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News and reports

February 2, 2007 | Page 11

Stop deportations
Fight police brutality in Philadelphia

Stop deportations
By Steve Leigh

SEATTLE--The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) finally succeeded in deporting Majid Al-Massari, a former employee of the University of Washington. Community support including pickets of his hearing delayed his deportation for more than two years.

Majid is the son of a prominent Saudi dissident, Mohammad Al-Massari, who lives in London and leads the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights. Majid's father and brother have been arrested and beaten by the Saudi government.

Majid has sought asylum since 1997 based on this repression, but the government dragged its feet for seven years. Then, in July 2004, Majid was seized by ICE agents in part for "overstaying his visa"--the result of the government's delay in ruling on his asylum. Majid's co-workers in the School of Nursing had a government gag order imposed on them when they tried to find out what had happened to him.

He was placed in solitary confinement, denied a shower for six days and not even allowed a copy of the Koran. His conditions eased somewhat after a picket organized by his co-workers, but he was confined until his deportation.

At first, Majid was threatened with deportation under immigration law for a drug bust in 2003 and for overstaying his visa. Next, Homeland Security held him under "special provisions" related to terrorism. Now the government claims that Majid is a "security threat" because of his link to a "terrorist" organization--his father's human rights committee.

Paul Soreff, one of Majid's lawyers, said that Majid's deportation is "because his father is a vocal critic of the Saudi Arabian government and royal family--a government closely tied to President Bush and his government."

The Arab American Community Coalition, which has been organizing around Majid's case, also sees his deportation as a violation of his rights.

Majid will likely be subject to arrest and physical abuse--or worse--in Saudi Arabia, a clear and compelling case for asylum. His deportation is another example of why we need to stop the "war on terror"--both for its death and destruction abroad and for its suppression of the rights of Arabs and Muslims and everyone else here in the U.S.

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Fight police brutality in Philadelphia
By Matt Pillischer

PHILADELPHIA--With fireworks still popping from New Year's celebrations, the notorious Philadelphia police killed yet another young Black man. Twenty-year-old Bryan Jones was shot dead on the morning of January 1, unarmed and reportedly running from the scene of gunfire.

With three deaths in as many weeks into the New Year, 2007 looks like it has the potential to beat the 2006 record for killings by the Philadelphia police.

On January 20, dozens of angry Philadelphians chanted and made speeches outside the 19th District police station. They carried signs mourning the fatal police shooting victims from last year, 20 in total, and urged sweeping measures to address the issue. "These cops in here are murderers, they're killers," one protester said outside the police station. A cop peeked out the window and laughed at the speaker, a friend of Bryan Jones.

The second victim of the Philadelphia police this year is said to have been mentally ill, holding a knife, and was fatally shot while surrounded by police. The third, killed January 20, was just 16 years old. Police commissioner Sylvester Johnson is quick to point the finger at a "more violent street culture" to try to justify these killings.

The protest Saturday was a promising beginning for a citywide movement to confront the police. With the killing of unarmed Sean Bell by the New York Police Department last fall and the huge protests across New York City that followed, the issue of police brutality can easily be connected, from city to city and state to state.

We need to build multiracial coalitions in this city that can fight police brutality, as well as the factors that cause poverty, and aim to stop it.

To get involved, contact the Philadelphia branch of the International Socialist Organization at [email protected].

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