Free the Black Panthers!
This international petition is to ask the President and Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama to pardon and grant the freedom of the 15 Black Panthers still in US prisons.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Black Panther Party. Formed in the midst of structural and institutionalised racism and the emergence of the US Civil Rights movement, the Panthers started out fighting police brutality and organising against the extreme poverty faced by Black communities in Oakland, California. They went on the become a national organisation with chapters in over 40 American states and supported groups all over the world.
They were and continue to be an inspiration across the globe.
It is well documented that the popularity of the Panthers and their anti-capitalist, anti-racist message was seen as a real threat to the government. The resulting backlash from state and federal authorities led to the death and incarceration of many Panther members.
Today, 15 members of the Black Panthers remain in prison (1). They are
- Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald
- Ed Poindexter
- Joseph Bowen
- Jalil Muntaqim
- Herman Bell
- Russell Shoats
- Sundiata Acoli
- Veronza Bowers
- Robert Seth Hayes
- Zulu Whitmore
- Maliki Shakur
- Mutulu Shakur
- Imam Jamil Al-Amim
- Kamau Sadiki
- Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Many of them have question marks over their original convictions (2). Many have been up for parole several times and been refused- and ALL of them are in their late 60s and 70s. Simply, they should not die in jail.
The 50th anniversary of the Black Panthers also marks the last year in office of the first African American President, Barack Obama. His historic and controversial presidency will be remembered not only for its highs and lows but the constraints placed upon his visions by the US Congress.
Under Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the US Constitution, it provides for the ability of the US President to grant clemency for federal crimes. As of November 2016, the President has pardoned 10 people.
We urge President Obama, in his last few weeks in office, to grant such a gift, and free the Black Panthers.
Deyika Nzeribe, The Mbari Group
Dr Tanzil Chowdhury
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