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Archive for September, 2011

http://www.thestreetspirit.org/un-expert-condemns-cruel-treatment-of-homeless-in-u-s-2/

The UN Rapporteur’s report is the latest in a series of condemnations by international experts of the criminalization and mistreatment of homeless persons in the United States. A growing record of both domestic and international law states that homeless persons cannot be criminalized for basic life-sustaining acts.

by Whitney Gent, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

On August 24, in an official report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, a top UN investigator said that the United States’ failure to provide homeless persons access to water and sanitary facilities “could … amount to cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment.” The report was issued by UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation Catarina de Albuquerque.

Tim engineered a sanitation system for the homeless community. Every week, he collects heavy bags of waste, and hauls them several miles to a public restroom. Art by Christa Occhiogrosso

“The Rapporteur’s report is the latest in a series of condemnations by international experts of the criminalization and mistreatment of homeless persons in the U.S.,” said Eric Tars, human rights program director at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty which helped facilitate her visit. “Earlier this year, the U.S. committed itself before the Human Rights Council to doing more to protect the rights of homeless persons. Where is the action to follow the words?”

Albuquerque visited the United States in February and March 2011, and was struck by the “extraordinary lengths” homeless persons had to go to just to remove bodily wastes. During a visit to the Safe Ground tent community near Sacramento, California, she met a man who called himself the community’s “sanitation technician.”

The man, “Tim,” engineered a sanitation system consisting of a seat overtop a two-layered plastic bag. Every week, Tim collects bags of human waste, weighing anywhere from 130 to 230 pounds, and hauls them on his bicycle several miles to a public restroom. When a toilet becomes available, he empties the contents of the bags. Following the disposal, he secures the dirty bags in a clean one, which he then places in the garbage, before washing his hands with water and lemon.

He said the job is difficult, but that he does it for the community — especially the women.

The UN Special Rapporteur’s report states: “The United States, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, must ensure that everyone [has access] to sanitation which is safe, hygienic, secure and which provides privacy and ensures dignity. An immediate, interim solution is to ensure access to restroom facilities in public places, including during the night. The long-term solution to homelessness must be to ensure adequate housing.”

In June 2010, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness adopted its first-ever comprehensive plan to end homelessness, including a section promoting constructive alternatives to criminalization. However, the criminalization of homelessness by communities persists, and to date, the Justice Department and other agencies have done little to convey the unconstitutionality of these practices to local policymakers.

“This adds to a growing record of both domestic and international law stating that homeless persons cannot be criminalized for basic life-sustaining acts when the community provides no legal alternative,” said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the Law Center. “But ultimately, we must remedy this situation because we, as Americans, believe that no person deserves to be treated this way.”

Whitney Gent wrote this article for The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Read the Rapporteur’s Report here.

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SIGN PETITION IN SUPPORT OF FIVE HUMAN RIGHTS DEMANDS!

Internationally Recognized Torture:

SHU prisoners are locked in windowless cells with a perforated steel door & concrete walls for at least 22hrs every day.

In July, 6,600 prisoners in 13 prisons across CA joined in solidarity with Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU) to draw attention to 5 core demands.

However, the CDCR has not addressed the most important 5 core demands. So, the hunger strike is on again!

Five Core Demands:
1. End Administrative Abuse & Group Punishment
2. Abolish the Debriefing Policy and Modify Gang Status Criteria
3. End Long-Term Solitary Confinement
4. Provide Adequate Food
5. Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges

Vigils Being Held in Bay Area, CA
Thursdays 5–7pm

Sep. 29th: 14th & Broadway, OAK

Oct. 6th: UN Plaza, SF

Oct 13th: 24th & Mission, SF

Oct. 20th: Fruitvale BART, OAK

 

October 5th: Demonstration in Sacramento
12pm to 2pm  
CDCR Headquarters,
1515 S St.
More info call: 415-238-1801


Contact your elected officials!

–Governor Jerry Brown @ (916) 445-2841
–Secretary of CDCR Matthew Cate @ (916) 323-6001

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   SEPTEMBER 26, 2011

Eureka Officers Viciously Beat Martin and Left Him to Die in Jail Cell

Eureka, CA: A jury delivered a resounding victory for plaintiffs in a police misconduct civil rights case by awarding the total sum of $4,575,000 against the City of Eureka and Eureka police officers Adam Laird, Justin Winkle, and Gary Whitmer for the death of Martin Cotton II. Punitive damages were assessed against the three officers. Mr. Cotton, a 26 year-old man living on the streets died of blunt force head trauma. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys Dale K. Galipo and Vicki I. Sarmiento of Los Angeles County, were Mr. Cotton’s 5 year-old daughter and his father. The jury found that Officers Laird and Winkle used excessive force, and that all three officers failed to provide medical care.

 

On August 9th, 2007, Eureka police officers Winkle, Laird, Whitmer, and five others were involved in beating an unarmed Martin Cotton II to death. In broad daylight, officers pummeled Mr. Cotton’s head and body then brought Mr. Cotton to jail, failing to seek medical assistance for him. Expert testimony presented by the plaintiffs established that timely medical care would have saved Mr. Cotton’s life. Mr. Cotton died in the jail cell within two hours.

 

Painful video of Mr. Cotton dying in jail was presented during the trial.

 

The fatal beating of Mr. Cotton occurred outside the Eureka Rescue Mission. Police were dispatched to the Mission for a disturbance involving Mr. Cotton. When they arrived, Mr. Cotton was no longer in the Mission and was alone and defenseless. Laird and Winkle claim they ordered him to put his hands behind his back and he did not move. Both officers pepper sprayed him, Officer Winkle kneed him in the ribs and forced him to the ground where the officers beat him. Mr. Cotton made no moves against the police and remained prone on the concrete. Officer Whitmer (the third officer on the scene) gave a running kick to Mr. Cotton, battered him with a baton, and pepper-sprayed him. More officers arrived and joined in the beating. The trial of Siehna Cotton et al v. City of Eureka included police readily admitting they they sat on Mr. Cotton, forced his head onto the concrete throughout the beating, kicked him, hit him with a metal baton, kneed at his vulnerable organs, deployed pepper spray three times, and did not seek medical assistance for him afterward. The officers, however, denied hitting Mr. Cotton in the head, most likely because blunt force head trauma was determined as the cause of death.  Crucial testimony came from two civilian witnesses who bravely reported that they had indeed seen at least Officer Winkle pounding on Mr. Cotton’s skull multiple times on the concrete. One witness said he heard “fist-to-skull”, “bone-on-bone” from those head strikes.

 

The verdict was announced September 23, 2011 after a two week trial and 7 hours of jury deliberation in Federal Court in Oakland. Siehna Cotton was awarded $1,250,000 for the pain her father suffered and $2,750,000 for wrongful death damages. Marty Cotton Sr. was awarded $500,000, which required plaintiffs to show that the officers’ actions “shocked the conscience.” The jury also found that the officers acted with “malice, oppression, or reckless disregard” to the decedent’s or plaintiffs’ rights, and assessed punitive damages, $30,000 from officer Winkle, $30,000 from officer Laird, and $15,000 from officer Whitmer.

 

Mr. Cotton was one of many people killed by police in the Humboldt region from fall 2005 to fall 2007. 

 

Attorney Vicki Sarmiento hopes the verdict sends shockwaves to other officers who may consider committing such atrocities in the future. “We don’t want this to happen to anyone else. We as a community, we as a society, cannot tolerate it.” Ms. Sarmiento speaks of the victory, “The jury’s decision showed respect for Martin Cotton’s life. They acknowledge the wrong that occurred and acknowledge that Martin’s life had value. The issue of human dignity and humanity is what this is about, and that everyone has a right to have that.”

###

 

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Martin Cotton Family Awarded Over $4.5 Million in Trial Against Eureka Police (VIDEO included)

This link will also bring you to the video-taped interview from after the verdict.  Video is also below.
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/09/23/18691150.php

Greetings,

The resounding jury decision could not have happened without the years of dedication by Redwood Curtain CopWatch; the courage, strength, and graciousness of Marty Cotton Sr.; the critical solidarity and organizing of the Oscar Grant Committee; the generosity of a few righteous Oakland attorneys; the networking and sharing of resources by Berkeley CopWatch; the bravery of the civilian witnesses to tell the truth; and the sharp, brilliant, hard work from the Cottons’ attorneys, Vicki I. Sarmiento and Dale K. Galipo.

Solidarity from people in and near Oakland throughout the trial – some being folks in the IWW, the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, the SDS and MDS – has been so important.

Having read yesterday’s article from the Eureka Times-Standard, I want to make something clear.  Contrary to how the local Humboldt mainstream media would like to misconstrue reality, the Eureka cops, through their brutal punches and slamming of Martin’s head on the concrete, then throwing him in a cell without medical help, killed Martin.  The cops caused his painful death and used their hands to do it. And the jury got a grave understanding of that, and decided on a “wrongful death” verdict.

This federal jury decision in the Cotton case is a victory and gift for the people. I hope that people who live outside, live on the streets in and around Eureka can breathe easier; feel proud for the marching, protesting and speaking out about Martin’s death; and also feel some vindication because the brazen intimidation and violence that the cops inflict on people living on the streets has been officially recognized.  

Thank You, Martin “Fred” Cotton. 

We will continue to work together for DIGNITY for all lives.

Long Live Martin Cotton!  Long Live Troy Davis! 
Long Live the Strength of the People and Power of the Truth! ~Verbena

Below is a great summary.

Martin Cotton Family Awarded Over $4.5 Million in Trial Against Eureka Police, Interview: Video

by dave id  Friday Sep 23rd, 2011

On August 9th, 2007, Eureka police officers Justin Winkle, Gary Whitmer, Adam Laird, and five others were involved in beating an unarmed Martin Cotton II to death. Eureka police pummeled Martin Cotton’s body and head in broad daylight, using pepper spray repeatedly. Martin Cotton was then sent to jail without being offered medical treatment. He died in jail within about an hour. A federal civil rights lawsuit in Oakland was filed to seek justice for Martin on behalf of his young daughter. The case, Siehna Cotton et al v. City of Eureka, included the testimony of police readily admitting they beat Martin Cotton all over his body and did not seek medical assistance for him afterward. The police however denied that they hit Martin Cotton in the head, most likely because blows to the head were determined to be the cause of death.

 

At about 1pm on September 23rd, the verdict was announced for the two-week trial. A seven-person jury found unanimously in favor of the plaintiffs, big time. Siehna Cotton was awarded $1,250,000 for the pain Martin Cotton suffered at the hands of Eureka police and $2,750,000 for wrongful death damages. Additionally, Marty Cotton Sr. was awarded $500,000, which required plaintiffs to meet the highest burden of proof in a civil trial, that is that the murder of Martin Cotton “shocked the conscience.” A rare award of punitive damages against the three officers required a finding of “malice, oppression, or reckless disregard” to the decedent’s or plaintiffs’ rights, for which the jury assessed $30,000 from officer Winkle, $30,000 from officer Laird, and $15,000 from officer Whitmer, who arrived at the scene late but joined in on the beating.

 

Crucial to the verdict was the testimony of two witnesses who bravely reported that they had indeed seen at least officer Winkle striking Martin Cotton’s skull. Painful video of Martin Cotton dying in jail was presented during the trial which obviously effected jurors, four of whom wore black in solidarity with the family today as the verdict was read.

 

In the video below, Cotton family attorney Vicki Sarmiento and Verbena Lea of Redwood Curtain CopWatch speak about the verdict re-establishing Martin Cotton’s humanity and the shockwaves they hope the decision will send through the ranks of police who may consider committing such atrocities in the future.

martincotton_verdict-interview_092311.jpg

[Pictured above: Verbena Lea of Redwood Curtain CopWatch and Cotton family attorney Vicki Sarmiento]

Quote from MDS, SDS, and Oscar Grant Committee:
“This victory uplifts our spirits and gives us strength to step up the struggle against police violence, brutality, murder and other forms of state repression that occur on a regular basis. One victory , many battles
still to be fought”

 

http://www.indybay.org/js/flowplayer/FlowPlayer.swf

Video-Taped Interview from after the Verdict

Also, the below links are to video from the Sept. 21st press conference held in front of the Federal Building in Oakland:

http://www.redwoodcurtaincopwatch.net/node/907.

or

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/09/22/18691008.php

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Troy Anthony Davis

Executed by the State of Georgia 11:08 PM Sept 21, 2011


Rest In Peace

 

 

Martina Correia on Execution of Troy Davis: “My Brother’s Fight Will Continue”

Martina_web The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says Georgia’s execution of high-profile death row prisoner Troy Davis last Wednesday may have violated international law, citing serious concerns that the rights of Davis to due process and a fair trial were not respected. We speak with Davis’s older sister, Martina Correia, one of his most steadfast advocates. “I know the fight is not over,” says Correia. “Millions of people from around the world are very upset by this. Troy’s case is going to be a catalyst for change in the death penalty, particularly in the South.” The funeral for Troy Davis is planned for October 1 in his hometown of Savannah, Georgia.

Watch Video Interview

For Transcript of this Democracy Now! Interview with Martina, Click Here:

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An Innocent Man Facing Execution in Georgia.

Troy Davis faces execution in Georgia, September 21.
Davis was framed up, convicted, and sentenced to death for the murder of a Savannah policeman in 1989.

Please, call, fax or email today.


Stop the execution of Troy Davis!


* Gov. Nathan Deal: phone (404) 651-1776, fax (404) 657-7332, email georgia.governor@gov.state.ga.us, web contact form http://gov.state.ga.us/contact.shtml

* Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole: phone (404) 656-5651, fax (404) 651-8502

 

Sign all the petitions:

Visit these sites:

 

Major organizations condemn the scheduled execution of Troy Davis

From the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP): “After reviewing the evidence, I am convinced that Troy Davis is an innocent man,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “It is appalling to me that with so much doubt surrounding this case, Mr. Davis is set to be executed in 14 days [now only four days]. Justice will never be served by the state-sanctioned murder of an innocent man.”

From Amnesty International USA: In the state of Georgia, the Board of Pardons and Paroles holds the keys to Troy’s fate. In the days before Davis’ execution, this board will hold a final clemency hearing – a final chance to prevent Troy Davis from being executed. One witness said in a CNN news interview, “If I knew then, what I know now, Troy Davis would not be on death row.” It’s difficult to believe that a system of justice could be so terribly flawed, but keep in mind that Troy has survived three previous execution dates, because people like you kept the justice system in check!

From the International Action Center: On March 28, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court failed to take up the appeal of Troy Anthony Davis. We join with millions in the U.S. and around the world in demanding that Gov. Deal and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles stop the execution of Troy Davis. Serious doubt remains. I call on all those with authority and influence in this decision to grant clemency to Troy Anthony Davis and overturn the death sentence.

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TRIAL BEGAN SEPTEMBER 12, 2011 at 8:30am

[RALLY at 7:30am on 12th, first day of trial]

Trial Wed (9/14), Thurs (9/15), Friday (9/16), Wed (9/21)  
8:30am- 2:30pm  
Must have U.S. ID or Passport to go in

READ UPDATES:  1  2  3

Please join Redwood Curtain CopWatch in attending the trial.  We are organizing with groups in the Bay Area also.  If you are interested in going to Oakland for any part of the trial, please get in contact: copwatchrwc@riseup.net   707.633.4493
More on Martin’s death here.

TO DOWNLOAD ABOVE FLIER: http://redwoodcurtaincopwatch.net/files/Flier_CottonTrial.jpg

 

*JURY TRIAL in FEDERAL COURT in OAKLAND*

begins Monday, Sept 12th 8:30am
1301 Clay St. 4
th floor, Courtroom #1
Oakland, CA
U.S. District Court- Northern District

                 

PLEASE JOIN SEPT 12 RALLY OUTSIDE COURT 7:30AM


Be PRESENT at the trial:
Mon 9/12 Wed 9/14 Thurs 9/15 Fri 9/16 Wed 9/21


Dignity for ALL… Justice for Martin Cotton!

UPDATES:  

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/09/15/18690439.php

http://www.redwoodcurtaincopwatch.net/node/900

Redwood Curtain CopWatch: 707.633.4493  copwatchrwc@riseup.net
Oscar Grant Committee: 510.655.5764


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