Monday, August 31, 2009

On the Unjust Prosecution of the San Francisco 8


August 27, 2009

To Attorney General Jerry Brown:

We want to express our deep concern over the unjust, costly and flawed prosecution of the San Francisco 8.

Based on “confessions” and other testimony extracted by torture and denial of right to counsel, this prosecution has been a disservice to the people of San Francisco.

For the last six years, prosecution of this case has ripped respected elders from their families and from their community service. It has exacted an incalculable toll on all of them.

The cost of this case to the people of San Francisco has now run into the millions of dollars.

The results to date of this prosecution speak to its inherent weakness and injustice:
  • On July 6, your office was forced to drop all charges against four of the San Francisco 8 (Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Hank Jones and Harold Taylor), acknowledging that you had “insufficient evidence” to prosecute them.

  • Your office had already been forced to drop all charges a year earlier against a fifth member of the SF8, Richard O’Neal.

  • Your office offered and accepted pleas to greatly reduced charges from two other SF 8 defendants, Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim, in exchange for time served and probation.
Francisco Torres is now the only remaining SF 8 defendant. Your office also offered him probation and time served in exchange for a plea to a lesser charge. He refused your offer, and maintains his innocence.

Mr. Torres was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City. He is a Vietnam Veteran who fought for the rights of Black and Latino soldiers upon his return to the states. A former member of the Black Panther Party, he has been a long-time community activist and mentor to youth. He is a husband, a father and a grandfather.

Previous attempts to prosecute this case were dismissed in 1975 when it was revealed that so-called “confessions” were the product of torture by the New Orleans police department.

As members of the Board of Supervisors, we reiterate our opposition to the use of torture against any suspects.
In the name of fairness and justice and human rights, we urge you to reconsider the continuation of this misguided prosecution.

Signed By:

Supervisor Eric Mar
Supervisor John Avalos
Supervisor Chris Daly

[PDF version of this statement]

Monday, August 24, 2009

New e-mail address

We have a new e-mail address:

freethesf8 [pat] gmail [dot] com

The old one (at riseup) no longer works.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The San Francisco 8 – No More! Commentary by Mumi Abu-Jamal

The San Francisco 8 -- No More!
[column written 7/15/09] (c) '09 Mumia Abu-Jamal [Listen to this commentary by Mumia]

It's been 2 1/2 years since the San Francisco 8 – eight former members [and associates – ed.] of the Black Panther Party – were cast into California jails and threatened with life sentences stemming from the 1971 shooting of a cop.

Perhaps the State figured the post - 9//11 paranoia and mania would make this an easy case. Perhaps the government thought that because many of the accused were men of advancing age, decades away from their prime organizing and activist days, it would be a cake walk.

The 8 men fought with dignity, principle and unity – and several days ago – charges for 4 of them were dismissed altogether: Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Hank Jones and Harold Taylor.

New York's Jalil Muntaqim pled no contest to conspiracy – and got time served in San Francisco County Jail – almost 2 1/2 years – with 3 years probation.

Herman Bell – another New York former Panther – took a similar deal earlier in July.

One ex-Panther, Francisco Torres, faces a hearing next month [October 9 – ed.], where most observers expect all charges to be dropped. Another, John Bowman, died before trial. The last, Richard O'Neal, was cleared pre-trial.

From the very beginning, back in the '70's – several of the men were brutally tortured by police in Louisiana to elicit false confessions (thus we see that Abu Ghraib really was nothing new).

The cases were dismissed decades ago -- on that basis alone.

That the prosecutions were reinstated at all is due more to the politicized Justice Department under John Ashcroft and George Bush – where torture was a tool of state – than anything else. Also implicated? The political ambitions of California Attorney General Jerry Brown, seeking the governorship.

No charges should've been brought in the first place – or if contemplated, dismissed under double jeopardy principles.

As it is – even the state admits – dismissal is valid due to insufficient evidence.

These results are due, in large part, to the solidarity of the men themselves, and some excellent, aggressive lawyering by assorted defense counsel, among them J. Soffiyah Elijah of Harvard Law School.

Several years ago, in a statement calling for support for the San Francisco 8, I implored supporters to fight for them now – before they fell into the clutches of the state containment system – instead of after.

Many took up that fight – leading to many of the most recent results.

-- (c) '09 maj
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Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim Back in NY: Write Them

Both Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom) have been transferred back to New York. Both will have parole hearings in the next month(s). You can write them at:

Herman Bell # 79D0262
Sullivan Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 116
325 Riverside Drive
Fallsburg, New York 12733-0116

Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom) #77A4283
Auburn Correctional Facility
135 State Street
P.O. Box 618
Auburn, NY 13021

Sunday, August 9, 2009

SF 8 Statement: Gratitude for Support, the Struggle Continues

We, The San Francisco 8 - Herman Bell, Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Richard O'Neal, Hank Jones, Jalil Muntaqim, Harold Taylor and Francisco Torres, express our deepest gratitude to the people of San Francisco and the world for their support and energy that brought about our success in this ordeal with the "justice system."

We and our support committee are claiming victory in this latest battle. As we go forward and prepare for the next one we ask that you lend your strength, your ideas and your spirit to win the dismissal of the charges against Francisco Torres. We also ask that you give your full support to the effort to gain release on parole by Jalil and Herman.

The many years of fighting this case have depleted our resources. We again ask that you help us raise the necessary funds to keep on battling. All contributions are deeply appreciated.

Let it be known that the San Francisco 8, as the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, will continue to labor in the human rights struggle and the support of Political Prisoners. We depend on the continued support of our friends and allies around the world for without it none of our successes would be possible.