#SundiataAcoli Revolutionaries nationwide were attacked and/or arrested: Tyari Uhuru, Maka, Askufo, and the Smyrna Brothers in Delaware, JoJo Muhammad Bowens and Fred Burton in Philadelphia, and Panthers Mondo Langa, Ed Poindexter, and Veronza Daoud Bowers, Jr., in Omaha. Police mounted an assault on the Panther office in the Desiree Projects of New Orleans which resulted in several arrests. A similar attack was made on the Peoples Party office in Houston. One of their leaders, Carl Hampton, was killed by police and another, Lee Otis Johnson, was arrested later on an unrelated charge and sentenced to 41 years in prison for alleged possession of one marijuana cigarette. Like the Panthers, most of those arrested brought their philosophies with them into the prisons. Likewise, most had outside support committees to one degree or another so that this influx of political prisoners linked the struggle behind the walls with the struggles in the outside local communities. The combination set off a beehive of political activity behind the walls, and prisoners stepped up their struggle for political, Afrikan, Islamic, and academic studies, access to political literature, community access to prisons, an end to arbitrary punishments, access to attorneys, adequate law libraries, relevant vocational training, contact visits, better food, health care, housing, and a myriad of other struggles. The forms of prison struggle ranged from face-to-face negotiations to mass petitioning, letter-writing and call-in campaigns, outside demonstrations, class action law suits, hunger strikes, work strikes, rebellions, and more drastic actions. Overall, all forms of struggle served to roll back draconian prison policies that had stood for centuries and to further the development of the New Afrikan liberation struggle behind the walls.
These struggles would not have been as successful, or would have been much more costly in terms of lives lost or brutality endured, had it not been for the links to the community and community support that political prisoners brought with them into the prisons. Although that support was not always sufficient in quantity or quality, or was sometimes nonexistent or came with hidden agendas or was marked by frequent conflicts, on the whole it was this combination of resolute prisoners, community support, and legal support which was most often successful in prison struggle. As the ’60s drew to a close New Afrikan and Third World nationalities made up nearly 50 percent of the prison population. National liberation consciousness became the dominant influence behind the walls as the overall complexion neared the changeover from white to black, brown, and red. The decade-long general decrease in prisoners, particularly whites, brought a drop of between 16,000 and 28,000 in total prison population. The total number of white prisoners decreased between 16,000 and 23,000 while the total number of New Afrikan prisoners increased slightly or changed insignificantly over the same period. Yet the next decade would begin the period of unprecedented new prison construction, as the primary role of U.S. prisons changed from “suppression of the working classes” to “suppression of domestic Black and Third World liberation struggles inside the U.S. A California guard, rated as an expert marksman, opened the decade of the ’70s with the January 13th shooting at close range of W.L. Nolen, Cleveland Edwards, and Alvin “Jug” Miller in the Soledad prison yard. They were left lying where they fell until it was too late for them to be saved by medical treatment. Nolen, in particular, had been instrumental in organizing protest of guard killings of two other Black prisoners, Clarence Causey and William Powell, at Soledad in the recent past, and was consequently both a thorn in the side of prison officials and a hero to the Black prison population.28 When the guard was exonerated of the triple killings two weeks later by a Board of Inquiry, the prisoners retaliated by throwing a guard off the tier. George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo, and John Cluchette were charged with the guard’s death and came to be known as the Soledad Brothers. California Black prisoners solidified around the chain of events in the Soledad Brothers case and formed the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF).
The Panthers spearheaded a massive campaign to save the Soledad Brothers from the gas chamber. The nationwide coalescence of prisoners and support groups around the case converted the scattered, disparate prison struggles into a national prison movement. On the night of March 9, 1970, a bomb exploded killing Ralph Featherstone and Che Payne in their car outside a Maryland courthouse where Rap Brown was to appear next day on “Inciting to Riot” charges. Instead of appearing, Rap went underground, was captured a year later during the robbery of a Harlem so-called “dope bar,” and was sent behind the walls. He completed his sentence and was released from prison. On August 7, 1970, Jonathan Jackson, younger brother of George, attempted to liberate Ruchell Cinque Magee, William Christmas, and James McClain from the Marin County courthouse in California. Jonathan, McClain, Christmas, and the trial judge were killed by SWAT teams who also wounded the prosecutor and paralyzed him for life. Miraculously, Ruchell and three wounded jurors survived the fusillade. Jonathan frequently served as Angela Davis’s bodyguard. She had purchased weapons for that purpose, but Jonathan used those same weapons in the breakout attempt. Immediately afterward she became the object of an international “woman hunt.” On October 13, Angela was captured in New York City and was subsequently returned to California to undergo a very acrimonious trial with Magee. She was acquitted on all charges. Magee was tried separately and convicted on lesser charges. He remains imprisoned to date.
On August 21, a guard shot and killed George Jackson as he bolted from a control unit and ran for the San Quentin wall. Inside the unit lay three guards and two trustees dead. The circumstances surrounding George Jackson’s legendary life and death, and the astuteness of his published writings left a legacy that inspires and instructs the New Afrikan liberation struggle on both sides of the wall even today, and will for years to come. September 13, 1971, became the bloodiest day in U.S. prison history when New York’s Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered the retaking of Attica prison. The previous several years had seen a number of prison rebellions flare up across the country as prisoners protested widespread maltreatment and inhumane conditions. Most had been settled peaceably with little or no loss of human life after face-to-face negotiation between prisoners and state and prison officials. At Attica black, brown, white, red, and yellow prisoners took over one block of the prison and stood together for five days seeking to negotiate an end to their inhumane conditions. Their now-famous dictum declared “We are men, not beasts, and will not be driven as such.” But Rockefeller had presidential ambitions. The rebelling prisoners’ demands included a political request for asylum in a non-imperialistic country. Rockefeller’s refusal to negotiate foreshadowed a macabre replay of his father John D’s slaughter of striking Colorado miners and their families decades earlier. Altogether 43 people died at Attica. New York State trooper bullets killed 39 people, 29 prisoners and 10 guards in retaking Attica and shocked the world by the naked barbarity of the U.S. prison system. Yet the Attica rebellion too remains a milestone in the development of the New Afrikan liberation struggle behind the walls, and a symbol of the highest development of prisoner multinational solidarity to date. In 1973 the simmering struggle for control of Newark’s NOI Temple No. 25 erupted into the open. Warren Marcello, a New World member, assassinated NOI Temple No. 25 Minister Shabazz. In retaliation several NWI members were attacked and killed within the confines of the New Jersey prison system, and before the year was out the bodies of Marcello and a companion were found beheaded In Newark’s Weequahic Park. Ali Hassan, still in prison, was tried as one of the co-conspirators in the death of Shabazz and was found innocent. COINTELPRO’s destruction of the BPP forced many members underground and gave rise to the
Black Liberation Army (BLA) a New Afrikan guerrilla organization. The BLA continued the struggle by waging urban guerrilla war across the U.S. through highly mobile strike teams. The government’s intensified search for the BLA during the early 1970s resulted in the capture of Geronimo ji Jaga in Dallas, Dhoruba Bin-Wahad and Jamal Josephs in New York, Sha Sha Brown and Blood McCreary in St. Louis, Nuh Washington and Jalil Muntaqim in Los Angeles, Herman Bell in New Orleans, Francisco and Gabriel Torres in New York, Russel Haroum Shoats in Philadelphia, Chango Monges, Mark Holder, and Kamau Hilton in New York, Assata Shakur and Sundiata Acoli in New Jersey, Ashanti Alston, Tarik, and Walid in New Haven, Safiya Bukhari and Masai Gibson in Virginia, and others. Left dead during the government’s search and destroy missions were Sandra Pratt (wife of Geronimo ji Jaga, assassinated while visibly pregnant), Mark Essex, Woodie Changa Green, Twyman Kakuyan Olugbala Meyers, Frank “Heavy” Fields, Anthony Kimu White, Zayd Shakur, Melvin Rema Kerney, Alfred Kambui Butler, Ron Carter, Rory Hithe, and John Thomas, among others. Red Adams, left paralyzed from the neck down by police bullets, would die from the effects a few years later. Other New Afrikan freedom fighters attacked, hounded, and captured during the same general era were Imari Obadele and the RNA-11 in Jackson, Mississippi,32 Don Taylor33 and De Mau Mau of Chicago, Hanif Shabazz, Abdul Aziz, and the V1-5 in the Virgin Islands, Mark Cook of the George Jackson Brigade (GJB) in Seattle, Ahmed Obafemi of the RNA in Florida, Atiba Shanna in Chicago, Mafundi Lake in Alabama, Sekou Kambui and Imani Harris in Alabama, Robert Aswad Duren in California, Kojo Bomani Sababu and Dharuba Cinque in Trenton, John Partee and Tommie Lee Hodges of Alkebulan in Memphis, Gary Tyler in Los Angeles, Kareem Saif Allah and the Five Percenter-BLA-lslamic Brothers in New York, Ben Chavis and the Wilmington 10 in North Carolina, Delbert Africa and MOVE members in Philadelphia, and others doubtless too numerous to name. #BlackAugust
Haki Kweli Shakur 8-10-51ADM 16 August Third NAPLA NAIM
Source/Ref A Brief History of The New Afrikan Prison Struggle