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(en) ACTION ALERT FOR THE CHATTANOOGA 3!!

From JoNina Abron <jonina1@yahoo.com>
Date Tue, 29 Aug 2000 20:17:01 -0700 (PDT)


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      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E
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International Committee To Defend the Chattanooga 3
P.O. Box 19962, Kalamazoo, MI 49019
Email: jonina1@yahoo.com, komboa@hotmail.com

**(Please note the committee's new address and phone
number above.)
*******************************************************
ACTION ALERT!! ACTION ALERT!!
Mobilize for the Sept. 12 Trial of the Chattanooga 3

August 29, 2000

Dear Friend:

Over two years after being arrested for protesting
against police brutality at a meeting of the
Chattanooga, Tennessee, City Council on May 19, 1998,
Black activists Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, Damon McGee and
Mikail Musa Muhammad (Ralph P. Mitchell) are scheduled
to go on trial September 12. The Chattanooga 3 (as
Lorenzo, Damon, and Mikail are known) are charged with
violating Tennessee's "disruption" law, a misdemeanor
offense that makes it illegal for a person to use
"physical action" or "verbal utterance" to prevent or
disrupt a lawful meeting. If convicted, Lorenzo, Damon
and Mikail face up to a year in state prison.

>From its inception, the case of the Chattanooga 3 has
been a malicious prosecution hatched by Hamilton
County District Attorney General Bill Cox, Black
police chief Jimmy Dotson, and other government
officials bent on destroying the movement against
police brutality in Chattanooga--a city which for
years ranked No. 1 for reported acts of police
brutality among U.S. cities with populations under
200,000. A few hours before their arrests, Lorenzo,
Damon and Mikail helped to organize a protest at
Chattanooga City Hall by over 150 people angry over
the police killings of two Black men, Montrail Collins
and Kevin McCullough, in a two-week period between
April 28 and May 7, 1998. Collins and McCullough were
two of the over 40 predominantly Black people who have
been killed by Chattanooga police since the early
1980s. No police have ever been prosecuted for these
killings, but the Chattanooga 3 could go to prison for
exercising their First Amendment right to protest
against police brutality!

Chattanooga's white political establishment is going
forward with the trial of Lorenzo, Damon and Mikail
despite the fact that the district attorney had agreed
to delay the trial until the Tennessee Supreme Court
decides whether to hear Lorenzo's appeal of his 1994
disruption conviction, in which he challenges the
constitutionality of the disruption law. In that case,
known as the Chattanooga 8, Lorenzo and seven other
civil rights activists were tried for disruption for
participating in a peaceful sidewalk demonstration in
downtown Chattanooga to protest the refusal of a
county grand jury to indict the eight police officers
responsible for the chokehold death of Larry Powell, a
victim of "driving while black." Lorenzo, a former
member of the Black Panther Party and a long-time
leader in the fight against police brutality and
racism in Chattanooga, was one of two people convicted
in the Chattanooga 8 case. He appealed his conviction
to the Tennessee Criminal Court of Appeals. Despite an
excellent friend of the court brief filed by Professor
Dwight Aarons of the University of Tennessee School of
Law citing the unconstitutionality of the disruption
law, the court upheld Lorenzo's conviction in March of
this year. Lorenzo appealed to the state supreme court
and is now waiting to learn if the court will hear his
case.

**It is important to remember that the disruption law
has only been used twice in Tennessee--in the cases of
the Chattanooga 8 and the Chattanooga 3. Both cases
involved Black people who were protesting against
police brutality.**

Lorenzo, Damon and Mikail will go on trial in a
kangaroo court. They have no chance of getting a fair
trial in Chattanooga or anywhere else in racist
Hamilton County. This is particularly true for
Lorenzo, who, along with other Black activists, has
filed several successful civil rights lawsuits against
the county and the city of Chattanooga. One of those
lawsuits resulted in the defeat of the at-large City
Commission government (in favor of districts) and the
creation of the Chattanooga City Council in 1990. For
the first time since 1911, Blacks were elected to the
city government--and the white power structure has yet
to recover.

The entire legal and political establishment of the
state of Tennessee, including the American Civil
Liberties Union, is against the Chattanooga 3 because
they are anarchists and Black revolutionaries. Indeed,
Lorenzo, Damon and Mikail have not received support
from *any* of the major civil rights or legal
organizations in the country!

What can you do to help?

1. Write to travel agencies urging them to support the
tourist boycott of Chattanooga organized by Lorenzo
and a fellow black activist whose father was murdered
by a Chattanooga police officer in 1983. For more
information about the police killings and Boycott
Chattanooga, visit the website at wysiwg://23/http://
maxine-j.tripod.com/policemurder.html. (Note: Since
the web site was created, more people have been
killed, bringing the total to over 40.) The attached
sample letter to travel agents includes the email
addresses of D.A. Bill Cox, Mayor Jon Kinsey, and Tim
Andrews, the executive director of development for the
Hamilton County Chamber of Commerce. Please send a
copy of your letters to us at jonina1@yahoo.com.

2. Participate in picket lines and protests outside
the Hamilton County Courthouse during the trial, which
is expected to last from Sept. 12-19. We must draw
national attention to the unconstitutionality of the
disruption law and the politically tainted prosecution
of the Chattanooga 3. If you would like to help with
the picket lines, please contact me.

3. Contribute to the Chattanooga 3 Legal Defense Fund.
If necessary, Lorenzo, Damon and Mikail will take
their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, and it will cost
anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 to hire private
attorneys.(Lorenzo now has a public defender, and
Damon and Mikail have court-appointed attorneys.) In
the likely event that the Chattanooga 3 are convicted,
$2,000 to $3,000 will also be needed for their bond.
Please make your check or money order payable to BANCO
(Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizers, which
was founded by Lorenzo and Damon in 1999), with a note
that you are donating to the legal defense fund. Mail
your contribution to P.O. Box 19962, Kalamazoo, MI
49019.

Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, Damon McGee and Mikail Musa
Muhammad are courageously standing up for the right of
Black and justice-minded people in America to engage
in political dissent, specifically the right to
protest against police brutality. Now more than ever,
we must stand up for them.

In struggle,
JoNina M. Abron
Founder and Chair
International Committee to Defend the Chattanooga 3

*******************************************************
SAMPLE LETTER TO TRAVEL AGENTS

(email to: info@diaspora-link.com, pr@astanet.com,
astasysop@astanet.com, tour@tast.tn.org,
georgina@AfricanTravelSeminars.com,
soa@robindesign.com

cc: tandrews@chattanooga-chamber.com,
mayor@mail.chattanooga.gov,
Bill_Cox@hcda.cps.k12.tn.us

Dear Travel Agent:

As you know, Chattanooga, Tennessee, located near the
Great Smoky Mountain National Park, is a popular
tourist attraction in the southeastern United States,
providing millions of dollars annually to the city's
economy. It has come to my attention that since the
early 1980s, over 40 people, most of whom were people
of color, have been killed by Chattanooga police. Not
one police officer has ever been prosecuted for these
killings. Indeed, according to my research, the city
ranked No. 1 for several years for reported acts of
police brutality among U.S. cities with populations
under 200,000.

I have learned that three black civil rights
activists, Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, Damon McGee and
Mikail Musa Muhammad (Ralph P. Mitchell) are scheduled
to go on trial September 12 on disruption charges for
protesting against police brutality and misconduct at
a meeting of the Chattanooga City Council in 1998. If
convicted, these men could spend up to a year in state
prison for exercising their First Amendment right of
free speech. Yet, the police officers responsible for
brutality and misconduct go unpunished! I am outraged
at this blatant racism.

Mr. Ervin and a fellow black activist, whose father,
was killed by a Chattanooga police officer in 1983,
have called for a tourist boycott of the city. For
further information about the police killngs and
Boycott Chattanooga, visit the website at wysiwyg://
23/http://maxine-j.tripod.com/policemurder.html. (I
understand that since the web site was created, the
total number of people killed by Chattanooga police
has increased to over 40.) I urge you to support the
boycott. Tell your customers not to spend their money
in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A city with such racist
police practices does not deserve to get rich from
tourists.

Sincerely,
(your name)






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