I hope all will know and embrace the true reality that I among millions stand strong and firm with the true and raw teachings of a real dedicated man, Yogi – yeah, Hugo Pinell. Yogi, the many moments and years I personally shared with you will never ever fade or be forgotten even as I pass away. We rocked together, sang together and even played b-ball together. Brother, you schooled me when I was mentally blinded with hate, stupidity and ignorance.
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.
Here is a brief update on the continued disrespect that CDCR is showing to brothers involved in the Aug. 12, 2015, attack on Yogi (Hugo Pinell). The same ICC (Inmate Classification Committee) that ignored the threat on Yogi’s life is now harassing the inmates that came to Yogi’s aid – the ICC that prisoners call “The Committee.” There are six inmates in Z Unit Ad Seg. Five of us have been released back to general population, but ICC refuses to send us back to a mainline.
I have been in the system over 30 years and was in the system when Yogi and George Jackson and the rest were all in the Adjustment Center, and the guards and George were killed in 1971. An entire generation has come and gone since then. Very few in the system today even know who they are. Nor do they know how bad conditions were back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, especially for Black and Brown people both in the system and out in the streets.
I often visit the spot where they took you from us. I still can’t accept it. Although we didn’t know each other, I knew your spirit. I cried for you the day your light was dimmed. I never met you, but you were my brother, my father, my dear friend. Yogi, I’m afraid. I’m afraid because the same climate that dimmed your light is still here on this yard. The gatekeepers on this yard are still playing chess with brothers’ lives.
Hugo Pinell was assassinated at New Folsom State Prison. Like Comrade George, Hugo has been in the crosshairs of the system for years. His assassination exemplifies how racists working in conjunction with prison authorities commit murderous acts like this. We saw it on the yard at Soledad in 1970 and we see it again on the yard at Folsom in 2015. It comes at a time when prisoners are collectively trying to end decades of internal strife. Those who took his life have done a disservice to our movement. Their actions served the cause of the same oppressor we fought against!
When the concept of Black August manifested in 1979, many thought it was simply a focus group protest growing out of the avoidable death of Khatari Gaulden on Aug. 1, 1978, in the San Quentin prison infirmary. Survival for Africans in California’s prison population of 20,000 inmates had to that point been recognized by some as a bit more than problematic.
2013 marks the 43rd anniversary of Black August, first organized to honor our fallen freedom fighters, George and Jonathan Jackson, James McClain, William Christmas, Khatari Gaulden and sole survivor of the Aug. 7, 1970, Courthouse Slave Rebellion, Ruchell Cinque Magee. During these four decades, we’ve witnessed a steady revision of the meaning of Black August and its inherent ideology.