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News :: Human Rights : Organizing : Race
Demonstration to Free the San Francisco 8: Concerned Boston Citizens Protest U.S. Torture and Racism
14 Feb 2007
Modified: 03:49:14 PM
Boston, MA, February 14th • Activists, students, teachers and church leaders from the groups Coast to Coast Solidarity- Boston and Queers Against Prison- Boston rallied this morning at South Station followed by a string of banner appearances and educational events across the city. This demonstration was part of a national call to action demanding lower bail and the release of the San Francisco 8. Eight former Black Panthers were arrested January 23rd, 2007 in California, New York and Florida on charges related to the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police officer. Similar charges were thrown out, over 30 years ago, after it was revealed that police used torture to extract confessions when some of these same men were arrested in New Orleans in 1973.
Richard Brown, Richard O'Neal, Ray Boudreaux, and Hank Jones were arrested in California. Francisco Torres was arrested in Queens, New York. Harold Taylor was arrested in Florida. Two men charged have been held as political prisoners for over 30 years – Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim are both in New York State prisons. A ninth man -- Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth – is still being sought. The men were charged with the murder of Sgt. John Young and conspiracy that encompasses numerous acts between 1968 and 1973.

Harold Taylor and John Bowman (recently deceased) as well as Ruben Scott (thought to be a government witness) were first charged in 1975. But a judge tossed out the charges, finding that Taylor and his two co-defendants made confessions after police in New Orleans tortured them. Their torture lasted for several days, with police employing electric shock, cattle prods, beatings, sensory deprivation, plastic bags and hot, wet blankets for asphyxiation.

Information sharing, bright displays, and speak outs have been organized to testify that Bostonians will not stand for this abuse of good people who fight for justice. Demands for the freedom of the San Francisco 8, all political prisoners and an end to prison expansion in Massachusetts rang out clearly.

"Despite the recent birthday of the President who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, we still see slavery legal and in full effect within the prison industrial complex. The issue that needs addressed is a broader, underlying force of systemic, institutionalized white supremacy, but today, we rally specifically to show support and solidarity with the San Francisco 8" said Jason Lydon, the Director of Community Church of Boston.

Danni West, one of the organizers for today's actions, reminded the assembled people that, "as northerners, we cannot allow ourselves to forget that the confessions which these ridiculous criminal complaints are based upon, were extracted through torture in the city of New Orleans. As we push for the freedom of the San Francisco 8, may we keep the humin-made disasters in the gulf, the torture caused by the government in the face of the storms barely a year and a half ago, in our hearts as well."

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