Thursday, December 13, 2018

Come, Thou Long Expected Court Date

I find meaning, and not coincidence, in the fact that Shane’s (unexpected) day in Federal Court will take place during the third week of Advent. In the Christian liturgical year, Advent began this year on December 2, and concludes on December 24, a time of preparation and expectation, anticipating the “light coming into the darkness, and overcoming it.” On December 19, Shane will have his first day in Federal Court in downtown Manhattan, before US District Judge Paul Adam Engelmayer. I say “unexpected”, because it was just a few short weeks ago that the Federal Court requested to hear from the prime “eyewitness", Miss Christine Holloway, who currently resides in Georgia but was flown to NYC in order to testify in Federal Court on December 19. This request by the court was and is an unexpected surprise, and carries very positive implications for Shane’s incipient exoneration. Miss Holloway’s identification of Shane Watson as the shooter on that fateful night on Schieffelin Avenue in the Bronx back in October of 1991 effectively sealed Shane’s fate, despite Miss Holloway’s statements being coerced and forced after hours of interrogation that went into the wee hours of the morning. Those coerced statements, along with the coerced and manipulated statements of two young sisters living in an apartment building some 70 feet away from the street resulted in Shane spending a full twenty-five years in the New York prison system.

If angels exist (I believe they do), then Doug Walters is clearly an angel incarnate. Since the early days of Doug’s tireless investigation into Shane’s case (which Doug volunteered and was never paid a dime for) Doug has been a passionate advocate of Shane’s innocence. He knows the details of the case better than our own attorney, better than I do, and better than anyone for that matter. Doug has meticulously documented every interview he ever had with witnesses and people connected to Shane’s case and every aspect of his investigation. I spoke with Doug this morning by phone, and he was very excited about next week’s hearing. “This judge specifically asked to hear from Christine Holloway”, Doug said, “and that can only be good.” This coming Sunday,  December 16 Doug told me, our attorney Robert Boyle is meeting with Christine Holloway in New York to discuss the hearing, and her testimony. Joining Robert will be two longtime advocates of Shane’s case: Rebecca Freedman and Glenn Garber. Glenn is the founder and director of The Exoneration Initiative, Rebecca is the assistant director. “I would love to attend this meeting,” Doug told me, from his home in Chicago. There is no question that Doug’s knowledge and expertise would be welcome, and in fact he and Robert Boyle have spoken by phone about the impending court date. (read Doug's SUMMARY)

We live in what Gore Vidal called “The United States of Amnesia”. Shane Watson was released from prison, on parole, on October 9, 2018, little over eight weeks ago. In The United States of Amnesia, this is considered “old news”. What is not old news is the fact that Shane “did his twenty-five” as he puts it. He spent a quarter of a century locked in a cage, a victim of the state, for doing nothing. Twenty-five long years later Shane will step into the Federal Court building in lower Manhattan with his defense team looking to correct this wrong, as much as it can be corrected given the fact that those twenty-five years are lost. On December 19, in the spirit of Advent, I will be alert to the signs of light breaking through the crushing darkness of this criminal justice system. 

US District Judge Paul Adam Engelmayer

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Don't Get Out The Vote

This morning while driving to work I spoke with Shane Watson, who has been home since his release on parole on October 9. Shane lives with his wife Paula and their two children, Diane and Zion, in Ulster County, NY. I asked Shane if he was permitted to vote. “Yes”, he replied, “Cuomo (Governor of NY) made it possible for parolees to vote now. I can’t because by the time I got my ID card from the DMV it was too late to register.”

Like many illusions, the “right” for parolees to vote appears at first glance like something progressive, an act of an enlightened society willing to expand its sense of “fairness”. In reality, granting parolees the “right” to vote serves the elite and the corporate state as yet another distraction, one that perpetuates the illusion of democracy. 

When Shane and I first began corresponding in 2004, he was incarcerated (wrongly, after a wrongful conviction) at Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville, (Duchess County) NY. Like most prisoners, Shane had a job. He worked in a furniture shop for a company called Corcraft, which in 2014 boasted earnings of $48 million. Shane’s “salary” in 2004 was 16 cents per hour. Some states, particularly in the south, pay zero wages. Of course, prisoners who work for Corcraft or the myriad of corporations that exploit prison labor receive no pension or health benefits.  The prison system is a gold mine for corporations, who control practically every aspect of prison life: phone service, commissary items, etc. and in essence benefit from present-day legalized slavery. 

In 1992 I voted for Bill Clinton, who, in deference to the corporate state went on to destroy lives through NAFTA, and who also destroyed welfare, creating agony for thousands of people including children who were living at or below the poverty level. In 2008 I voted for Barack Obama, who broke his promises to close Guantanamo Bay, who escalated the illegal and horrific “war” in Afghanistan, who by signing the FISA Amendment Act of 2008 perpetuated the pernicious “Patriot Act” and created the most complex surveillance state in human history. Obama gave subsidies to pharmaceutical companies who wrote the Affordable Care Act, thereby denying children health coverage via exemptions. Obama ran to the aid of the big banks and financial houses, giving roughly $12 trillion of OUR money to the thieves and cretins who stole from their clients. Where George W. Bush was vacant and overtly evil, Obama was deceptive and weak, and ultimately bowed to the same corporate forces that helped elect him. I learned my lesson. 

The mockery of democracy that exists in this country is on an inevitable course of destruction. The myth that voting “creates a difference” is one that the elites who pull the strings which control our society want us to believe in. Voting is a distraction. It is perhaps the most elevated form of distraction, when compared to the distractions presented by mainstream “news” networks, celebrity-driven pseudo news and garbage, but it is a distraction. No matter which arm of the duo-party prevails in this latest “election”, the powers behind the scenes remain constant, meaning that very little will change. Will the Democrats slash the $600 billion military budget? Will they prosecute the CEO’s of the big banks like Wells Fargo for theft? Will outright surveillance be terminated if the Democrats take control of Congress? Of course not. Corporate lobbyists spend much too much time and money to assure that their interests are satisfied for these changes to occur. Instead, we are intentionally distracted by non-news like the phony “hearings” of Brett Kavanaugh, whose confirmation was decided before the carnival act of televised congressional hearings began. Police in New York choke a man to death on the street corner for selling loose cigarettes, and are vindicated, while predatory creeps like Harvey Weinstein avoid prison. Different classes have different rules, and the people who write the rules are not the candidates or elected officials. This is why I do not vote. The day of collapse, the day when movements force the overturn of this sick and bloated system cannot come soon enough for me, as ugly and traumatic as that day will be.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

November 11 reception at Monroe Congregational Church postponed

The reception planned for November 11, 2018 at Monroe Congregational Church has been postponed indefinitely. 

Thank you for your interest.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Making Strides

It's been just three weeks since Shane was released from prison. In that brief amount of time some positive developments have taken place:

  • Shane managed to get his official ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles (this involved clearing up a minor traffic ticket from 1989) and can now pursue his driving license
  • Thanks to a family member on Paula's side, Shane has an excellent chance to begin working very soon for an organic bread bakery/restaurant in Kingston, NY where he and the family are living
  • Shane has completed a mandated course focused on re-entry
  • The Federal Court has asked for a court date (December 19 in Manhattan) to pursue our goal of overturning Shane's 1993 conviction
  • Shane has established a very positive working relationship with his parole officer
Along with this, and more importantly, Shane has been re-connecting with Diane and Zion, as well as his daughter Shana (who had her baby shower this past Saturday which Shane "attended" via FaceTime), and his wife Paula, as well as extended family.

We are still hopeful that Paula, Shane and the family will be permitted to attend a service and reception at my church, (Monroe Congregational, Monroe, CT) on Sunday, November 11 @ 10 AM. We are awaiting permission from Shane's parole officer. I will update/confirm this as soon as possible.

Diane, Zion & Shane at Forsyth Park, Kingston, NY

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Shane's Day of Freedom

 Shane and daughter Shana, who told him: "Mistake Number One: Don't mix Nike with Adidas."

 Father and son reunited.

Shane's mother Joan, Shane and Will.

This Is How It Feels To Be Free!

After 25 years (9,126 days precisely) locked up in a cage for a crime he did not commit, this was the scene in Long Island City, NY this morning at 9:30, a moment Shane and his family have waited for since 1993. 

 Shane and his mother Joan Watson

 With friend Shawn (far left), brothers, and son Shane Jr. (on Shane's left)

  Daughter Shana, Shane and Shane Jr. Shan's first words to her father: "First stop is the barbershop."

Shane's mother Joan, brother Scott and Will.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Celebration Service on November 11, 2018

Dear Friends, 

Monroe Congregational Church in Monroe, CT is planning to recognize and celebrate Shane Watson’s freedom in the service of worship on Sunday, November 11, 2018 @ 10 AM.
 A reception will be held following the worship service.

After spending 25 years in the NY State prison system for a crime he did not commit, Shane will be released on October 9, 2018, and reunite with his wife Paula, their children Diane and Zion and their extended family.

The Opus 30 Mission has been fighting for Shane’s freedom and exoneration since 2004. Freedom is at hand, and we plan to continue the fight in the court system to assure that Shane’s conviction is overturned.

More details will be forthcoming in the days ahead.
Please RSVP if you are planning to attend:
Phone: 203-260-1182

Come, Thou Long Expected Court Date

I find meaning, and not coincidence, in the fact that Shane’s (unexpected) day in Federal Court will take place during the third week of Ad...