Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Freedom Fighter Marilyn Buck Dies Shortly After Parole

I was trying to decide whether to write about the parole recently granted to Marilyn Buck, an American revolutionary imprisoned since the 1980s. I am saddened to report that according to The Rag Blog, Buck passed away this morning in New York from cancer.

Marilyn Buck was arrested in the mid-1980s for her role in the notorious Nyack Brinks robbery that spelled the end of the road for a particular wing of the American left. Buck was alleged to have been a member of the May 19th Communist Organization, a group with roots in the Weatherman faction of Students for a Democratic Society. May 19th was the East Coast faction of a tendency that on the West Coast formed the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee. It straddled the lines of legality, supporting an network of leftists and revolutionaries driven underground by the government repression of the 1960s and 1970s counter intelligence program COINTELPRO. Buck is said to have taken part in the liberation of Assata Shakur from prison: a truly heroic and selfless act. I disagreed with many of the politics and actions of May 19th, but this was a woman who walked every moment of her talk. I remember those 1980s days of defeat and demoralization in the face of the Reagan juggernaut. I remember the witchhunt the media and the government undertook to paint these people as common criminals or terrorists. But Buck's life is enduring testament to the struggle for freedom not the mistakes of a particular group.

Buck was granted parole just a few weeks ago knowing that the cancer for which she had received inadequate care while in prison was likely incurable.

Here's "Rescue the Word," a poem she wrote in 1992, from the Friends of Marilyn Buck website:

sacred words are in danger
fugitives, they seek cover
bury themselves alive
shamed by the profane
purposes they are forced to serve
dressed in lily-white lies
words are in danger
english only vows
to tear out tongues
exiled witnesses
to collective memory and homeland ties
sacred words are in danger
trapped, they hang on billboards
judas-goats to conjure deception
sing them shout them
teach them
wear them
around your neck
amulets against amnesia

Ibaye. Presente!

There are a shocking number of political prisoners in American jails. They range from leftists like Buck to African-American and Native American revolutionaries, and Cuban fighters against terrorism. Here is a somewhat dated list.