NEW YORK, N.Y.: Workers killed in “mistaken” raids

Within 48 hours, New York City policemen killed 2 residents in what the department has termed “mistaken” raids.

Alberta Spruill, 57, a city worker, was home in her Harlem apartment when police suddenly raided it on May 16. Cops burst through the door, tossed in a flash grenade and handcuffed Spruill. They had the wrong apartment. She died of cardiac arrest.

The next day, police raided a warehouse in Chelsea looking for a counterfeit compact disc operation. They found West African immigrant Ousmane Zango and fatally shot him. Zango rented out part of the warehouse for his business, repairing African art. An autopsy showed that Zango had been shot in the chest, the abdomen and upper back.

At a press conference May 25, Lt. Eric Adams, a leader of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, called for an investigation independent of the New York City Police Department, and said a trend of police violence exists. “There is a question mark that stands over the Police Department when, in a seven day period, two unarmed civilians are lost to this city at large,” he said.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: High Court rejects deportation cases

The Supreme Court has refused to review a case brought by the North Jersey Media Group, which sought to overturn a lower court ruling barring the media from reporting on secret deportation cases immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. In 2001, 766 immigrants in New York and New Jersey were picked up and jailed, and 505 have been deported so far. Deportation cases had been public record up until September 11, 2001.

Arguing for the First Amendment rights of the media to report on immigration cases, lawyers for the North Jersey Media Group said, “The press and the public have an overwhelming interest in knowing how, and how fairly, its government uses the power of detention and deportation. That is especially true at this moment, when the government has expressly drawn a link between deportation proceedings and the war on terrorism, and has frequently cited the number of non-citizens it has detained as evidence of the investigation’s progress. An individual’s liberty is at stake in a deportation hearing. Yet the government, nonetheless, claims power to hold these proceedings beyond public scrutiny without providing any particulars showing that secrecy is necessary.”

The Court heeded Bush administration Solicitor General Theodore Olson and rejected the case. Olson argued the 2000 Bush v. Gore case where the court anointed George Bush president. During the Reagan administration, Olson, then an assistant attorney general, provided the legal arguments for the firing of 13,000 air traffic controllers in 1981.

LOS ANGELES, Calif.: Ludlow wins council seat

Martin Ludlow, former political director for the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, won a seat in the Los Angeles City Council from the 10th District on May 20.

Ludlow secured 55 percent in a runoff election that followed the March primary. The 10th district, located in the heart of the city, is a blue collar, working-class area where, until recently, African Americans made up the overwhelming majority. The district is the home district of former Mayor Tom Bradley.

Today the city’s largest Korean American community and large numbers of Latino and Asian immigrants live there as well.

The labor movement prioritized this campaign as it had the victorious city council race of former Speaker of the State Assembly and labor leader Antonio Villaraigosa, who was elected in March to represent 14th district in East Los Angeles. On July 1st, the two labor leaders will take office.

LAS VEGAS, Nevada: Teamsters hold organizing conference

Over 1,400 International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) activists from the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico met for the first-ever union conference devoted entirely to organizing unorganized workers, early in May. The conference implements decisions from a 2002 Special Convention, which established a fund of $60 million devoted solely to building the union’s membership.

Opening the conference, IBT President James P. Hoffa said, “The Teamsters must focus all our energy on organizing. We have a high percentage of an industry – we get good contracts. The equation is simple – more numbers equals better contracts.”

Currently the IBT is in merger talks with another union the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, which has 35,000 members.

NEW LONDON, Conn.: Continuing the struggle for peace

A stalwart band of 75 peace activists from throughout the state conducted a four-hour vigil on May 21 outside the main gate of the Coast Guard Academy as George Bush addressed this year’s graduates. Southeast Connecticut Peace and Justice Network organized the event.

The themes of the protest focused on the unconstitutional Bush administration policies: conducting pre-emptive, undeclared war; cutting crucial social programs; declaring a first use of nuclear weapons, resuming research and development of a new class of nuclear weapons.

The vigil took place inside a corral created by the New London police. Many media reporters were there interviewing demonstrators. Vigils keep up the momentum of the peace and justice movement, many felt, even if Bush’s 25-vehicle motorcade didn’t come within eyesight.

National clips are compiled weekly by Denise Winebrenner-Edwards Evelina Alarcon and Bruce Martin contributed to this week’s clips.