BY BRIAN WILLIAMS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Supporters of the Socialist Workers campaign of Sam Manuel for mayor of Washington, D.C., successfully beat back an attempt by campus and city cops to prevent the distribution and sale of campaign material and literature on a public sidewalk in front of dorms at Howard University, an historically Black institution.
In mid-April, Howard University policewoman C.L. Price had ordered socialist campaigners to not distribute their campaign flyers to students. Standing in front of the socialists' literature table, she told students passing by not to take the material from the socialists or talk to them.
Despite this harassment, several students were attracted to the socialist campaign newspaper, the Militant, as well as political literature on display that included speeches and writings by Malcolm X, Fidel Castro, and Che Guevara.
The Howard University cops then called in the D.C. city police. They proceeded to order the socialists to take down their campaign literature table.
Police officer R. Foye insisted that the sale of political literature on the public sidewalk was soliciting and requires a vending license, and that that location was a "nonvending" area in any case.
In response to this incident, socialist mayoral candidate Manuel immediately sent a letter on April 16 to Mayor Marion Barry condemning this infringement on the right of his supporters to distribute campaign material in public areas in Washington, D.C. Manuel also requested a meeting with Barry to discuss taking steps to end this harassment of SWP campaigners. Copies of this letter were sent to city council members and the media.
"I am writing this letter to bring to your attention a serious violation of constitutional rights and interference with the election process," stated Manuel.
"The presence [at the campaign literature table] and interference of three uniformed guards could only have a chilling effect upon this legal activity and free exchange of political views. Among the materials distributed by our campaign," the letter continues, "are books and pamphlets explaining our political views including The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx, Socialism and Man by Ernesto Che Guevara, and other speeches and writings by Fidel Castro, Maurice Bishop, V.I. Lenin, Thomas Sankara and other revolutionary leaders. Rights to free expression protect the distribution of these materials."
Upon returning to this location on April 23, the Howard University police opted not to interfere with the socialists' campaign literature table. A number of students stopped by to learn more about the socialists' political ideas. A reporter from the Community News was on hand to cover this story.
In addition to Manuel, the Socialist Workers campaign is running Mary Martin for D.C. delegate to the House of Representatives, Brian Williams for City Council Chairman, and Olympia Newton for City Council At-Large.
Brian Williams is a member of the United Steelworkers of
America Local 2609 in Sparrows Point, Maryland.
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