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As a Black Nation and prisoner class, we have come too far since the Agreement to End Hostilities and the last hunger strike of July 8, 2013, which 30,000 prisoners partook in to break the chains of our inhumane solitary confinement to allow ourselves to lose focus on the AEH and what it has done to enlighten society that we still have our humanity. But we will never change this miserable, decaying prison system or our neighborhoods if the oppressor state sees and can utilize our violent, hostile actions toward one another to show just cause to retaliate.
On Tuesday, Nov. 21, more than 100 community members gathered at the Alameda County Board of Supervisors building to demand an audit of Sheriff Gregory Ahern. “We are calling on our county officials to be vigilant and protect our taxpayer dollars,” said Darris Young, senior organizer and advocate with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. “Our Board of Supervisors have a responsibility to make sure the budget is being spent effectively to promote community safety, and continuing to increase the sheriff’s budget is not making us any safer.”
Thank you for being patient with my absence and the new method of my way in reaching out to you to discuss what we are attempting to accomplish. First and foremost, I thank God for giving us a platform to be heard to alleviate or mitigate the number of unheard voices in our concrete jungles across Alabama. People ask me, “Why do you do this? Are you a rebellion junky?” I say, “No.” This is about the men around me and the women and children incarcerated in this state and country.
California is taking a momentous step forward. The state Senate, supported by the Assembly, is moving to end bail as we know it. For as long as I have been a lawyer, “making bail” has been a requirement in our criminal justice system. The rule says you are “innocent until proven guilty.” Making bail is the first step that undermines the rule. In our system of justice, once you are arrested, you must prove your innocence. That requires money, starting with bail money.
To address some of the issues and provide relief for our trans and gender non-conforming loved ones inside – a coalition has formed to work on legislation benefiting trans prisoners. This year, the coalition is running SB 310: The Name and Dignity Act for Incarcerated Trans People. SB 310 is crucial to the safety and well-being of trans people. If passed, SB 310 would give dignity to people experiencing extreme dehumanization.
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.
No one is more knowledgeable about the lasting damage solitary confinement can cause than the tens of thousands of men, women and children experiencing it today. Building on the activism of these individuals, communities around the country are coming together to demand an end to long-term solitary confinement through public events and actions on the 23rd of each month in recognition of the 23 hours per day those in solitary confinement are confined to their cells.
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 it can do to identify and promulgate a new path for the City on how it will create quantifiable change in the San Francisco County Jail and Youth Detention Center’s disproportionate incarceration of African American and Hispanic men, women and youth. Vote for John Robinson for Sheriff on Nov. 3, 2015!
The California department of prisons threatened, muzzled and defamed a top medical officer at San Quentin for blowing the whistle on its shoddy mental health care, the doctor claims in court. Dr. Christopher S. Wadsworth, former chief psychiatrist and medical director of San Quentin State Prison, claims the state and 10 prison officials retaliated against him for a March 2014 memo on constitutionally inadequate conditions that continue today.
With President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration and the mass protests throughout the country against the grand jury acquittals of police officers Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo for the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, it is more important than ever for Black and Latino communities to confront racism and the oppressive structures that deny our fundamental humanity and divide us into those who are worthy of justice and those who are not.
On Nov. 4, California voters passed criminal justice reform measure Proposition 47. Proposition 47 changes the lowest level drug possession and petty theft crimes from felonies to simple misdemeanors for some people. Although re-sentencing is not guaranteed, up to 10,000 people in California’s prisons and jails will be eligible for resentencing, and newly sentenced individuals who meet the requirements will be under county jurisdiction.
It has been two years since our Agreement to End Hostilities was released in October 2012, and we continue to stand united. While there have been a few conflicts here and there, we need to commit to ceasing all racial hostilities towards one another and remain peacefully united throughout all prison facilities. By re-reading and re-committing ourselves to the Agreement to End Hostilities, we are taking back control of our own lives and our own futures.
In regards to the prison censorship issue, I am just chiming in to let it be known that it isn’t a “nudity” thing (the California Department of Corrections’ new censorship regulations are disguised under the title “Obscene Material” – ed.); it’s a Black-Latino thing, period! I’m not in prison, I’m in County Jail 5 in San Francisco, and it has even trickled down this far. Here we are not allowed to receive magazines that are most favored by Blacks or Latinos.
Men at Calipatria on general population yards A, B and C can show the same courage as the hunger strikers, who are honored around the world, by pledging to respect the Agreement to End Hostilities and stop all fighting and riots between racial groups. The Agreement must continue to hold within all California prisons and unity needs to spread across the state. Only then can justice be won.
In mid-June, Gov. Brown signed the Budget Act of 2015, which shows no vision for the future of most Californians. In total, this budget underestimated the amount of resources available, overestimated the cost of vital programs, and chose spending on debt service, rainy day funds and prisons instead of the people of California and the vital services they need.
The next screening of the Black Riders documentary, ‘Let Um Hear Ya Coming,’ is Thursday, Oct. 3, 6:30 p.m., at La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. The event also features the Conscious Roots Music Showcase, with performances by E Da Ref, Askari Mwari, Jah Wave, Fly Benzo and Ms. Incredible, Audiomatic, DJ 8 and DJ Cuba.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s just-proposed plan to ease overcrowding in California prisons without releasing inmates early has drawn quick opposition from prison reform activists across the state and has spawned an alternative approach from a contingent of moderate and liberal Democrats in the state legislature, creating an unusual rift among senior Democrats in the age-old incarceration-rehabilitation divide.
Ultimately, this is a peaceful movement to assert our humanity. Differences in race, sets and associations matter not. Each of us is ultimately responsible for maintaining and preserving our own self-respect. We hope that as comrades you will help lift each other up as you come to realize that the same oppressor oppresses us all!
It’s vital that the End to Hostilities holds for all races and groups. We call on prisoners nationwide to draft up their own demands, tailored to their own individual institutional needs, to be served on CDCR and their prison wardens – I would get started on them now. We are giving CDCR a deadline to meet all of the demands, or else we are going to resume our peaceful hunger strike and work stoppage starting on July 8, 2013. All U.S. prisoners are asked to pick up the flag of solidarity and join us.
Finally! After three years and countless petitions, letters, phone calls, votes, revotes and two vetoes, Gov. Brown has signed AB 2530, a bill that bans the most egregious forms of shackling of pregnant women in California’s state prisons, juvenile detention facilities and county jails. It’s now in all our hands to STOP SHACKLING PREGNANT WOMEN!
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