Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Call To Support Hunger Striker Outside Miami Immigration Detention Center

Activists from American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Florida have alerted us to this story:

A young woman named Jenny Aguilar is on day five of a hunger strike outside the Krome Detention Center, an immigration facility near where the city of Miami meets the Everglades.  She has been on a water-only fast since January 25, and has pledged to not eat until her husband Jesus Barrera is freed. Jesus was arrested at their home on January 16 by the Miami police and turned over immigration, and has also been on hunger strike since shortly after his arrest.

Jenny has pledged that she will not move until Jesus is freed. She asks supporters to call the Krome Detention Center at 305 207 2001, and ask them to free Jesus Barrera.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hundreds of Musicians and Their Supporters Storm City Hall in Protest of Noise Ordinance

In one of the largest protests seen in New Orleans in the past decade, hundreds of musicians, club owners, and other supporters of live music protested outside, then inside, New Orleans City Hall today.

The protest was originally called because a noise ordinance was scheduled to be discussed in City Council meeting today. However, after the size of local dissent became clear, the discussion was postponed by Housing and Human Needs Committee co-chairs Stacy Head and Kristin Gisleson Palmer, who announced that "the current ordinance will be withdrawn," but their work to change the law will continue. Despite the cancellation of the hearing, the protest went on as scheduled. After more than an hour, including speeches and live music, the protest moved indoors. A line of dozens of musicians, led by Glen David Andrews, marched in to City Hall.

Inside City Council chambers, only one council member was present: LaToya Cantrell, who responded by encouraging protesters to line up and speak.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

20 to Life for a Phone Call?

This call to action comes from the Friends and Family of Manuel Brown

Manuel Brown is facing twenty years to life on a marijuana drug charge even though he never sold or bought any drugs. We need your help to prevent a miscarriage of justice! Call the Orleans Parish D.A's office and pack the Courtroom this Friday (details at the bottom).

Last April, Manuel Brown was caught in the web of an undercover operation by the New Orleans Police Department. Mr. Brown was targeted and approached by an undercover NOPD officer in the middle of the day for no apparent reason other than being a black male walking in his neighborhood.

Mr. Brown did not have any drugs on him and he did not sell any drugs to the officer. The NOPD only alleges that Mr. Brown made a single phone call when the undercover officer asked where she could purchase marijuana. Mr. Brown only agreed to call after engaging in a half hour conversation and being persuaded by the undercover officer. Mr. Brown was arrested shortly thereafter on charges of distribution of narcotics (even though he never touched any drugs or any money). Mr. Brown is currently in jail on a $100,000 bond at the St. Charles Parish Nelson Coleman Correctional Center.

Mr. Brown, who is a 38 year old father, now faces twenty years to life without the benefit of probation or parole because of Louisiana's unjust Habitual Offender Law. Mr. Brown is a recovering addict who is being punished for his past possession convictions even though he has already spent five years of his life behind bars as a result. Mr. Brown has never had a violent conviction and his last felony conviction is over ten years old.

At a time when marijuana is being decriminalized in other states, Mr. Brown is facing imprisonment for the rest of his life! The District Attorney refuses to take into account Mr. Brown's circumstances and is only offering fifteen years flat.

Mr. Brown's story is a clear example of an overreach of the justice system and a drug war that is out of control, all at the expense of people of color, poor communities and Louisiana tax payers.

WE NEED YOUR HELP! We are mobilizing people to pack the courtroom for Mr. Brown this Friday at his hearing. Furthermore, we are asking people to call the District's Attorney's office and tell them to reconsider their offer.

Pack The Courtroom
Friday, January 17th at 11:00 AM (Meet in front of the Courthouse at 10:45. Remember that cell phones are not allowed in the courthouse building, but a supporter has volunteered to be there and hold phones outside the courthouse).
Orleans Parish Criminal District Court, Section J
2700 Tulane Ave. New Orleans, LA 70119

Contact the District Attorney's Office
619 South White Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70119

Sample of what to say if you call:

Hello, I'm a New Orleans(Louisiana) resident. I am calling to ask that D.A. Leon A. Cannizzaro, reconsider the plea offer for Manuel Brown (Case #: 515-971). I am troubled by Mr. Brown's case. Mr. Brown did not sell or possess any drugs when he was arrested. The interests of residents and public safety are not served by incarcerating a person with no violent record for 15 years on a marijuana charge. The cost to tax-payers is also unacceptable. I urge the D.A. to reconsider Mr. Brown's situation in the interest of all Louisiana citizens. Thank

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Dawit at 917-740-3457 or Mr. Brown's attorney, Omavi at 504-827-8180.

We thank you in advance for your support!

- Friends and Family of Manuel Brown