We recently added some new materials to our collection that shed light on people’s resistance to the No Bail Act, a federal preventive detention law (passed in 1984) which fundamentally overturned the presumption of innocence by making defendants prove their right to bail. One of our newest collections, New York 8 Against Fascist Terrorism, includes the story of the first people held under the law in 1984. 

In the middle of the night on October 17, 1984, more than 500 heavily armed members of the FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) conducted a sweep across New York City, arresting eight Black organizers. During the sweep, six residences were raided and their occupants–including a one year old infant–were held at gunpoint. Extensive surveillance took place in the 22 months leading up to the arrests. 

After a month and a half long battle, the NY 8 were exonerated despite 72 conspiracy charges for isolated, petty crimes that New York state claimed were acts of a criminal enterprise. Their political defense defeated the No Bail Act and RICO charges (Racketeering Influence Organization Act used most commonly against organized crime), marking a significant victory in the fight against government repression of political dissent.

Within months after the October 17 raid, Tim Blunk and Susan Rosenberg became the first political organizers in New Jersey state to be tried under the No Bail Act. In their joint statement, Tim and Susan challenge the use of the No Bail Act to target political activists and classify them as a “danger to the community.” Their statement is a testament to the resilience of a movement in the face of harsh government repression. 

Check out some of our new digitized materials related to the No Bail Act below.

– danielle

Full text links:

Black Nation’s Freedom Fighters Jailed (New York 8 Against Fascist Terrorism Collection)

New York 8 Closing Verdict (New York 8 Against Fascist Terrorism Collection)

We Honor Our Freedom Fighters (New York 8 Against Fascist Terrorism Collection)

Build a Revolutionary Resistance Movement Against U.S. Imperialism! Statement by Tim Blunk and Susan Rosenberg (Resistance Conspiracy Collection)