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Few prisoners, if any, at San Quentin State Prison participated in what was reported to be the largest prisoner-led strike in United States history. There are many reasons for these prisoners’ lack of involvement. Most of the men imprisoned at San Quentin were unaware of the strike and the groups involved with it like Jailhouse Lawyers Speak and the Bay Area National Prison Strike Solidarity Committee.
It is with deep regret that I write about the tragic death of Arnulfo T. Garcia, a friend, colleague and former editor of the San Quentin News. My heart goes out to his family, especially his 17-year-old daughter. I can only imagine how she must feel having waited her entire life to reunite with her father only to lose him again. Arnulfo T. Garcia and his sister Yolanda Louise Hernandez were killed in a car accident in Hollister, California. I am most concerned with the fact that a daughter lost her father, a family lost two members in one accident, and we lost a valuable member of our community.
My life began in the Jim Crow South, in Houston, Texas. I remember the segregated world I was born into … the separate water fountains, the back of the bus, the going around to the back door of Mr. Fontnoe’s grocery store to buy milk for my mother and grandmother. I recall the segregated section of the movie theaters – and the long, seemingly endless net partitioning the giant sandy beaches, separating the “Colored” folks from the “Whites.” Can you imagine that it once was a reality, a segregated beach!
I have had many conversations and email exchanges with people wanting to know what my vision is for the newspaper. I see the Bay View as the New York Times of the prison abolitionist movement. The Washington Post of liberation. The Wall Street Journal of prison reform. I’ve equated my position as editor with a captain of a ship, the newspaper as the ship, and my vision as the ship’s rudder. I have already begun navigating some rough waters and have found unwavering support in many places. I may sit at the helm, but no captain pilots a ship alone. My vision is no good without the vision of the people to support it.
My name is Troy Williams. On Monday, Juneteenth, Black Liberation Day, I agreed to be the editor for the Bay View newspaper. It is with great honor, respect and much consideration that I step into this position. I recognize that over the past 40-plus years the Bay View has been a voice for the people. Simply put, we speak truth to power, logic to the illogical, from the perspective of those who seldom have a platform to speak from. The time has come for us to stand together and share our insights in a manner that will continue to strengthen our voices and move us beyond the pitfalls that came before or lie ahead.
The Central California Intelligence Center received a Suspicious Activity Report from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 2010. A guard reported that he conducted a search of two inmates’ cells. “Both inmates are Muslims who appear to have radical Islamic views. Both inmates have since been placed in our Administrative Segregation” (the hole). Anti-Muslim sentiments do not only exist in the outside world, they exist in prison, too.
On the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, government officials and first responders continue to lack the ability to plan for emergency situations. San Quentin State Prison, California’s oldest prison, is still on a virtual lockdown – or “modified program” – as normal programs for all inmates have ceased since Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, after “one confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease” was discovered, Warden Ron Davis’ Aug. 27 bulletin said.
As I read from the July 2013 issue of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, Marcus Books is in trouble. I would be remiss not to speak up and help prevent this beautiful and beloved landmark from imminent eviction. Hence, I am sending a letter to the president of these United States plus sharing my Marcus Books love story with all.
The conditions inside San Quentin’s West Block are inhumane and uninhabitable. They are in cells with no power. A lot of the toilets don’t flush. The men are trying to clean the feces off the walls themselves. There is ankle deep standing water in the showers and black mold on the walls.