US: Former Political Prisoners support current prisoners’ move to end racial/factional fights

San Quentin 3 declare solidarity with prisoners’ agreement to end hostilities

Source: San Francisco Bayview, December 1, 2012

by Sundiata Tate, Bato Talamantez and Giappa Johnson – three of the San Quentin 6

We strongly support the statement issued by the Pelican Bay prison Short Corridor Collective calling for the end of racial and factional hostilities inside California prisons and in county jails. We believe that this along with our struggle for human rights is a most righteous cause which will have a tremendous impact on changing the perception that the Security Housing Units (SHUs) house only the worst of the worst.

[Photo: Sundiata Tate, Bato Talamantez and Giappa Johnson attend Geronimo Day, marking the 40th anniversary of Comrade George Jackson’s assassination at San Quentin Prison, on Aug. 21, 1971. The commemoration, which drew a large crowd, was held at Eastside Arts Alliance, Oakland, on Aug. 21, 2011. After 40 years of solidarity and struggle, they say, la luta continua. – Photo: Sue Acevedo]

The truth is that the SHUs are filled with those who have transformed themselves into socially conscious men and women who desire to live more productive and constructive lives while working to bring an end to their tortuous living conditions. These comrades who have issued the agreement to end hostilities demonstrate their commitment to changing not only their conditions but themselves. Furthermore, they seek to change how prisoners are treated and how prisons are currently run.

We encourage all prisoners everywhere to better understand the vile system that has entrapped them, that works to break them down and defeat the struggle for self-respect, dignity and a “say” in prison conditions that affect us all. This is an unjust prison system that continues to punish and inflict cruelty and torture while at the same time vilifying prisoners as animals who are unfit for better treatment.

This is no place for human beings to be put in, and those who find themselves trapped in these places cannot remain silent. If you don’t holler loud enough, no one will hear you!

These comrades who have issued the agreement to end hostilities demonstrate their commitment to changing not only their conditions but themselves. Furthermore, they seek to change how prisoners are treated and how prisons are currently run. Continue reading

New York: For 40 years, the Attica Prison Rebellion still demands justice for prisoners

September 8, 2011

The Lingering Injustice of Attica

By HEATHER ANN THOMPSON, in an op-ed opinion column in the New York Times

FORTY years ago today, more than 1,000 inmates at Attica Correctional Facility began a major civil and human rights protest — an uprising that is barely mentioned in textbooks but nevertheless was one of the most important rebellions in American history.

A forbidding institution that opened in 1931, Attica, roughly midway between Buffalo and Rochester, was overcrowded and governed by rigid and often capricious penal practices.

The guards were white men from small towns in upstate New York; the prisoners were mostly urban African-Americans and Puerto Ricans. They wanted decent medical care so that an inmate like Angel Martinez, 21, could receive treatment for his debilitating polio. They wanted more humane parole so that a man like L. D. Barkley, also 21, wouldn’t be locked up in a maximum security facility like Attica for driving without a license. They also wanted less discriminatory policies so that black inmates like Richard X. Clark wouldn’t be given the worst jobs, while white prisoners were given the best. These men first tried writing to state officials, but their pleas for reform were largely ignored. Eventually, they erupted.

Over five days, Americans sat glued to their televisions as this uprising unfolded. They watched in surprise as inmates elected representatives from each cellblock to negotiate on their behalf. They watched in disbelief as these same inmates protected the guards and civilian employees they had taken hostage. Continue reading