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Louisiana Democracy Project, Inc.

InTouch

Feb.  2000 Edition                  

 February 17, 2000

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Louisiana Democracy Project, Inc. is proud to be a part of SCN and help in informing the public on issues that impact their lives by helping to distribute the Southern States Action Report which is a service of the Southern Catalyst Network.   SCN is a regional alliance devoted to combating prejudice and bigotry in the Deep South. To submit news items regarding progressive work, organizational programs, news of interest, or hate-group activity in your area, contact cfleide@mailhost.tcs.tulane.edu**********************************

REGIONAL CALENDAR OF EVENTS**

March 3-11

SELMA TO MONTGOMERY MARCH - The National Voting Rights Museum and Institute and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference invite you to join the "Bridge Crossing Jubilee 2000", a commemoration of the 35th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery March. Beginning March 3-5 there will be a 3-day festival of history, music and art, followed by the march reenactment on March 5-11th. For more information, contact the National Voting Rights Museum at 334-418-0800.

 

March 10-11

CENTER FOR NEW COMMUNITY (CNC) - CNC will sponsor the 2000 Building Democracy Conference in Chicago, Illinois. The Center is a faith based organization that organizes against hatred and extremism in the Midwest. For more information on the training conference, contact 708-848-0319 or log on at http://www.newcomm.org.

 

 

May 14th

MILLION MOM MARCH -

The Million Mom March will take place on Mothers Day (May 14th) in Washington, D.C. The rally is dedicated to the mission of educating children and the public about the life-threatening danger of guns. Mothers from across the nation will encourage the passage of legislation that includes required waiting periods and background checks, strict licensing of all handguns, safety locks for all handguns, and limited purchases of handguns. To participate in the rally, contact 888-989-MOMS, or log on at www.millionmommarch.com.

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NEWS BRIEFS

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FBI Reopens Investigation into Slayings of Civil Rights Workers

The FBI has reopened an investigation into the nations most famous killings of the civil rights era. FBI spokesman Mike Turner announced that the agency has turned over 40,000 pages of its files to Attorney General Mike Moore in the investigation of the 1964 deaths of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney.

"We, along with District Attorney Ken Turner (of Philadelphia), are reviewing the files and the case to explore the possibility of pursuing state charges against those involved," said Special Assistant Attorney General Lee Martin. " That is something we are actively doing at this time."

Last year the Clarion-Ledger reported one-time Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers admitted in a secret interview that he "obstructed justice" in the case and was "quite delighted to be convicted and have the main instigator of the entire affair walk out of the courtroom a free man. Everybody including the trial judge and the prosecutors and everybody else knows that that happened."

Bowers never gave the mans name, but two confessions by Klansmen reveal the man who coordinated the killings of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney was Edgar Ray Killen of Union.

      In 1967, a District Court convicted Bowers and six other men of the conspiracy, but Killen walked free when jurors deadlocked on a verdict for him. No one was ever charged with murder. (Clarion-Ledger, February 8, 2000)

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Eight States Seek to Post Ten Commandments in Public

Legislatures in eight states are considering bills that promote the posting of the Ten Commandments in public, a phenomenon that was sparked by the controversial actions of Alabama Judge Roy Moore who posted the Commandments in his courtroom five years ago. At that time, the American Civil Liberties Union sued Judge Moore for violating the separation of church and state by his policy of hanging the Commandments as a plaque and beginning his courtroom sessions with a Christian prayer. The controversy became further inflamed when then Governor Fob James threatened to call out the Alabama National Guard and state troopers to prevent the removal of the commandments from Moores courtroom.

The current flurry of Ten Commandments legislation is a direct response to last years massacre in Colorado at Columbine High School, according to Rev. Barry Lynn, execut. director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Late last year, the Family Research Council, a conservative organization, announced its "Hang Ten" project, intended to encourage government officials to endorse and publicly post the Decalogue.

"If posting the Ten Commandments and having a movement of silent prayer is the best people can come up with to solve the problem of violence in schools, one wonders if they wouldnt be better off in another job and out of the legislature," said Lynn. "This isnt much to offer. Ive never known of a posted religious message saving a soul or stopping a crime."

According to Americans United, a Washington-based group that closely tracks church/state-related legislation, three of eight state bills have made progress.

Ten Commandment legislation is currently being sponsored in Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, and South Dakota. In Congress, Alabama Representative Robert Aderholt has pushed legislation that would give states the right to display the Ten Commandments in public places.

(Times Picayune, February 8, 2000)

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Duke Not Seeking Reelection to St. Tammany GOP Post

Saying hes too busy with his new white rights group to stay on the committee, white supremacist politician David Duke announced his resignation from the St. Tammany 19-ember Republican Execut. Committee. Duke has served three years on that committee which sets policies and makes election recommendations in St. Tammany Parish.

His departure was good news to mainstream Republicans. "Were going to unify all the Republican organizations in St. Tammany Parish together and were going to fly our banner proudly, " said Bob Ellis of Covington, who was elected unopposed to a seat on the committee. "His baggage was not acceptable to most Republicans."

Duke recently formed the National Organization for European-American Rights (NO FEAR), a national white rights group, and is currently working on a second book.

(Southwest Daily News, January 30, 2000)

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15,000 Rally to Support School Prayer

In Monroe, Louisiana, 15,000 area residents gathered at West Monroe High School to show their support for the Ouachita Parish School Boards recent decision to break the law by authorizing a Christian student group to have a weekly prayer over the school intercom system, violating the Constitutionally held notion of the separation of church and state.

The school system has been sued by a student who claims that the schools policy violated constitutional protections against the establishment of religion. The School Board, in opposition to the suit, has fought to uphold their position in favor of school prayer.

(Monroe Free Press, February 5, 2000)

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HUD Secretary Announces New Campaign Against Housing Discrimination

US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo announced a public awareness campaign to help people fight back against housing discrimination.

HUD is stepping up efforts to make people aware of their rights under the Fair Housing Act, which bars housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, family status and national origin. It covers the sale, rental, financing and advertising of almost all housing in the nation.

"Housing discrimination is outrageous, intolerable, and illegal, but many people arent aware they can fight back if they become victims," Cuomo said. "Our message to everyone targeted by housing discrimination is simple: HUD is on your side. We will help you to exercise your legal right to live anywhere you can afford and to tear down barriers of discrimination.  "Cuomo said HUDs new public awareness campaign will distribute thousands of booklets around the country, and deliver public service announcements to radio and TV stations about the Fair Housing Act. It will also provide information available on the Internet about housing discrimination and steps that can be taken in discriminatory incidents. Complaints can be filed with HUD by calling 1-8000-669-9777, or on the Internet at www.hud.gov/hdiscrim.htm.

(Alexandria News Weekly, January 20, 2000)

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 Local Louisiana NAACP Chapter Calls for Probe into Police Brutality

The Morgan City, Louisiana branch of the NAACP has asked the United States Justice Department to investigate allegations of police beating of a black man by five white police officers. In a letter, the NAACP said that the organization believes that Ty Williams civil rights were violated during his arrest when he was beaten by police officers.

Two Patterson officers have been cleared by a grand jury of any criminal wrongdoing. However, three sheriffs deputies were charged with one count of simple battery.

Louisiana Weekly, January 31, 2000)

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FBI Investigates Crossburning in Louisiana Town

FBI investigators are questioning four Sarepta, Louisiana suspects in a recent cross burning investigation. The four youths, ranging in age from 16 to 20-years-old allegedly set fire to a cross in the yard of Elizabeth Boyler, a white woman, as a practical joke.

"The three boys that were real cooperative say this was just a joke," Said Webster sheriff detective Phillip Krouse.

The four youths have been charged by the parish with criminal mischief misdemeanor. If convicted the charge carries a jail term of up to six months and a fine of $500.

(Shreveport Times, February 5, 2000)

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ACTIVIST JOB BOARD

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The Southern Regional Council (SRC), one of the oldest interracial civil rights organizations in the South, has an activist positions available.

The SRC was founded in 1919 to promote racial justice, protect democratic rights and broaden civic participation in the South. SRC strives to empower communities to make lasting improvements on the issues of racial justice and equality.     The following position is currently available:

Development Director:

The successful candidate will be committed to SRC mission, have three years experience in managerial or professional position, possess strong written and verbal skills, and be comfortable asking for money.

If you are interested in this position, please submit your resume and cover letter to Southern Regional Council, 133 Carnegie Way, Suite 900, Atlanta, Georgia 30303-1024, or call Shelley Serdahely at (404) 522-8764 ext. 28. Cover letters should: explain why you are interested in the position; convince the readers that you are a critical thinker; share how you know you are comfortable asking for money; and make an argument about why you are the right person for the job. Application deadline is March 2, 2000

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VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY

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PEACE CARAVAN TO CHIAPAS IN NEW ORLEANS ON MARCH 24 - HELP WANTED!

The IFCO / Pastors for Peace Caravan for Peace and Reconciliation to Chiapas will be stopping in New Orleans on March 24, 2000. The Peace Caravan project us designed as an opportunity to raise awareness about Chiapas, and raise humanitarian aid, and purchase food stuffs for indigenous communities in Chiapas.

The New Orleans Caravan effort needs the following help: volunteers to publicizing and raise material support for the Caravan, organizing press releases, organizing accommodations, and raising funds. If you are interested in joining the effort, or joining the Caravan to Chiapas, please contact Corrine Kohut, National Coordinator IFCO/ Pastors for Peace 773-271-4817.

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============================= INCENTIVES OF CAPTIVE LABOR

This week the prison population of the United States broke  a record. TWO MILLION people are now behind bars in this  country, quadrupling the inmate population in the past  twenty years. We now have more people behind bars than  China. States now spend more on prisons than on  universities. http://www.tompaine.com/features/2000/02/14/2.html

More surprising ... tens of thousands of these prisoners now  work for private corporations, creating what some critics  have begun to call, THE PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX. Workers  who spent decades fighting for health-care benefits,  vacations and holidays now have to compete for jobs with  convicts in prison.

You think corporations pay those  convicts full benefits? Of course, not. That's one reason  corporations like prison labor: it saves them money. And,  oh, yes, THEY NEVER GO ON STRIKE. http://www.tompaine.com/features/2000/02/14/3.html  

Meanwhile, in California voters in March are being asked to  approve Prop 21, which would vastly expand the already-  burgeoning prison population. A kid convicted of spray  painting a park bench could be found guilty of a felony and  sentenced to a year in prison. And who's behind this  proposition? Some believe it's corporations which stand to  benefit from a captive prison labor force:   http://tompaine.com/features/2000/02/14/index.html

 

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