The political Party for Socialism and Liberation sponsored the forum having a title of “Free All Political Prisoners”. It concerned freedom of all the political prisoners being held in a number of prisons scattered all over the United States. According to Eugene Puryear, the program moderator, since the world’s attention is riveted on the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, there is a neeed to talk about the political prisoners locked up in the US, supposedly a land priding in giving its citizens freedom.
Dr. Anthony Monteiro, a W.E.B DuBois scholar and of Black Radical Organizing Collective, said that the issue of political prisoners can no longer be considered a side issue. It should be put in the front of any debate. Another participant, Ralph Poynter, read an extremely compassionate letter from Lynne Stewart, the controversial defense attorney who was a specialist in human rights until she was disbarred and the tried and convicted of multiple charges under what her supporters describe as “questionable circumstances” during the earlier parts of the millenium. Poynter was released from custody in 2009. She is now the leader of Justice for Lynne Stewart Organization. She is also a long time activist who fights on the behalf of the political prisoners.
In her letter, Stewart informed her audience that it is the perfect time to achieve “higher ground”. Adequate pressure must be brought on the bureaucrats and the legislators who have the necessary power to assure that all political prisoners must be freed. She could not attend thios program due to her ill health.
The list of additional speakers at the forum included Eddie Conway, Pam Africa, Theresa Shoatz, and Noelle Hanrahan. Pam Africa is the leader and founder of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Eddie Conway spent 43 years as a political prisoner and he is presently the Minister of Defense, Black Panther party’s Baltimore Chapter. Theresa Shoatz is daughter to Russell Maroon Shoatz, who is a member of Human Rights Coalition. She also founded Family and Communities United. Noelle Hanrahan is a journalist associated with prison radio and also co-wrote and produced “Mumia= Long Distance Revolutrionary”
The forum expressed its concern for advanced health and age problems which is a challenge for those who continue to remain incarcerated. Shoatz noted that her father who is presently 72 years old was solitarily confined to over 22 years.