The victory celebration was great! See photos on the blog at freethesf8.blogspot.com
Cisco cleared! Last of the charges dismissed. "It took over 4 1/2 years to win this case!" said Francisco Torres.
Judge Philip Moscone signed and filed an order dismissing charges against Francisco Torres late Thursday, August 18, 2011. See the blog for details. For an interview with Cisco Torres and Maisha Quint of the SF8 Committee on KPFA's Hardknock radio August 23, listen to the archived show.
Previously the conspiracy charge against Francisco Torres was dropped and all charges against five were dropped (Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Hank Jones, Richard O'Neal and Harold Taylor). Jalil Muntaqim and Herman Bell pleaded no contest/guilty to reduced charge of conspiracy / manslaughter with no prison sentence. This left a single charge against Cisco – see the Open Letter calling for the charge to be dropped.
After 40 years, the government's case against eight former Black Panther Party members and supporters has almost completely unraveled. (See the SF 8 statement of August 2009). The eight 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 had been brought in 1975, but a California judge tossed out the charges, finding that they were based on statements made by three of the men after police in New Orleans tortured them for several days employing electric shock, cattle prods, beatings, sensory deprivation, plastic bags and hot, wet blankets for asphyxiation.
At the end of July, Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim were sentenced to probation and time served, after Herman agreed to plead to voluntary manslaughter and Jalil to conspiracy to voluntary manslaughter. All charges were then dropped on Richard Brown, Hank Jones, Harold Taylor, and Ray Boudreaux, with the prosecution admitting it had “insufficient evidence” against them. Charges had already been dropped against Richard O'Neal last year.
Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim have been in prison in New York for almost 40 years on similar charges based on the US Government's COINTELPRO actions to disrupt and destroy radical organizations, especially the Black Panther Party. Showing the weakness of the prosecution's case, Bell and Muntaqim were given no additional prison time, and have been returned to NY where they continue to fight for parole.
Four and a half years of mass support for the Brothers, including resolutions from the San Francisco Central Labor Council, the Berkeley City Council, and several San Francisco Supervisors, have broken the back of a vindictive prosecution organized by Homeland Security, the FBI, and California Attorney General Jerry Brown. The defense committee has vowed to keep up the pressure until Herman and Jalil are back with their families and community.
Background: Murder Charges Against Former Black Panthers Based on Confessions Extracted by Torture
Eight former Black community activists – Black Panthers and others – 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 after it was revealed that police used torture to extract confessions when some of these same men were arrested in New Orleans in 1973.
Richard Brown, Richard O'Neal, Ray Boudreaux, and Hank Jones were arrested in California. Francisco Torres was arrested in Queens, New York. Harold Taylor was arrested in Florida. Two men charged – Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim – have been held as political prisoners for over 30 years in New York State prisons. The men were charged with the murder of Sgt. John Young and conspiracy that encompasses numerous acts between 1968 and 1973.
Harold Taylor and John Bowman (recently deceased) as well as Ruben Scott (thought to be a government witness) were first charged in 1975. But a judge tossed out the charges, finding that Taylor and his two co-defendants made statements after police in New Orleans tortured them for several days employing electric shock, cattle prods, beatings, sensory deprivation, plastic bags and hot, wet blankets for asphyxiation. Such "evidence" is neither credible nor legal.
Committee for the Defense of Human Rights
P.O. Box 90221
Pasadena, CA 91109
E-mail: freethesf8 [at] gmail [dot] com