On March 12, 2015, Palestinian American community organizer and women’s leader Rasmea Odeh was sentenced to 18 months in prison after an unjust conviction last November, but she is challenging that conviction, and her many supporters have helped her remain free on bond, pending the outcome of her appeal. She is back home to her community in Chicago, and back to her work with the Arab Women’s Committee.
But there is still much more to do. Watching Rasmea walk out of the courtroom should serve as motivation for supporters to work even harder to spread her story and highlight her case in the 4 to 8 months before the appeal.
The sentencing hearing last Thursday inspired significant media attention and articles from a number of local, national, and international outlets, so the Rasmea Defense Committee is asking supporters to help spread far and wide the positive articles written about the case and the sentencing. You can post via email and all forms of social media using the hashtag #Justice4Rasmea, and also flood the comments sections with appreciation and positive reviews. That coverage follows Action 2.
Supporters are also asked to respond directly to any negative press you identify by also flooding the comments sections, this time with critiques and corrections, and by writing letters to the editor.
The specific target of this action alert is a particularly damaging article by the Chicago Tribune:
Letters of 400 words or less can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Write the letter in the body of your email. Do not send an attached file.
The letters to the editor page is one of the most highly read sections of a newspaper. Even if your submission is not published, editors need to receive a large number of letters expressing disapproval of their coverage of Rasmea and her case to influence their future stories.
Talking Points for drafting letters:
1- The article lacks journalistic objectivity. It reinforces the “terrorism” narrative constructed by the prosecution to fuel racist hysteria against Rasmea, while excluding her testimony and perspective.
2- The article fails to address the significant and vital impact Rasmea has had on hundreds of immigrant women who have adopted Chicagoland as their home and community. Such dedication has been previously acknowledged and honored by the Chicago Cultural Alliance, which named Rasmea its Outstanding Community Leader in 2013.
3- The article gives weight to a video presented by the prosecution, despite the judge having said it was not relevant to his decision. This is a form of misinformation and sensationalism expected from tabloid media, not a major news outlet.
To the Editor,
The article titled “Chicago-area activist given 18 months in prison for lying about terrorism role,” published on 3/12/2015, deliberately feeds into terrorist hysteria, portraying Rasmea Odeh’s appearance in YouTube videos as evidence of guilt by association, and using the prosecution’s language of “terrorist reunion” as fact. At the sentencing hearing, Rasmea communicated her side of the story to the judge, but those words were excluded from your paper’s reporting. As a long-time Chicago resident who the judge agreed has worked tirelessly for the immigrant community in her city and beyond, Rasmea deserves to be portrayed fairly by the Chicago Tribune.
Media Coverage of Sentencing Hearing
ADDITIONAL CALLS TO ACTION
– Please do not forget the importance of planning events, fundraisers and rallies in support of Rasmea as she moves through the appeal process! Send your plans to email@example.com so they can post your event on justice4rasmea.org and share with others.
– Remember that supporters can directly donate to Rasmea’s defense campaign at justice4rasmea.org/donate.