Private Prisons in a Wider Context: Video

Recent momentum has been building against the private prison industry, including here in Denver, and is exciting and is already making progress. Over at the blog Chaparral Respects No Borders (CRNB), an excellent two part video series has been put together on the ways in which the criminal justice system intersects with capitalism, white supremacy, colonialism, and other forms of oppression to maintain themselves.

These are great videos to watch to remember the bigger picture of imprisonment and criminalization in this country so as we put the heat on corporations such as Wells Fargo, GEO, and CCA that we avoid what CRNB warns of

“An anti-private prison campaign can easily fall into the same traps as the “go after the real criminals” message, as though there’s nothing wrong with the “criminal” “justice” system.”

The War on Drugs by the Numbers

On the 40th Anniversary of the War on Drugs, Colorlines offers these telling pictographs on how the War on Drugs disproportionately targets people of color and the working class in general.   As “The New Jim Crow” author Michelle Alexander recently told a crowd of 1,000 at Harlem’s Riverside Church, “The enemy in this war has been racially defined. The drug war, not by accident, has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color.”

Since Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs, the prison population in this country has skyrocketed, tearing families apart, stripping people of their lives and waging low-intensity war on our communities.

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Tomorrow: A Day of Resistance and Celebration!

There are several events going on tomorrow worth checking out.  Here are the details!

War on Drugs Rally

Friday June 17th 11:00am-1:00pm
Skyline Park, Between 16th and 17th Ave on Arapahoe St.

June 17, 2011 marks the 40th Anniversary of the War on Drugs which has had a devastating effect on people, families and communities, particularly minority and poor communities. Drug policy reform advocates all across the county will mark the auspicious date with a day of action to raise awareness about the failure of drug prohibition and call for an exit strategy on the failed war on drugs.
CCJRC is helping to coordinate a rally in Denver which is part of a national day of action being organized in 15 states. Speakers include: Pam Clifton (CCJRC), Art Way (Drug Policy Alliance–Colorado), Mike Krause (Independence Institute), Dr. Vincent Harding (Iliff School of Theology), Jessie Ulibarri (ACLU-Colorado) Mason Tvert (SAFER) and others.

Liberty on the Rocks Debate

Friday, June 17, 2011
700 Kalamath St., Denver
Cocktail Reception/Free Appetizers
5:30 – 9:00

Liberty on the Rocks will also be hosting an evening educational forum which will be moderated by Mike Krause. Panelists include: Jessica Peck Corry (Attorney), District Attorney Carol Chambers (18th Judicial District) and David Williams (Gadsen Society).

Aurora Human Rights Center Grand Opening

Friday June 17th, 4pm-8pm
1400 Dayton St., Aurora

RAP’s office at 1400 Dayton St. is part of the newly formed Aurora Human Rights Center (AHRC). We’re very excited to be a part of this collaboration in original Aurora, which also includes Centro Humanitario,
Denver Foundation’s Strengthening Neighborhoods Program, Somali Community Center, and Lowry Family Center.

We are welcoming and inviting our local community to attend AHRC’s Grand Opening Celebration on Friday, June 17th from 4-8 pm at 1400 Dayton St. in Aurora. It is a FREE open house multicultural event with food, fun, and entertainment, including a bouncy house for the kids and Somali music and
dancers. We’d love to see you there!

Please RSVP with Nicole nicole@rap-dpt.org  303-893-3500

Mexico: Brutal Drug Cartel Began as Special Unit Trained by the U.S. to Fight the Zapatistas

ZapatistaIt was a brutal massacre even by the gruesome standards of Mexico’s drug war: 72 migrant workers gunned down by the “Zetas” – arguably the country’s most violent cartel – and left rotting in a pile outside a ranch in Tamaulipas state near the US border in late August.

The Zetas have a fearsome reputation, but the real surprise comes not in their ruthless use of violence, but in the origins of where they learned the tricks of their bloody trade.

Some of the cartel’s initial members were elite Mexican troops, trained in the early 1990s by America’s 7th Special Forces Group or “snake eaters” at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, a former US special operations commander has told Al Jazeera.

“They were given map reading courses, communications, standard special forces training, light to heavy weapons, machine guns and automatic weapons,” says Craig Deare, the former special forces commander who is now a professor at the US National Defence University.

“I had some visibility on what was happening, because this [issue] was related to things I was doing in the Pentagon in the 1990s,” Deare, who also served as country director in the office of the US Secretary of Defence, says.

The Mexican personnel who received US training and later formed the Zetas came from the Airmobile Special Forces Group (GAFE), which is considered an elite division of the Mexican military.
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Mexican Political Prisoner Gloria Arenas Released

Photos by Comite Verdad, Justicia, y Libertad Jacobo y Gloria

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Gloria Arenas AgĂ­s

Gloria Arenas Agís was released from prison around 7:30PM on October 28, ten years after Mexican federal agents abducted, tortured, and then—after several days of being held incommunicado—arrested her and her husband Jacobo Silva Nogales on charges ranging from terrorism and homicide to rebellion.

Arenas and Silva are the co-founders of the ERPI (the Insurgent People’s Revolutionary Army), a guerrilla movement based in Mexico’s impoverished Guerrero State, with roots going back to the Lucio Cabañas guerrilla up-rising of 1967-1974.

Mexico State prison officials released Arenas without advanced notice or asking her to sign a single document.

“I did not know that I was going to be released,” Arenas told a reporter from La Jornada upon leaving the Mexico State prison in Chiconautla, “all of a sudden they just told me, get your things and leave.”

Minutes later she was standing outside the prison, alone, with two plastic bags. Elizabeth Silva, Jacobo Silva’s sister, arrived first and took Arenas to her house where she was met by scores of supporters.
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