One Man’s Terrorist is Another Man’s Freedom Fighter
BY KAZI TOURE, former political prisoner
I was asked by my comrade Jaan Laaman to put down a few lines about the events that led up to August 7, 1970, and in particular Jonathan Jackson, younger brother of George. These two men more than any other have influenced my thought and practice to this day. The organization that I allegedly joined and went underground with, the United Freedom Front, (UFF), marked our time by the death of Jonathan. August 8, 1970 was day one. It is now 391132ADJ.
As many of us know about history, things do not happen in isolation. Its usually a list of actions or events that culminate into a larger action. It was not too different with what happened on August 7. The latter part of the 1960s, from 1967 to 1970, there had been a number of racist attacks by white supremacists inside and outside of what is known as prison. What usually occurs in the micro gets replicated in the macro, larger society. If we are to be astute and learn the lessons of those who came before, Brother Malcolm taught us that the entire united states is one big prison. We on the “outside” are in minimum security.
So, as the klan, Oakland pigs, L.A. pigs, Chicago pigs, N.Y., Boston, N.C., New Orleans, Selma, and all the pigs, in this PIG nation collectively waged WAR on all indigneous, national organizations, struggles and movements so did their counterparts inside maximum security. We really need to look at things in context. The Black Panther Party was formed in 1966. The country was embroiled in social unrest, people ona move from Chavez and the farm workers, Young Lords, Martin Luther King jr., the Yippies, hippies, dippies, the white women’s movement, everyone was riding the backs of the most oppressed, taking example and liberties. As the Vietnam war progressed so did the racism in the united states. Soldiers left these shores calling the Vietnamese “gooks,” while the pigs (national occupying army) called us “niggers” and spics. This country made sure its foreign policy mirrored the practiced of its domestic policy, in minimum security.
According to the aryan nation, on January 16, 1967, Martin’s birthday, one of their nazi members was killed by someone in the Black Guerilla Family in San Quentin. The next day a riot broke out on the prison yard and a prison guard opened fire from the towers, wounding five prisoners. Over the next three years attacks intensified every day. As prisoners went out onto the main yards of Soledad, and San Quentin, Black prisoners were strip searched and disarmed, while white prisoners were allowed to carry their shanks to the yard. During the three years numerous attacks occurred escalating to January 13, 1970.
On January 13, 1970, several Aryan brotherhood members, along with Mexican Mafia members, beefed with members of the Black Guerrilla Family members on the exercise yard in Soledad prison. The tower guard, pig Opie Miller opened fire with a high powered rifle, killing W.L. Nolen, Alvin Miller, and Cleveland Edwards. Three days later on January 16, 1970, a white pig guard John V. Mills, was thrown from the third tier of Y wing and died.
On February 16, 1970 George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo, and John Clutchette were indicted for the murder of pig Mills. Just nine days later on February 25, 1970 a Black prisoner Fred Billingslea, was gassed and beaten to death in San Quentin. Two weeks later a guard was stabbed in retaliation. Jame McClain was charged with stabbing the pig guard.
In July of 1970, another pig guard was killed in Soledad, and seven Black prisoners were indicted for his death. Now you know it did not take seven brothers to kill one pig, but they probably did not know who did it, and charged seven people who were organizing something they did not approve of. That is the way it usually goes down. The price one pays for standing up.
On August 7, 1970, George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo, and John Clutchette were supposed to appear in court for a hearing. Jonathan planned to free his big brother that day. His actions that day made thousands of people watching proud and ashamed at the same time. Proud of a Black man, and I have to say man, because though he was only seventeen years old, he showed more courage than many grown men twice his age. After realizing that his blood brother George would not be brought in to court, he took it to a higher level. He said these also are my brothers, and took them. Jonathan was prepared. But, he was not prepared for how the state reacted. He took the judge, some jurors, and the pig prosecutor as shields. The judge told the pigs not to shoot. But, as soon as they got into the van the pigs opened fire, killing Jonathan, the judge, James McClain, and William Christmas. The only surviving prisoner was Ruchell Magee, who is still in prison today. The state showed us that day they would rather kill their own then to let freedom fighters win.
Jonathan showed us, if we want our comrades, sisters, brothers, friends and lovers, free from these concentration camps in amerikkka, then we had better get busy making plans to free them as Sista Assata was freed. Thirty-nine years, eleven months and thirty-two days after the death of Jonathan. Soon to be 40 years. Long live the spirit of Jonathan in our hearts, minds, and struggle.
Big clenched fist salute, brother. All power to the people. “Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are already dying who could be saved, that generations more will live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love in revolution.” George Jackson, Blood in My Eye