Free the San Francisco 8!

On the San Francisco 8 Case

by Herman Bell, recorded from jail in November 2007    [Hear this on audio – 484 kb mp3 file]

Herman BellWe gather at these venues to listen and learn, to show support and solidarity, and hopefully depart with a clear sense of purpose, a nourished mind and an invigorated spirit. In recent times, we’ve had so little to celebrate and lift our spirits until Lynn Stewart, the Jena-6, and now, when 6 out of 8 from the SF8 were released on bail. None of this could have happened without strong community support.

Bail for the 6 meant that folks had to put up their homes and property, and that’s exactly what they did. A finer example of solidarity, support, and sacrifice inspired by love and oneness of purpose could not be found. Because prosecution of the SF8 bears grave implications for all of us, even for the f.b.i. who — under the auspices of a “joint-terrorism-task-force,” homeland security, Newkill, or whatever they want to call themselves today — is manipulating this whole thing.

For years, we’ve been telling people about the government’s COINTELPRO scheme that has been crushing dissent and social activism in the U.S. by spying, jailing, torturing, disappearing, and even murdering those not intimidated by it or cowed into submission. Need there be wonder why prosecution of the SF8 is going forward!

We do not study history to be afraid; we study it to learn. And what history teaches us is that people really don’t ask for much; that they are not really interested in having a mansion in the sky or in the bling bling glitz and glitter that they are told they must display to be somebody. All people really want or care about is to improve their lives and to have some kind of future that offers hope of better times to come for themselves and their children — these basic desires just don’t go away.

As social activists and community leaders, the SF8, as well as countless others, are gravely concerned about the bigger social issues: concerned about our water, land, air, forest, about our very survival on this planet. Our civil liberties are threatened, our privacy continually violated, and the various branches of our government are accountable to only corporate interests and the rich. We went to war based on a lie, which has devastated the national treasury, leaving a burdensome debt for generations to come and a national health care system a dream deferred. Our social security system needs fixing, and we need to bring an end to locking so many of our citizens in prison; more U.S. citizens are locked up by their government than are citizens of any other country in the world.

These times, these issues — the case of the SF8 is about many things, including having a vision and the resolve to find a way forward that serves the needs and concerns of the people. In failing to oppose the corporate quest to privatize and commodify Mother Nature herself, our society — I dare say the Western world—has lost its way because of its misguided notion that the so-called sanctity of private property and unrestrained capital give license to own and control everything on this earth. Now that the period of consequences is upon us, blind faith is a painful and terrible thing to behold.

Malcolm X was correct in his analysis: we have been hoodwinked and bamboozled. Those we entrusted to lead and protect us have betrayed that trust. Now the whole country is in dire straits and picking cotton for corporate america. Yet, despite these dark and difficult times, things will get better when we make them so—when we commit to work for the freedom of our leaders who have been repressed, when we become that vibrant leadership ourselves.

Poster: Resist the Police State

Free the San Francisco 8 buttonCommittee for the Defense of Human Rights
P.O. Box 90221
Pasadena, CA 91109

(415) 226-1120
E-mail: freethesf8 [at] gmail [dot] com
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