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Prison Brutality - Peltier's 26th - The Others - Truth in Woodward Shooting

03 February 2002

This issue of Flyby News focuses on justice issues, or the lack thereof. Item 1 reveals some of the depths and realities, the suffering, of being inside, from a heartfelt letter by Malik Abdullah Akili. Item 2 calls on you to act, call Senator Leahy this Wednesday to release those 6,000 + documents still withheld from Leonard Peltier's defense, and the public, by the FBI and government prosecutors. This action would honor Leonard and justice on this sad anniversary day.

Item 3 is an article from Howard Zinn, published in The Nation, called The Others. It shows that there is more to collateral damage than what the mainstream wants to believe. Item 4 is the text of a press release by the family and friends of "Woody,' Robert Woodward. His family is filing a suit to seek answers from the bizarre shooting of this peaceful activist and environmentalist, and friend.

Please, also, this week, consider calling and/or faxing your government representatives regarding the prior issue of Flyby News on Kucinich's H.R. 3616. This spring we need progress for a world treaty to ban space-based weapons. This would impact all human rights issues.

For recent issues of Flyby News, you can link from

1) Inside the Belly of the Beast - Malik Abdullah Akili
2) February 6 - 26th Anniversary of Leonard Peltier's Arrest
3) The Others by Howard Zinn
4) Family Pursues Quest for Truth in Woodward Shooting


1) Inside the Belly of the Beast - Malik Abdullah Akili


Another year has come to its closure with the usual amount of suffering and disruptions... the world has changed somewhat, but then again, the world is always changing. The shocking event on 9/11/01 in New York and Washington was startling, chilling, revealing and significant. The loss of lives is always sorrowful.. But the reason why things of that nature happen is rooted in years of egregious Amerikan policies, politics, actions, arrogance, and greed / racism. US terrorism, racism, and injustice, has been non-stop.

As an Afrikan prisoner of social consciousness – I know first-hand the realities of US terrorism, and prison brutality. I don't write in some attempt at expressing some rhetoric, but I am writing from a personal experience of what has happened to me personally and from what I have witnessed.. I understand what they like to tell People about their wonderfully-run prison system, but it isn't true.

Throughout the years the Amerikkkan Prison system has become extremely repressive. In that it has gone from brutality of prisoners to the psychological damaging of the minds and spirits of prisoners. This is far worst. Far more damaging than physical abuse. One can overcome physical brutality, but the damage to one's mind, from methods to break one's spirit, can last a lifetime..

..My appeal was turned down. Also, the bail! I was hurt by this, but my hurt and rage comes from a place far more profound than my own subjective feelings. It is based upon the deep love for my family, what we have developed together, my hurt was more out of their emotions. I understood all awhile what I was up against.. With my political historical background– how could they ever rule in my behalf. It would have been Unamerikkkan. I can take whatever they force into my situtation, but my family.......... they don't -- won't understand– how could they! They are both strong individuals and they will use their strengths to overcome these emotional set-backs. When love is the greater force.. that force can and will overcome the deepest of pain, sorrow or despair..

..Prison has taken on a new spirit. For me this is troubling, because I can't sit quietly by waiting to die all alone without writing some pages to history. I would want history to reflect upon my life while upon this earth, as someone who helped this place to be a better place for others.

What has happened to me, what is happening to me at this very moment has outraged me for the last time– I've come to recognize the value of my life and what this life means without control and it's direction – for one to have life without the control to go for a walk in the sun, otherwise, it isn't the worth of that life... I've grown sick of waking up each day to someone else's call. I can't go on living like this waiting for death to come hug me.

I can't write anymore.
Revolutionary love,

- - - - - - - - - -
Editors note: The above was from a letter written by
Malik Abdullah Akili, dated January 26, 2002.
For more background on Malik, see Flyby News Archives:
A Nation Behind Bars: the buried talents of a population,87474,

You can write to Malik at the following address.

Malik Abdullah Akili
DIN 94-A-5238
Collins Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 340
Collins, New York 14034-0340


2) February 6 - 26th Anniversary of Leonard Peltier's Arrest

This Wednesday marks Leonard Peltier's 26th year in prison for defending his people, and trying to protect our Earth Mother. Use this anniversary date to call Senator Leahy, the Chair of the Senate's Judicial Committee, and ask for him to release more than 6,000 documents related to Leonard Peltier's case. (Doing things together has an impact!)

Senator Patrick D Leahy
202-224-3479 fx | 202-224-4242 ph


1. I am calling in regard to the Judiciary Committee's current examination of incidences of FBI misconduct and its efforts to create a means for better government oversight.

2. In particular, I would like to bring your attention to the case of Leonard Peltier, the imprisoned Native rights activist who Amnesty International calls a "political prisoner" who should be "immediately and unconditionally released." Perhaps more than any other, the case of Leonard Peltier necessitates urgent congressional intervention.

3. First, Mr. Peltier's case is rooted in a three-year period of violent conflict on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which began with the 1973 Wounded Knee takeover and ended in 1976 as tribal chairman, Dick Wilson left office. During that period the FBI cooperated with the tribal chairman and together they sought to eliminate American Indian Movement activity and presence on the reservation. Vigilantes hired by the tribal chairman and supported by the FBI carried out a campaign of violence against members and supporters of AIM. Over 60 AIM members were murdered, and scores more were assaulted. Nothing was done to stop the violence and the survivors have received little if any closure. That period was well documented by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, but remains largely unrecognized by our government.

4. Second, it is well documented that Mr. Peltier's conviction resulted from the withholding of exculpatory evidence, the coercion of witnesses, and the utilization of falsified testimony by the FBI and U.S. Attorneys. Since 1985 the government has conceded that it cannot prove who shot the agents. In 1986 the Eighth Circuit Court ruled that had the FBI not improperly withheld evidence, Mr. Peltier might have been acquitted. Yet, a new trial was denied based on a legal technicality. The FBI withheld over 18,000 documents from the defense at trial, and continues to withhold over 6,000 today. Yet, nothing has been done to correct the improprieties and Mr. Peltier has languished over 25 years in prison despite the total lack of evidence against him.

5. Third, the FBI has consistently and aggressively obstructed Mr. Peltier's remaining avenues for redress. As you may know, President Clinton announced that he was considering Mr. Peltier for a grant of executive clemency late last year. The FBI responded with an intensive lobby and media campaign to prevent a positive decision from occurring. The statements disseminated throughout the FBI's campaign were false, intentionally misleading, and absent of highly relevant information. The FBI has utilized similar tactics in blocking Mr. Peltier's release through parole, for which he is long overdue. Clearly the killing of the two agents represents a great tragedy, but official vengeance can never be allowed to replace the due process of the law.

6. Given all of this, we want to urge the Judiciary Committee to hold full hearings on the treatment of residents on the Pine Ridge Reservation between 1973 and 1976, and on the Peltier case in particular. We also want to urge the judiciary committee to declassify the 6,000 FBI documents that remain concealed. Amnesty International, Rev. Jesse Jackson, the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, the National Congress of American Indians, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Eighth Circuit Court Judge-Gerald Heaney, and the Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights are only a few who have recognized the troubling nature of the Peltier case and have voiced support for resolution.

7. We are encouraged by the Judiciary Committee's commitment to seek better oversight of the FBI and to prevent mishaps and abuses from reoccurring. Certainly, recent revelations of misconduct give way to the need for reform. However, true reform will be difficult to achieve if the situation of Leonard Peltier continues without governmental scrutiny and resolution.

8. Taking an honest and open look at the Peltier case and the era in which it is rooted, will help bring closure to a matter that has long served as a source of distrust and anguish for so many Native Peoples and non-Native citizens. Perhaps most importantly, airing the truth could lead to the prevention of future abuses, and promote a more just and equitable society.

Senator Patrick D Leahy
202-224-3479 fx | 202-224-4242 ph

= = = = = =

This Tuesday, February 5, Peltier support groups are meeting at the Common Ground Restaurant (Eliot Street) in Brattleboro, Vermont at 6p.m. There is also a free meal served there at 5pm. The meeting will include a showing of the documentary, "Incident At Ogalala," and a discussion of actions to support justice and freedom for Leonard Peltier. The group will also discuss organizing a fund-raising music benefit to support the showing of Leonard's art work.

For more information on these and other campaigns, visit the Boston support web site:
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
PO Box 583
Lawrence, KS 66044


3) The Others by Howard Zinn

This article is published in The Nation

February 11, 2002

The Others
by Howard Zinn

Every day for several months, the New York Times did what should always be done when a tragedy is summed up in a statistic: It gave us miniature portraits of the human beings who died on September 11--their names, photos, glimmers of their personalities, their idiosyncrasies, how friends and loved ones remember them.

As the director of the New-York Historical Society said: "The peculiar genius of it was to put a human face on numbers that are unimaginable to most of us.... It's so obvious that every one of them was a person who deserved to live a full and successful and happy life. You see what was lost."

I was deeply moved, reading those intimate sketches--"A Poet of Bensonhurst...A Friend, A Sister...Someone to Lean On...Laughter, Win or Lose..." I thought: Those who celebrated the grisly deaths of the people in the twin towers and the Pentagon as a blow to symbols of American dominance in the world--what if, instead of symbols, they could see, up close, the faces of those who lost their lives? I wonder if they would have second thoughts, second feelings.

Then it occurred to me: What if all those Americans who declare their support for Bush's "war on terrorism" could see, instead of those elusive symbols--Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda--the real human beings who have died under our bombs? I do believe they would have second thoughts.

There are those on the left, normally compassionate people whose instincts go against war, who were, surprisingly, seduced by early Administration assurances and consoled themselves with words like "limited" military action and "measured" response. I think they, too, if confronted with the magnitude of the human suffering caused by the war in Afghanistan, would have second thoughts.

True, there are those in Washington and around the country who would not be moved, who are eager--like their counterparts elsewhere in the world--to kill for some cause. But most Americans would begin to understand that we have been waging a war on ordinary men, women and children. And that these human beings have died because they happened to live in Afghan villages in the vicinity of vaguely defined "military targets," and that the bombing that destroyed their lives is in no way a war on terrorism, because it has no chance of ending terrorism and is itself a form of terrorism.

But how can this be done--this turning of ciphers into human beings? In contrast with the vignettes about the victims featured in the New York Times, there are few available details about the dead men, women and children in Afghanistan.

We would need to study the scattered news reports, usually in the inside sections of the Times and the Washington Post, but also in the international press--Reuters; the London Times, Guardian and Independent; and Agence France-Presse.

These reports have been mostly out of sight of the general public (indeed, virtually never reported on national television, where most Americans get their news), and so dispersed as to reinforce the idea that the bombing of civilians has been an infrequent event, a freak accident, an unfortunate mistake.

Listen to the language of the Pentagon: "We cannot confirm the report...civilian casualties are inevitable...we don't know if they were our was an accident...incorrect coordinates had been entered...they are deliberately putting civilians in our bombing targets...the village was a legitimate military just didn't happen...we regret any loss of civilian life."

"Collateral damage," Timothy McVeigh said, using a Pentagon statement, when asked about the children who died when he bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City. After reports of the bombing of one village, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said, "We take extraordinary care.... There is unintended damage. There is collateral damage. Thus far, it has been extremely limited." The Agence France-Presse reporter quoting her said: "Refugees arriving in Pakistan suggested otherwise. Several recounted how twenty people, including nine children, had been killed as they tried to flee an attack on the southern Afghan town of Tirin Kot."

Listening to the repeated excuses given by Bush, Rumsfeld and others, one recalls Colin Powell's reply at the end of the Gulf War, when questioned about Iraqi casualties: "That is really not a matter I am terribly interested in." If, indeed, a strict definition of the word "deliberate" does not apply to the bombs dropped on the civilians of Afghanistan, then we can offer, thinking back to Powell's statement, an alternate characterization: "a reckless disregard for human life."

The denials of the Pentagon are uttered confidently half a world away in Washington. But there are on-the-spot press reports from the villages, from hospitals where the wounded lie and from the Pakistan border, where refugees have fled the bombs. If we put these reports together, we get brief glimpses of the human tragedies in Afghanistan--the names of the dead, the villages that were bombed, the words of a father who lost his children, the ages of the children. We would then have to multiply these stories by the hundreds, think of the unreported incidents and know that the numbers go into the thousands. A professor of economics at the University of New Hampshire, Marc Herold, has done a far more thorough survey of the press than I have. He lists location, type of weapon used and sources of information. He finds the civilian death toll in Afghanistan up to December 10 exceeding 3,500 (he has since raised the figure to 4,000), a sad and startling parallel to the number of victims in the twin towers.

The New York Times was able to interrogate friends and family of the New York dead, but for the Afghans, we will have to imagine the hopes and dreams of those who died, especially the children, for whom forty or fifty years of mornings, love, friendship, sunsets and the sheer exhilaration of being alive were extinguished by monstrous machines sent over their land by men far away.

My intention is not at all to diminish our compassion for the victims of the terrorism of September 11, but to enlarge that compassion to include the victims of all terrorism, in any place, at any time, whether perpetrated by Middle East fanatics or American politicians.

In that spirit, I present the following news items (only a fraction of those in my files), hoping that there is the patience to go through them, like the patience required to read the portraits of the September 11 dead, like the patience required to read the 58,000 names on the Vietnam Memorial:

For the complete article and links on related issues, see:


4) Family Pursues Quest for Truth in Woodward Shooting

Michael London

State maintains silence in case of pacifist shot by cops as he sought asylum in church

BRATTLEBORO, VT, January 21, 2002 -- The family of a 37-year-old pacifist gunned down by police as he sought help in church today announced the filing of a lawsuit against the Town of Brattleboro as well as the officer who fired the fatal shots.

Robert "Woody" Woodward of Bellows Falls, Vermont, was seeking sanctuary at the All Souls Unitarian Church in Brattleboro on December 2, 2001, when police shot him at least six times as parishioners watched in horror.

"The family wants the truth," said one of the family's attorneys, Joel Faxon, of Bridgeport, Connecticut-based Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder. Faxon, a former resident of Brattleboro, said he was "dismayed that the state officials investigating this case have refused to provide the family with the facts so they can begin to understand how this tragedy could have happened."

"The state's refusal to cooperate with the family leaves us no choice but to file suit," he said. "Now we will subpoena police and autopsy reports so the family can learn what happened to Woody and help identify ways to train police officers so something like this will never happen again."

Faxon stated that "[a] true independent investigation is required since the state police concluded in their press release a day after the shooting that the officers did nothing wrong. The state police have wrongly prejudged this case. That is plainly prejudicial to the victim's rights in this case." "The Acting Chief of Police has recognized that the State's investigation is narrow and does not include inquiry into civil rights violations. As Brattleboro Chief of Police Martin noted "serious issues involving civil rights are at issue that must be addressed as soon as possible." "Since the FBI was unwilling to step in we must do so on behalf of the family."

Faxon's co-counsel in the case, Attorney Thomas Costello of Brattleboro called "on the Governor to appoint independent counsel to oversee the investigation and to convene a grand jury to independently examine the evidence in the case." "The State Police's statement issued on December 3 is nothing but a knee jerk reaction aimed at exonerating the officers who killed
Woody. We call for a true independent review of the case."

Costello said "It is unclear why the police officers felt compelled to use deadly force." "Why was Woody shot repeatedly when he threatened nobody? This anguished family wants answers."

Woodward, who friends say was a pacifist, ran into the church at the start of Sunday morning services claiming that he was afraid of being hunted and killed by the FBI. At one point, he took out a knife and threatened to hurt himself.

When told he was scaring people, Woodward apologized, sat down and put his knife away. He jumped to his feet and picked up the knife again when police arrived with semi-automatic handguns and held the knife to his own temple. One officer allegedly opened fire and then the second officer discharged his weapon. After being shot, Woodward crumpled into a fetal position but witnesses say he was then shot repeatedly by two of the three officers. The one officer who did not fire his weapon had been trained in New York.

"The officers did not attempt to talk to Woody or try another method to subdue him," Faxon said. "We can find no witness who felt Woody was a threat to anyone in the church other than himself. In our view it is indisputablely clear that the police officers used unreasonable, deadly force and did not properly deal with this emotionally disturbed man."

Faxon said the lawsuit is being commenced Monday and will be filed at the Windham (Vermont) Superior Court on behalf of Woodward's parents and his sister, who are residents of Connecticut. The complaint was delivered Monday to the sheriff for service on Defendants in the case, the Town of Brattleboro and the two police officers, Marshall Holbrook and Terrance Parker.

The suit also charges the officers with negligent discharge of firearms and the town with negligence in its training and supervision of the police department.

Costello said, "This case underscores the need for state legislation dictating how investigations and prosecutions in this type of case must proceed. Many other states already have similar legislation. It is time for Vermont to follow suit."

You can read the wording of the suit at the website

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