Monday, July 29, 2013

Can Black Youths Get Justice in GA Baby Murder Case?

Congratulations to Brunswick, Georgia law enforcement for performing gunpowder residue tests on a murdered baby's mother, Sherri West, and her boyfriend, Louis Santiago, the baby's father. Is this another "the black men did it" lie uncovered?

Although the couple tested positive for gunpowder residue, police had not named West or Santiago suspects in their son’s murder as of the writing of this article; however, Santiago was jailed for aggravated stalking of West. He allegedly threw furniture and accused West of killing their child. Does that mean Georgia has two innocent black boys under arrest for a murder they did not do?

De’Marquise Kareem Elkins, 17, and Dominique Demetrius Lang, 14, were arrested for murdering 13-month-old Antonio Santiago as his mother walked him in a stroller on March 21, 2013. West said the teens attempted to rob her and shot her in the leg and shot her baby in his face, killing him. Ashley Glassey, the mentally ill woman's daughter who was removed from her mother's care when she was a young child, said West asked how soon she could cash the baby's insurance policy in the same conversation when West told Ashley about her little brother's murder. Read more about the case at this article:
"The Mentally Ill as Witnesses"

West gave numerous television interviews and accused the teens of being evil murderers for months. But the state took issue with news conferences planned by the boys' attorney, Kevin Gough. The State said that Gough is determined to try this case in the media. In April, prosecutors sought and were granted a gag order to restrict attorneys involved in this case from speaking with the media. Gough says West's willingness to talk about her baby's murder led to unprecedented media coverage and garnered 4.5 million hits on Google. He said that any statements the defense has made were meant to counter prejudicial pre-trial publicity. Troy Davis was also under a gag order in Georgia.*

It takes good police work, honest judges, credible prosecutors, ethical defense attorneys with adequate resources, and informed, unbiased jurors to Change the legal system to one in which Americans have "justice for ALL." The gunpowder residue test results should save Elkins and Lang from serving life in prison for Antonio's murder and other charges related to the baby's death. The only witness against them is West, who reportedly identified one of the teens from photos while it was she and her boyfriend who were covered with gunpowder residue. But misidentification by witnesses accounts for 75% of the nation's wrongful convictions (Buffalo News). 

Forensic tests can avoid wrongful convictions and exonerate innocent inmates when evidence is available and untainted. That is why Brunswick law enforcement is congratulated for giving the parents gunpowder residue tests. It is SAD that Arkansas police did no gunpowder residue test on Chavis Carter, the black youth who supposedly committed suicide while handcuffed and locked in the back of a police car after having been searched twice. He supposedly committed suicide by shooting himself with a hidden pistol. The bullet entered Carter's right temple although he was left-handed and handcuffed. The officers who arrested Carter were not given a gunpowder residue test, either, and the police car's dash cam mysteriously stopped recording right at the time of the shooting. This writer does not expect a wrongful death lawsuit in this case, because The Cochran Firm frauds represent Carter's family. After a brief media blitz, Carter's death was ruled suicide and now seems forgotten.

For better or worse, the media plays a role in criminal justice or lack of justice. CNN interviewed Sherri West after her baby's murder when she accused the teens. However, this writer found no reports by CNN regarding the gunpowder evidence in this case. West's tearful CNN interview is at the first link in this article. 

This may be another Susan Smith case.
Ashley Glassey shared her doubts about her mother's story in the interview embedded below and at YouTube link . Ashley said she went to the media when police ignored her testimony. 


Does it take four months to analyze gunpowder residue tests? Could it be that the justice system would prefer prosecuting two innocent blacks rather than a white woman with gunpowder residue on her hands, whose boyfriend is under arrest for throwing furniture and accusing her of the child's murder? West explained that her boyfriend went 'nuts.' West even has an explanation for the gunpowder residue, which is offered at the Fox news link below.

Prosecuting the teens while ignoring evidence against the baby's parents could be volatile, especially so soon after the Zimmerman jury verdict. Hopefully, Attorney General Holder will monitor this situation to ensure justice in a racially charged trial for two impoverished black boys from a small Georgia community who continue to maintain their innocence. The trial was already removed to Marietta, Georgia in a change of venue, an area with a 33.5% African American population rather than to Atlanta, which is 60% black. One has only to browse online for "Brunswick Baby Murder" to note how the teens were immediately villainized in the press in a murder case that is essentially a matter of their word against a white mother's accusations - a mentally challenged woman who was concerned with her baby's insurance payoff from the moment the child died. West was essentially accused by both her daughter and the baby's father - people who know her best - as being Antonio's killer, but the world accuses and hurls racial insults at the teenage defendants.

The boys' murder trial begins in August. Most mainstream media affiliates and many independent news sources and bloggers carried reports about West's allegations and the boys' arrest in March, but there is a gaping scarcity of news regarding subsequent developments: the gunpowder residue found on the baby's parents' hands, West's daughter's suspicions, the father's arrest for acting erratic and accusing West of committing Antonio's murder, and West's mental illness. Reasonable doubt raised by these circumstances should lead to acquittal and release for Elkins and Lang. But in view of the shocking, racist language by Internet users against the young defendants, people who care about justice should challenge their so-called "leaders" to demonstrate some of their "justice for Martin" zeal to help these innocent boys.

Do not be surprised that the accused teens are referred to as innocents in this article. In America, everyone is presumed innocent until PROVED guilty in a court of law. At least, that is what America "said on paper" (MLK).

This is my second story out of the Brunswick, Georgia area. The first one also involved criminal allegations by a mentally ill person. Nathaniel Hickman, a black 100% disabled Vietnam veteran, alleged that his wife continually ran him over in her car. Yvonne Hickman was arrested and barred from Glynn County on Nathaniel's word, although her husband had absolutely no injuries. She said he has been hospitalized and incarcerated numerous times for chronic PTSD and drug addiction, and she was surprised at Brunswick's willingness to rely on his unsubstantiated testimony but deny her a trial timely. Eventually, criminal charges against Yvonne were dropped, but not in time to save the couple's home in a predominantly Caucasian subdivision from foreclosure. Yvonne was apparently presumed guilty from the time her husband alleged crimes that arose out of his hallucinations.

Being presumed innocent when facing criminal charges is a "right" that has little to do with reality in America's justice system, especially for Africans and people who lack wealth. Rights that are not defended and equally applied are nonexistent. This writer was told by Atlanta Police Department that I have no free speech rights in Georgia, and I discovered they were correct. I have experienced pronounced persecution and censorship for years since having the nerve to ask how and why my mentally, physically disabled brother was murdered after 18 days of secret arrest. We have been denied any records or explanation for a decade as of August 1. As blacks, we are expected to accept lynchings in stride in 21st century America, especially of "useless eaters" like Larry Neal was (Hitler's term). Persecution is particularly intense against my family at this time. I would like to advocate more for justice in this case, but out of respect for my relatives' safety which is threatened in Georgia, I will not. Hopefully, God has others in place who will make every effort to see that real justice is served.

*Below is a link to an article about the proposed gag order to stop defense attorneys from discussing the case after West had already told her side of the story to 45 million Internet viewers

Contact information for some officials in this drama are listed below.
Brunswick Police Headquarters 
206 Mansfield Street
Brunswick, GA 31520
(912) 267-5559
Fax (912) 267-5526
Jackie Johnson, Glynn County D.A.
Phone: (912) 554-7200
Sam Olens, Georgia Attorney General
(404) 656-3300
Fax (404) 657-8733
Kevin Gough, Defense Attorney
(seven urls and one embedded video are in this article)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Letter from SHU - Hunger Strike

Letter republished from Peoples' Action for Rights and Community, a short reflection on the hunger strike and work stoppage from Jose Villarreal, a hunger-striking prisoner at Pelican Bay SHU - Day 12. Solitary confinement is torture, and it is capable of running inmates insane. Any country with 280 million Christians (80% of 350 million) should not incarcerate prisoners in solitary cells long-term, some for decades, especially not the mentally ill. But 60% of the inmates in solitary are sick people. God gave His opinion on prisoner torture in Hebrews 13:3, Proverbs 31:8-9, Proverbs 120:19-20, and Matthew 25:31-46.

PETITION: Help ACLU defeat long-term solitary confinement

There are disturbing reports about retaliation against prisoners participating in the strike:
Attempting to Break Hunger Strike, CDCR Increases Retaliation,

"Today This Ride Stops" July 8, 2013

Today me and thousands of other prisoners in California and beyond have begun our peaceful protest against the inhumane conditions that we have been living under for so many years. This hunger/work strike is an act of desperation that we have chosen where our health is put on the line – even those prisoners with known medical conditions have decided there simply is no other choice for us to stop the injustice that has been the norm in so many U.S. prisons for so very long.

Here in Pelican Bay SHU human beings have been held in living conditions that are sadly unfit for a dog. We are held in solitary confinement, in windowless cells with no human contact for years anddecades and for many the rest of their lives will be in this state of perpetual psychological waterboarding. We are being tortured en masse and yet there is no mention of this Amerikan torture, we are given as much notice as some weeds on the side of a highway. But we are living breathing people with families, friends, ideas and aspirations. Some have done bad things and yet many have committed no crimes to be placed in this supermax, our “crime” is having ideas that do not conform to the state. Many are placed in the state’s Security Housing Unit (SHU) for having revolutionary ideas or attempting to learn the history of the colonized people in Amerikkka. For this “crime” we are labeled as “gang members” and locked forever in SHU.

What the people of the world must know is that the false label of “gang member” is used to whitewash the reality of the U.S. holding political prisoners in its prisons. It is precisely the reality of us being locked in these isolation torture chambers for thought crimes that defines us as political prisoners. The purpose of us being tortured is to compel us to snitch and compromise others, make up accusations or simply end our resistance against this beast and yet we continue to defy the lash and stand on the same path as others took to resist the oppressor before us. Those prisoners who were captured under an occupied state and who continued to struggle for a better life for future generations and who suffered dearly for this and even gave the ultimate sacrifice, we follow this tradition of refusing to be tortured no matter how strong our captors may be today or what force controls them to do the unthinkable to us. We use the only weapon we have in our separate isolation chambers and that weapon is our will to go on as human beings even if this means our breaths are shortened, if being human means to enact that inherent survival mode that exists in every person on Earth, even if this survival mode leads to our demise then we shall live our last days, minutes and seconds of our lives as humans until our last breath.

A hunger strike is not taken lightly by us, we are not suicidal, rather we hope to save lives. We may not be able to save our lives. But we have come to identify our existence in SHU as a conveyor belt leading into an oven of inferno. And we may indeed by strapped onto this conveyor belt with no way out as we have continued for years to watch our comrades fall into the abyss of the oven in psychosis, suicide or other chronic illness. And we may not be able to stop our ride from dropping us into the abyss but we will stop this conveyor belt for future generations to come. Today this ride stops!

History will decide what side of the battle we fell on, but no longer will we stay silent to this torture. Chicanos today are held in SHU at higher rates than any other peoples in California SHUs, i.e. Chicanos are being tortured moreso than any other prisoners in California. Just as Arab men are being tortured in Guantanamo Bay at higher rates than any other peoples. This phenomenon hasnot gone unnoticed by Chicano prisoners here in Pelican Bay, it is a part of many conversations going on here and many have drawn strength and inspiration from the hunger strike currently in Guantanamo Bay. We hope to shine the light on U.S. torture a little brighter for the world to see that U.S. “democracy” is really U.S. lynchocracy and we as colonized people, as U.S. prisoners and thus as survivors of capitalism stand with other torture survivors in our common march toward liberation, no matter what form this liberation takes.

What the SHU has done for prisoners is it has made it possible for us to understand where our oppression comes from. This horrific repression has created a reason for us to dig deep and search for the reason why we are held in such unnatural living conditions. Our discovery has led to the realization that our oppression like throughout the U.S. empire and worldwide has a class character, that is as prisoners we exist as a class, a prison class. This realization took years for it to finally be grasped by all prisoners being tortured here. This realization crept cell to cell, torture chamber to torture chamber until after much debate and discussion prisoners finally understand that our oppression unites us and only via a united front will we make progress. Only when we act as a class in a class struggle will we make advances as a class.

It is essential that the public understands that at the heart of our nonviolent peaceful protest lies not some cries for a piece of the pie, we are not wanting in with some corporate parasite or other nonsense, rather at the core of our demands are to stop the torture! At the heart of our efforts is the demand to be treated as human. We are demanding our human rights and not just picketing for this to come to fruition, we are putting our very lives on the line for our demands. It is expected that there will be more strike-related deaths just as there was in 2011. It is also possible that any one of us will not see the fruits of our peaceful protest but we all are going into this fully understanding what this all entails and are at peace knowing that our fellow prisoners will see and experience the changes we know are coming.

Our resistance will never stop, this is a matter of us stopping the torture or dying. If we must continue to resist torture again and many more fall to strike-related deaths then this is the price but our resistance will never stop!

Pains of hunger have now become my companion but this hunger and the pains i feel are nothing compared to my pains and hunger for freedom and justice. And no matter what the future brings from this struggle it’s known that we will never be the same because of these strikes, nor will California prisons ever be the same because of these strikes. These strikes because of their very nature have helped to raise the consciousness of thousands of prisoners who yesterday saw the prisoner next to them as the problem but today see the state as the problem and rightly so.

The development coming out of these SHU strikes is enabling a qualitative leap to arise within the prisoners’ rights movement and prisoners are growing politically because of it.

Today we throw ourselves to the barricades because we are the ones who suffer the most and have nothing to lose but our torture, we are currently the ones targeted like our counterparts in Guantanamo and others throughout the Third World but the future is on our side and one day we, the most oppressed, will lead in making our liberation a reality just as we are leading in ending our current torture. Our struggles today are practice runs, drills for future struggles for justice. We may be help in these concentration kamps like hulls of old slave ships, but even in these hulls shackled by the foot without food or water, without sunlight or freedom even here we serve the people and resist the oppressor!

Dare to Struggle and Dare to Win!

Free the people! Free the Land!

Jose H. Villarreal #H84098
PBSP – SHU-C11-106
P.O. Box 7500
Crescent City, CA 95532