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Mumia speaks to Yale Rebel Lawyers

first_imgFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this On Feb. 1, students at Yale Law School courageously rescinded their invitation to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner to be a keynote speaker at their Rebel Lawyers (Reb/Law) Conference of Feb. 15-16. This decision came after Krasner chose to appeal a court ruling that would have given political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal access to new Post Conviction Act Relief hearings. In Krasner’s place, the students invited Abu-Jamal to address their conference. The following is a transcript of his recorded speech.  Dear Friends at Yale Law School, Dear Rebel Lawyers — On a Move!When I think of the term “Rebel Lawyers,” the first things that come to mind are jailhouse lawyers. They are, by definition, rebels who oppose the prison-industrial complex, especially the courts. Jailhouse lawyers fight for freedom, for themselves and others, and sometimes they prevail. Some jailhouse lawyers, like John and Mo Africa of the MOVE Organization, defended themselves at trial and won acquittals. Because such men and women aren’t trained in the law, and do their work using logic and sheer will, they fall under the description of Rebel Lawyers. But I’ve got a feeling that this isn’t what students at Yale Law think of when they use the term. If you’re really interested in that subject, I urge you to see my book, “Jailhouse Lawyers.”Let us return to Rebel Lawyers, but with a peculiar twist. Two revolutionary leaders — Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela — went to law school, but found that law, and the systems they lived under, were so corrupt, so biased, so dominated by unjust political elites that they learned that their very society had to be radically transformed before the law could be functional. The two men are rarely thought of as lawyers, even though both studied law, and one even briefly practiced it. Castro went to law school under the Cuban dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista — a tool of U.S. imperialism and a supporter of the American Mafia. Mandela earned his law degree under the racist National Party, which ruled South Africa with brutality and what they called “apartheid” — Afrikaans for “separateness,” a system of domestic colonialism that deprived all Africans of their most fundamental human rights. Both Castro and Mandela rebelled against such unjust systems and joined revolutionary movements to try and reform those societies. They are the very epitome of Rebel Lawyers. Unless I’m dead wrong, I don’t think there is a Fidel or a Nelson in this audience. But I’ll be glad to be wrong.The next rebel lawyer is a little closer to the mark. He is Clarence Darrow, who lived during the late 19th and early 20th century. He was a brilliant lawyer, a socialist back when millions of Americans voted for socialists, and an atheist. In 1902, Darrow went to the Cook County Jail in Chicago and spoke to the prisoners there about law. Here’s a little something of what he said: “See what the law is. When these men — the rich — get control of things, they make the laws. They do not make the laws to protect anybody. Courts are not instruments of justice. When your case gets into court, it will make little difference whether you are guilty or innocent, but it’s better if you have a smart lawyer. And you cannot have a smart lawyer unless you have money. “First and last, it’s a question of money. Those people who own the Earth make the laws to protect what they have. They fix up a sort of fence, or pen, around what they have, and they fix the law so that the fellow on the outside cannot get in. The laws are really organized for the protection of the men who rule the world. They were never organized or enforced for justice. We have no system for doing justice. Not the slightest in the world.”Those are the words of Clarence Darrow, one of the original Rebel Lawyers.In September 1925, Dr. Ossian Sweet of Detroit, was charged — and convicted — of murder, after shooting at a mob of whites assembled to attack his home for being a Black man who dared to move into a white area. When he was granted a retrial, Clarence Darrow took the defense case and won an acquittal. You law students should read the closing arguments, for you will read some of the finest arguments ever made in an American courtroom. I leave that to you, if you’re interested. Now I use Darrow as a model for rebel lawyers for a reason. You, as law students, have a wealth of doors open before you. Indeed, some of you will go into prosecutors’ offices and work to help build and strengthen the bulwark of mass incarceration. Why? Because the lure of power is powerful!How do you think mass incarceration came to be? Was it a mistake? No. Back during the early 1980s, neoliberals took power in major American cities and waged war on Black communities, led, more often than not, by Democrats like Philadelphia’s first Black mayor, Wilson Goode, who brought the infamous MOVE bombing into being. Shortly before him, District Attorney Edward Rendell would join with former Mayor Frank Rizzo to give his blessing to the Aug. 8, 1978, attack on MOVE. Several years later, Rendell would announce an end to the prevailing prison system by saying that prisons would no longer do rehabilitation. Their job, he said, was incapacitation.Thus we saw the so-called drug war achieve hyper status, with neoliberals joining conservatives to enact mass incarceration on a scale the nation and the world had never seen before. It should not therefore surprise us that Pennsylvania has the highest number of juvenile lifers on earth. Bipartisanship between neoliberals and conservatives built the monster we now call “mass incarceration.” No so-called “progressive prosecutor” can or will un-build it. That’s because it took the entire system — DAs, judges, cops, defense lawyers and prison administrators, not to mention the media — to collaborate on a monstrous project like mass incarceration. Only mass resistance can abolish mass incarceration. In other words: only a mass movement. Movements like Black Lives Matter or, for that matter, Reb/Law — movements of law students who stay engaged after they become “lawyers” and say “no” to monsters like mass incarceration and its architects. That’s why it’s important to make note of Darrow’s early days. He began his career as a corporate lawyer and made a pretty penny representing the people he would later call “the men who rule the world.” But his 1894 meeting with socialist activist and leader Eugene Victor Debs was transformative. Darrow resigned from his corporate clients and,  at serious financial sacrifice, began representing those who opposed the economic elites.He represented Debs at a federal espionage trial four years later and lost. But Darrow — socialist, anti-racist atheist — had begun his long walk as a rebel lawyer. He opposed the death penalty and represented 100 clients facing death — and never had a single one go to death row.And speaking of the death penalty, I want you to know that this isn’t my first trip to Yale. For in 1991, the Yale Law Journal published my essay, called “Teetering on the Brink between Life and Death.” It’s in Volume 100. One of my lawyers was exulted, saying, “I made law review!” I calmly replied, “Hmm, you’re right! And I didn’t take a class.”I thank you for inviting me back and welcome the work to come to abolish mass incarceration. From Imprisoned Nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.last_img

Journalist victim of execution-style killing, third this year

first_img March 11, 2013 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Journalist victim of execution-style killing, third this year Crime reporter Rodrigo Neto de Faria became the third journalist to be murdered this year in Brazil when he was gunned down on 8 March in Ipatinga, in the southeastern state of Mina Gerais. A Tweet by human rights minister Maria do Rosário suggests that the federal authorities regard it as an execution-style killing probably linked to his work.Two gunmen shot Neto twice in cold blood as he was walked toward his car after leaving a bar he regularly visited with a colleague. His attackers did not take any of the professional equipment he had with him.A crime reporter for two regional news outlets, Rádio Vangarda AM and the daily Vale do Aço, Neto recently said he had received threats and had been followed. His reporting had led to his giving testimony to the Minas Gerais state assembly’s human rights committee in which he accused police officers of involvement in criminal activity.“We are pleased that the Minas Gerais authorities have assigned a dozen civilian officials to investigate this murder, and that the federal authorities are following the case,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Suspects have reportedly already been arrested. Given the sensitive nature of some of the stories he covered, priority should be given to exploring the possibility that police officers were involved in his death.“This murder has again drawn attention to the extreme danger that journalists run when they dare to cover alleged corruption or police links with organized crime. Two journalists – André Caramante and Mauri König – had to flee the country last year and, although they have since returned – their cases are further evidence of the need for a thorough overhaul of certain police forces.”­ Follow the news on Brazil Receive email alerts RSF_en BrazilAmericas Organisation Help by sharing this information News News to go furthercenter_img 2011-2020: A study of journalist murders in Latin America confirms the importance of strengthening protection policies News May 13, 2021 Find out more BrazilAmericas Alarm after two journalists murdered in Brazil Reports April 27, 2021 Find out more RSF begins research into mechanisms for protecting journalists in Latin America April 15, 2021 Find out morelast_img

Journalist given two months suspended prison sentence

first_img Receive email alerts News to go further News RSF_en Follow the news on Croatia CroatiaEurope – Central Asia December 2, 2020 Find out more November 23, 2020 Find out more News Ten RSF recommendations for the European Unioncenter_img News July 15, 2004 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Journalist given two months suspended prison sentence Help by sharing this information Use the Digital Services Act to make democracy prevail over platform interests, RSF tells EU Organisation Reporters Without Borders said it was deeply shocked after a court in Split, southern Croatia, sentenced state TV and radio journalist Ljubica Letinic to a two-month suspended prison term for defamation of a local businessman. Letinic, who is also a Reporters Without Borders correspondent, had accused Jozo Parcina of corruption during a talk show on the main television channel on 18 March 2002. Her case will now go before the appeal court in Split.The international press freedom organisation said the sentence conflicted with UN and Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) recommendations that press offences should not be punished with prison sentences.”As Croatia became an official candidate for European Union membership last month, this sentence goes against all progress in press freedom in the past few years,” said the organisation.In its 2004 annual report, Reporters Without Borders highlighted the fact that Croatia had, with a view to European integration, carried out major but often controversial legislative reform of the media. As a result the law on defamation remains out of line with European and international standards.The last prison sentence for a press offence was imposed on 23 December 2002 against Ivo Pukanic, former editor of the weekly Nacional, who was sentenced to two months in prison suspended for one year for threatening Ivic Pasalic, a former political advisor to the late President Franjo Tudjman. CroatiaEurope – Central Asia RSF and 60 other organisations call for an EU anti-SLAPP directive June 2, 2021 Find out morelast_img

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