Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Spirit of 66’: An Analysis of Our Political Prisoners and Prisoners Of War

Correction: This article was originally published with Bcde. Abdul Jabbar Caliph as the author, when it was written by Bcde. Akili Shakur. We apologize to the Bcde. Akili and to our readers for the mistake.
In October 1966, under the auspices of founders Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, the Black Panther Party was formed. Due to the conditions surrounding the time period; Police brutality, unsuitable housing, mass incarceration of the impoverished and the limited education provided to minorities (sound familiar?), there was and remains a necessity for change. The men and women of the African community began this struggle immediately following our capture and subsequent displacement at the hands of our European oppressors many years ago. Conditions continued to deteriorate despite the efforts of our ancestors. Yet, it was in their spirit that Marcus Garvey,  Malcolm X and other comrades picked up the mantle and moved forward  constantly reminding us that the struggle continues……..into this atmosphere came the likes of Marshall “Eddie” Conway and George Wright.

Eddie Conway, our comrade and brother has been unjustly incarcerated since 1970. I say “unjustly” because the fact remains that there is no legitimate evidence supporting his conviction. In 1971 he was convicted of the murder of a Baltimore city police officer. He was sentenced to life as a result of this conviction. The statement of his alleged accomplice was recanted, his alibi not even considered and the word of police officers with prior knowledge of Mr. Conway was tainted at best. The officers claim to have had no knowledge of Eddie Conway (except having seen him on their patrols) and identified him in a photo shoot. However, records indicate that there were Baltimore city police detectives listed as founders of the Baltimore chapter of the Black Panther Party (of which Eddie Conway had become Minister of Defense). Also, based on information obtained by these personnel, the FBI had launched an investigation into the activities of Comrade Eddie. These facts support the likelihood that not only was the police aware of who Eddie Conway was but in fact targeted him. Despite the confirmation from his boss that he was working when the shooting took place, he remains in the Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI) in Maryland.  There have been numerous requests to address this gross miscarriage of justice yet to no avail. The last major effort culminating in the Baltimore City council requesting a pardon from the governor in 2002.This invoked an outcry from Baltimore police officers. Why? One would ask. How could this happen and not be corrected? The answer would be what the FBI has termed “Seditious Conspiracy”.

During this time period, another young man by the name of George Wright had escaped from prison where he was serving 15-30yrs for a murder (that again could hardly be proven) in 1962. After he and others escaped, they went to Detroit and joined the Black Liberation Army, the military arm of the Black Panther Party. In 1972, he and 4 other comrades hijacked a plane and consequently embarrassed the FBI. They were forced to strip down and give the comrades 1million dollars in exchange for the passengers. Afterward, they had the crew take them to another airport where they picked up a navigation expert en route to their destination, Algeria, where Comrade Eldridge Cleaver was in hiding. It is important to note that none of the flight crew or the navigator was harmed during this event. Upon arrival in Algeria they were granted asylum, but were asked to give back the money by the Algerian government under pressure from the American government. Some of the BLA members eventually fled to France and were tried and convicted in a French court. However, the French declined to extradite them as this excerpt from the associated press reveals:
The group eventually made their way to France, where Wright's associates were tracked down, arrested, tried and convicted in Paris in 1976. France refused to extradite them to the US where they would have faced much longer sentences. According to news reports at the time, the defense hailed the light sentences they were given as "a condemnation of American racism" after the jury found "extenuating circumstances" in their actions, apparently agreeing with the defense’s assertion that the hijacking had been motivated by "racial oppression in the United States"
Yes, extenuating circumstances motivated by racial oppression in the United States. A French jury acknowledged the issue of racial oppression in the United States in 1976. This issue has not subsided. In fact, despite the appearance of improvement, the condition has worsened. This depleted condition was instigated by the beefed up internal military of the government, the police, and its investigative espionage branch, the FBI. So, why do we continue to fight for justice? What gives us the right? Why is the government wrong for its treatment of these two men in particular? For the answers, let’s examine a time tested American document, The Declaration of Independence.
IN Congress, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —
Let us examine, for a moment, the last statement in this portion of the declaration. “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” This statement is in bold print when listed in the 1966 Party Platform and Program as an explanation for the 10 programs’ last point;
10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace. And as our major political objective, a United Nations-supervised plebiscite to be held throughout the Black colony in which only Black colonial subjects will be allowed to participate for the purpose of determining the will of Black people as to their national destiny.
 The aforementioned statement, is the statement that legally entitles us, as a people of separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitles us, to the right of self-determination. A right long denied by the oppressive system established as a byproduct of Capitalism here in the United States. American is guilty of greater offenses against Africans here in these United States than any listed in the Declaration toward England! They have even gone as far as to subvert their own laws to quell what they deem “Seditious activity”. An example would be the current attempt to extradite George Wright. George Wright was granted political asylum by the government of Portugal. As a result, NO government should be entitled to request his extradition. This fact has not stopped American from pursuing its campaign to track down as many former BLA and BPP members as possible and subject them to incarceration or worse! If a government engages in a long train of abuses and usurpations, like abusing its power and forcing another government or institution to heed their demands, and pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, what should happen to such a Government? It is imperative that we never relent in our struggle to throw off the yoke of capitalism and its son, oppression. This country has murdered men in violation of its own laws, as in the case of Troy Davis, when the Supreme court acknowledged there was doubt, albeit “minimal doubt”. I’m quite certain that falls within the scope of “beyond a reasonable”. They have held Eddie Conway for over 40yrs with no valid evidence. They are now attempting to extradite George Wright, outside the scope of their authority. They have even gone as far as to attempt to open conversations with Cuba by requesting the return of Assata Shakur. They pursue our elder comrades that dared to struggle against them more diligently than they pursue the old German soldiers responsible for the atrocities against the Jews and WE are the victims! War with this system is necessary. It was then and continues to be now. The time for superfluous rhetoric is over the time for action is now!

During this month, the 45th anniversary of the establishment of the Black Panther Party, let us not forget the comrades that fought for our liberation and died or are currently incarcerated. Although the list is long, I will be brief and mentioned just a few; George Jackson, Huey P. Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Stokely Carmichael, Albert Nuh Washington, Kuwasi Balagoon, Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, W. L. Nolen, Cleveland Edwards, Alvin Miller, Khatari Gaulden, Billy Christmas, James McClain, Jonathan Jackson, little Bobby Hutton, Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter, John Huggins and this year Donald Cox and Geronimo ji jaga Pratt have all passed. There a host of others and a salute them all with the fist of power. There are a host of comrades that remain incarcerated; Russell Maroon Shoats, Jalil Muntaqim, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Sundiata Acoli, Herman Bell, Ruchell Magee, H. rap Brown, Hugo Pinell, Mumia Abu Jamal, Eddie Conway and currently George Wright. Again there are many others and I salute them all with the fist of power. Let us not forget those exiled such as our sister Assata Shakur and the many that are still among us! Revolutionary love to you all!   
All Power To The People! Uhuru Sasa na Diama! Lasima Tushinde Mbilashaka!
 Bcde. Akili Shakur

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