ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

August 21, 2009

2009.08.21: In Memoriam: George Jackson & Yusef Hawkins

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Friday, August 21, 2009 12:53 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: In Memoriam: George Jackson & Yusef Hawkins

George Jackson
George Jackson (August 21, 1971)

“George Jackson was originally convicted of a $70 gas station heist in his late teens and sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of one year to life. Because of his refusal to bend down and crawl on his knees, so to speak, he never again left the California prison system and was murdered by guards in the yard at San Quentin on August 21, 1971. By that time, George was a member of the Black Panther Party and a revolutionary hero to millions around the world. His book Soledad Brother is still in publication and is remarkable not only for its insights into Jackson’s life and thoughts but also for the emotionally charged writing it contains.”
–Ron Jacobs, The Meaning of George Jackson: One Big Prison Yard, Counterpunch, August 2, 2003, http://www.counterpunch.org/jacobs08022003.html

–Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1556522304?ie=UTF8&redirect=true

–Bob Dylan’s “George Jackson”
http://www.bobdylan.com/#/songs/george-jackson

–Black Panthers: What We Want!!! (3:42 min.)

–Black Panthers (1968) part 1 (9:40 min.)

–FBI destroys Black Panther Party (3:14 min.)

–COINTELPRO: FBI’s War on Black America (1/5) (9:40 min.)

–The Murder of Fred Hampton pt. 1 of 4 (24:15 min.)

——————————————————————————–

Hawkins

Yusef Hawkins (August 23, 1989)

Yusef Hawkins (also spelled as Yusuf Hawkins) was a 16-year-old African American youth who was shot to death on August 23, 1989 in Bensonhurst, a heavily Italian American working-class neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Hawkins and three friends were attacked by a crowd of 10 to 30 white youths, with at least seven of them wielding baseball bats. One, armed with a handgun, shot Hawkins twice in the chest, killing him.
http://www.answers.com/yusef%20hawkins

“Now we have a black president, a black attorney general, a black governor. But institutionally we still have, as the president has said, structural inequality in education, in health care, in policing.” –Sewell Chan, The Death of Yusuf Hawkins, 20 Years Later, NY Times, August 21, 2009, http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/21/the-death-of-yusuf-hawkins-20-years-later/

On August 30, 1989, Zuss and other members of the Brooklyn CDD Affirmative Action Committee [of ALAA] joined a Day of Outrage to protest Hawkins’ murder; the NYPD blocked and attacked marchers at the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge (second image below). –Zuss: 1986-1989 — Confronting Racist Violence, http://bobzuss.wordpress.com/2007/06/01/october-29-1988-protest-against-racist-murder-in-staten-island/

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2009.08.21: In Memoriam: George Jackson & Yusef Hawkins

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Friday, August 21, 2009 12:53 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: In Memoriam: George Jackson & Yusef Hawkins

George Jackson (August 21, 1971)

“George Jackson was originally convicted of a $70 gas station heist in his late teens and sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of one year to life. Because of his refusal to bend down and crawl on his knees, so to speak, he never again left the California prison system and was murdered by guards in the yard at San Quentin on August 21, 1971. By that time, George was a member of the Black Panther Party and a revolutionary hero to millions around the world. His book Soledad Brother is still in publication and is remarkable not only for its insights into Jackson’s life and thoughts but also for the emotionally charged writing it contains.”
Ron Jacobs, The Meaning of George Jackson: One Big Prison Yard, Counterpunch, August 2, 2003, http://www.counterpunch.org/jacobs08022003.html

–Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson
–Bob Dylan’s “George Jackson”
–Black Panthers: What We Want!!! (3:42 min.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mpFCtftF7c
–Black Panthers (1968) part 1 (9:40 min.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axhhXJqJJ-U
–FBI destroys Black Panther Party (3:14 min.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3HexApUja0
–COINTELPRO: FBI’s War on Black America (1/5) (9:40 min.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBUE0ZzUiHc
–The Murder of Fred Hampton pt. 1 of 4 (24:15 min.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn0PiDvVXDY&feature=PlayList&p=D05D6C2CD14CAE1C

Yusef Hawkins (August 23, 1989)
yusef-hawkins.jpg
Yusef Hawkins (also spelled as Yusuf Hawkins) was a 16-year-old African American youth who was shot to death on August 23, 1989 in Bensonhurst, a heavily Italian American working-class neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Hawkins and three friends were attacked by a crowd of 10 to 30 white youths, with at least seven of them wielding baseball bats. One, armed with a handgun, shot Hawkins twice in the chest, killing him.
“Now we have a black president, a black attorney general, a black governor. But institutionally we still have, as the president has said, structural inequality ineducation, in health care, in policing.” –Sewell Chan, The Death of Yusuf Hawkins, 20 Years Later, NY Times, August 21, 2009,http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/21/the-death-of-yusuf-hawkins-20-years-later/

On August 30, 1989, Zuss and other members of the Brooklyn CDD Affirmative Action Committee [of ALAA] joined a Day of Outrage to protest Hawkins’ murder; the NYPD blocked and attacked marchers at the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge (second image below). –Zuss: 1986-1989 — Confronting Racist Violence,http://bobzuss.wordpress.com/2007/06/01/october-29-1988-protest-against-racist-murder-in-staten-island/
Attachments area

August 18, 2009

2009.08.18: Racism in the Criminal Justice System

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 1:56 pm

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 1:56 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Racism in the Criminal Justice System

The Epidemic of Pot Arrests in New York City By Harry G. Levine, AlterNet Posted on August 10, 2009 http://www.alternet.org/drugreporter/141866/the_epidemic_of_pot_arrests_in_new_york_city/

Can Brutal and Racist Cops Change to Become More ‘Sensitive’?
By Liliana Segura, AlterNet.
Posted August 18, 2009.
http://www.alternet.org/story/142002/

August 17, 2009

2009.08.17: NYT Letter from Desiree Buenzle (Brooklyn CDD)

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 8:47 am

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Monday, August 17, 2009 8:47 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: NYT Letter from Desiree Buenzle (Brooklyn CDD)

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/16/opinion/lweb16poor.html

August 16, 2009

Letter

A Truth About Poverty

To the Editor:

Re “Is It Now a Crime to Be Poor?” (Op-Ed, Aug. 9):

It was such a relief to read Barbara Ehrenreich’s essay, and the answer is “yes.”

As a Legal Aid Society attorney in Brooklyn, I can confirm that the vast majority of people who are penalized, jailed, fined and surcharged are poor people of color and of Latino origins. These people are relentlessly arrested not for crimes of violence but for drinking, and publicly urinating, and walking, and talking, and driving, and selling, and just being there.

These are the so called “quality-of-life crimes.” Their perpetrators are ever-present reminders of the inequality of the society we live in. That is their real offense.

Desiree Buenzle

Bronxville, N.Y., Aug. 10, 2009

August 10, 2009

2009.08.10: The Epidemic of Pot Arrests in New York City

From: Morris, Susan
Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 3:46 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: The Epidemic of Pot Arrests in New York City

From NYCMASSDEFENSE:


The Epidemic of Pot Arrests in New York City

By Harry G. Levine , AlterNet. Posted August 10, 2009.

Marijuana possession is decriminalized in New York State. Nonetheless, New York City makes more pot arrests than any city in the world. There are two things that need to be understood about marijuana arrests in New York City.

First, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is not a crime in New York State. Since 1977 and passage of the Marijuana Reform Act, state law has made simple possession of less than seventh-eights of an ounce of pot a violation, like a traffic violation. One can be given a ticket and fined $100 for marijuana possession, but not fingerprinted and jailed. For over thirty years, New York State has formally, legally, decriminalized possession of marijuana.

Second, despite that law, since 1997 the New York City Police Department has arrested 430,000 people for possessing small amounts of marijuana, mostly teenagers and young people in their twenties. Most people arrested were not smoking pot. Usually they just carried a bit of it in a pocket. In 2008 alone, the NYPD arrested and jailed 40,300 people for possessing a small amount of marijuana. These extraordinary numbers of arrests and jailings, continuing for over twelve years, now make New York City the marijuana arrest capital of the world.

The arrests for marijuana possession first increased dramatically under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. They have continued unabated under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. By 2008 Bloomberg had arrested more people for pot possession than Giuliani, and more than other mayor in the world.

Why has the NYPD continued to order narcotics and patrol officers to make so many misdemeanor pot arrests? For many reasons. The arrests are easy, safe, and provide training for new officers. The arrests gain overtime pay for patrol and narcotics police and their supervisors. The pot arrests allow officers to show productivity, which counts for promotions and choice assignments. Marijuana arrests enable the NYPD to obtain fingerprints, photographs and other data on many young people they would not otherwise have in their criminal justice databases. And there is very little public criticism and thus far no political opposition to New York City’s marijuana arrest crusade.

Do the pot arrests reduce serious and violent crimes? No, if anything they increase other crimes. Professors Harcourt and Ludwig at the University of Chicago Law School analyzed NYPD data and concluded that the pot possession arrests took officers off the street and distracted them from other crime-fighting activities. “New York City’s marijuana policing strategy,” they reported, “is having exactly the wrong effect on serious crime – increasing it, rather than decreasing it.” Veteran police officers agree terming the possession arrests “a waste of time.” The arrests drain resources not just of police, but also of courts, jails, prosecutors and public defenders.

Perhaps most appalling is who the police are arresting for marijuana possession. U.S. government studies have consistently found that young whites use marijuana at higher rates than do young blacks or Latinos. But the NYPD has long arrested young blacks and Latinos for pot possession at much higher rates than whites.

In 2008, blacks were about 26% of New York City’s population, but over 54% of the people arrested for pot possession. Latinos were about 27% of New Yorkers, but 33% of the pot arrestees. Whites were over 35% of the City’s population, but less than 10% of the people arrested for possessing marijuana. In 2008, police arrested Latinos for pot possession at four times the rate of whites, and blacks at seven times the rate of whites.

Do the arrests violate New York State’s decriminalization law? Yes and no. Yes, they certainly violate the spirit and intent of the 1977 law which explicitly sought to eliminate the pot possession arrests and the stigma of criminal records, especially for young people. And yes, some police, in particular narcotics squads, do make some illegal searches and arrests.

But no, most of the arrests are probably technically legal. The NYPD has found easy ways to trick or intimidate young people so they allow a search, or even just take out their marijuana and hand it over to the officers.

Here’s how the police do it. NYPD commanders direct officers to stop and question many young people and make arrests for possessing “contraband.” In 2008, the NYPD made more than half a million recorded stop and frisks and an unknown number of unrecorded stops, disproportionately in black, Latino and low-income neighborhoods. By far, the most common contraband young people might possess is a small amount of marijuana.

According to U.S. Supreme Court decisions, police are allowed to thoroughly pat down the outside of someone’s clothing looking for a gun, which is bulky and easy to detect. But police cannot legally search inside a person’s pockets and belongings without permission or probable cause.

However, police officers can legally make false statements to people they stop, and officers can trick people into revealing things. So in a stern, authoritative voice, NYPD officers will say to the young people they stop:

“We’re going to have to search you. If you have anything illegal you should show it to us now. If we find something when we search you, you’ll have to spend the night in jail. But if you show us what you have now, maybe we can just give you a ticket. And if it’s nothing but a little weed, maybe we can let you go. So if you’ve got anything you’re not supposed to have, take it out and show it now.”

When police say this, the young people usually take out their small amount of marijuana and hand it over. Their marijuana is now “open to public view.” And that – having a bit of pot out and open to be seen – technically makes it a crime, a fingerprintable offense. And for cooperating with the police, the young people are handcuffed and jailed.

Before Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg, New York police rarely if ever did this to make marijuana arrests. Since 1997 the NYPD has used this procedure to make tens of thousands of marijuana arrests a year, averaging about a hundred a day, every day for over twelve years. This is more than ten times the average number of marijuana arrests the City made previously. As NYPD and New York Criminal Court data show, before 1997 marijuana arrests were less than one percent of all arrests. The lowest-level misdemeanor pot possession arrests are now over ten percent of all arrests in New York City.

New York is extreme in the number of its marijuana arrests. But other cities are also making many pot possession arrests and jailings at high rates, often using the same techniques as the NYPD. As FBI arrest data shows, this includes Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, and other cities.

Since the 1990s, the U.S. War on Drugs has emphasized making many low-level possession arrests, especially of marijuana. At least forty percent of all drug arrests are now just for marijuana possession and U.S. marijuana arrests are at an all time high. In the last ten years, the U.S. has arrested more than six million people, mostly young people, for possessing marijuana.

As in New York City, pot arrests nationally are racially skewed, racially biased. Throughout the U.S., young blacks and Latinos are stopped, searched and arrested for pot possession at much higher rates than whites – even though young whites use marijuana at higher rates.

Do the arrests harm the people arrested? Absolutely. They produce permanent, criminal records which potential employers can easily find, often on the internet. As even the New York City Health Department recognizes, “A marijuana conviction can keep you from getting a student loan, a job, a house or an apartment – even years later.” In effect, the marijuana arrests provide the young, mostly low-income blacks, Latinos and whites with a head start for unemployment and prison.

The arrests are expensive, but state and local governments do not have to pay for them all. Arrests for possessing even tiny amounts of marijuana and other drugs are subsidized by the U.S. government. Up to a billion dollars a year has been going to states, prosecutors and police departments through the Byrne Grant Program to “fight” drugs and crime. Many Democrats in Congress have been strong supporters of Byrne Grants, including Senators Joe Biden and Barack Obama.

In 2009, the economic stimulus package enacted by Congress added two billion dollars more to the Byrne Grant Program. This tripled Byrne Grant funding raising it to the highest level ever. As a result, this epidemic of racially-biased and stigmatizing marijuana possession arrests in New York City and elsewhere will grow even larger.

The Obama administration’s Department of Justice could alter Byrne grant regulations so that police departments, prosecutors and local governments cannot use the federal funds to subsidize arrests of people who possess only small amounts of marijuana. That alone could do a great deal to reduce the arrests, jailings, and stigmatizing criminal records. But police departments and prosecutors have enormous political clout in Washington. And other than a few civil liberties and drug policy reform groups, there is currently little organized opposition to the pot arrests.

Partly because of the economic crisis, some people, especially in California, have proposed that marijuana be legalized, taxed and regulated like alcohol is. Serious, broad-ranging debate about alternatives to marijuana prohibition would be a sensible, hopeful development. But marijuana legalization would constitute a huge change in U.S. drug law and is not likely any time soon. Meanwhile, the great many damaging, expensive, racially-biased marijuana possession arrests and jailings continue – even in places like New York that have legally decriminalized simple possession.

In the 1980s Barack Obama was a college student in New York City, living on the border of Harlem. He used marijuana, walked around the city a lot, and sometimes may have carried a bit of pot in his pocket. If the current policing policies of New York and other cities were in effect at that time, he might well have been arrested and jailed. If that had happened Barack Obama would not be president today.

Is this what Americans want their police to be doing: arresting enormous numbers of young people, disproportionately black and Latino, and destroying their futures, for … pot possession?

Harry G. Levine is a professor of sociology at Queens College, City University of New York. He is the coauthor of Crack in America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice, and of the NYCLU report: Marijuana Arrest Crusade: Racial Bias and Police Policy in New York City, 1997-2007.

2009.08.10: Today, 5:30 p.m.: Protest NYPD Brutality in Bx

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 9:33 am

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 9:33 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Today, 5:30 p.m.: Protest NYPD Brutality in Bx

Rally for Juanita Young and her family

Juanita Young and her family have been attacked again by the New York Police Department. Nine years ago Juanita’s son Malcolm Ferguson was killed by the cops.

Juanita Young has been an outstanding activist against police brutality and war. Last fall she was acquitted by a jury of assaulting police who invaded her home.

This latest attack on Sunday night is like the invasion of Professor Henry Louis Gates’ home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but even more violent. Members of Juanita’s were brutalized and arrested on phony charges, including the catch-all “disorderly conduct” that Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was charged with.

Please come to the rally and show your support for Juanita Young and all other victims of police violence.

Monday, Aug. 10, 5:30 pm

In front of Juanita Young’s house at 1772 East Tremont in the Bronx (Take the 2 or 5 trains to 180th Street and walk east.)

There will be a march to the 43rd Precinct with a rally there around 7 pm. The 43rd Precinct is located at 900 Fteley Avenue in the Bronx. (Take the 6 train to Morrison-Soundview.)

Background: http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2009/08/106826.html

August 5, 2009

2009.08.05: Death Penalty: Week of Action for Troy Davis

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Racism,Sentencing — nyclaw01 @ 12:46 pm

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Wednesday, August 05, 2009 12:46 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Death Penalty: Week of Action for Troy Davis

When the U.S. Supreme Court returns from summer recess on September 29th, they will finally decide on the fate of Troy Davis.
Help raise awareness about Troy Davis’ case by organizing a teach-in the week of Sept. 21-27
 

 

The last official news on Troy Davis was that the U.S. Supreme Court would wait until after summer recess to review Troy’s habeas petition. That date is fast approaching and it’s time once again to mobilize for Troy Davis!

Despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of activists and human rights leaders, such as former President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have come to recognize Troy’s case as a symbol of all that is wrong about the death penalty, there are still many people who are unaware that this fight for life is even happening.

Before the U.S. Supreme Court returns on September 29th, we must get our campuses and communities talking about Troy’s case and all it represents.

Organize a teach-in the week of Sept. 21-27 for your community and help keep Troy Davis and his fight for justice alive.

Troy’s case touches so many people because it clearly illustrates all the areas where the death penalty repeatedly fails:

 

  • Racial bias: A 2007 study of death sentences in Connecticut conducted by Yale University School of Law revealed that African-American defendants receive the death penalty at three times the rate of white defendants in cases where the victims are white.
  • Careless allocation of state funds: It costs far more – by some estimates, 3 times the cost – for a state to carry out a death penalty sentence than a non-death penalty sentence. Yet states like Georgia spend almost nothing on state appeals. When it mattered most, Troy was represented by a Resource Center where only two lawyers supported 80 clients.
  • High risk of executing innocent people: No murder weapon or any physical evidence linking Troy Davis to the murder of Mark MacPhail has been found. In fact, one of the two final witnesses has been implicated in nine sworn statements as the real killer. Across the country, 135 people have been sentenced to death, only later to be found innocent. But Troy Davis still sits on death row.

The first step to fighting back against injustice is education. Your teach-in can play a crucial role in opening up a discussion on how the death penalty violates human rights. This is not just a discussion for those in law enforcement and legal fields, but students, teachers, faith leaders and all members of your community should weigh in.

You only have to look to May 19th, the Global Day of Action for Troy Davis, to grasp just how much more there is to this case than meets the eye. Supporters across the U.S. joined voices with advocates from 14 different countries around the globe to demand real action for Troy.

By organizing a teach-in, you will help us to shine an even brighter light on Troy’s case and the larger system of injustice that created it. You only have to look to May 19th, the Global Day of Action for Troy Davis, to grasp just how much power we have when we join our voices. Supporters across the U.S. and those from 14 different countries stood together to demand real action for Troy. Collective actions, like this, have kept hope alive for Troy Davis and others who face injustice.

In Solidarity,

Laura Moye
Director, Death Penalty Abolition Campaign
Amnesty International USA

P.S. Stay tuned for more information about our rally for Troy Davis in Washington, DC on Sat., Sept. 26.

 

 

2009.08.05: RE: Brotherly and sisterly union love

From: [J.]
Sent: Wednesday, August 05, 2009 10:20 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Brotherly and sisterly union love

[M.], there might not be much we can all agree on.  But one thing I trust we can come together on is that the ideology of white supremacy is extremely abhorrent to all of us, including all Caucasians and not just those Caucasians who happen to be Jewish and or Hispanic.

Ironically, some of us might even go so far as to find your excluding non-Hispanic and non-Jewish Caucasians from those who extremely abhor white supremacy to itself be objectionable and extremely abhorrent.

But even if I were to believe that such exclusion was intentional on your part, which as it happens I do not believe for a second (nor do I believe it is Michael Letwin’s intentions to offend anyone), and if I were to be highly offended by your or Michael’s rhetoric or beliefs, or by the rhetoric and beliefs of anyone else expounding them by email, I would be happy to take the available systemic steps to make sure I didn’t receive those emails, rather than to jeopardize and restrict the freedom of communications that a great many of us hold very dear.

For many of us find censorship itself to also be extremely abhorrent.

—–Original Message—–

From: [M.]
Sent: Wednesday, August 05, 2009 7:58 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Brotherly and sisterly union love

I’ve made no such assumptions;  I used the analogy because the ideology of white supremacists is so extremely abhorrent to many:  blacks, Jews, non-Caucasian Hispanics… We’re all in their crosshairs.  Example A: the guy who shot up the holocaust museum in Washington few months back.  Somehow I think that if that guy had been communicating with colleagues, sharing ideology, discussing planned events like protests, I think many here, me, you, and others may have had a problem with that.  I’m sure that some of the first amendment absolutists in our crowd would have complained to management.

—–Original Message—–

From: [K.]
Sent: Tuesday, August 04, 2009 4:43 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Brotherly and sisterly union love

I find it interesting that the analogy people like to use to compare within this debate is “white-supremacist” or attack on black people argument. For real? Your assumptions are that nothing on this email system or talked about within the society is offensive to black people, an “attack” on black people, or racist etc. Your wrong in my opinion and I find the constant using of that analogy offensive and hostile.  Personally.  However, because I believe free speech should be tolerated and promoted and believe reasonable minds can differ, I don’t file grievances, run to management, and attempt to silence my colleagues.

—–Original Message—–

From: [M.]
Sent: Monday, August 03, 2009 8:58 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Brotherly and sisterly union love

As usual, well said [R.].  Some have suggested those who don’t want to receive e-mails with certain content can simply “opt-out.”  I don’t find this satisfactory.  If colleagues were disseminating white-supremacist e-mails and I objected, could they respond by saying “opt-out if this bothers you?”  would we all consider this satisfactory?  Somehow, I doubt it.  One solution floated a while back is, if you want to receive e-mails with political content, you have to opt in.  That is, there’d be some sort of  chat room for those who want to receive and send;  the others would be left alone. Letwin would be free to  do as he wishes;  he just may not receive the widest audience he’d like. But, the first amendment doesn’t guarantee one the widest audience possible.

—–Original Message—–

From: [R.]
Sent: Monday, August 03, 2009 3:15 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Brotherly and sisterly union love

This dissension within our ranks could have been and possibly still can be avoided. Instead of allowing ourselves to be infantilized by our bosses, we, as members of a union, should impose our own rules regarding how to behave on our own listserv.  Why don’t we at least propose that we be given a chance to establish rules and guidelines regarding appropriate speech.  It is done at universities, and it is accomplished elsewhere. We are all attorneys with training in negotiation, rule making, etc.  Why don’t we try to act our age and our training?

No rational person (outside ALAA) would think that the listserv is cart blanche for all manner of speech, anymore than in a movie theatre, a TV station, or a law firm!  Neither our contract nor any contract can legally prohibit all restrictions on speech.  Management has legal authority to impose some rules, or risk law suits.

On the other hand, we at ALAA want as free and open a forum as is possible.  But we don’t want to regularly offend, distract, and cause hostility in the workplace toward our fellow members.  Racist speech should not be tolerated.  Nor should anti-religious or anti-atheist speech.  Nor should we tolerate anti-ethnic speech.  We could have a union committee to address these issues, including the difficult areas.  No member should be allowed willy nilly to impose his/her own sense of what is just and fair on the rest of the membership because she/he happens to feel strongly about an issue.  Even a minority of one should be protected from offense at the workplace by fellow union members, if possible.

Some here talk the talk about treating fellow members like “brothers” and “sisters,” even using these terms.  But I don’t see them walking the walk.  With brothers and sisters like these, who needs in-laws?

—–Original Message—–

From: [J.]
Sent: Monday, August 03, 2009 2:31 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: DISREGARD EMAIL ABOUT MEETINGS

if michael were standing on a street corner spouting his opinions, i have the ability to walk away or stop and listen.  this is not the case when it comes to office emails.  i have asked him not to include me in his emails and he insists upon doing so.  any company that sends out routine announcements has a link to opt out.  why should michael’s right to free speech be superior to my right to walk away and not listen?  and don’t reply that i shouldn’t open these emails if i don’t want to know their contents.  reading the subject matter heading alone is enough to offend.  also, why should allen be asked to resign because he doesn’t want to receive michael’s progaganda.

just another point of view for the self-righteous to disagree with.

________________________________________

From: Morris, Susan
Sent: Monday, August 03, 2009 1:55 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: DISREGARD EMAIL ABOUT MEETINGS

Allen, if you support management’s efforts to silence us, then you should seriously reconsider your position on the Executive Board.

In the interest of full disclosure: 1. Michael Letwin is a dear friend of min; 2. I don’t agree with all he has to share about Israel/Palestine.  **BUT** he is not the only one being silenced.

We are being asked to GIVE BACK … to give up a CONTRACTUAL RIGHT for which he have fought long and hard, and never given up.  Why should we do so now?  Why should we silence ourselves?

Seriously, [A.] – resign from the EB.  Your stance is appalling.

________________________________

From: [A.]
Sent: Monday, August 03, 2009 1:20 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: DISREGARD EMAIL ABOUT MEETINGS

Dear Debby:

I want to say that I support Management’s efforts.

________________________________

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Monday, August 03, 2009 1:19 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: DISREGARD EMAIL ABOUT MEETINGS

Debby,

So that all members have full and complete information (whether or not they attend a meeting), please send a message reporting the exact status of management’s attempt to restrict our contractual free speech rights.

Thanks,

Michael

________________________________

From: Wright, Deborah
Sent: Monday, August 03, 2009 11:41 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: DISREGARD EMAIL ABOUT MEETINGS

Sorry, folks.  That email was intended for the Executive Board who will be scheduling the lunchtime meetings.

I apologize for the error!

Deborah L. Wright, Esq.

President

UAW Local 2325 –  Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (AFL-CIO)

August 3, 2009

2009.08.03: RE: DISREGARD EMAIL ABOUT MEETINGS

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Monday, August 03, 2009 1:19 PM
To: Wright, Deborah; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: DISREGARD EMAIL ABOUT MEETINGS

Debby,

So that all members have full and complete information (whether or not they attend a meeting), please send a message reporting the exact status of management’s attempt to restrict our contractual free speech rights.

Thanks,

Michael


From: Wright, Deborah
Sent: Monday, August 03, 2009 11:41 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: DISREGARD EMAIL ABOUT MEETINGS

Sorry, folks.  That email was intended for the Executive Board who will be scheduling the lunchtime meetings.

I apologize for the error!

Deborah L. Wright, Esq.

President

UAW Local 2325 –  Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (AFL-CIO)

568 Broadway, Room 702A

N.Y.,  N.Y.  10012-3223

Phone:     (212) 343-0708

Fax:         (212) 343-0966

Mobile:     (609) 712-3818

Email:       dwright@legal-aid.org

 

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