The L.A. 8 – 18 years of harassment

The L.A. 8 have been in court, on trial. and harassed by the feds for eighteen years. Even though courts have ruled that what they were doing was completely legal, the U.S., in a complete miscarriage of justice, is attempting to deport two of them by applying the Patriot Act retroactively. That’s right, retroactively. 

From an ANSWER LA listserv

For nearly 18 years, the U.S. government has attempted to deport seven Palestinian activists and one Kenyan, who were arrested for advocating on behalf of the Palestinian liberation struggle. The government’s case is baseless. But it has tried to smear the eight as “terrorists.”

The trial was scheduled to resume this week but the judge issued an order a few days ago postponing it.

Eighteen years and counting. When will it end? From Socialism and Liberation magazine:

Although various courts have established that the LA8 engaged in completely legal acts, the government continues to seek deportation of two defendants, Michel Shehadeh and Khader Hamide. In July 2005, the prosecution will attempt to retroactively apply the USA Patriot Act to argue that eighteen years ago, by distributing pro-Palestine magazines, the LA8 were in fact providing “material support” to terrorists.

On several occasions the federal courts ruled that the LA8 had not been involved in criminal or terrorist activities—instead, the government had violated the First Amendment by selectively targeting the eight for constitutionally protected political activities.

Currently, the government is using the case of the LA8 to test the most repressive provisions of the USA Patriot Act. In September of 2004, the government brought charges against Shehadeh and Hamide for the distribution of Palestinian magazines and for raising funds for humanitarian aid in Los Angeles more than twenty years ago. The United States now claims that even though these activities were clearly legal at the time and protected by the First Amendment, they are deportable offenses under the Patriot Act.

The L.A. Times recently ran two comprehensive, quite long articles about the L.A. 8. 

Committee4Justice is the website for the L.A. 8. ANSWER LA will feature a talk about the Eight this Tuesday and I’ll podcast it.