Category Archives: Spring 1999 (5/18/99)

Max Sentence for SF Pie-throwers

Un-masked Biotic Baking Brigade (BBB) operatives Gerard Livernois, Rahula Janowski and Justin Gross were each sentenced to the maximum six-month jail sentence on February 25 for their November 7 pieing of San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown to protest Brown’s high handed, anti-poor policies. While Brown makes sweetheart deals with developers, spends millions to benefit the rich and powerful, and practices not-so benign neglect towards San Francisco renters who make up the majority of the city, the poor and homeless are literally dying on the streets.

Despite the crisis on the streets, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith found the BBB’s actions, not Brown’s and the political elites, to be criminal and deserving of a maximum penalty. The judge cited the unrepentant attitude of the defendants and the need to deter others in support of his decision to hand down the maximum sentence. BBB operatives are reportedly concerned at Brown’s unrepentant attitude as well.

Janowski and Gross were immediately taken to San Francisco County jail, while Livernois is temporarily out on $20,000 bail while he considers an appeal. The three were convicted of battery but acquitted of assaulting a public official in a January jury trial.

Despite the harsh sentences, BBB operatives consider the action against Mayor Brown extremely effective at raising issues rarely mentioned in the current climate of rising stock prices and glittering developments. Agents of the BBB have informed Slingshot that the struggle against business as usual will continue! To support BBB activities, contact Friends of the Biotic Baking Brigade, 3288 21st Street, #92, San Francisco, CA 94110, 415 267-5976. Contact the BBB by e-mailing BBB_apple@hotmail.com.

Please support the BBB comrades while they are in jail. They will probably serve at least 4 months of their sentences, and won’t be out until June at the earliest. You can visit them on Saturday or Sunday (and other times). Call the jail at 415 522-8109 to find out about visiting hours. You’ll need an ID and no outstanding warrants. You can also put money on their books so they have money to spend while they’re inside. Bring cash to the 1st floor of the Hall of Injustice, 8th & Bryant.

You can also write letters of support to Rahula and Justin in jail: Rahula Janowski, #1818075, 8EPOD, 425 7th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103; Justin Gross #1818071, County Jail 8, B-POD, 425 7th St., SF, CA 94103. Also, call the SF District Attorney at 415 553-1754 to express your outrage.

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist presently on death row. In 1981 he was elected president of the Association of Black Journalists in Philadelphia; as such he consistently exposed police violence and misconduct against the black community.

In 1982 Jamal was sentenced to death for the killing of police officer Daniel Faulkner. Since then, post- conviction relief appeal hearings have made public the false evidence, police coercion of witnesses and fabricated “confession” that were used to convict Jamal in a blatantly unjust trial.

The evidence in Mumia’s case points to his innocence.


Why Did the State Target Mumia?

Advocates for Mumia Abu-Jamal’s freedom have claimed that he was convicted because of his political beliefs. We think it would be useful to provide some concrete evidence for this assertion:

Since Jamal joined the Black Panther Party, at the age of 15, the FBI and the Philadelphia police amassed hundreds of pages of surveillance files on Jamal for his opposition to racism and police brutality.

When he became a journalist, he was a consistent critic of the system and was the only member of the press in Philly to consistently bring the truth to the public about police atrocities committed against MOVE.

According to Ramona Africa, a surviving member of the bombing of a MOVE house in 1985, the news that a MOVE member’s infant son had been killed by the police, made Jamal take a closer look at the reprehensible treatment of the organization by the police.

“Mumia’s first contact with MOVE came in 1976, and to this day, Mumia says he always feels bad about the situation. My sister’s (Janine Africa) three week old son was killed by the cops, deliberately knocked from her arms and trampled to death on March 28, 1976…Mumia heard about it, and he had talked to officials, and the officials were saying that it wasn’t true, that there wasn’t a baby [because there was no official record of birth]. But we had birthed babies naturally at home…

“Mumia was very skeptical about it, but he did come out and talk to MOVE people; and what ended up happening is to really prove to people that the cops did kill our baby. There was a dinner one night at MOVE headquarters and some reporters were invited, some politicians, a couple of city council people, and a few members of the clergy were invited. After dinner, they were shown the baby’s body, and they were messed up. And when Mumia found out about it and realized that there was in fact a baby that had been killed by the cops, he was hurt and upset that he had been skeptical of MOVE and had leaned toward believing the system.

“He started coming around MOVE more and more and covering MOVE trials, MOVE demonstrations, and confrontations that MOVE had with the police. He was the only reporter that told the true about MOVE,” said Ramona Africa.

Such activity did not make Jamal the flavor of the month with “Phillies finest.”

In an 1992 interview from death row in Huntington Prison, Pennsylvania, Jamal said, “…when the confrontation started heating up in Philadelphia in 1977 and 1978-and it was really a very naked level of repression that the Philadelphia police heaped on MOVE-I could not help but draw attention to that, as a reporter. The acting mayor of Philadelphia at the time, Frank Rizzo, and his police started a siege against a MOVE house in Powelton Village in 1977. The siege lasted over one year. By the end, police cut off all water and electricity to the house, but people from the neighborhood and supporters from the city supplied MOVE with the basic necessities. Finally, on August 8, 1978, more than 700 policemen stormed the house. During their action, one policeman was hit in the crossfire of his colleagues. Nine MOVE members who were arrested in the house were later charged and convicted of having jointly killed this one cop. They were all sentenced to 30-100 years in prison, despite the fact that the judge admitted that he didn’t know who had shot the cop.”

Mumia Abu-Jamal was targeted by the state because he was consistent and effective in exposing the lies the police were propagating in order to justify the unjustifiable brutality meted out to MOVE. Mumia Abu-Jamal was monitoring the cops and exposing their misconduct. Therefore, Jamal is, in part, a martyr for the movement for police accountability, which is why many that oppose police brutality are fighting for his freedom. It is imperative that we defend those who face reprisal for activity that we advocate.

Militants of the Peace and Freedom Party have organized and participated in community outreach programs so that people that have never heard of Mumia Abu-Jamal can become familiar with this case: we helped plan and organize the December 12, 1998 “Free Mumia” march and rally in Oakland, which was attended by over 1,000 participants . Recently, members of the Peace and Freedom Party were asked to speak at a number of churches in the Bay Area about Mumia’s case.


Mobilize the Power of the Working Class

In the struggle to free Mumia Abu-Jamal we are up against some powerful institutions: the courts, police organizations (like the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police), corporate owned politicians, etc. To win such an important battle we have to know our enemies, we also need to know the source of our own strength. The capitalists who rule this society are dependent on scores of millions of workers who make this system run, and who can also bring this system to a screeching halt. That is the source of our power, and we must learn how to use it.

On November 2, the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET), who had been working without a contract for over a year and a half, went on a one-day strike against the American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which is owned by the Walt Disney Inc. The next day they were locked out for three months by ABC-TV. During this time, Mumia Abu-Jamal refused to allow a scab ABC crew to interview him, this in turn has lead to many unions opening their doors to Jamal supporters and many unions passing resolutions in support of Jamal’s principal stand and his cause. Already, labor councils in Alameda, San Francisco, and Seattle, just to name a few, have passed resolutions calling for a new trial for Jamal. To help turn these resolutions into concrete actions a Labor Action Committee has been formed in the Bay Area, composed of class conscious and active trade unionists.

When a warrant for Jamal’s execution was signed in June 1995 by Pennsylvania governor Ridge, there was enormous opposition form worker organizations worldwide. In South Africa almost all of the main unions joined the movement to save Jamal. In Italy and France, national labor federations took up his cause. Journalist unions throughout the world weighed in for their fellow writer. Recently, February 19, 1999, I received the following information:

“The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) fully supports the call for national and international actions on April 24, 1999 around the two central demands: (1) Stop the Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal and (2) For a Fair Trial Now!

“The WFTU will mobilize its affiliates and associates in 130 countries in this campaign…

Fraternally, Alexander Zharikov,General Secretary, WFTU” When the Oakland’s teachers union, the Oakland Educational Association, voted to hold a Teach-In about Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Death Penalty there was considerable controversy. The event drew criticism from a member of the Oakland School Board, Noel Gallo and Oakland NAACP President, Shannon Reeves, a staunch Republican. They both argued that the Mumia Teach-In would divert students from their academics studies. Union members argued that a study of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case in particular and the death penalty and judicial system in general would only enhance the academic skills of the students.

Then, just days before the teach-in, an Oakland police officer was shot and killed. Oakland Police Chief Samuels and City Manager Robert Bobb et al, with the help of the media, began to systematically propagate the “bright idea” that if Oakland teachers went ahead with their teach-in, it would be an act of disrespect toward the slain cop’s family. Despite this cynical attempt to derail this important event, the Oakland teachers voted to go ahead with the Teach-In and successfully carried it through. This was a victory for movement to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal.

In addition, the public debate generated by this ill-fated attempt to prevent the children of Oakland from learning about this vital issue has turned Mumia Abu-Jamal into a household phrase. For nearly two weeks articles about the Teach-In could be found in the pages of the local and national press.

Similarly the forces of reaction got egg in their faces (and considerable publicity for Jamal’s cause) when they tried, in vain(!), to stop the benefit concert for Jamal put on by Rage Against the Machine.

Why is it that the authorities in Oakland and elsewhere in America, don’t want young people, or any people for that matter, to learn about the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal?

For the past two decades the American ruling class has increased the exploitation of the working class and cut back all social programs that helped the poor. Therefore, the powers that be clearly understand that they are sitting on top of some very unhappy campers. They live in fear that a spark of social protest could start a social explosion. That is why they have vastly increased the powers of state repression, including frame-ups.

At the same time, the ruling class recognizes the need to maintain the illusions that the judicial system-the cops, courts, and prisons-are neutral and fair. They know and fear that the illusions in their judicial system are being threatened by the fact that more and more people are finding out about the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an innocent man on deathrow. The ultimate injustice! They know that if we study and understand what happened to Mumia we will better understand how this system really works, who it works for — and who it doesn’t work for.

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case is an indictment of the system. That’s why the powers that be don’t want the people to know about him.

Nonetheless, Mumia continues to speak out against injustice from inside prison walls, despite efforts by the Philadelphia Police and the national Fraternal Order of Police to stop him. Ironically, years after Mumia began to speak out against the Philly police, the U.S. Justice Department was compelled to investigate and prosecute elements of the department for brutality and corruption, resulting in the imprisonment of a number of cops (including the officer in charge the night Jamal was arrested) and the release of many of their frame-up victims. It is not likely that Jamal will be released in this manner. It is up to us to build a movement so powerful that the political price will be too high for the American rulers to execute this innocent man.

FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL!

Panther Reconvicted Stacked Jury

Albert Woodfox, longtime Black Panther Activist at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, was re-convicted in December of the 1972 murder of a prison guard. On February 23, he was sentenced to life without parole. Despite a long paper trail of evidence suggesting a frame-up by Angola autho6tes, a mostly white jury took only about five hours to convict Woodfox of the crime.

Prior to his retrial, Woodfox had served over 24 years in solitary confinement. Now that he has been sentenced, he fully expects to be returned to Angola’s isolation unit.

Fellow Panther Herman ‘Hooks’ Wallace was also convicted of the murder. Serving his 27th year of continuous solitary confinement, Wallace, without a lawyer, is still trying to win a reversal of his original conviction (as a result of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, Wallace may have less than one year to submit a federal petition for writ of habeas corpus.

In 1971, Woodfox and Wallace founded a chapter of the Black Panther Party at Angola. Up to the point the guard, Brent Miller, was killed, the Panthers assembled a stellar record as inmate organizers. Among their proudest achievements was their campaign to end the rape and prostitution that dominated Angola’s inmate culture.

The Angola Panthers made a campaign against sexual slavery the centerpiece of their efforts to improve prison conditions. Realizing that disunity among inmates was the biggest obstacle to organizing against the authorities, the Panthers risked their lives to protect younger, weaker inmates from sexual predators.

Within a short time after its formation, the Angola Chapter of the Black Panther Party was attracting large crowds to its meetings on the yards. The Panthers held political education classes for their fellow inmates and organized their dormitories and tiers on a collective basis.

Of course, – the Panthers’ success in organizing inmates posed a grave threat to the corrupt administration of the prison. Angola, which is a massive amalgam of old plantations whose slaves came from the African country of the same name, was guarded by an all-white staff, many of whose families had lived on the prison grounds for several generations. Guards, or “free folk” as they are called, reflecting Angola’s slaveholding past, had devised many schemes by which to divert Angola’s resources for their own enrichment. Most notably, free folk often stole prison- grown food, which was intended for inmates’ mouths, and gave it to their families or sold it in town.

The Panthers worked to expose such graft, and, predictably, incurred the wrath of the good old boy administration. So, when Officer Miller turned up dead, stabbed 32 times, on April 17, 1972, Woodfox and Wallace were natural targets.

Only one person, an inmate named Hezekiah Brown, claimed to have witnessed the murder. Originally, he said he could not identify the killers, who were wearing handkerchiefs over their faces. However, after a few days of grilling by investigators (and, we now know,. the promise of a payoff), Brown identified’ Wallace and Woodfox, along with two other inmates, Chester Jackson and Gilbert Montegut, as the killers.

Woodfox was tried alone and convicted in 1973. The other three defendants were tried together. On the second day of trial, Chester’ Jackson returned from lunch with the prosecution team, announcing he had made a deal. After being allowed only a half hour to regroup, the defendants’ lawyer cross- examined his former client, Chester Jackson. Despite his obvious conflicts of interest, the defense attorney was forced to proceed, and Wallace was convicted. Montegut was acquainted. Even An ola’s then-warden, C. Murray Henderson, now admits that Montegut was framed for his perceived “militancy.”

In 1992, Woodfox finally succeeded in having his conviction overturned. Lacking a lawyer, his briefing was prepared by fellow Panther Robe@ “King” Wilkerson. (Wilkerson has also spent 27 years in isolation, convicted of killing a prison rapist).

When the state convened a grand jury to reindict Woodfox, it stacked the deck in its own favor. One of the grand jurors, Anne Butler, was married to C. Murray Henderson, the warden who presided over the original murder investigation. Together, the two had written a book about Angola, entitled Dying to Tell. The first chapter is about the Miller lolling, and it presumes the guilt of Woodfox and Wallace. Nevertheless, and despite Woodfox’s objections, Butler was allowed to serve on the grand jury. (in a bizarre case of poetic justice, Henderson was sentenced in January to 50 years, convicted of attempted murder alter shooting his wife, Anne Butler, five times.)

Woodfox’s December trial was marked by prejudicial testimony and an overwhelming lack of evidence. No physical evidence linked Woodfox or Wallace to the murder. A bloody fingerprint found near Millees body matched none of the defendants. Despite having on file the fingerprints of every Angola inmate, investigators made no effort to find out who the print belonged to.

Because they could produce no physical evidence, the prosecution relied on inflammatory evidence of Woodfox’s political beliefs, as well as the testimony of two inmates, both of whose credibility is in doubt. The state’s star witness was inmate Hezekiah Brown. Now dead, Brown testified at the original trials that he saw Woodfox, his face obscured, stab Miller. At December’s trial, his testimony was read to the jury. We now know that Brown was paid for this testimony. Internal DOC memoranda show that Warden Henderson promised Brown one carton of cigarettes per week in exchange for his testimony. In addition, by 1974, only five years after Brown had been sentenced to death for aggravated rape, the Warden, the District Attorney, the Deputy Sheriff, and other prosecution officials were campaigning for immediate and unconditional release for Brown. Brown finally received clemency, and was released, in 1986.

At Woodfox’s December trial, the state’s other star witness was inmate Leonard ‘Specs’ Turner. When he took the stand, Turner denied having any – information implicating Woodfox. However, the prosecution was allowed to impeach him with an unsigned, undated statement, in a guard’s handwriting, in which Turner allegedly stated that he saw Woodfox and Wallace fleeing the murder scene.

Facing the rest of his life in solitary confinement, Woodfox somehow maintains his spirit of unending struggle. Only hours after his sentencing, he said, “This revolutionary is as strong as ever, and will continue to baftle no matter what.”

For more information, or to offer support (especially legal help), contact the Angola 2 Support Committee, P.O. Box 15644, New Orleans, LA 70175, (504) 227-5946. The Prison Activist Resource Center is hosting an Angola 2 website at www.prisonactivist.org/angolatwo.

Euro Challenged by Dutch group

As has been demonstrated clearly since the current global pastry uprising began in October, pies fly when you’re having fun. Our brave and noble Dutch comrades of the fighting unit called TA.A.R.T, who claimed they were “inspired by the Californian based group Biotic Baking Brigade,” have struck another blow against neoliberalism and globalization.

Holland – January 4, 1999 Dutch minister receives banana-vanilla pie in his face T.A.A.R.T. strikes again!! Today the actiongroup T.A.A.R.T. (Dutch for PIE), surprised the Dutch finance minister Gerrit Zalm with two delicious vanilla-banana pies (100% organic) in his face. With this action we want to celebrate his contribution to the introduction of the euro: one of the most undemocratic, megalomanic plans imposed on the population this century. Also, we want to congratulate big business, that finally succeeded in creating the unified coin – euro-, after years of lobbying in shady organizations like the Association for a Monetary Union and the European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT). The euro, the crown on the Internal Market – also a corporate initiative realised by european politicians.

What are the objections of T.A.A.R.T. against the euro?

1. For years now, the EMU project (Economic and Monetary Union) has been an excuse for politicians and the corporate world to annoy the European population with budget- cuts and reorganisations. Because we had to be ready for the euro and catch up with the EMU chteria! In the future, downsizing, public spending cuts and reorganisations will become structural policy, thanks to the Stability Pact. Governments have to balance their budgets according to this pact, and are not allowed to spend too much money on, for example, social secuhty and health care. If not, they will be punished by the omnipotent and unaccountable European Central Bank. The euro – we’re all going to pay for this. Or, talking in Zalm- speak: “we have to increase the safety margins”.

2. For the business world, the euro offers lots of advantages, but European citizens won’t taste the benefits. Just like always, Europeans will have to pay for using cash points, changing money and bank transactions. All the euro propaganda with which the government harassed us (tv ads, billboards, government leaflets, free info lines, newspaper advertisements etc) prove to be based on lies. The euro offers beautiful possibilities for companies to increase their monstrous profits. A strong, stable currency; a uniform, transparent market…. European politicians are trying their very best to create the most ideal circumstances for companies. Like Dutch Bank director Nout Wellink explained: ‘maintaining the Stability Pact is crucial for the trust of the private sector”.

3. Entirely according to European Union traditions, the European population was not included in the decision to introduce the euro. The euro will be for all of us, the European Commission says, but no-one voted for it! Just a few countries had a referendum on the subject. Dutch politicians must be thinking the population is too stupid to have a say in this. And now we are told -like we are little children – to be very happy with the new currency. What a shame!

4. The euro is the next in a series of megalomanic plans, thought out by euro- fanatics who only think in terms of economic growth, ideal circumstances for companies and the competing power of the EU. The European Union is beginning to look more and more like an economic- monetary dictatorship in which European politicians obediently realize the wishes of corporate Europe, at the cost of european citizens.

T.A.A.R.T. does not feel sad about the disappearing of the Dutch Guilder, but opposes a unified Europe in which monetary and economic interests prevail, without the population having any say in this. T.A.A.R.T. is in favor of true international cooperation, not based on money and corporate interests, but on solidarity, hospitality, fair trade and true democracy.

No to a europe of bankers and companies!!! International solidarity instead of euro- dictatorship!!!

Making Science Serve the People

Science is currently the domain of government military interests and large-scale industry. The establishment controls the funding for scientific research, and hence gets to decide what type of research is done. The ruling class maintains power by not funding projects that put science to work bettering the lives of oppressed people. Medical research supports the health concerns of rich people (plastic surgery, laser eyesight correction), while ignoring the high infant mortality rate for babies of color and the low life expectancies on Native American reservations. Lesbian health needs are not yet on the horizon of mainstream gynecological research. Geologists can often only find jobs in the oil industry; little funding is available for investigating claims of contaminated soil and water made by environmental justice organizations. “Pure science”, or research for truth’s sake, is not exempt: The Department of Defense and the Department of Energy disproportionately fund “pure” research in areas such as optics and plastics development in anticipation of new weapons materials. The current science is a vehicle of oppression.

But science can be a powerful tool in the construction of a liberated society. Converting science from a corporate puppet to a process accessible to all people will deal a major blow to the capitalist information-based economy. Science and the resulting technology have built the current exploitative “information age.” We must take science back. Science must not be seen as a force of oppression, but as a tool that can be used for liberation. We must re-channel science to clean up the social and environmental legacies of the current industrial/information society, and to support a new society where science contributes to all communities. Applied research can focus on topics ranging from public transportation to contaminated land and water cleanup to health care suited to each individual. Basic science research should be pursued with respect for the natural world it seeks to understand, and only after critical consideration of possible applications of the research.

The creation of a science that works for all people requires that people from all sectors of society understand and participate in science. The corporate elite can control science because the general public perceives science to be the mystical realm of experts. The establishment perpetuates the myth that science requires a higher level of intelligence, and that science is most easily done by people who are white and male or who “think like men.” In response to mainstream feminism and race-related civil rights battles, the military and corporate controllers of science have established several scholarship programs targeting women and people of color. However, recipients of the fellowships are frequently required to work for the military/corporate sponsor for at least a short period after graduation, and are thus sucked into the corporate science system through the promise of job security. Most people not from backgrounds of privilege are tracked away from science through racist and classist educational systems, and through media manipulation of the scientific process which feeds the elitism bestowed upon the scientist.

In fact, science can be done by anybody. The type of reasoning used in science is not inherently oppressive, male, or white, but can be used by anybody in everyday actions such as finding the fastest route to work or determining the best combination of groceries while shopping on a budget. People working on engines in shops use skills and thought processes called scientific when done by a Ph.D. Children have an innate experimental ability in their creativity, questioning, and theory-testing. The process of identifying herbal medicinal treatments is as scientifically valid as research done in the medical establishment. Indigenous and independent farmers do science as they identify the growing conditions and soil types that best suit certain plants.

Empowering people of diverse backgrounds to learn science is essential to reclaiming scientific knowledge and tools for everybody’s use. Equally important is the restructuring of the funding process. Research must no longer be funded by organizations within the military-industrial complex. Funding must be delegated by bodies directly responsible to the people. One suggestion is a committee of people chosen possibly at random and representative of all populations within an area. The committee would listen to presentations by research groups seeking funding, and would award funding after investigating multiple views on a project. The money would be public in origin, and the people would have to be generally satisfied with the research to keep contributing money. Research would then be truly responsive to the community’s needs.

Ideas for new research projects:

  • Birth/sperm control taken by men

  • Alternative sources of energy

  • Better mud control methods at construction sites

  • City lights that cause less light pollution

  • Studies of the ecology of all parts of the earth, and how humans have affected the ecology

  • Survey and remediation of contaminated water sources

  • Corporate Ads Go to the Beach

    It looks like the next target for corporate advertisements are the beaches of Florida, where Skippy peanut butter has already successfully steam rolled its image onto a stretch of beach half a mile long and 200 ft wide. Beach towns from Miami beach to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to Wildwood, NJ and Jones beach on Long Island are considering this tactic in return for profits made by selling “ad space” in the sand. From an ecological standpoint, steamrolling advertisements into the sand is probably more environmentally friendly and more ecologically efficient than using billboards (no paper, ink, etc.). However, from a basic human-who-wants-a-break-from-consumer-corporate-run-around-standpoint, this dream-induced marketing ploy (inventor Dori literally spruced the idea from a dream) only serves to remind us that corporate advertisements and the steady push for consumerism has risen to intolerably obnoxious heights in modern America. Who wants to think about Skippy peanut butter every time they go to the beach? What sort of state is the world in that a person’s self worth is directly linked to how well they as a worker can provide ideas for their corporation? Hopefully the human species can someday escape the strange notion that life spirals around working an 8 hour day only to buy, work again, to then again buy more consumer goods for the rest of their lives. 5000 pressed images of Skippy peanut butter jars strewn along the coastline …how many dollars are your dreams worth?

    Topless in Idaho

    March is a cold month to bare breasts, but northern Idaho women can be topfree thanks to a recent court ruling. On November 30, 1998, Second District Judge John Stegner in Moscow, Idaho, dismissed indecent exposure charges against Lori Graves, Natalie Shapiro, and Stacy Temple.

    The charges originated from last summer, when the trio was arrested in downtown Moscow for baring their breasts. On a 90 degree day in July, the three women walked through Moscow with five male friends who had their shirts off. Tired of wearing their shirts in the sweltering heat, the women removed them also.

    Seconds later, a police car pulled up. Two police officers asked the women to put their shirts on. When asked if the men had to put their shirts on as well, the officers said no. “When pressed for a reason why, he said ‘it’s not normal behavior for ladies to go topless in society,’” said Graves. “I responded by saying ’100 years ago, it wasn’t normal behavior for ladies to vote.’ He then said ‘you’re distracting people and children might see!’ He didn’t get it.”

    The officers decided to charge the women with breaking Section 1-16 of the Moscow City Ordinance, Indecent Exposure, which stated that “no person shall willfully expose his or her person or the private parts thereof in any place where there are other persons likely to be offended or annoyed thereby.”

    The officers, when asked about men’s private parts, responded with “men’s parts are public, women’s parts are private.” “It was clear to us that the law was non-gender specific and ambiguous, yet the officers chose to selectively interpret it,” noted Temple.

    Finally, the women were arrested, taken to the local jail-still topless-and arraigned and released, pleading not guilty. The judge set a $115 fine if the women were found guilty.

    The trio immediately enlisted the help of Moscow attorney James Siebe. Their defense was that the law was vague and violated the 14th Amendment to the US. Constitution because it violated women’s right to equal protection under the law.

    The judge agreed, dismissing the charges and ruling that the term “private parts” did not include the female breast and that the term “your person” was unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous.

    According to the Lewiston Morning Tribune, the prosecutor has already drafted a new ordinance that would prohibit “pubescent female breasts below the top of the areola” in public, but an exception would be made for breast-feeding. It is unknown if or when the Moscow City Council will decide on it.

    It was once illegal for men to be topfree. That all changed following a 1930s movie in which Clark Gable removed his shirt. Soon men were removing their shirts in public, and were arrested. Judges started throwing out the cases, recognizing the inherent right of men to be topless. That’s what we need to do to change a law. We need to challenge unjust laws by breaking them. That generates attention and controversy and makes people question why the law exists in the first place.

    June 18, 1999: International Protest Against Corporate Domination

    People around the world are currently organizing what may become the largest international protest ever against economic globalization, the process by which corporations are forming an international dictatorship of commerce that supersedes the interests of workers, the environment and freedom.

    On Friday, June 18, 1999, people on every continent will simultaneously take the struggle against corporate domination to the heart of global economy: the financial districts, stock markets, banking centers and offices of multinational corporations. Now is the time to get involved in this international effort by organizing a protest in your community or joining ongoing efforts.

    In many cities including San Francisco, the protest will include a march, critical mass bike ride, street party, and other creative tactics, highlighting the growing links between anti-globalization activists, environmentalists, labor activists, cyclists and everyone interested in self-determination, democracy and people over profits. Contact San Francisco Reclaim the Streets at 415 820-3226 to get involved in organizing the event. SF RTS is hoping to work with dozens of local organizations, artists and musicians on the event. Ideas, proposals and energy are very welcome.

    The June 18 event is set to coincide with the international meeting of the G8, the leaders of the eight most economically powerful countries in the world, who are meeting between June 18 and 20 in Koln, Germany. The global protest has been proposed by London Reclaim the Streets and other British groups. London RTS organizes street parties to fight the domination of cities by the car and corporate commerce, and last year called for a global protest which ultimately featured simultaneous events in 30 cities in 20 countries.

    Groups currently discussing the June 18 international protest include the Karnataka State Farmers in India, the Rainbow Keepers in the ex-Soviet states, Process de Communidades Negras in Columbia, Friends of the Earth in Uruguay, CTERA, the Argentinean teachers Union, RTS groups in the Czech republic and Australia, the El Salvadoran textile workers union COMUTRAS, peasant movements in Mozambique and various European organizations.


    How To Get Involved.

    Contact the international June 18 discussion list by writing to J18/RTS, PO Box 9656, London N4 4JY, England or by e-mailing listproc@gn.apc.org with the message “subscribe J18discussion [your name].” Or try USJ18 coalition- ban@tao.ca.

    Or contact San Francisco RTS at 415 820-3226 to get involved in organizing local June 18 actions or for information about organizing a June 18 action anywhere else in North America. SF RTS is looking for more members and energy, so call and volunteer. SF RTS is especially seeking people involved in the labor movement, corporate accountability movement, environmental movement, anti-globalization movement, and folks in the rave scene who have knowledge about/access to sound systems for a proper street party. After some more time for discussion, a time and meeting place for the San Francisco event will hopefully be announced in April on the voice mail.

    An inspirational video about the RTS movement in England is available from SF RTS and is being screened around the Bay Area (including on public access TV) to generate interest around the June 18 event. See it on April 9, 8:30 at 3124 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley.

    Hopefully, people everywhere will come out of the woodwork to organize protests in their own communities. Every place on earth is being effected by the global economy and every place on earth has some local representative of corporate power which can be a target.

    Anti-War Protester Beaten, Arrested and Charged

    East Bay activist Nick Frabasilio was assaulted and arrested by the Berkeley Police at a December 17 march against the bombing of Iraq. As of press time he faces three misdemeanor charges: participating in a riot, failing to leave the scene of a riot, and resisting an officer. There was no riot.

    Frabasilio was clubbed in the face by Officer Craig while on his back not resisting arrest with two other officers on top of him. He was taken to Highland Hospital in custody where he received 5 stitches for a punctured cheek.

    The incident came towards the end of an entirely peaceful 3-hour demonstration when the police refused to allow the crowd to march back up University Avenue, instead forcing them onto small, dark. quite residential streets. Police reports from the incident contain numerous lies by Officer Craig to justify the beating and arrest. Fellow arresting officers Morizono and Kassebaum support the lies in their reports. Defense has submitted an obtained video which disproves many of the falsifications.

    A pretrial hearing is set for March 10 at 9:30 a.m. in Berkeley Municipal Court, Department __. The defense is still $200 in debt for legal expenses and may need more money. Send checks to: Nick Frabasilio P.O. Box 4169 Berkeley, CA 94704.

    Celebrate May Day in San Francisco

    This year marks the second annual Reclaim May Day festival. Last May Day five thousand people-participated in Reclaim May Day, an event to renew the honoring of International Workers Day. This year housing, homeless, community, labor and historical groups will be coming together to celebrate and also to oppose the assault on the poor and working people of San Francisco.

    The modern May Day honoring workers came about because of the events in Chicago 1 886. the Haymarket Riot. 1 886 saw much agitation for the eight hour day with Chicago being particularly active. In the previous five years there were an average of 150,000 workers involved in strikes in each of those years, but in 1,886 500,000 workers participated in strikes. May 1 st saw strikes called nationwide and 350,000 workers went on strike. Every railroad in Chicago was shut down and most industry was non-functional. On May 3rd, in front of the McCormick Harvester Works, strikers and sympathizers were fighting scabs. the police fired into the crowd of strikers, killing four and wounding several. A meeting was called for the next evening, to be held at Haymarket Square. About three thousand people were there and by all accounts it was peaceful. Toward the end of the meeting it started to rain and much of the crowd was leaving. At this time about 180 cops showed up to disperse the crowd . In the midst of this a bomb was thrown, exploding near the cops, killing seven and wounding sixty- six. No one knew who threw the bomb, but the call went out to round up known anarchists. Eight anarchists were arrested for the crime even though only one was at Haymarket Square that day and he was speaking when the bomb went off. There was no evidence against any of the eight arrested but they were all convicted and five were slated to hang.

    Internationally, meetings were held to try to put pressure on Illinois to free the Haymarket Eight, but to no avail. Just a year later, 1887, four anarchists, Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer and George Engel were hanged. The fifth, Louis Lingg, died by his own hand in his prison cell. The three others we eventually pardoned.


    Reclaim May Day

    Saturday, May 1st

    11 a.m. on Dolores Park
    Events include:

  • May Day Picnic, Performances by
  • San Francisco Mime Troupe,
  • Shaking San Francisco,
  • Art and Revolution Collective.
  • May Pole Dance by
  • Reclaiming Collective.
  • Hundred foot
  • graffiti wall.
  • Live music.
  • Street Procession.