Michigan Activist John Sinclair Dies at 82

by Christina Clark

Iconic Detroit writer and activist John Sinclair died on Tuesday morning at the age of 82 after spending two weeks at DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital for declining health. His cause of death was congestive heart failure, his publicist told the Detroit News. 

An advocate for his art, Sinclair served as the manager for MC5, a rock band from Lincoln Park, between 1966 and 1969, and was well-known for his support of the Civil Rights movement, having co-founded the anti-racist White Panther Party, which worked alongside the Black Panther Party, as well as his work to legalize marijuana in Michigan.

In 1969, he was arrested for possession of two joints and sentenced to 10 years in prison. A protest in support of Sinclair known as the “Freedom Rally” was held in Ann Arbor to help secure his release, after which he appealed his case until the law used to incarcerate him was found unconstitutional — helping to pave the way for the eventual legalization of marijuana in 2018. 

AB: Ten years for possession is rather excessive. Then too, 1968 was particularly stringent in how they approached certain issues.

Hour Detroit Magazine