To the Editors:
We think your readers will be interested in the following statement, which has been signed by over 130 American bookstore owners, managers, librarians, and publishers.
We, the undersigned members of the publishing and bookselling industry, wish to raise our voices in protest against the political harassment and intimidation being directed at Libros Revolución bookstore in Los Angeles.
A bilingual, mostly Spanish-language bookstore near Los Angeles’ garment center and Latino shopping district, Libros Revolución sells progressive and revolutionary literature to a clientele which includes many immigrants from Latin America.
Since it opened over a year and a half ago, the store has been the target of a campaign of harassment, threats, and attacks. Uniformed and plainclothes police, right-wing religious fundamentalists with bullhorns, and callers identifying themselves as members of “death squads” appear to be working in concert to intimidate people associated with the store.
Those who remember the government’s COINTELPRO tactics directed against “anti-establishment” groups in the ’60s will recognize the signs as all too familiar: staffpeople’s cars broken into with political materials taken but wallets left untouched; customers followed from the store and warned to stay away; staffpeople subjected to surveillance and threats at their homes; telephoned death threats to the store; visits from uniformed police with no apparent purpose (with one officer brandishing his nightstick, unsnapping his holster and threatening to “f— up” a Latino staffperson).
Many of the people who shop at Libros Revolución are familiar with such harassment and repression—they’ve faced it in even heavier doses in their native countries and they’ve faced it in the immigration raids and “ENGLISH ONLY” laws of this country. And now they face another form of harassment which ostensibly doesn’t exist in this country: their access to political views and political literature is being threatened by underhanded methods such as those described above, which are clearly designed to force an avowedly revolutionary bookstore out of business.
We support Libros Revolución’s right to promote and sell revolutionary literature. And we support the right of its customers to that literature. We oppose this campaign of intimidation and call on others to do so as well. We oppose any attempt to foment a book-burning (or bookstore-burning) atmosphere.
Those of you saying, “It could never happen here”—take heed!
June 29, 1989