Political Prisoners, Jaan Laaman and Alvaro Luna Hernandez on the life and death of Hugo ” Yogi Bear” Pinell

From Sacramento Prisoner Support:

jaan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://thejerichomovement.com/blog/death-and-life-hugo-pinell

Death and Life of Hugo Pinell

August 20, 2015
It was with true sadness that, on August 13th, I received the news that legendary California prison activist Hugo Pinell, was killed in a California prison. This is Jaan Laaman, your political prisoner voice and let me share a few thoughts about the life and death of this extraordinary man.

I never personally knew Hugo Pinell. The simple reason for that is because Hugo Pinell was locked up in California state prisons for 50 years! That is insane. It is hard to wrap you mind around the reality of someone being held captive for 50 years. Even more insane, for most of those years he was held in isolation-segregation cells.

Hugo was just released from segregation and it is being reported that he was killed by two white prisoners. There was a serious uprising or riot that also took place at this time.

Hugo Pinell spent decades teaching, advocating and struggling for Human Rights, justice and dignity for prisoners. He taught and fought for racial and revolutionary unity among all prisoners. Locked up in 1965, like many other prisoners at that time, Hugo became politicized inside the California prison system. In addition to exploring his Nicaraguan heritage, Hugo was influenced by activists like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, as well as his comrades inside, including George Jackson. His leadership in combating the racism and brutality of prison officials made him a prime target for retribution and Hugo soon found himself in the notorious San Quentin Adjustment Center.

While in San Quentin, Hugo and five other politically conscious prisoners were charged with participating in the August 21, 1971 rebellion, which resulted in the assassination of George Jackson by prison guards on that day. Hugo Pinell, Willie Tate, Johnny Spain, David Johnson, Fleeta Drumgo and Luis Talamantez became known as the San Quentin Six. They had a very public 16 month trial. The San Quentin Six became a global symbol of unyielding resistance against the prison system and its violent, racist design. Hugo spent decades in segregation, but continued to work for racial unity and human rights for prisoners.

Personally, I am of course upset that a brother like Hugo was killed, by what I have to assume were some reactionary fascist minded prisoners. But truly what I mainly feel is sadness, profound sadness at this news.

Hugo Pinell is gone. His bid, his sentence is now ended. After 50 years of captivity, that is not a bad thing. Even as an elderly person, in his 70’s, Hugo Pinell died in the struggle. The hands that struck him down, it is reported, were prisoners, but the actual force that killed him was the capitalist police state prison system that holds 2.2 million men, women and children in captivity.

Hugo Pinell, we will remember you brother and your strong life long example of resistance. We will continue this resistance and this struggle for Freedom.

This is Jaan Laaman.” 10372-016 USP Tucson, AZ 85734

alvaro-luna-hernandez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVOLUTIONARY EULOGY by TEXAS CHICANO

POW, POLITICAL PRISONER ALVARO LUNA HERNANDEZ

For COMRADE BROTHER HUGO “YOGI BEAR” PINELL

 

POWER TO THE PEOPLE! POWER TO OUR FALLEN COMRADE BROTHER HUGO “YOGI BEAR” PINELL! We were saddened with the news that Yogi had been murdered last Wednesday, August 12, during an alleged “prison riot” at a Sacramento maximum security prison, after Yogi’s recent release from decades in solitary confinement in the California prison system. Our prison movement, as well as our outside social movement grieves at the loss of one of its most respected and beloved foot soldiers, within the belly of this fascist beast, in our mutual struggles against the common enemy of the human species — the systems of colonialism, neo-colonialism, capitalism, imperialism and fascism. Although I never personally met Comrade Yogi, through his letters, writings, and actual deeds, as one of the SAN QUENTIN-SIX and close confidant of Comrade GEORGE JACKSON, also murdered by the State of California on AUGUST 21, 1971, during the takeover and “liberation” of the Adjustment Center’s control unit in San Quentin prison. I met Yogi in revolutionary spirit as we were then, and are now, continuing to build our national prison movement to educate, re-educate, the entire prisoner class that we are all victims of social injustice, of the racist, criminal injustice system, and to expose the true nature of prisons under capitalism.

Commitment to our human transformation through social awareness in struggle for the defense of our human dignity and our human rights, to build the unity of prisoners across all racial lines, as advocates for national and international revolution, will bring down against us the entire totalitarian power and brutalities of the fascist capitalist state, from prison guard beatings, to horrible food, parole denial, denial of adequate medical attention, false prison disciplinary and criminal charges, to retaliation for exercise of rights, to decades in isolation in solitary confinement’s torture supermax control unit prisons, to being set-up by prison guards for murder either by prison pigs themselves, and/or allowing other racist, violent criminal elements from within to commit these heinous criminal acts, so the prison system can then attempt  to wash its bloody hands of its murderous deeds. The fact that hours after Comrade Yogi’s death, California prison guards and other racist, reactionary elements got  on  “social media”  to rejoice  at the murder of Yogi, vicious nature of the  State and its  stoogies.

These cowardly vipers, rats and snakes came all out of their viper holes to rejoice at the murder of Yogi, showing how these racist, reactionary, fascist and vicious forces, inside and outside of prison walls, recognized Comrade Yogi as a living, historical SYMBOL OF RESISTANCE, and a “threat” to this same capitalist system that breeds crime, poverty, racism, class and racial divisions, mass incarceration of the poor especially people of color who are disproportionately represented in this “NEW JIM CROW SYSTEM,” borrowing Michelle Alexander’s phrase from her book, a genocidal, murderous, plantation slavery system under capitalism, sanctioned by the 13th Amendment, U.S. Constitution, that must be abolished. YOGI was a “threat” to this criminal system, for he feared not to stand up and fight against the fascist state despite  these  brutal  conditions, as being “BURIED ALIVE,” YOGI’s common expression in his many letters to others. His political revolutionary transformation and development, from a misguided, confused youth who was sent to prison at his early age, to his status as a “giant” of our prison movement, under the tutor of COMRADE GEORGE JACKSON, and the BLACK PANTHER PARTY, demonstrating a lifetime commitment to our resistance struggles, no matter the odds behind these racist, brutal, fascist walls in this steel –enclosed concrete tombs and concentration camps for the poor.

These state-actor criminals, and other accomplices in crime, that murdered Comrade Yogi are fools for they didn’t kill him, for Yogi lives on in our hearts, for they will never, ever, be able to kill our revolutionary ideas, and our aspirations to free ourselves, and the rest of humanity, from these chains of bondage and slavery that is this WAGE-THEFT socioeconomic system under bourgeoisie capitalism, a paradise for the rich, and a living hell for the poor, the workers who must sell their labor power to the slave-masters who not only trample on our social and humanity dignity, but are the same capitalist barbarians who are destroying the environment, our ecological systems, wildlife, and MOTHER EARTH for private, corporate profit. ANOTHER FOOT SOLDIER HAS ALREADY STEPPED UP TO FILL THE VOID LEFT BY THE TRAGIC LOSS OF OUR COMRADE BROTHER HUGO “YOGI BEAR” PINELL. I AM HONORED TO BE FEATURED IN THE MOST RECENT POW, POLITICAL PRISONER POSTER PUT OUT BY THE JERICHO MOVEMENT, NEXT TO COMRADE YOGI.

TO ALL PROGRESSIVE, SOCIAL REVOLUTIONARY FORCES IN THE UNITED STATES AND INTERNATIONALLY, I SAY TO YOU, DO NOT ALLOW THIS LOSS, LIFE, TO GO IN VAIN, WE MUST RE-DOUBLE OUR EFFORTS AT MASS MOBILIZATION, OF THE OPPRESSED, INSIDE AND OUTSIDE PRISON WALLS, AND WORK DILIGENTLY TO INFUSE OUR MOVEMENTS WITH REVOLUTIONARY ENERGY AND DETERMINISM, TO HOLD EACH OTHER BY OUR HANDS, AND OUR HEARTS, AND LINK ALL OF OUR INTER-COMMUNAL STRUGGLES IN OUR OPPRESSED BARRIOS, FAVELAS, GHETTOS, COMMUNITIES, IN PRISONS, IN OUR UNIVERSITIES, AND AROUND THE WORLD, FOR OUR STRUGGLE IS YOUR STRUGGLE.

LET US NOT FORGET THAT THE VICIOUS, CRIMINAL, FASCIST MURDER OF COMRADE YOGI IS THE SAME CAPITALIST PRISON DESIGN OF FASCIST, RACIST VIOLENCE AGAINST THE POOR, AS SOCIAL CONTROL MECHANISMS TO ELIMINATE OUR FOOT SOLDIERS AND TO DESTROY OUR “PRISON MOVEMENT” AND SUPPRESS OUR SOCIAL JUSTICE REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENTS, IN THE BELLY OF THE NERVE CENTER OF FASCIST IMPERIALISM. WE ARE THE REVOLUTIONARY VANGUARD AND WE MUST ACT LIKE ONE.

THIS BLACK AUGUST, WE SALUTE AND HONOR AND MEMORIALIZE ALL OUR FALLEN SOLDIERS, WHO PAID THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE WITH THEIR BLOOD, , LIKE MALCOLM X, JONATHAN, GEORGE JACKSON, THE ATTICA BROTHERS, RUBEN SALAZAR, DIAZ, WARD, HUEY NEWTON, MARILYN BUCK, SACCO AND VENZETTI, HUGO “YOGI BEAR” PINELL, AND MANY, MANY MORE SERVANTS OF THE PEOPLE. WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU! SEIZE THE TIME! DEATH OF U.S. FASCISM! ABOLISH ALL PRISONS! BUILD THE UNITED FRONT AGAINST FASCISM! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

HUGO “YOGI BEAR” PINELL, PRESENTE!!!

 

– By, ALVARO LUNA HERNANDEZ, #255735,

CHICANO POW, POLITICAL PRISONER

IN MEMORY OF GEORGE JACKSON, ALL BLACK AUGUST MARTYRS

AUGUST 21, 19

http://www.freealvaro.net/

Alvaro Luna Hernandez
#255735, James V Allred Unit
2101 FM 369 North
Iowa Park TX 76367

Political Prisoner Birthday Poster For September 2015 Is Now Available

From Prison Books Collective:

cake

Hello Friends and Comrades,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until Every Cage Is Empty,

The Prison Books Collective

A crowdfunding site for a public memorial –

From Sacramento Prisoner Support:

yogibearphotoSupport for Hugo “Yogi” Pinell, Our Fallen Warrior

Fundraising campaign by Black August Los Angeles

http://gogetfunding.com/bala/

ANOTHER MARTYR TO BE REMEMBERED DURING BLACK AUGUST: We recently received news that one of our stalwart comrades, Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell who has spent the past FIFTY (50) years fighting and resisting behind prison walls, was assassinated August 12, 2015 at New Folsom Prison near Sacramento.

“Black August Resistance” was originally started in the California prisons system to honor three fallen comrades: Jonathan and George Jackson, and Khatari Gaulden. It was and remains a means of reflecting upon – and renewing a commitment to – the Tradition of resistance to oppression and repression faced by Afrikan peoples around the world. Here in Los Angeles, “Black August Resistance” comprises a month of activities for the collective mind, body and spirit in honor of the sacrifices of Our Ancestors, their Fighting Spirit of Resistance, and those who continue to resist while behind prison walls.

Hugo Pinell now joins this list of Ancestors we honor for their Fighting Spirit of Resistance.

Our hearts are heavy, but our resistance and resolve are steeled. With this in mind, we have decided to transition our remaining fundraising efforts to support what we regret to say is another fallen comrade. Monies raised here from this date until the end of Black August will go towards a public memorial for Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell.

Donations are tax deductible via FACTS Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization and the fiscal sponsor for this fundraiser.

Thank you for your contribution.

https://kpfa.org/episode/upfront-august-17-2015/

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.

Hugo-Pinell-Shirley-his-late-wife1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What else are the guards afraid of?

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

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

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

Hugo-Pinell-1982

Hugo Pinell in 1982

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugo Pinell in 2001

Hugo Pinell in 2001

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

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

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

Yogi’s time

by Mumia Abu-Jamal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugo Pinell – Rest in Power!

by Claude Marks

Graphic courtesy Freedom Archives

Graphic courtesy Freedom Archives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hasta Siempre Hugo (Forever Hugo)

Solidarity forever

And we are saddened

Solidarity left

You when (it) should have

Counted for something and

What your long imprisoned

Life stood for

Now all your struggles

To be free have failed

And only death

Inglorious and violent

Death has

Claimed you

At the hands of the

Cruel prison system

La Luta Continua

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

Rest In Power Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell

hugoFrom NYC ABC:

On Wednesday, August 12th, our comrade in the struggle for revolution, Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell was murdered. The context for his murder remains unclear, save for the fact that it happened in the midst of a prison riot. We have no faith that the state will do anything to determine how or why Yogi Bear was murdered and presume cops and corrections officers are relishing his death. We do not doubt the possibility that he was specifically targeted and those in authority did nothing to protect him.

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

Activists in prison to this day continue to mark the San Quentin prison rebellion as Black August, often with fasting.

Although Pinell was convicted of assault, and another of the San Quentin Six had a murder conviction, only Pinell remained imprisoned at the time of his death. During his astounding 50 years of imprisonment, Pinell was primarily held in solitary confinement. Though not as active in his political organizing as in his youth, Pinell was part of the historic hunger strikes that spread throughout the California prison system in 2013 to protest the treatment of prisoners held in solitary confinement.

According to his attorney, shortly before the August 12th, 2015 riot, Hugo Pinell was transferred to general population, though the threat of harm and history of threats against him were known to prison officials.

In this month of Black August, we raise a fist for Yogi Bear and all prison rebels—you will have neither lived nor died in vain.