Supporters rally at hearing for Woodfox
Published Mar 15, 2009 9:18 PM
Some three dozen supporters of Albert Woodfox rallied in front of the U.S.
Court of Appeals in New Orleans on March 3, and then went inside for a hearing
on his case. Woodfox, one of the three political prisoners known as the Angola
3, has been in solitary confinement for 36 years after a politically motivated
Supporters, including some from as far as Maine and California, wore black
T-shirts that proclaimed “I am Albert Woodfox” and “I am
Herman Wallace,” the other member of the Angola 3 who has not been
released. A mobile billboard that read “36 years of solitary, 36 years of
innocence” circled the courthouse as the proceedings took place.
Woodfox, Wallace and Robert King Wilkerson were Black Panther Party members who
organized prisoner protests and strikes against conditions in the notorious
Angola penitentiary—a former plantation where guards subjected prisoners
to horrific abuses, including sexual enslavement.
According to a March 2 Mother Jones report: “In the early 1970s,
Angola—which spans an area the size of Manhattan and is 30 miles from the
nearest town—was a lawless, dangerous hellhole. The all-white corrections
officers, who were called ‘freemen,’ lived with their families in
their own community on the prison grounds, with inmate-servants they called
After the 1972 stabbing death of prison guard Brent Miller, Woodfox and Wallace
were tried and convicted based largely on the testimony of an eyewitness who,
after being promised a pardon, changed his initial story to finger the two.
Wilkerson, although said by authorities to be linked to the guard’s
death, was not charged. All three, however, were placed in solitary confinement
for almost three decades. The Angola 3 have received international attention
and widespread support.
This past November, U.S. District Judge James Brady ruled that Woodfox’s
defense attorneys in his 1998 retrial had failed to provide Woodfox with
adequate legal representation and ordered him released. However, the 5th
Circuit Court of Appeals granted an appeal by Louisiana Attorney General Buddy
Caldwell, including a motion to keep Woodfox imprisoned until the 5th Circuit
reached a decision on the appeal.
It is expected that the court will take three to six months to reach a decision
on the March 3 hearing. The International Coalition to Free the Angola 3
reports that if the court upholds Brady’s ruling, then the state of
Louisiana will have 120 days to retry or release Woodfox. If the ruling is
overturned, Woodfox would have to start the appeals process anew.
For more information on the Angola 3, visit www.angola3.org.
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