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My name is Jonelle, and I’m an Afrikan wombman living in amerikkka. I’m an active member of Guerrilla Mainframe, which is a grassroots organization based in Dallas, Texas, and an administrative assistant to George Jackson University. Last year was my first year getting involved with Black August, and I learned a lot about the resistance of the prison movement.
On FLEA Days, Tupac Shakur, Baltimore, Kwanzaa, women-comrades and the revolutionary experience of Black August ... Kasim O. Gero is currently housed as an inmate at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup, Maryland. The unedited answers to these questions are his added consent to this interview and dissemination of information in alignment with the mission of George Jackson University.
The Black August Rebellion is a month that the California state prisoners fast. They fast in the month of August to pay homage to the fallen comrades. Do make sure that this year you honor our comrade and hero lost last Aug. 12, Hugo “Yogi” Pinell. However you mark Black August, do it. You won’t be alone. The next chapter of Black August history is yours to write.
The SHU, the wars, the times and obviously the love and hate he experienced made Yog who he was. When I met him in 2001, I of course had read about him and heard the stories, but I was definitely not prepared to meet anyone like that. One of the letters in the Bay View said Yog taught him how to “time travel”; that sounds about right. Yog was a hot mess in that regard; his mind was not always grounded but that also was one of his strengths. He had his own world in there.
This photo of Hugo “Yogi” Pinell was taken in the New Folsom visiting room in early 2014, when he was first released from the Pelican Bay SHU. Derek Anderson says of this man who was a hero and role model to fellow prisoners, “He made it possible for us to walk with our heads held high in this wilderness.”
Letters continue to pour in to the Bay View from prisoners who remember the great Hugo “Yogi” Pinell as a hero and a martyr and want the world to know and remember him too. His work will not only be memorialized but also carried forth by all he has touched. You and your lessons will be remembered always – and, like you, will forever inspire resistance. Determination. The longing to be free. And the courage to fight for it.
There is a trick that the California prison administration pulls on African Americans in prison. It is to charge them with gang activity if they refer to “George Jackson” or any of his writings or ideas or to the “Republic of New Afrika” or the politics of New Afrikans. Thousands of people, mostly Black and Brown, have been held in solitary confinement for years and even decades, because “gang activity” constitutes a “security threat to the prison,” according to the Administration.
Black August Memorial (BAM) is not about senseless acts of violence or gang activity. Black August was inspired by the death of our fallen Black dragons and includes other New Afrikan freedom fighters who gave their lives to our struggle for freedom, who made that ultimate and unselfish sacrifice in the service of our revolutionary struggle.
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.”
“The purpose of the ... control unit is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and in the society at large,” said former Marion Supermax Prison Warden Ralph Aron. What is shocking to many is how can some not only resist such systematic psychological torture, but actually improve themselves under such conditions of extreme duress.
Comrade was an exceptional individual and driven by his passion for revolution. The immense amount of knowledge he had acquired prior to our meeting he had honed to be as sharp as a samurai sword. While in prison, he studied economics, history and philosophy, transforming himself into a political theoretician and strategist.