Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Denver Freedom March Draws Hundreds, Demanding Justice for Political Prisoners

Denver Freedom March Draws Hundreds, Demanding Justice for Political Prisoners
By Alex Kane
August 25, 2008

DENVER, CO—Hundreds of demonstrators marched from Civic Center Park to the Federal Courthouse today, demanding an end to racial profiling, police brutality and freedom for political prisoners.

Around 10am at Civic Center Park, the rally was kicked off with a display of mock Guantanamo jump-suits, signs demanding freedom for the Cuban Five and Leonard Peltier, and speakers ranging from Jenny Esquiveo, spokesperson for Eric McDavid, an environmental activist sentenced to around twenty years for supposed plans to damage property, to King Downing of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). A hip-hop group also performed in support of political prisoners.

Barack Obama and the Democrats, as well as the Republicans, were denounced as calls to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and other political prisoners echoed throughout the park.

“None of the parties have adequately addressed the [political prisoners] issue,” says King Downing, national coordinator of the ACLU Campaign to End Racial Profiling, in an interview.

After the rally ended, the “Freedom March” from the park to the Federal Courthouse convened, with demonstrators chanting “Whose Streets? Our Streets,” and “This is what a police state looks like,” in response to the squadron of riot police on horseback and foot following the demonstrators.

According to members of Cop Watch on hand, a grassroots organization that demands accountability for police actions, no arrests were made. But the police successfully moved demonstrators off of the streets onto the sidewalk, so “buses could get through,” one police officer from Aurora, Colo., said.

“I’m here … to help push home the point that the United States has political prisoners, explicitly political prisoners, and has a lot of them,” says Ward Churchill, prominent American Indian Movement activist, writer, and former professor at the University of Colorado.

“The Democrats, Obama, Biden … are vying for ascendancy to have control over a system that creates [prison] conditions … that are endemic [systematically] … Have you ever heard of someone campaigning for the release of political prisoners? I haven’t,” he added.

Right outside the Federal Courthouse, activists from World Can’t Wait, an antiwar organization, in orange jump-suits knelt together with hoods over their heads, to draw attention to the plight of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Other activists from World Can’t Wait interrupted the flow of the rally, as they “dragged” a “terrorist” to get water-boarded, in a mock trial of what actual water-boarding is like.

Sunsara Taylor, an activist within the Revolutionary Communist Party, a writer and a co-founder of World Can’t Wait, gave an impassioned impromptu speech to loud cries of approval.

“The Democrats are committing war crimes too,” she says. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a Republican or a Democrat … [Obama] is a new face on the same brutal and bloody empire.”

The program at the courthouse included speeches from Fred Hampton Jr., of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee, Natsu Saito, a spokesperson for the Cuban Five, and Pamele Africa of the MOVE organization.

A recording of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a current prisoner on death-row, was played as well.

“Here, politicians take the label of ‘democrat,’ hire the cops to beat you, hire the media to slander you, so that they can send your children to war for oil pipelines, or to protect foreign despots and princes,” Jamal said in the message.

Source URL: http://www.indypendent.org/2008/08/25/denver-freedom-march-draws-hundreds-demanding-justice-for-political-prisoners/

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