activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: kimberly rivera

year-end wrap-up: updates on 2013 posts

Natan Blanc: After petitions and demonstrations, Natan Blanc was released in June, after spending six months in jail for refusing to be inducted into the Israel Defense Forces.

Food Not Bombs: Although state health officials in New Mexico threatened in June to seek a court order to stop Food Not Bombs from serving free meals without a permit, Keith McHenry reports that “the state never returned and the meals continue without incident.”

Uriel Alberto: After beginning a hunger strike in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Charlotte on July 4, to protest his deportation, Uriel Alberto was approved within two weeks for a one-year stay of removal.

California Prisoner Hunger Strike: Following legislators’ announcement that they would hold joint public hearings on the conditions in California prisons that led to another prisoner hunger strike in July, hunger strikers suspended the strike in September, 60 days after it began.

Washington Ballot Initiative: The GE labeling initiative in Washington, which would have required retail food products and seed stocks that had been genetically engineered to be labeled, was defeated by a small margin in November. Corporations spent $22 million, more than in any prior campaign in the state’s history, to defeat the initiative. Monsanto was the largest single contributor. According to a Grist blog post by Nathanael Johnson, the money made a difference, just like it did in a similar attempt to pass a labeling bill in California last year:

In each case the labeling bills started out with big leads. In each case those leads shrank as the food industry and agribusiness paid for massive amounts of advertising. The moral of the story seems to be that money really can change the outcome of elections.

Tyler Lang and Kevin Olliff: On November 6, Tyler Lang and Kevin Olliff had their second pretrial conference. Lang accepted a plea deal and was released. Olliff attempted to accept a plea deal, but the judge rejected it; so he remains in Woodford County Jail. He was in court again today in front of a different judge.

Jeremy Hammond: On November 15, anarchist hacker Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to 10 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. In response to the sentence, WikiLeaks released all of the remaining Stratfor files.

Reverend Billy and Nehemiah Luckett: At a court hearing on December 9, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office reduced the charges against Reverend Billy and Nehemiah Luckett, dropping the more serious charges and reducing the remaining offenses to misdemeanor criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, and unlawful assembly.

Kimberly Rivera: On December 12, Iraq war resister Kimberly Rivera was released early for good behavior and performing extra work. She had been scheduled for release in early January 2014.

Jerry Koch: On December 20, attorneys for Jerry Koch filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge John Keenan to release the 24-year-old philosophy student, because Koch has shown he has no intention of cooperating with the grand jury to which he’s been subpoenaed.

Pussy Riot: On December 23, the two women from Pussy Riot nearing the end of their two-year prison terms were released under a new amnesty law. The law was also expected to bring about the release of many people arrested after an anti-government demonstration in May, and close the cases of the 28 Greenpeace activists and 2 journalists arrested in the Arctic Sea in September while occupying an oil rig to call attention to the threat of oil drilling and climate change. According to a December 19 New York Times editorial,

In pardoning these prisoners, Mr. Putin gave no indication that they may have been wrongfully tried and imprisoned, nor that more people will not be treated similarly in the future.

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iraq war resister kimberly rivera’s application for clemency rejected

Kimberly Rivera, a soldier who fled to Canada in 2007 after becoming disenchanted with the Iraq war, pled guilty to two counts of desertion in April. After receiving two deportation orders, she had presented herself at the U.S. border in September 2012 and was taken into military custody. Rivera was sentenced to 10 months in prison and a bad-conduct discharge.

On Monday, Rivera gave birth to her fifth child, Matthew. On Wednesday, her application for clemency was rejected. According to today’s San Diego Free Press article,

When Fort Carson Senior Commander Brigadier General Michael A. Bills rejected her application for clemency on November 27th, Rivera sustained yet another separation–from her newborn son Matthew, who is being cared for now by his father here in San Diego. Military regulations reportedly include no provision for her to breastfeed her baby while she is in prison.

Rivera is scheduled for release in early January 2014. More than four thousand people have signed a petition to have her released sooner.

iraq war resister kimberly rivera sentenced to ten months in prison

Kimberly Rivera, a soldier who fled to Canada in 2007 after becoming disenchanted with the Iraq war, pled guilty to two counts of desertion yesterday. Canadian authorities had rejected her applications for refugee status, permanent residency, and her request to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. After she received two deportation orders, she presented herself at the U.S. border on September 20, 2012 and was taken into military custody.

Rivera was sentenced to 10 months in prison and a bad-conduct discharge. The expected sentence had she not pled guilty was two to five years. According to Huffington Post, her attorney argued that she was unaware that she could have applied for conscientious objector status:

Rivera’s civilian defense attorney, James Matthew Branum, argued that Rivera never filed for status as a conscientious objector because she didn’t know the option was available to her. He said Rivera should have been informed about it when she met with a chaplain in Iraq over concerns that she couldn’t take a life…

Branum focuses on providing pro-bono and low-cost representation to members of the U.S. military seeking discharge on the grounds of conscientious objection. He has facilitated the early discharge of more than 250 servicemembers.

canadian authorities deport iraq war resister kimberly rivera to the u.s.

After becoming disenchanted with the Iraq war, Kimberly Rivera crossed the border into Canada while on leave from the U.S. Army in February 2007. She lived there for five years with her husband and four children. Today, after receiving a deportation order last month, she presented herself at the U.S. border, where she was arrested and transferred to military custody. She could face a prison sentence of two to five years.

According to Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s article in Monday’s Globe and Mail newspaper,

Ms. Rivera, who is from Texas, joined the U.S. Army when she was 24 and was stationed in Baghdad. She believed the U.S. efforts would make her country safer. Disillusioned by the reality of civilian casualties, she came to Canada in 2007 and applied for refugee status. She felt she could no longer participate in a war where she was contributing to causing harm and death to innocent people.

Although the criminal legal system punishes people for opposing injustice in ways society deems too bold or confrontational, it isn’t deterring everyone. For many, this increases their resolve to change the course of history.