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Berkeley Resolution Calls on Dropping of All Charges Against The SF8

February 10, 2008
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Calling ON THE Attorney General of the State of California to dismiss ALL charges against the San Francisco 8. Endorsed by the City Council of Berkeley, CA on November 6, 2007 (Vote of 8 to 1, 1 abstention)

WHEREAS, the Peace and Justice Commission advises the City Council on all matters relating to the City of Berkeley’s role in issues of peace and social justice (Berkeley Municipal Code (BMC) Chapter 3.69.070); and

WHEREAS, Herman Bell, Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Henry (Hank) Jones, Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), Richard O’Neal, Harold Taylor and Francisco Torres, collectively known as the San Francisco 8, are a group of community activists who have devoted their lives to serving the people and making a difference and are fathers, grandfathers, and even great grandfathers; and

WHEREAS, all of these men were members or associates of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, a primary target in the FBI’s illegal COINTELPRO program, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, designed to destroy and disrupt a number of progressive organizations and individuals; and

WHEREAS, in 1973, three Black activists were tortured by New Orleans police and interrogated by two San Francisco detectives at intervals between the torture, which lasted several days, during which the three men were separated from each other, stripped naked, covered with wool blankets soaked in boiling water, beaten with slapjacks, suffocated with plastic bags tied over their heads, sleep deprived, kicked, beaten and shocked with electric cattle prods on their genitals, anus and under the neck; and

WHEREAS, statements resulting from that torture were used to bring charges in the mid-1970s in several jurisdictions (including charges for the 1971 killing of a San Francisco Police Officer), and all of them were dismissed when the judges learned of the coercion; and

WHEREAS, after 36 years, new charges were brought against the San Francisco 8 based on the “evidence” of the same confessions obtained under torture in 1973; and

WHEREAS, the people of Berkeley believe in justice and not in persecution.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Council of the City of Berkeley states publicly that evidence acquired under torture is abhorrent to civilized people, and not reliable, and urges the Attorney General to dismiss all charges against the San Francisco 8 where evidence has been gained by torture, and sends a letter to the Attorney General conveying this Resolution.

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