 20, 2009. Twenty one people protesting against the war in Iraq were arrested outside a military recruiting center in Milwaukee Wisconsin.

July 22, 2009, four people protesting against Boeing’s role in the production of drones, which have killed more than 700 people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, were arrested inside the Boeing lobby in Chicago, Illinois. Christian Peacemaker Teams.

August 4, 2009, four shareholders who sought to speak at the shareholders meeting of depleted uranium munitions producer Alliant Techsystems were arrested when they approached the microphone in Eden Prairie Minnesota. Alliant Action.

August 5, 2009, a US Army specialist who refused to deploy to Afghanistan was sentenced to 30 days in jail and given a less than honorable discharge in Killeen Texas. Courage to Resist.

August 6, 2009, a 75 year old priest, protesting the 64th anniversary of the US dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima, was arrested outside of Greeley Colorado where he cut the fence around a nuclear missile silo, hung peace banners, prayed and tried to break open the hatch on the silo.

August 6, 2009, nine antiwar activists were arrested at Fort McCoy Wisconsin after a three day peace walk protesting against US nuclear weapons and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nuke Watch.

August 6, 2009, two people were arrested at the Pentagon entrance on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing carrying a banner stating “Remember the Pain, Remember the Sin, Reclaim the Future.” Jonah House.

August 6, 2009, twenty two people protesting the horror of Hiroshima were arrested in Livermore California when they blocked the entrance to the Lawrence Livermore weapons lab. Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment.

August 6, 2009, nine people at a vigil for peace and nonviolence were arrested for walking onto Lockheed Martin property at Valley Forge Pennsylvania and spreading sunflower seeds, an international symbol for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Brandywine Peace Community.

August 6, 2009, two people were arrested when they refused to stop praying at the gates of the Davis-Monthan Air Force base in Tucson Arizona. Rose of the Desert Catholic Worker.

August 10, 2009, nine persons calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons were arrested at Bangor Naval base, home to the Trident submarine, twenty miles from Seattle Washington. Ground Zero Community.

August 14, 2009, a US Army Sergeant who refused to go to Afghanistan and who asked for conscientious objector status was found guilty of disobeying lawful orders and going AWOL at a trial in Fort Hood. He was sentenced to one year in prison and given a bad conduct discharge.

August 17, 2009. Four people were arrested outside the Boalt Hall classroom where they were protesting John Yoo, who coauthored the memos authorizing torture on people in Guantanamo during the Bush administration.

August 22, 2009, two people protesting against nuclear missile testing were arrested at Vandenberg Air Force base and cited for trespass.

September 9, 2009. Four people protesting against Massey Energy mountain top removal were arrested in Madison West Virginia. Climate Ground Zero.

September 12, 2009, seven people who were protesting against the use of the high-tech bloodless arcade Army Experience Center in Philadelphia were arrested. Seven other protestors were arrested there earlier in the year. Shut Down the AEC.

September 24, 2009, ninety two people protesting management disregard for union rights of hotel workers were arrested at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Francisco. UNITE Here Local 2.

September 27, 2009, twenty one people protesting against the Nevada Test Site were arrested at the Mercury gate. At an action to “Ground the Drones” protesting the increasing use of lethal drones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, another eleven people were arrested. Code Pink. Pace e Bene. Nevada Desert Experience.

September 28, 2009, four women, ages 66 to 90, walked past security guards at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant protesting inadequate safety at the plant. Carrying signs saying “Yom Kippur, September 28, Time to Atone, Shut Down Vermont Yankee,” this was the seventh set of arrests at the nuclear plant or its corporate headquarters since 2005.

September, 2009, the US Army accepted the resignation of Lieutenant, who refused to fight in Iraq because he believed the war violates international law, and gave him a discharge under other than honorable conditions. Courage to Resist.

October 1, 2009. A well known mixed martial arts fighter was sentenced to 90 days of work release and a fine of $28,000 for spraying symbols on an Army recruiting center and the Washington State Capitol building to help raise consciousness about the illegal war in Iraq.

October 2, 2009. Four people trying to deliver a document titled “Employee Liabilities of Weapons Manufacturers under International Law” to the weapons manufacturer Alliant Technologies were arrested in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Alliant Action.

October 5, 2009, a couple, who married the day before and who were carrying a banner saying “Just Married; Love Disarms,” were arrested during a peace protest at Lockheed-Martin in Sunnyvale California. A priest was also arrested as the three gave out leaflets to workers entering the war contractor work site. Albuquerque New Mexico Catholic Worker.

October 5, 2009, sixty one people were arrested while protesting the ninth year of the US war in Afghanistan in front of the White House. Some of the arrested were in orange jumpsuits and chained to the fence. Secret Service officers assaulted other protestors, pushing and pulling them away from the protest site, bruising some. No Good War and Jonah House.

October 7, 2009, twelve protestors against the war in Afghanistan were arrested in Rochester, NY. Some of the arrested were treated at the hospital after being struck by police. Rochester Students for a Democratic Society.

October 7, 2009. Two people were arrested in Grand Central Station after unfurling banners which said “Afghanistan Enough!” War Resisters League.

October 11, 2009. Two women who held up banners when Tiger Woods was ready to putt, saying “President Obama – End Bush’s War,” and “End the Afghan Quagmire,” were handcuffed and escorted away from the President’s Cup golf tournament in San Francisco.

November 2, 2009. Five people calling for nuclear disarmament cut through the fence around the Naval Base Kitsap which houses the Trident nuclear submarines and nuclear warheads outside of Seattle Washington. The five walked through the base until they found the storage area for nuclear weapons and cut two more fences to get inside where they put up banners and spread sunflower seeds until they were arrested. Disarm Now Plowshares.

November 4, 2009. Two people were arrested while protesting outside Vandenberg Air Force base in California. Vandenberg Witness.

November 4, 2009. Eight protestors, including one who was 91 years old, were arrested at the Strategic Space Symposium in Omaha Nebraska while holding a “Space Weapons=Death” banner. Des Moines and Omaha Catholic Worker.

November 15, 2009. Five people protesting against US torture practices at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where military interrogators are trained were arrested. Torture on Trial.

November 22, 2009. Four people protesting the training of human rights abusers by the US Army at their School of Americas/WHINSEC were arrested in Columbus, Georgia. School of Americas Watch.

November 23, 2009. A longtime war tax resister pled guilty to avoiding paying taxes for war at court in Bangor Maine. National War Tax Resistance Coordination Committee.

December 1, 2009. Protestors at 100 cities across the country challenged President Obama’s talk at West Point to escalate the war in Afghanistan. Six were arrested at West Point, eleven in Minneapolis, and three in Madison Wisconsin.

December 9, 2009. Six people protesting that President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize were arrested outside the federal building in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Catholic Worker.

December 10, 2009. Six people protesting the use of lethal drones were forcibly escorted out of the 11th Annual Unmanned Aerial Systems Conference outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Trinity Nuclear Abolition and Code Pink.

December 29, 2009. Twelve people leafleting and praying for peace at the Pentagon were arrested. Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and Jonah House.

Bill is a professor of law at Loyola University New Orleans and Associate Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights. More information about many of these arrests can be found at Bill can be reached at

Monday, May 23, 2011

Louisiana Legislature Takes Steps Towards Ending Crime Against Nature Law

From our friends at Women With a Vision:
Tomorrow, Tuesday May 24th, at 9:30am, the Louisiana House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee will take up the bill to remove Solicitation of a Crime Against Nature (SCAN) from the sex offender registry and make the penalties the same as prostitution. Women With A Vision's Deon Haywood will be testifying with others in our network. The bill author is Representative Charmaine Marchand Stiaes, District 99.

This is a huge step in our struggle for healing and justice with the women of NOLA.

In New Orleans, women engaged in sex work are increasingly being charged under the felony-level SCAN statute. A SCAN conviction mandates 15-year registration as a sex offender. Along with having to send out cards to all the local schools and agencies wherever they move, anyone with a SCAN charge also faces a minimum $2,000 fine, with threat of incarceration for failure to pay.

At present, 97% of women registered as sex offenders are mandated to do so because of a SCAN conviction.

This law completely disconnects our women from what remains of a social safety net, making it impossible for them to recognize and develop their goals, dreams and desires. That is why our women are calling it ‘NO JUSTICE.’ And it is their words that we take as our organizing call.

For more information on SCAN, please check out our policy brief at this link.

Love to all who have helped us come this far!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Organizing Iberville: Applying Lessons Learned, by M. Endesha Juakali, JD

From our friends at Survivors Village:
As Survivors Village and May Day New Orleans begins its campaign to oppose the destruction of the last traditional public housing development in the city of New Orleans, a deep sense of dread and fear courses into my mind.

It's been only a few years since the last major battle to preserve the four other developments was fought and ended in the brutalizing of activists from across the country and a total violation of the rights of all involved. Since December 20, 2007, many have come to believe that organizing public housing is a lost cause. Others have moved on to other areas of injustice that need to be addressed as much as public housing. Those of us who have organized in public housing for decades and feel that the attack upon Iberville cannot go unanswered must try to find a new approach and apply the hard-learned lessons of the anti-demolition struggle to the conditions that currently exist in Iberville.

Though we probably made many other mistakes that need to be addressed I am putting my focus on three areas. These areas are as follows:

-We cannot fight for the people, we must fight with them. As hard as this job will be, we must build a core group of Iberville residents to lead and fight for themselves. Of course, everyone agrees with this, but doing it is hard work. It is much easier to get a few residents to stand in front of the camera while activists do all the real work and decide on what is to be done. The major weakness of the anti-demolition struggle was that although in the beginning there was a strong core group of residents, as residents got scared off, bought off, or just discouraged, and quit, we decided that we had an obligation to move forward without them. That was a failed strategy. In Iberville the hard work to build a core group of residents must be our first step, and every step taken from that point must be decided by that group.

-We need to diversify our strategy & provide numerous ways for residents and others to be involved: The anti-demolition movement was fueled by a group of extremely sincere and courageous people. It was clear that nothing would happen if we did not disrupt the normal operations of the city – so that's what we did. Direct Action became the strategy instead of a strategy. All of our efforts were put towards this one form of struggle. We must have a much more diversified approach in Iberville –and one that is chosen by the residents themselves--if we are to make a significant impact. Many people are not in a position to go to jail, get brutalized, or lose their homes, but that does not mean that they don't want to participate. We must find a way to get them involved.

-We must have a plan that comes from the people: During the anti-demolition struggle everyone knew that we were against the demolition of public housing. But it was never clear what we were for. Going into Iberville, once the group of residents are identified and organized, the next step will be those residents making decisions about what they want their community to become. We will then organize around what the people want, and not just be perpetual anti-everything gadflies in the eyes of those we are trying to organize.

These are some of the things that I have identified that we can do better in Iberville.

Many of you that will read this fought in the anti-demolition struggle, or have been involved in other housing struggles: what are your thoughts on these issues? Going into Iberville we need all the fresh Ideas we can get, please share yours.

See the flyer being used to organize in Iberville at this link.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thousands of Oil and Gas Wells and Pits to be Flooded

From Our Friends at Louisiana Bucket Brigade:
No clear plans from industry, state or federal government about preparation or cleanup

A map released yesterday details that the opening of the Morganza Spillway is likely to cause the release of oil, diesel, drilling muds and chemicals into residential areas and the Gulf of Mexico. Though significant oil industry pipelines and installations will be flooded, there has been no communication from industry or government officials to residents on the subject. No information has been made available regarding the amount of contamination to be released. Conservative estimates are in the thousands of gallons.

“I have been asking for spill prevention measures for the last two weeks and have gotten little to no information from industry or emergency response officials,” said Anna Hrybyk, Louisiana Bucket Brigade Program Manager. “People living in the flood zone need to be prepared for serious chemical contamination and clean up.”

The enormous waste pit in Grand Bois is in the area to be flooded. When the pit was created, 81 trucks of waste with benzene, xylene, hydrogen sulfide and arsenic were trucked in from an Exxon plant. Exxon made $30.46 billion in 2010.

LABB is sending a letter today to the relevant agencies requesting clean-up plans, including soil and water sampling plans for contamination.

Data from government sources, available on a map created by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, estimates that the following infrastructure is in the path of the floodwaters.
  • 13,000 oil/gas wells
  • 3,600 petroleum extraction operations
  • 4,000 abandoned oil waste pits
  • 1 refinery (Alon Refinery in Krotz Springs)
  • 4 storage terminals
The numbers are likely higher as the most recent available data are several years old. Of particular concern are the thousands of open oil waste pits, like the one in Grand Bois, containing crude oil and chemicals. Officials with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality told LABB they have ordered 3 of the 4,000 waste pits to be emptied in preparation for the flooding.

Local residents and advocates believe that there is no comprehensive preparedness or response plan.

“The best predictor of the future is the past,” said Anne Rolfes, LABB Founding Director. “During the BP Oil Disaster and Hurricane Katrina, the agencies had no effective plans for dealing with the pollution, and residents and our environment continue to suffer as a result.”

The million-gallon oil spill at Murphy Oil during Hurricane Katrina is an example of the burden born by residents who not only face loss of property during disasters, but also chemical contamination. Murphy Oil failed to follow its hurricane preparedness guidelines, causing one of its tanks to be lifted from its foundation and spill oil throughout a neighborhood. Returning neighbors were aware of the oil because of its obvious presence, but never received any guidance from the refinery, state or federal government.

“Oil was everywhere – in the house, in the slab. It was unreal and we decided to move away,“ said Johnny Lewis, a resident of Chalmette at the time. “I got zero information from the refinery, zero from government who is supposed to be looking out for us.”

The purpose of today’s press events is to protect public health by prompting industry and the state to properly inform residents of the dangers they face as a result of the flooding. Residents who see chemical contamination can make reports to LABB’s Chemical Accidents Crisis Map found at

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is an environmental health and justice organization supporting neighborhoods’ use of grassroots action to create informed, sustainable communities free from industrial pollution.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Fight Back Center Works to Maintain the Culture of the St. Bernard Community, by M. Endesha Juakali

The property at 3820 Alfred Street has always been the focal point of the St. Bernard community. As the headquarters of the New Day Black Community Development Organization, it provided economic assistance, advocacy against injustice, day care services, job banks, GED programs, a youth club and many other social, political, and recreational services. There is not much left of what used to be our community physically, but the spirit, culture, and love for St. Bernard still lives. The FIGHTBACK center is the perfect place for the yearly Mother's day reunions that the Big 7 parade has become. To see some pictures from this year's parade, see the survivors Village blog, at
Regaining our culture of cooperation and struggle
by M. Endesha Juakali

New Orleans and the St. Bernard community have always been a place where people enjoyed each other and loved a good party. But there is another part of our culture that I remember that seems to have disappeared lately. The original purpose of social aid and pleasure clubs was to assist the community and those who needed help. They were also called benevolent clubs because they were used to feed the hungry, help with rent and assist those in the community that were in need. A very large part of their benevolent activity was to bury indigent members of the community. The concept was that poor people could pool their pennies, nickels, and dimes into a sort of safety net for everyone. Therefore when they would come out yearly to embrace the pleasure side of the equation the entire community had a good reason to party with the membership.

It seems that the current generation of participants have forgotten the original intent of these Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs. The aid part came first and the pleasure is at the end. Since the hurricane and levee breaches, the Black community and all the neighborhoods have been under constant attack by the forces of white supremacy and injustice. They have thus far been successful in their plan to turn back the hands of time.

This necessitates a return to our roots, not only with helping each other, but also the community spirit to struggle against injustice.

The same brothers and sisters that put together the second line clubs, also challenged the national guard tanks in 1968 with rocks and bottles after the murder of Martin Luther King. They were the ones that put together the Black Youth for Progress (BYP), and represented us in the historic period that saw segregation fall and issued in the Black political progress that has been overturned since hurricane Katrina.

The culture of St. Bernard has been based on helping each other, fighting for our rights, and having a good time. We are still having a good time once a year, but life is not about just partying...even in New Orleans!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vote on SUNO/UNO Merger Expected Tomorrow

From our friends at the Save UNO Coalition:
The Save UNO Coalition encourages everyone who opposes the SUNO/UNO merger and supports higher ed to email or call your reps and senators today! The bill that would merge SUNO and UNO is going up for discussion and a vote in the house most likely tomorrow, and will be up in the senate soon. But, they need a 2/3 majority of each to pass this, and it looks tight. We really could make a difference and win this fight to keep both institutions open and protect a vital historically Black institution.

Below you can find links for your reps/senators and their contact info, as well as a form letter. Please personalize if you are able, and it also helps to add if you are a student, grad, parent, faculty, or staff at SUNO or UNO.

We would so appreciate it if you could take two minutes to send an email, and even more helpful would be to forward to any lists you're on and to ask your organizational members, family, friends, and coworkers to please make their opinions heard. It's close, but I really think we can win this one. Thanks so much!

Find your Louisiana representative and senator:

Find their contact info:
For the house:
For the senate:

Sample Letter:

Dear ___________,

As your constituent, I urge you to vote NO on HB 537 and SB 183, to oppose the merger of Southern University of New Orleans (SUNO) and the University of New Orleans (UNO); and to fully fund all institutions in Louisiana’s public higher education system.

Merging the two universities will create higher administrative costs for consultants to advise to the transition, rather than funneling money into maintaining and improving the many excellent programs that exist at both institutions. Estimates for the total cost of the merger process are largely unknown and greatly underestimated in the proposed legislation. Furthermore, SUNO’s role in the community as an historically Black university is extremely important. It should be protected and able to decide it’s own direction as an autonomous institution. The current version of the merger also threatens UNO’s position as an important research institution.

Transferring to the University of Louisiana (UL) system is not a viable alternative to improve New Orleans higher education. This transfer would lead to further cuts to funding and would destabilize tenure for our dedicated faculty. The Jindal administration severely cut state general fund support for higher education in 2009, most notably resulting in a 30% budget reduction, from $67 million to $45 million for UNO that was covered by federal stimulus money -- stimulus money that members of the Jindal administration criticized as wasteful government spending. Instead of an expensive merger followed by more cost cutting, state general fund support to UNO, SUNO, and the entire system of higher education in Louisiana should be restored to 2008-09 levels.

There is no evidence to show that the proposed merger of SUNO and UNO will ultimately improve the quality of public higher education in New Orleans, protect the integrity of our respective institutions, or save money. I urge you to invest in Louisiana’s future by funding both institutions and maintaining their accessibility to working class students. Oppose the merger and vote against HB 537 and SB 183!

Sincerely, _____________

Monday, May 16, 2011

Anger Against Landrieu, Serpas and NOPD Continues to Spread

At a forum on crime today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Police Superintendant Ronal Serpas faced an angry crowd and harsh questions. As reported in today's Times-Picayune, one respondent summed up the feelings in the room by asking, "How in the world can we as a city come together when there is crime in the Police Department itself, and you endorse those lies? That means you're a liar yourself. We're being bamboozled."

Today on WBOK, the city's only Black-owned radio station, callers were united in anger against Serpas and Landrieu, as they have been since the details of the latest corruption scandal were released. The anger also brought out dozens of people to a protest last Thursday outside police department headquarters, sponsored by the organization Community United for Change.

Nola Anarcha, a local blog, also has an angry commentary on the latest scandals, pointing out a legacy of violence and corruption charges against one family of officers, saying, "The Waguespack family name is one synonymous with scandal inside NOPD."

"Why do we continue to give these abusers free coffee, paid 'details,' and other kickbacks in exchange for a reprieve from their terror?" asks Nola Anarcha, providing links to coverage of scandals involving the family:
Would it not be better to get rid of people who use the threat of legalized violence to terrorize our communities, backed by a blind court system unwilling to sanction the indiscretions of it's running dogs, once and for all?
Joseph Waguespack and Henry Glover, and Payroll Fraud
Joe Waguespack Jr. and Jernard Thomas

Friday, May 13, 2011

Listen! Literacy and Arts Festival Next Weekend

One of New Orleans' most inspiring success stories is 2-Cent Entertainment. As we've written before, 2-Cent Entertainment is a remarkable New Orleans-based arts and activist collective who have built a national reputation for creating videos that are both informative and entertaining. They have received major national awards and rave reviews in the media. Their videos regularly get thousands of views, and the most popular have been seen millions of times.

Through all their success, their dedication to social justice has never wavered. They have a large local fan base who have been inspired by their commitment to building and supporting community. They have donated thousands of books to local students, and taught free classes to youth. Their videos address important issues and they lift up local voices.

Next weekend, 2-Cent will be taking another huge leap forward with Listen! Literacy and Arts Festival. From 2-Cent's description:
2-cent brings you a fun outdoor festival with a purpose. Listen! is an event put on by a collection of young people using literacy and art to address the issues facing the community. It's this generation's opportunity to use their talents in literary arts, music, visual arts, and film to inspire change. We feel an urgent need to focus on the violence and the education crisis. This is an opportunity for the youth to come together in a collective voice. All we ask is that the city come and listen.
Among the highlights of the fest are performances by Dee-1, Kourtney Heart, and Mannie Fresh, plus lots more. Listen! starts on noon on Saturday, May 21, at 2523 Bayou Road. We'll see you there.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

New Organizing Project Fights the Criminalization of LGBTQ Youth in New Orleans

From our friends at Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana and BreakOUT:
JJPL is excited to announce the launch of BreakOUT!, a new project that expands JJPL's LGBTQ Youth Project to keep LGBTQ youth voices in New Orleans at the center of juvenile and criminal justice reform efforts.

As many of you may know, JJPL has enjoyed an active LGBTQ Youth Project for several years, advocating on behalf of the numerous LGBTQ youth in secure care facilities across the state of Louisiana. To date, JJPL has trained juvenile justice stakeholders, including detention centers from all around the state, on the needs and issues faced by LGBTQ youth in the juvenile justice system, advocated for LGBTQ-specific policies in detention centers and in the Office of Juvenile Justice, and enjoyed plenty of media attention, including a special PBS segment titled Juvenile InJustice.

As the project gained more momentum over the past year, including seeing the release of the report Locked Up & Out: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth in Louisiana's Juvenile Justice System, JJPL quickly realized the need for greater resources for LGBTQ youth, both inside and outside the system.

Although incarcerated-LGBTQ youth voices have always been at the center of our work, JJPL is now proud to announce a project to organize LGBTQ youth in New Orleans around the criminalization of LGBTQ youth, including targeting from the police and disproportionate incarceration rates, both in adult and juvenile jails. This project, called BreakOUT! will conduct leadership development with youth who have had direct experiences with the criminal and juvenile justice systems in New Orleans to engage them on existing reform efforts in the city and develop campaigns to affect concrete policy changes to reduce the number of LGBTQ youth in the system. As a result of this work, JJPL is also proud to announce the passage of the first policy in Louisiana on the treatment of LGBTQ youth in detention at the Youth Study Center in New Orleans.

In fact, youth from BreakOUT! have already met with the Department of Justice (DOJ) numerous times about their experiences with the New Orleans Police Department and provided recommendations for reforms they would like to see implemented in the police department. Not long after BreakOUT! and partner organizations hosted a listening forum at Women with A Vision and met several times with the DOJ, the DOJ issued their investigative report of the NOPD, citing harassment and discrimination against the LGBTQ community, in particular, African American transgender women, as one of the most pressing issues in need of immediate attention and reform.

In order to help push these efforts forward and build the power of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans, BreakOUT! has opened a LGBTQ-youth space for further meetings and events.

Please join us at BreakOUT!'s Coming Out Party on Tuesday, May 17th from 6 pm to 9 pm at its new space located at 1001 S. Broad Street, New Orleans, LA 70125 (under the Broad St. bridge in the Art Egg Studio). Use the call box to dial suite 217 to be admitted. The housewarming party will also be an opportunity to celebrate International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Louisiana Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Confederate Justice in Caddo Parish

(For more on this story, see the recent LJI post on the case).
From a press release issued today by the Louisiana Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty:

The Louisiana Supreme Court heard arguments today in the capital trial of State of Louisiana versus Felton Dorsey. Cecilia Trenticosta argued on behalf of Felton Dorsey. Anna Arceneaux, of Shreveport La., argued on behalf of the 26 Caddo Parish and other Louisiana Clergy Leaders, 28 Law and history scholars, the ACLU, the NAACP, the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, the Equal Justice Initiative, the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute For Race And Justice, the Southern Center For Human Rights and Juror Carl Staples, that the presence of the Confederate Flag outside the Caddo Parish Courthouse had the invariable consequence of introducing race into the capital proceedings. The Louisiana Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (LCADP) traveled with Carl Staples to the Louisiana Supreme Court to hear the argument.

Mr. Staples, an African American man and long-time resident of Shreveport, was removed from the jury pool when he expressed outrage at being asked to decide on the life of another man with the Confederate Flag flying on the courthouse lawn: “You’re here for justice, and then again you overlook this great injustice by continuing to fly this flag which . . . put[s] salt in the wounds of . . . people of color.” In Mr. Dorsey’s case, the State used five of seven peremptory strikes to remove African-Americans jurors.

Sophie Cull, Director of LACDP, described the Confederate Flag outside the Caddo Parish Courthouse as “a symbol of the disenfranchisement of African-American jurors.” The question before the Louisiana Supreme Court, Cull notes, “is whether Louisiana will embrace a new day of full participation in the democratic process.”

This case is a powerful example of the widespread discrimination detailed in last year's Equal Justice Initiative Report.

The LCADP is concerned about the way race infects the administration of the death penalty in Caddo Parish, where the vast majority of death sentences are handed down by near all-white juries for the murder of white victims, even though 80% of murder victims in Caddo are African American.

Photo: Amici in this case and their supporters outside the court following arguments. Each are wearing badges stating "Subject to Removal for Cause." Excluded Juror Carl Staples is front and center.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Public Outcry on Police Corruption Leads to Suspension of Police Commander

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced today that he has suspended 8th District Police Commander Edwin Hosli, who had come under fire after revelations that a company he formed had profited by managing police reviews of traffic camera violations. In addition, the release on March 28 of an internal report that revealed widespread problems at the 8th district (download the report at this link) had brought further pressure on Hosli, as well as Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas, who is reportedly a close friend and ally of Hosli. Serpas was not in attendance for the announcement.

The revelations about Hosli and the 8th district had unleashed a floodgate of criticism in forums such as WBOK, the city's only Black-owned talk radio station. Many critics of police corruption see these charges as an indictment of not just the 8th District, but of Serpas' job as police chief, and by extension of Landrieu's choice of Serpas.

Mitch Landrieu campaigned on the promise of reform of the NOPD, and pledged a national search for a new police chief. When members of Landrieu's task force on the search for a new police chief resigned in protest, saying that they were not being meaningfully consulted on the search, many suspected that the national search was an illusion. The selection of Serpas, a childhood friend of Landrieu, seemed to confirm these suspicions.

Since his appointment, Serpas has worked overtime to assuage community concerns, making many public appearances and patiently answering questions at neighborhood forums and on WBOK's popular morning call-in show. However, these new revelations have brought back the initial public suspicion of Landrieu's choice.

The Mayor no doubt hopes that his quick suspension of Hosli will be enough to stem the tide of public anger. Will he prove correct?

New Date Set in Sentencing for Jena Six Defendant

In a court hearing yesterday, a new date was set for the sentencing of civil rights activist Catrina Wallace.

Wallace is the sister of Robert Bailey, one of the high school students collectively known as the Jena Six. She received national attention for her role in organizing protests around the Jena Six case, which brought 50,000 people on a march through the town of Jena on September 20, 2007. She was arrested in 2009 as part of a controversial series of arrests dubbed "Operation Third Option" by the local police. The arrests targeted almost exclusively African-Americans in a Parish that is 85% white.

28th District Judge J. Christopher Peters set a new sentencing date of June 1. At the same hearing, the judge denied a motion for a new trial filed by Wallace's attorneys.

2007 Photo of Catrina Wallace by Mavis Yorks.

National Labor Relations Board Finds Evidence of Illegal Activity by Sodexo in New Orleans

From a Press Release by the Service Employees International Union:
Sodexo Could Face Trial Over Alleged Violations of US Labor Law as NLRB Takes Up Charges against the Company

The National Labor Relations Board has determined there is enough evidence to pursue charges against Sodexo for allegedly violating US labor law. After an investigation, the NLRB found that charges of interrogating, spying on, firing and/or threatening to fire workers suspected of supporting the union, and illegally using campus police to force a union organizer off campus have merit and has ruled it has enough evidence to bring Sodexo to trial.

The charges stem from union activity at Tulane and Loyola universities from February to May of 2010. They include charges that Sodexo:

· Spied on workers engaged in union activity;

· Fired a pro-union Sodexo employee in retaliation for her union activity;

· Threatened employees with termination in retaliation for their union support;

· Used Tulane University police to expel a union organizer from campus;

· Used Tulane University police as its agent to interrogate employees regarding their union activity; and

· Retaliated against employees for union activity

The NLRB also found merit in charges against Tulane University including allegations relating to: illegally detaining and expelling pro-union Sodexo employees from its campus and unlawfully restricting access to the campus; illegally videotaping pro-union Sodexo employees; spying on pro-union employees by permanently posting its police officers outside cafeteria buildings on its campus; and illegally interrogating pro-union Sodexo employees in the presence of Sodexo managers and questioning employees regarding their union activities during those interviews. SEIU chose to withdraw several charges after Sodexo workers involved in the incidents were too frightened to testify against the company.


Unions and workers in seven countries including, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, England, France, Morocco and the United States have repeatedly asked Sodexo to sign an enforceable global framework agreement that guarantees a fair and fast process through which Sodexo workers can gain the right to be represented by a union and the right to bargain collectively through the most efficient process set by each country’s law without fear of retaliation or reprisal.

According to Sodexo’s own figures, a mere 15 percent of its workers in the United States have the right to bargain collectively with Sodexo, the other 85 percent have no collective bargaining rights at all. They have the lowest percentage of workers represented by unions of the three major foodservice companies in the United States. Sodexo, the 21st largest employer in the world, despite making more than a billion dollars profit in 2010, is criticized by its workers for paying them in the United States poverty wages and for not offering affordable healthcare options; two-thirds of Sodexo’s non-managerial employees in the United States are not covered by health insurance offered by the company.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Confederate Justice in Caddo Parish

It's been documented in numerous studies that justice in Louisiana is not colorblind. Caddo Parish, where Shreveport is located, has among the highest rates of death sentences in Louisiana, with seventeen men and one woman sentenced to death, fourteen of whom have been African-American men. One study found “a less than one-in-ten-thousand chance that the prosecuted cases were a racially random sample drawn from the homicide group.” Adding to the atmosphere of racial prejudice, these convictions have come in a courthouse with a confederate memorial - and confederate flag - placed at the entrance.
The monument, and the injustice perpetrated under its shadow, are powerfully described in a recent article by Cecelia Trenticosta:
A bust of a Confederate general is mounted at each corner. Stonewall Jackson stares to the north. Pierre Beauregard looks east. Henry Watkins Allen stands guard to the west. And Robert E. Lee watches south. Atop the monument stands a proud confederate soldier, holding a rifle. He is unnamed, presumably to represent everyman. Or, rather, every white man...

The flag itself is the Third National Flag of the Confederacy—the “blood-stained banner.” This flag was developed during the last throes of the Confederacy as a way to incorporate the battle flag (the St. Andrew’s Cross) with a red stripe running down the edge to symbolize the Confederates’ willingness to die for their cause. Shreveport—the last capital of the Confederate States—raises this flag in defiance of the fact that the war is over, and its cause lost.

This flag and monument, however, are not a part of a museum, or a freestanding monument apart from government property. Flanked by ancient live oaks, it stands as the only structure on the courthouse lawn at the Caddo Parish Courthouse. Every person summoned for jury duty, as well as every judge, clerk, employee, attorney, guard, police officer, and defendant must pass beneath the flag and monument.

Under this Confederate Flag, Caddo Parish administers Louisiana’s death penalty, its harsh felon-disenfranchisement laws, and its vast web of prosecutorial discretion under this flag.

Carl Staples, an African American native of Chicago who moved to Shreveport in the 1970s following the race riots and had been registered to vote in Shreveport for 30 years, was summoned for jury duty at the Caddo Parish Courthouse on May 14, 2009, in the capital case of Felton Dejuan Dorsey, a poor black man accused of killing a white firefighter in a majority-white area of Caddo Parish. Knowing that the courthouse flies a Confederate flag, he called the clerk’s office to state his objection to serving under the flag. The clerk told him that if he did not show up for jury duty, a warrant would be put out for his arrest. So he swallowed his pride and walked beneath the Confederate flag and past the monument to the Confederacy for jury selection. When called for individual examination, Staples stated:

[the flag] is a symbol of one of the most . . . heinous crimes ever committed to another member of the human race, and I just don’t see how you could say that, I mean, you’re here for justice, and then again you overlook this great injustice by continuing to fly this flag which . . put[s] salt in the wounds of . . . people of color. I don’t buy it.

The prosecutor promptly moved the court to strike Staples, arguing that he could not be fair. The judge granted the motion. The prosecutor then proceeded to strike five out of the remaining seven qualified black prospective jurors. The defense objected to the strikes as racially discriminatory in violation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Batson v. Kentucky. The trial judge rejected the challenge. Dorsey, a black man accused of killing a white victim, was convicted and sentenced to death by a jury of eleven whites and one black.

A recent appeal filed in Dorsey's case asks if justice can be administered fairly under the watchful eye of a symbol of white supremacy. The brief states that "Prominently displayed in front of the Caddo Parish courthouse, the Confederate flag represents for many people, and particularly for African-Americans, public entrenchment of racism in the parish’s judicial system and an endorsement of historical efforts to deny African-Americans equality under the law. The flag, as a public symbol of racial bias, poses an intolerable risk that capital punishment cannot be fairly administered within the courthouse walls."

It's clear that Dorsey's conviction was a case of Confederate justice. Will the Louisiana Supreme Court recognize this?

Monday, May 2, 2011

New Orleans Workers Take to the Streets on Mayday

For the fifth year in a row, workers from the Congress of Day Laborers, STAND with Dignity, and the Alliance of Guestworkers for Dignity organized a Mayday march through downtown New Orleans, starting at historic Congo Square, marching up Canal Street and down Poydras, and ending at City Hall. Among other organizations represented were ROC New Orleans and the Teamsters union. The march began and ended with speeches by workers and their supporters (including activist and former political prisoner Mwalimu Johnson), and more than a hundred workers - and a brass band - marched proudly through the streets,
Mayday is an international holiday dedicated to workers rights, and every year around the world millions of people participate in Mayday marches. Ironically, the holiday was started in the US, but because of its origins among anarchist activists and later adoption by socialist and communist movements, it is not widely recognized in this country. On May 1, 1886, tens of thousands of people marched in Chicago on a protest called by anarchist organizers in support of striking workers and the 8-hour-workday. Four of these organizers were later killed by the state in what was widely seen as revenge for their organizing. The struggle for an 8-hour workday was ultimately successful (though many of those and other achievements in the area of workers rights have since been undermined) but the radical organizers that died in that struggle rarely receive recognition.

In recent years, immigrant workers in the US - many of whom come from countries where Mayday is a much more widely celebrated occasion - have reclaimed the holiday. In 2006, hundreds of thousands of workers across the US, mostly Latino immigrants, marched on May 1 for immigration reform. In New Orleans, thousands of workers who had come to the city to work in reconstruction and been demonized and exploited marched on May 1 2006. This was the first large public expression of what would become a movement in this city. Today, these workers have built principled coalitions with other workers, and won real victories at City Hall.

While this year's march was not as large as the 2006 protests, it provided an important opportunity for immigrant workers in New Orleans and their allies to publicly demand their rights.

Want less blight? Create more jobs!

This post comes from our friends at The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center:
Blight is a big issue in New Orleans. And we all understand that to sustainably address blight, we need more population to fill and maintain buildings.

But how do we grow our population? Well, the short answer is...create more jobs.

The metro area population grows and shrinks in parallel with jobs. Improving schools and city services can help the city compete with the suburbs for residents. But equally important is growing the number of jobs regionally so we can grow the regional population. And those jobs need to be good paying jobs so residents can afford to maintain our beautiful historic homes.

Unfortunately the New Orleans metro lost 16 percent of all jobs and 11 percent of total population over the last decade. Many people think that the New Orleans area failed to regain its pre-Katrina population, because it failed to rebuild all of its pre-Katrina housing. In fact it was the destruction to jobs that kept our population from fully rebounding.

To find out more about how job and population loss has contributed to increased blight...and what can be done about it, check out Fewer jobs means fewer people and more vacant housing.

While you’re enjoying Jazz Fest this year, try your hand at convincing out-of-town friends to move their families *and* their businesses to New Orleans!


The Team

Allison Plyer, Elaine Ortiz, Melissa Schigoda, Ben Horwitz, Susan Sellers, and Charlotte Cunliffe