Thursday, February 15, 2007

Update on SF 8 court appearance

San Francisco 8 strong in court appearance
February 15 - SF Bayview

by Claude Marks and Cynthia Nelson

In a significant showing of support, family and
friends of four of the San Francisco 8 packed the
San Francisco courtroom of Judge Little on
Wednesday. The Healing Circle, a group of Black
parents who have lost loved ones to violence,
were the most visible assembly. They carried
signs bearing the names of those they had lost,
questioning the City?s pursuit of these ancient
cases ? against men who worked with youngsters to
stop the violence ? while it closes the
investigations into their children?s killings.

Many people were unable to get into the
overflowing courtroom. And despite the usual
metal detectors and bag searches at the entrance
to the building, those entering the courtroom
were again scanned with metal detector wands.
As the four ? Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Hank
Jones and Richard O?Neal ? were brought into the
courtroom in shackles, supporters burst into
applause, long and loud. The judge immediately
halted the proceedings, and the large showing of
sheriff?s and SWAT officers cleared the
courtroom. Supporters filled the hallway outside
Department 12 chanting, ?No justice, no peace.?
Defense attorneys objected to closing a public
hearing and the judge agreed to let people back
into court if they agreed not to be noisy, but
only after every individual was again searched by
sheriff?s deputies and wanded.

Unlike their previous court appearances since the
arrests in January, the men were shackled in
court, and close to a dozen sheriff?s deputies
and SWAT officers were inside the courtroom. The
hearing opened with defense attorneys arguing
against the redundant wanding at the courtroom
entrance and for the unshackling of the brothers
as ?they represent no threat to the court or the public.?

They pointed out that the men had appeared
voluntarily and without need of such extensive
police presence during the 2005 San Francisco
Grand Jury and that the shackling and heavy
security were prejudicial ? especially feeding
the sensationalist coverage of the corporate
media. The court agreed to hear security issues
in a future meeting with the sheriff and lawyers.

None of the men have yet entered pleas in the
conspiracy and murder case stemming from the
killing of a San Francisco police officer at the
Ingleside Police Station in August of 1971. The
defense called for full disclosure of government
documents, some of which were described as
inaccurate and inflammatory. Some government
documents had been presented to the court in
secret hearings outside the presence of defense
attorneys, where they could not be contested.
Although there has yet to be a formal bail
hearing, Judge Little did lower the outrageous
bail for Ray Boudreaux and Hank Jones from $5
million to $3 million ? still outrageous ?
equalized to the bail for Richard Brown and
Richard O?Neal. A formal hearing on their bail as
well as other motions was scheduled for Tuesday, March 13.

?Today?s court appearance was significant in a
number of ways,? explained attorney Stuart
Hanlon. ?The strong public support for the four
men in court was a powerful reminder that these
men are part of their communities and are not criminals.

?The attorney general?s comments made clear that
they (the state prosecutors) want to keep these
men in jail on high bail and that they will make
excuses to explain the 35-year delay in bringing
this case.? California?s attorney general is now
Jerry Brown, former governor, who was until last month mayor of Oakland.

?It was made clear to us that this is the
beginning skirmish of a legal war with high
stakes ? the freedom of these eight former
Panthers and the rewriting of political history
by the government criminalizing the Black Panther
Party and African American freedom fighters from
the ?60s and ?70s. It is a war we will win and
that we have to win. And it is a war where the
support of the community, in and out of court, is crucial.?
The brothers seemed strong and in good spirits.

Claude Marks, founder and director of Freedom
Archives, can be reached at
Cynthia Nelson, journalism graduate student at
New College and intern at the Bay View, can be
reached at

Corporate media coverage of SF 8 2/14/07

Berkeley Benefit for SF 8- 2/25 Screening "Legacy of Torture"
Benefit for the SF 8 Black Panthers & Eric
McDavid; Screening "Legacy of Torture" & "Battle of Algiers"
Sunday February 25
6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
The Long Haul, 3124 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA (@Woolsey St.)
$5-up sliding scale (no one turned away)

A screening of the new video about the SF 8 Black Panther grand jury
resistors/arrestees. (see below for details.) This will be followed by the
classic- Battle of Algiers. People will be on hand to answer questions on
the SF 8, as well as offer an update Eric McDavid. There will be food,
wine, & dessert. All proceeds will be split between the SF 8 & Eric McDAvid.
Please show your support!

Legacy of Torture:
The War Against The Black Liberation Movement

The same people who tried to kill me in 1973 are the same people who are
here today, trying to destroy me. I mean it literally. I mean there were
people from the forces of the San Francisco Police Department who
participated in harassment, torture and my interrogation in 1973 ... none
of these people have ever been brought to trial. None of these people have
ever been charged with anything. None of these people have ever been
questioned about that. -- John Bowman, former Black Panther

In 2005 several former members of the Black Panther were held in contempt
and jailed for refusing to testify before a San Francisco Grand Jury
investigating a police shooting that took place in 1971. The government
alleged that Black radical groups were involved in the 34-year old case in
which two men armed with shotguns attacked the Ingleside Police Station
resulting in the death of a police sergeant and the injuring of a civilian

In 1973, thirteen alleged "Black militants" were arrested in New Orleans,
purportedly in connection with the San Francisco events. Some of them were
tortured for several days by law enforcement authorities, in striking
similarity to the horrors visited upon detainees in Guant?namo and Abu

In 1975, a Federal Court in San Francisco threw out all of the evidence
obtained in New Orleans.

The two lead San Francisco Police Department investigators from over 30
years ago, along with FBI agents, have re-opened the case. Rather than
submit to proceedings they felt were abusive of the law and the
Constitution, five men chose to stand in contempt of court and were sent
to jail. They were released when the Grand Jury term expired, but have
been told by prosecutors that "it isn't over yet."

For more information on their case, visit

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