Human Rights in the US- The Unfinished Story of Political Prisoners-Victims of COINTELPRO by VegasStreetProphet


   Copyright © 2001 by Human Rights Research Fund
  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
  reproduced or copied in any form or by any means —
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 systems — without written permission of the publisher.

                                                             IN THE
              541 TENTH ST., NW, #359                        THE UNFINISHED
              ATLANTA, GEORGIA 30318                         POLITICAL PRISO
                                                             OF COINTELPRO
                  in collaboration with
                   Release 2001
              350 Broadway, Suite 308                        INTRODUCTIO
                New York, NY 10013
                                                             The FBI kept its COIN
 This pamphlet was adapted from the transcript               (COunterlNTELIigence
   of the September 14, 2000, forum that Rep.                served to disrupt and
  Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), hosted during the                liberation movement a
    Congressional Black Caucus's legislative                 organizations in the U.
 weekend in Washington, DC. It could not have                Senate investigations
been published without the expert editorial work                Conducted by the Church C
     of Laura Whitehorn and Susie Day. The                   Committee to Study Governme
publication is indebted to Matt Meyer and Betsy              Intelligence Activities became kn
Mickel of Resistance in Brooklyn, for production             report that was published in 1976.
                   assistance.                               the limitations of the Church Co
                                                             gressional investigations reopened
                                                             However, on September 14, 2000,
                                                             (D-Georgia), who sits on the Hu
                                                             House International Affairs Comm
                                                             these issues. It was held during
                                                             Legislative Conference, an annual
                                                             discussions, and other social even
                                                             among the constituents. The titl
                                                             was "Human Rights in the Unite
                                                             Political Prisoners/Victims of COI
           Cover photo: St. Clair Bourne
                                                                Six panelists, all deeply engage
                                                             imprisoned freedom fighters, prese
and its relevance to the cases of the approximately 100+ political pris-
oners in U.S. custody at this moment. Some of these men and women             Nkechi Taifa
have been imprisoned for more than 30 years; all have served exces-              The first speaker was Prof
sively long sentences. While the U.S. government denies that it holds         Howard University Law School
any political prisoners, the role COINTELPRO operations have played           as legislative counsel for the AC
in the arrests, trials, and convictions of these prisoners indicates oth-     Legal Defense Fund, staff attor
erwise.                                                                       network organizer for the Washi
                                                                              Watoto School in Washington, D
Urging an Examination                                                         defense attorney.
   Several current and past political prisoners, most notably Jalil              Professor Taifa has worked o
Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), Dr. Mutulu Shakur, and released politi-            political prisoners since 1975.
cal prisoner Herman Ferguson have consistently urged that the ille-
galities committed under COINTELPRO be examined further and that                 I am going to give a very brie
compensation be made to the victims of these acts. The panel presen-          and how it worked. In the FBI's
tations excerpted below all point to the necessity of such an examina-        counterintelligence endeavor [
tion—and of releasing all of the U.S.-held political prisoners in order       expose, disrupt, misdirect, disc
to redress the crimes committed against progressive political move-           activities of black nationalist or
ments under the aegis of COINTELPRO and other FBI counterintelli-             leadership, spokesmen, mem-
gence programs.                                                               bership, and supporters."
   The forum was held in Room 2200 of the Rayburn House Office                   Never meant to be dissemi-
Building, a room where committee hearings are held. The tremendous            nated to the public, millions of
crowd that gathered and participated in the discussion following the          pages of FBI internal docu-
presentations demonstrated the significance of this human rights              ments reveal a coordinated
problem to the black community. Below, the presentations given at the         national program of war
three hour long program are excerpted.                                        against the movement.
    Rep. Cynthia McKinney introduced the panel by saying:                        An      FBI memorandum
                                                                              described the goals of COIN-
      "This discussion of COINTELPRO and political prisoners                  TELPRO. First, "to prevent the
   in the U.S. is our initial contribution to a long-standing                 coalition of militant black
   struggle that we will be a part of for as long as we are in                nationalist groups." FBI director
   Congress. This is not going to be a one-time thing. When we                coalition of black nationalist gro
   began to plan this panel, I didn't realize the full extent of              real Mau Mau in America." The
   hoiv important this issue is to individuals, to our communi-               of a messiah who could unify and
   ty as a whole. Trying to give relevance to my tenure in                    ist movement." On this point, Ho
   Congress, I originally chose to dedicate my service to human
   rights issues around the world. But it became patently clear                    "Malcolm X might have
   to me that there is a big, gaping hole in our human rights                   Luther King could be a very
   approach, because we dare not mention human rights at                        should he abandon his supp
   home. And once we begin to talk about this issue, human                      doctrines, nonviolence, an
   rights in the United States, a whole lot of folks become                     Stokely Carmichael has the
   uncomfortable. We intend to broaden the definition of                        threat in this way."
   human rights to include human rights at home, and this                        Goal three was "to prevent vio
   panel discussion is our opening shot."                                     groups," and I'll just stop right t
                                                                              that it was actually the FBI who
                              HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COINTELPRO — 2      3 — HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COIN
   Number four: "Prevent militant black nationalist groups and lead-           By 1969 the Black Panthe
ers from gaining respectability." The FBI was very specific. They said,     become a primary focus of the p
"You must discredit these groups and individuals to, first, the respon-     was ultimately the target of 233
sible Negro community. Second, they must be discredited to the white        295 authorized black nationalist
community, both the responsible white community and to the 'liber-          PRO operations. Although the c
als:' political, religious and civics groups and individuals who have       pose of the bureau's COINTEL
vestiges of sympathy for militant black nationalist groups simply           was to "prevent violence," many
because they are Negroes. Third, these groups are to be discredited in      tactics were clearly intended to
the eyes of the Negro radicals, the followers of the movement."             lence. Some of these were ass
   Another goal was to prevent the long-range growth of militant            false imprisonment, and provoca
Black nationalist organizations among the youth. The FBI said that          strate that the chief investigativ
specific tactics were needed for this. And as we look at the drug           which was charged by law with i
trade—crack and heroin—I think that they have been very successful          duct, itself engaged in lawless t
with respect to some of these tactics.                                      social problems by fomenting vio
   According to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which             Many organizations and indi
investigated activities of the FBI in the 70s, COINTELPRO was an ille-      tralization program. Some were
gal and unconstitutional abuse of power by the FBI. Now, that is not        and destabilized. Many people w
Kathleen or Geronimo saying this; this was the Senate Select                driven underground. Some were
Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Frank Church, in the 70s, that        officials ever convicted for CO
said it was an illegal and unconstitutional abuse of power by the FBI.      Edward Miller, were pardoned
   The committee said, "COINTELPRO is the FBI acronym for a series          began to serve their sentences.
of covert programs directed against domestic groups. Many of these             We need to reopen the Chur
techniques would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all the     Although that congressional co
targets had been engaged in violent activity," but COINTELPRO, the          counterintelligence program as
Senators said, went far beyond that. The bureau conducted a sophis-         of power by the FBI, they failed
ticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise       were victims of COINTELPRO.
of First Amendment rights of speech and association, allegedly to pro-
tect the national security and deter violence.
                                                                            Kathleen Neal
"Neutralization"—A Military (War) Term                                         The next speaker was Kathle
   One word that comes up again and again in the FBI documents is           of her life participating in the hu
"neutralization." That is a military term, a war term. They were talk-      out of Barnard College in 196
ing about war against people who were simply trying to exercise             Nonviolent Coordinating Commi
rights and stand up for justice. The targets included such groups as        Cleaver served as the communic
the Southern Christian Leadership Council, the Revolutionary Action         Party, the first woman on their C
Movement, the Deacons for Defense, the Black Panther Party,                    After sharing years of exile
Students for a Democratic Society, Nation of Islam, Republic of New         Cleaver, she returned to the Unit
Africa, and the National Lawyers Guild.                                     tory from Yale College and a J.D.
   The FBI organized a vast network of political spies who infiltrated         Ms. Cleaver has taught at
thousands of organizations, and trained and coordinated similar opera-      Cardozo School of Law in New
tions by other law enforcement agencies at every level of government.       University, and Emory University
The information gathered by informants was augmented by illegal wire-       rently in the process of completin
taps, letter openings, burglaries of homes and offices, secret examina-     War," forthcoming from Random
tion of bank records, physical surveillance, and arranged murders.
                             HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COINTELPRO — 4     5 _   HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COIN
        ^tTV   fr-        "       "rf     Much of what we are talk-            When I first arrived in Califor
     '* "IbJE^y^                        ingabout today—the United           with Eldridge Cleaver, whose car
        '^Kf^Mt                        States human rights record,          airport. Earl Anthony was a COI
                                       COINTELPRO, political pris-          know that at the time. But from
                                       oners—has roots in the social        the Black Panther Party in Cal
                                       uprisings that wracked this          TELPRO was there.
                                       country in the wake of the              I moved to California and joine
                                       Vietnam War. Most of us were         time because Eldridge called
                                       students at that time, and we        "You've got to come back out and
                                       began to understand how              Newton has been arrested. He'
                                       intolerant this country is           murder. He's facing the gas ch
toward human rights. That is when we formed our commitment to the           in that time we would hear repor
human rights struggle.                                                      killed by police. Justifiable hom
   Nineteen sixty-seven was the year of uprisings—the government            ever heard a report that said, "P
called them riots, we called them rebellions. There were 150 across         by black man." That we never h
the country, most notably in Detroit and Newark.                            did, it was a murder charge.
   The United States Government convened the National Advisory                  So my full-time involvement
Commission on Civil Disorders (the Kerner Commission) to study this         with working around a prisoner,
phenomenon, determine its causes, and decide how to prevent future          saw in this charge of murder was
disorders. The commission stated that the cause of these distur-            to destroy our leader.
bances was white racism and its attendant ills of unemployment and             In those years we saw an
distress. But when it came to what should be done, one clear conclu-        mous number of cases arising o
sion was a call for more sophisticated police tactics to suppress the       battles in which members of the B
disorders.                                                                  Panther Party became political
   One of the report's recommendations was a training program for           oners. It is my pleasure to be
intelligence officers, to use undercover police and more reliable           today with my brother Geronimo.
informants. And so you can see the genesis of COINTELPRO in this            last time I was at the Congressi
very liberal and supposedly enlightened report on how this country          Black Caucus Legislative week-e
can handle civil disorder.                                                  was on a panel talking about his
                                                                            and how he was set up by the FBI
"We Will Make a Difference"                                                 how to free him. Now he is here.
   When it came out, I wasn't reading the Kerner Report. In 1967 I
went out to California to join the Black Panther Party. We were read-       The Fight Continues
ing things like Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth and Malcolm X —               There are others, like Romai
texts that would help us understand and further what we saw as the          still serving time in California for
revolutionary opportunity to transform this country. That same sum-         that he did not do the shooting.
mer of 1967, J. Edgar Hoover was articulating his counterintelligence       Jamal. We have Eddie Conway i
program and identifying his targets: Stokely Carmichael, the head of        there are no political prisoners, t
the organization I had been a part of, SNCC; Southern Christian             you look at what the people di
Leadership Council, led by Martin Luther King; Elijah Muhammad;             Mutulu Shakur did, you will kn
Revolutionary Action Movement, led by Max Stanford, and many oth-           movement. These are people w
ers—all parts of the upheaval, the challenge, as we thought, "This is       formation of this country, who p
our chance, we will transform this country, we will make a difference."     ahead of themselves, who believ
We all were targets of COINTELPRO.                                          possible but was worth dying fo
                              HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COINTELPRO — 6    7 — HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COIN
discrimination, imperialism, war. And when you hear their stories and              cases. Mr. Warren has been the lea
know who they are, then you know that the sanitized version of the                 der cases and served as the lead pr
civil rights movement is not the whole story. Fabrication of evidence,             Tribunal in Philadelphia, Pennsylv
                                       perjury, the deceit that was used to           Mr. Warren has served as legis
                                       put people away—that is another             Stokes; associate director of the Na
                                       story that you have to know.                Juvenile Defense Project; assistant
                                          This country stands in violation         eral counsel for the NAACP S
                                       of international treaties that the          Contributions Fund; and staff att
                                       United States has signed, but when          for the National Committee Ag
                                       we raise the issue of human rights,         Discrimination in Housing.
                                       we are told, "You are criminals.
                                       Your issues are criminal. It has to           The counterintelligence pro
                                       be handled by the criminal courts."        involves institutions that interact
                                       Mumia Abu-Jamal had absolutely             relate to each other for one purpo
                                       nothing that even begins to resem-         oppress communities of color and
                                       ble a fair trial. When you challenge       communities in this country an
                                       his conviction and say he was              make sure that a vanguard never
                                       framed and given the death penalty         ceeds in liberating those people.
                                       because of his earlier membership             A number of institutions carr
                                       in the Black Panther Party, the gov-       counterintelligence. I'm going to
                                       ernment comes back with "he's a            mostly about the role of courts. Th
                                       criminal." If you go back through          fighters for justice and criminalize
                                       Black history, back to Marcus              from our communities and call the
                                       Garvey or even as far as Nat Turner,                                           m
                                       you see our history progressing
                                       through similar trials. I remember in       The political prisoner, ri
my own history when we would say, "Free Angela," "Free Bobby," "Free                      once arrested, is p         m
all political prisoners." We are still trying to free all political prisoners.          treated unlike any a
    Our fight for human rights continues today. This is what was start-                      other prisoner, th
ing back in Alabama, continuing with the Black Panther Party, contin-              because the political w
uing into the black liberation movement. The issue was always human                       prisoner is more ti
rights. The government tried to redefine our struggle for us, to mini-
mize the international, broad concept of human rights that motivated                     dangerous to the o
us and turn it into something smaller and less threatening.                       system than any other th            cr
   We have to get this story told, have a clear understanding of where                     type of prisoner. h
we are, who we are, know our own human rights struggle, and move to                                                   e
bring these prisoners and these freedom fighters out of the dungeons.             interest to silence political prisoner
                                                                                  ing to their words and understandi
                                                                                     The political prisoner, once arr
Michael Tarif Warren                                                              prisoner, because the political pris
                                                                                  tem than any other type of prisoner
   The third speaker on the panel was Michael Tarif Warren, a crimi-              prior arrest record, receive no bai
nal defense attorney currently practicing in New York City, specializ-            tion. In many cases, this means th
ing in major criminal matters, human rights, and police misconduct                prior arrest record are held witho

                                HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COINTELPRO — 8         9 — HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COINT
   Many political prisoners are thrown into isolation, thrown into the        where the prisoners have very littl
hole right away. Often they stay there for long periods of time with the      kept in a cell for 23 hours a day, on
ultimate purpose of attempting to break their spirits.                           So the judiciary becomes a fift
                                                                              program. It's not just the FBI and t
Imprisoned in Atlanta, Georgia                                                are merely the front lines.
   Dr. Mutulu Shakur is a political prisoner who is housed in the fed-
eral prison in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Shakur is a brilliant acupuncturist,     The Grand Jury Syste
                                studied in China, very dedicated to his           One other judicial aspect of cou
                                community. He worked at Lincoln               tem. The government uses the gran
        Mf^^lpVHP               Hospital in the Bronx where he helped         know because I have represented p
I•HPT             •UMll         to develop the use of acupuncture to             For example, in Dr. Shakur's c
                                treat drug addiction. Later he operated       today, was arrested and separate
                                a community acupuncture center in             pregnant at the time of her arrest
                                Harlem. But once he was arrested and          jury. The government used that
                                charged with expropriation of funds for       their need for more evidence a
                                revolutionary purposes, as well as par-       Marilyn Buck, and Silvia Baraldi
                                ticipation in the liberation of Assata        snitch; they needed more.
                                Shakur from prison, all of Dr. Shakur's          The grand jury serves another
                                activities were portrayed in the media        friends and associates of the peo
                                and the court as part of a "criminal          question. Many grand jury resist
                                enterprise." People involved with the         months in prison for contempt, ba
                                clinic were swooped up, put in jail, and      jury subpeona. Consequently the s
                                stigmatized for months in the media to        well and destroys their political o
                                ensure that prospective jurors remem-
                                ber these people not as individuals who
                                struggled on behalf of their community,       Bruce Ellison
but as criminals. So, by the time they reached the trial stage, they did-
n't have a snowball's chance in hell. And that is the anticipated out-        The fourth speaker, Bruce Ellison,
come of the counterintelligence program. Consequently, Dr. Shakur,            attorney who has represented Le
who was arrested in California back in 1986, stood trial in 1987 and          criminal defense work for the last
was basically convicted on the testimony of one confidential inform-          attorney with the Wounded Kne
ant. That is all the government really had, one confidential informant.       Committee, which served as the l
    In the case of Dr. Shakur and the others charged in this case—his         resentation for members of the
codefendant Marilyn Buck, as well as Sekou Odinga and Silvia                  Indian Movement, including
Baraldini—much of the counterinsurgency program was implemented               Peltier. He continues to work on
by the Joint Terrorist Task Force (JTTF). The JTTF consists of feder-         Leonard Peltier's freedom.
al and local law-enforcement agents. One of their primary objectives          -~~~
is to entrap people who struggled on behalf of their communities, and            I will share with you today my
to make sure they are isolated, arrested, prosecuted to the fullest           efforts to expose what the FBI has
extent, and imprisoned for a very long time. The Joint Terrorist Task         in my part of the country. I was
Force has repeatedly, in numerous cases, employed all the techniques          believe in the importance of justi
developed through COINTELPRO.                                                 people, in the importance of our d
     After Dr. Shakur was sentenced (to 60 years), he was sent imme-          and our fundamental rights to fr
diately to an undergound maximum security prison in Marion, Illinois,         freedom of association, and fre
                             HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COINTELPRO — 10      11 — HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COIN
seek redress of grievances. From what I have seen over the last 25               One instance I personally wit
years, Native Americans have many legitimate grievances, as do oth-           Bureau of Indian Affairs SWAT tea
ers in this country, that are never redressed.                                members and their weapons out
   Educated as a lawyer, I was taught that our courts exist to promote        night of armed attacks on the com
and preserve justice, our Congress to enact responsible legislation, and      murder of a young AIM member, a
our executive branch to enforce the laws of our country. .What I have         several homes.
experienced in representing Leonard Peltier and other Native Americans           The FBI acted as if making bridg
has shocked, amazed, and terrified me as a citizen of this country.           nicity was terrifying. Many of the
   FBI documents and court records in the thousands, together with            Freedom of Information Act talk
eyewitness accounts, show clearly that beginning in the late 1960s the        fight in Oglala, of the connectio
FBI began a campaign of disruption of the American Indian                     Movement and the Black Panther
Movement. FBI operations were directed toward the destruction of                 I represented a young mother a
AIM and its grassroots supporters in the urban and reservation com-           Pictou Aquash on weapons charge
munities. Operations began with surveillance of peaceful demonstra-           the FBI threatened to see her dead
tions calling for the enforcement of treaty rights, for human rights, for     ed against AIM. In an operation
equal opportunities for jobs and housing and medical care, and for            Panther Party, the FBI began a ru
justice in America's courts. It soon led to the infiltration of agents        months later her body was found
provocateurs, to the manipulation of our criminal justice system, and         she died of exposure. They cut of
ultimately to state-sponsored terrorism in Indian communities.                essary to identify her, and buried
Particular emphasis was directed toward the descendants of the                   A second, independent autopsy
Lakota, who stopped General George Armstrong Custer and who now               a pistol to the back of her head an
reside on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.                                  for her hands after the second auto
                                                                              buried with her hands, an FBI age
"Bringing the War Home"                                                       smile on his face he said, "You wa
   During the antiwar days, we used to talk about "bringing the war
home." I think the FBI thought that was a good idea and tried out             Declared "Most Dang
many of the tactics they used in Indochina and Central America on the             The firefight near Oglala was pr
Pine Ridge Reservation.                                                       AIM to be one of the most dangero
                                  Claiming that AIM members were              a threat to national security. It follo
The FBI acted as if            engaging in acts of sedition, the bureau       position paper entitled "FBI Pa
                                                                  the         Country," a how-to plan of dealin
                               day siege at Wounded Knee in
     making bridges sought to arrest hundreds after1973.71-            It     with AIM on the battlefield. It use
  across barriers of soon concluded that this approach was                    such terms as "neutralization,"
color and ethnicity insufficient.                                             which it defined as "shooting t
       was terrifying.            The FBI then began to fund and arm a        kill." Leonard Peltier and other AI
                               group of more western-oriented Lakota          members from outside the reserva
who caUed themselves the Guardians of the Oglala Nation, or the               tion had come to join local AI
"goon squad." As many as 60 men, women, and children, out of a pop-           members because the violence o
ulation of 11,000, were killed in the political violence that followed.       the reservation had gotten s
These were mostly members of AIM, their families, and supporters. I           intense. Three young men lost their
remember staying in homes in Pine Ridge during this period where              lives that day, two FBI agents an
men felt compelled to keep loaded weapons nearby while they and               one AIM member. The FBI consi
their families, including children and elders, slept, fearful of the real     ered that only two men died, their
and immediate danger of an attack by the goon squad in the night.             own agents. No one has ever been
                             HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COINTELPRO — 12      13 — HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COINT
                                     prosecuted for the killing of AIM        tion, there was always visible mass
                                     member Joe Stuntz.                       inside and outside the courtroom.
                                        The FBI eventually charged               In 1997 he was released after wi
                                     four AIM members, including              Orange County Superior Court th
                                     Leonard Peltier, with the killing of     judge ruled that prosecutors had
                                     the agents. Two of Peltier's code-       witness who could have cleared ji
                                     fendants were acquitted on self-            Ever since his release, ji Jaga
                                     defense grounds by an all-white          activists, new and seasoned, to spr
                                     jury in the conservative town of         struggle against all forms of racist
                                     Cedar Rapids, Iowa—truly a               oppression and to fight for th
                                     remarkable thing. The FBI ana-           release of all political prisoners. H
                                     lyzed why these long-haired, mili-       has become one of the most voca
                                     tant men were acquitted and at a         supporters of the former Blac
                                     meeting in Washington, DC, decid-        Panther and award-winning jour
                                     ed to "put the full prosecutive          nalist now on death row, Mumi
                                     weight of the Federal Govern-            Abu-Jamal.
                                     ment" against Leonard Peltier.
                                        The government argued that                This panel has established impor
Peltier personally shot the agents. The U.S. Attorney's Office has now        tant truths already today, but ther
admitted in court that it had no credible evidence Leonard Peltier            is one thing that has been omitted
killed the agents and speciously claimed it never tried to prove it did.      the activists of the '60s who were ki
The FBI still withholds thousands of pages in this case, claiming that        down to is murder. That is somethi
disclosure would compromise national security. In the absence of              established since I have been out o
such disclosure, no further efforts toward a new trial are possible.          ings into actual murder cases.
   Citing the case of Leonard Peltier as an example, Amnesty                     And here's how it would work.
International has called for an independent inquiry into the use of our       together, like we are all together ri
criminal justice system for political purposes by the FBI and other           all going to not disrespect each othe
intelligence agencies in this country. Amnesty cited similar concerns         the FBI sends someone in who stirs
for other members of AIM and other victims of COINTELPRO-type                 to begin to disrespect each other.
operations by the FBI.                                                        another one, and then another one
   Under our system, if there is a reasonable doubt, then Leonard             you have the murderers in the b
Peltier is not guilty. Yet he has been in prison for nearly 25 years for      about it.
a crime he did not commit. On behalf of Leonard Peltier, I urge a full           COINTELPRO came in so many
congressional investigation and the granting of executive clemency to         think of is these murders. When yo
those activists from the 70s, '80s, and '90s who have yet to gain their       ers such as Fred Hampton, who wa
freedom.                                                                      Wells, put in a sleeping bag and t
                                                                              York City, still unsolved. All of these
                                                                              COINTELPRO murders. Fred
Geronimo ji Jaga                                                              Francisco. Franco Diggs. John Hug

   Geronimo ji Jaga was the fifth panel member. A former leader in the
Black Panther Party, he was imprisoned for 27 years as a victim of            They Were Victims. Th
COINTELPRO tactics. He spent every painful day maintaining that he              All of the names I have mentio
was framed for a crime he did not commit .Throughout his incarcera-           They were murdered. Their murd
                             HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COINTELPRO — 14      15 — HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COINT
justice. So this is where we need to begin. We are dealing with                Most political prisoners
straight-up murderers who turn around and call me a murderer and                born around the same
put me in prison for 27 years, when I murdered no one. These mur-               as me, in the '40s and '
derers are running around. They still are practicing their art of mur-         and we grew up in the er
der, outright murder.
                                                                                      national liberation
    [Audience begins to call out names] John Clark. Watature Pope.
                                                                                 struggles for human ri
    These brothers and sisters were murdered. Mark Clark. Twyman
                                                                               Aircraft Industry (a Zionist corporat
    [Geronimo: Come on with some more.]                                        eral prison she was active in AIDS s
    John Africa. Kombora. Komboze. Tracy. Kayatta. Ralph                       ical prisoners, she helped organize
    That's very true. There is Malik el Shabazz. And we can continue              I think these hearings are sig
to call names. This is how important and serious this is to us.                tinues. Even though that particul
    These brothers and sisters we have mentioned, they were family             name was supposedly stopped in
members. They were mothers, they were fathers, they were sisters,              all the political prisoners are out
they were brothers. And they are dead. They were murdered. It was              week ago, the Bureau of Indian
done by the U.S. government. They have admitted it.                            against the Native American peo
    You have brothers like Mutulu — and myself when I was in, and oth-         prison. The U.N. definition of ge
ers — call ourselves prisoners of war. We say political prisoners,             political movements and leaders
okay. And you try to understand, what are you talking about? This              TELPRO—continues against th
war continues. It is an actual war against our people. And it should           American peoples.
be handled just as they handled the trials in Nuremburg.                          I was a political prisoner for a l
    So I want to urge everyone to support and put muscle behind this           14 years, in a case called the R
 effort that will expose the true murderers and let the victims out.           Conspiracy case. The U.S. go
What is Sundiata Acoli doing in prison? Ruchelle McGee. Yogi Pinell.           said we were guilty of "cons
 Chip Fitzgerald. There are so many.                                           protest, change and oppose poli
    We can't allow that to happen. These hearings will make it very            practices of the United States go
 clear, and then these brothers and sisters will be released out of these      in domestic and international
 prisons.                                                                      through violent and illegal means.
    COINTELPRO didn't stop at the Black liberation movement — we               said the domestic and internatio
 all should study this — but it went into every movement that was              cies and practices of the United St
                                                                               ernment were violent and
 involved in liberation. This is why Laura Whitehorn spent so much
 time in prison; why Marilyn Buck and Susan Rosenberg and so many              [Interrupted by applause.] For e
 who are victims of COINTELPRO continue to languish.                           cratically elected government of
                                                                               coincidentally the first socialist
                                                                               sphere. And the shelling of the pe
                                                                               time. And the use of low-intensity
Laura Whitehorn                                                                the liberation struggles in Central

   The final speaker was another political prisoner who has been               An Era of National Li
released. Laura Whitehorn left prison in August 1999 after 14 years.
She, too, is working to free all political prisoners and prisoners of war.        Most political prisoners were b
Since the 1960s Laura has been active in antiracist and anti-imperial-         the '40s and '50s, and we grew up
ist organizing, as well as fighting for women's and gay liberation.            struggles for human rights. It wa
                              HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COINTELPRO — 16      17 — HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COIN
                                              al law. Nazi Germany         of Puerto Rico. And if there was g
                                              wasn't going to happen       fight for it.
                                              again. As a child I was          I wasn't a victim of COINTELPR
                                              taught that there were       time in prison for them, because C
                                              human rights that were       to fight. Eventually, I ended up wit
                                              so important that if         sentence.
                                              your        government
                                                                               That might sound like a terrible
                                              stopped those rights,
                                                                           Marilyn Buck with 80 years and
                                              you had a responsibility
                                                                           Sundiata Acoli having already serv
                                              to take action against
                                                                           23 years is a very fortunate sente
                                              that government. And I
                                              believe that to this day.         The day I got out of prison was
                                                                           the saddest, because I left behind
                                                  [Applause] That is
                                                                           Valentin, Lucy and Alicia Rodrigu
                                               what every political
                                                                           the prison I was in. I have no choi
                                               prisoner, I believe,
                                                                           for the freedom of all political pri
                                               stands for.
                                                                           Carmen, Lucy, Alicia, and Dylcia w
                                                  As a child I was         gave the 11 Puerto Rican political
moved by the civil rights movement. The courage of the people who          the beginning the campaign for th
were standing up was inspiring to me and, I think, to a whole genera-      When they were arrested in 1980,
tion. I moved to Chicago in 1968 and worked to support the Black            fighters, not terrorists." And the na
Panther Party and got to know Fred Hampton. He was the chairman            gan and said, "They are our freedo
of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. He was about 20
                                                                               We need to wage a campaign lik
years old—and a danger to the United States government, if the
                                                                            ers. Otherwise, they will not be fre
United States government was afraid of the rise of a Black messiah,
                                                                           It is a matter of human rights and
because Fred had the ability, like Malcolm X, to articulate the aspira-
tions of an entire people. Anyone who was in Chicago in those days
remembers people of all ages coming out to hear Fred.
   In 1969 he was murdered, along with another Black Panther Party          Conciusion
member, Mark Clark. The Chicago police, who carried out the assas-
sination, claimed there had been a Shootout. It took a longtime, but it       To close the discussion, Rep. M
was proven that not a single shot was fired from inside Fred's apart-
                                                                                  "The testimony here today
ment; every bullet was fired by the police. Eventually it came out that
                                                                               to making sure that we get to
the murder had been well planned by the Illinois State Attorney's
                                                                               up to the top, in order to mak
Office, the Chicago Police, and the FBI. An FBI informant named
                                                                               tice for our people and justice
William O'Neal was infiltrated into the Panther environment, and he
gave the police a map of Fred's apartment, drugged the food of Fred            PRO."
and the rest of the Panthers that night, and then the murder could             We need to support her efforts
take place.                                                                 state and local legislators and pol
   That told me that we could not be confined by the laws of this coun-        Since the panel discussion last
try, because it was a war. It was a war declared by the FBI and the law     oner has died in prison: Teddy Ja
enforcement agencies, and backed by the U.S. government, against            State's Coxsackie Prison on Janu
the Black nation, Native American nations, and the colonized nation         the Black Panther Party in New Y
                             HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COINTELPRO — 18    19 — HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.: COIN
                                                                          The Human Rights Re
stopped struggling for human rights. His arrest in 1973 stemmed from
his attempt to stop the influx of drugs into the Black community. He      Advisory Committee: Julian
had been turned down for parole in 1998, despite a perfect prison           Bright, Director, Southern
record and despite having served 28 years for a case in which there         Churchill, Scholar and author
was no injury to any person.                                                Hinds, Attorney; Geronimo ji J
                                                                            human rights activist; Van Jon
   His name joins the long list of those whose lives have been taken as     Human Rights; Yuri Kochiyama
a result of COINTELPRO and political repression.                            Martinez, Director, Institute for
                                                                            Director, International Human
                                                                            Director, Race Relations Institu
                                                                          Co-directors: Kathleen Cleaver, E
                                                                            Natsu Saito, Georgia State Coll

                                                                          The Human Rights Research Fu
                  Clearly, hearings to investigate                        • Developing a long term resea
                      these damages, and serious                            abuse of international and do
                campaigns for parole, clemency,                             carried out as part of a policy,
                                                                            of political dissent in the U.S.
                   and other means of release of
                          political prisoners will be                     • Creating programs and publi
                                                                            ness of the ways that governme
                     necessary in order to expose                           ered up in ways that were, in th
                  and redress COINTELPRO. The                               report, "abhorrent in a free soc
                    political prisoners have spent                        • Issuing reports and documen
                         two and three decades in                           ther official investigations and
                                                                            dures to public life.
                    prison, and many have failing
                                                                          • Stimulating educational and
                    health. The stress and sorrow                           unfairly imprisoned victims of
                   their families have had to bear                          dons, restitution, and freedom.
                        are enormous. This makes
                 "getting justice for the survivors                               To order additional copies
                    of COINTELPRO" all the more                                                   HRRFund
                                                                          Release 2001 is a collective gro
                                                                          political prisoners, family mem
                                                                          paralegals who have devoted y
                                                                           work and politically charged c
                                                                           expertise to political prisoner
                                                                                                clemency o

                                                                                                350 Broadw
                                                                                                  New York,
                                                                                            (212) 431-0229 o

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