Political Prisoner Eddie Conway, though locked up has been busy continuing his work for justice and community self-determination. Framed for the murder of a Baltimore police officer and the shooting of two other officers, Eddie is actively fighting his life sentence in prison, has been instrumental in the mentoring program, A Friend of a Friend, and has released his autobiography, Marshall Law, which has been accompanied by a book tour and several speaking engagements over the phone at schools and community centers.
Read the details about all of this and more in his Summer Letter here-
EDDIE’S SUMMER 2011 LETTER
Greetings to everyone, I hope this update finds you in good health, and high spirits. It has been several months since my last letter. Many things occurred since the start of 2011. The most important for me is that my legal situation is moving forward. My lawyers are planning to file a petition in court this year seeking Some Relief for My Case. The second most important event was the release of my memoir Marshall Law: The Life and Times of a Baltimore Black Panther, written jointly by Dominque Stevenson and myself and published by A.K. Press. I will talk more about the book later.
The year started with the graduation of 35 mediators trained at the prison last year. This class of mediators is the first group of prisoners to receive official mediation training in the U.S. that we know of and perhaps the world! Many of them are already using those skills among the prison population and will be able to use them in the larger community upon return. The American Friends Service Committee Friend of a Friend program at Jessup Correctional Institution organized the activity, and Maryland Mediation provided the training. Key members from various prison programs and organizations received the training.
Another graduation of our mentoring program, A Friend of a Friend will take place in June 2011. Thirty or so mentees from Friend of a Friend program completed the course but missed their April graduation because the prison was in lockdown. Mentors worked with mentees for 6 months to develop skills needed not only to survive their prison ordeal, but also to be go back into communities and do work to restore them, and contribute positively. Several mentees have developed the skills necessary to become trained mentors. They have already started working with other prisoners. Each new individual who steps up is a plus and we welcome the help.
The release of Marshall Law is an attempt to share my story and some of the events and experiences that shaped my life and made me the man I am today. We kicked off a book tour in California in April and closed that month with a launch here in Baltimore. My co-author and I have done several radio interviews including Uprising on KPFK with Sonali Kolhatkar and We Ourselves on WPFW with Jared Ball. The book tour covered Oakland (CA), Los Angeles (CA), University of California at Riverside, and UC-Santa Barbara, Philadelphia (PA), Washington DC, and Providence (RI). We are also doing readings at a Political Prisoner film festival in Philadelphia on July 2; more details will be sent via email very soon.
The UC-Riverside event allowed me the opportunity to have a discussion with former political prisoner Susan Rosenberg and Riverside students. The L.A. event allowed me to speak to South Central supporters and activists, and USC students. I was able to participate via phone in the Black Political Imprisonment Symposium in Austin, Texas on April 23, my birthday. I shared a panel discussion with Robert King, a former political prisoner (Angola 3) and we are looking forward to working together.
Support around my case continues to help me survive this ordeal. A recent newspaper article reports on a rally held in Baltimore celebrating my 65th birthday. That’s right I am 65. Baltimore City Council passed a resolution calling for the governor to either parole or pardon me. Other voices around the country continue to speak out loudly for justice in my case. For those who don’t know, the two members of the Black Panther Party also arrested in the incident are no longer in prison. One, Jackie Powell died in prison in the 1980’s and the other, Jack Johnson was released a year ago, May 2010.
Thank you all for the messages posted on Facebook; I have supporters post messages and I get your messages even though I cannot access it myself. Please stay in touch with me about upcoming activities and events. We would very much appreciate any assistance with setting up readings and discussions of Marshall Law, so contact me if you can help. Thanks to all the radio hosts who keep my case in the public eye. In addition, equal thanks to the writers, reporters and critics who aid in discussions about political prisoners and prisons. Every kind of support helps all of us to continue to survive this ordeal.
In the future, I hope to see activists and supporters creating projects built around community survival named after one of the many political prisoners. This helps to keep our names out there and provides opportunity to educate the community about political prisoners. Projects could be local food gardens that involve the community growing their own food. This work can serve as a vehicle for discussion around self-sufficiency and as a collective response to the plight of our impoverished communities as well as addressing their needs.
All of us who consider ourselves progressive and or revolutionary should support efforts that challenge the corporations and the wealthy such as the recent US UnCut actions against individuals and corporations that do not pay taxes. We also can support the work of groups like Fund Our Communities who worked to push the Baltimore City Council to pass a resolution to cut military spending and provide funding in our communities. Ultimately, we should strive for self- determination in our communities, so that we don’t have to request crumbs from the table.
Please remain positive and continue to struggle for Justice and Peace.
M. Eddie Conway #116469
Jessup Correctional Institution
PO Box 534
Jessup, MD 20794