“Asked to name a few of the [prisoners] she writes to, Yuri can't stop, hoping to get all their names in the paper: Mutulu Shakur, Yu Kikumura, George Baba Eng, Bashir Hameed, Abdul Majid, Oscar Lopez Rivera. ...”
One of Yuri Kochiyama’s major activities has been the freeing of political prisoners. In the 1970s Yuri was heavily involved in helping groups such as the Black Panthers and the Young Lords, and during this time period many members of those groups were arrested and attacked daily. At the time there was little or no organized funds set aside for lawyers or legal defense, so the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners was formed, and Yuri worked with them for several years. She continues to work in whatever ways she can towards raising awareness over these issues and freeing those unjustly in prison. Here are a few of the causes she is well known for:
Mumia Abu-Jamal - is a former Black Panther member and journalist in Philadelphia. He was very well known for his radio journalism exposing police brutality to minority communities at the time, but in 1982 he was accused and many say unfairly tried for the murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner. More information can be found at http://www.mumia2000.org.
David Wong is a prisoner convicted of second degree murder, but had strong evidence towards his innocence both during his trial and now. He has been repeatedly refused a new trial, he is still fighting, and according to the David Wong Support Committee (of which Yuri is a founder) (http://www.freedavidwong.org) his request will be reviewed on September of 2004.
Puerto Rico Independence - In 1977 five Puerto Rican nationalists were in jail by an aggressive demonstration for Puerto Rican independence 23 years ago. One of them, Andre Cordero, was dying of cancer while in prison, and 30 members mostly from the Young Lords Party stormed and held the Statue of Liberty for eight hours, blocking tourists and asking the U.S. to set the nationalists free. Cordero was freed later that year, and the rest of the nationalists two years later.
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