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A copy of this historic document in its original form was sent to Bay View arts editor Wanda Sabir by Kumasi, a Los Angeles-based prison movement scholar and central leader of the Black August Organizing Committee who was a close comrade to George Jackson. Kumasi was reminded of this Manifesto when he learned of the National Prison Strike that began in Black August 2018 and believed Bay View readers would value the opportunity to witness prison movement evolution.
A federal judge in a March 28 ruling declined to order the CDCR to move prisoners previously held in SHUs into legitimate general population conditions. Under a landmark class action settlement that was intended to effectively end indefinite solitary confinement in California prisons, nearly 1,500 prisoners were released into the general prison population, many to Level IV prisons, which is the highest security level in general population.
Gov. Brown’s Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 was a sham that gave false hopes of freedom to thousands of juvenile offenders who have grown up – and are now adults – in California prisons and Three Strikers, who believed they would finally see their 20-, 30- and 40-year-old priors, which have kept them behind bars long after their current sentence has been completed, go away. But that’s not the reality.
California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (CDCr) had been locking classes of prisoners up in solitary confinement since the ‘60s as part of CDCr’s para-military low-intensity warfare, to break the minds and spirits of its subjects, California’s prisoner class. CDCr’s solitary confinement has two operating components: 1) punishing you and 2) physically and mentally destroying you.
I left CDCr wondering how PBSP could remain in shambles after 22 years of court oversight. As I started educating myself about prison reform, I stumbled upon Keramet Reiter’s 2016 book, “23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and the Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement.” Within those pages, I found validation and some disturbing answers. I wish this book had been available to me before I started working in CDCr.
For those who are not familiar with W.L. Nolen, this beautiful New Afrikan brotha was one of the founders of the Black Liberation Movement in the California Prison System, along with Comrade George Jackson. Comrade W.L. Nolen was instrumental in shaping and molding the exemplary model of undaunting resistance that many of us New Afrikans now find ourselves emulating today.
Sept. 9, 2016, was the start of the largest prison strike in U.S. history. Over 72,000 incarcerated workers in 22 states refused to provide their labor to profit the prison industrial complex. California forces 5,588 incarcerated workers to labor in exchange for little or no compensation. Another 4,000 earn $2 a day fighting Californian wildfires with inadequate training and equipment. The prison system in California reaped $207 million in revenue and $58 million in profit from forced labor in 2014-15.
CDCr has systemic and dysfunctional problems that run rampant statewide within California’s prisons for both women and men which demand this California government to take immediate action and institute measures to effect genuine tangible changes throughout CDCr on all levels. The Prisoner Human Rights Movement Blue Print is essentially designed to deal with identifying and resolving primary contradictions by focusing on the various problems of CDCr’s dysfunction.
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.
Hugo “Yogi” Pinell was a soldier of the people. He defended Black prisoners against racist attacks and stood up for the basic human rights of prisoners. Racist prisoners don’t respect prison unity. There was an agreement in existence at the time to end all hostilities. But it was an agreement that was not honored by racist White prisoners. So in collusion with prison guards, they took advantage of the situation and they assassinated Yogi.
On Nov. 11, an imprisoned person at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) faced extreme violence at the hands of prison guards. Stacy Rojas and three others were detained, physically abused, sexually harassed, strip searched in the presence of male guards, and kept without water, food or restrooms for 11 hours. Requests to speak with members of the prison’s Investigative Services Unit have so far been ignored.
We were saddened by the news that Yogi was murdered during an alleged “prison riot” at a Sacramento maximum security prison, after Yogi’s release from decades in solitary confinement in the California prison system. Our prison movement grieves at the loss of one of its most respected and beloved foot soldiers within the belly of this fascist beast in our mutual struggles against the common enemy of the human species.
This interview was broadcast live on Aug. 18, 2015, on Terry Collins’ show, The Spirit of Joe Rudolph. Terry Collins: A lot of people around here are definitely in deep mourning for the murder of Hugo Pinell on the 12th of August, this month. From my correspondence with him over the past three or four years, I know he was a person full of love. Kiilu Nyasha: If there was one word that could describe Yogi Bear, it would be love.
It was with true sadness that, on Aug. 13, I received the news that legendary California prison activist Hugo Pinell was killed in a California prison. Hugo Pinell was locked up in California state prisons for 50 years! That is insane. Hugo Pinell spent decades teaching, advocating and struggling for human rights, justice and dignity for prisoners. He taught and fought for racial and revolutionary unity among all prisoners.
The End of Hostilities between races within the California prison system went into effect in 2012. Since that time, I am amazed at how the different races have worked diligently to unify with one another despite a few little hickups here and there. You all should be proud of yourselves for what you have been able to accomplish in such a very short period of time.
I encourage all men and women prisoners to continue to press onward with our Agreement to End Hostilities through all corridors of state and county facilities. We are fighting for human justice. We call on all citizens to get involved with social change now. We shall not allow even Gov. Brown to destroy our faith in humanity. The Prisoner Human Rights Movement shall stand as ONE clenched fist in solidarity against CDCr oppression.
One year ago, on July 8, 2013, 30,000 California prisoners initiated the largest hunger strike the world has ever seen. Sixty days later, 40 prisoners, who had eaten nothing in all that time, agreed to suspend the strike when state legislators promised to hold hearings on ending solitary confinement, the heart of their demands. The 2013 hunger strike followed two in 2011. In the interim, effective October 2012, the hunger strike leaders, representing all racial groups, issued the historic Agreement to End Hostilities, which has held with few exceptions throughout the California prison system ever since.
In solidarity I offer this suggestion: Reduce your contribution to your imprisonment. Instead, contribute to your child’s development. Advantages: The prison system has less funding, the companies that lobby for prisons lose money and you remain healthy to fight! Federal prisoners spend $300 million a year in commissary. It is estimated that prisoners contribute $3 billion annually toward their own incarceration.
On July 8, 2013, 30,000 prisoners of the California prison system – and hundreds more across the United States – refused meals to take a stand about the conditions of prisoners in the various forms of solitary isolation – approximately 14,000 human beings in California alone. It was the third hunger strike in California in two years. Dozens of prisoners deprived themselves of solid food for 60 days. One prisoner died.
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.
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