Tag: solitary confinement
As the snowbirds arrived in Florida along with the mild January breezes, a small uprising of laborers who work under lock and key stopped production and made demands. This coordinated struggle was carried out by members of one of the most violently exploited groups in America: incarcerated workers. Inmates at 17 Florida prisons launched the labor strike, calling themselves “Operation PUSH,” to demand higher wages and the reintroduction of parole incentives for specific groups of inmates.
On July 18, International Nelson Mandela Day, the New Afrikan Liberation Collective in partnership with IDOC Watch will be holding a panel on political prisoners followed by a demonstration outside the IDOC headquarters to call attention to the ongoing abuse in Indiana prisons. We call on all comrades and any fellow human beings with any compassion in their hearts, to join our families and loved ones as they support and fight for us at the “Prison Lives Matter: In the Spirit of Nelson Mandela” demonstration.
Prison officials have total control over all prisoners held in CDCR and this affords them the power to impose their will upon prisoners as they try to see fit. So, citizens of this country, in prison and out, should not be surprised to see that CDCR is managing prisoners with violence in order to secure their best interest: higher pay and job security. Peaceful prisons go against the CDCR agenda and, therefore, violence has to be the agency’s trademark.
Recently us United Kings Against Genocidal Environments (KAGE) refused to settle and dismiss our 42 U.S.C. §1983 suit for the infringement of our First and 14th Amendment rights, as well as violations of our Religious Land Use Institutional Persons Act (RLUIPA) rights. Pelikkkan Bay State Prison officials have failed or refused to eradicate the implicit racial bias imposed upon New Afrikans, or Blacks – those of us who petitioned and structured the PEACE programs with an ancient Egyptian yoga focal point.
On April 22, 2018, over 200 people attended the UCSC opening of the Reel Work May Day Labor Film Festival (RWLFF)’s 17th season, with the event theme “Together to End Solitary.” RWLFF’s motto, “We are stronger together,” is particularly poignant when coming together to end the extreme isolation of the state-sanctioned torture of solitary confinement. The film, “Cruel and Unusual, the Story of the Angola 3,” details the Angola 3's decades-long struggle for justice and to build an international movement to end solitary confinement.
His name is Veronza Bowers Jr., a former member and captain of the original Black Panther Party. After more than 44 years in prison, 14 years beyond his mandatory release date, Veronza has faith that with his Freedom Team of top lawyers and the love of multitudes of supporters around the world, he will win his freedom soon. Political prisoners are kept in prison when the “law enforcers” they opposed decades ago carry grudges they pass down the generations, vowing those prisoners will die in prison. But the words of little Pharoah Dawson, who wrote, “Veronza, don’t die in prison!” are more powerful.
After six years of being bounced from state to state, having been exiled from the Virginia prison system for my political views and years of publicizing and resisting the brutal and racist abuses in its prisons, on June 12, 2018, I was returned to Red Onion State Prison (ROSP) in remote Wise County, Va. Even before I began publicizing these conditions, organizations like Human Rights Watch were reporting on them, bringing almost instant notoriety to ROSP after it opened in 1998.
At the modern intersection of Islamophobia and the Black Lives Matter movement resides Jamil Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown), the now forgotten civil rights activist and revolutionary leader who, 16 years ago this year, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Fulton County, Ga., Sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Leon Kinchen and the wounding of his partner, then-Sheriff’s Deputy Aldranon English, during a March 2000 gunfight.
Since the beginning of 2018, four people in ADOC custody – three in solitary confinement and one on death row – have died by suicide. The suicide rate in Alabama prisons is one of the highest in the country. In June 2017, U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson declared the mental health system in Alabama prisons “horrendously inadequate,” an unconstitutional failure that led to what Thompson called a “skyrocketing suicide rate” among prisoners.
What I have discovered is that the state of Texas has conspired with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to downplay and cover up toxic and contaminated water supplies in state-run prisons as well as the rural communities which have found themselves in close proximity to these toxic sites. It is not just the prisoners in Texas who are suffering the ill effects. I have also discovered that what is happening in Texas is not unique.
On Jan. 21, 2018, our loved elder, revolutionary leader and teacher Hon. Richard “Mafundi” Lake joined the Ancestors. For the many of us who had the privilege of being in the classroom of life with Ancestor Mafundi, let his transition serve as yet another lesson to us of the immediacy of our situation behind these walls and serve as a reminder of why we can’t wait to commit our all to the struggle to end slavery in America. We are, without any doubt, still slaves and chattel here in America for no reason other than the color of our skin.
If chemical weapons abuses in Syria that lead to people suffocating, foaming at the mouth and dying are evil and justify international military responses, who will intervene to stop U.S. prison officials doing the same to U.S. prisoners? Just an example of the utter hypocrisy of U.S. rulers who go around the world masquerading as opponents of injustice and pretending to have the moral – or might I say imperialist and racist – authority to police everyone else, when in reality they are the greatest purveyors of injustice in the world.
Slavery has indeed marked this nation. Its soot leaves a residue the best detergent cannot wipe away or wash out. Truth – bitter, the missing ingredient is hard to swallow, let alone see – yet this is what The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and by extension The Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration demands we face. It is not in your head or imagination that these atrocities to other people reside.
This year we, the undersigned, are calling on all opponents of mass incarceration and modern-day slavery internationally to honor the Juneteenth holiday – Tuesday, June 19, 2018 – with community organizing and direct action. This call to action is inspired by prisoners in Texas and Florida, two of the largest and most repressive prison systems in the U.S., who remain active in freedom struggle against all odds.
On April 21, I finally got to see Charlie Hinton’s “Solitary Man” play at the Black Repertory Theater in Berkeley. It was so much more than a cultural experience. The play was gripping, emotional and real, with jazz trumpet sprinkled in. The panel powerfully reflected the layers of pain, survival and resistance in the prison movement. And the event, a benefit for the San Francisco Bay View, was a moving tribute to Mary and Willie Ratcliff’s devotion to their invaluable newspaper.
Over 200 prisoners in Santa Clara County have been on a hunger strike since April 15, 2018, to end meaningless classification reviews and the torturous practice of indefinite solitary confinement etc.. Concerned families and community countywide rallied in support of their incarcerated loved ones on Monday, April 23, at 6 p.m. in front of the Main Jail in hopes that the jail administration and/or Sheriff Laurie Smith will engage with participating hunger strikers to end the hunger strike.
Central Ohio IWOC, the Free Ohio Movement and Lucasville Amnesty call for actions and raising awareness around the 25th anniversary of the Lucasville Uprising on April 11-21. Drawing attention to this pivotal event in the history of prisons in Ohio and the U.S., protesters will hold a 3 p.m. noise demo on the 21st outside the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville where prisoners held a cell block for 11 days in April of 1993. Prisoner survivors of this rebellion have spent these 25 years acting as beacons of resistance despite suffering in solitary confinement and on death row.
I’m writing this editorial because I want to brag on my husband, Bay View publisher Dr. Willie Ratcliff, and tell you why he and I have faith that a benefactor, someone with deep pockets who cares, will step forward in time to save the Bay View and keep it in print – an angel who understands how much the Bay View means to a prisoner being tortured and a youngster in the hood being framed. Dr. Ratcliff was that angel, that benefactor, to Gladys Knight in 1975, when she ran out of money in the midst of producing a major film in Valdez, Alaska called “Pipe Dreams.”
Supporters of Black liberation fighter and political prisoner Herman Bell held a packed news conference at the Center for Constitutional Rights March 23. They came out to show support for a recent New York State Parole Board decision to free Bell after more than 40 years – much of it spent in torturous solitary confinement. The board’s decision has come under attack from police groups, the corporate media and elected officials, including “liberal” Democrats Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
As a Black Nation and prisoner class, we have come too far since the Agreement to End Hostilities and the last hunger strike of July 8, 2013, which 30,000 prisoners partook in to break the chains of our inhumane solitary confinement to allow ourselves to lose focus on the AEH and what it has done to enlighten society that we still have our humanity. But we will never change this miserable, decaying prison system or our neighborhoods if the oppressor state sees and can utilize our violent, hostile actions toward one another to show just cause to retaliate.