Free Gary Tyler, Ossian Sweet, Clarence Darrow

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Freed Gary Tyler
Gary Tyler is free after 41 years in Angola prison. In 1974 he was 16, in a school bus attacked by some 200 furious whites raging against school desegregation. A shot was fired, a 13-year old white student was killed, and Tyler was the police pick for the shooter. No gun was found when the bus and the students in the bus, including Tyler, were searched; a gun, without fingerprints, was conveniently found in the bus hours later. The bus driver said there was no gun on the bus when it was first searched, and the shot came from outside the bus; the crowd wasn’t searched. The gun — which had been stolen from a firing range used by sheriff’s deputies — later disappeared from evidence. Four young “witnesses” at the trial later recanted their testimony and said the police forced them to lie. No evidence, sentenced to death.

There was a nationwide campaign for Tyler’s release in the 1970s. You can read his story here, and also in Democracy Now’s interview with Tyler’s mother and sister and the NY Times’ Bob Herbert, who had detailed the frame-up in a series of columns (“A Death in Destrahan” and “Gary Tyler’s Lost Decades”). The AP story on his release is “objective reporting,” and so doesn’t make clear the trial was “fundamentally unfair” (US Court of Appeals) and that Tyler maintained his innocence until he accepted a guilty plea in exchange for his release. The prison warden and three appeals boards recommended him for pardon; he did exemplary work as a prisoner in the hospice program and as president of the drama club.  We can contribute to the “Back-to-Life Reentry Fund” of the Liberty Hill Foundation, info at  http://freegarytyler.com/

Tyler was president of the drama club at Angola prison, where inmates produced this "Life of Jesus." Photo: http://castthefirststone-themovie.com/about-cast-the-first-stone/aboutuspage1-2/

Tyler was president of the drama club at Angola prison, where inmates produced this “Life of Jesus.”  Photo: “Cast the First Stone” documentary.

How Ossian Sweet stood his ground, defended by Clarence Darrow
Tyler was innocent, but suppose he had fired the shot while the bus was under attack. That would look to us a lot like a shot fired in self-defense … and that thought takes me to 1925 Detroit. A black doctor, Ossian Sweet,  moved into a white neighborhood, expecting trouble; family and friends armed themselves to defend the house. When hundreds in a maddened white mob attacked the house, shots were fired into the mob from the second floor, and one man was killed, another wounded. Naturally it was the Sweets and their friends who were arrested and put on trial. (more…)

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Satirist reclaims Germanness, Banksy, museum donors curate at AIC, Trump and the art of the d***, and...

Comments (1) Culture

Democracy takes another hit, this time in Germany

Jan Bömermann. Photo by Jonas Rogowski Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Jan Bömermann. Photo by Jonas Rogowski Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Germany will prosecute satirist Jan Böhmermann for his poem detailing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s forbidden love of goats, child molestation, beating and gang-raping women and other sexual preferences, as well as the smell of his farts (wait, how does Böhmermann know about that?).  Böhmermann read the poem on his late night  show on a German public TV station, and then Erdogan’s government invoked an obscure law criminalizing insults to foreign leaders. Merkel, worried about the EU deal for Turkey to accept refugees, made an embarrassing overture to Erdogan and agreed to allow prosecution of Böhmermann.

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Billy in Philly: He Whitesplains to Black Lives Matter … then says he’s almost sorry.

Comments (0) Activism, Politics

Bill scolds BLM

Bill Clinton scolds Black Lives Matter protesters at a rally for Hillary, Philadelphia April 7.

Many of us can age gracefully — that is, no one is stalking us to  rub our noses in things we said and did in the 1990s (if only someone cared enough!).  But when old politicians rebrand for new campaigns, old positions can be heavy baggage for those poor old backs.

So Bernie has a problem with a vote on gun control but, since Bill was president and Hillary publicly promoted his policies, what she has, is not a bag but a shipping container  …  with Bill sitting on top of it. (In the trunk: financial deregulation, welfare “reform,” NAFTA, and … Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 .)

Candidates  … and their spouses … better have some good handlers to prepare them for the heckling at rallies. Bill didn’t seem very prepared when his speech in Philadelphia April 7 was disrupted by Black Lives Matter activists; or he was in a time warp and thought he was back dissing Sister Souljah and Jesse Jackson (that was his “Southern strategy”).

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April Agitations — Quotes and queries

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Today: Panama Papers; gray menace crime wave; Hillary’s emails: The real story; Asian Americans on race; April 1 march slide show

OffShoreMitt073

Eric J. Garcia, “Offshore Mitt.” Follow Eric J. Garcia at Garciaink@twitter or friend him on Facebook.

Panama Papers: “I like you just the way you are!”
The biggest data leak in history, the Panama Papers, is laying bare the way the super-rich hide their wealth, sheltering it from taxes and concealing financial crimes. As Kevin Drum in Mother Jones writes, “Everyone is now making vague noises about offshore tax havens and how they should be shut down, or regulated, or something. But the plain truth is that no one really wants to do it. Britain, obviously, could shut down the ones under their control pretty easily, but they never have. The United States could effectively shut them all down by refusing to allow offshore shell companies in designated tax havens access to US banks. But we haven’t done that either. Too many rich people like things just the way they are.”

Latino Art Now!
Latino Art Now! — Imaging Global Intersections, Apr 7-9 at UIC.  This monster conference with over 200 panelists is organized by the Inter University Program for Latino Research at UIC and the Smithsonian Latino Center.

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April 1 in Chicago’s streets: Moment or movement?

Comments (0) Activism

“This is not a moment. Brothers and sisters, this is a movement!”—Karen Lewis, president, Chicago Teachers Union

When Chicago teachers went on their one-day strike Friday, April 1, we saw something new in Chicago.

New at least for our generation.

A strike led by a union which was joined by thousands of supporters — other unions bringing out their members, community organizations, working families and their retirees and their un- and under-employed, college students, and, since the strike was by a teachers union, parents, students and their families.

It was truly massive — not just for the outpouring into the streets after the Thompson Center rally, but also because there were neighborhood actions throughout the city all day, by  CTU members but also by up to 50 community groups.

April-1--Let-Them-Eat-Cake

All photos: Considered Sources, Creative Commons CC-BY

A political strike
This represents something new also because the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) was striking not just for workplace economic demands; this was a political strike, with political demands that were in the interest of all working families.  One of the printed union picket signs read,“Fight for Funding   Shut It Down April 1 2016  ON STRIKE  Tax the Rich to Fund the Schools.” Another read, “Fight for Funding SHUT DOWN WALL STREET.” The CTU has long called for funding the schools and social needs through a millionaire’s tax, a tax on financial transactions, and a progressive state income tax (Illinois has a flat tax which benefits the wealthy by disproportionately taxing the rest of us).

Social Justice Unionism
The union makes not only economic demands; it advances broad social justice program.   The union has a website  A Just Chicago, whose slogan is, “Fighting for the City our Students Deserve.” It not only details school problems but also focuses on  racism. (more…)

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Friday April 1 Massive Day of Protest

Comments (0) Activism

The Chicago Teachers Union strike on Friday will reportedly be joined by some 50 unions, community organizations, student groups, miscellaneous activists in a protest against the Rauner-Rahm regime. Demands include “ending corporate welfare … make the rich pay their fair share of taxes … end criminalization and targeted brutality within Black and Brown communities … Stop the School to Prison pipeline … enact community control (elected school board, elected police accountability board, participatory budgeting).

CTU march-Chris Johnson

Striking Chicago teachers march, October 2012. Photo by Chris Johnson, F Newsmagazine. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

This day of action is extraordinary — a union – community coalition that, if the participation is as broad as organizers claim, may be the first of its kind since the 1930s. The huge Chicago Occupy march brought out some unions, but this may be much bigger and more targeted (Rahm and Rauner and what they stand for).

A long day of event will lead to a mass rally at the Thompson Center at 4 pm, followed by a 4:40 pm “rush hour march.”   Some of the actions are listed by Chicagoist’s “What’s Happening When Chicago’s Teachers Walk Out on Friday.”

One highlight: “In addition to an unspecified number of pickets to take place in the afternoon citywide, a “youth march” to highlight the school to prison pipeline and call for the closure of youth prisons will begin at 2 p.m. at the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, as well as demonstrations at City Hall and UIC.”

[Photo by Chris Johnson, F Newsmagazine, October 2012 Teachers Strike]

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Blue Lives Matter? Or, Police Reform — Chicago style

Comments (0) Media

Copyright 2015 by Eric J. Garcia, reprinted with permission.

Copyright 2015 by Eric J. Garcia, reprinted with permission.

Today’s Tribune report on Rahm Emanuel’s new choice for police superintendent, Eddie Johnson, is a good example of deadline reporting. By “good example,” I mean that it mostly channels the official sources, and so gets the story wrong. It stays within the frame delivered to us by the Mayor’s people: What is most important is pleasing the cops, whose morale has suffered from community outrage, and pleasing the black and Latino aldermen. And if you satisfy them, we’ll have “community consensus” and police will do their job.

Tribune Emanuel upends search

Both the police and the aldermen want an insider and so do we citizens, since we care so much about police morale.

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Some resources for student journalists

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The  Resources link in the right column will take you to a few pages put together for student journalists on F Newsmagazine and at SAIC — some writing guides and guides to sources on Chicago politics and media.  These pages are in progress, as is this site.

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