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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Police State and Prisons
20th Annual Holiday Appeal for Class-War Prisoners to Benefit 17 Prisoners
This article details the cases of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier and 15 other political prisoners to be supported by the Holiday Appeal. See Bay Area calendar for December 11 for event information.
20TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY APPEAL FOR CLASS-WAR PRISONERS
This year’s Holiday Appeals mark the 20th 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. This program revived a tradition initiated by the International Labor Defense under James P. Cannon, its founder and first secretary (1925-28). The PDC sends stipends to 17 class-war prisoners.
Mumia Abu-Jamal: America’s foremost class-war prisoner, former Black Panther Party spokesman, well-known supporter of the MOVE organization and award-winning journalist known as “the voice of the voiceless.” On December 9, Mumia enters his 25th year of incarceration for a killing that the cops know he did not commit. Mumia was framed up for the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death explicitly for his political views. Over four years ago, Mumia’s attorneys submitted to the courts the sworn confession of Arnold Beverly that he, not Mumia, shot and killed Faulkner. But to the racists in black robes of both the Pennsylvania and U.S. federal judiciaries, a court of law is no place for evidence of the innocence of this fighter for the oppressed.
This year the Pennsylvania courts dismissed Mumia’s third appeal for post-conviction relief. With the U.S. Supreme Court devoted to the racist death penalty, and with his final federal appeals in motion, Mumia remains on death row locked down in a cell the size of a bathroom. It was because he spoke for the oppressed, such as those left to die in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, that Mumia faces the ultimate in capitalist repression: the racist death penalty. Workers, immigrants, minorities and all opponents of racist oppression must strengthen their efforts to free Mumia now! Abolish the racist death penalty!
Leonard Peltier is an internationally revered class-war prisoner in America. His incarceration for nearly three decades because of 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’s frame-up trial for the deaths of two marauding FBI agents in what had become a war zone at the South Dakota Pine Ridge Reservation 30 years ago shows what capitalist “justice” is all about. As in the case of Mumia and the other class-war prisoners, Peltier’s case demonstrates there is no justice in the capitalist courts. Although the lead government attorney has admitted: “We can’t prove who shot those agents,” and the courts have repeatedly acknowledged blatant prosecutorial misconduct, the 61-year-old fighter for Native Americans is still locked away. This year federal authorities transferred Peltier from Leavenworth to the Terre Haute penitentiary, where he was thrown into solitary and denied medicine. He was cruelly transferred again, finally ending up in USP Lewisburg in Pennsylvania. Free Leonard Peltier now!
Jamal Hart, Mumia’s son, was sentenced in 1998 to 151/2 years on bogus firearms possession charges. Hart was targeted for his prominent activism in the campaign to free his father. Although Hart was initially charged under Pennsylvania laws, which would have meant a probationary sentence, Clinton’s Justice Department intervened to have him thrown into prison under federal laws. He is not eligible for parole. Hart is currently confined in Ray Brook, New York, near the Canadian border, hundreds of miles from family and supporters. He has been subjected to numerous provocations by abusive prison guards, thrown into solitary and had his personal property illegally confiscated.
Eight MOVE members, Chuck Africa, Michael Africa, Debbie Africa, Janet Africa, Janine Africa, Delbert Africa, Eddie Africa and Phil Africa, are in their 28th year of prison. They were sentenced to 30-100 years after the 8 August 1978 siege of their Philadelphia home by over 600 heavily armed cops. They were falsely convicted of killing a police officer who died in the cops’ own crossfire. In 1985 they watched in horror from their Pennsylvania prison cells as eleven of their MOVE family members, including five children, were massacred by Philly cops, many of them “veterans” of the 1978 assault.
Jaan Laaman, Thomas Manning and Richard Williams are the remaining anti-imperialist activists known as the Ohio 7 still in prison. They were convicted for their roles in a radical group that took credit for bank “expropriations” and bombings in the late 1970s and ’80s against symbols of U.S. imperialism such as military and corporate offices. Before their arrests in Ohio and Virginia in 1984 and 1985, they were targets of massive manhunts throughout the East Coast and Midwest. Their children were kidnapped at gunpoint by the Feds and interrogated. The government piled sentence upon sentence, intending to keep them imprisoned until the day they die.
The politics of the Ohio 7 were once shared by thousands of radicals during the heyday of the Vietnam antiwar movement and by New Leftists who wrote off the possibility of winning the working class to a revolutionary program and saw themselves as an auxiliary of “Third World” liberation movements. 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 a crime. As the PDC has said from the time the Ohio 7 were first persecuted by the capitalist state, these courageous fighters should not have served even 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 were victims of the FBI COINTELPRO operation launched against the Communist Party and then deployed to “neutralize” radical organizations in the 1960s, particularly the Black Panther Party, whose members were framed up and imprisoned by the hundreds while 38 were killed in cold blood. Poindexter and Mondo were railroaded to prison for a 1970 explosion which killed a cop; convicted on perjured testimony; sentenced to life and have now served more than 30 years in jail. The Nebraska Board of Pardons refuses to lessen their sentences so they can be considered for parole.
Hugo Pinell is the last of the San Quentin 6 still in prison. He was a militant anti-racist leader of prison rights organizing along with his comrade and mentor, George Jackson, who was gunned down by prison guards in 1971. Pinell has been incarcerated for more than 40 years, repeatedly denied parole despite hundreds of letters of support, many job offers and no disciplinary write-ups or rule infractions for over a quarter of a century. Now in his 60s, Pinell continues to serve a life sentence at the notorious Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit in California.
Contribute now! All proceeds from the Holiday Appeals will go to the Class-War Prisoners Stipend Fund. This is not charity but an elementary act of solidarity with those imprisoned for their opposition to racist capitalism and imperialist depredations. Send your contributions to: PDC, P.O. Box 77462, San Francisco, CA 94107; (510) 839-0852.
Build PDC Holiday Appeal for Class-War Prisoners
The cops and courts seek to ensure that those who fight the poverty and racism endemic to capitalism are “safely” housed in prison hellholes or their graves. In 1986, the Partisan Defense Committee revived an International Labor Defense (ILD) tradition of sending monthly stipends to class-war prisoners as an expression of solidarity. In addition to its regular monthly support, the ILD raised extra funds during the holidays for the prisoners and their families. Help build our program of monthly stipends to these victims of racist capitalist injustice.
The PDC is a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization that champions cases and causes in the interests of the whole of the working people. This purpose is in accordance with the political views of the Spartacist League.