Defend Public Housing Activist and Resident Jamie ‘Bork’ Loughner !!
Stop Using the Phony ‘War on Terrorism’ to
Criminalize Free Speech !!
CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE ACTION AT LAFITTE DEVELOPMENT RESULTS IN PEACEFUL PROTESTERS BEING CHARGED WITH TERRORISM.
April 6, 2008
Supporters of the right to return and affordable housing staged a Good Friday protest action at the Lafitte Housing Development in defense of New Orleans’ besieged public housing. The protest action on the corner of North Galvez Street and Orleans Avenue attracted participants from May Day Nola, C3/Hands Off Iberville, Common Ground, New Orleans public housing, and Delgado Community College. A statement read on behalf of May Day Nola demanded an immediate end to the demolition of local public housing, the reopening and reoccupation of all non-occupied public housing units in the city and the immediate passage of Senate Bill 1668.
Mid-way through the protest three housing justice activists-Jamie Loughner, Thomas McManus, Ezekiel Compton-slipped below a barb wired fence, scaled the metal grating of a two-story public housing apartment building and situated themselves on the balcony of an unoccupied apartment. From the balcony, the three urged those at the rally below to pressure the U.S. Senate to pass S.B. 1668. About an hour after the occupation began the NOPD arrived. Police forced protesters to move from the sidewalk closest to the occupied apartment building to the island area about fifty feet from the original sight of the protest. About a half-hour later police arrested Loughner, McManus and Compton. Police charged the three with trespassing, resisting an officer, and unlawful entry into a critical structure. The critical structure law was enacted by the Louisiana legislature as a result of political fallout from the September 11 terrorist attacks. The violation of the anti-terrorist law is a felony.
The day after the Good Friday action, the Lafitte Three were arraigned in front of Orleans Magistrate Marie Bookman in Orleans Parish Prison on the charges noted above. Bookman slapped the three with a maximum bond of $15,000 each. Bookman set these sky high bails despite the fact that McManus and Compton have no criminal record. When an attorney at the hearing drew parallels between the protest activity of the Lafitte Three and the protest activity of Jesse Jackson, Bookman simply dismissed the comparison out of hand.After the hearing Loughner, McManus and Compton were returned to their prison cells where they spent the remainder of Easter Weekend and the following two days.
On Tuesday Criminal District Court Judge Frank Marullo overruled Bookman’s bond decision and ordered the Lafitte Three released on their own recognizance. Compton, Laughner and McManus still face the prospect of being tried for a felony charge. The charge of unlawful entry into a critical infrastructure against three in effect amounts to an attempt by New Orleans authorities to silence the public housing movement by equating civil disobedience with terrorism. Those who cherish democratic rights are urged to join the struggle to stop the railroading of the Lafitte Three.
A meeting to organize the wave of political repression now underway in New Orleans will be held 7pm Thursday(3/27) at St. Jude’s Church. The meeting will be held in Basin Hall in the Church at 410 Basin St.
An Injury to One is an Injury to All !!
February 15, 2008
Jamie ‘Bork’ Loughner, a housing activist, and disabled worker, who has relied on public housing for safe and affordable shelter, was arraigned on a politically inspired charge of possessing a false explosive device in Orleans Parish Criminal Court on January 29th, 2008. The Orleans Parish District Attorney filed the felony charge against Loughner in response to her participation in the December 19th protest that temporarily halted demolition of public housing apartments at the B.W. Cooper Housing Development in New Orleans. The demolition work at Cooper is part of an ongoing plan by HUD, the New Orleans City Council and the New Orleans Mayor--and the real estate and other corporate interests they represent--to destroy 4,500 easily made habitable public housing apartments in storm devastated New Orleans.
Bork and two other local housing activists occupied apartment buildings at the Cooper Development for expressed purposes of stopping the demolition of public housing and to send a message to the New Orleans city council, then preparing for a vote the next day on whether to approve demolition permits for the 4,500 units, that the community did not support destruction of public housing. The DA is accusing Loughner of intentionally making the device used to chain herself to a B.W. Cooper apartment building appear as an explosive device. The unspoken truth is that the DA is treating an act of peaceful civil disobedience as an act of terrorism in the hope of silencing Loughner and other opponents of HUD’s plan to demolish New Orleans public housing.
The case against Loughner rests on the assumption that the device she used to attach herself to the BW Cooper apartment building was intended to look like a bomb. Both police and Loughner agree the device in question was not a bomb. Both police and Loughner agree no explosives or other weapons were in the housing activist’s possession at the time of her arrest. Both police and Loughner agree no attempt was made by the activist to harm others or herself. What authorities refuse to acknowledge is that Loughner took a vow of non-violence when she decided to participate in the December 19th protest. What the DA refuses to acknowledge is that protestors outside the development let police know that Loughner was committed to non-violence. The DA also conveniently omits any reference to the fact that the device Loughner used to bind herself to the building in B.W. Cooper has been used in peaceful civil disobedience actions elsewhere. So, why are Orleans Parish authorities trying to convict Loughner of a criminal threat of violence that did not occur?
The Government’s Real Agenda: Silencing Dissent
By prosecuting Jamie Loughner on a bogus felony charge the masters of Louisiana and Washington send the message that they are waging a dirty war on the democratic rights of the people in New Orleans who resist public housing demolition and ethnic cleansing. Loughner faces a sentence of up to five years in prison if she is convicted of a crime that she most certainly did not commit. The Orleans DA and the corporate and government cheerleaders of ethnic cleansing in New Orleans hope, no doubt, that the railroading of Loughner will silence opposition to the demolition of public housing. They know full well that her protest on December 19th succeeded in bringing demolition at B.W. Cooper to a costly halt. The same forces fear that Loughner’s action will inspire a wave of similarly effective anti-demolition protests. Such a development would pose a huge challenge to HUD’s plan to destroy public housing in New Orleans. Such a development would also signal the emergence of mass and effective opposition to Bush, Nagin, an their fellow government and corporate allies’ attempt to transform post Katrina New Orleans into a model neoliberal city.
Effective defense of Jamie ‘Bork’ Loughner is of critical importance not only for New Orleans’ public housing struggle, but for the struggles of all exploited and oppressed people. If local and national authorities can effectively criminalize dissent against their criminal neoliberal ‘reconstruction’ plans--privatization, union-busting, racial and class cleansing--in post-Katrina New Orleans, they will be emboldened to carry out deeper attacks both at home and abroad. Help build the determined resistance needed to beat back this attack.
We encourage people to help this campaign and show solidarity in many ways, including:
•Inviting Bork or other representatives of the committee to speak to your school, union or community organization •Taking a resolution and/or organize a demonstration demanding the Orleans Parish DA office drop all charges against Bork and stop the harassment, intimidation, and unfairly silencing of opposition to public housing demolition •Sending a donation to the Jamie ‘Bork’ Loughner Defense Committee •Sending supporters to New Orleans to help strengthen the Public Housing movement
Committee to Defend Jamie ‘Bork’ Loughner
Telephone: (202) 246-7665
Endorsers: C3/Hands Of Iberville; Sam Jackson, Public Housing Activist; MayDay New Orleans