It is Your Duty to Refuse: Former Army Rangers Write to U.S. Troops

Central Americans seeking asylum status

To All Active Duty Soldiers:

Your Commander-in-chief is lying to you. You should refuse his orders to deploy to the southern US border should you be called to do so. Despite what Trump and his administration are saying, the migrants moving North towards the US are not a threat. These small numbers of people are escaping intense violence. In fact, much of the reason these men and women—with families just like yours and ours—are fleeing their homes is because of the US meddling in their country’s elections. Look no further than Honduras, where the Obama administration supported the overthrow of a democratically elected president who was then replaced by a repressive dictator.

These extremely poor and vulnerable people are desperate for peace. Who among us would walk a thousand miles with only the clothes on our back without great cause? The odds are good that your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. lived similar experiences to these migrants. Unless your ancestors are native to this land, your family members came to the US to seek a better life—some fled violence. Consider this as you are asked to confront these unarmed men, women and children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. To do so would be the ultimate hypocrisy.

US is the richest country in the world, in part because it has exploited countries in Latin America for decades. If you treat people from these countries like criminals, as Trump hopes you will, you only contribute to the legacy of pillage and plunder beneath our southern border. We need to confront this history together, we need to confront the reality of America’s wealth and both share and give it back with these people. Above all else, we cannot turn them away at our door. They will die if we do.

By every moral or ethical standard it is your duty to refuse orders to “defend” the US from these migrants. History will look kindly upon you if you do. There are tens of thousands of us who will support your decision to lay your weapons down. You are better than your Commander-in-chief. Our only advice is to resist in groups. Organize with your fellow soldiers. Do not go this alone. It is much harder to punish the many than the few.

In solidarity,

Rory Fanning
Former US Army Ranger, War-Resister

Spenser Rapone
Former US Army Ranger and Infantry Officer, War-Resister

 

Published in The Nation, November 2, 20018
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RORY FANNING AND SPENSER RAPONE

 

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The Town that Fought ICE

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MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — One morning in April, federal immigration agents swept into a meatpacking plant in this northeastern Tennessee manufacturing town, launching one of the biggest workplace raids since President Trump took office with a pledge to crack down on illegal immigration.

Dozens of panicked workers fled in every direction, some wedging themselves between beef carcasses or crouching under bloody butcher tables. About 100 workers, including at least one American citizen, were rounded up — every Latino employee at the plant, it turned out, save a man who had hidden in a freezer.

The raid occurred in a state that is on the raw front lines of the immigration debate. Mr. Trump won 61 percent of the vote in Tennessee, and continues to enjoy wide popularity. The state’s rapidly growing immigrant population, now estimated to total more than 320,000, has become a favorite target of the Republican-controlled State Legislature. In 2017, Tennessee lawmakers passed the nation’s first law requiring stiffer sentences for defendants who are in the country illegally. In April, they passed a law requiring the police to help enforce immigration laws and making it illegal for local governments to adopt so-called sanctuary policies.

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But Morristown, a town of 30,000 northeast of Knoxville that was the boyhood home of Davy Crockett, has drawn migrant workers from Latin America since the early 1990s, when they first came to work on the region’s abundant tomato farms. As stepped-up security has made going back and forth across the border more difficult, many of these families have settled into the community, enrolled their kids in school, and joined churches where they have baptized their American-born children.

So the day Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided the Southeastern Provision plant outside the city and sent dozens of workers to out-of-state detention centers was the day people in Morristown began to ask questions many hadn’t thought through before — to the federal government, to the police, to their church leaders, to each other.

Donations of food, clothing and toys for families of the workers streamed in at such volume there was a traffic jam to get into the parking lot of a church. Professors at the college extended a speaking invitation to a young man whose brother and uncle were detained in the raid. Schoolteachers cried as they tried to comfort students whose parents were suddenly gone. There was standing room only at a prayer vigil that drew about 1,000 people to a school gym.

Here, based on interviews with dozens of workers and townspeople, and in their own words (some edited for length and clarity), is how it happened.

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ANGELA SMITH, 42, A LONGTIME RESIDENT OF THE AREA: My first thought was one of sorrow. Oh my goodness, this is going to hurt so many people in the community. It’s going to hurt their kids, our kids. It’s going to have a ripple effect throughout the entire community because these people are part of Morristown. Immediately, I drive over to the parish center to see what I can do to help. I had to park way at the end because it was so packed. I go in, I said, I’m an attorney, how can I help?

The April 5 operation signaled a return to the high-profile immigration raids that last happened during the presidency of George W. Bush. President Barack Obama’s chief workplace enforcement tactic was to conduct payroll audits and impose fines on businesses found to employ unauthorized workers. The Trump administration, on the other hand, has vowed to quintuple worksite enforcement. Last week, ICE agents arrested 114 employees at two worksites operated by a gardening company in Ohio.

All 97 workers taken into custody in the Tennessee raid now face deportation, though several have been released pending hearings. And much of the town is reeling. Up to 160 American-born children have a parent who could soon be ordered to leave the country; many families are relying on handouts.

Nataly Luna, 12, whose father, Reniel, was detained in the raid, at a march through downtown Morristown on April 12. Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

NATALY LUNA, 12, WHOSE FATHER WAS DETAINED: My mom had told us one day it could happen, that one day one of them would be taken. The hardest thing is talking about it.

After the raid, immigrant advocates organized a peace march, and Nataly carried a sign bearing the image of her father, a native of Mexico who had been working in the United States without papers for 20 years before he was taken into custody at the meat plant that day. “We Miss You,” the sign read. “We need you by our side. You are the best father.”

The Town

Nestled between two mountain ranges and flanked by two large lakes, Morristown is the county seat and industrial hub of Hamblen County, where most of the plant workers’ families reside.

The Latinos who arrived here, especially those who came after the late 1990s, were part of a swelling wave of migrants bypassing traditional gateway states like California and Texas to seek opportunity in the fast-growing South. Word reached their villages that jobs were plentiful.

More recently, as with other places, Tennessee has been struggling with a meth and opioid epidemic. As drug abuse has sidelined many working-age American men and women, local employers have increasingly turned to immigrants.

KATIE CAHILL, A RESEARCHER WHO STUDIES PUBLIC HEALTH AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE, KNOXVILLE: Tennessee is facing one of the highest rates of opioid addiction among states. Within this challenged state, you have a county that is doing even worse.

These days, Latinos make up about 11 percent of Hamblen County’s population and account for one of every four students in its public schools. Immigrants toil in meat, poultry and canning plants, as well as at automotive parts, plastics and other factories that dot the area.

MARSHALL RAMSEY, PRESIDENT OF THE MORRISTOWN AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: We don’t get into immigration issues. As long as they are pulling their weight as workers, that is what we appreciate. We’re very proud of our diverse heritage. My wife is actually a seventh-grade schoolteacher here in town and about 50 percent of her class is Hispanic. She raves about parent-teacher conferences. The parents show up. The kids know that the parents have high expectations of them. The parents feel like the kids have been given an opportunity.

Not everyone in town has been welcoming, though. One theme many expressed: The workers were lawbreakers who got caught. In the parking lot of the local Walmart, where several people were talking about the raid at the meat plant, one woman said it could open up employment opportunities. But not everyone agreed with her.

CAROL JONES, A RETIRED NURSING HOME WORKER : Send them back. There will be jobs for Americans, if they get off their butts.

CHARLES ATKINSON, A RETIRED TRUCK DRIVER : You can’t get no Americans to work on the farm or nothing. Mexicans get right in there and do the work.

The Plant

Undocumented workers from Mexico and Guatemala formed the backbone of the work force at Southeastern Provision, located 10 miles north of Morristown in the town of Bean Station. They killed, skinned, decapitated and cut up cattle whose parts were used for, among other things, oxtail soup and a cured meat snack exported to Africa.

Immigrants were critical to the family-owned abattoir’s growth over the last decade. Many of those affected by the raid, fearing further action from the authorities, spoke on the condition that only their first names be used.

A closed taco truck outside a trailer park where a number of the immigrant families live. Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

ELISABETH, 38, WHOSE HUSBAND WAS DETAINED IN THE RAID : He worked there for nine years. When he started, there were only around 10 people. The plant expanded thanks to the Hispanics. It was hard work. He would come home tired and say, ‘We killed 300 cows today.’ In the early years, they’d kill only 15 cows a day. A few months ago, the workers were talking about striking for better pay and work conditions.

With the $11.50 hourly wage that her husband, Tomas, made at the plant and the $9 she earns as a seamstress, Elisabeth and her family could afford the $700 rent for a house big enough to accommodate their six children, three from her previous marriage, and live a relatively stable life, she said. To be sure, the work was heavy, gory and low-paying. Day after day, the workers endured the smell of manure, blood and flesh. But Southeastern Provision offered a major advantage over other businesses: The management, several workers said, didn’t seem to expect them to bother with fake work authorization documents.

ALMA, 35, A NATIVE OF MEXICO WHO WORKED AT THE PLANT FOR TWO YEARS:It was the one place where we could get work using our real names. I made $10 an hour. My job was to operate a big machine that takes the nails out of the hooves and one that slices the skin from the cows’ faces.

Federal authorities said there was evidence that the company had run afoul of the law. In an affidavit, the Internal Revenue Service said the company had withdrawn millions of dollars in cash and told bank employees the money was needed to pay “Hispanics”— suggesting that the company knew it was hiring undocumented workers and evaded payment of federal employment taxes.

An informant hired at the plant in 2017 told investigators that workers felt they couldn’t complain about poor working conditions because of their immigration status. Some had to work unpaid overtime, the informant reported. He said he saw others required to work with “extremely harsh” chemicals without protective eyewear.

A closed Morristown store that sold dresses for quinceañera celebrations. Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

STEPHANIE TEATRO, CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TENNESSEE IMMIGRANT AND REFUGEE RIGHTS COALITION: So far, it has been the workers who have borne all the consequences of the employer’s violations. ICE could have decided to audit this employer, and forced him to pay fines and correct his practices. Instead they conducted a raid that left over 160 children without a parent from one day to the next.

No charges have been filed against the company. A federal criminal investigation is ongoing, said Bryan Cox, an ICE spokesman. The owner, James Brantley, said he couldn’t talk about the case. His lawyer, Norman McKellar, also declined to comment. “We are in a difficult situation,” he said.

The Raid

It was just after 9 a.m., about two hours after more than 100 workers had arrived for the 7 a.m. shift, when shouts of “inmigración, inmigración” rang out across the plant.

Alma went numb. In the cutting line, another worker, Raymunda, put down the butcher’s knife she was holding and raced toward an exit. So did dozens of others, their blood-smeared smocks and protective aprons weighing them down. They soon realized that ICE agents, backed by state law enforcement, blocked every door.

Agents cornered and grabbed workers, sometimes barking “Calma!” in Spanish to those who cried and screamed. Some workers reported that agents pointed guns at them to stop them from fleeing. “I stuck myself between the cows,” Raymunda said. It was to no avail.

RAYMUNDA: We didn’t come here to kill or to steal. We came here purely to work. I have a sister and we were both picked up at the same time.

Within minutes, all the Latinos at the plant were rounded up, including at least one American citizen and several other people who had legal authorization to work.

ONE OF THE WORKERS WHO IS AN AMERICAN CITIZEN: An officer with an ICE vest on grabbed me by my shoulder. He grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. I told him he was hurting me and he told me to shut up. They were grabbing people however. For me, basically all the Hispanics because of their color were handcuffed. The white people just stood there.

Immigrants who were lined up, many of them crying, tried to give the woman messages to pass to their loved ones, because they knew she was an American and, therefore, likely to be freed.

THE AMERICAN CITIZEN: When I tried to talk to workers in the line, they put metal handcuffs on me that bruised me. When I told them I am American, they asked me, where are your documents? I said I had them in my car. When I told them that, they asked me, why don’t you carry your documents? I told them I don’t carry my documents with me because where we work is very dirty. I use a squeegee to clean the blood off the floor in the killing room.

In groups of about a dozen, according to several workers interviewed, Latinos were placed mainly in plastic handcuffs, escorted to white vans with tinted windows and transported to a National Guard Armory. A helicopter hovered above.

Word began to spread that “la migra,” as ICE is known, was in the area. Panicked immigrants walked off the job at other companies in the region and frantically texted each other.

The National Guard Armory in Morristown. Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

VERONICA GALVAN, 29, A WELL-KNOWN FIGURE IN THE LATINO COMMUNITY: I started getting message after message. Is immigration in town? Do you know? I started going through my news feed. I need to find out, especially because my mom works at one of these plants. I pull up to the armory. All these text messages were coming. Are you there? Are you there? Please tell me something, I am desperate. The first thing I thought was, I am going to livestream it on my Facebook.

Ms. Galvan described how she arrived to a crowd amassed behind yellow police tape surrounding the armory, as state troopers stood guard. Relatives of plant workers were crying and obsessively checking their cellphones for news.

Inside, workers said they waited hours to be interviewed and fingerprinted by agents, a process delayed by computer glitches. When agents asked women who had young children to identify themselves, virtually every hand went up.

By late afternoon, agents had released only a handful of people, mainly those in frail health or who had proven they had the legal right to work in the United States.

ANGELA KANIPE, A THIRD-GRADE TEACHER AND BUS DRIVER : Two non-Hispanic kids on the bus were having a conversation about how they were worried about their friends. And they were talking about how God was going to be mad because he doesn’t want you to be mean to people. Why would someone take away someone’s parents? When I think about it, it just breaks my heart. It’s hard not to cry.

JOHNNY GALLARDO, 15, RAYMUNDA’S SON : I saw a lot of Hispanic kids crying in the hall at school. I called my dad and asked, ‘Are you O.K.?’ He said, ‘I’m O.K., but this thing happened to your mom.’ I went to soccer practice like he told me. I tried to take my mind off it. I just played. I have a goal. I want to go to college. Could my dream be destroyed by this?

In the evening, Johnny headed to the armory with his father and 7-year-old sister, Brittany, who was weeping. They brought insulin injections to be delivered to his mother, who is diabetic.

Families were gathering in an elementary school across from the armory. By nightfall, about 100 people, including teachers, clergy, lawyers and other community members had assembled. Volunteers distributed pizza, tamales and drinks.

JEFF PERRY, SUPERINTENDENT OF HAMBLEN COUNTY SCHOOLS: I got a call from some of our staff members that they had detained several of the parents at the armory. So we had several hundred people beside the road of the armory. As the numbers grew, the situation became more and more dangerous. We provided access to a school facility to keep folks safe. A lot of our administrators were there, several of our principals there to comfort kids.

As the night wore on, about 30 of the detainees, including Raymunda and Alma, were gradually released.

A little after 1 a.m., the agents announced that no one else would be let go. Workers still in detention — 54 in all — were put on buses to Alabama and then Louisiana.

ELISABETH : I was hoping my husband would be freed. Others came out. But my husband never came out. My husband never came. They have ruined our family. He is a good person. He never mistreated me. He cared for my three older children as if they were his own. My favorite moment was when we all sat together to dinner, blessed the meal and shared our day with each other: What did you do, how was school? We all talked about our day.

IRVIN ROMAN, 21, ELISABETH’S SON: He helped with everything. Now, I have to literally step into his shoes.

Irvin Roman, 21, whose stepfather was detained in the raid, cleaning his family’s home. Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

The Church

St. Patrick Catholic Church’s parish center was converted into a crisis response center. All day, people arrived with food, clothing, toys and supplies for the affected families. At one point, six trucks waited to unload donations.

Volunteers, who showed up by the dozens, received color-coded tags: Yellow for teachers, white for lawyers, and pink for general helpers, who prepared meals in the kitchen, packed grocery bags and performed other tasks.

Bleary-eyed immigrants packed the main room. In smaller rooms, teachers entertained children with stories while their parents received legal services.

COLLEEN JACOBS, A YOUTH MINISTRY COORDINATOR : There was definitely crying, but you could tell you were in a place of people of faith. You still felt love and connection, more than you felt sadness and despair.

Members of other churches turned up to help, some bearing gift cards and checks.

DAVID WILLIAMS, PASTOR AT HILLCREST BAPTIST CHURCH : As a minister of the Gospel, my concern is for affected families and especially the innocent children. These people are my neighbors and live in my community. Our congregation as well as the community is divided on the issue. I try to keep it humanitarian, not political, and certainly not racial!

On Topix , a community website where comments are posted anonymously, one person asked, “Why does St. Patrick Catholic Church support law breakers?”

Another person wrote, “This bust is legal, the people are illegals. Why the big sympathy case? I don’t get it.”

Still, a couple of days later, “we had more volunteers than we knew what to do with. We had to turn people away,” Ms. Jacobs said.

At a news conference, faith leaders and Elisabeth, surrounded by her sons, pleaded for the community to pray for the immigrants.

ELISABETH : I have been here 20 years. All my children were born here. We came here for a better future. We didn’t come to steal or to take anyone’s job. Please help all our families. Pray. Pray a lot.

Hundreds of children missed school after the raid. On the evening of April 7, about 120 teachers and school staff packed the church’s basement to talk about how to assist students. On a poster board, they scrawled their feelings. “I cried Thursday night wondering which of my students were without parents that night,” one teacher wrote. “I feel helpless,” wrote another.

Food donated to families affected by the raid filled a Sunday school classroom at St. Patrick Church. Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

JORDYN HORNER, A SCHOOL LIBRARIAN, ON FACEBOOK : These past two days have been the hardest of my career and I wasn’t prepared. Finding ways to comfort your students who are in tears, upset, angry, and afraid is nearly impossible.

On Monday, three days after the raid, a prayer vigil at Hillcrest Elementary School drew nearly 1,000 people who sat in the bleachers, in folding chairs on the court and, when the chairs ran out, they stood along the walls. A 16-year-old named Ramon stood up to speak.

RAMON : I want to see my mother again. My mother is the only person I have. I live alone now.

Two nights later, St. Patrick Church’s center still brimmed with activity as immigrants and supporters gathered to make posters and banners for a procession through downtown Morristown. Ms. Smith brought her 8-year-old daughter, Laurel, figuring it was an important lesson. “This community is a snapshot of the dissonance of America on immigration,” Ms. Smith said.

At Walters State Community College, instructors gathered in an auditorium to hear Jehova Arzola, 20, an engineering honors student whose brother and uncle were detained, describe his family’s ordeal. No one knew when, or if, they would see them again, he said.

JEHOVA ARZOLA: At any time ICE can come and get you. It doesn’t matter if you are a criminal or law-abiding. They don’t care. The whole community is afraid to leave their houses and go to work. They are afraid there will be another raid.

Families impacted by the raid and local supporters marched through downtown Morristown last month. Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

The Procession

On Thursday, a week after the raid, about 300 people took to Morristown’s downtown streets in the evening to draw attention to the plight of the families. Some people, like Colin Loring and his partner, Margaret Durgin, drove for an hour to participate.

“We are here to support our immigrant neighbors. The system needs to be fixed,” said Mr. Loring, who is retired from the United States Department of Agriculture. Ms. Durgin arrived with a $540 check to help the immigrants.

Before setting out, a nun led the marchers, who wore white and clutched white flowers, in prayer. “We love Morristown. We are here to send a message of love and unity,” they chanted before heading down Main Street. Along the way, a driver shouted an expletive at the crowd from inside his brown truck and sped off.

Pulling to the front of the line was Raymunda, her youngest children, Johnny, 15, and Brittany, 7, by her side. She said she had a notice to appear in court for deportation proceedings.

RAYMUNDA: The truth is, we don’t know what is going to happen next. We have fear, a lot of fear. What else can I say? My husband is incredibly scared. My greatest fear in the world is to have to leave my children.

 

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Difference means danger in America

This is 26-year-old Ethan Saylor,  killed in a Maryland movie theater in 2013  by three off-duty sheriff’s deputies who were working security.  Mr. Saylor,  who had  Down Syndrome and an IQ of 40, had been ordered to leave the theater and had refused. He wanted to see the movie again and to wait for his caregiver,  but had no money for a second ticket and was ordered out.  He died shortly after deputies threw him to the ground and knelt on his back to handcuff him.  Although the coroner ruled his death a homicide caused by asphyxiation, the deputies were not charged.  It took until last month, after years of public struggle and legal appeals, for the Saylor family to finally win what would have to pass for justice for their son.

America  is a dangerous place for some people.  Identifying  those most vulnerable to state intrusion or violence reveals  much of what is most important about our country.

We cannot for a moment set aside the intense scrutiny required of us by law enforcement’s constant threat to African American lives.  In 2017, for example,  although only 13 percent of the population is Black,  23 percent of police shooting fatalities were Black.  But that specific danger lies near the far end of a continuum on which every degree of difference from a narrow norm represents a risk A lot more of us are on that continuum than we realize.  In spite of national rhetoric to the contrary,  the United States is really a strikingly conformist society,  something we often don’t notice until a kind of confrontation suddenly pops up – that is, when the language of a public ideal collides with widespread social stigma instead of covering that stigma up.

Saylor

 

Down Syndrome is such a good example of how that happens, even after the long, hard, and apparently successful struggle by families to transform public perception. It’s hard to believe the clumsy, rough, mean-spirited, and ignorant treatment Ethan received.  He called out for his mother, yelling that he was hurt, shortly before he drew his last breath. And this happened long after Down Syndrome meant a lifetime in institutions, beginning in early childhood. In fact,  America has long been introduced to both the potential and the particular charm of Down Syndrome people, many of whom have big personalities. Until you remember that they used to be routine targets – of ridicule, bullying, physical abuse, hostility, and social isolation. And it looks like, under society’s veneer,  they still are – that’s the mentality exhibited by the deputies who killed Ethan. They admitted that they had immediately recognized him as disabled, but for them that clearly didn’t mean he had specific civil rights protected by federal law.  For them, his disability had a meaning much older than that:  Ethan was upset and uncooperative,  not compliant and inferior. Thus, the deputies ignored the informative pleas of Ethan’s caregiver and moved with quick hostility put him in his place.

 

 

Witness accounts: Theater goers who were present during the incident reported hearing Ethan cry for his mother and struggle with the officers

 

 If we look at what I  believe must be a constant struggle for humanity on the part of just this one segment of disabled Americans,  we have reason for deep sadness on behalf of so many, many more of our people. Inside their hearts, it’s almost like no one really believes they fit in! Maybe that’s why so many of us are preoccupied with keeping others out. I think our nation’s legacy of slavery was so prolonged that violence crept into every crevice of American culture, where it lives like a poison in our bones.

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gilberto

This is Florida resident  Gilberto Powell, 22,  beaten in the face by police who found the bulge in his shirt suspicious. The bulge was Powell’s colostomy bag.  Gilberto has Down Syndrome

 

 

 

 

BLACK HISTORY: A HISTORY OF RESISTENCE

CYRIL BRIGGS, FOUNDER OF THE  FORGOTTEN NATIONAL SELF DEFENSE  ORGANIZATION, THE AFRICAN BLOOD BROTHERHOOD

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CLICK HERE  FOR FULL  STORY

Founder Of The Forgotten ProBlack Movement The African Blood Brotherhood

 

Can I go to Cuba now? Now? Okay, now?

 

What about tomorrow? May I go to Cuba tomorrow?  What time tomorrow?

? Manana? Sabado? Lunes?

 

Mieracoles!!

Junie in the House of Gold

Junie was rolled into the House of Gold late last summer on a dry desert afternoon, three weeks before her 98th birthday.  A wind followed her through the huge front door, carrying the smell of walnut trees and hay. Hundreds and hundreds of walnut trees surround Casa de Oro, extending in neat rows as far as the eye can see.  Junie lay back and watched the ceiling lights zoom past  far above her as she was whisked along a network of  hallways smelling of urine and bleach.  The ceiling was the only thing she could see.  It was a view I had come to know well.

I was hunched on my bed  with the curtain pulled closed when Junie was deposited three feet away onto the adjourning  bed.  If I had looked, I would have seen the  tiniest, oldest, and most fragile woman in the world.  I would have been taken aback by  Junie’s unexpectedly purposeful and glowing gaze.

I didn’t  open the curtain right away, though, or even say hello. Medicaid had just kicked me out of the House of Gold’s Rehab Unit without  any  notice  or  stated  cause, thus eliminating my physical therapy. I’d been hustled out of my separate  Rehab Unit  room with a speed   rarely seen in Casa de Oro, and certainly never hinted at by teenage nursing assistants Yolanda and Tutu.  The surgery I’d  been preparing myself for was automatically terminated.

I sat  behind the curtain, absolutely seething, waiting for a medical van to take me home.

I wasn’t used to this part of the House of Gold and I couldn’t wait to leave.  I was there thirty years too early.

Nurses and their assistants came in and out, speaking loudly to Junie, but not listening to her replies. She spoke very softly, which made it easy for them to ignore her.

I finally pulled the curtain, leaned over, and took her hand. Then I  listened to Junie as hard as I could.

“I know all of the walnut trees,”  she whispered. “And I knew all of the horses.”

Now that I am safe in my own home, I think of Junie.  I won’t ever again set foot in the House of Gold, but I want you to remember what she said.

Junie knew all of the walnut trees and all of the horses.

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Note: Please pardon the poor formatting

 

Latin America Says No to Violence Against Women

Tens of thousands of women across Argentina walked off the job Wednesday to “make noise” against gender violence and economic inequalities in the first national women’s strike in the country’s history . Photo / Cobertura Colaborativa Nosotras Paramos

 

Not One Less! Latin America Says “Ya Basta!” to Violence Against Women 

By Telesure IN PICTURES: Multimedia > Galleries Click for more.
The gruesome rape of a 16-year-old girl has united women across Latin America to demand an end to femicide and sexual violence.

Women from over 150 cities took part in marches to call for an end to the epidemic of violence against women. The marches were organized by the Argentine collective Ni Una Menos, or Not One Less, after a 16-year-old girl was brutally raped and murdered.

Protesters showed signs with the stories of missing or murdered women, chanting “We won’t forgive, we won’t forget!” /Photo: Facción

 

In Costa Rica, women smeared signs reading “I’m tired of being afraid! I want to be alive tomorrow” with red handprints to represent the victims of sexual violence. Photo: Ale Ara

 

In Peru, women held a candlelight vigil to honor the thousands of women who are killed at the hands of men.

Women in Rosario, Argentina yell “We want us alive!”

A man in a march in Chile stands with a sign that reads “I am half naked, surrounded by the opposite sex … and I feel protected not intimidated. I want the same for them.”

Women placed candles in tribute to the victims of femicide, committed primarily by their spouses and partners.

Sign reads “66,000 women are killed each year worldwide.”

UN Monitoring Abuses Against Standing Rock Protectors

Indigenous water protectors face off with police during last week’s military-style raid. (Photo: Wes Enzinna/cc/flickr)

The increasingly violent attacks by North Dakota police and private security forces against peaceful, Indigenous water protectors have caught the nation’s attention as well as that of the United Nations, an arm of which has begun an investigation into the protesters’ claims of human rights abuses, including “excessive force, unlawful arrests, and mistreatment in jail,” the Guardian reported late Monday.

Observers have begun collecting testimonies from those protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline and, on Monday, Grand Chief Edward John, a Native American member of the U.N. permanent forum on Indigenous issues, met with police officials in Mandan, North Dakota and visited the cages where some of the 141 arrested protesters were held after last week’s military-style police raid.

Those detained at the Morton County Correctional Center said that while they were held in the 10-by-14-foot cages they were forced to wait for basic necessities, such as “access to bathrooms, food, water, and medical attention,” the Guardian reported.

“We embarked upon a peaceful and prayerful campaign,” Standing Rock Sioux member Phyllis Young told the U.N. representatives. “They were placed in cages. They had numbers written on their arms very much like concentration camps.” Young said that the police’s treatment of native people was “not only conditions of colonialism, but conditions of war.”

“The government is allowing the police force to be used as a military force to protect an oil company,” added protester Kandi Mossett, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nation.

The Morton County Sheriff’s office has also been accused of tracking the activists through a feature on Facebook, a claim which spurred more than one million people worldwide to “check in” to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation on Monday in an attempt to “overwhelm and confuse” law enforcement and express solidarity with the demonstrators.

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The fact that a campaign of “intimidation and repression” is being waged on behalf of a private company is not to be overlooked, according to a coalition of environmental groups, which late last week sent a letter (pdf) to the owners of the $3.7 billion tar sands pipeline, reminding them of their “complicity” in the ongoing human rights abuses.

“As joint owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline,  you have a corporate duty under international law and the laws of the United States to respect human rights and to avoid complicity in further human rights abuses.  It is imperative that you take action to stop the attacks on peaceful occupiers immediately,” states the letter, which is addressed to officials with Energy Transfer Partners, Phillips 66, Enbridge Energy Partners, and Wells Fargo bank.

The violent raid and mass arrest last week “has created a situation of urgency in which the companies must take immediate responsibility for the human rights impacts of their actions, including the companies’ complicity in the actions of others,” the letter continues:

As a matter of international law, your companies have an affirmative responsibility to protect human rights, including the responsibility to: avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts to peaceful protestors through your companies’ own activities; and to seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to your companies’ operations. These responsibilities also apply to banks and other institutions that provide financing for a project that will cause such adverse human rights impacts.

“We emphasize and caution that the active involvement by persons acting under color of governmental authority, including state or local law enforcement, does not absolve your companies of these duties,” it further states.

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The signatories, who are leaders with the Center for International Environmental Law, Honor the Earth, Bold Alliance, Climate Justice Programme, EarthRights International, Oil Change International, and Greenpeace USA, note that they “have spent decades advocating and litigating on behalf of Indigenous communities outside the United States,” whose rights are too often “violated by proponents of extractive industries around the world…And we are alarmed that these all-too-familiar patterns are playing out in the United States at Standing Rock.”

Similarly, Roberto Borrero, a Taino tribe member and representative of the International Indian Treaty Council, who is assisting the U.N. in collecting the testimonies, told theGuardian, “When you look at what the international standards are for the treatment of people, and you are in a place like the United States, it’s really astounding to hear some of this testimony.”

International human rights watchdog Amnesty International has also sent a delegation of human rights observers to monitor the police response to the ongoing protests. Meanwhile, the water protectors have vowed to maintain their vigil throughout the winter and continue their resistance as the pipeline construction encroaches upon their sacred land and water.

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jeremiah kauffman

JEREMIAH KAUFFMAN: HIS WORLD of ART and POETRY

Stephen Page

Author: The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. Alum: Palomar College, Columbia University, Bennington College. Follow on twitter @SmpageSteve on Instagram @smpagemoria on Facebook @steven.page.1481

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