Twenty First Century Political Prisoner: Real and Potential
BY RUSSELL SHOATZ
Ever since the mid 1960’s there has been a struggle in this country over whether it holds Political Prisoners (PP’s). In particular, whether or not Blacks fighting against racism should be looked on as PP’s when jailed for related offenses. Moreover, that struggle intensified after it was later learned that the Federal, State and local Governments and their Agencies conspired and carried out it’s Counter-intelligence Program known as COINTELPRO. Furthermore, it was discovered that COINTELPRO not only targeted Blacks, but also Native Americans, Whites and many groups and individuals who had absolutely no idea that this was taking place… even after suffering from it’s suppression, repression, jailings and deaths.
In time, never the less, it became accepted amongst a sizeable segment of people that there were, in fact, PP’s jailed in this country: former Black Panthers, White anti-imperialists, American Indian Movement members, Move members, Black Liberation Army fighters, Puerto Rican nationalists and Chicano/Mexican fighters; as well as all of their offshoots and supporters.
Furthermore, the struggles surrounding these groups and the fight against racism and this countries aggression in Vietnam caused many otherwise politically “unconscious” prisoners to join the fight which created a new segment of PP’s, who after going to prison for committing social crimes, became politically active there, George Jackson remains a model of that type of PP.
By and large, however, those PP’s struggles have been kept on the margins for over 30 years. Although they still remain strongly supported by those aware of them, outside of the governments (suppression) forces.
Ironically, it is the ongoing government suppression that is causing many to examine the whole subject of PP’s and how it should be viewed and dealt with. In that regard, what’s becoming cleared everyday is that in addition to the above “Real Political Prisoners”, there’s literally “hundreds of thousands” of other Potential Political Prisoners” being held in prisons in this country! Some fall in the below categories and are being held in line with:
Death Row convictions
3 Strike and Mandatory sentences
Life without parole
Juveniles sentenced as adults
Muslims and “suspected’ foreign terrorists
1980’s Mariel, Cuban migrants (boat people)
Note: Some of the Real Political Prisoners are also Prisoners of War (POW’s): namely those jailed for fighting to gain independence of self-determination for their peoples.
Since the catastrophic events on “911” it’s roundly agreed that this country jails and holds PP’s suspected of being terrorists, or in league with them. Indeed, the government goes out of it’s way to “terrorize” the general public with warnings of what the (other) Muslim terrorist will do if they are not given more power to imprison and ruthlessly suppress ”anyone” they choose.
On the other hand, hardly a day goes by without the public being bombarded with images of the rounding up and jailing of migrants from Mexico, Central America or Haiti.
Joining them, moreover, are sensational shots of police with guns drawn trying to identify, catalog and arrest (so called) dangerous gang members.
And, of course, the ongoing battles over the death penalty, 3 Strikes and Mandatory sentencing law cannot escape the consciousness of the majority of this countries citizen.
In fact, the only categories within the aforementioned 10 that are not widely known and debated are life without parole, juveniles sentenced as adults, environmental/ecological defense, the 1980’s Mariel, Cuban migrants and right wingers, although the Oklahoma City bombing is a exception.
Regrettably, we cannot reach a consensus on a definition as to just what makes one a PP; the above, notwithstanding, leaves this author to adamantly insist on viewing all of his 10 categories as Potential Political Prisoners! Simply because clear (to some) “political” considerations overshadow the actual alleged criminal acts that landed them in prison. Let’s examine them:
Death Penalty: against 90% of the worlds laws and only kept so that “politicians” can appear “tough on crime”.
3 Strikes and Mandatory Sentences: Instituted by “tough on crime politicians” after their failure to address the underlying causes of the crimes.
Life without parole: Only practiced in a few states and should be outlawed because it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, but tough on crime “politicians” protect it.
Juveniles sentenced as adults: Only applies to certain states and is against International law all together! Again, “tough on crime politicians” protect this violation of the Constitution and International law.
Immigration law violators: Migrants commit no crime in crossing artificial borders seeking to better their lives! The government recognizes that when it allows certain migrants (like “regular” Cubans) to stay in the country.
Environmental/Ecological defenders: They almost never harm any people, but instead concentrate on disrupting the work of people who themselves are attacking everyone by destroying the environment and ecology that sustains us. They too must be suppressed by our “tough on crime, clueless politicians”.
Muslims and suspected foreign terrorists: Since 911 thousands of Muslims and “suspected” foreign terrorists have been jailed, but less then a handful have been convicted of anything! The overwhelming majority are victims of a ruthless bunch of status climbing public bureaucrats, politicians, conflict profiteers and plain old racists!
Gang members: This group is very, very rarely offered any comprehensive programs designed to channel their energies into anything productive! Why? Because most of our educators and politicians having already failed them ”before” they join gangs, chose to abandon them to the police, courts and jail system.
Right-wingers: They’re usually close to the government (as far as immediate aims go) and are allowed to do pretty much as they choose. They, however, are targeted for suppression whenever their “political and law enforcement allies” think they’re becoming too independent.
1980’s Mariel, Cuban migrants (boat people): In the past the government tried to return them to Cuba, with no success. So, to cover the “politicians” total lack of ideas about what to do about them, they’re just kept beyond the laws ability to do anything but keep them locked up.
Finally, there’s another little understood and / or accepted factor that, although not touching all 10 categories, still accounts for more of the “ hundreds of thousands of 21st Century Potential Political Prisons” than any other: The so-called “War on Drugs”. I will not go into it in depth, except to state that that War accounts for 4 of our categories containing astronomical numbers due to the conscious, illegal, immoral, racist, shortsighted and (ultimately) genocidal decisions taken by this countries top former and present politicians; it’s major bankers, foreign government political and military allies; the domestic police, courts and prison administrators.
On the other hand, all of those jailed as a result of the parts they played in “the drug game”, although conscious actors, little did they know that they were truly (unconscious) “pawns” in a international, high stakes game of “Drugs, Money, Racism, Political Corruption and Prisons = GENOCIDE!”
The real criminals all got away!!! Clearly then, when the “player/pawns” really wake up to the fact that they were “played”, and they’re no more guilty then those who continue to make, enforce and get rich off of their misery, then maybe they will join the Drug War “victims” and the Real Political Prisoners in fighting for justice!
Review the accompanying schematic drawing for a graphic outline of some of the above; then, the next moves are on you….
Russell “Maroon” Shoatz #AF-3855
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg PA 15370 USA