On this day in history: IWW members imprisoned for anti-war activism

On this day, March 23, 1918, 101 members of the radical labor union Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) went on trial in Chicago for opposing World War I. They were charged with violating the Espionage Act and Selective Service Act for their anti-war activities, such as distributing literature which criticized war and encouraging people to resist the draft.

The jury found them all guilty, and the judge sentenced Big Bill Haywood and 14 others to 20 years in prison. 33 others were given ten years each, 34 received five year sentences, and 18 received two year sentences. They were also fined a total of $2,500,000.

The trial imprisoned almost all of the IWW’s most active organizers — including their national/regional organizers, Executive Board members, and newspaper editors, amongst others, and played a major role in the decline of the IWW over the following years.

Militiamen in Lawrence, Massachusetts use bayonets to hold back crowds of immigrant workers during the Great Textile Strike of 1912, which the IWW played a central role in organizing
(Photo: Militiamen in Lawrence, Massachusetts use bayonets to hold back crowds of immigrant workers during the Great Textile Strike of 1912, which the IWW played a central role in organizing)

Glenn Ford, death row prisoner released after spending nearly 30 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit

Glenn Ford, Longest serving death row prisoner released after spending nearly 30 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit Via: The Independent

‘[…] Glenn Ford, Louisiana’s longest-serving death row prisoner, released today after spending nearly 30 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit, managed to neatly encapsulated his loss in a single quote: “My sons, when I left, was babies. Now they grown men with babies.”

Interviewed by CNN directly after his release, dressed in a denim shirt, hat and dark-rimmed glasses, Ford, now 64, responds with remarkable good grace when asked by a reporter whether he harbors any resentment: “Yeah, because I was locked up almost 30 years for something I didn’t do.”

“It’s resentment, not feeling bitter”.

When asked by the same reporter what he’s lost he replies: “thirty years of my life, if not all of it. I can’t go back and do anything I should have been doing when I was 35, 38, 40 stuff like that.”

Asked how it feels to be released: “My mind’s going all kinds of directions, but it feels good,” he says.

Ford is now a free man after being on Louisiana’s death row since August 23, 1988 for the murder of Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport jeweller and watchmaker for whom Ford did occasional yard work. Convicted by an all-white jury Ford has always denied killing Rozeman and always disputed the verdict.

For decades Ford maintained his innocence and filed multiple appeals. […]

State District Judge Ramona Emanuel on Monday took the step of voiding Ford’s conviction and sentence based on new information that corroborated his claim that he was not present or involved in Rozeman’s death, Ford’s attorneys said. […]’

(Read full article here.)

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See also:

* Government Chemist Tampered With 40,000 Cases, Locking Countless Innocent Americans in Prison

* After decades in prison over murders, DNA evidence frees 2 New York men

Freed Ex-Black Panther Marshall “Eddie” Conway on 44 Years in Prison & FBI Surveillance

Freed Ex-Black Panther Marshall “Eddie” Conway who spent 44 Years in Prison before being released‘[…] former Black Panther Party leader Marshall “Eddie” Conway joins us less than 24 hours after his release from nearly 44 years in prison. Supporters describe Conway as one of the country’s longest-held political prisoners. He was convicted of killing a Baltimore police officer in 1970, for which he has always maintained his innocence. The shooting occurred at a time when federal and local authorities were infiltrating and disrupting the Black Panthers and other activist groups. At the time of the shooting, the FBI was also monitoring Conway’s actions as part of its counterintelligence program, COINTELPRO. Numerous groups have campaigne, blackd for years calling for his release, saying he never received a fair trial and was convicted largely on the basis of testimony from a jailhouse informant. Politically active in prison, Conway founded Friend of a Friend, a group that helps young men, often gang members, resolve conflicts, and published a memoir, “Marshall Law: The Life & Times of a Baltimore Black Panther.” In his first interview since being released, Marshall details his time behind bars and the government surveillance he faced as a prominent Black Panther. […]’

Read full article: http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2014/03/05/freed-ex-black-panther-marshall-eddie-conway-on-44-years-in-prison-fbi-surveillance/

“Solitary Confinement” (Robert Walker)

Have you ever been ordered to strip 
Before half a dozen barking eyes
Forcing you against a wall
Ordering you to part your legs and bend over

Have you ever had a door slammed
Locking you out of the world
Propelling you into timeless space
To the emptiness of silence

Have you ever lain on a wooden bed
In regulation pyjamas
And tried to get the bucket to talk
In all seriousness

Have you ever begged for blankets
From an eye staring through a hole in the door
Rubbing at the cold air digging into your flesh
Biting down on your bottom lip, while mouthing
“Please, Sir”

Have you ever heard screams in the middle of 
The night
Or the sobbing of a stir-crazy inmate
Echo over and over again in the darkness
Threatening to draw you into its madness

Have you ever rolled up into a human ball
And prayed for sleep to come
Have you ever lain awake for hours
Waiting for morning to mark yet another day of
Being alone

If you’ve never experienced even one of these
Then bow your head and thank God
For it’s a strange thing indeed –
This rehabilitation system


–Robert Walker, “Solitary Confinement”

 

“Today’s empire is tomorrow’s ashes …”

Mumia Abu-Jamal (U.S. political prisoner, journalist, black panther)“Contrary to popular belief, conventional wisdom would have one believe that it is insane to resist this, the mightiest of empires… But what history really shows is that today`s empire is tomorrow`s ashes, that nothing lasts forever, and that to not resist is to acquiesce in your own oppression. The greatest form of sanity that anyone can exercise is to resist that force that is trying to repress, oppress, and fight down the human spirit.”

–Mumia Abu-Jamal