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Speech delivered at the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March Aug. 19, 2017, in Washington, D.C.: Let me tell you what’s going on here today. This is the largest gathering of slavery abolitionists in the history of the United States, happening right here today. In 16 cities across America, they are marching in unison with us and in solidarity with us, and they’re not doing it to end mass incarceration. They’re doing it to end what? (Slavery!) Slavery.
Despite scant media coverage, the largest prison strike in history is entering its third week. Retaliation is rampant, both against the organizers in prison and against the Bay View for spreading the word. The Free Alabama Movement that started the prison-strikes-to-end-slavery campaign is defeating a violent divide-and-conquer scheme to turn prisoner against prisoner with a Peace Summit, reminiscent of the Agreement to End Hostilities in California, which this month is entering its fifth year of keeping the peace.
Anyone relying on mainstream media wouldn’t know it, but the U.S. prison system is shaking up right now. No one knows how big the initial strike was yet, but the information is slowly leaking out between the cracks in the prisons’ machinery of obscurity and isolation. Over the weekend more than 50 protests erupted across the country and around the world in solidarity with the Sept. 9 nationwide prisoner work stoppage and protest.
Prison inmates around the country have called for a series of strikes against forced labor, demanding reforms of parole systems and prison policies, as well as more humane living conditions, a reduced use of solitary confinement and better health care. The strike’s organizers remain anonymous but have circulated fliers listing a series of grievances and demands and a letter articulating the reasons for the strike.
We must carry out our prison struggle. We stand in solidarity with all oppressed prisoners, men and women. The Prisoners Human Rights Movement is needed to reclaim our lives and freedom, end all state and federal abuses of prisoners and stop the mass incarceration of humans, especially the poor.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Americans of Spanish and Mexican descent remained concentrated in what had been the Spanish and Mexican colonial territories in the southwestern United States: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and California. During the Spanish and Mexican colonial regimes, these territorial possessions were only sparsely populated with missionaries, soldiers, a few ranchers and farmers, and very few persons of commerce and trade.
Sunday, Oct. 12, marks our 19th Annual Maafa Commemoration. This is a time when we gather to remember our African ancestors, especially those who endured the transatlantic slave trade or the Middle Passage, the Black Holocaust. It is a time for Pan Africans to gather and celebrate life and recommit ourselves to the work of liberation: spiritual, psychological, economic and political.
George Washington, the first president and one of the founding fathers of the United States, once argued, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led to the slaughter.” Yet in many controversial cases, United States courts have ruled against the First Amendment guarantee to free speech.
On May 22, brave prisoners at Virginia’s Red Onion State Prison began a hunger strike. A recently released prisoner discusses torture at Red Onion: “having your fingers broken, being bitten by dogs, being strapped to beds for days, being forced to defecate on yourself – I mean all of this has led to these men demanding to be treated as human beings.”
The increase in hunger strikes in state prisons throughout the United States, inspired by the courageous examples of Ohio and California prisoners, show we don’t fear death or persecution, but minimizing losses is a part of wise strategy. We struggle to win. Unnecessarily losing some of our best minds to indeterminate isolation won’t help this purpose.
After long negotiations with Warden David Bobby on Monday, May 7, the hunger-striking prisoners at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) began eating again. At this point, details on agreements are unclear, but sources inside say that the hunger strikers are satisfied and feel they achieved results.
“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons,” wrote Dostoyevsky. If what he says is true – and I believe it is – then America, which boasts the largest prison population in the world, is perhaps the most uncivilized country there is. Who better to speak to the reality of prison life than someone who is living the experience?
We have just finished commemorating the 40th anniversary of the assassination of our beloved Comrade George Jackson. Not forgotten by us was the horrific massacre perpetrated by the state of New York at Attica. At the time, we were in the adjustment center at San Quentin mourning our loss and recovering from the brutality inflicted upon us in the aftermath of the Aug. 21 incident when the state murdered our comrade.
I first of all want to say that this, what you all are doing, is long overdue and needed if we are ever going to change the direction of this unjust system. I know that for a lot of you the idea of resisting and speaking truth to power is instinctive, and we have to figure out a way to inject this spirit into more people.
Support for the hunger strike grows with solidarity actions across the U.S. and Canada this past weekend. A series of noise demonstrations outside jails, detention centers and prisons occurred internationally in St. Louis, New York City, Oakland, Los Angeles, Montreal and Kitchener, Ontario.
The new book by Manning Marable, “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” will help us to get a deeper understanding of Malcolm X and the times we’re living in now. This will not be a direct result of what Marable has done, but rather of what needs to happen now because of what he has done.
On Monday, April 11, in San Francisco, I felt it was not a romantic notion that my videographer Scott and I were embedded among partisan guerrillas deep in enemy territory. We were all joined together in a viciously difficult corporate class war.
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund Project Vote and New Orleans attorney Ronald Wilson filed a complaint in federal court alleging that Louisiana is disenfranchising minority and low-income voters by failing to offer them the opportunity to register to vote as required by the National Voter Registration Act.
Tanya McDowell, the mother in Connecticut who was charged with larceny for allegedly stealing an education for her son, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $15,000 fine for sending her child to a school outside his district.
Hundreds of people gathered in Benton Harbor Wednesday, April 27, to protest the emergency manager law that has stripped power from the local government. Leading the march and rally, Rev. Pinkney decried the hostile takeover of Benton Harbor by the emergency financial manager, intensifying the racist influence by Whirlpool that has grabbed much of the city’s priceless lakefront, including a large portion of Jean Klock Park, dedicated in perpetuity to the children of Benton Harbor. He invites everyone to Benton Harbor Saturday, May 7, to protest Gov. Snyder when he comes to town as grand marshall of the Blossomtime Parade.
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