[Marxism] Fw: Eddie Hatcher still sounding the alarm
causecollector at msn.com
Fri Nov 25 12:22:42 MST 2005
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From: "Break Chains" <breakthechains02 at yahoo.com>
To: "Break The Chains Public List" <break_the_chains at yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2005 5:50 PM
Subject: 7 Stars Eddie Hatcher still sounding the alarm
Asheville Global Report
Eddie Hatcher still sounding the alarm
Asheville, North Carolina, Oct. 11, 2005 (AGR)- One wouldn't think it would
be too easy for a formerly high-profile political prisoner to become lost
to the system. After 18 years of incarceration, however, and with the
consideration of rural, Native American, HIV-positive status and waning
health, one's presence in the international human rights arena may begin to
subside if it isn't continually cultivated.
Since 2000, AGR has covered the case of and given updates on Eddie
Hatcher, a Tuscarora Indian activist, who has spent a lifetime battling
injustice and corruption in Robeson County, NC. He is currently serving a
life sentence and is in seriously deteriorated health from an illness
which, although he is HIV positive, is as yet undiagnosed.
The story of Eddie Hatcher starts in Robeson County where he had spent
many years working around the rights of the poor, African Americans and
Native Americans, and calling attention to local corruption. In 1987
Hatcher had become an active figure in Concerned Citizens for Better
Government, a group formed in response to the death of a local Native
American believed to have been caused by the Robeson sheriff's son.
Over a three-year span the county had become plagued by 27 unsolved
murders of minorities, most killed execution style, the majority
uninvestigated. The rural farming community had also become mired in
cocaine traffic and came to be called the "Little Miami" of the South East.
In 1987 the county was identified as a major cocaine center by Assistant US
Attorney William Webb involving "tens of millions of dollars" and having as
"pure cocaine in Robeson as you can find in Miami and for as cheap a
Hatcher had begun, independently and with help from within the Florida
State Attorney's office and a local FBI informant, to uncover evidence of
county officials' collusion in drug trafficking. Having heard of warrants
for his arrest and upon discovery of a local police stakeout of his house
Hatcher came to believe that he was being targeted. He conveyed his
findings to various government agencies, to little response.
In a last ditch effort to call attention to injustices by officials, he
and fellow Tuscarora activist Timothy Jacobs occupied the offices of the
The takeover, on Feb. 1, 1988, was according to Hatcher, "a violent
action as close to non-violence as I could get." They seized the offices
with a shotgun and pistol, holding 14 staff members hostage. All hostages
would be released, the two pledged, if then-Governor Jim Martin would
commit to an independent investigation of allegations of corrupt county
government, unsolved murders and drug trafficking in the area.
After 10 ½ hours of negotiation, the governor agreed to the demands.
Hatcher was held on hostage-taking charges and went to trial in October
1988. He was originally represented by, among others, William Kunstler of
the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, but the judge withheld
his right to representation. The federal jury, however, acquitted him,
stating that Hatcher was "justified in his act of desperation." He was
reindicted on the same charges by the state, not allowed representation by
anyone other than a public defender, and was found guilty and sentenced to
Some heavy handed dealings came to light after he was imprisoned.
According to a sworn affidavit by his defense committee, three of the
attorneys that had been associated with his case were either disbarred or
heavily fined. In the period leading up to his trial - February to August
1988 - at least eight individuals who had provided corruption-related
information to Hatcher's attorneys were killed, their deaths unsolved.
Hatcher served five years for the hostage takeover. Shortly after he
was imprisoned, another prisoner stabbed him four times with an icepick.
The man claimed he was contracted by prison officials to "take care of
Hatcher" in exchange for privileges.
But the high-profile nature of his case gave him support as much as it
made him a target. Two years in a row the UN deemed him a political
prisoner, a letter written by him was shown on Soviet TV, Mumia Abu-Jamal
was advocating for him, and his actions were seen by some as congruent with
Leonard Peltier's. He had contracted HIV in prison, however, and after much
work by his mother, a veteran prisoner advocate, Hatcher was paroled in
Upon release, Hatcher continued with his activism in Robeson. In
October 1999 Hatcher was found guilty in the non-fatal shooting of a man he
claimed had robbed his home. Hatcher does not deny that he shot the man,
but says he was acting in self-defense.
Then, a murder charge was brought against him for the drive-by shooting
death in May 1999 of Brian McMillan. This happened, according to the
District Attorney, 12 days after Hatcher shot the man he claimed robbed
him. In order for Hatcher to have committed the crime, he would have had to
fire two weapons simultaneously while driving a five-speed truck down a
country road at night, with a disabled left arm. The forensics expert that
testified said there was "no way possible" the shots were fired from a
moving vehicle, as the prosecution claimed. Forensic reports show that
bullets found in McMillan's body don't match the rifle Hatcher carried in
his truck. There were two types of bullets found on the crime scene.
There was also a girl shot and injured at the scene, which authorities
claim happened at the same time. Hatcher was not charged with shooting her,
although the prosecution maintained that he acted alone.
Hatcher was found guilty in 2001 of first-degree murder and given a life
Human rights organizations claim that Hatcher was framed by local
officials who opposed his work for social justice. "The state's case is a
pile of nonsense cobbled together in a desperate attempt to try to show
that Eddie Hatcher committed this crime. There is no credible evidence
against Hatcher," Maurice Geiger, of the Rural Justice Center, said at the
time of the conviction.
He is representing himself in the appeals process, but is not allowed
his legal materials, which effectively thwarts efforts at building an
appeal. Maurice Geiger, an attorney with the Rural Justice Center,
repeatedly tried to visit Hatcher in 2001, but was refused. An experienced
human rights observer, Geiger compared Robeson County to an undeveloped
country and said it was easier to visit prisons in Haiti than there.
Hatcher is not allowed to be interviewed by phone or in person. His
sister, Ginger Ammerman, holds his legal power of attorney, but is refused
access to his medical records.
Most importantly, since 2002, Hatcher's health has taken a serious
downward turn which, according to his doctors is not HIV related, but is a
chronic illness, which they are not able to diagnose. He has experienced a
gradual but massive searing of his colon which a specialist said "looked
like it had been torched from beginning to end." This has made absorption
of nutrients impossible, which has caused severe weight loss. Hatcher is
given 60-70 pills a day, including HIV cocktails, Prednisone (a powerful
steroid), and Belladonna (a poisonous hallucinogen if not taken in small
amounts). At Marion, if he refused to take any medications he was put in
solitary confinement. Eddie believes that it is the drugs which are making
him sick. When AGR spoke with Michael Harney of WNC AIDS Project he said:
"HIV cocktails are toxic to one's body - they're like chemotherapy. There
can also be malabsorption of nutrients associated with AIDS." Eddie's
doctor at the time,
Asheville-based Polly Ross, was bound by legal confidence from speaking
with AGR about his case.
Currently Hatcher is at Alexander Correctional Institution, which was
recently cited for employing Abu Graib-like techniques that were not
approved by the Department of Corrections. Prisoners wrote letters to
newspapers describing the use of dog collars and leashes, and being made to
kneel to have them attached. After the Charlotte Observer inquired to
officials about the claims, Alexander was ordered to stop the practices
until they could be tested by a security committee. When AGR spoke with
Reggie Wiesner, the administrator of Alexander, he said: "It's a tether
that attaches to a chain around the waist." He denied that prisoners were
made to kneel, and would not comment on the efficacy of either. Previously,
however, he defended the practice, according to the Observer: "Once in full
restraint is adding a tether more demeaning? ... It's not like they are
paraded in front of other people." He said it was a useful tool and hopes
to get permission to use it again.
Ammerman, referring to Hathcher's treatment, said that "It's just
because he speaks out about conditions in prison that they treat him
harshly. Every time he speaks out about something there are repercussions."
Sometimes there are reverberations, too.
Just last year the Sheriff of Robeson County, Glen Maynor, was arrested
for the very things Hatcher had been trying to have investigated. When
Maynor's house was searched, federal agents discovered more than $1 million
concealed throughout his home.
Keeping in mind the effects of persistence it's worth noting that
Hatcher's mother was the essential cohesive force behind his defense
campaign. She passed away in 2002 - with her went much of the drive to keep
his case in the public consciousness, and to keep his network of supporters
connected. At this point Eddie is very isolated, with his sister carrying
much of the load of his defense. Also, the marginalization of prisoners
with HIV is very real. In addition to social stigma, the debilitating
effects of disease and of health care without the check of accountability
makes for further isolation from a potential community of supporters. But
whether people are still listening or not, it seems guaranteed that Eddie
Hatcher will continue to speak out and make a ruckus.
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