De Mau Mau
Black Vietnam veterans have been coming back from Vietnam angry and disillusioned with the American system. They were told they were fighting to safeguard freedoms in the United States -- freedoms they, as Black people, don't have. They know they were used: sent to fight Asian people, with a disproportionate number of Black soldiers in combat roles, coming home to unemployment, segregated cities, unfair courts, and poor education and health care facilities. These vets have come home to America, and many of them have begun to organize and fight for the rights that are being denied them.
One of these organizations is called De Mau Mau. The De Mau Mau was organized in the US military by Black GIs, who, suffering from racism and lack of opportunity in the armed services in Vietnam, found it necessary to unite against the oppression of the military. These vets, once home, united with other Black sisters and brothers, and focused attention on the problem of unemployment of Black veterans.
Those in power recognize the powerful influence veterans have. The people of America will listen to vets. It's obvious that the local and federal governments are afraid of veterans voicing their opinions too loudly, as seen in the attack on the Gainesville 8 or the trial of Gary Lawton.
In October, more veterans were put on the chopping block in Chicago. Nine members of the De Mau Mau Organization were charged with murdering nine people in Illinois. The arrests were announced by Sheriff Richard Elrod, Chicago Police Superintendent James Conlisk, and Cook County State's Attorney Edward Hanrahan at a special press conference for nine white, hand-picked newspeople on a Sunday morning. Hanrahan described the nine Blacks as being part of a "nationwide conspiracy to kill whites," and that this conspiracy was formulated by the De Mau Mau organization. He said they murdered a family of 5 in an all white suburb of Chicago, and 4 other people in Illinois. The evidence against them cannot honestly be called evidence. All the murders were done by the same guns, but none of these guns have been found. And the main part of the case against the De Mau Mau is the testimony of one of those originally arrested. His testimony consists of things he has heard about the murders, nothing that he actually witnessed!
At the same time as this press conference, Hanrahan was trying to get re-elected to the State's Attorney's office. As you probably remember, he was the person who ordered the murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, Black Panther Party members. Although he was cleared of the charges in a rigged court, the evidence clearly showed that he was guilty of murder. The Black people of Chicago all knew this, so Hanrahan couldn't count on their votes. A lot of election judges had been indicted fro vote fraud around that time, so stuffing the ballot boxes wasn't the safest thing to do, either.
What he did instead was to try to create a hysteria among whites about a black organization's plot to slaughter them, to try to trick the white people of Chicago into thinking he was their hero. The newspapers, radio and TV worked hand-in-hand with Hanrahan. Headlines such as "Racists Tied to Killings -- Anti-White Group Blamed," and "Murder Gang 3000 Strong -- Nine Slayings in Illinois Alone," appeared in Chicago newspapers. The radio and TV talked about how the De Mau Mau roamed Illinois looking for white people to kill. The guilt of the defendants was assumed; they were charged, tried and convicted by the media, even before preliminary hearings were held. For two weeks, the people of Chicago were bombarded with this racist garbage, called "objective" newscasting. But the white people of Chicago did not completely swallow this, and Blacks came out to vote in record numbers, causing Hanrahan to lose the election.
But the De Mau Mau brothers are still in jail, with no bond set, facing a life sentence or possibly the death penalty. They are victims of a politician's tactic of trying to spread racial hatred, to divide Black people from white people in order to get elected. They are also in jail because of the city of Chicago's rulers' fear of the influence veterans can have on the people of Chicago, and as a scare tactic to discourage vets from organizing around common needs.
The hysteria caused by Hanrahan and the mass media has created a situation in which the De Mau Mau brothers are in danger of being locked away without an adequate defense. A fair trial is being demanded, but support is necessary and a real defense will cost a lot of money. We have to stand together and demand a fair trial fro the De Mau Mau brothers, as well as for Gary Lawton, the Gainesville 8, Pat Chenowith,...! Justice for all!
If you want more information or want to contribute for defense costs, contact:
De Mau Mau Defense Committee,
c/o Chicago Chapter VVAW
827 West Newport
Chicago, IL 60657