African Americans & Puerto Ricans often not treated as "human beings."
BOSTON, MA: On Saturday December 12, 2015, a workshop was held at Roxbury Community College entitled "American Torture: American Justice: Human Rights American Style," organized by the City School and Jericho Boston in commemoration of International Human Rights Day. The date also coincided with the 66th birthday of Arnold King, who has been in prison since he was 18 and has not been released on parole after 42 years despite the unanimous recommendation of the parole board. His brother, Kazi Toure chaired the event, saying, "With whatever gains Black and Brown people may feel were earned during the civil rights movement, equality was not one of them. Until Black people, people of African descent are viewed as "human beings," equality and full citizenship are an illusion."
Some very high profile people were represented in the panel discussions. During the lunch break, the speakers were all available to anyone that wanted to talk to them personally. Two of them, Fred Hampton Jr. and Luis Rosa expressed interest in speaking before a Muslim audience if invited, to counteract racism and to create links between our communities.
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. of Black Panther Cubs and Prisoners of Conscience, whose father Fred Hampton, chairman of the Black Panther Party, was murdered by the Chicago police and FBI, spoke about the need to heighten consciousness, to be able to distinguish between what is normal and what is abnormal. He said the first step towards political freedom is like the first step of Alcoholics Anonymous: Recognize that you have a problem. "It's embarrassing to be oppressed. It's embarrassing to admit your father is in prison." Mental colonization hurts. People get involved in a people's revolution because of Inspiration, Aspiration, or Desperation. He said the masses are intelligent. They may not have a fancy term for it, but if they hear that a police officer shot a man 16 times in the back, they will say without hesitation, "They wrong."
Luis Rosa, a former Puerto Rican prisoner who was given amnesty by President Clinton, spoke of how sad he was to leave his comrade, Oscar Lopez Rivera behind in prison. Rivera, 72, is the longest-held political prisoner in Puerto Rican history, for his participation in the Puerto Rican independence movement. Rosa spoke of how he was freed despite a 100 year sentence for "seditious conspiracy." Take nothing for granted, he advised supporters of prisoners. In order to free Rosa, the Puerto Rican activists had three people inside the White House pushing for his freedom, Nobel Prize winners requesting his release, the Japanese Congress inquired about the political prisoners. "Don't neglect the religious community." Learn how to articulate and know your audience so that you can ask them to support the release of political prisoners. "We need to have dossiers ready. Know their cases and be able to speak about their history and current status.
Rosa recommended organizing regular contact between one penpal and one prisoner. Then, the penpals would have regular meetings in which they update each other on all the prisoners. This would maximize prisoner outreach while providing socialization for the activists, which will encourage them to continue. To build community we need love and unity.
"Fight for those who fight for us!" Rosa said. "They are not criminals or terrorists. They fought for what our communities enjoy. They are part of us and we are part of them. Engrave those names in your mind and heart."
Marquette Peltier, daughter of imprisoned American Indian Movement leader Leonard Peltier spoke of her father's tireless efforts for the sake of his community. "If he didn't do it, who would?" she said. "If he can get up and shower every day, we have to get up every day and do what we have to do." Peltier has been in prison for 38 years, accused of shooting an FBI officer during a raid on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Please download letters to support his release at WhoIsLeonardPeltier.info
It is hoped that President Obama will grant him clemency because as a Senator, Obama promised to help. "Show me the support," he had said to the small group of activists. Maybe now it is time for American Indians to lead us.
Ray Luc Levasseur, who spent 20 years in solitary confinement for his involvement with a leftist anti-war group said it's easy to get discouraged. Behind bars, you can wonder, "Was my sacrifice worth it?" He spoke of a coral reef. Countless tiny creatures give their lives, and in so doing, create an ecosystem which has the power to change the course of the ocean.
Levasseur mentioned his comrade Tom Manning, who is serving a life sentence for bombing an IBM office to protest apartheid in South Africa, as well as returning fire and killing a police officer. "Everything that goes on in client states is exported from here. We've seen it all." Manning was body slammed, breaking his hip. He has been beaten in handcuffs, breaking his shoulders. He has been repeatedly stun gunned, denied medication and surgery, tear gassed, stripped naked while his cell is wrecked, his genitals threatened by a German Shepherd. Now an old man, he is in a wheelchair in solitary confinement at Coleman with an untreated leg infection.
Dr. Lana Habash, who is Palestinian, updated the status of Palestinian activist Amer Jibran, who was well known in Boston for participating in protests against Israel, gathering the ire of the Zionists, who targeted the young student for prosecution. After being arrested then released in Boston, he was deported then re-arrested in Jordan and sentenced to ten years. Habash linked Black Lives Matter movement to the Palestinian struggle by mentioning that police are sent to Israel for training in how to respond to the American public as an enemy population.
Also speaking was Russel Maroon Shoaz, Jr., whose father was a Black Panther Party activist, who has been held in isolation for over 23 years. Shoaz is dedicated to raising awareness about his father. The son of Herman Bell, a former Black Panther who is serving a life sentence for killing two police officers, sang an inspiring song for the audience. Herman Bell has spent the past 42 years in prison. He is going to the New York state parole board in February 2016.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a message of support for his release, with Subject Line: Herman Bell, 79C-0262.