South Jamaica CORE (pt. 2)
In June of 1967, both were part of a group of 16 ‘charged with conspiracy to commit arson and anarchy as part of an alleged “black revolutionary” plot’. All were members of the Jamaica Rifle and Pistol Club, Inc. Also arrested were Mandola Mcpherson and Clarence Milton Ellis, both of Queens CORE. The charges were eventually dismissed. Ferguson and Harris, however, were also charged with plotting to assassinate Roy Wilkins, head of the NAACP and Whitney Young, head of the Urban League. Both were also members of Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) and became leaders in the Republic of New Africa (RNA) during their cases.
During their trials, several CORE members such as Queens CORE chairman Gular Glover, Sonny Carson, Ali Lamont and Jitu Weusi of Brooklyn CORE were strong supporters. Despite this, both Ferguson, 46 years old, and Harris, 22, were convicted and sentenced to 3 1/2 – 7 years. Out on bail, both escaped to Guyana after their appeal was denied in December, 1969. Their bail had been posted by Hamilton Banks, Harris' mother, and the Fredricks of Brooklyn CORE.Ferguson continued as an educator in Guyana and also became a lieutenant colonel in the Guyana Defense Force. Harris left Guyana at some point and was believed to be living in Europe.
When Ferguson returned to the United States in 1989 to answer to the charges, his defense team discovered he had been a victim of COINTELPRO through a Freedom of Information Act request. He was initially put under surveillance because of his membership in the Organization of Afro-American Unity, the secular group founded by Malcolm X after he left the Nation of Islam.
As with Bronx CORE, one of Ferguson’s groups, the Black Brotherhood Improvement Association, had been infiltrated by a Black undercover agent, police detective Edward Lee Howlette.
As of April, 1967, South Jamaica CORE was still operational, but whether or not the chapter was still in existence at the time of these trials is not yet known. What ultimately happened to the chapter is also not known at this time.It should be noted that in his own words, Ferguson was not a member of SJ CORE even though he acknowledges being its education chairman. When his wife, Iyaluua Ferguson, was asked about this, she reminded that membership in such groups at the time 'was fluid'.
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