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Support builds for Charleston Five

by LEE SUSTAR | August 17, 2001 | Page 15

CHICAGO--The AFL-CIO and the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition restated their support for the Charleston Five at their respective meetings here this month.

The Five are members of the International Longshoremen's Association in South Carolina who have been under house arrest for more than 18 months following a massive police attack on their union's picket line last year.

Conservative State Attorney General Charlie Condon plans to bring the Five to trial on felony riot charges that carry prison terms of up to five years.

At its summer meeting in Chicago, the AFL-CIO Executive Council passed a resolution backing the Five. "These charges are unreasonable, excessive, and unjust," the resolution stated.

"We welcome the support of allies from among civil rights, religious and community-based organizations, as well as support committees that are forming in cities from New York to Los Angeles. The AFL-CIO is proud to take a leadership role in the fight for the Charleston Five. We will wage and escalate this fight until they are free and justice is done."

The following week, Jackson used the Charleston Five as the theme of his speech at a labor breakfast at the Rainbow/PUSH convention. He called on labor and civil rights groups to organize a national march on Charleston this fall.

"Labor must go to the defense of the Charleston Five to save itself," Jackson told Socialist Worker. "We must challenge the South to stop these right-to-work laws, and to stop these prosecutions. This is a struggle for America's soul."

For more information about the campaign to defend the Charleston Five, go to www.scpronet.com.

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