Interesting news at University of California

Protest can stop witch hunts of liberal/left faculty:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/18/education/18professor.html

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Kenneth Foster: Phoenix Rising

**********************************************************
resurrection

I’m the phoenix rising
from the ashes of death row
I stand as the
love that just would not fold
we grew grassroots
under the steel machine
their hate couldn’t stop our growth
I’m the hope
reinstilled inside the hopeless capsules
formerly known as men
at the end
I found a way to begin
the catacomb couldn’t hold me
I came out more holy
death kissed my lips and said-
“rise up hungry!”
now my appetite is ferocious
for life
not a crumb shall be wasted
as I serve this 3 course meal of
struggle, spiritualism and liberation
and I won’t stop
until our nation
is full
I’m lost in the tears
of those that got pulled
into this killer whale
can you feel my smiles across the miles
as my lips hold up the pain trickling down my face
my brother said-
“forgive them for they know not what they do.”
I left at 402
but not before I stood
eye to eye w/ the beast
a one way exit
under the release of
governmental poison
but the voices of the people
would not cease
I was at peace
but at war
I’m haunted by the thought
that there will be so many more
i implore the Ancestors as guides
i’m tore by the facts of
genocide on our backs
somebody replay the track to
“walk with me”
the execution chamber was calling me
i responded w/
“HELL NO I WON’T GO!”
they dragged me tho’
the CEDP hit ’em w/ political bombs
to silence their throats
crying for blood
never once did we light a candle
but kept the fire lit from above
if we did it once
we can do it again
let’s be a radical wind
friend to storms that tear down the Walls
i can still hear the calls
of comrades drowned
in this rain of terror
i caress my scars
& reflect on the 10 years
when i was too stubborn to bow to stigmas
i wouldn’t listen to the system
i survived on Nydesha’s kisses
when oppression was served on the tray
it’s a new day
“No Struggle, No Progress”
the vanguard way
from Austin to Ithica
they heard what we had to say
Rome to Venezuela
i’m not home ’til we persuade ’em
w/ the Power of the People
that I must be free
as long as I have breath in my lungs
freedom is within my grasp
until then I will be
on a Move &
on a DRIVE
alive, licking & mobilizing
we won’t stop ’til we change the tide
one for our love that just would not subside
I’m the phoenix that had to rise
resurrected from the ashes of death row
as I declared in “the prophecy”
victory is mine
victory
is
mine
!.

(In memory of DaRoyce Mosely and John Amador)

Cindy Sheehan: Pigs of War Come in 2 Colors

Read this while watching: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtqy4DTHGqg

– – – – – –

Published on Monday, September 10, 2007 by CommonDreams.org
Pigs of War

by Cindy Sheehan

“I believe it is imperative that we never lose our voice of dissent, regardless of political pressure. As Martin Luther King, Jr said: ‘there comes a time when silence is betrayal’…However, it is unforgivable that Congress has been unwilling to examine these matters or take action to prevent these circumstances [executive branch crimes] from occurring again.”

-Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) Introduction to Constitution in Crisis, 2006

Pigs of War come in both political colors of red and blue. We are all unfortunately very familiar with the red pigs. The pigs of war who manipulated, cherry-picked, stove-piped and manufactured intelligence to suggest to the world that Saddam had mushroom cloud producing WMD and something to do with the tragic events of 9-11 that occurred six years ago now.

Many blue politicians are pigs of war and they willingly went along with the deceptions and even parroted red pig talking points whenever they got a chance but now claim that the “fiendishly clever” George fooled them into believing the nearly unbelievable. I don’t know about you, but I take small comfort in that excuse. When we have a system of government where our supposed public servants can profit off of war along with the corporations that pad their bank accounts both blue and red pigs benefit and young people needlessly lose their lives sometimes killing other humans in the process.

Our troops and the people of Iraq are the ones getting trapped between our pusillanimous politicians. These dear human beings become ciphers in purely political calculations from Congress and only an exercise in abstraction from pundits, poets, publishers and the majority of the average American who has not been personally touched by this excremental occupation. In Iraq, every citizen has been personally touched and the American occupation is a living, fire-breathing, palpable entity that has intruded its imperialistic self into every aspect of their daily lives.

How do I know that Congress is playing politics with human hearts? All one has to do is observe the lack of action on the part of the red and blue pigs to come to this sad but inevitable conclusion. Apparently, MAJORITY Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) has spent more time over his summer recess trying to convince red pigs to go against George’s war plan than he spent trying to coalesce his blue caucus into something that would not resemble the red pigs so closely that the blur becomes purple. He and Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) have already decided that they do not have enough votes to end the occupation just as they decided that impeachment was “off the table” even before they were elected! So they will happily hand over to George more of your tax money and China’s money to continue the killing fields in Iraq. Why are they so miserly with democracy, but generous with our treasury and with our dear human treasure?I got two very overt answers to this question one day in Congress this past spring when I was on the Hill. In one of my meetings with Congressman Conyers, he told me that it was more important to put a Democrat back in the White House in ’08 than it was to “end the war.” After I recovered from my shock, I knew it was confirmed that partisan politics is exactly what is killing our children and the innocent civilians in Iraq. My next stop was in a Congresswoman’s office who has always been 100% correct about the war. She is a lovely woman with a lovely heart and does not in anyway qualify (and there are a few dozen others who do not) as a blue pig. She had tears in her eyes when she told me: “Cindy, when I go to Speaker’s meetings and we talk about the war, all the talk is about politics and not one of them mentions the heartbreak that will occur if we don’t pull our troops out, now.” People are dying for two diverse but equally deadly political agendas. The red pigs want to keep the war going because they feed out of the trough of carnage and the blue pigs want to keep it going for votes! Either way is reprehensible.

There is a lot of chatter about the “Petraeus” (written and produced by the White House ) report. Will the general recommend drawing down troops-even if he does, three-five thousand doesn’t even bring the number down to pre-surge levels-and the report says, in direct contradiction to the GAO report on the surge, that sectarian violence in Iraq is down 75%, without saying that the red pigs have re-defined the term “sectarian violence.” All I know is that the report will paint a rosier picture than what really exists on the ground in Iraq and like Ron Paul said the other day in the Fox News “Leader of the Red Pigs Wannabe” debate: “How can anyone believe anything they say?”

The blue pigs won’t believe the report, but they will expediently go along with the red pig request to further fund the disaster because they believe that it will mean political victory in ’08.

It is up to we the people to care more about humanity and democracy than either the reds or the blues and it is mandatory that we mount campaigns to defeat the pigs and their masters: the war machine.

Twenty-one families here in America and dozens more in Iraq have felt the sting of the lethal politics of war just since the beginning of September, and the beat goes on.

What if instead of pigs of war in our government, we had elected officials who put humanity before politics and people before profits? Maybe the horrible twin tragedies of the Bush Regime and 9-11 would have never occurred within our borders and the rest of the world could look up to the USA with respect as a true leader in world peace instead of glaring at our shocking and awful quest for empire off the backs of the many who benefit the pocketbooks of the few? It’s not to late, but we are getting there.

Silence is betrayal and the silence of a host of blue pigs is the biggest betrayal of all.

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/09/10/3733

Stop the Persecution of the Jena 6

A movement to stop the railroading of 6 youths in Jena Louisiana in the wake of virulent racist attacks is getting national attention.

beating case stirs racial anger
By Marisol Bello, USA TODAY

A grass-roots movement is spreading across black
America in support of six black high school students
charged with attempted murder for beating a white
classmate in the small Louisiana town of Jena.
On black radio, black college campuses and websites
from YouTube to Facebook, the young men known as the
Jena 6 are being held up as symbols of unequal and
unfair treatment of blacks in a case that evokes the
Deep South’s Jim Crow era, complete with nooses
hanging from a tree.

“People are fed up,” says Esther Iverem, 47, a
Washington, D.C., writer who runs a website called
Seeingblack.com, which has featured articles about the
Jena 6. “It’s another case of young black men
railroaded unjustly. We do not want to see this happen
to young boys who got involved in a school fight.”

Tenisha Wilkerson, 20, of Chicago, posted a page on
Facebook supporting the Jena 6. It has attracted
35,000 members.

“Why is this kind of thing still going on?” she asks.

Symbolism evokes outrage

The events in Jena have caught the attention of
national civil rights activists. Al Sharpton, Jesse
Jackson and Martin Luther King III have marched on
Jena in protest.

“The case plays to the fears of many blacks,” Sharpton
says. “You hear the stories from your parents and
grandparents, but you never thought it would happen in
2007. I think what resonates in the black community is
that this is so mindful of pre-1960 America.”

For a year, Jena (pronounced JEEN-uh), a poor mining
community of 3,000 people, has been embroiled in
racial tensions pitting the black community against
white school officials and a white prosecutor. It
began last August when a black student asked at an
assembly if black students could sit under a tree
where white students usually sat. The next day, two
nooses hung from the tree.

Black parents were outraged by the symbolism,
recalling the mob lynchings of black men. They
complained to school officials. District
superintendent Roy Breithaupt and the school board
gave three-day suspensions to the white students who
hung the nooses, overruling the recommendation of
then-principal Scott Windham that the students be
expelled.

Breithaupt and current principal Glen Joiner did not
return calls for comment.

In November, an unknown arsonist burned down part of
the high school.

Over the next three days, fights erupted between black
and white students on and off school grounds. Police
arrested a white man for punching a black teen. He
pleaded guilty to simple battery.

The skirmishes culminated with a fight in which the
six black teens, star players on Jena’s champion
football team, were charged as adults with attempted
murder. The white student they’re accused of beating,
Justin Barker, 17, was knocked unconscious and
suffered cuts and bruises. He was treated at an
emergency room but not hospitalized.

Mychal Bell, 17, was convicted in May of a reduced
charge, aggravated second-degree battery, which
carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Since then, charges against two youths have been
reduced.

Reed Walters, the LaSalle Parish prosecutor who
brought the charges, did not return calls for comment.

The anger fueled by the case shows no sign of letting
up. More than 1,500 people, including California
Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, rallied at Howard
University in Washington on Wednesday. Rallies are
planned in Chicago and Boston.

Civil rights groups, including the NAACP and Friends
of Justice, plan to rally at the Jena courthouse on
Sept. 20, the scheduled date of Bell’s sentencing.
Their websites anticipate busloads of marchers from
across the country.

The black students’ supporters say the white teens in
Jena were not punished as severely as the blacks.

“The question here has always been about fairness and
equal justice,” says Tony Brown, a Louisiana radio
host. “The bottom line is that there is a two-tiered
judicial system. If you’re black, they want to lock
you up and throw away the keys. If you’re white, you
get a slap on the wrist and get to go home with your
parents.”

He points to a case in nearby Bunkie, La., in which
three white teens were charged this spring with the
minor crime of battery for beating a white teen, who
spent three days in the hospital for brain swelling
and bleeding.

The case of the Jena 6 has launched “a modern-day
civil rights movement,” Brown says.

Tired of the attention

Blacks are overrepresented in the criminal justice
system. A 2007 study by the National Council on Crime
and Delinquency found that blacks are 17% of the
nation’s juvenile population, but 28% of juveniles
arrested are black.

“I don’t think you grow up black and think this kind
of thing doesn’t happen,” says Maliza Kalenza, 19, a
Howard University sophomore from Minneapolis.

Donald Washington, the U.S. attorney for Louisiana’s
Western District, says his office investigated the
events in Jena but did not find evidence to support a
criminal case in the noose hangings. He says black
students had sat under the tree where the nooses were
hung, too, and he found no evidence that the noose
incident led to the fights three months later.

The tree was cut down this summer.

Washington’s office is reviewing the history of Jena
school district punishments of black and white
students but so far has found nothing inappropriate.

Some people in Jena don’t appreciate the attention.

School board member Billy Fowler says the year’s
events have been blown out of proportion. On the other
hand, he says, in the unlikely event that another
student hung a noose, the incident would be taken more
seriously. He also notes that some of the original
charges against the six teens, which he says were
excessive, were reduced.

“I feel like my town has been raked over
unmercifully,” Fowler says. “I’m tired of hearing how
racist my town is and it’s just not so. … And the
outsiders are not helping any with this.”

See also: http://www.socialistworker.org/2007-2/637/637_16_Jena.shtml

There is a foul stench at DePaul

Day of Shame for DePaul Administration; Resistance
Emerges
On the resignation of Norman Finkelstein

(The following statement was passed out at DePaul by
activists and supporters of the National Project to
Defend Critical Thinking and Dissent in Academia.)

The first day of classes this year was a sad one for
DePaul University. After a year and more of
extraordinary pressure, as well as a concerted smear
campaign (which got extremely dirty with the recent
release of “internal memos”) – the Administration got
what they wanted: Norman Finkelstein will no longer be
a part of the life of DePaul. They have forced the
resignation of a remarkable thinker and teacher who
was well-respected by scholars and students alike,
they have violated the basic norms and practices of
the tenure process, and they have re-enforced a
terrible precedent setting in across the country.

On the same day, there was a very significant
outpouring of support and protest from students and
faculty at DePaul and elsewhere. An atmosphere of
debate and discussion erupted, where very quickly much
of the campus was discussing urgent matters of
academic freedom, and the future of critical thinking
and dissent on campus. People, including many
freshmen, boldly stepped forward and held a protest
and march which reverberated across the school.

It is unfortunate that things ended up with the
settlement and resignation of Professor Finkelstein.
This is not what many who stepped forward hoped for.

Finkelstein has said that he’s moving on. But we
cannot accept what the University has done, and we
cannot move on with business-as-usual. There is a foul
stench on campus. The DePaul Administration must be
held responsible for this deplorable and
unconscionable sequence of events. We cannot let stand
the completely unjust grounds upon which, nor the
process through which this was done; we must demand a
repudiation and apology from the Administration. This
goes against everything that the intellectual life of
a university is supposed to stand for.

This battle has both been very much about Norman
Finkelstein, but it’s also been about something much
bigger- the overall assault on critical thinking and
dissent on campuses. With the recent firing of
tenured-professor Ward Churchill at the University of
Colorado, the attacks on Middle East and Ethnic
Studies, and with the actions of David Horowitz, who
was brought to DePaul just this spring and who has
just announced plans for “Islamo-Fascism Awareness
Week” on campuses across the country in October- these
attacks are growing by leaps and bounds. And if the
whole process and grounds on which Norman Finkelstein
was forced to resign are not repudiated and apologized
for- then this opens the door for other attacks on
professors, and it further sets a chill onto campuses
everywhere. Now is the time for the resistance to both
spread much more broadly, and come forward even more
boldly. There’s not a minute to lose.

–Penny Brown and Samantha Hamlin, Supporters of the
National Project to Defend Critical Thinking and
Dissent in Academia, http://www.defendcriticalthinking.org

Kenneth Foster: “A Huge Battle Has Been Won”

Hello All

Check out this video message from Kenneth’s attorney, Keith Hampton, filmed at the victory rally outside Perry’s mansion on August 30:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=u-hD1BTDpRE <http://youtube.com/watch?v=u-hD1BTDpRE&gt;

Below is message from Kenneth detailing what he went through on August 30. Amazing.

“Resurrection: August 30th, 2007

Like thieves in the night they swooped me up. It was the eve of my own State sanctioned murder, approximately 8:20 PM and I was listening to shout-outs pour in to me on 96.1 KDOL. Unexpectedly, there was a knock at my cell door. There stood a death row Lieutenant and 2 Wardens (Simmons and Hirch.) “Strip out!” was the Lieutenant’s order. “For what reason?” I responded. “Because we told you to” was all that I got back. Having no idea what the situation could be I complied with the order. Though I was being provoked I didn’t want to act before knowing what the situation was. I stripped out and exited the cell. I could feel in my bones that something wasn’t right. And as we exited the pod my feelings were true – there waiting for me was a 5 man extraction team and all of the shift supervisors (several Sergeants) and to top it off several plain clothed people (at first I thought these were Sheriffs, but later found out that it was the TDC Regional Director Mr. Treon and the Warden from the Walls Unit.) As soon as I set my eyes on this circus like spectacle I immediately dropped to the ground and announced that I wasn’t going anywhere until somebody told me where I was going and why. In his typical tyrannical rage Warden Hirch said “I told you we’d tell you when you got up the hallway.” I told him that if he wanted me to cooperate with him that he needed to give me some understanding to what was going on and that’s when he told me that I was being taken to the Walls Unit right then. I needed a minute to think, so I stood up. By this time I had ankle chains on, so I began shuffling down the hallway. I was placed in an isolated cage and was again told to strip down. I saw this as nothing but a degrading process and I began to voice that. I looked at the Lieutenant and told him that all he was doing he just did 5 minutes ago and that all this was being done just to provoke me and degrade me. I put on the clothes they gave me and was cuffed again and as soon as I stepped out that cage I laid down in protest. I emphatically stated that I was not going to participate in what they were trying to do to me. I told them that I would not dignify this lynch show. I told them the only thing that I could and that is that they were terrorists and they were only terrorizing. It wasn’t bad enough that I was set to die the next day, but I was basically being terrorized in the middle of the night. I was chained all the way up and placed on a stretcher and i was carried to a dark tinted van where I was loaded in the back. I saw other death row prisoners watching me through their windows. I could only hope that word would get to my DRIVE comrades. There is no doubt that DRIVE planned to be in motion with civil disobedience against the wrongful murder that was sitting over my head and alongside of that vibe of resistance was a lot of rumors about something violent to take place. I did the best I could talking to the Staff assuring them that DRIVE does not condone violence in regards to this Struggle, but nevertheless extreme precautions were taken. And it wasn’t just the vibe of DRIVE that was felt, there was a whole other vibe that was being felt and that was the disapproval of the people. There was social discontent being exuded and the system felt it. And that led to this expedition.

I was loaded into the van and ran smack into a 4 car SWAT team escort to the Walls Unit. We had a caravan on our way there and there were a lot of officers armed to the teeth with handguns, shotguns, assault rifles in every car. There was enough arsenal to wage a small war. Though I was sickened by he whole process I can’t lie and say that I didn’t feel that every execution should have this type of security concern. There is no way that people should be able to be friendly while being escorted down the road and murdered. What this proved to me is that when the people rise up their strength will be acknowledged.

It was about a 45 minute drive to Huntsville . I silently watched the street signs as I went. We arrived at the Walls, a Unit that resembled more of a College than a prison. It seemed that I was taken into the heart of the Unit somewhere deep behind a maze of streets and buildings. I could only think in my mind that they was taking me to the death chamber, the place that had taken so many men that I knew. As the van backed up and they opened the door to take me out, I would not walk, so they gladly packed me into the death house. I was dropped on the floor, my wrists were in excruciating pain. I was being told to stand up, but I would not. I only grabbed my wrists which were now bruised and hurting. I looked around the room and I was surrounded by approximately 10 officers and while I wanted to continue to resist, I took great notice that no use of force camera was rolling. I felt the set up, thus I didn’t give them what they wanted. I allowed myself to be fingerprinted and then I was placed in the death watch cell.

After I gained my composure I surveyed the room. It was one of the most intensely cold and numb places I had ever seen. It was a narrow room with about 4 other cells. I was in the very first – just a few steps away from the death chamber. In front of my cell was a long table with drink containers and several Bibles. Straight up – it was like a funeral home. I couldn’t help but to again look towards the death chamber. It was a big steel door with a square window at the top. It was a one way mirror, so one could not see in. I just stared at it. I couldn’t help but to think about my good friend John Amador that was just executed hours before. I felt his presence with me. I thought of his last words which were so profound. I was in the Texas catacomb and yet while I was there I didn’t feel death calling me.

I began pacing my cell for a moment. The Unit Wardens spoke to me and were very respectful. They offered me food and drink, but I refused. For years I had been living off of polluted TDC faucet water, so polluted TDC faucet water would do me just fine then. Slowly but surely my property was gone through and give to me piece by piece. I then began to sort through my property and divide it up for my family (just in case.) Once I got things pretty situated I remembered that I had something to do for my wife. I had a letter to read that she had specifically wrote for me if I got to the point that I didn’t feel I’d get a stay. Though that feeling had never hit me 100% I felt that this time was as good as any. I reached into her folder and grabbed the letter that she had written: “You cannot read this unless you are not granted a stay. Open/read this no earlier than the morning of August 30th” on the front. While I wasn’t unsure of the stay it was approximately 2:30 in the morning of August 30th and I was across from the death chamber, so I felt now was the time to read that letter. What I opened to was one of the best love letters of my life. In no way did it feel like a goodbye letter and in fact was an “I will see you later” letter. My wife and I are resolute on the fact that we are soul mates and no matter in this life or the next we will continually swirl around each other. Her letter did nothing short of hold me up during this time. It was a beautiful speech made to the man whose heart only she understands. And I was at peace with it. Something in me told me that those would not be our last love letters.

I finished getting situated around 3:30 AM and fell into a hard sleep. But, I could not sleep long. I was up by 6:30 AM. I woke feeling nothing but love in my bones. It was such an amazing feeling, because even though I stood hours away from my scheduled execution I didn’t feel any fear. I just felt love surrounding my body and stood head up as I had been doing. I washed up, but was allowed a shower around 7:30. By the time I finished and got dressed I was ready to go see my family at visit. I was ready to face the day head on.

I started off my visits with my most beloved revolutionary sister and brother Walidah Imarisha and Ray Ramirez. I only had 4 hours to visit with everyone, so we knew that our exchange would be short and sweet. I was already in the mindset that I wouldn’t be doing any goodbyes, but right off the bat the latest media news was what was at hand. Reports of the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times plus  more – were the topics. Movement, movement and more movement was all we had to talk about. There was no time for goodbyes. We wrapped up our visit in about 40 minutes and we ended with fist in the air and revolutionary salutes. My next visit would be with my childhood cousin Beverly Fisher and close friend from France Emilie Artaud. I hadn’t seen my cousin in over 11 years, so that was such a warming thing. Again – no time for goodbyes – news of activism in France and mobilization for the day. Things were positive and as my friend Emilie was ready to leave we exchanged smiles. Up next was the man himself, my super star point guard of the team Adam Axel. Here is a young man that was able to move mountains and I have no doubts that if it wasn’t for him, I might not be where I am today. His efforts alongside of the CEDP proved to be life savers. Our visit was so very upbeat and nothing but victory was tapping at our minds. My father found his way in inbetween everyone else and I have never seen my father so alive and positive. His mind was already convinced that victory was ours and no one or nothing could convince him to otherwise. We all had good talks and as those visits winded down my wife and my grandparents came in. Everything was joyous. It had been years since I had seen my grandmother and though ailing with Alzheimer’s she was as beautiful as ever to me. In fact everything was beautiful. Not once did we feel a need for a goodbye, so after I spoke with my grandfather he departed the visiting room with my grandmother just leaving me and my wife. There we sat hand in hand, eye to eye talking about this future that we had together. We talked and talked. I told her about her letter that I read and we just gave a knowing smile to each other. We had decided to spend the last hour with each other and as the time got closer to 12noon I noticed my father walking up to our booth. Neither of us was expecting that, so we looked over to him as he approached and when he got near us he just threw his fist in the air and screamed – “^, 1!!!” He yelled to me that the Board had voted 6-1 in my favor. Next to my wife’s screams for joy all I could do was let off a grin from ear to ear. As my wife and father embraced I could only tell my father to give her a kiss for me. And while my father was saying that it was all up to the Governor at that point I knew that there was no more guessing to it.

When the Board didn’t deliver their decision on the 28th as planned I knew that something greater was in the works. I knew that they were feeling the pressure and would want to consult with the higher ups. As I told my supporters – if the decision comes back negative it’s over. That would be a sign that nothing else would go for me. But… if it comes back in my favor I knew that it had been decided that I would live. So, when that 6-1 came down I knew that victory was mine. My father left the visitation room leaving me and my wife to rejoice amongst each other. We gave each other kisses and I pointed something out to her. I told her that I was always looking for the signs from God. Once upon a time as a youth I didn’t know how to pay attention, though I was always getting signs. Now I’m very much more alert. And while I had been getting mixed signals from all the bad dreams my closest friends were having, one sign came right before I left the death chamber to go to visit. The night before when all my property was taken and searched they took all the shoe strings from my shoes. I had not known this, because they kept my shoes and said that they would give them to me when I went to visit. So, that morning before visit I told them that I had some tennis shoes and some boots and that I would like my boots. As I got dressed and my boots were handed to me and I saw the missing laces I could only crack a very wide smile, because my mind drifted to my poem “The Final Call” where I start saying:

“I’m coming
straight off death row in
boots with no laces.”

I pointed this out to them and before I closed my visit with my wife I reminded her I’m coming straight off death row. She replied emphasizing “OFF!” I smiled and concurred. “Yes, OFF!” We ended our visit with a kiss from behind the glass and I was escorted back to the death chamber. As I was placed in the cell I spoke to some of the rank that was around me. I let one of them know why my family was so excited. I know that they were monitoring all attitudes, actions and behaviors, so I wanted them to know why my family got so excited. The guard looked back at me and said “well, today just might be your day.” No sooner than he said that the Warden walked through the door on his cell phone. He looked at me and said, “They’re commuting your sentence.” I guess I was kind of surprised that he told me just like that, so I was like, “That’s it? It’s done?” He said, “Yeah, your sentence was just commuted. We’ll have you out of here in just a few.” My head was tingling and I wasted no time to drop to my knees and say a little prayer of thanks to the Most High, because I knew that He had had His hands around this situation. A few minutes later I was headed back to Polunsky.

On the drive back everything seemed brand new. Even officers were telling me that I had a new chance at life and I knew that. The sky was brighter and my heart was lighter. I got back to Polunsky Unit and was just hoping to be able to get around some comrades. While I was in a holding cell I had the fortune to see my best friend and mentor Tony Ford pass by and he had a smile so big on his face that I would have swore he had 2 mouths. That was a perfect passing, because that was my best friend and I’m glad he got to see my face before I left. I was placed on a pod where I only stayed about 30 minutes. As I walked through the door there was an elder comrade of mine in the dayroom – Harvey Earvin – and I went up to the bars and let him hug me. I went into the cell and had only enough time for about 3 persons to send me short kites of congratulations. And in no time a team came to pick me up. They wanted me OFF death row and I was ready to go. In just that fast of time I was being moved off death row and sent to the Byrd Unit to be reprocessed as a general population prisoner. Having had an international campaign, an armed SWAT team escort and a political commutation there wasn’t too many people that didn’t know who I was. Most had good things to say to me and one guard even came up to me and asked how I was being treated. I told him that I was being treated ok thus far. Not knowing if this was a man of importance I asked him who he was. He simply replied “Just an officer.” But then he added in “I listen to KPFT everyday. And Democracy Now!” I could only smile and say – “Right on, brotha!”

And Right On it has been. After a 10 year battle of fighting the death penalty I can finally sit back and breathe a bit. I can finally let off a small sigh. I’ve said if from the beginning that as long as the battle was on that I couldn’t do that. And though the war isn’t over a huge battle has been won and I can finally sit back and exhale and even let go a few tears of joy joyous tears that say that I’m going to continue to have the fuel to do positive and great things. I have so many to live for, so many that didn’t get the chance to carry on that greatness they attained while on death row. I can’t speak for the men that have gotten off death row before me, but I know that I’m ready to do something phenomenal. This will not be a wasted opportunity. So many people stood by my side, supported me and believed in me and I owe them something. I owe them 100% effort and dedication to the struggle we merged in on.

I can’t help but to think about those I left behind – the others that now sit on death watch. This has been such a traumatic journey and there are so many pains and scars. I hope that my fight has given some new hope to the struggle showing that the impossible can be done. And if it ever happens once it can happen again – and it must! History was made on August 30, 2007 and it’s this day that I pray HOPE was resurrected amongst our fighters in an otherwise grim-minded people where over 400 murders have brutalized us. Today is a new day and we’re taking Texas by the horns and we’re not letting go. We can’t let go until we break the beast and I can’t help but to end in the same way that I ended my almost prophetic poem “The Final Call”:

“These words are a prose of focus on death row… of letting go of the fear and hate of Selves… let’s take it off the shelves and activate the way… the way today is leaving the gates… and the point I was trying to make is
– I’M COMING STRAIGHT OFF DEATH ROW!”

In Struggle,
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