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A Prison Radio Message from Jaan Laaman, 4strugglemag Editor

December 10, 2013


Herman Wallace, from the Angola 3 case, had his decades -old conviction overturned and was freed by a federal judge on October 4th. He died of liver cancer 3 days later.

This is Jaan Laaman, your political prisoner voice, coming to you from the federal prison in Tucson, Arizona. Allow me to share some details of a sad and ugly case of injustice and the incredible, one could call it heroic, determination, resilience and strength of Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King Wilkerson—the Angola 3.

In the early 1970s, Herman, Albert and Robert were young prisoners in the notoriously racist Angola state prison in Louisiana. In keeping with the then spirit and times of positive change and justice, they organized a chapter of the Black Panther Party inside Angola prison. The racist authorities unleashed every manner of abuse against them and finally falsely charged and convicted them of the kill- ing of a guard, even though there was no evidence against them and they knew these men had nothing to do with it. Then they were thrown into segregation.

Twenty-nine years later Robert King had his conviction thrown out and he was released. This October 4th, after a long review of Herman Wallace’s legal record, Federal Judge Brian Jackson overturned his conviction and ordered his immediate release. Herman had been very ill with liver cancer for a long time. An ambulance drove him from the prison to a hospital where family and hundreds of support- ers were waiting for him. It was a joyous moment, and 3 days later Herman died from his cancer.

Herman Wallace spent 41 years in a 6-by-9 foot segrega- tion cell. That is longer than anyone else in U.S. history. Albert Woodfox remains in segregation, 41 years and still counting.

Herman did die free, well kind of free, as one can be in this land of imperialist war and hate. To finally beat his racist frame-up case is a victory, no doubt. To spend 41 years in segregation and to leave almost dead—to die 3 days later, is a pretty hard win.

And what about the wonderful and courageous human rights attorney, Lynne Stewart, who is right now dying of breast and other cancers in the Carswell federal prison in Texas? The Federal Bureau of Prisons Director has denied her request for compassionate medical release. Maybe they will wait until she has 3 days to live and then let her go.

Until next time, remember, Freedom is a Constant Struggle. And keep Lynne, Albert and the rest of us political prison- ers in your thoughts.


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