Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Police State and Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. - Part II

In my last article I spoke about the similarities between the case of Skip Gates and that of Rosa Parks. Today I'm going to discuss what the case of Rodney King can teach us about the case of Henry Gates.

I know that probably 95% of my audience stopped reading immediately after seeing the name Rodney King. And I know that I seem to be contradicting everything I said in my previous article about this not being primarily a case of racism by bringing up the most racially charged incident in recent American history.

So why bring up Rodney King at all? Why fan the flames of racism? Well it was one of those serendipitous things that occasionally occurs when you're searching on the internet. You type a phrase into Google expecting to get one thing and come up with something totally different.

That's what happened to me. I was getting so frustrated about the nature of the online conversation regarding Dr. Gates' arrest that I yearned to gain some clarity. And I thought. as others have as well, if we could only get the tapes of the radio transmissions. Then we would finally be able to find out exactly what happened.

So I did a search using the following words - gates police tape. The first articles I found suggested that the Cambridge Police Department was considering releasing the tapes. Hey take your time. The arrest occurred on Thursday, July 16. That was ten days ago. No hurry. But first they have to review the tapes. Why? Are they trying to hide something? Are they giving the Police Union a chance to hear it first in case there is something that might reflect badly on one of their "brothers" in the fraternal order of police.

And what about the 911 call? Wouldn't it be relevant to hear what is on that call as well? Especially after so much vitriol and hatred has been spewed in the direction of a distinguished Harvard professor. And the one charge that has been repeated over and over that perhaps bothers me the most is the accusations that the real racist in this case is not the police officer, but instead it is the academic who has spent his life studying and fighting racism.

I clicked to the next page of results and then found this link "Shocked by Tape of King Beating, Gates Testifies - Los Angeles Times". Gates in this case referred to the former Los Angeles Police Department Chief Daryl F. Gates. You remember him, don't you? I was almost hypnotically drawn to open this link. And here is what I found.
Former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates, testifying Thursday in Rodney G. King's lawsuit against Gates and 14 other current and former officers, recalled his shock when he first saw the videotape of King's beating.

Asked his opinion of King's beating, he said, "We are not in business to beat people."

Asked if he thought King deserved to be beaten, he said, "I don't think anyone deserves a beating. Only that force which is reasonable and necessary should be used."

Milton Grimes, one of King's lawyers, suggested to Gates that if there had been a policeman's report instead of the videotape of the beating, no officer would have been disciplined for it.

Gates, who was continuing first-time testimony about the beating incident, did not answer but agreed that the report written by Officer Laurence M. Powell, which blamed King for the beating, would not have been sufficient grounds for punishing the policemen involved.

"If we had not been fortunate enough to have the videotape of the Rodney King beating, is it fair to say the officers would not have been disciplined?" asked attorney Milton Grimes.

Attorneys for Gates and the other defendants in King's suit objected that the question called for speculation, and the judge barred an answer. Grimes asked if Gates agreed that Powell's arrest report "did not accurately reflect the beating of Rodney King." Again, the question was ruled objectionable.
After reading this, thoughts began whirling through my head...

Did King deserve to be beaten? Did Gates deserve to be arrested?... If there hadn't been a tape of King's beating would the officers have been disciplined? If we could hear the tape of Gates' arrest would the officer be disciplined?... Did the arrest report accurately describe King's beating? Did the arrest report accurately describe Gates' statements to the officer?

The officers in the Rodney King case were charged with use of excessive force, but also with filing a false report. I felt the need to look at the Rodney King tapes again to refresh my memory.


Police Chief Gates was forced to resign as a result of the Rodney King beating. That seems harsh I thought? After all, what did he do? He wasn't at the scene when the officers brutally attacked an unarmed man. And then I clicked on page 2 of the article and was confronted with this.
Known for his sarcasm and shoot-from-the-lip style, Gates appeared subdued and professional on the witness stand.

Confronted with one of his comments that blacks react differently to chokeholds than do "normal people," Gates said he was not being racist but acknowledged: "That was probably an inelegant choice of words."

Asked if he said casual drug users should be shot to death, he replied, "I said casual drug users ought to be shot--not to death. That was a bit of hyperbole."
How soon we forget. But that was back in 1991 - almost twenty years ago. Surely things have changed. It reminded me of the song by Bruce Hornsby.
That's just the way it is
Some things will never change
So why do I bring all this up? And isn't it an exercise in hyperbole to compare the case of Gates with that of King? Yes, absolutely.

But the reason I bring this up is not for the purpose of drawing parallels between the arrest of Gates and King. The similarities really begin after the incident. The real similarities, the ones that disturb me and are the reason I'm taking the time to write this article, are in the reactions that I have seen online with respect to Dr. Gates arrest.

Consider this. If the "disorderly conduct" charges against Gates had not been dropped and he had gone to trial, what would have been the verdict of the jury? Well from the comments I have seen online, the verdict would have been very different depending on the racial makeup of the jury. And this is irrespective of whatever facts may have come out during the trial.

Let's get back to that audio tape of the police calls while Sgt. Crowley was on the scene. Here's the question I've been asking myself. Would the audio tape change anyone's mind?

Here's a different question. Did the video tapes of the Rodney King beating change the minds of the jury in that case? You may recall that the jury which consisted of ten Whites, one Filipino American, and one Hispanic, but no Blacks, found the officers not guilty - despite the video evidence. And you most certainly also recall that there was a riot that ensued following the verdict.

The point is that the video evidence, which seemed irrefutable, did not sway the non-Black jury. They concluded that there was no excessive force; there was no falsified police report; there was no racism involved whatsoever.

Fine. So why should I believe that the people that have already formed an opinion about Dr. Gates will suddenly change their minds if a sufficient amount of new evidence is brought to light? That would be naive.

And at the same time, why should I not believe that many people's opinions regarding the arrest of Dr. Gates are based on their racist attitudes? It would be naive not too.

If it had been an elderly cantankerous white professor who answered the door and had refused to come out of his home when ordered and had continuously badgered the officer to produce his official ID, would Sgt. Crowley have arrested him? I think we all know that he would not have.

But because it was an uppity black man that answered the door, the inevitable outcome was that Dr. Gates was arrested and taken into custody. Why? In order to humiliate him and put him in his proper place.

He had committed the "crime" of "contempt of cop". And not only that, he committed the "crime" of "contempt of cop" while Black. Do you want to see what at typical cops reaction to "contempt of cop" looks like. Take a look at this.

Following this incident a Baltimore Police spokesperson said, "given the extreme nature of that incident, we thought it was important for the officers to brush up on their interpersonal skills."

Look, I'm not saying that the officer shouldn't do his job. And I'm grateful that in this case he is keeping kids from skateboarding in an area where it is prohibited. All anyone is saying is that police officers need to treat the public with respect.

If you're dealing with a violent suspect, then use an appropriate amount of force in doing your job. But when dealing with the general public there should not be a hostile, superior attitude. We're the ones that pay your salaries. Remember?

But I wish it was just a matter of better manners and a respectful attitude. A little bit of training could easily clear that up. But I'm afraid that - as I said in my previous article - this goes much further than that. This is a matter of creeping fascism in society. You see it in the attitudes that support torture of terrorist suspects.

It started with the "war on crime" and SWAT teams, and then after 9/11 it escalated off the charts with the "war on terrorism". The police force is being turned into a military force. This is being further encouraged by the popular culture. In movies and TV shows, police are shown using extraordinary amounts of force. And despite the election of Barack Obama and the Democrats, there is no movement to dismantle the Police State created by Bush and the Republicans.

Unfortunately, even though America has recovered somewhat from the shock of 9/11 and a semblance of normality is returning to American society, there is still a slow drift towards fascism that every once in a while rears its ugly head. The case of Skip Gates is one of those moments.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Police State and Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr.

[UPDATE July 25, 2009: I added more material on Rosa Parks and the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. I hope you'll take the time to read it even if you've already read this article. Once I started looking into it in detail, the parallels to today's situation became even more striking.]

I'll try to make this a short post. I just want to get my two cents in on the arrest of Prof. Henry Gates of Harvard. I know I'm a little late and this is hardly what you would call "Future News" - it's more like yesterday's news. Still I'm hoping we haven't heard the end of this. And I'll try to explain why.

Alright, so the arguments come down to.
  • Did Gates act stupidly?
  • Did Sgt. Crowley act stupidly?
  • Did they both act stupidly?
So number one I think that Sgt. Crowley not only acted stupidly, but illegally. I've read a number of opinions on the web and the legal consensus seems to be that there was no way that Gates was guilty of disorderly conduct. The key here seems to be that for a charge of DO to stick, it has to
  • occur in a public space.
  • be capable of inciting public violence.
Crowley, the cop, seems to have enticed Gates into coming out onto his front porch which he (Crowley) knew from his knowledge of the law could be considered a public space. And then Crowley in his report states repeatedly (3 times to be exact) that Gates was acting in a "tumultuous" way. You can see for yourself in these excerpts from the police report.
On Thursday July 16, 2009, Henry Gates, Jr. of Ware Street, Cambridge, MA was placed under arrest at Ware Street, after being observed exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior, in a public place, directed at a uniformed police officer who was present investigating a report of a crime in progress. These actions on the behalf of Gates served no legitimate purpose and caused citizens passing by this location to stop and take notice while appearing surprised and alarmed.
As I descended the stairs to the sidewalk, Gates continued to yell at me, accusing me of racial bias and continued to tell me that I had not heard the last of him. Due to the tumultuous manner Gates had exhibited in his residence as well as his continued tumultuous behavior outside the residence, in view of the public, I warned Gates that he was becoming disorderly. Gates ignored my warning and continued to yell, which drew the attention of both the police officers and citizens, who appeared surprised and alarmed by Gates’s outburst. For a second time I warned Gates to calm down while I withdrew my department issued handcuffs from their carrying case. Gates again ignored my warning and continued to yell at me. It was at this time that I informed Gates that he was under arrest.
Why the choice of the word "tumultuous"? It's a good question because it's not a common word used to describe a person's behavior. The reason that Crowley chose to use this particular word is because it is part of the legal definition of "disorderly conduct" in Massachusetts law.

Long Aside on the ridiculous stupidity of Massachusetts Laws

The official laws of Massachusetts are indisputably and undeniably screwed up. Even if you were to read and memorize all the laws of MA you would still not have any idea of what constituted legal behavior and what did not. Furthermore the laws in MA are totally antiquated. For instance there is still a law in Massachusetts that prohibits "fornication".

Chapter 272: Section 18. Fornication

Section 18. Whoever commits fornication shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than three months or by a fine of not more than thirty dollars.
And in case you don't know the meaning of "fornication", MA law is nice enough to spell it out for us in plain English.
Chapter 277: Section 39. Construction of words used in indictment

Fornication.—Sexual intercourse between an unmarried male and an unmarried female.
So, just to make that perfectly clear, if you live in Massachusetts and you have sex with your girlfriend, you have just committed a "crime against chastity, morality, decency and good order". And you could actually be put in jail. So just keep that in mind as we talk about "the law" in Massachusetts as it concerns what happened to Prof. Gates. Do you still wonder why I have disdain for the law, police and court system in Massachusetts?

Back to the issue at hand

So the reason I got into that long aside, is that I have read a number of people's attempted explanations at what exactly constitutes "disorderly conduct" in Massachusetts. But if you actually read what the law says, there is nothing that applies to the type of situation that happened in this case. You actually have to get into court cases and read the judges opinions to get any kind of an idea as to what constitutes "disorderly conduct". And even then it's not at all clear.

My conclusion is that the only people that know exactly what is meant by "disorderly conduct" are the police themselves. They have more or less created this concept out of thin air. And through a sort of conspiracy of the police, judges and attorney have incorporated it into the legal system. So that the citizen - who is supposed to be protected by the law - has no idea what constitutes "disorderly conduct". And in fact DO means whatever the police and the courts want it to mean. It's just a charge that can get slapped onto someone when nothing else fits, or added on to a victim of the Police State at the whim of the legal system.

So getting back to the original question - did Gates act stupidly? Well that all depends on what you mean. And I think this is where people online and in the general public conversation are talking past each other. Would it be "smart" to act in a deferential way to a police officer when confronted by him? Well if your objective is to avoid arrest at all cost, then it probably is.

But what if your objective is to uphold your civil liberties at all cost? That's a different question, and one that I think is well worth exploring. And it is in that sense that I applaud the actions of Prof. Gates and wish that he would pursue this case to the limits of the judicial system. Now I don't think he will because even though he presents himself as a sort of rebel, he is basically an establishment Negro. And if that comes off as a putdown, then it is just as I intended. And the same goes for Obama who never speaks up on any issue of racial justice and has already begun to backtrack on his police "acted stupidly" statement. You know - why challenge the system that is so good to you?

But if Prof. Gates did wish to continue to go through with this case, then yes we really could have a "Rosa Parks moment". But first Dr. Gates needs to realize that this case is not primarily about racism (even if there may be a racist component to what occurred) but that it is about a different but related "ism". I'm talking about Fascism and the rise of the Police State in America.

Rosa Parks and Henry Gates

So what did Rosa Parks do? One day she got on the bus all tired and she just didn't feel like walking all the way to the "back of the bus", and either find a seat or be forced to stand up. So she just plopped down on a seat in the front of the bus. And the rest is history. Here is how Rosa tells the story.
People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.

When Parks refused to give up her seat, a police officer arrested her. As the officer took her away, she recalled that she asked, "Why do you push us around?" The officer's response as she remembered it was, "I don't know, but the law's the law, and you're under arrest." She later said, "I only knew that, as I was being arrested, that it was the very last time that I would ever ride in humiliation of this kind."
Henry Gates came home one day from a trip to China and he was all tired and was confronted by a police officer and just wasn't in the mood to take it, and just let it all out. He mistook the officer's attitude as being racist because he could not conceive of the alternative that the officer's attitude was actually fascist. There is no contradiction here because under a fascist system there is usually some ethnic group that dominates the society.

Anyway what Rosa Parks did was to challenge Jim Crow laws. (Did you know that "Jim Crow" was a derogatory term for Black people?) These laws were patently racist and unconstitutional, and yet they had been the law of the land for many years. Similarly, the unwritten Police State laws that we live under today need to be challenged. It is imperative that the police learn that they are indeed here "to protect and serve". Instead the police have slowly become a paramilitary occupation force.

And BTW, this is really interesting. Guess what Rosa Parks was charged with? When she was arrested the excuse was that she was violating Chapter 6, Section 11 of the Montgomery City code. But technically she wasn't in violation because she was actually sitting in the black section when the driver ordered her to move to give up her seat for some White folks that had just boarded the bus.
In 1900, Montgomery had passed a city ordinance for the purpose of segregating passengers by race. Conductors were given the power to assign seats to accomplish that purpose; however, no passengers would be required to move or give up their seat and stand if the bus was crowded and no other seats were available. Over time and by custom, however, Montgomery bus drivers had adopted the practice of requiring black riders to move whenever there were no white only seats left.

So, following standard practice, bus driver Blake noted that the front of the bus was filled with white passengers and there were two or three men standing, and thus moved the "colored" section sign behind Parks and demanded that four black people give up their seats in the middle section so that the white passengers could sit. Years later, in recalling the events of the day, Parks said, "When that white driver stepped back toward us, when he waved his hand and ordered us up and out of our seats, I felt a determination cover my body like a quilt on a winter night."
So perhaps to make sure that there was a "valid" legal reason for charging Mrs. Parks the prosecution added another charge. Have you guessed it by now?
Four days later, Parks was tried on charges of disorderly conduct and violating a local ordinance. The trial lasted 30 minutes. Parks was found guilty and fined $10, plus $4 in court costs.
Is there a better case to illustrate my point that "disorderly conduct" is a catch-all charge and that it is defined by the police and the courts in a manner that suits their purpose at the time? I hope that Prof. Gates, who is an authority on racism in the United States, will take the time to recall the events of 1955 and realize the similarities to his own situation in 2009. It took over 50 years to put an end to the Police State's segregation laws. It's been more than 50 years since then and it is time to take the next step. It's time to put an end to this humiliating behavior on the part of the police. Dr. Gates has a unique opportunity to initiate this action just as Rosa Parks provided the spark for the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Sadly, pathetically, our first African-American President has ducked his historical responsibility to further the Civil Rights movement. We can only pray and remain hopeful that the spirit of Rosa Parks will come over Henry Louis Gates Jr. and "cover his body like a quilt on a winter night". And that it will stiffen his spine and give him the courage and conviction to "do the right thing" - just like Rosa Parks.

Police are public servants

The police need to be taught a lesson that they are "public servants". They are here to serve us, not to subjugate us and to keep us under constant surveillance. A police officer should treat all members of the public with respect. An officer should inform a citizen of his rights, instead of trying to devise methods to strip citizens of their rights. A clear example is when Sgt. Crowley lured Prof. Gates out of his house into a "public" space in order to be able to arrest him. This was a trick that he had learned in his training. And he emphasized in his report that he arrested Gates in a "public space". Now I would hardly call a man's front porch a "public space", but the devious Crowley knew that the interior of his house was by no means a "public space".

Why is it that police are not required to inform us of our rights until after we are arrested. In fact those so-called "Miranda rights" are a mere shadow of our true rights. Those are the few rights that we have left after being arrested. For some reason a police officer is not legally compelled to inform a citizen of his full rights when confronted.

For instance Crowley should have informed Gates that he had the right to remain in his house and not come outside. Some have conjectured that had Gates come outside immediately that Crowley would have arrested him. Crowley denies this, but I have no doubt that this is exactly what would have happened. Again, Crowley knew that he could not arrest Gates in his house without a warrant so this was another "trick" at his disposal. But Gates was probably unaware of this.

[EDIT 7/25/09: As it turns out I was wrong about this. According to Gates in a radio interview with Gayle King, he was fully aware that if he stepped outside that the officer would be able to immediately arrest him. He says that it was for this reason that he refused to step outside. He also stated that the officer's tone was very hostile and that made him immediately apprehensive. The audio interview is available in two parts - Part 1, Part 2.]

On the other hand, despite some comments on the internet, my understanding is that Crowley did have the right to enter Gates' home without a warrant. That's because he had received a 9-11 call and that provided him with sufficient reason to enter the home. If he then found some burglars in the home, then he certainly could have arrested them.

Police must have ID in Massachusetts

There is one thing that I want to emphasize because it has received almost no attention in this discussion. Massachusetts has a law that requires police to to carry identification cards.


Chapter 41: Section 98D. Identification cards

Section 98D. Each city or town shall issue to every full time police officer employed by it an identification card bearing his photograph and the municipal seal. Such card shall be carried on the officer’s person, and shall be exhibited upon lawful request for purposes of identification.
That's not some department recommended procedure, that's a law! Sgt. Crowley was surely aware of this law from his extensive training - he sure knew all the laws that would allow him to arrest Prof. Gates - but he chose to ignore it. In so doing he committed a crime! Of course since we are living in a Police State, there appears to be no applicable punishment for this crime.

The point is that Prof. Gates was fully within his rights to ask the officer to properly identify himself. Sgt. Crowley refused to do this. In his reports he claims to have already identified himself, but he appears to be referring to a brief introduction.
As I turned and faced the door, I could see an older black male standing in the foyer of xx Ware Street. I made this observation through the glass paned front door. As I stood in plain view of this man, later identified as Gates, I asked if he would step out onto the porch and speak with me. He replied “no I will not”. He then demanded to know who I was. I told him that I was “Sgt. Crowley from the Cambridge Police” and that I was “investigating a report of a break in progress” at the residence.
I asked Gates to provide me with photo identification so that I could verify that he resided at Ware Street and so that I could radio my findings to ECC. Gates initially refused, demanding that I show him identification but then did supply me with a Harvard University identification card. Upon learning that Gates was affiliated with Harvard, I radioed and requested the presence of the Harvard University Police.

With the Harvard University identification in hand, I radioed my findings to ECC on channel two and prepared to leave. Gates again asked for my name which I began to provide. Gates began to yell over my spoken words by accusing me of being a racist police officer and leveling threats that he wasn’t someone to mess with. At some point during this exchange, I became aware that Off. Carlos Figueroa was standing behind me. When Gates asked a third time for my name, I explained to him that I had provided it at his request two separate times. Gates continued to yell at me. I told Gates that I was leaving his residence and that if he had any other questions regarding the matter, I would speak with him outside of the residence.

As I began walking through the foyer toward the front door, I could hear Gates again demanding my name. I again told Gates that I would speak with him outside.
Even if you choose to believe the details of the police report - which I don't because police routinely lie in their reports - you can see that at no time did Sgt. Crowley provide his official identification card as required by law. So Prof. Gates had good reason to be upset. Hopefully he will stay upset long enough to take this case to court and to force the Cambridge Police Dept. and police departments across America to begin "to protect and serve" instead of suppress and subjugate.

Additional information and documents
[EDIT 7/25/09: I created this section to provide easy access to some supporting material.]

  • Prof. Gates did an interview with The Root in which he explained the sequence of events which led to his being arrested and taken into police custody. Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the editor-in-chief of the The Root online magazine. The article is titled "Skip Gates Speaks".
  • There is a two part audio interview that was conducted by Gayle King in which Prof. Gates directly answers many of the criticisms that have been hurled at him. Part 1Part 2.
  • The Root online magazine which is providing updates and other related articles.
  • PDF of the Police Reports submitted by Sgt. James Crowley and Officer Carlos Figueroa.
  • Partial text transcript of the police report submitted by Sgt. James Crowley.
  • Wikipedia article on Rosa Parks.
If you have any other relevant sources, you can add them to the comments. Thanks.

Related Posts

Friday, July 10, 2009

Peter KKKing - racist, anti-muslim, terrorist

I just thought people should know exactly who this Peter King character is who goes around calling Michael Jackson the most offensive names while his family and fans are still in grieving. Didn't his mother ever teach him to respect the dead? Anyway PKKK is not dead (yet) and you know the old saying about people who live in glass houses. So I'm grabbing a fistful of rocks and throwing them with all my might. Damn that tinkling noise sounds like music to my ears.

If Michael was here this is what he would be doing to PKKK's ride.

Uh-oh. Better get Maaco.

If you haven't seen PKKKs amateurish racial rant, you can find it here. I'm not going to embed it because I don't want to have that kind of trash on my blog. But I did watch it after it garnered so much attention. You would think that a sitting congressman would display a little more civility in public. But PKKK has never had a penchant for manners in the past, so why should we expect him to start now? It all comes down to upbringing - at least that's what my dear departed grandmother always used to say.

But really there's no excuse for ignorance; least of all from a public official; least of all with regards to someone who has just recently departed from this world; least of all with respect to someone who brought so much joy into this world.

And it is about respect. Respect for the world's greatest entertainer. Respect for all the African-Americans who share this country with White bigots like PKKK. But should we expect anything different from someone like this? Yes, we should. It's about time that America abandoned its racist past. Yes, we elected a Black president. But some wounds just seem to take longer to heal than others.

But what was most disturbing was not the statements of a lone member of the House of Representatives. No, what was most disturbing was the warm reception that this thinly veiled racist diatribe evoked from so many Americans online and in the media.

And then, as if to top it off, Nancy Pelosi - the Democratic Speaker of the House - who claims to be a liberal and who claims to be worthy of the support of Blacks and Latinos and other minorities when it comes election time, stands up before the assembled press of America and declares that she will not allow a non-binding resolution honoring Michael Jackson to come to a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. Why? Because, a group of Republicans led by PKKK were objecting to it and might take the opportunity to make a political issue out of it. Well then, bring it on. Let them raise a raucous. Let them utter their venomous speeches on the congressional floor. Let all of America hear what it is that they most object to about this resolution.

Let's not sweep this under the rug. Let's get this out in the open. Let all the Rush Limbaugh acolytes pronounce in front of a national audience, all the vile, putrid, hate-filled speech that they have been muttering in private amongst themselves. If that's what they want.

But Nancy Pelosi instead cowered before them. Let me tell you something. If you don't stand up to a bully, then he will continue to persecute you forever. And that is exactly what this PKKK is. A big bully. A brute. Sure, he acts tough. But if you confront him, you will see that he will go running for cover. He's all talk. That's all. If he wants to play rough, then let's play rough.

So here you go tough guy. Remember this? This is you in an interview with Politico expressing your anti-Muslim views that we have "too many mosques in this country".

And then you continue to put your foot deeper in your mouth by saying "we [the Police] should be looking at them [Muslims] more carefully". Right. Because they might be terrorists lurking among them, right? Of course that might be considered discriminatory, right? But we all know Muslims are terrorists - who are we kidding? Right? We shouldn't be looking at Irish people like you, right? Irish people aren't terrorists, right?

So if all that is true - and it must be because you say it is - then why is it that in 1984, when President Reagan made a trip to Nassau County to watch a Special Olympics event, that the Secret Service (you know, the guys that protect the President) had you on their Terrorist Threat List? Gee, I wonder. Could it be because you were closely associated with a group of people that on multiple occasions planted bombs that resulted in death and destruction of property? A group called the IRA? You know, the Irish Republican Army. You remember that, don't you? Those were good times, huh? Hanging out with your masked friends in an Irish bar in Northern Ireland. Downing a few Guinness and bragging about how you and your mates were going to get even with those evil Protestants and Brits. I think we even have a few choice quotes. Remember this?
Since the late 1970s, a Long Island congressman, Peter King, has been aligned with one of the most violent terrorist groups in recent European history, defying critics in his own Republican Party and elsewhere, and yet managing to prosper.
Once a vocal and frequent House champion for the IRA's political wing, Sinn Fein, and its leader, Gerry Adams, the 60-year-old, Queens-born Mr. King has said nothing about either on the House floor in years. The politician once called the IRA "the legitimate voice of occupied Ireland," he was banned from the BBC by British censors for his pro-IRA views, and he refused to denounce the IRA when one of its mortar bombs killed nine Northern Irish police officers. But Mr. King is now one of America's most outspoken foes of terrorism.
It was in the late 1970s that Mr. King first got involved in the Irish issue, but it struck some as an unlikely choice. His family hailed from Limerick and Galway, but apart from a great-uncle who was in the IRA in the 1920s, the Sunnyside native had no roots in revolutionary politics.
He forged links with leaders of the IRA and Sinn Fein in Ireland, and in America he hooked up with Irish Northern Aid, known as Noraid, a New York based group that the American, British, and Irish governments often accused of funneling guns and money to the IRA. At a time when the IRA's murder of Lord Mountbatten and its fierce bombing campaign in Britain and Ireland persuaded most American politicians to shun IRA-support groups, Mr. King displayed no such inhibitions. He spoke regularly at Noraid protests and became close to the group's publicity director, the Bronx lawyer Martin Galvin, a figure reviled by the British.

Mr. King's support for the IRA was unequivocal. In 1982, for instance, he told a pro-IRA rally in Nassau County: "We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry."

By the mid-1980s, the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic were openly hostile to Mr. King. On one occasion, a judge threw him out of a Belfast courtroom during the murder trial of IRA men because, in the judge's view, "he was an obvious collaborator with the IRA." When he attended other trials, the police singled him out for thorough body searches.

During his visits to Ireland, Mr. King would often stay with well-known leaders of the IRA, and he socialized in IRA drinking haunts. At one of such clubs, the Felons, membership was limited to IRA veterans who had served time in jail. Mr. King would almost certainly have been red-flagged by British intelligence as a result, but the experience gave him plenty of material for the three novels he subsequently wrote featuring the IRA.
Aye, lad. Those were the days. You didn't think we'd forget - did ya laddie? Seems a bit embarrassing now - don't you think? What with the "war on terrorism" and all that. Hey, but now we get to blow up Muslims in the Middle East. That's almost as much fun as blowing up Brits in London. And the great part is, it's all legal and patriotic now! We've got the President and the military all firmly on board. And there's PKKK leading the charge.
Six weeks after September 11, 2001, he told WABC radio that the military should use tactical nuclear weapons in Afghanistan if it was believed that Islamic terrorists would deploy chemical weapons on American soil. Last year, he inflamed American Muslim groups when he said that 85% of mosques in this country have extremist leaders and that Muslims in this country were reluctant to help law enforcement.
Man! You are one blood-thirsty dude. Nuclear weapons - yeah! It must feel good. It's a big step up from pipe bombs. Tell me, did you go around blowing stuff up when you were a kid? When you heard about the Federal Building that got blown up in Oklahoma, were you thinking - "Gee, I wish I'd 've been there to see that! Shazam! Boom! Pow! Awesome dude!"

That must be one special congressional district you come from, to elect a congressman like you. Because, man - let me tell you something - you are something special. In fact your a work of art. I mean when they made you, they threw away the mold. Thank goodness.

So let's just take a look at your extra special congressional district, courtesy of your congressional webpage. Why lookie here! You posted the demographics of your district. You know, I've gone to many a congressional website and I can't remember a single congressperson (besides you) that posted the demographics of their district up on their website. So let's have a look at it, since you're so proud of this fact and want to share it with the world.
Total Population: 580,337
White - 90%
Hispanic - 4%
Black - 2%
Asian/Pacific Islander - 3%
Other - 1%
Why yes, that is special - 90% white, only 2% black. What kind of gerrymandering did the State politicians in New York have to do to get those kind of numbers? And I'm guessing most of those White folks are Irish - else why would they vote for you?

But look at this - now who says your a racist mother f-f-f - ooops! I see your showing a little love for a Brother. It says here you sponsored a congressional resolution to honor Black heavyweight champ Jack Johnson. Now what was that you said about Congress wasting it's time passing useless resolutions in favor of Black celebrities? Well, never mind. At least your honoring an African-American, and being a racist White dude, that's awful big of you. But you do know this cat's been dead for over 60 years. So you're honoring him now? Alright, "well better late then never", that's what my sweet grandmother used to say. Maybe in another 60 years you'll sponsor a resolution honoring Michael Jackson. Is there a reason we have to wait that long? Why not just do it now, when the people that know and love him and care about him are still around to enjoy that moment. Why steal this moment from all of them - all of us?

It'll be a great day in America when you and all your generation are dead and gone from this land. I only hope you have not passed on your hatred to your children and grandchildren. That was what Michael Jackson and so many like him tried to accomplish.

Michael... Are you there? Are you listening? Do you remember the day in 1984 that President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan honored you at the White House?


I know why you're here and with good reason. To see one of the most talented, most popular and most exciting superstars in the music world today - MICHAEL JACKSON.

Michael, welcome to the White House. I hope you'll forgive me, but we have quite a few young folks in the White House who all wanted me to give you the same message. They said to tell Michael, "Please give some TLC to the PYTs".

(Michael, bends over laughing. Trying to keep a dignified look on his face as he breaks out into a big smile.)

I know that sounds a little "off the wall", but you know what I mean.

(Michael cracks up again, bending over in laughter.)

And Michael I have another message from your fans in the Washington, D.C. area. They said, "we want you back". So when you begin your greatly awaited cross-country tour, will you please be sure to stop off here in the nation's capital.

(President Reagan reading from plaque.)

"To MICHAEL JACKSON with appreciation for the outstanding example you have set for the youth of America and the World."


I'm very, very honored. Thank you very much Mr. President and Mrs. Reagan.
Did you ever think that the day would come after you died that a congressman from New York would speak out in such hate filled speech against you. What about you Ronny? And Nancy? We all make mistakes. We all have our faults. Lets not judge a man by the color of skin, but by the character of his soul. We all have our faults, we have all made mistakes. Now that you have passed on to another life, in a higher place. Now that you are free of this earthly body. Now that you are free. WE, who love you, honor you. Mikaeel, R.I.P.

I leave you now with these words that Michael Jackson spoke at an NAACP awards ceremony in 1994.

"The Truth will be my Salvation"


UPDATE - July 17, 2009

[I added a few links to the article. I also want to let my readers know about the custom of passing congressional resolutions in honor of America's greatest entertainer.]

Did you know that Congress declared May 13, 2008 Frank Sinatra Day? Or that Congress passed a resolution honoring Elvis Presley? Ostensibly that resolution honored Presley's former home as a National Historic Landmark, but just take a look at some of the text of the resolution and tell me that it isn't really designed to honor the King of Rock 'n Roll.
Whereas Graceland--
(1) served as the home and private retreat of Elvis Aaron Presley from 1957 through 1977; and
(2) is intimately connected to the musical and cultural heritage of Elvis Aaron Presley;

Whereas Elvis Presley is--
(1) universally recognized as the `King of Rock and Roll';
(2) known to generations by only his first name; and
(3) widely agreed to be one of the most famous and influential American cultural icons of the 20th century;


Whereas Elvis Presley continues to maintain a preeminent position on numerous Top Artist Achievements lists, including--
(1) `Most Chart Hits';
(2) `Most Top 10 Hits';
(3) `Most Top 40 Hits';
(4) `Most Weeks at the number 1 Position';
(5) `Most Consecutive number 1 Hits';
(6) `Most Consecutive Top 10 Hits'; and
(7) `Most Gold and Platinum Hits';
So if the King of Rock 'n Roll can be honored by Congress, then why not the King of Pop? If "ol' blue eyes" can be honored, why not "the gloved one"? Neither Presley nor Sinatra were without their faults. Elvis was known for his drug abuse, and Frank for his close association with Mafia figures. Neither could be considered saintly figures when it comes to their sex lives. In fact Elvis would be considered a child molester by today's standards.
Elvis and Priscilla met in 1959 at a party in Bad Nauheim, Germany during his stay in the army.[55] She was 14 at the time, while he was 24. They quickly began a romantic relationship and were frequently together until Elvis left Germany in 1960.
Isn't it a time to put an end to the racist hypocrisy of the Michael Jackson critics? He was honored in a White House ceremony by Ronald Reagan in 1984. He was honored in another White House ceremony by President George H. W. Bush in 1990 who presented him with a special "Artist of the Decade" award. And yet the best the first African-American President of the United States, Barack Obama, could muster up was a message of condolences sent through his press secretary Robert Gibbs.
"I talked to [the president] about it this morning. He said to me that obviously Michael Jackson was a spectacular performer and a music icon," Gibbs said, according to Newsweek. "I think everybody remembers hearing his songs, watching him moonwalk on television during Motown's 25th anniversary. But the president also said [Jackson] had aspects of his life that were sad and tragic. And his condolences went out to the Jackson family and to the fans that mourned his loss."
Obama could have taken the moment to officially honor the fabled entertainer. Instead his statement gave unneeded credence to the tabloid accounts of Michael's life. Obama didn't need an Act of Congress to honor a great American. He failed the country through his lack of leadership on this issue. And he especially failed the African-American community. Instead he let the racists like Peter King have their day.

Perhaps President Obama should take some time out from his busy schedule to listen anew to the lyrics of "We are the World", written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie in 1985. This hit single raised $63 million for famine relief in Africa. Maybe one day he will pass by Malia's room in the White House and will hear these words echoing through those hallowed halls...
We can't go on pretending day by day
That someone somewhere will soon make a change.
Michael was way ahead of you Barack. He not only talked about change - he dedicated his life to making a difference.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

URGENT: Mairead Maguire of the Free Gaza 21 is on a Hunger Strike

UPDATE: July 6, 2009 3:00 PM

By this time I'm sure you have read the reports that all of the Free Gaza 21 have been released from Israeli prisons. Here are the latest tweets from Free Gaza and Cynthia McKinney.
FREE GAZA: "FreeGaza21 signed NO DOCUMENTS in order to leave Israel. Were accused of entering Israel illegally. Israel dropped all charges."

CYNTHIA MCKINNEY: "Cynthia McKinney is on the plane and on her way HOME!"
Be sure to look for interviews with the activists once they return home in tonight's news.

I did manage to find a news story in a Irish news site that confirmed that Mairead Maguire was on a hunger strike before being released from prison. The article also mentions that she was being denied access to medicines for chronic conditions.
Ms Maguire was being held incommunicado in an Israeli prison yesterday, deprived since last week of thyroid and cholesterol medicines and a change of clothing. She was continuing with a fast begun on Friday in solidarity with the 1.5 million people of Gaza.
This is despicable behavior on the part of her Israeli captors. Just imagine - if this is the way they treat a 65 year old Nobel Peace Price laureate then how do they treat the thousands of Palestinians that are languishing in Israeli Prisons? And this is a point the Free Gaza movement brings up repeatedly - please don't focus on us, the real victims are the Palestinian People. In the words of Jenny Graham, the wife of Derek Graham who was one of the Free Gaza 21...
“Of course, I am very relieved to hear that my husband will be released unharmed. However, while Derek and the other 20 Free Gaza activists are to be freed, Gaza remains unfree, existing under the brutal Israeli siege which Derek, Mairead and the others set out to break in the first place. We must not forget this fact, and we in the Free Gaza Movement will not give up our fight to help the 1.5 million people of Gaza.” 

Latest Twitter message from Cynthia McKinney.
Mairead Maguire is 1 of the GAZA 21, imprisoned by the Israelis while on a humanitarian mission 2 Gaza...she started a hunger strike 4 Gaza!
That is all the information that is available right now. I searched the web and no one else is reporting this just yet. I'll update the story as new information comes in. Mairead Maguire is a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Here is the caption from the above picture. It is from a previous Free Gaza trip which was successful in breaking the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead McGuire, who arrived in Gaza on the "Free Gaza" boat, left, holds a gift from Gaza's Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, right, at his office in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008. The boat carrying international protesters sailed into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday to bring attention to Israel's blockade of the Hamas-controlled territory. The 27 passengers include McGuire, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland. 
Follow Cynthia McKinney on Twitter.

Follow Free Gaza on Twitter.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Free Gaza 21

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.

I did not for a moment feel confined, and the walls seemed a great waste of stone and mortar. 

- Henry David Thoreau 1849, "Civil Disobedience"


UPDATE: Friday, July 4, 2009 12:30 AM

I came across a statement issued on June 26, 2009 from the so-called "quartet" which consists of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia. I thought this excerpt was particularly relevant in light of the mission of the Free Gaza movement and given the Israeli reaction.
The Quartet called for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including food, fuel, and medical treatment.
One of the participants in the meeting which produced this statement was US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell. So the Obama administration is on record of supporting the goals of the Free Gaza organization. But what I'd like to know is, what exactly are they doing about it? Rather than waste time and taxpayer money on fancy meetings that produce fancy statements how about actually doing what you say and getting some relief supplies into Gaza. The US certainly has the resources to deliver the "humanitarian assistance, including food, fuel, and medical treatment". So what's stopping President Obama from doing exactly what the Free Gaza movement is doing and delivering the needed supplies?

And here is what the the Free Gaza movement has declared to be its mission.
We want to break the siege of Gaza. We want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation. We want to uphold Palestine's right to welcome internationals as visitors, human rights observers, humanitarian aid workers, journalists, or otherwise.

We have not and will not ask for Israel’s permission. It is our intent to overcome this brutal siege through civil resistance and non-violent direct action, and establish a permanent sea lane between Cyprus and Gaza.
The key difference is that the Free Gaza movement does not accept that Israel has any authority to control the borders of Gaza. This is one of those truths that in the words of the founders of the United States of America is "self-evident". Don't the people of Gaza have the "unalienable rights" of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Who is Israel to deprive them of these rights? Perhaps President Obama should refresh his memory of American history.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states.
Now just substitute Gaza for the colonies, and Israel for the King of Great Britain and the similarities of the situation are inescapable. The very least that President Obama should do under the circumstances is to issue a public statement condemning Israel for its capture of these brave souls and demanding their unconditional release.


UPDATE: Friday, July 3, 2009 6:30 PM

Two part interview with Huwaida Arraf, one of the founders of Free Gaza, by Hesham Tillawi of Current Issues TV. Huwaida was aboard the Spirit of Humanity and recounts the moment the ship was boarded by the Israeli Navy. She also discusses the current situation of the crew and passengers that are still being held prisoner by Israel. They are considering challenging Israel's action in the courts. One of the issues is that Israel is insisting on formally deporting them which would mean that none of them could re-enter Israel or Palestine for at least 10 years.


UPDATE: Friday, July 3, 2009 2:30 PM

Cynthia McKinney calls in to WBAIX, now as Israel Prisoner 88794 during her 2nd day in Prison.


UPDATE: Friday, July 3, 2009 11:30 AM

The Irish Foreign Minister released this official statement on July 2.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin, T.D., has called for the swift release of two Irish nationals, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire and Derek Graham, who are currently being detained in Israel awaiting deportation, following the seizure on 30 June of a boat, The Spirit of Humanity, sailing with a consignment of humanitarian goods from Cyprus to Gaza.

“My Department has been closely following the situation arising from the seizure on Tuesday by the Israeli Navy of The Spirit of Humanity and has been in ongoing contact at a senior level with Israeli authorities, both through the Israeli Embassy here and our own Ambassador and Embassy in Tel Aviv.”

“My immediate priority is ensuring the safety and welfare of Ms. Maguire and Mr. Graham and securing their release as soon as possible. I have been assured by the Israeli authorities that they are both well and are being properly treated. An officer from the Irish Embassy in Tel Aviv visited yesterday with Ms. Maguire and Mr. Graham to provide assistance and will endeavour to make a further consular visit today”

“I would again renew my call for the release of Ms. Maguire and Mr. Graham as well as the other nineteen passengers detained on The Spirit of Humanity. I would also call upon the Israeli Government to ensure that the humanitarian supplies for the people of Gaza being transported on The Spirit of Humanity are made available as soon as possible to the Palestinian authorities for distribution”, added the Minister.

“I do not need to recall my strong views on the completely unacceptable nature of the blockade now being imposed on the people of Gaza. All border crossings into Gaza should be opened immediately to humanitarian and normal commercial traffic so that the dire humanitarian situation can be adequately addressed and the reconstruction of Gaza begin. This is the only effective remedy which we should seek to offer to the long-suffering people of Gaza.”
I'm still waiting for a similar statement from Secretary of State Clinton...


UPDATE: Friday, July 3, 2009 10:30 AM

The latest news from Free Gaza via their Twitter account
Bahrain plane landed, all charity workers on board and safe. Rest of our human rights workers still held in Israeli prison, boat confiscated
about 7 hours ago from web 

Bahrainis released, Flown home by king's private jet- Al Jazeera journalists later on today, given back camera, no tapes
about 9 hours ago from web
Here is the same news as reported by Bahrain News Agency
Following the directives of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the directives of the Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, and within the framework of the care given by the Kingdom of Bahrain to its nationals abroad who are exposed to conditions that might limit their personal liberty and the consideration of the conditions of a number of Bahraini citizens who were detained by Israeli authorities while on a breaking the siege boat, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted several organisations and international bodies along with friendly countries to secure the release of people detained in Israel.

The efforts resulted in the approval of the Israeli authorities to hand over detainees to the representatives of the Kingdom of Bahrain. As a result, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior sent a mission to Ben Gurion Airport to receive the Bahrainis detained. The citizens were received by the mission from the Israeli authorities and are safe and in good health.
Considerng that Bahrain doesn't even recognize Israel and therefore doesn't have diplomatic relations with Israel, this is quite remarkable. Now compare that with the official US reaction which has been dead silence. This despite the fact that there are at least 3 US citizens among the group that was onboard the Spirit of Humanity and one of those, Cynthia McKinney, is a former US congressperson. In comparison the foreign ministers of both Greece and Ireland have made official statements calling for the release of the captive Free Gaza 21.

It is truly shameful that neither President Obama nor Secretary of State Clinton have made any official statements calling for the release of US citizens in Israeli custody. Once again the US government demonstrates through its actions (or lack thereof) that it is a puppet of the State of Israel. When is the US going to begin to stand up to the tiny nation of Israel? Would the US tolerate this kind of action by any other nation? We invaded Grenada with the simple excuse that there were a handful of US citizens that were medical students there at the time, and yet Israel can kidnap US citizens on the high seas and not even a peep comes out of the White House or State Department. How sad and pathetic.


UPDATE: Thursday, July 2, 2009 9:30 PM

I just found this report from Democracy Now. It includes interview with Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire speaking from an Israeli jail. And an interview with Free Gaza founder Huwaida Arraf.

Here is a small excerpt from the transcript of the show.
MAIREAD MAGUIRE: Yes. We have just been locked into our cells now for a couple of hours. We are currently going through their process. We are being charged with entering illegally into Israeli—near Israeli shores. We are going, it looks like, to be deported from Israel. We did not choose to come to Israel. Our little boat was boarded by the navy combat soldiers, and they came in in full riot gear onto our boat when we were just twenty-five miles off the shore of Gaza. We were under gunpoint, forcibly taken to Ashdod, held in the detention center overnight. And then I was removed from Ashdod detention center, handcuffed in a military vehicle, and brought here to the prison, where we’re currently being held. All of us, all nineteen—there were twenty-one, but Huwaida and Lubna are out—but the rest of us are being held here in detention in this prison.

The latest news on the Free Gaza 21 

Cynthia McKinney speaks from an Israeli prison.

In addition she has released this statement through the Green Party.
"We were in international waters on a boat delivering humanitarian aid to people in Gaza when the Israeli Navy ships surrounded us and illegally threatened us, dismantled our navigation equipment, boarded and confiscated the ship.

"All of us on board were then taken off the ship and into custody, and brought into Israel and imprisoned. Immigration officials in Israel said they did not want to keep us, but we remain imprisoned. State Department and White House officials have not effected our release or taken a strong public stance to condemn the illegal actions of the Israeli Navy of enforcing a blockade of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians of Gaza, a blockade that has been condemned by President Obama."
Fox news reports that McKinney and others that were aboard the Spirit of Humanity are refusing to sign a statement that Israel has required as a condition of their release.
Former U.S. lawmaker and Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney and several other human rights activists remained in an Israeli prison Thursday after refusing to sign a deportation form that they claim is self-incriminating.

In a press release from the Green Party, McKinney said the form states that the Spirit of Humanity, a Greek-flagged relief boat carrying 21 activists, medical supplies, cement, olive trees and children's toys en route to Gaza, was violating the Israeli blockade and trespassing the country's territorial waters.
The Free Gaza activists have gained support from the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk.
A U.N. human rights investigator on Thursday called Israel's seizure of a ship carrying relief aid for the Gaza Strip "unlawful" and said its blockade of the territory constituted a "continuing crime against humanity".

Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said the move was part of Israel's "cruel blockade of the entire Palestinian population of Gaza" in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting any form of collective punishment against "an occupied people".

Falk, an American expert on international law, said Israel's two-year blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza restricted vital supplies such as food, medicine and fuel to "bare subsistence levels".

"Such a pattern of continuing blockade under these conditions amounts to such a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions as to constitute a continuing crime against humanity," Falk said in a statement released in Geneva.

Prior to leaving Cyprus, the ship was inspected by Cypriot authorities in response to Israeli demands to determine whether it carried any weapons, according to the U.N. investigator. "None were found and Israeli authorities were so informed."

"Nonetheless, the 21 peace activists on the boat were arrested, held in captivity and have been charged with 'illegal entry' to Israel even though they had no intention of going to Israel," Falk added.
Was the Spirit of Humanity seized illegally by Israel?

Here is my assessment of the legality of the Israeli action under international law. First I would like to point out that Israel has a pattern of recognizing UN resolutions when it suits their purpose and ignoring them when it doesn't. Likewise for other international law. There are numerous examples of this and I'm not going to go into it here. I'll just site one example which is the well known "secret" that Israel has nuclear weapons. Israel has never signed the nuclear non-proliferation agreement, and yet that does not keep them from condemning Iran which has signed the agreement and is attempting to develop a nuclear program. This is of course the ultimate in hypocrisy, but unfortunately it is par for the course for Israel.

With regards to the international law of the sea, Israel has not signed this accord either. Typically nations claim 12 nautical miles as territorial waters. There is an extended region that goes out to 24 nm, but the law is less clear about that. Generally boats are granted safe passage even within these territorial waters.

The Spirit of Humanity was about 20 nautical miles offshore when intercepted and boarded by the Israeli Navy. By most definitions this is international water, especially in the relatively  narrow waters of the Meditarranean. In addition it was directly off the shores of Gaza. Gaza is not recognized by the UN as being part of Israel, but Israel is occupying Gaza. So this leaves the jurisdiction of Gazan waters in a bit of a controversy. To make things even more complicated, Israel claims that it no longer occupies Gaza since it withdrew its troops and settlements. But Israel continues to excercise control over Gaza's borders and and air and sea access. So by any normal definition, Israel continues to occupy Gaza. This is important because an occupier has certain obligations under international law, which Israel flagrantly violates.

In addition I would note that Israel restricts the motion of Gazan fisherman to 3 nautical miles. This implies to me that Israel has defined the border of Gaza's territorial waters to 3 nm. Otherwise Israel is claiming a buffer zone of some 21 nautical miles. It's hard to believe that Israel routinely intercepts ships that pass within this range, so clearly Israel singled out the Spirit of Humanity for capture.

It's also ironic that the six day war was launched by Israel because it claimed that Egypt had violated international laws by blockading some of its ports. And by the way a blockade is considered an act of war. At least Israel thought so in 1967.
On May 23rd, 1967, Egypt again cut off the Straits of Tiran (Israel's main shipping route to Asia and other major places of trade) to Israeli shipping, and also blockaded the port of Eilat. Egypt ordered United Nations peacekeeping forces to leave the Sinai, and in their place, Egyptian tanks and troops were concentrated on the border with Israel. In accordance with international law (United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, (Geneva: UN Publications 1958, pp. 132-134.), Israel considered the blockade of its port a casus belli, and launched an attack on Egypt, especially the Egyptian Air Force. Hostilities came to include Jordan (after Jordan reluctantly chose to dismiss Israeli appeals for neutrality and undertook shelling of Tel Aviv in adherence to its defense treaty with Egypt), Syria, and the Iraqi Air Force. This was the Six-Day War (June 5 - 10, 1967), during which Israel captured East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. In 1978 Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt under the Camp David Accords, and in 1981 Israel annexed East Jerusalem. The status of the West Bank and Gaza, populated mostly by Palestinians with some Israeli settlers, is also undecided and has been the focus of several unsuccessful peace conferences.
It is even more ironic that there was a famous incident in 1947 where the ship the Exodus was denied entry into Palestine by the British who were in control of the region at the time.
The Schuberts were among approximately 4,550 Jewish refugees from World War II aboard the ship Exodus 1947, which sailed for British-controlled Palestine from France on July 10, 1947. Britain had tightened the Jewish immigration quota for Palestine and was sending Jews who ran the blockade to internment camps in Cyprus. The camps were overflowing, and the Exodus, the largest refugee ship to date, was treated differently.

The British attacked the Exodus in the Mediterranean and sent the refugees back to France on prison ships. The refugees refused to disembark in Europe -- it was Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel) or nothing. After three weeks, the British sailed the prison ships to Hamburg, Germany, and said they would force the refugees off the boats with tear gas and bring in troops if they had to. The refugees went ashore peacefully on Sept. 8.

Around the world, public sympathy was with the Jewish refugees, and the British endured a storm of disapproval. Worldwide reaction to the plight of the Exodus refugees was instrumental in persuading the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine to recommend partitioning Palestine and establishing a Jewish state.

In Germany, the Exodus refugees were held in Displaced Persons camps in a British-occupied zone. A few at a time over the course of a year, the Exodus refugees left the camps and reached Palestine, some with legal immigration permits and some illicitly. Many of them were already in Israel on May 15, 1948, when the nation declared its independence.
So historically Israel has claimed that international law applies which they are now denying in the case of the Palestinians.

And as Cynthia McKinney has so rightfully pointed out, even Obama has declared that Israel should lift the blockade of Gaza.
Obama: "On the other hand, the fact is, is that if the people of Gaza have no hope, if they can’t even get clean water at this point, if the border closures are so tight that it is impossible for reconstruction and humanitarian efforts to take place, then that is not going to be a recipe for Israel’s long-term security or a constructive peace track to move forward."
The Free Gaza movement has rightfully challenged the Israeli blockade and in so doing raised awareness of the plight of the Palestinian People.

Official Protests

The Greek foreign ministry protested the seizing of a Greek vessel, even though there were no Greek citizens aboard.
Greece quickly protested the seizing of the Greek-flagged vessel, saying "we remonstrated with the Israeli side and asked for the ship, the crew and the passengers to be released immediately," foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said in a statement.
The Irish Foreign Minister called for the release of its captured citizens by Israel.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs Michael Martin is calling for the release of two Irish people being detained in Israel.

Derek Graham and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire were removed from a ship, which was bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza.

They're being held in Israel, while they await deportation.

Minister Martin says his department has been in contact with the Israeli authorities and the Irish embassy in Tel Aviv, and has been assured that Ms Maguire and Mr Graham are both well and are being properly treated.
And what about the US Department of State? Considering that there were at least 3 US citizens aboard that were captured by Israel and considering that one of those, Cynthia McKinney, is a former member of the US House of Representatives you would think that the very least the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, could do is to issue a statement calling for the release of its citizens. Were still waiting for that. There have been no public statements from the White House or the State Department in any of the press reports I have seen. In this case silence is not golden, it is complicity.

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