Political Prisoners, Political Assassinations and Prison industrial Complex History… Depression of the 1930s, African American Communists took the lead in forming the Unemployed Councils that fought for jobs and against evictions. These efforts were met with widespread repression, including arrests and even political assassination.
Harry Haywood in his book, “Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist,” noted that in Chicago the “police force undoubtedly held the record for terror and lawlessness against workers. They were unsurpassed for sadism and brutality, regularly raiding the halls and offices of the Unemployed Councils, revolutionary organizations and the Party (CPUSA) – smashing furniture, beating workers in the halls, on the streets and in the precinct stations. Hundreds were arrested” (Haywood, p. 444). Haywood continues noting, “In 1930, the police murdered Lee Mason, a Black Communist candidate for Congress. Harold Williams, a Party organizer in the Southside and an old schoolmate of mine from Moscow, was viciously beaten. Although hospitalized, he never fully recovered and died a few years later in New York.” In the aftermath of World War II, a new wave of repression was carried out against leftists. Several leading African American leftists and Communists such as Henry Winston, Attorney George Crockett Jr., Dr. William Alphaeus Hunton, and Claudia Jones were prosecuted and all of them served time in prison.
Claudia Jones, perhaps one of the most prolific writers and theoreticians of the Communist movement between the 1930s and 1960s, was sentenced under the Smith Act in 1953 and was imprisoned in 1955 in the infamous Alderson Federal Prison for Women in West Virginia. As a result of the horrible conditions in the correctional facility, her health deteriorated and she was released and deported to England where she continued her organizing activities until her death in 1965. #BlackAugustResistance
Today there is a revival in the movement among prisoners in the U.S. In several states such as California, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Virginia and Illinois, prisoners have staged hunger strikes to draw attention to the deplorable conditions under which they live.
The most widely publicized resistance by inmates began in the extremely restrictive Security Housing Unit within Pelican Bay State Prison in California. Prisoners, backed by the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition, have “worked tirelessly to get mainstream media to cover the strike and expose the torturous conditions within the California Security Housing Units, as well as within prisons in general” (prisonhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com).
In July 2011, the Pelican Bay hunger strike began with a few dozen inmates; the total soon rose to 6,600. During the second round of the strike, begun in late September, officials reported 12,000 participants in prisons around the state.
Black prisoners in California who have been assigned to the SHU are known throughout the system as political prisoners because their assignment is punishment for their political beliefs. Typically, some reference found in their cells to George Jackson, Black August or the Black Panther Party was enough to “validate” them as the worst of the worst.
Hundreds remain in solitary confinement for decades. Hugo Pinell, a friend of George Jackson, has survived the torture of solitary confinement for over 40 years.
This movement is spreading throughout the country with Virginia and North Carolina being the most recent. Corporate media outlets have been consistent in denying coverage of these developments in an effort to prevent mass support and to halt these forms of resistance from spreading even more rapidly around the U.S.
Social justice activists must support the hunger strikes and other organizing work among prisoners. These inmates are part of the working class and the nationally oppressed masses.
As the economic crisis worsens, the state will become even more repressive. The struggles of the men and women inside prison walls must merge with the organizing efforts of those on the outside to target exploitation, national oppression and all forms of injustice.
Haki Kweli Shakur 8-9-51ADM 16
August Third Collective Communist org NAPLA NAIM