U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Appeal of Torture Victims

May 18, 2011

On May 16, the United States Supreme Court denied the petition of five foreign nationals who sued Jeppesen Dataplan, a San Jose-based subsidiary of Boeing that the men accuse of arranging CIA extraordinary rendition flights to countries where they were tortured.

The men had asked the high court to review a sharply divided Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling dismissing their lawsuit filed by the ACLU. The civil liberties group argued that the government is misusing the claim of "state secrets" to deny the men their day in court.

The Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, claimed that the case should be thrown out because trying the suit would reveal state secrets.

But the ACLU countered that that lawsuit is based on publicly available information.

A 2007 Council of Europe report described Jeppesen as the CIA's aviation services provider. A court declaration in the men's legal challenge quotes a Jeppesen manager as telling colleagues in 2006 that the company arranged the CIA's "torture flights."

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Five men accused a San Jose-based company of arranging CIA extraordinary rendition flights to countries where they were tortured

Wherever There's a Fight on New America Now Radio Program

November 12, 2009

Wherever There's a Fight co-author, Stan Yogi, spoke with Sandip Roy, host of New America Now: Dispatches from the New Majority.  The interview was broadcast on San Francisco's KALW radio on Friday, November 6, and again on Sunday, November 8.  Listen to the interview by clicking on the button below.

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Listen to Wherever There's a Fight co-author Stan Yogi being interviewed by Sandip Roy of KALW's New America Now.

Veterans Censored at Military Parade

Military police assaulted and held members of a veterans group participating in a San Francisco parade welcoming home soldiers from the first Gulf War. The reason for the assault: the police did not like the messages on the veterans' banners.


Dianne Feinstein Attempts to Restore Due Process Rights

March 1, 2012

On February 29, Calfornia Senator Dianne Feinstein chaired a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on legislation she is sponsoring to protect due process rights that are threatened by the National Defense Authorization Act, which President Obama signed on December 31.

That law allows the military to arrest, detain, and indefinitely imprison anyone in the U.S. suspected of terrorism without charges or trials. 

Feinstein's bill would protect the due process rights of American citizens and legal residents but not of business travelers, tourists, undocumented immigrants or others who are not U.S. citizens or green card holders.

Thus far, 24 senators have co-sponsored the legislation.

Feinstein has compared the controversial provision of the National Defense Authorization Act to the 1942 Executive Order that authorized the military to exclude people from any part of the U.S.  That order was the basis for the mass incarceration, without charges or trials, of Japanese Americans during World War II.

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Her legislation addresses a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act allowing the military to arrest and imprison Americans without charges or trials.

U.S. Court of Appeals Dismisses Torture Lawsuit

September 9, 2010

A divided Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals voted 6-5 to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of five men who said that they were tortured after the CIA transported them to foreign prisons. Jeppesen Dataplan, a subsidiary of Boeing, was accused of providing flight planning and logistical support for the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.

The Obama administration had argued that the case should be thrown out because trying the suit would reveal state secrets. The majority of the appellate court panel agreed, but with hesitation.

In April 2009, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit had ruled unanimously that the case should move foward and that the government could only invoke the state secrets argument in relation to specific evidence, not the entire case.

It was this decision that the government successfully appealed to the full circuit court.

The ACLU said it would appeal this latest ruling to the United State Supreme Court.

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San Jose-based Jeppesen Dataplan was the target of the lawsuit challenging the government's extraordinary rendition program. 

Against The Grain

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December 16, 2009

Hear an interview of Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi by C.S. Soong, host of Against the Grain, which aired on KPFA.


Tenth Anniversary Edition of "Wherever There's a Fight" to be Released

September 24, 2019

Heyday is proud to announce the publication of the Tenth Anniversary edition of Wherever There’s A Fight:  How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California

According to Heyday publisher Steve Wasserman, "Ten years ago, Heyday published Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi's stirring compendium of California heroes, both sung and unsung, who down the decades demonstrated exemplary courage fighting the good fight to ensure civil liberties for all Californians and in so doing helped put the golden state at the forefront of a better, more just America. The stories they tell so well are needed now more than ever and this tenth anniversary edition is designed to reach readers everywhere, young and old alike, to inspire and provide hope for new generations of citizens who continue to fulfill the promise of the California--nay, American, dream."

November 5 release date set for special anniversary edition of award-winning book whose stories of civil liberties struggles are all the more relevant now.

Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt Dies

June 4, 2011

Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt. a leader of the Southern California branch of the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s, died in Tanzania on June 3 at the age of 63.

Pratt, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, moved to Los Angeles from rural Louisiana in 1968 and quickly became a leader of the Black Panther Party, which was founded in 1966 by Oakland activists Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, and David Hilliard in the aftermath of Malcolm X's assasination and violent clashes between police and African Americans in South Central Los Angeles.

Inspired by liberation struggles of African, Asian, and Latin American counties, the Black Panthers advocated armed self-defense against police abuse. From its base in Oakland, the party grew to a nationwide membership.

The Black Panthers and Pratt specifically were targets of the FBI's notorious counter-intelligence program, COINTELPRO, whose purpose was to infiltrate, disrupt, and discredit organizations that J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime director of the FBI, considered subversive.

The FBI created divisions within the Black Panthers and between the Panthers and other African American organizations.

Pratt was the target of a frame-up for the 1968 killing of a young woman in Santa Monica. He was convicted and spent more than 25 years in prison.

His struggle for a re-trial drew support from Amnesty International, Nelson Mandela, Coretta Scott King, members of Congress, and the ACLU.

Pratt was eventually freed after an Orange County judge hearing Pratt's fifth petition to re-open his case ruled that a key witness during Pratt's 1972 trial had committed purjury and was an FBI informant.

In 2000, Pratt received a $4.5 million settlement from the FBI and Los Angeles Police Department for his wrongful imprisionment.

Pratt had been living in Arusha Tanzania for several years and worked with the United African Alliance Community Center, a youth organization.

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The former Los Angeles Black Panther leader was wrongfully convicted of a 1968 murder and spent more than 25 years in prison

Two Supreme Court Justices Critical of State Initiatives

February 20, 2010

State Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno expressed concern that fundamental rights can be changed by a simple majority vote through California's initiative process. Moreno was part of the four justice majority that in May 2008 struck down California laws banning same-sex marriages. Six months later, 52% of voters passed Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages. Moreno was the sole dissenter when the court upheld Proposition 8 in May 2009. In his dissent, he wrote that the court's decision "places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities." 

In a recent interview, he commented that voters can be misinformed by initiative campaigns, and that the initiative process, unlike the deliberative legislative process, does not benefit from review by fact-finding committees.

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Within days, Chief Justice Ronald George, in a speech at Stanford Law School, was highly critical of California's initiative process. He suggested reforms, such as prohibiting changes to the constitution through initiatives.

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The initiative process has been significant in shaping and misshaping civil liberties in California. It began as a progressive tool in 1911 to ensure that legislators controlled by the railroads and big business would not block laws benefitting the majority of Californians. The first initiatives granted women the right to vote, established a limit on working hours for women and children, and set a minimum wage.

But inititatives have been used more often to deny rights. In 1920, voters approved three to one the "Alien Land Law" initiative, prohibiting Japanese immigrants from leasing land. Proposition 14 passed by a margin of two to one in 1964. That initiative amended the state constitution to rescind existing fair housing laws and prohibited the legislature from passing future laws to prevent racial discrimination in housing. In 1967, the United States Supreme Court struck down the proposition as a violation of the federal constitution.  In 1994, voters approved Proposition 187, which required state programs, including public schools and public health services, to deny aid to undocumented immigrants.  A court injunction prevented the law from going into effect.  And in 1996, the passage of Proposition 209 outlawed affirmative action in state programs.

Within a week, state supreme court Chief Justice Ronald George and Associate Justice Carlos Moreno expressed concerns about California's initiative system.

UC Davis Reaches $1 Million Settlement with Pepper-Sprayed Students

September 29, 2012

The University of California agreed to a $1 million settlement in a federal class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of non-violent UC Davis student protestors whom campus police repeatedly doused with military grade pepper spray at close range. The November 18, 2011 incident drew international outrage.

Twenty-one students and recent alumni will receive $30,000 each and an apology from the university's chancellor.

The lawsuit charged that the police violated state and federal constitutional protections, including the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, when they arrested and used excessive force against the non-violent demonstrators. The UC Regents approved the settlement in a September 13 meeting. A federal court judge must approve the settlement before it is finalized.

A task force that the University created to investigate and analyze the response to the protestors concluded in an extensive report that “The pepper spraying incident that took place on November 18, 2011 should and could have been prevented,” and found culpability at all levels of the University administration and police force.

On November 18, 2011, students gathered in the quad on the UC Davis campus to demonstrate against ongoing tuition hikes, as well as the brutal treatment of demonstrators at UC Berkeley. UC Davis campus police arrived in riot gear and officers threatened students who were seated on the quad and ordered them to disperse. When students remained seated to continue their demonstration, a UC Davis police officer repeatedly sprayed the line of protesters with pepper spray at point-blank range, while scores of other officers looked on. Another officer sprayed the demonstrators from behind.

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In addition to payments to students, the university will issue a formal apology and will create new policies on student demonstrations, crowd management, and use of force.
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