Monday, June 20, 2011
The Angola 3 Struggle Builds
Eight days ago, facing surgery, I decided to spend the weekend visiting Albert "Shaka Cinque" Woodfox, one of the Angola 3. Of all the places I might have gone and all the ways I might have spent that time forty-eight hours before going under the knife, I never really considered anywhere else.
I'm not alone in this. Another A3 supporter who had to drive even farther than the five hours I spent on the road (each way), came tearing into the visiting room at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, announcing, "I know I won't get to stay long, but it's my birthday and I just had to see Woodfox on my birthday!"
The guard at the gate, knowing I was already inside, had asked her coming in, "Why do so many people want to come visit this man?"
"That's just who he is," Jackie replied.
I've been in the A3 fold now for three years. One letter to Shaka and he reeled me in like a bigmouth bass. It took us two years to get me on his visiting list, but if he's taught me anything so far, it's how to keep doing the next right thing until you prevail or die. This time, we prevailed.
The visit was particularly celebratory because that Saturday morning, I learned that Amnesty International has finally pulled out the stops on a full tilt campaign demanding the release of the two remaining Angola 3 members, Woodfox and Herman "Hooks" Wallace. AI has even formulated a 12-page report on the case.
And, of course, Shaka has been granted an evidentiary hearing in September, as well, which may, in fact, move his release radically nearer. In the meantime, a quick poll taken over at the Huffington Post found that three-fourths of those taking the poll consider forty years in solitary confinement to be torture.
In his statement read at the showing of "In the Land of the Free" at the New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival in April, Shaka Woodfox wrote: "Justice is a child without parents, without moral fiber, without meaning or purpose. Justice has no life until you, The People, pick it up, love it, guide it, give it meaning, purpose and a moral set of legs to stand on...[To] give justice life, [to] move it from the abstract world of one's mind to the world of reality...is a daunting task. I wish you strength, wisdom and determination."
For that same event, "Hooks" Wallace wrote: "Your letters to Albert and I have been a great help; [they] let our keepers know that they are being watched...There are thousands of political prisoners here in America, and if you wish to help, seek them out. They're calling for you; we're all calling for you...Join with the Angola 3 in our fight against injustice...and you will realize just how much of a difference you can make."
In 2001, geronimo ji jaga issued this statement about his Angola 3 brothers:
"Robert King, Albert Woodfox, and Herman 'Hooks' Wallace are very dear to me because they come from my home state of Louisiana. The Louisiana chapter of the Black Panther Party was one of the best chapters we organized and they were some of our best, most disciplined soldiers. They were the kind of soldiers who never cried out to anyone for help, even though they were facing life imprisonment.
"Understand that after being in that kinda situation for so long, I can personally attest to the highly disciplined and dedicated nature of these askaris [Swahili for 'soldier']. They endured, and they survived, over all the years, with very little help from the outside world. They are the kind of unsung heroes who we must come forward to help, because they never asked for anything from us in exchange for suffering what they have suffered.
"To struggle for The People and not expect anything selfish in return is a rare thing and this is what King, Wallace, and Woodfox have personified throughout all those hard years. They most certainly deserve our strongest salute."
Please consider supporting the Amnesty International campaign for the release of Shaka and Hooks, who have served nearly forty years in solitary confinement for a crime they didn't commit.
And I, for one, will keep on driving up Highway 520, into the Kisatchie National Forest, past the "Prison Area -- Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers" sign and the unnamed cemetary across the road from the prison itself, to visit Shaka Cinque Woodfox until he walks out the doors and goes home with the rest of us.
#72148 N1 - A3
David Wade Correctional Center
670 Bell Hill Rd.
Homer, LA 71040
#76759 CCR - D6
Elayne Hunt Correctional Center
PO Box 174
St Gabriel, LA 70776