Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gloria La Riva: The Cuban Five

Freedom is a Constant Struggle TV show, Oct. 16, 2009.

Guest, Gloria La Riva is national coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, and has worked for decades to end U.S. hostility toward Cuba. She has traveled frequently to Cuba over the past two decades, as well as to Venezuela, Bolivia and Mexico, where she has been an invited speaker at many international events. La Riva has been a key organizer of mass demonstrations with the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, opposing wars from 1991 to the present. In 1998 she produced the award-winning video, Genocide by Sanctions.

La Riva is president of the Typographical Sector, Media Workers Union, Local 39521, CWA. She has also been a candidate for the Peace & Freedom Party and the Party for Socialism and Liberation, running for California Governor and U.S. President, respectively.

In September 2005, days after Hurricane Katrina, La Riva traveled to New Orleans, producing the video “Heroes Not Looters.”

For more information: www.actionsf.org or call (415) 821-6545

Monday, December 28, 2009

Emiliano Echeverria & Pierre Labossiere: Coups in Honduras and Haiti

Freedom is a Constant Struggle TV show, Oct. 23, 2009

Pierre Labossiere, a Haitian national, co-founder of the Haiti Action Committee, has been a long-time social-justice activist and advocate for the Lavalas Party of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, currently exiled in South Africa. Pierre has also been active in the campaigns to free political prisoners in Haiti and the U.S. Learn more at: www.haitisolidarity.net and www.haitiemergencyrelief.org

Emiliano Echeverria, Central American Scholar, radio DJ, and former Coordinator of "Freedom Is A Constant Struggle" on KPFA Pacifica Radio. Emiliano is also a long-time activist who has traveled often to Cuba where he received excellent medical care and appeared in the film Sicko.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Crystal Bybee: Kevin Cooper and Mumia Abu-Jamal

Freedom is a Constant Struggle TV show, Oct. 30, 2009.

Crystal Bybee is an activist with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and the Kevin Cooper Defense Committee. She is a friend of Kevin Cooper's and visits him at San Quentin Prison.

On November 30, 2009 the US Supreme Court rejected Kevin Cooper’s writ of certiorari. Because of this ruling, Kevin is now facing the death penalty, and support is badly needed. To get the latest updates and to learn what you can do to help, please visit: www.savekevincooper.org

The US Supreme Court has yet to rule on the Philadelphia DA’s request to have Mumia Abu-Jamal executed without the benefit of a new penalty hearing. To get the latest updates and to learn what you can do to help, please visit: www.freemumia.com

Bobby Seale: The Attica Uprising

Freedom is a Constant Struggle TV show, Sept. 11, 2009.

Guest – Bobby Seale, Founding Chairman of the Black Panther Party, organizer, author, consultant, mentor, and current producer of “Bobby Seale's R.E.A.C.H! Chronicles: An on-line SOCIAL CHANGE magazine-journal.” A revolutionary humanist, Bobby also continues to speak at colleges and universities across the country about social change from the sixties to the future.

Largely in response to the death of George Jackson in August, New York's Attica State Prison rebels staged a four-day uprising, Sept. 9 - 13, 1971, during which they called for specified observers to mediate the standoff between the rebels (holding guards hostage) and the Administration. On Sept. 11, Bobby entered the prison to act as a negotiator of prisoners' demands. Unfortunately, NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller decided to end the prison takeover with a military assault that killed 29 prisoners and 10 guards with another 85 wounded, some of whom would die later.

Learn more about Bobby Seale at www.bobbyseale.com

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Phavia Kujichagulia: Fast Food or Fresh Fruit?

Freedom is a Constant Struggle TV show, November 06, 2009.

Phavia Kujichagulia, a Griot / Djialli (Oral Historian), musician, writer, poet, dancer who utilizes music, poetry and dance to heal and reveal history -- was a professor of Ethnomusicology and African Civilizations at World College West and Stanford University’s Workshop on Political and Social Issues. For more than 16 years, she taught Creative Writing and Performance Art for the California Department of Corrections at Folsom, Soledad, Vacaville, Susanville and San Quentin Prisons. Her performances include the World Drum Festival, National Black Expo, and the John Coltrane Festival. Her most recent CD is "THE HUMAN RACE." Phavia currently writes for the SF Examiner, and you can read her articles here.

Homelessness in San Francisco and the US

Freedom is a Constant Struggle TV show, November 13, 2009.

This episode looks at the homelessness crisis in San Francisco and throughout the US.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jennifer Friedenbach: Coalition On Homelessness

Jennifer Friedenbach, Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness, Freedom is a Constant Struggle TV show, November 20, 2009.

Originally from Redwood City, Jennifer has worked about 18 years on homeless and poverty issues, including welfare rights, housing, homeless prevention, healthcare, disability, and human and civil rights. For five years, Jennifer worked at San Mateo County’s Hunger and Homeless Action Coalition moving from administrative assistant to Director. She started work in San Francisco 13 years ago with the Coalition.

Jennifer has co-authored a number of reports including Locked Out! The Voices of People with Mental Illness, a 1999 study citing bureaucratic blockage of access to San Francisco’s mental health system for people in crisis; Housing First for Families, which documents the impact of homelessness on children; and Shelter Shocked, which presents a statistical study of human rights abuses in San Francisco’s shelter system. Jennifer sits on the Implementation Council for the Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, and was a founding member of the People’s Budget Collaborative, which redirects City funding toward supporting poor people’s programs in San Francisco.Last year, Jennifer was among 11 San Franciscans honored with the Women Making History Award.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dennis Cunningham: The 40th Anniversary of the Assassination of Fred Hampton

Freedom is a Constant Struggle television show from Dec. 4, 2009 – The 40th anniversary of the assassination of Fred Hampton.

Our guest, Attorney Dennis Cunningham, established the People’s Law Office in Chicago from which he and young Attorney Haas conducted a landmark civil rights case ultimately winning a large settlement for the Panthers’ families – although Chicago’s killer cops were never criminally charged.

Dennis continued doing civil rights cases over these 40 years, during which he also worked on the long-running class action for the prisoners who rebelled and survived the massacre at New York’s Attica State Prison in 1971, and the Earth First case resulting from the 1990 bombing of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney in Oakland, among many other defenses of protesters and victims of police misconduct, brutality and/or murder.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Video Interview With Kiilu Nyasha: America’s Supermax Prisons Do Torture

This new video interview conducted in November, 2009 in San Francisco, is based on a recent article by Nyasha, entitled “America’s Supermax Prisons Do Torture.” This full article is featured below. For more about Nyasha, please read the recent Black Commentator interview with her, entitled “Media, Revolution and the Legacy of the Black Panther Party.”


ARTWORK BY KIILU NYASHA: From left to right: Hugo "Yogi Bear" Pinell, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Albert "Nuh" Washington.


by Kiilu Nyasha

November 22, 2009

President Barack Obama has clearly stated, “We don’t torture.”

Oh, yes we do. Big time.

A myriad of studies have clearly shown that human beings are social creatures – making prolonged isolation torture.

The New Yorker published an article March 30, 2009 by Atul Gawande titled, Hellhole: The United States holds tens of thousands of inmates in long-term solitary confinement. Is this torture?

Gawande asks, “If prolonged isolation is – as research and experience have confirmed for decades –so objectively horrifying, so intrinsically cruel, how did we end up with a prison system that may subject more of our own citizens to it than any other country in history has?”

By 2000, some 60 supermax prisons had been opened nationwide, in addition to new isolation units in nearly all maximum-security prisons.

The first such gulag was established in 1983 in Marion, Illinois. In 1989, California opened Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border housing over 1,200 captives. It’s been the model for dozens of other states to follow. The SHU (Security Housing Unit) is entirely windowless, and from inside a cell with doors perforated with tiny holes, prisoners can only see the hallway.

They’re confined 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year with just a brief time (when permitted) in the “dog run” or outdoor enclosure for solitary exercise with no equipment, not even a ball.

But after nearly 20 years, California is now holding more people in solitary than ever; yet its gang problem is worse, and the violence rates have actually gone up.

Nationwide, at least 25,000 prisoners are in solitary confinement with another 50-80,000 in segregation units, many additionally isolated but those numbers are not released.

According to The Washington Post, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons reported there are 216 so-called international terrorists and 139 so-called domestic terrorists currently in federal facilities (I’m convinced the real terrorists are on Capitol Hill). No one has ever escaped from these “most secure prisons.”

In a 60 Minutes segment titled, Supermax: A Clean Version of Hell (revisited), June 21, 2009, the reporters took cameras into the ADX-Florence, Colorado Supermax where there have been six wardens since it opened in 1994. It’s where Imam Jalil al-Amin and Mutulu Shakur are held captive, along with myriad other political prisoners.

One former warden stated, “I don’t know what hell is, but I do know the assumption would be, for a free person, it’s pretty close to it.”

“Supermax is the place America sends the prisoners it wants to punish the most – a place the warden described as a clean version of hell.”

In a national study (Hayes and Rowan 1988) of 401 suicides in U.S. prisons —one of the largest studies of its kind—two out of every three people who committed suicide were being held in a control unit.

In one year, 2005, a record 44 prisoners killed themselves in California alone; 70 percent of those suicides occurred in segregation units

Bret Grote is an investigator and organizer with Human Rights Coalition/Fed Up!, a prisoner rights/prison abolitionist organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In the Angola 3 Newsletter, Grote details how HRC/Fed Up! Documented many hundreds of human rights abuses in Pennsylvania’s 27 prisons. Their investigations concluded that Pennsylvania is “operating a sophisticated program of torture under an utterly baseless pretext of ‘security,’ wherein close to 3,000 people are held in conditions of solitary/control unit confinement each day.”

Supermax prisons can also contain death rows where prisoners can spend decades in isolation, torture, with the added torment of impending execution. One obvious example is the highly political case of former Black Panther, journalist and author, Mumia Abu-Jamal, falsely convicted of killing a cop in 1981. Despite hard evidence of innocence, he’s still locked up in SCI Green, a Pennsylvania Supermax, after 27 years on death row and the signing of two death warrants.

These conditions are a flagrant violation of article 6 of the U.S. Constitution which affirms that treaty law (i.e. international law) is the “supreme law of the land.” Thus, article 10 (3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulates that “The penitentiary system shall comprise treatment of prisoners the essential aim of which shall be their reformation and social rehabilitation.”

Contrary to the lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key rhetoric of politicians, A Zogby poll released in April 2006 found 87 percent of Americans favor rehabilitative services for prisoners as opposed to punishment only.

The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, a bipartisan national task force, produced a study after a yearlong investigation (2005-2006) that called for ending long-term solitary confinement of prisoners. The report found practically no benefits and plenty of harm – for prisoners and the public.

One of the most egregious cases of prolonged torture is the politically-charged isolation of Hugo Pinell still held in Pelican Bay’s SHU after nearly 20 years. For his active resistance back in the 1960s and assault conviction in the San Quentin Six case (1976), my dear friend has spent a total of 40 years in hellholes – 45 of his 64 years in California prisons. (http://www.hugopinell.org).

“In much the same way that a previous generation of Americans countenanced legalized segregation,” writes Gawande, “ours has countenanced legalized torture. And there is no clearer manifestation of this than our routine use of solitary confinement – on our own people, in our own communities, in a supermax prison, for example, that is a 30-minute drive from my home.”

In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!

Power to the people!

--Angola 3 News is a new project of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3. Our website is www.angola3news.com where we provide the latest news about the Angola 3. We are also creating our own media projects, which spotlight the issues central to the story of the Angola 3, like racism, repression, prisons, human rights, solitary confinement as torture, and more. Our online video series has now released interviews with Robert King and Terry Kupers entitled “The Psychological Impact of Imprisonment,” Black Panther artist Emory Douglas entitled “The Black Panther Party and Revolutionary Art,” author J. Patrick O’Connor entitled “Kevin Cooper: Will California Execute An Innocent Man,” author Dan Berger entitled “Political Prisoners in the United States,” and Colonel Nyati Bolt entitled “The Assassination of George Jackson.” Please help spread the word!