Archive for March, 2016

Family and supporters jubilant over release of U.S. citizen Nestora Salgado from Mexican prison

March 18, 2016

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Victory for two-and-a-half-year campaign to free leader of indigenous community police force that battled drug cartels and crooked Mexican politicians

After two-and-a-half years behind bars, most of the time spent in solitary confinement in a remote Mexican high security prison, political prisoner Nestora Salgado will walk out a free woman at 9:00am on March 18 from Tepepan prison in Mexico City. An outpouring of public support for Salgado, combined with a recent United Nations ruling in her favor, finally prompted Guerrero state judges to act. Charges of kidnapping and homicide, stemming from Salgado’s leadership of an indigenous community police force in Olinalá, Guerrero, were dismissed due to lack of evidence.
The U.S. Campaign to Free Nestora Salgado will hold a victory rally in front of Seattle’s Mexican Consulate on Saturday, March 26 at 12:00pm to demand the release of other Mexican prisoners jailed on false charges. The consulate is located at 2132 3rd Ave.

March 26th holds special significance as the anniversary of the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. Salgado has joined the parents of the missing students in demanding an accounting of their fate from Mexican President Peña Nieto. Rallies are expected on that date at Mexican consulates in several other U.S. cities including San Francisco and New York.

Salgado’s freedom hard won
José Luis Avila, Salgado’s husband, credits the international, grassroots movement with winning her release. “We showed that by mobilizing indigenous organizations, unions, and human rights activists on both sides of the border we were able to win a victory over the corrupt Mexican government,” he told reporters. Avila joined with unionists and feminists in Seattle to found the U.S. Campaign to Free Nestora Salgado. It grew to include a number of U.S. cities and collaborated with the Comité Nestora Libre and community police members in Mexico to fight for Salgado’s freedom.

Salgado moved to the U.S. as a young mother from Olinalá, Guerrero, an indigenous community. She and her husband José Luis Avila raised her three daughters in Renton, Washington. Several years ago, Salgado began making regular trips to deliver clothing and supplies to the desperately poor residents of her hometown, where she witnessed the growing violence by drug traffickers. In early 2013, she was elected coordinator of the newly formed chapter of the community police in Olinalá. This volunteer force coordinated local residents to defend themselves against the misuse of government power and lawbreakers. Community police have legal standing under federal and Guerrero state laws that protect the rights of indigenous people.

“The success of this citizens’ police force infuriated dishonest politicians who are in league with the racketeers and the foreign-owned mining companies who want access to the gold and silver deposits on which a number of indigenous small towns sit,” said Su Docekal, coordinator of Seattle’s Freedom for Nestora Committee.

Federal army and local police arrested Salgado on August 21, 2013 on kidnapping charges related to an arrest she made as a member of the elected police force. When those charges could not be upheld in federal court, murder charges were added by prosecutors in Guerrero. Other community police were arrested following Salgado’s detention. Arturo Campos and Gonzalo Molina, from neighboring towns, were charged after leading large protests of her imprisonment. They remain in jail today along with several other Guerrero community police members.

After spending a year-and-a half in a dangerous federal prison without ever seeing the inside of a courtroom, Salgado launched a 31-day hunger strike in May 2015. As a result she and other jailed community police were moved to prisons closer to their families and lawyers. A U.S. delegation to Mexico the same month helped to highlight the injustice of her detention and put pressure on the U.S. State Department. “The State Department had done next to nothing to assist Nestora, even after a Mexican federal judge dropped the kidnapping charges and ordered her freed two years ago,” explained Docekal.

In February 2016, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that Salgado’s arrest and detention were illegal. Later that month, a twitter and call-in campaign to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was initiated by the U.S. Campaign to Free Nestora Salgado and Jornada por Nestora, an immigrant activist network.

“In the end, it was the international movement and Salgado’s intransigence that won her freedom,” said Stephen Durham, Freedom Socialist Party International Secretary, who took part in the 2015 U.S. delegation to Mexico City which sought to focus public pressure on the U.S. embassy. Durham credited the Partido Obrera Socialista for initiating the movement that has grown up around Salgado, and other political prisoners in Mexico, and the Committee for Revolutionary International Regroupment (CRIR) for advancing the campaign in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Argentina, among other countries.

Broad and deep support for Salgado
Attorneys Alejandra Gonza and Thomas Antkowiak, with Seattle University’s International Law Clinic, worked pro bono to win United Nations attention for Salgado’s cause, collaborating with the campaign and Congressman Adam Smith, the only member of the Washington delegation to actively champion her cause.

Among other key U.S. advocates for Salgado’s freedom were the Washington State Labor Council, AFSCME International, Puget Sound Chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Radical Women, and Mexicanos Unidos en Washington; an additional 200 organizations also endorsed the fight. Finally, city and county councils in various Washington locales took a stand for Salgado including Renton City Council, King County Council, and lastly the Seattle City Council.

A full list of endorsers, more background and contact information can be found at the U.S. Campaign to Free Nestora Salgado website: FreeNestora.org.

Sundiata Acoli

March 2, 2016

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Sundiata Acoli (born in 1939, as Clark Edward Squire), a New Afrikan political prisoner of war, mathematician, and computer analyst, was born January 14, 1937, in Decatur, Texas, and raised in Vernon, Texas. He graduated from Prairie View A & M College of Texas in 1956 with a B.S. in mathematics and for the next 13 years worked for various computer-oriented firms, mostly in the New York area.

During the summer of 1964 he did voter registration work in Mississippi. In 1968 he joined the Harlem Black Panther Party and did community work around issues of schools, housing, jobs, child care, drugs, and police brutality.

In 1969 he and 13 others were arrested in the Panther 21 conspiracy case. He was held in jail without bail and on trial for two years before being acquitted, along with all other defendants, by a jury deliberating less than two hours.

Upon release, FBI intimidation of potential employers shut off all employment possibilities in the computer profession and stepped-up COINTELPRO harassment, surveillance, and provocations soon drove him underground.

In May 1973, while driving the New Jersey Turnpike, he and his comrades were ambushed by N.J. state troopers. One companion, Zayd Shakur, was killed, another companion, Assata Shakur, was wounded and captured. One state trooper was killed and another wounded, and Sundiata was captured days later.

After a highly sensationalized and prejudicial trial he was convicted of the death of the state trooper and was sentenced to Trenton State Prison (TSP) for life plus 30 years consecutive.

Upon entering TSP he was subsequently confined to a new and specially created Management Control Unit (MCU) solely because of his political background. He remained in MCU almost five years, … let out of the cell only ten minutes a day for showers and two hours twice a week for recreation.

In September 1979, the International Jurist interviewed Sundiata and subsequently declared him a political prisoner. A few days later prison officials secretly transferred him during the middle of the night to the federal prison system and put him en route to the infamous federal concentration camp at Marion, Illinois, although he had no federal charges or sentences. Marion is one of the highest security prisons in the U.S., also one of the harshest, and there Sundiata was locked down 23 hours a day …. In July 1987 he was transferred to the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas.

Sundiata AcoliIn the fall of 1992, Sundiata became eligible for parole. He was not permitted to attend his own parole hearing and was only allowed to participate via telephone from USP Leavenworth. Despite an excellent prison work, academic and disciplinary record, despite numerous job offers in the computer profession, and despite thousands of letters on his behalf, Sundiata was denied parole. Instead, at the conclusion of a 20 minute telephone hearing, he was given a 20-year hit, the longest hit in New Jersey history, which dictates that he must do at least 12 more years before coming up for parole again.

The Parole Board’s stated reason for the 20-year hit was Sundiata’s membership in the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army prior to his arrest, the receipt of hundreds of “Free Sundiata” form letters that characterized him as a New Afrikan Prisoner of War, and the feeling that the punitive aspects of his sentence had not been satisfied and that rehabilitation was not sufficiently achieved. The real reason for the 20-year hit is to attempt to force Sundiata to renounce his political beliefs and to proclaim to the world that he was wrong to struggle for the liberation of his people.

Write Sundiata Acoli:
Sundiata Acoli #39794-066 (Squire)
FCI Cumberland
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. BOX 1000
Cumberland, MD 21501