Saturday, March 31, 2007

BC Courts: Mushy Sentences Reserved for Financial Elite

Sitting in Alouette Prison for Women, on a 10 month contempt of court sentence, am I surprised when associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm gave Gordon Campbell's in-law a walk on serious fraud charge?
Not at all.
I've been before Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm myself. Curt, rude, dripping contempt for a citizen's claim to the right to protect public forests, and granting legal rights only to the financial powerful, I know Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm.
Remember the raids on the Legislature? And the abrupt resignations of 3 of Campbell's most powerful cabinet ministers afterward?
Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm is still sitting on all the information surrounding that raid and the cabinet ministers involved.
His main job is obviously to protect the wrong-doing of the powerful. I think we must all face the fact that we have a corrupt justice system in BC.
How else to explain the mushy sentences handed down to the financial elite and crimes against persons. Our courts absorb these crimes effortlessly.
It's when a citizen raises their hands against corporate interests that those hands will be immediately amputated.
What to do about a corrupt judicial system?
Let's think about it. Many heads are better than a few, especially if one is a political prisoner.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Greetings from

Alouette Correctional Center for Women
Box 1000,
Maple Ridge, BC,
V2X 3K4

You can write to Betty at the address given above.
To arrange a visit, call (604) 476.2660 Fridays 10-12 AM

Back in the good ole' days at Burnaby's Correctional Centre for Women, before the Campbell government closed it to save money, there was an honest effort to rehabilitate women offenders. Even though a dichotomy existed then, between punishing women offenders and trying to rehabilitate them.
Gordon Campbell solved this dilemma in a shocking way. Gordon Campbell is about turning public money into private money and decided there were private money profits to be reaped from prison services to women offenders at taxpayers' expense of course! Further, to take full advantage of public money in order to feed the private sector, the prisoner's pay was cut.
Most women here now make between $2.50 and $3.00 A DAY and are charged exorbitant prices for everything. e.g. local phone calls. At a phone booth local calls cost a quarter. From behind these gates a local phone call from Alouette costs 90 cents. Why?
I wish the Solicitor General of BC, the Honourable John Les, who is in charge of BC prisons, would explain, and maybe caring citizens on the outside could ask him.

Listen to "Betty song" by Edith Wallace, accompanied by Michael Creber on piano.
It stole the hearts of the audience during the "Standing up for Nature" Benefit Concert.
To visit Betty:
First, you must be on the visitor's list with your date of birth, address, and phone number, sent to the address given above.
Visiting hours are Sunday 1:00 - 3:00 pm.
To book a visit call (604) 476.2660 Friday morning 10-12:00
Arrive 15 minutes early and be prepared to check all your belongings: bag, wallet, keys, etc. in a locker before you enter.
You must have 2 pieces of ID (no photocopies):
One must be driver license, passport, citizenship certificate, or status card, and the other a secondary item, like a carecard, social insurance card, birth certificate.

Driving Directions:
Take Highway 1 east to Exit 44 United Blvd.
Follow 7B East to Mary Hill Bypass and drive about 6km
Turn RIGHT at Lougheed Highway 7 and drive about 10 km
Turn LEFT at 227th St, and drive a few blocks
Turn RIGHT at Dewdney Trunk Road and drive several km
Turn LEFT at 248th St. Follow 248th to next stop sign.
Turn Right, Right again, and follow road to the end.
Public Transit:
Take the West Coast Express (Waterfront) to Port Haney.
Allouette Correctional Center is about $10 taxi trip from the station.

Cash for Betty:
Betty needs cash for making phone calls $.90 per local call, and extra supplies like canned salmon purchased at the store to supplement the poor diet provided in jail.

If you wish to deposit cash into Betty's account, you can make a deposit to her account prior to a Sunday visit, or drop it off in person weekdays between 8:30 am - 3 pm.
You can mail a money order made out to Betty Krawczyk at the mailing address.

For more information contact
Monika Sheardown
(604) 733.4884

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The air outside is pure and sweet


Everything else here is bitter and costly which happens when prison services are privatized. Gordon Campbell contracts out prison labour to private companies. There is a private lumber mill here using prison labour as well as a food service company, making profit from skimping on prisoner's
meals. More details later. Right now my thoughts are still lingering over Harriet Nahanee's death.
Harriet and I, both great-grandmothers, knew why we were at Eagleridge. Harriet was protesting the negotiating away of unceded Squamish land by the band's chief and council. I was protesting the needless destruction of an irreplaceable eco-system by my own chief and council: Gordon Campbell in Cabinet and Wally Oppal, but Harriet's struggle was multi-faceted.
Harriet's struggle was not only with her own chiefs but with my chiefs too: with the West Vancouver police, with Kiewitt & Sons, with arrest by injunctions, with a history of residential school barbarism. And finally, with the racism of Madam Justice Brown's court that refused to allow Harriet to even read the proclamation of 1763 as defense, and instead sent Harriet to Surrey Pre-trial.
May the Grandmothers and Grandfathers take good care of Harriet Nahanee and treat her tenderly.
Betty Krawczyk
Dictated from Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge, BC.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

This account of the events at Betty's sentencing by Ingmar Lee appeared on Counterpunch on March 12th 2007

I arrived at 800 Smithe St, Vancouver, -the Supreme Court of BC at the designated hour of 8am on Monday, March 6th/2007. I was there to support the redoubtable Betty Krawczyk, the 78-year-old, ancient forest protection activist as she was sentenced to jail, once again, for standing firm against the wanton destruction of rare, ancient forest ecosystems. I didn't see any other treehuggers around at first, but in preparation for the events ahead, I took a few pictures of the entrance to the hallowed halls of British Columbia justice. Immediately I pulled out my camera, and a Sheriff came charging out of the building and told me that if I was intending on coming in, I would have to check it in at the front desk. Having crashed at a friends place the previous night, I had a small suitcase with me and a satchel containing some blankets, random bicycle tools, books etc. which would also have to be checked in. By 8:30 am, a crowd had begun to shape up which became identifiable as supporters of Betty. Soon there were about 50 of us. At that point someone came out and said that Betty would be arriving at the other end of the courthouse, so we should walk to the other end of the block, which we did. When we arrived at the other end, we encountered a much larger crowd which had assembled there. There were a lot of cameras and a large media presence and a good deal of excitement as the crowd anticipated the arrival of Betty. She then pulled up in a taxi and strode up the stairs to give her last interview to the media. As she was speaking, someone came by who warned me that everyone who wished to be in the courtroom was being searched, so we'd better get in the queue. Things were happening pretty fast. I got into the queue just ahead of Adriane Carr, Paul George and Joy Foy, (-the only three of BC's prominent environmentalists who bothered to attend) and as we stood in line to get searched, I saw Betty walk by, alone and totally focussed, heading into the courtroom through the same entrance as us. She passed ahead of the crowd, and then disappeared down the steps into the "Bunker" courtroom, which was specially built in the basement of the building for the Air India terrorist trials. Security was taking its time, but somehow, there was an expectation that in spite of the strict security requirement, that the trial would at least wait for Betty's supporters to get searched and then to fill the courtroom. The three security guards were labouriously searching through peoples pockets, confiscating certain items which could not be allowed in the court, ie: machine-guns, knives, cameras, food, cream pies or tape-recorders. Luckily, the search wasn't quite as comprehensive as expected (they didn't find the pot which I had stupidly forgotten about in my pocket) and after turning over my suitcase to the protection of the court, I was allowed to descend into the Bunker. As soon as I got in, I saw that about 40 people had preceded me, and the gallery was about 30% full. I saw a woman speaking from the front of the room and I could see Betty sitting there all alone below. As I took my front-row seat, I realized that this was "Madame Justice" Brown herself already at work, reading out her sentence. They had already begun, but most of the courtroom was still empty, while the queue crawled slowly through the extremely zealous security. Actually, I must have been one of the last who got in, -Adriane, Paul and Joe didn't make it. Brown's statement was a damnable, rotten piece of work, shockingly rude and nasty, and blatantly vindictive towards Betty. I have been endeavouring to get a transcript, as this sentence-statement by the Judge so amply clarifies the depths to which the quality and integrity of our legal system has plummeted. Brown is clearly furious with, and despises Betty, perhaps moreso since it's become clear that she intentionally sentenced Harriet Nahanie to death, a hideous aspect of this sorry saga which Betty has been emphasizing. Brown's statement, and whatever she said at Harriet's sentencing epitomizes just how shameless, grovelling, evil and corrupt our legal system really is. Anyone who knows Betty Krawczyk, anyone who has met her, for anyone who has ever given her the time of day knows that Betty is no criminal. Betty is a gentle, ferocious pacifist, feminist mentor, an icon of determination, courage, honesty and human decency, a tireless and relentless activist for the protection of our planet. In short, Betty is a hero, and she is one who fame and reputation as such is increasing by the day. I was utterly disgusted in that courtroom and I joined into the chorus of jeers that rang out as soon as the cowardly Judge read out her sentence. "I sentence you to 10 months" she said, and then repeated it. It was a petulant slap in the face from a pompous, remorseless bureaucrat who had just three weeks ago issued a death sentence to another Eagleridge Bluffs activist, the 71-year-old Pacheena Elder, Harriet Nahanie for "disrespecting the court." Brown sentenced Ms.Nahanie to 14 days in the Surrey Pre-Trial Remand Centre, and was warned explicitly that Harriet was in a very frail state of health. After serving 9 days, Ms. Nahanni was removed from the "Hell Hole" and rushed to hospital, where she died a few days later. Now Betty, a 78 year-old great-grandmother languishes in exactly the same "Hell Hole." It's not as though there was no precedent by which the corporate-lackey Brown-noser Brown could have used discretion in dealing with Betty, Harriet, or any of the Eagleridge Heights protesters. She had the power to simply refuse to grant the American developer Kiewit their injunction and insist that the authorities arrest Betty using the existing legal framework. Several years ago the late Judge Quijano refused to issue the Gordon Campbell government a court injunction to remove protesters from their proposed 150-slot Winnebozo parking lot at Cathedral Grove. The Judge remarked that should the government wish to remove the protesters, it had all the means available to do so using existing laws. This is exactly what Betty is after, -she want to be treated just like any other criminal by getting arrested and then making her case before the court. She simply wants a fair trial. That she cant get one makes it clear just how vulnerable the government is when it comes to going to court over its forest policies. Their problem is that when protesters are arrested under the existing framework of the law, they get to make their case before a judge and a jury, whereas there is no possible court challenge for those who defy a court injunction. The Campbell government was not able to get its court injunction at Cathedral Grove so the blockade remained in place, in spite its bellicose and belligerent embarrassment for them for two years, -until they capitulated and gave up on their parking lot. The government was stymied because its logging policies are indefensible and cannot stand up to any kind of court challenge. Once Betty had been sentenced and had left the courtroom, we climbed the stairs out of the Bunker, gathered up our belongings from the security and emerged to find the other 100 supporters who had been barred entry to the courtroom angrily describing their experience to the cameras. People were very angry and upset and there were a lot of tears. There were sustained, powerful 10-minute continuous Shame! Shame, Shame!!! chanting sessions which filled the whole courthouse right up to its soaring glass ceilings. And a large contingent of First Nations women struck up their drums and sang a very beautiful dirge which went on and on, and got everyone singing. After about an hour, it seemed like things were wrapping up, but when Jeremy Williams got up on a wall and suggested that we should stage an impromptu march around the court building, everyone joined in. But when we got around to the opposite side, everyone suddenly turned spontaneously and filed strait into the doors at 800 Smithe. We all marched right into the building and when the Sheriffs set up a cordon at the secondary doors into the inner sanctum, 18 of us sat down and blocked the doors. About 60 people milled around the rotunda. They were only allowing lawyers through the cordon, but as it turned out later, we shut down the Supreme Court of BC for 3 hours. All the media was crowding the windows as cameras are not permitted in the building. Eventually, a Sheriff came rushing down and announced that he was serving us with a court injunction, and that we had 60 seconds to get out of the way. At this time a dozen RCMP officers arrived to make the arrests. At this point, having seen the direct consequences of defying a court injunction, most of us got up and moved, but it turns out that 2 people did get arrested. We didn't have to move far though, because Cameron Ward interpreted the injunction as specifying that while the protesters could not block access to the court or interfere with the process of justice, that didn't preclude milling around and loitering in the lobby. Treehuggers loitering can be pretty annoying, apparently. Gradually, over a period of another 45 minutes, the Police moved up their cordon and pushed us out of the building. Then the demonstration continued for another hour outside the door, and during this time the Police refused entry to everyone, including the lawyers. We chanted and the First Nations drummers sang and danced. This spontaneous demonstration kept getting new life breathed into it and every time I got ready to leave, something else happened. For the final event, I was watching as a taxi pulled up and saw the media rush over. Suddenly Wally Oppal himself, -Betty's nemesis, emerged from the car and the media immediately swarmed him, eager to hear about his prostate issue. He obviously does not have a clue about the internationally-recognized case of Betty Krawczyk, and the ill-repute her treatment has brought down on the BC legal system. Immediately the Oppal was recognized, sustained shouts of Shame! Shame drowned him out and finally drove him back into his taxi and he was taken away. Here are a few words from Betty's blog regarding Oppal: "...Recently Mr. Wally Opal on CKNW said that anybody in BC facing prison time could have a jury trial. But when I called into the program and advised Mr. Opal that I was facing prison time on a Criminal Contempt of Court charge and wasn't allowed a jury trial he said well, in my case the judge was quite right not to allow me a jury trial; as I was arrested under civil contempt and that civil contempt did not warrant a jury trial. And yet here I am, once again convicted of Contempt of Court, not Civil, but Criminal, minus a jury trial, or the protections of the Criminal Code. My Lady, the very expediency of this method of depriving citizens of their lawful rights when they seek to protect the environment from corporate predators is quite remarkable. I protest this, My Lady, and will protest it with my dying breath..." I encourage people to take the opportunity to visit Betty. If you have got any faith at all that justice is possible in British Columbia, or that environmental issues can be forwarded through due process through our institutionally corrupt government and legal mechanisms, then you need to see the reality of our deeply rotten system. You'll get that direct experience and see for yourself by visiting dear Betty in jail.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

It will be a bit dicey, keeping you all informed of life behind bars, and to keep me equally informed of your activities on the outside. But we can do it !
Your responses to our protest both in and out of court have been stunning. It is an expression of a great upsurge of inter-tribal love for and of the earth.
I will be appealing my conviction and sentence, and also thinking of Harriet Nahanee and how to publicize her appeal.
We are rocking ! Yes, we are !
My love,
Betty K

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Before I am sentenced to prison this morning I have one statement to make:
Our BC courts obsession with injunctions combined with Gordon Campbell’s obsession with the Olympics has killed Eagleridge Bluffs and has killed Harriet Nahanee. I hold that Mr. Justice Grist, The West Vancouver Police Department, Madam Justice Brown, Wally Oppal, and Gordon Campbell are all equally responsible for the death of Eagleridge Bluffs and for the death of Harriet Nahanee and that these officials, in their capacity as servants of the people have not fulfilled their duties and should be removed from office.
Betty Krawczyk

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The riot police. In full riot gear. I saw them in Louisiana during the civil rights struggles, in the streets of Washington, DC in anti-war protests, on TV as alarmed Canadians protested the trading away of Canadian sovereignty for messes of porridge and yes, as the riot police turned up again and again in Indian struggles for sovereignty. But in the poorest streets of Vancouver against homeless and defenseless people? Give me a break.
And yet that’s exactly what I saw last night on film in Conrad Schmidt’s documentary THE THREE RING CIRCUS. This time riot police were called out to evict homeless people from an empty building slated to be up scaled for the Olympics. Why the riot squads? Well, the Olympics seem to be a killer like no other and all killers understand the use of violence. After all, The Olympics killed Eagleridge Bluffs, they killed Harriet Nahanee, and they are in the process of accelerating the exposure deaths of countless of sick and homeless people. So riot squads are necessary to stop protests against the killings.
Go see Schmidt’s film THE THREE CIRCUS. And come witness Madam Justice Brown sentence me to prison on Monday morning at 9:00 am (rally outside at 8:30 am at 800 Smithe St. entrance of Criminal Court) for my part in trying to help stop the killing of Eagleridge Bluffs and Harriet Nahanee. The Crown is asking for 9 to 15 months and I need your support. My love, Betty Krawczyk