June 30 National Clips

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.: Demand humane treatment for jailed immigrants

When undocumented workers looked out of their jail cell windows, June 19, they saw over 100 labor, religious and legal activists holding a vigil calling for action to improve conditions in the Albuquerque Regional Correction Center, and for national immigration reform.

Some of the 700 jailed workers’ families reported that their relatives are imprisoned in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, lack health care, experience language barriers and have been denied access to lawyers.

“As people of faith we have to question an immigration system that is causing innocent people to fall victim to exploitation on the job, detention under deplorable conditions and causing children to wait hopelessly to be reunited with their parents,” said Barbara Dua, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Churches.

American Civil Liberties Union leaders called the mistreatment and imprisonment unconstitutional. “The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights does not distinguish between the rights of citizens and immigrants,” said Brendan Egan of the ACLU. State ACLU director Peter Simonson added, “The Fifth Amendment prohibits subjecting any person in the custody of the United States to unnecessary pain and suffering.”

Centro de Igualidad y Derechos director Rachel Lazar said efforts were under way to correct conditions at the jail through the Bernallilo County commissioners.

The coalition called for an easy path to legalization and labor rights for all workers.



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.: Global concerts launch campaign on global warming

Here in the Meadowlands at Giants Stadium, and in London, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro and Hamburg, a simultaneous 24-hour concert spanning seven continents July 7 will kick off an international campaign seeking solutions to the crisis of global warming. An estimated 2 billion people are expected to participate either in stadiums or through various media, including at www.LiveEarth.msn.com.

The Alliance for Climate Protection, chaired by Al Gore; the Climate Group; Sierra Club; and scores of other organizations are sponsoring the event designed to “drive individuals, governments and corporations to action,” on global warming.

Over 100 musicians are on the program. Madonna composed a song, “Hey You,” for the event, and 25 cents from every Internet download will go toward funding the campaign. A million fans already have purchased the song.

The Sierra Club is hosting house parties around the United States and is encouraging members to send out press releases to call attention to the issue.

The Giants Stadium happening is being organized as a “green event.” Large outdoor festival veterans know they can be messy affairs. Organizers hired the Green Building Alliance to make sure green guidelines are followed.



RIVERDALE, Ill.: Jackson says get the guns off city streets

Homicide statistics spiked this year for the first time in nearly a decade, and numbers on a page do not begin to describe the human impact of gun violence, especially in the cities. Gun sales are banned in Chicago, so the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Father Michael Pfleger, a South Side priest, have been taking busloads of protesters to suburban gun stores for the past three weeks. On June 23, the two were arrested at Chuck’s Gun Shop in Riverdale.

“The suburbs have surrounded the city with these gun shops,” said Jackson. “Jobs are going out and guns are coming in.” Pfleger added, “Chuck’s becomes the poster boy for this issue. We need tougher gun laws so the kids are not dying in the streets.”

When the gun control advocates gathered in front of Chuck’s, owner John Riggio told them to clear the doorway and said two could come in. Inside, the store was jammed with pro-gun activists. Jackson described them as “hostile, dangerous and life-threatening.” Riggio called the police who took the two clergymen away in handcuffs and charged them with trespass.

Jackson and Pfleger vowed to return on June 30.



RENO, Nev.: State universities OK arming college staff

The state university system Board of Regents has given the green light to allow professors and staff to carry guns on campus. The Regents argued that the action was appropriate following the April mass shooting at Virginia Tech that left 33 people dead.

“I think you’d find very, very few faculty who would avail themselves of this,” said Stephen Rock, Faculty Senate chairman at the University of Nevada-Reno. But, he said, “The impact on departments, small departments could be very significant.”

Mike McFarlane, vice president for academic affairs at Great Basin College in Elko, said, “I think faculty generally are concerned with the proliferation of guns on campus.”

Regent Stavros Anthony, a Las Vegas police captain, pushed through the proposal. Under the plan, college faculty or staff who volunteer will be granted paid leave to attend a 21-week course at the police academy and become certified Nevada police officers. The armed faculty and staff would be under the command of each college’s police department.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696 @aol.com). Emil Shaw contributed.