Reps. John Lewis and Terri Sewell Scheme to Keep Racist’s Name on Selma Bridge
State Sen. Hank Sanders and lots of other people in Selma, Alabama, want to name the Edmund Pettus Bridge for Amelia Boynton Robinson, the “Mother of Voting Rights” who died in August at the age of 110. Ms. Boynton Robinson was an activist in the 1920s, registered to vote in 1934, brought both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and SNCC to Selma, ran for Congress in 1964, was beaten and left for dead by police on Bloody Sunday, 1965, and continued her political work until a month before her death. Edmund Pettus, on the other hand, was a Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon. Hank Sanders won unanimous State Senate support for a bill to remove Pettus’s name, but “Congresswoman Terri Sewell interacted to try and prevent that name from being changed, and so did Congressman [John] Lewis,” said Sanders. “There was a concerted effort to keep the white supremacist’s name on the bridge.” Some in Selma believe the goal is to ultimately have the bridge named for John Lewis, who was also badly beaten on March 7, 1965. Rep. Sewell was rated Worst Black Congressperson on the CBC Monitor Report Card.
100 Relatives of Police Victims Will Attend Rise Up October in NYC
Organizers will bring 100 family members of victims of police violence to New York City for Rise Up October protests, October 22 through 24. “It’s very important that people remember the names of those victims, but also see those who are left behind,” said Rev. Jerome McCorry, director of the Adam Project, which deals with incarceration issues in Dayton, Ohio, and Faith and Social Justice Advocate for the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, founded four years ago by Carl Dix and Dr. Cornel West. “We’re talking about more than seizing a moment; we’re creating a movement,” said McCorry.
Tens of Thousands of Prisoners Suffer Same Medical Neglect as Mumia
Pennsylvania prison authorities continue to resist Mumia Abu Jamal’s demand that he get adequate treatment for hepatitis C, the untreated underlying condition that led to his near death, earlier this year. The nation’s best known political prisoner’s skin resembles “elephant hide,” according to close confidant Dr. Johanna Fernandez, professor of History and Black and Latino Studies at Baruch College, in New York City. “This is a form of cruel and unusual punishment through medical neglect,” said Fernandez, who reports that other inmates afflicted with hepatitis C in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Minnesota and Massachusetts have filed class action suits. Fernandez said 40 percent of the nation’s prisoners suffer from serious, chronic diseases brought on by prison diets and conditions. “We’re dealing with human rights violations of epic proportions.
Prison Phone Call Prices to Drop
The Federal Communications Commission will soon finalize its order to dramatically reduce the rates private monopoly companies can charge for telephone services to prisoners. Calls at some jails and prisons currently cost as much as $14 a minute, with the companies kicking back some of the profits to prison authorities. The FCC’s new rates would range from 11 to 22 cents a minute, but the kickbacks would remain, said Alex Friedmann, associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center. Prison phone calls are privatized, as are prison money transfers, medical services, food, transportation – “all of these have been contracted out to for-profit companies,” said Friedmann. “In effect, we have monetized virtually every aspect of our corrections system.”
People’s Lawyer Mourned by Attica Brothers
Elizabeth Fink, the People’s Lawyer, died of cardiac arrest in Brooklyn, New York, at the age of 70, last month. Fink defended survivors of the police massacre that followed the Attica prison rebellion of 1971, winning a $12 million settlement for the victims, and secured the release of Black Panther political prisoner Dhoruba Bin Wahhad. Every prosecutor “had to respect the bearing, the presence, the integrity and the ferocity of Elizabeth Fink, who we will miss, dearly,” said Zayid Muhammad, press officer for the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee.
NYPD’s New Guidelines Just “Window Dressing”
New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton has issued new guidelines on reporting the use of non-lethal force against civilians, including striking, maceing, and take-downs. “We are unimpressed,” said Robert Gangi, of the Police Reform Organizing Project. It’s “primarily window dressing – as if most officers will comply with those policies,” or that the department will actually enforce them. “We know from NYPD practices that they don’t punish officers who don’t follow their own guidelines.” Officers are also banned from using force for intimidation or retaliation against civilians. “It would be foolish to believe that,” said Gangi.”