Mark Curtis

James Miller jamiller at igc.apc.org
Fri Jun 21 13:11:28 MDT 1996


MARK CURTIS IS RELEASED

   The following article is taken from the July 1 issue
of the Militant newspaper (US), and is posted to the
Marxism list by Jim Miller, Seattle.

/** militant.news: 2366.0 **/
** Topic: 960701-Curtis Is Out Of Prison, But Still Not A Free Man **
** Written  7:33 PM  Jun 20, 1996 by plink in cdp:militant.news **
************************************************************************
Title: 960701-01--Curtis Is Out Of Prison, But Still Not A Free Man
                                                         {lead story}
************************************************************************
>from the Militant, vol.60/no.26                          July 1, 1996


BY ANGEL LARISCY
   FT. MADISON, Iowa - "Many people tell me I should take it
easy, that it would be best to live the quiet life after I'm out
of prison and home," said Mark Curtis to 32 supporters who had
gathered across the street from the maximum security prison here.
   "But I can't live quietly in a world where over 30 Black
churches are burned to the ground; where U.S. troops roam the
globe at will to make things safe for big-business interests; a
world that creates the kind of hell I just came from."
   After seven and a half years in prison, Mark Curtis left the
grounds of the Iowa State Penitentiary here at 8:14 am on
Tuesday, June 18, to address supporters of his fight.  Imprisoned
since 1988 on frame-up charges of attempted rape and burglary in
Iowa, Curtis recently won parole to Chicago, Illinois, where his
wife, Kate Kaku, resides.
   Trade unionists, political activists, family and other
supporters traveled from eight states to welcome Curtis,
celebrate this victory, and at the same time recommit themselves
to his continued defense, as Curtis faces new challenges on
parole.
   Hazel Zimmerman, a longtime leader of the Mark Curtis Defense
Committee (MCDC), chaired a welcoming ceremony held across the
road from the prison immediately after Curtis's release. She
greeted Curtis "on behalf of the many thousands of people all
over the world who have worked hard for this day."
   Tom Alter, speaking for the Young Socialists National
Committee, welcomed Curtis and said, "Your struggle has been an
inspiration to us in the Young Socialists as you have reached out
to fighters around the world." Alter noted that now that Curtis
was released, he and other YS members looked forward "to fighting
shoulder to shoulder with you for a socialist future."
   Supporters of Mark Curtis formed the MCDC in days following
his unjust arrest in Des Moines. The committee moved its offices
to Chicago earlier this year in anticipation of Curtis's release.
   "While you're free from these walls, you're not a free man,"
said Chris Naper, a leader of the MCDC in Chicago. Naper was
referring to Iowa and Illinois parole conditions and to
legislation recently passed in Illinois that requires all those
convicted of a sex crime to register with local law enforcement
officials for ten years after their release from prison.
   Because Curtis was framed on charges of sexual assault, prison
officials made him sign an Iowa sex offender registry form before
he could be released. Within 72 hours after his release Curtis
has to report to his parole officer; report to the Chicago police
department to register as a sex offender; and report to the Iowa
state police to give a blood sample for DNA fingerprinting. Under
the parole conditions, he will not be allowed to leave Cook
County, Illinois, without special permission.
   The defense committee has secured a legal team to help, Naper
reported, and has pledged to lend its support to assure that
Curtis' rights are protected "until you're totally free from all
these undemocratic restrictions."
   Joel Britton welcomed Curtis on behalf of the Socialist
Workers Party National Committee. "Your unjust imprisonment is
over - an unjust parole of uncertain duration has begun,"
Britton said.
   "Your comrades and supporters in Chicago are ready to work
with you - to get employment, to get acclimatized to your new
life outside prison walls, Britton added. "To get back, in due
time, into the political world out here made richer by a
capitalist crisis deeper than it was when they took you away from
us; made richer by the political polarization we see deepening;
made richer by the struggles of working people all over the
world."
   Mark Curtis began his remarks with a quote from James P.
Cannon, a founding leader of the SWP who was jailed with other
party leaders for his opposition to U.S. entry into World War II.
Upon his release from prison in 1945, Cannon greeted supporters
by commenting, "As I was saying before I was so rudely
interrupted . . ."
   For more than seven years he spent in half a dozen different
Iowa prisons, Curtis has remained a political activist and
socialist. "The world I am coming out into is very different," he
said, noting the deepening capitalist economic crisis and the
impact it is having on working people worldwide.
   While in prison, Curtis said, he watched Nelson Mandela win
his release from jail in apartheid South Africa, he cheered for
the Russian people as they broke the chains of Stalinist
bureaucracy, and he followed the ongoing struggle of the Cuban
people as they move to strengthen their revolution in the face of
imperialist hostilities and a world economic crisis.
   Curtis said that he is going to Chicago to pick up where he
left off by getting a job and getting involved in political
activity. He said he looked forward to standing "shoulder to
shoulder with fighters like those on strike against McDonnell
Douglas."
   Explaining why he can't live the "easy and quiet life," Curtis
said the conditions that capitalism is breeding and forcing
workers to live under "are calling me back" to get involved in
the fights of working people.
   "I pledge myself to take every opportunity to publicize and
build support for others who have been framed-up and victimized,"
said Curtis pointing to the cases of Native American activist
Leonard Peltier and Black journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal.
   His recent experiences have reinforced his view that "there is
no better calling than that to commit your life to helping to
lead the fight against capitalism and for a better society."
   United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union member David
Ochoa took the day off from his job at a meatpacking plant in
Perry, Iowa to travel to Ft. Madison to greet Mark Curtis. "He's
a man who's done a lot for immigrant workers," explained Ochoa as
he waited for Curtis' release. "He's trying to make a change in
the capitalist system and fight for workers' rights."
   Frankie Travis, a member of the United Paperworkers
International Union (UPIU) from Decatur, Illinois also missed a
day of work to attend the event. "Mark Curtis inspired people
like me and others around the world with the spirit he showed
while he was in prison."
   After the welcoming ceremony, Curtis and his supporters drove
to Peoria, Illinois, for a luncheon. As people talked informally,
Hazel Zimmerman noted that Curtis's remarks at the prison were
"just like the speech he gave supporters in the courtroom
following his conviction" in 1988 when he turned his back to the
judge, faced supporters, and explained how he would leave the
prison the same man as he went in. Zimmerman said she thought
this was the biggest victory.
   Curtis's mother, Jane Curtis, who had traveled from New Mexico
for the occasion, said she agreed. "They certainly have not
succeeded in dampening his political spirit."
   Supporters in the Chicago area have reaffirmed their
commitment to holding weekly meetings to organize to publicize
Curtis' victory in winning parole and to stand ready to defend
him from whatever new violations of his rights may occur.
   To make a financial contribution toward Curtis' legal expenses
and for more information on how you can help, write the Mark
Curtis Defense Committee at P.O. Box 477419, Chicago, IL 60647,
call (312) 235-4820 or E-mail at 75543,1440 (Compuserve).

   Angel Lariscy is a member of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic
Workers Union (OCAW) Local 7-807 in Mapleton, Illinois.


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