SF Bay View, January 24, 2012
by Mutope Duguma
Written Dec. 29, 2011 – In 1619 when the first 20 slaves out of Africa were brought to the shores of North America and our New Afrikan struggle began, yes, we as a people coming from the African continent, captured by brutal force, speaking many African languages, sharing in many different socio-culture, economic and political systems, were all forced to coalesce under the torturous brutal hand of slavery and learn a new language, socio-culture, economic and political system, structured around the suppression, oppression and exploitation of our New Afrikan nation (NAN). Here we would be slaves – and chattel slaves at that – meaning we were the commodity (something of commercial value), bought and sold to the highest bidder.
We were devalued and stripped of our African heritage. Our lifestyle was stolen away from us and our ideology – all of our social practices, and even our identity. Yes, we lost it all – our names too. Some of us have realized the importance of names. Therefore we have taken steps to re-name ourselves while dropping our slave names inherited many generations ago by our enslaved ancestors, names that can literally be traced to our New Afrikan enslaved ancestors’ slave masters. At the same time we rejected the general names placed on us to dehumanize us as a New Afrikan people, such as the “N” word, Negro, Colored, Black, Afro-American and Afrikan American, because we have always been New Afrikans here in North America.
Our struggle is one of resistance against that which has been forced upon us. Do we easily forget our struggle for freedom? If so, then let’s refresh our memories by reading these books in this order:
1) “The Destruction of BlackCivilization” by Chancellor Williams;
2) “There’s a River: The Black Strugglefor Freedom in America” by Vincent Harding;
3) “Slavery: The African AmericanPsychic Trauma” by Sultan A. Latif and Naimah Latif; and
4) “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander.
|photo: Mutope writes, “I insist that all New Afrikans in this country read “The Melancholy History of Soledad Prison” by Min S. Yee.”
“The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander speaks to how the judicial process toward the New Afrikan people has not changed from 1619 to now. This New Afrikan sister laid out how the whole system conspired against New Afrikans, subjecting many of us to outright torture at the hands of those overseeing the prison industrial complex (PIC).
How easily we forget “... what began to happen in the South, particularly after federal troops were removed in 1877. … (T)he state legislatures of every state passed laws which began to effectively criminalize Black life and to create a situation in which African American men found it almost impossible not to be in violation of some misdemeanor statute at almost all times. And the most broadly applied of those was that it was against the law if you were unable to prove at any given moment that you were employed. So vagrancy statutes were used to arrest thousands of Black men, even though thousands of White men could have been arrested on the same charges but they hardly ever were. And then once arrested, the judicial system had been re-tooled in such a way as to coerce huge numbers of men into commercial enterprises as forced workers through the judicial system,” explained Douglas Blackmon, author of “Slavery by Another Name,” in a KPFK interview.
There’s no question that our New Afrikan ancestors were tortured and murdered under the system of chattel slavery, where they suffered every heinous act known to mankind under the sun by the hand of their slave master – enduring a life of misery and terror.
How easily we forget – in California, prisoners being murdered in cold blood at the hand of prison guards. Learn about how your fathers, sons, brothers, uncles and cousins were tortured and murdered at the hands of CDCR prison guards who enjoyed and celebrated the kill, like hunting wild animals. We must not forget there has not been much change since 1619, just a more functional way to cover up neo-chattel slavery.
Do we forget Weusi, who was shot to death with a mini 14 assault rifle by a gun-ho prison guard who openly fired on a melee of defenseless prisoners, shooting nine consecutive rounds. And when he was done, there was two dead and several wounded – at San Quentin in 1987. None of the prisoners seen it coming. This was cold-blooded murder – with impunity.
Do we forget the Corcoran prison guards who set up gladiator-staged fights where 50 prisoners were wounded and seven fatally wounded:
1. William Martinez on April 8, 1989,
2. Randall on June 23, 1989,
3. Andres Cortez Romero on Feb. 6, 1990, one month before his release date,
4. Michael Mullins on April 9, 1993,
5. Henry Noriega on Sept. 11, 1993,
6. Preston Tate on April 2, 1994,
7. Donald Creasy on June 1, 1994.
All 50 shootings happened between the years of 1989 and 1995.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported in “Accusations of prison coverup: Agency hidstaged fights at Corcoran, guards say” on Oct. 28, 1996, that Correctional Officer Richard Caruso in 1994 provided documents to the FBI which showed the prison guards were setting up gladiator-staged fights by matching prisoners up against one another. Correctional Lt. Steve Rigg in 1994 says he learned that some prison officers were “stacking the tiers” to stage fights among inmates. “One guard, Pio Cruz, liked to call the fights like a sports announcer – before grabbing a rifle and shooting the brawling inmates with wooden projectiles, officers testified in a disciplinary hearing against Cruz, who was ultimately fired.” Not prosecuted, FIRED – with impunity.
Mark Arax and Mark Gladstone wrote in the July 5, 1998, Los Angeles Times, in an article titled “State Thwarted Brutality Probe at Corcoran Prison, Investigators Say”: “Sacramento knew the level of violence,” said Steve Rigg, a former lieutenant who also cooperated with the FBI. “We assumed that they would read the numbers and say something is terribly wrong here and take appropriate corrective action. Instead, we continued to bait inmates into fights and then shoot them for throwing punches” – with impunity.
“From the day Corcoran opened in 1988, the escalating violence failed to set off any alarms” – not at the local district attorney’s office, not at the State Department of Corrections, not at the Attorney General’s Office or at the Governor’s Office.
I was personally involved in this manufactured violence from 1991 to 1992 and in 1995 in Corcoran SHU. I was transferred to Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) in 1992.
• In 1992, a PBSP prison guard shot and killed a New Afrikan mentally ill prisoner – with impunity.
• In 1993, a PBSP prison guard shot and killed a Mexican prisoner who was to be released soon – with impunity.
• In 1994, a PBSP prison guard shot and killed a New Afrikan prisoner – brain matter splattered everywhere – with impunity.
• In 2000, a PBSP prison guard shot and killed a Mexican prisoner.
Now I personally grew up where there was many fisticuffs and the loser would grab a 2 by 4 or a knife and not no one trying to break it up, in order to prevent the unarmed opponent from being murdered by using a mini 14 assault rifle to do so.
Many of these cold-blooded murderers come from the general population (GP) gun towers to work in solitary confinement, i.e., SHU and Ad-Seg units, or officers who do not have the nerve to work around prisoners they have a deep hate for where their own paranoia consumes them to the point they can’t work around free prisoners on GP. By working in solitary confinement they’re able to continue to exercise their insidious, malicious, racist and prejudiced attacks on prisoners with impunity.
Mr. Vaughn Dortch, a New Afrikan prisoner who was tortured into insanity after being housed in solitary confinement – yes, mentally ill – was removed from his cell by force and taken to the prison infirmary where Pelican Bay prison guards boiled him in scalding hot water and held him down in this boiling water until he fainted. The skin on his body peeled off his flesh, while at the same time prison guards scrubbed his body with a hard scrub brush. Prison guards were making fun, saying, “We going to have us a white boy before it’s through, because his skin is so dirty and rotten it’s falling off.” This was a sadistic act carried out by racist prison guards.
Now, Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, s/n R.N. Dewberry, C-35671, D1-117L, had been in the solitary confinement unit since 1983 and this incident happened in 1990 with Vaughn Dortch, so Sitawa was in eight years and counting. He and two other prisoners was in the infirmary when V. Dortch was brought in, so they witnessed this whole incident and they cursed to the top of their lungs at these savages (i.e., prison guards) and when they realized that all these prisoners just witnessed this horrible act the prison guards went straight into action.
Lt. Brittle walked up to Sitawa and said “Aw fuck, Dewberry, did you see anything?” Dewberry replied, “I seen everything and where did you all take him,” referring to how they rushed V. Dortch out of the infirmary when he fainted. Lt. Brittle then said, “Dewberry, are you still trying to get transferred closer to the Bay Area, near your family?” Reply: “Yes.” Lt. Brittle then said, “Then maybe we can work something out, if you didn’t see anything.” Reply: “Expletive, expletive and more expletives.”
Later Sitawa would be interviewed by federal agents of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department concerning V. Dortch, who would go on to win close to $1 million and all medical expenses paid – a bill taxpayers would once again pay due to the criminal acts of so-called prison guards. As usual there will be no prosecution. And sadly these criminals in this particular case was promoted in many respects for a job well done. Again with impunity!
How easily we forget: During slavery the slaves would be dropped in a black scalding hot kettle being and boiled alive until they were dead. Some were pulled out after they fainted as well and considered amusement for the sick audience.
Here at Pelican Bay State Prison, we have had two prisoners allegedly commit suicide, but how is it suicide if someone is torturing you every day of your life in order to get you to debrief or to reduce you to an emasculated state? This is not suicide; this is the CDCR-PBSP using its power against helpless individuals until their spirit has been broken and their lives are no longer worth living. These men were murdered because they were stripped of everything that makes life worth living.
How easily we forget
We are New Afrikans for three primary reasons:
1. The name gives recognition to our historical heritage.
2. When we use the name, it is a rejection of the attempts by the U.S. government, our colonizers, to Amerikanize us to the rest of the world.
3. When we call ourselves New Afrikans, we identify ourselves as a historically evolved and legitimate nation of people in the community of Afrikan nations.
Generation after generation throughout our history, from 1619 to 2012, when we find ourselves struggling for our New Afrikan survival, it’s not by accident that Amerika as 2.3 million prisoners and 1 million-plus of those prisoners are New Afrikans.
In order for us to survive as a people, we must definitely be free to lead our own lives as a New African Nation.
One love, one struggle!
Mutope Duguma, aka James Crawford, has been reporting to Bay View readers on the hunger strike from the beginning. He is the writer of “The Call,” the formal announcement that alerted the world to this massive hunger strike, “SHU prisoners sentenced to civil death begin hunger strike,” “This hunger strike is far from over,” “Pelican Bay SHU prisoners plan to resume hunger strike Sept. 26,” “Greed drives solitary confinement torture,” “Hip hop community, support our hunger strike!” “Retaliation at Pelican Bay: Letters from the SHU,” “We are willing to sacrifice ourselves to change our conditions” and “They took the 15 of us hunger strikers to ASU-Hell-Row.” Send our brother some love and light: Mutope Duguma, s/n James D. Crawford, D-05996, PBSP-SHU, D1-117U, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95532.