Sunday, May 22, 2011

Preemptive Prosecution (Key Speakers)

Here is an example of a recent set of speakers on this issue which you may want to engage for your area? This group spoke very recently in Virginia. Some of the same spoke recently in Atlanta:

Could Preemptive Prosecution Strip You Off Your Rights?
The panel presentation will focus on how the ‘War on Terror’ climate has affected civil liberties, the American Muslim community and the broader social justice movement. Representatives from the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF), Friends of Human Rights (FHR), and Families United for Justice in America (FUJA) will be having a panel presentation to discuss their political, social and legal campaigns around these issues. Included in the panel are lawyers, professors, peace activists and family members of incarcerated prisoners in the post-9/11era.

Speakers Include:
Steve Downs, Esq, Attorney and co-founder of Project SALAM, Albany, NY
Mel Underbakke, Educator & co-founder of Friends of Human Rights, Tampa, FL
Tom Burke, Columbia Solidarity Activist, Michigan
Laila Yaghi, Palestinian American mother and member of FUJA, Raleigh, NC
Sponsored by: Students For Social and Economic Justice-MSU, Peace and Justice Studies Program-MSU, Islamic Center of Greater Lansing, Families United For Justice In America (FUJA)

Biography of Speakers:
Steve Downs, esq,
Steve Downs is an attorney by profession. He served in the Peace Corps in India for 4 years. For over a quarter century he investigated corrupt judges as the Chief attorney in Albany for the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct between 1975 and 2003. He is a co-founder of Project Salam and has written extensively on the case of Yasin Aref and Muhammad Husain in Albany, NY. Steve serves as a member of the Board of Directors and Steering Committee of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms.

Dr. Mel Underbakke
Dr. Mel Underbakke is an educator and researcher, formerly at the University of South Florida. She is also a founding member of Friends of Human Rights, which began shortly after the arrest of Dr. Sami Al-Arian in 2003. Since that time she has focused on calling attention to the current wave of pre-emptive prosecutions and the dangers of the PATRIOT Act. She has toured the country educating the public about the erosion of civil liberties since 9/11, screening the documentary USA vs Al-Arian more than 60 times on campuses, churches, mosques and community centers. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors and Steering Committee of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, and as the Interim Director of the Education and Outreach Committee.

Laila Yaghi
Laila Yaghi was born in Montana to an American mother and a Palestinian father. She grew up in Amman-Jordan and returned to the US when she was 18. She has a bachelor's degree in Business from Campbell University. She has two sons, Khaled 27, and Ziyad who is 23. Laila is a member of Families United For Justice in America (FUJA), a new organization in the development that tries to help and give voice to families whose members are unjustly incarcerated in preemptive prosecution under the War on Terror. Her son Ziyad is currently awaiting trial in Raleigh, NC.

Tom Burke
Tom Burke is a labor union and Colombia solidarity activist. Tom traveled to Colombia in December 2003, hosted by the Oil Worker’s Union (USO) at a time when pro-government death squads were murdering three Colombian trade unionists every week. Along with other members of the Colombia Action Network, Tom helped launch the successful Boycott Coke. Tom is the spokesperson for the National Committee To Free Ricardo Palmera, a Colombian revolutionary held political prisoner in solitary confinement by the U.S. government. The FBI served Tom and his wife with subpoenas to appear in front of a Grand Jury on October 19th. He is choosing to not participate in a process where the U.S. attorney has handpicked the 23 jurors, there is no judge, he is not allowed to have a lawyer, and the proceedings are conducted in secrecy away from the public and the press.

See post below for more information and a petition/letter to sign to Obama/Holder

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