ROCK FOR FREEDOM WEEKEND

This coming March 7-9 a new International WEST MEMPHIS THREE fundraising event will be celebrated for the first time: “Free the WM3: ROCK FOR FREEDOM WEEKEND”. The event will be celebrated, as other fundraising events have been in the past, with Supporters, all over the World, holding shows and concerts to raise money for the West Memphis Three Support Fund!

Recent developments in the case have Damien Echols’ lawyer filing in Federal Court with an “Actual Innocence Claim”…which means they feel they have enough new information to not only prove that a jury today would find reasonable doubt, but enough to show that the WM3 are ACTUALLY INNOCENT. These new findings (new DNA evidence is part of a LONG list of new findings) are bringing the West Memphis Three closer to becoming free men than ever before! As the new evidence moves to be formally presented in Court (a hearing may be held in the Spring), the lawyers, investigators, and experts are moving into overdrive! This, of course, is causing the WM3’s legal fees to skyrocket! NOW, MORE THAN EVER, DAMIEN, JASON & JESSIE NEED OUR HELP! We’ve helped them get this far…….WE HAVE TO SEE THIS THROUGH to THE END! But, in order for there to be an end…we MUST give all the support possible, in the way of fundraising, to help them make it! The WM3 Defense Fund is being tapped daily and it is IMPERITIVE that we replenish it so this process to free them can continue! PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE OF THINKING THAT BECAUSE OF THE NEW EVIDENCE THAT IT IS TIME TO RELAX AND LET THINGS TAKE THEIR COURSE….THESE MEN CANNOT MOVE FORWARD WITHOUT THE HELP OF THE DEFENSE FUND! There is SO much more to be done! A great deal of legal wrangling will play out in the year to come and possibly beyond that. There’s been mention of the possibility that more DNA testing may be done as well, and the WM3 MUST PAY FOR THESE TESTS THEMSELVES….the State does not pay a dime! LAWYER FEES, INVESTIGATOR FEES, AND CERTAINLY DNA TESTING COST THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS! THE ONLY MONEY PAYING FOR THESE THINGS ARE THE FUNDS SUPPORTERS RAISE FOR THE DEFENSE FUND. If we slow down, if we get complacent, the result could be disastrous! Think of this as a long home stretch…..if you were winning a race, would you then slow down, or stop, just because the finish line was in sight? HELL NO, YOU WOULDN’T!

We’re hoping ROCK FOR FREEDOM WEEKEND will breathe new life into WM3 Supporters’ fundraising efforts……..LET’S GET EXCITED FOLKS!……GET INVOLVED….STAY INVOLVED! Damien, Jason & Jessie ARE COUNTING ON US……..WE CANNOT LET THEM DOWN!

Damien, Jason, & Jessie are already aware of this event and all three have expressed their support of it and have wished us luck! THE EFFORTS ALL OF US MAKE FOR THE ROCK FOR FREEDOM WEEKEND WILL HAVE A DIRECT EFFECT ON DAMIEN, JASON, & JESSIE’S LIVES! The funds that we will raise will pave their walk to freedom. Do not EVER think that you are insignificant and cannot do anything to help! As a group, or what I like to think of as a large family, if we support one another, encourage one another, and remind ourselves that the money we raise WILL BE CHANGING THREE MEN’S LIVES, I DON’T THINK THERE IS ANYTHING WE CANNOT ACHIEVE!

Myself (Boohiss) & STL (Chandra) are heading up the RFFW Team, which includes Coordinators from across the U.S. as well as Coordinators in England and Australia. We’ve split the country into four quadrants, assigning 1-2 Coordinators to each quadrant. We’ll contact you to let you know which quad you’re in or you can look on the RFFW Myspace page (http://www.myspace.com/rockforfreedomweekendwm3 ) which will have the States listed with their Coordinators. In areas where we have not yet assigned a Coordinator STL or myself will handle the area until one is appointed. This way, anytime anyone has a question, needs help, anything…..there will be Coordinators waiting to give what’s needed in a timely manner. WE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU AS MUCH OR A LITTLE AS YOU NEED US! Of course, if you don’t know who your Coordinator is, or would just rather speak to a friend you know, there is no “rule” saying you must speak with a particular Coordinator. We’re just doing it for organizational purposes. If you’re an old pro, done this 100 times before, just give us a hollar and let us know you’re gonna do a show, and you need not do anything else….you don’t have to check in with us, get our permission, NOTHING. But, if you’ve never done a benefit in your life, but want to, we’re prepared to help you down to the very last detail. THIS IS EVERYONE’S GIFT TO THE WEST MEMPHIS THREE and it is up to you, as a Supporter, to handle that as you wish!!!

I have complied a “file” of sorts that we’ll pass out to ALL WM3 Myspace sites and anyone who wants to put together or participate in a benefit. (if some how you are missed, please contact me). It will contain everything from mock-fliers, to my blog “How To Do a Benefit: TIPS”, to form letters to send to bands or volunteers…and the list goes on. I’ll even go over how to snag local radio interviews, get articles on your benefit in local papers & entertainment rags. Just about anything you can think of that would help you plan more effectively will be in it. We want to make setting up benefits a FUN project, not one full of stress, and the more information you have the easier things should go.

Over the years I have been blessed to get to know so many of you! Some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met are WM3 Supporters. Your capacity to give selflessly, live from your hearts, and have such great compassion and love for Damien, Jason, & Jessie….men most of you have never met…….is beyond description. It’s because of the hearts in all of you that we know if we all work together THIS CAN BE DONE….and not just “done”……..BUT DONE DAMN WELL!

So…..ARE YOU READY TO GET STARTED? Yeah? Go on over and look at the Coordinators/States list, see who your Coordinator is, and either contact them, or contact me or Chandra here Go ahead and subscribe to our Blog…..it will keep you updated!! Snag some of the banners you see on this site and post them on everything from your Myspace sites, your sig lines on message boards…….anywhere and everywhere!

WE WANT THIS TO BE THE BEST FUNDRAISING EFFORT TO DATE! SO GET READY TO DIG IN AND KICK BUTT!

BLESSINGS TO YOU ALL AND GOOD LUCK!

LET’S DO THIS!!!!!

Terry Hobbs admitted to 1982 sexual assault

Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of one of the three childrren murdered in West Memphis in 1993 and whose DNA was recently found inside one of the knots used in the killing, was arrested 11 years before those murders in Hot Springs.
He was charged with entering the home of a neighbor and touching her breasts while she was in the shower.
According to a report by Hot Springs police, Hobbs assaulted Mildred French, in her home on Dec. 8, 1982. Hobbs was 24 and married to his first wife at the time. French was 54.
French reported the attack to police the next day.
According to the police report, Hobbs admitted that he had entered French’s house and put his arms around her as she came out of the shower.
Hobbs was charged with assault and criminal trespass. The case against him was dismissed when he agreed to undergo counseling.

Hobbs knives to be tested

A reliable source close to the investigation has reported that Brent Davis, the prosecuting attorney in the case of the West Memphis Three, arranged this week for Arkansas officials to take possession of knives that once belonged to Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of Stevie Branch, one of three children murdered in 1993.
The source said the knives were to be transferred to state custody on Wednesday. The knives had been given to an attorney representing one of the teenagers convicted of the murders by Pamela Hobbs, Stevie’s mother, who was at the time married to Terry Hobbs.
The source also reported that Davis has cooperated with defense attorneys in making arrangements to have the knives tested.

Terry Hobbs reports being told his DNA was found at crime scene

Interviewed on July 16, Terry Hobbs said an investigator for the WM3 defense told him recently “that a piece of my hair is in the knots that tied up Michael Moore.”
Hobbs’s ex-wife, Pam Hobbs, interviewed the day before, said she now considers Terry Hobbs a suspect in the murders.
Both the Hobbses said they have been interviewed by the West Memphis police regarding the 1993 murders of Christopher Byers, Michael Moore, and their son, Stevie Branch.
“I sat in a room the other day and was filmed, videoed and audioed,” Hobbs said. “It kind of aggravated me.”
An article detailing the interviews is online at: Arkansas Times.

WM3 defense teams meet with state; lay scientific ‘cards on the table’

Defense attorneys for Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, Jr., the men known as the West Memphis Three, brought four forensic pathologists and two forensic odontologists with them to a meeting at the Arkansas Crime Lab on Thursday, May 17, according to a source who attended the day-long meeting.
“Our approach has been to lay our cards on the tables and be as open and straight-forward with the state as possible,” he said.
“We wanted to let our science people get with their science people and let the lawyers get out of the way. We want the science to be leading the lawyers, instead of the opposite.”
Rumors have circulated recently that there has been a shift of focus in the case as a result of information discovered by investigators working for the defense.
Pam Hobbs, the mother of one of the three murder victims, alluded to the speculation in remarks to a Little Rock reporter on the day the defense teams visited the crime lab.
Noting that she still believes the West Memphis Three are guilty, Hobbs added, “but I am—like everyone else—was there someone else out there other than those three?”
The source who was present at the crime lab meeting said, “DNA was not the focus of the meeting.” He added, however, that testing has not produced “any [DNA] matches to our guys.”
Asked whether the testing had produced a link to anyone else, he replied, “No comment.”

Come! Stand with us! Demand justice at the Crittenden County Courthouse

Arkansas supporters of the West Memphis Three will observe World Awareness Day by “Standing for Justice” at the Crittenden County Courthouse in Marion from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 2, 2007.
Supporters from everywhere in the world are invited.
Arkansas supporters are especially urged to come, to refute statements by officials that there is no support from within the state for the WM3.
The event will be dignified, simple and strong.
It will center on one 14-minute period, during which supporters will join hands and stand facing the courthouse in silence.
The 14 minutes signify the years that Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, Jr., have spent in prison.
Our clasped hands signify our solidarity with them.
Our silent presence at this courthouse represents the enormity of the injustice that began in it.
An open-mic session will follow, during which supporters will have the opportunity to publicly state their concerns about this case. Comments will be limited to three minutes per person.
Car pools may be organized from various parts of Arkansas. Persons volunteering to drive or who need a ride are asked to email beth@arwar.org.
Remember that this region was traumatized by the murders of three children. Respect that.
This is a public demonstration, not a confrontation with individuals.
Damien, Jason and Jessie were convicted in Arkansas courts. They are held in Arkansas prisons.
On June 2, show your support for them in the district where this travesty occurred.
More information at “arwar.org”: http://arwar.org/standingforjustice.

WAD goes to Crittenden County Courthouse Join us in standing on behalf of the WM3

In a public display of solidarity, Arkansas supporters of the West Memphis Three will hold a peaceful assembly Saturday, June 2nd, 2007 on the grounds of the Crittenden County Courthouse in Marion, Arkansas from 1pm – 3pm.
During the two-hour event, there will be three 14-minute segments of silence, one each for Damien, Jason and Jessie, the 14 minutes symbolizing the 14 years they’ve spent in prison.

Intermittent speakers and participants will include the author of Devil’s Knot, Mara Leveritt, and more speakers to be announced. Attendees will also be given the chance to speak their own piece during 2-minute open-mike segments between silences.

Supporters worldwide are encouraged to attend this Ground Zero Awareness Day event. Although we realize there may be various concerns due to the location of this event, supporter turnout will be crucial to the level of impact left by this show of solidarity. Local officials have been notified personally by phone and with a follow-up letter. They have not objected to the event. We would also like to assure you that your Constitutional right to assemble on public property does indeed apply in regards to this event.

It is, however, VERY important that there be minimal disruption and that those in attendance behave in a peaceful and respectful manner. Those present should maintain the highest level of conduct, and refrain from engaging in verbal or physical unpleasantness with ANYONE, even if provoked.

Volunteers willing to maintain carpooling lists are needed from each state.
Interested individuals can contact Mary Boley at mary@arwar.org. We also need the involvement of supporters willing to facilitate communication among residents within their own states about travel and lodging arrangements. As the time approaches for supporters to ascend upon Crittenden County in this show of solidarity, YOUR help and participation is essential.

This is our opportunity to demonstrate visible support to the community in which this injustice was cultivated. This is also an opportunity for supporters in that local community to participate and have a voice in World Awareness Day 2007. So throw on your WM3 t-shirt, make your signs, and stand for justice with the friends and family of the WM3 on June 2nd.

Arkansas university students demand ‘Steps toward Justice’

Supporters of the West Memphis Three will assemble at the Arkansas State Capitol on Friday, April 20, in a rally organized by student activists at the University of Central Arkansas. The two-hour event, called Steps Toward Justice, will begin at noon.
Organizers scheduled the rally as a way to give students, whose semester ends in May, a chance to participate early in Worldwide Awareness Day. That event which will be held June 1-3, after most have left the campus.
Members of the university’s Demand Justice Panel are planning the event, which will feature speakers (including me), music, poetry and other activities. T-shirts printed with quotations about justice will be for sale. Anyone may attend.
The Demand Justice panel was formed in 2006, funded by a grant of $3,000 from the UCA Foundaton. Panel members conduct open-forum public discussions about wrongful conviction, particularly as it relates to the West Memphis case.
Since its creation last fall, the panel has made six public presentations at UCA. A final one will be held at 7 p.m., April 4, at the UCA Student Center.
Audiences range in size from individual classes to large groups or clubs. Because the case is multi-faceted, faculty members have found that discussions fit into courses on writing, political science, sociology, journalism, criminal justice, philosophy and religious studies.
Panel members are: Beau Jones, Cory Ingram, Treva Chrisman, Amanda Stewart, and Shari Ervin. UCA faculty members are Lanette Grate and Ted Dias.
I asked some of the panel members why they got so involved. Chrisman, a sophomore majoring in interior design, said she was motivated by the belief that “an injustice such as this one could happen to anyone.”
Stewart, a sophomore majoring in speech/language pathology, said she was concerned that “there was no physical evidence that connected the convicted three to the murders.”
Jones, a graduate teaching assistant in the math department, replied: “The actions of Judge Burnett, the prosecutors, and the West Memphis police during this case make me physically sick to my stomach.”
He continued: “I am appalled that justice was not served for the murdered children. This case, and only this case, makes me ashamed that I am an Arkansan. I will not sit in silence and watch our justice system crumble… I encourage you not to be silent either.”

Don’t miss documentary on Arkansas’s little known prison blood scandal

Arkansans will have a rare opportunity to see the award-winning documentary “Factor 8: the Arkansas Prison Blood Scandal” this weekend, when the film is presented in Little Rock as part of the Ozark Foothills Film Festival.

Those who can’t make the showing can order the film.

I was one of the first reporters to describe how Arkansas prisons were still drawing blood from inmates for sale on the international market, long after the practice had been stopped for being too dangerous in other states. Little Rock filmmaker Kelly Duda spent years developing the story further for this remarkable film.

The screening will be held on Saturday, Mar. 31, at 7:30 p.m. at the Market Street Theater; admission $5. Following the screening, I will be part of a panel discussion, moderated by film critic Philip Martin of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, with Duda and John Schock, a former inmate and blood donor.
Produced, written and directed by Duda, with music by Nick Devlin, the 2006 film explains the little understood story of how infected blood collected from inmates in Arkansas prisons under the administration of Gov. Bill Clinton made its way into pharmaceuticals that were sold to hemophiliacs around the world. Many users of the medication in Canada, Great Britain and Japan contracted Hepatitis C and HIV.

Writing in Variety, reviewer John Anderson called the flm, “A sturdy, concise, no-nonsense documentary that should hit screens as soon as possible.” He noted that, while Duda’s film “has limited theatrical options, but would probably win Peabodys if shown on “Frontline,” HBO or any of the several other outlets with social agendas and nerve enough to air the appalling story related in this unconventional movie.”

“Factor 8” won a Special Mention Award from the International Documentary Jury at the 2005 American Film Institute Film Festival and Best Documentary Content Award in the 2006 Boston International Film Festival.

The story has been largely squelched, especially in this country, yet plenty of history has been unearthed. There’s a good explanation in the authoritative Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.
Reporter Suzi Parker wrote a fine series on the topic in 1998 for Salon.
Here’s the IMDB review.

What follows is a review of Duda’s film by C.D. Mazoff, Ph.D., managing editor of the HCV Advocate, a hepatitis C support organization, written earlier this month:
“That this film ever saw the light of day is a testament to the courage and heart for justice of Kelly Duda. . . Kelly who?

“Well nobody can really blame you for not knowing who this person is if you are an American with hepatitis C, but if you’’re a Canadian or British hemophiliac and you received blood products from the US in the 1980’’s, chances are you got tainted blood harvested from the Arkansas prison system, and that you are already sadly familiar with this debacle.

“Factor 8 is an award winning documentary that investigates how it was that blood from prisoners, many of whom were not screened, was legally harvested in Arkansas and then sold to Canada and other countries, although the use of this blood and its products (clotting factors, gammaglobulin, etc.) in the United States was prohibited by American law.

“As a result of what can only be seen as a ridiculously hideous affair, in which the greedy and the small-minded managed to outdo even themselves, thousands of people were infected with hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV. Many have since died; others linger on in pain and suffering. Few have been compensated as a result of this injustice; a suit in Canada is in the process of being settled for victims of the Arkansas blood, and as I remember, attempts in the UK to hold the blood brokers accountable has come to naught.

“And no wonder why! Big names are involved. Former president Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas at the time this was happening, and former Canadian Prime Minister, Paul Martin, sat on the board of directors of the Canadian Development Corporation, the holding company for the private company, Connaught Laboratories, the major supplier of blood products in Canada, specifically Factor VIII used by hemophiliacs. The Canadian Red Cross got a slap on the wrist for trying to save a few pennies by not testing the blood for elevated ALT’’s, although this test was used in the US in the late 1980’’s –– but that’’s neither here nor there, since the US was smart enough to ban Arkansas blood from distribution within US borders.

“What can one say? The film is excellent, well photographed, well-told and extremely unsettling. It is depressing as heck, but necessary for the soul. How Mr. Duda persisted through all the personal harassment he underwent as various agencies tried to stop him from making this film, I don’’t know. A man with a great soul and a bigger heart!

“Even now Mr. Duda has troubles having the film aired –– even on PBS in the US and in Canada, despite the fact that it has received rave reviews from the major independent film critics and even Variety magazine. The political pressure to keep this film SILENT is very strong. It makes you wonder what else there is they haven’’t told us.

“As Kelly told the audience in a recent screening of his film at the The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia, “”Make no mistake about it; evil men did evil things in Arkansas. Their motivation was greed. But these men were relatively few. However, what made them powerful was the silence of many, many others that stood by and did nothing while the crimes were continuing and lives were being destroyed.””

“If you have hepatitis C, this movie is for you. If you are a community advocate this movie is even more for you because it is a real inspiration and a reminder of what advocacy entails, as well as of the many battles that still lay before us. This is something that should be in every hepatitis C support group’’s library.

WM3 prosecutor Brent Davis predicts hearings on ‘significance’ of new ‘consolidated’ DNA evidence

Brandi Hodges of KAIT in Jonesboro, AR, reported yesterday that Prosecuting Attorney Brent Davis is preparing for new hearings, as a result of DNA testing that has been performed on approximately 180 of evidence from the 1993 murders of three children in West Memphis. Davis told Hodges that, since the three men convicted in the case all had filed motions seeking the DNA testing, the process was “consolidated.” See Hodges’s report at KAIT.