Thursday, April 8, 2010

“Freedom of Speech Now!” Political Prisoners, Political Repression & the Prison Industrial Complex


“Freedom of Speech Now!” Political Prisoners, Political Repression and the Prison Industrial Complex

Wednesday and Thursday, April 21st and 22nd, 11am-2pm
Washington State University, Vancouver, Firstenburg Commons


Introduction: 11:00 – 11:10

First speaker 11:10-11:50 Darrelle Dino Butler, “Indigenous Political Prisoners: The Case of Leonard Peltier and the American Indian Movement”

Darrelle Dino Butler is a member of the Seletz Nation in Oregon, poet, activist and member of the American Indian Movement (AIM). His involvement with AIM took him to many Native communities involved in the struggle against the U.S. Government's ongoing disregard for indigenous rights and sovereignty. On June 26, 1975, an FBI attack on the Oglala, South Dakota spiritual camp resulted in the deaths of two FBI agents and one indigenous man. He was arrested and charged with two counts of murder. The 1976 trial, in which he and co-defendant Bob Robideau were acquitted, drew national attention. In the late 1970's he participated in the Minnesota Citizen's Review Committee on FBI misconduct, working towards the release of Leonard Peltier, who was convicted for the deaths of the two FBI agents. Butler's 1979 request for political asylum in Canada was denied because he returned to the U.S. to testify for the defense in Peltier's trial.

Second Speaker 11:50-12:35 Jeff Luers, “The Green Scare: Earth and Animal Liberation”

Jeffrey "Free" Luers is an anarchist and environmental justice activist from Los Angeles, California. He was recently released from prison after a near 10-year sentence for setting fire to three SUV's in a car lot in Eugene, Oregon in 2000. Because his actions were politically motivated to make a statement about global warming he was targeted as an ‘eco-terrorist.’ He was tried with 13 felony counts with a cumulative sentence of over 100 years hanging over his head, but he refused a plea bargain. Even though the fires were quickly extinguished, he was found guilty of 11 felony charges and sentenced to nearly 23 years in prison. His sentence was eventually reduced after what The Independent described as an "international campaign for a more appropriate sentence for a crime in which no one was hurt." Free wrote extensively while incarcerated and his dedication to activism helps the struggle to continue.

12:35-1:00- Food Break, meet and greet

Third Speaker 1:00-1:30 Stephanie Boston, “Resisting Political Repression”

Stephanie is a radical feminist who has been involved in activist struggles for nearly 10 years. She believes in cross-pollination and building coalitions among various movements. She's a fan of using all the tools in the toolbox while holding anti-oppressive principles ethic. She will speak about how political repression appears whenever social and political movements threaten the status quo challenging the unequal distribution of power and wealth. The sooner activists learn the basics; the faster political repression can be successfully countered. She will focus on the newest case against environmental activists dubbed "the Green Scare”. She will talk about ways to learn about, mobilize against, and resist political repression.

1:10-1:20: Short Break
1:20-1:55: Engage panel and audience discussion
1:55-2:00: Wrap-up, thanks, and recruitment…


First Speaker 11:00-11:30 Peter Bohmer, “I was a Victim of COINTELPRO: Contemporary Reflections on Political Repression in the U.S.”

Peter teaches political economy at the Evergreen State College has been active in diverse social movements since the late 1960’s. He believes in and works for an economic system based on human dignity for all, where poverty and exploitation are abolished and where work is meaningful and fulfilling. Peter will discuss FBI skylarkings that have personally affected him and disrupted his activism.

Second Speaker 11:30-12:15 Ashanti Alston Omowali “Revolutionizing Freedom of Speech: Political Prisoner Amnesty and Prison Abolition in the 21st Century”

Ashanti Omowali Alston is an anarchist revolutionary, speaker, and writer, and former member of the Black Panther Party. He was also a member of the Black Liberation Army, and spent more than a decade in prison after government forces captured him (and the official court system convicted him) of armed robbery. Formerly a northeast coordinator for Critical Resistance and organizer for Estacion Libre, he is currently co-chair of the National Jericho Movement (to free U.S. political prisoners), a member of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and on the speaker’ bureau for the Institute for Anarchist Studies.

12:15-12:30: Food Break, meet and greet

Third Speaker 12:30-1:00 Dr. Jacques Depelchin, “Silences in African History: Freedom of Speech in Haiti and Democratic Republic of the Congo”

Dr. Jacques Depelchin is a committed intellectual, academic, and activist for peace, democracy, transparency and pro-people politics in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was born in the Congo and educated at Lovanium University (Kinshasa) in the DRC, the University of London, Johns Hopkins University in Italy, and Stanford. He has taught African History and related subjects at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, San Francisco State, Stanford, Syracuse, and universities in DR Congo, Mozambique, and Tanzania. He was present in the Eastern Congo during the most recent war in 1996-2002, and was a member of the non-militarist RCD-Kisangani movement led by Ernest Wamba dia Wamba which opposed continuation of the war. He participated in the negotiations leading to the Lusaka Cease-fire, those leading to Sun City-1 in 2002, and later, in portions of the negotiations leading to the Global and Inclusive Accord in Pretoria, 2003. He is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Berkeley-based Ota Benga International Alliance for Peace in the DR Congo.

Fourth Speaker 1:00-1:35 Kent Ford, “From COINTELPRO to the PATRIOT ACT: The Legacy of Political Repression and Political Prisoners in the United States”

Long time local resident, and community organizer, Kent Ford was a founding member of the Portland, Oregon chapter of the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s. Forty years later his son Lumumba Ford, who graduated from Portland State University, was targeted for post-911 terrorist charges and sentenced to18 years in prison for seditious conspiracy as part of the “Portland Seven.” Kent will discuss the historical linkages between political repression in the United States from the FBI programs of the 1960s and 70s crystallizing into Homeland Security and the PATRIOT ACT in the first decade of the 21st century.

1:35-1:55: Engage panel and audience discussion
1:55-2:00: Wrap-up, thanks, and recruitment…


The Jericho Movement for Political Prisoner Amnesty; ASWSUV; Education Without Borders; Students for Unity (PSU); Pan American Solidarity Organization (PSU); Student Animal Liberation Coalition (PSU); International Socialist Organization (PSU); Black Studies Department (PSU); Northwest Student Coalition; Portland Central America Solidarity Committee; Cascadia Convergence Network; Cascadia Rising Tide; Portland Animal Defense League; Students for Environmental Justice (MHCC); Black Student Union (MHCC); Black Student Union (WSUV); Social and Environmental Justice (WSUV); E’Njonis Café; Chako Kum Tux Club (MHCC); Rose City Copwatch; Fire Frashour Campaign


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