by Diana Block
When most people hear the term political prisoner they think of people in other countries far away who have been put in prison because of their political beliefs and activities. Not many realize that there are close to 150 political prisoners right here in the United States. These women and men are in prison because they tried to fight the many injustices of this society. Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier are some of the best known political prisoners, but there are many others, including seven women who are at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California. (We will be featuring the stories of these women in upcoming issues of The Fire Inside.)
On March 27, 1998 thousands of people, including many youth and students, went to Washington DC from all over the country as part of the Jericho 98 campaign to demand amnesty and freedom for all political prisoners and prisoners of war in this country. The rally connected the situation of political prisoners to the growth of the prison-industrial complex and the incarceration of increasing numbers of people of color and the poor.
There was also a rally of several hundred in Oakland, California and one in Los Angeles as well. Two hundred students walked out of their classes at Berkeley High and marched almost ten miles to join the Oakland rally. The students’ energy, awareness and commitment to challenge the prison system was inspiring to all of us. CCWP displayed our banner and distributed The Fire Inside. The campaign to tear down the walls is picking up speed! To become involved or for more information contact either the Bay Area Jericho Organizing Committee, POB 3585, Oakland, CA 94609 or Jericho 98, P.O. Box 650, NY, NY 10009