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Introduction to Issue 25

October 16, 2015

Hello interested readers, activists, fellow revolutionaries, friends and comrades, to issue 25.  Yes, it has been over a year since our last issue, 4sm 24, came out in Spring of 2014.  We have had several obstacles and problems to deal with.  Our printers, good movement activists and great professional printers, have had their own struggles with the state, but are now back in operation.  Most hard copy subscribers are receiving both issues 24 and 25 in this mailing.


You will see from our revised “Welcome to 4strugglemag” on the inside cover, that we have had to change our printing schedule.  4sm is now producing 2 hardcopy issues a year.  One in July/August and the second issue in December.  We will now be publishing on this new schedule.  Your material/monetary support is always needed.


This issue has many important and informative selections.  You’ll certainly want to check out Jalil’s “Future Focus” analysis and call for action.  We also have a great interview with Lynne Stewart and her husband Ralph.  There are lots of updates and information about political prisoners.  With the continuing police killings of so many men, women and even children of color, you should check out “Thoughts on Killer Cops – MOVE/May 13”.  This issue is full of useful information.  As always, we welcome your feedback and original writings, letters and poems.  We’ll see you in issue 26, out in December.  And for all you online readers, online now posts new material and information early each month.


Freedom Is A Constant Struggle!    

Jaan Laaman, editor


Jaan Laaman


USP Tucson

P.O. Box 24550

Tucson, AZ 85734

Issue 25: Letters

October 16, 2015

Comrade Jaan,


I am sending a poem that I hope can become your “theme poem.” I based it on your editorial column… I had a discussion with a few brothers that I felt did not understand fully what oppression was, but being a humble man, I realize it’s possible I myself have a limited view, I wondered how many others understand it. If so, can you oppress the oppressor?


Also, I would like to learn exactly what a political prisoner is. There are so many terms: PPOC, POC, PP, etc. that I feel it should be explained. From my knowledge George Jackson was considered a political prisoner, but it was something he became while incarcerated as opposed to being locked up for political reasons. If you can orchestrate a dialogue on that, I’d appreciate it.


Comrade Wazo


Jamey Wilkins


1300 Western Blvd.

Raleigh NC, 27606 USA


Note: See 4sm issues 12 and 13 for an earlier version of our “Glossary,” a collaborative and evolving list of definitions. In future issues, we will continue to explore and work together to define terms that are useful to our analysis – so feel free to suggest others.






   I am against suffering

I am against buckling

I am against any and everything other than

What I am 4… struggling

   Consistent resistance

Of oppressive conditions

Orchestrated by the select

For protecting their interests

   Their possessions are senseless

Too excessive, expensive

While the rest of us skimping

So, yes, I am against them

   But the masses I am with them

When attacking the system

Because I am against

Capitalistic imperialism

   I am 4 the just

The equal, the free

I am 4 war

In order to achieve peace

   I am against facism

I am against racism

I am against agent provocateurs

And their fakism

   Of political prisoners

I am 4 the release

I am against the strong

Who are exploiting the weak

   In solidarity I speak

With the tongue of the streets

With the heart of the revolutionary

In the belly of the beast

   If you are 4 socialism

Are 4 no more trouble

If you are 4 a change

They you must be 4struggle


[Below we share a letter from Tonio X, a long-time reader and supporter of 4sm. This reached us quite a while after it was sent, but we still wanted to share his words.]




I have for years, received and read all of your pamphlets and enjoyed reading every bit of them. Your pamphlets have kept me moving in these death camps, ‘cause they kept me focused on my real enemy in this struggle.


Your pamphlets made me adjust lots of my views – and views of those who I have always shared your pamphlets with.


Before I get too ahead of myself, I want to greet all my comrades with a revolutionary clenched fist. Without us there would be no revolution, the world needs people like us so they can point and say, there goes the people who are agitating the status quo.


I consider all of you my comrades ‘cause even though we are not side by side fighting those forces (enemies) who are trying to keep us silent, we are in spirit. Even though I’m behind these prison gates, and you all are on the other side, our fights are the same, ‘cause we are all the same people.


I love learning from your pamphlets, so I hope you keep sending them to me. It has been a while since I received one. The last Issue I recall receiving was with the picture of a good friend of mine – Geronimo Ji-Jage. He taught me a lot within the struggle, he taught me not to give up, ‘cause once you do then they will come pouncing.


So I say, keep those pamphlets coming. It’s not August, a month which we refer to as Black August, a month of remembrance. We remember all of those who came before us, and among us, it’s also a time when we gather together to remember how the past fallen brothers and sisters have given their lives in the struggle for the people, including not forgotten brothers and sisters who are engaged for speaking up and for challenging this rotten system.


We must remember in 1831 a Black man rose in the midst of slavery and proclaimed to the world that no man, woman and child was meant to be property of another person. This man stood strong, a man we all of an Afrikan descent recognize as Nat Turner. He is a symbol for all of us in the struggle. I always remember him because his spirit lives in me.


I also remember others who made way for us to follow; I remember David Walker (Walker’s Appeal), Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. DuBois, Malcolm X, George Jackson, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth.


In the trenches,

Tonio X






Formidable are the locks

Which stand sentry to your thoughts

Resistance courses your heart

As the Black Panther walks —

At your side, oh Mu’Mia!

Our Black Shining Prince;

And that’s ever since…

Brother Malcolm’s demise.

From the Phoenixes’ charred ashes

Like smoke you will rise!!!

Paragon of the struggle,

For we see you and love you…

Standing ready to rumble,

Should your captors prove careless.

As cold as they are,

Yet your spirit remains fearless!

In solidarity with the Star —

That you are–

Comrade Pather Jamal!!!

Exceedingly clever and extremely calm,

Yet as torrid as Napalm —

Your words and verbs,

Are like the Mother Of All Bombs!

Brandishing such nerve.

Making “All Things Considered,”

As you’ve blazingly shown,

That Fire can’t be censored,

When it’s “Live From Death Row!”

Cynthia White wasn’t right;

Daniel died by his own.

Fixed was the fight,

At Lady Injustice’s Throne…

Yet for 29 years,

Borne by Blood,

Sweat and Tears,

Her scales wavered in the balance.

For Justice NEVER cared about —

Me nor You, oh Abu of The Truth…

Still the morrow awaits,

For it breathes for you!

Which means to turn back now provides no solution;

We have come too far —

Long live The Revolution!!!

An ode to Mu’Mia Abu Jamal.


Submitted by reader Calvin Davis

Issue 25 updates: 2015 Releases

October 16, 2015

December 2014: Cuban 5 Released


From the speech of Gerardo Hernandez to the international solidarity movement for the Cuban 5 at the Palace of the Conventions, Havana, May 2, 2015:


“We still face the battle to free Oscar López too, so that he can enjoy freedom as we do today. We still have Mumia Abu-Jamal. We still have Leonard Peltier. We still have other compañeros who are political prisoners. The committees in solidarity with the Five that supported us so much must see what we can do to end these injustices, too.


We want Oscar and the other compañeros to know that the Five, now that we are free, will continue remembering you and supporting you.


See: “The organizers who never gave up on the Cuban Five” on page __.


2015 Releases:


1/8: After serving nearly 10 years in prison, the judgment and sentencing against green anarchist Eric McDavid was vacated when it became known that the FBI had failed to disclose potentially exculpatory evidence to the


1/15: Norberto Gonzalez Claudio was released from prison, and began his journey back home to Puerto Rico. When he arrived he was welcomed by a crowd of supporters.


1/16: After spending nearly two decades in federal prison, Tsutomu Shirosaki was released to an immigration facility, and later deported to Japan.


1/27: Marissa Alexander, a survivor of domestic violence from Jacksonville, FL, spent 3 years behind bars for defending her life from an abusive husband. She is now sentenced to two years of house detention while being forced to wear and pay for a surveillance ankle monitor.


3/13: Anarchist prisoners Carlos López, Amélie Pelletier and Fallon Poisson were released from Mexico City (Amélie and Fallon deported back to Canada)


4/16: Brent Betterly was the second of NATO 3 to be released. Prior to the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago, three Occupy activists were arrested and eventually charged with 11 felony counts. See update on Maya Chase below.


5/16: Plowshares prisoners Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed were released. Eighty-five year-old activist nun Rice told Mother Jones that it felt “Not that much different, because none of us is free… and it looks like we are going to go on being un-free for as long as there is a nuclear weapon waiting.”


6/1: Kevin Chianella (from Queens, NY) was released after a 2 year prison sentence for his participation in the G20 protests in Toronto in 2010.


Please remember that prisoner support doesn’t end when a comrade is released. Through halfway houses, supervised release, parole, or probation, there is usually state supervision beyond the initial sentence. Also, prison is traumatic. And of course there is the stigma of being a former prisoner that affects nearly every aspect of one’s life. All of this adds up to the less obvious, but equally necessary, support needed when our loved ones come home.

Issue 25 updates: New and ongoing cases

October 16, 2015

09/2015: Eric King, a 28-year-old vegan anarchist, was arrested and charged with an attempted firebombing of a government official’s office in Kansas City, MO. The criminal complaint states that both alleged incendiary devices failed to ignite. Scheduled to go to trial in July 2015, he is facing up to 30 years in federal prison.


Since his arrest last September, he has been extremely isolated from his loved ones and has been targeted by the guards, who have repeatedly put his safety in jeopardy. Eric is being held in the segregation unit and has been assured that during his time at CCA Leavenworth he will remain in segregation. Despite these struggles, he continues to maintain his good spirits and his resolve to see his legal situation through to the end. He is also maintaining his dedication to struggling for a world free of domination and oppression.


1/21: U.S. journalist Barrett Brown was sentenced to 5 years 3 months, for charges related to the 2011 Stratfor hack.


1/21: Anti-mining activist Katie “Krow” Kloth was sentenced to 9 months in county jail. This Eco-Warrior has been in custody in the Iron County, WI jail since early February 2015 for standing up to Goegebic Taconite which was trying to level the ancient Penokee hills to create the world’s largest taconite mine.


1/22: Jason Hammond was sentenced to 41 months in prison after accepting a non-cooperating guilty plea for his role in a militant direct action directed at white supremacists in the suburb of Tinley Park.


3/12: Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh sentenced to 18 months for allegedly giving false answers on her immigration applications. Rasmea is a 67 year old Palestinian American community leader who was tortured by the Israeli government in 1969. Her case is part of a larger campaign against Palestinian leaders, institutions, and community members; as well as an example of government repression waged against oppressed nationalities, anti-war, social justice, and international solidarity activists.


6/12: After over 43 years of solitary confinement and wrongful conviction, on June 8, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge James Brady ruled that the Angola 3’s Albert Woodfox be both immediately released and barred from a retrial. The Court has extended a stay of release at least until the time that it issues its ruling later in the fall. See “Will Albert Woodbox be freed?” on page __.


7/2015: Kevin Johnson and Tyler Lang pleaded to a single count of conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. They each face up to 5 years at their upcoming sentencing hearings.


Please help to make sure that Kevin and Tyler feel a lot of love and support during this time while they are in prison and awaiting sentencing. Send them a letter, donate to their commissary, and continue to work to help animals.

Rest in power: Peter Collins

October 16, 2015

Long-time 4strugglemag supporter and artist Peter Collins passed away August 13, 2015 at 2 a.m. He will always be remembered for his endless fight for justice, his sense of humour, his kind heart and his unwavering integrity. His contributions to changing the world we live in will continue to live on through his art, cartoons, audio recordings, short films and his writing. His spirit will live on through our hearts and minds as he deeply touched so many of us.

Over the coming months there will be memorial services held in Ottawa, Kingston, Montreal and Toronto.
There is so much to say about the lack of proper care that he received but we will write more about that later.

Mumia Abu-Jamal Has Hepatitis C: Demand Treatment Now!

October 16, 2015


Mumia Abu-Jamal remains weak, ill, and in the prison infirmary.


Five months after being admitted to the hospital with lethal blood sugar levels and in renal failure, he continues to have debilitating skin rashes, open wounds and swelling across his lower extremities. Because of our relentless demands for medical testing and treatment, we finally know the likely cause of his severe ailments: Hepatitis C.


But what is news to us is not news to his jailers. Prison officials have known that Mumia was Hep. C positive since 2012 – and have done nothing.


Even now that prison doctors know that Mumia’s Hep. C is active – from testing they performed solely because we demanded it – they are refusing to provide treatment.

Today, we are going back to court to demand justice for our brother.


Mumia’s legal team (Bret Grote of Abolitionist Law Center and Robert Boyle of New York) is filing an amended lawsuit today, ‘Abu-Jamal v. Kerestes’, to include medical neglect and demand immediate treatment.


Meanwhile, Prison Radio is working tirelessly to make sure Mumia’s legal and medical team have the necessary resources to get Mumia the critical care he needs.

And we can’t do it without you.


We need your help today to ensure that the prison treats Mumia’s Hepatitis C now!


Mumia’s Skin Disease and Mass Incarceration as Lethal Threat



Mumia Abu-Jamal’s fight today for his physical health exposes the pervasive inhumanity of US mass incarceration’s very nature. It is a lethal system.


Abu-Jamal is currently incarcerated in a Frackville, Pennsylvania state prison, serving a Life Without Possibility of Parole sentence (LWOPP). That began after nearly 30 years on death row for a death sentence that courts ruled unconstitutional in 2011.


But Abu-Jamal’s imprisoned body is now confined in another way. He is encased from head-to-toe by a skin disease that has remained undiagnosed since January. Dr. Johanna Fernandez, Fulbright Scholar and historian at Baruch College/CUNY, who has visited Abu-Jamal regularly for over a decade saw him this past Saturday, June 13, and her report includes these descriptive phrases:


*A leather patch now covers Abu-Jamal’s whole body


* He is told his hemoglobin levels have been going down


* His skin . . . is “really, really dark and leathery” from head to toe


* His face seemed a bit swollen and darker that I’ve ever seen it


* Two finger tips have visibly cracked lesions that look painful


* He still has open lesions on his legs


* His feet and toes were very swollen


* Prison infirmary doctors tell Abu-Jamal, “when the body is healing itself it releases fluid”


* Nurses and specialists at the nearby Geisinger Medical Center, where Abu-Jamal received professional and humane treatment for a brief time in May, report they “have never seen a case like this before”


Abu-Jamal’s tightening and painful leather encasement of his body is a kind of prison within the prison for him. Indeed, for nearly all the confined, especially for the sick and elderly, the chronic systems of medical mistreatment in US prisons forge another imprisoning sphere, one of sickness, desperation and dying.


Moreover, stunningly, no diagnosis for this condition has been given to Abu-Jamal, his family or attorneys. For 6 long months, the prison has proven incapable of diagnosing this serious attack on Abu-Jamal’s health. Along with the skin disease, he developed diabetes triggered by prison doctors’ experimental application of steroidal cream. Despite documented, elevated levels of blood sugar in the prison infirmary, doctors there did nothing to address the fatally high blood sugar spikes until he collapsed and went into diabetic shock. His blood sugar registered at 779, accompanied also by a catastrophically high sodium level.”


Not surprisingly, though, the prison has been quite capable – indeed relentless – in keeping Abu-Jamal’s weakened body in custody. Only national and international advocacy successfully forced his transport from his guarded prison infirmary to outside medical centers. Even then, he was kept hidden from family, friends and lawyers. He was monitored 24/7 by a full six prison guards while at the hospital, where he also was kept shackled to his bed, even during medical testing.


In short, prisons prioritize security procedures over medical care. They know no other way.


This is mass incarceration’s war on life and health. University of California law professor Jonathan Simon writes in his 2014 book, Mass Incarceration on Trial,


. . . the very things that define mass incarceration as a distinctive mode of punishment – its scale, its categorical nature, and its prioritization of custody over reform or rehabilitation – all predict that intensified health crises will be an inherent problem (88).


Simon’s words are about California, a state where even the courts now have found persistently incompetent medical care to be a form of torture and a violation of the Eighth Amendment against “cruel and unusual punishment” (89). Simon emphasizes that in California “litigation had begun for the first time to define mass incarceration as the source of unconstitutional conditions” (108, emphasis added).


Any who may have desired Abu-Jamal silenced and dead – and Pennsylvania officials have made no secret about the strength of this desire – have only to wait upon the prison system to do its work. Mass incarceration kills. This is not death by old age. Mass incarceration makes one “elderly,” unduly vulnerable to disease and debilitation. It is the manufacture of premature, high-risk aging. Analysts argue that by age 55 one should be categorized as “elderly” in prison – many lower that age to 50 for all who are incarcerated more than 10 years. The ACLU’s in-depth analysis “The Mass Incarceration of the Elderly” calculates that by 2030 the number of those 55 and over in US prisons will skyrocket to over 400,000, this being a 4,400% increase in elderly prisoners since 1981 when mass incarceration rates began to rise exponentially.


This chronically lethal system, though, also includes prison guards who assume their own right to torture and kill prisoners. They have been known to intentionally handle patients roughly. Bureau of Justice statistics report that prison guards and staff are responsible for as much as half of sexual assaults in prison. Court-mandated studies document “systematic hostility of correctional officers to medical treatment for prisoners and to those who provide it” (Simon, 101). Prisons themselves are lethal cultures, simmering with a tension that Columbia University Law Professor Robert Ferguson describes in his book, Inferno, as always prone to violence, a violence that guards come to desire (95-137). Prison personnel can kill for various reasons, as in Florida in 2014 when 346 prisoners were murdered by law enforcement and prison guard personnel.


The New York Times ended a 2014 editorial, “The American experiment in mass incarceration has been a moral, legal, social, and economic disaster. It cannot end soon enough.”


But no one has written about precisely these matters for so long and as directly, eloquently and for so diverse a set of audiences as has Abu-Jamal himself. Across eight books – a new one being published just this year – and thousands of essays in venues as diverse as Street News, Forbes, and the Yale Law Journal, Abu-Jamal has opened the public’s eyes to the multiple ways of the US killing state.


It is Abu-Jamal’s powers of pen and voice for exposing the state’s ways of death and torture, and for a mass readership among the poor and voiceless, that has driven US officials to seek his death for decades – first by execution, and then now, failing that, by the prison system’s own chronic modes of lethal assault. Abu-Jamal is an effective catalyst for change because he is marked as a “public enemy no. 1″ figure by the U.S. killing state while remaining a catalyst for a wide-array of social movements against the state’s structural violence.


The people for whom Abu-Jamal writes have kept him alive. Winning his release now would be a public event of value to any justice-loving people. Abu-Jamal will need well deserved rest and restoration. But with his release must come also a coalition of social movement work – to end mass incarceration. This means ending its torture of hundreds of thousands of elderly in its clutches. It means ending the warehousing of the mentally ill, more of whom are in jails and prisons than reside in state psychiatric care facilities. It requires terminating the brutal culture of death that mass incarceration institutionalizes. In short, it is time to dismantle the US killing state that uses its prison system to control and terrorize anyone whose revolutionary work means building truly alternative institutions that can safeguard a comprehensive freedom – especially for the long colonized, exploited black and brown communities and for the growing numbers of the poor today.
This all can begin with the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal today.

Disabilities caucus condemns attempted execution of Mumia by medical neglect

October 16, 2015


The People with Disabilities Caucus of the People’s Power Assembly joins the international progressive community in condemning the attempted execution by medical neglect of Mumia Abu-Jamal.


Writing from behind the walls of the prison-industrial complex, internationally renowned political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal is known for exposing the racist foundation of capitalism, from mass incarceration of people of color in for-profit prisons to U.S. war and intervention abroad.


Unjustly convicted of killing a police officer, Mumia has spent 30 years in prison, until recently in solitary confinement on Pennsylvania’s Death Row. His demand for a new trial and freedom is supported by heads of state and prominent politicians in France, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America and by Nobel laureates Nelson Mandela, Toni Morrison, Desmond Tutu and others.


Mumia is now seriously ill. He is suffering from life-threatening diabetes, full body skin disease, weight loss of 80 pounds in the last two to three months, extreme dehydration, multiple neurological symptoms, [including] uncontrollable shaking, slurred speech and loss of memory with fugue states. He now uses a wheelchair. Mumia’s family and friends hold the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections directly responsible for neglect, malpractice and inadequately addressing the alarming deterioration of his health. Only if he is released will he be able to get the proper medical care to give him a chance at recovery.


Prisons are a disability issue. Mass incarceration has resulted in the jailing of people with mental, developmental, emotional and physical disabilities in disproportionately high numbers. Many are unjustly incarcerated. Once in jail, they often receive inadequate treatment for their disability or no treatment at all. This violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which guarantees prisoners with disabilities the right to adequate health care.


As activists in the disability rights movement, we demand that Mumia, and all prisoners with disabilities, be immediately granted full medical rights, as protected by the ADA.


We demand that Mumia be able to see a doctor of his choice. We demand that Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been imprisoned for decades for a crime he never committed, be released immediately.


We urge you to join us in phoning and emailing:


  • Secretary of the Department of Corrections, John Wetzel, to demand that Mumia be treated by a doctor of his choice. 717-728-2573; racrpadocsecretary@


  • Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to demand that the state halt attempts to execute Mumia by medical neglect. 717-787-2500; fax 717-772-8284;


We also urge you to circulate this statement as widely as possible.


People with Disabilities Caucus of the People’s Power Assembly; 212-633-6646

Marius Mason: hello, family.

October 16, 2015

hello, family.


Marius Mason is an imprisoned transgender anarchist. He is serving 22 years for acts of eco-sabotage. He’s incarcerated in FMC Carswell, a huge, high-security facility; he receives few visits, his mail is monitored, and he is intensely socially isolated. Since he came out, he has faced barriers to accessing hormones, surgery, and the ability to legally change his name.


As Queers, we know the terror of scrutiny, disgust and isolation; we have all been denied the ability to live the way we want by society for at least some portion of our lives. For trans and gay people in prison, those problems are doubled by the physical and emotional restraints of a literal cage. For decades, early queer activists showed active solidarity and support for their imprisoned brothers and sisters — they wrote letters, had marches and demanded not just that they be treated with respect and dignity, but their total and unconditional release. Gay and trans prisoners organized with each other and the outside world.


It’s time to revive that tradition. Write to Marius— let him know he’s not alone. Show him the recognition and respect the prison refuses him. Get involved in projects that support other gay and trans prisoners, and look into the other struggles in which Marius participates—it’s one fight against the society that is killing us, one way or the other. Live your life with pride, joy, freedom, and extend those feelings to others; don’t let the walls of prison or society act as a limit.

They won’t stop hurting us until we make them.


Celebrate Marius

and stand with him.


Marie* Mason #04672-061

FMC Carswell

Federal Medical Center

P.O. Box 27137

Fort Worth, TX 76127

Address letters to Marius

The death and life of Hugo Pinell

October 16, 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 70s, 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.


A statement from 3 of the San Quentin 6 for Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell


Hugo Pinell was assassinated at new Folsom State Prison. this is another

example of the racism people of color inside those prisons are confronted

with on a daily basis. like Comrade George, Hugo has been in the cross

hairs of the system for years. His assassination exemplify how racist

working in conjunction with prison authorities commit murderous acts like

this. We saw it on the yard at Soledad in 1970 and we see it again on the

yard at Folsom in 2015.


His life was a living hell. We witness the brutality inflicted on him by

prison guards as they made every effort to break him,  he endured more

than fifty years of sensory deprivation, for decades  he was denied being

able to touch his family or another human being,  as well as attempts on

his life. This is cruel and unusual punishment! Hugo is not the monster

that is being portrayed in social media / news media. The CDC is the real



During the six trial we really got to know Hugo. He was as we all were

under a lot of stress. His stress was heavier than mines because he had

the additional load of being beaten on regular occasions. We saw the

strength of his of his spirit, and through it all he manage to smile.


We mourn the loss of our comrade brother, yogi. We have been hit with a

crushing blow that will take some time to recover from. We must expose

those who under the cover of law orchestrated and allowed this murderous

act to take place. The prisoners who did it acted as agents of the state.

It comes at a time when prisoners  are collectively trying to end decades

of internal strife.  Those who took his life  have done a disservice to

our movement, their actions served the cause of the same oppressor we

fought against!  No longer do you have to endure the hatred of people who

didn’t even know you and never dared to love you. You have represented

George & Che well, and we  salute you!




David General Giap Johnson

Luis Bato  Talamantez

Willie Sundiata  Tate

Some Reflections on Comrades, The Spirit of Resistance, Struggle and Death

October 16, 2015

by Jaan Laaman – 4sm editor

January 27, 2015

     2015 is almost a month old and my overall outlook has been optimistic and energized.  With a months long new movement in the streets, fighting against government repression and police killings of unarmed men, boys and women too, mostly of color, for me it has been a time of gathering information and supporting and contributing to this new movement.
     It is within this context, that I just received somber and hard information about two comrades of mine, two very good human beings, steadfast brothers and courageous fighters in the Freedom Struggle.  I am talking about two friends of mine, both long held political prisoners — Phil Africa and Bill Dunne.
     William Phillips Africa died on January 10, 2015, in the Pennsylvania state prison system, at SCI Dallas.
     Phil Africa was one of the Move 9, all of whom have been in captivity since August 8, 1978.  On that day, the Philadelphia police and other government forces launched an unprovoked assault on the Move home.  The Move 9 are completely innocent women and men who were thrown into prison for 30 to 100 year sentences.  They are all still in prison, except for Merle Africa who died in 1998, and now Phil.
     Phil Africa never stopped struggling for justice and freedom, not only for the Move Family and his co-defendants, but for poor and oppressed people of all colors, across this country  and around the world.  Phil was a good man, intelligent and brave, thoughtful and caring.  He could make you laugh and he was self disciplined and worked to stay in shape.  He was a father figure, as well as a boxing teacher and sports coach to many younger men.
     Phil’s death in the Pennsylvania state correctional institution at Dallas, came under very questionable and suspicious circumstances.  See a more detailed posting on Phil’s death at
     My political prisoner brother and friend, Phil Africa, died in that Pennsylvania prison cell in his 37th year of captivity.  Phil’s hardships and deprivations are now over.  Phil was never a man who bemoaned the harsh, inhumane and injust realities he and other prisoners were forced to endure.  Dying in prison is always a sad reality.  Phil’s hardships are now over and that is a good thing, even while we mourn his passing.  We should also question the circumstances surrounding his death and demand answers from Pennsylvania prison officials.
     Continuing in this journey of hard news and harsh realities, let me share some information on another friend and fellow political prisoner, Bill Dunne.  Bill is alive and I’m pretty sure in decent health.  Like other political prisoners, Bill stays fit, in fighting shape, because it doesn’t matter how old you are or how many decades you have been imprisoned, the government and its agents never cease in their efforts to defeat you, break you and stop you in your/our struggle for justice, freedom and a revolutionary future of peace, equality and protection of our planet.  So Bill, like all political prisoners, try’s to keep the Spirit of Resistance firm and his body and mind fit.
     Bill has been in captivity since 1979, that is for 36 years.  He has been held in maximum security penitentiaries and special lock-down control units for all these years.  In 2000, when he already had spent 21 years in prison, the United States parole board gave Bill a 15 year hit!  That is, he was ordered to spend 15 more years in prison.  Two months ago, Bill again appeared before the parole board and in a vicious act of inhumanity and hatred for the Freedom Struggle and Freedom Fighters, the U.S. parole board hit Bill with another 15 year set off!  He is not eligible to see the parole board again until 2029., for a more detailed report on Bill Dunne’s parole hearing.
     The ugly reality is that there are political prisoners, courageous and noble leaders like Sundiata Acoli and Leonard Peltier, who have been locked up even longer; Sundiata has been in captivity for 43 years, Leonard for 39 years, and there are others like them.
     The parole board’s primary questions, as well as its ‘justifications’ for ordering Bill to, quite likely, spend the rest of his life in prison, was his “continuing association and affiliation with anarchist organizations”, which was, “evidence you still harbor anti-authoritarian views…”
     The U.S. government, through its parole board, made very clear that Bill’s real offense, like the so called crimes of all U.S. held political prisoners, was his political beliefs and associations.  The activities Bill and other political prisoners may have taken in support of liberation and justice based political views is not the main “crime” in the eyes of the United States government.  The ultimate “crime” is Freedom and Justice based revolutionary thinking and beliefs.  Anarchist; socialist; communist, National Liberation for Puerto Rico, the Black Nation in the usa, the Native/Indigenous Nations; the Green ecological ideology of protecting our Earth and all its life against imperialist plunder, these are the “crimes” of political prisoners.
     I am certain Bill Dunne will challenge and litigate this unprecedented second 15 year hit.  I am also sure Bill will continue to work with the ABC collectives and other outside groups the parole board listed; the groups they so hated and feared.
     I wanted to express my complete solidarity and support for Bill in his harsh ongoing struggle for justice, life and freedom.  And I wanted to convey my heartfelt solidarity and revolutionary love to all the Move Family and Phil Africa’s closest people.  We will always remember and be inspired by Phil Africa.
     Sharing this information and reflecting on the types of realities that all political prisoners confront and have to deal with, I hope, gives you people outside, a little more understanding of revolutionary struggle and life behind prison walls.  I do have some  concern that perhaps some of you activists and people of conscience, may be overly intimidated by these realities of prison life.  Engaging in the Freedom Struggle always has the potential of confrontation with the state and its abusive police power.  This can include being thrown into prison.  People should be clear about this.  You should also be clear though, that even in extreme examples, like the heroic lives and struggle of Phil Africa and Bill Dunne, imprisoned Freedom Fighters can and do maintain their principles, their dignity and their will and ability to struggle.  The more that people and the media, including the non-corporate media, are aware of and supportative of political prisoners and prison struggle generally, the more protection this provides us.
In the Spirit of Phil Africa —
let us remember,
Freedom Is A Constant Struggle!
Jaan Laaman


# 10372-016

USP Tucson
P.O. Box 24550

Tucson, AZ 85734


Columns: ReVisioning a Paradigm – Toward a libratory conceptualization of the carceral State by Ward Churchill

October 16, 2015

ReVisioning a Paradigm


Toward a libratory conceptualization of the carceral State




The issue before us cannot be reduced to the entities formally designated as “prisons,” either in the broad terms of their very existence or, more narrowly, in terms of specific “excesses” and “biases” discernible in their functioning. The reasons are most prominently displayed in the U.S., which has long and literally imprisoned a substantially greater proportion of its population than any other country, and where quasipenal modes of incarceration ranging from jail time to house arrest are no less conspicuous. Here, all institutions have been harnessed to the task of imposing order through punishment and/or the ever-present and -mounting threat of it. To this end, a vast and continuously expanding proliferation of statutory/regulatory requirements and prohibitions has been established, together with an increasingly ubiquitous and sophisticated surveillance apparatus with which to detect noncompliance, and a no less comprehensive and burgeoning apparatus of enforcement.


In effect, whatever proportion of the U.S. population does not happen to find itself in one or another level of lock-up at any given moment essentially lives under conditions of perpetual probation—or, perhaps more accurately, of “conditionally suspended sentences”—always aware, albeit with degrees of acuteness mediated by such factors as age, sex, skin-tone, and income level, that even petty deviations from The Rules can result in consignment to the cages. Such perceptions are constantly reinforced via the principle orifices of official propaganda, a characterization encompassing, but by no means restricted to, both the “news media” and their symbiotic counterpart, the “entertainment industry” (a term by now easily extended to cover everything from literature, film, and TV programs, to comic books, video games, collegiate/professional sports, and substantial components of the so-called news media themselves).

Of at least equal importance in this connection are the schools, wherein special emphasis is placed on conditioning compulsory attendees from an early age to accept the proposition that unquestioning obedience to authority is, if not a cardinal virtue, then at least something demanded of them “for their own good.” Nuance and refinement, as well as amplification, continuously accrues from various quarters: organized athletics, extracurricular youth groups, military recruitment/training/service, the churches, police “community outreach” programs, social-civic-commercial organizations, and, not least, the seemingly endless host of “certified experts” inhabiting an array of think tanks and a multiplicity of hopelessly deformed/thoroughly-corporatized monstrosities now passed off, with all due cynicism, as “universities.”


As a whole, the U.S. doctrinal system functions in a virtually seamless manner, afflicting the populace from cradle to grave with total immersion instruction in the expectations of Those In Charge, the largely illusory benefits to be attained by meeting them, and the consequences of failing—or, far more seriously, of consciously refusing—to do so. While both positive and negative incentives are integral to the system’s “curriculum structure,” the latter are by nature the more decisive, given the grim immensity of the real world prison-industrial slave complex with which they are backdropped. Inverting Freire, a comprehensive pedagogy of oppression has thus been affected. Those subjected to it typically comport themselves in an approved manner throughout their lives, not because they’ve actually been convinced that doing so will enable them to live out some à la George Merrywell-type fantasy, or even that it might afford fulfillment in basic human terms, but because of the depth and extent to which they’ve been inculcated with an intractable fear of the alternatives.


The resulting panorama is that of tightly-controlled population marching resolutely and with almost regimental precision towards a destination it neither desires nor truly comprehends, all significant decisions regarding its route and objectives dictated and enforced by an arbitrary, rigid, highly-centralized, and largely unseen power. Plainly, core elements of the reality usually conceived as being definitive of the penal environment have bled into, now permeate, and thus define, that of the “free” society outside the walls in a manner epitomizing the carceral state so famously envisioned by Foucault in Discipline and Punish. That is the situation in which we find ourselves engulfed, and in which, no matter how unwillingly, each of us finds ourselves participating. It is designed and constructed so as to offer no exit to anyone within, or at least no one in any sense foundationally accepting of its terms. Correspondingly, it is by no means susceptible to reform, a process leading only to further evolution and perfection of the fundamental structure.


Any favorable transformation of our circumstance is thus contingent, not upon the relative effectiveness with which we engage in assorted tinkerings with the system—improving conditions in the prisons, providing meaningful instruction in the schools, and rewriting the tax code in a more equitable fashion, as examples—but, instead, upon its complete dismantlement. Rephrased, liberation can be achieved only by abolishing the statist structure of oppression, which is to say through abolition of the state itself. The process must of course begin with acts of refusal, undertaken both individually and by various collectivities, but it cannot end there. Resistance alone is grossly insufficient to accomplish the desired result, which is, after all, eradication rather than alteration of the opposing entity. In stark contrast to the thought of Fanon, Malcolm X, George Jackson, and Assata Shakur, there is nothing of utility on this score to be gleaned from the accommodationist drivel offered by the likes of Marc Cooper or Medea Benjamin.


That said, far more is required of those who would seriously aspire to eliminating the mechanisms of statist oppression than possessing or acquiring what Eldridge Cleaver once and aptly described as “the courage to kill” the oppressor, although it too is imperative. Success in such an endeavour ultimately depends upon the extent to which we equip ourselves to truly know our enemy—that is, to apprehend its full dimension and inner nature—thereby gaining the ability to see clearly both the enemy and what we must do to destroy it. Absent such clarity, it is all but inevitable that we’ll either to show up with knives at a gunfight, as the old saying goes, or expend ourselves slashing at tentacles rather than delivering a killing thrust to the heart of the beast (indeed, we’d be unlikely to know where its heart might be located). A better recipe for failure is difficult to imagine.


Fortunately, much good work has already been done by Foucault and others in laying bare the psychoanatomical form and dynamics of the carceral state with which we are confronted. Within the analytical/conceptual paradigm they have established are many of the tools necessary to understanding with considerable exactitude what it is that must be destroyed if viable alternatives are to be realized. The paradigm is not without its shortcomings, however. Saliently, it is utterly anthropocentric in orientation, concerning itself exclusively with mentalities and material factors shaping the socioeconomic and political relations between humans. One suspects that something much deeper might be involved, a sort of bedrock without which the state, especially in the form depicted by Foucault, could never have found an initial footing, much less acquired its currently predominating station in human affairs. The very prospect that this is so would seem on its face to be important, a matter entirely worthy of “excavation” (to employ Foucault’s own term).


Suffice it here to say that this goes to the manner in which humans of certain traditions, confluent in the so-called advanced societies comprising “world civilization,” view themselves in relation not only to other humans/human societies, but to other species of being, both sentient and presumably not, to say nothing of the planet we mutually inhabit. This is to say that the subliminal matrix prefiguring emergence and consolidation of the carceral state is readily discernible in the sense of entitlement manifested by virtually all members of such societies, irrespective of the degree of oppression they might personally suffer within them, to impose themselves upon the nonhuman balance of the natural world. The sheer banality embodied in protests that those consigned to prison cages are thereby “treated like animals” in some respects says it all, while nonetheless providing only the barest glimpse of the cognitive substrata it reflects.


Here, it must be admitted that we are presently faced in large part with the psychointellectual equivalent of terra incognita. There remains a veritable continent of consciousness—or its absence—to be explored, unpacked, its implications charted, and the resultant understandings assimilated by all who pursue liberation. Bluntly put, the libratory paradigm itself must be substantially reworked and expanded. The task is undeniably daunting. Yet it must be undertaken lest, in failing to unravel the codes of value and priority antecedent to contemporary carceral mentality and in which it secures its predication, we retain them in ourselves even while abolishing the state in its present form. Should that be the scenario defining our “success,” the inadequacy of the means by which we measured the term would in itself predetermine that we eventually replicated that which we opposed.
Accordingly, it is again fortunate that the hard work necessary to complete—or transcend—what may be called the Foucauldian paradigm is underway. Actually, as is evidenced by the enduring struggles of the world’s indigenous peoples not to be pushed into oblivion, it has been going on all along. Their understandings of the relationship between humans and nonhumans have, after all, always been profoundly different from those emblematic of the cultures and societies caught up in the modernist trajectory, a matter allowing them to sustain modes of social, political, and economic organization antithetical to those of the carceral state. From them, there is clearly much to be learned. That some of it is in fact being learned, is demonstrated by the concepts guiding the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the green anarchists, among others. Infusing our own and other libratory movements with comparable insights can only serve to strengthen the whole which we must ultimately become.

Columns: Jericho, Summer 2016 updates

October 16, 2015

Greetings comrades and friends,

Thank you for asking me to share a few words on sustaining support for long-term political prisoners.

I am sorry I can’t be there as I enjoy meeting new comrades. But I was just in LA last weekend to visit my son‘s family and to see Mutulu Shakur, who would ask me to send you his greetings and solidarity. This is my way of double dipping family & comrades to stay in touch with our PP’s short or long term.

I have been part of the Jericho Movement since its inception and many of our PP’s were my comrades on the streets before they acted in the Black Liberation Movement, The Anti-imperialist Left and Puerto Rican Liberation Struggle. And many other PP’s I have met since their incarceration.

So for me there is no question, that I will work for their freedom and or the least oppressive circumstances for those like Tom Manning, Maumin Khabir and Kojo Bomani who are doing life without parole, until I am dead and I would hope you would do the same for any and all of yours and mine= All political prisoners.

That means that we organize local, national and International educational and political support networks. You, comrades and friends, have Letter writing nights, not just for birthdays and holidays but also to develop long term relationships with PP’s that last so that you know when she, he or them is in distress physically, emotional or spiritually and can reach out and help them survive.

ABC & Jericho have put together a medical team and I would hope that some of you would be willing to join us as many PP’s have medical problems: high blood pressure, diabetes, COPD, and issues regarding transgendering inside.

So pick a political prisoner, write a letter, send some coins and enjoy some wonderful political letters and visits, that will enrich your life and their’s.

Thank you so much, anyone need a place to crash in DC ask Jenny or Petey to put you in touch with me.

Comradely Respect Paulette DC Jericho & National Jericho Advisory Board


Dear Sisters and Brothers,




The National Jericho Movement sends its support, love, respect, and encouragements for the 20th Annual Bay Area Book Fair and for all the work that you have been doing over the years, and for the years to come.


Having joined the Black Panther Party at the age of 16 in 1970, and having served 23 years as a political prisoner for Black Liberation Army cases, it is my life commitment to struggle for the freedom of all comrades who have travelled a similar path in confronting the oppressor and striving to fight for and build a new and just society. After decades of institutional, media and counter intelligence styled efforts to de-politicize the people and make our history of liberation struggles irrelevant, the struggle to awaken the people

and maintain an active struggle to free all political prisoners is sine qua non (essential) to any and all enduring successes.


My humble and sincere advice to those actively involved in the noble endeavor to free all political prisoners is to master your position; be able to articulate our history, contemporary conditions, and future ideas and strategies. Being able to articulate our freedom campaigns, and connect the dots between the history of liberation struggles and contemporary actions is vitally important to educate and organize young and future

leaders and revolutionaries. Representing the warriors of the past fortifies us to represent the warriors of the present.


Free all Political Prisoners!
Jihad Abdulmumit

In Defense Of: Jean Stevens interviews Lynne Stewart

October 16, 2015

The “people’s lawyer” on her most controversial criminal defense cases—including the one that sent her to prison.


4 sm Lynne-Stewart_500


During America’s civil rights and women’s liberation movements of the 1960s and ’70s, hundreds of activists who challenged state repression and surveillance faced arrests and criminal convictions. Many such activists sought legal defense from “movement lawyers,” those who understood and sympathized with their social justice aims.


By the late 1970s, Lynne Stewart emerged as one of the movement’s leading defense attorneys, fiercely representing members of the political left—most notably, leaders of the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground. And in 1993, Stewart represented defendant Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, an Egyptian Muslim cleric, in one of the nation’s first terrorism cases. That role ultimately resulted in her own conviction, disbarment, and incarceration, which lasted from 2009 to 2013.


Stewart, now seventy-five, was born to a white working-class family in Brooklyn and grew up in Queens. She began on a path of challenging the status quo while working in the ’60s as a school librarian in Harlem, where she discovered a movement for greater access to education led by parents, teachers, and organizers in the neighborhood. There, she also met her future husband, Ralph Poynter, who became her lifelong champion.


In the ’70s, Stewart discovered her true calling—law. After studying at Rutgers School of Law, she advertised her services as a legal advocate, and, she says, “took anything that came across my doorstep.” However, she felt most compelled by defense work, especially the defense of those facing incarceration for struggling against “institutions which perpetuate capitalism, racism, and sexism,” as she told the New York Times in 1995. A self-described “people’s lawyer,” she not only took on the cases of high-profile clients facing political prosecution, but also low-income clients without access to a proper defense, as well as unpopular, controversial defendants, like Sammy Gravano of the Gambino crime family. Regardless of how provocative the case, as Stewart contended in a recent interview with Chris Hedges, progressive attorneys should “fight like hell” to defend their clients against increasingly powerful state repression.


In the aftermath of September 11th, about ten years after she represented Abdel Rahman, former US attorney general John Ashcroft charged Stewart with aiding terrorism. The case hinged on her relaying documents on her client’s behalf, allegedly conveying messages from him to his supporters. The American Criminal Law Review wrote that Stewart’s guiding principle was to defend those whose actions could be considered anti-imperialist: “While these views were considered radical when she expressed them in the ’90s, as seen through the lens of 9/11, they were judged by many as bordering on the seditious.” While preparing for court in her home one evening in 2002, she was arrested. Two years later, she was arraigned, convicted, and sentenced to twenty-eight months in prison. During these proceedings, Stewart was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer and spent three years out on bail for medical treatment. Despite her ill health, in 2009, prosecutors appealed her sentence. She was re-sentenced to ten years in federal prison.


Mumia Abu-Jamal, The National Lawyers Guild, and other activists and social justice organizations considered Stewart a political prisoner. Her most avid supporters—led by her husband, Poynter—organized a campaign calling for Stewart’s compassionate release and assembled a zealous legal defense team. They sought review from the Supreme Court and, in 2013, argued in federal district court that her sentence be reduced and concluded given her previous time served. Several months later, on New Year’s Eve, Stewart was released on the grounds that her terminal condition and short life expectancy warranted a shorter sentence. Newly free, she alighted at LaGuardia Airport, where an enormous crowd of family, friends, and journalists greeted her. When asked what she felt in that moment by Democracy Now host Amy Goodman, Stewart replied, “Beyond joy.”


I spoke with Stewart and her husband—who occasionally added context and color to our interview—over coffee at their home in Brooklyn, where she is currently resting, seeking treatment for her ongoing illness, and sharing her lessons and life experiences with the next generation of people’s lawyers.


—Jean Stevens for Guernica


Guernica: How did your upbringing lead you to a life of activism?


Lynne Stewart: It’s very simple. I grew up in white, working-class Bellerose, Queens. There were no black people to be seen—Bellerose is still pretty white. I went to an all-white school, had all-white friends, all-white everything. Through chances of fate, a marriage that went on the rocks, a baby, in 1962, I found myself in [Harlem].


I got a job as a children’s librarian at PS 175 in Harlem, and that changed everything. That was an epiphany. I didn’t know Harlem existed. I didn’t know there was such a place, because I grew up in white Queens, where five miles is 100 miles. So I went to the school and, being a smart cookie—as they called us in those days—I had a million questions. How did this place exist? How come I didn’t know about it? Why are people living like this? Do they want to live like this? To show you how singular I was, I said to the principal, “Well, I was a Spanish minor in college, so that might be useful to me.” He looked at me and said, “We don’t have anyone who speaks Spanish at this school. This is an all-Negro school.”


Why wasn’t I told about this? How could I have been the valedictorian, the smartest, and never known Harlem existed? As a result, I began a lifelong learning experience, because I could not accept what the party line was with education—that these people want to live like this, these people don’t have ambition, they don’t want to work. You know, all the usual bullshit. I met Ralph there probably within the first month. We were both there in September of ’62.


Guernica: How did you meet?


Ralph Poynter: I was teaching at another school at 8th Avenue and 141st Street and they asked me to go to a troubled school if I didn’t mind.


Lynne Stewart: That was, and still is, a typical Board of Education ploy—put the strong, masculine figure in a school with tough kids and you have a certain control. It’s very demeaning to the kids and very demeaning to the tough, black guy, but that’s how they worked it. So he came to PS 175, and the principal decided to interview him in the library. And the rest is history! [laughs]


Guernica: You worked at the school through the ’60s, through Vietnam and the civil rights movement. What were those years like, and how were you involved in activism there?


Lynne Stewart: I stayed at PS 175 through an early and very telling political action around community control of schools, which was to become my main focus for the rest of the ’60s—along with the Vietnam War and other things. It was to reclaim schools for the community, and to have the community have a first say in the schools. Of course, the leadership of that was Ralph. He went out, he was in the streets, Ralph was organizing in Harlem—the people, the parents. You name it, he was out there. I was not exactly the girl in the office, but I was still learning. It was a very, very highly fraught battle. It ended up that we did not win, and I ended up teaching on the Lower East Side, close to where we were living. Then I ended up organizing on the Lower East Side till the spring of ’71.


Guernica: After nearly ten years of library work and organizing around education, you shifted your focus to law. What led you to that transition?


Lynne Stewart: I was teaching at a very large public elementary school in the Lower East Side and we had our usual monthly teacher/principal conference. The principal got up and made a ten-minute speech about how the school was improving so much, that the kids were all reading, how we were doing such a great job. When he finished, I got up and said, “That sounds very good on paper, but I’m the librarian. I see every kid in this school. My observation is they still can’t read. They’re in sixth grade, and they’re still reading Hop on Pop and One Fish Two Fish because it’s easy and they can do it. But nobody’s reading Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer.” So there was a moment of silence, and then the meeting went on as if I had never spoken. But that’s because I was known. I was a radical. I had opened up the schools during the Shanker strike [by New York City’s United Federation of Teachers in 1968]. I was speaking out for kids in the community. But that day, for some reason, just grabbed me.


Ralph had, by that point, been to jail and lost his teaching license. He had opened a small motorcycle shop right around the corner from the school. I left the school that day and went over to his shop. I was expecting a baby. I said to him, “I am going to end up like one of those shopping bag ladies on the subway because [the administration is] going to make me crazy.” It’s one thing to be in the opposition, it’s another thing to be ignored. He said to me, “What’d you want to do?” And I said, “You know, I always wanted to go to law school.” So he looks at me and he does not say, “Well, if you could teach another year we’d be in a much better position,” or, “Could you go part time?” He said, “I guess you’d better go.” So when people say, “What do you look for in a partner?” I say, “That’s what you look for.” So I went to law school, I had the baby, and he continued working in the shop.


You’re working not for the corporate interest, not for the government interest, not for your own self-interest. You have a higher calling.


Guernica: Legal education at that time was fairly regimented and traditional, yet you developed a sense of law as a tool for social justice and radical change. Was it something about Rutgers that inspired your thinking on legal work?


Lynne Stewart: I went to Rutgers because they gave me a free ride, because that year they were very progressive and very anxious to have a freshman class with over 50 percent women. All of that [tuition] money was a fortune in those days.


Ralph Poynter: After the first day of orientation, she came back directly to the shop, took the first bus across town, and she said, “I met the most wonderful man who lectured us on the law. His tie was down to his knees, but when he opened his mouth, the sky opened up.” It was [civil rights attorney] Arthur Kinoy. From that moment on, Lynne wanted to be Arthur Kinoy.


Lynne Stewart: To a certain extent, in law school, I always had an attitude. I had been in the movement for ten years, I had kids, I had worked with Ralph. I was there to get through, to take the bar, and to get to work. But along the way, I met some remarkable professors, one of them being Arthur Kinoy, whom I remained in touch with until he died. I always said, no award is greater than when Arthur said, “We have to defend Lynne. She is a people’s lawyer.” To him, that was the goal, to be a people’s lawyer.


Guernica: What does being a people’s lawyer mean to you?


Lynne Stewart: It means that you’re working not for the corporate interest, not for the government interest, not for your own self-interest. You have a higher calling. Your goal is to make a better world through the work you do. It’s not always possible, and you have to earn a living. We certainly had to earn a living; we had all these wonderful children. But, basically, you’re not looking to join the country club.


Ralph Poynter: [laughs] I couldn’t even pick up golf balls at the country club!


Guernica: Your interpretation of being a people’s lawyer seems to center on criminal defense work, for which you developed an enormous reputation. How did you begin?


Lynne Stewart: My anti-authoritarian instincts led me directly to criminal defense work. I worked for a couple years for one of Ralph’s customers, whom he met through the Hells Angels. It was private work. I was originally advised that I should work as a prosecutor because they say, “If you make a mistake as a prosecutor, your mistakes go home, whereas if you make a mistake defending, they go to jail.” It never worked out, anyway. I was told by Frank Hogan, who was a legend of prosecutors then, “We don’t hire women.” He just said it right out. Well, what am I doing here then?


I went from there and hung out my shingle [as a legal advocate]. I’ve been asked by young people, “How do you become a lawyer?” You make yourself available to the movement. At that point, for example, battered wives were not on the top of anybody’s list. It was, “What did you do to provoke him? Why would he do that to you?” Stuff like that. I called the hotline, and I said I was available to help get orders of protection. I would help do whatever needed to be done, serve their papers. Many times, they’d go to court, get their papers, and then be afraid to serve them on the guy. So that was one source of income. But I took anything that came across my doorstep. I started getting a reputation.


Guernica: Your first major political case was representing the May 19th Communist Organization. What was the genesis of that?


Lynne Stewart: It was probably one of the most white radical groups out there, mainly radical women. They were organizing around the Springboks rugby team that came over [to New York City] from South Africa to play [in 1981]. They organized a demonstration outside Kennedy Airport, and after the demonstration, things got rowdy and ended with some acid being thrown. The Port Authority claimed the acid was thrown in the eyes of one of their cops. Seven or eight people were arrested, and I had let them know that I was available if they needed lawyers. They called me, and I went to represent one of the people who actually threw the acid, Donna Borup, who’s still wanted.


Guernica: How did you feel about taking such a high-profile case and representing these clients?


Lynne Stewart: I was just afraid I’d get passed by! It seemed like it was an industry for [a few] movement lawyers, and they were not anxious to let anybody else in. But I was friends with some people who were very close to [the May 19 Communist Organization] and I knew they needed lawyers. And see, I was non-organizational. I was not a member of May 19th, or a socialist party, or any of these organizations. I was not one of their house lawyers.


We’ve never been card-carrying communists. We have a Marxist view, but it’s not doctrinaire. We’re not waiting for the working class to rise up, we’re not waiting for the unions. That’s gone, that passed, that didn’t happen back in the ’30s, and it’s not going to happen now. But we still ally ourselves with organizations that strongly believe it will happen.


Guernica: Your reputation was cemented when you represented David J. Gilbert of the Weather Underground in 1983 for his role in the Brinks robbery and subsequent shootings. At the time, the Weather Underground was increasingly under surveillance, and public support for their work had dwindled. Gilbert had been spotted shooting at the scene. What was your approach to that case?


Lynne Stewart: A group [involved with the Weather Underground] came to see me and said, “We need a lawyer for David Gilbert, and we’d like to know, how would you represent him?” Well, he was caught at the scene with money, with everything right there. And I said, “Well, there was a guy who represented himself at a trial and he said in his defense that ‘history will absolve me.’ I guess we’d start it from there.” They said, “You’re the one! That’s it!” But I’m no fool: caught at the scene, dead cops, Weather Underground background—everything was working against him. There was not much hope for the case. But I’m committed, and I’m particularly committed to the political people who needed defense. I understand that they’re fighting a bigger war than just, “Let me go get some money for cocaine tonight.” They’re out there fighting the government on behalf of everybody.


But of course, the judge had promised that everyone would be paid from government funds. The three lawyers who had been on the case from day one were paid. They were all male; they were all white. My two co-counsel [a woman and African-American man] and I had a six-month trial, but we were paid no money. I said to him, “I just want you to know, they’re turning off the phone in my office tomorrow. I have a son in college, and we get phone calls every day because we haven’t paid tuition yet.” And at this point, he turns around and says to another guy, “She has children?” So we never got paid. I’m happy to say I became an enemy of [that judge] for the rest of my life.


Guernica: Have you ever turned down a case?


Lynne Stewart: I would never take a case that had to do with abusing children. They’re the true innocents. All of the rest of us, we have smears and stains, but they’re helpless. I couldn’t add my talent, which is prodigious, to a defense of someone even accused of hurting a child. I would never defend a cop—though I did on a few private cases, when cops were acting not as cops but as private citizens. Other than that, I represented everybody who came by. It made me somewhat of a pariah, with some people like the National Lawyers Guild, which didn’t think we should be representing drug dealers and cases like that. They thought that we were representing people who didn’t deserve high-class representation.


He was arrogant, he was brilliant, he went by his own rules. It was difficult for him to have a woman lawyer.


Guernica: So others within the legal left did not always support you?


Lynne Stewart: I’ve always been knee-deep in trouble, I guess, but the only incident I really remember was when I was given a subpoena by the special narcotics prosecutor to come in—this was in the late ’80s—and tell him who had brought money to me in a certain drug case. I said, “I can’t testify to that, it’s privileged.” I raised all the issues. In the end, I was ordered to speak. I went before the grand jury and refused. The judge held me in contempt and actually indicted me. It was then that both the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Guild said they couldn’t help me because it involved drugs. I must say, I had contempt for them. Come on, we’re in this because we’re lawyers and we believe [that people have a right to] a certain level of representation. And what is this? Now I am going to get tarred? My son Geoffrey wrote a motion to release me, and he won.


Guernica: You represented Egyptian cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman against charges of conspiring to commit terrorism, for which he was convicted in 1995, a case that resulted in your arrest and eventual incarceration. How did you become involved in his case?


Lynne Stewart: I got a visit from [a colleague of former US attorney general] Ramsey Clark to see if I’d be interested in doing the sheik’s case. After a certain number of years, doing the same kind of cases, I had a sense that Muslims were the new target of the government and [the state] was going to really come down on them. Ramsey was very anxious to get a high-level, high-quality movement lawyer because this man probably had more prestige than any Middle Eastern person who’s ever been on trial in this country. He was a doctor from Al-Azhar University. He was highly respected all over the Middle East. There was a sense, a true sense, in my opinion, that he was being railroaded. So when Ramsey Clark asked me to go down and interview the sheik, I did, of course. To many people’s amazement, we hit it off very well, and he indicated to Ramsey that he wanted me to represent him.


I had a couple of problems. Here was a mountain of material I hadn’t even seen or contemplated, it was not my usual milieu of the American left, or even the mob, for whom I’d done some cases. I was your typical living-room liberal. He, of course, was a very different kettle of fish. He was arrogant, he was brilliant, he went by his own rules. It was difficult for him to have a woman lawyer.


Ralph Poynter: He wanted to get my permission to allow Lynne to do the case. So he got on the phone with the interpreter and called me. He said, “This is an important case. Your wife could have problems doing it.” I said, “My dear sheik, I am guilty of the most serious crimes you can be guilty of in America: I was born poor and black, and you are just small potatoes.” I could hear all the translation, I could hear a roar of laughter, and he got on the phone and said, “Small potatoes!” And that was the joke from then on. He’d introduce himself as “small potatoes.”


Lynne Stewart: During the course of the trial, my daughter got chicken pox on her honeymoon. I told the sheik, and he said, “You’re the mother, you should be home with her.” I said, “I should be home with her? Sheik, who’s going to try your case?” He laughed. He got it right away. We were very, very close. He said things that still tear my heart at this point. We were, of course, completely cut off as part of my ongoing punishment. You know that question: What do you do when you think the client’s guilty? The real question is: What you do when you think a client’s innocent?


I really believe he was innocent. And “innocent” is a word I don’t use. They manufactured a case against him because it was in the interest of the United States government, and the Egyptian government, and they came at him from both sides. They both worked on this to make sure he went to jail and he was off the scene in Egypt, because Egypt was, and is, the tinderbox of the Middle East. Our most important ally.


Guernica: Many lawyers, organizers, and activists within the movement face severe burnout. Given the pressure around your cases, how did you work against fatigue?


Lynne Stewart: I always had a variety of cases, so while I was representing [Larry Davis, acquitted of shooting six police officers] in the Bronx, with the entire press corps of New York showing up, I also was representing Jose Diaz, who lived down the block from me. The variety was good.


Ralph Poynter: You always said you took your job seriously, and I thought you always took it too seriously. She took on responsibility, and it just never left her.


Lynne Stewart: I loved the work. I missed it for years after I was arrested. I couldn’t drive past 100 Centre [New York City Criminal Court], that whole area, without crying, seeing people going to court and knowing I couldn’t do that anymore. I still do miss it. I don’t think I could ever go back. Maybe I could consider second-seating my son or someone else whose work I respect. But I could not take on any responsibility. I’m out of step; I haven’t kept up.


The prosecution makes all the important decisions: what’s charged, how much is charged, whether you can get a decent offer. Every defendant becomes an informant today.


Guernica: How do you think the role of movement lawyers has changed since you tried your biggest cases?


Lynne Stewart: Today, it’s not the same playing field as when I first became a lawyer in 1977, where the government had been restricted by our wonderful [Supreme Court Justice] Earl Warren’s court rulings. Now it’s all going the other way, the flow is against the defendant, against anything that could really help a client. But you still fight it, you do what you can do. It’s all there is.


Lawyering is very individualistic. There are lawyers who are going to be that persistent birddog, they’re never going to give up on the client, they’re going to defend people. A good recent example is Ben Rosenfeld, who defended the “eco-terrorist” [Eric McDavid] who just [was released]. Ben is of the old school. He is a fighter, and he’s young. There are lawyers who believe in client-centered representation and who are dedicated on that level, the same level I feel I was dedicated.


My son does criminal defense work. I get the war stories from him, and I see it is harder than it was [for my generation], much harder. The law has basically restricted the playing field so that the prosecution makes all the important decisions: what’s charged, how much is charged, whether you can get a decent offer. Every [defendant] becomes an informant today.


I feel for young people today. When I came out of law school, yes, we were broke, we had these kids, we had problems. But it was straightforward. I didn’t have to say, “My God, I am $80,000 in debt, I have to get a job, I have to pay it back, my life is ruined otherwise.” We were able to go forward and work toward building something new, and that’s what we did. Today many lawyers are unable to feel free to be advocates.


There’s a lot of active radical thought today but not much action.


Guernica: What advice do you have for movement lawyers and organizers today?


Lynne Stewart: First of all, think creatively. Think, “How can we deal with this particular case in a way we haven’t dealt with similar ones in the past?” Second, don’t be afraid of the people who are willing to defend your client. I find too many lawyers say, “Keep that defense committee away from me!” If it weren’t for my defense committee, I’d be sitting in [federal prison in] Texas today. And the press! You’ve got to learn to handle the press because god knows the government does all the time.


The night they announced the verdict in Ferguson, there should’ve been some spokesperson that was not Al Sharpton to have responded to that, to raise the movement or progressive position, and to raise the question that the use of the grand jury by a prosecutor is hardly something that is legally sacrosanct, and we should question it. On a certain level, we don’t try enough cases. We should try more cases before juries and let jurors decide. On grand juries, my position is the grand jury should be eliminated, but there are creative ways a lawyer can use a grand jury if they have a client with a sympathetic cause who has been wronged by the police.


Guernica: Reflecting back on your organizing work in the ’60s around community-based education, do you think there’s a role for social justice lawyers and advocates in other movements besides criminal defense?


Lynne Stewart: I’d say there’s a role in all. [Ralph and I] were discussing not long ago that in the ’60s, everybody had their own niche. We had people who did housing, people who did anti-war, people who did schools. Everyone operated in their own niche, but not separately. We all were together on certain issues when it was important. Everybody was active in the ’60s. I feel that there’s a lot of active radical thought today but not much action.


Guernica: Why do you think so?


Ralph Poynter: I think people are afraid. I remember when we’d have discussions in the ’60s among people who were active. We’d say, “Well, people are afraid,” and the answer to us was, “If you’re afraid, you know you should be doing something.” People are afraid today, but they’re not doing anything.
Lynne Stewart: I spoke in front of a huge gathering in Seattle, and someone got up and said, “I’m just so afraid.” I said, “The only way not to be afraid is to join with other people who are also afraid.” There’s a great poem, [“The Low Road”], by Marge Piercy that says, “Alone, you can fight…but two people fighting can…cut through a mob.” The only thing we have is each other.

Future focus

October 16, 2015



Editor’s note: Brother Jalil Muntaqim is a legendary and heroic militant and leader of the New African/Black Liberation and political prisoners movements in the usa.  He has been in captivity for 44 years and throughout all these decades, he has never stopped working for freedom, justice and a new day of liberation in this country.

4sm believes this “Future Focus” proposal is an important document that everyone should give some thought to and then, share your ideas publicly.  4sm will help facilitate dialog on Brother Jalil’s proposal — send us your feedback and it will be published in issue 26, which will be out in December, 2015.  We will also post your responses on 4sm online, on our monthly update section, prior to the December release of issue 26.


In seven years, by 2023, the U.S. will be 40 percent minority, and 50 percent of the entire population will be under 40 years old. These are the demographics that cannot be ignored as progressives move forward building opposition to institutional racism and plutocratic governing.


In my thinking, it is incumbent on today’s activists to take into account what America will look like in ten years, so we will be better positioned to ensure the future will not be governed by deniers of change. In this regard, I am raising dialogue toward building a National Coalition for a Changed America (NCCA) comprised of social, economic and political activists who are prepared to build a future-focused America based on equitable distribution of wealth. It is important that progressives seek the means to organize greater unity and uniformity in ideological and political objectives toward the construction of a mass and popular movement. It is well established that the most pressing issues confronting the poor and oppressed peoples are wage inequities, housing displacement, dysfunctional public schools and student debt, climate change, the criminalization of the poor, mass incarceration, and the militarization of the police. In each are negative racial and economic implications creating social conflicts and confrontations.


However, the most pervasive and devastating cause for all of these issues is the unequal distribution of wealth. It is well researched and recorded that the wealth disparity, income gap between whites and blacks is 40% greater today than in 1967, with the average black household’s net worth at $6,314 and the average white household’s at $110,500 (New York Times, “When Whites Just Don’t Get It,” by Nicholas Kistof). When we account for how such economic disparity impacts educational opportunities or criminal behavior in the black community, we are better able to identify the overall pernicious problem. The Brookings Institute reported last July that: “As poverty increased and spread during the 2000s, the number of distressed neighborhoods in the United States—defined as census tracts with poverty rates of 40% or more—climbed by nearly three-quarters.” The report continued: “The population living in such neighborhoods grew by similar margins (76%, or 5 million people) to reach 11.6 million by 2008-2012.” (New York Times, “Crime and Punishment,” by Charles M. Blow).


Obviously, America is in increasing economic crisis, especially when considering … “According to a recent paper by the economists Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics, almost all of the increase in American inequality over the last 30 years is attributable to the “rise of the share of wealth owned by the 0.1% richest families.” And much of that rise is driven by the top 0.01%. “The wealth of the top 1% grew an average of 3.9% a year from 1986 to 2012, though the top one-hundredth of that 1% saw its wealth grow about twice as fast. The 16,000 families in the tiptop category—those with fortunes of at least $111 million—have seen their share of national wealth nearly double since 2002, to 11.2%.” (New York Times, “Another Widening Gap: The Haves vs. the Have-Mores,” by Robert Frank).


Can there be any serious disputing the reality that this so-called democracy is actually a plutocracy, and the governing plutocrats have us all hustling and scraping for the crumbs, demanding a minimum wage increase, when we should be demanding control of production? Hence, it is necessary for progressives to realize the future of our struggle must be based on participatory democracy, direct-action engagement. It is important for the more educated and experienced activists to teach the younger activists, and young people in general need to know the future belongs to them, and we are concerned about what that future will look like and how to make it productive. It is essential we figure ways to bridge differences between the evolving demographics and growing minority population.


For instance, I am heartened to see young people taking to the streets challenging the common impunity of police repression and violence. Indeed, Black Lives Matter! However, I am not confident these protests will result in anything substantial in terms of institutional changes or building a sustainable movement. We remember Occupy Wall Street (OWS) had created similar national attention, but void a national organization, leadership or agenda (demands), it was a matter of time before OWS would dissipate and disappear after police removed the public nuisances.


In this regard, I am asking activists to post on their Facebook pages and other online sites these musings, for open discussion and dialogue. Specifically, I suggest that young people across the country enter open debate about the future of specific issues that have captured national attention. Obviously, it is necessary to build a mass and popular movement to effectuate real institutional change in this country. This was a vital lesson from the civil rights movement challenging the institution of Jim Crow. Therefore, I am urging young activists to consider organizing toward a “Million Youth Independence Day March” (MY-ID March) for July 4, 2016, in Washington, D.C., making the following demands:


  1. De-Militarization and De-Centralization of the Police, Demand Community Control of Police;


  1. Debt Relief for College Students, Lower Tuition Cost for College Education;


  1. Support the Manifestation of the Dreamers Act—Stop Deportations and the Splitting of Families.


These three issues, as they become part of the national dialogue and challenge to the plutocratic government, are able to unite a universal national determination. A one-issue protest/campaign is not sustainable when confronting an oppressive/repressive government policy supported by right-wing corporate interests. However, these interwoven issues reach three demographics of young people, each directly challenging institutions of government. Again, it is important to use the current unrest to forge a unified and uniform national youth movement.


Secondly, politically, we need to consider how best to ensure these issues become a major factor in the national debate, possibly imposing them into the national election of 2016. In this way, inspiring and encouraging a mass and popular youth movement organized during the election year of 2016, we empower the youth to be future focused. It is well established that it was the youth who were instrumental in getting Obama elected as President. Despite our collective disappointment with his presidency, the lesson learned is the power of the youth when united and determined to accomplish a task. Again, recognizing that in 7 years the electoral demographics will be drastically changed, it is time to prepare for that eventuality, even if some do not believe in the electoral process. Therefore, during the election year of 2016, not a single candidate will be permitted to conduct a public forum without being challenged by these issues. These would be acts of participatory democracy and direct-action engagement. Obviously, to hold a national rally and march in Washington, D.C. during the July 4, 2016 weekend tells the entire country that young people will divorce themselves from the status quo, becoming independent of the Republican/Democratic party politics.


In closing, it is anticipated this proposal will raise questions concerning the potential for the development of a National Coalition for a Changed America (NCCA). Permit me to say that this proposed organization is only a suggestion. I firmly believe that building a national coalition is necessary to establish a mass and popular movement capable of forcing institutional changes, including the ultimate goal of redistribution of America’s wealth. I request this paper be widely distributed and discussed. I am prepared to enter discussion with anyone interested in the potential development of a National Coalition for a Changed America. Lastly, I humbly request activists to review what I wrote in “Toward a New American Revolution.”


“Our First Line of Defense IS Power to the People!”


Remember: We Are Our Own Liberators!


In fierce struggle,

Jalil A. Muntaqim

Aboriginal communities under attack by the Australian government

October 16, 2015

Aboriginal communities under attack by the Australian government: background information from the editor

This summer 4sm received information from friends in Australia  about a racist Australian government attack against hundreds of Aboriginal communities.  Early this year several Australian states, particularly the state of Western Australia, decreed that hundreds of Aboriginal towns and communities would soon be faced with “closure”.  This government “closure plan” mandated that all water and electricity services would be totally cut off.  Additionally, all schools and health care facilities would be shut down.  This plan is only directed against Aboriginal communities, especially remote ones located more that 100 kilometres from majority white cities.  Closures of many towns have already taken place and more are imminent.


Aboriginal people and communities, as well as Australians of all backgrounds, have come out in the thousands, in large demonstrations in April, May and June against these outrageous closures.  More opposition and resistance is planned and international solidarity is welcomed.”


Australia — 2015 — The Struggle Continues


In mid-May, I put out a commentary stating, “Stop the forced closures of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and all across Australia.”  This is Jaan Laaman, your political prisoner voice, coming to you from the federal prison in Tucson, Arizona.


Let me share some new information from Human Rights and social justice activists and from Indigenous leaders in Australia, about the ongoing government attacks against Aboriginal communities.


Early this year the Australian government, especially the State of Western Australia and its Premier Colin Barnett, began shutting down all services, that is: water, electricity, schools and health care facilities in Aboriginal towns and communities located more than 100 kilometers from large urban areas.  This policy is only directed at Indigenous communities.  No white towns or stations are being shut down.


It has been widely speculated that by driving out the Indigenous people from these remote towns, this will open up these lands for mineral exploitation.  Colin Barnett and his Western Australian government have close ties to huge mining corporations.


Whatever the full reason might be, the reality is that Aboriginal people and their communities are once again under direct attack by government policies and forces.


Aboriginal people and communities are resisting this latest colonial attack on their lands and lives.  In fact, Australians of all backgrounds have come forward to rally and demonstrate against these outrageous policies.  Tens of thousands of people have rallied in cities all across Australia.  In late May and on June 1st, there were also a small number of solidarity rallies in Europe and Asia.


Aboriginal leaders and Australian activists are mobilizing for an upcoming weekend of protests and are asking people around the world to support them.  This is part of the call from Australia, “With Aboriginal communities, culture and land under the threat of forced closures, we are calling on all communities, friends and allies around the world to stand together as one, on June 26, 27 and 28.”


Go to, to find out more information. Time is short, but why not organize or join an action in support or our Aboriginal friends.


The following is a radio commentary put out by Jaan Laaman in May 2015


Stop the forced closures of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and all across Australia. These were the opening words of a solidarity statement political prisoners in the United States recently sent to Aboriginal communities in Australia.


This is Jaan Laaman, your political prisoner voice, coming to you from the federal prison in Tucson, Arizona. Let me share some ugly information with you that the mainstream U.S. corporate media is not reporting. The government of the State of Western Australia recently announced the imminent closure of almost 150 Aboriginal communities and towns. By closure, it means that the water and electricity and the schools and health care facilities, in these towns, will be shut down. The Western Australia government has decided and decreed that Aboriginal communities must be located no more that 100 kilometers from large towns or cities. Any Aboriginal towns and communities located further away can be closed.


This sounds absurd in the 21st century. This is nothing but a racist, blatantly colonialist assault against the original indigenous people of Australia. This policy really sounds like it is designed to drive people off their land. By emptying Aboriginal areas of their inhabitants, the land becomes available to the huge mining corporations that are closely linked with the Western Australian government.


The Western Australian government has tried to explain its policy by labeling Aboriginal communities as “dysfunctional”. They are trying to demonize these communities by raising issues like alcohol abuse, unemployment, child abuse and poverty. No doubt such problems do exist in Aboriginal communities, as they unfortunately also do in other sectors of Australian society. This is similar to when conservative politicians here in the U.S., point to drug and alcohol abuse, in Native American, Black and Brown communities, when they want to put more cops in an area or cut back programs or funding for those areas. So the Western Australian government is using old politicians’ tricks to justify what is a racist land grab policy.


Australia is a large country with vast areas that are lightly populated. Only Aboriginal towns and communities are subjected to this policy requiring them to be located within 100 kilometers of majority white, large towns or cities. This policy isn’t meant for Crocodile Dundee and his mates. This is the Australian government once again going after Aboriginal people still living on their ancestral lands in remote areas, which now are suspected of having rich mineral resources.


This ugly government policy has met with significant popular opposition. Two large rounds of demonstrations, one in April and one on May 1st, have taken place in towns and cities across Australia. Aboriginal people and Australians of all backgrounds have come out into the streets in the thousands, to show their opposition to this unjust policy. This government decree violates International Law and the Human Rights of Aboriginal people. At this juncture, the government is pushing ahead with this policy. But more demonstrations are being planned and it is expected even more people will come out to show their opposition to this racist, colonialist assault on Aboriginal communities and their land.


For more information you can go to: You can also show your support at: #SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA.
This is Jaan Laaman. Until next time remember, all around the world, Freedom Is A Constant Struggle!

Q&A: Jericho Movement’s Paulette D’Auteuil on U.S. political prisoners

October 16, 2015




Paulette D’Auteuil is on the advisory board in of the National Jericho Movement. She recently delivered remarks to the 12th International Symposium Against Isolation in Beirut, Lebanon.


The conference brings together former political prisoners and supporters of prisoners currently held in countries around the world. She told the conference that the U.S. is no exception to countries that lock up political dissidents on trumped up charges or deny parole to political prisoners who have already served the terms of their court-mandated sentences. During the conference she spoke with FSRN’s Jacob Resneck.


FSRN: The issue of political prisoners is something we, as Americans, hear a lot about in other countries. But your organization argues that the U.S. is no different. Is the criminal justice system targeting individuals for lawful political activities?


PD: Um, yes. It’s been targeting them since Sacco and Vanzetti and it continues to target them today. We have many political prisoners: Leonard Peltier, Jalil Muntaqim, Herman Bell… and we also have some who are engaged in struggles against the state and have seen now that COINTELPRO situation which was a program, a counter-intelligence program, by the government was considered illegal. And after 9/11 and the PATRIOT ACT everything that was considered illegal in COINTELPRO has now been incorporated and is considered a legal government means to keep people from resisting and struggling for a better society.


FSRN: Tell us what the Jericho Movement and other legal advocates for these prisoners are doing to try and secure release for these prisoners.


PD: One of the things we are trying to do is that coming to the end of the Obama administration  some of our prisoners have, or are in the process rather, are in the process of completing a set of documents for the Justice Department which will be turned over to a clemency lawyer that will be reviewed and then put on Obama’s desk.


This packet is an incredible listing of this person’s history from before they were incarcerated. If they were arrested or something happened to them in high school they have to start there and give them everything that they’ve done and then every infraction that they’ve been charged with within that.


FSRN: We’re here in Beirut hearing the testimony of former political prisoners and also their advocates. What message are you bringing to them from the U.S. and what message will you be taking back to the states?


PD: I’m going to take back this struggle that needs to be done to help build an anti-imperialist front. And that is we must take the struggles of other countries back into the United States to expose French imperialism, American imperialism and whatever and build the unity between our prisoners and their prisoners. We’ve done this with people in the Basque country, we’ve done it with Turkish prisoners, and so what I’ve brought is a group of statements from our prisoners – Herman Bell, Jalil Muntaqim, Leonard Peltier, Mutulu Shakur all sent greetings of solidarity. For them this is a way for them to have their voices heard in other countries and so we have reciprocity, a revolutionary reciprocity, to support each other’s prisoners and to stand in solidarity against this capitalist class throughout the world.


FSRN: Finally, what can ordinary Americans do to support these political prisoners and what support networks exist to help people who think they or friends or family may be targeted by the criminal justice system for their lawful political activities?


PD: On our website there are all kinds of suggestions. You can just go online and Google “political prisoner organizations” and get in touch.


FSRN: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.


PD: You’re welcome. Thank you. Free the Land!
Related note: FSRN has long aired the commentaries of Mumia Abu Jamal, former Black Panther and radio journalist, via Prison Radio. In October of last year, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a bill, the Revictimization Relief Act, that could subject anyone convicted of a personal crime to legal action if they speak publicly. Last week Chief Judge for the U.S. Federal District Court in Harrisburg, PA heard opening arguments in Abu-Jamal vs. Kane on 2/26/2015.  If he rules that the plaintiffs (Prison Radio & Mumia Abu-Jamal) have standing in federal court, a ruling which is expected shortly, the case will proceed on the merits of whether SB508 is a violation of the First Amendment, and an unconstitutional silencing of prisoners’ voices.

Will Albert Woodfox be freed? Louisiana fights release of longest-serving U.S. prisoner in solitary

October 16, 2015



Louisiana has delayed the release of former Black Panther Albert Woodfox, the longest-serving U.S. prisoner in solitary confinement, after appealing a judge’s order for his freedom. Earlier this year, a Louisiana grand jury re-indicted Woodfox for the 1972 murder of a prison guard, a crime for which he and his late, fellow Angola 3 member Herman Wallace maintained they were framed for their political activism. Wallace died on October 1, 2013, just three days after he was released from prison. On Monday, Federal Judge James Brady not only called for Woodfox’s release, but also barred a retrial. Woodfox’s two previous convictions in the case were both overturned. But on Tuesday, Louisiana filed an appeal to the Fifth Circuit, and that court issued a stay on Judge Brady’s order until 1 p.m. this Friday. Woodfox’s lawyers have until 5 p.m. today to file a response. We are joined by Woodfox’s attorney, George Kendall, as well as the Angola 3’s Robert King, who spent 29 years in solitary confinement.




JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We end today’s show looking at the pending release of the longest-serving U.S. prisoner in solitary confinement. On Monday, Federal Judge James Brady ordered the immediate release of Louisiana prisoner and former Black Panther Albert Woodfox. Earlier this year, a Louisiana grand jury re-indicted Woodfox for the 1972 murder of a prison guard, a crime for which he and his late, fellow Angola 3 member Herman Wallace maintained they were framed for their political activism. Wallace died on October 1st, 2013, just three days after he was released from prison. On Monday, Federal Judge James Brady not only called for Woodfox’s release, but also barred a retrial. Woodfox’s two previous convictions in the case were both overturned.


AMY GOODMAN: For the past 40 years, Albert Woodfox has been kept in a six-by-nine cell for 23 hours each day. At the facility where he’s currently housed, he’s only allowed out of his cell three days a week. Judge Brady said his order to release Woodfox was based on five factors: quote, “Mr. Woodfox’s age and his poor health, his limited ability to present a defense at a third trial in light of the unavailability of witnesses, this Court’s lack of confidence in the State to provide a fair third trial, the prejudice done onto Mr. Woodfox by spending over forty years in solitary confinement, and finally the very fact that Mr. Woodfox has already been tried twice and would otherwise face his third trial for a crime that occurred over forty years ago,” unquote.


Well, Louisiana has now filed an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and that court has issued a stay on Judge Brady’s order until 1:00 p.m. this Friday. It gave Woodfox’s lawyers until 5:00 p.m. today to file a response to the state’s appeal. In a minute, we’ll get the latest news from his lawyer. But first, this is a clip of Albert Woodfox speaking in his own words on a prison pay phone in the 2010 documentary, In the Land of the Free.


ALBERT WOODFOX: And I thought that my cause, then and now, was noble. So, therefore, they could never break me. They might bend me a little bit. They may cause me a lot of pain. They may even take my life. But they will never be able to break me.

AMY GOODMAN: Those, the words of Albert Woodfox. For more, we’re joined by two guests. In New Orleans, Louisiana, George Kendall is Albert Woodfox’s defense attorney. In Austin, Texas, we’re joined by Robert King, member of the Angola 3 who spent 29 years in solitary confinement for a murder he did not commit. He was released in 2001 after his conviction was overturned. He’s written a book about his experience, From the Bottom of the Heap: The Autobiography of Black Panther Robert Hillary King.


We welcome you both back to Democracy Now! George Kendall, you’re in New Orleans. What is going on? The judge demanded that Albert Woodfox be immediately released, but that’s not happening as of this moment.


GEORGE KENDALL: Judge Brady issued a very thoughtful opinion that looked at all the circumstances in this case and, using the power he has as a federal judge, said, “Enough is enough. Mr. Woodfox needs to be released.” The state of Louisiana is unwilling to let this case go. It filed an immediate appeal in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. And as you reported, that court has issued a temporary stay until Friday at 1:00 p.m. It has given us until 5:00 p.m. today to file our brief. We were up all night, and we will file a very good, strong brief by 5:00, and we are hopeful that the court will dissolve that stay on Friday afternoon so Mr. Woodfox can come home.


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Robert King, your reaction, more than a decade after you were released and your conviction overturned, your fellow Angola 3 member still in prison, and your reaction to the latest developments?


ROBERT KING: Well, we think it’s a pretty astounding decision for the judge to take that position. But we—you know, I spoke with Albert recently. We are still cautiously optimistic about it, about what could happen, the process that still needed to—that we still need to go through. But I am elated that the judge made that decision. And it’s about time, long overdue. And like judge spoke of, Judge Brady decided that, you know, Albert should be freed. He spent 40 years in solitary confinement, 43 years and counting, because he’s still in solitary confinement. He’s isolated, even though he’s no longer in prison. And I think the judge made the right decision. But again, you know, we are cautiously optimistic. I hate to use that term. We shouldn’t have to be. But, you know, knowing this case, this case has had many ups and downs and many hurdles to jump, and there still may be a couple more. But we’re hoping this, that by Friday, that this is indeed just a temporary stay that was granted and that Albert would be released, you know, this Sunday.


AMY GOODMAN: George Kendall, Teenie Verret, the widow of the prison guard that Louisiana says was killed by Albert Woodfox, Brent Miller and Herman Wallace, Verret was just 17 when her husband, Brent Miller, was stabbed to death in 1972, the prison guard. She said, a few years ago, she did not believe that Woodfox and Wallace were guilty. And she said at that time that they should be released. George Kendall, describe—Robert King just said that Woodfox is not in the prison, he’s in jail. But how he is being treated, even now—body cavity searches—and the civil lawsuit that has been filed.


GEORGE KENDALL: Right, well, he was moved in February of this year from the Louisiana prison system to a parish detention center to await his retrial. He was very quickly re-indicted, but he remains—as Robert King just told you, he is in a cell 23 hours a day three days a week, and 24 hours a day the other four days a week. And unlike at Angola, where at least he was behind bars, or at Wade Correctional Center, where he spent the last four years without any disciplinary charges whatsoever, he currently is housed behind a steel door. And so this really is—his ability to have contact with neighbors and all is virtually nonexistent. So he is under even more harsh conditions awaiting this new trial than he was in the Louisiana prison system.


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And how do prison authorities justify 40 years of isolation? I mean, forget about the injustice of the actual case itself, but the solitary confinement?


GEORGE KENDALL: They have long said that—the only reason they give is that he will remain there because of the original reason for his placement there, and that was the suspicion that he was involved in the murder of Mr. Miller. What these units are supposed to be for are temporary housing, that if somebody misbehaves in a significant way, they go to one of these tiers, where they spend 23 hours a day in a cell for weeks, sometimes months, sometimes a few years. But when you demonstrate good behavior, as Mr. Woodfox has for decades, as Robert King did for decades, as Herman Wallace did for decades—he has remained in 23-hour-a-day lockdown. There’s no penological justification whatsoever. The reason is, is because no warden in the system wanted to be the one who released who many correctional officers feel were the killers of Brent Miller back into general population.


AMY GOODMAN: Yet, when Herman Wallace was released, on his deathbed, dying of cancer in 2013, a federal judge had to threaten the warden, if he didn’t release him, he, the warden, would be imprisoned. Robert King, we only have a minute, but you served solitary confinement for 29 years. This is 42 years now. You all had tried to form a chapter of the Black Panther Party, which is the reason you felt that they felt they were charged with the prison guard’s murder. Can you wrap by saying your thoughts on him in solitary confinement, Albert Woodfox?


ROBERT KING: Well, I think it’s—you know, it’s unjustified, Albert Woodfox 43 years and counting in solitary confinement. And again, he’s still in solitary confinement. There’s no validity to it. There’s no penological justification in keeping him there. And we’re thinking that—I did only 29 years in solitary confinement.




ROBERT KING: I’ve been out now, you know, 14 years, going on 15. Albert has done 14 years more than I have done in solitary.


AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to end with Albert Woodfox’s words back in 2010.


ALBERT WOODFOX: Our primary objective is that front gate. That is what we are struggling for, and we are actually fighting for our freedom. We are fighting for people to understand that we were framed.

OPERATOR: This call originates from a Louisiana correctional facility and may be recorded or monitored.

ALBERT WOODFOX: That we were framed for a murder that we are totally and completely and actually innocent of.

OPERATOR: You have 15 seconds left on this call.

ALBERT WOODFOX: Let me call you back.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Albert Woodfox from the 2010 documentary, In the Land of the Free. And that does it for our show. George Kendall and Robert King, thanks so much for being with us.

The organizers who never gave up on the Cuban Five

October 16, 2015


4 sm June-2014-march

An interview with Alicia Jrapko, co-founder of the International Committee to Free the Cuban Five, on how persistence pays in uphill political struggles.


In the din of global media coverage of the normalization of U.S.-Cuban diplomacy, little was said of one of the core issues for Cuba in negotiations leading up to the public unveiling of the new policy: the agreement of the United States to return a group of prisoners known in Cuba as “Los Cinco.” The Cuban Five, as they are known in the United States, were sent to south Florida in the 1990s to gather intelligence on exile groups that had carried out bombings in Cuba and were plotting future terrorist attacks. The Cuban government duly shared information the Five had gathered with the FBI, urging the United States to act on its public commitment to fight terrorism. But instead of arresting the exile conspirators, Cuban agents were arrested and ultimately convicted in a Miami courtroom on multiple federal charges. Sentencing was harsh: the Cuban Five were sent to five separate prisons across the United States for a total four life sentences plus 77 years without the possibility of communicating with one another. Visits from family members were largely prohibited.


Despite egregious errors in the case and the hypocrisy of U.S. law enforcement in prosecuting their Cuban counterparts in a war against terrorism, the story of the Five received almost no coverage in the English-language press. Building a global movement to free the Cuban Five, as was done by two sometimes-clashing groups, the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five and the International Committee to Free the Cuban Five, involved an unprecedented suite of organizing strategies.


In this interview excerpt, Alicia Jrapko, co-founder with Bill Hackwell of the International Committee to Free Cuban Five, offers her insights on sustaining activism on urgent issues that may remain stubbornly on the sidelines of public conscience.


Heather Williams: This case became the focus of yours and Bill’s lives for many years. What in particular was compelling about it for you?


Alicia Jrapko: I am from Argentina originally, and when I started working in solidarity with Cuba with Pastors for Peace, I realized how much of what I heard on the news in the United States about Cuba was untrue. I will say that as a Latin American I embraced solidarity with Cuba because I always knew that Cuba was a place where a lot of wonderful things were happening. It’s related to Argentina—I left Argentina under dictatorship just because my generation wanted the same thing as [what people had wanted] in Cuba. A lot of my friends, students of that time, died fighting for the same things as Cubans were fighting for.


In the United States there was very little mainstream media reporting of this case, and what there was usually led with the term “Cuban spies.” How did you confront people’s skepticism or simple lack of familiarity with the case?


It was extremely hard to get any media coverage at the beginning. In fact, the U.S. media are still calling them spies. So we began with the progressive movement, and people who were already supportive of Cuba. The same thing happened in other countries. In the United States, it was really hard because there was no way to get to the media. Nobody was listening to us.


At one point around 2006 we realized we were preaching to the choir, that everybody coming to events already knew about the Cuban Five. So we changed strategy, looking for other people to join us. We reached out to writers, actors, intellectuals, leaders of churches and unions. Gradually we started getting a lot of support. At one point—in fact, this year in June, we had the third Five Days for the Cuban Five in Washington—we had people coming from 31 countries, including parliamentarians from Latin America and Europe, intellectuals like Ignacio Ramonet and Fernando Morais, and also people from the United States, like Lawrence Wilkerson who was the Chief of Staff of Colin Powell. We had Professor William Leogrande, from American University who just wrote a book about Cuba. There were people from churches too, like Joan Brown Campbell, the former General Secretary of the U.S. Council of Churches who always supported us. Just recently the current General Secretary of the Council of Churches also joined with us and representatives from organized labor. As the case got better known we were able to organize demonstrations in front of the White House and started lobbying. We visited Congresspeople and Senators and were able to convey to them why we were interested in the case.


HW:  Can you tell me about some of the points of greatest hope and greatest despair while working on this case?


AJ:  I honestly never lost hope, although I knew this was going to be really difficult. But unlike many political prisoners, the Cuban Five had the support of the entire Cuban people, the government, and their families. The families of the five—mothers, fathers, wives—were traveling all over the world to talk about the case, except in the United States because they couldn’t come here to speak publicly. That was very inspiring. The period of the Bush administration was really hard for us; nobody was listening and the case was for the most part unknown. When Obama came to power, we had hope. But in the last couple of years, a lot of things were happening in Latin America, and we felt President Obama might make the right decision. We never knew when all of the prisoners would be released, but we felt the day was getting closer.


HW:  On that note, after the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversal of the decision of the panel of three, and after the refusal of the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, did you feel that impacted the movement for better or worse? Did it kill hope or did it reaffirm people’s commitment to the case?


AJ:  Leonard Weinglass, one of the great lawyers who worked on this case, made it clear from day one that this was a political struggle. Many people still believed in the justice system, but we always kept in mind what Leonard said. So when the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, even though you’d never had so many people supporting [the appeal], we thought, gee, it would be great if we had won in the courts, but we never had any hope in the legal route. We always thought this was a political struggle. That’s why we moved away from any legal route and kept fighting at the political level. We always said from the very beginning, “Once the American people understand who the Cuban Five are, this is going to change.” And I don’t know that we did everything that we could, but I know we did our best, because it was hard to get to the media, and to get through to people.


But I think it was a combination of things. It was the work done by the Cuban people and the Cuban government, the work done by the family of the Five, the work done by us in the United States, the work that was done from all over the world, the work done by people with influence, including Congresspeople and Senators, unions, religious leaders, even presidents of other countries. And then, at one point, everything combined made it happened.


HW:  What advice do you have for others fighting long, uphill battles?


AJ:  Never give up. Never give up. That’s the best advice. Through the years, I’ve learned to be very persistent. When somebody says no, knock on the door again, and again and again and again. And finally, they say yes. You have keep fighting and not lose hope, and know that even if people don’t think like you, if they agree with you on this particular case, you have to work with them. I think that it’s worth being part of such a long struggle and seeing victory at the end. This victory was the result of a lot of different things at work: the Cuban people, the Cuban government and the families. They were the ones who were fighting until the end.


There are so many other cases that people are fighting on that are very difficult. But we should never discount the things that we can do. When we started working on this, we were preaching to the choir, and I think that changed and it made the difference for us in our work here in the United States.


HW:  What’s next for you?


AJ:  Well, I see us continuing the work we have been doing with Cuba. I never saw the work we did with the Cuban Five as being separated from the rest of the solidarity work we were doing. I always saw Cubans as victims of a bad policy. The Cuban Five were convicted because they were Cubans from Cuba. They never would have been jailed if they weren’t. We still need to fight the blockade and always being mindful of Cuba’s right to sovereignty. And I think we’ll keep fighting on that line. Our group, which is a dynamic and wonderful group, doesn’t want to disband. We’re already planning the next things we want to do. But we’ll continue our solidarity with Cuba.
Heather Williams is a professor of politics and environmental analysis at Pomona College and has written on social movements, the environment, labor and migration.

Information and words from Leonard Peltier

October 16, 2015


June 26 marks 40 years since the “Incident at Oglala” that led to the imprisonment of Leonard Peltier.


The Native American activist was wrongfully convicted in the deaths of two FBI agents that day in 1975 during a state of siege by the agency on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.  One Native American man also died in the gunfight.  Not by coincidence, on that very day corrupt tribal leaders were secretly signing away traditional mineral rights, including to uranium under reservation lands in the Black Hills.


Recently, Leonard Peltier was again denied a transfer to a medium security facility.  No reason was given.


This winter, the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee suffered a loss of data while also moving operations to Oregon (ILPDC, P.O. Box 24, Hillsboro, OR  97123).  While much data was recovered, supporters are encouraged to visit and sign up for email updates as well as information about joining or hosting a commemorative event on June 26, and how to contribute financially and otherwise to ongoing efforts.


Now under the direction of his eldest son, Chauncy Peltier, the committee asks support for its work in four directions:


   1.) An award of Executive Clemency;

    2.) A congressional investigation into the FBI’s misconduct in Indian Country, against the American Indian Movement and in the case of Leonard Peltier;

    3.) An Executive review by the Attorney General;

    4.) The release of tens of thousands of related case documents through FOIA requests.

    A new legal team is quietly working on Peltiers behalf, and to represent his needs and best interests.


In February, Leonard Peltier wrote,


Greetings My Friends, Relatives and Supporters,


I know that many of you have concerns about the status of my situation and have been wanting an update about what is going on…


We are coming up on 40 years of my being in prison.  Sometimes, I honestly cannot believe it, sometimes I just don’t want to believe it.  You have been here with me through many dark times.  It is not possible for me to respond to each of you personally, I sure wish I could.


The reality is that I am not getting any younger, I feel my body every day.  My hip hurts, I cannot see very well, my body aches and my diabetes makes me feel uneasy a lot of the time.  I do not say these things so you’ll feel sorry for me, I just want to share because I would like for you to understand where I am at in my life.  When I put the losses of my friends and family together in my mind with the way my body feels, I feel a hunger to go home like I have never felt in all these long years.


I want you to continue to support what you know is right.  Be active, take an active role in our world and support the things you know need to be supported.  Stand up for those that need to be stood up for, teach and take care of our children and our Mother Earth.  Help one another to be strong and honorable, keep and carry on the traditions, languages and culture of our people.  Be kind and caring to each other.  I will continue to need your support, prayers, your love, and your understanding as I walk on this final path toward my friend.  


Leonard Peltier on the 40th anniversary of the Incident at Oglala


Greetings to you, my relatives and friends.


This is the first time that my dear sister Roselyn will not be there for me, but I know she is there in spirit as she has gone on her journey. I have seen pictures of the gathering over the years and can still see her sitting there under the trees with our relatives… I will always miss her and be grateful to her for all she did for me and for our people.


This year I am most concerned with our children and the taking of their own lives. This is very sad to me, as it is to you, and I know there are many reasons for them to feel such despair and hopelessness. But I can only ask and encourage all of us to double our efforts to show them love and support, and let them know that we will always look after them and protect them. That includes asking big brothers and sisters to look after the younger ones. They are our future and have to be protected and to learn to be the protectors. This is not something we can live with, we need to all work to change this.


And this year it is even more urgent that we come together to protect our sovereignty. There are so many issues to face and fight. We continue to fight for our Black Hills and to stop the XL pipeline from poisoning our water and our land, and I stand with the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nations, and all people of like mind in this fight.


The destruction of our Mother Earth by the heavy and toxic Tar Sands oil, fracking, gas and oil drilling and uranium mining is unacceptable to me and to us. We are supposed to be protecting these things even as others try to push us aside. I honor all of our relatives who are on the front lines of this fight.


And after all that I have seen in these 40 years behind bars, I was still shocked to see what they are trying to do to the Apache people at Oak Flats. This cannot be tolerated. It is not only a blatant money grab at the expense of a tribe’s Sacred site, but it is an effort to push us back in the direction of termination by ignoring our rights as sovereign nations. This we will not tolerate. Nothing is sacred to these people and they will continue to try to bulldoze us out of the way without even a single thought to our coming generations if we do not continue to stand up and oppose them. We must be ready for anything or we will lose all that we have gained in the last 40 years.


The continued use of racist mascots is something that we can never accept as Indigenous peoples and we need to all continue to push to end that racist practice.


As for me, time is something I have learned a lot about in these years in prison. And now I can see that time is slipping away from me and I know that if I do not get out under this President I will almost certainly die here in prison.


I have been able to survive with the hope you have given to me and your prayers and I am grateful for that support from all of you.


I continue to pray for the family of my brother Joe Stuntz and for all those who paid such a dear price in those bitter times 40 years ago. And I pray for the families of all our people who have suffered so much and continue to suffer now.


I thank all of you for coming today and I know how hot it can be there. And especially to all the runners and walkers I offer my gratitude.


I send my Love to the people of the Lakota Nations and to all Native Nations,


In the Spirit of Crazy Horse…




Leonard Peltier


letters of support can be sent to:


Leonard Peltier


USP Coleman I

P.O. Box 1033

Coleman, FL 33521

Black August 2015

October 16, 2015

Black August




Black August 2015 — Hiroshima, 70 years later and the bomb still burns.  Hi, this is Jaan Laaman your political prisoner voice, coming to you from the federal prison in Tucson, Arizona.


I wanted to send out a little thought about nuclear bombs, past and present; about Black Lives Matter, past and ongoing; about the horror of it all as we remember the crimes of u.s. imperialism.  Recalling the first and only nuclear bombing of civilian cities — Hiroshima August 6th, with 150,000 dead and Nagasaki August 9th, with 80,000 dead — and the many other wars the usa state has started since.


Let’s also think about the ongoing murders of Black people by government agents, as well as by rag tag racists.  Let’s be aware of the injustices and repression against people of color by the state machine, and by the capitalist system and the many people poisoned by the ugly and false ideology of white supremacy.


But it is August — Black August — and a time to recall fallen warriors, Jonathan and George Jackson first of all.  A time to reflect and share with youth and everyone, about the history of hard, militant revolutionary struggle for Black Liberation and Revolution.  It is clear we have a new generation that is gaining awareness and militancy.  Yes!  Black Lives Matter!  They always have and will and it is good to see it taken to the streets and beyond.  I’ve always felt Black August is a time of energy and fighting back, of history and remembering, too, but all directed to the tasks, the revolutionary struggle still ahead.  So I hope all of you are feeling positive and in a fighting mood, too.


And one parting thought, August 9th, is also the “International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.”




Editor’s Introduction


Black August is a celebration of Freedom Fighters, an affirmation and renewed commitment to the struggle, on every level, of New African – Black Liberation.  It is a time to understand, remember and FIGHT for freedom, justice and self determination of Black people and the New African – Black Nation within the imperialist usa state.


Of course Black Lives Matter!  The public outrage and movement against cop killings of mostly Black and Brown children, women and men is an important and necessary development here in 2015.  Cops have been murdering people for years and years, but with cell phones and a new, angry and aware generation, we are seeing some good fight back and this is exactly what Black August is:  awareness of and fighting back against racist repression and for revolutionary liberation.  


Recognition of Black August (BA) started behind prison walls and continues there today.  Following are several pages of authentic information on BA, put together by Doc Holiday, an original comrade of George Jackson and a long time figure in the Black Liberation and prison struggle.


Black August: A Celebration of Freedom Fighters




Black August originated in the California penal system in the 1970s. Many significant events in the New African Nation’s struggle for justice and liberation have occurred in August. The commemoration of Black August particularly hails the advances and sacrifices of Black Freedom Fighters. Following are several pages of authentic information on Black August provided by Doc Holiday, an original comrade of George Jackson and a longtime figure in the Black Liberation and prison struggle. Doc is presently in prison in Marion, Illinois.


History of Black August Concept and Program


The month of August gained special significance and importance in the Black Liberation Movement beginning with a courageous attempt by Jonathan Jackson to demand the freedom of political prisoners/prisoners of war which the Soledad Brothers’ case were the center of attention.


On August 7, 1970, Jonathan Jackson, William Christmas, James McClain, and Ruchell Magee were gunned down at the Marin County Courthouse in that attempt for freedom. Ruchell Cinque Magee remains the sole survivor of that bid for liberation, he also remains a POW at Folsom prison doing life. Though this rebellion was put down by gory pigs and their agents it was internalized within the hearts and minds of the people on the outside in the larger prison as well as those in the concentration camps (prison), internalized in the same fashion as we honor other heroic African Freedom Fighters, who sacrificed their lives for the people and the liberation.


On August 21, 1971, almost exactly a year following the slave rebellion at Marin County Courthouse, George L. Jackson (older brother of Jonathan Jackson as well as one of the Soledad Brothers) whose freedom was the primary demand of the Marin rebellion, was assassinated at San Quentin prison in an alleged escape put forth by prison administration and the state to cover its conspiracy. Comrade George Jackson was a highly respected and purposely influential leader in the Revolutionary Prison Movement. Jackson was also very popular beyond prison, not only because he was a Soledad Brother, but also because of the book he authored appropriately entitled “Soledad Brother.” This book not only revealed to the public the inhumane and degrading conditions in prison, he more importantly correctly pointed to the real cause of those effects in prison as well as in society – a decadent Capitalist system that breeds off racism and oppression.


On August 1, 1978 brother Jeffery “Khatari” Gualden, a Black Freedom Fighter and Prisoner of War captured within the walls of San Quentin was a victim of a blatant assassination by capitalist-corporate medical politics. Khatari was another popular and influential leader in the Revolutionary Prison Movement.


An important note must be added here and that is, the Black August Concept and Movement that it is a part of and helping to build is not limited to our sisters and brothers that are currently captured in the various prison Kamps throughout California. Yet without a doubt it is inclusive of these sisters and brothers and moving toward a better understanding of the nature and relationship of prison to oppressed and colonized people.


So it should be clearly understood that Black August is a reflection and commemoration of history; of those heroic partisans and leaders that realistically made it possible for us to survive and advance to our present level of liberation struggle. People such as: Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Gabril Prosser, Frederick Douglas, W.E. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Paul Roberson, Rosa Parks, M.L. King, Malcolm X, and numerous others in our more contemporary period. It must be further clarified that when we speak of “Culture Development,” we are not advocating Cultural Nationalism and/or merely talking about adopting African names, jewelry, dashikis, etc. Our primary interest lies not only in where we came from, but the nature of “WHY” we were forcefully brought here, understanding the character of “CONTINUOUS” struggle with the recognition that it is a Protracted struggle and developing the necessary lifestyles to guarantee its success.


August 20, 1619: First born Afrikan captives were brought to England’s North Amerikan colony of Jamestown, Virginia.


August 16, 1768: Charlestown, South Carolina rebellious Afrikan slaves (known as maroons) engaged British military forces in bloody battle defending their camp which was a haven for fugitive slaves.


August 30, 1800: Day set for launching Gabrier Prossers revolt. On this day over 1000 armed slaves gathered to endeavor to secure their liberty. However, bad weather forced them to postpone the revolt and betrayal ultimately led to the crushing of their physical force.


August 21, 1831: Slave revolt launched under the leadership of Nat Turner which lasted four days and resulted in fifty-one slaveholders and their loved ones being subjected to revolutionary People’s justice.


August 29, 1841: Street skirmish took place in Cincinnati between Afrikans and Euro-Amerikans, wherein for five days Afrikans waged valiant struggle in defense of their women, children and property against brutal racist terror campaigns.


August 1854: Delegates from eleven states met in Cleveland at the National Emigration Convention of the Colored People, to advance the position that an independent land base (nation) be set up for the absorption of captive Afrikans in Babylon who wanted to return to Afrika.


August 1, 1856: North Carolina, fierce battle erupted between fugitive slaves and slaveholders who sought their capture and re-enslavement. Only recorded casualties were among slaveholders.


August 1860: Freedom (slave) conspiracy uncovered with the discovery of an organized camp of Afrikans and Euro-Amerikan co-conspirators in Talladega County, Alabama.


August 2, 1865: Virginia a statewide conference of fifty Afrikan delegates met to demand that Afrikans in Virginia be granted legal title to land occupied during the Civil War. Numerous off-pitch battles ensued during this same month as terrorist mobs moved to evict Afrikans from the land and were met with resistance.


August 17, 1887: Honorable Marcus Garvey, father of contemporary Afrikan Nationalism was born.


August 1906: Afrikan soldiers (in service of Babylon) enraged by racial slurs and discrimination struck out and wrecked the town of Brownville, Texas.


August 1906: Niagara Movement met at Harpers Ferry, Virginia and issued W.E. Marcus Garvey DuBois’ historic manifesto against racist discrimination in Babylon against Afrikans.


August 1, 1914: Garvey founds Universal Negro Improvement Association, advancing the call for Land, Freedom, and Independence for Afrikan people.


August 23, 1917: Afrikan soldiers in Huston engaged in street skirmishes that left more than seventeen Euro-American racists dead.


August 1920: Over two thousand delegates representing Afrikans from the four corners of the earth gathered in New York for the International Convention of the Negro People of the World, sponsored by UNIA convention issue a bill of rights for Afrikans.


August 1943: Slave revolt took place in Harlem as result of a K-9 shooting a brother defending the honor of Afrikan womanhood. More than 16,000 military and police personnel were required to quell the rebellion.


August 1963: 190,000 Afrikans (250,000 people all told) took part in the March on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King to petition for the extension of the rights and privileges due to them mandated by the U.S. Constitution.


August 1964: Afrikan launched comparatively large-scale urban slave revolt in the following cities: Jersey City NY, Paterson NJ, Keansburg NJ, Chicago IL, and Philadelphia PA. These slave revolts were for the most part sparked by either police brutality or disrespect shown toward Afrikan womanhood.


August 16, 1965: Urban revolt took place in Northern Philadelphia.


August 7-8, 1966: Large-scale urban revolt was launched in Lansing, Michigan.


August 28, 1966: Waukegan, Illinois, urban slave revolt launched in response to police brutality.


July 30-August 2, 1967: Urban slave revolt launched in Milwaukee.


August 19-24, 1967: Comparatively large-scale urban slave revolt was launched in New Haven, Connecticut.


August 7, 1970: Jonathan Jackson killed in firefight while leading the Marin County Courthouse raid.


August 21, 1971: George Jackson shot and killed in San Quentin by tower guards.


Most standard history books tend to either play down or ignore New African resistance as a factor in the destruction of the slave economy. On the other hand, when one understands New Africans are still an oppressed nation, the reason for such deception becomes clear. Black August contends that not only was such resistance a factor in the destruction of the slave economy, but New African resistance to slavery continues to inspire New African resistance to national oppression. Herbert Aptheker (the author of “American Negro Slave Revolts”) recounts the personal remark of one New African involved in the civil rights struggle:


“From personal experience I can testify that American Negro Slave Revolts made a tremendous impact on those of us in the civil rights and Black Liberation movement. It was the single most effective antidote to the poisonous ideals that blacks had not a history of struggle or that such struggle took the form of non-violent protest. Understanding people like Denmark Vessey, Nat Turner, William Lloyd Garrison etc. provided us with that link to our past that few ever thought existed.”


Black August contends that from the very inception of slavery, New Africans huddled illegally to commemorate and draw strength from New African slaves who met their death resisting. Black August asserts that it is only natural for each generation of New Africans faced with the task to liberate the nation, to draw strength and encouragement from each generation of New African warriors that preceded them. It is from such a rich heritage of resistance that Black August developed, committed to continuing the legacy of resistance, vowing to respond to the destruction of colonial oppression with our George Jacksons, Malcolm X’s, and Fred Hamptons etc.


New African resistance moved decisively into the 1920s and 1930s. Evidence of this was movements like: The African Blood Brothers, The Share Croppers, The Black Bolsheviks, etc. Unduly there is an incorrect tendency to confine the discussion of African Nationalism to the well-known Garvey movement as the sole manifestation of national consciousness. The Garvey movement was the point of the emerging politics of New African resistance.


In labor, national consciousness, (i.e. literature, jazz, art, etc..) in the struggle for the land, in all areas of politics, like a great explosion of previously pent-up National Consciousness took place among New Africans.


The sixties was a further example of New African resistance to national oppression. It should be emphasized here that the struggle of non-violence was at that time a strategy of illegality, of danger, of arousing New Africans to direct confrontation with the colonial oppressor. Whether it was a sit-in at a segregated lunch counter or bus station, the movement deliberately broke the colonial law.


Inevitably the anti-colonial struggle moved to a higher level, growing beyond the initial stage of non-violent civil rights protest. Non-violent civil rights strategy was tried and discarded by New Africans, who found that it was a failure, incapable of forcing an entrenched settler’s colonial regime to change.


Black August purports that it is important to briefly mention such events to counter the colonial propaganda that the riots of the 1960s were due to anger brought on by overcrowding and summer heat. Black August asserts that in order for New Africans to arise to the historical task of defending the Nation, it is imperative that New Africans have a historical perspective of themselves resisting colonial oppression.


Black August avers that at a time when the Black Nation is experiencing the destruction of its community through planned gentrification, at a time when the quality of New African life is being blunted through unemployment, prison, drugs, high infant mortality and poverty, the call of New African organization should be one of resistance.


Black August is the antithesis to “celebration” and empty “homage.” Black August attempts to place struggle and sacrifice on center stage. In this respect, Black August summons all progressive people who identify with the legacy of resistance to colonial oppression by actively participating in Black August. Thus during the entire month of August we commemorate those Africans who have made the supreme sacrifice for the cause of African Liberation and reflect upon the significance of those contributions as well as  draw closer to the continuing necessity for resistance, we embrace the following as tenets to be practiced during Black August.


Tenets of the Black August Program


A fast which historically has been used as an expression of personal commitment and resistance. Hence, from the sunrise until evening meal we will abstain from eating.

We abstain from consuming any type of intoxicants for the entire month of August. The necessity for this should be self-evident for all serious participants of Black August.

We limit our selection of television and radio to educational programs, i.e. news, documentaries and cultural programs, etc.

During BA we emphasize political and cultural studies for individuals involved in BA. Participants in BA should pair off with someone else you know to study and share knowledge of African Affairs.


As an outward expression of BA we wear a Black arm band on the left arm or wrist as attribute to those Africans who have died as a result of their sacrifice for African Liberation. The arm band can be worn either on the inside or outside of your clothing.

Black August (BA) is a revolutionary concept. Therefore, all revolutionaries, nationalists and others who are committed to ending oppression should actively participate in Black August. Such participation not only begins to build the bridges of international solidarity, but it is through such solidarity that we strengthen ourselves to struggle for victory.

Poetry: Kazi Toure, Garen Zakarian, Tim Young

October 16, 2015

Don’t you die on me



If you die

I’ll tear you into a thousand pieces

just like that last appeal denied

dump you on the concrete floor

then sweep you up into a moldy washcloth

flush you down the rusty toilet bowl


If you die

I’ll scribble your name in red ink

over the obituaries of the local rag

then burn it

When lunch arrives

I’ll stuff the ashes in between

the rotted cabbage layers

cover it with mustard

leave it on the tray


If you die

I’ll jam you into an AK-47 magazine

drill holes in the sky

send you up

never to return and to be forgotten


Don’t you dare die on me

you filthy cunning charlatan

Cause you’re my only hope,  Hope.”


Starve the beast



Plantation toil, penitentiary moil,

 where slavery ends

The Prison Industrial Complex begins

Check your history

1863 to the 21st century

Wanton misery, no mystery,

Statistics quite frightening

Fraught with disparity…


African Americans constitute

12 percent of the nation

50 percent of the prison population.

That’s mass incarceration

Modern day enslavement

Casting a wide net

Landing a big catch:

The poor, the Black, the innocent…


Forever strange fruit

Courtrooms abound with Black youth

Legal lynching ensues

The gavel is a noose

Freedom dismissed

American justice amiss

School to prison pipeline

Lucrative slave ship…


Dred Scott was the genesis

The aftermath stupendous

Millions of lost souls

Prison, probation, parole

Civil liberties on hold

Democracy untold

A dream deferred

Martin’s nightmare has emerged


A better world is possible

Prison abolition is logical

Society holds the key

Time to manifest some destiny

Organize, mobilize,

Act in solidarity

Accomplish the feat

Starve the belly of the beast…


Tim Young (F-23374), San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin CA – 94974

(from June 2015 – SF Bay View)


Like A Rock



They spoke of women’s strength

silently pleading eternal wisdom

illuminating centuries of herstory

they looked like men’s hands

Granma has the same (and we spoke of her)

they were calloused, not rough

proud, vibrant

labored, and tough

they looked round, felt smooth

Like a Rock

run by water since youth

i saw her spirit


beneath a life-time of drudgery,

trapped dreams, of wanting

more for her children

than a koncrete penitentiary.

And it was hard to look

in those eyes—

monopoly capitals surplus value

she didn’t understand the ties—

i tell you

she just understood the struggle.


8 March 1989


From Hauling Up the Morning (Izando la Manana):

Writings & art by political prisoners & prisoners of war in the U.S. June 1990
by Dalou Asahi (Author), Bill Dunne (Author), Marilyn Buck (Author), Kazi Toure (Author), Alan Berkman(Author), Judy Clark (Author), Tim Blunk (Editor), Raymond Luc Levasseur (Editor), Assata Shakur(Introduction), William Kunstler (Foreword)

Political prisoner profiles: Maliki Shakur Latine

October 16, 2015

Family and friends of Maliki Shakur Latine call for justice

4sm maliki

Birthday: August 23


Maliki Shakur Latine is a person who has consistently acted, studied, and worked for the betterment of his community. He is a very peaceful and deeply spiritual person who spends his time helping others. In his youth, Mr. Latine made a series of mistakes that put him behind bars for much of his life. He has educated himself and served his community while serving his time in New York State correctional facilities. It has long been time for him to come home to his outside family, friends, and community.


Maliki Shakur Latine was born in the Bronx on August 23, 1953. An early sense of spirituality and community responsibility as a young Muslim lead him to join the Nation of Islam and then the Bronx Chapter of the Black Panther Party. He was taking political education classes, serving in community programs, and developing a life-long interest in history, philosophy, and spirituality.


Unfortunately, on July 3rd, 1979, a traffic accident lead to a tragic event involving Maliki Shakur Latine, police officers, and others. On October 1, 1981, Maliki Shakur Latine was sentenced to twenty-five to life for attempted murder in the first degree and seven and one half to fifteen years for assault in the first degree.


In prison Mr. Latine continued his community work and study, through increasingly wise, mature and peaceful means. He has continued to study philosophy, ancient civilizations, Islam, and many other topics. Mr. Latine has completed Aggression Replacement Training (ART), Abuse Treatment (ASAT). He has served as a program assistant and an electrician’s helper. He’s taken vocational classes and received his GED in 2011. He has not received any disciplinary action in the past six years. He is on the Honor Block Committee at Clinton Correctional Facility. He has served on Inmate Liaison Committees at several facilities and has taught classes on reentry and release. He writes letters and receives visits so as to connect with his community, give advice, and make contributions. Unfortunately, Mr. Latine has also suffered from his life-long multiple food allergies and has been unable to receive an optimally appropriate diet while in prison, despite multiple recommendations from allergists, physicians and other health professionals.


In his most recent parole hearing, on April 15, 2014, the parole board acknowledged Maliki Shakur Latine’s positive behavior, the positions he’s held, and the programs he has taken to improve and educate himself. They also acknowledged that their COMPAS Reentry Risk Assessment found him to be at a low risk of reoffending. They acknowledged the letter that Mr. Latine wrote to the police officer’s family, expressing his remorse and giving his apology. So why did they not grant him parole?


They spent the majority of the hearing focusing on the original crime and on rumored and speculated affiliations, which have never been raised in court. It seems that the seriousness of a crime can never be mitigated and the false rumors can never be expunged from a record. The parole board seems to want to hold Mr. Latine forever, despite his achievements and his low risk of reoffending. This is an injustice.


Maliki Shakur Latine was 25 years old when the incident took place and he is now 61. He has served 35 years, over half of his life, in prison. He has appeared before the parole board six times and has been denied six times.


The parole board has acknowledged that Maliki Shakur Latine has a stellar record of self-rehabilitation and community service and a low risk of reoffending, yet they denied him parole for the sixth time in 2014 and his appeal was denied in May 2015.

Thanks to wonderful community support and fundraising, Mr. Latine’s lawyer was able to file an Article 78 in early September. While awaiting the result, his lawyer, family, and friends are beginning to prepare for Mr. Latine’s next appearance before the parole board in April 2016. Visit on the web, @JusticeforMSL on Twitter, or “Justice for Maliki Shakur Latine” on Facebook for updates and opportunities to get involved. As Maliki Shakur Latine said in his statement for NYC ABC’s Running Down the Walls event in September, “a Warming Embrace of Loving Solidarity to You ALL!

Visit to donate and check out @JusticeforMSL


Family and Friends of Maliki Shakur Latine


Maliki S. Latine  #81A4469

Shawangunk Correctional Facility

P.O. Box 700

Wallkill, New York 12589

Political prisoner profiles: Rebecca Rubin

October 16, 2015

Rebecca Rubin


Birthday: April 18


Rebecca Rubin is serving a 5 year sentence for her role in a series of Earth Liberation Front (ELF) actions including the arson of the Vail Ski Resort Expansion and US Forest Industries. She also participated in the liberation of horses and the arson of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse Facilities in Litchfield, California and Burns, Oregon. Rebecca is expected to be released in September, 2017.


Her online book wish list is 


Rebecca Rubin


FCI Dublin

5701 8th Street – Camp Parks

Dublin, California 94568

Denver Former Political Prisoner Panel 9/24/15

October 16, 2015

Resisting Repression from the Inside Out: Former Prisoners Speak

Please check out the former prisoner panel held this past week in Denver. Watch these six awesome former prisoners share their experiences, and learn about their cases. Get more info from the Denver ABC by clicking on the photo below – click the link to watch the panel.

Source: Denver Former Political Prisoner Panel 9/24/15

Jaan Laaman on the life and death of Hugo Pinell

August 24, 2015

Listen to Jaan’s words via Prison Radio.

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 70s, 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.

Rest in power, Yogi Bear (Hugo Pinell)

August 14, 2015
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 August 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 Six. Their subsequent 16-month trial was the longest in the state’s history at the time. The San Quentin Six 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 (Secure 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.

Justice for the Craigavon Two

July 25, 2015
BY Angela Nelson

On 9th March 2009, Constable Stephen Carrol was shot dead in the Lismore Manor area of Craigavon during an attack claimed by the Continuity IRA. In May 2011, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton were charged with his murder and in March 2012, they were both found guilty in a non-jury diplock court and handed life sentences. Brendan McConville was given a minimum 25 year term and John Paul Wootton was given a minimum fourteen year term. Their appeal, which was expected to have been heard on 29th April 2013 ended abruptly and was postponed after it was claimed by a defence lawyer that the PSNI had sabotaged the appeal by arresting and attempting to ‘nobble’ a key defence witness who would have discredited key prosecution evidence. At the same time, both defence teams for Brendan and John Paul were put under sinister and covert surveillance by British intelligence in an attempt to jeopardize the right to a fair appeal hearing and also to discredit the names of the defence lawyers. Due to the sinister nature of this surveillance, the threat level against the defence teams was raised to such an extent that the United Nations have been brought in to protect the defence lawyers. The appeal that had been postponed from 29th April 2013 was then heard on 29th May 2014 and it was dismissed. On 14th October 2014, John Paul Wootton’s sentence was increased to a minimum of eighteen years. The latest development came on 24th October 2014, when a judge certified a legal question by the defence lawyers which will now be taken to the Supreme Court.

Many people will be of the opinion that, if these two men have been found guilty based on the evidence produced by the prosecution, then they should serve their time. Others, for example, the ‘democratic’ unionist/loyalist people who inhabit the occupied six counties of Ireland will constantly refer to themselves as law-abiding citizens and will blindly accept without question the evidence produced by the prosecution, particularly when those who have been found guilty are from a Nationalist/Republican background. There are those who will issue finely worded statements before they return their heads to the holes in the sand. Thankfully however, we have people like Monsignor Raymond Murray, Independent Councillor Angela Nelson, TD’s such as Clare Daly, Eamon Ó Cuiv, Mick Wallace, Maureen O’Sullivan and many others who are speaking out because they can see clearly the high level of skulduggery that has been used within British courts to convict these two men. These are just some of the many people who today, are continuing to fight for justice for Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton. The late Gerry Conlon spoke out and he fought for justice for Brendan and John Paul until the end, because Gerry was one of the many Irishmen and Irishwomen who have had first-hand experience of British injustice and British miscarriages of justice and British brutality and British skulduggery.

The case of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton has become known as The Craigavon Two. A key prosecution witness, known as Witness M. only came forward and contacted the PSNI to offer information eleven months after the shooting and when he did so, he was heavily intoxicated. It has been proven that Witness M continuously lied under oath and due to the fact that his eyesight is affected by a condition known as astigmatism, the information offered by Witness M as an ‘eyewitness’ was medically impossible. The identity of Witness M, although known, was hidden from the court which prevented a thorough and proper cross-examination. Witness M has also benefitted financially for providing the PSNI with his ‘eyewitness’ account.

Witness M’s partner who was with him on the night in question did not corroborate his statement of events. The father of Witness M has also discredited the statement of events by his son and has described his son as both a Walter Mitty character and a compulsive liar. The father of Witness M was arrested by the PSNI prior to the 29th April 2013 appeal in an attempt to force him to retract his statement concerning the unreliability of his sons ‘eyewitness’ account. The PSNI also claimed that the father of Witness M was forced at gunpoint by the defence team, in association with the IRA, to discredit his sons ‘eyewitness’ account.

It has been proven that a British army undercover unit were involved in tampering with and also deleting information gathered using surveillance equipment. The AK47 gun used in the attack had a partial fingerprint on the magazine. This fingerprint did not belong to either Brendan McConville or John Paul Wootton. A note containing personal details of the prison governor was found in Brendan McConville’s cell and this was used as evidence of bad character against Brendan in court. It has been proven that this note was planted by a prison officer within Maghaberry in an attempt to influence public opinion. During the appeal, the court admitted that the prosecution evidence did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Brendan and John Paul were guilty.

The Craigavon Two campaign needs the support of people across the world to undertake acts of solidarity in support of the campaign, to publicize the case via the media and online social networking sites and to let the British judiciary and the British government know that once again the world is watching.

Full details of the case facts can be found on

Angela Nelson is an independent councillor in Belfast.Ms Nelson was interned in Armagh women’s prison in 1973 at the age 17. From the St James’s area of west Belfast, she has been a Lisburn councillor since 2005 serving the areas of Twinbrook and Poleglas.

Lawsuit seeks attorney and family access to Mumia Abu-Jamal 

May 18, 2015

May 18, 2015: This morning attorneys for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal filed a lawsuit in the Middle District of Pennsylvania federal court seeking immediate access to their client, who has been held virtually incommunicado at the Geisinger Medical Center since Tuesday, May 12. Abu-Jamal has been denied all communication with his attorneys since that time.

Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center and Robert Boyle, attorneys for Abu-Jamal, are plaintiffs in the action along with Abu-Jamal. A motion for preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order was filed with the lawsuit asking that the court issue an order granting Abu-Jamal visitation with his attorneys and wife, Wadiya Jamal.

On Tuesday May 12th in the evening Mumia was taken from the prison infirmary to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, PA. Since that night he has not been allowed any visits and has been prevented by the hospital and the PA DOC from his constitutionally protected access to the courts and counsel. In addition, his immediate family members have been prevented from visiting him.

This legal action seeks to immediately restore Mr. Abu-Jamal’s constitutional right to access the courts.

Bret Grote notes: “The DOC is once again demonstrating its contempt for human rights and proper health care by holding Mumia Abu-Jamal incommunicado from his family and lawyers. Instead of recognizing the value of family support and legal consultation in protecting and improving his health, the DOC is treating Mumia like a piece of property that it can withhold access to and information about arbitrarily and with impunity.”

According to Abu-Jamal’s attorney, Robert Boyle, The immediate relatives of a prisoner have a right to know the medical status of their loved ones in the case of hospitalization; and all prisoners have a right to communicate with their attorney, especially in case of an emergency. That my client and his family have been deprived of these rights is a constitutional violation.”
Bret Grote         412-654-9070

Support Mumia’s Legal and Medical Team!

Call now to demand freedom & medical care for Mumia:

Geisinger Hospital: 570-271-6211
Superintendent John Kerestes: 570-773-2158, then 0
SCI Mahanoy: 570-787-2500 | 301 Morea Road, Frackville PA 17932


Political Prisoners in the U.S. Support Aboriginal Communities

May 18, 2015

Listen to two powerful new statements from 4strugglemag editor Jaan Laaman, featured on Prison Radio:

Stop the forced closures of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and all across Australia. These were the opening words of a solidarity statement political prisoners in the United States, recently sent to Aboriginal communities in Australia.

This is Jaan Laaman, your political prisoner voice, coming to you from the federal prison in Tucson, Arizona. Let me share some ugly information with you, that the mainstream U.S. corporate media is not reporting. The government of the State of Western Australia recently announced the imminent closure of almost 150 Aboriginal communities and towns. By closure, it means that the water and electricity and the schools and health care facilities, in these towns, will be shut down. The Western Australia government has decided and decreed that Aboriginal communities must be located no more that 100 kilometers from large towns or cities. Any Aboriginal towns and communities located further away can be closed.

This sounds absurd in the 21st century. This is nothing but a racist, blatantly colonialist assault against the original indigenous people of Australia. This policy really sounds like it is designed to drive people off their land. By emptying Aboriginal areas of their inhabitants, the land becomes available to the huge mining corporations that are closely linked with the Western Australian government.

The Western Australian government has tried to explain its policy by labeling Aboriginal communities as “dysfunctional”. They are trying to demonize these communities by raising issues like alcohol abuse, unemployment, child abuse and poverty. No doubt such problems do exist in Aboriginal communities, as they unfortunately also do in other sectors of Australian society. This is similar to when conservative politicians here in the U.S., point to drug and alcohol abuse, in Native American, Black and Brown communities, when they want to put more cops in an area or cut back programs or funding for those areas. So the Western Australian government is using old politicians tricks to justify what is a racist land grab policy.

Australia is a large country with vast areas that are lightly populated. Only Aboriginal towns and communities are subjected to this policy requiring them to be located within 100 kilometers of majority white, large towns or cities. This policy isn’t mean for Crocodile Dundee and his mates. This is the Australian government once again going after Aboriginal people still living on their ancestral lands in remote areas, which now are suspected of having rich mineral resources.

This ugly government policy has met with significant popular opposition. Two large rounds of demonstrations, one in April and one on May 1st, have taken place in towns and cities across Australia. Aboriginal people and Australians of all backgrounds have come out into the streets in the thousands, to show their opposition to this unjust policy. This government decree violates International Law and the Human Rights of Aboriginal people. At this juncture, the government is pushing ahead with this policy. But more demonstrations are being planned and it is expected even more people will come out to show their opposition to this racist, colonialist assault on Aboriginal communities and their land.

For more information you can go to: You can also show your support at: #SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA.

This is Jaan Laaman. Until next time remember, all around the world, Freedom Is A Constant Struggle!

Illustrated Guide to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War

May 15, 2015

Updated by NYC Anarchist Black Cross – May 2015

This is our guide to political prisoners and prisoners of war we support. Feel free to download, print, and distribute as you see fit. The .pdf file has been optimized to print in booklet layout through Acrobat.

PP + POW Listing – 13 May 2015