ANOTHER VIEW ON MARK CURTIS --BILL MAGDALENE
ss341 at columbia.edu
Tue Aug 15 17:39:48 MDT 1995
The "debate" over Mark Curtis has been pursued on
Alt.politics.socialism.trotsky, with Scott Solomon, Rob Frantz, and Bill
Magdalene against Curtis vs. Marcel Hatch of Freedom Socialist Party, Ian
Donovan an ex-Spart in England, and Ben Burgis of ISO for Curtis all the
Gf Wheatley, another ex-Spart, called the Curtis debate a "rat hole".
Just today, Bill Magdalene posted a beautiful summary of a key issue in
the Curtis case. I post for those of you who are interested:
From: <w-magd at maroon.tc.umn.edu>
Subject: TO ALL WHO WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Message-ID: <71348.w-magd at maroon.tc.umn.edu>
Organization: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Date: Tue, 15 Aug 1995 22:40:33 GMT
NOTE: If you are an APST reader who is not already entrenched in the
political positions of a particular party, you might consider skipping to
the end of this post and simply reading the two opposing accounts of how
SWP-member Mark Curtis got to the home of Demetria Morris on March 4,
1988, the day Morris was sexually assaulted, a crime for which Mark
Curtis was convicted by an Iowa jury.
After reading both accounts, you might well decide to investigate the issue
further yourself and, perhaps, speak out about this on-going crime
within-and-against the left, a crime that is too inconvenient to
acknowledge for many of APST's working-class heros.
In an APST post on August 8, 1995, I politely asked Ben Burgis (member,
ISO) and Ian Donovan (former member, Spart?) to answer one question:
-- How did Mark Curtis end up at the Morris home the day Demetria Morris
was sexually assaulted?
As far as I am aware, neither Ben Burgis nor Ian Donovan (nor any other
supporter of Mark Curtis for that matter) has answered this question on
Just as one would doubt the assertions of a "progessive" or a "socialist"
who claimed his or her party to be capable of leading a revolutionary
struggle against the state while that same party had yet to win control of
even one union local, one should also doubt the claims of those who offer
to lead struggles against, say, racism or sexism while patently ignoring
criminal instances of these sicknesses _within_ the progressive
community. That being said . . .
_IF_ the preponderance of evidence indicates that Mark Curtis did in fact
sexually assault Demetria Morris on March 4, 1988, _THEN_ the Mark Curtis
defense campaign has collected (approximately) $2 million to-date by means
of a criminal enterprise. And further . . .
_ALL_ parties and activists on the left who have simply accepted the SWP's
Curtis frame-up account in spite of available evidence to the contrary have
thereby demonstrated that their own talk about struggles "for socialism"
and "against oppression" is worse than hot air: These parties have shown
themselves to be either too gullible or too dishonest to be trustworthy in
any honest struggle.
To convince yourself about the nature and import of the Mark Curtis
issue, do something like the following:
(1) First read any or every piece of literature that defends Curtis.
(2) Then read Martin McLaughlin's book, _The Mark Curtis Hoax_.
(3) Finally, after doing (1) and (2), take a responsible stand on the
OK. Here are the two opposing accounts of how Mark Curtis wound up at
Demetria Morris's home the day she was sexually assaulted. I encourage any
supporter of Curtis to supply APST with an improved version of account 1 if
such an improvement is available. As it stands, anyone who cares to can
check the original source of the account (which I cite).
ACCOUNT 1. The alledged frame-up of Mark Curtis
(based on the account first printed in the SWP's newspaper _The Militant_,
March 25, 1988, and cited in McLaughlin, e.g., pp. 4-5)
Mark Curtis left his home on the night of March 4, 1988, intending to go to
the supermarket to buy groceries. A few blocks from his home, Curtis
stopped at a red light. An unidentified young black woman ran up to
Curtis's car while it was stopped at the light. She pleaded for help:
"Some guy is after me, and I'm scared," she said. She asked Curtis to give
her a ride to her house, three blocks away. He agreed. When they arrived
at the house, the woman asked Curtis to wait in an enclosed porch while she
checked inside the house to see if it was safe. She went into the house,
and that is the last that Curtis ever saw of her. A few minutes later two
cops charged onto the porch and grabbed Curtis. One cop took Curtis into a
bedroom, handcuffed him behind his back, pushed him down on the bed, and
pulled down his pants. "Let's see what you've done," the cop said. "What
have we got here."
Questions regarding account 1 (taken from MacLaughlin, e.g., p. 8):
-- How could the police know Curtis would leave his home on the evening of
-- How could they know he would get in his car and drive to the supermarket?
-- How could they know he would go alone in the car?
-- How could they know the route he would take, so the mystery woman could
be positioned to intercept him?
-- How could they know Curtis would catch a red light at her particular
corner? (There are more than a dozen red lights within a five-block radius
of Curtis's apartment.)
-- Why no evidence of the "mystery" woman?
-- Why no evidence of the "real attacker"?
-- Why no evidence that Demetria Morris and her family agreed to
participate in a frame-up of Mark Curtis?
ACCOUNT 2. (which I label, "Wrong house, Mr. Curtis")
(This account is a small piece taken from McLaughlin's detailed analysis
of the available evidence. I'm quoting from McLaughlin, pp. 95-96.)
"When Mark Curtis left his home around 8:45 p.m. on the night of March 4,
1988, it was to go shopping, as he said, but he was not going out only for
groceries. He went looking for his former neighbor, Keith Morrison, who
had lived across the street with his girlfriend Bonita Brown, and who sold
drugs for a living. Curtis knew that the two had just moved to 1545 17th
Street, eight blocks from his house, and he intended to go there and buy
drugs before going to the Hy-Vee store. As he had said in earlier
testimony, he wanted to "celebrate a little bit" after the events of the
day at Swift.
"When he arrived on 17th Street, he pulled his car to the curb in front of
the Morris house at 1529. It was dark, and he could not make out the
numbers, so he knocked at the closest house. Given the similarity of
names, even if he did ask someone on the block for the newly-arrived Keith
Morrison, he might easily have been directed to the home of Keith Morris,
who had lived on the block since Demetria was born. When Demetria and
Jason answered the door, Curtis asked for 1545 17th Street and for Keith
or Bonita, and was told that they did not live there and he had the wrong
number. But by then, his interest was drawn in a different direction. . . "
Account 2 squares with Demetria Morris's sworn testimony. Consider the
following excerpt from the 450-page trial transcript (quoted in McLaughlin,
pp. 17-19). Demetria is under direct questioning from prosecutor Catherine
Q: When you heard this person say "Mark" for the second time what did you
A: Me and Jason kind of looked at each other, because we thought it was
our brother Mark.
Q: And what happened then?
A: Well, I'd opened the door, see who it was, you know. It wasn't my
Q: Did you recognize the person that was there?
Q: Had you ever seen that person before?
Q: After you opened the door and saw it was a stranger and not your
brother, what happened then?
A: Well, the person had asked -- well, the man had asked for the address
of 1545 and our --
Q: What did you say?
A: I responded -- I told him that "You have the wrong address, this is
1525." My address is really 1529, because I wasn't sure I should be giving
out my address to a total stranger. Jason corrected me. He said, "No,
Demetria, it's 1529."
. . . .
Q: What did this man look like?
A: He was tall and skinny. Had like a skinny face. A mustache. Had a
jacket on. A plaid shirt with some corduroy pants.
Q: What did you notice about his -- notice about him?
A: I noticed that he had a -- a smelly odor on his breath.
Q: What did it smell like?
A: A combination of alcohol and cigarettes mixed together.
Q: Is this person in the courtroom today?
A: Yes, he is.
Demetria then pointed to Mark Curtis . . .
Q: And did you talk to this man?
A: I tried -- I pointed up and down the street. I tried to tell him it
could be up the street or down the street.
Q: And that's for this 1545?
A: Yeah. I was trying to direct him to where it might be. I wasn't for
Q: What happened then?
A: The conversation died down, and the last -- the last question he asked
me was, "Well, is your mother and father home to help me look for this
address?" And that time he was still wobbling his head back and forth
looking into the house when he asked that question.
Q: Well, did you have some conversation with him about any other persons
before he asked you about your parents?
A: Yes. I do remember he did ask for a Bonita and a Keith.
Account 1 sketches an impossible frame-up picture, suitable for
consumption only by criminals or the credulous. And no better frame-up
account has been offered by Curtis's supporters. I repeat: If they have a
better one, let them post it here on APST.
Account 2 squares with the sworn testimony. This testimony should be
studied. If you wish to study it, Martin McLaughlin's book _The Mark
Curtis Hoax_ is an invaluable aid. I urge you to get it and read it.
Bill Magdalene, editor
Student Development & Athletics Communications & Publications
University of Minnesota
(612) 626-1754 (fax)
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