Monthly Archives: October 2015
The People’s Minister of Information JR talks with reporter and author Thandisizwe Chimurenga about the recent Black female victims of police terrorism in the U.S. including the cases of Sandra Bland, Marlene Pinnock, Natasha McKenna and more. “Natasha died in February in Virginia,” says Thandi. “Why we speak of her is because recently the video of how she died was released and, once you look at the video, you can understand the reason it was held for so long. They used a stun gun on her; she was shot four times. She’d been arrested and charged with assaulting a cop.”
When people hear the story of Ed and Mondo, some say the prison time is a waste of their lives. They have wasted nothing. Despite their circumstances, and they are bleak to be sure, they each live productive lives, “lives that matter.” During the last 45 years, both men have continued to teach and influence, to set a positive example and guide their peers. They serve as a reminder to us all to make each day count for something more than ourselves.
Beneath the banner “Justice or Else,” this march appeared different from the Oct. 20, 1995, event. Minister Louis Farrakhan called for an end to police violence against African Americans and demanded a halt to Black-on-Black crime, which kills more inner-city men than all other causes combined. The Nation of Islam leader used the occasion of the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Million Man March at the steps of the U.S. Capitol to condemn the loss of life of Blacks.
Letters continue to pour in to the Bay View from prisoners who remember the great Hugo “Yogi” Pinell as a hero and a martyr and want the world to know and remember him too. His work will not only be memorialized but also carried forth by all he has touched. You and your lessons will be remembered always – and, like you, will forever inspire resistance. Determination. The longing to be free. And the courage to fight for it.
Following Haiti’s controversial presidential and legislative elections held on Sunday, Oct. 25, alarm is growing about irregularities in the counting of the votes at voting centers and in the transportation of votes to the tabulation center. There is widespread mistrust of the process. Most international observers of the election and subsequent press reports have focused on the day of the election but not on the counting and tabulation of the votes.
On Oct. 22, 2015, at an open meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed proposed rules that substantively reform what advocates call a broken prison and jail telephone industry. The package of reforms ushered in by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn was heralded by advocate organizations that comprise the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, along with myriad criminal justice reform and civil rights groups.
Leading Black women across the nation are expressing outrage this week over the videotaped violent incident showing a White police officer in Columbia, S.C., grabbing a Black 16-year-old female high school student around her neck, flipping her desk, then dragging her across the floor and tossing her across the classroom. Many fear the growth of such incidents unless corrective action is taken.
The current campaign to elect a sheriff for the City and County of San Francisco can and must become San Francisco’s “eyes wide open” opportunity to review what this city and county can and ought to do to identify and promulgate a new path for how it will identify and adopt aspects of the national Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. The City and County of San Francisco can initiate and begin the effort to deincarcerate San Francisco’s jails and juvenile justice center.
The Abu Jihad museum at Al Quds University is hosting an international exhibition titled “George Jackson in the Sun of Palestine,” which opened Oct. 20, 2015. It is the first international exhibit of this center for prisoner movement affairs located in the Abu Dis village of Jerusalem. The exhibition links the Palestinian prisoner struggle with the struggles of other political prisoners around the world. It aims to raise international awareness about the reality of prisoners in general and what the Israeli Occupation State is doing to harass Palestinian prisoners in particular.
Time and time again, those of us behind these enemy lines are forced to consciously recognize the significance of the Black August attack on one of the iconic San Quentin Six. It is no puzzle for those familiar with the tactics and practices of prisoncrats that their spin doctors, like (CDCr spokesperson) Terry Thornton, promulgate deceptions to try and conceal the fact that the End Hostilities policy instituted by prisoners has been reasonably effective.
Our community report back will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 6:30-9 p.m., at the McClymonds Youth and Family Center (Game Room) located on McClymonds High School’s campus, 2607 Myrtle St., West Oakland. This trip wasn’t just for me or my students; it was for our community. We will show footage of the trip, allow young people to tell their stories, and do a panel so that members of the community can ask questions and learn from our students.
Del, Carlina and Macio are three local San Francisco entrepreneurs creating opportunities for themselves and people from marginalized populations – homeless youth, veterans and low-income communities. While they all have different stories, they share the fact that their small businesses were started with help from a $5,000 Kiva loan. Kiva is a global non-profit organization that has worked to alleviate poverty through lending for the past 10 years.
In contrast to the hoopla and razzle dazzle of Mayor Ed Lee and company to hoodwink the public into believing that privatizing public housing is a good thing, an Oct. 7 letter from Congresswoman Maxine Waters to Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) calls for more protections for public housing and public housing tenants being threatened by the RAD privatization program.
On Oct. 7, political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim was denied four books which arrived for him at Attica Correctional Facility. Muntaqim is a former member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army and one of the longest held political prisoners in the world today; he has been incarcerated since 1971, when he was only 19 years old. Muntaqim was initially told he could have the books, but when a guard noticed that one of the titles in question was actually written by Muntaqim himself, he simply said, “No way.” This censorship is simply a more petty example of harassment directed against someone who is hated for what he represents.
This week marked the fifth anniversary of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza’s arrest and imprisonment in Rwanda. Ingabire attempted to run for president, against incumbent Paul Kagame in 2010, and went to prison instead. Supporters of Ingabire and freedom for all Rwandans and all peoples of the African Great Lakes Region gathered in Brussels, Belgium, for a day of reflection on the meaning of Victoire Ingabire’s heroic sacrifice.
The Georgia Department of Corrections is operating a behavior modification torture program designed to break a prisoner’s mind, body and spirit in order to instill fear and docility into each prisoner placed in the program. Prisoners are deliberately denied proper nutrition, media access, medical services, religious and political expression, access to the courts etc. There is nothing positive about this program.
Have you heard of the IEP? Well, it’s shorthand for special education. It is a program that is eating Black children, boys and girls at an alarming rate. Though it sounds benign and helpful, if too many of the children are Black, then there is a problem. It is a form of tracking; and any program that targets our children, puts them in a classroom where they are stigmatized by the larger student population (when they find out), is wrong.
According to CalHR, the state’s human resources department, employment and advancement opportunities for women and minorities do not seem to be getting any better. In the most recent State Employee Census, compiled by CalHR and published in January 2015, one of the state’s largest agencies, the Board of Equalization, posted favorable numbers for African Americans and women.
I have known about the music of Maya Songbird for a number of years, so it is long overdue that I bring this very creative and eccentric Bay Area based artist into the pages of the SF Bay View newspaper. Her debut album, “Writing My Life,” has just been released, and she has a number of gigs locally where people can go check her out for themselves. Check out Maya Songbird in her own words.
Too often, organizing work done by incarcerated women goes wholly unrecognized. In her book, “Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women,” Victoria Law focuses on the many forms of activism happening inside of women’s prisons, most of which never reach the dominant media. In the following interview, Law shares ways in which individual acts of resistance are building toward a transformational new reality.