by Karima Amin
Recently Herman Wallace died, after spending more than 40 years behind bars in solitary confinement. He and his co-defendants, Robert King and Albert Woodfox (“The Angola Three”), had spent most of their time in prison at Louisiana State Penitentiary, aka “Angola,” aka “The Farm.” Back in 2005, when Prisoners Are People Too had its first meeting, we screened “The Farm: Angola USA,” a film about Louisiana State Penitentiary, a prison farm located on a 18,000acre property which was previously a plantation. What happens there today is little different from what happened there when enslaved Africans worked the land. Disrespect, humiliation, mental and physical abuse, and murder is the order of the day.
Herman Wallace and his co-defendants were convicted of the 1972 stabbing murder of a prison guard, 23-year-old Brent Miller. Interestingly enough, there was no physical evidence linking them to the crime, DNA evidence was lost, and the testimony of the main eyewitness (a jailhouse snitch) was discredited. Miller’s wife has repeatedly and openly stated that she does not believe that these men were responsible for the death of her husband. After 29 years, Robert King’s conviction was overturned on appeal and he was released. King has worked tirelessly to build international recognition and support for the plight of “The Angola Three.”
Albert Woodfox is still in solitary confinement.
Herman Wallace died on October 4, 2013.
The US government denies the existence of political prisoners. These are men and women who remain incarcerated for their political views and actions. Wallace and Woodfox were members of the prison’s chapter of the Black Panther Party. As activists, they worked to improve conditions at Angola. They organized petitions and hunger strikes to protest segregation within the prison, and to end systemic rape and violence.
For decades, Herman Wallace endured the torture of solitary confinement and the lack of proper medical care, even after a diagnosis of liver cancer. His many attempts to present his case to the courts, proclaiming his innocence, were dismissed and ignored. On October 1, 2013, a federal court overturned his murder conviction, saying that his confinement had been unfair and unconstitutional. On October 2, dying of liver cancer, Mr. Wallace was finally taken from the prison by family and friends. On October 4, he joined the Ancestors at the age of 71.
At he next meeting of Prisoners Are People Too, we will screen the award –winning documentary “Herman’s House” which details a project that Herman Wallace participated in with filmmaker Angad Bhalla and artist, Jackie Sumell. The question was asked: “After forty years of living in a 6 foot by 9 foot prison cell for 23 hours a day, for more than forty years, what kind of house do you dream about?” The film details the symbolic meaning of Herman’s dream house. Join us on Monday. November 25, 7:00-9:00pm (note time change), at the Pratt-Willert Community Center, 422 Pratt Street in Buffalo.
The Circle of Supporters for Reformed Offenders and Friends of BaBa Eng are the sponsors of this program. For further information, contact Karima Amin, 716-834-8438 or firstname.lastname@example.org or BaBa Eng, email@example.com.
“God has not called us to see through each other, but to see each other through.” (Anonymous)