It was here in 2007 that Cuban Five attorney Leonard Weinglass presented the case of the Five in the Moot Court Room, where Col. Lawrence Wilkerson first heard about the Five and was convinced that they should be freed.
The law school's interim dean, Okianer Christian Dark, hosted the forum, and made sure the whole school's faculty and students were informed ahead of time.
Dean Dark spoke first, saying that the Law School's mission is to produce "social engineers," those who care about the underprivileged in society. "When we talk to our students, a social engineer is to be the mouthpiece of the weak and a sentinel guarding against wrong. This program fits quite well into our educational program."
Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, gave the background of the Five's case, explaining their anti-terrorist mission and the U.S. government's political persecution of them. "Dozens of Miami journalists, in the most hysterical and prejudicial manner, worked to convict them in the Miami media, from the time of the shoot-down all the way through their arrests, their detention and their trial, while they were on the U.S. government payroll, unknown to the defendants."
Martin Garbus, part of the Cuban Five appeals team, talked of the U.S. government misconduct, with its secret payments of millions of dollars to Miami journalists who worked to convict the Five during trial. "Those of you who are law students or lawyers will think about all the cases you have seen and all the claims of governmental injustice, and you will not find another case in the United States that bears any relation to what happened down in Miami."
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005, denounced the "grievous injustice just on the venue issue alone." He offered one proposal, "We release the Cuban Five and they release Alan Gross. And the Cuban Five go back to Cuba and to their families, and Alan Gross comes back to his. This is so simple. This is so easy that I wish I were the diplomat in charge of it and I wish I had carte blanche because it would take me about 24 hours."
Dr. Kurt Schmoke, former Dean of Howard Law School and former mayor of Baltimore, spoke to the young law students, proposing enthusiastically that they use their social-networking skills to spread the word about the Cuban Five. He also suggested that President Obama could commute the sentences of the Five. "If we can get that message out through social media, and get our friends, many of whom were Obama supporters, and just say, Mr. President, the time has come to end this injustice, let them go home."
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, described the covert and illegal operation of the government in paying journalists to poison the Miami atmosphere against the Five. PCJF wrested much information from the U.S. government of that operation. She told the audience, "The U.S. government is lying to us, the people of the United, States. The U.S. government is conducting covert operations, they're denying the right to a fair trial, they're destroying the idea of the free press, because they're paying for it and they're writing it. And they're keeping these men in jail when these men should be free."
That morning, Antonio Guerrero had written a special message for the forum, which was read by Dean Dark. Antonio wrote: "If we could summarize in one phrase that which has kept us in prison all these years, it would be this: silence to cover up injustice...We were absolutely justified to act clandestinely against the counter-revolutionary groups that organized and still organize terrorist acts against Cuba from this country." He closed by saying, "Thank you so much for your support, which gives us strength, and will help win our freedom." Click here to read the complete message from Antonio.
Video of each of the inspiring speeches is available online. Watch them, share them with your friends, and spread the message of the Cuban Five!