Roger- PA Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Youth (cont’d)

“There have always been people incarcerated for the fact of their resistance. Men had been incarcerated for their resistance to the colonialism of the United States. The Puerto Ricans were citizens at the time of 1917. Just in time for 20,000 people to be drafted into WWl. But you were told at some point that it was illegal to fly the Puerto Rican flag. Now you could go almost anywhere and see the flag all over, and it comes out of that sense of resistance. But that resistance was landing people in jail. 

There was an incident in 54 where some people were some people went into congress they unfurled the Puerto Rican flag and they fired some shots. One Congressmen was wounded but most of the shots were in the air. They weren’t there to kill anybody, they were there to protest the fact that the United States was pressuring the United Nations to say that Puerto Rico was a colony. A number of people were arrested in 1981 for being part of these underground organizations. Now the campaign is for a man named Oscar Lopez who won a bronze star for his work as a soldier in Vietnam. And his story was that was with a number of Latinos who were scouting on a high risk operation. Gun fire broke out, almost everyone was killed, he had his rifle and the viet cong soldiers took his rifle, let him live. He thought about the implications of that. He changed he came back, he helped out with a school, worked in Social Services in Chicago. He joined this Underground group and was arrested.   He was charged with 28 counts of armed propaganda, in all of those charges not one drop of blood was shed. His sentence was 75 or 78 years. Obviously a political sentence. In the United States you say you don’t get political sentences but obviously you do. 

Oscar went through sleep deprivation and torture basically for 12 years, most people would be driven crazy after 2 or 3 years.  He’s been in jail for 33 years, he’s been in many terrible situations, because as a political prisoner he is a target. 11 people were released by Clinton in 99, and I’ve had a chance to work with them, if you wanted to be inspired by people because of their character, their honesty and integrity. Their commitment to their community to their nation. Their sacrifice. “
The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth is the national campaign working to end the practice
of sentencing children to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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