Friday, October 24, 2008

Harold Taylor convicted of drug charge in Florida

Harold Taylor, one of the San Francisco 8, was convicted of a drug charge in Florida October 23, 2008.
UPDATE: Harold was given two years probation at his sentencing January 13, 2009. He is home with his family.
Harold Taylor was arrested last December in Florida on a baseless charge of attempted purchase of cocaine. Several people were swept up in a neighborhood sweep and sting operation at that time. Harold's case has coincidentally received unusual attention by the Florida court which fast-tracked his prosecution after many months of inactivity. A jury of six white women deliberated less than 15 minutes in the one-day Panama City trial. This prosecution is a result of a new judge and prosecutor taking over, not upon any substantial or new evidence. Two prosecutors worked to present this case over a $20 attempt-to-purchase. FBI agents attended the proceedings.

A thorough search of his person and his van resulted in NO seizure of any substances, legal or illegal. Further, NO allegation is even made that any money was produced. He has NO drug use history!!

In short, Harold was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had gone to this neighborhood to thank some of the people that had written letters of support for him when he was seeking release on bail in San Francisco.

As you can read in the letter from his San Francisco lawyer that follows, this prosecution is a result of a new judge and prosecutor taking over, not upon any substantial or new evidence.
Friends,

It is clear from the arrest and all the surrounding circumstances that the charge against Harold in Florida is totally baseless. A thorough search of his person and his van resulted in NO seizure of any substances, legal or illegal. Further, NO allegation is even made that any money was produced. Harold was swept up in a sting operation in which numerous individuals were arrested. All except Harold were alleged to have actually made a purchase. None of them were with him when he was arrested. He has NO drug history!! In short, Harold was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had gone to this neighborhood to thank some of the people that had written letters of support for him when he was seeking release on bail in San Francisco.

News of his arrest spread quickly and he was bailed out shortly after he appeared in a Florida court.

Just days earlier he had appeared on "Democracy Now" with host Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, and attended a press conference held by the World Council of Churches at Riverside Church announcing international support for the SF8 launched by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other Nobel Laureates.

Harold has every intention of fighting the charges in San Francisco and Florida. In light of the torture he suffered in New Orleans in 1973, his strength and character in the face of this latest ordeal are amazing. The stress this has caused for him and his family is overwhelming.

Randy Montesano,
Harold Taylor's attorney in the San Francisco 8 case

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