News Day: Gangs of St. Paul? / Coleman: Not yet / Peltier parole hearing today / Sectarian violence in Nigeria

© Maluson - Fotolia.com

© Maluson - Fotolia.com

Gangs of St. Paul? A young man who says he has falsely been labeled a gang member by St. Paul police, the NAACP, and police and prosecutors will all participate in a community discussion on “The Gangs of St. Paul” tonight at 6:30-8:30 at the Hallie Q. Brown Center (270 N. Kent Street, St. Paul). The Pioneer Press reports Jumoke Cryer says he’s not a gang member, but he is one of 18 alleged members of the rival Selby Siders and East Side Boys gangs named in an injunction barring gang members from associating with alleged fellow gang members, using gang signs and wearing gang clothing during this year’s Rondo Days Festival. Nathaniel Khaliq, St. Paul NAACP president, said that while the community does not want gangs, they also “don’t want the sardines to be caught in the web with the sharks.”

The Pioneer Press quoted Cryer:

“I’m a college student,” he said. “I don’t have a tattoo on my body. I don’t meet any of the criteria. It really doesn’t make sense.” Asked how it made him feel to be called a gang member, Cryer said, “Horrible.”

“I believe some people out there are gang banging and police need to take drastic measures, but there are others out there like myself that are being labeled,” he said. “They’re singling out everybody. If they get the wrong person, it doesn’t matter to them.”

Coleman: Not yet A spokesperson for former Senator Norm Coleman announced that he is not currently running for governor, and that he probably will wait until March or April to announce any future political plans. That would be too late for a run for governor under most scenarios. Republicans are taking a straw poll in October, precinct caucuses are in February, and the party convention will be April 30 and May 1, according to the Star Tribune.

Peltier parole date Leonard Peltier is up for parole, with a hearing scheduled for July 28. Peltier is serving two life sentences, after conviction in 1977 of killing two FBI agents in 1975. Democracy Now reports:

The Parole Commission originally denied Peltier parole in 1993 based on their finding that he, quote, “participated in the premeditated and cold blooded execution of those two officers.” However, the Parole Commission has since said it, quote, “recognizes that the prosecution has conceded the lack of any direct evidence that [Peltier] personally participated in the executions of the two FBI agents.”

Peltier’s defenders say the conviction was a product of FBI persecution of the American Indian Movement, with pitched battles between the AIM and federal agents at places including the 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973. The FBI cracked down on AIM, violently. That was the context for the 1975 gun battle and the Peltier prosecution. Two others accused of killing the agents were acquitted in a separate trial.

The FBI adamantly opposes parole, saying Peltier was guilty of executing two FBI agents. Other groups, including Amnesty International, have called for his release, and say he did not receive a fair trial.

World/National News

Sectarian violence in northern Nigeria A small Islamist sect opposed to “Western education” attacked police stations in two states in mostly-Muslim northern Nigeria on Sunday and Monday. About 55 people, including 39 of the attackers, and at least one police officer and one fire officer, have been killed, according to the New York Times. The region has frequently seen outbreaks of religious violence, often between Muslims and Christians.

BBC puts the death toll at more than 100, and reports that a group of the militants is barricaded inside part of the city of Maiduguri, and shooting at anyone who approaches. The militants are known locally as the “Taliban,” but are not believed to have any ties to Taliban groups elsewhere in the world, and some say the “Taliban” label was applied as a term of derision by other Muslims who consider the group “crazy.”

Reich on health care reform Robert Reich warns that health care reform is in danger, and says action before the August recess is vital:

First, the House must enact a bill before August recess even if the Senate is unable to — and the House bill should include the four key elements that have already emerged from House committees: (1) a public plan option, (2) a mandate on all but the smallest employers to provide their employees with health insurance or else pay a tax or fee (so-called “pay or play”), (3) a requirement that every individual and family buy health insurance, coupled with subsidies for families up to 300 or 400 times the poverty level in order to make sure it’s affordable to them; and (4) a small surtax on the top 1 percent of earners or families to help pay for this subsidy (“tax the wealthy so all Americans can stay healthy.”)

Iran prison deaths BBC reports that Supreme Leader Ayatolla Ali Khameini has ordered the closure of a detention center at Karizhak, because of violations of detainee rights. Whether protesters held there will be transferred to other facilities or released is unclear. Many protesters are still held in the main prison:

There are also continuing reports of grim conditions inside Tehran’s main prison, Evin, which seems unable to cope with the large number of opposition supporters rounded up since the election, says the BBC Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne.

In recent days the opposition has reported almost every day new deaths of protestors held in prison.

War Reports

Afghanistan After the Afghanistan government announced an election truce in the north-western province of Badghis, a Taliban spokesperson said no such truce exists, reports BBC. In fact, the run-up to next month’s presidential elections is marked by violence, with an attack on the car of the campaign manager of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah severely wounding the campaign manager and killing the driver in Laghman province, and a separate assassination attempt on President Karzai’s running mate on Sunday. In another incident in Helmand province, eight security guards were killed by a remotely detonated bomb.

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