Jericho '98: Demand Amnesty for Political Prisoners

Revolutionary Worker #938, December 28, 1997

Joshua fought the battle of
Jericho, Jericho, Jericho,
Joshua fought the battle of Jericho
and the walls came tumbling down.

This year, the words of an old spiritual resonate in an important campaign demanding amnesty and freedom for political prisoners in the United States--Jericho '98. In the words of the organizers, Jericho '98 is a "national education and mobilization campaign designed to: 1) educate the people about the existence of political prisoners and prisoners of war in the U.S.; 2) gain support for these political prisoners and prisoners of war; 3) [force] the U.S. government to recognize and acknowledge their existence; and 4) win amnesty and freedom for all political prisoners and prisoners of war in this country."

The Jericho '98 Amnesty Campaign will climax with a rally and march on the White House on Saturday, March 27, 1998.

Jericho '98 is spearheaded by the New Afrikan Liberation Front, a formation which includes several radical and revolutionary nationalist trends, including the New Afrikan Peoples' Organization, December 12th Movement, and prominent revolutionary activists Geronimo Ji Jaga and Herman Ferguson. The R&R! Executive Council, the National Coordinating Committee of the October 22nd Coalition and RCP national spokesperson Carl Dix have joined the list of endorsers of Jericho '98 which include fighters for Puerto Rican national independence as well as anti-imperialist supporters of the revolutionary nationalist movements.

Like death-row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and Geronimo Ji Jaga--whose recent release brought much public attention to the gross injustices perpetrated by the U.S. government against political prisoners--many of the prisoners on the Jericho '98 list are victims of COINTELPRO political police operations of the late 1960s and '70s. While the United States continues to deny the existence of political prisoners, these sisters and brothers have spent decades behind bars because they dared to fight against oppression.

The stories of these prisoners in the Jericho '98 literature tell of a vicious power structure out to stop revolutionaries and anti-imperialists by any means at their disposal: "Manufacturing evidence, forging documents, dis and misinformation campaigns, agents and infiltrators, destruction and/or suppression of evidence that might be beneficial to defense teams."

"Veronza Bowers joined the U.S. Navy directly out of high school in 1964. When he returned home from service he was carrying the little Red Book and quoting Chairman Mao. By 1968 he and another individual had organized the Omaha Chapter of the Black Panther Party. The other individual was later found to have been an agent of the Omaha Police Dept. Veronza was arrested, charged and convicted of the murder of a park ranger. The only witnesses for the prosecution were two drug dealers, one of whom was rewarded for his testimony to the tune of $10,000 and an automobile. Credible witnesses place Veronza in another part of town at the time of the murder. He has spent 26 years in the federal prison system."

"Marshall Eddie Conway has been in prison since April 1970. Twenty-six years ago he was arrested and charged with the fatal shooting of a Baltimore police officer and the attempted murder of two other policemen. At the time of his arrest, he was a leading member of the Black Panther Party.... The case against Eddie relied entirely on the testimonies of a paid jailhouse informant and a police officer. There was no physical evidence linking Eddie to the crime and there were no other witnesses."

"Sekou Cinque Kambui--a citizen of the Provisional Government - Republic of New Afrika and affiliated with the Black Panther Party--was arrested on January 2, 1975 and charged with the murders of two white men: one a KKK official out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama and the other a multi-millionaire oil man out of Birmingham, Alabama. He was convicted of both murders and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. Sekou had been a thorn in the side of the government because of his extensive organizing work that crossed a large section of the movement from SCLC, CORE to SNCC. He coordinated community organizing activity with the Alabama Black Liberation Front, the Inmates for Action (IFA) Defense Committee and the Afro-American People's Party in the mid-'70s. He has been in prison for 22 years."

"The New York 3 are Albert `Nuh' Washington, Anthony `Jalil' Bottom and Herman Bell. Jalil and Nuh have been incarcerated since 1971 and Herman has been incarcerated since 1973. This case goes all the way to the Nixon White House under a program of COINTELPRO called NEWKILL. Although the NY3 were tried and convicted in a New York State court for the murder of two New York City police officers, the orchestration of this case was designed in the White House with the help of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. The NY3 continuously contended that they were being set up and framed, but were not allowed to raise this during trial because they had no evidence.... It wasn't until after the Church Commission hearings on the FBI covert domestic operations were held that the existence of COINTELPRO was confirmed and they found out about the extent of the government's program and actions and their allegations were confirmed. Ballistic evidence that had been under wraps was revealed. Lies told by police officers were revealed...yet the NY3 are still in prison as they have been for the past 26 years (Nuh and Jalil) and 24 years (Herman)."

The defense of these prisoners is closely linked up with defending the right to self-determination of Black people, the struggle for Puerto Rican independence from U.S. colonial domination, and the struggle of oppressed nationalities against their oppression. Among the prisoners are Alejandrina Torres and Carmen Valentin of the Armed Forces for National Liberation of Puerto Rico (FALN), Leonard Peltier of AIM, Janine Phillips Africa of MOVE, Sekou Odinga of the Black Liberation Army, Sundiata Acoli of the Black Panther Party and BLA, Jaan Karl Laaman of the United Freedom Front, and Marilyn Buck of the RATF.

Most of these political prisoners were indicted on charges involving armed actions, and the persecution and severe sentences for those who have dared to struggle in this way are outrageous and outstanding features of the U.S. justice system. The U.S. imperialists, whose entire history runs with the blood of oppressed nationalities, have absolutely no right to imprison anyone who is fighting for self-determination, national liberation, or against national oppression generally.

Jericho '98 can be an important force in shining a light on just how many people are imprisoned in the U.S. today for the "crime" of fighting U.S. imperialism. Jericho '98 can help to set standards for the new generation in supporting revolutionaries who are persecuted by the system, including those who take up arms against injustice. Jericho '98 can also help break down the isolation of these prisoners, and if the demonstration is powerful and impressive, it can help change some of the terms that dominate inside the prisons where so many proletarian youth are now warehoused--giving the "resistance" trend more initiative in comparison to gangsterism, self-help capitalists schemes and so on. And Jericho '98 can help advance the concrete battles to free the political prisoners, including the very important battle to free Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The list of political prisoners and prisoners of war includes:

  • Mumia Abu-Jamal--BPP
  • Sundiata Acoli--BPP, BLA
  • Chuck Africa--MOVE
  • Debbie Africa--MOVE
  • Delbert Africa--BPP, MOVE
  • Eddie Africa--MOVE
  • Janet Africa--MOVE
  • Janine Africa--MOVE
  • Merle Africa--MOVE
  • Mike Africa--MOVE
  • Phil Africa--MOVE
  • Silvia Baraldini--M19
  • Herman Bell--BPP, BLA
  • Haydee Beltran--FALN
  • Father Phillip Berrigan
  • Hanif Shabazz Bey
  • Anthony "Jalil" Bottom--BPP, BLA
  • Veronza Bowers--BPP
  • Kathy Boudin--NAAI
  • Marilyn Jean Buck--NAAI
  • Judy Clark--NAAI
  • Marshall Eddie Conway--BPP
  • Mark Cook--GJB
  • Edwin Cortez--FALN
  • Bill Dunne--AA
  • Elizam Escobar--FALN
  • Linda Evans--RATF
  • Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald--BPP
  • Larry Giddings--UFF
  • David Gilbert--RATF
  • Abdul Haqq--December 12th
  • Bashir Hameed--BPP, BLA
  • Teddy "Jah" Heath--BPP, BLA
  • Robert "Seth" Hayes--BPP, BLA
  • Ricardo Jimenez--FALN
  • Sekou Cinque Kambui--PG-RNA
  • Yu Kukimuru--JRA
  • Jaan Karl Laaman--UFF
  • Raymond Levasseur--UFF
  • Ojore Lutalo--BLA
  • Abdul Majid--BPP, BLA
  • Tom Manning--UFF
  • Adolfo Matos--FALN
  • Jihad Abdul Mumit--BPP, BLA
  • Jalil Muntaquin--BPP,BLA
  • Antonio Camacho Negro--Macheteros*
  • Sekou Odinga--BPP, BLA
  • Dylcia Pagan--FALN
  • Juan Segarra Palmer--Macheteros
  • Leonard Peltier--AIM
  • Ed Poindexter--BPP
  • Oscar Lopez Rivera--FALN
  • Alberto Rodriguez--FALN
  • Alicia Rodriguez--FALN
  • Ida Luz Rodriguez--FALN
  • Luis Rosa--FALN
  • Kojo Bomani Sababu--UFF
  • Mutulo Shakur--BLA
  • Russell "Maroon" Shoats--BPP
  • Alejandrina Torres--FALM
  • Carlos Alberto Torres--FALN
  • Carmen Valentin--FALN
  • Thomas Warner--BPP
  • Albert "Nuh" Washington--BPP, BLA
  • Laura Whitehorn--RATF
  • Richard Williams--UFF *recently released

    Explanation of Initials:
    AIM--American Indian Movement
    BPP--Black Panther Party
    BLA Black Liberation Army
    D12--December 12th Movement
    FALN--Armed Forces for National Liberation (in Spanish)
    GJB--George Jackson Brigade
    M19--May 19th Communist Organization
    NAAI--North American Anti-Imperialist
    PG-RNA--Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika
    UFF--United Freedom Front

    This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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