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The Prison Letters of Martin Sostre: Documents of Resistance

BY DIANE HOPE AND WARREN SCHAICH


On July 14, 1967, Martin Sostre, owner of an Afro-Asian bookstore in Buffalo's Black ghetto, was arrested and charged with inciting to riot, arson, and possession and sale of narcotics. Unable to raise $50,000 in bail (later reduced to $25,000), Sostre remained locked in the County Jail until his trial. On March 7, 1968, eight months later, the arson and riot charges had been dropped; he was convicted by an all-white jury for selling $15 worth of heroin and sentenced to prison for 31 to 41 years. One hour later he was in prison, where he remained until Governor Hugh Carey of New York State granted clemency to Sostre on Christmas Eve, 1975.


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