Shawn Brant Released from Custody!

June 27


After 62 days in jail, Shawn Brant has finally been released from custody! Shawn was being held on trumped up charges alleging he had assaulted a white local businessman during recent road blockades aimed at stopping a development planned on stolen Mohawk land. The blockades succeeded in convincing the developer to back off.

Charges arose when eager OPP officers learned that Shawn had challenged two racist locals (the LaLondes) when they attacked a small group of mainly Mohawk women and children. LaLonde flew into a rage when he was turned back at the roadblock, wielding a bat at protesters, and hitting a woman with his car. Although Mohawks called 911 the police never laid any charges against Lalonde.

Instead they focused in on Shawn, who had come upon the scene and demanded that the attackers leave. Shawn was arrested and held in pre-trial custody. His trial began yesterday when he was released as part of a plea bargain.

The trial was proceeding extremely well and a plea was brokered. Shawn pled guilty to possession of a dangerous weapon (his fishing spear) and breaching the conditions of his previous release. He was cleared of the assault charge. If the trial had proceeded he may well have been found innocent of all charges–however, given that the courts can’t be trusted to do justice and Shawn has already served over two months away from his children including his infant son he decided to take the plea.

Shawn was released on time served. The Crown will not seek to revoke his previous bail. He will also serve 12 months probation on terms similar to his already existing conditions.

Resistance continues in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, despite the repression. The quarry reclamation is holding strong and people continue to meet and organize around the Longhouse, the traditional site of Mohawk governance.


Israel approves prisoner swap with Hezbollah

CBC News

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has won approval from his cabinet for a prisoner swap with the Lebanese group Hezbollah that is expected to be carried out within a matter of days.

Cabinet voted in favour of the proposal Sunday to free five Hezbollah fighters and return the bodies of 10 other fighters in exchange for two Israeli soldiers.

Earlier in the day, Olmert recommended the agreement pass, urging cabinet ministers to bring “this painful affair to an end, even at the painful price it requires.”

There has been no official announcement on what happened to the two Israel soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whose abduction sparked the 34-day war between Israel Hezbollah fighters in 2006.

However, media reports on Sunday quoted an unidentified Israel official as saying that Olmert told cabinet he believed the two were no longer alive.

The highest-profile Lebanese prisoner to be released would be Samir Kantar, imprisoned for a 1979 attack etched in the Israeli psyche as one of the cruellest in the nation’s history.

The attack by Kantar and three others took place in the northern coastal town of Nahariya near the border with Lebanon.

Witnesses said Kantar shot Danny Haran on the beach in front of his four-year-old daughter, then smashed her skull against a rock with his rifle butt, killing her, too.

Earlier, the attackers stormed the family’s apartment, where Haran’s wife, Smadar, hid in a crawl space and accidentally smothered her two-year-old daughter in a frantic attempt to keep her quiet.

Picket action in Vancouver for John Graham, indigenous prisoner of war

Infoshop News

On June 26, 2008, the one year anniversary of indigenous warrior John Graham’s imprisonment in Vancouver and the 33 year anniversary of the Incident at Oglala, about 20 people, Native and non-Native, picketed and gave out leaflets in solidarity outside of the Ocean Plaza office tower in downtown Vancouver where, at least until recently, the Cash Minerals uranium mining company had its operations office. Banners were held up reading, “Free John Graham, Indigenous Prisoner of War”, “No Cash for Cash Minerals, Free John Graham” and “Uranium Kills, Stop Mining Native Land”. After picketing outside the office tower, the solidarity group moved up the block to smudge and say prayers for John Graham, Leonard Peltier, the people and the land outside the United States consulate. The group also informed each other of Leonard Peltier’s urgent need for a diabetes test kit.

Picket action in Vancouver for John Graham, indigenous prisoner of war

Coast Salish Territory, Vancouver, Canada

On June 26, 2008, the one year anniversary of indigenous warrior John Graham’s imprisonment in Vancouver and the 33 year anniversary of the Incident at Oglala, about 20 people, Native and non-Native, picketed and gave out leaflets in solidarity outside of the Ocean Plaza office tower in downtown Vancouver where, at least until recently, the Cash Minerals uranium mining company had its operations office. Banners were held up reading, “Free John Graham, Indigenous Prisoner of War”, “No Cash for Cash Minerals, Free John Graham” and “Uranium Kills, Stop Mining Native Land”. After picketing outside the office tower, the solidarity group moved up the block to smudge and say prayers for John Graham, Leonard Peltier, the people and the land outside the United States consulate. The group also informed each other of Leonard Peltier’s urgent need for a diabetes test kit.

John Graham is a warrior of the Tutchone Nation whose territory is located in the Yukon (northwestern Canada). Cash Minerals is interested in uranium exploration right next to Graham’s home community in the Yukon. The company is also already exploring for uranium in the border area between the territory of the Northern Tutchone and Gwichʼin peoples in the Yukon. Cash Minerals has had a registered office in Toronto and an operations office in Vancouver for years. There are indications they may have moved their operations office from Vancouver to Toronto. Either way, one person among their Board of Directors, Basil Botha, apparently still lives in Vancouver, while one of their advisers, Suraj Ahuja, now lives in North Vancouver (according to Cash Minerals website).

John Graham fought against uranium mining on Native land in Saskatchewan and British Columbia in the 1980s. In the 70s, Graham helped with security for the American Indian Movement (AIM) at the Pine Ridge reservation on the Lakota people’s territory in South Dakota.

Now Graham is charged by the FBI with killing his friend, comrade and fellow AIM warrior, Anna Mae Pictou Aquash of the Mi’kmaq people. When Aquash’s body was found at Pine Ridge in 1976 the FBI tried to cover-up her true identity and her cause of death, burying her as a Jane Doe and claiming she died of exposure. Her family and friends demanded a second autopsy that showed she had in fact been shot. At the time, an FBI-backed death squad who called themselves the GOONs had killed some 60 AIM members and traditional Lakotas on the reserve. During this time the Lakota’s sacred Black Hills were sold off to the US government for resource exploitation, with a major interest in uranium. Much water, animals and land in Lakota territory is now contaminated with uranium waste.

John Graham is currently in prison awaiting trial in South Dakota after being extradited from Vancouver in December of 2007. He was arrested in Vancouver in December of 2003 and spent 40 days in prison until he was released under house arrest to face his extradition hearings. He was taken back to prison on June 26, 2007, right before the Supreme Court of British Columbia rejected his extradition appeal.

On June 26, 1975, the FBI and their GOON squad attacked an AIM camp at Oglala, Pine Ridge, South Dakota, leading to the deaths of AIM warrior Joe Stuntz Killsright and two FBI agents. Peltier was then fraudulently extradited from Vancouver back to the United States and framed for killing the agents. One of the cops involved in the attack on the AIM camp on June 26, 1975, was Robert Ecoffey. This same cop testified against Peltier at his trial and this same cop in the 1990s became one of the lead so-called “investigators” of Aquash’s murder, seeking to frame-up John Graham and further cover-up the role of police and FBI agents in her death.

John Graham said in the 1980s:

“As a people, our philosophy is respect for all living things. We cannot agree that our resources are being ripped off from us at home. We’re stuck with the waste, we’re contaminated with the waste, and here our resources are going to kill other people in other countries. We cannot agree with that. Our own people and our way of life just does not agree with that.

Today, the uranium mining in Northern Saskatchewan, when our resources, when 99% of all this uranium is leaving the country to come to European countries or go to the United States to build up their nuclear arms. That is in total conflict with our way of life because the Indian way of life is respect and to coexist with everything that is natural.”

Our Freedom (Free John Graham and Leonard Peltier):

Graham Defense

Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee

Leonard Peltier Statement for 2008 Oglala Commemoration:

Leonard Peltier Update June 26th, 2008 – Medical Alert:

Teen might still be alive if not for series of failures: prison investigator

Candian Press

OTTAWA — The death of a teenager who fought mental demons for months without help in segregation was as preventable as it was tragic, says Canada’s prison watchdog.

Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers made 16 recommendations Tuesday to avoid such misery in future – calls to action that have fallen on deaf federal ears before.

Instead of crucial health support, Ashley Smith received mounting prison time for outbursts that ultimately led to her apparent suicide at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ont., he said.

“This troubling case illustrates what can go wrong in federal corrections.

“I’ve concluded that if different decisions had been taken, and if different routes had been pursued, there’s every reason to believe she’d still be alive today.”

Smith died last Oct. 19 after she was moved 17 times – including nine transfers between federal institutions in less than a year. An autopsy showed she died of “self-initiated” asphyxiation, although police have said she did not hang herself.

Sapers submitted his final report Tuesday to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day. It’s not being fully released while criminal charges proceed.

Three guards and a supervisor were fired and charged with criminal negligence causing death. A fifth corrections worker is set to go on trial for assault relating to a separate incident in Saskatchewan six months before Smith died.

Four more staff at the Kitchener prison were suspended without pay for 60 days, and two senior managers were fired last month.

Still, Sapers hinted at his findings in a news release and an interview with The Canadian Press.

“My report discusses a litany of serious failures leading up to the tragic and, I believe, preventable death of Ms. Smith,” he said.

Her doomed journey through the courts, correctional and health-care systems started at the age of 13 in Moncton, N.B., as an unruly kid who racked up minor offences. They included throwing crab apples at a postal worker who was rumoured to deliver welfare cheques late.

Once behind bars, Smith’s downward mental spiral and aggressive behaviour drew punishment and deprivation instead of treatment, Sapers says.

“It is clear that none of these systems adequately responded to her needs.”

Her legal odyssey ultimately ended in psychological breakdown and death in a cell where she slept on a concrete slab and was often heavily shackled.

Sapers’ recommendations include upholding correctional policy and respect for the law in federal prisons, along with improvements to medical emergency response and more oversight of inmate isolation.

Segregation should be reviewed at regular intervals by independent adjudicators, he says, echoing calls made 12 years ago in the landmark Arbour commission report on women in prison.

Ottawa is not compelled to act on his non-binding advice.

“As ombudsman, what troubles me the most is that many of the failures observed in my investigation into the death of Ms. Smith had been the subject of previous recommendations by my office.”

A spokeswoman for Day said the minister would not comment while matters are before the courts.

Jason Godin, Ontario regional president for the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, says front-line workers submitted a formal report in 2005 on dealing with high-risk offenders like Smith.

“What she needed was intensive support and programming, and she needed to be in a special handling unit,” he said. Those recommendations were “virtually ignored.”

Godin blames managers in the federally sentenced women’s sector for allowing “too much politics” to get in the way of badly needed services. Seven dedicated staff who did their best in untenable conditions were used as scapegoats, he says.

“We’re also victims in this situation. We’re victims of a system that didn’t take responsibility in ensuring that the proper policies, procedures and the proper environment was put into place to save Ashley Smith’s life.

“Our condolences go to the Smith family.”

Fighting Hell in Angola: Prison Activism Yesterday and Today

At the heart of Louisiana’s prison system sits the Louisiana State Prison at Angola, a former slave plantation where by some accounts little has changed in the last several hundred years. Its vast fields and hills often surprise visitors with their size — 18,000 acres that include a golf course (for use by prison staff and some guests), a radio station and a massive farming operation that produces staples like soybeans, wheat and the traditional Southern crops of cotton and sugarcane.

by Jordan Flaherty, The Indypendant

Angola has been made notorious by such books and films as Dead Man Walking and The Farm: Life at Angola, as well as its long-running biannual prison rodeo, and The Angolite, a prisoner-written magazine published within its walls.

Most recently, congressional and media attention has focused on the prison’s system of keeping certain inmates in solitary confinement for decades, especially two of Angola’s best-known residents — Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox. Woodfox, Wallace and the now-released Robert King Wilkerson are the Angola 3, prison activists interned in solitary as punishment for their political activities.

A Modern Plantation

Norris Henderson, co-director of Safe Streets Strong Communities, a grassroots criminal justice organization in New Orleans, spent 20 years in Angola — a relatively short time in a prison where 85 percent of its 5,100 prisoners are expected to die behind its walls. “Six hundred folks been there over 25 years,” he explains. “Lots of these guys been there over 35 years. Think about that: a population that’s been there since the ’70s. Once you’re in this place, it’s almost like you ain’t going nowhere, that barring some miracle, you’re going to die there.”

Prisoners at Angola still do the same work that enslaved Africans did there when it was a slave plantation. “Angola is a plantation,” Henderson explains. “Eighteen thousand acres of choice farmland. Even to this day, you could have machinery that can do all that work, but you still have prisoners doing it instead.” Not only do prisoners at Angola toil at the same work as enslaved Africans did hundreds of years ago, many of the white guards come from families that have lived on the grounds since the plantation days.

Nathaniel Anderson, a current inmate at Angola who has served nearly 30 years of a lifetime sentence, agrees, “People on the outside should know that Angola is still a plantation with every type and kind of slave conceivable.”

Prison Organizing

In 1971, the Black Panther Party was seen as a threat to this country’s power structure, both in the inner cities, and even in the prisons. At Orleans Parish Prison, the New Orleans city jail, the entire jail population refused to cooperate in solidarity with New Orleans Panthers who were on trial.

“I was in the jail at the time of their trial,” Henderson tells me. “The power that came from those guys in the jail, the camaraderie … Word went out through the jail, because no one thought the Panthers were going to get a fair trial. We decided to do something. We said, ‘the least we can do is to say the day they are going to court, no one is going to court.’”

The action was successful and inspired prisoners to do more. “People saw what happened and said, ‘we shut down the whole system that day.’ That taught the guys that if we stick together we can accomplish a whole lot of things.”

Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox were members of the Black Panther Party. From their first day inside, they were organizing among the other prisoners, conducting political education sessions and mobilizing for civil disobedience to improve conditions.

“They were part of the Panther movement,” said Henderson, who, like many prisoners during that time, was introduced to organizing by Black Panthers in prison and later became a leader of prison activism during his time at Angola. The efforts of King, Woodfox, Wallace and other Panthers in prison were vital to bringing improvements in conditions, stopping sexual assault, and building alliances among different groups of prisoners.

“This was at the height of the Black Power movement; we were understanding that we all got each other. In the nighttime there would be open talk, guys in the jail talking, giving history lessons, discussing why we find ourselves in the situation we find ourselves,” said Henderson. “They started educating folks around how we could treat each other. The Nation of Islam was growing in the prison at the same time. You had these different folk bringing knowledge. You had folks were hustlers that then were listening and learning. Everybody was coming into consciousness.”

In March 1972, not long after they began organizing for reform from within Angola, Wallace and Woodfox were accused of killing a guard and eventually convicted by allwhite juries. The men have maintained their innocence and have mountains of evidence on their side. Bloody fingerprints at the scene of the crime do not match their prints. Witnesses against them have recanted, while witnesses with nothing to gain have testified that they were nowhere near the crime. Even the widow of the slain guard has spoken out on their behalf. Most recently, their case has received attention from U.S. Representative John Conyers (D-MI), head of the House Judiciary Committee, and Cedric Richmond, judiciary chairman in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Robert King Wilkerson, like many inmates, joined the Black Panther Party while already imprisoned at Orleans Parish Prison. He was transferred to Angola and immediately placed in solitary confinement (known at Angola as Closed Cell Restriction or CCR) — confined alone in his cell with no human contact for 23 hours a day. He later found out he had been transferred to solitary because he was accused of an attack he could not have committed — it had happened at Angola before he had been moved there. Wilkerson would eventually be sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a fellow prisoner, despite scant evidence and after his first conviction was thrown out due to the judge’s decision to allow his mouth to be ducttaped during the proceedings.

Wilkerson remained in solitary for nearly 29 years, until a ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted him the right to a new trial. Instead of trying him, however, the prosecutors offered him a plea deal, and he was released from prison in 2001. Since his release, Wilkerson has been a tireless advocate for his friends still incarcerated. “I’m free of Angola,” he often says, “but Angola will never be free of me.”

Solidarity Behind Bars

Twenty five percent of the world’s prison population is imprisoned in this country. More than 7 million people are in U.S. jails, on probation, or on parole, and African Americans are incarcerated at nearly ten times the rate of whites. The United States has the largest incarcerated population in the world, and Louisiana has the largest in the United States. If Louisiana were a country, it would have by far the world’s largest percentage of its population incarcerated, at well over 1 out of every 100 people in the state in prison.

The efforts of the Angola 3 and other politically conscious prisoners represented a fundamental challenge to this system. The organizing of Wallace, Woodfox and Wilkerson, though cut short by their forced move to solitary, has had an effect that continues to this day.

Prison activism, and support for activists behind bars, can be tremendously powerful, says Henderson. “In the early ’70s people started realizing we’re all in this situation together. First, at Angola, we pushed for a reform to get a law library. That was one of the first conditions to change. Then we got the library; guys became aware of what their rights were. We started to push to improve the quality of food and to get better medical care. Once they started pushing the envelope, a whole bunch of things started to change. Angola was real violent then, you had inmate violence and rape. … But we educated ourselves. Eventually, you had guys in prison proposing legislation.”

Working for criminal justice is work that benefits us all, says Henderson. “Most folks in prison are going to come out of prison,” he states. “We should invest in the quality of that person. We should start investing in the redemption of people.”

After decades of efforts by their lawyers and by activists, Wallace and Woodfox were moved into a maximum-security dorm in March 2008. Legal experts have said their confinement is the longest time anyone in the United States has spent in solitary.

But the abuse does not end with them. “There are hundreds more guys who have been in (solitary) a long time too,” Henderson said. “This is like the first step in a thousand-mile journey.”

Arrests for War Resistance Increase Again

We can never forget that everything that Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal,’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did was ‘illegal.’ It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany, but I am sure that if I lived in Germany during that time I would have comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal… we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

There have been over 15,000 arrests for resistance to war since 2002. There were large numbers right after the run up to and invasion of Iraq. Recently, arrests have begun climbing again. Though arrests are a small part of anti-war organizing, their rise is an indicator of increasing resistance.

The information comes from the Nuclear Resister, a newsletter that has been reporting detailed arrest information on peace activists and other social justice campaigns since 1980. Felice and Jack Cohen-Joppa, publishers of the Nuclear Resister, document arrests by name and date based on information collected from newspapers across the country and from defense lawyers and peace activists.

Since 2002, the Nuclear Resister has documented anti-war arrests for protestors each year:

2002 – 1800 arrests
2003 – 6072 arrests
2004 – 2440 arrests
2005 – 975 arrests
2006 – 950 arrests
2007 – 2272 arrests
2008 – 810 as of May 1

“Arrests for resistance to war are far more widespread geographically than most people think,” according to Cohen-Joppa of Nuclear Resister. “Yes, there are many arrests in DC and traditional big cities of anti-war activity — like San Francisco, NYC and Chicago, but there have also been anti-war arrests in Albany, Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bangor, Bath, Bend, Brentwood, Burlington, Campbell, Cedar Rapids, Chapel Hill, Charlottesville, Chicopee, Colorado Springs, Denver, Des Moines, East Hampton, Erie, Eugene, Eureka, Fairbanks, Fairport, Fort Bragg, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Great Dismal Swamp, Hammond, Huntsville, Joliet, Juneau, Kennebunkport, La Crosse, Los Angeles, Madison, Manchester, Memphis, Newark, Northbrook, Olympia, Omaha, Pittsburgh, Portland, Portsmouth, Providence, Richmond, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Fe, Smithfield, Springfield, St. Louis, St. Paul, Staten Island, Superior, Syracuse, Tacoma, Toledo, Tucson, Tulsa, Vandenberg, Virginia
Beach, Wausau, Wheaton and Wilmington just to name a few.”

“In fact,” notes Cohen-Joppa, “in 2007, anti-war arrests were reported during 250 distinct events in 105 cities in 35 states and the District of Columbia. So far in 2008, arrests have been reported at 65 events in 43 different cities in 19 states and D.C.”

An example of the scope of resistance can be found in the Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence. They joined with other major peace groups like CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, and the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance in early 2007 to launch The Occupation Project, a campaign of resistance aimed at ending the Iraq War. Theirs was a campaign of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience to end funding for the U.S. war in and occupation of Iraq. The Occupation Project resulted in over 320 arrests in spring of 2007 in the offices of 39 U.S. Representatives and Senators in 25 states.

“I am energized by the dedication of so many conscientious activists across the country willing to take the risks of peace and speak truth to power,” says Max Obuszewski of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance. “We have been unsuccessful so far in stopping this awful war and occupation of Iraq, but it is not for the lack of direct action. We are taking on the greatest empire in world history, but we will continue to act.”

“There are large numbers of new people being arrested,” notes Cohen-Joppa, “most typically saying, ‘I have tried everything else from writing to voting, but I have to do more to stop this war.’ The profile of people arrested includes high school teenagers to senior citizens, mostly people under 30 and over 50.”

Anti-war arrests are significantly under-reported by mainstream media. For example, around the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq in March 2008, most news stories wrote that there were 150 to 200 arrests nationwide. Cohen-Joppa and Nuclear Resister report there were over double that number, well over 400, many outside the cities where regular media traditionally look.

Though arrests typically drop off in election years, as people’s hopes are raised that a new President or Congress will make a difference and stop the war, this year looks like arrests are likely to continue to rise. In part, that will depend on the attitude of authorities in Denver and Minneapolis, where the political conventions are being held. In 2004, New York City authorities overreacted so much to protestors at the Republican convention that they arrested historic numbers of protestors — including hundreds who had no intention to risk arrest. If Senator McCain is elected, anti-war resistance activities are expected to rise much higher.

Why do people risk arrest in their resistance to war? Perhaps Daniel Berrigan, on trial for resistance to the Vietnam War, said it best:

The time is past when good people may be silent
when obedience
can segregate us from public risk
when the poor can die without defense.
How many indeed must die
before our voices are heard
how many must be tortured dislocated
starved maddened?
How long must the world=s resources
be raped in the service of legalized murder?
When at what point will you say no to this war?
We have chosen to say
with the gift of our liberty
if necessary our lives:
the violence stops here.
The death stops here.
The suppression of truth stops here.
This war stops here.

Though war resistance activities and arrests have not stopped the war in Iraq, those struggling for peace remain committed. “None of us know what will happen if we continue to work for peace and human rights,” says a handmade poster of one involved in the resistance, “But we all know what will happen if we don’t.”


Mohawk Grandmothers Attacked by Canadian Border Services Agency Guards

This past Saturday, June 14, 2008, around 2:30pm, a vehicle with two outspoken Kanion’ke:haka (Mohawk) activists, writers and grandmothers was stopped at Akwesasne while crossing into “Canada” from the “USA”. Akwesasne is a Kanion’ke:haka Indigenous community that includes parts of so-called Ontario, Quebec and New York, and community members routinely cross between “states” and “provinces”.

by No One Is Illegal-Montreal

Katenies lives in Akwesasne, with her mother and near her daughter and three grandchildren, who reside on both sides of the “border”. Kahentinehta, also a grandmother, is from Kahnawake. Katenies and Kahentinehta publish Mohawk Nation News and were delegates to the Indigenous Peoples Border Summit in San Xavier, Tohono O’odham Nation (Arizona) in November 2007.

Katenies was targeted for arrest by Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) guards on an outstanding warrant for allegedly “running the border” in 2003, and offenses resulting from her refusal to appear in court and validate the colonial justice system. Katenies has maintained since 2003 that border officials and the Canadian colonial courts have no jurisdiction over Kanion’ke:haka people or land.

[Background information to Katenies’ struggle against border and court officials is linked HERE.]

This past Saturday, Katenies reiterated that she does not recognize the authority of the CBSA over Kanion’ke:haka land, as she has always done. She was then brutally arrested, with at least four male guards forcing her face down onto the ground, handcuffing her, and taking her into custody, where she remained for three days.

CBSA guards then demanded that Kahentinehta, 68, leave the car she was driving. She refused, and she too was brutally overpowered by at least four male CBSA guards and handcuffed tightly. Kahentinehta suffered a heart attack while handcuffed. However, due to the timely intervention of her brother – a local lawyer who was crossing the border at that time — she was eventually taken to the local hospital in Cornwall, Ontario by ambulance, where she has spent the last three days in the Critical Care Unit. Her condition is stable and she will be transferred to a hospital in Ottawa for further treatment and possible surgery.

The CBSA had originally indicated that they would charge Kahentinehta with various offenses, but those charges were never brought forward, most likely to help cover-up the brutal way in which she and Katenies were arrested in the first place.

Meanwhile, Katenies was jailed after her brutal arrest, and was only able to have a bail hearing, at the Superior Court in Cornwall this past Monday (June 16, 2008).

Supporters from Six Nations, Sharbot Lake as well as Akwesasne attended court to be witnesses to Katenies’ continued defiance of Canada’s colonial courts. Several of the elders from the Akwesasne community referenced the bridge blockades undertaken in the 1960s and 70s to assert free movement of Indigenous peoples at the border. They consider Katenies’ current stance as part of the same ongoing and long-term struggle for sovereignty.

At the hearing, the federal Crown lawyer objected to Katenies’ release on bail. A senior investigator with the CBSA who seems to have launched a vendetta against Katenies since 2003, testified for the Crown. He outlined the various warrants and court dates in the case, and Katenies’ continual and consistent refusal to recognize the authority of the colonial court system, or the jurisdiction of the CBSA over the border.

In the words of the CBSA investigator, Katenies “has nothing but contempt for the Canadian judicial system.” The investigator, who has lived and worked at the Cornwall border crossing for two decades, was forced to admit that it’s “not uncommon” for Mohawks to cite the lack of jurisdiction directly to border officials, although he called Katenies “an extreme case.”

Both Katenies and her mother, Nancy Davis, addressed the court. Nancy Davis refused to tell the court whether she lived in the “Ontario” or “Quebec” part of Akwesasne, stating clearly that she “lives on Kanion’ke:haka territory” and is a citizen of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. She remarked with a smile: “I’m the only one who has authority over my daughter.”

Under cross-examination by the Crown lawyer, Nancy Davis stated: “We feel we have the right to travel where we want, to go where we want. [The border] is an imaginary line for Americans and Canadians, not Mohawks.”

Asked outright if she recognized the authority of the court, Nancy Davis replied simply: “No.”

Katenies also addressed the court, while reiterating from the start that she did not recognize its jurisdiction, and pointedly refused to accept all charges, declining to have them read to her. When the court clerk tried to swear her in, Katenies stated: “I can only tell what I know.”

Katenies emphasized that she continues to demand that the courts address the jurisdiction question; that is, under what authority can colonial Canadian courts, agencies or officials claim to have jurisdiction over sovereign Mohawks. She stated forcefully: “I’m a passionate person, I’m a mother and I’m a grandmother. But, I’ve had no respect. No one has looked at what I’ve put forward.”

Katenies already served the court with a Motion to Dismiss, and invoked the jurisdiction question, back on January 18, 2007, almost one-and-a-half years ago. Her complete motion is linked HERE.

Under cross-examination, Katenies was asked by the Crown lawyer if she would accept paying a cash bond; she replied: “That would be extortion at this point because jurisdiction has not been dealt with.” She added: “I don’t see why you should incarcerate me and beat me into submission without answering my question.”

She threw the accusation of contempt back at the Crown, stating: “It is [your law] and your constitution that you keep talking about. Why do you continue to ignore me and our people, who have our own land and constitution?”

In his final submissions, the Crown argued that Katenies “has nothing but complete disdain for the laws of these courts.” He also made the somewhat obvious point: “Quite frankly, your worship, both mother and daughter don’t recognize our jurisdiction.”

He asked the court to keep Katenies in custody, adding: “She’s not interested in appearing in court and she doesn’t recognize us.”

Nonetheless, the presiding Justice-of-the-Peace, Ms. Leblanc, decided to release Katenies under some basic conditions: that Katenies reside with her mother and notify the Akwesasne police of any change of address (Katenies has lived with her mother for the past 8 years, since the passing of her father): that her mother post a surety (ie. a $1000 bond without any deposit); and that Katenies appear in court or designate counsel to appear in court for her. Her next court date was set for July 14, 2008 at 9am at Cornwall’s Superior Court.

Both Kahentinehta and Katenies, despite the brutal attack on them by CBSA officials, maintain their defiance and vow to continue to challenge the jurisdiction of the courts and border officials.

— reported by Nazila & Jaggi, members of No One Is Illegal-Montreal
info: or 514-848-7583

Major legal victory for Angola 3

Party for Socialism and Liberation

In a major victory for the long-imprisoned Angola 3, Federal Magistrate Judge Christine Nolan recommended on June 10 that Albert Woodfox’s conviction be overturned.


Herman and Albert

Woodfox, along with Herman Wallace, has been imprisoned for more than 36 years—nearly the entire time in solitary confinement—inside the infamous Louisiana State Prison at Angola. The third member of the Angola 3, Robert King Wilkerson, was released in 2001 after serving 29 years.

Judge Nolan called for overturning Woodfox’s conviction due to incompetent counsel by his ex-lawyer. In his 1998 retrial, Woodfox was again convicted in a proceeding widely viewed as a travesty of justice. His attorney failed to object to the admission of testimony by witnesses who had died since his original 1972 trial for the killing of prison guard Brent Miller. Woodfox’s lawyer also allowed the prosecutor to testify about the chief prosecution witness’s credibility in the retrial.

Nolan’s recommendation must be accepted or rejected by U.S. District Judge James Brady. In most cases, federal judges ratify the recommendations of magistrates. However, given the highly political character of the case, Angola 3 supporters are hopeful but know that there is no such assurance. Last year, a state commissioner’s recommendation that Herman Wallace’s conviction be overturned was rejected by a state judge. That decision is under appeal.

Angola 3 Defense Committee spokesperson Marina Drummer said of the June 10 recommendation: “The recent magistrate’s ruling in Albert’s case is a landmark decision that we believe will lead to his freedom. And surely, Herman will not be far behind. That would mean that one sad chapter in Louisiana’s miserable, racist injustice system would finally come to an end for these two men and their families. But there are thousands of other unjustly convicted men and women who continue to languish in the prisons of Louisiana and across the country.”

Political activists caught in racist frame-up

In 1971, Woodfox and Wallace helped found a chapter of the Black Panther Party inside Angola, the most notorious prison in the United States. A wave of rebellion was engulfing the U.S. prison system at the time—from Attica in New York to San Quentin in California.

Angola penitentiary is a complex of buildings amid huge sugarcane, cotton and soybean fields run on the slave labor of prisoners. Nearly all the prisoners were and are African American.

Angola became the site of the first official prison chapter of the Black Panther Party. The Black Panthers grew rapidly in strength, and attempted to put an end to the extreme corruption and brutality of the “trustee system.” Under this system, selected prisoners were made “trustees,” given favors and guns, and empowered to rule over and exploit the majority of inmates. Rape of young prisoners was rampant. In the dormitories where the Black Panther Party was strong, these practices were stopped. This was viewed as a threat by the authorities.

The all-white prison administration, headed by the notorious Warden Murray Henderson, responded to an upsurge of prisoner activism with extreme repression. In the years that followed, many bodies of murdered prisoners were exhumed from the surrounding swamps.

In April 1972, guard Miller was stabbed to death. Only one person, inmate Hezekiah Brown, witnessed the killing. At first Brown said he could not identify anyone involved because their faces had been covered.

After several days of pressure, however, Brown changed his story and identified four men: Albert Woodfox, Herman Wallace, Gilbert Montegut and Chester Jackson. They became known as the Angola 4.

Montegut, a revolutionary activist like Woodfox and Wallace, was later acquitted. Jackson struck a deal and testified for the prosecution. Years later, evidence emerged that both Hezekiah Brown and Chester Jackson were paid off with sentence reductions and material incentives.

Putting the Black Panther Party on trial

After winning a new trial, Woodfox was indicted anew in 1993. One of the grand jurors was Anne Butler, an author and the wife of Warden Henderson. Butler had written a book, “Dying to Tell,” about Angola prison. The first chapter was on the death of guard Miller, based on the state’s version that Woodfox and Wallace were guilty.

Instead of calling witnesses, the assistant district attorney in charge of presenting the case to the grand jury requested that Butler “explain” the case. The new indictment was then handed up. Judge Bruce Bennett turned down a motion by Woodfox’s lawyers to throw the case out based on outrageous grand juror prejudice.

Woodfox’s 1998 trial was before a classic kangaroo court. As Dr. Gail Shaw, a long-time supporter of the Angola 3, said at the time, “the state’s case was really based on putting the Black Panther Party on trial.”

The prosecution introduced statements from Hezekiah Brown and former warden Henderson, which were allowed into testimony unchallenged by the defense attorneys. In an intimidating show of force on the final day of the trial, prison guards, state police and local sheriffs—all in full-dress uniforms—packed the courtroom, emphasizing to the small-town jury of Amite their expectation of a guilty verdict. Their expectations, predictably, were met.

Outside the Amite courthouse in 1998, Geronimo ji Jaga, who himself had just been released the previous year after spending 27 years in behind bars in California on frame-up charges, testified about the courage of Woodfox and Wallace: “They endured and survived over all these years with very little help from the outside. They are the kind of unsung heroes who we must come forward to help because they never asked for anything from us in exchange for what they have suffered.”

Ten years later, the Angola 3 are still victims of indescribable justice. What has changed over the past decade is that their case has become internationally known, thanks to a tremendous campaign waged by the Angola 3 Defense Committee and supporters in the United States and around the world.

Now, the challenge is to win the final victory and set Woodfox and Wallace free.

The author attended the 1998 retrial of Albert Woodfox in Amite, Louisiana. For more information about the struggle of the Angola 3, go to