Tag: Activism

The Leonard Peltier Freedom Ride

By Ian Brzeski | United States

On July 28th a group of riders rode out from Mankato, Minnesota, planning to arrive at Coleman prison in Coleman, Florida on September 22nd. Coleman prison is where Leonard Peltier is currently being held on a double life sentence for the murder of two FBI agents. They plan on making many stops along the way and need all the support they can get. Leonard Peltier is believed by many to be wrongfully imprisoned. That’s why Ken Fourcloud, a Crow Creek Sioux Tribe citizen, organized this freedom ride in the hopes of President Trump granting Peltier his release.

Peltier, suffering from serious health issues, is 73 years old and has spent the last 41 years of his life in prison. He has been denied parole a multitude of times and hopes to be set free so he can spend his final moments with his family. It is highly believed that the prosecutors and federal agents:

  • planted his murder weapon as well as other evidence against him.
  • hid evidence that proved his innocence.
  • used torture methods to produce a false testimony out of Peltier.
  • ignored court orders.
  • lied to the jury.

What Happened?

On June 26th, 1975 two federal agents went onto private property on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the Jumping Bull Ranch. The agents did nothing to identify themselves. They were in a normal civilian car, had normal clothes, and didn’t mention to anybody that they were federal agents. All of a sudden, a shootout started for unknown reasons. A family with children were caught in the cross-fire. Fearing for their lives, many of the men on the reservation returned fire.

The two federal agents died in the shooting along with a 30-year-old Native American man who went by the name Joe Stuntz. The investigation of the killings of these two federal agents went into full throttle by the United States government, however, the killing of Joe Stuntz was never investigated. Immediately after the shooting took place, government forces swarmed the area and began harassing the people on the reservation. Forces shot up the Jumping Bull home (not killing anybody, but just shooting at the portraits in the house) and intimidated the people with assault rifles to issue warrantless intrusions on the homes of these individuals.

Manipulation of the media is nothing new by the United States government and it is not new in this case. FBI reports claimed that the agents were set up in an ambush by trained guerilla warfare and even went on to say that one of the agents begged for their lives for the sake of the other agent’s family. More reports stated that the agents were “riddled with bullets.” That statement had to be taken back by the FBI director as many reporters who were digging around figured out that that wasn’t the case at all.

According to the government, the two agents were out to arrest a Native American man, Jimmy Eagle. They claim that the agents saw Eagle drive onto the Jumping Bull Ranch property in a red pick up truck. Coincidentally, members of the American Indian Movement were on the property at that time because they were seeking protection from all the violence on the reservation. Leonard Peltier was one of these members present and became the focus of the whole investigation.

Investigators would take the bits of evidence that they had on Peltier and manipulate it in a way to pin the whole shooting on him. They issued indictments on Peltier and two others who were present on the shooting. They charged Jimmy Eagle but later dropped those charges as prosecutors admitted that Eagle was not on the reservation on the day of the shooting. FBI documents support that the government dismissed charges on Eagle so they can put all their power on nailing Peltier for the shooting. Despite all the individuals who were present at the shooting, nobody received as much scrutiny as Peltier did and nobody else was charged for the killings. It was even made clear that the bullets that killed the agents weren’t even the bullets fired from Peltier’s weapon but it was never presented to the jury.  To learn more about post-trial admissions, click here.

The freedom riders just want to seek justice for Leonard Peltier so he can spend his final moments with his family. They want to raise awareness on this issue and many other issues that are related to this manner. Please go and give them a donation on their GoFundMe page so the riders are able to afford everything they need to complete their journey. To track their progress, go to their Facebook page and give them your support.

“The only thing I am guilty of is struggling for my people.” -Leonard Peltier


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Facts, Gun Violence, Walkouts and Feelings

Isaiah Minter | United States

As millions of Americans across the country prepare for the March for Our Lives demonstration on March 24th, I expect the event to be little more than mass virtue signaling masquerading as youth activism. The truth is, millions of individuals carrying colorful signs and slandering those who agree with them does not make gun control good policy. Rather, it shows the foundation of gun control argumentation: emotion. Not facts, but feelings. And when discussing an issue as serious as the safety of our children, this approach does absolutely more harm than good.

If we are serious about improving the safety of our children and reducing gun violence, it is imperative that we pursue truth and evidence, not emotions and foolishness.

Therefore, I hope that this piece, in addressing common myths on the matter, functions as a resource for all Americans to understand the good intentions behind gun control are no substitute for its inability to yield positive results.

All in all, the American people have a right to facts. So here they are.

No, there have not been 18 school shootings this year.

When we think of school shootings, we usually think of students and teachers being killed by a shooter. We picture Columbine, Newtown, and Parkland, not a simple firearm being discharged on school grounds. By rejecting the sensationalized media view of the definition of school shooting, this statistic clearly is fake news.

America does not have a mass shooting problem.

Despite all the media hysteria, America isn’t even in the top ten of countries with the greatest frequency of mass public shootings and the annual death rate from them.

From 2009 to 2015, there were roughly 25% more per capita casualties from mass public shootings throughout Europe than the US.

Moreover, one study done in early 2017 found that all of the worst public mass shootings since 1970 have occurred outside the US. Of the worst 44, 40 have occurred outside the US and of the worst 67, 59 have occurred outside the US. Looking at the US specifically, from 1982 to early 2018 there were 98 mass shootings that resulted in 816 total deaths, or 23 deaths a year. While there has been a slight uptake in the frequency of mass public shootings, mass shootings account for just 12% of mass killings, which account for less than 1% of annual homicides.

Even when looking at homicide rates between US states and the rest of the world, America is not a haven of unimaginable violence.

In comparison to the rest of the world, the US does not stand out. There are clearly some state outliers, mainly Washington D.C., but keep in mind that the nation’s capital has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.

We can all agree that homicides and mass public shootings are tragic, but the notion that a country ranked 28th in international homicide has a gun crime epidemic that can only be solved by swift gun confiscation is clearly false.

More guns do not equal more crime.

Because guns are killing machines, more guns mean more crime. Unfortunately, the claim runs contrary to the evidence.

The plain fact is, gun crime, and violent crime, in general, has been falling for decades in America despite increases in gun ownership of roughly 10 million per year. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics:

“U.S. gun-related homicides dropped 39 percent over the course of 18 years, from 18,253 during 1993, to 11,101 in 2011. During the same period, non-fatal firearm crimes decreased even more, a whopping 69 percent. The majority of those declines in both categories occurred during the first 10 years of that time frame. Firearm homicides declined from 1993 to 1999, rose through 2006, and then declined again through 2011. Nonfatal firearm violence declined from 1993 through 2004, then fluctuated in the mid-to-late 2000s.”

Even if we compare rates of gun ownership and homicide state by state, the claim is not supported by data. Moreover, with respect to homicide and firearm ownership rates outside the US, a positive correlation remains to be seen.

In the event that a country, we’ll call it Nation A, has a high gun ownership rate and a high level of crime,  it does not logically follow the high level of crime must, or even can, be explained by the high level of gun ownership. It may even be the case that the level of high crime exists in spite of the high level of gun ownership.

For instance, the nine European nations with the lowest gun ownership rate have a combined murder rate three times that of the nine European nations with the highest gun ownership rate. It may very well be the case that firearm ownership explains very little of the disparity in murder between the two groups.

In any event, because crime is influenced by many factors independent of firearm ownership levels, the gun control side remains unfazed by hard evidence. For if they had any concern for the evidence, they would find that gun control has saved more egos in the last month than it has human lives in the last century.

Guns save lives.

As gun control pundits lament over the lives taken by guns, they ignore the massive disparity between the lives taken by firearms and the lives saved by them.

In 2016, some 16,459 murders were committed, with roughly 11,961 of them committed by firearms. Now, based on a study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, US citizens use guns in defense over 989,883 times a year.

If in one year, 11,961 people were killed by guns – we’ll round up to 12,000 – and 989,883 people had their lives saved by guns – we’ll round up to 990,000 – that means  each year in the United States firearms are used to save lives at least 80 times more often than they are used to take them.

The CDC offers a lower figure, finding that Americans use guns in defense of the home roughly 500,000 times a year.

Ultimately, estimates of defensive gun usage range from 500,000 cases a year to 3 million. In any case, guns are used significantly more often to defend a life than to take one.

Years after Columbine, the state of Colorado passed the 2003 Concealed Carry Act, allowing citizens to carry concealed firearms. According to the CATO Institute, this law helped halt a massacre in December 2007 when an attacker who opened fire in the New Life Mega Church was shot by a volunteer security guard with a concealed handgun.

Elsewhere, three school shootings were thwarted by adults with firearms. In 2015, a 62-year-old man who had fired at several people was shot and wounded by an armed civilian. In the same year, an Uber driver shot a gunman who had opened fire in Logan Square. On the whole, armed citizens kill roughly twice as many criminals as police do, but one would never know this from the media.

The NRA does not bribe politicians.

When it comes to campaign contributions and lobbying, the NRA is not that influential. In 2012, the top 20 lobbying spenders were as follows:

  • US Chamber of Commerce: $136,300,000
  • National Assn of Realtors: $41,464,580
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield: $22,569,532
  • American Hospital Assn: $20,123,200
  • Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America: $19,260,000
  • General Electric: $18,970,000
  • National Cable & Telecommunications Assn: $18,890,000
  • Google Inc: $18,220,000
  • Northrop Grumman: $17,540,000
  • AT&T Inc: $17,460,000
  • American Medical Assn: $16,505,000
  • Boeing Co: $15,640,000
  • Southern Co: $15,580,000
  • Lockheed Martin: $15,347,350
  • Verizon Communications: $15,020,000
  • Comcast Corp: $14,750,000
  • National Assn of Broadcasters: $14,510,000
  • Royal Dutch Shell: $14,480,000
  • United Technologies: $14,454,750
  • Business Roundtable: $13,890,000

*The NRA spent $2,980,000 in comparison*

The truth is, the NRA is not some sort of lobbying terrorist organization. In 2016, the organization spent just $1.1 million, ranking them 488th in campaign contributions for groups spending more than $1 million. In the same election cycle, the Republican party spent $638 million, or 580 times what the NRA contributed.

Since 2000, the NRA has spent $203 million in campaign contributions. While it is true they do give a lot of money to politicians, the NRA exerts more pressure on the political process by motivating their base, sending voter guides to their members in support of favored candidates. Moreover, they spend more money on independent expenditures than campaign contributions.

Contrary to what the media is pedaling, the gun lobby is not a greedy organization that condones the senseless murder of children. Rather, it is a genuine grass root group in Washington composed of millions of law-abiding citizens that value gun rights.

Me funding you because you support a position – what the NRA does – is not the same as me paying you to support a position. The latter is bribery. 

International gun control did not work.

Britain, Australia, Mexico, all the international cases of gun control that liberal pundits love to use are not as successful as they are made out to be.

In Australia, the firearm homicide rate was declining years before the gun buyback program in 1996. In the 7-years before and after the buyback, the homicide rate declined at the same rate. 3 years after the gun ban, armed robberies and firearm-related murders had increased by 69% and 19% respectively. Additionally, a decade-long study concluded that the gun measures taken by Australia had no effect on crime rates.

In 2000, 3 years after the gun ban in Britain, crime rates had drastically increased: sexual assault by 112%, assault by 130%, and armed robbery by 170%. Half of the areas with the lowest number of legal firearms had a gun crime rate above average, compared to just 10% of the areas with the highest number of legal firearms.

Mexico has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world, and yet in 2012, the country’s gun homicide rate per 100,000 people was over three times higher than the US. All of this comes in spite of the fact that Mexico has one legal gun store, compared to nearly 65,000 n the US.

Gun crime was declining in Australia before the gun buyback; crime in Britain has risen since the ban, and Mexico remains a country stricken by violence despite the gun control.

American gun control did not work.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban didn’t lower crime. California’s strict gun-control laws failed to prevent San Bernardino. Connecticut gun control legislation since Sandy Hook has proved ineffective. Gun control failed in Chicago, it failed in Washington D.C., The Orlando nightclub Pulse was a gun free zone, as were Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland.

For all the talk on the dire need for tighter gun laws, more signs and tears are offered than cases of hard evidence supporting gun control. And the reason why is clear: American gun control did not do what it was intended to do.

Image Source Matt Baldry

OPINION: Turning the Ship Around: Joshua Smith for LNC Chair 2018

By Mason Mohon | USA

When I first interviewed Joshua Smith, he was nothing but a great opportunity to put another face of libertarian activity on the site. Now, he may be the golden opportunity for the Libertarian Party to start making serious moves in the world and begin to actually bring liberty step forward.

Cryptocurrency is under attack. The state hates the subversive nature of it. The IRS recently went after Coinbase, forcing it to turn over plenty of customer information. A recent Senate bill created an IRS crackdown on finances, which included digital currencies. Some have even argued that this bill jeopardizes the privacy of cryptocurrency wallets in general. It is also a possibility that blockchain technologies have become another asset for government spying. This attack on one of the most powerful tools of liberty should be one that the Libertarian Party is at the forefront of challenging, but they are not.

This is just the icing on the cake for the status quo Libertarian Party. Granted, it has been “good,” and we have gained record registered voters for a third party, along with getting record LP votes in the 2016 election, but are people moving to us, or are we moving away from principle. It seems to be the latter. The party seems to be giving up on radicalism in favor of growing numbers, for Gary Johnson, one of the biggest exposures of libertarianism to the public sphere, decided he would support carbon taxes and not let businesses keep the right to discriminate. We’re in a bad place. We need to get back to what libertarianism is all about: radical uncompromising principled anti-statism.

Joshua Smith
Joshua Smith, Candidate for 2018 LNC Chair

Joshua Smith is a huge leap in that direction. His simples platform includes four points. These points start with an emphasis on enabling local leaders of the movement, giving them an avenue for actual activism and expansion in their communities and cities, which is something the movement really needs. This echoes Larry Sharpe’s advocacy for widespread local activism, which could be one of the only keys to actual LP success. This local mobilization could cause cascades of benefits to the liberty movement as a whole.

Smith’s second point was a principled reform focus. He wants to clean the party of its clutter. The libertarian socialists have no place in the movement and need to be ousted. They do not get to benefit from LP resources, so they should not be in the party. The principles of the party shall be reaffirmed and concretely defined. Joshua Smith will make this happen.

The third point is a focus on membership. As he told is his interview, he had a few issues his first go around with the LP when it came to getting active in the party and spreading the ideas that need to happen. He wishes to simplify and empower membership the LP, giving members new proper tools to spread liberty as soon as they have joined. “We can’t expect new members to be enthusiastic about spreading the ideals of liberty if we don’t act as though we’re happy to have them,” Smith states.

His final point was an emphasis on marketing. The party needs to be able to market itself better to the public. It needs to look appealing to join in, not like a mess with gross naked gingers dancing on stage. The marketing would focus both on member retention and party building, two things the party is definitely going to need in the coming future.

Since devising those points, and since my interview, he has put emphasis on fighting for cryptocurrencies, something that definitely needs to be done in this day and age. He has expressed interests in forming coalitions with big name cryptocurrency individuals and organizations, which would allow the LP to mobilize itself when it comes to defending the new technology from the hands of the state. This would put the voice of a large community of antistate and liberty-oriented people into action, which would be the beginning of a new political voice for the Libertarian Party.

Furthermore, Smith has expressed to me an interest in creating a new youth wing of the party. Young people like me have to be serious self-starters when it comes to activism. During the Hurricane Harvey disaster, my local Libertarian Youth Caucus was able to get active in relief, but most of the help came from the LYC higher-ups, and not the party itself. Libertarians across the board were mobilized in help, but I never saw the Party itself showing its face in this time of need. I am interested in seeing how Smith’s new youth wing would mesh with and integrate with the Libertarian Youth Caucus.

The Libertarian Party is giving up principles for the sake of party expansion, but you can have both. Smith’s election to LNC chair would turn this party around. These new focuses of activity could cause a real political change for the party and allow us to stand strong in the fight for cryptocurrencies. Enough playing games. Its time to start getting active.


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