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I’m thrilled to share that I will be joining 19 other activists and changemakers for the 2019 Roddenberry Fellowship! Jailhouse Lawyers Speak’s Right2Vote (R2V) Campaign is being recognized for the direct impact on civil rights in the United States. The Roddenberry Fellowship supports 20 activists, organizers, leaders and changemakers who are working to make the U.S. a more inclusive and equitable place to live. Fellows’ projects focus on one of four issues: Civil Rights, Immigration and Refugee Rights, LGBTQIA and Women’s Rights, Environmental Protection.
On Tuesday, Aug. 21, the first day of the historic National Prison Strike, Democracy Now interviewed Amani Sawari. The segment began with an excellent interview with Cole Dorsey of IWOC and then suddenly the bright, brilliant, radiant face of 23-year-old Amani filled the screen and a voice of eloquence, inspiration and power filled the room. All it took was host Amy Goodman saying she’s a journalist, and, involuntarily, spontaneously, I pointed at the screen and shouted, “There’s the new Bay View editor!” Amani and I have been talking ever since, and she came to visit Oct. 8-12. What fun we had.
This prisoner-led strike is not only about their list of 10 demands; it’s a clear call for their human rights! This is no small feat – and it’s dangerous! These men and women are putting their lives on the line – for themselves and for us. The retaliation began weeks before the strike even began. Don’t think for one moment this isn’t also about us here on the outside. Most of us are complicit in the horrors that have taken place in our nation’s prisons.
As the snowbirds arrived in Florida along with the mild January breezes, a small uprising of laborers who work under lock and key stopped production and made demands. This coordinated struggle was carried out by members of one of the most violently exploited groups in America: incarcerated workers. Inmates at 17 Florida prisons launched the labor strike, calling themselves “Operation PUSH,” to demand higher wages and the reintroduction of parole incentives for specific groups of inmates.
“Prison abolition is different from penal abolition. We don’t just want to get rid of the structures; we want to get rid of the whole system that functions to destroy people,” said Ashanti Alston, Black Panther and penal abolitionist. POOR Magazine had the blessing of listening to Ashanti and many more freedom fighters at the 17th International Conference on Penal Abolition held in New Bedford, Mass.
In the wake of the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, the left’s anti-fascist response to defend that community and the death of Heather Heyer, a rally that had been planned and organized over a two-year period by imprisoned people and the grassroots prison advocacy group IAMWE offered a powerful opportunity for those looking to actively confront white supremacy. Their demand is the end of slavery in America – the elimination of the “exception clause” in the 13th Amendment.
In the national debate ensuing from Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” some have not given credit to Angela Davis forging national interest in prison abolition with her organizing Critical Resistance campaigns across the country. With the nominal success of the Pelican Bay prisoners’ hunger strike in California, we recognize that when we organize a national determination, we can collectively force institutional change.
These are letters recently received from the writers by the Bay View. Guards seemed to be in a celebratory frame of mind -- Since prisoncrats could not break him, they set him up -- Hugo Pinell was locked up longer than any other SHU prisoner -- This is a revolutionary time; the pig is in a panic as prisoners show humanity, restraint and intelligence --
African Americans constitute / 12 percent of the nation, / 50 percent of the prison population. / That’s mass incarceration / Modern day enslavement / Casting a wide net / Landing a big catch: / The poor, the Black, the innocent ... / Forever strange fruit / Courtrooms abound with Black youth / Legal lynching ensues / The gavel is a noose / Freedom dismissed / American justice amiss / School to prison pipeline / Lucrative slave ship ...
Keith LaMar, also known as Bomani Shakur, is a prisoner in Ohio, condemned to death on false charges following the 1993 Lucasville Prison Uprising. Bomani is one of five men condemned to death after being railroaded through forced snitch testimony. They are known as the Lucasville Five. The following is an interview with Bomani from death row, recorded on March 7, 2014.
At Legal Services for Prisoners with Children’s 35th Anniversary Celebration on Oct. 19, headlined by Dr. Angela Y. Davis and Michelle Alexander, I noticed immediately the “logo,” a phoenix rising from the ashes, the theme for California Coalition for Women Prisoners’ 15th Anniversary celebration of the Fire Inside two years ago. All of Us or None is 10 years old now, and LSPC at 35 is the parent of CCWP.
The much-publicized brutality and inhumane conditions suffered by prisoners in solitary confinement worldwide has once again sparked global debates on the unprecedented urgency of prison abolition and, by default, on the implementation of community-led restorative justice programs. Over the past two to three decades, the global penal system has turned increasingly roughshod and its practices have grown greatly abusive.
I have learned profound lessons from Zaharibu in the short three months I have known him. In hearing more about his story and the horrendous conditions he lives under, I have been driven to learn more about solitary confinement, why it must be abolished and the resistance against it. I have also been moved to become a part of that resistance in any way I can.
With 3,500 beds in a city of about 350,000 residents, Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) is already the largest per capita county jail of any major U.S. city. Sheriff Marlin Gusman, the elected official with oversight over the jail, has submitted plans for an even larger complex.
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.