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Death

December 16, 2011

BY JAAN LAAMAN

Readers will recall that from our earliest issues, 4sm has carried words and information on the deaths of political prisoners and noted revolutionary figures. Just last issue, we had words and remembrances of Geronimo Ji-Jaga. In issue 17, we had many thoughts and words on companera Lolita Lebron and sister Marilyn Buck. Back in issue 6, we spoke of and mourned the loss of my Ohio-7 comrade Richard Williams, as well as comandante Filiberto Ojeda Rios.

4sm has also had many words on the police shootings of young people, especially in Black, Latino and Native communities, and behind prison walls. We have also spoken about the ravages and deaths that drugs bring to our communities, especially to our youth.

Death in struggle, and in life under imperialism, echoes through the pages of 4strugglemag, as it does through our lives. I have left tears as I constructed words of remembrance, love and respect for our fallen warriors, my close comrades in particular. As revolutionaries and especially as political prisoners, we understand this reality. It’s like Che said, “In revolution you win or you die.” That is, until we win and usher in a new day of social and economic justice, equality, real freedom, hope and peace, we know there will be hardships we will have to endure and overcome, and some will fall before we see Liberation.

As a Turkish comrade said long ago, ‘The point is not that you are in captivity, the point is not to surrender.’ I feel confident saying that U.S. political prisoners carry it on in this manner. Being in captivity is our front or location for continuing the freedom struggle at this time, so we do just that.

All that said, all that done, allow me comrades, friends and readers, to inform you of the most horrific, devastating news and reality of my life. Thirty-nine days ago, early on friday morning on October 21, 2011, my precious wonderful son, my heart, Rick, died. Rick Michael Emilio Curzi Laaman, od’ed by himself in his apartment kitchen in East Boston.

My son was 29 years old, almost 30. He was almost 3 when he was taken from my arms, a day long ago, on a November 4th. He was planning on traveling out here to Arizona to visit me, along with his fiancee Susan, this November 4th. They already had the airline tickets, and I was looking forward to really meeting Susan and to have a days long contact visit with my son. This would have been our first contact visit since 1999, when Rick visited me in Leavenworth. In 2000, I was sent to Walpole state prison in Massachusetts. For the next 9 years, even though I was in the same state as my son, all my visits were one hour long through a glass window over a telephone.

In the beginning of 2009, I was transferred back to the federal system to begin a consecutive sentence. I was sent to this prison in the Sonoran desert, near the Mexican border. For most of the 27 years of my captivity, the U.S. government has intentionally kept me locked up thousands of miles from my son and family. Many other political prisoners face this same type of exile imprisonment.

One special reason for this November 4th visit, was so Rick and Susan could tell me about their plans to marry and hopes for children and their life together. I was so happy and hopeful for them and the thought of a new little Ricky chan – boy or girl.

Ricky at three

Being the child of revolutionary activists, and especially in situations when parents choose or are forced into clandestine and underground work and life, will have a major life long impact on the child. When Ricky’s mother, Barbara, and I and other Ohio-7 people were located and captured in November of 1984, Ricky and the other Ohio-7 children were actually locked up themselves in juvenile detention jails for weeks, until our families and lawyers finally forced the government to release them to grandparents and other family.

Ricky lived with his maternal grandparents in Boston, until he was 10, when his mother was released from prison.

My son was not a political activist, though he was involved in many events, conferences, gatherings from the time he was a teenager. He knew and worked with leaders and activists of the Jericho political prisoners organization, the Puerto Rican Independence movement, the New African Independence movement, and in anarchist circles. He attended many of these events as the son of political prisoners and sometimes represented me and delivered statements from me, as well as his own words, including eloquent thoughts of what it was like to be a child growing up while your parents were in prison for their political efforts.

Just days before his death, Rick was at Occupy Boston and planned to write an article for this issue of 4sm, on this occupation. He had some notes, but said he wanted to wait until our visit to talk about it, before he finished the article. When people at the occupy site found out Rick was the son of a political prisoner, they invited him to lead a workshop on political prisoners there, the following week.

My son was deeply aware of the realities of U.S. imperialism and capitalism, and the struggle against it. His young and too short life was directly impacted by the racist police state realities of imperialism, and of course by the decisions I made for myself, my family and my son, in my life.

Let me be very real with you readers, from that cold November day in Cleveland in 1984, when we were captured and I saw a black suited SWAT cop grab my son, till the night before his death when I talked to him on the phone, there is no one in this world I loved or cared more about, or wanted to be actually close to, than my son.

I’ve long been kind of amazed, but so very glad that Rick and I always maintained a close loving father and son relationship and bond. I kept in regular contact with him, even from seg and other lock down units, with lots of cards, letters and phone calls and the always too infrequent visits. Even over time and growing up transitions he went through, and of course the distances imposed on us, we were always genuinely close, largely honest and real with each other and we always expressed love – father to his son and son to his father.

All that said, my son needed and wanted me close in his life from the moment he was taken away from his mother and me as a tiny little boy, till the end of his life. He always expressed this, as a little boy, a teenager and as an adult, including in the past few years as he struggled with addiction issues and fears.

I believe my son was a very special, positive and true human presence here with us for just a short time. Of course you would expect me, as a father to say and feel something like this. But this was what most of the well over 200 people at his funeral were telling each other. I’m told, it was an extremely diverse group of people. Of course family from all sides and distant locations. Close friends from computer school, college, rehab, as well as young muscle bound neighborhood guys who Rick worked out with. There were prominent revolutionary figures and former political prisoners. There were also some adult children of political prisoners, like Richard Williams’ son and daughter, Netdahe and Henekis, who knew and loved Rick since they were children. There were old Italian women from the neighborhood who spoke about how charming, courteous and helpful Rick had always been with them and other neighbors. My son touched many people in many real, meaningful, profound, genuine and compassionate ways.

I’m not sure why I’m putting all these long words together. I guess I did want to speak to comrades and interested people directly. Maybe it is cathartic. So what. My son is dead. These are insane impossible words, that now frame my life.

A final thought: I’ve received many cards and words of shared sorrow and support from many friends and others. I haven’t responded much, but I have appreciated all the thoughts and concern.

Try to take care of each other and the people you love.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2011 8:47 am

    Kallis Jaan,
    Tunneme sulle sügavalt kaasa Ricki surma pärast. Tean, et pole sõnu, mis lohutaks, aga loodame, et leiad jõudu edasi minna ja leida ka oma edasisele elule mõtet.

    Mikk, Anneli -Estonia

  2. chris salerno permalink
    February 15, 2013 9:56 pm

    The rick i knew was like a brother..we met at umana barnes middle school where we were actually the minorities..2 lil white boys they called us..lol..we didn’t get along at first but we learned that we had a lot in common.we stuck together and held our own against other people of different race that we never knew why they took offense to us..eventually we got their respect and became close friends with black and latino kids..we learned and understood that we were all the same..other than our color we had a lot of the same struggles..we hung out all the time..one time a friend of his from boston latin went on to harvard university and we hooked school to attend a class at harvard…who does that..too funny.drugs were never a part of our lives..me and rick like any other teens were into girls..lol.they loved us we had so much fun..this kid was absolutely one of the best kids i ever met..to me he is not missed but remembered like he is still here..almost always in my thoughts..like any friendship there are ups and downs ..but i can almost only remember the good times..this kid was a soldier and would always be there with a helping hand..my only wish is to call him now and tell him to meet me at santarpios for a pizza..as long as hes in my mind he will never be dead..

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