“Free Joaquin Cienfuegos” (ZACF/ Anarchist Black Cross, 2008)

2 July 2008

ZACF & THE ANARCHIST BLACK CROSS (SOUTH AFRICA) DEMANDS THAT TRUMPED-UP CHARGE AGAINST U.S. COMMUNITY ACTIVIST BE DROPPED

Joaquin has been known to us for some years now as a voice of militancy and reason in the Los Angeles area, working with Cop-Watch LA, Anarchist People of Color, and Revolutionary Autonomous Communities. His arrest at the end of June on a felony charge of possession of a concealed weapon – a legally-purchased firearm kept in the boot of his car while he was driving it – appears to be concocted by members of the Los Angeles Police Department who have come under the uncomfortable community scrutiny of Cop-Watch Los Angeles.

The felony possession charge is a serious one as it carries a prison sentence and bail has been set at an exorbitant $40,000 (almost R315,000), which is obviously designed to keep him behind bars awaiting arraignment. The community is attempting to raise bail, but Joaquin’s arrest demonstrates quite clearly the hurdles that police – with no genuine case against their suspect – are prepared to throw in the face of ordinary people who simply demand the democratic right to ensure that the police do not abuse their powers.

Joaquin is obviously known and intensely disliked by the LAPD and every minute he is in their custody, his life is at risk. We demand that the bogus charge against him be dropped immediately and that he be returned unharmed to his community. We call for an international campaign by progressive and community organisations for his release.


ISSUED BY: Michael Schmidt (international secretary, Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front, Johannesburg, and on behalf of the ABC-South Africa)

Related Link: http://www.zabalaza.net

About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m 10th generation South African, born and bred. I have long been involved in union education, and have a background in social movement and left-wing activism, the Workers’ Library and Museum, the Anti-Privatisation Forum, and the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). I’ve presented or published 450+ papers, including conferences and workshops, co-edited 4 journal specials (on global and African labour history, and the left), and produced five books. Southern Africa editor for the 2009 'International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest' (Blackwell). I won the 2008 international ‘Labor History’ PhD thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) award for best African dissertation, for my thesis on South African anarchism, syndicalism and black militants. I have also done research in Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.