By Mumia Abu-Jamal on death row
The San Francisco 8—no more!
Published Aug 8, 2009 3:07 PM
Taken from a July 15 audio column heard at www.prison radio. org. Go to www.millions4mumia.org to read updates on
It’s been two and a half years since the San Francisco 8— eight
former members of the Black Panther Party—were cast into California jails
and threatened with life sentences stemming from the 1971 shooting of a
Perhaps the State figured the post-9/11 paranoia and mania would make this an
easy case. Perhaps the government thought that because many of the accused were
men of advancing age, decades away from their prime organizing and activist
days, it would be a cake walk.
The eight men fought with dignity, principle and unity and, several days ago,
charges for four of them were dismissed altogether: Ray Boudreaux, Richard
Brown, Hank Jones and Harold Taylor.
New York’s Jalil Muntaqim pled no contest to conspiracy and got time
served in San Francisco County Jail—almost two and a half
years—with three years’ probation.
Herman Bell—another New York former Panther—took a similar deal
earlier in July.
One ex-Panther, Francisco Torres, faces a hearing next month where most
observers expect all charges to be dropped. Another, John Bowman, died before
trial. The last, Richard O’Neal, was cleared pre-trial.
From the very beginning, back in the 1970s, several of the men were brutally
tortured by police in Louisiana to elicit false confessions; thus we see that
Abu Ghraib really was nothing new.
The cases were dismissed decades ago on that basis alone.
That the prosecutions were reinstated at all is due more to the politicized
Justice Department under John Ashcroft and George Bush—where torture was
a tool of state—than anything else. Also implicated? The political
ambitions of California Attorney General Jerry Brown seeking the
No charges should have been brought in the first place—or, if
contemplated, dismissed under double jeopardy principles.
As it is, even the state admits, dismissal is valid due to insufficient
These results are due, in large part, to the solidarity of the men themselves,
and some excellent, aggressive lawyering by assorted defense counsel, among
them J. Soffiyah Elijah of Harvard Law School.
Several years ago, in a statement calling for support for the San Francisco 8,
I implored supporters to fight for them now, before they fell into the clutches
of the state containment system, instead of after.
Many took up that fight, leading to many of the most recent results.
Order Mumia’s latest book, “Jailhouse Lawyers,” at leftbooks.com.
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