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Posts Tagged with "San Quentin State Prison"

Watani Stiner: Tending to historical wounds

September 26, 2017

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!

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Filed Under: Prison Stories
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The right words can help tear down the prison system

September 17, 2017

I am a prison abolitionist in my heart. But I’m a prison reformist in the world by virtue of the sad fact that I can’t yet imagine a working society without prisons. I’ve spent every birthday since my 13th in an institution, so I’ve seen only prisons, heard only “prisons.” I want to abolish prisons; I just don’t have the imagination. Part of my failure is a lack of language to describe such a world convincingly. Likewise, a barrier we face trying to dismantle the prison industrial complex is we continue to use the language that helped build it.

Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March in Washington, D.C.

September 6, 2017

Saturday morning, Aug. 19, the day dawned bright and sunny, not a hint of the rain that drenched us the evening before. At 10:30 a.m. when I arrived at Freedom Plaza, there were people with posters and event T-shirts and a brother with a bullhorn. Robert King and Albert Woodfox were there in Amend the 13th T-shirts. King was passing out information about the law – the constitutional amendment – that legalizes slavery. Later on, at the rally, he would conclude the event, which lasted about five hours.

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Filed Under: California and the U.S.
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I see the Bay View as the New York Times of the prison abolitionist movement

August 4, 2017

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.

Free California political prisoners Romaine ‘Chip’ Fitzgerald and Ruchell ‘Cinque’ Magee

July 31, 2017

Resolution calling for the release of California political prisoners Romaine ‘Chip’ Fitzgerald and Ruchell ‘Cinque’ Magee —
WHEREAS, Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald and Ruchell “Cinque” Magee have been incarcerated for their political views and actions in support of the Black Liberation Movement; WHEREAS, even while in prison, Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald and Ruchell “Cinque” Magee continue to adhere to their principles;

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Filed Under: Prison Stories
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Survivors of long term solitary confinement petition for institutional restitution

July 30, 2017

To: CDCr Secretary Scott Kernan and Director Kathline Allison — From: Abdul Olugbala Shakur (aka J. Harvey, C48884) and Joka Heshima Jinsai (aka S. Denham, J38283) — The following is what we believe to be just and fair and reasonable requests considering the inhumane treatment that many of the prisoners were being subjected to while housed in solitary confinement, or isolation, for decades, especially at Pelican Bay State Prison and Corcoran State Prison.

Welcoming Troy Williams, new Bay View editor

June 30, 2017

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.

David Johnson of the San Quentin Six salutes political prisoner and expert jailhouse lawyer Ruchell Magee

June 28, 2017

Ruchell Magee’s legal knowledge was instrumental in stopping the legal lynching of the San Quentin Six. We owe him a debt of gratitude for his efforts and for the legal documents he prepared for us. I first met Ruchell in January 1970 upon my release from San Quentin’s B Section. I was housed in A Section and there is where I met James McClain and Ruchell. Ru was recognized on the yard as a sharp legal mind and helped many brothers get their cases overturned.

Have anti-Muslim sentiments arrived in prison?

June 23, 2017

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.

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Filed Under: Prison Stories
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Ruchell Cinque Magee, sole survivor of the Aug. 7, 1970, Courthouse Slave Rebellion

February 2, 2017

I can hardly believe that 47 years have gone by since the Aug. 7,1970, Marin Courthouse Slave Rebellion. Ruchell is now 77 years old. It’s a sin and a shame the fascist state has practically taken this brother’s whole life. And he has never seriously injured anyone. Quite the opposite, Ruchell has been responsible, through his jailhouse lawyering, for the release of countless prisoners over the five-plus decades he’s been incarcerated. Here’s his story, written years ago and updated.

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Filed Under: Prison Stories
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Custer died for their sins

January 30, 2017

Gen. George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876) paid the ultimate price for the sins of certain white people of his time who committed damn near every type of crime against humanity upon the indigenous peoples of this country. So much so that many different tribes of indigenous peoples came together, some who were sworn enemies, to fight and defeat their common oppressor. Here in 2016, once again, many different tribes of indigenous peoples, and not just from this country but from around the world, have come together to defeat their common modern day oppressor.

If Black lives really matter, we need the courage to police the police and stop killing us

December 26, 2016

We point fingers all we want, but we can’t do that unless we’re ready to look in the mirror at ourselves. The mirror doesn’t lie.
We have to stop killing us for Black lives to matter. We have to do something about the drugs in the hood. We have to teach the kids that’s having kids how to be parents. I was 15 with a kid. My story is very epic in that I am the epitome of what the youth in the hood face every day. I just haven’t figured out how to use my story and voice to help change things.

ArtReach: Exhibition of artwork and poetry by 20 men on San Quentin’s death row

October 28, 2016

Last June, an inspiring and thought provoking art exhibition took place in London, in the UK. From June 24 to July 6, 2016, approximately 20 inmates from San Quentin’s death row showcased their work alongside mine; I make collages and sculptures from discarded objects I pick up along the banks of the River Thames. The name of the exhibition was ArtReach (reaching out with art), and the aim of it was to enable prisoners to share their work with the outside world.

Is it illegal to be Black in America?

August 29, 2016

Sometime in the early 19th century, former United States President Thomas Jefferson stated, “Unchecked power twisted white men’s characters.” Since he was a slave owner and an oppressor, he should know what he speaks about! Here in the early 21st century, it still seems that within the hands of America’s criminal justice system as a whole, unchecked power has indeed “twisted” certain white people’s characters.

Hugo Pinell, aka Dahariki Kambon: Decades of assassination attempts against the man most feared by CDCr

June 29, 2016

The recent victory won by the prisoner hunger strikers, the “solitary settlement” in Ashker v. Brown, is indicative of the solidarity among prisoners today, and it is for this reason I am sharing my story and history of Dahariki Kambon. We must carry on the spirit of what he stood for; his fight was against the racist oppressors and their cruel laws and policies of injustice and inequality.

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Filed Under: Prison Stories
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Federal sentence enhancements keep Black low-level drug offenders in prison for life without parole

May 25, 2016

Over the past few years, President Obama, former Attorney General Eric Holder, members of both houses of Congress and many other elected officials have expressed the need for criminal justice reform. Much concern has been raised regarding overly harsh penalties for low-level drug offenses and firearms violations. There is, however, one particularly egregious judicial injustice that has not made the headlines, perhaps because it primarily effects only poor African Americans.

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Filed Under: California and the U.S.
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My brotha Yogi – two comrades with long memories

April 30, 2016

I had the pleasure of meeting and learning from my brotha Yogi and the honor of having him call me his “mwenzi” (Swahili for “comrade”). They hated my brotha Yogi because they were unable to break him after years of trying. What I know and hold to be true continues to afford all people a better way of improving their way of life and also our day for justice!

Gov. Brown’s parole initiative could free 30-40,000

April 2, 2016

The California State Supreme Court has re-affirmed its decision allowing Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed initiative for changing California’s parole system to begin gathering signatures for the November ballot. The March 9 decision was the second time the court kept Brown’s crime initiative alive by rejecting a request by state prosecutors to halt signature-gathering for the measure.

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Filed Under: Prison Stories
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Sensory deprivation is depravity

February 14, 2016

From within and beyond the $100,000 8-by-14-foot steel and stone sensory deprivation cell that is designed for my mental, physical and social dehumanization, I bring to you this letter of concern regarding the adverse effects of long-term sensory deprivation. Upon seeing me for the first time in over a year, a fellow prisoner shook my hand and then proceeded to put both arms around me to embrace me.

CHOOSE1’s Three Strikes Reform Act needs 500,000 signatures by July 17 to make the November ballot

February 2, 2016

In late December, CHOOSE1, a grassroots, non-profit organization, received approval to begin gathering signatures to have the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2016 placed on the November 2016 election ballot. The California Attorney General’s Office has given CHOOSE1 until June 17 to gather signatures from registered voters to qualify the initiative. The goal is 500,000 signatures to ensure enough are gathered to meet statutory requirements.

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