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Marion Brothers

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Spiritual Gladiator

By Eddie Griffin

Friday, January 23, 2009

I cut my teeth as a penitentiary gladiator, not by choice, but by being thrust into hand-to-hand combat to survive. I bear witness that there is a God somewhere, and that He watched over me and delivered me from hell. So, I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.

Don’t get me wrong and think, for one second, it was not an easy conversion. I lived and breathed combat while in prison. But this one thing I always remembered: Thou shall not kill. I never took the blood of the innocent, and neither have I taken the life of the guilty. I was a man who hated bloodshed. The very sight of blood made me want to throw up.

So, you know how I felt going into a meeting with a Mafia don who wanted to whack a black inmate.

Word came to Akinshiju that the don wanted to speak to the brothers. There was a general rule in the penitentiary that a white inmate could not kill a black inmate without permission. Otherwise, it would set off a race riot.

And, so that’s what the Mafia don wanted to avoid. We, on the other hand, represented the brothers, the black inmates in the prison. There, I found myself seated at the negotiation table, five of us, three of them. Two bodyguards accompanied the old Mafioso. They stood at his shoulders like two muscle-bound angels. And, I imaged wings upon his shoulders, like a bird colonel. He was a man with power and authority in the joint, a man worth millions on the outside world. But he was not in the side world. Here, we were all the same, all equal, but we had the more deadly force. We had the numbers.

In his raspy voice, he explained the offense of the “maricon”. The black inmate, new to the environment, had taken liberty with the don’s property, to wit, a candy bar.

Akinshiju blurted out, “You mean that you want to kill a brother because he stole a candy bar.”

Thou shall not steal. It could cost a man his life, or the rest thereof.

The don explained that it was a matter of respect. In Italian culture respect comes with a high price.

Looking around the room, Akinsijui blurted out again, “Can someone talk to this fool?”

My first instincts: “I will,” I replied, without hesitation. Damn, did I just say that, I thought.

It was now on me. The blood of this fool was now on my hand.

They gave me a message to deliver to the inmate, and a plan of what to do if he complies and what to do if he didn’t comply. But I was afraid that when I delivered the message, the fool would take a swing at me. I was trained but never tested. This would be my first true test. My mission was to save a fool from execution by two penitentiary assassins. I could not live with myself if I allowed him to be killed without giving him a warning.

I found myself on the morning of the hit walking the young brother to the mess hall for breakfast. I whispered as we walk, “Check in, or you will not live the day out.” This meant checking into protective custody and being locked up in segregation for his protection.

He looked at me with a frown, “Nigger, who do you think…” He clutched his fist as if to prepare to throw a punch.

In a split second, I replied, “I am the messenger. You do not want to touch the messenger. You’ve been told.” Sweet to the letter, I rehearsed these words. Not even I knew when I was bluffing. Bluffing is half the psychological battle. Backing it up is the other half.

I was trained for this moment. But the punch never came. Instead, the inmate fled to the nearest guard and checked in. It was then that I learned the burden of being a peacekeeper in prison. Thereafter, men in prison reported to me ever blood curdling horror of fights, hits, and rumors of violence. Most of us just wanted to serve out our time as peacefully as possible. But sometimes violence erupted. We had to meet it head-on.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

SPECIAL INAUGURATION DAY EDITION

Jan 21, 2009
Volume 2 - No. 3
Darwin Campbell, Executive Publisher
LoneStarPowerPages, A Weekly Publication


In this edition: PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION 2009 - Barack Obama

Inauguration Day Stories - President Obama Inspires America

President Barack Obama Inauguration Speech

Inauguration Day Photo Pages 1

Beyonce singing the Etta James Classic 'At Last'





Inauguration Day Photo Pages 2



Dear Mr. President: Ratify UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
By Eddie Griffin, BASG

www.lonestarpowerpages.com

Thanks you,
Darwin Campbell, Publisher

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The President of the United States:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

With these words, Barack H. Obama will go down in history as the 44th President of the United States of America, a moment in history unlike any other.

Sound the bells! Blow the trumpets!

Here is my send-off to all of my Friends, Family, Students, and Understudies who are going to the Inauguration: My Best Wishes!

Eddie G. Griffin, BASG

Published: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2008

President of the United States of America
Barack H. Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C.

Mr. President: Please Ratify UN Human Rights

Schedule: January 20 — Inauguration Day

FORECAST: According to the National Weather Service, a typical Inauguration Day's normal temperature for the noon hour is about 37°F under a partly cloudy sky with a 10 mph wind. They rate the chances of precipitation at 1 in 6 and the chances of snow at 1 in 20. On the plus side, if it does rain or snow, there is a strong likelihood (a 4 to 1 chance) it will only wet the pavement.

Time - Event
8:00 AM Gates open for ticketed attendees -- if you have tickets, it will be wise to arrive very early as crowds will be huge and security heavy.
10:00 AM Preliminary festivities begin, including music by The United States Marine Band, The San Francisco Boys Chorus, and the San Francisco Girls Chorus.
11:30 AM If you have tickets to event, you must have passed through security by this time.
• Call to Order and Welcoming Remarks: Senator Dianne Feinstein
• Invocation: Dr. Rick Warren
• Aretha Franklin will sing
• Vice President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn into office
• Music composed by John Williams and performed by Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, and Anthony McGill.

12:00 Noon As specified by the U.S. Constitution (20th Amendment), presidential terms of office begin and end at 12:00 noon on January 20. Barack Obama will take the oath of office, which is this simple, 36-word, statement:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

12:05 PM (approx) President Barack Obama will give his inaugural address, speaking to the nation and world, for the first time, as President of the United States, followed by:
• Poem: Elizabeth Alexander
• Benediction: The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery
• The National Anthem: The United States Navy Band "Sea Chanters"

1:00 PM (approx) Inaugural Luncheon. For details on the menu and invited guests, see the news release.

2:00 PM (approx) Parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. If you have tickets, you need to be in your seats by 1:00 PM.
The Presidential Inauguration Committee announced on January 9 that 5,000 tickets to the parade would go on sale through Ticketmaster at 1:00 PM that day. They sold out quickly -- no more are available.

Evening There are many inaugural balls held around Washington, DC. Some will be hosted by President Obama, others are just parties.

Balls Hosted by President Obama
For details, see the press release.
• Youth Inaugural Ball - Young Americans aged 18-35
• Obama Home States Inaugural Ball - Illinois and Hawaii invited guests
• Biden Home States Inaugural Ball - Delaware and Pennsylvania invited guests
• Eastern Inaugural Ball - CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT, PR, and USVI invited guests
• Mid-Atlantic Inaugural Ball - MD, VA, DC, NY, NJ, and WV invited guests
• Midwest Inaugural Ball - KS, IN, IA, MI, MN, ND, NE, OH, SD, WI, and MO invited guests
• Southern Inaugural Ball - AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, and TX invited guests
• Western Inaugural Ball - AK, CA, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY, AZ, CO, NV, NM, UT, OK, GUAM/AS invited guests
• Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, hosted by President Obama (New 1/5)
Washington Convention Center. Low Cost and open to public.
• Commander-in-Chief's Ball, hosted by President Obama (New 1/1)
For men and women in uniform only.
Unofficial Balls
• All American Ball
• Change Has Come Inaugural Gala
• NEW 1/9: "The Dream Come True" Inauguration Gala (7:30 PM EST – 1:30 AM)
• Hawaii State Society Inaugural Ball
• The Hill Ball
• Inaugural Purple Ball
• Link Live Inaugural Gal
• MTV Be the Change Inaugural Ball
• State Society of Arizona Inaugural Ball
• Unity Ball
• Blue Diamond Ball
• Hip Hop Inaugural Ball

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Judge Orders Release of Young Guantanamo Prisoner

By Eddie Griffin

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Star-Telegram reported: Mohammed el Gharani, should be released from the U.S. prison in Cuba “forthwith”, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said in a ruling from the bench.

WASHINGTON (CNN) reports that the Chadian nationality was the youngest prisoner sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention center -- captured in Pakistan at 14… The judge ruled that el-Gharani, now 21, was not an enemy combatant and directed the military to take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps to facilitate his release.

The U.S. government had claimed that el-Gharani had been a member of an al-Qaeda cell based in London since the age of 11.

BASG began blogging about the plight of Mohammed el Gharani and 37 other underage inmates identified by the International Red Cross, confined at the Guantanamo Bay facilities in May 2008. Children in combat zones have rights, both constitutionally and according to UN Convention. But the Bush administration had created what President-elect called a “legal black hole”.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the General Assembly in 1993 requested the Secretary-General to appoint an expert to study the impact of armed conflict on children. After two years of research, field visits and consultations, Gra├ža Machel, the Secretary-General's Expert on the subject and a former Minister for Education in Mozambique, submitted a report, titled Impact of Armed Conflict on Children (document A/51/306 and Add. 1), to the 1996 session of the General Assembly.

The most fundamental premise of this report is that children simply have no part in warfare.

The United States and Somalia are the only two countries that have not signed the CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD, which was adopted by all other nations on November 20, 1989.

In a May 27, 2008 email to Ursula Wynhoven, United Nations Commission on Human Rights: (Source: http://eddiegriffinbasg.blogspot.com/2008/05/us-violates-human-rights-of-child.html)

The United States has captured a number of child-soldier combatants as young as 12 years old. The government has kept these cases hidden from the American public. These children are branded as “terrorists”. They have been detained in harsh facilities with adults, held for years without being charged, (some for up to six years)… One child prisoner, Mohamed el Gharani, is accused of involvement in a 1998 al-Qa'ida plot in London led by the alleged al-Qa'ida leader in Europe, Abu Qatada. But he was 12 years old at the time and living with his parents in Saudi Arabia… After being arrested in Karachi in October 2001, at aged 14, he has spent several years in solitary confinement as an alleged al-Qa'ida-trained fighter.

In a May 29, 2008 email to U.S. Rep. Michael C. Burgess and U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, we requested that the tribunal records on these young POWs be opened for public scrutiny, because most American people were not aware that we were holding children in harsh prison detention.

On September 26, 2008, BASG brought the matter to the attention of Magnus Bergmar, Executive Director. Children’s World in Mariefred, Sweden, due to a lack of media coverage in the United States. (See excerpts below)

As the United States of America prepares to choose the next President, I am fearful the next administration and the rest of the world will forget about the underage captives taken in the combat zone and branded as “terrorist”. Some of these children were only 14 and 15 years old when detained by the U.S. military.

In the past, we written to you and kept you abreast of their plight. Now one of the government tribunal prosecutors has quit and is ready to testify that the rights of one of these children were violated.

These children were taken into custody, originally denied representation and parental visits. They were held incommunicado in isolated areas and tortured.

Now a former U.S. military prosecutor at Guantanamo who accuses his superiors of suppressing evidence refused Thursday to testify in a war crimes case unless he is granted immunity… Army Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, who was called as a defense witness, revealed a day earlier that he quit over what he called ethical lapses by prosecutors.


In another case brought before the federal courts in October 2008, BASG reported:

U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ordered the Bush administration Tuesday to immediately free 17 Chinese Muslims from Guantanamo Bay into the United States... Over the objections of government lawyers, Urbina ordered their release in Washington D.C. by Friday.

“Because the Constitution prohibits indefinite detentions without cause, the continued detention is unlawful… I think the moment has arrived for the court to shine the light of constitutionality on the reasons for the detention,” Urbina said.

We are pleased to see the new U.S. administration plans to close the Guantanamo Bay facility, as articulated by Attorney General-nominee Eric Holder. But what will become of these children captured in the war zone is another question.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

RE: BART Police Officer arrested for murder of Oscar Grant

BART Board of Directors
P.O. Box 12688
Oakland , CA 94604-2688
(510) 464-6095
BoardofDirectors@bart.gov

c/o Kenneth A. Duron
District Secretary
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District
300 Lakeside Drive, 23rd Floor, Oakland , California 94612
510.464.6080, fax: 510.464.6011
"Kduron" Kduron@bart.gov

To Directors: Carole Ward Allen, Bob Franklin, Joel Keller, Gail Murray, John McPartland, Thomas Blalock, Lynette Sweet, James Fang, Tom Radulovich

Thank you for taking the wise course of action that led to the arrest of the assailing officer. The statement issued by the BART Board of Directors may serve to heal the rift between the police department and the community. It is a model, if designed well and implemented, may well serve as a model of law enforcement around the nation.

The case still requires an answer to the Federal Civil Rights question:

Did the officer deny the victim the right to life, protected by federal due process of law? The officer acted as judge, jury, and executioner. This is summary execution under the color of law.

Thank you again.

Sincerely,
Eddie Griffin



01.14.2009
BART Board and General Manager react to arrest of former officer
Today, BART’s top officials issued the following statement following the arrest of former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle involved in the death of Oscar Grant on the morning of New Year’s Day at the Fruitvale BART Station:

"From the moment this shooting occurred, nine detectives worked diligently to conduct a thorough and complete investigation and to swiftly turn the results over to Alameda County District Attorney Thomas Orloff," BART Board President Thomas Blalock said. "The District Attorney has decided, based on the evidence presented to him, to bring charges. Mr. Mehserle is going to have to stand trail for the crime with which he is charged. This is now in the hands of the District Attorney and ultimately a jury to decide. This investigation shows that no one is above the law, but everyone is entitled to due process of the law. BART investigated this shooting thoroughly and treated the investigation and information no differently because the suspect involved was a police officer. Now we have to let due process take its course."

"We want the public to know that this one incident is not reflective of BART, its police or its employees," BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger said. "I have great confidence in the professionalism of the BART Police Department. This was a tragic event in which a life was lost for which someone has been arrested and charged. The BART Police Department is a professional force of 206 sworn men and women who work everyday to ensure the safety of more than 100 million customers who annually ride BART."

"We know that this shooting has caused anger and concern in the community. We pledge to work with the community to rebuild the trust it has placed in our transit agency," BART Board Member Carole Ward Allen said. "As the first step in that process, the BART Board of Directors on Monday established a Board Committee, which I chair, to review police practices and procedures, including hiring and training, and to identify opportunities to further strengthen the rigorous standards currently in place which meet or exceed California Peace Officer Standards and Training. Our goal is to make sure that something like this never happens again."

BACKGROUND ON BART POLICE

Rigorous standards for hiring exceed those established by the State of California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST); training is POST compliant and continues throughout an officer’s career. Established policies and procedures guide officer conduct. Officers are expected to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct.

BART Police Department hiring and screening procedures are fully compliant with the California Commission of Peace Officer Standards and Training, and recommendations of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Read more on POST standards (outside link to POST website).

POST requirements include academy training, a full psychological and medical evaluation and a comprehensive background evaluation

BART exceeds POST requirements by requiring:
polygraph test
1 year of college
20 weeks of field training with daily officer review
1 year probationary period.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Demand Immediate Arrest of Suspect in Oscar Grant Shooting

National Civil Rights Group Demands Immediate Arrest of Suspect in Oscar Grant Shooting

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

U.S. and California Departments of Justice Urged to Wrest Investigation from District Attorney

Oakland, CA-
ColorOfChange.org called on California Attorney General Jerry Brown today to take over the investigation of the New Year's Eve shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant and to immediately arrest the transit police officer who killed Grant.

The Oakland-based organization has called on its more than 450,000 members nationwide to sign an open letter demanding that Brown do what Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff has not: arrest Johannes Mehserle and launch an aggressive, independent investigation worthy of the public's confidence.

"Anyone else caught on video shooting a defenseless man in the back would be in jail by now," said James Rucker, executive director of ColorOfChange.org. "It's been more than 10 days, and this killer is still free to walk the streets. The Alameda County District Attorney is failing the public and failing Oscar Grant."

Damning video evidence that has circulated online since the murder shows Mehserle shooting Grant at close range while Grant lay face down on a subway platform. Multiple videos clearly show that the shooting was unprovoked and unnecessary.

Mehserle has refused to talk to prosecutors and resigned from the BARTpolice force rather than face the agency's investigators. The Alameda County District Attorney, whose office could not remember prosecuting a fatal police-involved shooting in at least two decades, has said it will take weeks before he can decide whether to bring charges.

The group noted that California's Constitution directs the Attorney General to prosecute crimes that are ignored at the county level.

"Whenever in the opinion of the Attorney General any law of the State is not being adequately enforced in any county, it shall be the duty of the Attorney General to prosecute any violations of law of which the superior court shall have jurisdiction, and in such cases the Attorney General shall have all the powers of a district attorney," Article V, section 13 of the state's Constitution reads. "When required by the public interest or directed by the Governor, the Attorney General shall assist any district attorney in the discharge of the duties of that office."

Brown announced Saturday that he was placing a staffer in the Alameda County District Attorney's office to observe the investigation. But ColorOfChange.org argued Tuesday that Brown should order Mehserle arrested immediately and take over the investigation given the clarity of evidence in the case, the need for public confidence, and the Alameda County District Attorney's history of inaction in officer-involved shootings.

In addition to calling on California's Attorney General to arrest Mehserle and take over the investigation, ColorOfChange.org members are signing on to a letter urging the U.S. Department of Justice to launch its own independent investigation.

With nearly half a million members, ColorOfChange.org is the largest African-American online political organization in the country.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


ColorOfChange.org's letters to California's Attorney General and the US Department of Justice can be found here:

http://colorofchange.org/oscar

ColorOfChange.org's message to its members can be found here:

http://colorofchange.org/oscar/message.html

Monday, January 12, 2009

Texas Youth Commission Sex Scandal UPDATE

TO MEMBERS OF THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE

Texas Youth Commission Sex Scandal UPDATE - from Eddie Griffin

Review the article below, it is the update and shortcomings of the TYC sexual assaults case. The investigation now reveals that innocent boys were double-bunked with known youth sex offenders in certain TYC facilities.

Such revelations make it appear that Jerry Madden and other state legislators either missed the slow boat the China in the last election or missed the essence of the problem, placed right in front of their oversight eyes.

Previously, we documented that a culture of corruption and sexual exploitation of youth prevailed inside the Texas Youth Commission. Under-age prisoners confined in youth detention facilities were being “turned out” for the pleasure of sexual exploiters like Warden Ray Brookins and administrator John Paul Hernandez.

Other cases of prison gang rapes were reported, in conjunction with allegations that these same victims were later victimized by agency officials.

It is a well-known practice for prison officials knowingly double-up innocent kids with known “booty bandits”, sometimes for pacification of dangerous inmates, and at other times, to use the humiliation and shame to force them into further sexual acts for their own deviant pleasures.

When such cases came to light through prison grievance proceedings, they were routinely squashed by the very perpetrators in their official office, operating under the colors of law, and immune from oversight.

What recourse does an inmate have to petition for redress of their grievances if the very people reviewing the grievances is the perpetrator of the crime, a system which we often referred to as “the fox watching the hen house”? These kids thus have no one to hear or heed their cries.

“It sounds like nothing has changed out there … that mistakes are still occurring that absolutely should not be,” said House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, who said he is demanding answers from Townsend.

Dear Rep. Jerry Madden:

You cannot reform a culture of corruption, as demonstrated in TYC, as it is currently structured and operated. The system breeds sociopath predators, and it corrupts the morals of those who hold absolute power… that is power, without legislative review.

If you turn over a rock, Jerry, as I told you before, don’t be surprised at what you find. Mike Ward of the Statesman is my witness.

Shaquanda Cotton’s case is a cause celebre for African-Americans because people can see a direct line from the schoolhouse to the courthouse to the jailhouse for black youth, even a first time offender. At the end of the juvenile justice process is incarceration inside a TYC prison, which is now discovered as a sexual paradise for pedophile officials, who used their influence to lengthen or shorten juvenile sentences, who use intimidation against staff, exploit inmate-on-inmate violence and rape to promote their perverse sexual appetites.
[Source: Local News Finally Gives Shaquanda Cotton Front Page Status by Eddie Griffin, April 9, 2007]


TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 2007
Texas Corrections Guards Indicted for Felony Sexual Assault on Adolescent Detainees
By Eddie Griffin

The Shaquanda Cotton case brought sorely needed attention to other outrages in the Texas Youth Corrections system, now leading indictments of TYC guards on charges of felony sexual assault of adolescents who were in their charge.

Mike Ward of the Texas' Austin American Statesman reports:
Two former administrators at the West Texas youth lockup whose alleged attacks on incarcerated teen-aged boys ignited a statewide corruption scandal were indicted today on felony sexual assault charges.

Ray Brookins, 42, the former assistant superintendent of the West Texas State School, and John Paul Hernandez, 41, the school's former principal, were named by a Ward County grand jury in Monahans on 13 charges involving six students — who were ages 16 to 19 at the time of the alleged attacks.

If convicted, the men face a maximum 20 years in prison on each count, authorities said.

Investigators said Brookins, arrested by Texas Rangers at his apartment in Northeast Austin, was being held in the Travis County jail on $100,000 bail. Hernandez, arrested at his parents' home in Fort Stockton, was being held in lieu of $600,000 bail, officials said.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who assisted prosecutors from his office in presenting the case, hailed the indictments as a first step to justice in the headline-grabbing scandal.

"With today's indictments, the victims of sexual abuse at West Texas State School are a step closer to the justice they deserve," Abbott said in a statement. Calling the cases "very troubling," he pledged that his office will "continue working with state and local officials to aggressively pursue allegations of wrongdoing at Texas Youth Commission facilities." Statesman.com


The Eddie G. Griffin (BASG) blog and other Afrosphere blogs are determined to keep the pressure on the State of Texas to thoroughly review and reform the system that has condemned many Black youths to prison time exceeding their judge-made minimum sentences, while other detained adolescents were the targets of on-staff pedophiles whose sexual predation was ignored by the state and federal governments.

Dear Jerry,

The legislature needs to address the issue head-on. There are too many youth incarcerated in TYC over frivolous misdemeanors and minor property crimes, who are sent to prison and crippled for life.

Why? Because some prison warden and his hunting buddies want to turn these kids into their personal little sex kitten… Jerry, who do you tolerate this, when you clearly see what it was, and you have oversight charges?

Sincerely,
Eddie Griffin (BASG)


Inquiry widens into recent TYC sex assaults

Several boys who were sexually assaulted at a lockup had been double-bunked with youths accused of sex crimes, officials confirmed.

Inquiry widens into recent TYC sex assaults
By Mike Ward | Friday, January 9, 2009, 12:01 PM

Texas Youth Commission investigators are trying to determine why several incarcerated teenaged boys who were sexually assaulted at a Waco-area lockup had been double-bunked with other youths accused of sex crimes, officials confirmed this afternoon.

Cell assignments such as that should have been prohibited.

In one case, officials said, one of the youths with no sex-offense record was assaulted after being bunked with a boy with such a record.

According to a confidential update provided to legislative leaders earlier this week by TYC Executive Commissioner Cheri Townsend, five youth-on-youth sex assaults were reported. While two youths have since recanted in one case, the others remain under investigation.

Two have been referred to prosecutors, two are awaiting lab test results, according to the memo.

According to officials familiar with the cases, the youths involved are between 15 and 17 years old.

“Of the youth (alleged victims and perpetrators) involved in the five cases, one youth (an alleged perpetrator) had no previous record of sexual assaults,” Townsend’s memo states.

“It’s is being looked at — how that happened — and how policies and practices were being followed,” said agency spokesman Jim Hurley. “We have a full investigation underway.”

Other officials familiar with the criminal investigation said it has widened in recent days to determine how the mistakes occurred in November and December at the McLennan County State Juvenile Correctional Facility in Mart, outside Waco — despite strict policies enacted after a sex-abuse scandal brought top-to-bottom reforms at the agency just two years ago.

Authorities also want to determine which Youth Commission officials signed off on the double-bunking, whether the agency’s new classification system failed in red-flagging the assignments and why the mistaken assignments were not discovered until after the youths reported being assaulted.

Investigators are also looking at whether agency officials did enough to prevent the assaults.

Citing the ongoing investigation, Hurley said he could discuss further details on instructions of top agency officials. No charges have been filed, he said.

Legislative leaders who have worked for two years on reforms at the troubled agency are hopping mad about the cases.

“It sounds like nothing has changed out there … that mistakes are still occurring that absolutely should not be,” said House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, who said he is demanding answers from Townsend.

“This is unacceptable.”

Townsend listed several operational changes that have been made to ensure such mistakes don’t happen again, including a review of room assignments at all Youth Commission lockups, sexual-assault prevention training for staff and more frequent checks by staff on cells that are double-bunked.

The memo hints that a backlog of psychiatric exams at incarcerated teen-agers may have been a factor in the cases, and says that “intake staff have been directed to review the entire criminal and social histories of youth before making dorm and room assignments to ensure proper placement of youth who have committed sexual offenses,” the memo states.

The document also notes that the agency’s Safe Housing Policy is still awaiting approval, despite earlier public assurances by Youth Commission officials that it was in place.

Two years ago this spring, the agency made headlines for not properly investigating thousands of alleged sexual assaults over several years — youth-on-youth, youth-on-staff, staff-on-youth — amid allegations that top officials covered up repeated policy and criminal violations.

As a result, most of the agency’s top management was fired and it was placed in a form of receivership that ended only last October, after Gov. Rick Perry was assured that Legislature-mandated reforms had fixed a myriad of management and operational flaws.

Two former top officials at two lockups — Ray Brookins and John Paul Hernandez — were charged with having sex with several boys, and are awaiting trial. They were among more than two dozen onetime employees and others who faced criminal charges stemming from the thousands of assault allegations that were investigated.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Candle Lit for OSCAR GRANT

HAT TIP to Richard, the brother who walked into the midst of the riot with only a candle

This is his story:

.....A Narrative With More Heart And Truth, And Less Racist Sensationalism.....
Wednesday, Jan 7th. Oscar Grant Protest/Riots, Downtown Oakland


The news about how Oscar Grant was killed by the police weighed heavily on me, and the video footage looped in my head.

after wheeling my records home from my gig, i wash my face and call a taxi. i walk outside to wait, and the sky is buzzing with helicopters. (at 10:33pm, it still is... i can see searchlights crawl over the Tribune building) my head is turned skyward, approximating the helicopters to be somewhere by the lake. maybe by International.

an older black man stops and says
"They protestin' Oscar Grant you know."
i tell him that's where i want to go.
he says
"This ain't nothin new you know, cops killing black people.
They usually say that the man was resisting arrest or sumpn.
This one just got caught."
I nod in agreement.

The taxi pulls up, i recognize the driver from lifts to dj gigs. i greet him and smile, and then look upwards. looking back at him, i say "could you follow the helicopters?"
and we're off.
for a moment i enjoy the fact that i just asked a taxi to follow helicopters.
we talk, he shares his outrage, shakes his head in grief. soon, we are at a police blockade, and i can see the crowd swelling behind them. we pull over, i pay and tip the driver.
he looks me in the eyes.
"Thank you. Be safe."
"You too."

I walk past the blockade without interference.
i approach the crowd
they are chanting

WE

ARE

ALL

OSCAR 
GRANT

i join in.

and i light my white seven day candle
in its glass sleeve.

soon, i see people i know.

there are smiles and hugs,
and also shaking of heads.

There are Korean drummers beating out poongmul rhythms, lots of bicyclists, huge banners indicting killer cops, bullhorns shouting chants of No Justice, No Peace.

i notice that the crowd is mixed, but with a lot of white folks.

some young white kids are in full black with hoodies and bandanas covering their faces.
One is carrying a black flag.

Black Bloc. "Anarchists."

They keep trying to set fire to stuff, and others keep trying to put em out.

i feel anger because i know that the media will racialize the unrest to **not** look like these suburbanites who use protests as an excuse to smash stuff. Not very radical seeming to me.

We converge on the BART Police station.
A police car is in the middle of the road.
The chants turn into

No Justice No Peace, Fuck The Police!

Some of us look at each other, not chanting.

Then the rocks started being thrown.

And then someone was jumping on the police car.

And then a dumpster was on fire.

And then the dumpster was pushed towards the now rocking police car, as people attempted to turn it over.

I am starting to buzz with adrenaline. I reach for my face towel, awaiting what had to be inevitable. I looked around to see if i could see them-

There they were. Riot cops blocking off one street walking towards the intersection.

I started backing away, and seconds later came the tear gas.

I only smelled a little of it thanks to my towel, and i was far enough for it not to get in my eyes.

I am still holding my candle.
I am the only one holding a candle.
I feel strangely out of place
and also that this is the most important place for me to be
with a lone candle.

even police have been smiling and nodding at me.
somehow, this candle has transformed me from being
a racially profiled target
into the one person that maybe they aren't so worried about.

more kids show up, i am also no longer sure who is genuinely angry, and who is just ready to wreck shit.

trash cans are pulled into the road, cars are now being walked and stomped on.

as a protestor, and not a rioter, i figure its now time to go home.

i text friends letting them know they can come over if things get hectic. I text other friends to let them know that Downtown Oakland is going crazy.

i am stopped by an older black man on the way home. His name is Charles DuBois. We talk about grassroots movements, Obama, and politicization of youth, his amber brown eyes lit by my candle. People walk by, smile and salute us.

When i get home, i am on edge. I can't sit still. The outside sounds of copters, sirens and breaking glass permeate my apartment. I feel stir crazy, unsettled, unfinished. I have to get out again. In my head I imagine friends and family thinking I am crazy. I drink water, and text Mahfam and Kendal to let them know that i am heading out again.
I pick my candle back up and head into the night.

There are police blockades everywhere now.

i try to meet up with folks, but things are looking hectic. My candle still seems to encase me in a cocoon of light that police and others smile at.

a sista around my age stops me, says she recognizes me from earlier on in the protest. she thanks me for walking with a candle, and keeping alive what this should really be about. I thank her as well.

I head down 14th street towards Webster... and that's as far as i get. A couple blocks further down, the crowd looms, and its a riot crowd. i can smell something burning, and Broadway is obscured with smoke that could be the source of the smell, or tear gas. A metal hulk slowly rolls out of a backlit cloud of smoke. it is a paramilitary tank with a mounted water cannon. Is this my neighborhood?

I rest my back against a corner streetlight, and watch, the candle flame flickering slightly under my face. neighbors from my building join me, we stand there and take in the mayhem that our block has become.

there are more people of color now. young kids of various backgrounds are smashing cars, and at least one car is burning. Store windows are getting smashed now too. At first i thought black kids were targeting Korean stores, but then an African hair braiding store got smashed. Later, friends would tell me that they saw the immigrant African family in the store, asking why, why, why? Another friend said that an older Asian man-- on crutches no less-- pleaded with rioting youth not to smash his car up. But they did. Right in front of him. And i saw a middle aged Asian woman running, screaming because her bag had been snatched. I shouted for people to leave her alone, but i had no idea where her assailants were.

This was officially out of control.

Then the crowd started running full tilt up the street towards me. Some people look terrified, but most actually were smiling, looking at each other like "awww shit! hee!" I know you aren't supposed to run in situations like this, but i really didn't feel like getting hosed, gassed or rubber bulleted. Or hanging out with rioters. So i kept close to the buildings, and jogged back towards my house. A thrown bottle broke on the wall near my knee.

I get to my stoop, and see other neighbors. One woman, a mother of two, comes out in her pajamas, asking what is going on. The tank rolls by. she is incredulous. I ask if she knew about Oscar Grant. She didn't. I tell her that an unarmed black man was handcuffed, put on his stomach, and then was shot in the back and killed by a cop. Her eyes widen, her jaw drops in horror. She says with a Philippine trill on her tongue, "No wonder they are so angry!"

The helicopters are everywhere, their buzzing drone bouncing off buildings and rolling down the canyons of streets. searchlights lit up windows and intersections.

Somebody walks by my stoop, looks at us and says what sounds like "The mayor is coming around the corner."

Wha?

It seems that the crowd and riot cops have moved on, so i walk from my stoop to Harrison and 14th, and lean against that lightpost.

Coming up 14th, is indeed Mayor Dellums. He is surrounded by an anxious looking suited entourage and media. He himself looks distraught. He sees me. He looks at my candle. And he simply reaches out and holds my arm for a second, and then he and the entourage keep moving.

It occurs to me that cops are probably not going to tear gas, hose, or rubber bullet the mayor. And now i run into Newman, who is also curious to see where this mayoral train is heading. We fall in step behind the entourage.

The mayor stops on 14th and Madison and starts talking to people and press. Madison is absolutely lit up with rotating police lights. I can't hear what Dellums is saying, but he seems to be unintentionally pissing people off.
"Be patient?? Be patient?? Be patient while they keep killing us??" One sista shouts.

At some point, we are completely encircled by riot cops, but they are a decent distance away from us. Everyone is ignoring them, and focusing on the mayor. A paramilitary tank rolls up. A brotha shouts "Oh look, democracy has arrived!"

The mayor breaks the circle, walking towards the tank. Riot police scurry and reposition themselves. Dellums talks to an officer. Moments later, the tank and riot police dissolve back into the troubled night. Dellums announces on a bullhorn that he has asked them to leave. He is drowned out by people demanding the release of arrested supporters, reform of Oakland police, and streams of curses that basically refer to him as an @%#* Uncle Tom and worse. Whew. Though I must say, I am curious as to what he is going to do and say besides wave some cops away.

So yeah, at this point I think i'm about ready to head back home now. I see friends Bea and Inez, and tell them that I have seen enough for tonight, and that i'm going home. A young sista overhears me, and says with a half joking voice "you should give me your candle then." I turn and look at her.
"Do you really want my candle?" I can see that she has been crying all night.
"Yeah."
"Blessings." I reach out and give it to her, and she looks into my eyes and smiles in a way that warmed my whole soul.

I watch her walk away, see how she now looks transformed, serene and angelic in that candlelight. I understand a bit more why people smiled at me. She and the flickering candle disappear in the crowd.

I walk home, the idea of the candle continuing on in the streets touching me deeply.

When i get inside, I don't feel unsettled anymore.

Just the need to write.


.......................................................................

This just in:

Rally for Justice for Oscar Grant
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
4:00pm - 7:00pm
Oakland City Hall
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA
http://fem-men-ist.blogspot.com


Sick of Distortions and Disinformation! The Truth Must Come Out!
An Eyewitness Account


by afrosocialist

Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 8:21 AM

I'm sick and tired of the lies and misinformation emanating from both the corporate-whore media and the "anarchist" apologists on Indymedia--who are both distorting what happened in downtown Oakland Wednesday evening, each for their own particular reasons. It's time the truth came out. It's time to break the silence.
I was at the Fruitvale BART rally Wednesday afternoon, on the march Wednesday night, and downtown (at 14th & Broadway, then down 14th to Madison, then down Madison to the Lake) until after 10PM. I personally witnessed what happened with my own eyes.

When the masked young people (who, in their great majority, were white kids) started burning the first garbage dumpster near Laney College, about half the Black folks in the crowd said, "Aw fuck this! I'm outta here! I ain't getting caught up in the middle of that, those cops'll be shooting soon!" and left.

Then later at 14th and Broadway, many Black youths joined in the demonstration. They were chanting slogans like "We're all Oscar Grant!" These Black youth were very militant, they were facing down the riot cops and defiantly raising their fists in anger and solidarity.

Meanwhile, behind them on 14th St., east of Broadway, masked white punks proceeded to smash car windows, shop windows, etc.

After a couple of trashcans were turned over and lit on fire on the northeast and southeast corners of 14th and Broadway, the police began pushing the crowd down 14th. More cars were smashed, one SUV was set ablaze, and I clearly saw a small group of masked white kids smashing the windows of the three storefronts on the southeast corner of 14th and Webster.

All the way down 14th to Madison, Black youth continued to face down the police, legitimately but militantly protesting, exercising their First Amendment rights. And the white punks continued to break shit.

The riot police forced the crowd to turn north on Madison. Masked white punks torched a car just outside of the Islamic Center of Northern California, while Middle Eastern Muslims inside were holding some sort of event. Several elderly Muslims came out of their mosque in their religious garb, looks of utter confusion and horror on their faces. Here was a persecuted minority being terrorized by the "anarchists", self-professed friends of the oppressed and marginalized.

All the way down Madison, white punks smashed the cars of working-class Black folks in their own residential neighborhood. I was there, I saw. In the aftermath of the white hooligans' onslaught, I spoke to many Black neighbors who came out of their apartment houses demanding to know what was going on, what was this all about.

I apologized to them, explaining that this was a riot that grew out of a march to protest the police murder of Oscar Grant on New Year's in the Fruitvale BART station. I told them things had got out of hand and that the march organizers had lost control.

I told them that I had been on the march but that I was appalled by what was now happening. I explained that there was a police perimeter of about 3 blocks in any direction, and that I was now trying to find a way out of it to get safely back home.

Many people offered me glasses of water, and some even invited me into their homes to wait out the chaos. All expressed sympathy and support for the cause we had marched for, saying that we were right to try and force the powers that be to hold the cops accountable.

But these Black residents of Madison St. also expressed outrage at having been targeted and having their cars destroyed. One brother stated that his car was totaled and he would now lose his job because he works in Fremont, and the insurance won't cover the damages because he cannot afford the premiums for anything better than basic liability coverage. He was close to tears, and he was saying, "You go back to your people, your protesters, and tell them what they have done to me!"

Meanwhile, by the time I had this conversation, along 14th St. and down Madison, the cops had violently, brutally begun arresting the Black youth who were still militantly confronting the police, but who had not been smashing cars, windows, etc. Watching from the sidewalk, I had personally witnessed at least six arrests that night. Each were of young African American men, who were doing nothing more than defiantly staring down the police, yelling slogans, raising their fists and exhibiting other militant gestures, all within their First Amendment rights.

These arrests went like this: The riot cops would advance in their line. Then they would halt in line and within a few minutes without warning 6 or 8 of them would break ranks in a wedge-formation, brutally tackle or beat down a young Black brother, usually tazing him in the bargain, handcuff him behind his back, place him in a painful, arm-twisting restraint hold and, then, with two cops roughly handling him, he would be violently thrown into a vehicle.

I did not, for as long as I was on the streets that night, see the cops apprehend even one of the white vandals who were breaking shop windows, or smashing cars. The police were allowing these activities to continue unimpeded.

To me, in retrospect, this Wednesday night riot was a virtual Kristallnacht by white hooligans against the Black community of Oakland. Like in the original, German Nazi Kristallnacht of November 1938, the police essentially looked the other way when it came to the roving bands of perpetrators and took out any frustrations and aggression they harbored upon innocent young Black men, just as the Nazi cops had done to Jews who displayed the temerity to protest their awful treatment.

I eventually found my way out of the hell that downtown Oakland had become by walking for miles until I found a hole in the police cordon and finally catching a bus back to the Fruitvale district, where my car was parked, and then driving home.

Upon arrival at my house, after a stop to pick up a six pack of beer to calm my nerves, I turned on the 11 o'clock news. What I witnessed disturbed me even more.

After shots of broken glass, smashed and burning cars, etc., they switched to clips of young Black men being arrested by riot cops.

This gave the clear impression to the viewing public that Black youth were responsible for all the damage. "There 'they' go, they're rioting, burning down their own neighborhoods" is the cliched stereotype that must have resulted in the minds of multitudes of average news watchers who had not personally witnessed the events that had unfolded before me that night.

Malcolm X characterized this type of media coverage very accurately, when he said, in February 1965 after his own home was bombed, "With skillful manipulating of the press they're able to make the victim look like the criminal and the criminal look like the victim…" (To read the speech in its entirety, see http://www.malcolm-x.org/speeches/spc_021465.htm)

I have a degree of respect for the working-class political philosophy known as anarchism. For this reason, I refuse to dignify these white punks, thugs and hooligans with the title of "anarchists".

These masked white kids are no anarchists, they are opportunists, they are poachers on the Oscar Grant Justice Movement. They are white destroyers invading in the Black community.

They are no anarchists, because they are acting on behalf of the police state, doing part of the cops' job for them. They are being used to discredit the Oscar Grant Justice Movement, to frighten Black folks from protesting against the murder, to divide the community against itself. They are being used by the state to justify the next wave of repression against progressive elements of society in general and the Black community in particular.

I guess COINTELPRO activities are now being sub-contracted out to a wing of the "anarchist" movement. How clever.

These idiots don't care about Black people, Oscar Grant, police terrorism towards people of color, or anything like that. If they did, they would not be doing the things they are doing the way they are doing them. They are using Oscar Grant's tragic murder as an excuse.

They can justify destroying Black workers' cars because, as we all know, automobiles are evil polluters destroying the planet. This is the logic, I suppose.

So, I'm not concerned about assisting all the arrestees without qualification. I'm interested in helping the folks who were legitimately protesting but got arrested anyway (the Black youth), while (as far as I could tell) the perpetrators of the vandalism, arson and general mayhem were largely allowed to get away with it. These criminals posing as anarchists can rot for all I care, they've brought on themselves anything they get. I hope they are all charged with multiple felonies and are forced to pay restitution to all the good African Americans whose hard-earned property they have ruined.

Can you imagine what would happen if a white boy had been shot by police, and the family and other concerned citizens had organized a peaceful rally in Piedmont (let's say), and a gang of Black youth had used the excitement as an opportunity to come into the white neighborhood and bust the glass out of people's cars? Why, you know, they'd have all been shot on the spot. No further commotion.

Let me be absolutely clear about one thing: I was present in Seattle for the WTO protests in 1999. The anarchists of the Black Bloc broke windows there. Liberals and pathological pacifists condemned them for their "violence". But I defended their tactics.

In Seattle, the police were violently, viciously attacking peaceful protesters--pregnant women, elderly folks, it didn't matter--who were trying to hold intersections to keep the WTO delegates out of the Convention Center. At moments of the greatest peril from the police, the Black Bloc would march in to the rescue in a kind of brigade, seemingly out of nowhere, using their hammers to smash the plate glass windows out of corporate monstrosities such as Niketown. By so doing, they created a diversion and protected the peaceful demonstrators. The cops would chase after the anarchists and leave the peaceful demonstrators alone to hold their intersection. And then the younger, more agile Black Bloc would seemingly vanish into the woodwork of the city, only to return as if by magic when a situation became dangerous again.

The Black Bloc were the people's heroes precisely because they attacked CORPORATE property, and they did so TACTICALLY. They likely saved many from the disfiguring blows of police batons, and their actions contributed mightily to the famous victory of the people and the momentary defeat of the capitalist globalizers.

But what happened in Oakland Wednesday night was of another species entirely. Innocent Black, Muslim, Latino and Asian Oaklanders, none of them rich, none of them deserving of such treatment, took most of the blows and suffered the greatest extent of damage at the hands of masked white hooligans. To me, this situation bears a closer resemblance to what occurred in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921 (if you don't know, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulsa_Race_Riot) than to the Seattle events of 1999.

To all bona fide anarchists: Act now to stop these white thugs from continuing to do what they've been doing! Respect the self-determination of the Black community! Don't allow these idiots and criminals to usurp the name and reputation of the venerable working-class social philosophy of Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman and Vincent St. John! Take direct action against this irresponsible element tarnishing your movement's legacy, now!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

When I was a Star Witness:

Against the U.S. Government

A True Story by Eddie Griffin

I was a star witness in the Abel case cited below. In November 1984, almost immediately upon my release from prison, I was flown to Alton, Illinois to give testimony in the case.

The People’s Law Office of Chicago brought in twelve seasoned of the best in civil rights law. They were the law partners who won the Fred Hampton murder lawsuit and exonerated many Black Panthers. But in court, the government brought only two lawyers.

My testimonies would end in tears… tears of joy… and tears from the warden who had held me incommunicado for the government.

The courts recognized that we, as prisoners, had a right to an attorneys, and attorneys and their legal aides could not be denied access to their prisoner client.

o Abel v. Miller 904 F.2d 394 (1990)
Dismissed federal prison officials’ second qualified immunity appeal, for lack of jurisdiction, and limited the number of qualified immunity appeals available to defendants.

o Abel v. Miller 824 F.2d 1522 (1987)
Recognized a prisoners right to attorney access and a paralegal’s right to be free from retaliation for the exercise of her First Amendment right to speak out publicly about prison conditions and to litigate to change those conditions; rejected prison officials qualified immunity defense, and remanded for a new trial on retaliation claims.

o Abel v. Miller 681 F.2d 821 (1982)
Reversed order denying injunction, ordered Marion federal prison officials to lift bans on attorneys and paralegals’ access to their prisoner clients and found that there was an insufficient factual basis for having imposed bans.

(Source: http://www.peopleslawoffice.com/cases/victories/)



Our work in Carbondale had also brought us in contact with prisoners at the Marion Federal Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois. In 1972, there was a work stoppage at Marion, which led to the segregation of over one hundred protesting prisoners. We filed a suit, Adams v. Carlson, which challenged this segregation. We were inspired by the strength of the prisoners, particularly Rafael Cancel Miranda, a Puerto Rican Nationalist Prisoner who at that time had been imprisoned for early 20 years for the attack on Congress in 1954. We finally won Adams on appeal, and the men were released from segregation in early 1974. During this period, two new law students, Ralph Hurvitz and Lee Tockman, joined the office and quickly became immersed in the Marion work.

Much of our energy was being channeled into prison work. We fought against behavior modification units, later named “control units” both in the federal and the state systems. We became involved in the challenge to Stateville’s Special Programs Unit (SPU), which ultimately, along with Adams, established in the Seventh Circuit the right to due process before placement in such control units. In the wake of the Adams decision, the Marion authorities converted the segregation unit to a control unit, and we filed a second suit, Bono v. Saxbe, which challenged that unit, and which became another piece of protracted litigation as the Bureau of Prisons developed their draconian maxi-maxi penology and offered it as a brazen defense to their unconstitutional conduct.

In September of 1979, the international struggle to Free the Five Puerto Rican Nationalist Prisoners culminated in victory when the sentences of four were unconditionally commuted and they were released. Andres Cordero had been released the year before because he had terminal cancer. 3,000 people greeted the freed patriots in Chicago, 10,000 in New York, and 25,000 jammed the airport in San Juan for their triumphant return home. Also in September, we joined with Lewis Myers and Chokwe Lumumba in filing a Freedom of Information Act suit on behalf of Imari Obadele and the Republic of New Africa. This suit ultimately compelled the production of documents, which exposed the FBI’s efforts to destroy the RNA.

Jan, with the assistance of Michael and Dennis, continued the office’s commitment to federal prisons, the Puerto Rican prisoners of war, and political prisoners. This work included litigation, and work with Amnesty International, congressional committees, human rights organizations, the United Nations, and the various Marion committees. Some of the major issues which were taken on were the banning of the Marion Prisoners Rights Project from the prison, the imposition of a complete and permanent lockdown at Marion, and the opening of a new political prison for women in Lexington, Kentucky. Dennis and Michael obtained injunctive relief, and then Jan joined them in obtaining a jury verdict against Marion officials for the banning of the Marion Prisoners Rights Project. Subsequently, Jan, Michael, and a team of lawyers from Washington and New York obtained an injunction which prohibited the Bureau of Prisons from placing women in the Lexington High Security Unit on the basis of their political beliefs and associations, an injunction which was later overturned by the Court of appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Another crucial part of this work was Jan’s tireless traveling to Marion, Lexington, and various other places across the entire country in order to visit with clients in these cases, with other political prisoners, and with the Puerto Rican prisoners of war.

The People Law Office writes:

…the banning of the Marion Prisoners Rights Project from the prison, the imposition of a complete and permanent lockdown at Marion, and the opening of a new political prison for women in Lexington, Kentucky. Dennis and Michael obtained injunctive relief, and then Jan joined them in obtaining a jury verdict against Marion officials for the banning of the Marion Prisoners Rights Project.

It was during this period at Marion that we met Puerto Rican political prisoner, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Republic of New Africa President Imari Obadele and Republic of New Africa citizen Akinshiiju Ola, Crusade for Justice leader, Alberto Mares, Black Liberation Army prisoners, Herman Bell, Sundiata Acoli, Gabe Torres, Native American prisoner Leonard Peltier and many others.

Eddie Griffin Commentary

Historical Note About the Marion Prisoners Rights Project

The Project was incorporated by Southern Illinois Law School by Professor Jim Roberts. There were only two board members at the time of its incorporation in 1976 or 1977. Besides Professor Roberts being on the board, a prisoner and jailhouse lawyer by the name of Eddie Griffin was also a board member.

My job inside the prison was to collect prisoner grievances, teach them how to petition for redress, and, when denied, turn the case over to Professor Roberts and his law students.

The People Law Office was directly connected with the National Committee to Support the Marion Brothers (NCSMB), and the National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression, organized by Angela Davis. I was appointed by the prisoners above to work on the NCSMB Steering Committee. I was a member of the prison think tank known simply as “The Collective”, masterminded by Akinshiiju Ola, Black Panther-Republic of New Africa POW.

FOOTNOTE: Akinshijui China Ola was released from prison, along with many of the political prisoners between 1979 and 1984, under the Jimmy Carter leniency plan. He went the work for the Guardian newspapers and later a magazine. He died several years ago still trying to free our fellow Marion Brother Leonard Peltier of the American Indian Movement (AIM). I have also pleaded Peltier’s case, and the case of BLA Herman Bell, both of whom remains imprisoned.

Release Bay Area Rioters!

BART Board of Directors
P.O. Box 12688
Oakland , CA 94604-2688
(510) 464-6095
BoardofDirectors@bart.gov

c/o Kenneth A. Duron
District Secretary
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District
300 Lakeside Drive, 23rd Floor, Oakland, California 94612
510.464.6080, fax: 510.464.6011
“Kduron” Kduron@bart.gov

To Directors: Carole Ward Allen, Bob Franklin, Joel Keller, Gail Murray, John McPartland, Thomas Blalock, Lynette Sweet, James Fang, Tom Radulovich

Thursday, January 08, 2009
RE: Release Rioters Immediately

Dear Kenneth A. Duron & BART Directors:

We contacted your office on yesterday about the unprovoked shooting of 22-year old Oscar Grant in Fruitvale, Lake Merritt & 12th Street Station in Oakland. We read the response from BART Police Chief Gary Gee. His condolences to the family and the initiation of an investigation are inadequate, in light of the live camera videos of the shooting.

There is prima facie evidence, by these videos, that shows Officer Johannes Mehserle shot a defenseless man in the back while he was constrained.

[See video]

There is a compelling probable cause that the officer murdered the victim. As you know this video was offered to the police department investigators. Instead of immediately arresting the officer, BART put him in hiding.



The riots were a direct response to the department’s reaction. We are not seeking lynch mob justice before due process run its course. But due process is far off course. Sometimes people riot in order to bring the world’s attention to a major injustice.

If you can watch this video also and come away feeling that your department acted appropriately, do realize there is a strong possibility the unrest will continue, and more arrests is not the solution. The city has brought this curse upon itself.



Sincerely,
Eddie Griffin (BASG)


From: Kduron@bart.gov
Subject: Re: Unprovoked Shooting of Oscar Grant
To: eddiegriffin_basg@yahoo.com
Date: Tuesday, January 6, 2009, 4:28 PM

Mr. Griffin,

Thank you for your email. Your message will be shared with the Board of Directors as requested.

The following is a link to the District's webpage with news releases/video regarding the officer involved shooting on January 1, 2009.

http://www.bart.gov/news/articles/2009.aspx

Thank you for taking the time to advise us of your concerns.

Kenneth A. Duron
District Secretary
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District
300 Lakeside Drive, 23rd Floor, Oakland, California 94612
510.464.6080, fax: 510.464.6011, email: kduron@bart.gov
website: www.bart.gov

01.04.2009
Statement by BART Police Chief Gary Gee

to Media & Public on 1/4/09 During News Conference

On behalf of the BART Police Department and the entire BART organization, we want to express our condolences to the family of Oscar Grant.

I want to assure Mr. Grant's family and the public that we are taking this investigation very seriously. And, we are committed to complete an unbiased and thorough investigation into what happened on the morning of New Year's Day.

In addition to our investigation, we are fully cooperating with the Alameda County District Attorney's office, which is conducting a parallel and independent investigation. We are providing all of the evidence of our investigation to the District Attorney.

This case is not even four days old – we are in the early stages of the investigation and will do a thorough job. We are reviewing all of the evidence, including videos, witness statements, and physical evidence as we compile a complete and accurate account of what happened on in the early morning of January First.
As frustrating as it is, I want to stress that we cannot and will not jeopardize this case by discussing details before the investigation is complete.

While some have already begun to draw conclusions and speculate about what happened well before all the facts are in, doing so may compromise independent recollections from witnesses and does a disservice to getting at the answers we are seeking.
We continue to ask people to come forward if they have any evidence or eyewitness accounts. They can call our tip line at (877) 679-7000, extension 7040. Or, they wish to present their information directly to the Alameda County DA's office. The DA's general number is (510) 272-6222.

We ask for the public to be patient, refrain from jumping to conclusions, and allow the investigators do their jobs. As has been previously said, there is very little information that can be released at this time. I can, however, provide some basic facts.

We are investigating an incident early New Year's Day at the Fruitvale BART Station in which Mr. Grant was fatally wounded.

The involved officer is a two-year veteran of the BART Police force. That officer underwent drug and alcohol testing and is on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

The incident began when BART police received a report that two groups of riders were involved in an altercation on a train after it left West Oakland Station around 2 a.m. BART police officers responded to the platform at Fruitvale and detained several persons. Our preliminary investigation indicates that Mr. Grant was not in handcuffs at the time of the shooting.

I cannot tell you when this investigation will be completed. But, again, I assure you that we are committed to conducting an accurate and thorough investigation.
We recognize that it is frustrating that we cannot answer many of your questions right now – but doing so could lead to speculation and compromise the integrity of the ongoing investigations.

Again, we ask for your patience and I thank you for coming.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009

BART Board of Directors
P.O. Box 12688
Oakland , CA 94604-2688
(510) 464-6095
BoardofDirectors@bart.gov

RE: Unprovoked Shooting of Oscar Grant

Directors: Carole Ward Allen, Bob Franklin, Joel Keller, Gail Murray,
John McPartland, Thomas Blalock, Lynette Sweet, James Fang, Tom Radulovich

Dear Ms. Allen & other Board Members:

The stories surrounding the shooting of Oscar Grant is so appalling, it has attracted our attention and the attention of the world community. We realize, from news reports, Police Chief Gary Gee is still investigating. But from all accounts, it appears that Mr. Grand was shot in the back while lying on the ground in handcuffs.

I am even more hurt and outraged when I read Oscar’s memorial guest book at

http://www.legacy.com/InsideBayArea/GB/GuestbookView.aspx?PersonId=122109243

How can you allow this incident to happen on your watch? You have oversight authority. And, there are many questions yet unanswered.

We have heard the cry of the blood of the innocent coming out of the bowels of the earth: “How long, O Lord?”

How long?

Signed
Eddie Griffin, BASG

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm Wishing On A Star

I was only wishing that I would ever leave prison alive. But I remember the first night, out of the hole, like no other night before, wishing upon a the first star that I had seen in six years. I lay in the grass on my back in El Reno Federal Prison yard, looking up at the moon and the stars in the night sky, never to take life for granted again.

I saw heaven. I had come out of hell alive. That hell was the notorious Control Unit inside Marion Federal Prison, max-six security living death chamber. I had gone further than any other prisoner in deprivation. I was held incommunicado by the U.S. government.

For fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes in the evening, I had running water… water to drink and flush the commode. I had no clothes except my BVDs… no mattress to sleep on… and windows wide open during the coldest winter in the state of Illinois. My face was on the cover of the Sun-Times, in big bold letters: “I will not compromise my views”.

Before I was released, all the revolutionaries had renounced the use of violence to achieve political gain. Rafael Cancel Miranda took it like a bitter pill. President Jimmy Carter was ordering the release of select U.S. political prisoners.

Each day, the guard would bring me my three’s. I had stopped eating… couldn’t eat, really. I was frozen to the steel bunk hanging off the wall. But I would always manage the strength to ask the guard for a cigarette. That’s when I saw a big man cry.

Warden Fenton had me dragged to his office. I couldn’t help but laugh. He was looking at a ghost, the smart-ass inmate who delivered him, the warden, an ultimatum from the Marion Brothers.

Goosh! That pissed his goat!

But now he was releasing me, by President’s orders, transferred to another prison… somewhere in red neck country Oklahoma.

It was the first time I had smelled victory against the government. For the first time, I saw women and minority guards. We were tired of butting heads against an all-white, club welding, prison guard force. The new guards were scattered about the El Reno prison campus.

Some took time out to thank me, others I had to break in like rookies. We had gone on a prison hunger strike to demand more minority officers. Since I was the propagandist, it was designed as a media ploy.

Prisoners strikes to hire more federal prison guards.

It sounded good enough to make the hunger strike 100% successful. And, it happened on Bicentennial Celebration day, July 4, 1976, America’s 200th birthday. The Marion Brothers went on hunger strike. The prison was shut down.

The second demand was the real point of the strike: Stop using mind control experiments on politically conscious prisoners. The media bit and we went live internationally.

Fenton looked at me and smiled. “Griffin, I’m taking you out of here and transferring you to El Reno. We don’t want to see or hear from you again.”

And, then he said something queer. “And, I don’t believe that you are a criminal, either.” I gushed into tears.

I had gone from prison to solitary to a solitary within a solitary, to padded cell, and finally a strip cell, my refrigerated morgue cell. In my final hours, I could see a ship frozen at sea. My eyeballs were glazing over with a sheet of ice. And, all I could see was a ship on the frozen sea. That’s when they unlocked the doors and released me.

The first night in El Reno I look up at the moon and stars and realized that there was a God who answered prayers.

I think about that night, as I spent hours upon hours in El Reno’s music room, catching upon on music from 1970s that I had never heard. And, “Wishing Upon a Star” was one I played over and over again, wanting to go home, into the seventh year of my incarceration.

A female prison guard strode into my world and I was no spellbound, having not even seen a female for six years. My life became a battle of urges, and I became more tiger than panther.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Dance for Eternity

By Eddie Griffin

It is with utter amazement that here it is 2009 and I am still in the land of the living. I often tell my children that if I want excitement and entertainment, I just close my eyes and reminisce. Hollywood cannot dream or make a movie like I have lived. Hollywood action thrillers bore me.

Here is an opening scene from my memoirs, set to the music of the times. Music makes me remember. Music brings tears to my eyes. How did I survive this real life drama, Lord? I keep asking myself, and why? For what reason am I still here, and what use am I?

I was living underground, a fugitive from justice, on the run. This night on the campus of Abilene Christian College, I danced the night away with the sweetest girl in the world, with tears streaming down my face. She wanted to go with me, to live and die, like Bonnie and Clyde.

I was going to die. I knew that. I had crossed the line, and gone too far to turn around. But she took me in, anyway, and hid me out on campus.

This night we danced to the Stylistics, “You are everything”. Tomorrow, I would be gone, somewhere into the wind, with the FBI hot on my tail.



It was on this night that first heard Gil Scott Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”.



An old white schoolmate came up to me and asked if I wanted a list of all the black snitches in Fort Worth, that maybe I wanted to turn the list over to the Black Panthers, thanks to the Dixie Mafia.

When I saw the list in secret, I cried. The list was on FBI stationary. When I showed it to a Black Panther leader, he jumped back like it was a hot potato. So, I got scared and ran away.