Saturday, March 28, 2009

27 Mar 2009: SF8 Update

Today in a San Francisco courtroom with two to three times more security officers than 'normal,' members of the San Francisco 8 and their attorneys continued to press for the release of federal wiretap surveillance of the Black Panther Party offices. More written arguments are now to be filed by mid April with oral arguments scheduled for Friday, April 24th at 9 am.

Prosecutors are reluctant to make these documents public since they would undoubtedly tie the FBI's COINTELPRO program to this prosecution. COINTELPRO illegally targeted the Black Panther Party, its members and associates in precisely the time period covered by the prosecution's conspiracy allegations (1968-1973).

The increased courtroom security included the handcuffing and shackling of Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim. This issue had been argued and resolved twice before, resulting in a court ordered agreement with the San Francisco County Sheriff to allow the two jailed defendants full use of their hands in court and the dignity of not being fully restrained. Their attorneys refused to move forward unless directly ordered by the court, and eventually the defendants were freed of handcuffs for this pro forma hearing. This issue is likely to arise again before the next court hearing.

The next hearing will be Friday, April 24th at 9:00 a.m.

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