Tom Manning: 1946-2019

Discussion in 'protest, direct action and demos' started by DaveCinzano, Aug 8, 2019.

  1. DaveCinzano


    Via Kersplebeded:

    Kersplebedeb Newsletter #308 August 7, 2019

    Statement on passing of Tom Manning, by Ray Luc Levasseur
    Tom Manning's death on July 30 has me in the grip of an emotional riptide.
    I feel like part of me died with him.

    Tom was imprisoned at USP-Hazelton, WV at the time of his death. The
    ostensible cause of death, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, was
    a heart attack.

    I received Tom's last letter on July 15. He wrote that he was in dire
    circumstances, his medical needs treated with deliberate indifference,
    delays in receiving necessary medication, his body weak from lack of
    oxygen. Supporters scrambled to get a lawyer in to see him, but death
    arrived first.

    Tom battled the Bureau of Prisons criminal negligence of his medical needs
    for the past 10 years, beginning when he almost died from an untreated knee
    infection while at USP-Coleman, FL. As a result of that infection, most of
    his knee was surgically removed and he was wheelchair bound for the rest of
    his days.

    But he was not through fighting.

    When he arrived at FMC-Butner, NC for further medical treatment he was kept
    in solitary confinement under abysmal conditions for 3 years. Much-needed
    knee and shoulder surgeries were repeatedly delayed until pressure from
    Tom's supporters forced the BOP to act. But the surgeries came too late,
    and combined with the lack of necessary rehab insured that Tom remained in
    a wheelchair.

    Tom always had the warrior spirit, right to his last breath. Many more like
    him, and the ruling class would tremble. The ache in my heart over his
    passing will be forever.

    In remembrance, I offer words I wrote in 2014 for Tom's book “For Love and
    Liberty," a collection of his paintings:
    “When Tom Manning and I first met 40 years ago, we were 27 years old and veterans of mule jobs, the Viet Nam war, and fighting our way through
    American prisons. We also harbored an intense hatred of oppression and a
    burning desire to organize resistance.
    As members of a community action group called SCAR, we worked its
    'survival programs' including a community bail fund, prison visitation
    program, and a radical bookstore. The Red Star North bookstore drew the
    venom of police – surveillance, harassment, raid and assault.
    Tom and I disappeared underground in the midst of this and COINTELPRO revelations. We remained underground for near 10 years, much of it on the FBI's ten most wanted list. We were tagged as 'terrorist' and 'extremely dangerous' because as 'members of a revolutionary group' we used explosives against targets of empire: predators of apartheid South Africa, Puerto Rico's colonialism, and the slaughter in Central America.*
    We considered our work anti-terrorist. It was a time, you see, when
    activists were killed, imprisoned, tortured and exiled. 'Winter in America'
    as Gil Scott-Heron put it, and raging hell in El Salvador. It was a time
    when the U.S. subcontracted its terrorism and if you were on the wrong end of it – you died.
    Sometimes when we met underground I noticed Tom sketched on scraps of paper. I was impressed with how well he drew. I said to him – man, you got talent, why not do landscapes, portraits, big pictures! His response – no time for that, for our priority was taking down this wretched system that
    disrespects and destroys life.
    The government's mandate is that Tom die in prison, as our comrade Richard Williams did in 2005 after a long period of medical neglect and solitary confinement.
    Tom has risen beyond the gulag's attempt to strip his humanity. You can
    feel the dignity and spirit of resistance in his paintings. He is one of
    those carrying heavy burdens, be they the 'sans-culottes' of the world, a
    Haitian health care provider, or a victim of police bullets.
    Political prisoners do not exist in a vacuum. They emerge from political
    and social conflicts. The ruling class and media attempt to criminalize,
    demonize and marginalize these prisoners, because recognition of political
    prisoners is de facto admission that serious conflicts exist and remain
    In 2006 an exhibit of Tom Manning's paintings – 'Can't Jail the Spirit' –
    opened at the University of Southern Maine. Police organizations throughout the Northeast conducted an intense 'shut it down' campaign. The police were particularly disturbed with the characterization of Tom as a 'political prisoner' and his painting of Assata Shakur on display. When the police got to the university's corporate funders, the USM president capitulated and the exhibit was ordered shut down. The exhibit's supporters then carried Tom's paintings through the city streets and rallied at Congress Square.
    'There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard,' reads
    Psalm 19:3 and the gravestone of Black freedom fighters Jonathan and George Jackson. Voice, through its many forms, articulates vision. Call it
    subversive art, liberating art, art that challenges the one-dimensional.
    Tom's art is a voice among the dispossessed that transcends concrete and
    razor wire with an affirmation of life.
    The paintings of Tom Manning and American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier; the creative work of Puerto Rican Independista Oscar Lopez Rivera; the poetry of anti-imperialist Marilyn Buck, which lives on; and the Earth defender poems of Marius Mason; the spoken word of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Mutulu Shakur. They are the voices of our political prisoners, principled and honorable men and women who communicate from isolation and suffering.
    We must not let their voices be suppressed. They need to be heard and
    celebrated by freedom loving people everywhere.”

    I extend deep gratitude to all those who provided some measure of support
    and solidarity to Tom during his 34 years in prison.

    With Tom's passing, Jaan Laaman remains the sole United Freedom Front
    prisoner. It's time to bring Jaan home.


    Ray Luc Levasseur
    Black August
    August 1, 2019




    cantsin likes this.
  2. DaveCinzano


  3. DaveCinzano


    Follow-up tribute from fellow - and only remaining - UFF prisoner, Jaan Laman:

    Tom Manning—Words of Remembrance, by Jaan Laaman
    August 11, 2019


    Class war prisoner, Freedom fighter, Man of the People, long held political prisoner, Thomas William Manning, died on July 30, of a heart issue at the federal penitentiary in Hazelton, Kentucky.

    Tom—Tommy to his many comrades, family, friends, people that knew him, was a life long Revolutionary Freedom Fighter. From the early 70s, Tom was a public activist and organizer and later, a quite successful armed militant in the anti-imperialist underground. Captured in 1985, he and some of his comrades became known as the “Ohio 7/UFF“ (United Freedom Front) defendants.

    After many trials Tom was hit with 58 plus 80 year sentences. He was then thrown into some of the worst, harshest prisons in the United States. Being in captivity did not stop Tom from continuing to work and struggle for justice, freedom, Human Rights and the socialist and environmentally sustainable future so many people and our planet so need. Tom struggled against abuses inside prisons and continued to work for the independence struggles in Puerto Rico and Ireland, the Palestinian struggle and the then still ongoing anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. In fact Tom was very likely one of the two last anti-apartheid activists still in captivity anywhere in the world. Tom of course always continued to support the struggles of poor and working people in this country, the struggles of Black people, Native rights and land struggles, against police abuses and murders of civilians, people of color in particular.

    Tom was an artist, and accomplished painter. His artwork truly captures some of Tom’s essence: his portrayal of the dignity of working people, children, women, the strength and determination of the revolutionary fighters and leaders, and more. A beautiful book of some of Tom’s art was published in 2014 — “For Love and Liberty“.

    Now Tom is gone. Our comrade, my comrade, who suffered years of medical neglect and medical abuse in the federal prison system, your struggle and suffering is now over brother. But your example, your words, deeds, even your art, lives on. You truly were a “Boston Irish rebel,“ a life long Man of and for the People, a warrior, a person of compassion motivated by hope for the future and love for the common people, a Revolutionary Freedom Fighter.

    We miss you and love you comrade… and we will carry on the struggle!

    Jaan Laaman
    Ohio 7/Anti-imperialist political prisoner
    (Black) August 2, 2019


    Jaan Laaman #10372-016
    USP McCreary
    PO Box 3000
    Pine Knot, KY 42635

    (When writing Jaan, remember you cannot send greeting cards, paper and envelopes must be white and no address labels can be used on the envelope).


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