Obama, free our political prisoners!
ASSEMBLYMEMBER CHARLES BARRON | 11/24/2016, midnight
As he went across the country encouraging us to vote for Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama said he wants Black people to respect and protect his legacy. I cannot think of a better legacy for President Obama to leave than the act of presidential clemency (freedom) for our political prisoners and prisoners of war. America travels the globe charging world leaders with human rights violations and unlawful imprisonment of dissenters while right here in its own backyard, America has countless political prisoners languishing in its own prisons. Many of these political prisoners are innocent of any crime and others have more than served their time. There are political prisoners who have been incarcerated for more than 30 or 40 years, many years beyond their parole date.
Parole is supposed to be determined by the time served, not the initial crime. Our political prisoners have been model inmates who have secured college degrees and have been mentors for many other inmates. Yet every time they come up for parole they are hit with two more years. Some have died in prison because of inadequate health care treatment and cruel inhumane punishment like solitary confinement. As I write this article many of our political prisoners are in need of emergency medical care that they are not receiving, such as Mumia Abu Jamal, Robert Seth Hayes and others who are too numerous to list. The Obama administration saw it fit to pardon and grant clemency to the victims of America’s war on drugs, as they commuted more than 673 drug-related sentences, more than the past 10 presidents combined. According to an Aug. 30, 2016, article on npr.org, Obama’s Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates said, “At our current pace, we are confident that we will be able to review and make a recommendation to the president on every single drug petition we currently have.”
Well, President Obama, we have petitions being forwarded to you regarding our political prisoners. Many of them have had an extremely positive impact on their prison environments across this country. These model inmates who have served well past their time include (partial listing), Mutulu Shakur, Jalil Muntaqim, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (formerly Rap Brown), Russell Maroon Shoats, Leonard Peltier, Robert “Seth” Hayes, Herman Bell, Sundiata Acoli, Oscar Lopez Rivera and of course, Mumia Abu Jamal, just to name a few. For those not listed, we know who you are and we will continue to fight diligently for your release. We must never forget our political prisoners. They were our freedom fighters of the 1960s who sacrificed their lives and freedom so that we would have better employment, education, housing and myriad other opportunities that we enjoy today. These brothers and sisters have great organizing skills and are true servants of the people. During this time of crisis their freedom would be a tremendous asset to our communities. President Obama you only have about a month left in your presidency. Seize the time! Do the right thing and free our political prisoners! Straight ahead!