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Black Riders Held on Million Dollars Bail Each

February 10, 2008

Dec. 8, 2007

The state’s cases against T. A. C. O., Aryana and Stress, which T. A. C. O. described as “b. s.” to defense attorney Guillermo Suarez, are based on the testimony of an undercover cop who alleges that he approached the Black Riders, pretending to be Lebanese and connected to freedom fighters in the Middle East. He claims that the three defendants were involved in a plot to take possession of weapons and protective vests that he claimed to be able to provide them. No weapons were ever involved. These charges are essentially for a “Thought crime” – allegedly conspiring to attempt to possess weapons.

Special District Attorney Goudy told defense attorney Guillermo Suarez, “You’re lucky I wasn’t here when you asked for reduced bail for (Black Rider Liberation Party member) Aryana Gladney (a motion which was denied by the judge, who left bail at half a million dollars). I was planning to ask for an increase.” Goudy went on to get bails of $1 million each on two other leading members of the Black Riders, General T.A.C.O. (Taking All Capitalists Out) and comrade Stress. The three appeared briefly on Monday Dec. 3 in two different courtrooms of LA. County Criminal Courts, on weapons conspiracy charges. Aryana and Stress were in Div. 38 for a preliminary hearing, where the judge agreed to a postponement until Wednesday (the D.A. had asked for an additional week). T.A.C.O. was brought separately and individually into Div. 30 for an arraignment, where a deputy “alternate public defender” read him the charges against him, and he pleaded not guilty. T.A.C.O. was manacled at the
waist and his wrists were shackled to the waist chain, and was guarded by two armed deputies on his right and left.

He is under a “keep away” order, isolated from all other general population prisoners, even while being brought into court. He is being held under conditions of solitary confinement in a security housing unit near the Twin Towers jail in downtown L.A. The LA Sheriff’s Department “accidentally” recorded his name wrong on his booking so that friends and supporters could not find him in the system for nearly a week until he was brought into court for the arraignment. Aryana was moved around and ended up in the sheriff’s Lynwood jail, and Stress is being held up in Santa Clarita. The three co-defendants have yet to be able to meet together. Stress was told by his public defender that he might not be brought down for Wednesday’s court appearance, but only be shown the proceedings over closed circuit TV. The preliminary hearing will probably result in another postponement (just what the D.A. wanted), because T.A.C.O.’s attorney will not have had any time to prepare.

Despite the seriousness of the felony conspiracy charges, which also include a “gang enhancement,” (even though the Black Riders are not a gang but work with “gang” youth to defuse internecine violence), and the extraordinarily high bails, neither the D.A.’s office nor the Los Angeles Police Dept. have made the case or the charges public. They are attempting, under the cover of a media white-out and the separation and the isolation of the defendants, to carry out a railroad and disrupt the efforts of the Black Riders to build gang truces, Black-Brown unity, and a campaign to free political prisoners like the San Francisco Eight (for Black Panther Party members and associates). Separately, another leading member of the BRLP, sister Nadia Shakur, is being held in San Bernardino County on weapons charges that were filed and once dropped stemming from a raid of a house in Highland, CA last summer. Nadia and T.A.C.O. had been arrested in Pinole, CA, near Oakland in northern California on the same day that Stress and Aryana were picked up on the streets of Los Angeles. Nadia is not due to appear in court until Monday, December 10. A number of other members of the BRLP are also doing time or facing less serious charges due to the constant criminalization and harassment of the Black Riders as revolutionary community organizers and street activists.

The state’s case against T.A.C.O., Aryana and Stress, is based on the testimony of an undercover cop who alleges he approached the Riders pretended to be Lebanese and connected to freedom fighters in the Middle East. He claims that the three were involved in a plot to take possession of weapons and protective vests he claimed to be able to provide them. The charges are so specious that the D.A. filed an amended complaint on Monday claiming only “attempted possession” of automatic weapons (since there were absolutely no grounds presented for the original charge of ‘possession’ — no weapons were ever involved). So, like the warrant on the San Bernardino raid (an event which is wrapped into the narrative of the criminal complaint here), these charges are essentially for a “thought crime” – allegedly conspiring to attempt to possess weapons. The actual crime of the Black Riders are their actual thoughts — revolutionary-minded advocacy of Black liberation and anti-capitalism. As the LAPD says in the summary of their “investigation,” “The BRLP, self-described as a revolutionary communist organization out of South Central Los Angeles…is known to be anti-government, anti-police and pro-Black unity.

BRLP members believe that the Black community would be better served if they governed their own people. They also believe that the system of capitalism is oppressive and dehumanizing to the Black community.”

Of General T.A.C.O., the LAPD says: “He believes that instead of rival gang members fighting each other, they should turn their anger and rage at the real enemy, the oppressive state and the police.” A fairly accurate summary of the Black Riders’ believe, and damning admission of the true reason the state and the police are trying to lock them up.

It’s no accident or coincidence that the arrests took place while several of the Black Riders were up in northern California building support for the SF8 political prisoners, or that they were scheduled to appear in court on December 3, the same day as a hearing was scheduled in San Francisco on the SF Eight. The state is threatened by the revolutionary example of the elders and the revolutionary energy and commitment of the youth in the Black liberation struggle, and seeks to disrupt their unity and the efforts of the BRLP to develop struggle to free all political prisoners in the Black community. It is also not coincidental that this attack takes place after the BRLP helped lead a successful and widely publicized Black-Brown mobilization against the white supremacist Minuteman organization in Leimert Park. The L.A. Sentinel had just run a feature-length article and interview with the Black Riders in the wake of that demonstration. The attack on the Riders is an attack on the Black community as a whole, on conscious activists seeking to defuse Black-on-black violence and Black-Brown tensions, and on all committed to liberation for oppressed people or freedom for political prisoners.

The Black Riders Liberation Party can be contacted, and donations can be sent to: Black Riders, P.O. Box 8297, Los Angeles, CA 90008.

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