Saturday, November 14, 2009

Artists Plead for Charles Manson's Freedom

The music and arts communities were stunned by the arrest of Charles Manson in Switzerland upon his arrival to pick up a lifetime achievement award. Manson's close personal friend and assistant stated, "If we had known Charlie would be arrested, he never would have gone."

Charles Manson was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in the deaths of Sharon Tate, who was 8-1/2 months pregnant at the time, Polanski's friend Wojciech Frykowski, friend and former lover, Jay Sebring, noted hairstylist, and Frykowski's friend and lover, Abigail Folger,the Folger coffee heiress. On the following night, Manson's friends, dubbed the "Manson Family," brutally murdered Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their home.

Thousands of artists, writers and those in the music industry have rallied to Manson's defense, calling his extradition to the United States a miscarriage of justice. "He has suffered over the past 38 years. His genius has illuminated the world and it is a travesty that he must be treated in this fashion," said Virgin Records founder Richard Branson. The outpouring of support includes the creative artists from every country, including the United States. Whoopi Goldberg said, "It wasn't murder-murder."

During an interview, Gore Vidal was quoted as saying, "Those were different times. The drugs, the alcohol, and Sharon Tate parading nude in movies were all part of a deadly emotional Molotov cocktail. Charlie wasn't even there that night."

In 1971 while awaiting sentence, Charles Manson fled the United States. Since that time, he has written songs for some of the most celebrated groups and singers in the world, living an exemplary life and donating millions to charities to end world hunger and repeal the death penalty.

Polanski, Sharon Tate's husband, said he doesn't want to rake up the past. "The past is the past. I have moved on with my life and would prefer not to have to relive those days again."

In 1995, Manson paid Polanski one million dollars and offered Polanski an apology for the murders done in his name.

Manson awaits extradition in neutral Switzerland and his appeals to be set free on bond have been denied as he is considered a flight risk. His lawyer's appeals on the strength of Manson's record of public service and the body of his work, acknowledged by most as genius, have also been denied.

Although Manson was to have received the Swiss award for lifetime achievement, the Swiss government refuses to set him free. In response, the artistic community have gathered to demand Manson's freedom and many have pleaded with the U.S. government to vacate the extradition order, to no avail, and in spite of Polanski's plea that Manson be set free.

Manson's plight continues to be an emotional issue for those for and against his return to the United States to face sentencing and the outpouring of support from the artistic community continues.


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