[Pnews] Response to "Is Freeing Minks terrorism?" - Support Political Prisoners and the Right to Resist Oppression!
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jul 31 14:28:50 EDT 2014
In a recent Truth-Out article "Is Freeing Minks Terrorism? Questions we
should be Asking Ourselves," Lauren Gazzola writes about the Animal
Enterprise Terrorism Act ("AETA") and the case of Tyler Lang and Ken
Olliff. All progressive people should oppose AETA. The efforts of the
federal government to categorize the freeing of minks is appalling and
should similarly be opposed.
One particular paragraph in Lauren's article was particularly troubling
to me, however, and I thought it warranted speaking out about. The
"A society's strongest condemnation tends to be deployed not solely
against those who commit the most heinous acts, but also against those
who most forcefully oppose social norms. Sometimes - say, in the case of
murder - the worst acts and our social values coincide. But when the
state's most powerful condemnation in the form of criminal law is
brought to bear against those with unpopular political views, we should
not only consider the excessiveness of the punishment, but also stop to
examine those views themselves."
In Lauren's view, it would appear, it is okay for the state's strongest
and most powerful condemnation (and the punishment that would go along
with it) to be directed against those who commit the "most heinous acts."
There are in the United States, dozens of political prisoners, locked
up, some for over 40 years, for committing what are categorized as the
"most heinous acts" that Lauren's argument condemns. They include
Leonard Peltier, Sundiata Acoli, Oscar Lopez, Robert Seth Hayes, David
Gilbert and countless others.
Sundiata Acoli (Clark Squire), over 77 years old, has been in prison for
over 41 years, arrested and convicted for the same incident on the New
Jersey Turnpike as Assata Shakur. Sundiata was a long time civil rights
and Black liberation activist who had earlier had 2 years of his life
stolen from him when he was jailed in the COINTELPRO prosecution of the
New York Black Panther 21 case.
Abdullah Majid (Anthony LaBorde) is a former BPP community activist and
legal worker at Bronx Legal Services. He has been imprisoned for almost
35 years, convicted after 3 trials for killing a NYC police officer
where the prosecution systematically excluded African-American people
from the jury.
Of these and other political prisoners now sitting in America's prisons,
all have been locked up too long and should be freed. Some were outright
Some made political (or self-defense choices) responding to the war that
this country waged against the Black liberation and other
In that war, it has only been the oppressed who have been punished. No
government official or law enforcement official has ever been criminally
punished for that war. No one ever served time for the murders of Fred
Hampton or the dozens of BPP members and others who were murdered or
driven into exile or driven crazy by COINTELPRO and its related programs.
By all means, let's have an open and honest discussion about that
history and what happened. About what kind of movements for social and
political change we want to build. We should support Tyler and Kevin
and, yes, we should oppose the AETA. But, no Lauren, our state's "most
powerful condemnation" has not been directed against those who oppose
the AETA and who are animal rights activists.
And while society may agree that murder is heinous, let's not accept
that all killings are the same: let's not conflate police shooting an
unarmed youth with an act of resistance to oppression, or an act of
self-defense against those same police.
Let's not build support for the struggle against AETA at the expense of
those who have been sitting in prison for lifetimes.
Susan Tipograph is a criminal defense lawyer in NYC.
Original Article is here:
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