Thursday, February 15, 2007

Supporters Rally for San Francisco 8

Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Hank Jones and Richard O'Neal - four of the San Francisco 8, former Black Panthers charged with a Black Liberation Army assassination of a cop over thirty years ago - appeared in a San Francisco courtroom yesterday.

Here is what organized Claude Marks has written about the proceedings:

San Francisco 8 strong in court appearance today

by Claude Marks
Wednesday, February 14

In a significant showing of support, family and friends of four of the San Francisco 8 packed the San Francisco courtroom of Judge Little. Many people were unable to actually get in. As the four, Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Hank Jones and Richard O'Neal, were brought into the courtroom in shackles, supporters burst into applause. The large showing of Sheriffs and SWAT officers cleared the courtroom. People gathered in the hallway outside Department 12 chanting "No justice, no peace." Defense attorneys objected to closing a public hearing and the Judge agreed to let people back into court if they agreed to not be noisy, but only after every individual was again searched by Sheriffs and was wanded with metal detectors.

Unlike their previous court appearances since the arrests in January, the men were shackled in court as close to a dozen sheriffs' deputies and SWAT officers were inside the courtroom. The hearing opened with defense attorneys arguing for reduced security at the courthouse and the unshackling of the brothers as "they represent no threat to the court or the public." It was pointed out that they had appeared voluntarily and without need of such extensive police presence during the 2005 San Francisco Grand Jury, and that the shackling and heavy security were prejudicial - especially feeding the sensationalist coverage of the corporate media. The court agreed to hear security issues in a future meeting with the Sherriff and lawyers.

None of the men have yet entered please in the conspiracy and murder case stemming from the killing of a SF police Officer at the Ingleside Police Station in August of 1971.

Although there has yet to be a formal Bail Hearing, Judge Little did lower the outrageous bail for Ray Boudreaux and Hank Jones from $5 million to $3 million (still outrageous), the same as was set for Richard Brown and Richard O'Neal. A formal Bail Hearing as well as other motions were scheduled for Tuesday, March 13th.

"Today's court appearance was significant in a number of ways," according to Attorney Stuart Hanlon. "The strong public support for the four men in court was a powerful reminder that these men are part of their communities and are not criminals. The Attorney Generals' comments made clear that they (the State Prosecutors) want to keep these men in jail on high bail and that they will make excuses to explain the 35-year delay in bringing this case. It was made clear to us that this is the beginning skirmish of a legal war with high stakes - the freedom of these eight former Panthers and the rewriting of political history by the government criminalizing the Black Panther Party and African American freedom fighters from the sixties and seventies. It is a war we will win and that we have to win. And it is a war where the support of the community, in and out of court, is crucial."

The brothers seemed strong and in good spirits.
(CBS reported that supporters "shouted 'Power to the People,' and 'No Justice' and called for police to find suspects who killed their loved ones, carrying placards that read 'I Still Have a Cold Case' and listing names of murder victims and dates they died." - read the CBS report and see some very unedited video footage of the proceedings here.)

At the same time activists as far away as Boston (see photo above) held informational pickets, denouncing this latest case of amerikan repression.

One day earlier, on February 13th, the SF National Lawyers Guild issued a statement condemning the racist arrests if the former Panthers, pointing out that the State is seeking to validate political repression, retaliation and state torture.

Legacy of Freedom can now be viewed in streaming video format on Free Speech TV - it is an excellent teaching tool, especially in conjunction with speakers or other movies about the Black Liberation movement and government repression in the 1960s/70s. Groups are organizing screenings across the united states - a partial list of which is online here.

For more information on the San Francisco 8, check out the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights website!

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