U.S. and U.K. jail children of organizers to punish parents
Free Kwame Cannon
May/June 1997

Eleven years ago, a 17-year old African American man was sentenced to two consecutive life terms for 6 counts of non-violent burglary in Greensboro, North Carolina. No weapons were involved, and the total amount of stolen property amounted to less than $1000 in cash. Kwame Cannon was given one of the harshest sentences ever for a crime of this type.

Cannon is the son of long time community activist Willena Cannon. In the aftermath of the 1979 murder of five anti-KKK protesters, Mrs. Cannon was part of a lawsuit which proved that the Greensboro Police Department was at least partly responsible for the deaths. Families of the victims were awarded $300,000 and the police ties to the Klan and the Nazis were exposed. One year later, a Greensboro Court handed Kwame Cannon his two life sentences.

While political leaders talk out of one side of their mouths about the need to raise educational standards for the future of our youth, they stumble over each other to show that they are "tough on crime." North Carolina is a state that consistently ranks at the bottom in the education of its youth, while it now has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation. The state is currently spending an additional $500 million to bolster its prison capacity. The prison population has risen 50% since 1992!

And who are these people that are filling the prisons and the jails at an alarming rate? They are predominantly young African American men who are from poor backgrounds and make up 65% of the prison population, while comprising 22% of the total population. Poor white youth are also going to prison in record numbers. We can only evaluate politicians by what they DO, not by what they SAY, and this is the future they have in store for increasingly large number of the youth of North Carolina. Only Governor Jim Hunt can release Kwame Cannon. Hunt has turned away from countless ministers, an ex Congressman, an ex North Carolina Supreme Court Justice, and a college president, who have all said that the sentence was too severe. Even one of Kwame's burglary victims has written to Hunt and met with his chief legal counsel to argue for his release.

On February 25th, students and other supporters from Greensboro held a spirited rally and informational picket line at the State House in Raleigh, demanding that Governor Hunt release Kwame Cannon now. Other supporters from North Carolina joined us. We represent many thousands in the Greensboro area and beyond, who are outraged at this kind of "justice." And we are determined to expose that the "tough on crime" posturing is nothing but an attack on our young people. There are no rich people in the prisons.

For information, call (910) 370 4330 (Greensboro) or Raleigh (919) 250 9110 (Raleigh).

Free R--is'n McAlisky
R--is'n McAlisky, due to give birth this month (April), is still in solitary confinement in a British prison, where she has been incarcerated since November 20, 1996. Her "crime" is being the daughter of freedom fighter Bernadette Devlin McAlisky, who has long been an international symbol of the fight for civil rights and independence for occupied Ireland. R--is'n is being held without charges and without bail, pending extradition to Germany, where she may be held for years without coming to trial.

The allegation that R--is'n was identified from a picture taken at an IRA bombing at an unoccupied British base in Germany is so spurious that it has not yet been presented in any court of law. Yet despite the "democratic" laws of England and Germany, all demands for habeus corpus (evidence to justify holding her) have been denied.

In New York City on International Women's Day, thousands of protesters marched from the Lufthansa Building to the British Consulate. Women carried chains and roses ("R--is'n" means "little rose"), which were placed symbolically in from of the consulate. The banners of Ireland and Puerto Rico expressed the demand for self determination for all oppressed peoples. Speakers from Amnesty International, Helsinki Watch, the NYC Central Labor Council, and Local 1199 called for R--is'n's release.

The March demonstrations resulted in Britain's agreement to stop daily strip searches of R--is'n, which were endangering the life of the baby as well as the mother's mental health. Protests continue all over the world for an end to the inhumane treatment of this young woman, who already suffers from asthma, ulcers and other serious health conditions stemming from a British assassination attempt against her parents when she was a child. Calls and letters should also demand that R--is'n be allowed to keep her baby, which British authorities are threatening to remove once she is born.

Calls can be made to British Consulate in NYC (212) 754 0200; German Consulate in NYC (212) 308-8700; German Embassy in D.C., (202) 298 4000.

Support letters can be sent to: R--is'n McAlisky, PTE 2456 HMP Holloway, Parkhurst Rd., Holloway, London, ENGLAND N7.

For more information, write: Friends of R--is'n McAlisky c/o O'Dwyer and Bernstein, 52 Duane St., NYC 10007 (718) 436-4770.

Reprinted from Working People's News, April-May 1997, from a leaflet of the Coalition to Free Kwame Cannon, and an article by F. Koehler on R--is'n McAlisky. Subscriptions to Working People's News are $15/year, P.O. Box 7763, Silver Spring, MD 20907.

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