‘1619 Project’: Progressive educators oppose reactionary legislation

first_imgBy Andy TerhuneRight-wing lawmakers in 15 states are passing legislation that will require public school teachers to teach a nationalist narrative of history, which ignores the genocidal, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant and oppressive history of the United States. Specific legislation differs among the 15 states, but they all include a shared goal of banning the application of “critical race theory” in social studies instruction.This means teachers in Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia will be restricted from — and in some cases fined for — teaching about the role of racism in shaping the legal system and creating economic disparity and achievement gaps. And they won’t be able to explain how inequities that still exist today are rooted in a white-supremacist past.Racists oppose 1619 ProjectOne of the curriculum resources that conservative lawmakers oppose is The 1619 Project. Its introduction states: “The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” (project1619.org)Traditional education in the U.S. teaches students that the country’s birth occurred in 1776. This narrative ignores its formation as a settler colony, based on stolen land and genocide of Indigenous peoples and the 157 years of chattel slavery that built the colonies before 1776. It ignores the role of the slave-trade and the character of settler-colonialism in political and economic independence from Britain. Republican lawmakers are trying to ban the 1619 project and multiple other critical teaching resources like it, in an attempt to prohibit an honest, authentic teaching of U.S. history.Many of these lawmakers not only want to restrict discussions about critical race theory, but they are attempting to limit education about the role of sexism, heterosexism, xenophobia and class oppression throughout U.S. history. In Missouri, the proposed legislation would ban public school teachers from using any resources from the 1619 Project, Learning for Justice Curriculum of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Black Lives Matter at School, Teaching for Change and the Zinn Education Project.If successful, teachers in these states would be forced to teach with whitewashed history textbooks that erase the struggles and contributions of oppressed peoples throughout this country’s history. Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma and Tennessee recently passed legislation that severely limits the ways teachers are allowed to discuss racism, sexism, homophobia, immigration, classism and other issues which right-wing legislators aim to suppress.Teaching the real history of the U.S.Another collection of teaching resources that is at risk in these states is the Zinn Education Project, which was created with the belief that “through taking a more engaging and more honest look at the past, we can help equip students — and all of us — with the analytical tools to make sense of and improve the world today.”  Their website contains a vast amount of free downloadable lesson plans and articles, which “emphasize the role of working people, women, people of color and organized social movements in shaping history.” (zinnedproject.org)In response to the lawmakers working to ban their educational resources, the Zinn Education Project launched a pledge for educators to sign, saying that whether the reactionary legislation is passed or not, they refuse to lie to students and will continue to teach them the truth about U.S. history.The pledge states: “We the undersigned educators will not be bullied. We will continue our commitment to develop critical thinking that supports students to better understand problems in our society and to develop collective solutions to those problems. We are for truth-telling and uplifting the power of organizing and solidarity that move us toward a more just society.”Also, the Zinn Education Project and Black Lives Matter at School are attempting to raise public awareness about the harm the proposed legislation will cause, by promoting countrywide gatherings hosted by Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change.These events will take place June 12 at locations that “symbolize or reflect history that teachers would be required to lie about or omit if these bills become law.” Public awareness about this issue is currently slim, so those interested are encouraged to choose a significant location and organize a rally, together with community members and local unions.Laws like those passed in Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma and Tennessee require, either through commission or omission, students to be taught a reactionary view of history, full of falsehoods and backward ideas. Every student deserves a responsible education rooted in truth and respect for humanity.Even the most gruesome, repulsive and controversial historical events can be analyzed by youth, if done with a responsible use of dialogue, reflection and communication. Educators, who are dedicated to teaching U.S. history in ways that are authentic about the roles all forms of bigotry and oppression have affected the country’s development, are asking those who agree with them to show solidarity with teachers who are being denied the right to teach their students the truth.Pulitzer Prize-winner Nikole Hannah-Jones was recently denied tenure by the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees. Conservative board members voiced opposition to The 1619 Project, which she oversaw. It exposes the truth about the history of slavery in the U.S. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

TN Caste Killing Case : Lapses In Investigation Helped Acquittal Of Prime Accused Chinnasamy

first_imgTop StoriesTN Caste Killing Case : Lapses In Investigation Helped Acquittal Of Prime Accused Chinnasamy Manu Sebastian23 Jun 2020 1:10 AMShare This – xThe Madras High Court’ judgment setting aside the conviction of Chinnasamy in the 2016 Udumalpet caste killing case has caused widespread dismay and anger. The Sessions Court in Thiruppur had sentenced him to death in 2018, on the finding that he was the key conspirator behind the daylight murder of his daughter Kowsalya’s husband Shankar, a Dalit man. The gruesome murder, in full public…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginThe Madras High Court’ judgment setting aside the conviction of Chinnasamy in the 2016 Udumalpet caste killing case has caused widespread dismay and anger. The Sessions Court in Thiruppur had sentenced him to death in 2018, on the finding that he was the key conspirator behind the daylight murder of his daughter Kowsalya’s husband Shankar, a Dalit man. The gruesome murder, in full public view, was allegedly carried out with the motive of protecting ‘caste pride’. Chinnasamy was deeply aggrieved that his daughter had married a low-caste man against the wishes of the family.In HC, a division bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and M Nirmal Kumar held that the “the prosecution is unable to prove the charge of conspiracy (against Chinnasamy) beyond any reasonable doubt”. The prosecution had projected the following circumstances to prove conspiracy by the main accused :Previous complaint given by Kowsalya and Shankar regarding the threat they faced from Chinnasamy.Mobile phone conversations between Chinnasway and two of the accused Mathan & Micheal and Manikandan.Withdrawal of money by Chinnaswamy from the joint account maintained along with his wife, and payment of the same to one of the hirelings.Meetings between Chinnasamy and the assailants at two locations – Children’s Park and Rope Junction at Palani – before the crime.Stay at a lodge arranged by Chinnasamy for two of the assialants – Kalithamilvaanam and Manikandan.As regards the first circumstance, the court noted that the complaints given in July, 2015, was closed by the police after recording the statement of Shankar that Kowsalya will be taken care of in his family. The Court also referred to a petition given by Kowsalya urging them not to take further action against her parents.As regards phone calls, the Court accepted the evidence of Call Detail Records that Chinnasamy had contacts with two of the accused between February 6, 2016 and March 6, 2016 (The crime took place on March 13, 2016). But, this by itself was not sufficient to prove conspiracy, the HC held.To prove that the Chinnasamy had met the assailants, the prosecution had cited two eyewitnesses – Kalidas (PW21) and Anbazhagan (PW22). Kalidas, an auto driver, told the Court that about 20 days prior to the date of crime, he saw Chinnasamy talking to four persons, including two assailants, at Children’s Park Palani. The witness added that he overheard Chinnaswamy talking in an agitated manner about his daughter’s marriage with Shankar.Anabazhagan told that on the previous day of the crime, he saw Chinnasamy with five assailants at Rope Junction, “in a fit of rage”.The Court rejected their testimonies on the main ground that both the witnesses had identified the assailants for the first time in the Court. The Court noted that though the witnesses had no prior acquaintance with the assailants, no Test Identification Parade was held.”The testimonies of the said witnesses as to the seeing of A1 in the company of some of the assailants is highly doubtful. It is also to be noted at this juncture that except A1, they do not have any acquaintance with the other accused and no Test Identification Parade was conducted and the identification for the first time was made in the Court and as such, this Court is not inclined to believe the said testimonies as regards the charge of conspiracy”, the Court observed in this regard.While it is true that identification of accused for the first time by the witness in Court is admissible, it is always safe and prudent to hold a Test Identification Parade(TIP) when the accused persons are not known to witnesses before. The SC has observed in a case that “Ordinarily, identification of an accused for the first time in court by a witness should not be relied upon, the same being from its very nature, inherently of a weak character, unless it is corroborated by his previous identification in the test identification parade or any other evidence” (see Dana Yadav @ Dahu v State of Bihar).In a sensational and shocking case such as this, it is surprising that the police did not take the abundant caution of holding a TIP. This lapse left the door ajar for the prime accused to escape.Further, as regards the prime accused arranging stay for two of the assailants in a lodge, the Court noted that the prosecution could not establish the same by way of documentary evidence.The names of the accused were not there in the lodge register, and the relevant records were not seized by the police.”…the names of the persons, viz., A5 and A8 who supposed to have stayed in the Lodge have not been indicated and Identity Cards have not been collected and no receipts for the payment of rent have been given and the counterfoil of the Receipt Book was not even seized by the Investigating Officer – PW67″, the Court said.There was no TIP even for the lodge managers, and they also identified the accused for the first time in the Court.The Court held that the prosecution was unable to prove that it was Chinnasamy who made arrangements for the two accused to stay in the lodge.To show that Chinnasamy had previous acquaintance with two of the assailants (A4 and A8), the SI of Palani station stated that he had stood as surety for their release on a previous occassion. Surprisingly, no documents/endorsements regarding the same were produced before the Court.As regards money transaction, the Court noted that though it was shown that Chinnasamy had withdrawn Rs 80,000 through ATM between February 12 and 14, there was no evidence that it was for payment to the assailants. It was the case of the prosecution that a sum of Rs.24,000/- was recovered from A4 and yet another sum of Rs.26,000/- was recovered from A6, and they were paid by Chinnasamy. This was based on the confession statements of the accused, stated to have been corroborated by recovery under Section 27 of the Evidence Act.The HC noted that in the admissible portion of the confession statement, there are no specific words regarding money. So, recovery of money was held to be beyond the ambit of Section 27 of the Evidence Act. Also, since it was a joint account of Chinnasamy and his wife, it cannot be said that Chinnasamy alone withdrew the amounts, in the absence of CCTV images from the ATM centre. The Court specifically noted that the investigating officer did not seize the CCTV records of the ATM.”The recovery of money said to have been paid by A1 to A4 to A8 as well as from A6, in the considered opinion of the Court may not fall strictly within the ambit of Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act and even for the sake of accepting the arguments advanced on behalf of the State, the prosecution has failed to prove that it was A1 alone had withdrawn the money from the joint account of himself and his wife under Ex.P41 marked through PW37, especially in the light of the fact that the said sums were withdrawn from the Automatic Teller Machines [ATMs]. It also came out from the evidence that A1 is also a Tourist Car Operator”, the Court said.From the evidence on record, the HC could only accepted two facts :Chinnasamy was unhappy with his daughter’s marriage to Shankar.Chinnasamy had phone calls with two of the accused till a week before the crime.Beyond that, the prosecution “failed to link the circumstances which would have been unerringly pointed out the guilt” on the part of Chinnasamy, the Court said. In a case of criminal conspiracy, it is incumbent on the prosecution to establish a “clear chain of circumstances” showing the meeting of minds of the accused.The Court also refused to overturn the acquittal of Kowsalya’s mother, Annalakshmi observing that the evidence “did not indicate her intention to wreak vengeance as to the inter-caste marriage between her daughter with Shankar”. The acquittal of two other persons were also sustained.While the Court pointed out the weakness of prosecution case to acquit the prime accused, the big question still remains : what motivated 5 assailants to hack Shankar to death in broad daylight in public view?  Subscribe to LiveLaw, enjoy Ad free version and other unlimited features, just INR 599 Click here to Subscribe. All payment options available.loading….Next Storylast_img read more