… as promised in the last blog entry (United Freedom Front Communiques) here are the sentencing statements of the folks known as the Ohio 7 … arrested, charged and imprisoned for the armed actions of the United Freedom Front … we at Arm The Spirit had hoped to publish these statements, along with the communiques, etc, at some point …
Sentencing Statements Of The Ohio 7
Brooklyn, New York
“We do not equate captivity with surrender and we expect that U.S. imperialism will expire before our sentences do.”
On April 28 – May 1, 1986, six women and men – Raymond Levasseur, Carol Manning, Thomas Manning, Jaan Laaman, Barbara Curzi-Laaman, and Richard Williams – were sentenced in federal court in Brooklyn, New York for having carried out several bombing under the name of the United Freedom Front. The bombings had targeted U.S. military recruiting centres,; corporations that produce war materials that are used in South Africa and Central America; and South African government offices. We are reprinting the statements that they made at their sentencings because we think they put the lie to the U.S government’s assertions that the Ohio 7 and revolutionaries like them, are “terrorists” and criminals. They are revolutionaries, and represent some of the best that the U.S. has produced.
The 7 (the case of a seventh comrade, Pat Gros, was severed from the others) were captured in 1985 after a massive manhunt – the largest in U.S. history – carried out throughout the Northeast by the FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force, state, and local police. This operation, known as BOSLUC (BOS for Boston, Luc for Raymond Luc Levasseur) lasted for over three years. It included the mailing of flyers with the photographs and dental records of the 7’s children to daycare centres, clinics and schools; the unprecedented national link-up of the computer systems of all level of law enforcement agencies; and in, some areas, house-to-house investigations.
The Brooklyn trial lasted for five months and included testimony by literally hundreds of government witnesses. Throughout, the 7 both contested every piece of evidence and tried to educate the jury about the crimes of U.S. support for the South African regime and U.S. intervention in Central America. The jury was unable to convict the 7 on over half of the charges they faced. They refused to swallow whole the government’s version of the case.
Barely a month after the Brooklyn trial had ended, the 7, along with Black revolutionary Chris King, were indicted in Boston, Massachusetts for “racketeering” (RICO) and for “seditious conspiracy” – “to hinder execution of the laws of the U.S. … to oppose the government by force…to overthrow or put down by force the government of the United States.” The 7’s response: “We are revolutionaries. We are committed to building a resistance movement to bring the crimes of U.S. imperialism to justice – towards the day when people will no longer have to suffer the ravages of capitalist exploitation, racism, imperialist war and domination. This is not criminal; it is a small contribution we make with freedom-loving people everywhere.
I am proud to be able to speak today, Chimurenga Day, April 28, which is the day of commemoration of the War for Liberation in Zimbabwe. Just like the People of Zimbabwe overthrew the racist rulers of Rhodesia, won their war for national liberation, and are now building their socialist future, so too the African people of Azania will in the not too distant future tear down the murderous apartheid regime of South Africa. So today as the U.S. government begins its sentencing of me and my comrades, hoping that this will slow down the militant anti-apartheid and overall revolutionary anti-imperialist struggle here, I want to begin by clearly saying: South Africa will be Free, the anti-apartheid movement here will certainly grow in size and militancy, and the armed clandestine movement will continue to develop, expand and strike out in support of national liberation and socialist revolution.
From the beginning of this trial, the government, including Judge Glasser, sought to curtail and brutalize us, restrict our legal workers, intimidate the interested public and our supporters and in this way they hoped to criminalize revolutionary resistance by running their fascist railroad across our backs and quickly sending us off to life-long captivity. While unfortunately the government is sometimes able to capture guerrillas, they are not able to contain the revolutionary struggle even within their rigged courtrooms. As we said at the beginning of this tribunal process last year, this is a political case and we intend to put the U.S. government and its corporate backers on trial.
Of course the government did all it could to stop this attack on their corrupt and deadly system, beginning with Judge Glasser allowing 20 marshals to drag, beat and stun gun us out of this courtroom during our arraignment in March of ’85. This was followed by pre-trial hearings where the government and judge collaborated to cover up and excuse FBI and police violations of their own laws which occurred when we were captured.
During jury selections, both the government and the judge showed their foul racist natures by challenging and dismissing Black Jurors as often as possible. Judge Glasser culminated these apartheid like moves when early in the trial, over our strong objections, he swiftly threw out a Black woman juror who had to go to the hospital after her husband had an accident. He replaced here with a white man who he earlier was ready to adjourn the whole trial for when this juror fell ill. This was not really surprising because in the entire U.S. so-called justice system, only the jury has even the potential for any sort of objectivity or fairness. Recognizing this, we looked to pick Black jurors who, being part of the oppressed Black nation themselves, might have a clearer understanding of the resistance to apartheid and imperialism; as well as working class people, who we could speak and relate to since all of us and our politics are working class.
Throughout the trial the judge overruled about 90 per cent of our objections, while sustaining a similar percentage of government objections. It was almost embarrassingly blatant the way the judge worked with the government lawyers to hamper and obstruct our efforts to speak and raise the real issues and politics of the case. Perhaps the most serious attempt to keep us from putting forward our defense and offense was Judge Glasser’s refusal to allow us to call some of our primary witnesses, specifically Sekou Odinga and Richard Dhoruba Moore – two New Afrikan Freedom Fighters presently in captivity for their struggle to free their Nation and defeat U.S. imperialism.
We recognized that having such eloquent, forthright and clear speaking witnesses who would have laid bare the reactionary and deadly nature of U.S. imperialism, including its support for the racist South Africa Botha regime, as well as the colonial subjugation of the New Afrikan/Black nation with U.S. boundaries would be feared by the government. These two brothers would also have educated the jurors about how there is a need for underground activity and organization in order to fight for national liberation and revolutionary struggles as a whole.
We were fortunate to get Viola Plummer to speak to these issues. The government tired to limit her words as well, but because of their own stupidity and maliciousness in trying to discredit her, she was able to explain some of the New York 8+ case that she was part of. Viola spoke about the fascistic U.S. government repression, including the terroristic assaults and arrests by hundreds of paramilitary police of these Black activists and their families, denial of bail, severe conditions of captivity and finally a long trial in which the government was unsuccessful. She also explained the need for clandestine procedures – using various names, addresses and so on, to protect oneself in the struggle against imperialism and for national liberation.
So in spite of the joint court and government effort, we did raise most of the real issues about this case. Everyday, the jury and public heard about the support which the government and its corporate backers give to the racist regime in South Africa. We introduced evidence and spoke about how corporations like Union Carbide, IBM, GE directly profit from the exploitation and oppression of the African people in South Africa. How they are indispensable supporters of the Botha regime and how they therefore are legitimate targets for the anti-apartheid struggle, including for the armed underground part of it.
We also continuously exposed the government’s escalating war against the people of Central America. In Nicaragua with the funding and training of contra mercenaries; in El Salvador with not only hundreds of millions of dollars in war machines, but direct U.S. military involvement also; in Honduras huge military bases and support for the generals who run the country. Throughout the region the U.S government pumps in millions in arms and support for the most reactionary ruling elements. This includes support for death squads which exist in most of these small nations under the harsh neo-colonial heel of the amerikan empire. It’s clear that the U.S. government and especially its military forces are legitimate targets, whether they are scurrying around the borders of Nicaragua or here in N.Y.C.
Likewise, we introduced evidence to show that direct complicity and blood money that corporations like Motorola and GE are steeped in by their production of the weapons used against the people of Central America. They also therefore declared themselves to be legitimate targets for those supporting the national liberation wars in Central America.
In addition, we continuously sought to expose the attacks against the oppressed nation within the USA, including the long colonial bondage of Puerto Rico. We repeatedly tried to speak of the Philadelphia police attack on MOVE, including the bombing of their home, the murder of the children and adults inside and the resulting firestorm in the Black community there. We brought out the cold blooded racist murder of the elderly Eleanor Bumpers by the N.Y.C. police and the beating death of Michael Stewart by more of these same murderers.
Using mostly the evidence the government introduced, since the judge did not allow us to put in much of what we wanted, we tried to explain the need for underground groups and activity. We spoke of how it is necessary to not always let the government know where you lived. How alternate i.d.’s could be used to register cars, rent homes, even send children to school with. We also spoke of the need to acquire supplies and skills, including weapons and other martial training since the struggle to defeat imperialism has to be a multi-levelled one, including a guerrilla front.
From our arraignment on, we said this was a political trial and everyday the politics were brought in. We fought the government’s attempts to criminalize us and revolutionary resistance in general. We made a case for the need for a guerrilla level of struggle within the larger revolutionary movement. We explained the need for concrete support for national liberation worldwide, as an integral part of revolutionary work here in the U.S.
We tried to speak clearly about why white, especially working class people would and should take up strong, active and direct support for national independence struggles, especially those that were most directly fighting U.S. domination. How this was our contribution to proletarian internationalism and how it was a natural part of our struggle for socialist revolution.
Turning to myself as an example of how a North American working class person can and should logically recognize his class interests, take up the freedom struggle and unfortunately but proudly turn up in this trial of the United Freedom Front military actions against U.S. imperialism.
I am 38 years old, married to my comrade-wife Barbara Curzi-Laaman, with whom I share three beautiful children – two strong, caring and creative daughters 12 and 11 and a bright, intense and loving son, 4. These were free children who lived underground with us.
Being involved in the revolutionary movement more than half my life and especially learning some of the lessons from other struggles, particularly the Vietnamese peoples’ long fight for independence, it is apparent that the defeat of U.S. imperialism will be a protracted struggle also. This means that we have to develop a method, lifestyle, even culture of resistance that goes on from year to year. In my case, I decided to work clandestinely, but raise a family in the process. While this has risks and involves planning and work, it certainly is possible. Some of my comrades were underground for at least a decade with the government intensely searching for them yet ways were found to raise children while continuing to do revolutionary work. Although the government used our children to try to locate us – things like sending posters of our babies to schools, daycare and medical centres, putting them on TV and in magazines – they were not successful in this method. That is, our captures were not as a result of our children being traced.
My son was too young to realize he was living clandestinely but my daughters did know that their names were different at birth and that there was a reason we couldn’t visit grandma and grandpa. They knew that their parents were revolutionaries and the government was trying to find us because of our political work. But this did not take away fro their lives, their positive accomplishments at school, many friends in the neighbourhood, pajama parties, Saturday morning cartoons and trips to the zoo. In fact, while they had all this and led normal balanced lives, they also knew about apartheid, about the wars in Central America, that there is injustice in this country. It gave them a certain understanding and identity with children in El Salvador, or South Africa and this made them more balanced, even if less naive or innocent.
When we were captured, the government did make them suffer. They were taken into custody at gunpoint with their hands up and interrogated and held in youth detention centre for six weeks. This was done to try and gain information from them, to pressure Barbara and me and to disrupt our own legal efforts, for of course we were totally consumed with gaining their release for those six weeks.
The children are now with an extended family, but spit up and the girls are back in school and doing well. Of course we all miss each other terribly and the children do have a deep loss without both of us. While this is heart-wrenching for both me and Barbara, it does not shock me, for this is the same amerikan empire that supports the daily savage brutality against even small school children in South Africa, that supplies the bombs that rain on the homes of Salvadoran farmers, that just recently murdered the 15-month-old daughter of Libyan leader Moammar el-Qaddafi with a 2000 pound bomb, had no qualms about tearing apart our family. But it is just for all these reasons that I arrived at and remain committed to work for the end of this madness called U.S. imperialism.
I was an Estonian and immigrated to this country with my family when I was a small child. We lived in Roxbury, the Black community in Boston. My father was an auto mechanic and my mother worked in factories until by younger brothers and sisters began joining my older sister and me.
As so-called DP’s – displaced persons – living in a very poor part of a Black neighbourhood I learned first-hand about ethnic and class discrimination. While the USA is saturated with white supremacy and it affects everyone, I feel fortunate in having spent 6 or 7 years in a Black community and thus was not overwhelmed by the blind racism that cripples many white people. Later we moved to a blue collar, largely Italian section of Buffalo where I lived an average life – hanging out of the corner and in alleys – more concerned about girlfriends and street life than too much else. It was in Buffalo that I saw the racist attitudes of white people more glaringly and this was somewhat shocking. It struck me that for all the half-backed white supremacist concepts parroted by some kids on my block, our clothes, lunches, homes and so on were pretty similar to the Black kids in school. Probably most were marginally better, but poverty and parents out of work were familiar to us all. In those days of the late 50s and early 60s though, this was something I just noticed and left at that.
Although school was always easy, it was boring and seemed very irrelevant for my life. At an early age, it was common understanding that you would try to get a job at the Chevy plant or steel mill when they weren’t laying off and in the slow periods get by washing cars or dishes. If you were more adventurous you could survive off the streets, but of course it was understood that you’d wind up in prison sooner or later. Most tried to do a little of both. I quit school at 16, got a job and wasn’t above making extra money if possible.
Working from car lots to the steel mill, I saw both the great weaknesses and strength of working people – the racism of whites and the power of the unity of workers. While working at Bethlehem Steel, which still had a residue of militant working class understanding and input from left wing groups, our local which had a younger more third world leadership went on a wildcat strike. Despite cops, old white union hacks from the international and the company, were were half-way successful in our battle, but more importantly the need to cast aside racism and develop militant solidarity was very educational to me.
An underlying reason the company probably settled was so it could get back to production, because this was 1965 and the U.S. invasion of Vietnam was in its sharp upswing. This was about the time I remember the first neighbourhood kid coming home in a body bag and of course the draft was scooping up young men left and right. This led me to start thinking, but my main concern was till mostly my car, parties, hanging on the corners and in bars. In early 1966 I was arrested and convicted for assault and sentenced to a 5-year youth act.
The next 20 moths was not only a real eye opener, but a time for a lot of reflection and education for me. Fighting to survive the naked brutality of N.Y.’s states prison system I finished school, took up reading factual and progressive books and had the good fortune of meeting a couple of clear sighted Black prisoners who patiently shared their understanding of the true economic and social nature of Amerika with me. This coupled with my own life experience started an understanding falling together in my mind.
As a white working class male you had the opportunity to get a second-rate schooling, including mis-education in at least history, economics and social studies and which by and large taught you to obey instructions and accept life. From there you either hit the lower end of the working world or were pushed into the military, in which case you had the opportunity to risk your life while killing third world people far away in their own countries who were fighting for their freedom. If you didn’t choose either of these options, then most likely you’d end up in prison, where if you survived you’d get your secondary education – get kicked into line to accept a life of wage labour, of working yourself into an early grave while making some boss or corporation rich. Or you could learn to break laws better, hustle and steal, but accept the fact that you’d spend most of your life in and out of prison.
As an added incentive, safety valve or perhaps just a further dehumanization, as a man you could oppress and vent your frustrations against your woman – wife and women generally. And of course as a white man you’d probably get a little better job a little sooner and keep it a little longer than a Black or other third world person would, all the while you would be encouraged to hate and fear people of colour.
At 18 and 19, incarcerated in N.Y. state prison, I had achieved this level of understanding, although I it was very unclear what the solution could be for me or poor and working people in general. I knew there were socialist countries and I had the proud heritage of having my grandfather, who unfortunately died before I was born, be involved in the independence struggle of Estonia against the czarist Russian empire, as a member of the Bolshevik Party, but I really did not understand socialism. My own parents having survived the ravages and dislocations of World War II, were not socialist nor saw it as any kind of solution.
After my release I spent the next three years at Cornell and the University of New Hampshire. I became active in anti-draft counselling and anti-war work. I joined SDS and later helped found new chapters. While I learned some things in classes, my real education came through a few close friends who were students from Ireland and Palestine and my friendship and association with Black revolutionaries and work with the Black Power movement, especially the Panthers. Anti-imperialism and the direct support of national liberation struggles were a major focus of my activity and in turn led me to develop a clearer understanding. I came to understand that marxism was the clear tool by which to not only comprehend the problems, but develop solutions for them as well.
In 1970, I left school, returned to Buffalo and became involved in community, youth and labour organizing and struggles. Already by this time, it had become necessary for me to utilize some clandestine procedures to do effective work. Nonetheless, being on parole from my Youth Act sentence, I had my parole violated in late 1970 for doing anti-racist youth organizing and was sent to Attica. While there, I had the privilege of working with some righteous revolutionaries.
My sentence expired a few months before the historic Attica uprisings and I was released, but soon I was mourning the murders of some of my close comrades in that rebellion. I returned to full-time political work, but with the government already keeping close watch on my activities, I went underground.
In 1972 I was captured in New Hampshire for bombing the police headquarters in Manchester and the Nixon state re-election headquarters. I spent the next almost seven years in captivity in N.H. state and various federal kamps. Understanding that any successful struggle had to be multi-levelled, I filed lawsuits that were sometimes successful, was an editor for NEPA news – a prison paper, organized prison unions, engaged in political education, survival and reform work. I had the great fortune to meet and work with some of the most dedicated freedom fighters from the Black Liberation Army, Republic of New Afrika, Puerto Rico independence struggle as well as other white revolutionaries.
Having won some appeals, the government released me in late 1978. I moved to the Boston area and became involved in anti-klan, anti-apartheid and community security work. Through this activity I met, worked with and happily fell in love with my soon-to-be comrade wife and her too little wonderful daughters. We became a family and a while later our son was born.
I helped organize the Amandla Southern Africa national liberation support concert featuring the honourable Robert Nesta Marley and the Wailers in 1979. We were able to send money to the freedom fighters in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia and educate people here as well. In addition I helped to train a multi-national martial arts security force, which became Amandla People’s Security after the concert. We offered training and provided security and advice for everything from rallies and cultural events to helping people protect their homes from racist attacks. This and other anti-klan work led us to receive death threats from both the klan and their local allies, the South Boston Marshals, as well as increasing surveillance from the police. To avoid a very clear and present danger, especially since we had three children, including a newborn baby, we lived increasingly clandestinely.By late 81 and early 82, my whole family and I were living totally underground.
Being in captivity again, having my comrade wife in captivity as well, being separated from and seeing my children drifting and alone is obviously a painful reality. But the best I can do for my children, for all our children and for those yet unborn, is to continue to struggle by all means and on every level against the horror of the U.S. empire: this modern prison house of nations – this supporter of the most horrendous dictatorships from Chile to South Africa to South Korea, to name just a few – this capitalist exploiter where working people are only valued as producers of profit or consumers of the overpriced and often unnecessary junk goods – this system that tears people’s lives and spirits, drives our children to drugs, suicide or homicide while more and more of our older people wander homelessly on the streets or cower in fear in tiny apartment – this system that is polluting itself and all of us to disease and death and that daily hovers on the brink of launching the next world-nuclear war, while it actually brings war and invasion to one small nation after another.
This sentence I’m about means nothing. Our struggle continues because it has to. My voice and actions we be limited by their walls and bars, but not silenced or stopped and already other hands have reached forward to pick up the arms and fill the gap that I left in the armed clandestine movement.
As Bob Marley sang:
“what life has taught me
I would like to share with
those who want to learn
that until the basic human rights
are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race
Everywhere there will be war
Until the philosophy
that holds one race superior
and another inferior
is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned
Until there is no longer first class
and second class citizens
in any one nation
And until the basic human rights
are equally guaranteed to all…
there will be war
And until the ignoble and illegal
regimes that hold our brothers in South Africa
are totally destroyed
there will be war
War in the east – war in the west – war up north – war down south.”
The struggle for freedom continues – AMANDLA NGAWETU!
Greetings, Dear Sisters and Brothers.
I want to begin by telling you all that I deeply appreciate your being here and for your attendance and support during this trial. I would also like to thank all those that came before but couldn’t be here today, and last, but certainly not least, to those behind the walls who have given us their support and have communicated their solidarity with us – Venceremos! We Will Win!
I had written a whole personal history of myself and, as I view it, how the development of this cruel system of capitalism/imperialism progressed from a rotten beginning, through the robbery and genocide of the native peoples, through the hundreds of years of slavery, through the last 150 years of imperialist aggression. It was much too long and still I hadn’t but scratched the surface of their crimes committed in the name of so-called freedom and democracy. So a week ago I tore it up. You people don’t need to hear a history lesson from me on the development of this country, to the state it is in now, nor is a personal history of myself really relevant for discussion here. What is important is that the issues of this trial far outweigh any individual or collective actions on our part.
We were charged, as criminal offenses, with conspiracy to bomb, the bombing of military buildings and of bombing blood sucking multi-national corporate offices. These actions, done without loss of life or serious injury to anyone, were touted as constituting acts of terrorism. We were and are labelled as terrorists. We are treated, both in our handling by the marshals and various other law agencies and in our imprisonment as top security political prisoners. Officially the U.S. government won’t admit to having political prisoners or prisoners of war, but in reality there are over 200 hundred of us. As if denying the fact will make it so. Their reasons for our torture, being placed in solitary confinement, and the limiting of our visits and communications with outside people are all in the name of security. That’s their magic word – security. That allows them to break even their own rules in their attempts to suppress us. Whether Native Americans, New Afrikans, Puerto Rican, Mexican or North American, political prisoners or prisoners of war, we all share one thing in common – and that is our loathing for their inhuman system of greed and aggression. We are alike in that we hold love in our hearts for the poor and labouring peoples – the non-owning, the non-rich.
Che Guevera said, in a most profound and correct way, that true revolutionaries are guided by great feelings of love. Yes, we also hate but our hate is not the guiding force in our lives, love is. If we were the hate-filled being the government tries to say we are, then we would eventually become as corrupted as those we oppose. Let us make no mistake about it. This corrupt system is run on hate and aggression. How else could they perpetuate the evil crimes that they do, day in, day out on the world community. How else could they profit on other people’s suffering and death caused by their superexploitation? Only by force of arms or the threat of it, can they continue their criminal domination – and only by force of arms can that domination be ended. History has shown that you cannot vote them or their lackeys out of power. Chile, as a recent example, has shown us that and it was a costly lesson – 10s of thousands killed out of hand and the killing still goes on there today. Power concedes nothing except to another power.
Being revolutionaries, we must be very careful that the crimes they commit, in their pursuit of wealth and power over the lives and death of the world’s people doesn’t embitter us. We must always strive to keep that love in our hearts even while we use violence to defeat them. That’s what constitutes the basic difference between us and them. We love humanity for its own sake. We don’t care for riches or personal power at other people’s expense. We aren’t greedy. Our aggressive fight against this system was born out of necessity and survival, not out of any personal gain. It’s what makes those of us that are captured, political prisoners and prisoners of war. We have applied our revolutionary concepts combined with our love of the people and have resolutely dedicated our lives to that fight.
While it would be heartening to have the masses in this country recognize and support armed struggle – to be fed up enough with the state of the world and the role this government has in it. That has not been a prerequisite for us. We have found it impossible to stand idly by any longer while the rich owning class of this country, with the vast military might they have at their disposal, continue its oppression of nations inside and outside its borders. Over the years people have told me that it’s not the right time for us to embark on armed struggle. I say that it will never be the right time for many of them. They are too comfortable and care too much about themselves and not enough about other people. Revolution doesn’t just happen, it must be vigorously made to happen. One doesn’t acquire revolutionary experience by sitting around and letting others do it for them – and others are doing it. Many others. Though they may not all live within these borders, they are fighting the same monster we live in. The same monster who, in our names, invades other countries or pays to have them invaded so as to exploit their resources for our consumption. Where do you think most of the raw materials for all our cars, TVs, jewelry and clothes – not to mention military needs – comes from? As well as the exploited labour that produces it – certainly not here. How else does a country which has roughly 7% of the world’s population have almost 50% of its wealth? No wonder the peoples of the world hate and fear us.
Why is it that we just stood by and let Vietnam be invaded, or while the people’s forces of the Dominican Republic were being crushed, and while Puerto Rico is being stripped of its natural resources and people and is being turned into a huge military/industrial base for the United States, while they kill off our courageous leaders such as Malcolm X and George Jackson, while they kill hundreds of Native Americans in reprisal for the Wounded Knee takeover, and while they continue to rob and kill so as to hold onto their power and to further their quest for wealth at the expense of freedom-loving peoples’ lives? Why do we let them continue by our inactivity. Not until enough of us get angry enough, until enough of us organize openly and clandestinely, until enough of us say NO MORE and back it up with our hearts and bodies will this abomination end.
Some people say about us that while we may have meant well, what good did it do us now that we are in jail for a very long time? Well, I’ll tell you what good it did. We demonstrated that small determined clandestine organizations could operate for years and tie up thousands of police personnel in their search for us. They had to spend millions of dollars to investigate and advertise, telling people about us. And even once captured they’ve had to spend millions more to guard us and bring us to trial. Also most importantly, that there were people in this country who were willing to put their lives on the line trying to put a stop to their madness. They think that by capturing us and a few handfuls of other guerrillas means that they have kept armed struggle from raising its voice to the people. How very wrong they are. Resistance is not so easily suppressed.
Speaking just for the Ohio 7, I can say that we are all parents who love our children dearly and we don’t want them to have to live in a world where profit takes precedence over other people’s lives. We felt it was of major importance to fight for a better world. That we would be failing our children and our children’s children if we didn’t strive to our utmost to bring about the downfall of this decadent system. We owe it to all oppressed people’s affected by the greed and callousness for human life that U.S. imperialism imposes upon them, to end it.
In answer to another question put to us sometimes, that with so much heat on us, why didn’t we leave the country? We could have, but instead we decided to stay and fight. The truth of the matter is, especially in the belly of the beast, that if you are not part of the solution then you most assuredly are part of the problem. The clique of white men who are the real controllers of this country’s policies are a pack of murdering thieves and we are only a little less to blame if we know and understand what is going on and yet do nothing to stop them.
It is time, past time, for the common people of this country to fight these people and their henchmen. Every day that goes by scores of people are dying of starvation, are ripped off for their labour, are deprived of their country’s natural resources and are murdered for the benefit of the super-rich. They are clever, they own the media, they infest and control the government, they enact laws to protect their positions.; They make it illegal to openly fight them and we just let them get away with it. The slave-owning class of 120-some odd years ago had nothing on these people. While the former thought to keep the whole Black race in this country enslaved, these latter-day criminals think to enslave a major portion of the world. But they can only do it for as long as we let them.
Though we are being sentenced this week to long prison terms, the fight for us has not ended. Quite the contrary, we will continue the struggle but only now on a another front. We will continue to show through our example that the need for revolution is just as great whether or not we are out here to make it.
As for me, I feel that if even just one person has learned from my efforts while underground and my stance during this trial, even if just one person picks up where I leave off, for now, to fight for the overthrow of this government by any means necessary then my endeavours have not been in futile, then my work will not have been in vain.
In conclusion I would like to send my love and solidarity to all political prisoners and prisoners of war here and abroad and to all revolutionaries out there waging righteous war against our common enemy – U.S. imperialism. And lastly, a quote from Fred Hampton: “You can jail a revolutionary but you cannot jail the revolution.”
To the Judge:
I understand you put on a show of becoming indignant when my wife and comrade,
Carol Manning, spoke of the crimes your government committed against our children. A show which illuded your hypocrisy, when the truth is you don’t hesitate to attack children to further your oppression, whether it’s as you did to ours or to shoot them down one by one in the streets or to bomb them as in Philadelphia or Libya or to deny them the dignity of self-determination and daily bread, as in Palestine, Azania, El Salvador or the South Bronx.
What you fail to understand is that your attacks on the children fuel the fires of Revolution that are going to consume you – for the children are why we have chosen to fight. They are our future and it is their children who will dance on the graves of fascists like you!
You are the government. You are the oppressor. You and these pig-eyed functionaries over there and your underlies spread throughout the building and throughout our communities and around the world – wherever it is, the rule of the dollar and not the will of the People reigns.
To the people:
Yesterday was MAYDAY, a day when workers around the world celebrate their labour – themselves. A day when children welcome the spring, a time of new life, new beginning.
The government calls May 1st Law Day, and they want us to celebrate the law that shot and killed Michael Harris in Newark last week and Clifford Glover 14 years ago tomorrow (May 3rd), and the 100s since then in cities across the country. Celebrate the law that is at every strike and demonstration, dressed and armed to maim and kill. The law that has armoured vehicles, the latest in combat helicopters, all the latest weaponry to contain and intimidate those very people who celebrate MAYDAY. A day which was born in this country 100 years ago. A day which comes from the muscle, blood, sweat and tears of our People, fighting against the injustice and brutality that we fight today.
This government and its media would have us believe that a worker’s holiday is something sinister and subversive that was imported from some other place. Their media that lies and tells us their perverted version of what freedom is. Their media that carries their public announcements of falsehood into our homes, our lives. Their media that pecks away at our lives, with its endless attacks on our senses as it sells us merchandise that in getting depletes the world’s natural resources. Their media that tells us it’s o.k. for us to do whatever is necessary to any Peoples of any nation, to get at those resources, because somehow we are superior and have a right to maintain this corrupt system.
It is our duty to expose this bullshit, to tear down this system – to replace it with a system based on real equality and real love. We must build a Revolutionary Resistance Movement – We must build Socialist Revolution.
This is the struggle to which I am committed and as I stand here today, about to be sentenced by this functionary of the ruling class, I stand with the Spirit of Zayd Malik Shakur, who on this day in 1973 fell in a fire-fight with the enemy. And I stand with the Spirit of Sundiata Acoli, who was captured on that same day and has proudly and stoically withstood the worst of these fascist prison kamps for these many years, a shining example of all Freedom Fighters. And I stand with the spirit of Assata Shakur, who was wounded and captured on that day but who is now in the whirlwind.
I would like to read these words of hers at this time, as a way of thanking her and her comrades for their courage and commitment and to reaffirm my own commitment:
I believe in living.
I believe in the spectrum
of Beta days and Gamma people.
I believe in sunshine.
In windmills and waterfalls,
tricycles and rocking chairs.
and I believe that seeds grow into sprouts,
and sprouts grow into trees.
I believe in the magic of the hands.
And the wisdom of the eyes.
I believe in rain and tears.
and in the blood of infinity.
I believe in life
and I have seen the death parade
march through the torso of the Earth
sculpting mud bodies in its path.
I have seen the destruction of the daylight
and seen bloodthirsty maggots
prayed to and saluted.
I have seen the kind become the blind
and the blind become the bind
in one easy lesson.
I have walked on cut glass.
I have eaten crow and blander bread
and breathed the stench of indifference.
I have been locked by the lawless.
Handcuffed by the haters.
Gagged by the greedy,
And, if I know anything at all
it’s that a wall is just a wall
and nothing more at all.
It can be broken down.
I believe in living.
I believe in birth.
I believe in the sweat of love
and the fire of truth.
I thank you all for being here today. My love to you and to those who supported us in this brief encounter with the enemy. I send my love to Basheer Hameed and Abdul Majid, who are engaged in a similar encounter over in Queens – and to all Freedom Fighters here in the belly of the beast and on the many fronts around the world!
ONE STRUGGLE – ONE VICTORY – ONE LOVE: THE PEOPLE
Good afternoon on this the 11th Anniversary of the Liberation of Vietnam.
It is important for me to say something to you to explain how it is I got here today facing a possible 25 year prison sentence, when I am guilty of no crimes.
Just over 13 months ago, my comrades and I were arraigned in this courtroom and when we tried to speak we were jumped, stun gunned and dragged out of here with some of us being further beaten, later. This experience re-emphasized to me how words – true words – are seen as dangerous weapons to this government. Possession and distribution of Truth carries harsh penalties – of prison, beatings and sometimes even death.
When I was a child, I held the american flag high in the school yard for all my classmates to salute but as I discovered the truth about being patriotic in america, my heart was torn. I found to love my so-called “fatherland” I had to disrespect Mother-Earth and many of her People.
I learned of how colonialist settlers slaughtered as many Native Americans as they could and forced the few remaining on what they thought to be the most barren land, building their homesteads with the bones of these massacred Indians as their foundation.
I found out that human beings were imported as a commodity when African Peoples, stolen from their homeland, were made to till this land for others and water it with their blood and sweat and tears.
With this history of white supremacy, it is small wonder that if one supports self-determination for the Black nation of New Afrikans in this country and the Sovereignty of Native Americans, one is labelled an enemy of the state.
This government not only continues to suppress self-determination and exploit Third World People and People of Colour within its own borders, but it reaches to control other Peoples and their land for its own profit and power.
I celebrate the Victory of the Nicaraguan People over the torturer Somoza and want to see and end of Somocistas and U.S. mercenaries attacking our Sandinista Sisters and Brothers as they work at building a better life. I support the necessary battle by our Azanian Sisters and Brothers to crush U.S. sponsored apartheid. That is why I am hated by this government.
I deeply mourn the deaths and injuries of Libyan babies and their People caused by U.S. bombs and I recognize that those who kill and injure innocent People as terrorists – true terrorist who kill to intimidate and coerce a people away from their aim toward building a more balanced life for themselves. To confuse the People and protect themselves, these conscienceless murdering U.S. officials call those of us who oppose them “terrorists” and say we are a threat to society.
Its the Truth that threatens those of so-called “high society” who runs this government, who own its corporation that make their tools of destruction while obscenely destroying our natural resources in the process. They also control the media that lies and covers up the Truth – lest it become known.
There was sone Truth they couldn’t hide. Racism smacked me in the face when, even as a small child, I realized the Golden Rule that I was taught to honour – to treat others as you would want them to treat you – had colour lines. The issue is a Life and Death one as Black youth continue to be murdered by police – that is, Black youth, elderly Black women, middle-aged Black men are shot and beaten by the front line of the state’s apparatus on a regular basis – with Michael Harris being just one of the most recent victims of state-run racist terror.
It wasn’t just my human empathy or even my becoming a target of white supremacist groups for helping to block their attacks on my Black neighbours that brought me to the point of devoting my life to the battle for justice.
The rude awakening I received through my own experience as a worker, a woman, a mother and a person who cares for the Earth called on me to act. As a white working class person, my oppression was not as harsh and blatant as my non-white neighbours, but I saw that our enemies were the same.
My grandmother, who will be 87 years old tomorrow on May Day, International Day of Workers, still bears the scars on her hands that she got while making U.S. Navy jackets during World War II when she and other immigrant women along with her Black and Jewish co-workers had to break the thick blue thread with their bare hands, giving them blood poisoning, because their boss was too cheap to supply them with scissors and their wages too meagre to buy their own.
As a young teen, I worked in a garment factory with my mother. The monotony and impossibility to improve either wages or conditions was most clear when my mother was laid off for her interest in the union, that the boss chased out. Escaping that dead end and never having gotten hit by the drug plague that catches so many teens, I began my own family with my first child when I was 16.
Despite extensive self-educating around health care issues while I was pregnant and nurturing my young babies, I found myself and my children were victims of experimentation and exploited by a health care system based on profit, not healing.
For years I found Third World, poor and working People used and disregarded – like when my Mother-In-Law was recently turned away from a hospital after a stroke because they didn’t like the kind of insurance she had.
As if putting profit before People is not shameful; enough, some American doctors, under the direction of U.S. government agencies, consciously took part in a strategic sterilization program against Puerto Rican women. Their goal: the success of the 2020 Plan, a genocidal plan to destructively use the precious island of Puerto Rico for its natural resources and strategic military location by the war-minded U.S. government. But forced sterilization against 3rd World women whether in Puerto Rico or America is just part of the genocide being waged by the U.S. government.
The effect of so-called “legal” as well as “illegal” street drugs goes hand in hand with government controlled alcohol to lull the masses of People into impotent passivity. Most blatant examples of this are how beer halls were used in townships in South Africa and of how heroin finds its way most directly into the bodies of our 3rd World youth in poor neighbourhoods.
While I was learning of health care issues in this country, I was lucky enough to find alternative or so-called “radical” programs that focus on preventive health care. Of course, I found good nutrition essential to keeping my babies and myself healthy. The more I learned about the handling of our food sources, the way they are chemically treated and polluted, the more panicked I became. This is also done for higher profits without regard to health. And it’s government sanctioned. Added to the direct poisons put in and on our food we have to contend with the pollution that business and corporations pour daily into our water, air and land, as they produce everything from insoluble plastics to nuclear missiles. The situation is so grave that millions are dying of cancer.
I found with just a little investigation, in fact, just by looking into those various situations a little bit, anyone can find out who is responsible for these atrocities. I discovered it is the same capitalist egotists who promote racist oppression as it is who run the factories without a care for the workers whether they’re Black, white or Hispanic. It’s the same violent imperialists make tools of destruction for their criminal wars as it is who dump their waste without a concern for what tomorrow will bring to our earth – our lives. Instead they take the profits from our sweat and use them to make us shed more blood and tears from the pain and suffering their actions bring about.
I asked myself, as I ask you what time is it when more energy, money and effort goes into building more prisons, more bombs and more nukes than into better and more schools, clinics and housing for the masses of people. This while millions have no homes to live in – millions more can’t read and illness is at a most rampant pace.
I suggest to you,as I have to myself, that it’s time that concerned, responsible human beings look into the cause of these problems and once we know the answers, we’ll know it’s time to end this madness.
It was with this answer in mind that I knew, when faced with the charges in this case, what i had to do. More importantly than defending myself, when I am guilty of no crimes, it was time to put forward the issues that the Revolutionary Resistance Movement addresses including those raised by the United Freedom Front – the U.F.F. It is one of the many groups in the armed clandestine movement – a movement not of terrorists, but of People who value human life most highly and take all possible precautions to prevent injury in their actions against imperialist crime.
The apartheid regime in South Africa and the slaying of innocent civilians in Central America as well as the denial of self-determination for the Black nation, the American Indian Nations and to the Mexican-Chicano People in the borders of this country are wars against Humanity. They are only a part of the war being carried out in the name of the American People by a government that claims to represent us.
People are rising up on all kinds of levels, in this country and around the world, to say no more to Genocide, no more to profit before People, no more to the thinking that some should run the lives of millions of others while trying to steal their basic human rights.
I support all levels of Resistance that keep as their goal principled peace and True justice for all People.
I am inspired by the thousands who march and protest against unjust wars. I also understand what a Comrade from the Canadian end of the North American Resistance Movement said:
“Militant actions are useful because they in fact remind us that, in fact, we are involved in political struggle. There is little room for compromise or constructive dialogue with those who are despoiling the world and committing large scale genocide in their search for profit.”
It’s always true that those who rebel the hardest are hardest hit by those they are rebelling against. The imperialist government of America today wages all kinds of warfare against those opposed to its nature – from their blatant murder of the MOVE people in Philadelphia to the prosecution of the Sanctuary People in Tucson.
Again and again they try to justify their attacks with false words – double-speak lies.
Since information – the true information – arms the People, government agents misrepresent reality and paint false pictures – to hide the crimes they commit. But we see through their lies!
People who know the truth of these injustices and choose to remain silent about them for fear of retribution by those doing the harm don’t deserve justice.
As the Sisters of Sweet Honey in the Rock sing: “We who believe in Freedom cannot rest until it comes.”
It’s up to us to bring it about – so I speak today in the name of Freedom.
Despite the efforts by these people who work for this corrupt system to steal many years from our lives or to steal life itself my Comrades and I have an unending hope that Humanity will unite on the side of what’s right – and one day there will be peace – but only after we fight for justice, work for balance.
I am also speaking today for the same reason I participated in this trial – to raise the issues that are burning for a just resolution and because I believe what Che Guevera said is true:
“The example – the good example, like the bad example – is contagious. We have to spread our good example more: to work on the conscience of the People – to strike the conscience of the People and demonstrate that which we are all capable of.
I would like to sum up by sharing some personal reflections with you. As you may know, I have 3 children: Lucia who is 12, Nina who just turned 11 and our baby, Ricky, who is 4 years old, who I share with my Husband-Comrade-Friend Jaan Karl Laaman. This last year and a half since our arrest has been the most painful for us all. I won’t take a lot of time to describe in detail the abuses and torture the Children were put through from the day of our arrest when they were also taken into custody, after being made to walk with their hands raised as dozens of guns were pointed at them and after interrogation were kept for six weeks in a horrible institution. You can try to imagine what it might feel like – being torn from your mother – which for Ricky was after never spending a night away from me – or not only to have your mother and father taken from you at the same time but to be torn from you siblings who you had wrestled with daily like 3 little kittens – bubbling with the joy of love and security as long as you could remember.
Our children are still divided into 2 separate homes. We see very little of them because of the wall of terror put around us as political prisoners. So they are out there in limbo, waiting and wondering and knowing that their Mama and Papa are being kept from them because they work for a better world for them.
Whatever sentence Judge Glasser gives to me today will be a sentence for Barbara Curzi-Laaman the Mother – because as a conscious woman and committed Revolutionary I will continue whether Free or behind the walls, with the work of learning and sharing as much information as I can about the World situation.
Any time more than the 18 months I’ve had taken from me already will only be keeping me from my responsibilities of caring for my children’s daily needs.
People who try not to understand ask me how I can be involved in any Movement that risks separation from my children. I’d like to answer that with a recollection of an incident that happened shortly before I went underground. I was spending the evening with a dear old friend. We had started out as girlfriends in high school but now we were two women together talking and analyzing life and the problems of the World. After a while she said “Oh, what’s the use of fighting?” I asked here “But what about tomorrow?” “Oh come on – forget it – they’ll just do what they want. We can’t do anything about it! Just live for today.” As she said these words, I stood there with my 3 month old infant in my arms. I thought to myself, he certainly wouldn’t appreciate her attitude and no, neither did I. I understand that it’s time for us to Resist those who would steal our future and fight to create a safe and Just Life for ALL OUR CHILDREN – FOR ALL HUMANITY.
We will win!
I am here today being sentenced because I stand on the side of oppressed peoples: because I do not support this government that continually violates the human rights of the people worldwide. A government that is know all over the world as criminals. I am not here because they say I am a terrorist – I am here because I speak of who the real terrorists are. The MOVE bombing in Philadelphia – the bombing of the Libyan people just two weeks ago, killing many men, women and children. These are acts of terrorism.
I am the mother of three small children who themselves have been the victims of this system’s inhumane treatment. Having been kidnapped by the FBI and state police and held for two months incommunicado. When they were released, I saw the pain and suffering they had gone through, not just from losing their parents, but from being held hostages. I heard their voices tell me how scared and lonely they were for those two months. How my oldest son did not want to talk about the interrogation which he was put through. Because as he said, in his very own words, “It was terrible Mama. I was very scared and just wanted to leave.”
This was a vicious crime committed against my children. These things will continue to happen to the children and to the countless numbers of men and women if the people do not speak up with rage and demand an end to this unjust system.
I would like to read a few words from a letter a Nicaraguan woman wrote to her small daughter just before being killed: “I’d like to be able to walk with you, holding hands, walk through the streets and see everyone smiling. The laughter of the children, the parks and rivers. We ourselves smile with joy as we watch our people grow like an happy child and watch them become new human beings, conscious of their responsibility towards people everywhere…A mother isn’t just someone who gives birth and cares for her child. A mother feels the pain of all children , the pain of all peoples, as if they had been born of her womb.
I thank you all. I love you all.
I want to thank all my comrades for that are here today. I want to thank you for
demonstrating your support and I hope that you continue to support all the POWs and political prisoners that are on trial now and will be continuing to come to trial in the next two years. If you support national liberation, you support the POWs that are in captivity and on trial.
I have spoken at great length during the course of this trial. I have spoken very clearly about what the issues are.
It is now the time for my comrades to be heard. Jaan was here yesterday and spoke and Richard will be here this afternoon. The others will follow.
They will all speak about the same thing, the need to build a revolutionary resistance movement.
I came here today with just a brief statement and as I make this statement, I am going to face my accusers, because my statement is directed to the United States government, and its functionaries and enforcers, as you can see them all around me – primarily the U.S. attorneys [Charles Rose and John Gallagher] and Judge [Glasser].
First, I want to express my outrage at the obscene sentence you gave my comrade yesterday of 53 years in the penitentiary. You have sentenced him to half a century in the penitentiary. A man who has committed virtually his entire adult life to fighting racism and imperialist war.
People like you must be terribly afraid of his principles, of his revolutionary ideals and his ability as a fighter, because he’s disarmed. He has no weapon now, other than those principles and the ability to fight and carry on.
And while what you have dome is to me obscene and disgusting, that you would do that to a man’s life, a revolutionary’s life, it didn’t surprise me in the least. Not one bit.
As political prisoners and as revolutionaries, we don’t expect anything different than the kind of abuse we’ve been subjected to and will continue to be subjected to by people such as yourselves and all of the agents and shock troops that you have at your disposal and just as sure as what happened here on March 25th, I can tell you now that we’ll be beaten in the penitentiary as it’s happened before and we will be abused and we will be isolated.
The reason for this is because of our principles and what we represent.
We are not motivated by the profit motive so they can’t control us like other people. It’s what we represent here in our hearts, in the class background that we are from, and that we support national liberation both inside the borders of this country and in countries like South Africa that makes us a threat, apparently, to the powers-that-be of which you are a part.
To me, as I said in the opening, it is the height of moral hypocrisy for you to put that kind of sentence on my comrade, representing a government that has formed alliances with the racist government of South Africa, with the fascist government of Chile and supports the bombing campaign against the people of El Salvador.
But again, not surprising and not unexpected, because you are here to do the bidding and represent the ruling class. Those people that run those factories in that town where I worked, where my mother still works, those people that sent me to war, to fight their wars, those people who demand that so many penitentiaries be filled and to fill them with people of colour and poor people, that’s whose bidding you are here to do. And you do it well.
You defend the worst aspects of the system that has given you so much privilege, the worst aspects of it. Like the racist murders of Michael Stewart and Eleanor Bumpers, whose killers are now free to go out and kill Third World people again – the killers of Michael Stewart who were absolved of that murder during the course of this trial, a point that wasn’t lost on the jury, believe me, even though you two over there tried to prevent that name from coming up.
The three of you – Rose, Gallagher, Judge Glasser – you know, you are simply functionaries of a government and you wallow in its decadence.
You must get both a personal and political pleasure from being the enforcers and the functionaries for a system that is responsible for so much injustice, that is responsible for so much racism, that is responsible for so much exploitation and suffering.
But there is one thing I want to make clear today in the even that it wasn’t said during the course of the trial, and that is that you are not worth the dirt under the fingernails of an Azanian freedom fighter who today is fighting for the liberation of South Africa. You have chosen to ally yourselves with this government and what it’s doing there.
You can tell that to your grandchildren, while the grandchildren of the people that are carrying the liberation struggle on now in South Africa, their grandchildren will dance on the graves of the racist fascists who rule South Africa today – because they won’t be there tomorrow.
And neither will this stinking system, that’s why 53 years doesn’t intimidate me because I don’t think this system will be around for the next 53 years.
The arrogance of you own power cannot overshadow the righteous anger and the determined struggle of the people of El Salvador. Not the fascists who run the government there, who have their palms greased by this government, but the people who work and toil and struggle and suffer to they can have a freer life for their children.
And your voices, the three of you during the course of this trial, the government you represent, your voices are a stark and empty contrast when compared to the courageous example of New Afrikan Freedom Fighter Mtyari Sundiata, who sacrificed his life for the freedom of the New Afrikan nation.
The government said in its report that we are unrepentant and yesterday Mr. Rose said that we show no remorse.
You want me to get on my knees here today and be sorry because I support the struggle in South Africa? It won’t happen now it won’t happen next year and it won’t happen the year after that. It won’t happen before any Parole Board because I support the struggle now and I’ll support it until Black people control South Africa and Black people are free there and the land is free.
And that day will happen, and Botha, if he isn’t lynched, will be here in Miami somewhere.
To show remorse because the offices of the South African government were bombed and they lost some work? While every day during the course of this trial Black people were killed on the streets of South Africa?
A VOICE: That’s the truth.
LEVASSEUR: You want me to apologize for that? You want me to retract that I support that? The resistance, both in South Africa, in other countries and throughout the world and here, to drive those fascists from power?
You support it [indicating the judge and prosecutors]. You support that system. You tell your grandchildren you support apartheid. You tell them which side of the struggle you were on. You tell your grandchildren that you sent these revolutionaries, the Ohio 7 to the penitentiary for the rest of their lives because they support the struggle in South Africa. Because they support the struggle of the Black Nation here in the United States.
You tell them which side of the freedom struggle you were on. I fought on both sides. I went to Vietnam and now I’m fighting on the side that’s fighting for freedom.
I’ll never apologize because IBM got bombed. Not when they supply computers to the police department in South Africa, the computers that run the prison system there.
I support the actions of the United Freedom Front and I support the struggle in South Africa for people to be free.
And that’s what I tell my children. My children say they don’t understand why you people do what you do. They will some day. Because they understand how racism works. they understand that Malcolm X’s father was killed by the klan. They understand why the Puerto Rican struggle has produced heroic fighters like Lolita Lebron. They understand that. We had made bedtime stories of the freedom struggles in this world today for our children.
Yet they don’t understand that, because we fight against racism and injustice, why there is a government that wants us in prison for the rest of our lives.
My six year old daughter said, where is the government? I want to punch it in the nose. She doesn’t understand about you and you and you, but she will some day. She doesn’t understand how you can support something like that.
Mr. Rose asked you yesterday to send a message to the people of the world, to the governments of the world with your sentence, a message about “terrorism” and how this government will deal with revolutionary resistance within its own borders, its “home-grown terrorism”, as he likes to call it.
But the people of the world already know about terrorism and the United States because the United States government has been exporting terrorism since it first landed on these shores here.
A VOICE: Truth.
LEVASSEUR: You want the people to get a message from what you’re doing here? Bring the message to the children of South Africa who have been particularly singled out during the course of this trial for brutality and imprisonment without charge. And death from rubber bullets, from machine guns. They’ve been singled out during the course of this trial and they have called for the United States government to stop supporting the racist government of South Africa, for U.S. corporation to stop withdraw their support from South Africa as they die everyday, because they know the South African government will fall without the political and economic support of the United States.
You ask the children of South Africa about the United States and terrorism. They are not going to talk about the Ohio 7 trial. They are going to talk about the support that this government has given the fascists there.
You want to give the people of the world a message. you want to give Duarte a message. You talk to the Salvadoran people, they are to tell you who is supplying those bombs to the Air Force in El Salvador. They are going to tell you who is running the reconnaissance missions. You go talk to that seven year old child who drew that drawing I showed the jurors here. What happened to her family. She’ll tell you about the United States and terrorism.
And talk to the Nicaraguan people and ask them what the Contras supported and financed by the CIA and the United States government are doing. Ask them about the attacks carried out against coffee workers, teachers and medical workers. Ask them about the school that was burned down.
Give your message to those people and see if they are receptive to it. You’d better take your message to Miami. That’s the only people that are going to listen to it. That’s they only people that are going to accept it.
Talk to the people of Angola who are now being further attacked by South African government troops and Savimbi, a CIA stooge who Reagan embraces as a freedom fighter while he attacks from bases near the South African border killing indiscriminately.
Ask the people of Chile whose government, whose democratically elected government was overthrown by a CIA coup and a fascist was put into power and he’s been in power and he’s still in power. He’s supported by the United States government – it is clearly one of the fascist governments in the world, the government of Chile.
Ask the Chilean people, ask the survivors, family members of those who were herded into the soccer stadiums. See if they are receptive to your message about what the source of terrorism is in this world.
Ask them what they think of international law, if Nuremberg has any meaning anymore.
Go to the Occupied West Bank, talk to the Palestinian people there. Talk to the survivors of Shaba and Shatilla camps, who were murdered by American-supplied weapons.
Talk to their children and ask the people of the oppressed nations within the borders of this country – you as Native Americans what they think of the United States government and its love for freedom. You go to the reservations and talk to the Native Americans and ask them if they are threatened by us or if they are threatened by the United States government and its policies. Ask the people in Big Mountain, Arizona who are now going to be subjected to the largest forced removal of people in this country since the Japanese Americans were interned during World War II. More theft of native land to supply the mining companies.
But the people of Big Mountain are not going to move when the time comes because they have said they are going to resist and when they do, the government is going to send the United States Marshal’s Service in. If you want to see terrorism in practice like you did at Wounded Knee, take a vacation and go with these guys there [indicating Marshals in the courtroom] while they target practice on people of colour and enjoy it.
Ask the people of Puerto Rico where the U.S. government illegally under national law, colonizes the people of Puerto Rico. Go to the barrios in this city.
Ask the families of Michael Stewart and Eleanor Bumpers about terrorism. You’ve got to send a message to Margaret Thatcher? Why don’t you send a message to the family of Michael Stewart and Eleanor Bumpers? And tell them that you’re damned sorry you live in a fucking city that’s full of killer cops.
A VOICE: All right.
LEVASSEUR: Who are cut loose to go out there and kill again.
A VOICE: Right.
LEVASSEUR: And they single our Black and Hispanic people for their dirty work. Ask the people of families of those who were murdered in Attica, ask the people of those who are descended from slavery, who now live in ghettos occupied by killer cops.
You are appointed by Ronald Reagan, who sit there at the behest of Ronald Reagan, and you mean to tell me that you represent freedom and justice.
There was more than one position in this trial. One was the interests of the United States government and U.S. imperialism. The historic violator of human rights.
That’s the way most people on the world look at it. Not Thatcher, not Mitterand, not fascists Pinochet or Botha, your allies. That’s who you want to send a message to. Go kill more Black people in South Africa. Hit them harder. Keep that government in power. Keep those minerals flowing here.
This government embraces racism. You speak of the sanctity of the law and you say you decry violence. I don’t believe you . There isn’t anybody in this courtroom that believes you. Not even Rose. Because he knows you are here to perform a task. He doesn’t believe it himself. Just spewing out his own propaganda, to disguise his own racism.
I brought up briefly during the closing statement international law and Nuremberg. The spirit of Nuremberg, I mean. Because, you know, you can die – you die when they stick you in the oven. Turn that carbon monoxide on. But you are just as dead when they shoot you in the streets of New York City. You are just as dead if they shoot you in the streets of Soweto in South Africa.
You’re just as dead if you’re a Black person in South Africa without land and a means of subsistence living next to a five hundred acre farm while your family goes without food and your children die before they reach the age of five because of malnutrition-related diseases. You are just as dead, and the suffering is just as real to you, you know, as the people that died in Germany, in those ovens, whether they be labour organizers or whether they be Jews.
I don’t understand – I mean I do understand – why you think the way you do. But it still bothers me that you show so little compassion for the struggle of human beings for a better life. And that you feel you serve your interests best by sending somebody like Jaan Laaman to prison for 53 years when he has been fighting to prevent that from happening.
And that makes you a collaborator, just like those who collaborated in Germany. You found a better life for yourself here. All three of you live somewhat of a privileged life. And now you are going to collaborate with the government that is just as guilty and just as directly involved with the murder of people – primarily Third World people we are talking about – that’s involved in the oppression of nations, both here and throughout the world.
And history is not going to be too kind to you somewhere down the road for your role and the roles that others like you have played.
If history teaches us anything, it is that this country will embrace fascism before it will accede to the basic human rights of oppressed nations and peoples.
The other voice that was heard in the trial was the voice of revolutionary resistance; support of national liberation struggles; support for the right of self-determination as a basic human right that has to be safeguarded and guaranteed before other human rights become meaningful.
And we do advocate armed struggle, and we do advocate socialist revolution.
And I think that has something to do with the kind of sentences you are going to impose, that the sentences you impose are of a political nature just as this trial was of a political nature.
You don’t like communists and you don’t like revolutionaries and you don’t like people who support what you think apparently is the wrong side in South Africa. And you are going to punish them and you are going to send the message that Mr. Rose wants to go around the world.
What we represent to this government is a reality that they would like to destroy. White working class people who make them tremble at the thought that we would be in on digging the grave of U.S. imperialism.
But we are not exceptional nor do we view ourselves as such. We clearly know and have experienced the exploitation of working for the bosses from can’t see in the morning till can’t see at night.
We have worked in their sweatshop factories. We have worked for the minimum wage jobs, the low-paying junk jobs, the service work. We have worked in agricultural jobs, in the labour pool. Believe me, we know what you got to do when the baby needs to have some milk. And when it’s time for the rent to be paid. Nobody ever paid it for us.
We’ve both fought in and fought against this country’s imperialist wars. And I’ve seen and witnessed some of the most vicious racism that imperialism breeds, both in Vietnam during the war and in the streets of New York during the upcoming war. We’ve been in this country’s prison Kamps before, populated by people of colour and the poor, we’ve had a taste of what is experienced daily by more than half a million people in this country’s prison kamps. Locked down.
In prison I was hungry. I know what it’s like to be hungry. And I was sick with other prisoners. I know what it’s like to be sick and not to be given medical care. Those experiences I’ll never forget and all too many people have that kind of experience.
I am simply part of a revolutionary resistance movement that has suffered setbacks over the years, but we have not suffered failure and the government recognizes this as it continues to expand its counterinsurgency program.
The government claims somewhat of a propaganda victory after spending another two million dollars on this trial. But the victory is clearly ours. This was a political trial and we put the issues clearly out there. To see one simple indicator of that is those 40 counts where there were no convictions and that simply is one.
I firmly believe that we set an example here that will carry on that it was a good example and the only example we could set for people based on our commitment.
The government never seems to realize that we are not exceptional people in any way but simply come from the conditions that capitalism has created. There are more fighters like us and there will be more to come. And your 53 years has got nothing to do with that.
We will be held in extremely punitive conditions and isolation, but there is no penitentiary in this stinking system of yours, there is no cell dark or isolated enough, that will ever stop me from fighting for what is right, from organizing for what we’ve got to do, to encourage other prisoners to fight for their rights. You’ll never, ever break that spirit, ever, and you can send those goon squads time and time again, – I know I’ll see them. you can send those neo-fascists they’ve got locked up there who collaborate with the administration. you can send them. You can kill us, you can bury us, but you can’t bury our spirit.
A VOICE: Right on.
LEVASSEUR: In closing, based on what happened yesterday it is clear what the prosecutors want, as well as what they represent. They say I am part of an armed unit that carried out attacks against military installations and multinational corporations. While you are here to defend those interests and align yourself with apartheid and genocide, I am here to say that I support these actions as I have throughout the trial.
I support these actions because I support struggle for freedom and national liberation, not because I like violence. I do that because I want it clear which side of the freedom struggle I’m on. I am proud to be a freedom fighter and I say simply that the struggle will continue until victory.
Victory to national liberation and socialist revolution!