Enough Is Enough!

Published as an informational handout, updated regularly

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. government put Muslim communities under siege, resorting to highly publicized arrests to promote its "War on Terror.” 

Patrice Lumumba Ford, one of the Muslims they targeted, is a gentle, conscientious and gifted man. Raised in Portland, Oregon, he earned his BA in Languages & East Asian Studies at Portland State University and did graduate work at the prestigious Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Nanjing. He married a woman he met in China; together they have one son, born in 2001.

What happened? When the U.S. decided to bomb Afghanistan, thousands of Afghanis fled to refugee camps in Pakistan. In Portland, Lumumba reacted with alarm. In October 2001, he and five other men traveled to China and requested a visa from the Pakistani embassy at Beijing. When the visa was refused, Lumumba returned to the United States and went about his business, teaching children at a SW Portland mosque and, as a volunteer, helping settle new refugees. 

One year after this trip to China, in October 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft went on national television announcing the synchronized arrests of “terrorists” in Portland, Detroit, Seattle and Lackawanna, New York. The arrests conveniently coincided with the administration’s political needs: they preceded by six days the Senate vote allowing President Bush to invade Iraq. The publicity machine for the “war on terror” needed “dangerous terrorists.” 

Prosecution threatened the “Portland Seven” with life sentences. Panicked, some of the defendants took plea bargains, as scripted by the Justice Department, agreeing to help prosecute other Muslims – known or unknown to them.

Lumumba, the last to plead, refused to further the “war on terror” by helping with any more prosecutions. For that refusal, in November 2003, he was given a sentence of 18 years on conspiracy charges as one of the "Portland Seven." By way of enhancing his sentence, the Bureau of Prisons has been lodging him in a series of maximum security prisons – in Kansas, California, Florida and, currently, Colorado.  [November 2015 update: after 13 years served, the BOP finally moved Lumumba to the minimum security prison at Lompoc; address below.]

The time has come to look at this harsh sentence with our current understanding: Lumumba was punished for a legal trip to China, made under his own name and passport. The “Portland Seven” case was Ashcroft’s concoction, like the terrorist show trials of the Bush years, used for the suspension of civil liberties and due process.

As of October 4, 2015, Lumumba had served thirteen years. It’s time to set him free!

Write Lumumba in friendship & support:

Patrice Lumumba Ford, 96639-011

FCI Lompoc,   Federal Correctional Institution

3600 Guard Road,   Lompoc, California 93436

Artwork by Thea Gahr

Artwork by Thea Gahr

Copyright Martha Gies, 2019. No portion of this site may be used without written permission.