March 3, 2016
Louisiana, which has the highest incarceration rate in the country, no longer provides public defenders to all its people accused of crimes; within months, over half its public defender offices are expected to become insolvent. “It’s a nightmare,” according to James Dixon, the chief Louisiana Public Defender. “You have people in jail that don’t have lawyers. It’s that basic.” The meltdown of the Louisiana public defender system makes it criminal to call it a justice system.
December 29, 2015
Funktown, which is near Lake Merritt, is rapidly being gentrified. You can still find “Funktown” scribbled on sidewalks here and there when the concrete was fresh. But economic cleansing has taken its toll on the hood. It’s just not the same any more. As the renters of Oakland are being terrorized by skyrocketing rents and greedy landlords evicting them by the thousands, city officials have mostly turned a blind eye to the economic cleansing taking place on their watch.
November 23, 2015
It is clear that Ricky Davis never had a chance of receiving fairness in a toxic judicial environment. The Ricky Davis affair is just one of the little known travesties that has arisen as a result of Hurricane Katrina. In Louisiana, a life sentence means you die in prison. Mr. Davis’ act of heroism has turned him into a victim of an arbitrary racially motivated legal lynching. If Black Lives Matter, it’s hard to tell down here in Louisiana.
November 22, 2015
One of the most important conferences hosted in Oakland over this past year for the Black community has been the Black Urban Growers Conference. With several hundred people attending, there seems to be a lot of interest surrounding one of the most fundamental things that human beings do: grow food to eat. I talked with Kevin Cartwright, who worked with the organizing committee to make this conference happen about his thoughts on the gathering.
August 30, 2015
Aug. 29, 2015, of this year marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s lethal brush with New Orleans. Although Katrina did not hit New Orleans head-on, the whip of her tail as she swept past the city’s southeastern perimeter caused a surge of wind and waves that only a head-on Category 3 could deliver. Amongst the survivors of the storm is New Orleans’ oldest resident, Racism.
July 29, 2015
The New York Times sent Gary Rivlin to Baton Rouge and New Orleans, days after the storm, to cover Katrina as an outsider. Rivlin’s instincts had him looking forward “to the mess ahead. Eventually the flood waters would recede. How would New Orleans go about the complicated task of rebuilding?” This carefully researched, beautifully written book describes that process from then until now.
January 28, 2015
Supporters of Marissa Alexander in Jacksonville, across the U.S. and all around the world are overjoyed that she has been released from jail after serving three years behind bars for defending her life. In 2010, Alexander, a Black mother of three from Jacksonville, Florida, was forced to defend her life from a life-threatening attack by her estranged husband by firing a single warning shot that caused no injuries.
December 3, 2014
As we move into the next solar return, there is much to look forward to despite the stasis that seems to infect this nation with the disease of white supremacy or racial domination. OK OK, perhaps the silver lining is a bit too buried to find Osumare’s twinkle beyond any pots of gold you’ve stumbled upon recently. The knowledge that no matter how it looks, the Creator is in charge and the bad guys just look like they are always winning is what sustains us.
March 10, 2014
My comrade Obi Egbuna’s father, with the same name, recently passed, and it was not until his old man died that I became aware of Senior’s well-documented history in the Pan African Movement. I am honored to salute the life of his father, Obi Egbuna Sr., and to enlighten our readers on some Pan Afrikan history. Here is Obi Egbuna Jr. in his own words …
March 3, 2014
Russell Maroon Shoatz is out of solitary confinement! Hugo Pinnell had his first contact visit in 40 years last weekend. Kiilu Nyasha announced this wonderful news at a reception following the second public hearing on solitary confinement called by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Feb. 11.
February 5, 2014
I am recovering from a huge blow – my computer was taken along with other personal irreplaceable items. We stopped by Loon Point to visit the shore before driving back to the San Francisco Bay Area Jan. 30. It was early, we’d just finished our first session of the Winter Quarter. We left our luggage in view in our cohort’s car. In Oakland, we’d not have done that, but somehow the seashore, mountains and quiet terrain deceptively seduced us.
January 12, 2014
“Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas” by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker (2013) is part visionary road map, part post-traumatic Katrina therapy, and part poetic love ode/lament to our city. One chapter addresses systems of containment – levees and prisons. In Angola, jailhouse lawyers organized voting blocks of outside allies to push for prison reform and to have decades-long solitary confinement declared cruel and unusual punishment.
January 1, 2014
I don’t know if it is a will of iron, Ogun or foolishness, but I caught something viral, which I refused to keep, on the plane Monday, Dec. 23, when I flew to San Salvador, El Salvador, by mistake – yes, the booking agent booked me for San Salvador when I clearly said Salvador, BAHIA, Brazil (smile). I kept seeing San Salvador and thought, well, perhaps this is another way of referencing Salvador, Bahia.
December 9, 2013
Baba Mandela passed today after a lengthy illness. Though he was not without faults, he was a great man and a decent human being who loved his people so much he literally gave his liberty for their freedom. He sacrificed his life and his life with his family for the liberation of South Africans through the African National Congress, an organization he, as a young attorney, helped found.
October 29, 2013
I found out Sept. 30, 2013, that she was in San Francisco General Hospital with lung cancer. She’d been going into emergency for chest pain and problems breathing, but they treated the symptoms and didn’t notice the spots until recently when they kept her. I didn’t know it was as serious as it was, so imagine my surprise when I get a text, two texts that she is gone. Genevieve Bayan, my big sister – gone. I hope she wasn’t alone.
October 4, 2013
This morning we lost without a doubt the biggest, bravest and brashest personality in the political prisoner world. On Oct. 4, 2013, Herman Wallace, an icon of the modern prison reform movement and an innocent man, died a free man after spending an unimaginable 41 years in solitary confinement. Herman spent the last four decades of his life fighting against all that is unjust in the criminal justice system, making international the inhuman plight that is long term solitary confinement and struggling to prove that he was an innocent man.
September 2, 2013
On the 20th anniversary of the demise of my father, Fred Ali Batin Sr., the 18th anniversary of the Maafa Commemoration San Francisco Bay Area – the Ritual Sunday is Oct. 13, 2013; see http://maafasfbayarea.com/ – and approximately the 60th day of the hunger strike to end the inhuman conditions in California’s Security Housing Units or SHUs, I just want to pause and reflect.
August 29, 2013
Eight years after Katrina, nearly a 100,000 people never got back to New Orleans, the city remains incredibly poor, jobs and income vary dramatically by race, rents are up, public transportation is down, traditional public housing is gone, life expectancy differs dramatically by race and place, and most public education has been converted into charter schools.
May 9, 2013
Congratulations to my nephew Wilfred Batin, 9 years old, who was one of two honor roll students from Rosa Parks Elementary School honored this year at City Hall. Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who deserve more than a day to honor them. Congratulations to all the college graduates!
January 29, 2013
A federal appeals court in New Orleans has overturned the conviction of former New Orleans police officer David Warren, one of the former cops tried and convicted of an assortment of charges related to the murder of Henry Glover, who was shot by police and later burned in an abandoned car by cops just days after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans more than seven years ago.