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.
The Ohio 7’s politics were once shared by thousands of young New Left radicals. Despairing of organizing the proletariat in struggle, these radicals decided that the road to fighting this racist, exploitative system was “clandestine armed resistance” by a handful of dedicated leftists. Like the Weathermen a decade before them, the Ohio 7 were spurned by the “respectable” left. Although we Marxists do not share the political strategy of the Ohio 7, we have always forthrightly defended them against capitalist state repression. From a proletarian standpoint, their actions against imperialism and racist injustice were not crimes. They should not have served a day in prison.