Friday, November 16, 2007

ARTICLE: Hands Off Shaquanda!

We All Live In Jena!

Uhuru! Comrades, Sisters, Brothers and Allies,
At the 2007 International InPDUM Convention, held in Huntsville, AL, we heard a report from the International Steering to Defend Shaquanda Cotton. This historic process gave us the ability to turn what was once a local effort to defend Shaquanda in Paris, TXinto an international campaign that exposes the U.S. government's use of the colonial education system as a tool to criminalize an entire generation of young Africans.
While many of us are somewhat familiar with Shaquanda's case, we have not had the ability to organize as one people to defend her and the countless other African youth currently serving unust jail sentences in the colonial prisons across this country...Until now!

The Case

Shaquanda Cotton, an African girl who, in March 2006, at the age of 14, was sentenced to 7 years (an indeterminate time not to exceed her 21st birthday) in the Texas Youth Commission's juvenile detention facilities for allegedly shoving a hall monitor at her high school in Paris, Texas.
Creola Cotton, Shaquanda's mother, is a political activist in Paris. She began filing complaints against school administration when her own children were being mistreated in the schools. She along with her long time friend, Brenda Cherry then began an organization called Concerned Citizens for Racial Equality (CCRE). Together, they would defend countless African children who were being terrorized in the schools.
During Shaquanda's trial, it became clear that Shaquanda was being persecuted for her mother's political activism and that government in Paris, TX wanted to teach them both a lesson. During the trial, the DA made reference to Shaquanda's mother and her political beliefs. At one point, he referred to her home as revolutionary and "racial". Due to this colonial injustice, Shaquanda's right to political belief and free speech was thrown out the window and she was found guilty and sentenced to 7 years in prison

But the People Fought Back!
On March 20th of 2007 political activists from throughout the region organized a march on the Paris Courthouse. Because of the attention the march brought onto her case, the state was forced to release Shaquanda after serving 1 year of her 7 year sentence.
Although Not In Jail, Shaquanda is still in Bondage!
On July 6, 2007 a court in Texarkana, Texas denied the people's appeal of her conviction, giving the state the legal right to put her back behind bars. Part of the fundamental struggle her family and supporters have been making is that Shaquanda is completely exonerated of any charges and her conviction be overturned.

What You Can Do
The International Executive Committee of the InPDUM is calling on all local branches and organizing committees to begin carrying out the following tasks in your areas (within respective timeframes).

    Bring the Hands Off Shaquanda Speaking Tour To Your City (January)
    Start Up a Shaquanda Cotton Defense Committee in Your City (January)
    Circulate the petition in your area and online (immediately)
    Circulate Hands off Shaquanda flier in your area and online (immediately)

If you are interested in participating in any of this work, please contact the International Steering Committee to Defend Shaquanda Cotton at A representative will soon follow up with youto provide you with direct leadership in implementation of this strategy.

We can also be reached at 214-646-1907

Talib Aatiq

La Nueva Raza News