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POET-PLAYWRIGHT LeRoi Jones was sentenced to two-and-a-half to three years in jail on January 4 in a Newark, New Jersey court for allegedly possessing a gun during the Newark revolt last summer. He was subsequently released on $25,000 bail pending an appeal.

At the trial the judge admitted that he was basing the harshness of sentence on his dislike of the idea expressed in one of LeRoi Jones' poems. The arrest and conviction of LeRoi Jones made many groups and individuals aware of the gravity of a situation where one of the most dynamic Afro-American writers is physically attacked, jailed and denied the right to free speech.

P.E.N., the largest international association of writers, in a letter of protest stated: "Since its founding in 1921 the International P.E.N has defended freedom of expression. The American Center now wishes to take a position on the sentence imposed on LeRoi Jones."

The United Black Artists (UBA) a group of over two hundred Afro-American artists, writers and intellectuals from all over the country are organizing a defense of LeRoi Jones. The Declaration of the Uinted Black Artists issued in New York on January 9th reads, in part:

"We therefore assert that as long as the right of free expression and the dictates of individuals conscience is violated, we will continue as black people to fearlessly affirm these rights and to support our brother LeRoi Jones and the principles of conscience and free expression which he so courageously exemplifies for mankind."

The LeRoi Jones Defense Committee is urgently in need of funds to carry on its work. Anyone who would like to help with this defense should contact Ronald Hobbs, 475 Fifth Ave., New York, N. Y. 10017.


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