August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Chahta Shadow Warriors Message to Daughter of Berta Caceres, COPINH

Bertha Zuniga, Neddie Katsitsiaiohne, Leadhorse Choctaw, USUBA Delegation of COPINH. Delegation of Chahta Shadow Warriors. Warrior Society Message to Bertha Zuniga and COPINH, on New Year's Day, March 19. Bertha Zuniga is the daughter of Berta Caceres assassinated in Honduras as she battled mega hydro dams and corporate destruction of the land, water and air. Photos and videos by Neddie Katsitsiaiohne and Leadhorse Choctaw, published with permission at Censored News. (Please wait for video to load below.) Thank you.


Bertha Zuniga neddie katsitsiaiohne leadhorse usuba delegation of COPINH. Delegation of chahta shadow warriors. Warrior society message to Bertha and COPINH. New year's day march 19.
Posted by Neddie Katsitsiaionhne on Wednesday, March 23, 2016

O'odham Human Rights Group Brings Distinguished Speakers to Tucson

Acoma Pueblo Poet, Professor and Author Simon Ortiz 
is the speaker on March 26, 2016

Ofelia Rivas photo by Brenda Norrell


By O'odham VOICE Against the WALL
Censored News
French translation by Christine Prat at:

Cat Mountain Lodge, 520-578-6085,
Date: February 27 to March 26, 2016

         TUCSON -- O'odham VOICE Against the WALL announces a benefit bringing emerging and established poets, writers and scholars to Tucson at Cat Mountain Lodge, one of TripAdvisor's top ten Tucson bed and breakfasts, from February 27 to March 26.

         Simon J. Ortiz, Acoma Pueblo, and Laura Tohe, 2015-2017 Poet Laureate of the Navajo Nation, headline the Distinguished Speakers 2016 series.  Other speakers include poet Ruben Cu:k Ba'ak and scholars Dr. Julian Kunnie from the University of Arizona and John Zerzan. 

            Ofelia Rivas, founder of O'odham VOICE Against the WALL, will also be speaking at all events. O'odham VOICE Against the WALL provides solidarity to the O'odham of Southwestern Arizona and Northern Sonora in efforts to maintain traditional culture and ancestral land in areas currently under illegal occupation by the United States and Mexico. Since 2003 it has advocated against a militarized border and for the rights guaranteed by inherent and domestic and international law, and documented abuses against the indigenous peoples on O'odham land.

            Simon J. Ortiz, Acoma Pueblo, speaking on March 26, is one of the key figures in the second wave of what has been called the Native American Renaissance. He is one of the most respected and widely read Native American poets. The author and editor of 25 books, Ortiz is currently Regents Professor of English and American Indian Studies at Arizona State University.

            The work of Laura Tohe, speaking March 19, has been published in the journals Ploughshares, New Letters, Red Ink, World Literature Today, and many others. She is an English professor at Arizona State University and her most recent publication is Code Talker Stories (2012), an oral history of the Navajo Code Talkers. 
            Ruben Cu:k Ba'ak, Tohono O'odham, speaking March 12, is a poet and prose writer and a recent ASU graduate in economics pertaining to the Tohono O'odham homeland.

            Dr. Julian Kunnie, speaking March 5, is a professor of Religious, Latin American, Middle Eastern and North African studies at the University of Arizona  He is the author of numerous articles in various internationally recognized journals and books.  His most recent book is The Cost of Globalization: Dangers to the Earth and Its People (2015.)

            John Zerzan, speaking Feb. 27, has been active in the anti-authoritarian movement from the '60s on and has articulated a critique of technology and civilization that illuminates their regressive quality. His most recent book is Why Hope? The Stand Against Civilization (2015.)

         The Ramada at Cat Mountain Lodge is at 3030 Donald Avenue, north of Ajo Road and Western Way off the west side of Kinney Road.

            A donation of $20 - $40 is requested, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.  All events begin at 6:30 pm, with featured speakers at 8 p.m.

Climate Denier, Fox News Regular, Tied to Peabody Coal and others

Lawyer Tormenting Scientists Revealed Working For Coal Company

Chris Horner, a DC-based lawyer, climate change denier and Fox News regular, is also being paid as a "Regulatory Counsel" for the coal company, Alpha Natural Resources, according to bankruptcy filings reviewed by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). Horner’s repeated filing of lawsuits against leading U.S. climate scientists has been described as "harassment."
Alpha funding for Horner was first reported by Lee Fang, writing for the Intercept in August 2015 from earlier bankruptcy filings, although his role as Counsel was unknown until now.
Horner's role as Regulatory Counsel for Alpha is described in a declaration that he signed, and which was filed with the bankruptcy court on January 11, 2016. Another document shows that funding from Alpha to Horner has continued through to at least the end of January, 2016, which is the most recent reporting period.
As the Wall Street Journal has reported, Horner was paid a total of $18,600 by Alpha for the months of May, June and July 2015. More recent filings reviewed by CMD show that he has subsequently been paid at least $12,000 more since then, taking the total amount to at least $30,600 for the nine month period between May 2015 and Jan 2016. 
With the U.S. coal industry increasingly collapsing, coal company bankruptcy filings are now revealing what has long been suspected but not proven: that leading climate change deniers and many of the biggest defenders of coal, are funded by the industry that they are working to protect.

Coal Industry Funding of Climate Denial

CMD recently revealed that another coal company filing for bankruptcy, Arch Coal, has provided funding to the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), where Chris Horner is also a Senior Legal Fellow. Both Arch and Alpha also fund the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), another climate change denial group, in which Horner has participated for many years. ALEC has been instrumental in trying to block action to implement the Obama-administration's Clean Power Plan at the state level. The Clean Power Plan is currently on hold, pending review by the Court of Appeals.
Through E&E Legal, Horner has filed countless public record requests with climate scientists working at state universities and other public bodies--requests that typically demand unpublished research and personal emails. When the scientists don't hand over everything, lawsuits are filed and years of litigation begins, distracting from actual climate research.
In his bio, Horner doesn't mention Alpha or any other coal company, although he does list the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), "scientists," and members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate as all being past or current clients.
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In addition to his role working for Alpha, whatever it is he does in that role, Chris Horner is an illustrative example of how the coal industry has spread funding to myriad groups, giving the impression of a broad cast of characters for its climate denial performance. In reality its a relatively small group of actors performing all the roles.
This is what is known to date about Horner's work with groups funded by the coal industry:

Chris Horner's Coal Ties:

  • Regulatory Counsel for Alpha Natural Resources
  • Senior Legal Fellow at Energy & Environment Legal Institute, which is funded by Arch Coal.
  • Senior Clinical Attorney for the Free Market Environment Law Clinic from which he received $110,000 in 2014, and which is funded by Alpha Natural Resources.
  • A Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which in 2009 funding from $90k Murray Energy and $100k from Massey Energy.
  • Participant in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force, funded by a host of coal companies, including Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources
  • An "expert" for the Heartland Institute, which is funded by Alpha Natural Resources.
As CMD has previously reported, Horner was a speaker at a 2015 private and highly secretive annual coal summit, organized by five coal companies, including Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources, as well as Alliance Resource Partners, Drummond Company, and United Coal Company.
CMD was provided with a copy of an email sent to attendees after the event.
The note, signed by the CEOs of all five coal companies, suggests each of them may be funding Horner. It said: "As the 'war on coal' continues, I trust that the commitment we have made to support Chris Horner's work will eventually create great awareness of the illegal tactics being employed to pass laws that are intended to destroy our industry."
Peabody Energy, described as the largest coal company in the world, is the next coal giant facing bankruptcy. The price of Peabody stock has dropped 97% over the past year and it recently warned its investors that it may seek bankruptcy protections from creditors.
The company had recently reached a settlement with the New York Attorney General, over allegations that it had misled its investors about the risk climate change posed to its longterm business. But that investigation was about the rights of shareholders and the price of their shares, not directly about Peabody's role in funding climate change denial. If the company does file for bankruptcy then much more may soon be revealed about coal funding for climate change denial and opposition to tackling climate change.
Nick Surgey
Nick Surgey is CMD's Director of Research and an investigative reporter. His work has been featured in The Guardian, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.
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Rodriguez Uncensored on State Sponsored Violence: 'On the Path to Sacred Justice'

Photo: Justice for Oscar Grant

Censored News shares this column by Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez, which has been censored elsewhere.

On the Path to Sacred Justice
By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

Once again I find myself among grieving families, among families who bleed and tremble when they speak, all the while insisting they are witnesses or survivors, not victims. All the families present at this United Voices Against State Sponsored Violence event have tragically lost family members to the scourge of law enforcement violence.  And while the air is heavy-laden with trauma here, there is also much strength at this standing-room-only event at the African American Community Service Center in San Jose, Calif.

Each of the family members are here to bear witness, affirming that they will not remain silent: “Silence is consent,” says Cephus Johnson, the MC of the event and uncle of Oscar Grant, who was killed by a BART police officer in Oakland in 2009. When a family loses someone to this kind of violence, many times, “they are shocked into silence. Sometimes they are just shocked.”

Other families represented here are those of Antonio Lopez Guzman, Richard “Harpo” Jacquez, Alex Nieto, Yanira Serrano, Diana ShowmanPhillip Watkins, Rudy Cardenas and Steve Salinas, just to name a few. All of these were killed unjustifiably and several of these cases are still mired in the judicial system.

Several years before, after a spate of law enforcement killings in Southern California, I attended an anti-police brutality rally in Anaheim, Calif., where I noticed something similar. At this statewide multiracial rally, family after family member, most of them Black or Brown, gave their testimonies regarding the killing of their loved ones and virtually everyone that spoke broke down while speaking. For some, that meant their voice quivering whereas others had to be helped off the stage.

The previous time I had gone to something similar to this was in Washington DC, shortly after 9-11, for a gathering of survivors of torture and political violence. It was a most powerful gathering; a time for survivors to speak. They were offering themselves as evidence regarding the horrors of torture, this while the Bush administration was both employing it, obfuscating it, while justifying it as a necessary tool in ‘the war on terror.”

In Anaheim, I wondered if the pain of families who are tortured, brutalized or who lose family members in other parts of the world, due to state-sponsored violence, suffer or grieve differently? I had the same thoughts in San Jose.

On this occasion in San Jose, a few days ago, I was present, not as an observer, or even as a journalist, as I have been a columnist virtually my entire life. Instead, I was there with the families as someone who has also experienced the wrath of that extreme law enforcement violence in 1979 and the dehumanizing reality one lives in its aftermath. A regular reporter probably could file a story about the speakers and the content of what they spoke, but that would not do justice to what transpired at this event.

How does one begin to put into words, that which flows from broken hearts and shattered dreams? How does one explain the shock, the numbness, the pain, the anger, the loss of trust and even the loss of innocence, especially of the children [survivors]… all the memories and emotions that come to the fore and that don’t ever go away?

One woman, Angelica Garza, sister of Frank Alvarado, killed by Salinas, Calif. police officers, spoke with so much anger that something did not feel right… but what would have felt right? Soft words and tears? As she relayed: ”I stand before you, but I don’t like it.” Alvarado, from Salinas, Calif., was shot in 2014 by numerous high-velocity bullets, while armed with a cell phone.

Another family member who co-organized the event, was Laurie Valdez, the wife of Antonio Lopez Guzman, who was killed by San Jose State University police in 2014. As with all the families, she continues to press for answers. “The pain is forever,” she said, also explaining that their son, Josiah, is still waiting for his father to come home. “When asked by his friends about his father, he tells them, “the cops killed him because he spoke Mexican.” This alludes to the fact that the Spanish-speaking Lopez Guzman was shot in the back, though SJSU police maintain he charged at them with a 12-inch drywall knife. While both officers wore body cameras, the footage has not been released. [And the video will probably never released as the judge recently granted summary judgment to the officers, meaning unless Guzman’s family appeals, this means end of trial proceedings].

Sharon Watkins, mother of Phillip Watkins, killed by San Jose police in Feb 2015 also spoke of the nature of her pain: “Nobody needs to feel this pain because it cannot be healed.” Her son was purportedly killed in what is known as “suicide via cop.”

While powerful, I also feel uncomfortable seeing survivors or family members pour their hearts out because it involves a lot of retraumatization. I see survivors subject themselves to this all the time while recounting horrid details. I know because I used to do it myself, all the time. At this event, other family members spoke about being part of this club. But they also noted that no one wanted to be part of this club. And that's the point. We are part of a family actually, more so than a club and we are in this family not by choice, though it is understood that being a part of it carries with it a very special responsibility.

Sometimes I feel like I have learned everything there is to learn about this topic and yet, during this trip, I made the realization that ending state-sponsored violence is about what a friend and colleague, Ricky Medina, refers to as a sacred purpose or a sacred responsibility, and even more precisely, something I have come to refer to as: sacred justice. I came upon this concept accidentally. Dolores Huerta had scribbled a note regarding social justice on a police brutality scrapbook I have, though I misread it as sacred justice, just before speaking at the event in San Jose [I interviewed her for a book I was writing because she was almost killed in 1988. She had supported me during my trials from 1979-1986]. At the event, I invoked the concept of sacred justice, a concept that I presented as something beyond the law, or more precisely, something beyond the judicial system. While speaking, something just poured out of me, knowing and understanding that many of us get ensnarled in the legal system, which often becomes even more traumatizing than the events themselves. That is, the media often demonize and dehumanize those killed and their families and the survivors, and it is ugly. This happens even if we win in the courtroom. But this idea of sacred justice has little to do with the law. That is, whether one wins or loses in the courtroom, families and survivors are traumatized for life. So, what is sacred justice? Right now it does not exist. And in the society we live in, it cannot necessarily exist. But now, I am convinced that is what we need to strive for.

I have monitored this extreme brutality for some 45 years. And I will say unequivocally that we do not currently have a system of justice in this country. Some people would blame biased and unaccountable law enforcement agencies for this situation, and that would be correct. But more correct would be to understand that it is also a biased judicial system and cowardly politicians, and finally it is the citizenry (biased juries) that permit this lawlessness.

This is not about the philosophical pondering about the origins and nature of this abuse and brutality. We are to the point where virtually zero convictions of guilty officers over the past generation tells us that the only place to turn to is perhaps the international criminal courts. That is, either the Organization of American States or the United Nations. Both criminal courts exist precisely for when the courts in a given country do not function. And this is unquestionable when it comes to the brutalization of people of color in this country; the courts have never functioned. The issue of state-sponsored violence in this country is prima facie evidence that a reign of impunity for law enforcement has always existed, particularly when it relates to the abuse of the Black-Brown-Indigenous peoples of this country. Additionally, for these peoples, law enforcement has always functioned, more than anything, as a system of control.

Sacred justice would not simply be the movement to compile and take cases to either of these international criminal courts, which must be done. That would be but one step, though sacred justice is part of that sacred responsibility to ensure that those killed and their families, first and foremost, are never forgotten or neglected, but honored. It is that, but truly, it is beyond words.

·       When I originally wrote this, the trial of Alex Nieto had not yet commenced. The trial came and went and the publisher that was supposed to publish this, did not. The officers were found not guilty of using excessive force, despite firing 59 bullets against him.

Rodriguez is an associate professor at the University of Arizona.

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