Day: April 20, 2016

Passing of political prisoner, Luis V. Rodriguez


The statement that follows was passed on to Sacramento Prisoner Support from Luis Rodriguez’s family, and it is our honor to post it here.

Following the statement is Luis’s bio.

 

Luis Valenzuela Rodriguez, you will not be forgotten!

luis2

“You cannot harm me, you cannot harm one who has dreamed a dream like
mine” (Indian Warrior Song).

Luis Valenzuela Rodriguez left this mortal world on Thursday April 14,
2016, at 7:28 p.m. surrounded by his family and friends. He was sixty
years old. Songs and prayers were offered to honor him from the four
directions.

Luis was innocent. He fought with determination to prove his innocence for 37 years. Lies were told about him; in the media, in the courtroom. Many let him down and betrayed him, but many more loved him and stood by him. Despite the great injustice that befell him and despite all the
indignities he was subjected to in prison, Luis woke up every morning with a prayer of gratitude, thanking the creator for another day on earth, even if it meant it would be spent behind bars. His spirit was never broken. His sovereignty never compromised. He walked his path with dignity. Always.

Luis was no angel. He had his faults… he was human. But he was a good man. He was intense but fair in his dealings with others. He was a man of his word. He shared what little he had with those who had less. He gave guidance and encouragement to many. He counseled the young, hoping to change their perspective on life so that they would never have to return to prison (You know who you are).

Luis was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, son and brother. His physical body was not home with us, but he was ever present in our lives. He was more of a father, of a husband, than many men out there who get to go home to their families every night. Luis was Apache-Mestizo. He was a warrior. His medicine was powerful. He died in prison, then came back to life, then woke-up from a coma and rose in his hospital bed to dance to the beat of his daughter’s drum… Who does that? Luis Valenzuela Rodriguez. That’s who! Luis chose his passing. He gathered us around him to say goodbye and see him out on his journey. He obliterated the prison from his hospital room and from his life and he passed to the spirit world a free man. We are proud to call Luis our husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, son, brother, cousin and friend.

 


 

Luis V. Rodriguez was raised in an atmosphere of political and social involvement. As a youngster, he lived in Los Angeles for a period of time with a group known as the Brown Berets, a Chicano-Native American militant organization, which formed against racism and other social injustices.

Luis grew up in the times of the Vietnam war and it`s consequent demonstrations which resulted in the Watts Rebellion, and the 1970 Whittier Boulevard Rebellion after the police killed political activist and journalist, Ruben Salazar, and at which rebellion Rodriguez was a part of.

Luis« politically active father and his contact with the Brown Berets helped Luis to place these events into proper perspective and to bring about his political and social awareness. He also interacted with the League of United Latin Americans (LULAC), the G.I. Forum, and other sociopolitical organizations.

Rodriguez worked diligently to help himself and others. At age seventeen, he started Atzlan, a Chicano-Native American news magazine, which focused on politics, history, culture, and ethnic awareness. He was editor-in-chief, artist, and headed a small staff of other youths. He was a counselor at an Offender Ex-Offender program in Sacramento, a counselor in Los Angeles at the AYUDATE program, and a counselors` aide at the California Youth Authority Perkins Reception Center. his goal was to become a California Youth Authority counselor, a parole or probation officer, or an attorney, in order to help young people. Until the erroneous conviction in 1981 for the two homicides, he had never been convicted of a felony (People V. Rodriguez, 1991).

An Update on Jay Chase

Nato protester’s prison term extended for throwing human waste at guard

Jay Chase

Jay Chase pleaded guilty on April 11th and will receive a sentence of one
year in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Jay will be eligible for half time on the 1 year sentence but with his loss
of one year of good time on his previous sentence it is still unclear what
that will mean for potential release.

All supporters were removed from the courtroom citing a “potential security
risk” and searched again in the hallway right as Jay’s name was called. We
got back into the courtroom right as it was ending. This is what Chicago
state repression looks like. Six sheriffs searched a long line of people
that had been searched already at the entrance and obviously found nothing.
This is how they undermine support.

Stay strong and continue to support Jay. He is going to need all of it.

For now, shoot Jay a letter and let him know you care.
Jared Chase M44710
Pontiac Correctional Center
PO Box 99
Pontiac, Illinois 61764

Passing of Political Prisoner, Abdullah Majid

majid
THE MALCOLM X COMMEMORATION COMMITTEE
PO BOX 380-122, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK 11238
“We have a common oppressor …Once we all realize that we have a common enemy, then we unite, on the basis of what we have in common…”
Malcolm X—Message to the Grass Roots

April 4, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE!
MALCOLM X COMM CMTE STMT ON
PASSING OF POLITICAL PRISONER ABDULLAH MAJID!
            Fifty years ago, the Black Panther Party boldly proclaimed themselves to be “heirs of Malcolm.” That would manifest itself with great organic uniqueness with the legendary New York chapter of the Party. Many of those brave young men and women were actually touched by his work before his fateful assassination. Many others were pulled in by the work of his comrades like the late Herman Ferguson, our incredible founding chairman, who dared to launch the Jamaica Rifle and Pistol Association, in the aftermath of his leader’s death and made that a training ground for many who would ultimately make up and drive the work of what is now that legendary chapter of the Party’s history.
            Let the historical record clearly reflect that Abdullah Majid was one of those young people who was molded in that environment.
            Tall, fearless, humble and selfless, we are proud to unequivocally say that he would come to embody the best of the Black Panther Party.
            Unfortunately, it would also make him and his comrades obsessive targets for COINTELPRO repression.
            Majid passed away suddenly, yesterday, April 3rd, in an upstate NY prison, on what incredibly was the anniversary of Malcolm delivering his revolutionary classic ‘The Ballot Or The Bullet.’
            He was 66 years old.
            He wasn’t surrounded by his family, including his 91 year mother, the irrepressible Rose LaBorde, or his wife Nandi Majid who passed several ago from cancer working to secure justice for husband to her very end. Again, he was in an upstate NY prison.
            Majid was in his 33rd year of wrongful incarceration. He was the surviving Queens Two defendant, framed for killing a NY police officer in 1983. His co-defendant and comrade, the late Bashir Hameed, the NJ field secretary for the Party, passed away in prison several years ago.
            “It was very clear from reading those trial transcripts that Majid was being railroaded,” said his young lawyer Moira Meltzer-Cohen at an October benefit held in his honor.
            Majid was due to come before the Parole Board in June. To all around him, he appeared to be as strong as ever. MXCC was primed to do its share to help mobilize for that process.
            “I am stunned and overwhelmed,” said a greatly pained Dequi Kioni-Sadiki, MXCC’s passionate chair, who had taken the reigns of reorganizing his Defense Committee.
            Her husband, Sekou Odinga, who was released on Parole in November 2014, was silenced by his comrade’s passing. They were not only comrades in the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army, they were friends from their youthful days in SouthEast Queens.
            Organized by his wife Dequi, Sekou keynoted that moving performance benefit held in October to mark the 49th anniversary of the Party’s founding.
            “People don’t understand why we take the plight of our freedom fighters so personally,” said a shaken Zayid Muhammad, the organization’s founding press officer.
            “Because if we come up short on this front, it costs them their lives.”
            Compounding the tragedy the family’s resources are challenged by having had to bury another loved one suddenly shortly before Majid’s death. A Pay Pal account has been established to help cover the costs of his Janazah, the Arabic term for a Muslim funeral.
            Please donate at:
            https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=UQE4527PGEPXS
If you have PayPal you can also email donations to Majid’s Burial Expenses PayPal account at:expenses@abdullahmajid.com

The last poem of Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa

mondo-we-langa

Michael Richardson March 13, 2016

Political prisoner Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa (former David Rice) died March 11 at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary. Mondo suffered from respiratory failure after forty-five long years in prison for a crime he denied, the murder of an Omaha policeman.

Mondo had been targeted, along with fellow inmate Edward Poindexter, by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and agents of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division, because of affiliation with the Black Panther Party. Convicted after a controversial trial in 1971 that was marred by withheld evidence by the FBI, tampered evidence by ATF, and conflicting police testimony, the men became known as the Omaha Two.

Mondo stayed engaged in the outside world commenting on current events with essays and poetry. Two weeks before his death, Mondo mailed out a poem entitled “When It Gets To This Point” about shootings of unarmed black men around the country. Mondo’s last poem follows:

Michael Brown?
I had never heard of him
had never heard of anything he’d done
before the news of his death came
whoever he might have become
whatever he might have achieved
had he lived longer
not been riddled lifeless by
bullets from Darren Wilson’s gun
and crumpled on the pavement of a ferguson street
for more than four hours in
the heat of that august day
and before
I’d never known of Trayvon Martin
had known nothing of who he was
until I learned of his demise
and cause of death
a bullet to the chest
George Zimmerman, the shooter
a badge-less, pretend police
with a pistol
and fear of the darkness
Trayvon’s darkness
and after a while
the pictures, the names,
the circumstances
run together
like so much colored laundry in the wash
that bleeds on whites
was it Eric Garner or Tamir Rice
who was twelve but seen as twenty
Hulk Hogan or The Hulk
with demonic eyes it was said
who shrank the cop in ferguson
into a five-year-old who
had to shoot
and John Crawford the third
in a walmart store aisle
an air rifle in his hands he’d picked up
from the shelf
and held in the open
in an open-carry state
was it John or someone else
killed supposedly by mistake
in a dark stairwell
I know Akai Gurley fell
I hadn’t heard of him before
nor of Amadou Diallo or Sean Bell
prior to their killings
which of these two took slugs in the greater number
I don’t recall
my memory is too encumbered
with the names
of so many before and since
the frequent news reports of
non-arrests, non-indictments,
non-true bills
and duplicitous presentations by “experts in the field”
the consultants put out front
to explain away
that which is so often plain as day
to coax and convince us that we’re the ones
who can’s see straight and
can’t hear clearly
who are the ones replacing facts with spin
to mislead and mystify
as the beatings and the chokings and shootings
of our boys and men
by these wrong arms of the law
proceed in orderly fashion
before the sometimes sad
sometimes angry faces of
our uncertain
our hesitant
disbelief.

ERIC KING ACCEPTS NON-COOPERATING PLEA AGREEMENT FOR 10 YEARS

youcar

Today in court, Eric King accepted a non-cooperating plea agreement to a federal felony charge that carries a sentence of 10 years in prison. The charge is 18 U.S.C. § 844(h), use of explosive materials to commit arson of property used in or affecting interstate commerce. Eric was arrested in September 2014 and has fought his charges since then, suffering through terrible conditions in the private prison he’s been held captive in since his arrest.

Throughout the last year and a half, he has been assessing his situation and figuring out how to handle his charges without putting other anarchists at greater risk through setting a dangerous precedent. He has continually held the best interests of other anarchists in the forefront of his decisions and has been clear that he would never resolve his case in a way that entailed cooperation with the state or putting others at risk. He stood firm on that line today as he admitted to the charges and accepted that he will spend the next 8.5 years in federal prison.

His non-cooperating plea agreement specifies that he will be sentenced to 10 years in prison (the statute is weirdly worded to say that both the minimum and the maximum sentence is 10 years). He will receive credit for the time he has already served, including the time between today and his sentencing hearing. We expect his sentencing hearing to be sometime this summer, but do not have a certain date yet. We will let you all know that date as soon as we know it.

Eric was confident and in good spirits in court today, despite the terrible situation and the reality of the situation crashing in on him. He smiled at the supporters who had made it through the courthouse security to support him. People came from both Kansas City and other parts of the country to be with him through this part of his ordeal.

You can continue to support him, even from afar, by writing to him and donating to his support fund. He is currently in solitary confinement, so he will be returned to the hole after leaving the courtroom. Receiving your letters, cards, and books will help him feel connected and supported when the state is doing everything possible to make him feel isolated, alone, and abandoned. His book wishlist is at http://www.amazon.com/registry/giftlist/OEWNQ9RMQGZR.

His address is:

Eric King
#27090045
CCA Leavenworth
100 Highway Terrace
Leavenworth, KS 66048

And you can donate to his support fund at http://fnd.us/c/316cDf/sh/a4jVK6. We urgently need to raise funds to help him through the next decade of his life.

Love and solidarity,

EK Support Crew

on Feb 19, 2016 , Albert Woodfox – freed from prison!

woodfox

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=780f0226-aaa7-44a0-988a-85f1c99af7e8&c=d7c54030-356e-11e3-9cde-d4ae52754dbc&ch=d8c439a0-356e-11e3-9de2-d4ae52754dbc

Take a deep breath everyone,

Just moments ago, Albert Woodfox, the last remaining member of the Angola 3 still behind bars, was released from prison 43 years and 10 months after he was first put in a 6×9 foot solitary cell for a crime he did not commit. After decades of costly litigation, Louisiana State officials have at last acted in the interest of justice and reached an agreement that brings a long overdue end to this nightmare. Albert has maintained his innocence at every step, and today, on his 69th birthday, he will finally begin a new phase of his life as a free man.

In anticipation of his release this morning, Albert thanked his many supporters and added: “Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”
 
Over the course of the past four decades, Albert’s conviction was overturned three separate times for a host of constitutional violations including prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense, racial discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson, and suppression of exculpatory evidence. On June 8th, 2015, Federal Judge James Brady ordered Albert’s immediate release and barred the State from retrying Albert, an extraordinary ruling that he called “the only just remedy.” A divided panel of the 5th Circuit Court of appeals reversed that order in November with the dissenting Judge arguing that “If ever a case justifiably could be considered to present ‘exceptional circumstances’ barring re-prosecution, this is that case.” That ruling was on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court when news of his release broke.
 
On behalf of the Angola 3 – Albert Woodfox, Robert King, and in memory of Herman Wallace – we would like to sincerely thank all the organizations, activists, artists, legal experts, and other individuals who have so graciously given their time and talent to the Angola 3’s extraordinary struggle for justice. This victory belongs to all of us and should motivate us to stand up and demand even more fervently that long-term solitary confinement be abolished, and all the innocent and wrongfully incarcerated be freed.

For more information about the Angola 3, visit angola3.org.

STATEMENT FROM THE LAWYERS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 19, 2016


Albert Woodfox, Longest-Serving Solitary Confinement Prisoner, to be Freed from Prison After Four Decades

Statements from Albert Woodfox – One of the ‘Angola 3’ – and Attorneys George Kendall and Katherine Kimpel

February 19, 2016, West Feliciana, LA — Albert Woodfox, who spent more time in solitary confinement than any prisoner in U.S. history, will be released this afternoon from custody after more than four decades in the Louisiana prison system. Mr. Woodfox, who turned 69 today, continues to maintain his innocence for the murder that sent him to solitary confinement for more than four decades. He pled no contest to two lesser crimes before being set free.  

“I want to thank my brother Michel for sticking with me all these years, and Robert King, who wrongly spent nearly 30 years in solitary.  I could not have survived without their courageous support, along with the support of my dear friend Herman Wallace, who passed away in 2013,” said Mr. Woodfox.  “I also wish to thank the many members of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3, Amnesty International, and the Roddick Foundation, all of whom supported me through this long struggle.   Lastly, I thank William Sothern, Rob McDuff and my lawyers at Squire Patton Boggs and Sanford Heisler Kimpel for never giving up.  Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

The extreme and cruel solitary confinement endured by Mr. Woodfox and his fellow prisoners, Herman Wallace and Robert King, known as the “Angola 3,” drew international condemnation.  The unnecessary and inhumane use of solitary confinement was particularly stark in light of Mr. Woodfox’s exemplary conduct record for decades.  In fact, in the midst of litigation, the Wardens of both institutions where Mr. Woodfox was held in solitary confinement admitted that he had exemplary conduct records.

“Although we are overjoyed that Albert Woodfox is finally free, it is indefensible he was forced to endure decade after decade in harsh solitary confinement conditions, longer than any prisoner in the history of the United States,” stated George Kendall, attorney with Squire Patton Boggs, LLP.  “Albert survived the extreme and cruel punishment of 40 plus years in solitary confinement only because of his extraordinary strength and character.  These inhumane practices must stop. We hope the Louisiana Department of Corrections will reform and greatly limit its use of solitary confinement as have an increasing number of jurisdictions around the country.”

Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King, along with Mr. Wallace, brought a civil lawsuit in 2000, challenging the constitutionality of the State of Louisiana’s use of indefinite solitary confinement.  Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King confirmed that a primary goal of the ongoing litigation is to help bring light to the fact that there is no penological justification for how the State of Louisiana currently uses solitary confinement and to create incentives for reform.  As Mr. Woodfox explained, “I can now direct all my efforts to ending the barbarous use of solitary confinement and will continue my work on that issue here in the free world.”  

Their case, which is pending, is supported by extensive reports from two nationally-recognized corrections experts.  Those most recent experts’ reports, from 2015, are publicly available and include extensive detail about the State system’s failings (http://bit.ly/1PUqjiG; http://bit.ly/1oNAfUv).  As a federal judge wrote, the extreme length of Mr. Wallace’s and Mr. Woodfox’s solitary confinement was “so far beyond the pale that this Court has not found anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence.”  See Wilkerson v. Stalder, No. 00-304 (M.D. La. Feb. 1, 2005) (Doc. No. 105 at 21).

“It is past time for our nation to leave behind its shameful legacy of being one of the only developed countries in the world that still relies so heavily on the outdated and ineffective corrections practice of indefinite solitary confinement,” commented Katherine Kimpel, partner at Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP. “That Albert Woodfox served over four decades in solitary confinement shocks the conscience and is a national embarrassment.  We should take advantage of the growing national consensus regarding corrections reform to ensure that, if our society were to be judged by entering our prisons, we would not be found lacking.”

Attorneys for Mr. Woodfox said he will now be able to receive the medical attention he desperately needs.

If you would like to speak with attorneys for Mr. Woodfox or leading experts on solitary confinement conditions and reform, please contact Laura Burstein or Jamie Moss at Laura.Burstein@Squirepb.com, 202-626-6868 (o), 202-669-3411 (c); orjamie@newspros.com, 201-788-0142.

‘Angola 3’ Case Background

In 1972, Brent Miller, a young, white guard at Angola prison, was killed. At a time when Angola prison was highly racially polarized, investigators eventually honed in on four suspects who were politically active Black Panthers.  Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were two of those men.  No forensic or physical evidence linked Mr. Woodfox or Mr. Wallace to the crime, the fingerprints found at the scene, or the bloody knife found nearby. Several alibi witnesses placed both men in different parts of the prison and away from the scene of the crime at the time of the murder.

Mr. Woodfox was originally convicted in 1973 of the murder solely on the testimony of three inmate witnesses.  

However, as Mr. Woodfox learned decades after his original trial, these inmates were provided attractive incentives by the prison officials for their testimony, including promises of improved housing and a pardon.  State officials also suppressed inconsistent statements by these witnesses.

Eventually, Mr. Woodfox’s 1973 conviction was overturned because of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury that indicted him.  He was retried in 1998.  Despite the fact that two of the State’s three inmate witnesses had died, and despite the fact that they never were adequately cross-examined because of evidence hidden by prison officials, their transcripts from the prior trial were admitted into evidence and Mr. Woodfox was again convicted.

After many years of appeals, his 1998 conviction was set aside in later 2014 and he was recharged in 2015.  His lawyers waged a vigorous campaign to exclude from any new trial the prior testimony of the deceased witnesses who never were adequately cross-examined.  However, both the trial judge and the First Circuit Court of Appeal in Louisiana denied those motions, meaning that the prior statements would again be used against Mr. Woodfox at a new trial.  

Although Mr. Woodfox and his legal team remained optimistic about the possibility for an acquittal at a new trial, concerns about Mr. Woodfox’s health mounted as he approached his 69th birthday. Mr. Woodfox decided to bring the case to a conclusion with today’s action. His plea of “nolo contendere” or “no contest” to two lesser charges is not an admission of guilt. It means simply that he does not contest that the State would present evidence at a new trial from witnesses who said he committed this crime. Mr. Woodfox continues, as he always has, to maintain his innocence.  

###

Today, Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox walked free, 44 years after he was first put into solitary confinement.

He was the United States’ longest serving prisoner held in isolation. Nearly every day for more than half of his life, Albert Woodfox woke up in a cell the size of a parking space, surrounded by concrete and steel.

Tomorrow morning, for the first time in more than four decades, he will be able to walk outside and look up into the sky.

Over the course of nearly five years working on Albert Woodfox’s case at Amnesty, I heard many times that the odds were insurmountable.

But I always knew that Albert Woodfox would go home.

I have seen the incredible power of our movement when we work together.

I have seen the courage humility, and determination of so many of you who have played big and small roles to help this historic human rights victory come to fruition.

I have seen the unbelievable strength of the Angola 3: Robert King, Herman Wallace, and Albert Woodfox himself—all three of whom endured nightmares but persevered with humor, dignity, and resolve to wage a relentless fight against the cruel, inhuman and degrading practice of prolonged solitary confinement in the United States.

With the knowledge of his release, Albert had this message for those who have helped him secure his freedom:

I want to thank my brother Michael for sticking with me all these years, and Robert King, who wrongly spent nearly 30 years in solitary. I could not have survived without their courageous support, along with the support of my dear friend Herman Wallace, who passed away in 2013. I also wish to thank the many members of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3, Amnesty International, and the Roddick Foundation, all of whom supported me through this long struggle. Lastly, I thank William Sothern, Rob McDuff and my lawyers at Squire Patton Boggs and Sanford Heisler Kimpel for never giving up. Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges. I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.

I’m carrying those words with me today as we celebrate this victory.

Today Albert Woodfox walks free—February 19, 2016, his 69th Birthday.

Denver Anarchist Black Cross

No One Is Free While Others Are Oppressed

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Free all political prisoners!

Bay Area Anti-Repression Committee

Free all political prisoners!

NYC Anarchist Black Cross

Free all U.S.-held political prisoners and prisoners of war!

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Amplifying the voices of the 2011 and 2013 California Prisoner Hunger Strikers and their Families

Support Prisoner Resistance

Free all political prisoners!

Toronto Anarchist Black Cross

Free all political prisoners!

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in solidarity with all those behind bars