LOS ANGELES (FinalCall.com) – Prosecutors have dismissed gang enhancement charges against members of a revolutionary liberation group that are awaiting trial on alleged illegal weapons charges. The dismissal comes one week after members of the Black Riders Liberation Party (BRLP) and other police brutality groups demanded their freedom at a press conference in Leimert Park on March 4.
Now prosecutors must decide whether to drop all charges and re-file the case without the gang enhancement, or proceed without it. The next hearing is set for March 26.
Meanwhile, bail for the BRLP’s leaders, General Wolverine Shakur (aka General T.A.C.O.–Taking All Capitalists Out), Aryana Shakur, his wife, Sechzwan White (aka Stress) and Nadia Shakur, has been set from $500,000 to $1 million.
“The judge agreed with us that the primary activities of the Black Riders is not the commission of crimes. They’re a political organization. You may not like what they have to say, but they are not a criminal street gang, robbing people, selling drugs or doing what gangs do,” said Atty. Aaron Jansen, who represents Mr. White.
The gang enhancement charge would have prohibited the group from congregating and organizing, which represents much of their activities throughout their community, activists noted.
According to a spokesperson, Comrade Lala, the BRLP was developed by members of the Bloods and Crips street gangs, who stopped gangbanging after educating themselves about history, slavery, repression and government oppression. Now, she said, they work to help others reform.
The Black Riders were arrested days apart in September, according to reports. One in L.A., two in Highland, Calif. (approximately one and one-half hours away) and the other in Oakland, Calif. The group insists they were targeted for their opposition to police brutality and suppression.
Police charged that the Black Riders were seeking weapons to shoot up various police stations throughout the city. They were infiltrated by an undercover police officer that offered to donate money and resources to the group, Atty. Jansen said, but they are innocent of any crimes.
The Black Riders’ case resembles the case of the “Liberty City 7”, where seven Black men were tried in December on charges of conspiring to blow up the Chicago Sears Tower and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) offices throughout the U.S. Their group, The Seas of David, was also infiltrated by FBI agents who were posing as members of al-Qaeda.
In the case of the Liberty City 7, Lyglenson Lemorin, a native of Haiti, was acquitted of all charges. The other six cases ended in a mistrial. But after the trial, agents rearrested Mr. Lemorin, and all seven are being retried.
DeAngelo Jones of the Revolutionary Autonomous Communities and Cop Watch Los Angeles expressed solidarity with the Black Riders. “The state’s gang enhancements and injunctions only criminalize and demonize our youth community organizers like the Riders, or anyone who chooses to organize outside of the state or the non-profit industrial complex,” he said. He called for the freedom of the Black Riders and all political prisoners.
Dedon Kamathi, an L.A.-based political scientist said elders should support the youth, particularly that those who have transformed from gang backgrounds and have been victimized by the crack cocaine epidemic. “Rather than getting involved in the social engineering programming, which has African brothers and sisters declare war on each other, they have taken the ideological and political mantle of revolution to create a social order against capitalism and racism,” he said.
Georgina Lopez of the October 22nd Coalition, which works to stop police oppression, said the Black Riders’ struggle is against abuse of power. “The police are the ones with all the weapons, tactics and organization to oppress our community and we’re not going to let them stop us from saying it’s wrong to shoot someone in the back of the head or back,” she said.