Thursday, April 22, 2010


Evo Morales speaking at a People's Conference on Climate Change was cheered as he called on all of us to save the world from capitalism.

Green Building Press reports, "Indigenous Peoples from across the Americas are in Cochabamba, Bolivia
today to close the historic conference on climate change and the "Rights of Mother Earth" hosted by President Evo Morales. Morales, the
only Indigenous Head of State in the world, called this conference in the wake of failed climate talks in Copenhagen. As the world prepares
for the next round of talks in Cancún, Mexico, Indigenous Peoples vowed today to push for proposals that keep fossil fuels in the ground, protect Indigenous rights, and reject predatory policies like REDD
(Reducing Emissions Through Deforestation & Degradation)."

In a 21st century twist on "Revolución o Muerte" (Revolution or Death),
the slogan that powered Latin American revolutionary movements of the
60s and 70s, the generally soft-spoken Morales opened the conference by
shouting "Planeta o Muerte!" (Planet or Death).

The following is from IPS. 

Save the Planet from Capitalism, Morales Says
By Franz Chávez
COCHABAMBA, Bolivia, Apr 21, 2010 (IPS) - Activists meeting at the people's conference on climate change in this Bolivian city booed a message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon but cheered at host President Evo Morales's chant of "planet or death!"

A football stadium in Tiquipaya, in the suburbs of Cochabamba, was inflamed Tuesday with temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius and the fervor of around 20,000 environmental activists and delegates from 125 nations.

But although they were invited, presidents from the region failed to show up for the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which ends Thursday.

The stadium, ablaze with the multi-coloured traditional garments of different Andean and Amazonian native communities and the flags of people from different countries around the world that contrasted with the cold formality of presidential summits, served as the stage for Morales, of Aymara descent, to call for an "inter-continental movement" in defence of Mother Earth.

The U.N. secretary-general's message, read out by the head of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, on Tuesday, the first day of the people's conference, was interrupted by catcalls and whistles from activists in protest against the exclusion of grassroots groups from policy-making on climate change.

"We came with all respect to listen to the people, you invited us here. If you don't want us to be here we can leave," Bárcena said.

"For capitalism, we are merely consumers and a source of labour, and we have the right to say capitalism is the enemy of the planet," Morales said, buoyed up by the cheers of the thousands of participants who have flocked to the dusty streets of this outlying Cochabamba district that is home to around 3,000 people.

"Justice is only possible with solidarity, equality and respect for the rights of Mother Earth and for the atmosphere, water and the new model of development," he said.

"Capitalism is the chief enemy of humanity, synonymous with inequality and destruction of the planet," he said, calling on people to organise at the grassroots level to save the planet.

He suggested starting with simple steps like the use of biodegradable kitchen utensils like clay plates instead of disposable plastic. He also lashed out at transgenic crops and junk food.

Ecuadorean indigenous leader Franklin Columba concurred with Morales, saying that reaching a balance with nature was essential to saving Pachamama or Mother Earth.

"The Council of Wise Elders says that care and love are needed to keep nature clean. That is the true awareness that human beings must achieve," he told IPS as the delegates to the conference were enjoying Afro-Bolivian and traditional Andean music.

Nicolás Charca, a Quechua Indian from the Canchis province of Peru, talked about unifying the movements, and expressed deep concern over pollution caused by the oil and mining industries.

But "not only the developed countries are to blame," Mitsu Miura, a Japanese researcher into Andean cultures, told IPS in a friendly tone. "We would be closing our eyes if we only held the industrialised countries responsible."

Linda Velarde from New Mexico in the southwestern United States, who has been an indigenous rights activist for 40 years, challenged participants to take action now and stop consuming products that pollute.

She said she does not agree with the idea of eliminating capitalism, and pointed out that not everyone in the U.S. is a consumerist and that many are in favour, for example, of reforestation policies.

Another activist from the U.S., Kety Esquivel with Latinos in Social Media, said capitalism has committed "abuses" because money, which was created for use as an exchange mechanism, ended up using people instead.

"I'm gringa, Mexican and Guatemalan," Esquivel told IPS, describing her multi-ethnic origin and her stance in favour of humanity as a whole.


Apparently having little else to do in Iowa authorities and their ham sandwich grand jury have issued yet another superseding indictment of Scott DeMuth. I think that makes three indictments. Meanwhile his trial has now been reset for next                       September.                                                                   

"The trial postponement will give Scott’s attorneys needed time to prepare a defense against a still-vague and uninformative indictment, and needed time for us–his supporters–to raise the tens of thousands of dollars that we need to cover legal and travel costs, and support activities."

If you can donate to his defense, make a check out to Coldsnap Legal Collective with EWOK! in the memo line, and send it to:
c/o Coldsnap
PO Box 50514
Minneapolis, MN 55405."

Meanwhile, our friend, Carrie Feldman, who served four months in jail for refusing to testify before the same grand jury got busted in the Twin Cities where she was acting as a legal observer at a local protest. She has since been released yet again.

                                         (pictured here: Iowa Grand Jury)

 The following is from Voice of the Voiceless.

New Allegations in A.L.F. Conspiracy Case by Peter Young
Grand jury implicates Scott DeMuth in 2006 mink farm raid

In a little-publicized move this week, a grand jury expanded the ndictment of Scott DeMuth to include a 2006 mink liberation in Minnesota. This third version of the original indictment adds yet another allegation to the original charge - an alleged role in the A.L.F. liberation of 401 animals from the University of Iowa psych labs in 2004.
The new superseding indictment alleges DeMuth’s unspecified role in a 2006 raid of Lakeside Ferrets, a former mink farm in Howard Lake, Minnesota.
On April 29th, 2006, anonymous activists cut holes in the fence, entered the breeder shed, and released hundreds of mink. In a communique issued soon after, the A.L.F. took credit. The communique read, in part:
Finally, to all fur farmers, furriers, and profiters of death, this
is the last warning: close down your buisnesses, or with
boltcutters, fire, and storm, we’ll do it for you. You can try to
scare us, you can try to imprison us, and you can even try to kill
us, but the day we stop will be the day that the last animal has
been freed from its cage.
The Fur Commission USA claimed after the raid that activists mistook ferrets for mink, and in fact the “mink farm” was actually a ferret farm. While there is evidence to suggest the farm is now a ferret farm, the location in Howard Lake was at one time called the Latzig Mink Ranch. The farm was the site of one of the first-ever mink releases in the U.S. in 1996, when 1,000 mink were liberated.

The first two versions of the indictment accused DeMuth only of an unspecified role in the rescue of 401 animals from the University of Iowa in 2004. The latest version adds an additional accusation of a role in the mink release.

As with the two preceding indictments, the new indictment fails to specify what exactly Scott DeMuth is charged with. The document alleges only that DeMuth caused or attempted to cause “physical disruption to the functioning of animal enterprises including but not limited to the Spence Laboratories at the University of Iowa and Lakeside Ferrets Inc. in Minnesota, and other animal enterprises elsewhere”. No more specific information is given.

This is the latest chapter in the Midwest A.L.F. investigation that continues to get more bizarre and desperate at each step. Eventually, the government will be forced to reveal specific allegations in the case, including what “other animal enterprises elsewhere” DeMuth (a non-vegetarian bow hunter) is alleged to have targeted.
- Peter Young

View legal documents in the case at the Davenport Grand Jury website.

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Vegan hip hop benefit: 12 artist vegan hip hop comp CD to raise money for animal liberation prisoners.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Forty years ago yesterday in a year of much turmoil at the University of Kansas and in Lawrence, Kansas in general, the student union burned up in a multi million dollar fire.  It sort of symbolized for some what was coming down.

Recently, I agreed to speak with a reporter for the KU student newspaper about it all.  In the past, I've always refused to talk to the press, but I was impressed with the sincerity of this young women and what she was trying to do.  Although she, of course, hadn't been born in 1970 (maybe her parents hadn't either for that matter), and though she was only now learning about what happened back then, she approached her assignment with incredible inthusiasm and a desire to share with students today a world they had no idea had existed.

She did a good job.  Sure I would have liked to see more politics, more radical voices, but I have realized the article wasn't written for ME, and that she hasn't spent her life immersed in radical activism.  I also realized she had no one helping her, no financial support, little time, little space, editors, and no money. 

It's important to know that she wanted to write more about the Black and women's movements but tracking down anyone directly associated to talk with and quote proved extremely difficult.  She's taken some grief for that, but I personally know she really did try.  I didn't want to give her names without permission and I didn't know where the people she should talk to were (By the way if you are such a person and would like to talk to her concerning her future projects in this regard, you should contact her via the University Daily Kansan).

She also did a multimedia presentation, some of which you can find at the University Daily Kansan site for April 20.

She has much more material and hopes to after graduation sit down, gather more, and work on a comprehensive account in book form.

She is a good young woman and she has done a better job then any straight press has done before. 

Again keep in mind she has not been a leftist, an activist, nor has she had prior knowledge about what she wrote.  Keep in mind she wrote this article so today's students would know about some of what happened before them.

Scream at me if you want, but don't hassle her.

The following stories are from and copyrighted by the University Daily Kansan.

Both stories are the work of Brenna Hawley, a student at the University of Kansas.

The Union fire, April 20, 1970.
    Above: The Union fire, April 20, 1970.  

A generation ablaze
Forty years ago today, the Kansas Union burned during one of the most tense periods in Lawrence history — a time that saw protests, fires and bombs.

David Awbrey recalls sitting inside his house on Tennessee Street on a dark Monday night when someone outside yelled that the Kansas Union was on fire. He peered up the steep hill and saw an orange glow — it had to be the Union. He ran up the hill to get closer, and saw a fire of Hollywood proportions — flames were shooting into the sky. It was spectacular, both in size and what it said about the turmoil on the KU campus that April of 1970 — exactly 40 years ago today.

Awbrey had just finished his term as student body president on a campus that had more than 17,000 students. He was one of thousands to watch the Union burn that night, as fire damaged rooms on the fifth and sixth floors and collapsed part of the roof. Awbrey and his classmates had witnessed a semester dominated by anti-Vietnam War protests, bombings, racial confrontations and fires, all while in fear of being called up for the draft.

For some, it was a relatively normal semester: they attended class, studied and graduated. But the activism that exploded on and around campus touched everyone. For more than three weeks that spring, the University and Lawrence saw one of the most chaotic periods in campus and city history.

Spring 1970 had all the ingredients of a political action flick: suspected arson of the KU Union; homemade bombs flung through shop windows and toward campus buildings; deep-seated hatred of the Vietnam War; racial conflicts at Lawrence High School that brought out tear gas and tire irons; a nightly curfew ordered by the governor that landed many in jail; a march by an angry crowd who smashed windows in the ROTC building in retaliation for deaths of Kent State students at the hands of the Ohio National Guard; and, ultimately, a controversial decision by the chancellor to end the school year and cool the conflict.

The Times They are A-Changin'

Lance Hill remembers when young people began questioning the government, racism, sexism and the lifestyles of their parents.
More related information, an opinion piece, photos, videos, recordings can be found at the above link.

"It wasn't uncommon for people to change their political viewpoints quickly," said Hill, 19 in April 1970 and today executive director of the Southern Institute at Tulane University. "We had grown up on a set of myths about the country with respect to equality and justice and who we were as a power in the world."

Bill Tuttle, then a young assistant professor of history, said a walk on campus in the '60s was like traveling back another decade. Men sported short haircuts; women wore skirts instead of jeans and obeyed nightly curfews.

"The KU campus seemed to me to be quite like my college campus in 1959," said Tuttle, now professor emeritus of American Studies. "Very quiet, not much political activity, not a lot of long hair."

But by 1970, the campus had changed. Some people stayed the same, such as Jim Barnes, who said he was there just to go to school. Others turned into what Barnes called freaks, people who had long hair and beards, wore sandals and used drugs or had an activist agenda. Women could wear jeans and no longer had curfews. Students started underground newspapers, and used advocacy journalism the way The Kansan and the Lawrence Journal-World didn't.

The Oread neighborhood was a gathering place for students who frequented two bars, the Gaslight Tavern and the Rock Chalk Café, known most recently as the Crossing. Students, dropouts and others formed what Hill called a "street community," which he joined when he dropped out after a semester.

"It was people who were college dropouts, people who had been expelled, people who came to Lawrence to be part of the counterculture and to be engaged in politics," he said. "There were a lot of runaways who found safe haven there. There were a lot of Vietnam veterans."

Roger Martin, who came to Lawrence from Columbia, Mo., was excited to see an underground newspaper, places hip people could hang out and lots of drugs.

"The scene was very vibrant and alive," Martin said. He said there was "a lot of pointlessness to the lifestyle, because people were trying to redefine what it was that they were and who they were and how they lived, and so you'd try things."

The political climate of the country was changing, too. The Vietnam War was escalating, and young Americans were dying by the thousands — more than 16,500 were killed in Vietnam in 1968, a number greater than that year's KU enrollment. Protests at the Democratic National Convention devolved into a riot and a high-profile trial of the Chicago 7, a court case that charged seven protesters for crossing state borders to incite a riot at the 1968 convention.

Events around the world caused students in Lawrence to reconsider their views. Beth Lindquist, who enrolled in 1966, originally lived in GSP Hall and then Kappa Kappa Gamma. She was a student senator and president of her residence hall.

"I did all the kind of traditional middle-class suburban girl things," she recalls.

But after seeing racism in the mostly white Greek recruitment and injustices in Vietnam, Lindquist made a new commitment to protest for change. She wasn't the only one.

"Students were dropping out and living in communes and growing their hair and professing a kind of anti-materialist view of American life," said Lindquist, now a dean of instruction at Metropolitan Community College of Kansas City
Lindquist had been among more than 150 people who disrupted the annual ROTC review in May 1969. To them, the ROTC represented the military establishment and was one step away from Vietnam and the massacre of innocent civilians. Protesters gathered at Memorial Stadium, where the ROTC cadets were set to march, then moved inside and sat down to block the soldiers. They danced, chanted, talked.

Despite the lack of violence, the protesters suffered severe consequences. Some were expelled, thus losing their deferrals and immediately becoming eligible for the draft. Lindquist knew men who picked up and left for Canada to avoid being sent to Vietnam.

"There were others who were suspended who didn't return to the University ever, or any university," she said. "There were some who transferred."

Soon the draft lottery catalyzed one of the most turbulent springs in KU history.

What's Goin' On

A 7-Up bottle filled with gasoline, a rag and a match was all it took to get a story in a newspaper in the spring of 1970. Students were frustrated with the Vietnam War, racism, local politics and the conservative crackdown on the counterculture's free love and cheap drugs. Some marched, some dropped acid and some threw Molotov cocktails at windows of businesses, into the homes of prominent local officials and behind KU buildings.
Randy Gould, 20 that semester, said peaceful protests were less likely after he read about police assaulting members of the activist group Black Panthers and racists abusing blacks.

"I don't think historically we've ever seen real change in this country or anywhere else, for that matter, that wasn't also accompanied by some type of violence," said Gould, a Kansas City resident who now updates a blog called the Oread Daily, the same name as the underground newspaper he started in mid-1970. "I also don't want to glorify the violence aspect of things. There were mistakes made that were too much."

Students and allies in the street community planned a strike for April 8 after the state Board of Regents blocked the promotions of two professors, one who had spoken negatively about the war. In a Kansan article from April 3, 1970, student activist John Naramore was quoted saying students should know about the "Regents' clamp" on the mood of the university, and that students should get "dramatically involved and should support the strike next week."

The strike strategy: Station someone at the doors of all buildings on campus to encourage skipping class for the cause. Listen to a speech by the visiting Abbie Hoffman, one of the Chicago 7. And be wary of violence, a warning disregarded by some. The night before the strike, more bombs and Molotov cocktails exploded. The next day, Hoffman spoke to a packed Allen Fieldhouse, but to a mixed reception. He described the people of Lawrence as unrevolutionary and offended many when he blew his nose into an American flag handkerchief.

As reported in The Kansan, Hoffman said, "People have really got to make up their minds that they are going to destroy the University. If they accept the student's role, they accept the role as a slave. The student is a nigger. Law is not for maintaining justice, it is for maintaining power."

Racial tensions added to the already explosive Lawrence atmosphere. Two days after the strike, John Spearman of the Black Student Union encouraged all black students to arm themselves, saying they weren't safe and were receiving threats on their lives.

Racial conflict sparked at Lawrence High School that spring when its Black Student Union demanded a black homecoming queen and black cheerleaders in addition to the current ones. When the principal didn't meet demands, students locked themselves into the school's main office. Then fighting broke out over the next few days. One day 28 people were injured. Another day police threatened to use tear gas to disperse more than 100 students, some armed with tire irons, trying to enter the school.

As the situation escalated, the students demanded that the school hire black teachers and a black counselor as well as meet their previous demands. Police used tear gas later when black students and residents broke windows at the high school.

Conservatives demanded that police and KU officials respond to protesters with tear gas, arrests and expulsions. Wayne Propst, part of the street community, called some of those conservatives rednecks, and tells of one day when a "redneck" drove next to and began antagonizing George Kimball, who was walking down the street. Kimball, then 26 and later a candidate for Douglas County Sheriff, challenged the man to get out of his truck, and when he started to do just that, Kimball slammed the man's head in the door. The man's friend tried to get out as well, but a friend of Kimball's punched him through the window. Such confrontations weren't unusual.

"There was this fairly well-organized and well-armed right-wing militia, the Minutemen type," Kimball recalled. "They were mostly talk and mostly threats, but these guys had guns and they had a lot of influence."

Activists had to be careful whom they spoke to, said John Naramore, then a 23-year-old activist. Protesters weren't always sincere and some were trying to discredit the activists' goals. Naramore, who later owned a printing business called Kansas Key Press, said people who were violent were often not trustworthy.

"Who is this guy? Where did he come from and why is he always wanting to do acts of violence?" he said. "We have a march down Massachusetts Street and you've got somebody who wants to break windows. We're not attacking the merchants on Mass. What we're trying to do is create awareness or show our dissatisfaction."

Rich Clarkson, then photo director at the Topeka Capital-Journal, remembers how the journalism school's photo instructor Bill Seymour took pictures of student protesters.

"He was meeting agents at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to give them pictures to identify students," Clarkson said. "He was actually working with the police."

Lawrence was burning, figuratively and literally. Fires were discovered almost every night. The Kappa Sigma house caught fire, the cause never determined. A rooming house on Indiana Street went up in flames. Gambles, a furniture store downtown, caught fire and flames burned 50 feet high, causing $200,000 in damage. Less than a week later, a bigger fire would shock the community and make all the others seem insignificant.

Fire and Rain

It was 10:30 on the night of April 20. Jim Barnes, 21, and friends were grabbing a beer at the Bierstube, now the Bull, on Tennessee Street. They had just finished orchestra practice when a man walked into the bar and said the Kansas Union was on fire. Barnes didn't believe him, but when he peered through a window so dirty it looked like frosted glass, he could see flames flickering outside. They ran up the hill, and sure enough, flames were already bursting through the roof of the Union.

"It was the most beautiful fire you ever saw," Barnes said.

Stan Spring recalls watching from the safety of Potter Lake as the fire burnt the fifth and sixth floors and the roof of the Union. Fire trucks arrived 15 minutes after the fire started, the flames already 30 feet high. Spring saw the firefighters unwind their hoses, but they weren't long enough to reach the top floors and lacked adequate water pressure. So the firefighters fed all the hoses up the inside staircases of the Union.

Spring and Barnes were among 2,000 students who saw the Union burn that night. Inside, valuable art was in danger, and students jumped in to help save it, including Jim Stratford, 22 at the time and now vice president of instruction at Pratt Community College.

"I remember going to it like hundreds of other students did, getting there pretty early on, evidently, and there were no barriers or anything, and going inside and seeing that the firemen were trying to drag hoses full of water," he recalled. "They were spraying water, but they were trying to drag hoses up the stairs, and I just pitched in to help them along with a lot of other people. I remember helping hand pictures down trying to get them out of the building."

Wayne Propst lived just down the street from the Union and watched it burn from his balcony.

"You couldn't help but see it. It lit up the whole street," said Propst, now a local artist.

By 2 a.m., the fire was finally under control, but not before it did an estimated $2 million in damage to a building many viewed as the social and political center of the campus. Police suspected arson. No one was ever caught, but theories still abound.

"Any time there's uncertainty, people's conspiracy theories crop up," said Monroe Dodd, then a Kansan staff member who would later become managing editor at The Kansas City Star. "And you don't have to be conspiracy crazy to think, 'Well, since we don't know, I wonder if it was the KU authorities who set the fire to make the freaks look bad? Or was it the freaks who set the fire? Or was it the Black Student Union? Or is it just some working-class guy in Lawrence who wanted to make the freaks look bad?' You can concoct all kinds of theory about it because there's no final committer of the act."

George Kimball, who was active in the street community, hung out at the Union and said he never understood why anyone would have set it on fire.

"There's no particular political motive to be achieved by this thing," said Kimball, now a prominent boxing writer who moderated a program this semester featuring boxer George Foreman in the same Kansas Union ballroom gutted by the fire. "It wasn't anything that was going to get you applauded. You weren't going to win any points with anybody for doing it. It was probably someone who was stoned or drunk or screwed up."

Beth Lindquist said the Union had been a place where activists could meet for free and that she was shocked to see the fire after running up from her house on Tennessee Street.

"I didn't know people who thought it was a good idea," she said. "Most people who were anti-war and civil rights activists thought it was a bad idea because it put a question mark on the values and the moral choices of the anti-war civil rights movements. The inference that student activists had something to do with that was very negative for us."

The fire wasn't the end of trouble in Lawrence. Ahead was a nightly citywide curfew, major protests and a decision whether to keep school open in the face of possible violence.
Run Through the Jungle

The day after the fire, Kansas Gov. Robert Docking ordered a 7 p.m. curfew on the city of Lawrence to quell the violence. Townspeople were supposed to stay off the streets and inside residences; police arrested 45 people, most for curfew violations, on the first night. Snipers shot at businesses downtown, small fires were reported all over town, and people threw trash and broken glass into the streets to slow down police cars chasing curfew violators. Activists strung wire in the Oread neighborhood alleys to slow police walking through on foot, but Lance Hill said the tactic backfired. 

Gimme' Shelter

David Ambler was in the administration building on the Kent State University campus on May 4, 1970. Ambler, who later became KU vice chancellor for student affairs, was a Kent State administrator when the Ohio National Guard moved in to suppress student protests. That morning Kent State leadership had left campus to discuss how to make the armed Guardsmen leave. When Ambler saw a crowd of several thousand gathering to protest behind the building, he quickly phoned administrators to return.

"I had no sooner made that phone call when we had a report on the walkie-talkies that there had been shots fired," he said.

Four students were killed when the National Guard opened fire on a peaceful crowd of students protesting Vietnam and the invasion of Cambodia. The deaths ignited protests around the country, including at Kansas. Chancellor Larry Chalmers canceled the annual ROTC ceremony, which the year before had been disrupted by protests. He immediately received critical letters, one telling him his "craven display of cowardice in canceling the annual ROTC review on May 5th, was a disgrace" and another demanding "Unless you expel all the students who are rioting, shooting, destroying property and resorting to violence, you should resign as chancellor of the University of Kansas immediately."

Students and the street community reacted to the deaths by marching to the ROTC building and throwing rocks through windows. Protesters later rallied in front of Allen Fieldhouse where students demanded a strike and a decision about closing the school. Half the group went up the hill to Strong Hall and camped in front of the chancellor's office. When his locked door didn't open, they sat on the stairs of Strong.

Chancellor Chalmers had to find a way to defuse the tense situation. In a May 8 speech given to most of the University inside Memorial Stadium, he announced what he called a Day of Alternatives. It gave students options. Those who wanted to leave the campus could, either by skipping finals and earning the grade they had up to that date or by taking an incomplete. Or students could stay and take their finals.

This decision was unpopular with many parents and alumni, many of whom called for Chalmers' resignation and wished that Clarke Wescoe, the previous and more conservative chancellor, were still in charge.

Ambler disagreed with the criticisms, praising Chalmers for preventing further violence. "Anyone else and this place would have blown apart a lot earlier than it did."

A Kansan article estimated that more than 83 percent of students chose not to finish classes, leaving fewer than 3,000 students on campus. Monroe Dodd opted to skip his finals.

"I chose the alternative, which was to take pass-fails," Dodd said. "It really did wonders for my GPA."

And just like that, the tumultuous spring semester of 1970 ended abruptly. Many students departed and what can be described only as a school-wide uprising ended.

"Larry Chalmers really saved the University that day," David Awbrey said. "It would have been pretty bad. There would have been another Kent State."

Edited by Liz Schubauer and Tara Smith
Summer 1970

Students left that summer, but activists and tension remained. Lawrence streets often held the sting of tear gas in the morning and the sound of gunshot at night. Activists were still unhappy with the status quo and were determined to make it known. Police and activists clashed in July when the tension snapped and police shot and killed two young people.

Black activists gathered at the Afro House, a place they could feel welcome and escape racism they found in Lawrence and in the police. On the night of July 16, police were called to the house after someone heard gunshots. A car left the house; one of the passengers was Rick "Tiger" Dowdell. Police thought the car looked suspicious, so they chased it until it drove onto a curb. Dowdell got out and ran down an alley. Police Officer William Garrett followed and the two exchanged gunfire. When Dowdell turned to run away, the officer shot him in the back of the head and killed him.

Both the black community and the street community went into an uproar, and the front page of the next Vortex, an underground newspaper, proclaimed Garrett wanted for murder. The rest of the city reacted and men started circling downtown in their trucks, said Beth Schultz, who had just joined the KU English Department.

"I had never seen, in the United States, the open display of firearms," she recalls. "I saw trucks down on Massachusetts street with three rifles lined up in the back…. It created an atmosphere of high anxiety, of high-pitched fear, because these are white vigilantes and it was because of the reaction of a group of African Americans to Rick Dowdell's death."

Only a few days later, police killed another activist. Police responded to calls of small fires and an open fire hydrant near the Rock Chalk Café on Oread Boulevard on July 20 and were pelted with rocks, bricks and tomatoes. Later a crowd gathered and overturned a Volkswagen Bug at the owner's approval. Police reacted by releasing tear gas and shooting into the mob. When the crowd split, 18-year-old white activist and student Nick Rice was shot in the back of the head and dying.

Reports vary on what happened that night. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation's report claimed it couldn't determine if police shot Rice, so no officers were ever punished. Activists remembered that night otherwise, some saying they heard police say "Shoot 'em," and then saw them throw tear gas to prevent Rice from getting medical attention. They were outraged by what they felt was a police cover-up. Those few days left Lawrence in a haze.

"It just seemed like there was this wave of campus killings, and in every case it was the authorities doing the shooting, killing students," said Tim Miller, then a graduate student and now KU professor of religious studies. "I don't know if everyone has ever really figured that out, why did they have to."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


This time the cops goofed and accidentally beat on some white guys. The good thing about that is it gets out the story of the long racist history of the cops in Prince George's County, Md where they've been doing the same to people of color forever.

The following is from (letter section or email section)   The Skanner.

This Time They Beat Up The White Guys 
Harry C.Alford, NNPA Columnist
(NNPA) - Police brutality in Prince George’s County, Md. is legendary. There have been scandals after scandals for at least the last 50 years. Much of it has spread across the border into Washington, DC. It is bad and wide scale and it is also tinged with Black and Hispanic inclusion.

Most of the abuses are targeted to these two national minorities and for good reason. The applicable prosecutors and court systems protect and shield the dirty cops who perpetrate brutality. They will defend the actions of the cops no matter how heinous their actions are.

So last week, when the actions of the Prince George’s Police Department during a recent basketball game on the campus of the University of Maryland in College Park, were splashed on television it was no surprise to my family circle. There they were smashing the heads of a few college students who were doing nothing but mildly celebrating the victory of their school.

After the beatings they filed false police reports on the victims. This is so common to us. We know their M.O. (modus operandi) too well. We call it “Dirty Cops 101”. Tragically, it is supported by the judicial system and to the detriment of innocent citizens, usually young Black men.

My sons and their close friends have matriculated through the University of Maryland and Georgetown University. They are good, productive Black males and are destined for great careers. However, there have been challenges with the local police departments where their parents have had to get involved and save their futures through expensive legal representation against heinous criminal acts by policemen. Let me give you a few actual experiences of these students and what their parents had to go through to save them from the wicked, dirty cops.

A few of the guys are walking down the streets of Georgetown (Washington, DC) one Saturday night. They are approached by DC cops (Precinct 2) and asked, “What are you boys doing in Georgetown?” One replied we happen to live here. After a few minutes the cops return and state, “Your guy is a smart a__ and now he must pay.”

They handcuffed him; picked him up and body slammed him into their squad car; picked him up again and body slammed him to the ground. They arrested him and sent him to the lock up for the weekend and not arraigned until noon Monday. He had a busted lip, scars on his face and neck, a broken watch and money missing from his wallet. What were the charges?

They formally claimed that he charged a parked car with his head and caused $400 in property damage. They actually did this! The sad thing is his parents had to hire a top law firm and pay over $25,000 to convince the DC courts to throw the case out. There was no action done about the false police report or beat down.
One Maryland student felt like having a hamburger. He sees an Athletic Department golf cart unattended. He jumps in and drives it to a fast food establishment. Gets his hamburger and heads back to campus. The cops were there waiting and arrested him. The formal charge is “Grand Theft Auto” – a serious felony. So began that family’s trauma. About $70,000 dollars in legal fees later the Prince George’s County State Attorney finally drops the case.

Another one of the guys is walking with about 20 others leaving a UM bar and walking towards the dormitories. He is holding hands with a white girl and that sent off alarms with the PG cops. They arrest both of them; throw them in a paddy wagon and lock them up at the local “tank” until Monday. The formal charges were “Disturbing the Peace”. I guess inter-racial hand holding is disturbing the peace for a racist. Here again, the parents had to hire proper legal representation in order to make this trumped up charge go away. The white girl had to go through therapy from this racist trauma and her folks spent big bucks also.

One of the guys was walking down Rhode Island Avenue in College Park and was given a “Jay Walking” ticket. About a year later he found that it was entered as a moving vehicle violation and two points were on his record. He had to jump through hoops to get it removed so that his auto insurance rate wouldn’t sky rocket.
All of the guys have at least one bad experience during their college days. Life isn’t easy for Black college males. The cops are predators looking for and stalking them. But this time they beat up white guys and the world now knows the deal. Hopefully, we can now remove all of these dirty cops.

Harry Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: Email:

Monday, April 19, 2010


Women who are victims of physical abuse face an extremely rough road in Uganda. 

The former minister of Uganda in charge of Ethics and Integrity, Miria Matembe says about 90% of the women in Uganda are still ignorant about their rights. Matembe says this is due to Ugandan culture that gives no respect to women.

The former minister says according to the latest research by the Foundation for Human Rights Initiatives in Partnership with Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation, out of every 10 women in Uganda, eight women are battered by their husbands but don't report cases of assaults to police. Matembe says cases of violence against women are generally reported only when the victims are fatally injured.

Last month, Dr. Specioza Kazibwe, the vice-president of Uganda, announced that she was divorcing her violent husband because he has physically abused her throughout their marriage. Her announcement was groundbreaking in a country where domestic violence and abuse is seldom mentioned aloud. Dr. Kazibwe said, "My hope is that others will find the courage to say no to the violence that is in so many of our homes but is rarely spoken about."

The following is from

Uganda's Battered Women in Long Wait for Justice
Sexually and physically abused women in Uganda are faced with difficulties in trying to see the perpetrators brought to justice. As a result, most abusers go unpunished. Often times, the women are let down by the notoriously slow justice system. Many live in bitterness and anguish.

Christine Lanyero was 23-years-old when she got married. For 16 years now, she has silently been battered and abused by her husband. A resident of Acholi Bur village in Aruu County, Pader District, the 39-year-old mother of four speaks in a low resigned tone as she narrates her ordeal and that of many women in her village.

"Wife battering is a routine here. Even without a reason, a man will just beat you especially when he is drunk. My husband is always beating me. Each time he asks for money and I don't give him he just starts beating me," she said.

The battering that Ms Lanyero has been subjected to over the years is not her only pain. She is also HIV positive. "My husband would go and sleep with other women and return to force me to have sex with him. If I refused, he would beat me. He did not use any protection," she said.

Intense beating

The beating, Ms Lanyero said, was particularly intense during the war because most men at the time were rendered idle, many became pre-occupied with drinking locally-brewed alcohol all-day long.

The trauma and frustration brought by the disorienting experience of living in the inhospitable conditions of an internally displaced persons' camp has also been blamed for turning many men in the war-ravaged north into unusually brutal individuals. But violence against women is not restricted in war settings, it is a national challenge.

The Uganda Demographic and Household Survey of 2006 shows that at least 60 per cent of women in the country say they have experienced physical violence in their lifetime. According to the report, the majority of gender-based violence against women is committed by an intimate partner.

It also shows that women are four times more likely than men to be targeted for both physical and sexual violence. Like many women in Uganda who face the same predicament, Ms Lanyero is hesitant to seek redress from the justice system. Once she tried to report a case of physical assault by her husband to the police, but she was told it was a "mere" domestic matter that can be resolved at home.

Ms Lanyero's frustrations and the gruelling reality of domestic violence that girls and women continue to face in this country have been supported by a new report by Amnesty International.

The report released recently has accused authorities in Uganda of not supporting women who seek justice for domestic violence. As a result, perpetrators escape prosecution and punishment for their crimes. Common domestic violence crimes against women and girls include rape, defilement and physical assault, forced and early marriages.

Titled "I Can't Afford Justice - Violence against women in Uganda continues unchecked and unpunished", the report reveals that the criminal justice system is grossly inadequate, particularly in ensuring the protection of women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence.

This, the report notes, has led to continued beatings in homes that have routinely forced women to suffer silently in violent marriages, reducing their chances of accessing justice. "The failure of the government to protect and support victims of sexual violence undermines the quest for justice. Lack of government resources and political will mean that perpetrators rarely face justice," said Widney Brown, a senior director at Amnesty International. According to the report, 65 per cent of girls and women interviewed admitted that they had never contacted the police or anyone else after a sexual assault due to the limited availability of formal services and fear of stigma.

The report reveals that often times, because police stations are under-resourced, victims of domestic violence are asked by the police to give money to arrest and transport suspects, along with money to photocopy supporting documents and airtime.

Poverty inhibits women and girls from reporting domestic violence crimes. In most parts of the country, reporting to a police station involves a long and costly journey, yet most victims of domestic violence are often economically dependent on their abuser. Many choose to suffer silently.

This was the ordeal of one of the victims, Margaret, who gave an interview to Amnesty International. "My husband and I got married in 2008. At first everything was fine, then one day we had a fight and he beat me on the head. Because the injuries were quite serious, I went to hospital and they advised me to go and see the Local Council chairman to report it. I went to the Local Council office but nothing was done even after I told them what happened to me. I then decided to go to the police station and they asked me for Shs20,000 for fuel to go and arrest my husband, which I did not have. My husband beat me again but I gave up going to the police because they always ask for money which I don't have."

The report says the police are also not fully trained in how to handle cases of gender-based violence. Such demands, the report notes, had drastically reduced public faith in the police and the criminal justice system in general. "Many women in Uganda are afraid to report rape and other forms of violence, not only because of hostility from the community, but also because they fear being treated dismissively by the police and that no action will be taken to help them," the report reveals. The report notes that instead of women being helped; they are instead blamed for having contributed to the crime for which they are accusing their abusers.

Turned away

In other instances, victims of gender-based violence are often turned away from police stations because of lack of shelters to keep them while their cases are being pursued. The report says the few legal aid institutions are also overwhelmed by cases. "Therefore many women endure violent situations because they have nowhere else to go," it says.

The police annual crime and traffic road safety report 2009 shows that countrywide, 165 incidents of domestic violence deaths were reported to police. This is an increase from 137 cases reported in 2008. The report, however, does not specify if the violence was perpetrated against women. The report also reveals that there were 619 rape cases registered in 2009 down from 1,536 cases reported in 2008.

Police chief Kale Kayihura, while releasing the report said although sex-related crimes recorded the biggest decrease of nearly 40 per cent from the previous year, more is needed to be done to curb the crime.

Gen. Kayihura said at the moment police can only react after the facts of such offences are established, it will not stop the force from offering protection to anyone who is under the threat of falling victim. "We shall continue to play our part in protecting those under threat of attack and vigorously investigate those that fall victim to such attacks," he said.

Gender rights activists agree that the police and justice system has been notoriously frustrating for victims of domestic crimes. Most victims interviewed during the study claimed that the police were reluctant to investigate domestic violence, saying it is a matter that can be addressed from home.

Easy access

Activists want women who report domestic violence crimes to have easy access to social services. "In some instances when women report cases to the local councils, it is thrown back to them. At times the length of time that the cases take just keeps women away from pursuing justice," said Mr Anselm Wandega, the national coordinator for research, information and advocacy at the African Network for Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) that has done extensive advocacy on women and child rights issues.

Ms Rita Aciro, the coordinator of the Uganda Women's Network, the organisation that brings together all women's groups in Uganda said the environment has not been favourable for women to be able to report crimes of domestic violence, especially in rural areas. "Most of the institutions are not in place like medical facilities for defilement victims and the police are not trained to handle gender issues. We need the training of police to include a gender component," she suggested.

Ms Aciro explains that at times, cultural barriers inhibit women from reporting domestic crimes to the police. "Women are caught in a kind of double tragedy. They can't report their husbands because these are the very sources of their survival. Most of them end up suffering silently," said Ms Aciro. She said most of the abusers have been able to get away with their crimes because until recently, there were no specific laws in place under which perpetrators could be punished.

Women activists are now putting their hopes on the Domestic Violence Act which President Museveni assented to last month to offer more protection to victims of domestic violence and also punish the crime perpetrators. Other laws that activists hope will save women from being battered are the Marriage and Divorce Bill, the Sexual Offences Bill and the Trafficking in Persons Bill.

They say with the new law in place, perpetrators will no longer be able to count on the culture of impunity. In the absence of a law, countless men have been getting away of with assaulting and sexually abusing women.

The Domestic Violence Act criminalises marital rape and other forms of domestic violence and makes provision for appropriate penalties and civil remedies. It also penalises a partner in a domestic relationship who injures and endangers the health of the other. "With a law in place, we expect a lot to change. But having a law is one thing and implementing it is another. We need to be able to have the capacity to put this law in practice and sensitise the communities about their rights," Ms Aciro added.

According to a 2009 European Union Commissioned baseline survey by ANPPCAN Uganda Chapter on the situation of gender-based violence in Apac, Kitgum and Mukono districts, most respondents said women should report their husbands only in cases of serious assault that result in bodily harm.

The survey found that at least 50 per cent of respondents in Apac believed it was okay for a man to beat his wife compared to 40 per cent in Kitgum. In Mukono, only 10 per cent of the respondents said it was okay for a man to beat his wife.

Loving husbands?

"Some argued that a man who loves his wife should beat her when she does something wrong. It is a way to correct her behaviour," said Mr Wandega. In this survey, assault was the most common form of violence against women. "Most cases of assault and battering are negotiated within the community and may only be reported to the police when the parties do not reach a compromise," explained Mr Wandega.

Over time, however, Mr Wandega explained that increased sensitization has helped more women to come out and report cases of domestic violence to the police and local councils within their communities.

The Amnesty report suggests that effective criminal justice mechanisms are required to deal appropriately with perpetrators of violence. "They are also important for a survivor's recovery in showing that society as a whole condemns what has happened to her and will act to ensure that this will not happen in future," it reads.

The ordeals

"What discourages me from going to the police and Local Council is because they all want money. The higher you go up the chain of justice, the more money they want and yet I don't have the money. I don't even have money for medicines, where will I get the money for justice?"

Asha, domestic violence victim

"The last time I went to the police station to report that my husband had beaten me, they said "It's you again, what did he do this time? Don't waste our time reporting him, each time you do so, you change your mind and withdraw the complaint. We don't have resources to waste." I have not gone back to report him since then".

Lucy, domestic violence victim

"When I was raped in 2004, I did not go to the police or to the doctor. I knew the man who raped me and I did not think anyone would believe me. I began to feel weak and feverish after two months and went for an AIDS test. I found out I was HIV positive as a result of the rape. I was pregnant at the time of the rape and my baby died soon after she was born. The doctor said that she became HIV positive too."

Cristina, rape victim

"The local councillor is my husband's former classmate and they often drink together in the evenings. He does not take my case seriously when I report that my husband has beaten me or is neglecting to provide for the children".

Pascaline, 23

"When I was raped in 2002, I did not report it because I thought it is a waste of time and money to go to the police and to court. I have heard that police often discourage people from reporting their cases, suspects are released without being charged, evidence goes missing and files get lost".

Rose, 28-year-old victim of rape