Our Palestine statement draws on history of Black internationalism, says organizer

From Electronic Intifada:

Black liberation movements in the US have increasingly been making connections with Palestine. (Mikasi/Flickr)

Black liberation movements in the US have increasingly been making connections with Palestine. (Mikasi/Flickr)

Kristian Davis Bailey is a Detroit-based writer and organizer who recently put together the “Black for Palestine” statement. More than 1,100 Black scholars, activists, students, artists and organizations have signed on, including Angela Davis, Cornel West, Talib Kweli, political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and others.

The statement lays out a framework for Black solidarity with Palestinian liberation and calls for exploring the connections between Palestinian and Black liberation as well as the oppressive linkages between the United States and Israel. The statement calls for support of boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts against Israel and calls attention to Israel’s oppression of African-descended populations in Palestine.

Davis Bailey has written for Ebony, Mondoweiss, Truth-Out and elsewhere. I caught up with him to find out more about “Black for Palestine” and the opportunities and challenges it presents.

Jimmy Johnson: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. Please introduce yourself.

Kristian Davis Bailey: My name is Kristian Davis Bailey and I’m one of the co-organizers of the “Black For Palestine” statement. I’m currently a freelance writer based in Detroit.

JJ: Where were you before Detroit and what were you doing?

KDB: Before Detroit I was a student at Stanford where I was involved with Students for Justice in Palestine at the campus level, across California and nationally.

JJ: Can you tell me a bit about the “Black For Palestine” statement and the process of creating it?

KDB: The statement emerged out of two separate statements that I and my co-organizer Khury Petersen-Smith had organized last summer during the height of the assault on Gaza. We’d each found ourselves unable to publish our statements while the media would pick it up so we figured that this year we would combine our efforts to write a statement on the anniversary of the assault on Gaza which wound up being much bigger than what each of us had organized the summer before.

It is worth noting that some of the key signatories this year had also signed last year. The Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis had signed on to last year’s statement before Mike Brown was killed and connections were being made to Palestine. Hopefully we’ll publish those earlier statements soon.

JJ: You bring up a good connection with the Organization for Black Struggle because the release of this statement is not only the anniversary of the attack on Gaza but also something going on in the US. Can you make that connection? Both your intentions around the timing of the release, as well as the connections you see there.

KDB: It was really important for us to note that the statement emerged out of the past year of solidarity between the Black and Palestinian struggles, specifically: connections people were making on the ground in Ferguson to Palestine. I think none of the developments in the past year would have happened if people on the ground hadn’t themselves started to organically connect what they were witnessing in terms of military vehicles in their communities, being tear-gassed and shot at during protests, if they hadn’t connected those things to what they were seeing in Palestine and if Palestinian organizers hadn’t reached out in solidarity to the people in Ferguson.

What the statement represents is how firm of a connection there is for organizers in St. Louis with the Palestinian struggle. It’s not just a slogan we’ve used at protests but something that people facing the brunt of repression and doing the majority of the organizing on the ground have decided to be a part of themselves. I think that’s why St. Louis is the most represented city on the statement in terms of organizational signatories.

JJ: It sounds kind of like the development and the recruitment of the signatories is really based in joint work that’s being done together.

KDB: Right. Most of the people who signed the statement, whether they’re individuals or organizations, have been actively engaging with Palestine well before the last year. There were a lot of old school organizers who have been doing this solidarity work since the ’60s and ’70s that signed on, in addition to groups like the Dream Defenders which over the past few years have started to engage more with the Palestinian issue. So, I forget what your question is but my answer is “yes” [laughter].

JJ: A Kenyan author named Mukoma Wa Ngugi gave a presentation a few years back at Wayne State here in Detroit and he was talking specifically about relations between African migrants and Black Americans and he talked about the way that white supremacy forms a veil that literally colors the relationships between these two groups but also between all groups, although the details are different for any two groups.

And one of the things he mentioned was that the only way to get past this is to put in work together to supersede and subvert this veil that colors the relationships between, for example, Black folks and Palestinians, Black folks and Arab folks. That sounds a little bit like what’s going on.

KDB: Again I’ll focus on St. Louis because that’s a story I know a little bit about. The solidarity organizing between the Organization for Black Struggle and the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee has been going on for at least three or four years. The two groups both worked together to oppose Veolia being given a contract to privatize the city’s water, both recognizing what Veolia was doing in occupied Palestine and for the danger it presented to the people in St. Louis.

The Organization for Black Struggle was also crucial in a cultural boycott action. I don’t know how many years ago it was but it was Organization for Black Struggle organizers who said, “We will pull out of this event unless these artists are disinvited.” That was the work of very principled solidarity on the part of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee.

At the same time you have a Palestinian member of the solidarity committee whose father is a shop owner in a predominantly Black part of St. Louis and what he had been working on was to take all of the hard liquor out of his store after he was realizing the impact it was having on the Black community in St. Louis. He also set up a couple of initiatives to contribute some of the profits from his shop to local organizing efforts in the community.

I wanted to offer that as a real solid example of what Palestinian solidarity in the US, or not even solidarity but direct action against anti-Blackness looks like, and that’s an example of some of the principled actions and alliances that preceded the Ferguson-Palestine connection and solidarity.

JJ: This isn’t the first statement of Black solidarity with Palestine. Can you contextualize this action a bit in the internationalism of the radical Black tradition?

KDB: Definitely. So Black support for Palestine comes out of the tradition of Black internationalism within the radical segment of our liberation struggle. Malcolm X was talking about the dangers of Zionism in the 1960s. The Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee released its statement at the same time the Black Panther Party was training with the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] in Algeria.

In 1970 you had a group of prominent Black activists or scholars take out a New York Times ad supporting Palestinian liberation from Zionism and some of those signatories also signed our statement today in 2015. So there is a rich tradition of Black solidarity with international struggles broadly, and specifically with Palestine. I definitely contextualize this statement within that broader history of Black internationalism.

JJ: What would you say is the purpose of releasing this statement beyond a symbolic declaration of solidarity?

KDB: There are a couple of things. There is the suggestion that both Black and Palestinian people, and people around the world that support us, can join very targeted campaigns against companies that profit from the oppression of both groups, such as G4S and Veolia. Beyond that one of my individual hopes as an organizer is that this represents the current chapter of the Black liberation movement getting involved in the international arena once again to the degree that we were in the ’60s and ’70s. Because I think a lot of that momentum and a lot of those alliances were very intentionally targeted or repressed in the ’80s up through today even.

JJ: Some of the work being done to reignite alliances that were built between radical groups in the 1960s and ’70s, we’ve seen some attempts of that where there is a flattening effect. For example non-Black people of color using a people of color paradigm and erasing the specificities of anti-Blackness. Can you talk a little bit about the opportunities presented by “Black For Palestine” to engage not only Palestinian liberation but the specificity of anti-Blackness in solidarity?

KDB: Definitely. I’m glad you raised that because one of the points of reference I organize from is the understanding that white supremacy affects different groups in different ways here in the United States. So the anti-Black racism and the anti-Blackness that we experience and live under is of a distinct nature from the anti-indigenous or genocidal policies that indigenous folks here have experienced, is distinct from the experiences of non-Black, non-indigenous immigrants to this country.

A lot of times what happens is the differences between these groups are flattened out where we say “people of color” and we talk about how people of color are oppressed under white supremacy without acknowledging the power dynamics that are at play between our communities — so without acknowledging that every non-Black ethnic group or immigrant group in the United States is complicit in anti-Blackness or anti-Black racism.

One of the things that I hope comes up in discussions is a very critical examination of the ways that Palestinians — or just non-Black people in the United States — participate in anti-Blackness. So that for me represents a difference between joint struggle and maybe solidarity, where under joint struggle we acknowledge the different relations in terms of power between our communities and how that impacts how we relate to each other and how we organize.

So I think there’s a lot of room coming out of this statement for folks to organize around Arab anti-Black racism or for Palestine supporters who aren’t Arab to organize against their own anti-Blackness or their position as settlers in a settler colonial society.

JJ: One thing that stands out among many parts of the “Black For Palestine” statement is the phrasing that “Israel’s widespread use of detention and imprisonment against Palestinians evokes the mass incarceration of Black people in the US, including the political imprisonment of our own revolutionaries.” So can you expand upon this idea of the colonial, carceral state?

KDB: Sure. The first thing I want to talk about is how incredibly powerful of an experience and expression it was to have 10 currently incarcerated political prisoners respond to our call for signatures and sign the statement from behind bars. Their participation in our statement highlights the fact that they’re also a population whose liberation from the prison-industrial complex we need to be fighting for.

Also they represent the internationalism and revolutionary spirit that was intentionally targeted and killed from the 1980s onward. So their participation and inclusion in this statement is a link back to that era, specifically Mumia Abu-Jamal and Sundiata Acoli. Beyond that one of the things I’m thinking of about that line on mass incarceration is the need to abolish prisons.

There is different rhetoric around prisons in Palestine and here in the US but I do think they’re similar enough in the sense that we often don’t think of people arrested for drug crimes in the US as political prisoners but they are imprisoned under a very intentional political system that discriminates against them across every point of the so-called justice system.

The need to criminalize the existence or resistance of populations under settler colonialism leads to mass or hyper incarceration both in the United States and in Palestine and that prison abolition in that context is something we need to center.

JJ: What can Palestinian and Black people learn from each other?

KBD: From Palestinians we learn the importance of struggling for self-determination — a right that Black people in the US have never experienced, from our ancestor’s forcible kidnapping to this continent and the end of the Civil War through today. This is a right that Palestinians refuse to let go of through their sumoud, or steadfastness — and it is a right that Black people must claim as well.

The Black for Palestine statement highlighted the right of return as the most important aspect of justice for Palestinians because it cuts to the core of the “conflict” and is dismissed by Zionists and the US as “unrealistic.” For Palestinians to cling to and achieve the most “impossible” of their calls would be a boon to us, as we still fight for the “unrealistic” demands of reparations for our ancestors’ free and forced labor, or the abolition of prisons and the police.

The call for boycott, divestment and sanctions also models what it might look like for Black people in the US, across our varying political ideologies, to present basic criteria for us to exercise our own right to self-determination and to present basic actions people around the world can take to help us actualize our self-determination.

Our post-civil rights condition and the post-apartheid South African condition drive home the necessity for Palestinians to demand economic restructuring and safeguards both against decades of disinvestment and against neoliberal forces within the Palestinian political class. Full justice for Palestinians makes the case stronger for our own organizing in the US; full justice for Black Americans or South Africans makes the case stronger for Palestinians. I see each of these struggles as my own, because a victory for one group is a victory for us all. That is what motivates my work on this issue.

JJ: What kind of opportunities do you think “Black For Palestine” opens up for organizational solidarity with Black people in Palestine, be those articulated to the Israeli settler society or native Black Palestinians?

KDB: I think it opens up a lot of opportunities. One idea that has already come up as a result of the statement is bringing a delegation of African Palestinians here to the US so organizers can engage with them because too often they’re a population that gets erased from the narratives about Palestine within our own movement spaces here in the United States. And I know that there is already ongoing efforts between groups like the Dream Defenders and Black Youth Project 100 to connect Black and Brown people in the United States with the different African populations in historic Palestine, whether that is Ethiopian Israelis, Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers or African Palestinians.

This work is already happening so I think the statement is just another step for potential organizing between Africans in historic Palestine and Black people in the US.

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Black August, 35 Years Ago, To Black Lives Matter, Today

From Popular Resistance:

blm-ferguson

Black August, a month of political prisoner activism and commemoration, can help remind us of the nation’s exponentially expanding racist prison system.

Protesters march through the streets of Ferguson. (Jamelle Bouie / Wikimedia Commons)

A year ago this month, the streets of Ferguson, Missouri exploded in the wake of the murder of eighteen-year-old Black teen, Michael Brown, at the hands of white police officer, Darren Wilson. The world watched closely as military Humvees and the national guard armed with tear gas and rubber bullets transformed an otherwise quiet town in the Midwest into a historic battlefront for the Black Lives Matter movement, the present-day Black liberation struggle born after the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman over the murder of the Black seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Since the Ferguson riots last August, Black Lives Matter has radically shifted the national conversation on anti-Black racism and police brutality through massive protests, demonstrations, and online mobilizations that have galvanized a new generation of youth of color in the United States and around the world who refuse to allow the police to turn them into another murder statistic. Just last month, hundreds of Black activists gathered together in Cleveland, Ohio in a historic meeting for the inaugural Movement for Black Lives Convening, which featured panels and workshops on Black labor organizing, queer and trans justice, lessons from the Black Panther Party, among others.

A new Pew Research Center poll released this month further shows how Black Lives Matter is transforming the racial views of Americans (and particularly white Americans) in astounding ways. According to the poll, 59 percent of U.S. citizens believe that changes are necessary to afford equal rights to African Americans, up from 46 percent just last year, with a majority of whites (53 percent) agreeing. Black Lives Matter and related mobilizations across the country have forced white Americans to take racism and police brutality seriously to the point where most of them have come to agree that that police treat Blacks less fairly than other groups. That hot, tragic summer day in Ferguson and the riots they gave birth to last August launched a crucial movement to remind the world that Black Lives Matter.

Yet, as we take a moment this August to honor Ferguson and the past, present, and future of the Black Lives Matter movement, it might be useful to take a moment to recognize another important moment in the history of the Black freedom struggle taking place this month: Black August. More than thirty-five years ago, Black August was created by Black political prisoners in California’s infamous San Quentin State Prison in August 1979 to commemorate the long legacy of prison protest and other forgotten events in the history of Black freedom struggles. As cofounder Shuuja Graham told historian Dan Berger, “We figured that the people we wanted to remember wouldn’t be remembered during Black history month, so we started Black August.” In August 1971, Black Panther leader George Jackson was killed in a prison uprising, while his younger brother was killed the previous August attempt to free three prisoners. August was also the historic month in which Haitian slaves rebelled and launched the Haitian Revolution (August 21, 1791), initiating the successful destruction of chattel slavery on the island and the world’s first independent Black republic, and the month that Nat Turner led a slave revolt in southern Virginia (August 21, 1831). As a “kind of secular activist Ramadan,” as described by Berger, Black prisoners fasted, read, studied, and engaged in physical training and self-discipline. As Mumia Abu-Jamal notes, “August is a month of meaning, of repression and radical resistance, of injustice and divine justice; of repression and righteous rebellion; of individual and collective efforts to free the slaves and break the chains that bind us.”

Over the coming months, Black August’s origins within the prison system can help remind us that as Black men and women are being murdered by police on the streets, hundreds of others are being shipped away and locked up in the nation’s exponentially expanding penitentiaries. The United States has the largest prison population in the world—even larger than China or Russia—and Black Americans constitute a disproportionate percentage of that population. According to the NAACP, African Americans comprise 1 million of the 2.3 million total prisoners in this nation, and are incarcerated six times more than whites. Even though Blacks and Latinos compose one quarter of the national population, they comprised 58 percent of all prisoners as of 2008. Although 14 million whites and 2.6 million African Americans report using an illicit drug, African Americans are being sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of whites thanks to racist drug policies beginning in the 1970s. As of 2001, one in six Black men had been incarcerated, but if current trends continue, one in three Black men born today can expect to be imprisoned at some point in their lifetimes.

Black August can also help us remember that big money is increasingly behind this prison-industrial complex that devalues Black life. The past forty years have witnessed an unprecedented boom in incarceration rates in the United States. According to a report published by the National Research Council, the prison population grew from 200,000 to about 2.2 million between 1973 and 2009, which meant that the U.S. held about a quarter of the world’s prisoners. The period of prison privatization emerged in the 1980s when neoliberal policies began to expand across the globe, with the first U.S. private prison business operating in Hamilton County, Tennessee in 1984 under the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Today, privately run prisons are ubiquitous across the nation, even being dramatized on screen as seen in the last season of Orange is the New Black. Meanwhile, on the backs of Black and brown prisoners, CCA reported US$1.7 billion in total revenue in 2011 alone.

And Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the beloved “lesser of two evils” for many progressives, is just as mired in this racist monster of the private prison system. Last month, it was reported that Clinton was accepting contributions from known lobbyists for two of the country’s largest private prison corporations, CCA and the Geo Group, in addition to her usual donations from Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry. In light of this news, it’s no surprise that Clinton refused to address issues of structural racism when she was confronted by a group of Black Lives Matter activists in New Hampshire earlier this month. “She was not willing to concede that the inherent anti-blackness in the policies that were enacted to address problems is the cause of the problems we have today,” activist Julius Jones stated.

In the streets or behind gray prison doors, Black August offers a moment to focus and honor the long African American freedom struggles that are the current movement’s predecessors.

– – – –
View  the original article: www.teleSURtv.net/english

Jalil’s analysis for Future Focus

Jericho Movement:

jalil-muntaqim-webIn seven years, by 2023, the U.S. will be 40 percent minority, and 50 percent of the entire population will be under 40 years old. These are the demographics that cannot be ignored as progressives move forward building opposition to institutional racism and plutocratic governing.

In my thinking, it is incumbent on today’s activists to take into account what America will look like in ten years, so we will be better positioned to ensure the future will not be governed by deniers of change. In this regard, I am raising dialogue toward building a National Coalition for a Changed America (NCCA) comprised of social, economic and political activists who are prepared to build a future-focused America based on equitable distribution of wealth. It is important that progressives seek the means to organize greater unity and uniformity in ideological and political objectives toward the construction of a mass and popular movement. It is well established that the most pressing issues confronting the poor and oppressed peoples are wage inequities, housing displacement, dysfunctional public schools and student debt, climate change, the criminalization of the poor, mass incarceration, and the militarization of the police. In each are negative racial and economic implications creating social conflicts and confrontations.

However, the most pervasive and devastating cause for all of these issues is the unequal distribution of wealth. It is well researched and recorded that the wealth disparity, income gap between whites and blacks is 40% greater today than in 1967, with the average black household’s net worth at $6,314 and the average white household’s at $110,500 (New York Times, “When Whites Just Don’t Get It,” by Nicholas Kistof). When we account for how such economic disparity impacts educational opportunities or criminal behaviour in the black community, we are better able to identify the overall pernicious problem. The Brookings Institute reported last July that: “As poverty increased and spread during the 2000s, the number of distressed neighborhoods in the United States—defined as census tracts with poverty rates of 40% or more—climbed by nearly three-quarters.” The report continued: “The population living in such neighborhoods grew by similar margins (76%, or 5 million people) to reach 11.6 million by 2008-2012.” (New York Times, “Crime and Punishment,” by Charles M. Blow).

Obviously, America is in increasing economic crisis, especially when considering … “According to a recent paper by the economists Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics, almost all of the increase in American inequality over the last 30 years is attributable to the “rise of the share of wealth owned by the 0.1% richest families.” And much of that rise is driven by the top 0.01%. “The wealth of the top 1% grew an average of 3.9% a year from 1986 to 2012, though the top one-hundredth of that 1% saw its wealth grow about twice as fast. The 16,000 families in the tiptop category—those with fortunes of at least $111 million—have seen their share of national wealth nearly double since 2002, to 11.2%.” (New York Times, “Another Widening Gap: The Haves vs. the Have-Mores,” by Robert Frank).

Can there by any serious disputing the reality that this so-called democracy is actually a plutocracy, and the governing plutocrats have us all hustling and scraping for the crumbs, demanding a minimum wage increase, when we should be demanding control of production? Hence, it is necessary for progressives to realize the future of our struggle must be based on participatory democracy, direct-action engagement. It is important for the more educated and experienced activists to teach the younger activists, and young people in general need to know the future belongs to them, and we are concerned about what that future will look like and how to make it productive. It is essential we figure ways to bridge differences between the evolving demographics and growing minority population.

For instance, I am heartened to see young people taking to the streets challenging the common impunity of police repression and violence. Indeed, Black Lives Matter! However, I am not confident these protests will result in anything substantial in terms of institutional changes or build a sustainable movement. We remember Occupy Wall Street (OWS) had created similar national attention, but void a national organization, leadership or agenda (demands), it was a matter of time before OWS would dissipate and disappear after police removed the public nuisances.

In this regard, I am asking activists to post on their Facebook pages and other online sites these musings, for open discussion and dialogue. Specifically, I suggest that young people across the country enter open debate about the future of specific issues that have captured national attention. Obviously, it is necessary to build a mass and popular movement to effectuate real institutional change in this country. This was a vital lesson from the civil rights movement challenging the institution of Jim Crow. Therefore, I am urging young activists to consider organizing toward a “Million Youth Independence Day March” (MY-ID March) for July 4, 2016, in Washington, D.C., making the following demands:

1. De-Militarization and De-Centralization of the Police, Demand Community Control of Police

2. Debt Relief for College Students, Lower Tuition Cost for College Education;

3. Support the Manifestation of the Dreamers Act—Stop Deportations and the Splitting of Families.

These three issues, as they become part of the national dialogue and challenge to the plutocratic government, are able to unite a universal national determination. A one-issue protest/campaign is not sustainable when confronting an oppressive/repressive government policy supported by right-wing corporate interests. However, these interwoven issues reach three demographics of young people, each directly challenging institutions of government. Again, it is important to use the current unrest to forge a unified and uniform national youth movement.

Secondly, politically, we need to consider how best to ensure these issues become a major factor in the national debate, possibly imposing them into the national election of 2016. In this way, inspiring and encouraging a mass and popular youth movement organized during the election year of 2016, we empower the youth to be future focused. It is well established that it was the youth who were instrumental in getting Obama elected as President. Despite our collective disappointment with his presidency, the lesson learned is the power of the youth when united and determined to accomplish a task. Again, recognizing that in 7 years the electoral demographics will be drastically changed, it is time to prepare for that eventuality, even if some do not believe in the electoral process. Therefore, during the election year of 2016, not a single candidate will be permitted to conduct a public forum without being challenged by these issues. These would be acts of participatory democracy and direct-action engagement. Obviously, to hold a national rally and march in Washington, D.C. during the July 4, 2016 weekend tells the entire country that young people will divorce themselves from the status quo, becoming independent of the Republican/Democratic party politics.

In closing, it is anticipated this proposal will raise questions concerning the potential for the development of a National Coalition for a Changed America (NCCA). Permit me to say that this proposed organization is only a suggestion. I firmly believe that building a national coalition is necessary to establish a mass and popular movement capable of forcing institutional changes, including the ultimate goal of redistribution of America’s wealth. I request this paper be widely distributed and discussed. I am prepared to enter discussion with anyone interested in the potential development of a National Coalition for a Changed America. Lastly, I humbly request activists to review what I wrote in“Toward a New American Revolution.”

“Our First Line of Defense IS Power to the People!”

Remember: We Are Our Own Liberators!

In fierce struggle,
Jalil A. Muntaqim
Attica, February 2015

Write to Jalil:
Anthony J. Bottom #77A4283
Attica Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 149
Attica, NY 14011-0149

FAM Press Release: Protest at St. Clair Prison in Alabama

From Free Alabama Movement

FAM logo
February 1 Protest To Highlight Inhumane Conditions In Alabama Prisons

(Springville, Ala.) – Demanding an end to the filthy living conditions on
Alabama’s death row and “a culture of violence” carried out by officials
throughout the state’s maximum security prisons, families and friends of
the men, women and children who are incarcerated in Alabama prisons will hold a peaceful protest on Sunday, Feb. 1.

Sponsored by the Free Alabama Movement (FAM), the protest will begin at 11:30 a.m.
a.m. in front of the St. Clair Correctional Facility (SCCF), located at
1000 St. Clair Road in Springville.

FAM was started by men in Alabama state prisons to expose “the deplorable
conditions and the slave labor inside the cement walls” of the state’s
prisons. FAM has posted videos on You Tube in which over 80 men who are
incarcerated in the Alabama Department of Corrections give their personal
accounts about the inhumane living conditions they endure in Alabama
prisons.

Three Alabama maximum security prisons, St. Clair CF, Holman Correctional Facility,
and Donaldson Correctional Facility, all went on lockdown at some point in the past 10 days due to violent-related incidents.
Men and women are confined to their 8 by 12 foot cells 24 hours a day during lockdowns, and their family members
and friends cannot visit them.

On Jan. 25, several men on death row at Holman held a peaceful protest.
Holman officials have denied these men use of equipment to clean their
cells, and these men are being forced to eat cold sack lunches three times
a day. “We are human beings. Just because we’re on death row doesn’t mean
that we have to live like animals,” said one death row inmate. The guards
used pepper spray to punish the peaceful protesters in the segregation unit at Holman who were also protesting the inhumane living conditions.

SCCF has turned into one of the most dangerous prisons in America,
according to the FAM. The prison’s warden, Carter Davenport was previously
suspended in 2012 for assaulting a man confined at St. Clair in the head while he was
handcuffed.

Riot police have been called in at SCCF, according to FAM. In the last two
weeks, there have been at least 20 incidents in which people were
stabbed or assaulted by an officer,  at SCCF. Prisoner Jarvis “Flame” Jenkins was beaten twice by guards
and was seen with blood dripping from his clothes. Another SCCF prisoner,
Derrick LaKeith Brown, has been hospitalized with injuries for a week.

Prison officials Warden Walter Myers and Captain Darryl Fails, and others, removed  James Pleasant from his cell at Holman on January 23, 2015, and told him that he, Robert E.
Council (Holman) and Melvin Ray (St. Clair), known as the FAM 3, were problems to the ADOC and
threatened to kill them for exposing inhumane and illegal conditions inside
Alabama prisons.

FAM has been organizing Non-Violent and Peaceful Protests throughout the ADOC since January 1, 2015, when over a three week perios, over 4500 men participated in the demonstrated, which were supported by their families, friends, loved ones, and supporters nationwide.

For more information, call Ann Brooks at (256)783-1044.

UPDATED: On January 27, 2015, St. Clair CF went back on lockdown, where the overcrowding and lack of leadership from Warden Carter Davenport continues to cause a violent atmosphere.

Breaking: EDDIE CONWAY FREE‏

eddie-conway

Received via email from the National Jericho Network:

“Greetings
I just received the great news at 3:15 pm that Marshall Eddie Conway a Jericho Political Prisoner held for over 40 years has been released. More info to follow.”

According to an article in the Baltimore Sun:

Former Black Panther leader and convicted cop killer Marshall “Eddie” Conway was released after four decades behind bars on Tuesday, after striking an agreement with prosecutors over a challenge to his conviction based on of the way judges explained the law to juries in old cases.

Conway, now 67, spent more than 40 years behind bars after being convicted in the 1970 killing of Baltimore Police Officer Donald Sager, 35, who was killed in an ambush. Conway has maintained his innocence, saying that he was set up, and denied any role in the attack. For years there has been a campaign by supporters to get him pardoned.

His release Tuesday after a hearing in Baltimore Circuit Court was a result of the “Unger” decision, under which the state’s highest court ruled that jurors had been given improper instructions in cases tried before 1980. More than a dozen people were released last summer as a result of the decision, and officials have said as many as 200 others could be released.

Under the agreement, Conway’s conviction stands but he was re-sentenced to time served. He will be on supervised probation for the next five years, the agreement says.

Robert J. Boyle, one of Conway’s attorneys, said that while Conway has always maintained his innocence in the shooting, “he accepts this disposition and he willingly went along with it.”

But Boyle added that had Conway decided to press his claim under the Unger decision, he could have mounted a strong defense in any retrial.

“It was an extremely weak case against him,” said Boyle, who has worked on a number of cases involving wrongfully convicted Black Panthers.

The Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hailed Conway’s release as a triumph.

“Today is a monumental day for the thousands of Marylanders and the millions around the world that have championed the release of Marshall “Eddie” Conway for a very long time,” said President Tessa Hill-Aston. “The release of Conway after four decades of imprisonment is an important page turner in this tragic story. … Our prayers remain with him as he makes the transition to freedom.”

But police union officials said they were troubled by the release. In addition to Sager’s death, another officer, Stanley Sierakowsky, was wounded.

“It’s a very difficult thing to learn, after all these years, that he’s not going to fulfill the sentence he was given, which was life,” said Gene Ryan, vice president of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police lodge.

Saturday, Denver: Remember Herman, Fight for Albert, documentary film screening for the Angola 3

landofthefreePlease join the Denver Anarchist Black Cross at the Blair-Caldwell Research Library on Sat 10/12 starting at 2pm for a movie showing and discussion afterwards.

Saturday October 12, 2pm
Blair-Caldwell Research Library, 2401 Welton Street, Denver

In the Land of the Free… narrated by Samuel L. Jackson

“Tells the shocking and unbelievable story of Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King, three black men from rural Louisiana who were held in solitary confinement in the biggest prison in the U.S., an 18,000-acre former slave plantation known as Angola. Woodfox and Wallace, founding members of the first prison chapter of the Black Panther Party, worked along with King to speak out against the inhumane treatment and racial segregation in the prison. King was released in 2001 after almost thirty years of solitary confinement. Woodfox and Wallace, convicted in the highly contested stabbing death of white prison guard Brent Miller, remain in Angola where they have spent more than thirty-six years in solitary confinement. Made aware of their plight, Congressman John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, visited Wallace and Woodfox in prison in March 2008. This documentary tells the ongoing story of the case of these three extraordinary men.”

Herman Wallace was released last week, only to fatally succumb to his battle with liver cancer after a mere 3 days of freedom. Please join us to honor Herman, and discuss local efforts to ensure the freedom of his co-defendant and final imprisoned member of the Angola 3, Albert Woodfox.

If you can’t attend and would like to help us to support Albert Woodfox and other prisoners, please donate here if you can! Any amount helps… https://www.wepay.com/donations/denver-anarchist-black-cross

Herman Wallace: “The Muhammad Ali of the Justice System Passes On…”

hermanrelease2-300-DNFrom Angola 3 News:

This morning we lost without a doubt the biggest, bravest, and brashest personality in the political prisoner world.  It is with great sadness that we write with the news of Herman Wallace’s passing.

Herman never did anything half way.  He embraced his many quests and adventures in life with a tenacious gusto and fearless determination that will absolutely never be rivaled.  He was exceptionally loyal and loving to those he considered friends, and always went out of his way to stand up for those causes and individuals in need of a strong voice or fierce advocate, no matter the consequences.

Anyone lucky enough to have spent any time with Herman knows that his indomitable spirit will live on through his work and the example he left behind.  May each of us aspire to be as dedicated to something as Herman was to life, and to justice.

Below is a short obituary/press statement for those who didn’t know him well in case you wish to circulate something.  Tributes from those who were closest to Herman and more information on how to help preserve his legacy by keeping his struggle alive will soon follow.

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On October 4th, 2013, Herman Wallace, an icon of the modern prison reform movement and an innocent man, died a free man after spending an unimaginable 41 years in solitary confinement.

Herman spent the last four decades of his life fighting against all that is unjust in the criminal justice system, making international the inhuman plight that is long term solitary confinement, and struggling to prove that he was an innocent man.  Just 3 days before his passing, he succeeded, his conviction was overturned, and he was released to spend his final hours surrounded by loved ones.  Despite his brief moments of freedom, his case will now forever serve as a tragic example that justice delayed is justice denied.

Herman Wallace’s early life in New Orleans during the heyday of an unforgiving and unjust Jim Crow south often found him on the wrong side of the law and eventually he was sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola for armed robbery.  While there, he was introduced to the Black Panther’s powerful message of self determination and collective community action and quickly became one of its most persuasive and ardent practitioners.

Not long after he began to organize hunger and work strikes to protest the continued segregation, endemic corruption, and horrific abuse rampant at the prison, he and his fellow panther comrades Albert Woodfox and Robert King were charged with murders they did not commit and thrown in solitary.  Robert was released in 2001 after 29 years in solitary but Herman remained there for an unprecedented 41 years, and Albert is still in a 6×9 solitary cell.

Herman’s criminal case ended with his passing, but his legacy will live on through a civil lawsuit he filed jointly with Robert and Albert that seeks to define and abolish long term solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment, and through his comrade Albert Woodfox’s still active and promising bid for freedom from the wrongful conviction they both shared.

Herman was only 9 days shy of 72 years old.

Services will be held in New Orleans. The date and location will be forthcoming.

For more information visitwww.angola3.org andhttp://angola3news.blogspot.com/.