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Our hope is that Gov. Newsom will extend the equity and justice informed lens that brought him to stop the death penalty as he moves forward examining other forms of extreme sentencing in California, including Life Without the Possibility of Parole.
The Poor People’s Campaign is all about the oppressed citizens of this nation – making the connection between the working proletariat and the lumpen proletariat. This will close the gap between the working poor and the non-working poor, who share common interests, such as affordable housing, affordable health care, adequate educational institutions, adequate wages that provide a standard of living that’s suitable for a human being. Once we bring the lower class together by successfully campaigning around our shared human rights, then we can bring an end to such exploitations as mass incarceration, the death penalty, homelessness and poverty.
I answered the call Aug. 21, 2018, and put together a hunger strike team. My name was released on the local WTOL News as one of the protesters with the Nation of Islam, who showed their support by hitting the parking lot entrance with banners to protest mass incarceration and prison slavery. A plot to kill me and poison my food by an officer was exposed. But I’m hard to kill. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
Cal Shakes’ stunning production of “The War of the Roses” by Eric Ting and Philippa Kelly, directed by Eric Ting, continues through Sept. 15. It is an amazing adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy and Richard III. I was not intimidated when I learned that the show was about four hours long. However, I did approach my seat cautiously and, at intermission, when I looked at my watch, I could hardly believe two hours had passed. I loved it. The time literally flew by.
On May 4, former Black Panther Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald agreed to a five-year denial of parole instead of insisting on a parole hearing, even though he has served more time than any former Black Panther still behind bars: 49 years. Chip is now 67 years old and living with the consequences of a stroke; his friends and family fear he will die in prison. He has been moved from one state prison to another over the years and is currently in the California State Prison-Los Angeles. I spoke to his lawyer, Charles Carbone, whose office is in San Francisco.
On April 26, former Black Panther Herman Bell was released from prison in New York State after 45 years. That leaves at least 10 surviving members of the Black Panther Party behind bars, including Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, who is currently held at the California State Prison-Los Angeles. His next parole hearing is scheduled for May 4. I spoke to his friend Arthur League, a former Panther who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Most of the dialogue regarding sentencing reform centers on nonviolent offenses. Yet it is not necessary to limit reforms to those convicted of nonviolent or minor offenses. In order to truly address our nation’s prison problem, policymakers should also substantially revise policies affecting those serving long sentences, including life with and without parole. There are important legal, moral, fiscal and public safety reasons to do so.
Imagine for a moment the faces, emotions and mind-set of teenagers and/or young adults from all walks of life who suddenly find, as I had, that because you are closely associated with someone or provided something to someone who committed murder, you too, under the law, are now just as responsible for capital murder without ever having such intent or a clue that anyone would be seriously injured or killed.
In 2017, Federal District Court Judge Charles Breyer denied the habeas appeal of DeWayne Ewing, an innocent man, based on the timeliness of his appeal rather than on the facts of the case, because of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), passed in 1996 – the Senate voted 91-8 – and signed by Bill Clinton. Part of the way Congress tried to make the death penalty “more effective” was to limit the ability of prisoners to appeal, especially to have multiple appeals.
The following message is from a group of prisoners who are spread throughout the Florida Department of Corrections. It was sent anonymously and compiled from a series of letters received on Nov. 26 and 27. According to their statement, these prisoners plan to initiate a work stoppage or “laydown” beginning Monday, Jan. 15, coinciding with Martin Luther King Day, in nonviolent protest of conditions in Florida prisons. They are calling it Operation PUSH.
So tell your little neo-fascist friends – who have no life outside of what revolves around these prison plantations – that they’re right. As long as we have sick individuals who have lost touch with their own sense of humanity, who play with and destroy our lives, who refuse to see us as human beings deserving of respect, I’m going to keep on so-called snitching! Now, go tell, gossip, chat about that!
Soon the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a case with the potential to end this nation’s abominably long and freakish experimentation with the death penalty. That’s right, drum roll, please. Because, if it grants certiorari in Hidalgo v. Arizona – a case Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe describes as emblematic of “the problems with our [country’s] current capital punishment regimes” – America’s broken and vile “machinery of death” can finally be trashed in the junkyard of our dark, wayward humanity. Implore the Supreme Court to wipe capital punishment’s bloody stain away. Forever.
The top prosecutor in Orlando, Florida, took to a podium outside the Orange County courthouse last week to outline a new policy: Her office would no longer seek the death penalty in any capital case. The prosecutor, State Attorney Aramis Ayala, told assembled reporters that seeking the death penalty is “not in the best interests of this community or in the interest of justice.” Ayala’s decision to stop seeking the death penalty was bound to be controversial. But the announcement has kicked off a fire storm.
When a person dies, the living find it hard sometimes to carry on. The loss of a loved one is something one never gets over, and when the death is violent and the victim young, the bitterness is that much harder to swallow. In Patricia Milton’s new play, “Without Mercy,” closing this weekend, Thursday-Saturday, March 23 and 25, 8 p.m., at the Off Broadway West Theatre Company, we meet a grieving mother and daughter, Joanna Parks and Bethany Matthews.
Last June, an inspiring and thought provoking art exhibition took place in London, in the UK. From June 24 to July 6, 2016, approximately 20 inmates from San Quentin’s death row showcased their work alongside mine; I make collages and sculptures from discarded objects I pick up along the banks of the River Thames. The name of the exhibition was ArtReach (reaching out with art), and the aim of it was to enable prisoners to share their work with the outside world.
In a society where peaceful resistance is purported to be the correct method of protest, we must ask ourselves why these thousands of prisoners, engaging in peaceful methods of protest, are being retaliated against and punished in the most brutal and inhumane ways? The answer is simple. The actions of these courageous prisoners – however peaceful – are not constitutionally protected.
I spend countless hours reading and scanning alternative newspapers, journals and magazines that provide a platform for prisoners who write. I don’t see many revolutionary essays or articles being written by female Texas prisoners. I know you all can’t be content with the conditions you are being housed under, and I know for a fact you are not being given the dignity and respect you deserve. So I must ask: “Why aren’t we hearing from you?”
The Community Coalition Concerned for Black Life convened a town hall-style meeting with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at the historic Olivet Institutional Baptist Church on Cleveland’s majority Black east side on Saturday, March 5. Organizers said that the overall purpose of the meeting at Olivet was to discuss issues affecting the Black community and how Sanders would address such issues if ultimately elected president.
In the wake of the brutal police execution of Mario Woods by San Francisco police in Bayview Hunters Point, many are asking where is California state Attorney General Kamala Harris? She was elected with the hope and expectation, naive as it may be, that she of all people would be out there weighing in and demanding justice for Mario. Sadly Harris has thus far been pretty much absent from the fight.