[Ppnews] Still Can’t Jail the Spirit: Sept 15th

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Sep 14 08:40:04 EDT 2006



Still Can’t Jail the Spirit
Walking Artshow by Political Prisoner Tom Manning and others

September 15th, Portland, Maine
(see full statement below)

On Friday September 15th, we will demonstrate that the government and
police still "Can't Jail the Spirit", with a walking artshow by political
prisoner Tom Manning and others. The art show will begin at 5pm at the
Woodbury Campus Center on USM(University of Southern Maine)'s campus, and
will travel on foot to Congress Square by 6pm in Portland, Maine.
Tom's paintings will be displayed along the route and in the square,
along with art from local artists. At Congress Square there will also be
food, signs, and more information about the work and history of the
artists represented at the exhibit. Speakers will include Ray Luc
Levasseur, lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild, and an open mic, at
which all members of the public who believe in expression free from police
control are encouraged to bring poems, music, art, and their free speech.


Statement by the Portland Victory Gardens Project

On Friday September 8th, the University of Southern Maine (USM) censored
"Can't Jail the Spirit: Art by Political Prisoner Tom Manning & others"
when university President Richard Pattenaude declared that Tom's paintings
would be taken down from the walls of the gallery at Woodbury Campus
Center. Pattenaude's abrupt cancellation has alarmed USM students and
faculty, and other members of the greater Portland community. USM's act
of censorship came on the heels of intense pressure from corporate
sponsors, police officers and law enforcement associations from Maine and
other states. Further, the show was canceled without due process or
notice to exhibit organizers or the USM community.

So far, much of the media attention to this action has been dominated by
the words of the University and the police regarding this art show. We are
releasing this statement to respond to the president's action, and to
clarify the Portland Victory Gardens Projects views on political
prisoners, free speech and human rights.

Just 2 days prior to President Pattenaude's announcement about the closing
of the exhibit, the University stated that "Can't Jail the Spirit"
presented a unique opportunity for public dialogue and debate ­ in keeping
with USM's mission as a "comprehensive public university
for the benefit
of the citizens of Maine and society in general." But in his recent press
statement, President Pattenaude said that the show was canceled because
"any reasoned discussion of ideas has been overshadowed completely by Mr.
Manning's and Mr. Levasseur's criminal acts, and the pain and suffering
they caused." These two statements are clearly contradictory: in censoring
the art show, Pattenaude is limiting campus discussion on the definition
of the term political prisoner—a complete reversal from the art exhibit's
original intention! How can a true discussion on political prisoners take
place while the opinions of the prisoners and their supporters are being
suppressed?

We believe that the power of the police—through pressure on the University
and its funders—is being used in this instance to limit free speech and
opinions that the government does not approve of. We see this action as a
bold effort by police forces to control ideas and opinions being discussed
on a public university campus.

It is true that Tom Manning was convicted for the felony murder of a New
Jersey state trooper; Tom says he shot back in self defense because the
police shot at him first. Most of the controversy surrounding the art
show centers around this fact, but lost in the discussion is the fact that
Tom Manning is a political prisoner because he took action against the
racist, U.S.-backed apartheid regime in South Africa, and U.S.-backed
death squads and dictatorships in Central America. It is for these
reasons that Portland Victory Gardens Project and many others around the
world recognize Tom Manning as a political prisoner.

Controversy over the exhibit has also overshadowed the many positive
contributions made by Tom Manning and Ray Luc Levasseur for the causes of
freedom and justice in Portland and beyond, through such organizations as
Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Portland Victory Gardens Project, and
SCAR. SCAR, an anti-prison and anti-racist group begun by former
prisoners; helped to found a radical bookstore called Red Star North;
developed community programs such as self defense classes and a community
bail fund; worked against torture and abuse in the Maine prison system;
and published a newspaper. "Can't Jail the Spirit" documents the work of
Tom, Ray and others by telling about their time underground, and their
capture, trials and imprisonment.

On Friday September 15th, we will demonstrate that the government and
police still "Can't Jail the Spirit", with a walking artshow by Tom
Manning and others. The art show will begin at 5pm at the Woodbury Campus
Center on USM's campus, and will travel on foot to Congress Square by 6pm.
Tom's paintings will be displayed along the route and in the square,
along with art from local artists. At Congress Square there will also be
food, signs, and more information about the work and history of the
artists represented at the exhibit. Speakers will include Ray Luc
Levasseur, lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild, and an open mic, at
which all members of the public who believe in expression free from police
control are encouraged to bring poems, music, art, and their free speech.

There is a power and humanity that flow through his Tom Mannings’
paintings that transcends the confinement of prison walls and barbed wire.
His paintings provide a voice for the voiceless: indigenous women in
Chiapas, Mexico struggling against colonization of their homeland;
political exile and former political prisoner Assata Shakur; to a 3 year
old girl who was shot to death by the Los Angeles Police Department.
"Can't Jail the Spirit" will be rehung in a Portland gallery in the near
future, time and place TBA and will continue to other east coast locations
this winter. We call on all supporters of freedom and free speech to rise
up against this repression and celebrate our collective voices for
liberation.

For more information about Tom Manning you can visit:
www.geocities.com/tom-manning

For more information about U.S. Political Prisoners:
www.thejerichomovement.com or www.ecoprisoners.org

For more information about the Portland Victory Gardens Project and Can'ta
Jail the Spirit: (207) 761-1504 or pvg at riseup.net

----------------------
PRESS ALERT - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 13, 2006

CENSORED ARTWORK ON VIEW AT THEPHOENIX.COM
Paintings of a self-described political prisoner convicted of bombings and
involvement in police officer's death available at the Web site of the
Portland
Phoenix

Thirty-two paintings removed from display at the University of Southern
Maine are now available for viewing in an exclusive online exhibit at
thePhoenix.com.
The paintings include landscapes real and imagined, scenes from the Third
World, and portraits of modern and historical political activists. Many of
those whose portraits Manning has painted have served - or are now serving
- prison time in connection with their actions.
Other pieces address political themes, such as "Where's Liberty," in which an
African child turns away from the blue and red colors symbolizing European
colonization, toward a green field symbolizing land. "Bloody Cotton"
addresses the theme of chattel slavery, in which African slaves were
brought to live in harsh conditions in America to harvest cotton, among
other tasks; it also serves as a reminder that imprisoned convicts are the
only exceptions from the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution,
which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude.
Some of Manning's work shows what society and the world have lost as a
result of sectarian conflict: "Bridge at Mostar" shows the 16th-century
bridge in Bosnia that was destroyed in the religious and ethnic violence
following the collapse of the nation of Yugoslavia. And "El Salvador
Massacre" depicts the lighting of a memorial candle near the body of a
victim of a massacre during that country's US-influenced political
upheaval in the 1970s.
Among those whose portraits are on display are:
Safiya Bukhari, a former member of the Black Panther Party, and co-founder
of the Jericho Movement, which supports and publicizes the situations of
political prisoners.
Assata Shakur, a former member of the Black Panther Party, and godmother
of hip hop artist Tupac Shakur.
Betty Shabazz, widow of Malcolm X and an activist in her own right.
Susie Pena, a 19-month-old girl shot by police while in her father's arms
during a 2005 standoff in LA.
Jose Marti, a leader of the Cuban independence movement.
Leonard Peltier, an activist for the rights of Native Americans.
Che Guevara, a Latin American guerrilla leader.
Fidel Castro, the Communist leader of Cuba.
Jaan Laaman, one of Manning's co-defendants.
Winona LaDuke, a Native American activist and former vice-presidential
candidate.

Manning, who terms himself a political prisoner because he is imprisoned
for crimes he committed to make a political statement, is serving a life
sentence in federal prison in connection with politically motivated
bombings of government and corporate locations in several states in the
1970s and 1980s, as well as being involved in an encounter in 1981 that
left a New Jersey state trooper dead.
His work, painted while incarcerated, had been on display in a show called
"Can't Jail the Spirit," at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.
The show, according to university publicity materials, was intended to spark
discussion of what the term "political prisoner" means, how it might be
defined, and how to determine who is one, and who is not. It is a question
particularly potent in today's world, where people who the US government
calls "insurgents" or "terrorists" believe themselves to be held prisoner
for actions they took based on political beliefs.
Accompanying the images online and in the most recent issue of the
Portland Phoenix are a news story about the cancellation of the exhibit,
and a review of the artwork by a Portland Phoenix art reviewer.

Contact information:
Peter Kadzis, executive editor, Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
617.859.3236
Jeff Inglis, managing editor, Portland Phoenix: 207.773.8900 x108

Portland Victory Gardens Project
PO Box 1992
Portland, Maine 04104
(207) 761-1504

Free the Land!  Free all U.S. Political Prisoners!
All Power to the People!

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
www.freedomarchives.org 
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