Posted by TAG - July 29, 2009 | News

NEW YORK — July 27, 2009. Mayoral candidate Reverend Billy Talen (Green Party), performing at a campaign fundraiser held at the Highline Ballroom Monday night, praised the “fabulous 500 neighborhoods” of New York and their resilience in the face of evil — in the form of current mayor Michael Bloomberg.


Joan Baez at the Highline Ballroom
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Performing with the Reverend at his high energy election event were: “pirate-puppet rock” band Jollyship The Whiz-Bang, folk singer Greta Gaines, “chamber-pop” group Quitzow fronted by singer/songwriter/keyboardist Erica Quitzow, the Life After Shopping Choir — and the legendary Joan Baez.



Reverend Billy Talen, candidate for mayor
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Following performances by Whiz-Bang and Greta Gaines, Reverend Billy offered a sermon of hope — hope that the working people of New York can defeat mayoral control freak Michael Bloomberg and his monied backers. Talen described “preaching” change on the subways of New York and he praised the diversity and vibrancy of New York’s 500 neighborhoods. Clad in his vintage electric blue blazer, Talen looked sharp and energized – an image that reassured supporters who had been concerned after a recent illness necessitated a brief hospital stay for the preacher.



Topu Lyo
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

After the sermon, singer Erica Quitzow and her band performed six numbers from their new CD, Art College. NLN intern Nathaniel told this reporter, “I like this band.” An unusual combination of synth-pop and acoustic cello — played by Topu Lyo — create Quitzow’s signature sound.



Laura Newman
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Following Quitzow, former New Paltz mayor Jason West (Green Party) spoke briefly as did Yetta Kurland, candidate for the New York City Council (third district) who introduced Reverend Billy, “the urban legend”, and the Life After Shopping Gospel Choir. The Choir rocked the house, offering an inspired version of Pushback (“we gotta pushback Mayor Bloomberg,” Talen quipped) and a reworked version of “New York, New York” — “Start spreading the wealth…” The highlight of the performance, however, was soprano Laura Newman singing lead on “Back Away From The Walmart.” Newman’s vocals were smoking as she ripped up the song, prompting choir director James Solomon Benn to try and cool her off by fanning her with a towel.



The legendary Joan Baez
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Joan Baez took the stage last and performed “Joe Hill”, “Christmas In Washington”, “Old Gospel Ship” and “Jerusalem”. She was in good form and the sound quality was excellent. The evening at the Highline ended with an moving rendition of the civil rights/New Left standard: We Shall Overcome. Joined onstage by all of the evening’s performers, Baez sang the archetypal anthem with passion. Near the end of the finale, Life After Shopping Choir members James Solomon Benn and Gina Figueroa soloed before handing the microphone back to Baez — who smiled and waved at an audience that clearly appreciated a remarkable performance.

Click HERE to view photos and videos clips from the event, including We Shall Overcome…

To get involved in Rev Billy’s campaign visit www.voterevbilly.com

Posted by Fran Korotzer - July 26, 2009 | News


(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — On Friday, July 17, 75 people gathered at the Judson Memorial Church in N.Y.C. for a concert and discussion about Leonard Peltier, a man who has spent the past 33 years in prison despite the fact that very many people believe him to be innocent. Peltier will have a parole hearing on July 28.

The evening began with an opening prayer in the Lakota language from Tiokasin Ghosthorse and with music he played on his flute. There were musical performances from David Lippman, Grupo Raices, and David Amran. Rolando Victorio Mousaa read a letter that Pete Seeger wrote to the parole board on Peltier’s behalf — and then sang a song that Seeger had asked him to sing. Lady Penumbra and Ty Conscious recited poetry that Peltier wrote. There was an audiotape played of an interview with Eric Seitz, a parole attorney, and several videos were viewed: Leonard Crowdog on Peltier, No Boundaries by Peter Matthiesen, and Wounded Knee by Dennis Banks. Attorney Lynne Stewart spoke very favorably of the kind of person Peltier is. She said that Mumia and Leonard are held in prison to scare the rest of us out of fighting injustice. Peltier’s current attorney, Mike Kuzma, said that efforts to get files on the case from the FBI using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) were being stonewalled either by the FBI or the courts. There are 1143 pages of FBI documents on the case that remain undisclosed.


(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

The events that led to Peltier’s conviction began in the early 1970s when tensions broke out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota — between the then tribal chairman Dick Wilson, who was pro-assimilation, and the traditionalists. Wilson was accused of giving economic benefits to the assimilationists and leaving the others in poverty. The growing conflict prompted the traditionalists to band together with the American Indian Movement (AIM), a civil rights group committed to uniting all Native Peoples.

In 1973 local traditionalists and AIM occupied the Pine Ridge hamlet of Wounded Knee to protest the alleged abuses. The government responded by firing 250,000 rounds of ammunition into the area and killing two occupants. The occupation lasted 71 days and only ended after the government agreed to look into their complaints. This never happened and conditions on the reservation worsened. Wilson outlawed AIM and hired vigilantes who called themselves Guardians of the Oglala Nation (GOONs) to enforce his rules.


Singer/songwriter Dave Lippman
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

Between 1973 and 1976 anyone associated with AIM was apparently targeted for violence – the net result: over 60 traditionalists were murdered. Rather than stopping the violence, the FBI supplied the GOONs with weaponry and intelligence on AIM.

As the situation worsened the traditionalists asked AIM to return to the reservation. Leonard Peltier was one that answered the call. He and 12 others set up a camp on the Jumping Bull ranch at Pine Ridge.


Civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

On June 26, 1975 two FBI agents in unmarked cars pursued a red pick-up truck onto the ranch supposedly looking for someone who had gotten into a fight and stolen a pair of boots. Gunshots rang out. 150 FBI swat team members responded along with Bureau of Indian Affairs police and GOONs. When it was over 1 AIM member and 2 FBI agents lay dead.

Four people were indicted for the deaths of the FBI agents. The charges against one were dropped and 2 were found innocent on the grounds of self-defense. Peltier escaped to Canada where he was apprehended in February, 1976. The FBI presented a Canadian court with an affidavit from a woman named Myrtle Poor Bear who claimed she was Peltier’s girl friend and that she had witnessed him shooting the agents. But Poor Bear had never met Peltier, nor had she been present at the time of the shooting – a fact later confirmed by the US Prosecutor and by her subsequent declaration that she had given false testimony.


(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

There is considerable evidence that Leonard Peltier did not get a fair trial — and the prosecutor failed to produce a single witness that could identify him as the shooter. Still he was sentenced to 60 years in prison – two life sentences.

Jim Messerschmidt, who wrote “The Trial of Leonard Peltier”, said, “…the conviction of Peltier for the murder of two FBI agents was based on coerced testimony and the suppression and fabrication of evidence, and inconsistencies and contradictions in the government’s case. Since Peltier’s incarceration over thirty years ago people worldwide have demanded justice in this case as it has deservedly gained international attention. People around the world must now insist that a favorable parole decision be rendered on July 28th.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has joined the call for Peltier’s parole characterizing his continued incarceration as, “A sad commentary on the U.S. government and the humanitarian values Americans profess.”

View Photos/Videos From The Event…

* The history of this case was capsulated from information printed by the Leonard Peltier Defense and Offense Committee (LPDOC):
www.whoisleonardpeltier.info


Protesters and police negotiate Free Speech
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — Obama’s first public speech in New York City as president met with a typical New York response: a protest.

Anti-war activists held a sidewalk protest on Thursday, July 16 as President Obama spoke in New York City for the first time since his inauguration. The action happened opposite New York’s Hilton Hotel — during the final day of the NAACP centennial convention. It was organized by the Harlem Tenants Council and the World Can’t Wait.


For the country, a new administration, for protesters – the same issues
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

In a press release issued before the action the World Can’t Wait said that “Iraq and Afghanistan war opponents, war veterans and advocates for accountability and prosecution of the Bush era torture crimes will protest outside Barack Obama’s speech at the New York Hilton Thursday evening.”

The release quoted Debra Sweet, Director of The World Can’t Wait.


Debra Sweet protests outside the Hilton during Obama’s speech
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

“Barack Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan begun by George Bush. It’s a war of aggression, a supreme war crime. Most of the people killed by the US military there are civilians, with the U.S. justifying collateral damage and collective punishment, secret prisons, denial of due process and torture. It is wrong, unjust, illegitimate and immoral. And it won’t be otherwise, no matter who is president. There is no such thing as a ‘good’ war on terror. Obama widened the war to Pakistan where air strikes by unmanned aircraft are a regular occurrence which killed hundreds of civilians in Pakistan since October,” Sweet said.


Protesters urge Obama and Holder to release Mumia
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

View Photos/Videos From The Event…

Posted by Fran Korotzer - July 15, 2009 | News


Protesters outside the NAACP job fair
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

On Tuesday, July 14, in front of the Hilton Hotel in NYC members of the World Can’t Wait, youth from the Ya-Ya Network, and their allies had a press-conference and demonstration against military recruiters being invited to the career fair at the 100th Anniversary National Convention of the NAACP. The message was that young people need money for school and decent jobs, not the “opportunity” to be killed or kill others in two illegitimate occupations or to be associated with torture or abuse of detainees in Bagram or Guantanamo.

Over 1000 people, including Howard Zinn, Cindy Sheehan, and Michael Parenti, petitioned the NAACP asking them not to give military recruiters access to their young people. The NAACP rejected their plea.


War resister Matthis Chiroux is interviewed by FOX
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

While some demonstrators stayed outside the hotel with signs others went inside to talk to recruiters and hand out leaflets explaining why military recruiters should not be there.

There was about 56 exhibitors at the fair. This number includes recruiters from the Air Force, Air National Guard, Army, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Contract Management Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Missile Defense Agency, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), Navy Recruiting Command, Secret Service, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Marine Corps ‘Civilian Marines’. In addition, there were military contractors like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

Most attendees ignored the demonstraters while others were very supportive. And when demonstrators inside spoke to the non-military recruiters, telling them they were glad to see people offering jobs that wouldn’t endanger anyone’s life the recruiters were very appreciative.


Diversity?
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

When security at the career fair saw people handing out anti-military recruitment leaflets they were told that they had to leave immediately or the police would be called. One of the participants, Sara, put her leaflets away and said she wouldn’t hand them out anymore but was told she had to leave anyway. When she asked why she was being thrown out security just kept repeating “You have to leave”. No explanation was given. Afterwards she said that she felt something important had been accomplished. The point had been made and the presence of protesters was made known to the attendees — and the recruiters.

View Photos/Videos From The Event…


Protesters at the Egyptian Mission get a long distance call
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — Despite careful attention to all the necessary paperwork before leaving the U.S. the Viva Palestina-US medical aid convoy to Gaza met with constant bureaucratic obstruction when they arrived in Egypt. Once they completed one task a new one was imposed. This went on for 10 days. Phone calls to President Obama’s office and the State Department yielded no results. At one point convoy participants surrounded their buses holding hands and the bus drivers lost the keys to the buses so they couldn’t be moved.

On Monday evening, July 13, the International Action Center sent an e-mail to convoy supporters asking them to petition the Egyptian government and to meet on the next day at various Egyptian government offices in the U.S. In New York the meeting place was the Egyptian Mission to the United Nations on East 44th Street — supporters were told to assemble at 4 p.m.


(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

Minutes after we arrived there was a call to Sara Flounders of the IAC from the VPUC convoy.

MP George Galloway said that thanks to the heroic efforts of the convoy participants and the strong response from people all over, an agreement had been reached. He said that after being stuck in Cairo for 10 days, 200 Americans were headed for Gaza within the next 3 hours bringing life saving medicine. But there were conditions: the ambulances would be allowed to pass but the trucks would not. Galloway said that negotiations would continue on that issue. If they couldn’t bring the trucks into Gaza the convoy participants would unload the medical supplies and carry them into Gaza with their own hands. Also, they were not allowed to stay in Gaza for more than 24 hours because the Rafah crossing would be closed and they didn’t know when it would be re-opened. He added that in December there would be a joint U.S.A.-U.K. convoy to bring additional aid into Gaza in time for the first anniversary of the Israeli attack last year. Perhaps, he said, we can bring a good new year to Palestine.

Cynthia McKinney, making her third effort to get into Gaza with aid, got on the phone and said that nothing is impossible when there is human will.

Then NYC Councilmember Charles Barron spoke. He said, we will not be stopped from getting material aid to the children of Gaza. The American people are doing more than their government and on this day “the spirit of Palestine is free”. The deafening global silence has allowed Israel to turn Gaza into a death camp. Long live the people, the innocent children, and the strong women. “Long live the struggling people of Palestine.”


(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

Posted by Fran Korotzer - July 14, 2009 | News



A “Free Mumia” protester outside the NAACP convention
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — June 13, 2009. On Monday, about 80 people gathered outside the NAACP Convention at the Hilton Hotel to demand that the NAACP follow-up on a pledge made in 2004 to do everything within their power to save Mumia Abu-Jamal who has been on death row in Pennsylvania for the past 27 years. The situation is particularly urgent now because the US Supreme Court just refused to hear an appeal of his case. They are also demanding that Attorney General Eric Holder, who spoke at the convention today examine Mumia’s case because there was governmental misconduct during his trial. Contact was made with delegates inside the hotel and there was a feeling that the demands were heard and there was some support. About 50 demonstrators were still there at 8 PM when the activity was ending. People are upset and angry that Mumia is still sitting on death row. There are plans to return everyday until the convention ends on Thursday when Obama will speak.


(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

View Photos/Videos From The Event…

Posted by TAG - July 13, 2009 | News



Benjamin Jealous and Hazel Dukes
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — July 11, 2009. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is celebrating its 100th birthday this year — with a convention in the city where the association was born.

New York has been home to many civil rights and anti-war organizations. This weekend saw something unusual — an anti-war protest outside a civil rights convention. As the NAACP kicked off its convention and 100th birthday bash inside the Sixth Avenue Hilton, a group of protesters from the World Can’t Wait and the Granny Peace Brigade held a protest outside the hotel. Their issue: that NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Jealous had invited “Army Strong” recruiters to the convention.

The NYPD was also in position outside the hotel, providing security for the event. Officers told protesters they had to move into protest pens around the corner. Protesters stood their ground, arguing that they would be invisible on the side street and that they had a legal right to engage in First Amendment protected activity. Shortly after a legal observer from the National Lawyers Guild arrived on scene police relented.

As police and protesters negotiated, the NAACP held a press conference. Roslyn Brock, vice-chair of the NAACP’s board of directors introduced Leon Russell, a national board member from Clearwater, Florida. Russell gave an overview of the convention program which includes an appearance by President Barack Obama, making good on a campaign promise, and the issuing of an award to NAACP chairman and venerable civil rights activist Julian Bond.



Hazel Dukes, longtime civil rights activist
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Hazel Dukes, chair of the New York State chapter of the NAACP told the assembled journalists, “I hope that when you write this story that you tell the world that the NAACP is alive and well.” Dukes went on to say that she expected 2000 young people would be in attendance at the conference and that in some ways the convention was a passing of the torch. Dukes introduced the current president and CEO of the NAACP, saying that some of the older members of the association had decided to “take a chance” and give the reins of leadership to a “new baby, thirty-six years old, Benjamin Todd Jealous.”



Benjamin Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP at age 36
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Jealous spoke about the continued relevance of the association in the modern age noting that, despite an African-American president being in office, little has changed for working families.

“The distance between a child’s aspiration and family’s situation is the exact measurement of a parent’s frustration,” he said.

Referring to upcoming Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Jealous said that “We are on the eve of the first woman of color being appointed to the Supreme Court.” Jealous said that “We would like to see Senator [ Jeff ] Sessions tone down his rhetoric.”

“The Republican Party needs to lift up the legacy of their historical leader, of our historical inspiration, President Lincoln, and stop trying to resurrect the nonsense of Jefferson Davis,” Jealous added.



John Payton, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

John Payton, president of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, spoke about the historic role of the association in the civil rights struggle, asking the crowd, “What would we look like as a country if we had not had the NAACP?”

Payton provided a list of Supreme Court nominee Sotomayor’s impressive achievements, saying that if he didn’t mention that the judge was a woman and Puerto Rican, people would be united in saying “who better understands the needs of our country?”



Cesar Perales of LatinoJustice PRLDEF
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Cesar Perales of Latino Justice / Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund thanked the NAACP for all of its contributions to the Latino community. Perales echoed Payton’s positive assessment of Sotomayor and asked the NAACP faithful to stand behind her during the confirmation hearings.

In a question and answer segment following the prepared remarks an anti-war protester who had written a letter to Benjamin Jealous before the event asked the NAACP CEO why he had invited Army recruiters to the convention.

Jealous told the activist that the NAACP had worked to desegregate the military and would have the traditional dinner to honor those who served.

“While we do oppose this war we are very proud of their service,” he said.

When pressed on the issue by a second activist, Jealous denied that the Army was intending to recruit youth attending the convention, saying that “these are your words, not ours.” He declined to comment further saying that he had already answered the question.

The NAACP’s convention will run through Thursday, July 16. President Obama will address the final plenary on Thursday.

View Photos/Videos From The Event…


Iliana Correa asks Ben Jealous why he invited Army recruiters
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — On Saturday, July 11, the NAACP commenced its Centennial Celebration and Convention at the midtown New York Hilton. Thousands of NAACP members from all over the country descended to participate in a weeklong conference which will culminate with the final plenary speech given by President Barack Obama.

With a long history of support and protection for people of color, the NAACP plans to conduct important forums with speakers such as Attorney General, Eric Holder; Governor of New York State, David Paterson; Congressman Charles Rangel; and, the Reverend Al Sharpton.

On Saturday, to kick off the convention, there was a noon press conference held at the Hilton where the upcoming week’s events were outlined by President and CEO Benjamin Jealous, Julian Bond, Hazel Dukes and Roslyn Brock. Activists from World Can’t Wait, myself and Iliana Correa, attended.

The background to this whole story started about 3 months ago. After organizing protests at the Army Experience Center in NE Philadelphia, I received a list of about 100 stops that the “Army Strong” tour had planned over the summer. On that list was the NAACP Centennial Convention in New York City.


(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Those of you who understand the insidious nature of this Army recruiting tour can understand how some activists decided we had to challenge the NAACP, who came out against the war in Iraq, to disinvite military recruiters. Part of the convention is a 2 day job fair where over 2,000 mostly black and Latino youth are invited to participate, along with the general public.

An intern in the World Can’t Wait office asked a very simple question, “Why would the NAACP, who stands up for the rights of all people of color allow their youth to be enticed by the military to kill other people of color?” On June 17, 2009, she wrote a letter to the President and CEO, Benjamin Jealous, asking him just. This letter was also circulated to every New York State chapter location, all sent certified mail.

A few days later, the World Can’t Wait office received phone calls from various NAACP chapters expressing their dismay over the invitation of the recruiters to their upcoming convention. A dialogue within the members of the NAACP grew, and with that, it was decided that there was some interest for activists to further protest the attendance of the Army Strong tour, as well as other military recruiters invited to the job fair at the convention.


Protesters outside the NAACP convention
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

We attended the press conference on Saturday. Iliana identified herself as the writer of the June letter, and asked the leadership why, after defending the rights of all people of color, and denouncing the war in Iraq, they would entertain the “Army Strong” tour and military recruiters at the convention? Ben Jealous did not answer the question directly. He said that the NAACP has a long history with the military and supports veterans. I asked why in this time of less than truthful recruiting tactics being used to entice youth into the military, the NAACP would provide them access to youth. Mr. Jealous’ response was vague, but he said the military would not be dis-invited. Others on the stage at the press conference did not answer this question, although they looked concerned over it being asked.


Leafleting outside the convention
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Outside the convention, World Can’t Wait activists were talking with people attending. They got a mixed reception; some few people said they shouldn’t be there with the anti-war message; others said the NAACP had the right to have recruiters present, and that youth needed jobs. Some people were outraged to hear recruiters were being allowed to have access to youth under the authority of the NAACP, with some saying they wouldn’t let their children go into the military to fight these unjust wars. NAACP convention staff and security tried to keep us from talking to people, but we still got out very many flyers, especially to young people.

Over the next week New York activists will participate in several demonstrations outside the Hilton Hotel, on 6th Avenue between 53rd and 54th streets, demanding the recruiters be dis-invited. We will conduct our own press conference on Tuesday, July 14th starting at 11:30 AM, as the job fair opens at noon, and rally until 2 PM.

To sign the open letter to the NAACP below which will be read and delivered on Tuesday visit:
http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1170/t/3716/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1996

The job fair will be held Tuesday and Wednesday. Join us there! Say no to the military recruiters.

In addition, we plan to protest outside when Barack Obama speaks, against the expansion of the war on Afghanistan, the un-manned drone bombing of Pakistan, and calling for prosecution of those Bush era officials responsible for torture.

Contact World Can’t Wait @ 866 973 4463, worldcantwait.net for more information.


See the video: activists ask Ben Jealous about Army recruiters

Posted by Diane Krauthamer - July 9, 2009 | News


Workers at trendy retail chain Scoop NYC protest labor violations
(Photo: Diane Krauthamer / NLN)

NEW YORK — On Wednesday, July 8, fired workers from Scoop NYC gathered outside the trendy retail store in SoHo to protest against numerous labor violations. Handing out free scoops of ice cream and chanting “Scoop Scoop is unfair, all we want is our fair share!” the workers announced a lawsuit against the company, alleging racial discrimination and numerous labor violations.

The rally was organized by the Retail Action Project (RAP) — a community-labor partnership of the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) — and featured speakers from local political leaders to rank and file workers. Community, labor and religious groups also came to support the workers as well, including the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY), the New York Labor-Religion Coalition, St. Marks Church, the Lower East Side Girl’s Club, the Jewish Labor Committee, Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, half a dozen RWDSU locals, and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).


Union organizer Sadatu Mamah-Trawill
(Photo: Diane Krauthamer / NLN)

“The company took advantage of hardworking immigrants,” said Madou Kone, a former Scoop NYC security supervisor. “I’ve never felt so discriminated against in my life.”

The workers, who hail primarily from West Africa, are filing suit with the U.S. Department of Justice for unlawful firings, document abuse and citizenship status discrimination. According to RAP, in October 2008 Scoop NYC initiated an internal I-9 audit of the immigrant workers’ papers. Seven of these workers presented authorization as soon as requested, but Scoop NYC fired them, alleging that they failed to produce proper documentation. These workers are asking for approximately $200,000 in lost wages since the time of their termination.

Additionally, workers charge Scoop NYC with multiple labor violations, including failure to pay overtime.


Reverend Billy Talen
(Photo: Diane Krauthamer / NLN)

“For over six years, nearly every single stock and security worker would work over 60 hours per week and never receive a single penny in overtime pay,” said RAP organizer Pete Montalbano. Fifteen of these workers are accusing Scoop NYC management of neglecting to pay overtime and other benefits by deceptive measures by wrongfully attempting to misclassify these workers as managerial, thereby exempt from receiving overtime pay, as stipulated in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). These workers are asking for approximately $300,000 in back wages.

In addition to the discrimination and wage violations, workers also cite hazardous conditions in the store.

“Our break room was a boiler room in the basement,” said Kone. “This is where we had to eat our lunch, change our clothes and even sleep.” According to RAP, the break room had poor ventilation, electrical hazards such as exposed wires on the walls and ceilings, and frequent leaks and flooding of raw sewage from bathrooms and drainage systems.


RAP organizer Pete Montalbano (right)
(Photo: Diane Krauthamer / NLN)

“You can’t hide these workers in the basement any longer,” said Montalbano. “You need to make amends for what you’ve done, and we’re not going away until you do!”

For more information, visit http://www.retailactionproject.org.


View Photos/Videos From The Event…


An activist protests against indefinite solitary confinement
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

NEW YORK — On Tuesday, July 7, 2009, the World Can’t Wait and the Muslim Justice Initiative held a protest in support of 28-year-old Muslim American student, Syed Fahad Hashmi. Protesters gathered outside the United States District Court to demand due process for Mr. Hashmi who has been held without trial — for two years.

Syed Mehmood Ahmed Hashmi is a Pakistani American who was arrested in London, England on June 6, 2006 based on an indictment from the United States. The Bush administration charged Hashmi with providing material support to Al-Qaeda. Hashmi was extradited to the U.S. in May, 2007. Since that time, he has been held in the “Special Housing Unit” at Metropolitan Correction Center in Manhattan.


Protesters engage passers-by
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

For two years Hashmi has been living under the deplorable conditions of “pre-trial confinement”. He is being held in 23 hour lockdown — solitary confinement — under the so-called “Special Administrative Measures” (SAMS).

Former Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff, writing in November of 2008, said that Fahad, as he is known, “has been held at the Manhattan Correctional Center under conditions of confinement that are the very definition of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’

He has not been charged with being a member of Al Qaeda or for providing any money or resources to any terrorist. He is here — for a trial months away in 2009 — for letting a former acquaintance, Junaid Babar, stay for a couple of weeks in his London apartment, where Babar stored several ponchos, raincoats, and waterproof socks in a suitcase. (Hashmi was still in London after receiving a master’s degree from London Metropolitan University.)

Babar –not Hashmi — gave these socks and ponchos, it is alleged, to a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda.”


Debra Sweet of the World Can’t Wait is interviewed
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

On Tuesday, the World Can’t Wait and Muslims For Justice demonstrated outside the U.S. District Court in the hope that the Kafkaesque conditions of confinement under which Fahad is presently being held will one day give way to the rule of law.