Portraits of Injustice                                           Nicholas Young

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
 

Dear << Test First Name >>,

On December 18th, 2017, a jury handed down a guilty verdict on my brother, Nick Young.  He will now be going to prison as a convicted terrorist.  It was that same day that I have never been more proud of my brother.  Some may wonder how that statement is possible, but I will tell you how – my brother although found guilty, walked out of that courtroom with his dignity and his conscience intact.  He faced his charges head on and refused to stand down and demanded that his story and his side be told.  He demanded his constitutional rights.   He would not take a plea deal out of fear and he would not falsely accuse anyone or bear false witness to anything, just to save himself.  He stood like a man and fought with all the strength of his heart.   What I witnessed in that courtroom was more of a public lynching than a terrorism trial.  I saw my brother wipe away tears, but he always kept his head held high.  I stand here today to say that the fight is not over, until we stop fighting.
 
My brother was targeted by the government for over 6 years.  For over 6 years, they sent people, through the mosques, posing as friends, into his life.  This 6 plus year investigation ended with my brother decision to send a man, a government informant who posed as a friend for over 2 years, $245 worth of Google Play Cards.  This man had led my brother to believe that he was going to Syria to fight against dictator Assad and ‘help take down the man who was slaughtering Muslims, women and children in the streets’.  My brother cautioned him many times to ‘purify his intentions’.  He cautioned him about breaking the law.  He spoke to this ‘friend’ about how wonderful America was and that he could have a fruitful future here.  My brother many times said, he wanted to help Muslims, but would not break the law to do so.  All of this came out at trial.  It would also come out at trial (through the government’s own witness) that Nick is in fact a patriot and a lover of our country.  That he at many points of his life, considered joining the military…that he is a strong believer of our Constitution and has never spoken to anything anti-American.
 
My brother was a police officer of the Metro Transit Police Department for 13 years.  He prided himself in never having to use force in all 13 years.  Not so much as even having to pull out his pepper spray.  He apprehended a suspect in a robbery spree who pulled out a knife, just by talking to him.  For this, he received a Commendation from the DC US Attorney.  Nick told numerous stories about how he would walk up to people on the street who were hurting and ask them if they were ok; because to him, that job meant more that he was able to help people than to have authority over them.  My brother is sensitive and soft spoken, reflective and intelligent.  I have never so much as even heard him raise his voice. 
 
I still do not understand why my brother was deserving of such government scrutiny year after year.  I was shocked when he broke the news to me back in 2010 that the FBI had questioned him in such a manner over a guy who he barely knew, a guy who he had only met in passing on his college campus.  I was further shocked to learn that they had also questioned my mom; lied to her and left her in hysterics at this same time.  My heart was broken when I learned during the trial that a coworker had reported my brother as suspicious back in 2008 – he grew a beard, he left a Quran in the break room at work, and he traveled to make Hajj.  Those I learned were the ‘suspicious’ activities of my brother.
 
In coming to terms with my brother’s arrest a year and a half ago, I knew something wasn’t right but I had no way of contextualizing it.  I had no frame of reference for the injustice he was facing, so I started digging.  I started reading, researching, educating myself.  I have not stopped since.  My world was shaken to the core when I realized the justice system has been plagued with hundreds of injustices against Muslims in a post 9/11 America.  In the middle of the night, when I am all alone, I cried not just for my brother, but for all the families who were victims of terrible entrapment schemes, sting operation, and preemptive prosecutions.  Cases riddled with disturbing holes, secret courts, secret evidence, government witnesses testifying behind walls.  This is more like a movie than reality.  How did we get to this place?  And to what ends?  To understand this, I had to look into our nations history.  The Alien and Sedition Acts of the late eighteenth century, the suspension of Habeas Corpus during the Civil War, the persecution of war critics during WW1 and the Red Scare that followed it, the Internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, the McCarthy era hearings in the 1950s, the COINTELPRO program of the 1960s aimed at civil rights advocates and opponents of the Vietnam War.  It is clear to me that the persecutions of Muslims today will go down in the history books of generations to come as another shame of our nation.
 
My heart breaks a thousand ways for my brother each day.  I stand by him.  He is no terrorist.  I pray for leniency at sentencing.  I pray that perhaps his case has been able to open not just my eyes, but others as well.  This is not just a Muslim issue, it is an American issue and these persecutions will not stop until the people speak up.  I will stop at nothing for my voice to be heard and for my brother to be free. 

In solidarity,
Ashley Young

 
If my brothers case speaks to you, here are ways you can help:

 
1.  Write a letter to the judge, as an interested 3rd party, asking for leniency at sentencing –
  • Letters should be emailed to me directly, as I am personally compiling all of them for the lawyers to hand over – ash29young@gmail.com
  • Letters should be addressed to “The Honorable Judge Brinkema”
  • I found out from Nicks lawyer today that we can collect letters up until Feb. 13th
2.  If you live in the DC area, attend Nick’s sentencing.  Show the court and the press that people care about these issues.
 
February 23rd
9am
Room 700
 
Alexandria Federal Courthouse
401 Courthouse Sq
Alexandria VA 22314
 
3.  Send my brother a letter directly and let him know you care, let him know he is not forgotten and that there are people who stand with him.
 
Nicholas Young
Alexandria Detention Center
2001 Mill Rd
Alexandria VA 22314
 
4.  Donate to the Coalition for Civil Freedoms
 
They have been a beacon of hope to my family and hundreds of countless others as well.
 

 

 

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