Saturday, May 27, 2006
Police and fundamentalists attacked a gay rights march in Moscow today resulting in over one hundred arrests and a number of injuries. Police detained the rally's main organizer as he attempted to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier just outside the Kremlin wall.
Earlier, a police source said 1,000 policemen on duty in the city's center had been instructed to stop all attempts to hold the banned demonstration.
A Moscow district court Friday upheld a ban imposed by the city government on the parade slated for Saturday. The court rejected an appeal by the event's organizers against a Moscow city government decision to prohibit the event to mark the 13th anniversary of homosexuality being decriminalized in Russia.
Deputy Mayor Lyudmila Shevtsova said, "In our country, homosexuality and lesbianism have always been considered sexual perversions, and were even prosecuted in the past. Currently, the stated actions are not prohibited by law," she admitted, "but their agitation, including gay festivals and a parade of sexual minorities, is in fact propaganda of immorality, which may be prohibited by law."
The Deputy Mayor should keep her mouth shut!
The following is from Pink News
Fundamentalists attack German MP on Moscow gay rights march
Over 120 people including a German MP have been arrested in Moscow after campaigners attempted to hold the capital's first gay rights rally.
Volker Beck, a Green member of the German parliament was attacked by 20 religious protesters and punched in the face whilst he was giving a television interview.
“There was no aggression from our side, we were simply there,” Herr Beck told the DPA press agency. “It is unacceptable that the police offer no protection to gays on the streets.”
Gay rights activists had attempted to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, just outside the Kremlin wall and then to gather outside the office of the Mayor of Moscow who had attempted to ban the event.
Around 100 religious and fascist extremists dressed in black kicked and punched gay activists. “Moscow is not Sodom!” shouted a group of Russian women clutching religious icons.
"We are Russians. We are Orthodox. These soldiers died so we could live like Russians, not so these people could come here and tell us what to do," one Christian protester told Reuters.
The veteran gay rights campaigner and regular contributor to PinkNews.co.uk, Peter Tatchell was amongst those taking part in the march. “Both the authorities and the fascists had the same objective, to suppress the Moscow gay pride” he said following the confrontations between the gay activists and the religious protesters.
The Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, banned the gay parade and threatened to to also outlaw the parallel gay rights conference and festival.
Mr Luzhkov says he will not allow a gay pride parade "in any form" and that any attempt to march in the streets will be "resolutely quashed."
He claims the ban will protect gays and lesbians from potential violent protests
A statement from the Mayor‘s office said: “This march could provoke a wave of protests which could lead to mass breaches of public order and disturbances, therefore the application for the march has not been successful.”
I've been looking around for charities that provide some useful services to wounded soliders and/or their families. This one looks good.
The Fisher House™ Program
The Fisher House™ program is a unique private-public partnership that supports America's military in their time of need. The program recognizes the special sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by meeting a humanitarian need beyond that normally provided by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
Because members of the military and their families are stationed worldwide and must often travel great distances for specialized medical care, Fisher House™ Foundation donates "comfort homes," built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times - during the hospitalization for an unexpected illnes, disease, or injury.
There is at least one Fisher House™ at every major military medical center to assist families in need and to ensure that they are provided with the comforts of home in a supportive environment. Annually, the Fisher House™ program serves more than 8,500 families, and have made available more than two million days of lodging to family members since the program originated in 1990. Based on a comparison of fees at a Fisher House™ (the average charge is less than $10 per family per day, with many locations offering rooms at no cost) with commercial lodging facilities in the same area, it is estimated that families have saved more than $60 million by staying at a Fisher House™ since the program began.
In addition to constructing new houses, Fisher House™ Foundation continues to support existing Fisher Houses™ and help individual military families in need. Families and friends of patients at any of the military's hospitals can now receive up-to-the-minute reports on a loved one by going to the patient's own customized web page, thanks to new services provided through CaringBridge. We are also proud to administer and sponsor Scholarships for Military Children, the Hero Miles program, and co-sponsor the Newman's Own Award.
If you would like to make a donation:
Mail your donation to:
Fisher House™ Foundation, Inc.
1401 Rockville Pike, Suite 600
Rockville, MD 20852
Make checks payable to: Fisher House™ Foundation
Friday, May 26, 2006
If you were just getting ready to take a drive into downtown Sofia, don't do it. A hellish traffic jam has blocked one of Bulgaria's capital main thoroughfares today. The broken traffic lights at the major crossroad at Petyo Yavorov Blvd and Simeonovsko shousse resulted in kilometre long queues of cars to and from Sofia downtown. The crossroad located near the Biological faculty of Sofia University is one of the main thoroughfares in the capital. Trucks, buses and cars were jammed for hours as there was no police officer to control the traffic. Heavy traffic is seen as one of the main problems of Bulgaria's capital. Poor infrastructure and unruly drivers are just a few of the troubles Bulgaria has to cope with to improve the road safety in the country.
The Oread Daily is always on the scene to help out our readers.
On November 3, 1979, a caravan of Klansmen and Nazis opened fire on a anti-Klan rally organized by the Communist Workers Party (CWP) that was just about to get underway. In broad daylight, the assailants gunned down five young revolutionaries, as television cameras rolled and the Greensboro police looked on.
As you read the article below keep in mind these words of Yonni Chapman when he testified in 2002 before the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission,
"At root, what the mainstream storyline about November 3 adds up to can be expressed in a single word--denial. The fringe group shoot out line denies that the confrontation of November 3 grew out of the failure of Greensboro to acknowledge and remedy longstanding and systemic traditions of racial injustice and the suppression of workers' rights. It dismisses as unimportant the fact that the city of Greensboro denied the anti-Klan demonstrators the protection promised them and due all Americans. It justifies the assassination of young people upholding the best American values of fairness and equality by denying their humanity and labeling them 'the communists.' Most of all, it denies justice by blaming the victims for their own murders and making it far more difficult for us to recognize and root out injustice today."
On November 3, 1979, Chapman was one of the anti-klan demonstrators and was a member of the Communist Workers Party. Since that time he has continued racial justice organizing in chapel Hill and serves as the historian of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP.
To read the entire transcript of his testimony go to http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:m1OSZ7-b8qQJ:www.greensborotrc.org/chapman.doc+%22COMMUNIST+WORKERS+PARTY%22+%2B+KLAN&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=42
The following article comes from the Greensbor, North Carolina News-Record. It's interesting that the local paper attempted to soft peddle the report with the headline and the opening paragraph you will read below.
Blame for shootings shared, report says
GREENSBORO -- Klansmen and Nazis, the Greensboro Police Department and even Communist demonstrators bear responsibility -- but not equal responsibility -- for the shootings that killed five demonstrators on Nov. 3, 1979.
Also, Greensboro and its police department should apologize for failing to protect the public and members of the Communist Workers Party.
That's what a panel investigating the Klan/Nazi shootings has determined after a two-year investigation into the incident.
The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its long-awaited report during a ceremony Thursday night, and provided copies of a 49-page executive summary of its findings.
Copies of the full report -- some 400 pages -- will be available late next week for free through the Greensboro Public Library. The report is also available on the group's Web site: www.greensborotrc.org
Commissioners discussed their findings earlier Thursday with survivors and victims' families, so as not "to add to their pain," said Commissioner Muktha Jost.
At the three-hour release ceremony, survivors and leaders of community groups thanked commissioners but said the report is just the start.
"This report is a beginning if we make it a beginning," said Steve Simpson of the National Conference for Community and Justice of the Piedmont Triad.
Some said the work of the commission, if acted on, could move the city forward beyond the events of Nov. 3, 1979.
"I'm so happy to see this day," said Signe Waller, widow of one of the shooting victims, Jim Waller.
"It's a milestone on a long, difficult, painful road to truth."
The seven-member commission spent two years investigating the shootings, which left five dead and 10 injured.
A separate group, the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Project, will host discussions about the report throughout the summer.
The Klan-Nazi shootings happened the morning of Nov. 3 just as the Death to the Klan march was forming in the Morningside Homes community. The neighborhood has since been torn down for new development.
A heavily armed caravan of Klansmen and Nazis drove into the area and confronted anti-Klan marchers, many of whom were members of what became the Communist Workers Party. During the ensuing gunfire, captured on videotape by TV crews, five anti-Klan marchers were killed and 10 others wounded.
Two long and expensive criminal trials brought no convictions for Nazis and Klansmen, who claimed self-defense.
Among the findings in the commission's executive summary:
• Klansmen and Nazis drove toward the rally that morning with "malicious intent." There's evidence to show they came to Greensboro "to provoke a violent confrontation" they discussed on multiple occasions.
The executive summary singles out five Klansmen who opened the trunks of cars to retrieve weapons.
• The Greensboro Police Department showed "a stunning lack of curiosity in planning for the safety of the event."
The commission singled out for harsh criticism the department's handling of informant Eddie Dawson, a Klan member:
"Informants are by definition party to criminal activity, but we find that the decision to pay an informant and fail to intervene when he takes a leadership role to provoke and orchestrate a criminal act, with the full knowledge of police handlers, is negligent and unconscionably bad policing."
• Commissioners rejected the long-standing belief that police officers weren't on the scene at Morningside Homes because the protestors gave purposefully misleading information about where the march would begin.
Internal police records show that the discrepancy about the location was "repeatedly discussed" during planning meetings.
• " 'Death to the Klan' " was an unfortunate slogan for the parade," the commissioners found. They also found a statement by CWP member Paul Bermanzohn -- that the Klan "must be physically beaten back, eradicated, exterminated, wiped off the face of the earth -- to be "troubling."
The CWP was "very naive about the level of danger posed by their rhetoric," the summary reads. But commissioners attribute that to the police department's failure to tell the protestors about the Klan's plans.
• The all-white jury in the state criminal trial was caused by a "problematic jury selection process." Before 1986, defense attorneys and prosecutors could strike a potential juror from the pool based on race.
On Thursday night, former District Attorney Mike Schlosser, who tried the state criminal cases, said he agreed with those findings. Defense attorneys dismissed black jurors, which he said hampered his efforts to convict the Klansmen.
"It would have been much more fair to have a jury that represented the community," he said.
In addition to asking the city of Greensboro and its police department to apologize, the commission also made recommendations about how the community can heal:
• The city should "make a proclamation that lifts up the importance" of Nov. 3, 1979, in Greensboro's history.
• People who have any responsibility for the tragedy should apologize publicly or privately.
• People who feel responsible can offer restitution to the victims by contributing to a public monument remembering the incident.
• The News & Record should act alone or with other media outlets to host a citywide panel that could comment on "news process, content, quality and ethics."
You can read the report itself at http://www.greensborotrc.org/
The (Shakespeare) Festival in Stratford, Ontario will be the scene of a demonstration called by the Perth County Coalition Against Poverty. The demonstration is a direct challenge to the opening night gala of the Stratford Festival. The event is a black tie, limo arrangement and will certainly see the Ontario Lieutenant Governor and high ranking Government officials in attendance.
The protesters will be demanding a 40% increase to social assistance rates, a $10 minimum wage and an end to the clawback of the National Child Benefit Supplement from families on social assistance.
ED: Believe it or not I once attended this festival twenty plus years ago while on a road trip which took me through parts of Canada. I saw Macbeth. The only time in my life I've ever been to see Shakespeare. I was not rich and stayed overnight in a room I rented at a local hospital (that was kinda odd, I thought). I did sip wine during the intermission surrounded by folks dressed one hell of a lot fancier than I.
The following is from the London Free Press (Canada). The statement below that comes the Autonomy & Solidarity website.
Poverty protest targets Stratford
STRATFORD -- A coalition of anti-poverty groups is setting the stage for a large rally Monday at the splashy opening-night gala at the Stratford Festival.
Doug Trollope of the Perth County Coalition Against Poverty said his group will be joined by about 400 supporters from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Ontario Common Front and Ontario Needs a Raise Campaign for a protest at the renowned festival.
Protesters plan to gather on the field below the festival theatre, then march en masse to the theatre to shut it down for the evening, said Trollope.
"We have no intention of hurting the festival and I don't believe one night will hurt the festival," he said.
"This is just the beginning of a number of political targets around the province."
The protesters want social assistance rates increased and the minimum wage raised to $10.
Critics of the protest have noted the annual festival is a not-for-profit organization that provides about 1,000 jobs directly and 2,000 more indirectly.
Trollope said he wasn't concerned that hitting the festival could annoy locals and backfire.
"It doesn't matter where we hit for a target, we're going to step on somebody's toes and somebody will get upset," he said.
Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson said the city expects a peaceful and responsible protest.
Earlier this week, coalition members met with politicians from the federal, provincial and municipal governments to discuss their concerns.
Liberal MPP John Wilkinson agreed that social assistance and minimum wage rates are too low.
He said the province is looking at ways to raise social assistance and said the minimum wage is being increased every year until it "represents a reasonable standard of living."
OCAP: STRATFORD - WHY THE FESTIVAL IS BEING CHALLENGED
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), joined by poor
peoples' organizations from several other cities, will be coming to Stratford on May 29th. We will support a protest at the Festival
organized by the Perth County Coalition Against Poverty.
The decision to hold an action at the black tie opening night in
Stratford has created quite a stir. The local Beacon Herald newspaper
has run front page stories, indignant letters have been written (one
calling for a mobilization of the 'militia' to keep us out of town)
and even the Mayor of Stratford has felt called upon to enter the fray.
We'd like to make clear why we have chosen to support and
participate in this event. As fine as some of the theatrical
productions at the Festival may be, the season of plays in Stratford
is about corporate profits and is, moreover, a showpiece of lavish
consumption that the poor are shut out from. A few free tickets to
low income people and the chance for some seasonal jobs in the service
industry don't alter the basic nature of the Festival.
While affluent people come into Stratford for high class dining
and to stay in plush hotels, the poor must choose between paying their
rent and feeding their families. The present Ontario Government, that
promotes this Festival and whose members will attend it, has chosen to
allow welfare rates to fall, in real terms, to even lower levels than
during the years of the Mike Harris Tories. Poverty, misery and
shortened lives are the results of this for hundreds of thousands of
While wealthy theatre goers sit in the best seats and gather in
specially reserved lounges for cocktails, the poor of Stratford are
expected to suffer quietly on their sub poverty income. The homeless
will not be welcome in the parks where tourists gather. In Stratford,
and throughout Ontario, poverty is supposed to keep a low profile and
stay out of sight.
OCAP is determined that the poverty that Dalton McGuinty imposes
on us will not be invisible or silent. It will be loud and angry and
it will challenge the festivals and the cash registers of those who
profit at the expense of the poor. The Liberals cut the Special Diet
Supplement and robbed tens of thousands of the right to decent
nutrition. They then announced that 760,000 poor people, whose income
has fallen by more than 40% over the last decade, would receive a
wretched 2% increase in their social assistance payments. With this,
they effectively declared war on the poor and they can hardly be
surprised if the poor respond accordingly.
Let it be understood that people going hungry and facing
homelessness have no interest in suffering in silence. It will not be
business as usual, in Stratford or anywhere else in Ontario, as long
as the basic necessities of life remain unaffordable luxuries.
We will be at the opening night to challenge a festival of
injustice and inequality. Poverty will be at the centre of the stage
and the guests of honour in their limos will have to deal with the
poor and their justified anger. If that makes some uncomfortable, we
make no apologies. If we can't have our bread, you can't have your
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (416) 925-6939
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Cops begun arresting protesters at the Eagleridge Bluffs Tent City early this morning one day after the private contractor won an enforcement order in B.C. Supreme Court.
As previously reported here, environmentalists, residents, and other supporters set up their camp last month, blocking logging and blasting work, insisting the new four-lane section will damage the wetlands and forest. They argue expansion plans tunnel.
Below is an article from the CBC. Following that is an open letter to British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell from a group of environmental scientists.
Police arrest Eagleridge protesters
West Vancouver police arrested at least 20 protesters on Thursday morning at the Eagleridge Bluffs tent city that went up more than a month ago.
They were the people who decided to stay and be arrested after Staff-Sgt Jim Almas read aloud both the court injunction ordering them to leave and the subsequent enforcement order.
Police say those arrested will face possible civil charges for violating the court order.
Earlier in the morning, the leader of the protest said he was looking forward to the arrests.
"If this is going down today, we want it to be memorable. So I'm hopeful that it is going to be a media circus," said Dennis Perry, who heads the Coalition to Save Eagleridge Bluffs.
The Eagleridge tent city went up in April, in an effort to stop the construction of a new section of the Sea to Sky Highway through the rock bluffs in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
They say the highway project would destroy a sensitive wetland.
The protesters want the provincial government to build a tunnel through the area of multimillion-dollar homes instead of logging and blasting through the bluffs. But the government has refused, saying it would cost too much.
The contractor went to B.C. Supreme Court earlier this month, seeking and obtaining an injunction ordering the protesters to move out to allow his crews to begin work.
FROM MAY 15, 2006: Eagleridge protesters told to get out of the way
But the campers refused to leave, and appealed the decision, unsuccessfully.
The contractor then returned to court and obtained an enforcement order, which is being carried out at the protest site on Thursday.
AN OPEN LETTER TO PREMIER GORDON CAMPBELL
FROM CONCERNED ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTISTS
May 23, 2006
The Honourable Gordon Campbell
Premier of British Columbia
Room 156, West Annex
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
Dear Premier Campbell:
We are writing to request your attention, as Premier, to the escalating dispute in West Vancouver between the Provincial Ministry of Transportation and a growing number of citizens and organizations over the fate of Eagleridge Bluffs, the Larsen Creek Wetlands and the surrounding mature coniferous forest. We do not categorically oppose an upgrade of the highway, but are deeply worried by the antediluvian manner in which it is taking place.
As environmental professionals, we cannot remain silent in the face of the substandard environmental management practices currently applied to, what your own government has referred to, as “the most unique ecosystem in the Sea to Sky corridor.” Accordingly, we are requesting in the strongest possible terms that you exercise your responsibility as Premier and intervene in this extended dispute immediately.
We have four specific concerns: As applied at the Eagleridge Bluffs and adjacent Larsen Creek Wetlands, the Environmental Management Planning (EMP) process, Species at Risk Management approach, , the 2003 Environmental Assessment (EA) and the standard Best Management Practices were flawed and need to be corrected as outlined below:
1) The Environmental Management Planning (EMP) process applied to the first section of the Sea to Sky Highway 99 (referred to as DB1 is flawed because it is limited in scope.
Rather than insisting on a complete and integrated EMP for the whole of DB1(extending from Eagleridge Bluffs to Sunset Beach), the Province has accepted piecemeal EMPs, phased in as construction proceeds northward through DB1. The EMP being used here applies only to the subsection of DB1 from
Eagleridge Bluffs parking lot to the eastern boundary of Larsen Creek Wetlands for the first phase of
Phased EMPs do not consider critical interactions and dependencies between adjacent Ecosystems such as the Bluffs, the Wetlands and the adjacent coniferous forest. They ignore important interconnected ecosystem dynamics such as the effects of fragmentation, trophic level energy flows, impact of changes to surface and subsurface waterflow, wildlife corridors, predator/prey spatial relationships and blow down effects. The Eagleridge coastal bluff Arbutus grove will not survive in its present form if fragmented by a major highway.
2) Existing relevant “Species at Risk” environmental legislation is not being applied.
The BC Wildlife Act, the Federal Migratory Bird Conservation Act (Bill C15) and the international Migratory Bird Convention Act, to which Canada is a party, all prohibit disturbance of nesting birds, their eggs and nest trees until the end of the nesting season which typically occurs in mid-August. Penalties of up to $50,000 for disturbing nesting birds can be issued under the provisions of the Federal Migratory Bird Conservation Act.
In DB1, the Bluffs and Wetlands support a rich diversity of nesting migratory songbirds. During May 2006, over 20 species were confirmed, including flycatchers, kinglets, creepers, thrushes, towhees, sparrows, nuthatches, warblers and vireos. These birds are currently in their nesting season. Proceeding with proposed highway construction through Eagleridge Bluffs and the forest to the northwest would destroy songbird nests, eggs and nest trees.
There are no known mitigation measures in place to protect nesting songbirds and their young during the scheduled logging in Sea to Sky Highway Improvement project area DB1. Recent surveys by contracted environmental consultants have been too cursory to identify active nests. The young from these nests will be killed unless robust songbird surveys are carried out immediately. If construction is permitted, these birds will be discounted despite provincial, federal and international protective legislation mentioned above.
Similarly, federal and provincial BC legislation provides protection for the habitat of several rare and endangered species of plants, amphibians and animals as well as ecosystems known to exist at the Bluffs and the Wetlands. The proposed highway through DB1 will permanently damage the habitat so critical to vulnerable ecosystems, plants, organisms, amphibians, birds and animals such as the following.
The rare red-listed dry coastal bluff Arbutus plant community (CWHdm variant)
which occurs nowhere else in BC or Canada
The Larsen Creek Wetland microclimate
The endangered, blue-listed Northern Red-legged Frog: confirmed to live in the Larsen Creek Wetlands by District of West Vancouver staff in 2005 and again in 2006 by registered professional biologists.
The regionally rare Hairy Manzanita
The endangered, blue-listed Howell’s Violet
3) The 2003 Environmental Assessment (EA) which facilitated the 2004 EA Certificate led to regulatory approval for the $600 million Sea To Sky Highway ImprovementProject. The 2003 Assessment is flawed and in need of improvement.
The 2003 EA is deficient in scope and in content. It does not refer to known rare and endangered red-listed and blue-listed plant communities at Eagleridge Bluffs. Nor does it address the blue-listed Northern Red-legged Frog known to occupy the Larsen Creek Wetlands.
The 2003 EA also does not consider all plants and animals in the Sea to Sky Highway corridor since baseline surveys were not carried out during all four seasons. A proper and thorough rewriting of the 2003 EA is essential.
4) Current, widely accepted Best Management Practices dictating a thorough assessment to identify environmental values prior to highway construction disturbances have not been followed.
The most important habitats to protect are often the closest to major urban centres. Vancouver, surrounded by accessible wilderness, is looked to by the world as a place that offers both residents and tourists an enviable opportunity to pursue a variety of outdoor experiences. All levels of BC government and business publicly foster respect for and sustainability of our natural surroundings as a vital part of our future prosperity.
Eagleridge is a legacy to be left to our descendants. Intervening to best mitigate the impact of the highway would be proof to the world that BC truly is “Supernatural BC” and proof that your government believes in sustainability of the environment and a sustainable, green Olympics in 2010. Disregarding our concerns and just blasting a highway through the Bluffs would send a very different message to the world. The full potential economic impact of this decision should be considered now rather than when it is too late.
We, the undersigned, request that you intervene to preserve the environmentally, recreationally and scientifically valuable ecosystems at Eagleridge Bluffs. As we stated, we do not oppose an upgrade of the Sea to Sky Highway but only request that you take a wise second look at the choices available.
Thank you for your consideration and we await your timely response on behalf of all concerned British
For more information: please contact: Jim Cuthbert at 604-785-5175 / 604-929-0143 Email: email@example.com
Lea Berrang Ford, PhD Candidate - Environmental Epidemiology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON.
Leah Bendell-Young, Ph D - Professor, Department of Biosciences, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver
Kai M. A. Chan, Ph D. - Assistant Professor, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability,
University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC
David L. Cook, P.Eng, BSc., FGAG – Biologist/Geologist (retired), North Vancouver BC
Jim Cuthbert, MSc. RPBio – National Field Office Director, Western Canada Wilderness Committee
Eagleridge Environmental Stewardship Alliance (EESA), North Shore
Nest Environmental Stewardship Team (NEST), Principal, Sustainable
James Ford, Ph D - Post Doctoral Fellow, Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec
R. John Gibson, PhD – Emeritus Scientist, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, St. John’s, NL
Richard Haedrich, PhD – Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland,
St. John’s, NL.
Former Co-Chair, Marine Sub-committee, COSEWIC
Raul S. Lopez, P.Eng., CMA, PMP – Ottawa, Ontario
Arne Mooers, Ph D - Assistant Professor – Department of Biosciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC
Ralph Moore – VP, East Kootenay Environmental Society/Wildsight Creston Branch
Member, Provincial Community Forest Advisory Committee
Representative, BC Environmental Network and Dir. Creston Valley Community Forest
Craig Orr, Ph.D – Ex. Director, Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Former Vice-Chair, Habitat Conservation Trust Fund
Former Chair, BC Hydro Fish & Wildlife Program
Technical Committee, Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund
Tristan Pearce, MA - Research Associate, Global Environmental Change Group
Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario
Jennifer Pouliotte, MA - Climate Change Programme Fellow
United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
William E. Rees, PhD – Professor, School of Community and Regional Planning
University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC
Co-Author of “Our Ecological Footprint”
Christine Spencer, Ph.D. - Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Biodiversity Research Centre
University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC
Diane Srivastava, Ph D - Assistant Professor - Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia
S. Fredrik Sverre, M.Sc., R.P. Bio. – Charter member of Eagleridge Environmental Stewardship
Alliance, Concerned Citizen of West Vancouver, BC
Brad Davis- PhD Candidate, Biodiversity Research Centre
Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia
Defying a rising tide of homophobic threats, activists and others say this Saturday's Gay Pride parade in Moscow will go on.
Peter Tatchell, member of the queer rights group OutRage! and the left wing of the British Green party, writes in the Guardian that much of the anti-gay sentiment that is sweeping Russia has been whipped up by religious leaders. Threatening violence against Moscow Gay Pride, the chief mufti of Russia's Central Spiritual Governance for Muslims, Talgat Tajuddin, said: "Muslim protests can be even worse than these notorious rallies abroad over the scandalous cartoons."
"The parade should not be allowed, and if they still come out into the streets, then they should be bashed. Sexual minorities have no rights, because they have crossed the line. Alternative sexuality is a crime against God," he said, calling on members of the Russian Orthodox Church to join Muslims in mounting a violent response to Moscow Gay Pride.
Russian Orthodox leaders responded by lobbying Mayor Luzhkov to ban the parade. A spokesperson declared that homosexuality is a "sin which destroys human beings and condemns them to a spiritual death".
Not to be left out, Russia's chief rabbi, Berl Lazar, said that if a Gay Pride parade was allowed to go ahead it would be "a blow for morality". He stopped short of calling for violence, but warned that the Jewish community would not stand by silently. "Sexual perversions", he said, did not have a right to exist. Lazar declared that Gay Pride marches were "a provocation" similar to the cartoon depictions of Mohammed.
For a related Oread Daily article go to "UGLY RELIGIOUS SKINHEADS ATTACK GAY CLUB IN MOSCOW" at http://oreaddaily.blogspot.com/2006/05/ugly-religious-skinheads-attack-gay.html
The following is from Gay.com
Activists set to defy Moscow Pride ban
Veteran British human rights activist Peter Tatchell and other international activists have pledged solidarity with the Russian LGBT community and will join gay activists in defying a ban on this Saturday's Gay Pride march in Moscow.
Despite Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's threat of mass arrests and the threat of violence from nationalist and religious leaders, the activists will participate in the first Gay Pride gathering in Russian history.
It will take place Saturday, the 13th anniversary of the 1993 abolition of Soviet-era laws against male homosexuality.
Mayor Luzhkov has said he will not allow a Gay Pride parade "in any form" and that any attempt to march in the streets will be "resolutely quashed." Last week city officials denied the parade organizers' application for a permit.
"Of course we will not proceed on the same route that we applied for in the application, because there will not be enough security and there will nationalistic groups who will gather in the same place and try to disrupt events," parade organizer Nikolai Alexeyev told the BBC.
"We will have to find other options to go and realize our constitutional rights," he said. "It will be some kind of different gathering somewhere in the city."
Luzkhov also threatened to forbid a parallel gay rights conference and festival, which nonetheless kicked off Thursday morning at a Moscow hotel, according to the Interfax news service.
The mayor's decision follows anti-gay comments made by the leader of Russia's Muslim community, which threatened violence if the planned Moscow Gay Pride parade goes ahead. Condemnations of gay people and the gay parade have also been made by Russia's chief rabbi and the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Luzhkov's intransigence, despite urgings from international leaders and rights groups, earned him a place in this year's Human Rights Watch "Hall of Shame" for promoting prejudice against the LGBT community.
Once again the Bush Administration pretends that scientific evidence does not exist.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced this week it will continue to allow a highly toxic household pesticide to stay on the market -- even though four years ago agency experts concluded it poses a serious risk to human health. The pesticide, dichlorvos, or DDVP, is commonly used in pest strips, aerosol sprays and pet collars.
Health advocates and environmental groups have long called for the pesticide to be banned. It can cause flu-like symptoms, headaches, nausea and dizziness, and in large doses, can be fatal. Health advocates also are concerned that the pesticide might damage the brains of developing fetuses and infants.
"Years ago EPA acknowledged that DDVP poses a significant threat to health, but it negotiated an illegal, backroom deal with the manufacturer to keep it on the market," says Aaron Colangelo, an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "This pesticide especially threatens our children, but the agency seems more interested in protecting the one company that makes it."
Following is a press release from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
EPA SCIENTISTS PROTEST PENDING PESTICIDE APPROVALS
Unacceptable Risk to Children and Political Pressure on Scientists Decried
Washington, DC — In an unprecedented action, representatives for thousands of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientists are publicly objecting to imminent agency approval for a score of powerful, controversial pesticides, according to a letter released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The scientists cite “compelling evidence” which EPA leadership is choosing to ignore that these “pesticides damage the developing nervous systems of fetuses, infants and children.”
On August 3, 2006, EPA faces a deadline for issuing final tolerance approval for 20 organophosphate and carbamate pesticides. In a letter dated May 24, 2006, leaders of three unions (American Federation of Government Employees, National Treasury Employees Union and Engineers and Scientists of California) representing 9,000 scientists, risk managers and other specialists asked EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to either adopt maximum exposure protections for these agents or take them off the market.
Organophosphates, derived from World War II-era nerve agents, are banned in England, Sweden and Denmark. In the 1990’s the National Academies of Science criticized EPA’s regulation of these pesticides. The Clinton administration began moves to ban the agents but the Bush administration changed course. In the past few months, the Bush administration approach has been faulted by both EPA’s own Scientific Advisory Panel and its Office of Inspector General.
In their letter, the EPA scientists charge that agency “risk assessments cannot state with confidence the degree to which any exposure of a fetus, infant or child to a pesticide will or will not adversely affect their neurological development.” In addition, the scientists contend that –
“Our colleagues in the Pesticide Program feel besieged by political pressure exerted by Agency officials perceived to be too closely aligned with the pesticide industry and former EPA officials now representing the pesticide and agricultural community”;
“In the rush to meet the August 2006 …deadline, many steps in the risk assessment and risk management process are being abbreviated or eliminated in violation of the principles of scientific integrity and objectivity…”; and
The prevailing “belief among managers in the Pesticide and Toxics Programs [is] that regulatory decisions should only be made after reaching full consensus with the regulated pesticide and chemicals industry.”
Notwithstanding the scientific uncertainty and controversy, EPA has announced that is approving one of the most toxic agents, dichlorvos or DDVP, for household use in pet flea collars and no-pest strips.
“Our top public scientists are morally and professionally compromised by the Bush administration partnership with the chemical industry,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing, for example, to EPA’s rush to embrace testing of pesticides and other chemicals on human subjects for commercial purposes. “The fact that this letter had to be sent at all is an utter disgrace but, even more disgraceful, is the likelihood that this warning will be disregarded by an agency that is supposed to be protecting public health and the environment.”
Read the EPA scientists’ letter of protest at http://www.peer.org/docs/epa/06_25_5_union_ltr.pdf.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
A tense situation has been prevailing in the country's industrial sector following the labour unrest in the garment sector that left at least three persons dead and over 300 injured in last three days.
The workers started demonstrating after authorities failed to meet their demands, which include higher wages and benefits, one day off per week and an end to forced overtime, said labor leader Belayet Hossain.
Workers are often forced to work seven days a week or late into the night to meet production deadlines, Hossain added.
"We have joined the protest as we are paid pittance for our hard work," said Kamal Hussain, a garment worker who was demonstrating with about 100 others in Uttara, just outside Dhaka.
A textile worker earns about $22 a month in Bangladesh. Hossain said they were seeking at least a 30 percent raise.
More than 100 vehicles were damaged in the violence that first erupted on Monday in and around the capital, Dhaka, after factory owners called in police to break up demonstrations by workers demanding better pay and benefits.
The demonstrations have left dozens of factories ransacked and burnt and the government has deployed the elite Rapid Action Battalion force and paramilitary troops to reinforce security at factories.
Fearing further violence, several garment factories in different parts of the country remained closed on Wednesday. Only a few garment factories were seen open under special security cordon in city's Mirpur, Tejgaon and Malibag areas.
Bangladesh has about 2,500 garment factories employing about 1.8 million workers, mostly women.
The International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF) has called on the Bangladesh government to undertake an urgent enquiry into the root causes of the violent uprising, focusing in particular on the following problems:
-excessively long working hours;
-low rates of basic earnings;
-abuses in piece rate payments;
-the late payment of wages;
-the use of child labour;
-issues of structural and fire safety in the sector;
-the corrupt police practice of charging workers on the flimsiest of evidence;
-the practice of supervisors acting as labour contractors and illegally raking off a percentage of wages;
- the practice of using hired goons to terrorise and intimidate workers;
-the behaviour of the police and other paramilitary forces when unrest occurs.
The workers took a more direct approach.
The following is from the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation.
Bangladesh Employers Told to Stop Destroying Garment Industry
As riots by angry workers continue to sweep through Bangladesh’s export garment sector, wayward employers have been told to stop destroying the image of Bangladesh, the future of the industry, and the livelihoods of the millions of workers that produce their wealth.
In two days of violent unrest, over 200 factories have been destroyed and scores of vehicles have been set on fire. Two workers have died and hundreds have been injured.
Says Neil Kearney, General Secretary of the Brussels-based International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation: “We have repeatedly warned of the growing frustration at the payment of starvation wages, the excessive hours of work, the cheating on piece work and the falsifying of overtime rates, the abusive treatment and the appalling health and safety conditions.
“But the employers association, BGMEA, has brushed aside the notion that the violence is the result of low wages and poor conditions, claiming that workers were ‘well paid and enjoyed good conditions’.
“Unfortunately, this sort of head-in-the-sand attitude is undermining the huge efforts that have been made to try to stabilise and grow the industry in the post-MFA climate”.
“Are employers blind – or is this some conspiracy on their part?”, queried Mr. Kearney. “The BGMEA is adding insult to injury and ought to apologise to workers for such outrageous statements”.
Says Mr. Kearney: “According to the employers’ association, the violence is been carried out by ‘miscreants dictated by a vested quarter, who are waged a war against the economy’. In reality it is employers who are waging a war against workers, imposing a regime which is beyond human endurance. It is employers who routinely call in hired goons to terrorise and intimidate workers who demand better conditions.
“Workers in the industry are subjected to appalling exploitation. Last year the government legalised a 72-hour work week, but the reality is even harsher. Even on Fridays, which is supposed to be their weekly day of rest, millions of workers can be found working an 18-hour day. Sometimes workers are forced to work around the clock.
“And what reward do these workers receive ? A legal minimum wage of Taka 930 (less than 14USD). Even this pittance is not paid to everyone. When I was last in Dhaka I heard of a worker who after 29, 12-hour days last month earned Taka 400 - less than half the legal minimum. Workers from one of the factories that was torched said they had not been paid for two months.
“In order to earn this pitiful wage workers have to put their lives at risk. Some 425 workers have been killed and 2,399 have been injured in 24 accidents since 1990.
“Last April, the Spectrum factory collapsed, leaving 65 workers dead and 85 seriously injured. Earlier this year, four appalling accidents occurred in the space of only two weeks. On February 23, a fire at the KTS Textile Industries factory killed 61 workers, some as young as twelve, and left about 100 injured. On February 25 twenty-two workers were killed and 50 injured when the five-story Phoenix Building collapsed. On February 25, fifty-seven workers were injured when a transformer exploded at the Imam Group building and workers are unable to get out through the narrow exits. And on March 6, three workers were killed and approximately 50 injured when a fire caused by an electrical short circuit at a building housing Sayem Fashions and Radiant Sweaters.
The ITGLWF has called on the BGMEA and BKMEA to repudiate the statements of those who would blame anyone but employers and to support action to clean up the industry, starting with an urgent independent enquiry into the root causes of the violence.
The International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation is a global union federation bringing together 220 affiliated organisations in 110 countries with a combined membership of 10 million workers.
The Council of Conservative Citizens upcoming meeting at a Holiday Inn in Indiana deserves some attention, don't you think.
The Council of Conservative Citizens was founded in the mid-1990s as an outgrowth of the Citizens Councils of America. The Citizens Councils emerged in the mid-1950s as part of a white segregationist response to federally mandated integration of public facilities, especially following the 1954 Supreme Court ruling against separate-but-equal schools. This backlash movement, primarily based in the South, brought together whites of all classes and backgrounds.
Like the Citizens Council, the CCC constantly rails against communists and nonwhites. The anti-Semitism associated with the predecessor councils remains an underlying current in the CCC as well.
The group often invites speakers with extremist views to address its constituents. Various white supremacists and Christian Identity (a doctrine that maintains that Anglo-Saxons are the Biblical "chosen people," that nonwhites are "mud people" on the level of animals, and that Jews are the "children of Satan") preachers have been asked to speak at local and national events.
The Council of Conservative Citizens says it opposes interracial marriage, massive immigration of non-European and non-Western peoples, hate crime legislation, and multicultural and "Afrocentric" curricula in schools. While in Montgomery, Alabama in 2005 for a conference (which was addressed by George Wallace Jr.), members attended activities at the Capitol marking the birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
The Council to no one's surprise has been active in the anti-immigrant hysteria of late.
In Greenville, South Carolina, the Council of Conservative Citizens held an anti-immigration demonstration on April 29 in front of the offices of Republican Congressman Lindsey Graham, where they burned Mexican flags and displayed signs such as "More INS, Less IRS," "Vote for Pedro to Go Home," and "I Didn't Fight in Iraq for Illegal Aliens."
The following is from the One Peoples Project.
COUNCIL OF CONSERVATIVE CITIZENS TO MEET IN INDIANA HOLIDAY INN JUNE 16, 17
CLARKSVILLE, IN--The Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a white supremacist organization that has strong ties to the mainstream via members that are elected officials, will be holding their annual conference next month in a Holiday Inn near Louisville, Kentucky. This will be the second time this year that a major hotel chain was the location of a white supremacist conference, and this event is listing as speakers a former actor who has worked with Eddie Murphy and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a Canadian fascist who was most recently seen at National Vanguard's Conference in Elmwood Park, NJ on Mother's Day Weekend.
June 16 and 17 is when the CCC is to hold their 2006 National Conference at the Clarksville, Indiana Holiday Inn. This is considered a suburb of Louisville, Kentucky, which in recent years has seen a rag tag group of Klan members attempting to organize that reports say may put together a rally in the near future with the National Socialist Movement. The CCC event had been announced months ago, but it was only recently that the location was published on one of their websites.
The Conference boasts a slate of speakers that are considered conference regulars. CCC member and author Brent Nelson. Col. Robert Slimp, and lawyer Sam Dickson, who once represented Daniel "KKK Guy" Carver from the Howard Stern Wack Pack, will be among those regulars speaking. In addition Minuteman and CCC member Joe McCutchen will also be on hand to speak at the conference.
Co-hosting the event will be actor Sonny Landham, who has appeared in 48 Hrs., Predator, The Warriors and a string of porn films in the seventies. He is a new member of the CCC and has been very active particularly around the issue of immigration.
There are other even more questionable figures scheduled to speak, including Paul Fromm of the Canadian Heritage Alliance, last seen at the Elmwood Park, NJ conference held by National Vanguard. Meanwhile, according to a post on Stormfront its webmaster Don Black may also be there to speak.
Many of the same people who are expected to speak or attend the CCC conference were also at the American Renaissance conference in Herndon, VA back in February. American Renaissance is a white supremacist publication edited by CCC member Jared Taylor, and its conference was held at the Dulles Hyatt. The hotel chain received numerous phone calls of outrage and the hotel itself was met with protests during the conference.
To date there has been no calls to counter this event.
Information about the hotel
505 MARRIOTT DRIVE
CLARKSVILLE, IN 47129
Hotel Reservations: 1 888 HOLIDAY (888 465 4329)
Hotel Front Desk: 1-812-2834411
Hotel Fax: 1-812-2831619
As a true baseball fan I have watched the "hate Barry" crowd for years with disgust. Most of you probably do not listen to sports radio as much as I do, but the absolute vitriol one hears spouted toward Barry Bonds can only, and I mean only, be explained by racism pure and simple. Bond's alleged steroid use is a convenient excuse, but as the comments below point out he was far from alone. However, the bulk of the venom is spewed at one man and that man is Barry Bonds. And coincidence of coincidence Barry Bonds simply does not fit the stereotype baseball fantasy star of white sports fans... and he never did.
And I am old enough to remember what happened when Henry Aaron was chasing and surpassing Babe Ruth's record. I remember the racism and the death threats. The commentary below does not exaggerate.
The following is from the Black Commentator.
HATING BARRY BONDS
Hating Barry Bonds has become a national passion Â or so the very sportswriters who have whipped up this hate tell us. What they don't tell us is that this passion is prevalent almost exclusively among a few white men.
Not that others, including myself, don't think that Barry probably used steroids. Though not proven, the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. However, most people have better things to do with our lives than hate Barry. And one's mind must be seriously clouded to overlook a number of important factors:
First, the steroid scandal is principally (though not only) the fault of Major League Baseball, not of any player. Baseball did not ban the use of steroids until 2004. The owners and the commissioner knew about their widespread use and refused to discourage let alone ban steroid use.
They made huge money from the steroid-powered home run binge and put their profits before the good of the game and the health of the players. To blame the players alone, let alone one single player, for the steroid scandal is blatantly ridiculous.
Why isn't the hate aimed at the commissioner or the owners? Is anyone calling for the resignation of the commissioner or for the owners to be banned from baseball, or at least to be penalized in some way?
Second, although the most high profile steroid users (or suspected users) are power hitters, pitchers also used steroids. In fact, although position players far outnumber pitchers, so far more pitchers than hitters have been actually caught and punished for steroid use. Pitchers on steroids were throwing to hitters on steroids. Who benefited the most from their use, the hitters or the pitchers? Surely not just Barry Bonds.
I assume steroid use also affected fielding. So if there are any asterisks applied to records because of steroids, they should be applied to every baseball endeavor over the last decade: all aspects of pitching, hitting and fielding.
So why do a few white men hate Barry Bonds with a passion?
Ask Henry Aaron, the reigning all time home run king. He received constant death threats and racial hatred when he neared Babe Ruth's hallowed home run record. The racism was so bad that the FBI was deployed to open his mail, Aaron was assigned a personal bodyguard, and his teammates stood constantly at the ready to defend their friend.
Bigots made his life (and his family's life) a living hell. To this day he refuses to discuss his home run chase because it brings back so much pain.
Even in today's racially "enlightened age," many cannot get over their fixation on the Great White Hope. Even dead ones like Babe Ruth whose records have already been surpassed.
And some sportswriters and fans don't seem to be able let racial stereotypes die, especially when they overlap with sensationalism. They constantly find some black athletes to excoriate as beasts, e.g. Allen Iverson, Rasheed Wallace, Terrell Owens, Shani Davis and Barry Bonds. And they forever tell us that white superstars like Larry Bird, Steve Nash and others succeeded due to their superior "work ethic" despite "limited talent."
Many Bonds haters justify their stance by saying they are only out to defend baseball's supposedly sacred statistics and records. If that is their real concern, let me suggest the most important thing they could do would be to expunge all the records and statistics set in the decade's long white's only era. (Or they might include Josh Gibson's Negro League record of 84 home runs in one season and 962 lifetime.)
Who deserves the asterisk more Â Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds?
Bob Wing is an Oakland Bay Area-based writer and activist.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Tribal claims across the nation face an uncertain future after the U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to hear a critical case.
A federal judge had ordered the state to pay $248 million for taking the land without the approval of the United States. But the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, in a split decision that now stands, barred the tribes from seeking money damages for the stolen land. That court said such claims were to "disruptive" to non-Indians.
Apparently, the nation's highest court agrees.
Tribes elsewhere in the nation face similar fates. Land, water, hunting and other types of claims could be dismissed if unfavorable precedents set by the 2nd Circuit are adopted by more courts.
Without comment, the Supreme Court declined a petition filed by the Cayuga Nation of New York and the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma. The tribes sought to revive their claim to 64,000 acres in New York.
Thus, the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) which includes the Seneca, Cayuga,Onondaga,Oneida,Mohawk, and Tuscarora were handed what some of its chiefs called a "grave injustice" by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The suit by the Cayugas said New York violated the U.S. Constitution and other federal and state laws when it obtained about 4,000 square miles from them in a series of treaties between 1788 and 1822. It had asked the court to declare the Onondagas have legal title to the territory, which includes the cities of Syracuse, Oswego, Fulton, Watertown, Cortland and Binghamton. The Supremes refused to listen.
''The Supreme Court, in refusing to accept the Cayuga appeal, has established itself as the most anti-Indian court in the history of the United States,'' said St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Chief James W. Ransom.
St. Regis Tribal Chief Lorraine M. White added, ''It continues to amaze me at how biased courts have become toward Natives. The latest decision by the Supreme Court sounds an alarm to all tribes that it's open hunting season on them in the judicial system and that Indian issues have no chance in being fairly resolved if they are taken into the courts.'' A statement from the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs said, ''Ignoring these historic wrongs and injustices is just another chapter in this shameful history of the genocide against Native peoples in this country.''
In a statement, Clint Halftown, the federally recognized chief of the deeply divided Cayuga Nation, said, ''Our history has taught us to expect little and today's decision confirms what we always suspected - that we can't and should never have trusted this process.''
Some of the other tribes argued that the decision which specified primarily the Cayuga might not directly affect them.
That hope seemed unlikely.
Nell Jessup Newton, a University of Connecticut law school dean and editor of Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law, said the Supreme Court's refusal to hear an appeal on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissal of the Cayuga land claim "could have a fairly devastating impact" on similar suits by other Native American nations from New York.
Richard Guest, attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, who wrote one Supreme Court brief in the Cayuga appeal, said there was ''a glimmer of hope'' that the Supreme Court might limit the damage if one of these suits came before it.
He said the court might not necessarily have agreed with the 2nd Circuit ruling and might have wanted to wait for the issues to be developed further before making a ruling. (Technically, the court takes up a case by issuing a writ of certiorari, and it grants ''cert'' in roughly one of a hundred appeals. The denial in the Cayuga case - actually two paired cases - appeared without comment in a list of more than 240 rejected appeals.)
Guest said the issues could continue coming up to the court in different variations. But he wasn't overly optimistic that the outcome would change. ''If that's the result they want to achieve,'' he said, ''they'll find something else to hang their hat on.''
He warned that the dismissal of the Cayuga case could be used across the country to defeat Indian claims on a range of historic issues.
A state assemblyman has already called on Gov. George Pataki to ask the courts to dismiss all the Indian land claims now.
"I urge you to seek immediate dismissal of any and all Indian land claims brought against New York state in light of the landmark decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court," Assemblyman David Townsend, R-Kirkland, wrote Monday. Townsend's district includes the Oneida Indian Nation's Turning Stone Resort and Casino.
What follows is an editorial comment from Indian Country Today.
America's short memory for Indian justice
by: Editors Report / Indian Country Today
On May 15, America - via its Supreme Court - told the Indian people of New York state, principally the Haudenosaunee, that they don't count. The high court shrugged off a petition to review the apparent destruction of the Cayuga land claim settlement by a New York court decision. That Cayuga decision came on the heels of the now infamous City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York case of 2005, when the Oneida attempt to buy and restore ancestral reservation land back into tribal jurisdiction was dashed against a wall of manipulated intolerance that reached the ears and eyes of the Supreme Court and allowed it to deny a true day of reckoning for the Indian peoples. The Supreme Court had previously ruled the lands in question were, in fact, stolen.
The land cases themselves are foolproof. New York, like all states always intent on diminishing Indian holdings, coerced the lands from the Indian nations against federal law that prohibited such transactions. These Indian lands were guaranteed, after major concessions and treaty agreements, and in the case of the Oneida Nation, after loyal and valiant service to the new Americans in their revolution against England.
What happened? Why did a Supreme Court that only a generation ago fully affirmed the just cause claims of the New York nations now gut the right to remedy on such claims? Why did the high court thwart the final possibility of justice from the most dispossessed people in the country?
The Ancient Indian Land claims, as they were called for a long time, have been the stuff of legend for generations of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois or Six Nations). The tribes and, often, particular clans or families have invested heavily in historical and legal research and action, driven by the strong cultural pressure among the people to not lose track of ancestral lands. This is about deep tribal memory, a sense of betrayal and injustice transmitted over the generations.
In Sherrill, the high court quashed the enforcement of the claims on the basis of the ''laches doctrine,'' which can assume the aggrieved party as ''negligent'' if too much time has elapsed from the date of the injustice before the case is brought to court.
In this risky case that will be analyzed for a generation, the court decided that the Indian nations had waited too long. This response to the Indian claim was a classic ''Catch-22'' loop, as the nations involved had been denied standing in American courts for virtually the entire time in question. American Indians were not considered capable in court to sue white people, much less the government. They were kept out of the courts over many decades; and then, after finally gaining standing for their tribe in the legal system, the high court tells them they took too long to bring their case to court. The laches doctrine in fact may be ''excused'' for a number of reasons, including ''ignorance of the party's rights or where the party labors under a legal disability, such as insanity, infancy and the like.'' (Black's Law Dictionary).
But the court did not do so in the case of the Haudenosaunee land claims because laches was just the cited reason, a doctrine to be applied or not applied at the political will of the court.
This reality is not lost on Indian observers; it becomes another and rather deep notch in the recording stick of such injustices of the tribal memory. Once again, American justice toward Indian peoples was reversed in a predictable cycle of confusing and untrustworthy reversals of social policy that never seem to end.
But we submit that the real reason for the court's brazen rejection of justice, cited by the court, is that the remedy sought was seen as ''too disruptive'' to the non-Natives now on the formerly treaty and federally guaranteed reservations. Never mind that the state had, over the decades, allowed and encouraged its own citizens to encroach and gain private and institutional land titles upon these guaranteed reservation boundaries.
Never mind, most interestingly, that nearly 80 percent of New Yorkers across the board believe Indian people got a raw deal and deserve to have their territories free of state jurisdiction. This is from a recent Zogby International survey that gives highly enlightening evidence of just how strong the sympathy and support for Indian nations is in New York, while economic analysis consistently shows just how important Indian enterprises are to their areas.
Buffalo State College media research adds indications that the more business or personal interaction the public has with tribal bases, the more sympathetic it becomes. This hugely useful information adds insult to injury, that in fact there is widespread public empathy with the tribal positions, yet the shrillness of the opposition and the willingness of the press clearly guided the Supreme Court as it dropped a doctrine-seeking bomb on a 30-year-old justice-seeking legal process.
The positions taken by the Supreme Court appear largely manipulated by the coalescing of special business interests and alarmed flag- waving supranationalists who make a lot of noise in the media. No doubt that the Indian leadership has made its share of serious mistakes in the land claims process, but the anti-Indian argument that allowing the tribal jurisdiction to grow and expand (with agreed upon limits) is widely unpopular among New Yorkers is not true. Nor is it true that expanded tribal jurisdictions would be particularly disruptive - as opposed to stimulating and economically rewarding - for those tribal localities and regions.
What is true is that a small, agitated constituency of convenience store operators, backed by some other powerful interests, carried their loud arguments to convince the regional media and the Supreme Court of the opposite.
How could this happen? Or perhaps, a better question: Why would it not, at this time in history? Why would it not, if the significant Indian leadership appears dysfunctional in its inability to take unified approaches to the state and federal governments? Why would it not, if the Indian leadership remains mired in purely legalistic strategies of sovereignty protection, when government-to-government relations require other approaches that include drawing attention to the support of broad public opinion, where there are actual possibilities for the truth to emerge? But most importantly, why would it not, when the Supreme Court continues to advance this nation's lingering foundational sin - the doctrine of discovery?
Get used to it. The Supreme Court is a ghost to the cause of justice over Indian lands for at least a generation. Without the American public or the citizens of states and regions on our side, American Indians and Natives, tribal sovereignties and jurisdictions, are imperiled in America.
If any group of people deserve to be punched out, it's the bigots from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka who have made a living out of "protesting" at the funerals of gays and now veterans.
Five people face criminal charges after a weekend confrontation with members of the Kansas group that pickets military funerals and believes U-S casualties in Iraq are God's retribution for America's embrace of homosexuality. The Kansas group was met by a crowd of about one-thousand angry counter-demonstrators shouting as well as various taunts and obscenities. Some counter-demonstrators hurled eggs, stones and water bottles.
The Kansas group, carrying signs reading "God Hates Fags," "Fags Doom Nations" and "Vengeance is Mine, Sayeth the Lord," was met by a crowd of about 1,000 angry counter-demonstrators.
The following is from the Cape Gazette (Delaware).
Marine's funeral sparks confrontation in Seaford
By Jim Westhoff
A protest in Seaford ended in a near riot as local residents faced off against people demonstrating during the funeral of a fallen soldier.
Marine Cpl. Cory Palmer, a 2002 graduate of Seaford High School, was a standout soccer player and one of the leaders of his graduating class.
He was struck May 1 by a roadside bomb near Fallujah, Iraq, and died May 6 as he was being transported to a hospital in the United States.
Hundreds lined the streets Sunday, May 21, near the church where a funeral service was held for the popular young soldier. Lined with people holding American flags, the street was silent except for the state police helicopter flying over the nearby protest site.
About 10 members of the Westboro Baptist Church based in Topeka, Kan., had a permit to protest about four blocks away, in Seaford’s Gateway Park from 2:15 to 3 p.m.
According to the church website, the protestors believe that soldiers are dying in Iraq because God is punishing America for tolerating homosexuality.
They were greeted by more than 1,000 local residents who said the protestors were dishonoring Palmer. The protestors were circled by angry local residents who screamed, gestured and raced the engines of cars and motorcycles.
Keeping the two groups separated were about 30 officers from Seaford Police Department and Delaware State Police. Five people were arrested following the protest on charges ranging from assault to criminal mischief.
Protestors from Kansas
The protestors stood in a roped off area in Gateway Park, holding signs with messages like “Thank God for IEDs,” referring to the improvised explosive devices, or homemade bombs, used by Iraqi insurgents, one of which killed Palmer.
Protest organizer Sidney Phelps-Roper, reached the day after the protest, said one of her group was punched during the demonstration and another was injured when someone smashed the window of the van that was taking them away from the protest site.
“Our people are gleeful,” Phelps-Roper said. “I can’t tell you how overjoyed they are that God found them worthy to shed blood for him.”
She said that in the 15 years her church has been holding protests, the Seaford event was in the top 5 percent of the most violent. “That was an evil, angry mob,” she said. “They showed that Seaford is an evil place.”
Timothy Phelps stood in the park, holding his protest signs. “This is conclusive proof why this town has a disproportionately high number of dead in Iraq,” he said. “Look at the violence and the hatred in their eyes.”
Locals break the line
For most of the 45 minutes allotted for the protest, the demonstration was relatively uneventful. People stood across the street from each other and hurled insults.
But as the deadline approached, some locals began to press against the police barriers, attempting to get at the protestors. “I thought we were going to make it,” said Capt. Gary Flood of the Seaford Police Department. “About three or four minutes to three, that’s when they broke the line.”
To the cheers of the crowd, a handful of people ran across the street toward the protestors, and one person is charged with striking a protestor. Police quickly arrested those who assaulted the protestors and pushed the crowd back behind the barriers.
“My hat is off to the public,” Flood said. “I think they showed a lot of restraint. When we pushed them back, everybody complied.”
Flood said it was the first time he has seen anything like that in Seaford. “We’ve had some big crowds before but we never had them break through the barriers before,” he said. A few minutes after the line was restored, police rushed the protestors to a van borrowed from Seaford Volunteer Fire Department.
When the residents realized the protestors were leaving, they quickly circled the van. As police threw people out of the path of the vehicle, several windows of the vehicle were smashed. With police cars in front and back, the van sped away from Gateway Park. Flood said the police department had to borrow the van from the fire department because a boy allegedly slashed the tires on the protestors’ van. Police have charged a Seaford teen with slashing the tires.
Standing shirtless, Rodney Murphy of Laurel shouted insults, curses and challenges at the church group. “These people have no respect,” he said. “They have no concept of the word. Why are they even in America? Can you tell me that?”
Chuck Windersheim of Seaford sat in his wheelchair, shocked at the fervor of people on both sides. “I’m here to support the family,” said the former Merchant Marine who served in the first Gulf War. “I don’t understand those people - God loves us. He doesn’t hate.”
Seated away from the confrontation, near the steps of City Hall, was Lisa Bergstrazer of Seaford. “My daughter went to school with Cory,” she said. She looked at the protestors from Kansas and shook her head. “These people are crazy.”
Anti-gay protests have no place in a town mourning the loss of a soldier, said Steve Elkins, executive director of CAMP Rehoboth, which supports gay rights. “I can’t imagine anyone who would be so insulting as to protest a person who gave his or her life in service to the country,” he said.
Four blocks away from the shouting, at the church service for Palmer, flags lined the road, and hundreds of mourners stood outside, silently paying tribute.
“We’re in the honor business,” said Paul Fisher of the Patriot Guard Riders, one of hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts who attended the memorial service. “We are here at the invitation of the family,” he said. “We want to show respect and honor for all of our fallen soldiers.”
David and Brenda Carmean rode to Seaford from Princess Anne, Md. “We came out of respect of the family,” he said.
Tom Purchase of Salisbury is an Army veteran who served in Kuwait. “I came because I heard that those people were going to protest. I want to show some respect for the family,” he said.
Seaford police arrested four adults and one juvenile for actions related to the protest.
• David Jones, 29, Bridgeville, was charged with disorderly conduct and two counts of third-degree assault. He was released on a $1,500 unsecured bond.
• Christopher Daudt, 19; Stephen Carson, 19; and Allen Dunn 56; all of Seaford, were charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. They were each released on $1,000 unsecured bond.
• A 16-year-old from Seaford was charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct in connection with slashing the tires of a van owned by the protestors. He was committed to Stevenson House in lieu of a $1,000 bond.
Elderly members of the Union of Ex-Mineworkers' of South Africa have been city in at city hall in Cape Town demanding compensation and pensions due to them from their time working in the country's mines, for some, as many as 20 years ago.
Yesterday the police moved in and threw them out into icy cold. The crowd was forced out of City Hall on Monday afternoon by heavily armed metro police officers, who also used pepper spray on them.
The police described it as a "happy outcome."
The following report is from The Star (South Africa).
'A HAPPY OUTCOME'
By Barry Bateman, Fana Peete
Shoulder to shoulder, frail and weak, they tried to resist the might of 90 police. But they were overpowered by batons and pepper spray.
Last night, in a dramatic stand-off in the Pretoria City Hall, about 900 pensioners were evicted into the freezing cold.
Police described the eviction as a "happy outcome" because there was "no serious confrontation".
But the action has also drawn widespread condemnation.
The pensioners, comprising people from around the country, had spent nearly two weeks camped on the grounds of the Union Buildings, demanding compensation and benefits they said the government owed them.
With the weather becoming bitterly cold towards the end of last week, the council moved the group into a section of the city hall.
Yesterday, however, their time was up. About 50 Ekurhuleni metro police officers, including their "K9" and public order policing units, were sent to help about 40 Tshwane metro police evict the people at about 5pm.
Armed with batons and shotguns, the officers entered the building and flanked the group before pushing them towards the exit.
In the foyer, women wailed and shouted in isiXhosa. Some were so overcome that they collapsed in a heap on the floor.
Some elderly men resisted but were forced to leave.
When the last of the people were forced out the door, some tried to get back in. An Ekurhuleni metro officer sprayed them with pepper.
Zimasa Sinama (65) was sprayed in the face and went into what seemed like a fit on the floor. He was taken to Pretoria Academic Hospital.
After being forced outside into the cold for a few hours until about 9pm, the others were moved to a council shelter.
Tshwane metro police spokesperson Superintendent Alta Fourie said their legal department, at the request of the Tshwane metro, had ordered the eviction.
"The order was served on Friday and they had until midday on Sunday to vacate the building. We gave them more time and extended the deadline until 3pm on Monday."
Fourie said that from the beginning they told the pensioners they could not stay and that their action was illegal.
"Food was provided and they were moved to the city hall, but we explained they could not stay there for ever. Unfortunately it came to a point where they had to leave."
It was not the responsibility of the metro police to arrange alternative accommodation, she added.
Pepper spray was used because some people pushed back when officers tried to force them out, nearly pushing them to the ground.
"We are happy with the outcome of the eviction because there was no serious confrontation."
The pensioners, all former mineworkers, spent a rough night as shelters in the inner city scrambled to accommodate them.
The Tshwane Metro Police last night ferried the people to Number Two Struben Street Shelter after the eviction, only to find it was already full.
Space was made and some of the group who were accommodated in the kitchen and TV room while others were taken the Schubart Park Shelter.
Weary after an emotional day, the group was finally settled after midnight.
Steam rose from the group of elderly men huddled together as they sipped warm coffee outside the Struben Street shelter this morning - they were the handful who could afford something warm to drink.
Later Pretoria residents took care of the pensioners.
"The group has been separated into two smaller groups of about 300 and 500 each and they are staying in open halls in blocks of flats in the Pretoria CBD," said Willie Fuledi, spokesman for the Ex-Mineworkers Union of SA.
Fuledi said the union was now seeking to launch a court action against the police for removing its members from the Union Buildings and the City Hall.
The union has also claimed as many as four of its members died during the protests, but this could not be confirmed.
Monday, May 22, 2006
This could be the first Oread Daily public service announcement...or not.
The following is from the Sierra Club.
MORE THAN 100,000 PEOPLE WHO LOST THEIR
HOMES IN KATRINA ARE NOW HOUSED IN
FEMA TRAILERS IN MISSISSIPPI AND LOUISIANA. THIS
EMERGENCY HOUSING IS PROVIDED AT GREAT COST TO
TAXPAYERS--AN AVERAGE OF $65,000 FOR 18 MONTHS.
BUT IS IT HEALTHY AND SAFE?
There is evidence of high formaldehyde levels in FEMA trailers.
Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong smelling gas that is likely to be
present as a result of pressed wood products such as particleboard
made using adhesives that contain urea-formaldehyde resins. The
formaldehyde “outgasses” into the air as the building materials cure.
Sierra Club has begun testing the indoor air in the trailers to see
whether formaldehyde levels exceed safety limits. Of 31 FEMA trailers
tested thus far by Sierra Club, only two tests were at or below the
.1 ppm maximum safety limit recommended by EPA and the
American Lung Association. Several trailers were more than three
times over the limit.
Residents of FEMA trailers tested by Sierra Club reported problems
such as burning eyes, irritated throat, sinus congestion, respiratory
problems, persistent coughing, rashes and nose bleeds. These are
known symptoms of formaldehyde poisoning (See http://www.lungusa.
18). Two FEMA trailer residents, Paul and Melody Stewart of Bay St.
Louis, did testing that revealed formaldehyde levels twice what is recommended
by EPA even though they had all their windows open and
the vent fans running during the test. The Stewarts abandoned their
FEMA trailer rather than continue to have immediate health problems,
and the possibility of getting cancer in the future as a result of
their exposure (see http://www.wlox.com/Global/story.asp?s=4643952).
According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission
(http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/725.pdf ), formaldehyde has
been observed to cause cancer in laboratory animals and may cause
cancer in humans.
Sierra Club testing has shown that storm debris in areas flooded by
Hurricane Katrina had high levels of arsenic and other heavy metals
in addition to very elevated levels of bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella,
staphylococcus, yeast and mold in many areas (see www.sierraclub/
gulfcoast/testing. There has also been significant air pollution
from open burning. The last thing Katrina survivors need in addition
is to be exposed to toxic indoor air from their FEMA trailers.
The Sierra Club testing should be followed up with more comprehensive
testing done by FEMA. Immediate action should be taken
to address the problem. There are ways to prevent formaldehyde
outgassing in manufactured housing, and the government should
require any contractors that sell trailers to FEMA provide homes
that are safe and healthy for the occupants.
The Sierra Club recommends that anyone living in a FEMA with
symptoms of formaldehyde poisoning consider the recommendations
below to reduce exposure. Residents should report the problem
to FEMA maintenance (see number below). Residents may also
purchase their own test kits.
What Should Be Done to an Area with Elevated
Levels of Formaldehyde:
Residents of FEMA trailers with concerns about indoor air
quality problems should call FEMA service maintenance at
Air out the trailers by providing as much ventilation as possible,
especially when the trailer is new. Some FEMA trailer residents are
trying to cover up the formaldehyde smells with air fresheners. This
will not reduce your exposure. A better alternative is to use fans to
ventilate as much as possible while asking FEMA to fix the problem.
If you are experiencing problems, limit the amount of time you
spend in the trailer. If possible, spend part of the day outdoors, at
public facilities such as library or recreation centers, or at the homes
of friends and relatives.
According to the American Lung Association, some studies suggest
that coating pressed wood products with polyurethane may reduce
formaldehyde emissions for some period of time. “To be effective,
any such coating must cover all surfaces and edges and remain
intact,” the American Lung Association suggests. “Increase the
ventilation and carefully follow the manufacturer instructions while
applying these coatings. Maintain moderate temperature and
humidity levels and provide adequate ventilation. The rate at which
formaldehyde is released is accelerated by heat and may also depend
somewhat on the humidity level. Therefore, the use of dehumidifiers
and air conditioning to control humidity and to maintain a moderate
temperature can help reduce formaldehyde emissions.”
What does the cost of the kit include and where
can we get them?
FORMALDEHYDE TESTING KITS MAY BE ORDERED FROM:
Advanced Chemical Sensors, Inc.
3201 N. Dixie Highway
Boca Raton, FL 33431-6056
Phone: (561) 338-3116
Fax: (561) 338-5737
Once you collect the sample, you send it back to Advanced Chemical
Sensors in the container provided. Analysis is included in the cost of
the kit. You will receive results in 48 – 72 hours. Results will be
either faxed or mailed to you depending upon your preference.
Scores of marchers were arrested yesterday as the demonstrated near the Chilean Parliament building yesterday. Two thousand students, workers and others took to the streets demanding democratic change and social reforms. Police used water cannons on the marchers who were building barricades in the streets.
The following article is from Prensa Latina (word for word).
Chilean Communists Denounce Police Quashing
Santiago de Chile, May 22 (Prensa Latina) The Communist Party (CP) in Chile urged the government to stop the police crackdown trying against popular rallies for social change.
CP leader Guillermo Teillier, who went through the brutal police repression in Valparaiso on Sunday, affirmed this is the worst method the Executive can use to meet social complaints.
The march called by the CP, Unitary Workers Central and other grassroots bodies to demand democratic changes, labor reforms, improvements in education and health, among others, was violently interrupted.
With water cannons and tear gas canisters, the police charged at the protestors when they were reaching the barriers authorities had imposed near the Congressional headquarters, where President Michelle Bachelet was delivering a speech to the nation.
Communist leaders rejected the official version that blamed the participants in the peaceful demonstration, authorized by the Government, of provoking the intervention and accused the police of unnecessary use of force.
These comments on the election in New Orleans were written by Lance Hill. There are a few typos, but you'll figure it out.
How White People Elected Ray Nagin
Commentary by Lance Hill
May 21, 2005
I was surprised too. But there were hints along the way. Back in September it was hard to find an African American who had anything good to say about New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. In early September, New Orleans Rap artist “Juvenile” penned the song “Get Ya Hustle On” which was released as an album and video in February of 2006. The song castigated Nagin as someone that black people couldn’t trust and his video featured three figures wandering the devastated Ninth Ward wearing paper masks of George Busch, Dick Cheney, and Ray Nagin. Three peas in a pod as far as Juvenile was concerned.
Juvenile was someone to listen to if you wanted a gauge black opinion—at least poor dispossessed blacks. In 2002 Tulane professor Joel Devine published a study of public opinion of Central City neighborhood of New Orleans, an overwhelmingly black and poor neighborhood bordering the most affluent sections of Uptown New Orleans. Devine’s poll asked residents in nine of the eleven census tracts who they regarded as the most important leaders in their community for “getting things done.” Respondents were offered choices including the current Mayor, Marc Morial, and other black elected officials as well as home-grown Rap entertainers, including Juvenile.
Remarkably, Juvenile trounced the opposition. While only 11% of the respondents considered Morial “very important, nearly three times as many (32%) ranked Juvenile as the most effective leader. Indeed, Juvenile emerged as the most popular leader in the community, followed by rappers Master P and Jubilee. Based on his popularity, it would be reasonable to conclude that Juvenile was only giving voice to the attitudes among his supporters and fans who hesitated to express them publicly.
Things began to change in the following months. On April 1, 2006, I attended the rally and March across the Mississippi River Bridge protesting the racist the Gretna police blockade of black refugees during the Katrina flooding. As a historian of civil rights movement, I can say that the 5,000 people who crossed the bridge were taking part in the largest protest in New Orleans history. That fact slipped past the local media but it was still a harbinger of the growing anger and frustration that African Americans were feeling. Something else was obvious at the rally and march. For the first time I noticed public support for Nagin. His signs and t-shirts were everywhere and the speakers on the Dias, Al Shapton included, appeared to be coalescing around Nagin as black New Orleans last hope.
Nagin’s powerful showing in the April Mayoral primary signaled a sea change in black opinion (long before the publication of Douglas Brinkley’s highly critical book on Nagin). Whatever misgivings they had about the Mayor in September, African Americans found him more acceptable then the other candidates. So what happened in the intervening months following the controversial evacuation and rescue efforts? I think it’s clear from the people I have been talking to, both in the city and those still displaced, that by the primary a consensus had developed in the black community that white people were deliberately attempting to take the reins of city government remake New Orleans into a whiter and more affluent community. This fear was disparaged in the local media as the “so called conspiracy theory,” but one event after another occurred that left little doubt that, far from a conspiracy, there was an open and organized movement to prevent poor people and their neighborhoods from returning. The public school system had been virtually closed; thousands of poor blacks were evicted from their homes; utility companies dragged their feet on reconnecting black neighborhoods (Ninth Ward residents were only allowed back into their neighborhoods this month; white “good government” groups fought to deny building permits in the flooded areas which they hoped to bulldoze into oblivion; traditional black occupations such as roofers and painters were given to itinerant Latino labors; and white neighborhoods effectively prevented FEMA from bringing in 30,000 trailers for displaced people, mostly blacks.
It then it got worse. The uptown white elite pushed to abolish the school board and assessors offices, both majority black, and then demanded that the Mayoral election be held while 80% of the black community remained displaced. This campaign to change the political balance was best represented in the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s endorsement of a white mayoral candidate who had only 3% black support in a city that was 70% black and then endorsed a majority white city council ticket. No wonder that African Americans began to fear that there was no place for them in the city envisioned by the uptown elite and their confederates comprised of developers, urban planners, and ageing and increasingly conservative yuppies.
Only one person with the requisite power took a stand against these exclusion policies: Ray Nagin. The Mayor ignored the recommendations of his own Bring New Orleans Back Commission and allowed building permits in the flooded areas. He rejected the plans to turn the Ninth Ward into a park and promised to bring back all neighborhoods. While many white uptowners openly told the national media that they hoped for a whiter city, Nagin, in his infamous Martin Luther King Day speech, attempted in a clumsy way to assure blacks that they would return in the same numbers as before—that the city was going to remain a Chocolate city.
As it became obvious that Nagin was not going to do the bidding of affluent and powerful whites, they soon abandoned him in search of a real white hope. As the pulled their money and political support for Nagin, the white elite ended up pushing the Mayor into the arms of the only section of the electorate left: the African American voters. Mitch Landrieu had solid liberal credentials, but asking blacks to place their fates in the hands of any white man in Louisiana was asking for blind faith. In Nagin they had a candidate they believed was beholden to them and them alone. Whether or not their faith is misplaced we will have to see. But the white elite ended up with the opposite of what they dreamed for: a black mayor and a majority black city council. We can only hope they will be more charitable and forgiving then their erstwhile insurrectionists
The pundits will write this election off as old-fashioned racial block voting. They’ll say Nagin won because black people always vote for black people. They are dead wrong. New Orleans’ blacks have demonstrated repeatedly that they are willing to elect white officials. For years, black voters re-elected a white District Attorney and Civil Sheriff in contests that included black candidates. No, people were not voting skin color; they were voting fear. It was the deliberate efforts of the white elite and their supporters to take control of city government and prevent poor African Americans from returning that created the racial fear and distrust that sent black voters into Nagin’s camp. It was white people, not blacks, who got Ray Nagin elected.
Not all white people were part of this power grab, but their silence in the face of injustices didn’t help inspire interracial trust. We can restore that trust and bridge the racial divide by repudiating those who led the palace coup and start anew by treating the poor and the displaced as people who did not lose their citizenship when they lost their homes and they have a right to come home to a better life. .
Lance Hill, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Southern Institute for Education and Research at Tulane University and author of The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement.” He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Permission to reprint is granted.