Comrades hail hero and martyr Hugo Pinell

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.

Yogi is a martyr, plain and simple

by Hakim Akbar-Jones (Kongo)

I’ve been giving much thought and consideration to what I wish to convey about what happened to Hugo “Yogi” Pinell on Aug. 12, 2015, on B-Yard at CSP-Sacramento (New Folsom Prison). Yogi Pinell was martyred. Yogi is a martyr, plain and simple.

Hugo-Yogi-Pinell-daughter-Allegra-Taylor-hugging-him-New-Folsom-080215-web-224x300, Comrades hail hero and martyr Hugo Pinell, Abolition Now!
This is “the hug” that rewarded Hugo Pinell after 46 years of being barred from touching a friendly human being. His daughter Allegra, who had the pictures taken Aug. 2, says her father asked that if these photos were published, “the hug” should come first. In his last letter to her, written two days before he died, he wrote: “I felt uncomfortable posing for our first photo. I was nervous; somehow I mustered up a smile. Then you got almost behind me, put your arms around me and I felt wonderful.”

He lived and died for a cause that included progression and revolution for the oppressed. He lived and died for an ultimate cause. His work will not only be memorialized but also carried forth by all he has touched.

His murderous setup by the CDC administration was done by a chain of command and was cleverly orchestrated. Yogi’s housing placement was dictated and supervised by the Classification Service Unit (CSU), Departmental Review Board (DRB) and Office of Correctional Safety (OSC). These units permitted and authorized his movements and placements.

It is these units who first put in place a set of circumstances, such as first releasing specific “enemyigos” of past racial conflicts onto the yard first – a key factor in carrying out “the hit.” CDC prevented Yogi from socially and physically interacting with the general population, while releasing others from solitary directly into general population.

The administration created an enemy list and placed it into Yogi’s central file. I believe that this is what kept Yogi from being released to C-Yard.

So when Yogi’s annual committee came around, this was the clever move the administration pulled; they notified Yogi that he will be released into general population on B-Yard and that he can’t be housed safely on C-Yard due to “enemy concerns.” He was given two options: 1) He could be placed into protective custody on a PC/SNY (Sensitive Needs Yard) status or 2) be housed in general population.

Yogi chose the second option. Please ask yourself why was Yogi not given a preference as to where he wanted to be housed? Yogi, who wouldn’t violate his principles, refused protective custody and the stigma of being labeled a coward.

Only a few conscious prisoners knew Yogi had been forced onto B-Yard and his status. Yogi, being diverse in culture, gravitated towards Afrikans and Mex-Indians and prisoners not born on U.S. soil. The African community on B-Yard at CSP-Sac didn’t really know Yogi nor that he had a racial and political hit on him.

Here at CSP-Sac, the prison culture is divided and separated by racial group. Yogi, with a light brown complexion and distinctive Afrikan features, can be taken as an Afrikan-Latino or Mex-Indian. But due to this division and culture and politics, Yogi was not embraced by some Latinos – or Southern Mexicans – not invited in comradery by these groups.

The Afrikans embraced Yogi and welcomed him into the B-Yard community. For approximately four or five days, only a few knew of his status – but not that his life was in danger.

Before Yogi could be fully embraced, he was martyred. People of the Afrikan community on B-Yard did render what assistance they could muster, even without weapons. But when faced with angry white prisoners wielding street knives and with our captors leveling mini-14 assault rifles only at Africans, these strategic tactics forced compliance.

He lived and died for a cause that included progression and revolution for the oppressed. He lived and died for an ultimate cause. His work will not only be memorialized but also carried forth by all he has touched.

No words can fully express the grief and shock we all feel towards losing a loved one, nor does time fully heal our loss. Yogi and I were in B-3 SHU here at CSP-Sac. I had been notified prior to his arrival. I had never met Yogi before but knew him through his writings and word of mouth.

I was going to yard when we first met. Two kindred spirits connecting brings on peace and serenity, but I could see that rage in his eyes and fire burning strong. Seeing him, we both smiled ear to ear. He had a shiny gold front tooth and I a silver front tooth. We shared a moment, and a brothers’ bond was forged.

From December 2013 through September 13, 2014, I saw Yogi almost every day in passing, and we shared greetings. He would give me a little canteen and I would share my music CDs with him. Yogi always expressed love and compassion for self. He always was very positive and encouraged everyone he could to elevate and better ourselves.

On his first contact visit with his mom, Yogi shared his feelings with me. But prior to the visit, I conveyed what he might experience in a contact visit: “the touch!” It served him well; he was prepared for that moment.

No one else was in the visiting room – just him and his family. He said he walked over and held his mom and daughter’s hands dang near the whole visit, sharing tears, love and happiness. I think that was the only contact visit for Yogi and family in over 40 years.

True love exists amongst those who practice it. Yogi had the perfect love and the perfect hate. He is now gone – but not forgotten.

Before I close, know this: There is a purpose for life and there is a purpose for suffering. To live life means to suffer and struggle, but to survive is to find the meaning in the suffering and struggle. Yogi lived it and helped others to learn to live and survive in whatever struggles we may be subjected to.

Heads up! Fists to the sky! Power to the people!


Send our brother some love and light: Hakim Akbar-Jones, P-85158, CSP-Sacramento C7-123, P.O. Box 290066, Represa CA 95671.

Keep alert!

by Robert Langford

Our Brother Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell isn’t dead. Like Jesus and Moses and John the Baptist, he has been transformed into a spiritual being and placed in the Valley of Dry Bones.

Let us learn from the life of Brother Jonathan Jackson that we are never too young to be heroes. And, as George Jackson shows us, we can choose where and how we will die. And as Brother Yogi Bear has shown, it is never too long to walk down that road to glory.

And we don’t need all the trappings of the rich and famous to be a lion. All we need is each other and the bold assurance that love transforms us all into the magnificent creatures that God meant us to be, even when everyone else was wondering what had become of us.

The powers that be are always out there watching and plotting to do us in, and we must be just as vigilant as they are – not because we are afraid but because we must never let them get ahead of us because we were not alert! Thank you, Brother Yogi, and to everyone: Keep alert!

Send our brother some love and light: Robert Langford, A-01157, Pontiac CC, P.O. Box 99, 700 W. Lincoln St., Pontiac IL 61764.

Stand up for the men who tried to help Yogi

by Richard Wembe Johnson, Charles Gaisi Coleman, Warren Fela Jordan, Paul Sangu Jones, Michael Vitani Spencer

I was not surprised when Shaka At-Thinnin wrote and told me that the mainstream media claimed that “Hugo Pinell was killed during a prison riot.” Of course the CDCr would put that kind of spin on it. They have to try to cover their own asses.

No! The riot ensued because Yogi was under attack. Those were prisoners who tried to come to his aid in an act of self-defense. It was cause and effect – or a reaction to an action.

It is my understanding that some of those who reacted, in an attempt to help Yogi, have themselves been charged with criminal acts as a result of their rushing to his side. If this is so, we are going to have to stand up and step forward to give those men a fighting chance to battle these false allegations in a court of law.

That means those of you outside must support these men legally, politically and financially. The community has to rally ‘round these men to stop the CDCr from giving them life sentences.

We have learned that some of these men have release dates to go home. It would be a travesty of justice if these men are made to suffer more time behind bars for defending the life of another human being. What about the right of self-defense?

We can’t allow the CDCr’s spin doctoring and cover-up through the mainstream media to color our thoughts about what really happened on that yard that day. Do not accept the CDCr’s lies. Stand up for these men. Add your voices to Shaka’s and give them your support. Help them like they tried to help Yogi.

Send our brothers some love and light: Richard Wembe Johnson, K-53293, CSP-Sac C7-106; Charles Gaisi Coleman, C-60680, CSP-Sac C7-106; Warren Fela Jordan, B-42117, CSP-Sac C7-111; Paul Sangu Jones, B-26077, CSP-Sac C7-121; Michael Vitani Spencer, E-90535, CSP-Sac C8-106. For all four, the rest of the address is P.O. Box 290066, Represa CA 95671.

To a treasure

For Yogi:

To a treasure, a gift and a blessing. It was and is an honor, my brother and friend, to have learned from you, because of you …

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.

Love from all of us,


Send our brother some love and light: Michael Zaharibu Dorrough, D-83611, CSP-Cor 4B-1R-41, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212. This message was sent on behalf of Zaharibu, his cellmate, Jabari Scott and the rest of the NCTT Cor-SHU team, Kambui Robinson and Heshima Denham.

Yogi motivated me

by William Upchurch

I write this letter on behalf of my murdered comrade, Hugo Pinell. I’m 67 years old and have been incarcerated in the bowels of California prisons since 1969, from Oakland.

I’m very familiar with many of the fallen comrades your latest edition mentions – W.L. Nolan and others. I would like to extend my deepest, humble sorrow and sincere respect to Sister Allegra Taylor, daughter of my personal comrade Hugo.

We went through a lot behind these walls. This man and brother motivated me and taught me the true value of real education. Without it, life is a dead end street. He is sadly and seriously missed.

I want the world to know and understand I have in my heart a whole lot of love and respect for this man, comrade, brother – and friend.

Send our brother some love and light: William Upchurch, B-24406, HDSP B2-114L, P.O. Box 3030, Susanville CA 96127.