June 1, 2018
As the San Francisco BayView goes to press, a critical ruling is soon expected in Ashker v. Brown (aka Ashker v. Governor, Docket No. 4:09-cv-09-5796 CW (N.D. Cal.)), the federal class-action lawsuit challenging indefinite solitary confinement in California. The anticipated ruling concerns plaintiffs’ motion challenging the ongoing conditions of extreme isolation endured by many class members.
May 1, 2018
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.
November 7, 2017
In mid-October, 125 prisoners at the Glenn Dyer Detention Facility in downtown Oakland – over 30 percent of the prisoners housed there – participated in a five-day hunger strike to protest what they say are abusive conditions of isolation and poor healthcare in Alameda County jails. On Oct. 17, over 30 supporters rallied outside of the Alameda County administrative building, where the county supervisors’ offices are located, to draw attention to the striking prisoners.
August 10, 2017
Don’t forget the legacy of the Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey (Aug. 17, 1887-June 10, 1940) this Black August. There is an annual program at Marcus Books in Oakland, Sunday, Aug. 20, 12:30-3:30 p.m. Happy Birthday to Karla Brundage (8/29), Cousin Jeffery Lewis (8/29), Gene Howell Jr. and to all the ancestors lost in the Great Storm – Katrina (8/29/2005), and to those still swimming home on rafts and other flotilla. Follow the light.
June 28, 2017
Ruchell Magee’s legal knowledge was instrumental in stopping the legal lynching of the San Quentin Six. We owe him a debt of gratitude for his efforts and for the legal documents he prepared for us. I first met Ruchell in January 1970 upon my release from San Quentin’s B Section. I was housed in A Section and there is where I met James McClain and Ruchell. Ru was recognized on the yard as a sharp legal mind and helped many brothers get their cases overturned.
May 28, 2017
“Administrative segregation” is prison bureaucratese for solitary confinement. On Thursday, prisoners in solitary at California’s Old Folsom State Prison went on hunger strike for their Eighth Amendment right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment. I spoke to Raquel Estrada, wife of Anthony Estrada, a prisoner writing for the strikers in the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, who elaborated on the conditions of her husband’s confinement.
April 20, 2017
Now, as the San Francisco Bay View newspaper’s 40th birthday year comes to a close, is the time to bring up to date the historical sketch of our paper that I began with Part 1 in the January paper. Piles of old papers rest on my desk, waiting to be read once again – a banquet of stories and pictures of our lives, our hopes, our goals. Let me let you taste the flavor of the freedom we continue to fight for in the age of Trump.
August 31, 2016
On the surface, the recent “retirement” of the wardens from two of California’s women’s facilities appears to be a needed move in an effort to reform California’s violent correctional system. While many Californians are just beginning to agree that our Department of Corrections does more harm than good, many legal advocates and anti-prison activists have been fighting to make that very point from both inside and out of prison for years.
May 25, 2016
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.
May 3, 2016
In the early days of the 2013 Prisoner Hunger Strike, Jorge Gomez refused up to 12 consecutive meals. The California Department of Corrections struck back by issuing him a Rules Violation Report. The same fate befell untold numbers of other prisoners who’d starved themselves to peacefully call attention to their torture. In an opinion filed on March 25, 2016, the California Court of Appeals ruled that Gomez was guilty of no rules violation for refusing meals during the strike.
April 19, 2016
On Aug. 12, 2015, within the walls of New Folsom Prison, freedom fighter and political prisoner Hugo “Yogi” Pinell of the San Quentin 6 was assassinated on the prison yard by members of the Aryan Brotherhood, with the assistance of the guards. Seven months later, the community who loves him is coming together to remember his life and contribution to the Black struggle for self-determination and human rights. We will be celebrating his life on Saturday, April 23, 1-5 p.m., at the African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton St. in San Francisco. Any and everybody from the community is invited.
January 30, 2016
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.
January 20, 2016
The title of my book, “Annotated Tears: America’s Auschwitz,” came from one of the poems inside. It’s a socio-political piece geared toward unveiling California’s injustice system, with specific reference to its treatment of juveniles, which upon reflection resembles Hitler’s Germany. The piece, entitled “America’s Auschwitz,” begins: Everybody’s a victim — Sick depictions of pain … Gestapos lurking through the ghettos — Trailed by a bag of chains …
January 13, 2016
The examples Hugo Pinnell and George Jackson gave as revolutionary leadership transformed my life and that of many others who became aspiring revolutionaries. So when we received word from outside comrades that in August – always August it seems – on Aug. 12, 2015, Comrade Hugo was stabbed and killed while on a canteen line in New Folsom Prison yard, the world stood still for us. Comrade Harold Brown sacrificed many of his years in prison trying to overturn restrictive policies that isolated prisoners in solitary confinement.
November 20, 2015
Urgency to end mass incarceration and the criminalization of poor people and people of color is growing. The general public’s awareness that it simply does not make sense to lock up people with substance abuse or mental health issues is setting the stage for important reforms to our justice system. With this understanding, California voters passed Proposition 47 “The Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act.”
August 25, 2015
On Aug. 12, Hugo “Yogi” Pinell (1944-2015) was killed in the California State Prison-Sacramento. Pinell was a comrade of George Jackson, W.L. Nolen, James Carr and other founders of the modern prison movement. He was released from solitary confinement in 2014 after 45 years, the longest any state prisoner has spent in solitary.
August 14, 2015
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.
June 20, 2015
We as prisoners did not forfeit our citizenship when we came to prison or the laws which are designed to protect our basic human rights and dignity. The implementation and enforcement of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act was a clear procedural deprivation of our rights under the Fifth and 14th Amendments. The Fairness and Restoration Act 2015 is about restoring fairness and justice to those who were denied it.
March 26, 2015
The month of March marked the beginning of state budget hearings that will set next year’s fiscal priorities for the welfare of Californians. The first version of the state budget shows no clear plan to provide adequate relief for people living in poverty, fails to make restorative investments to the social safety net, and continues to increase corrections spending.
January 2, 2015
Prisons are closing in Virginia. Officials say they can’t afford to keep them open. We need to get the Virginia Department of Corrections to make some changes, because although we are incarcerated and have been convicted of crimes that have led us to where we are, I’d like to be treated like a human, not an animal. If we continue to voice our opinions, hopefully it’ll eventually make something happen. Until then, same fight, different cage.