Attorney Stuart Hanlon
Attorney Stuart Hanlon
Stuart Hanlon, attorney for Herman Bell, speaks out about the San Francisco 8
by POCC Minister of Information JR
In this POCC: Block Report Radio interview [mid-February 2007], check out San Francisco attorney Stuart Hanlon, who represents political prisoner Herman Bell, one of the defendants in this case, as he talks about the government assault that is going on to this day against members of the Black Panther Party, as well as this particular indictment of the San Francisco Eight. [Hanlon's law office can be contacted at www.stuarthanlonlaw.com].
MOI JR: Can you tell us what this indictment is about that these Black Panthers have been brought up on?
Hanlon: The indictments have two parts: One of their charges was killing this precinct Sgt. Young, who was shot in the Ingleside (San Francisco) station in 1971. But then they're charged with conspiracy to kill policemen, and that conspiracy goes from 1968 to 1973, and basically it's a broad based attack on what they call the BLA (Black Liberation Army), but what is really the Black Panther Party in a lot of ways.
It's an attack on the organization, on the history and the politics of it. And they go through six or seven events in which they allege these people (were involved in) a conspiracy to kill policemen. So it is going to be a really multi-faceted prosecution.
MOI JR: I know that you also represented former political prisoner Geronimo Ji Jaga, aka Geronimo Pratt. How do you relate this case to the Geronimo case from a few decades ago?
Hanlon: Well, I think the thing that relates them together is a couple things: You could start with the Cointel Program, which was started by the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover with local law enforcement to get rid of dissent, and especially the Black Panther Party. They targeted Geronimo, and they targeted many of the people who have been charged here.
And part of that targeting was to create false cases against them like they did Geronimo. And I think that we're going to see in this case how we've been dealing with evidence that has been fabricated and manipulated. And then it is also to continue the hatred of the Black Panther Party members by law enforcement who were there back then and now. And they hated Geronimo, and they're out to get these people now.
MOI JR: I know that you represent Herman Bell, who is now being held as a political prisoner, and I also know that Jalil Muntaqim is also on this indictment. These two have been locked up for over 30 years already on vague charges, which many of us believe are falsified charges, I should say, why are they attacking someone who is already locked down?
Hanlon: It's hard to tell because they can't get the death penalty. They can't punish these people more than they're being punished – Herman and Jalil. I can't answer that, you know; it just seems like continued harassment and oppression of people who were connected to the Panther Party in the '60s and '70s in an attempt to make sure that they never see the light of day.
MOI JR: Who are the defendants?
Hanlon: There's Herman Bell, Anthony Bottom aka Jalil Muntaqim, Ray Boudreaux, John Bowman, Ronald Bridgeforth, Richard Brown, Henry Watson Jones, Richard O'Neal, Harold Taylor, and Francisco Torres.
MOI JR: And John Bowman just passed, right?
Hanlon: Right, John Bowman would have been charged, but he died of cancer about two weeks ago.
MOI JR: Where do you see this case going? I know that these men are in their 50s and 60s. Do you think that the government has a case?
Hanlon: Well, it's going to be going to trial. And whether the government has a case ... they haven't had a case in 35 years; it's hard to imagine what could be new.
So it's going to be a war, and we're going to fight every way that we can to keep these people from either spending more time in prison or going to prison. So it's hard to tell if anything is new.
It doesn't seem like there's anything new because the evidence has been there for 35 years, and the science to figure it out, the scientific evidence, has been there for 25 years. So nothing should be really new.
And what I want to make clear is that you know that this case started in torture. Some of these people were tortured in Louisiana, in New Orleans, by the police to give up information.
There were two cases that were already thrown out because of that torture, and it was tortured statements that led to this prosecution. So I don't think that people in San Francisco are going to convict people where the evidence began with tortured statements from people.
MOI JR: I've been watching the news, and I know that the government claims that they have new scientific technology, and as you just stated, the technology has been there for over 25 years. Can the government just harass people like this with impunity?
Hanlon: No. There's legal issues that we could raise to that. If they cause a delay, the same as with people remembering, as well as with evidence that has passed through time, then the case is not going to go forward. We really have to see what they come up with, and their explanation of what it is.
MOI JR: I know that Ray Boudreaux, John Bowman, Richard Brown and I believe two of the other defendants were arrested in 2005. Do you know anything about that case?
Hanlon: Yes. They were arrested as grand jury witnesses, because they refused to testify at a grand jury regarding this crime. And they were put in jail for a period of time because they refused to testify.
MOI JR: And that was this same case?
Hanlon: That was investigating this case.
MOI JR: Do you have anything that you would like to say to the readers about this case?
Hanlon: People should pay attention to this case. They should watch what is going on. You know, there is a message that the government is putting out: 'If you ever cross us, we'll never give up on punishing you. If your politics are different from the politics of the ruling regime, we're never going to give up on punishing you.'
And people should watch this case because the government calls it 'criminal,' but we think that it is a political case, and people should watch it and see the ramifications of what happens here.
On January 23, eight activists were arrested for the alleged killing of a police sergeant inside of the Ingleside police station in San Francisco. Many believe that much of the main evidence in the case is the tortured confessions of some of the defendants and of another individual, who is expected to testify for the state.
If the people don't stand up against this, then we are giving a validation to the government to torture people in our name, because our silence will be seen as approval. People have been standing against the torture going on in Iraq, in Guantánamo, in Israel and in Eastern Europe in CIA prisons. Now it's time for us to look at Amerikkka's torture of its own domestic prisoners.
The San Francisco Eight defendants are also being indicted on conspiracy charges, meaning that the government doesn't have to prove that you actually committed a crime. This is a continuation of the Counter Intelligence Program – Cointelpro – of the FBI in today's form, known as a Department of Homeland Security operation.
For those who may not know, Cointelpro supposedly was born in the '60s to wage the United States government's domestic war of terror against the Black Panther Party, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, the American Indian Movement, as well as the Weather Underground, the Crips and other militant formations. But we know it has existed in Amerikkka at least since runaway Africans teamed up with Natives to fight slave-catchers.
It's just today we call these two opposing interests the revolutionaries versus the state aka the police and the military. People such as Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Marcus Garvey, Ida B. Wells, Paul Robeson, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, the Black Panther Party, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, and Muhammad Ali are just a few of the many people who were enemies of the state, and the state used everything that it could to neutralize them. Today the list continues with people like Mutulu Shakur, Veronza Bowers, political exile Assata Shakur, the Move Nine, the Angola Three, the Queens Two, Chip Fitzgerald, Hugo Pinell, Ruchell Magee, and Aaron Patterson, just to name a few.
We have to realize that if we don't stand against this type of repression, then soon it will be coming to our front doors. Conspiracy laws can be applied against people who know a drug dealer or somebody who may have committed any "crime." They are not implemented just against freedom fighters.
With conspiracy laws, if you refuse to snitch or really don't know anything about the situation but they think that you do, you can be indicted and sentenced as a codefendant. Ask the nine defendants on this case who are being charged with killing one San Francisco cop in one shotgun blast. This case is reminiscent of the Move Nine case where nine defendants were accused and convicted of shooting one Philly cop with one bullet.
Now is the time for us to come together with one another, to organize, to speak out and speak up on behalf of each other. There is no time to waste. While we debate, define and discuss, the enemy continues his genocidal plan. We need to bear in mind the Ashanti proverb: "Two men in a burning house must not stop to argue." – Dr. Mutulu Shakur
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