UMass urged to reschedule convicted bomber Raymond Luc Levasseur's lecture
By Diane Lederman
November 09, 2009
AMHERST Strong opposition to a talk by a convicted bomber led the
University of Massachusetts Libraries last week to cancel his
appearance, but now other groups are asking that the decision be reversed.
Raymond Luc Levasseur, a former leader of the United Freedom Front
convicted in 1986 for his involvement in a series of bombings, was
scheduled to speak Thursday night at UMass as part of the fifth
annual Colloquium on Social Change. While recognizing the talk would
be controversial, Robert S. Cox, head of the libraries' special
collections and university archives, said previously that bringing
the man also acquitted of a sedition charge after a 10-month trial in
Springfield in 1989 would provide an opportunity for people to
understand what leads a revolutionary to violence.
But the talk was canceled because "it is now clear that given the
strong reaction generated by this event, we can no longer achieve the
kind of meaningful exchange intended," Cox said in a statement.
Levasseur was released in 2004 after serving 20 years in prison. He
was part of the United Freedom Front, a group that was charged with
eight Boston-area bombings between 1976 and 1979, the murder of a New
Jersey state trooper, the attempted murder of a Massachusetts state
trooper, several other assaults on law enforcement officers and
several armed bank robberies. Levasseur was not at the scene of the
trooper's shooting and was never charged in that case.
Many police groups protested Levasseur's appearance at UMass. State
Rep. Christopher J. Donelan, D-Orange, was among those who lobbied
the university to cancel Levasseur's appearance. "Personally, I was
outraged the university would invite a terrorist to speak at the
campus," Donelan said.
But Daniel S. Chard, a UMass graduate student who was helping to
organize Levasseur's appearance, in an e-mail reported that Gov.
Deval L. Patrick and UMass Chancellor Robert C. Holub have been asked
to reverse the decision.
Also, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Coalition
Against Censorship, the American Association of University Professors
and historian Howard Zinn are supporting the right for the event to
be held. A Facebook page, "Let Ray Have His Say," has been set up
urging the same.
Outrage over terror speaker
Cops, widow blast governor on response
By Michele McPhee
Friday, November 6, 2009
Gov. Deval Patrick pulled the plug on a planned UMass speech by a
convicted terrorist yesterday after a plea delivered by the Herald
from the outraged widow of a gunned-down state trooper - angering
cops who protested the event for weeks.
"It was absolutely disgusting that we had to go through what we had
to go through to get this canceled," said widow Donna Lamonaco.
"Police groups have been complaining for weeks. We organized a protest.
"We got nothing until the newspaper calls the governor?" she said.
"It's a disgrace."
Lamonaco's husband, Phil, a New Jersey state trooper, was shot dead
by members of the United Freedom Front in 1981.
The radical group, also cited for the attempted assassination of two
Massachusetts troopers and a rash of bombings and robberies, was led
by Raymond Luc Levasseur.
Levasseur - now living under federal parole in a halfway house in
Maine and still hailed by followers as a political prisoner - was set
to speak at a "Colloquium on Social Change" at the University of
Massachusetts at Amherst next Thursday.
"They were treating a terrorist as a hero. The governor was going to
let him educate college students at a public school, a guy who
represents an organization that killed my husband, that tried to
execute two troopers in Massachusetts," said Lamonaco, mother of three.
"The United Freedom Front stood for violence and anarchy against the
United States. The governor seemed like he wanted to celebrate that?"
After the Herald sought comment from Patrick on the widow's plea
yesterday, UMass canceled the speech and the governor issued a
statement applauding the decision as "the right thing to do out of
respect to the families of the victims of these acts and our law
Tom Nee, president of the National Association of Police and the
Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, said Patrick bowed only after
the threat of public embarrassment from a Herald story.
"The governor should be ashamed," Nee said. "Once again, there was an
utter disregard shown for law enforcement."
A spokesman for the governor said Patrick's office first contacted
UMass about the speech Wednesday, then followed up with a call
yesterday. The spokesman said the governor was not aware of the
widow's plea until the Herald call - and was never contacted by a
police union about the controversy.
Police union officials said Patrick ignored their requests that the
convicted terrorist not be allowed into Massachusetts.
"It's hugely offensive that a state school that receives tax dollars
would invite Lavasseur," said Richard R. Brown, president of the
State Police Association of Massachusetts. "This guy committed
atrocities against our country and the talk was only canceled under pressure."
The United Freedom Front was responsible for roughly 20 bombings,
including one at the Suffolk County Courthouse in Boston, and for the
attempted murder of two Massachusetts State Troopers, Mike Crosby and
Paul Landry, in a blazing North Attleboro gun battle in 1982.
Levasseur was released from prison in 2004 after serving 18 years of
a 45-year sentence on bombing and conspiracy charges.
UMass Libraries, which developed the forum, said, "It is now clear
that given the strong reaction . . . we can no longer achieve the
kind of meaningful exchange intended."
Radical has long history of violence
By Jessica Van Sack
Friday, November 6, 2009
Convicted terrorist Raymond Luc Levasseur was a leader of the United
Freedom Front, a violent anti-government group linked to roughly 20
bombings, including one at the Suffolk County Courthouse on April 2,
1976, that injured 22 people.
Once listed among the FBI's Most Wanted, Levasseur grew up in
Sanford, Maine, and joined the Army at age 19, serving in Vietnam,
where he reportedly became radicalized.
He received an honorable discharge and in the 1970s began associating
with avowed revolutionary Thomas Manning, who was convicted of
killing highly decorated New Jersey state trooper Philip Lamonaco in
a 1981 shootout.
Levasseur jumped bail on a firearms charge in 1975 and was on the run
for the next nine years. He, Manning and their wives would move
around committing bombings and robberies in the name of their UFF
movement. They blamed their violence on opposition to U.S. foreign
policy and South African apartheid.
In March 1986, Levasseur, then 39, was convicted of conspiracy in
connection with two May 1983 bombings of military facilities in New York.
Levasseur also was convicted of bombing a General Electric building
in Melville, N.Y., in 1984 and of placing a bomb that failed to
explode at the Honeywell Corp. in Queens in December 1983. He was
sentenced to 45 years in jail but paroled after 18.
NYC's Most Prolific Bomber to Speak at UMass
Raymond Luc Levasseur to speak Nov 12
By BRIAN THOMPSON
Oct 31, 2009
His United Freedom Front set off more bombs in New York, its suburbs
and all the way up to Boston than any other terrorists. And now the
ringleader, Raymond Luc Levasseur, is the headline guest at a
University of Massachusetts symposium on social change November 12 at
the main campus in Amherst.
"This is just a rip-off of the taxpayers," says David Jones,
President of the union representing New Jersey State Troopers.
Jones is expecially upset because a co-founder of the UFF, Thomas
anning, shot and killed a buddy of Jones, Trooper Philip Lamonaco ack
in 1981. That was during the heyday of the radical group, which for
early a decade starting in 1975 was responsible for more than 20
ombings from New York to New England, as well as 9 bank robberies.
Lavasseur was not present at the traffic stop on Rt 80 in western New
Jersey when Lamonaco was gunned down, but the Trooper's widow, Donna,
says she broke down "in tears" when she found out the other day that
Levasseur was invited to speak.
He was convicted in several of the bombings and robberies, but was
released on parole back in 2004.
"As long as he is out speaking he is activating that cause, and that
cause could in fact (end with) the death of another police officer,"
says Mrs. Lamonaco, the mother of 3 children.
A UMass spokesman defended the appearance of the convicted bomber.
"The University does not condone, it condemns the activities (of the
UFF)," says Ed Blaguszewski. But he added that in today's world of
international terrorism, the upcoming appearance helps "to understand
(terrorism) so you can address it."
Union President Jones disagrees. He calls the individuals on campus
who are involved, "academic infadels" and added, "You don't need to
be a great mind to understand that somebody who sets bombs and
assassinates New Jersey State Troopers ... is just a sick mind."
Jones says he plans to take a contingent of troopers up to Amherst to
protest on the night of the symposium, and Donna Lamonaco plans to be
there as well.
Partial List of United Freedom Front Bombings
-2/27/79 Eastchester, NY Mobil Oil Corp. Offices
-12/16/82 Elmont, NY South African Airways Offices
-12/16/82 Harrison NY IBM Offices
-5/12/83 Uniondale, NY Roosevelt Army Reserve Center
-8/21/83 Queens NY Naval Reserve Center
-12/13/83 The Bronx J. Muller Army Reserve Center
-12/13/83 East Meadow, NY Navy Recruiting Office
-12/14/83 Queens Honeywell Offices
-1/29/84 Queens Motorola Offices
-3/19/84 Harrison, NY IBM Offices
-9/26/85 Tarrytown, NY Union Carbide Offices
UMass rescinds invitation to former radical
November 5, 2009
By Abbie Ruzicka, Globe Correspondent
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst today canceled an upcoming
talk by Ray Luc Levasseur, a man once listed as one of the FBI's most
wanted criminals and the former leader of the radical revolutionary
group United Freedom Front, university spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said.
Representatives from Governor Deval Patrick's office contacted the
university to voice their disapproval upon learning of the event,
which was scheduled to be held on Thursday according to a Patrick
"The governor supports the decision of UMass officials to cancel the
appearance," Patrick spokesman Kyle Sullivan said in a prepared
statement. "It was the right thing to do out of respect to the
families of the victims of these acts and our law enforcement community."
Levasseur was released from federal prison in Atlanta in 2004 after
serving 18 years for his involvement in the radical group United
Freedom Front, which plotted a series of terrorist bombings and bank
robberies along the East Coast between 1976 and 1984.
In 1989, after the longest criminal trial in Massachusetts history,
Levasseur avoided additional jail time when he was acquitted by a
federal jury of attempting to overthrow the government by force, on
charges of sedition and racketeering.
Levasseur was invited to the university on the 20th anniversary of
his 1989 acquittal to speak at a forum discussing response to social
and political unrest during the 1960s, Blaguszewski said.
Robert Cox, head of the Special Collections and University Archives
at UMass-Amherst, said continuing with the talk would have been
"The UMass Libraries developed this forum as an opportunity to focus
on terrorism, one of the most difficult social issues confronting the
country," Cox said. "However, it is now clear that given the strong
reaction generated by this event, we can no longer achieve the kind
of meaningful exchange intended."
NYC's Most Prolific Bomber Disinvited From UMass
By BRIAN THOMPSON
Nov 5, 2009
Raymond Luc Levasseur, whose United Freedom Front was responsible for
more bombings in New York than any other terrorist organization, has
been disinvited from speaking at the University of Massachusetts next week.
"It would be counterproductive," said UMass Spokesman Ed
laguszewski, admitting the decision to drop the Vietnam-era terrorist
came because of public reaction to his invitation.
New Jersey and Massachusetts State Troopers were outraged when they
found out last week that Levasseur would speak on a public university campus.
So was Donna Lamonaco, whose husband Philip, a New Jersey State
Trooper, was gunned down by Levassuer's colleague Thomas Manning in 1981.
Manning is in prison for that crime.
Levasseur, who was not at the scene of the shooting on Rt. 80 near
the Delaware River, was later convicted for several of the 20-plus
bombings and nine bank robberies that the FBI attributed to his
United Freedom Front.
Five years ago, he was released on parole.
"It is now clear that given the strong reaction generated by this
event, we can no longer achieve the kind of meaningful exchange
intended," said Robert Cox, head of Special Collections and
University Archives in a statement on the UMass Web site.
"Clearly people were upset and we didn't understand why," Spokesman
Blaguszewski told News 4 New York about the initial decision to stick
with Levasseur's featured role.
But he said the outcry led to the decision late Friday afternoon to
cancel Levasseur's appearance.
State Police from both New Jersey and Massachusetts were planning on
protesting the Nov. 12 appearance, as was Lanonaco's widow, Donna.
Levasseur would have been paid a "small stipend," according to Blaguszewski.