America's Concerns

Part 2 -- Help Stop a Legal Lynching
Support The Chattanooga 3 Case

by JoNina Abron
January 24, 2001

THE CHATTANOOGA 3: Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, Damon McGee and Mikail Musa Muhammad (Ralph P. Mitchell). These three Black activists were arrested at a Chattanooga City Council meeting on May 19, 1998, after they protested the killings of two Black men a few weeks previous. Even after making prior arrangements, they were taken off the speakers' list and not allowed to speak. When they demanded their right to speak, they were carted off to jail. They were deprived of a fair trial on January 9-11, 2001, and now face 6-18 months in prison. Their arrests and trial were a travesty of justice, designed to silence protest in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

For more information, contact: Mikail at (423)624-9872, Damon at (770)972-3241 or by email at Sponsored by the International Committee to Defend the Chattanooga 3 by International Committee To Support the Chattanooga 3

The trial against the Chattanooga 3 activists, arrested at a protest at city hall in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, was finally held on January 9-12, 2000, and resulted in convictions of each defendant on all charges. They now face 6-18 months in prison. Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, Damon McGee, and Mikail Musa Muhammad, activists with the Black Autonomy-COPWATCH group in Chattanooga, were arrested on May 19, 2000 for leading a crowd of over 100 Black protesters, irate over the deaths of two Black men killed a few weeks previous by Chattanooga police officers. Because local officials were embarrassed and intimidated over the protests, they had sought to punish Ervin and the other activists with criminal charges. Thus the Chattanooga 3 case was born.

During the trial, when it seemed that all the secret preparations by the judge, prosecutors and cops were failing, they decided to stage a provocation to frighten the jury and sway them to the state's case. A police provocateur, only known publicly as "Omar" was encouraged by the Sheriff's deputies to bring a gun and ammunition into the trial, implying that he was part of a conspiracy with the Defendants on trial to disrupt the trial. Omar was never arrested for bringing the ammunition and gun to court, and it now appears that this incident may be the basis of another prosecution, this one charging the Defendants with being engaged in a conspiracy to disrupt the proceedings and smuggle guns into the courtroom.

Based on information and belief, this provocateur only publicly identified as "Omar", is being groomed to go before the Hamilton County Grand Jury, with a story that the C3 defendants had told him to bring a gun and ammunition into the trial to either escape or take over the courtroom. If this story of a new frame-up is true, this is extremely serious. If he and local prosecutors do so, we would face an indictment on much more serious charges. This means we would be facing felony charges for conspiracy (5-8 years in prison), and for bringing firearms into a courtroom (7-10 years in prison). We are sure that Omar would be given immunity from prosecution for his false testimony.

This is more than a pipe dream, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County officials have been frustrated for years that they could not frame us up on more serious charges to finally get rid of us. It is very likely that they are working on just such a plot.

This secret police use of undercover operatives to frame activists is how the Black Panther Party and other revolutionary organizations were destroyed in the late 1960's-early 1970's. We cannot stand by while yet more activists are railroaded to long prison sentences by a Sheriff seeking to justify security measures or ensure their convictions on even more serious charges.


TRUE DEMOCRACY     Winter 2002     Copyright © 2002 by News Sourse, Inc.