BY JOHN STUDER
"I am free from prison. I was wrongly convicted and I'm also now going to try and help Mark Curtis," David Milgaard, the victim of a frame-up in Saskatchewan, Canada, wrote to the Mark Curtis Defense Committee May 10. Milgaard served 22 years in prison before winning his freedom.
Milgaard's letter is one of a number of recent messages supporting Mark Curtis's fight to win freedom and justice. Curtis was framed up by Des Moines, Iowa, police in 1988 on charges of rape and burglary and sent to prison, sentenced to 25 years. He was arrested and brutally beaten by the cops shortly after speaking out in Spanish at a public protest meeting called to defend 17 of his co-workers at the Monfort meatpacking plant who had been seized by the immigration police in a raid. When the cops beat Curtis, they called him a "Mexican lover, just like you love those coloreds."
The committee also received a letter from L. Verstraete in Brussels, Belgium, pledging support. "I have carefully read the documentation and I am dismayed that lock-up conditions were imposed upon Mark Curtis," he wrote, adding, "I certainly do endorse the Mark Curtis defense action. I will act, whenever possible and at my level, to inform people about the reality of such a flagrant injustice."
A post card from Tommy Nilsson in Malmo, Sweden, sent to the defense committee stated, "I just want to give you my respect and wish you (and Mark of course!) good luck in your important work to support Mark and by that - all mankind."
Another supporter who recently wrote the defense committee was Michael Parenti, a well-known author and professor of social and political science. Parenti noted in his letter that he wrote a section on Curtis's fight in the most recent edition of his book Democracy for the Few, published by St. Martin's Press.
"Mark Curtis, packinghouse worker, labor unionist, and a leader in the Socialist Workers Party, was arrested in Des Moines, Iowa, and charged with having sexually assaulted a fifteen-year old," Parenti writes in a chapter titled "Political Repression and National Insecurity." Curtis "was severely beaten and knocked unconscious by police. The alleged victim said her attacker was five-feet six-inches tall, had smoke on his breath, and broke into her house. Curtis is over six-feet tall, does not smoke, and was in a restaurant with a dozen other people at the specified time of the rape. After Curtis was convicted on the testimony of one police officer, a juror presented an affidavit indicating that she believed Mark Curtis was not guilty and that she was one of four who voted for conviction even though they had grave doubts about the case. Curtis was sentenced to twenty-five years for 'sexual abuse' and 'burglary.'
"As I write this six years later," Parenti adds in a footnote, "Curtis is still in jail, having been repeatedly denied parole."
The defense committee is aggressively distributing a new
pamphlet on the case published by Pathfinder Press, entitled
Why Is Mark Curtis Still in Prison? For a copy of the
pamphlet or to volunteer to help, contact the Mark Curtis
Defense Committee, P.O. Box 1048, Des Moines, IA, 50311.
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