Robert Canney 027953
P.O.Box 1100 189
Avon Park, Fla. 33825
January 21, 1976
OPEN LETTER FROM PRISON
I write to you as a political prisoner of the state of Florida present-
ly confined at the state prison in Avon Park.
I have been both a student and a teacher at the University of Florida-
In the spring of 1970 when I was a doctoral candidate there and teach-
ing classes in the social foundations of education, I was invited, as a
member of the academic community, to speak at a rally in St. Petersburg.
In my address at that rally against war and for human rights I said,
among other things, "Let's bring that goddam war home." For that state-
ment--though the case has been legally obscured otherwise--I am now
serving a six-months to two-years prison sentence.
A police riot took place that April day in Straub Park. Many people
were maced and beaten and arrested. It clearly happened as a result
of a criminal conspiracy by politicians and law-enforcement and in-
telligence agencies. It was designed to disrupt a peaceful and legally
assembled gathering in order to terrorize and intimidate those in
attendance. And it was meant, of course, to discredit what was being
said by the speakers.
I returned to Florida last November after living out of state for
about five years while my conviction was being appealed in the state
courts. At a hearing for reduction of sentence in Dade City the
state's trial prosecutor Richard Mensh argued vigorously that I had
"had the benefit of all that the law afforded." GThough no witnesses
were allowed to testify at my trial in September of 1970.)
Mensh also said, "He was out there raising Cain...instead of coming
into the system." (I was clearly exercising my First Amendment rights
of free speech and peaceable assembly to petition a corrupt govern-
ment for a redress of some very serious grievances.)
In brief, trial judge Robert Williams concurred. He upheld the original
sentence, denied me any further time out on bond while we continued
our appeal in the federal courts, and had me immediately slammed into
the medieval institution that is known as the Pasco County Jail. (It
was as though they both felt that I had escaped being punished long
A while later I was transferred to the Pinellas County Jail, then to
Lake Butler Prison where I became state property with no rights that
any state employee is bound to respect. I am now at the Avon Park,
Prison, another one of the many "overcrowded" prisons in the state, after
being unlawfully arrested, unfairly tried, and unjustly and inhumanely
imprisoned. The state of Florida has twice now disrupted my life and
the lives of my family.
I am writing to call on those of you who believe in human decency and
social justice to join with me in saying NO! to this kind of political
repression--to this kind o state tyranny--in this Bicentennial year.
What will there be to celebrate if we don't?
For further information on my case, and for suggestions for concrete
ways to support (aside from financial contributions to help defray our
mounting expenses), please contact the Bob Canney Support Committee,
330 8th St. N. St. Petersburg, Fla. 33701 or call 813/821-2043.
Also P.O.Box 1463, Gainesville, Fla. 32602 or call 904/375-8635.
Yours in the struggle for liberty
and justice for all,
Bob Canney, Political Prisoner of the State of Florida