`Other National Liberation
- David Gilbert
- Alvaro Luna Hernandez
- Hugo Pinell
- Tsutomu Shirosaki
David Gilbert, #83-A-6158 Auburn Correctional Facility PO box 618 Auburn NY 13021
David Gilbert was born in 1944. He has an interesting history as a member of The Weather Underground, which was a really busy radical revolutionary group who conducted a campaign of bombings through the mid-1970s. They also engineered the jail-break of habitual pot-felon Timothy Leary. Leery, you might remember, was an LSD researcher and devotee of the psilocybin mushroom – which he first started chowing down on in 1960. Oddly, the continually stoned and not-at-all careful Leery kept getting arrested for drug possession. Odder still, the state sentenced Leery to ten years in a low security facility where they made him – what else; a gardener! The Weathermen smuggled Leary and his wife out of the United States and into Algeria after collecting him in an old pickup truck.
The Weather Underground’s explosions mostly targeted government buildings, along with several banks. Most were preceded by evacuation warnings, along with communiqués identifying the particular matter that the attack was intended to protest. For the bombing of the United States Capitol in March of 1971, they issued a communiqué saying it was “in protest of the U.S. invasion of Laos.” For the bombing of the Pentagon in May of, 1972, they stated it was “in retaliation for the U.S. bombing raid in Hanoi.” They also did one at the U.S. State Department in 1975, but just said that one was a response to the Vietnam war more generally; as they must have reckoned by then it was probably unnecessary to be so specific. The Weathermen largely fizzled out at the conclusion of the Vietnam war.
David Gilbert grew up in a liberal Jewish family in the burbs of Boston. When David entered Columbia College in the fall of 1962 he was just a moderately dull, left-wing Democrat. By 1965, he was pounding the podium while speaking out against the Viet Nam war at rallies, was a revolutionary communist and New Left radical of the flame-shooting type. David joined the civil rights movement and counted many Black Panthers among his comrades. He travelled regularly to Harlem while working as a tutor, and saw Malcolm X speak at Barnard College. Following eleven years underground, David was arrested with members of the Black Liberation Army and other radicals following a botched armored car robbery in 1981. He is now a well-known prisoner serving time in upstate New York.
In prison, David co-founded an inmate peer education program on HIV and AIDS in the Auburn Correctional Facility in 1987, and a similar project at Comstock following his transfer there. He has published book reviews and essays in a number of small/independent newspapers and journals which were collected into a book; the anthology, ‘No Surrender: Writings from an Anti-Imperialist Political Prisoner,’ (Abraham Guillen Press) 2004. He has also published longer single pieces on the topic of misleading AIDS conspiracy theories and white working class political consciousness. Always a bohemian intellectual, David is morally passionate but also manages to be a pleasant and enthusiastic person.
Alvaro Luna Hernandez
ALVARO LUNA HERNANDEZ
Rt. 2, Box 4400
Gatesville, TX 76597
Alvaro Luna Hernandez, is a Chicano-Mexicano political prisoner sentenced to 50 years in prison for aggravated assault on an officer when he disarmed a sheriff that was intent on shooting him. Join the campaign to free Alvaro at www.freealvaro.net
Alvaro was born in Texas, in 1952 into a racially segregated barrio where police brutality was the rule of the day. In 1968, when Alvaro was 16, he witnessed his friend Ervay’s murder by a racist cop. As per usual, the cop escaped justice under the protection of the U.S. judicial system. Since that day in 1968, Alvaro worked tirelessly for Chicano rights and against police brutality. As a result, he was himself a constant target for police harassment and brutality. In 1976 Alvaro was falsely accused of murder. He narrowly escaped the death penalty but was sentenced to life in prison. After media highlighted Alvaro’s unfair trial and proof of his innocence, he was released. Later, Alvaro suffered a beating by a gang of police. Two deputy sheriffs were convicted for the criminal civil rights violations stemming from the beating. The cops received five years probation but as per usual; never spent a day in jail.
In the 1990s Alvaro worked as the national coordinator of an organization which led a successful struggle to free Mexican national – Aldape Guerra from Texas’ death row after he was framed by Houston police. In 1993, Alvaro was a non-governmental organization (NGO) delegate before the 49th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. Before the U.N. General Assembly, he vociferously exposed and condemned the U.S. government’s dismal human rights record and its human rights violations of U.S. political prisoners. Because of his work around police brutality and his active organizing in the barrios of Houston, the police began to dog Alvaro.
In 1996, Sheriff Jack McDaniel of Alpine, Texas, went to arrest Alvaro at his home on a charge of aggravated robbery (later dismissed). No warrant for the arrest was issued and when the unarmed Alvaro questioned the sheriff’s abuse of power, McDaniel became violently angry and drew his weapon. Before he could raise it and shoot, Alvaro disarmed him and fled to a nearby mountain. What followed next was the most massive manhunt in recent West Texas history. In fear for his life, Alvaro eluded police helicopters, bloodhound tracking dogs from the nearby state prison, armed vigilantes and other state and federal police agencies. Alvaro sought refuge in the mountainous country he explored as a kid. Days later, when Alvaro returned to his mother’s house to eat and change clothes, the police converged on the home en mass. Without identifying themselves, cops began shooting indiscriminately at the house, cars; everything in sight. Alvaro returned fire in self-defense but never shot anyone. Amid the chaos, he managed to dial 911 to alert other officials to the fact the police were trying to kill him and would not allow him to surrender. The City Manager pulled the plug on the “shoot first-ask questions later,”army of troopers and the plot to kill Alvaro was aborted. At Alvaro’s trial, witnesses described the police barrage as a “war zone.” The only incident to come of the ambush was that one cop was struck in the hand by a ricocheting bullet fired by another cop. Alvaro received a life sentence for what amounts to breathing while Hispanic. In prison, Alvaro was accused by prison administrators of gang affiliations and was stuck into a segregation unit. Alvaro has adamantly denied any gang affiliations but it was never the point anyhow. He was targeted because of his political views as part of a campaign of harassment by prison administrators that also included transferring him from laundry room, to field labor, threats from guards and denial of access to library materials – they didn’t like him filing suit against their many abuses of his human rights. Alvaro is still in the repressive “control unit.”
Since his jailing, Alvaro has filed several civil rights suits against county jail conditions, police abuse, and has helped other prisoners assert their legal and human rights.
Hugo Pinell “Dahariki” # A88401
P.O. Box 7500
Crescent City, CA 95532
Hugo Pinell is a Nicaraguan prisoner, who at 19 years of age, was accused by a woman of kidnapping, sodomy, and rape. Despite maintaining his innocence both then and now, Pinell, after being repeatedly told by interrogators that he would face the death penalty if he did not confess, eventually pled guilty. In 1964, Pinell, surprised to hear he was a wanted man, turned himself into the authorities to clear up what he thought would turn out to be a misunderstanding. The cops beat him several times because they figured he was guilty and the victim of the rape was white. Hugo’s court appointed attorney and the judge in the case convinced Hugo’s mother that he would die if he didn’t plead guilty. Under pressure from all sides and because someone apparently assured him he would only serve 6 months in jail and would then be paroled; Hugo pled guilty. He was then informed he would serve three years to life. While Pinell was imprisoned at San Quentin, he made contact with revolutionary prisoners such as George Jackson and became politicized. Along with fellow prisoners, Hugo fought for an end to guard brutality and racism, and for prisoner unity. In 1971, there was a prisoner uprising in Pinell’s housing unit at San Quentin, led by George Jackson. According to the state of California, lawyer-activist Stephen Bingham had smuggled a pistol concealed in a tape recorder to Jackson, who was housed awaiting trial for the murder of a prison guard. Jackson used the pistol to take over his tier in the prison. In the failed escape attempt, six people were killed, including three prison guards, two white prisoners, and Jackson himself. At the end of the 30 minute rebellion, the remaining six prisoners in the unit that had not been killed, including Pinell, were put on trial for murder and conspiracy. They were known as The San Quentin Six. Three were acquitted of all charges, and three were found guilty of various charges. Pinell was convicted of assault on a guard. Although Hugo was only convicted of assault, and another of the San Quentin Six had a murder conviction; only Pinell remains in prison. By 1998, all except Pinell had been set free. Since 1990, Pinell has been living in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison, in Crescent City, CA. Pinell has lost nine bids for parole. He will next be eligible for parole in 2024.
FCI Terre Haute
P.O. Box 33
Terre Haute, IN 47808
Tsutomu Shirosaki is a Japanese national imprisoned as a political prisoner in the United States. He has been accused of being a member of Japanese Red Army and participating in several attacks, including a mortar attack against a U.S. embassy. He is currently serving 30-years in a U.S Federal prison. Tsutomu was born in 1947 in central Japan. In the 1960s, he went to Tokyo University, where he received a degree in engineering. It was during his college years, where Tsutomu began to embrace left-wing philosophy. By the 1970s, Shirosaki was participating in various underground activities, including a string of bank and post office robberies. The actions were fund-raising activities for Japanese radical groups. In 1971, Shirosaki was arrested in Tokyo and sentenced to ten years in prison for an attack on a Japanese bank. In 1977, five members of the Japanese Red Army hijacked Japan Airlines Flight 472, in Bangladesh. They Demanded $6 million from the Japanese government and the release of nine prisoners held in Japan. The prisoners listed included radical activist and members of the Japanese Red Army. Six of the nine prisoners were liberated and taken to Bangladesh. One of them was Tsutomu Shirosaki. The released prisoners, the hijackers and the remaining hostages, then flew to Algeria, where the hostages were released. According to Shirosaki, the released prisoners and hijackers eventually wound up in Lebanon. After the drama of the hijacking settled, the Japanese authorities announced that the sprung prisoners should turn themselves in to the nearest Japanese embassy. With no response from the prisoners, the Japanese government placed the freed prisoners on the Interpol wanted list. Tsutomu Shirosaki, while choosing freedom, had no idea where to go. He had never traveled outside of Japan and spoke no other language than his own. The other freed prisoners found themselves in a similar situation. According to Shirosaki, the Japanese Red Army assisted the freed prisoners but despite their generosity, Shirosaki has stated that he never joined the Red Army. Instead, he became a volunteer fighter in the Palestinian revolution with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP.) In 1986, two mortar-styled rockets were fired into the U.S. Embassy compound in Jakarta, Indonesia. Then, two rockets were fired from a hotel room toward the Japanese Embassy. Also that morning, a car bomb exploded in the Canadian Embassy parking lot causing injuries to three people. A group calling itself the Anti-Imperialist International Brigade claimed responsibility for the action. The attacks were in response to the G7 summit in Tokyo. Seven weeks after the incident, the Japanese government announced that they had found a fingerprint of Tsutomu Shirosaki in the hotel room where the rockets were launched at the Japanese embassy. They also claimed the Anti-Imperialist International Brigade was another named for the Japanese Red Army. During the time of the attack, Tsutomu Shirosaki was still in Lebanon. He was not in Jakarta and was not a member of either the Red Army, or the Anti-Imperialist Brigade. Shirosaki did not respond to the claims of his involvement because he felt they were so stupid, plus, he was in Lebanon and thought that he was safe. Eventually, Shirosaki decided to return to South Asia. In 1996, local police in Kathmandu, Nepal arrested Tsutomu Shirosaki after he tried to contact some friends whose phone was tapped by the US National Security Agency. He was handed over to the FBI and extradited to the United States to stand trial. Shirosaki stood trial and was sentenced to two concurrent 20-year terms and also given 10-year terms on other chargers. The 20-year terms were ordered to run consecutively to the 10-year terms for a total prison time of 30 years.