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We, the people, have to realize that our current contradictions are not just about economics, but instead are about being able to speak truth to the powers that be. Case in point, if we hadn’t been able to express in great detail what we prisoners were suffering from while being held in solitary confinement and have our letters published in the Bay View, then our voice would have never been heard. But because the Bay View was there for us, the world came to our defense.
The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco has ruled in a 3-0 decision that alleged members and associates of the New Afrikan revolutionary leftist organization titled the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) and all New Afrikan prisoners have a First Amendment right to expression of their United States constitutional rights to speak to the New Afrikan nationalist revolutionary man ideology. These are clearly our political beliefs.
Two letters follow: The first, by Mutope Duguma, describes the current Pelican Bay State Prison Short Corridor situation. The second, by Pelican Bay inmate and hunger strike leader George Franco, is reposted here and now so readers can compare prison officials’ promises with the situation described by Mutope Duguma a year later.
The struggle is long and arduous, and sometimes we do etch out significant victories, as in the case of our Brotha Mutope Duguma in In re Crawford, a significant step in reaffirming that prisoners are entitled to a measure of First Amendment protection that cannot be ignored simply because the state dislikes the spiel.
Today, prisoners at Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit (SHU) and Calipatria’s Administrative Segregation Unit (Ad-Seg or ASU) resume their hunger strike. Referring to the first round of the hunger strike, Mutope Duguma (s/n James Crawford), a strike representative in Pelican Bay’s SHU, writes, “This is far from over and once again, hopefully for the last time, we will be risking our lives via a peaceful hunger strike on Sept. 26, 2011, to force positive changes. We continue to struggle to be treated like decent human beings.”
In a letter to the Bay View, SHU prisoner Mutope Duguma (s/n James D. Crawford), who wrote “The Call,” published in the Bay View online and in print in June, sheds light on the background leading to the hunger strike at Pelican Bay State Penitentiary that is set to begin July 1.
The Poor People’s Campaign is all about the oppressed citizens of this nation – making the connection between the working proletariat and the lumpen proletariat. This will close the gap between the working poor and the non-working poor, who share common interests, such as affordable housing, affordable health care, adequate educational institutions, adequate wages that provide a standard of living that’s suitable for a human being. Once we bring the lower class together by successfully campaigning around our shared human rights, then we can bring an end to such exploitations as mass incarceration, the death penalty, homelessness and poverty.
Prison officials have total control over all prisoners held in CDCR and this affords them the power to impose their will upon prisoners as they try to see fit. So, citizens of this country, in prison and out, should not be surprised to see that CDCR is managing prisoners with violence in order to secure their best interest: higher pay and job security. Peaceful prisons go against the CDCR agenda and, therefore, violence has to be the agency’s trademark.
Whether, we are in prison or in so-called free society, our lives should not be in the hands of people who have no value for human beings whatsoever. How can we expect someone to do the human thing when they have no respect or love for humans? This question has to be answered in order for prisoners who have found their humanity inside these inhumane prison environments to be treated humanely.
Modern day slaves, sanctioned by the United States government under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution … Yes! By subjugating, marginalizing and disenfranchising the oppressed human beings, by way of economic discrimination or depriving humans of decent wages, that forces humans to live half-butchered lives that subject humans to the many social ills produced inside a society – a slave, criminal and gangster mentality that devalues, demeans, degrades and dehumanizes humans.
It’s personal because your actions against the oppressed were calculating, premeditated and strategically targeting New Afrikans and other oppressed, poor citizens of this nation. Not only did you wickedly abuse the trust of the people who believed in you, but you demonstrated what hatred looks like in policy. Yes! Your charisma, accompanied with your oiled up tongue, allowed you to work your charms on the people while all the time preying on them like a wild, mad predator.
It just gets my blood boiling what the Klansmen did to brother Hugo. I don’t expect anything different from them. When they see they can’t break you, they kill you. From George Jackson to Stanley Tookie Williams and now Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell, whenever you’re not asleep, whenever you’re awake and aware to who these people are and what they are out to do and doing, then you’ve got to go.
It truly is a beautiful thing seeing you all from outside of the real belly of the beast, enjoying the natural rays of the sun, long walks around a sizable track, embracing the many new faces that have been waiting decades for this opportunity. I can see you all as we speak and I smile because I can feel what you feel. With that I truly look forward to the next phase in our struggle, because there’s still a lot of work to do.
We want to invite every friend of the SF Bay View newspaper to our 40th anniversary party. It’s a free event this Sunday, Feb. 21, 1-5 p.m., at the Main Library, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco. Come one, come all and let’s celebrate 40 years of the most radical Black newspaper in the country. Enjoy a panel of Bay View writers, a fashion show and performances by the legendary Avotcja, Stoney Creation and Sista Iminah reminding us of the beauty and talent in our community.
On Tuesday, federal Judge Claudia Wilken approved the final agreement to end indefinite solitary confinement in California, calling it humane, innovative and fair. Prisoners celebrated the settlement agreement, whose terms were agreed on last September, claiming it as a victory that bolstered their struggle for human rights. Anne Weills pointed out that “what was missing from the courtroom were all the prisoners who risked their lives in the hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013.”
We have a serious responsibility to these young people behind these prison walls and in society. The Agreement to End Hostilities is truly our life line. It has nothing to do with your courage or strength; it’s about changing a violent prison culture into a civilized environment that eventually entails – or demands – that each of us be released from these animal cages and be allowed back to our communities.
Major George Tillery is a Pennsylvania lifer, 65, who confronted SCI Mahanoy Superintendent John Kerestes over Mumia Abu-Jamal’s deteriorating health. Prison authorities retaliated against Major Tillery – repeatedly ransacked his cell and denied him medical treatment for seeking medical assistance for Mumia and other prisoners. Tillery was transferred to SCI Frackville and then falsely charged with drug possession, disciplined and given six months in “the hole.”
I introduce this manifesto to all New Afrikans (i.e. Blacks) and any human beings who are SERIOUS about changing the inhumane living conditions that we see the people being subjected to in oppressed, impoverished communities throughout Amerika. It is crucial that we assess our conditions based on what is in our power to do, opposed to what someone can do for us.
Four years ago prisoners in California – led by those in the control units of Pelican Bay – organized a hunger strike to demand an end to the torturous conditions of solitary confinement. Two more strikes would follow, with over 30,000 prisoners taking united action in the summer of 2013 – both in isolation and in general population in nearly every California prison. Current prison organizing continues a historic legacy of struggle.
We prisoners need to prepare for a massive peaceful protest and work stoppage if prison officials don’t change 1) The culture to which prisoners and their families are subjected: so much mental and physical torment; 2) End long term solitary confinement, as they promised; and 3) Implement our five core demands. Too many humans are suffering who don’t need to be suffering.