Hello my fellow rabble-rousers,
The conventional wisdom has always been that the summer news cycle is slow. Politicians have taken a break for the summer and the public is more interested in the sunshine and barbeques than keeping up with the news. This summer however has broken with tradition. In the last month, courts in the United States have returned two utterly shameful verdicts.
First, in the George Zimmerman murder trial, Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin. The prosecutor never raised the issue of racial profiling, and the instructions to the jury were so convoluted that they left the jurors confused over whether or not the controversial ‘stand your ground’ law was at play in the case. Once again the prosecution put the victim on trial and justice was not served.
Second, we have the Bradley Manning case. Just yesterday the judge in the court marshal returned with a guilty verdict on six counts under the Espionage Act of 1917 for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks. This persecution of Manning fits into a larger pattern in the government crackdown on whistleblowers and freedom of the press. The precedent set by this case will have far reaching implications both for the future of national security, journalism and for future whistleblowers. Bradley Manning is now facing up to 136 years in prison for exposing war crimes. The aim is to keep future people of conscience from leaking information and to starve investigative journalists of information so that they can continue to act with impunity in their worldwide war on terror.
Both of these legal decisions are as infuriating as they are wide-reaching. And both have sparked outrage and not just in the United States
This week we have a couple of Lynn Williams Activist Toolkit articles that address these miscarriages of justice.
The first is a history of The Espionage Act. This act was first passed in 1917 to persecute anti-war activists and assorted radicals who opposed the United States involvement in the First World War. 96 years later the United States used this same piece of anti-democratic legislation to punish Bradley Manning for exposing American war crimes.
The second is the Showing Up for Social Justice authored Justice for Trayvon Martin Action Kit. The kit offers a number of suggestions for positive outlets for the frustration we all feel at the verdict. It also offers a variety of ways to engage people who have no experience with racial justice organizing and may not yet have the knowledge or vocabulary that they need.
Beyond that we have a trio of disparate actions and resources that you can take on that are a little closer to home. We have a petition demanding that the Canadian Border Service release Gambian Freedom Fighter Muhammed Sillah. He has been held in detention for over three months despite having been granted a stay in the deportation proceedings. He deserves to be set free to continue his fight to get refugee status.
Next we have an interactive map that allows people to search for services in their area that are geared towards youth homelessness. With the homeless youth population on the rise, having a directory of services in your neighbourhood will come in handy for anti-poverty and social justice activists of all stripes.
The last in our Canada-specific tools is a workshop guide offered by the OFL. The guide is called Democratic and Economic Rights: Training the Trainer Workshop. It will give you all the tools you need to go into your workplace or community to teach others about their economic and democratic rights and empower them to pass that information on in workshops of their own.
And finally we have our contributions to the Sovereignty Summer project. As promised we have the second part of the gender discrimination in The Indian Act story with the history of Indigenous women’s fight for Bill C-31. These brave women fought and won against the Canadian government who tried to eliminate ‘Indians’ by denying them and their children their rights as indigenous peoples.
And from the plus ça change file, the Maasi people of Tanzania are being forced out of their ancestral lands to make way for big game hunters. We have a petition for you to sign to demand that the Tanzanian government respect the Maasai people’s right to live and thrive in their own homelands.
Next week we will be doing something a little different. Check back in to listen to a short documentary about the demonstration that took place last Monday to mark the death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim at the hands of the Toronto Police.
Please remember that the Lynn Williams Activist toolkit is always looking for new content. If you notice anything that you think should be added to the archives, be it a movement that we have yet to address, a historical moment that the community should be aware of, or a resource that would be helpful to your fellow community members please add it to the Toolkit! It is easy to post new articles or to comment on existing ones. The Activist Toolkit can only get better if we all work together to pool our collective knowledge…
Á la prochaine mes amis!