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We take this opportunity to express our support for this historic event that supports prisoners’ human rights and to amend the 13th Amendment’s slavery exemption clause, so that legal slavery is finally abolished. When you consider the historic application of slavery in America, slavery in any form should not be tolerated in our society. For years we have struggled to defend the civil and human rights of prisoners both during our incarceration and upon our reentry back into our respective communities.
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.
Hugo Pinell was assassinated at New Folsom State Prison. Like Comrade George, Hugo has been in the crosshairs of the system for years. His assassination exemplifies how racists working in conjunction with prison authorities commit murderous acts like this. We saw it on the yard at Soledad in 1970 and we see it again on the yard at Folsom in 2015. It comes at a time when prisoners are collectively trying to end decades of internal strife. Those who took his life have done a disservice to our movement. Their actions served the cause of the same oppressor we fought against!
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.
After years of the abuse of authority by Adjustment Center (A/C) committee members and unit staff, a collective group of Death Row prisoners in the A/C will be joining in the statewide non-violent, peaceful hunger strike in July 2013 to demand that the warden of San Quentin use his power of authority to bring about positive change to prisoners housed in the A/C SHU.
Beginning with a rally held on the capitol steps, it was an emotional day for many, especially for family members of those suffering in the SHUs and prison survivors. The voices of those in the SHU were powerfully present, both in stories told by family members as well as statements they had sent for the occasion. The hearing provided an opportunity for legislators to hear representatives of CDCR present their new policies and weigh the truth of their claims. At the end there was a scant 20 minutes for public input.
In an earlier statement, I said that Richard Aoki is and was my respected friend, comrade, mentor and crime partner. I received the feedback that I had used fine words but had given no examples to show what I meant. I accept that criticism and the following is my response. I hope that you can see what kind of cat the brotha was.
Richard Aoki lived a full life, as dictated by the four winds and the revolutionary party that he served. He was indeed a revolutionary in every sense of the word. Well done, Field Marshal Richard Aoki. Please ride the four winds in dashing splendor, as only you can, so that young people will breathe in the essence of your courage.
Aug. 21, 2012, marks the 41st anniversary of the rebellion at San Quentin prison that ended in the assassination of Comrade George Jackson. The rebellion came to be known as Black August. At the time of his death at age 29, George Jackson was the best known prison revolutionary in the United States and field marshal of the Black Panther Party.
The Oakland International Film Festival is Friday-Sunday, April 6-8, at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Street, Oakland. Visit http://www.oiff.org/2012schedule.pdf. This year’s headliner is one of the most controversial independent films ever made, “The Spook Who Sat by the Door.” Watch it again here.