by Kijana Tashiri Askari
“Whereas slavery, throughout its entire existence in the United States, is none other than a most barbarous, unprovoked and unjustifiable war of one portion of its citizens upon another portion – the only conditions of which are perpetual imprisonment and hopeless servitude or absolute extermination …” – Preamble to John Brown’s Provisional Constitution, 1858
Since the inception of our first hunger strike in July 2011, I’ve been repeatedly asked, “Why did you risk putting your life on the line and go on all three hunger strikes?” My response has simply been this: We New Afrikans have a historical obligation to protect and serve the people through the crucible of forging a united front 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.
Our historical obligation has left us with the choice of freedom or death, meaning that it is up to us to go about liberating ourselves from the torturous and oppressive political, social, cultural and economic living conditions that the ruling class has subjugated us to in solitary confinement for the past 40-plus years via U.S. colonial rule. Or we could have accepted the prescribed role of oppressed man and woman for the next 40-plus years, which would have assured our eventual demise! Note: We must never forget all of the women prisoners who courageously stood in solidarity with us.
Our beloved New Afrikan Sista Harriet Tubman clearly understood our historical obligation when she not only liberated herself from the confines of the slave plantation where she was kept but also returned 20 times – despite the danger of being recaptured – via the mutual aid construct of the Underground Railroad to help liberate over 300 of her fellow slaves from the barbaric and diabolical culture of slavery, where rapes and lynchings occurred daily.
Our beloved New Afrikan Sista Assata Shakur also understood our historical obligation when she stated in an Emerge Magazine interview in May 2000 in regard to what the BLA (Black Liberation Army) meant to her: “To be honest, I would be dead if it weren’t for the people who took the risk, who said, ‘We are going to have you come into our house. We’re going to take care of you. We’re going to protect you. We’re going to struggle with you in whatever way we can. If it were not for those sisters and brothers, who took these positions, I would be absolutely dead.”
Prior to our first series of hunger strikes in 2011, CDCR’s genocide population control mandates were already in place and consisted of 1) the indefinite internment of prisoners in their solitary confinement torture chambers for absurd reasons, where prisoners are de-socialized and dehumanized in every extreme and 2) the regulation of prisoners to incommunicado status by accusing prisoners and our families of gang activity via the issuance of arbitrary and fraudulent stopped mail notifications stopping the mail that our families and friends in the community send to us.
These tactics are designed to criminalize and psychologically intimidate our families and friends to stop supporting us and to eventually abandon us. Thus, they advance CDCR’s genocide population control agenda. Here is an example:
In 2008, my family attempted to assist in my liberation from these slave kamps (prisons) for my September 2008 Parole Board hearing. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Prison Intelligence Unit (PIU) sabotaged and criminalized my family’s efforts by falsely labeling my beloved lil’ sista Hannah Bastienne a gang member on account of her letter to inform me that members of the Black Panther Party were going to be attending and supporting a community event that she organized in order to raise awareness about my Parole Board hearing and status as a New Afrikan Black political prisoner.
On June 9, 2010, my lil’ sista Hannah Bastienne provided a sworn affidavit in support of my legal case, Harrison v. D.E. Milligan, et al., Case No. C-09-4665-SI (PR), where she stated: “I would like to say for the record that I’m upset that I was accused of such activities. If Investigator D.E. Milligan researched my background before his accusations, which he has access to, he would have found that I am a permanent resident of California since 1999 and that my background is clean, with a perfect record.
“I truly believe that if Investigator D.E. Milligan was highly concerned, he would have completed a background check on me and would have discovered that his claim was untrue. Investigator D.E. Milligan, in fact, would have found that my arranged meeting was in fact a ‘community reach-out’ event. D.E. Milligan’s false accusation was based upon that I had mentioned to Marcus that a former Black Panther had been invited to attend my meeting.
“From that information the investigator assumed I was affiliated with a gang and assisting and aiding Marcus to promote gang activity. The investigator also accused me of being related to the BGF (Black Guerilla Family), which at the time I had no idea what that was, being that I’m from England and not knowing the history of the BGF.”
The above is a concrete example of how CDCR-PIU officials have escalated the continuum of their fascist policies and practices of criminalizing prisoners and our families and friends via psychological intimidation. This should serve as a reminder that our historical obligation is to protect and serve people like Hannah Bastienne through the course of pursuing the total liberation of all oppressed people!
And we must demand that the humanity of ALL be respected because intentionally falsifying allegations against law-abiding citizens is an inhumane practice that needs to stop immediately! Hence, I am asking that the community launch a letter-writing campaign to protest and voice your outrage over this contradiction and demand CDCR-PIU immediately cease and desist the criminalization of our families and friends in the community.
All letters need to be sent to Pelican Bay’s Warden Clark E. Ducart and CDCR Secretary Jeffery Beard. Their addresses are
- Warden Clark E. Ducart, P.O. Box 7000, Crescent City, CA 95531
- Secretary Dr. Jeffery Beard, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 1515 S St., Sacramento, CA 95811
I have also created the Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement First Amendment Campaign as a community-based infrastructure in order to protect the people from these types of human rights abuses. But unfortunately, it is still in its embryonic stage of development due to too many people paying lip service to the work that needs to be done, thus leaving a serious void of any real outside community support.
So I urge the people – in particular those who have experienced a similar dilemma as our sista Hannah Bastienne – to read the PBHRM-FAC’s mission statement in order to raise your understanding about our work, which should motivate everybody to get involved. But don’t just stop there.
After reading the mission statement, check out the “Survey questionnaire from the Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement First Amendment Campaign.” Then discuss it on Instagram, tweet about it to a friend and email a copy of these materials to a friend and ask them to do the same, as this is consistent with our legacy of “each one teach one” via the construct of mutual aid and cooperation.
I would like to thank the community for providing me with a minute of your time and hopefully the people of our communities will find it in them to act upon our historical obligation by coming to the aid of our family members and loved ones to protect and defend them against this type of tyranny, as there is truly no other alternative!
All power to the people who do not fear real freedom!
Send our brother some love and light: Kijana Tashiri Askari (s/n Marcus Harrison), H-54077, PBSP-SHU, D3-122, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532.