Friday, November 9, 2012

Janitors slated for Christmas layoff swamp City Hall » peoplesworld

Janitors slated for Christmas layoff swamp City Hall » peoplesworld

Clergy: reject ‘grand bargain,’ tax the rich

By John Bachtell
Chicago – Federal budget cuts will devastate social programs, “plunge communities into ruin and destruction, and cost lives,” charged Pastor Michael Russell, vice president of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL).

Russell was referring to negotiations taking place in Congress to avert a looming “fiscal cliff” Jan. 1, 2013 that would result in cuts of $600 billion to social programs and tax increases to working class Americans, if no agreement is reached.

“People will die if these programs are not funded,” he declared.

Forty clergy representing hundreds of congregations in churches, synagogues and mosques across Chicagoland had gathered at the office of Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) joined Russell Nov. 8.

Durbin, the US Senate Majority whip, was part of a bipartisan group of six senators negotiating a “grand bargain” to solve the $4 trillion federal deficit through benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid while cutting taxes to the rich.

Durbin has not pledged to oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare, a pledge signed by 28 Democratic senators.

The clergy are part Make Wall Street Pay Illinois, a grassroots coalition demanding Congress choose people over corporate profits during the negotiations.

To dramatize their demand, Rev. Tom Gaulke of First Lutheran Church of the Trinity smashed a golden calf, representing a rejection of Wall Street worship of the false idol of greed.

“And the God of Liberation, the God of the Bible, calls us to smash this idol of Greed, in order that wealth might not be worshiped, but rather, shared, and used for the benefit of all, especially those most in need," said Gaulke.

The action helped kick off a week of nationally coordinated protests urging Congress and President Obama to side with the people not the wealthy interests and block the cuts.

Instead, they said, allow the Bush tax cuts to the richest 2% to expire, something Pres. Obama reiterated during a White House speech on Nov. 9.

The AFL-CIO, and scores of organizations involved in the reelection of President Obama also hit the ground running days after the election to stop the cuts.

“God lays out before you the choice of life and prosperity, death and adversity. Choose today whom you will serve,” said Russell.

According to the clergy the cuts would mean in Illinois a loss of 15,000 HIV tests, 57,000 low income children will see cuts to their schools, and 300,000 women and children will lose maternal health benefits, 820 Head Start jobs will be lost and nearly 4000 children will be dropped.

The AFL-CIO blog posted a poll by Democracy Corps and the Campaign for America's Future (CAF) showing 70% of voters on Nov. 6 rejected cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

“The respondents said that protecting education, Medicare and Social Security was more important than broad cuts to reduce the deficit. More than half—58%—of the overall sample said that they felt strongly about opposing such cuts,“ said the AFL-CIO.

This supports a poll done by the AFL-CIO that showed protecting Medicare and Social Security from benefit cuts is more important than reducing the deficit (73% to 18%).

Voters believe making the wealthy pay a higher tax is more important than reducing tax rates across the board (62% to 33%), clearly showing the direction they want the country to go in.

“Fiscal budgets are not merely administrative line items, they are reflections of our most cherished sacred values whether it be in our homes, our communities or nation,” said Rabbi Bram Rosen of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston.

Rosen called any budget is immoral that cuts vital social programs to the most vulnerable as working class incomes fall while the nation’s richest 1% have seen incomes rise over the last 30 years by 224%.

“We cannot stand by on the wayside while a battle is being waged for the soul of our nation,” said Associate Pastor Barbara Morgan of St. Mark United Methodist Church. “The battle is a conflict between the values of shared prosperity and the common good on the one hand and attitude of winner take all on the other.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

From the CSO Association and the CSO Nusicians/Chicago Federation of Musicans:


(CHICAGO)—The musicians and management of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra have arrived at a tentative agreement for a new, three-year collective bargaining agreement. Ratification of this new contract is still pending by both parties—the Chicago Federation of Musicians and the CSOA Board of Trustees—at which time further details will be announced. When ratified, the new contract will take effect retroactively on Monday, September 17, 2012.

All previously-scheduled CSO activities will proceed as planned.

A press briefing will be scheduled with representatives from both parties when ratification is complete.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

CPS Lunchroom Workers Join Support Rally at Solidarity School
UNITE HERE Local 1 lunchroom workers join community organizations at rally to highlight inequalities in public schools

On Monday, September 10, 2012, approximately 25,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union walked out on strike to continue their effort to create schools – and workplaces – that can provide the best education for our city’s children. UNITE HERE Local 1, which represents 3,200 lunchroom workers in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), stands strongly with the teachers. Though we are not on strike, we have been joining picket lines and rallies wherever possible.

Chicago Public School lunchroom workers joined Action Now at a press conference, rally, and march to show support for striking teachers. The press conference was held at one of Action Now’s solidarity schools, and they marched from the solidarity school to Penn Elementary.

Just like when the lunchroom workers of UNITE HERE Local 1 reached an agreement with CPS on their own union contract in April of this year which set a course for school meals in Chicago that incorporate the input of the lunchroom workers, CPS should show that same respect to its teachers. Their voice, experience, and vision for the future of education in Chicago should be considered as teachers are frontline caretakers of the kids, and they always hold the interests of all of our children close to their hearts.

Parents and students back Chicago teachers » peoplesworld

Parents and students back Chicago teachers » peoplesworld

Monday, September 17, 2012

Walmart Warehouse Strike Spreads to Illinois

(at last report, the warehouse workers have returned to work. Actions are being planned this week in Chicago.)

Illinois Workers Walk Off the Job Following Similar Action in Southern California
IL Media Contacts: Leah Fried, Warehouse Workers for Justice,  
Mark Meinster, Warehouse Workers for Justice
CA Media Contact:  Elizabeth Brennan  213-999-2164

For Immediate Release: Monday, Sept. 17, 2012

CHICAGO --- Workers at a key Wal-Mart distribution center in Elwood, Illinois joined warehouse worker from Mira Loma, CA on strike to protest illegal retaliation and other labor abuses.  Today they will visit Walmart's regional offices in Rosemont, IL to deliver tens of thousands of signatures in support of the workers.

On September 12th, warehouse workers in Southern California walked off the job to protest their employers, NFI and Warestaff, for retaliation.  The California workers also move Walmart goods.  Follow this link for more information about the Southern California strike by workers at Walmart warehouses.
In Illinois, workers walked off the job on Saturday September 15th to protest intimidation and retaliation against workers, following the filing of a federal lawsuit on September 13th by workers against Wal-Mart contractor Roadlink Workforce Solutions for wage theft.  It is the sixth lawsuit against a Walmart contractor at their Elwood warehouse. 

We are on strike to protest violations of our rights.  We are tired of retaliation and threats every time we speak up about unsafe working conditions and other abuses”, said Eric Skoglund, a striking warehouse worker.

Wal-Mart has been harshly criticized for the legal violations of its contractors and towards its store associates.  In California, contractors at warehouses serving Walmart were fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for violations of workers’ rights and a federal judge issued several orders and injunctions in favor of the workers, including an injunction stop the mass firing of workers who had filed the lawsuit.  In Illinois, a total of six lawsuits have been filed against contractors operating in the Wal-Mart warehouse for labor violations.

Warehouse workers labor under extreme temperatures lifting thousands of boxes that can weigh up to 250lbs each.  Workplace injuries are common; workers rarely earn a living wage or have any benefits.  Warehouse Workers for Justice is an Illinois worker center dedicated to fighting for quality jobs in the distribution industry that can sustain families and communities.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

In Chicago, a movement is born to reclaim public education » peoplesworld

In Chicago, a movement is born to reclaim public education » peoplesworld

Chicago teachers: “Assault on public education needs to end here” » peoplesworld

Chicago teachers: “Assault on public education needs to end here” » peoplesworld

Striking teachers: ‘The assault on public education needs to end here’

By John Bachtell CHICAGO – “We didn’t start this fight. The assault on public education started here and it needs to end here,” declared Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU).

Lewis was speaking to a solid sea of red-shirted striking educators and their supporters Sept. 11, marking day two of a strike of nearly 30,000 teachers, nurses, librarians, counselors, social workers, aides and paraprofessionals. The teachers were rallying downtown at the Board of Education after picketing 144 facilities that have remained open during the strike.

Picket lines have been visible in every neighborhood of the city and even on highway overpasses. They have received broad public support. According to late reports, the CTU and Board of Education appeared to be making progress toward a new contract. The most contentious issues center on teacher evaluations and rehiring laid-off teachers.

Behind the disagreements lie vastly different views of public education between the union and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration. The CTU is fighting for a collaborative voice in any education reform and seeks quality, fully funded public education, with smaller class sizes, fully staffed schools and a curriculum rich in art, music, physical education and language at every school.

Teachers see their fight as bettering not only their pay and benefits, but more importantly working and learning conditions benefiting the students.

The Emanuel administration is pushing a corporate driven model of school privatization, which silences the voices of educators and community. It uses student standardized test scores as a significant factor to evaluate teachers. The result is to push out older more experienced and higher paid educators and hire young inexperienced educators who will stay on the job a couple of years. It would constantly churn low-wage workers in the system and prep it for corporate takeover.

“People from the outside have decided they know what’s best for our children. They don’t know our children or communities but they read spread sheets and work in air conditioned buildings,” she said. “They say our children don’t deserve air conditioning, social workers and paraprofessionals.” “We have more in common with our children and parents than we do with these rich people,” she said.

Lewis said class size does matter and fundamentally impacts working and learning conditions. The state legislature took away the right of Chicago teachers to negotiate on it. “When they talk about laying off teachers what they are really saying is they will increase class sizes for our children,” she said.

Solidarity for the striking teachers has been pouring in from around the country. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, brought greetings from the 1.5 million-member union, to which the CTU belongs.

“This is a struggle people all across the country are watching including New York City. During 9-11 public workers rushed into those burning buildings to rescue people. Every day in Chicago educators are rescuing children and should be treated as heroes,” she said.

“Chicago teachers are fighting for what public education should really be. Parents and kids are supporting you all across this country because they know you are supporting them,” she said. “This is a fight for all God’s children in our public schools to have a decent opportunity to learn,” said Weingarten.

After the brief rally, strikers marched on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the largest futures market in the world to illustrate the vast subsidies being handed to corporations and the wealthy at the expense of education and other public services. For example, CME and Sears received tax breaks from the state of $371 million after they threatened to leave.

In addition over $500 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is being diverted each year from schools and parks to, as one protest banner said, “feed the 1%.” In one of the most outrageous examples, $5.2 million in TIF funds was given to the Hyatt Corporation to build a brand new hotel in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Meanwhile, $3.2 million was cut from the budgets to 5 schools in the neighborhood and 27 teachers were laid off.

The Pritzker family, one of the richest in the nation, owns Hyatt. Penny Pritzker sits on the Chicago Board of Education.

“We are fighting for better working conditions because better working conditions are better learning conditions,” said a teacher. “We are trying to save public education.”

Chicago teachers rock

Chicago teachers rock

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Will the "Rust Belt" ever come back?

By Randall Smith

Recently, I was asked a question that struck me very deeply, “Will the Rustbelt ever come back?”. I didn’t find any concrete, real-time answers but did find some interesting and hopeful facts and possibilities. Let’s start by defining the Rustbelt or “Rust Bowl”, most take it to mean the industrial cities of the Mid-western States. That definition is too narrow, as the industrial decline, that started with a recession in 1979-82 travels East at least as far as Delaware Bay ( say, Chester Pa.) North to the Great Lakes, and could be argued goes across the Canadian Border, West at least to the western Borders of Iowa and Missouri, with significant decline as far as Tennessee and, the Carolinas where the textile industry was particularly hard hit.

Under that definition, having that percentage of a Nation in a chronically economically depressed condition, for over 30 years is a significant event, and at present there’s no end in sight. Most of us have some idea of the decline and suffering of cities like Detroit, or in the Pittsburgh Pa. area, but many tend to disregard the fact, that many smaller towns and cities across the region have many, if not all the same issues. The major cities in decline in the area were manufacturing hubs, for every Detroit, Gary or Youngstown, are about 100 towns and cities that made sub-assemblies, and parts for them, or if they had independent industries, they cut-back or closed due to Overseas competition, regional decline, or both. That adds up to many more towns and cities.

Let’s also separate the phrases “Rustbelt” and “Rust-Bowl”, the Rustbelt is the region, and the dominant industry was steel products. The “Rust-Bowl”, was an exodus out of the Mid-West core of the area, to the South and South-West. The phrase was inspired, by the exodus out of the central southern States in the 1930s due to Environmental and Soil conditions. Those conditions improved by the late 30's and many People came back. Many have also returned to the Industrial Mid-West, however conditions have not improved, this exodus largely ended in the mid 1980s, it continues to a very limited degree, most returning finding the prospects aren’t, now, really, any better in those locations either.

To answer the question “Will the area come back?” is complex, and contains several “ifs”.

Steel being the dominant industry in the area, it is a central issue in that question’s answer. As for today, a short answer would be in two parts, one: Not as it was, nor should it. And, two: not without significant planning and investment. This answer has an added irony, in that, in all the World, the raw-materials that make steel are in some of their greatest abundance a fairly equal, and economical shipping distance from the effected communities. It could be argued, that between the savings in mode of shipment, rail and water being many times more economical than Road-way, and the abundance of raw materials close at hand (in a Global sense, Very close), coupled with being also close, if not directly at, one of the Worlds largest markets for steel products, dictates that at some point it will. The simple availability of the resources involved, indicates that at some point it must.

One of the points made since the decline began by the managerial and financial sectors involved in the area’s Industry, has been the cost of Labor, particularly Organized Labor. Many of us who live in the effected area have come to the conclusion that the availability and abundance of resources, economy of transportation, and further economy in that regard to being directly close to a very large market, would render the cost of Labor, a small issue indeed.

 In fact, Labor costs seem to be a central issue in excuses and debates about the issue, to the point of exclusion of discussion of these other factors. If we are to offer any viable future to our Young People, possess a strong economy, and ease many of the social and economical problems the people of our nation face as a whole, the answers are in the “Rustbelt”. Just as it is said that a high tide lifts all Boats.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Playing field is tilted against voters

By Rev. Jesse L. Jackson August 7, 2012 Thrill to the vibrant gymnastics grace of Gabby Douglas, the fierce tennis power of Serena Williams, the skill of Kayla Harrison in winning the first gold for an American woman in judo. Led by Missy Franklin and Rebecca Soni and others, the U.S. women’s swimming team as of Monday had harvested eight gold medals, three silver and three bronze. The U.S. women’s beach volleyball team, the basketball team and the soccer team are still in the hunt. American women are leading the way this Olympics. It’s worth remembering why. Rules matter. Opportunity is vital. A level playing field, clear goals, fair referees all count. This success comes from the amazing talent and extraordinary hard work and discipline of these gifted athletes, supported by family and skilled coaching. But it also derives in part from what we chose to do as a society in 1972, when we included Title IX in the Civil Rights Act. Title IX outlawed discrimination by gender in any education program that received federal spending. It didn’t mention sports, but its effects were electric. A 2006 study showed that the participation of women in athletics in high school had increased 900 percent, and more than 450 in college. Once women were given a fair shot, they demonstrated what they could do. We created the rules that allowed these extraordinary talents to triumph. This week is the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Clearly, it led to the voting rights and political empowerment of African Americans and people of color who previously suffered discrimination. That act was fundamental to our demo­cracy, extending the right to vote to those who had been denied it under segregation for so long. Yet today, we are not celebrating the ex­tension of democratic rights, but witnessing the partisan constriction of those rights. In 14 states where Republicans have control, they have passed laws constricting the right to vote. Many now are requiring official photo ID, some are purging the voter rolls, some have limited the ability to help register and get out the vote, and some have limited early voting. They claim they are trying to deter fraud, but they produce no evidence of it. This is, as former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican, wrote, “A mockery of the democracy we put on display every Election Day.” As New York Times columnist Thomas Edsall concluded, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Republican Party has decided that they must “tilt the playing field to win.” In sad imitation of the poll tax and other impediments the segregated states of the South used to keep African Americans from voting, the constrictions all have a disproportionate effect on the young, minorities, the poor — those least likely to be Republican supporters. In this election — which is likely to be very close, with the outcome determined in a few states such as Florida, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania — these laws may have dramatic effect. By discouraging many from going to the polls, they could make the difference in a state where the candidates are running neck and neck. The Voting Rights Act, 47 years old this week, and the Civil Rights Act opened up opportunity. They made the rules clear and equal. They made America better. Now those seeking to rig the rules will, if successful, make America bitter. In the Olympics victories, we see the talent unleashed by making the rules fair. In our elections this fall, we may witness the poisons injected by trying to fix the game.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Victory Against Repression: Carlos Montes Court Case Ends in Victory!

From Committee to Stop FBI Repression Los Angeles, CA - On June 5, 2012 Carlos Montes’ criminal court prosecution ended in a victory for Carlos and the movement. Carlos Montes’ home was raided on May 17, 2011, by the combined forces of the LA County Sheriff’s Swat Team and the FBI, by crashing his door down at 5:00 a.m., with automatic assault rifles drawn, almost killing him.. He was charged with 6 serious felonies with a possible jail time of up to 18 years. With local and national support, via solidarity protests, call-in campaigns to President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Holder, local rallies and protests, and an offensive legal strategy , two felonies were dropped - this was a first partial victory. However the District Attorney still stated that they wanted Montes to do at least 5 years in state prison for the 4 felony charges remaining. The local and national Committees Against FBI Repression launched a petition drive and a “Call the D.A.” campaign, with phone banking and a robo call by Carlos to over 4 000 supporters, urging folks to call District Attorney Steve Cooley. The D.A.’s office was flooded with calls and letters. Montes’ attorney made several motions to get charges dropped on various grounds, but the Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejected them. Preparations were made for a trial, knowing well the state judicial system is not ‘fair and impartial.’ Montes and his attorney Jorge Gonzalez got widespread support and media coverage including in the Democracy Now TV show, La Opinion and the Guardian UK newspaper. The local D.A. on the case then sought for a resolution and proposed to drop three additional felonies, if Carlos pled out to one count of perjury. This proposal included no jail time, three years of probation and community service. Under advice from supporters, friends and his attorney Montes moved forward with this proposal. This is a victory for Carlos Montes and the movement against police political repression. A trial had the danger of him being convicted of four felonies with jail time and the additional old felony - a total of 5 felonies. At this point Carlos is out of jail, will continue to organize against repression, for public education, against U.S.-led wars and for immigrant rights. He is already planning to attend the protest at the Republican National Convention on August 27, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Next steps: The local committee with supporters and rank-and-file members of SEIU 721 will hold a victory party to thank everyone who worked on this campaign and to help pay off legal expenses. It is set for Saturday, June 23, 7:00 p.m. Details will follow. Carlos wants to thank all the people, organizations, unions and community people who worked and supported him in this struggle against police/political repression. The struggle continues to defend the 23 other anti-war and international solidarity activists who are STILL under an FBI investigation for showing solidarity with the oppressed people of the world, especially the Palestinian and Colombian people. Stay updated via:!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Latinos Vow to Continue Fighting Anti-Worker, Anti-Immigrant Governorship

Statement by Voces de la Frontera Milwaukee, WI - With Scott Walker's victory in Tuesday's recall election, it is clear that there is greater need than ever for our community to organize. Latinos in Wisconsin have been mobilizing against Scott Walker's reign since before he promised to sign an Arizona-style immigration bill if it were to ever hit his desk. Under his administration, Voces de la Frontera Action has been fighting to stop the attack on public employees’ right to organize in workplace, defend tuition equality for our state’s immigrant students, and halt the dramatic cuts to public education. In a political climate which allows unlimited campaign contribution funds, there is an unquestionable advantage for the candidate who best represents the interests of the wealthy and corporate power. Scott Walker outspent Democratic challenger Tom Barrett by a staggering ratio of 7 to 1. Walker received over 25 million dollars in out of state donations and he used it to dominate the air waves in Wisconsin, and virtually drown out any opposition. The voters and volunteers who organized a historic recall election and secured a narrow Democrat majority in the State Senate, achieved an important step in countering Walker’s destructive and divisive agenda. It was also clear that there was a high level of participation of Latino voters and South Side low-income voters. There is no question that the electoral process is not enough to challenge the anti-democratic influence of corporate America in a political system which is intended to level the playing field and give each person an equal say. Now more than ever, we must build from our organizing base and strengthened alliances to organize in the workplace, in the schools and in the community and work even harder to stop Walker’s continued assault on our working families, teachers, students, and immigrant communities. ###

Wisconsin: Walker’s $50 Million Doesn’t Sway Union Voters

Wisconsin: Walker’s $50 Million Doesn’t Sway Union Voters

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It’s about hijacking the presidency and Congress! » peoplesworld

It’s about hijacking the presidency and Congress! » peoplesworld

Window Factory Occupiers Form Worker-Run Cooperative

From United Electrical Workers (UE) May 30, 2012 For Immediate Release Contact: Armando Robles, 708-466-5648 Melvin Maclin, 773-954-8119 Leah Fried, UE Organizer 773-550-3022 A group of workers who occupied the former Republic Windows and Doors factory in 2008 and the Serious Energy factory in 2012 have taken the next step towards saving good jobs in Chicago. On May 30, 2012 the group founded New Era Windows, LLC a worker run cooperative to manufacture quality, affordable windows. Now that the business is incorporated in the State of Illinois, the workers will be able to purchase the machinery from their former employer and raise the investments necessary to start up their cooperative and begin producing windows soon. In 2008, UE members at Republic Windows and Doors occupied their factory for six days to win the wages and benefits they were owed by law. They won all their demands in a $1.75 million settlement from Bank of America and Chase Bank. They also succeeded in keeping their factory open when Serious Materials, now Serious Energy, purchased the company. In 2012, Serious Energy announced they would be closing, having never secured a foothold in the Chicago market. Once again workers occupied the factory, winning a commitment from Serious Energy to sell the business and keep the factory open an additional 90 days- until May 24th.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Caterpiller workers strike against takeback contract

By John Bachtell JOLIET,Ill. – Nearly 800 workers at a Caterpillar (CAT) plant here have been on strike since May 1 after the company refused to back off a far reaching concessionary contract proposal. The workers make hydraulic components and systems for Caterpiller tractors, wheel loaders and mining trucks and are members of International Association of Machinists Local 851. “Normally in the past, they could buy some votes by making the contract better for younger workers or better for older workers. With this contract though, everything was takeaways,” said Local 851 President Tim O’Brien. Caterpiller responded to the strike by hiring scabs to continue uninterrupted production to meet growing demand for its products in North American. Strikers dispute the company’s claim it can resume full production. “I’m out here for my wife and children” said Ted Hobsen, a union steward. “They want to raise health care premiums and cut benefits, disregarding seniority, working us anytime and anywhere and any shift. We’ve got families.” “If you freeze my wages then double what I pay for my health care, then you cut my pay,” said Joe Nuske, IAM chairman. The company, which increased profits by 44% in 2011, reportedly $5 billion, made a record breaking $1.5 billion in the first quarter of 2012. The take back proposal is part of an aggressive assault on the unions representing Caterpiller workers and the imposition of concessions in its operations worldwide. Earlier this year Caterpiller broke the Canadian UAW local at its London, Ontario operation when it locked out the 465 workers. The company then transferred the work to a non-union plant in Indiana, which recently became a “right to work for less” state. Caterpillar is demanding the Joliet workers accept a six-year contract that freezes wages, doubles health care payments, eliminates health care coverage for retirees, eliminates key seniority provisions, forces workers to accept irregular shifts and does away with the current pension in favor of a 401k plan. The company wants to reduce wages for some workers by as much as $8 per hour. In addition, the company, which employs another 1200 workers at the plant not under this contract, wants to reduce wages for new hirees, who currently earn $13 per hour. Caterpiller would set up a new rate determined by a “market based” formula. “I wouldn’t be able to afford to take my kid to the doctor,” Gareth Beeson told In These Times, “Basically thus contract wouldn’t make this job worth working anymore. I’d still pay union dues, but I wouldn’t have a good union job anymore.” Solidarity is pouring in from the labor movement and community. Strikers say they will fight until they get a fair contract.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Voces May Day Solidarity March Draws Over 20,000 Against Arizona's SB 1070

Reprinted from Voces de la Frontera Congressman Luis Gutierrez: "We will not stop until all immigrants have good health care, good education, and good jobs." MILWAUKEE-As part of a series of national protests against Arizona’s SB 1070 law, over twenty thousand people marched through the streets of Milwaukee yesterday in Voces de la Frontera’s annual May Day march. The Arizona SB 1070 law, whose constitutionality is in question in the US Supreme Court, has been widely criticized for promoting racial profiling and undermining public safety by forcing police to take the role of federal immigration officials and check the immigration status of anyone they may have "reasonable suspicion" to believe is undocumented. As Executive Director, Christine Neumann-Ortiz has described it, “the court’s landmark ruling, expected in June, will determine whether our nation will uphold the historic gains of the civil rights movement or revert back to a pre-civil rights era of second-class citizenship. This racist law only serves corporate interests: the private prisons, private bond companies, military companies at the border, and corporations that contract prison labor for less than the minimum wage.” Jennifer Martinez, a Manitowoc woman whose husband Jaime Martinez was deported to Mexico last month, gave an emotional testimony to the crowd about the cruel impact our immigration enforcement policies have had on herself and her four children when immigration ripped Jaime away from his family. Voces was joined by a coalition of groups including those representing labor unions, faith, LGBT, and more. Prior to the march, statements in solidarity were made outside the Voces office by gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Falk and NAACP President James Hall, in addition to other elected officials and community leaders. All candidates for governor in Wisconsin's upcoming recall election were invited to the event, including Governor Scott Walker. At the main stage in Veteran’s Park after the march, Congressman Luis Gutierrez (IL) fired up the crowd with a speech on family unification and the importance of Latinos participating in the voting process, and of politicians defending the rights of all people in the country. "We have to lift our voices, regardless of party, and speak for the immigrants who live here." Crowd coordinators measured the crowd filling ten full blocks at the height of the march.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


From Campaign for Better Healthcare Washington, DC—A new report from Families USA and the Campaign for Better Health Care shows that Governor Quinn’s proposed $2.7 billion one-year reduction in Medicaid spending would hurt “Illinois’ economy, its health care providers, and the Illinoisans who depend on Medicaid for health care.” The report, released today, emphasizes Medicaid cuts mean both lost jobs and lost business activity. For example, a 5 percent reduction in state Medicaid spending would jeopardize more than 7,000 jobs and cost the state about $923 million annually in business activity. A 10 percent reduction doubles those figures. Quinn’s proposed 18 percent cuts mean the potential loss of more than 25,000 jobs and more than $3.3 billion in lost business activity. Short-sighted cuts can have long-term negative effects on Illinois’ economy. Estimated Impact on Jobs and Business Activity from Cuts in State Medicaid Spending Reduction Jobs at Risk Lost Business Activity (in millions) 5% 7,208 $923.2 10% 14,416 $1,846 18% (Quinn’s proposal) 25,615 $3,280.8 Source: Families USA Medicaid Calculator “Just because Medicaid gets cut doesn’t mean that people will get any less sick or need any less medical care. With no source for preventive or primary care, patients will eventually end up in the emergency room with a more severe illness or complications,” notes Jim Duffett, Executive Director of the Campaign for Better Health Care. “Chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiac issues must be managed or the consequences can be fatal.” “Medicaid is not just a safety net. It helps strengthen families in tough times, and it provides security for the most vulnerable, such as our kids, who are the future. For those of us who have private insurance and think we are immune from drastic cuts and changes in the Medicaid Program, think again. Slashing eligibility and services will financially cost you and your family more than the political rhetoric of some who say gutting the program will save you money." Duffett explains, "The expanded cost to pay for uncompensated care is then passed on to consumers, employers, and businesses in the form of higher insurance premiums. It is estimated that, in 2008, family coverage cost $1,017 more because of higher premium charges (cost shifting) that resulted from passing along the costs of uncompensated care.” Illinois Hospital Association President & CEO Maryjane Wurth says that blunt cuts are devastating to patients and the entire health care system. “Drastic Medicaid cuts hurt everyone—not just the Medicaid patients. Hospitals will be forced to reduce jobs. Local businesses will be impacted. And hospitals will be forced to cut or eliminate medical services that everyone uses—there is not a separate set of staff, equipment and facilities just for Medicaid patients.” The cuts would be costly for the state as well, since Illinois receives slightly more than one dollar in federal matching funds for every dollar it spends on Medicaid. The federal match brings new money into the state that the state would not otherwise have. “We have workable solutions such as expanded coordinated care that will not compromise patient care,” says Wurth. “We have presented these multi-year proposals to members of the General Assembly and look forward to working with them to create a more effective Medicaid system. It’s important that Medicaid patients get the most efficient, high-quality care possible.” “The Governor’s proposed cut to Illinois’ Medicaid program is both cruelly insensitive and economically unsound,” said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. “His proposal will deny the state more than a billion dollars in federal support, cost the state billions in economic activity, put tens of thousands of jobs at risk, and hurt the state’s most vulnerable families and senior citizens. For many reasons, this is the wrong direction for Illinois in these difficult economic times.” The report is available at

Sunday, April 22, 2012


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, April 9, 2012 Media Contact AKILA WORKSONGS, Inc. April R. Silver | Chantel Bell | 718.756.8501 (office) | 646.522.4169 (mobile/text) DANNY GLOVER, FRANCES FOX PIVEN, M1 OF DEAD PREZ AND OTHERS WILL “OCCUPY THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT” FOR THE RELEASE OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL! Major Protest and Civil Disobedience Planned at the U.S. Department of Justice: April 24, 2012, 11:00 am, Washington, DC New York, NY - - A broad coalition of community organizers, activists, artists, students, scholars, celebrities, and concerned individuals will hold a national rally and protest at the headquarters of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 at 11:00 am in Washington, DC (located at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW). The purpose of the protest is to call for the release of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal on the day that is his 58th birthday. Renowned activists Frances Fox Piven, and Norman Finkelstein; actor Danny Glover; hip hop artist M-1 (of the duo dead prez); and others will engage in acts of civil disobedience at the protest. Organizers hope that the planned civil disobedience will dramatize their formal request that US Attorney General Eric Holder meet with a delegation to discuss systemic police corruption and civil rights violations in Abu-Jamal’s case and in the cases of hundreds of others across the nation. Organizers will make seven core demands of US Attorney General Holder: 1. Release Mumia Abu-Jamal 2. End mass incarceration and the criminalization of Black and Latino Youth 3. Create jobs, education, and health care, not jails 4. End solitary confinement and stop torture 5. End the racist death penalty 6. Hands off immigrants 7. Free all political prisoners Attorneys will be available to answer questions. The website is Johanna Fernandez, a professor of history at Baruch College, CUNY in New York and the filmmaker of Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, announces that the rally and protest are tied to short term and long term goals. “Our immediate goal is to have Mumia Abu-Jamal released from prison. His recent release from death row was only a half victory. Our long- term goal is to end mass incarceration. Toward that end, we have developed a project called Liberation Summer. In just a few months, we will join with others to mobilize, train, and organize thousands of people who want to see an end to the unjust criminalization and mass incarceration of African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, other people of color, immigrants, and poor communities. Mass incarceration is not the solution to social problems. Rather than criminalization, we want a world without prisons.” Background: Mumia Abu-Jamal On December 9, 1981 in Philadelphia, journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal was arrested for the killing of a Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. In 1982, he was convicted and sentenced to death row. Last year, the Supreme Court allowed to stand the decisions of four federal judges whose unanimous rulings and arguments state that Abu-Jamal’s 1982 death sentence was unconstitutional. In early December, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office decided that it would not continue to pursue a death sentence in this case and Abu-Jamal’s original sentence was commuted to life in prison without parole. Supporters of Abu-Jamal have cited the elimination of the death sentence in this case as one of the few civil rights victories in the post-civil rights era. Abu-Jamal’s demand for a new and fair trial and freedom is supported by heads of state from France to South Africa; by city governments from Detroit to San Francisco to Paris; by the Congressional Black Caucus and other members of U.S. Congress; by the European Parliament; by the NAACP, labor unions, and distinguished human rights organizations like Amnesty International; by Nobel Laureates Nelson Mandela, Toni Morrison, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu; by scholars, religious leaders, artists, scientists; and by countless others around the world. Now that Abu-Jamal is off death row, activists are demanding his release from prison. On December 9, 2011, in an event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia that marked the 30th year anniversary of Abu-Jamal’s incarceration, Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined countless others and asked the nation to "rise to the challenge of reconciliation, human rights, and justice" and called for Abu-Jamal’s "immediate release." Background: Why Rally at the Department of Justice? The police officers who shot, beat, and arrested Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1981 -- for the shooting death of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner -- were under scrutiny by a Department of Justice investigation of the Philadelphia Police Department. The probe, which began in 1979, marked the first time in the nation’s history that the federal government sued a police department for civil rights violations and charged an entire police department (rather than individual officers, with police brutality). The DOJ suit maintained that the Philadelphia police’s practices of “shooting nonviolent suspects, abusing handcuffed prisoners, suppressing dissension within its ranks, and engaging in a pattern of brutal behavior ‘shocks the conscience.’” (Philip Taubman, “U.S. Files Its Rights Suit Charging Philadelphia Police with Brutality,” The New York Times, August 14, 1979). Only days after the end of Abu-Jamal’s trial and conviction, 15 of the 35 police officers involved in collecting evidence in his case would be convicted and jailed, as a result of this federal investigation, on charges that included graft, corruption, and tampering with evidence to obtain a conviction. Chief among these officers was Alfonzo Giordano, the police inspector who led the crime scene investigation in Abu-Jamal’s case. The DOJ investigation remains unfinished: it did not provide relief for defendants like Abu-Jamal who were convicted by the testimonies and work of these corrupt and convicted cops. ENDORSED BY: International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu Jamal ● Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal ● Coalition to Free Mumia (NYC) ● Occupy Philly ● OCCUPY General Assembly (NYC) ● Occupy DC Now ● Occupy DC Criminal Injustice Committee ● Occupy the Hood ● Decarcerate PA ● Supporting Prisoners and Acting for Radical Change [SPARC] ● Millions for Mumia/Int'l Action Center ● dead prez (Sticman and M1) ● John Carlos ● Talib Kweli ● Immortal Technique ● Angela Davis ● Danny Glover ● Alice Walker ● Francis Pixen ● Amiri Baraka ● Marc Lamont Hill ● Cornell West ● Vijay Prashad ● Norman Finkelstein ● ANSWER Coalition ● Prison Radio For event information, contact Johanna Fernandez at 917.930.0804 or 215.600.6626; visit; and @A24OccupyDOJ (Twitter). Media inquiries are directed to AKILA WORKSONGS at 718.756.8501 or # # #

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Giving Private Investments Firms Control Over Infrastructure CTA Group Says Mayor's Plans Will Destroy Public Transit

From Members of Citizens Taking Action:

Members of Citizens Taking Action, an organization of comprised of transit dependent riders, voted unanimously at their monthly meeting on Monday to come out against Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's announcement of having private investment firms either own or operate public transit in Chicago. This approach calls for a "public-private partnership" for financing improvements to the infrastructure instead of the traditional methods.

Charles Paidock Secretary of the organization, said: “Public transit is a central municipal service, and we don't put money into a fare box to make some guy rich. I foresee three things happening: loss of control by the city, increased or added fares, and diminished service. You might want to add corruption on a scale never seen before. And once it's done, there's no going back. Sometimes these deals are for contracts lasting 99 years. People such as myself depend on CTA every day. It isn't something you experiment with. I fear the long term consequences. We're going to end up stranded. Remember, it's he who pays the piper who names the tune. Also, I don't think the federal, state or local governments can finanacially support a private enterprise. The system is going to end up entirely fare box dependent, with the money going for highways."

Mr Paidock added: "We were told that about $5 million dollars, or one-third (1/3) of the mayor's campaign was financed by investment firms. This looks more like it might be more of a payback than good government, or a genuine concern for providing public transit."

Another member, Kevin Peterson, said: "What is to stop the powers-to-be from cutting bus and train services to only during the rush hour, since this is when the system is most profitable? They would get rid of any routes that don't have, to use their term, a "revenue stream."

The group points out that this approach was tried not long ago by the famous London Underground, setting up a firm called Metronet, which had disastrous results. Contracts that were supposed to deliver upgrades to 35 stations over three years in fact only delivered 14, or just 40%. Stations that were supposed to cost Metronet £2 million in fact cost £7.5 million, 375% of the original stated price. After five years only 65% of scheduled track renewal had been achieved.

Metronet’s demise only cost its five parent companies £70 million each. It cost the tax payer £1.7 billion. This means each parent company has lost just 4.1% in comparison to the city. A review committee determined that the model of public-private partnerships (PPP) itself "is flawed and probably inferior to traditional public-sector management." (More Information)

The transit group has affiliated itself with another termed "Illinois Coalition to Protect the Public Commons" (ICPPC). The organization maintains that: "As we saw with the Chicago parking meters, when public assets are privatized the public pays and the private companies profit. Private companies invest for fast profits and fat bonuses. To do this, they quickly raise prices, reduce services and/or quality, replace public workers with fewer, less-skilled workers, cut back on long-term maintenance, and exploit public grants and tax exemptions."

Additional information about it is available at:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Angela Davis urges freedom for Howard Morgan

March 2, 2012

Howard Morgan urgently needs our expressions of solidarity. He is clearly a victim of the persisting practices of racial profiling by the Chicago Police Department. I urge all who value democracy and human rights to join with me and his Chicago supporters in demanding his freedom.

When Howard Morgan was stopped by the police on February 21, 2005, he had been a full time police officer for the BNSF Railroad for thirteen years, and previously had spent over eight years on the Chicago Police Force. I understand that although he immediately identified himself as a policeman, he was pulled from his mini-van and repeatedly shot until the police thought he was dead. He took 21 shots in his back as he lay supine on the street, but miraculously, he did not die. It is hard to believe that after enduring this attack, he was charged with attempted murder of the police officers who tried to kill him. After his 2007 trial, the jury found him not guilty of firing a weapon and was hung on the remaining charges. However, in apparent violation of the Fifth Amendment prohibition against double jeopardy, he was retried and on Jan. 27 of this year was found guilty on all four counts of attempted murder of a police officer.

Howard Morgan insists on his innocence and an eyewitness confirms his version of the events that led the police to shoot him. His attorneys have filed motions for setting aside the verdict. Meanwhile, he faces 40 years to natural life in prison on each of four counts of attempted murder of a police officer. The most urgent need is for bail pending his appeal. Morgan is 61 years old and in very poor health as a result of the almost fatal attack by Chicago Police. He has never missed a court date and this outrageous and unjust verdict will almost certainly be reversed. His $2 million bail, which was revoked upon his conviction, should be reinstated and he should be released so that his family may care for him.

Please act now

Please go to and join me in signing the petition for his freedom. For more details on the case go to

Free Howard Morgan! Release Howard Morgan on bail. Demand that the verdict be set aside. Free Howard Morgan NOW.

Angela Davis
Oakland, California

Chicago residents win 10-year battle for clean air » peoplesworld

Chicago residents win 10-year battle for clean air » peoplesworld

Monday, February 27, 2012

Workers win in Chicago » peoplesworld

Workers win in Chicago » peoplesworld


In response to Governor Quinn’s budget address, Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana, issued the following statement:

SPRINGFIELD, IL – In painting a bleak picture of the state’s finances, the governor’s budget proposal is another glaring illustration of why Illinois must make the rich pay their fair share in income tax.

As long as our state is a place where millionaires and greedy corporations exploit loopholes to pay effectively less in taxes than the middle class and lower-income families, we will be doomed to an endless cycle of funding shortages that lead to the kind of crippling cuts proposed today.

Just two months ago, Illinois lawmakers doled out more than $100 million in tax breaks to CME Group and Sears Holding Corp., purportedly to keep both employers in the state. Together, this giveaway totals a staggering $1 billion in the first 10 years, alone. CME earned $900 million in profits last year. For its part, Sears took its tax break and promptly announced store closures that will decimate its workforce. That bait-and-switch exemplifies how the state’s current tax policy makes winners of the rich and losers of the 99 percent. And now those losses appear destined to mount.

The proposed $2.7 billion reduction in Medicaid obligations could drastically reduce access to quality health care for working families already struggling to make ends meet in a faltering economy. It also raises questions about whether the safety net hospitals that support working class communities might suddenly find their own survival at risk. We need to protect these vital resources that provide critical care and jobs in our communities.

After the last several years of budget cuts failed to solve our fiscal woes, we should know by now that a renewal of this approach is going to yield the same result. In fact, if the economy is going to get back on its feet, we must stand up for working families – not cut them off at the knees.

We should not in good conscience heap $100 million in tax breaks on a financial colossus like CME, or a retail empire like Sears, while forcing families of modest means to give up even more in a climate of economic deprivation.

The Civic Federation and others who have advocated for drastic cuts should be asked why it’s fair to make working families sacrifice their health care and other vital needs while asking nothing more from the greedy CEOs and other corporate executives who caused our economy to implode.

This skewed approach can cause a chain reaction of inequality for the middle class and working families: They’re penalized first by an unfair tax system that goes easy on the rich, and again by budget cuts needed to compensate for what the rich don’t pay.

If we’re ever going to balance our budget in Springfield, we need to restore balance to the discussion about how to do it. That begins by shifting the focus from a cuts-only ideology to a core principle of equality: making the rich pay their fair share in taxes.

SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana unites more than 91,000 healthcare, home care, nursing home and child care workers across two states in the fight to raise standards across industries, to strengthen the political voice for working families and for access to quality, affordable care for all families.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What Rev. Martin Luther King’s legacy teaches us for today’s struggles

By John Bachtell

The tactics of non-violence championed by Dr. King created one of the most powerful movements in our history that confronted the highest echelons of economic and political power, shattered Jim Crow segregation, delivered a mighty blow to white supremacist ideology and radically expanded democratic rights, including the right to vote.

This was a revolution that changed the way millions of black, brown and white Americans thought and acted forever. It helped pierce the McCarthyite repression and inspired other struggles for women’s rights, students rights, Mexican American equality, for peace and the environment.

Those revolutionary changes reverberate to this day, helping produce a young generation that is the most racially diverse in history, potentially the most politically progressive and most anti-racist.

It’s fair to say, without MLK and the modern Civil Rights movement, there would have been no Mayor Harold Washington and no President Barack Obama, mighty victories over racism.

In his latter years, King foresaw that the US had reached a crossroads. Would the future be one of chaos, a society bitterly divided by racial hatred, class antagonism, extreme poverty and wealth, the 1% vs the 99%?

Or would it be a multiracial human community – united in brotherhood and sisterhood based on peace, equality, steeped in humanistic values in which all could develop freely on the basis of cooperation? Sound familiar?

In his fascinating autobiography “My Song,” Harry Belafonte writes that shortly before his assassination King attended a fundraiser at Belafonte’s house for the Poor People’s campaign.

That night after all the guests had left except for his inner circle, King expressed his deep anxiety over some of the narrow tactics being pushed by some in the movement including the call for armed struggle, that he saw as self defeating.

King was clearly agitated and argued the source of inequality was rooted in the system, if you had rich you also had poverty. If you wanted to end poverty you needed to change the system, which required tactics of mass movement building.

Belafonte goes on to describe MLK as a socialist and revolutionary.

In his famous 1967 anti-Vietnam war speech at Riverside Church, King said, “I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. When machines and computers, profit and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

King was advocating people before profits.

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice, which produces beggars, needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look easily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: This is not just."

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

King saw the fight for civil rights and economic rights, the fight for African American equality, of the nationally and racially oppressed and workers rights as one in the same.

“That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth,” he told an AFL-CIO convention.

When he was killed, he was in the process of uniting several struggles: the fight for equality, for workers rights and peace. He had initiated the foundation for a great social movement to “restructure society” of uniting black, brown and white with the multi-racial labor movement, what we see as vital core forces in the labor led all people’s coalition.

If King were alive today, he would see no contradiction between political and electoral action and street heat. He was well aware of their interconnection during his own lifetime. He’d see the imperative of re-electing Pres. Obama.

Therefore to preserve and continue to advance the legacy and dream of Dr. King, we must continue to fight the new forms of pernicious racism, (attacks on President Obama, anti immigrant hysteria, voter suppression, attacks on affirmative action, etc) and anti-communism, unite our class and people and deliver a resounding blow to the Republican Tea Party right wing and their ilk in 2012.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

From Wisconsin: GOP Legislature Held Secret Meetings, Solicited Unlawful Agreements While Mapping New Voting Districts

Voces de la Frontera attorneys discover violations of Open Meetings law, Wisconsin Constitution in efforts to hide state re-districting process

Attorneys for Voces de la Frontera have discovered that employees of Republican legislative leaders, working under the direction of an attorney paid by Wisconsin taxpayers, engaged in secret, unlawful activities in redesigning the state’s electoral maps in an effort to hide from the public their goal of consolidating partisan power.

A verified complaint was filed yesterday by Voces de la Frontera’s attorneys with the District Attorney for Dane County alleging violations of both Wisconsin’s Constitution and statutes governing open meetings.

The meetings were held by Tad Ottman, Senator Scott Fitzgerald’s legislative aide, and Adam Foltz, Representative Jeff Fitzgerald’s legislative aide, under the direction of Michael Best and Friedrich attorney Eric McLeod.

In addition, Adam Foltz wrote talking points for the meetings, expressly stating that the lawmakers should ignore the public justifications given for the redistricting, because they would be different than what was explained to each of them at these private meetings.

“Wisconsin citizens will not tolerate this culture of political corruption, and it will not go unchecked. The actions of McLeod, Ottman and Foltz are both legal and moral violations. They breach Wisconsin’s Open Meetings law and the state constitution’s prohibition on secret legislative activity, and undermine our long-standing commitment to open and transparent government, which is the cornerstone of a democracy,” stated Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera.

“This is one more example of a disturbing pattern of conspiratorial actions on the part of the Walker administration.”

Peter Earle, Voces de la Frontera’s lead attorney stated, “It’s now clear why Scott and Jeff Fitzgerald tried so hard to keep these documents hidden under their bogus claim of ‘attorney-client privilege.’ We now have documents that prove that the Republican leadership of the legislature was paying hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to private attorneys with the express purpose of hiding the legislative redistricting process from the public and from those legislators who had not signed secrecy agreements. This amounts to a conspiracy to violate the prohibition of legislative secrecy contained in Article IV, § 10 of the Wisconsin constitution. The conduct is repugnant to every principle of good government.”

“The only appropriate response to these serious breaches of the public trust is to throw the maps out and begin the process again in a legal and open manner," Earle added.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Howard Morgan, shot 28 times by police, found guilty!

By Ted Pearson
Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression

March 28, 2012

People were stunned yesterday afternoon when jurors, after only 3 hours of
deliberation, returned a verdict of "guilty" on all counts against Howard
Morgan for the attempted murder of four policemen. Morgan had been shot 28
times by these same policemen after a routine traffic stop at 1:00 am on
February 21, 2005 in the Lawndale community on the West Side. His $1
million bail was immediately revoked and he was taken away by Sheriff's
police, who refused to allow him to even hug his daughters in the courtroom.

The more than 25 mostly white uniformed Chicago policemen who had packed the
courtroom before the verdict celebrated the racist verdict. The Fraternal
Order of Police web site posted also celebrated their "victory," which they
called "justice for our own."

Observers noted that it is not uncommon in state criminal cases that bail is
revoked pending appeals. Attorneys representing Morgan said they would
immediately file a motion for a new trial and were considering appeals of
the verdicts in both state and federal courts.

Morgan was taken to Cook County Jail's Cermak Hospital due to his damaged
condition resulting from the police shootings. He requires assistance in
walking and regular medication.

Ted Pearson, Co-Chairperson of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and
Political Repression, witnessed much of the trial testimony. Upon learning
of the verdicts he said, "It is clear that this jury of ten white people and
only two African Americans did not take any time to reviewing nine full days
of testimony by witnesses for the prosecution or the defense. They simply
wanted to go home, so they did what was expected of them by the system -
they quickly brought back the verdict of 'Guilty.' That in itself ought to
be grounds for Morgan to be granted a new trial.

"The police who tried to murder Howard Morgan should be dismissed from the
force and the U. S. Attorney should immediately launch an investigation into
the conspiracy to cover-up this heinous crime against humanity. No one,
including the Chiefs of Police, Chicago's Mayors, and the State's Attorneys
responsible for this ongoing conspiracy should be exempt from this
investigation. Current State's Attorney Anita Alvarez especially should be
brought before the bar of justice for her role in prosecuting this racist

"This case reeks of the kind of white supremacy that shocked the nation 80
years ago when nine Black teenagers were falsely accused and sentenced to
death in Alabama for the rape of two white girls on the flimsiest of
evidence. This case calls for the same level of national and international
outrage that ultimately saved the lives of those men. People who care about
democracy and fairness will demand that Howard Morgan be freed immediately
on bail, that he get a new trial, or that the ridiculous charges against him
be dropped.

"Only a loud massive public outcry can free Howard Morgan at this point.
The criminal justice system will not do it if left alone. Just as in the
case of Angela Davis, who inspired the founding of our organization 39 years
ago and who was granted bail while being held on a capital murder-conspiracy
charge, it will take a broad and irresistible demand by the people that
Morgan be allowed to make bail during his appeals, and that the charges
against him be dropped."

For the jury the case came down to whom to believe: four white rookie
policemen who did all the shooting or Howard Morgan, the young African
American woman who witnessed the police crime, and Morgan's attorneys, both
of whom are Black. The testimony given by all the witnesses was essentially
the same as that given in Morgan's first trial 5 years ago, at which he was
acquitted of aggravated battery with a firearm in the cases of all but one
of the officers, but at which the jury was deadlocked over whether or not he
had attempted to murder them.

Charice Rush was a young teenaged woman who was out late that night in
February 2005. She testified at the trial that she witnessed what happened
as she sat in her parked car in front nbear the incident. She saw the
police pull Morgan's minivan over and with their guns drawn forcibly pull
him from the driver's seat and throw him to the ground. She said she saw
them open fire on Morgan as he lay on the ground. She said that she did not
see Morgan with a gun in his hands at any time.

Morgan is an eight-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department and a
thirteen year career policeman for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe
Railroad. He was required to carry a weapon on his job, and he normally
carried it when on his way to and from work, as proscribed by Illinois law.

Morgan himself testified that he had been on his way to a family home he was
remolding before he had to report for work at 6:00 am that day. He pulled
over to let a police squad car with its lights flashing behind him pass, and
was surprised when instead they pulled up, got out of their car and
approached his vehicle. He said they pulled him out of his mini-van in an
unprovoked attack, grabbed the gun he carried for work from his belt, and
started shooting. He tried to tell them he was a policeman to no avail. He
said he lost consciousness after several shots.

In contrast to the story told by Rush and Morgan, Policemen Timothy Finley
and John Wrigley said they first observed the mini-van driven by Morgan
going the wrong way down a one way street with its lights off. They
followed the van with their lights flashing as it made only "rolling stops"
at three stop signs after turning onto 19th St. Another squad car with
Policemen Nick Olsen and Eric White came on the scene. When the van finally
pulled over Morgan got out of the van. They got out of their car with guns
drawn and ordered Morgan to place his hands on the side of the van. As they
patted him down he turned on them, drew a gun from his waistband and opened
fire on them. They ran for cover behind their cars and returned fire until
Morgan ran out of bullets.

However, the testimony of the police, along with a lot of the evidence
presented by the prosecution, was contradictory. Some of the police
testified that Morgan ended up lying on his back. Some of them testified he
ended up lying on his stomach. No one testified that they had turned him

Photographs of the van taken by police evidence technicians all showed that
the van was parked with its lights on. The police testified that the lights
were off all the time, which is why they said they were first drawn to the

The police said they stopped firing when Morgan ran out of bullets. Officer
Eric White, however, testified that he had stood over shot Morgan and shot
him in the back and struck him in the head after the shooting stopped "to
protect my fellow-officers," as he lay on his stomach in the street.

The police all testified that several hours after the shooting they each
engaged in "roundtable" discussions about the incident with police officials
and attorneys from the State's Attorney's office.

The prosecution guaranteed that the jury would not pay attention by
presenting a seemingly endless account of every shell casing and ever bullet
fragment found at the scene in the greatest possible detail. These included
some casings and bullets fired from Morgan's own gun. Significantly, the
police identified only three of the twenty-eight bullets taken from Morgan's
body by the surgeons who treated him at Mt. Sinai Hospital. They did not
say what happened to the other 25 bullets or if they had been kept. They
also did not keep or indentify any of the many bullets that pierced the
mini-van, which they confiscated and had destroyed (crushed) before any
forensic investigation of it could be done.

Since Morgan testified that the police had taken his gun immediately, and
when everything was over that gun's bullets had all been fired, it was a
major error not to have preserved the bullets that hit Morgan and could have
established that some of them came from his own gun fired by police.

An independent observer of the proceedings would have come away with a
picture of what happened very different from that accepted by the jury.
Howard Morgan, after a dinner at home with his family where they were living
on the South Side, decided to go to the family home he was renovating in
Lawndale on his way to work that February 21 in 2005. On his way he was
pulled over by four very young, white rookie policemen just before 1:00 am.
They had been hyped up with warnings from their superiors that Lawndale was
all Black, and was a "high risk" neighborhood.

They got out of their cars with guns drawn and pulled Morgan from his car.
They threw him to the ground. One of them saw the pistol that he was
legally carrying and shouted "Gun!" Perhaps he or another officer grabbed
it from his belt. The others immediately started firing and continued
firing until they thought Morgan was dead.

They were terrible shots in their panicked state. In addition to the 28
bullets that went into Morgan's body collapsed on the ground they fired
wildly. Countless rounds pierced the side and rear of the van, and others
ended up in furniture and walls in nearby apartments. Two of their shots
wounded their fellow officers.

In other words, they panicked and went on a rampage. It is only because of
their poor shooting and, as Morgan's wife Rosalind always pints out, the
grace of God that can be responsible for the fact that Morgan was not

Once they realized that Morgan was not dead and others arrived on the scene
they had to invent a story to explain their behavior. The "roundtable"
discussions they held later that day with representatives of the State's
Attorney and the Fraternal Order of Police helped them get their stories

They charged Morgan with attempted murder of the police and conspired to
convict him, to save their careers, their department, and the City from the
millions that would otherwise be due to their victim for the permanent
damage and terrible suffering they have put him, his family, and his
community through.

Morgan's attorneys are Randolph Stone and Herschella Conyers are both
Professors of Clinical Law at the Mandel Legal Clinic of the University of
Chicago. Stone was, for many years, the chief Public Defender of Cook

People can support Morgan's legal defense by sending checks or money orders
to the Howard Morgan Defense Fund, c/o Church of God, 1738 W. Marquette Rd,
Chicago 60636.

Morgan's address is

Howard Morgan


Cook County Jail

P.O. Box 089002

Chicago, Illinois 60608