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
DefendersFJE@hotmail.com

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.