Ruchell Magee is the longest held political prisoner in the U.S., having been locked up since 1963. Politicized in prison, he later participated in the Marin County Courthouse Rebellion, the attempted liberation of political prisoner George Jackson. Ruchell Magee pled guilty to the charge of aggravated kidnapping for his part in the assault. In return for his plea, the Attorney General asked the Court to dismiss the charge of murder (Magee being the shooter of Judge Haley). Magee later attempted unsuccessfully to withdraw his plea, and was sentenced in 1975 to life in prison. He has lost numerous bids for parole. He has also worked tirelessly as a jailhouse lawyer, working on his own case and helping many other prisoners win their freedom.
He had been in L.A. for 6 months when he and his cousin Leroy got in a fight over a $10 bag of marijuana. In court, the two ended up with trumped up charges of kidnapping and robbery and he was given life in prison.
While in prison Ruchell began learning the long and rich history of Black liberation history. He adopted the middle name of Cinque, after the enslaved African who led the takeover of the slave ship Amistad, which eventually lead to the freedom of all the slaves on board. He began petitioning his unjust sentence to no avail. Although critically wounded on August 7, 1970, Magee was the sole survivor among the four brave Black men who conducted the courthouse slave rebellion, leaving him to be charged with everything they could throw at him.
Josh Williams is the only remaining political prisoner from the Ferguson/St. Louis uprisings. He was an on-the-ground activist and protester that helped lead one of the largest movements against police violence in modern history. A few months after his 19th birthday, he was convicted and sentenced to a crime with almost no evidence. His unjust and harsh sentence was an attempt to intimidate the movement and make an example out of him. Josh has continued to speak truth to power and use his voice to unify communities against oppression.
Mumia Abu-Jamal, originally Wesley Cook, (born April 24, 1954, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.), American journalist and political activist sentenced to death and then to life in prison for the 1981 alleged murder of a police officer, Daniel Faulkner, in Philadelphia.
Mumia stablished his status as a political activist while still a teenager. At age 14, he took part in a protest against a rally for presidential candidate George Wallace and was subsequently arrested by Philadelphia police. The arrest did not deter him from further political activism, and in 1968 he became one of the founding members of the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panther Party, committed to African American empowerment and self-defense. He briefly worked at the Black Panthers’ newspaper in Oakland, California, in 1970 and returned to Philadelphia a short time later. He also legally changed his name to Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1970.
According to his own account, in the early morning hours of December 9, 1981, Abu-Jamal was driving his taxi when he heard gunshots and saw his brother standing in the street, staggering and dizzy. Abu-Jamal said that he himself was then shot and beaten by a police officer and that someone else shot officer Faulkner. Abu-Jamal also maintained that he was beaten and tortured by police officers prior to receiving medical attention for his wounds.
For the past 40 years, roughly, Mumia has been held in isolation on Death Row without appeal.
On May 2 1973, Black Panther activist Assata Olugbala Shakur (fsn) Joanne Deborah Chesimard, was pulled over by the New Jersey State Police, shot twice and then charged with murder of a police officer. Assata spent six and a half years in prison under brutal circumstances before escaping out of the maximum security wing of the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey in 1979 and moving to Cuba.
Statement from Assata: “My name is Assata (“she who struggles”) Olugbala ( “for the people” ) Shakur (“the thankful one”), and I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the U.S. government’s policy towards people of color. I am an ex political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984. I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one.
In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it “greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.”
Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin
Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (born Hubert Gerold Brown; October 4, 1943), formerly known as H. Rap Brown, was the fifth chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s, and during a short-lived (six months) alliance between SNCC and the Black Panther Party, he served as their minister of justice.
On March 9, 2002, nearly two years after the shooting, al-Amin was convicted of 13 criminal charges, including Kinchen’s murder. Four days later, he was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. He was sent to Georgia State Prison, the state’s maximum-security facility near Reidsville, Georgia.
Otis Jackson, a man incarcerated for unrelated charges, claimed that he committed the Fulton County shooting two years before al-Amin was convicted of the same crime, but the court did not consider Jackson’s statement as evidence. Jackson’s statements corroborated details from 911 calls following the shooting, including a bleeding man seen limping from the scene: Jackson said he knocked on doors attempting to solicit a ride while suffering from wounds sustained in the firefight with deputies Kinchen and English.
A leader and activist in the American Indian Movement, has been in prison for 43 years as of 2020. Peltier participated in the AIM encampments on the Pine RIdge Reservation. In 1975 an FBI operation led to a confrontation in which two FBI agents died. In a COINTELPRO style operation, he was sentenced to life for murdering two FBI agents. Evidence exonerating Peltier was withheld by the FBI. In his appeal, the government admitted it had no evidence to show he killed the two FBI agents.
Native American activist Leonard Peltier has spent over 40 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Prosecutors and federal agents manufactured evidence against him (including the so-called “murder weapon”); hid proof of his innocence; presented false testimony obtained through torturous interrogation techniques; ignored court orders; and lied to the jury. People are commonly set free due to a single constitutional violation, but Peltier—innocent and faced with a staggering number of constitutional violations—has yet to receive equal justice.
Reverend Joy Powell
As a pastor and a consistent activist against police brutality, violence and oppression in her community in New York. She was warned by the Rochester Police department that she was a target because of her speaking out against corruption. On many occasions, from 1995 to 2006, Rev. Joy had held rallies and spoke out against the police brutality and “police justifications” in Rochester NY. In 2006, she was accused and convicted of 1st Degree Burglary and Assault. Joy is sure the prosecution was politically motivated based on her activism through her organization, Equality and Justice For All.
An all-white jury tried her; the state provided no evidence and no eyewitnesses. Rev. Joy was not allowed to discuss her activism or say that she was a pastor. The person that testified for her was not allowed to tell the court that he knew Rev. Joy through their activist work and the church. Furthermore, Judge Francis Affronti promised he was going to give her a harsh sentence because he was biased against her. While serving a 16-year sentence for the conviction, a cold murder case was pinned on her. The trial was fraught with misconduct, yet she was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life. She is currently seeking counsel to file an appeal.
Edward Poindexter and Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa (David Rice) were convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1971 for the murder of Omaha Police Officer Larry Minard. Minard died when a suitcase dynamite bomb exploded in a vacant house in North Omaha on August 17, 1970. Officer John Tess was also injured in the explosion.
Poindexter and the late Wopashite Mondo Eyen we Langa are referred to by some supporters as the “Omaha 2.” Their conviction was controversial and has never been accepted as legitimate by many in the African American community in Omaha. Poindexter and Mondo were suspects- before there was any evidence- because they were leaders of the National Committee to Combat Fascism (NCCF), an offshoot of the Black Panther Party. A 15-year old boy named Duane Peak carried a suitcase around North Omaha for six hours on the Sunday before the bombing. His sister drove him with the suitcase to the neighborhood where the bomb exploded. Peak’s entire family was charged in the first-degree murder of a police officer because they took a car ride with Duane while he was carrying the suitcase.
On July 11, 2018 Red Fawn was sentenced to 57 months pursuant to the terms of a non-cooperating plea agreement accepted by the court on January 22, 2018. In exchange for a guilty plea to the charge of Civil Disorder and Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Convicted Felon, the charge of Discharge of a Firearm in Relation to a Felony Crime of Violence was dismissed. Had Fallis gone to trial and been convicted of this charge, she’d have faced a minimum of 10 years and risked up to life in prison. She was sentenced to 18 months on the Civil Disorder charge and to a concurrent term of 57 months on the Possession charge and is in FCI Dublin, California.
To learn more about Red Fawn and how to support her, please visit her Support Committee website here. To make a contribution directly to Red Fawn (funds that will be added to her commissary to cover costs of phone calls and other needs in prison), please do so here. The information you will need to accomplish this is: Red Fawn Fallis, Prisoner No.16358-059.
You can also make a financial contribution to the legal defense for Red Fawn and the other Water Protectors facing federal charges here.
Kojo Bomani Sababu
Kojo Bomani Sababu is a New Afrikan Prisoner of War. He is currently serving time for actions with the Black Liberation Army and later an attempted escape from prison with Puerto Rican Independista Oscar Lopez Rivera.
Kojo was born on May 27th 1953 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 1962 his father died coming home from work, and just two years later his mother was murdered. Because she was a guiding presence in his life, Kojo was devastated by the loss of his mother. Still, he continued to live out the lesson she taught him, that education is a tool with which to change society.
Kojo was captured on December 19th 1975 along with anarchist Ojore Lutalo during a bank expropriation. He was also charged with the murder of a drug dealer in his neighborhood. He was convicted of seditious conspiracy in 1981 and sentenced to 55 years in prison.
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is a Pakistani neuroscientist with degrees from MIT and Brandeis University, who was convicted of multiple felonies. She is serving an 86-year sentence at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.
On 31 July 2008, while Siddiqui was still being treated in Afghanistan, she was charged in a sealed criminal complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York with assault with a deadly weapon and with attempting to kill a United States Army Captain “while engaged in… official duties.” In total, she was charged on two counts of attempted murder of U.S. nationals, officers, and employees, assault with a deadly weapon, carrying and using a firearm, and three counts of assault on U.S. officers and employees.
Although Siddiqui was ultimately convicted in a U.S. court of assault with intent to murder her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan and sentenced to 86 years in prison, however, four British Parliamentarians wrote to President Obama “there was an utter lack of concrete evidence tying Dr. Siddiqui to the weapon she allegedly fired at a U.S. officer”, calling for her to be freed immediately. The weapon she allegedly fired in the small interrogation room did not have her fingerprints, nor was there evidence the gun was fired.
Ana Belén Montes
Ana Belén Montes (born February 28, 1957) is a former American senior analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency in the United States and a convicted spy. On September 21, 2001, she was arrested and subsequently charged with conspiracy to commit espionage for the government of Cuba. Montes eventually pleaded guilty to spying and in October 2002, was sentenced to a 25-year prison term followed by five years’ probation.
She was a Pentagon intelligence analyst who alerted the Cuban government of plans the U.S. government had of militarized aggression against Cuba. Belen Montes told the judge who heard her case, “I engaged in the activity that brought me before you because I obeyed my conscience rather than the law…We have displayed intolerance and contempt towards Cuba for most of the last four decades. I hope my case in some way will encourage our government to abandon its hostility towards Cuba and to work with Havana in a spirit of tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding.” She was arrested in 2001, pled guilty to one count of espionage, and is being held in solitary confinement in a Fort Worth, Texas.
Ana may call her mother once a week and speak with her for 15-20 minutes. Currently, she may read books (sent from bookstores or publishers) and watch documentaries and CNN. She maintains no relationships with anyone in the prison and is always alone in her cell, where she has been confined since 2002.
The Holy Land 5
Soon after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, the largest Muslim charity in the United States – the Holy Land Foundation – was shut down, its assets frozen and five of its senior staff arrested by the FBI.The charity was founded in California in 1989 and provided aid to a number of Palestinian causes. It also offered help to refugee communities in Jordan, Lebanon and other needy people across the Middle East and the rest of the world.
Shukri Abu-Baker and Ghassan Elashi of the Holy Land Foundation, were each sentenced in 2008 to 65 years in prison. Three others of the Holy Land 5 were sentenced to 13-20 years: Mohammad El-Mezain, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mufid Abdulqader. All were imprisoned for giving more than $12 million to charitable groups in Palestine which funded hospitals, schools and fed the poor and orphans
The FBI and other police forces in Texas and California conducted raids on most of their family houses early in the morning on July 26, 2004. The criminal trial against the Holy Land Foundation Five opened three years later. It culminated in a hung jury. The retrial in Dallas federal court began in September 2008, and included unprecedented testimony from “Avi,” the pseudonym assumed by an Israeli intelligence agent whose qualifications the defense was unable to probe. Judge Jorge Solis, although he instructed jurors that they were allowed to weigh the agent’s credibility in light of his anonymity, nonetheless brushed aside the defendants’ right under the Sixth Amendment “to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” Nothing in the U.S. Constitution until then permitted conviction by anonymous accusations, but the court convicted all five men.
A Palestinian nationalist who has fought for the liberation both in Palestine and here in the US. Jurors acquitted Ashqar of racketeering conspiracy, but was still sentenced to 11 years and 3 months in prison for refusing to testify before a grand jury that was investigating money-laundering and non-profits funding “terrorist” organizations. These charges are broad sweeping and are the same types of charges being brought against Dr. Dhafir.
Asqar was found guilty in 2007 of “refusal to collaborate with federal grand juries investigating the Palestinian anti-occupation movement”. Despite being aquitted of initial charges of racketeering, he was sentenced to prison for 11 years. Dr. Ashqar, formerly a professor at Howard University, has long been a victim of government surveillance, harrasment, and intimidation for his support of Hamas and the people of Palestine.
He was released on June 13, 2017.
Marius Mason (formerly Marie Mason) is a transgender, environmental and animal rights activist. In 1999, in the name of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) he set fire to a lab at the University of Michigan that was conducting research on genetically modified organisms (GMO). After Marius’ husband turned states-evidence, Marius was threatened with a life sentence for the arson and other acts of sabotage. With little financial stability and fear of dragging his family into a costly legal battle, Marius pled guilty and was given an extreme sentence of nearly 22 years. No one was ever harmed in any of his actions.
Marius lived and worked in the Detroit area for most of his life. Like the late Earth First! (EF!) organizer, Judi Bari, he was part of a generation of radicals who worked to link the environmental and labor movements, and was jointly active in both EF! and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). It was this alliance which led to the initial success of the anti-globalization movement such as at the 1999 anti-WTO demonstration in Seattle. Mason was an editor of the Industrial Worker, the IWW newspaper, and a musician who recorded a neo-folk album, Not For Profit, with fellow EF!er Darryl Cherney in 1999. He also worked with numerous political as well as traditional charity groups.
He was charged with involvement with a December,1999 arson at a Michigan State University genetics laboratory at Agriculture Hall and a January, 2000 arson of logging equipment in Mesick, Michigan. Both arsons were claimed by the Earth Liberation Front.
Jalil Abdul Muntaqim (born Anthony Jalil Bottom on October 18, 1951) is a former member of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and the Black Liberation Army (BLA). In August 1971, he was arrested in California along with Albert “Nuh” Washington and Herman Bell and were charged with the killing of two NYPD police officers, Waverly Jones and Joseph A. Piagentini, in New York City on May 21.
In 1974, he was convicted on two counts of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with possible parole after 22 years. Muntaqim has been the subject of attention for being repeatedly denied parole despite being eligible since 1993. In December 2018, having served 47 years, he was denied parole for the 11th time. In June 2020, Muntaqim was reportedly sick with Coronavirus disease.
Simón Trinidad was a banker and a college professor from a prominent family in the department of Cesar, Colombia. His birth name is Juvenal Ovidio Ricardo Palmera and he was commonly known as Ricardo Palmera. Despite his relatively high social standing, Simón Trinidad had many social concerns including concern for the plight of poor agricultural workers and also about the peaceful resolution of the armed conflict which ravaged his country.
Simón worked primarily in education and on political questions in the FARC-EP. When the Colombian government and the FARC-EP entered into peace negotiations in San Vicente del Caguan in 1998, Simón took a leading role as a negotiator, becoming well known in the world press and among diplomats from many countries.
Simón’s political extradition and trial, and the inordinately harsh sentence, are a great injustice. Importantly, Simón Trinidad remains a potent symbol of the Colombian people’s search for peace. Simón was named one of the FARC-EP chief negotiators at the recent peace talks in Havana, Cuba. Americans can work to end this injustice and to support the Colombian people’s search for peace and demand freedom for Simón Trinidad.
Mutulu Shakur was born on August 8, 1950, in Baltimore, Maryland as Jeral Wayne Williams. At age seven he moved to Jamaica, Queens, New York City with his mother and younger sister. Shakur’s political and social consciousness began to develop early in his life. His mother suffered not only from being Black and female, but was also blind. These elements constituted Shakur’s first confrontation with the state, while assisting his mother to negotiate through the maze that made up the social service system. Through this experience, Shakur learned that the system did not operate in the interests of Black people and that Black people must control the institutions that affect their lives.
In 1988 Dr. Shakur was convicted of RICO conspiracy, armed bank robbery and bank robbery killings and sentenced to 60 years in prison. At no time did the evidence show that Dr. Shakur killed anyone. At two trials the evidence indicated others were responsible for the deaths (one of which became a government witness in return for a sentencing deal). The remaining defendants were acquitted for the murder allegations presented by the government. At the time Dr. Shakur was a well-known acupuncturist using his skills to address rampant drug addiction among young black people. He was a co-founder of the Republic of New Afrika movement, participated in presentations to the United Nations on discrimination experienced by black communities throughout the U.S. and by 1970 was a subject of the FBI’s illegal COINTELPRO infiltration program.
Oso Blanco (Byron Chubbuck)
Oso Blanco is an indigenous activist originally serving 80 years in prison for a series of bank expropriations throughout the southwest in 1998-1999. In 2016, 25 years were taken off his sentence when he won his Johnson v. U.S. appeal. He is part of the wolf clan Cherokee/Choctaw, raised in New Mexico. His indigenous name is Oso Blanco or Yona Unega in Cherokee. He was known to the FBI as ‘Robin the Hood’ because he informed the bank tellers he was expropriating funds to assist the poor and indigenous people fighting for independence in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.
He was charged with the robbery of 13 banks and the attempted robbery of a fourteenth. In addition to the robberies, he was also charged with two counts of assaulting a peace officer, two counts of possessing and discharging a firearm, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, all in connection the standoff.
On December 21, 2000, Byron Chubbuck, was being transported by the U.S. Marshall’s service from Albuquerque Federal Court to Santa Fe County Jail, when, after unlocking his handcuffs, kicked out the back window of the prison transport van. According to statement made by Chubbuck on a radio interview, the key to the handcuffs was purchased from a prison guard. Projected release date isn’t until 2046.
Russell Maroon Shoatz is a dedicated community activist, founding member of the Black Unity Council, former member of the Black Panther Party and soldier in the Black Liberation Army. He is serving multiple life sentences as a US-held political prisoner/prisoner of war.
In January of 1972, Russell was captured. He was convicted of the attack on the police station and sentenced to life. Russell escaped with three others from Huntingdon State Prison in 1977. Two were recaptured and the third was killed during the escape. Russell remained at large for 27 days, leading to a massive manhunt by local, state, and federal forces, as well as citizen recruits from nearby white, rural areas.
Russell was placed back into long-term solitary confinement in 1991, at SCI Greene in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. He would remain in solitary confinement for over 22 years, where despite being held in 23 hours-a-day lockdown, his commitment to New Afrikan liberation never wavered.
The struggle for Russell’s freedom was reignited in 2013 when his legal team brought suit on the grounds that he had been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and that prison officials had deprived him of his procedural and substantive due process rights for keeping him in solitary confinement without meaningful review and on insufficient grounds.
Bill Dunne is an anti-authoritarian sentenced to 90 years for the attempted liberation of an anarchist prisoner in 1979. He was arrested in 1979 when he and Larry Giddings attempted to free fellow revolutionary Artie Ray Dufur. The two successfully freed Artie, but were arrested after an exchange of fire with police as they were fleeing the scene. Bill was charged with possession of an automatic weapon, auto theft, and with aiding & abetting the escape. Charges further alleged the operation was financed by bank expropriations and facilitated by illegal acquisition of weapons and explosives. Bill received and 80 year federal prison sentence.
In 1983, Bill attempted to escape prison and was given another 15 years in prison. Bill spent seven and a half years in lockdown at the infamous maximum security Marion prison for his attempted prison break. During his time in Marion he helped social prisoners pursue their education, both politically and academically. In one case he helped prisoner Ernesto Santiago receive his GED.
Bill also continues to stay active politically, helping edit and write 4Struggle Magazine, organizing the yearly Running Down the Walls 5K for political prisoners, and served on the ABCF Prisoner Committee. He went before the parole board in the winter of 2014, was rejected and given a 15 year ‘hit’ (meaning he cannot go back to the board for that time period).
Sundiata Acoli, a New Afrikan political prisoner of war, mathematician, and computer analyst, was born January 14, 1937, in Decatur, Texas, and raised in Vernon, Texas. He graduated from Prairie View A & M College of Texas in 1956 with a B.S. in mathematics and for the next 13 years worked for various computer-oriented firms, mostly in the New York area.
During the summer of 1964 he did voter registration work in Mississippi. In 1968 he joined the Harlem Black Panther Party and did community work around issues of schools, housing, jobs, child care, drugs, and police brutality.
In 1969 he and 13 others were arrested in the Panther 21 conspiracy case. He was held in jail without bail and on trial for two years before being acquitted, along with all other defendants, by a jury deliberating less than two hours.
Veronza Bowers Jr. is a former Black Panther Party member framed for the murder of a U.S. Park Ranger. He is being illegally held past his 30 year sentence, making him one of the longest-held political prisoners in U.S. history.Veronza was convicted in the murder of a U.S. Park Ranger on the word of two government informers, both of whom received reduced sentences for other crimes by the Federal prosecutor’s office.
There were no eye-witnesses and no evidence independent of these informants to link him to the crime. At his trial, Veronza offered alibi testimony which was not credited by the jury. Nor was testimony of two relatives of the informants who insisted that they were lying. The informants had all charges against them in this case dropped and one was given $10,000 by the government according to the prosecutor’s post-sentencing report. Veronza has consistently proclaimed his innocence of the crime he never committed, even at the expense of having his appeals for parole denied, for which an admission of guilt and contrition is virtually required, he insists on maintaining his innocence.
Jeremy Hammond is an anarchist computer hacker from Chicago. He is the founder of the computer security training website HackThisSite, created in 2003 following his graduation from Glenbard East High School.
On March 5, 2012, Hammond was arrested by FBI agents in Bridgeport, Chicago ahead of an indictment unsealed the following day in the Lower Manhattan federal district court. He is one of six individuals from the United States, England and Ireland indicted, due to a cooperating witness known online as Sabu.
In November 2013, he was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for leaking the personal information of 860,000 customers of private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) through the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks. This information revealed that Stratfor spies on activists, among others, at the behest of corporations and the U.S. government.
Alvaro Luna Hernandez
Alvaro Luna Hernandez (born May 12, 1952) is a Chicano liberation and prison abolition activist from Alpine, Texas. He is currently serving a 50-year sentence for aggravated assault of a police officer. He is housed in solitary confinement at James V. Allred Unit prison in Iowa Park, Texas where he was transferred after being incarcerated 18 years at Hughes Unit. He spends his time as “Jailhouse Lawyer”, also known as an amateur attorney, assisting indigent inmates he believes to be innocent or deserving in their pursuit of justice.
In the 1990s, Xinachtli worked as the national coordinator of the Ricardo Aldape Guerra Defense Committee, which led the successful struggle to free Mexican national Aldape Guerra from Texas’ death row after being framed by Houston police for allegedly killing a cop. In 1993, he was a non-governmental organization (NGO) delegate before the 49th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. Before the U.N. General Assembly, he vociferously exposed and condemned the U.S. government’s dismal human rights record and its human rights violations of U.S. political prisoners.
In the end, he was convicted of “threatening” the sheriff, but acquitted on the charge of shooting Sgt. Hines in the hand. The mostly-white jury explained that they would have “disgraced” the police and sent the “wrong message” to others that it is justified under law to defend oneself against the armed violence of the state. In a town where the police have ruled Raza barrios with an iron fist, and with someone such as Xinachtli who the police admitted on the stand was a “troublemaker” and someone they all hated, many believe the climate in Texas pressured the jury to charge Xinachtli with threatening a sheriff instead of acquitting him of that charge as well. It also explains the extreme sentence of 50 years handed down by the judge.
Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald
Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, born and raised in Compton, California, joined the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party in early 1969 as a teenager who had just been released from the California Youth Authority. He is currently serving 2 life sentences for the frame up of the murder of a security guard and attempted murder of a CHP officer.
Chip has a chance of release because of changes in California parole law. Currently, people over the age of 65 who have served 25 years or more are prioritized for release. The seriousness of the original offense is no longer enough to deny parole–“some evidence” of current dangerousness is required. And Chip’s age at the time of his arrest–just 19–is a factor to be considered at his hearing. Chip has also suffered from a stroke, and has had few incident reports. Chip has been represented in the past by prisoner rights attorney Charles Carbone.
Michael “Rattler” Markus
Oglala Lakota tribal member Michael Markus (Rattler) was charged alongside 5 indigenous water protectors that aided others in the resistance camps engaging in nonviolent direct action to stop the desecration and construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) near the Standing Rock reservation in the years 2016-2017.
On September 27, 2018, Chief Judge Daniel Hovland sentenced Rattler to 36 months pursuant to a non-cooperating plea agreement previously accepted by the court on February 13, 2018. Under the agreement, the Use of Fire to Commit a Federal Felony Offense charge was dismissed and prosecutors and defense jointly recommended a sentence of three years in prison for the Civil Disorder charge. Rattler self-surrendered to the Bureau of Prisons on November 26, 2018, and was placed in FCI Sandstone in Minnesota.
To learn more about Rattler and how to support him, please visit his Support Committee website here. Supporters can make a financial contribution directly to Rattler here. You can also make a financial contribution to the legal defense for Rattler and the other Water Protectors facing federal charges here.
Matt is a former U.S. Air National Guard drone team member and alleged WikiLeaks courier who worked with the hactivist group Anonymous. After becoming the subject of a national security investigation–and allegations relating to a teenage pornography case which he vehemently denies–he fled from the United States to Canada with his family to seek political asylum and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture. In what represents a moral victory for the DeHart family, the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board judge found that the teenage pornography case against Matt lacked credibility. However, because the IRB considered that the United States still had a functioning democracy, they denied his claim, and on 1 March, 2015 Matt DeHart was handed over into U.S. federal custody.
In 2016, he was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail today in Nashville, TN, in accordance with the plea deal he was coerced into the previous year after being threatened with up to 50 years in prison. Matt has already served three and a half years in prison. He plead guilty to receiving teen ‘pornography,’ consisting of messages dated from 2008 that the U.S. government decided to charge years later. The charging decision only came after the government became aware that Matt was a WikiLeaks and Anonymous supporter, and that Matt had discovered sensitive military files, allegedly destined for WikiLeaks, had been uploaded to a server he ran. In addition to prison time, Matt will be subject to thirteen years of post-release supervision, with likely restrictions on his computer access
Kamau Sadiki is a former member of the Black Panther Party. At the age of 17 he dedicated his life to the service of his people. He worked out of the Jamaica, Queens office of the Black Panther Party. Having internalized the 10 Point Program and Platform, the 3 Main Rules of Discipline and 8 Points of Attention, Kamau used his knowledge to guide his organizing efforts within the Black Community.
Kamau worked in the Free Breakfast Program, getting up every morning, going to his designated assignment and cooking and feeding hungry children before they went to school. When the Free Breakfast Program was over for the day, he reported to the office, gathered his papers and received his assignment for the day, and went out into the community to sell his papers.
On November 10, 2003, Judge Stephanie Manis sentenced Kamau Sadiki to life imprisonment for murder and ten (10) years to run consecutively for armed robbery after a Fulton County Superior Court jury found him guilty for the murder of Atlanta Police Officer James Green on November 3, 1971.
At the time of the murder, nineteen year old Kamau Sadiki was a member of the Black Liberation Army (BLA) which was led by John Thomas. Several members of the BLA, including Mr. Sadiki, left New York City and lived in the Atlanta area for a short period of time. On the night of the murder, two witnesses observed three black males run from a van where Officer Green sat at a gas station in downtown Atlanta. The witnesses failed to identify Mr. Sadiki from a photographic line-up. There was no physical evidence that implicated Mr. Sadiki. In 1971, the Atlanta police department closed the case as unsolved.
The NATO 3
Brian Church, Jared Chase, and Brent Betterly, are the so-called “NATO 3.” According to prosecutors, the three are self-proclaimed anarchists and members of “Black Bloc,” a band of protesters who typically mask their faces to avoid identification. They were arrested prior to the start of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.
After a two-week trial and nearly 8 hours of deliberations, jurors Feb. 7, 2014, rejected the two most serious counts of the indictment–providing material support for terrorism and conspiracy to commit terrorism. Instead, they convicted the three of two counts of misdemeanor mob action and two felony counts of possessing an incendiary device. They acquitted them on two other counts of possessing an incendiary device and one count of solicitation of arson.
The felony convictions carried the potential for prison sentences ranging from four to 30 years. On April 25, Jared Chase was sentenced to 8 years, Betterly to 6 years and Church to 5 years.
Ramiro “Ramsey” Muñiz, a former athlete, graduate of Baylor Law School, and attorney, defended civil and human rights during the Civil Rights Movement. He ran for governor of Texas in 1972 and 1974, and his political efforts brought positive advancements for Mexican Americans, Chicanos, and Hispanics. He suffered for it. He is serving a sentence of life without parole.
As a Chicano activist he ran for governor of Texas in 1972 and 1974 as the La Raza Unida Party candidate. La Raza Unida is a political party most active in the Southwest in the 1970s that focused on working class issues and Chicano nationalism. Members faced repression for posing a serious threat to the two-party status-quo. Muñiz faced two drug-related charges and pled guilty before the three-strikes law was implemented. In 1994, he went to prison for life for his “third-strike.” Muñiz and his supporters maintain that the charge that sent him to prison for life was a frame-up.
For years congressmen, leaders, and people of conscience have written to the Director of the Bureau of Prisons asking that he approve the Petition for Compassionate Release submitted by Ramsey Muñiz, and grant his immediate freedom. Muñiz meets the criteria based on his age and chronic medical conditions.
Fred “Muhammad” Burton
Fred Burton is one of the Philly 5 a group of men accused of an alleged attack on a police unit that left one officer killed. The case stems from a highly racially charged period in Philadelphia history while the infamous Frank Rizzo served as Police Commissioner.
Prior to his incarceration, Fred worked for a phone company, was a well-respected member of his community and his wife was preparing to have twins, his third and fourth child.
In 1970, Fred was accused and then convicted of participating in the planning of the murder of Philadelphia police officers. While the plan was allegedly to blow up a police station, what occurred was that a police officer was shot and killed allegedly by members of a radical group called “the Revolutionaries.”
American radical organizer, author and prisoner David Gilbert was a founding member of Columbia University Students for a Democratic Society and member of The Weather Underground organization. Following ten years underground he was arrested with members of the Black Liberation Army and other radicals following a botched armored car robbery in 1981. He is now a well-known prisoner serving time in upstate New York.
David Gilbert grew up in a Jewish family in Brookline, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. Inspired in his teens by the Greensboro sit-ins and other events of the American Civil Rights Movement, he joined the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) at age seventeen. He entered Columbia University in 1962. In his junior year he helped to found the Independent Committee Against the War in Vietnam [ICV] and later the school’s chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. He travelled regularly to Harlem while working as a tutor, and saw Malcolm X speak at Barnard College in February 1965, experiences he describes as formative. Known by the late ’60s primarily as a young theorist, publishing articles in New Left Notes and other movement publications, he went on to play an organizing role in the April-May 1968 Columbia student strike.
Jaan Karl Laaman (born 1948) is an American political activist convicted of various charges, including a 1982 attempted murder of a police officer. He was a member of the United Freedom Front. Laaman has been locked in Federal prisons since 1986.
Laaman grew up in Roxbury, Massachusetts and Buffalo, New York. His family emigrated to the United States from Estonia when he was a child. He has a son. He is currently serving a 53-year prison sentence for his role in the bombings of United States government buildings while a member of the United Freedom Front, an American leftist group in the 1980s. Laaman was sentenced for breaking and entering in New York and was sent to prison.
He was a member of the United Freedom Front, an underground leftist group that bombed government and corporate buildings in the 1970s, funding their tactics through bank expropriations. They strongly opposed South African apartheid and U.S. imperialism in Central American. Laaman writes and edits for the 4struggle magazine. Arrested with Laaman was Tom Manning who died in August, 2019.
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