Friday, June 4, 2010

Sup. Ct. Justice Sotomayor Criticizes Majority Ruling Undermining Miranda Rights

The US Supreme Court majority, in WARDEN v. THOMPKINS, decided June 1, 2010, has effectively withdrawn much of the protection that Miranda once provided, by requiring a "clear statement" of an arrested person of his his/her decision to remain silent, before police must stop questioning a suspect.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a strongly dissenting defense of the system that has been in place for two generations, denouncing the Supreme Court majority's new requirement that a suspect must clearly say that he will not say anything, in order to invoke his right to remain silent.  Justice Sotomayor criticized the US Supreme Courts June 1 WARDEN v. THOMPKINS decision, saying:
Today’s decision turns Miranda upside down. Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent—which, counterintuitively, requires them to speak. At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so. Those results, in my view, find no basis in Miranda or our subsequent cases and are inconsistent with the fair-trial principles on which those precedents are grounded. Today’s broad new rules are all the more unfortunate because they are unnecessary to the disposition of the case before us. I respectfully dissent. WARDEN v. THOMPKINS
I personally hope this case indicates that Justice Sotomayor (soon to be joined by Justice Kagan on the Court) will defend the rights of public when faced by often brutal, atrocious and coercive police officers.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rand Paul Motivated by PA Swim Club Case

Dear Colleagues:

Please support Color of Change's initiative.

The high-profile Huntingdon Valley, whites-only Pennsylvania, swimming club case, in which whites lost their club to bankruptcy after discriminating against Black children, is the news that has color-aroused Republicans like Rand Paul animated and eager to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The result in the swimming pool case has reminded color-aroused white antagonists of just how much they resent having to serve Blacks and eat next to us.  Now Fox News is using this issue to drive up ratings while color-arousing the electorate.

They don't want to live in fear that they will discriminate against us and then be forced to pay financially for it while Blacks cheer that our rights have been vindicated.  That is what is animating them.

Rand was/is saying that he doesn't agree with the result in the swimming pool case and he believes the public accommodations part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act should be repealed.  The 29% of America that supported George W. Bush to the very end are probably among those who agree with Rand.  It is they whom Rand and Fox News are trying to mobilize for election turnout this November and in 2012, when the Black President's name will be on the ballot.

It's like Hillary Clinton in South Carolina.  Republicans first and last choice of weapons against us is the color of our skin.

Francis L. Holland

Tell Fox News, "Stop Supporting 'White's Only' Restaurants and Swimming Pools"

"On Wednesday [´May 16] Rand Paul, the GOP’s US Senate candidate for Kentucky repeated his claim that a central piece of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was wrong, and that businesses should be free to discriminate against whomever they please.1 "  

John Stossel, a Fox News contributor and business anchor, said Thursday that a central piece of the Civil Rights Act should be repealed — the part that says businesses that serve the public can't discriminate on the basis of race. The Klu Klux Klan is back, but instead of white hoods and burning crosses, they're running for Senator from Kentucky and hosting talk shows on Fox News.

Before these Republican lunatics advocate that we backtrack on the civil rights gains of the last hundred and fifty years, they ought to remember that we fought the Civil War over these issues and the side espousing greater equality won.

Color of Change is advocating that we send the following letter below (or a letter of our own) to Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News.

(Parenthetically, Rupert Murdoch who also supported Hillary Clinton as she was running toward the presidency.  At the time, CBS news online reported:
The mating ritual of the unlikely allies has been under way for months. Clinton set political tongues to wagging last month by attending a Washington party celebrating the 10th anniversary of Fox News, the cable news channel owned by Murdoch.
Particularly given the recent news, I'm glad we were able to elect a Democratic Party President without making love to Rupert Murdoch.) 

Meanwhile, let's participate in the effort of Color of Change by visiting this website and automatedly sending the letter below.
Dear Rupert Murdoch,
I am calling on you to fire Fox Business anchor and Fox News contributor John Stossel. His use of your platform to call for the repeal of key parts of the Civil Rights Act are an insult to Black America and to all Americans who understand the history of racism in this country and have fought for racial progress.

Stossel's remarks fit into a troubling pattern of Fox News personalities spreading misinformation about the state of race in America, and the history of racism in this country. And it follows repeated instances of personalities disparaging Black history, leaders and institutions.

Mr. Murdoch, it's time for you to take responsibility and show America that your media company has no place for the values Mr. Stossel espouses, and show definitive, tangible commitment to reining in the proliferation of ignorance and hate on your network.  

Firing John Stossel would be an important first step.
I can't believe the Republicans are going to run a campaign in 2010 and 2012 based on a return to Jim Crow businesses practices. They're simply organizing to get the "I hate Blacks" vote out this November and again in 2012, to replace President Obama with someone who hates Blacks, will insult us and work to undo what progress we've made over the last 50 years.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day of Blogging for Scott Sisters 2

For the second Thursday in a row the Committee to Free the Scott Sisters, and the Afrosphere Action Coalition are leading a push to bring more attention to the plight of the Scott Sisters.

My post for today:

The Committee to Free the Scott Sisters press release below:


Thanks to the many excellent bloggers who participated in our
initial Day of Blogging for the Scott Sisters on 3/18!! The notices
didn't reach everyone in a timely manner and so we are happy to
announce a new date for bloggers to unite around this case
of Mississippi injustice and particularly to intervene in the
prison's medical malpractice being suffered by Jamie Scott!

In early January both of Jamie Scott's kidneys shut down and
she has been swiftly declining due to unprofessional medical
care that is inadequate, cut-rate and frighteningly inept. Jamie
was rushed to the hospital last week due to severe infection
and the need for prolonged medical attention. However,
Jamie continues to require ongoing close monitoring as when
she is returned to the prison it is well documented that the
medical staff there has provided abysmal health care in filthy
conditions that have put Jamie's life at risk far too many times
to be acceptable. Jamie needs to be released from prison,

We ask that bloggers put out calls for students, clubs,
churches/temples/mosques, organizations, creative artists,
media, politicians, community leaders, journalists, etc. to
become aware of the case of the Scott Sisters and to make
certain that all of their contacts are informed, as well. There is
something that each person can do and we need to get Jamie
home while she still has time to be with her family!

Thanks to all who will participate in this and help to raise the call to
FREE THE SCOTT SISTERS throughout the blogosphere 3/25
and beyond! In the spirit of International Women's Month,
please support our women! Please send notification of any
blog postings to!

In conjunction with:

For Immediate Release
Afrosphere Action Coalition – March 22, 2010
Contact: Marpessa Kupendua of the Committee to Free the Scott Sisters at

Wrongly Convicted In Dire Health Situation

On 12/24/93, the Scott County Sheriff’s Department arrested Jamie and Gladys Scott for armed robbery even though three young males, ranging from ages 14 to 18, confessed to committing the crime and the women have unwaveringly maintained their complete innocence. Despite this, the corrupt Mississippi sheriff used coercion, threats, and harassment to compel the young men to turn state’s evidence against the Scott Sisters due to a long-standing vendetta against a family member. In 10/94 the Scott Sisters were sentenced to extraordinary double-life terms each, despite the facts that no one was harmed, neither sister had prior convictions, no weapon was ever recovered, and the amount alleged to have been taken was approximately $11.00. Even if they were guilty as charged, this sentence is completely outrageous and cruel.

Jamie Scott, who entered the prison system as a healthy young woman, is now suffering from complete kidney failure and other life-threatening medical conditions. Since January, 2010 Jamie has endured almost weekly severe health setbacks that the state has either outright refused to address or handled in a slipshod manner. Jamie has had weeks of serious infections that could have taken her life, has gone into shock, been given sporadic dialysis treatments, and suffered the state's refusal to provide her with adequate nutrition as required for her serious medical condition.

The Scott Sisters are now in their 16th year of incarceration and their five children and grandchildren are being raised by their now ailing mother. The defendants and their family are wholly dependent on support from the press, organizations, and all those dedicated to justice in making this debacle as public as possible. The lengthy incarceration of these women to date and their draconian sentences are completely shocking and must be challenged, enough is enough!

Mrs. Rasco and Afrosphere Bloggers are calling on the public to press the governor's office to pardon the Scott Sisters and release them, particularly Jamie who needs to be at home with her family during her very serious illness. Please ask that the media and politicians do an investigative inquiry about this tragic situation and the outrageous case of the wrongfully convicted Scott Sisters!

P.O. Box 139
Jackson, Mississippi 39205
1-877-405-0733 or 601-359-3150
Fax: 601-359-3741
(If you reach VM leave msgs, faxes, and please send letters)

Congressman Bennie Thompson
3607 Medgar Evers Blvd.
Jackson, MS 39213
601-982-5337 (fx)

Congressman John Conyers
2426 Rayburn H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515
Ph: 202-225-5126
Fax: 202-225-0072
For Complete Information - Free the Scott Sisters:
Compassionate Release Petition:
Free the Scott Sisters Petition:
Legal Transcripts:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Color of Change Asks Why Some Black "Leaders" Oppose Net Neutrality

I've received the communication below from Color of Change, wondering why so many minority groups have lined up against Net Neutrality. There is a link to the groups that signed a letter opposing Net Neutrality, but the only group name on the list that I recognize is the NAACP.

I suspect that the opponents of Net Neutrality have set up a list of astroturf fake minority groups, because I'm not familiar with ANY of the supposed minority groups on the list. And the groups I am familiar with do not have their names on the list, with the exception of one signature from the NAACP. The opponents of Net Neutrality apparently hope that the public and Congress will see words like "Latino" and believe that Latinos oppose Net Neutrality, when in fact the group was created by the Neutrality opponents exclusively for the purpose using the group name against Net Neutrality.

A little bit of research into the groups on the list will tell whether there are any cases in which this was true. In any case, I don't see on this list the names of any REAL groups that I would recognize as legitimate groups representing these minorities. I could be wrong. Look at the LIST. If any of these groups are real, then they need to be challenged by their constituents.

"[S]everal Congressional Black Caucus members were among 72 Democrats to write the FCC last fall questioning the need for Net Neutrality rules"? Each of them should explain their position, so we can evaluate the effect their stand should have on their political futures.

"We [Color of Change] just posted this at JackandJillPolitics, Daily Kos, HuffPo, FireDogLake, and OpenLeft."

From: William Winters

It’s said that politics creates strange bedfellows. I was reminded how true this can be when I traveled to D.C. in recent weeks to figure out why several advocacy groups and legislators with histories of advocating for minority interests are lining up with big telecom companies in opposition to the FCC’s efforts to pass “Net Neutrality” rules.

Net Neutrality is the principle that prevents Internet Service Providers from controlling what kind of content or applications you can access online. It sounds wonky, but for Black and other communities, an open Internet offers a transformative opportunity to truly control our own voice and image, while reaching the largest number of people possible. This dynamic is one major reason why Barack Obama was elected president and why organizations like exist.

So I was troubled to learn that several Congressional Black Caucus members were among 72 Democrats to write the FCC last fall questioning the need for Net Neutrality rules. I was further troubled that a number of our nation’s leading civil rights groups had also taken positions questioning or against Net Neutrality, using arguments that were in step with those of the big phone and cable companies like AT&T and Comcast, which are determined to water down any new FCC rules.

Most unsettling about their position is the argument that maintaining Net Neutrality could widen the digital divide.

First, let’s be clear: the problem of the broadband digital divide is real. Already, getting a job, accessing services, managing one’s medical care—just to mention a few examples—are all facilitated online. Those who aren’t connected face a huge disadvantage in so many aspects of our society. Broadband access is a big problem — but that doesn’t mean it has anything to do with Net Neutrality.

Yet some in the civil rights community will tell you differently. They claim that if broadband providers can earn greater profits by charging content providers for access to the Internet “fast lane,” then they will lower prices to underserved areas. In other words, if Comcast — which already earns 80 percent profit margins on its broadband services — can increase its profits under a system without Net Neutrality, then they’ll all of a sudden invest in our communities. You don’t have to be a historian or economist to know that this type of trickle-down economics never works and has always failed communities of color.

Whether the phone and cable companies can make more money by acting as toll-takers on the Internet has nothing to do with whether they will invest in increased deployment of broadband. If these companies think investing in low-income communities makes good business sense, they will make the investment. Benevolence doesn’t factor into the equation.

On my trips to Washington, I met with some of the groups and congressional offices questioning or opposing Net Neutrality. I asked them what evidence they had to back up claims that undermining Net Neutrality would lead to an expansion of broadband to under-served communities, or that preserving Net Neutrality would thwart expansion. Not one could answer my question. Some CBC members hadn’t yet been presented with a counter to the industry’s arguments; others told stories about pressure from telecom companies or from other members of congress. As one CBC staffer told me, many CBC members have willingly supported the business agenda of telecom companies because the industry can be counted on to make campaign contributions, and they face no political backlash.

I also heard from people who don’t consider themselves against Net Neutrality, but who say their issue is prioritizing broadband expansion over maintaining Net Neutrality—as if the two have some intrinsic competitive relationship. When I’ve asked about the relationship, again, no one could provide anything concrete.

To those taking positions against Net Neutrality, I ask what sense it makes to undermine the very power of the Internet, especially for our communities, in order to provide access to everyone, presuming for a second the two were even connected. It’s like what we have with cable — our communities are saturated with programming that they cannot control, with no benefit of empowerment for anyone. Again, no one with whom I talked had an answer to this point.

Thankfully, there are an array of grassroots, media and social justice organizations that have not followed this line of reasoning and are actively supporting Network Neutrality, such as the Center for Media Justice and the Applied Research Center. Black and brown journalists and media groups who understand the need for unconstrained expression on the part of our communities are on the same page as well: the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, UNITY: Journalists of Color, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, the National Association of Black Journalists, and the National Hispanic Media Coalition have all been vocal supporters of Net Neutrality.

Prominent lawmakers, including CBC members Reps. John Conyers, Maxine Waters, and Donna Edwards are vocal supporters, as are House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama — who has pledged to “take a back seat to no one” on the issue. And last week, Mignon Clyburn, a commissioner at the FCC, called out advocacy groups entrusted by many to represent our communities, for making half-baked arguments that completely miss the boat on the importance of Net Neutrality to our communities.

As Clyburn pointed out, far from being just a concern of the digital elite, Net Neutrality is essential to what makes the Internet a place where people of color and marginalized communities can speak for ourselves without first asking for permission from gatekeepers, and where small blogs, businesses, and organizations operate on a level playing field with the largest corporations. Net Neutrality regulations are needed to protect the status quo, because the telecom industry sees an opportunity for profit in fundamentally altering this basic aspect of the Internet.

In the coming weeks I plan to head back to DC to continue to fight for Net Neutrality. I’m hoping that on my next trip some of the anti-Net Neutrality civil rights groups or CBC members will heed my call and explain their position. I would like to believe that there is more to the “civil rights” opposition to Net Neutrality than money, politics, relationships, or just plain lack of understanding. For now, I’m doing my best to keep an open mind. But I don’t think it will stay that way for much longer.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Widget: New 'Miranda Rights' Against Taser Abuse


January 3, 2010

Contact: Atty. Francis L. Holland
Afrosphere Blogger
Rua dos Cajueiros, 165, Apt. 14
Centro - Porto Seguro
Bahia, Brazil 45810-000
Mobile Phone: 55 (73) 9123-4538
Skype: fazinformatica2005

Dear Afrosphere Opponents of Police
"Taser" Pre-trial, Extra-Judicial Shock,
Electrocution and Execution:

"These are new 'Miranda Rights' against 'taser' abuse,"
said Atty. Francis L. Holland."

There's been a ground-breaking decision by the 9th Circuit US Federal Court of Appeals against taser abuse, entitled Bryan v. McPherson. This decision was announced on December 29th, between Christmas and New Years holidays but it deserves our immediate attention and dissemination via our EasyWidgets:

The decision writes into federal caselaw many of the arguments and advocacy that we afrosphere bloggers have been making at our Days (months and years) of Blogging for Justice Against Police Pre-Trial, Extra-Judicial "Taser" Shock, Electrocution and Execution devices. The Easy-Widget HTML code below enables us to educate the public of their newly announced rights.

The 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals agreed with us that:

". . . we must “balance the amount of force applied against the need for that force.” Bryan v. McPherson, 9th Cir. Fd. Ct. App., December 29, 2009.

This decision has direct legal effect throughout the 9th Circuit, consisting of populous California, Alaska, Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, Hawaii and Guam, and influential in other parts of the country. Nearly 20% of America's population is within the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit.

The Court announced what we have long insisted:

"A reasonable police officer . . . would have foreseen these physical injuries when confronting a shirtless individual standing on asphalt. We have held that force can be unreasonable even without physical blows or injuries." Bryan v. McPherson

We have widgets up at 123 afrosphere blogs telling the public that when "Tasers" are used, "The price is too high". Now, one of the most influential federal circuit courts of appeal in the country agrees with us that members of the public are seriously injured by Tasers unconstitutionally:

"The presence of non-minor physical injuries like those suffered by Bryan, however, is certainly relevant in evaluating the degree of the Fourth Amendment intrusion." Bryan v. McPherson

Let's celebrate! Here's a new EasyWidget that takes readers to our anti-electrocution blogs. This Easy-Widget HTML (immediately below) links to Electrocuted While Black, but there are visibly identical widgets below that lead to Tasered While Black and the Police Brutality Blog.

The result is better than that for which many of us had hoped. Instead of arguing locally for changes to voluntarily enforced police taser policy, Bryan's lawyers in this case, and bloggers making similar arguments, convinced the 9th Circuit Federal Appeals Court to write these requirements and limitations into Federal caselaw, which is faster, better and politically more acceptable than having these judicial restrictions enacted into law in a summary fashion by the US Congress. This decision requires that the facts of each case be weighed carefully, with Constitutional protections of the public in mind.

Afrosphere bloggers and the Ninth Circuit encourage other circuits to follow this example, observing that:

"We, along with our sister circuits, have held that tasers and stun guns fall into the category of non-lethal force. Non-lethal, however, is not synonymous with non-excessive; all force—lethal and non-lethal—must be justified by the need for the specific level of force employed." Bryan v. McPherson

Not everyone -- blogger or reader -- has had a chance to read the whole Bryan v. McPherson case. So, the Easy-Widget quotes the most powerful language of the decision and links to our afrosphere blogs for more information.

In Bryan v. McPherson, the 9th Circuit Federal Appeals Court basically wrote into federal caselaw many of the arguments that we taser opponents have been arguing. But this is better than what many of us had sought, because instead of it being a change in local optionally enforced "guidelines," it's a change in obligatorily obeyed federal case law for the states in the 9th Circuit, and also, as the decision alludes, the 9th Circuit has enormous influence on other "sister" circuits courts.

Please join Electrocuted While Black in celebrating this decision by posting a widget that tells readers their rights and takes them to a blog where they can learn more, be it Electrocuted While Black or the Police Brutality Blog. Installation of the Easy-Widget below is a quick and easy way to quote some of the best parts of the case for your readers.