"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." - Thomas Jefferson
"Give me liberty or give me death." - Thomas Pain
The above two quotes are admired citations that most Amerikans with any educational degree deem to be master slogans this country's freedoms are based on. But these same quotes or those similar, if stated by Black men or Black women, are deemed contraband and gang related.
On August 2, 2012 the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision aimed at silencing and caging the spirit of the Panther. The court ruled that the ten point platform that the Black Panther Party (BPP) cited in every newspaper and later put forward as the core demands of the New Africans in the Amerikan ghettos, is gang-related when found in the possession of Black men. This decision was rendered from a case in one of the most racist and oppressive prison systems in Amerika: Wisconsin DOC.
The 7th Circuit Court's ruling in Tani Toston vs. Muchael Thurmer et al, no# 10 cv 288 stated that Waupun prison officials in Wisconsin could punish a Black man who allegedly has a tribal background (they used the pejorative, "gang") and who checked out two BPP books from the prison's own library, and purchased a 3rd book (To Die for the People) and copied from all three the Panthers ten point platform.
The oppressors argued that these ten points were being used to construct a gang structure simply because of the DOC's slant that he had a tribal background of defunct Gangster Disciples. They offered no evidence but their ethnocentric opinions. They punished the prisoner and gave 90 days segregation for learning Panther knowledge.
The plaintiff, who I call the Panther seeker, argued to the 7th Circuit Court that the ten point platform could not be a gang related security concern because the two books in the library recited the same program, and prisoners are permitted to get the books and to buy them. They were not on the state's book ban list.
In opposing the Panther seeker and rationalizing their reactionary measure, the prison defenders in the 7th Circuit stated: "...prison librarians can not be required to read every word of every book to which inmates might have access to make sure they contain no incendiary material. There is no reason to think that a librarian or other employee of the prison read cover to cover any of the three books that contain the ten point program."
Yet, they expect prisoners to know they could not write down the same, though they did reverse and remand the due process claim that the prison never told him he could not do so.
They further stated: "And even if the prison read the books and made a determination the book was not gang lit. on whole, that does not preclude disciplinary proceedings if an inmate copies incendiary passings from it."
It seems the court took issue with point #8 of the program, which calls for "freedom for all Black men held (implicit also women) in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails." The court states the seeker is Black and that the BPP were implicated in many acts of violence including murder, and Huey himself may have killed a cop. Their source is Hugh Pearsons The Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America.(p. 145-46 1995). They also cited the case People vs. Newton, 87 Cal. Rptr, 394 (CA), app. ct. 1970) and the case in which Black Panther leader Richard Moore was convicted of assault in a shootout between Black Panthers and Oakland police (Clener vs. Superior Court, 594 p.2d 984, 985-86 (Cal. 1979), In Re Cleaver, 72 Cal. Rptr. 20, 23-24 (Cal. App. Ct. 1968)).
They even went so far as to cite a coloring book as their source research in coming to this ethnocentric ruling. "Black Panther coloring books" depicting children murdering police, which were developed and distributed under their own FBI's COINTELPRO.
Then they had the disrespect to cite our beloved brother Fred Hampton's estate lawsuit which was filed after the Chicago pigs' assassination of the beloved. Hampton vs. Hanrahan 600 F. 2d 600, 654 (7th Cir. 1979) (dissenting opinion).
They wish to project they are fair. But how fair are they when they cite all these biased cases and omit the fact that the police, FBI, and others were actively seeking to destroy the BPP and even pacifists like MLK, and these incidents were self-defense. The BPP was a self-defense response to a racist system. How can you fault a people who stand up for their human and constitutional rights and label them criminals for defending the same principles this country was established on? The answer is clear: what white leaders say, Black ones cannot say.
The court defended their ruling by saying: "The BPP is history. But the ten point program could be thought by prison officials as an incitement to violence by Black prisoners - especially since there is a new BPP active today, which claims descent from the original. And like its predecessor both advocates and practice violence."(Citing: Southern Poverty Law Center, New BPP).
They go on to cite disputing evidence to their conclusion by stating: "In context, in the book of Huey's writings, point #8 is much less inflammatory than when read in isolation on the paper the plaintiff wrote down and had in his foot locker." They claim, in all three books, there are explanatory commentary around each of the ten points and that explanation is "innocuous" on point #8. "We believe that all black people should be released from the many jails and prisons because they have not received a fair and impartial trial." (To Die for the People. Bk. At. p5)
They seek to soften the blow of their ethnocentric cudgel: "...although Newton's book advocates revolution, it could no more be regarded as a criminal incitement than the Communist Manifesto could be. But this underscores the difference between a book as a whole and an arguably inflammatory nugget plucked from it." So what say they if we cite Thomas Pains "give me liberty or give me death"? Same as Huey's statement in point #8.
The court went on to justify their favoritism to a ethnocentric/racist prison by stating: "Not being experts in prison administration, but aware of the security problems in American prisons, judges sensibly defer within broad limits to the judgements of the prison administration."
How can the court make a fair ruling if they don't acquire some expertise in prison administration? That is the court's job as arbitrators of the case. We as prisoners need to present evidence on the expert level of how prison administrators exaggerate the facts and cite spookisms in their affidavits and summary judgement motions. As prisoners we are and should be experts in prison administration operation and the lies they tell. So why are we not illustrating the same in our litigation.
On the question of the "security problems in american prisons," again, these perceptions are all based upon what the prison officials report and claim; hardly a fair assessment as to what is really going on. This is possible because we are not disputing and putting the truth out there. We are not uniting and pooling our resources to fight the lies the prison system puts out.
The Beard vs. Banks case illustrates this fact. The lawyers/prisoners did not submit anything disputing the alleged facts in the defendant/prison official's summary judgement motion. As such, the court accepted all their exaggerations as true. Though they probably would have accepted the prison exaggerations anyway, we cannot make it so easy or allow them to justify it without exposing their favoritism and bias. The fact is that this case had lawyers, so the court could have given the disputes more weight than pro se disputed facts. This is the litigation war we are engaged in. No capitulations allowed.
The Van den Bosch case shows how censorship is allowed when we write articles like this one here. There, an article on how Wisconsin is #1 in creating conditions in segregation for petty stuff and these conditions leading to what I call intentional conditions for "suggestive ideation" (suicide). The court accepted the Wisconsin prison administrator's exaggerated security claim that criticizing these conditions could be viewed as incitement because people were killing themselves and the article stated officials were to blame. We cannot even complain or express our opinions.
We see how the court forgets that the BPP was attacked by the pigs and FBI, and they also forget all the cases in which the prison administrations have been proven busted and exposed for presenting lies. However, I stress again, it is our job to present such overwhelming facts/evidence to not allow the courts to easily accept the judgements and defer to the prisons, because we know they are straight up liars. This is war in facts.
This fact is shown by what the court wrote: "The nexus between plaintiffs copying the ten point program from "To Die for the People" and gang activity may seem tenuous, but the defendants argue that the likeliest reason the plaintiff copied the ten point program was to show it to inmates whom he hoped to enlist in a prison gang, a local cell as it were of the Black Panthers, the ten point program would be the gang's charter". They go on to say "this is merely a supposition, but it is not so implausible that we can dismiss as groundless the prisons concern."
They support that racist logic on the affidavit submitted by the prison's so-called gang coordinator, a racist named Bruce Muranski, who has been discredited in at least one case as possibly manufacturing so-called informant statements. "In the U.S. the main organizations that monitor intolerance and hate groups are the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) have deemed the new BPP as a hate group... there would be no other purpose...in the ten point program other than recruiting group members and establishing, reinforcing and maintaining an organizational structure for furthering gangs..."
In another part of the affidavit Muranski claims: "isolating the ten point from these library books allows it to be taken out of context, easily circulated and simultaneously possessed by gang members and changed or adopted for the specific needs and activities of the group... (another prisoner, other than plaintiff) was alleged to have unsanctioned security threat group items in his cell...(including) a hand written paper titled 'notes on African American leaders'. This sheet of paper contained the ten point which was identical in content to the ten point found in plaintiff cell..."
There we have it. All Black leaders who were willing to say in their own words or actions "give me liberty or give me death" are deemed contraband. Yet, I can have all the quotes I wish of white revolutionaries and Amerikan founding fathers. White "inciteful" language against the British crown is protected expression while George Jackson, or a Hoover or Malik, or Huey Newton is contraband.
The fact is that damn near every BPP or associated case, in law books or on the computer, has the same ten point program in it. So all we would need to do is buy a Panther case and circulate it if we wanted to share the ten point program. We see this decision is about intimidation and instilling inferiority. For even the cases the court cited have the ten points in them. Surely they knew that.
Still more, the case in which they made this racist ruling itself can now be used to promote and propagate the ten point program. So it's clear: the prison has no lawful reason to exclude the ten points even if they subsequently ban the books, which I'm sure they might try. The ruling is a joke and more about suppression and control.
MIM(Prisons) adds: While it is a set back for revolutionaries when important historical literature is banned or access limited to sharing this literature, it is something of a public admission of the strength and value of the Black Panther Party political line that this court felt the need to decree it as gang material. Prisoners who are labeled as part of a "Security Threat Group" are often actually organizing for the betterment of oppressed people, and promoting the peace and security of prisoners. This exposes the lie of the prison's claim that they want security. The only security prisons promote is job security for the guards and other prison workers. Prisoners' lives are far from safe and secure, due to conditions created by the guards and the criminal injustice system in general.