Updates on Marissa Alexander; Longview ILWU; Carlos Montes

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Survivor of domestic violence gets 20 years

by Margaret Viggiani

In August 2010, only nine days after giving birth, Marissa Alexander fired a warning shot into the kitchen ceiling of her home in Jacksonville, Fla., to fend off her abusive estranged husband. Alexander is a young Black mother of three.

The jury deliberated 12 minutes before convicting Alexander of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon — even though her husband had previously hospitalized her, she had no prior criminal record, and no one was injured.

On May 11, 2012, a judge rejected Alexander’s “stand your ground” defense and sentenced her to 20 years under Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing rules. As is so often true for abused women, especially those of color, the “justice system” proved to be anything but.

Outraged supporters around the country, including Radical Women (RW), are organizing rallies, vigils, and letter campaigns. Seattle RW wrote a statement and has collected hundreds of signatures on a petition demanding Alexander’s release. The statement and a link to an online petition can be found on the Radical Women website.

In June, Friends of Marissa Alexander organized a Freedom Rally and Motorcycle Ride to raise awareness and funds. And on July 13, the Jacksonville NAACP chapter held a rally in defense of Alexander and victims of domestic abuse.

In a letter thanking RW for its support, Alexander wrote that she is “Keeping my head up!” To help build a big, visible, and determined fight for her pardon and release, go to www.Justice4Marissa.com.

Longview ILWU confronts retaliation

by Linda Averill

The battle between Export Grain Terminal (EGT) and longshore workers in Longview, Wash., has moved from the waterfront to the courts, where anti-labor laws and officials are aiding EGT.

Throughout 2011, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) fiercely defended its 70-year jurisdiction in Longview. ILWU Local 21 and supporters, including Occupy activists, employed class-struggle tactics including civil disobedience to thwart EGT from establishing scab operations.

Historically, ILWU won’t settle contracts without securing amnesty for members on the front lines of the conflict, which has helped make it one of the strongest U.S. unions.

But, under heavy government pressure, ILWU officers signed a contract in February without such protections; prosecutions and blacklisting followed. (See FS articles from February and April of this year.) The contract also eliminates ILWU’s hiring hall, a key tool to stop favoritism and blacklisting. This has allowed EGT to exclude leaders in last year’s fight from work. EGT can also now nullify the contract if ILWU engages in effective job actions. In sum, the contract is a green light for more anti-labor attacks.

Meanwhile, dozens of protesters arrested in last year’s mass actions are plea-bargaining fines and community service to avoid felony charges. ILWU member Ron Stavas spent 22 days in jail.

The ILWU international is fighting back with a civil rights lawsuit, scheduled for trial in March 2013. More battles are on the horizon as Northwest locals prepare to negotiate a grain-handling agreement with multiple employers. Public discussions by ILWU members and supporters to assess the fight will take place in Seattle (sponsored by the Freedom Socialist Party) and San Francisco. Get info at www.socialism.com, and stay tuned.

Carlos Montes case: solidarity beats FBI

by Steve Hoffman

In May 2011, in Alhambra, Calif., a Los Angeles County SWAT team and the FBI busted down the door of Carlos Montes, a long-time labor, immigrant rights, and international solidarity activist. But, with plenty of community support, Montes successfully thwarted the effort to put him behind bars.

His case is part of a witch-hunt that includes FBI raids of 23 other anti-war and solidarity activists in Minneapolis and Chicago. His prosecution on six bogus felony charges prompted an international defense campaign with rallies, a petition drive, and call-ins to federal officials and the LA district attorney.

On June 5 the DA relented, dropping all but one of the charges. By pleading no contest to one count of perjury, Montes avoided jail time. Given the 18 years in prison he faced, and the nationwide scope of the FBI’s persecution of thorns in the government’s side, this was a big win against political repression.

At a victory party in LA attended by this reporter, it was apparent that many had a hand in the successful outcome. Invited comments went on for some time, as community organizers young and old described why they supported this fight as unionists, ethnic studies advocates, immigrant rights supporters, socialists, etc. Everyone was ready to continue resisting FBI and police intimidation. For updates, see www.stopfbi.net

Also see: Bradley Manning support continues as hearing nears

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