Sunday, February 19, 2012

Make It Plain: Marshall Eddie Conway - Political Prisoner of Action

Abdul Jabbar Caliph

Uhuru Comrades!

For the past four decades we have witness the noble courage of Marshall Eddie Conway, a political prisoner and victim of one of Americas’ most inhuman, anti-black counterinsurgency programs every developed. A program better known to us under the acronym of the "COINTELPRO", or COunter-INTelligence PROgram, the U.S. government run action that was responsible the imprisonment, death and exile of many of our comrades during the 1960’s and 70’s.

Eddies’ case, like many of our fallen comrades, highlights the vicious tactics that the federal government used to destroy a movement that was established for the betterment of humanity. A movement that worked to end the political oppression and economical exploitation of the working class in this capitalist-colonialist country. Eddie is one of literally thousands who worked to establish a socialist agenda for the betterment of society as a whole, and his case is significant for numerous reasons, the most important of which we should understand:
  1. Comrade Conway's was associated with  the Pan-African Liberation Movement(PALM) and was an active member of the Black Panther Party(BPP) that was established during the Civil Rights/Black Power era of this country;
  2. Comrade Conway’s very existence in this country was that of a colonized subject, therefore he realized that his people suffered from political oppression and economical exploitation more than any other race of people. Eddie was clear then and still is clear that black people exist in this country as colonized people;
  3. Comrade Conway’s ideology and political affiliation like many other is why he is still considered a political prisoner/prisoner of war and remains trapped inside Maryland prison system.
We need to understand the legacy of the Black Panther Party (BPP)/Black Liberation Army (BLA) and its effects on the political movement for the liberation of the African working class; along with its relationship to the struggle for the betterment of humanity. Through hard work, they were able build a serious international movement to address the plight of the African working class in this country and throughout the world. They were able to form alliances with other progressive and revolutionary organizations that represented various racial/ethnic fractions that existed at the time. Political coalitions were formed with various labor and student unions, as well as with organizations such as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Brown Berets. They were also able to establish survival programs for the people that addressed their needs such as the sickle anemia program and the free breakfast program for children before they went to school - two programs the U.S. government has appropriated for its own use.

Comrades, this is the legacy of the Black Panther Party, the work that Eddie was involved in and this is the reason that Marshall Eddie Conway remains in prison to this very day, characterized by the Criminal (In)Justice System as a security threat to this nation. Despite being framed for the alleged murder and assault of a Baltimore City Police Officer, Comrade Conway has refused to give up his fight on the behalf of the people. Despite the fact that we have seen two city resolutions passed on the behalf of this comrade, caling for his freedom, one of which was signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley, this man still remains in prison as a political prisoner! 

Comrade Dhoruba bin Wahad (Richard Moore), former political prisoner of war and member of the Black Panther Party, summed it up correctly when he stated the following about the BPP:
“In fact, the BPP never posted a serious military threat to the U.S. government, it was the popularity of Ten-Point Program, our beliefs in the guaranteed rights of everyone to food, clothing, decent housing, free health care, education, etc., that terrified the government and motivated them to launch an all-out attack against us.”
This was confirmed despite the fact that J. Edger Hoover, the former head of the FBI, declaring the Black Panther Party to be “the greatest threat to security of this country”. Eddie goes on to point out the following in his book The Greatest Threat about the attack on the Black Panther Party when he stated:
“The opposition that the BPP faced presented to the U.S. world image could have been crushed. That would have been easy enough militarily, but the real problem of ideas would remain. It was necessary to not just destroy the BPP but also to demonize and criminalize its actions to dissuade future generations from its course.”
Nearly four decades later we see that COINTELPRO was successful in it goal of destroying a movement and leaving its victims to languish in prison or in exile, labeled as criminals. These comrades have paid the ultimate price and have sacrificed and suffered on the behalf of the people! Many of them are suffering from psychological and physical trauma that no human being deserves to be subjected to and yet they still refuse to give up on the movement - even through the movement, and in many cases, have given up on them and has failed to build a successful political prisoners/ prisoners of war movement. Many of these comrades are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to the constant threat of death along with being the subjects of low-intensisty-warfare. These were the goals and objectives of this government’s cowardly program:
  1. The prevention of the coalition of any Black Nationalist organization, for in unity there is strength. They realized that this might be step towards a real “Mau Mau” in America, the beginning of a true black revolution;
  2. The prevention and development and raise of a “Messiah” figure that could have the ability and desire to direct a unified black nationalist movement;
  3. The prevention of violence on the part of Black Militants Nationalist organizations, this was of primary importance of this program.
  4. The identification and neutralization of any potential threats to the internal security of this nation and overseas interest;
  5. The prevention of any Black Militant Nationalist from gaining any type of respectability;
  6. The prevention of long-range growth of black militant organizations, especially among the youth.
It is important that we understand what a political prisoner/prisoner of war is. Comrade Eddie's book “The Greatest Threat” defines the two:
  1. A political prisoner is a person, sanctioned by the movement, involved in character and deeds, who is held in confinement for support of, or identification with, a people struggling for the freedom from an oppressive government or against its oppressive policies.
  2. A prisoner of war is a sanctioned national combatant or ally of an international armed conflict who is held in confinement for acts in support of people struggling for freedom, self-determination, or independence from oppressive, colonial, alien dominated, or racist government regime and its policies.
J. Soffiyah Elijah, a Harvard Law School Professor and leading attorney in the political prisoner/prisoner of war movement, is also quoted in Conway's book as giving the following description in her article, “The Reality of Political Prisoners in the United States: What September 11 Taught Us About Defending Them”:
“Political prisoners are men and women who have been incarcerated for their political views and actions. They have consciously fought against social injustice, colonialism and/or imperialism and have been incarcerated as a result of political commitments. Even while in prison, these men and women continue to adhere to their principles. This definition of the term “political prisoner” is accepted throughout the international community.”
Comrades, no matter what social, cultural, political or religious community you are apart of, you need to understand that these comrades, because of the path that they took and because of the racial and class structure they represent, are often given the harshest sentences possible! You also need to understand that while the United States does not recognize political prisoners (PP) or prisoners of war (POW) the rest of humanity does and no matter how you define these terms, political prisoners and prisoners of war do exist. 

Comrades I believe that we have chosen the correct path and have selected the correct campaign to develop and work on, the campaign to free Marshall Eddie Conway! The Liberate Baltimore Coalition has once again risen to the occasion and set the correct path that any progressive organization/revolutionary movement must take if it is to truly represent the people! No movement can represent the people if it does not or will not speak about the issue of political prisoners and prisoners of war!

In conclusion, I leave you with the following quote from Eddie’s book Marshall Law and may it endow you with the spirit to keep fighting on the behalf of those who have been wronged because of their race, class, religion or sexuality and beliefs.

Resistance is a natural response to oppression and the story of African descent in the western hemisphere is one of rebellion and broken shackles. Women and men marching on; these rag tag armies of black, brown and yellow soldiers armed with farm tools, the occasional musket and a plan to kill the slave master. Rising up out of their bondage, the rebels intended to be free in this world, or the next. Get free, or die trying. Charles Deslondes. Makandal. Nat Turner. These names would produces a fear so strong in whites that the thought of an armed and angry black man would echo that fear for generations to come. The race (class) struggle of the late 1960’s called to mind the same fear and anger.”

0 Response(s):