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On FLEA Days, Tupac Shakur, Baltimore, Kwanzaa, women-comrades and the revolutionary experience of Black August ... Kasim O. Gero is currently housed as an inmate at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup, Maryland. The unedited answers to these questions are his added consent to this interview and dissemination of information in alignment with the mission of George Jackson University.
There’s a growing national consensus that, as Attorney General Eric Holder stated in August, “too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason.” Despite the heavy toll that mass incarceration exacts every day and in countless ways on many American communities the topic attracts remarkably little consistent coverage in the mainstream media.
Sept. 9, 2013, marks the 42th anniversary of the prison uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York. Forty-two men, mostly inmates, were killed in the armed retaking of the prison under the orders of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. I was there, as one of the “observers” specifically requested by the inmates. We tried to negotiate a peaceful, non-violent settlement of the dispute.
On the 20th anniversary of the demise of my father, Fred Ali Batin Sr., the 18th anniversary of the Maafa Commemoration San Francisco Bay Area – the Ritual Sunday is Oct. 13, 2013; see http://maafasfbayarea.com/ – and approximately the 60th day of the hunger strike to end the inhuman conditions in California’s Security Housing Units or SHUs, I just want to pause and reflect.
The Re-Examining the Lucasville Uprising Conference, held April 19-21 in Columbus, Ohio, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Lucasville Uprising, was a resounding success by all reports. “A strong and vibrant coalition has come together to advocate for innocence of those convicted in the aftermath of the uprising,” reports Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio, one of the organizers.
Mumia Abu-Jamal writes that on Sept. 9, 1971, prisoners at Attica state prison in upstate New York rebelled, took hostages and demanded to be treated as men. And the state, under orders of then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, unleashed a hail of bullets that killed dozens of men – prisoners and prison guards alike – and then lied about it. The Correctional Association has called for Attica to be shut down, as it remains a grim symbol of expensive, brutal failure. If it does, it’ll be 41 years too late. [Watch the excellent video on Attica by Freedom Archives posted with this story.]
Sept. 9 marks 40 years since the uprising at Attica State Prison in upstate New York and the deadly and sadistic retaking of the prison – and mass torture of hundreds of prisoners all the rest of the day and night and beyond – by state police and prison guards on the morning of Sept. 13, 1971. Attica and its aftermath exposed the powder kegs ready to explode inside the U.S. prisons.
From Sept. 9 to 13, 1971, prisoners took control of the Attica Correctional Facility. They made a series of demands to prison administrators and held about 40 people as hostages. After four days of fruitless negotiations, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller ordered that the prison be retaken; 39 people were killed in a 15-minute assault by state police.
On Feb. 10, 2011, I arrived at Attica for the third time during my 40 year incarceration. As soon as I entered the reception room, I heard a correctional officer announce to all the other prisoners: “What you heard about Attica is true. We don’t care what you do to each other, but if any of you touch one of us, we will put you in the hospital or worse … Welcome to Attica!”
Against the background of the mass revolutionary Black power and prisoners’ movements in the U.S., a four day revolt began on Sept. 13, 1971, at the Attica Correctional Facility near Buffalo, N.Y. Its repression killed 39 people. When George Jackson, Black Panther and political prisoner, was murdered at San Quentin by the guards on Aug. 21, 1971, his book “Soledad Brother” was being passed from prisoner to prisoner and tensions were running mounting. A prisoners’ rights movement was growing.