Monday, August 10, 2009

Francisco Torres: SF8

Once again I had to drive to San Francisco this morning, a late night the prior evening had me moving a bit slower than usual--the San Jose Jazz Festival's closing set with Buster Williams' Quartet featuring: Cindy Blackman on drums, Bennie Maupin on reeds and Patrice Rushen on piano was awesome, but we got out at about 10:00, visited for another half hour and then I had to drop three people off who lived no where near me.

Fatigue and my inability to get myself together: black pants had a tiny hole near the zipper and I couldn't see the eye of the needle to get the thread through the hole--(I need to get my new prescription filled)meant the public transportation option was not an option at 8:30 AM this morning.

Clothes laid out the night before, I'd planned to wear my designer Free the San Francisco 8 t-shirt, which I did. Then there was the problem of which hat to wear. With the increased heat I wanted to protect my eyes and skin. Today was a spare the air day...smog visible on the horizon.

As I said, it was crazy hot...still is and the sun is down. I felt bad that I had to drive today, but I couldn't miss the proceeding. Once we were inside the court, one young woman we'd met in the hallway as we looked for the courtroom said, "That was fast."

I got the impression that she'd expected something exciting to happen, like heated arguments or an acquittal (smile). I'd expected an acquittal. After all, the prosecution said last month when exonerating the four members of the SF8: "there is insufficient evidence to prosecute."

My intention was to walk to BART and conserve energy, but it's good I drove. After the short preliminary hearing, which was postponed until October 9, 9 AM in Room 22 (3rd floor). I ended up giving Elder Freeman, who was hit by a car last year, his left leg injured, Shabaka who uses a cane, and Jahahara who was pooped after walking from the Transbay Terminal, curbside rides back to the East Bay were certainly welcome. I just wish the brothers had given me a tip (smile). Gas is hovering near the $3.00 mark again.

But let me get to the hearing--brief that it was.

When I arrived, Greg and Elena along with a few other comrades were in the security clearance line at 350 Bryant near the doorway, the line snaking its way to the scanner. By the time my turn came to walk through the monitor, Greg, Elena, Claude and everyone else who I recognized, all disappeared into the elevator. When I reached the third floor it was a ghost town.

So I started checking courtrooms. Judge Mascone was not presiding in Rm. 22,and upon further investigation and inquiry of a few people on the floor, I couldn't find where he'd been relocated.

All those people couldn't have disappeared!

I went downstairs as advised by a woman in a suit (she could have been an attorney) and checked with the clerks in Room 101. I was advised that Moscone was in Room 22. OK, maybe I was looking too hard and missed them.

I rode upstairs and checked again.

Nope, nada, not there.

When I went back downstairs and told the clerk he wasn't there, she told me to ask the clerk in Rm. 22 what the new room assignment was...that would have taken more time than I had as the court was full and I couldn't interrupt her, I responded. Tough was the answer and the look.... But a kinder woman told me to check Rm. 24.

I'd run into Jahahara and Charles and another comrade as I was wandering the halls on the third floor. As we boarded the elevator to try Rm. 24, a man getting out said he'd just left the courtroom and that he'd show us where they were.

Immediately when we walked back down the familir hall and Jahahara opened the outer door and I looked through the window, there was Cisco's back to the chamber audience, with his attorney. Kiilu was seated not far from the entrance, three of the SF8 members: Ray, Hank, Richard, and their supporters, many of whom had on Free the SF 8 tee shirts. Hamidyah was there, Javad, Joan, Nelly Wong, Scott Braley, and others.

The turn out was impressive and we filled both sides of the room. The rally earlier had been spirited I heard, with about 70-80 people.

Almost as soon as we sat down Judge Moscone came in. The prosecution said a few words after the judge announced the case number and name, Cisco's attorney asked for a continuance to review the material, the prosecution plans to use for its case. The judge asked if he would have enough time given the volume of material--Cisco's attorney said it was enough time.

There is no new material, no new evidence which is why all the other courts have thrown out the case, which is the reason why this trial and this continued pursuit of these men, formally eight, now Francisco Torres, the United States government, State of California Attorney General's office wastes valuable resources, resources which could be directed towards education, health care, and numerous other programs cut or underfunded as the budget is balanced on the backs of the disenfranchised citizens of this state.

Despite our calls to drop the case last month the state continues its charge to pin a guilty verdict on our brother. Wishful thinking is not sound evidence, yet losers, these losers, three-four time losers seem to think the tea leaves will give them a different outcome.

What is the definition of a crazy person (read crazy corrupt legal system)?

SF8 defendant, Jalil Muntaquim's brother David Brown was there looking a lot better than when his brother plead "no contest" and four SF8 men were exonerated. He said Jalil was in Oklahoma, as of Saturday, August 8. The federal government was trying to decide which New York prison the men (Jalil and co-defendant, Herman Bell) would be relocated to.

I hope the next news will be of the men's parole success. (Listen to an interview with Cisco, his attorney, Hank, Ray, Richard Brown, and Harold in July's archived shows at

Besides Shabaka ji jaga's visit from Memphis, another person in town this weekend with his partner, Saki Hall (Free Speech Radio, Atlanta, GA), was Kali Akuno, Malcolm X Grassroots. We hope to speak to him August 29 on Wanda's Picks Radio Special edition, 6-8 AM PST. He will be on the ground in New Orleans. We will have our report back the following day, Sunday, August 30, 5-9 PM at Shashamande Restaurant and Bar on Broadway Street in Oakland.

(I included with Cisco's remarks at the Free the Cuban 5 event August 7, a photo of Alicia, representative for the United States Defense Committee and Carlos, who participated in the program. There is also a shot of the exhibit title. The work of political prisoner Antonio Guerrero's "From My Altitude," is up through August 31 at La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley. Listen to an interview I had with Alicia and Carlos at Wanda's Picks Radio.)


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