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Rest in Power! Statement on Behalf of the Family and Committee to Free Chip Fitzgerald

Below is a statement by The Family & Committee To Free Chip Fitzgerald about the recent death of the longest incarcerated member of the Black Panther Party.

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The following is a statement from the Committee to Free Chip Fitzgerald. Chip was the longest incarcerated Black Panther in U.S. History. From the age of 17, he was incarcerated as part of the growing state repression against the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, in particular the Southern California Chapter. Chip and the Black Panther comrades organized and fought against racism, capitalism, and imperialism and for revolutionary socialism. For that they were targeted and punished. Chip was sentenced to a lifetime behind bars. Left Voice member Julia Wallace had the honor to speak with Chip via phone while passing out flyers with the Committee to Free Chip Fitzgerald at the Nispey Hussle memorial. Even behind bars he was friendly, humble, and affirmed his commitment to struggle. Chip inspired so many people in the community. He was committed to the struggle until his dying breath. In his name we fight for the freedom of all political prisoners. Long live Chip Fitzgerald! #FreeThemAll.

Regarding The Farewell Of Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald
On Behalf Of The Family & Committee To Free Chip

On Sunday, March 28, 2021, at 3:04 p.m., our brother, uncle, cousin, comrade and friend, Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, joined the ancestors. For a week, he lay barely conscious in a Los Angeles hospital as he struggled to extend his life after suffering a massive stroke in California’s gulag known as Lancaster. Chip’s strength and dedication to life remained intact as he defied those doctors who said he would not make it through the night in the hours after his initial arrival at the hospital. A stalwart soldier, he fought until his very last breath. Chip died as he had lived: fighting. A Service is being planned which may be in a month or so due to COVID, followed by a memorial. We want to also thank the many thousands who put their voices together to free Brother Chip.

Among the government’s many victims, Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald was a member of the Black Panther Party in Los Angeles. Incarcerated since 1969, he grew old in prison and was disabled many years ago by an earlier, less lethal stroke. Like millions of Black youth during the sixties, Chip, at the age of 17, joined the freedom struggle as the social justice movement rapidly expanded to include massive numbers of urban youth. The government’s conduct towards Chip proves that important elements of our society are guided by an irrational tradition that values vengeance over justice or reconciliation. This failure demonstrates the nation’s unwillingness to fully acknowledge historic wrongs perpetrated against Black Americans.

Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald was a social justice activist and it is inhumane to imprison activists for 50 years or more, particularly while others convicted of comparable crimes have served significantly less time. A closer look reveals the only differences between those serving shorter sentences and those serving longer ones are the political beliefs and affiliations some had with social justice groups like the Black Panther Party.

Chip never compromised, though he continued to the end to seek redress for this egregious wrong by working with his lawyer, family and defense committees to end his half century nightmare of a slow death behind bars. For us the living, Chip’s passing is a lesson to keep fighting the good fight. To give when perhaps it’s hard to give. And to live when perhaps life seems so empty. Chip’s life did not leave us without a clear message. During his final days in the hospital, the authorities felt the need to chain and shackle Chip to his bed. Despite the fact that he was hardly conscious, they saw this demeaning action as necessary. What they failed to understand is that you can neither jail nor shackle the spirit of liberation. May we all aspire to leave this same impression of daring to struggle until our last breath. And may Chip’s stalwart example give us the courage to dare to win.

All Power to the People! 

Free All Political Prisoners!

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