Black People : Black Tribunal Upholds Reparations Demand

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by im4reparations, Nov 24, 2003.

  1. im4reparations

    im4reparations New Member MEMBER

    Oct 14, 2003
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    U.S. Found Guilty of Crimes Against African People; Owes Reparations

    The 300 or more people attending the Reparations Tribunal listened in shocked silence as the elderly black man spoke of being used as a guinea pig in medical experiments in a Pennsylvania prison. Robert Davis was one of about 30 witnesses presenting testimony at the 12th Session of the International Tribunal on Reparations for African People in the U.S., held November 15th and 16th in Philadelphia.

    In the 2-day hearing, the Reparations Tribunal reaffirmed its 1982 guilty verdict, convicting the U.S. government of genocide and human rights violations. This 12th Session focussed on the educational, police and prison systems found to function as institutions of continued oppression and exploitation of African people. The international panel of judges accepted the testimony into the growing body of evidence substantiating the demand of Africans for reparations from the U.S., awarded at $4.1 trillion dollars for labor alone in the 1982 founding session of the Reparations Tribunal.

    One of the cases presented to the court this year dealt with the use of prisoners as ill-informed test subjects in dangerous and sometimes deadly medical experimentation. A civil suit has been filed by approximately 300 former inmates of Holmesburg prison in Pennsylvania seeking damages and medical treatment for injuries and illnesses caused by their exposure to infectious agents, radioactive isotopes, dioxin and psychotropic drugs. Among the defendants are Dow Chemical, Johnson & Johnson and Dr. Albert Kligman, the University of Pennsylvania dermatologist who conducted much of the research and is credited with developing the acne and wrinkle treatment, Retin A. On October 29, 2003, activists protested the awarding of a “lifetime achievement” award to Dr. Kligman by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

    Testifying before the Reparations Tribunal on Nov. 15th was Robert Davis, one of the victims of the Holmesburg prison experiments. "Dr. Klingman took many, many, many black inmates and tested them for public use. Johnson & Johnson products and God knows how many other chemicals. We were vulnerable because we were black and had no money. I worked in Holmesburg Prison for a penny and a half an hour in 1957, so naturally when the test thing came about - $100 a test, $35 a test. We have asked Dr. Kligman to, if he did no more than just apologize for the inhumane act, which he refused to do so. I mean, if you think about it, people raise all kinds of hell about using animals for guinea pigs, let alone a human being." While the extensive experimentation on prisoners that went on for decades throughout the country was curtailed by federal law in the mid-1970s, prison activists say it still goes on at some prisons.

    Sateesh Rogers, journalist with the Burning Spear Newspaper, provided expert testimony on the modern-day use of slave labor in prison. “Using the 13th amendment of the U.S. constitution, which states that ‘neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall be legal except when in punishment for a crime,’ the United States of America deliberately codified the use of slavery and involuntary servitude, placing itself in direct violation of Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights chartered by the United Nations. It would be foolhardy to contend that the fact that 1 in 10 African men is currently in prison because of anything other than the effort on behalf of the United States to preserve, maintain and expand its colonial relationship with African people. Besides the 1 in 10 of African people locked in prison, 3 out of every 5 are tied to the system in one form or another via the probation, parole or other forms of state supervision. This has tremendous implications for African people. Among other things it means that our ability to reproduce is cut by 50%. This also is a direct violation of U.N. statutes prohibiting genocide.”

    Numerous witnesses presented testimony in the category of police brutality. Faith Coalition for Political Action founding member Dawn Jones presented the case of her co-worker and church member, Alberta Spruill. Mrs. Spruill was a well-loved shop steward in District Council 37. Six months ago, she died of heart failure within an hour of the NYC police department’s execution of a search warrant for drugs that erroneously identified her Harlem apartment. As she was getting dressed for work, shortly after 6:00am, the police broke her door down with a battering ram, detonated flash grenades and broke her coffee table, causing her to fall into glass, cutting and breaking her arm. The 57-year-old grandmother was then handcuffed behind her back. An autopsy concluded that the raid aggravated her heart disease and she died from the stress caused by the flash grenade. Police Commissioner and Mayor Bloomberg have apologized for the mistake, attended her funeral and a bus line was named in her honor. According to Ms. Jones, apologies are insufficient. “Mrs. Spruill’s death has raised a myriad of concerns and questions over no-knock warrants, whether the informant will face criminal liability, whether any police officer will be held criminally responsible for her death and the manner in which communities of color are policed.”

    Also testifying on the topic of police brutality were Ramona Africa, the only adult survivor of the 1985 Philadelphia bombing of the MOVE house; Michael Coard, attorney for the families of police brutality and murder victims Donta Dawson and Kenneth Griffin, Esmay Parchment, elderly survivor of New Jersey police; Jervis Muwwakkil, whose some Jamil was killed by Oakland, CA police; and many others.

    Following the first day of testimony, People’s Advocate Omali Ye****ela, Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party, declared that, “All the testimony we’ve heard today clearly indicates that there is no justice to be found for us in the court system in this country; that the court system in this country is a process born out of our enslavement. It is in fact a system that was created for the purpose of maintaining the status quo; to protect the status quo. The terrible testimony we’ve heard and the magnitude of the crimes committed against our people by this government attest to the great need of our people for self-government. Our law and our justice is real law and real justice as opposed to what we have been confronted with in U.S. courts. The only thing missing at this juncture is that we don’t have the power to carry out the verdict. This Tribunal is a part of the process of building state power for African people.”

    On Sunday, November 16th, the Tribunal’s sponsor, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement formed a Reparations Commission, with representatives from African communities around the country. The work of the Commission will be to build the 13th Session of the Tribunal in 2004 as well as local Justice Hearings in cities around the country. The new Commission also set out to gather one million signatures on a petition for reparations to be submitted to the U.S. President, the U.S. Congress and various international bodies, including the United Nations.

    For more information on the Reparations Commission or for tapes of the testimony and judges summations delivered at the Tribunal, contact the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement at (727) 502-0575 or