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On April 22, 2018, over 200 people attended the UCSC opening of the Reel Work May Day Labor Film Festival (RWLFF)’s 17th season, with the event theme “Together to End Solitary.” RWLFF’s motto, “We are stronger together,” is particularly poignant when coming together to end the extreme isolation of the state-sanctioned torture of solitary confinement. The film, “Cruel and Unusual, the Story of the Angola 3,” details the Angola 3's decades-long struggle for justice and to build an international movement to end solitary confinement.
On April 26, former Black Panther Herman Bell was released from prison in New York State after 45 years. That leaves at least 10 surviving members of the Black Panther Party behind bars, including Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, who is currently held at the California State Prison-Los Angeles. His next parole hearing is scheduled for May 4. I spoke to his friend Arthur League, a former Panther who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has vowed to donate “$1 million” to community groups who are dedicated to the fight against Black oppression and police brutality. I hope Kaepernick will consider financial support for the work of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper and its commitment to keeping the Black community – as well as prisoners and oppressed people throughout the world – informed in print and online. The Bay View has been fighting against Black oppression and police brutality since 1976.
Within the California Department of Corrections (CDCr), the name George Jackson evokes both fear and hate among prison guards. His very name represents resistance – the epitome of our Black manhood – and this explains in part why the CDCr has spent the last 44 years attempting to censor the name George L. Jackson from within its prisons.
After a combined total of over 65 years in the SHU, our brothers Zaharibu, Heshima and Kambui, after surviving decades of unprovoked torture, have been released to general population. This is in fact proof that through agitation, small victories can be won. It is not by mere coincidence that the administration all of a sudden decided to release all of us freedom fighters to GP so abruptly after the assassination of our beloved Hugo Pinell on Aug. 12.
Black August adds another hero and martyr to the roll. By some accounts, it was his first day on the yard after 46 years in solitary confinement when Hugo “Yogi” Pinell was assassinated Aug. 12. Prison guards celebrated on social media: “May he rot in hell” and “Good riddens” (sic), they typed. Yogi was the only member of the San Quentin 6 still in prison, and his role in the events of Aug. 21, 1971, the day George Jackson was assassinated, has earned the guards’ incessant enmity ever since.
Under the aegis of repressing a “gang” called the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF), the administration carried on a witchhunt against the political thinking of many Black prisoners and punished them by solitary confinement. This article, the second in a series of three, looks at the notion of prison gang, its relation to the prisoner’s need for defense and how that affects us beyond the prison wall.
There is a trick that the California prison administration pulls on African Americans in prison. It is to charge them with gang activity if they refer to “George Jackson” or any of his writings or ideas or to the “Republic of New Afrika” or the politics of New Afrikans. Thousands of people, mostly Black and Brown, have been held in solitary confinement for years and even decades, because “gang activity” constitutes a “security threat to the prison,” according to the Administration.
At first glance the question, What is solitary confinement? appears to be rhetorical, if not insulting, but you would be surprised, if not incredulous, how many prison rights activists are at a loss when I pose it to them. Even more perplexing, many prisoners are only able to provide the standard but antiquated response, which is: a prisoner in a cell behind a solid door, in which he/she is isolated from other prisoners and human contact.
For the past 20 years or more, many people – prison rights activists in particular – have spoken on the importance of education as the most effective tool towards combating recidivism. We are reinstituting the concept of transforming the entire U.S. prison industrial slave complex into the largest progressive educational institution in the country with emphasis on Afro-centric and Pan-Afrikan studies and New Afrikan political education.
So now it is necessary for us to move forward and utilize our NARN science in order to resolve these contradictions – the problem – so as to enhance the power of the people! Hence, the Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement is hereby proposing to the people – the Prisoner Hunger Strike Support Coalition – that we initiate an online petition campaign with the goal of obtaining 1 million signatures.
About two weeks ago, the IGI (Institutional Gang Investigator) searched my cell in SHU and confiscated my Bay View newspapers, saying they are contraband if any articles speak on George Jackson or Black August. They said that the newspaper with said articles would be used to re-validate me at my six-year review. I should not be penalized for a newspaper article.