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I write this missive to you so that you will hear from me about how I feel and what I think going forward in this fight for my life. Like all of you, I am happy that we have finally “won” something from some entity in this state. But after learning what exactly outgoing Gov. Brown wrote in that executive order I am not as excited as I was at first, or should be.
As I sit here in a 4½-by-11-foot cage on Thanksgiving Day, I first and foremost am thankful to be alive. On Feb. 10, 2004, I came within three hours and 42 minutes of being strapped down to a gurney, tortured with lethal poison and murdered by volunteer prison-guard executioners. So, yes, I am very thankful to be alive. I am also very thankful for all the people – my legal team, friends, family, supporters and activists working to end the death penalty – who have helped make my being alive possible. I have respectfully asked the governor and others to look at my case with an open mind, outside the legal box that has me close to being killed for murders of which I am innocent.
Good morning and welcome to Wanda’s Picks, a Black arts and culture program with the African Sister’s Media Network. We are joined in the studio by Robert King, Albert Woodfox and Malik Rahim. Welcome to the show. Today we are going to be talking about the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March on Washington. We can talk about solitary confinement, political prisoners, the 13th Amendment. We can talk about what the need is for having such an event.
Gen. George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876) paid the ultimate price for the sins of certain white people of his time who committed damn near every type of crime against humanity upon the indigenous peoples of this country. So much so that many different tribes of indigenous peoples came together, some who were sworn enemies, to fight and defeat their common oppressor. Here in 2016, once again, many different tribes of indigenous peoples, and not just from this country but from around the world, have come together to defeat their common modern day oppressor.
Sometime in the early 19th century, former United States President Thomas Jefferson stated, “Unchecked power twisted white men’s characters.” Since he was a slave owner and an oppressor, he should know what he speaks about! Here in the early 21st century, it still seems that within the hands of America’s criminal justice system as a whole, unchecked power has indeed “twisted” certain white people’s characters.
During the recent events surrounding the murder of unarmed Black males by white police officers in this country, it has been pointed out, and correctly so, that America has a steep and tortured history concerning the murders of Blacks by whites – legally and illegally! But what has for the most part been left out of this real life and death conversation is the fact that Black police officers have done, and are still doing, the same thing as their white police partners.
They elect the first African American president of the United States, and we still die. They say that we now live in a post-racial America, yet we still die. President Obama says to the youth to be patient, because change takes time, and while we have patience, we still die. President Obama says that times have changed, and that things aren’t as bad as they used to be. Times may have changed, but we are still dying!
There was an ocean of signs in a sea of banners of struggle and liberation in front of Anaheim’s City Hall and the adjacent park on July 21, 2013. The signs held faces of those cut down in the prime of their lives in loving memory and detail. There were informational signs and signs with slogans of liberation, with demands, statements of fact and advice – such as “Fuck the system” and “FTP” (“Fuck the police”).
Young women at the Chowchilla Freedom Rally Jan. 26 spoke out passionately for their sisters in a prison packed to nearly double its capacity, demanding that the 4,500 prisoners eligible for release be freed. At least 400 people came from all over California to show their support for the women locked up in the Central California Women’s Facility, currently the state’s only women’s prison.
The premise of the SAFE California Act is to “modify” the death penalty by replacing it with Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP.) The public will once again vote on how they wish to execute the so-called “worst of the worst”: either death by lethal injection, or death by long term incarceration. The act would also transfer $100 million to law enforcement.
The SAFE California Act to replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole will be on the November ballot in California. Here are the perspectives of three men on San Quentin’s death row. Kevin Cooper writes: "Please don’t get me wrong, as I have my say concerning this SAFE California Act. I am not in favor of capital punishment either! But I do know that there has to be a better way to end capital punishment within this state than the SAFE California Act."
Shouting “Inside, outside, we’re all on the same side” and “Here comes Oakland,” five full buses and two vans left Oakland to meet up with marchers from as far away as Portland and Seattle who had already arrived at plantation San Quentin for one of the largest anti-slavery rallies in California history.
On the United Nations' “World Day of Social Justice,” Monday, Feb. 20, we are calling a National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners. In the Bay Area we will Occupy San Quentin 12-3 p.m. Kevin Cooper, an innocent man on Death Row, joins the call to Occupy San Quentin and demand an end to capital punishment.
Yesterday, the NAACP and other organizations supporting freedom for Troy Davis delivered more than 660,000 petition signatures to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles in support of halting Troy's execution and granting him clemency. Watch the new video from the NAACP, plus a new video from Jasiri X, 'I am Troy Davis.' Read a letter from Troy Davis and another from California death row prisoner Kevin Cooper, a message from the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and, most important, how you can help stop the execution of Troy Davis, set for Wednesday, Sept. 21.
Kevin Cooper has been locked down on death row in San Quentin for the past 26 years. He was convicted of the 1983 murder of the Ryen family, although no reliable evidence showed him to be guilty. On the contrary, the case has overwhelming evidence suggesting that he is in fact an innocent man.
Did you know that five judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals have now said about me: “The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man.” I hope that you will speak about what it is like to have almost done just that.
Prisoners in at least six Georgia prisons went on strike Dec. 9. On Friday, Dec. 17, a strong, positive, fiercely determined and highly spirited march and two rallies took place in downtown Oakland despite the driving rain in support of those prisoners, whose strike has become the largest in U.S. history.
October is Maafa Awareness Month, a time to reflect on recovery from the residual impact slavery had on the Black community and how the centuries of free labor benefited everyone else. The ritual this year is Sunday, Oct. 10, 5:30 a.m., at Ocean Beach, Fulton at the Great Highway, in San Francisco. Maafa is Kiswahili for “great calamity, reoccurring disaster,” a term used to describe the Black Holocaust of the European Slave Trade and how the post traumatic stress syndrome shows up in our thoughts and behavior unwittingly.
At its core, the death penalty derives from, and thus replaces, lynch law. States in the former confederacy established the convict lease system, where prisoners worked, without pay, for the state. Both Black men and women became “slaves of the state.”
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