Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2001 13:36:21 EST
Subject: PR 5th Annual PP Families Dinner



PRESS RELEASE
Contact Person: Herman Ferguson
718-949-5153
BLACK ELECTED OFFICIALS UNITE WITH COMMUNITY TO FREE POLITICAL PRISONERS   March 18, 2001

N.Y....The long struggle by organizations in the Black community to free
political prisoners like Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Sandiata Acoli, Jalil Bottom,
Seth Hayes, Russell Shoats, Basheer Hamid, Jalil Muntaquin and dozens of
other political prisoners who languish in anonymity in amerika's prisons is
awakening the interest of Black elected officials who are beginning to respond to the
demands that they join the prolonged struggle to force the government to address the issue of the violation of the human rights of its citizens under the machinations of COINTELPRO, which was the strategy government used in the 60's and 70's to entrap and silence constitutionally guaranteed political dissenters.


Among the events that have marked this trend is the forthcoming annual dinner for the families of political prisoners by the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee. It is interesting to note that elected officials from both the New York State Legislative level and the u.s. congressional level will share in the tribute as featured speakers. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) and New York State Assemblyman Roger Green (D-B'klyn.) will address the audience on this crucial issue which has gained greater prominence as a result of the Clinton refusal to include any Black political prisoners among the long list of people he did choose to set free before he left office.


Zayid Muhammad, press officer for the MXCC, spoke to this point when he
said, " Maybe if we had done our work properly and demanded that our elected
officials put pressure on him like the Puerto Rican elected officials did with their political prisoners, Clinton wouldn't have dared overlook the people we petitioned him to release." Continuing his remarks, Muhammad had this to say. "Our 5th annual
dinner for the families of political prisoners will be held on March 18th at the
Harlem State Office Building. We are focusing on a legislative strategy by
having Congresswoman McKinney, who is a key member of the Congressional Black
Caucus and the Committee on International Relations and Human Rights, and
Assemblyman Roger Green who is the Chairman of the New York State Black
and Hispanic Caucus, as our speakers this year. We are hoping this will
encourage their colleagues that now is the time to show their commitment to issues
that are important on the Black agenda.So, for that reason, we have invited all
the Black congressional, State and City Council members to attend this dinner
as our guests. We will have a roll call to see who comes and those who don't
show - up will hear from us."


The dinner will begin at 3 p.m. There will be entertainment and statements from the family members that speak to the suffering and deprivation they have endured over the almost three decades they have been separated from their loved one.
Attached is a copy of a letter from the office of Congresswoman McKinney
that she wrote to President Clinton in January in which she states clearly
her commitment and involvement in the issue of political prisoners. She also
lays out in this letter a strong request for him to grant pardons to specific political prisoners.
Congresswoman McKinney and Assemblyman Green will hold a press conference
at 3:30 p.m. at the Harlem State Office Building.

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