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I started writing this series and planning this Campaign to Redistribute the Pain with the intention of getting everyone’s understanding up on the importance and power of economics to our struggle. We can’t march and protest our way to freedom. Instead, we have to bankrupt the corporate enterprise that was created by the 13th Amendment. I don’t make this statement lightly: The approximately 3 million people in U.S. prisons are or represent the most powerful group of labor in this country.
In 1973, the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals issued a report which stated in part: “The prison, the reformatory and the jail have achieved only a shocking record of failure. There is overwhelming evidence that these institutions create crime rather than prevent it.” This same report stated directly: “No new institutions for adults should be built and existing institutions for juveniles should be closed.”
Her name was Yuri, a Japanese woman born in the United States. I hesitate to call her a Japanese-American, for to do so suggests she was a citizen. In light of how she, her family and her community were treated during World War II, especially after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, to call any of them citizens would be an exaggeration. Yuri Kochiyama, freedom fighter, after 93 summers, has become an ancestor.
Recently, the U.N. Human Rights Committee issued a report excoriating the United States for its human rights violations. It focuses on violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the country is party. The report mentions 25 human rights issues where the United States is failing. This piece focuses on a few of those issues – Guantanamo, NSA surveillance, accountability for Bush-era human rights violations, drone strikes, racism in the prison system, racial profiling, police violence and criminalization of the homeless.
We New Afrikans have a historical obligation to protect and serve the people by joining forces with ALL like-minded individuals, regardless of race, color, creed or gender. Our historical obligation in particular is rooted in the year 1619 via the Trans-Atlantic slave trade from which the Abolitionist Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Liberation Movement and the New Afrikan Independence Movement were spawned.
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.
Under the system of lifelong forced servitude, Black people could be tortured to death at a moment's notice with impunity. White oppressors could sense that at some point the coin will flip. This mirrors today, where police continue to kill Black people with impunity.
An 18,000-acre complex that still resembles the slave plantation it once was, Angola Prison is where Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 has served nearly all of his time in solitary confinement - 36 years, 2 months and 24 days.