[Almost all bourgeois media depictions of the Black Panthers have been highly sensationalized, racist, and scarified, designed for bewildered viewers to dismiss. Some have had a more sympathetic, even empathetic, edge, though usually told in terms that say, “that’s in the past, it won’t happen again.” But this review connects this new film with its relevance today in a society riveted and outraged by the everyday, country-wide, routine police killings of blacks. — Frontlines ed.]
[The movement and struggles of prison activists has played a major, even central, role in the social movements in the US. But it has not often been recognized or embraced by many other activists and movements which, led by liberal reformists and organizations, avoid the injustices and enslavements of the “criminal justice” system. Prison organizers, political prisoners, and prisoners as a whole have played a huge role in social movements in the US (and in most countries throughout the world, as seen from Ireland to Palestine, South Africa to India, Peru to China). But in the US, the role has been magnified by the mass incarceration of millions, whose pathways and influences in an out of prison have multiplied as a result. This book review traces recent writing on the roots and links of the prison movement. — Frontlines ed].
A Hidden Legacy of the Civil Rights Era
by JAMES KILGORE, Counterpunch
Dan Berger’s latest volume, Captive Nation, is perfectly timed. In a moment where interest in mass incarceration across the political spectrum is on the rise, sanitized versions of carceral history will doubtless emerge. Berger’s account offers an instant antidote to any such efforts. He warns us we will be negating a long history of righteous rebellions of the oppressed if we opt for quick fix policy packages that do not address the inequalities underlying the rapid growth of incarceration.
Berger’s personal profile as an historian casts him in a unique position to tell his tale. He represents a bridge between the praxis of the 60s and 70s and today’s decarceration campaigners. Back in the day, activists connected to those in prison by striking up extensive correspondence via snail mail and making in person visits. In this age of digital communication, Berger has stepped back in time and used those old “analog” methods to establish relationships with a number of those still incarcerated for their activities in that era, people such as Veronza Bower, Sundiata Acoli, Jalil Muntaqim (also known as Anthony Bottom) and David Gilbert. These relationships were key to Berger’s framing of the stories he tells as well as his analysis.
Prison Intellectual Culture: The Case of George Jackson
Two things particularly struck me as I read Captive Nation. The first was the amazing radical intellectual culture that emerged in prisons during this period, a culture, I should add, that appeared almost totally absent in the federal and state prisons where I resided from 2002-09. Berger’s depictions of the richness of political debate and the eagerness of people inside to connect prison resistance to the Black liberation struggle and other movements of the era, were staggering. The politics of the rebels/revolutionaries Berger describes were not mere legal maneuverings aimed at overturning individual cases or re-doing legislation. Rather, they aimed to depict and contest the political economy and ideological foundations of a “system.”
[4/3 UPDATE: Abu-Jamal has reportedly been moved by the Dept. of Prisons back to SCI-Mahoney’s infirmary, where there is no specialist on diabetes, despite his apparently still being in an acute health crisis. Sigificantly, his supporters note that this shift makes it even more difficult for family members, supporters and reporters to monitor his treatment and condition.To help Mumia immediate action must be taken. You can help by Calling Pennsylvanian Department of Correction Director of Health Care Services Richard Ellers at 717-728-5311 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and express your concern for Mumia’s medical treatment. You can also call SCI Mahoney Pennsylvanian Department of Correction Superintendent John Kereste at 570-773-2158, to express your concern. Take action now to help save Mumia’s life!]
Pennsylvania’s Prison System is Torturing Mumia Abu-Jamal and His Family Too
Mumia Abu-Jamal, the radical Philadelphia journalist convicted of killing a white Philadelphia police officer in a trial fraught with prosecutorial misconduct, witness coaching and judicial prejudice back in 1981, spent nearly three decades in solitary confinement in the deliberately designed hell of Pennsylvania’s supermax SCI Green prison before a panel of federal Appeals Court judges eventually ruled that he’d been unconstitutionally sentenced to death.
He, of course, received no apology for the state’s making him illegally and improperly spend all those years in solitary waiting to be wrongfully executed. Instead, with that ruling (after a few years of legal stalling by the Philadelphia district attorney’s office), he was simply switched over to a sentence of life without possibility of parole and moved to the SCI-Mahoney prison in central Pennsylvania.
Now, it appears the state, which lost its chance to execute him, may be trying to kill him another way, as word comes that this world-renowned political prisoner had to be rushed to the hospital this week, unconscious from an undiagnosed case of severe diabetes.
Weekly News Update on the Americas, December 9, 2014
Hundreds of Mexican immigrants and other activists held actions in at least 47 US towns and cities on Dec. 3 to protest the abduction of 43 teachers’ college students by police and gang members in Mexico’s Guerrero state in September; each of the 43 students had one of the actions dedicated to him.
The protests were organized by UStired2, a group taking its name from #YaMeCansé (“I’m tired now,” or “I’ve had it”), a Mexican hashtag used in response to the violence against the students, who attended the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in the Guerrero town of Ayotzinapa. The protesters focused on US government financing for the Mexican government—especially funding for the “war on drugs” through the 2008 Mérida Initiative—but they also expressed outrage over the US court system’s failure to indict US police agents in two recent police killings of unarmed African Americans. Continue reading
by THANDISIZWE CHIMURENGA, Counterpunch
It’s kind of fitting that police officers Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, murderers of Mike Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York, were cleared of criminal wrong-doing in the last several weeks. The eruption of protest, activism and organizing in response to the (bad) decisions of legal bodies to not hold these officers accountable for their crimes has occurred at a time of special significance for the legacy of the Black Panther Party (BPP).
October 15th saw the 48th anniversary of the birth of the BPP in Oakland, CA. Originally named the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, the BPP had a self-defense strategy against the brutal terror of the police. The strategy unashamedly and unapologetically maintained that Black people have human rights that are to be respected, including the right of armed self-defense, and BPP members had a right to intervene with those arms if necessary when law enforcement – those touted as the ones whose job was allegedly to protect and serve – violated those rights. In Los Angeles, the month of October also saw the deaths of Ronald and Roland Freeman, brothers who were co-founders and leading members of the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party. Ronald and Roland, who were born one year apart and died one week apart, were also survivors of the Dec. 8, 1969 shootout with the Los Angeles Police Department’s SWAT team on 41st Street and Central Avenue. The pre-dawn attack, the SWAT team’s first major engagement, lasted 5 hours and saw 13 members of the BPP stand trial for attempted murder of police officers. All 13 of the Panthers would eventually be acquitted of all charges in December, 1971 due to the illegal actions of the LAPD.
TODAY in ELOY: #Not1More #Shutdown Ice Protest
Latino Rebels Latino Rebels
Published on Oct 14, 2013
Today at the Eloy Detention Center, protesters called for an end to deportations and a push to shutdown ICE.
October 14, 2013–Just now, protestors chained themselves in front of the Eloy Detention Center. Their action calls on the President to stop deportations and the criminalization of immigrants. Through civil disobedience they say they’re exposing the inhumane imprisonment at the center of current immigration policy and the needless warehousing of the undocumented who could benefit from reform.
Many of those inside Eloy have committed no major offense and instead are victims of Congress’ 34,000 minimum detention bed mandate and the profiling of Sheriffs like Arpaio and Border Patrol required to fulfill the arbitrary quota.
One of the protestors, 16 year old Sandy Estrada of Phoenix, AZ, whose brother has been detained in Eloy for nearly a year after being arrested on work-related charges, says, “I’m doing this to show my brother and all the other people inside that we support them and we will do what it takes to get them out. I want the President to know that everyone deserves to be with their families and that he can stop our pain.” Continue reading