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30 May 2014

Free the NATO 3!


On April 25, Cook County judge Thaddeus Wilson sentenced Jared Chase, Brent Betterly and Brian Church to prison for eight, six and five years respectively. The three fell prey to a sting operation carried out in the name of the bipartisan “war on terror” after traveling to Chicago to join protests against a May 2012 gathering of NATO imperialist war criminals. Across the country, “anti-terror” witchhunts have increasingly become a club wielded by the Feds and local cops in their efforts to quash leftist political protest. All opponents of capitalist inequality and the depredations of U.S. imperialism as well as fighters for black and immigrant rights have an interest in demanding freedom for the NATO 3.

The young activists had been convicted on February 7 on two frame-up felony counts of possessing Molotov cocktails and two misdemeanor “mob action” charges in what was a chemically pure example of police entrapment. Undercover agents Nadia Chikko and Mehmet Uygun infiltrated the Occupy group with whom the defendants, who had driven up from Florida, were bunking. The agents provocateurs hatched a plan, pushed it forward and assembled some Molotov cocktails, goading and dragging along Betterly, Church and Chase at every step. Despite two weeks of intense surveillance, not a single piece of evidence was produced linking the NATO 3 to the assembly of the Molotov cocktails, as charged in the indictment. (read more...)

16 May 2014

Occupy Protester Faces Seven Years

Overturn Conviction of Cecily McMillan!

NEW YORK CITY—One of the early organizers of Occupy Wall Street, Cecily McMillan, was convicted on May 5 of felony assault of a police officer. The supposed assault was, in fact, the reflexive elbowing of a cop who had grabbed her breast from behind during the NYPD’s breakup of a 2012 Occupy gathering. The latest victim of the state crackdown unleashed on the populist movement, McMillan was remanded to Rikers pending sentencing on May 19. She faces up to seven years in prison and her conviction is the most serious among the thousands of arrests at Occupy protests.

In the course of a brutal police attack, McMillan was groped, beaten and kicked at a 17 March 2012 event in Zuccotti Park to mark six months of Occupy. After she was arrested and put in handcuffs, she went into seizures, only to be denied medical attention. Footage shows the police were more concerned with preventing people from filming than with calling the paramedics. When Cecily appeared on Democracy Now! a few days later, she was limping and still in substantial pain from her ordeal. Clearly visible were several sizable bruises, including one over her right breast that was hand-shaped. In the interview she described how, in the 40 hours between her arrest and arraignment, she was taken from jail to hospital and back again several times without being told where she was or being allowed to contact anyone. (read more...)

2 May 2014

Black Panther in Prison for Decades

Free Albert Woodfox!

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)

The Partisan Defense Committee has added Albert Woodfox, the last of the Angola Three still incarcerated, to its class-war prisoner stipend program. Along with Herman Wallace and Robert King, Woodfox fought the vicious, racist and dehumanizing conditions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola and courageously organized a Black Panther Party chapter at the prison. As retribution, authorities framed up Woodfox and Wallace for the fatal stabbing of a white prison guard in 1972 and falsely convicted King of killing a fellow inmate a year later.

The sadistic jailers went after the Angola Three with a vengeance. 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. The now 67-year-old man is confined in a two-by-three-meter cell 23 hours a day. 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. Wallace was also confined to solitary until last October, only to die three days after gaining his freedom. King, who spent 29 years in isolation, won his release in 2001. (For more, see “Herman Wallace, 1941-2013,” WV No. 1032, 18 October 2013.) (read more...)

21 March 2014

Mumia Abu-Jamal Is an Innocent Man

Cops, Congress Ax Nominee Over Mumia’s Case

On March 5, the Senate sank Barack Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile as assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. What was supposed to be a done deal ran aground when seven Democrats joined the Republicans in opposing the selection. The kiss of death for Adegbile, the current senior counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, was his tenuous connection to black political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. Adegbile had a leadership role in the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), which represented Mumia at the time that his death sentence was overturned in late 2011.

Our concern is not who fills what post under the attorney general, the top cop overseeing the apparatus of racist repression. Rather it is the renewed outpouring of the lies that have condemned Mumia, an innocent man, to three decades on death row and now life in prison. A former Black Panther, MOVE supporter and award-winning journalist, Mumia was framed up for the killing of a Philly cop and railroaded to death row in 1982 on the basis of his radical political views. The prosecution’s case against him rested on phony ballistics, a concocted “confession,” police intimidation of witnesses and racist jury rigging. The confession of another man, Arnold Beverly, that he was hired by the mob and cops to assassinate Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, whom Mumia was falsely accused of killing, has never been allowed into state or federal court. (read more...)

7 March 2014

Urgent Medical Appeal for Lynne Stewart

Seventy-four years old and suffering from Stage IV breast cancer, radical lawyer Lynne Stewart may have only months to live. The government is dedicated to making that time as painful as possible. After being denied compassionate medical release for nearly a year, Stewart was finally let out of prison on December 31 by a U.S. district judge who cited her “terminal medical condition and very limited life expectancy.” Stewart, whose cancer has metastasized to her back, lung, bones and lymph nodes, discovered after her release that she had been stripped of Medicare coverage while in prison. She will not be enrolled again until July. Medicaid will not cover her because Stewart and her husband’s combined Social Security benefits exceed the monthly income limit. She must now pay the sky-high costs of treatment and medication herself—or go without!

Stewart should never have spent a day in prison. In 2005, she was convicted of giving material support to terrorism for her vigorous defense of an Egyptian Islamic fundamentalist cleric who had been imprisoned for an alleged plot to blow up New York City landmarks in the early 1990s. Stewart’s purported “material support” was to communicate her client’s views to Reuters news service. Her Arabic translator Mohamed Yousry and paralegal Ahmed Abdel Sattar were also convicted. These watershed convictions gave the capitalist government a green light to prosecute lawyers as co-conspirators of their clients—a frontal attack on the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. In 2010, at the instigation of the Obama administration, a federal appeals court instructed the judge who had originally sentenced Stewart to reexamine her sentence. Appeasing his superiors, the judge jacked up the original 28-month sentence to ten years. (read more...)

21 February 2014

Framed-Up Protesters Face 30 Years

Free the NATO 3!

CHICAGO—In an attack on the right to political protest, Jared Chase, Brent Betterly and Brian Church, known as the NATO 3, were by a Cook County jury on February 7 on two frame-up felony counts of possessing Molotov cocktails and two misdemeanor “mob action” charges. The three were victimized in a sting operation as part of the cops’ efforts to quash protest against the May 2012 gathering of NATO imperialist war criminals in Chicago. Prosecutors had tacked on bogus charges of “conspiracy to commit terrorism,” which the jury rejected, giving the state a partial setback. Nevertheless, Chase, Betterly and Church, who have been imprisoned on $1.5 million bail, now face possible 30-year prison sentences.

This was a chemically pure case of police entrapment. From start to finish, the real instigators of the purported plot were the cops. Undercover agents Nadia Chikko and Mehmet Uygun infiltrated the Occupy group with whom the defendants, who had driven up from Florida, were bunking. The agents provocateurs hatched a plan, pushed it forward and assembled some Molotov cocktails, goading and dragging Betterly, Church and Chase along at every step. Despite two weeks of intense surveillance, not a single piece of evidence was produced pointing to the NATO 3 as the ones who assembled the Molotov cocktails (made from beer bottles), as charged in the indictment. The setup was undertaken as Democratic mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy whipped up an atmosphere of fear-mongering and hysteria leading into the NATO summit, assembling a massive display of police power to intimidate protesters (see “Defend Anti-NATO Protesters!” WV No. 1003, 25 May 2012). (read more...)

10 January 2014

PDC Holiday Appeal: Greetings from the Class-War Prisoners

The Partisan Defense Committee held its 28th annual Holiday Appeal events in December to raise funds for monthly stipends and holiday gifts to class-war prisoners and their families. At the December 15 event in Chicago, Spartacist League spokesman Patricia Kepler explained how the Holiday Appeal is an elementary act of solidarity: “We are here today to honor those who have been thrown behind bars, framed up, tortured by this country’s many governments—Republican and Democrat—for the simple reason that they stood up, spoke up and fought against the crimes of U.S. imperialism at home and abroad. Their fight is our fight.” She continued: “Although many look to the Democratic Party as a lesser evil, the simple fact is that Obama has done the job that the main body of the ruling class selected him for: overseer for the capitalist profit system that criminalizes young black men and chews up working people, spitting them out when their labor is no longer needed.”

In Chicago, the audience heard a recorded greeting from Alex Stuck, who had just been released from prison. He is one of the Tinley Park 5, a group of anti-racist militants thrown into prison for dispersing a meeting of fascists outside Chicago in May 2012. They are the most recent additions to the stipend program. In his greeting, Stuck stressed the importance to prisoners of knowing that there are people on the outside fighting for them: (read more...)

10 January 2014

The World We’re In

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

The following commentary dated 21 November 2013 was read at the Holiday Appeal event for class-war prisoners in New York City, December 15.

Who believed that the world that we see before us would be here, like this, when the last 2 elections were held?

OK—perhaps some of you had a clue. But for most of us, deep down, we believed we were on the brink of epic change. We thought that the social problems gnawing at the community, joblessness, the immense and monstrous mass incarceration system, homelessness, and the serious social problems of schools would be—well, at the very least, addressed. (read more...)

10 January 2014

Defiant Lynne Stewart Finally Released

On December 31, leftist attorney Lynne Stewart finally left behind her the prison walls that have been “home” for the past four years after her frame-up conviction in a “war on terror” show trial. Terminally ill with Stage IV breast cancer, the 74-year-old Stewart walked out of the Federal Medical Center Carswell, a women’s prison hospital in Texas, and flew home to New York City, where she was greeted by family and friends. This brought to a close her months-long fight for the right to die at home surrounded by loved ones, a demand supported by more than 40,000 petitioners worldwide.

After months of obstruction, the Justice Department finally allowed U.S. District Judge John Koeltl, Stewart’s trial judge, to order her release on the grounds of her “terminal medical condition and very limited life expectancy.” The relief of Stewart’s supporters is tinged with the bitter knowledge that federal authorities had vindictively prolonged her imprisonment knowing her terminal condition. In fact, from the working-class point of view, this partisan of the downtrodden and oppressed should not have spent a single day behind bars. (read more...)

13 December 2013

Drop Charges Against CUNY Protesters!

Over the past semester, the City University of New York (CUNY) administration has been on a tear to suppress leftist political activity. Its latest reprisal was to bring criminal charges against Khalil Vasquez and Tafadar Sourov for their role in protesting the closure of the Morales/Shakur Center at City College of New York (CCNY) on October 24. The administration had shut down the center, a meeting space for leftist, minority and other student and community groups, after weeks of demonstrations against war criminal David Petraeus teaching at CUNY and the return of the Reserve Officers Training Corps to campus.

Vasquez and Sourov, both of the Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee, had already been suspended from CCNY following the October 24 protest, as reported in our Young Spartacus pages (see “Rescind Suspensions of CCNY Protesters!”, WV No. 1034, 15 November). On November 22, at a CCNY disciplinary hearing regarding their suspension, both students pleaded “no contest and no admission of guilt.” As a result, they will be allowed to return to CCNY next semester, but the suspension will only be expunged from their record provided they stay in line by the lights of the administration. (read more...)

6 September 2013

Sentenced to 35 Years

Free Chelsea Manning!

Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning was sentenced by a military judge at the end of her court martial on August 21 to 35 years in prison with a dishonorable discharge for giving more than 700,000 classified military documents, diplomatic cables and war footage to WikiLeaks. After over three years of pretrial detention, which included torture in solitary confinement, she has been demoted and is now incarcerated in the military’s maximum-security prison at Leavenworth undergoing “the indoctrination process,” according to Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, during which all contact with the outside world is cut off. The persecution of Manning is a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s campaign against whistle-blowers and significantly its first conviction under the 1917 Espionage Act. It serves as a warning of what the government has in store for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and Edward Snowden for publicizing details of U.S. war atrocities and massive routine domestic spying.

In a statement to Obama requesting a presidential pardon, Manning referenced the crimes of U.S. imperialism in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo, and continued: “Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.” Manning released the classified documents in order to expose inhumanity and torture. In so doing, Manning performed a service to the working class internationally in helping lift the veil on U.S. imperialist barbarity. (read more...)

6 September 2013

Medical Release Denied

Free Lynne Stewart!

Lynne Stewart, 73 years old and terminally ill with Stage IV breast cancer, was again denied medical release from prison on August 9. Judge John G. Koeltl turned down her latest request on the grounds that the Federal Bureau of Prisons must first make a motion in favor of such a release. This ruling throws the case back to the very prison authorities carrying out the vendetta against this outspoken leftist lawyer with a history of defending radicals, black militants and the poor. Federal prison director, Charles E. Samuels Jr., refused to release Stewart last June, falsely and vindictively citing an improvement in her health! Stewart, whose cancer has metastasized to her lungs, bones, lymph nodes and shoulder, is facing death within the prison walls if she is not released soon.

In a 2005 “war on terror” show trial, Stewart was framed up and convicted for giving material support to terrorism when representing Egyptian Islamic fundamentalist cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. The alleged “material support” was to communicate her client’s views to Reuters news service. This verdict gave the government a green light to prosecute lawyers for the alleged crimes of their clients and trampled on the basic right to counsel and free speech. (read more...)

12 July 2013

Asylum Now for Edward Snowden!

JULY 8—Five weeks after the London Guardian printed accounts of the massive collection of phone records and Internet spying by the National Security Agency (NSA), former agency contractor Edward Snowden, who provided the documentation, by all accounts remains holed up in the transit section of a Moscow airport. Stung by Snowden’s revelations, the U.S. imperialists are seeking their pound of flesh. The State Department weeks ago revoked Snowden’s passport to prevent his travel as Washington fights to return him to the U.S., where he would face decades in prison on charges of espionage, theft and conversion of government property. Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia to their credit have offered him political asylum. In tearing yet another veil off the U.S. spying machine, Snowden performed a great service to workers and the oppressed, in the U.S. and internationally, who are the ultimate target of the capitalist rulers’ apparatus of state repression.

Early speculation that Ecuador would offer asylum to Snowden was dashed when President Rafael Correa backtracked, stating on June 27 that such a request could only be considered if Snowden were on Ecuadorian territory. This came after Vice President Joe Biden worked the phones to put pressure on leaders of Snowden’s possible destination countries. The arm-twisting culminated last week in a chilling act of imperial arrogance against the president of impoverished Bolivia, Evo Morales. After Morales announced in Moscow that he would consider giving asylum to Snowden, Spain, Portugal, Italy and France, clearly acting at the behest of the U.S., closed their airspace on July 2 to block Morales’ plane on the return trip to La Paz, claiming they had information that Snowden was on board. Diverted from their planned route, which had been agreed to in advance, pilots in fear of running out of fuel were forced to land in Vienna, where the plane was kept for 14 hours before being allowed to depart. (read more...)

12 July 2013

Sadistic Feds Deny Lynne Stewart Release

Free Her Now!

The Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Charles E. Samuels Jr., has denied compassionate release for 73-year-old leftist lawyer Lynne Stewart, whose health is rapidly deteriorating due to Stage IV breast cancer that has spread to her lungs, lymph nodes and shoulders. With a long history of defending radicals, black militants and the poor, Stewart was convicted in 2005 in a “war on terror” show trial, along with her interpreter, Mohamed Yousry, and her paralegal, Ahmed Abdel Sattar, for her vigorous defense of a blind Egyptian cleric imprisoned for an alleged plot to blow up New York City landmarks in the 1990s. Originally sentenced to 28 months in prison, Stewart was resentenced in 2010 to ten years at the instigation of the Obama administration. We noted at the time that this was effectively a death sentence, which the Feds are clearly determined to carry out.

Samuels, appointed head of America’s vast dungeon system by Attorney General Eric Holder in 2011, has spat on the demands of over 20,000 people who have signed a petition for Stewart’s release, ignoring as well the recommendations of the warden of the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Texas, where Stewart languishes. Stewart is too weak to receive medical treatment to arrest the cancer, and her white blood cell count has dropped to dangerous levels. Her husband, Ralph Poynter, has fought valiantly for her release and return to her family in New York City. In a statement following the Feds’ decision—an act of calculated cruelty—Poynter declared, “We shall not stand by idly while the Federal Bureau of Prisons murders Lynne Stewart.” (read more...)

12 July 2013

Guantánamo: Fear and Hunger

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

We print below a column by class-war prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal transcribed from a June 6 recording.

The word “Guantánamo” has become a watchword for the world. It is a temple of state terror, of imperial fear and American hypocrisy.

Since 2002, it has been transformed from a U.S. naval base on Cuban soil—against the wishes of the Cuban government, it must be said—to a global torture center and an interrogation chamber. Opened under Bush/Cheney and maintained under Obama, it has been a detention center designed for perpetual detention to hundreds of men and boys. An international outcry forced the government to release over 500 men back to half a dozen countries. (read more...)

12 July 2013

Protest Prison Harassment of Mumia Abu-Jamal!

Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, renowned journalist and supporter of the Philadelphia MOVE organization, is America’s foremost class-war prisoner. Mumia was railroaded to death row in 1982 on false charges of killing a police officer. In December 2011, the death sentence was removed, but Mumia still remains sentenced to life in prison without parole. The following is a July 6 letter from the Partisan Defense Committee to John E. Wetzel of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

We write to protest recent administrative measures taken against political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. Prison officials suspended Mr. Jamal’s access to telephone communication for two weeks as punishment for a phone interview with Philadelphia attorney Michael Coard, on his WURD program, “Radio Courtroom.” (read more...)

14 June 2013

Exposed U.S. Atrocities and Lies

Truth-Teller on Trial: Free Bradley Manning!

FORT MEADE—On June 3, the court-martial of Bradley Manning, an army intelligence analyst who released classified information in order to expose the barbarism of U.S. military occupation and domination in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, finally began. In more than three years of pretrial detention aimed at destroying the mind, body and soul of this whistleblower, Manning was held in torturous conditions of solitary confinement, deprived of sleep, clothing and even his eyeglasses, while being taunted and poked at continually by sadistic guards. Yet Manning courageously held fast to his political purpose: to expose evidence of monstrous war crimes and everyday U.S. overlordship of Third World countries.

On Saturday, June 1, some 1,000 supporters rallied in blistering heat outside the Fort Meade Army base near Washington, D.C., to demand freedom for Bradley Manning. Police blocked roads leading to the protest to obstruct people from joining or seeing the rally and march. Print, radio and television journalists from a large number of countries covered the protest, but the only mainstream American media present was the right-wing Fox News. The conspicuous absence of the U.S. capitalist press was consistent with its deliberate efforts to bury Bradley Manning’s case because his truth-telling effectively puts the U.S. government on trial. Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg proclaimed Manning a hero for all humanity, addressing the audience of military veterans, lesbian and gay rights activists, civil libertarians, antiwar radicals and left organizations. (read more...)

31 May 2013

Remember the MOVE Massacre

May 1985 Bombing: Racist State Terror

On 13 May 1985, the Philadelphia police, with the cooperation of Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI, consciously carried out racist state murder. Acting on the orders of black Democratic mayor Wilson Goode and the Reagan White House, the cops dropped a satchel with C-4 explosives onto the MOVE organization’s Osage Avenue home. The explosion and ensuing firestorm killed eleven black people, including five children, and destroyed an entire city block, leaving hundreds homeless. The bombing capped a 12-hour cop siege during which over 10,000 rounds of ammunition were fired into the house. Firefighters were prevented by police from tackling the blaze for more than an hour, and the cops shot at anyone trying to escape the inferno. There were only two survivors: 13-year-old Birdie Africa and Ramona Africa, who was sent to prison for seven years for the “crime” of still being alive.

This massacre was the culmination of years of police harassment, beatings and hundreds of arrests of members of this mostly black back-to-nature commune known for denouncing “the system” and defending its right to armed self-defense. In August 1978, 600 Philly cops had surrounded and attacked MOVE’s Powelton Village compound, unleashing a barrage of gunfire. Nine MOVE members were framed up and sentenced to between 30 and 100 years in prison after a cop was killed in the ferocious police crossfire. Merle Africa died in prison in 1998; the others are still locked away in Pennsylvania’s prison hellholes. (read more...)

The PDC is a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization which champions cases and causes in the interest of the whole of the working people. This purpose is in accordance with the political views of the Spartacist League. Our heritage is the working-class defense policies of the International Labor Defense (ILD), under its founder and first secretary from 1925-1928, James P. Cannon. The PDC was initiated by the Spartacist League in 1974, and stands on the record of principled defense work conducted by the Spartacist League.

The PDC is partisan: we stand unconditionally on the side of working people and their allies in struggle against their exploiters and oppressors. We place all our faith in the power of the masses and no faith whatever in the “justice” of the courts. While favoring all possible legal proceedings for the cases we support, we recognize that the courts, prisons and police exist to maintain through organized violence and terror the rule of one class over others. In its partisanship, the PDC is also anti-sectarian. We champion causes and defend cases whose victorious outcomes are in the interest of working people, irrespective of particular political views. We defend, in the words of James P. Cannon, “any member of the workers movement, regardless of his views, who suffered persecution by the capitalist courts because of his activities or his opinion” (The First Ten Years of American Communism).