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On this 37th anniversary of Black August, first organized to honor our fallen freedom fighters, George and Jonathan Jackson, Khatari Gaulden, James McClain, William Christmas and the sole survivor of the Aug. 7, 1970, Courthouse Slave Rebellion, Ruchell Cinque Magee, it is still a time to embrace the principles of unity, self-sacrifice, political education, physical fitness and/or training in martial arts, resistance and spiritual renewal.
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.
A brother precious to us has been liberated from this earth! His soul is with the ancestors, acknowledged by the billions of galaxies and trillions of stars as extremely wise, bold and prudent. May your wisdom and knowledge serve as footprints to the many generations to follow. You will be deeply missed, Brother Hugo “Yogi” Pinell, but never forgotten.
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.
I’m delighted to report the rally for Yogi Bear was just wonderful. Headlined “49 Years of Injustice: Release Hugo Pinell,” decrying Yogi’s 49 years in prison, 43 years in solitary confinement and 23 years in the infamous Pelican Bay SHU (Security Housing Unit), the rally was held Sunday, June 9, 4 p.m., at Freedom Archives, 518 Valencia, San Francisco.
Black August is a month of reflection on the losses that we as a people have suffered. It is a month of high elation and extreme sorrow – elation for our resistance, sorrow for our losses. For me, the three most significant events of August are Jonathan Jackson’s raid on the Marin County Courthouse in 1970, the August 1971 liberation of the San Quentin Adjustment Center by Comrade George Jackson and Nat Turner’s slave uprising.
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.
When the Occupy San Quentin rally ended, San Rafael police followed us to the Richmond Bridge. I don’t know if it was Jabari Shaw’s orange CDCR jumpsuit that kept them wondering – Is he an escapee, one of ours? – or if it was the sheer magnitude of fearlessness represented by women like Kelly, a former prisoner who would not let her traumatic experience silence her. One brother got so full looking at the guards on the other side of the gate watching that he looked like he was going to leap the gate and hurt someone as he recalled the violations of his person over and over again. Members of All of Us or None dropped everything to embrace him when he left the stage.
We have just finished commemorating the 40th anniversary of the assassination of our beloved Comrade George Jackson. Not forgotten by us was the horrific massacre perpetrated by the state of New York at Attica. At the time, we were in the adjustment center at San Quentin mourning our loss and recovering from the brutality inflicted upon us in the aftermath of the Aug. 21 incident when the state murdered our comrade.
“Imprisonment is an aspect of class struggle from the outset. It is the creation of a closed society which attempts to isolate those individuals who disregard the structures of a hypocritical establishment, as well as those who attempt to challenge it on a mass basis.” – Comrade George Jackson, field marshal of the Black Panther Party
Black August is a month of great significance for Africans throughout the Diaspora, but particularly here in the U.S. where it originated. “August,” as Mumia Abu-Jamal noted, “is a month of meaning, of repression and radical resistance, of injustice and divine justice; of repression and righteous rebellion; of individual and collective efforts to free the slaves and break the chains that bind us.”