Saturday, July 29, 2006
Six people were shot and one killed at the Jewish Federation of Seattle by a Muslim man who said he was angry at Israel. A hospital spokeswoman said three of the victims are in critical condition. The surviving women range in age from 23 to 43, including one who is pregnant.
This racist and/or anti-semitic hate crime, and make no mistake that is what this is, can not be excused or written off for any reason. This act is the last thing any in the Jewish or Muslim community need right now - or ever.
Recognizing this fact and the heinousness of the crime the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Seattle condemned the shootings. "When one of us is attacked, none of us are safe," it said in a statement.
While security was tightened in the wake of the attack throughout the Jewish community, the congregation at Seattle's Temple Beth Am was determined to hold its regular Friday night service. Rabbi Jonathan Singer said he felt strongly that the community should come together, in public, soon after the shootings.
"You can't let hatred stop holiness," Singer told the members of his Reform congregation.
He asked them to pray for the victims as well as the family of the shooter.
The following article is from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Six shot, one killed at Seattle Jewish Federation
On the eve of the Jewish Sabbath, a 31-year-old man claiming he was upset about "what was going on in Israel" opened fire at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building, killing one person and wounding five women, one of them pregnant.
Three of the women were in critical condition Friday night with gunshot wounds to the stomach.
The gunman, brandishing a large-caliber semi-automatic pistol, forced his way through the security door at the federation, on Third Avenue downtown, after an employee had punched in her security code.
"He said, 'I am a Muslim American, angry at Israel,' before opening fire on everyone," said Marla Meislin-Dietrich, a database coordinator for the center. "He was randomly shooting at everyone."
The man was booked into King County Jail at 10:38 p.m. as Naveed Afzal Haq on one count of investigation of homicide and five counts of investigation of attempted homicide, according to King County Jail records.
The man apparently was from the Tri-Cities area, and authorities there confirmed Friday night that they had visited two residences in the area and were preparing to go into a third with the assistance of the FBI. A bomb squad was standing by in Kennewick. Local media reported he had a misdemeanor lewd conduct charge pending in Benton County. He allegedly exposed himself in a public place.
The shootings come just weeks after Jewish leaders told Congress that there was a "critical threat" to their institutions nationwide because of escalating tensions in the Middle East.
The FBI has labeled the shootings a "hate crime" based on what the gunman told police in a 911 call.
"I feel sick to my stomach," said Becki Chandler, 35, who has been a volunteer for the Jewish Federation for seven years. She came to Harborview Medical Center as soon as she heard about the shootings. "It feels like a personal attack."
Police apprehended the lone gunman without incident at 4:15 p.m. after officers talked him out of the building.
The man was arrested at the corner of Third Avenue and Lenora Street, near the federation building.
"We believe ... it's a lone individual acting out his antagonism," said David Gomez, an FBI assistant special agent in charge of counterterrorism in Seattle.
In Seattle, FBI agent Fred Gutt said the agency sent out two generalized warnings to Washington law enforcement, on July 21 and on Wednesday, listing general scenarios to be alert for. Places of religious significance were mentioned, including mosques, synagogues and churches, but the warning was not specific, he said.
Gutt said the FBI is helping Seattle police assess whether the gunman was a "lone wolf" or part of a wider plan. If evidence of a terrorist plot evolved, the FBI would become the lead agency, but as of Friday night the case remained Seattle's, Gutt said.
Authorities did not release any details about the suspect and would not discuss possible motives.
In a news conference, police Chief Kerlikowske said the man was a U.S. citizen, but not from Seattle. His relatives were being contacted and interviewed.
"There's nothing to indicate that it's terrorism-related," Gomez said. "But we're monitoring the entire situation."
"This is a sad day in the city of Seattle," Mayor Greg Nickels said. "This is a crime of hate, and there's no place for that in Seattle."
The mayor and Kerlikowske said the city will be providing outreach assistance to the local Jewish community, and added patrols will be on duty to protect synagogues and other Jewish facilities.
Seattle mosques will also be protected by police as a safeguard against possible retaliation from outraged citizens.
Harborview spokeswoman Pamela Steele said five victims were taken to the hospital. "I've never seen such a swarm of people," Steele said of the scene as the victims and medics arrived at the trauma center.
The women ranged in age from the 20s to the 40s. Each suffered gunshot wounds to the abdomen, knee, groin or arm. Three were in surgery and in critical condition Friday night. Two were in satisfactory condition.
A hospital spokesman identified the pregnant woman as Dayna Klein. She was in satisfactory condition with a gunshot wound in her left forearm and was scheduled for surgery. Carol Goldman was in satisfactory condition with injuries to her knees.
Cheryl Stumbo, director of marketing and communications for the federation, also was identified as one of the victims and was in critical condition Friday night.
Kathryn Bush said Friday night that her daughter, Layla Bush, had been injured in the shooting.
"She's out of surgery, but that's all we know," she said in a call Friday night from her Florida home. "We're taking it moment by moment. I'm really in shock right now, but I'm trusting in the Lord to bring me through."
She said her daughter, 23, was "really bright" and always wanted to work for non-profits and foundations. She joined the federation as the office manager and receptionist about six months ago.
Police got the first 911 call of shots fired at the Jewish Federation at 4:03 p.m. Friday just as people were preparing to leave work for the weekend. About 10 people were left in the building. Witnesses said the shooter indicated he was acting because of Israel's actions in Lebanon.
The initial call authorities received reported the shots and a possible hostage situation, assistant Seattle police Chief Nick Metz said at an early evening news conference.
Witnesses to the shooting and people who work at the federation described a chaotic, terrifying scene.
Kami Knatt works at the federation's Holocaust center. As she exited the building, she saw a wounded co-worker fall down. Knatt took her sweater off and tried to stop the bleeding.
"I asked her, 'Are you OK?' She said, 'No, I've been shot.' I kept saying it's going to be OK."
The victim told Knatt: "I'm going to black out, I'm going to black out." Knatt replied: "You're going to be all right."
Several workers and victims ran toward a nearby Starbucks. There was a small pool of blood outside the coffee shop.
Nathaniel Mullins, 43, was turning onto Lenora Street with his 19-year-old daughter when he heard police say, "Get back! Get back!"
Mullins said he saw two shooting victims. "They were covered in blood," he said.
Rachel Hynes works in the building. "I was in the back of the building when I heard gunshots. It sounded like balloons, but they were really loud," she said. "I picked up my purse and I walked out of the building."
Zach Carstensen, who is the director of government relations for the Jewish Federation, said he heard shots and screams.
"People started running, and I started running with them," Carstensen said.
Asked whether he thought his office had been targeted because of the conflict in the Mideast, Carstensen said he wasn't sure. "We're all a little shaken, he said.
Jesse Black, general manager of Nyberg Locksmiths on Third Avenue diagonally across from the building, heard the shots and went to the sidewalk.
The cops yelled at him, "Get off the street because there's a sniper on the roof." He looked up and saw a figure in a white shirt on the rooftop.
Immediately after the shooting, a SWAT team searched the federation building for any other victims, anyone hiding or any other possible shooters, said police spokesman Rich Pruitt.
Police blocked off several city blocks to investigate. The suspect's vehicle was recovered near the shooting scene, Metz said. Police spent some time checking it for bombs before having it towed.
The federation issued a statement:
"Our federation colleagues so unmercifully and viciously attacked were spending their day as they normally do, providing for social and humanitarian services that benefited all of metropolitan Seattle. The hatred and violence visited upon them today offends the values that drove their work and passion for improving their neighbors' lives."
Early in July, Jewish non-profit organizations received more than half the federal homeland security grants to "harden" such "at-risk" non-profit groups against terrorist threats. Jewish groups received about $14 million of $25 million earmarked by Congress in 2005.
The federation building is known for its security, with gates and buzzers. Jacobs said the federation has an electronic security system that allows it to control access to the office. The shooter could not have simply entered the building unseen, said Anti-Defamation League leader Robert Jacobs.
The Muslim community in the region watched in horror as news broke of the shooting.
"We categorically condemn this and any similar acts of violence," the Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a joint statement with the Ithna-Ashari Muslim Association of the Northwest, the Muslim Association of Puget Sound, the Islamic Educational Center of Seattle, American Muslims of Puget Sound and the Arab American Community Coalition.
"We pray for the safety and health of those injured and offer our heartfelt condolences to the family of the victims of this attack. ... We refuse to see the violence in the Middle East spill over to our cities and neighborhoods. We reject and categorically condemn any attacks against the Jewish community and stand in solidarity with the Jewish Federation in this tragedy."
The Seattle City Council issued a statement Friday offering its condolences to the victims and their families.
"There is too much hate and violence in the world and we do not wish to bring it to Seattle," said council President Nick Licata in the statement.
Just hours before the shooting, Jacobs ate lunch with shooting victim Dayna Klein.
"She's just a wonderful, ebullient, energetic person," said Jacobs, ADL's Pacific Northwest regional director. "She heads up major gifts and development for the federation."
He called shooting victim Cheryl Stumbo, a non-Jewish Unitarian, "a warm, good human being. She really brought a tremendous understanding of marketing to the federation."
Iantha Sidell, past board chairman of the federation, went to Harborview after the shootings to lend her support.
"This is just a disaster," she said. "We value every life. I don't know what we're going to do about it. We believe in life."
Friday, July 28, 2006
According to its web site, the mission of the Christian Council of Britain is:
The Christian Council of Britain is a non-denominational, non-proselytising body of Christian ladies and gentlemen who have come together to ensure a healthy future for Christians in Britain.
At this time of moral crisis and faced with the very real prospect of the spiritual void being filled with dangerous creeds and cults, now more than ever, is a strong voice needed to reconnect church with the lost congregations.
The CCOB will aim to :
1. Promote conditions enabling Christians to speak with one united voice on matters of social justice, equality under the law and freedom of expression.
2. Work towards the removal of barriers to the expression of our faith and all forms of discrimination faced by Christians.
3. Strengthen the position of the Christian faiths as the foundation stones of life in Britain.
4. Raise awareness of the threat to our ancient faiths, values and our very existence by false prophets.
However, as you might guess, the mission statement and the mission are not quite the same.
The following article comes from Searchlight (UK).
The BNP and Christianity
In its latest move to erect a veneer of respectability for its anti-Muslim campaign the British National Party (BNP) has attempted to “Christianise” its racist message. David Williams investigates the reality behind its new “religious” front group, the Christian Council of Britain.
In the run-up to the May 2006 council elections billed by the BNP as a “referendum on Islam” the party toned down much of its traditional racist rhetoric to enable it to focus its energies on its virulently anti-Muslim campaign, which it perceives as the platform most likely to propel it to power. It is in this context that the BNP is increasingly deploying religious arguments and metaphors to justify its crude racist crusade against Britain’s Muslims, proclaiming that it is “defending Britain’s Christian culture” against the “Islamification” of Britain.
In March 2006 it formed its own religious front group, the Christian Council of Britain (CCB), as a counterpoint to the Muslim Council of Britain. The CCB, which seeks to provide a religious veneer to the BNP’s racial ideology, emerged in response to the trial of Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, in order to give his statements that Islam was a “vicious, wicked faith” an air of religious authority.
The CCB also sought to exploit the fundamentalist Christian backlash against the satirical West End musical “Jerry Springer – The Opera” organised by the small but militant conservative evangelical religious sect Christian Voice (CV), noted for both its homophobia and its rejection of evolution. Led from Surbiton by Stephen Green, a former chairman of the Conservative Family Campaign, CV objected to what it perceives to be the musical’s profane and blasphemous content.
CV’s campaign initially focussed on picketing the show in Covent Garden’s Cambridge Theatre but reached its crescendo in its attempt to prevent the BBC from screening the musical in 2005. Before the broadcast CV deluged the corporation with complaints – the BBC received 47,000 in all. In the event 1.8 million people watched the show, eliciting only 900 complaints and 500 expressions of support, which suggested that people were not nearly so offended when they had actually viewed it. In a further attempt to stop the screening CV posted the personal details of a number of BBC staff on its website, a tried and tested tactic of religious extremists particularly in the anti-abortion move-ment, who use such methods to intimidate their opponents and in some cases worse. Indeed, one BBC manager was warned that “bloodshed” would ensue unless the show was axed. Green of course denied responsibility for the threats that BBC staff and their families received. Having failed to prevent the screening CV brought a private blasphemy prosecution against the BBC.
At the beginning of the year CV focussed on protesting against the national tour of “Jerry Springer” which began at Plymouth’s Theatre Royal. Keen to muscle in on the publicity which CV was garnering, the BNP formally announced its support for its “fellow Christians” in the “Action Group Springer”, a Christian umbrella group in Plymouth led by local CV member John Hollins, which was protesting against the performance in the city. Comically the Plymouth BNP group, led by Graham Green, issued a supportive statement that exhibited a woeful lack of basic knowledge concerning their own professed faith by accusing Plymouth Council of washing its hands of responsibility for the performance like “Judas Iscariot”. As most primary school children could tell you, it was Pontius Pilate who had famously wrung his hands of responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ not Jesus’s disciple Judas who betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver. When its faux pas was pointed out the BNP quickly amended its website, though his name is still spelt incorrectly as “Pontius Pilot”.
Following the exposure of the BNP attempt to hijack the CV protest, CV made it clear that the BNP was unwelcome. In a statement CV repudiated the party as a “racist, white supremacist, paganist, volkist, anti-Christian, evolutionist and antisemitic organisation” whose website was “lacking Christian humanity”. Rejecting the BNP’s divisive racism, it pointed out that “God has made all nations ‘of one blood’” (Acts 17:26) while Paul told the early church in Ephesus: “I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Eph 3:14-15). The BNP was furious. BNP press officer Stuart Russell, under his alias Dr Phil Edwards, sent an angry email to CV berating it for its “un Christian hatred” towards the party while reaffirming his racist belief that “white people are more highly evolved than blacks”.
From the outset the BNP lied about its relationship with the CCB. It claimed BNP members had merely “joined up” with the CCB in order to register its own outrage when “Jerry Springer” arrived at Leicester’s De Montfort Hall in late February 2006. However, as Media Watch pointed out, the photographs of the “Christians” protesting in Leicester bore a striking similarity to photographs of BNP supporters outside Griffin’s trial in Leeds in January. One “Christian” protester interviewed by the Leicester Mercury, Wayne McDermott, was pictured carrying a CCB placard calling on people to “Defend Christian Values”. The newspaper failed to mention that McDermott was a BNP member.
The CCB website was registered on 9 January to Steve Blake, the BNP webmaster and assistant organiser of the BNP in Scotland, who manages Digital Scotland, an IT consultancy company based in the Stirling area. As a student in the 1980s Blake ran Aurora Promotions, which imported hardline paramilitary and Nazi material from the United States. Developing the CCB website is clearly not one of Blake’s priorities at the moment, however. It has been devoid of content since its registration save for a links page leading to a few Christian groups, all of whom issued a joint statement fiercely repudiating any link with the CCB. The credibility of the CCB suffered a further blow when virtually every religi-ous institution issued public statements condemning the BNP’s attempt to use religion to sow segregation and division.
So far the only figure publicly associated with the CCB is “Reverend” Robert West, a councillor for the Holbeach Town ward of South Holland District Council in Lincolnshire. West, who was elected as a Conservative and taught political philosophy and equal opportunities law under franchise at the universities of Nottingham and East Anglia, was ironically also a member of the Lincolnshire Council for Racial Equality. At a Conservative constituency dinner on 29 October 2004 West had harangued the association’s guest, Conservative party chairman Dr Liam Fox, wanting to know what he was doing about the decision of Barclays Bank to close the BNP’s bank accounts in the wake of the screening of the BBC documentary Secret Agent. In email correspondence with Dr Fox afterwards, West described the programme as “hardly damning of that Party … rather the reverse”, despite the fact that it showed BNP members confessing to racially motivated crimes, something Dr Fox rightly pointed out to him.
In numerous interviews West denied that the CCB was a BNP front though he conceded that the BNP had “encouraged and facilitated” its establishment, something of an understatement given Blake’s involvement. West, who also works as a supply teacher, was photographed outside Leeds Crown Court in November 2005, on the occasion of one of Griffin’s pre-trial appearances, delivering what the IndyMedia website described as, “the most bizarre semi religious political ranting ever heard. Whether he was a real priest or some nutter who has bought his qualifications and outfit off the Internet was unclear.” West’s religious credentials are certainly obscure. The Times stated he was an ordained elder of the Apostolic Church, an institution that not only claims no knowledge of West but also repudiates his views and those of the BNP.
West stepped into the limelight in February 2006 when he addressed a 200-strong meeting of the BNP in Huddersfield alongside Griffin during which West derided multiracial society as “a transgression of God’s will”. The national Conservative Party reacted by suspending West though his local branch, the South Holland and Deepings Conservative Association, gave him the benefit of the doubt after West convinced them that he had only attended the meeting in order to preach the gospel to the BNP.
Interviewed by G Focus, a BBC radio gospel music programme, West insisted that the CCB had been formed “to represent Christian values and the Christian Heritage of the country” at a time when the institutional churches “have lost their way” and no longer followed “holy scripture”. As the religious think-tank Ekklesia highlighted, West was referring to the Methodists and the Church of England, both of who have been outspoken in their condemnation of the racist BNP and its attempts to inflame racial hatred against Muslims, as has virtually every other religious leader in the country.
In his pronouncements West emphasised that the racist theology of the CCB sought to give the BNP’s racial nationalism a religious veneer by upholding “the biblical teaching of nations” and ergo the desire to build racially segregated “national homelands” which will maintain, develop and safeguard white racial identity. This led naturally to West voicing his support for the BNP’s repatriation policy, which he claimed was “in line with the scriptural doctrine that races are divided into nations and homelands”. Indeed West believes that “the mixing of races challenges the glory of God”. The National Front in the 1970s and 1980s used just such a racist interpretation of the scripture to justify South Africa’s murderous apartheid regime.
Highlighting its role as a vehicle for protesting at Griffin’s trial West proclaims that the CCB was formed to “counter attacks on free speech”. This is particularly hypocritical given the sight of BNP activists unashamedly waving CCB placards while trying to have “Jerry Springer” banned. The irony was presumably lost on them.
The protestations that the CCB was not a BNP front group were a pathetic and unworthy charade that collapsed in the wake of the 2006 local council elections when West officially defected to the BNP. He claimed his decision was precipitated by the move by David Cameron, the Conservative leader, to recruit a greater number of ethnic minority and female candidates – the so-called A List. West’s defection outraged many local Conservatives who had stood by him when censured by the national party. Disgusted with his duplicity they are calling for a by-election. For his part West claims to have founded his own church operating from a house in Holbeach, Spalding to preach “traditional bible beliefs”, though he has also been spotted out and about canvassing for the BNP in Lincoln where one irate householder threw a jug of iced water over him when he tried to peddle his racist faith on her doorstep.
Despite constant crowing that West has become the “fifty-fourth” BNP councillor (a number derived by unrealistically counting both the erroneous election results in the BNP’s favour), his defection should be not be interpreted as a triumph for the party. In West the BNP may have temporarily gained another councillor but its wider strategy – to permeate religious, cultural and political structures with its racist theology, which bears no resemblance to the sincere Christian faith it purports to represent – has ended in humiliating failure, its “Christian” conversion revealed as a hollow sham lacking either coherence or sincerity.
The crude attempt by the BNP to “Christianise” its racial message is particularly ironic given that the BNP website harks back to the halcyon days of pre-Christian paganism (!) calling for the resurrection of “ancient faiths” while extolling the virtues of “ancestral folk traditions”. As far as the BNP is concerned “Christian” equals “white”, the party apparently being unaware that the vast majority of Christians in this world are black Africans. At best the BNP has a tenuous grasp of genuine Christian theology, with which its own ideology is clearly incompatible. Indeed as Dr Giles Fraser, the vicar of Putney, observed, “if Jesus were ever to walk this green and pleasant land, the BNP would be committed to his repatriation. Even their great love of St George is a joke: George was either Turkish or Palestinian, and his legend migrated to this country from the Middle East.” These thoughts aside the underlying BNP strategy remains clear: to set religion against religion and in doing so to fuel division and hatred.
© Searchlight Magazine 2006
National Grassroots Immigrant Strategy Conference
Friday - Sunday July 28-30, 2006
Ward Circle Building, American University
The success of May 1st's "A Day Without Immigrants" has been an historical turning point for the immigrant rights movement.
At this point it is vitally important for the immigrant rights movement to keep the momentum going, and there is an urgent need for national meetings in which community/grassroots immigrant activists can meet face-to-face to discuss how to build a new national, broad-based, immigrant rights/civil rights movement, and to set a 6-9 month national strategy for this movement.
The Senate's immigration 'reform' bill (S. 2611) positive provisions,) are far outweighed by the damaging impacts it will have
When the Senate bill meets that of the House (HR 4437) in conference the outcome, if there is any, will inevitably be worse.
There is a pressing need to quickly ourselves nationally for what we know will be a long grassroots campaign to defeat the racist anti-immigration legislation currently being debated.
There is a need to maintain the momentum of the undeniable success of the Los Angeles March 25th "Gran Marcha" and the national May 1st "A Day Without Immigrants" boycott/strike.
In order to successfully move forward in our organizing process, there is a need to resolve the conflicts that have arisen within the movement, many of which (not all,) are a result of tactical differences (primarily regarding the May 1 boycott.)
TRUE SOLIDARITY (founded on mutual aid and respect and demonstrated through embracing a diversity of tactics,) between progressive mobilizations across the country can only benefit us all.
The following are the Working Goals of the Conference:
1. Agree on points of unity for a new civil/ human /immigrant rights movement.
2. Create a broad-based, multiethnic, community-led national immigrant solidarity coalition (similar to coalition models such as United for Peace & Justice and US Labor Against the War), with an elected steering committee and working groups.
3. Set a 6-9 month national campaign strategy plan for united action.
4. Establish a framework for true solidarity amongst organizations nationally by: recognizing our common points of unity and the value of a diversity of tactics. Such solidarity will, hopefully, resolve the conflicts that have arisen in the movement and allow us to focus on the work at hand
Working Points of Unity for the Conference:
(Drafted by the Los Angeles March 25th Coalition)
- No to the anti-immigrant HR4437/SB2611 legislations from Congress
- No to militarization of the border
- No to criminalization of immigrant communities
- No to the planned immigrant crackdown across the country
- No to the guest worker program
- No to Employer Sanctions
- Yes to amnesty for undocumented immigrants
- Yes to immigrant family reunification
- Yes to a humane path to citizenship
- Yes to labor rights and living wages for all workers
Vision of the Conference:
We envision this as a grassroots activist conference of broad-based, multiethnic organizers from African American, Native American, African immigrant, Asian American, Latino/Latina, Arab-Muslim-North African, progressive labor, interfaith, LGBT, student, anti-war/peace and global justice groups from across the country.
We envision this conference as a nexus around which a large diversity of organizations can cultivate true solidarity, e.g. anti-militarization of the border/ anti-war efforts, joint labor/ immigrant rights work regarding the effects of N.A.F.T.A.
We invite your organization:
To attend and endorse the conference;
To register as soon as possible-to do so will help us finalize logistics with the university.
To guide the program of the conference by offering workshops;
To support our call for creating a national coalition, and consider running for a position on the steering committee or in working groups;
To bring proposals for the 6-9 month campaign strategy.
On May 1st, millions of us made history with our nationwide action, "A Day Without Immigrants". We have shown the world that our force, our strength and our voice cannot be silenced from this moment -- and we'll fight for our demands until we prevail! United We'll Win! Together We'll Achieve Our Dreams!
United We'll Win! Together We'll Achieve Our Dreams!
In 1973, Chicano activist and lawyer Francisco "Kiko" Martinez was indicted in Colorado on trumped-up bombing charges and suspended from the bar. He was forced to leave the United States for fear of assassination by police directed to shoot him "on sight." When Martinez was eventually brought to trial in the 1980s, many of the charges against him were dropped for insufficient evidence and local juries acquitted him of others. One case ended in a mistrial when it was found that the judge had met secretly with prosecutors, police, and government witnesses to plan perjured testimony, and had conspired with the FBI to conceal video cameras in the courtroom.
The government wasn't done with him though.
Kiko's name was added to the FBI terrorist-watch list after 9/11 and harrassement ensued. Kiko has been stopped and detained by police in three states.
Now he has filed a law suit challenging the government's ability to detain him.
The Denver Post reports that Kiko was stopped first in Colorado, then in Illinois and New Mexico. Police stopped Martinez on traffic violations and held him without a warrant for hours, in one case handcuffing him and placing him in a locked police car, while they checked his status with federal counter-terrorism officials, the lawsuit alleges.
"We're challenging their ability to subject him to de facto arrests. They're not just tracking him," attorney Richard Rosenstock of Santa Fe said after filing the 17-page complaint reports the Post.
"What if his turning signal stops working? He could be held for hours. ... How many times do they get to stop him?"
The lawsuit names FBI Director Robert Mueller and local police and seeks unspecified compensation and punitive damages.
"I believe this illegal government conduct represents an even greater loss of freedom than the warrantless telephone surveillance we have all heard about," said Martinez, a civil rights attorney who lives in Alamosa, Colorado.
The following is from the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Suit: Traffic stops tied to terrorist list
An activist attorney from Colorado filed suit against law-enforcement officials Thursday, alleging he was illegally detained at traffic stops in New Mexico and two other states because his name is on an FBI terrorist-watch list.
Francisco "Kiko" Martinez, an Alamosa, Colo., attorney, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Santa Fe.
Defendants in the suit are former New Mexico State Police Chief Carlos Maldonado, State Police Officer Ernest Garcia, former Pojoaque Pueblo Police Officer Shane Schultz, FBI Director Robert Mueller, FBI agent Chris MacHovina and an unnamed FBI employee referred to as "John Doe."
Martinez alleges in his suit that his constitutional rights were violated during traffic stops in Pueblo, Colo., in 2000; in Illinois in 2004; and on a stretch of N.M. 84/285 that runs through Pojoaque Pueblo in April 2005.
In all three incidents, Martinez contends, law-enforcement officers detained him without probable cause or reasonable suspicion that he had committed a crime. Martinez, 59, is seeking unspecified damages and attorney fees in his lawsuit.
He acknowledged Thursday that winning the suit would be difficult but also said he isn't willing to back down. "There's some serious principles involved, and we're not going to yield," Martinez said at a news conference at the Capitol.
Pojoaque Pueblo Gov. George Rivera did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment. Spokesmen for the FBI and the state Department of Public Safety, which oversees the State Police, said they could not comment on pending litigation.
Martinez describes himself in the suit as a "longtime and vocal public advocate for the rights of Hispanic peoples and others" and alleges the FBI placed him on a terrorist-watch list in retaliation for his political beliefs or associations.
He said at the news conference he didn't know exactly why he was placed on the watch list but suspects his political activism was behind it. Martinez said his clients have ranged from prisoners to community groups. "I've willingly represented those people, and in the course of that representation, I've gotten myself some enemies because I don't bend over easily," he said.
In 1973, Martinez was charged with mailing package bombs in Denver to a police officer, a school-board member and a motorcycle shop. He was a fugitive in Mexico until 1980, when he was taken into custody while attempting to cross the border into Arizona.
Many of the criminal charges relating to the mail-bombs and the border crossing were dropped because of insufficient evidence, and juries acquitted Martinez on the other counts.
His lawsuit says he was returning home after giving a speech at The University of New Mexico on April 19, 2005, when Schultz pulled him over for speeding.
Another tribal police officer and Garcia then arrived at the scene, and Schultz told Martinez he thought Martinez had drugs and weapons, and asked to search his car, according to the lawsuit. After Martinez refused, the suit says, Garcia and Schultz forced him to spread his arms and legs for a pat-down search. The lawsuit alleges Garcia and Schultz threatened to seize Martinez's car, then handcuffed him and kept him in a police car.
The suit says a police dispatcher told Schultz that Martinez had no arrest warrants outstanding but was a member of a terrorist group. According to the lawsuit, MacHovina told Schultz that Martinez was on the FBI's terrorist-watch list.
Garcia and Schultz released Martinez after about an hour but not before Garcia told him that the next time, they would "get him," according to the lawsuit.
"When I was by myself in the middle of the night, I was fearful. I really thought that something was going to happen that night," Martinez said Thursday.
Daniel Yohalem, one of two Santa Fe attorneys representing Martinez, said there are likely thousands of people on the FBI watch list who have no idea how they got on it. "It's an incredibly Kafka-esque situation," Yohalem said.
The case has been assigned to Judge John Conway, according to Martinez's attorneys.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Demanding a moratorium on the clear cut logging on traditional lands, Grassy Narrows First Nation has teamed up with environmental groups to shut down traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway.
Miner and News reports the blocaders are fighting clear-cutting by both Weyerhaeuser and Abitibi Consolidated Inc., a cause which they have been protesting against for many years.
“We’re here to draw attention to the fact that Grassy Narrows has held a blockade that’s been ignored by the government,” said Leah Henderson, a media contact on-site at the highway from the Rainforest Action Network. “We think it was time to give some attention to the Grassy Narrows struggle."
"The clear-cutting of the land is an attack on our people," said Roberta Keesick, a Grassy Narrows blockader and grandmother. "The land is the basis of who we are. Our culture is a land-based culture, and the destruction of the land is the destruction of our culture. Weyerhaeuser and the McGuinty government don't want us on the land, they want us out of the way so they can take the resources. We can't allow them to carry on with this cultural genocide."
Adds Joe Fobister, a Grassy Narrows spokesman, "We just want them to get out of our territory. They've done so much damage to our territory, we can't afford to see any more of that land destroyed."
For more than a decade, the Grassy Narrows community has struggled to end clear-cut logging on their traditional land. Government and industry have failed to respond to years of official complaints, environmental assessment requests, negotiations, and public protests which gave rise to a blockade that has kept logging trucks off highway 671 for more than three years.
The following is from the CNW Group (Canada).
Boreal Crisis Grows - 9 More Arrested for Defending Grassy Narrows Traditional Territory from Clear-cut Logging
KENORA, ON, July 27 /CNW/ - Last night, Ontario Provincial Police
officers arrested Chrissy Swain, member of the Grassy Narrows First Nation,
and 8 supporters on English River Road. The group had been blocking trucks
hauling logs to Weyerhaeuser's TrusJoist mill in Kenora since Tuesday
afternoon to demand a moratorium on clear cut logging within the community's
Traditional Territory. The nine were charged with mischief and released early
this morning on the condition that they leave Kenora within 24 hours.
The arrests marked the first time ever that a member of the First Nation
community has been arrested for defending its Traditional Territory from
"Weyerhaeuser and Abitibi are destroying our people by logging our Boreal
Forest," said Chrissy Swain, a young Grassy Narrows mother from the blockade
site. "We've been passive for too long while we've suffered from the impacts
of industrial logging. Our people are sick and we can't afford to allow this
anymore. We are standing up to protect our land and our children's future."
The English River blockade is the second protest by the Grassy Narrows
community in as many weeks and the latest development in a decade long
campaign to end logging without the native community's consent.
Last Thursday, July 13th, over 80 supporters blocked traffic on the
Transcanada Highway. The following day, Ontario Provicial Police officers
established checkpoints on Highway 671, arresting 9 allegedly involved in the
protest. Supporters criticized the OPP for jailing and interrogating people of
color including several First Nations individuals, while Caucasians among the
arrestees were released with a citation. Hearings in the case will take place
Sept 18th in Kenora.
"It is obscene that the Ontario government is arresting peaceful
protestors and allowing Abitibi and Weyerhaeuser to continue destroying the
land and way of life of the Grassy Narrows people," says David Sone, organizer
with the Rainforest Action Network and one of the individuals arrested
Wednesday night. "I now am part of a long and proud history of people who
stood up for what was right and just during a time that government refused to
respect human rights."
"The forest should be protected," said Steve Fobister, Councilor in
charge of Forests Portfolio for the Grassy Narrows Council. "Whatever trees we
have left should remain for our purposes and our survival as a people. For
over a century we have shared the land, but Abitibi and Weyerhaeuser have
abused our generosity for too long. The Provincial government must stop
abusing our human rights by destroying the Boreal Forest that we depend on."
As the song so correctly says,
What is it good for
What is it good for
War is something that I despise
For it means destruction of innocent lives
For it means tears in thousands of mothers' eyes
When their sons go out to fight to give their lives
What is it good for
Say it again
What is it good for
It's nothing but a heartbreaker
Friend only to the undertaker
War is the enemy of all mankind
The thought of war blows my mind
Handed down from generation to generation
Who wants to die
What is it good for
Say it again
What is it good for
War has shattered many young men's dreams
Made them disabled bitter and meanLife is too precious to be fighting wars
War can't give life it can only take it away
It's nothing but a heartbreaker
Friend only to the undertaker
Peace love and understanding
There must be some place for these things today
They say we must fight to keep our freedom
But Lord there's gotta be a better way
That's better than
What is it good for
Say it again
What is it good for
Along Lebanon's sandy beaches and rocky headlands runs a belt of black sludge, 10,000 to 30,000 tons of oil that spilled into the Mediterranean Sea after Israel bombed a power plant.
Lebanon's Environment Ministry says the oil flooded into the sea when Israeli jets hit storage tanks at the Jiyyeh plant south of Beirut on July 13 and 15, creating an ecological crisis that Lebanon's government has neither the money nor the expertise to deal with.
"We have never seen a spill like this in the history of Lebanon. It is a major catastrophe," Environment Minister Yacoub al-Sarraf told Reuters.
The first article below is from Nahamet (Lebanon). The second article is from the Lebanon Daily Star.
Israeli Offensive Triggers 'Worst 'Environmental Crisis in Lebanese History'
Lebanon's greens launched an international appeal for help Thursday to combat an environmental crisis caused by a huge oil spill south of Beirut.
"The escalating Israeli attacks on Lebanon did not only kill its civilians and destroy its infrastructure, but it is also annihilating the environment," warned the Green Line Association, a Lebanese NGO.
It said an air strike two weeks ago on the Jiyeh power plant which serves southern Lebanon had resulted in a 15,000-ton oil spill.
"The power plant has six fuel tanks. Four of them have burnt completely, while the fifth one, which is also the main cause of the spill, is still burning," it warned.
The spill has hit more than 100 kilometers of the Lebanese coast from Jiyeh to Shekka, in the north, including Beirut's only sandy public beach of Ramlet al-Baida, said Green Line.
"This is definitely one of the worst environmental crises in Lebanese history," it said in a joint statement with other environmental groups.
The NGOs warned that the marine environment, including the endangered green turtle -- not to mention the future tourism prospects of Lebanon -- would "suffer tremendously for several years from this spill."
"This oil spill is bigger than what the local authorities can handle and urgent help is needed from outside," they said, while adding that Israel's sustained air strikes were endangering those involved in clean-up operations.
The environment ministry, which has received a pledge from Kuwait to share its expertise in ecological crises built up after the 1991 Gulf War, said a complete oil-clean cleanup would cost tens of millions of dollars.
While residents of the Beirut area have been advised to stay clear of the Mediterranean waters, officials said Wednesday the ancient Phoenician port of Byblos had also been polluted by the oil slick.
Fishing boats at the port in north Lebanon were surrounded by a large oil slick while nearby beaches were also covered by the sticky fluid, TV footage showed.
The pollution, which has killed fish and much of the marine life in the area, threatens a wider ecological catastrophe, Environment Minister Yacoub Sarraf has said.
Sarraf and residents said the slick was also caused by a leak from an Egyptian commercial boat which was hit by a missile off Beirut during the battles between Hizbullah and Israeli forces.
An Egyptian sailor was killed when the boat was apparently hit by a Hizbullah missile, as it sailed close to Israeli naval vessels.
Four Israeli sailors were also killed when their warship, which was patrolling Lebanese waters as part of a massive air and sea blockade, was hit in the attack.
"The black slick appeared about seven or eight days ago and is becoming thicker by the day," said Zalpha Sfeir, a resident of the picturesque resort town known for its Phoenician ruins and fish restaurants.
"It will take six months to clean up everything, when the boats which are off the coast will stop dumping all their toxic liquids," she said.
Officials in Syria issued a similar warning after a slick reached its shores.
"A black slick spread over 10 kilometers appeared yesterday (Wednesday) on the Syrian coast," said Hassan Murjan, environment official for the southern port of Tartous.
"It's diesel from the electric power station or the boat that were attacked in Lebanon," he said, adding that tests were being done to determine where the oil came from.
The rocky nature of the coastline meant the pollution would have to be cleaned by hand "which will take some time," he said
War sparks environmental crisis too as oil leaks into sea after attack on power plant
By Raed El Rafei
BEIRUT: At least 10,000 tons of heavy fuel oil have been spilled into the Lebanese sea, causing an environmental catastrophe with severe effects on health, biodiversity and tourism, environmentalists and the Environment Ministry said Wednesday. Two weeks ago, Israeli bombs targeted the Jiyye power station, located on the coast 30 kilometers south of Beirut. Part of the oil in storage tanks has been burning ever since and the other part is leaking into the Mediterranean.
"The pollution has affected around 70 to 80 kilometers of both public and private rocky and sandy beaches from Damour, south of Beirut, through to Chekka in the North," Berge Hadjian, the Environment Ministry's director general said Wednesday. Another 15,000 tons of oil are expected to leak into the sea, he added.
The ministry has issued a warning for all citizens to stay away from polluted sites along the coast.
The ministry has started pilot cleanup operations with the help of private companies, and with financial and technical assistance from the Kuwaiti government. But a total cleanup of the oil spill remains too dangerous because of Israel's ongoing military operations.
A complete oil-spill cleanup operation will cost tens of millions of dollars and will require a long period of time, according to the Environment Ministry's Web site.
Short-term health effects of the oil spill include nausea, headaches and skin problems among residents living close to the affected areas and among beach-goers coming in contact with the oil, the ministry added.
The spill will affect tourism because many public and private beaches have been polluted and it will take a long time to clean them, the ministry said.
The Ramlet al-Baida public beach, which normally attracts hundreds of people during this time of year, has been totally deserted. A thick layer of oil covers the coast at that spot.
"I saw many fish and crabs dead by the Ramlet al-Baida beach," said Iffat Edriss, an environmental activist, describing the situation as a disaster for the marine ecosystem.
The Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) of Boston has been mobilizing against a case of police brutality against four young Asia Chinese Americans in Quincy, Masschussetts. Yesterday protesters showed up at the Quincy District Court and outside the city hall to register their anger over the incident.
It was on April 30th that Chinese Progressive Association organizer Karen Chen and three of her friends were assaulted by the Quincy police, while coming home from a traditional engagement party.
The CPA reports:
"While legally parked by the curb next to Super 88 supermarket, they were approached by a state trooper. As they talked with the state trooper, a Quincy police car pulled up. Without warning, a police officer jumped out and pepper-sprayed three of them directly in the eyes at close range. Karen, who is just over five feet tall was then tackled by three male officers; receiving a black eye, a swollen face, and bruises from the attack. Another friend was knocked unconscious.
Throughout the incident, the police repeatedly yelled at the victims, used profanities, and called them names. Four innocent Asian Americans were taken to the police station in handcuffs and falsely charged with resisting arrest and/or disorderly conduct."
Karen Chen , a community organizer for the Chinese Progressive Association , said in an interview with the Boston Globe that the late-night encounter left her with bruises, including a black eye. She said she has suffered nightmares and feels emotionally scarred.
Chen faces criminal charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
``It's unbelievable it would happen to me. . . . I'm not a troublemaker," said Chen.
Joanna Ng, who was with the group, said the group was pepper-sprayed without warning, and that officers were ``shoving [Chen] to the ground and elbowing her head to the concrete, arresting her. . . . She did nothing to provoke the attack of three grown men."
1) Drop the false charges
2) Compensate the victims for lost work and other damages
3) Suspend the officers without pay
4) A public apology from the Quincy police department
5) An open and public investigation of this case
6) Diversify the police force and implement sensitivity training
7) Public inquiry into police misconduct and the use of force
About a fifth of the city's population of approximately 90,000 is of Asian descent, according to the latest local census.
The following comes from The Bridge (Cambridge and Somerville community newspaper)
Mayor: FBI investigating Quincy 4
Quincy Mayor William Phelan revealed today that the F.B.I. has agreed to his request to undertake an investigation of the April 30 incident in which four young Chinese-Americans were arrested, beaten and sprayed with chemical mace by Quincy police officers.
Since that incident, Karen Chen, Quan Manh Thin, Tat M. Yuen and Howard Ng have been known as the Quincy Four. At 9:00 this morning, they appeared in court for a second pre-trial hearing.
More than a hundred people jammed the second floor courtroom and corridors at Quincy District Court to support them.
Defense and prosecution lawyers conferred for an hour before appearing before a judge who set September 14 as the next date to hear pretrial motions.
The crowd then filed quietly out of the courthouse and gathered on the front lawn.
An impromtu meeting was conducted in Cantonese, the Chinese dialect which most of the people understood. Remarks were then translated into English.
Attorney Zenobia Lai of Greater Boston Legal Services explained what had happened and answered questions. A representative of the Chinese Progressive Association said that it was important to "pack the courtroom" every time the Quincy Four had to be there.
Around 75 of the people marched five blocks from the courthouse to Quincy City Hall. There they picketed and chanted in English and Chinese for around half an hour. Then sixty entered the lobby to request a meeting with the mayor.
Within minutes, several police officers arrived, but there was no apparent tension. At 11:30 Mayor Phelan sent word that he was ready to meet. The people were directed to go up the back stairs to his office.
The mayor told his guests that there had been "repeated conversations between the [police] chief and the FBI" before the Feds decided to investigate the case. "The process of that investigation, I'm not familiar with," he said.
Karen Chen said that up to then they had not been given any idea what was going on with their case. "We got beaten up for doing nothing," she said. Then "we filed a complaint in May, but never even got 'acknowledgement' of the filing from the police."
One resident said, in translation, that she was "not comfortable with the FBI doing the investigation." The mayor replied that he was sure they were competent and that only government could carry out such an investigation.
There was no indication how long the FBI would be in town, or when they would make their report.
The scope of the FBI investigation is also secret. But they are probably investigating the Quincy Four's supporters as well as the Quincy Police.
Mayor Phelan said that he did not want to have a civilian police review board in Quincy. "What we're dealing with here was more an isolated incident than a systemic problem."
One woman whose remarks had to be translated for the mayor, questioned that judgement. "There are things that happen in the community that may not rise to the level that you hear about them," she said.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
An Irish jury today refused to convict some anti-war protesters of damaging a US plane. The Pitstop Ploughshares Five (Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop, Ciaron O'Reilly, Damien Moran and Karen Fallon) were charged with causing the damage in February 2003.
After deliberating for more than three hours, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty for each of the ten counts.
A spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Dublin said that the embassy was 'very disappointed' with the verdict and would be discussing the implications of the case with the Irish Government officials once it had more information.
Speaking of the action earlier Ciaron O'Reilly stated,
"Hundreds of young Americans who passed through Shannon Airport have returned home in body bags, thousands with amputations and other serious injuries, thousands have been withdrawn from Iraq rendered psychologicaly unfit to function!
The Iraqi maimed and slain remain uncounted, their civil society smashed and infrastructure pillaged by U.S. corporations. We, like many other anti-war resisters in the U.S., Britain and Israel remain on trial for speaking truth to power with nonviolent noncooperation. Shannon Airport remains a pit stop for the U.S. war machine!"
The following comes from the Irish Examiner.
Anti-war protesters found not guilty of damaging plane
Five anti-war protesters have been found not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of criminally damaging a US aeroplane at Shannon Airport more than three years ago.
The jury of five men and seven women took four and a half hours to reach its unanimous decision on day 12 of the trial which had been continuously attended by supporters of the activists.
It was the third attempt at trying the five who pleaded not guilty to two counts each of causing damage without lawful excuse to a naval plane, property of the United States government and to glass door panels, property of Aer Rianta at Shannon Airport, Clare on February 3, 2003.
Juries in two earlier trials were discharged before evidence had concluded following suggestions from the defence teams that the presiding judges were, or could have been perceived to have been, biased.
The accused at all stages accepted that they had gone into a Shannon Airport hangar with hammers and damaged the aircraft. They argued that they had a lawful excuse for doing so as they honestly believed they were acting to protect lives and property in Iraq.
Judge Miriam Reynolds discharged the group and left the court but returned when supporters burst into a round of applause telling them their behaviour was "understandable" but not acceptable in a court room.
The five are Ciaran O’Reilly, aged 46, an Australian national, Nuin Dunlop, aged 34, a US citizen and counsellor, Damien Moran, aged 26, Karen Fallon, aged 35, a Scottish marine biologist, all of Rialto Cottages, Rialto; and Deirdre Clancy, aged 36, a copy editor of Alverno Apartments, Clontarf.
The jury has been told that a lone garda was on duty in the hangar at 3.45am when five people came running in carrying hammers and an axe or mattock.
Evidence was given that they were shouting "some words of God" and went to the front, side and rear of the aircraft using the items to hit the plane. They then knelt in a circle and prayed until gardai arrived to arrest them.
Copies of the Bible and Koran, Rosary and Islamic prayer beads, candles, flowers, St Bridget’s crosses and photographs of distressed children were among the items found at the scene in the form of a shrine at the doors to the hangar.
The Great Hall of the People, you remember the place, its where the gomers in the Chinese Communist Party have their big meetings, is all set to become a music venue.
Five artists are set to rock the Great Hall next month.
Taiwan singers Richie Jen and Huang Pinyuan will launch the Great Hall's pop music debut on August 11, followed by Taiwan's Jeff Chang on August 13, Hong Kong singer Sandy Lam Yiklin on the 15th and local singer and song writer Xu Wei on the 17th.
Xinhua reports the Great Hall of the People has hosted concerts in the past, "but they mostly fall into the category of highbrow art or well-known foreign musicals such as Cats, Chicago and Casablanca, which all played there last year."
"It has always been a dream of mine to visit the Great Hall of the People. I would never have expected that I would be holding a concert here," said Jeff Chang.
Chang, by the way, is the author of Can't Stop Won't Stop. Published by St. Martin's Press, it is subtitled "A History Of The Hip hop Generation." There are those who claim it to be the best book yet on hip hop, and the social, cultural, economic and political forces that have shaped it. Exhaustive research and original interviews with DJs, rappers, b-boys, gang members, graffiti writers and genre pioneers are at its heart. Can't Stop Won't Stop has won a 2005 American Book Award.
Bombs fall on Lebanon. Rockets scour the north of Israel. People live in misery in Gaza, but the boys just keep being asshole boys, and chant in unison,"you do it, no you do it, no you do it." Meanwhile, people die! Come on guys, someone step up to the plate already.
The following is from aL Hayat al Jadida & Al Ayyam Newspapers.
A possible agreement to end the Israeli attack on Gaza
Assistants to President Abbas and activists said President Abbas informed the activists that Israel is ready to halt its attack on Gaza Strip if they agree to stop firing rockets on Israel. Officials said this represents a change in the position of Israel which started its attack last month to liberate the Israeli soldier Shalit who was captured by three factions in an attack across the borders on June 25, 2006. Factions said Abbas informed them that Israel proposed this through a foreign government during meetings held in Gaza. President Abbas didn’t name the country which conveyed the proposal. Khader Habib, leading figure in Islamic Jihad, said President Abbas talked about Israeli readiness to stop its aggression on the Palestinians in exchange for halt of firing rockets from Gaza Strip. Habib who participated in the meeting said the deal didn’t include the issue of the soldier. The spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry refrained from talking about specific proposals but said that any solution to the crisis must include the release of Shalit. A Fatah official said any agreement on a ceasefire depends on Israeli commitment level to the ceasefire. Osama al-Mzayni, Hamas leading figure, said any discussion on a possible ceasefire will be possible only when Israel ends all its attacks in terms of incursions and assassinations.
In the meantime, a leading figure in Hamas said the movement received many offers, including the offer from Egypt, and other offers to end the issue of the soldier Shalit, but all didn’t rise to the level accepted by the movement and by the Palestinian people. Osama al-Mzayni said the package deal that was published in al-Ayyam newspaper does not rise to the aspirations of the Palestinian people, setting the condition of concurrent release of Shalit and the Palestinian prisoners. When asked if there is a possibility to make a separation between the Palestinian and Lebanese tracks on the issue of the prisoners, he said his movement does not mind separating the Palestinian track from the Lebanese track, but pointed out that his movement has not decided yet whether the tracks should remain together or separated. He said: There is no doubt that the nature of the Palestinian situation is different from the Lebanese situation, we say that the issue of soldier Shalit will only be subject to the interests of our heroic prisoners.
If you believe the general media there is no opposition within Israel to the on going siege of Lebanon and Gaza. While it seems true that the majority of Isralis currently support their nations current endeavors, there are those who do not - and their numbers are increasing. I've been attempting to document that these past few days and will continue to do so as time goes on (let's hope that becomes mute soon).
The following was taken from the Alternative Information Center.
Letter to Palestinian and Lebanese filmmakers from Israeli filmmakers
We, the undersigned Israeli filmmakers, greet the Arab filmmakers who have gathered in Paris for the Arab Film Biennial. Through you, we wish to convey a message of camaraderie and solidarity with our Lebanese and Palestinian colleagues who are currently besieged and bombarded by our country's army.
We unequivocally oppose the brutality and cruelty of Israeli policy, which has reached new heights in recent weeks. Nothing justifies the continued occupation, closure, and oppression in Palestine. Nothing justifies the bombing of civilians and the destruction of infrastructures in Lebanon and Gaza.
Allow us to tell you that your films, which we try to see and circulate among us, are extremely important in our eyes. They enable us to know and understand you better. Thanks to these films, the men, women, and children who suffer in Gaza, Beirut, and everywhere else our army exercises its violence - have names and faces. We would like to thank you and encourage you to keep on filming, despite the difficulties.
For our part, we will continue to express through our films, with our raised voices, and in our personal actions our vehement opposition to the occupation, and we will continue to express our desire for freedom, justice, and equality among all the peoples of the region.
Nurith Aviv, Ilil Alexander, Adi Arbel, Yael Bartana, Philippe Bellaiche, Simone Bitton, Michale Boganim, Amit Breuer, Shai Carmeli-Pollack, Sami S. Chetrit, Danae Elon, Anat Even, Jack Faber, Avner Fainguelernt, Ari Folman, Gali Gold, BZ Goldberg, Sharon Hamou, Amir Harel, Avraham Heffner, Rachel Leah Jones, Dalia Karpel, Avi Kleinberger, Elonor Kowarsky, Edna Kowarsky, Philippa Kowarsky, Ram Loevi, Avi Mograbi, Jud Neeman, David Ofek, Iris Rubin, Abraham Segal, Nurith Shareth, Julie Shlez, Eyal Sivan, Yael Shavit, Eran Torbiner, Osnat Trabelsi, Daniel Waxman, Keren Yedaya
Monday, July 24, 2006
The following comes from the Electronic Intifada. I'm posting it because if nothing it else, it is an interesting and seldom heard view of things.
Another Act in the Mizrahi-Palestinian Tragedy
On January 25, 2006, Hamas won a landslide victory in the democratic Palestinian legislative elections. The elections were conducted under tight U.S. supervision. Immediately thereafter, Israel's general attorney, Menny Mazouz, started exploring the legal procedures to jail the movement's leadership. Soon the IDF started executing the Gazan leadership of the movement by air strikes. Several dozen innocent Palestinian civilians were casualties in the process. On June 24 the IDF land forces entered the Gaza strip and kidnapped two Hamas men. As a response, on June 25 Hamas captured Gilad Shalit, an IDF soldier. The IDF immediately launched "Operation Summer Rains," to inflict large-scale destruction and to press for Shalit's release. On 12 July, Hizbollah captured two more Israeli soldiers--Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser--in the Lebanese border zone. From then on, IDF's "Operation Just Reward" has been inflicting heinous carnage and destruction all over Lebanon.
And now here we are, in front of the Israeli TV screen, bombarded by the discourse of experts. The channels are broadcasting live from studios and battlefields. Commercial interludes are part of the show. By default the majority of experts are Ashkenazi (European Jewish) males. They are flanked by a handful of Mizrahi men (Oriental Jews who immigrated to Israel mainly from the Arab World). These men climbed the public service ladder within the nationalist hegemonic confines. Together, they are Israel's knowledge mercenaries. Through the tube - Israel's tribal campfire -- they dictate the national agenda. The viewers are convinced it must be humanistic, because it is calmly narrated by handsome necktied men. They use professional lingo and have the standardized, de-Semitized Hebrew accent. These talking heads say this war is not only for our own good, but is also for the civic betterment of Palestinians and Lebanese. Their sober discourse facilitates public compliance with IDF's shift of tactics--from warplane "surgical killings" to a combination of marine, air and land forces, to destroy the Hizbollah using the massive weaponry that the U.S. allocates to the IDF.
The three Israeli TV channels bombard us with metaphors like "crushing Hizbollah," "the return of Israeli deterrence," and "the rehabilitation of the Israeli soldier's fighter image." Such imagery enables us to peer into the blood, smoke and devastation the IDF sows. Veiled by the fuss over Lebanon, Israel concurrently continues to plan and execute the socio-cide of both public and intimate spheres of the West Bank and Gaza. The present results: reaping the temporary unity of the Jewish victim-turned-warrior nation-state.
When the cannons roar, the Mizrahi communities fall silent. Like servants before the master, the Mizrahim habitually comply. They are the generations flowing from the Jews who were in Palestine from time immemorial, as well as descendants of those brought here from the Arab World and other non-European countries during the previous century. They are the local hosts for those fleeing the New European anti-Semitism. Mizrahim provide the demographic majority on whose civic docility the Eurocentric Israeli regime rests. Mizrahim have been the Jewish labor turning the cogs of the European-Zionist colonial project ever since its inception, with the Yemeni-Jewish labor migration of 1882. Mizrahim freed Zionism from its total dependency on indigenous Palestinian labor. Mizrahim were the Zionists' "natural laborers," employed in near-slavery conditions. In order for Mizrahim to work with efficacy, the Zionist hegemonic patriarchy ruptured Mizrahi extended families. For themselves, they used the appellation "ideological laborers," and went on to found Israel's socialist-liberal Left. It is this very Left that is now fighting yet another self-righteous Israeli war. The Zionist movement's leadership has always conducted itself, in front of the Mizrahim, the Palestinians, and the citizens of the Arab World, through the tools of occupation, oppression and humiliation. Yet Mizrahi communities keep silent. Along the way, the US-European minority has co-opted the Mizrahi moral, economic and cultural power to resist.
Israel has always compartmentalized its occupation into different categories, as if Gaza, the West Bank, the Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the Palestinian Diaspora were not all consequences of the 1948 Nakba and 1967 Naqsa. Yet even such a divisive strategy has failed to diminish the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle for a homeland. Despite the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, this strategy has nevertheless resulted in an almost across-the-board refusal of the Arab body of citizenry to normalize Israel into the region. The Ashkenazi leadership has repeatedly evoked the image that Israel is a European villa, planted in the midst of the regional jungle, from Bible times to the present day.
Mizrahi communities are intricately positioned along the Israel/Palestine divide as a result of the hegemonic sophistication of the Ashkenazim. Historically, under Menachem Begin, it was the Right who offered the Mizrahim a political home of sorts by not forcing them to secularize in imitation of the Labor party regime. Mizrahim are situated between the rock of economic-cultural oppression caused by the US-European capitalist Israeli rule, and the hard place of Palestine's war of independence. Zionism was superimposed on Mizrahi communities, yet they welcomed it with open arms. Many still believe in its deceitful vision of an integrationalist inter-racial utopia, even though they are systematically excluded from the centers of power due to Zionism's intra-Jewish racism. Those few who succeeded in securing high-ranking positions in the Ashkenazi regime have long since erased their own past, as they adopted their masters' worldview. Rebuilding the ruptured Mizrahi families was difficult, because they were denied access to the financial and cultural resources necessary to facilitate an equal participation in the Zionist patriarchy. Mizrahi men's feminism is epitomized in their struggle to mimic handsomely crested Sabra masculinity, hoping it might provide them with equal opportunities. Even with the arrival of South Asian maids in the 1990s, Mizrahi women continue to occupy the lowest-paying scale of the Israeli job market. Having lost their production line and house cleaning jobs to Filipinas, they work as lower level secretaries and service providers, and they constitute the majority of the unemployed.
Most of the Palestinian suicide attacks have occurred in the public spaces of the economically deprived and legally disenfranchised Mizrahi communities: bus rides taken by people who can't afford to have a private car, markets frequented by those who can't afford to shop in air conditioned malls and supermarkets, and 'hoods too poor to afford to purchase the patrol services of private security companies, and where the police avoid entering except during drug raids. The majority of the dead and wounded have been Mizrahim, destitute immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and foreign guest workers.
The majority IDF casualties of the al-Aqsa intifada since October 2000 have been Mizrahim, Druze, Russian immigrants, and Ethiopians - the marginal groups that comprise the majority of Israel's social fabric. Since the 1982 Lebanon war, frontline military service is out of fashion among the Ashkenazi elite, who no longer find it necessary for upward mobility. Due to the historical conjunction of ethnicity and poverty typical of Mizrahi communities, young Mizrahi men are excluded from avenues of upward mobility that would require a major capital investment. Alas, combat zone service is one of the few routes for socio-economic mobility -- an integrationist phantom of sorts.
Sderot, a borderzone Mizrahi town often bombarded by Qassam missiles, has a high percentage of Ethiopian and Russian immigrants, and high unemployment rates. It is the Israeli town closest to Gaza. The same demography is true of the development towns and agricultural co-ops on the Lebanese border, and even of some of the Haifa 'hoods hit by the Hizbollah Katiushas.
Mizrahi communities were pushed into the West Bank and Gaza post-1967 settlements through the back door. Both the Right and Left wing Israeli governments prevented any reasonably priced housing solutions for residents of Mizrahi slums. The mass Soviet immigration of the 1990s transformed Israel's center, the source of most decently paying jobs, into a real estate bubble. This prohibited Mizrahi families from leaving the ghettos, unless for subsidized houses in the settlements. These were built by the housing ministry on the pristine West Bank hills and virgin Gaza beaches. They made the Israeli dream of a single-family dwelling come true. The superior public school system was an additional benefit. The Judaization of the Galilee project was designed for Ashkenazim who could not afford single-family dwellings in central Israel - gated communities with strict admission committees, whose majestic mansions overlook Palestinian villages situated within the 1949 Rhodes armistice agreement.
In the mid 1980s, when the welfare state disappeared from Mizrahi communities' lives (if it had ever been there), ultra-orthodox Sephardic Judaism entered the scene in the form of the SHAS party. At its height, during the 1999 elections, SHAS won 17 seats in the Knesset. Four of them were ministers of influential government offices, and four were deputy ministers. SHAS offered an apparatus of education and food to rehab Mizrahi honor, either by preaching the return to the forefathers' pious morality or by exposing the racism in the disenfranchisement and poverty. Eventually, such an intrusion was destructive. In fact, the ultra-orthodox Mizrahi new sages adopted the old Ashkenazi method of discipline: a controlled dispensation of charity so that the very act of dispensing becomes a shock absorber against any possible social upheaval. Since SHAS's entry into the public sphere, even the feeble resistance of Mizrahi ghettos has ceased to exist.
The centrist walls of the Arab nation-state cracked during the Infitah with Anwar Saadat's Opening-to-the-West policy. Multinational cultural and market globalization forces entered the Arab World's civic sphere. Forming alternative societal institutions, the Islamist movements started substituting for the state. Like SHAS, these institutions were constructed on the premise of injecting pious morality into the civic sphere. The communalist power of both SHAS and the Islamist movements rested in part on a reformulation of strict religious familial patriarchy as a liberating feminist praxis. Concurrently, the Islamist movements, as in the cases of Egypt and the Occupied Territories, have integrated women into all spheres of their public activism but fighting.
We do not wish here to judge Arab society. Yet to the best of our understanding, the impact of Islamist movements in the Arab public sphere has been diametrically opposite to that of SHAS in the Mizrahi ghettos. With a middle class professional core, the Islamists presented the Arab world with a new agenda. All the while, the Mizrahi ultra-orthodoxy imposed the forefathers' morality as yet another strategy for integrating the Mizrahim into the bosom of the Zionist lived reality. But how could they not? SHAS sensed it had no other option. Its middle class emerged from the rank and file of party apparatchiks. The Question of Palestine was one of the unifying themes of the Islamist movements. During the 1980s, Sabra and Shatila reverberated into the First Intifada. Palestinian nationalism gathered constituencies in the West. Hoping to counter Palestine's secular nationalism, the worried Israeli regime nurtured the Islamist movements in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories. Assuming that these movements would be nothing but SHAS-style charities, the Israeli regime hoped they might also serve as its tools to deny yet again the Question of Palestine. As the PLO welfare apparatus relocated from Lebanon to Tunis, the Islamist movements patched the cracks and flowered forth. The 2006 democratic elections in the Palestinian authority ended in a sweeping Hamas victory, which of course disappointed Israel's expectations. This time around, the Zionist regime preferred the necktied and conventionally handsome Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) over hennaed and long-bearded Muhammad abu-Tir. Henceforth Israel, backed by the US, sweepingly refused to recognize and negotiate with the legitimate government of the Palestinian people.
These days the Mizrahim are the ones who pay the high price required to join Israel's "family of blood," a key concept in the Zionist discourse of national honor. They fall like ripe fruit into Ashkenazi-Zionist militant adventurism. The Western pro-Israeli lobby, with its Israeli branches, does not pay the price. On the contrary, it shares the profits with the G-8 superpowers. This axis of evil will come to an end only if Mizrahi communities are able to conjoin the memories of their Arab past with a vision for a future that will be shared with the people of this region--not just the Palestinians, but the rest of the Arab World as well.
As long as the Arab World's public discourse does not differentiate between Yahud (Jews), Sahyoniyin (Zionists), and Yahud-Arab (Arab Jews), and as long as all Israelis are considered Yahud-wa-bas (just Jews), such a process is impossible. As long as the Western peace discourse does not designate separate categories for Mizrahi Jewry, the majority of Israel's Jewry, for the Ashkenazi peace movements, and for Zionism, Mizrahi communities' processual reworking into the region will lack the transnational aura necessary to render it possible. As long as the Arab leadership, not to mention the Palestinians, prefers talking peace with the ruling Ashkenazi minority -- be it Zionists, post-Zionists, even anti-Zionists - Mizrahi communities will continue to view the peace discourse as part of the repertoire of exotic antics that the Ashkenazi cosmopolitan elite perform for the West. At the same time, they will continue to conceive of the Arabs, particularly Palestinians, only as lethal enemies.
Those who present themselves as seekers of peace -- Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin -- are actually supporting the present destruction of civil society in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. They are the spokesmen explaining the necessity for the atrocious measures taken by the Israeli government. Mizrahim remember them mainly as those who started the move to privatize and outsource labor from their community into the globalized economic wonderland that the peace dons termed "the New Middle East." For Mizrahi communities, unemployment and debt were the most immediate results of the Oslo agreement's peace festival. These days the peace dons also brandish a Moroccan defense minister, Amir Peretz, to execute their policies, even though they are the ones who publicly dissed him and failed him along his political career. No wonder this discourse of peace is so alien to Mizrahi communities.
The experts on TV tell us that the purpose of the present destruction is to secure the release of the "kidnapped" soldiers. If this were indeed the purpose of operations "Summer Rains" and "Adequate Pay," the release of all Palestinian and Lebanese political prisoners from Israeli jails would be far more cost effective, whether in blood or money. But, alas, when the canons stop roaring, when we finish counting our dead and cleaning up our ruins, we are likely to return to point zero--1882. The Mizrahim, Palestinians and foreign guest workers will resurrect Lebanon, Palestine and Israel from under the rubble, at near-slavery wages and with no social benefits. The US will provide the funding. As long as Mizrahi communities fail to understand that these wars commemorate their disenfranchised poverty, as long as there is no insistence on organized, popular Mizrahi resistance, no just peace will be achieved in our region.
Reuven Abarjel is co-founder of the Israeli Black Panthers; Smadar Lavie is a Professor of Anthropology and Mizrahi Feminist Activist.
The "Resolution of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council Opposing Any Development On or Near Mata Paha 'BearButte'" reads:
Whereas, the Oglala Sioux Tribe has adopted its Constitution and By-Laws by referendum vote on December 14, 1935, in accordance with Section 16 of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and Article IV of the Constitution, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council is the governing body of the Pine Ridge Reservation, and
Whereas, the Oglala Sioux Tribe is empowered through the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act to represent the membership of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, which includes the future generations of the people who are unborn, and
Whereas, our ancestors were free, sovereign, natural people who in their daily lives strived to live in a respectful way an observance of our natural laws as brought to us by Pte San Win, sent to us in a time of need by Tunkasila to show our people how to live in a good way, and
Whereas, these sacred teachings have been handed down from generation to generation. Throughout the decades of making war with the United States of America our ancestors fought the 7th Calvary and eventually we took their flag at the Greasy Grass, known to history as the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Since that time, although thousands of our people have entered the U.S. Armed Forces to fight for this beautiful land, as Lakota Oyate we still must fight the U.S. government and their entities for our way of life which includes the freedom to live our spiritual ways. Throughout the early reservation days, many of our brave, humble, visionary people lived these ways of live at the risk of imprisonment, and so taught our people how to live a spiritual way according to the teachings of Pte San Win. When our ancestors entered the reservation to live under the War Department of the United States, the Lakota Oyate came with two items. One, the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe. The other, a star map. This star map teaches our Nation how to live a Spiritual Way of Life here on Earth, mirroring that which occurs in the Star Nation, and
Whereas, on this Star Map are geographic locations which are Sacred to the Lakota Nation, and which mirror the Stars in the Sky. Each geographical location corresponds exactly with a Star Constellation. When the Stars are in a certain place in the Sky, we here on Earth must be in the corresponding location on Earth in order to conduct the sacred ceremony on Earth that is being conducted in the Sky within the Star constellation, and
Whereas, among these sacred places on Earth is a place we call Mato Paha, or Bear Butte in the English language. As the Star Nation moved through the Sky, we moved through our sacred places throughout the He Sapa. As we our people moved through the oldest mountains on Earth, we gathered food, game, and medicine to take us through the Autumn and early months of Winter. As we moved through the Sacred He Sapa, our Autumn destination was Mato Paha. We gathered (and gather today) there at Mato Paha. As we camped there, Mato Paha became known as Pte Pute Ya for about one months’ time, when we departed, the Sacred Mountain again became Mato Paha. As the Stars in the Sky moved through the Universe, the sacred time of the He Sapa reflecting the sacred cycle of the Star Nation had come full circle, and we again dispersed to our Winter Camps to begin the journey anew. While our people were at Pte Pute Ya, decision making councils were conducted to decide important business of the Tiospaye, Bands, and Oceti Sakowin. In today’s language, we did strategic and long range planning while camped at this Sacred Mountain, and
Whereas, our leaders of those not-so-long-ago-days were careful to include these sacred places in the 1851 and 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaties with the United States government. It is still our responsibility to take care of these sacred places, these places are still in our Treaty Territory, and
Whereas, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council stands opposed to the development of any of these sacred places. At the current time, Bear Butte is being considered as a place to build a commercial enterprise, known as the “Sacred Grounds”. It will be a campground, concert venue, and biker bar built by Jay Allen to open in 2006. Allen also plans to build additional smaller bars near Bear Butte, as well as a tipi village and an 80-foot tall statue of an American Indian.
Therefore be it resolved, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council does hereby direct the President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe to immediately notify all appropriate city, county, state, and federal officials of its opposition to any development of our Sacred Mountain; to immediately develop and implement a strategic plan to continue such opposition as needed in the future regarding the Sacred Mountain of Mato Paha (Bear Butte) and all other sacred places to the Lakota Oyate; and to immediately communicate this threat to our sacred way of life to the other tribal governments which also hold sacred these location’s and to develop and implement a collaborative relationship with such tribes to stand opposed to any desecration of our sacred places, and
Be it further resolved, The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council directs the President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe to initiate work immediately that will result in the creation of a reasonable buffer zone around all sacred places in our Treaty Territory to protect the dignity of these locations as our place of worship similar to how there are American laws in place that protect churches, synagogs, schools, hospitals, etc. Such buffer zones will include a prohibition of further development, the approval of liquor licenses, any form of pornography, violence, environmental pollution, and a noise level which is unacceptable to sacred places and other actions to be determined, and to consider such buffer zone consideration as an environmental preservation area, and
Be it further resolved, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council directs the President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe to report monthly to the tribal council, district councils, and other appropriate entities regarding the status of such activity.
The following comes from The Nation.
Biker Mecca on Sacred Ground
by ANNE KEALA KELLY
Sturgis, South Dakota, is a town of about 6,500 people, but come August the population explodes, as half a million bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts ride in like cowboys, clad in leather vests and bandannas for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. This year's event, however, promises to be met with resistance from the area's original inhabitants and other First Nation peoples from across the continent. They are protesting not only the onslaught of bikers but also a development at the base of a sacred hill outside of Sturgis called Bear Butte.
"I have a hard time in the white man's way. They pray to this guy called God, but he's gold. It's all about the almighty dollar. Their priorities are money," said Alexander White Plume in a phone interview from his home in Manderson, South Dakota. White Plume is acting president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and he, along with hundreds of others, organized protests and spoke at recent public hearings over whether or not a liquor license should be given to Arizona businessman Jay Allen, who plans to build a 600-acre biker extravaganza adjacent to Bear Butte.
Allen operates an interstate chain of four biker bars called Broken Spoke Saloon, including one in Sturgis, which bills itself as the largest biker bar in the world.
Meade County Commissioners voted unanimously in April to grant a beer and malt beverage license to Allen for this new saloon in his chain, and then voted in June to allow transfer of a liquor license to the venue.
The original name of Allen's project was Sacred Grounds, and until Lakota and other nations raised objections, Allen intended to erect on the site an eighty-foot-high statue of a Native person praying. From Allen's perspective, he has treated the indigenous population fairly, noting through a spokeswoman that local tribes had passed up two opportunities to purchase the land he ultimately acquired.
At issue on both sides of this argument over the proposed development is more than expropriation of the intellectual property of indigenous peoples. It is a reminder of the vast cultural differences that exist between First Nation peoples and those who are drawn to what once was their tribal land.
One only needs to read Article 1 of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie and compare it with what has happened over time to understand the profound conflict between the two competing paradigms: "From this day forward all war between the parties to this agreement shall forever cease. The Government of the United States desires peace, and its honor is hereby pledged to keep it. The Indians desire peace, and they now pledge their honor to maintain it."
Enacted by Congress, the treaty codified the Sioux Nations' ownership of the Black Hills. But the treaty's opening words, "From this day forward," really only meant for the next six years, because in 1874 General George Custer and some nineteenth-century entrepreneurs, known back then as miners, breached the treaty and found gold in the Black Hills, reigniting what are called the Indian wars. Eventually those events led to white settlers hunting down Natives and either forcing them onto reservations or, as happened at Wounded Knee, disarming them and then murdering them.
Despite the dispossession of Native people and erosion of their sovereignty, the Lakota, Arapahoe and Cheyenne still go to Bear Butte to practice their religious ways. Scores of other nations have maintained connections to the butte since ancient times, making the journey there to pray much the way Muslims make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Lakota and other First Nations people aren't the only ones opposed to Allen's plans to develop Bear Butte as a haven for bikers. Some white ranchers and business owners say the Sturgis biker rally has gotten out of hand and have joined coalitions such as the Bear Butte International Alliance, which are planning to conduct civil disobedience training. Meade County, where Sturgis is located, boasts a population of only 25,000, but every year locals brace themselves for Rally Week because as many as 650,000 bikers have poured into Sturgis and the surrounding area.
Opponents of the Bear Butte development are expecting as many as 10,000 people to stand with them in solidarity to protest this intrusion on their land. When asked whether or not he believes there will be clashes between protesters and bikers, Alexander White Plume said, "We can't defend Bear Butte violently because it is a sacred site. But our younger generation is talking about direct action."
Meanwhile, Allen's development is taking shape. He has announced plans to include a rodeo arena on the site by 2008, and he has said that although he respects the Native people, he has the right to conduct business. The state of South Dakota agrees with him, because none of the legal or moral objections put forth have held sway with legislators who earlier this year rejected legislation to create a four-mile buffer around Bear Butte. Hundreds of First Nation peoples traveled more than 200 miles to attend hearings and testify against granting the liquor license. But Bob Mallow, one of the five Meade County Commissioners who voted in favor of Allen's request, said in a phone interview that none of the area's residents spoke out against it.
"If there's nothing there, we're talking about two and a half miles from Bear Butte," said Mallow. "The location is fine with us. It's a municipality. If you have a church down the street two blocks, that makes sense, but this distance seems like enough."
Allen, who has traveled to Sturgis annually since 1986, said he visits the butte every day during the rally and added that he wants to share the "magic of our precious 600 acres with not just the Native Americans but with anyone open to experiencing something greater than the common rally experiences."
Even though county and state lawmakers have green-lighted the project, the First Nations peoples are undaunted in their quest to protect this religious site. Bear Butte is one of the last remaining undeveloped sacred sites in the United States.
"We want to keep it that way," said White Plume. "Leave it in its original form. It's where we go to do our vision quest. We do ceremonies that need silence. Putting a bar and concert hall there would be like us holding a powwow outside a synagogue when they're praying."