Posts Tagged 'Civil Liberties'

Welcome Lynne Stewart Back to San Francisco!

Welcome Lynne Stewart
Back to San Francisco!
Friday, May 2, 6-8 PM
518 Valencia Street
(betw. 16th & 17th Sts)
1 1/2 blocks from 16th St. BART

Lynne, Mumia, & Pam

This is Lynne’s first trip to the Bay Area since her release from Federal prison. We will celebrate her life and struggle, and focus on the work ahead to free all political prisoners and fight racist mass incarceration.

Because of a determined people’s movement Lynne is finally home with her family on compassionate release. But she has urgent medical needs fight her metastatic breast cancer; This event is to help raise the needed money. Lynne gave a lifetime of courageous legal help to those of us who needed it the most. Now it’s our turn to help her. Please come.

This SF event is part of a series of Bay Area meetings with Lynne Stewart. For more information, contact Jeff Mackler at jmackler@imi.net or call 510-268-9429.

Background:

Lynne Stewart is a radical human rights attorney who has devoted her life to the oppressed and those deprived of their freedom and rights. During the massive suppression of civil liberties following 9/11, Lynne was falsely accused of helping terrorists and in outrageous legal proceedings was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in Federal prison. Her case stands as a prime example of government action to silence dissent, curtail vigorous defense lawyers, and install fear in those who would fight the government’s racism and injustice.

Advertisements

May 17th Gray Panther Program: MayDay! MayDay! Civil Liberties Under Attack!

MayDay

Civil Liberties under Attack

MayDay! MayDay! Civil Liberties Under Attack!
A SF Gray Panthers Program
Tuesday, May 17, 1 PM
Fireside Room, Unitarian Center
1187 Franklin Street (at Geary)

The extra-judicial killing of Osama Bin Laden has stimulated a flurry of right-wing radicals — Cheney for one — who now propose that torture be legalized. Congress is debating extension of the USA Patriot Act, for three years. The SF Gray Panthers will present a program on the Patriot Act and the Bill of Rights.

Hastily passed after 9/11, the USA Patriot Act is considered by many to be the greatest threat in decades to civil liberties and constitutionally-protected rights of free speech and protections against unwarranted searches and seizures. The Act was due to expire in February, but the Senate did not authorize renewal, so the Act was extended for debate until May 27.

The three most controversial sections of the Patriot Act are:

1) “Section 215,” allowing the government to seize records or “any tangible thing” from any person.

2) “Roving Wiretap” orders which do not have to specify the names or devices targeted.

3) a “Lone Wolf” provision which reduces legal protections for individuals alleged to be a threat.

SF Gray Panthers has opposed the USA Patriot Act from the beginning, hosting public informational meetings and participating in demonstrations against the Act. A list of Gray Panther articles on the Patriot Act is available at http://tinyurl.com/4yk7mdn .

short link to this post: http://wp.me/p3xLR-rf

Israel Grows Uneasy Over Reliance on Migrant Labor

New York Times, July 8, 2010

Israel Grows Uneasy Over Reliance on Migrant Labor

TEL AVIV — Perched 22 stories above an affluent suburb of this prosperous seaside city, three Chinese construction workers inched their way along the arm of a crane last autumn and refused to budge. Facing deportation because of expiring visas, theirs was an act of desperation aimed at getting thousands of dollars in wages they claimed their Israeli employer had illegally withheld.

The daredevil protest had the desired effect: after the men spent nine hours on the crane, the construction company agreed to pay each the equivalent of $1,000. Satisfied, they climbed down and voluntarily headed to the airport.

For Israelis, the crane standoff — the second in a matter of months — was an unwanted reminder of their country’s troubled economic experiment with foreign labor. Since the first intifada of the early 1990s, more than a million migrants from the developing world have come to Israel to replace the Palestinians, who were the country’s original source of cheap labor.

At least 250,000 foreign laborers, about half of them illegal, are living in the country, according to the Israeli government. They include Chinese construction workers, Filipino home health care aides and Thai farmhands, as well as other Asians, and Africans and Eastern Europeans, working as maids, cooks and nannies.

“Israelis won’t do this work, so they bring us,” said Wang Yingzhong, 40, a construction worker from Jiangsu Province in China who arrived in 2006.

But even as foreign workers have become a mainstay of the economy, their presence has increasingly clashed with Israel’s Zionist ideology, causing growing political unease over the future of the Jewish state and their place in it.

The government has lurched through a series of contradictory policies that encourage the temporary employment of migrants while seeking to impose tight visa and labor restrictions that can leave them vulnerable to abusive employers, advocates for the workers say.

Those who overstay their visas and try to remain in Israel live in fear of the Oz Unit, a recently created division of immigration police officers who hunt down illegal migrants and assist in their deportation.

The government insists it wants unskilled jobs to go to unemployed Israelis, especially Arab citizens and ultra-Orthodox Jews. Critics say the policies are hypocritical and racist because they treat foreign workers as undeserving of legal protection.

“All too often we have to fight to make Israelis see that these foreign workers are human beings,” said Dana Shaked, the coordinator for Chinese laborers at Kav LaOved, a workers’ rights group.

Although the Israeli government issued a record 120,000 foreign work permits in 2009, the country’s political leaders say they want to phase out migrant labor. “We have created a Jewish and democratic nation, and we cannot let it turn into a nation of foreign workers,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a conference of the Israel Manufacturers Association in January.

The No. 1 target is the Chinese, who in recent years have received nearly all of the construction work permits. Chinese accounted for a quarter of all deportations from 2003 to 2008, more than any other foreign group. The rate was expected to soar as 3,000 of those permits lapsed at the end of June.

The Chinese end up in the most desperate straits here partly because they are recruited through a murky network of manpower companies that rights groups say operate like human trafficking rings. Chinese pay up to $31,000 in illegal recruitment fees, the highest fees of all foreign workers, according to Kav LaOved, which says the money ends up in the pockets of go-betweens and government agencies in both countries.

The Chinese must work for an average of two years just to repay the money they borrow to afford those fees. Unaware of their rights and unable to speak Hebrew or English, many fall victim to a minefield of abuse like squalid living conditions, withheld wages and the early termination of work permits, which make them liable for deportation before they have repaid the recruitment fees or saved money for themselves.

Most Chinese endure the injustices more quietly than the workers who staged the dramatic crane protests last year. Some, like Liu Shiqi, 39, said he showed up to his job as a cook one March morning to find the restaurant closed and the owner gone without paying him. “They know we’re alone and don’t speak Hebrew, so they take advantage of us,” he said.

Worker advocates say the Chinese Embassy has long been indifferent or even hostile to the workers’ plight. When 170 construction workers went on strike in 2001 seeking back pay, embassy officials warned them that they would be imprisoned upon their return to China for breaching their contracts and breaking Chinese labor law. The men who protested on the crane did so after the embassy ignored their pleas, they told Kav LaOved.

Yang Jianchu, the Chinese consul for immigration affairs, says his staff does all it can to help those in trouble. He also dismissed accusations by worker advocates that the Chinese government profits from the exorbitant recruitment fees. “We don’t know where the money goes,” Mr. Yang said. “This is the truth.”

Laborers who become illegal after losing their jobs or overstaying their visas say they are easily exploited by Israeli bosses.

One 40-year-old Chinese worker from Jiangsu Province said he was once forced to sleep in a shipping crate. Fears of being arrested by the immigration police consume him. “When I sleep, they catch me in my dreams,” said the man, surnamed Jiang, who asked that his full name not be printed.

The government has quietly begun to replace Chinese with other non-Israelis, issuing 15,000 construction permits to Palestinians this year. This comes as right-wing politicians have heightened accusations that foreign workers are stealing Israeli jobs and threatening the nation’s Jewish character, an assertion many on the left dismiss.

“Saying foreign workers are diluting the Jewish state is racism,” said Nitzan Horowitz, a member of the Israeli Parliament and a critic of the foreign-worker policy. “On one hand, Israel is bringing them here and making money off their backs, and on other they face all sorts of harassment.”

Even if the law is changed, it will be too late for people like Lin Qingde, a Chinese construction worker who is one of 26 plaintiffs to sue an Israeli-Arab merchant accused of stealing $1.7 million from hundreds of workers, money that he was supposed to wire to their families in China. The police arrested the businessman, but, while waiting to testify at the trial, Mr. Lin’s work visa expired and he was also arrested.

Stuck behind bars for five months and afraid he might be killed in China for failing to repay a $40,000 debt, Mr. Lin was finally called into court in May to give his account. A few days later, he was deported.

Hay Haber, the lawyer for Mr. Lin and the other plaintiffs, said he was ashamed of Israel’s justice system. “These workers, unfortunately, have no place in Israel,” Mr. Haber said, surrounded by stacks of evidence files in his Tel Aviv office. “Here they are nothing but cheap slaves.”

shortlink to this article:  http://wp.me/p3xLR-ox

Meeting: Civil Liberties in the Time of Obama

“Civil Liberties in the Time of Obama”
Tuesday, March 16, 1 PM
Fireside Room, Unitarian Center
1187 Franklin St (betw. O’Farrell, Geary), SF
Free, Wheelchair OK
A SF Gray Panther Program, Public Invited

As with war, Obama has been disappointing on civil liberties issues, such as the extension of the Patriot Act, extraordinary renditions, military tribunals, detentions without charges, not charging the architects of torture, not closing Guantanamo, and failure to intervene in the cases of Mumia and Lynne Stewart.

Similarly, Obama has been disappointing on immigration issues, such as family separations, widespread ICE raids, mass firings, police checkpoints, continued immigrant detention and deportations, and a network of secret detention facilities violating basic rights and needs. Meanwhile an immigration reform bill is being introduced that promises to arouse more controversy.

Angela Chan, a lawyer from San Francisco’s Asian Law Caucus, a leading advocate for civil liberties, will describe the impact of some of these trends, especially for San Francisco’s Sanctuary City policy.

Ms. Chan has been active in fighting the deportation of immigrant youths arrested for felonies without any investigation of whether the arrests were based on facts or simply racial profiling by the police. Many of these charges were later dropped, but the youth are already deported to countries where they often have no family support.  In response to community outrage, Supervisors passed an ordinance that bars turning over juvenile immigrant arrestees to ICE unless subsequent hearings establish the arrestee was actually guilty, but Mayor Gavin Newsom has refused to implement this law.

Read more: http://tinyurl.com/y9c8t8w

short link to this page:  http://wp.me/p3xLR-nH

Obama administration backs John Yoo, Bush torture memo author

Obama administration lawyers are once again supporting the dismissal of a civil case brought by a victim of illegal detention and torture during the Bush administration, filing a “friend of the court” brief on behalf of John Yoo, the notorious draftsman of Bush’s “torture memos.”  Earlier this year, Obama administration lawyers supported the dismissal of suits brought by victims of CIA “extraordinary renditions,” targets of government eavesdropping, and detainees transported from the Middle East to US military bases in Afghanistan.

World Socialist Web Site, December 12, 2009

Padilla v. Yoo: Obama administration backs appeal of Bush torture memo author

By John Burton

Obama administration lawyers under the direction of Attorney General Eric Holder are once again supporting the dismissal of a civil case brought by a victim of illegal detention and torture during the Bush administration.

On December 3, Department of Justice attorneys filed an amicus curiae “friend of the court” brief on behalf of John Yoo, the notorious draftsman of Bush’s “torture memos,” in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which reviews federal court decisions in the western United States.

The brief urges a reversal of District Judge Jeffrey S. White’s refusal to dismiss the case brought against Yoo by Jose Padilla, the US citizen held incommunicado and tortured for over two years after his arrest at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

Earlier this year, Obama administration lawyers supported the dismissal of suits brought by victims of CIA “extraordinary renditions” (See “Obama administration defends torturers”), targets of government eavesdropping (See “Obama administration seeks to block lawsuit over illegal wiretapping”), and detainees transported from the Middle East to US military bases in Afghanistan (See “Obama moves to block court access for detainees in Afghanistan”).

And once again the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s argument is the claim that courts have no power to review executive decisions—even incarceration without due process and accompanied by torture—when justified in the name of the “war on terror.” This attack on the fundamental checks and balances underlying the US Constitution apes the police-state arguments used by former attorneys general John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzalez, and other Bush administration lawyers, to justify their attacks on democratic rights following the September 11 attacks.

US agents first arrested Padilla on May 8, 2002 as a “material witness” for a New York grand jury. A month later, on the eve of the hearing on his motion for release, Ashcroft held a sensational press conference, accusing Padilla of planning “to build and explode a radiological dispersion device, or ‘dirty bomb,’ in the United States.”

Bush designated Padilla an “enemy combatant”—a category with no legal precedent—and he was shipped to a South Carolina brig. After two-and-a-half years of legal challenges mounted on his behalf by lawyers not even allowed to meet or communicate with their client, in November 2005 the “enemy combatant” designation was abruptly dropped and Padilla was transferred to a civilian jail, an action taken to head off an imminent Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of his detention.

New criminal charges were then filed that had no connection to the original allegations. Padilla was tried with two other men in Florida, and was unjustly convicted of conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism. He is now serving a 17-year sentence while he appeals his conviction. (See “US ‘enemy combatant’ Jose Padilla sentenced to 17 years in prison”.)

Padilla sued Yoo, who presently teaches law at the University of California’s Boalt Hall, in San Francisco federal court. Yoo brought a motion to dismiss the case last March, which also was supported by Obama administration lawyers. (See “Obama administration backs immunity for author of Bush torture memos”.)

Last June, however, the motion to dismiss was denied by Judge White, a 2002 George W. Bush appointee.

Judge White’s ruling detailed Padilla’s two-and-a-half years in the brig. Conditions included “extreme and prolonged isolation,” “deprivation of light and exposure to prolonged periods of artificial light,” “extreme and deliberate variations in the temperature of his cell,” “threats to cut him with a knife and pour alcohol into the wounds,” “threats to kill him immediately,” “administering … psychotropic drugs against his will,” “shackling and manacling for hours at a time,” “uncomfortable and painful (or ‘stress’) positions,” “introduction into his cell of noxious fumes that caused pain to the eyes and nose,” “loud noises at all hours of the night,” “constant surveillance, including during the use of toilet facilities and showers,” “denial of access to the Koran,” and “deprivation of medical care for serious and potentially life-threatening ailments,” among other acts of barbarism.

Judge White reviewed the principal documents Yoo had prepared to give the Bush administration pseudo-legal justification for Padilla’s treatment, including an October 23, 2001 memorandum that “the Fourth Amendment [the provision of the Bill of Rights that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures] does not apply to domestic military operations designed to deter and prevent further terrorist attacks,” and that just as “wartime destruction of property does not involve a ‘taking’ under the Fifth Amendment, it seems safe to conclude that the Court would not apply the Fourth Amendment to domestic military operations.”

Judge White also cited a January 9, 2002 memorandum outlining Yoo’s analysis that treatment of Al Qaeda and Taliban members is “not governed by the bulk of the Geneva Conventions, specifically those provisions concerning POWs.”

Following a meeting of Bush’s war council in July 2002, in which Yoo and others “discussed in great detail how to legally justify pressure techniques proposed by the CIA, including waterboarding, mock burial, and open-handed slapping of suspects,” according to Judge White, Yoo prepared his infamous August 1, 2002 “torture memo.”

“Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death,” Yoo wrote. “For purely mental pain or suffering to amount to torture … it must result in significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years.”

Finally, Judge White cited a March 14, 2003 memorandum that approves the use of mind-altering drugs during interrogations. This document states that Yoo “had received assurances from the Criminal Division of the Justice Department that prosecutions would not be brought against interrogators, reinforcing the point that even federal officials who committed war crimes or torture under federal criminal statutes would escape responsibility for their crimes.”

“The Court notes the irony,” Judge White wrote, “of [Yoo’s] position: essentially, the allegations of the complaint are that Yoo drafted legal cover to shield review of the conduct of federal officials who allegedly deprived Padilla of his constitutional rights. Now, Yoo argues that the very drafting itself should be shielded from judicial review. Padilla’s allegations here are that the creation of such legal cover was itself an unconstitutional exercise of power.”

Judge White denied the motion to dismiss, ruling that “Like any other government official, government lawyers are responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their conduct.”

Urging the Ninth Circuit to reverse this common-sense, democratic ruling, the Obama administration brief argues, “There can be little question that the claims here directly implicate war powers of the President, with respect to the military’s detention and treatment of those determined to be enemies during an armed conflict, that have never been the subject of money-damages actions in our nation’s long history.”

“Padilla was detained by the military upon the decision of President Bush to designate him an ‘enemy combatant,’” the brief adds. “He claims that the military detention was unconstitutional and seeks money damages from Yoo for having advised that it was lawful…. If enforced, [Padilla’s claims] would create a large shadow over sensitive matters of military discretion.”

The Obama administration lawyers do not mention that the suit actually seeks nominal damages of $1 along with a declaration that his detention and torture were illegal.

On the subject of torture, the Obama administration lawyers added that “a court would have to inquire into what the conditions of Padilla’s military confinement were and as to what interrogation techniques were employed against him.”

In other words, the courts have no power to review the claim of a US citizen—seized while lawfully walking through an airport, and thrown into a brig for more than two years of torture, without access to an attorney, much less a court of law—all because the executive branch declares the action related to an undefined, never-ending “war on terror.”

As a substitute for meaningful judicial review based on the claims of unlawful detention and torture victims, the Obama lawyers offer the following pathetic alternative: “That is not to say that the actions of a Department of Justice attorney providing advice should go unchecked. Department of Justice attorneys, if they abuse their authority, are subject to possible state and federal bar sanctions.”

There is no “federal bar,” and Yoo does not maintain a license to practice law in California, as professors are not required to do so. Regardless, an administrative procedure undertaken against one’s professional license is a far cry from a lawsuit brought by a person who actually suffered through years of wrongful confinement and torture.

The Obama administration position could not be more clear. Despite slogans of “change” bandied about during last year’s presidential campaign, Obama’s Department of Justice embraces the same policies articulated in the Yoo memoranda: that military measures, unbridled either by the Constitution’s Bill of Rights or by the Geneva Conventions, can be used against anyone the executive branch labels a “terrorist,” even US citizens on US soil.

The author also recommends:

Obama administration preparing order for indefinite detentions
[29 June 2009]

“Law & Order” episode makes case for prosecution of Bush administration torturers
[2 October 2009]

US Supreme Court Justice Scalia defends torture
[21 February 2008]

shortlink = http://wp.me/p3xLR-j6

Free Lynne Stewart!

Protest the Jailing of Lynne Stewart.   One of the first victims of the Patriot Act, she was convicted of aiding and abetting terrorism in the course of her legal work. Based on her years of defending the most exploited, and government infringement of attorney-client confidentiality in the case, she was sentenced to only 28 months of detention, and was freed on appeal.  Now, at age 70 and battling breast cancer, she has been ordered to jail, and her sentence is being reviewed to be increased. Read more.

SF Gray Panther Newsletter, December, 2009
Lynne Stewart’s Appeal Denied

Lynne at the SF Gray Panthers

Lynne at the SF Gray Panthers

After a long career representing the poor, oppressed and unpopular, radical attorney Lynne Stewart has been sent to jail. On November 17, a federal appeals court upheld her 2005 conviction of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists and ordered her bond revoked. It also faulted District Judge John G. Koeltl for failing to issue a finding on whether she had committed perjury, and ordered him to review the mitigating circumstances that led him to sentence her to 28 months rather than the 30 years requested by the government. .

In the many years since charges were brought against her, the Gray Panthers have participated in nation-wide support and fundraising efforts for Lynne. In a typical political analysis of the events, she said the decision’s timing, “coming as it does on the eve of the arrival of the tortured men from the offshore prison in Guantánamo,” carried a message. “If you’re going to lawyer for these people, you’d better toe very close to the line that the government has set out.”

To send Lynne a letter, write:

Lynne Stewart, #53504-054
MCC-NY
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007

Read SF Gray Panthers page on Lynne Stewart

Jeff Mackler wrote:

Dear Friends of Lynne Stewart,

I just got off the phone with Lynne Stewart a few minutes ago, that is, late Wednesday (early Thursday, November 19, New York time).  She bravely told me that she has been ordered to report to U.S. Federal Marshals to be imprisoned at 5 pm, Thursday, November 19.  There will be a 4 pm NY rally of her supporters, who will escort her to the courthouse for imprisonment.

In San Francisco, we will rally on Monday, Nov. 23 to protest Lynne’s frame-up trial and imprisonment.  Be there!  (See above.)

Background:

Following the November 16 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit that rejected Lynne Stewart’s appeal of her 1995 frame-up conviction on five counts of aiding and abetting terrorism, Lynne’s legal team as well as the federal district court were in a quandary as to how to proceed.  (Lynne has been a leading civil and human rights attorney for 30-years.  She is a member of the National Lawyers Guild and a member of the Continuations Committee of the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations.)

The Second Circuit made what amounted to an unprecedented decision to not only affirm her conviction and reject her appeal but to order that her bail be revoked and that she be remanded to prison.  But lacking clear orders as to who would carry out this decision and when it would happen, the last two days have seen Lynne appear, along with her supporters at two rallies in her defense and numerous press conferences and interviews while judges and lawyers tried to ascertain what to do.  That decision has been made and Lynne will begin serving a 28-month prison term.

However, the Second Circuit’s 2-1 decision also remanded the issue of the length of Lynne’s sentence back to Judge John Koeltl’s Federal District Court ordering Koeltl to reconsider the 28-month jail sentence that he originally imposed.  Obviously furious at the relatively short duration of the sentence, the Second Circuit accepted the prosecution’s assertion that Koeltl had not properly considered the question of whether or not Lynne has perjured herself during her trial.  If that were to be determined, according to the Second Circuit, the length of Lynne’s sentence could be extended.  The single dissenting judge went further — expressing his outrage at Lynne’s relatively short sentence and suggesting that a qualitatively longer sentence be imposed than the majority contemplated.  The government originally demanded a 30-year sentence!

Still fighting, Lynne’s attorneys will ask the Second Circuit for a delay in her incarceration based on Lynne’s scheduled December surgery.  Here too, Lynne guesses that this will be denied, with the court holding that prison facilities are adequate for any medical needs that Lynne, a diabetic with hypertension and recovering from breast cancer surgery, may have.

Meanwhile, a new sentencing hearing before Judge Koeltl is scheduled for December 2 at the Foley Square Courthouse.  Federal prosecutors are expected to ask for the maximum sentence possible.  Also appearing in court will be Mohamed Yousry, Lynne’s innocent co-defendant and translator.  Koeltl was also ordered to reconsider Yousry’s 20-month sentence.  The prison term of a third defendant in Lynne’s case, Ahmed Sattar, who was sentenced to 20-plus years, was not challenged.

At this point we can only speculate as to whether Judge Koeltl will stand by his original sentence or be pressured by the Second Circuit to extend Lynne and Mohammed’s sentences.  The judge is known to carefully consider his sentences.  Close observers believe that he is unlikely to bend and impose a longer sentence.

Should Koeltl refuse to add additional years to Lynne’s prison term, the government is expected to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Government prosecutors and obviously the Second Circuit are outraged that a “convicted terrorist” has been walking around the streets for the past five years, free to champion her own cause and those of all others who suffer political repression.  It was clear from Judge Koeltl’s short sentence and high praise of Lynne’s record as an attorney and human being, a “credit to her profession,” said Koeltl during the sentencing hearing, that he felt compelled to take his distance from the government’s desire to put Lynne, 70, in prison for what would amount to the rest of her life.

Lynne will appeal the Second Circuit’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.  She has repeatedly stated that her prosecution and persecution are consciously orchestrated by the government to chill the defense bar, that is, to instill the fear of government prosecutions into any attorney who seeks to afford alleged terrorists or others who are victims of unjust government persecution a vigorous and dedicated defense.  Lynne points to the upcoming U.S. prosecution efforts of Guantanamo prisoners as a prime example.

For further information contact: Jeff Mackler, Coordinator, West Coast Lynne Stewart Defense Committee 510-268-9429, <jmackler@lmi.net>.  Mail tax-free contributions payable to National Lawyers Guild Foundation.  Write in memo box: “Lynne Stewart Defense.”  Mail to: Lynne Stewart Defense, P.O. Box 10328, Oakland, CA 94610.

Lynne Stewart is charged for her actions acting as attorney for blind Egyptian cleric named Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, who is accused for the basement bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.  Further investigation of this bombing shows that operatives for Federal agencies were involved in setting up this action.  Read more here.

Pregnant Latina forced to give birth in shackles by Arpaio deputy

Phoenix New Times, October 20, 2009

Pregnant Latina Says She Was Forced to Give Birth in Shackles
After One of Arpaio’s Deputies Racially Profiled Her

Forced to give birth in shackles

The bleeding kept her up all night, drenching her black-and-white-striped jail uniform.

Alma Chacón feared her baby would arrive early. Her nightmare had started with a traffic stop a day earlier. She’d been weeping since. “What if the baby is born here, in the jail?” she thought.

In the afternoon, she was shackled and transported to Maricopa County Medical Center, where she gave birth in a “forensic restraint.” She couldn’t hold her baby daughter or kiss her. She could only watch as hospital personnel carried the infant out the door. She wouldn’t see the baby for 72 days.

Her case raises questions about the use of racial profiling by Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies during traffic stops, but, most importantly, sheds light on the mistreatment of unconvicted immigrants inside county jails.

Chacón retells her story inside her trailer home in Queen Creek. Outside, her children play in the shell of a home under construction. It’s Chacón’s dream townhome, and she’s been building it a block at a time.

She looks younger than 35; her long, black hair rains straight to the small of her back. The immigrant from Durango, Mexico, has quiet tears. She came to America when she was 16 on a tourist visa and never looked back.

No one promised it would be easy. Tamale sales and housecleaning have barely enabled her to feed her children. The father of the first four of her kids died six years ago in a car accident.

Fear of deportation was always a normal part of Chacón’s life in Queen Creek. The town, with a population of 23,000 on the outskirts of Maricopa County, has a contract with the Sheriff’s Office for police services. Like many immigrants, she drives slowly so she doesn’t attract suspicion.

But that didn’t help the afternoon of October 12, 2008, when she came head to head with a sheriff’s deputy. It was a Sunday and she was on her way to cash a check at the grocery store. Giselle, her 8-year-old, was along for the ride.

“He looked at me, did a U-turn, and got behind the car,” she said of the sheriff’s deputy. “There wasn’t time to check my plates.”

When he came to the driver’s-side window, she handed him her Mexican consular card.

“When are you due?” the deputy asked in English.

“October 21,” she answered.

Minutes later, he put her in handcuffs. There were two warrants for her arrest.

Turns out Chacón owed more than $1,000 in fines for driving without a license and had a misdemeanor shoplifting charge. She said that because she isn’t allowed to get a driver’s license because of her undocumented status, she wasn’t able to earn money to pay the fines. She had to drive, she said, to work and support her children. She said even the shoplifting charge came because, after her husband died, she was desperate and stole food to keep her children alive.

“If someone doesn’t come and pick up your daughter in 30 minutes, I’ll call CPS [Child Protective Services],’ the deputy told her.

A neighbor picked up a sobbing Giselle.

“That’s when the nightmare inside the nightmare began,” she said.

She spent her first night at the Fourth Avenue Jail on a cold cement bench. The following day she was taken to the Estrella jail.

During her second night behind bars, the bleeding started. On the morning of October 14, she felt contractions. Her hands and feet shackled, she was in labor and ushered into a paramedic’s van by a detention officer who restrained her to the stretcher.

“That’s not necessary,” the paramedic told the officer.

“It’s my job,” the officer responded. The guard was a Latina.

She thought she would be released from the shackles once she arrived at the hospital, but she wasn’t.

The officer chained her ankle to one leg of the hospital bed.

A nurse requested that she be freed to get a urine sample. But the officer suggested instead that her bed be dragged over to the bathroom.

Later she was changed from her jail uniform into a hospital gown.

“The officer chained me by the feet and the hands to the bed,” she said. “And that’s how my daughter was born.”

Baby Jaqueline was delivered at 9:25 p.m. and weighed 6.28 pounds. Chacón stared at her daughter as nurses cleaned her. It was a precious eight minutes, she said. But they didn’t allow her to hold the baby.

When questioned later about the incident, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said, “I wasn’t the one who kept her from holding the baby. Ask the hospital.”

Sheriff’s Office policy states that jail inmates be restrained for “security reasons in an unsecured facility,” said Jack MacIntyre, an MCSO deputy chief. McIntyre said a 12-foot chain link was attached to Chacón’s leg.

“Let’s assume someone is faking labor — that’s a hypothetical — and she then chose to escape and hit or assault the hospital staff,” McIntyre said. “She could do that easily because it’s an unsecured area.”

Sentenced, pregnant state prison inmates are treated better than un-sentenced ones in Maricopa County jails. Arizona Department of Corrections policies state: “A pregnant woman will not be restrained in any manner while in labor, while giving birth, or during the postpartum recovery period.”

Hospital records mentioned that Chacón had a forensic restraint on her ankle. Doctors turned down a request from New Times to talk about her case, even after Chacón gave consent for the release of her medical files.

Over the following weeks, after she was back in the county lock-up, her breasts swelled and hurt. Jail guards wouldn’t give her a breast pump. Nor would they give her enough medication to make the pain stop. She got one dose of pain medication a day, no matter how extreme her discomfort.

She worried about her four children, who were left alone in the care of her 17-year-old son, William. She said the baby’s father, her boyfriend, had left her after he found out she was pregnant.

“I felt so sad to see her children alone,” said Chacón’s mother, Maria Gómez, who arrived from Durango, Mexico, with a visa four days after her daughter was arrested.

Gómez took care of Chacón’s new baby, who had been picked up at the hospital by a family friend.

On October 29, a judge let her go but told Chacón she’d be on probation for two years, during which time she must pay all her remaining fines.

She waited 14 extra days in jail to be picked up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“[ICE officers] took me to the Florence Detention Center, where they treated me much better,” she said. “At least not like an animal.”

There, she refused to sign a document for her voluntary removal from the country.

The story of an immigrant mother’s struggle to care for her children was told repeatedly on Spanish-language radio. People in her community raised $3,000 needed to make the bond set by an immigration judge, and she was released from custody.

Chacón’s hopes are up these days. After almost 20 years in the country, she may have a strong case to stay with her five children — who are all U.S.-born and therefore American citizens. Her attorney filed a motion to cancel her deportation, and now she’s hoping to get a work permit.

It’s been a year since the arrest (baby Jacqueline just turned 1).

“I’m not afraid to come out with my story,” she said. “But I’m disappointed to see that not much has been done to stop [Joe Arpaio].”


Archives

Categories

RSS Gray Panthers in the News

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 589 other followers


%d bloggers like this: