Prisons and the Struggles Against Them (regularly updated)

From Dialectical Delinquents:

This page will be subject to regular updates, most notably in the chronology , but also in giving references to interesting texts. So far (22/8/15), in addition to the chronology , I’ve only put in a couple of minor personal experiences related to prison which follows the chronology, and
some other reading material , which will be added to bit by bit. But I wanted to put this out in time for this week’s “solidarity with anarchist prisoners”. 

This is dedicated to Keith LaMar, who in 1993 took part in a prison uprising which united blacks with white “nazis” 1 against the prison system, in which 9 prisoners and one guard died. Keith LaMar has just had his final appeal against the death penalty turned down, and it looks very likely that, after over 22 years, he will be murdered by the state  (look here).

gordon-1 gordon-2 gordon-riots-3

Pictures of the Gordon riots in London 1780, when several prisons were liberated and the buildings set on fire

I’ve put this out as a kind of contribution to the International week of solidarity with anarchist prisoners  (23-30 August). A bit tokenistic maybe – as it’s only an internet page, but  if there’s something going on in my part of the world (Montpellier, France) I’ll probably participate.

And whilst I really like, for instance, this from Emma Sheppard, why limit this solidarity to “anarchist prisoners”? Though obviously people who call themselves anarchists (I’m not one) are more in a position to express practical solidarity with prisoners who they know, do all those prisoners that they know call themselves anarchists? And on the most general level of information and propaganda, it seems  far more worthwhile to address all prisoners, considering the necessity for the abolition of prisons and of the society that requires them. Addressing only anarchist prisoners does not contribute to the necessity to overcome separations between “political” prisoners and other class war prisoners (and the vast majority of those in prison are because of class society, especially property laws). It seems to make a hierarchy between apparently “politically conscious” prisoners and others, even though most anarchists want the abolition of prisons. Which is why below I’ve listed a chronology of all prison-related riots, escapes and other things taken from my News of Opposition page, dating back to March 2013, regardless of whether they involved anarchists or not.


Amongst those who claim to want an anti-state revolution, there have been  some who  believe that “after the revolution” there will still be specialists-in-order (anarcho-cops) and prisons. For instance,  leading Libcom admin member Fall Back once called for, “far more complex, modern, well resourced kinds of ‘prisons’ with more progressive aims than currently exist…”communist prisons” …would be a place where people had broken laws would be forcibly detained”. 2 To talk about communist prisons being entirely different from capitalist prisons is like saying the communist State will be entirely different from the capitalist State: here so-called “anarchism” joins Leninism. Incarcerating anti-social leftovers of the mad alienation of class society (the recalcitrant ex-cops, ex-screws, mass-murdering politicians, mass-thieving bourgeoises, rapists, paedophiles, etc.) all in the same hellhole is obviously idiotic. If elements of communal constraint are necessary they will have nothing to do with the brutal repressive reality of prisons throughout history. To think that we’d call such forcible restraint a ‘prison’ is like calling ‘workers’ councils’ (or whatever term you’d like to imagine the future fantasy society to be) ‘the State’ or ‘the government’. This is not just a question of semantic terms but of a break with hierarchical notions and practices of social control. Killing scum is not the same as capital punishment. Forcible restraint is not the same as prison. A margin of rationing (where scarcity is not forced by capitalist property relations but comes about because of, for example, differences between different geographical areas) is not money. Obviously in this future possibility there will be some way of punishing people who act in ways the community they’re part of find unbearable. But it’s not just semantics that separates, say, “grounding” a teenage kid from the idea of putting him/her in prison, but a general attitude that you want social relations to constantly experiment with changes that have some healthy result. If we talk about the abolition of the State that also means abolishing specialists in social control; the task of determining the methods of making it clear to people that certain behaviour is unacceptable will be the task of the whole of the anti-hierarchical community. To ground this in the past and present: what punishments have we received or given that we considered changed a situation for the good? What punishments during intense moments of class struggle have changed situations for the good? What punishments are we prepared to mete out to those we consider beyond the pale? To anyone not clogged up with dominant perspectives, prison isn’t an answer to any of these.


This is a chronology of prison riots, hunger strikes and other prison-related matter taken from the News of Opposition page, going back to March 2013.


Australia, New South Wales: 10 hours of freedom


South Africa, Gauteng: 5 prisoners awaiting trial escape



Germany, Leipzig: court spray-painted in support of prisoners

Syria, Hama: hundreds of prisoners riot against conditions “…furniture and equipment ransacked and beds turned into barricades to sealed iron gates…. inmates, mostly held on terror-related charges and for joining protests against the state, took control of several major wards and ransacked prison quarters.“

Iran, Tehran: over 500 on hunger strike in new prison


US, California: riot follows prisoner’s killing of Hugo Pinell, one of the San Quentin 6 politicised prisoners of 1971, a man who’d killed a screw Though this is pure speculation – maybe this was manipulated by screws…? And this seems to confirm something like that…More here “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….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.


Palestine, Jerusalem: activists occupy Red Cross in support of hunger striking prisoner


Iran, Tehran: 500 on hunger strike in new prison


US, Arkansas: riot at prison causes hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of improvement


Eire, Dublin: prisoners take to the roof, riot “…two inmates remained on the prison roof staging a protest. They accessed the roof at around 11am, followed some time later by a linked protest at the B Yard in the west Dublin prison. Some 60 inmates in the yard refused to leave at 12pm. Prison authorities identified a core of 15 ringleaders, who …demolished soccer goals and used the metal posts, along with security razor wiring, as improvised weapons.” At the same time some of the prisoners take hostage and beat up an Afghani refugee.


Australia, Melbourne: another fire at prison famous for its earlier riot


UK, Surrey: prison riot

France, Yvelines: report of designer clothes manufacturer-cum-prisoner using his past to gain street cred and trying to calm down angry youths after constant on-off mini-riots This man in his thirties is known to all here. He is extremely active on social networks and in recent months has launched his clothing brand called “For youv”. All this from … his  prison cell  where he’s been  incarcerated for almost thirteen years after a series of robberies. “My past allows me to be credible to those kids”, says youv, who was given permission to organise a barbecue [presumably outside prison] “Burning cars, throwing stones at the police, I did it! And today I am in prison. And believe me, prison is not really an example. ” Sitting in the middle of a group of teenagers consuming a merguez sausage or emptying a coke, the young man commands respect. The kids listen in silence, in awe…. The discussion continues for several minutes. The tone is never preachy. He warns, pacifies, without pointing the finger at one youth or another. “I do not want to appoint blame, I do not want to be in a confrontation. I just use my little notoriety to make things happen in my own way, ” insists youv.  An intervention that could possibly bear fruit amongst this very young audience who are not very sensitive to traditional prevention messages.“


Algeria, Ouargla: youths attack courtroom and cops after arrests on previous day’s riot “…Comrades [of those previously arrested] … moved to Ouargla Court demanding their immediate release, without further ado …Young people decided to throw stones and other objects at the windows of the court in a sudden escalation of violence which sparked a forceful intervention from the security forces to deter attackers from crossing the boundary wall of the court and to protect the public building. The clashes lasted a good half hour before the youths were pushed outside the perimeter of the court which also has several banks, tax management, the headquarters of the wilaya [kind of prefecture] and the operational area of ​​the army ….The authorities had to close their doors, several businesses pulled down their shutters before the street regained its composure.


Germany, Berlin: security company car burnt, culmination of other anti-political attacks on cars


Argentina, Wallmapu: indigenous prisoners in Great Escape



UK, London: SWP/SYRIZA meeting disrupted by anarchist prisoner solidarity group


Argentina, Tucuman: 20 youths attack police station with sticks and stones, burn or smash 3 cars belonging privately to cops and 2 hijacked vehicles According to this, this attack was made by friends and family of someone who died of asphyxiation in a prison.


US, Arizona: I have only one burning desire – let me stand next to your fire


US, Arizona: July 4th celebrations prison-style Problems began July 2 in the medium-security Hualapai Unit of the Arizona State Prison Complex-Kingman when inmates were “non-compliant and caused significant damage” in two housing areas”

South Africa, North West: Famous 5 On Adventure Holiday 


US: Arizona: 2nd night of riot in prison In Wednesday’s incident, a small group of minimum security inmates were chasing down an inmate when prison staff intervened to stop the assault, Wilder said. The inmates assaulted the officers, and six officers suffered minor injuries.,.. it took a couple of hours to get the prisoners back to their housing units…Thursday’s incident involved many more inmates and turned into a full-blown riot involving an unknown number of inmates…. It took many hours for prison staff and Department of Corrections officers to bring the situation under control, and the prison wasn’t secured until early Friday morning, Wilder said. Three guards were hurt.”

Mexico, Mexico City: prisoners’ hunger strike now in 6th day Pi writes: “A declaration on the sixth day of hunger strike of the “Informal Coordination of Prisoners in Resistance” by Fernando Bárcenas, an anarchist jailed and accused of having burnt a coca-cola tree during a movement against the rise of metro ticket prices. What is pretty interesting is that this new declaration (several have been issued during these last days) clearly states they’re against all prisons and the distinction between “political prisoners” and others.” See 27/6/15 for original declaration.


Australia, Melbourne: there’s no smoking ban without fire Fire crews have returned to the scene of a blaze at the Metropolitan Remand Centre in Ravenhall, a day after inmates rioted and lit fires at the prison. At least nine CFA and MFB crews were dispatched to the prison about 11am on Wednesday. The incident was declared over and the fire labelled “safe” about 12.20pm…Five inmates were injured when police clashed with as many as 50 armed prisoners in an operation to end the riot about 3am.  Heavily armed police used tear gas, the dog squad and other tactics to quell the riot. Rampaging inmates lit fires, rammed an exit door, and penetrated a control room after guards came under attack at 12.20pm on Tuesday at the prison, 20 kilometres west of Melbourne. …Guards first came under attack at 12.20pm on Tuesday. Up to 300 inmates are believed to have been involved in the riot, but many surrendered to police or prison staff as the situation escalated. More than 100 were still on the loose in the centre at nightfall. They had armed themselves with makeshift weapons found in prison workshops, including metal bars and planks of wood….Several vehicles were believed to have been torched in the rampage, while a fence that divided rival outlaw motorcycle gangs was ripped down at the prison, 20 kilometres west of Melbourne.” More here“Heavily-armed police quelled a riot involving up to 300 inmates at an Australian jail on Wednesday over the introduction of a smoking ban, with a handful of prisoners injured. Melbourne’s Metropolitan Remand Centre remains in lockdown after the 15-hour disturbance when doors were smashed, fires lit and some inmates armed themselves with sticks and iron bars from the jail’s agricultural sheds. Three prison staff received minor injuries and five inmates were taken to hospital, some with dog bites, after police moved in during the early hours of the morning, reportedly using tear gas. Brett Collins, a former prisoner and spokesman for Justice Action, an advocacy group targeting abuse of authority, called the ban “bullying” and “a denial of their rights”. “People are just totally outraged… they have very little to lose” Nearly $8m. worth of damage to state infrastructure “The protest… has on Thursday been described as causing the biggest damage bill from a jail outbreak in Australia….”Everything in there is destroyed, including prisoner files over 20 years old,” the source said. “From what I understand, there is not one thing in that prison that didn’t get broken. I think it was well thought out.”” This report shows that authorities knew that prisoners would riot


Australia, Melbourne: 300 prisoners riot against smoking ban


Mexico, Mexico City: prisoners’ hunger strike by the “Informal Coordination of Prisoners in Resistance” begins Very rough translation:

“Today, June 27th, a hunger strike of several prisoners in different prisons of Mexico City has begun. Strike demands focus on…torture and abuse in prisons and the actions of the Commission on Human Rights in the City, the institution which is the prison authorities’ accomplice . Likewise the business conducted with inmates through their sexual exploitation is denounced.

Beyond the differences in methods and strategies (for us prison should not be improved or reformed, but it must be destroyed), in solidarity with the comrades in struggle they …call upon all related organizations, groups and individuals to express solidarity.

Collective Hunger Strike

Informal coordination of Prisoners  in Resistance.

For the following demands:

1) Cease the abuse and torture in all prisons either by word or deed.

2) Termination of the silent repression exercised by the institution in collaboration with the CDHDF (Human Rights Commission of the Federal District)

3) For the people to stop all contact with jailers and / or officials who have been denounced for mistreatment.

4) Total rejection of the austerity measures that are being implemented worldwide, in prisons by various tendencies of economic and political interests.

5) Application of the  Istanbul Protocol on torture to all inmates.

6) Clarification and withdrawal of penal article 148/201H from the sentenced comrade  Jose Santiago Hernández who was sentenced and imprisoned for eight months before reaching his age of majority.

7) That due respect and consideration to the families of the prisoners when they are in the prisons is maintained.

8) No more illicit enrichment, based on the exploitation of prisoners.

9) No more illicit enrichment by officials based on the sexual exploitation of women and men interned in prisons.

10) Breaking the relationship of complicity between the administration and the medical unit; no more neglect and inhuman treatment.

11) Open more opportunities for cultural recreation and artistic projection and paid work for prisoners; the few that exist are elitist ​​and conditioned by the administration.

12) Waiver of staff who actively shapes the Technical Board in all prisons in Mexico City and generate the necessary mechanisms to eliminate corruption and authoritarianism of management and custody.

13) Let us not be judged or repressed for the activities that we protest about because we have always been incited by the malfunction of the penal institution.

14) No more violations of personal data and correspondence for the purpose of extortion, kidnapping, intimidation and confiscation of information material.

Also we denounce the confinement and incommunicado detention that is practiced against fellow prisoner Jessi Alejandro Montaño and we’ll carry out a day of struggle and resistance to make our mark against ignorance and our rejection of prison authority. Side by side with our brothers and sisters,  face to face with the enemy!”


Lebanon, Beirut: prison riot


Belgium, Nivelles: 7 prisoners in rooftop protest Their anger is linked to the recent arrival of a fellow prisoner, who enjoys the favours of the prison governor.”


Canada, Ontario: 6 hour riot in maximum insecurity prison ” Inmates at the maximum security facility in Penetanguishene, Ont., erupted into a random riot Thursday, destroying meal hatch doors, cell doors, phones, duct work and garbage bins in a six-hour incident that was only resolved when a tactical team used pepper spray.”


French Guyana: 2nd prison mutiny in 2 days Prisoners refuse to return to their cells, demand improved health conditions (there are rats and coackroaches in the cells), more interesting social activity, end of abuse by guards. More prisoners (189) in protest  than Tuesday’s (see 16/6/15).


Trinidad & Tobago, Arouca: prison riot “Five officers were badly beaten … Officers were stabbed and one officer’s teeth were broken. T&T Guardian was informed that the prisoners were in possession of weapons crafted by the prisoners. These include shanks made out of tooth brushes and metal objects. The prisoners have barricaded themselves in an area in the prison. The officer said the prisoners have created shields to prevent the officers from harming them if the riot police were to enter. …many prison officers do not want to engage with the prisoners because they fear for their lives. Members of the Riot squad are standing by at Golden Grove to assist if prison officers are unable to contain the situation. A prisoner informed T&T Guardian that the riot ensued following an incident where the prisoners were soaked with water and an Imam was badly beaten inside the prison”


Egypt, Cairo: arson attack on government building made by black blockers in solidarity with tortured prisoners

French Guyana: 74 prisoners refuse to return to cells in protest especially against screw’s union (Force Ouvriere) starving them by blocking food delivery


UK, Rutland: 6 hour riot by about 100 prisoners “Up to 60 prison inmates attacked officers and started fires during a six hour riot at the weekend…It would appear there were over 100 prisoners involved in the riot”……More here A prison officer has been hurt in a riot in Rutland involving scores of inmates. Police and fire crews were called in after small blazes were lit during the disturbance. Order was not restored until screws  specially-trained in brutal methods of inflicitng pain intervened. The defender of ruling class “justice” who was assaulted was treated in hospital and discharged on Sunday night, while four prisoners were taken to hospital  after a savage beating, and two screws were treated for smoke inhalation.  Around 30 inmates have been transferred to other prisons far away from friends and relatives to be beaten by cowards in uniform. A Prison Service PR manipulator said: “A serious incident of insubordinate lack of servilitiy  on one wing at HMP Stocken was resolved by a specially trained gang of ruling class protection racketeers. ….” [translated from the original Massmediatese]


US, Missouri: 31 railway wagons carrying coal derailed   part of solidarity with anarchist prisoners, apparently (see discussion below this latter article on how useful/stupidly dangerous such actions are/could be)


Belgium, Brussels: arson attack on prison building company


France, Val d’Oise: small deliberate fire, screws attacked, in prisonLimoges: 10 Eurovia-Vinci construction engines destroyed by arson Damage is estimated at over a million euros.  Threats have been made and sent to various companies involved in building the airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Among the listed companies, there were Eurovia and Vinci. Vinci is particularly involved in the construction of prisons.




Thailand: prison revolt; 1 prisoner killed, 5 guards injured, as prisoners protest overcrowding etc.


Kyrgyzstan, Bishtek: prison riot over failure of doctor to turn up

Brazil, Rio: 2 die in prison riot over overcrowding More here The riot broke out in the Governador Valadares prison of the Minas Gerais state during visiting hours on Saturday morning and ended after a 21-hour standoff, leaving two inmates dead, according to the local Social Defense Secretariat. During the incident, a group of inmates broke security railings and invaded administration offices to protest the overcrowding of the prison, which, with a capacity for 290, holds some 800 inmates. In the end police launched an operation to regain control, using tear gas bombs and a helicopter”


Bedfordshire: fence round Yarls Wood prison for migrants torn down


US, New York: 2 prisoners have a nice day


US, Florida: riot in teenage girls’ detention centre One of the girls managed to steal keys from a member of the detention staff, enabling them to open doors inside the facility and allowing the other defendants to engage in multiple counts of battery”


Nigeria, Zaria: prison riot


Brazil, Caruaru: 2 teenagers killed in mattress-burning riot at prison for juveniles

France, Paris: JCDecaux (company collaborating in prison building) truck burnt out


France, New Caledonia: prison riot following suicide


US, California: 200 prisoners riot (not at all clear what this was about or what happened)


UK, Wrexham: engines of construction equipment for site of proposed new prison (Europe’s 2nd largest) destroyed The mega-prison, if built, will cage more than 2100 human beings at any one time. Multiple large diggers and construction equipment had their engines destroyed. Slogans were sprayed on the half-built prison fences including ‘Fuck Lend Lease’ and ‘Fire to the Prisons’. This is a warning to any company large or small that that is involved in the North Wales Prison Project, or any other prison building scheme that the state initiates. You are a target and you will feel the venom of the working classes fighting back.”


Russia, Bashkortostan: 2nd prison riot against phoney enquiry into 1st “More than 100 inmates held at a maximum-security prison in the city of Salavat in Bashkortostan, also known as Bashkiria, broke windows and wreaked havoc, some of them climbing onto the roof on the security guards’ dormitory”


Zimbabwe, Harare:  prison riot, 5 dead (no real information here)


US, Nebraska: prison riot as 2 prisoners are found deadSeveral disruptions followed in various housing units, resulting in small fires and property damage, prison officials said. … “The inmates have taken over the prison.” More here“We’ve pretty much taken the whole prison,” Frank told the newspaper. He said that no prison employees were inside the housing unit and described the scene, saying: “The ceilings are fallen. There’s drywall on fire. There’s cameras torn down,” according to the Journal Star.Foster told the Omaha World-Herald that inmates had gained access to an office with a phone. At some point during the disturbance, a second inmate was injured by a rubber projectile”


Iraq, Baghdad: prison riot – 6 cops & 30 prisoners dead; 40 escape


Russia, Nizhny Novgorod: riot of prisoners with TB “…at least one prisoner has been killed and 15 injured as a result of a riot at a prison facility for inmates with tuberculosis…eight inmates were seriously injured….Authorities said about 100 inmates set fire to two facilities on May 6, smashed security cameras, broke furniture, and attacked other prisoners…. tuberculosis-afflicted prisoners have been forced to work up to 12 hours a day there.”


US, California: prison riot (no context for this riot) More here


US, Seattle: juvenile prison construction truck burnt in solidarity with Baltimore


Lebanon, Beirut: prison riot “…Asked about what triggered the riots, he replied: “The inhumane overcrowding at the block is one of the reasons.” The block is harboring 1,100 prisoners, while it only has the capacity for 400, he revealed.  …. “The riot is over and it will not reoccur,” he pledged. The first riot at block D took place on Friday where inmates seized the master key at the facility and opened all doors at the building. They also briefly held hostage a number of officers. Roumieh, the oldest and largest of Lebanon’s overcrowded prisons, has witnessed sporadic prison breaks and escalating riots in recent years as inmates living in poor conditions demand better treatment.”


US, Ohio: partial victory for prison hunger strikers


Greece, Athens: anarchists torch cars, fight cops in movement supporting anarchist prisoners (video here – tasteless, horrifying, shocking, nauseating …but that’s enough about the music – the video is interesting) Deputy Citizen Protection Minister Giannis Panousis requested Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ intervention in order to address the riots issue, while he even hinted that he may resign if Tsipras does not take any action. “The Prime Minister must decide which side he wishes to support and which he will leave behind,” he said. Panousis also stressed that the anti-authoritarians want someone to die so that they will be able to repeat the episodes that occurred in 2008 after the death of Alexis Grigoropoulos.”


Greece: various public buildings occupied by anarchists in different parts of the country Around 20 people entered the courtyard of the parliament building in central Syntagma square…. they left after about five minutes. They scattered flyers and chanted slogans including for the immediate release of “Xiros”. Savas Xiros is serving multiple life terms for his role in the November 17 group, which killed Greek, US and British diplomats before being dismantled in 2002. …Protesters also called for the end to high security prisons, which the new Syriza government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has vowed to scrap. Small groups took over Syriza offices in the southern town of Patras, the office of a governing lawmaker in the Cretan capital Heraklion as well as the town hall in a suburb of Athens…Protesters also occupied part of a university in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, and have been occupying the offices of one of Athens’ main universities since Monday.” (video here) It should be pointed out that there are many currents of “anarchism” in Greece, including Leninoid-type shitheads who totally oppose looting. Also, see this mainstream journalistic take on these occupations “…there are signs government patience with the protests is finally wearing thin. The prolonged seizure of the Athens’ administrative building since March 30 prompted exasperated employees to stage a march last Wednesday outside their occupied offices. …”This hasn’t happened for years now — not in this manner,” said university vice-rector Thomas Sphicopoulos of the occupation. “We can’t work, and the university was already in a very difficult situation due to budget cuts.” Other demonstrating employees were more pointed in their anger at the government for not intervening. “Where is the respect for liberty, and where is the state?” fumed one university staffer who asked to remain anonymous.”

A friend in Greece wrote, referring  to the above link: The demonstration of the “exasperated university employees” against the main university occupation mentioned in the link you sent was actually very small. Most of the employees were  either indifferent or supportive of the anarchists (without taking  part in the occupation).” 


Greece, Athens: anarchists occupy Athens University as part of anti-prison movement


Greece, Athens: another riot in support of hunger striking prisoners


Australia, New South Wales: small riot at detention centre “Thursday’s resolution to the disruption inside the centre came after several days of rising tension. TVs were ripped from wall mountings and at least one fire lit in a rubbish bin.”

UK, Doncaster: report showing that riot squad was called to Doncaster prison 8 times last year


Greece, Athens: anarchists confront riot cops in support of anarchist hunger strikers in prison


US, Florida: small riot in juvenile prison


Greece, Athens: anarchists occupy Athens Law School in support of prisoners

Zimbabwe, Harare: prisoners set fire to part of maximum security prison; 3 screws hurt


Honduras, Tegicigalpa: 3 prisoners killed by cops etc. during prison riot “About 400 officers and military troops sent to the San Pedro Sula prison to restore order were met by gunfire from within the facility and pelted with stones and other projectiles, said a spokesman for the Honduras National Police”


Bahrain: report in April of a prison riot on this day and its  horrendous consequences


Greece, Athens: anarchists leave Syriza HQ, having occupied it in support of anarchist prisonersanother anarchist joins hunger strike

UK, Durham: mini-riot in young offenders prison “…inmates reportedly began throwing pool balls and lighting fires during the disturbance….prison guards had to withdraw because of the trouble….”The prisoners began throwing pool balls at them. A couple of inmates were injured and also a considerable amount of damage caused.”


Greece, Athens: anarchists take over Syriza HQ in solidarity with hunger striking prisoners (more here) (video here)


Afghanistan, Jawzjan: 3 cops killed (by prisoners) and a prisoner killed (by cops) as prisoners riot against search operation; 6 other cops wounded, and a prison”health” centre set on fire

Greece, Corinth: cops fire tear gas as demonstrators break into refugee detention camp


France, Montreuil: truck belonging to prison construction company burnt

UK, London: Get Out Of Jail Free card played, then revoked


UK, Swindon: riot cops pelted with missiles as they stop rave party (more here)…  Staffordshire: report on January prison riot

US, Nevada: Riot Of Passage youth detention centre; fires lit, 4 escape


US, Texas: 100s of  prisoners make prison “uninhabitable” after seizing part of the prison An official says as many as 2,800 inmates will be moved to other facilities one day after several hundred prisoners seized control of part of a federal prison in South Texas. Inmates were participating in a protest that escalated into throwing objects, burning bedding, and destroying bullet-proof tent structures…In addition, correctional officers released a “chemical agent” to disperse the unruly crowd that were ineffective due to wind conditions…..U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Ed Ross says in a statement that the Willacy County Correctional Center in Raymondville is now “uninhabitable due to damage caused by the inmate population.” … a peaceful resolution may take days or weeks to resolve….The inmates being held at the facility are described as “low-level” offenders who are primarily immigrants in the U.S. illegally.”  More information here….And here

Eire, Dublin: imprisoned water protesters on hunger strike (see also this nicely expressed  article)


US, Texas: about 2000 prisoners “riot” The disturbance began Friday morning when inmates at the Willacy County Correctional Center refused to report to work or appear for breakfast…some of the prisoners were protesting medical services at the facility. The prison, located in Raymondville, about 40 miles northeast of the border town of McAllen, has been used to hold immigrant detainees…Soon after that, several inmates broke out of their housing units and went out into the recreation yard. About 2,000 prisoners are believed to have joined the protest…Officers deployed tear gas, and two officers and three inmates sustained minor injuries…“We are attempting to speak with the offenders to bring a peaceful solution to this incident,” Arnita said late Friday night. “The facility remains secured with no danger to the public.”…Earlier in the day, the riot prompted school officials to place three nearby schools on lockdown.” More here “Spence said the situation could last the whole weekend. “It’s calm right now, but with caution,” Spence said. “It could explode any minute.”…many offenders broke out of the housing structures and went to the recreation yard. Inmates set fire to three of the 10 prison tents, causing minor damage, officials said. …“There’s been some shots fired. Guards on top of the tower were firing. What they were using as ammunition, I have no idea,” Spence told the Valley Morning Star….In June 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union released a study that found inmates of these little-known prisons suffer from a lack of medical care….Prisoners interviewed by the ACLU complained of delayed medical care, guards using solitary confinement to punish those who are ill or who complained about squalid and cramped living conditions, and interference by prison officials with inmates trying to correspond with or meet with lawyers, the report says. Most of those in custody are charged either with illegally re-entering the country or with nonviolent drug crimes”


France, Bordeaux: 45 JCDecaux advertising panels smashed  (JCDecaux is a company involved directly in the super-exploitation of prisoners)


Brazil, Couiba: “Jailbait Jailbreak” – screws get screwed, but not how they wanted to – the dominators get dominated


Italy, Turin: demonstrators block road in front of prison as 47 anti-TAV protesters are condemned to 140 years in prison altogether (plus massive fines)


South Africa, Paarl, near Cape Town: prisoners stab 10 guards in retaliation for killing of prisoner


Brazil, Recife: prisoner and prison guard killed during riot “The violence erupted in a Recife jail when an orderly protest broke down, and was brought under control only after police arrived. One officer died of a bullet wound in hospital, while details surrounding the inmate’s death were not released. ….Gunfire and explosions were heard coming from inside the prison, and G1 Globo newsportal showed a helicopter with an armed official flying overhead. Brazilian jails have faced a string of riots in recent months. The system’s 563,000 inmates make Brazil’s prison population the fourth-largest after the United States, China and Russia, according Amnesty International….”


Papua New Guinea: Manus Island concentration camp prisoners barricade themselves in against Australian security guard attack (see link for 14/1/15)



Australia, Manus Island: report of 500 concentration camp prisoners on hunger strike


UK, Liverpool:  3 screws get screwed


Australia, Darwin: small riot in teenage prison


US, Pennsylvania: teenage prisoners  riot in “adolescent treatment centre”Santa Cruz: anti-cop protesters smash up County Jail vehicles

Germany, Leipzig: Deutsche Bank stoned in solidarity with anarchists imprisoned in Spain


Spain, Canary Islands: solidarity actions in solidarity with anarchists imprisoned in Spain


Spain, Barcelona: demonstration against state arrests of anarchists – windows of banks, hotels and posh shops broken, barricades of containers; demos in several other cities, including Madrid, Zaragoza, Burgos, Castellón and Segovia 


South Africa, Gauteng: well-crafted escapist story


Greece: victory for movement of solidarity with anarchist hunger striker

Russia, Chelyabinsk: 100 prisoners riot


Greece, Athens: anti-state riot in support of anarchist hunger striking prisoner (slightly absurd but kind of funny video here)


Greece, Athens: solidarity demo for anarchist prisoner on hunger strike –  overturned bus, burning cars used as barricades, National Bank attacked, etc.




Venezuela: report of prison hunger strike turning into  prison riot questions state’s version of how at least 13 prisoners died



France, Yvelines: premises of prison-building company destroyed in arson attack


France, Rennes: several bus shelters broken,  on demo about Remi Fraisse’s murder

One of the reasons bus shelters are constantly attacked is the fact that they’re constructed by JCDecaux, which exploits prisoners (JCDecaux also use the bus shelters for advertising other commodities, from where they obviously make massive profits)



Dominican Republic, San Cristobal: 4 prisoners killed by screws as 10 escape during riot

Turkey, Izmit: prisoners burn cells in riot


Paris: various attacks on companies that exploit prisoners or are involved in attacks on immigrants


Brazil, Parana  state:  prison riot/rooftop protestscrews accidentally fall down stairs to the cells


Nigeria, Lagos: major prison protest against  governor;  5 escaped prisoners killed “…  five inmates of the prison who managed to escape through the fence were killed….the aggrieved inmates started agitating against the way the out going Deputy Controller managed their affairs. They reportedly accused him of being high-handed. It was learnt that during the process, the inmates started stoning their top officials, leading to pandemonium in and around the prison. Eyewitnesses said they also held some of the officials hostage before embarking on the destruction of some offices inside the prison including that of the chief warder which was looted and razed down.” (more here)


UK, Kent: uninformative report of major prison riot; screw stabbed


Morocco, occupied Dakhla: cops launch tear gas at protest against death of political prisoner


Chile, Puente Alto: prison riot


Australia, New South Wales: prison riot


Bolivia: riot and massive rooftop and courtyard protest at prison against screws’ theft of money and other belongings (video) More here  and here

South Africa, Rustengerg: 16 illegal aliens escape from jail


France, Paris: vehicle belonging to prison collaborator company burnt out


France, Paris: van belonging to prison building and management firm burnt


US, Nashville: riot in juvenile prison, 6 escape (video) “Juvenile offenders, armed with sticks and poles, busted out of their dorms. Six teens became a mob of two-dozen. Swat teams posted outside watched some rioters shoot off fire extinguishers. Others chased away and attacked unarmed guards. Two staff members were hurt…. James Henry is the commissioner of Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services. He said for the second time this week, teens got loose by kicking out aluminum panels under windows….”When they came out of their rooms they breached the door and they got out. They were able to knock those doors out again because they’d done it the night before very quickly.” On Monday night, thirty-two teens escaped the same facilityThey busted out of their dorms, pulled up a section of chain link fence, and ran for a nearby highway. Six of those escapees remain at large.”


Brazil, Parana: prison rioters take 2 guards hostage, apparently kill 4 prisoners, beheading 2 of them “the food is bad, there are no lawyers to work their trials, no basic hygiene materials”


prison rooftop protest, Parana, Brazil


Australia, Darwin: tear gas used against teenagers’ mini-riot in prison


US, New  York: prison riot over missed TV shows


Panama: multimillionnaire fraudster trampled in prison riot


UK, Retford: prison rioters take control of entire cell block


Brazil, Bahia, Amargosa: after cops kill a  1 year-old girl, crowds seize the police station, take the cops’ weapons, liberate the 16 prisoners there, torch the station, then burn 30 motorbikes and 19 other vehicles “The violence forced the police chief, judge and prosecutor of Amargosa, located in Bahia state, to take refuge in a hotel.”


Belgium, Steenokkerzeel: prison riot as screws refuse to respect Ramadan fasting hours



Kazhakstan: prison riot for the right not to work


Greece: prisoners’ hunger strike called off


Greece: more on prisoners’ struggle


Israel: 1000 refugees march to Egyptian border to protest indefinite detention in prison camp


Greece, Thessaloniki: burning barricades erected in solidarity with prisoners’ hunger strike


Greece: hunger strike against maximum security jail  by 3800 prisoners...solidarity demohere it claims that the strike is being followed by 90% of prisoners, though I suspect that’s an exaggeration; it also mentions that a banking agency was attacked in Volos in solidarity with the prisoners (June 6th) …list of videos concerning Greek prisons

France, Pantin (93): Bouygues prison construction lorry set alight


Venezuela, Caracas: very violent prison riot


Palestine: Palestinian Authority violently disperses demonstration in solidarity with Israel’s prison hunger strikers


France, Toulouse: several molotovs thrown at detention centre for expulsion of illegals


Australia, Christmas Island: week-long protest by asylum seekers shut down by authorities (more here)…for more about asylum seekers in Australia, see this


Palestine: shops on strike in solidarity with hunger striking prisoners


Palestine, Tulkarem: dozens of Palestinian protesters in solidarity with hunger strikers hospitalised by IDA tear gas


US, California: prison riot


France, Paris: 453 tyres  belonging to JCDecaux bike and ad company that super-exploits prisoners punctured as part of ongoing campaign against them


France, Paris: 2 vehicles belonging to companies involved in repressive social control torched


UK, Peterhead: 14 hour prison riot (more here and here)


Australia, Queensland: prison riot


UK, Harmondsworth: mass hunger strike at immigration detention centre


Egypt: thousands of prisoners stage protests against prison conditions and “justice” violations


Bahrain, Sitra and Sanabis: protests in solidarity with female prisoners


US, Alabama: prisoner trying to organise prison strike  “taken out of his cell … placed in solitary, without clothing or a bed, in retaliation… ” Phone warden Carter Davenport on (001) 205-467-6111 to tell him what you think of his slave empire…though one has to wonder what kind of tactical considerations  this prisoner was thinking of by announcing the proposed strike on the internet before it was supposed to take place, as if it wasn’t obvious that this would allow the authorities to make sure it never happened and to victimise him.

Paraguay: guards kill 2 during prison riot


Australia, Albany: prison riot

US, Alabama: prisoners announce impending strike against “slave empire” “We decided that the only weapon or strategy … that we have is our labor, because that’s the only reason that we’re here…They’re incarcerating people for the free labor.” (article here on some aspects of why prison rate is so high in Alabama…and this IWW statement shows some of the horrendous miseries of prison life there: “The conditions in Alabama prisons are horrendous, packing twice as many people as the 16,000 that can be housed “humanely”, with everything from black mold, brown water, cancer causing foods, insect infestations, and general disrepair. They are also run by free, slave labor, with 10,000 incarcerated people working to maintain the prisons daily, adding up to $600,000 dollars a day, or $219,000,000 a year of slave labor if inmates were paid federal minimum wage, with tens of thousands more receiving pennies a day making products for the state or private corporations.” However,  it has this bizarre sentence: “the struggle of these brave human beings is the same as the millions of black, brown, and working class men, women, and youth struggling to survive a system they are not meant to succeed within.”, which implies that “black”, “brown” and “working class” are separate categories., though perhaps it’s a typo – maybe they unintentionally missed out “white” before “working class”.

UK, Berkshire:  riot in Broadmoor kept quiet for 9 months


Iraq, Tikrit: prison riot


Vietnam, Ca Mau: prison riot involving over 300 prisoners lasts 6 hours


Papua New Guinea: student demo for political prisoners broken up by cops; students relatiate with stones, etc.


UK, Northumberland: prisoners take control of part of prison wingBrighton: kids given detention for going on strike during teachers’ strike


UK, Doncaster: 6-hour prison riot


San Francisco: anti-jail demo – police vehicles & jail vandalized with rocks, spray paint & paintbombs


US, California: prison riotWashington: imprisoned immigrants on hunger strike could be force-fed


Saudi Arabia: riot in migrant workers’ detention centre (more here


US, Seattle: Department of Corrections graffitied with “destroy all prisons”


Papua New Guinea: more about the Manus Island asylum seekers’ riot (video)


Greece: hunger strike by prison hospital prisoners


Papua New Guinea: video of and about the imprisoned asylum seekers’ riot


Kyrgyzstan: riot in mental hospital (ie a prison) – 6 – 9  cops injured; patients (ie prisoners) barricade themselves in


Papua New Guinea: on the island of Manus asylum seekers  confront cops, escape from detention centre,burn part of the centre, destroy tents, smash fences (more here)

Indonesia, Aceh: 100s of prisoners riot


Brazil, Pernambuco :  prison riot against miserable conditions; 2 prisoners killed


United States, Illinois hunger strikers in the prison now refuse liquid  ( see also this)


United States, Georgia 1000 prisoners begin a hunger strike against the brutality of the prison guards (Illinois: in another prison, there was a fairly short-lived hunger strike)


Kenya , Nairobi : clashes between prisoners and screws


US, Alabama: prisoners use contraband cellphones to spread their protest through the internet


US, Alabama: prison protests against slave labour and insanitary conditions spread

UK, Wolverhampton: riot  in prison previously known for rooftop protest (“incident resolved“) …more detailed  information here and here


Sri Lanka: 27 prisoners in rooftop  protest

US, Alabama: protest strikes against slave labour in 2 prisons


Angola: large riot in Viana jail (no further information, but this jail is notoriously brutal)


US, Ohio: arrests in protests against detention of undocumented immigrants


Georgia: 900 prisoners go on hunger strike


Israel: 100s of undocumented African migrants flee detention centre (Sunday) to march and  demonstrate (Monday)…..and next day (today) dozens of them demonstrate in  Jerusalem outside PM’s office (more here)


Indonesia: 100s of inmates at Palopo penitentiary, South Sulawesi, attack officers, set fire to parts of  building


US, San Jose: prisoners go on hunger strike over visitation misery (lasts a week)


US, Nebraska: protesting a policy limiting the number of prisoners allowed in the yard at one time, 33 prisoners at Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln refuse to return to their cells after dinner and set small fires in trash cans.
-KHAS TV (no link)


Canada, New Brunswick: rocks thrown at cops during  anti-shale gas demo blocking highway for several hours (see also this)


UK, Shropshire: prisoners in rooftop protest


US, Arkansas: frustrated inmates in C-Pod at Baxter County Jail in Mountain Home, Arkansas broke sprinkler heads, lights, and a window, and flooded their cells.
-The Baxter Bulletin  (no link for this)


UK: report of 189 prison uprisings in 2012; screws moan about their lack of monopoly of violence… It’s only by the grace of the Devil that a guard hasn’t been killed ….

US, Missouri: report of hunger strike by prisoners Another report (no link) said, “Fifteen inmates at Potosi Correctional Center in Missouri went on a week-long hunger strike to protest neglect, sanitation issues, and physical abuse by guards. Thirty-five inmates there also signed a petition in support of the strikers’ cause.”


Trinidad and Tobago: prison officer killed, prisoners being starved in consequence


Saudi Arabia: prison riot

UK, Maidstone: prison riot – screws “feared for their lives” (more here on the apparent pretext for this riot)…smallish disturbance at Rye prison


Dubai: prisoners on hunger strike


Turkey: riot in women’s prison


Yemen: prison riot, director of investigations badly injured, after director of investigations threatens to ban  visits and limit water and medicine 

US, Illinois: 40  prisoners at Pontiac Correctional Center go on hunger strike ” A Chicago activist group says the prisoners have no heat, and they’re being denied personal hygiene supplies. They’re also upset they have to pay a fee to use nail clippers shared by all inmates. Correctional officers say they’re monitoring the health of all prisoners refusing to eat”. Apparently a radio report said something along the following lines: “Upset over the current grievance officer, inadequate sanitary supplies, no programs for prisoners in long-term segregation, and a poor recreation environment…prisoners at Pontiac Correctional Center in Illinois went on hunger strike.” 


Brazil: prison uprising repressed – at least 10 prisoners killed (some reports say that these killings were caused by gang rivalries…who knows? but this report implies that it was a mixture of both  the authorities and the gangs that did it, but claims that in the local town where the prison is situated, 7 buses were set alight in relation to this riot )


Turkey: fiery prison protest


Canada: prisoners strike over pay cut spreads to 3 other areas


Canada: prisoners go on strike against 30% pay cut (from $3 per day down to just over $2)immigrants go on hunger strike in Ontario prisons


UK, Worcestershire: stand off with screws in Hewell prison, Redditch, has riot cops called


USA, Florida: riot at juvenile detention centre Officials at Gulf Coast Treatment Center juvenile detention facility in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida reported rioting youth there threw chairs, flipped tables, damaged jail property, and used a seized staffer’s radio to communicate with guards.


UK, Cumbria: prison rooftop protest


Syria, Homs: prison riot


UK, Aylesbury: 6-hour ‘siege’ as  prisoners riot


France: attempted prison takeover by prisoners in Chateaudun 


US, Florida, Polk County: riot wrecks youth detention centre


Indonesia, Sumatra: prison riot

USA, Florida: 18 buildings destroyed in juvenile prison riot


Bahrain: rison riot

US, California: prison hunger strike hits its 40th day


UK, Sussex: anti-frackers win temporary victory as the fracking company pretends to be concerned about safety


Greece: riot at immigration centre  …. (some escaped)


Burundi: 2 prison riots


India, Delhi: riot at juvenile prison …riot at Uttar Pradesh adult prison after suicide


USA, Alaska: cells flooded as  prisoners smash toilets etcOakland: solidarity demo with Californian prisoners’ hunger strike blocks state building (more here)

Canada, Newfoundland: small riot at prison


Indonesia, Jakarta: prison riot and escape  attempt


France: short heated prison riot


USA, California: hunger striker dies after being refused medical attention


Ivory Coast: prisoners riot, set fire to cells and almost kill guard; 3 prisoners killed by guards


Australia, Nauru: $60m damage to asylum centre in island riot


UK, Kent: riot at prison – screw stabbed and 2 others injured


Indonesia, Sumatra: 200 prisoners escape after firey riot


Vietnam: prison seized by prisoners for a few hours


US, California: prison riot – screws kill  prisoner


New Zealand: prison riot 




Pakistan: prisoners destroy wall, attack screws and top bureaucrats


Kenya: asylum detention centre inmates make a radical critique of  conventional notions of mental health


Thaïland, Bangkok: attempt at prison escape and riot


Uganda: prison riot and escape


Guatanomo Bay: confrontations between prison guards and prisoners as hunger strikers are forcefed


USA:  demo in support of hunger strikers in  Guatanomo Bay  block traffic  hunger strikers forcefed …demos


Papua New Guinea: 49 escape as prisoners protest against conditions


Eire: riot in a small prison


Thailand: 400 riot cops put down riot by 50 prisoners


Guantanamo Bay: prisoners’ hunger strike now in its 2nd month  (more here )


Sri Lanka: massive prison hunger strike and protest on the roof


Iraq: prison riot in Abou Ghraib, Baghdad

A couple of  very minor personal experiences


At the age of 19, I had my only very short-lived  experience of  being imprisoned.  I’d been arrested for “insulting behaviour” putting on a “guerrillla theatre”-type agit-prop play outside a school in Kings Cross, which caused a semi-riot. We were packed off to Ashford Remand Centre, even though our parents had turned up in court to put up surety for the bail which most of us had been granted (the only one of us that wasn’t was a couple of years older than us, the only one of us who was from a working class background – he went to Brixton for a week before bail was granted). Ashford, though technically a “remand centre” was no different from an ordinary prison – prison gate, barbed wire on the fencing, etc. There we were made to have a public cough ‘n’ drop medical inspection. In fact, this was the most humiliating moment for me – being forced to undress in a hallway surrounded by cells consisting solely of bars (no walls) and being examined naked whilst being stared at by several screws and prisoners whilst my balls were held by a doctor to see if I’d had a hernia or something (being a virgin probably made me feel even more anxious about being naked in front of so many people).  And then made to have a semi-public bath. We then had to wear prison clothes: my trousers were far too big – I had to permanently hold them to stop them falling down (no belts allowed), and my shoes were far too small, cramping my toes.

The cell smelled half the time of piss – someone had thrown out his slpping out pot out of the cell above and the piss had hit the outward opening window, hinged at the bottom, and the piss had run back down into my cell.  Unable to sleep due to the proximity of London airport and a railway line (though the window was too far up to look out of), plus the ever-echoing sound of slamming doors or footsteps along the concrete corridor, I somehow half-composed the following in my mind (no pens or paper and only a Western, with half the pages torn out, to read) and wrote it up properly as soon as I got out – a slightly pretentious poetic-type of attempt at something influenced by the surrealists, but which, despite its literary rhetorical style, also genuinely expresses some life-affirming emotions:

There is no freedom for the enemies of freedom, the slaves of their hate and fear of freedom. Inside the corridors of tyranny the jackboots, the truncheons, the barred windows, the barred wire, the barbed wire, the 40 foot high double electrified fencing – are all screaming out the admittance of THEIR failure to exterminate OUR minds. Their judgements, their amnesties, their reprieves, their mercy – are the judgements, the amnesties, the reprieves, the mercy of the dead to the living – the dead beckoning the living to join them in the graveyard. Soon, from the warm comfort of their coffins, six foot under, they will wake up to find their nightmares becoming reality – obscene words painted on their gravestones, shit smeared over the epitaph, and finally their coffins disinterred and thrown into the burning streets. Soon freedom, the imagination, bruised, castrated, decapitated, buried alive in the dungeons of Pentonville and Ashford – soon, the imagination running riot, shall rise up, shatter the walls and gates, smash the locks, burn down the factories of pain and misery, and seize total power! The dictatorship of the imagination!

It was only 24 hours, but when it’s your first time in prison and you’ve got no idea how long you’ll be there, and you’ve never known anyone who’s been inside, it was a little worrying, though it was the boredom I remember most, because we were kept isolated for most of the time. I was so naïve, I remember being really outraged at the fact that teenagers were kept in prison without bail for 6 months or more before trial, at which they were often let off. (see this, for the context of this arrest and the subsequent trial).

2. On July 14th 2013, I was in St.Louis with my daughter at a demo called the day after George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s killer, was found “not guilty”. This happened at the end of the demo:

So it’s pissing down and we all loudly head back toward what I somehow thought was the town courthouse, and I go first into  the little vestibule banging a saucepan very noisily. Everybody else seemed a little hesitant, like I’d stepped over an invisible barrier that everybody normally respected. But then this was the vestibule of the city jail, and not merely a courthouse as I’d assumed. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. The noise we were making was deafening, and seemed to echo into the area beyond the glass doors we were not going through.  I suggested going further than the vestibule. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, urging others to join them. Ignorance is bliss.  A masked guy (Zorro? the Lone Ranger? Billy the Kid?) ran in and chucked the only thing that moved – a floor mat. When he returned a bit later, and threw in some flowers that he’d just picked from outside the jail, a black woman got upset – “This is meant to be a peaceful demonstration – Trayvon Martin’s family insisted it should be peaceful”. What sad/mad times these are when throwing flowers is somehow thought of as not peaceful enough.

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread

Angels never go to war – they masturbate instead”

We then retreat from the jail as we get pushed out by armed guards.  A few minutes later the courthouse is surrounded by heavily armoured riot cops with their sticks at the ready, the TV cameras reappearing for the first time since the downpour.  We all go off back to our cars, and then off to a birthday party of a woman friend of my friends. She was born on July 14th, famous in France for what happened in 1789 – Bastille Day – appropriate, since we’d “stormed” the city jail. Well, almost –  the vestibule…still, it sounds good – “WE STORMED THE CITY JAIL!!! – ON BASTILLE DAY!!!!!”

– from here


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

From Popular Resistance:


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:

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.


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.


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

“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.


“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.


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 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 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 His new book is “Writing on the Wall,” edited by Joanna Hernandez. For Mumia’s commentaries, visit 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,, can be reached at

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

Albert Woodfox Applies for Bail With Expedited Review

A3 Newsletter:
albert-carrieThis afternoon Albert Woodfox’s legal team submitted an application to US District Court Judge James A. Brady for release on bail with expedited review (View the court filing here).

This month marks 2 years since Albert’s conviction was overturned for a third time based on a finding of racial discrimination in the selection of his grand jury foreperson, a decision now firmly upheld by a unanimous panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Though the Attorney General may continue to stand in the way of justice and appeal yet again to the US Supreme Court and/or attempt to retry him, Albert’s attorneys argue that there is no legal or moral justification to hold him in prison any longer, nor any reason to believe the State of Louisiana could succeed in reconvicting him in a fair proceeding.

In a moving petition, they detail not just the legal underpinnings of freeing those wrongfully convicted, but also the deeply flawed legal processes that have resulted in this innocent man spending an unconscionable 4 decades in a solitary cell. As they point out, “the State has now had not just one but two chances to convict Mr. Woodfox at a trial that passes constitutional muster, and failed.”

The application reminds the Court that the State itself during the appeals process admitted that if Albert were to prevail “re-trying him for a crime that occurred more than 40 years ago…may render retrial difficult, even impossible.”

But regardless of whether the State elects to retry Albert or not, as another federal district court concluded, “[T]he liberty interest of an improperly convicted prisoner is stronger than any injury that may be caused to the [State] in releasing petitioner from custody pending retrial.”). Indeed, a prisoner, “suffers irreparable harm each day that he is imprisoned in violation of the United States Constitution.”

Certainly the reality of Albert’s grossly inhumane conditions of confinement only make this harm more egregious and the urgency for release more compelling.

An expedited hearing date of Monday, February 23rd has been requested. We will let you know as soon as we hear anything from the Court.

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…

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 and



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.”


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