Saturday, September 1, 2012

VIDEO: Amnesty International Delivers 67,000 Signature Petition for the Angola 3 at the Louisiana State Capitol on April 17, 2012, Marking 40 Years of Solitary Confinement

Sign Amnesty International's new petition here!


On April 17, 2012, Amnesty International was joined by a delegation of supporters, holding a press conference at the Louisiana State Capitol building in Baton Rouge, LA, and hand delivering to Governor Bobby Jindal's office the petition initiated by Amnesty International demanding the immediate release of the Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox from solitary confinement.

Governor Jindal refused to meet with the delegation despite several attempts made by Amnesty International to contact him in the weeks leading up to the petition delivery. Jindal ultimately referred the issue to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections. In response, the following month, Amnesty launched a new online petition directed to the Secretary of that department, James M. LeBlanc, still calling for Albert and Herman's immediately release from solitary.

In a statement released the day of the press conference, Everette Harvey Thompson, Southern Office Regional Director of Amnesty International USA, argued that "the 40-year isolated incarceration of these two men is scandalous. There is no legitimate penal purpose for keeping these men in solitary - Louisiana authorities must end this inhumanity." The day before, Thompson told Between the Lines: "We've contacted Gov. Jindal's office many times over the past couple of weeks, requesting a meeting to discuss the case of the Angola 3, to inquire about the use of solitary confinement in this case, and there's been no response. Gov. Jindal has the opportunity to stand on the right side of justice and order removal of Albert and Herman from isolation. We really hope he will take heed and make some moves."

Herman and Albert each prepared statements for April 17. Herman reflected: "Exactly 40 years ago today, April 17, we will have been incarcerated for 40 years in solitary confinement in the USA. This is nothing new to Albert and I, nor to hundreds of thousands in US prisons." Commenting on the effects of solitary, Albert said: "To be honest I am not sure what damage has been done to me, but I do know that the feeling of pain allows me to know that I am alive. If I dwelled on the pain I have endured and stopped to think about how 40 years locked in a cage 23 hours a day has affected me, it would give insanity the victory it has sought for 40 years."

Following the event, King writes that "standing on the State Capitol steps on Tuesday 17 April, I felt the power of the people, of 65,000 people and more - all those who have supported the Angola 3 over the years were also with us. We could not be ignored - the media were there and wanted to report on this, organizations stood by our side in support. Amnesty's presence was felt. For me the day was bitter sweet, bitter with a deep sadness that we were marking this day but sweet seeing the years of efforts and struggle culminating in this day. The tide is changing and the time for change is now. We have the wind at our back and we need to keep on moving."

We want to thank everyone who has supported this campaign! Among the powerful lineup of A3 supporters at the petition delivery and press conference were Alfreda Bester-Tillman, Esq. from the Baton Rouge Chapter of the NAACP, Pastor Kathleen Bacon from the Slidell Chapter of the National Action Network, US Representative Cedric Richmond and State Representative Patricia Haynes-Smith, Chair of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus.

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