Black Panther Eddie Conway, free after 44 years, calls for release of all political prisoners | People’s World
After serving nearly 44 years for a crime he did not commit, Marshall Eddie Conway finally walked out of the Maryland House of Corrections, March 4, a free man.
The former Black Panther Party leader called immediately for a struggle to free all political prisoners across the nation. Many, like himself, Conway charged, were victims of frame-ups orchestrated under the infamous FBI Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO).
Speaking on the Democracy NOW news program, Conway thanked the millions of people who worked tirelessly to win his freedom. There are, he added, “political prisoners all across the country now, from the Black Panther Party" who were "victims of the COINTELPRO operation."
He added, “It undermined a lot of people. It painted a picture that caused people not to get fair trials …. It caused a lot of our members to get assassinated.”
Senate hearings in 1975 by Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho, exposed COINTELPRO’s infiltration and dirty tricks as an FBI scheme to “perpetrate violence among Black groups and among other groups,” Conway added.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was among the targets of COINTELPRO secretly established by the FBI in the early 1950s with the Communist Party USA being its primary target.
Conway who has always pleaded innocent, was convicted during his 1970 trial almost solely on the basis of testimony by a jailhouse snitch. The weapon used to kill the police officer, Donald Sager, was never found.
Later it was revealed that a National Security Agency undercover agent set up the Baltimore branch of the Black Panther Party, Conway said. “I think some of the most active people in the organization were targeted, followed around by the COINTELPRO and opportunities were created with agent provocateurs or police agents …. incidents were created that ultimately led to them destroying like 25 of our 37 chapters in a period of 18 months.”
The president has pardoned some victims of this FBI wrecking operation, he said. But political prisoners, like Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier ”need to have the same kind of support … to help them get free,” he said.
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