Rob Hallam

Newsletter 2014-10-26: PUB QUIZ, Ferguson and Beyond, Jamnesty Tickets


Notwithstanding the egregious howler of a typo that started last week’s emailed newsletter, I bring you yet another missive full to overflowing with words for you to decipher.

Another round of thanks are in order this week. Firstly to Sarah and Alex for presenting on Tuesday. It was really handy to have an introduction to the history of race relations in the US as it set the context for what is happening in Ferguson (and elsewhere) succinctly. Well done to everyone who wrote a letter too- sending those off will surely have an impact; and the photos for #FergusonOctober show our solidarity. Have a look at Bex’s take on the Ferguson situation too, as it is definitely worth a read.

Thanks too to everyone who helped out with the bake sale on Friday- with all the informative events we put on it’s easy to overlook the fact that we need some money to operate; so well done to all involved.

This Week: Ferguson and Other Cases of Racial Discrimination

Tuesday 28th October 2014, 5PM, Committee Room 1 of the QMU

We are planning to build on the work we did on Ferguson last week, with a guest speaker* coming to talk about case studies on injustice and racial discrimination. After that we are going to have a group discussion about cases to come up with new some letter-writing templates, which we can add to our list of resources.

Given that we now know Ferguson is just one incident in a sea of many in the US and around the world which involves police brutality and racial discrimination, it’s important to shine a light on the others so that we can send a message that whoever it may happen it is not acceptable.

The session should be informative and also practical, as the group discussion should illuminate how the letters that we (and Amnesty at large) write are composed.

**subject to confirmation*

SUNDAY (TODAY): PUB QUIZ!

Sunday 26th October 2014, 8PM, Jim’s Bar (1st Floor of the QMU)

IMG_4480_v2

When: Sunday 26th October, 8PM
Where: Jim’s Bar, on the first floor of the QM Union
Entry: £3

Join the Facebook event and invite your friends!

Come to Jim’s and test your knowledge in our pub quiz. Show off your expertise in equestrian, your panache for performance art or just your magnificence at multiple choice.

Bring your reclusive genius mate to help you along, and your others as padding to laugh at when they miss a date by a couple odd centuries.

Prizes to be confirmed!

All proceeds from the night will go to Amnesty International UK.

£3 entry

It’ll be a great night!

Syrian Coalition / Week Update

Next meeting this Thursday 30th October 2014, 4PM Fraser Building

Syrian refugees

You may remember a previous update in a newsletter about the Coalition for Syrian Refugees. If not, then briefly it’s an inter-society coalition with aim of raising funds for and awareness of the plight of Syrian Refugees. GU Amnesty has been involved and none moreso than now. We’ve already had a meeting which included Oxfam, GRASS and UNICEF with the aim of organising and promoting a Syrian Week of events and information in January. The good news is that the SRC are considering officially endorsing the week!

There’s still lots to organise and although January seems miles off by now it’ll definitely come rushing up- particularly given there’s a whole bunch of exams in December! So if you’d like to get involved please feel free to come along to the meeting this Thursday at 4PM in the Fraser Building and contribute to the week!

Jamnesty Tickets On Sale This Week

With the groovy Jamnesty coming up in just under a month on Wednesday 26th November in Stereo, you might be wondering “where can I buy tickets for this awesome event?”. And the answer would be: right here! The ticketing system we used for the SPB is being redeployed to serve the needs of our gig night too. You’ll also be able to buy tickets from us in person, of course.

Watch this space! If you have any other questions, please email [jamnesty@guamnesty.org.uk](mailto:jamnesty@guamnesty.org.uk].

Reminder! Wednesday 29th October: Conference – ‘Conflict in the Congo: Responses from the International Community’

4-6PM, Senate Room, Main Building, University of Glasgow

In case anyone missed it (again!) last week, this is coming up this Wednesday. Ruth is looking for a few volunteers – more CV material! – so if you’re interested please email mail@conflictfreeglasgow.org.uk and let her know.

With several interesting speakers, this conference co-hosted by CFCI Glasgow, GHRN and Global Security Network is a great opportunity to find out in a bit more detail what has been going on in the Congo and what the response has been.

The event will be free and open to everyone, including all students and staff at the University, members of the Glasgow Human Rights Network and the Global Security Network, and anyone outwith the University who may be interested. The hope is that this event will provide an education to those who have little or no understanding of the on-going conflict in the DRC, as well as giving people from campaigning/academic backgrounds with a focus on the DRC or human rights and conflicts the opportunity to engage with a range of speakers who can discuss various aspects of international interventions.

As I said last week it looks really great and I know that Ruth has put a lot of work into organising the event, so I would strongly recommend gong if you’re free at 4 on Wednesday 29th! You can always check out the CFCI Facebook page for more info and updates.

Have a look at the Facebook event for the conference and come along!

Student Conference Travel Plans

In case anyone is coming along to the student conference that we don’t know about yet, please get in touch and let us know if you would like to organise group travel with us. No obligation, but it would be nice to travel a group and if nothing else it’s good to know who is going!

A Recap In Photos

Maybe you’re one of the many people who have joined us in the last few weeks, or recently subscribed to the newsletter. I bet you’d love a recap of some of the things we’ve done so far, right? Even if you’ve been with us for years and years, everyone loves photos. So, since I got caught up with the last few weeks of photos this weekend, I can show you what has been happening since term’s start.

In reverse chronological order, ish:
– A recent meeting we had on Ferguson, MO: Photos and our contribution to the #FergusonOctober photo petition
– A meeting to elect new committee members and death penalty demo preparation
– Our #DemocracyNowHK solidarity photos
– Choosing our campaigns for the semester
– Our welcome meeting – standing room only!
– A few photos from our stall at the Freshers Fair
– A campaign – the Conflict Free Campus Initiative – that we started on a couple of years ago now has its own coalition and motion before the court- we showed our continued support by taking photos during Freshers Fair and our welcome meeting!

It’s great to see so many people taking part and enjoying themselves in the photos- keep it up guys 🙂

Thanks for Reading

This week’s ‘thanks for reading’ reward is something a little closer to home, an animated GIF I made from everyone who took a photo for the #FergusonOctober solidarity action:

FergusonOctober - animated

You guys continue to rock.

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Rob Hallam

Meeting 5 – Ferguson (Photos)

Thanks to Sarah for the presentations and to Alex for talking us through the current situation. Great work to everyone who wrote a letter too- we have a big stack to send! Letters are really vital to the work the Amnesty International does, and every one counts.

Be sure to check out and share the #FergusonOctober photo petition photos from the meeting too!

Rob Hallam

#FergusonOctober Photos

Big thanks to everyone who took part! Please save a copy of these photos and share them on Twitter, Facebook etc with the hashtag #FergusonOctober. Scroll down for montage and animated versions.

Edit: Oops, of course I mean #FergusonOctober, not #OctoberFerguson. Silly me.

Photo set:

Montage:

#OctoberFerguson Photomontage

#OctoberFerguson Photomontage

GIF:

#octoberferguson photoanim

Ferguson: A dream for racial equality past, present and future

On 26th August 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) addressed Washington D.C. and said the iconic words, ‘I have a dream’. He called for the country that was called the United States to become a united nation; a country that would allow both black Americans and white Americans to sit side by side and show mutual respect.

On the 9th August 2014, 51 years after MLK said the iconic words, that dream is sadly still shown to be a pipe dream. While African Americans in terms of legality have a voice, in local government that voice is still that of a second class citizen, under-represented and not heard enough of.

The recent events in Ferguson in the aftermath of the shooting of teenager Michael Brown has brought this to light. In a community that is 67% black, in local government that representation does not equate; the city council has a mere 17% of black representatives, with a white mayor, and the police force is even lower at only 6%. Over here, such inequality would contravene the human rights act article 14, which demands that all human rights be’ exercised without discrimination’. I find it difficult to believe that African Americans simply just don’t want to be involved in local government.

It is sad to see that in a progressive and forward thinking country that prides itself on the American dream, that the dream of MLK has still not been held up and that racial prejudice is still widely seen.

The appointment of Barack Obama indeed shows how far the country has come, however due to the recent breaches of the First Amendment (which includes the right to peaceful assembly; here implemented in the human rights act under articles 10 and 11), it is apparent that the dream that MLK called for in Washington DC is still one that needs to be fought for.

Therefore it is important that we at Glasgow University Amnesty Society still stand with Ferguson and fight for fair sentencing of Police Officer Darren Wilson in January, greater racial equality and continue to hope for the dream that MLK outlined half a century ago.

With the human rights acts, it is not a case of picking and choosing for certain individuals, if someone is human then these are the acts and they should not be breached.

Rob Hallam

Newsletter 2014-10-19: Ferguson, PUB QUIZ THIS SUNDAY and some Reminders

Hello again! With the passing of another week I would like to thank everyone who tended the shop while I was away in the south. You all kept things running smoothly! I’d also like to say thank you to everyone who came along to the screening of In Prison My Whole Life and to the debate with the Dialectics where we got some more photos for our #notodeathpenalty campaign. If you missed Bex’s writeup on the documentary it’s well worth a read, and it ties in nicely to what we’ll be doing in the week ahead.

All in all given how well the week went, I may have to go away more often…

This Week: Ferguson

Tuesday 14th October, 5PM, QMU Committee Room 1

Ferguson protest in the street

From the death penalty we move on to our first choice of campaign for this year: Ferguson. This is the first time that we’ve covered something of this nature happening in the US, so it’s new ground for novel campaigning ideas!

Announcing: GU Amnesty’s Pub Quiz!

Sunday 26th October 2014, Jim’s Bar, 8PM

Pub quiz 2013 team

So you think you know your stuff? It’s that time of year again: time for another GU Amnesty Pub Quiz! Join us on Sunday 26th October (this coming Sunday, a week today) in Jim’s bar for several rounds of delightful brain-teasing questions. Entrance is £3 (thinking of the Raise-off already!) and there will be some great prizes to be won. So get those thinking caps on!

Click ‘going’ on the Facebook event page, you know you want to! And invite your friends too- the more people that go the higher the pot!

You can also have a look at the photos from last year’s Pub Quiz which should show what a great time we had.

SPB Poster Competition

Accepting entries now!

Do you think you heave what it takes to win an award from an award-winning show? If you have some creative flair and a knack for digital artistry you mays be interested in participating in our very own poster competition!

The competition has run for the last couple of years and produced some great results:

2013 Poster2014 Poster

…And yours could take their place amongst them! The details we need are:

GU Amnesty International
Date :February 21st
Title :The Secret Policeman’s Ball
Hosted by Billy Kirkwood
The Venue : Qudos, Queen Margaret Union
Price: £6 for comedy only £8 with afterparty in Jim’s Bar (£7/9 O.T.D.)
Doors: at 7.30pm

If it’s a format that translates well between large poster (A3) and flyer (A5) sizes so much the better, even if the two versions are slightly different.

The deadline is 31st October 2014 and the grand prize is two tickets to this year’s SPB. Plus the whole bunch of kudos and exposure of having your design plastered around the West End and online.

Please send your entries to spb@guamnesty.org.uk; and good luck to all entrants!

More info can be found in the Facebook event.

AIUK Student Conference – Reminder and Motions

November 1-2 2014, London (deadline for motions is Monday 23rd October)

Student conference

I’ll be reminding you again about the student conference (see below) but first we had a message in from Rachel Statham, the Scottish STAN rep about making policy proposals at the student conference:

The Student Conference AGM is the opportunity for students to have their say, and resolutions can be passed on pretty much any aspect of Amnesty policy, provided that the action you call for is to ask the STAN Committee to do something. For example previous resolutions have asked that the STAN Committee not fly within the UK (exempting Northern Ireland) when travelling to meetings, and have asked us to raise particular issues with the AIUK Board.

This is a brilliant chance for every student activist to engage in the governance of Amnesty, as you can also ask us to help facilitate bringing a motion to National AGM, on a campaign you would like to see Amnesty UK doing. Last year this is exactly what happened when a motion brought forward requesting a focus on Human Rights Abuses in Guatemala, was passed at the AGM in Edinburgh. This motion, stemming from a proposal from a student group at the student AGM, and is now a formal AIUK Campaign.

The deadline for submitting resolutions is Midday on 23rd October, so it’s very soon. Please consider bringing forward a motion, and engaging with the AGM. Don’t hesitate to contact us, by email or facebook, for any advice or more information.

Governance and policy are really important areas to get right, and it’s vital we all are able to have a say in how Amnesty International (and STAN, in this case) conducts its business. Please get in touch very soon if you have something you would like raised or would like more info on the process.

Don’t forget to register on the student conference page! Although the registration fee costs £20, we can apply to the SRC for a reimbursement on that so keep those receipts! There are workshops, campaign actions, discussions, socialising and much more. Let’s not forget we have an award to pick up for last year’s Secret Policeman’s Ball! Please let me know if you are interested in coming and we can try to make travel plans for the group.

Jamnesty Update: Venue confirmed!

Wednesday 26th November 2014

Thanks to the efforts of Domi, Joe and Milia we have confirmed Stereo as a venue for Jamnesty on 26th November. This will be an excellent place to host the great music we’ll be hearing over the course of the night and is a significant expansion over our previous venue of The Halt.

It should be a great night! Keep your eyes peeled for further announcements closer to the time.

Sleep Out Reminder!

Friday 24th October 2014

Last reminder this week I promise!

The annual sleep-out returns! GU Amnesty has long been involved in these and they’re a really good way to raise both money and awareness. Basically the idea is to meet up with sleep gear (bags/mats/etc), hang out for a bit in the evening to chat and listen to the music and/or theatre sketch (latter TBC!).

Unfortunately it looks like it won’t be possible to use the Wellington Church as a venue this year, which is a shame as it was almost ideal! The venue is still TBC at time of writing.

Update: Kit has confirmed that the sleep out will be held in the cloisters as he was able to secure permission for it to be held there.

The SurveyMonkey poll for the charity to be fundraised for in the sleep-out is here.

Thanks for Reading

This week’s newsletter had a generous portion of reminders of upcoming events and things of note. But sometimes they’re necessary (I do try and keep the newsletter short and also mark reminders clearly!); and some don’t mind them:

A pair of seagulls from Port Issac

Including this couple from Port Issac.

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Just don’t say ‘less reminders’, please!

Reporting on the Documentary: In Prison my Whole Life

Mumia Abu-Jamal was taken into police custody on 9th December, 1981 after being accused of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner with limited evidence. He has remained under police control ever since.

That is, at the time of writing (14th October 2014), 11,997.6 days (32 years, 10 months). Ten years more than my life time. He spent 11,008 days on death row waiting to die, until on 29th January 2012, after over a decade of public protest, his death sentence was repealed.

How you ask, can a government get away with keeping someone on death row in the 21st century without a fair trial? The answer, Abu-Jamal’s case like a number of others, relies upon a court decision with a jury that is fairly represented and a judge who is impartial.

Abu-Jamal had neither of these in his original court case.

The prosecutor in Abu-Jamal’s case, Joseph McGill, de-valued the role of the jury by saying that the case would be “appeal after appeal” and that he would not ever be executed.  This could have led to a less engaged jury. The jury was also not racially representative, with only three African Americans on the jury (25%), when the African American population at the time in Philadelphia was 44%.

At a period of severe racial hatred, racial representation was critical in a court of law. While he was not executed, he still spent 11,008 days waiting to die, something that can only be described as a slow tortured death.

Before the 'Mumia' law was passed that removed the possibility of taking photos of prisoners.

This photo was taken before the ‘Mumia’ law was passed in Pennsylvania which removed the possibility of taking photos or video footage of prisoners.

The lack of a fair trial also extends to the judge; Judge F.Sabo had a track record of sentencing people to death; he sentenced 33 people to execution in his career.  Overheard at the beginning of the trial saying “I’m going to help them fry the n*****”, he was openly corrupt and racist. This suggests that perhaps personal opinions influenced his court ruling, which resulted in the death of only two white people out of 33.

Another important point to add, is there is little concrete evidence to show that Abu-Jamal was guilty. From looking at photos taken by Pedro Polakoff at the scene, that came into public view in 2012, it is clear to see the murder weapon being held along-side Falkner’s police gun in another police officer’s un-gloved hand. This shows that no forensic investigation had taken place.

Later it appeared that  witness, Veronica Jones, a prostitute had been blackmailed by the police force to speak out against Abu-Jamal in return for a removal of her 10 year sentence which had meant that she would lose custody of her children. When she admitted her false testimony in 1996, Jones was called up on a five year old sentence for an unsigned cheque of $250 and arrested in the court room.

The corruption in the case surrounding the witnesses, also led only eye-witness who saw the whole event to remain silent. This was the brother of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Billy Cook, who Mumia had come to help as he was being assaulted by the deceased police officer.

Further corruption in the case is shown through the changing of statements from police officers, initially reported as having said ‘nothing’, this was changed a month later to Abu-Jamal screaming out and saying: “I shot the motherf**ker and I hope he dies.” As he was suffering from a punctured lung that was filling up with blood, medical evidence suggested that this would have not been possible for him to speak, let alone scream.

While corruption in the case is three-fold and required a re-trial time and time again it was rejected, and was only taken up on June 10th 1991, after Abu-Jamal had spent nine years and six months on death row.

Abu-Jamal is in an inescapable situation as he is still imprisoned for life without parole. However, he still manages to provide a “voice for the voiceless”, and keeps in touch with his former job as a radio journalist and newspaper journalist. Reporting on Ferguson and comparing it to Gaza two days ago on prison radio, he still fights for justice, even when justice has kept him behind bars.

His fighting for justice, also turned him into an author of seven books, with multiple best sellers. He also has a book coming out next year which shows that this prisoner, while he has lost his freedom of movement has definitely not lost his freedom of speech.

Abu Jamal, similar to the likes of Martin Luther King, fought for what he believed in. However, because it did not go against those who could be ‘demonised’, the good old police force, he instead was tarred with the brush of a ‘terrorist’ and removed from public view and contained within ‘a room the size of your bathroom’.

The issue of racial prejudice, has come back into the news recently with the outburst in Ferguson, St. Louis after the death of teenager Michael Brown. Similar to the case of Abu-Jamal, the police officer involved has not been tried in a court of law.

The major problem that has arisen from this is that popular belief is that if the young teenager had been white, there would have been greater repercussions. Or if it had been the police officer, as in the case of Abu-Jamal, Michael Brown would have been charged.

It appears that the police force, can only be the good guys. Even in the wake of Ferguson which has shone another light on racial prejudice, it is almost impossible to challenge the police force, even if it appears that they are breaching human rights. The police in Ferguson were shown to be using tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters.