I went to the local infoshop last night for a political concert event. It was really good, and I was surprised and pleased when one of the singer/songwriters, David Rovics, sang a couple songs about various political prisoners. One of them was Rod Coronado, and the other was Jeff (“Free”) Luers.
A couple points he brought up is that the charge Rod will be fighting in June (a mere 3 months after he gets out of prison from the 8 month sentence he is completing this week) is for a law that is so absurdly easy to break, that just being in a room where people sing a song with a chorus that says “burn it down!” makes you among the guilty. And Rod is facing 20 years if he doesn’t beat that charge. I hope he has an excellent lawyer.
The other point was something I’ve thought often about. Free’s rather absurd 23 years for burning 2 SUV’s that even the expert witnesses concluded were so far removed from any building that they couldn’t have caused harm to any humans. The damage was calculated at $50,000, and what wasn’t recouped by insurance money was surely recouped by the sale of the vehicles after they’d been rehabilitated. 23 years. There was someone from Ireland, I believe, who hated Margaret Thatcher so much that he tried to kill her. How much of a prison sentence did he get? Any guesses? Yeah, 23 years.
I do not think that setting fire to anything is an especially good way to fight for your cause. I also do not think that 23 years is in any way a reasonable sentence for setting 2 SUV’s on fire. What a sad state the state is in.
I recommend giving David Rovics a listen. It is “political folk”, as the best description I can come up with, but even if that isn’t your favorite kind of music, I think there’s something we could all learn from in his lyrics.
The other singer/songwriters were also excellent, with pointed messages. Mat Callahan + Yvonne Moore (Mat also wrote The Trouble With Music [AK Press]) and Spoonboy.
Despite the rather bleak political climate at this time, there is some good news with regards to Free Luers’ sentence and appeal:
We have some good news. The Court of Appeals just unanimously ruled that Jeff’s case will be reversed and remanded back to the Circuit Court for resentencing as a result of Judge Velure’s errors in imposing the original draconian sentence. The opinion just came out this morning and we are still reviewing it for details, but it looks like Jeff could potentially get about 15 years taken off his 266 month sentence. We will provide you with more information as it becomes known. The entire opinion is available here for those who are interested. Congratulations to Jeff and his family! Thank you to everyone for their support! Now, on to the next phase of the appeal for which donations are desperately needed in order to cover legal costs. Donation options are available here.
This is definitely a time when it seems that a donation, for any who has something to spare, is a good form of activism.