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Help defend the Charleston Five

By Lee Sustar | November 2, 2001 | Page 11

CHARLESTON, S.C.--An evening rally at the courthouse here will be followed by an International Day of Action November 14 when the Charleston Five go to trial.

"What is at stake is not only the freedom of five unjustly accused union members in South Carolina, but the rights of workers to protest and organize anywhere in America," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney wrote in an October 16 memo.

In Chicago, the Illinois AFL-CIO, the local Committee to Defend the Charleston Five and Jobs with Justice will hold a 4 p.m. indoor rally at Teamster City. Events are also being planned for Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston, Washington, D.C., and several other cities. Solidarity action is also expected by dockworkers' unions around the world.

The five members of the International Longshoremen's Association could be sent to prison for five years as the result of a police attack on their picket line on January 20, 2000. And, as in the past, employers are resisting the union by playing the race card. The ILA in Charleston is overwhelmingly Black.

The five were placed under house arrest for 20 months after State Attorney General Charlie Condon obtained an indictment. Last month, Condon, bowing to pressure, withdrew from the case, and the house arrest was lifted.

But the threat to the five--and to unions and working people--remains. Everyone committed to justice needs to turn out November 14.

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