Good morning, everyone.
First up, #Justice4Cecily
Cecily McMillan, egregiously convicted of felony second-degree assault on the cop who sexually assaulted her on March 17 of 2012 will be sentenced on Monday in Judge Zweibel’s city courtroom in NYC. For a brief synopsis, this video is excellent, and is accompanied by the Staple Singers’ great and heart-wrenching civil rights song ‘Why am I treated so bad?’ I’m embedding the Tweet, as the warning is so profound.
On May 8, several days after the jury found her guilty, the Guardian reported that once the jurors were released from duty, they read that the conviction carried a maximum penalty of seven years in prison; many claimed complete ignorance, figuring that she might be sentenced to community service…or something. The paper said that they had’ obtained’ a copy of letter from nine of 12 jurors.
‘She was denied bail and is being detained at Riker’s Island jail.
However, nine of the 12 jurors who unanimously reached the verdict have since taken the unusual step of writing to Judge Ronald Zweibel to request that he not give her a prison sentence on 19 May.
“We the jury petition the court for leniency in the sentencing of Cecily McMillan,” they wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian. “We would ask the court to consider probation with community service.
“We feel that the felony mark on Cecily’s record is punishment enough for this case and that it serves no purpose to Cecily or to society to incarcerate her for any amount of time.”
The letter, which was signed by juror number two, Charles Woodard, was copied to all other members of the panel and to McMillan’s attorney, Martin Stolar.’
Petitions at change.org to Judge Zweibel and DA Cyrus Vance will be delivered within the hour; 43K for Zweibel, 43K for Cy Vance.
This is the text of Cecily’s 5/9/14 letter from Riker’s Island posted at justiceforcecily.com:
‘Good morning. I’m writing from the Rose M. Singer Correctional Facility, dorm 2 East B on Rikers Island – where I’ve been held for the past 4 days.
Admittedly, I was shocked by the jury’s verdict on Monday, but was not surprised by the events that followed. An overreaching prosecutor plus a biased judge logically adds up to my being remanded to Rikers.
I was prepared then, as I am now, to stand by my convictions and face the consequences of my actions – namely that of refusing to forsake my values and what I know to be true in exchange for my “freedom.”
Packed into a room with 45 other women – often restricted to my cot – I’ve had nothing but time to measure the strength of my beliefs alongside that ambiguous concept – “freedom.” (I’ve come to the conclusion that it is far easier to weigh such tradeoffs from the comfort of one’s own bed.)
At Rikers, the day begins with 4:30am breakfast. Milk cartons in hand, the women echo a common set of concerns – “can’t reach my lawyer, my family won’t speak to me, no commissary” – and I become painfully aware of how privileged I am, despite what is supposed to be the great equalizing suffering of the prison experience.
Unlike my peers, I have a hell of a lawyer – Marty Stolar – who made the long journey to hold my hand and promise “I will not stop fighting for you.” I also have a gifted team of friends and organizers – #Justice4Cecily – that continue to provide around-the-clock care and mobilize public support. Finally, I’m incredibly lucky to have a vast and very much alive movement at my side, sending me “Occupy Love” from across the world.
Despite how obscenely unbalanced our circumstances are, my new-found friends – who have quickly become my comrades – are outraged by my story and resolve to do their part to keep me out of prison. After lunch, they spend their free time writing letters to Judge Zweibel, defending my character and pleading for leniency.
At 6:00pm dinner, the cramped circle of ladies ask me “What exactly is social justice organizing?” Over the complex choreography of food trading I tell them about Democratic Socialist leader Eugene Victor Debs. How nearly 100 years ago he publicly criticized U.S. involvement in WWI – in violation of the Wartime Sedition Act – and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for exercising his constitutional right to free speech. “Sort of like that,” I explain, “But he’s way out of my league – he’s my hero.”
By lights out, a subtle peace has begun to wash over me. I page through a book stopping at Debs’ speech to the Federal Court of Cleveland, Ohio – I read and reread, as if a personal mantra, these opening lines –
“Your honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said it then, as I say it now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”
At the close of the night, I smile and shut my eyes. As I drift off, “Somehow,” I think, “this is all a part of the plan.”
Have good thoughts, say good prayers for her *and* for every other political prisoner the US has imprisoned to make life easier for the Empire as well. This is NOT just about McMillan. I’ll try to report on her sentence on Monday.
This is long-time activist and historian David Correia speaking eloquent truth at a recent locally organized TEDx talk, ‘How Do We End Police Violence in Albuquerque?’ He provides the painful historical narrative of the present having been built on top of colonialism, both past and present. ‘Racialized violence’ he says, is not a theme that is recognized, as it is such an Uncomfortable Truth. It allows us all to understand that in NM, ‘(un)Occupy’ was chosen to represent the 99%. Do listen, please.
Durango, CO investigative reporter Rod Barker wrote of the grievous an evil events in his book ‘The Broken Circle’; Indian murders in Cortez, not far north and west of Farmington used to be uninvestigated and unprosecuted. That has hanged in recent years with the pressures brought to bear by the CO Civil Rights Commission.
Will the APD be ‘reformed’?
Hmmm; not so one might notice. Russell Contreras reports in ‘Albuquerque police promote commander accused of burning off part of homeless man’s ear in 2002’:
‘Albuquerque police promoted a commander who was accused in a lawsuit of burning off part a homeless man’s ear with a stun gun, officials announced Thursday.
Albuquerque Police Department Chief Gorden Eden said in a statement he was promoting two Albuquerque commanders to the newly created rank of major in response to a harsh U.S. Justice Department report that was critical of Albuquerque police’s use of excessive force and demanded the agency adopt a number of reforms.
Foothills Area Commander Timothy Gonterman and Criminal Investigations Commander Anthony Montano will now oversee the East and West Side Field Services Divisions respectively, Eden said.
In 2006, a federal jury awarded a former homeless man $300,000 and found that Gonterman and two other officers used “excessive force” in the man’s 2002 arrest.
Gonterman gave the man second- and third-degree burns with his stun gun, the lawsuit said. The man’s lawyer says he lost part of his ear from burns.
In a statement, Gonterman called his actions during the 2002 arrest a mistake and said it took place 12 years ago when the stun gun technology was new and before officers had the training they have now. “It was a mistake, and I have learned from that mistake. I have taken responsibility for it,” Gonterman said. “Since that time, I have become a use of force instructor and a less lethal technology instructor to train officers to use the minimal amount of force necessary to make an arrest. I am also trained in crisis intervention.”
Gonterman said his training and experience has given him great perspective to guide and teach others’.
No, Chief Eden did not mention that history when announcing the two po-po’s promotions.
Correia and others have announced that there will be a ‘massive civil rights march planned in #ABQ against police violence. June 21 @ 11 AM. Tentative route: Tingley Beach-Tiguex Park’
And in other sad and sick news, he Tweeted this news:
Last but not least, the White House emailed this Fun Stuff recently:
“President Obama and Vice President Biden Honor America’s TOP COPS’ I will do you a favor and not embed the video.
Remember: ‘We are part of the fire that is burning…from the ashes we can build another day…’
(cross-posted at My.firedoglake.com)