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2011

Yearly Archives: 2011

‘Suicide of participant’ after historic California prison hunger strike?

Hozel Blanchard is the father of a prisoner in Calipatria State Prison who recently expired after the historic California prison hunger strike under mysterious circumstances. Why would a prisoner who helped lead two hunger strikes and was looking forward to an imminent parole date kill himself?

Race and Occupy Cal

God could not have sent us a more fitting setting for Occupy Cal at the University of California, Berkeley – the sun rising, yellow and warm. I was going devote today to observing and reporting on the social movement.

‘What do they want?’

With few exceptions, major corporate outlets, networks, national newspapers and the like have treated the protests such as Occupy Wall Street as something akin to a UFO: odd, alien and inscrutable.

Pelican Bay Short Corridor update: We can no longer accept state sanctioned torture

A shout-out of respect and solidarity from the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective to all similarly situated prisoners subject to the continuing torturous conditions of confinement in these barbaric SHU (Security Housing Unit) and Ad/Seg (Administrative Segregation) units across this country and around the world.

New hunger strike: Petition for improved conditions in Administrative Segregation Unit at Corcoran State...

This petition will serve as a constructive notice for the peaceful protest which will be carried out as an alternative means of petition in the event that our conditions and demands are not met in a timely manner. [A notation on the cover letter to the petition says the hunger strike started Dec. 28, 2011.] Petitioners have filed appeals and grievances to no avail. Our constitutional rights are being violated. We are bound by the Constitution of the United States, and therefore its protection extends to us as well.

Prisons: California’s concrete empire

In 1978 California began building a concrete empire of jails and prisons across the state. After the building was completed, a new California Gold Rush began – a feeding frenzy for all the jobs in city, county and state law enforcement agencies.

Carl Ray’s HBCU tours motivate students to succeed

Arriving at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport from cities throughout America, aspiring college students were excited. The tour would visit Spelman College, Morehouse College and Clark-Atlanta University in Atlanta, also Alabama State University and Tuskegee University in Alabama.

Report from Haiti: Where’s the money?

Broken and collapsed buildings remain in every neighborhood. Men pull oxcarts by hand through the street. Women carry 5-gallon plastic jugs of water on their heads, dipped from manhole covers in the street. Women carry 5-gallon plastic jugs of water on their heads, dipped from manhole covers in the street.

Crime and punishment

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons,” wrote Dostoyevsky. If what he says is true – and I believe it is – then America, which boasts the largest prison population in the world, is perhaps the most uncivilized country there is. Who better to speak to the reality of prison life than someone who is living the experience?

Should Africa be an ally of the West or China? The case of Cameroon...

The past 12 months were very intense on the African continent. Some important elections stirred up a whole lot of interests. Shared zones of influence are being renegotiated between the old powers of the world, the Western powers, and the new power, China.

Congo: What’s Rwanda got to do with it?

Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire is spending her second Christmas in Rwanda’s maximum security prison. Her ongoing trial, on charges of terrorism and genocide ideology, has implications not only for Rwanda, but also for the entire Great Lakes Region of Africa – most of all, for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Acquittal in mistaken iPhone thief case

A young man who was accused of the theft of an iPhone was acquitted, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced. “This case shows how easy it is for an innocent person to find themselves charged with a crime. Studies have shown that mistaken identification is the greatest cause of wrongful convictions,” Adachi said.

Prisoner advocate in love with tortured man has compassion for thousands more

In July, when over 12,000 California inmates of all creeds and colors united for the first time for the historic peaceful Pelican Bay Prison Hunger Strike, an “ordinary” woman, Kendra Castaneda, 29, began her transformation into the key national human rights defender she is today, overcoming one adversity after another in advocating for tortured prisoners.

Famine in the Horn of Africa

The international news has been inundated with urgent appeals on the famine in the Horn of Africa. Here in the U.S. not enough attention has been paid to it. While it is critical to support and contribute to famine relief, we believe it is equally important to understand the nature and political reality of the famine and what U.S. militarism and corporate land grab have to do with it.

Buy Black Wednesdays 9: Black is the new religion: Afrika closed until further notice

Afrika! Black people! Afrikans! Let’s do like China did and put the whole continent on lockdown by closing our doors to the rest of the world until we’re ready to come back out again as a superpower.

From state pens to Penn State

The shocking child sex scandal rocking Penn State University in State College, Pa., is an explosion of almost nuclear proportions. The scandal has shown how great wealth, fame and the business of college sports corrupted everything and everyone to keep the gravy train rolling.

Free political prisoner James Bess!

My good friend, Brother James Bess, is a political prisoner. Brother James was the minister of the Seattle Chapter of the Nation of Islam for at least 10 years during the 1980s and early 1990s, and was well known and highly respected in Seattle’s Black community. He is coming up for parole review and is asking for support.

Occupy the Airwaves: an interview wit’ the rap group Rebel Diaz

We feel it’s important to be a part of this conversation. If there’s a national and international conversation going on against capitalism and imperialism, we need to be a part of that. But folks also gotta undersand that racism needs to be talked about and that white privilege still exists.

Torture, pain and suffering is the plight of my son

My son was caught up in someone else’s crime. Although innocent, he was convicted 26 years ago and sentenced to 28 years. He has suffered because of medical neglect. He suffered a fractured vertebra accidentally. It was several years before CDC examined his neck. By the time of the surgery, he could not raise his head off his chest.

Stanford celebrates one of our own: Donald Griffin

On Sept. 11, 2011, Stanford University announced that Don Griffin, an Oakland native and 1965 honor graduate of Oakland’s Fremont High School, would be one of the 2011 inductees into Stanford’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Don was the third Black to play basketball for Stanford and was twice the season’s leading scorer.