31 May 2019
Louisiana Black Panther
Albert Woodfox Chronicles Prison Hell
Earlier this year, Grove Press released the memoir of Albert Woodfox, Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement; My Story of Transformation and Hope. The book is a testament to incredible courage and tenacity in the face of brutal physical and psychological punishment and illuminates the hideous, racist reality of the capitalist injustice system in this society based on the exploitation of labor and founded on chattel slavery. Solitary tells the story of the Angola 3 (Woodfox and his comrades Robert King and Herman Wallace), who collectively spent over a century in the torture of solitary confinement—mostly at Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison. While there, the three formed a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP). The decades that the Angola 3 were locked away in solitary were retribution for their joining the BPP and organizing protests and legal challenges against unspeakable prison conditions.
Solitary depicts the harsh reality of black life in America—on both sides of the prison bars. As Woodfox recalls of his coming of age in a New Orleans ghetto: “We always knew the police picked up the men in our neighborhood because they were black and for no other reason.” Woodfox graphically describes the all too common grinding poverty and racism that drove his mother to prostitution, and himself to fall into the gang scene. He recounts, “When money was tight and there was no food in the house I shoplifted bread and canned goods. It never felt like a crime to me, it was survival.” (read more...)
31 May 2019
Janet and Janine Africa Paroled
Free All the MOVE Prisoners!
On May 25, MOVE members Janet Holloway Africa, 68, and Janine Phillips Africa, 63, walked out of prison on parole. Their release after more than 40 years in Pennsylvania dungeons follows the paroling of Debbie and Michael Africa Sr. last year. All of the MOVE 9 were jailed and sentenced to 30 to 100 years in 1978, framed up for the killing of a Philadelphia police officer during the cop siege of MOVE’s Powelton Village home. Despite being model prisoners, Janet and Janine had been repeatedly denied parole since 2008 for “lack of remorse.” Merle Africa and Phil Africa died in jail under suspicious circumstances. Chuck, Delbert and Eddie Africa are still behind bars. Free them now!
Soon after the predominantly black, radical back-to-nature MOVE commune emerged in the early 1970s, it became the target of vicious cop terror, not least because the group championed the right to armed self-defense. Janine’s infant son, Life, was trampled and killed in 1976 when police invaded the MOVE house and knocked her over, baby in arms. On 8 August 1978, after a months-long siege, nearly 600 cops surrounded the house to evict the residents. Police unleashed a barrage of gunfire, then stormed the home. One officer died in the cops’ own cross fire. At least eight witnesses testified that no gunshots came from the house. Weapons the cops said they found inside had no fingerprint of any MOVE member on them. The MOVE 9 were all innocent. (read more...)
17 May 2019
Progressive D.A. Drops Appeal, Continues Vendetta
Free Mumia Now!
No Illusions in the Capitalist Courts!
On April 17, Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner abandoned his effort to prevent class-war prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal from challenging his frame-up conviction for the 1981 killing of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Last December, Judge Leon Tucker of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas threw out the state Supreme Court decisions from 1998 to 2012 that rubber-stamped Mumia’s frame-up because a judge on that court had given an “appearance of bias.” The judge, Ronald Castille, had been the D.A. during Mumia’s first appeal of his conviction and sentence. Making clear that the decades-long vendetta against Mumia will not end on his watch, Krasner proclaimed that the decision to withdraw his appeal of Tucker’s ruling “does not mean Mr. Abu-Jamal will be freed or get a new trial.” According to Faulkner’s widow Maureen, Krasner promised “that he would do everything within his power to keep my husband’s remorseless killer in prison for the rest of his life.”
Krasner rode into office supported by a host of liberal activists and fake socialists as a “progressive” D.A. and a pillar of the decarceration movement. Krasner had pursued the appeal out of expressed concern that Tucker’s ruling would open the door to challenges by all inmates victimized by Castille’s dual role as prosecutor and judge—and some might then actually be decarcerated. According to Krasner, he can now rest easy because a supplemental ruling by Tucker narrows the scope of his order. (read more...)
19 April 2019
Free Julian Assange!
APRIL 15—Last Thursday, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, was dragged out of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London by British cops and arrested. He is now being held in the maximum security Belmarsh prison on an extradition request from Washington. Assange, an Australian citizen, has been in the crosshairs of U.S. imperialism for years. Both Democrats and Republicans have been howling for his head ever since 2010 when WikiLeaks released a trove of documents provided by Chelsea Manning, then an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, that exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. No extradition! Free Julian Assange now! For unobstructed passage to any country that grants him asylum!
Assange resided in the embassy for seven years, having been granted political asylum by Ecuador’s then president Rafael Correa. At the time, he was facing deportation to Sweden on bogus allegations of “sexual molestation” and “rape,” which was simply a step toward handing him over to U.S. authorities. Correa’s successor, the U.S. imperialist lackey Lenín Moreno, revoked Assange’s asylum (as well as the Ecuadorean citizenship he had acquired). Trampling on the sovereignty of his country, Moreno threw open the embassy doors to the British cops. (read more...)
22 March 2019
Jailed for Refusing to Fink on Julian Assange
Free Chelsea Manning!
Former Army intelligence analyst and truth-teller Chelsea Manning has been jailed again by the vindictive U.S. capitalist state. Tortured in prison for seven years by the Obama regime for exposing U.S. imperialist war crimes, Manning was thrown back behind bars on March 8 because she refused to testify before a grand jury in a secretive star-chamber inquiry against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Manning declared: “I will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to, particularly one that has been historically used to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech.” Held in contempt of federal court for her principled stand, Manning was sent to jail, where she could remain for a year or more as the investigation proceeds. Release Chelsea Manning now!
In 2010, WikiLeaks published files leaked by Manning that cast a spotlight on the bloody work of U.S. imperialism in Iraq and Afghanistan. The best-known of these is the graphic aerial video, dubbed “Collateral Murder,” which shows a U.S. Apache helicopter gunship massacring at least 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007 while the Army pilots gloated over the carnage. After releasing the video, WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and classified documents recording more murder, torture and rape carried out by the imperialists. (read more...)
22 February 2019
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Now!
Progressive D.A. Continues State Vendetta
On January 25, Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner announced that his office was appealing the December 27 ruling of Judge Leon Tucker of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, in which Mumia Abu-Jamal won the right to challenge his frame-up conviction. A former Black Panther spokesman, MOVE supporter and award-winning journalist, Mumia has been in prison hell for 37 years—30 of them on death row—falsely convicted of killing Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in December 1981. Tucker’s ruling threw out the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions from 1998 to 2012 that rubber-stamped Mumia’s frame-up, because a judge on that court gave an “appearance of bias.” The judge, Ronald Castille, had been the D.A. during Mumia’s first appeal of his conviction and death sentence.
We welcomed Judge Tucker’s ruling and protest Krasner’s appeal, a further demonstration of his commitment to keep Mumia entombed for life. The ink was barely dry on Tucker’s decision when a host of liberals, radical activists and reformist socialists stepped up their campaign calling on Philly’s top prosecutor “to do the right thing.” Krasner is “doing the right thing”—for the capitalist class that he was elected to serve. The D.A.’s office, no less than the cops, courts and prisons, is at the core of the state machinery of repression whose purpose is to defend the profits and rule of the bourgeoisie. (read more...)
18 January 2019
PDC Holiday Appeal
Support the Class-War Prisoners
(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)
This year’s Holiday Appeal marks the 33rd year of the Partisan Defense Committee’s program of sending monthly stipends as an expression of solidarity to those imprisoned for standing up to racist capitalist repression and imperialist depredation. This program revived a tradition initiated by the International Labor Defense under James P. Cannon, its founder and first secretary (1925-28). The PDC currently sends stipends to eleven class-war prisoners.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a former Black Panther Party spokesman, a well-known supporter of the MOVE organization and an award-winning journalist known as “the voice of the voiceless.” Framed up for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer, Mumia was sentenced to death explicitly for his political views. Federal and state courts have repeatedly refused to consider evidence proving Mumia’s innocence, including the sworn confession of Arnold Beverly that he, not Mumia, shot and killed the policeman. In 2011, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office dropped its longstanding effort to legally lynch Mumia, condemning him to life in prison with no chance of parole. In 2016, attorneys for Mumia filed a petition under Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) seeking to overturn the denial of his four prior PCRA claims by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. On December 27, Judge Leon Tucker of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas granted Mumia’s petition, allowing him to argue before an appellate court for reversal of his frame-up conviction (see article, page 8). (read more...)
18 January 2019
Mumia Wins Right to Appeal Frame-Up Conviction
Mumia Abu-Jamal Is Innocent—Free Him Now!
After 37 years behind bars—30 of them on death row—class-war prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal has won the right to challenge his frame-up conviction for the killing of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. On December 27, Judge Leon Tucker of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas threw out the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions from 1998 to 2012 that rubber-stamped Mumia’s frame-up on the basis that one of its justices, Ronald Castille, refused to recuse himself. Castille had been Philly district attorney during Mumia’s first appeal of his conviction and death sentence in the late 1980s.
Judge Tucker was ruling on Mumia’s appeal based on the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision Williams v. Pennsylvania. In the Williams case, Castille as D.A. authorized his prosecutors to seek the death penalty. When Terrance Williams later appealed, Castille was among the judges on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court who affirmed the conviction and sentence. The U.S. Supreme Court held that Castille’s “significant, personal involvement as a prosecutor in a critical decision in the defendant’s case” raised “the risk of actual bias in the judicial proceeding.” (read more...)
30 November 2018
Abolish the Racist Death Penalty!
Freedom Now for Kevin Cooper!
(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)
Kevin Cooper, a black man framed up for the 1983 murder of a white family, has spent 33 years on death row in San Quentin prison. In 2004, Cooper was less than four hours away from being murdered by the State of California when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a stay of execution issued by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That stay was granted after questions were raised over the prosecution’s evidence against Cooper in his 1985 trial. As one of the appeals court judges, William Fletcher, later wrote: “Kevin Cooper, the man now sitting on death row, may well be—and in my view probably is—innocent. And he is on death row because the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department framed him.”
Cooper’s case returned to the public spotlight earlier this year after the New York Times published a May 17 op-ed column by Nicholas Kristof that compellingly detailed the police frame-up. It began almost immediately after the brutally mutilated bodies of Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old neighbor were found in the Ryens’ house in Chino Hills, California, on 5 June 1983. Incredibly, the Ryens’ 8-year-old son Joshua, whose throat was slit and skull fractured, survived. (read more...)
30 November 2018
The Frame-Up of the Omaha Two
Free Ed Poindexter!
(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)
For 48 years, Ed Poindexter has been locked behind bars for the “crime” of being an unbending fighter for black freedom. Along with his codefendant Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, then known as David Rice, Poindexter was framed up on bogus charges of killing Omaha, Nebraska, police officer Larry Minard in an August 1970 bomb explosion. Without a shred of physical evidence and based on the perjured testimony of teenager Duane Peak at their 1971 trial, Poindexter and Mondo, leaders of the National Committee to Combat Fascism (NCCF), a Black Panther Party (BPP) affiliate, were sentenced to life. Mondo died in prison in 2016. The racist capitalist rulers have made it clear that is the only way they will let Poindexter leave his prison hell.
A July 2018 book by Michael Richardson, Framed: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two Story, lays bare the racist conspiracy by the FBI and Omaha police to frame up Poindexter and Mondo as part of the murderous FBI COINTELPRO vendetta against the Panthers. Based on a decade of meticulous research, the book exposes the lies of cops, prosecutors and FBI agents. It details collusion at the highest levels of the FBI with the Omaha police to suppress evidence, as well as prosecutorial intimidation and coaching of Duane Peak to concoct a scenario that tied Poindexter and Mondo to Minard’s killing. (read more...)
2 November 2018
MOVE Member Mike Africa Paroled
On October 23, after having more than four decades of his life stolen, Michael Africa Sr. was finally released from a Pennsylvania state prison. Only the second of the MOVE 9 to be paroled—his wife Debbie was released in June—Mike was able to join her and their son Michael Africa Jr., who was born in prison 40 years ago. (See WV No. 1136, 29 June.) (read more...)
5 October 2018
Black Activist Railroaded for Self-Defense
Free Siwatu-Salama Ra!
The nightmare for Siwatu-Salama Ra, a 27-year-old black environmental activist in Detroit, began in July of last year. That was when Ra picked up her registered, unloaded handgun to fend off an attacker who was ramming her vehicle into Ra’s, which held her two-year-old daughter inside, and was attempting to run over both Ra and her mother. For the act of brandishing a weapon to protect herself and her family, Ra was outrageously convicted in March of this year of felony assault and firearm possession, and is serving a two-year prison sentence. Ra’s lawyers have filed an appeal of her sentence on the basis that she did not receive a fair trial. We demand: Overturn the conviction! Free Siwatu-Salama Ra now!
From her arrest to her imprisonment, Ra has faced racist, vindictive treatment for the simple fact that she is a black woman who tried to defend herself. Despite the fact that the gun had no bullets, that she was legally armed, and that Michigan is a concealed carry and Stand Your Ground state, this made absolutely no difference to the cops, prosecutors and judge. The cops justified charging Ra and not the woman who attacked her on the ridiculous pretext that her assailant had filed a police report first. When Ra maintained that she had a legal right to self-defense and refused a plea deal, the prosecution retaliated by slapping the felony firearms charge onto the assault charge, which meant she got a two-year mandatory sentence instead of probation. The appeal by Ra’s lawyers exposes the mockery of a trial: the judge instructed the jury that pointing an unloaded gun constituted “deadly force” and blocked the defense from revealing how Ra’s attacker had a strong motivation to lie given that she was on probation for an earlier assault. (read more...)