23rd Annual People’s Thanksgiving Dinner, Chicago 2014
A Fundraiser for the Defense of Rasmea Odeh
November 22. 2014, Trinity Church, 125 E 26th St
Keep Your Eye on the Prize Award, Acceptance Speech
Comrades, Sister and Brothers in the struggle I can’t begin to express how honored I am to be here tonight.
On behalf of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, I humbly accept your recognition of our efforts, in this historic struggle, to empower the people to hold the police accountable for the crimes they commit in our communities; crimes committed with daily and constant impunity. On behalf of our Alliance I salute you for allowing us the opportunity to express our unconditional solidarity with all those who are fighting for justice for Rasmea Odeh. This is the good fight if there ever was one and let me state it clearly: This is the kind of fight for which our organization was created, the struggle for Rasmea’s freedom is without a doubt a struggle against racist and political repression.
Since I was in a court room myself facing a death penalty in 1961 I have seen many a court room battle, numerous racist frame-up trials and convictions spading five decades, but I have never seen the government engage, in such cowardly and shameless prosecution and persecution, as in this case of Rasmea Odeh. Many people have asked me, “What do you mean by this?” Think about it for just a moment.
The government said Rasmea lied on her citizenship application, by not acknowledging that she was convicted by a military tribunal in Israel, some forty years ago. This was clearly the accusation made. Then, when the matter was brought before the bar in one ruling after another, the judge denied the defense the right to challenge the evidence. In other words Rasmea was not allowed to prove her innocence by challenging the accusation. She was denied a fundamental democratic right.
That this was done openly in a U.S. District Court under the pretext of having a criminal trial is very disturbing for two reasons:
- It was a political trial and this fact was kept from the jury because Rasmea was denied her right to challenge the evidence.
- The government was allowed by the Court to lie and concoct a case against Rasmea based on a conviction obtained by torture, and in blatant violation of her human rights.
This racist frame-up is clear to us and it is our job to build a mass movement that will make it clear to the American people and everyone who wants justice.
Now a few words about why we are honored guests here tonight.
At this very hour the people of Ferguson and Missouri are under the threat of martial law because Governor Nixon has declared a state of emergency. He knows there will be protests because the killer of Michael Brown, Daren Wilson will most likely not be indicted. So the state of Missouri is telling the protestors that you will be violently repressed.
We are also experiencing these same recalcitrant racist attitudes in Chicago. After we had 67 people, who were victims of police crimes, sign off on a complaint-letter to Attorney General Eric Holder; the U.S. Attorney here in Chicago, responded by putting out a public statement announcing that there is no pattern of police violence against African Americans and Latinos!
We won’t go into all the particular cases of police murder, torture and other forms of brutality that make our movement necessary. However, I do want to mention that Emmett Farmer, the father of Flint Farmer, is here with us this evening. Mr. Farmer’s son was wantonly murdered by Chicago police officer Gildardo Sierra; Flint was shot three times while lying on his stomach, he was unarmed. Emmett Farmer was one of the signatories of our letter to Eric Holder. (Mr. Farmer would you please stand up?!)
What is of primary importance is that when we fight back, we learn in the dirt and blood of battle where to direct our blows. We are currently mobilizing and organizing people to aim our blows at City Hall, to get enacted an ordinance to create a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC). Presently we have signed up 10,000 people in those areas hardest hit by police crimes. We are on our way to getting a 100,000 by next year.
Put this in your calendars. On August 29, 2015 we are challenging ourselves, and the peoples movement in Chicago, to put 10,000 people in front of the Federal building and City Hall. Last year we put 500 people in the streets in organized protests. Times are harder so we must fight harder. We must build in every protest, in every struggle, the clarion call for August 29, 2015 to be the most massive, organized demonstration ever. WHEN WE SAY FIGHT-BACK! YOU SAY CPAC!
Free Rasmea! Free Howard Morgan! Stop Police Crimes!
To make a contribution to Rasmea’s legal defense go to:
23rd Annual People’s Thanksgiving Dinner! A fundraiser for the defense of Rasmea Odeh