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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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by Robert Norse Wednesday Dec 15th, 2010
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/12/15/18666771.php

VIDEO of Robert Norse “Nazi Salute”: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2…

Today the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted me a new trial against the City for its actions in harassing, excluding, and arresting me for making a mock-Nazi salute at a March 2002 City Council meeting after the Mayor had threatened a diminutive peace activist with arrest for stepping up to the microphone in search of her Oral Communications time. I’ll be posting a link to the full decision shortly, But in the meantime, I invite Free Speech advocates to savor a few of the phrases used by the unanimous court as well as a few stronger ones used by the two judges who would have defended my rights even further.

In an earlier article (“9th Circuit Court Slaps Santa Cruz City Attorney in Mock-Nazi Salute Case” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/06/28/18652079.php), I I discuss the 10-judge hearing down in Pasadena this summer and how badly City Attorney Kovocevitch’s arguments came off. For once, it seemed, judges were actually listening.

This case concerns the civil rights of advocates in a stacked forum (City Council) which has traditionally been hostile to homeless civil rights on the streets. Many people rightly wonder, “why bother with City Council anyway?” After years of frustration, I don’t really have a good answer.

A body stacked with neo-liberal gentrification maestros masquerades as progressives or “moderates”. It has legislated away civil rights for the poor on the streets and continues to make the act of sleeping at night outside (in a city with no shelter for 85% of its homeless). The point: to establish a “comfort zone” for the frightened and prejudices, whose legitimate concerns about housing, health care, jobs, the war, and the economy are being displaced onto “the smelly homeless”. “Quality of life” is to be regained under this deluded theory by driving the poor out of sight and out of town instead of ending the economy-devouring Imperial War Machine and the lopsided wealth distribution.

Some courts, we can see, still defend the right to attend a Council meeting and speak there for three minutes (even if you can’t get your subject on the agenda). But this whole issue doesn’t mean much in the day-to-day homeless life where basic concerns are denied like the basic right to sleep legally somewhere), the right to not have one’s property searched and seized arbitrarily, the right to protest these conditions, the right to fair treatment by public agencies and private businesses, etc.

Still, while I’d have much preferred to see a successful assault on the Sleeping Ban (as was the case in L.A., San Diego, Fresno, and Laguna Beach), this seemed a good well-documented opportunity to force the City Council to cut back on its repression. This arrest in March of 2002 was the latest in a cycle of repressive incidents.

The cycle of repression has continued. With Mayor Coonerty coming back into power with a right-wing majority on the Council, the federal courts and the streets may be the only avenues of redress.

Hopefully this court decision–and a subsequent victory in the trial–will make the Coonerty Council and its cops more reluctant to stifle regular human dialogue and protest at City Council. And perhaps cut short some of its homeless-ophobia downtown.

There were some strong and encouraging statements made by the 10-judge panel:

THE ENTIRE 10-JUDGE PANEL unanimously wrote:

“The City contends that only certain portions of its meetings are limited public forums and that no members of the public have any First Amendment rights at all once the public comment period has concluded. The City cites no support for this proposition, and there is none.

In City of Norwalk, we held that city council meetings, once open to public participation, are limited public forums. 900 F.2d at 1425. A council can regulate not only the time, place, and manner of speech in a limited public forum, but also the content of speech—as long as content-based regulations are viewpoint neutral and enforced that way.

What a city council may not do is, in effect, close an open meeting by declaring that the public has no First Amendment right whatsoever once the public comment
period has closed. As we explained in Norwalk, the entire city council meeting held in public is a limited public forum. But the fact that a city may impose reasonable time limitations on speech does not mean it can transform the nature of the forum by doing so, much less extinguish all First Amendment rights. A limited public forum is a limited public forum. Perhaps nothing more, but certainly nothing less. The City’s theory would turn the entire concept on its head.

Thus, even though we can tell from the face of the amended complaint that Norse’s provocative gesture was made after the public comment period closed, Norse still had a First Amendment right to be free from viewpoint discrimination at that time. The City’s argument proves the danger of its theory. The City contended at oral argument before us that, because the public had no First Amendment rights after the public comment period had closed, the Council could legitimately eject members of the public who made a “thumbs down” gesture, but allow members of the public who made a “thumbs up” gesture to remain.11

We note that we have been unable to find a single First Amendment case where a person has the right to be in a place but has no First Amendment rights once there. Rather, the First Amendment test itself accounts for the nature of the forum and, at its most restrictive, only permits viewpoint neutral restrictions that are “reasonable in light of the purpose served by the forum.”) (“[S]tudent First Amendment rights are applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment.”) (“[A] prison inmate retains those First Amendment rights that are not inconsistent with his status as a prisoner or with the legitimate penological
objectives of the corrections system.”).

When queried at oral argument whether that action would constitute classic viewpoint discrimination, the City responded that it was “just human nature.” We decline the City’s invitation to rewrite First Amendment law to extinguish the rights that citizens have when they attend public meetings.

We also decline the City’s invitation to rewrite the rule announced in Norwalk. There, we held that a city’s “Rules of Decorum” are not facially over-broad where they only permit a presiding officer to eject an attendee for actually disturbing or impeding a meeting. In this case, the City argues that cities may define “disturbance”
in any way they choose. Specifically, the City argues that it has defined any violation of its decorum rules to be a “disturbance.” Therefore, it reasons, Norwalk permits the City to eject anyone for violation of the City’s rules—rules that were only held to be facially valid to the extent that they require a person actually to disturb a meeting before being ejected.

We must respectfully reject the City’s attempt to engage us in doublespeak. Actual disruption means actual disruption. It does not mean constructive disruption, technical disruption, virtual disruption, nunc pro tunc disruption, or imaginary disruption. The City cannot define disruption so as to include non-disruption to invoke the aid of Norwalk.

The city officials are not entitled to absolute immunity. Local legislators are absolutely immune from liability… But “not all governmental acts by . . . a local legislature[ ] are necessarily legislative in nature.”. “Whether an act is legislative turns on the nature of the act, rather than on the motive or intent of the
official performing it.” Thus, we must determine whether the actions of the Council members, when “stripped of all considerations of intent and motive,” were
legislative rather than administrative or executive.

In this Circuit, we have developed a four-part test to determine whether an action is legislative in nature. We consider
(1) whether the act involves ad hoc decisionmaking, or the formulation of policy;
(2) whether the act applies to a few individuals, or to the public at large;
(3) whether the act is formally legislative in character; and
(4) whether it bears all the hallmarks of traditional legislation.”

In this case, we are dealing with city officials who ejected one individual from City Council meetings. Separately, and with regard to his argument for municipal liability, Norse argues that the officials were formulating policy. We need not determine whether the ejections “effectuate[d] policy,” because the second, third, and
fourth factors clearly point to this being an administrative rather than legislative act. Thus, Krohn, Kennedy, and Fitzmaurice are not entitled to absolute immunity for their part in removing Norse from the meetings. Although the record is incomplete, it appears that in both 2002 and 2004 Norse was singled out for expulsion and arrest. Mayors Krohn and Kennedy did not take any formal legislative action, but rather ordered Norse out of the room. And both expulsions lacked the hallmarks of the legislative process.

With respect to the 2002 arrest, Krohn ordered Norse to leave on Fitzmaurice’s motion without any debate. The motion was predicated on the “dignity” of the council rather than the council’s performance of its obligations to the citizens of Santa Cruz. And with respect to the 2004 arrest, the record does not reveal a motion based even on dignity, let alone a legislative decisionmaking process. Thus the decisions to expel Norse were administrative, not legislative, so the defendants are not entitled to absolute immunity.

Chief Judge KOZINSKI, with whom Judge REINHARDT ADDITIONALLY WROTE:

I join Judge Thomas’s opinion because it’s clearly right. I write only to observe that, even after the procedural irregularities that deprived Norse an opportunity to present evidence,

it’s clear that the council members aren’t entitled to qualified immunity. In the Age of YouTube, there’s no need to take my word for it: There is a video of the incident that I’m “happy to allow . . . to speak for itself.” see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOssHWB6WBI (last visited Nov. 16, 2010).

This video (also found in the record) clearly shows that Norse’s sieg heil was momentary and casual, causing no disruption whatsoever.

It would have remained entirely unnoticed, had a city councilman not interrupted the proceedings to take umbrage and insist that Norse be cast out of the meeting.
Councilman Fitzmaurice clearly wants Norse expelled because the “Nazi salute” is “against the dignity of this body and the decorum of this body” and not because of any disruption. But, unlike der Führer, government officials in America occasionally must tolerate offensive or irritating speech.

The Supreme Court long ago explained that “in our system, undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression.” Even in a limited public forum like a city council meeting, the First Amendment tightly constrains the government’s power; speakers may be removed only if they are actually disruptive.

We’ve said so twice. In White v. City of Norwalk,we explained that speech must “disrupt[,] disturb[ ] or otherwise impede[ ] the orderly conduct of the Council meeting” before the speaker could be removed. …We upheld a spectator’s ejection from a public meeting only because he was “disrupting the proceedings by yelling and trying to speak when it was not time for” discussion..

Had he been given a chance, Norse could no doubt have presented lots more evidence that he never disrupted the Santa Cruz council meeting, but what would have been the point? The video speaks for itself: Norse raises his hand in a brief, silent protest of the mayor’s treatment of another speaker. The mayor ignores Norse’s fleeting gesture until Councilman Fitzmaurice throws a hissy fit.

“Listeners’ reaction to speech is not a content-neutral basis for regulation. . . . Speech cannot be . . . punished or banned[ ] simply because it might offend a hostile” member of the Santa Cruz City Council. The council members should have known that the government may never suppress viewpoints it doesn’t like. Though
defendants point to Norse’s reaction to Councilman Fitzmaurice as the “disruption” that warranted carting him off to jail, Norse’s calm assertion of his constitutional rights was not the least bit disruptive.

The First Amendment would be meaningless if Councilman Fitzmaurice’s petty pique justified Norse’s arrest and removal.

Even viewing the facts most favorably to the city council members, their behavior amounts to classic viewpoint discrimination for which they’re not entitled to qualified immunity. And that’s what the district court should have held when it set about resolving qualified immunity as a matter of law. If it was going to take it upon itself to grant summary judgment to anyone on that issue, it should have been to Norse.

On remand, the district court can set things right by holding, as a matter of law, that the city council members are not entitled to qualified immunity, and proceeding to assess damages.

ATTORNEY BEAUVAIS TO DISCUSS CASE THURSDAY DECEMBER 16TH ON FREE RADIO SANTA CRUZ

At 7 PM one of the two attorneys who argued the case before the court (and has fought this battle before a district judge (twice) and the court of appeals (twice) will discuss the case and its significance at 101.1 FM (http://www.freakradio.org). Call in questions and comments at 831-427-3772.

BACKGROUND

More background on the case can be found at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/06/28/18652079.php (“9th Circuit Court Slaps Santa Cruz City Attorney in Mock-Nazi Salute Case”)

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Peace Protesters Call for an End to the Santa Cruz Sleeping Ban

Since July 4th, a couple dozen people have been protesting the Santa Cruz Sleeping Ban by camping each night from 8pm – 8am at the County Courthouse. Organizer Ed Frey says that the demonstration aims to “convince local and national government to stop breaching the peace, especially that of peaceful sleepers, and to instead use resources to discourage violence and warfare in all its forms.”

Indybay contributor Skidmark Bob spoke with Ed Frey, Robert Norse, and other campers who are participating in the civil disobedience in violation of the City of Santa Cruz Sleeping and Camping Ban, officially known as M.C. 6.36.010.

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/07/07/18652973.php

4th July 2010 Sleepout/Camping Ban Vigil at S.C. County Bldg. | Santa Cruz Courthouse Sleepout Day 3 |Free the Land on Peace Camp Night 3

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Tiny (aka Lisa Gray–Garcia) is a poverty scholar, revolutionary journalist, PO’ Poet, spoken word artist, welfareQUEEN, lecturer, Indigena Taina/Boriken/Irish mama of Tiburcio and daughter of Dee and the co–founder and executive director of POOR Magazine/PoorNewsNetwork in the San Francisco Bay Area.

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/04/04/18643798.php
Tiny (aka Lisa Gray–Garcia) is a poverty scholar, revolutionary journalist, PO’ Poet, spoken word artist, welfareQUEEN, lecturer, Indigena Taina/Boriken/Irish mama of Tiburcio and daughter of Dee and the co–founder and executive director of POOR Magazine/PoorNewsNetwork. POOR is a grassroots, non–profit, arts organization dedicated to providing extreme access to media, education and arts for youth, adults and elders struggling with poverty, racism, disability and border fascism locally and globally. Tiny is a teacher, multi–media producer, and author of Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America, published by City Lights.

She has innovated several revolutionary media, arts and education programs for youth, adults and elders including the first welfare to work journalism program in the US for poor mothers transitioning off of welfare, PoorNewsNetwork — an on–line magazine and monthly radio show on KPFA, and several cultural projects such as the Po’ Poets Project, Youth in Media, welfareQUEENs, and many more. She is also a prolific writer who has authored over a hundred articles on issues ranging from poor women and families, interdependence, and the cult of individualism to gentrification, homelessness, police brutality, incarceration, art and global and local poverty. For more information see http://www.tinygraygarcia.com.

Angola 3 News: How did POOR Magazine get started?

Tiny: POOR Magazine is a poor people led/indigenous people led grassroots, non-profit, arts organization dedicated to providing revolutionary media access, education and art to youth, adults and elders locally and globally

POOR the magazine was launched in las calles, welfare offices, social security lobbies, and shelters in 1996 by an Indigenous Raza mother and daughter team who barely survived homelessness, extreme poverty, disability, criminalization, racism and survived on underground economic strategies. We began with community journalism workshops focused on telling our own stories, reclaiming our own scholarship and redefining in and of itself what media even is and who controls it.

We practice eldership, ancestor worship and interdependence as a resistance to the destruction of capitalism, imperialism, colonization and white supremacy.

POOR Magazine defines indigenismo within an urban indigenous context of shared identities and shared struggles. We are landless African, Taino/ Boricua, Mexicano/Mexica/Raza, Iroquois, Pomo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Celtic, Hawaiian, Samoan, Jewish, Arabic, South Asian, Oaxacan, Guatemalan, Salvadoran and many more, We are Elders, Youth, Children, Mamaz, Fathers, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Families and Individuals brought together through the shared struggle of poverty, survival and ‘thrival.

To this end, POOR Magazine has implemented the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples as a revolutionary resistance document. This is one of the ways we practice redefining the capitalist systems of oppression, philanthropy, the prison industrial complex , the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC), and systems of controlled and stolen resources, land and information.

In 1999, while my Mama and I were still “in the life” and while I personally was being told by my welfare worker that I needed to realize what a waste of taxpayers resources I was, taught myself how to write an RFP for a welfare to work grant to teach poor mamas like me and my mama how to be journalists, writers, and media producers.

I successfully mastered the linguistic domination skills necessary to reclaim those stolen government resources and give it back to the people. With it we were able to start our indigenous news-making circle (which up-ends the hierarchy of both independent and corporate media), our KPFA radio show, our on-line news service and our media training classrooms.

In 2002, we lost all of the government dollars when they saw that we were teaching people how to write about the very systems that were oppressing all of us (ie, the welfare to work locus of control).

This almost killed us—but we are not sorry that we reclaimed those funds. It would elitist and illogical. But that government-sponsored inquisition still almost killed us. And when the government dollars left, so did all of the philanthro-pimped private donations.

This tragedy led us to not only fight harder, but to build a curriculum around the myths of philanthropy, and launch The Race, Poverty, & Media Justice Institute as well as a completely new concept we call Revolutionary Giving.

A3N: How is POOR Magazine different than the corporate media? What kinds of stories will readers find?

Tiny: First of all, POOR Magazine is not just a media organization, we are a family of poverty scholars teaching on and speaking on issues of poverty, racism, disability, border fascism and indigenous resistance. To this end we have launched:

• PeopleSkool—Escuela de la gente—Education for ALL peoples outside the Institution.

• FamilySkool is our multi-generational teaching and learning project.

• The Race, Poverty, & Media Justice Institute teaches folks enmeshed in Akkkademia about different and other forms of knowledge and scholarship.

• POOR Press—the publishing arm of POOR Magazine—aimed at infiltrating the racist, classist publishing industry that demands a series of access channels.

• The Po Poets Project and the welfareQUEENS’ revolutionary poets and cultural workers in poverty and resistance.

• Hotel Voices is a play on the experience of surviving and thriving Single Room Occupancy hotels .

• HOMEFULNESS—our most important project—is a sweat-equity co-housing project for landless families in poverty, which includes a school, media center and micro-business projects. This has the goal of reclaiming stolen lands and resources and moving off the grid of controlled systems of housing and budget kkkrumbs. This project is informed by the teaching of MOVE founder John Africa.

As far as media, POOR Magazine aligns ourselves with other poor people led/indigenous people led movements such as the Shackdwellers Union in South Africa, POCC, and the MST (landless peoples movement in Brazil) who actively reject the ideas that someone else has to tell our stories for us, perpetuating the 21st century missionary/default kkkolonizers position that just because you have access to a computer, a micro-phone or a camera, our stories suddenly become your stories, your property.

We also resist the myth of objectivity and how if an author or media producer writes in the “I” voice it automatically takes away its legitimacy.

How do you ensure that the silenced voices of people in poverty are heard? By addressing the subtle and not so subtle ways in which our voices and research and scholarship is separated out and suppressed. We teach on our forms of media revolution and media justice at the Race, Poverty, & Media Justice Institute and PeopleSkool.

We redefine media as art, hip hop, graffiti, spoken word, poetry and talk-story.

All of our media, whomever makes it includes the lens and voices of the writers who have experienced positions of poverty and oppression first-hand. For our allies who have different forms of academic privilege, we also ask for the same inclusion of “I” voice and personal scholarship.

A3N: In regards to the issues of homelessness and poverty, what do you think are the biggest lies propagated by the corporate media?

Tiny: That we, houseless folks, are a tribe that walks the earth, rather than people who need a roof; That we are all criminal by design; That our voices are irrelevant and our solutions un-informed.

We at POOR no longer use the NPIC term, “homeless” because it is another way to turn our problems into profit for NGO’s and NPIC’s across the globe.

A3N: How does the struggle to abolish the prison industrial complex (PIC) relate to issues of poverty and houselessness?

Tiny: It completely relates. It is why I was incarcerated in Amerikkka and why I wrote the book Criminal of Poverty: Growing up homeless in America. It is illegal to be houseless in the US and arguably it is illegal to be poor. We have modern day apartheid and slave plantations called prisons, and they have to constantly feed this machine with fresh meat so the PIC industry can make revenue. Racism, poverty, and disability are all linked and are alive and well.

Throughout my childhood – my poor mama of color and I were houseless and living in our car, and I was eventually arrested for those “crimes.” I am light-skinned and look white even though my mama is Boriken, Taina and Afrikan. I look like my kkkolonizer dad, so I could lie to a landlord about being a single adult with a job and the landlord would accept it rather than that my mama was a hard worker who was responsible.

But it isn’t just houseless folks. Its migrant workers, youth of color, people in poverty living with a mental disability, micro-business people, foster youth and on and on. Our struggles against racism and criminalization are linked.

A3N: What are the most recent projects that POOR Magazine is working on?

Tiny: We just completed the very beautiful anthology, Los Viajes/The journeys, which is a beautiful compilation of peoples crossing over false criminalizing borders across pacha mama.

We are trying go to the US Social Forum and the Allied Media Conference in Detroit to lead a PeopleSkool workshop on media, akkkademia and research, as well as a forum on linguistic domination.

Also, we are gearing up for a new session of PeopleSkool in Summer 2010, and we launched the equity campaign to raise funds or acquire land for HOMEFULNESS- in 2010/2011.

–Angola 3 News is a new project of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3. Our website is http://www.angola3news.com where we provide the latest news about the Angola 3. We are also creating our own media projects, which spotlight the issues central to the story of the Angola 3, like racism, repression, prisons, human rights, solitary confinement as torture, and more.
http://www.angola3news.com

§The Race, Poverty, & Media Justice Institute
by Angola 3 News Thursday Mar 25th, 2010 7:21 PM


http://www.angola3news.com

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“Ordinary people doing extraordinary things…”

Recently, a group of PEOPLE PROJECT folks joined people from all over the West Coast (and some beyond) in San Fran for a gathering, march and rally organized by WRAP [Western Regional Advocacy Project]. Building, connecting, chanting, demanding, learning, surviving…

 

Link to this inspiring video from the January 20th rally and march!
A MUST SEE!

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/01/21/18635889.php

 

 

Check out Street Roots from Portland. About 50 people from Portland traveled to SF and participated! It was great to connect with them.
http://streetroots.wordpress.com/2010/01/21/photos-from-the-j20-action-on-housing-in-san-francisco/

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