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Across Amerika, home of the world’s largest prison population, growing numbers of the imprisoned are coming to realize that they are victims of social injustice. Foremost, they are victims of an inherently predatory and dysfunctional capitalist-imperialist system, which targets the poor and people of color for intensified policing, militaristic containment and selective criminal prosecutions, while denying them access to the basic resources, employment and institutional control needed for social and economic security.
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.
If you have a high-profile lawyer with powerful friends and you’re tortured while on death row in Alabama, everyone in the nation not only knows about it – overwhelmingly, especially in liberal, progressive, civilized circles of thought and news – they’re righteously appalled. But poor death row inmates in Alabama can be tortured just as terribly, just as brutally – they can be killed barbarically – and not many people in America, much less the rest of the world, knows a thing about it. Or worse, cares.
Las Vegas cops jumped NFL star Michael Bennett, held a gun to his head and threatened to blow it off. How else could they have chosen the perfect target to prove that the U.S. is a racist police state? How else could their police union have followed up with a letter imploring NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to investigate Bennett for defaming them by telling his story and claiming that the LVPD had racially profiled him? You can’t make this stuff up.
Fascism has been thrust into the mainstream political vocabulary of the United States since the election of President Donald Trump on a platform grounded in xenophobia, corporate dominance and right wing white nationalism. If the growing resistance movement to Trump’s fascism is to realize its potential for societal transformation, it must draw from the deep well of Black anti-fascist resistance.
It is well known among staff and prisoners that if we file a grievance without any physical evidence, their failure to admit the allegations results in our claims being dismissed. Simply enough, they lie during any investigation. Outside pressure and exposure is one aspect that can counter this, which is what Rashid has been doing for years. Staff are now realizing this, too, and are retaliating to cause disruption and preserve their practices.
Nearly a thousand subscribers to the Bay View newspaper were denied their September papers – and we suspect their October papers as well – because of its coverage of the nationwide strikes to end prison slavery that began Sept. 9. Prison officials censoring the paper claim it will incite disruption. Like claims that someone being beaten by a gang of cops is “resisting,” the Bay View is “disrupting” prison operations.
It’s hard to imagine that the country that controls so much nuclear firepower and drops so many bombs every day is unwilling to educate its children and house its own people. As much as I would like to see zero poverty in the United States, I know that the political will for such policies is just not there today. This, despite the efforts of thousands of people just like me all over the country to alleviate the unnecessary suffering of the poor in the U.S.
For 24 years Bill and Hillary Clinton have courted Wall Street money with notable success. No other political couple in modern history has enjoyed so much money flowing to them from Wall Street for such a long time – $92.57 million over a quarter century. Because of the Clintons’ romance with Wall Street and their corrupt New Democratic Party, the New York bankers and the Clintons are richer today. Others – betrayed, abandoned, savaged – are not.
The fact that these rules were noticed as “Obscene Materials” indicates an intention of CDCR to attempt to fly below the radar so as to not draw attention to the fact that much of the material under these proposed regulations could be so broad as to cover newspaper articles and a multitude of other written materials that do nothing to promote prison safety and security and do everything to violate and infringe on the First Amendment rights of California’s prisoners.
Michael Jordan, as an NBA player, owner and cultural force, has always been proudly apolitical. Most famously, he refused to oppose segregationist Jesse Helms in his home state of North Carolina by saying, “Republicans buy sneakers too.” Yet Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist rant has so upended the NBA apple cart that even Jordan is speaking out.
Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart, a 19-year-old top NBA draft prospect, shoved 40-year-old Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr. He has told coaches that he did so after being called “the n-word.” Orr has a wretched reputation, stretching back years, as a Texas Tech “super-fan” who gets off by yelling horrible things at teenagers. Former OSU players like John Lucas III have taken to Twitter to testify about John Orr.
Protests and raised fists have come to life to San Jose State University. For those who have not heard, three white students at San Jose State University have been charged with hate crimes – and a fourth has been suspended – after their African-American roommate was subjected to a series of racist torments that have shocked the entire community.
Unjustified imprisonment and torturous living conditions have prisoners hunger striking all over the world. Many people who read the Bay View on the regular are aware of the California prison hunger strike, which has been going on for over a month now and started with over 30,000 prisoners statewide participating. But many know nothing about another prison hunger strike that is going on simultaneously on a U.S. military base in Cuba.
Arbitrary and indefinite solitary confinement is an absolute assault on humankind and a barbarity the likes of which cannot be tolerated. We hold the utmost respect for those prisoners who from the depths of Solitary Confinement throughout California risked their lives to be heard. We heard them and now we ask that you do the same.
As Gabby told the New York Times in June: “I have an advantage because I’m the underdog and I’m Black and no one thinks I’d ever win. Well, I’m going to inspire so many people. Everybody will be talking about, how did she come up so fast? But I’m ready to shine.” Shine she did. Dominique Dawes, the great African-American gymnast who won team gold in 1996, exclaimed: “I feel like Gabby is my child or something. I am so anxious for her to win. I know it will have an enormous impact on encouraging African-Americans and other minorities to go into the sport of gymnastics.”
In an historic verdict with national implications, five New Orleans police officers were convicted on Friday of civil rights violations for killing unarmed African Americans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and could face life in prison when sentenced later this year.
Prisoners in the Security Housing Units, SHUs, at Pelican Bay and Corcoran state prisons in California are beginning an indefinite hunger strike on July 1, 2011, to protest the cruel and inhumane conditions of their imprisonment in what is being called “an unusual show of racial unity.” Breaking news: Prisoners at Centinela have joined the hunger strike. A prisoner there reports: “Only a few inmates are walking the yard. No Blacks or Hispanics have left their cells. No one has gone to work. He said all the races are united in this fight.”
On March 31, a federal judge sentenced two former New Orleans police officers for killing Henry Glover and incinerating his body during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. One got 25 years for shooting Glover with an assault rifle and the other got 17 years for torching the man’s corpse.
Among the very few people celebrating our country’s fiscal crisis are criminal justice reformers. Bill Piper of Drug Policy Alliance says, “Next year is probably an unprecedented opportunity to defund the federal drug war.” But colorblind cost-benefit approaches leave intact the racial attitudes, stereotypes and anxieties that gave rise to the system in the first place.
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