Monthly Archives: July 2013
On July 25, a prisoner on hunger strike at the Doña Juana Penitentiary in Colombia died after having been refused medical treatment by his guards. He had been experiencing chest pains and asking to see a doctor, but his request was ignored. Soon the prisoner was dead from a heart attack. The next morning, 18 of the hunger strikers sewed their mouths shut in protest, and the hunger strike has risen to 176 participants.
2013 marks the 43rd anniversary of Black August, first organized to honor our fallen freedom fighters, George and Jonathan Jackson, James McClain, William Christmas, Khatari Gaulden and sole survivor of the Aug. 7, 1970, Courthouse Slave Rebellion, Ruchell Cinque Magee. During these four decades, we’ve witnessed a steady revision of the meaning of Black August and its inherent ideology.
David Livingston, the English explorer, is given a lot of credit for halting or ending the slave trade here. My guide said Livingston’s maps made it easier for the Arabs to penetrate the “interior” and that after the British abolished slavery, the Arabs continued at the Mangapwani Caves located about “20km north of Zanzibar Town along the coast” (Lonely Planet 144).
Chokwe Lumumba, a veteran of the Black Liberation and New African Independence movements, was elected mayor of Jackson on June 2, 2013. Jackson is the capital of Mississippi and is a city that is over 85 percent Black. If the election of Obama to the presidency of the United States constituted the alleged end of the Black Liberation Movement, the election of Chokwe Lumumba must then represent its resurrection.
“We are not alone. Africa, Asia, and free and liberated people from every corner of the world will always be found at the side of the Congolese.” So Chokwe Lumumba, having that name, should carry the spirit. He should know, as he becomes the new mayor of Jackson, Missisippi, that he will never be alone, that there will always be people around him to make sure that he succeeds in what he is doing.
There was an ocean of signs in a sea of banners of struggle and liberation in front of Anaheim’s City Hall and the adjacent park on July 21, 2013. The signs held faces of those cut down in the prime of their lives in loving memory and detail. There were informational signs and signs with slogans of liberation, with demands, statements of fact and advice – such as “Fuck the system” and “FTP” (“Fuck the police”).
As New Afrikan prisoners, every aspect of who we are as a people – which encompasses our cultural traits – is subjugated to a scrutiny that is intrinsically rooted in a racist paradigm. People, our struggle for racial justice doesn’t stop at the prison gates; in fact, the Prison Industrial Slave Complex represents only a microcosm of the battle that we as a people are engaged in within society at large.
Mediators working on behalf of California prisoners on hunger strike are calling for an independent investigation into the July 22 death of Billy “Guero” Sell, a prisoner held in solitary confinement at Corcoran State Prison and a participant in the three-week-long hunger strike that has shaken the California prison system. Sell’s death is being ruled a suicide by the CDCR. Medical professionals, religious leaders and prisoners’ families call upon Gov. Jerry Brown to enter into good faith negotiations with the hunger strikers.
“The 16th Strike” will make its San Francisco Bay Area premier in Black August 2013 in Oakland and San Francisco, brought to you by Krip-Hop Nation and the San Francisco Bay View newspaper. The feature-length documentary will be screened Saturday, Aug. 17, 1 p.m., in the Koret Auditorium of the San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin St. In the words of filmmaker Toni Alika Hickman:
Ever since the George Zimmerman verdict was read finding him “not guilty” and justice for a murdered Trayvon Martin was denied, there’s been a nationwide outcry for us as a country to sit down and have a serious conversation about race. President Obama encouraged us to have these conversations on race locally at home, amongst friends, at church and amongst our colleagues at work.
Now that the Mexico City Legislature is about to confirm another four-year term for Luis González Placencia as the head of the city’s Human Rights Commission, will he respond to complaints regarding the brutal murder of Malcolm X’s grandson last May 9? Or will he continue to cover up this vicious crime the same way he’s done in the case of the violent death of the Nigerian resident in Mexico, Isaac Echinedu?
In retaliation for our peaceful protest, the security housing unit sergeant, B. Davis, drafted up a memorandum on July 8, 2013, saying that Pelican Bay State Prison will be following “regulations per DOM 54030.20.5 which allows book/ publications limit of five (5) books maximum.” This is what PBSP calls rehabilitation.
The two sisters, Helene and Celia Faussart, who make up the hypnotic neo soul group Les Nubians made a major breakthrough when their song “Makeda,” which is sung in French, hit the American pop charts a little less than a decade ago. Not since the reign of Sade in the ‘80s can I remember international music that attracted so much attention on U.S. soil.
On July 19, 2013, all Martinez Detention Facility hunger strikers suspended their hunger strike. (Prisoners there had joined the statewide California hunger strike when it began on July 8, after submitting their own demands to the warden.) It is in good faith that we suspend our hunger strike and that MDF command staff will continue to implement our Five Core Demands.
Here at Corcoran State Prison, 4B1L Short Corridor on July 11, 2013, at approximately 11 a.m., Sgt. Vogel and two of his COs (correctional officers) entered the Short Corridor with a list of names of guys from all racial groups and went door to door informing them that they were moving immediately – no ifs, ands or buts – willingly or by force!
Mediators working on behalf of hunger striking prisoners have received disturbing news that Billy Sell, known to his friends as Guero, died while on strike at Corcoran State Prison Security Housing Unit on Monday, July 22. His death is being ruled a suicide by prison officials. Fellow prisoners have reported that Sell was participating in California’s massive statewide hunger strike – now in its 20th day. Advocates are outraged at Sell’s death, noting that it could have been prevented if CDCR had negotiated with strikers.
Families of loved ones on hunger strike in Pelican Bay SHU have successfully regrouped and found a new recipient for a campaign to donate their loved ones’ food symbolically: a local soup kitchen in Crescent City. The symbolic donation says a lot to counter the perception they’re all “the worst of the worst.” It shows they’re human beings at their best, thinking of others and being generous even despite their own circumstances.
We want to be counted amongst the thousands (on hunger strike) and also to let the world know that death row has a SHU, though they refuse to call it so. Everyone knows what the Adjustment Center is – a SHU, a prison within a prison – and we’ve been left in here for decades. However, 80 percent of us are still on strike. We lost three, but they were older and they did enough by showing their solidarity.
Mail to the Bay View from the hunger strikers has been very sparse since the strike began with 30,000 participants on July 8. Prison officials may be holding their letters as they did during the 2011 hunger strikes. But yesterday and today the mail brought a postcard and several letters from Bay View subscribers in the Pelican Bay SHU (security housing unit), where these historic hunger strikes originated.
Check out the cartoon world renowned political cartoonist Mark Fiore sent to the Chronicle today. Beneath the video, Mark Fiore wrote: “I know it’s sacrilege to mess with this song, but the days of Johnny Cash playing concerts in California prisons are over, replaced by Gov. Jerry Brown whining about federal judges sticking their noses in our prisons. Never mind the deaths, sterilizations and lack of clean water, among other things.”