Friday, September 25, 2009

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Dan Berger on Political Prisoners in the United States

This new interview with author/activist Dan Berger was conducted in the Winter of 2009. The interview is mostly based on Berger's essay "The Real Dragons: A Brief History of Political Militancy and Incarceration: 1960s to 2000s," which is featured in the book "Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S. Political Prisoners" (PM Press, 2008).

In part one, Berger discusses his new research into US prison movements of the 1970s, which Berger is researching and writing about for his PhD dissertation at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

In part two, Berger discusses prisoner movements today, particularly in light of the recent ten-year anniversaries of both Critical Resistance and The Jericho Movement.

Dan Berger is a writer and activist living in Philadelphia. He is the author of "Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity" (AK Press, 2006) and co-editor of "Letters From Young Activists: Today’s Rebels Speak Out" (Nation Books, 2005). Presently, along with his dissertation about 1970s prison movements, he is editing a book about 1970s-era radicalism, titled "Hidden Histories of 1970s Radicalism" (forthcoming from Rutgers University Press in Fall, 2010). His writings have also been published in The International Journal of Communication, The Nation, Punishment & Society, WireTap, Z Magazine, and elsewhere.

The grandson of Holocaust survivors, Berger has long been involved in struggles for social justice. From 2000 to 2003, he served as founding co-editor of ONWARD, a now-defunct internationally distributed quarterly anarchist newspaper based in Gainesville, Florida, that emerged out of the global justice movement. Berger has also been involved in an array of organizing efforts against war, racism, and the prison industrial complex. A longtime activist in support of U.S. political prisoners, Berger has published and presented scholarly essays on news images and prison abuse, alternative media and globalization, and race and social movements.

This new video-interview is made by Angola 3 News, which is an official project of The International Coalition to Free the Angola 3. Through our work supporting the Angola 3, we seeks to spotlight the broader issues that are central to their story, like racism, repression, prisons, human rights, solitary confinement as torture, political prisoners, the legacy of the Black Panther Party, and more. Our first video focused on California death row prisoner Kevin Cooper. Please stay tuned for future videos and more original multi-media projects!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A3 Newsletter: Exciting Weekend in Louisiana; Robert King's book tour; and more‏

Below is the complete newsletter just released by the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3. Please help spread the word!

Live In Louisiana - This Weekend

In a recent email planning meals around this weekend's activities, longtime Angola 3 supporter and House That Herman Built creator, artist, Jackie Sumell wrote:

"Erica, our neighbor/7th Ward mom is doing a fish fry on friday- and cooking all the food here at our house- I would propose also to make that a venue, and spend $6 a plate for homegrown happiness? IT'S SO NICE TO BE HERE RIGHT NOW, ISN'T IT?"

We couldn't agree more - here's to our fabulous supporters in New Orleans!!!!!

-International Coalition to Free the Angola 3

New Play "Angola 3" Will Premier Friday at Loyola University

As announced on Loyola University's website, the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law chapter of the National Lawyers Guild presents the play "Angola 3" this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 18 and 19, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 20, at 2 p.m., in Monroe Hall's Nunemaker Auditorium on Loyola's main campus. A reception will be held on Friday at 7:15 p.m. before the performance.

Please help by supporting the play. Playwright Parnell Herbert was recently interviewed on You Tube and Blog Talk Radio. Read more at

A3 Event at Southeastern Louisiana University on Thursday, September 17

Featuring former BPP members Billy X Jennings and Malik Rahim; Jackie Sumell of "The House That Herman Built"; Robert King, a member of the Angola 3 who was released in 2001; and a screening of the movie "The Angola 3: Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation."


Campus Organization Seeks the Release of the Angola 3

Contact Person:
Rebecca Hensley (Phone 985-201-4393)

Featuring former BPP members Billy X Jennings, Malik Rahim; Jackie Sumell of "The House That Herman Built"; Robert King, a member of the Angola 3 who released in 2001; and a screening of the movie "The Angola 3: Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation. The Southeastern Louisiana University Student Union complex will be the location of a major regional event on Thursday, September 17th, when the Southeastern Sociological Association student organization hosts an event supporting the release of Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace, the two remaining incarcerated members of the Angola 3. Originally targeted as Black Panther Party members for successfully organizing the prisoners at the infamous Angola Prison in the early 1970's to stop prisoner-to-prisoner violence, Woodfox and Wallace were framed for the murder of a White guard in 1972 and placed in 6' X 9' single cells for 23 hours per day ever since.

A visit from U.S. Representative John Conyers, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, in 2008 garnered the two men several months in a specially designed dorm, but they have since been returned to their earlier conditions. Human rights organization Amnesty International has reported that the two may have now been held in solitary confinement longer than anyone of whom they are aware in any country ever.

"Even after a State Judicial Commissioner recommended the reversal of Wallace's conviction because of prosecutorial misconduct and despite Woodfox' conviction being overturned twice now, both men remain in solitary confinement yet," said Rebecca Hensley, S.S.A. advisor and sociology instructor at the University.

The event will feature award-winning documentaries and internationally-recognized speakers, including author and activist Robert King, who as the third member of the Angola 3, was released in 2001 after himself spending 29 years in solitary confinement. Besides calling for the immediate release of Woodfox and Wallace as a long overdue act of simple justice, however, the students will also use the event to celebrate the survival of the two activists by serving jambalaya and dancing to the music of a reggae band. Formal presentations will occur in the Student Union and other activities will occur in the area of the Union from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

A related event is the world premier of "Angola 3," a new play by award-winning playwright Parnell Herbert, opening at Loyola University Nunemaker Hall at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, September 18th, and showing on Saturday, September 19th, at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, September 20th, at 2:00 p.m.

Robert King's East Coast Book Tour and Interview on KBOO Radio
(PHOTO: The day of Robert King's release from Angola in 2001)

--Listen to the September 10, KBOO Radio show here.

Sept. 23, Wednesday:
Busboys and Poets, 14th st, 6:30 pm, Washington DC

Sept. 24, Thursday:
At George Mason University, 4:30 pm, Fairfax VA

Sept. 25, Friday:
At Baltimore Bookfair, 6 pm (co-sponsored by Jericho)

Robert Hillary King's new book From the Bottom of the Heap: The Autobiography of Robert Hillary King is available for purchase from PM Press. King's autobiography won the 2008 PASS Award, and has been reviewed by SF Bay View, Black Commentator, Hour, Alternet, Political Media Review, La Presse, Albany Times Union, and The Times-Picayune

In 1970, a jury convicted Robert Hillary King of a crime he did not commit and sentenced him to 35 years in prison. He became a member of the Black Panther Party while in Angola State Penitentiary, successfully organizing prisoners to improve conditions. In return, prison authorities beat him, starved him, and gave him life without parole after framing him for a second crime. He was thrown into solitary confinement, where he remained in a six by nine foot cell for 29 years as one of the Angola 3. In 2001, the state grudgingly acknowledged his innocence and set him free. This is his story.

It begins at the beginning: born black, born poor, born in Louisiana in1942, King journeyed to Chicago as a hobo at the age of 15. He married and had a child, and briefly pursued a semi-pro boxing career to help provide for his family. Just a teenager when he entered the Louisiana penal system for the first time, King tells of his attempts to break out of this system, and his persistent pursuit of justice where there is none.

Yet this remains a story of inspiration and courage, and the triumph of the human spirit. The conditions in Angola almost defy description, yet King never gave up his humanity, or the work towards justice for all prisoners that he continues to do today. From the Bottom of the Heap, so simply and humbly told, strips bare the economic and social injustices inherent in our society, while continuing to be a powerful literary testimony to our own strength and capacity to overcome.

Albert & Herman

Herman Wallace
Elayn Hunt Correctional Center
Unit 5, D-Tier
PO Box 174
St Gabriel, LA 70776

Albert Woodfox
CCR, Lower A5, # 13
Louisiana State Penitentiary
Angola, LA 70712

Saturday, September 12, 2009

KBOO Radio interviews Robert Hillary King of the Angola 3
(PHOTO: The day of Robert King's release from Angola in 2001)

Listen to the September 10 radio show here.

--Available for purchase from PM Press, Robert King's autobiography won the 2008 PASS Award, and has been reviewed by SF Bay View, Black Commentator, Hour, Alternet, Political Media Review, La Presse, Albany Times Union, and The Times-Picayune

Monday, September 7, 2009

Please Support the new "Angola 3" Play

The exciting new play titled "Angola 3" is premiering at Loyola University on Sept. 18. If you are interested in placing an ad in the playbill, becoming a Sponsor or Supporter, email or call (832) 494-4027. Read more about "Angola 3" here.

Will California Execute An Innocent Man?

(The embedded video above is part one of three. Be sure to watch parts two and three at our YouTube page.)

An interview with author J. Patrick O’Connor about death row prisoner Kevin Cooper

By Angola 3 News
(Photo: Kevin Cooper)

“The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man,” wrote Judge William A. Fletcher of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. Judge Fletcher was writing about death-row prisoner Kevin Cooper, whose recent appeal to stop his execution was rejected by the Ninth Circuit on May 11, 2009.

One of the 11 out of 27 Circuit judges that dissented against the ruling to deny Cooper relief, Judge Fletcher wrote in the 101 page dissenting opinion that Cooper was “probably innocent,” of the 1983 murders for which he was convicted, and “if he is innocent, the real killers have escaped…They may kill again. They may already have done so…We owe it to the victims of this horrible crime, to Kevin Cooper, and to ourselves, to get this one right.”

Judge Fletcher’s dissent was recently featured in a front page New York Times article by John Schwartz, titled “Judges’ Dissents for Death Row Inmates Are Rising.” Schwartz writes that Fletcher “argued that the evidence had been tainted by bumbling and misconduct and suggested that blood linking Mr. Cooper to the crime had been planted by overzealous investigators. And while the Ninth Circuit in 2004 ordered new DNA tests, Judge Fletcher wrote that the lower court had set conditions rendering the results useless. ‘There is no way to say this politely,’ he wrote. ‘The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing and flouted our direction to perform the two tests.’”

On May 18, 2009 Kevin Cooper was interviewed by Flashpoints/KPFA radio, where Cooper compared his current situation with that in 2004, when he came less than 4 hours from being executed before a stay was granted: “I was able to survive this madness. And now I seem to be right back, right in it.”

J. Patrick O’Connor is the editor of and the author of The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal (Lawrence Hill, 2008). He has previously worked as a reporter for UPI, editor of Cincinnati Magazine, associate editor of TV Guide, and editor and publisher of the Kansas City New Times. This newly released video-interview with O’Connor was conducted in June, 2009 in San Francisco, at the law office of Orrick, Herrington, and Sutcliffe, which is the law firm representing Kevin Cooper. O’Connor is currently researching and beginning to write a new book about Cooper’s story.

Kevin Cooper’s lawyers are expected to file an appeal with the US Supreme Court later this fall, which will be Cooper’s last chance to avoid execution. The Kevin Cooper Defense Committee, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is planning a major event for December 13, for which some details are still forthcoming. To learn more about the Dec. 13 event and about Kevin Cooper, please visit or contact Rebecca Doran of the Kevin Cooper Defense Committee directly by phone (415-264-6622) or email (

--This new video-interview and written report was made by Angola 3 News, which is a new project of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3. At our website, we are collecting news stories and creating our own media projects about the Angola 3, and other cases like Kevin Cooper’s, which are part of a larger picture of multi-faceted injustice within the ‘criminal justice’ system. Please stay tuned for upcoming releases from Angola 3 News!

**Angola Prison was in the news today when the Shreveport Times published an article titled “Louisiana death penalty: an eye for an eye or ineffective?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Interview with Parnell Herbert - who has written a new play about the Angola 3

(Download audio file here, or listen on above player)

On Monday night, Blog Talk Radio's "Lets Be Frank" show featured an interview with Parnell Herbert, who has written the new play titled "Angola 3," premiering at Loyola University in Louisiana on September 18. Read more about the play here.

(VIDEO: earlier interview with Parnell Herbert)