True Leadership is Locked Behind Prison Walls

by Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action L.A.

Across the country, thousands of prisoners have been striking and taking other non-violent direct actions to oppose prison slavery and other denials of their human rights that are taking place behind prison walls. They launched this action on the anniversary of the Attica prison uprising that was crushed in 1971 in a massacre ordered by NY Gov. Rockefeller. (For information, see httpss:// Despite the oppression and repression they face, they’re demonstrating the self-sacrificing leadership and commitment we need to help reshape this society and chart a course of liberation and sustainable life.

The most concentrated form of such leadership is demonstrated by political prisoners – people locked up for their commitment to the people and a vision of a better world. Whoever wins the election, there’ll be a small window to force lame duck Obama grant executive clemency to free political prisoners in federal custody. Obama wants to use his waning months in office to push through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, opposed by Clinton, Trump and the majority of people in the US. Instead, we must pressure Obama to overturn the incarceration of Native, Puerto Rican and Black freedom fighters targeted by COINTELPRO, of whistleblowers and war resisters. Who are these people?

Leonard Peltier has been unjustly imprisoned more than 40 years for defending indigenous sovereignty and Native peoples’ lives against US-organized tribal goon squads and militarized FBI repression. When Bill Clinton contemplated freeing him, as he had promised, active FBI agents staged a public protest at the White House. Internationally recognized as a prisoner of conscience, he must be freed. See:

Oscar Lopez Rivera is a Puerto Rican independentista, a Vietnam vet convicted of a “thought crime:” seditious conspiracy — planning to overthrow the US government in Puerto Rico. He’s served 35 years, almost half his life, the longest-held Puerto Rican political prisoner in US custody. Boricuas are united in demanding his release and in opposition to the PROMESA junta Obama and Congress imposed on Puerto Rico that exposes the colonialism Lopez opposes. See:

Dr. Mutulu Shakur was supposed to get paroled already yet remains in federal prison. A founder of the Black Acupuncture Anasthesia Association of North America, a therapist who helped Black people de-tox from heroin, and stepfather of Tupac Shakur, Mutulu was accused of helping Assata Shakur escape prison. He’s pushed for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to expose the crimes of COINTELPRO against the Black community and freedom struggle.  See:

Chelsea Manning (then known as Bradley) was a private convicted of unauthorized release of classified information exposing US war crimes. She should’ve been thanked for upholding international law embodied in the Nuremberg Tribunals, but was tried and imprisoned by a kangaroo military court, subjected to torture inside military and federal prisons, and driven to attempted suicide, for which she’s been subjected to further punishment. See: httpss://

Obama has about 75 days left. Call the White House every day and demand he free Peltier, Lopez Rivera, Shakur, and Manning and pardon Edward Snowden: 202-456-1111.

On Saturday, Nov. 19, from 6-9:00 pm at McCarty Christian Church, 4103 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles (at 11th Ave. east of Crenshaw Blvd.), a panel of Black, Native, Puerto Rican and other activists, including Kathy Peltier, Leonard’s daughter, and Nicole Hernandez of Puerto Ricans in Action will speak about these cases. The event is sponsored by a coalition including White People for Black Lives, Anti-Racist Action, Puerto Rican Alliance and others. KPFK is a media sponsor. For more information, call 323-636-7388.

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