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Zolo Agona Azania is FREE – and he needs our help

March 1, 2017

Zolo Agona Azania walks free Feb. 6 after 35 years in Indiana prisons, 27 on death row. – Photo: Democracy Now!

Zolo Agona Azania is a Black revolutionary who has spent 35 years – most of his adult life – in prison, and much of it on death row. In 1981, at the age of 21, he was convicted of murdering a police officer during a bank robbery gone bad. Unlike his two co-defendants, Zolo was arrested unarmed, walking down the street miles from the scene of the robbery, and has always maintained his total innocence of any involvement in the crime.

At his trial, he was an outspoken member of the Republic of New Afrika. An all-white jury sentenced him to death, but the state Supreme Court twice overturned his death sentence.

Zolo Agona Azania is a Black revolutionary who has spent 35 years – most of his adult life – in prison, and much of it on death row.

He was later given a 74-year sentence, and was released early last week after earning credit for good behavior. Zolo turned 61 in December 2016.

“I got out of prison,” Zolo exclaimed. “I was released February the 6th, which was a Monday. And my whole life changed! The whole world. The earth even smelled different.

“I want to thank everyone who supported me over the years, everyone who has supported me and offered me their assistance and their sympathies and condolences, and for the people that I’ve lost and people who didn’t make it. I’ve seen a lot of people get executed.”

“I got out of prison,” Zolo exclaimed. “I was released February the 6th, which was a Monday. And my whole life changed!”

People who are wrongfully convicted and released from prison in Indiana are left almost entirely on their own, with no help from the government that placed them behind bars. Compared with the rest of the nation, experts say Indiana has been sluggish in implementing reforms that would assist innocent people who leave prison after years of incarceration.

Just because the system exonerates someone does not “equate to money in their pockets,” said Fran Watson, law professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. Some choose to file wrongful conviction lawsuits and are awarded settlements, but only after lengthy civil litigation.

People who are wrongfully convicted and released from prison in Indiana are left almost entirely on their own, with no help from the government that placed them behind bars.

Zolo Azania’s supporters have set up a GoFundMe page to help the 62-year-old “rebuild his life” as he looks for employment and continues his activism. Meanwhile, he exited prison practically penniless, has little savings and faces enormous financial challenges.

He has been paid $.35 an hour during most of the time he has worked inside Indiana’s prisons. Now that he’s free, he needs to pay for housing, food, clothing, transportation, furniture, a cell phone, utilities and the many other expenses we all encounter.

Zolo is alive today due to his own expertise as a jailhouse lawyer and the work of his supporters and a strong legal team. He has done legal work on his own behalf and for other inmates. He has acquired a paralegal certificate and has gained an associate degree by completing two years of college work.

Zolo is a prolific writer and an accomplished artist. His writings and art reflect his deep commitment to the Black freedom struggle and a just world for all people. His website, ZoloAzania.org, contains his writings and art, much of it for sale.

In spite of his difficult circumstances, Zolo is a positive person with a quick smile and a vibrant laugh. Let’s answer his positivity with support.

Zolo is a prolific writer and an accomplished artist. His website, ZoloAzania.org, contains his writings and art, much of it for sale.

While he seeks employment, let’s ease Zolo’s path and make sure he does not confront his financial challenges – and all the challenges he will face – alone. Please donate generously. All funds will go directly to Zolo.

This story was compiled from reports by Denver ABC, New York City Jericho Movement, Chicago Committee to Free Black Political Prisoners, Democracy Now!, GoFundMe and Zolo’s own site, ZoloAzania.org.

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