Support grows for Black Power Movement political prisoner Chip Fitzgerald
- Free ‘Chip’ Fitzgerald
Support grows for political prisonerBy Judy Greenspan
Published Jul 3, 2008 8:47 PM
The U.S. war against the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, directed by the FBI through its infamous Cointelpro program, is alive and well today. Former Black Panther Party members remain in jail on trumped-up charges from California to Louisiana. On July 2, Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, in prison for over 38 years and the longest-held BPP member, goes before the California parole board.
In 1968, Bobby Hutton, the 17-year-old National Treasurer and BPP leader, was shot and killed by the Oakland police. Then on January 17, 1969, John Huggins and Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter, two leaders of the Southern Chapter of the BPP, were murdered. Later that year, then-FBI-head J. Edgar Hoover issued his famous statement calling the Black Panther Party “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.”
Fitzgerald was involved in a shootout with Los Angeles police and was wounded in the head. For defending himself against a police attack, he was later arrested and charged with assault on the police and the murder of a security guard. He was convicted and originally sentenced to death, which was later commuted to life imprisonment.
California, with its massive prison population and equally massive prison construction policies, is in the forefront of this country’s racist railroading of Black, Latinos, Native American and poor white people into prisons and jails. In May 2007, Fitzgerald issued an eloquent statement documenting the inhumane warehousing of human beings “in concrete and steel bunkers that destroy human sensibilities and the human spirit.”
Despite nearly 39 years behind bars, Fitzgerald states unequivocally, “I remain a revolutionary!” He calls upon “progressive and revolutionary people [to] rise up and seize the day!”
He knows that the parole board is racist and law-enforcement-oriented, filled with ex-prosecutors and retired sheriffs.
However, he maintains hope that political action for his release and against the expanding prison system can make an impact.
Just one year ago, Fitzgerald was transferred to Centinela State Prison near the Mexican border.
Despite this attempt to isolate him, Fitzgerald and his defense committee have been actively organizing to support his upcoming parole effort.
The Committee to Free Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald has sponsored an online petition, organized rallies and written news articles for progressive publications around the state.
For more information contact the Committee to Free Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald at
You can also sign the petition to free him at www.freechip.org.
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