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Rainbow Bridge

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The Rainbow Bridge column this issue is taken f rom a speech given by John Sinclair in Phoenix, Arizona, September 16, 1972 at a Voter Registration Rally held in honor of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. l'd like to thank you all very much for sitting out here n the sun all day with no rock & roll or nothin to keep our energy up, and I just want to teil everyone how honored I am today to be here as part of this event n Phoenix, Arizona, as an exconvict, and as a stated enemy of the US. government and recognized as such, and share this stage with other so-called crimináis, ex-convicts, political gangsters such as Lee Otis Johnson, who just did four years for one joint in Texas, of a thirty year sentence, and Tony Russo, who spoke earlier, he's another criminal, brother Ted Shaw, who did time here in Arizona for marijuana. It's of particular significance here in Phoenix, Arizona, the land of Richard Kleindienst and others of the more prominent crimináis of the U.S. government, Richard Kleindienst is the head of the Department of Justice. It's called Just Us, and later for everybody else. (Applause.) It really is an honor to be out here with all these outlaws addressing a bunch of outlaws out in the stands, who are breaking the law themselves, and showing no respect for Richard Kleindienst or any of these other creeps. I think that a lot of people today have been talking about a lot of stuff that to me has been irreverant, not because of the content, but because it seems to me that people who come out here and stand in the sun are already hip to Richard Nixon, are already hip to the war going on and don't have to be convinced of nothing about Richard Nixon or any of those creeps, you know what I mean? (Applause) The same thing relating to the situation of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, n whose honor this gathering is being held today. I don't think anybody who has been listening to the Beatles as long as I have, for example, has to be convinced that they should stay n the United States. In fact, we've been wanting them to come over to the U.S. for ten years, so now that they're here I don't think anybody has any trouble relating to that. I think that from my experience the only thing people have trouble relating to is ways to get involved in forms of struggle against the system that perpetrates these conditions in which we live and with which we're all familiar. I think the thing that people are looking for is ways to do concrete things to change this situation. tsecause what we're talking about in the Final analysis when we're talking about changing society is changing the people who control the economie and political and cultural life of this country. We're talking about removing these people from those positions of power; we're talking about dismantling the machinery of power that they've created, the machinery of exploitation and oppression that they've constructed in order to achieve their end of ripping off everybody on the planet. We want to dismantle that whole machinery and throw it on the junkheap of history, and build some kind of new machinery where all the people will live together in some kind of human form where people aren't ripping each other off and people aren't stepping on each other's backs in order to get a little bit for themselves. So hat's what we have to do and that's what I hink everybody realizes inside their bodies and inside their heads. The thing is that this shit don't happen by magie. It happens by people organizing themselves and moving together in an organized fashion taking concrete steps, step by step, to make concrete changes. That's how it happens. It don't happen by magie. It happens by people working hard to organize each other and to organize their communities and to build their communities into strong bastions of people's power, which takes a long period of time. We're very concerned about the conditions that we live in. I did 214 years in the penitentiary for possession of two joints of weed and I didn't like t at all. A lot of people didn't like t, a lot of people didn't like folks going to the penitentiary for getting high. But we stoppedthemfrom putting those 9V2 to 10's on them. Now they got one year, the next step they won't have none. (Applause) And that victory is simply the result of masses of people in a particular place organizing themselves arouhd a very concrete issue, and moving 'together to make a very concrete change. Dig it! The only other thing I wanted to say is about John Lennon and Yoko Ono.and I don't want to sound corney or nothing like that but in my situation I relate to this brother and this sister very strongly. I was in the penitentiary and these people who I had never met before n my life were told about my case and the kind of wierdness that was going down around my case and they related to it in such a way that they came out to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where we live, and performed at a big rally at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, and three days after that I was released from the penitentiary on appeal bond. (Applause) Now it wasn't just because of John & Yoko that we were successful- their appearance was the culmination of two and a half years of effort on the part of a whole lot of people in the state of Michigan, a whole lot of bands that supported us over those years, played for benefits, rallies, and a whole lot of people throught the state of Michigan who got behind my case. But the culmination was that John Lennon and Yoko Ono, on their own, at their own expense carne out to Ann Arbor and did this for me, who they didn't even know. That was a powerful act! And it focused attention from all over the country on these pigs that were running the courts and jails in the state of Michigan, and it put them in the light of day where they weren't able to hide what they were doing anymore. And that just caused a natural reaction in them to spring me out of there, because I was at the center of what was going on with all their wierdness, about weed.Then three months later, I won my appeal and my conviction got reversed in the state courts, the State Supreme Court, and they declared, on the basis of my attorneys' arguments and briefs, that the marijuana laws in the state of Michigan were unconstitutional and that all the brothers and sisters in the state of Michigan, 126 brothers and 2 sisters, who had served time under the marijuana laws, had to be released. So they all did the marijuana prisoner boogie coming out of the penitentiary in April, and that allowed as a result of this kind of thing. What happens is that you move in steps, you see what I mean? We moved by ourselves, with the people in Michigan, for a long period of time, so these people out there in NYC, John Lennon and Yoko Ono saw that something was happening and they moved to unite with us. And when they united with us, our thing became bigger and it caused an immediate result. And that result was so tremendous that t caused other chain reactions such as the Supreme Court being moved further to throw that law out and to release those people. The more victories we achieve, the greater our strength as a people in that particular community in that area would grow. So that now people, for example, and l'm not saying that this is some kind of liberation or this is the beall and end-all of existence, but for example, people in Ann Arbor walk down the street smoking joints. And the pigs don't bother them because it's only a $5 fine and t costs them more than that to take them into court. So that's the kind of thina that's happening as a result of people unifyinq and organizing themselves and getting themselves together. And that, just like I say, takes the heat off you, so you can start to really get down to what you gotta do, which s to organize yourselves to such an extent that you can remove all these old dinosaurs and fools and buffoons from these positiond of power so they can't oppress us or any other segment of society any more. Now l'd say that John Lennon and Yoko Ono are important in this because one of the strongest things we have as a people, as part of our power, and as part of the thing that can make us more unified and more strong, is the music that we listen to and be part of. That's rock & roll music, of which John Lennon and them have been devout practitioners for many years. With rock & roll for example, if we had some today there would probably be more of us here and then there would be more of us here together, and we'd feel stronger even than we do now. The music is an integral part of the community. We've always contended the music has to be brought back to the community and be made an integral part of the community and the musicians can't just ignore the problems of the people in the community and just go out and make all their money and buy Aston-Martins and live on the French Riviera and shit like that. They got to relate to what's going on in the lives of the people who buy their records and go to their concerts. They're responsible foi these people, because in a lot of ways they have created them. John Lennon realizes that by now, after many years he realizes that. He's taken a very progressive step as far as l'm concerned, and in talking with him I know that continued on page 16 J Aj0 "GolumnlbyJphaincLair continued f rom page 13 he and Yoko both have n mind to do a lot more stuff like this. They had a plan for this year to start in March or April and go around the country dii summer domg rock & roll shows in different people's communities and seeing that the money returned to the people in those communities, doing non-profit concerts with the money that was made at the door going back into different defense funds, community organizing projects, free health clinics, the American Indian movement, the Black Panther Party, and other righteous causes. And I think that f you can understnad that, you can understand perfectly why the government has been trying to run these people out of the country. I think we can understand how the government became aware of the potential danger of huge rock and roll stars running around the country turning everything around- not exploiting people and not charging $6.50 at the door, and not taking in $45,000 per night, but returning the money back to the people and relating to the community, that's a heavy lick. That's a heavy lick in a diseased music industry, you know what I mean. (Applause) Every body knows what I mean cause people go to concerts. Everybody that goes to certs n these obscene halls knows what the music business s about and knows how radical a thing it is for a musician in a position to go around and rip off two million dollars, say, like the Rolling Stones just did, who could do that, but instead who was gonna come around and try to do just the opposite of that and return money to the community and try to strengthen people rather than weaken them, you see what I mean? The government is hip to that. And the government has carried on this campaign against John Lennon and Yoko Ono to try to keep them from staying in this country because they don't want them doing that. They particularly didn't want them doing that this summer. Richard Nixon is in a precarious enough position now, especially with all his thugs and crooks and wiretappers and B & E artists and armed robDtia that he's got running around Democratie Party Headquarters being exposed and everything. I think that he knows just how precarious his position is and he doesn't want people going around disrupting the set anymore than it already is, which is already too much for him. So I think that f you look at it in that light, as some kind of serious action that they're planning, and their suppression is a very serious move on the part of the government to keep some kind of rock & roll politica! movement from forming, then you can see why they don't want them to stay in the country, and you can see why it's important for all of us and people all over the country who relate to the music and to people's needs and serving those needs, you can see why there is a need for us to support them. That's why I carne out here from Michigan, and I got a lot of work to do out there, but John and Yoko put themselves in a position for me, and I thought that this was the least I could do. I was proud to come down here again to the home of Richard Kleindienst and Barry Goldwater and these other anti-heroes of our culture and be able to talk in behalf of my brother and sister John Lennon and Yoko Ono and tnanx everyoody tor coming out here n the sun. l'm going to California tomorrow for a week to work on the California Marijuana Initiative and l'm going back home, and people here have to go back to where they live around here, and if you can go back and remember that the way you 're gonna do something is by organizing yourselves and by sticking together and by plugging into the spirit that arises at gatherings like this gathering, where we can see each other, and feel each other. And we know that what we need is to unify ourselves more anc more strongly all the time and to use whatever methods there are available from registering to vote, voting, signing petitions, down to whatever you do that's gonna advance things, then we know that if we go along on that course and if we continue on that course and like we always say, we don't be afraid and we don't let these wierdo tricks they play on our minds weigh us down, then we can really do something. John Lennon and Yoko Ono-let's not stop here. ok? Thank you.