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Jericho 10/10 march

May 10, 2009

BY ASHANTI ALSTON

Ashanti Alston is Co-chair, National Jericho Movement

Marpessa Kupendua said back on 1998:

“The Vision of Jericho ’98 is derived from that old spiritual which said, ‘Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho; Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.’ The United States government has consistently denied the existence of political prisoners in this country. We believe that a concerted and organized effort over the next 14 months will effectively eradicate the United States’ ability to deny the existence of these brothers and sisters and set the stage for Amnesty and Freedom for All U.S. held Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War.”

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That vision is still there, and the 14 months have turned into 10 years. We may not have many successes with winning the freedom of our imprisoned ones but we dam sure re-put POLITICAL PRISONERS & POWs back on the map with pure stubbornness. For that alone, let us feel good but unsatisfied, ‘cuz till all of them are free we gonna do this work. Stumblin’ but rumblin’, re-assessing and rebuilding.

2008 was the year of the 10th anniversary of the Jericho Amnesty Movement. For those who remember its founding march on Washington, DC in 1998 with an unexpected turn-out of 5,000 to possibly 8,000 people. Encouraging to say the least. In fact so encouraging that the enormous enthusiasm generated from that ready-to-take-on-the-government march resulted in chapters springing up in at least 10 cities. The next phase of serious FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS & PRISONERS-OF-WAR work had begun. The vision of Jalil Muntaqim & other PPs had paid off. With veterans like Baba Herman Ferguson & Warrior-woman Safiya Bhukari at the helm, the JERICHO MOVEMENT was in full swing.

Indispensable organizations joined, like League of Indigenous Sovereign Nations, Pro-Libertad & Movimiento Liberacion Nacional (MLN/Puerto Rico), Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, MOVE and Friends & Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Leonard Peltier Support Committee, Resistance in Brooklyn, People’s Video Network, Asians for Jericho, International Action Center, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and more. Elders came in, as well as young bloods. There have been highs and lows. The presidential release of most of the Puerto Rican Independentistas due to a strong grassroots Island and mainland pressure mobilization. That provided motivations and lessons for all. We’ve given up esteemed comrades to the Ancestors, like Safiya, Meryl Afrika, Richard Williams, Standing Deer, Teddy Jah Heath, BPP & recently Bashir Hamid (a.k.a. Jimmy York) & Bob Robideau. But we have had join or ranks the work forces of the Anarchist Black Cross Federation in Philly and Brooklyn and well as veteran allies from the anti-imperialist movements who join us (and we join them) for particular campaigns.

The White anti-imperialsts, the Basques, The Filipino Gabriella Network, the Island Boriquen independence movement of former political prisoners whom some of us were imprisoned with for years. Loyalty. Such loyalty. And our co-chair Kazi and Miriam brought us, via birth, twins to the movement! That’s how the forces work right?

For 10-10 2008, we decided, after torturous planning meetings (as real struggle meetings can go) on two days of activities. Because the site was New York City, and the targets were, of course, the United Nations. But added to that was the African Diasporic capital of Harlem! One towards the international community of oppressor & oppressed nations, the other within the “prison-house of nations” called Harlem. And yes, with all the planning and last minute preparations and negotiations, the two-day events went off much better than expected (Constructive criticisms came later).

On Day One in Manhattan, as a delegation of Former political prisoners and key supporters went inside the UN to meet with international community friends, and key supporters of the Puerto Rican Independence movement, outside across the street at Das Hamasjold Park, a lively crowd grew to a few hundred to rally and sound the message:

FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS & POWs!

The Muslim community was there, the anarchists, the nationalists, the animal & earth liberationists, the Elders from various movements were there. And then commenced a vigorous and non-permitted march from the UN to Madison Square Park on 23rd Street to hear speakers. The sight of their numbers, led by Anarchist People of Color & the New Black Panther Party with stalwart Pam Afrika, was powerful! Folks came from Pittsburg, Providence, Portland, Philly, Ithaca, New Jersey, Canada. Folks were energized. Many lamented the fact that it was held on a Friday, when most workers would not be able to take the day off.

Day Two began in the center of Harlem, the same place where Nelson Mandela spoke, in the same intersection where Malcolm X and so many Black Nationalists spoke and Comandante Fidel stayed at the historic Theresa Hotel. The folks came. More and more. In front of the Harlem State Office building. A group of Mid-wives, gathered for their own demonstration, asked if they could join us. Why, of course. And what a gift their presence was. So spirited and creative in their protest and support of our cause! Mutual aid/mututal support… SAME FIGHT.

From there we took the streets to Morningside Park as community residents took our flyers, listen to our message with some even joining us. Most readily agreed with us, FREE THE POLITICAL PRISONERS! As we marched past the building that was once the Harlem chapter of the Black Panther Party, would enthusiasm and voices grew louder. We reached the park with about 200 people and rallied with the messages and words of various speakers.

Speakers included Chief Billy Tayak of he Piscataway Nation, who prayed for us and gave us permission to raze revolution on his people’s land. Mama Iyaluua and Baba Herman Ferguson, Elders of the Black Nation, Ashanti Alston & Kazi toure, co-chairs of the Jericho Movement also spoke. There were representatives from the International Center for Traditional Child Bearing, the New Black Panther Party, former political prisoners from the Puerto Rican Independence movement and other speakers. Folksinger activist Dave Lippman performed, and an impromptu and powerful rendition of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song was done by Boriqen anarchist Not-4-Prophet of Ricanstruction appropriately towards the end.

Prisoner-of-war Jalil Muntaqim came with the idea in 1996. That idea came to fruition in 1998. A rejuventation of the political prisoner movement began. The idea, the vision – it seizes you, your spirit, your energy. You look around for like minds and hearts. Then you meet, plan, and then…ACT. YES, we are not doing enough. We have decided that we are going to change that NOW. That is our renewed commitment coming out of this 10th Anniversary. Our commitment to Safiya & Jalil, and Bashir, and Bob, and Meryl and all who have given their lives, and those who are still LOCKED DOWN because they dared to stand and fight for all of our freedoms.

DO YOU GOT THE 411 on 10-10?
JERICHO IS HERE. WE ARE YOU.

As Safiya Bukhari would say: PICK UP THE WORK!

FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS & POWs – NOW!

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