As if the Alabama prison system didn’t already have enough issues, a new crisis is looming over the prison system – a food shortage. A cutback in meals and the unavailability of some food staples are already being felt and causing panic. In addition, many supplemental food items on the canteen are either unavailable or being sold with limits on quantity. Some prisons are serving bologna, hot dogs or corn dogs as much as 8 to 9 times per week over the course of 13 lunch and dinner meals.
Fruit, a necessity for providing nutrition to help stay healthy during the pandemic, is increasingly scarce, while people in some solitary units are denied fruit, milk and dessert outright. Evidence of food shortage issue have also surfaced after several individuals incarcerated throughout ADOC shared photos of skimpy food trays, while others have written about how food quantity and quality have diminished over the past 6 to 8 months.
The prison rumor mill, always a source for information, is saying that the prison system’s food supply chain is strained due to COVID-related disruptions and that food trucks are arriving at prisons with limited inventories. Anxiety is rising over concerns that ADOC could be face a major food shortage issue later this month.
Continue to follow Free Alabama Movement for more updates on this developing issue.
A $3 Billion Dollar Wasteland is Not What Alabama Needs
Over the past several years nearly everyone in Alabama has heard about the many plans and attempts to build new prisons. We, the now- 23,000+ men, women, and (far too many) children incarcerated in the Alabama Department of Corrections have heard about these new prisons too.
We know that the public does not want them. We know that the Alabama Legislature refused to budget them. We know that families who have been extorted, lost loved ones, or don’t know when their loved ones are coming home don’t want them. We also know that the residents of Brierfield and Tallassee, many college students, and thousands of other Alabamians don’t want them either. I can safely say that all 23,000 of us and our families, who are ALL struggling to survive in these death camps, don’t want them either.
Yet, despite this overwhelming public opposition, private prison corporations have signed contracts to build them anyway. What is really going on? Why are corporations and publicly elected officials willing to defy public sentiment and build them anyway? And, why are they willing to invest so much money into a prison system that is already in a deadly crisis?
We all know that we should follow the money on this one but not just the money changing hands in the secret contracts. No, the real money to follow will be after the prisons are complete. The collect calls, medical co-pays, the fees, usury prices for canteens purchases, incentive packages, and cheap tablets the ADOC is rolling out. These are the associated industries that use tax dollars to build the complexes but then exploit them for every bloodsucking penny they can collect as ransom from families. And let’s not forget the biggest prize of them all: the free labor and the factories that will produce hundreds of millions of dollars worth of goods and services every year. These profit motives render the dissent of citizens as irrelevant.
It is this greed that is causing so many problems, claiming so many lives and contributing to the public health crisis we are facing because we have an outdated ideology running an outdated prison system.
From a humanitarian perspective, the ADOC was a failed institution before COVID-19 hit. Since the pandemic arrived, everything has gotten worse. For those of us living the nightmare, we don’t see how new prisons that will house more people for the next 30 years will make anything better. We haven’t heard how the new prisons plan to deal with the existing problems. Nor have we heard how the new prisons will help us deal with the traumas we are experiencing in the current system. From a practical standpoint, all we can see from the inside is how these new facilities are nothing more than our next death camps; the places they’ll send us to die over the next 30 years. We do not want a $3 billion dollar casket. No New Prisons !!!
We reach these conclusions based on what we are witnessing, experiencing and living through on a day-to-day basis. Under Commissioner Jefferson Dunn’s leadership and his “culture of violence”, the ADOC is now the murder capital of the entire State of Alabama, and the murder capital over all prison systems in the nation. It was not like this before he arrived, and there were at least 6 thousand more people in the system in 2015 than there are now. Commissioner Dunn’s officers are routinely on the news for sexually assaulting or beating men and women to death. There are also weekly news reports of officers arrested for attempting to bring drugs into the prisons, drug overdose deaths, suicides, etc. Alabama’s prisons are so infested with drugs, that drug overdose deaths are now deemed “natural causes” on death certificates.
The U.S. Department of Justice states in a July 2020 Investigation Report that Commissioner Jefferson Dunn maintains control of the ADOC through a “culture of violence.” Every single person in ADOC custody has been harmed by this “culture of violence.” Our concern is that this “culture of violence” is transferable, and building new prisons will only transfer a humanitarian crisis into the new communities instead of solving historic, systemic, racial and cultural problems that have plagued the Alabama prison system since after the Civil War.
Since October 2019, ADOC correctional officers have beaten at least four men to death and gassed a fifth person to death. At the same time, the ADOC leads the nation in homicide rates, while ranking among national leaders in suicide, drug overdose, and COVID-19 death rates in its prisons. This is what a “culture of violence” and corruption will get you. The Alabama Department of Corrections is a place where death occurs frequently. New prisons won’t solve these old problems.
On January 30, 2021, correctional officers beat two men so severely that they had to be ambulance and air-lifted to a hospital just to save their lives. One week later, on February 8-9, in a 12-hour span two more lives were cut short by the “culture of violence.” A third person, over 70 years old and posing absolutely no threat to society whatsoever, died as well.
All of this leads to a great amount of trauma, stress, and other challenges associated with living in an environment like this every day. Many of us are released back into society carrying these invisible and untreated injuries with us. We have yet to see how the $3 billion dollar prison plan will address these longstanding and traumatic injuries.
There are also additional problems that three new prisons will bring to their new communities. For example,
• Officer Matthew Moore, 50, was a serial rapist employed by ADOC for over a decade. Moore was convinced on multiple counts in Georgia, including aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, and aggravated assault after kidnapping and raping several women. Authorities also state they have DNA evidence implicating Moore in additional sex crimes in Alabama and Florida.
• Over 70 correctional officers arrested for drug trafficking or other attempts to transport illegal contraband throughout Alabama communities and into a prison
• In 2014, the US DOJ found that over a 20-year period, at least half of all correctional officers who worked at Tutwiler Women’s Prison sexually assaulted the women incarcerated there. No criminal charges were filed and not a single officer was arrested. Many of these sexual predators will be roaming around the new communities undetected.
In addition, there are public health issues that routinely emanate from the prisons: ADOC’s abysmal health and safety record, including its Covid-19 response; frequent outbreaks of hepatitis, tuberculosis, and scabies. We are awaiting word of how these new prisons are being designed to deal with pandemics, epidemics, and other widespread infections that threaten closed populations. We don’t see any plan to protect our lives or the lives of those in the communities where we reside in today’s prisons, and we don’t see one in the plans for tomorrow’s prisons either.
The State of Alabama does not need new prisons to address its current prison crisis; instead, Alabama needs to identify the laws, policies and practices that led to the crisis. This starts with historical facts that connect the prison system to the institution of slavery, especially Article 1, Sec. 32 of the Alabama Constitution of 1901 . Article 1, Section 32 of the Alabama Constitution contains the provision that created an exception to the complete abolition of slavery, by preserving slavery as punishment for crime. This new form of slavery would be managed and ran by the prison system. Following passage of this law, Alabama prisons began filling up with Black bodies and became work camps under slave-like conditions for people convicted of a crime.
Then there is Alabama’s habitual felony offender act , a law that has been used to fill up Alabama prisons to the point where we now have the most overcrowded, underfunded, and corrupt system in the nation. Historical data evidences a need for social and racial justice in the Alabama Criminal Justice system, especially with the death penalty being disproportionately used against poor Black people, and the fact that over 70% of all people sentenced to life without parole under the habitual offender law are Black. These and other historical issues extend beyond the prison walls and must be addressed by the Alabama Legislature. This includes removing funds from ADOC’s budget and redirecting those funds towards healing, rebuilding, and rehabilitating those injured by the current system.
Neither Governor Ivey nor any other state leader can show us proof of any improvements made to the ADOC over the past 30 years that justify committing an additional 3 billion dollars to the system for another 30 years. However, the arc of human history shows unequivocally the ability of human beings to evolve, get better and reach higher stages of evolution in life if given the resources and a chance. So why are we going backwards by building new prisons before we first invest in people?
An Inside Perspective on Governor Kay Ivey’s plan to build new prisons.
The Alabama Department of Corrections has responded to Demands from Free Alabama Movement via the call for a #30dayEconomicBlackout from January 1, 2021, to January 31, 2021, by violently attacking and beating Mr. Ronnie Miller, who is one of 11 men on hunger strike at Kilby Correctional Facility.
FAM has called for the boycott of prison contractors and state agencies admidst the ongoing human rights violations and humanitarian crisis taking place inside the Alabama Department of Corrections.
We are being told that a Sgt. Williams cleared CERT team officer Landrum to carry out the assault. As more details emerge, FAM is requesting that supporters please call the Commissioner of ADOC Jefferson Dunn and the Warden at Kilby CF and demand that the violence and harassment against all participants in the boycott stop.
Please contact @ADOCDunn Commissioner Jefferson Dunn 334-353-3883, or email Jefferson.dunn@doc.Alabama.gov and demand that the violent attack and harassment against all participants in the #30dayEconomicBlackout stop. Also demand that Mr. Miller be taken to an outside hospital for an independent evaluation.
1. 2013-current. FAM was founded in 2013, and officially launched in August 2013.
2. January 1, 2014. Organized first multi-prison non-violent and peaceful work strikes, boycotts and protests in Alabama.
3. 2014-2019. January 2014, several FAM leaders and organizers were targeted by ADOC and placed into solitary confinement, including its founder Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun and co-founder Kinetik Justice Amun, both of whom remained in solitary confinement for the next 5 consecutive years. Despite FAM’s non-violent and peaceful organizing, FAM leaders were retaliated against, beaten, tortured, food poisoned, and arbitrarily denied basic constitutional and human rights, including mail, visits, phone calls, humane housing, deprived of natural light, and more. Even in the face of strong opposition and repression by the state, FAM was able to continue to move ahead in the struggle for Freedom.
4. 2014-2016. Conducted at least one multi-prison work strike every year in ADOC, plus the National Prison Strikes. After the initial strikes on January 1, 2014, all other Strikes, Boycotts and Protests were led by FAM from solitary confinement.
5. 2014-2018. Family members and supporters conducted over 20 protests outside multiple Alabama prisons and other locations, including in Clio Alabama, Donaldson CF, Holman CF, St. Clair CF, Limestone CF, Tutwiler CF, Kelly Ingram Park, Edmund Pettus Bridge, ADOC Headquarters, State Capitol, and the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Headquarters (#ParoleWatch).
6. 2014 (currently being revised). Published book FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT (known as the “manifesto”) on January 2, 2014.
7. 2014- current. Created first multi-medium social media platforms as part of prison-led organizing strategy, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, WordPress blog, Blogtalk radio, and website.
8. 2014-current. Created Free Alabama Movement YouTube channel. Have since released over 200 exclusive exposè videos from inside ADOC. FAM’s bold and aggressive tactic of guerilla filming spawned a new era in the Prisoner/Enslaved-led Human Rights Movement. Incarcerated Activists all across the nation began using cellphones as a powerful weapon in the narrative around criminal justice reform, prison reform, and abolitionist freedom struggle.
9. 2014-2016. Created, produced, directed first-of-its-kind inside-led, underground Blogtalk radio show, “THE PEOPLE’S PLATFORM”.
10. 2014. Published “A Flicker Turns Into A Flame”
11. 2014. Drafted the “FREEDOM BILL”
12. 2014-current. FAM leaders and members have conducted over 100 media interviews from inside with outlets such as:
San Francisco Bay View New York Times LA Times BBC China NOW Wall Street Journal Al Jazerra America, Democracy Now, Roland Martin Montgomery Advertiser al.com Huffington Post
13. 2014-current. FAM has been featured in several short-documentaries, including two w/ HBO/Vice, and two w/ Al Jazerra.
14. 2014-2019 Hunger Strikes. State retaliation and abuse against FAM leaders led to hunger strikes that spread to multiple prisons over a span of 5 years, exposing ADOC as a barbaric and inhumane institution.
15. 2015. Published “Let The Crops Rot In The Field” and laid out “The Solution:FAM’s 6-Step Plan of Action 2015.” These documents and the plan outlined therein established the framework for building the infrastructure that led to the first nationwide, Inside-led national initiatives and actions based on work strikes, boycotts and protests. FAM’s infrastructure elevated the profiles and voices of Inside-led organizations nationwide and has hosted and facilitated the organizing of EVERY Inside-led national event since 2015.
16. 2015. Nationwide S-TO-P CAMPAIGN against McDonald’s, highlighting the school-to-prison pipeline.
17. 2015-2016. FAM led multiple peace initiatives under the Universal Peace and Unity Summit. Over this period of heightened violence, FAM was the only entity able to lead multiple successful peace accords in the tumultuous ADOC. FAM never had an incident of violence associated with any of its multiple work strikes and boycotts, and ADOC recorded its lowest levels of violence during FAM activities.
18. 2016. Historic September 9, 2016, 45th Anniversary Attica Rebellion Nationwide Prison Strike. Largest prison strike US history. Over 24 states and 30,000 freedom fighters.
19. 2013-2018. During the height of FAM organizing, ADOC saw the total prison population drop from appx. 30,000 to appx. 23,000, before rising again.
20. 2013-2018. During the height of FAM activism, the Alabama Parole Board created an emergency board and granted over 4000 paroles. The number of parole grants began to lessen in 2018, eventually recording record lows in 2020.
21. 2013-2019. As a result of FAM’s exposure of living conditions and intensive media coverage, two Alabama prisons closed (Holman and Draper).
22. 2015 and 2019. FAM witnessed two Governor-appointed Prison Reform/Oversight Committees that were created to address issues highlighted by FAM advocacy and exposure.
23. 2014-2016. FAM saw two conservative sentencing reform measures passed.
24. 2014-2016. FAM’s exposure of ADOC central to class-action litigation filed by Bryan Stevenson and EJI, Southern Poverty Law Centers, and Southern Center for Human Rights.
25. 2016. In an unpredictable and surprising action, in 2016, ADOC correctional officers at Holman CF adopted FAM’s strategy and led their own work strike, where they were protesting, among other issues, the same ADOC leadership and inhumane living conditions as highlighted by FAM. While not all issues were the same between FAM and the officers, the impact of FAM’s influence for change was undeniable.
26. 2016. FAM’s exposure of ADOC, pro se litigation, and advocacy work led to “first-of-its-kind” statewide investigation of all Alabama men’s prisons by the US Department of Justice. These investigations produced two separate reports, both of which found the ADOC to be violating the civil, human and constitutional rights of those serving time in ADOC custody.
27. 2017. An anonymous ADOC employee released a trove of over 1000 graphic, gory photos depicting violence and barbaric savagery inside ADOC. While a select few of these images were made public, many in the mainstream media withheld 800 of these photos, protecting ADOC and collaborating in their mutual interest.
28. 2018. Campaign to Redistribute The Pain 2018, a nationwide bi-monthly boycott of canteen, collect phone calls, visitation vending machines, and incentive packages.
29. 2018 National Prison Strike. Following FAM’s visionary approach to organizing prison labor nationally and relying on the infrastructure put in place leading to FAM’s historic September 9, 2016, 45th Anniversary Attica Rebellion Nationwide Prison Strike/Boycott/Protest, the 2018 Nationwide Prison Strike took place after the Lee County, South Carolina riots. FAM’s leadership and national Campaign to Redistribute The Pain 2018, spanning the entire year of 2018, were integral to the 2018 National Prison Strike. Since that first nationwide effort in 2016, FAM inspired at least 5 other inside-led national events.
30. 2012-2019. Assisted in filing over 250 excessive force, police brutality, ethics complaints, and Section 1983 civil class action lawsuits against ADOC officials.
31. 2014-2020. FAM’s advocacy and activism produced intensive media coverage that resulted in investigations, forced resignations, demotions and firings of at least one ADOC Commissioner (K. Thomas), Associate Commissioners G. Culliver and J. DeLoach), Wardens (Estes, Davenport, E. Evans, and others.
32. 2015-current. FAM’s advocacy and activism led ADOC to adopt policies requiring warden training and rotations. Results are negligible though due to a lack of accountability enforcement, although a few wardens have shown negative pattern behavior resulting in resignations or other forms of termination.
33. 2019. FAM’s hunger strikes exposed and led to the end of ADOC’s secretive and highly inhumane “bucket detail” and extortion schemes by officials at Limestone CF. FAM leaders caused the end of the 25+ year careers of Warden DeWayne Estes and Captain Patrick Robinson, and civil litigation.
34. 2015/2019. FAM jailhouse attorneys, who have filed pro se litigation on his behalf for years, uplifted the story of Willie “Fire Plug” Simmons on their WordPress blog. FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT’s network of activists and contacts who played a vital role in uncovering this story and facilitating Mr. Simmons’ access to press went uncredited when Mr. Simmons’ story exploded and went worldwide.
35. 2019. Launched #ParoleWatch2020 in response to the Charlie Graddick-led Bureau. FAM is the only organization in the State to conduct protests at the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Headquarters. Graddick resigned effective November 31.
36. 2014-current. FAM’s influence over the course of 7 years has inspired the creation of or brought close collaboration with over 40 organizations, including Unheard Voices, Free Mississippi Movement, APSP, UHURU Movement, Free South Carolina Movement, Mississippi Southern Belles, Free Ohio Movement, FAM Queen Team, T.O.P.S., IWOC, JLS, United Black Family Scholarship Foundation, End Prison Slavery in Texas, Amend the 13th, Decarcerate Louisiana, NABPP, Faith In Action, The Plus Party, Be Frank 4 Justice, Abolish Slavery National Network, EPIC, Ida B. Wells, and many, many more.
37. 2020. Statewide host of August 22, 2020, National Day of Freedom and Justice events.
38. 2020. Co-Presenters for the Harvard Prison Divestment
39. 2020. Co-lead organizers for the October 26-30, 2020 Plus Party #FreeThe13th 5-Day Virtual Rally.
40. 2020. Host of the December 6, 2020, Abolish Slavery Alabama event, marking the 155 year anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment and the exception clause that allows slavery and involuntary Servitude to continue as punishment for crime.
41. 2021. On January 1, 2021, FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT is calling for a #30DayBlackout Boycott and Strike.
42. Our greatest accomplishment is the awareness, education and Spirit of Freedom that we were able to share with over 10,000 men in the ADOC; the tens of thousands of men and women behind cages, walls and fences in America who participated in the 2016 and 2018 nationwide strikes/boycotts/protests; and innumerable others we have impacted around the world. FAM’s banners have hung in four continents around the world, Europe, Africa, South America, and North America.
Special Thanks to the Ratcliff Family and the San Francisco Bay View Black Newspaper. As always, there are some people and organizations that rise above the rest and stand in such a way as to merit special consideration. For FAM, this honor goes to the Bay View and Mr. and Mrs. Ratcliff. We can’t even recount the many deeds or the many ways. All we can do is stand in awe, admiration, appreciate, respect and Love. ❤️
We are not done yet. . .
The price of Freedom comes at a great cost to Freedom Fighters behind the walls.
Chaos is brewing in ADOC as COVID-19 continues to spread and claim lives. Testing of some positive individuals at atleast two State prisons are being redone as the number of positive results continues to rise to crisis levels.
Also, it appears that the entire population at Bibb County CF has been tested. With additional testing, Bibb CF saw a spike in positive results. BIBB CF is one of the institutions where retesting is underway, while residents feel that ADOC is attempting to skew results. ADOC is not saying why testing is being redone.
ADOC’s medical contractors and healthcare professionals are also facing scrutiny. There are serious questions and widespread allegations being made about tampering and discarding testing kits. Meanwhile, no explanation is being provided as to why retesting is being done? Why the need for secrecy over the reason for retesting? Questions also remain about oversight regulations and audit processes regarding tests? There is much to unpack in Alabama DOC.
As infection rates and death tolls continue to mount while testing continues to lag behind, the call and need for more people to be released is growing louder. Alabama remains an outlier amongst other states who are already releasing people in an effort to save lives. With inhumane conditions and a lack of adequate cleaning supplies and PPEs already an intractable problem, COVID-19 remains a serious threat to everyone incarcerated in ADOC and the entire State of Alabama.
I know it’s the trendy term (Mass incarceration) but, in addition to understanding when this term appeared, you must understand two things about that misnomer.
The history: Mass incarceration did not exist as a description for the warehousing of bodies through prisons prior to 2010 and the publication of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Between the launch of twitter in 2007 and 2009, there were only 4 mentions of mass incarceration. Literally, it didn’t exist before that.
You need to know: 1- Mass incarceration is a misnomer that does not point out the racial and class aspects of the largest prison population to ever exist on planet earth. It implies that this phenomenon is applied equally across national demographics. A burden shared by all citizens. If that were true there would be over 5 million more “white” people in prisons right now. In reality, this is a textbook example of the fallacy of the average.
2- Mass incarceration is not a crime. There are no laws against mass incarceration. THERE ARE LAWS against slavery. Slavery can be abolished.
It’s true that Michelle Alexander advanced the understanding of our for-profit and race/class based criminal injustice system. What she didn’t do was label it correctly or offer the proper solution to the problem.
The answer to legalized slavery is not reform. It’s abolition. You can not FIX, REFORM, or REPAIR a crime against humanity. And that is exactly what we are dealing with. A crime against humanity called slavery. The same slavery we’ve always dealt with.
The differences between antebellum chattel slavery and modern 13TH amendment slavery is that A- You are not born a slave but you can certainly become a slave at any moment. Especially if you live in high crime, high poverty conditions. B- Today’s slaves are not owned by individuals. They are owned and operated by the state or private prisons and their shareholders.
Get your language right and your mind will follow.
Get registered for the #FREE THE 13th Event as the conversation about the 13th Amendment and its connection to the continuation of the institution of slavery and the Abolitionist Movement to end slavery in America builds momentum.
“When the public is told that prisons are overcrowded, the prisoncrats package these reports in a way that has the public thinking that the problem is nothing more than inadequate space to store our property neatly into our locker boxes or that we don’t have the space of a five star hotel. This is all deliberate misinformation and deceitful propaganda.
Without proper visuals to go with the content being disseminated, society don’t realize that, in actuality, we are stacked on top of each other in the same way that our African Ancestors were packed inside of slave ships. These slave plantation-like conditions are producing catastrophic results in environments that are unimaginable in a supposed civilized country. However, these images are hard to come by. The administrators know this and they work to keep it that way. That’s why cameras, reporters, and filming crews are banned inside of prisons, except for the “dog and pony” shows that showcase the few “public consumption” areas of a prison.
Removing the veil of secrecy is a task that those of us on the inside must play a vital role in. If the media won’t come to the mountain, then we must bring the mountain to the media. In other words, we have to continue with the process that we have already started, which is to create our own media. Taking these cellphones that we have at our disposal and using them to expose the system is one of the fundamental principles of Free Alabama Movement. Indeed, no one else can do this but Us. No one else is responsible for this task but Us. Without exposing the system for what it truly is, we are DEAD.
Last year, the commissioner for the Alabama Department of Corrections was forced to admit in a news interview that the infrastructure for the Alabama prison system was not designed to rehabilitate, but to warehouse human bodies.
Alabama Has the Deadliest Prisons in the Country: It Says It’s Looking for Reforms, by Arian Campo-Flores, Wall Street Journal, January 26, 2019:
“Our infrastructure was not designed to rehabilitate. It was designed to warehouse,” said Jefferson Dunn, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections.
Commissioner Dunn says that work is being done to correct these issues. The problem though is that Commissioner Dunn has been on the job for over 5 years now, and human warehousing has been going on in Alabama long before he arrived and throughout his tenure. The same problems and constitutional issues there are being reported on about the Alabama prison system today, are the same as those that were being said about the Alabama prisons in the 1870’s, 1920’s, 1970’s, and now in 2020.
Commissioner Dunn is only speaking now because we have placed these issues into the public sphere of conversation to a degree that he can’t avoid. Human warehousing and all of the evils that are attendant to it remain a part of the Southern culture and way of life, as they have been since Black people were first enslaved in the Heart of Dixie. Prison slavery or public/State ownership and control of the institution of slavery, the successor to the private ownership industry of slavery, won’t end until we end it. Exposing its existence and disabusing the lies that conceal it are a big part of that process.
When we did our own filming from the inside by cellphones and leaked this information out in wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, especially in Alabama and California, our videos were featured on HBO/Vice News, ABC News with George Stephonopolous, the Tamron Hall show, and a special report by Gail King ABC This Morning. This shows that when the public actually sees the reality of what the insides look like, they will respond to it.
Predictably, the government responded in retaliation. But their reactionary attacks proves the point that they want the truth hidden; therefore, we should go even harder in our efforts to expose them. What we need to do next is to organize something like a National Prison Slavery Exposure Event where we just unleash thousands and thousands of videos, pictures, and testimonies, all at one time, and all across social media for the world to see. In other words, we have to meet the challenge in such a way that the system can’t simply react with their typical forms of retaliation, but instead, they have to bow down to the truth. (More on this later) “
On March 24, 1988, six Black children were arrested around 1:00 am, and charged as juvenile deliquents in Gadsden, Ala. for allegedly attempting to break into a department store.
These children were taken to the police station and interrogated for appx. 4 hours by a group of appx. 4 to 6 white police officers. At no point during this interrogation were their parents contacted. There were no attorneys present. When interrogation ended several hours later, the Gadsden 6 were charged with over 30 felony charges for burglary and theft.
A few hours later that same morning of March 24, 1988, the GADSDEN 6 were taken to an initial appearance hearing that suddenly turned into a detention hearing. The GADSDEN 6 was still without parent or attorneys.
At the detention hearing, the GADSDEN 6 were surrounded by appx. 6 white police officers, two white juvenile officers, and a white prosecutor. The record shows that probable cause was stipultaed to on all 30 charges.
Probable cause means that there is reasonable to believe that a crime has been committed and that the defendant committed it. This fact was stipultaed to on all 30 charges.
But STIPULTAED to by who??
The GADSDEN 6 were all children. None of them had attorneys and none of their parents were present. There were only 6 Black children and appx 10 white men present. Who stipulated for the GADSDEN 6 to 30 felony charges on the same day of their arrest ? Children cannot stipulate to anything without counsel and / or their parents present.
The record shows that an attorney was not appointed up April 6, 1988, two weeks AFTERthe stipulation was entered.
These cases were subsequently transferred to adult court without a hearing, where the GADSDEN 6 were convicted of adikt charges At least 3 GADSDEN 6 members suffered 4 or more convictions each, rendering all of them eligible for treatment as a habitual offender and subject to a sentence of life or life without parole if they ever charged with another felony offense.
All of the convictions imposed against the GADSDEN 6 are illegal because they were not represented by counsel or parents at all critical.
CLEARING UP CONFUSION AND MISUNDERSTANDING ABOUT THE SENTENCING COMMISSION AND WHAT IS NOT ABOUT TO HAPPEN ON OCTOBER 1, 2020.
Dear Black Man,
Please know that if you haven’t done anything exceptional or monumental like a shutdowns, i. e., a work strike, boycott and significant protest, then you are not getting freedom.
The posts about the sentencing commission makes two points very clear that we can’t just overlook or ignore:
1) Thr standards only go into effect if approved during the 2020 Legislative Session.
They were NOT approved !!!
This is why Free Alabama Movement starting protesting at the Parole Bureau on June 23, 24 and 25. Parole remained the only path to freedom for many, but Charlie Graddick had virtually stopped all paroles.
2) Just this week, Free Alabama Movement posted again that the sentencing standards must be made retroactive in order to help those who have already been in the system. The information circulating around social media clearly states that the law will apply only to offender “on or after” the effective date.
In other words, if you are already in prison, this law doesn’t apply to you.
Why do y’all think FAM is calling for another Protest on September 29?
Answer: Paroles continue to be denied at historic rates.
Until we do something to make them a) approve the standards and b) make them retroactive, this stuff won’t help ANYONE already incarcerated.
In the song the words go “don’t save her, she don’t wanna be saved.” Family, we are not going to be saved. As the Nation of Gods and Earths say, we gotta Self Save.
WE GOTTA SHUT DOWN !!! Okay ! Keep thinking that the system that is oppressing you is going to save you. Why do y’all think the DOJ is publicly expressing that they are not satisfied with Alabama’s response? Ain’t nobody going anywhere. Just keep thinking you don’t have to support these protests and calls for a shutdown. You will see. . .
In 2014, inmates across three Alabama prisons, organized by a prison group called the Free Alabama Movement, participated in work stoppages for over 3 weeks to protest deplorable conditions behind bars and to call for an end to mass incarceration and prison slavery.
The Free Alabama Movement expanded its efforts outside of Alabama in 2016 to organize the largest prisoner collective action protest in U.S. history: a nationwide prison strike involving more than 24,000 inmates. Although they did not issue a “single, unified list of demands,” the 2016 prison strikers generally protested for “fair pay for their work, humane living conditions, and better access to education and rehabilitation programs.”
While largely unsuccessful in effectuating major changes to the American prison system, the 2016 prison strike and the prison strikes of the past decade have raised the salience of prisoner collective action efforts on the national level. For the first time, prisoners are collectively making their voices loudly heard across the country — injecting their viewpoints and demands into our national debates on mass incarceration, forced labor, and other injustices of our carceral state.
When my wife told me that she had watched the documentary the 13th. She now better understand why I am still INCARCERATED in SIDE of ADOC. She now sees that IT’S not the crime that they say that I committed that has me INCARCERATED all these decades. And thousands of more men are in slavery,along with me. Yes, slavery people such as well as myself are TRAPPED into slavery through the courts systems, along with other agencies. HOUSING us worse than ANIMALS and working us SLAVES for nothing, while these different agency’s make billions of dollars off the backs of the SLAVES and our families who dare to stand by our sides and support us. These agencies are so corrupt that they even charge us SLAVES for medical treatments. They charge us SLAVES for disciplinaries. The very same items that our loved ONES use to have the privilege of sending us, we now must buy them from the agency. They have entrapped us into slavery with the new laws that our so called legislatures are passing TARGETING the black men of America. LOCKING us up for long periods of time. So many people are blind to these facts. Please I not only urge you to watch the documentary the 13th but I also beg you to. please don’t take my word for this and watch it for yourself please. Even if you don’t know anyone in prison, I promise you that someone who you love and care about is subject to fall victim to this SLAVES trade that is still operating strongly through the United State court systems. If you care anything about the future of our CHILDREN, PLEASE STAND with me and the OTHERS who are making the necessary sacrifices to change the way that we are being Mistreated and enslaved behind these plantation walls. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!
In the midst of the George Floyd protests for racial and social justice and a call for the end of police summary executions and murders of innocence, unarmed Black men and women with impunity, many people around the world were shocked when a Democratic prosecutor in Utah charged Black Lives Matter protestors under gang enhancement charges that carried a possible life sentence in prison for merely splashing paint across the steps and part of the street in front of the DA’s with red paint.
While these excessive ‘gang’ charges drew condemnation far and wide, this incident exposed a practice that many Black men know all too well, especially here in Alabama. But, unlike the prosecutor in Utah, who acknowledged that he doubts that anyone will spend even a day in jail for these charges that carry a life sentence, Black men in Alabama have not been so lucky.
In fact, hundreds of Black men in Alabama have been charged with gang-related capital murder offenses that carry the death penalty or life without parole. Although no one has ever received the death penalty under these statutes, hundreds are çurrently serving life without parole sentences after being prosecuted under these gang laws even though none of them were ever charged with actually being in any gang. Many others were originally overcharged with capital offense but ultimately had their charges reduced in plea deals.
HISTORYOF ALABAMA’S GANG LAWS
In 1992, the Alabama Legislature convened to address what was the considered to be a public outcry against gang violence. Among the issues of concern were “drive-by” shooting, where vehicles were being weaponized to carry out gang murders. These gang killings were also taking the lives of innocent children who were outside playing in their yards, or sitting inside their homes when these drive-by shootings were being carried out. In response, the Alabama Legislature added four new capital murder crimes to the Alabama criminal code that were now punishable by death or LWOP:
Over time and after years of these laws being on the books, we have learned that these laws have not been applied as intended. We’ve also learned that the uneven and disparate application of these laws have been applied almost exclusively to young Black men. The facts are undeniable. Alabama prosecutors are intentionally and systematically using gang laws to overcharge, wrongfully convict, and over sentence young Black men for capital murder where the only aggravating factor used to enhance their charges is the fact that they are Black. Excepting a few isolated instances, white people who commit the exact same crimes are not charges with capital murder.
SHIRLEY HENSON: Road Rage and Black Rage
Every fire has a spark.
The case that sparked the fire leading to the discovery of the racial discrimination in how these laws were being used was the road rage case involving a middle-class white woman named Shirley Henson. Ms. Henson was driving down an Alabama interstate when she got into an altercation with another driver over tailgating. When the driver of the other vehicle got out of her car to confront Ms. Henson, Ms. Henson retrieved her gun and shot through her window striking the woman in the face, killing her.
As shown above, under Alabama law, when a person inside a vehicle fires a weapon outside that vehicle and kills someone this is capital murder:
(18) Murder committed by or through the use of a deadly weapon fired or otherwise used within or from a vehicle.
Indeed, firing a weapon from inside a vehicle and killing someone outside that vehicle is exactly how a drive-by shooting is committed. But, Ms. Henson was not charged with a capital offense. Instead, she was charged with reckless murder.
This lesser charge was a revelation to Black men in Alabama because they, unlike Ms. Henson, were told that there crimes were capital based on the factual predicate that a weapon was fired from inside a vehicle that killed someone outside the vehicle or vice versa. This was a fact that, according to their prosecutors and defense attorneys, automatically rendered their cases capital.
Yet, here it was playing out on news stations all around the State that when a white women committed the exact same crime, with the exact same facts, she was not charged with a capital offense. Ultimately, Ms. Henson was famously convicted of road rage and spent appx. 10 years in prison before being released.
Young Black men, however, were receiving life without parole sentences, left to die in the Alabama prison system for the exact same offense.
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 575
While Shirley Henson, a middle classes white woman received the benefit of white privilege in the Alabama judicial system, Phillip Fondren, a young white male did not. Phillip Fondren was charged with capital murder after killing a man (Fondren claimed self-defense) in a domestic situation after an argument with his wife’s ex-boyfriend. A single gunshot was fired from Fondren’s vehicle:
After his conviction, Phillip’s mother, understanding the injustice done to her son, became a vocal activist, refusing to accept as fact that her son would spend the rest of his life in prison simply because he was charged under a statute that defined the crime and length of punishment based solely on the location of the parties when the crime occured. In order words, if Phillip had stepped outside of his truck and he and the victim were both standing in the driveway when the same fatal shot was fired, he would not have been subject to a capital offense or life without parole.
Phillip’s case and many others highlight the fact that gang affiliation and using the vehicle as an instrument of the crime (drive-by) are the elements that the Alabama Legislature intended to punish. These were the aggravating factors that enhanced the punishment. When those aggravating elements are absent, then what prosecutors are supposed to be punishing is a murder case.
Avoiding absurd results like this is the very reason why gang relation was a critical aspect of the original legislation. If there was no gang involvement or the vehicle was not being used to carry out the crime then there was no aggravating facts that would justify enhancing the charge to capital murder instead of regular murder.
This injustice compelled Ms. Fondren to start writing articles, reaching out to legislatures and taking other proactive actions, all of which ultimately lead to her understanding that her son had been charged under a gang-related statute even though his crime was not gang-related and he was not in a gang.
Her efforts lead the Alabama Legislature to passed a House Joint Resolution 575, which was signed by the Governor, all stating that the gang statute was being misapplied in Alabama inconsistent with their intent in passing the law in the first place.
PHYRRIC VICTORY AFTER THE JUDICIAL BRANCH GETS INVOLVED
The success of Ms. Fondren’s campaign was short-lived. After receiving the Resolution, the next step was to file a writ bringing Phillip’s case back to his court of conviction for sentencing relief. The court, however, refused to grant relief, contending that the Resolution did not have the effect of law. As such, all relief was denied.
Challenges to the Resolution went all the way to the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Judicial Circuit, all to no avail. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari review and any hope for obtaining relief based on the House Joint Resolution were dashed.
According to the judiciary the problem resided in the fact that the Alabama Legislature omitted certain language from the Bill that was voted on after it was enacted into Law, and the House Joint Resolution cannot be used as an amendment to supply that language.
See, the original Bill submitted to committee and voted on by both houses states specifically that the Bill was intended to punish gang-related drive-by activity. This language is also in the minutes of the debates and conversation about the Bill. But once the Bill was enacted into law, the “gang-related” language, somehow and for whatever reason was excluded. As a result of this snafu, hundreds of people have been wrongfully convicted and no one has been able to obtain relief. This is a travesty of justice.
OTHER CASES INVOLVING WHITE DEFENDANTS TREATED DIFFERENTLY AND MORE FAVORABLE THAN THOSE INVOLVING YOUNG BLACK MEN
Over the years, countless other instances of cases have surfaced involving facts where the defendants were treated differently based on the color of skin. In one the more egregious instances of white privilege, a white man named Steven Bedgood in Georgetown, Alabama, arrived home and noticed a truck leaving the direction of his residence. Upon realization that the truck was being driven by a burglar leaving his home, Mr. Bedgood retrieved a high-powered rifle and shot over 1/8 a mile down the road, striking the assumed burglar in the head, killing him instantly.
Under Alabama’s gang statute, this killing of another person inside a vehicle by shots fired from outside the vehicle is capital murder :
(17) Murder committed by or through the use of a deadly weapon while the victim is in a vehicle.
Unlike hundreds of young Black men before him, however, Mr. Bedgood was charged with manslaughter, a class C felony. Ultimately, Mr. Bedgood was convicted of the lesser included offense of criminally negligent homicide, a misdemeanor, and received 6 months suspended sentence, while each of the Black men mentioned above received life or life without parole. Absent intervention or change in the law, each of them will die in prison, while Mr. Bedgood never served a day in prison.
Oeatha Archie III, Brandon Johnson, Antwaun Phillips, and Jeremy Cattage are just a few of the young Black men who were charged with capital murder pursuant subsection (17), a circumstance where the victim was killed inside a vehicle by a gushot fired from outside that vehicle. Well-known activist and civil rights leader Pastor Kenneth Sharpron Glasgow and his codefendant are two Black men who are currently facing capital murder charges under this racially discriminatory law for a non-gang related offense where the vehicle was not used as a weapon to carry out the crime.
These Black men were all charged with capital murder and sentenced to Life or Life Without Parole even though they were not accused of being gang members or of committing a gang-related killing. The enhancement element in each of their cases was the the fact that they are Black.
Systemic racism and abuse at the hands of law enforcement takes on many forms, resulting in death by different means. While George Floyd met his death in the street, those who protested his death were charged under gang statutes that carry death-inducing life sentences. Prosecutors who routinely overcharge Black defendants are no less guilty that the officers who murdered George Floyd. The manner of death does not remove the certainty of it.
In Alabama, Black men are sentenced to death by incarceration for committing acts that when committed by white people sometimes doesn’t even result in a single day spent in jail. This need to change. The House Joint Resolution makes clear that their intent was to punish ONLY gang-related drive-by killings and/or those killings that uses a vehicle as an instrument of the crime, as a capital offense. Being Black is not a symbol for gang involvement, and being Black should no longer be countenanced as being an element of a crime. Prosecutors should not be allowed to punish Blackness; those who are currently charged or have already been wrongfully convicted as such deserve justice now.
By Brother Mika’il, a servant to the people and voice for freedom and justice.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 13, 2020
We had a brother, Tommy James Rogers, AIS 246679, go up for parole the other day with a 16 year clear record and multiple program completions, not to mention Mr. Rodgers is a first-offender who has never been in trouble before in his life or since. Nevertheless, his efforts to regain his freedom were denied by the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.
Mr. Rodgers has shown the upmost remorse for his crime and it shows in his actions. After first graduating himself, Mr. Rodgers went on to serve as an intern for eight (8) years in one of the most dangerous program’s in the Alabama prison system, the TC program at St. Clair CF. Mr. Rodgers further served for eight (8) years as a Facilitator for the Long Distance Dads program, in addition to completing many other programs over the years of his incarceration. (See below)
Mr. Rodgers has also worked as a trustee in the store, kitchen stock room, and on the truck crew for a combined 8 years, all while leading by example and helping others learn from their mistakes as well. Mr. Rodgers has committed himself to serving as a positive example to others entering into Alabama’s prison system. However, the decision of the Parole Board to deny him parole further shows that even with an annual budget of over $600 million, taxpayers aren’t receiving any return on their investment in Education, Rehabilitation and corrections. Indeed, if a person is completing all of the programming available and still being denied parole, what is the incentive to others to even consider engaging in Positive behavior?
Please speak up for Mr. Rodgers, as anyone and everyone who knows him can and will vouch for his character, credibility and integrity without hesitation!
He has been an inspiration to young men like myself for years, always showing and teaching what is right and standing on that even when it is dangerous to do so!
Brothers like him and his situation are never made known to the public or taken into consideration because he will come out, teach, and represent what is right and be listened to, hence stopping the “womb to prison pipeline” in the hood; something the system of racism clearly doesn’t want.
Instead of releasing people who have demonstrated their willingness to be a positive influence once returned back to society, the ABPP has released a man who had a stabbing disciplinary as short as 6 months before parole. But this man with an impeccable record before and after his one and only criminal case in his life, who, after atoning and rehabilitating himself from his one and only mistake in life, gets no justice or opportunity at redemption!!!
What can we do to help?
Well, first we need to start a petition and make calls to the parole board and every office over it, all the way to the Governor in regards to him and others like him that have impeccable proof of rehabilitation and remorse but are still being denied parole anyway.
Second, we all must start documenting our own progress of rehabilitation to present before our peers in order for them to go to bat for us with proper ammunition. No one can help us if we don’t make ourselves candidates for help.
Then, we will have evidence and a leg to stand on in our fight for liberation. Those are really the best and most important things we can do at this point; we must stand up for self and each other, it must be documented and sent through the proper channels with the full support of the Movement on the street to bring about true results.
And please know that what is going on here in Alabama with the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles is going on in most other states around the country. Texas, Ohio, Mississippi and Oklahoma, just to name a few, all have a history of this too. Denying people parole for reasons like nature of the offense is simply a way to keep the prisons full and to keep making profits off of these human warehouses and slave labor ppantatu. There are orgs introducing legislation that encourages transparency in the parole process. When people are denied, the board should explain to them what they can do to work toward going home and set out a clear parole criteria, instead of citing static, arbitrary reasons.
The current methods of denying parole for any reason or for no legit reason at all, creates feelings of hopelessness and doesn’t encourage people to want to stay on the right path, especially if they feel like they won’t make it home anyway. Thus, fighting for changes like FAM’s 12 DEMANDS is the type of legislation and change we should be pushing for.
Cases like this one should be the evidence and ammunition to make it happen. Let’s make it happen today. 🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️🗣️
Re-posted from the page of the one and only Max Prathas, the Abolitionist that the enslaved trusts
What’s Really Real?
The fight against intangibles and ideals historically lacks one simple but crucial factor. The fact that the 13th amendment never abolished slavery. It was legalized instead under state actors. There’s entire best selling books that break it all down and oddly, never mention the transfer from personal chattel slavery to state convict leasing, and finally, to the modern warehousing of bodies. Many and varied are the explanations in our heads for currently having the largest prison population ever seen on earth. A narrative which fills that void where “Slavery Never Ended” should be instead.
Harvard professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad astutely observed that the 13th amendment exception clause has never received the adequate academic scrutiny it deserves. And that is it in a nutshell. Maybe, those studying slavery, will act like they heard.
I’ve listened to entire panels of highly esteemed academics and constitutional experts in grandiose halls discuss the 13th amendment on its anniversaries and never once mention the infamous exception clause. One time, an elderly gentleman from Jailhouse Lawyers Speaks stood up in the audience and asked about the exception as loud and as clear as could be. With living examples of the amendments sections. It was embarrassing to see the responses and sad to know how long they’ve gone without asking any new questions.
To date, 25 other states adopted their own twisted remixed diction of the pro slavery language found in the amendments description. As was intended, many came long after the civil war had ended. Even though all those states used/use convict lease systems in these incidents, it’s supposed to be just a crazy coincidence.
Legal slavery is not an intangible. It’s not an ideal. It’s not what people think and feel. It’s a real thing we suffer from every day which is written into the constitution and exploited nationwide. And it pains me inside to say it was made that way. But Slavery can be Abolished.
Just do a little research and you’ll see multiple court cases in places where slavery or slave like conditions in prisons was challenged by an inmates appeal and the court threw up the 13TH amendment like Captain America’s mighty shield. “It says right here, slavery and involuntary servitude is allowed, sooo… case closed. Appeal denied. Sorry. At least you tried.”
Even the NCAA grabbed a vibranium copy of the 13th to ward off college players who generate billions in revenue. So, don’t tell me what they never knew. They know, and now you do too.
You can test the truth of every word I say. Laws exist in reality and affect us every single day. Enforced by guns ready to be fired with as much force as is legally required. Punishable by incarceration or execution. By gas, chemicals, or electrocution. A simple traffic ticket violation can end with cops calling a hearse. Tax evasion means prison with potential death or worse. Just walking down the street with sagging pants and underwear showing (for men only) in some counties is punishable by 6 months in jail time and/or a $1,000 fine.
Try and resist the fascist fashion police and you may end up deceased just like Ervin Edwards in Louisiana. Or broken and brutalized like high school sophomore Jonathan Villarreal as was graphically described by his parents.
Muricans like to consider themselves a just and fair society. Generous and compassionate. It isn’t, and they are not, but neither do 99.9% of rappers have as much as they claim that they’ve got. Thinking you hear coins clinking never filled anyone’s purse and following desert mirages never quenched anyone’s thirst. I guess, like the present president, everyone thinks the laws of attraction works.
As someone who spends all their time finding ways to change the public’s mind, let me chime in with this advice albeit unsolicited.
if you want to combat pink power, It’s easier and more permanent to remove pro slavery language from a states constitution using a voter initiative.
Today, September 5, 2020, organizers with E.P.I.C. org. (Ensuring Parole for Incarcerated Citizens) held their 24th consecutive protest at an Ohio prison is support of Freedom and Justice. E.P.I.C. has protested at 24 of the 28 Ohio prisons, and they have no intention of stopping.
E.P.I.C went LIVE today on social media and FAM and the FAM QUEEN TEAM are promoting and supporting these amazing organizers in every way possible.
FAM and FAM QUEEN TEAM is asking all of our supporters, friends and allies in the Ohio area to reach out to E. P. I. C. and support their amazing effort.
There FB group information is below. We need boots on the ground in other states supporting as well. This is what dedicated activism looks like that changes things. E. P. I. C. is leading by example. Let ALL join in and do something EPIC.
Somehow, some way, people think this is all a coincidence.
1 Alabama: That no form of slavery shall exist in this state; and there shall not be any involuntary servitude, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted. Alabama Constitution, Section 32
2 Arkansas: There shall be no slavery in this State, nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime. No standing army shall be kept in time of peace; the military shall, at all times, be in strict subordination to the civil power; and no soldier shall be quartered in any house, or on any premises, without the consent of the owner, in time of peace; nor in time of war, except in a manner prescribed by law. Arkansas Constitution, Article 2, Section 25.
3 California: Slavery is prohibited. Involuntary servitude is prohibited, except to punish crime. Article I, Section 6.
4 Colorado: There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude. Colorado Constitution Article 2, Section 26 (Amended 2018)
5 Georgia: There shall be no involuntary servitude within the State of Georgia except as a punishment for crime after legal conviction thereof or for contempt of court. Article I, Section 1 Paragraph XXII.
6 Indiana: There shall be neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude, within the State, otherwise than for the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Article 1, Section 37
7 Iowa: There shall be no slavery in this State; nor shall there be involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime. Article I, Section 23
8 Kansas: There shall be no slavery in this state; and no involuntary servitude, except for the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.
9 Kentucky: Slavery and involuntary servitude in this state are forbidden, except as a punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Article I, Section 25
10 Louisiana: No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws. No law shall discriminate against a person because of race or religious ideas, beliefs, or affiliations. No law shall arbitrarily, capriciously, or unreasonably discriminate against a person because of birth, age, sex, culture, physical condition, or political ideas or affiliations. Slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited, except in the latter case as punishment for crime. Article I, Section 3.
11 Maryland: An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery” by a vote of 34 to 21 on March 1, 1870
12 Michigan: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this State. Article I, Section 9.
13 Minnesota: No member of this state shall be disfranchised or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof, unless by the law of the land or the judgement of his peers. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the state, otherwise than as punishment for a crime of which the party has been convicted. Article I, Section 2
14 Mississippi: There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this State, otherwise than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Article 3, Section 15
15 Nebraska: There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this state, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Article I, Section 2 (there is a 2020 amendment intended to remove the exception)
16 Nevada: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this State. Article 1, Section 17.
17 North Carolina: Slavery is forever prohibited. Involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the parties have been adjudged guilty, is forever prohibited.
18 North Dakota: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this State. Article 1, Section 17
19 Ohio: There shall be no slavery in this state; nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime. Article I, Section 6.
20 Oregon: There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the State, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted. Article 1, Section 34
21 Tennessee: That slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, are forever prohibited in this state. Article 1, Section 33 The General Assembly shall make no law recognizing the right of property in man. Article 1, Section 34
22 Utah: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within this State. Article I, Section 21 (there is a 2020 amendment to remove the exception)
23 Vermont: That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety; therefore no person born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person as a servant, slave or apprentice, after he arrives to the age of twenty-one years, unless he is bound by his own consent, after he arrives to such age, or bound by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like. Chapter I, Article 1st
24 Wisconsin: There shall be neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude in this state, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted.
When I first saw the Tweet I was immediately offended.
I also immediately responded to it because I recognized it for what it is. Being exposed to racism and consciously fighting against it, opens ones eyes to the subtle slights and nuances when confronted with it.
Black people are used to this type of racial discriminations when we see them. We know these tigers by their stripes well. We also know that they hate FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT and how this hatred keeps them away from us and our Movement against prison slavery. Their hate sometimes forces them to reveal their hand at times and in circumstances when they can’t help themselves. Nevertheless, their hatred, mixed with their racism will always find outlets for expression. It rips their own mask off, even when we know it was already there.
July 15, 2020, was just the latest example. On that day, FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT was supporting another grassroots organizer, Rev. Sankey and Sis. Kim in the fight against oppression on Black people. Like FAM, Rev. Sankey doesn’t have the watered down message that others have. Like FAM, Rev. Sankey doesn’t tap dance to White Supremacy. Instead,we confront it and call it out when we see it. This means that our access to many media platforms to deliver our message is denied. We are locked out by institutional racism and the individuals who enforce it. In spite of these obstacles, we sojourn on. We simply have to grind harder to get our message out about our oppression as well as our oppressors.
Thamkfully, for that protest, Rev. Sankey and Sis. Kim were able to reach our Sister Ms. Gabrielle Evans. This amazing, strong and courageous Black Queen appeared on stage and delivered a message of pain, loss, courage and Black love for her son just four days after losing her 31 year-old him in an Alabama Death Camp. At the time, she was still planning her son’s funeral.
Ms. Evans shared the stage that day with Ms. Sandra Ray, whose son Stephen died in 2019 in another Alabama Death Camp. Ms. Ray, though, is white. She is also the media darling and go-to person for white media personalities like Beth Shelburne. While they would never cover our events, they keep close tabs on their own. That’s how this story unfolded. Beth Shelburne was trying to support a white woman but without supporting a Black organization.
It was this racist motive to support a white woman and to uplift the story of the white life that was lost, that equated into a difference in the way that these women were shown respect by Beth Shelburne. It took me back in history to the time when Black women were treated as less than animals by medical professionals like Dr. James Marian Sims, a story I included in my response to Beth’s racist Tweet. Dr. Sims is one of the physician who used to perform major surgical experiments on Black women without using anaesthesia because white supremacists ideology premises that Black women did not feel pain.
I thought about my own Black Mother. I contemplated how it made me feel just imagining if it were me instead of Laveris who was dead, and my Beautiful Queen and Black Mother was standing next to a white Mother who had also lost her son, and my Mom was treated with this level of disrespect and disregard. I felt rage at that moment because this same system that took Laveris’ life – and Steven’s — has also tried to take my life for fighting to reunite families just like Ms. Evans and young Black men just like her son back together. I know that racist like Beth Shelburne who have no respect for the pain and love of Black Mothers like Ms. Evans would have handled my Mom the exact same way.
I will defend the pain, the respect, the love and devotion of Black Mothers the World over. Black mothers feel the same sting of death as any other mother. It is not okay for Beth Shelburne or anyone to take liberties to try to highlight one life over another based on the color of skin. BLACK LIVES MATTER and BLACK MOTHERS MATTER too.
In the midst of a protest that was attended my a majority of Black people, Beth Shelburne took the liberty and exercised her white privilege to elevated the life and loss of white Mother over a Black Mother. These Mothers literally occupied the EXACT same space, yet Beth Shelburne chose to separate them by race. This is unacceptable.
An apology is DEMANDED !!! ACLU must DEMAND that their employee apologize for this racist disregard for Ms. Evans and Mr. Evans. Black Lives Matter is not a slogan to everyone.
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT
p. s. For those who may want to try to defend these racist actions of Beth Shelburne, I ask you where were you when it was time to defend Ms. Gabrielle Evans and the life of her son?