Three rallies were held across California on March 17 to commemorate the longest-held political prisoner Ruchell “Cinque” Magee’s 82nd birthday. Ruchell received a tremendous outpouring of renewed support in his fight for freedom after 58 years of unjust imprisonment. These efforts are being led by the Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee, of which the Party for Socialism and Liberation is an endorser and leading member. Over 60 organizations, media outlets, and prominent individuals have endorsed the coalition’s call for Governor Gavin Newsom and L.A. District Attorney George Gascón to re-evaluate Magee’s unjust sentencing and set him free.
The Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee held simultaneous rallies in locations of particular significance to Ruchell’s struggle: Los Angeles, Sacramento and Marin County. The Sacramento event shined light on the fact that Governor Newsom has the power to commute Cinque’s sentence. The Marin County event returned to the scene of the well-documented 1970 Marin County Courthouse Rebellion, where Ruchell played a supporting role, but wasn’t a leader. And the Los Angeles event marked the need to re-evaluate the brutally racist arrest he faced in 1963 at the hands of the city’s law enforcement.
All three rallies were linked by the demand to free Magee. His is currently being held in the California Medical Facility in Vacaville despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which especially threatens elders and prisoners.
“We have a 17-year-old [Kyle Rittenhouse] that went to a demonstration who killed two people, walking around free. Here you have a man [Ruchell] that’s 82-years-old today, that’s locked up for 58 years, he should be out now,” said leading coalition member Harold Welton at the Los Angeles rally. “We want everyone to remember the name Ruchell Magee. If you know who Angela Davis is but you don’t know who Ruchell Magee is, you need to know that he was charged with the same crime and Angela was freed over 50 years ago [but] this man is still locked up.”
Magee was sentenced to 7-years-to-life in prison following a disproven charge of kidnapping to rob in 1962. He was beaten, arrested, and mistreated by his own lawyer, who worked with the prosecution to give him a bad deal he never consented to. Magee gained international press coverage by being a supporting member of the Marin County Courthouse Rebellion on Aug. 7, 1970. Several Black freedom fighters attempted to liberate themselves before San Quentin guards killed every freedom fighter except Magee and a judge. Read more about his story at www.freeruchellmagee.org/about.
Magee remains a victim of a marijuana prohibition-era sentencing system that unjustly imprisoned huge numbers of working-class Black men. This was to brutalize and oppress the Black community into submission at a time when resistance to state-sponsored racism was at an all-time high.
In the words of community organizer and PSL member Jamier Sale, “Ruchell Cinque Magee is not alone. He is not the only enslaved African in the CDC system. There are millions of slaves in this country of the United States, and Ruchell Magee is one who has the most egregious case.”
Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee supporter Marcy Alvarez captured the spirit of the event by stating that “This movement, we’re looking for a result and that result is to free Ruchell Magee. It’s a travesty that this man has been in prison for this long.”
The coalition is actively seeking endorsements! Please visit www.freeruchellmagee.org/endorse to sign on as an individual, organization, or media outlet.
Endorsing individuals include:
- Chairman Fred Hampton Jr.
- Luis “Bato” Talamantez, Willie Sundiata Tate, and David “Giap” Johnson (San Quentin 6)
- Harold Taylor and Hank Jones (San Francisco 8)
- Gerald Horne, Tej Grewall, and Brandon Sankara (“Freedom Now Radio” in Los Angeles)
- Brian Becker (National Director of ANSWER Coalition)
- Gloria La Riva (PSL Presidential Candidate for 2020)
- Abby Martin & Mike Prysner (Host and Producer of Empire Files)
- Claude Marks (Co-Director of the Freedom Archives)
- Robin D.G. Kelley (Professor of American History at UCLA)
Endorsing organizations include:
- Party for Socialism and Liberation
- Black August Los Angeles
- ANSWER Coalition
- Global Women’s Strike/LA
- Fair Chance Project
- National Jericho Movement
- Anarchist Black Cross Federation
- Northeast Political Prisoner Coalition
- National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles
- Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
- Creating Justice.LA
- 360 Collective
Here’s how to help:
Write the Governor of California!
Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Write a one-page letter to Governor Gavin Newsom about your support for Ruchell and why he deserves a commutation of his sentence due to his length of confinement (over 57 years), his age (82 on March 17th), and the health risks of an elderly person staying in California’s prisons.
Write the LA District Attorney!
District Attorney George Gascon
211 West Temple Street, Suite 1200
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Write a one-page (max) letter to D.A. George Gascon requesting that he review Ruchell’s sentence due to the fact that he was over-charged with kidnapping and robbery for a dispute over a $10 bag of marijuana, a substance that is legal now and should have never resulted in a seven-years-to-life sentence. Ruchell’s case should be a top priority because of his age (82 on March 17th) and the length of time he has been in prison (57 years).
Write to Ruchell “Cinque” Magee!
Ruchell Magee #A92051 #T 115
California Medical Facility
P.O. Box 2000
Vacaville, CA 95696-2000
Write Ruchell uplifting messages! Be sure to ask questions about his well-being, his interests, and his passions. Be aware that any of his mail can be read by correctional officers, so don’t use any violent, explicit, or demoralizing language. Do not use politically sensitive language that could hurt his chances of release. Do not send any hard or sharp materials.
Call the Governor of California!
Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160
Script: My name is _____________ and I demand that the governor immediately review and commute the sentence of Ruchell Magee, who was the victim of racist and unfair sentencing for a nonviolent offense and has suffered in the California jail system for over 58 years.
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Email for contact: [email protected]