[Ppnews] Joint Statement from the San Francisco Eight

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 22 10:46:26 EDT 2007


Joint Statement from the San Francisco Eight

We, the San Francisco 8, would like to send this 
joint statement extending our heartfelt gratitude 
and appreciation to all our friends and 
supporters. As many of you know, this COINTELPRO 
persecution has been on-going for nearly 36 
years. However, in the last few years, in accord 
with the implementation of the Patriot Act, state 
and federal authorities initiated plans to stifle 
political dissent, particularly targeting young 
activists. Similarly, COINTELPRO's objective was 
to "
 expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or 
otherwise neutralize the activities of Black 
nationalist, hate type organizations and 
groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, 
membership, and supporters, and to counter their 
propensity for violence and civil disorder 
(COINTELPRO memo of August 25, 1967).

The FBI not only targeted the Black Panther 
Party, but according to this COINTELPRO memo: 
"Intensified attention under this program should 
be afforded to the activities of such groups as 
the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, 
the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 
Revolutionary Action Movement, the Deacons for 
Defense and Justice, Congress of Racial Equality, 
and the Nation of Islam. Particular emphasis 
should be given to extremists who direct the 
activities and policies of revolutionary or 
militant groups such as Stokely Carmichael, H. 
"Rap" Brown, Elijah Muhammad, and Maxwell 
Stanford." By March 4, 1968, COINTELPRO was in 
full operation leading to directing its full 
attention to the Black Panther Party when it came 
into existence in October 1968, to prohibit the 
BPP from developing durable long-term political 
and organizational relationships with various segments of the Black community.

This case represents the continuation of that 
COINTELPRO objective, to further indicate how the 
government will persecute today's activists. The 
government is seeking to rewrite the history of 
struggle as exemplified by the BPP, venomously 
trying to define that legacy of struggle as a "terrorist" movement.

We vehemently reject that labeling, as the 
government attempts to characterize the San 
Francisco 8 as "terrorists," "criminals," and 
"wanton killers." They will never say the SF8 
were political activists and progressive 
civil/human rights organizers. They will never 
say they sought to relieve the community of all 
forms of state sponsored terrorism that is often 
found in Black, Asian and Latino communities 
today. They will never admit to the 
unconstitutional practices of the FBI COINTELPRO 
activities, despite the 1974 Senate Church 
Committee findings condemning those practices. 
Furthermore, they will never seek to establish 
remedies for those who are victims of the illegal 
FBI and local police actions under COINTELPRO, 
and now under the Patriot Act, if we don't demand they do so.

It is with this understanding the SF8 are issuing 
this joint statement, calling for friends and 
supporters to organize a national determination 
to ensure our victory. Ours will be a victory 
against fear and state terrorism; it will be a 
defeat against state torture tactics, threats and coercion.

This case and our call for action will teach 
today's activists what to expect from the state 
in its efforts to suppress dissent and protest of 
government repression. Indeed, this task will 
forward a broader understanding of what happened 
in the Movement of the 60s and 70s, and how 
COINTELPRO disrupted and destroyed the most 
viable Black political party that emerged out of 
the civil rights movement. Ultimately, what is 
here proposed will tell of a youth movement and 
how the government sought to undermine and 
destroy it. The proposal will expose how the 
government seeks to retaliate because those youth 
(who are now Elders) did in fact challenge the 
system of racist oppression. They not only 
challenged oppressive conditions in our 
collective communities, but also worked to 
support all oppressed peoples fighting against 
colonialism and imperialism at that time.

This case evolves out of a history of political 
struggle in this country, and it is our duty to 
fulfill that mission by expressing what happened 
then, and COINTELPRO's negative impact on today's 
social movements. Therefore, while we engage in a 
legal battle in the courtroom, it is imperative 
we urge our friends and supporters to extend the 
political front in the various communities. We 
must reach out to the various street 
organizations and youth groups, the animal and 
earth liberation groups, women's rights and LGBT 
forums, the immigration rights struggles, and the 
many ethnic communities who are struggling for a better life in this country.

Hence, the course of the overall struggle to win 
the release of the San Francisco 8 requires a 
broad political determination, reaching beyond 
the important legal issues of the case. For 
example, the question of torture, COINTELPRO, and 
matters of reconciliation are essential to this 
case. Therefore, a successful national campaign 
in support of the SF8 requires friends and 
supporters to achieve the following objectives:

1. Anti-Torture Legislation:

In 1909, the Niagara Movement evolved into the 
NAACP led by W.E.B. Dubois. The principal 
platform of the NAACP at that time was a struggle 
to forge an anti-lynching movement. Today, 
torture in its many forms has become a scourge in 
America: there is the inhumane use of restraint 
chairs in jails and prisons, an especially 
despicable device reminiscent of medieval torture 
mechanisms; there has been an increase in use of 
the taser as a weapon to induce confessions and 
control prisoners, resulting in many deaths, 
another inhumane torture device. In the case of 
the SF8, law enforcement officers employed 
similar torture techniques, including those used 
in Vietnam and in Abu Ghraib by U.S. military 
personnel. The use of torture permeates all 
facets of the so-called "criminal justice system."

Obviously, like the old anti-lynching platform of 
the NAACP, the San Francisco 8 call for a 
national campaign demanding anti-torture 
legislation on local levels (city councils and 
state legislatures). The SF8 hold that any form 
of interrogation that employs the use of water 
boarding, simulated drowning techniques, cattle 
prods, tasers, restraint chairs, physical 
beatings, sensory and sleep deprivation, and 
psychological coercion must be deemed inhumane 
and criminal. Therefore, the San Francisco 8 call 
for all progressive and peace loving people to 
join in a national campaign on city, state and 
congressional levels for proclamations and 
legislation outlawing all forms of torture.

2. Reopen COINTELPRO Hearings:

It is well known that the FBI targeted the Black 
Panther Party for annihilation under the secret 
counter-intelligence program (COINTELPRO). The 
FBI COINTELPRO effort resulted in the 
assassination, criminalization, vilification, and 
the splitting of the BPP leading to its 
destruction, with many BPP members today 
languishing in prisons. The FBI COINTELPRO 
actions worked in alliance with police 
departments across the country, and today, the 
Patriot Act has legalized much of what were 
illegal COINTELPRO practices. In 1974, the Senate 
Church Committee investigating the illegal FBI 
COINTELPRO activities declared such practices 
unconstitutional. However, the Senate Church 
Committee failed to create remedies for those who 
suffered from the unconstitutional practices of 
the FBI and police departments.

Subject to that reality, the San Francisco 8 
hereby call for a national movement for the 
reopening of COINTELPRO hearings. We, the SF8, 
urge friends and supporters to phone/fax/write to 
John Conyers, Chair of the Judiciary Committee in 
Congress, and appeal for him to conduct public 
hearings on why victims of COINTELPRO languish in 
prison over 30 years after it was declared 
unconstitutional. We, the SF8, ask friends and 
supporters to contact your congressional 
representative, Congressional Black Caucus 
members and other elected officials urging them 
to enable John Conyers to reopen COINTELPRO hearings.

3. Truth and Reconciliation Commission:

At the conclusion of hostilities in the struggle 
to end apartheid in South Africa, many 
progressive forces took a path to resolve 
potential antagonisms subject to racial, 
socioeconomic and political strife during the 
decades of apartheid. That path led to the 
creation of the Truth and Reconciliation 
Commission, principally led by the Honorable Bishop Desmond Tutu.

In the United States, people of Afrikan descent 
suffered the trauma of chattel slavery, Black 
Codes, Jim Crow segregation laws, political 
repression and state terrorism under the auspices 
of COINTELPRO. However, unlike South Africa, at 
no time has there been a national determination 
to resolve political, social or economic 
antagonisms born out of centuries/decades of 
racial strife. In recent years, as a result of 
the reparations movement, some corporations, 
cities and states have issued apologies for 
having been involved in the Atlantic slave trade. 
Despite these apologies, the systemic inequities 
prevail with devastating consequences on every 
vestige of life confronting the majority of 
people of Afrikan descent in America.

The San Francisco 8 understand that these 
historic dynamics perpetuate social-cultural 
determinants that inhibit the necessary 
psychological inducements towards self-reliance 
and self-determination. Therefore, we are calling 
for progressive peoples to open dialogue and 
begin the process towards organizing a national 
Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address 
these inequities. We believe such a Commission 
could serve as a catalyst to forge substantial 
resolutions to heal America's racial trauma.

In conclusion, it is these three areas of concern 
we jointly agree will empower a national campaign 
to virtually expose the negative impact of both 
COINTELPRO and the Patriot Act. We call for all 
progressive peoples in support of the San 
Francisco 8 and all U.S. political prisoners to 
find the means to organize committees and 
coalitions to implement this proposal on local and national levels.

Again, we, the San Francisco 8, extend our 
heartfelt appreciation for your solidarity and 
support. Let us, together, build a sustainable 
and durable initiative that redresses civil and 
human rights violations, as we organize to win 
the freedom of the San Francisco 8.

Free All U.S. Political Prisoners!
The San Francisco 8

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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