Pharyngula

Free Gregory Koger

Gregory Koger is an ex-con and a revolutionary communist…and none of that should matter in the slightest. He’s also a person who was beat up, handcuffed, maced, arrested, and now faces the prospect of a three year jail sentence for the crime of holding up his iPhone to take pictures of police harrassment. Koger is the young man who was documenting Sunsara Taylor’s protest of the behavior of the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (which, by the way, ought to change their name to drop the first word), and who, oddly, was manhandled and arrested for taking videos of the event, while Taylor herself, who was doing all the talking, got away relatively unhassled.

Koger has now been convicted of trespassing, and will be sentenced on Wednesday. The whole thing has been Kafkaesque — it’s the most hysterical, overblown response to a guy taking a picture of a public event that I’ve ever heard of, and it’s a slap against everyone’s personal freedoms.

Here is the statement from Sunsara Taylor:

There is no justice in the outrageous conviction of Gregory Koger on charges of trespass, resisting arrest, and battery for the “crime” of videotaping a statement I gave at the “Ethical” Humanist Society of Chicago after they dis-invited me from a long scheduled presentation I was to give on November 1st, 2009. Gregory Koger is not only innocent of all charges he has now been convicted of, he is a righteous and beautiful human being who all people seeking to live an ethical life should support as well as learn deeply from.

How is it that Gregory Koger came to be my videographer last November at the “Ethical” Humanist Society of Chicago?

Gregory’s struggle to understand the source of his own long and bitter experiences of injustice and dehumanization as a young man led him to conclusions that were about much more than himself.

How many young men these days put their bodies on the line to defend the doctors who provide the right to abortion women need to even have a chance at a decent and equal life?

Gregory traveled to Kansas to defend Dr. Leroy Carhart when Carhart was declared “Enemy #1″ by the same forces who had long-persecuted the recently murdered Dr. George Tiller.

How many Americans these days take responsibility for stopping the torture committed by the U.S. government in our names, not only under Bush, but also under Obama? How many who claim to oppose the wars and occupations by the U.S. government of Iraq and Afghanistan do more than complain under their breath and then change the channel or turn the page?

Gregory donned the orange jumpsuit of Guantanamo detainees in public protests and he marched against these wars, determined to make his opposition felt by people everywhere, including our sisters and brothers across the globe.

How many white people even notice, let alone stand up against, the systematic police terror and brutality that is a fact of life for youth, especially Black and Latino youth, in the inner cities everywhere?

Gregory went to the Southside of Chicago to speak out against a spate of police shootings of young Black men. He has consistently exposed the disproportionate incarceration and violence experienced by Black people in the criminal justice system.

It is through his activity in these realms, as well as his work with the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund to get revolutionary literature into the U.S. prison system that now holds more than 2.3 million human beings, that I came to know Gregory. It was his interest in morality and ethics, in philosophy and revolution, as well as his passion for film that led him to volunteer for me the weekend I was scheduled to give a talk titled, “Morality Without Gods,” at the “Ethical” Humanist Society of Chicago.

The themes of my talk, which drew on the theoretical framework developed by Bob Avakian in his book, AWAY WITH ALL GODS! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, examined the basis for a morality that is rooted neither in the brutality and ignorance of Biblical times nor the narrow-minded individualism and relativism of modern U.S. capitalism. I posed the need for a morality that both reflects and serves the struggle to bring into being a world free of all forms of exploitation and oppression, a communist world, a world where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings.

The irony is bitter; when it comes to “morality without gods,” it is difficult to think of a starker living contrast than that between Gregory Koger and the conduct of the “Ethical” Humanist Society of Chicago.

I recount all this not only to demonstrate how deeply immoral it is that the “Ethical” Humanist Society of Chicago, spearheaded by their president Matt Cole, has viciously and vengefully persecuted Gregory Koger. I recount this to make clear that it is not only Gregory who will suffer due to this outrageous and unjust verdict, but that all those who are victims of the many injustices and oppression that Gregory fought against will also suffer.

It is incumbent upon all who care about the truth, who care about justice and the human spirit, who care about freedom and rights of the most oppressed and exploited in this country and worldwide, to not only join in insisting that Gregory be immediately released on bail and his conviction overturned, but to learn from Gregory’s example and step up their own involvement in the struggle for human emancipation.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Immediately send statements of support for Gregory to the defense committee AdHoc4Reason@gmail.com

  • Donate money for the appeal. Go to the defense committee website for more information

  • Show your support at the sentencing hearing on September 8.

  • More information will be coming; keep in touch with the Ad Hoc Committee at AdHoc4Reason@gmail.com

The conviction was insane to begin with, but imprisoning a social activist for the crime of photography is simply beyond the pale.

Drop the charges and free Gregory Koger.