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Indybay Feature

R2K- Feb. 18, 2003 Trial for Tenant Organizer Camilo Viveiros

by repost
Camilo Viveiros, a tenant organizer for the Massachusetts Alliance of HUD Tenants in southeastern Mass., was arrested along with over 400 other protesters in Philadelphia in August 2000 during the Republican National
Convention.
Community organizer faces decades in Prison/Solidarity Needed!
Feb. 18 Trial for Tenant Organizer/ Anti-Corporate Globalization Activist Camilo Viveiros

PLEASE FORWARD

In Defense of Camilo Viveiros Jr.

Camilo Viveiros, a tenant organizer for the Massachusetts Alliance of HUD Tenants in southeastern Mass., was arrested along with over 400 other protesters in Philadelphia in August 2000 during the Republican National Convention. People had come to demonstrate against police brutality, the increase in construction of jails rather than schools, in favor of affordable housing, healthcare and immigrants rights and many other issues. They were faced, however, with repression, surveillance and brutality by the police in what civil liberties lawyers say was one of the largest violations of First Amendment rights since the Vietnam War.

In the two years since the Republican Convention protest, of the 400+ arrested, 95% have had their cases either dismissed for lack of evidence or have been acquitted. As these cases evaporated in court, a series of investigative reports revealed how far police powers and the judiciary were abused to stifle democratic dissent. Police deployed such tactics as surveillance, infiltration of groups, and mass arrests. Key leaders were singled out and detained to keep them off the streets. Authorities in their vindictiveness, went so far as to confiscate and destroy hundreds of puppets to ensure that the Republican delegates went their way blissfully unaware of the dissent expressed outside the convention halls.

In a prevalent police cover up tactic, some protesters who were attacked by the police where actually charged with aggravated assault. Camilo was beaten by the police and received a concussion, then he was charged with attacking police.

Camilo is caught in the very system he was protesting for its inhumanity and brutality. He still faces severe charges. We need to work together to make sure does not stand alone, after he has struggled to stand up for our communities and social justice.

Camilo's trial is set for February 18th. It is the prosecutor's final attempt to try to claim "violent" protesters validate the city's misdeeds and wasted resources. For those who know Camilo and the behavior of Philadelphia's Police during the RNC the charges against Camilo are clearly fabricated. He remains charged with first-degree felony claimed by then-police commissioner John Timoney, a charge that carries the same potential sentence as homicide. If convicted, Camilo could face 15-40 years in prison!

The former police commissioner of Philadelphia John Timoney has advanced his career from the role he has played in government repression of activists. He gained national notoriety by repeating his fictionalized account of fighting protesters in Philadelphia. He has since been retained to consult for security for the upcoming Democratic convention in Boston. He was recently appointed the police commissioner for the City of Miami, under his promise to squelch upcoming protests at the international convention of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

In the post September 11 climate of increased government surveillance and repression, Timoney is even more invested in portraying protesters as dangerous to increase the need for his services. Much of the pre-September 11 public awareness of police misconduct and brutality has diminished with the increased portrayal of police as protectors and heroes. Timoney has powerful ties to former Pennsylvania Governor Ridge, now the Director of Department of Homeland Security, and the Bush Administration. With dangerous national trends that are reducing civil liberties and John Timoney's special role in repression it is important that we work to keep Camilo free and stop the building up of repressive government forces that will be used against social justice activists and people of color.

This is not simply a case of injustice against one individual. Camilo's case threatens our right to use public protest and nonviolent civil disobedience as
a way to speak up against injustice. The push for Camilo's unjust conviction is an effort to legitimize the repression of our movements for justice.

We need to support Camilo to fight increased government repression and defend civil liberties.

STEPS YOU CAN TAKE:
1. Write a letter in support of Camilo. Send two copies of your letter, one addressed to the "Honorable Judge Hughes", one addressed to "To Whom it May Concern", to the following address:
Friends of Camilo
P.O. Box 23169
Providence, RI 02903
Email: stayingstrong at hotmail.com for more information or assistance.

In your letter, try to address the following points:

[If possible write your letter on organizational letterhead and state your group's members.]

** Briefly state your concerns regarding the continued prosecution of Camilo.
** Explain why it would be a shame to deprive the community of the valuable work Camilo does. E.g. Taking him away from his work would be a crisis for the tenants he works with and would add that much more insecurity to those who are most oppressed.
** State your awareness of the political nature of the arrest and your understanding that it is meant to discourage others from exercising their rights to free speech and using civil disobedience as a strategy for social change
** If you know Camilo, attest to his character.

2) Contact associates or organizational affiliates and urge them to write letters as well, particularly those in Philadelphia, to help build pressure where it is needed most.

3) Publicize information about Camilo's case in your internal publications, like newsletters, mailings, or web site.

4) Download a flyer from http://www.friendsofcamilo.org and distribute it.

5) Attend events in your area. (There will also be a rally and solidarity events in Philadelphia during Camilo's trial) Events are listed on the website.

6) If you are willing to participate in more, e.g.make phone calls, attend the trial or a press conference, etc., contact us:
In Boston - E-mail: camiloboston at yahoo.com
In Philly - Clarissa @ 215.748.1887 or Email: clarissa at critpath.org
In Providence - Beth @ 401.270.5223 or Email: sonica_64 at yahoo.com

SHORT BIOGRAPHY OF CAMILO's WORK
Camilo has devoted his life to helping others, especially those in impoverished communities and the sick and elderly, from volunteer work in high school as a caregiver, to his most recent 5 years as a tenant organizer in southeastern Mass.

Those who have met him can testify to his soft-spoken and gentle manner, and he is much respected, admired, and loved by his fellow organizers and the many lives he has touched. Camilo has been involved in direct service, advocacy and community organizing. As a teenager and student he: volunteered on a suicide hotline; worked in group homes with developmentally disabled adults; worked in the local rape crisis center; co-founded the Progressive Student Alliance (to increase financial aid funding and preserve programs to support immigrant and first-generation students); he worked with the national organization Empty The Shelters (Fill the Homes), which helped students and youth contribute to the efforts of welfare rights organizations and unions of the homeless; Camilo has helped to mobilize a mostly Cambodian neighborhood in Fall River, Massachusetts, to pressure the city to shut down a toxic incinerator; he went to Canada to stop the creation of a Hydro Quebec dam on Innu land; co-founded Homes not Jails in Boston. His dedication to social justice is evident by the variety of community organizations and the diversity of issues he has worked on. Camilo has been committed to the use of civil disobedience for years, believing that the power of the people lay in passionate activists successfully
building the support of ordinary people.


See also:
http://www.waste.org/~roadrunner/writing/camilo/main.htm
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