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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Workshop Panelist at Upcoming Conference on Democracy and Direct Action

by Efrén Paredes, Jr.

November 6-7, 2009 the Xicano Development Center will be hosting the Conference on Democracy and Direct Action. Day One of the conference will be held at East Lansing High School. Day Two of the conference will be held at Michigan State University.

I will be participating as a panelist of a workshop via phone on Nov. 7 along with other Xicana/o community leaders. We will be discussing my campaign for freedom, the anatomy of effective networking, and the value of Xicano prison programs.

People from across the nation will be presenting at the conference about a variety of important issues including the arts and activism, building solidarity across color lines, indigenous border issues, and other subjects.

The keynote speaker at the conference will be Ward Churchill. Churchill is a prolific American Indian scholar/activist, Ward Churchill is a founding member of the Rainbow Council of Elders, and longtime member of the leadership council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado.

Churchill has written over 20 books and is the former Chair of the University of Colorado/Boulder Ethnic Studies Department, where, until July 2007, he was a tenured Professor of American Indian Studies and where he received numerous awards for his teaching, scholarship and service. Professor Churchill is currently suing the University of Colorado for violating his First Amendment rights by firing him in retaliation for his observations on 9/11 and his exercise of his First Amendment-protected speech and in violation of the doctrine of Academic Freedom.

Also appearing at the conference will be New York Hip Hop group Rebel Diaz. Rebel Diaz came together at a critical moment in U.S. history. In early 2006, as Latinos throughout America found themselves under attack with anti-immigration laws, Rebel Diaz was in the streets of The Bronx, New York, organizing the community to fight against proposed racist legislation. Rebel Diaz performed in front of hundreds of thousands of people in massive protests from Chicago to Washington, D.C.

Using the power of hope and the struggles of the past as inspiration, these sons and daughters of revolutionaries express their wishes and demands for a just and compassionate world. In the streets of every ghetto across the world, one can hear the sound of people fed up with poverty and second-class citizenship. Rebel Diaz arises from these conditions to fan flames of change through songs that inspire, educate, and celebrate life.

I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge and experience about the subjects I will be discussing, and using the opportunity to dispel some of the myths that exist about prisons and those who its walls hold captive. It will be a rewarding and transformative experience for all who attend and aspire to foster a liberating consciousness.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Efrén Will Participate in 2009 Feminism(s) & Rhetoric(s) Conference Workshop Panel

Saturday, October 10, 2009, a workshop about women advocates of incarcerated men and women will be conducted at the 2009 Feminism(s) and Rhetoric(s) Conference which will be held at Michigan State University (MSU).

The conference is sponsored by the Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric & Composition and hosted by the Rhetoric & Writing program at MSU. The conference will take place October 7-10, 2009. The theme for this year's conference is "Enabling Complexities: Communities/Writing/Rhetoric".

According to the conference web site, "So our aim in organizing FemRhet 2009 has been to bring together the unique breadth and diversity of our experiences as scholars, teachers, and community members in order focus on the complex knowledge work that we do together."

They add, "In bringing the conference theme—Enabling Complexities—to life, we believe that we have created a conference that both examines the knowledge work we already do as scholars and community activists and that creates more space for the complicated, difficult work that must follow if we want to adequately reflect the deep structure of connections/intersections/overlaps that are critical to our shared future."

Workshop panelists will include Efrén'smother, Velia Koppenhoefer, a Xicana community leader and MSU graduate student, and a former Michigan prisoner who was incarcerated 29 years and served as an advocate for women. Efrén will also be joining the panel via phone to offer his insight from the perspective of an incarcerated male.

There will also be discussion about the global campaign to free Efrén, and an update about the status of The Injustice Must End (TIME) Committee's petition to Gov. Granholm asking her to grant Efrén's commutation request seeking his release.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Response to Week-Long Article Series in The South Bend Tribune

For the past six days The South Bend Tribune ran a series of articles about Efrén's case. Below are links to each of the articles for your review.
It appears the author attempted to provide balanced reporting in the series. With the exception of referring to Efrén as a "friend" of Eric and Alex Mui, Steve Miller and Jason Williamson, the remainder of the articles were accurate for the most part.

One thing we want to make clear is that Efrén was not friends with the above-named youths. They were students he knew from school. Even they denied being Efrén's friend. Steve Miller also denied liking Efrén in a statement to police.

The article series demonstrated that there exists clear evidence of problems with Efrén's case and the undeniable fact that he did not receive a fair trial. It did not bring out every piece of evidence which would have increased awareness about other aspects of the case, however, the purpose of the series was obviously not to exonerate Efrén.

Each day a number of comments were made in response to the online version of each article. Some were positive, others were negative, hate-filled and incendiary. Some of the victim's supporters even called for Efrén's execution.

Efrén and our family are committed to not speaking negatively about the Tetzlaff family (i.e., the victims in this case). We will not be a party to dialogue that causes them any further pain. Instead, we will continue to pray for their healing.

We have publicly expressed our condolences to the Tetzlaff family for their tragic loss. We have also always been open to sitting down with their family in an effort to discuss the case and share evidence and information with them in our possession which supports Efrén's innocence. They deserve to know about it more than anyone else.

Our invitation remains open. We are willing to meet with the Tetzlaff family with clergy or in any place of worship to discuss the case, or to help our families and the community find ways to heal. Civil discourse is essential to both families.

Harboring anger or hatred towards Efrén is not going to bring anyone closure, and listening to the inflammatory remarks of outsiders will only serve to further polarize us. If everyone can put their egos to the side for a moment, be open to peace and reconciliation, and put God first we are convinced progress can be made.

Those serious about working to help both the Tetzlaff family and our family truly begin the healing process can contact us via phone at 269-849-9056 or via e-mail. We ask everyone to please keep both of our families in your prayers.

On Behalf of the Family of
Efrén Paredes, Jr.

Velia Koppenhoefer


* We invite people to click here to read a detailed account of what actually occurred in Efrén's case which was prepared by The Injustice Must End (TIME) Committee to Free Efrén Paredes, Jr.