Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Would-Be Prosecutors... (1992)

Workers Vanguard No. 561, 16 October 1992

Would-Be Prosecutors Can't Get Their Story Straight

A couple of documents are being circulated by the campaign to get supporters of Mark Curtis’ defense to “dis-endorse.”

“Labor Defense and the Mark Curtis Case” was written in 1989 by Charles Adams. Adams is a former member of Socialist Action who was expelled by the group for conducting a private “investigation” into the Curtis case; they noted his “secret contact with the Workers League.”

“The Case Against Mark Curtis” was written by Greg McNaghten, a Seattle official of Brakemen’s Local 1024, in the form of a 29-page open letter to his “fellow UTU [United Transportation Union] members.”

These documents are cited as showing how a “leftist” and a “unionist” undertook “independent investigations” and supposedly found that the evidence proved Mark Curtis guilty. But some of this “evidence” is more than suspect: for instance, Adams’ account that after Demetria Morris was attacked, “blood was running down her face.” This is repeated as fact by other accounts, yet at the trial it was never stated that Morris was bleeding. Where does this come from?

Parts of these documents are bizarrely revolting: Thus Adams reports his “long conversation” with Assistant D.A. Catherine Thune, whom he asked to explain how a person like Mark Curtis, a union activist committed to the rights of the oppressed, could commit such a crime: “Mrs. Thune explained that she had handled many rape cases and that unfortunately is the profile very often. Mark is a very gentle passive person…. They do lots of little kind things for people but there’s an inner rage that may come out only once in a lifetime.” So Curtis is deemed prone to rape because he’s a quiet person!

Then there’s Adams’ dismissal of the time discrepancies in Demetria Morris’ testimony - he “explains” that black people can’t tell time, are guided by “Colored People’s Time,” and the only reason the defense attorney pushed the time question was that he “was viewing the conception of time from white cultural perspective.” This is blatant racism.

UTU official Greg McNaghten also says he “spent several hours on the phone with Mrs. Kathy Thune, the prosecuting attorney in this case,” as well as the Iowa State Parole Board, Polk County prosecutors and others, and “as a result of all this digging” concluded that “Mark Curtis was given a fair trial” and is guilty. McNaghten has a novel theory as to why the cops beat Curtis bloody - it was all part of Curtis’ plot to show he was framed up: “Ergo: create a mysteriously disappearing woman, throw in police racism and bigotry; get yourself beat up …and you’ve got yourself a defense.”

But, interestingly, on some of the key facts about the case, these two accounts contradict each other. Take the question of dog hairs. The forensic expert testified Demetria Morris had dog hairs all over her sweatshirt, yet no dog hairs were found on Mark Curtis. How can this be, if, according to the story, Curtis wrestled Demetria to the ground and attempted to rape her? The anti-Curtis people attempt to explain this, for instance Adams asserts that “The dog is never kept on the front porch.” But McNaghten states flatly, “Demetria testified that they often let the dog on the front porch.”

Curtis says that after work on March 4, he attended and spoke, in Spanish, at a large meeting (which was videotaped) called to protest the INS raid and arrest of 17 fellow workers at the Swift plant. Adams says he’ uncovered the fact that “Nobody remembers him [Curtis] even at the meeting,” the meeting was small and the media wasn’t present. But McNaghten says that he spoke with a member of Curtis’ union local who “said it was true that Curtis spoke and in Spanish but he did so from the assembled crowd and was one of a great many who spoke up.”

In repeating the lines fed to them by the prosecutors, the witchhunters can’t even get their stories straight.