"The Court, having considered the Stipulation of
Facts submitted by the parties together with the
previously submitted motion to dismiss, IT IS
HEREBY ORDERED that this case be dismissed."
Dated August 18, 2011
Philip J. Moscone, Judge of the Superior Court
So concludes a case that was initiated in a Joint
Terrorism Task Force investigation in 2003, grand
jury investigations that locked up former
Panthers in 2005, and charged eight brothers in January of 2007.
"It took over 4 1/2 years to win this case!" said Francisco Torres.
This case starts with an attack on the Ingleside
Police Station in August of 1971, 40 years ago,
in which a San Francisco Police Sergeant was
killed. At the time, the attack was claimed to be
a response to the assassination of George Jackson
the previous week in San Quentin.
In 1973, in a major national police agency
offensive and Cointelpro operation designed to
destroy the Black Panther Party, over a dozen
Party members were arrested in New Orleans. At
least three of the men were tortured and forced
to sign statements regarding the Ingleside
attack. A 1975 prosecution based on the
torture-induced statements was thrown out of court
in San Francisco.
Then, in 2005, the government's need to promote
an "anti-terrorism" agenda and to re-criminalize
the history of the Black Panther Party drove the
reopening of this cold case through a Grand Jury
decades later. There was strong resistance to the
Grand Jury, but in 2007 charges were brought
against the men who become the San Francisco 8.
With the same solidarity shown in resisting the
2005 Grand Jury, and with growing community
support for the Brothers, and a film, The Legacy
of Torture, which exposed the background, the San
Francisco 8 case soon began to unravel for the
prosecution. In an unprecedented development,
five of the men were released on bail.
In 2008 the conspiracy charge against Francisco 'Cisco'
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,
who have spent decades in prison as political
prisoners, pleaded no contest to reduced charges
of conspiracy and manslaughter with no prison
sentences. This left a single charge against
Cisco for the last three years, which has just been dismissed.
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 then California Attorney
General (now Governor) Jerry Brown.
The Stipulation of Facts leading to the final
dismissal of the case against Francisco Torres includes:
· The loss of the alleged murder weapon
· Statements about their torture by three
men arrested in New Orleans (police tortured
them for several days employing electric shock,
cattle prods, beatings, sensory deprivation,
plastic bags and hot, wet blankets for asphyxiation)
· Insufficient evidence to prove guilt
· After three decades, memories faded,
witnesses died (70 people have died including
John Bowman who was one of those tortured in
New Orleans) , and evidence was "lost, destroyed
or is otherwise unavailable" (as in illegally obtained or Cointelpro related)
· In the 1970s, Reuben Scott, who was
tortured, refused to testify for the prosecution,
but suddenly, more than 30 years later changed his mind
· Wiretap evidence was ruled not
discoverable in 2009 (and these surveillance
documents which could prove the Cointelpro
campaign against the Panthers became a liability
to the prosecution, some became lost or destroyed, or unavailable)
"Against the backdrop of the war on terror,
steadfast solidarity among defendants and
supporters of all stripes prevailed over
conventional wisdom. Again the San Francisco 8
thank the people around the planet and especially
the Bay. The success belongs to each and every
one of you," commented Ray Boudreaux.
Hank Jones declared, "There's no doubt in my
mind, had it not been for the solidarity
committee and the film, Legacy of Torture, we
would have been railroaded. Mobilizing the way
we did all across the country, put the
government on notice that we were a force to be reckoned with!"
The defense committee has vowed to keep up the
pressure until Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim are
back with their families and community. Hank
Jones said, "Now that Cisco is cleared, we can
shift our focus to building a movement to release
other political prisoners."