Who Are New Afrikan Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War

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Who Are New Afrikan Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War

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  • Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War are not in prison for committing social'crimes', nor are they criminals. Different PP/POWs participated in progressive and revolutionary movements in varying levels. Some in educational and community organizing, others in clandestine armed and offensive people's armies. All are as a result of conscious political action, for building resistance, building and leading movements and revolution... for making change. Many of us in some way or another are part of these very movements, part of that resistance that PP/POWs helped to build. As people continuing to struggle for change, we are obligated and it is our duty to support those people who are in prison as a result of struggling for our liberation.
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Who Are New Afrikan Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War

  1. 1. Who are New Afrikan Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War?Mp3 Downloadsplay Assata Shakur- We Can Win Our Liberationplay Chairman Fred Ham,pton Sr. Speaksplay Mumia Abu-Jamal — On Black Gangstas RBG New Afrikan Independence Movement TV, Featuringplay Ruchell Magee Assata Shakur’s Documentary Who are New Afrikan Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War?
  2. 2. Who are Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War:Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War are not in prison for committing social "crimes", norare they criminals. Different PP/POWs participated in progressive and revolutionarymovements in varying levels. Some in educational and community organizing, others inclandestine armed and offensive peoples armies. All are in prison as a result of consciouspolitical action, for building resistance, building and leading movements and revolution... formaking change. Many of us in some way or another are part of these very movements, part ofthat resistance that PP/POWs helped to build. As people continuing to struggle for change, weare obligated and it is our duty to support those people who are in prison as a result ofstruggling to make change. Though some have a wider definition of Political Prisoners, wemaintain that even if the definition of a Political Prisoner was expanded and widely accepted toinclude social prisoners of conscience, it needs to be clear that those prisoners who went toprison as a result of political action taken on the street would still demand our priority support.For movements to support other prisoners before we support the prisoners who have gone toprison for building the very movements we now participate in is backwards and criminal. From:http://www.abcf.net/index.htmQ: What is the Black Liberation Army (BLA)?A: The year was 1971. The FBI, CIA, and local police departments Counter-IntelligenceProgram planted degenerative seeds to increase tensions and factionalism within the BlackPanther Party for Self-Defense (BPP). Their efforts culminated in the split between Huey P.Newton and Eldridge Cleaver. While Newton continued leadership of the broken BPP, Cleaverwent on to lead what came to be known as the Black Liberation Army (BLA), which hadpreviously existed as the underground faction and "fighting apparatus" of the BPP. The BLA isnotorious for allegedly waging war against local police department oppressors through policecar bombings. Who are New Afrikan Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War?
  3. 3. Q: What are the principles of the Black Liberation Army?A: The BLA, as a result of realizing the economical nature of the system under which we areforced to live, maintains the following principles: 1. That we are anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-racist, and anti-sexist. 2. That we must of necessity strive for the abolishment of these systems and for the institution of Socialistic relationships in which Black people have total and absolute control over their own destiny as a people. 3. That in order to abolish our systems of oppression, we must utilize the science of class struggle, develop this science as it relates to our unique national condition.Q: Where can I find out more about the Black Liberation Army?A: The Talking DrumBlack Militancy: Notes from the UndergroundRetrieved from Bad Subjects: Issue #71, December 2004 Text written by Rashad ShabazzIf one were to examine, closely, the hegemonic discourses of black American history, onewould be surprised to find a long history of militant armed struggle. Slave rebellions, urban"guerilla" insurgencies, rural defense leagues, are all part of a tapestry of black militantrebellion to subjugation. The most recent icon of black armed struggle, the Black PantherParty, is a linchpin in understanding the development of this phenomenon in the late 1960s,which saw its high point in the 1970s. But it was not the only organization that used or openingadvocated the use of force against the state. Others did exist. They did not exist in the publicor "aboveground" as the Panthers did between the years of 1966 and 1974. Other factions ofthe organization existed outside the public eye—clandestinely. Not coincidently, this historyexists clandestinely. Clandestine is also a fitting way to describe some of the writers of thishistory. It is fitting because they, like the histories of armed struggle in U.S., don’t exist in theopen, but they exist nonetheless.Many of those who (clandestinely) trace the historical trajectories of armed struggle are (orwere) prisoners of the state. Assata Shakur, George Jackson, Kuwasi Balagoon, andGeronimo Ji Jaga Pratt, all participated in armed struggle. Branded by the state as criminals,underground black radicals, as well as white underground radicals were part of a network ofmilitant "paramilitary" insurgencies. By several accounts this movement lasted from the late1960’s until the beginning of the 1980’s. Today, imprisoned underground activists continue towrite of this subjugated history from the cells that hold them.http://www.itsabouttimebpp.com/ Who are New Afrikan Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War?
  4. 4. The birth of the Black Panther Party (BPP) in 1966 in Oakland, California, marked a significant transition away from the non-violent tactics of the Civil Rights Movement. Black women and men dressed in black leather jackets, sometimes armed, are the most popular and iconic images of the Party. The BPPs well know leadership including Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, and Kathleen Cleaver are also representative images. In many respects, they have and continue to play critical roles in tracing the historical trajectory of Black armed struggle. The BPP, although thepublic face of the black militant rebellion, was not the onlyorganization committed to the tactic of armed struggle. Inmany respects, the Party, itself, had several faces. One ofthem being an "above-ground" organization that ran theday-to-day operations of the Party, protested, andorganized Black communities. This is the public face ofthe Party. There is literature which suggests the BPP hasanother history, another form of organizing. This formationwould exist as the clandestine wing; a wing that wascommitted to armed struggle.Recently, several re-readings and re-conceptualization ofthe BPP have made it abundantly clear that from theParty’s inception there existed another formation of theParty, "underground" armed paramilitary group committedto urban guerrilla campaigns. To the extent that there were competing personalities involved,the underground faction was more associated with Eldridge Cleaver. The tensions betweenCleaver and Newton on the subject of armed struggle and the direction of the Party (Newtonfavored community-based organizing and building a strong public force, Cleaver did not sharethis vision), had strained, and by 1971 a full-on split was in place.The black underground movement, which was associated with Cleaver, was not by any meanshomogenous. Although Cleaver was an advocate for armed struggle, no one individualcontrolled it. They were ideologically unified, but autonomous in terms of their actions. Theywent by several names: the New World Liberation Front, New African IndependenceMovement, the Black Underground, National Black Liberation Front. However, it is know mostlyby the name Black Liberation Army (BLA).In her memoirs, exiled BLA member Assata Shakur suggests that the BLA, though not acohesive organization, is a "concept," an analysis, a people’s movement, and idea:The idea of the Black Liberation Army emerged from conditions in Black communities:conditions of poverty, indecent housing, massive unemployment, poor medical care, andinferior education. The idea came about because Black people are not free or equal in thiscountry…The BLA arose because of the political, social, and economic oppression of Blackpeople in this country. And where there is oppression there will be resistance.The clandestine nature of the BLA does not mean it was marginal or fringe. Nothing could befurther from the truth, according to some, throughout the 1970’s — its highpoint of activity —the BLA was involved in numerous clandestine actions. Heavily influenced by Marxist-Leninist Who are New Afrikan Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War?
  5. 5. philosophies and Fanonian readings of the world situation, the black underground movementsaw "revolutionary violence" against the state as a necessary response to what many deemedan imperialist nation fixed on exclusivity and racism. White radicals were also involved inclandestine activity, in many cases collaborating with black radicals. The best-known group ofthis era, the Weather Underground, actively participated on the side of black activists.Philosophically, Marx, Lenin and Fanon also influenced them.Many of those involved in the black underground were jailed for their activities. After thedecimation of the BPP, the underground movement was left without aboveground assistance.Those brought to trail for their actions have been critical of the legal process. Many of themsee it as nothing more than a means to maintain class and racial domination. This can also besaid to be the case for several "aboveground" activists. In their most clearly articulated politicaland philosophical statement, "Message to the Black Movement: a political statement from theblack underground", the BLA made their thoughts and ideas on revolution in North Americapublic. They speak about numerous topics including the black bourgeoisie, Marx’s dialecticalmovement of history, law, and capitalist society. They write, "We must begin to determine ourlivers by creating community institutions of revolutionary justice outside the structure ofcapitalist law."When arrested for their activities they stood before the court and denounced the chargesagainst them. Many of them like Kuwasi Balagoon and Ray Luc Levasseur (a white Canadianand member of a underground faction named the Sam Melville/Jonathan Jackson unit) usedtheir opening statements to show why they thought the state had neither the moral or legalauthority of hold them in violation. In the opening statement of his trial Levasseur states:In 21 years of political activity I’ve never done anything for personal gain or profit. Nothing.That his been part of my motivation and intent. The government wants to charge that bombingthe office of the South African government is an act of racketeering? A bombing that was donein response to the massacre in South Africa and to support the struggle for freedom there. No,it’s an expression of the support for liberation. It is that simple.Trial statements were used in a similar fashion in several cases where underground activistswere involved. These statements were used to voice opposition to court procedures, condemnstate actions in places like South America and South Asia. They used their statement toeducate, and to save their own lives. Although I speak of this phenomenon in terms ofunderground activists, it is also applicable to those in the public eye.Although they were tried as criminals, many have argued that the cases of those who "fight" asmembers of underground factions transcend the boundaries of domestic legal discourse.Prison intellectuals like Marilyn Buck maintain that domestic law is not applicable in cases ofthose involved in armed struggle with the state.It is from cells located across this country, the charting and unearthing of this history is done. Itis an imprisoned history. The literature of incarcerated activists like Jalil Muntaqim, MarilynBuck, and George Jackson is not only thought-provoking explication of the sordid uses of theprison system or mere polemics against the state. To read the literature of incarceratedactivists in the black underground is to read the histories of the black underground movement.These histories are found in an assemblage of literature: opening trial statements, closing and Who are New Afrikan Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War?
  6. 6. sentence statements, personal letters, poetry, and paintings. They can be found in a myriad ofdispatches from general population, secured housing unites, and death rows.We should not be surprised that the histories of armed struggle in the U.S. escape the purviewof hegemonic discourse, particularly histories of black resistance. Armed struggle in the UnitedStates, particularly against the state is not supposed to happen, because, for all intents andpurposes, the U.S. holds itself up as the bastion of democracy and freedom. It claims to be asymbol of prosperity, dignity, and technological superiority. Given these longstandingassumptions about the U.S. are increasingly coming into question by many around the world,what do we make of armed struggle? This question takes on a new meaning given the dailyreality of Iraq. How should we think about it, as well as its history, and what does the legacy ofarmed struggle within the U.S. suggest about our current political situation?If nothing else, the histories of armed struggle in this country help us think more deeply aboutthe gap between what is professed and what is practiced. As Shakur suggests, the blackunderground movement was born out of conditions of existence. For a generation of youngactivists, the reality of war, imperialism, racism and the growing fragility of democraticliberalism was too much to handle. Force became a means to wrestle with this tension. As thediscourse of a "country torn" finds its way into mainstream political analyses (for many thedeep divisions in this country are not a new political reality), we should reflect on the writings ofpolitical dissidents and radicals. We should recognize the diversity of political analysis that isvery much alive. The histories of armed struggle, if taken seriously, provide us with a means tothink more critically about the center, and complicate its claims of moral and political right. “FREE EM ALL” Who are New Afrikan Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War?
  7. 7. Document designed by RBG Street Scholar for study, sharing and download Related Studies Collections: RBG Black August Folder The Newsletter of the Crossroad Support Network from S&P PublicationsWho are New Afrikan Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War?

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