FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October
chairman of the mayor’s Shockoe Advisory Committee, has informed Ana Edwards of the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation
Project that today’s committee meeting has been canceled. The meeting had been scheduled for 3 p.m. at the offices of
Hunton and Williams at 10th and Canal streets.
been invited to present a proposal for the development of Shockoe Bottom as a historical tourism destination that would properly
acknowledge the area’s role as a major center of the U.S. slave trade. The proposal is intended as an alternative to
the construction of a commercial sports stadium on land that is of great historical importance to the entire African-American
In a telephone
conversation this morning, Pratt informed Edwards that the reason for the cancellation was that the Defenders had publicized
what Pratt said was supposed to be a private meeting.
presentation to the committee by Timothy Kissler of Global Development Partners was open to both the public and the media.
Kissler’s proposal was to construct a $330 million stadium and retail/residential complex in Shockoe Bottom.
Ground committee is disappointed," Edwards said in response to the cancellation. "This is a public issue and we understood
the advisory committee meetings were public as well. We have been looking forward to sharing with the committee our vision
for Shockoe Bottom’s future development as the historical starting point for the telling of Richmond’s story.
We hope the advisory committee will reschedule the meeting."
Advisory Committee was set up earlier this year by Mayor L. Douglas Wilder, who asked its members to present him by December
of this year with proposals for the development of Shockoe Bottom and the adjacent Shockoe Slip,
Ground Historical Reclamation Project was organized after the Defender’s unveiling last October of a state historical
marker at 15th and East Broad streets, the site of the execution of the great slave rebellion leader Gabriel.
Ground sponsored a symposium on the importance of slave markets, burial grounds and other sites to the understanding of African-American
history and culture. The presenters included the noted anthropologist Dr. Michael Blakey of the College of William and Mary.
In the 1990s, Dr. Blakey led the project that recovered the African Burial Ground discovered in lower Manhattan. That site’s
memorial structure is currently under construction and is already a major tourist destination for the city.
HOLD THE DATE: Monday, Sept. 19!
MEDIA RELEASE from
the Virginia Anti-War Network
For Immediate Release: Monday, Sept.
Media Contacts: Larry Syverson at
(804) 986-5362 or Garrie Rouse at (804) 512-2063
Caravan from Cindy Sheehan’s ‘Camp Casey’
to stop in Richmond
On Monday, Sept. 19, eight participants in the national
"Bring Them Home Now Tour" will visit Richmond on their way from "Camp Casey" in Crawford, Texas, to a national anti-war protest
in Washington, D.C.
While in Richmond, the participants will picket a local
National Guard recruiting office, have dinner with local supporters and speak at a Town Hall Meeting on the War in Iraq and
The tour stop is being hosted by Richmond members of the
Virginia Anti-War Network. On Aug. 26 VAWN held vigils in Richmond and Staunton in support of Cindy Sheehan.
Sheehan, a co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace,
is the mother of a GI killed in Iraq. Throughout the month of August, she and supporters held a vigil in Crawford, Texas,
while President George W. Bush was there vacationing at his ranch. Sheehan’s encampment was named "Camp Casey," after
her GI son.
Sheehan was asking for a meeting with the president
to ask him why her son died. Her request was denied, but the resulting media coverage is credited with helping to expand the
anti-war movement just weeks before a massive march and rally is to take place in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24.
On Aug. 31, Sheehan and some of her supporters boarded
three buses and left Crawford, travelling on three separate routes through more than 50 cities to hold meetings, rallies and
vigils on their way to the D.C. protest. The tour participants are members of Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families
Speak Out, Iraq Veterans for Peace and Veterans for Peace.
The Richmond visit is being hosted by members of VAWN
in cooperation with other peace and anti-war organizations. Larry Syverson of VAWN and Military Families Speak Out was among
those who travelled to Crawford to support Sheehan. While there, he was asked to organize events in Richmond for the bus tour.
Syverson’s four sons have all served in the military, two of them in Iraq. One son, Bryce, is now being treated for
post-traumatic stress disorder in Walter Reed Hospital in D.C.
Schedule of events for the Richmond visit on Monday,
Noon - 1 p.m. — "Truth in Recruitment" Vigil
outside the Virginia Army National Guard office, 304 W. Broad St., Richmond.
6 p.m. — Community Dinner hosted by Richmond
Food Not Bombs at Asbury United Methodist Church, 324 N. 29th St., Richmond. (Corner of 29th and East Marshall streets in
7 - 9 p.m. — Richmond Town Hall Meeting on
the War in Iraq and Afghanistan with the eight participants in the "Bring Them Home Now Tour," plus Richmond-area families
with relatives stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan, or veterans or teenagers targeted by military recruiters. Asbury United Methodist
Church. Open mike for general participation. The meeting will be co-chaired by Larry Syverson of MFSO and Janet Taylor of
the Prosser-Truth Division No. 456 of the Universal Negro Improvement Association/African Communities League (UNIA/ACL).
VAWN is also organizing transportation to the Sept.
24 protest in D.C. Buses will leave from Richmond, Norfolk, Charlottesville and Blacksburg, along with car and van caravans
from other cities and towns.
For more information, contact Garrie Rouse at (804)
We have to stop this war! Bring the troops
MEDIA RELEASE From the Virginia Anti-War Network
For Immediate Release: Monday, Aug. 22, 2005
Media Contacts: Larry Syverson at (804) 986-5362 or
Garrie Rouse at (804) 512-2063
1,800 GIs. 100,000 Iraqis. Billions of wasted
dollars. It’s time to STOP THIS WAR!
to hold an ANTI-WAR VIGIL in solidarity with Cindy Sheehan, Larry Syverson & all
those who have suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan -- FRIDAY - AUG. 26 - NOON TO 1 P.M.
Outside the Federal Building at 10th and Main streets, Richmond -- Simultaneous vigils
in Blacksburg and Augusta County -- Sponsored by the Virginia Anti-War Network (VAWN)
This is an expansion of the weekly vigils that have
been held for more than two years in Richmond by Larry Syverson of Military Families Speak Out. The vigils will also call
on Virginians to attend a national anti-war protest in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Sept. 24.
Cindy Sheehan is the co-founder of Gold Star Mothers
for Peace who has been holding a vigil outside President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. Her son Casey was killed in
Iraq. She is demanding the president meet with her so she can tell him to stop the killing by bringing all the troops home
Larry Syverson has four sons, all of whom have served
in the military. Two were stationed in Iraq, including Bryce, who has just been transferred to the Walter Reed Army Medical
Center in D.C. for treatment for post-traumatic stress syndrome. The treatment is short-term. The Army wants to send him back
to Iraq — in November.
"The last time I spoke with Bryce, he told me he wanted
me to do as much as I could to get the word out that they are sending soldiers in his condition back to Iraq," says Larry.
"Support for the war is plummeting and I urge everyone to come out to the vigils and the protest in D.C. Show your true support
for the troops and bring them home!"
The Washington march and rally are jointly sponsored
by the Sept. 24 Coalition and United For Peace and Justice. Both Cindy and Larry have said they plan to be there.
VAWN affiliates are organizing buses to D.C. from Richmond,
Norfolk and Blacksburg, as well as car caravans from many other cities and towns. We will march as a Virginia Contingent behind
a banner that reads "Bring’ em Home Now! Money for Jobs & Education, not for Wars & Occupations!"
For information about the Richmond bus, contact Garrie Rouse at (804)
769-1449. E-mail: RichmondBus@riseup.net.
For immediate release: Sept. 28, 2004
Christie Burwell (804) 726-9913 — email@example.com
Charlie Schmidt (804) 643-8634; (804) 399-7594 (cell) — firstname.lastname@example.org
Phil Wilayto (804) 644-5834; (804) 247-3731 (cell) — email@example.com
From the Richmond Million Worker March Organizing Committee
Richmond activists organize for Million Worker March
A coalition of Richmond activists has formed to bring people to the Million Worker March,
a national event scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 17, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. On that day, members of organized and unorganized labor,
anti-war and other social justice organizations will raise their voices to demand "Money for jobs and human needs, not
Locally, the Richmond Million Worker March Organizing Committee has chartered a bus to take
people to the march. The bus will leave Sunday morning, Oct. 17, and return that same evening. A donation of $10 is requested,
but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Initiated by Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in San Francisco,
the MWM has been endorsed by hundreds of union organizations, social action groups and prominent individuals. (A partial listing
is included on the leaflet that follows this release.)
Local coalition members include the Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality; Richmond
A.N.S.W.E.R.; Richmond Coalition for a Living Wage; Richmond Food Not Bombs; United Parents Against Lead National Inc.; and
the Virginia Commonwealth University Coalition for a Living Wage.
"With every day that passes, the crisis facing the American people deepens," said Richmond
MWM organizer Christie Burwell of the VCU Coalition for a Living Wage. "In Iraq, resistance to a brutal occupation escalates
as both major political parties march in lock-step to intensify this war, increase the numbers of troops and allocate yet
further trillions of dollars to permanent war while devastating social services here at home. The Million Worker March is
rooted in the intensity and range of anger over the placement of priority on war over health care, jobs, education and civil
The demands of the March include universal single-care health care, a national living wage,
more money for public education, protection and enhancement of Social Security immune to privitization, the rebuilding of
inner cities, a slash in the military budget, the opening of books on the budgets of the Pentagon and intelligence agencies,
extended democracy, an aggressive enforcement of civil rights, amnesty for undocumented workers, efficient and free mass transit
and progressive taxation.
Also, the Million Worker March calls for an end to "free" trade agreements, anti-labor legislation,
privatization, the poisoning of the environment, the Patriot Act and Anti-Terrorism Act, poverty, the prison-industrial complex
and monopolized media.
For more information or to volunteer to help, contact the Richmond Coalition for a Living
Wage at (804) 643-8634 or (804) 399-7594; or the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality at (804) 644-5834 or (804)
- 30 –
For Immediate Release: September 20, 2004
Media Contacts: Ana Edwards (804)
873.0590 (cell) or Phil Wilayto (804) 247.3731 (cell)
Gabriel Marker To Be Unveiled
Sunday, Oct. 10
Program includes Seminar with historians, authors, anthropologist, Gabriel descendant and
On Sunday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m., a state historical marker will be unveiled at the site in downtown
Richmond where the great slave rebellion leader Gabriel was executed on that date in 1800. Placement of the marker was approved
June 16, 2004, by the Virginia Board of Historic Resources at the request of the Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality.
The privately funded marker will be placed along the north side of East Broad Street immediately east of Interstate 95.
The unveiling program will include an educational seminar to be held from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m.
at Centenary United Methodist Church, 411 E. Grace St. Panelists will include Dr. Haskell H. Bingham, a Gabriel descendant
and former vice president for academic affairs at Virginia State University; Dr. Douglas Egerton, author of an authoritative
study of Gabriel’s Rebellion; and Dr. Michael Blakey, the anthropologist who directed the study of the long-forgotten
African Burial Ground in New York City. (A complete listing of presenters is on page 2 of this release.)
The seminar will be followed by a march to 15th & Broad streets, the site of
the marker, which is adjacent to Richmond’s own long neglected “Burial Ground for Negroes.” A traditional libation ceremony by the Elegba Folklore Society and special remarks by Defenders spokesperson
Ana Edwards and Vice Mayor Delores McQuinn, chairperson of the city’s Slave Trail Commission, will lead to the unveiling
of the marker by Dr. Bingham.
Many historians consider Gabriel’s Rebellion to be the most extensive and well-planned
attempt at a mass slave rebellion in U.S. history. It failed largely because of a terrible rainstorm that swept through the
Richmond area on Aug. 30, 1800, the day of the planned uprising. Just weeks ago, we were reminded of the ferocity of such
storms when the remnants of Tropical Storm Gaston caused havoc in this area. Ironically, that storm also arrived on Aug. 30.
Gabriel’s attempt to end slavery in 1800 is an important legacy of the African-American
community and all progressive people, one that has been sorely neglected, particularly here in Richmond. The Oct.10 marker
unveiling program will be one modest effort to set straight the historical record and help revive the spirit of courage and
self-sacrifice that characterized the rebellion and its participants. Please join us on this historic day. The seminar program
Gabriel Marker Unveiling Program
Seminar, March, Unveiling
Sunday, Oct. 10, 2004, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
4:00 – 6:30 p.m. — SEMINAR ON SLAVERY IN VIRGINIA, RICHMOND'S ROLE IN THE U.S. SLAVE TRADE
& GABRIEL'S REBELLION
- Centenary United Methodist
Church, 411 E. Grace Street (between 4th & 5th streets), Richmond, Virginia -- Doors open at 3:30
Moderator: Reggie Gordon, Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality
Panelists (listed alphabetically)
Elvatrice Belsches, author, lecturer
Topic: "Slave trading in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom"
Dr. Haskell H. Bingham, great, great-grandson of Gabriel; family
historian; former VP of academic affairs, Virginia State University
Topic: "Gabriel’s ancestors and descendants"
Dr. Michael Blakey, professor of anthropology, William & Mary College; director,
study of the African Burial Ground in New York City
Topic: "The significance of burial grounds in understanding African-American
Ana Edwards, Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality;
artist, two of whose ancestors were sold from auction houses in Shockoe Bottom
Topic: "The meaning of Richmond’s history to the African-American community
in the United States"
Dr. Douglas Egerton, professor of history, Le Moyne College; author, "Gabriel’s
Topic: "Gabriel’s Rebellion”
Elizabeth Cann Kambourian, historian, discovered existence of
Richmond’s “Burial Ground for Negroes”
Topic: "History and facts about the ‘Burial Ground for Negroes’"
Dr. Philip Schwarz, professor of history, retired, Virginia
Topic: "The history and extent of the slave trade in Virginia"
Phil Wilayto, Defenders; reporter/writer who has written about
Gabriel, “Burial Ground for Negroes”
Topic: "Reviving the Spirit of Gabriel’s Rebellion”
6:30 - 7:00 p.m. -- March to 15th & Broad
A symbolic re-enactment of Gabriel’s planned march into Richmond. From
Centenary United Methodist Church 11 blocks to the marker’s site near the “Burial Ground for Negroes”
7:00 – 7:30 p.m. -- Unveiling Ceremony at 15th & Broad
Elegba Folklore Society — Traditional libation ceremony
Vice Mayor Delores McQuinn — Comments on behalf of City Council &
Slave Trail Commission
Ana Edwards — Comments on behalf of Defenders on the significance of
Dr. Haskell H. Bingham — Comments and unveiling of the marker
The Gabriel Historical Highway Marker Project is an initiative of the Defenders for Freedom,
Justice & Equality, "an organization of Richmond-area residents working for the survival of our community through education
and social justice activities."
We want to thank all of our participants and supporters for giving of their time and resources,
be they financial, physical or intellectual, to help make this historic event possible, and a success.
- 30 -
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 3, 2004
Three Richmond heroes to be honored Dec. 3 at the 1st Annual Defenders
Fighting Fund & Awards Dinner
The Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality have selected
the first recipients of their Defender of the Year Awards. The awards will be presented annually to individuals
and organizations who in their daily lives demonstrate a commitment to the principles of freedom, justice and equality, or
who have been forced by circumstances to defend themselves or their community.
This year's recipients are:
Shabazz, founder and director of United Parents Against Lead National Inc., for her dedicated leadership in the effort
to eradicate the hazard of lead poisoning as a danger to children both here in Richmond and across the country.
Johnson, on behalf of the Johnson family, for their courage in the struggle to obtain justice following the 2002
fatal shooting of Mr. Johnson's son Verlon by a Richmond police officer.
Kingston, former unit director of the Hillside Boys & Girls Club, for his continuing exemplary service to the
youth of the Hillside community.
The awards will be presented on Friday, Dec. 3, at the 1st
Annual Defenders Fighting Fund & Awards Dinner, scheduled for 7 p.m. at Asbury United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall,
324 N. 29th St. in Church Hill. Tickets to the dinner are $10.00. All proceeds will support the programs and activities of
Dec. 3 was chosen as the date for this event because it will
mark the 75th anniversary of the death of John Mitchell Jr., the "Fighting Editor" of the Richmond Planet
newspaper. A towering figure in early 20th century Richmond, Mitchell distinguished himself through his courageous battles
against lynchings and the racist use of the death penalty, his leadership of the 1904 community boycott of the segregated
Richmond streetcar system and his determined struggles against the imposition of Jim Crow laws and the disenfranchisement
of Virginia's Black community.
At the Dec. 3 dinner, the Defenders will announce a major
initiative in the spirit of John Mitchell, one designed to greatly magnify the voice of the city's poor and working class
The Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality is an organization
of Richmond area residents working for the survival of our community through education and social justice activities. The
group was organized in June 2002 following a rally at the Virginia State Capitol in support of unjustly incarcerated prisoners.
Since then, it has worked to expose the inhumane conditions in the Richmond City Jail, led the successful effort to erect
a state historical marker at the site where the great slave rebellion leader Gabriel was executed in 1800, helped to expose
the failure of city government to seriously address the issue of lead hazards and organized a Court Watch Project to support
the family of police shooting victim Verlon Johnson. The Defenders are a member of the Virginia Alliance for Worker Justice
and play an active role in Richmond's anti-war movement.
For more information on the awards dinner or to purchase
a ticket, contact the Defenders by phone at (804) 644-5834 or by e-mail at DefendersFJE@hotmail.com.
- 30 -
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 22, 2004
Emergency Appeal to attend tonight’s City Council meeting
The Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality are issuing an emergency appeal for people to attend tonight’s
meeting of Richmond City Council.
This morning, 6th District Councilwoman Ellen Robertson confirmed that her proposal for a Police
Accountability Board will come up for a vote at tonight’s council meeting. This proposal, first introduced on Oct. 25,
has been hit with a firestorm of opposition from public officials who oppose any civilian oversight of a Police Department
that has been involved in at least 11 fatal shootings over the last 3 1/2 years.
The proposal itself is very mild: A largely civilian board would simply review how the Police
Department reviews incidents of alleged abuse. It would not itself take individual complaints and would have no power to change
department policy. However, such a board would at least be a recognition that there must be some civilian oversight.
It is highly unlikely that Robertson’s proposal will pass tonight. But that is not the point.
Those who oppose any form of civilian control of the police will claim that a poor public turnout
tonight is proof of a lack of concern about the issue. That would make it much harder to push for a real civilian review board
that can take and act on complaints. On the other hand, a strong public turnout would help that struggle.
In other words, this is crunch time. We urge anyone who can to come to tonight’s council
meeting. Come even if you can only stay for 15 minutes. Your presence will be noticed by council members. So will your absence.
Council meets at 6 p.m. in its chambers on the 2nd floor of City Hall, 900 E. Broad Street. The
Police Accountability Board proposal should come up some time after 7 p.m., but could be discussed sooner. The public is allowed
to address council on issues that are to be voted on that evening.
Note: Police officials and some members of council are claiming that there already is a mechanism
for civilian oversight of incidents of alleged police abuse. This is not true. At his last public media briefing, Police Chief
Andre Parker categorically stated that the department’s use-of-force review board, which includes civilians, does not
review individual cases of police shootings.
For background on this issue, see the feature story in last week’s City Edition newsweekly:
"Above the law? Police shootings raise issues of accountability.
- 30 -
MEDIA ADVISORY from the VIRGINIA ANTI-WAR COALITION
June 24, 2004
Attention: Assignment Editor
Jen Lawhorne: firstname.lastname@example.org; (804) 643-0196
Isata Turay: email@example.com
Phil Wilayto: firstname.lastname@example.org;
(804) 644-5834; (804) 247-3731 (cell)
Anti-War Press Conference concerning June 30 "transfer of sovereignty" in Iraq
Noon Wednesday June 30 outside the Federal Courthouse at 10th & E. Main streets, Richmond
June 30 is the day President George W. Bush has set for a "transfer of sovereignty" from the United States
to its hand-picked interim government in Iraq. Despite its rhetoric about "democracy," the Bush administration has made it
clear that the real power will be located in the new U.S. embassy with its staff of 1,700. Most tellingly, the U.S. will retain
the right to carry out military operations in Iraq with or without the consent of the new "government."
The VIRGINIA ANTI-WAR COALITION will hold a PRESS CONFERENCE to denounce this
"transfer" of power and to announce its July 3 state-wide march and rally in Richmond. The press conference will take place
at noon outside the U.S. Courthouse at 10th and East Main streets.
Scheduled speakers include KING SALIM KHALFANI, executive director of the Virginia
State Conference NAACP; SABA ABED, a Palestinian-American, board member of the Interfaith Council of Greater Richmond and
former president of the Richmond chapter of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; and LARRY SYVERSON, member of
Military Families Speak Out and the father of two sons now serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq. For the last 15 months, Mr.
Syverson has been holding a noontime vigil three times a week outside the Federal Courthouse to oppose the U.S. intervention
in Iraq. The Virginia Anti-War Coalition, or VAWC, is organizing a state-wide protest in Richmond during the Independence
Day weekend. Veterans, students, parents of GIs and other concerned Virginians will hold a rally in Monroe Park at 4 p.m.,
Saturday, July 3, followed by a 5 p.m. march through Downtown. VAWC is raising the following demands: "Real sovereignty for
the people of Iraq - Bring the troops home now! End the occupations of Iraq, Haiti, Afghanistan and Palestine! Money for jobs
and human needs, not war!" Coalition members include the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality; People United; Progressive
Muslim Network; Richmond A.N.S.W.E.R.; Richmond Food Not Bombs; Richmond Green Party; Richmond Independent Media Center; Richmond
Pax Christi; Richmond Peace Education Center; Richmond Queer Space Project; Richmond Unitarian Peace & Justice Committee;
VCU Living Wage Campaign; VCU Muslim Student Association; and the (Washington) D.C. Anti-War Network.
- 30 -
MEDIA RELEASE: June 17, 2004
Contacts: Ana Edwards (804) 873-0590 Phil Wilayto (804) 247-3731
Gabriel Historical Highway Marker Approved for Downtown Richmond
The Virginia Board of Historic Resources this week approved the placement of a historical highway marker
at the site in Downtown Richmond where the great slave rebellion leader Gabriel was executed on Oct. 10, 1800. The board's
decision was announced today by Scott Arnold, manager of the Historical Highway Marker Program. The privately funded marker
will be placed along the north side of East Broad Street immediately east of Interstate 95. An unveiling ceremony is planned
for this Oct. 10, the 204th anniversary of Gabriel's execution. The Gabriel Historical
Marker Project is an initiative of the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality, "an organization of Richmond-area residents
working for the survival of our community."
While historians generally describe Gabriel's Rebellion as the largest
and best-planned attempt at a mass slave uprising in U.S. history, this marker will be the conspiracy's first official physical
recognition in Richmond, the target of the planned uprising. "The marker will
be placed in the area that for more than 100 years was the site of Richmond's slave-trading industry," said Defenders spokeswoman
Ana Edwards. "It will not only mark where Gabriel died for his cause of freedom, justice and equality, but it will be the
first physical acknowledgment of the existence of the Burial Ground for Negroes, the 18th century cemetery that today lies
abandoned beneath a private parking lot. We view establishing the marker as just one step in properly memorializing the burial
ground and Richmond's entire slave-trading area in Shockoe Bottom."
The Defenders have been graciously assisted in this project by Dr. Haskell S. Bingham of
Petersburg, family historian and great, great-grandson of Gabriel; Dr. Douglas R. Egerton, professor of early American history
at LeMoyne College and author of "Gabriel's Rebellion: The Virginia Slave Conspiracies of 1800 and 1802"; Dr. Philip Schwarz,
professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University and an expert in U.S. slavery and the colonial period; and Elizabeth
Cann Kambourian, the Richmond historian whose research uncovered the existence of the city's Burial Ground for Negroes.
cost of erecting a historical highway marker is $1,225.00. Tax-deductible contributions may be sent to "Gabriel Historical
Marker Project" c/o Asbury United Methodist Church, 324 N. 29th St., Richmond, VA 23223. Checks or money orders should be
made payable to "Asbury United Methodist Church" with the notation "Gabriel Marker Project." The Defenders ask that each donation
be limited to no more than $50.00, in order to show the wide support for this effort.
This is the marker text approved
by the Virginia Board of Historic Resources:
EXECUTION OF GABRIEL
Near here is the early site of the Richmond
gallows and "Burial Ground for Negroes." On 10 Oct. 1800, Gabriel, an enslaved blacksmith from Brookfield plantation in Henrico
County, was executed there for attempting to lead a mass uprising against slavery on 30 Aug. 1800. A fierce rainstorm delayed
the insurrection, which then was betrayed by two slaves. Gabriel escaped and eluded capture until 23 Sept., when he was arrested
in Norfolk. He was returned to Richmond on 27 Sept. and incarcerated in the Virginia State Penitentiary. On 6 Oct. he stood
trial and was condemned. At least 25 of his supporters were also put to death there or in other jurisdictions.
Haiti - The Real Story Behind the Overthrow of President Aristide
A public forum to be held Thursday, May 27, will examine the
real forces behind the recent coup that removed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
7 p.m. at Asbury United Methodist Church, 324 N. 29th St. in Church Hill
The forum will feature Pat Chin, a Jamaican-born
journalist and photographer who has written extensively on political developments in the Caribbean. Now based in New
York City, Ms. Chin is a co-editor and contributing author of the recently released book "Haiti: A Slave Revolution, 200 Years
1804." Copies will be available for purchase
at the forum.
Also scheduled is a screening of the
award-winning documentary "Bitter Cane." Filmed clandestinely in Haiti during the dictatorship of "Papa Doc"
Duvalier, this video examines Haitis neo-colonial
economy and includes footage of the first U.S. occupation of the island from 1915 - 1934.
The forum is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
at Asbury United Methodist Church, 324 N. 29th St. in Church Hill. There is no charge for admission but
donations are appreciated. Children are welcome. Light refreshments will be served.
This event is being co-sponsored by the Defenders
for Freedom, Justice & Equality and the Richmond chapter of the International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End
For more information, contact: The Defenders
for Freedom, Justice & Equality at (804) 644-5834 or by e-mail at DefendersFJE@hotmail.com; or Richmond A.N.S.W.E.R. at
(804) 358-0236 or by e-mail at RichActCtr@aol.com.
U.S. DELEGATION MEETS WITH PRESIDENT ARISTIDE
ARISTIDE REVEALS DETAILS OF COUP
Press release for email distribution
For Immediate Release
March 8, 2004
Sarah Sloan or Brian Becker
A delegation from the United States met twice today with overthrown Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
in Bangui, Central African Republic. Following the first meeting, President Aristide held a news conference at the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, and then conducted a 30-minute phone interview in English with Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now.
delegation includes Kim Ives from Haiti Progres and the Haiti Support Network, and Johnnie Stevens and Sara Flounders from
the International Action Center. Ives, Flounders and Stevens are representing former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Also
on the delegation are Brian Concannon, acting in the capaci ty of President Aristide's lawyer; and Katherine Kean, a friend
of President Aristide.
Aristide's press conference today and his meeting with the U.S. delegation constituted a remarkable
turnabout from the day before when the delegation was barred by the Central African Republic government from meeting with
Aristide. Following the refusal to give the delegation access to meet with the ousted Haitian president, a press release entitled
"Aristide Under Lock & Key" circulated around the world. Thousands of individual activists and organizations submitted
the press release and statement to local media throughout the United States in a high-visibility emergency mobilization to
tell the truth. The Central African Republic officials have made it clear that their country is under severe pressure from
the United States and France.
The Curtain of Silence that has surrounded President Aristide since the February 28/29
coup has now been significantly opened as a cons equence of this political intervention. The world, and especially the Haitian
people, has been anxious to hear from President Aristide. It is precisely for this reason that the U.S. State Department and
the French Foreign Ministry have applied so much pressure to the Central African Republic to prevent him from having access
to the media, and to his attorneys, friends and supporters.
The delegation arranged for President Aristide to be interviewed
by Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now introduced today's interview with these words:
before the Democracy Now! interview, Aristide appeared publicly for the first time since he was forced out of Haiti in what
he has called a US-backed coup. The authorities in the Central African Republic allowed Aristide to hold a news conference
after a delegation of visiting U.S. activists charged that the Haitian president was being held under lock and key like a
prisoner. The delegation include d one of Aristide's lawyers, Brian Concannon, as well as activists from the Haiti Support
Network and the International Action Center, representatives of former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Shortly after they
arrived in Bangui on Sunday, the delegation attempted to meet with Aristide at the palace of the Renaissance. The CAR government
"Shortly after, the country's foreign minister held a press conference in Bangui. Armed men threatened
journalists in the room, warning them not to record the minister's remarks. Mildred Aristide, the Haitian First lady, was
brought into the room, but was not permitted to speak. The CAR foreign minister told the journalists that President Aristide
would hold a news conference within 72 hours. Hours later, Aristide was allowed to address journalists.
"In his interview
on Democracy Now!, Aristide asserted that he is the legitimate president of Haiti and that he wants to return to the country
as soon as possib le. He details his last moments in Haiti, describing what he called his 'kidnapping' and the coup d'etat
In his press conference and in the direct meetings with the delegation, "President Aristide was very
forceful about the fact that he was kidnapped, and that his government is being replaced by a U.S.-sponsored government of
occupation," said Sara Flounders of the International Action Center. President Aristide also said that "only his return to
Haiti can bring peace, and he stated that the people who carried out this campaign against his government are internationally
"President Aristide said that he had been lied to by the U.S. ambassador, who assured him that
he was being taken to a press conference to talk with international and Haitian media. He was instead forced onto a plane
and taken out of the country in a U.S. coup d'etat," according to Flounders. "President Aristide also pointed out the irony
that Haiti, which only has 1.5 doctors for every 11,000 people, now has seen the closing of its primary medical school and
that school is now being used to house U.S. Marines and other foreign soldiers."
President Aristide expanded on this
point both in the press conference and in his interview on Democracy Now!: "In my country, after 200 years of independence
- we are the first Black independent country in the world - but we still have only 1.5 Haitian doctors for every 11,000 Haitians.
We created a university, we founded a university with the faculty of medicine that has 247 students. Once U.S. soldiers arrived
in Haiti after the kidnapping, what did they do? They closed the faculty of medicine and they are now in the classrooms. This
is what they call peace. This is the opposite of peace. Peace means investing in human beings, investing in health care, respect
for human rights, not violations of human rights, no violations for the rights of those who voted for an elected President,
and this is what it means. ... How can you imagine that you come to me, you want to be in peace, and you close my university
and you send out 247 students of medicine in the country where you don't have hospitals and you don't have enough doctors.
God, this is an occupation. When you protect killers, when you protect drug dealers like Guy Philippe, like Chamblain, when
you protect the citizens of the United States in violating the law of the United States, Mr. Andy Apaid is a citizen of the
United States, violating the Neutral Act, the way with this act will destroying our Democracy, and once we do that, then this
is an occupation." (quotation from Democracy Now!)
Kim Ives, who is with the Haiti Support Network and is a journalist
with the newspaper Haiti Progres, is a member of the delegation and had an opportunity to speak to President Aristide in Creole
during the meeting following today's press conference. Ives states that Aristide's account of the events of Feb ruary 28-29
stand in sharp contrast to the account given by Colin Powell and other U.S. officials to the Washington Post on March 3. The
U.S. "story" was that Aristide was ready to leave the country and that they simply facilitated his departure at his request.
Colin Powell and other U.S. officials later said that Aristide's assertion that he had been the victim of a U.S. coup were
"absurd" and "not true."
Ives stated, "The Washington Post and other U.S. media coverage gives the impression that
the sequence of events leading to Aristide's departure at 6 am on February 29 began around 4 or 5 am when Aristide allegedly
called U.S. officials and asked for their assistance in leaving the country. President Aristide told me that in fact 'armed
Americans and diplomats' came to his residence the day before - that is, on the evening of February 28. Aristide reported
that U.S. officials told the 19 security guards that have functioned as a presidential security detail that th ey should abandon
their posts. These 19 security guards were on assignment from the Steele Foundation and are mostly former members of the U.S.
Special Forces. They were told by U.S. officials that they 'wouldn't be protected, the gig was up.' President Aristide asserts
that these Steele Foundation security guards basically obeyed the orders from their former employers (the Pentagon). They
were flown by helicopter on Saturday night away from the preidential palace, leaving Aristide with no armed protection."
recent Miami Herald article on the subject reported that another 25 reinforcement security guards from the Steele Foundation,
who were supposed to arrive Saturday, February 28, received a call Friday night telling them that the U.S. would block their
Mr. Ives also stated that "President Aristide was told by U.S. Ambassador James Foley that the U.S. officials
and armed forces would take him to a press conference with the international and Hai tian press, where President Aristide
could make his case. President Aristide agreed to go on the condition that he could speak to the media, and also that his
home would be protected from any attack or looting. The fact is, the press conference never took place and his home was looted
almost immediately after he left.
"President Aristide was instead driven to a plane. Upon arriving at approximately
5 am on February 29, he found his 19 security guards already there. They were all flown - including the one-year-old child
of one of the guards - to the Central African Republic. After spending 20 hours on a plane flying to a destination unknown
to them, the security guards were then flown back to the Untied States. The trip prevented them from revealing the details
of the coup until after Aristide was out of Haiti and in the Central African Republic.
"In the course of the discussions
with President Aristide, it became clear that the timing of the coup coincided wi th several international developments that
could have shifted the relationship of forces in the Haitian government's favor. While the U.S. government escalated pressure
on Aristide to resign in that last week, the government of South Africa had sent a planeload of weapons that was set to arrive
on Sunday, February 29. Venezuela was in discussions about sending troops to support Aristide. There was also gathering international
support and solidarity for the maintenance of constitutional democracy in Haiti. African American leaders were receiving increasing
media attention as they denounced the efforts towards a coup. Two prominent U.S. delegations, one led by members of the Congressional
Black Caucus and another led by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, were set to arrive within days. We can see that
there were various converging influences of aid about to come. This accounts in large part for the timing of the coup, it
explains why the U.S. had to rush in and remove Aristide," concluded Ives.
Johnnie Stevens of the International Action
Center stated, "Today, as a consequence of strong international pressure, the people of Haiti and the rest of the world have
had a chance to hear President Aristide refute the lies and slanders of the U.S. government and its henchmen from the former
Haitian military who are behind the coup. We believe that the U.S has tried to muzzle or silence President Aristide, not simply
to stop one man from speaking out. The goal is to discourage the people of Haiti from continuing the growing struggle demanding
President Aristide's return. It is really an effort to muzzle, silence and pacify the people in order to impose U.S. regime
Stevens continued, "The people of Haiti have been a source of inspiration for two centuries. Their struggle
for freedom, independence and sovereignty is part and parcel of the struggle of oppressed people everywhere. We must continue
to do everything in our power to stand up against the racist designs of the Bush administration."
In his interview
with Democracy Now!, President Aristide was asked if he planned to return to Haiti. His response: "If I can go [to Haiti]
today, I would go today. If it's tomorrow, tomorrow. Whenever time comes, I will say yes, because my people, they elected
To schedule an interview with a member of the delegation or to get more information, contact Sarah Sloan or Brian
Becker at 202-544-3389 or 212-633-6646.
To read the March 7 press release - "Aristide Under Lock & Key" - go to
http://www.internationalanswer.org/news/update/030704haiti.html (or see below)
[The Defenders forwarded this news release from the International A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition to news media in the
Richmond, Va. area. The developing situation in Haiti will be addressed at a Defenders public forum to be held Wednesday,
March 10, 7 p.m., at Asbury United Methodist Church, 324 N. 29th St., in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond. The forum
also will address the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the U.S.-backed Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.]
ARISTIDE UNDER LOCK & KEY, U.S. DELEGATION SAYS
A delegation from the United States has arrived in the Central
African Republic to meet with overthrown Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. President Aristide was taken involuntarily
to the Central African Republic following a U.S. coup d'etat February 28. The group was granted visas on Thursday and Friday
and departed the United States Friday evening.
The delegation includes Kim Ives from the Haiti Support Network and Johnnie Stevens and Sara Flounders from the International
Action Center. Ives, Flounders and Stevens are representing former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Also on the delegation
are Brian Concannon, acting in the capacity of President Aristides lawyer; and Katherine Kean, a friend of President Aristide.
Kim Ives, a personal friend of Jean-Bertrand and Mildred Aristide, said "This morning, the delegation went to the Palace
of the Renaissance, the presidential compound where President Aristide is being held." Mr. Ives had spoken to the Foreign
Minister Thursday to inform him the delegation was coming to meet with President Aristide.
"We were stopped at the gates by a guard who contacted a Central African Republic official inside the building. A representative
of the Central African Republic came out to speak with us," Ives reported. "We asked to go in to visit President Aristide
and were told we could not. We asked if he could come out to see us, and we were told no. We asked if we could send in a note
or our phone number, and we were told no. The official then told us that he had spoken with the Minister of Defense and that
Aristide was not allowed to receive visitors."
Mr. Ives also reported that he placed a call to the cell phone that the Aristides have been using to place calls to
their friends, attorneys and the media. "Mildred Aristide answered the phone. I said, Hello Mildred, this is Kim Ives, we
are here. At that point, the phone line went dead. We have tried to call many times since then but there has been no answer."
Brian Concannon is also a member of the delegation, acting in the capacity of President Aristides attorney. Standing
outside the gates of the compound where President Aristide is being held, Mr. Concannon requested to meet with President Aristide
alone for a consultation. This was also denied.
"The world has been told that President Aristide is free to come and go, and that he has simply chosen not to leave,"
said Sara Flounders of the IAC.
"The fact that our delegation has been denied all forms of contact with President Aristide confirms, in fact, that
he is being kept under lock and key, at this point not even able to communicate by phone." "The U.S. and French governments
chose to take Aristide to the Central African Republic, a formerly colonized and impoverished country," said Johnnie Stevens
of the IAC. "The Central African Republic, similar to many formerly colonized countries in Africa and around the world, has
been isolated and underdeveloped because of the past policies of France, the U.S. and other colonial and neo-colonial powers.
The U.S. and France should be paying reparations to the Central African Republic."
For more information on the U.S. delegation, contact the New York City office of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition (Act Now
to Stop War & End Racism): (212) 633-6646; email@example.com; Web site: www.InternationalANSWER.org.