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Until Louisiana’s state Constitution was amended in the November 2018 election, Louisiana was the only state in the union where a person could be condemned to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole by a non-unanimous jury vote of 10 out of 12 jurors voting to convict – also known as a 10-2 verdict. This practice not only undermines justice by violating the standard of proof of beyond reasonable doubt, which accounts for Louisiana being a leading state in exonerations, but its origin is a direct violation of our guaranteed 14th Amendment right to equal protection of law under the United States Constitution.
Good morning and welcome to Wanda’s Picks, a Black arts and culture program with the African Sister’s Media Network. We are joined in the studio by Robert King, Albert Woodfox and Malik Rahim. Welcome to the show. Today we are going to be talking about the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March on Washington. We can talk about solitary confinement, political prisoners, the 13th Amendment. We can talk about what the need is for having such an event.
Sept. 9, 2016, is the day that many people in America are wholeheartedly organizing, mobilizing, taking action, standing and locking arms in solidarity against what we know as prison slave labor – yes, legalized slavery – and people are saying, “No more!” Even though there are many taking action and answering the call to cure this particular ill of society, there is an overwhelmingly larger portion of the U.S. population who are absolutely clueless to the fact that slavery still exists.
Just moments ago, Albert Woodfox, the last remaining member of the Angola 3 still behind bars, was released from prison 43 years and 10 months after he was first put in a 6-foot-by-9-foot solitary cell for a crime he did not commit. After decades of costly litigation, Louisiana state officials have at last acted in the interest of justice and reached an agreement that brings a long overdue end to this nightmare.
The Third Annual Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey B’Earthday and Community Celebration is Saturday, Aug. 15, 2-5 p.m. Gather at the “Abundant Knowledge” mural at Marcus Books. Please bring your immense wisdom, families, original books by Garvey, red-black-green items and drums. And don’t forget to bring some funds – as each participant will receive a 10 percent discount on every item purchased that afternoon.
When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, the nation saw tens of thousands of people left behind in New Orleans. Ten years later, it looks like the same people in New Orleans have been left behind again. The population of New Orleans is noticeably smaller and noticeably whiter. While tens of billions poured into Louisiana, the impact on poor and working people in New Orleans has been minimal.
The International Coalition to Free the Angola 3 declared today: “This is THE moment those of us whose lives have been touched by these men and this case over the years have been waiting for. This is the time when we must call upon the whole of our connections, creativity and courage to call with one voice for the immediate, unequivocal release of Albert Woodfox from prison once and for all without delay.”
I’m 37 years old, a husband and father of seven children with two grandkids. On July 15, 2009, I was arrested and charged with second degree murder. Prior to my arrest, I had a very promising future. I was a college student majoring in film, I own and operated Coastal Fence Co., Just Fence It, Price Low Fence Co. and Grave Yard Records in Shreveport, Louisiana. I was very well known in the community for creating jobs and being positive.
Last Tuesday, Jan. 7, a crowd of supporters gathered in the bitter cold in New Orleans’ Lafayette Square outside the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to show their support for Angola 3 inmate Albert Woodfox. Woodfox has been held in solitary confinement – or what the state of Louisiana calls “Closed Cell Restriction” – for 42 years. By most estimates, 42 years is the longest any prisoner has been held in isolation.
Herman Wallace’s greatest pride was joining the Black Panther Party for Self Defense! He believed in duty, honor and dedication. He never broke the faith of the party, his comrades or the people. As I bent to kiss his forehead, my heart said, “Goodbye, I love you forever”; my soul said, “Separated but never apart, never touching, but always connected.” He was the best of us. As long as we remember him, he lives on.
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.