Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Foster case shows how capricious the death penalty is.

An appointment with death despite the evidence
By Bob Ray Sanders
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Another trip to Death Row.

Another man scheduled to die on the gurney in Texas’
infamous killing chamber.

Another human being who does not deserve this tragic

And another case that speaks to the absurdity of how
capital punishment is applied in general throughout
this country, but particularly in the Lone Star State.

The case of Kenneth Foster Jr., scheduled to die next
month for a 1996 murder in San Antonio, is further
proof of how cruel, capricious, unjust and utterly
insane our death penalty laws have become.

Because of this tainted system, whether you believe in
capital punishment or not, a man who did not plan or
commit a murder will die Aug. 30 unless somebody — a
judge, the Board of Pardons and Paroles and/or the
governor — has the heart and the guts to stop it.

On Aug. 14, 1996, Foster — who was 19 at the time —
was driving around with two guys he recently had met,
Dewayne Dillard and Julius Steen. They were in a car
that had been rented by Foster’s grandfather, the man
who basically had raised him since he was in the
fourth grade because “my mother and father ran the
streets,” he said.

According to Steen’s testimony, they were “just
goofing off, more or less, and smoking some weed” when
they decided to pick up a fourth person, Mauriceo
Brown, who rode with them into the night.

Testimony showed that at some point, Brown announced
that because they had a gun, they ought to “jack”

With Foster as the driver, Steen and Brown first got
out of the car and robbed a Hispanic woman at gunpoint
and later robbed a man and two women in a parking lot.

On their way home, they came off the freeway and ended
up in a residential neighborhood and saw, according to
court documents, “a scantily-clad woman, Mary Patrick,
who approached them and demanded to know why they were
following her.”

As it turned out, Patrick had been following her
friend Michael LaHood to his home, and the car driven
by Foster was right behind their two cars until they
came to a dead end and turned around.

After seeing Patrick standing at the edge of the
driveway, they assumed there was a party going on.
They stopped and chatted with her for a few seconds,
when she started cursing Steen and accusing the group
of following her.

Foster put his foot on the gas and prepared to leave,
he said, knowing he needed to get the car back to his
grandfather. But Brown jumped out of the car, he said,
went up the steep driveway and started talking to
LaHood, who was more than 80 feet away from the car.

He said he heard a “pop,” and when Brown got back to
the car, “We’re asking — everybody’s asking — what
went down? What happened?”

Brown had shot LaHood.

Shortly afterward, the four men would be arrested and
later charged with capital murder.

Dillard and Steen were never made available to
Foster’s attorney while the district attorney held
other cases over them. The district attorney chose to
try Foster and Brown together, and the judge refused
to sever the cases.

Foster was convicted along with Brown under the Texas
“law of parties,” even though he never participated
in, intended for or anticipated a murder.

Prosecutors, with the help of testimony from Steen,
made jurors believe that Foster had conspired in the
killing and should have anticipated it.

“[Foster] was a victim of a statute that was never
intended by its authors to be used this way,” said
Austin attorney Keith S. Hampton, who recently filed a
second application for a writ of habeas corpus with
the district court in San Antonio and an application
for commutation of sentence with the Board of Pardons
and Paroles.

“I talked to the authors, and they intended [the
statute] to be used in conspiracy cases,” Hampton

Steen has since said that he was pressured by the
prosecutors to give the trial testimony and has signed
an affidavit clarifying that he did not intend to
imply that Foster was aware of what Brown was about to
do. Brown himself testified that neither Foster nor
the others had planned a robbery or a shooting of
LaHood, nor did they know what he was doing.

At least one of the jurors has said in an affidavit
“that he would have given a different verdict if he
had known that Kenneth Foster did not anticipate that
Brown would take the gun when he got out of the car,
did not anticipate Brown would shoot LaHood, or that
he tried to drive away when he heard the shot,”
according to court documents.

Federal District Judge Royal Furgeson of San Antonio
overturned Foster’s death sentence in 2005, saying:

“There was no evidence before Foster’s sentencing jury
which would have supported a finding that Foster
either actually killed LaHood or that Foster intended
to kill LaHood or another person. Therein lays the
fundamental constitutional defect in Foster’s sentence
… Therefore, Foster’s death sentence is not
supported by the necessary factual finding mandated
[by the U.S. Supreme Court] and, for that reason,
cannot withstand Eighth Amendment scrutiny.”

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that
decision. Last spring, the U.S. Supreme Court, which
was considering three other Texas death penalty cases
at the time, did not take Foster’s appeal.

Thus, the subsequent writ application and request for
commutation have been filed in an effort to save
Foster’s life. His supporters also have been writing
to the governor and the pardons and paroles board.

“I’ve never tried to portray myself as an angel,”
Foster told me on a recent visit to Death Row. “I take
responsibility. I was a follower. I was a fool for
being there.”

He added: “We’re not saying I never did anything
wrong; for this case, I did nothing wrong. I didn’t
conspire, I didn’t participate, and I didn’t plan.”

Mauriceo Brown was executed for this crime on July 19,
2006. Foster’s execution is set for Aug. 30.

Steen pleaded guilty to two capital murder cases and
received a sentence of 35 years to life, and Dillard
was given a life sentence.

Does Foster deserve a more severe sentence than Steen
and Dillard?


Texas has become the “capital” in “capital
punishment,” and it is time for us to put an end to
the madness.

We can start by making sure this one innocent man’s
life is spared.

NOTE: In Wednesday’s column, I’ll tell you more about
my conversation with Foster — his views on dying,
Death Row and his feelings for the victim and his
Bob Ray Sanders’ column appears Sundays and
Wednesdays. 817-390-7775


Death penalty kills the innocent.

In response to questions posed on this blog, I am suggesting that readers look at studies below. With regard to the question of innocence, it makes no sense for supporters of capital punishment to argue that there are many fewer cases of innocents that we on the other side think. If any innnocent person is executed it is state-sanctioned murder and calls the whole system and its fallibility into question.

Copyright (c) 2005 Northwestern School of Law Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, Winter, 2005, 95 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 625, 4233 words, SYMPOSIUM: INNOCENCE IN CAPITAL SENTENCING: ARTICLE: FURTHER REFLECTIONS ON THE GUILLOTINE, RONALD J. ALLEN* & AMY SHAVELL**

And this from the Innocence Project:

Facts on Post-Conviction DNA Exonerations

[Print Version]

There have been 205 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States.

  • The first DNA exoneration took place in 1989. Exonerations have been won in 31 states; since 2000, there have been 142 exonerations.
  • 15 of the 205 people exonerated through DNA served time on death row.
  • The average length of time served by exonerees is 12 years. The total number of years served is approximately 2,538.
  • The average age of exonerees at the time of their wrongful convictions was 26.
  • Of the 205 exonerees:
    • 123 African Americans
    • 57 Caucasians
    • 19 Latinos
    • 1 Asian American
    • 5 whose race is unknown
  • The true suspects and/or perpetrators have been identified in 77 of the DNA exoneration cases.
  • Since 1989, there have been tens of thousands of cases where prime suspects were identified and pursued—until DNA testing (prior to conviction) proved that they were wrongly accused.
  • In more than 25 percent of cases in a National Institute of Justice study, suspects were excluded once DNA testing was conducted during the criminal investigation (the study, conducted in 1995, included 10,060 cases where testing was performed by FBI labs).
  • 45 percent of exonerees have been financially compensated. 21 states, the federal government, and the District of Columbia have passed laws to compensate people who were wrongfully incarcerated. Awards under these statutes vary from state to state.
  • 33 percent of cases closed by the Innocence Project were closed because of lost or missing evidence.

Leading Causes of Wrongful Convictions

These DNA exoneration cases have provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events, but arise from systemic defects that can be precisely identified and addressed. For more than 14 years, the Innocence Project has worked to pinpoint these trends.

Seventy-seven percent of post-conviction DNA exoneration cases in the U.S. involve mistaken eyewitness identification testimony, making it the leading cause of these wrongful convictions. Of that 77 percent, 48 percent of cases where race is known involved cross-racial eyewitness identification. Studies have shown that people are less able to recognize faces of a different race than their own. The Innocence Project has adopted a series of guidelines to improve the reliability of eyewitness identifications. These suggested reforms are practiced in the state of New Jersey, large cities like Minneapolis and Seattle, and several smaller jurisdictions.

Lab error and junk science have played a role in 65 percent of wrongful convictions.

In over half of DNA exonerations, the misapplication of forensic disciplines—such as blood type testing, hair analysis, fingerprint analysis, bite mark analysis, and more—has played a role in convicting the innocent. In these cases, forensic scientists and prosecutors presented fraudulent, exaggerated, or otherwise tainted evidence to the judge or jury which led to the wrongful conviction. Three cases have even involved erroneous testimony about DNA test results.

False confessions and incriminating statements lead to wrongful convictions in 25 percent of cases. More than 350 jurisdictions now record interrogations.

False confessions are another leading cause of wrongful convictions. Twenty-five percent of cases involve a false confession or incriminating statement made by the defendant. Of those cases, 35 percent were 18 or under and/or developmentally disabled. The Innocence Project encourages police departments to electronically record all custodial interrogations in their entirety in order to prevent coercion and to provide an accurate record of the proceedings. More than 350 jurisdictions have voluntarily adopted policies to record interrogations. State supreme courts have taken action in Alaska, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia require the taping of interrogations in homicide cases.

Snitches contribute to wrongful convictions in 15 percent of cases.
Another principal factor in wrongful convictions is the use of snitches, or jailhouse informants. Whenever snitch testimony is used, the Innocence Project recommends that the judge instruct the jury that most snitch testimony is unreliable as it may be offered in return for deals, special treatment, or the dropping of charges. Prosecutors should also reveal any incentive the snitch might receive, and all communication between prosecutors and snitches should be recorded. Fifteen percent of wrongful convictions that were later overturned by DNA testing were caused in part by snitch testimony.

For more on specific cases, go to

The death penalty is racist.

In response to recent comments on entries about Kenneth Foster, I thought I would point readers to the following studies:

Symposium at Copyright (c) 2004 DePaul Law Review DePaul Law Review, Summer, 2004, 53 DePaul L. Rev. 1403, 3357 words, ARTICLE: SYMPOSIUM: RACE TO EXECUTION: INTRODUCTION, Susan Bandes*

Amnesty finds race factor in US death sentences

BYLINE: Julian Borger in Washington

SECTION: Guardian Foreign Pages, Pg. 16

LENGTH: 494 words

Statistical evidence from the United States suggests that black defendants convicted of killing whites have been sentenced to death 15 times more often than white defendants convicted of killing blacks, according to a study published by Amnesty International yesterday.

The survey, based largely on recent investigations carried out by individual states, suggests that race remains a powerful factor when American juries decide whether to send convicts to death row, but that the race of the victim is often more important than the race of the murderer.

According to the Amnesty report – entitled Death by discrimination: the continuing role of race in capital cases – blacks and whites have been the victims of murder in roughly equal numbers since 1976.

“Yet, 80% of the more than 840 people put to death in the USA since 1976 were convicted of crimes involving white victims, compared to the 13% who were convicted of killing blacks,” says the report. It went on to say that some 200 African-Americans were executed for the murder of white victims in the period: “15 times as many as the number of whites put to death for killing blacks, and at least twice as many as the number of blacks executed for the murder of other blacks.”

Concern over racial disparities in the imposition of the death penalty has led to a string of reviews in recent years, but the Bush administration has contested their findings. While governor of Texas, President Bush himself presided over a record number of executions.

The attorney general, John Ashcroft, has said there was “no evidence of racial bias” in federal death penalty cases, despite the conclusions of a study commissioned by his predecessor, Janet Reno, which found that 80% of defendants who faced capital charges in federal cases nationwide were members of minorities.

Since coming to office, Mr Ashcroft has overruled federal prosecutors 28 times, forcing them to pursue death sen tences in cases that prosecutors had initially decided did not merit them. Of these 28 defendants, 26 were from minorities.

The justice department said Mr Ashcroft was unaware of the race of the defendants when he reviewed their cases.

Kate Allen, Amnesty International’s UK director, said that if Mr Bush was truly committed to equal justice he should call an “immediate halt” to executions.

“At least one in five of African-Americans executed since 1977, and a quarter of the blacks put to death for killing whites, were tried in front of all-white juries,” she added.

George Kendall, a lawyer for legal defence fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, said the role of local prosecutors was even more important.

“The local district attorney in America has more power than any other elected official. He’s got no boss. He decides who to charge and how to charge them. (An) overwhelming number of DAs are white,” he said.

More at

Large Racial Disparity Found By Study of Md. Death Penalty

BYLINE: Susan Levine and Lori Montgomery, Washington Post Staff Writers


LENGTH: 1061 words

Maryland prosecutors are far more likely to seek the death penalty for black suspects charged with killing white victims, a racial disparity that mirrors national trends and raises questions about whether capital punishment is being administered fairly, University of Maryland researchers said yesterday.

An analysis of nearly 6,000 Maryland homicide cases over two decades, the most comprehensive examination of how the state applies capital punishment, also found a marked geographic disparity among the state’s 24 jurisdictions.

Concerned about possible bias, outgoing Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) last May halted all executions pending the study’s completion. Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) has pledged to lift the moratorium regardless of the findings and to review cases on an individual basis.

The study’s conclusions that race and location appear to greatly influence application of the death penalty are likely to renew the intense debate. Principal investigator Raymond Paternoster, a criminal justice professor, said yesterday that it would be premature to end the ban without first addressing the issues raised.

“The kind of disparities we’re finding are systemic. They cannot be identified on a case-by-case analysis,” Paternoster said.

Twelve men, eight of them black, are on Maryland’s death row. In each case, the murder victim was white, and that specific factor strongly influenced a prosecutor’s decision to pursue a capital case, the report suggests.

But the researchers went beyond cases in which defendants were sentenced to death. They looked at all cases eligible for capital punishment — and at whether prosecutors chose to pursue those cases to trial or resolved them with plea agreements.

“Offenders who kill white victims, especially if the offender is black, are significantly and substantially more likely to be charged with a capital crime,” the report states. The probability is “twice as high as when a black slays another black.”

In at least nine states, researchers have found compelling statistical evidence that victims’ race plays a major role when prosecutors decide whether to seek the death penalty or, less often, when judges and juries decide to impose it, said University of Iowa law professor David C. Baldus. Less rigorous studies in 10 other states also show disparities based on the victim’s race, Baldus said.

In each of the states studied, killers of whites were more likely to be targeted for execution than killers of blacks, regardless of the circumstances of the crime.

The Maryland study has national significance because “it builds on this record,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. At this point, he said, “it’s incumbent on someone — the courts, the Congress, the president — to say race plays a significant role and that should not be the case. Either we fix it, or we stop it.”

In Maryland, geography proved as significant as race because of widely different practices by the state’s attorneys in various jurisdictions. “Jurisdiction matters, it matters a great deal,” Paternoster said.

In Baltimore County, for example, a death sentence was 26 times as likely as in Baltimore City and 14 times as likely as in Montgomery County, the study found.

Paternoster said the explanation for the disparities lies with state’s attorneys, not juries, although he was careful not to impugn the prosecutors’ motives.

“Let me be clear,” he told a news conference. “It doesn’t mean there is racial animus involved.” Rather, he said, it illustrates how “the product of their action does result in racial disparity.

Nearly 6,000 homicides occurred in Maryland from 1978 through 1999 — 1,311 of them potential capital cases. A death sentence was sought in 353 cases and was obtained nearly 20 percent of the time.

As part of the analysis, prison, court, prosecution, defense and police records were studied for detailed information about the crime and those involved. The researchers tried to control variables by considering 123 factors, such as whether the victim was bound or gagged or whether the perpetrator showed any remorse.

Ehrlich said yesterday that he would review Pasternoster’s methodology and findings but reiterated that his administration would make determinations on a case-by-case basis. He said race would be one of many points considered, though he declined to specify how he would factor it in when deciding whether to stay an execution.

He announced that Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele would review death warrants that reach his desk. Steele, the first African American elected statewide in Maryland, opposes the death penalty.

In Baltimore County, which has sent more men to Maryland’s death row than any other jurisdiction, Assistant State’s Attorney Ann Brobst was skeptical of Paternoster’s findings concerning race because of differences in policy and practice between jurisdictions.

The vast majority of black murder victims in the state die in Baltimore City and in Prince George’s County, two jurisdictions where prosecutors rarely seek the death penalty because local juries are reluctant to impose it. But in Baltimore County, which has a much higher percentage of white murder victims, the policy is to seek the death penalty whenever legally possible.

“If you have one jurisdiction which seeks the death penalty in every eligible case and two massively larger jurisdictions that never do, ever, yet have the vast majority of African American victims — well, you see the problem,” Brobst said.

Still, others called on Ehrlich to respond to the study. In Annapolis, about a dozen lawmakers joined representatives of the Catholic Church and Amnesty International to urge him to continue the moratorium until the General Assembly can review the report.

“This is a matter of racial justice,” said Del. Salima Siler Marriott (D-Baltimore). “If he does ignore the study, clearly he’s sending us a message that he is discounting racial justice, no matter how many people he’s including in his administration.”

If Ehrlich lifts the moratorium, as many as seven men could be put to death during his first year in office. Four have exhausted their appeals and could be executed immediately; officials expect three others to reach that point this year.

Staff writer Jo Becker contributed to this report.

Aftermath of a Witch-Hunt

July 26, 2007: On Ward Churchill Firing

Five pieces in this email:
1) Call for Op-eds and letters to the editor from
National Project to Defend Dissent & Critical Thinking
in Academia
2) Report from Daniel Kim, Assistant Professor,
Department of English, University of Colorado
3) Message of thanks to supporters from Natsu Saitta
and Ward Churchill
4) Transcript of coverage from Democracy Now!
5) Beneath the Surface interview with Tom Mayer and
Ward Churchill

The outrageous decision to fire Ward Churchill comes
on the heels of the denial of tenure to Norman
Finkelstein by the administration at DePaul.  Taken
together, it is clear that “purge” is not too strong a
term to describe what we are witnessing against
dissenting and critical thinking scholars in academia
today, and in particular those whose work challenges
the “official narratives” about this country’s history
and international policy that powerful forces in this
society are determined to maintain and restore. What
is called for at this moment is to seize the
opportunity to bring forward as significant a response
as possible. One way to do this is in the form of Op
Ed pieces and letters to editors. These could register
a significant, even unexpected, response that signals
to faculty, scholars, students and the broader public
that this decision represents a danger, not just to
academia but to society at this time in history, that
cannot and will not be allowed to stand. Most of the
media coverage of the decision gives no hint of the
growing opposition to this attack on critical thinking
and dissent among this country’s faculty, scholars and
public intellectuals expressed in the Open Letter that
we published in the NYRB in April; by the powerful
statements sent to the Regents and to the April
Emergency Forum that have appeared at the and,
sites; the articles at Counterpunch, and many, many more.

Please forward any op-eds and letters you write
(published or not) to


Dear Friends, Comrades and Allies,

On Tuesday, after two and a half years of struggle,
the Univ of Colorado fired our colleague Prof Ward
Churchill, one of the most prominent scholars in
American Indian Studies, whose distinguished work over
the past 25 years has deeply exposed COINTELPRO and
the history of American Indian genocide.

There has been a lot of media coverage but little that
reflects what is truly at stake in the case.  We, the
faculty, staff and students who have been fighting on
the ground here in Boulder, held our own joint press
conference with Prof. Churchill and his attorney to
respond to the firing.  Our voices and analysis have
not been represented in the coverage.

I don’t know how long this video will be available on
the web, but here it is from a local TV station:

Our speakers are:

Prof. Emma Perez of Ethnic Studies
Prof. Margaret LeCompte of Education
Prof. Tom Mayer of Sociology
Hadley Brown, UCSU Tri-Exec, Student
Ann-erika White Bird, Students for True Academic
Freedom, Student

You can also see Ward and his attorney, David lane,
speaking at our joint press conference:

The ramifications for academic freedom are clear to
most but one important point that our speakers are
addressing needs special emphasis.  A key part of the
“academic” case used to fire Prof. Churchill is that
he supposedly “falsified” and “fabricated” the history
of indigenous genocide–namely, that he lied when
asserting that the US Army intentionally spread
disease (e.g. via blankets), and that he lied when
asserting that the US Government created the “eugenics
code” of blood quantum (in the Dawes Act).  The Right
is crowing about how these “lies” about the US
responsibility for indigenous genocide have been
confirmed by Tuesday’s firing.  This firing is, as
ACTA has declared, D-Day for a war on Ethnic Studies,
Women’s Studies, and every other scholarly institution
of critical thinking that was carved into the
University by the social movements of the 60s and 70s.

You can also find links to the press conf by the
neocon CU President Hank Brown and Regents’ Chair Pay
Hayes at the 9News page:

One of the better local newspaper articles from that
day is here:

Finally, there is no way to thank you enough for your
support from across the country and beyond.  It has
been a hard and uphill road and we know that so many
of you have been with us from the beginning over two
years ago.  Because we have faced so much isolation,
hostility and betrayal here in Boulder, your
solidarity, your letters, your funds, your research,
your organizing have been so crucial to the survival
and persistence of our work in Boulder.  We are glad
and proud to know you’ll be with us as the struggle
moves ahead.

In solidarity,
Daniel Kim, on behalf of the faculty, students and
staff at CU-Boulder fighting at “ground zero” Boulder

Assistant Professor,
Department of English,
University of Colorado


Dear Friends,

Thanks to all of you for your continuing support and
recent e-mails.  We are energized and encouraged to
see how many people realize that yesterday’s 8-to-1
decision of the University of Colorado Regents to fire
Ward Churchill was not about a few footnotes, but
instead about suppressing historical truths and
dissenting speech.   (For a fairly good recap, see ;
there will be updates at

Some have said it was a sad day for academic freedom.
It is sad when Cindy Carlisle becomes the lone
courageous Regent for saying that the faculty review
panel’s recommendation shouldn’t have been overridden
by CU President Hank Brown.  But did anyone really
expect an elected body in Colorado to suddenly
manifest backbone, when they had been instructed to
fire Ward by Governors Owens and Ritter and the state
legislature, and were under tremendous pressure from
CU’s big donors?

For me, the bad days are when we sit by and let the
attorney general intimidate us into a collective
silence; when we allow torture, disappearances and
arbitrary detentions to become routine; when we insist
that this is a democracy, but refuse to accept any
responsibility for the actions of the government.
The sad days are when our kids are punished or
humiliated in school for refusing to celebrate this
country’s genocidal history; when we get glimpses of
other people’s children being reduced to “collateral

In Ward’s case, any pretense of academic freedom, to
say nothing of due process, evaporated when the
charade of a “research misconduct” investigation was
allowed to proceed, with the apparent sanction of so
many “liberal” academics like the National AAUP.   It
was long gone by last week, when CU refused to
investigate the numerous charges of falsification and
plagiarism in the very report upon which Ward’s
dismissal was based.

Yesterday that charade was consummated and today our
amazing attorney David Lane filed suit.  We look
forward to the day when a jury can decide whether the
citizens of Colorado are as willing as the University
to sacrifice the First Amendment for the status quo.

Ward and I appreciate your support in this small piece
of the struggle to keep critical thinking alive,  and
look forward to working with you on this and many
other fronts.

Natsu & Ward, July 25, 2007


Democracy Now!
Wednesday, July 25th, 2007
Professor Ward Churchill Vows to Sue University of
Colorado Over Controversial Firing

The Board of Regents of the University of Colorado in
Boulder voted 8-to-1 Tuesday evening to fire tenured
professor of Ethnic Studies Ward Churchill on charges
of research misconduct. But Churchill maintains that
the allegations were a pretext to remove him for his
controversial political views. One day after his
firing, Churchill calls the charges a sham and vows a
suit against the school. [includes rush transcript]

The Board of Regents of the University of Colorado in
Boulder voted 8-to-1 Tuesday evening to fire tenured
professor of Ethnic Studies Ward Churchill on charges
of research misconduct. But Churchill maintains that
the allegations were a pretext to remove him for his
unpopular political views. Churchill has written a
number of books on genocide against Native Americans
and the US government’s COINTELPRO program. After
yesterday’s verdict Churchill said he planned to sue
the university.

Churchill has written a number of books on genocide
against Native Americans and the US government’s
COINTELPRO program. After yesterday’s verdict
Churchill said he planned to sue the university.

The controversy dates back to early 2005 when a
college newspaper reprinted Churchill’s three-year old
essay on the attacks on the World Trade Center. He
described the attacks as a response to a long history
of US abuses and called those who were killed on 9-11
as “little Eichmanns” who formed a “technocratic corps
at the very heart of America’s global financial

Adolf Eichmann was a Nazi bureacrat convicted for war
crimes who political theorist Hannah Arendt famously
described as embodying the “banality of evil.” Fox
News commentator Bill O’Reilly repeatedly attacked
Churchill for his comparison. Soon after, Colorado
Governor Bill Owens wrote a letter to the university
calling for Churchill’s resignation.

A special panel at the university immediately
conducted an investigation into Churchill’s comments.
They concluded that he could not be fired for his
statements, which were protected by the First
Amendment. However, another panel later determined
that Churchill plagiarized and fabricated material in
his scholarship and recommended his dismissal.

Supporters of Ward Churchill organized a rally before
the Regents delivered their decision to fire Churchill
at 5.30 pm. They had been deliberating behind closed
doors all day.
•    Churchill supporter Ann Erika Whitebird.
Ward Churchill joins us on the phone from Boulder,

•    Ward Churchill. He was just terminated from his
tenured post as Professor of Ethnic Studies at the
University of Colorado, Boulder. Churchill is an
activist and author of a number of books on genocide
against Native Americans and the US government’s

This transcript is available free of charge. However,
donations help us provide closed captioning for the
deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank
you for your generous contribution. ?Donate – $25,
$50, $100, more…

AMY GOODMAN: The Board of Regents of the University of
Colorado in Boulder voted 8-to-1 Tuesday evening to
fire tenured professor of ethnic studies Ward
Churchill on charges of research misconduct, they
said. But Professor Churchill maintains the
allegations were a pretext to remove him for his
unpopular political views.
Churchill has written a number of books on genocide
against Native Americans and the US government’s
COINTELPRO program — that’s Counter-Intelligence
Program. After yesterday’s verdict, Churchill said he
planned to sue the university.

JUAN GONZALEZ: The controversy dates back to early
2005, when a college newspaper reprinted Churchill’s
three-year-old essay on the attacks on the World Trade
Center. He described the attacks as a response to a
long history of US abuses and called those who were
killed on 9/11 as “little Eichmanns” who formed a
“technocratic corps at the very heart of America’s
global financial empire.”

Adolf Eichmann was a Nazi bureaucrat convicted for war
crimes, who political theorist Hannah Arendt famously
described as embodying the “banality of evil.” Fox
News commentator Bill O’Reilly repeatedly attacked
Churchill for his comparison. Soon after, Colorado
Governor Bill Owens wrote a letter to the university
calling for Churchill’s resignation.

A special panel at the university immediately
conducted an investigation into Churchill’s comments.
They concluded that he could not be fired for his
statements, which were protected by the First
Amendment. However, another panel later determined
that Churchill plagiarized and fabricated material in
his scholarship and recommended his dismissal.

AMY GOODMAN: Supporters of Ward Churchill organized a
rally before the Regents delivered their decision to
fire Churchill at 5:30 last night in Boulder. They had
been deliberating behind closed doors all day.
Today we’ll be joined by Ward Churchill on the phone
from Boulder, but first to a clip of yesterday’s
rally. We turn now to Ward Churchill, his lawyer David
Lane, American Indian Movement activist Glenn Morris,
and one of Churchill’s students.

•    ANN ERIKA WHITEBIRD: And the decision to fire Ward
Churchill is really sad for me. He’s the only
professor that I’ve taken a class, where I really felt
empowered as an Indigenous person. And our history,
the history of genocide against our people, the
history, the policy, the US policy of extermination
against our people, the forced sterilization of our
women — that was found out as early as the ’70s — it
was all something that Ward talks about in his books.
So I’m not just talking about the class that he’s
offered, the FBI at Pine Ridge, but, you know, other
classes that he teaches and then the books that he’s
written is really affirming as a Native person.

•    The history that we hear growing up about the
smallpox blankets, it’s not something that you
question. It’s something that is part of our oral
history. And it’s part of the history of other
indigenous peoples. So when I’m here at CU Boulder and
I talk to other students who are Dene or from other
nations, it’s a common understanding.

AMY GOODMAN: That was a student talking about Ward
Churchill. Now, we turn to the ethnic studies
professor, who joins us on the phone from his home in
Boulder. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Ward Churchill.


AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts today on the morning after
your firing?

WARD CHURCHILL: Well, a period of glaciation, which
was this process of creating the illusion of research
misconduct to cover a firing for political speech, has
come to an end. That process has now run its course,
so there’s a new phase that’s begun, which is, I
suppose, for lack of a better way of putting it, my
period of defensive posture has come to an end and the
offense has begun, kicks off this morning with the
filing of a suit.
AMY GOODMAN: Who will you be suing?

WARD CHURCHILL: Regents of the University of Colorado
for accepting, in full knowledge at this point, a
non-scholarly sham of an investigative report,
creating the pretext. And I say “non-scholarly”
because the university has withdrawn the entire
investigative report from any scholarly scrutiny. They
refuse to allow it to be subject to scrutiny by
competent scholars. And there are research misconduct
complaints in place at this point against the members
of the investigative committee for serial plagiarism,
wholesale falsification, outright fabrication — in
other words, fraud. It’s a fraudulent finding.

So there is no defensible scholarly conclusions that
anything I’ve said in my writing is even inaccurate,
much less fraudulent, or that I committed the
so-called plagiarism. All they’ve got is public
outrage in the form of very well-organized rightwing,
active-style lobbying blocks, and the statements of
public officials, and so on, saying I should be
removed as the basis for removing me.

JUAN GONZALEZ: The amazing thing about this is that
the so-called — the investigation focused on
everything but the apparent reason why there was such
a determination to investigate you. The essay having
to do with 9/11, that wasn’t even a subject,
supposedly, of this investigation, was it?

WARD CHURCHILL: No. And a point to be made there is
that while I was a target, was a target that would
serve as a sort of conduit, in a way, they considered
me to be, and said so, considered me to be kind of at
the forefront of a sort of critical line of analysis,
historically speaking. And they wanted to roll back
that line of analysis altogether, to discredit it, so
that you basically have a return to that triumphalis,
celebratory white-supremacist interpretation of
American history with all of the denial and
falsification that that is known to entail. That’s the
reason, in part. And it’s in large part for the
charade that they have acted out over the last
two-and-a-half years, the going after the historical
analysis, as well as a purveyor of it. And so, this
goes way beyond me. I’m intended to symbolize the cost
and consequence of challenging orthodoxy in certain
critical domains, at least.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And what has been the response of the
press in Colorado? Have any of the newspapers or any
of the press defended your right to speak your mind?

WARD CHURCHILL: Well, yeah. They’ve created this false
dichotomy, in a way: Well, it’s reprehensible, we
disagree with it, blah, blah, blah, but he had a right
to say it, however repugnant it may have been. On the
other hand, he did all these things that constitute
research misconduct. Basically he’s pedaling lies to
the public that cause discontent with the status quo.
And that’s what the issue is. The specific acts of
research misconduct has nothing to do with that

The press was instrumental in framing that. There’s
been a symbiotic relationship between the
administration at the university and the press all
along. The press really took the lead in drumming up
furor. There were 400 feature articles on my case, or
what is supposed to be my case, in the Denver metro
area newspapers in barely sixty days. Pope died; I had
the front page of the Rocky Mountain News. The Rocky
Mountain News was at the very forefront of creating
the appearance that there was scholarly impropriety
involved in my work and to be able to separate that
set of issues then, the scholarly impropriety from the
speech issues.

AMY GOODMAN: Ward Churchill, we have to go. But in
addition to the lawsuit you’re filing, what are your
plans now?

WARD CHURCHILL: Well, my plans now are to continue to
do what it is that I’ve always done: I mean, being a
professor at the University of Colorado hardly defines
the nature of my life. In fact —

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. I
want to thank you for being with us from Boulder, Ward
Churchill, just fired by the University of Colorado.


Michael Slate, host of Beneath the Surface on KPFK,
dedicated his show on Tuesday on Churchill. He
interviewed Ward Churchill and Tom Mayer by phone, and
played an excerpt from a “”Balance” Is The Wrong
Criterion – And A Cover for a Witch-hunt – What We
Need is the Search for the Truth: Education, Real
Academic Freedom, Critical Thinking and Dissent by Bob
Avakian, chairman of the Revolutionary Communist

Audio of the program can be listened to here:

D-Day for Ward Churchill:



July 24: Regents To Vote on Firing Churchill
Main Rally at 3:30pm ˆ CU Boulder
UMC South Plaza (Broadway at Euclid St.)

D-Day in the struggle to defend free speech and Prof.
Ward Churchill is Tuesday July 24.

On that day, the CU Regents will vote after an all-day
meeting in Boulder, most of which will be closed to
the public.  But the Regents must come out to face us
when they make their vote and explain it.  So, be
there with us at 3:30pm for our main rally.  We will
observe their vote and make our voices heard.

If you can join us for more of the day, we will hold a
small rally in the morning (7:30am, UMC South Plaza)
to show our presence and we will maintain a vigil
while the fight goes on behind closed doors.

Here are 5 reasons why you should join us on July

1)    Our enemies are watching˜this attack on Prof.
Churchill is a key rightwing “test case” for a much
broader national assault.

The easier they think it is to fire Ward
Churchill on bogus charges of research misconduct, the
more attacks we’ll see on professors, staff, and
students, on ethnic studies and women’s studies
programs, and on critical thinking.

2)    Our friends and allies across the country and
around the world are counting on us to represent
them.  In just the past month, 100’s of people have
written to urge the Regents NOT to fire Prof.

3)    This is your last chance to weigh in˜this is the
final step in firing Prof. Churchill.

4)    The University is counting on you not to
come˜why else schedule it during the summer?

5)    It’s never too late to do what’s right, as
Michael Meeropol, economist and son of Ethel and
Julius Rosenberg realized two weeks ago:

” I have hesitated to voice my support for
Professor Ward Churchill as his case was being
adjudicated. These charges were (I thought)
substantive and went to the heart of our profession’s
integrity relating to intellectual honesty.  I have
been moved, however, to finally raise my voice in
protest after reading the detailed analysis by
Professor Tom Mayer.  To be frank and blunt, the
charges against Professor Churchill are bogus and
represent a fig-leaf of cover for a politically
motivated firing.”

The Regents may change their plans/location at the
last minute, so, spread the word, stay tuned, and
check out last minute developments at:, where you can also find
background and analysis.

Finally, we are students, faculty and staff at the
CU-Boulder who have been carrying on the struggle here
since the beginning.  Please respect our gameplan of
holding a strong, peaceful rally and vigil.


Defending Freedom of Speech and Ward Churchill

D-Day in the struggle to defend free speech is Tuesday
July 24.  On that day the Regents of the University of
Colorado will meet on the Boulder campus to decide
whether or not to fire Ward Churchill.  Despite a lot
of academic camouflage, Professor Churchill is in
severe danger of being fired because he is an
outspoken critic of imperialism and has developed a
radical iconoclastic interpretation of Native American
history. Churchill is an important scholar and
activist.  He has written or edited about twenty
books, and is probably the most widely read author at
the University of Colorado.  He is exactly the kind of
public intellectual that academic freedom and
constitutional safeguards for freedom of speech should

If Ward Churchill is fired, it will be an enormous
blow to dissenting scholarship of all kinds.  The
quality of higher education will also be imperiled
because teachers will become hesitant to advocate
unorthodox points of view in the classroom.  Firing
Ward Churchill will threaten diversity in higher
education at the University of Colorado and elsewhere.
The victims of racist oppression will quickly
understand that the full story of their persecution
cannot be told without dire consequences for the

On the morning and afternoon of July 24, rallies to
defend freedom of speech and  secure justice for Ward
Churchill will be held on the Boulder campus of CU.
The morning rally from 7:30am to 9:30am coincides with
the start of the Regents meeting.  The afternoon rally
from 3:30pm to 5:30pm takes place at the conclusion of
the Regents meeting when a decision about Professor
Churchill will be announced.  We  (the faculty,
student, staff, and townspeople organizers) think that
national media will be present at the Regents meeting.
Broad participation will show support for free speech
and academic freedom.  It will also make firing Ward
Churchill more difficult and may forestall future
attacks upon academic freedom.

The exact location of the Regents meeting remains
uncertain.  We will meet at 7:30am and again at 3:30pm
in the plaza on the south side of the University
Memorial Center (corner of Euclid and Broadway in
Boulder). From there we will walk to the site of the
Regents meeting carrying signs and placards.  The two
rallies will include short talks outside the Regents
meeting, most of which is closed to the public.
Please make an effort to attend either the morning or
the afternoon demonstration (or both).  This is a
local issue which has profound national and even
international consequences.  Your presence at the
rally can make a real difference.

On behalf of the organizing committee,
Tom Mayer


ACLU and ACLU of Colorado urge University of Colorado
Board of Regents
not to fire Professor Ward Churchill

July 19, 2007

In an open letter to the University of Colorado Board
of Regents released today, the ACLU and the ACLU of
Colorado urged the Board to reject the recommendation
of CU President Hank Brown to terminate Professor Ward
Churchill. President Brown’s decision ran counter to
the majority of the Appeals Panel of the Privilege and
Tenure Committee, which
concluded that dismissal was not warranted.

National ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero (of
the ACLU) and Cathryn Hazouri, Executive Director of
the ACLU of Colorado noted the highly charged
political nature of the public uproar over Professor
Churchill’s essay about the terrorist attacks on
September 11, 2001. They stated that the “poisoned
atmosphere in which this investigation was
launched…[has] irretrievably tainted the process.
The investigation of Professor Churchill’s scholarship
cannot be separated from the indefensible lynch-mob
furor that generated the initial calls for his

“The cure for unpopular speech is public debate,” says
Hazouri, “not silencing a voice you don’t want to
hear. Professor Churchill’s critics didn’t call for an
investigation; they called for him to be fired. When
those critics include the Governor and politicians
with influence over the University budget, it’s
impossible to conduct an impartial investigation.”

The letter warns that firing Professor Churchill over
the results of an investigation triggered by his
unpopular views which are clearly protected by the
First Amendment creates a dangerous precedent when it
comes to repressing academic freedom and chilling
public debate.


To the members of the University of Colorado Board of

Later this month, the Board of Regents will meet to
consider a recommendation, made by University of
Colorado President Hank Brown, that Professor Ward
Churchill’s employment be terminated.

We write on behalf of the American Civil Liberties
Union–an organization long dedicated to preserving
the principles of the First Amendment and academic
freedom–to urge you to reject this recommendation.

The investigation of Professor Churchill’s scholarship
is the result of widespread publicity in early 2005
about certain unpopular views Professor Churchill
expressed several years earlier in an essay about the
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Prominent
public officials, including members of the legislature
and the then-Governor of Colorado, quickly called for
Professor Churchill’s termination. The Board of
Regents called an emergency meeting, at which the
Chancellor announced his plan for an immediate
investigation of all of Professor Churchill’s writing
and speeches to determine whether they provided any
grounds for dismissal.

It is undisputed, however, that Professor Churchill’s
views are protected by the First Amendment and cannot
serve as a legal basis for any adverse employment
action. Nevertheless, the University soon launched the
investigation of Professor Churchill’s scholarship in
an effort to find more defensible grounds for
sanctioning him.

The investigative committee found six charges of
research misconduct to be sustained. The Appeals Panel
of the Privilege and Tenure Committee concluded that
only three of those were valid. Only one member of the
five-member investigative committee believed that
dismissal was an appropriate sanction, and a majority
of the appeals panel concluded that termination was
not warranted. Despite these conclusions, the
University President has recommended termination, thus
urging the same result as the elected officials who
publicly called for Professor Churchill’s termination
in 2005. The current Governor of Colorado has now
added his voice to those clamoring for Professor
Churchill to be fired.

We believe the poisoned atmosphere in which this
investigation was launched, and the circumstances
under which it was initiated, have irretrievably
tainted the process. The investigation of Professor
Churchill’s scholarship cannot be separated from the
indefensible lynch-mob furor that generated the
initial calls for his termination. Firing Professor
Churchill in these circumstances does not send a
message about academic rigor and standards of
professional integrity. On the contrary, it sends a
warning to the academic community that politically
unpopular dissenters speak out at their peril.

Accepting President Brown’s recommendation in these
circumstances poses too great a risk that other
members of the academic community will respond by
choosing to silence themselves or temper the public
expression of their views out of fear that they, too,
will be subjected to detailed fishing expeditions and
censure. Such a result not only undermines academic
freedom, it also diminishes the range and breadth of
public debate that is vital to a flourishing
democracy. We urge you to reject President Brown’s

Anthony Romero
Cathryn Hazouri
Executive Director     Executive Director
ACLU     ACLU of Colorado


Hi Folks,
Here is a clear example of what I have been warning
about with respect to inordinate right wing influence
on the nation’s higher education system (see article
below).  Anne Neal who directs Lynne Cheney’s American
Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) has been
appointed by the Bush Administration to the nation’s
Accreditation Review Panel.

Cheney, ACTA and Neal think nearly all higher ed
institutions in the country are too liberal and should
have their curricula radically scaled back to
technical basics and an elective pallet that extols
the wondrous achievements and virtues of western
civilization and America.  Ethnic, gender,
environmental and ‘revisionist’ social studies would
be eliminated while classrooms are micro-managed for
appropriate content.  This is the same Anne Neal who
has been lobbying hard for the professional execution
of Ward Churchill.  Several of ACTA’s members and
allies, including the CU President, and some
high-level CU administrators, regents and state
administrators, are shaping Colorado higher education
into their preferred model of a top-down, commercially
orientated, ideologically driven font of marketable
intellectual property and highly skilled and compliant
worker bees for corporations, government and the

If you want a larger context within which to justify
opposition to Churchill’s firing, this is it.  His
dismissal will significantly strengthen insidious
right wing influence at CU, in Colorado and
nationally.  Meanwhile, these same forces are co
opting the nation’s academy right under the nose of
America’s faculty, as many try to avoid fallout from
right wing inspired imbroglios such as those
surrounding Churchill, De Paul’s Norman Finkelstein
and other less visible targets.

Now is the time for all CU faculty who value liberal
education to stand up and organize, starting with
opposition to the fraudulent persecution and pending
dismissal of Ward Churchill.