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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

On leaving solitary confinement after 26 years, I salute all the advocates of progressive positive change

Mar 1, 2015

Today, Jan. 23, 2015, I appeared before the Director’s Review Board and I was granted release from PBSP SHU (Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit) after 26 years in solitary confinement. I’m to be transferred to Salinas Valley State Prison, where I’ll be able to have human contact and new experiences and hopefully be able to re-meet my family.

To Hunters Point

Feb 28, 2015

This is a bigger giant that we all must come together and fight. There’s too many young men warring with each other and not with the real enemy. The true enemy is the one who’s telling your mothers, grandmothers, fathers, baby mothers, kids, friends to pack up their things and move, while the police ride around victimize us because of our skin colors. They even go as far as killing us just because of someone videoing them doing their job in a vicious way.

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
Hundreds of South Carolina prisoners sent to solitary confinement over Facebook
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

News & Views

With general strikes and marches, Haitians demand government by the people

Mar 1, 2015
Haiti has been on the march for months. These politically astute protesters make their purpose clear. The face of the person holding the sign has been blurred to protect his identity.

The people of Haiti held a two-day general strike on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 9 and 10, as part of ongoing popular mobilizations throughout the country. They also successfully struck the week before on Feb. 2. The Martelly government responded with brutal repression in various communities such as in Montrouis, where massive use of tear gas killed two children and police gunfire wounded a number of community residents.

Joe Debro on racism in construction, Part 10

Feb 28, 2015
After California passed from Mexican to U.S. control, American settlers disparaged Mexican landowners by likening them to Blacks. Mexicans were descended from the Spanish, they reasoned, and the Spanish have Moorish blood, so they must be akin to Hottentots, whose wildly distorted cartoon images struck terror in whites. – Cartoon: George Cruikshank, published in about 1820

During this same period, another major change was taking place. The Southern gold mines were running out, and quartz mining filled the vacuum. Wages by the summer of 1851 were $20 and $30 per week including board; now a new type of miner was needed, one who would work for wages. Yankees in California preferred to remain independent in the hopes of becoming owners of rich mines rather than working for others.

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
Centuries of rage: The murder of Oscar Grant III
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?

Culture Currents

Upcoming Events

 » Full event list and descriptions
RESISTANCE GROWS IN HAITI 5 Years After the Earthquake, 11 Years After the Coup Mar 1 3:00 PM Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland Join Haiti Action Committee on the 11th anniversary of the more>> ---------------

‘Hard Times/Good Times’: an interview wit’ rapper T-Rydah

Feb 28, 2015
T-Rydah, cropped

T-Rydah, one third of the Black Panther Fugitives rap group, is gearing up to release a solo album, produced solely by Jamil, another member of the group, this spring called “Hard Times/Good Times.” Today you can find T-Rydah, Jamil and their Red Camera shooting videos, recording vocals or listening to some of Jamil’s beats. Check out T-Rydah speaking for himself.

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
‘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’
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