Below we print letters of protest to Louisiana’s Governor Kathleen Blanco regarding the case of Gary Tyler, the victim of a 1974 frame-up. (See “Renewed calls for the freedom of Gary Tyler”)
On Gary Tyler:
I am writing from Sydney, Australia to Governor Blanco demanding the release of Gary Tyler, and for compensation to be paid to him for the years taken from his life in this insidious frame-up. Whilst you were living a life of ease unknown to Tyler, day-in day-out Tyler would have questioned, what did I do? You have stolen the best years of Gary Tyler’s life. But I also write to workers to take up his case and educate themselves in this process, noting the role the state plays in framing up workers, immigrants, the poor and youth. There is a long reactionary history of the state instigating and promoting divisions in society through racial segregation, and here is no better example. In this case, the media moguls chipped in, fomenting a foul atmosphere of racial hatred pronouncing guilt way before any trial. As well, his conviction was influenced by the Ku Klux Klan and their reactionary political hysteria, which promoted racial segregation that reached far into the courtroom.
Governor Blanco, how blatant is this? Pardons were recommended in 1989, 1991, and 1995 but the governor’s pleasure holds sway and Gary Tyler rots in jail. Striking, too, are the witnesses who gave evidence against Tyler, then later recanted explaining they were threatened by police!
The incident took place on a bus 25 miles west of New Orleans in 1974. This was an area that also came under so much devastation in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck. In this human tragedy there is a relationship to the treatment meted out to Tyler and masses of people. The effects of Katrina brought to the surface the criminal indifference and gross incompetence from the political establishment. In a striking quote, wsws.org wrote at the time, “The scenes of intense human suffering, hopelessness, squalor, and neglect amidst the wreckage of what was once New Orleans have exposed the rotten core of American capitalist society before the eyes of the entire world—and, most significantly, before those of its own stunned people.
“The reactionary mythology of America as the ‘Greatest Country in the World’ has suffered a shattering blow. Hurricane Katrina has laid bare the awful truths of contemporary America, a country torn by the most intense class divisions, ruled by a corrupt plutocracy that possesses no sense either of social reality or public responsibility, in which millions of its citizens are deemed expendable and cannot depend on any social safety net or public assistance if disaster, in whatever form, strikes.”
Gary Tyler must be freed immediately.
Sydney, NSW, Australia
15 March 2007* * *
I am writing to you to demand an immediate pardon and release from incarceration of Gary Tyler.
I have had no need to review the facts of his case. Shortly after his spurious conviction in 1974, I became active in agitating for his freedom on the trumped-up murder charge. This was how I entered political and intellectual life as a teenager: by coming to know the circumstances of this injustice against Gary Tyler and telling others about them.
For the intervening decades, the disgust at how the state of Louisiana allowed a young person’s life to be ruined, how dishonesty, cruelty and the fetid legacy of slavery has ruled a legal system that was erected in the name of impartiality and equality, has spurred me to explore the root causes of man’s inhumanity to man.
What was sparked by the case of Gary Tyler has led me to the most far-reaching conclusions about the nature of American society. I suppose I have the State of Louisiana to thank for that.
Louisiana takes its juridical traditions not only from Anglo-Saxon law but also from the great French Revolution. Gary Tyler’s imprisonment has been an insult to all that is enduring and great in this history.
What will history remember about the executive office of Louisiana in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries? That you allowed your cities to be devastated? That you savagely handled children and incarcerated them without just cause?
Please ask yourself how will you stand up to the Vandals who sacked Rome or Tsarist officials who beat serfs. Ask yourself if you will shine so much more brightly than the criminals who currently occupy the nation’s executive.
Save one life while you can. Stop insulting the character of your office. Free Gary Tyler.
13 March 2007* * *
I am writing to demand the immediate release and pardon of Gary Tyler. Even the Louisiana Board of Pardons has recommended his release. The disdain that you and previous governors have shown for justice, truth, and humanity is appalling. There is no evidence at all that Gary Tyler was responsible for the death of Timothy Weber. Certain political and police members of the state found him “guilty” of standing up for his rights, and they obviously didn’t like that, but it isn’t illegal. By refusing to release Gary Tyler, you are putting yourself squarely with the thugs and racists who originally incarcerated him and with those politicians who throughout the Hurricane Katrina disaster have shown their complete contempt for the working class. Gary Tyler is innocent and must be granted his freedom immediately.
10 March 2007* * *
I am writing to you Governor Blanco for the immediate freeing of prisoner Gary Tyler. Ample amounts of evidence have proved Mr. Tyler’s innocence. There is no more need to have this man in prison since he is no longer (and never was) a threat to society. I demand that he be recompensed for all the prime years of his life that the state of Louisiana has taken away from him.
10 March 2007* * *
This letter is to add my voice to the thousands around the world demanding the immediate freedom for Gary Tyler. His only crime was to protest the harassment of his cousin by the police, who were called in after a racist mob attacked the bus full of black students who were integrating local schools. Rather than protecting the students, the police sided with the mob, conspiring to railroad Gary to prison for a shooting which he clearly did not commit.
This attempt to intimidate anyone who fights back against injustice has only strengthened his resolve, even decades later, as well as the resolve of people worldwide who demand his freedom. By refusing to grant a full pardon, as well as to pay restitution to Gary and his family for the life that has been stolen from him, you have added your name to the list of conspirators. I call on you to belatedly reverse this course and free Gary Tyler now.
10 March 2007