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Fishers From Texas to Alabama of All Races Answer Vietnamese-American Fishers’ Call in Weeklong Protest to Mark 5th Anniversary of BP Oil, Toxic Dispersant, & Continuing Injustice

16 Apr

Come Fish Off Our Boat - AL (1) final april 10

UPDATED AL SHRIMPER PAUL NELSON LETTER HAND-DELIVERED TO GOV. BENTLEY’S OFFICE AFTER COMMEMORATION OF 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF SELMA TO MONTGOMERY MARCH: “I had planned to attend the events commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery but my health won’t let me….Since Katrina and BP I know of 100 Impoverished People who Died, Most Without Medical Insurance…”

2 Mar

The following are excerpts from Alabama 3rd generation shrimper and community leader Paul Nelson’s “Open Letter to Gov. Bentley”; Mr. Nelson, age 63 has blood clots in his legs and is condemned by the governor’s refusal to allow Alabamian’s the available Medicaid expansion:

“The photograph below, published in December 2010, includes 21 people from my community celebrating a victorious grass roots trip to DC. Five of them, 24% of them, died in the next five years. The photo was part of our invitation to the December 2010 ribbon cutting of our $200,000 solar panel donated to us by the Elon Musk Foundation for our grassroots Fair Katrina and BP advocacy and on recommendation of President Barack Obama’s administration: http://science.time.com/2010/12/27/oil-spill-providing-clean-energy-for-the-victims-of-deepwater-horizon/ &#8230😉 “

south bay communities alliance meeting sept. 2009

OPEN LETTER TO ALABAMA GOVERNOR ROBERT BENTLEY HAND-DELIVERED AFTER COMMEMORATION OF 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF SELMA to MONTGOMERY MARCH 

Dear Mr. Governor,                                                                                             March 13, 2015

I had planned to attend the events commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery but my health won’t let me. This march was key to our country’s greatest social movement – the Modern Civil Rights Movement – that ended American Apartheid which had denied the voting rights of African Americans since the 1901 Alabama Constitution. As Bailey Thompson documented in “Century of shame: Alabama’s 1901 constitution: a series of editorials published in the Mobile Register October 15-22, 2000” the Civil Rights Movement also restored the right to vote for poor and working class whites in Alabama who had lost their right to vote through the poll tax.

I am writing to let you know that I could soon be one of the next victims of your policy of refusing to accept the federal funding for Medicaid expansion for people who do not earn enough to qualify for insurance under the Affordable Health Care Act – one of our state’s greatest problems today that hits people of all color. Three of us die every two days in Alabama because we have no health insurance.

I have diabetes, and blood clots in my legs which could break loose and kill me any day. I cannot work and have applied for disability benefits back in September (see attached letter from a local fisher and seafood worker coop recommending my application).

My claim is still pending. My family can no longer afford to loan me money for my insulin. I will run out of insulin this week and will be facing a fate worse than death – unless a blod clot takes me quickly. Like my childhood friend Darlene Branch – who after a four year battle to get her Katrina home repaired – could no longer afford her insulin: she first lost her feet, which put her in a wheel chair; then both her legs became infected and had to be cut at the knees. Her body became septic and she anguished bedridden for many days until finally the infection shut down her heart. Darlene was tortured with constant pain and hideous amputations for one full year. Her fate was indeed one that was worse than death, which finally came to her as a blessing.

Its seems too easy politically to play politics with the lives of people rather than accept your duty to support their humanity Mr. Governor. For example, how does your argument that Medicaid expansion ‘will make us too dependent on government’ fit with Darlene Branch’s suffering? Or that which is in store for me?

Since Katrina and BP I know of 100 impoverished people who Died, Most Without Medical
Insurance, Many Whose Homes Were Destroyed by Katrina
and Their Health Destroyed by BP’s Oil and Dispersant

I hope that this letter will help you, Mr. Governor, to perform your humane duty. For I know about 100 people, mostly poor and without insurance, who have died in the small commercial fishing communities on the Mobile County Alabama Gulf Coast since Katrina, the BP oil and its dispersant came into our bays and bayous. Many of them I have already written about, including this quote that made it to a United Nations human rights meeting in Geneva Switzerland in 2010:

“Among the 1,020 families who are eligible for federal home rebuilding assistance [in Mobile County Alabama], 39% earn less than $15,000 a year; 31% care for elderly and disabled family members; and 58% have children who are cared for by single parents or grandparents (https://alafishcoop.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/paul-nelsons-feb-11-letter-to-obama1.pdf, Feb. 26, 2009; and). Brochure for Neglected, Displaced Katrina Victims in the City and County of Mobile, AL, March 2009”

“’Coden has never seen so many people pass away in such a short time. My neighbor Delaphine Barber, age 75 lost her home and died from a heart attack about a year after Katrina. Other neighbors who died, trying to survive in the [formaldehyde emitting] FEMA campers, and hoping to see their homes rebuilt were: Sally Dismukes, age 72, died of a heart attack; Tommy Barbour age 56, died of lung cancer; Michael Goleman, age 36 father of two teenage daughters, suicide; Shirley Clark, age 65, complications from a staph infection; Randy Hall, age 45, lung cancer; Nancy Maples, age 57. Most have spouses or children who are still hoping to see their family homes rebuilt. My mother Hilda Nelson died after living in a FEMA camper over a year and hoping for assistance to rebuild the family that never came….’”— Paul Nelson (http://www.ehumanrights.org/docs/AEHR-GSHRWG-Katrina-Aftermath-Joint-Report-USA.pdf, Dec. 3, 2010)

This document submitted to the United Nations had to be limited to ten pages, and the social justice groups from Louisiana were kind enough to give us one full page, and only part of my quotation of my family and friends who died. Here is the rest of my statement:

“Three people listed on the edge of the San Sous, Alabama Human Casualty Map [see “Brochure on Displaced Katrina Victims in the City and County of Mobile, Alabama, by Paul Nelon,” March 2009] lived a few miles from my neighborhood. Tommy Barbour lived a couple of miles north in Bayou La Batre. He was a longtime leader of the oystermen’s union, and a long time close friend. I helped Tommy realize his last request – to have his FEMA camper door widened so that the Providence Hospital bed could fit through the camper door. He wanted to live his last days at“ ome” with his wife Becky – who has yet to receive any assistance to rebuild their home of some 20 years.

“Randy Hall, lived a few miles east of Sans Souci, in Alabama Port, not far from Mobile Bay. He was also a labor leader among our commercial fishermen and a strong voice against coastal pollution”.

“Larry Roberts, was in his late 50’s and lived on rental property in Bayou La Batre. He was a seaman, and cherished life even after his second leg was amputated. He was an outspoken member of the African American community and publicly criticized FEMA on our local CBS TV affiliate for leaving an eviction notice on his FEMA camper while he was in Providence Hospital in Mobile. His last speech was as a patient at Providence in October 2006. He was escorted in his wheel chair to an Alabama Arise meeting in the hospital’s conference room. He addressed the crowd of 40 people with a 15 minute passionate talk about the injustice faced by Katrina survivors from Texas to Alabama.”

“Three more Sans Souci neighbors died during the 2008 holidays, including Jim Fuller, the first President of South Bay Communities Alliance. Margaret Singleton, who has depended on a blue tarp since Katrina, in her often wet and cold trailer, died last month of respiratory failure. Another recent victim, Mary Alice Lee, lived at the corner of Kennedy Road and Railroad Street for decades – next to the wetland where the City of Bayou La Batre plans to build a condo- friendly waste treatment plant with about 25% of the total of Katrina CDBG Funds received from HUD for our state.”

“All four homes and the barn on Kennedy Road were blown away by Katrina. One can see their foundations by zooming in on the above map. Mary Alice’s son and daughter in law, Tommy and Faye Lee lived in a home halfway down the road. Their homeowners insurance only paid $1200 on their home, with a market value of $80,000. They had completely paid it off years ago. They have been waiting on a Katrina CDBG since they lined up with 4,000 others in January 2007. They have lived for several months in a shed so their three children, granddaughter and daughter in law could have more room in the FEMA camper. Two of their teenage sons have moved out, quit high school and gone to work. An Op-Ed featuring their tragedy, and the inequitable distribution of Katrina relief in the state — including quotes from a protest letter composed by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – was printed during the summer of 2007 in three major Alabama Sunday papers.” [http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/20070715/NEWS/707150343]

“Tommy Lee invited Junior Sprinkle, his childhood buddy, to live on his mother’s property last year, where they built a small shack near the ruins of Mary Alice Lee’s home. Mr. Sprinkle, homeless and ill, had lived with family in Bayou La Batre until it was demolished by the city. Junior Sprinkle was found dead this past Christmas morning. Recently, several of us tried to visit again with Mrs. Ngieu Nguyen of Bayou La Batre. We learned from a family friend that she is now in the hospital and very ill. Mrs. N Nguyen’s caseworker says her “dying wish” is for help “… to repair the house for her daughter to live there after she’s is gone because she wants to keep her house and the land
together.” [ Mrs Nguyen in her final days returned home to die in Vietnam, in late 2008].
(Open Letter to President Barack Obama, Feb. 11, 2009, by Paul Nelson, attached)

With unjust Katrina policies still taking its toll we had to then face the BP’s debacle in April 2005. One of the first to perish just a few weeks after the toxic substance flowed into our bayous and bays was my friend Becky Barbour, whose husband had already died of lung cancer in their formaldehyde laced FEMA camper. She had to wage a fight to keep the former Bayou La Batre Mayor from forcing her off her land into “Safe Harbor”. (See National Public Radio report: “The Gulf Coast’s Recovery: Uneven And Uneasy”, August 27, 2009 2:10 AM ET http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112257238).

Fishers who I personally knew were, and who took part in the BP so-called cleanup included: Christopher LaForce, who died of a heart attack at age 37 while shrimping on his boat, in 2011, Christopher had lost his home to Katrina damage, 5 years later he tirelessly spoke out against the unjust BP and local corrupt policies (see Remembering Christopher LaForce/Bridge the Gulf; and
Eulogy Given at Christopher LaForce’s Graveside Service; Tony Bosarge died at age 60 in early 2014 of cancer; Clarence Springle died of cancer, at age 50, also early last year; Doyal Davis died last February 2014 at age 45 of a stress-related stroke.

Other Bayou folks that I knew, not fishers but we were all exposed to the BP oil, dispersant, and the poverty it brought were: Annette Higgins 63 years old with diabetes couldn’t get her medicine and died in early 2014. The next day her husband Anthony Higgins died despondent, they were married at age 15. My stepson, who lived with me, Kevin Craft July 10, 2014 of a stroke, he was only 28 years old. My business partner Ervin Royal who worked with me scrapping metal also died last summer of cancer at age 70, of a sudden cancer that took him out in a few weeks. Lily Harden died last year at age 69, also of cancer. Jackie Marino, an oil boat captain, died at age 59 died of cancer March of last yr.

Katrina survivors were again faced with stress and homelessness in September, 2011 – those who had been promised rent to own and rent by income at Safe Harbor saw their “rents” shoot up 250% the day after the former mayor was indicted – See: http://bridgethegulfproject.org/blog/2011/mayor-faces-charges-stealing-housing-development-its-residents-face-eviction.

One of the first “Safe Harbor” grandmothers to be thrown our of Safe Harbor was Ilene Roberson. She and her husband were life long shrimpers and basically raised three wonderful children on their boat. Interviewed in a front page Mobile Press article Ilene asserted that she had not even been served an eviction notice. (See: “Safe Harbor residents in Bayou La Batre contend woman’s eviction violates moratorium”, Mobile Press, June 28, 2012).

Management banned Ms. Roberson from even visiting her grandchildren at Safe Harbor, as they have done to all who are evicted from this neighborhood – built with $18 million of our federal funds. Ilene Roberson died sick and semi-homeless in January 2014, her deteriorated body was found in a dilapidated trailer.

In the photograph below, published in December 2010 includes 21 people from my community celebrating a victorious grass roots trip to DC. Five of them, 24% of them, died in the next five years. The photo was part of our invitation to the December 2010 ribbon cutting of our $200,000 solar panel donated to us by the Elon Musk Foundation for our grassroots Fair Katrina and BP advocacy (See: http://science.time.com/2010/12/27/oil-spill-providing-clean-energy-for-the-victims-of-deepwater-horizon/; and http://www.solarcity.com/newsroom/press/elon-musk-and-solarcity-donate-solar-power-project-coastal-response-center-alabama)

Those who are no longer with us and pictured below are: Ernest Montgomery (first on left back row) who courageously fought the racist corruption of former Mayor Stan Wright and died of a stress related stroke in April 2013 (see: http://unionindialogue.org/2013/05/30/is-jesus-on-your-mind-meeting-ernest-montgomery/, by John Wessel-McCoy; Ervin Royal, back row third from right, my life long friend and co-worker who died in July 2014 of a sudden cancer; James Presley, life-long shrimper, front row fifth from right, died summer 2014 of a stroke; Stella Mae Smith, died of a heart attack in her Katrian rebuilt home – one of only two people in the African American community of Bayou La Batre to get her home rebuilt because “Stella Mae Smith knew not go to Bayou La Batre’s City Hall asking for rebuilding assistance: she went there and demanded it as her human right. And through sheer forcefulness and will power she got a rebuilt home! (See: “We Have Lost One of Our Own, Stella Mae Smith, Bridge the Gulf Project); and Darlene Branch, who struggles I described above.

“South Bay Communities Alliance Meeting Oct. 2009. members reported on their Oct. ‘09 bus trip to DC to grassroots lobby for the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act, and for over 300 of their neighbors who qualified for HUD Katrina rebuilding CDBG, as well as the hundreds more who missed the one week deadline to apply. Congress has yet to live up to their promise for these qualified applicants – who are mostly impoverished single parents and families with disabled members.

A few days after the DC Citizen Lobby trip, homes were rebuilt for Darlene Branch (at the right end of the front row) and Phyllis Johnson(front row, 4 seats from the right). Mrs. Branch has been disabled all her life. Mrs. Johnson, single mother raising two children on a custodian salary of $12.000/yr. These life time bayou residents are among the thousands on Alabama’s Gulf Coast who had never even heard about the HUD Katrina CDBGs, and whose homes were never accounted in any government needs assessment.” (From South Bay and Gulf Coast Fund/Rockefeller Philanthropies Dec. 2010 flyer inviting people to ribbon cutting ceremony of $200,000 solar panel which was donated to South Bay for its fair Katrina and fair BP recovery policies.)

The stories above cover less than half of my 100 family, friends, and neighbors who have fallen since Katrian and BP’s inhuman “recovery policies”. Added to their sufferings have been your decision Mr. Governor to keep them from having their human right to health insurance. I hope their stories help you reconsider. I plan to continue send you more in hopes that they will not have died in vain.

Sincerely,

Paul Nelson,
Coden, Alabama

Attachments

Alabama Multi-Cultural Fisher & Seafood Worker-Owned Coop recommending Paul Nelson’s disability application Sept. 14, 2014

Jan. 2009 letter from Mobile Co Katrina CDBG Grant Adm Jan 2009 thanking Zack Carter and Paul Nelson for advocacy, also providing data and riveting stories of families needing rebuilding

Paul Nelson’s Feb. 11 2009 letter to President Barack Obama

Brochure for Neglected, Displaced Katrina Victims in the City and County of Mobile, AL, by Paul Nelson March 2009

September 2010 Letter from Mobile County Katrina CDBG Administrator commending Paul Nelson’s critical role in getting 301 homes repaired or rebuilt

Poverty Truth Commission Issues First Rulings “From the Bench” and Hand-Delivers Initial Recommendations to Bayou La Batre City Hall and Its Property Management at “Safe Harbor”

12 Nov

A complete report is coming soon on two days of testimony Nov. 7 & 8  — including the Truth Commission harvesting crabs with  Alabama Multi-Cultural Fisher and Seafood Worker-Owned Coop founding member Siriporn  Hall in the Gulf of Mexico’s Mississippi Sound.  Ms. Hall, who is pictured below, told the Truth Commission during the Nov. 7 crabbing trip on her boat: ; ‘Before the BP oil I could catch 1500 lbs. of crabs a day, now I get only 150 lbs. every two days, barely enough to make a living’ (video interview and photos will be published soon).

 

siriporn%20hall

The above photo of Siriporn Hall and the crab traps she makes, was taken by Solar City just prior to the ribbon cutting event celebrating the solar panel they and the Musk foundation donated to the Coden Coastal Response Center, December 2010. The donation was made, by recommendation of a member of  President Obama’s administration, in recognition of the advocacy of fishers like Ms. Hall and her allies who fought  — and still struggle — for just BP recovery and just Katrina recovery policies.  http://science.time.com/2010/12/27/oil-spill-providing-clean-energy-for-the-victims-of-deepwater-horizon/

The same compelling photograph of Siriporn Hall was featured a few weeks later in a post regarding an interview with Ms. Hall and other founding Alabama Multi-Cultural Fisher and Seafood Worker-Owned Coop members in the San Francisco Pacifica Radio program Apex Express, “a radio show by and about Asian and Pacific Islander communities.” The fishers describe the pay they receive for their catch as “slave wages” and that their coop will end this oppression: “Listen: Alabama fishermen featured on radio show”  http://bridgethegulfproject.org/blog/2012/listen-alabama-fishermen-featured-radio-show

Poverty Truth Commission to be Held in Bayou La Batre Nov. 7 & 8

5 Nov

jpeg photo of Ernie Seaman and Barbara Robbins protesting hate graffitti on truck that transports seafood for Al  Fisheries Coop

the prayer protes

Above Photo

5th Generation Fisher Ernie Seaman from Bayou La Batre, disabled and one of hundreds forced out of “Safe Harbor”, now homeless, and Seafood Worker Barbara Robbins also from Bayou La Batre, shown here protesting hate graffiti scrawled on Alabama Multi-Cultural Fishers coop’s truck before the Safe Harbor Rally May 22, 2014. Their sign also thanks Saving OurSelves and Alabama NAACP for their support. Link to complete: Poster for Nov. 8 Truth Commission nov. 6 version pdf Excerpts from Poverty Truth Commission Poster ———————————————– POVERTY TRUTH COMMISSION TO BEGIN AT BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala. NOV. 8TH, 2014 Hearing: 9: 00a.m. – 10:30 am. Greater New Hope Baptist Church, 8420 E. Alba Street, Bayou La Batre Press Conferences: at Bayou La Batre City Hall 11:00 am.; Property Management’s Office at Safe Harbor Park 11:30 am. Social Justice Seafood Bash at Greater New Hope Baptist Church 12 Noon – 1:30 pm. Truth Commission to Investigate Denial of Human Rights for thousands of people on Alabama’s Gulf Coast who are faced with a myriad of sickening unjust governmental policies that have followed in the wakes of Hurricane Katrina and BP oil and toxic dispersant; compounded by the Governor’s refusal to expand Medicaid – “Evidence demonstrated that, on the average, three people die every two days in Alabama because of the failure to extend Medicaid” (SavingOurSelves)

Solidarity-with-SafeHarbor-residents

First photo: Francis Golden of New York’s Cooper Square Community Land Trust, hoisted by fellow residents, called Safe Harbor residents in Alabama to show solidarity. Second photo: Safe Harbor children demonstrate at Bayou La Batre City Council meeting July 2013 after rents shot to 300% in two years. Landon, age 4, pictured in front row, said: “Please don’t make me leave my pretty blue house.” The little girl pictured next to Landon was evicted the next day. Landon was forced to leave April 30.

Witnesses Include: Barbara Robbins, forced out of Safe Harbor after she became disabled. ” “We [in Snows Quarter, the African American community of Bayou La Batre] feel Safe Harbor folks’ pain directly. Out of some 100 homes, only four of us received meaningful assistance. Since Katrina many of our homes flood after a hard rain and we can’t even flush the toilet. My living room floor is rotting. I am afraid my 90 year old mother will fall through any day….Last year we voted in a new mayor, but still we have found no justice, in Snows Quarter or Safe Harbor. But together we will find it!” SOS Rallies in Support of Displaced Bayou La Batre Mothers at Safe Harbor Truth Commissioners include: Frank Barragan, Organizer Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice; Rev. Jennifer Bailey, AME, Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellow, Social Justice Advocate and Storyteller, Nashville, TN.; Willie Baptist, Poverty Initiative Scholar-in-Residence, and Coordinator of the Poverty Scholars Program, Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary; Honorable Johnny Ford, Mayor of the City of Tuskegee, Alabama; Karenna Gore, Director of the Union Forum, Union Theological Seminary, NYC, and represented her father campaigning on the Gulf Coast in the 2000 Presidential campaign; Barbara Howard, Saving Oursleves: Movement for Justice and Democracy, President NAACP Chapter Tuskegee-Macon County, Alabama; Ashley Hufnagel, artist and organizer, Oak Hill Center for Education & Culture, Baltimore, MD.; Joe Keffer, Federation of Child Care Centers of AL and working with AL AFL-CI0; Luis Larin, Organizer, United Workers, Baltimore, MD.; Rebecca Marion, Administrative Board Member for Alabama Education Association, member Alabama NAACP and AL Democratic Conference; Attorney Faya Rose Touré Sanders, civil rights and education activist, songwriter, playwright; Benard Simelton, President, Alabama NAACP John Wessel-McCoy, Poor People’s Campaign Program Organizer, Kairos Center, NYC; Charon Hribar, Poor People’s Campaign Program Coordinator, Kairos Center, NYC; Jose Vasquez, Iraq Veterans Against the War, NYC; and Alecha Irby, Saving Ours Selves, student at Alabama State University, recently arrested for trying to hold 24 hr vigil at Alabama’s Capitol praying for Medicaid Expansion as a member of “Faithful Seven Arrested at Alabama Capitol Found NOT GUILTY”, (Saving OurSelves Oct. 6, 2014) Evidence includes:August 18, 2014 letter to Bayou La Batre Mayor signed by AL State Senator Hank Sanders on behalf a 40-member Alabama coalition (IGNORED):SOS asks… Mayor, Bret Dungan, to … keep the promise made by the city, federal and state governments of affordable housing at Safe Harbor for Katrina Survivors.alafishcoop.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/105/April 23, 2014 Letter to Bayou La Batre Mayor from Benard Simelton, President of Alabama NAACP and AL Multi-Cultural Fishers (IGNORED!): [CPA] Danforth’s 2012 report showed “rents” could be cut in half if such excessive spending is brought under control. (alafishcoop.wordpress.com) As Katrina’s 10th Anniversary Approaches Unjust “Recovery” Policies Continue Across the Gulf Coast: “…nearly a 100,000 people never got back to New Orleans, the city remains incredibly poor…” (Bill Quigley, Huffington Post, Aug. 27, 2013) Aapproximately 1,000,000 residents of the Gulf Region were physically displaced during the events of Hurricane Katrina…the largest population of internally displaced people in the modern history of the United States [emphasis added]…substandard flood walls and levees that were breached… resulted in the drowning deaths of people in the Gulf Region, flooding 80% of the city of New Orleans….The hurricane-damaged communities in Alabama are the most overlooked areas by the U.S. Government...Coden has never seen so many people pass away in such a short time….trying to survive in the FEMA campers, and hoping to see  their homes rebuilt. My mother Hilda Nelson died after living in a FEMA camper over a year and hoping for assistance to rebuild the family that never came…’ Paul Nelson.” (Submission to the United Nations..Human Rights Council 22 November – 3 December 2010 THE HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS IN THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE KATRINA by: Advocates for Environmental Human Rights et al..).

Paul Nelson's shop and home

Above Photo

The Nelson’s home ravaged by Katrina, still barren in 2014, and where: “Hilda Nelson died one year and one month after moving into her FEMA tailer…’I point the finger at the formaldehyde’.Paul Nelson”. Cited from stunning expose: (Dying for a Home: Toxic Trailers Are Making Katrina Refugees Ill FEMA-supplied trailers for displaced Gulf Coast residents have been found to emit formaldehyde vapors, causing serious health problems, The Nation, Feb. 14, 2007) For More Information, or HOW YOU CAN TESTIFY call: Benard Simelton, President Alabama NAACP 256/426-6406; Zack Carter, Organizer, Alabama Multi-Cultural Fisher and Seafood Worker-Owned Coop, 334/224-3983 John Wessel-McCoy, Poverty Initiative, 404/431-3590

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“Faithful Seven/State Capitol Seven found NOT GUILTY” From Alabama’s :S.O.S. – Save OurSelves Movement for Justice & Democracy’s Press Rlease

7 Oct

S.O.S. – Save OurSelves Movement for Justice & Democracy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                       CONTACT:   John Zippert (205) 657-0273

Monday, October 6, 2014                            Hank Sanders (334) 782-1651

Faithful Seven/State Capitol Seven found NOT GUILTY: 

Trial held today at Montgomery County Courthouse – ALL SEVEN ACQUITTED

The seven Alabamians arrested for singing and praying in the State Capitol as an act of faith in support of health care and Medicaid expansion were found not guilty following their trial in Montgomery County District Court today.  The purpose of their moral stand remains to persuade Gov. Robert Bentley to extend Medicaid coverage and save the lives of Alabamians.

In his oral ruling from the bench, Judge W. Troy Massey said that this case follows in the long history and tradition of Americans risking jail to stand up for principles greater than themselves.  He cited Americans in 1773, who trespassed onto three ships and destroyed $1 million worth of tea (in 1773 dollars) by dumping it into the Boston Harbor.  Today we know that as the Boston Tea Party.  He cited Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus in 1955 in protest of segregation, which led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and advances in desegregation of public transportation.  He cited protests in Selma in 1965, which led to the Voting Rights Act.  He cited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s lifetime of nonviolent protests and others.

The Judge also referenced how peaceful the crowd was in the courtroom throughout the hours of trial proceedings today.  Several Capitol Police Officers who were witnesses at trial also detailed how peaceful and prayerful the defendants’ demeanors were during their abbreviated prayer vigil at the State Capitol on August 28th.  Not only was no damage done to property;  no voices were even raised.

One assertion by the prosecution’s witnesses, which came out in court today and surprised the defense and others in the courtroom, was that state policy denies all Alabamians any right to peacefully protest, even silently, in the State Capitol at all times – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – not just after 5:00 p.m. on weekdays.

The Alabama statute on trespass provides that if a person has an honest belief they have a right to be in place, such as the State Capitol, sometimes called “the People’s House”, that person cannot be convicted of criminal trespass.  Civil trespass is the recourse available under such circumstances.  The Judge cited the defense of honest belief to the trespass charges as “compelling.”  He also said the justification defense of necessity, which the defense raised, was “compelling.”  Evidence demonstrated that, on the average, three people die every two days in Alabama because of the failure to extend Medicaid.  The seven defendants were arrested while they were trying to save hundreds of lives each year in Alabama alone.

The seven citizens arrested on August 28, 2014, for peacefully protesting by attempting to hold 24-hour, non-violent vigil in the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery and who were found not guilty of the charges today in Montgomery County District Court include:

  •  John Zippert, Newspaper Publisher and member of the Greene County Hospital and Nursing Home Board
  •   Augustus (Gus) Townes, retired State Employee and Community Leader
  •   Faya Rose Toure’, Civil Rights Attorney and Activist
  •   Alecha Irby, College Student and Community Worker
  •   Reverend Fred Hammond, Tuscaloosa Pastor and Community Leader=
  •   Reverend Kenneth Glasgow, Dothan Pastor and Director of The Ordinary Peoples Society (TOPS)
  •   Annie Pearl Avery, Longtime Grassroots Warrior

Quotes from the individual defendants acquitted today:

Faya Rose Toure’:  “I am so proud that justice reigned this day.  Too often justice is not done in our courts, and it is great when justice prevails.  We will keep fighting to protect the lives and the health of Alabamians.”

Reverend Fred Hammond:  “This is a matter of life and death, and hope for life triumphed this day.”

John Zippert:  “We were just trying to do right, and the Judge recognized that.”

Reverend Kenneth Glasgow:  “This is the first time I’ve been arrested for doing right, and this is the first time I’ve been found innocent.  It’s good to do right.”

Annie Pearl Avery:  “When you stand up for right, right will prevail.  I was on the Edmund Pettus Bridge during Bloody Sunday in 1965, and I am still standing up for right today.”

Alecha Irby:  “I am proud that as a young person I stood up, and I am proud that justice was done.  More young people need to stand.”

Augustus “Gus” Townes:  “We stood up for justice, and the Judge did justice today.  We will continue standing up to save the lives of Alabamians.”

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“The trial of the seven Alabamians arrested for singing and praying in the State Capitol as an act of faith in support of health care and Medicaid expansion will take place this Monday, October 6, 2014.” Press Release by Saving OurSelves Movement for Justice & Democracy; For More Info Contact: AL State Sen Hank Sanders, Coop Developer John Zippert

5 Oct

 

‘State Capitol Seven’ at their release from the Montgomery County jail at midnight on Thursday. L to  R: Alecha Irby, John Zippert, Faya Rose Toure, Rev. Fred Hammond,  Annie Pearl Avery, Rev. Kenneth Glasgow and Gus Townes. ( “State Capitol Seven’ arrested for trespassing after demonstration to urge Governor to approve Medicaid expansion” by John Zippert: http://greenecountydemocrat.com/)

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[Cut & pasted below is: Press Release by S.O.S. – Save OurSelves Movement for Justice & Democracy; For More Info Contact: Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders, Coop Developer John Zippert]

S.O.S. – Save OurSelves Movement for Justice & Democracy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: John Zippert (205) 657-0273

Friday, October 3, 2014 Hank Sanders (334) 782-1651

Trial of the Faithful Seven/State Capitol Seven –

MONDAY, October 6th at 8:00 a.m. at Montgomery County Courthouse

The trial of the seven Alabamians arrested for singing and praying in the State Capitol as an act of faith in support of health care and Medicaid expansion will take place this Monday, October 6, 2014. The trial is scheduled to begin at 8:00 a.m. in Courtroom 2C of the Montgomery County Courthouse at 101 South Lawrence Street.

The seven citizens arrested on August 28, 2014, for peacefully protesting by attempting to hold 24-hour, non-violent vigil in the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery include:

  • John Zippert, Newspaper Publisher and member of the Greene County Hospital and Nursing Home Board
  • Augustus (Gus) Townes, retired State Employee and Community Leader
  • Faya Rose Toure’, Civil Rights Attorney and Activist
  • Alecha Irby, College Student and Community Worker
  • Reverend Fred Hammond, Tuscaloosa Pastor and Community Leader
  • Reverend Kenneth Glasgow, Dothan Pastor and Director of The Ordinary Peoples Society (TOPS)
  • Annie Pearl Avery, Longtime Grassroots Warrior

The purpose of their moral stand is to persuade Gov. Robert Bentley to extend Medicaid coverage. The seven pled not guilty by written notice to the Montgomery District Court.

Rev. Fred Hammond said, “This is a moral issue of life and death. Medical studies show that up to 700 Alabamians will die each year because they lack this basic health coverage. The federal government funds 100 percent of this coverage for the first three years (2014 -2016), and from 2020 onward federal dollars will fund 90 percent of this lifesaving coverage. By rejecting the funding that a majority of states have accepted, the Governor will be sacrificing lives of people he was elected to serve.”

John Zippert added, “A disproportionate number of people will die in rural Alabama because of Gov. Bentley’s failure to extend Medicaid. His deadly decision places grave financial pressures on hospitals in the state, particularly smaller rural hospitals. Not expanding Medicaid is bad for Alabama hospitals and communities and is literally a matter of life and death for some Alabamians.”

Faya Rose Toure’ said, “On the average at least one person dies every day as a direct result of not expanding Medicaid. That is morally wrong and is unacceptable.”

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Show Solidarity for Seven Alabama Activists Who Go on Trial Monday Sept. 6 for Demanding Health Care for All!

3 Oct

If you can’t be there in person send a statement of support via “comment” section below and our cooperative will hand deliver it to the Faithful Seven before they go into court Monday. Also please circulate the cut and pasted flyer below:

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COME SUPPORT THE FAITHFUL SEVEN!!!

COME SUPPORT THE FAITHFUL SEVEN!!!

WHEN: Monday, October 6, 2014 at 8:00 a.m.

WHERE: Montgomery County Courthouse

101 South Lawrence Street, Courtroom 2C

Montgomery, Alabama 36104

WHAT: Trial of the Faithful Seven/State Capitol Seven

Fighting to Save Lives!!! Fighting for Justice!!!

WHO: The seven arrested for singing and praying in the Alabama State Capitol as an act of faith in support of health care and Medicaid expansion –

  • John Zippert, Newspaper Publisher and member of the Greene County Hospital and Nursing Home Board

  • Augustus (Gus) Townes, retired State Employee and Community Leader

  • Faya Rose Toure’, Civil Rights Attorney and Activist

  • Alecha Irby, College Student and Community Worker

  • Reverend Fred Hammond, Tuscaloosa Pastor and Community Leader

  • Reverend Kenneth Glasgow, Dothan Pastor and Director of The Ordinary Peoples Society (TOPS)

  • Annie Pearl Avery, Longtime Grassroots Warrior

WHY: THEY STOOD AND FOUGHT FOR US! NOW WE MUST STAND AND FIGHT WITH THEM! BE THERE MONDAY, OCTOBER 6th!!

COME SUPPORT THE FAITHFUL SEVEN!!!

Paid for by SOS, THE SAVE OURSELVES MOVEMENT FOR JUSTICE AND DEMOCRACY

CONTACT: Shelley Fearson, 334-262-0932

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