Political Prisoners in America

I just got in from an eye-opening event First Church in Leominster, UU.  My ordaining congregation just hosted a touring performance of the play Crimes Against Humanity, a production of the National Boricua Human Rights Network and Cafe Teatro/Batey Urbano out of Chicago.

This two act play, set entirely in one prison cell, is based on interviews with the “Evanston Eleven.”   On April 4, 1908 11 Puerto Ricas were arrested in Evansto, IL and accused of being members of the Armed Forces of Puerto Rican National Liberation (FALN).  A year later, three more were arrested.  Because of the colonial relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico the arrested claimed prisoner of war status.  They were charged with seditious conspiracy and were given lengthy, disproportionate sentences, signaling to supporters a political nature of their case.   A long international battle for their release gained the support of Jimmy Carter, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Coretta Scott King.  All but two of the prisoners were granted conditional pardons by President Clinton in 1999.

Their story contains overtones of the Leonard Peltier case to my ears.

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