[Spain] About comrade Gabriel Pombo Da Silva and maxi prisons

Translated by Act for freedom now!:

via:.lacavale.be

faltan-los-presos

A year has passed since comrade Gabriel Pombo Da Silva was transferred to the Topas penitentiary centre (Salamanca). He continues to resist the harsh experience of the deprivation of liberty (after already more than 30 years behind bars), but also various stratagems that the prison administration is continuing to come up with in the best of its interests and those commanding it.

Topas prison was created as part of the program of construction of about twenty maxi-prisons promulgated in the early 90s by the PSOE government of Felipe González.

At the same time, the left and socialist head of the AP, Antoni Asunción, introduced the internal directive governing the FIES regimes. So Topas prison has the characteristics of these new mass incarceration factories – in Spain, the number of imprisoned persons has doubled in 20 years, from roughly 35 000 – 70 000 between 1991 and 2011.

One of the criteria of this modernization consists of distancing prisons from urban centres, so Topas was built in the open countryside. This serves several purposes: to hide these wretched places as much as possible; further separate those imprisoned from their loved ones, forced to travel many kilometres for any visit – (?!) luck, unlike most other jails, Topas is located along a main road served by a bus route, a ‘luxury’ that avoids the collective punishment of expensive trips or forced marches.

The distance is also intended to reduce demonstrations of solidarity in neighbourhoods as they once existed, especially when there is movement inside the prison, and to make escapes extremely difficult.

This program of new prisons is therefore the response to the waves of struggles, riots and escapes that rocked Spanish prisons regularly from the 70s to the 90s. Bringing together different types of detention inside them (remand, central etc.), these are maximum security prisons, equipped with automatic doors, increasingly sophisticated computerized control systems and a multitude of high tech devices among other things.

The size and architecture of these prisons makes it possible to lock up over a thousand prisoners in each of them, while separating them according to the requirements and experimentation of the prison management. They are in fact divided into separate autonomous buildings each with their own exercise yard, visiting areas and canteen. Any kind of interaction between the different units is carefully avoided, and prisoners have little way of knowing what is happening in the rest of the prison, which reduces the possibilities of struggles or even riots. To prevent “dangerous combinations”, it is also very easy to move a prisoner from one building to another without the need for a transfer to another jail – even if dispersion remains an effective way to punish prisoners and their relatives. After 5 transfers since arriving in Spain, Gabriel for example has already been able to discover 5 different internal modules in Topas. This organization based both on massification and atomization contributes to continuing the dirty war by breaking bonds of solidarity or encouraging rivalries and entanglements in a context of emotional and economic misery. To add a layer to the hardship and the struggle for survival, the latest find to date in Topas has been to reduce visits to two a month, to be conducted only by family or a lawyer …

Parallel to this architectural model the modern concept of scientific treatment of prisoners is also being developed. Contemporary guinea pigs, they are classified according to a long list of regimes, degrees and phases. This cataloguing is extremely precise and is carried out by a whole range of specialists (so-called “technical teams” or “trucologues [trickalogues]” as Gabriel quips, who refuses to submit to their examinations: psychologists, sociologists, educators and other social workers … ) according to essentially behavioural and disciplinary criteria.

What carries the sweet name of “individualized treatment” amounts to scrutinizing the behaviour of each prisoner to establish their profile and the treatment to be applied to them. To put it bluntly, it is a question of hitting where it hurts – knowing that this bureaucracy is also critical for exit permits and conditional liberty. All this obviously goes towards constituting huge databases and tighter control.

Beyond the regular interrogations required by these battalions of experts, daily monitoring is ensured through various means: the system of ubiquitous cameras and incident reports distributed by the screws are unfortunately often supported by the effective control of fellow prisoners.

The so-called modules of “maximum respect” of so-called “life in common” are an extreme example of this co-management. The prisoners who enter them actually undertake to respect and ensure others’ respect not only of the prison rules, but a bonus code of conduct developed for the division itself. Under cover of assessment assemblies, they are actively involved in their own imprisonment and the reign of the equilibrium that tends to generalize, that is what rehabilitation means…

Of course, the whole system functions on the strategy of carrot and stick: rewards for those who show proof of their good will with regard to the prison administration in various ways, while the closed regimes, isolation and most FIES regimes are intended to punish “conflictual” prisoners and endorse the diagnosis or prognosis of social dangerousness.

FIES 3 awaited comrades Francisco and Mónica from the start of their incarceration. Gabriel, for his part, was put in FIES 5 while he was in A Lama, and this decision has already been renewed several times by the Topas administration. Noelia Cotelo, also considered a rebel, arrive at Topas in turn, where she was immediately put in solitary confinement. She is still in FIES 5. Among other special measures, it implies that all written and verbal communications are read, photocopied, listened to and recorded and can be censored based on criteria such as the vaguest “subversive content” or “endangering security or the proper functioning of the jail.” As it happens, for the comrade it is almost all the publications of an anarchist nature that are retained, even when they meet the mandatory selective criteria of having an ISBN number and mention of the printer. Hence her request not to send letters with this kind of post as they are totally denied. Her correspondence is also subject to the limitation of two letters to be sent per week, not counting delays or “unexplained” disappearances of letters, in order to silence and isolate her most likely.

The supervising judge of the region responded to the appeal sent by Gabriel by confirming his placement in FIES, with this sentence, that does not lack flavour: “It appears from the reports received and the content of the monitoring of calls made since he has been in this detention centre that he continues to carry out an anarchist and anti-system struggle against the regime and the institutions, encouraging his relatives and friends to fight.” This speaks volumes about what the State expects from the comrade: to renounce what he believes in and what he is; harassment and dirty games involving his release date (legal recourse is still ongoing) probably intended for this and obviously failed.

The functioning and function of prison reminds us yet again that it is a denser reflection of the society that produces and needs it. From the lowest to the highest levels, the wheels that maintain the institutions and the established order, need and demand the submission of the many. It’s about breaking individuals and eliminating possibilities of struggle. Consent can be bought with shots of good and bad points, crumbs, legal and illegal drugs or it can be snatched with the most direct violence, because all means are valid in the eyes of the powerful, democratic or not.

The “humanization” of prisons sold by power and media propaganda actually conceals the attempt at depersonalisation and total dispossession, just as their alleged “social peace” is merely a more or less covert war.

Outside as inside, it’s these gears that need to be broken, along with all the physical, technological and psychological chains. Only revolt and the struggle will finish with relations based on domination and satisfy our desires for freedom.

Down with the prison society, the State and all authority!

August 2015

anarchist solidarity

To write to the comrade:

Gabriel Pombo Da Silva
CP-Topas Salamanca
Ctra N-630, km 314
37799 Topas (Salamanca)
Spain

Take Action – Join hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners to say: End Administrative Detention

From Samidoun:

hunger-strikers1

Five Palestinian prisoners held in administrative detention without charge or trial in Israeli jails are about to enter their second week on hunger strike, demanding an end to administrative detention. Take Action to support the hunger strikers and call for freedom for administrative detainees!

Nidal Abu Aker, Ghassan Zawahreh, Shadi Ma’ali, Badr al-Ruzza, and Munir Abu Sharar launched their hunger strike on 20 August 2015, protesting their administrative detention without charge or trial. All have had their arbitrary detention orders renewed multiple times. On Monday, 31 August, they were removed from their prison cells and thrown into isolation – Abu Aker in Asqelan, Zawahreh and Ma’ali in Ella prison, and Ruzzah and Abu Sharar in the Naqab prison.

Khader Adnan supports the hunger strikers.

Khader Adnan supports the hunger strikers.

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association reported that the five have consumed only liquids since 20 August and are boycotting the occupation military courts along with 50 other administrative detainees, exposing the sham nature of these hearings relying on secret information that neither Palestinian prisoners or their lawyer can review. “Addameer calls upon solidarity organizations, human rights organizations and individuals all around the world to join the campaign to end administrative detention while emphasizing the necessity of popular support for Palestinian prisoners and detainees,” the organization urged.

In addition, Kayed Fawzi Abu Rish, 42, from Nablus, has been on hunger strike for 26 days. Held in administrative detention since December 2014, the order against him was renewed in June 2015 for an additional six months. He was transferred to hospital yesterday after being held in isolation in Megiddo prison.

Prisoner support tent at the entrance to Dheisheh refugee camp.

Prisoner support tent at the entrance to Dheisheh refugee camp.

There are approximately 480 Palestinians held without charge or trial in administrative detention in Israeli prisons. Israeli military commanders issue orders for up to one to six months of detention, which are indefinitely renewable. Introduced in Palestine by the British colonial authority, administrative detention is used in a routine and frequent manner. According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies, 85% of administrative detention orders are renewed at least once. Israel’s widespread and systematic use of administrative detention violates the Geneva Conventions and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The five detainees have been on hunger strike for thirteen days and are about to enter their third week on strike, while Abu Rish is nearing a month on strike. They are demanding an end to administrative detention in this “Battle of Breaking the Chains.” They are threatened not only by the risks to their health and lives by hunger striking, but also threatened with the new Israeli force-feeding law that legitimizes force-feeding torture against hunger striking prisoners, which led to the death of four Palestinian hunger strikers in the 1970s and 1980s.

Video (Press TV News report):

Layla (Um Samer) Issawi and Malika (Um Nidal) Abu Aker, mothers of Palestinian prisoners

Layla (Um Samer) Issawi and Malika (Um Nidal) Abu Aker, mothers of Palestinian prisoners

In Dheisheh refugee camp, the home of three of the strikers, a permanent solidarity tent has been set up.

Khader Adnan, former administrative detainee who won his freedom twice through long-term hunger strikes, visited the solidarity tent and met with members of the prisoners’ families; Layla (Um Samer) Issawi also met with the strikers’ families, urging support and solidarity with the strike. She is the mother of Samer, Shireen and Medhat Issawi, all imprisoned in Israeli jails; Samer was previously freed in a long-term hunger strike.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its strongest solidarity with the striking prisoners, and calls for international actions, mobilizations and events to demand their freedom. We cannot wait until these brave strugglers are facing death to act and demand not only their freedom as individuals, but the abolition of administrative detention – on the road to freeing every Palestinian prisoner held in Israeli occupation jails. It is not the case that Israeli military courts are any more legitimate, fair or acceptable than administrative detention – they are just as arbitrary, racist and illegitimate. But administrative detention is a weapon of mass terror used against the Palestinian people, and it is critical to bring this practice to an end. These Palestinian prisoners have put their bodies on the line in order to end administrative detention – and it is imperative that we act to support them. These prisoners’ struggle is not only about their individual freedom – it is part of their struggle for return and liberation for Palestine.

Take Action!

1. Sign on to this statement in support of the prisoners’ demand to End Administrative Detention. Organizational and individual endorsements are welcome – and organizational endorsements particularly critical – in support of the prisoners’ demands and their actions. Click here to sign or sign below: http://bit.ly/EndAdministrativeDetention

2. Send a solidarity statement. The support of people around the world helps to inform people about the struggle of Palestinian prisoners. It is a morale booster and helps to build political solidarity. Please send your solidarity statements to samidoun@samidoun.net. They will be published and sent directly to the prisoners.

3. Hold a solidarity one-day hunger strike in your area. Gather in a tent or central area, bring materials about Palestinian prisoners and hold a one-day solidarity strike to raise awareness and provide support for the struggle of the prisoners and the Palestinian cause. Please email us at samidoun@samidoun.net to inform us of your action – we will publicize and share news with the prisoners.

4. Protest at the Israeli consulate or embassy in your area.  Bring posters and flyers about administrative detention and Palestinian hunger strikers and hold a protest, or join a protest with this important information. Hold a community event or discussion, or include this issue in your next event about Palestine and social justice. Please email us at samidoun@samidoun.net to inform us of your action – we will publicize and share news with the prisoners.

5. Contact political officials in your country – members of Parliament or Congress, or the Ministry/Department of Foreign Affairs or State – and demand that they cut aid and relations with Israel on the basis of its apartheid practices, its practice of colonialism, and its numerous violations of Palestinian rights including the systematic practice of administrative detention. Demand they pressure Israel to free the hunger strikers and end administrative detention.

6. Boycott, Divest and Sanction. Hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. Don’t buy Israeli goods, and campaign to end investments in corporations that profit from the occupation. G4S, a global security corporation, is heavily involved in providing services to Israeli prisons that jail Palestinian political prisoners – there is a global call to boycott itPalestinian political prisoners have issued a specific call urging action on G4S. Learn more about BDS at bdsmovement.net.

 

Reportback on Albert Woodfox’s Sept. 2 Oral Arguments at US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

From Angola 3 News:

agola-woodfox-appeal

(PHOTO: A3 supporters outside of the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans this morning at Albert Woodfox’s oral arguments. Big Thanks to everyone that made it out!!)

This morning, Amnesty International USA released the following statement, reprinted in full.

Please check back here for more updates later in the day. See also our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Amnesty International USA Statement on Ongoing Incarceration of Albert Woodfox

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans heard oral argument in Albert Woodfox vs. Burl Cain. A three-judge panel will decide whether Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox should be granted unconditional release or face a third trial after spending more than four decades in solitary confinement.

U.S. District Judge James Brady ordered Woodfox’s unconditional release in June, overturning his conviction and barring the state from retrying him. The state of Louisiana appealed the ruling and moved to keep Woodfox behind. Jasmine Heiss, Senior Campaigner for Amnesty International USA’s Individuals at Risk program, attended the oral argument and issued the following statement:

“Today, Albert Woodfox remains doubly trapped — both in solitary confinement and in a deeply flawed legal process that has spanned four decades. Judge Brady’s writ of unconditional release should have been the final chapter in Albert’s 43-year nightmare. Now we can only hope that the courts will finally provide Albert some measure of justice.

“The question remains – why has Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell relentlessly pursued Albert Woodfox? It is time for the Attorney General to act in the name of justice rather than vengeance and stop standing in the way of Albert’s release.”

Nicole and Joseph – are staying in Oakland for this one – San Diego court appearance has been waived!

From Support Nicole and Joseph:
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A motion was filed by their attorneys to have their September 9th, San Diego court appearance waived and today that motion was granted by the judge. Nicole and Josephs attorneys will be there in court, and not guilty pleas will be entered in their absence. They will not have to travel to San Diego and will be staying home in Oakland for this one.

Thank you to everyone from the bay area, LA area, and San Diego that were planning on coming to court next Wednesday to support Nicole and Joseph, and thank you to everyone in all corners of the world who have been donating to the support fund, buying items off the amazon.com wish list, and stepping up in any way you can.

Please continue to check out the support site for further updates on the case and to learn about ways to show your support.

CA Prisoners Win Historic Gains with Settlement Against Solitary Confinement

From Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity:

Agreement reached in Ashker v. Brown ends indeterminate long-term solitary confinement in CA, among other gains for prisoners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 1, 2015
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

Oakland – Today, California prisoners locked in isolation achieved a groundbreaking legal victory in their ongoing struggle against the use of solitary confinement. A settlement was reached in the federal class action suit Ashker v. Brown, originally filed in 2012, effectively ending indefinite long-term solitary confinement, and greatly limiting the prison administration’s ability to use the practice, widely seen as a form of torture. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of prisoners held in Pelican Bay State Prison’s infamous Security Housing Units (SHU) for more than 10 years, where they spend 23 hours a day or more in their cells with little to no access to family visits, outdoor time, or any kind of programming.

“From the historic prisoner-led hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013, to the work of families, loved ones, and advocate, this settlement is a direct result of our grassroots organizing, both inside and outside prison walls,” said Dolores Canales of California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC), and mother of a prisoner in Pelican Bay. “This legal victory is huge, but is not the end of our fight – it will only make the struggle against solitary and imprisonment everywhere stronger.” The 2011 and 2013 hunger strikes gained widespread international attention that for the first time in recent years put solitary confinement under mainstream scrutiny.

Currently, many prisoners are in solitary because of their “status” – having been associated with political ideologies or gang affiliation. However, this settlement does away with the status-based system, leaving solitary as an option only in cases of serious behavioral rule violations. Furthermore, the settlement limits the amount of time a prisoner may be held in solitary, and sets a two year Step-Down Program for the release of current solitary prisoners into the prison general population.

It is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 prisoners will be released from SHU within one year of this settlement. A higher security general population unit will be created for a small number of cases where people have been in SHU for more than 10 years and have a recent serious rule violation.

“Despite the repeated attempts by the prison regime to break the prisoners’ strength, they have remained unified in this fight,” said Marie Levin of CFASC and sister of a prisoner representative named in the lawsuit. “The Agreement to End Hostilities and the unity of the prisoners are crucial to this victory, and will continue to play a significant role in their ongoing struggle.” The Agreement to End Hostilities is an historic document put out by prisoner representatives in Pelican Bay in 2012 calling on all prisoners to build unity and cease hostilities between racial groups.

Prisoner representatives and their legal counsel will regularly meet with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials as well as with Federal Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas, who is tasked with overseeing the reforms, to insure that the settlement terms are being implemented.

“Without the hunger strikes and without the Agreement to End Hostilities to bring California’s prisoners together and commit to risking their lives— by being willing to die for their cause by starving for 60 days, we would not have this settlement today,” said Anne Weills of Siegel and Yee, co-counsel in the case. “It will improve the living conditions for thousands of men and women and no longer have them languishing for decades in the hole at Pelican Bay.”

“This victory was achieved by the efforts of people in prison, their families and loved ones, lawyers, and outside supporters,” said the prisoners represented in the settlement in a joint statement. “We celebrate this victory while at the same time, we recognize that achieving our goal of fundamentally transforming the criminal justice system and stopping the practice of warehousing people in prison will be a protracted struggle.”

Legal co-counsel in the case includes California Prison Focus, Siegel & Yee, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, Chistensen O’Connor Johnson Kindness PLLC, and the Law Offices of Charles Carbone. The lead counsel is the Center for Constitutional Rights. The judge in the case is Judge Claudia Wilken in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

A rally and press conference are set for 12pm in front of the Elihu M Harris State Building in Oakland, which will be livestreamed at http://livestre.am/5bsWO.

The settlement can be read on CCR’s website, along with a summary. CCR has also put up downloadable clips of the plaintiffs’ depositions here.

 

Political Prisoner Birthday Poster For September 2015 Is Now Available

From Prison Books Collective:

cake

Hello Friends and Comrades,

1) Here is the political prisoner birthday poster for September. As always, please post this poster publicly and/or use it to start a card writing night of your own.

2) We’ve put the text online of our new zine How To Start A Prison Books Collective. We hope that this humble contribution will help other prison books groups get started and expand the important work of sending political, legal, and self-educational resources to prisoners. You can find the text here.

3) The Prison Ecology Project has extended its online fundraiser. They are creating tools to dismantle toxic prisons. So far, they are the only group focused on the intersection of environment and mass incarceration. Currently they are building a database of the five thousand prisons and jails around the country, finding the weak points in the environmental realm, and providing tools to organize locally. You can donate here.

4) Michael Kimble is up for parole in December and we are trying to get people to write letters to the parole board on his account.

Michael is a gay, black anarchist imprisoned in Alabama since 1986 for murdering a racist homophobe. He has been active for much of that time in prison organizing and rebellion. In recent years, he has been involved in hunger and work strikes in Alabama, working with the Free Alabama Movement. Michael has suffered severe consequences for his uncompromising attitude, including numerous stints in solitary (where he currently is held). Despite this, he remains committed to struggle against prison and the state.

Please, if you can, write the parole board and help get Michael free. Also, please spread this information using whatever media have available to you. Here’s a link to Michael‘s website, with a write-up on how to support his parole.

5) On Wednesday, August 12th, long term political prisoner, Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell was murdered. The context for his murder remains unclear, save for the fact that it happened in the midst of a prison riot.

In the early 1970s, while imprisoned in San Quentin State Prison, Hugo Pinell made contact with revolutionary prisoners such as George Jackson, one of the Soledad Brothers, and W.L. Nolen. On August 21, 1971, there was a prisoner uprising in Pinell’s housing unit at San Quentin, led by George Jackson. On that date, Jackson used a pistol to take over his tier in the Adjustment Center. At the end of the roughly 30 minute rebellion, guards had killed George Jackson, and two other prisoners and three guards were dead. Of the remaining prisoners in the unit, six of them, including Pinell, were put on trial for murder and conspiracy. Together, they were known as The San Quentin Six. Three of them were acquitted of all charges, and three were found guilty of various charges. Pinell was convicted of assault on a guard. For more on Hugo Pinell’s life and death see this excellent article from the San Francisco Bay View.

6) Be sure to check out the latest Political Prisoner/Prisoner Of War every-other week update by the  NYC-Anarchist Black Cross. There are lots of important updates on many political prisoners. This one includes updates on Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown, Memorials for Hugo Pinell, poetry and more.

Until Every Cage Is Empty,

The Prison Books Collective

Barrett Brown out of solitary, still under restrictions

From freebarrettbrown.org:

barrett-brown

Barrett Brown has been moved out of solitary confinement, known as the Segregated Housing Unit, and back into the general compound. Barrett had been in solitary for more than two months, since around 17 June 2015, a duration far exceeding that which psychologists and the United Nations say constitutes torturous treatment. Barrett turned 34, his third birthday in jail, while in solitary confinement last week.

However, Barrett is still prohibited from using the phone, accessing email, purchasing commissary items and receiving visitors until 18 October. The email prohibition will last even longer unless his appeal succeeds.

We’ll continue to report on Barrett’s condition and access to various prison privileges as restrictions are eventually lifted.

Beloved political prisoner Hugo ‘Yogi Bear’ Pinell, feared and hated by guards, assassinated in Black August after 46 years in solitary

From SF Bay View:

by Dr. Willie and Mary Ratcliff

Black August adds another hero and martyr to the roll.

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From December 1970 to 2014, when he finally had a contact visit with his mother, Yogi was allowed to come out from behind the thick glass in the visiting room and touch a loved one only once: When he married Shirley, they were given 15 minutes together. She later died.

By some accounts, it was his first day on the yard after 46 years in solitary confinement when Hugo Pinell, affectionately known as Yogi Bear, was assassinated Aug. 12. The news sparked a victory celebration by  prison guards on social media: “May he rot in hell” and “Good riddens” (sic), they typed. Yogi was the only member of the San Quentin 6 still in prison, and his role in the events of Aug. 21, 1971, the day George Jackson was assassinated, has earned the guards’ incessant enmity ever since.

“This is revenge,” declared his close friend, fellow Black Panther veteran Kiilu Nyasha, on Hard Knock Radio Aug. 13. “They hated him as much as George Jackson. They beat him constantly, kept him totally isolated for 46 years – no window, no sunlight – but they could never break him, and that’s why they hated him.

“The only way he survived was that this man was full of love.”

Isolated in the Pelican Bay SHU from 1990 to 2014, Yogi supported his SHU comrades’ campaign to end solitary confinement. He participated in the hunger strikes and applauded the Agreement to End Hostilities, authored by 16 of his comrades, Black, Brown and White, and dated Aug. 12, 2012, three years to the day before he was killed. It has nearly erased racial violence from California prisons.

The comrades who conceived and wrote the agreement were following Yogi’s lead.

“There was a time in the prison sys­tems throughout the United States,” according to a story headlined “The Black Panther Party and Hugo Pinell” in The Black Panther newspaper of Nov. 29, 1971, “when the prisoners themselves were divided, not only white against Black, but Latinos against Blacks. This – the result of racism in every area of U.S. society – was particularly apparent in Cali­fornia prisons.

Hugo-Pinell-by-The-Black-Panther-112971-1-web

This is the story from the Nov. 29, 1971, edition of The Black Panther. – Courtesy Billy X Jennings, ItsAboutTimeBPP.com

“Blacks and Latinos fought, stabbed and killed each other in the yards, cell blocks and dining halls of every prison camp from Tehachapi to Tracy. This is always the case when the racist white prison guard, under administration orders, pits one man struggling to survive against another.

“It is the easiest way for the prison to assure almost absolute control over its inmate population. After all, only an idiot would believe he could control 100 men with one man, unless the 100 were divided. Quite often men were paid to start fights between two men. …

“(B)rothers and sisters across the country inside the maximum prisons began to awaken to the fact of their oppression. They began to realize, as Comrade George Jackson would say, that they were all a part of the prisoner class.

Hugo-Pinell-by-The-Black-Panther-112971-2-web

“They be­gan to realize that there was no way to survive that special brand of fas­cism particular to California prison camps except by beginning to work and struggle together. … The prisoner class, especially in California, began to understand the age-old fascist principle: If you can divide, you can conquer.

“There are two men who were chiefly responsible for bringing this idea to the forefront. They helped other com­rade inmates to transform the ideas of self-hatred and division into unity and love common to all people fighting to survive and retain dignity. These two brothers not only set this example in words, but in practice.

“Comrade George Jackson and Comrade Hugo Pinell, one Black and one Latino, were the living examples of the unity that can and must exist among the prisoner class. These two men were well known to other inmates as strong de­fenders of their people.

“Everyone knew of their love for the people, a love that astounded especially the prison officials of the state. It astounded them so thoroughly that these pigs had to try and portray them as animals, perverts, madmen and criminals in order to justify their plans to eventually get rid of such men.

“For when Com­rades George and Hugo walked and talked together, the prisoners began to get the message too well.

“In a well-planned move, the state of California and the U.S. government carried out the vicious assassination of Comrade George Jackson, field marshal of the Black Panther Party, on Aug. 21, 1971. Their plans to slaughter Hugo Pinell are now in full swing.”

What happened on New Folsom Prison’s B yard on Aug. 12, 2015?

California, the prisons are abundantly funded, but the billions of taxpayer dollars are spent in secret, as the media are prohibited from covering prisons. So the stories coming from the mainstream media about Yogi so far are based on press releases from CDCr, the Corrections Department, not from reporters who go inside to hear from prisoners.

Highly paid prison guards and their CCPOA (California Correctional Peace Officers Association) are called the most powerful lobby in the state. Guards at New Folsom, located in a suburb of Sacramento, the state capital, likely exert much of that influence. Is that why Yogi was sent there after more than 23 years at Pelican Bay?

“Once a man declares that he will retain his dignity, that he will not forfeit his manhood, then he has in essence declared war against the prison,” The Black Panther reported on Nov. 29, 1971. “He has declared war upon the guards, who operate on the smallest amount of intelligence and human un­derstanding, and upon the prison and state officials, whose every move is planned and calculated to help in this government’s last feeble attempts to quell the desire of the people to see power returned into the hands of the people. Hugo, from the very beginning of his imprisonment, made that declaration.”

Yogi’s enemies were not his comrades in the prisoner class – though he reportedly died at the hand of one or two prisoners, said to be white, though their race is unconfirmed. He was no threat to other prisoners. It was the guards who loathed him and loath the Agreement to End Hostilities, which he exemplified and set in motion over 40 years ago.

Khatari-Gaulden-Hugo-Pinell-San-Quentin-yard-1976-from-Kiilu

Sitting in the sunshine on the San Quentin yard in 1976 are Khatari Gaulden and Hugo Pinell. – Photo courtesy Kiilu Nyasha

Did they have him killed to demolish the agreement, to rekindle all-out race riots? Riots are job insurance for guards.

Several of the authors of the agreement have also been transferred to New Folsom, where they have been educating other prisoners to understand and wield its power. A prisoner on the C yard, Hakim Akbar-Jones, P-85158, wrote this to the Bay View in July:

“Let this be understood: At CSP Sacramento on the C yard, the End to Hostilities Agreement is in full effect. Even though the summertime is here, there is rhythm and harmony amongst respective class members. There are diligent efforts made on all fronts to work hand to hand in solidarity to build a better future amongst the prison class. With this said, we stand fast and salute all conscious guerrilla revolutionaries whose concepts have been brought forth and come to fruition, those in solidarity who support the movement, thus bringing on and creating positive change for the oppressed.”

Does this sound like a place where Hugo Pinell, the legend, the giant amongst conscious guerrilla revolutionaries, would not be protected? Did the other prisoners even know that Yogi would be joining them on the yard on Aug. 12?

What else are the guards afraid of?

Three initiatives are underway that could empty the SHUs and empower the remaining prisoners, and the guards, fearing for their jobs, are fighting them. A reasonable assumption is that the guards expect that the assassination of Hugo Pinell will see a return of the bad old days of racial violence to “justify” filling the SHUs and guaranteeing job security and top pay for guards:

Black Guerrilla Family – According to family members of prisoners who have been negotiating the hunger strikers’ demands with CDCr administrators since the hunger strikes began in 2011, CDCr has decided to remove the Black Guerrilla Family from the list of eight prison gangs because it’s a political not a criminal organization, but reportedly the guards and their CCPOA are furiously opposed. If BGF is not a prison gang, then all the Black prisoners “validated” as BGF “gangsters” would have to be released from SHU.

George Jackson University – Abdul Olugbala Shakur (s/n James Harvey) recently settled a suit to legitimize George Jackson University, which 25,000 prisoners signed up for when he and other prisoners and outside supporters founded it years ago. Guards are adamantly opposed to the distribution and study of books that prisoners might find mentally and spiritually liberating and have prevented the prisoner-led institution from taking root. Though the settlement terms have not yet been revealed, guards are undoubtedly fearful.

Hugo-Pinell-1982

Hugo Pinell in 1982

Class action lawsuit to end solitary confinement in California – Currently in settlement talks with CDCr are the attorneys for the plaintiff class of prisoners who have been held in the Pelican Bay SHU for 10 years or more. The attorneys are led by Jules Lobel, president of the very prestigious New York based Center for Constitutional Rights, the public interest law firm that also represents many of the hunger-striking prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The New York Times is giving the case multi-media coverage, including a recent video showing some of the plaintiffs describing how they survive the torture of long term solitary confinement. If the case doesn’t settle, trial is set for December.

These initiatives, bolstered by the awakening in the court of public opinion to the evils of mass incarceration and solitary confinement, are driving efforts by California prison guards and their “union,” CCPOA, to demolish the carefully constructed Agreement to End Hostilities and revert to racial warfare that divides and conquers prisoners of all colors so that the guards can rule over them as cruelly as they want without getting their hands dirty.
We call for a full independent investigation immediately

The Bay View, joining a consensus of prisoner family members and advocates, calls for investigations into Yogi’s death at both the state and federal level. We challenge California Attorney General Kamala Harris, now a candidate for U.S. Senate, and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to demonstrate they believe this Black life – the life of Hugo Pinell – matters. Harris, whose office acts as the attorney representing CDCr, needs to counsel her client to reign in the guards, especially the gang investigators.

We also call for the full and fair investigation of all deaths in jails and prisons, where incarcerated people are routinely abused and tortured and even killed. Begin with Sandra Bland and Hugo Pinell.

Yogi’s attorney, Keith Wattley, says his family is planning a wrongful death lawsuit.
Honor our fallen comrade

Long live Hugo Pinell, who showed us the power of the human spirit, that love can survive and overpower hell on earth.

Hugo Pinell in 2001

Hugo Pinell in 2001

To anyone tempted to avenge Yogi’s death against another race, remember the wisdom of the Panthers: “If you can divide, you can conquer.” Ever wonder why the Bay View calls our prison section Behind Enemy Lines? The prison system, not another prisoner, is the enemy that hopes you won’t get out alive.

Embrace Yogi’s spirit and read the words that follow from current and former prisoners who loved him back.

Dr. Willie Ratcliff is publisher and Mary Ratcliff is editor of the San Francisco Bay View. They can be reached at editor@sfbayview.com or 415-671-0789.

Yogi’s time

by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Written July 30, 2006 – Few of us know the name Hugo Pinell.

That’s because the last time it was in the newspapers was probably in 1971, or 1976, when he was tried as a member of the famous San Quentin 6, six young Black prisoners facing assault charges stemming from battles with prison guards at the notoriously repressive California prison.

Yet that wasn’t the beginning nor the end of things.

Hugo Pinell (known as Yogi by his friends) came to the U.S. as a 12-year-old from a small town on Nicaragua’s East Coast. If he knew then the hell he would face in America, would he have left the land of his birth? We’ll never know.

He came. And he spent the last 42 years in prison – 34 of them in solitary! He hasn’t had a write-up in 24 years.

Now, his family and lawyer are seeking his parole after a lifetime in some of the most repressive joints in America.

Why so long? Why so many years? The answer, not surprisingly, is politics. Hugo was a student and comrade of the legendary Black Panther Field Marshal, the late George Jackson, with whom he worked to organize other Black prisoners against the racist violence and prison conditions of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Consider this: When Hugo was sent to prison, Lyndon Baines Johnson was president, bombing in the Vietnam War was intensifying and Martin Luther King Jr. was still alive!

Of his introduction to the prison system, Yogi would later write:

Of these three political prisoners, Hugo Pinell, Mumia Abu Jamal and Nuh Washington, only Mumia is now alive, and his health has been precarious lately due to the prison system’s medical neglect and abuse. – Art: Kiilu Nyasha

Of these three political prisoners, Hugo Pinell, Mumia Abu Jamal and Nuh Washington, only Mumia is now alive, and his health has been precarious lately due to the prison system’s medical neglect and abuse. – Art: Kiilu Nyasha

“I was 19 years old when I turned myself in. I pled guilty to the charge of rape with the understanding that I would be eligible for parole after six months. When I arrived at the California Department of Corrections, I was informed that I had been sentenced to three years to life.”

California’s notoriously unjust indeterminate sentencing has led in part to the present prison overcrowding that now threatens to bankrupt the system. California’s prisons are roughly 172 percent over capacity, and parole is a broken, nonfunctional agency.

That’s not just my opinion, but California State Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, has called the present regime a “failure,” particularly the parole system.

Despite California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2004 promises of major reforms of the parole system, which would lead to significant prisoner population reductions, the incarceration rate has soared. Today, there are a record 168,000 people in 33 state prisons, nearly double the rated capacity.

As Hugo Pinell seeks parole, California is spending $7.9 billion – yeah, with a “b”! – in the next fiscal year, an increase of $600 million a year for a prison system that has one of the worst recidivism rates in the nation, 60 percent!

Clearly, the so-called “Correctional and Rehabilitation” Department has failed in its mission to do both.

Support parole for Hugo Pinell; 42 years is more than enough.

© Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal. Keep updated at www.freemumia.com. His new book is “Writing on the Wall,” edited by Joanna Hernandez. For Mumia’s commentaries, visit www.prisonradio.org. Encourage the media to publish and broadcast Mumia’s commentaries and interviews. Send our brotha some love and light: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI-Mahanoy, 301 Morea Road, Frackville, PA 17932.

Hugo Pinell – Rest in Power!

by Claude Marks

Graphic courtesy Freedom Archives

Graphic courtesy Freedom Archives

We are saddened by the news of Hugo Pinell’s death. Hugo Pinell always expressed a strong spirit of resistance. He worked tirelessly as an educator and activist to build racial solidarity inside of California’s prison system.

Incarcerated in 1965, like so many others, Hugo became politicized inside the California prison system.

In addition to exploring his Nicaraguan heritage, Hugo was influenced by civil rights activists and thinkers such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King as well as his comrades inside including George Jackson. His leadership in combating the virulent racism of the prison guards and officials made him a prime target for retribution and Hugo soon found himself confined in the San Quentin Adjustment Center.

While at San Quentin, Hugo and five other politically conscious prisoners were charged with participating in an Aug. 21, 1971, rebellion and alleged escape attempt, which resulted in the assassination of George Jackson by prison guards. Hugo Pinell, Willie Tate, Johnny Larry Spain, David Johnson, Fleeta Drumgo and Luis Talamantez became known as the San Quentin 6.

Their subsequent 16-month trial was the longest in the state’s history at the time. The San Quentin 6 became a global symbol of unyielding resistance against the prison system and its violent, racist design.

As the California prisons began to lock people up in long-term isolation and control unit facilities, Hugo was placed inside of the SHU (Security Housing Unit) in prisons including Tehachapi, Corcoran and Pelican Bay. There, despite being locked in a cell for 23 hours a day, he continued to work for racial unity and an end to the torturous conditions and racially and politically motivated placement of people into the SHU. This work included his participation in the California Prison Hunger Strikes as well as supporting the Agreement to End Racial Hostilities in 2011.

At the time of his death, Hugo had been locked behind bars for 50 years, yet his spirit was unbroken.

Claude Marks, director of Freedom Archives, 522 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110, (415) 863-9977, www.Freedomarchives.org, can be reached at claude@freedomarchives.org.

Hasta Siempre Hugo (Forever Hugo)

Solidarity forever

And we are saddened

Solidarity left

You when (it) should have

Counted for something and

What your long imprisoned

Life stood for

Now all your struggles

To be free have failed

And only death

Inglorious and violent

Death has

Claimed you

At the hands of the

Cruel prison system

La Luta Continua

– Bato and the San Quentin 3: Willie “Sundiata” Tate, David Johnson and Luis “Bato” Talamantez, who can be reached at batowato@gmail.com

Chelsea threatened with indefinite solitary confinement

From chelseamanning.org:
chelsea-manning

August 12, 2015

Aside from her 35-year prison sentence, Chelsea Manning is now facing indefinite solitary confinement to be determined in a hearing next Tuesday, August 18.

Worse yet, Chelsea faces this incomprehensibly severe punishment as a result of ridiculously innocuous institutional offenses, including the possession of books and magazines related to politics and LBGTQ issues (which she received openly via the prison mail system), and having a tube of toothpaste that was past its expiration date (apparently deemed “medical mis-use”). The catalyst for this attack on Chelsea seems to have been an incident in the mess hall where she may have pushed, brushed, or accidentally knocked, a small amount of food off of her table. She then asked to speak to her lawyer when confronted by a guard. The absurd charges were tacked on later.

These charges obviously could never justify indefinite solitary confinement- one of worst forms of psychological torture. Chelsea is now regularly publishing op-eds in the Guardian newspaper, and recently won the ability to begin hormone therapy by threatening to sue the military. It’s clear this is an attempt to silence Chelsea’s voice.

Our friends at Fight for the Future (FFTF) have created a petition where you can sign on to a letter condemning the US Army’s treatment of Chelsea.

As FFTF notes, this is a disturbing attempt to silence Chelsea’s voice. Chelsea has been very active while in prison, speaking out through her twitter account about issues of government transparency, transgender rights, and the prison system. She’s been writing a regular column for The Guardian, and even wrote a bill to reform the Espionage Act and protect journalism.These absurd charges against Chelsea, and the outrageous threat of indefinite solitary confinement, are clearly an attempt to silence Chelsea’s important voice and cut her off from the outside world.We have to make sure this attempt to silence Chelsea not only fails, but backfires. Fight for the Future has created a petition to let the U.S. government know that the whole world is watching, and we won’t stand by while they jail and torture whistleblowers who stand up for democracy and free speech. Sign and share this petition right now!

Chelsea requested that her hearing be open to the press- but she was denied. If it’s not open to the public and the press, there will be no way to ensure that Chelsea isn’t unfairly subjected to one of the worst forms of psychological torture.

Below is an actual list of the charges that were sent to Chelsea (emphasis added).

charge_sheet-chelsea1439414562163

Here’s the list of books and magazines that were taken from Chelsea and not returned: Vanity Fair issue with Caitlyn Jenner on the cover, Advocate, OUT Magazine, Cosmopolitan issue with an interview of Chelsea, Transgender Studies Quarterly, novel about trans issues “A Safe Girl to Love,” book “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy — The Many Faces of Anonymous,” book “I Am Malala,” 5 books by Robert Dorkin, legal documents including the Senate Torture Report, book: “Hidden Qualities that Make Us Influential.”

“Given the materials that were confiscated, it is concerning that the military and Leavenworth might be taking action for the purpose of chilling Chelsea’s speech or even with the goal of silencing her altogether by placing her in solitary,” ACLU attorney Chase Strangio wrote. “Hopefully with public scrutiny the prison will respond by dismissing these charges and ensuring that she is not unfairly targeted based on her activism, her identity, and her pending lawsuit.”

August 10 is Prisoners’ Justice Day: Let’s Bring the BOP’s Plans for a Prison on Mountaintop Removal Site to the Forefront

From Earth First! Journal:

By Panagioti / Prison Ecology Project

August 10 is a day that prisoners have declared Prisoners’ Justice Day. It’s a day to demonstrate solidarity in remembrance of those who have died unnecessarily behind bars—victims of murder, suicide and neglect—at the hands of the police state.

August-10-plants-break-cuffs

 

It started in Canada in 1975 following the death of prisoner Edward Nalon in a solitary unit of Millhaven Maximum Security Prison located in Ontario, and it has remained most recognized in that country. While there has been some success in calling to use this day as a way to bring awareness to the plights of incarcerated people who suffer injustice worldwide, it still hasn’t quite caught on in the U.S. … yet.

[Check out a collection of reflections from Prisoner Justice Day in recent years here, specifically this “open letter to construction workers at prisons” released in tandem with a 2012 call for blockades of work aimed at expanding the Collins Bay and Frontenac prisons.]

But anti-prison activists in the U.S. and abroad, particularly those with an interest in environmental justice, should note that this year’s August 10 is marked by the proposal to build a new federal maximum security prison in the Appalachian mountains of Letcher County in eastern Kentucky, on top of a former mountaintop removal coal mine.

Just this week, after several years of local debate about the economic failures of building prisons on low-income rural areas, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has announced plans to move forward with another prison in a region that has been dubbed Appalachia’s Gulag Archipelago.

Despite the area’s long history of pollution from decades of blasting for coal, politicians like U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers have insisted on piling prisoners into this remote location which is likely to poison prisoners with tainted water. It also happens to be far from any reasonable transit options for family visitation, not to mention being planned on threatened and endangered species habitat of the incredibly biodiverse region.

What to do about the BOP’s Letcher County plan this Aug 10? 

Prisoners’ Justice Day is fast-approaching, but it’s not too late to plan for action. A quick place to start is sending over a letter to the BOP within this 30-day window telling them that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS )is insufficient, as it does not recognize the civil rights that prisoners have to receive environmental justice protections. This is, of course, in addition to the myriad concerns related to perpetuating the racist and classist mass incarceration system by building more prisons to extract poor people from their communities and warehouse them in toxic places.

Also worth noting is that there is a major PR firm called Cardno who is contracted by the BOP to conduct the EIS study. They are likely representing many more of your corporate and state enemies as well. According to their website, “Cardno now has about 8,200 staff working in 300 offices, on projects across more than 100 countries around the world.”  Their corporate offices are located within the following regions:
Australasia    Middle East    UK/Europe
North America    Africa    Asia
Latin America

 

 

The following text provides some additional history on Prisoners Justice Day becoming international day of solidarity with prisoners:

justice4prisoners

In 1983, prisoners in France refused to eat in recognition of August 10th, the following statement would be read on the Paris radio station Frequence-Libre:

Why not have on August 10 an international day of solidarity with our imprisoned brothers and sisters,

For here or elsewhere, prison kills,
Whether it be Nalon in Ontario, Bader or Meinhoff in West Germany,
Claude or Ivan in Switzerland, Bobby Sands in Ireland,
Mirval, Haadjadj, Onno, Youssef or so many others in France,
Whether they are serving 53 years like Alexandre Cotte or 16 years like Youssef,
Whether they are considered political or common prisoners,
PRISON KILLS!

By the mid 1990´s prisoners in parts of Germany, England and the United States would join this day of protest.

The number of issues focused on over twenty-five years has been extensive:

Double Bunking
Youth Incarceration
Safe Tattooing Inside
Special Handling Units
The Wrongfully Convicted
Twenty-five Year Sentences
The Right to Freedom of Speech
The Women Self-defense Review
Abolition of National Parole Board
The Right to Vote in Federal Elections
Decriminalization of Victimless Crime
Health Care Needs of Prisoners With HIV & AIDS
Return to Shorter Sentences with 1/3 Time Off For Good Behaviour
Medical Care and the Same Options for Treatment as Outside Prison
The Integration of Protective Custody prisoners into General Population
Decarceration – Release of Prisoners Who Already Served Their Sentence
Alternatives to Incarceration – the Eventual Abolition of Prisons
The Recognition of Political Prisoners in Canada
Early Intervention Programs for At-Risk Youth
Moratorium on the Building of New Prisons
The Incarceration of Refugee Claimants
The Prisoners´ Right to Unionize
Privatization of Food Services
Needle Exchange Programs
Privatization of Prisons
Involuntary Transfers
Education Programs
Gating of Prisoners

The Right to Recognize August 10th Without Reprisals

PRISONERS’ JUSTICE DAY IS…

…August 10, the day prisoners have set aside as a day to fast and refuse to work in a show of solidarity to remember those who have died unnecessarily — victims of murder, suicide and neglect.

…the day when organizations and individuals in the community hold demonstrations, vigils, worship services and other events in common resistance with prisoners.

…the day to raise issue with the fact that a very high rate of women are in prison for protecting themselves against their abusers. This makes it obvious that the legal system does not protect women who suffer violence at the hands of their partners.

…is the day to remember that there are a disproportionate number of Natives, African-Canadians and other minorities and marginalized people in prisons. Prisons are the ultimate form of oppression against struggles of recognition and self-determination.

…the day to raise public awareness of the demands made by prisoners to change the criminal justice system and the brutal and inhumane conditions that lead to so many prison deaths.

…the day to oppose prison violence, police violence, and violence against women and children.

…the day to publicize that, in their fight for freedom and equality, the actions of many political prisoners have been criminalized by government. As a result, there are false claims that there are no political prisoners in north american prisons.

…the day to raise public awareness of the economic and social costs of a system of criminal justice which punishes for revenge. If there is ever to be social justice, it will only come about using a model of healing justice, connecting people to the crimes and helping offenders take responsibility for their actions.

…the day to renew the struggle for HIV/AIDS education, prevention and treatment in prison.

…the day to remind people that the criminal justice system and the psychiatric system are mutually reinforcing methods that the state uses to control human beings. There is a lot of brutality by staff committed in the name of treatment. Moreover, many deaths in the psych-prisons remain uninvestigated.

Info on Prisoners’ Justice Day courtesy of PrisonJustice.ca.