Where Was the Support for Lorenzo Komboa Ervin and the Chattanooga 3?

Submitted by libcom on July 29, 2005

Lorenzo Komboa Ervin is a Black Autonomous Anarchist comrade, and a personal friend of mine, who's been in many struggles throughout his life and has paved many paths for the oppressed. This man was once involved with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)during the early sit-in campaigns in the South to stop racial segregation and inequality. He was also a member of the Chattanooga, Tennessee branch of the Black Panther Party and served to help stop oppression and police terror against Blacks and other peoples of color who were the most repressed in Amerikkka during the 1960's and early 1970's. This man, in his dedication to the struggle and for the ending of government oppression, done a courageous act by hijacking a plane in order to seek refuge in Cuba from Amerikkka's legal lynching they had out for him, and was later arrested and captured by the Western German authorities who extradicted him back to Amerikka where he stood trial and was convicted and spent 15 years in the harshest maximum security federal prisons Amerikkka has, with nine of those years in constant solitary confinement; life in constant jeopordy by white supremacists and other people.

During his confinement Lorenzo learned the application of the law and helped many prisoners obtain their release from prison. He learned about the Anarchist Black Cross and studied the history of Anarchy and Anarchism and finally gained support from the Anarchist Black Cross in Amsterdam who helped launch an international campaign for his freedom. Yet, while this was going on Lorenzo continued to fight for others as he fought for himself and eventually gained his release from prison from his diligent legal pursuits. But, I should mention that while this man was in prison he began to write and developed many pamphlets that are structurally sound on anarchist theory and also, with the help of Bonnie Kerness, developed the beginnings of an Anarchist Black Cross Federation here in the United States. And since his release from prison Lorenzo has continued to serve the people and expose the injustices of Amerikkka and the world.

One of his most profound pamphlets that I have read and which influenced me greatly in my development into anarchism was his pamphlet: Anarchism and the Black Revolution, which if you have not read it, it would behoove you to read it.

But, I am not here to write a history lesson about Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, but to raise serious questions regarding his lack of support for his most recent trial held in Chattanooga, Tennessee dubbed as "The Chattanooga 3" where he and seven other civil rights protesters had been arrested on May 13, 1993, for protesting the refusal of the Hamilton County Grand Jury to prosecute eight white law enforcement officers in the death of a 32 year old Black man, killed by a choke-hold in an attempt to secure his arrest. Lorenzo and others were charged with "disorderly conduct and disruption of a meeting", which the charge of "disrupting a meeting" was later dropped. Nevertheless, the protest was legitimate and the law used to arrest and charge Lorenzo is, not only unconstitutional, but a racist law, because it prohibits Blacks from being able to protest but allows white supremacists to protests to spew their hate-message to people.

Lorenzo, with the help of Sister JoNina Abrons and the Black Autonomous Network of Community Organizers (BANCO) campaigned and worked diligently to fight this racist law that Lorenzo was charged with and to gain the support of Anarchists in North Amerikkka to rally behind him. A man that has given so much and contributed mightily to the Anarchist collective worldwide. Yet, his call was not heard. His support was lacking and he didn't have the proper funds to fight the racist injustices hurled at him by a racist judicial system. I do not know why the Anarchist in Amerikkka has ducked its head and shirked its duty to stand behind this brother in revolutionary struggle, but I do know it was wrong and irresponsible.

We claim to be for total liberation, social revolution, the destruction of government rule and the right to live our lives in a harmonious and free manner, yet no one wants to come to the aid of a proven comrade battling something as important as the right to protest?

Many of you may view the fight Lorenzo and the Chattanooga 3 have waged against the racism in the State of Tennessee as a "single issue" and thus not worth of your involvement but that's where I say you are wrong. Many of you may say that fighting to stop a racist law is not what anarchists are about or should be fighting for and again I'd say you are wrong. If we are going to fight for and "support all people's rights" then we must stand by what we say. If we believe in the principles of fighting for the right to defend ourselves and to stop exploitation then we cannot draw lines in the sand and say we will only fight for this cause but not that cause. Even if we do not agree with every single thing a fellow comrade says or does... even if we have had verbal battles with comrades and have not spoken to that comrade in years... when that comrade is in need we are to be there no matter what. We are to show and give our support and make sure that that comrade knows they have our support. This is what we are supposed to be about. This is how we gain strength and control our destiny and win support from the people at large. By watching what we do to one another determines whether or not we will win others to join us in our struggle and make the necessary changes needed for a complete and better life. Not a half-lived and broken life.

There are anarchists that I totally disagree with and have let them know that I disagree with much of what they have said, but when the call comes for their support you can bet I will be there to give that support. Why? Because I DO believe in the concept, "an injury to one is an injury to all". I believe that strongly and would give my life to defend any comrade who is being denied justice. If I felt any other way then I am fooling all of you with my pretense of being an anarchist. Of being for complete and total revolutionary change for all people, not just for some people, or one group or segment of people. I fight injustice everywhere and anywhere I see it because if I don't that same injustice done to someone else will eventually be done to me. This is how we should be thinking and should feel about one another in the struggle for anarchist principles. But to leave one dangling and having to beg and scrounge to find the means to fight against the evils of oppression is flat out wrong and unjustifiable.

Many of you who claim to be anarchist have not done nor sacrificed one-tenth of the things Lorenzo Komboa Ervin has, yet you neglect to support this man in his hour of need? You go to rallies and demonstrations that are highly publicized months in advance so that the news media and the government is well aware or your coming and partake in rock and bottle throwing and to gain some momentary exposure while you neglect another comrade or comrades who are in dire need because their case isn't "worthy enough to gain large crowds". What a sad and pathetic commentary.

Right now, Lorenzo has filed a Petition For A Writ Of Certiorari which means he has filed a suit requesting permission to go before the United States Supreme Court to fight the illegality of his conviction handed down to him by the State of Tennessee for his right to protest as the United States Constitution has guaranteed we have the right to do. What this man is doing will have a grave impact on whether the rest of us will be allowed to protest without law enforcement stopping us from being able to protest. Therefore, we should GET BEHIND THIS BROTHER WITH MATERIAL, FINANCIAL, AND MORAL SUPPORT. We shouldn't leave him and BANCO to do all the foot work and receive all the flack. If we do, then we are GUILTY OF REVOLUTIONARY TREASON TO A FALLEN COMRADE.

Lorenzo has sent me a copy of his brief to the United States Supreme Court and I have read it in its entirity. It is good and it is on point. We should fight with him now and not wait until it is too late. We should develop letter writing campaigns to the court to express our concerns about this case. We should send financial donations to BANCO to aid and support Lorenzo in this trying hour of need and not let the state win merely because he doesn't have the funds to properly fight the case.

I ask you all, I urge you all, please, join in and fight with this brother and let us claim a victory. If we do this, if we share our support for him and demonstrate for him as we've done at the WTO, NAFTA, GATT, IMF/WB, and the recent demonstrations in Quebec City, Quebec, we could show the United States Supreme Court and the world that we are united and that we do stand by our own and will fight with our own even if we do not personally know the person or may not particularly like the person per se. That we stand united under the banner of Anarchy and Anarchism (in all its variations) and will not allow any state or federal agency or government to divide us when it is time to protect one another.

I have made this appeal and now it is up to you to act. If you are willing to aid and support this brother in anarchist struggle then please, send your support and donations to him and letters/emails of inquiry as to how you can best aid and rally around his need by writing/emailing as follows:

Lorenzo Komboa Ervin


PO Box 19962

Kalamazoo, MI 49019-0962

Phone: (616) 345-3478

Email: [email protected]

In the trenches...

Ali Khalid Abdullah

s/n 148130

3225 John Conley Drive

Lapeer, MI 48446, USA