Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Photos from the victory celebration

Hank Jones, Richard Brown, Cisco Torres, Ray Boudreaux, Richard O'Neal, Harold Taylor of the SF8 with Soffiyah Elijah (atty) and Claude Marks on sound in bkgrd. At the SF8 Victory Celebration at the African-American Art & Culture Complex.

The crowd of over 200 applauded again and again; the BLO welcomed us

Generations joined in celebrating, some younger than the case itself, some from the Third World Strike at SF State, some could remember Marian Anderson singing at the Lincoln Memorial

The Brass Liberation Orchestra, who energized many of our rallies, were there in force to welcome everyone

Soffiyah and Cisco address the crowd

Attorney Soffiyah Elijah runs the case down (with our invaluable stage manager Sarolta in the background)

Francisco "Cisco" Torres was the last of the defendants to have his charges dismissed – here standing with Ray Boudreaux and Richard O'Neal

Richard O'Neal, Harold Taylor, Hank Jones and Richard Brown

Richard O'Neal and Harold Taylor

Hank Jones and Richard Brown

Ray Boudreaux, Richard O'Neal, Richard Brown and Francisco Torres

Ray Boudreaux and Richard O'Neal

Richard Brown, Francisco Torres and Ray Boudreaux

Lawyers and families were there

The victorious legal team was represented by Rai Sue Sussman, John Philipsborn, Chuck Bourdon and Stuart Hanlon – kudos to all!

Families came from far and wide, including Deshaun Bowman, son of John Bowman, who passed early in the case and is deeply missed

Continuing support for Herman and Jalil. Resistance to all political repression.

Central to the celebration was our commitment to keep on until Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim are free, as expressed in this banner and letters to them

Jess Sundin of the Committee to End FBI Repression came from Minnesota to express her support, and the crowd voiced its support for those like Jess who continue to face political repression.

Maisha Quint helps remember Javad Jahi

Maisha Quint read poetry from our departed comrade Javad Jahi

Hank Jones, Richard Brown, Francisco Torres, Ray Boudreaux, Richard O'Neal, Harold Taylor, Soffiyah Elijah and emcee Kiilu Nyasha thanked the crowd and all those supporters from France to Philly to Hawaii who could not be there

Kaylah Marin and devorah major contributed greatly

Kaylah Marin's singing fused all our pain and joy

SF Poet Laureate added excruciatingly beautiful words

A hard-earned celebration

Kiilu Nyasha emceed, the Brass Liberation Orchestra played

Hank Jones, Richard Brown, Francisco Torres, Richard O'Neal, Harold Taylor, Soffiyah Elijah, Ray Boudreaux with emcee Kiilu Nyasha

The Brass Liberation Orchestra played for a slide show of the six+ year history of the case (John Bowman shown, RIP)

The Troublemakers Union led the dancing

Performers danced, the audience danced – led by the young Troublemakers
Akinyele led great dance music by the Troublemakers Union

The Troublemakers Union played and played

Young vocalists from the Troublemakers Union captured our hearts

The Troubemakers Union rocked the house

More of the Troublemakers Union

Everyone loved the music

The Troublemakers Union played and played – fantastic!

Congratulations from supporters

Supervisor (and mayoral candidate) John Avalos was there.

Long-time supporters Judy and Diana helped throw down.

Over 200 supporters, friends and family came to the victory celebration.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Celebrate in SF Saturday Oct 22

Saturday October 22, 7:00 p.m.
African American Arts & Culture Center
762 Fulton St, San Francisco

Friday, September 9, 2011

"It took over 4 1/2 years to win this case!"

"The Court, having considered the Stipulation of Facts submitted by the parties…together with the previously submitted motion to dismiss, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this case be dismissed."

Dated August 18, 2011
Philip J. Moscone, Judge of the Superior Court
So concludes a case that was initiated in a Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation in 2003, grand jury investigations that locked up former Panthers in 2005, and charged eight brothers in January of 2007.

"It took over 4 1/2 years to win this case!" said Francisco Torres.

This case starts with an attack on the Ingleside Police Station in August of 1971, 40 years ago, in which a San Francisco Police Sergeant was killed. At the time, the attack was claimed to be a response to the assassination of George Jackson the previous week in San Quentin.

In 1973, in a major national police agency offensive and Cointelpro operation designed to destroy the Black Panther Party, over a dozen Party members were arrested in New Orleans. At least three of the men were tortured and forced to sign statements regarding the Ingleside attack. A 1975 prosecution based on the torture-induced statements was thrown out of court in San Francisco.

Then, in 2005, the government’s need to promote an "anti-terrorism" agenda and to re-criminalize the history of the Black Panther Party drove the reopening of this cold case through a Grand Jury decades later. There was strong resistance to the Grand Jury, but in 2007 charges were brought against the men who become the San Francisco 8.

With the same solidarity shown in resisting the 2005 Grand Jury, and with growing community support for the Brothers, and a film, The Legacy of Torture, which exposed the background, the San Francisco 8 case soon began to unravel for the prosecution. In an unprecedented development, five of the men were released on bail.

In 2008 the conspiracy charge against Francisco "Cisco" Torres was dropped and all charges against five were dropped (Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Hank Jones, Richard O'Neal and Harold Taylor). Jalil Muntaqim and Herman Bell, who have spent decades in prison as political prisoners, pleaded no contest to reduced charges of conspiracy and manslaughter with no prison sentences. This left a single charge against Cisco for the last three years, which has just been dismissed.

Four and a half years of mass support for the Brothers, including resolutions from the San Francisco Central Labor Council, the Berkeley City Council, and several San Francisco Supervisors, have broken the back of a vindictive prosecution organized by Homeland Security, the FBI, and then California Attorney General (now Governor) Jerry Brown.

The Stipulation of Facts leading to the final dismissal of the case against Francisco Torres includes:
  • The loss of the alleged murder weapon
  • Statements about their torture by three men arrested in New Orleans – (police tortured them for several days employing electric shock, cattle prods, beatings, sensory deprivation, plastic bags and hot, wet blankets for asphyxiation)
  • Insufficient evidence to prove guilt
  • After three decades, memories faded, witnesses died (70 people have died including John Bowman – who was one of those tortured in New Orleans) , and evidence was “lost, destroyed or is otherwise unavailable” (as in illegally obtained or Cointelpro related)
  • In the 1970s, Reuben Scott, who was tortured, refused to testify for the prosecution, but suddenly, more than 30 years later changed his mind
  • Wiretap evidence was ruled not discoverable in 2009 (and these surveillance documents which could prove the Cointelpro campaign against the Panthers became a liability to the prosecution, some became lost or destroyed, or unavailable)

"Against the backdrop of the war on terror, steadfast solidarity among defendants and supporters of all stripes prevailed over conventional wisdom. Again the San Francisco 8 thank the people around the planet and especially the Bay. The success belongs to each and every one of you," commented Ray Boudreaux.

Hank Jones declared, "There’s no doubt in my mind, had it not been for the solidarity committee and the film, Legacy of Torture, we would have been railroaded. Mobilizing the way we did all across the country, put the government on notice that we were a force to be reckoned with!"

The defense committee has vowed to keep up the pressure until Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim are back with their families and community. Hank Jones said, "Now that Cisco is cleared, we can shift our focus to building a movement to release other political prisoners."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Radio interview on the dismissal of the final charges - listen

For a great interview with Cisco Torres and Maisha Quint of the SF8 Committee on KPFA's Hardknock radio August 23, go to the archived show at www.kpfa.org/archive/id/72707.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cisco cleared! Last of the charges dismissed

"It took over 4 1/2 years to win this case!" said Cisco Torres.

Judge Philip Moscone signed and filed an order dismissing charges against Francisco Torres late Thursday, August 18, 2011. Cisco was the last of the San Francisco 8 facing charges in this 1971 case about the killing of a San Francisco police sergeant. In 1973 several of the men were brutally tortured by police in Louisiana to elicit false confessions. The case was dismissed in the 1970s, but charges were filed again in January of 2007 against eight former Black Panther Party members and associates.

They all resisted this renewed repression. Charges against Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Hank Jones, Richard O'Neal and Harold Taylor were previously dismissed for insufficient evidence. Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim plead to greatly reduced charges receiving time served and probation.

Cisco Torres, speaking for himself and on behalf of the San Francisco 8, was elated, giving "Our thanks to all of our supporters for battling with us for so long – our victory is shared!"

Kiilu Nyasha, who has supported the SF8 from the beginning, has written "This is great news and we should all celebrate! This people's victory will boost our morale and reenergize us to continue our fight to free all our political prisoners, especially Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim, 2 of the 8 who remain in prison."

A more detailed statement and story will follow.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Resisting Repression - reflections through the decades

An inspiring evening of conversation was had on February 27 with Francisco “Cisco” Torres and Dylcia Pagán, two life long Puerto Rican activists and former political prisoners. The program followed a reception for Emory Douglas' art show, a benefit for political prisoner Marshall Eddie Conway who called in to talk with the audience.

Dylcia Pagán is one of the 11 Puerto Rican former political prisoners granted clemency by President Clinton in September 1999. After serving 19 years, she immediately returned to Puerto Rico, where she and her compañeros/as were met with a huge welcome celebration. She has remained active in the Puerto Rican struggle and will discuss the case of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera as well as what is happening in Puerto Rico today.

Francisco Torres is the last remaining defendant in the SF 8 case. This is a 40 year oldcase based on testimony obtained through torture. The defendants were community activists formerly associated with the Black Panther Party. Charges against five of the eight men were completely dropped, while two others got probation and time served. The California Attorney General’s office has refused to drop the charges against Francisco and has dragged on this case for over three years, apparently hoping that the huge public support which the SF8 has built will disappear.

[Note: Judge Philip Moscone signed and filed an order dismissing charges against Francisco Torres late Thursday, August 18, 2011. For more info, see more recent posts.]