Category Archives: Civil Liberties

Pittsburgh’s Sala Udin Gets Presidential Pardon, 44 Years Later

20161228-SalaPortrait001 Sala Udin at his Pittsburgh home.

Sala Udin at his Pittsburgh home.

By Tracie Mauriello

Post-Gazette Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Sala Udin was stopped for speeding as he drove from a rally in Mississippi to drop off a carload of fellow Freedom Riders in Cleveland before heading home to Pittsburgh. Police who stopped him in Kentucky that day in 1970 searched his car, found an unloaded shotgun and a jug of Mississippi moonshine, and hauled him off to jail.

In 1972, he was sent to federal prison for seven months, with the shadow of his conviction hanging over him for the next 44 years.

No more.

On Monday, President Barack Obama pardoned the civil rights activist and 77 other people across the country. The president also issued 153 commutations to people sentenced for a variety of crimes, most involving manufacturing, selling or possessing drugs.

That brings the president’s total clemency actions to 1,324 — more than any predecessor since Lyndon B. Johnson.

Mr. Obama’s pardons and commutations “exemplify his belief that America is a nation of second chances,” said Neil Eggleston, counsel to the president. “While each clemency recipient’s story is unique, the common thread of rehabilitation underlies them all.”

A presidential pardon grants absolution as if a crime had never occurred.

“It’s a second chance, and I think — for most crimes — people deserve a second chance. Some of them would mess up again, but most of them would take full advantage of a second chance,” Mr. Udin said.

Continue reading Pittsburgh’s Sala Udin Gets Presidential Pardon, 44 Years Later

Arrogance of Power: Frackers Gagging Susquehanna Citizen From Speaking Out

An Injunction Against the First Amendment

By Walter Brasch

Beaver County Blue via Moderate Voice

March 20, 2014 – Vera Scroggins of Susquehanna County, Pa., will be in court, Monday morning.

This time, she will have lawyers and hundreds of thousands of supporters throughout the country. Representing Scroggins to vacate an injunction limiting her travel will be lawyers from the ACLU and Public Citizen, and a private attorney.

The last time Scroggins appeared in the Common Pleas Court in October, she didn’t have lawyers. That’s because Judge Kenneth W. Seamans refused to grant her a continuance.

When she was served papers to appear in court, it was a Friday. On Monday, she faced four lawyers representing Cabot Oil and Gas Corp., one of the nation’s largest drillers. Seamans told the 63-year-old grandmother and retired nurse’s aide that to grant a continuance would inconvenience three of Cabot’s lawyers who came from Pittsburgh, more than 250 miles away. He also told her she might have to pay travel and other costs for the lawyers if she was successful in getting a continuance.

And so, Cabot presented its case against Scroggins.

The lawyers claimed she blocked access roads to Cabot drilling operations. They claimed she continually trespassed on their property. They claimed she was a danger to the workers.

Scroggins agreed that she used public roads to get to Cabot properties. For five years, Scroggins has led tours of private citizens and government officials to show them what fracking is, and to explain what it is doing to the health and environment.

Continue reading Arrogance of Power: Frackers Gagging Susquehanna Citizen From Speaking Out

Aug 24 March Gathering New Energy: Help Us With The Buses!

by Tina Shannon, President

PA 12th CD Chapter, Progressive Democrats of America

July 24, 2013

Friends, You’ve probably all heard about the 50th Anniversary March on Washington by now. At first it seemed the March might be a well-deserved but merely historic commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr’s magnificent I Have a Dream speech.

As time passed though, it became clear that many folks were quite aware of how relevant Dr. King’s words were to our present time. We are having our voting rights curtailed. We need jobs. The important institutions of civil society, such as schools and social services are being cut and even eliminated.

Then the incident in Florida made painfully clear to our entire nation how strongly racism still exists. Trayvon Martin is a black teen-ager cut down before his life was even launched, and he is only one of many with more to come. The whole country now must confront the truth about ALEC, the right wing think tank creating harmful & divisive legislation for corporations to foist upon Republican State lawmakers. We must also face the fact that Stand Your Ground laws are in place throughout the country allowing scared racists to confront those they perceive as different and dangerous and kill them if they feel threatened.

So, on top of all the economic and political problems we face, laws like this are being implemented that destroy the very fabric of our society.

It’s time to say, enough.

Folks all over the country are reserving buses and getting their friends & family to go to Washington to deliver this message.

We have reserved & filled 4 buses in Beaver County already. Enough people are expressing interest that we have reserved a 5th bus. We are currently raising funds to pay for it.

The cost of the 5th bus is $2400. One of you has already very generously donated $500. Only $1900 more to go. Please donate whatever you can. If everyone gives $10 or $20, we’ve got this.

Please sign up to go on the bus also. I think this March shaping up to be a historic event all on it’s own.

I often hear people ask, “When are we in this country going to get fed up & take to the streets?” Good question. It might be August 24th.

Let me know.

Tina Shannon


August 24, 2013: March for Freedom, Jobs and Voting Rights. We Need EVERYONE OUT to Defend the Dream

Our 12th CD PDA Chapter is part of this Committee. We are working to make this an important national event. HELP US FILL THE BUSES!

Contact Tina Shannon if you want to go,

via email or 724-683-1925



50th Anniversary

March on Washington

Come with the MLK 50th Anniversary Committee

to a March on Washington

August 24th 2013

to continue the fight for jobs and voting rights

Leaving from IBEW Hall, Sassafras Lane in Vanport/Beaver

Departure time : 3am Returning: 11pm

When Will We Find a Member of Congress to Speak for Our Progressive Majority?

Anyone can buy any gun at a PA Gun Show, no questions asked. Just plunk your money down.

Pennsylvania voters favor stricter background checks, poll finds

By James O’Toole

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

April 27, 2013 – Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly support the extension of background checks for gun purchases at arms shows or online, similar to the measure that recently failed in the U.S. Senate, according to a new poll.

While Republicans and male voters are generally less favorable to gun control initiatives, majorities in even those groups strongly supported the expanded background checks.

Overall, 85 percent of those surveyed in a new poll from Quinnipiac University said they favored the background checks. The same was true for 78 percent of the Republicans surveyed, 93 percent of Democrats and 88 percent of independents.

Asked to describe their reactions to the U.S. Senate’s rejection of the measure on April 17, from a list suggested by the interviewers, 70 percent said they were either "dissatisfied" or "angry" while 22 percent said they were "satisfied" and 5 percent said "enthusiastic."

Among Republicans, 10 percent said they were "enthusiastic" about the Senate action, 35 percent "satisfied," 37 percent "dissatisfied" and 15 percent "angry." Angry also was the response from 59 percent of the Democrats and 27 percent of independents.

Continue reading When Will We Find a Member of Congress to Speak for Our Progressive Majority?

April 4 Vigil Vows to Fight GOP Efforts to Deny Voting Rights

mlkrally 040

HB 934 Exposed as ‘Modern-Day Poll Tax

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

Some 80 labor and civil rights activists, together with a few elected officials, gathered at dusk at the Beaver County Courthouse April 4 for a candlelight vigil. The somber but militant event commemorated the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and protested the current efforts of rightwing PA Republicans to block citizens from voting in 2012.

mlkrally 008 “They’re declaring war on us,” said Lynwood Alford, a member of the Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council and leader of the Minority Coalition. ‘Taking away our voting rights is taking away the little power we have in the fight for survival.”

Alford repeated the refrain several times as he introduced new speakers. The vigil was sponsored by the Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council, SEIU Local 668, the USW, and the Beaver County NAACP. The 12 CD Progressive Democrats of America also endorsed the vigil, and turned out a good-sized contingent.

The target of everyone’s anger was the passage into law of HB 934 last month, the so-called ‘Voter ID Law’.

Continue reading April 4 Vigil Vows to Fight GOP Efforts to Deny Voting Rights

Yet Another Reason to Defeat the GOP Across the Board

More of the Same: Voter Suppression = Corporate Domination

By Ja-Rei Wang

March 21, 2012 – Pennsylvania has become the latest state to pass a voter ID law in the Republican-led nationwide effort to deny the vote to millions.

H.B. 934, which Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law last Wednesday, will effectively disenfranchise 691,000 Pennsylvanians who do not currently have a driver’s license, according to a 2006 Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) estimate. African Americans, seniors, people with disabilities, the working poor and students are twice as likely as others to lack ID. Voter ID bills introduced across the country would disenfranchise more than 21 million eligible voters.

Continue reading Yet Another Reason to Defeat the GOP Across the Board

Voting Rights Protest vs. GOP in Rochester, Saturday, Jan. 28

We Need Some ‘Street Heat’

on Sen. Elder Vogel, Join Us!

By Tina Shannon
Progressive Democrats of America

Dear Friends & Fellow Progressives,

The right wing in our nation has always and continually made every effort to keep people from voting.

At one time only white male property owners could vote. This was expanded to all white males. Then after a bloody civil war, black males gained the right to vote. Then women gained the right to vote after a long battle. Finally young folks from ages 18 to 21, who were fighting and dying in foreign wars, gained the right to vote.

In the South, where the former slave-owner aristocracy maintained power, a raft of new laws were passed that disenfranchised black voters. There were poll taxes, various voter tests and other obstacles thrown up to stop blacks and poor whites in the South from voting. The Republican Party is renewing this drive to disenfranchise wide sectors of the voting population in order to tighten their hold on the national government.

We are concerned that Sen.Vogel is a supporter of House Bill 934, the PA Voter Suppression Bill.

The right to vote is one of our most important rights. Now it is being challenged with new restrictions. Join us Saturday to voice your protest in person.

(Sen Vogel, stop this bill from coming to a vote)
Saturday, January 28th 12:00 noon
Sen. Elder Vogel’s office 488 Adams St. in Rochester

This demonstration is being organized by leaders and activists of the Beaver-Lawrence Labor Council, the NAACP, the Minority Coalition, Progressive Democrats, and representatives of local unions and churches. Our only hope politically is to keep building this progressive coalition that is growing & gaining strength right before our eyes. Please come out & help with this. It’s what PDA is all about.

Continue reading Voting Rights Protest vs. GOP in Rochester, Saturday, Jan. 28

Michael Moore Posts Bail for Wikileaks Head Julian Assange


Why I’m Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange

(A statement from Michael Moore)

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010


Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that I have put up $20,000 of my own money to help bail Mr. Assange out of jail.

Furthermore, I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars.

We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had had a WikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off. The only reason they thought they could get away with it was because they had a guaranteed cloak of secrecy. That guarantee has now been ripped from them, and I hope they are never able to operate in secret again.

Continue reading Michael Moore Posts Bail for Wikileaks Head Julian Assange