Highlighting political prisoners

“Our grandchildren will be slaves, our lives have been ruined. Every one of us,” speaker Rob Los Ricos said last Thursday at the Students for Unity “Law and Disorder” event in the Smith Memorial Student Union.

“Our grandchildren will be slaves, our lives have been ruined. Every one of us,” speaker Rob Los Ricos said last Thursday at the Students for Unity “Law and Disorder” event in the Smith Memorial Student Union.

A number of civil rights activists spoke at the event, which began at 2 p.m. and ended around 6 p.m. Local hip-hop artist Mic Crenshaw performed and a Q-and-A forum with the speakers was held in conjunction with the event.

 Students For Unity Event Coordinator Stephanie Rio Collier coordinated the program.

“We worked in partnership with the Northwest Student Coalition, the Jericho Movement and other Portland area student groups, as well as Reed College,” Collier said. “The event was actually held at two other universities—Mt. Hood Community College and Washington State University at Vancouver.”

Collier said that the event was created to bring about awareness of police brutality, political prisoners and the framework of a police state. The program also helped to initiate an Oregon Chapter of the Jericho Movement, which is a movement spearheading the recognition of political prisoners in the U.S. prison system.

The Law and Disorder event began with Mic Crenshaw performing five songs for an audience of about 150 people.

Los Ricos, a self-proclaimed anarchist who had just completed a seven-year prison sentence for rioting and assault in Eugene, spoke about a future under the “new world order of bankers and government.”

He began his speech by talking about the ills of capitalism and the growing consumerism around the world.

“Hold your head up high, Panthers movin’ by,” and “free the people,” were two slogans shouted by the anarchist, speaker, writer and a former Black Panther member Ashanti Alston Omowali. Alston spoke on the principles of anarchism and civil rights. He also told stories about what his participation had been in the Black Panthers, as well as what people can do to be involved in anarchist movements around the country.

He spoke of what racism looks like today, and the ways in which freedoms are abridged by the state on a daily basis. Alston served more than 10 years in prison after being arrested for armed robbery. He remarked that robbing banks was like being Robin Hood.

Commenting on what being free means, he said that “to be free you gotta be a little crazy.”

Jeff Luers a convicted “eco-terrorist” spoke about forest conservation, the environment and his concepts on anarchism. He was previously convicted as a terrorist and initially sentenced to a 100-year prison sentence for arson and domestic terrorism.

Luers is internationally known as a political prisoner. He appealed his case and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2008. He was released in 2010. Luers said that there is a “terrorist plot” pushed by the government that is similar to the Red Scare. He has participated in many protests, notably the Fall Creek tree sits.

“A man can posses a cyanide bomb and not be a terrorist—I can give a speech and be labeled a domestic terrorist,” Luers said.

Tre Arrow, an environmental activist and anarchist, spoke and performed a song he created in prison called
“Rise Up.” Arrow was convicted on arson counts that date back to 2001. In 2004 he fled to Canada and asked for asylum. It was not granted and he was extradited to Portland. In 2008 he was sentenced to six and a half years in prison. In 2009 he was released and sent to live in a halfway home in Portland. Arrow spoke about civil rights, protecting the environment and what it means to be an anarchist.

Sophomore Timothy Moss also read poems that he composed regarding the civil rights movement, saying “It’s bigger than doing this, it is a lifetime investment, and it is really heavy.”

 Collier can be contacted for information about future events at [email protected]