23 May 2008

Class-Struggle Defense Notes

Reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 915, 23 May 2008.

Hands Off San Francisco Eight!

Another outrageous chapter in the decades-long government vendetta against former members of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army (BLA) was opened in January 2007, when police charged eight former Panthers, including two already in prison, with the 1971 murder of San Francisco police officer John Young, as well as conspiring to kill police officers between 1968 and 1973 as members of the BLA. Those charged were Richard Brown, Richard O’Neal, Francisco Torres, Ray Boudreaux, Henry W. (Hank) Jones, Harold Taylor, Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom). Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth is still being sought. This January, the conspiracy charges were dropped against five due to the California statute of limitations, but because the other three were “out-of-state” (i.e., imprisoned!), they are still charged! While charges were dropped against Richard O’Neal in February, seven of the men still face murder charges.

For 37 years the state has relentlessly tried to pin the murder on these men. In 1973, charges brought against John Bowman (who recently died), Harold Taylor and Ruben Scott (now thought to be a government witness) were obtained through torture by the New Orleans police, including through beatings and the placing of electric probes on their genitals and an electric cattle prod in each man’s anus. In 1975 the charges were dismissed after the government’s concealment of the grisly coercion was revealed, but year after year the prosecutors continued pursuing indictments. Drop the charges against the San Francisco Eight!

Attorney Stuart Hanlon, representing Herman Bell, compared the state of California’s collusion with the FBI in engineering the cover-up of evidence in this case to the 27-year imprisonment of former Black Panther leader Geronimo ji Jaga (Pratt), whom he also represented. Pratt was a target of the FBI’s murderous COINTELPRO campaign, convicted for a crime that the state knew he did not commit. He won his freedom in 1997.

The PDC has sent a letter of protest to the California governor and contributed to the SF8 defense. Make checks payable to Agape/CDHR and send to: Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, P.O. Box 90221, Pasadena, CA 91109. Go to www.freethesf8.org for the SF8’s next court date, to be held at 850 Bryant Street, Courtroom 23 in San Francisco.

Parole Denied—Free the MOVE Prisoners!

Two more of the eight surviving MOVE 9 prisoners, Eddie Africa and Michael Africa, have vindictively been denied parole after enduring some 30 years in the hellish Pennsylvania prison system. In April, Debbie Africa, Janine Africa and Janet Africa were turned down. Phil Africa and Delbert Africa are still awaiting decisions, and Chuck Africa is eligible for review later this year. Merle Africa died in prison in 1998. The MOVE 9, members of a radical back-to-nature group that proclaimed the right to armed self-defense, were sentenced to 30 to 100 years in a frame-up trial for the “crime” of surviving a horrendous police attack on their home (see “Parole Hearing Approaches: Free the MOVE Prisoners!” WV No. 910, 14 March). The MOVE prisoners are innocent and should not have spent a day in jail. We demand the immediate, unconditional release of the MOVE prisoners!

Letters demanding freedom for the MOVE prisoners should be sent to the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, 1101 South Front Street, Suite 5100, Harrisburg, PA 17104-2517. The names for each of the commissioners are at: www.pbpp.state.pa.us. Copies of letters should be sent to: William Phillips Africa, AM 4984, SCI-Dallas, 1000 Follies Road, Dallas, PA 18612-0286.

Drop Charges Against Michael and Evelyn Warren!

On 21 June 2007, well-known black civil rights lawyer Michael Tarif Warren and his wife, Evelyn Warren, also a lawyer, were repeatedly punched and then arrested for witnessing and protesting a cop attack on a black youth in a McDonald’s parking lot in Brooklyn. They were outrageously charged with obstructing government administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Michael Warren pointed out that what happened to him and his wife “is just an example of what is happening in this city every day.”

It is no accident that Michael Warren, who has a long history of representing former Black Panthers and other victims of racist cop terror, is targeted. He represented the family of 25-year-old Michael Stewart, beaten to death by New York cops in 1983 after being arrested for spray painting graffiti, and Yvonne Smallwood, who was beaten and died in police custody in 1987. He also represented Abner Louima, who was viciously sodomized with a broomstick by NYPD cops in 1997, and was instrumental in the 2002 exoneration of five black teenagers who completed terms of seven to 13 years in prison after being falsely convicted of raping a young woman in the 1989 case known as the “Central Park Jogger.”

The PDC sent protest letters to Mayor Bloomberg and the D.A.’s office right after the Warrens’ arrest demanding that all charges be dropped. The trial is scheduled to begin June 16 at the Criminal Court Building at 120 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn. We encourage all fighters against racist injustice to come out!

Charges Dropped Against Larry Hales

We are happy to report that on April 22 all charges were dropped against Larry Hales, a leader of the Denver branch of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST), a contributing editor to Workers World newspaper and an organizer against police brutality. After Hales was assaulted by ten Denver cops in his home last November, he was charged with interfering with the police. The PDC wrote a letter of protest and made a contribution to his defense.

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Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.