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prisons & prisoners


June 7, 2004
Twenty-five years clean is not enough!
Hugo L. A. Pinell (A88401) went to the Parole Board last week for the fifth time from Pelican Bay's infamous Security Housing Unit (SHU) and was shot down again. This time another two years before he can again be considered for release from supermax. Mind you, he gets no contact visits, no phone calls, no outdoor yard, no arts or crafts materials; and a very limited number of books is permitted is his windowless cell in this windowless hi-tech tomb.

Despite 200 letters of support and five job offers, Hugo will continue to suffer sensory deprivation and isolation 800 miles from his nearest relatives and friends on the Oregon border of California where he was transferred in 1990 from Corcoran's SHU, another maximum security State prison. All tolled, nearly 40 years is apparently not enough!

More details on Hugo are available in my earlier article of April '04 titled, "Another Warrior Goes to Board."

On August 21, 1971, Comrade George Lester Jackson (aka Soledad Brother) was murdered in what is believed to have been a setup to assassinate this Black revolutionary author and organizer, known as Soledad Brother. On that fateful day, three prison guards and two inmate trustees were also killed. Subsequently, six prisoners were singled out and put on trial. Only one was convicted of murder, Johnny Spain, released in 1988. The others were either acquitted or convicted of assault and released decades ago. Hugo is the only one who remains in prison and suffered prolonged torture in lockups since 1969.

In letters dated June 31, '04:

" I prefer to face these people alone and carry the burden, for it is my journey and horrible situation. Maybe there is a good break and clearance in the future, maybe. If not, there are billions of people suffering much much worse injustice and experiences than I am. That's what our struggle is all about."

"I was denied 2 more years. Some lady D.A. from Marin County was present to speak about the S.Q. 1971 incident, how bad I am, even tho we never met, and why i shouldn't be released. It's really fucked up, you know, how the deck is stacked up against Ru and I....

"When things got explosively ugly in the late 60's and early 70's they got that way because some people dared to stand up and speak out, and dared care for our people, and that's not a crime.

"I know that this is all part of their break me down process, but they won't succeed, no.....we're still alive and we must keep doing it right, for everyone, and for the main goals."

Yogi is referring to Ruchell Cinque Magee (A92051), the sole survivor of the Marin Courthouse Rebellion of August 7, 1970. It's really a trip how history gets rewritten. I vividly recall that day simply because the photographed images of four Black revolutionaries with guns and hostages leaving Marin County Courthouse hit front pages everywhere and stunned the world. Minutes later, San Quentin prison guards arrived in time to shoot up the waiting van with absolutely no regard for human lives. Ruchell was the only rebel to survive his wounds and lay unconscious. The judge died, the prosecutor is paralyzed, and Angela Davis was tried and acquitted for legally purchasing her young body guard's guns (Jonathan Jackson was protecting her as they both campaigned to free the Soledad Brothers.) -- but not until they had subjected Davis to their terror tactics and two years in prison.

Ruchell continues to fight from a cell in Corcoran. Illegally incarcerated in the first place, this astute jailhouse lawyer has filed writs and petitions redressing that false conviction in addition to trying to prove by law that he should have been released a long time ago. I get confused sometimes, as to the amount of time Ruchell and Yogi are doing. I know that Yogi began his time in '65 and Ru in '63. That they will both refuse forever to surrender their dignity or snitch.

The truth of the matter is, under the current fascist arrangement, police, FBI, CIA, et al, are in the process of tracking down all dissidents. The most recent example is that of Fred Hilton, now Kamau Sidiki, a former Panther, railroaded back to prison for life on a 30-year-old reopened case.

"Enemy Combatant" is the new category allowing them to "legally" do anything they want to and get away with it. Take the case of Jose Padilla of Detroit being detained indefinitely without charge or access to a lawyer, an American citizen seized in a civilian setting in the U.S. and held incommunicado. Clearly, our civil rights have gone down the tubes.

Marilyn Buck was given a 15-year hit. Jamil Al-Amin (H.Rap Brown), Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal just had their latest appeals denied. Herman Bell has done 32 years in New York and just got denied again. All having stellar prison records. Herman, who had 151 letters of support, obtained a bachelor's and master's degree inside, tutored, coached, created and mentored the Victory Gardens Project teaching folks how to grow their own organic produce and deliver it free to urban communities. An elder political prisoner, Mohmaman Koti, 76 and suffering serious health problems, was also denied parole.

Seth Hayes, Sundiata Acoli and Jalil Muntaqim go to board shortly. I hope they have your strong support. Seth has diabetes and hepatitis C and lacks adequate health care and we worry he won't survive much longer incarceration.

In a wonderful card received just days ago, Sundiata writes: "Give Hugo and Ruchell my best and I hope they make it. Naturally, I hope like hell I make it too....Release!"

And the beat goes on -- with too many cases of grossly disproportionate and totally inhumane treatment -- unfair, illegal incarceration of brothers and sisters whose crimes were to resist oppression and stand up for what they believed in -- namely justice, equality, human dignity and self-determination.

We are witnessing an unprecedented period of evil empire and all its consequent terror and genocide, including the illegal and brutal occupations of Afghanistan,Haiti, Iraq, and Palestine where they shoot children, don't they?

The same brutalities and tortures experienced by prisoners right here are being meted out to prisoners in all the above occupied nations where they have literally transferred abusive "Corrections" officials to run prisons like Iraq's Abu Ghraib. Take Lane McCotter, e.g., forced to resign as executive of a private prison company after a mentally ill inmate died when guards left him shackled naked to a restraining chair for 16 hours. He was dispatched by John Ashcroft to head a team of Americans to reopen Iraq's prisons. More proof they knew exactly what they were doing; they've been doing it a long time.

We have a choice. We can stand by and do nothing and let it get worse (because it will, you know). Or we can choose to take a stand and do something. I love the line in Bunchy Carter's poem,"Do something, niggah, if you only spit."

George Jackson wrote:

"Freedom means warmth and protection against harsh exposure to the elements. It means food, not garbage. It means truth, harmony, and the social relations that spring from these. It means the best medical attention whenever it's needed. It means employment that is reasonable, that coincides with the individuals' necessities and feelings. We will have this freedom even at the cost of total war."

For more information on political prisoners, esp. Sundiata Acoli, go to