activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: uriel alberto

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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civil disobedient begins hunger strike, as pelican bay hunger strike resumes tomorrow

Uriel Alberto was born in Oaxaca, Mexico in 1987 and came to the U.S. at age 7. Approximately one year ago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rejected his request to stay in the U.S. following his February 2012 arrest for disrupting a meeting of the North Carolina House Select Committee on the State’s Role in Immigration Policy. After ICE ordered Alberto to present himself to immigration authorities by July 17 of this year, he began a hunger strike last week in front of the ICE office in Charlotte to protest his deportation.

Another hunger strike, in California, will restart tomorrow. Due to broken promises and cruel conditions, prisoners will resume a July 2011 hunger strike that started in Pelican Bay’s isolation unit and spread to prisons across the state. According to a San Francisco Bay Guardian article,

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) counted 6,000 prisoners throughout the state who refused food over several weeks in July 2011. During a follow-up strike that September, the number of prisoners missing meals swelled to 12,000, according to the federal receiver who was appointed by the courts to oversee reforms in the system. At least one inmate starved to death.

At Guantánamo Bay, where a group of detainees began a hunger strike in February and more than 100 detainees are refusing food, the U.S. government says it will continue to force-feed 45 of the hunger strikers during the holy month of Ramadan. Observant Muslims fast daily from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, which begins tomorrow. The Obama administration allegedly does not force-feed observant Muslims between sunrise and sunset during Ramadan, but lawyers for the detainees have criticized the government for failing to guarantee that no such force-feeding will occur.

new white house immigration policy does not protect civil disobedient with a prior conviction

President Obama announced three weeks ago that his administration would stop deporting some undocumented immigrants who were under 16 when they came to the U.S. The memorandum setting forth the policy, however, includes several criteria that “should be satisfied before an individual is considered” for a two-year reprieve from deportation. Most important for activists is the criterion that the immigrant

has not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise poses [no] threat to national security or public safety.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) used that provision earlier this week to reject Uriel Alberto’s request to stay in the U.S. following his arrest for civil disobedience. Alberto, who was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. at age 7, landed in jail on February 29 after disrupting a meeting of the North Carolina House Select Committee on the State’s Role in Immigration Policy. His immigration attorney suspects that ICE declined his request to stay in the U.S. based a prior ‘significant’ misdemeanor offense of registering a 0.04 percent blood alcohol content when he was under 21. North Carolina’s limit is 0.08 percent.

Alberto is a member of El Cambio, an immigrant rights organization. His son is a U.S. citizen. While Obama’s new immigration policy is a step in the right direction, the broad criterion above counteracts any guarantee of meaningful change for undocumented immigrants with prior convictions, or who allegedly pose a threat to national security (e.g., due to their political activities).