Orange signals safety, caution, alertness. Today, June 2nd, it signals a stand against gun violence.
By Jeremy Schroeder, Amnesty International USA Board Member
Over the weekend of April 4, while over 900 Amnesty International activists from around the country converged on Chicago for the Amnesty International USA Annual General Meeting, 27 Chicago residents were victims of gun violence. And over the following weekend, 36 more Chicagoans were shot in 36 hours.
While these individual statistics are shocking, they do not convey the complex and horrific problems gun violence imposes on victims’ families, communities and the affected city at large.
Anthony Haynes was only 19. An African American with no prior criminal record, he was under the influence of crystal meth and mental health problems when he killed an off-duty police officer in Houston, Texas in May 1998.
At jury selection for his trial, the judge cleaned guns while African Americans were peremptorily removed from the jury pool. What kind of message did that send?
A jury with 11 white members convicted Haynes. His defense lawyer then made little effort to stave off a death sentence – witnesses who could have testified that Anthony Haynes’ crime was totally out of character were not called. The jury heard nothing about this, or about Haynes’ mental health issues, and promptly sentenced him to die.
Since his death sentence was handed down in 1999, Anthony Haynes has been a model prisoner, disproving the jury’s conclusion that he would be a continuing threat to society (a requirement in Texas for passing a death sentence).
Last week Al Qaeda issued its first major propaganda video since bin Laden’s death calling for further attacks on the American homeland and no one seems to have paid the blindest bit of attention.
The video was issued by Adam Gadahn, a Californian-born Al Qaeda fighter and propagandist who was frequently named as a potential successor to bin Laden in the immediate aftermath of the Abbottobad operation.
Born Adam Pearlman, Gadahn, who is also known as Azzam the American, converted to Islam in the late 1990s and moved to Pakistan where he joined Al Qaeda. Quite a switch for a kid who had once formed a one-man death metal band called Aphasia and wrote articles for the music fanzine Xenocide.