Apr 27 2012

Weekly Digest – 04/27/12

Weekly Digest | Published 27 Apr 2012, 1:06 pm | Comments Off on Weekly Digest – 04/27/12 -

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Our weekly edition is a nationally syndicated one-hour digest of the best of our daily coverage.

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This week on Uprising:

* New Evidence Surfaces in Death of Undocumented San Diego Resident on the Border
* Eye Witness Account of LA Uprising, 20 Years Ago
* Mass Quebec Strike Continues with Hundreds of Thousands of Students in Streets

* * *

New Evidence Surfaces in Death of Undocumented San Diego Resident on the Border

Nearly two years ago, a 42 year old man named Anastacio Hernandez Rojas died after being beaten and tased by Border Patrol agents who were in the process of deporting him to Mexico. Rojas, a husband, and father of five, had lived in San Diego for more than ten years. In justifying his beating, Border Patrol agents claimed he had become violent. The Attorney overseeing his case said that a quantity of methamphetamine was found in his blood at the time of death by the coronor and the case was then dismissed without anyone involved being charged. However, Rojas’ death was ruled a “homicide” by the San Diego medical examiner, and while his death brought some media attention in 2010, it quickly faded away — until now.

As a result of investigative journalism, two videos by witnesses have revealed that Rojas was handcuffed and on the ground when he was repeatedly beaten and tased. A new documentary that aired earlier in the month on PBS, and that is available for viewing online, explored Rojas’ death, and the new evidence that has come to light. Meanwhile, Rojas’ family has filed a wrongful death suit against the federal government and 12 agents involved. The online organization, Presente.org is in the process of gathering signatures for a petition aimed at Attorney General Eric Holder demanding a federal investigation.

GUEST: John Carlos Frey, Investigative journalist and documentary film maker, who has been investigating the case of Anastacio Rojas through the Nation

Click here to sign Presente.org’s petition.

Watch the PBS documentary about Anastacio Rojas’ Death here:

Watch Crossing the line at the border on PBS. See more from Need To Know.

Eye Witness Account of LA Uprising, 20 Years Ago

In the early hours of March 3, 1991, Rodney King, then 25 years old, was driving with two passengers when LAPD officers attempted to pull him over for speeding. Instead of stopping, King attempted to evade the police, resulting in a high speed chase for about 8 miles over freeways and onto residential streets before he came to a stop. A neighborhood resident with a video camera filmed much of what followed, and images of Rodney King, a black man, being beaten by cops, would be replayed on the news countless times in the following months. However the film did not catch the initial moments after King is ordered from the car by waiting LAPD officers.

The beating ignited a firestorm of debate about police brutality and race in Los Angeles. Communities of color, especially black residents, had long charged that police brutality was commonplace, but ignored by the city. The nearly all white jury that eventually acquitted 3 officers on all charges on April 29th, 1992, believed King resisted arrest and that the police had acted reasonably to subdue him.

LA community leaders anticipated that an acquittal would enrage the city’s black and brown residents, many of whom not only suffered from an aggressively violent police department but also from poverty in a city with extreme wealth inequality. Racial tensions between communities were also running high. Just weeks after the Rodney King beating, a female Korean store owner, Soon Ja Du in South LA shot and killed a young black teenage girl Latasha Harlin, who she believed was stealing orange juice. The store owner did not serve jail time for the shooting, and anger over the incident simmered throughout the communities.

On April 29th 1992, as shock and outrage at the Rodney King verdict was expressed across LA, some 150 volunteers, largely from African American church and community groups, were dispatched to urge residents to remain non-violent. Reverend Cecil Murray, former pastor of the First African Methodist Church, told the Huffington Post that history may have been different if police had supported their efforts. However the LAPD was seemingly not prepared with a city-wide response. Then Police Chief Daryl Gates was later blamed for failing to issue a tactical alert once the verdict was read. On the first night of unrest, Gates appeared nonplussed and attended a fundraising dinner.
The violence accompanying the LA Uprising continued for days before calm was restored. Ultimately, over 60 people were killed and 2,300 injured as a result of the unrest, and over 1000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Calls for reconciliation between races and across communities were made immediately and efforts began to heal and rebuild.

Today we turn to one young man who was at the scene, as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles Riots, or as some prefer to call it, Rebellion.

GUEST: Monty X, a local activist, who was 18 years old, attending Compton College in April 1992

Mass Quebec Strike Continues with Hundreds of Thousands of Students in Streets

Hundreds of people have been arrested as college students across Quebec have been on strike for more than 10 weeks in protests against a 75% tuition increase over 5 years.

What started in late March with a quarter of a million people taking to the streets of Montreal in what may be Canada’s largest ever protest, has now grown to encompass environmentalists, high school students, social justice activists, and more. Now in its 11th week, nearly 200,000 college and university students remain on strike, mostly in the city of Montreal, but also at a smaller scale throughout the province of Quebec.

The Canadian government’s initial response was to ignore the protesters and claim that the tuition increase was unavoidable. But as the strike has continued, stronger tactics have caught the government’s attention. These include: barricading government buildings, shutting down the local subway through the use of smoke bombs, and throwing bricks onto the rail lines. Police have routinely used pepper spray, concussion grenades, and batons leading to many injuries and even one protester losing an eye when a flash bang exploded close to his face.

Students also targeted a development summit last week where Quebec’s Premier Jean Charest spoke. Charest told the press that his government has twice “extended our hand” to students for negotiations. He added, “I find it unacceptable that one student association… refuses to condemn violence.” This week, negotiations between the Education Minister Line Beauchamp, and representatives from some of the student groups involved in the strike, broke down. The 48 hour meeting began on Monday, but ended sooner than expected after Beauchamp pulled out saying that one of the student groups, CLASSE, had violated a 48 hour ceasefire on actions.

GUESTS: Léo Bureau-Blouin, President of the FECQ (Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec), Stefanie Claremont, a reporter with CKUT community radio in Montreal, who has been extensively covering the student strike, Lilian Radovac, writer, activist, and doctoral candidate in communication studies at McGill University where she recently led a successful campaign to unionize lecturers – she recently wrote about the Quebec strike.

Click here to listen to Stefanie Claremont’s reports on the student strike.

Stefanie also recommended CUTV, online at www.cutvmontreal.ca, and the Montreal Media Collective, online at www.mediacoop.ca.

Click here to Lilian Radovac’s article about the strike.

Sonali’s Subversive Thought for the Day:

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

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