The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.60/No.12           March 25, 1996 
In Brief  

GIs convicted in Japan rape case
On March 7 an Okinawa court convicted three U.S. soldiers for the rape of a 12-year-old Japanese girl, who they assaulted on September 4. The rape outraged many people on the island. Tens of thousands hit the streets demanding the U.S. military get out of Japan. In October the largest protest ever against U.S. military bases on Japanese territory took place on the island, when 85,000 Okinawans marched and chanted slogans such as "Yankee Go Home."

The government of Okinawa asserts that the rape was only one of more than 4,600 serious crimes committed by U.S. servicemen since Washington's military occupation of the island formally ended in 1972. About 28,000 - three-fifths - of the 47,000 U.S. soldiers stationed in Japan are located in Okinawa.

Rebels retake part of Chechnya
In another blow to Russian president Boris Yeltsin, hundreds of Chechen fighters launched an offensive in the capital city Grozny in early March, retaking part of the city. They seized an electrical power station, a water plant, and a fuel depot. Dozens of Russian soldiers were killed in the battle and many others were forced to flee. "The city of Grozny will be taken," rebel leader Dzhokar Dudayev declared on Chechnya's main television channel.

In the last few weeks the Russian military intensified assaults on villages in Chechnya near neighboring Ingushetia. Moscow's bloody war against the Chechens is "the heaviest burden the president carries into the election," groaned Oleg Soskovets, Yeltsin's first deputy prime minister and campaign chairman.

Killer cop convicted in France
Pascal Compain, a police inspector in Paris, was convicted February 16 of involuntary manslaughter in the murder of 17- year-old Makomé M'Bowole. While questioning the Zairian youth in 1993, Compain put a gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. The killer cop claimed he only intended to scare M'Bowole and did not know the gun was loaded.

Hundreds of youth, most of them immigrants from Zaire, left the courtroom filled with anger after the sentencing of Compain. "When you are Black and steal a packet of cigarettes you get the death sentence. But if you kill a youth stealing cigarettes and you are white, you just get a light jail term," said M'Bowole's father.

Paris deports workers to Zaire
French interior minister Jean-Louis Debre announced March 1 that 65 undocumented workers were deported to Zaire February 1, in the 14th mass deportation since Jacques Chirac was elected president of France in May 1995. "The fight against illegal immigration is a priority," Debre said in a statement.

Government officials and other capitalist politicians are scapegoating immigrant workers for the economic crisis in France, where 3 million people are jobless and the unemployment rate soared to 11.8 percent in January. Ultrarightist politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, who won 15 percent of the vote in the last presidential election, vowed during his campaign to push for deporting 3 million immigrants.

`Slave' workers get $1 million
Seventy-one Thai and 29 Latino workers were awarded $1.1 million in back wages by the California Department of Industrial Relations at a ceremony March 9. The immigrants were owed $9 million in back pay by a Los Angeles-area garment "slave shop" in El Monte, where they worked for less than $1 an hour, under guard behind barbed wire.

State and federal cops raided the shop last August after one of the workers escaped and blew the whistle. After the raid, the workers were initially jailed by immigration police, but a wave of protests won their release and they were granted work permits Seven of the operators and a former manager of the shop plea bargained with federal authorities to serve prison terms of two to seven years.

Immigration bill debated
U.S. Congress began debate February 29 on a new immigration bill that will further restrict democratic rights. The proposed legislation includes developing a national data system supposedly to enable bosses to verify the identity and employment eligibility of every person hired in the United States. Another proposal involves restricting the number of legal immigrants to the United States by 30 percent or more. If passed, it will be the first cut in the number of immigrants permitted to enter the country since the 1920s.

Last year U.S. president Bill Clinton endorsed a federal advisory panel recommendation to slash legal immigration by one- third. About 775,000 people migrate legally to the United States each year.

Protest for immigrant rights
Some 150 people chanted "No human being is illegal!" as they marched in front of the U.S. Department of Justice February 29 protesting attacks on immigrant workers. The demonstration was organized by the Pro-Immigrant Coalition of the Washington Metropolitan Area. Immigrant rights activists formed the coalition in response to a massive raid by Immigration and Naturalization Service agents on February 1, where 83 undocumented workers were arrested in Maryland. The group stated plans for more actions. "We will stand up to defend all immigrants...both documented and undocumented," declared Pedro Avilés, one of the coordinators of the coalition.

Cops fired for debauchery
New York police commissioner William Bratton announced February 23 the dismissal of police officers James Morrow and Wayne Hagmaier for their role in a May 1995 incident where scores of cops went on a drunken rampage. New York cops spent $98,000 at a Washington, D.C., convention bar during three days of revelry, where they supposedly joined with 10,000 cops for a memorial service.

Morrow, known to his cohorts as "Naked Man," joined other cops in a drunken romp, sliding naked down banisters, pouring beer down escalators, harassing guests at a nurses convention, and setting off fire alarms, forcing evacuation of the hotel in the early morning of May 15. Many witnesses to the debauchery who were quoted on television and in newspapers changed their story after interrogation by Internal Affairs detectives. Only seven cops have been disciplined for the May 15 incident.

`Three strikes' law hits Blacks
Blacks are sent to prison at a rate 13 times that of whites under California's "three strikes and you're out" law, according to a study released March 4 by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco. One recent survey of 1,000 cases in Los Angeles revealed that Blacks were charged 17 times the rate of whites under the law, which has been in effect for two years.

While they comprise only 7 percent of the state's population, Blacks account for 43 percent of those imprisoned under the new law, which mandates sentences of 25 years to life for those convicted of three felonies. "If one were writing a law to deliberately target Blacks, one could scarcely have done it more effectively than `three strikes,' " Vincent Schiraldi, the center's executive director, told the Washington Post.


Nat London in Paris, Harry Ring in Los Angeles, and Brian Taylor in Washington, D.C., contributed to this column.

Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home