Saturday, February 18, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012


Friday is political prisoner day at Scission and today we turn to a man who was incarcerated back when he was sixteen and has been in prison ever since.  What did he do, you ask?  He was riding home on the school bus filled with African-American high school students in Destrehan, Louisiana when the bus was surrounded and attacked by a racist mob.   A shot was fired out the window of the bus and a thirteen year old was accidently hit...the child died.

Gary Tyler was a target of the school administration already and was quickly targeted by local cops following the shooting.  They eventually accused Gary on some damn straight tainted evidence and testimony.

Amnesty International believes Gary's trial was bogus, as does the National Conference of Black Lawyers and many others.

But Gary is till in jail.  He is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.  

This atrocious miscarriage of justice must end now.  

 “This case is just permeated with racism all the way through it,” declared Mary Howell, Gary’s longtime attorney, “from the initial event all the way up to the pardon process.”

Most of you have probably never even heard of Gary Tyler.  

Well, you have now.

The following article from New York City Jericho Movement is five years old already, but the facts remain the same.

Louisiana Justice: The Long Struggle of Gary Tyler
Check out what YOU can do to help free Gary Tyler.
Visit to read more news on his case and sign the online petition!

Democracy Now! devoted almost an entire hour to Gary Tyler on Thursday, March 1. Amy Goodman interviewed Bob Herbert of the New York Times, along with Gary's mother Juanita and his sister Bobbie McCray. Read, watch or listen here. The audio is also available as a podcast from iTunes.

By Joe Allen

Joe Allen is the author of a three-part series on Vietnam, co-author of "Leonard Peltier: Incident at Oglala Thirty Years On." This article is excerpted from the current September/October 2006 issue of the International Socialist Review.
GARY TYLER, at one time the youngest person on death row, turned 48 years old this July. He has spent thirty-two of those years in jail for a crime he did not commit. The case of Gary Tyler is one of the great miscarriages of justice in the modern history of the United States, in a country where the miscarriage of justice is part of the daily routine of government business.
"This case is just permeated with racism all the way through it," declared Mary Howell, Gary's longtime attorney, "from the initial event all the way up to the pardon process."
Yet, far too few people are aware of Gary Tyler's case, which in the mid-1970s mobilized thousands across the country for his freedom and led Amnesty International to declare him a political prisoner. Over the last twenty years, hundreds of death row inmates and scores of others have been exonerated for the crimes they were falsely convicted of by racist and corrupt prosecutors. It's long past time that Gary Tyler should have gone free.
In 1975, Gary Tyler, an African-American teenager, was wrongly convicted by an all-white jury for the murder of Timothy Weber, a thirteen-year-old white youth. Weber had been killed the previous year during an attack by a racist white mob on a school bus filled with African-American high school students in Destrehan, Louisiana. Tyler 's trial was characterized by coerced testimony, planted evidence, judicial misconduct, and an incompetent defense. He was sentenced to death by electrocution at the age of seventeen.
On the first appeal of his conviction in 1981, a federal appeals court said that Tyler was "denied a fundamentally fair trial," but refused to order a new one for him. During this same period, the Louisiana death penalty was ruled unconstitutional. Gary Tyler's death sentence was lifted and he was resentenced to life in prison. He is currently incarcerated in Louisiana 's infamous Angola prison.
Racism in the High Schools
In 1954, the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, ordered the desegregation of public schools "with all deliberate speed." The ruling was seen as a huge victory for the NAACP and those who advocated a legal strategy for ending Jim Crow in the United States. However, white dominated, racist local school boards in the South and the North were able to avoid implementing the court order for years, if not decades.
By the early to mid-seventies, the time had run out for most of these local school boards, and the federal courts ordered them to come up with plans to desegregate the schools. This almost always involved busing Black school kids from their largely Black neighborhoods into all-white neighborhoods, where they often encountered racist mobs. In fact, some of the most cowardly and despicable displays of racism ever captured on film took place during this period of time.
The opposition to court ordered desegregation spread across the country, particularly in such midsized cities as Detroit, Michigan; Louisville, Kentucky; Wilmington, North Carolina; and Richmond, California. Racist violence also spread to relatively isolated areas, like Destrehan, Louisiana, where Gary Tyler was a student at the local high school. The bigots tried to cloak their opposition to integration by claiming that they were only opposed to "forced busing" and were defending "neighborhood schools," but the open display of Confederate flags and the racist filth spewed by politicians and "anti-busing" activists revealed their real agenda.
Plantation Country
“Coming back to the South, it was like taking me out of the light and putting me into darkness."—Gary Tyler
Destrehan is located in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. It is part of Louisiana's old plantation country that runs along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and the state capitol Baton Rouge. While the plantations are almost entirely gone, the elegant mansions built by slave labor remain and are a major tourist attraction.
"Plantation homes are to Louisiana what the crown jewels are to England an equally spellbinding setting, with a unique story attached," according to one of Louisiana's tourist Web sites. "The unique story" referred to is the Gone With the Wind version of history of the plantation South commonly found in the former states of the Confederacy. What's missing from this unique story is the tyranny and misery of slavery and Jim Crow, and the persistence of racism that continues to dominate the lives of its Black residents to this very day.
Gary Tyler was born in New Orleans in 1958. In 1970, the Tyler family moved to St. Rose, about twenty miles upriver from New Orleans. Destrehan is a short five miles further north. His mother, Juanita Tyler, worked as a domestic servant, and her husband Uylos, a maintenance man who held down three jobs simultaneously, worked to support a family of eleven kids. When he was twelve years old, Gary left Louisiana to live with his sister Ella in the Watts section of Los Angeles, now better known as South-Central.
"There," according to journalist Amy Singer, "he was exposed to people and ideas that hadn't made their way to St. Rose: the Black Panthers; activist Angela Davis; the antiwar movement. Tyler attended rallies and began to develop a political awareness." Gary returned to Louisiana two years later, in 1972, and was not at all happy about it. "Coming back to the South, it was like taking me out of the light and putting me into darkness," Gary lamented many years later.
Living in Los Angeles at the height of the Black Power and antiwar movements was clearly exciting and interesting compared to living in an isolated area of the country like St. Charles Parish, suffering the "darkness" of grinding poverty and suffocating racism of small town Louisiana life.
This is when his scrapes with the law began. Gary was arrested twice for burglary (one he says he's guilty of and another he says he didn't do) and spent seven months in a juvenile institution. He was also considered something of a radical; intelligent and outspoken, and someone who demanded respect from persons in authority. Gary Tyler, in short, was the type of young Black person that cops, particularly white cops in small Southern towns, really despise; years later, a police officer would refer to him as a "smart n-----."
Bus 91
When the crisis came at Destrehan High School, Gary Tyler already loomed large in the minds of key members of the local sheriff's department as a "troublemaker"; but the chain of events that led to his arrest and persecution began years before October 1974.
The school authorities in Destrehan strongly resisted the pressure for school integration during the 1960s. The federal courts ultimately ordered the Destrehan authorities to begin desegregating their schools in 1968. That, however, didn't put an end to the deeply ingrained racism of the white residents or their resistance to school integration. Racist violence continued for many years and appears to have escalated during 1974.
According to Amnesty International, "In 1974, the tensions created by the resistance of whites to desegregation resulted in frequent clashes in which the Ku Klux Klan, the white supremacist organization, played a leading role." The Friday night football games became a scene of frequent fights between the white and Black students of Destrehan High School.
On the evening of October 4, one such fight broke out between Black and white students at the football game. The fight didn't end that night. When Destrehan High School opened the following Monday (October 7), lunchtime fights between Blacks and whites continued, and several people including a teacher were stabbed.
Later, at Gary's trial, Major Charles Faucheux of the Destrehan Sheriff's Department testified that he watched as "one of the Black students ran to the highway and probably about fifty white students chased after him." The principal ordered Destehan High School closed and the Black students evacuated.
Gary Tyler, who was a sophomore at the time, was suspended by the school's assistant principal that morning, though he says that he wasn't involved in the fighting, and was sent home. Fatefully for Gary, he was picked up while hitchhiking home by Destrehan Deputy Sheriff V.J. St. Pierre (who also happened to be Timothy Weber's cousin), who searched him, found nothing, and took him back to Destrehan High just as Black students were being evacuated from campus.
Gary hopped on to Bus 91, along with sixty-five other Black students, as it began to pull out of campus. Bus 91 was immediately besieged by a white mob of 200 students (and by some accounts, non-students and parents) throwing rocks, bottles, and screaming racist epithets. Gary 's brother Terry, who was also on Bus 91, described the terrifying scene years later to journalist Adam Nossiter. "They were on the attack, man. It was panic," Terry said. It was as if "you be out on a boat, and the boat's sinking." Suddenly, one student on the bus looked out the window and screamed, "Look at that white boy with that gun."
Seconds later the Black students hit the floor of the bus after hearing a popping sound, believing that someone was shooting at them. Outside the bus Timothy Weber fell to the ground wounded. Deputy St. Pierre rushed him to the hospital, where he later died from a gunshot wound.
The police stopped the bus, according to Patricia Files, another Black student, stormed onto it, and went on a "rampage." They "started treating us like animals." Then the police ordered all the Black students off the bus and searched them. No one from the white mob was stopped or searched by the police for weapons.
Police searched all the Black students on the bus and didn't find a gun. Three deputies searched the bus several times and, again, no gun was found. Then one of the sheriff's deputies began to harass Gary Tyler's cousin Ike Randall about why he was wearing a .22-caliber bullet on a chain. Gary said that there wasn't anything wrong with that, and was arrested for "disturbing the peace." He was placed in a police car and taken to the local substation of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Department.
Despite the fact that no gun was found on any Black student riding on Bus 91, and no weapon was found on the bus, all of the Black students were loaded back onto the bus and taken to the same sheriff's substation. This was the beginning of Gary Tyler's long nightmare. Within days of the death of Timothy Weber, a young David Duke, a rising star in Klan and neo-Nazi politics in the United States, arrived in Destrehan with what he called "security teams" to protect the white residents from "black savages" and "murderers."  He also laid a wreath at a memorial for Timothy Weber. This was the beginning of David Duke's sometimes peripheral but always nefarious role in the persecution of Gary Tyler.
A legal lynching
Soon after arriving in the police station, the threats and the beatings began. According to Gary, St. Pierre returned to the police station and screamed, "I'm getting the motherfucker that did it." A deputy handed St. Pierre a blackjack and he started beating Gary while another deputy joined in and began repeatedly kicking Gary in the back and legs. They kept beating him and asking him who killed Weber. Gary told them he didn't know. Yet, St. Pierre kept at it, "N-----, you're going to tell me something." Another sheriff's deputy entered the room and warned them that people downstairs could hear Gary's screams.
One of those people was Gary's mother, Juanita, who came to the station after hearing about the terrifying events at the high school and learning that her sons had been taken there. After all the other students had been released except Gary, she went into the station to look for him.
"I could hear the sounds of the beatings," she recounted in a 1990 interview. "It was like a smothered holler. The sounds of a person hollering. Sounds of licks. Bam, pow." When she saw Gary later, the aftereffects of the beatings were clear. "He was just trembling."
The cops weren't able to beat a confession out of Gary , but others began to crack under pressure. The first was Natalie Blanks. She would eventually become the key prosecution witness against Gary. She was also his unhappy ex-girlfriend. Gary 's arrest for murder was based on her statements to the police. Blanks was a young woman with a lot of emotional problems who had been undergoing treatment at a local mental health clinic for several years. She also had a history of making false police reports, including one that she was kidnapped, a claim that was investigated by none other than Deputy Sheriff St. Pierre.
Another Black student on Bus 91 got a visit from the police that night. Larry Dabney shared the same bus seat with Gary Tyler. "It was the scariest thing that ever happened to me," he said in his affidavit. "They didn't even ask me what I saw. They told me flat out that I was going to be their witness. They started telling me what my statement was going to be. They told me I was going to testify that I saw Gary with a gun right after I heard the shot, and that a few minutes later he hid it in a slit in the seat. That was not true. I didn't see Gary or anybody else in that bus with a gun."
Where did the gun that police claimed killed Timothy Weber come from? How did they find it? After all, the police searched the bus for three hours after the shooting and found nothing. Natalie Banks identified where Gary was sitting and the police removed the seat from the bus and, again, found nothing. Later, the police said they "discovered" the gun, "A photograph of the seat taken before they removed the gun shows an obvious bulge." The gun had no fingerprints on it and was later identified as stolen from a firing range that was used by St Charles Parish Sheriff's deputies.
What tied Gary to the gun? Gary wore gloves to school that day and they were confiscated by the police after his arrest and sent to the Southeastern Louisiana Regional Criminalistics Laboratory for testing. The gloves were apparently misplaced for several weeks before the head of the lab, Herman Parrish, finally claimed that he tested them and found gunpowder residue on them. No independent testing was done because all the alleged residue was used up by Parrish.
In 1976, Parrish resigned from his position at the crime lab after he was accused of lying about test results in another case. The bullet that police claimed killed Timothy Weber was never even tested to see if it ever passed through a human body. Everything points to the likelihood that the police fabricated the gun evidence against Gary Tyler.
Planted evidence, coerced testimony, and faked test results; all that was needed was a compliant judge and jury, and the prosecutors certainly got them. The presiding judge at Gary's trial was Judge Ruche Marino, who was identified by some press accounts of the time as being a former member of the White Citizens Council of Louisiana. In a region that is 25 percent African American, the trial empaneled an all-white jury. Gary Tyler's inept defense attorney, Jack Williams, gave incalculable help to the prosecution.
His total pretrial preparation consisted of meeting Gary once or twice and reading the grand jury transcripts. But this was only the beginning of his blunders and missteps; his general incompetence would plague Gary for years to come.
Judge Marino was consistently biased in favor of the prosecution. He even instructed the jury that they could presume Gary guilty before their deliberations. Gary's trial lasted five days and the jury deliberated three hours before he was found guilty of first-degree murder in November 1975. Under Louisiana law at the time, this was an automatic death sentence. His date of execution was set for May 1, 1976. At seventeen, he was the youngest person on death row in the United States.
Free Gary Tyler
Amnesty International believes that Gary Tyler was denied a fair trial and that racial prejudice played a major part in his prosecution. The racial and political context in which the offence and prosecution took place brings the case under Article 1(b) of Amnesty International's statute, by which the organization seeks a fair trial for political prisoners.
Soon after Gary 's arrest, the Tyler family, led by his mother Juanita, threw themselves into organizing a campaign to stop his legal lynching. They received the crucial help of veteran Louisiana Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activist and draft resister Walter Collins, who helped set up a New Orleans-based Gary Tyler Defense Committee.
Collins and the Tyler family concentrated on getting Gary's supporters to fill the courtroom during the trial, not only to show the judge and prosecutor community support for Gary but also to counter the influence of the KKK, who rallied outside for Gary's conviction. After an execution date was set for Gary, there was an urgent need to turn the Free Gary Tyler Campaign into a national effort.
The campaign got a boost when Natalie Blanks recanted her testimony, charging that the police had coerced her into falsely testifying. Gary's new attorney, Jack Peebles, petitioned the court for a hearing to allow for the new evidence to be heard. Unfortunately, this meant going back to the very same Judge Ruche Marino. True to form, Marino ignored Blanks' recantation and allowed Gary's conviction to stand.
However, Blanks' bombshell revelations, along with the obvious irregularities of the trial, provided more than enough of a basis for a national campaign, despite the fact that the national media mostly ignored the Tyler case. The New York Times, for example, ran its first article on the Tyler case in late March 1976, six weeks before his scheduled execution.
In late April 1976, Gary's lawyers won him his first victory. His execution was postponed, pending the outcome of his appeals in the Louisiana state courts. Meanwhile, Free Gary Tyler committees were being formed across the country. Juanita Tyler and Walter Collins spoke before a packed meeting of 350 people on June 13, 1976, demanding Gary 's freedom in Detroit. The late civil rights activist Rosa Parks was the main speaker and campaigned on Gary 's behalf. She was later joined by Reuben "Hurricane" Carter, the former boxing champion who spent a decade in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
The campaign to free Gary peaked during the latter half of 1976, when over 1,500 marched through New Orleans on July 24, and in November, when petitions with more than 92,000 signatures demanding Gary 's freedom were delivered to Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. Even the American Federation of Teachers, which had a very mixed record on the issue of racism in the public schools, passed a resolution in support of Gary Tyler. In July 1976, while Gary's state court appeals were still pending, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Louisiana death penalty was unconstitutional. Gary, along with everyone else on Louisiana's death row, was spared.
While all of this was going on, Gary 's tormentors turned their attention to harassing members of the Tyler family and campaign supporters. Gary 's mother and father were fired from their jobs. On March 26, 1976 , white "nightriders" (Klan supporters if not outright Klansmen) shot and killed Richard Dunn, a young Black man returning from a fundraising dance for Gary Tyler at Southern University in New Orleans. (The gunman was later captured and served ten years in prison.)
Klansmen in full-dress uniforms drove openly through the Tylers' hometown of St. Rose, while others, out of uniform, stalked members of the Tyler family around their community. While there is no hard evidence that David Duke directed these activities, one cannot help but notice that these activities bore a striking resemblance to the "security" measures that he was calling for at the time.
Gary's brother Terry and Donald Files, an important defense witness, were arrested on charges of burglary. The alleged burglary happened while Terry was in Detroit speaking on his brother's behalf at a public rally on May 16, 1976. Judge Marino set a $5,000 bond for each. In June 1976, Marino once again held another of Gary 's brothers, Steven, on $2,700 bond for a charge of "disturbing the police."
On January 27, 1977, the police invaded Mrs. Tyler's home at gunpoint, arrested one of her sons for robbery, and released him later without charging him. Despite the constant harassment and death threats, the Tyler family and the campaign persevered. Even at his high school, Gary 's classmates (both Black and white) organized the Gary Tyler Freedom Fighters.
The year 1977 was an important turning point in Gary 's case, unfortunately for the worse. On January 24, 1977, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld Gary 's conviction. Short of a major breakthrough in the case, Gary was looking at years in prison. During the course of the year, the national campaign began to wane. Once the death sentence was lifted from Gary 's head, it became difficult to sustain the campaign. The initial urgency to save him from the electric chair was gone, and the campaign was ill prepared for what was going to be a long effort after the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld his conviction.
Gary's lawyer, Jack Peebles, continued the legal fight, filing a petition in 1978 for "biased instruction" by Judge Marino during Gary's trial with the Federal Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In 1980, the court ruled in Gary's favor. It seemed that finally Gary would get some justice. However, the prosecutors appealed the decision. They were again helped by Gary's first lawyer Jack Williams, who couldn't remember why he hadn't objected to Marino's biased instructions at the trial. As a result the court didn't order a new trial.
"It is a shocking thing there is someone in prison in this country for whom the courts have said, “Your trial was fundamentally unfair, you've been denied the presumption of innocence, but we won't give you a fair trial because your lawyer can't remember why he didn't object,'" Mary Howell declared in 1987.
Since the late 1980s, Gary has made several efforts to get paroled, but in each case they fell victim to Louisiana 's racial politics. The most serious effort came in 1989-90, when the pardon board voted 3 to 2 to recommend that Gary 's sentence be commuted from life to sixty years, with eligibility for parole after serving twenty years. This was forwarded to then Democratic Louisiana Buddy Roemer, who rejected the pardon board's recommendations despite receiving petitions with 12,000 signatures calling for Gary's pardon.
“Three decades on I emphatically and unequivocally maintain my innocence as I did in 1974 and hope that one day justice will eventually prevail in this matter.” —Gary Tyler
“I just wish for the day he could be home. It's been so long.” —Gary's mother, May 24, 2006.
For the past three decades, Gary Tyler has been incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. The 18,000-acre penitentiary, nick-named "the farm," is the largest maximum security prison in the country, housing 5,000 men. The Angola prison population is 75 percent Black, and 85 percent of those sentenced there will probably die there.
Angola is built on a former slave plantation and has been running continuously since the end of the Civil War. Along with other infamous prisons in the South (like Mississippi 's Parchman Farm), "it is hard not to see the entire penal system simply as revenge against Blacks for the South's defeat in the Civil War." Even to this day, slavery casts a long shadow over the Southern penal system, especially Louisiana's. Louisiana has the highest rate of incarceration in the country. For every 100,000 residents of the state, 816 are sentenced prisoners. Blacks make up 32 percent of Louisiana's population, but they constitute 72 percent of the state's prison population.
The life of prisoners inside of Angola is little better than slavery. Gary, for example, spent many years in solitary confinement because he refused to pick cotton for 3 cents an hour.
How is it possible that, given all the evidence of his innocence and the blatantly racist nature of his frame-up, Gary Tyler is still in prison? Gary's case takes us straight into the heart of darkness of the Louisiana criminal justice system. Powerful political forces have conspired to keep him behind bars. Both racism and political persecution have played their part. In 1990, the Louisiana attorney general argued against a pardon for Tyler, because he has "demanded that he be allowed to correspond with socialist and communist publications like the Socialist Worker."
Gary Tyler is a political prisoner and nothing less than a serious fight by those who are outraged and want to support him will win Gary his freedom. There has been a great reversal in the rights of death row prisoners.
The Supreme Court, and the Clinton administration's 1995 Effective Death Penalty Act have combined to make it almost impossible to appeal cases based upon new evidence. Any appellate defense lawyer will tell you that in both capital and non-capital cases, the highest court, and the appeals courts, too, generally only will grant new trials where there has been a procedural error. They don't give a damn about new evidence, recanted witnesses, etc. Those kinds of things, that actually prove innocence or corrupted trials, have to be beyond overwhelming to win a new trial.
The draconian character of the legal system in capital cases has only gotten more pronounced since the so-called war on terror under George W. Bush. Yet the last decade has also seen a sea change in public attitudes towards the criminal justice system. Hundreds of innocent people have been released from prison, after it was shown that they were innocent or received unfair trials. But far too many remain in prison. "Don't forget about Gary Tyler because there are thousands more like him," declared Terry Tyler, Gary's older brother.
Hurricane Katrina has ripped the mask off of racism and class oppression in this country generally, and in Louisiana in particular. While the tens of thousands of mostly Black, working class and poor residents of New Orleans fight to return to their homes and rebuild their shattered lives, they will continue to be confronted by the forces of racism and class oppression that seek to turn the city into a jazz and blues version of Disneyland. Louisiana's already racist and corrupt judicial system will be increasingly put at the disposal of creating this "new" New Orleans. In all of these upcoming battles, the fight to free Gary Tyler should be part of them. Gary Tyler should not be forgotten.
Thanks to Larry Bradshaw, Paul D'Amato, Michael Letwin, David Lindorff, and the Tyler family for their help in writing this article.
Letters of support can be sent to:
Gary Tyler # 84156
Louisiana State Penitentiary
Angola, LA 70712

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Many are unaware that a hunger strike hs been on going at Corcoran State Prison in California which started last December..  Many prisoners there have been in solitary for years.  

The prison is "home" to more than 1400 prisoners.  There are another 340 prisoners in solitary there.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Well, while the hunger strikers were out of our minds, one of them died earlier this month.

Solitary Watch has the story.

Update: Inmate Dies During Hunger Strike at California’s Corcoran State Prison

Update (February 13): Theresa Cisneros, Public Information Officer at Corcoran, confirmed to Solitary Watch that Christian Gomez, 27, was hunger striking at the time of his death in the Administrative Segregation Unit. Official autopsy results still pending. Nancy Kincaid of California Correctional Health Care Services told Solitary Watch that Gomez had been “medically monitored for hunger strike activity and had been on strike for four days” at the time of his death on February 2nd. She further said that “the preliminary autopsy report does not indicate hunger strike activity contributed to his death.”

News of a death in Corcoran State Prison’s Administrative Segregation Unit is emerging as an underreported hunger strike in the prison’s ASU comes to a close. Inmates in the ASU are held in 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement. Many have been in isolation for years and even decades.

California State Prison, Corcoran, which houses over 1400 in Security Housing Units and an additional 350 in ASUs, has been the site of two waves of hunger strikes since late December 2011. Unlike the highly publicized hunger strikes last year that originated in Pelican Bay State Prison’s SHU, the Corcoran strikes have remained relatively small and have received little press attention.

On December 19, 2011, three inmates at Corcoran announced a hunger strike protesting the conditions of the ASU. They listed eleven demands  ranging from educational and rehabilitative programming to timely medical care. According to California Department of Corrections spokesperson Terry Thornton:

On Dec. 28, 59 inmates housed in the Administrative Segregation Unit at Corcoran State Prison refused their state-issued meals. On Dec. 29, that number dropped to 54. On Dec. 30, 49 inmates refused state-issued meals. By Dec. 31, all inmates resumed eating state-issued food.

According to Pyung Hwa Ryoo, one of the main petitioners of the December 2011 hunger strike:

Three days after the strike began, prison officials came to the ASU and let the strikers know that the petition, and demands of the strike, would be granted. They requested three weeks to make the changes happen; and to give them the benefit of the doubt, the request was granted and the strike was put on hold.

It has been a little more than 2 weeks since the strike stopped. So far, there has been some improvements in this ASU, but the majority of the promised changes have not yet occurred.

According to a letter from strike petitioner Juan Jaimes dated January 31st:

…this hunger strike commenced on December 28, 2011 and it has no ending date unless some or all demands are met…

He also indicated (as confirmed by CDCR’s inmate locator) that he was transferred from Corcoran to Kern Valley State Prison. Though unconfirmed, he has also indicated that the two other strike petitioners were also transferred away from each other.

There is conflicting information suggesting that some inmates continued to strike during the period between the “official” strikes. The following, however, has been confirmed by Thornton:

 On Jan. 27, 32 inmates in Corcoran State Prison’s Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) refused to eat breakfast and started a hunger strike. As of Feb. 9, all inmates in the ASU except one resumed eating state-issued food.

In an email to Solitary Watch from Nancy Kincaid, Director of Communications for California Correctional Health Care Services, stated that all strikers resumed eating February 9th.

A letter to California activist Kendra Castaneda from a Corcoran ASU striker, however, indicated that “on or about Feb 2nd or 3rd 2012 an inmate has passed away due to not eating.”

While the cause of death and its possible relationship to the hunger strike remains unconfirmed, Thornton responded to questions from Solitary Watch with an apparent affirmation that an inmate death had taken place, and the statement: ”I do not know the results of the autopsy.”

In response to a phone call, Tom Edmonds, Chief Deputy Coroner in Kings County confirmed that inmate Christian Gomez died on February 2nd at Corcoran, but also did not share the cause of death.

Solitary Watch will provide updates as information becomes available.


Indigenous people are a favorite target of global capital and the Empire, just as they were for colonial powers and national capitalists.  For centuries, those who are indigenous to an area are seen as just being in the way by those new folks coming in to take over.

One way to destroy Native People is to poison them.

One way to do that is to pollute their land, their water, their food sources and the air they breathe.  Coal fired power plants are one way of accomplishing all of the above while churning out profits and capitalist accumulation for that special class we all know and could do without.

SourceWatch writes, "The Native American lands of the United States are home to large coal reserves, coal mining, and coal plants. As a result, the indigenous people of these lands deal disproportionately with the environmental hazards of the coal industry."
"The Four Corners Steam Plant, one of the largest coal-fired generating stations in the United States, is located on Navajo land in Fruitland, New Mexico. The plant’s five units generate 2,040 megawatts of electricity and are operated by Arizona Public Service Company, which serves about 300,000 homes in New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Texas. As many as 18,000 homes on the Navajo Nation are completely off the grid despite the presence of nearby coal-fired power plants. The American Lung Association estimates that 16,000 people in the region (15 percent of the population) suffers from lung disease probably caused by plant emissions. Each year the plant emits 157 million pounds of sulfur dioxide, 122 million pounds of nitrogen oxides, 8 million pounds of soot and 2,000 pounds o fmercury."
Indian Country Today pointed out last summer that there are three coal-fired power plants affecting Navajo tribal lands, in particular, and local residents don’t doubt the harm they do.

“Teachers are telling us there’s a lot of developmental problems for the kids—that’s mercury,” said Lori Goodman, coordinator for Dine’ CARE (Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment), describing problems at the school nearest Four Corners Power Plant west of Farmington, N.M. “And the autism—that’s mercury-related.”

The plants are also poisoning the area's fish with the mercury byproduct they produce.  Who eats these fish?  You know who.  By the way it doesn't take much mercury to pollute a twenty acre lake - one gram will get the job done.  Did I mention that the San Juan Generating Station, alone, emits about 560 POUNDS  of mercury annually.

Anyway, you get the picture.

The article below is from Censored News.

Native America Calling: Coal fired power plants poisoning Native Americans

Navajo Generating Station on the Navajo Nation
near Page, Ariz.
Native America Calling: Coal fired power plants poisoning Native Americans

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

On Native America Calling today, Louise Benally, Dine' of Big Mountain and Moapa Pauite Chairman William Anderson said coal fired power plants are poisoning Navajos, Paiutes and the people of the Southwest. Callers to the national live radio show from across the west agreed and said it is time for the toxic legacy of dirty fuel to end.

Program host Harlan McKosato of the Sac and Fox Nation, asked Benally about the term "clean coal."

Add caption
“It is a dirty lie. Nothing is clean about coal or extraction," Benally said. "There is no such thing as clean coal. Clean coal is not a reality.”

Benally described Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl's current attempts to steal Navajo water rights to the Colorado River and Little Colorado River. She also described the devastation from the Navajo Generating Station at Page, Ariz., fired by coal from Black Mesa, on Navajoland.

"They are killing the earth. There is no respect for the earth, they are killing the earth in the name of greed," said Benally, among those who have resisted relocation for decades on Black Mesa, where Peabody Coal continues to mine coal and poison the air, water and land.

Moapa Paiute Chairman William Anderson said there are widespread health problems, including respiratory problems and thyroid problems, because of the Reid Gardner coal fired power plant in Nevada.

Chairman Anderson said the brown cloud over the power plant "is what we breathe everyday." He described how the dirty industries try to buy off the people with the promises of money, roads and more, while ignoring the longterm and devastating health results of coal fired power plants.

"This is one of the dirtiest power plants in the nation," Chairman Anderson said, adding that "fugitive dust" is what Paiutes breathe from the evaporation ponds.

McKosato said the devastation is described in the new film, "An Ill Wind Blows in Moapa," about the Reid Gardner coal fired power plant and what it is doing to the Moapa Paiutes.

Benally pointed out that Navajo President Ben Shelly sent Navajo Attorney General Harrison Tsosie to Washington in February to try and do away with US EPA clean air laws on the Navajo Nation.

Benally said jobs are not the reason for these coal fired power plants. "It is the need for greed," said Benally, referring to the leases signed by elected Navajo leaders. Benally said because of these power plants, Navajos on Black Mesa are now the victims, with respiratory diseases, diabetes, heart problems, cancer and birth defects.

"It is not regulated," Benally said. She said those jobs, resulting in poisoning Navajos, could be green jobs. "But the Navajo government opposes that openly." Recently, Navajo President Ben Shelly's line item veto of green jobs in the Navajo Nation budget.

Meanwhile, while elected Navajo leaders block the Dine' movement for green jobs, Benally said the medicine plants are being poisoned by the coal fired power plant emissions. The air in the region, once pristine, is now heavy with the dark haze.

"If you drive over the ridge to look over Navajo country, you see the brown cloud," she said. "It is toxifying the earth like we don't have a future. We want a future."

"We will continue to fight for what we believe, Mother Earth and Mother Nature."

One caller from Zuni Pueblo, N.M., said Zunis are being sickened and poisoned by the nearby Coronado Generating Station in St. Johns, Ariz., because they are in the wind's path from this power plant.

Another caller from Taos, N.M., pointed out that Peabody Coal is "the main culprit," poisoning people across America.

One Hopi caller described how the Mohave Generating Station depleted the Navajo aquifer, beneath the Hopi and Navajo lands, before it was shut down along with one of the two Peabody coal mines on Black Mesa. Pointing out the loss of pristine water and the diseases cause, he described how the Mohave power plant, which depleted the aquifer with a coal slurry to Nevada, was shut down in 2005.

Still, Peabody Coal's Kayenta mine remains open, and sends coal to Navajo Generating Station in nearby Page, Ariz., which poisons Navajoland and the Southwest. The Navajo Generating Station is operated by the Salt River Project in the Phoenix Valley, which was protested by Navajo and O'odham during the American Legislative Exchange Council gathering in November.

McKosato said neither the Navajo Nation nor the coal industry responded to requests to be on today's show.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012



Not much time for me to make any comments here except to say that one of the most blatant and criminal attacks on our planet and on those living in the areas of these terrorist attacks is called Mountain Top Removal Mining.  It is ugly, vicious and serves no one except, of course, the capitalists who profit off this destruction.

Want to view the deathly scars created by Global Capital visit a mountain that is now gone.  

People from all walks of life in Kentucky came together yesterday to cry for the end of the terror.

The following is from the Kentucky Kernel...

Hundreds gather in Frankfort for annual I Love Mountains Day

FRANKFORT — Individuals from all walks of life rallied outside the Capitol Tuesday afternoon. But despite differing backgrounds, hundreds of voices united because of one common goal.
“We will win this battle. We will fight mountaintop removal,” said Chuck Nelson, a former coal miner and West Virginia native.
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, an organization devoted to change in “political, economic and social systems,” according to its website, hosted the annual “I Love Mountains” rally in Frankfort.
Speaking from firsthand experience as a former deep miner of 30 years and a union worker for 21 years, Nelson supports the work of KFTC. He traveled to Frankfort to join Kentuckians “shoulder-to-shoulder to fight for clean air and our mountains.”
He spoke particularly of Blair Mountain in West Virginia, historically known as “the largest civil uprising on American soil since the U.S. Civil War,” according to its website.
“We have to save Blair Mountain because it means so much to the people that fought and died there,” Nelson said. “If we lose our mountains, who are we?”
Larry Gibson, also from West Virginia, who referred to himself as a “mountain saver,” said Blair Mountain is “the national symbol of labor in West Virginia.”
He has been involved in the protest against mountaintop removal for 28 years.
“I’m trying to push these people to stop fighting their own battle, their own little battle, and fight the big battle,” he said. “I’m not trying to win a battle. I’m trying to win a war.”
Starting at noon, people gathered outside the Capitol for the rally beginning at 12:30. Cardboard signs danced in the rain, with sayings such as “More life, less blasting,” and “Stop making peaks into pancakes.”
As the rain came to a stop, the protesting was just getting started.
Five speakers took the stage, including KFTC fellow and spokeswoman Teri Blanton.
“We must say with one voice — things have got to change,” she said.
Blanton spoke about the theme of the rally — unity.
And nothing reflected unity more than Melina Laboucan-Massimo’s trip to Kentucky to join KFTC and community members in the fight against mountaintop removal.
Laboucan-Massimo, who is from Canada and a member of the Cree First Nation in Alberta, said the mines here are “eerily reminiscent” to the mines back at her home.
“Mountains are sacred,” she said. “People go to them for peace and understanding.”
She spoke about the tar sands extractions in Alberta that have destroyed the land and water. Like many Kentuckians, she is fearful of land becoming unlivable.
Ada Smith, an activist from Letcher County, said this year was the first time she has attended I Love Mountains Day.
She cited statistics from Dr. Michael Hendryx and others that show there is a 42 percent greater chance for children to be born with birth defects in mountaintop removal mining areas.
She also noted that cancer rates in these areas are 14.4 percent, compared to 9.4 percent in other places in Appalachia.
As she stood on the Capitol steps, she urged legislators to “stop catering to the industry and open eyes, ears and office to the people.”
While getting through to legislators is an important aspect of the rally, raising awareness is also a necessity, said Jared Flanery, a history junior and co-coordinator of UK KFTC.
“I don’t think we come here expecting state Senate and state legislators to change their mind all of a sudden,” Flanery said. “It is partially just showing our presence and showing that we have an alternative that includes treating our environment with respect.”
Alex Lehto, a computer science freshman, agreed that raising awareness is crucial to change.
“We’re really adamant about it and we’re not messing around,” he said. “It’s a serious issue.”
The protesters marched from the Capitol steps to the Governor’s Mansion, chanting “Healthy streams, healthy people.”
“The war has been declared by the coal industry,” said Stanley Sturgill, a retired coal miner and federal coal mine inspector, outside the mansion. “We are the ones that are under attack.”
According to the KFTC I Love Mountains Rally Program, a total of 1,200 pinwheels were created and placed outside of the mansion, and each one represents “50 people who have cancer linked to coal mining.”
“It’s a huge injustice and I wanted to start acting against it,” said Jessica Barnett, an integrated strategic communication senior and KFTC member. “I hope people can understand it’s an issue about people as much as it’s an issue about mountains.”
As the rally came to a close, the protesters’ message lingered in the air.
“We keep knockin’,” they sang, together in unison.
Reach Assistant News Editor Kayla Phelps at