From the Ervin’s:
First and foremost, we hope that you and your loved ones who were in the path of Stormaggedon (sp?) are safe, have shelter and lights. According to U.S. news reports, many people in London and elsewhere in the U.K. have no electricity and suffered property damage due to falling trees, etc.
We also want to take this opportunity to again thank those who hosted our talks while we were in the U.K.,who provided us with shelter and food, and did or media interviews with us or expressed an interest in interviewing us. Your hospitality and interest was very much appreciated. We returned to Memphis this past Saturday afternoon. We’re still pretty tired from three weeks of speaking and travelling, a grueling experience for a couple of senior citizens like us! Overall, it was an experience of a lifetime for us, which we’re still evaluating. In a later email, we’ll share more on our thoughts about the tour.
Immediately, we need your help to protest the U.S. government’s spying on us during our visit to the U.K. Below is a letter we drafted that we’re asking you to personally send to President Barack Obama. Please, feel free to write as much of the letter in your own words as you wish. You may also, if you so desire, send a copy of the letter to Prime Minister David Cameron at No. 10 Downing Street.
**The bold faced type in the letter indicates places where you will need to enter some specifics regarding the talk(s) that you personally heard Lorenzo or JoNina give.**
Following is the URL for the form you will need to use in order to submit your letter to Obama:
While we were in the U.K., we talked about the need for international solidarity. We’re asking for it now.
Love and struggle,
JoNina & Lorenzo Ervin
President Barack Obama
The White House
Re: Complaint About Spying On U.S. Black Activists During Their Visit
To the United Kingdom
Dear President Obama:
I am writing to protest the spying of U.S. intelligence agencies on veteran African-American political activists Lorenzo Komboa Ervin and JoNina Abron-Ervin during their recent visit to the United Kingdom.
It is my understanding that several social justice and student groups in the United Kingdom invited Lorenzo and JoNina to give talks during the U.K.‘s annual October celebration of Black History Month. I attended one of these talks. (**Here, use your own words, depending on who you heard speak, Lorenzo and/or JoNina**) gave an analysis of the long-term racist and economic oppression of black people in the United States and accounts of his/her/their personal experiences as black social justice activists dedicated to fighting this oppression. **Here, please give your own words about what you personally thought of Lorenzo’s and/or JoNina’s remarks. **
Lorenzo and JoNina report that upon their return to the United States on October 26 on Delta flight 19 to Detroit, Michigan, they were the only Americans on the flight who were detained by the U.S. Border Police for questioning and the only Americans on the fight whose luggage was searched. Included among the questions that Lorenzo and JoNina say they were asked were: 1. Did they speak to any groups while in the U.K.? 2. Has Lorenzo ever been in trouble with the law? 3. Has Lorenzo ever written a book critical of the U.S. government?
I share Lorenzo’s and JoNina’s belief that U.S. intelligence agents spied on the couple while they were in the U.K., possibly assisted by the U.K’s GCHQ or other U.K. police and intelligence agencies. According to The Guardian newspaper, documents leaked by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that the GCHQ routinely assists your government’s NSA in spying on Americans who are in the U.K.
Sir, prior to becoming a politician, you were a community activist. Lorenzo Ervin and JoNina Abron-Ervin, who are each in their mid-60’s, are veteran black community and social justice activists in the United States. It is outrageous that the American government would subject Lorenzo and JoNina, citizens of the United States who have dedicated their lives to fighting for freedom and equality for all Americans, to this kind of racial profiling and harassment.