The last American Prisoner-of-War
from Nixon’s Vietnam era has been
sentenced to spend the next five years
in an Arizona federal prison.

Even as we enter the 21st century, the cold, repressing hand of RICHARD NIXON is reaching out from beyond the grave -- seizing up one final hostage in his War on Vietnam!

In early February, Howard Mechanic, a former student protester, until then a "pillar of the community"... political/social activist... and candidate for the City Council in Scottsdale, Arizona -- a man known as Gary Tredway since he fled a Federal Court conviction 28 years ago -- was arrested for "flight" on a politically-inspired charge three decades old.

He is now, at age 52, incarcerated in prison at Florence, Arizona -- facing the five-year sentence he was given back during his college-student days -- for allegedly throwing a fire-cracker that exploded more than six feet from police and firemen at a student Peace Rally in St. Louis in 1970.

Every time Howard/Gary stood up before a public micro-phone, or addressed a legislature or a press conference opposing crooked election practices or polluted water or urban sprawl, he took the chance of being discovered and jailed.

And finally, when he took his courage between his teeth and (some say rashly) put himself forward as a viable candidate for the Scottsdale City Council, he took a gamble and lost more than an election. Reports digging into his background came up with the decades-old conviction...and stumbled across a warrant for his arrest: "The last of the Vietnam-war protesters, still sought by the FBI." What a bonanza for them; what a disaster for the rest of us!

The facts are simple, if unclear: on May 5, 1970- the day after National Guard troops mowed down 13 students at Kent State University and killed four young unarmed students opposing the war, college kids across the country marched in protest. Local police and fire department in St. Louis showed up. Scuffles and arrests ensued, and bottles, rocks, and firecrackers were thrown by the unarmed students. These missiles were ineffective – none of the firecrackers landed within six feet of anyone.

Luckily, there were no serious injuries on either side.

Unluckily, Howard Mechanic and several others were arrested on various charges. Someone said that Howard had thrown a cherry bomb; he denied it, but was brought to jail and to trial. Though the only witness admitted under oath that he did not see who threw the firecracker, the conservative judge wanted to "send a signal" to potential protesters.

Howard was the first person in the nation to be convicted under a new super-strict Federal anti- demonstration law designed to throttle war protesters, and he was sentenced to FIVE YEARS in prison.

Not surprisingly, Howard chose flight and freedom over this unjust incarceration. He spent his freedom in active community service. It worked pretty well, and five years grew into ten and then twenty and now almost thirty.

The reaction in the local community to his arrest and incarceration has been heartening. Local politicians and judges, lawyers, businessmen, and friends of his family have begun campaigning for a commutation of sentence and a pardon. The man is certainly no threat to the community he so devotedly has served for so long. Those days of paranoid suppression and heavy-handed stifling of war opposition are far behind us.

There are newspaper articles linked to this website. We urge you to read them, and then to contact your congressperson or senator. Ask for a commutation of his unjust sentence.

And, yes, it’s going to take money to pay for legal expenses. Howard donated over 25% of his annual income to social causes: a generous practice, but not one that builds up a bank account. Anything you can afford or care to donate will be gratefully accepted, and of course acknowledged.

Donations should be mailed to the

Howard Mechanic Legal Defense Fund,
P.O. Box 27991,
Tempe, AZ 85285-7991
or you may make a direct deposit at any
Bank of America into account #004671039985

Thanks for your interest, your support, and for
any help you can extend in this very worthy cause.

Chair Sherry Bohlen
Media Chair Dave Winkler
Special Projects Chair Steve Brittle
Defense Fund Chair Jeanne Frieden
Tabling & Leafleting Chair Lucy Logan
Legal Community Support Chair Mike Valder
Demonstrations Chair Jim Driscoll
Calling Chair Pat Day
Minority Outreach Chair Manuel Hernandez
Other Committee Members Patty Badenoch
Ray Gold - Olga Strickland - Janet Valder

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