Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Olympia WA: Capitol protests take a big toll

BY JORDAN SCHRADER and BRAD SHANNON | November 29, 2011 The Olympian

The toll in the first two days of the Legislature’s emergency budget session:

Six troopers and one state employee hurt in scuffles with protesters.
Fifteen arrests, and at least six demonstrators hit with shocks from
troopers’ stun guns.
$12,000 in overtime costs for troopers on Monday alone and $8,200 for
their first-day travel to Olympia.
Two hearings on the budget that were held up by demonstrators.
Two votes taken on legislation – neither of them on the state budget
that has brought lawmakers to Olympia to fix a $2 billion problem.

Demonstrators demand the gap be bridged in part with tax increases, not
just with cuts to social services, schools and the like. The State Patrol
says most have expressed those sentiments peacefully. But there have been
confrontations with a few in the Occupy movement.

Of 11 people arrested Tuesday, six are accused of disorderly conduct, most
for disrupting a budget hearing.

Committee chairman Sen. Ed Murray temporarily halted the proceedings. “I’m
actually sympathetic to the point they are making, but we have to have a
civil dialogue,” said the Seattle Democrat. It was “a little tough today”
to have a civil dialogue.

Five more were arrested for allegedly returning to the Capitol Campus
after receiving no-trespass warnings. Troopers handed out the warnings
Monday to 30 demonstrators who refused to leave the Legislative Building
after it closed for the night. On Tuesday, the building was emptied
without incident.

Mark Taylor-Canfield doesn’t intend to let the no-trespass order he
received stop him from returning. The Occupy Seattle activist said he
doesn’t believe the 30-day ban is legal.

“I’m going to have to call their bluff,” said Taylor-Canfield, who also is
reporting on the movement as a freelance writer. “If I committed a crime,
then arrest me and charge me.”

Among those arrested Monday were three alleged to have committed assault
as they tried to push their way into the closed Legislative Building. The
patrol said two troopers were bitten and four suffered bumps and bruises,
but Lt. Mark Arras said all returned to work Tuesday.

A Department of Enterprise Services worker’s ribs were bruised and his
face was injured. The injuries kept the man away from work Tuesday.

During the same scuffle, a trooper shocked three demonstrators by touching
them with the end of his stun gun. Later Monday evening, as protesters
tried to block a bus hauling arrested suspects to the Thurston County
jail, stun guns were deployed again.

Sgt. J.J. Gundermann said the weapons were used not to disperse the crowd
of perhaps 75 protesters blocking the bus, but only on those who resisted.

“They were definitely pushing and shoving us,” Gundermann said.

A judge set bail Tuesday afternoon for the assault suspects, one of whom
is identified in court as a 26-year-old veteran and Occupy Tacoma
participant. Two of the three were ordered held in jail; the third was
released on his recognizance.

Occupy the Capitol protesters felt troopers used “excessive force”, said
Taylor-Canfield. He said he talked to one young man who told him he was
stunned multiple times near the bus as the group was “attacked by police.”

Eric Finch, an organizer with Washington Community Action Network, sees no
problems with how troopers have kept order. “Generally, they’re doing
their best,” he said.

Finch did disagree with Gov. Chris Gregoire and Enterprise Services’
decision to close the Capitol at night. Officials allowed a sit-in last
April to last through the night as protesters slept under the eye of

Enterprise Services Director Joyce Turner said officials “learned a lot of
lessons” from those April protests, which she said started out peaceful
but “changed in tenor” dramatically.

Separate from the overnight demonstrations, 17 people were arrested in
April in a protest organized by Service Employees International Union 775
Northwest, which included an attempt to storm Gregoire’s office.

Gregoire’s spokeswoman, Karina Shagren, said the governor respects
protesters’ First Amendment rights but is concerned about the cost of
keeping the building open.

“It’s costing a lot of money,” she said.

The patrol released totals Tuesday for the money spent the day before to
have troopers stand guard and evict protesters. In addition to overtime
and travel costs, the patrol counted $76,000 in regular pay for troopers
who would have been working regardless of the demonstrations.

“The day to day work of troopers is important, or we wouldn’t have them
doing it,” Lt. Arras said in a news release. “If your car broke down
(Monday) and you sat beside the freeway for an extended period, that soft
cost suddenly has a very real impact.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Occupy This: Crazy Tom the FBI Provocateur

Tom Mosher, circa 1972. (art: Anna Weissman)

Tom Mosher, circa 1972. (art: Anna Weissman)

27 November 11 By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

"Anyone who remembers the sixties wasn't really there."
George Carlin

"Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it."
George Santayana

s weird as the 1960s became, Crazy Tom stood out. He set fires and started fights on the Stanford campus, supplied guns and explosives to fellow militants, and staged hold-ups "to support the Revolution." He also created a secret mountain-top training camp and bomb factory to groom would-be urban guerrillas, from young, mostly white Maoists to the secret Black Panther army trying to free Soledad Brother George Jackson from San Quentin Penitentiary. Then, in February and March 1971, Crazy Tom Mosher put on a suit and tie, brushed down his wispy blond hair, and testified in secret before the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security. According to his sworn testimony, the revolutionary terrorist had worked all along for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and its state counterpart, the California Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification (CII).

In his testimony, Mosher warned of a growing campaign of revolutionary sabotage, terror, and guerrilla war, which had already left a trail of violence and murder across Northern California. The Senate published his tale at taxpayers' expense, while Reader's Digest ran a first-hand account of his experiences, "Inside the Revolutionary Left." As Mosher and the senators told it, he had been an informant, passively watching the illegal violence of the Left and reporting to the authorities to help them enforce the law. As those of us who knew him had seen for ourselves, he had created much of the terrorist violence he now condemned.

At the time, I was an anti-war activist at Stanford, increasingly burned-out, cynical, and without too many lingering liberal illusions. Yet I would never have suggested that the FBI or other police agencies had paid Crazy Tom to shoot guns on campus, set fires, or run a guerrilla training camp. More likely, I figured, he had created his own chaos, while selling his handlers whatever bullshit he could get them to buy.

I was wrong. On March 8, 1971, just as Mosher was about to testify, a group calling itself the Citizen's Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into the Bureau's office in Media, Pennsylvania, and "liberated" over 1000 classified documents, which they began releasing to the press. The purloined files included the hitherto secret caption "COINTELPRO," shorthand for Counterintelligence Program. NBC's Carl Stern then filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act, and in December 1973, a federal court ordered the FBI to make public its clandestine COINTELPRO memos.

One of the memos caught my eye. In May 1968, Director J. Edgar Hoover had secretly authorized the FBI "to expose, disrupt, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" the New Left's opposition to the Vietnam War and support for black liberation. "Expose, disrupt, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" are terms of art, and none of Hoover's underlings could have doubted what he was telling them to do. Far from enforcing the law or protecting our First Amendment right to protest, the FBI would use against us the classic techniques that the Czarist secret police and its European counterparts had used for centuries, that the FBI had perfected since the post-World War I Palmer Raids, and that the CIA and military had for years directed against foreign foes. Our Crazy Tom, it appeared, was looking like far more than a self-propelled provocateur.

To find out for certain, a group of us at the Pacific Studies Center, a radical off-campus research institute, decided to look into what Mosher had done with us and to us. We interviewed Tom over a period of several days, during which he ranged from overly talkative to irritatingly cagey to truly terrified that we had set him up to be killed. We talked with dozens of his closest former comrades. And we tried to decipher the relevant COINTELPRO memos, with all their deleted names and details. The court had allowed the FBI to black out every place where Mosher's name might have fit, but once we reconstructed his violent life and times, no one could doubt that Crazy Tom did exactly what the Counterintelligence Programs called for him to do. [1]

Too Crazy to Be a Pig

Whatever else he might have been, the short, scrappy Mosher was no spoiled preppy. His father, he told me, had been sent to the penitentiary, leaving his mother to turn tricks at home, while he grew up on the streets of Uptown Chicago, learning to survive among the roughest rednecks, hillbillies, and other refugees from the American hinterland.

Smart, sensitive, and charismatic, he quickly learned how to hustle, charming the improbable W. Clement Stone, an insurance tycoon who gave millions to former President Nixon. Stone also wrote books telling people how to develop PMA, a Positive Mental Attitude, by jumping up and down every morning chanting "I am healthy! I am happy! I am successful!" Tom met Stone at the McCormick Boys Club, took him as a big brother, and later got him to write a recommendation to Stanford, where the eager young man enrolled in the fall of 1962.

Mosher tried hard to score in the world of big money and soft manners. But for all his Positive Mental Attitude, the foster son of success lacked the financial backing and social background, while he caused so many fights that the fraternity he joined asked him to leave. "Mosher was one of the most violent people I'd ever known," recalled one of his well-bred frat brothers. "In the space of two and a half months, he punched out eight people." Tom finally dropped out of Stanford in the spring of 1965, filled with admiration, awe, envy, hatred, and resentment for the silver spoon set. Had he failed? Or had Stanford failed him? The wiry street fighter tried to work out the balance, but never could.

After spending a few months with the civil rights movement in Mississippi, Mosher returned to Uptown Chicago, where he became "a revolutionary." Several of my friends from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had started a local community organizing project called Jobs or Income Now (JOIN), and Mosher, whom I met casually at the time, became one of its stars. He also married a college professor's daughter named Mary, fathered a son Keith, and rubbed elbows with many of America's best-known young radicals

In August 1968, the SDS leader and later Weather Woman Bernadine Dohrn asked him to go in her place on a trip to Cuba. As fellow travelers remembered him, Mosher was a gung-ho Che Guevara bent on guerrilla war. In fact, he was already working for the government, or at least looking for a job. "I really wasn't such a stone cold revolutionary in Cuba," he told me. "I was just acting as one, carefully observing and analyzing for my own benefit. You'd have done the same thing if you had in mind what I had in mind."

Returning from Cuba in October, Tom met with FBI agents and gave them films he had taken on the trip. He then moved back to Stanford, and no later than "let us say April 1969," he began what he called his "active association with the Bureau."

Why did Tom sign on with the Feds? Take your pick. In various breaths, he spoke of his poor boy's resentment of rich white radicals and black militant thugs, his patriotic disgust with their violence and anti-Americanism, his long-standing anti-Communism, and his sudden disillusionment with Cuban socialism. He also mentioned pressure from the law, his need for money, and growing marital strains with Mary. In Tom's topsy-turvy mind, most - if not all - could have played a part.

One other possibility was that Mosher came to the FBI from military intelligence. His military records, which we managed to see, showed that he had served two and a half months on active duty with the Marines. He then remained in the reserves for six years, but without any evidence of ever attending a single reserve meeting. This was the file one would expect from someone performing an undercover assignment, but we were never able to nail that down.

In any case, Tom's temper, his passion for guns and explosives, and what he called his "peculiar mental illness at the time" made him the perfect provocateur. His madness drove him to live on the edge, continuously courting danger, while working for the FBI allowed him to carve out a free-fire zone between the militants and the law where he could let rip his terrifying rage.

Just as the COINTELPRO memos directed, Mosher brought into the anti-war movement an incredible aura of violence, which disrupted our protests from within and discredited them to those on the fringe. He baited the moderates and egged on the militants. He even fought right-wing Young Americans for Freedom, threatening publicly to sodomize one of their campus leaders. His fury surging just below the skin, he acted like a savage six-year-old, flying into a rage whenever he wanted, upsetting, unnerving, and grasping for control.

Flashing his pistol at a non-violent anti-war sit-in in April 1969, he offered to take care of the campus police and boasted of trashing their car windows. "Time to get serious!" he urged. "Time to pick up the gun." Late one night, he fired eight or nine shots into the home of Stanford president Kenneth Pitzer, and then tried to get the incident reported in the press. He also fired into a university auditorium, and during a demonstration against ROTC, he fired several shots into the air.

Tom Mosher, circa 1972. (art: Anna Weissman)

In July 1969, Mosher went to a party at the home of H. Bruce Franklin, a brilliant scholar of both Herman Melville and science fiction, and a prime target of the FBI's Counterintelligence Programs. The "Maoist English professor," as the press called him, had become a convert to old left thinking, zealously defending the historic necessity of Stalinist terror in the Soviet Union, a fatuous claim that won him scant support. Together with his equally militant wife Jane, Bruce ran the Revolutionary Union, which preached the impossibility of non-violent revolution, but overlooked the even larger improbability of a violent one.

The party that night was celebrating the acquittal of several radicals charged with fomenting a street riot in downtown Palo Alto. A large crowd showed up, including the defendants, three jurors, most of the local anti-establishment, and some visiting left-wing honchos from across the country. The guests were talking, dancing, and drinking wine, when Mosher slapped a juror who was dancing with Mary. Bruce jumped in, some serious brawling began, and it looked for a time that the police might come, using the opportunity to raid the house, search for weapons, and rough-up a few self-proclaimed revolutionaries. After the punch up, Franklin cooled to Mosher, telling his comrades not to trust the lunatic. "I may be crazy," Mosher replied, "but I'm not a pig."

In spite of Franklin's tenure, the Stanford administration soon brought disciplinary charges against him, holding him responsible for the climate of senseless violence that Crazy Tom helped to create. Adding to the furor, Mosher leaked hearsay stories to the press accusing Franklin of supplying weapons and explosives to the Black Panther Party in Oakland. Such stories took their toll. Sacrificing civil liberties in hopes of gaining security, the faculty judges voted to fire Franklin for his political activism.

Like Bruce, the vast majority of us in the Stanford movement tried to keep a safe distance from Crazy Tom, finding his behavior bizarre. Many of us heard stories of how he pulled his gun on friends, beat his wife, and bragged of "rolling queers" outside the gay bars in Palo Alto's Whiskey Gulch. We saw him as a constant chameleon, always shifting roles. One day he would play the bearded guerrilla in field jacket and combat boots. Another day he would pose as the clean-shaven movement lawyer "William Z. Foster," turned out in suit, tie, and wingtips. He would also appear as a campus queen in purple velvet; a white Huey P. Newton in a costly leather coat; an Aryan racist and authentic-sounding anti-Semite spouting slogans from the neo-Nazi bible Imperium; or an off-the-screen James Dean in Levis and T-shirt, a sleeve rolled up around a pack of cigarettes. "I'm from Uptown, Man. The toughest neighborhood in America."

Tom was crazy, all right, and everybody knew it. Why, then, did anyone ever trust him?

In part, he traded on his poor white origins, especially with all the guilt-ridden rich kids who looked to the working class to make the Revolution. ("In Uptown we're really more lumpenproletariat," he later told me with a knowing smile. "None of us can keep a job.") But mostly he and his rags-to-revolution image found an appreciative audience in a small but growing cadre with Red Books and revolvers who were always trying to act more Mao than Thou, a maddening vanguard that one wit dubbed the "Marksmen-Lemmingists."

"He would periodically make chiding remarks about my non-violence or put forward adventurist proposals," one pacifist recalled. "But he was only one of many political crazies. There were lots of people who had even weirder ideas than he did."

So, Tom's craziness became Tom's cover, as he stamped the anti-war movement with his own brand of random terror. Perhaps we were also beguiled by a lingering faith in the very system we opposed. "Mosher's too crazy to be an informer," we all agreed. "The government would never hire anyone as loony as him."

But that was just the point. Tom's violence and "peculiar mental illness at the time" were precisely what his FBI handlers wanted. How better to disrupt, misdirect, and discredit our opposition to the war? Mosher was a loaded gun that the Bureau pointed at us, trashing our First Amendment right to protest without government interference and our freedom to decide for ourselves the message we wanted our non-violent demonstrations to convey.

Training for Guerrilla War

Reaching beyond the Stanford campus, Mosher quickly found his ticket to the big time in a remote patch of ravines, redwoods, and rattlesnakes high in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains. "The land," as it was called, belonged to a group of draft resisters who had bought it for a retreat. It was also the outdoor playpen of one of Tom's former fraternity brothers, a near-sighted and slightly mad charmer called "Blind Timmy."

Tom had heard that his old friend still lived in the area and set off to find him, driving into the mountains on an old logging road, then trekking upward along a tiny twisting trail, until he came to a small clearing with a homemade cabin built of wood and stone. In the clearing, Mosher spotted Timmy frolicking with a band of teenage boys and girls. They were all naked. A self-anointed guru, Blind Timmy preached the virtues of pan-sexualism, seeking universal unity and spiritual ecstasy through an open-ended communion of bodies and souls.

In time, Tom and Mary joined in, and for a while it was Timmy, Tom, and Mary. But the ménage did not work out. "I found that I was emotionally right-wing and came to see the whole thing as diabolical possession," Tom confessed. "I guess my soul just had too much of the funky gray Mid-West."

Timmy scooted off to do his missionary work elsewhere, leaving Tom free to use the land as he wanted, which was just as the FBI memos suggested - "to take advantage of all opportunities for Counterintelligence and also inspire activity in instances where circumstances warrant."

As early as the spring of 1969, Mosher brought some Stanford radicals and black militants from Oakland to the mountain hideaway to practice shooting and "discuss alone the techniques of using high explosives," as he later testified to the Senate subcommittee. He and his black comrades also got hold of over a hundred sticks of dynamite, along with timers, mercuric fulminate for the fuses, and electronic detonators, all of which they stashed on the mountain. By summer, the land had become, as Tom told it, "literally ... a bomb factory."

Every bomb factory needs a mad scientist, and Mosher found his in a short, bright, and profoundly angry black student named Jimmy Johnson. Mosher had met him at Stanford in 1963, and the two outsiders grew close. JJ had dropped out about the same time as Tom, and was just coming back to finish his degree in chemical engineering. Mosher spotted him at an SDS party, where - as friends in the Black Student Union put it - JJ stood out "like a fly in the buttermilk." The two began spending time together and winding each other up. Together, they jeered at the tough-talking rads and their tea-party sit-ins, and promised to show those punk kids what revolution was all about.

JJ's friends in SDS tried to warn him away, telling him that Mosher was crazy, if not a police agent. But most of the Stanford radicals thought Johnson a little loosely wired, too, and left him to his fate. Mad Dog Jimmy, Crazy Tom - they seemed a perfect pair.

At the time, JJ was facing trial for rioting in downtown Palo Alto, while the university was trying to discipline him for disrupting a trustee's meeting where he had protested Stanford's millions of dollars in Pentagon research contracts. So much for civil disobedience, he told Tom. Why put yourself up in plain view for something that doesn't get any results anyway? Why not use something safer and more efficient? Something with a bang.

When Mosher heard all this, his eyes lit up. Many young radicals talked about bombs, but JJ knew how to make them. Fire bombs. Dynamite bombs. Time bombs. "JJ used to blow my mind with some of the things he made," Mosher recalled. "He even made a timing device from a photoelectric cell, which would go off when someone opened the door or turned on a light."

Introducing JJ to some of the most militant blacks in Northern California, Mosher pushed him to act out his anger. "What Mosher did was to bring this machismo, tough guy shit into the movement," JJ later explained. But, at the time, he seemed to JJ to be one of the few white boys willing to do more than talk.

With JJ as his revolutionary bomb-maker, Mosher spread the word among Northern California radicals that he had a full-fledged training camp in the mountains. He then recruited the most militant to crawl on their bellies over the rocky terrain, snipe at make-believe "pigs" behind every bush, blow up tree stumps with home-made bombs, and stage mock guerrilla raids on whatever targets their rich imaginations could conjure up. Where Blind Timmy and his nubile playmates once pursued their polymorphous pleasures, stern-eyed guerrillas now trained for war, while the FBI's Tom Mosher - king of the mountain and master of "Guevara Ranch" - supplied them with dynamite, grenades, pistols, rifles, and machine guns.

Of course, the modest Mosher denied any credit. "My role was strictly passive," he told me. "I simply used my access to the land to monitor the illegal activity of others - a standard law enforcement technique." Playing the super-patriot, he denied that the FBI ever ordered him to go against the law, or that they ever ran the COINTELPROS, except perhaps on paper. "Those stupid sons of bitches never understood that we were at war," he insisted. "I had to go beating on doors to push them to do something about indiscriminate terror."

The Black Panthers' Best White Buddy

Tom finally got what he wanted in a COINTELPRO memo dated November 25, 1968, instructing FBI offices to begin "imaginative and hard hitting measures aimed at crippling the BPP," the Black Panther Party. As FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover saw it, the Panthers had replaced Martin Luther King as the nation's major black menace, and were now "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country."

Reality was more the reverse. For all their revolutionary rhetoric, the Panthers were fast becoming an endangered species. Eldridge Cleaver had fled to Algeria. Huey Newton sat in a California jail. Chairman Bobby Seale faced trials for rioting at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and the alleged torture slaying of Alex Rackley in New Haven. As for the lesser Panther leaders, Hoover's Counterintelligence Programs had begun targeting them for special attention, while Attorney General John Mitchell's "Panther Squad" was preparing a series of pre-dawn, shoot-first-ask-questions-later police raids, like the one in Chicago that killed Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.

Trying to protect themselves, the Panthers scheduled a major gathering in Oakland for July 1969, calling together their friends and allies to form a "United Front against Fascism." Mosher saw this as his big chance. At the SDS National Convention in Chicago in June, he physically threatened the Progressive Labor Party faction for their political attacks on the Panthers and pushed for all-out support of the United Front. Then he rushed back to the West Coast for the Panther conference, using a stolen American Express card to fly in several friends from his old gang in Uptown, the Young Patriots. "We're just like the Panthers," he proclaimed, "only white."

Mosher used his contacts at Stanford to round up students to do clerical work and run errands for the conference. The Panthers were grateful, and Chairman Bobby drove from Oakland to hold a planning meeting in Tom's living room. I was there. It was clear that Seale liked Tom's style and street savvy, naming him official student organizer of the anti-Fascist conference. Not bad for a white boy from Uptown and just perfect for the FBI.

At the same time the Panthers were organizing their peaceable United Front, they also shifted their basic approach from armed self-defense to "revolutionary violence." Here, too, they turned to the FBI's Mosher, who worked closely with Panther Field Marshall Randy Williams. "This relationship was predicated upon my contact with people who could supply explosives and timers, and individuals who could provide technical information and expertise," Mosher told the Senate subcommittee.

One activist saw first-hand some rifles Mosher delivered. "I don't know if Randy considered Mosher a great comrade or anything like that," the activist recalled "But he did use him as a source of military equipment." Mosher brought Williams to Guevara Ranch for what Tom described in his testimony as "training with high-powered and automatic weapons, and other implements of revolutionary terror." According to Mosher, several small groups of Panthers used his land for this kind of training for days at a time.

As quartermaster of the revolution, Mosher also got hold of C-4 explosives, or plastique, which Williams used in a tragic attack on the Oakland Corporation Yard on the night of March 27, 1970. According to Mosher, Williams and his "fire team" cut a hole in the chain-link fence, entered the yard, and strapped the plastique to the side of a gasoline can, but without a proper booster. When the C-4 failed to detonate, Williams sent one of his men to retrieve it. The night watchman appeared, and the black militant shot him dead. "It wasn't an entire failure," Mosher quoted Williams as saying. "We got us some bacon."

Possibly to protect Mosher's cover, the Oakland police never charged Williams and his men for either the break-in or the murder. But a short time later they busted him and two others for what police reports described as a heavily armed attempt to ambush a paddy wagon. Said Mosher to the subcommittee, "My interactions with Mr. Williams continued right up to the 24-hour period preceding his arrest."

Dope, Guns, and Cash

"Have you checked out the rise in the crime rate about the time of the Panther's anti-Fascist conference?" Mosher asked during one of our interviews. "Have you looked at the number of armed robberies?"

Starting in summer 1969, the Bay Area had suffered a rash of unsolved hold-ups and other crimes, just as Mosher hinted. What he failed to mention was that he was the chief thief. Was he stealing on his own account, quite apart from his work for the FBI? Or was his thieving part of the Bureau's effort to disrupt and discredit the Left?

"Taxing the dope trade," as he called it, Tom raided hippy marijuana dealers, who were in no position to call the police. In one well-armed robbery in the mountain community of La Honda, Tom bagged over 34 pounds of prime marijuana, which he took to New York and sold for $3,400. One of Tom's accomplices was a black draft resister named Rodney Gage. As he later described it, Mosher lined the dealers up against the wall and subjected them to "political education." While the dopers stood there trembling, he lectured them on how the "pigs" oppressed the people and how the people's army needed money to buy guns, which was why the Black Panther Party taxed the heroin trade in Oakland and why he was taxing the marijuana dealers in his territory.

"It was kind of nice thinking it was political," Rodney told me with a tinge of remorse. "But it wasn't. It was a rip-off. Nobody but us ever saw any of the money from it."

In fact, the only politics were negative. By posing as a revolutionary while robbing the dealers, Mosher clearly disrupted and discredited the anti-war movement's otherwise successful effort to win sympathy and support within Northern California's drug-oriented youth culture.

Rodney, JJ, and a youthful drifter named Jimmy Inman told of several robberies that Mosher pulled. In one, he stole a day's receipts from Kepler's Bookstore in Menlo Park. "This is for the Revolution," he told the clerk, further souring relations between the more militant Left and the owner Roy Kepler, one of the area's leading pacifists and a long-time comrade of singer Joan Baez.

From those who were less pacifistic, Mosher stole guns, and he even robbed the emergency cash fund we used to make bail for Stanford radicals. Rodney bird-dogged the cash, finding the house where we kept it hidden. Then one evening in September 1969, Mosher called our legal defense committee.

"I think the pigs might try to bust me over the weekend," he said. "Do we have the bread to get me out?"

"Don't worry," he was told. "We have plenty of cash on hand."

A few nights later, Mosher sent Inman into the house. Carrying a loaded pistol, the drifter terrified the people inside, tore the house apart, and walked out with a large envelope. Mosher cursed him out for leaving a second envelope behind, but Inman still thought it was a good night's work - $1,380 split three ways. "Mosher could have gotten me to do just about anything," Inman recalled. "He was just that magnetic."

As if to test his allure, Mosher took Inman along on at least two trips to the FBI office in Palo Alto, scoffing loudly when the young man asked if he were an informer. Inman also recalled Mosher say that he had his reasons for robbing the radicals. Dope, guns, and cash - the ersatz revolutionary taxed them all, playing godfather to a small-time empire of crime, for which he went completely unpunished. In practice, the robberies disrupted and discredited the Left - just as the COINTELPRO memos instructed.

Eventually, Mosher did land in jail, but not for stealing. The problem was Mary, who had left him and gotten a quick divorce. He responded by terrorizing her and her lovers, one of whom died in a car crash. Tom found the dead man's belt under her bed, put it on like a wrestling trophy, and marched off, taunting her about how easy it was to sabotage a car.

Tensions mounted, and finally Mary showed up at Tom's house at 6 o'clock in the morning. With her she had two deputy sheriffs, who did not know that Mosher worked for the FBI. She also had a court order giving her sole custody of their son Keith, whom Tom adored. When Tom flew into a rage, the deputies maced him and used the opportunity to search his house without any need to have a warrant.

They found Tom's legal shotgun, rifle, and carbine, along with an AR-15 assault rifle illegally modified to fire as an automatic. They also found soft drink bottles and white cloth for Molotov cocktails, two detonator batteries, a timing device, blasting fuse, seven sticks of dynamite taped together, a half-inch cap for a pipe bomb, and two bags of black powder. As the local press reported it, the deputies had scored one of the biggest hauls of weapons and explosives ever taken from a Northern California militant. The local authorities charged Tom with assaulting an officer and illegally possessing an automatic weapon and explosives - six felonies in all, with bail set at $12,500.

Mosher tried to reach his FBI handler, who left him on his own, either to teach him a lesson or to safeguard his cover. As a result, Mosher sat in the Redwood City jail from April 18 to May 5, when he finally found the money for bail. To his comrades, Tom appeared unbroken. "The spirit of the people," he told Rodney, "was stronger than the power of the Man's prisons."

In celebration, he tossed a Molotov cocktail at a shed in the Stanford stables, setting off five or six alarms as he raced from the campus. Tom liked fires. According to Rodney, in early April he tried to burn down some student housing construction, and he appeared to have inside knowledge of a dramatic fire that gutted part of Stanford's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences during the time he was in the Redwood City lockup.

From all over the country, the Stanford fires brought harsh demands for law and order, especially from Vice President Spiro Agnew. They also alienated campus moderates. Even those who could understand why anti-war radicals might torch an ROTC building or chase CIA recruiters off campus could not fathom any reason for burning down student housing or a stable.

As all this was happening, Mosher made a career change. Unhappy with the FBI's failure to get him out of jail, he left their employ except for a trip that summer to monitor a Black Panther rally in Washington D.C. "They were not serving my interests and I was not serving theirs," he told the Senate subcommittee.

The break was less than complete. Tom remained in contact with Special Agent Phil Duncan of the Palo Alto FBI office, and the Bureau eventually worked out a deal with local lawmen. In November, Deputy District Attorney Wilbur Johnson, a former FBI agent, dropped all the weapons charges against Mosher, tacitly confirming that Tom's guns and bombs, one of the biggest hauls ever taken from a Northern California militant, had something to do with his work for the law. Mosher pled guilty to a single count of felony assault against the police officers, and the following January, Judge Robert F. Kane gave him probation and subsequently reduced the charge to a misdemeanor. To sweeten the pot, Mosher told the DA about some LSD-dealing at a house in Berkeley, leading to the arrest of a former business associate.

All this left Mosher dangling for nearly a year, but as he told the Senate subcommittee, "It also served the purpose of increasing my cover, I understand."

Free George Jackson

Into the early 1970s, radicals across Northern California were struggling, legally and otherwise, to free a street-savvy black convict named George Jackson, who had gotten a one-year-to-life sentence for stealing $70 from a gas station. The state subsequently charged him and two other black inmates with murdering a white guard at Soledad Prison, and militants on both sides of the prison walls were flocking to their support.

I was working at the time as an editor at Ramparts, when a well-connected young woman from the Soledad Defense Committee brought in a copy of a fascinating manuscript that Jackson had written in prison. Much of it had great power, but someone needed to rewrite it, as my former lawyer Beverly Axelrod had done with Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice. Would I do the same for the charismatic Jackson?

I said no, not for any political reason I can remember. I just felt uncomfortable with the idea of ghosting a book that would appear to be the words of somebody else, especially someone purporting to be a revolutionary leader. What did I know? Bantam Books brought out George Jackson's Soledad Brother, which remains a classic of prison literature.

By this time, Crazy Tom had begun working for the California Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, or CII, which had a keen interest in whatever he could learn about the Jackson campaign. Mosher did not disappoint them.

In one of the apparent coincidences that marked Tom's undercover career, one of his oldest friends from Stanford showed up in Berkeley in the summer of 1970. Kent Mastores was a law school graduate and was doing legal research for Faye Stender, who just happened to be the lead lawyer defending Jackson. Then, in September, Mastores took a part-time research job in San Jose with another Soledad lawyer, John Thorne.

Neither Thorne nor Stender believed that Mastores spied on them, while Mastores insisted that he knew nothing at the time of Mosher's undercover work and never fed him any information on the Soledad defense. But Mosher frequently camped out at Kent's house in Berkeley, and would have picked up bits of conversation useful to both the prosecution and efforts to discredit the Panthers.

Closely monitoring the efforts to break George free, Tom met at least twice with Jackson's teenage brother Jonathan. He also kept watch on Jonathan through JJ and Rodney, both of whom spent a lot of time at the home of a white San Jose family, the Hammers, who were active in the Soledad defense. Jonathan was "a beautiful boy," Mosher recalled. "But he really meant business about freeing George."

On August 7, Mosher was driving with JJ, when they heard on the car radio that someone with a sawed-off shotgun had burst into the Marin County Courthouse, seized a group of hostages to trade for George Jackson's freedom, and staged a shoot-out with the police. "Must have been a hillbilly," said Tom. "Ain't no nigger mean enough to do that."

Hearing that the gunman was Jonathan and that he had died in the attack, Crazy Tom and Mad Dog Jimmy drove excitedly to Mosher's house, where they began acting out their revolutionary fantasies. In their frenzy, one of them fired off two loud shots from a sawed-off shotgun. Moments later, a sheriff's car roared up. Mosher raced out the back door and disappeared, leaving JJ behind. The deputies searched the house and found the sawed-off shotgun in the reservoir tank of the upstairs toilet. "I was so scared I couldn't speak," JJ later confided. "Tom set me up to be killed."

Whatever Mosher's motives, the deputies threw JJ in jail and charged him with burglary, possession of stolen property, carrying a concealed weapon, and being armed while committing a felony. Mosher sent word that, because of his own legal problems, he would not be able to testify that the black militant had permission to be in the house.

JJ's luck seemed to be going from bad to rotten. Back in May, the police had come to pick him up on an earlier misdemeanor. When he refused to show them identification, they searched his house and garage, where they found a flare gun and illegal ammunition that Mosher had apparently left behind. Now facing a new string of felony charges, JJ panicked, jumped bail, and fled with his portable radio to Guevara Ranch, where he hid out in the makeshift cabin near the rocky crest of the mountain. Mosher visited whenever he could, using the unwitting JJ as his onsite eyes and ears.

Tom's chief target in those concluding months of 1970 was a brilliant, brawny, sweet, and often-terrifying black superman named Jimmy Carr. One of George Jackson's prison mates and a former bodyguard for Huey Newton, Carr had just gotten out on parole, when - according to rumors - he helped plan Jonathan Jackson's ill-fated raid. In any case, Carr married Jonathan's friend Betsy Hammer and took a job teaching black studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he began advanced work in both mathematics and electronics.

As might be expected, the brainy ex-con soon made his way to Mosher's guerrilla training camp at Guevara Ranch, where he found Mosher's sidekick JJ. In time, Carr came to trust the young fugitive and recruited him for a new and extremely dangerous mission. Flying the banner of the Movement of August 7, in memory of the day Jonathan Jackson died, Carr planned to kidnap some important hostage, break George out of San Quentin, hijack an airplane, and fly to freedom.

According to JJ, Carr talked of shorting the prison's power supply by driving a spike into the ground and throwing a chain from it over the power line. George would then use smuggled weapons to force his way out of maximum security, while Carr used explosives from Guevara Ranch to blow a hole in the prison wall. He would pick George up, and race into the night with machine guns blazing from the back of his Toyota jeep.

A sad mix of Clint Eastwood's Hollywood and Nat Turner's slave revolt, the plan never had much of a chance. But before Carr could try, Mosher visited JJ, caught wind of the excitement, and - according to official court records - notified Agent David Foster, his handler at the CII. In turn, Carr grew suspicious of Mosher, drew a gun on him, and chased him off the land. For all his Uptown bravado, Mosher admitted, he was starting to get scared of "dangerous murdering motherfuckers" like Jimmy Carr.

The climax came at the end of December, when Carr trudged up to the cabin with a tall, thin black man in an Air Force jacket. As JJ watched, the two men disappeared up the hill behind the cabin. Two shots rang out. Minutes later Carr came into the cabin alone, a .357 Magnum in his hand. He had just shot an informer, he said. He was feeling queasy and sent his little friend "to make sure the pig is dead." Doing as he was told, JJ found the man unmistakably dead, his head splattered by the force of the magnum bullets. JJ had no idea who the victim was.

Shaken, he returned with the news, and Carr asked him to help get rid of the body. Carr wanted to dig a grave, but the ground was too rocky. So, they gathered a small mound of redwood, threw the corpse over it, poured on some gasoline, and set the makeshift pyre ablaze. The fire burned for hours in the cold December drizzle, as the two men watched the body turn to ash. At one point, the still shaky Carr had to pick up the smoldering leg of his victim and put it back into the fire, while JJ wrenched the rib cage from a log. The two revolutionaries smashed the unburnable bones to bits, and buried the pelvis and knee joints in the silt of a nearby creek. Finally, Carr could take it no longer, fleeing down the mountainside to his jeep, where he threw up over the fender. He then climbed into the driver's seat and charged off without a word.

Day and night into the New Year, JJ remained alone, deserted by Carr and horrified by what they had done. Not until January 8 did he see a living soul - his buddy Mosher, who offered to take him to a friend's house in San Jose. Over the next three days, JJ tearfully told Tom how he and Carr had burned the body.

The murder and barbeque, as Mosher called it, was exactly what the COINTELPROS wanted to discredit the Left, but the tale sounded so bizarre that Mosher thought for a time that JJ might have wigged out. According to court records, he talked with the CII's Foster on January 8, the day he brought JJ down from the mountain. Officially, the informant warned the state lawman about explosives on the land and the presence there of the fugitive Jimmy Johnson. On his own, he put JJ on a bus to Eugene, Oregon, to stay with another of Mosher's many friends.

Carefully planning his next move, Mosher talked to Foster again a few days later, then went back to the land, picked up a stick and a half of plastique, which he brought to Phil Duncan, his old FBI contact. Duncan passed the explosive on to Foster. How much Mosher had learned about plans for the jailbreak, or how much he told the CII's Foster and the FBI's Duncan, remains unclear, but Foster followed up by getting a copy of an alleged letter from George Jackson laying out ideas for the escape. According to the official story, a dry cleaner in San Cruz had found the letter in a pocket of a pair of Carr's trousers, along with an envelope from Soledad attorney John Thorne's law firm.

With the plastique and the letter as evidence for a search warrant, Foster led a two-day raid on Guevara Ranch on January 14 and 15. Mosher went along, helping investigators unearth 80 pounds of the dynamite, nitroglycerine, and bombing paraphernalia that he had helped stash there. The searchers found enough explosives, one official said, to do "a beautiful job of blowing up a building as large as the Santa Clara County courthouse." Given the rough terrain, they found no trace of the burned body.

In early February, Mosher flew to Oregon to talk with JJ, suggesting that the state would drop all felony charges if JJ testified against the black Communist Angela Davis, who was facing trial for allegedly helping Jonathan Jackson with his ill-fated raid. JJ flatly refused, still unaware that Tom was working for the law. Mosher then arranged for JJ to fly to Vancouver, where he would stay with Rodney, who had moved to Canada.

Back in Northern California, Mosher returned to the land accompanied by a friend - probably Kent Mastores - to look again for what remained of the burned body. The two searched for several hours and finally, in the midst of a burnt patch of earth, they found a set of keys, some change, some metallic objects, the charred button of an Air Force jacket, and several ounces of bone. Mosher put the grisly treasure into a plastic bag and gave it to Duncan, who passed it on to Foster. Returning for a second look, Foster led another search of the land on February 10, and this time he found a wedding ring, other personal effects, and two-and-a-half pounds of bone fragments. It was enough to make a positive identification. The victim was Fred Bennett, a well-liked Panther who had headed the Soledad Defense Committee.

Foster kept the killing secret, while Mosher was flown to Washington to testify in closed session before the staff of the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security. He told his story that day and the next, and again in mid-March, when he was accompanied by Kent Mastores, who had so recently worked on legal defense for George Jackson.

The public exposé took longer to engineer. At the time, the FBI maintained a large network of what the COINTELPRO memos called "reliable and cooperative news media sources." The Bureau would give selected scoops - true or otherwise - to these reporters and publishers, who would print the stories as news, exposing and disrupting the Left's "obvious maneuvers and duplicity."

In Mosher's case, the cooperative journalist was Ed Montgomery, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter on Randolph Hearst's San Francisco Examiner. Over the years, the veteran newsman had specialized in stinging exposés against the Left, from communists in the Kremlin to Bruce Franklin, the Maoist English Professor at Stanford, a story that had come in part from Mosher. But some of Montgomery's juiciest scoops came from revealing selected parts of Mosher's still-secret senate testimony.

On April 20 and 21, 1971, Montgomery broke the gruesome story of Fred Bennett's death, conveniently timed to coincide with Bobby Seale's torture-murder trial in Connecticut. As Montgomery told it, Chairman Bobby had ordered Bennett killed because he was having an affair with Seale's wife Artie. Whether on his own or from his friends in law enforcement, Montgomery had given the story a new twist. Was it true? Probably not. The Panthers insisted that both the party and Bobby, who was in jail awaiting trial, had approved the relationship. If the Panthers ordered the killing, which they denied, the FBI had more likely led them to believe that Fred Bennett was "a pig." In an earlier COINTELPRO memo on May 11, 1970, FBI headquarters had urged its San Francisco office to work with local police to plant fabricated documents and other "disruptive disinformation ... pinpointing Panthers as police or FBI informants." The G-Men called this "planting a snitch jacket," which they and allied police agencies did to several Panther leaders, marking them for death while exacerbating splits within the Black Panther Party.

In his April articles, Montgomery provided the gory details of Bennett's murder, naming Carr and Jimmy Johnson as targets of the police investigation. He also tied JJ to the arson at Stanford's Behavioral Sciences Center. He did not cite Mosher's name or testimony, but mentioned as a source "an informer from within the radical-militant faction at Stanford." Since no one else at Stanford knew nearly as much about either JJ or the land, this pointed directly at Mosher. So, to maintain Crazy Tom's cover, Montgomery ran a new story on April 25 telling of a manhunt for that well-known militant Tom Mosher. As Montgomery wrote it, "There is some speculation Mosher may also be in Algeria."

The entire story was a lie. According to Mosher, Montgomery knew him personally, knew he was an informer, had helped in trying to work out the deal for JJ, and had even accompanied Tom on a bizarre trip to the San Francisco morgue in early March to look at a badly mauled black corpse pulled out of San Francisco Bay. Tom could not identify who it was.

Mosher remained in touch with Montgomery, giving him an exclusive interview in June, just before the senate subcommittee brought out two volumes devoted entirely to Tom's explosive testimony. Montgomery's article - followed by the official Senate publication - confirmed publicly for the first time that Mosher had worked for the FBI and CII. With encouragement from Montgomery, Mosher also gave a ghostwritten rehash to Reader's Digest, which gave him their "First Person Award" and $3,000 to supplement his income from official sources.

In all this coverage, Mosher scored a major propaganda coup for the FBI's Counterintelligence Programs, spicing his testimony with horror stories about the exploits of Bruce Franklin, the Black Panthers, JJ, and Carr, and the plan to free George Jackson. Tom also mixed his own rather sophisticated insights about the homegrown roots of the New Left with what some of his more conservative superiors wanted to hear about party-line directives from Moscow, Hanoi, and Havana. "The Black Panther Party, the faction of SDS known as Weatherman, and other independent groups are now being effectively directed and maintained by Cuban intelligence," he declared. Naturally, he ignored the FBI's Counterintelligence Programs with their deadly snitch jackets and assaults on civil liberties, and completely failed to mention his own role as a classic agent provocateur.

Two, Three, Many Crazy Toms

Following the release of his senate testimony, Mosher fled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to live in fear as Edward "Tim" Cox, protected from vengeance-seekers by a burly bodyguard. But even in hiding he had his uses, especially after August 21, 1971, the day prison guards at San Quentin shot and killed George Jackson. According to official accounts, Jackson had finally tried his long-expected bid for freedom, falling victim to his own ill-fated plan - or to betrayal by his comrades.

Almost immediately, the CII stepped up pressure on Jimmy Carr, who had been sitting in jail ever since April for an outburst during one of George Jackson's last court appearances. The CII wanted Carr to testify against Angela Davis for her alleged role in helping Jonathan Jackson in his earlier attempt to break George free. Publicly, the pressure began when Ed Montgomery broke the story of the letter from George Jackson supposedly found in Carr's back pocket, implicating Carr in helping plan the August 21 break-out attempt. If the letter was real, CII had kept their knowledge of it secret until the Montgomery story, as if wanting Jackson to try to escape.

Privately, CII threatened to revoke Carr's parole and indict him for the killing of Fred Bennett. But to pin the killing on Carr, or make him think they could, the authorities needed JJ, the only living witness to the crime. To find him, CII's David Foster talked to Mosher's friend Kent Mastores, and then wrote to Tom in Cambridge proposing a new deal for JJ, who had left British Columbia after learning of Mosher's Senate testimony.

"A lot depends on his giving the information we know he possesses, but if he will come in and do this, I am prepared to offer him full immunity," the plain-spoken Foster explained in his letter. "Think this over Tom and make some effort to contact JJ and get him to come in. We will get him sooner or later, and if he waits until after the Davis trial or we have a break and get the dope some other way, it will be too late."

Mosher agreed to try, eager to prove to JJ and to himself that he was really a friend. Not knowing where JJ was, he sent Foster's letter to the fugitive's parents, blotting out the mention of Mastores and some other embarrassing references - all of which we easily restored. He also enclosed an open airline ticket stolen from a travel agency in Amherst, and suggested in a separate note that JJ make a well-publicized surrender to former Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, whose son had been active in the Stanford anti-war movement. "I told you that you and I were both going to be free men," the provocateur declared. "I stand by this no matter what you choose to do."

As it happened, JJ's folks never got the letter to their son, who had fled to Trinidad. Then, early in 1973, the Trinidadian authorities arrested him on local charges, and when they discovered he was an authentic mad bomber, turned him over to the FBI for shipment back to California. For all JJ's running, the state had no real case against him other than the testimony of Mosher, whom no sane prosecutor would dare put on the stand. So, with the cooling of passions on all sides, JJ served five months in county jail and went free. "I was under the impression that the insurrection was about to break out," he recalled, a sad, long-ago smile flitting across his face.

In the meantime, JJ's insurrectionary comrade Jimmy Carr fared less well. At the end of December 1971, he walked out of jail amid rumors that he had turned informer, most likely the result of another snitch jacket planted by the law. Then, in April 1972, just as the Angela Davis trial was getting under way, two gunmen ambushed and shot him outside the Hammer house in San Jose. Within minutes, the police caught the assailants, but they never revealed who had ordered the killing.

That left Mosher, who returned home to Chicago, where I found him in 1982 working on the staff of a rightwing city council member. He seemed as crazy as ever, leaving me to hold a fully loaded .45 in the middle of a crowded restaurant while he and a friend stepped outside to have what seemed like a lover's spat. At the time I was making a PBS film on gun control. By then, I knew more than I ever wanted to know about Mosher's personal life, and a great deal more about the FBI COINTELPROS and similar undercover work by state police and local "Red Squads." As Congressional investigators, courts, and journalists had discovered, Mosher was only one of dozens of provocateurs that various agencies paid to disrupt and discredit black militants and the New Left.

Still, I can't help seeing a perverse payback in the law of unintended consequences. If, as I believe, the chaos of those years helped turn the average American against the war in Southeast Asia, the many Crazy Toms played a large and unheralded role in bringing home the troops. This is, of course, the perfect story, one that J. Edgar's heirs would never want told.

[1] Investigators on the Mosher project included Lenny Siegel, Herb Borok, Lee Herzenberg, and Anna Weissman.

A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he writes on international affairs.

Pelican Bay is not Enough!! Continuing the Struggle Against Extreme Isolation and Sensory Deprivation

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pelican Bay is not Enough!! Continuing the Struggle Against Extreme Isolation and Sensory Deprivation by Victoria Law

Last month, prisoners across California ended a nearly three-week hunger strike. The strikers, who numbered 12,000 at the strike's peak, had five core demands:

1) Eliminate group punishments for individual rules violations; 2) Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria; 3) Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) regarding an end to long term solitary confinement; 4) Provide adequate food; 5) Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates.

The strike, the second three-week hunger strike to rock California’s prison system this year alone, was called by men in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of California's Pelican Bay State Prison. The SHU is explicitly designed to keep prisoners in long-term solitary confinement under conditions of extreme sensory deprivation. Men are locked into their cells for at least 22 hours a day. Food is delivered twice a day through a slot in the cell door.

Nearly three weeks after the strike began, the CDCR promised both the hunger strikers and members of the outside mediation team to review every single SHU placement under new criteria. In response, the hunger strikers at Pelican Bay ended their strike on October 13th. Two days later, hunger strikers at Calipatria State Prison halted their strike, stating that they were enabling prisoners to regain their strength.

But the struggle over the SHU is only the beginning. Laura Magnani is the regional director of the American Friends Service Committee and served as a mediator during negotiations between the hunger strikers and the CDCR. She points out that, in 2008, 14,500 people in California's state prisons were held in some form of solitary confinement. Of those, only 3,500 were in Security Housing Units. The remaining 11,000 are held in other forms of isolation, such as Administrative Segregation. The promised changes to SHU policy will do little to ameliorate their own torture. Once the changes have been drafted, reviewed and approved, she said, advocates and supporters need to work to expand these new policies to non-SHU isolation units. (1)

Conditions of extreme isolation and sensory deprivation are not unique to California. Over the last 25 to 30 years, the use of extended solitary confinement has become more routine in U.S. prisons.

In 1986, the federal prison at Lexington, Kentucky, opened a control unit specifically for women political prisoners in 1986. It was built underground and entirely white. Women were prohibited from hanging anything on the white walls, causing them to begin hallucinating black spots and strings on the walls and floors. Their sole contact with prison staff came in the form of voices addressing them over loudspeakers. The unit was shut down in 1988 after an outside campaign and a court decision that determined their placement unconstitutional. The practice of solitary confinement continues today, however, with jailhouse lawyers and other incarcerated activists often targeted. (2)

Today, there are 20,000 people held in supermax prisons, institutions designed to permanently isolate each prisoner for the duration of his or her sentence. Supermax prisoners are confined to small cells 24 hours a day. Many of the cells have no windows and are soundproof. Visits, phone calls and mail from family and friends are severely restricted; reading material is censored. Exercise is a solitary pursuit in a small cage in a yard.(3)

Approximately 80,000 people are in some form of solitary confinement across the United States. In 1996, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, which manages the federal prison system, created the Special Administrative Measures (SAMS). Under SAMS, a prisoner is held in 23 to 24 hour solitary confinement. All of his mail is monitored and censored. He is only allowed contact with immediate family members. Under SAMS, they are not allowed to reveal their loved one’s condition or the conditions of his confinement. SAMs, which are considered “administrative,” not punitive, can be imposed on a prisoner who had been classified as violent for a maximum of four months. After September 11th, the time limit was expanded. The Attorney General can now place a person under SAMS for an entire year. When that year is over, he can renew the prisoner’s SAMS status. Prisoners can be and have been placed under SAMs during their pre-trial detention. Fahad Hashmi, a U.S. citizen accused of providing material support to terrorists, spent three years under SAMs before he even went to trial. At his sentencing, his speech was rapid. When asked to slow down, he apologized, noting that, because of his three years under SAMS, he has not had many occasions to talk to other people.(4)

The impact of extreme solitary confinement is not limited to Fahad Hashmi. Damion Echols was exonerated after spending 18 years in solitary confinement. During those 18 years, he had only walked in full restraints. Upon his release, he had to relearn how to walk. He also had to relearn how to see past a few feet; after 18 years, his eyes had become unused to seeing past the few feet inside his cell.(5)

Even a few weeks in solitary confinement can have drastic repercussions. Sarah Pender, held in solitary confinement in Indiana for three years, recently wrote about another woman on the solitary housing unit: "Just yesterday [she] was writing on the walls with her own blood. Before she cut her arms, she strangled herself with a shoestring until the guards found her purple. Before that, she used her fingernails to rip chunks of flesh out of her face. She had been held here for two months after essentially sassing a guard." (6)

People in the U.S. are increasingly recognizing the use of solitary as a means of legalized torture. In 1988, continued public pressure and advocacy led to the shutting down of the control unit at FCI Lexington. Today, activists, advocates, family members and community members are fighting to draw attention to these atrocities and publicly pressure authorities to either release individual prisoners into general population or to drastically change procedures around solitary confinement.

The ACLU and Indiana Protection Services Agency filed a class-action lawsuit against the Indiana Department of Corrections on behalf of all prisoners held in solitary housing units that suffered from mental illness. The Federal District Court for Southern Indiana heard the case over the summer and is expected to make a decision at the end of this year.(7) Pender, who notes that her three-year stay in isolation is "one of the longest periods a woman has ever been held in isolation for a single, non-violent act in Indiana history," filed a civil suit in April 2011 against specific prison officials raising similar claims regarding SHU conditions, lack of appropriate mental health care, and the mental health effects of solitary confinement. Other tactics have also been used to raise awareness and outrage around solitary confinement: In October 2009, Theaters Against the War, Educators for Civil Liberties and the Muslim Justice Initiative, along with individuals concerned about the human rights atrocities inflicted upon Fahad Hashmi by the SAMS, began holding weekly vigils outside the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. For seven months, these vigils continued with opera singers, theater artists, human rights and social justice activists supporting Hashmi’s friends, family and immediate community. As Hashmi’s trial neared, a call went out to fill the courtroom with supporters. The government responded by first asking for anonymity and extra security for the jury, thus implying that the jurors had reason to fear Hashmi’s supporters. It then dropped three of its charges, offering a 10 to 15 year sentence instead of a potential 70 year sentence if Hashmi pled guilty to the last remaining count of material support. The number of friends and supporters filled not only the courtroom but three overflow courtrooms on the day of Hashmi's sentencing.(8)

During the hunger strike started at Pelican Bay, family members, advocates, and concerned community members across the country acted to draw attention to the hunger strike. In Oakland, supporters held a weekly vigil on Thursday evenings. On July 9, 2011, supporters organized demonstrations in cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Nine days later, 200 family members, lawyers, and outside supporters from across California converged upon CDCR headquarters in Sacramento, delivered a petition of over 7,500 signatures in support of the hunger strikers, and then marched to Governor Brown’s office to demand answers. That same day, supporters in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City, and Philadelphia also held solidarity rallies.

Compelled by the hunger strike, its ensuing publicity, and community pressure on legislators, the California Assembly’s Public Safety Commission held a hearing on SHU conditions on August 23. Former SHU prisoners, family members, attorneys, advocates, and psychiatrists testified about the need for substantial changes to SHU policies and practices. When the hunger strike resumed again in September, so too did the actions to keep the strike—and the conditions prompting it—in public consciousness. On October 13, 2011, the day that the hunger strike ended at Pelican Bay, students, attorneys, civil rights activists, and family members convened at Brooklyn College for a one-day conference that connected the human rights atrocities in the federal prison system with the struggles of the prison justice movement. Attendees learned from each other’s struggles and experiences and built bridges between movements that often work separately.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, 60 people braved the November rain to rally outside the NC Division of Prisons. The protest was co-organized by anti-prison activists and members of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation, a group whose imprisoned members have been harassed and segregated within the NC prison system. Outraged by this harassment, the continued targeting of politically-active North Carolina prisoners, and the recent hunger strike in California, the rally focused on solitary confinement with banners stating, "Against Solitary—Love for All Prison Rebels," "Solitary is Torture" and "Against Prisons."

Protesters marched form the Division of Prisons to the rear of the men's Central Prison. Although police prevented the march from reaching the prison fence, the prisoners could see the protest from the windows and, in response, banged on the glass. Concerns about solitary confinement are not limited to activists, advocates and family members. The European Convention on Human Rights holds that the extreme isolation in ADX Florence amounts to torture, stating that “complete sensory isolation, coupled with total social isolation, can destroy the personality and constitutes a form of inhuman treatment which cannot be justified by the requirements of security or any other reason." On October 18, 2011, Juan Mendez, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, presented a written report on solitary confinement in the U.S. to the UN General Assembly’s Human Rights Committee. He stated that solitary confinement “can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment when used as a punishment, during pretrial detention, indefinitely or for a prolonged period, for persons with mental disabilities or juveniles. Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, supermax, the hole, secure housing unit…whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by states as a punishment or extortion (of information) technique.” He called for a ban on any type of solitary confinement exceeding 15 days.

What does all this mean for the 80,000 people isolated in extreme solitary confinement right now?

“It’s nearing the end of 2011,” wrote Todd Ashker, one of the hunger strikers at Pelican Bay. “How is it that thousands of prisoners in SHU-type units across the country are being subject to conditions the International Courts have condemned as torture?” (10)

On the day that the Pelican Bay hunger strike ended, Pardiss Kebriaei of the Center for Constitutional Rights exhorted the audience at Brooklyn College: “We need to build on the momentum of Pelican Bay, Bradley Manning and other cases.” (11)

Let us take these words—and the organizing of those both in and out of prison—as a call to action.

End Notes (1) Laura Magnani, telephone interview with author, October 14, 2011. (2) Cassandra Shaylor, “ ‘It’s Like Living in a Black Hole’: Women of Color and Solitary Confinement in the Prison-Industrial Complex” in Feminist Legal Theory: An Anti-Essentialist Reader, ed. Nancy E. Dowd and Michelle S. Jacobs (New York: NYU Press, 2003), 320. The court determined the women's placement unconstitutional since they were housed in the control unit because of their political beliefs. It did NOT rule that control units constituted cruel and unusual punishment. The U.S. Court of Appeals then ruled that prisons are free to use political associations and beliefs to justify different and harsher treatment. (3) Rachael Kamel and Bonnie Kerness, The Prison Inside the Prison: Control Units, Supermax Prisons, and Devices of Torture: A Justice Visions Briefing Paper. Philadelphia, PA: American Friends Service Committee, 2003. 2. (4) Fahad Hashmi allowed a visiting acquaintance to store waterproof socks, ponchos and raincoats in his London apartment. Prosecutors argued that these socks, ponchos and raincoats later ended up in the hands of Al-Qaeda. Hashmi was sentenced to 15 years in ADX Florence. His SAMS status remains. (5)David Fathi, Roundtable: Conditions of Confinement, The Civil Rights Crisis in the Federal System Post 9/11, Brooklyn College, October 13, 2011. (6)Sarah Jo Pender, "The Annals of Solitary Confinement," Tenacious: Art and Writings from Women in Prison 24, Fall/Winter 2011. (7) Pender, "The Annals of Solitary Confinement." (8) Fahad Hashmi was an undergraduate at Brooklyn College. Only weeks before the conference, it was revealed that the NYPD had been monitoring Muslim students and student groups at Brooklyn College. (9) Letter from Todd Ashker to author, dated September 25, 2011. (10) Pardiss Kebriaei, Roundtable: Conditions of Confinement. The Civil Rights Crisis in the Federal System Post 9/11, Brooklyn College, October 13, 2011. For more about Bradley Manning’s case, see

Victoria Law is a writer, photographer and mother. She is the author of "Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women" (PM Press 2009), the editor of the zine Tenacious: Art and Writings from Women in Prison and a co-founder of Books Through Bars - NYC. She is currently working on transforming "Don't Leave Your Friends Behind," a zine series on how radical movements can support the families in their midst, into a book.

Request for information on cases/complaints

Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2011

Ref: 2012-001413 B
Perotti v. Pa. Brod. Cink PA2568
Perotti v. R. Gupta and M. Andreis

Dear Sir,
I am making the following inquiry on behalf of John W. Perotti, inmate #39656-060 at
USP Florence:

1) What are the case numbers for the complaints Perotti filed against
a) Dr. R. Gupta, physician, USP Florence
b) RN M. Andreis, nurse at USP Florence
c) Nurse's Aide M. Scamardo, HIT office at USP Florence?
These complaints were filed with the Colorado Medical Board over 30 days ago. No
notification of receipt nor case number has been been issued to Perotti.

2) What is the present status of Perotti v. P.A. Brad Cink, Case no 2012-001413 B?
Why hasn't Perotti received a copy of the medical license of Mr. Cink (lic no. PA
2568), nor any disciplinary recommendations or reports per Public Records Act on Dr.
Gupta, nurse Andreis or M. Scarmado?

3) Can any physician work on federal land for the BOP and NOT be subject to
Colorado Medical Board Rules, law or statute? Does this mean that ANYONE can
practice medicine on federal land and NOT be subject to Colorado law?

Kindly see that Mr. Perotti receives the responses to which he is entitled, and
please send me an email reply so I am apprised as well.
Thank you.

Karen G. Thimmes
Columbus, Ohio

A Witness for Troy Davis: a Legalized Lynching

Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2011

Thomas Ruffin, Jr., Esquire © October-November 2011

“Stand Up! Testify! We Won’t Let Troy Davis Die!”
The militant chant of hundreds of mainly black, but also many white, protesters
marching on the state capitol building to a somber NAACP-Amnesty-International
prayer vigil in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, the night before the Troy Davis execution
on September 21, 2011.

On September 21, 2011, I witnessed the legalized lynching of my client,
Troy Anthony Davis, who died by “lethal injection” shortly before his
forty-third birthday. A funny man, and, indeed, a religious and
politically sensitive black man, Troy Davis assumed a very public role that
he never wanted: that of facing execution for a crime someone else
committed. Before then, he braved through the ordeal of being falsely
accused and tried in Savannah, Georgia, for the senseless murder of a white
police officer. After being convicted and sentenced to death in August
1991, Troy realized that, notwithstanding this nation’s simplistic claims
of equality and fairness, American courts do not provide an invisible
barrier called “justice” as protection for the wrongly accused, especially
those who are black and poor. After all, in the United States, poor
people, especially blacks and Latinos, face imprisonment and suffering,
including execution, at a rate vastly disproportionate to our numbers in
American society.

For example, in Georgia, where black males make up no more than about 15%
of the state’s population, black men comprise about 48.4% of Georgia’s
death row. In fact, in Georgia, where black people in general constitute
about 30% of the state’s population, we make up about 61.5% of Georgia’s
prison population. That is to say, about 33,669 of Georgia’s prison
population are black. After a close reading of history, we should not be
surprised. After all, from 1882 through 1923, white mobs in Georgia
publicly lynched 458 people, 95% or 435 of whom were black people of
African descent. Afterwards, from 1924 through the present, Georgia
“legally” executed 471 people, 74.9% or 353 of whom were black. Most, if
not all, of the executed, like the lynched victims before, never received
the protections in the law that well-to-do whites receive in Georgia.
However, in a system based in its origins on a form of white capital
supremacy, elected policy makers and other such elites seldom worry about
adequate legal protections for blacks and the poor.

In fact, in the United States, black people of African descent, or rather
those born in this country and whose first language is English, comprise an
estimated 12.2% to 13% of the American populace. However, black males make
up about fifty percent of the American prison population and, as of January
1, 2011, about 41.8% of America’s total death row population. To be sure,
for every 100,000 black males living in the United States on June 30, 2009,
about 4,749 were imprisoned. Hence, a total of perhaps 1,021,000 black men
(not including Hispanic black men) were imprisoned in June 2009. As of
August 27, 2011, federal prisons incarcerated about 217,582 people, about
37.9% of whom were black. As a matter of fact, by January 1, 2011, the
federal government imprisoned sixty-seven people on its death row, about
50.7% or thirty-four of whom were black men.

For similar examples, we should look at Maryland and Virginia, two
mid-Atlantic states. In Maryland, where black males make up about 14% of
the state population, and where the total black population constitutes no
more than about 28% of the state populace, the total prison and jail
population equals about 23,285 people, with about 77% of that number being
black. In the meantime, Maryland’s death row imprisons five men, 80% or
four of whom are black. Similarly, in Virginia, where black people
constitute about 20% of the state’s population, we make up about 68% of the
state’s prison and jail population of about 35,564. Furthermore, black
men, who constitute about 10% of Virginia’s population, make up at least
45.4% of the condemned on Virginia’s death row. In sum, for every 100,000
black people in Maryland, 1,579 live in Maryland prisons or jails. As for
Virginia, for every 100,000 black people, 2,331 are imprisoned by the
Virginia commonwealth. In contrast, for every 100,000 white people in
Maryland, merely 288 are incarcerated by the state. Similarly, for every
100,000 white people in Virginia, merely 396 are imprisoned by the

This pattern of racial bias persists throughout much of the United States,
at least where black people make up a sizable percentage of the state
population. In North Carolina, where black people make up about 21.5% of
the population, we make up about 51.5% of its death row population and
about 64% of its prison population. In South Carolina, where black people
constitute 29.5% of the populace, we comprise about 52.4% of the state’s
death row population and about 69% of its prison population. While these
and other examples from the south may be instructive, little difference
will come from a review of the north. In Ohio, for example, where black
people constitute about 11.8% of the population, we make up about 51.5% of
Ohio’s death row. Similarly, we make up about 52% of the state’s prison
population. Likewise, in Pennsylvania, where black people make up about
10.8% of the population, we provide a little more than 60.7% of the state’s
death row population and about 56% of its prison population.

Despite these numbers, black people do not commit most of the crimes in the
United States. As a matter of fact, black people never committed most of
the felony or misdemeanor offenses in the United States. Rather, we simply
faced in a racially disparate fashion deliberate targeting by American
police. In fact, according to a U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics report
titled Race of Prisoners Admitted to State and Federal Institutions,
1926-86, black people, in 1926, during some of the harshest conditions of
so-called “Jim Crow” or apartheid segregation, constituted no more than
about 21.4% of the American prison population. By 1950, the percentage
increased to 29.7%. Apparently, the trend towards focusing the
government’s police powers on black communities for prosecution and
imprisonment gradually increased over the last century, probably as
lynch-law and racial segregation waned while more discreet forms of
oppression became preferable. Over the years, this racially bigoted
pattern of policing resulted in a number of injustices.

At the end of the day, these injustices included the wrongful prosecution,
the twenty-two-year imprisonment, and, ultimately, the legalized lynching
of Troy Anthony Davis. As a result, many of us proclaim as an act of
solidarity that “I am Troy Davis”. Meanwhile, the insidious nature of the
machine that poisoned Troy to death can best be identified by the
politicians, the judges, the lawyers, the police, the prison employees, the
lobbyists, and the contractors who benefit from the system and who make
sure that it functions. These people long for a morally acceptable forum
for their constituencies’ blood lust. While never admitting to racial
bias, they can never escape the statistics that outline their collective
ambition for racially disproportionate executions. Nor can they credibly
dispute the sworn recantations by seven of the nine surviving witnesses
who, at first, testified against Troy Davis in August 1991 on the murder
charge, but who later confessed that they lied at trial against Troy and
often did so because of illegal pressures or suasion from local police. In
addition, the Georgia politicians and judges who maintain the death penalty
ignored the sworn proof offered by additional eyewitnesses who saw Officer
MacPhail’s murder, or who heard a confession to the crime, and who
ultimately disclosed under oath that Sylvester “Red” Coles, a police
informant, actually committed the murder or confessed to the crime, not
Troy Davis.

For those offended by Troy’s murder, we should honor the words “I am Troy
Davis” by working to abolish the American death penalty, and we should
insist upon achieving that goal within three to five years of Troy’s
execution. While pursuing this goal, we should also eliminate racially
disparate imprisonment in American society. As a partial remedy to the
fiscal troubles of the United States, we should demand that racially
disparate imprisonment and policing come to an end within three to five
years, if not immediately. As a matter of conscience and sound public
policy, the two causes must be linked. After all, the scourge of America’s
death penalty must end, and the pervasive system of police state apartheid
must be crushed into nonexistence, if the United States would atone for its
biased prosecutions against those who, because of incarceration, embody the
words “I am Troy Davis”.

At the end of the day, racial minorities should not be targeted for prison.
Innocents and the poor should not be legally lynched on America’s death
row. The American police state, with its history of racial slavery and
other forms of oppression, should not be trusted with seemingly unlimited
power to torment the poor and peoples of color. In other words, the
enforcement of the law should not be based upon its violation by the state.
Hence, if constitutional precepts such as “due process” and “equal
protection of the law” mean anything, then racially disparate prosecutions
and callous indifference to innocence should not be the norm. We should
oppose these evils until they no longer exist. In his last words, Troy
Davis issued more or less this same mandate late at night on September 21,
2011, while strapped down to a gurney in a rural Georgia prison. Many of
us heard Troy’s mandate. The question before us today is whether we will
fulfill it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Freedom Now For Fumiaki Hoshino-Rally At SF Japan Consulate

START DATE: Monday November 28
TIME: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Location Details:
50 Fremont St. at Corner of Mission St.
San Francisco, CA

Event Type: Press Conference
11/28 12:00 Noon SF Protest/Action At Japan Consulate To Demand Freedom
For Fumiaki Hoshino (corrected address)
50 Fremont St./Mission St. near Old Transbay Terminal
San Francisco

Fumiaki Hoshino is one of the longest political prisoners in the world. He
helped organize a protest in November 14, 1971 against the "Okinawa
Reversion Agreement" which helped allow the US to base nuclear weapons in
Okinawa. A policeman and women trade unionist were killed and he was
framed up and charged with the murder. He has been in jail under
repressive conditions for over 37 years. A US support committee has been
organized to demand his freedom and will be having a press conference and
picket and will demand that the Japanese government release him

US Hoshino Defense Committee

Also please send solidarity statements to:
k_kanayama19711114 [at]

11/27 International Solidarity Day For Japanese Fumiaki
Hoshino/Action-Solidarity Messages Requested



Dear Friends,
On November 27, we will hold a National Rally to free Fumiaki Hoshino in
Tokyo. Please send your solidarity message to the rally.
Fumiaki Hoshino is an innocent political prisoner fighting behind bars for
37 years—one of the longest detained political prisoners of the world. The
Japanese prison system is extremely oppressive: most of his friends cannot
visit him.
On November 14, 1971, Fumiaki Hoshino led one of the student contingents
of the demonstration against so-called “Okinawa Reversion Agreement”,
which in reality helped maintain the US military bases with nuclear
arsenal in Okinawa. One of the riot policemen died during the crash with
demonstrators. Hoshino was framed as “the perpetrator”; the prosecution
demanded death penalty, the courts sentenced to life imprisonment.
He is innocent. There is no physical evidence whatsoever. Only the
“depositions of the six demonstrators” made in closed interrogation rooms
in the police stations were the “evidence of guilt.” Five of the
eyewitnesses recanted, claiming police and prosecution coercion. Remaining
one refused to testify in the open courts. On top of it, the police “lost”
the videotape of the demonstration, in which Hoshino’s contingent had
Hoshino filed an application for retrial based on newly discovered photos
that clearly contradict his alleged involvement in the death of the
A broad coalition of labor unions, other organizations and individuals are
now increasing their efforts to free Hoshino.
International solidarity is also developing. Last July, we were given an
opportunity to hold two events in San Francisco LaborFest: “Hoshino Art
Show” and “Labor & Political prisoners: From Hoshino To Mumia.”
The National Coordinating Center of Labor Unions—an organization of
militant labor unions and labor activists in Japan—decided to show its
solidarity with Hoshino, holding its annual convention next February in
Tokushima City near the Tokushima Prison where Hoshino is detained.
Please send your solidarity message to the November 27 rally. It will
greatly help free Hoshino.
Thank you so much in advance.
In Solidarity,
Hoshino Defense Committee
Send Message Of Solidarity to
k_kanayama19711114 [at]

Appeal from “Free Hoshino Fumiaki! National Coordinating Conference for


Co-Chair of the Conference

Spouse of HOSHINO Fumiaki

Brothers and Sisters, thank you for your struggles in your workplaces and
Hoshino Fumiaki is an innocent political prisoner in Tokushima Prison. He
has spent 36 years in detention. He appeals, “Workers who produce
everything and run the society have the power to smash enemy attacks,
transform workplaces and whole society, get back all the properties from
capitalists and emancipate all human beings. Get back the power of labor
movement, free the anger of all of workers and people! Build unity of all
workers and people across the borders!”

On November 14, 1971, Fumiaki took part in the demonstration in Shibuya,
Tokyo, against the ratification of the Agreement on the Reversion of
Okinawa, which was strengthening of war efforts, especially the
reorganization and enhancement of the US military bases in Okinawa. The
secret pact on nuclear weapons was also included in the Agreement.

During the course of the demonstration, one riot policeman died and the
police framed up and charged Fumiaki on criminal homicide. Also the
Supreme Court sentenced him life imprisonment.

I married with him in 1986 while he was in prison. Since then I have been
living and struggling together with Fumiaki against Japanese inhumane
prison system, which prohibits even a minimal human contact: I cannot
touch his hands.

Fumiaki did not engaged in the death of the riot policeman. He is
innocent. The police framed and arrested many students who had
participated the demonstration and forced them to “confess” the “crime” of
Hoshino. In the open court five of the six students who “confessed”,
withdrew their “testimonies.” Remaining one student refused to testify
altogether. Nevertheless the court admitted the “confession” in a closed
interrogation room as evidence and rejected the testimonies in the open

The first application for retrial was refused. The Supreme Court, however,
admitted that Fumiaki wore at the time “light blue clothes” instead of
“biscuit clothes” which was the previous story of the framed up sentences.

We filed second application for retrial on November 27, last year.

The Tokushima Prison has punished Fumiaki two times, in order to obstruct
our movement for retrial. Seven of his friend were refused to visit him.
My letters were censored and partially erased four times. Even the wife of
the prisoner, myself was prohibited to visit him. And the prison
management “consider lawyers’ visits general visits and limit the time and
the prison officers watch on the side of the lawyers.

We will file a lawsuit under national redress law. Protests from around
the world are surely very effective. Please send protest and encouragement
letters to the government and to Fumiaki. He himself said that his task is
to encourage everyone.

In 1971, many workers and students in mainland Japan rose up for Okinawa
struggle at the risk of their own lives. The life imprisonment of Fumiaki
was retaliation against this historic struggle. This is also an exemplary
punishment on Fumiaki who continues the struggles of 1970 and creates
today’s Okinawa and anti- Anpo (Japan US Security Alliance) struggles in
prison. Furthermore, the oppression against Fumiaki is meant to destroy
the struggles of workers and people including Doro-Chiba outside the

Smash the divide and conquer policy! Take back Hoshino Fumiaki with the
power of international solidarity. Please support us to free my beloved
husband, Fumiaki, and to corner the Kan administration of Democratic
Party. Please join the national rally for free Hoshino.

Let’s take back political prisoners of the world, including Mumia Abu
Jamal, with international solidarity!

All workers, fight together across borders! Fight back together against
capitalists who shift blames of global financial meltdown to workers!
Let’s organize the Nation-wide Movement of National Railway Struggle and
create a perspective for workers to live our own lives!

Urgent appeal to all working people of the world
Free innocent HOSHINO Fumiaki from 35 years’ imprisonment

March 2010

Free Hoshino! National Coordinating Conference for Retrial

(1) Who is brother HOSHINO Fumiaki and how he has been fightingBrother
HOSHINO Fumiaki, an innocent political prisoner, has spent 35 years in
incarceration. He has been fighting an unflinching and uncompromising
struggle against the state power, refusing every attempt to convert him.
Brother Hoshino puts the principle of his struggle as follows: “Hoshino
struggle is one and same as the struggle of working class for
emancipation” He is a revolutionary who is fighting for the emancipation
of working class from capitalism in death agony of the global economic

He was born on April 27, 1946 in Sapporo, Hokkaido and now 63 years old.

US military bases in Okinawa

In the great Okinawa struggle on November 14, 1971, as a student of
Takasaki City University of Economics, he assumed a leading role in
organizing demonstration. During violent clashes between demonstrators and
police, 313 demonstrators were arrested and a woman education worker of
Osaka, one of the demonstrators, was killed and a riot police was dead.
Successively on November 19, Okinawa struggle was fought across the
country with over 1900 demonstrators arrested.

As an apparent retaliation for the explosive development of Okinawa
struggle, police unduly incriminated brother Hoshino, who stood at the
forefront of the battle with riot police, as suspect of killing a
policeman. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and is in prison. He is
now filing the second application for retrial.

(2) Okinawa struggle and brother Hoshino

Okinawa was put under direct Japanese domination in 1609 and has since
been suffering under discrimination and oppression by Japanese government.
In World War II, as an outcome of the intensified strife among imperialist
powers after the Great Depression in 1929, Okinawa people were brutally

After World War II, Okinawa was treated as a matter of interests of US and
Japanese governments and finally was delivered to US military
administration by Emperor Hirohito who proposed, by his letter to the US,
to offer Okinawa instead of his life. Thus Okinawa was forced to live
under US military domination for 27 years. The life in Okinawa during
these years was full of humiliation, deprived of sovereignty, human pride
and also lands to live on and sometimes even lives were threatened.

Furious at this situation, people in Okinawa vigorously fought against US
oppression, demanding, “return to Japan”. The US military base in Okinawa
was seriously shaken by the insistent struggle comprising the whole
population of Okinawa.

Faced with this mounting anger of people of Okinawa, Japanese and US
governments decided, in 1971, to return administrative right to Japan only
to maintain the present situation of Okinawa as “island of US bases”
forever, averting the demand of the inhabitants of Okinawa. People of
Okinawa responded to the deceptive return of Okinawa to Japan by a general
strike of whole Okinawa on November 10, 1971.

Japanese government, firmly determined to ratify the Okinawa Return
Agreement in the Diet, prohibited all rallies and demonstrations in Tokyo
to suppress protest actions against the Okinawa policy. On November 14,
militant demonstrators headed by brother Hoshino, defying the ban, crushed
the cordon of the riot police that attacked demonstrators with tear-gas
gun and marched to join tens of thousands of sympathizing masses of people
in Shibuya, downtown Tokyo. The battle continued until midnight. .

The Shibuya battle was a powerful struggle, carried out, in solidarity
with fighting people in Okinawa, by young workers and students, of whom
313 were arrested on the spot, against the discriminating policy of
Japanese government.

The government was violently shaken by the explosive struggle of angry
working people and feared that it would develop into a serious threat to
Japan-US Security Alliance. They resorted to retaliation by charging
brother Hoshino, one of the prominent leaders of the demonstration, for
allegation of killing a riot policeman, knowing very well that he was

The state power demanded death sentence but this attempt was crushed by
the strong protest action by wide range of people led by workers. After
court proceedings in three instances, in which the state power desperately
tried to retaliate brother Hoshino, the sentence of life imprisonment was
determined in 1987. It is a political attempt of intimidating fighting

(3) Brother Hoshino is innocent

Brother Fumiaki Hoshino has been consistently insisting upon his innocence
for 35 years since his arrest. This is the strongest proof of his

Only evidence of guilt was fabricated “affidavits” of six witnesses who
participated in the student demonstration, including three minors. There
is no physical evidence to prove him guilty. They testified in the trial
that their affidavits were made under the pressure of the interrogators in
an isolated room for a long duration and that their statements were forged

Though all affidavits of the six witnesses proved to be invalid in the
trial, the Tokyo High Court sentenced brother Hoshino to life
imprisonment. This is an unusual and outrageous deed of Japanese juridical
authorities. An appeal for retrial raised by brother Hoshino was dismissed
on July 14, 2008 by the Supreme Court with an implausible reasoning that
is completely illogical.

To overturn this, brother Hoshino and the defense council for the retrial
filed an application for retrial for the second time on November 27, 2009
with new evidences including 27 items.

The statement of the second application for retrial clarifies that the
sentence of life imprisonment on brother Hoshino is a hundred percent
political frame-up by the security agency.

After the Shibuya struggle in 1971, police conducted, with a presumption
that overwhelming majority of the demonstrators was workers, overall
arrests, investigations and interrogations of workers who were regarded to
have participated in the demonstration of Shibuya battle for more than two
months in vain.

The security police, driven into a corner, targeted the investigation on
brother Hoshino, conspicuous leader of the demonstration, and the fellow
students of his university in Gunma Prefecture and forced indiscriminating
mass arrests of those students. Finally police decided to set up brother

The new evidences consist of three points: a) A photo taken by police
during the demonstration shows that the iron pipe which brother Hoshino
carried after the “incident” had no trace of damage (he is accused of
beating the policeman by the iron pipe); b) Another photo of brother
Hoshino standing at crossroad long away from the “spot” of the incident,
c) the third photo, showing a demonstrator wearing biscuit clothes, that
coincides with the deposition of one of the witnesses that “One of the
demonstrators who beat the policeman wore biscuit clothes” (brother
Hoshino wore “sky blue” clothes on that day, which even the Supreme Court
was compelled to recognize)

(4) “Free Hoshino” movement

“Free Hoshino” movement has been developed by progressive labor unions and
citizens to protest against the political frame-up on brother Hoshino who
was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment. Now more than 20 support
organizations have been organized all over Japan through a devoted effort
of sister Akiko, who got married with brother Hoshino in prison.Brother
Hoshino is calling on working people all over the world to rise up for the
struggle of self-emancipation now. He is encouraged by the development of
the struggle of angry workers in face of the global economic crisis.

If we resolutely rise up now, we can overturn the bitter history of defeat
that working people experienced in the period that started from the Great
Depression in 1929 and ended up in the disaster of World War II. This is a
voice of brother Hoshino who continues his unflinching struggle in prison
for 35 years.

We are firmly convinced that the struggle to free innocent brother Hoshino
and the struggle of working class of the world for self-emancipation is
one and the same.

Brother Hoshino is watching the struggle of brother Mumia Abu-Jamal and
the movement to support him with deep sympathy and admiration.

We call on the working people of the whole world to help us take back
brother Hoshino as soon as possible in our arms in solidarity with the
Korean workers fighting against the repression of the state power and all
the political prisoners against tyranny and persecution.

Working people all over the world! Let’s fight together to free all
political prisoners as our own task!

A short biography

1945 April.27: Born in Sapporo City, Hokkaido

1965: Enters Takasaki City University of Economics, elected as
vice-president of the Student Autonomous Body and fought against
irregularity of the entrance examination

1971: Placed on the wanted list for the struggle in Sanrizuka against the
Narita airport construction

1971 Nov.14: Joins the Struggle against ratification of the Agreement on
the Reversion of Okinawa (the “Battle of Shibuya”). One policeman burned
to death during the clash with demonstrators.

1975: Arrested.

1979: Demanded death penalty. First trial. Sentenced to 20-year imprisonment

1983: Appeal Court. Sentenced to life imprisonment.

1986 Sep.17: Married with Akiko.

1987 Jul. 17: Final appeal dismissed. Life imprisonment decided.

Oct. 30: Sent to Tokushima Prison.

1996: The first application for a new trial.

2007: Publication of “FumiAkiko”, a joint work of drawings of brother
Fumiaki Hoshino and poems of sister Akiko Hoshino

2008 Jul.14: Supreme Court dismisses the raised special complaint.

2009 Nov. 27: Files second application for a new trial.
Appendex: New Evidences Clearly Show Hoshino’s Innocence

New Evidence 1

His iron pipe has no trace of damage — Comrade Hoshino in front of the
Tokyu Head Shop.

Figure 1 (Evidence for the Defense No. 16) is a macro photograph of
Comrade Hoshino from a picture taken shortly after the demonstrators
arrived in front of the Tokyu Head Shop, passing the site where the
policeman in question was beaten. It clearly shows that the iron pipe
carried by Comrade Hoshino has no trace of damage.

The iron pipe in the hand of Comrade Hoshino, was wrapped by a piece of
paper. If this pipe had been used to beat the policeman, the paper should
have been ripped or torn apart. The paper rolled on the iron pipe carried
by him was not at all damaged — that means that it was never used to beat
the policeman. The accusation that comrade Hoshino beat the policeman is a
complete fabrication. It is evidently proved by this picture.

New Evidence 2

His statement of witnessing reflection of light on the windshields at
Kamiyama East Crossing verified

Comrade Hoshino has maintained for 35 years that he was at Kamiyama East
Crossing at the moment of question, but not at the site where the
policeman was beaten. . “When I looked up, at the crossing, toward the NHK
building (standing at a certain distance from there),” he said, “I saw
cars running from the direction of the NHK building and their windshields
were shining.”

The weather was cloudy, and it was an hour before the sunset. Nobody ever
imagined that windshields would shine, reflecting light. The defense team
made an investigation at the crossing following Comrade Hoshino’s demand,
and did verify that the windshields of cars were reflecting lights under
the similar condition. This fact could only be learned by a person who
stood on at that particular crossing, on that particular day, at that
particular time; it corresponds to what you call “revelation of secret.”

Figure 2 (Evidence for the Defense No. 7) was taken shortly before 3:23
p.m. on November 14 this year. On that day it was cloudy and light
rainfall in the morning had just stopped; although it seemed to be
cloudier than at the time of the incident, the defense was able to verify
the “windshields of running cars were reflecting light” and took
photographs of these facts.

He had to be at the crossing

Comrade Hoshino was the commander of about 200 demonstrators who got off
at Yoyogi-Hachiman, a nearby railway station to Shibuya, the battlefield.
After the first battle in front of Kamiyama Police Box, he was obliged to
stay at the head of demonstrators in order to reorganize the ranks of
demonstrators. He ran, and stopped when no other demonstrator was ahead of
him— it was the Kamiyama East Crossing there.

To keep a lookout on every direction, watching the possible move of riot
police attacking from any direction, and to wait for other demonstrators’
arrival to continue the battle— that was the only concern of Comrade
Hoshino at the crossing. He soon saw the riot police approaching from the
direction of NHK building. Tension mounted, and the road was filled with
demonstrators. “Move on!” he shouted, and left there.

It was the event of 40-50 seconds from the capture of the policeman in
question to the departure. During that time, Comrade Hoshino could not and
did not leave the crossing. There he learned the approach of riot police
from the direction of NHK building and saw the reflected light on the
windshields of running cars. If he had been at the site where the
policeman was beaten, he could not have seen those things.

New Evidence 3

“HE wore biscuit clothes” — Witness Kr. did not really see him

Witness Kr. stated that “One of the demonstrators who beat the policeman
wore biscuit clothes” consistently from the questioning to the trial. As
is evident also from the released depositions of two third persons who
witnessed the scene of beating the policeman — Witness Ab. and Witness Fk.
both witnesses referred to the man who wore “ocher work suit” or “beige
thin coat” as the most impressive person on the scene of beating. Both
expressions are close to “biscuit” color.

Contrary to the Supreme Court, Witness Kr. did not see Comrade Hoshino who
wore the “washy blue” clothes and took its color into “biscuit.”

Figure 3 (Evidence for the Defense No. 12) was taken by Photographer Ut.,
who belonged to the Photograph Department of the Asahi Shimbun at that
time, and another picture taken also by him in the vicinity of Figure 3
was placed in The Weekly Asahi (December 3, 1971).

This picture took from the front the demonstrators who confronted riot
police forming a line in front of Kamiyama Police Box.

This picture clearly shows that the demonstrators included a man who wore
“biscuit” clothes.

Comrade Hoshino was wearing “sky blue (washy blue)” clothes on that day,
which even the Supreme Court was compelled to recognize. Although the
color of his clothes was bright and impressive while the most other
clothes were dark, neither third-person witnesses — Ab. and Fk. — nor six
“fellows in crime” have stated that the “strikers” included a person who
wore the “sky blue” clothes.