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Free the Class-War Prisoners!
Reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 836, 12 November 2004.
These are the class-war prisoners who have received or currently receive monthly stipends from the PDC.
Mumia Abu-Jamal: Former Black Panther Party spokesman, well-known supporter of the MOVE organization and award-winning journalist known as the "voice of the voiceless," Jamal was framed up for the 1981 killing of police officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death explicitly for his political views. December 9 marks 23 years of incarceration for a killing the cops know he did not commit. More than three years ago, Jamal's attorneys submitted to the courts the sworn confession of professional hitman Arnold Beverly that he, not Jamal, shot and killed officer Faulkner. But to the racists in black robes of both the Pennsylvania and federal judiciaries, a court of law is no place for evidence of the innocence of a fighter for the oppressed like Jamal.
As the U.S. Supreme Court issues ominous rulings on the death penalty, and with his final federal appeals in motion, Mumia remains on death row, just a short walk from the death chamber. Workers, minorities and all opponents of racist capitalist repression must now redouble their efforts on his behalf. Free Mumia Now!
Jerry Dale Lowe: The Partisan Defense Committee continues its support to the West Virginia United Mine Workers union militant. Lowe was framed up for the shooting death of a scab contractor at Arch Mineral's Ruffner mine during a seven-month strike in 1993 and sentenced the following year to eleven years with no possibility of parole. Jerry was recently allowed into a halfway house, having served nearly the entirety of his frame-up sentence.
The bullet that killed the scab had come from an area where armed company thugs from Elite Security had been positioned. When it became clear that prosecutors had no evidence to convict Lowe under state law, the Clinton Justice Department stepped in to railroad Lowe to prison on charges of "interfering with interstate commerce."
We urged the UMWA and other militants everywhere to take up Lowe's cause, but the leadership of the UMWA, along with the rest of the union bureaucracy, abandoned Lowe to face the wrath of the labor-hating government alone. More than a decade has been stolen from this class-war fighter.
Eight MOVE members, Chuck Africa, Michael Davis Africa, Debbie Sims Africa, Janet Holloway Africa, Janine Africa, Delbert Orr Africa, Edward Goodman Africa and William Phillips Africa, are in their 27th year in prison. They were sentenced to 30-100 years after the 8 August 1978 siege on their Philadelphia home by over 600 heavily armed cops, having been falsely convicted of killing a police officer who died in the cops' own crossfire. Convicted of the same charges, Merle Africa died in prison in 1998.
Jaan Laaman has now spent two decades behind bars. This leftist activist was part of the Ohio 7, who were convicted for their role 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 one sentence atop another, intent on keeping the Ohio 7 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 the New Left, who wrote off the possibility of winning the working class to a revolutionary program and saw themselves as an auxiliary to "Third World" liberation movements. But, like the Weathermen before them, the Ohio 7 were spurned by the "respectable" left. From the standpoint of the proletariat, the actions of Laaman and his comrades 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 a day in prison and should be free now.
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 George Jackson, who was murdered by prison guards in 1971. In prison for over 39 years, Pinell was this year again denied parole despite hundreds of letters of support, five job offers and a clean record for over 25 years. Now 60 years old, Pinell continues to serve a life sentence at the notorious hellhole, Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit in California.
Ed Poindexter and Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa are former Black Panther supporters and leaders of the Omaha Nebraska Committee to Combat Fascism. They were victims of a racist FBI COINTELPRO operation, framed up for an explosion in 1970 which killed a cop. Both were convicted on the basis of perjured testimony, sentenced to life, and have now spent more than 30 years apiece in jail. The Nebraska Board of Pardons refuses to lessen their sentences so that they can be considered for parole.
Jamal Hart, Mumia's son, was sentenced in 1998 to 15½ years on bogus firearms possession charges, targeted for his prominent activism in the campaign to free his father. Although initially charged under Pennsylvania laws, which would have meant a probationary sentence, Clinton's Justice Department intervened to have Hart thrown in prison. He is not eligible for parole. Hart had been incarcerated at Fairton, New Jersey, where he was subjected to abuse by brutal and racist prison guards. After numerous provocations in which he was repeatedly thrown into solitary confinement, Hart was recently transferred to Ray Brook, New York, near the Canadian border, many hundreds of miles from his family and supporters.
We recently began sending stipends to Jamal Holiday, a victim of the brutal police repression during the protests against the Republican National Convention this past summer. Holiday, a young black man arrested during these protests, spent his 20th birthday behind bars. On August 30, Holiday was part of the Poor People's March when a plainclothes cop drove an unmarked motor scooter into the crowd of demonstrators, striking at least one woman. The protesters reacted in defense against this apparently crazed individual. In standard racial profiling, Holiday was picked up the next day by police who claimed surveillance cameras showed him to be wearing the same clothing (a baseball cap and T-shirt) as an individual filmed kicking the undercover provocateur. Facing up to seven years in prison on assault charges, Holiday had his bail raised from $50,000 to $250,000 based in part on the fact that political literature was found in his home.
In addition, during this past year the Partisan Defense Committee has aided other class-war prisoners. Until he was released in September, the PDC sent monthly stipends to Sherman Austin. Austin was railroaded to prison for a year and is now serving an outrageously restrictive three-year probation for a pure and simple thought crime: hosting an anarchist Web site (www.raisethefist.com).
This year Ray Luc Levasseur, one of the Ohio 7, was released to a halfway house after 20 years of imprisonment. Like his comrade, Jaan Laaman, he remained during his two decades of imprisonment an opponent of imperialism and racist oppression.
Not long after he became a recipient of the PDC stipend fund, Palestinian activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti was released from a torturous 718 days of detention, during which he fought for the freedom of all immigrant detainees. As a result of his jailing and subsequent beatings, a hunger strike and repeated denials of medicine, Abdel-Muhti's health deteriorated. On July 21, immediately after giving a speech denouncing U.S. imperialism, he collapsed and died of a heart attack. We will not forget what was done to this courageous fighter for the oppressed.
Contribute now! All proceeds from the Holiday Appeal will go to the Class-War Prisoners Stipend Fund. Send your contributions to: PDC, P.O. Box 99, Canal Street Station, New York, NY 10013; (212) 406-4252.