After a week of intense public pressure, officials at Angola prison moved Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox out of solitary confinement for the first time in 35 years.1 But they're still locked up--for a crime everyone knows they didn't commit.
Together, we've started to turn things around by making it a political liability for the authorities at Angola to keep Wallace and Woodfox in solitary confinement for challenging the violence and segregation at Angola.2 We need to keep the pressure on to force federal and state authorities to intervene and release these innocent men. Will you join us?
"Angola", sits on an 18,000 acre former slave plantation and its history is telling: considered among the most violent, racially segregated prison in the 70s, almost a prisoner a day was stabbed, shot or raped3. Inmates were often put in inhumane punishment camps for small infractions.
Although not activists when arriving in prison, brutal, squalid conditions and news of a civil rights movement on the outside prompted the Angola 3--Wallace, Woodfox and Robert King Wilkerson--to begin routinely speaking out against injustice. They organized hunger and work strikes and a Black Panther chapter within the prison to protest the corruption and horrific abuse, including systematic rape4, facing the largely Black prisoner population.5
Shortly after these protests became public, the Angola 3 were charged with murdering a prison guard and quickly convicted by all-white juries, based on fake evidence. The bloody fingerprints at the scene don't match any of the Angola 3. Both men have alibi witnesses with nothing to gain, while the witnesses who testified against them have admitted to being coerced by prison officials. Even the widow of the correctional officer who was murdered does not believe Wallace and Woodfox killed her husband; she's urging state and federal officials to find the real killer.6
The Angola 3 don't pretend to be saints. They committed crimes many decades ago, but they've more than served their time. They should not be denied their freedom for standing up against unimaginable conditions in prison--including violent segregation and 16 hour, 6 day a week work schedules.
NBC Nightly News7 just aired a piece this week about the plight of the Angola 3. And it's time to finally get some justice for Wallace and Woodfox. When we spoke up about the Jena 6, it was about more than helping six Black youth in a small town called Jena8. It was about standing up against a system of unequal justice. That broken system is at work again and we're joining The Innocence Project and Amnesty International9 to challenge it in the case of the Angola 3.
It's now time for the Governor of Louisiana and the Department of Justice to step in and say enough is enough. Please join us in demanding that they both intervene--to ensure justice for the Angola 3 and to bring about reform and accountability in Louisiana's prison system:
Thank You and Peace,
-- James, Van, Gabriel, Clarissa, Mervyn, Andre, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
March 18th, 2008
1. "Ex-Panthers Leave Solitary After Decades," Associated Press, March 27, 2008
2. "Justice for the Angola 3," Comment is Free Blog, February 21, 2008
3. "Free the Angola 3," AnitaRoddick.com, March 4, 2002
4. "Ending the hidden, savage routine of prison rape," The Huffington Post, March 17th, 2008
5. "Lawyers call for release of 'Angola 3'..." NOLA.com (The Times-Picayune), March 17, 2008
6. "Angola 3: approaching 36 years in solitary confinement," Angola3.org
7. "Cruel and Unusual?," NBC Nightly News, March 16, 2008
8. ColorofChange.org Jena 6 campaign page
9. Amnesty International Public Statement, AmnestyUSA.org, September 19, 2007