[act-ma] Justice for Jason - NaT'L CaLL-IN Day TODAY!! - Drop the racist charges now!

Julie Keefe jukee711 at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 3 09:49:56 PST 2009


***Please Forward Widely****    
 
 On February 3rd, 2009–the one year anniversary of the hate crime against Jason Vassell–organizations and citizens throughout the country will be calling into the Northampton District Attorney’s Office to demand Justice For Jason. Jason was a student at Umass Amherst when he was attacked by racist non-students in his own dormitory one year ago.  In a stunning example of the racism that pervades the criminal justice system at all levels, Jason is now the one facing up to 30 years in prison, not his attackers!! From the case of the Jena 6 to the tragic police murder of Oscar Grant, to bringing justice for Jason Vassell - now is the time to stand up against racist injustice in our campuses, communities and everwhere. Throughout the country folks are infuriated at the racist prosecution that has already taken a year of his life and is threatening to take away 30 more years! Raise your voice for justice - CALL IN TODAY!
 
Join the effort by signing up to call the DA and DEMAND JUSTICE FOR JASON!
The phone number for the office of Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel is 
(413) 586-9225
The office is open from 8am-5pm.
 
A Sample Script for a phone call to the DA’s office is below: 
Hello.
My name is __________ and I’m calling from ______________. I am calling to express my concern about the manner in whichyour office has pursued charges against Jason Vassell. It has become apparent that Jason was unjustly and selectively prosecuted due to the color of his skin, while his white assailants have escaped serious charges.

For local supporters:As a resident in the Northwestern District, this is not how I had intended for my elected District Attorney to act. I urge your office to view all races equally in the eyes of the law and to drop all charges against Jason Vassell. Thank you for your time.
For non-local supporters: As a resident of (city/state) I will be watching closely the developments of this case and the actions you choose to pursue. I urge your office to view all races equally in the eyes of the law and to drop all charges against Jason Vassell. Thank you for your time.
If you are unable to reach the DA, her e-mail and fax are listed below. Let her know your watching! Demand Justice for Jason!
FAX: (413) 584-3635                               E-Mail: elizabeth.d.schiebel at state.ma.us
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Further information: www.justiceforjason.org
 
Committee for Justice for Jason Vassell
Case Background
 
         On February 3, 2008 Jason Vassell was the victim of a racist hate crime. Since then he has been further victimized by a racist prosecution.  We, a coalition of community organizations, students and faculty, seek solidarity in challenging this racist
prosecution.
 
         Early on the morning of February 3, 2008, Jason, an African American student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, was in his dormitory. Two intoxicated white men, Jonathan Bowes and Jonathan Bosse, approached Jason’s dormitory window repeatedly referring to him as a “nigger” and breaking in the window. They then forced their way into the dormitory lobby where they assaulted Jason, breaking his nose and giving him a concussion. Under this continuing assault Jason was forced to defend himself with a pocketknife, injuring his assailants. 
 
         As a result of defending himself against this unprovoked assault Jason, the victim of the attack, was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon. These charges carry a possible thirty year prison sentence. One of the perpetrators, Jonathan Bowes, was charged only with misdemeanors carrying a maximum eighteen month sentence. The other, Jonathan Bosse, was not charged at all. 
 
         It was disturbing enough that Jason Vassell was subjected to a severe physical attack and an assault on his spirit. What we have subsequently witnessed has been an even more shameful violation both of Jason’s rights and of the community’s values of justice and equality irrespective of race. We have watched the Northwestern District Attorney's office march forward with no apparent regard for the potentially explosive racial implications of this case. The question here is one of justice and fairness; one of making a decision that is right. It is a question of justice for Jason and, equally important, of whether the interests and well being of the community are being served by this prosecution. It is not a question of whether criminal charges can be brought, but rather, whether they should be brought and against whom. It is a question of whether the interests of true justice and the well being of the community are being served by this
 prosecution. 
 
         Faced with a case in which the violent and racist motivations of Jason's white attackers were clear, the District Attorney has chosen to pursue excessive charges against a young black victim with no criminal record and an exemplary academic and personal reputation. Concurrently, the DA has also chosentopursue minor charges against only one of his two white attackers. Both of whom have a reputation for racial bias and one of whom, John Bowes, has been previously arrested for racist violence. The District Attorney’s decision to prosecute a black man and slap the wrists of two white men is yet another example of the long history of racist prosecutions that plague our country's legal legacy. Therefore, we stand as a community united for true justice, demanding that the District Attorney drop all charges against Jason Vassell. 
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other recent media:
 
Racist Assault Followed by Racist Prosecution-- Justice for Jason Now
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/1/30/01719/7822/798/690780
 
Protesting a Day of Shame
http://socialistworker.org/2009/02/03/protesting-a-day-of-shame
 Justice for Jason to march on anniversary
http://www.dailycollegian.com/news/1.1331086-1.1331086


      
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