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I caught up with Aaron Patterson’s lawyer, attorney Demitrus Evans, to get the story firsthand. This will be the first in a series of stories that I am working on to expose the cases of current day Black political prisoners in this country, because it is very important that our people know the truth about how this government deals with the people who truly do work on behalf of our empowerment.
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.
On July 8, 2013, 30,000 prisoners of the California prison system – and hundreds more across the United States – refused meals to take a stand about the conditions of prisoners in the various forms of solitary isolation – approximately 14,000 human beings in California alone. It was the third hunger strike in California in two years. Dozens of prisoners deprived themselves of solid food for 60 days. One prisoner died.
The CDCR is proposing new regulations on “security threat groups” or “gangs,” which will be implemented after a regular public hearing, to be held on April 3. The Step Down Program, which CDCR has been executing as a pilot program, is apparently being added to CDCR’s vast number of regulations. The implementation of the official Step Down Program comes while a second legislative hearing on Feb. 11 has been organized.
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.
When the concept of Black August manifested in 1979, many thought it was simply a focus group protest growing out of the avoidable death of Khatari Gaulden on Aug. 1, 1978, in the San Quentin prison infirmary. Survival for Africans in California’s prison population of 20,000 inmates had to that point been recognized by some as a bit more than problematic.
2013 marks the 43rd anniversary of Black August, first organized to honor our fallen freedom fighters, George and Jonathan Jackson, James McClain, William Christmas, Khatari Gaulden and sole survivor of the Aug. 7, 1970, Courthouse Slave Rebellion, Ruchell Cinque Magee. During these four decades, we’ve witnessed a steady revision of the meaning of Black August and its inherent ideology.
I’m delighted to report the rally for Yogi Bear was just wonderful. Headlined “49 Years of Injustice: Release Hugo Pinell,” decrying Yogi’s 49 years in prison, 43 years in solitary confinement and 23 years in the infamous Pelican Bay SHU (Security Housing Unit), the rally was held Sunday, June 9, 4 p.m., at Freedom Archives, 518 Valencia, San Francisco.
I’m thankful to Wanda and the Bay View. We all are. I love the world that Wanda takes me to, because it exists outside of the typical realm of negativity that swamps the prison environment. The Bay View is a necessary tool for prisoners, and I urge anybody who has a subscription to get subscriptions for others who may not be able to get it for themselves. Because who knows, you just may be in a position to save a life too.
Beginning with a rally held on the capitol steps, it was an emotional day for many, especially for family members of those suffering in the SHUs and prison survivors. The voices of those in the SHU were powerfully present, both in stories told by family members as well as statements they had sent for the occasion. The hearing provided an opportunity for legislators to hear representatives of CDCR present their new policies and weigh the truth of their claims. At the end there was a scant 20 minutes for public input.
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!
After 12 years I have finally made it to a halfway house. Through my entire struggle behind the walls, your paper has played a major part in my political and cultural awareness. I could not have done it without you. My mission is to become a success story by giving recidivism a black eye and preventing these younger brothers from contributing to genocide as I once did when I was young and unpoliticized.
You cannot bury thousands of human beings under conditions that amount to torture – and you cannot leave it up to the torturer to establish the criteria for what constitutes torture. They never see anything wrong with what they do even when violating the law and the humanity of people. The STG policy makes it easier for CDCR to confine us to their dungeons.
This year marks the 33rd anniversary of Black August, the annual commemoration of the liberation struggle of African people inside the United States. The month of celebration and reflection was initiated by political prisoners, many of whom were members of the Black Panther Party and the Republic of New Africa, two of the main revolutionary organizations that emerged during the late 1960s.
Aug. 21, 2012, marks the 41st anniversary of the rebellion at San Quentin prison that ended in the assassination of Comrade George Jackson. The rebellion came to be known as Black August. At the time of his death at age 29, George Jackson was the best known prison revolutionary in the United States and field marshal of the Black Panther Party.
CDCR state operatives have criminalized the historical-cultural legacy of Black August under the false pretense of it being a BGF (Black Guerrilla Family) prison gang concept that promotes violence against CDCR’s state operatives. Black August is not a prison gang concept, and it definitely does not entail the promotion of any violence!
Black August is a month of reflection on the losses that we as a people have suffered. It is a month of high elation and extreme sorrow – elation for our resistance, sorrow for our losses. For me, the three most significant events of August are Jonathan Jackson’s raid on the Marin County Courthouse in 1970, the August 1971 liberation of the San Quentin Adjustment Center by Comrade George Jackson and Nat Turner’s slave uprising.
On the morning of Tuesday, June 19, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights is having an important public hearing on “Reassessing Solitary Confinement.” This Senate hearing comes on the heels of widespread prisoner hunger strikes that have made the use of solitary confinement a central issue.
Most people do not know enough about the Black Panther Party, which was founded at Merritt College in Oakland in October of 1966 by Minister of Defense Huey P. Newton and Chairman Bobby Seale. This happening is important to Black history nationally and worldwide because the Panthers were and are an example of Black people fighting for self-determination no matter the cost.
If we would have been self-transforming for the last 60, 50 years, there would not be millions of new slaves today and we would have the power to be making an impact and difference toward the building of the New World. Our teachers kept saying: “No matter what, we gotta keep pushing and growing. It’s the only way to continue our growth and become free.”