CopWatch and other community organizations are organizing a picket to demand the acquittal and immediate release of the Liberty City 7 (LC7). The re-trial of the six remaining defendants begins today (Friday, February 1, 2008). The picket will take place on Tuesday, February 5, 2008 at the federal courthouse, 301 N. Miami, Ave. in downtown Miami, beginning at 9:00am.
The LC7 were arrested amidst great fanfare during the summer of 2006, with then attorney general Alberto Gonzalez calling them Muslim terrorists. It was quickly discovered that the men were neither Muslim nor terrorists. While the Bush administration trumpeted the arrests as a significant advancement in the "war on terror," the case clearly lacked substance: the men were never in contact with Al Qaeda; they lacked the capacity to carry out the acts they were charged with planning; it was clear the government agent, not the LC7, was leading the planning; there were no weapons or bomb making materials found in their possession; and the group dismantled itself more than a month prior to the arrests.
While the case was lacking, the motivation for bringing the case was obvious. On Friday June 23, 2006, The New York Times planned to release a story about the Bush Administration spying on the financial transactions of millions of American citizens, without a warrant. On Thursday, June 22nd, FBI Director Rober Mueller announced the raid of the LC7 warehouse (none of the them were in the building at the time) on live television during an interview. The next day, instead of focusing on the Bush Administration spying scandal, the media and general public only talked about the seven "terrorists" in Miami. As George W. Bush might say, "mission accomplished."
The first trial ended in one acquittal and a mistrial for the other six. The judge immediately called for and set a date for a new trial. In addition, the judget put in place a number of "security measures," such as refering to jurors by number instead of name and ordering the jury escorted by armed marshalls, which do not protect the jury- there was no tampering during the last trial- but, instead, is designed to intimidate the jury into thinking the men pose a security risk. It was extremely telling that in this politically charged climate, the government was unable to secure even on conviction of a Black man charged with terrorism.
The LC7 case is important because it directly targets Black organizations and movements under the guise of fighting the war on terror. If this travesty is allowed to proceed unchallenged, every organization pushing a progressive agenda will be targeted and charged with conspiracy. Make no mistake about it: this is the new McCarthy Red Scare in this day and age.
Future generations will demand to know what YOU did during the time the government targeted innocent people and charged them with terror related conspiracies. How will you respond?
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