Help Gary Tyler

Did Gary Tyler, age 16 at the time, shoot 13-year-old Timothy Weber in Louisiana in 1975? A white mob launched a violent attack on a school bus filled with black students. Weber was hit by a bullet while standing near the bus. Tyler was on the bus, but he had no gun, and there's reason to believe that a gun that was eventually recovered from the bus (but never actually linked to the shooting) was planted long after Tyler's arrest.

Tyler is black, and he's consistently denied that he shot Weber, who was white. Race and an inept lawyer play ugly roles in the investigation and trial of Tyler's case.

Tyler was tried by an all-white jury with members of the black community deliberately excluded from jury selection. The prosecution relied mainly on the testimony of one student, Nathalie Blanks, who was in the same bus with Tyler. She testified to having seen him fire the gun but after the trial she recanted her testimony. Other students who also testified against Tyler have later recanted, saying that they were coerced by the police to making the statements.

Tyler is serving a life sentence. Amnesty International provides detailed background on the case here. Columnist Bob Herbert wrote a series of articles about the case that are available here.

What can you do? This posting at The Nation's Act Now! blog links to a petition asking Kathleen Blanco to issue a pardon, and suggests other ways you can get involved on Tyler's behalf.

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    WSWS on Gary Tyler (none / 0) (#1)
    by Andreas on Thu Mar 29, 2007 at 04:26:44 PM EST
    The Workers League--the predecessor of the Socialist Equality Party--and its youth movement the Young Socialists first took up the campaign for Gary's freedom in 1976 when the then 17-year-old youth was facing the electric chair. Our reporters traveled to Louisiana and conducted a full investigation into the circumstances of Gary's arrest and conviction, which pointed overwhelmingly to a carefully prepared frame-up by the state. The party insisted that this was not simply a case of "Southern justice" and racism but an attack on the whole working class.

    A major campaign was organized in the US and internationally among young people, workers and in the trade union movement demanding Gary's freedom. The Workers League and Young Socialists distributed tens of thousands of copies of a pamphlet entitled The Frameup of Gary Tyler and collected close to 100,000 signatures on petitions calling for Gary's release. After holding several marches throughout the country to popularize his case, a march was held in Harlem, New York on December 4, 1976, which was attended by several hundred youth and trade unionists and addressed by Terry Tyler, Gary's brother. ...

    The Louisiana Democratic Party, which has long dominated political life in the state, has strong ties to racist elements at every level and has played a key role in keeping Gary Tyler behind bars. On three separate occasions the state's pardon board recommending a lessening of Tyler's sentence, which would have allowed him by now to be released. Democratic Governor Roemer rejected the requests on two separate occasions in 1989 and 1991, claiming Gary received a fair trial. Governor Edwin V. Edwards--another Democrat who was later convicted on charges of corruption--never issued a ruling on the pardon board's appeal. ...

    The World Socialist Web Site and the Socialist Equality Party renew the call for young people, workers and all those who defend democratic rights to demand the immediate release of Gary Tyler with full compensation paid to him from the state for the years stolen from his life.

    Victim of 1974 frame-up in Louisiana
    Renewed calls for the freedom of Gary Tyler
    By Lawrence Porter, 7 March 2007

    Letters demand the immediate release of Gary Tyler

    10 March 2007

    Tyler, not Taylor (none / 0) (#2)
    by dthurston on Thu Mar 29, 2007 at 05:30:24 PM EST

    justice (none / 0) (#3)
    by diogenes on Thu Mar 29, 2007 at 06:54:26 PM EST
    If facts introduced by Bob Herbert are true then of course this is a grave injustice which needs to remedied with a pardon.  I commend Talk Left for bringing up a case of a grave injustice which has been perpetrated and continued by Democrats in a Democratic state, as compared with some (e.g. Rush) who only bring up injustices when committed by the opposing party and not by their own.

    Yeah (none / 0) (#4)
    by jondee on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 11:45:28 AM EST
    the first thing Rush would've jumped on was that this was perpetrated by Democrats in a Democratic state. Thanks for taking the high road Diogenes.