Sunday, January 10, 2016

Support John Moore -- still fighting an unjust and racist conviction

John Moore
During my decade of living in Sudbury, Ontario, I got to know John Moore and became involved in supporting his struggle for justice in the face of a wrongful and racist conviction. Right now, Moore is asking people to write to federal politicians in the new Parliament -- your own MP; the Sudbury MP, Paul Lefebvre; Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould; Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett; and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau -- in support of his request that the Minister of Justice order a judicial review of his conviction, or provide some other kind of remedy for this injustice. Remember, you can mail MPs for free at the address below. To learn more about John's case, check out this article that I wrote in 2009. (Sadly, little has changed since then.) And check out my letter below as an example of things you can say in yours. Please consider taking a few minutes to support John's struggle for justice!

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
House of Commons
Parliament Buildings
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Re: Justice for John Moore

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

I am writing in support of John Moore, an Anishnaabe man from Serpent River First Nation who lives in Sudbury, Ontario, and who has been struggling for decades to clear his name of a wrongful and racist conviction. Though I moved to Hamilton, Ontario, in August 2015, I lived for more than a decade in Sudbury and was lucky enough to get to know Moore and the details of his case. I am writing to encourage you to ask the Minister of Justice to use her power to order a judicial review of Moore's conviction, or to find some other remedy for this decades-long injustice.

Moore was convicted of second degree murder in 1978. This happened despite the fact that he was not present when the crime was committed and had no role whatsoever in perpetrating it, and was based solely on him having spent time earlier that day with the individuals who committed the crime. Several other individuals, all of whom were white, had contact similar to John's to those who actually committed the crime – most of them were not charged, and none were convicted. Moore's trials were tainted with systemic racism. The law under which he was convicted was ruled unconstitutional in the late 1980s in another case, and no one would be convicted under similar circumstances today – that is, Moore did nothing wrong and his conviction was unjust. He spent ten long years in maximum security prisons before being released on parole, and lost more in those years than most of us can imagine. Still today he bears the burden of the stigma created by his conviction and the indignities of having his life supervised on an ongoing basis by the justice system.

At an earlier stage of Moore's struggle, a wide range of organizations and prominent individuals endorsed the call for a review of his conviction. The organizations include the Aboriginal People's Alliance of Northern Ontario, Sudbury First Nations Church, the Laurentian Association of Mature and Part-time Students, the Sudbury and District Labour Council, and the national level of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Along with a number of local activists, academics, and citizens, prominent figures from outside of Sudbury have endorsed the call for a review of John's unjust conviction, including the late Charles C. Roach, a long-time lawyer in Toronto's African-Canadian communities; Doreen Spence, a Cree elder from Alberta; and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, a prominent academic, author, and activist from San Francisco. Doug Millroy, former editor of the Sault Star, the daily paper in the city where the murder of which John was wrongfully convicted took place, has written repeatedly in support of John's quest for justice.

Moore himself has recently or will soon be sending you and other federal politicians more detailed information about his case and about what would be required for a just resolution. I urge you to pay careful attention to what he submits, and to do whatever is in your power to ensure that his unjust and racist conviction is subjected to appropriate judicial review and that Moore at long last finds justice.


Scott Neigh

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