13 December 2013
Drop Charges Against CUNY Protesters!
Over the past semester, the City University of New York (CUNY) administration has been on a tear to suppress leftist political activity. Its latest reprisal was to bring criminal charges against Khalil Vasquez and Tafadar Sourov for their role in protesting the closure of the Morales/Shakur Center at City College of New York (CCNY) on October 24. The administration had shut down the center, a meeting space for leftist, minority and other student and community groups, after weeks of demonstrations against war criminal David Petraeus teaching at CUNY and the return of the Reserve Officers Training Corps to campus.
Vasquez and Sourov, both of the Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee, had already been suspended from CCNY following the October 24 protest, as reported in our Young Spartacus pages (see “Rescind Suspensions of CCNY Protesters!”, WV No. 1034, 15 November). On November 22, at a CCNY disciplinary hearing regarding their suspension, both students pleaded “no contest and no admission of guilt.” As a result, they will be allowed to return to CCNY next semester, but the suspension will only be expunged from their record provided they stay in line by the lights of the administration. (read more...)
6 September 2013
Sentenced to 35 Years
Free Chelsea Manning!
Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning was sentenced by a military judge at the end of her court martial on August 21 to 35 years in prison with a dishonorable discharge for giving more than 700,000 classified military documents, diplomatic cables and war footage to WikiLeaks. After over three years of pretrial detention, which included torture in solitary confinement, she has been demoted and is now incarcerated in the military’s maximum-security prison at Leavenworth undergoing “the indoctrination process,” according to Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, during which all contact with the outside world is cut off. The persecution of Manning is a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s campaign against whistle-blowers and significantly its first conviction under the 1917 Espionage Act. It serves as a warning of what the government has in store for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and Edward Snowden for publicizing details of U.S. war atrocities and massive routine domestic spying.
In a statement to Obama requesting a presidential pardon, Manning referenced the crimes of U.S. imperialism in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo, and continued: “Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.” Manning released the classified documents in order to expose inhumanity and torture. In so doing, Manning performed a service to the working class internationally in helping lift the veil on U.S. imperialist barbarity. (read more...)
6 September 2013
Medical Release Denied
Free Lynne Stewart!
Lynne Stewart, 73 years old and terminally ill with Stage IV breast cancer, was again denied medical release from prison on August 9. Judge John G. Koeltl turned down her latest request on the grounds that the Federal Bureau of Prisons must first make a motion in favor of such a release. This ruling throws the case back to the very prison authorities carrying out the vendetta against this outspoken leftist lawyer with a history of defending radicals, black militants and the poor. Federal prison director, Charles E. Samuels Jr., refused to release Stewart last June, falsely and vindictively citing an improvement in her health! Stewart, whose cancer has metastasized to her lungs, bones, lymph nodes and shoulder, is facing death within the prison walls if she is not released soon.
In a 2005 “war on terror” show trial, Stewart was framed up and convicted for giving material support to terrorism when representing Egyptian Islamic fundamentalist cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. The alleged “material support” was to communicate her client’s views to Reuters news service. This verdict gave the government a green light to prosecute lawyers for the alleged crimes of their clients and trampled on the basic right to counsel and free speech. (read more...)
12 July 2013
Asylum Now for Edward Snowden!
JULY 8—Five weeks after the London Guardian printed accounts of the massive collection of phone records and Internet spying by the National Security Agency (NSA), former agency contractor Edward Snowden, who provided the documentation, by all accounts remains holed up in the transit section of a Moscow airport. Stung by Snowden’s revelations, the U.S. imperialists are seeking their pound of flesh. The State Department weeks ago revoked Snowden’s passport to prevent his travel as Washington fights to return him to the U.S., where he would face decades in prison on charges of espionage, theft and conversion of government property. Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia to their credit have offered him political asylum. In tearing yet another veil off the U.S. spying machine, Snowden performed a great service to workers and the oppressed, in the U.S. and internationally, who are the ultimate target of the capitalist rulers’ apparatus of state repression.
Early speculation that Ecuador would offer asylum to Snowden was dashed when President Rafael Correa backtracked, stating on June 27 that such a request could only be considered if Snowden were on Ecuadorian territory. This came after Vice President Joe Biden worked the phones to put pressure on leaders of Snowden’s possible destination countries. The arm-twisting culminated last week in a chilling act of imperial arrogance against the president of impoverished Bolivia, Evo Morales. After Morales announced in Moscow that he would consider giving asylum to Snowden, Spain, Portugal, Italy and France, clearly acting at the behest of the U.S., closed their airspace on July 2 to block Morales’ plane on the return trip to La Paz, claiming they had information that Snowden was on board. Diverted from their planned route, which had been agreed to in advance, pilots in fear of running out of fuel were forced to land in Vienna, where the plane was kept for 14 hours before being allowed to depart. (read more...)
12 July 2013
Sadistic Feds Deny Lynne Stewart Release
Free Her Now!
The Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Charles E. Samuels Jr., has denied compassionate release for 73-year-old leftist lawyer Lynne Stewart, whose health is rapidly deteriorating due to Stage IV breast cancer that has spread to her lungs, lymph nodes and shoulders. With a long history of defending radicals, black militants and the poor, Stewart was convicted in 2005 in a “war on terror” show trial, along with her interpreter, Mohamed Yousry, and her paralegal, Ahmed Abdel Sattar, for her vigorous defense of a blind Egyptian cleric imprisoned for an alleged plot to blow up New York City landmarks in the 1990s. Originally sentenced to 28 months in prison, Stewart was resentenced in 2010 to ten years at the instigation of the Obama administration. We noted at the time that this was effectively a death sentence, which the Feds are clearly determined to carry out.
Samuels, appointed head of America’s vast dungeon system by Attorney General Eric Holder in 2011, has spat on the demands of over 20,000 people who have signed a petition for Stewart’s release, ignoring as well the recommendations of the warden of the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Texas, where Stewart languishes. Stewart is too weak to receive medical treatment to arrest the cancer, and her white blood cell count has dropped to dangerous levels. Her husband, Ralph Poynter, has fought valiantly for her release and return to her family in New York City. In a statement following the Feds’ decision—an act of calculated cruelty—Poynter declared, “We shall not stand by idly while the Federal Bureau of Prisons murders Lynne Stewart.” (read more...)
12 July 2013
Guantánamo: Fear and Hunger
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
We print below a column by class-war prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal transcribed from a June 6 prisonradio.org recording.
The word “Guantánamo” has become a watchword for the world. It is a temple of state terror, of imperial fear and American hypocrisy.
Since 2002, it has been transformed from a U.S. naval base on Cuban soil—against the wishes of the Cuban government, it must be said—to a global torture center and an interrogation chamber. Opened under Bush/Cheney and maintained under Obama, it has been a detention center designed for perpetual detention to hundreds of men and boys. An international outcry forced the government to release over 500 men back to half a dozen countries. (read more...)
12 July 2013
Protest Prison Harassment of Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, renowned journalist and supporter of the Philadelphia MOVE organization, is America’s foremost class-war prisoner. Mumia was railroaded to death row in 1982 on false charges of killing a police officer. In December 2011, the death sentence was removed, but Mumia still remains sentenced to life in prison without parole. The following is a July 6 letter from the Partisan Defense Committee to John E. Wetzel of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
We write to protest recent administrative measures taken against political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. Prison officials suspended Mr. Jamal’s access to telephone communication for two weeks as punishment for a phone interview with Philadelphia attorney Michael Coard, on his WURD program, “Radio Courtroom.” (read more...)
14 June 2013
Exposed U.S. Atrocities and Lies
Truth-Teller on Trial: Free Bradley Manning!
FORT MEADE—On June 3, the court-martial of Bradley Manning, an army intelligence analyst who released classified information in order to expose the barbarism of U.S. military occupation and domination in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, finally began. In more than three years of pretrial detention aimed at destroying the mind, body and soul of this whistleblower, Manning was held in torturous conditions of solitary confinement, deprived of sleep, clothing and even his eyeglasses, while being taunted and poked at continually by sadistic guards. Yet Manning courageously held fast to his political purpose: to expose evidence of monstrous war crimes and everyday U.S. overlordship of Third World countries.
On Saturday, June 1, some 1,000 supporters rallied in blistering heat outside the Fort Meade Army base near Washington, D.C., to demand freedom for Bradley Manning. Police blocked roads leading to the protest to obstruct people from joining or seeing the rally and march. Print, radio and television journalists from a large number of countries covered the protest, but the only mainstream American media present was the right-wing Fox News. The conspicuous absence of the U.S. capitalist press was consistent with its deliberate efforts to bury Bradley Manning’s case because his truth-telling effectively puts the U.S. government on trial. Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg proclaimed Manning a hero for all humanity, addressing the audience of military veterans, lesbian and gay rights activists, civil libertarians, antiwar radicals and left organizations. (read more...)
31 May 2013
Remember the MOVE Massacre
May 1985 Bombing: Racist State Terror
On 13 May 1985, the Philadelphia police, with the cooperation of Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI, consciously carried out racist state murder. Acting on the orders of black Democratic mayor Wilson Goode and the Reagan White House, the cops dropped a satchel with C-4 explosives onto the MOVE organization’s Osage Avenue home. The explosion and ensuing firestorm killed eleven black people, including five children, and destroyed an entire city block, leaving hundreds homeless. The bombing capped a 12-hour cop siege during which over 10,000 rounds of ammunition were fired into the house. Firefighters were prevented by police from tackling the blaze for more than an hour, and the cops shot at anyone trying to escape the inferno. There were only two survivors: 13-year-old Birdie Africa and Ramona Africa, who was sent to prison for seven years for the “crime” of still being alive.
This massacre was the culmination of years of police harassment, beatings and hundreds of arrests of members of this mostly black back-to-nature commune known for denouncing “the system” and defending its right to armed self-defense. In August 1978, 600 Philly cops had surrounded and attacked MOVE’s Powelton Village compound, unleashing a barrage of gunfire. Nine MOVE members were framed up and sentenced to between 30 and 100 years in prison after a cop was killed in the ferocious police crossfire. Merle Africa died in prison in 1998; the others are still locked away in Pennsylvania’s prison hellholes. (read more...)
26 May 2013
Drop the Charges Against Victimized USC Students
The following letter to Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer was written in response to a racist cop rampage against a black student party at the University of Southern California.
The Partisan Defense Committee demands that all charges be dropped against the six black USC students assaulted and arrested after the Los Angeles Police Department broke up a largely black party at USC on May 4th. Following an alleged noise complaint, some 79 armed cops in riot gear insulted, beat and arrested students. One is facing a trumped up felony charge of interfering with the police and five others are facing misdemeanor charges of failing to disperse.
The police attack on this black graduation party was a racist provocation intended to intimidate all minority students at USC, where blacks make up only 5% of the student body. These arrests are just the most recent in a string of police harassment and assaults against black and Latino students on campus, including increased ID checks and manhandling of minority students. The PDC stands in solidarity with the protests against this racist LAPD raid and we demand that all the charges be dropped now!
17 May 2013
USC: Riot Cops Raid Black Student Party
LOS ANGELES—In the early morning hours on May 4, University of Southern California (USC) students celebrating the end of classes were attending two off-campus parties across the street from each other. One party attracted mainly white students, the other mostly black and Latino students. When cops responded to complaints of noise, the former gathering was “treated with respect,” according to one participant, while the other was treated to a phalanx of 79 fully armed cops in riot gear, with a helicopter hovering overhead. The students “were herded like animals, beaten, arrested, insulted, and quite frankly, abused,” said one partygoer. It made no difference that the party had been registered with the university and that student IDs were checked at the door. Cops piled on top of students and assaulted them, inflicting multiple injuries. Six students were arrested and jailed overnight. “They were acting like they were going to war with us,” said Jason Sneed, one of the arrested black students. Now free on bail, they still face trumped-up charges, such as failing to disperse and interfering with the police. We demand: drop all the charges!
This cop rampage was a direct provocation against minority students, intended to send a graphic message of intimidation. But it did not go down without protest. On May 6, more than a hundred students held a sit-in on campus. The next day, at an open forum moderated by members of the USC administration and the LAPD, the 1,200-seat ballroom could not hold all the students, community members and alumni of all races who showed up to protest the cop attack, including attendees from both of the parties. For the campus administration, the forum was, in the words of an organizer, “an attempt at reconciliation and at collaboration” designed to head off any further protest. The LAPD, naturally, blamed the victims of the police brutality by claiming that “a can or bottle was thrown” and brazenly denying that the cop rampage was “race-based.” But when the LAPD’s South Bureau commander Bill Scott asked, “How many people—just by a show of hands—think this incident was based on race?” the hands of virtually everybody in the room shot up. One woman asked if she could raise two. (read more...)
17 May 2013
FBI’s Racist “Anti-Terror” Vendetta Against Assata Shakur
Although the government largely succeeded in destroying the Black Panther Party decades ago, the state vendetta against these courageous fighters for black freedom is not only alive and well, but thriving under the administration of the first black president and attorney general. To great fanfare, two weeks ago the FBI named Assata Shakur (formerly known as Joanne Chesimard) as the first woman to be placed on the FBI’s list of “Most Wanted Terrorists.” Shakur was convicted in 1977 on frame-up murder charges in the shooting death of New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster on 2 May 1973 and sentenced to life plus 33 years. Shakur escaped from prison in 1979, and five years later was granted political asylum in the Cuban deformed workers state, where she has resided for the past 29 years.
Declaring a 65-year-old grandmother one of the world’s deadliest “terrorists” may have many scratching their heads and wondering what the Feds are smoking. But this is deadly serious. At a May 2 press conference, the Feds and New Jersey State Police announced they were doubling the bounty on Shakur to $2 million. In an unprecedented move, the FBI placed billboards with her likeness, reading “Wanted: Terrorist Joanne Chesimard a/k/a Assata Shakur,” along New Jersey highways. (read more...)
3 May 2013
AIM Leader Leonard Peltier: 37 Years in Prison Hell
Leonard Peltier is known throughout the world as one of the most prominent political prisoners in the United States. His 37 years of incarceration due to his courageous activism in the American Indian Movement (AIM) has come to symbolize the U.S. rulers’ racist repression of the country’s indigenous people, survivors of centuries of genocidal oppression.
Peltier emerged as a Native American leader in the late 1960s. In response to the hideous oppression he experienced and saw all around him, he became involved in struggles for Native American rights and joined AIM. It was in his capacity as a trusted AIM activist that he came to assist the Oglala Lakota people of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in the mid 1970s. AIM came into the government’s crosshairs because it was attempting to combat the enforced poverty of Native Americans and the continued theft of their lands by the Feds and the energy companies, which were intent on grabbing rich uranium deposits under Sioux land in western South Dakota. The hated Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the FBI turned Pine Ridge into a war zone as they trained and armed thugs to terrorize and crush Indian activists. Between 1973 and 1976, these forces carried out more than 300 attacks, killing at least 69 people. (read more...)
3 May 2013
Defend the NATO 3!
For nearly a year, Brent Betterly, Jared Chase, and Brian Jacob Church have been locked away in Cook County Jail, facing possible 40-year prison stretches on an array of “terrorism” and other trumped-up charges, with bail set at $1.5 million each. Last spring, these Occupy activists traveled from Florida to Chicago in the lead-up to protests against a May 20 summit of the U.S.-dominated NATO imperialist military alliance. The city was under a virtual state of siege orchestrated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with thousands of National Guardsmen, troops and cops mobilized to shield the summit from over 10,000 protesters. On May 16, Betterly, Chase and Church—now known as the NATO 3—were arrested for a supposed plot to make four Molotov cocktails and hurl them at police stations and other targets. The highly publicized arrests were part of a campaign to brand the protests as violent, in order to chill opposition to the NATO war criminals who have the blood of untold thousands in Afghanistan and elsewhere on their hands.
As the Partisan Defense Committee wrote in a 21 May 2012 protest letter to the Cook County State’s Attorney (printed in WV No. 1003, 25 May 2012), “The arrests of Betterly, Church and Chase have all the earmarks of a classic case of police entrapment and provocation.” The arrests came less than a week after the defendants had posted a video on YouTube of a Chicago cop who had pulled their car over, threatening them: “We’ll come look for you, each and every one of you.” (read more...)
3 May 2013
Free Tinley Park Anti-Fascists!
Last May, some 18 anti-racist militants broke up a gathering of fascists in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park called to organize a “White Nationalist Economic Summit.” Among the vermin sent scurrying were some with links to the Stormfront Web site run by a former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon. Such fascist meetings are not merely right-wing discussion clubs but organizing centers for race terror against black people, Jews, immigrants, gays and anyone else the white-supremacists consider subhuman. For their basic act of social sanitation, five of the anti-fascist fighters were sentenced by a Cook County court to prison terms of three-and-a-half to six years on charges of “armed violence.” (See “Freedom Now for Tinley Park 5!” WV No. 1018, 22 February.)
The Spartacist League and the Partisan Defense Committee stand by these militants and call on workers, leftists and anti-racist fighters to demand freedom for the Tinley Park Five. The fascists are a deadly threat to the integrated labor movement, which should be in the forefront of efforts to crush them in the egg. Four of the five who were sentenced—Jason Sutherlin, Cody Lee Sutherlin, Dylan Sutherlin and Alex Stuck—have agreed to receive $25 monthly stipends the PDC sends to class-war prisoners. The PDC program, which includes additional gifts during the holiday season, serves not merely to alleviate some of the harshness of incarceration but also as a message of solidarity from those outside prison walls. (read more...)