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While I was immersed in the National Prison Strike back home, I had no idea how solidarity looked to others who felt trapped outside of the resistance. Some felt unable to connect with the people they desperately wanted to join in fighting for. Some Americans may say, How can I support a prisoner? in the same way that I struggled to connect with Tico Educators – in both cases knowing that their plight is worth fighting for.
Your first day of prison is your last day of being human. Your life is no longer yours. You are now state property. You BELONG to them now, and they hate you. They don’t recognize your humanity or dignity. You’re locked in crowded holding pens, forced to piss and shit without modesty. You’re stripped butt naked in front of everyone else and forced to show the guard your asshole. You’re shackled, hands and feet, to others like a human centipede of anguish and hopelessness. You no longer have a name but you’re given a number, a catalog number.
After the court order to shut down D-unit, CDCr administration has implemented a scheme to get around the court order by housing general population prisoners (Level II) in a SHU (Security Housing Unit) that is designed for maximum security and only allows for movement that is grossly restricted. The implementation of this scheme by CDCr and CCPOA [California Correctional Peace Officers Association] to refill these housing units, was only to receive the multi-millions of dollars Pelican Bay lost with its closure.
Now, as the San Francisco Bay View newspaper’s 40th birthday year comes to a close, is the time to bring up to date the historical sketch of our paper that I began with Part 1 in the January paper. Piles of old papers rest on my desk, waiting to be read once again – a banquet of stories and pictures of our lives, our hopes, our goals. Let me let you taste the flavor of the freedom we continue to fight for in the age of Trump.
The Oakland International Film Festival is an opportunity for Oakland to shine – its artists the polish and vehicle. From its inception 15 years ago, when the City of Oakland was one of the only cities in the nation with a film office, sadly eliminated an administration ago, this festival has maintained its focus – on Oakland and its diversity of talent: directors, writers, actors, technicians – famous and up and coming. The festival is on April 4-8. To learn more and get tickets, visit http://www.oiff.org and https://oaklandroots40th.info/.
Since long before the mainstream media was willing to acknowledge the reality of mass incarceration, systemic racism and economic inequality, the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper has been challenging the dominant narrative by amplifying the voices of people on the margins of society, particularly Black people, poor people and prisoners. Now, more than ever, independent media like the Bay View is in danger as the Trump administration has declared “war with the news media.” In order for the Bay View to continue speaking truth to the abusers of power, we need your financial contribution.
The United States of America is presently home to 2 million active slaves and approximately 6 million documented as slaves for future use. You ask how the land of the free can be home to some 8 million slaves and why Americans know nothing about it? The answer is that Congress enacted the 13th Amendment in 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. It abolished slavery throughout the country but it allows all states to enslave all persons convicted of a crime.
Anyone relying on mainstream media wouldn’t know it, but the U.S. prison system is shaking up right now. No one knows how big the initial strike was yet, but the information is slowly leaking out between the cracks in the prisons’ machinery of obscurity and isolation. Over the weekend more than 50 protests erupted across the country and around the world in solidarity with the Sept. 9 nationwide prisoner work stoppage and protest.
Prisoners in Alabama, Texas and many other states have coordinated and released a call for a national prison strike on Sept. 9, 2016, the 45-year anniversary of the Attica Rebellion. In their call, the prisoners declare, “On Sept. 9 of 1971 prisoners took over and shut down Attica, New York State’s most notorious prison. On Sept. 9 of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.”
“You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil. A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.” – Gandhi. Corrections Corporation of America and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is the epitome of this quote, and it is not enough for those reading this to agree with the truths delineated herein.
Mumia Abu-Jamal’s eighth book written from prison cells in the state of Pennsylvania, USA, is a selection of 107 essays that date from January 1982 to October 2014. They cover practically the entire period of his incarceration as an internationally recognized political prisoner. Most of the pieces were written while he was on death row after being framed for the murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981, in the city of Philadelphia.
On July 13, President Barack Obama followed up his March 2015 pardons of 22 federal prisoners by commuting the sentences of 46 federal prisoners who had served time for what has been described by the Washington Post as overly harsh sentencing. On Thursday, July 16, Obama will meet with law enforcement officials and prisoners at El Reno, the first time a sitting president has visited a federal prison.
I have read your publication periodically over the years, and after some discussion with fellow prisoners, it was suggested I seek your assistance with getting the message out there that I need help! The enclosed documents tell a lot of the story of what I’ve been up against for years. Most of my support system has died – mother, wife, daughter and sister. The Brother Keith Wattley took my case and fought it to a short lived victory.
Filmmaker Noel Schwerin is someone who is concerned about the way prisoners are classified and housed in racially segregated units in California and around the United States. Come check out “In an Ideal World” at the San Francisco Black Film Festival as well as meet the filmmaker Noel Schwerin and one of the former prisoners in the film to discuss this and many other issues dealing with the human rights of prisoners.
Departments of corrections and state legislatures are putting into place chilling bans on free speech and expression by prisoners, formerly incarcerated persons, family members, friends, journalists, advocates and activists. Pack the courtroom for the hearing on Abu-Jamal v. Kane, challenging Prisoner Gag Law SB 508, on Thursday, Feb. 26, 10 a.m., in U.S. Courthouse, 228 Walnut St., Courtroom 2, Harrisburg, Penn.
There is a chance coming up in the January-June session of the Delaware House of Representatives to restructure habitual offender sentencing. Senate Bill 188 would place application of habitual offender enhanced sentencing in the hands of judges. Currently, power hungry and politically motivated district attorneys have misused the enhancement to further their careers.
On Oct. 10, 2012, the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective, men from various cultural groups and walks of life, put into effect the historic “Agreement to End Hostilities,” perhaps the single most significant “door to genuine freedom” opened in American society in recent human history. What makes it so significant is not simply its motive force but, more importantly, its true potential for our collective liberation as a society.
They are called the Dallas 6 – and we ain’t talking about Texas. Dallas, in Pennsylvania, is one of nearly 30 prisons in the state, located in its rural outback. The six are young Black men who, in 2010, tried to stage a peaceful protest in the prison’s “hole,” its solitary confinement unit. The Dallas 6 are potentially facing more prison time for refusing to submit to torture, for men have died, in America, while strapped into the torture chair.
Pennsylvania legislators are trying to stop prisoners from speaking about their ideas and experiences. Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Vereb introduced a bill, HB2533, called the “Revictimization Relief Act,” which would allow victims, district attorneys and the attorney general to sue people who have been convicted of “personal injury” crimes for speaking out publicly if it causes the victim of the crime “mental anguish.” The bill was written in response to political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s commencement speech at Goddard College and is a clear attempt to silence Mumia and other prisoners and formerly incarcerated people.
It is my sincere hope this letter will be received in the same spirit of appreciation and cooperation in which it is written. First and foremost, I wish to acknowledge the courage and independent thinking and actions you demonstrated in the unannounced visit to inspect the conditions of confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit and speak with the strike leaders.