Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Liberate the Captives

Greetings All:

Please send Ruchell some love and birthday greetings (money orders will work too) as he marks another BIG O in California gulags. He's been transfered to a new location at Corcoran. His address follows. I'm also attaching Yogi's address which I forgot to add for his belated birthday cardsi. His was March 10.

I'm also attaching (below) a piece I wrote 4 years ago for the SF Bay View newspaper. (It didn't translate too well and the dates/addresses are old of course).

As some of you already know, these brothers have been denied parole repeatedly, and Yogi just got a 15-year hit, effectively a new sentence. We need to start a letter-writing campaign to the Warden at Pelican Bay to request Yogi be moved to at least a medium security prison closer to S.F. where his family, including his Mom lives.

Ruchell Cinque Magee
P.O. Box 5248
Corcoran, CA 93212

Hugo L.A. Pinell
A88401 D3-221
Box 7500
Crescent City, Ca. 95531-7500
Over 40 birthdays in prison!

by Kiilu Nyasha (2005)

Hugo L. Pinell, affectionately known as Yogi Bear, will be 60 years old on March 10.

Ruchell Cinque Magee celebrates his 66th on March 17.

Yogi entered the prison system in 1964 when he was about 19 years old. Against good advice from a sistah-mama, he turned himself in for having assaulted a young woman while drunk, feeling great remorse. He’s been there ever since.

Ruchell had only been released from “The Farm,†the notorious slave plantation turned prison in Louisiana known as Angola, about six months. He had been captured for relating to a white girl as a teenager in the 1950s in KKK territory – definitely a no-no. He was incarcerated in an adult prison for eight years and then banished from the state, allowing the latter to confiscate property owned by his mother, who passed while he was jailed.

In 1963, he was hanging out with his cousin and friends and got into an argument over a $10 bag of marijuana. His antagonist called the police, who found Magee in the parked car, beat him badly enough to require his hospitalization for three days and jailed him.

At this point, the details hardly matter. Neither of these cases would have garnered the average joe more than a year or two. But these two brothers have refused all these years to sacrifice their dignity, and both have always had the temerity to stand up in self-defense and the defense of their fellow prisoners. Ruchell as a jailhouse lawyer; Yogi as a martial artist – i.e., freedom fighters.

Trophies for Black August

On Aug. 7, 1970, after seven years, two trials and countless petitions filed against his illegal incarceration, Magee joined the other guerrillas in the Marin Courthouse, when Jonathan Jackson stormed the court armed to the teeth and liberated William Christmas, James McClain (on trial for assaulting a guard), and Magee (testifying for McClain). They took the judge, prosecutor and three jurors hostage, thinking they would be insurance, and planned to drive to a radio station to denounce the murderous, racist prison conditions and demand the release of the Soledad Brothers – John Clutchette, Fleeta Drumgo, and George Jackson.

They never got out of the parking lot. The San Quentin guards got there in time to shoot up the van, killing all three guerillas and the judge, seriously wounding the prosecutor and Magee, and slightly injuring one of the jurors.

Angela Davis was hunted down and captured for having legally purchased the guns. Jonathan Jackson had been her bodyguard in her defense activities for the Soledad Brothers in a dangerous climate.

Ruchell was charged with everything they could think of, although they had to drop the murder charge, since he lay unconscious at the scene of the incident.

Magee remains in prison to date. His own jailhouse lawyering got him released from the Pelican Bay SHU back in the early 1990s and he is currently on the Corcoran Prison mainline. As brother Willie Sundiata Tate has often stated, *Ruchell never hurt anyone.*

Aug. 21, 1971, was the day Soledad Brother George Lester Jackson was murdered on the yard of San Quentin State Prison, in addition to three prison guards and two inmate trustees. Six prisoners were singled out and charged with various counts of murder and assault: Fleeta Drumgo,Willie Sundiata Tate, David Johnson, Luis Talamantez, Johnny Spain and Hugo Pinell.

Johnny Spain was the only one convicted of murder, and he has been out of prison since 1988. Yogi was convicted of assault and has spent the last 30-plus years in solitary confinement -- no contact, no phone calls. He has been in Pelican Bay's torture chamber since 1990.

For more details on these Black August events, you can go to, or google Black August + Kiilu Nyasha.

For those of you who are not aware of the level of torture the Pelican Bay SHU metes out, here are a few details. Pelican Bay is located in the Northwest corner of California on the Oregon border in pristine, redwood territory.

The prison is solid gray concrete and the SHU (Security Housing Unit) is completely windowless with only doors for entrance. It looks like a large tomb. It's hi-tech with automatic doors and gates, only artificial light, and even the so-called yard is nothing more than a “dog run†or outdoor closet with 20' high walls covered on top by plexiglas.

SHU prisoners are locked down 24/7 except for a possible hour on the dog run where they can exercise alone with no equipment whatsoever, not even a ball. They are not permitted any arts or crafts and only a very limited number of books and property.

They are chained hand and foot whenever they leave their cells, escorted by two prison guards. Visits are limited to weekends and holidays and no more than two hours. As mentioned earlier, their visits are conducted in a phone booth and they cannot make calls to the outside. In short, Yogi's mother, who has been visiting him for all these years, has not been able to hug her son in at least 30.

The State claims it has no political prisoners, yet these two brothers have done the equivalent of double-life sentences. It doesn't seem to matter how much clean time they have; whenever they go to board, the answer is always the same: come back in two to five years.

What kind of society have we become?

Collectively speaking, we seem to have lost our humanity altogether. How else would we tolerate the caging of human beings under tortuous conditions for scores of years?

When will we speak out vociferously for an end to this horrible system of torture and enslavement?

Please take a minute to at least send these brothers a birthday greeting and give them a lift. They can be reached as follows: Hugo L. Pinell, A88401, D3-221, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City, CA 95531-7500. Ruchell Cinque Magee, A92051, 3C-127, P.O. Box 3471, Corcoran, CA 93212.

I've been in communication with these righteous soldiers (more or less) since 1971 consistently for the past 15-plus years. I love them both and know in my heart that they would be an asset to our community were they to be released. Enough is enough and too much is too damned much. Write letters, sign petitions, do whatever you can to demand their immediate release. Don't let them spend another birthday behind prison walls.

No comments: