Little did Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald know in 1969 that his commitment to social justice would result in a fate some might argue is perhaps worse than death.
California’s ultra-conservative prison system, whose roots are both conscious and unconsciously entrenched in a racist tradition, has exacted a dear price from Romaine Fitzgerald by making him pay with more than fifty years of his life.
Eligible for parole since 1976, Romaine Fitzgerald, who also carries the political weight of being a former member of The Black Panther Party, has been denied an opportunity to get out of prison while at the same time most prisoners with a similar offense have long been released.
It’s also worth noting that contributing to the poor quality of the prison system is the absence of a powerful social justice movement that can deliver the type of potent punch demonstrated by 1960’s era movements. This decline contributes to a prison population that is less socially conscious of itself, making Mr. Fitzgerald’s release even more uncertain.
During the summer of 2019, the prison’s increased pressure on Romaine Fitzgerald came on the heels of lawyer inquiries and a public petition drive, where thousands of California residents called for his release. This public call for his release made Romaine even more visible to prison authorities, and predictably, in October 2019, the seventy-year old political prisoner became the victim of a physical assault by a fellow inmate.
To date, Romaine, a stroke victim with partial paralysis, has consistently been denied proper housing in an appropriate medical facility. The California Department of Correction’s refusal to place the aging Fitzgerald in a medical facility deprives him of his human right to safety, and now with the threat of Coronavirus, the prison population is currently on lockdown. These circumstances place the aging Fitzgerald in an even more vulnerable situation.
Described by some officials as a model prisoner and a positive force inside the prison walls, Mr. Fitzgerald has been eligible for parole for 42 years. Even this reality has failed to compel authorities to administer justice in this case. It also seems not to matter that Mr. Fitzgerald, who sometimes requires the use of a wheel chair or a walking cane for mobility, is currently an elderly stroke victim in need of consistent medical care. It appears the California Department of Corrections is on a quest to achieve a distorted sense of victory by effecting the slow death of Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald behind bars.
We can’t let this happen! 50 Years is Enough!
We who believe in freedom cannot rest!
We request that you do the following:
Call, tweet, email and write:
California Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th Street Suite 1173
Sacramento, Ca. 95814
Insist Romaine Fitzgerald be given decent medical care.
Let the Governor know you expect them to follow the rule of law and release Romaine Fitzgerald from prison, particularly following California legislation applying to long term youthful offenders in poor health.
Circulate the website petition to California residents/particularly on Twitter and Facebook.
50 Years is Enough!