Stop the racist frameups—again!
Published Mar 8, 2007 9:12 PM
From left to right: Kathleen Cleaver,
Panama Alba, Soffiyah Elijah &
Iyaluua Ferguson at March 2 forum.
Photo: Roberto Mercado
A determined crowd of 300 supporters gathered at the New York Community
Church on March 2 to defend eight Black activists, former/current political
prisoners and former members of the Black Panther Party. Herman Bell, Ray
Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Henry W. (Hank) Jones, Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony
Bottom), Richard O’Neal, Harold Taylor and Francisco Torres, the eight
ranging in age from 50 to 70, were arrested Jan. 23 and charged with conspiracy
for an incident that occurred over 35 years ago—the death of a San
California courts dismissed this charge against the Panther Eight in the 1970s
because of stark evidence that the defendants had suffered physical abuse and
torture from New Orleans police during their original arrests. The
state’s alleged new evidence is the same set of coerced confessions
thrown out as inadmissible at that time.
At the forum, in a film documentary, “Legacy of Torture: The War Against
the Black Liberation Movement,” Bowman, Jones and Taylor describe their
torture at the hands of police using cattle prods, slapjacks, suffocating
plastic bags and wet wool blankets.
The Eight’s attorney, Gitanjali Gutiérrez, from the Center for
Constitutional Rights, compared the treatment of her clients as Black political
prisoners to the victims of the U.S. “war on terrorism” who are
suffering deprivation and torture at the infamous Guantánamo Bay
A distinguished panel of speakers eloquently argued for support for the Eight.
The panel included former Black Panther Party leader Kathleen Cleaver, now a
senior lecturer for Emory University; Soffiyah Elijah, the deputy director of
the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School; Iyaluua Ferguson of the
Jericho Movement, an organization that struggles for amnesty and freedom for
U.S. political prisoners; and Panama Alba, a former member of the Young Lords
Party, who is with the National Congress of Puerto Rican Rights.
Representatives from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and National Lawyers
Guild were in attendance.
The forum mobilized support for Francisco Torres at his March 6 New York City
extradition hearing and for a contingent of former political prisoners and
supporters at the upcoming March 17 anti-war march in Washington.
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