Category: Local/State
New Orleans Removes First of 4 Confederate Statues–20170424-0029.html

  • Liberty Monument in New Orleans before its removal today.

    Liberty Monument in New Orleans before its removal today. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 April 2017 (2 hours 58 minutes ago)


The taking down the first statue was welcomed by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who called it the “most offensive” of the four.

Workers in New Orleans Monday removed “The Battle of Liberty Place Monument” Monday, the first of the four Confederate statues slated to be taken down as part of the removal of racist symbols that glorify activities of white supremacists.

Neo-Fascist Richard Spencer Cowers, Flees from DC Attacks

According to the mayor’s office, the monument commemorated “an 1874 attack on the racially integrated city police and state militia by the white supremacists Crescent City White League.” The monument glorified segregation in the southern state.

The taking down of the racially divisive symbol was welcomed by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who called it the “most offensive” of the four statues. The other three statues slated for removal from public spaces are one of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America during the U.S. Civil War, and two of its generals, Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard.

The statues that have little relevance to New Orleans were installed decades after the end of the Civil War in 1865, as part of the “Cult of the Lost Cause,” the city said in a statement. “The removal of these statues sends a clear and unequivocal message to the people of New Orleans and the nation: New Orleans celebrates our diversity, inclusion and tolerance,” the mayor told local TV station WWL-TV.

In 2015, following the deaths of nine Black church goers in South Carolina, the city council voted to take the statues down. A small group of people protested the takedown, saying, that the move disregarded their historic legacy. “None of them owned slaves, none of them were fighting for slavery,” protester Paul McIntyre told USA Today.

The statue removals are part of a larger trend to put an end to glorifying racist historical events and white supremacist figures, consigning the slavery-era monuments to museums. “We can remember these divisive chapters in our history in a museum or other facility where they can be put in context — and that’s where these statues belong,” Landrieu said.

Protest against Greg Abbott on Tuesday, April 18, 11 am, at Hilton Americas Hotel
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
This is a reminder that there will be a spirited protest against Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday, April 18, beginning at 11:00 am, at the Hilton Americas Hotel on 1600 Lamar Street. Abbott will be addressing the Greater Houston Partnership. We are going to show him what we think of his right-wing policies. The Facebook event page is at
Since becoming Governor in 2015, Greg Abbott has proved to be an enemy of workers, people of color, immigrants, women, LGBT communities, and the differently abled. As Attorney General and Governor, Abbott backed the racially discriminatory Texas voter ID law that was later gutted by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Abbott opposes women’s reproductive freedom–even in cases of rape and incest–and he backed the Texas law imposing prohibitive restrictions on abortion providers that was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Today, Abbott supports SB 4, which aims to punish cities, counties, and higher education institutions which do not aid and abet repression against undocumented immigrants. Abbott also supports SB 13, which would prohibit payroll deductions for union dues for most public employees, and other reactionary legislation. 

This demonstration is being organized by Houston Communist Party, Houston Socialist Movement, International Socialist Organization, Latinos Inmigrantes Triunfadores, MORENA-Houston SW, Organizacion Latino Americano Pro-Derecho Del Inmigrante, and Party for Socialism and Liberation. For more information, call 832.692.2306 or 713.447.4106.

The Harris County Democrats will also be protesting against Abbott. They contacted us weeks ago to discuss a possible combined action but then obtained a street closure permit exclusively for themselves. We will be there anyway, and our voices will be loud and strong. Only the masses of workers and oppressed people–not the Democrats or any other pro-business party–can bring about the fundamental social change we need.

Please also note that local neo-Nazi Ken Reed has called for a counter-demonstration against HSM at the same time and location. Reed says he isn’t really a “fanboy” of Abbott but “really despises” HSM, so the “American Patriot Vanguard” promises to be there. We sure hope so. It isn’t every day that we get to demonstrate against right-wing conservatives like Abbott and fascists like Reed at the same time! Although we do not expect any problems, Houston Jail Support will be available during the action. Contact us if you would like their phone number.

In Solidarity,

Upcoming Actions on March 24, March 25, and May 1
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Houston Communist Party, Houston Socialist Movement, Latinos Inmigrantes Triunfadores, MORENA-Houston SE, Organizacion Latino Americano Pro-Derecho Del Inmigrante, and Party for Socialism and Liberation are organizing three important actions during the next several weeks.
On Friday, March 24, from 11 am until 2 pm, we will be demonstrating against Governor Greg Abbott while he speaks to the Greater Houston Partnership at the Hilton Americas Hotel, 1600 Lamar Street. Greater Houston Democrats are also planning to protest against Abbott, so discussions about developing a unified action are under way.
On Saturday, March 25, beginning at 11 am, we will have a counter-protest against the pro-Trump Houston MAGA March scheduled at City Hall, 901 Bagby St. Some Trump supporters may be armed, but this will not stop us from standing up against exploitation, white supremacy, anti-immigrant hysteria, misogyny, anti-LGBT bigotry, and the threat of Fascism.
On Monday, May 1, from 5:30 pm until 8 pm, there will be an International Workers Day/Dia Sin Inmigrantes Rally held at a City Park. This action will combine the traditional celebration of May Day by workers of all nationalities with a special focus on solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters. An event page with the location and details for this event will be posted soon.
If your organization would like to support these actions, or if you would like more information, please call 832.692.2306 or 713.447.4106. We look forward to your participation in these events.
In Solidarity,


Socialism, $3-an-acre land and teaching farm wives how to brush their teeth

  • Cash Opportunity for Dyess
  • Socialism Settles Down

Larry Sims wasn’t a
Johnny Cash fan growing up

He was raised with his 12 brothers and sisters about a quarter-mile from the old Cash place in Dyess, and to him the experience seemed too everyday to be noteworthy.

“It was like growing up next door to Elvis,” said Sims, who spent 12 years as Dyess mayor and is now a meticulous custodian of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home and a knowledgeable tour guide at the Historic Dyess Colony.

The Dyess Colony is shown divided into plots in this map created in 1936.

The Dyess Colony is shown divided into plots in this map created in 1936.

“When Johnny came back for a big homecoming in 1968, I didn’t even see the show. I was a teenager then, and we were getting ready to get the cotton crop in.” But Sims, a former Dyess mayor who has worked for Arkansas State University for a couple of years as facilities manager at the heritage site, eventually came to love the words and music of the Man in Black, just as he loves the black-dirt lowlands from which they both sprang.

An Experiment in Socialism

The words, numbers and dollar signs tumble out when Sims describes the Dyess Colony, the largest federal agriculture resettlement program of the New Deal era, and essentially an experiment in American socialism.

Though it lasted only a decade, the colony gave hundreds of rural Arkansas families hope during the darkest days of the Depression. The handpicked farm families got new houses, 20 or 40 acres to farm, animals and groceries, all for no money down. Schools and churches were built, and a hospital provided settlers some of the best health care in all of rural Arkansas.

“The government came here with 1,300 men to create a town out of a snake-filled swamp,” Sims said, describing the project’s birth in 1934. “It was socialism, you know. The government bought the land, improved it, built the roads and the houses. W.R. Dyess gave the town its name.”

The first lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt, toured Dyess on June 9, 1936, visiting with locals and eating supper at the Dyess Café.

The first lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt, toured Dyess on June 9, 1936, visiting with locals and eating supper at the Dyess Café.

William Reynolds Dyess was a Delta farmer and businessman who became director of the Arkansas Emergency Relief Administration. His dream was to build a self-supporting agriculture colony in the Delta for destitute farmers, and it was becoming a reality when he died in a plane crash in 1936. The colony was renamed in his honor.

With $3 million in federal aid, “the government got nearly 16,000 acres at a cost of $3 an acre,” Sims said.”Settlers were upset later when they were charged $15 an acre. Now it’s some of the best land in Arkansas. Today it would cost $4,000 an acre, if you could find any for sale.”

At great effort, laborers making 30 cents an hour drained the land, cut a series of muddy roads and built the 500 farm cottages, which were worth about $1,500 each and highly prized.

“There was great competition for places,” said Ruth Hawkins, the director of Arkansas State University’s Heritage Sites. “Families had to prove they had been successful farmers before the Depression. They knew farming; they had just been wiped out by disasters.”

Resettlement applications collected meticulous details on the colonists. Questionnaires asked about health problems, family friction and even any evidence of “hereditary weaknesses, physical or mental.”

The town operated as a cooperative, with seed purchased and crops sold communally. Families got a share of profits from crops and the Dyess cannery and general store.


“Women would make little dolls for the store to sell,” said Sims, pointing to an exhibit including one of the dolls and a sample of the local scrip, called doodlum, that settlers used for currency. Settlers received instruction in hygiene, including suggestions for brushing their teeth twice daily with baking soda, wearing clean underwear daily and washing their hair twice a month.

War Takes Its Toll

But as World War II offered greater employment opportunities, most of Dyess’ residents left for military service or defense factory work, never to return. By 2010, only 410 residents remained in the town, which had incorporated in 1964. The Historic Dyess Colony and Johnny Cash Boyhood Home opened on Aug. 16, 2014.

Sims credited much of the early restoration effort to another big music-business figure from Dyess, Gene Williams.

Williams, who was about six years younger but knew Cash in school, donated “the first $50,000” to the Dyess restoration drive, Sims said. Williams had found success as a Memphis disc jockey before building a diverse business career as a TV personality, radio station owner and one of the original country music entrepreneurs in Branson, Missouri. His weekly live broadcast from Branson, sponsored by Lucas Oil Products Inc., was beamed to 173 stations across the nation. Williams died in 2011.

  • A resettled farmer and his family, photographed by Arthur Rothstein in 1935 at Dyess.
  • Dyess residents assist each other in a community canning workshop, photographed by Ben Shahn.
  • Sharecropper family members sit on their porch, photographed by Ben Shahn in 1935 at Dyess.
Dyess residents assist each other in a community canning workshop, photographed by Ben Shahn.

Last year, Gov. Asa Hutchinson committed $100,000 to the Dyess redevelopment project, and a performance by Johnny Cash’s daughter, Rosanne Cash, raised an additional $20,000.

“As we promote tourism, we recognize that a significant part of the future tourism in this state is our heritage sites, including the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess,” Hutchinson said. “I am delighted that the state can continue to support these sites for the next generation.”

The current generation in Dyess is still awaiting business development. The town has only two real businesses beyond farming: Bailey’s Grocery and Long’s Auto Repair.

Kandice Bailey, who with her husband, Jeff, owns the grocery store about a block from the Colony Center, says the town has declined in the 11 years they’ve had the 70-year-old store. But she’s excited about the heritage festival. “We’re hoping it brings us some revenue. They’ve had shows before at the old community center, but that’s farther away and I’m not sure people knew we were here. With events right here in the middle of Dyess, we’re thinking it will bring people in. I doubt if the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival will cause people to move here, but we’re expecting it to help business while the visitors are here.”

A Tourism Sampling of Arkansas’ Upper Delta

The Historic Dyess Colony and Johnny Cash Boyhood Home are just part of Arkansas State University’s heritage sites, which seek to support tourism while educating visitors about unique and important places in the history of eastern Arkansas.

Dyess is the most popular with visitors, attracting some 10,000 a year with more expected now that the Visitors’ Center and new signage are in place. 110 Center Drive, Dyess, (870) 764-2274

But not too far behind is the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum & Education Center in Piggott (Clay County) at the northern end of the scenic Crowley’s Ridge Parkway. The center, which attracts some 8,000 annual visitors, includes a barn studio used by Ernest Hemingway and the family home of Hemingway’s second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer. Hemingway wrote parts of one of his most famous novels, “A Farewell to Arms,” in Piggott. 1021 W. Cherry St., Piggott, (870) 598-3487

Near Dyess in the town of Tyronza (Poinsett County) is the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, dedicated to knowledge and understanding of the tenant farming and agriculture labor movements in the Mississippi River Delta. Tyronza was the home to one of the first integrated agriculture labor organizations, the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. 117 S. Main St., Tyronza, (870) 487-2909

The Rohwer Japanese American Relocation Center, an affiliate of the A-State sites supported in conjunction with other Arkansas colleges, tells of a World War II executive order by President Franklin D. Roosevelt that led to the roundup of thousands of Japanese-Americans who were held in detention camps. Up to 8,000 were kept behind barbed wire at a 500-acre camp in Rohwer (Desha County). Few visible signs of the camp still exist, but the detainees’ stories live on in nearby McGehee. 100 S. Railroad St., McGehee, (870) 222-9168

Lakeport Plantation near Lake Village (Chicot County) in the Lower Delta is Arkansas’ only remaining antebellum plantation home along the Mississippi River. Built in 1859, the Greek Revival structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, and given to A-State by the Sam Epstein Angel family in 2001. After five years of restoration, it was opened to the public. 601 Highway 142, Lake Village,(870) 265-6031

  • Ernest Hemingway wrote portions of his novel A Farewell to Arms while visiting his in-laws in Piggott, staying at what is now known as the Hemingway-Pfeiffer House.
  • A mural depicting the cotton heritage of east Arkansas was painted on the south wall of the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum in Tyronza by Connie Watkins of Paragould.
  • Lakeport Plantation near Lake Village is the only remaining Arkansas antebellum plantation home on the Mississippi River.  Near the top of this image, you can see the Greenville Bridge which opened in 2010.
Lakeport Plantation near Lake Village is the only remaining Arkansas antebellum plantation home on the Mississippi River. Near the top of this image, you can see the Greenville Bridge which opened in 2010.
New Orleans can remove Confederate monuments, court rules

New Orleans can remove Confederate monuments, court rules
Authorities in New Orleans have every right to take down monuments to Confederate leaders, a federal court has ruled, dismissing claims by historic preservation societies. The push to remove the monuments followed the 2015 Charleston church shooting.

Sons of Confederate Veterans, Monumental Task Committee, Louisiana Landmarks Society and the Foundation for Historical Louisiana argued that removing the monuments would cause irreparable harm and that the land they were located on may not be city property.

The three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that both claims “wholly lack legal viability or support,” according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The groups “have also failed to show that any irreparable harm to the monuments – even assuming such evidence – would constitute harm,” the court said.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu pushed for the removal of the monuments in 2015, dubbing them “nuisances” in the aftermath of the racially-inspired mass shooting at the Charleston Emanuel AME church.

The city is now free to request bids for removal of the monuments to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard. Another monument, commemorating a white uprising against the Reconstruction government, will remain standing pending unrelated litigation. The Battle of Liberty Place monument was previously moved as part of a federal transportation project.

“This win today will allow us to begin to turn a page on our divisive past and chart the course for a more inclusive future,” Landrieu said. “Moving the location of these monuments – from prominent public places in our city where they are revered to a place where they can be remembered – changes only their geography, not our history.”

The mayor hailed the court’s ruling as affirming “the city’s ability to control its property” and said the monuments will be preserved at a city warehouse until an appropriate place for them can be found.

Activists pushing for the monuments’ removal were likewise pleased with the verdict.

“This is a huge teachable moment for the nation to learn about the dangers of white supremacy,” Michael Quess Moore, founding member of Take Em Down NOLA, told AP.

The Monumental Task Committee and the Louisiana Landmarks Commission said they were considering requesting an en banc hearing from the 5th Circuit, in which all 14 judges would be asked to reconsider the panel’s verdict.

“Despite this setback, the non-profit organizations that filed the original suit will continue to argue that all the City’s historic monuments and cultural sites should be preserved and protected, and that a more appropriate response to calls for the monuments’ removal is a program to include explanatory plaques and markers to present these individuals in the context of their time,” the organizations said in a statement, quoted by the Times-Picayune.

Louisiana was one of the 11 states that seceded in 1861, protesting the election of Abraham Lincoln and vowing to preserve the institution of slavery in the Confederate States of America. New Orleans, the Confederacy’s second-largest city, was captured by Union troops in 1862 and remained under military occupation until the war’s end in 1865.

While Beauregard was born in New Orleans, Lee never visited the city. Jefferson Davis, the first – and last – president of the Confederacy, died in New Orleans in 1889.

Oil companies not to blame for Louisiana wetland destruction, court rules

Oil companies not to blame for Louisiana wetland destruction, court rules
A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of almost 100 multinational energy-extraction companies, sued by a Louisiana levee board blaming major erosion of the state’s wetlands on decades of oil and gas development.

A three-judge panel with the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday to uphold a 2015 federal court decision on a lawsuit filed by the New Orleans-based Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) in 2013. Shell, Chevron and BP are among the major industry defendants named in the suit, along with 94 other oil and gas companies the SLFPA-E blames for widespread destruction of the state’s coastal wetlands through the construction of exploration and production canals.

According to the US Geological Survey, Louisiana’s coastal wetlands are in danger of disappearing within the next two centuries. The state has seen its sea level rise about twice as fast as the global rate in the last 50 years, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The federal appeals panel said that the SLFPA-E, which has oversight of levees and general flood protection in the New Orleans area, does not have the legal standing to bring damage claims, nor does it have a valid argument for returning the lawsuit to state court, where it was originally filed.

The appeals court also agreed with US District Court Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown’s 2015 ruling that the SLFPA-E failed to prove the companies had a duty under federal law to address damage from their operations, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Brown also ruled that the SLFPA-E’s levees were located too far away from industry damage done by drilling.

“The District Court was correct that neither federal law nor Louisiana law creates a duty that binds defendants to protect the board from increased flood protection costs that arise out of the coastal erosion allegedly caused by defendants’ dredging activities,” the appeals court said in a decision written by Judge Priscilla Owen.

Attorneys for the authority said the industry should pay its “fair share” for coastal deterioration. The authority claims industry activity has left the area more susceptible to flooding and hurricane damage based on weakened levees.

“Coastal land loss is not just an urgent problem; it’s a disaster for the people of our state,” said attorney James Swanson. “Oil and gas companies have admitted that they’ve contributed to this problem.”

The lawsuit sought $50 billion in restoration compensation. The oil and gas industry has admitted to 36 percent of wetland erosion, while the US Department of Interior previously said the industry is to blame for anywhere from 15-59 percent of the damage.

Louisiana’s oil and gas industry, a major source of power in the much-drilled state, has fought the suit with claims of frivolity and malice.

“Our position remains validated by yet another court decision, further proving these allegations are baseless and without merit,” said Chris John, president of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association, said in a statement.

“This ruling is a step in the right direction, but we have many more miles to cover,” said Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association.

A number of similar lawsuits against the industry are still outstanding. Parishes that have sued over coastland destruction include Cameron, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and Vermilion, according to the Times-Picayune. Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards has promised to file more lawsuits as well.

“Divisive and unnecessary lawsuits, like the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East’s and a multitude of other coastal lawsuits, are creating an unstable legal environment for the state and driving new oil and gas investments, jobs, and tax revenue into neighboring states,” Briggs said in the joint statement. “I applaud the court of appeals’ decision, and we will fight to see that similar coastal lawsuits follow the same course of action.”

Louisiana officials said the appeals court ruling will likely not affect various parish lawsuits against the industry, the Times-Picayune reported, which are based on provisions of the state Coastal Resources Management Act and not federal law.

Former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, led the fight against the SLFPA-E lawsuit, encouraging and signing a legislation in 2014 that aimed to block oil and gas lawsuits. That legislation was later ruled unconstitutional in state court.

Exclusive: Trump administration considering separating women, children at Mexico border

By Julia Edwards Ainsley | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON Women and children crossing together illegally into the United States could be separated by U.S. authorities under a proposal being considered by the Department of Homeland Security, according to three government officials.

Part of the reason for the proposal is to deter mothers from migrating to the United States with their children, said the officials, who have been briefed on the proposal.

The policy shift would allow the government to keep parents in custody while they contest deportation or wait for asylum hearings. Children would be put into protective custody with the Department of Health and Human Services, in the “least restrictive setting” until they can be taken into the care of a U.S. relative or state-sponsored guardian.

Currently, families contesting deportation or applying for asylum are generally released from detention quickly and allowed to remain in the United States until their cases are resolved. A federal appeals court ruling bars prolonged child detention.

President Donald Trump has called for ending “catch and release,” in which migrants who cross illegally are freed to live in the United States while awaiting legal proceedings.

Two of the officials were briefed on the proposal at a Feb. 2 town hall for asylum officers by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum chief John Lafferty.

A third DHS official said the department is actively considering separating women from their children but has not made a decision.

HHS and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.

In a statement to Reuters, DHS said: “The journey north is a dangerous one with too many situations where children – brought by parents, relatives or smugglers – are often exploited, abused or may even lose their lives.

“With safety in mind, the Department of Homeland Security continually explores options that may discourage those from even beginning the journey,” the statement said.

U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat whose district includes about 200 miles (320 km) of the border with Mexico, slammed the proposal. “Bottom line: separating mothers and children is wrong,” he said in a statement.

“That type of thing is where we depart from border security and get into violating human rights,” he said.

About 54,000 children and their guardians were apprehended between Oct. 1, 2016, and Jan. 31, 2017, more than double the number caught over the same time period a year earlier.

Republicans in Congress have argued women are willing to risk the dangerous journey with their children because they are assured they will be quickly released from detention and given court dates set years into the future.

Immigrant rights advocates have argued that Central America’s violent and impoverished conditions force mothers to immigrate to the United States and that they should be given asylum status. (Graphic:


Implementing the new policy proposal “could create lifelong psychological trauma,” said Marielena Hincapie, executive director at the National Immigration Law Center. “Especially for children that have just completed a perilous journey from Central America.”

Hincapie said the U.S. government is likely to face legal challenges based on immigration and family law if they decide to implement the policy.

The policy would allow DHS to detain parents while complying with a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals order from July 2016 that immigrant children should be released from detention as quickly as possible. That order said their parents were not required to be freed.

To comply with that order, the Obama administration implemented a policy of holding women and children at family detention centers for no more than 21 days before releasing them.

Holding mothers in prolonged detention could also strain government resources, said Randy Capps of the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based non-profit.

“You are talking about a pretty rapid increase in the detention population if you are going to do this,” Capps said. “The question is really how much detention can they afford.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly last week ordered immigration agents to deport or criminally prosecute parents who facilitate the illegal smuggling of their children.

Many parents who arrive on the U.S.-Mexico border with their children have paid smugglers to guide them across the dangerous terrain.

(Reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley; Additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Sue Horton, Ross Colvin, James Dalgleish and Lisa Shumaker)