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.

——————

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/.

BREAKING: HERMAN WALLACE HAS BEEN FREED!

Herman-7-2013

From Democracy Now:

Angola 3 member Herman Wallace has been released from prison in Louisiana after 42 years in solitary confinement. Supporters say he is en route to New Orleans to live out his days in hospice. Watch Democracy Now! for update on Wednesday when we will be joined by fellow freed Angola 3 member Robert King, and by Wallace’s defense attorney, George Kendall.

We received this statement from Wallace’s legal team:

“Tonight, Herman Wallace has left the walls of Louisiana prisons and will be able to receive the medical care that his advanced liver cancer requires. It took the order of a federal judge to address the clear constitutional violations present in Mr. Wallace’s 1974 trial and grant him relief. The state of Louisiana has had many opportunities to address this injustice and has repeatedly and utterly failed to do so.

“Mr. Wallace has been granted a new trial, but his illness is terminal and advanced. However, the unfathomable punishment of more than four decades which Mr. Wallace spent in solitary confinement conditions will be the subject of litigation which will continue even after Mr. Wallace passes away. It is Mr. Wallace’s hope that this litigation will help ensure that others, including his lifelong friend and fellow ‘Angola 3′ member, Albert Woodfox, do not continue to suffer such cruel and unusual confinement even after Mr. Wallace is gone.”

BREAKING: State appeals decision, refuses to release Herman Wallace; Judge denies appeal, issues second order to release, threatens state with contempt charges

Herman-BikeFrom Angola 3 News:

After this morning’s bombshell ruling by Judge Jackson overturning Herman’s conviction and ordering his immediate release, his legal team has spent the day trying to convince Louisiana officials to do as the Court requires and let him go free.

As some outlets have reported, an ambulance has been outside the prison all afternoon ready to transport him out of prison to supporter sponsored accommodations complete with hospice care, but the State stubbornly refused release and filed a motion to Stay.

Just moments ago, Judge Jackson issued an order (view the court document here) denying the State’s desperate attempt at keeping Herman behind bars, again ordered his release, and cautioned Louisiana officials that their failure to release him immediately would put them in Contempt of Court.

We will update you as soon as we hear any more news.

BREAKING: Federal judge orders release of Angola 3 prisoner Herman Wallace

herman_wallace-aloneFrom Democracy Now:

A federal judge has ordered the immediate release of Herman Wallace, a member of the so-called Angola 3, who was held in solitary confinement for more than 40 years. The judge ordered his release because women were excluded from the grand jury in his case four decades ago, and called for “the State immediately release Mr. Wallace from custody.” The decision comes as Wallace is dying of liver cancer. Wallace’s supporters say he has just days to live, but his requests for compassionate release has so far gone unanswered.

Wallace reportedly received the news today from his two fellow members of the Angola 3, Albert Woodfox and Robert King Wilkerson, who had a previously scheduled visit. His lawyers are working now to secure his release as soon as possible.

Herman Wallace’s legal team said today:

“With today’s ruling, at long last, Herman Wallace has been afforded some measure of justice after a lifetime of injustice. We ask that the Department of Corrections honor Judge Jackson’s order and immediately release Herman Wallace so that he can spend his final days as a free man.”

“In addition, litigation challenging Mr. Wallace’s unconstitutional confinement in solitary confinement for four decades will continue in his name. It is Mr. Wallace’s hope that this litigation will help ensure that others, including his lifelong friend and fellow ‘Angola 3′ member, Albert Woodfox, do not continue to suffer such cruel and unusual confinement even after Mr. Wallace is gone.”

DABC Note: According to the Louisiana DOC, Herman is still in detention. We don’t know when or if Herman will actually be freed. Once we get confirmation of his release, we will update this article to reflect that.

Political Prisoner Mumia radio commentary predicts Zimmerman’s acquittal

Full audio file here at: http://www.prisonradio.org/media/audio/mumia/coming-acquittal-145-mumia-abu-jamal

Angola 3: Herman Wallace, gravely ill, fights for compassionate release

From MSNBC:

Herman Wallace, one of the remaining two imprisoned members of the Angola 3, has been diagnosed with liver cancer. Wallace’s attorney believes it is time for him to be let out of solitary confinement and more importantly receive a compassionate release.

Attorney Nick Trenticosta detailed his client’s condition on Saturday’s Melissa Harris-Perry. “He’s lost about 55 pounds in four months, and he is being treated completely negligently. I would say he’s being killed through intentional neglect.”

Currently 71 years old, Wallace has been in solitary confinement for more than 41 years for his 1972 conviction in the murder of prison guard Brent Miller. It is a conviction that he and the other members of the Angola 3 have fought because they have maintained their innocence in the brutal stabbing.

Given his critical diagnosis, his lawyers and organizations like Amnesty International are pushing for a compassionate release.

Asked whether he thought there was any chance that Wallace would receive a compassionate release, Trenticosta’s response was telling. “I don’t think so, and part of the reason is the state of Louisiana in the past six years has spent $6 million dollars in lawyer fees to keep a 71-year-old man in solitary confinement.”

Story with video

My Comrade, Richard Aoki

From the San Francisco Bay View:

by Elbert “Big Man” Howard

Their revolutionary spirit as strong as when they met 42 years earlier – despite life-threatening maladies – proud Black Panthers Richard Aoki and Elbert “Big Man” Howard enjoy coming together for the Oakland premiere of the award-winning documentary, “Merritt College Home of the Black Panthers,” in October 2008. – Photo: Carole Hyams

At almost 75 years of age, there are very few things in life that surprise me anymore. However, I can say I was not only surprisedby the allegations made against my comrade Richard Aoki, I was sickened. I should not have been surprised because I know that this government still has unfinished business with us, we Panthers, and being dead doesn’t free us from their need to persecute us and create chaos and mistrust among those of us who remain.

The San Francisco Chronicle, like most mainstream press, loves this shit. It was not so long ago when this administration found a way to try to destroy my comrades, the San Francisco 8, decades after several of them had been tortured and the case had been thrown out. The brothers were amazingly strong and eventually most of them have been able to go on with their lives, but at a great cost to all of them.

My comrade John Bowman’s death was most definitely hastened by the persecution (not prosecution, persecution). The SF Chronicle, at a very sensitive time in the case, produced a huge front page spread by a writer who tried to link the murder of a young woman, a totally unrelated occurrence, to this case. So the fact that the SF Chronicle was so eager to publish and sensationalize the garbage put out by this so-called author, Rosenfeld, with his “30 years of research,” is not a surprise to me.

Full story.

Famed Black Panther Party ally Richard Masato Aoki revealed as informant

From the SF Gate:

The man who gave the Black Panther Party some of its first firearms and weapons training – which preceded fatal shootouts with Oakland police in the turbulent 1960s – was an undercover FBI informer, according to a former bureau agent and an FBI report.

One of the Bay Area’s most prominent radical activists of the era, Richard Masato Aoki was known as a fierce militant who touted his street-fighting abilities. He was a member of several radical groups before joining and arming the Panthers, whose members received international notoriety for brandishing weapons during patrols of the Oakland police and a protest at the state Capitol.

Aoki went on to work for 25 years as a teacher, counselor and administrator at the Peralta Community College District, and after his suicide in 2009, he was revered as a fearless radical.

But unbeknownst to his fellow activists, Aoki had served as an FBI intelligence informant, covertly filing reports on a wide range of Bay Area political groups, according to the bureau agent who recruited him.

That agent, Burney Threadgill Jr., recalled that he approached Aoki in the late 1950s, about the time Aoki was graduating from Berkeley High School. He asked Aoki if he would join left-wing groups and report to the FBI.

“He was my informant. I developed him,” Threadgill said in an interview. “He was one of the best sources we had.”

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Activist-Richard-Aoki-named-as-informant-3800133.php#ixzz246MeAcMI

Angola 3: Report from second day of Albert Woodfox’s evidentiary hearing

From http://www.opednews.com/Diary/DAY-TWO-Albert-Woodfox-of-by-Angola-3-News-120531-277.html:

This is a short report about Albert Woodfox’s second day in court for an evidentiary hearing, on Wednesday, May 30. Written by the International Coalition to Free the Angola Three.

Report from Albert Woodfox’s Evidentiary Hearing
–DAY TWO: Wednesday, May 30

Midday the State rested their case, and both sides requested that the judge rule that the other had not met their burden and end the proceedings then and there. To avoid another delay in the proceedings for him to consider these motions, Judge Brady instead asked Albert’s legal team to proceed with the presentation of their case for the record while everyone was already assembled and promised to decide the pending motions sometime later.

Albert’s first expert witness was Dr. Marx, a statistician with a mountain of unimpeachable credentials who very artfully and clearly explained the heart of why the State’s numbers don’t show discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson but Albert’s do. The different results stem from a fundamental disagreement about not just the methodology and methods, but the very population to be examined in the first place.

The baseline group the State is using to calculate whether there was discrimination in the selection of the grand jury by race is based on broad census numbers of eligible voters, minus illiterates, but without adjusting for any of the other many factors used to qualify and seat voters for jury duty. In contrast, Albert’s expert relied upon the actual numbers of people who were called and found willing and able to serve as jurors as his base data pool for analysis. He made a credible and compelling argument that this more exact, case specific base number provided the only accurate, reliable result and demonstrated a strong, statistically significant pattern of racial discrimination in the selection of the forepersons in West Feliciana during the time of Albert’s retrial that simply cannot be explained by chance.

Testimony continues tomorrow as the third and final day of Albert’s third bid for freedom continues.

MORE INFO ABOUT EVIDENTIARY HEARING:

Unlike the first and second time that Albert’s conviction was overturned based on judges who cited racial discrimination, prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense, and suppression of exculpatory evidence during his first trials for the 1972 murder of Brent Miller, this proceeding will seek to overturn based on apparent discrimination in the selection of a grand jury foreperson during his 1998 retrial.

The well known facts of the A3 case will not be debated; all that will be examined is whether or not people of color were discriminated against during the grand jury selection process. This means instead of murder mystery theatre, witnesses will mostly discuss compositions of the pool of grand jury forepersons in the Parish where Albert was indicted. Expert witnesses will discuss statistical analysis and methodology, the demographics of the community, and the sociological mechanics of how discrimination can play out in the criminal justice system. If successful, this claim could serve to overturn Albert’s conviction for a third time.

Judge James A. Brady, the same judge who overturned Albert’s conviction the second time in 2008, will preside. That ruling was ultimately reinstated on appeal by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals who cited AEDPA-gutted habeas protections that limit federal power that allowed them to defer judgment to Louisiana.

Although there are no time limits officially imposed by law, Brady is expected to rule before the end of 2012.

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