Class-War Prisoner Jaan Laaman Released
After nearly 37 long years, Jaan Laaman, the last of the remaining Ohio 7 still in prison, was released from the U.S. Penitentiary in Pine Knot, Kentucky, on May 15. Laaman had been convicted for his role in a radical group that took credit for bank "expropriations" and bombings of symbols of U.S. imperialism, such as military and corporate offices, in the late 1970s and '80s. Laaman faced prison torture, having been isolated in solitary confinement for extended periods. (read more…)
Class-War Prisoner Jeremy Hammond Released
On March 5, after nearly a decade of unjust incarceration, anarchist Jeremy Hammond was released from federal custody. Hammond had been serving a ten-year sentence for hacking the computers of the Stratfor private security firm. He passed on emails exposing Stratfor's spying on leftists at the behest of corporations and capitalist governments to WikiLeaks and dozens of media outlets. As he approached eligibility for early release, he was hauled before a grand jury assembled to witchhunt WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Like Chelsea Manning, Hammond refused to testify and was jailed in contempt of court until the grand jury expired in March 2020. He was then remanded back to the federal Bureau of Prisons to serve out the remainder of his sentence. We welcome his release noting he never should have spent a day behind bars in the first place. (read more…)
21 February 2020
Mumia Abu-Jamal: Still Fighting for His Freedom
This year marks the 40th year in prison—the first 30 spent on death row—for class-war prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. Mumia is a former Black Panther Party spokesman, MOVE supporter and award-winning journalist. Condemned to prison hell in a textbook frame-up that featured racist jury-rigging, evidence tampering, phony ballistics, terrorization of witnesses, lying prosecutors and a judge who boasted “I’m going to help them fry the n----r,” Mumia was convicted and sentenced to be executed for the shooting death in December 1981 of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Both Pennsylvania and federal courts have rubber-stamped the multiple violations of Mumia’s constitutional rights and turned a blind eye to the mountains of evidence of his innocence—including the confession of Arnold Beverly that he shot Faulkner. In 2001, a U.S. District Court judge overturned the death sentence and ten years later the Philly D.A.’s office dropped its efforts to legally lynch Mumia, content to watch him suffer the slow death of life in prison with no chance of parole. (read more…)
21 February 2020
MOVE Speakers Address Holiday Appeal
Enduring some 40 years of prison hell and persistent persecution and victimization, the seven survivors of the MOVE 9 have over the past 20 months all been released—Debbie, Janine, Janet, Mike, Eddie, and, most recently, Delbert and Chuck. Merle Africa died in prison in 1998 as did Phil in 2015, both under suspicious circumstances. The MOVE 9 were framed up on bogus conspiracy and murder charges stemming from the killing of an officer who died in the cops’ own cross fire during a murderous police assault on their Philadelphia Powelton Village home in August 1978. Despite evidence of their innocence, the MOVE 9 were sentenced to 30 to 100 years behind bars. For years, they were continually denied parole for refusing to confess to a crime they did not commit. (read more…)
21 February 2020
Nina Droz Released!
After nearly three years in U.S. Federal custody, Puerto Rican activist and class-war prisoner Nina Droz Franco has finally been freed. On February 7, Droz was let out of a halfway house in Puerto Rico, where she had been held since last November after release from prison in Florida. She was framed up on bogus charges that she had tried to burn down a bank in San Juan during a national work stoppage on May Day 2017 (see “Nina Droz Sentenced—Free Her Now!” WV No. 1136, 29 June 2018). Droz was targeted for her political activism and railroaded by the vindictive U.S. colonial overlords, who, with the help of their local lackeys, have long bloodily repressed, looted and starved the Puerto Rican people. For the right of independence for Puerto Rico! (read more…)
21 February 2020
Free Xinachtli (Alvaro Luna Hernandez)!
Alvaro Luna Hernandez, who prefers to be called Xinachtli, is the newest recipient of the PDC class-war prisoner stipend program. Xinachtli is currently serving a 50-year prison sentence, framed up in 1996 after he disarmed a Texas sheriff who was trying to shoot him. Targeted for his political convictions, Xinachtli is a Chicano activist who has fought tenaciously against the oppression of Mexican Americans and the wretched conditions of prisoners in U.S. dungeons. (read more…)
7 February 2020
MOVE Member Delbert Africa Paroled After 41 Years
On January 18, Delbert Orr Africa was finally released from prison. Along with the rest of the MOVE 9, Delbert was framed up for the killing of a police officer during a massive cop assault on MOVE’s Powelton Village home in Philadelphia in 1978. Five MOVE members—Janet, Janine, Debbie, Eddie and Mike Africa—have been paroled over the last 18 months. Phil and Merle Africa died in prison under suspicious circumstances. Chuck Africa is the last of the nine still locked up. (read more...)
7 February 2020
NYPD Hands Off “FTP” Subway Protesters!
On January 31, hundreds of activists gathered in subway stations across New York City to protest cop terror on the trains and demand free, fully accessible public transit. “FTP3” was the third in a series of “Fuck the Police” demonstrations against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) that have taken place since November (see WV No. 1168, 17 January). (read more...)
13 December 2019
Free the Class-War Prisoners!
34th Annual Holiday Appeal
(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)
This year’s Holiday Appeal marks the 34th year of the Partisan Defense Committee’s program of sending monthly stipends as an expression of solidarity to those imprisoned for standing up to racist capitalist repression and imperialist depredation. This program revived a tradition initiated by the International Labor Defense under James P. Cannon, its founder and first secretary (1925-28). The PDC currently sends stipends to seven class-war prisoners. (read more...)
13 December 2019
Free Julian Assange Now!
Since WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London by British cops last April, he has been languishing in the maximum security Belmarsh prison, with a hearing on extradition to the U.S. scheduled for February. Both Democrats and Republicans have been screaming for his head on a spike going back to 2010 when WikiLeaks released a trove of documents provided by Chelsea Manning, then an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army. That material exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and imperialist turpitude elsewhere. The Democrats especially have it in for Assange, who they scapegoat for supposedly having cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 election after WikiLeaks released a huge cache of Democratic National Committee emails. The U.S. has indicted Assange on 17 charges under the 1917 Espionage Act, each carrying a sentence of ten years. No extradition! Drop the charges! Free Assange! For unobstructed passage to any country that grants him asylum! (read more...)
1 November 2019
Free All Imprisoned Catalan Independentistes Now!
Independence for Catalonia! For a Workers Republic!
The following article is a translation of a supplement issued on October 19 by our comrades of the Ligue trotskyste de France and published in French, Spanish and Catalan. The Catalan version was distributed at a protest of at least 350,000 on October 26 in Barcelona against the jailing of Catalan nationalist leaders.
Massive demonstrations that erupted on October 14 in Catalonia expressed anger over the sentencing of Catalan politicians and activists to prison terms ranging from nine to 13 years. In a show trial that triggered a wave of Castilian chauvinism against the Catalans, leaders of Catalan nationalist parties, including Oriol Junqueras, former vice president of the Generalitat of Catalonia (the autonomous government), and Carme Forcadell, former president of the Parlament, were convicted for having organized the October 2017 referendum on independence [when 90 percent voted for an independent republic]. The charges are outrageous: “sedition,” “disobedience,” “embezzlement.” Not only were nine of the 12 defendants sentenced to prison, but the Supreme Court renewed a European arrest warrant against Carles Puigdemont, the former president of the Generalitat, who fled to Belgium in October 2017. These convictions and the persecution of prominent Catalan bourgeois politicians are an ominous warning to the oppressed Catalan, Basque and Galician nations that the “indissoluble unity” of the Spanish prison house of peoples is not negotiable.. (read more...)
23 August 2019
Honoring a Class-War Prisoner
After more than three decades of torment in America’s dungeons, class-war prisoner Tom Manning died on July 30 at the federal penitentiary in Hazelton, West Virginia. The official cause of death was a heart attack, but it was the sadistic prison authorities who were responsible for the death of Manning, one of the last two incarcerated Ohio 7 leftists. In retaliation for his unwavering opposition to racial oppression and U.S. imperialism and his continued political activism, the jailers treated his medical needs with deliberate indifference and delayed necessary medication. His comrade and former prisoner Ray Luc Levasseur bitterly remarked, “Supporters scrambled to get a lawyer in to see him, but death arrived first.” Although we Marxists do not share the political strategy of the Ohio 7, we have always forthrightly defended them against capitalist state repression. (read more...)
26 July 2019
Eddie Africa Paroled
On June 21, after being incarcerated for over 40 years in Pennsylvania’s dungeons, Eddie Africa was released, the fifth of the MOVE 9 to be paroled over the past year. MOVE, a largely black, back-to-nature radical group, has been a target of the racist capitalist state since the early 1970s. The MOVE 9 were sentenced to 30-100 years for the death of a cop killed in police cross fire during a murderous siege of MOVE’s Powelton Village home in Philadelphia on 8 August 1978. The state vendetta against MOVE reached a peak with the 1985 bombing of their Osage Avenue home by the police and the Feds, which killed eleven people, including five children, and reduced a whole black neighborhood to ashes. The bombing was ordered by black Democratic Philly mayor Wilson Goode.
Over the years, prison authorities and guards heaped further vicious abuse on the MOVE 9. In celebrating Eddie’s release, class-war prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is a former Black Panther and longtime MOVE supporter, wrote: “Forty years is far more than 40 years if your name is Eddie Africa. That’s because MOVE people face the fury of county and state officials, and that meant a kind of cruelty that most prisoners have never seen nor imagined.” Two of the MOVE 9, Merle and Phil Africa, both died under suspicious circumstances behind bars. (read more...)
31 May 2019
Louisiana Black Panther
Albert Woodfox Chronicles Prison Hell
Earlier this year, Grove Press released the memoir of Albert Woodfox, Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement; My Story of Transformation and Hope. The book is a testament to incredible courage and tenacity in the face of brutal physical and psychological punishment and illuminates the hideous, racist reality of the capitalist injustice system in this society based on the exploitation of labor and founded on chattel slavery. Solitary tells the story of the Angola 3 (Woodfox and his comrades Robert King and Herman Wallace), who collectively spent over a century in the torture of solitary confinement—mostly at Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison. While there, the three formed a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP). The decades that the Angola 3 were locked away in solitary were retribution for their joining the BPP and organizing protests and legal challenges against unspeakable prison conditions.
Solitary depicts the harsh reality of black life in America—on both sides of the prison bars. As Woodfox recalls of his coming of age in a New Orleans ghetto: “We always knew the police picked up the men in our neighborhood because they were black and for no other reason.” Woodfox graphically describes the all too common grinding poverty and racism that drove his mother to prostitution, and himself to fall into the gang scene. He recounts, “When money was tight and there was no food in the house I shoplifted bread and canned goods. It never felt like a crime to me, it was survival.” (read more...)
31 May 2019
Janet and Janine Africa Paroled
Free All the MOVE Prisoners!
On May 25, MOVE members Janet Holloway Africa, 68, and Janine Phillips Africa, 63, walked out of prison on parole. Their release after more than 40 years in Pennsylvania dungeons follows the paroling of Debbie and Michael Africa Sr. last year. All of the MOVE 9 were jailed and sentenced to 30 to 100 years in 1978, framed up for the killing of a Philadelphia police officer during the cop siege of MOVE’s Powelton Village home. Despite being model prisoners, Janet and Janine had been repeatedly denied parole since 2008 for “lack of remorse.” Merle Africa and Phil Africa died in jail under suspicious circumstances. Chuck, Delbert and Eddie Africa are still behind bars. Free them now!
Soon after the predominantly black, radical back-to-nature MOVE commune emerged in the early 1970s, it became the target of vicious cop terror, not least because the group championed the right to armed self-defense. Janine’s infant son, Life, was trampled and killed in 1976 when police invaded the MOVE house and knocked her over, baby in arms. On 8 August 1978, after a months-long siege, nearly 600 cops surrounded the house to evict the residents. Police unleashed a barrage of gunfire, then stormed the home. One officer died in the cops’ own cross fire. At least eight witnesses testified that no gunshots came from the house. Weapons the cops said they found inside had no fingerprint of any MOVE member on them. The MOVE 9 were all innocent. (read more...)
17 May 2019
Progressive D.A. Drops Appeal, Continues Vendetta
Free Mumia Now!
No Illusions in the Capitalist Courts!
On April 17, Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner abandoned his effort to prevent class-war prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal from challenging his frame-up conviction for the 1981 killing of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Last December, Judge Leon Tucker of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas threw out the state Supreme Court decisions from 1998 to 2012 that rubber-stamped Mumia’s frame-up because a judge on that court had given an “appearance of bias.” The judge, Ronald Castille, had been the D.A. during Mumia’s first appeal of his conviction and sentence. Making clear that the decades-long vendetta against Mumia will not end on his watch, Krasner proclaimed that the decision to withdraw his appeal of Tucker’s ruling “does not mean Mr. Abu-Jamal will be freed or get a new trial.” According to Faulkner’s widow Maureen, Krasner promised “that he would do everything within his power to keep my husband’s remorseless killer in prison for the rest of his life.”
Krasner rode into office supported by a host of liberal activists and fake socialists as a “progressive” D.A. and a pillar of the decarceration movement. Krasner had pursued the appeal out of expressed concern that Tucker’s ruling would open the door to challenges by all inmates victimized by Castille’s dual role as prosecutor and judge—and some might then actually be decarcerated. According to Krasner, he can now rest easy because a supplemental ruling by Tucker narrows the scope of his order. (read more...)
19 April 2019
Free Julian Assange!
APRIL 15—Last Thursday, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, was dragged out of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London by British cops and arrested. He is now being held in the maximum security Belmarsh prison on an extradition request from Washington. Assange, an Australian citizen, has been in the crosshairs of U.S. imperialism for years. Both Democrats and Republicans have been howling for his head ever since 2010 when WikiLeaks released a trove of documents provided by Chelsea Manning, then an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, that exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. No extradition! Free Julian Assange now! For unobstructed passage to any country that grants him asylum!
Assange resided in the embassy for seven years, having been granted political asylum by Ecuador’s then president Rafael Correa. At the time, he was facing deportation to Sweden on bogus allegations of “sexual molestation” and “rape,” which was simply a step toward handing him over to U.S. authorities. Correa’s successor, the U.S. imperialist lackey Lenín Moreno, revoked Assange’s asylum (as well as the Ecuadorean citizenship he had acquired). Trampling on the sovereignty of his country, Moreno threw open the embassy doors to the British cops. (read more...)
22 March 2019
Jailed for Refusing to Fink on Julian Assange
Free Chelsea Manning!
Former Army intelligence analyst and truth-teller Chelsea Manning has been jailed again by the vindictive U.S. capitalist state. Tortured in prison for seven years by the Obama regime for exposing U.S. imperialist war crimes, Manning was thrown back behind bars on March 8 because she refused to testify before a grand jury in a secretive star-chamber inquiry against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Manning declared: “I will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to, particularly one that has been historically used to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech.” Held in contempt of federal court for her principled stand, Manning was sent to jail, where she could remain for a year or more as the investigation proceeds. Release Chelsea Manning now!
In 2010, WikiLeaks published files leaked by Manning that cast a spotlight on the bloody work of U.S. imperialism in Iraq and Afghanistan. The best-known of these is the graphic aerial video, dubbed “Collateral Murder,” which shows a U.S. Apache helicopter gunship massacring at least 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007 while the Army pilots gloated over the carnage. After releasing the video, WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and classified documents recording more murder, torture and rape carried out by the imperialists. (read more...)
22 February 2019
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Now!
Progressive D.A. Continues State Vendetta
On January 25, Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner announced that his office was appealing the December 27 ruling of Judge Leon Tucker of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, in which Mumia Abu-Jamal won the right to challenge his frame-up conviction. A former Black Panther spokesman, MOVE supporter and award-winning journalist, Mumia has been in prison hell for 37 years—30 of them on death row—falsely convicted of killing Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in December 1981. Tucker’s ruling threw out the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions from 1998 to 2012 that rubber-stamped Mumia’s frame-up, because a judge on that court gave an “appearance of bias.” The judge, Ronald Castille, had been the D.A. during Mumia’s first appeal of his conviction and death sentence.
We welcomed Judge Tucker’s ruling and protest Krasner’s appeal, a further demonstration of his commitment to keep Mumia entombed for life. The ink was barely dry on Tucker’s decision when a host of liberals, radical activists and reformist socialists stepped up their campaign calling on Philly’s top prosecutor “to do the right thing.” Krasner is “doing the right thing”—for the capitalist class that he was elected to serve. The D.A.’s office, no less than the cops, courts and prisons, is at the core of the state machinery of repression whose purpose is to defend the profits and rule of the bourgeoisie. (read more...)
18 January 2019
PDC Holiday Appeal
Support the Class-War Prisoners
(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)
This year’s Holiday Appeal marks the 33rd year of the Partisan Defense Committee’s program of sending monthly stipends as an expression of solidarity to those imprisoned for standing up to racist capitalist repression and imperialist depredation. This program revived a tradition initiated by the International Labor Defense under James P. Cannon, its founder and first secretary (1925-28). The PDC currently sends stipends to eleven class-war prisoners.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a former Black Panther Party spokesman, a well-known supporter of the MOVE organization and an award-winning journalist known as “the voice of the voiceless.” Framed up for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer, Mumia was sentenced to death explicitly for his political views. Federal and state courts have repeatedly refused to consider evidence proving Mumia’s innocence, including the sworn confession of Arnold Beverly that he, not Mumia, shot and killed the policeman. In 2011, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office dropped its longstanding effort to legally lynch Mumia, condemning him to life in prison with no chance of parole. In 2016, attorneys for Mumia filed a petition under Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) seeking to overturn the denial of his four prior PCRA claims by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. On December 27, Judge Leon Tucker of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas granted Mumia’s petition, allowing him to argue before an appellate court for reversal of his frame-up conviction (see article, page 8). (read more...)
18 January 2019
Mumia Wins Right to Appeal Frame-Up Conviction
Mumia Abu-Jamal Is Innocent—Free Him Now!
After 37 years behind bars—30 of them on death row—class-war prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal has won the right to challenge his frame-up conviction for the killing of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. On December 27, Judge Leon Tucker of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas threw out the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions from 1998 to 2012 that rubber-stamped Mumia’s frame-up on the basis that one of its justices, Ronald Castille, refused to recuse himself. Castille had been Philly district attorney during Mumia’s first appeal of his conviction and death sentence in the late 1980s.
Judge Tucker was ruling on Mumia’s appeal based on the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision Williams v. Pennsylvania. In the Williams case, Castille as D.A. authorized his prosecutors to seek the death penalty. When Terrance Williams later appealed, Castille was among the judges on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court who affirmed the conviction and sentence. The U.S. Supreme Court held that Castille’s “significant, personal involvement as a prosecutor in a critical decision in the defendant’s case” raised “the risk of actual bias in the judicial proceeding.” (read more...)