Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin

Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin

Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin (born 1947 in Chattanooga, Tennessee) is an African American writer, activist, and Black anarchist. He is a former member of the Black Panther Party. As of December 2006, he lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Youth and early activism

When he was 12, Ervin joined the NAACP youth group and participated in the sit-in protests that helped end racial segregation in Chattanooga. He was drafted during the Vietnam War and served in the army for two years, where he became an anti-War activist. In 1967 he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and, a short time later, the Black Panther Party.

Hijacking and incarceration

In February 1969, Ervin hijacked a plane to Cuba to evade prosecution for allegedly trying to kill a Ku Klux Klan leader. While in Cuba and Czechoslovakia, Ervin became disillusioned with state socialism. After several unsuccessful attempts, the American government eventually extradited Ervin and brought him to the U.S. to face trial. Ervin's trial, at which he faced the death penalty, was held by a white judge before an all-white jury.Fact|date=February 2007 Ervin was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Ervin first learned about anarchism while in prison in the late 1970s. He read numerous anarchist books, and his case was adopted by the Anarchist Black Cross, a political prisoner support organization. While in prison, Ervin wrote several anarchist pamphlets, including "Anarchism and the Black Revolution," which has been reprinted many times and may be his best-known work.

Eventually, Ervin's legal challenges and an international campaign led to his release from prison after 15 years.

Post-prison activism

Ervin returned to Chattanooga after his release, where he became involved with a local civil rights group called Concerned Citizens for Justice, fighting police brutality and the Klan. In 1987, Ervin helped file a class action civil rights lawsuit that resulted in the restructuring of the Chattanooga government and the election of several black city council members.

On April 26, 2008, Ervin and his wife organized a march and rally in Nashville, Tennessee to protest the deaths of two youths in Tennessee facilities, including the Chad Center.

Australian Speaking Tour

During July 1997 Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin was invited to tour Australia by local anarchist organization "Angry People". ["Deportation of Ervin an act of white supremacism: Sponsors" ABC online July 9, 1997 (5:57am AEST)] . The far-right organization Australians Against Further Immigration, ["Anti-migrant group revealed activist's visit" Sydney Morning Herald July 9, 1997] raised the issue with Acting Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone. Then anti-immigration politician Pauline Hanson accused him of being "a known terrorist and gun-runner". ["A Win for the Panther" Sydney Morning Herald July 11, 1997] .

Prime Minister John Howard was reported as horrified to learn that Mr Lorenzo Kom'Boa Ervin had been granted a visa and was visiting Australia, ["Howard orders Panther visa probe" The Age July 7, 1997] and Immigration officials started an urgent investigation, ["Visa review for visiting black activist" Sydney Morning Herald July 7, 1997] detaining Ervin in Brisbane and canceling his visa. [" [http://www.minister.immi.gov.au/media/media-releases/1997/r97067.htm Minister Cancels Lorenzo Ervin's Visa] " Media Release from Acting Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Senator the Hon. Amanda Vanstone 8 July 1997. Accessed May 8, 1997] The visa was canceled on the grounds that he was not of good character, which Ervin disputed. ["Activist in jail after visa seized" Sydney Morning Herald July 8, 1997]

Ervin had visited 20 countries on lecture tours since his release from prison in 1983. Ervin's Australian visa had been granted through an electronic lodgment system in Los Angeles. ["System failed twice - and in came Panther" Sydney Morning Herald July 9, 1997] The imprisonment of Ervin was taken to the High Court of Australia, where Chief Justice, Sir Gerard Brennan, restored Ervin's visa and ordered his release from prison saying that Ervin did not appear to have been accorded natural justice, ["Expensive backdown over arrest of activist" The Age July 11, 1997] as well as chiding the Government's lawyers for suggesting he had no power to hear the case. ["Judge decides today if Panther stays caged" Sydney Morning Herald July 10, 1997] [ [http://www.austlii.edu.au//cgi-bin/disp.pl/au/other/hca/transcripts/1997/B29/1.html Legal Argument in the High Court of Australia] July 1997 Transcript | [http://www.austlii.edu.au//cgi-bin/disp.pl/au/other/hca/transcripts/1997/B29/2.html Legal Judgement] High Court of Australia Re: The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Ex parte Ervin B29/1997]

Legal costs were awarded against the Federal Government. Ervin stated that Mr Howard should apologize. ["Ervin calls on Howard to apologise" Sydney Morning Herald July 11, 1997]

The detainment of Ervin stimulated international protests that included pickets of Australian embassies and consulates in South Africa, Greece, Italy, Sweden, UK, Ireland, New Zealand and the US. [The Australian July 9-10, 1997]

Immediately after his release from 4 days in prison, Ervin attended NAIDOC celebrations in Musgrave Park, West End, as a guest of the Murri people (Indigenous Australians from Queensland), and gave a brief speech. Ervin continued his speaking tour, while Immigration officials prepared further questions for him to answer. ["Black activist gets on with tour while awaiting visa quiz" The Age July 13, 1997] While traveling on his speaking tour Ervin attempted to visit Australian Black Panther movement activist, Denis Walker in Cessnock Jail, but was denied access by police and warders. ["Black Panther banned from jail" Sun Herald July 19, 1997]

The actions of the government were generally said to have generated attention and publicity for Ervin, and to have resulted in many more people attending his speaking tour than would have otherwise. ["Unlikely martyr for free speech" The Age July 13, 1997] [" [http://www.eskimo.com/~galt/australia.html Lorenzo Komboa Ervin Arrested in Australia] " - website from 1997 including some early Australian media reports. Accessed May 8, 2007]

The affair resulted in Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock cutting short an overseas trip to oversee further Immigration handling of the issue. ["Minister cuts trip short to sort out Panther visa row" The Age July 18, 1997] Ervin left Australia on July 24, 1997 claiming that Immigration officials had threatened to deport him if he stayed any longer. ["Ervin claims he is being forced to go" Sydney Morning Herald July 24, 1997] . Soon after Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock announced an upgrade of Australia's migrant alert systems ["Migrant alert upgrade after ex-Panther bungle" Illawarra Mercury July 27, 1997] and toughened its visa screening procedures, with more stringent checking of "high-risk" applicants. ["Crackdown on visa-seekers as laws get tougher" Sydney Morning Herald July 27, 1997]


* [http://lemming.mahost.org/abr/abr4.htm A Short Biography of Lorenzo Komboa Ervin] .
* [http://libcom.org/library/anarchism-black-revolution-lorenzo-ervin-bio Biographical Sketch] .
* P.J. Tobia, [http://www.nashvillescene.com/Stories/News/2006/12/14/Liberal_On_Liberal_Antagonism/index.shtml Liberal-On-Liberal Antagonism, A terminated employee calls one of Nashville’s leading liberal activist organizations a racist 'progressive plantation'] , "Nashville Scene", December 14, 2006.

External links

* [http://www.infoshop.org/rants/lorenzo.html Essays by Lorenzo Komboa Ervin] (maintained by Infoshop.org)
* [http://libcom.org/tags/lorenzo-komboa-ervin] Essays by Lorenzo Komboa Ervin (maintained by Libcom.org)
* [http://lemming.mahost.org/abr/ Anarchism and the Black Revolution and other writings, interviews, audio, and related material]

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