BY GARRETT FELBER AND STEPHEN WARD
In November 1974, the radical priest Daniel Berrigan sent a request to the philanthropists Carol and W. H. “Ping” Ferry for funding to support the political prisoner Martin Sostre.1 The Ferrys regularly supported grassroots movements and political activists, including George Jackson and Angela Davis. Berrigan, who himself had only recently been released from prison, was part of a growing effort to free Sostre from a forty-one-year sentence. Sostre was a revolutionary anarchist and accomplished jailhouse lawyer. In 1965, he opened a revolutionary bookstore in Buffalo, New York that became an important site during the summer rebellion of 1967. Two weeks later, he was framed for allegedly selling a fifteen-dollar bag of heroin to a police informant. Over the next eight years in prison, Sostre continued to appeal his case while winning landmark legal victories over political censorship, solitary confinement, and the rights of prisoners to due process. He also organized chapters of the Black Panther Party and prisoners’ unions, established radical study groups and lending libraries, and published several revolutionary newspapers.