27 November 2012

Ashley Williams Trial Postponed

Ashley Williams will NOT be going to trial tomorrow, Wednesday, Nov. 28. At the request of the prosecution, the trial is being postponed. No new date has been set.

According to Paul G., an attorney in the Henrico law firm of Morrissey and Goldman, which now is representing Ms. Williams, the lead prosecutor in the case told the court she had a family emergency involving her mother. It may be months before a new trial is held. The next milestone in the now three-year-old case will likely be a bail hearing, probably within weeks. Mobilizing for that hearing will be critical to Ms. Williams being released from Richmond City Jail, where she has been held for more than a year.

Ms. Williams is charged with second-degree homicide and felony child neglect in the death of her two-year-old son D'Sean, who was severely underweight when he died. Supporters have pointed out that three close relatives also have young sons who are dangerously underweight, raising the possibility that D'Sean was suffering from a genetic disease. At any rate, there is no evidence of Ms. Williams having neglected either D'Sean or any of his three siblings, all of whom are healthy. And yet Richmond's Commonwealth's Attorney's office filed charges against Ms. Williams before D'Sean's autopsy report was even issued. That report stated D'Sean died from malnutrition, but said the cause was “undetermined.” There was no evidence of any neglect.

The decision to postpone the trial was made on Nov. 26, according to King Salim Khalfani, Executive Director of the Virginia State Conference NAACP, who along with other longtime Richmond Black activists has played a key role in building support for Ms. Williams. That decision came just as new support has been building for Ms. Williams.

For weeks now, several of the women's rights activists responsible for turning out large numbers of women and male supporters earlier this year to oppose restrictions on abortion rights have been meeting and discussing the implications for the women's rights movement of the Ashley Williams case, which involves issues of race, class and gender. If women are truly to be free to choose whether or not to have a child, they must have the means to raise a child, which means access to good, affordable health care. A statement by women's rights activists calling for the public to attend the Nov. 28 trial was released to the media Nov. 27. Among the statement's endorsers was the Richmond chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Information about Ms. Williams' next court hearing will be shared as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, please make sure this case stays in the public consciousness by discussing it with your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.

Phil Wilayto

Editor, The Virginia Defender

Support Ashley Williams Nov. 28 -- http://www.facebook.com/SupportAshleyWilliamsNov28?fref=tsAshley Williams Court Support- POSTPONED -- http://www.facebook.com/events/499412266765534/

19 November 2012

Cuban Film Premier Tonight!

Film and Discussion Program TONIGHT, 11/19: at William Byrd Community House 7-9pm. 

Cuban Filmmaker Gloria Rolando and Cuban National Archivist Dr. Tomas Fernandez Robaina to discuss the premier screening of  Rolando's 1912 - Voces Para Un Silencio (Breaking the Silence) about the Cuban government's massacre of 6,000 AfroCubans and members of the Independent Party of Color. Presented by Lee C. Robinson (African Awareness Association) and Roberto Zurbano is the editor/publisher of "Casa de las Americas," a Havana-based cultural institution that publishes the works of writers, artists, musicians, and playwrights as well as scholars of literature, the arts, and social sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Historic Note: This program will also welcome Special Guest Speaker: Patricia L. Pego Guerra, First Secretary, Cuban Interests Section to Washington, DC - permitted for the first time to travel out of the DC area.
Tickets $10 at Eventbrite or at the door.

2nd Program on Tuesday night, 11/20: at Elegba Folklore Society, 6-9pm. Tickets $10 at Eventbrite or at the door.

Much more information about this story, the film, and the US tour of this delegation is available at http://afrocubaweb.com/cubanscholarsvisitus.htm.

Upcoming on DefendersLIVE

Nov. 26: Family and Activists in Defense of Ashley Williams
White and Black Women are coming together to demonstrate solidarity and support for a young African American mother being driven into prison by a system more interested in scapegoating than in knowing the truth being sought in the death of her youngest child. Trial date: Nov. 

Dec. 3: Afro-Columbian Human Rights Campaign (ACHRC)
Pre-recorded interview with Charo Minas-Rojas, U.S. host of Francia Marques, an Afro-Colombian community leader from La Toma, a community of artisanal miners settled in 1636 by Africans, who spoke at the School of the America’s annual vigil at Fort Benning, Georgia, during the weekend of Nov. 16-18.
Learn more in English: www.afrocolombianhr.org
Learn more in Spanish: www.renacientes.org

05 November 2012

What's Happening Soon:

11/5: Forum: Working Peoples Movements - VCU Commons at 907 Floyd Ave., 7pm. Sponsored by VCU Students for a Democrtic Society
11/6: Election Day - 7M -7PM
11/8: Housing in Segregation - UR Downtown at 6:30pm - panel discussion with Shawn Utsey, John Moeser, Rev. Ben Campbell, moderated by Ana Edwards, HOME & Virginia Poverty Law Center sponsored.
11/9: A Community Course in African American Studies - 6:30 pm at East District Family Resource Center, Church Hill
11/22: Thanksgiving Feast - www.thegivingheart.org

11/28: Ashley Williams' Trial - at John Marshall Courts Building. Details and Facebook event coming soon.

07 October 2012

Upcoming Events

Sat., Sun., Oct. 6-7 – Second Street Festival – From the organizers: “... one of the Mid-Atlantic's largest street festivals. Nearly 50,000 people visit historic Jackson Ward to reminisce about the days when 2nd Street was the heart and soul of Richmond's African American community. Attendees enjoy jazz, R&B, fashion shows, gospel music, the children’s area and performances by community groups on four stages. They also enjoy the marketplace, delicious food and reuniting with family, friends, classmates and acquaintances.” Sponsored (unfortunately) by Altria (cancer-causing cigarettes) and Dominion (high electric bills and dangerous nuclear power plants). Information at:http://www.venturerichmond.com

Sun., Oct. 7 – Public Forum: “U.S. HANDS OFF SYRIA, IRAN & MALI! We need JOBS not WAR!" – Is the U.S. preparing to attack Syria & Iran? Is it preparing to intervene in the West African country of Mali? Can we stand by as the lives of millions more people are put at risk? If there's no money for a public jobs program, how is there money for more wars? What's really behind the developing crises, and what can we do about it? On the 11th ANNIVERSARY OF THE U.S. WAR ON AFGHANISTAN, you are invited to a PUBLIC FORUM to address these and other issues. With a special showing of the documentary “Rethinking Afghanistan.” 6:30 p.m., William Byrd Community House, 224 So. Cherry St. (2 ½ blocks south of West Cary & 3 blocks west of So. Belvidere), Richmond, Virginia. Free, donations appreciated. Children welcome. Light refreshments. Sponsored by The Virginia Defendernewspaper and the DefendersLIVE! radio program. Information:http://www.facebook.com/events/458022344238368/

Thurs., Oct. 18 – Autumn issue of The Virginia Defender – Look for it at your local barber shop, beauty parlor, church, mosque, corner grocery store and all branches of the Richmond Public Library. Online at www.DefendersFJE.org.
To help support the work of The Virginia Defender, please send a check or money order payable to “Virginia Defender” to: “Defender, PO Box 23202, Richmond, VA 23223.” Or contribute through PayPal at www.DefendersFJE.org.

10 September 2012

Sept.13 Sentencing on Ashley Williams 2nd case

Thu., Sept. 13 – Sentencing hearing for Ashley Williams – 10 am, Courtroom 311, John Marshall Court Building, 400 N. 9th St., downtown Richmond. Ashley Williams will go to trial on Nov. 30 on charges connected with the tragic death of her 2-year-old son D'Sean. Richmond's Commonwealth's Attorney's office is trying to put her away for many years for supposedly allowing D'Sean to starve to death. There is no evidence for this, but there is evidence that D'Sean suffered from an undiagnosed genetic disease that can prevent the body from processing food. Three of D'Sean's close relatives exhibit signs of the same disease. Mass community support has so far kept the courts from railroading Ms. Williams, but we can't let up in this struggle.
The sentencing hearing on Sept. 13 deals with a separate case. On July 17, Ms. Williams pleaded guilty to an unrelated charge, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. At the time of her arrest on that charge, she had lost her son D'Sean, then her other three children were taken away by Social Services, she had lost her job because of the publicity around her homicide and neglect charges and her family had had to pay out $8,000 in bond money. She was depressed and broke, without a way to earn a living. We need to turn out for this sentencing hearing so that the court knows her supporters have not abandoned her.

05 August 2012

Interview: Mayor of Segou, Richmond's Sister City in Republic of Mali

Defender Interview with Ousmane Simaga, Mayor of Segou, Republic of Mali
By Phil Wilayto
Translation by Ana Edwards

RICHMOND, VA; Aug. 1, 2012 – Ousmane Simaga is the mayor of Segou, the second largest city in the Republic of Mali, West Africa. The city of 135,000 is located in southern Mali near a bend of the Niger River, just as Richmond, with its 204,000 people, sits on a bend of the James. Segou and Richmond have an official Sister City relationship. It's not the only connection. As pointed out by local Richmond columnist Michael Paul Williams, the majority of Africans brought to Virginia to be sold into slavery came from the nine West African countries that once were part of the great Malian Empire.

Mayor Simaga was in Richmond from July 24 to Aug. 1 to try and raise funds to help deal with a humanitarian crisis now facing his city. Since March, 7,238 people, nearly 4,000 of them children, have arrived in Segou, displaced by the civil war raging hundreds of miles to the north.  CLICK HERE TO READ FULL INTERVIEW

09 July 2012

Cooling Shelter Information

City cooling shelters are opened when the temperature and/or heat index reaches or exceeds 95 degrees

For more information regarding cooling services, residents can contact the Department of Social Services Fuel Assistance Office at (804) 646-7046. Elderly residents with heat related issues can contact the Adult Protective Service Unit at (804) 646-0501. In the event of a heat related emergency, please call 9-1-1.

All residents should take measures to stay hydrated and avoid prolonged exposure to the heat during the day.

Public announcements (tv, radio and newspaper) are published when cooling shelters are to be opened. Always double-check!

City cooling shelters are opened when the temperature and/or heat index reaches or exceeds 95 degrees.
Typically city cooling shelters will open from Noon to 5 p.m.during the week and are located at:
  • Southside Community Services Center, 4100 Hull Street Road
  • Department of Social Services, 900 East Marshall Street
  • East District Center, 701 North 25th Street 
Shelters were open last weekend (July 6-8)  from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., located at:
  • Southside Community Services Center, 4100 Hull Street Road
  • Department of Social Services, 900 East Marshall Street
Bottled water will be available, but food will not be provided. Pets, with the exception of service animals, are not allowed.

For more information regarding cooling services, residents can contact the Department of Social Services Fuel Assistance Office at (804) 646-7046. Elderly residents with heat related issues can contact the Adult Protective Service Unit at (804) 646-0501. In the event of a heat related emergency, please call 9-1-1.

02 July 2012

DefendersLIVE, weekly on WRIR 97.3 FM, Monday at Noon, live streamed at WRIR.org.
Back in the seat of the Live Room Studio B, your host will chat about the week's issues. On her mind today: the myriad of terms born every 20 years or so to justify displacement of poor people from their homes, even a reach back to when that meant displacement of our primal homes (our lives). If we don't assert the collective right to self-determination of our oppressed bodies (aka human rights) what have we?

25 June 2012

Today on DefendersLIVE

Part 2 of 2-part interview with Lois Leveen, author of "The Secrets of Mary Bowser"- Continuing the conversation about Mary Bowser's work with Elizabeth Van Lew as a Civil War Union spy in the White House of the Confederacy. Why would an educated, free Black woman in Philadelphia risk all to return to the city of her birth, and her enslavement, to do this work? How is a culture of secret-keeping a key to survival while enslaved as well as in espionage... Why symbolic truth is as important for the oppressed as it is for the oppressor...

Tune in at 12 noon - live streamed at WRIR.org or on your radio at 97.3 FM (LP).

You can hear past shows at DefendersLIVEradio.blogspot.com (2011-2012) and Radio4all.net (2011 and earlier)
Comments or questions? Email defenderslivehost@gmail.com

18 June 2012

Emergency Court Watch: All Out for Ashley Williams, Tues. June 19 at 3pm

Attention Defenders & Friends!!

The Coalition for Justice has just learned that Judge Richard Taylor has scheduled the sentencing hearing for Ashley Williams. for tomorrow, June 19, 2012, at 3pm, at the John Marshall Courts Building, 400 N. 9th Street. We do not know the room number, but it will be posted in the lobby.

It is critical that everyone who can attend this hearing.
We must speak out against this miscarriage of justice!

Supporters include the Coalition for Justice, VA NAACP, Defenders, and Alliance for Progressive Values.
For background on the case, visit DefendersFJE.org
Today on DefendersLIVE: part 1 of 2 part interview with Lois Leveen, author of "The Secrets of Mary Bowser"- A conversation about this historical novel based on the limited historical record available about her work with Elizabeth Van Lew as a Civil War Union spy in the White House of the Confederacy providing information to the Union Army from the desk of Jefferson Davis... Why would an educated free Black woman in Philadelphia risk all to return to the city of her birth, and her enslavement, to do this work?

Tune in at 12 noon - live streamed at WRIR.org or on your radio at 97.3 FM (LP). More on DefendersLIVE at defendersliveradio.blogspot.com

01 June 2012

UPDATE ON THE ASHLEY WILLIAMS CASE – The court hearing to decide on Ms. Williams' request to be represented by attorney Pauline Ewald will NOT take place this Monday, June 4. What will happen Monday – by email – will be deciding the DATE for the court hearing. We should know that date by Monday afternoon, and will post and send out the information.

An explanation: A June 4 hearing is listed on the Virginia Courts Case Information website (http://ping.fm/DiYZP), the standard site reporters use to find out the progress of cases. But Ms. Ewald has told us that an actual hearing will not take place on that day. There has been confusion about hearings in the past, so, just to double-check, I stopped by the court clerk's office yesterday, and was told the same thing.

Hopefully, everyone who had planned to attend a June 4 hearing will be able to make the new date. If Ms. Williams is granted her request, Ms. Ewald will then ask the court to allow Ms. Williams to withdraw her guilty plea and let the case go to trial, under a new judge. If Ms. Williams is denied her right to be represented by the counsel of her choice, the case will go back to Judge Richard Taylor – not for a trial, but for sentencing. Ms. Williams is facing up to 45 years in prison for a crime she did not commit, so a big turnout for the court hearing will be crucial to prevent a major miscarriage of justice.

Look for a public statement to be jointly issued soon by the state NAACP, the Defenders and the Coalition for Justice, a group of longtime Richmond Black activists that is playing the leading role in supporting Ms. Williams right to a fair trial.


The Defenders also are urging everyone to support the courageous Virginia prisoners carrying out a hunger strike at the notorious Red Onion State prison. (See http://ping.fm/24TXg)


28 May 2012

DefendersLIVE May 28:
On Tuesday, May 22, a group of prisoners held in Virginia's notorious Red Onion Super-Max prison began a hunger strike to demand that the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) follow its own regulations in regard to meals, sanitation, isolation, safety and procedures for processing prisoner grievances. To support these courageous prisoners, a press conference was held Wed., May 23 at 11 a.m. outside DOC headquarters in Richmond, sponsored by the Richmond chapter of SPARC (Supporting Prisoners and Advocating for Radical Change). (See: http://ping.fm/C1S0U). SPARC members Isis Hodari, Adam Ryan and Joshua DePaolis provided an update and background on this struggle and SPARC's goals for radical change in our nation's prison industrial system.


Solidarity with Red Onion State Prison Hunger Strikers - Letter-Writing Party - http://ping.fm/cdVva
Vigil in Solidarity with Hunger Strikers - http://ping.fm/WmJ3t

21 May 2012

May 21 on DefendersLIVE

(and certainly not multiple wars):
  1. Ashley Williams: 9 am, Monday, June 4, in Courtroom 302 of the John Marshall Courts Building, 400 N. 9th St. in downtown Richmond. Young mother unjustly convicted of starving her child to death seeks the right to the legal counsel of her choice - see Va Defender report on Court Watch tab above.
  2. May 25 - Court date for 33 women’s rights protesters arrested at Capitol
  3. Mayor's Anti-Poverty Commission hearings 
    • TONIGHT: 6-8pm at Calhoun Center in Gilpin Court
    • WED, 6-8pm at Southside Community Center
  4. Richmond Public Schools Rezoning Hearings - 6:30 pm on May 29 at George Wythe High School (4314 Crutchfield St., 23225, 804-780-5037) and May 31 at John Marshall High School (4225 Old Brook Rd, 23227). RPS School Board Meeting scheduled for June 18 at 7pm at City Hall, 900 E. Marshall St. 
  5. June 15: Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP) Hearing in Glen Allen Dept. of Health. Link to Virginia Coalition to Protect Women's Health comments on the impact of Senate Bill 924 
DefendersLIVE airs Noon on Mondays, WRIR 97.3 lp fm
Rebroadcast Tuesdays at 11 and 2 at www.wrir.org

14 May 2012

DefendersLIVE today: Part 2 of the Interview with Naseem Rakha, journalist and author of The Crying Tree, a novel about the death penalty and its impact on the victim, the workers, the guilty, and its essential impotence as a crime prevention tool in our society. Noon on 97.3 LP FM and live streamed on www.WRIR.org.

29 April 2012

Come Tell How Slavery and Emancipation Should be Remembered.

Elegba Folklore Society
Richmond, VA 23219


23 April 2012

Former U.S. Army Col. and now Peace Activist
ANN WRIGHT to speak May 5 in Richmond

The Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality will host a talk by noted peace activist Ann Wright on Saturday, May 5, 7 pm, at the William Byrd Community House, 224 So. Cherry St., Richmond, Va.
Ann Wright is a former U.S. Army colonel who publicly resigned from the military over her opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. She has since become an internationally known anti-war activist and speaker. She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience; Government Insiders Speak Out Against the War in Iraq,” which includes a forward by Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame.
Ms. Wright will speak on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and the human and economic cost of U.S. wars and occupations on our communities here at home. Her presentation will be preceded by reports on community efforts to support Ashley Williams, a young Richmonder wrongfully convicted in connection with the tragic death of her two-year-old son; Richmond's celebration of International Workers Day (May Day); and recent events in the West African country of Mali.
The meeting is free and open to the public. Children are welcome. Donations to help cover costs are appreciated.
The Richmond event is part of a four-city tour by Ann Wright. Other stops will be in Charlottesville on May 3, Roanoke on May 4 and Hampton Roads on May 6. For more information, call the Defenders at 804-644-5834, e-mail DefendersFJE@hotmail.com or log onto www.DefendersFJE.org or www.DefendersFJE.blogspot.com.


Ann Wright, a former U.S. Army colonel and decorated State Department official, is now a leading anti-war activist, author and outspoken opponent of U.S. wars and occupations.
In 1987, Col. Wright joined the Foreign Service and served as a Deputy Ambassador in Micronesia, Mongolia and in Sierra Leone, where she received the State Department’s Award for Heroism for her actions during the evacuation of 2,500 people during Sierra Leone's civil war. In December 2001, she helped reopen the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan. Her other overseas assignments included Somalia, Kyrgyzstan, Grenada and Nicaragua.
While on assignment in Sierra Leone, she assisted in bringing a Gullah family from South Carolina to Sierra Leone to their African village in a trip documented in the film “The Language You Cry In.” She also helped with the homecoming to Sierra Leone of a family of direct descendants of a young girl taken from Sierra Leone in 1756 into slavery and whose family was located 250 years later in Charleston, South Carolina.
On March 19, 2003, the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Col. Wright cabled Secretary of State Colin Powell to inform him that she was resigning from the military and the State Department because of her opposition to the impending invasion and occupation.
Since then, she has been writing and speaking out for peace with a courageous eloquence that has earned her the respect of the entire anti-war movement. She has picketed at the notorious U.S. prison at Guantánamo, Cuba; served as a juror in community-based impeachment hearings of former President George W. Bush; traveled to Iran as part of a delegation of peace activists; and has been arrested numerous times for peaceful, nonviolent protest of U.S. policies, particularly the war on Iraq. She has travelled several times to Gaza in Palestine and was an organizer for the Gaza Freedom March that brought 1,350 people from 44 countries to Egypt in solidarity with the people of Gaza. She was on the May 2010 peace flotilla to Gaza that was attacked by the Israeli military, resulting in the deaths of nine international peace activists. And she was an organizer for the Audacity of Hope, the U.S. peace boat in the 2011 Gaza flotilla.
Ann Wright grew up in Bentonville, Arkansas, receiving a master’s and law degree from the University of Arkansas. She also has a master’s degree in national security affairs from the U.S. Naval War College. She spent 13 years in the U.S. Army and 16 more in the Army Reserves, retiring with the rank of colonel. She now lives in Honolulu.

Founded in 2002, the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality is an all-volunteer community organization based in Richmond, Va. Among other activities, we publish The Virginia Defender, a statewide quarterly newspaper with a press run of 16,000; produce DefendersLIVE!, a news and commentary radio program heard Mondays from noon to 12:30 pm on WRIR community radio, 97.3 FM and online at www.wrir.org; and sponsor the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project. The Defenders are affiliated with the United National Antiwar Coalition. See www.DefendersFJE.org and www.DefendersFJE.blogspot.com.
DefendersLIVE: Today's topic: the upcoming May Day commemorations with guest was Nathan Stickel of the Flying Brick Library, a 9-year old community library of radical literature. Info about the library and May Day activities can be found at flyingbrickrva.wordpress.com and richmondiww.org. Today's show will be rebroadcast ONLINE at WRIR.org Tuesday at 11am and 2pm.

09 April 2012

Today on DefendersLIVE: Remembering Slavery, Resistance & Freedom is a project to gain community input and assistance for discovery and reclamation of sites of cultural and historical of meaning to African descended peoples of Virginia. Dr. Michael L. Blakey, director of the Institute for Historical Biology, College of William & Mary, will elaborate on this project, cemeteries, community engagement and decision-making. WRIR 97.3 LP FM at 12noon.

02 April 2012

Defenders Public Meeting: The Case of Trayvon Martin

Dear friends,

The fatal February shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin has produced a firestorm of protest across the country, including here in Richmond.

As a follow-up to organizing the 300-strong March 22 vigil at Richmond's African Burial Ground and supporting the 700-strong March 26 vigil at VCU, the Defenders are honored to host longtime human rights activist Ajamu Baraka, founder of the U.S. Human Rights Network, who will be speaking on the case of Trayvon Martin in the context of the deepening political and social crisis in the United States. (Please see the attached bio.)

The presentation will take place at the Defenders' regular monthly meeting: 7-9 pm, Monday, April 2, at the William Byrd Community House, 224 S. Cherry St. (just south of VCU). If you have questions please call 804-644-5834. DO NOT CALL William Byrd, they are the host site, not the organizers of this meeting)

We are inviting our friends and allies to join us at this event, especially those Occupy Richmond, Occupy the Hood and the developing campaign for Justice for Trayvon Martin.

We will also have a special report on the March 23-25 conference of the United National Antiwar Coalition in Stamford, Conn., at which the Defenders presented workshops on Black leadership in the anti-war movement, and the threat of a new war, this time with Iran.

Hope to see you there!

29 March 2012

Sacred Ground Project at Lumpkin's Jail

Civil War & Emancipation Day is April 14, 2012
Visit http://civilwar.emancipationday.net/ for schedule.

Sacred Ground will have a table at the Lumpkin's Jail site and make a presentation at 1:30.
Information about the Remembering Slavery Resistance & Freedom and educational materials will be available, including surveys to gather community input on the Burial Ground memorialization and commemorating Emancipation.

Civil War & Emancipation Day is a signature event of The Future of Richmond's Past, a collaborative effort among leaders of Richmond’s historical societies, museums, commissions, cultural and tourism organizations, and educational institutions to frame the upcoming sesquicentennial years in which our city and the nation will commemorate the anniversaries of the Civil War and Emancipation.

The Future of Richmond's Past sponsors public programs, special events, and inclusive conversations to advance a better understanding of our City’s shared history.

Add the Civil War & Emancipation Day event to your .

26 March 2012

NOTICE!! Slave Trail Commission Resolution Postponed to April 17 Land Use Committee meeting for discussion and April 30 City Council meeting for vote.
11 am PRESS CONFERENCE to be held at VA NAACP Office on Graham Road behind VUU (off Brook Rd) - called by Va State Conference NAACP, King Salim Khalfani. Speakers to include Mr. Khalfani, Sa'ad El-Amin who has drafted a detailed description of the procedural problems of the Slave Trail Commission, members of the Sacred Ground Project, African Burial Ground Community Organizing Committee, Defenders and Virginia Defender Newspaper.
12 noon today: DefendersLIVE topic: Trayvon Martin and His Murder - LIVE on WRIR.org or 97.3 Lp FM

24 March 2012

UNAC anti-war conference underway. Anti-war Strategies from Black Community Organizations workshop begins at 10:45am. UNACpeace.org

14 March 2012

March Roots to Roots at WBCH: Unknown No Longer is the Virginia Slave Name Database - a breakthrough resource with 4,000 names now online for family history research. This exciting development in archival materials access is being led by Dr. Lauranett Lee, first African American intern at the Virginia Historical Society and its inaugural curator of Virginia's African American History. Meet Dr. Lee and learn about this wonderful resource. RSVP by Friday, Mar. 16: 643-2717 ext. 306 or byrdhousemarket@gmail.com.

06 March 2012

Bust at Va Capitol is Attack on Women and Rehearsal for Urban Control

The first of the more than 30 people arrested yesterday at the Virginia State Capitol were arraigned on Monday, March 5 at 9 am, at the Manchester Courthouse, 900 Hull St. on South Side. Another group will be arraigned at 9 am on Friday, March 16. The Defenders are urging everyone who can to please attend these hearings as they are scheduled and support these courageous champions of women's rights.

These folks, most of them women, were part of a rally and march of around 1,000 people protesting the arch-reactionary bills now being promoted in the General Assembly, including but not limited to the bill that would force women to have - and pay for - an ultrasound exam before being able to get an abortion.

The 30-plus people were arrested while peacefully sitting on the steps of the Virginia State Capitol. Though they were nonviolent and made no threat of violence, the police showed up ready for war. There were Capitol police, state troopers in full riot gear and cops in green fatigues with automatic weapons. Those arrested were herded onto police buses and driven to the 9th Street lock-up. The men were processed first and released within a relatively short time. Most of the charges seem to be trespassing and unlawful assembly.

The cops reserved their vindictiveness for the women, who were kept on their bus for from five to nine hours, handcuffed. Some of the women suffered wrist injuries because of the tightness of the cuffs. For all this time they were givenno water and no toilet breaks. One woman had to relieve herself at the back of the bus. After many complaints, the cops finally put a bucket on the bus and told the women to use that as a toilet. This information comes from several interviews I did today with some of the women who were on the bus.

The way these brave people were treated, especially the women, is an outrage and demands a strong response from all those who believe in freedom and justice. Please try to attend the arraignments. And please call the office of Gov. Robert McDonnell and tell him how you feel about this outrage, the latest in a long line being carried out against 99% of Virginians by the racist, sexist and thoroughly anti-working-class 1%.

DefendersLIVE Radio will host two of the women arrested to talk about what happens and what this anti-woman legislation could mean for all of us: Monday, March 12 at Noon on 97.3 LP WRIR FM Richmond. Streamed live on WRIR.org and restreamed on Tuesdays at 11am and 1pm.

20 February 2012

Thanks for being patient and staying with us. Thanks to Alex and Harvey for sorting out the problem and getting DefendersLIVE back on the air in 5 minutes!
and meanwhile right now:

CALL FOR ACTION: On Feb 20th at 11 am, we call for 500 women (but men are very welcome and wanted!) to line either side of the walkway between the General Assembly building and the Capitol in SILENCE as our Senators and Representatives pass between the two buildings several times day to work on passing bills oppressive to women and reproductive rights. **Please note that the legislators WILL be in session on Feb 20!**

We are there to tell our elected representatives: Support women's rights to control their bodies! Don't enact oppressive Anti-choice (what pro-life really means) laws!

A RALLY will follow at 2pm at the Bell Tower with supportive Senators, Delegates, and women's rights leaders.
Please try to attend this important meeting, which will have major consequences for the future of Richmond's African Burial Ground and the rest of Shockoe Bottom:

Land Use Committee Meeting
3 pm, Tuesday, Feb. 21
Council Chambers (2nd floor)
Richmond City Hall
900 E. Broad St.
Richmond, Va.

New resolution seeks to eliminate term limits, reduce commission from 17 to 13 members, and make 8 of those 13 ex-officio. This will formally remove this commission's decision-making processes from public awareness or accountability.
Technical difficulties on today's DefendersLIVE. Please bear with us as our engineers work on it.
host, Ana Edwards

19 February 2012


Monday, 20 Feb. at the Virginia GENERAL Assembly
11am SILENT VIGIL followed by 2pm RALLY at the BELL TOWER
Temperature at 11am: 40 F / Temperature at 2pm: 45 F

13 February 2012

"Black-Red Relations Today: Racism, Genocide, Vital Statistics and Recovery" with Anita & Hugh Harrell of the Weyanoke Association.
This is a call in show between 12:20 and 12:40: 804.649-9737. From Nottoway to Cherokee, from Plecker to RACE: Are we really so different
From Genocide and Marginalization to Self-Determination? A conversation on the state of African American and American Indian history and relations.
with host Ana Edwards




http://ping.fm/DcEIL - Are Blacks Being Victimized Twice by the Cherokee?

30 January 2012

Legislation To Follow!

RIHD - Prison and Ex-Offender Legislation Alert
Earned Second ChanceThe focus on education and rehabilitative programs that include the Earned Second Chance legislation and the Volunteerism Tax Deduction as well as a
Focus on arts in the prison educational environment in order to provide tactile learning for those approximately fifty percent of inmates with specific learning disabilities. While we may
Not support the use of discretionary and often arbitrary parole; we do support a person’s ability to reduce their sentence through hard work and positive contributions to their community.

Ban the BoxStarting with legislation focused on removing barriers to exoffender employment, including the ‘Ban the Box’ approach, the campaign will promote equal opportunity in employment as well as developing healthy relationships with employers. All persons should have the right to support themselves and their families without remaining forever reliant on government and community handouts.

Restoration of Civil RightsA focus on a complete and automatic restoration of voting rights upon completion of a term of incarceration. While a ballot resolution could not be put forward this year, we should challenge the right of the government to tax a citizen at any time while he is unable to vote under the law. A government should not be able to tax a citizen who is not permitted a stake in his own destiny.

Opt Out of All Bans on Drug OffendersThis focus will include legislation to finally
opt out of the TANF ban on formerly incarcerated person with drug offenses. In addition, since drug use and addiction is a medical and mental health issue, the campaign should stand against any and all bans that preclude former drug offenders from receiving any type of service, particularly when it has negative effects on their families. An ADA challenge might be made here. Government should not be allowed to punish individuals and their families for medical or mental health conditions.

Protecting Our Children A multifaceted focus on keeping children in the juvenile system and not permitting unprotected transfers to adult court for a greater focus on restorative justice practices for youth. Also, a focus on mentoring and protecting children from the constant influx of violence needs to be legitimately addressed.  Children should be nurtured, and a government should not treat children as adults until such time as they can determine that they are adequately prepared to be instilled with ALL the rights and responsibilities that come along with adulthood.

Feb. 17:Virginia Immigrant People's Coalition Day of Action
  • If these legislators get their way, this is what our state will look like:
    - Police would be empowered to demand to see immigration papers from any person that they suspect to be an immigrant;
    - Undocumented students would be banned from attending state universities, even if they are VA residents who have been paying taxes here for years;
    - Government issued ID would be required to vote, disenfranchising thousands of poor, elderly and African-American voters;
    - People who don’t speak English well and lose their criminal court cases would be required to pay for their interpreters.
  • Si estos legisladores obtienen lo que están proponiendo, esto sería como nuestro estado luciría:
    - La policía tendría el poder de preguntar por documentos de inmigración si ellos sospechan que una persona es inmigrante.
    - Estudiantes indocumentados no podrían asistir a las universidades del estado, aunque sean residentes de Virginia y hayan pagado sus impuestos por anos.
    - Para poder votar, se requerirá una identificación dada por el gobierno de Virginia, afectando a muchas personas mayores, personas pobres y Afro-Americanos.
    - Personas que no hablen ingles y pierdan su caso en la corte criminal, tendrán que pagar por sus propios intérpretes.

Feb. 4: No War On Iran National Day of Action
12 - 1 pm at the Richmond Federal Courthouse 701 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219

Resolution on Iran Unanimously Adopted at the 2012 session of the Virginia People’s Assembly Richmond, Virginia, January 14, 2012: 
No War, No Sanctions, No Internal Interference in Iran!

Recently, the U.S. government has increased its threats against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The U.S. has declared Iran to be its enemy and has publicly stated that it will use all means possible, up to and including military attack, to stop the production of nuclear energy in Iran and to change its government.
To this end, the U.S. has:
1 - Used hacking to disrupt nuclear energy facilities in Iran
2 - Conducted covert operations in Iran
3 - Deployed spy drones to Iran
4 - Imposed draconian sanctions and embargo against Iranian oil exports, banking and trade
5 - Deployed U.S. nuclear supercarrier battle groups with destroyers and nuclear submarines to the Persian Gulf
6 - Threatened Iran with military attack
7 – Is about to hold the largest ever joint military exercises with Israel
The U.S. government has carried out these activities to weaken Iran in preparation for a military attack if Iran does not submit to its demands.
The U.S. government lied to the U.S. people to prepare them for an attack on Iraq, which caused the destruction of Iraq, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the deaths of 4,500 U.S. soldiers and injuries to many thousands more, in addition to more than $800 billion in war expenditures.
It is extremely important that we do everything in our power to stop another U.S. war in the Middle East. To this end, we, the 2012 Virginia People’s Assembly, demand:
No War, No Sanctions, No Internal Interference in Iran!

Co-Proposed by Simin Royanian, Co-Founder, Women for Peace & Justice in Iran; and
Phil Wilayto, Board Member, Campaign Against Sanctions & Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII)

24 January 2012

Revolutionary Poet Warrior Woman Jayne Cortez at William & Mary's Muscarelle Museum on Feb. 9 at 7pm - http://ping.fm/heSsi

17 January 2012

NNDA Protest: Friday
, Jan. 20, 3-6 pm

NNDA Protest

The Federal Courthouse - 701 E Broad St., downtown Richmond (directly across the street from the National). This is on Broad St between 7th and 8th Streets. Friday
, Jan. 20, 3-6 pm

“We will be peacefully protesting the federal government concerning the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012. We are calling on the courts to declare this law - which affirms the power to detain Americans indefinitely without trial - a violation of the Bill of Rights guaranteed by the Constitution and for it to be repealed. This will be a vital opportunity to educate and provide outreach to the many many people largely unaware of the law.”

Speakers from Occupy Richmond and various social justice organizations from the Richmond community. Performance with rap artist Isaac Ramsey from Double Rainbow. Candle light vigil at 5:30 mourning the death of our civil liberties, with a march to City Hall for the Free Speech Forum immediately following.

Immediately following the protest, we'll head across the street to City Hall, where we'll hold the Free Speech Forum:https://www.facebook.com/events/280424548683507/
Point of Contact: Chris H - vcuchris@gmail.com

This event has been endorsed by the General Assembly of Occupy Richmond.

Today, the Wikipedia community announced its decision to black out the English-language Wikipedia for 24 hours, worldwide, beginning at 05:00 UTC on Wednesday, January 18 (you can read the statement from the Wikimedia Foundation here). The blackout is a protest against proposed legislation in the United States – the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate – that, if passed, would seriously damage the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia.

11 January 2012

MEDIA RELEASE: Jan. 7, 2012

Media contact: Phil Wilayto – Phone: 804-247-3731; e-mail: philwilayto@earthlink.net

Jan. 14 march on State Capitol to demand:
'Don't balance the budget
on the backs of Virginia's working people!'

Responding to the threat of more job losses and state budget cuts, Virginia activists representing a broad range of issues will converge in Richmond Jan. 14 for a networking conference, march and rally under the general theme of “Jobs, Peace, Justice!”

The day's events will include a 5 p.m. march on the State Capitol to tell Gov. Robert McDonnell and the General Assembly: “Don't balance the budget on the backs of Virginia's working people!”

The conference, march and rally are sponsored by the Virginia People's Assembly, an annual gathering of progressive activists held to coincide with the opening of the Virginia General Assembly.

Jan. 14 is the day before the 83rd anniversary of the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., so it's a fitting time for us to march,” said VPA organizer and prisoner rights activist Lillie “Ms. K” Branch-Kennedy. “We'll be standing up, just as he did, to demand jobs for the unemployed, an end to wars, restoration of civil and voting rights for those convicted of a felony and justice for all our communities.”

The VPA contends there are alternatives to balancing the state budget by cutting state jobs, slashing needed social programs and reducing support for cities and counties, “Instead, we say raise Virginia's state corporate income tax rate, one of the lowest in the country,” said Ms. Branch-Kennedy. “End the use of the Virginia National Guard for wars abroad. Stop using state money to glorify the Confederacy. And use the savings to create a massive public jobs program, which will put money into the hands of the unemployed and really stimulate the economy.”

The 2012 Virginia People's Assembly networking conference will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St. Stephen's Koinonia Church, 505 N. 33rd St. in Richmond's East End. The march on the Capitol will begin at 5 p.m. at Monroe Park and end at Kanawha Plaza, followed by the rally from 7 to 9 p.m. back at St. Stephen's.

Conference registration begins at 9:30 a.m. Child care, lunch and dinner will be provided. There is no admission charge, but donations for the meals and use of the church will be appreciated.

As of Jan. 7, the 2012 VPA had attracted more than three dozen endorsers, including the Occupy Wall Street movements in Blacksburg, Virginia Tech, Richmond and Virginia Beach; as well as organizations promoting the rights of immigrants, prisoners, labor, women, the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community; and civil rights, anti-war and community organizations. (See next page for a complete list.)
For more information on the 2012 Virginia People's Assembly, see: http://www.facebook.com/events/284484054920881/, call 804-644-5834 or e-mail DefendersFJE@hotmail.com.

09 January 2012

This week on DefLIVE: Jason Brown and Mark Carter of Occupy The Hood RVA join me to discuss last Saturday's Occupy The Hood RVA General Assembly and what the rising up of the Occupy The Hood movement means to the Occupy Wall Street movement and other campaigns for economic and social justice in the US. DefendersLIVE airs Monday at noon on 97.3 LP FM in Richmond VA and online at www.WRIR.org and is rebroadcast Tuesdays online only at 11 am and 1pm.