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News and reports

January 13, 2006 | Pages 10 and 11

OTHER STORIES BELOW:
Stop the execution of Clarence Ray Allen
Don't close San Francisco schools
Protest George Bush

Stand up for immigrant rights

HUNDREDS OF immigrant rights activists mobilized in locations across the U.S. January 7 to protest a national day of action by the anti-immigrant vigilante group the Minuteman Project.

-- In Southern California, the Minutemen called protests at several day laborer centers and hardware stores in the Los Angeles area.

The largest of these mobilizations was at a day laborer center in Glendale, Calif. More than 150 immigrant rights activists from a wide variety of organizations came out to counter-protest about 15 Minutemen supporters, including racist thug Joe Turner, founder of the anti-immigrant group Save Our State (SOS).

With loud chants like "SOS, KKK, Nazi scum, go away!" and "Queremos un mundo sin fronteras," ("We want a world without borders") pro-immigrant activists overwhelmed the racists and prevented them from spreading their message of hate.

This "day of action" for the Minutemen comes on the heels of a series of attacks on immigrant rights--including the closing of a day laborer center--from the city government of Costa Mesa in conservative Orange County.

Meanwhile, in El Cajon, Calif., day laborers and 16 immigrant rights supporters from Gente Unida confronted 10 Minutemen gathered in front of Home Depot. Protesters held up signs saying, "Immigrants are welcome here" and "Eat today? Thank an immigrant."

-- In Cicero, Ill., nearly 125 day laborers and immigrant-rights advocates rallied at a Home Depot in Cicero, Ill., to defend undocumented workers' right to seek jobs at the site. They confronted about 30 anti-immigrant protesters who picketed the site to try to intimidate immigrant workers and stop contractors from hiring them.

Minuteman Project supporters were hoping to videotape the license plates of contractors who solicit day laborers and later report them to immigration authorities and the Internal Revenue Service.

Just four days earlier, five day laborers had been arrested and charged with trespassing as they sought work at the Home Depot sight. During the summer, a total of 55 day laborers were arrested there. "We are not doing anything wrong," said Aureliano Salazar, a day laborer from Chicago. "We just want to work. Would [the Minutemen] do this work?"

-- In Framingham, Mass., more than 50 activists turned out to protest a gathering of approximately six Minutemen who picketed outside of City Hall.

Jim Rizoli, who leads the local Minutemen group, as well as the "Concerned Citizens and Friends of Illegal Immigration Law Enforcement," films his disgusting outings and runs them on local cable access to intimidate those who might oppose him. Besides publicly picketing downtown Framingham's many Brazilian-owned businesses, local racists have tried to intimidate immigrants and activists with vandalism and obtrusive filming.

Mario Alvarez, a Guatemalan immigrant and one of the organizers of the counterdemonstration, is running for city government this year and aiming to mobilize the community against racists like Rizoli. The large, confident showing of demonstrators who came to shout down Rizoli and his gang should inspire local immigrants and anti-racists.

Randy Childs, Alden Eagle, Elizabeth Lalasz, Fernando Ramirez and Avery Wear contributed to this report.

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Stop the execution of Clarence Ray Allen
By Lucas Nevarez

THE STATE of California plans to execute Clarence Ray Allen on January 17, the first execution since Stan Tookie Williams was executed there on December 13. Anti-death penalty activists have planned a January 12 press conference in San Francisco and a January 16 protest at San Quentin in the lead-up to the execution.

At 75, Clarence Ray Allen is the oldest inmate on California's death row, where he has been incarcerated for the past 22 years, and he would be the 13th inmate to be executed since California restored the death penalty in 1978.

Allen, a Choctaw American Indian, was convicted in 1982 for ordering the murders of three individuals while serving a life sentence at Folsom State Prison for the murder of a young woman in 1974. The chief witnesses against Allen at trial were participants in the crimes that he was charged with, and the prosecutor secured their testimonies by cutting deals with them. In subsequent years, each of these witnesses has admitted to lying at Allen's trial.

Under appellate review, court after court identified (and found reasons to excuse) errors by the judge, misconduct by the prosecutor and ineffective assistance by Allen's own counsel so egregious that it fell outside the "range of reasonable professional assistance."

Race also plays an obvious role in this case. Allen is Native American, and all of the victims are white. Those accused of murdering whites in California during the 1990s were far more likely to be sentenced to death than those who killed Blacks or Latinos, according to a recent study. California has a higher proportion of Native Americans on death row than any other state, and Native Americans nationwide are more likely to receive a death sentence than any other group.

Don Vasquez, the San Quentin warden from 1983 to 1993, made the case to spare Allen's life in a recent letter. "I visited Allen in December and reviewed his prison file, I found a man who presents absolutely no risk to prison staff or public safety," wrote Vasquez. Legally blind, hard of hearing and of frail voice, he cannot even stand up by himself…

"Allen's execution now would be a shameful act. Given his age, his infirmities, the punishment of the many years he has already spent on death row, his excellent behavior during that time and the very little natural life he has remaining, sparing Allen from execution would be an act of decency, compassion and justice."

For more information about efforts to spare Allen, contact Stop Executions California by calling 510-333-7966 or e-mailing [email protected].

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Don't close San Francisco schools
By Adrienne Johnstone, United Educators San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO--As Socialist Worker went to press, the San Francisco school board was prepared to vote on another round of school closings.

In addition to six schools closed at the end of last year, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is proposing another seven school closings this year. To make matters worse, the superintendent is also asking the board for permission to merge 10 sites and move another 10 to new locations. These changes would affect more than 3,000 students across the city, for a predicted savings of $5 million.

In a district where the superintendent is paid $250,000 a year (plus a housing allowance), teachers and parents find it hard to believe that SFUSD has its budget priorities straight.

Black students make up 40 percent of the student population at the schools on the chopping block. In a district where only 13.7 percent of the students are Black, families are rightly outraged.

At a community rally, one father of an elementary school student told reporters, "It's a slap in the face for these children not to have what our government has promised us. It's appalling to have to fight for our education."

San Francisco was recently sited as a district that is rapidly resegregating with 50 of 119 schools considered severely segregated. The picture is even starker if you consider that only 9 percent of SFUSD students are white.

Parents, teachers and community supporters will speak out against the school closings at a January 12 school board vote. The unions representing school workers should join the fight to stop the closings and turn back the tide on our "separate and unequal" schools.

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Protest George Bush
By Lauren Fleer

CHICAGO--Five hundred protesters gathered to greet George W. Bush January 6 as he visited the Chicago Board of Trade and addressed the Economic Club of Chicago on a brief midday tour spotlighting the economy.

Bush heralded the tax cuts secured in his first term and implored Congress to make them permanent. Tax cuts, he said, were responsible for 108,000 new jobs in December and a record-low 4.9 percent unemployment rate.

But as Bush's motorcade passed outside the Hilton, protesters chanted "Fire the liar!" and "Bring the troops home now!" Code Pink members visually demonstrated their call for Bush's impeachment by wearing pink slips on top of their clothes.

Union members from the United Steelworkers of America, the painters and glaziers unions, Communications Workers of America and other unions were present, and voiced truth about the rosy economic conditions Bush was touting inside the hotel. Steelworkers held banners that decried the liquidation of good jobs due to offshoring and called on the president to "Make steel, not war."

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