Truthout Article on US Political Prisoners

July 27th, 2015

Lynne wanted everyone to read this article:

Beyond Innocence: US Political Prisoners and the Fight Against Mass Incarceration

Friday, 24 July 2015 00:00 By Dan Berger, Truthout | Report

(Image: Lauren Walker / Truthout)

(Image: Lauren Walker / Truthout)

Help Truthout keep publishing stories like this: They can’t be found in corporate media! Make a tax-deductible donation today.

President Obama’s recent statements about mass incarceration, together with his decision to commute the sentences of 46 people serving lengthy and life sentences in federal prison on drug charges, treat “nonviolent drug offenders” as the symbolic figureheads of America’s prison problem. This framing seems to imply that everyone else actually deserves to be in prison.

But the world’s biggest prison system is not filled with nonviolent drug offenders alone. Before and alongside the war on drugs, mass incarceration was built through the wholesale repression of radical movements – especially in communities of color.

Take, for example, the cases of two other people who have long sought commutations from Obama and other presidents before him: Leonard Peltier and Oscar Lopez Rivera. Both men are longtime activists who have each served more than 30 years in prison and garnered international support for their release from figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and organizations such as Amnesty International.

“We have to demand freedom for those who struggle for freedom.”

Peltier is an Anishinabe-Lakota former member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) serving two life sentences for the 1975 death of two FBI agents killed during a confrontation between FBI and AIM on the Pine Ridge reservation. Lopez Rivera is a Puerto Rican former community organizer from Chicago who is serving a 55-year sentence for “seditious conspiracy,” an outmoded charge that makes it illegal to plot against the US government.

Throughout the 20th century, the United States has tried dozens of Puerto Rican independence activists with seditious conspiracy – including 11 of Lopez Rivera’s codefendants, whom President Clinton freed in 1999 after a remarkable campaign for their release.

“We have to demand freedom for those who struggle for freedom,” said Alejandro Molina, a member of the coordinating committee for the National Boricua Human Rights Campaign, a prominent organization demanding freedom for Lopez Rivera.

Peltier and Lopez Rivera are two among dozens of people incarcerated for actions they took as part of radical social movements. Many are former members of the Black Panther Party – people such as Herman Bell, Romaine Chip Fitzgerald and Ed Poindexter – who have been in prison for more than 40 years. They are some of America’s political prisoners.

For some, the idea of political prisoners conjures images of far-off dictatorial regimes imprisoning opponents for their beliefs. Yet this country has a long history of imprisoning its dissidents. Political prisoners have included people incarcerated for nonviolent direct actions, such as sabotaging nuclear weapons facilities or participating in civil disobedience. But the ones who have received the longest sentences and the harshest treatment inside are people who have been convicted of violent offenses, typically against police, or conspiring against the government.

In fact, political prisoners have been the canaries in the coal mine for mass incarceration: Some of the most distinguishing features of the American prison state – aggressive policing, hefty charges, preventive detention, lengthy sentences, parole denial and prolonged solitary confinement – were first deployed as means to stop radical social movements beginning in the 1960s. Political dissidents and other oppressed communities remain guinea pigs for the intensity of American punishment. Read the rest of this entry »

Peoples Police Brutality Tribunal – Tomorrow in NYC

July 10th, 2015

Lynne plans to attend.

Lynne’s Priority: WBAI

June 24th, 2015

Members of our organization and other advocacy groups that organize for workers’ rights, human rights, tenant rights, anti-racism, release of political prisoners,  prison reform and/or ending mass incarceration, etc. are regularly heard on WBAI Radio, 99.5FM. While as another non-profit that solicits contributions, WBAI could be seen as a competitor for your donations, we want to say that is not the case.

WBAI, www.wbai.org, amplifies our movement. It facilitates the distribution of information about our work and allows for engaging dialogue and debate about the issues of the day. We think it’s important to strengthen this radio station and ask that you adjust your finances in order to support WBAI.

Your membership will provide much-needed financial support and importantly, it will make you eligible to vote in this summer’s election for  WBAI’s Local Station Board. (Only those who have volunteered 3 hours or contributed at least $25 in the year ending July 14 will have voting rights.) The local board SHAPES THE STATION’S DIRECTION, with a role in selecting and evaluating the station’s management and reviewing its budget and spending.

Much is at stake about the station’s path forward, both in surviving a difficult financial climate and in determining how and whether to strengthen its coverage of the critical movements for progressive change. In order to advance efforts to keep WBAI strong on both counts, the WBAI Justice & Unity Campaign (www.justiceunity.org) is assembling a slate of diverse, anti-racist, community-involved candidates to run for seats on the board. By becoming a member, you will have a say in who gets elected.

You can become a member by contributing $25, by July 14, at: www.give2wbai.org or

212-209-2950.

We are Still Trying to Preserve WBAI!

May 29th, 2015

The WBAI Justice & Unity Campaign is a multi-racial/multi-national coalition working to ensure inclusion on all sides of the microphone at WBAI Radio (99.5 FM, www.wbai.org) and to keep the station focused as a progressive venue for information and organizing by peace, justice, and workers’ movements in the Tri-state area. More at www.justiceunity.org.

We ask that you make a donation to the WBAI Justice & Unity Campaign. You can send your check or money order to:

WBAI Justice & Unity Campaign
PO Box 2690
Manhattanville Station
New York, NY 10027

Lynne speaking at Oscar Lopez River political prisoner forum

May 21st, 2015

May 21, 2015 at 6:30pm

147 West 24th Street, 2nd floor

Manhattan

Thanks to the generous support of Resist, Inc. - Funding social change since 1967.