Stipends to Class-War Prisoners—Revival of the ILD Tradition
We must not forget the class-war prisoners of today—those in prison for standing up to racist capitalist oppression—whose freedom is in the interest of the whole of the working people. “The victory of the class-war prisoners is possible only when they are inseparably united with the living labor movement and when that movement claims them for its own, takes up their battle cry and carries on their work” (James P. Cannon, “The Cause that Passes Through a Prison,” Labor Defender, September 1926, reprinted in Notebook of an Agitator).
As an expression of our class solidarity, the PDC has revived the tradition of the ILD by sending monthly stipends of $50 to class-war prisoners. This support for class-war prisoners is not an act of charity but the duty of those on the outside toward those inside prison walls.
Become a PDC Sustainer and aid us in our cause.
Free the Class-War Prisoners!
29th Annual PDC Holiday Appeal
Reprinted from Workers Vanguard
No. 1057, 28 November 2014.
For nearly three decades, the Partisan Defense Committee has provided stipends to class-war prisoners—those behind bars for opposing varied expressions of racist capitalist oppression. The PDC is now organizing our annual Holiday Appeal fundraisers on behalf of 16 such prisoners. We send them $50 monthly stipends and provide holiday gifts for them and their families. The prisoners generally use the funds for basic necessities, from supplementing the inadequate prison diet to buying stamps and writing materials, or to pursue literary, artistic and musical endeavors that help ameliorate the living hell of prison life.
The PDC’s stipend program is modeled on a tradition of the early Communist movement, specifically the International Labor Defense (ILD) under its first secretary, James P. Cannon, from 1925-28. The ILD sent monthly contributions to more than 100 people imprisoned for fighting in the interests of the working people and the oppressed. As Cannon observed: “The procession that goes in and out of the prison doors is not a new one.... All through history those who have fought against oppression have constantly been faced with the dungeons of a ruling class” (“The Cause That Passes Through a Prison,” Labor Defender, September 1926).
This past year, we added Albert Woodfox as a stipend recipient. Along with other Black Panther Party members known as the Angola Three, Woodfox stood up against the hideous racism at Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison. In retaliation, prison authorities have subjected him to more than four decades of solitary confinement.
Others who had received stipends are now outside prison walls. After months of medical neglect and with thousands demanding her release, Lynne Stewart was finally let out of federal prison last New Year’s Eve. Suffering serious complications from breast cancer, Stewart is undergoing special treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in New York City. She reports that she is struggling with drug side effects and is having difficulty walking. Other former PDC stipend recipients are the young anti-fascist activists known as the Tinley Park 5, who were released at various times over the last 12 months or so. They had been tossed into prison for heroically dispersing a Chicago-area meeting of fascists in May 2012.
As Cannon said, “The class-conscious worker accords to the class-war prisoners a place of singular honor and esteem.” Join us in this vital work of solidarity. The 16 class-war prisoners receiving stipends from the PDC are listed below.
An Injury to One Is an Injury
The 16 class-war prisoners described below receive monthly stipends from the PDC. [Up to date as of December 2014]
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 America’s foremost class-war prisoner. Mumia remains condemned
to life in prison with no chance of parole.
Leonard Peltier is an internationally renowned class-war
prisoner. Peltier’s incarceration for his activism in the American
Indian Movement has come to symbolize this country’s racist repression
of its native peoples, the survivors of centuries of genocidal
oppression. Peltier was framed up for the 1975 deaths of two FBI
agents marauding in what had become a war zone on the South Dakota
Pine Ridge Reservation. Although the lead government attorney has
admitted, “We can’t prove who shot those agents,” and the courts have
acknowledged blatant prosecutorial misconduct, the 70-year-old Peltier
is not scheduled to be reconsidered for parole for another ten years!
Peltier suffers from multiple serious medical conditions and is
incarcerated far from his people and family.
Eight MOVE members—Chuck Africa, Michael
Africa, Debbie Africa, Janet Africa, Janine
Africa, Delbert Africa, Eddie Africa and Phil Africa—are
in their 37th year of prison. After the 8 August 1978 siege of their
Philadelphia home by over 600 heavily armed cops, they were sentenced
to 30-100 years having been falsely convicted of killing a police
officer who died in the cops’ own cross fire. In 1985, eleven of their
MOVE family members, including five children, were massacred by Philly
cops when a bomb was dropped on their living quarters. After more than
three decades of unjust incarceration, these innocent prisoners are
routinely turned down at parole hearings. None have been released.
Albert Woodfox is the last of the Angola Three still incarcerated.
Along with Herman Wallace and Robert King, Woodfox fought the vicious,
racist and dehumanizing conditions in Louisiana’s Angola prison and
courageously organized a Black Panther Party chapter at the prison.
Authorities framed up Woodfox and Wallace for the fatal stabbing of a
prison guard in 1972 and falsely convicted King of killing a fellow
inmate a year later. For over 42 years, Woodfox has been locked down
in Closed Cell Restricted (CCR) blocks, the longest stretch in
solitary confinement ever in this country. His conviction has been
overturned three times! According to his lawyers, he suffers from
hypertension, heart disease, chronic renal insufficiency, diabetes,
anxiety and insomnia—conditions no doubt caused and/or exacerbated by
decades of vindictive and inhumane treatment.
Jaan Laaman and Thomas Manning are the two remaining
anti-imperialist activists known as the Ohio 7 still in prison,
convicted for their roles 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. Before
their arrests in 1984 and 1985, the Ohio 7 were targets of massive
manhunts. The Ohio 7’s politics were once shared by thousands of
radicals but, like the Weathermen before them, the Ohio 7 were spurned
by the “respectable” left. From a proletarian standpoint, the actions
of these leftist activists against imperialism and racist injustice
are not crimes. They should not have served a day in prison.
Ed Poindexter and Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa are former Black
Panther supporters and leaders of the Omaha, Nebraska, National
Committee to Combat Fascism. They are victims of the FBI’s deadly
COINTELPRO operation, under which 38 Black Panther Party members were
killed and hundreds more imprisoned on frame-up charges. Poindexter
and Mondo were railroaded to prison and sentenced to life for a 1970
explosion that killed a cop, and they have now spent more than 40
years behind bars. Nebraska courts have repeatedly denied Poindexter
and Mondo new trials despite the fact that a crucial piece of evidence
excluded from the original trial, a 911 audio tape long suppressed by
the FBI, proved that testimony of the state’s key witness was
Hugo Pinell, the last of the San Quentin 6 still in prison,
has been in solitary isolation for more than four decades. He was a
militant anti-racist leader of prison rights organizing along with
George Jackson, his comrade and mentor, who was gunned down by prison
guards in 1971. Despite numerous letters of support and no
disciplinary write-ups for over 28 years, Pinell was again denied
parole in 2009. Now in his late 60s, Pinell continues to serve a life
sentence after having finally been released from the notorious torture
chamber Pelican Bay SHU in California, a focal point for hunger
strikes against grotesque inhuman conditions.
Send your contributions to: PDC, P.O. Box 99, Canal Street Station, New York, NY 10013; (212) 406-4252.
As of November 2014, the Partisan Defense Committee sends monthly
stipends as well as holiday and family presents to 16 activists
imprisioned for standing up to racist, capitalist oppression. Here are
the addresses to write directly to the class-war prisioners in the
PDC's stipend program.
Delbert Orr Africa, AM 4985
William Phillips Africa, AM 4984
Charles Sims Africa, AM 4975
SCI–Dallas, 1000 Follies Road
Dallas, PA 18612-0286
Debbie Sims Africa, #006307
Janet Holloway Africa, #006308
Janine Phillips Africa, #006309
451 Fullerton Avenue
Cambridge Springs, PA 16403-1238
Edward Goodman Africa, AM 4974
SCI Mahanoy, 301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932
Michael Davis Africa, AM 4973
P.O. Box 244
Graterford, PA 19426-0244
Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932
Jaan K. Laaman, #10372-016
USP Tucson, P.O. Box 24550
Tucson, AZ 85734
W.M.E. we Langa, 27768
Nebraska State Penitentiary
P.O. Box 2500
Lincoln, NE 68542-2500
Thomas W. Manning
Federal Medical Center
P.O. Box 1600
Butner, NC 27509
Leonard Peltier, #89637-132
USP Coleman I
P.O. Box 1033
Coleman, FL 33521
Hugo Pinell, A-88401
P.O. Box 290066
Repressa, CA 95671-0066
Ed Poindexter, 27767
Nebraska State Penitentiary
Lincoln, NE 68542-2500
Albert Woodfox, #72148
David Wade Correctional Center
670 Bell Hill Road
Homer, LA 71040