Albert Woodfox was released last Friday after spending 43 years in Solitary Confinement in a 6 x 9 ft cell for 23 hrs a day in Angola prison in Louisiana, longer than anyone in the history of the United States. Albert Woodfox was one of 3 black me arrested in the 60’s for being involved wit the Black Panther party. He went straight to his mothers grave because he wasn’t allowed out when she died. He also visited his sisters grave who died while he was behind bars.
Albert was serving a 5 year sentence for armed robbery when he and another inmate, Herman Wallace, were accused of stabbing a Corrections Officer in 1972 extending his sentence. Albert and Herman always maintained their innocence and said they were targeted for organizing a chapter of the Black Panther party in the prison, protesting against horrific prison conditions. Along with a 3rd man, Robert King, were known as the Angola 3. Amnesty International and other groups campaigned to free the 3 men. Woodfox was the last of the 3 men to be freed. Robert King was freed in 2001 when his conviction of murdering an inmate was overturned. Herman Wallace was freed in 2013, a few days before dying of cancer but, the state refused to free Woodfox until last Friday.
Woodfox’ first conviction was overturned and the state of Louisiana retried him successfully in 1998. A federal Judge ruled in 2014 that Woodfox should be freed on the grounds of racial discrimination in his retrial. Then, Attorney General, Buddy Caldwell planned to try Albert Woodfox again. U.S. middle court judge, James Brady, ordered Albert’s release based on 5 facts; Albert’s age and poor health, the unavailability to provide witnesses, “This court lacks the confidence of the state to provide a fair 3rd trial, The prejudice done onto Mr Woodfox by spending 40 years in Solitary Confinement, and finally, the very fact that Mr. Woodfox has already been tried twice and would otherwise face a third trial for a crime that occurred over 40 years ago.” The 5th circuit then approved continued detention for Albert.
Amy Goodman asks Albert Woodfox how it feels to be “Free”. That would mean that all of us out here are free and nothing could be further from the truth. Albert Woodfox might not be it literal prison but, he is still in the prison in his mind and in this larger prison called society.
Albert Woodfox was able to read in is cell which enabled him to maintain his focus and not be broken by being in solitary and stay in touch with the outside world. He read history books and books on Malcolm X, Dr King, & James Baldwin. Albert was allowed 2 visitors a month but, his family was unable to come too much due to distance.
A key witness in the “murder” of the Corrections Officer said he witnessed the murder but, who’s credibility was questionable. At first the witness said he wasn’t anywhere around and knew nothing about the murder. A couple of night later he was dragged out of bed in the middle of the night and interrogated under bright lights and told by the guards on night duty if he helped them crack the case they would get the “witness” his freedom. The “witness”, Hezakiah Brown, then said the killers were Wallace and Woodfox. Hilton Butler, a former Warden, is heard on tape saying that “you could words in Hezakiah Brown’s mouth.
Albert Woodfox stated that at that time he and Herman Wallace were very active in the prison organizing resistance around the corruption in the prison such as brutal beatings, and killings. It’s ironic that those organizing against brutal beatings and killings, even of the guard, are the ones blamed for killing the guard and put into CCR. Even the wife of the guard said she did not believe Woodfox and Wallace killed her husband. She said “It’s time the state stop acting like there’s any evidence that Albert Woodfox killed Brent. After years of looking at the evidence and soul searching and praying I realized I could not believe what I was told to believe by a state that did not take care of Brent while he was working at Angola and did not take care of me when he was killed”, Teenie Rodgers.
Long time Angola Warden Burl Cain said he would keep Woodfox in lockdown regardless of his crimes since, “I know he’s still trying to practice Black Pantherism”.
Albert Woodfox, “BURL CAIN AND BUDDY CALDWELL MADE THIS CASE PERSONAL. SO PERSONAL TO THE POINT WHERE THEY TOTALLY DISREGARD CONSTITUTION, STATUTORY LAW, DUE PROCESS, LACK OF EVIDENCE. THEY JUST DECIDED I WAS GUILTY, HERMAN WAS GUILTY AND KEEP US IN JAIL UNTIL WE BOTH DIED. Unfortunately, they almost succeeded. As tragic as it was to lose Herman, he died a Free man”.
And Might I add,, This is EXACTLY how this ENTIRE country is run! People in “power”, from “Parents” to “Presidents”, Corporations and bankers (but corporations and banks are not in power to protect and raise the people), doing what ever they want irregardless of laws, truth, justice and facts.
I am so compelled to write after hearing stories like this because it’s the same situation I felt and experienced growing up in my house as a child. I’m not going to stop writing about my upbringing because I had no voice for so long, was silenced exactly like Albert Woodfox, Robert King and Herman Wallace not because of any facts, truth or evidence but, because of people abusing their power and making situations personal.
My story is very similar except it happened with people who are supposed to be family. I naturally protested in my house about the unacceptable conditions of domestic violence, stress and abuse I was forced to live with as a child. I’ve written about it on a previous blogs and have to write about it over and over to plead my own case of feeling guilty since I’m 8 years old for standing up for myself and needing those in “power” to do their jobs and at least make an attempt to create a decent, healthy environment I could grow in.
The same thing that happened to Wallace and Woodfox happened to me. It was personal. Who ever has power, as incompetent and they are, can just decide to make someone guilty and imprison them. The “family” is the easiest place this is done. “Parents” or a “parent” as in my case because my father was out of the house by the time I was 6, who are not emotionally mature, which most are not, can easily respond from a place of Personal and be triggered by a child’s healthy resistance and determination to assert their separateness.
I’ve read and studied many books on emotional and relationship health over the decades for this exact reason. It doesn’t matter who someone is or what their role in life is, if they’re emotionally immature and developmentally arrested they will abuse their power and do to innocent people what warden, Burl Cain and attorney general, Buddy Caldwell did to the Angola 3. The same thing my mother did to me. The very people depended upon to protect our rights, stand for truth and justice are doing the exact OPPOSITE and VIOLATING them instead!
I felt psychologically imprisoned my entire life not just from having my rights violated in my house by my “parent” but, when I stood up to that abusive parent I was guilted again by neighbors and other “adults” around me who all made excuses and let off the very person who is supposed to be there for me to rely on. So many people are programmed to let those in “power” off, even when they’re clearly wrong and abusive. People are completely Unconscious. This is what must be addressed. It’s the actions and the behaviors that need to be paid attention to, not what position a person holds. I call it, looking at the ingredients instead of the packaging. Look beneath the surface to who the person is, not what’s on the outside, like you would if you were on a date with someone.
Just as in the case of 28 year old Akai Gurley here in Brooklyn, NY, killed by NYPD Peter Liang last Nov when Peter Liang mistakenly fired his gun which ricocheted off a stairwell wall hitting Gurley in the chest killing him. Asians started rallying around Asian Peter Liang calling to get the conviction dropped saying it was accidental. The Aunt of Akai Gurley points out the same fact that I tried pointing out decades ago when people said the same thing about my mother, “oh, her abuse was unintentional, She didn’t mean to cause harm”, or “she couldn’t raise you good because nobody taught her”. All these “excuses” are Betrayals and NOT things ADULTS should be telling a child. Adults these days are total LOSERS and COWARDS and pretty soon it will be revealed because Nature does not tolerate excuses. People are Clearly Advocating then, being allowed to pass down their incompetence. They, literally, were telling me right to my face, just like in the case of Woodfox and Wallace, that people in “power” can do what ever they want and get away with it. The “adults”, instead of stepping up to the bar and being the smart, role model people children need and deserve, instead, guilt a child into submission and brainwash them into accepting garbage and abuse. THIS IS THE WORLD WE ARE LIVING IN.
In Akai Gurley’s case, his Aunt, Hertencia Petersen addressed the Asians rallying to let off Peter Liang telling them that if it was such a mistake killing her nephew then why didn’t Peter Liang do anything to help Akai Gurley? Why didn’t Peter Liang call for help instead of worrying about his job and calling his Union rep instead? Why didn’t Peter Liang administer CPR on Akai Gurley himself as he is trained instead of an untrained downstairs neighbor doing it?
The VERY SAME point I was left on my own to make as a CHILD to the “adults” I was surrounded by when they through all the Lame reasons not ONE adult could be there for you. If my mother was so unintentional, then why didn’t she apologies, why didn’t she do anything to make up for the harm she clearly caused? Why didn’t she admit responsibility as she was, instead of trying to save herself and pawn the responsibility onto me, the total innocent one? Why didn’t she ever do anything to change her behavior and try to do better? Instead, she just kept right on doing the same behavior for the rest of her life.
Is natural law going to simply be suspended because a “parent” calls in sick indefinitely? Is a child magically going to not have needs that must be met just because a “parent” is incompetent and emotionally unfit? People think if they have excuses natural law is going to just be suspended and let them off the hook. Nature will function no matter what and people will need what they need and deserve what they deserve irregardless of whether or not someone in power likes it or not.
All people deserve to be healthy and free. All people deserve to grow to be their unique selves and share their unique talents and gifts with the world. For anyone to assert themselves and their spirit, especially in conditions of abuse and brutality, is called NORMAL and HEALTHY. For a warden or a “parent” to want to crush a person simply for being healthy and asserting their rights, self worth and practice Black Pantherism because they feel threatened and get off on using their power to violate people’s rights is the most egregious abuse of power there is. These people in power are there to UPHOLD LAWS, UPHOLD JUSTICE, PROTECT PEOPLE’S RIGHTS, NOT VIOLATE THEM. How this Attorney General got away with it is also due to the fact that people in the “justice” system bow to people in power worse than the Angola 3 did. Why doesn’t someone in the Justice system in Louisiana step up and say something about the abuse of power that’s going on to get the warden and AG held accountable?
When are people going to function according to nature and health instead of what’s on the surface? This judge completely disregarded LAW, DUE PROCESS, the CONSTITUTION and made a case personal! That’s OUTRAGEOUS! And those responsible for keeping Albert Woodfox in Solitary for 43 years need to be arrested and placed in Solitary themselves!