Thursday, January 28, 2016

A3 Newsletter: Solitary Under Attack as 2016 Begins

(PHOTO: Tabling at the Amnesty Art for Rights event in New Orleans, December 2015)

We want to send thanks from Albert and Robert to Amnesty activists for December's Write for Rights campaign. Albert enjoyed receiving the thousands of letters and postcards which were delivered to him in sacks! We kept him up to date with photos of the country activities including his "cut out" in front of London's landmarks, the first screening of the documentary Cruel and Unusual in the Louvre Paris and the art event in New Orleans.

On the legal front, Albert's legal teams have filed their appeal of the overturning of Judge Brady's unconditional Writ with the U.S. Supreme Court. They continue to prepare for Albert's retrial, though no date has been set. The civil trial is still scheduled to begin June 27th of this year.

In St. Francisville, still behind solitary walls, Albert awaits the status of a slate of appeals of rulings pending in Louisiana's 1st Circuit Court of Appeal from September that began to set up the legal and procedural landscape for the retrial.

Unfortunately, the first of these decisions came a few days ago and served to overturn Judge Carmichael's decision requiring Albert's retrial jury to be unanimous. Despite the fact that he was afforded a unanimous jury in both of his first two trials, only 10 of 12 jurors will be required to convict or acquit him in the third. Louisiana is one of only two states that allow non-unanimous juries to hand down life sentences. Many think eventually the law will be declared unconstitutional, but not in time for Albert. His legal team is appealing this decision to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Photos and Reportback from Dec. 12 Amnesty USA Art for Rights event in New Orleans for Albert Woodfox and other political prisoners

Read the Amnesty USA press release here.

Read a report from the day by the Times-Picayune here.

The following six photos, including the first two of Usher, were taken by Patrick Melon.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Never Silenced, Herman Wallace's Spirit is Smiling --An interview with filmmaker Angad Singh Bhalla

Never Silenced, Herman Wallace's Spirit is Smiling  
--An interview with filmmaker Angad Singh Bhalla

By Angola 3 News

Canadian filmmaker Angad Singh Bhalla has never shied away from examining politically controversial topics. Nor does he play down his own artistic goal of using media to foster political change. Bhalla's first independent work, entitled U.A.I.L. Go Back amplified the voices of Indian villagers resisting an alumina project backed by the Canadian company Alcan. The film became an important organizing tool used to pressure Alcan into ending its involvement in the project.

Bhalla has since co-founded Time of Day Media.and while working as a community organizer for immigrant rights, he produced videos for the Service Employees International Union, Working America, the Center for Constitutional Rights and other groups. His award-winning short on the lives of Indian street artists, Writings on the Wall, was broadcast on Canada’s Bravo! and Al Jazeera English.

Bhalla's debut feature documentary was the 2012 film Herman’s House, about Herman Wallace of the Angola 3 and the collaborative project Wallace worked on with artist Jackie Sumell, entitled The House That Herman Built. The film screened at more than 40 festivals, was distributed theatrically in the US and Canada, and won an Emmy Award for its 2013 POV broadcast on PBS.

The newly released, interactive website-based documentary film made by Bhalla, entitled The Deeper They Bury Me: A Call from Herman Wallace, builds upon Herman's House by further examining Herman Wallace's life, following Wallace's death from liver cancer on October 4, 2013, just three days after being released from prison. This latest film has already been well received. Along with a recent screening at the 28th annual International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, The Deeper They Bury Me has also been selected by Favourite Website Awards as the "Site of the Day" for December 14, where it is being displayed on the website's front page for the full day.

In this interview, filmmaker Angad Singh Bhalla discusses his latest film, The Deeper They Bury Me, while also reflecting upon his 2012 film Herman's House, his personal relationship with Wallace and more. Bhalla concludes the interview with a focus on the call by Amnesty International and the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3 for the immediate release of Albert Woodfox, who is the last of the Angola 3 behind bars. Despite three overturned convictions, Woodfox remains in prison and in solitary confinement, where he was first placed over 43 years ago.

(VIDEO: Coverage of the panel discussion following a recent screening of The Deeper They Bury Me at the 53rd New York Film Festival. Photos from this event by Lindsey Seide/NFB are featured below alongside still images taken from the film itself.)

Monday, December 7, 2015

New Orleans, Dec. 12: Art for Rights / Write for Rights, Amnesty Intl. event with Robert King and BMike

Join Amnesty International USA in New Orleans on December 12, from 10am to 6pm, to celebrate art, human rights and international solidarity. As part of the organization’s annual “Write for Rights” campaign, Amnesty International USA is partnering with New Orleans native, Brandan “BMike” Odums to host an “Art for Rights” pop-up exhibition at Studio Be, 2925-2999 Royal Street in New Orleans. Attendees will not only have the opportunity to write letters on behalf of prisoners and human rights defenders from around the world, they will witness the creation of 12 different murals honoring the struggles and activism of individuals on whose behalf Amnesty works.

Art can be a cultural tool during times of unrest to expose truths, helping to humanize social struggle and actualize grievances and fears. Often, it is what inspires us to action.

Amnesty has chosen to hold the inaugural event in New Orleans where Albert Woodfox, one of the 12 cases featured in this year’s Write for Rights campaign, has been held in solitary confinement for over 40 years.

Robert King, the first freed member of the Angola 3, will be joining BMike as the keynote speaker.

Art For Rights
Saturday, December 12th, 2015
10am – 6pm
2925-2999 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A3 Newsletter: From the Louvre to Louisiana

While the National and International community rally to the support of Albert Woodfox, time seems to have stood still in Louisiana where the long struggle to achieve freedom for Albert Woodfox after four decades in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit drags on nearly three years after a federal judge once again overturned Albert's conviction.

In France, the newly released " Cruel and Unusual" updates "In the Land of the Free" and digs more deeply into the arcane mode of punishment that reaches new levels of abuse in the United States- decades of solitary confinement and the results there of.

Meanwhile, Amnesty chapters both nationally and internationally urge their members to Write for the Rights of political prisoners with a special focus on twelve prisoners world-wide, including Albert Woodfox.  There will be kick off events globally and Robert King will be urging letter writers on via Skyped interviews with student sections in Holland and the U.S.

As the year draws to a close, a year we were certain we would see Albert released- we pray for many things- world peace, homes for the dispossessed everywhere and freedom from fear, racism and hatred at home and abroad and finally, finally, finally.... freedom for Albert Woodfox and the too many political and economic prisoners held in gulags around the country.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Amnesty Intl. USA's "Write for Rights" campaign focuses on Albert Woodfox, calling for his immediate release

 (Amnesty International artwork)

Today, in conjunction with the "Write for Rights" campaign, Amnesty International USA issued an email action alert focusing on Albert Woodfox, where Amnesty reiterated the organization's call for Albert's immediate release.

Along with urging supporters to add their name to Amnesty's online petition to Louisiana Attorney General James Caldwell, Amnesty is also asking people to write letters to both AG Caldwell and to Albert, with a sample letter and other information available here.

On November 7, a protest march in support of Albert was held in London, England. The following week, following the US Fifth Circuit Court's ruling that Albert can face a third trial, both Amnesty USA and UK issued responses.

Featured below and reprinted in full, is today's email alert sent out by Amnesty USA Senior Campaigner Jasmine Heiss:

There is no other way to describe what's happening to Albert Woodfox - he is trapped in a nightmare.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A3 Newsletter: Court Rules Albert Woodfox Can Be Retried a Third Time

MEDIA COVERAGE:  Esquire: "The Absurdity of Retrial"  II  Washington Post  II  NY Times  II  The Independent (UK)  II  The Guardian (UK)  II  Amnesty Intl. UK  II  Amnesty Intl. USA  II  The Advocate  II  teleSUR English  II  Boston Globe / AP  II  VICE  II  Mother Jones  II  Brennan Center: Will Justice Kennedy Save Albert Woodfox?

PHOTO:  A 'cardboard cutout' of Albert Woodfox is displayed in downtown London, England during a November 7 protest march organized by Amnesty International UK. If you have not yet done so, please take action by joining Amnesty's call to "Free Albert Woodfox!"

US 5th Circuit Court Reverses Judge Brady in Bitterly Divided 2-1 Decision

Like Albert, many of you probably awoke to the news that yesterday evening a bitterly divided panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Brady's June 8th unconditional Writ ordering his release and barring a retrial.

Albert's conviction will remain overturned, but there is no longer any doubt that he will be retried a third time by the State of Louisiana, only miles from the solitary cell where he's spent the bulk of his life.

In a stunning dissent, printed in its entirety below, Judge James Dennis passionately argued against the majority for Albert's freedom--sharing both Judge Brady's view of the exceptional injustice represented by this case and his "lack of confidence in the State to provide a fair third trial."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Reportback on Albert Woodfox's Hearing Today in Louisiana State Court, w/ Amnesty International USA Statement

MEDIA COVERAGE:  NOLA Times-Picayune Sept. 21 and Sept. 22 (also before the hearing)  II  ABA Journal  II  Common Dreams  II  KSL / AP  II  ABC / AP  II  Truthout on Herman's House

A3 Newsletter: Judge Rules for DNA Testing and Fingerprint Analysis but Against the Change of Venue and Dismissing the Case

This morning in St. Francisville Judge Carmichael of West Feliciana Parish's 20th Judicial District Court made the first determinations about what the legal landscape will look like if Judge Brady's "unconditional Writ" is overturned and Albert faces a third trial.  

The good news is that the judge agreed to require a unanimous jury decision, to allow DNA testing of all evidence still in the State's possession that may contain adequate sample sizes for modern analysis, and to give Albert's defense team access to any fingerprint files the State possesses from Angola at the time of the murder.  He also agreed to give Albert's defense team a chance to privately review (under seal) letters from the latest grand jury foreperson expressing "serious misgivings" about the "process" in order to assess whether or not the most recent indictment itself, hastily obtained in February of 2015 before the federal appeals process had fully played out, may have once again been improperly obtained. 

Overall though, it was not a good day for Albert, or for justice, in St. Francisville.  In a curt, 45 minute hearing (originally scheduled for two full days) the judge rejected a solid majority of Albert's 16 pre-trial motions designed to create a fair evidentiary and procedural playing field for any potential retrial.  Albert's motion to quash, change the venue, and run the print evidence through the FBI's expanded AFIS database were all quite unceremoniously denied.  Critically, so were Albert's requests to exclude all the now impeached, debunked, and discredited testimony presented at previous trials by Hezekiah Brown and the State's other key witnesses.  Though Albert will be allowed to present impeachment evidence to a new jury, the jurors will never able to see how these now deceased witnesses respond and react on the stand when confronted with their own lies, obfuscations, and omissions from previous testimony.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A3 Newsletter: Albert Woodfox Takes First Steps Towards Retrial in State Court on Sept. 21 in St. Francisville, LA

A3 Newsletter: A Third Chance for Justice in State Court - The Critical Importance of Setting the Right Evidentiary and Procedural Scene for a Fair Retrial

Though it is an incredibly unusual, and often confusing situation, the legal reality is that Albert is fighting for permanent, unconditional release concurrently on two separate legal tracks - one in federal and the other in state court.  As we all wait to hear whether the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold federal Judge Brady's June 8th "unconditional Writ," a third attempt to prosecute Albert in state court for the crime he continues to maintain he's innocent of is already, simultaneously, underway.

Next Monday, September 21st at 9:30am at the Courthouse in St. Francisville, the state court track will take a huge leap forward as Judge Carmichael of West Feliciana Parish's 20th Judicial District Court decides what a new playing field will look like after each side presents what they believe to be the key ingredients needed to ensure a just potential third trial.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Reportback on Albert Woodfox's Sept. 2 Oral Arguments at US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

IN THE NEWS:  NOLA Times Picayune (1, 2) II  The Advocate  II  Shreveport Times  II  ABC / AP  II  WRAL / AP   II  Toronto Sun / Reuters  II  Second Reuters article

(PHOTO: A3 supporters outside of the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans this morning at Albert Woodfox's oral arguments. Big Thanks to everyone that made it out!!)

This morning, Amnesty International USA released the following statement, reprinted in full.

Please check back here for more updates later in the day. See also our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Amnesty International USA Statement on Ongoing Incarceration of Albert Woodfox

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans heard oral argument in Albert Woodfox vs. Burl Cain. A three-judge panel will decide whether Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox should be granted unconditional release or face a third trial after spending more than four decades in solitary confinement. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A3 Newsletter: Join Us in New Orleans on Sept. 2nd for Albert Woodfox's Appeal Hearing

(PHOTO: A3 supporters gathered outside the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans at one of Albert's previous hearings, on Jan. 7, 2014.)

After a summer of back and forth briefing on paper, on Wednesday morning, September 2nd, in the East Courtroom a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will hear oral arguments on whether Federal Judge James Brady's June 8th "unconditional writ" officially overturning Albert's conviction, ordering his release, and barring a retrial (a ruling he presented as "the only just remedy") will stand.

As usual, the public is welcome to attend.  Though we don't know for sure what time our case will be heard, doors open at 8am and court convenes at 8:30am. Arguments are expected to be short (usually each side only gets about 45 minutes) and for those unable to attend audio recordings are posted on the 5th's website by close of business that same day.

A decision from that Court is expected sometime later this fall.  If Judge Brady's ruling is upheld, Albert will be released and a retrial banned.  If reversed, the Fifth Circuit does not have the power to reinstate Albert's overturned conviction, but can put limits on the terms of Judge Brady's Writ and release order.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Photos of new Albert Woodfox mural in New Orleans by artist B-Mike w/ Amnesty Intl. USA

Featured below are photos of the new Albert Woodfox mural in New Orleans, Louisiana, painted by artist Brandan "B-Mike" Odums in conjunction with Amnesty International USA (sign Amnesty's ongoing petition for Albert here). The photos below are taken by Amnesty USA and the A3 Coalition.

Read the July 3 NOLA Times Picayune article to learn more about the mural and to view more photos.

This first photo is of Michael Mable, brother of Albert Woodfox, standing in front of the mural.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A3 Newsletter: The Beat Goes On

Healing Our Wounds: Restorative Justice Is Needed For Albert Woodfox, The Black Panther Party & The Nation  --Law Professor Angela A. Allen-Bell interviewed by Angola 3 News

On Monday, June 8, 2015, US District Court Judge James Brady ruled that the Angola 3's Albert Woodfox be both immediately released and barred from a retrial. The next day, at the request of the Louisiana Attorney General, the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay of release set to expire on Friday, June 12.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Healing Our Wounds: Restorative Justice Is Needed For Albert Woodfox, The Black Panther Party & The Nation --An Interview With Law Professor Angela A. Allen-Bell

(VIDEO: Prof. Bell interviewed by Sky News, following Judge Brady's ruling to immediately release Albert Woodfox. A stay on his release was ordered later that day by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Also be sure to watch her June 12 appearance on MSNBC's News Nation with Tamron Hall)

Healing Our Wounds: Restorative Justice Is Needed For Albert Woodfox, The Black Panther Party & The Nation
--An Interview With Law Professor Angela A. Allen-Bell

By Angola 3 News

On Monday, June 8, 2015, US District Court Judge James Brady ruled that the Angola 3's Albert Woodfox be both immediately released and barred from a retrial. The next day, at the request of the Louisiana Attorney General, the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay of release set to expire on Friday, June 12.

As the week intensified following Judge Brady's ruling, both Albert Woodfox and his family, friends & supporters wondered if he would finally be released over 43 years after first being placed in solitary confinement. Amnesty International USA launched a petition calling on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to honor Judge Brady's ruling.  

On June 9, US Congressman Cedric Richmond (LA-02) issued a statement declaring that "Attorney General Caldwell must respect the ruling of Judge Brady and grant Mr. Woodfox his release immediately...This is an obviously personal vendetta and has been a waste of tax payer dollars for decades. The state is making major cuts in education and healthcare but he has spent millions of dollars on this frivolous endeavor and the price tag is increasing by the day." 

On June 11, eighteen members of the Louisiana House of Representatives voted unsuccessfully to pass a resolution (H.R. 208) urging Attorney General Caldwell to stop standing in the way of justice, withdraw his appeals, and let Judge Brady's unconditional writ and release ruling stand.

However, on Friday, June 12, the Court responded by scheduling oral arguments for late August and extending the stay of release at least until the time that the Court issues its ruling later in the Fall.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Albert Will Remain Behind Bars Pending Appeal --Justice Delayed is Justice Denied, But Not Forever (A3 Newsletter)

MEDIA COVERAGE:  NOLA Times-Picayune  II  New Yorker  II  NPR interviews Prof Angela A. Allen-Bell  II  Hollywood Progressive: New A3 Feature Film  II  Huffington Post  II  CTV (Canada) / AP  II  Atlanta Black Star  II  Live Science 

We are sad to report that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to continue the stay and block the release of Albert Woodfox until the State's appeal is heard (read articles by The Advocate and Washington Post).

Though it means some months before Albert will see his long overdue freedom realized, the court has granted an "expedited" status for the appeal. Oral Arguments are set for the week of August 31st. The State's written argument as to why they believe Judge Brady's order should be overturned is due on July 10th. Then Albert's team has three weeks to respond before the State is allowed a final rebuttal on August 7th.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A3 Newsletter: The Eve of Freedom?

(Artwork by Rigo 23)

As we all wait anxiously for what tomorrow may bring, we thought like us, you may want to immerse yourself in some of the most powerful shows of support for Albert from around the world that have emerged in the last few extraordinary days since Judge Brady's heroic ruling.

An article written today by the Associated Press and featured by the New York Times asks: What Has Louisiana Got on the Last of the Angola Three?  Answering their own question, the AP / NY Times writes: "Woodfox's long-simmering story has been the subject of documentaries, Peabody Award winning journalism, United Nations human rights reviews and even a theatrical play. It's a staggering tale of inconsistencies, witness recants, rigged jury pools, out-of-control prison violence, racial prejudice and political intrigue."

Take Action with Amnesty International! Act quickly: Albert Woodfox’s fate could be decided TOMORROW

Featured below, reprinted in full, is a new Amnesty International action alert for Albert Woodfox.

Please Take Action Here!

On Monday night, I heard news almost too incredible to believe: After four decades of hellish isolation, a federal judge ordered that Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox finally be unconditionally released and never re-tried by the State of Louisiana. After so many years in solitary confinement, Albert was set to walk free.

It marked the most promising development to date in Albert's case.

A Visit This Week With Albert Woodfox: "They Call Me The Last Man Standing"

June 19, 2015 Update: Read the follow-up article by the same author about her most recent visit with Albert

(This touching essay detailing a visit this week with Albert Woodfox is reprinted in full from the Why Am I Not Suprised? Blog.)

(PHOTO: Author with Albert Woodfox from a previous visit)

Albert Woodfox "They Call Me The Last Man Standing"

Five years and eleven months ago yesterday, I first laid eyes on Albert Woodfox. He was still in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola then, where he had been locked up in solitary confinement almost continually since April of 1972. I had been a prison abolitionist myself for thirty-eight years at that point, so it was not surprising that we found each other. Despite the 6 X 9 foot cell in which he had been held so long, hundreds, maybe thousands, of people around the world had already found him before me. But unknown to him, when he turned 62 in February, 2009, I threw him a birthday party and invited students on the Louisiana university campus where I teach to come.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Fifth Circuit Issues Temporary Stay of Judge Brady's Ruling to Release Albert Woodfox

MEDIA COVERAGE:   NY Times Editorial and In-Depth Article  II  Times-Picayune  II  The Independent UK  II  NPR   II  FOX News  II  The American Lawyer  II  Daily Mail UK  II  El Paso Times / AP  II  Washington Post  II  CNN  II  Agence France-Presse  II  Democracy Now!  II  The Root   II  ABC News / AP

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has just issued a temporary stay of Judge Brady's order to give Albert's attorneys time to respond to the appeal.

Though there will be no freedom for Albert tonight, we remain confident that Judge Brady's ruling is rooted in strong legal precedent and that justice will finally prevail for Albert sooner than later.

We will do our best to keep you updated as things develop.

Monday, June 8, 2015

BREAKING!: Judge Brady orders Albert Woodfox's Unconditional Release & Retrial Banned!! (Stay Tuned for Updates)

MEDIA COVERAGE:  CNN  II   Los Angeles Times  II  Times-Picayune  II  NY Times / AP & Toronto Star  II  Spiegel Online  II  BBC  II  Guardian UK  II  Amnesty International USA   II  Christian Science Monitor  II 

We are ecstatic to announce that late this afternoon Judge Brady granted the unicorn of habeas rulings--an "unconditional writ" ordering Albert's immediate release and barring a retrial.
He argues that this extraordinary remedy is merited due to the following 5 factors: "Mr. Woodfox's age and poor health, his limited ability to present a defense at a third trial in light of the unavailability of witnesses, this Court's lack of confidence in the State to provide a fair third trial, the prejudice done onto Mr. Woodfox by spending over forty-years in solitary confinement, and finally the very fact that Mr. Woodfox has already been tried twice and would otherwise face his third trial for a crime that occurred over forty years ago."