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Ebony Magazine — Herman Wallace and Nelson Mandela: A Tale of Two Heroes

7:39 am in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

 

 

As public pressure continues to increase for Herman Wallace’s compassionate release, this new article was released by Ebony Magazine. If you have not yet done so, please take action with Amnesty International calling for Herman’s release.

From Ebony Magazine:

Two political prisoners: one past, one present, both lay dying. Two heroes of the Black liberation movement: one revered, one maligned, both endured decades of solitary confinement. Two men: one African, one African-American, both fought for the rights of African peoples. Two names: one internationally known, one unknown to many of his own countrymen. Both names echo the journey to overcome apartheid and segregation.

Although Nelson Mandela and Herman Wallace each fought for racial equity in their respective countries, South Africa and the United States, in the eyes of their governments these men will leave two very different legacies.

Who is Herman Wallace? The fact that you may be unfamiliar with him is neither a surprise nor an accident. For 41 years, Wallace has been confined to a 9ft by 6ft cell in the Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola) for a crime he maintains he did not commit. In 1971 he and his comrades Ronald Ailsworth, Albert Woodfox and Gerald Bryant established a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party with a mission to desegregate the facility, improve race relations, end prison rape and advocate for humane treatment in one of the nation’s most brutal penitentiaries.

For Wallace’s efforts to bring humanity into an existence of indentured servitude, prison guards repeatedly punished Black Panther members and other peacemakers they deemed to be troublemakers. Amid the pervasive prison violence the Panthers sought to quell, guard Brent Miller was stabbed and killed during a melee, and Wallace and two BPP members were implicated without rigorous investigation.

Read the full article at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/black-history/wallace-and-mandela-222#ixzz2ZWS…

Amnesty International: Don’t let Herman Wallace die alone, keep up the pressure

4:47 pm in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

Below is the full text of an email action alert sent out today by Amnesty International, who is continuing the push for Herman’s release from prison on humanitarian grounds. We are very thankful for Amnesty’s support.

 

As you may know, Herman Wallace may not have a lot of time left — he’s 71 years old, has advanced liver cancer, and has survived four decades of imprisonment in cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions of solitary confinement. But Herman is fighting for his life and for justice.

Today, we wanted to update you and shed just a bit of light into this bleak situation. On Friday, Herman Wallace was reclassified from a maximum to a medium security prisoner. That means he now has access to the day room and will no longer wear leg restraints — an incredible change for someone who has been held in isolation for more than 40 years.

Thank you to the more than 30,000 of you who helped make this possible. The wheels of change may turn more slowly than we’d like, but we remain committed to pursuing justice. Keep up the pressure.We will not give up.

 

Herman Wallace shouldn’t have to die behind bars.

Herman is 71 years old and has advanced liver cancer. He and fellow prisoner Albert Woodfox have been held in solitary confinement longer than anyone else in modern U.S. history. The men have spent the past 41 years of their lives alone in tiny cells for 23 hours a day, deprived of any meaningful human interaction.

No human being deserves to live like this. Herman Wallace should not die alone.

Urge Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to release Herman Wallace.

Why wouldn’t Louisiana officials simply release an elderly prisoner with advanced cancer on humanitarian grounds? Evidence suggests that it is in part because Herman dared to organize and speak out against inhumane treatment and racial segregation inside one of United States’ most brutal prisons.

Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox are the two imprisoned members of the ‘Angola 3′, three young black men who were thrown in solitary confinement after working against continued segregation, systematic corruption, and grave abuses in the infamous Angola prison. Originally imprisoned for unrelated cases of armed robbery, Herman and Albert were later convicted for the murder of a prison guard in 1972. However, no physical evidence links either man to the murder.

In the decades since Herman and Albert’s conviction, numerous legal concerns have risen to the surface from the racially charged underbelly of the U.S. prison system. These are just a few glaring flaws we documented in our report ‘100 Years in Solitary: The ‘Angola 3′ and their Fight for Justice’1:

  • DNA evidence that might have established the men’s innocence was somehow “lost”
  • Outcomes were based on questionable inmate testimony
  • Prison officials bribed the main eyewitness
  • One witness later retracted his testimony

Prison authorities have broken their own policies to justify Herman’s continued incarceration in harsh and inhumane conditions. After decades in these conditions, a highly questionable conviction that continues to be challenged by the courts and the now a tragic prognosis of terminal cancer, the next step seems all too clear: Herman Wallace should be released.

Help begin to correct more than 40 years of injustice right now – call on Louisiana’s Governor Bobby Jindal to release Herman Wallace immediately.

In Solidarity,

Jasmine Heiss
Amnesty International USA

P.S. Please join us in reminding the two men that we are standing with them, even if the state of Louisiana tries to keep them in isolation. Send your letter of support directly to Herman and Albert – show them you care.

Opening the Box: Sarah Shourd on Herman Wallace, California Hunger Strikers and the Horror of Solitary Confinement

10:51 am in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

(View new photo of Herman Wallace without leg irons, using an exercise bike, following his recent transfer from solitary confinement. Herman wanted to show supporters he is fighting to survive.)

Opening the Box: Sarah Shourd on Herman Wallace, California Hunger Strikers and the Horror of Solitary Confinement

By Angola 3 News

Who is Herman Wallace? .com
Last month, we were devastated to learn that the Angola 3’s Herman Wallace had been diagnosed with liver cancer, and that he was continuing to be held in isolation in a locked room at Hunt Correctional Center’s prison infirmary. Reflecting on his confinement while battling cancer, Herman said: “My own body has now become a tool of torture against me.”

On July 10, Amnesty International launched a campaign directed at Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, calling for Herman’s immediate release on humanitarian grounds (take action here). “After decades of cruel conditions and a conviction that continues to be challenged by the courts, he should be released immediately to his family so that he can be cared for humanely during his last months,” said Amnesty USA campaigner Tessa Murphy.
In recent years, Amnesty has initiated other campaigns challenging the over 41 years spent in solitary confinement by Herman and Albert Woodfox, also of the Angola 3, including the April 17, 2012 delivery of a 67,000 signature petition to LA Governor Jindal demanding Albert and Herman’s immediate release from solitary. Earlier this year, Amnesty called on Louisiana Attorney General James Caldwell to not appeal the US District Court’s overturning of Albert’s conviction. More recently, accompanying their call for Herman’s release, Amnesty also expressed concern about “the worsening conditions of confinement” for Albert at David Wade Correctional Center, where he remains in solitary confinement. “For approximately two months, Woodfox has been subjected to additional punitive measures – including strip searches each time he leaves or enters his cell, being escorted in ankle and wrist restraints, restricted phone access, and non-contact visits through a perforated metal screen. Temperatures in the prison cells are reportedly extremely high, regularly reaching up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit,” wrote Amnesty.

Public outrage intensified on Friday, July 12, when a letter citing the Angola 3 case, was sent to the Civil Rights Division of the US Justice Department by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Ranking Member of the full U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, and Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-La.). The letter called for an investigation of the Louisiana Departments of Corrections for its “abysmal history of protecting the rights of its prisoners,” of which the “tragic story of the Angola 3 is a case in point.”

About Herman Wallace, the Congressmen wrote: “We have heard that he lost over 50 pounds within 6 months.  Despite that dramatic weight loss, and at 72 years old, the prison did nothing to treat or diagnose him until he was sent to an emergency room on June 14.   Given the late stage of his diagnosis, his treatment options are now limited.  He is frail and ill, but is still being treated as if he is a threat to security, and we hear that he remains under lockdown conditions. This is unconscionable.”

Within hours of the letter’s release, Herman Wallace was transferred out of solitary confinement, when Louisiana’s Hunt prison reduced his classification from maximum to medium security. Herman is now staying at the prison hospital in a 10-bunk dorm, with access to a day room, and does not have to wear leg irons anymore. While celebrating the more human conditions, Herman and the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3 emphasize that the transfer from solitary is not enough. They are asking folks to continue supporting Amnesty International’s call for humane release. The Angola 3’s Robert H. King, himself released in 2001 after 29 years in solitary confinement, says, “The wind is at our back and with your continued help our objective will be realized – freedom is in sight.”

The case of the Angola 3 is at the center of a 42-day fundraising drive begun for a touring play, entitled Opening the Box, that will focus on the use of prolonged solitary confinement in US prisons. The choice of fundraising for 42 days is a tribute to the almost 42 years spent in solitary by Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox. The writer and producer of Opening the Box, Sarah Shourd, is herself a survivor, having spent 410 days in solitary confinement while held as a political hostage by the Iranian Government from 2009-2010. After returning to the US, she successfully fought for the release of her now-husband Shane Bauer and friend Josh Fatal.

Conceived specifically “to add to the momentum of a burgeoning movement” against solitary, Shourd will be working with Solitary Watch to “collect real stories from a diverse spectrum of people living in solitary confinement today–immigrants, children, lifers and women. Then, I’m going to write a play about it and go on tour.”

“While watching this play, I want the audience to breathe along with a young man having a panic attack after being denied a visit with his mother, to crawl inside the skin of an immigrant detainee terrified of being deported and to travel with a lifer on a magic carpet of memory–only to be pulled back into the stark, implacable reality of the hole. By hearing these stories, my hope is that the audience will be able to relate to the men and women enduring this torture in our prisons, to their pain but also to their resistance to the dehumanizing forces around them, their incredible resilience…and their refusal to be institutionalized,” explains Shourd.

In this interview, which Shourd dedicates to Herman Wallace, we take a closer look at her project, Opening the Box, as well as the ongoing prisoner hunger strike in California, the Angola 3 case, and the politics of prisons in the US. Currently based in Oakland, California, Shourd is an author and Contributing Editor at Solitary Watch. Before being captured by the Iranian government, Shourd was living in a Palestinian Refugee Camp in Damascus, Syria, working as a journalist and teaching for the Iraqi Student Project. She’s written for The New York Times, CNN, Newsweek’s Daily Beast and has a blog on Huffington Post. Her memoir (co-authored by Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal) will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Spring 2014. To learn more visit sarahshourd.com and/or follow her on Twiiter @SShourd.

Angola 3 News:         Why did you choose to spotlight the case of the Angola 3 with 42 days of fundraising?
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