SWP's line on Mark Curtis
Dennis P. Tyler
dptyler at hamlet.uncg.edu
Thu Sep 14 21:53:28 MDT 1995
Scott Solomon has posted a couple of times on the SWP's support of Mark
Curtis and his own and other people's opposition to this cause. His posts
were very informative and I've thanked him off-list for them, but I felt
he hadn't really covered the SWP line.
As I have said before, I am not in the SWP and I have no intention of
joining, however I do get mail from them from time to time. Recently, I
received a leaflet containing the text below. I do not support this
position, but in the interests of representing both sides of this debate,
I've posted a large chunk of it below.
+++++++++++++PAROLE MARK CURTIS!
Join us in helping to win freedom for a jailed union and political activist
Why is Mark Curtis Still in Prison?
Mark Curtis, a political activist, a member of the Socialist Workers
Party, and member of the United Food and Commercial Workers union at the
Monfort meatpacking plant at Des Moines, was arrested on March 4, 1988,
beaten by the police, and framed up on charges of rape and burglary.
Curtis has spent the last seven years in Iowa prisons. Prison and parole
officials have repeatedly refused to release him on parole and have
victimized him for his political activity behind bars.
Even though Curtis has met the requirements for release on parole under
Iowa law for a number of years, the authorities have refused to let him
go. Instead they raise new obstacles to his fight for freedom. With
each passing year, these efforts become rawer, more transparent, and make
it clearer that their treatment of Curtis is a product of political
prejudice. More and more people are asking, "Why is Mark Curtis Still in
For years Curtis had been involved in protests against Washington's wars,
against racism and police brutality, and in defense of women's rights.
Just before his arrest, Curtis spoke out in Spanish at a public meeting
called to protest a raid conducted by the Immigration and Naturalization
Service on the packing plant where he worked. Seventeen of his coworkers
from Mexico and El Salvador were seized in the raid and thrown in jail.
Curits spoke about the need for the union to defend the 17 and said that
fighting for the unity of all packinghouse workers would strengthen the
union to combat the brutal efforts of the packers to attack wages and
"This is not a case about rape," veteran Des Moines civil rights and
political activist Edna Griffin explained after she heard of Curtis'
Arrest and found out the facts. "It is about the issue of the immigrant
workers. Mark Curtis is a dangerous man, in my opinion, because he
speaks Spanish and can communicate with the immigrant workers and worked
side by side with them in the plant."
After arresting Curtis and finding political literature in his car, Des
Moines cops took him to the city jail and beat him, smashing his
cheekbone and opening a gash that took 15 stitches to close. As they
clubbed him, the cops shouted, "You're a Mexican lover, just like you
love those coloreds."
Curtis was convicted in September 1988 after a trial that was a mockery
of justice. Curtis was refused the right to present crucial evidence
concerning the police frame-up and convicted even though he proved he was
in a restraurant with dozens of coworkers at the time the alleged rape
In 1992, in the midst of public outcry against police beatings of Rodney
King in Los Angeles and of Larry Milton in Des Moines, Curtis won a civil
rights lawsuit against the cops who brutalized him. This victory
demonstrated that the cops lied about Curtis' arrest. He was awarded
$64,000 in damages and attorneys' fees.
There's more, but I'm tired of typing this in. If you're interested in
hearing about the SWP position, I'll continue posting this later.
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