We Demand Justice for Lawrence Hayes!

Now that New York State is moving to push through its first death penalty case in 15 years, it is trying to silence a prominent critic of its efforts. Lawrence Hayes, an active participant in the Campaign to End the Death Penalty from its inception, was imprisoned for a minor parole violation in late April.

Hayes was a Black Panther in the late 1960s. He was framed for murder and sent to death row. Though his sentence was commuted after the Supreme Court suspended the use of the death penalty in the U.S. in 1972, he was still forced to spend over 20 years in prison.

Since his release, he has been an active opponent of the death penalty. He took a keen interest in Darrell Harris' case and spent a great deal of time contacting families of the victims of the shootings of which Harris has been accused. Hayes hoped to sway at least a few family members over to publicly opposing the death penalty. This effort, together with a picture of Hayes in a Brooklyn newspaper and his name in a newspaper article about the Harris case, made him a prominent figure in the growing movement to stop the death penalty in New York.

So after six and a half years of favorable reports from his parole officer, Lawrence was locked up in the Brooklyn House of Detention for missing two appointments - hardly a major offense. This happened just three days before Darrell Harris' case was set to open. While the Parole Board would never admit it, Lawrence's detention is clearly political in nature.

The Campaign to End the Death Penalty is organizing a defense campaign to free Lawrence Hayes. Letters and petitions demanding his release can be sent to:

Byron Travis
Chairman of the Board of Parole
97 Central Ave., Albany, NY 12206

To find out more about Lawrence's case, please call (212) 984-3123.