Thursday, April 30, 2009

The SF 8 case as an attempt to rewrite history

Why would the state spend millions to prosecute the San Francisco 8, a 38-year old case that has already been dropped several times?

While there are several aspects to the answer, the activist journalist Dan Berger offers one important response in a recent article: "... the current moment is a pivotal one in shaping how society perceives the history and impact of the black freedom struggle." This case is one that is "being reopened in a post–civil rights world that has seen an immense retreat from racial justice ... these cases constitute spectacular intervention by the state in how the black freedom struggle is remembered".

In other words, the charges are an attempt to rewrite the history of the Black Liberation Movement as a mere criminal conspiracy. With political cases such as this one, "... prosecutions emerge out of pre-existing cooperation between state and federal law enforcement agencies. There does not seem to be any visible social movement clamoring for these men to be incarcerated. ... In the prosecution of black radicals ... black power emerges only as villain."

Get the complete article as a 20 page PDF file: "Rescuing Civil Rights from Black Power: Collective Memory and Saving the State in Twenty-First-Century Prosecutions of 1960s-Era Cases" by Dan Berger in the Journal for the Study of Radicalism, volume 3, issue 1 (Spring 2009).

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