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A Beautiful Spirit Imprisioned

October 3, 2012

As of October 4, 2012, Lumumba will have served ten years. It’s time to set him free!

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Patrice Lumumba Ford is a conscientious, gentle and gifted man. Raised in Portland, Oregon, he earned his BA in Languages & East Asian Studies at Portland State University and then did graduate work at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Nanjing. While in China, distressed by the marginalization of the Muslim minorities, he became interested in the Islamic faith and converted. He married a woman he met in China and brought her to the U.S., where they had one son, born in 2001. At home in Portland, Lumumba taught children at a SW Portland mosque and, as a volunteer, helped settle new refugees.
Following the September 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. government squandered the immense outpouring of international solidarity by bombing Afghanistan, putting American Muslim communities under siege, and resorting to highly publicized arrests to promote its new “War on Terror.”
When thousands of Afghanis fled to refugee camps in Pakistan, in Portland Lumumba reacted with alarm. In October 2001, he and five other men traveled to China, where they requested visas from the Pakistani embassy at Beijing. His visa refused, Lumumba returned to the United States, his family, and his work helping new refugees.
One year later, in October 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft went on national television announcing the synchronized arrests of “terrorists” in Portland, Detroit, Seattle and Lackawanna, New York. The arrests conveniently coincided with the administration’s political needs: they preceded by six days the Senate vote allowing President Bush to invade Iraq. The publicity machine for the war on terror needed “dangerous terrorists.”
Local newspapers dubbed defendants the “Portland Seven” (one man’s wife sent emails to China), and federal prosecutors threatened them with life sentences should they exercise their right to trial. Unsophisticated defendants panicked and signed plea bargains scripted by the Justice Department, in which they agreed to help prosecute other Muslims – known or unknown to them – whenever asked!
Lumumba, the last to plead guilty, refused to sign the clause to help with more prosecutions. For that refusal, in November 2003, he sentenced to 18 years for conspiracy to levy war against the United States. To enhance his sentence, the Bureau of Prisons has been moving him every 18-20 months to one maximum security federal prison after another, just often enough to block him from applying for re-classification to medium-security and thereby be eligible to come home to Sheridan. Thus far, he has been railroaded to Kansas, Southern California, Florida, Colorado and now Louisiana.
The time has come to look at this harsh sentence with our current understanding: Lumumba was punished for a legal trip to China, made under his own name and passport. The “Portland Seven” case was the concoction of FBI agents who have been ordered to find – or invent – some terrorists. In recent years, this policy has been ramped up with sting operations and false arrests across the country.
As of October 4, 2012, Lumumba will have served ten years. It’s time to set him free!
Write Lumumba in friendship & support:
Patrice Lumumba Ford, 96639-011
USP Pollock
P.O. Box 2099
Pollock, LA 71467

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One comment on “A Beautiful Spirit Imprisioned”

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