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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Supes' Resolution Links Arrest of Alleged Cop-Killers to Iraq Torture Scandals

Posted By on Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 10:55 AM

Sgt. John V. Young
If leftist supervisors sought to show the world that their sympathy for a group of alleged cop-killers in San Francisco was more than a zany political stunt, they have done themselves no favors with a new resolution that links the men's arrest to the Bush Administration, Guantanamo, and Abu Ghraib.

The resolution, which will be reviewed this afternoon by the supes' Government Audit and Oversight Committee, urges California Attorney General (and presumed 2010 gubernatorial candidate) Jerry Brown to drop all charges. Sponsoring the legislation are supervisors Eric Mar, Sophie Maxwell, Ross Mirkarimi, and Chris Daly.

Expect plenty of blowback on this one from the San Francisco Police Officers Association, whose president, Gary Delagnes, has already proclaimed that supervisors backing the so-called San Francisco Eight are "spitting in the face of every cop in San Francisco." The men are charged in the 1971 shotgun killing of Sgt. John V. Young during an attack on the Ingleside Police station.

In the 1970s, three men, including one of the defendants, were interrogated in New Orleans about the murder. A judge later threw out charges based on those interviews because of allegations of torture. In 2007, charges were brought again -- this time, police claim, with new evidence.

The supervisors' resolution in support of the men leans heavily on the torture claims, which it links to Bush Administration abuses at Guantanamo, as well as the Abu Ghraib and Bagram prisons in Iraq. It also takes some considerable liberties with the historical record. For example, it describes the San Francisco Eight as "respected and valued community elders." In some cases, that may be true. But it's hard to make the case for at least two of the defendants, Herman Bell and Anthony Bottom, who are already serving life sentences for the murder of police officers in New York City.

The resolution also denounces the FBI's COINTELPRO surveillance program of the 1960s and 1970s, which it says was "designed to disrupt and destroy progressive and community-based organizations," including the "Black Panther Party for Self-Defense." COINTELPRO wasn't pretty, but neither was it equivalent to the paramilitary arm of Fox News. Some of the program's targets -- the Weathermen, the Black Liberation Army, the Symbionese Liberation Army -- may have considered themselves progressive, but they were also bent on shedding innocent blood in the name of incoherent political goals.

At any rate, expect the resolution to sail through Government Audit and Oversight, where all three seats are held by sponsors of the measure. The item is expected to come up for review by the full board next Tuesday, when things could get interesting.

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Peter Jamison


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