Thursday, February 25, 2016

A3 Newsletter: Albert Is Free - Support Albert's Fund

A3 Newsletter, February 25, 2016: 
Oh Happy Day - Albert Woodfox is Free At Last

 (PHOTO: Left to Right, Robert King, Albert Woodfox, and Malik Rahim. This photo and two further below of Albert spending quality time with friends and family are courtesy of Palomita Firecracker's Facebook page.)

Giving Thanks

We dedicate this newsletter to the spirit of Anita Roddick for her dedication to the Angola 3 struggle for freedom and to her family who stayed the course through the darkest hours.

To the many Angola 3 supporters that have stood by us in the past several decades as we fought for the freedom of Robert King, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, and against the torture that is solitary confinement, we are more grateful than words can express.

It has been a long journey and there have been many milestones along the way. Movies have been made, books have been written, institutions and non-profit organizations have joined the struggle, legal assistance has ebbed and waned, but throughout, the coalition and its supporters have never stopped taking action to change the state of solitary confinement and freedom for Albert.

Last Friday, on February 19th 2016 those actions culminated in Albert's freedom. Albert is absolutely, 100% free!  Below is just some of the remarkable media coverage that is circulating the globe.

Please Give To Albert's Fund

As we celebrate that ALL THE ANGOLA 3 ARE FREE please join us in laying the foundation for Albert's new life. We'll never be able to make up for over four decades in solitary but those of us in minimum security know how costly life out here is. 100% of all donations will be given directly to Albert.

You can donate online through the A3 Coalition's fiscal sponsor, Community Futures Collective, designating "Albert" in the memo. If you prefer to send a check, please make it out to "Community Futures Collective" and write "Albert" in the check's memo section. Mail it to:

Community Futures Collective
221 Idora Ave
Vallejo, CA 94591

From the entire Angola 3 community- thank you.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Democracy Now! interviews Albert Woodfox, Robert H King and lawyer Billy Sothern

Watch part two of the DN! interview here

Well, joining us now in a broadcast exclusive from New Orleans PBS station WLAE is Albert Woodfox himself, giving his first televised interview since his release on Friday. Also joining us there is Robert King, the other surviving member of the Angola 3. And Albert Woodfox’s attorney, Billy Sothern, also joins us from New Orleans.

We welcome you all to Democracy Now! Albert Woodfox, how does it feel to be free?

ALBERT WOODFOX: I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but it feels great.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, can you talk about what happened on Friday as you left the parish jail in New Orleans? This was after 45 years in prison, 43 years in solitary confinement. You’re the longest-standing prisoner in solitary confinement in the United States.

ALBERT WOODFOX: I guess, you know, for a moment there, everything seemed surreal. And we had to sit around, about an hour and some, waiting on the final documents to be faxed to the West Feliciana detention center. And when that finally happened and, you know, my brother and my attorneys, they walked out with me, and family and friends began to express joy and excitement. And we got in my brother’s car, and we slowly drove. And we answered a few questions, and then we proceeded to go say goodbye to my mother...

Watch the full interview here.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Albert Woodfox interviewed by NY Times, UK Guardian, The Advocate and Time-Picayune

THE INTERVIEWS:   NY Times: For 45 Years in Prison, Louisiana Man Kept Calm and Held Fast to Hope  II  UK Guardian: 'I would not let them drive me insane'  II  The Advocate: Albert Woodfox savors freedom after decades behind bars  II  Times-Picayune: "I learned how strong the human spirit can be"

The New York Times (excerpt):

Now on Saturday morning, he was sitting in a hotel suite alongside one of his brothers and members of the legal team that had worked for years for his release. He was calm, composed, steady as a surgeon, but one imagines that survival would have been impossible without this sort of disposition.

“I don’t think I ever felt that I would die in prison,” Mr. Woodfox, who is black, said. But he acknowledged: “As the years passed, it became more difficult to feel that way.”

The Louisiana State Penitentiary, the 18,000-acre prison in an elbow of the Mississippi River, is known familiarly as Angola. This was the name for the cotton plantation that once occupied the same grounds, itself named for the part of Africa where the plantation’s slaves had come from. It is the largest maximum-security prison in the country, and in the early 1970s it was possibly the bloodiest.

“Almost every day, somewhere in the prison, somebody was getting stabbed or killed or beat with an iron pipe,” Mr. Woodfox recalled.

Read the full article here.

The UK Guardian (excerpt):

In his first interview since being released from West Feliciana parish detention center in Louisiana, Woodfox told the Guardian that in 1972, when he was put into “closed cell restriction”, or CCR, he made a conscious decision that he would survive. He and his comrades from the so-called Angola 3, Herman Wallace and Robert King, made a vow to be strong.

“We made a conscious decision that we would never become institutionalized,” he said. “As the years went by, we made efforts to improve and motivate ourselves.”

The key, he said, was to stay connected to what was happening in the outside world.

“We made sure we always remained concerned about what was going on in society – that way we knew that we would never give up. I promised myself that I would not let them break me, not let them drive me insane.”

Read the full article here.

The Advocate (excerpt):

For the first time in nearly half a century, Albert Woodfox was allowed to sit up front.

The 69-year-old member of the Angola 3, who was released Friday after spending most of his life in solitary confinement, said one of his first impressions of the world outside prison was having a wide, front-seat view of the landscape as his brother drove him away from jail.

“It felt strange because I was sitting in the front of his car rather than the back of a van,” Woodfox told The Advocate on Saturday in New Orleans, just over 24 hours since his historic release...

...Woodfox said he plans to start a community-based organization to aid people recently released from prison and to persuade lawmakers to move forward with progressive prison reform.

And he also hopes to correct the picture that’s been made of him as violent troublemaker. He claims he went almost 20 years without a disciplinary write-up.

“I’m not the monster that I was portrayed to be,” he said.

Read the full article here.

The Times-Picayune (excerpt):

Woodfox sat mostly still Saturday, sometimes raising a hand to make a point or touch his face. His brother, Michel Mable, had warned Woodfox was feeling overwhelmed. But Woodfox's voice was steady. He's lost his composure only one time since walking out of jail Friday, Woodfox said. It was when he hugged his daughter for the first time.

"That was something," he said, tucking his head into both his fists.

Adjusting to the outside may take some time, he said, but he's doing OK. He recognizes the streets of New Orleans, but the roadway seems narrower as buildings he doesn't recognize have popped up.

Woodfox's daughter, with whom he has only recently started to build a relationship, cooked his requested meal: cream corn, prepared the way his late mother used to make it, with rice and smoked sausage.

He credits the teachings of the Black Panther Party and his bond with Wallace and King for his mental survival through years of solitary confinement, referred to by the Louisiana Corrections Department as "closed-cell restriction."

"It's like we had some kind of magical connection," he said of Wallace and King. "We knew we had to turn outward, and stay connected to society and not become institutionalized."

Read the full article here.

Friday, February 19, 2016

BREAKING! Albert Woodfox is Freed TODAY on his 69th Birthday!!

MEDIA COVERAGE:   UK Guardian  II  Washington Post  II  NBC  II  The Advocate (with new photo)  II  Times-Picayune  II  NY Times  II  Video by WBRZ  II  BBC News  II  Irish Times  II  Amnesty Intl UK  II  Toronto Star / AP  II  CNN (with new photo)  II  Los Angeles Times  II  Daily Mail / AFP  II  La Nacion (Argentina)  II  US Congressman Cedric Richmond  II  New Yorker

(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox following his release just moments ago!! Photo from Democracy Now!)

(WATCH Albert walk out the gates a free man!)

Take a deep breath everyone,

Just moments ago, Albert Woodfox, the last remaining member of the Angola 3 still behind bars, was released from prison 43 years and 10 months after he was first put in a 6x9 foot solitary cell for a crime he did not commit. After decades of costly litigation, Louisiana State officials have at last acted in the interest of justice and reached an agreement that brings a long overdue end to this nightmare. Albert has maintained his innocence at every step, and today, on his 69th birthday, he will finally begin a new phase of his life as a free man.

In anticipation of his release this morning, Albert thanked his many supporters and added: “Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”