Aug. 19 at 11:00 a.m., courageous and loving folks in San Jose, Calif., joined with sister marches and rallies throughout the country in support of prisoners’ human rights and amending the 13th. Their courage is found in the rejection of an institution so prevalent and insidious that any criticism can bring a mountain of ridicule and judgment. It is an institution shielded by a centuries old narrative that tells people, “They are not like us,” and consequently, “they” are undeserving of our humanity.
We find ourselves in a moment with a great deal at stake. Our communities are fighting to define and create sanctuary spaces, while enduring a dangerous presidential administration that has emboldened white supremacist and xenophobic action. The Trump agenda has caused increased harassment, fear and even death. In the movement for abolition of policing, imprisonment, surveillance and the entire prison industrial complex, now is our time to be bold.
Ayodele Nzinga’s “Mama at Twilight: Death by Love” is a haunting look at a family crippled by circumstances. How does a man prepare for adult responsibilities when his father is nowhere around? When a young Marie-Rose meets Mario Jefferson at 15 doing community service at her father’s church, she knows he is the man she wants to spend her life with. Three grown children later, Mama still loves the man she fell in love with and has no regrets over its costly price or the raised eyebrows and whispers that sought to sanction her.
The Auset Movement: Loving Humanity into Wholeness reluctantly celebrated its one year anniversary today, Sunday, Dec. 25. The group, made up of concerned citizens, have been serving hot meals once a month since Christmas last year. If there is a holiday, we show up that day with hot breakfast, today, the menu was Wanda Ravernell’s homefries, Jovelyn’s delight – fresh greens, Tobaji’s beans and rice, Kwalin’s sausage and pumpkin spice bread.
Looking back at the Black Panther Party is like looking at a large landscape of people, locations and events in time and space. For me, that time was between the years 1966 and 1974. As memory fades increasingly with age, I won’t try to document in detail specifics such as the names of people and the exact dates of events. However, I do remember working with some of the most dynamic, resourceful and dedicated community organizers on the planet.
Sept. 9, 2016, is the day that many people in America are wholeheartedly organizing, mobilizing, taking action, standing and locking arms in solidarity against what we know as prison slave labor – yes, legalized slavery – and people are saying, “No more!” Even though there are many taking action and answering the call to cure this particular ill of society, there is an overwhelmingly larger portion of the U.S. population who are absolutely clueless to the fact that slavery still exists.
Basic logic dictates it is the community who should be vested with the power to parole, pardon or grant clemency to those who, in their determination, would have a positive impact on their communities and society as a whole if released. This is a concept developed by George Jackson University known as strategic release. To this end, we are announcing our campaign to develop – and establish nationally – New Afrikan Community Parole, Pardon and Clemency Review Board.
Sometime in the early 19th century, former United States President Thomas Jefferson stated, “Unchecked power twisted white men’s characters.” Since he was a slave owner and an oppressor, he should know what he speaks about! Here in the early 21st century, it still seems that within the hands of America’s criminal justice system as a whole, unchecked power has indeed “twisted” certain white people’s characters.
The majority of employees at La Palma Correctional Center who work on Compound 3 fit the description of a Security Threat Group due to their unlawful conduct, but who investigates them or makes them answerable? Certainly not themselves. Yet I am being targeted for my work; a work that was created to build a constructive Humanity; while these prison officials are rewarded for work that assaults the very fabric that makes us human and seeks to destroy lives.
Does being convicted of a crime forfeit all your rights as a human being? Does being railroaded through a clearly unjust, unequal and racist judicial system forfeit your human rights? Guilty or not, I am still a person. I am a human being. We need people to understand that the struggle for human rights, the struggle to be free and not murdered by the state or its agents doesn’t stop at the prison gates.
Dr. Léopold Munyakazi is a Rwandan intellectual and former Goucher College French professor who expected to be deported from the U.S. to Rwanda on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. His attorney, Ofelia L. Calderón, had filed legal papers requesting a stay until his appeal could be heard in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, but the stay had been denied and his wife had been told to deliver a suitcase of no more than 40 pounds to the jail by 4 p.m. on Friday.
Since my release in October 1981, my deepest commitment in life has been to fight for the full restoration of civil and human rights of formerly incarcerated people and for those who have the current misfortune of occupying cages. It is through this lens that I attempt to come to grips with the tragic murder of Hugo Pinell and its possible ramifications.
Californians United for a Responsible Budget filed an appeal challenging the environmental report put out by the SF Planning Department regarding the proposed construction of a jail at 855 Bryant St. as insufficient. A central concern for opponents of the jail is that the planners of the project did not seriously assess the high likelihood of displacing people in 14 Single Resident Occupancy (SRO) units living at 480-484 Sixth St.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, especially those dads who stayed the course, when walking away would have been so much easier, even expected. Happy Father’s Day to the OGs who have grown more responsible with age. It is never too late to do better, even if you missed a generation – grace is that second chance. Congrats to all the May-June graduates, especially my niece and nephew Wilda Batin and Wilfred Batin.
On Dec. 9, 2014, I visited with Mr. Juan Méndez, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, who is now an expert on our class action lawsuit to end solitary confinement torture here in California. Hopefully, it will have a ripple effect across the U.S. I gave him a living experience witnessed from its opening in late December 1989 to the present under its “snitch, parole or die” mass validation and indeterminate SHU torture classification and enhanced coerced debriefing.
Dr. King devoted his life to struggle. The end of his career was characterized by a devout rejection of militarism, economic inequality, racism and imperialism. Yet state sponsored commemorations on MLK Day have consistently left out this narrative. In our first post-Ferguson MLK weekend, people around the country mobilized to honor Dr. King’s legacy the way he would have wanted it – through massive demonstrations, direct actions and shutdowns.
On the final day of our May trip to Palestine we visited the Abu Jihad Museum for Prisoners Movement Affairs in the brilliant sunlight of Jerusalem. The simultaneous visit to Bethlehem of a Pope who paid respect to the Palestinian right to self-determination was nice enough. But the very thought of such an institution alone astounded me. Neither a “dead” museum nor a bourgeois one in the conventional style of Europe, the fact of its existence in Palestine exhilarated me.
Cindy Cristal Gonzalez and Valeska Castaneda Gutierrez are young mothers and college students, deeply proud of their ancestral roots and motivated to help their people. The two worked together with a network of activists, and on Tuesday, July 22, they put their plan into action: mothers and their children walking 300 miles for 30 days to the border to draw attention to the mass deportations, imprisonment and suffering of our people.
From Palestine to California, prisoners are organizing to end torture in prison and prison as a form of repression of popular movements and poor communities of color. Members of IJAN have been following and supporting the organizing of California prisoners, who are prepared to go on indefinite hunger strike starting July 8 to demand an end to long-term solitary confinement and other abuses.
The Clean Lounge, a clean and sober space located in Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco, was full of Fired Up! women and supporters, family and friends.There was so much collective healing wisdom in the room. Fired Up! is an insider-outsider grassroots network founded by CCWP former prisoners that meets weekly in the San Francisco County Jail.
12Page 1 of 2