Anarchist Federation

Organise! magazine, no.72, Summer 2009, p.26


Harold H Thompson

U.S. anarchist Harold H. Thompson has died (11/11/2008) in a Tennessee prison where he was serving life without parole at the age of 66. Harold accepted that he would never be free, and won the help of well-wishers and supporters worldwide, including many members of the AF. Harold did his best to lead a pro-active, anarchist-driven existence from within the confinement of steel and concrete walls, never an easy task given the age-old class enemy of authority, petty vindictive bureaucracy and perhaps worst of all, hostile sectarian gangs who prey on anyone not subscribed to their sick mindset. Harold could not stand prejudice or bullying, calling the perpetrators 'class clowns' as he fought daily running battles with the racist thugs, often at the cost of putting his own life in jeopardy. Himself subjected to the precariousness of survival only a couple of years ago, he was beaten to within an inch of his life by a White Aryan Supremacist gang.

Hospitalisation followed, but the callousness of the U. S. judicial system meant that he never properly recovered from this and previous assaults. This last occasion there was incontrovertible evidence of collusion between the attackers and prison personnel, which Harold was pursuing through the courts at the time of his death.

None of the violence sustained, and there was much, deterred Harold from his work to guide the indigent, the illiterate, the downtrodden, any ethnicity or maligned minority. That was what the class traitors couldn't figure out about Harold: his undiminished willingness to come to the aid of anyone who wasn't a racist, rapist or child molester. It bugged them and Harold knew he must watch his back every single day. To his great credit, he bowed the knee to none of them. Harold witnessed first-hand the brutalities of the American state, not only in the gulags ( as he labelled U.S. incarceration facilities) but also serving in Vietnam where he was wounded under fire. It was a war that disillusioned many of the combatants including Harold who went on to adopt the ethics of anarchism from which he would never thereafter deviate.

How come he ended up sentenced to a prospect without parole? Harold made no secret that he had terminated the life of the man who had murdered his partner, the mother of his son. This action drew a life sentence, ostensibly with distant chance of release far into the future. He blew this all away in an attempted armed escape, earning himself an additional few score years.

Harold didn't always receive the support he deserved. Disappointingly, a negative response came from two prickly U.S. Anarchist Black Cross groups who refused aid when approached. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but typically he just got on with business. Britainís Anarchist Communist Federation (now the Anarchist Federation) were asked to carry out an independent investigation and duly came to the conclusion that the insinuations bore no substance. Preceding this the group Friends of Harold Thompson (FOHHT) had been reformed in the UK, where in particular, it must be said, with the ready help of many readers of this magazine a supporting network was put in place to enable Harold to mount his challenges to the U.S. legal system, one major issue being the outright denial to inmates of anarchist literature. It proved a successful outcome for prisoners across the USA.

Harold wrote a number of libertarian pamphlets, took up painting and engaged in protracted correspondence with comrades near and far, old and young, of which company this writer is one. A privilege held dear for almost 12 years. Harold will quite genuinely be missed by all whose lives he touched. He was a courageous, talented, inspirational and committed anarchist. To readers of Organise the FOHHT would like to say 'Thank You', each and everyone, for their unflagging encouragement down the years. Harold truly did appreciate it, just as he warmed to the knowledge that there were 'so many out there' determined to take the struggle to the enemy full on. 

As Harold used to sign off his letters, "They'll never get us all!". 

Rest easy, cherished comrade.
Frankie Dee