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May 25, 2007 | Page 8

Philip Workman's last request
Taking aim at immigrants
Who polices the police?

Philip Workman's last request

SOCIALISTS ARE often told that a society without war, exploitation and poverty is impossible because it is human nature (whatever that is) to be "greedy." In the face of one of the most reprehensible aspects of our current society--our criminal justice system--that argument recently was shown to be patently absurd.

The state of Tennessee executed Philip Workman on May 10. Like hundreds of other people murdered by the state since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, Workman's case was surrounded by doubt. The ballistics evidence indicated that Workman's gun couldn't have been the murder weapon. The prosecution's lead witness later recanted his testimony, admitting he took the stand because he needed the money offered by the DA to support his drug habit.

The state of Tennessee callously brushed these doubts aside, however, and executed Workman nonetheless. The state even went so far as to deny Workman's last meal request, which was to have a vegetarian pizza delivered to any homeless person in Nashville.

The day of Workman's execution, however, homeless shelters all around the state reported a flood of pizza donations coming in from across the country. Word had gotten out about Workman's final request, and people had taken it upon themselves to do what the state would not.

One woman called her friends and managed to gather $1,200 to donate for pizza. "I put some of it on the credit card," she said, "But I thought we'll find a way to pay for them later. I just felt like I had to do something positive."

While we are constantly told how inherently greedy people are, the actions of a few who were moved by our current system's barbarism prove otherwise. If one woman and some friends can raise $1,200 to give Tennessee's homeless a pizza party, imagine what our entire society can do once we put human need before corporate greed.
Paul Heideman, Madison, Wis.

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Taking aim at immigrants

ARMED LAW enforcement officers walking down the aisle of train, demanding to see people's papers, sounds like a scene from a movie set in a totalitarian state--but it's not.

Every night, around 11 p.m., the westbound Amtrak "Lakeshore Limited" stops in Rochester, N.Y., on its way from New York City to Chicago. There, agents of the U.S. Border Patrol board the train and sweep from end to end, racially profiling passengers.

The agents question those passengers of obvious non-white ethnic backgrounds, demanding proof of citizenship (as if everyone carries their social security card or their passport around with them). They search the train from end to end, hunting for undocumented workers, and delaying the train until they are satisfied that no one is without proper papers.

On the night of May 7, at about 11:30 p.m., two Border Patrol agents forcefully removed a Black male from the train, his only apparent crime being Black in America.

The crackdown is part of a larger crackdown on the immigrant community, a part of the backlash against them for standing up for their rights across the U.S. in last year's massive May Day demonstrations. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, all part of the Department of Homeland Security, have been raiding workplaces and sweeping transit centers, isolating individual immigrants and detaining them.

In this way, when people are alone, the government can intimidate the immigrant community--because they dare not challenge the large crowds of protesters, people raising their voices against the inhumane Sensenbrenner bill or the STRIVE Act. This sort of random intimidation is guaranteed to continue under any legislation that expands the criminalization of immigrants.
Josh Karpoff, Rochester, N.Y.

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Who polices the police?

REMEMBER THE three Atlanta police officers who killed a 92-year-old woman who was just defending her home? A grand jury has indicted them for something other than murder, but perhaps at least they will receive some sort of punishment.

Every city, county and state should have police review boards. We citizens need to stand up against police brutality, corruption and abuse, unless we want to live in a police state.
Chuck Mann, Greensboro, N.C.

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