Tags Albert Woodfox
Tag: Albert Woodfox
Given the trajectory of 2014 regarding Black lives, perhaps February would be a great time to reflect on what bell hooks calls “the love ethic,” a principle Dr. King embodied and preached. Langston Hughes would have been 116 on Feb. 1 (his mother, Carrie Langston, was born Jan. 22, 1873). Albert Woodfox will be 68 on Feb. 19. Hopefully he will be eating cake under some sunny sky, a freed man by then.
As we move into the next solar return, there is much to look forward to despite the stasis that seems to infect this nation with the disease of white supremacy or racial domination. OK OK, perhaps the silver lining is a bit too buried to find Osumare’s twinkle beyond any pots of gold you’ve stumbled upon recently. The knowledge that no matter how it looks, the Creator is in charge and the bad guys just look like they are always winning is what sustains us.
In Louisiana, a federal appeals court has affirmed a lower court’s ruling that overturned the murder conviction of Albert Woodfox, the last member of the Angola 3 still in prison. The Angola 3 are internationally recognized as political prisoners and symbols of a racist system of mass incarceration and solitary confinement. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Robert King, the other surviving Angola 3 member. Here’s that interview.
The International Coalition to Free the Angola 3 declared today: “This is THE moment those of us whose lives have been touched by these men and this case over the years have been waiting for. This is the time when we must call upon the whole of our connections, creativity and courage to call with one voice for the immediate, unequivocal release of Albert Woodfox from prison once and for all without delay.”
The names represented in this article are just the “known” political prisoners and no disrespect to any brothas and sistas left off the list. The purpose of the list is to illustrate the current plight of our movement’s political prisoners, who, despite surviving countless hostile encounters with the state’s security forces, are on the verge of succumbing to old age and infirmities behind the walls and gun towers of the empire’s Prison Industrial Complex.
Her name was Yuri, a Japanese woman born in the United States. I hesitate to call her a Japanese-American, for to do so suggests she was a citizen. In light of how she, her family and her community were treated during World War II, especially after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, to call any of them citizens would be an exaggeration. Yuri Kochiyama, freedom fighter, after 93 summers, has become an ancestor.
The play “Every Five Minutes” by Scottish writer Linda McLean is an unique look into the effects of solitary confinement on a man named Mo – recently released after 13 years behind bars. Captured by insurgents, he was tortured, denied contact with family or others outside of his captors. The effects of this deprivation are one disorientated man whom we meet at his coming out dinner.
Russell Maroon Shoatz is out of solitary confinement! Hugo Pinnell had his first contact visit in 40 years last weekend. Kiilu Nyasha announced this wonderful news at a reception following the second public hearing on solitary confinement called by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Feb. 11.
Last Tuesday, Jan. 7, a crowd of supporters gathered in the bitter cold in New Orleans’ Lafayette Square outside the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to show their support for Angola 3 inmate Albert Woodfox. Woodfox has been held in solitary confinement – or what the state of Louisiana calls “Closed Cell Restriction” – for 42 years. By most estimates, 42 years is the longest any prisoner has been held in isolation.
“Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas” by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker (2013) is part visionary road map, part post-traumatic Katrina therapy, and part poetic love ode/lament to our city. One chapter addresses systems of containment – levees and prisons. In Angola, jailhouse lawyers organized voting blocks of outside allies to push for prison reform and to have decades-long solitary confinement declared cruel and unusual punishment.
Most of us know of the famed Angola 3, Black Panthers who organized a real branch of the Black Panther Party in the infamous Angola Prison in Louisiana. Robert King Wilkinson, the late Herman Hook Wallace and Albert Woodfox taught other men there about Black History, politics and Black Panther history. One such man is Kenny “Zulu” Whitmore. Zulu has spent a total of 35 years in solitary confinement, principally for his political beliefs.
Amnesty International has announced that, for the first time, it has put a U.S. prisoner on the list of 10 cases that it will ask people around the world to advocate for in their Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon on International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10. The U.S. prisoner is 68-year-old Albert Woodfox, the final member of the Angola 3 still in solitary confinement in a Louisiana state prison.
The movement is growing and we can’t let setbacks blind us from recognizing the progress that’s been made nor keep us from being inspired by that progress as we push the final distance towards the abolition of caging humans and the freeing of Albert Woodfox, the only member of the Angola 3 still in prison, and other political prisoners from decades in solitary.
The Angola 3 say they were framed and held in solitary confinement for founding a chapter of the Black Panther Party in the Angola State Prison. But, says supporters Marina Drummer: "There was absolutely no evidence whatsoever. All there was was conflicting eyewitness reports and a prison administration that was determined to stop Herman and Albert from organizing in the prison."
Herman Wallace’s greatest pride was joining the Black Panther Party for Self Defense! He believed in duty, honor and dedication. He never broke the faith of the party, his comrades or the people. As I bent to kiss his forehead, my heart said, “Goodbye, I love you forever”; my soul said, “Separated but never apart, never touching, but always connected.” He was the best of us. As long as we remember him, he lives on.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez today called on the United States to immediately end the indefinite solitary confinement imposed on Albert Woodfox since 1972. Mr. Woodfox was convicted of murder together with Herman Wallace, who was released last week when his conviction was overturned on appeal. A day later, Mr. Wallace died after battling cancer, having spent 41 years in solitary confinement.
This morning we lost without a doubt the biggest, bravest and brashest personality in the political prisoner world. On Oct. 4, 2013, Herman Wallace, an icon of the modern prison reform movement and an innocent man, died a free man after spending an unimaginable 41 years in solitary confinement. Herman spent the last four decades of his life fighting against all that is unjust in the criminal justice system, making international the inhuman plight that is long term solitary confinement and struggling to prove that he was an innocent man.
We have entered many battles as comrades, won some, lost a few, but have survived them all. But from this most recent battle that we have undertaken, one of us will not return. The Ancestors have made the call to come home to our beloved senior comrade. What can we do but heed their call? Even if you are late, the Black Panther Party will meet you at that gate, and when you get home, roam, old Panther, roam.
Herman Wallace, stalwart revolutionary for the cause of justice, lies with advanced liver cancer in hospice in a Louisiana state prison. Amazing that even in his final hours, minutes, seconds, days, the Louisiana judicial system which has already conceded to bail will not set it and let the man at least have a taste of freedom. Fill out the petition for Herman Wallace’s immediate release. We also need to rally behind Albert Woodfox and secure his freedom. Send prayers and positive energy to Herman’s friends and family, especially Robert H. King and Albert Woodfox, his brothers.
Several years ago, the global human rights group Amnesty International issued an extraordinary appeal to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to grant compassionate release to 72-year-old former Black Panther and political prisoner Herman Wallace, who has recently been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, after losing some 50 pounds in less than six months.