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This is California Men’s Colony, built in 1954; it houses over 4,000 prisoners. According to Capital Engineering Consultants and Soltek Pacific Construction, they completed a new 50-bed mental health crisis facility there in 2012.

Nurse Paul Spector blows the whistle on torture in a California prison

For decades, prisoners in California have protested the torturous conditions they are subjected to. Now a nurse has come forward who worked in a California prison and can speak to personally witnessing some of these horrors perpetrated by some of his colleagues at the California Men’s Colony State Prison in San Luis Obispo. Paul Spector was fired from his job for speaking out. Check him out in his own words …

Behind Enemy Lines

My safari from Pelikkkan Bay

Feb 27, 2015
As the prisoners leave Pelican Bay State Prison, they probably catch a glimpse of the town it lies in, Crescent City. Not ugly and barren like the prison, it was a pretty little fishing and logging town before it became a prison town. This view of the town is from the picturesque lighthouse just offshore.

On Jan. 29, 2015, my travels began with a wakeup call at 2:30 a.m. I was told by the first watch unit officer to be ready in 30 minutes. Myself and a total of 17 prisoners were all rounded up like chattel slaves and placed in the SHU’s C-Facility visiting room holding cells ‘til we boarded the bus at 6 a.m. In hitting the highway, my sensibilities immediately went through the whirlwind cycle of “shock and awe” via the vivid reminder of what freedom used to entail.

Losing lives while gaining profit: 4 deaths in 2 months is business as usual for CCA prison

Feb 26, 2015
“Fight Mass Containment” – Art: Roger “Rab” Moore, G-02296, HDSP Z-168, P.O. Box 3030, Susanville CA 96127.

In the last two months – from Dec. 27 to Feb. 10, 2015 – four prisoners have died here at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility, a private prison California uses to relieve its prison overcrowding; it is owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, CCA. These lives were lost due to indifference, unprofessionalism and lack of adequate training.

Amplify the voices these prisons try to silence: Fight censorship from California to Pennsylvania

Feb 24, 2015
“Know Your Rights” – Art: Criss Garcia, J-93559, PBSP SHU C1-112, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532

Departments of corrections and state legislatures are putting into place chilling bans on free speech and expression by prisoners, formerly incarcerated persons, family members, friends, journalists, advocates and activists. Pack the courtroom for the hearing on Abu-Jamal v. Kane, challenging Prisoner Gag Law SB 508, on Thursday, Feb. 26, 10 a.m., in U.S. Courthouse, 228 Walnut St., Courtroom 2, Harrisburg, Penn.

The value of Black life in America, Part 1

Feb 17, 2015
Dred Scott is buried about a mile down the same road from where Mike Brown was murdered.

The same mindset that allows a police officer to summarily execute an innocent, unarmed Black person in the street is the same mindset that allows an officer to plant evidence and lie on the witness stand. It allows a judge to appoint a knowingly incompetent defense attorney, and it allows a prosecutor to withhold evidence, use false evidence, to overcharge and to discriminate with impunity.

Hundreds of South Carolina prisoners sent to solitary confinement over Facebook

Feb 15, 2015
South Carolina prisoner Islam Dunn's Facebook page since removed by AP, cropped

In the South Carolina prison system, accessing Facebook is an offense on par with murder, rape, rioting, escape and hostage-taking. Back in 2012, the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) made “Creating and/or Assisting With a Social Networking Site” a Level 1 offense, a category reserved for the most violent violations of prison conduct policies. It’s one of the most common Level 1 offense charges brought against inmates.

Judge approves expanding class action suit against solitary confinement to include prisoners transferred out of Pelican Bay
The Black Guerrilla Family and human freedom
Mission Statement of the Free Speech Society
Prisons, gangs, witchhunts and white supremacy
What would compel a man to try to cut his own face off?
If Black lives matter – A message to the youth from behind enemy lines
Prisoner Human Rights Movement: Agreement to End Hostilities has changed the face of race relations without any help from CDCr
Pattern of practice: Centuries of racist oppression culminating in mass incarceration
The way forward to end solitary confinement torture: Where’s the army?
The voice of a slave who is not afraid to speak out against Alabama’s wickedness and corruption
Humanity indicted for our silence in the face of torture
Phil Africa of MOVE dies under suspicious circumstances in Pennsylvania prison
Prison closings in Virginia mean worse conditions for prisoners
Federal Pell Grant eligibility for people in county jails or juvenile hall
Support SB188: Give Delaware prisoners a shot at freedom

News & Views

Video: SFPD officer strikes, pepper sprays homeless man

Feb 26, 2015

On Feb. 26, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi released video showing a San Francisco police officer striking a homeless man repeatedly with a baton and pepper spraying him after the incapacitated man objected to being pushed off a Muni bus. The video is the second to surface this year in which an SFPD officer appears to dramatically escalate his use of force after overreacting to a minor conflict. In January, a private citizen released footage of an officer trying to dump a paralyzed man from his wheelchair.

Graduate students host teach-in to address institutionalized racism at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare

Feb 26, 2015
The courageous students hung this banner outside Haviland Hall.

A contingent of 60 graduate students led a teach-in and mediation at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare on Tuesday, Feb. 24, in response to racist comments made by a tenured professor. Present were Dean Jeffery Edleson and Professor Steven Segal. The action was organized in support of 25 graduate students enrolled in Segal’s Mental Health Policy course, which must be completed this semester by all students in the Community Mental Health concentration.

Rwanda: Free Victoire! international webcast

Feb 26, 2015

Over the weekend the organization Friends of Victoire hosted an international webcast to strategize about how to free Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Ingabire has become an icon of freedom, democracy and peace since returning to Rwanda in 2010 to attempt to stand for the presidency against incumbent Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Congresswoman Waters calls for HUD to fulfill its mission, meet nation’s housing needs

Feb 25, 2015
Ranking Member Maxine Waters hosts a roundtable discussion with Committee Democrats and HUD Secretary Castro on Feb. 4.

Washington, D.C. – Following an announcement made Feb. 11 by Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling that the committee will embark upon “an extensive review and thorough examination of the successes and failures” of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ranking Member Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., issued this statement.

Centuries of rage: The murder of Oscar Grant III

Feb 25, 2015
The Oscar Grant rebellions were Black and young, and protesters knew and loudly proclaimed exactly why they risked arrest or worse in their quest for justice. – Photo: Malaika Kambon

Six years ago, on Jan. 1, 2009, Oscar Grant III, 22, was shot and later died of bullet wounds received when Johannes Mehserle, then a BART police officer, fired his gun at point blank range into Grant’s back – after Grant and his friends had been taunted with racial epithets and assaulted by Mehserle and other BART officers on the scene, while Mehserle’s partner, Tony Pirone, held Grant down with both hands and a knee on his head and neck.

At 91, President Mugabe leads Zimbabwe, SADC and African Union – with vigor
Black Lives Matter activists shut down Emeryville Home Depot for 5 hours, demand answers in police murder of Yuvette Henderson
Rwanda: Deplorable prison conditions for Victoire Ingabire
Haitian man lynched in Dominican Republic park
Loretta Lynch’s Rwanda ‘credential’
Does Richmond, California, have a progressive majority?
Repression and a green light for murder: The government ‘shout out to the Africans out there’!
Richmond residents to Chevron: Get your dirty money out of politics
Grand Jury indicts Brooklyn police officer Peter Liang in the shooting death of Akai Gurley
On West Coast, bosses threaten lockout of longshore workers
A call for truth and justice in the African Great Lakes Region
West Oakland unites to keep Black families in their homes!
Repealing the lifetime ban on CalFresh and CalWORKs for people with drug felony convictions – Where do we go from here?
From Selma to San Francisco, BlackLivesMatter from 1963 to 2015
Shipyard workers demand environmental justice

Culture Currents

Upcoming Events

 » Full event list and descriptions
SF Press Conference And Rally: Defend OSHA Whistleblowers-Rehire Federal Attorney Darrell Whitman Feb 27 4:00 PM 7th And Mission St., San Francisco OSHA Federal Attorney Darrell Whitman is one of only 3 more>>
Historic Redstone Building celebrating 100 years of social and economic justice organizing Feb 27 6:00 PM The Redstone Labor Temple, AKA the Redstone Building, 2940 16th St., at Capp, Mission District, San Francisco Enjoy an evening of music by the Rockin’ Solidarity Labor more>>
Collaborating across the aisles: Continuing the civil rights movement with #Blacklivesmatter Feb 27 6:00 PM Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), 685 Mission St., San Francisco A new generation is igniting efforts to change the ways more>>
Exclusive Red Carpet Event: Black History Month Screening of 'Da Cotton Pickas,' the story of a sharecropper, a short film by Robert 'Fleetwood' Bowden Feb 27 7:00 PM South East Campus City College of San Francisco, 1800 Oakdale Ave., San Francisco THIS IS A FREE EVENT FOR THE PUBLIC SO GET more>>
Mindful Drumming Feb 27 7:30 PM Attitudinal Healing, 3278 West St., Oakland Mindful Drumming is an ancient indigenous technology that uses the more>>

Swanson Youth Foundation hosts 1st scholarship gala

Feb 27, 2015

The Sandré R. Swanson Youth Foundation held its First Annual Black and White 2015 Scholarship Gala Saturday, Feb. 21. The event celebrated Swanson’s 50 years of community service and raised funds for scholarships to benefit underserved youth. Event highlights included a jazz reception and silent auction followed by a dinner and awards presentation with live performances from Bay Area recording artist Lenny Williams.

The Jacka remembered: an interview wit’ his producer, Rob Lo

Feb 25, 2015
'the Jacka Mob Figaz' cover

On Feb. 2, 2015, underground Bay Area rap king the Jacka was murdered on 94th and MacArthur in East Oakland, in the prime of his career. At 37 years old, Jack had been rhyming for over 20 years. In rememberance of my potna, my comrade, and my brotha, I wanted to interview producer Rob Lo, the Mob Figaz’ and the Jacka’s main producer, about the man and his music behind the glamour and glitz. Check Rob Lo out in his own words.

David Johnson: Modern day griot

Feb 23, 2015
“We Demand” was taken at the Aug. 28, 1963, March on Washington – Photo: David Johnson

Now 88, Mr. Johnson is not only a Bay Area resident, living in Marin County, and a documentarian of six decades of Afrikan life, he is a very important classic photojournalist whose 30-piece collection documenting the San Francisco Fillmore District during the 1940s to 1960s was exhibited at the Harvey Milk Photography Center in San Francisco in October 2014. San Francisco’s vibrant Afrikan Fillmore community became his signature tableau.

Jambalaya in my soul: A tribute to Pat Parker

Feb 22, 2015
Singer-musician-songwriter Blackberri performs at the Jan. 25 tribute to Pat Parker. All the photos were taken at that event. – Photo: Malaika Kambon

Annually, one of the greatest human beings on the planet, Avotcja Jiltonilro, organizes and/or participates in a tribute to the legendary warrior poet, Pat Parker. Pat Parker confronted the world in the precarious position of being non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual in a racist, misogynist, homophobic, imperial oxymoronically named melting pot of culture. And she blew the lid off the mess with truth.

‘The Diary of Malcolm X’: Champion of Pan-African liberation in his own words

Feb 21, 2015
Malcolm X, El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, visited Queens Court in 1964. – Photo: Herman Hiller, World Telegram

To mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of our “Black shining prince,” as Ossie Davis described Malcolm X in his eulogy, we highlight the 2013 book, “The Diary of Malcolm X,” by award-winning journalist Herb Boyd and Malcolm’s daughter, human rights activist and author Ilyasah Shabazz. The diary entries were compiled over two trips Malcolm made to Africa and the Middle East in 1964. He did not miss a single day. “It’s really beautiful that we get to see Malcolm in his own voice – without scholars, historians or observers saying what he was thinking or what he was doing or what he meant,” observed Ilyasah. “We get to read his personal diary.”

‘The Book of Negroes’: Role of British imperialism in the Atlantic slave trade highlighted in TV series opening Feb. 16
Daguerreotypist Augustus Washington and John Brown’s body
Legendary ‘Queen of Fillmore’ Leola King leaves proud legacy of struggle against Redevelopment
P.H. Polk, one of ‘10 essential African-American photographers’
Love and Fit Hop: an interview wit’ of dead prez
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