Abu-Jamal, Mumia #AM 8335 SCI-Mahanoy, 301 Morea Rd., Frackville, PA 17932 Birthday: April 24, 1954 Mumia Abu-Jamal was a founding member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Black Panther Party as a teenager and later became a renowned journalist. Known as the “Voice of the Voiceless,” he reported on police attacks on MOVE, a radical organization, in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Mumia was shot by a uniformed police officer in 1981 and later wrongfully accused and sentenced for allegedly shooting Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. He has been on death row since 1983. New evidence, including the recantation of key eyewitnesses, new ballistic and forensic evidence and a confession from Arnold Beverly (one of the two killers of Officer Faulkner) points to his innocence. For the last 23 years, Mumia has been locked up 23 hours a day, denied contact visits with his family, had his confidential legal mail illegally opened by prison authorities, and put into punitive detention for writing his first of three books while in prison, Live From Death Row. Undaunted, he continues to write, fight, and organize from death row. For more information on Mumia see: http://www.mumia.org
Azania, Zolo #4969 Indiana State Prison, 1 Park Row, Michigan City, IN 46360 Birthday: December 12, 1954 Zolo Agona Azania is one of the many persons of African descent who await execution as a victim of a racially biased criminal justice system. Since 1981, when he was convicted the killing of a Gary Indiana police officer during a bank robbery, he has been sentenced to die twice. Yet twice the death sentence has been reversed on appeal due to suppression of favorable evidence by the prosecution, ineffective assistance of counsel, and systematic exclusion of Blacks from the jury pool (Azania v. State, 778 N.E.2d 1253, Ind. 2002). Zolo is a prolific writer and an accomplished artist whose work has been exhibited in many places around the country. His writing and his art reflect who he is: a person who lives his beliefs. Zolo’s political commitment dates back over 25 years. The fact that he defined himself as a New Afrikan and was committed to the self-determination of Black people within the U.S., directly influenced the way the police, prosecution, and courts denied him a fair trial and fanned the flames of prejudice to obtain the death penalty. Zolo has continued to struggle for his own freedom, on behalf of other prisoners, for the liberation of his people and for the better world he envisions for all people. For more information on Zolo see: http://www.zoloazania.org
Bell, Herman #79C0262 Great Meadow Correctional Facility 11739 State Route 22, P.O. Box 51, Comstock, NY 12821-0051 Birthday: January 14, 1948 Herman Bell is a former Black Panther and one of the New York 3 (along with Jalil Muntaqim and Nuh Washington). He has been imprisoned for the past 32 years. He is scheduled to appear before the New York State Parole Board in February 2006 for the second time since the inception of his sentence. Herman was born and raised in the rural South by a large, loving but economically disenfranchised family. At the age of 7, his father came to take him to live in New York City, where he could have a better education. He spent the rest of his youth in the city, then came West via a college football scholarship. It was in the Bay Area that Herman was introduced to and became a member of the Black Panther Party. He participated in the Party’s successful, self-sustaining community programs. Later, Herman was driven underground by COINTELPRO. He was captured in 1973 and convicted in 1975 for the killing of two policemen in New York City in 1971. Herman and his co-defendants (known as the New York 3) received a hung jury at the end of their first trial. So the government ramped up its efforts during the second trial by forcing one of their comrades, whom the government had brutally tortured, to turn state’s evidence and offering to drop charges against another witness for her testimony. The conviction of the New York 3 was apriority of the FBI and the Nixon Whitehouse, code named “Operation Newkill.” Herman has remained committed to the struggle and stayed active in prison, coaching football and teaching Black Studies courses. In 1995, he met two environmental activist farmers from Maine, and together they created the Victory Gardens Project. From 2002 on, Herman has been instrumental in the production of an annual calendar with the help of Montreal activists. Herman is an example of the resilience of Africans in America, despite incredible repression. Herman is currently appealing the denial of his parole in 2006.
Bottom, Anthony Jalil #77A4283 Attica Correctional Facility, P.O. Box 149, Attica NY 14011-0149 Birthday: October 18, 1951 Jalil Muntaqim is one of the founders of the Jericho Movement. He is responsible for the National Prisoners’ Campaign to Petition the United Nations in 1976 which ultimately resulted in the U.N. finding that there were political prisoners held by the United States. He continues to be active with the New Afrikan Liberation Front and the Jericho Movement. When he was arrested in 1971, Jalil, then known as Anthony Bottom, was employed as a social worker for the California State Employment Office. He was 19 and a veteran activist. As a high school student he was involved in NAACP youth organizing and was a leading member of the Black Student Union. Because of his ability to articulate the issues that confronted Black students, Jalil often toured San Jose, California, in what was called “speakout” with the BSU Chairman of San Jose State and City College. After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, he joined the San Francisco chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, and later, as a result of COINTELPRO, the Black Liberation Army. Jalil has a daughter and a granddaughter. He states: “I came to prison an expectant father and will leave prison a grandfather.” Jalil has always struggled against oppression and for a world where human beings can treat each other with respect and love. For more information about Jalil, see: http://www.freejalil.com
Bowers, Veronza #35316-136 USP Atlanta, P.O. Box 150160, Atlanta, GA 30315 Birthday: February 4 Veronza Bowers Jr. is a former member of the Black Panther Party incarcerated in federal prison for over three decades making him one of the longest-held political prisoners in U.S. history. In the 30-plus years of his confinement, Veronza has become a “model “prisoner. He is an author, musician, a student of Asian healing arts and has a strong interest in Buddhist meditation as well as “hands-on” healing techniques which he practiced at the various facilities in which he was incarcerated. Veronza is also an honorary elder of the Lompoc Tribe of Five Feathers, a Native American spiritual and cultural group. He is a mentor and founder of the All-Faith Meditation Group, a non-denominational spiritual organization devoted to healing meditation using the traditional Japanese shakuhachi flute. Veronza was convicted in the murder of a U.S. Park Ranger on the word of two government informers, both of whom received reduced sentences for other crimes by the Federal prosecutor’s office. There were no eye-witnesses and no evidence independent of these informants to link him to the crime. At his trial, Veronza offered alibi testimony which was not credited by the jury. Nor was testimony of two relatives of the informants who insisted that they were lying. The informants had all charges against them in this case dropped and one was given $10,000 by the government according to the prosecutor’s post-sentencing report. Veronza has consistently proclaimed his innocence of the crime he never committed. On June 21, 2005 Veronza was to be released on mandatory parole after more than 31 years of incarceration as per a decision of the U.S. Parole Commission in Washington, D.C. Inexplicably, Veronza’s release was cancelled and he remains in prison. For more information on Veronza see: http://www.veronza.org
Fitzgerald, Romaine “Chip” #B-27527 Kern Valley State Prison, A-5-110 P.O. Box 5101, Delano, California 93216 http://www.freechip.org/ Birthday: April 11, 1949 Romain “Chip” Fitzgerald, is a former member of the Black Panther Party who has been in prison since 1968. After being convicted of murder, he was the first Black Panther railroaded to Death Row, but fortunately the death penalty was rescinded by the Supreme Court in 1972, so his death sentence was changed to a life sentence. Chip suffered a stroke in 1998 and is partially paralyzed. He is one of the longest held political prisoners in the world.
Hayes, Robert Seth #74-A-2280 Sullivan Correctional Facility, P.O. Box 116, Fallsburg, NY 12733-0116 Birthday: October 15, 1948 Robert Seth Hayes is, in his own words, “an African-American freedom fighter and an incarcerated political prisoner and a prisoner of war for over 32 years.” He “served honorably in Vietnam, yet felt the war was wrong,” and upon returning to North America, joined the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, “fighters willing to take on corporate ownership of government in order to help empower the working class and help usher in a more humane society.” He writes, “If in the event I am not soon released, I will maintian a commitment to struggle till liberation or death comes to embrace me. For this struggle, I do commit, to free the land and its inhabitants.” Seth is currently appealing the denial of his parole in 2006. For more information on Seth see: http://www.sethhayes.org
Hoover, Larry #86063-024 Florence ADMAX, P.O. Box 8500, Florence, CO 81226 Birthday: November 30, 1950 Odinga, Sekou #09A3775 Clinton Correctional Facility, P.O. Box 2001, Dannemora, NY 12929 Birthday: June 17, 1944 Sekou Mgobogi Abdullah Odinga is a Muslim and a New Afrikan Prisoner of War. He is a veteran of the struggle for self-determination for people of African descent in North America. In 1965 he joined the Organization of African American Unity, founded by El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X), and by 1968 he helped to found the New York branch of the Black Panther Party (BPP), becoming the section leader of the Bronx section. He writes, “In 1970, I was asked to go to Algeria to help set up the International section of the BPP. After the split in the Party, caused by the COINTELPRO program, I decided to come back to the U.S. to continue the struggle. I continued to work until my capture in October of 1981.” He was later convicted of attempted murder of police, the liberation of Assata Shakur and expropriation of an armored truck.
Poindexter, Ed # 27767 Nebraska State Penitentiary, P.O. Box 2500, Lincoln, NE 68542 Birthday: November 1, 1944 On August 17, 1970, the Omaha, Nebraska Police Department received a 911 emergency phone call. The caller reported that a woman was screaming for help from a vacant house. The address given for the house was 2867 Ohio Street. The police arrived at the scene and started to investigate. No screaming woman was found. Near the doorway of the house was a suitcase. The officers stepped over the suitcase to get into the house. As a search of the house was being conducted, an explosion occurred. Police officer Larry Minard, who was near the suitcase, was killed instantly. Investigation showed that the suitcase contained dynamite and was set to explode when moved. Arrested for placing the bomb was Duane Peak, age 15. Peak was charged with first degree murder for planting the bomb. In an attempt to lighten his sentence, Peak implicated Mondo we Langa and Edward Poindexter. Mondo we Langa was a member of the National Committee to Combat Fascism. This group consisted of Black Panther Party members who were working to protect the Black community from police brutality. Mondo we Langa was Minister of Information in the NCCF and Ed was its Deputy Director. Mondo’s and Ed’s political beliefs and actions were the principal reason that they were convicted. There are documents confirming that the FBI, as part of COINTELPRO, helped to suppress evidence in this case that would have completely discredited the key witness against Mondo and Ed. Mondo and Ed were convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1971. Both Mondo and Ed insist they are completely innocent of this crime. They believe they were framed for the murder of this police officer because they were organizers in the Omaha’s chapter of the Black Panther party. Mondo and Ed pleaded innocent at their trial and for 32 years they have maintained that the testimony of Duane Peak was complete fiction. Amnesty International and the NAACP are among the national organizations which support the immediate release of these two PP’s. For more information see: http://www.n2pp.info
Shakur, Mutulu #83205-012 Federal Correctional Complex, P.O. Box 3900, Adelanto, CA 92301 Birthday: August 8, 1950 Dr. Mutulu Shakur is a New Afrikan political prisoner whose primary work has been in the area of health. He is a doctor of acupuncture and has been devoted to improving health care in the Black community. He has been active in the New Afrikan Independence Movement, the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), a Black Nationalist group, and the National Committee to Free Political Prisoners. In March 1982, Dr. Shakur and 10 others were indicted by a federal grand jury. After 5 years underground, Dr. Shakur was arrested on February 12, 1986. He was charged, convicted, and was sentenced to 60 years, for allegedly perpetrating a conspiracy against the United States government, regarding the activities of the Black Liberation Army/New Afrikan Freedom Fighters; charges which consisted of expropriations of funds, which reportedly went to liberation movements throughout the United States, and throughout the world; regarding the liberation of Prisoners of War inside the U.S. prisons, such as Assata Shakur, and the perpetuation of an underground network. His son Tupac Shakur was assassinated in 1996, and Dr. Shakur believes that this was part of a COINTELPRO operation. (See http://www.mutulushakur.com/tupac.html) Shoats,
Russell Maroon #AF-3855 SCI Graterford, P.O. Box 244, Graterford, PA 19426-0246 Birthday: August 23, 1943 Russell Maroon Shoats was a founding member of Philadelphia’s Black Unity Council which eventually merged with the Black Panther Party. While a member of the Philly Panther chapter Maroon was arrested and tried for the murder of a police officer. He received an unfair trial, and without adequate legal representation he received two life sentences. Maroon has spent decades in a lock-down sensory deprivation unit. He continues to struggle from inside prison. Maroon is being held in the control unit of SCI Greene, a supermax prison in western Pennsylvania. Maroon is aging in prison, like many of our freedom fighters, and has some serious health problems. Maroon is a 61-year-old man who has been in prison for over 33 years. He is a father, grandfather and “model prisoner,” who has only had one minor rule infraction in over 15 years.
Tyler, Gary # 84156 Louisiana State Penitentiary, ASH-4, Angola LA 70712 Birthday: July 10, 1959 Gary Tyler (also known as Eusi Kuumba) is almost 50 years old, but he has been locked up, mostly in Louisiana’s notorious Angola penitentiary, since he was only 16. He has spent most of his life in prison, because he spoke truth to power, and refused to acquiesce to oppression. He is a symbol of Black people’s resistance to white supremacy and colonialism in North America. In 1975, euro-americans were resisting court ordered desegregation of Louisiana’s school system. Gary Tyler was a high school student on a bus filled with Black students that was attacked by a white mob. A shot was fired, and a 13 year old white boy standing nearby was killed. Gary was arrested for talking back to a deputy sheriff, and, hours later, police claimed to find a gun hidden in the seat where he had been sitting in the bus. He was charged with murder and convicted by an all-white jury in a case presided over by an openly racist judge. A federal appeals court ruled in 1980 that his 1975 trial was “fundamentally unfair,” and that there was “very little evidence to support” the judge’s rulings, yet upheld his conviction on procedural grounds. (Tyler v. Phelps, 643 F.2d 1095, 5th Cir. 1981). However, Gary has remained steadfast and refuses to be overcome with bitterness.
Woodfox, Albert #72148 David Wade Correctional Center, N1 A3 670 Bell Hill Rd., Homer, LA 71040 Birthday: February 19, 1947 In 1971, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox were political activists serving time for robbery convictions at Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison, a vast former slave plantation which today is the country’s largest prison. They were immediately targeted by authorities as subversives. When a guard, Brent Miller, was stabbed to death in April 1972, the warden terrorized the prison’s black population for days with mass beatings, and intimidated and bribed an inmate into accusing four people, including the two troublemakers. This man, convicted of aggravated rape and serving a life sentence, was promised a carton of cigarettes a week for his services, and later won release after a campaign by the warden and guards. The two Panthers were sentenced to life without parole. So far the two men have survived through 34 years of solitary confinement. Soon after Miller’s killing, Robert ’King’ Wilkerson was sent to Angola with a robbery conviction and a reputation for Panther activism. He was told he was ‘under investigation’ immediately and put into solitary, and was only told 19 years later that it was for Miller’s murder, which had happened before his arrival. In 1973, there was a fight on his tier between two prisoners and one was stabbed to death; Wilkerson was indicted along with the man in the fight. One of the state’s two witnesses refused to testify this time, saying later the warden had written out his testimony for him, and Wilkerson’s codefendant swore he had acted in self-defense, without Wilkerson. Despite all this, the jury convicted Wilkerson and sentenced him to life without parole. Wilkerson agreed despite his innocence to plead to accessory after the fact, just to win his freedom, but when he arrived in court, the state wanted him to plead to conspiracy to commit murder. He finally accepted, and walked out of Angola in 2001, after nearly 30 years in solitary confinement. Today he is active in supporting his comrades, and participates in fundraising for PP’s. Sadly Herman Wallace died of cancer in 2013. For more information on the Angola Three, see: http://www.angola3.org