Power to the people… then and now – a small victory for the SF8!

There’s recently been a victory for the San Francisco 8 — a group of former Black Panthers who are being framed for the 1971 killing of San Francisco police Sergeant John Young as well as participating in a conspiracy to “kill police” which allegedly occurred between 1969 and 1973. The conspiracy charges against five of the eight defendants have been dropped, meaning that one of the 8 now faces no charges, while the others still face murder charges.

The same murder case was originally dismissed in 1975 because the only evidence was based on the “confessions” of three men — two of whom are being re-charged now — which were extracted through severe and extensive torture. The defendants from the 1975 case produced the video “Legacy of Torture” which describes their case including their torture by the New Orleans police using cattleprods, slapjacks, beatings, and various forms of water torture.

In the 1970s — and still today in 2008 — the SF8 are being targeted because of their involvement with the Black Panthers, which the government has always sought to destroy. The post 9-11 War on Terror has ushered in a new excuse to continue the COINTELPRO tactics of yesteryear, which used warrantless surveillance, harassment, intimidation, assassinations and keeping organizations swamped in court cases based on manufactured evidence, coerced testimony, and perjury to neutralize radical groups. Sound familiar? The SF8 include Herman Bell, Jalil Muntaqim (formerly Anthony Bottom), Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Henry Watson Jones, Richard O’Neal, Harold Taylor, and Francisco Torres.

In another development, while SF 8 member Harold Taylor was back home in Florida, he was arrested as part of a cocaine drug sweep. Harold was accused of attempting to buy cocaine and the prosecution in the Bay Area immediately demanded that Harold Taylor’s bail be revoked. The charge was bogus and just an excuse to persecute the former Panther. Harold had no money in his possession at the time of his arrest (when he was supposedly on his way to buy drugs?) and has never used cocaine. This is the only time that this writer can think of when it paid to be broke. The DA’s motion to have Harold incarcerated failed.

There has been a huge outpouring of community support for the SF8. It is simply a matter of time before all of these charges will be dismissed or the SF8 will be acquitted. What you do matters! Please do anything you can to help these brothers. For more information, contact the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights at www.freethesf8.org