I woke up this morning to the best news I’ve heard in years.
Federal Louisiana judge orders release of ‘Angola Three’ inmate
A federal judge in Louisiana on Monday ordered the release of the last of the prisoners known as the “Angola Three,” who has spent more than four decades in solitary confinement in connection with the 1972 second-degree murder of a prison guard.
U.S. District Judge James Brady ruled Albert Woodfox, 68, be released and barred from being tried a third time, following overturned convictions for the killing of prison guard Brent Miller.
“This court exercises its discretion in finding that there are exceptional circumstances, and the only just remedy is an unconditional writ of habeas corpus barring retrial of Mr. Albert Woodfox and releasing Mr. Woodfox from custody immediately,” Brady said in his 27-page ruling.
Brady argued in part that the release was warranted because prosecutors would not be able to provide a fair third trial for Woodfox, who is in poor health.
I celebrate as I weep. Weep in bitterness against a society that would keep an innocent man, or any human, in solitary confinement for over four decades.
Woodfox and the other 2 members of the Angola 3 were punished for being Panthers. Punished for daring to push back inside the prison, and for organizing inmates.
I celebrate the tenacity of their supporters world-wide who never gave up the struggle.
Last year, even the NY Times Editorial Board spoke out.
Mr. Woodfox is the last incarcerated member of what became known as the Angola 3 — three prisoners who each spent decades in solitary, mostly at Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison. Robert King, who was put into isolation also in 1972, was released in 2001. Mr. Wallace was released last year, and he died of liver cancer days later.
In 2005, a federal magistrate judge wrote in a report that the amount of time the men had spent in solitary was “so far beyond the pale” that she could not find “anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence.” Yet in 2008, 36 years after the guard’s killing, the Louisiana attorney general was still calling Mr. Woodfox “the most dangerous person on the planet.”
State officials insist their case is solid and have already said they intend to retry him, though the prison guard’s widow believes he is innocent of the killing and most of the potential witnesses in the case are dead.
Even comparatively brief solitary confinement can cause severe mental and emotional trauma; a United Nations expert has said that more than 15 days may amount to torture. When it is imposed for more than 40 years, it is barbaric beyond measure.
I cannot write a long piece today. I simply want to say “All Power to the People Comrade Brother Albert,” and to post the 10 point platform and program of the Black Panther Party:
October 1966 Black Panther Party
Platform and Program
What We Want
What We Believe
1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black Community.
We believe that black people will not be free until we are able to determine our destiny.
2. We want full employment for our people.
We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every man employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the white American businessmen will not give full employment, then the means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.
3. We want an end to the robbery by the white man of our Black Community.
We believe that this racist government has robbed us and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules was promised 100 years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of black people. We will accept the payment as currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The Germans are now aiding the Jews in Israel for the genocide of the Jewish people. The Germans murdered six million Jews. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of over twenty million black people; therefore, we feel that this is a modest demand that we make.
4. We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings.
We believe that if the white landlords will not give decent housing to our black community, then the housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that our community, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for its people.
5. We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present-day society.
We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.
6. We want all black men to be exempt from military service.
We believe that Black people should not be forced to fight in the military service to defend a racist government that does not protect us. We will not fight and kill other people of color in the world who, like black people, are being victimized by the white racist government of America. We will protect ourselves from the force and violence of the racist police and the racist military, by whatever means necessary.
7. We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people.
We believe we can end police brutality in our black community by organizing black self-defense groups that are dedicated to defending our black community from racist police oppression and brutality. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States gives a right to bear arms. We therefore believe that all black people should arm themselves for self defense.
8. We want freedom for all black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails.
We believe that all black people should be released from the many jails and prisons because they have not received a fair and impartial trial.
9. We want all black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their black communities, as defined by the Constitution of the United States.
We believe that the courts should follow the United States Constitution so that black people will receive fair trials. The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives a man a right to be tried by his peer group. A peer is a person from a similar economic, social, religious, geographical, environmental, historical and racial background. To do this the court will be forced to select a jury from the black community from which the black defendant came. We have been, and are being tried by all-white juries that have no understanding of the “average reasoning man” of the black community.
10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace. And as our major political objective, a United Nations-supervised plebiscite to be held throughout the black colony in which only black colonial subjects will be allowed to participate for the purpose of determining the will of black people as to their national destiny.
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to supper, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariable the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
Because of these words and beliefs, too many have died. Too many have been incarcerated and tortured. Too many of us were branded enemies of the state.
Simply because we want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace.
We still have not achieved those simple things.
The struggle continues.