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Letters to the editor

February 18, 2005 | Page 4

Ornelas deserves a fair trial
What about injustice to Iraqis?

Standing up to the racists at SFSU

Dear Socialist Worker,
There is no room for racists on college campuses.

Recently, at San Francisco State University (SFSU), the College Republicans hosted a speaking event featuring well-known racist, sexist and anti-gay bigot David Horowitz. Horowitz spoke about his organization Students for Academic Freedom, claiming to be a champion of free speech. But in truth, he represents the opposite.

Students for Academic Freedom actually targets students and teachers who speak out against racial profiling and the occupations in Iraq and Palestine. At SFSU, Horowitz spent most of his time distorting the truth and spewing racist lies, including one where he claimed that it was the work of a few great white men that really ended slavery in the United States.

The reaction to Horowitz was less than friendly. No more than half of the audience applauded at what he had to say, and the rest of us hissed and booed him down. Even the faculty who were working the sound system were shaking their heads and hissing. Student groups, including Students Against War, the General Union of Palestinian Students, the International Socialist Organization and others held signs and banners reading, "Horowitz is a Racist" and "End the Occupation Now." The banners showed our disgust with Horowitz and gave others in the room enough confidence to verbally express their own anger.

Unfortunately, even with a clear majority on our side, we could not shut the bigot down. Those who came to protest Horowitz thought it would be playing into his hands to be too disruptive. Others believed that even Horowitz, who makes it a career to silence the left, should have his rights to free of speech.

But hate speech is not free speech. Horowitz is not for academic freedom. He wants to shut up any and all dissent on college campuses.

Horowitz's organization is going on a rampant witch-hunt to silence any opposition to the right. Remaining silent as he does this will only make it easier for him to get away with his attacks on left opposition. Students and teachers must kick racists like David Horowitz off our campuses and show them that they are not welcome.
Sarah Levine, San Francisco

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Ornelas deserves a fair trial

Dear Socialist Worker,
On March 3, Cook County Judge Nicholas Ford will announce a decision on whether or not to give police torture victim Robert Ornelas an evidentiary hearing which could possibly lead to the first new trial for a non-death row police torture victim in Illinois. The decision could be monumental in the fight to win justice for the victims of torture by Chicago police under the command of former Lt. Jon Burge.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is in charge of the 118 known Burge police torture cases, after Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine--who was an assistant prosecutor when the torture was taking place--was removed from the case because of his conflict of interest.

Madigan has already successfully shut down the torture claim of former death row inmate and Death Row 10 member Victor "Cortez" Brown, even though there has been sufficient evidence that the torture occurred. We ask that Lisa Madigan do the right thing and allow Robert Ornelas to at the least have a hearing.

Ornelas was arrested on November 15, 1990, in Frankfurt, Ill., along with three other suspects. The Chicago Police Department was notified, and Detective Yucitis--who has been connected to 10 known torture cases--came for the interrogation. He beat and tortured Ornelas into signing a false confession. Robert told his mother, Mary Ornelas, "If the cops had beat you or anyone else the way they beat me, you'd confess, too."

"There were no real witnesses," said Mary Ornelas. "There was no weapon. The police would not use statements from Robert's alibi witnesses because they had a record, but they used testimonies from ex cons to convict."

Judge Nicolas Ford is mulling over the technicality that Robert Ornelas was beaten outside of the "ring" of Areas 2 and 3, where Burge's torturers operated--despite the fact that Yucitis has been acknowledged as one of the main "players" involved in the scandal.

We ask that everyone show up and be counted at Ornelas' court date on March 3, to bear witness that justice must be served, and to support Mary Ornelas. Stand up and be counted. Enough is enough!
Kenosha Washington, Enough Is Enough! Campaign Against Police Torture, Chicago

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What about injustice to Iraqis?

Dear Socialist Worker,
I totally empathize with the Williams family and what happened to their son due to his stint in Iraq ("'The war changed who my son is,'" February 11). However, I think a major part of the total tragedy has been left out here.

Specifically, why did Rev. Williams and his wife, as well as their son, feel it acceptable for him to go to Iraq and participate in this war? The entire Williams family seems to have been very supportive of a totally unjustifiable war--otherwise, why would they and he not protest against his going to Iraq? Why would he go, and why would they allow him to go?

Very much like the Vietnam War, the U.S. public seems to become cognizant of the evil of a war only when it directly affects them. Meanwhile, the injustice done to the Iraqi people is nothing but a side issue to American casualties of this war.

What happened to the Williams' son is a tragedy, but a tragedy that could have been averted had he and his parents acknowledged and respected the rights of the people of Iraq. The bigger picture is not even perceived here. Why?
Larry Schmidt, Toronto, Canada

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