Free At Last, Thank God Almighty!

root - Posted on 07 April 2003

Disabled African Descendent Brother, Michael Manning, is released from Prison!!

by Leroy Moore PNN/DAMO

Michael Manning is free at last! "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed!" Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote. This statement can be once again used today in the Michael Manning case in Pennsylvania. Although on December 26th 2002 Michael Manning was finally released from prison, after almost four years, Diana & the whole Manning family has demanded justice and freedom for Michael since 1989. Michael was convicted by a jury not of his peers for third-degree murder of Harry Bureley on September 15th, 1998 and was sentenced on November 13, 1998 to for 12-30 year in what many have seen as a clear case self-defense.

Michael served almost five years for what comes down to as a self-defense case and was tried by an all white Jury and an insensitive, racist, disabled, white, Judge, Ronald E. Vican who used Michael’s name and race in another case of a Black man. In 1998 the DA convinced the Jury that Michael was faking his disability and was the aggressor in the attack although Michael demonstrated how difficult it is to walk without his cane and showed cuts on his hands that he received trying to defend himself. To put the icing on the cake, the only witness the DA had was a well known lying drug dealer. Michael Manning had a clean record and never been in trouble with the law. Matter-a-fact in his younger days, Michael volunteered on a neighborhood youth police watch helping to deter crime and theft in his New York, Bronx community. For almost two years I have wrote about this case of self-defense of a Black disabled young man. Read Fighting to Stay Alive and Oh My Brother

After more than four years of building their campaign, almost single handedly, the truth of Michael’s attack and how he was treated in Judge Ronald E. Vican courtroom of Stroudsburg, Penn. was finally uncovered and Michael conviction was overturned in his appeal to the Supreme Court. Although Michael’s case was overturned nearly four months ago, on Christmas Eve he was still locked up because his bail and lawyer fees equaled over fifty thousand dollars. In a November 14th 2002 email from Michael Manning mother, pinpointed the issue. She wrote, "its sad to think that in this country a man’s freedom is measured by the almighty dollar sign." $50,000 for freedom of an innocent man! It doesn’t make sense!
In September I had the opportunity to visit Michael and his family. After seeing and talking to him and visiting his family, I knew our work would bring freedom in 2003. I knew two years ago when DAMO & Poor Magazine got involved with the Manning campaign that Michael will be sleeping in his own bed. On December 27th, 2002 Michael had a goodnight sleep in his own bed and rang in a New Year with his family.
Although Michael is free, the DA, Mark Pazuhanich, has threatened to take Michael back to court. Occurring to Michael’s mother and his lawyers, the DA has petitioned Supreme Court however they were told the chances of him granted his request is slim. Michael’s conviction was overturned by a majority vote of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the DA hasn’t been successful in his efforts because when he petitioned Superior Court for retrial he was denied. Plus Michael had an outstanding record as a role model to other inmates with shinning recommendation from prison administrators, guards and other inmates. All of the above elements point that this nightmare is over. When I finally heard Michael’s voice on my voicemail the day after Christmas, I looked over to the cover of Martin Luther King’s book, Why We Can’t Wait and realized that the Manning family and supporters demanded freedom and we finally got it!

For more than two years, I kept Michael’s letters and articles I wrote about his case and it taught me, if you really believe in something and stick with it you will see the fruits of your labor. As we enter a New Year the story of Michael Manning should encourage you like it did for me to dedicate yourself to the work of real progressive causes, organizations and be the voice of buried voices that are demanding freedom, justice, equality and to be respected!

Stay tuned for the words and wisdom of Michael Manning, himself! IT IS A HAPPY NEW YEAR!


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