Hugo Antonio Lyon Martinez Pinell, March 10, 1944-Aug. 12, 2015: In your absence

by Allegra Taylor

In your absence

Allegra-Taylor-daughter-Hugo-Yogi-Pinell-New-Folsom-080215-web-cropped-300x247, Hugo Antonio Lyon Martinez Pinell, March 10, 1944-Aug. 12, 2015: In your absence, Abolition Now!
Hugo “Yogi” Pinell and his daughter, Allegra Taylor, treasure a visit at New Folsom Prison. Their love will forever radiate from this photo and one other, taken 13 days before his assassination on Aug. 15, 2015.

I am forced to accept the truth: You are not here with us. It’s been a two-year roller coaster ride; I have been up, down and all around with my emotions, as well as my thoughts. Tears stream down my face, and sometimes with a smile, when I am in deep thought of how much love you gave to me – and I miss that.

In your absence

I have been angry enough to want to SHOUT to the mountains about the torture and corruption you experienced at the hands of them who held you captive for 51 years. It is in that moment when my emotions are at a boiling point, I can hear the words you spoke to me of what I might experience in the future. I then become quiet and I close my eyes to regroup, because it is your legacy I represent.

In your absence

I wait for justice to be rendered in a broken system that I know didn’t give a damn about you. I show up in court every time there is a date scheduled, and when I am there I am waiting and wondering, when will we see justice? Each time I go to court to represent your legacy, I am haunted by the thoughts of the inhumane, torturous conditions that you lived and died in for 51 years. It takes all of my strength to keep my emotions under control, and it is only by the grace of God that I am able to manage.

In your absence

I had to find a way to continue on without you. I am left with a void that can only be filled with the memories we shared. I had to learn how to live in the moment as I am still able to receive the love you gave me through Grandmother Marina, my Tio and the family. I had to learn how to forget about the plans we had for the future, and this has been the hardest thing to do. The best part of our time was the dreams we had for the future.

In your absence

I had to find my place in this fight for justice. I have found my voice and I am committed to continuing your legacy of love for the people. I am unapologetic as to who you were. I will not allow you to be remembered only by the premise of what they said you were. I come to understand fully the fight you were in for prisoners’ rights and the revolutionary work you lived, fought and died for: the Nicaraguan Revolutionary who became a member of the Black Liberation Movement because of what it stood for.

In your absence

I will always love you, I will always honor you, I will always have you in my heart, I will always miss you, I will always speak up for the prisoners, fight for family members, support the community, work to change policy. I will be one of the voices for the voiceless.

In your absence

I will do the following in your memory: I will protest, I will march, I will fight for the rights of prisoners, I will be a voice on the outside, I will support the family members of prisoners. They may have killed the Nicaraguan Revolutionary, but the spirit of the REVOLUTION will NEVER die.

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.

“It is our duty to win.

“We must love each other and support each other.

“We have nothing to lose but our chains.” – Assata Shakur

From a statement sent by Hugo Pinell to the California Coalition for Women Prisoners in 2013:

“In 1967, when I joined the liberation movement in San Quentin, one of the goals was to build a new man, the way Brother Malcolm X showed we could. We don’t know how long it will take to create that new, beautiful world. It might take generations. But if we continually work at it and try to create the new man in ourselves, we can achieve a personal freedom. I go through different changes to stay human, for I will never get used to isolation and deprivation.” – Hugo L.A. Pinell, aka Yogi

Allegra Taylor is the only child of hero and martyr Hugo Pinell. She can be reached at