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Pittsburgh Wobblies Active in Many Defense Campaigns - Jena/Police Brutality/Free Speach agaist the war

 FREE THEM FIGHTERS—The Pittsburgh Six, from left: Anthony “Platinum Tone” Edwards, Tristyn Trailes, Peppy, Paradise Gray, Ruth Marshall and Bret Grote.

ORDERLY CONDUCT—Pamela Lawton, right, with daughter Jasmine discuss her case with Tim Stevens, left, of B-PEP and Kenneth Miller of the Pittsburgh Anti-Sweatshop Community Alliance.

Army recruiters talk with some of the war protesters outside the recruiting station in Oakland yesterday.

These articles all appeared in the last week and are examples of the defense work Pittsburgh Wobblies are doing:

Protest in Jena: The Pittsburgh perspective
By C. Denise Johnson | Published  09/27/2007 

The eyes of the nation were fixed on Jena last week as the epicenter of a countrywide protest descended on Jena, La., in protest of the charges leveled against six Black youths accused of attempted murder. While many tuned to radio, TV and Internet coverage of the proceedings, a small cadre of activists made the trek to be part of the demonstration.

Several members of Pittsburgh’s OneHOOD made the long trip to be part of history and join in he demonstration (Minister Jasiri X flew down separately).

“Thousands of cars and hundreds of buses from all over America jammed the roads to a standstill,” said Paradise Gray, one of six Pittsburghers who traveled 21 hours in a minivan to Jena.

A veteran of several protests who helped organize June’s Black Male Solidarity Day march and rally at Freedom Corner, Gray, 43, compared the events in Jena to the Millions More March that commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March, but with a younger demographic.

“There were more young people, lots of college students and even younger,” said Gray. “The response to the incident to me represents and signals the changing of the guard.”

Thirty-year-old Anthony “Platinum Tone” Edwards said his decision to make the journey was basically spontaneous—it was his first involvement in a civil protest.

“I was astounded and in awe by all the people that turned out (in Jena),” said Turner. He related some interesting sidebars to the protest.

“On the day of the rally, they cut off all cell phone transmission,” he said. “It was land-line or nothing. Being from out-of-town, it was kind of scary.”

Edwards spotted Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, as well as syndicated talk show host Michael Baisden and activist Dick Gregory while in Louisiana.

There was a kind of disconnect in the coordination of the days proceedings, he said. “Seven different groups had applied for permits. It was crazy because one group didn’t know what the other was doing.”

There were also auxiliary events going on in neighboring communities. “After the protest there was another event being held in (nearby) Alexandria that took on a party atmosphere, which I couldn’t understand. After all, at the end of the day, Mychal Bell is still in jail.”

Edwards added that during the protest, more than $10,000 was raised in a free will collection, “which was more than enough to post (Bell’s) bail.”

Still, Edwards was glad he made the trip and looks forward to continue being an activist.

Edwards and Gray are now collaborating on a documentary of their experience with a working title of “Free Them Fighters.” Excerpts of the work in process can be found at http://www.youTube.com/watch?v=mnw2WxVcSx4.

 

Lawton not guilty of disorderly conduct
By Deborah M. Todd | Published  09/27/2007

After more than a year’s worth of postponements and a day-and-a-half long trial, Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariarti found Pamela Lawton not guilty of disorderly conduct on Sept. 21, in spite of his obvious misgivings about her version of events surrounding the charges.

Lawton, who claimed Pittsburgh Police officer Eric Tatusko pulled his weapon on her then 7-year-old daughter Joshalyn during a traffic stop August of last year, was cleared of summary disorderly conduct charges, but found guilty of vehicle code violations associated with the stop.

While Mariarti flatly dismissed accusations that Tatusko threatened to shoot and called Lawton’s testimony “wholly incredible,” he also said that her actions did not meet the standard of disorderly conduct.

Lawton called the verdict “fair,” and said she could understand why Mariarti found her version of the story hard to believe.

“I could hardly believe it was happening to me when it happened, so I understand how somebody might not believe me,” said Lawton.

Although accounts told by Lawton and Tatusko directly contradicted each other at times, the bulk of the arguments made by assistant district attorney Luca Giorgi and defense attorney Paul Boas surrounded the undisputed facts that Tatusko pulled his weapon and Lawton screamed in response.

Giorgi argued that while Tatusko pulled the weapon, he held it in a “cover” position pointed toward the ground, and that no one in the car faced immediate danger. He also argued that Lawton’s screaming became disorderly because it caused “public inconvenience in noise or alarm” and it “rose to a level wither the consequences were possibly tumultuous” because a small crowd was around.

Boas countered those arguments with a testimony from Ricardo Hill, who said that he saw Tatusko’s weapon pointed at the vehicle and that Tatusko threatened to shoot. Boas also argued that Lawton’s yelling was protected first amendment speech.

Mariarti ruled that the Commonwealth did not prove that Lawton’s speech rose to the level of disorderly conduct beyond a reasonable doubt because it did not incite the crowd around her. While he said Tatusko’s action of drawing his weapon was “reasonable under the circumstances” he also said it was “understandable” Lawton would be unnerved, so her reaction was not unwarranted.

Lawton must pay a $25 fine for each count of driving without valid inspection and emissions stickers and a $300 fine for driving without insurance.

 

War protesters in Oakland reach agreement with city and police
Thursday, September 20, 2007