CONSPIRING FOR CHANGE: the politics of protest in the post 9-11 world
A benefit for the RNC8 and the SF8
$8 and up suggested donation; no one turned away
Join us for an evening of inspiration and resistance! The War on Terror has entangled long histories of state violence with new forms of repression. From yesterday’s COINTELPRO to today’s PATRIOT ACT, the government has attempted to criminalize U.S. political movements in the courts, in the media, and on the streets. This event brings together longtime activists locally and from around the country to discuss the use of conspiracy and terrorism charges against contemporary organizers, to connect legacies of social justice struggles, and to chart paths of opposition.
There will also be artwork by local Puerto Rican artists Danny Torres and Ismael Avila and the first Philadelphia showing of the exhibit Voices Outside: Artists Against the Prison Industrial Complex, a portfolio created by artists in the Justseed’s Artist Cooperative.
Ramona Africa is an international spokesperson for the MOVE organization, a revolutionary back-to-nature organization whose main belief is in life. This organization has experienced violent repression at the hands of the government, with nine members– known as the MOVE 9– incarcerated for a crime they did not commit. In 1985, Philadelphia police dropped a military-grade bomb on MOVE headquarters, killing six adults and five children. Ramona, the only adult survivor of that attack, was immediately arrested on charges including “conspiracy to riot,” and served seven years in prison.
Laura Whitehorn, an anti-imperialist activist, served nearly 15 years in prison for militant actions against U.S. policies during the 1980s. For many years before that, she was active in a variety of radical organizations, including the Weather Underground and the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee. Released from prison in 1999, she lives in New York City with her partner, Susie Day. Whitehorn is an editor at POZ magazine, a national source of information and news about HIV, and works with other activists in the New York State Taskforce for the Release of Political Prisoners.
Luce began her political work at age 15, joining a Tucson-based immigrant and border rights group. Since then she has expanded her focus to include other issues of globalization, capitalism and empire, and found that anarchist organizing methods best suited her desire for anti-oppression struggle. In addition to organizing as part of the RNC Welcoming Committee, Luce has spent much of the past couple years working with EWOK! (Earth Warriors are OK!), a Twin Cities-based eco-prisoner support group.
Luis Sanabria was a founding member of the National Committee to Free Puerto Rican POW and Political Prisoners and a member of the Movimiento de Liberacion Nacional (MLN), which spearheaded the campaigns for freeing two generations of Puerto Rican political prisoners. He is a founding member of the Juan A. Corretjer Centers in San Francisco and in Philadelphia, and a board member of Philadelphia's Centro Pedro Claver, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
Soffiyah Elijah is a Clinical Instructor at the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School. She has had a distinguished career as an attorney and was an assistant professor of law at the City University of New York. She has represented a number of political prisoners and activists in the U.S. including Kwame Turé, Marilyn Buck, and Sundiata Acoli. Dr. Elijah has done extensive research on the U.S. criminal justice and prison systems over the past 20 years. She is currently representing Francisco Torres in the San Francisco 8 case.
Francisco Torres (Invited)
Cisco was born in Puerto Rico and raised in this country. He is a Vietnam Veteran who fought for the grievances of Black and Latino soldiers upon his return to the states. A former Black Panther, he has been a community activist since his discharge from the military in 1969. His presence at the event depends on whether he will be able to travel during the preliminary hearings, which start in July.
The San Francisco 8 are the eight Black community activists – Black Panthers and others – who were arrested January 23, 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 thirty-five 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. The original charges against them came out of COINTELPRO, and the reopening of the case was made possible by the PATRIOT act. After more than two years, preliminary hearings in the case begin in July 2009. For more info check out www.freethesf8.org
The RNC8 are the eight activists facing conspiracy and terrorism charges for their work organizing against the 2008 Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota. They were arrested before the convention even began, and charged with “conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism,” making them the first people ever charged under Minnesota's version of the PATRIOT act. They are not being charged with actually doing anything, but face the possibility of several years in prison for publicly organizing against the RNC. For more info check out www.rnc8.org
This event is sponsored by Philly RNC8 Support Committee and the National Boricua Human Rights Network