by Marina Drummer
As the week of the release, reindictment and death of Angola 3 political prisoner Herman Wallace clearly illustrated, the most important battle is in the court of public opinion. We resonated with the words of Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow,” in response to the federal court’s reversal of a positive ruling on stop and frisk. As with stop and frisk, public consensus is key in the struggle to abolish solitary confinement. And, like stop and frisk, public consensus on solitary confinement is shifting in a major way.
The movement is growing and we can’t let setbacks blind us from recognizing the progress that’s been made nor keep us from being inspired by that progress as we push the final distance towards the abolition of caging humans and the freeing of Albert Woodfox, the only member of the Angola 3 still in prison, and other political prisoners from decades in solitary. Alexander writes on her Facebook page:
“This is a major setback for the crusade to end stop-and-frisk. I had the sinking feeling that the decision in this case was too good to be true, and it appears the federal appeals court may be poised to unravel the progress that has been made. Ultimately, the most important battle is in the court of public opinion. As I’ve argued in my book, victories obtained in courtrooms are easily undone if no public consensus has emerged in support of them. A major shift in public consciousness is required … This fight did not begin in the courtroom and it will not end there. Much work remains to be done.”
SF screening of ‘Hard Time’ on Friday, Nov. 8, with Robert H. King and Azadeh Zohrabi
This Friday, Nov. 8, “Hard Time” (2012, 40 minutes) will be screened at 7 p.m. at ANSWER, 2969 Mission St. between 25th and 26th Streets in San Francisco, followed by discussion with Robert King of the Angola 3 and Azadeh Zohrabi of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and the Prisoner Hunger Strike Support Coalition. Refreshments will be provided. The event is wheelchair accessible. A donation of $5-$10 is requested, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
While focusing on Robert King, the first member of the Angola 3 to win his freedom, “Hard Time” addresses the broader problems of racism and human rights violations in the U.S. penal system. It draws attention to the plight of Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, the other members of the Angola 3, who have been held in solitary confinement for more than 40 years. Together they created a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party to fight for better conditions, security for inmates and justice behind bars.
ANSWER has been a staunch supporter of the Angola 3 since 1998. Back in 1972 they were also present at the first hearings. Thanks to ANSWER for their years of dedicated support.
Pack the courtroom Nov. 13 for Albert Woodfox’s hearing to end routine strip searches
Albert Woodfox’s first hearing seeking to bring an end to the inhumane, abusive, and illegal routine strip searches he is subjected to daily was postponed. Now, after months of legal wrangling, next Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 9:30 a.m., he finally has his day back in court before Judge Brady in the Louisiana Middle District Court in Baton Rouge. Albert will be present and will testify. The hearing is open to the public and supporters are encouraged to attend.
With any luck Albert and his legal team will convince Judge Brady to uphold the consent decree that came out of a 1978 lawsuit Albert himself filed and won – establishing such searches as illegal, unconstitutional and against internal prison policy.
Media conference and delivery of petition to release Albert Woodfox
On Oct. 21, Angola 3 supporters joined Amnesty International and the Angola 3 Coalition on the State Capitol steps in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and demanded the state drop its latest attempts to keep Albert Woodfox incarcerated and not appeal against Albert’s recently overturned conviction.
Among those who spoke at the event were Jasmine Heiss of Amnesty International, longtime Angola 3 supporter Malik Rahim, Albert’s brother Michael Mable, Rev. Dr. Patricia Bates and Robert H. King.
Former Angola 3 investigator Billie Mizell read a message from Teenie Rogers, the widow of slain prison guard Brent Miller: “Each time I look at the evidence in this case, I remember there is no proof that the men charged with Brent’s death are the ones who actually killed him. It’s easy to get caught up in vengeance and anger, but when I look at the facts, they just do not add up.”
State Rep. Patricia Smith sent a letter of support, and U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond wrote this statement:
“I am firm in my resolve to continue the fight to address the horrors of long term solitary confinement in a meaningful way. The plight of the Angola 3 has shined a disinfecting light on this terrible, unconstitutional practice of indefinite solitary confinement without meaningful due process reviews.
“This past summer, I joined the prominent Ranking Members of the Full House Judiciary Committee and relevant subcommittee Ranking Members in asking the Department of Justice to examine the practice in its use in Louisiana jails. We are continuing to monitor the situation and promise all of you assembled today that the sacrifices of the Angola 3 will not be in vain. We will continue to fight to ensure that prisoners are dealt with in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution, and I am currently exploring transformative legislation on this very topic.
“I look forward to partnering with you all to ensure that this story is told and will use my position on the House Judiciary Committee to make certain that we serve the interests of justice. Thank you all for your hard work on this issue and please know that my office stands as a resource to those fighting for justice.”
Take Action to Free Albert Woodfox!
While 50,000 signatures demanding Albert Woodfox’s release were delivered Oct. 21 to Gov. Jindal’s office, Amnesty is still continuing their petition campaign. If you have not done so, please sign the petition now and share it!
New Orleans City Council proclamation on the Angola 3 Support Committee and Common Ground Relief
Malik Rahim, co-founder of the Angola 3 Coalition and Common Ground, was presented with a proclamation by the New Orleans City Council recognizing the role Angola 3 and Common Ground have played in the city. The proclamation was presented during the 47th Black Panther Party Alumni Reunion.
Writer and activist Marina Drummer has long been key to the Angola 3 support movement. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story first appeared at http://angola3news.blogspot.com/2013/11/new-orleans-city-council-recognizes-a3.html. View more photos here and here.