by United KAGE Brothers William E. Brown, Terryance Smith, Anthony Rivas, Repurt Roe and Jay Burton
“Don’t be shocked when I say that I was in prison. You’re still in prison. That’s what America means: prison.” – Malcolm X, “Message to the Grassroots”
Revolutionary greetings! We come before you all in warrior spirit striving to maintain consistent resistance against corporate imperialism. And it’s because of our united front inside and outside, both on a national and international scale, that we’ve been able to bear witness to some profound victory laps.
It’s only been a few months since our prison strike took place throughout the United States. Although many of our brothers and sisters have made reports of being arbitrarily subjected to reprisals, I assure you that our small “KAGE cadre” in California hasn’t faltered but is standing firm against injustice and broken promises since the agreement known as Ashker v. Governor intended to end indefinite long-term solitary confinement.
Nor have we half stepped in holding the courts responsible for allowing CDCr to hold up what the voters made clear: abolish long-term sentencing. Let’s go back to simple crime and punishment and let’s even clarify what’s violent and non-violent, according to the California and U.S. Constitutions and Prop 57.
Brothers and sisters, the time is now. We must write our stories and, via articles, poems and other creative arts, promote the narrative, “Stop Mass Incarceration! End Prison Slavery” and free the land. Corporate malfeasance won’t stand a chance.
Prisoners are now seen as celebrities, even by the real celebrities. I mean Kim K. isn’t alone in this. Let’s free America and amend the 13th Amendment!
Just recently here in CSP-LAC, we witnessed another victory when both Scott Budnick, founder of ARC.org, and Leah Joki of No-Joke Theatre chose to assist our unionized concerted efforts to gain true freedom, justice and equality. In mid-May, Budnick transitioned to serve as full-time president and chief executive officer of Good Films, a film and television production company focused on developing projects that promote social, cultural and political change.
Scott plans to make movies and TV shows that change the way people across the country see people in prison, as well as change the way the masses vote. Scott has announced that our brother and former prisoner Shaka Senghor will now hold the seat as executive director of ARC.
This will allow our brand to expand from jailhouse lawyer to a full prisoners’ political action committee (PAC), being that we are in talks to establish the MLK Project within CDCr to teach prisoners the law and how to apply it as well as upholding the next phase of the Agreement to End All Hostilities via incorporating it into a feasible and universal curriculum.
Brother Shaka has shared his story, both in his New York Times best-seller, the memoir, “Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison,” and in newspaper articles, television shows, including Oprah, and lectures around the world, including through one of the most powerful TED talks of all time.
Leah Joki has been working and striving with prisoners ever since the 1980s. She’s been a strong advocate for self-education and real rehabilitation.
When she sees anyone as being arbitrary or anti-prisoner, Leah has gone so far as to make formal citizen complaints, and she too has been subjected to reprisals. With her help, our prison class now has an uncensored open window to tell our “True Tales From the Cells.”
On Nov. 7-8, 2018, due to Leah’s consistent and creative push we were allowed one more victory lap. The court has ordered 4,000 lifers to be released due to Prop 57 who were being held hostage by CDCr political chokehold.
We’ve been writing demands as far back as the hunger strikes of 2011-2013. We’ve campaigned for our anti-hostility movement, “I Contribute to Peace.” We’ve written to senators, governors, mayors, Congress members, new foundations such as William James, #cut50, Let’s Free America, Dreamchaser, Jay-Z, E-40, John Legend and others. Now they are starting to hear our call.
We invited family members, journalists, social media experts and prisoner activist supporters to visit our stage play here at CSP-LAC B-Yard on Nov. 7 and 8. The plays we performed are “A Few Good Men,” Blood Not,” “Dog Ghost,” “Odd Couple,” “Blythe,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Hamlet,” “I Look Back to May 1937,” “Atlanta,” “Cabin 12,” “True West,” “King Lear” and others. We are the stage managers, directors and actors.
Your participation allows the No-Joke Theatre to become a continuing act here at CSP-Lancaster. You can contact Community Resource Manager Erika Lake here at CSP-LAC and No-Joke Theatre CEO Leah Joki. We’ll like to hear you all say, “Keep the cameras on!”
Send our brothers some love and light:
- William E. Brown, T58106, CSP-LAC B4-229, P.O. Box 4490, Lancaster CA 93539
- Terryance Smith, F83836, CSP-LAC B5-115, P.O. Box 4490, Lancaster CA 93539
- Anthony Rivas, P56633, CSP-LAC B5-142, P.O. Box 4490, Lancaster CA 93539
- Rupert Roe, T83223, CSP-LAC B2-209, P.O. Box 4490, Lancaster CA 93539
- Jay Burton, E85733, CSP-LAC B3-205, P.O. Box 4490, Lancaster CA 93539