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    Inspiring Participatory Democracy: Student Movements from Port Huron to Today

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    Tom Hayden speaks in Port Huron, MI, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Port Huron Statement.

    4/12 - Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

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      The Peace Exchange Bulletin

      Published by Tom Hayden, The Peace Exchange Bulletin is a reader-supported journal, critically following the Pentagon's Long War in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, as well as the failed U.S. wars on drugs and gangs, and U.S. military responses to nationalism and poverty around the world.

      Sunday
      Feb162014

      1964: FBI-CIA Intervention In Berkeley's FSM

      This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Free Speech Movement. This essay is the preface from a forthcoming book edited by Professor Robert Cohen.                      

      It is a worthy time to study and treasure the eloquent speeches of Mario Savio, "freedom's orator" as the historian Robert Cohen rightly calls him.

      Click to read more ...

      Wednesday
      Feb052014

      One Million Green Car Goal in California

      Spurred by persistent environmental campaigners, Governor Jerry Brown claimed, "we're on our way to a million electric vehicles," in his January State of the State address. The Brown initiative, likely to be followed up by legislation, asserts California's leadership in renewable energy, as the federal government remains paralyzed. The "million green cars" goal is certain to be copied by other states seeking to build a clean energy economy.

      Click to read more ...

      Tuesday
      Dec242013

      The Pope & Liberation Theology

      Friends of liberation theology: 

      I have to admit that I was concerned when I learned that our new Pope Francis emerged from Argentina's dictatorship. Not again, I thought, a Pope on the side of another dictator, in the spirit of the Santa Fe Declaration, come to bury liberation theology more deeply, another Ratzinger. After all, in an institution so centralized, how could the spirit of the progressive church be manifested? I still don't know the answer, but Harvey Cox's excellent perspective in The Nation is convincing. Francis is on the side of liberation theology, working from within, towards his moment. His choice is more miraculous, if you will, than the rise of Barack Obama in 2008.  

      Click to read more ...

      Monday
      Dec232013

      With Love From Our Family

      --

      When Pope Francis is the left-wing of the world, I say God dammit,  celebrate Christmas and the risen Jesus! I know Francis has a ways to go on certain issues, but denouncing the fundamentalists' obsession with sex and gender is a start. What we often think is Lost is Found. If the church of the poor is rising, can a party of the poor be far behind? If Latin America is lifting the pope, is that not Good Tidings for the immigrant? If the Pope takes the name of Francis, does that not mean that the earth and universe are consecrated? I don't mean to preach to you, brothers and sisters, but it's that time of year when the Spirit is born where least expected. Have courage, gain wisdom, laugh at the powerful, spread love, rant when necessary, raise your fists, organize, and keep Lucifer at bay- or at least out of office. If Francis can be pope, anything is possible.

      Friday
      Dec202013

      'Another Factory Fire in Bangladesh: This Time, a Product of Rage' By Robert J.S. Ross

      On Friday, November 29, as Americans chose between sleeping off Thanksgiving turkey and shopping at dawn for electronic and clothing bargains, another big factory fire burned in Bangladesh.

      At first glance, it seems a horribly familiar story line: one of the largest garment factories in Bangladesh -- employing perhaps 18,000 workers -- burnt down. This follows the tragic Rana Plaza collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers in April, and the Tazreen fire that killed 112 in November. As a recent report by the International Labor Rights Forum documented (and for full disclosure, to which I contributed), Bangladesh has been a careless inferno of workers' lives over the last 20 years.

      Click to read more ...

      Thursday
      Dec192013

      Questions for Hillary

      Lawrence O'Donnell last night was questioning why Governor Brian Schweitzer was in Iowa questioning Hillary's support for the Iraq War. Good question, but Karen Finney's answer was pure Hillary spin. Anyone who hopes that Iraq is "old news" still has to explain Hillary's unexplainable support for the wars in Afghanistan and Libya, her demand for a missile strike on Syria and her general support for the unwinnable unaffordable wars of the last decade. Votes in the peace state of Iowa will want answers. Equally important is her embrace of Wall Street at a time when most Democratic voters are demanding an alternative to economic inequality. The question is why she is in disagreement with a majority of her Democratic base?

      Friday
      Dec132013

      Support the Peace and Justice Resource Center in 2014!

      Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, When I'm 64 74?

      December 11, 2013 

      I turn 74 today, and with your support feel fully ready to write my brains out until they last. I am oddly proud that my work is uncompensated in this money-made country. That's right, the hundred or so Peace Exchange Bulletin articles of the past year - unpaid labor. The dozens of The Nation and Huffington Post pieces - also unpaid. An opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times or The Guardian - a couple of hundred bucks towards my kid's education and music classes. Two years' work on a book - maybe a thousand bucks a month, with no money for advertisements and promotion. You get the picture, because many of you are in the same boat or an even leakier one. 

      Before 2013 ends, please make a contribution to the PJRC to pay for my stellar research assistant, Emma Taylor, and our minor administrative expenses. Nothing's free, but we are as free as it gets. If you cannot donate to the PJRC, please pledge to copy, paste and circulate our materials as widely as you can. And send feedback too. 

      One of the nicest messages I've received recently came from Michael Ratner, the human rights attorney who heads the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, which has been litigating against stop-and-frisk. When I wrote in The Nation about William Bratton's record in Los Angeles, Michael replied, "Tom, that was a very good and important piece. No one else has said it." Additionally, he tweeted the article to his six thousand followers. This support is invaluable.

      My own favorite five days this year was lobbying in D.C. against the impending US missile attack on Syria. With my friends in Progressive Democrats of America (You should join up!), we published an argument against escalation in the insider paper, Roll Call, visited over one hundred congressional offices, and witnessed the shortest successful peace movement in memory - the escalation was called off after a week!

      Also dear to my heart are the California prisoners who went on hunger strike to oppose decades of solitary confinement. I wrote for the Los Angeles Times and The Nation about their struggle, lobbied Governor Jerry Brown and key Senators for hearings, and finally, we succeeded in forcing the Legislature to engage with their life-and-death issues. 

      For 2014, I am committed to writing the unknown history of the Cuban Revolution and the New Left, and speaking everywhere I can on behalf of normalization of relations before President Obama leaves office. My intuition and experience tell me that it's doable at last. My new book on Cuba will be out next year, published by Seven Stories Press. 

      I am blessed to watch and witness the seasons of life go by, in awe of the unpredictability of history and with faith that social movements are always being born. 

      Thank you,

      Tom Hayden

      Director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center

      Friday
      Dec132013

      An Opening for Progressive Democrats

      The sight of progressive Democrats shaming and exposing the Wall Street-funded "third way" Democrats this week is a sign of a powerful new opening for progressives on the American political spectrum.

      Click to read more ...

      Thursday
      Dec122013

      Is It Time for the U.S. to Shake Cuba's Hand Too?

      The handshake between President Obama and Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's memorial service would have made the South African leader smile. It was the latest sign of a gradual thawing in relations between Washington and Havana after a frozen half-century.

      Click to read more ...

      Wednesday
      Dec112013

      Reform the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Letter to Attorney General Eric Holder

      December 10, 2013

      The Honorable Eric Holder

      Attorney General of the United States

      United States Department of Justice

      Washington, D.C.

      Re:      Reform the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

      Dear Attorney General Holder:

      There is a compelling need for the Department of Justice to intervene against the longstanding and unconstitutional patterns and practices of the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department. The Justice Department should file a civil action in order to monitor the Sheriff’s Department under a consent decree or other federal court order to eliminate the pattern and practice of abuse and corruption.

      This week's indictment by a federal grand jury of 16 deputies and 2 former deputies for excessive force and obstruction of justice in county jails clearly demonstrates that only the federal government can stop the abuse and corruption that are systemic in the LASD.

      The people of Los Angeles cannot trust the Sheriff’s Department to reform and police itself. The Kolts Report in 1992 documented that a central focus of abuse is the Department’s jail system. The need remains to make the jails a central focus of reform. See, e.g., Special Counsel James Kolts, The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department 237-48 (1992), goo.gl/DhbcLc.

      The County Board of Supervisors may argue that their recent appointment of an Inspector Generalwill cure the problem without outside intervention. Our response is, first,that the proposal for an Inspector General languished for months before the Supervisors adopted it in a last-minute effort to avoid federal oversight. The federal government has acted as a prod to local action that was long overdue. Second, the Inspector General is required to turn any findings and recommendations over to the very Supervisors who have failed to resolve these festering issues for many years. The people of Los Angeles cannot expect the problems of abuse and corruption to be fairly and thoroughly addressed by the elected officials responsible for allowing them to grow and multiply in the first place. Finally, the newInspector General lacks not only the enforcement powers but the staffing and funding to pursue a massive, long-entrenched crisis to a real solution.

      Federal intervention once again appears to be the only path to real reform in the largest local jail system in the United States.

      Congress gave the Justice Department the authority to investigate patterns and practices of police abuse by state and local law enforcement agencies and to bring lawsuits to remedythose abuses. The Justice Department should file a civil action to eliminate the pattern and practice of abuse and corruption.

      Section 14141 of the U.S. Code prohibits law enforcement officers or officials from engaging in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights, privileges or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. It gives the Justice Department the authority to intervene where local systems of police accountability have failed. The Sheriff's Department scandal is just such a situation. If this is not a pattern and practice of police abuse, what is? 

      We ourselves wrote to Assistant Attorney General Bill Lann Lee in 2000 successfully pleading for federal action during the Rampart police misconduct scandal. The Justice Department persuaded the City of Los Angeles to accept and implement a longlist of reforms. That chapter of our history was a success by nearly all accounts. With that previous consent decree as a model, we urge you to help us take the next step in the history of police reform, without delay. See Tom Hayden, Paul Hoffman, and Robert García, This Case Calls for a Truly Outside Inquiry, L.A. Times, Feb. 20, 2000, goo.gl/S2tBV3.

      Abuse and corruption in the Sheriff’s Department undermines any reform of the LAPD. People who are presumed innocent and who remain in custody after arraignment are remanded to the custody of the Sheriff’s Department if they are arrested by the LAPD. Innocent people are entitled to be free from abuse and corruption at the hands of the police and the sheriff. LAPD cannot turn a blind eye and send innocent suspects to the county jail without accepting full responsibility and accountability for the life and safety of the suspects. See LAPD web site, “Jail and Related Questions,” goo.gl/4oitz9.

      The Department of Justice should secure as part of the remedy in court independent civilian oversight to oversee the Sheriff’s Department in the long term.

      The federal criminal investigation is not enough to achieve reform. The criminal probe focuses on proving the culpability of individual deputies beyond a reasonable doubt. The civil action for a pattern and practice of abuse and corruption would focus on institutional reform of the Sheriff’s Department to eliminate the pattern or practice by a preponderance of the evidence.

      The Justice Department can and must play a major role in ensuring that this scandal, unlike others before it, really does lead to the structural reform and continuing oversight that are essential to solve the problems of the Sheriff’s Department. See Robert García, Riots and Rebellion: Los Angeles Police Reform Time Line 1965-2012, KCET Departures, goo.gl/8zM6X.

      Very truly yours,

      s/                                                                                    s/                                                                     

      Senator Tom Hayden (Ret.)                                          Robert García              

      Director, The Peace and Justice Resource Center         Founding Director and Counsel

      Tom Hayden served in the California legislature from 1982 to 2000 as an assemblyman and senator. He is the author of Street Wars (2007).

      Robert García is a civil rights attorney and former federal prosecutor, having served as Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York. With the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, he sued the Sheriff’s Department in the Thomas litigation that led to the Kolts reforms.

      Cc:       County Board of Supervisors

                  Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council

                  Steve Soboroff, President, City of Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners