Posts Tagged ‘richmond defenders’

A reminder that although VCU has finally closed the parking lot on the Richmond African Burial Ground, 4 people still have court this Wednesday over their act of civil disobedience protesting the use of the Burial Ground as a parking lot.  Please come out this Wednesday to support them! Details below.

From the Richmond Defenders:

As the subject header suggests, the battle to reclaim the Richmond African Burial Ground is finally over!  You may recall at the last COC meeting, five individuals volunteered to become members of the Coordinating Committee (CC).  The CC members are:  Autumn Barrett, David Boothe, Donnell Brantley, Rolandah “Cleopattrah” McMillan, and Janet “Queen Nzinga” Taylor.  The charge of the CC is to keep you informed and we will endeavor to do just that.

While we can relish this victory, we must still remain ever vigilant until this Sacred Ground is properly memorialized.  Below is the statement released by the Defenders on behalf of the COC, and important dates for you to remember.  We would also like to thank you, the community, for taking a stand and helping to bring this reclamation to fruition.

We look forward ever, backward NEVER!

Janet B. Taylor
Coordinating Committee
Celebrate the Reclamation of the Burial Ground/Support the Four Advocates
The VCU parking lot which for years desecrated the Richmond African Burial Ground was finally closed, Saturday, May 21 and is scheduled to be removed starting, Tuesday, May 24.  The African Burial Ground, formerly the Burial Ground for Negroes, is the city’s oldest known municipal cemetery for enslaved Africans and free people of African descent.

After years of community agitation, the Virginia General Assembly earlier this year passed a bill authorizing the transfer of the 3.4 acre site from VCU to the City of Richmond.  The City has placed a marker on the site explaining its historical and cultural significance as well as detailing Richmond’s leading role in the internal U.S. slave trade.

Part of the activism that eventually led to the closing of the parking lot occurred, Tuesday, April 12, the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.  Eight community activists were successful in closing down the parking lot for an hour and a half.  Four of the eight -Donnell Brantley, Rolandah “Cleopattrah” McMillan, Autumn Barrett and Phil Wilayto – were subsequently arrested and charged with trespassing.  They are being represented pro bono by the law firm of Benjamin & DesPortes, a leading criminal defense firm.  As McMillan explained, “We decided to close the parking lot ourselves…We wanted the whole world to see that this state institution has no respect for the community that surrounds it.”

For more information, please contact Janet “Queen Nzinga” Taylor, 804-347-3598 or OneRastaQueen@hotmail.com.

IMPORTANT DATES TO REMEMBER:

Monday, May 23, 6 pm
Public Hearing, Richmond City Council Chambers, 2nd floor/City Hall, 900 W. Broad St. The City will vote to accept the land transfer from VCU.

Tuesday, May 24, 10:30 am
Groundbreaking Ceremony, Richmond African Burial Ground, 15th & Broad streets.

Wednesday, May 25, 9 am
Support vigil outside the Manchester Courthouse, 920 Hull Street, followed by the 10 am trial of the four African Burial Ground advocates who shut down the VCU parking lot, April 12.  Please wear a white shirt or blouse as a show of solidarity.

Sunday, June 5, 4-6 pm
Community Organizing Committee meeting, location TBA. (Note:  Meetings are always the first Sunday of the month, 4-6pm; you will be notified of the location.)

——————————————- Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality A group of Richmond area residents working to improving the lives of people in our community. Phone & Fax 804.644.5834 . PO Box 23202, Richmond VA 23223 . DefendersFJE@hotmail.com

Solidarity means attack!

But sometimes it also means showing up to court to support your friends and allies. Less fun, less flashy, but vital for building movements. Court sucks, but it is a lot better if people show up to support you. 2 different issues have upcoming court dates, and would really appreciate support from others at the court dates. And because intersectionality is a reality, we are posting both of these dates here.

From Richmond Copwatch being threatened with a lawsuit by the Richmond Police Department, to the Monroe Park Occupation having court on April 12th over Obstruction of Justice and Trespassing charges, to the May Day parade having to defend their right to free speech regardless of their ability or desire to give money to off duty cops in order to finance their own repression, to the Defenders and Richmond African Burial Ground
Organizing Committee having to go to court to defend their civil disobedience in an ongoing campaign to get VCU to stop parking cars on the graves of people of color – Richmond has a LOT of legal stuff going on in 2011. Legal issues, arrests, lawsuits, tickets, and court dates are all very stressful and time consuming. Any support from those not directly involved can go a long way towards morale and be a really great way to strengthen relationships across particular issues. So many people are involved in the struggle for positive change, social justice, anarchism, etc. and it is really inspiring to see how much activity we do have in Richmond. Support each other, because a lot of folks seem to be throwing down really hard, and would appreciate any support.

First, the May Day Parade has a court date in regards to the bullshit cost the Richmond Police Department want them to pay to get a permit for the rally and parade. This court date is on April 26th.
Second, the folks who were arrested during a civil disobedience blockade at the African Burial Ground in Richmond, who prevented cars from being able to park on graves, have court on May 25th.

From the May Day Coalition:

A PEOPLES RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH AND ASSEMBLY SHOULD NOT BE DETERMINED BY WHETHER OR NOT THE PEOPLE HAVE THE MONETARY MEANS TO EXPRESS THEM.

The hearing for this case will take place Tuesday, April 26 at 11:00 am at the U.S. District Court, 701 East Broad Street, in Judge Hudson’s courtroom. (more…)

The Richmond Defenders for Freedom, Justice, and Equality just released an announcement that they are holding their own ceremony in regards to the new historical markers along the Richmond Walk of Enslaved Africans. The Mayor, Governor, and others decided to postpone the originally scheduled event this Sunday in order to attend a VCU basketball game. This scheduling change is extremely problematic, considering the fact that VCU continues to park cars on the African Burial Ground despite full knowledge of the many reasons for that to be disrespectful at best.

If you can, please attend the ceremony on Sunday in support of the Defenders and others organizing against racism in Richmond. The statement from the Defenders is below:

PO Box 23202, Richmond, VA 23223  Ph: 804.644.5834  Fax: 804.332.5225
E-mail: DefendersFJE@hotmail.com www.DefendersFJE.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 31, 2011
MEDIA CONTACTS: ANA EDWARDS or PHIL WILAYTO at (804) 644-5834 or DefendersFJE@hotmail.com

Defenders pull out of City’s Slave Trail Commission ceremony; call for independent event on April 3

In light of the City’s inexcusable postponement of Sunday’s ceremony honoring sites associated with Richmond’s dominant role in the U.S. slave trade, the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality have informed the city’s Slave Trail Commission that we will no longer be participating in this event. Instead, we are calling on the community to hold its own independent event on Sunday, at the time and place of the original program.

Originally scheduled for April 3 – Richmond’s Emancipation Day – the Slave Trail Commission’s ceremony was to celebrate the unveiling of 17 historical markers along Richmond’s Walk of Enslaved Africans. Ana Edwards, Chair of the Defenders’ Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project, had been invited by Commission Chair Delores McQuinn to unveil the marker at the African Burial Ground, at 15th and East Broad streets.

The Defenders had initially accepted the invitation because we thought it important to acknowledge the placement of these markers as a good step forward in making Richmond’s Black history visible, and to again demand the immediate closing of the Virginia Commonwealth University parking lot and removal of the asphalt that now covers this sacred site.

However, the Commission rescheduled the event for April 10 after Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones and Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell decided that, instead of honoring their commitment to speak at Sunday’s ceremony, they would instead travel to Houston, Texas, to watch the VCU Rams compete in the Final Four NCAA basketball game.

After nearly 10 years of struggle by the Defenders and many other community organizations and individuals, a bill introduced by Delegate McQuinn to authorize the transfer of the Burial Ground property to the City was unanimously adopted by this year’s General Assembly. Further, a budget amendment introduced by the governor authorizing $3.3.million to compensate VCU for the transfer also passed. And yet, the university – the area’s dominant economic and political powerhouse – continues to use the Burial Ground for a parking lot.

The VCU connection in the decision to postpone Sunday’s unveiling ceremony simply adds insult to this historical and cultural injury, said Edwards. (more…)

The Anarchist Black Cross will be presenting a screening of the new film  Justice On Trail: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal on Friday November 5th at 7pm. If the weather is nice we will be projecting the movie outside, so bring a blanket to snuggle under. If the weather is not so nice we will show the movie inside near our new woodstove! After the movie there will be the opportunity for discussion as well as resources for anyone interested in writing Mumia a letter. The regular monthly Richmond Anarchist Black Cross meeting will be happening on November 9th at 7pm.

The Wingnut is located at 2005 Barton Avenue, and can be contacted at 804 303 5449. All Wingnut events are sober and all ages.

This is a new movie that is coming out just in time for the very important November 9th court date of Mumia.Much thanks to the Defenders for making this movie available for screening. Anyone who can’t make this event should see if they can make the November 1st screening at the Flying Brick.

Oral argument scheduled, United States Court of Appeals

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has just granted oral argument in Mumia’s case. (Abu-Jamal v. Beard, No. 01-9014.) The arguments will be before a three-judge panel on November 9, 2010, 2:00 pm. This will be in the Ceremonial Courtroom, U.S. Courthouse, 6th & Market Streets, Philadelphia. (more…)