Free the Liberty City 7Jul 1, 2006
July 1, 2006
Free the Liberty City 7
On June 22, 2006, the FBI arrested seven Black men, based in the Liberty City section of Miami, Florida, charging them with various counts of planning acts of violence. What distinguishes this case from the myriad of other Black men arrested in poor, oppressed communities is not that the men had no weapons to commit the acts of violence or even that they clearly lacked the capacity to advance the plot ascribed to them, but that in the arrests, the U.S. Government invoked the 't' word- “terrorism.”
In this politically charged atmosphere, speaking “terrorism” is not unlike the charge of “communism” during the McCarthy era in that all logic, question of authority and presumption of innocence is diminished. The Liberty City 7 (LC7) are being rail-roaded by the government, with the gleeful support of the media and the deafening silence of the majority.
The reality is the LC7 were entrapped by more than one paid government informant and used by the Bush regime to divert attention from it's own problems, while scoring political and public relations points. Most people have serious questions about the government charges, even if afraid to raise those questions publicly.
With the undercurrent of the post 9/11 political climate, the LC7 fell victim to the triple whammy: politically motivated arrests, the disparate treatment of Blacks as compared to other groups and outright government misconduct. Taken either individually or together, the conclusion is clear: the LC7 never should have been arrested, and, therefore, must be freed immediately.
Politically Motivated Arrests “Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials. “ New York Times, June 23, 2006
Heavy lobbying from the white house successfully delayed the release of a story exposing another instance of government spying without court approval or oversight. The story was damaging and was finally to be published in the New York Times on June 23, 2006. In a desperate bid to divert attention from this damaging story, the Bush regime ordered the arrests of seven impoverished Black men, most of Haitian descent, invoking images of terrorism, and timed to coincide with FBI director Robert Mueller's appearance on the Larry King show, one day before the story's release.
The strategy was successful for two reasons: first, the arrests and charges would strike fear in the minds of the public. Consequently, instead of condemning the government for violating their rights, the public thank the government for violating the rights of the accused, so long as they were accused terrorists. Second, the targets of the operation, young Black men, of Haitian descent, living in a poor Black community, falsely labeled as Muslims and easy to mis-characterize (“They did jumping jacks and marched in the middle of the night”), are the least likely to either engender the sympathy required from the media to cover the story aggressively or benefit from strong and immediate community defense and support.
The plan was spectacularly successful. The news of government spying on citizens and others was overshadowed by the news of seven Black terrorists with boots. However, political success is not the same as legal legitimacy. While the arrests were a public relations coup and successfully diverted media attention away from government wrongdoing, it has no legal value and has done nothing to save lives or property. Today, instead of discussing government spying on financial transactions, people talk about seven Black men charged with planning acts for which they clearly lacked the capacity, and probably lacked the desire, to commit.
Disparate Treatment On the same day of the LC7 arrests, the Miami Herald featured a front page story on Jose Antonio Llama and the Cuban American National Foundation, the powerful 501(c)3, federally tax exempt organization. Llama recounted, in detail, how the CANF purchased guns, boats and a helicopter and conducted training as part of a broader plan to launch violent attacks against the island of Cuba. Llama has receipts for the $1.4 million he spent on the weaponry and is demanding a refund.
Llama was willing to publicly disclose his own attempts to kill people and destroy property because he knew that the Herald would never call his actions “terrorism,” in fact, the word was not used even once in the article, and that the government would never arrest a wealthy, white, right wing Cuban on terrorism charges. Miami CopWatch (A Project of the Center for Pan-African Development) Page 2 Free the Liberty City 7
Orlando Bosch granted an on the air interview with Miami's channel 41, during which he confirmed what many suspected, that he actively partook in the bombing of a Cuban airliner in October of 1976. Not plotting or planning, but actually blew up an airplane, out of the sky, killing the 77 civilian passengers.
Today, both Llama and Bosch live comfortably in Miami, Llama demanding his refund and Bosch as a hero of right wing Cubans, unmolested by either the media or the US war against terror.
By contrast, the LC7, men unable to afford boots or digital cameras; men with no military training; men with no capacity to carry out coordinated acts of any sophistication; men who are poor; men who are Black; remain in federal detention, charged with plotting to blow up buildings without the benefit of explosives.
One can only imagine the fate of the Black men who would dare grant media interviews to demand refunds for the millions they spent on weaponry or justify their role in blowing up a civilian airliner. The racist double standard clearly demonstrates that the real objective of the US government is not to stop terrorism, but to arrest those people who look and think differently than what the government approves.
Government Misconduct The LC7 were entrapped. A man staved off deportation and won US residency by turning government informant and offering up Narseal Baptiste. The job was finished by an FBI agent offering fortune to an impoverished group of men. Some important factors to consider:
The government selected the targets, including the federal buildings in Miami. The government insisted pictures of the targets- supposed proof that the 7 were planning attacks- be taken. The men were unable to afford a camera or a rental car, so the government provided them. When the men were reluctant to take the pictures, the government gave them cash to take the pictures immediately. The government planned the Al Qaida oath, without the knowledge of the men. Some slept through the proceedings and others could not understand the oath itself. None requested an oath to Al Qaida. After the oath, the 7 broke up as a group. At the time of the arrests, they were not functioning as a group. The government tried to get the men to become a group again, offering financial incentives and pressure. The government hatched the entire plot and tried to get the men to go along with the plot- classic entrapment. The US government has a history of infiltrating and entrapping Black organizations, often arresting and sometimes killing the members.
The fact that the government was willing to contort and entrap, demonstrates that they were not at all confident that they had a case against these men. The objective, however, was not to catch terrorists, but to deliver political relief for the Bush regime.
Conclusion In spite of the damning nature of the facts, the obvious conclusion, that the LC7 should be freed due to government misconduct, has been difficult for many to reach. If this case differed by only one factor- the government invocation of “terrorism”- the call to free the LC7 would extend broadly and deeply.
However, that difference is precisely why the call to free the LC7 must be made and heeded. The political climate under which the arrests were made intimidates organizations, individuals and the media, effectively marginalizing common sense itself.
During the Cold War, the US domestic agenda turned its sights on targeting the Black community and Black organizations, under the pretext of fighting communism. Even though most drug use takes place in the majority white suburbs, a disproportionate number of arrests and police violence targets Black communities, under the pretext of ending drug use. Today, it appears that what many feared is coming to fruition: the war on terror will serve as yet another pretext to the criminalization of and attacks on the Black community and organizations.
Miami CopWatch joins InPDUM in calling to Free the Liberty City 7, and implores people of good conscience to demand the same.