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News and reports

September 1, 2006 | Pages 14 and 15

Stop Chicago police violence
Free Palestine, Free Lebanon

Free speech under attack
By Kristin Anderson

SAN FRANCISCO--Josh Wolf, a Bay Area freelance journalist and activist, is sitting in federal prison in Dublin, Calif. His crime? Refusing to surrender unedited video footage taken at a G8 protest in San Francisco back in June 2005 to the San Francisco Police Department.

Wolf's unedited video footage was subpoenaed by a grand jury because investigators think it showed a police car being deliberately set on fire. Wolf denies having any such footage.

According to the appeal filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, "The San Francisco Police Department's own report on the damage suffered by the police car indicates that it was 'apparently drivable,' not 'burned,' and that damage to it consisted of 'Rt rear taillight.'"

"Sending this journalist to prison for protecting his material is both a serious violation of press freedom and a negation of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment," Reporters Without Borders said. "Journalists are not supposed to be judicial auxiliaries or police auxiliaries."

A San Francisco judge ruled Wolf was in contempt of court because the government's right to see his video footage was more important than the protection he enjoys under the Constitution. The 24-year-old Wolf will remain in prison until he agrees to hand over his footage or until the grand jury's term expires in July 2007.

Josh has worked as a freelance journalist covering local protests, and his work has helped defend San Francisco State University students for protesting military recruiters on their campus.

The government's attack on Josh is part of the much broader attack on dissent in the U.S. This attack on free speech and the freedom the press cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

To make a donation to Josh's defense fund, go to Send hand-written letters of support (anything else may not get through) to Joshua Wolf 98005-111, Federal Correctional Institution--Dublin, 5701 8th St. Camp-Parks, Unit J2, Dublin, CA 94568.

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Stop Chicago police violence
By Josh Gryniewicz

CHICAGO--"They have turned our community into a police state." That's how Deidre Brewster, a long-time housing advocate and displaced former Cabrini-Green resident, explained the conditions in Chicago's North Side public-housing project.

Over the past year, police in the 18th district, which has jurisdiction over Cabrini, have changed their tactics, arresting hundreds of residents for "trespassing" in their own neighborhood--often picked up visiting friends and family in neighboring buildings.

Tension escalated in August following protests called in response to the shooting of 14-year-old Ellis Woodland by police. As many as eight young men involved in the protests have been arrested on a variety of false charges, including mob action and trespassing.

"Since [the protests], youth who were involved are being targeted by police," Brewster said. "This is obvious retaliation--they are being retaliated against because they were part of the marches."

One young man, Maurice Taylor, was arrested after his photograph appeared in the Chicago Defender and Chicago Sun-Times. He was held for over three days on $20,000 bail and says he was beaten in his cell. Another youth, 17-year-old Terrion Butler, told reporters, "They choked me, slammed me to the ground, then started stomping me and my back and my face, started to punch my face."

Only 5,000 people still reside in the community in the wake of Mayor Richard Daley's "Plan for Transformation" for the Chicago Housing Authority. The plan is designed to clear housing projects from land coveted by real-estate developers catering to yuppies.

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Free Palestine, Free Lebanon
By Andrew Sisco

CHICAGO--More than 75 people gathered outside the Hilton Towers Hotel August 16 to protest the presence of war criminals in Chicago.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Eliza Olmert, the wife of current Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, held a banquet to raise funds for Israel--an incredible irony given the fact that Israel receives more aid than any other country in the world from the U.S.

The protest was especially spirited and enthusiastic in the wake of the August 12 protests that brought tens of thousands across the U.S. in solidarity with Palestinian and Lebanese self-determination. Popular chants were "Free, free Palestine" and "Free, free Lebanon," and people also took up chants in support of Palestinian and Lebanese resistance to oppression by Israel and the U.S.

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