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Parole Peltier * Framed Conviction * Death Row USA * ACLU Action

15 May 2002


1) Letters Needed to Free Leonard Peltier after 26 years
2) Out of an Unjust Hell on Death Row - Zolo Agona Azania -
3) Overview on the Arrest/Conviction of Malik Abdullah Akili
4) ACLU Action Update: Congress Seeks to Amend Constitution

Editor's Notes:

Yesterday, I received a reply telephone call from Dennis Kucinich. After getting over the initial shock of a politician returning a phone call, I asked if he had any comment regarding last issue's Flyby News, in which we encouraged his running for US President in 2004. He remarked that he is receiving such requests from all over the country and world, and that he is grateful for this, and listening, listening carefully. This is what I call hopeful and good news -- for a change.

This issue of Flyby News gets back to the issue of justice and the understanding of the depths of corruption in the US prison (slave) system. The worst of horrors are experienced by those incarcerated in the pits of what is Hell on Earth. About 2 million people are in prison, with minority races disproportionately arrested .*

Item 1 updates the campaign to help free Leonard Peltier. His defense committee is requesting letters in support of his interim parole hearing, which is set for July 1, 2002. The update also briefly touches on the shenanigans of the trial now in Boston about the relationship of the highest office in the FBI consorting with the mob over murder, with innocent people imprisoned for decades. Sounds Familiar?


Item 2 was inspired from a letter received from Zolo Agona Azania, a death row inmate. His book, "Fighting Forward: Words that Inspire Death Row Prisoner and Activist Zolo Agona Azania" is available from the web. His case is another example of the brutal unfairness of the current judicial criminal system. At the end of this item, an article link was inserted that gives a small hint of hope -- Maryland became the second state for a Moratorium on Executions, until a study shows if the system is unfair to those of minority races.

The following linked AP article reports on a recent accounting of prison populations: "Long-standing racial and ethnic disparities remained, particularly among younger black men. For instance, 13.4 percent of black males age 25 to 29 were in prison or jail, compared with 4.1 percent of Hispanic men and 1.8 percent of white males."

Item 3 relates to this, but with not only the added consequence of being Black, but also a former member of the Black Panther Party. It is more from a letter from my personal dear friend, Malik Abdullah Akili. In response to my request, he wrote more on the details and circumstances surrounding his arrest and conviction. We are trying to build support for his parole hearing, which is during this upcoming October.

Item 4 is on an action alert from the ACLU regarding the Constitutional premise that one is free until proven guilty. And now, even an appearance of a fair judicial system, is under attack!

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* According to a recent AP article, the number of people incarcerated in the United States reached a new high last year. The Justice Department reported last Wednesday that 1,965,495 people were in custody in the nation's federal and state prisons and local jails in June 2001, a 1.6 percent increase from the previous year. To read the complete Associated Press article, posted 15 May 2002, see : http://www.whdh.com/news/articles/7041/

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1) Letters Needed to Free Leonard Peltier after 26 years

From the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
http://www.freepeltier.org

Leonard Peltier's next interim parole hearing has been scheduled for July 1st, 2002. Letters of support are urgently needed. An interim parole hearing is different from a regular parole hearing. Its purpose is to review the Parole Commission's original decision to deny parole to see if any new developments warrant a change. The Commission can do one of three things: affirm the original decision to deny parole and leave the next full hearing date (2008) in place (the most common scenario); accelerate or postpone the next full hearing date; or grant parole.

As many of you have experienced, the Parole Commission does not treat these hearings with any seriousness or fairness. During the last hearing, the Parole Examiner wrote his recommendation that Leonard not be granted parole while Leonard's representatives were still making their presentations. However, it is critical that we maintain a strong showing of support for Leonard's release. We DO NOT want to give the Commission or prison officials the false impression that Leonard Peltier's support is dwindling.

This showing of support is what keeps Leonard safe. Furthermore, we must take full advantage of any opportunity to seek Leonard's release, even if the chances for victory are slim. Let's gather as many letters as possible and show officials that we have not and will not give up.

A sample letter that you can use if you'd like is below. If you can personalize it that is even better. Please send copies of your letters to the LPDC so that we can track how many were submitted and compile them for presentation to the Parole Commission.

Thank you for your ongoing support!

In Solidarity,
LPDC

Click here to learn about Leonard's parole status
http://www.freepeltier.org/remaining_avenues.htm

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Date

United States Parole Commission
5550 Friendship Boulevard, Suite 420
Chevy Chase, MD 20815-7286

Re: LEONARD PELTIER #89637-132

Dear Commissioners:

I am writing to express my wholehearted support for the parole of Mr. Leonard Peltier who is currently housed at the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth. Mr. Peltier has served more than 26 years in prison for the deaths of FBI Agents, Ronald Williams and Jack Coler. I recognize the grave nature of such an offense. My deepest sympathy is extended to the families of these two agents. After careful consideration of the facts in Mr. Peltier's case, I ask you to grant Mr. Peltier parole. I note that the United States attorneys and the courts have long held that they do not know who killed Mr. Coler or Mr. Williams. In spite of this fact, Mr. Peltier has served more than 26 years in prison for their deaths. Although Mr. Peltier maintains that he did not kill the agents, he has openly expressed remorse and sadness over their deaths.

Mr. Peltier has no prior convictions and has advocated for non-violence throughout his prison term. Mr. Peltier does not represent a risk to the public. To the contrary, his release would help to heal a wound that has long impeded better relations with Native Americans. Furthermore, Mr. Peltier has been a model prisoner. He has received excellent evaluations from his work supervisors on a regular basis. He continues to mentor young Native prisoners, encouraging them to lead clean and sober lives. He has used his time productively, disciplining himself to be a talented painter and an expressive writer. Most admirably, he contributes regular support to those in need. He donates his paintings to charities including battered women's shelters, half way houses, alcohol and drug treatment programs, and Native American scholarship funds. He coordinates an annual gift drive for the children of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which last year garnered more than 1,000 gifts. He is widely recognized in the human rights community for his good deeds and in turn has won several human rights awards, including the 2001 Ontario Federation of Labour Human Rights Award and a current nomination for the Right to Livelihood Award.

Lastly, I note my deep concern with Mr. Peltier's health. He is now 57 years of age and he suffers from partial blindness, diabetes, a heart condition, and high blood pressure. Mr. Peltier deserves to live the remaining years of his life in peace.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely yours,


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In May 2000, Congressman Porter sponsored a two hour congressional briefing on Leonard Peltier and related circumstances on the Pine Ridge reservation. Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Amnesty International, Ernie Stevens Jr. of the National Congress of American Indians, Author Peter Matthiessen, Journalist Kevin McKiernan, shoot-out survivor Nilak Butler, reign of terror survivor Debra White Plume, shoot-out aftermath witness Jean Day, and lawyers Bruce Ellison and Jennifer Harbury testified to a full room of human rights leaders and Congressional staff of numerous human, civil, and constitutional rights violations involved in the Peltier case.

This historic event was videotaped and edited for a one hour program. The testimonies of people who were there at the Jumping Bull Ranch, and the quality and humanity of Leonard Peltier supporters, make this a video to be seen. It expand awareness on the case of Leonard Peltier and at the same time, it touches the heart strings of our common yearnings for freedom and being with loved ones. You can purchase, at cost for copying and distribution, a copy of this video from Chris Groden - Tel. 413-549-2739 or email: cgroden@hotmail.com. Chris is the coordinator of the Leonard Peltier Support Group of New Eagle-land.

The Boston LPSG is coordinating a Leonard Peltier freedom event on the 27th anniversary -- June 26, 2002 since the shootout on the Pine Ridge Reservation that led to the killing of two FBI agents and the non-investigated killing of a First Nations warrior, and the Wrongful Conviction of Leonard Peltier. Contact - Andrea Hornbein ahornbein@earthlink.net for details in Boston, and contact the LPDC for events in other regions.

Leonard Peltier's book: Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance is available from your bookstore, library, but it serves best when purchased from the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee.

Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
PO Box 583
Lawrence, KS 66044
785-842-5774
http://www.freepeltier.org

Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls
Leonard Peltier's Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance:

"A deeply moving and very disturbing story of a gross miscarriage of justice and an eloquent cri de coeur of Native Americans for redress and to be regarded as human beings with inalienable rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution as any other citizens. We pray that it does not fall on deaf ears. America owes it to herself."

For excerpts from Leonard's book, see Item 2:
http://www.flybynews.com/cgi-local/newspro/viewnews.cgi?newsid978364686,28469,m

PRISON WRITINGS: MY LIFE IS MY SUN DANCE
Published by St. Martins Press, NYC 1999
Edited by Harvey Arden
http://wisdomkeepers.com/prison.html

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Boston FBI-Mob Article:

Devilish deal: Probers unveil memo showing Boston FBI protected killer

by J.M. Lawrence
Sunday, May 12, 2002

Congressional investigators released a ``smoking gun'' 1965 memo yesterday showing FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover knew informant Vincent ``Jimmy The Bear'' Flemmi murdered seven men but still protected him from the electric chair and let four other men go to prison for one of the murders.

For the complete article, visit this following URL:
http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_regional/mob05122002.htm

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So the criminal link rises to the top office in the FBI; yet another stool pigeon, former Boston FBI agent, John J. Connolly Jr., now on trial, is receiving damaging testimony from his superior, a 25-year FBI agent that received immunity for testifying against Connolly. His testimony is said to have bolstered the government's case that Connolly never had legitimate FBI orders to get so deeply involved with his criminal informants. Yet this is a case of distortion, murder and lies.

To help connect the Peltier case with the current investigations of the FBI, visit:
http://www.flybynews.com/cgi-local/newspro/viewnews.cgi?newsid1013207483,22139,


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2) Out of an Unjust Hell on Death Row - Zolo Agona Azania -


Letter of Appeal for Help Out of an Unjust Hell of Death Row
By Zolo Agona Azania

On August 11, 1981, i was arrested in the city of Gary and charged with armed robbery and murder. On that day the police dispatcher sent out a call about a robbery at the Gary National Bank, 3680 Broadway. The first cop on the scene was shot. Thereafter, a citywide dragnet took place and about 10 Black (New Afrikan) people were snatched off the street!

All police reports of these arrests were either withheld or destroyed. In this atmosphere of class conflict, i was stopped in a Black neighborhood on the West Side of Gary by a white cop. When i demanded to know what was going on, the racist cop said, "Nigger, you shot a cop!" i vehemently denied the accusations only to be told, "Well if you didn't do it nigger, you sure as hell know who did." Then he said, "Well, i'm not sure if you did or not, but you'll do." This happened on 25th & Lincoln Street.

i was arrested because nobody else was around on the street at that time. The police officer who arrested me did not even know who i was. But since i was the only person walking down the street (about 2 miles from where the bank robbery and shooting had occurred) i was considered a suspect!

For the complete Letter of Appeal.. See
http://home4.inet.tele.dk/lepan/lene/indiana/zolo.htm

Here's its final paragraph:

i am not a common criminal. i am a conscious political prisoner of war, and a target in an insane political climate rampant with racism, reaction and corruption. i do not need anybody to march in the streets for me carrying picket signs like Mumia Abu Jamal. i need help in the area of publicity. i have a lot of dignity and self-esteem. i can reach more people via the media, than writing one letter at a time. No decision or ruling has been made on my new appeal currently pending in the Indiana Supreme Court. It has been filed in court since May, 1997. i am hopeful and optimistic for a positive outcome in my favor.

For more information please contact:
Attorney Michael E. Deutsch
People's Law Office
1180 North Milwaukee
Chicago, Illinois 60622
Telephone:
(773) 235-0070
(847) 475-8378

Thank you very much,
Zolo Agona Azania

Bro. Zolo Agona Azania #4969
Indiana State Prison
P.O. Box 41
Michigan City, IN 46361-0041


About Zolo Agona Azania

Zolo was a committed community activist even before his arrest in 1981. But in the years he has spent behind bars, he has continued to use his painting, drawing and writing skills to fight for "economic self-reliance, local community control and development free of corruption." He identifies [himself] as a Conscious Citizen of the Republic of New Afrika and he firmly supports any cause that works in earnest with poor people "regardless of race or religion, in their struggle against hunger, disease, exploitation and poverty." It's very little wonder our government wants him dead.

One can only imagine what would happen in this country when a defendant identifies himself as a New Afrikan citizen: race plays an important role. The jury that convicted Zolo was all white. During his sentencing retrial, a so-called "computer error" eliminated 70% of the county's black jurors from his potential jury pool, so he was again sentenced by a "jury of his peers" with no black members.

Despite any questions of guilt or innocence, we are fighting for Zolo Azania's life. We do so because he has asked us to. We do so because we are against the death penalty. And, most importantly, we do so because Zolo continues to use the gifts he has, even from death row, to help other human beings.

We hope that you will download a copy of Zolo's book Fighting Forward: Words that Inspire Death Row Prisoner and Activist Zolo Agona Azania. Any donation you will make for this book will go to Zolo's Campaign at the People's Law Office in Chicago.

http://www.commoncouragepress.com/zolo/index.cfm?action=zolo

Fighting Forward: Words that Inspire Death Row Prisoner and Activist Zolo Agona Azania.
Researched and Compiled by Zolo Agona Azania
13 pages; January 2001, Common Courage Press

Fighting Forward "Words to lift the revolutionary soul" is available at this link:

http://www.commoncouragepress.com/zolo/index.cfm?action=book

It is a 13-page e-book available as a PDF file, for which you will need Acrobat Reader to view. The price to download a copy of Fighting Forward is entirely up to you. No amount is too little, and no amount is too high. Any donation you make for this book will go to Zolo's Campaign at the People's Law Office in Chicago.

In the words of Edmund Berke, quoted within, "The worst mistake is to do nothing because you can only do a little."

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Related Article:

Maryland Suspends Death Penalty
By Lori Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 10, 2002; Page A01

Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening declared a moratorium on executions yesterday, sparing, for now, the life of a Baltimore area killer and making Maryland the second state, after Illinois, to suspend the death penalty because of doubts about its fairness.

For the complete article, see:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A62711-2002May9.html

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3) Overview on the Arrest/Conviction of Malik Abdullah Akili

..You asked of me to write an overview on the case. Here's some more details we never covered before regarding a snitch, who i had known for years. We used to go to the same Masjid to pray together. I helped him get a place to live, along with his wife. I helped to get him into the hospital to deal with his drug problem. When some people had him trapped in a basement in Brooklyn, ready to kill him, someone gave me a call to the situation and I went to pull him out of that situation... Yet, when he got arrested on April 19, 1994 for 39 robberies, he desired so badly to free himself, he told special police forces that he knew of someone who was an ex-Panther that had been underground for years..

On April 19, 1994, I was at home with my wife and daughter. John (Yahya) Jamison called me and asked me to meet him at 168 West 121st Street. He stated that he had a serious problem and needed to see me right away. I got up, made prayers..left the house to go directly there to Harlem to meet him. When I arrived at apartment 1-R, thee was a house full of people. After speaking with the owner of the house, he told me that he hadn't seen Yahya all day. I couldn't understand the whole situation, because I did put some trust in Yahya. After a few moments waiting, the phone rang and the owner called out to Yahya's wife to come to the phone that Yahya wanted to speak with her. Well, at that moment I went and took the phone to ask him where he was and that I had been waiting for him. He told me to get off the phone and put his wife on. He would never spoken to me like that, so I knew something was wrong, but couldn't put my finger on it. After his wife finished speaking with him, she was in this great rush to get out of the house, so I began to question her about what was going on. She said nothing, and then said she would come back and tell me the whole story. As she opened the door to leave, the police kicked it in with guns out yelling who is Malik I stood up to say that I was Malik, please don't hurt anyone. They told me to lay on the floor and don't move or else they would kill me.. My concern was two fold that I might actually be killed inside the apartment and that others inside the apartment might also be killed. With my life hanging in the balance, I tried to convince the police that nobody in the apartment was armed and since they already have me -- they shouldn't shoot or hurt anyone.

As we emerged from the apartment, the street had been closed down, traffic had been stopped. There was this helicopter circling overhead and there were long lines of unmarked special police cars. They drove me from 121st street in Harlem directly to 12th Street in the village without stopping. This was to one of those special police stations with PLA written on the outside to throw people off. Once inside I was placed in a cell with curtains so I couldn't see who was coming or leaving. After a few hours, they took me out into a room with three special police and someone typing everything that was said. One of the first things they laid out to me was that they didn't want me. They were truly interested in the capture of someone by the name of "M." John (Yahya Jamison had told them that I knew where "M" was hiding out, and if I was to cooperate with them, they would let me walk out of the station house as a free man.

Well, all of us have come to understand what the "snitching" game is about.. Most of us were introduced to the game of snitching at an early age. We made choices back then at the age of the man/woman child not to snitch or cooperate. Therefore, we come to understand the consequences of snitching and made a conscious decision, and with that decision comes a bond of principles, respect, and trust.

Indeed, oppression first shaped the spirit of resistance within all of us. I was raised up under oppression, so it can neither defeat, nor destroy my original concept to reject the idea of snitching or cooperating. We have come to understand that nothing is more fundamental than the principles of truth and respect, and if I cannot remain steadfast to both of those principles, how can I ever expect to be true to myself or anyone else?

Snitching is a serous behavior. It's not an action it is a process that is ongoing for those caught up in it. I would hope that they come to recognize this .. in hopes that one day their consciousness will lift them up to new heights of awareness, and move them to the point that they will be able to see that they have out-lived that life and move on beyond that point. Even the person (John Yahja Jamison), who snitched on me, I forgive him and hope that he can truly put the pieces of his life together in a positive way.

The police used and exploited his weakness.. Most of us have weaknesses, and the police seek what might be the individual thing to bring it out. Most snitches turn state evidence to escape prosecution or to gain some material goods, but such a small gain, to lose so much in return. When you reflect on the overall conditions of the Movement here in Amerikkka, we can see how the Movement has been crippled by COINTELPRO and the exploited weaknesses of the individuals that were exploited.

Whether or not two men wearing disguises robbed the architectural firm at 211 West 61 Street is not being disputed by me, but one thing is for sure, it was NOT me! The police investigation of that robbery was indeed seriously flawed from the inception.. An appropriately conducted investigation would have revealed two things. The first being that I m not the man who did this criminal act and the second would have foreclosed the possibility of any conviction on my behalf.. this is indeed a miscarriage of justice.

On April 20, 1994 I was arrested. Held for two days against my will. I was put on many line-ups throughout these two days. A number of line-ups were necessary [to build their case]. Det-Deloney, the lead Detective in the case, requested that my fingerprints be compared to other prints recovered in some other robberies that he was investigating. As a result of the lack of anyone in this investigation identifying me, the District Attorney declined to prosecute me and I was released from custody. Seven months later, Det-Deloney came to arrest me stating that he found my fingerprint on the inside of the place that had been robbed.

Once he arrested me, he made all kinds of offers if I was to snitch. He explained that he knew I wasn't the individual, but he also knew that I knew where "M" was, so he was encircling me for the sole purpose of forcing me to snitch. I knew "M" quite well, but I could not make any inculpatory statements against him, nor myself and so, because i wouldn't snitch, Det-Deloney arrested me.

I waited many months before they took me to trial. The D.A. and the judge explained to me that they were gonna make me an offer, and if I refused, I was facing a life sentence because of my record. They wanted me to take a few years and I would be home, but again, I refused and proceeded to trial. In an indictment filed on September 29, 1994, a New York County Grand Jury charged me with two counts of first-degree robbery (NY County Indictment No. 9336/94. On May 20, 1996, my first trial ended in a hung jury.

..I proceeded to a second trial before a new judge...and was convicted as charged. On July 25, 1996, I was sentenced to prison of 8.5 to 17 years on the first degree robbery counts, and 7 to 14 years on the second-degree robbery counts.

That's the overview. I will begin to work on the letter to the parole board, but you must know how difficult this sort of writing is for me. Not only is it difficult for me, but also quite painful and hurting.. since it takes me back to one of the cruelest aspects of this whole thing taking me away from my daughter when she was so young, which is something either of us can never make up for that time lost. Perhaps the state has destroyed one of the greatest love relationships between Daughter and Father that existed.

Take care,
Malik

Malik is seeking support for his parole hearing, which will be coming up in October 2002.

To contact Malik, learn more on his case, and other Flyby News prison issues, see:
http://www.flybynews.com/cgi-local/newspro/viewnews.cgi?newsid999200948,87474,m

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4) ACLU Action Update: Congress Seeks to Amend Constitution

05-19-02 -- ACLU Action Update: Congress Seeks to Amend Constitution

TO: ACLU Action Network
FR: Jared Feuer, Internet Organizer
DT: May 19, 2002

Despite protest by victims' groups and legal experts, Members of Congress have once again introduced the so-called Victims' Rights Amendment (S.J. Res. 35/H.J. Res. 91) which, if passed, would jeopardize the principles that the accused are innocent until proven guilty and that everyone in this country should have the right to a fair trial.

While many of the provisions in the proposed amendment reflect laudable goals, it is unnecessary, even counterproductive, to amend the U.S. Constitution to achieve them. Every state has either a state constitutional provision or law protecting victims' rights -- or both. In addition, federal and state prosecutors have stated that a federal constitutional amendment is likely to hamper the ability of law enforcement to effectively prosecute cases. For these various reasons, victims groups including National Network to End Domestic Violence and the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women are speaking out against this constitutional amendment.

Take Action! You can read more about this amendment and send a FREE FAX to your Members of Congress from our action alert at:

http://www.aclu.org/action/vra107.html

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