Marshall “Eddie” Conway, described by advocates as one of the nation’s longest-held political prisoners, was released yesterday after more than four decades in prison. Conway was the Minister of Defense for the Baltimore chapter of the Black Panther Party when he was convicted of killing a Baltimore police officer in 1970, though he continuously affirmed his innocence. He claims he was framed for the murder, and a victim of dubious testimony gathered through surveillance under the controversial counterintelligence program COINTELPRO, which has been linked to assassinations and widespread arrests of black political figures. Local police officers’ unions are quoted saying they are disappointed Conway won’t be serving the remainder of his life sentence.
Numerous campaigns have been launched over the years to petition for Conway’s release. During his time in prison, he organized a union, a library, a conflict-resolution organization for young men called “Friend of a Friend,” and also wrote a memoir titled, “Marshall Law: The Life & Times of a Baltimore Black Panther.” Conway’s release comes after the late Herman Wallace, another Black Panther who spent more than four decades in prison (mostly in solitary confinement), passed away just three days after being released. Upon release he thanked supporters, urging them to support other political prisoners who are still incarcerated, and says he will continue his work with and expand “Friends of Friends.”
(h/t Democracy Now!)