An Urgent Call from Haiti Action Committee
On August 13, the Haitian government summoned former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to court on corruption charges. This summons is part of a chilling pattern of repression aimed at destroying Aristide’s political party, Fanmi Lavalas, as the country approaches new legislative elections. We denounce it in the strongest possible terms.
On March 18, 2011, tens of thousands of people followed President Aristide’s car as it drove from the airport to his home, following his return from seven years of forced exile. They then climbed over the walls into the courtyard of the Aristides’ residence to continue an emotional and heart-felt greeting for Haiti’s first democratically elected president, overthrown in a U.S.-orchestrated coup in 2004. In his speech at the airport, President Aristide focused on education and the importance of inclusion for all Haitians in the process of restoring democracy.
Since his return, President Aristide has done exactly what he promised to do – reopen the University of the Aristide Foundation (UNIFA). On September 26, 2011 the Medical School once again opened its doors. Today, there are over 900 students studying medicine, nursing and law at a University whose mission is to provide higher education to all sectors of Haitian society, not just the children of the rich.
And yet, in spite of this powerful and important work, Aristide and other Lavalas leaders and activists remain the target of government harassment and attack. This is not surprising; after all, the Haitian government of Michel Martelly came to power after elections with a historically low turnout in which Fanmi Lavalas, Haiti’s most popular political party, was banned from participation.
Martelly has embraced Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the former Haitian dictator. Human rights organizations estimate that the Duvaliers – “Papa Doc” and “Baby Doc” – were responsible for the deaths of over 30,000 Haitian citizens during their 29-year rule. While Duvalier now lives freely in Haiti and was honored by Martelly at the January 1st 2014 Haitian Independence Day celebrations, President Aristide and the democratic movement are under assault.
For over a decade, U.S. and Haitian authorities have periodically threatened President Aristide with indictment and “tried” him in the pages of a compliant media. None of these charges has stuck, for the simple reason that they are all lies. This is the third time since his return in 2011 that Haitian authorities have trumpeted charges against President Aristide. Each time, after sensational headlines, the cases were unceremoniously shelved after an initial hearing and interview, before President Aristide could even challenge the accusations.
The politicized nature of the charges is further evidenced by the history of the judge in the case, Lamarre Bélizaire. The Port-au-Prince Bar Association has suspended Bélizaire for ten years from the practice of law (the suspension to begin once he steps down as judge) for using the court to persecute opponents of the Martelly regime. This latest summons is one more example of a government determined to derail any opposition.
Each time these charges are trotted out, the goal is to defame Aristide, weaken Lavalas and endanger the vital educational work that he has led since his return. Haiti’s grassroots movement knows that each new rumored indictment is part of a campaign to intimidate and silence them. When President Aristide was last called to court, thousands of people surrounded the courthouse, chanting: “If they call our brother, they call all of us.” Yesterday, once again, people took to the streets to show him their support.
We echo their voices. Enough is enough. It is time for education, health care, and democratic development in Haiti, not a resurgence of political repression. We call on the Haitian government to withdraw this warrant.
Sent by Haiti Action Committee
www.haitisolidarity.net and on FACEBOOK
Written by Rene Franco
Tuesday, 29 July 2014 01:59
| Medical ‘care’ at Soledad is degrading … and lethal
The people who are housed in this institution, Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, Calif., are having a lot of issues with medical. It’s very degrading.
Nurses here have been fired due to stealing and actually take pills orally. Doctors are taking convicts off their pain medication, such as morphine, methadone and Gabapetine, known as Neurontin, saying it’s being abused. Individuals with knee pain, surgeries, back surgeries, pins in their bodies are all being weaned off all pain meds.
Correction officers don’t care about us convicts nor do the doctors, only themselves and those with badges. Two people died in November 2013 due to doctors not listening to them when they were saying that something is wrong with them.
Also, last year CO Reck and CO Aredando saw an inmate attempting to commit suicide but did not pay heed to him. All that was said is “take that rope off your neck” and he obliged.
They walked on, releasing other inmates out of their cells, and when they returned on their way back, the same individual had a blade out of a razor and had cut his throat open on both sides of his neck. They sprayed him with OC pepper spray, which is not right. They took so long that he cut his wrist as well.
Then the COs put on special suits and headed back to find the cell extraction shield. By then he was under his bunk as the COs came into his cell. They dragged him out by his feet.
Then they told him to stay down and not move while nurses and COs tried to revive or shock him. He stood up and got sprayed again.
They pumped his chest manually for like 30 minutes. He was already dead.
Send our brother some love and light: Rene Franco, K-90164, Salinas Valley State Prison, P.O. Box 1050, Soledad, CA 93960. This letter was postmarked Jan. 7, 2014. The Bay View sincerely apologizes for the delay in publishing it.
I’m from SCI-Smithfield in Pennsylvania and I’m in search of a voice to help me bring light to the struggles that the inmates in this facility face. Now I’ve been on my hunger strike since June 11, 2014, and the reason for my hunger strike is policies being overlooked, harassment from COs (correctional officers), very poor calories on daily trays, refusal of proper medical treatment and denial of the equal protection of the laws and due process as guaranteed by the Fifth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution along with other personal reasons I shall explain.
Though Addameer, the source of this graphic, supports prisoners in Palestine, solidarity among hunger strikers around the world is becoming a strong tradition.
Now, I’ve been in the RHU (Restricted Housing Unit, i.e. solitary confinement) since May 2, 2014, and I’ve witnessed beatings and people being denied food and medical treatment due to a verbal disagreement between inmates and COs which is not only excessive force but a violation of many rights and policies. And I’ve been trying to stand up for my rights, but there’s no unity in the prison and a weak support system on the street, so my last hunger strike lasted for 13 days but went unnoticed, which in turn has made COs and administration representatives take biased acts against me.
For instance, during my last hunger strike medical failed to follow the procedures of Pennsylvania Policy 131.1, Section 8-9 and 8-14. After me finally eating, they didn’t offer me any medical attention or examination to see how the hunger strike had affected me; it started on May 10 and ended on May 22, 2014.
Now in the course of me being mistreated I’ve put in several requests until this day and have yet to receive any response, which violates my due process according to DC-ADM 804, which states I should receive a response within 15 business days. My first three grievances were put in on May 19; going on 30 days later, there’s still no response.
Another issue is I came to the RHU on May 2, 2014, on AC (Administrative Custody) status. Now on May 5, 2014, I received a falsified misconduct for introducing contraband, which I appealed, and it was dismissed on May 21, 2014. Now according to RHU policy, you are eligible for a phone call in 30 days, but I was denied this phone call because of the above misconduct which was dismissed.
So my time in the RHU should count toward my AC, and to this day I haven’t gotten a call. I’ve written several requests and a grievance to try and fix this but was denied. Not only did I get verbal approval but I also have written approval, yet my grievance was denied on biased grounds, saying it was a misunderstanding – yet I still didn’t get a call.
I’m from SCI-Smithfield in Pennsylvania and I’m in search of a voice to help me bring light to the struggles that the inmates in this facility face.
Last, I was put in a cell with no storage space for my personal property, a broken shower and two sewage drains. I have to put up with the smell of feces and urine all day, plus gnats, ants, bugs and more bugs keep appearing in my cell through these drains. Now I’ve spoken to COs, sergeants, lieutenants and a captain, and all they keep saying is they’ll look into it but never have. I even wrote a request, but still nothing changed.
Now I’ve reached out to my family but haven’t heard anything back. I even sent them proof of my call issue and things about my medical rights being violated. I’m in the process of getting copies of my misconduct and grievances that were denied when facts showed they were wrong.
So I ask that you assist me by bringing some light to this situation and/or point me in the right direction to get some help or outside representation. I would like to thank you listening to my story and let you know I’m thankful for any help you can offer.
Send our brother some love and light: Andrew Stevenson, LE-1859, SCI Smithfield, 1120 Pike St., P.O. Box 999, Huntington, PA 16652.
The people of Black Wall Street, the Greenwood District of Tulsa, look around at the devastation of the entire 1 square mile neighborhood after the smoke cleared. Many of their neighbors had died; estimates range from 300 to 3,000, proponents of the larger number citing stories of a mass grave. – Photo: Tulsa Historical Society
Some financial observers attribute the Black community’s economic woes to our unwillingness to financially support Black businesses. Well, back in 1921, in a Tulsa, Oklahoma, community named Black Wall Street, a dollar circulated 19 times before leaving the community.
That was before a white mob destroyed the town. Given the ferocity of the attack and the complicity of Oklahoma police, one would think that by now survivors would’ve been compensated for what they endured, but they haven’t been.
As BreakingBrown previously reported, Black Wall Street had its own theaters, grocery stores, independent newspapers and professional Black class before being demolished by an irate white mob angry over a Black teen’s alleged assault of a white female. (The Bay View’s main Black Wall Street story is one of the most popular on our website. – ed.)
Women taken prisoner ride in a paddy wagon, an armed white guard – probably a police officer – riding on the running board. – Photo: Tulsa Historical Society
In the 1921 riot, whites attacked Blacks who were living in the Greenwood area, also known as Black Wall Street. The Tulsa police were not only indifferent, but they also took part in the destruction of the wealthiest Black city in America, with officers helping to set fire to the property of Blacks who had lived and thrived in that area.
As a result of white supremacist terrorism, an estimated 10,000 Blacks were left homeless and 35 city blocks were burned to the ground. Blacks who had been injured during the assault could not even seek medical care because the Black hospital was one of the buildings torched by white mobs.
Even white attorneys in the area didn’t buy the story that the Black teen had attacked the white teenager, one reportedly having said: “Why, I know that boy, and have known him a good while. That’s not in him.”
As a result of white supremacist terrorism, an estimated 10,000 Blacks were left homeless and 35 city blocks were burned to the ground.
Black Wall Street survivor Olivia Hooker, now 99, has never given up hope for restitution. She was 6 years old when her father’s department store was destroyed. – Photo: Dexter Mullins
After the riot, Mayor T.D. Evans told a commission that what happened was “inevitable,” adding, “Let us immediately get to the outside fact that everything is quiet in our city, that this menace has been fully conquered, and that we are going on in a normal condition.”
And the city moved on and the people who lost everything, like Olivia Hooker, who is 99 now, have never been compensated for their loss.
Hooker, who was only a child during the riot, described to Al Jazeera how it impacted her. “After she witnessed white Tulsans loot her town, her perceptions of race were dramatically altered,” writes Dexter Mullins in “Survivors of infamous 1921 Tulsa race riot still hope for justice.”
The city moved on and the people who lost everything, like Olivia Hooker, who is 99 now, have never been compensated for their loss.
Like Black business districts in many cities before desegregation, Tulsa’s Black Wall Street supplied all the Black community’s needs, with all sorts of Black businesses, like this movie theater, and Black professionals. A dollar circulated 19 times before leaving the neighborhood. – Photo: Tulsa Historical Society
“I was 6 years and 3 months old when it occurred and the reason it was so devastating to me was that I had never been made aware of discrimination and hatred,” Hooker told Mullins.
“The only people that I saw who were not of my hue were people who were trying to sell something to my father for his department store and so they behaved as salesmen do. They brought things, they listened to my sister play Bach and they tried to engage the children so my father would buy their products.
“That was my image of people of another hue, and so when this terrible thing happened, it really destroyed my faith in humanity. It took a good long while for me to get over it.”
Blacks valiantly fought the fires that terrible day, June 1, 1921, to no avail. – Photo: Tulsa Historical Society
Mullins writes: “As the mob spread through Greenwood and the National Guard arrived to evacuate Black residents from their homes, Hooker’s mother saw crowds of people standing on a nearby hillside watching the disaster – with their children in tow. Hooker describes the speech her mother gave to the onlookers of the destruction”:
“She decided that all families who had brought their children to watch the destruction of the African American people – she thought she’d better tell them something. So she stood up there and gave an oration on the fact that what they were doing, bringing children to watch this, was going to be visited upon them unto the third and fourth generation,” said Hooker.
“So the children started crying and the people who brought their children to see the destruction said: ‘Make that woman shut up. She’s scaring our children.’
“And a man came from the group. I presume he was a veteran, because he limped. And he said to my mother, ‘If you’ll finish your oration, I can’t go in your house while the monsters are still in there, but I promise you when they leave I’ll go down and try to snuff out all the little blazes that they set.”
Ku Klux Klan membership grew after the destruction of Black Wall Street. Here they gather in Drumright, Okla., in 1922, the following year. And in 2001, 80 years later, when the Tulsa Race Riot Commission recommended in a 178-page report that survivors be paid reparations, calling it a “moral obligation,” hate calls flooded into the Greenwood Cultural Center, where a plaque lists the financial claims of the over 200 who’ve sued, adding up to $2,719,745.61. – Photo: Tulsa Historical Society
“After 93 years of fighting for restitution,” Mullins writes, “Hooker admits it is not likely she’ll ever receive anything”:
“We thought we might live long enough to see something happen,” Hooker told him, “but even though I’ve lived 99 years, nothing of that sort has actually happened. You keep hope alive, so to speak, and just keep right on trying – never giving up, never, never giving up.”
Real reparations, however, come in dollars and cents, not words.
There are fewer than a dozen survivors of the riot, and they will all probably die without being compensated. All city officials have offered them thus far are empty apologies.
“I cannot apologize for the actions, inaction and dereliction that those individual officers and their chief exhibited during that dark time,” said Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan in 2013. “But as your chief today, I can apologize for our police department. I am sorry and distressed that the Tulsa Police Department did not protect its citizens during those tragic days in 1921.”
Real reparations, however, come in dollars and cents, not words.
Yvette Carnell writes about politics, international and cultural issues on Your Black World and is the founder ofBreakingBrown, where this story first appeared. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or viahttp://about.me/yvettecarnell. Bay View staff contributed to this story.