This is huge for both men who spent decades in California prison for teenage convictions and then at the end of their sentences last year were transferred directly to ICE for deportation. Both told their stories from ICE jails, prompting national outrage + calls for their pardons
Both of them had fled persecution as children, resettling in the US after the Vietnam war. They grew up in poverty + under CA harsh sentencing laws, were sent away for decades over adolescent cases. While in prison, they served the state as firefighters making a few dollars a day
“I grew up with the DIY culture of punk, going to punk shows, making mixtapes – with the idea that anyone can do whatever,” -Eloise, 13, finishing 7th grade. “Punk is anything we want it to be. I like DIY because it’s whatever you feel like. It doesn’t have to be a certain way.”
“It was my first experience of racism + I didn’t really know how to respond,” - Mila, 10, who wrote Racist, Sexist Boy with Eloise after a boy told her he was avoiding Chinese people. “The song lets people know they are not alone. It felt good to write. It made us feel better.”
NEWS: Kao Saelee, the incarcerated California firefighter who was facing deportation to Laos, has been released from ICE. He spent 22 yrs in prison + then ten months in ICE jail, after CA handed him over to immigration authorities.
Today, he finally reunited with his family
Kao spent two yrs fighting wildfires as a CA prisoner, but due to @GavinNewsom's policy of sending people to ICE for deportation at the end of their sentences, Kao was flown to Louisiana ICE jail last year, instead of returning to his CA family. My story: theguardian.com/us-news/2020/s…
Because CA partners with ICE, Kao has been stuck in detention during Covid, facing deportation to Laos, a country his family fled as refugees when he was two years old.
“I paid my debt to society, and I think I should have a chance to be with my family,” he told me last Sept.
-cited vague “medical emergencies” without disclosing officers caused the emergencies through use of force.
-falsely claimed civilians were armed
-falsely claimed they overdosed
-blatantly misrepresented the civilian's actions before the killing
When Dujuan Armstrong, 23, died inside Santa Rita Jail, the Alameda Co Sheriff reported it as a “drug overdose." A spokesman said he was acting “bizarre,” adding: “The deputies saw him in distress. They called medics immediately.”
Los Angeles sheriff deputies frequently harass the families of people they have killed, including taunting them at vigils, parking outside their homes, and following them and pulling them over for no reason, according to a new report:
The families of Paul Rea, 18-year-old killed during a traffic stop, and Anthony Vargas, 21-year-old shot 13 times, describe constant harassment by LASD deputies when gathering to grieve and honor their loved ones -- mocking, taunting, threats, stops + searches, arrests + more:
Tien is a Vietnamese refugee whose family fled violence + resettled in the US when he was 13 years old. He was prioritized for deportation by the Biden administration due to an old teenage conviction.
He is one of thousands of people who have been deported by Biden.
Tien grew up in the aftermath of the Vietnam war. His father had served in the South Vietnamese army alongside the US, and ended up imprisoned in a “re-education” camp where he was forced to work and ate rodents to survive. Tien faced severe violence in Ho Chi Minh City as a kid.
There are many police killings with similarities to the George Floyd murder that receive almost no attention. Last year, LAPD killed Daniel Rivera, with officers holding him largely face down on the ground for roughly 7 minutes. He was unarmed and in distress. (thread)
On 8/14/20, LAPD was responding to reports of an alleged burglary attempt + came upon Daniel, 37, who was standing near a ravine in Arleta. He hopped a fence into the wash + may have fallen / was lying on the ground, largely not moving, as police approached, body cam video shows
Even though he was unarmed and not moving, and had his hands behind his head, one officer kneeled on his back, two others handcuffed him, one shoved his face into the ground, and another shocked him with a Taser four times, causing his body to convulse.
Wyatt, 14, South Dakota, is banned from using the boys bathroom. He has to walk across the school to get to the single-stall staff restroom: "This is a basic human need ... I’ve asked my guy friends if they’d be uncomfortable if I was in the boys’ restroom. They wouldn’t."
Wyatt has faced anti-trans bills since he was 11: "As a 14-year-old, I shouldn’t have to worry about my rights being taken away. I should not have to go out of my way to make other people happy. I’m not a problem to society. I just hope by the time I’m 18, things are better."
Entire families are hospitalized – husbands and wives, twin brothers in their 20s, parents and their children. Anahiz Correa, ICU nurse manager, recounted a mother and son who ended up dying in the same ICU room weeks apart. "The patients are much sicker and it’s not clear why.”
Martin Luther King Jr Community Hospital has put beds in an old gift shop, which has a small sign on the door indicating “patient care in progress.” The chapel around the corner is filled with gurneys. Patients are treated in the waiting room + doubled up in spaces meant for one.
A short thread on the California prison system's Covid catastrophe + vaccine access:
Advocates + experts are arguing that CDCR must urgently make vaccines available to incarcerated people, mandate vaccines for guards, AND do mass releases of elderly/vulnerable. Here's why ⬇️
CDCR has a long history of severe medical neglect + abuse, including experimenting on incarcerated people. Some will likely be reluctant or scared to take a vaccine. This mistrust is compounded by the fact that CDCR has spread Covid across the system, infecting 31,000+ people.
Incarcerated people in CA have witnessed CDCR’s botched Covid response, which has allowed guards to bring Covid to every single prison, leading to mass and worsening outbreaks and 104 deaths. So why would people inside trust a vaccine? says @jamesking0314:
NEW: California is on track to allow mass evictions to begin during the worst phase of the pandemic so far. Millions are at risk, and many more will die of Covid if lawmakers don't pass new tenant protections.
NEW: I interviewed Jackie Lacey + George Gascón about their tight race for LA district attorney, arguably the most important criminal justice election in the US. There are huge differences in their beliefs on incarceration + safety.
LA has the largest jail system in the world + extremely high prison rates. I asked Lacey if the region jails too many people.
She said no, and warned that if she were a less punitive DA, LA would “deteriorate” with the “criminal community” + “predators” flocking to the region.
Lacey has fought for the right to continue prosecuting children under the age of 12, and has continued to try youth as adults. She said this was warranted for some crimes: "You can say, 'Oh you’re incarcerating children!' but that’s not the act of a child or the mind of a child."
Kao, now 41, has been imprisoned since he was a teenager. Even though he completed his sentence and fought wildfires, @GavinNewsom + CDCR handed him over to ICE.
“I paid my debt to society, and I think I should have a chance to be with my family," Kao told me from ICE jail.
When his release date came on August 6, Kao's sister was waiting outside the prison to take him home for the first time in two decades. Instead, guards handed Kao over to a private security contractor for ICE who shackled his hands, waist and legs, put him in a van and drove off.
NEW: In Oregon, there is now a confirmed Covid-19 outbreak linked to the evacuation of Coffee Creek prison in the fire zone. Two prisoners have tested positive + Dept of Corrections says they mixed with groups outside of their units during evacuation to Deer Creek, another prison
Here’s part of DOC statement to @TaraHerivel and other attorneys. “Female AIC” refers to an incarcerated woman who tested positive. State is now expediting return of evacuated prisoners to Coffee Creek. Delays in tests results have made this situation more complicated, DOC says.
DOC says it appears the two Covid+ prisoners didn’t mix with the population at Deer Ridge, the prison where evacuees were placed. There is still fear about a possible mass outbreak. The fire threat is not over. For thousands of impacted families, this is an unimaginable nightmare
I spoke with men incarcerated at Oregon State Penitentiary, who are stuck in overcrowded facilities in the fire zone + have repeatedly been pepper sprayed. They're begging for help.
Here's a short thread with audio from my prison calls, shared with their permission.
Parker, 23: "Pepper spray got on everyone, everyone was coughing and sneezing. I couldn't even take a drink of my water. There was so much in the air. I still have lasting effects. I was scared. I didn't think they would put us in that situation. DOC is supposed to protect us."
John, 44: "It's smoky in here. It's horrible in here. Some of these inmates are elderly, some have heart problems + respiratory problems. This is no place for them. What you're brewing is a perfect storm for violence and pandemonium. How do you plan on protecting these inmates?"
-1,450 evacuees were moved into the Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP), which already had more than 2,000 prisoners + has had 143 Covid cases.
-Evacuees are sleeping on the floor and on emergency beds throughout OSP in indoor facilities not used for housing.
-Problems are already escalating, with families reporting people packed into makeshift sleeping quarters, some struggling to breathe due to smoke, prisoners facing long waits for food, fights breaking out.
-Populations are reportedly mixing for meals + lines to make phone calls.
LA sheriffs in Lancaster killed Michael Thomas, 61, inside his own home on June 11. LASD claimed they were responding to a possible domestic violence call, but his girlfriend said there was no threat or violence.
Police fatally shot Michael in the chest. He was unarmed.
Michael's daughter, Myesha Lopez, told me he had watched a George Floyd special the night before and was terrified of police and didn't want deputies in his house.
“He said, ‘I know if I open this door, you’re going to kill me.’”
Police were called to break up a fight between a group of high school students during a record-breaking heatwave. The fight had died down when officers arrived. Then one of the policemen grabbed Roniah Trotter and held her face down on the sidewalk while trying to arrest her...
“My face was burning. I have never felt nothing so hot,” Roniah said, recalling how she screamed for help and felt like she was going to pass out. “When they did eventually get me off the floor, the pavement had burned my skin off." (image of her arm after incident + scars today)
In addition to active police officers with direct links to far-right groups + white supremacist organizations, there have been hundreds of examples of law enforcement exposed making explicitly racist + bigoted remarks, and expressing sympathy for hate groups and movements.
In Kenosha, police said "We appreciate you being here" to armed militias, giving them water. Police let the shooter leave. The police chief blamed protesters for violating curfew, saying the gunman was "involved in the use of firearms to resolve whatever conflict was in place."