Student group brings attention to American prison problem

Maura Zurick

Students protest against wrongly incarcerated political prisoners

The Kent Student Liberty Alliance held a protest Wednesday to raise awareness about political prisoners in America.

The group set up a cage and passed out informational flyers in Risman Plaza to highlight the cases of five specific prisoners.

Marc Emery is a Canadian activist who is currently being held in the United States prison system for selling marijuana seeds to American citizens. He is serving a five-year prison sentence in an attempt to avoid a greater sentence of 30 years to life.

Edward and Elaine Brown are from New Hampshire and were arrested for tax evasion in 2007. The couple missed their hearing in 2007, broke a court order and returned to their home that was stocked with food, water and weapons. The couple was finally arrested in October 2007. They were both sentenced to 37 years in prison.

Cirino Gonzalez heard about the Browns’ story from a news clip, and he decided to stay with them for several months. While living with the Browns, he blogged daily about the tax evasion case against the Browns. In September 2007, federal marshals arrested Gonzalez for conspiracy and aiding and abetting. He is sentenced to eight years in federal prison.

Eric McDavid is an environmental anarchist and an animal rights activist. He was charged with a single count of conspiracy and sentenced to 19 years and seven months in prison.

Corey Moore, vice president of the Kent Student Liberty Alliance and freshman electronic media major, has been active in the group for three years.

“We’re at Kent State to raise awareness to the student body and help students understand that there are people in prison right now that have done no harm to anyone,” he said. “They’re just political like me. We’re here to stand up for everyone’s rights.”

Kirby Loudenslagel, senior fashion merchandising major, was at the protest supporting her boyfriend, a member of Kent Student Liberty Alliance, and also the cause.

“My boyfriend and I are concerned about Marc Emery. There is no reason why he should be here in America. Why should we be paying to feed and house a non-American? He never set foot in America so why is he in prison here and not Canada? It makes no sense,” Loudenslagel said.

The Kent Student Liberty Alliance asked the wife of Gonzalez, Donna Van Meter-Gonzalez, to be the guest speaker for the protest.

“Any time anyone speaks up for a good cause it will reach out to some one. That’s what we’re hoping to do here,” Van Meter-Gonzalez said.

You can contact Maura Zurik at [email protected].