Thursday, May 28, 2009

PA newspaper runs ad calling for Obama's assassination

The Warren Pennsylvania Times-Observer ( published an ad today calling for the assassination of President Barack Obama.

The text of the small classified ad reads, “May Obama follow in the footsteps of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy!”  There is no other text and it has no attribution.  The ad may be viewed here

Keystone Progress called the Times-Observer for comment and got a return call from John T. Elchert, the paper’s publisher.  Mr. Elchert was extremely apologetic and wanted to make it clear that the ad did not reflect the paper’s policy.

“It is unfortunate that it made it to press,” said Elchert.  “The person who took the ad didn’t recognize the significance of the names.  We cancelled the ad and turned the information over to the authorities.”

Mr . Elchert said that he contacted the local police who were forwarding the information to federal authorities.

“Unfortunately, the attitude of the person who placed the ad is too prevalent in Pennsylvania,” said Michael Morrill, the executive director of Keystone Progress.  “In the last few days we’ve gotten emails calling the president ‘chimp’ and the n-word after he nominated Judge Sotomayor.  It makes it very difficult to organize around issues when the opposition to the president’s policies is so racially charged. ”

Keystone Progress ( is the organization that exposed the racism and hatred at McCain and Palin rallies in Pennsylvania (   They are also helping to organize the campaign to get Governor Rendell to speak out against the beating death of Latino immigrant Luis Ramirez last year in Schuylkill County (

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This is what hate looks like in Pennsylvania

After they had beaten Luis Ramirez to death, the white teenagers who attacked him sent an ominous message to Luis' friends:

"Tell your f**king Mexican friends to get the f**k out of Shenandoah or you'll be f**king laying next to him."1

Just over a week ago, two of Ramirez's killers were acquitted of all serious charges by an all white jury2, with the jury foreman making it clear that justice for Ramirez had no chance in the small town of Shenandoah, PA:

"I believe strongly that some of the people on the jury were racist. I believe strongly that some of the people on the jury had their minds made up maybe before the first day of trial...And I believe the four boys that were involved the most are racist. I absolutely do..."3

The Department of Justice is now looking into Ramirez' death.4 But that's only part of what's needed. Where are the leaders in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania? Why has Governor Rendell had nothing to say? His silence is shameful.

Until our elected leaders speak up, we can expect more stories like Luis'--not just in Shenandoah, but across the country. Governor Rendell owes it to Pennsylvanians and Latinos everywhere to condemn and speak out on what's happened. Together we can demand that he does. Please click the link below to add your voice and ask your friends and family to do the same. It takes only a moment.

If Luis Ramirez's death were an isolated event it would be outrageous enough. Sadly, it's part of a growing trend of racially motivated violence against Latinos, particularly in rural communities. According to the FBI, hate crimes against Latinos rose 35% between 2003 and 2006.5 And as author David Niewert writes, the target of hate crimes goes beyond their immediate victims: "The purpose is to terrorize the target community, to drive them out, eliminate them."6

That kind of intimidation only works only if the people who are targeted remain silent, and officials in positions of power remain unaccountable. That's why we need to speak out and let folks across the country know we won't tolerate hate and violence towards our communities. It starts with demanding that the Governor of Pennsylvania make clear that anti-immigrant hate has no place in Pennsylvania. It's time for him to show leadership now.

Join us in calling for him to speak out:

Tell Senators Casey and Specter to support Judge Sotomayor.

Tell Senators Casey and Specter to support Judge Sotomayor.

President Obama has said repeatedly that he would appoint the best and the brightest to the courts. He said that he would appoint people who not only had brilliant legal minds, but who also understand how the law impacts the everyday lives of working families.

Today he has fulfilled that promise by appointing U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

Judge Sotomayor's life story is a remarkable retelling of the American Dream. She grew up poor in housing projects in the Bronx. Sotomayor is a graduate of Yale Law and served as an editor of the Yale Law Review. She was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1992 by George H.W. Bush and to the appeals court by President Clinton.

Sotomayor would bring more judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice confirmed in the past 70 years, according to President Obama.

Tell Senators Casey and Specter to support Judge Sotomayor.

Yet, despite her qualifications, the right-wing is already attacking her, using vile language denigrating her gender and ethnicity. The National Review has called her "dumb and obnoxious.' Fox News has been bashing her non-stop, featuring Karl Rove, and Republican Senators Kyl and Cornyn who have threatened to filibuster her nomination.

We belie ve that Judge Sotomayor is one of the most qualified nominees in recent history. Join us in sending a message to our U.S. Senators that we want a quick confirmation after a thorough hearing.

Michael Morrill
Keystone Progress