A TRUE WARRIOR GOES TO BOARD
A brief note of updates and corrections:
"A True Warrior Goes to Board" was written by Kiilu Nyasha two years ago
prior to Yogi going before the Board of Prison Terms in 2004. Denied
two years the last time, Yogi is scheduled for another Board hearing sometime soon, between
August and October 2006.
En route to visit Yogi on May 19th with Nedzada Handukic and Gordon Kaupp,
Kiilu suffered a bad fall. Choosing not to go to hospital, she proceeded
to Pelican Bay and visited with Yogi the following Saturday and Sunday.
She will be reporting on that visit as soon as she recovers. Meanwhile,
she has provided the following updates and corrections to this dated article.
Yogi has now been in the windowless torture chamber known as the SHU in the
supermax Pelican Bay State Prison for 16 years, since 1990 when he was
transferred there from Corcoran. He has been held in solitary confinement
for at least 34 years now.
Yogi has not had a single write up (115) since a minor rule infraction in 1982.
That's 24 years of clean time!
espite decades of torture Yogi has remaines strong and continues to grow and
develop into "the new man," a loving and caring man with a determination to
become more loving the more they try to destroy him. Let's be inspired by him
and his strength of spirit and do what we must do to bring him home. It can be
done. Let's do it.
Please disregard the comments at the bottom of this article about writing
directly to the Board of Prison Terms and instead go to
"Sample Letter to Board of Prison Terms" for updated information
on writing letters to the Board of Prison Terms calling for Yogi's release.
27 April 2004
by Kiilu Nyasha
I confess I’ve been watching the NBA playoffs, having always loved basketball. (I used to take gleeful pride in out shooting grown men when I was a teenager playing ball on the court of Liberty Park in Jamaica, N.Y). Recently, when Carl Malone left his torn shirt on during a Laker win, he told a reporter the reason he left it on was because, “I’m a warrior!”
I couldn’t help thinking that not only Malone, but most Americans don’t know what a true warrior is. So I thought I would make it very clear to folks that we do have warriors, true warriors, soldiers who fought hard for our dignity, self-determination, and freedom -- who put their lives on the front lines of struggle against racist repression inside and outside of the concentration camps and torture chambers of the State. However, most of our warriors are still locked up in prisons across the nation.
One such warrior is Hugo L.A. Pinell (A88401), now 60 years old and still suffering the isolation of solitary confinement in the most notorious Control Units in the country, the Pelican Bay SHU (Security Housing Unit).
Hugo Pinell, aka Yogi Bear, was one of George Lester Jackson’s closest comrades in the Black Movement organized behind the walls of California prisons during the Sixties in response to the endemic racism of the prison staff in collusion with the Arian Brotherhood and other Nazi prison gangs, along with the Mexican Mafia. These brothers included the revolutionary warrior, W.L. Nolen, shot dead on the yard of Soledad State Prison in January, 1970, along with two other soldiers left to bleed to death from wounds inflicted by a tower guard who targeted the three in what appeared to be a setup altercation between Blacks and Whites on a basketball court. Hugo was in Soledad at the time and suffered a tremendous personal loss with the death of his best friend and mentor, W.L., known as the Marvin Haggler of the prison system and, along with Jackson, was one of the leaders of the Black Movement. These brothers had transformed themselves and others from gangsters and criminals to revolutionaries and freedom fighters.
Khatari Goulden and "Yogi Bear" at
San Quentin (late 1960's)
In short, Black prisoners, especially the standup brothers, were systematically brutalized, locked down, tortured and murdered with official immunity to prosecution. “Justifiable homicide” was what they used to call it.
George Jackson became known as one of the three Soledad Brothers after being charged with the retaliatory killing of a White guard in the wake of the unpunished murder of Nolen, “Sweet Jugs” Miller, and Cleveland Edwards. He also became the Field Marshall of the Black Panther Party behind the walls, further expanding the Black Movement. Jackson wrote two books: the first a best seller, Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson and Blood in My Eye, published in 1972. All three were eventually acquitted, Jackson posthumously.
On August 21, 1971, after numerous failed attempts on his life, the State finally succeeded in assassinating Jackson, in what was described by prison officials as an escape attempt in which Jackson allegedly smuggled a gun into San Quentin in a wig. That feat was proven impossible, and evidence subsequently uncovered indicated another setup orchestrated by prison officials to eliminate Jackson once and for all. Of course, I doubt they counted on losing any of their own in the process.
On that fateful day, three prison guards and two inmate trustees were also killed. Subsequently, six prisoners were singled out and put on trial. Reminiscent of the slave auctions, they were each forced to bear 30 lb.. of chains in a Marin courtroom after being charged with numerous counts of murder and assault: Fleeta Drumgo, David Johnson, Hugo L.A. Pinell, Luis Talamantez, Johnny Spain, and Willie Sundiata Tate became known as the San Quentin Six the longest trial in California history. Only one was convicted of murder, Johnny Spain, released in 1988. The others were either acquitted or convicted of assault. Hugo is the only one remaining in prison and has suffered prolonged torture in lockups since 1969 -- 35 years without a phone call or contact visit. He is currently serving his 14th year in Pelican Bay’s SHU#, a torture chamber if ever there was one. A true warrior, Hugo never hesitated to put his life on the line to defend his fellow captives.
A strict vegetarian and disciplined physical fitness expert, Hugo is in tip top condition, both spiritually and physically, an amazing feat given the mind-blowing conditions under which he has survived all these years.
On May 24th , Hugo is scheduled to appear before the Board of Prison Terms. Denied two years at his last Board appearance, he has now been incarcerated for 40 years! -- in spite of the fact that he has had no disciplinary write-ups or rule infractions in 25 years now. With over two decades of clean time, what do they want from him? Clearly, this is a vengeful punishment at this point in time, one that costs taxpayers about $60,000 per year during a California budget crisis that is forcing schools to be closed, not to mention all the other cuts in critical services to Californians. Multiply that by the number of years Hugo has been in lockups and the sum becomes astronomical. You do the math!
Thanks to the devoted efforts of the California Prison Focus (CPF) staff, among others dedicated to the release of our brother warrior, we are hopeful that with your help Hugo will finally be reunited with his family who live right here in San Francisco and have also been suffering these long years of separation, especially Hugo’s mom whom he adores. Her frail health makes it very difficult for her to travel 800 miles to visit her son.
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