Thursday, May 29, 2008

Free the Angola 3!

Thirty-six years ago, in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, one of the most notoriously bloody and unjust prisons in the United States, two African-American men, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, helped to form a chapter of the Black Panther Party. Ill advised, under the circumstances of their incarceration? Probably. But they were committed to address the system of sexual slavery that lay at the base of abuse and rage so intense among the population that there was on average a murder a week inside the walls. The organizing capability of the Black Panther Party inside prison, however, was even more threatening to the Powers-That-Be than similar activities in the street at that time.

Then, the killing of a White guard in a dormitory housing two hundred men gave the administration just what they were looking for. Despite the fact that authorities had bloody fingerprints and even the knife used in the attack, all evidence was set aside uninvestigated in the interest of neutralizing Wallace and Woodfox who were charged, convicted, and put into solitary confinement for the crime. They have remained in "the hole" ever since (see their site, the Black Panther Party site, this article, or this one). The case was so rife with contradictions that a third man, Robert King Wilkerson (who was not even in the prison at the time of the stabbing), also got scooped up and placed into solitary confinement for the crime without ever even being charged with it. He was released in 2001 on a separate matter, but has not forgotten those he left behind.

With the work of Wilkerson, the Innocence Project, some lawyers out of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and Color of Change, pressure has been building to have Governor Bobby Jindal investigate this on-going travesty. These men have suffered for thirty-six years for a crime their persecutors KNOW they didn't commit (why else would they refuse to release the fingerprint cards for the two hundred men with access to the dorm where the murder took place, one of whom would more than likely turn out to be the actual murderer?) 25,000 supporter's signatures have already been collected to announce our interest in pushing this matter. The Louisiana House Judiciary Committee is set to review the case in June. If there's anything you can do to reach out to or on behalf of these men or to support the effort to release them, now's the time.

Call the governor.

Herman Wallace
#76759 Camp D, Eagle 1
Louisiana State Penitentiary
Angola LA 70712

Albert Woodfox
#72148 Camp D, Eagle 1
Louisiana State Penitentiary
Angola LA 70712


Professor Zero said...

N.B. - it was my understanding they were in closed cell restriction, not the dungeon. They were moved to a dorm March 24, according to the March 27 Advocate, and that has got to be about the publicity, John Conyers' visit a few days earlier, etc.

Changeseeker said...

How absolutely splendid!! And I'm sure not on the cutting edge with THIS post (in spite of the fact that I was going with the most recent releases from some generally solid sources). What a rush that must have been. All of a sudden to go from closed cell to dorm after such a long period. I've known people who didn't successfully make that shift. I hope all keeps moving in the appropriate direction and they're soon released to live out the rest of their lives in the "free" world. Toward that end, we must keep up the pressure in the blogosphere. Thanks for the update, PZ.