Veronza Bowers Statement to the
August 13, 2005 Journey for Justice
Rally in Washington, D.C.

Former Political Prisoner Ashanti Alston reading Veronza's statement at the rally.

Through the voice of my beloved brother Ashanti, I am honored to be able to send my very warmest greetings of love and solidarity to each and every one of you gathered here … and especially to you who are the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers and family members and just plane ole good friends of us who are being held captive in these houses for the so-called wretched-of-the-earth.

So, named after my father, I am Veronza Bowers, Jr. I am a former member of the original Black Panther Party and have been held in federal prison for almost 32 years. I am just one of the many long-held Political Prisoners whom government officials officially claim do not exist in the U.S. of A. Leaving aside the mockery to Lady Justice that was my trial, I was convicted primarily on the words of two paid "informants" testimonies (sound familiar?) in the shooting death of a National Park Service Ranger. On April 7th of last year, after serving the full 30 years required by statute enacted by Congress, I was supposed to have been released on Mandatory Parole … but today marks the 503rd day of my unlawful detention! Justice should be made of truer stuff!

Jericho National Co-Chair Efia Nwangaza speaking at the rally.

I wish that I could be here with you to share in this great and historical occasion, this heart-warming occasion … not to speak before you, but rather to feel with you the power of the love, caring and concern that is being generated by all of you and felt by each … the Power of the People gathered together with love and concern for us is a mighty power that has to be recognized and reckoned with.

That's what it's all about: love, caring and concern. It's about family … it's about the communities from which we are being snatched at an alarming rate. Our your, your sons & daughters, brothers & sisters and friends are filling up these prisons with sentences longer than they've been on this earth … they are filling the graveyards before they've had a chance to live. Something is dreadfully wrong with this picture!

Yes, many of our youth get caught up in the deadly trap of selling drugs (tryin' to come up!) as a means to acquire some of the good things that life has to offer … and yes! selling drugs is against the law … but, should that consign them to a life behind prison walls for 20, 30, 45 years, even life without the possibility of parole?! Something is terribly wrong with this picture! However, we cannot simply press a button and change the channel, but we can continue to do things like you are gathered here today doing: Let your collective voice be heard … let the ones who enacted these laws know that something must be done—NOW! … that we need our sons & daughters and brothers & sisters back home with us in our communities. What happened to "A second chance"?

Please, can we have a full minute of silence to remember and honor all those who have gone before us in our struggle.

For a better future for us all.
After the silence I salute and thank you

Veronza Bowers, Jr.

NYC Jericho Movement, P.O. Box 670927, Bronx, NY 10467