The nation’s best known political prisoner, Mumia Abu Jamal, says all of Pennsylania’s incarcerated population has been on 23 hour, 15 minute daily lockdown since the beginning of the health emergency. “That’s how it was on death row and solitary confinement – now it’s like that all around,” said Abu Jamal. In much of the country outside the prison walls, “People are getting a taste of what it’s like to be incarcerated.”
Tag: death row
Bomani Shakur’s life matters
In the year of 2020 an army of young white, Black, Asian, Arab, Latinx and First Nation activists have teamed up with us and many others in order to save the life of Bomani Shakur. BOMANI SHAKUR’S LIFE MATTERS!
Murdering Black men has become a favorite pastime for the authorities in states such as Ohio, Texas, Georgia and Alabama. We hear politicians like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker telling us that Joe Biden is the presidential candidate for all the people!
Ok! If that is true, then we say to Joe Biden, show us some love! Advocate for the life of Bomani Shakur! Nevertheless, my confidence and hope does not rest with politicians, who continue to mislead us and spout lies and false promises.
My confidence and hope rests with THE PEOPLE! In the month of April 2020 I strongly encourage everyone to support our solidarity actions which seek to save the life of this remarkable human being known as Bomani Shakur.
We implore you to join activists and freedom fighters of all races and genders all across the United States and Europe as we DEMAND that the state of Ohio halt its pursuit of the death penalty against another innocent Black man here in Amerika! BOMANI SHAKUR’S LIFE MATTERS!
His life is worth saving! This is a movement and not just a moment in time.
End Prison Slavery in Amerika! Liberate the Caged Voices! Incarcerated workers, never give up!
Dare to struggle, Dare to win, ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
April: A month of action for Bomani Shakur
by the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement
“Shakur is best known for the 1993 Lucasville Uprising, a rebellion inside the walls of an Ohio prison against tyranny and harsh conditions.”
This April, 2020, we invite you to participate in a month of actions and events for comrade Bomani Shakur.
Bomani Shakur has been showering our world with beautiful gifts. His words and actions haven’t missed a beat in elevating those he knows and even those he has never met. His voice and his words came to be widely recognized when he was unjustly persecuted after the 1993 Lucasville Uprising, a rebellion inside the walls of an Ohio prison against tyranny and harsh conditions.
In the aftermath, Bomani was falsely accused of having murdered prisoners and having “led a death squad.” No physical evidence connects him to the murders that took place when the prison in Lucasville was in uprising.
The verdict itself only came about due to forced testimony by a prisoner turned snitch. In 2004 Bomani wrote a book called “Condemned” to highlight his life and the truth about what happened.
Prisoners organizing, confronting their oppressor and the organizers being attacked by the state as retaliation is nothing new. In 1971 prisoners in San Quentin, California, revolted.
George Jackson was killed and Hugo Pinell would spend the following 44 years in California’s harshest prisons only to be stabbed to death in 2015 by white supremacists. It’s important to recognize that prisoners stand up, organize and are attacked by the state for it. In response, the prisoner strikes back by persevering, surviving and continuing to build with fellow prisoners and those of us on this side of the wall.
As we see with letters, articles or the book Bomani wrote, the message carried by his words have touched people inside and out and spread far. How could a man sitting on death row, his execution date only three years away, be the source of so much kindness and inspiration?
It is because, as he says, this situation is much bigger than him. This is about the entire movement.
The fact that the state has set Bomani Shakur’s date of execution is not a moment of tragedy or for despair, but a moment to build from, and to be moved to action.
It is about how we come together, learn how to work together, and prepare to rescind the power of those who run the most efficient life destroying machine: the prison system.
He is clear how this works on his end: He’s not interested in allowing others to characterize him as unsuccessful, as a victim. He doesn’t want activists crowding around, showing pity.
It is not for them to decide who he is and if he is successful. Success has already begun the day you decide to get up and do something about the situation. He is looking for collaborators, people who understand and want to struggle together.
This is where we come in. The fact that the state has set Bomani Shakur’s date of execution is not a moment of tragedy or for despair, but a moment to build from, and to be moved to action.
This is how we follow his excellent example and this is how we turn this situation against the state. Their system thrives off despair. We will build our bonds of solidarity, lines of communication, respectful dialogue and comradely exchange.
We will amplify the words of Bomani Shakur and become an impenetrable and intractable force – a force for life, a force for comradeship. We will be as kind and accepting to our comrades and those hunted by the state as we are dangerous to and unrelenting against the prisons.
We begin with April, a month of solidarity actions with Bomani. Please join in this initiative by:
- holding a letter writing event,
- screening the movie about the Lucasville uprising,
- putting up posters,
- posting about it on social media,
- hanging banners,
- inviting Bomani to do a call-in event with you and your comrades, or
- any other action or event that raises his profile and builds the kind of movement that is a reflection of his steadfastness and generosity.
April is the anniversary month of the Lucasville prison uprising, a powerful decision to stand up and reclaim a life of dignity and an example of the power of unity among prisoners. This month is to raise awareness about Bomani and his contributions, and by doing so, to build stronger connections with one another, and with comrades inside.
Join together with us and carry forward Bomani’s strength and spirit!
From your comrades in
Blue Ridge ABC
NYC Anarchist Black Cross
Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement
Salish Sea Black Autonomists
Page One Collective
To sign on to this call, message firstname.lastname@example.org.
Poster to download: Bomani Poster
Zine for printing: Bomani Zine
The movie “The Shadow of Lucasville”: https://vimeo.com/73858846
Zines about Lucasville:
Bomani’s book: https://www.keithlamar.org/condemned
Articles by Bomani:
To learn more about the 1971 San Quentin uprising: https://nycabc.wordpress.com/2015/08/13/rest-in-power-hugo-pinell
Send our brother some love and light: Keith LaMar, 317-117, OSP, 878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road, Youngstown, OH, 44505.
source:Bomani Shakur’s life matters
Death Row inmate Kevin Cooper fights for his innocence
By DON HARMON
Since 1983, African American Kevin Cooper has been incarcerated on Death Row at California’s San Quentin State Prison. Wrongfully convicted during a nationally-covered racist frame-up trial in San Bernardino County, Cooper came within hours of being executed in 2004. But thanks to a broad movement demanding justice and freedom and ever-mounting evidence of innocence, a ruling by the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals stayed his execution, literally at the midnight hour. Cooper has for decades become a leading social justice fighter and an opponent of the death penalty.
Stretching over decades, Cooper’s case has been repeatedly exposed as rife with overt corruption, gross incompetence and racial bias. As followers of American history will note, African Americans are often subjected to the full weight of this nation’s racist and classist criminal injustice system. The details of Kevin Cooper’s case fully illustrate this ugly tradition; despite all evidence to the contrary, the “blame it on the Black guy” thesis has been fully operative.
Now, in January 2020, Cooper’s attorney, Norman C. Hile of the prestigious Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe global law firm, sent a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom requesting that the Governor’s office order a “complete innocence investigation.” Previously, Governor Newsom ordered a stay of all further executions in California and in so doing, granted a reprieve to Cooper.
Attorney Hile’s letter summarizes the key facts proving that Kevin Cooper is innocent of the brutal 1983 Ryen-Hughes murders in Chino Hills, California. [For a detailed expose´ of the Cooper case see: Scapegoat: The Chino Hills Murders and the Framing of Kevin Cooper by J. Patrick Cooper.]
The recent Governor Newsom-ordered DNA testing on a tan t-shirt and orange towel – items found at the murder scene – according to the initial report, do not match Cooper’s DNA. None of the hairs from the victims’ hands, according to this report, came from an African American.
Most egregiously, a vial of Kevin Cooper’s blood, taken in 1983, has been shown to be contaminated with other blood. And a second blood vial of Cooper’s blood is missing. These blood vials point to either mishandling of evidence or deliberate efforts to frame Cooper for the murders. For many years the prosecution denied DNA testing that certainly would have resulted in a new trial and proof of Cooper’s innocence.
Review of Kevin Cooper’s case
Shortly after the 1983 murders of the Ryen family and neighbor Christopher Hughes, three persons were seen driving away from the Ryen home in a car that looked like the Ryen station wagon. Josh Ryen, whose life was saved at the hospital, identified his attackers as three white or Mexican males. When Josh Ryen saw Cooper’s mug shot on the television news, he said that Cooper was not one of the killers.
The attorney’s letter states that there is now testimony from three persons to whom Eugene Leland Furrow confessed that he was responsible for the murders. Back in 1983, Diane Roper, then Furrow’s girlfriend, turned over to police coveralls covered in blood. Those bloody coveralls are now missing.
One of the key witnesses testified that Furrow confessed to participating in the murders and that Furrow was seen by this witness wearing a tan t-shirt that matched the one with Doug Ryen’s blood on it. Also, this witness asserted that Furrow arrived at the Furrow/Roper residence in a station wagon that matches the Ryen’s stolen vehicle.
There is further evidence of the corruption flooding over the Cooper case. One of the prosecution’s forensic experts, William Baird, was fired because he was found stealing heroin from various state evidence lockers. Similarly, San Bernardino County Sheriff Floyd Tidwell, also involved in the Cooper case, was convicted on felony charges of stealing hundreds of guns from evidence lockers over a period of years.
Quoting from the Hile letter: “First, according to a study published by the National Registry of Exonerations, a majority of exonerations over the past 30 years have come about not through DNA testing, as effective as that can be, but from innocence emerging through other, non-DNA factors. According to this study, there have been five times as many exonerations from non-DNA factors as from DNA testing. These non-DNA factors include, as here, (1) confessions from the actual perpetrators, (2) the discovery that “junk science” was used to obtain a wrongful conviction, and (3) that the prosecution offered perjured testimony from jailhouse snitches. Those cases also display rampant racial bias in prosecution, faulty eye-witness testimony, withholding and destroying exculpatory evidence, and ineffective assistance of defense counsel. Mr. Cooper has already shown that the prosecution presented false “snitch” testimony, relied on “junk science” and ran an investigation that was improperly driven by racism.
In addition, Mr. Cooper has shown that the prosecution presented perjured testimony and destroyed exonerating evidence, and that his defense counsel was profoundly ineffective.”
The attorney’s letter concludes that in light of this ongoing corruption, new evidence and racism, Governor Newsom should order a complete and thorough innocence investigation to expose this wrongdoing and prevent this from happening to anyone else. For further information on Kevin Cooper, see this 2018 article in Socialist Action.
source: Death Row inmate Kevin Cooper fights for his innocence
BREAKING (NON-) NEWS: Attention, Mumia! No Reading (About the Young Lords Party) Allowed!
Why could Mumia Abu-Jamal receive books on Death Row in the 1980s, 1990s and 00s but is severely restricted in his ability to receive books in 2020, even though he is in general population?
In the Acknowledgements section of Johanna Fernandez’s new book, The Young Lords: A Radical History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press), just released this week, the author wrote that Pennsylvania Prison authorities denied Abu-Jamal from reading and commenting on the final manuscript.
Although she sent it to him care of SCI Mahanoy, the state prison he has resided in since leaving Death Row in 2011, “the prison authorities thought otherwise. I sent it to him in the weeks before the prisoners’ strikes of the summer of 2018, but prison authorities rejected it as a security risk.”
Hunger strikes and work stoppages occurred in prisons across the country in August of 2018 after prisoners rebelled in South Carolina. Seven inmates were killed in one of the most violent prison outbreaks in America in the last 25 years.
The rebellion was partly in commemoration of George Jackson, a renowned revolutionary theorist and activist who was killed in prison in August of 1971. Jackson, a leader of, and organizer for, the Black Panther Party in prison, wrote two books, Soledad Brother and Blood In My Eye, which in the last 50 years have become classics for radical thinkers and Left activists. The author of more than ten works of essays and works of radical history, Abu-Jamal is considered by many on the Left as a post-modern heir to Jackson.
And perhaps that is the problem. “Since those strikes,” Fernandez wrote, “the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has turned correspondence with prisoners into a labyrinthine operation and made the mailing of a manuscript nearly impossible.”
The action by prison authorities is just the latest against Abu-Jamal, who has had to fight for his First Amendment “writes” from prison since his 1982 murder conviction. In 1995, he was placed in solitary confinement while awaiting his scheduled, and eventually postponed, August 17 execution for writing his first book, Live From Death Row. He was placed in solitary, prison officials said, for engaging in business. In 1996, state authorities banned cameras in prison after Abu-Jamal was recorded for Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Case of Reasonable Doubt?, a documentary that aired on HBO. In 1999, prison officials pulled the public phone out of a wall to stop him from delivering live commentaries on the Leftist newsmagazine Democracy Now!
Since that time to the present, state authorities—including state legislators—have tried repeatedly to restrict his freedom to write books, broadcast commentaries and deliver recorded graduation speeches to progressive colleges. They historically have also attempted to ban any material—pens, pads, and other recording devices—visitors might use in prison in order to limit traditional journalistic and scholarly access to him.
Since 2011, Abu-Jamal—who had written all of his books on Death Row by hand using the cartilage of an ink pen and later by a special typewriter/computer hybrid designed for prisoners—has been off of Death Row and in general population, where he can physically meet visitors and take pictures with them. He continues to record commentaries via Prison Radio.
The subject of Fernandez’s book is close to Abu-Jamal’s Black Panther heart. It chronicles the history of the Young Lords Party (also known as the Young Lords Organization), one of the many groups of young radicals who were inspired by the Black Panther Party of Self-Defense. The Young Lords operated primarily out of New York and Chicago, and the author focuses on the creation, activities, and ideology of the New York chapter.
The Young Lords: A Radical History goes into painstaking detail on the history and development of the radical group, focusing on their practical approach to public problems that affected Puerto Rican communities in New York City. Together, the Party members confronted the institutional racism Latinos faced under New York City Mayor John Lindsay.
Like the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords Organization had a breakfast program, political education classes, and a national newspaper. Like the BPP, it also had a platform-and-program list:
- We want self-determination for Puerto Ricans—Liberation on the island and inside the United States.
- We want self-determination for all Latinos.
- We want liberation for all third world people.
- We are revolutionary nationalists and oppose racism.
- We want community control of our institutions and land.
- We want true education of our creole culture.
- We oppose capitalists and alliances with traitors.
- We oppose the amerikkkan military.
- We want freedom for all political prisoners.
- We want equality for women. Machismo must be revolutionary … not oppressive.
- We fight anti-Communism with international unity.
- We believe armed self-defense and armed struggle are the only means to liberation.
- We want a socialist society.
But although the Young Lords were trained in both revolutionary nationalism (Third World Marxism) and self-defense, the Party’s emphasis was not on firearms and open confrontation with the police, but community programs.
The YLO is most known for its two-week takeover of East Harlem’s First Spanish United Methodist Church in late 1969 in an attempt to force the church to be more responsive to its community. More than 100 Young Lords were arrested, but there was no violence.
“In their determination to stoke revolution among Puerto Ricans and other communities of color,” wrote Fernandez, a City University of New York assistant professor, “these radicals transformed the building into a staging ground for their vision of a just society.” The action “gave concrete expression for growing calls for community control of local institutions in poor urban neighborhoods.”
In the half-century since the occupation, many Party members became prominent activists and journalists in New York City. They include Juan Gonzalez, the former New York Daily News investigative columnist and current co-host of Democracy Now!, Pablo Guzman, who was one of the first hosts of then Black-news and -talk 1190 WLIB-AM before becoming an Emmy-Award-winning local television reporter, and Felipe Luciano, who was also a member of the Black nationalist performing group The Last Poets before morphing into a radio and television broadcaster and communication strategist. A young bi-racial lawyer for the YLO, Gerald Riveria, began using a more Latino-sounding name when he became a 1970s star in local broadcast journalism—Geraldo Rivera.
Fernandez was a leader in the successful protests to get Abu-Jamal the medical care he needed to cure his Hepatitis C in 2017. Decades after attempting to implement a 1983 death penalty sentence after a controversial trial for the shooting death of a white Philadelphia police officer in late 1981, months of institutional medical neglect by Mahanoy had threatened to permanently silence the world-renowned writer, by then an international symbol of the radical Left and an elder in radical letters.
In the book, Fernandez said she first met Abu-Jamal when he was still on Death Row. While turning her Columbia University doctoral dissertation on the Young Lords Party into a book, she was encouraged by colleagues to visit and talk to Abu-Jamal, who was a member of the Philadelphia BPP branch and the author of a BPP history, We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party.
Back then, he was on Death Row in SCI Greene, “the supermax prison in Western Pennsylvania.” She recalled:
“Within two months, I was in a tiny enclosed room, talking intensely to Mumia behind a plexiglass window. Our conversations centered on uncovering the root of a problem. In hundreds of hours of discussion spanning many years, interrupted only by the annoying clank of prison gate signaling the end of each visit, we explored the broader history of the sixties and the fifty years of conservative reaction that followed.”
Abu-Jamal would eventually allow Fernandez to compile his decades of writings on criminal justice into a 2015 collection, Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal (San Francisco: City Lights Open Media). Fernandez is the only person to co-edit Abu-Jamal’s collected work other than Prison Radio’s Noelle Hanrahan, the woman who has recorded and distributed Abu-Jamal’s radio commentaries for nearly 30 years.
Wrote Fernandez: “In the movement to free Mumia, I found my political family…..My mind and life have been profoundly enriched by having Mumia as a colleague, collaborator, and friend.”
Spotlight: Kevin Cooper’s case exemplifies decades of systemic failures
Kevin Cooper’s name has been in the papers in recent weeks, as it has been on and off for 35 years. This time, it was because Kim Kardashian visited him in prison, part of her advocacy for those she believes were wrongly convicted.
Cooper was sentenced to death for the hacking murders of Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old neighbor. The Ryens’ 8-year-old son, Josh, survived his throat being slashed.
A reality show star is among Cooper’s best hopes for exoneration, and the media is generally focusing not on the case, but on backlash against her. These are only the two most recent examples of how Cooper’s case exemplifies so much that is wrong with our system. Since his 1983 arrest, Cooper’s treatment has exposed one systemic failure after another.
Cooper describes his childhood as abusive and troubled. His first involvement with the system was at age 7, after he ran away from his adoptive family to escape beatings. He turned to shoplifting and marijuana use, ending up in juvenile detention.
In his mid-20s, Cooper was sentenced to four years for burglary, but he wasn’t sent to an ordinary prison. He was sent to the California Institution for Men, in Chino, which, despite the conformist name, was founded in 1941 as an experiment in prison reform. It was built to alleviate overcrowding, violence and oppression in California’s other prisons, which newspapers described as “powder kegs ready to explode.”
The man hired to imagine this new system was Kenyon J. Scudder, a veteran penologist who had ideas for how to improve the prison system he saw as archaic and inhumane. Under Scudder, the institution, nicknamed Chino, was rooted in the idea that “prisoners are people,” and it sought to treat those incarcerated with dignity.
Chino’s first class of 34 prisoners included those with convictions for minor offenses along with those who were convicted for violent crimes. Chino didn’t use terms like “warden” or “guards.” Scudder was the “superintendent,” and his guards were “supervisors,” mostly college-educated people who had never before worked in prisons. This was to avoid any punitive mindsets.
Scudder de-emphasized security and weapons, and trained his staff in conflict resolution. Prisoners chose their own clothing and their own jobs. Their cells were not locked, and instead of a 25-foot wall with gun towers, as was suggested, Scudder built only a five-strand barbed-wire fence.
He encouraged loved ones to visit, permitting physical contact, and he refused to segregate on racial lines. Today, this kind of prison would be considered a quixotic dream.
“For a brief period of time, it seemed that other prisons around the world would follow Chino’s lead,” write Emily Nagisa Keehn and Dana Walters of the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School. “In the early 1950s, prison experts at the International Penal and Penitentiary Congress agreed that open prisons should eventually replace traditional cell-based prisons for nearly all types of [prisoners].”
In 1955, a United Nations resolution echoed the sentiment. But Chino eventually morphed into a traditional maximum security prison. Several factors doomed Scudder’s vision, all part of the tough-on-crime movement, but one high-profile escape was particularly damaging to the model: In 1983, Kevin Cooper walked out of the prison a day after arriving, and was soon the lead suspect in four gruesome murders.
It makes no sense – morally, financially, or logically – to ignore the good of any given endeavor because one person abused it. But what happened in Chino is part of a pattern wherein politicians act cowardly and walk away from progressive and promising models, usually at the expense of the least enfranchised.
The system was not done exposing its worst in Cooper’s case. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote an exhaustive and devastating column detailing the evidence indicating that Cooper was framed by law enforcement for the murders. “In 1983, four people were murdered in a home in Chino Hills, California,” he begins. “The sole survivor of the attack said three white intruders had committed the murders. Then a woman told the police that her boyfriend, a white convicted murderer, was probably involved, and she gave deputies his bloody coveralls. So here’s what sheriff’s deputies did: They threw away the bloody coveralls and arrested a young Black man named Kevin Cooper.”
As in so many cases, Cooper’s trial was, to put it mildly, racially charged. One man brought a noose around a stuffed gorilla to a hearing. According to Cooper’s current lawyer, “He didn’t have a half-decent defense.” The crime was high profile and law enforcement was under pressure to punish someone.
Kristof dispatches with the evidence against Cooper by exposing law enforcement negligence, such as when the district attorney shut down the on-scene investigation “for fear, he said, of gathering so much evidence that defense experts could spin complicated theories.” Kristof also exposes probable lies, like when a deputy suspected of planting evidence claimed not to have entered the room where the evidence was found, but his fingerprints were found there.
Various judges have concluded that Cooper was framed. Kristof notes that the bloody coveralls were not the only evidence pointing to a different culprit, but it was all ignored.
Cooper also faced politicians who cared more about saving face than saving the life of a possibly innocent person. Kamala Harris, as district attorney of California, refused to permit advanced DNA testing that could have exonerated Cooper. It was only after Kristof’s column was widely shared, and Harris was no longer in a position to help, that she reversed her position.
Former Gov. Jerry Brown waited until the very end of his term to finally order new DNA testing, but, as the Los Angeles Times reported, he “inexplicably stopped short of ordering all the testing needed.” Shortly after Gavin Newsom took office as governor, he ordered additional DNA testing. The results are pending.
Not everyone caught in the criminal legal system prompts backsliding on reform, and not everyone is hit with high-profile murder charges. Not everyone is framed. And very few have Kim Kardashian fighting for them.
But plenty of people have been railroaded because of their race, their class or their education. And plenty of people have been disbelieved because law enforcement says otherwise, regardless of how implausible the police story is. Plenty have faced arbitrary refusals of those in power to get to the truth. And a tremendous number have suffered because politicians rolled back reforms after isolated incidents of abuse. Cooper understands all this.
“I don’t have any confidence,” he told Kristof. “I don’t believe in the system.” Cooper believes that the criminal legal system is unfair to poor people and non-white people. “I’m frameable, because I’m an uneducated Black man in America,” he said. “Sometimes it’s race, and sometimes it’s class.” He is writing a memoir. “That’s my motivating factor to get out of here, to tell my story and tell the truth about this rotten-a** system,” he said.
Troy Anthony Davis should not be dead
October 10, 2011
by Malaika Kambon
In the shadow of evil
Troy Anthony Davis shouldn’t be dead. But on Sept. 21, 2011, at 11:08 p.m. ET, the candle flame of his brilliant, strong and beautiful physical life was snuffed out in the bloody hands of a state sanctioned illegal lynching.
George Junius Stinney Jr. was born on Oct. 21, 1929. He should be nearing his 82nd birthday, bouncing grandbabies and great grandbabies on his knee, surrounded by family and friends.
But he was murdered in South Carolina’s electric chair on June 16, 1944, for allegedly confessing to the brutal beating of two white girls, 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and 8-year-old Mary Emma Thames.
Stinney was Black, 14 years old, 5 feet 1 inch tall and weighed a bit over 90 pounds when he was lynched.
His trial – from jury selection to death sentence – lasted exactly one day. He had exactly 81 days of life from the time of his March 23, 1944, arrest to his murder at 7:30 p.m. on June 16, 1944.
There are no written records of any confession. Stinney’s court appointed attorney was a tax commissioner preparing to run for office. No one challenged the sheriff’s testimony. No appeals were filed on Stinney’s behalf. No Blacks were allowed in the courtroom much less on the jury. Stinney’s father was fired from his job and his parents were run out of town just one short step ahead of lynch mob violence.
In George Stinney’s case there is no official court transcript of the trial, and the official records of the case total less than two dozen pages, mostly arrest warrants.
Stinney was required to prove his innocence – instead of being innocent unless proven guilty.
And there is nothing – no evidence whatever – linking George Junius Stinney Jr. to the murders of two white girls, 8 and 11 years old. There is only the white sheriff’s assertion of a confession – also not documented in writing.
Pleas for clemency from the local NAACP and unions to Gov. Olin D. Johnston fell on ears deafened by the cheers of those “glad of your decision [to execute] the nigger Stinney,” as one person wrote to the governor.
For 67 years, the silence surrounding the George Stinney case has been deafening.
Shades of Judge Sabo’s intent to help the state of Pennsylvania “fry the nigger” in the case of internationally acclaimed death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Troy Anthony Davis was Black and had spent 22 of his 42 years entombed for a crime he did not commit.
In Davis’ case – as in Mumia’s – there are tens of thousands of pages of court documents. Documents in both cases contain lies from coerced so-called witnesses and recantations of those lies. Documents in both cases contain evidence of court proceedings in which both defendants were required to prove their innocence – instead of being innocent unless proven guilty.
In the wake of the murder of Troy Anthony Davis, the common threads of the three cases are so egregious and extreme that it is obvious that convictions, death warrants and executions were obtained in spite of the fact that the prosecution had no case – and the innocence of a Black person does not matter, whether that person be man, woman, or child.
Shades of the infamous Dred Scott Decision of 1857, in which the federal government made it clear that a Black person has no rights that a white person is bound to respect.
Shades of the murder of George Lester Jackson and of the Attica Prison Rebellion of August and September 1971; the recent strike by prisoners in Georgia; the current hunger strike at Attica Prison Rebellionand other prisons in California. Attica prisoners fighting for liberation were massacred by the state and federal government, and prisoners’ struggles for liberation across the land are being met with indifference, torture, disappearances and death at the hands of state and federal governments.
In the face of these atrocities, there are those who would continue to argue that things have improved by having Blacks in positions of power. But in a corrupt government, this is fallacious reasoning at best.
Note the following:
a) The silence of Black Attorney General Eric Holder regarding Troy Anthony Davis;
b) That Black District Attorney Larry Chisolm stood blind, deaf, dumb and mute – impervious to millions of pleas and petitions for a retrial based on seven of nine witnesses recanting their statements and no gun or DNA evidence linking Troy Davis to the crime;
c) That two members of the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Parole that rejected a petition for clemency for Davis are Black men – Vice Chairman Albert Murray and Chairman James E. Donald, who did nothing;
d) That the infamous Clarence Thomas, a Black man, led the U.S. Supreme Court in rejecting Troy Davis’ 11th hour petition for a stay of execution;
e) that Barack Hussein Obama, a Black president stood mute – as usual – although he later gave utterance that it would have been “inappropriate” for him to intervene.
Note this carefully: Here are six Black men who have attained positions of high power in the U.S., whose business it seems is to reassure their white handlers that Afrikan people will get no favors from them. At all times, one and/or several of them were in positions to intervene to save Troy Davis’ life, and they did nothing.
It seems therefore that some of us have been taught how to attain and maintain high office – and to utilize these positions by being the oppressors’ “boys.” In other words, some of us have learned from Willie Lynch how to kill our own with impunity … accompanying their tacit acquiescence to genocide by the thunderous silence of their voices.
It was in Lynch’s speech, entitled “The Making of a Slave,” that the British enslaver gave his message to the enslaver government in the Virginia colony on the American continent in the year 1712 on the River James that set the tone for what were to become the U.S. federal and state governments that reign supreme today.
These are instructions given 299 years ago on how to teach enslavers, the government and the enslaved – in perpetuity!
Wake up, Afrikans … we live in the shadow of true evil
For by the lynching of Troy Anthony Davis, not only have we been attacked by the enslavers, attempting to re-enslave us and to colonize our minds, bodies and spirits – and re-enforce the Willie Lynch doctrine – but we have been betrayed by some modern day house negroes: Clarence Thomas, Eric Holder, Barack Hussein Obama, Larry Chisolm et al.
We sacrificed our blood, our sweat, our tears, our very lives and spirits and those of our ancestors on thorns of the impunity of a system of government that is and has been and forever will be a corruption of true freedom and justice.
It is truly “just us” who are being slaughtered like rabbits by those who make a mockery of our pain and dying. Witness the horrific torture-murder coverups of Kenneth Harding, Oscar Grant III and now Troy Anthony Davis.
Rife with racial epithet, brutality and the continual pogrom of genocidal intent, how are these 21st century lynchings different from those in which whites brought their children, elders, picnic baskets and pickle jars to the public hangings, tortures, burnings and mutilations of thousands of Afrikan men, women and children – and the post cards of their smiling faces as they posed near the burnt and bloody remains of the strange fruit they’d grown on their lynching trees, collecting body parts and photographs for display of their handiwork, sanctioned by their bastardization of god?
What difference is lynching at the behest of white massuh by the bloodied hands of their house niggas? Whose is the Black face and whose is the white mask?
For what did Ida B. Wells Barnett, Harriet Tubman and other brave Afrikan men, women and children of our ancestors risk and in some instances sacrifice their lives for us to empower ourselves – allegedly – by gaining voting rights – only to have us not be really empowered at all?
For what reason do some of us still make sacrifices to put Afrikan people into positions of supposed power in this corrupt government that unleashes wars and death globally – only for them to act more brutal than the original brutalizers?
President Barack Hussein Obama considered it “inappropriate” for him to consider presidential intervention to save an Afrikan life in a non-federal case rife with serious doubt to prove guilt.
Yet he considers it appropriate to deny Palestinian statehood; appropriate to sanction the NATO lynching of Black Libyans; appropriate to send more Afrikan men and women and other peoples of color and poor people – and high school aged students – to the front lines to die in U.S. instigated and escalated wars of greed; appropriate to send two of the biggest destabilizers of Haiti – George W. Bush and William Clinton – to Haiti as overseers; appropriate to plot insidiously, albeit unsuccessfully, to keep the twice democratically elected president of that struggling country in forced exile; and appropriate to ride to the rescue of his personal friend Henry Louis Gates when he was arrested for breaking into his own home, and further appropriate to pronounce the entire incident stupid to a global audience, and appropriate to smooth things over with the offending white officer by inviting him up to the big house to swig a brew with him and his rescued friend.
Barack Hussein Obama is pro death penalty, pro prison and military industrial complex – and anti Afrikan people. He just didn’t say so when he was running for office.
Then there is Supreme Court ‘Just-us’ Clarence Thomas. He, unlike Barack Hussein Obama, has made no secret of his arch conservatism. And this isn’t the first time he’s dangled the carrot of freedom and hope to an Afrikan set to die, pretending to consider the facts and merits of a case, and then given the lynching whip his stamp of approval to go forward. After all, he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1991, in spite of his sexual harassment of Anita Hill, so approving lynching by lethal injection just-us for a few Black men isn’t that big a step.
Clarence Thomas left Troy Davis strapped on a death gurney for four hours while he, Thomas, chose to pretend to Davis and the world that Davis had a chance at gaining a stay of execution by his hand.
And Troy Anthony Davis met torture, terrorism, and brutality with a bravery that many of us do in fact possess and continue to demonstrate – a fact that sets us apart from our brutalizers – but which we must distil to its higher essence such that we are not the ones doing all of the dying.
Clarence Thomas’ soul is irretrievably gone – tainted. He is one of the killer elite of his U.S. government handlers. But the Thomases, Obamas et al are the people we’ve allowed to represent our best interests as Afrikan people?
As El Hajj Malik El Shabazz told us once before: We’ve been had. We’ve been took. We’ve been misled. And if we continue to be had, took and misled, we will continue to lose our people to the impunity of no justice – but just us.
Willie Lynch shaped the public conscience of his class, race and sex – globally – when he designed his “How to Make a Slave” pogrom. He planned for how his fellow enslavers and his government were supposed to act when he no longer walked the Earth.
And 299 years later, in the 21st century, it seems that the 16th century plan is being meticulously followed by the descendants of the “good negroes” he and his disciples made. They’ve perfected the art of instructing some of us to kill our own – thus wiping their bloody hands on our three piece suit sleeves, bought with Judas coin, in the same manner that George W. Bush wiped his hand on William Clinton’s shirt-sleeve after shaking hands with a Black Haitian man.
It would therefore be instructional for us Afrikans to be recalled to reality by El Hajj Malik El Shabazz’ speech regarding the House Negro vs. the Field Negro and to govern ourselves accordingly.
For those who haven’t heard it, listen carefully at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQ_VWpJj0Dw&feature=player_embedded#! For the life you save may be your own.
All power to the people!
What you can do
To express your condolences to Troy Davis’ sister Martina and her family, email email@example.com or write to: I AM TROY DAVIS, P.O. Box 2105, Savannah, GA 31407.
Listen HERE to Troy’s last words, recorded and released by the Georgia Department of Corrections in response to an open records request from the Associated Press. Here is the transcription:
“I’d like to address the MacPhail family. I’d like to let you all know that despite the situation – I know all of you still are convinced that I’m the person that killed your father, your son and your brother, but I am innocent.
“The incident that happened that night is not my fault. I did not have a gun that night. I did not shoot your family member. I am so sorry for your loss. I really am, sincerely.
“All that I can ask is that each of you look deeper into this case, so that you really will finally see the truth.
“I ask my family and friends that you all continue to pray, that you all continue to forgive. Continue to fight this fight.
“For those about to take my life, may God have mercy on all of your souls. God bless you all.”
Malaika H. Kambon is a freelance writer and photojournalist, owner of People’s Eye Photography and a master’s degree candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies at San Francisco State University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen to “Troy Davis Lives on Forever“ by Rebel Diaz.
Day of Outrage for Troy Davis, Day 6 of Occupy Wall Street – videos by All Things Harlem
Chicago Police Torture Victims Speak Truth to Pain and Power
Stanley Howardis still in prison, 35 years after he was forced to confess to crimes he did not commit, landing him on death row. Howard, co-author of “Tortured By Blue: The Chicago Police Torture Story,” is among the more than 100 Black Chicago men forced to incriminate themselves by cops wielding lethal threats and excruciating pain. “We wanted to tell the story from a victims’ standpoint,” he said.
Make sure that we get my name as Shaka Sankofa. My name is not Gary Graham. Make sure that it is properly presented on my grave.
–Shaka Sankofa before he was executed June 22, 2000
Who was Shaka Sankofa and why did America kill him?
“Don’t tell me about a criminal justice system, ’cause there ain’t no justice in it – its just a criminal system”
— Mumia Abu Jamal
On June 22nd, at 8:49 P.M the Texas state government in coordination with the federal officials, carried out another of its infamous “Texacutions”. Gary Graham who changed his name to Shaka Sankofa (after the famous African leader Shaka Zulu), was the 135th person to be executed under presidential candidate Gov. George W. Bush Jr. Shaka was handcuffed to a gurney and forced an execution that he resisted on the growing norm for youth within the American urban center. Born a poor child he grew up with a mother suffering from mental illness and a father who was a debilitated alcoholic. Without any proper direction or control he dropped out of school without the knowledge to fully read or write and turned to crime in order to support himself. He was a petty thief and at times violent as petty thieves often need to be if they want to remain alive. In 1981, Shaka was charged with the murder of a man named Bobby Lambert, a known drug runner and a snitch aiding an investigation into other drug runners in the Texas area. Bobby Lambert was murdered outside a supermarket with a number of witnesses and $6,000 on his person.
Shaka had been arrested for a crime spree that included some robberies and allegations of rape, although the rape has never been proven. While in jail he was arraigned for the murder of Bobby Lambert and identified by one eye witness, keep in mind there were 6 other eye witnesses that claimed Shaka was not the gunman and described a man physically different to Shaka, and 4 people passed polygraph tests claiming Shaka was with them at the time of the murder. The one eye witness that claims to have seen Shaka kill Bobby Lambert was within a car at night and rumored to be as much as 40 feet away.
This lone woman’s testimony is the only evidence that the state of Texas had to convict this 17 year old boy. While on trial the 17 year old illiterate, left the trial to his lawyer, who handled his case in an incompetent fashion, never interviewing the 6 eyewitnesses that testified on police reports
As a result, Shaka as a 17 year old boy was sentenced to death amidst serious doubt that he murdered Bobby Lambert and with the proof of a Salem witch trial. It is a violation of International Law for a country to execute someone for a crime they did as a minor…but International Law never stopped America before! So Shaka as a young man was put on Death Row, a horrible place if there ever was any, wrought with physical and mental abuse by prison officials.
He earned his G.E.D which is a high school equivalency test. Shaka learned how to read from the texts of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Huey P. Newton, he later became a political leader and spokesman fighting for prison reform while seeking his own freedom. The justice system, criminal corrections system or as I’d put it the Unjust, Criminal System fought to speed up his execution and would not review the new found evidence proving he was innocent. Every time they went before a court the door was slammed in Shaka’s face on technicalities, as his fight for freedom gained attention, Bush endorsed a misinformation campaign claiming he was a rapist/murder who had his case reviewed some 30 odd times. THESE ARE LIES! And dare I say it, If 30 courts found this man guilty without proof then those 30 judges should be brought to trial! Not revered as credible people!
Bush is known as the Governor who has killed more people through state sanctioned death than any other governor in history. Due to his running for presidential office his human rights abuse has been brought to light with his actions on the death penalty issue. On June 22nd a parole board that is made up of Bush supporters and his campaign contributors, that communicates via email and fax, said the execution will happen as planned. There was a last minute plea to the Supreme Court who refused to listen to the case and then at 8.49 PM central time Shaka Sankofa was murdered.
Shaka had told the world that he would refuse to go peacefully. He proclaimed his innocence from the age of 17 until the death bed. He had admitted throughout the years about his robberies and had written letters as a man to the victims of his robberies apologizing for the actions of a boy. When an execution date is set the damned man or woman on Death Row is moved to what they call Phase 2, a section where inmates wait to die. It’s often a smaller cell and the restrictions are more severe. Shaka had told the world he would not go along peacefully and he meant it, the guards had beaten him severely to get him to Phase 2 they later beat him to get him onto the gurney.
A man named Ricky Jason had gone to visit Shaka while on Phase 2 and had said that while in the bathroom at the prison he overheard two guards laughing about how Gary had no more legal appeals and they said “Now we can execute that nigger”. Upon arriving at the prison Ricky met Gary Graham (also known as Shaka Sankofa) and gave this report:
“Gary was covered in filth with his shirt ripped, looking as though he had been wallowing on the ground. He had a huge knot over his eyebrow and was shaking like a leaf, stuttering, and asking for food. Gary wanted to know how Ricky got in, that they had put him on restriction so that only a lawyer, minister or media person could see him. All regular visits have been stopped. Ricky told Gary to just hurry up and tell him what had happened in case the guards came in and forced him to leave.
Gary told Ricky that the day the execution date was set, guards came to his cell with their heads covered with hoods to conceal their identity. They said, “Let’s go, Graham” and Gary said, “I’m not going anywhere, I’m innocent, I didn’t do nothing.” Guards told him he had to be moved to the next phase and tear gassed him twice, beat and dragged him to the other room, where Gary passed out. The guards took everything from Gary, his radio, his typewriter, even his underwear.
On June 22nd Gary refused to order his last meal and had asked that Jesse Jackson, a member of Amnesty International. and Reverend Al Sharpton along with George W. Bush Jr. be his witnesses. They reported that when he came out he gave a final statement where he asked his supporters to push on regardless of his condition and kept telling the people “They are killing an innocent man tonight”. He looked beaten and bruised, which indicates the force that had to be applied to make him get in the gurney.
Reports are that it took 5 men to get him held down where he was handcuffed to the gurney so he could not resist. He died in the middle of his statement as the lethal injection killed him, making him the 135th person to be executed by George W. BushJr. Not surprisingly, Bush never showed. The world was watching, as all the major news programs were live outside along hundreds of supporters for Shaka and a few supporters of Bush (who were mostly all members of the Ku Klux Klan). George W. Bush Jr. made a public statement where he said the he felt justice was being done.