Click on the headline to link to the Partisan Defense Committee website.
Reposted from the American Left History blog, dated December 1, 2010.
I like to think of myself as a fervent supporter of the Partisan Defense Committee, an organization committed to social and political defense cases and causes in the interests of the working class and, at this time of the year, to raising funds to support the class-war prisoners’ stipend program. Normally I do not need any prompting in the matter. This year, however, in light of the addition of Attorney Lynne Stewart (yes, I know, she has been disbarred but that does not make her less of a people’s attorney in my eyes) to the stipend program, I read the 25th Anniversary Appeal article in Workers Vanguard No. 969 where I was startled to note how many of the names, organizations, and political philosophies mentioned there hark back to my own radical coming of age, and the need for class-struggle defense of all our political prisoners in the late 1960s (although I may not have used that exact term at the time).
That recognition included names like black liberation fighter George Jackson, present class-war prisoner Hugo Pinell’s San Quentin Six comrade; the Black Panthers, as represented here by two of the Omaha Three (Poindexter and wa Langa), in their better days and in the days when we needed, desperately needed, to fight for their defense in places from Oakland to New Haven; the struggle, the fierce struggle, against the death penalty as represented in Mumia’s case today; the Ohio 7 and the Weather Underground who, rightly or wrongly, were committed to building a second front against American imperialism, and who most of the left, the respectable left, abandoned; and, of course, Leonard Peltier and the Native American struggles from Pine Ridge to the Southwest. It has been a long time and victories few. I could go on but you get the point.
That point also includes the hard fact that we have paid a high price, a very high price, for not winning back in the late 1960s and early 1970s when we last had this capitalist imperialist society on the ropes. Maybe it was political immaturity, maybe it was cranky theory, maybe it was elitism, hell, maybe it was just old-fashioned hubris but we let them off the hook. And have had to fight forty years of rear-guard “culture wars” since just to keep from falling further behind.
And the class-war prisoners, our class-war prisoners, have had to face their “justice” and their prisons. That lesson should be etched in the memory of every pro-working class militant today. And this, as well, as a quick glance at the news these days should make every liberation fighter realize; the difference between being on one side of that prison wall and the other is a very close thing when the bourgeois decides to pull the hammer down. The support of class-war prisoners is thus not charity, as International Labor Defense founder James P. Cannon noted back in the 1920s, but a duty of those fighters outside the walls. Today I do my duty, and gladly.
Partisan Defense Committee Letter
5 March 2012
Partisan Defense Committee P.O. Box 99, Canal Street Station, New York, NY 10013
email: email@example.com www.partisandefense.org
Contact: Kevin Gilroy (212) 406-4252
Free the MOVE 9!
On March 5, the Partisan Defense Committee sent the following letter calling for parole for the MOVE 9.
Dear Chairman Potteiger:
The Partisan Defense Committee once again joins with those supporting the release of the eight surviving political prisoners who have been collectively known as the MOVE 9. By any standard, such as ties to the community and a support network outside to “ease their transition,” there is absolutely no reason that any one of these men and women should be denied parole.
The main pretext for keeping the MOVE members incarcerated is their supposed "minimization/denial of the nature and circumstances of the offense(s) committed." But it is clear that these men and women are innocent of the charges related to the death of police officer James Ramp. Even the presiding judge Edwin Malmed who was asked after the trial, “Who shot James Ramp?” replied, “I haven’t the faintest idea.” Evidence released over time has clearly shown that Officer Ramp was killed in the massive crossfire by nearly 600 police officers who besieged the MOVE home on 8 August 1978.
The continued refusal to release these prisoners effectively denies parole to those who have been imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. It is an injustice that these men and women were ever incarcerated at all. Their continued confinement compounds that injustice on a daily basis. We call once more for the immediate, unconditional release of Debbie Africa, Janine Africa, Janet Africa, Chuck Africa, Eddie Africa, Phil Africa, Delbert Africa and Mike Africa.