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Justice for Mark Cook - It's Way Past Time

The Vietnam war was fought not only on the soil of Southeast Asia, but in the streets of the U.S. as well. Anti war activists struggled to end a conflict they knew to be unjust and extended their fight to include justice and equality for all human beings. Some felt compelled to take measures outside the law to stop a war between governments that killed thousands weekly in Vietnam, and to end the war of racism and poverty that claimed countless more lives in this country.

Mark Cook, a native of Seattle, was an officer of the Black Panther Party, which established community programs such as breakfast for children, free food give-aways, and medical clinics. With his founding of groups such as CONvention and the Bridge Project, Mark helped prisoners and ex-prisoners through establishing job training programs in prison, supporting prisoners' labor rights struggles, and creating job placement programs for those recently released. Throughout the late sixties and early seventies, Mark struggled to end not only the Vietnam War, but the systems of racism and imperialism that caused that war.

Across America activists challenged the war on a variety of fronts: electorally, non-violently, and militarily. In Seattle, the George Jackson Brigade (GJB) waged an armed struggle, targeting the property of those who perpetuated injustice. In January of 1976, three members of the GJB were arrested in a Brigade-sponsored bank robbery attempt, where one GJB member was fatally shot and another hospitalized Two months later the hospitalized member was rescued from custody. In the process, a King county sheriff was shot and wounded. A few days later, Mark Cook was arrested as a suspect in the bank robbery. Months later he was also charged with aiding the escape and shooting the officer. He was convicted of all charges and sentenced to serve a thirty year federal term and two life sentences plus ten years by the state. Mark has never admitted guilt in any of the charges against him.

Mark has served nearly twenty years for actions intended to stop an unjust war, far beyond the average served by persons convicted of similar crimes. Throughout the past two decades of incarceration, Mark has continued to strive for justice and equality for those behind bars and on the outside. He has never renounced his political beliefs. Mark has served the time for his crimes; he continues to be jailed only because of his politics.

Washington State has ignored a court order to have Mark's federal and state sentences run concurrently. As such, he is only on the first year of his state sentence(s)--even though a codefendant in the case [Ed Mead, co-founder of the served his state and federal terms concurrently and was released last year. The Washington parole board refuses to review his case.

Beginning with the pardoning of draft resisters in the late 1970's and ending with this year's lifting of the trade embargo with Vietnam, one of the most discordant periods in recent U.S. history has nearly been reconciled. If the time has come to heal the rift between two warring nations, isn't it time for a nation to reconcile its' differences with its own citizens who opposed that war?

The Mark Cook Freedom Committee (MCFC) plans future letter writing campaigns to the WA State parole board (and governor if necessary), and a fund raising drive to hire a lawyer to file Mark's appeal. If you would like to be placed on the MCFC mailing list to be notified of future events and kept up to date on Mark's case, write to: The Mark Cook Freedom Committee, P.O. Box 85763, Seattle, WA. 98145-2763.

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