Amnesty International Group 22 Pasadena/Caltech News
Volume XXV Number 4, April 2017

  Thursday, April 27, 7:30-9:00 PM. Monthly 
Meeting. We meet at the Caltech Y, Tyson 
House, 505 S. Wilson Ave., Pasadena. (This is 
just south of the corner with San Pasqual. 
Signs will be posted.) We will be planning our 
activities for the coming months. Alexi will 
update us on work for Narges Mohammadi, 
our adopted prisoner of conscience. Please join 
us! Refreshments provided.
  Tuesday, May 9, 7:30-9:00 PM. Letter 
writing meeting at Caltech Athenaeum, corner 
of Hill and California in Pasadena. This 
informal gathering is a great way for 
newcomers to get acquainted with Amnesty.
  Sunday, May 21, 6:30 PM. Rights Readers 
Human Rights Book Discussion Group. This 
month we read a novel, "Driving the King" 
by Ravi Howard.

Hi everyone
This has been a busy month for Group 22 and 
other activists.

Alexi is the co-coordinator for the campaign to 
free Narges Mohammadi, our prisoner of 
conscience, in Iran.  She brought daffodils to the 
March letter writing meeting (Narges 
apparently means daffodil in Farsi) and a group 
photo was taken with birthday greeting signs 
and participants holding daffodils. This was for 
a social media action along with other AI groups 
for Narges (more about this in article below).

The march for science took place in downtown 
LA and Pasadena April 22, also Earth Day.  
Stevi, Paul, Veronica and others participated 
along with people all over the country. This was 
to refute the current administration's denial of 
climate change and threats to defund scientific 
and medical research.

Group 22 members also participated in actions 
against the pending executions of 7 men in 
Arkansas. As of today, I believe that 3 were 
executed. See the Death Penalty News below.

Con Carino, Kathy

Arkansas DP UAs          44
Other UAs                 6
Total                    50

Next Rights Readers Meeting

Sunday, May 21,  
6:30 PM

Vroman's Bookstore
695 E Colorado Blvd.

Driving the King 

 Ravi Howard

By Marc Weingarten, LA Times, January 16, 2015  

'Driving the King' a bold reimagining of civil 
rights era

In "Driving the King," Ravi Howard imagines 
what it might have been like if singer Nat King 
Cole had been a figurehead of the civil rights 
movement. Given that Cole was not a driving 
force during the civil rights era, Howard's 
choices in this fitfully moving novel are daring.

In Howard's version of the story, Nat Cole and 
his fictional driver, Nat Weary, are bound 
together by a single, wanton act of violence. 
During a Cole concert in Montgomery, Ala., the 
singer is attacked on stage by a white assailant, 
only to be rescued by Weary, who bludgeons the 
attacker with a microphone. For this act, he gets 
10 years in Kilby prison and is subjected to all 
manner of deprivation, including bearing 
witness to the daily executions that take place in 
the prison yard: "We knew the chair was hot 
when the lights blinked once, twice, or maybe 
three times if the first jolt didn't finish a man."

A decade later, Weary is released into a world 
he still recognizes as segregated, but there are 
new energies stirring things up among his 
people back home in Montgomery. Some of 
these folks, including his ex-girlfriend Mattie, 
are involved in the famous bus boycott that 
began with Rosa Parks refusing to give up her 

Howard is good at laying out the civil rights 
landscape as it was just beginning to take shape 
in the early '50s; there is much fear, uncertainty 
and trepidation mixed in with the hope that 
things will invariably change for the better.

Cole doesn't forget what Weary did for him on 
that Alabama stage and takes him on as his 
factotum. Cole then decides that he will revisit 
Montgomery to finish the show that was cut 
short a decade earlier. (In point of fact, Cole, 
who had been attacked at a show in 
Birmingham, vowed never to play the South 

Howard intercuts scenes from the day leading to 
the concert with memories from Weary's past, a 
narrative gambit that doesn't always work. 
Individual scenes, such as Weary's attempted 
reconciliation with Mattie, the girl he was to 
marry before being incarcerated, are 
heartbreaking. But the lack of momentum and 
Howard's constant resetting of time and place 
mean the novel builds toward its conclusion by 
fits and starts.

Cole too remains curiously out of focus. There 
are only a handful of scenes involving the 
singer, and they are some of the strongest in the 
book, which leaves the reader wondering why 
he isn't more present. In one such scene Weary 
takes Cole back to the prison in Montgomery 
where Weary served time for the crime that 
saved Cole's neck. Cole, a man who is well 
aware that a few good turns of luck and talent 
have spared him places such as this, secretly 
tosses out packs of cigarettes from his car to 
some of Weary's old cellmates: "When we'd 
rounded a corner, beyond sight of the road 
guards and the towers, Nat started throwing 
while his music played.  ...He was still a good 
shot, throwing menthol boxes along the prison 
road and finding the tallest clusters of 
chickweed where nobody would find what we'd 
left unless he knew where to look."

Although he is a beloved public figure, Cole 
isn't immune from the sting of Jim Crow. His 
new network TV variety show should be a 
triumph, but instead Cole scrambles for 
sponsors. At one point, Cole tapes his own 
promotional spot for the TV show out of his 
own pocket, tooling around Hollywood in an 
Alfa Romeo, because "they didn't advertise on 
U.S. television, so they'd never had a chance to 
turn him down."

The hard-won, incremental victories happening 
back in Weary's hometown have had little effect 
on Cole's career in Los Angeles; this giant talent 
remains ostracized by a Hollywood power 
structure that profits from having someone like 
Pat Boone appropriate R&B songs for white 

Considering how much license Howard takes 
with Cole's life story, the narrative is curiously 
inert, though not without its moments of grace 
and pathos. By giving Cole his due as an African 
American performer who struggled on his own 
at a time when no support structure existed to 
prop him up, Howard has done the great singer 
a solid. But the spectral nature of Cole's 
presence in "Driving the King" is ultimately an 
exercise in frustration. Nat Weary is a man out 
of time, thrust headlong into a burgeoning 
movement. Cole is a man out of the story's 
frame, out of reach and thus too inchoate to earn 
our compassion.

Weingarten's books "Here She Comes Now" and 
"Thirsty" will be published later this year.
Copyright (c) 2017, Los Angeles Times

 Ravi Howard received the Ernest J. Gaines 
Award for Literary Excellence in 2008 for the 
novel Like Trees, Walking, a fictionalized account 
of a true story, the 1981 lynching of a black 
teenager in Mobile, Alabama. Howard was a 
finalist for both the Hemingway 
Foundation/PEN Award and the Hurston-
Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction in 2008. 
He has recorded commentary for National 
Public Radio's All Things Considered, and his 
work has appeared in The New York Times, 
Massachusetts Review and Callaloo. He also 
appeared in the Ted Koppel documentary, The 
Last Lynching, on the Discovery Channel. 
Howard has received fellowships and awards 
from the National Endowment for the Arts, 
Hurston-Wright Foundation, Bread Loaf 
Writers' Conference, and the New Jersey State 
Council on the Arts. 
His television production work has appeared on 
HBO, ESPN, Fox Sports 1, and NFL Network. 
He received a 2004 Sports Emmy for his work on 
HBO's Inside the NFL.

Security with Human Rights
By Robert Adams

French human rights 'at tipping point' as state 
of emergency continues, says Amnesty 
By Lizzie Dearden: Reprinted from the UK Independent
February 23, 2017

Human rights in France are at "a tipping point" 
as the government expands police powers in the 
wake of a wave of Isis-inspired terror attacks, a 
report has warned.

Parliament has voted to extend the country's 
ongoing state of emergency five times since 130 
people were massacred by militants in Paris in 
November 2015.

It affords security services exceptional powers 
including the ability to place anyone deemed to 
be a security risk under house arrest, dissolve 
groups thought to be a threat to public order, 
carry out searches without judicial warrants and 
block any websites that "encourage" terrorism.

Amnesty International chose to unveil its annual 
world report in Paris, where the group warned 
that  human rights were being eroded.
Secretary General Salil Shetty said security 
measures approved by all French political 
parties had put the country at "a tipping 

 "It's absolutely the responsibility of the 
government to protect the people, but it has to 
be proportionate," he added, speaking out 
against "traumatising house raids...all pointing 
towards one religion".

Mr Shetty said Amnesty was very worried about 
ongoing security crackdown, which has seen 
more than 4,000 houses searched without a 
judge's order and at least 400 people handed 
assigned residence orders.

 "The world is watching France," he added.
The state of emergency is currently in place until 
15 July, after France's national elections, where 
terror and security is high on the agenda for 
mainstream candidates and the far-right 
National Front.

Bernard Cazeneuve, the Prime Minister, said the 
move was "absolutely necessary" to protect the 
country from further terror attacks.

The former interior minister said the state of 
emergency has "fully proven its effectiveness" 
with 4,194 house searches leading to 517 
suspects arrested, 434 kept in custody and 
almost 600 firearms seized, including 77 
"weapons of war" under the powers.

But Amnesty accused authorities of using 
"vague evidence" to launch operations and 
impose restrictions "disproportionately 
restricting freedom of movement and the right 
to private life". 

The UN Committee against Torture raised 
concerns regarding allegations of excessive use 
of force by police carrying out searches, while a 
group of special rapporteurs warned "excessive 
and disproportionate restrictions" were being 
imposed on fundamental human rights.

They recommended the introduction of judicial 
oversight for counter-terror measures and 
electronic surveillance, which give authorities 
the power to collect, read and store 
communications and metadata without 
authorisation or review by a judge but the call 
was ignored.

A new law was passed in June granting the 
interior minister the power to impose 
administrative controls on anyone returning 
from Syria, Iraq and other conflict zones who is 
believed to be a threat.

Hundreds of people were prosecuted for 
allegedly glorifying terrorism, often for 
comments posted on social media in possible 
freedom of speech violations.

Several other European nations including the 
UK were criticised for embedding measures 
"once viewed as exceptional" into ordinary 
criminal law.

Amnesty's report also raised concern over 
France's treatment of refugees, including more 
than 6,500 migrants and asylum-seekers evicted 
from the Calais "Jungle" in October and 
relocated to reception centres elsewhere.

By Stevi Carroll

Judicial Override in Alabama

Good news and bad news come out of Alabama. 
Early in April, Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill 
to end judges' ability to override juries' 
recommendation of life without parole with a 
sentence of death. Judges are elected in Alabama 
and many people observed an increased in these 
overrides to death sentences during election 
years. Alabama was the only state in the Union 
where judges had this power. Now though, a 
person can be sentenced to death with a jury 
vote of 10 to 12. Nonetheless, now judges will 
not use the death penalty as a voter getter in 

Rodricus Crawford

Since 1973 when the United States of America 
reinstated the death penalty, 157 people had 
been exonerated, until April 17, 2017 when 
Rodricus Crawford, an African-American, 
became the 158th exoneree.

In 2012, Mr Crawford's one-year-old son, 
Roderius Lott, died.  Mr Crawford was arrested 
and charged in the child's death. A local doctor 
said the infant had been suffocated, even though 
autopsy results showed bronchopneumonia in 
the baby's lungs and sepsis in his blood.  During 
appeal, Mr Crawford's lawyer, Cecilia Kappel, 
submitted additional evidence from experts in 
pediatric pathology, pediatric neuropathology, 
and pediatric infectious disease that the infant 
died of natural causes.

During the original trial, prosecutor Dale Cox 
removed jurors based on race, a pattern that has 
been documented in a 2015 study that found 
prosecutors struck black jurors at more than 
triple the rate of other jurors. Mr Cox is also on 
the record as saying Mr Crawford  "deserves as 
much physical suffering as it is humanly 
possible to endure before he dies." He also has 
said that the state needs to "kill more people." 
Mr Cox used Christian scripture to support his 
claims about Mr Crawford.  This prompted 
more than 100 religious leaders (ministers, 
bishops, rabbis, priests, other ordained clergy 
and religious leaders) to sign an amicus (friend 
of the court) brief objecting to what they called 
Mr Cox's misuse of the Bible to argue for 
putting Mr Crawford to death. Caddo Parish, 
where Mr Cox is prosecutor, is responsible for 
three-fourths of the death row convictions in 
Louisiana in the last five years.

Enjoy your freedom Rodricus Crawford and 
may you now grieve the death of your infant 

Arkansas and their State Sanctioned Conveyor 
Belt to Executions

The prison system in Arkansas has a problem: 
the drugs used for lethal injection. The State's 
supply of midazolam will expire the end of 
April.  What did the State decide the solution to 
this problem was? Governor Asa Hutchinson 
decided that before the end of April employees 
at the Arkansas Department of Correction in 
Varner, Arkansas, would execute eight men in 
the course of eleven days.

One case, that of Bruce Ward, led to a stay.  Mr 
Ward has suffered from life-long schizophrenia 
that rendered him incompetent for execution. 
He has no rational understanding of the 
punishment nor does he understand the reason 
he would be executed. Due to his delusions, he 
believes he will walk out of prison a free man 
and be rewarded with great acclaim and riches. 
He has spent nearly 30 years in solitary 

The case of Ledell Lee worked its way to US 
Supreme Court where the Court voted 5-4 to 
allow his execution.  This was the first vote of 
the newly sworn in justice, Neil Gorsuch, who 
voted with the majority. James Clark who is the 
Senior Death Penalty Campaigner at Amnesty 
International USA posted this on Facebook 
following Mr Lee's death at 11:56 PM: 

Gorsuch's first vote is to allow the execution of a 
black man accused of murdering a white woman 
with untested DNA evidence, intellectual 
disability, horrific representation from 
intoxicated defense counsel, and a judge 
sleeping with the prosecutor, using a drug 
acquired illegally known to cause botched 
Mr Lee's requested last meal was Holy 

People arriving at the Arkansas Department of 
Correction in Varner, Arkansas, are met with a 
sign that says

This was the first execution in Arkansas since 
2005. For many of the correctional officers, this 
was their first execution.

John Grisham

John Grisham is an author who lives in 
Arkansas. April 10, 2017, an article by him 
appears in USA Today in which he takes to task 
the drugs used in executions, especially 
midazolam. He also points out that the 
condemned men have court appointed lawyers, 
some of whom they share. Thus it is impossible 
for the lawyers to provide the comprehensive 
representation in the limited time they have 
with their clients. He says, "It is almost 
impossible to imagine what the men and women 
who are tasked with carrying out executions go 
through, particularly when confronted with one 
that does not go as planned. Two dozen former 
corrections officials and administrators recently 
sent a letter to Hutchinson asking him to 
reconsider the schedule, out of concern for the 
'extraordinary and unnecessary stress and 
trauma' to the members of the execution 
team. Managing seven or eight rapid executions 
will be a brutalizing experience, even if there are 
no surprises."

As we know, at least one of the men has been 
put to death. Mr Grisham ends his article 
saying, "Even if Arkansas pulls it off, justice will 

A novel by Mr Grisham that may interest you is 
called "The Confession".

Recent Exonerations

Rodricus Crawford 
State: LA Date of Exoneration: 4/17/2017
In 2013, Rodricus Crawford was sentenced to 
death for smothering his one-year-old son to 
death in Caddo Parish, Louisiana. Crawford was 
granted a new trial and the charges were 
ultimately dismissed based on evidence that the 
prosecution engaged in discriminatory jury 
selection and the baby died of sepsis.

Eric Wilson 
State: VA Date of Exoneration: 3/21/2017
Eric Wilson was one of four U.S. Navy sailors 
(known as the Norfolk Four) convicted of a 1997 
rape and murder in Norfolk, Virginia. He was 
exonerated in 2017 after the real killer confessed 
and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe granted an 
absolute pardon.

Andrew Wilson 
State: CA Date of Exoneration: 3/15/2017
In 1986, Andrew Wilson was sentenced to life in 
prison without parole for 
a murder in Los Angeles, California. He was 
exonerated in 2017 by evidence that witnesses 
lied at trial and that prosecutors and police 
concealed evidence pointing to another suspect.
(source: The National Registry of Exonerations

Stays of Execution

12	Raymond Tibbetts 	OH (rescheduled)
12	Paul Storey		TX
17	Bruce Ward		AR
17	Don Davis		AR
20	Stacey Johnson	AR
20	Ledell Lee		AR  (executed)
24	Jack Jones		AR  (executed)
24	Marcel Williams	AR  (executed)
25	Ivan Teleguz		VA (sentence 
commuted to life without parole)
27	Jason McGehee	AR


20	Ledell Lee	AR
	Lethal Injection 3-drug (midazolam)

Narges Mohammadi
By Alexi Daher

The daffodils photo action [for Narges's 
birthday] was initiated by AI Denmark and 
supported by AI EU groups. I coordinated the 
action in the US. So, on April 21st, a stream of 
gorgeous photos were circulating on Twitter 
from all over the world, and our group photo 
was one of them. We were heavily supported by 
the Iranian community.

Groups that participated on this action were 
Group 22 (Caltech, Pasadena), Group 317 (In-
dianapolis), Group 151 (Boston), Group 47 
(Portland), Group 139 (Wisconsin), and the 
Group from Nashville.

Our group will continue to work with local 
groups on Narges future actions. Group 317 is 
also working on the Bahai case in Iran and had 
asked for support. I can bring a copy of the 
petition to the next letter writing meeting.


Amnesty International Group 22
The Caltech Y
Mail Code C1-128
Pasadena, CA 91125

Amnesty International's mission is to undertake research and action focused on 
preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, 
freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the 
context of its work to promote all human rights.