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The land of the free and home of the brave

In The Land Of The Free
Rarely, but every so often there comes a piece of journalism that both educates and inspires. Over 70% of prisoners in the US are either black or Latino. A new documentary narrated by Samuel L. Jackson feature’s the lives of three African American men jailed in the 1960’s known as the Angola 3.

In the land of the free‘ is a compelling story of Herman Wallace, Albert Woodford and Robert King who between them have spent over 90 years in solitary confinement in Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary United States built on an 18-acre former slave plantation.

Whilst in jail these three men all joined the Black Panther Party and began a campaign confronting both prisoner and prison warden abuses and racism. They organised campaigns against prison segregation based on race, male rape and violence they held prisoner sit in and strikes.

Robert King now released after proving his innocence after a 30 odd year term of imprisonment was held in solitary confinement for 29 years. Herman and Albert were subsequently convicted in prison in 1972 of murdering a prison guard and a fellow prisoner. They continue to be held in solitary confinement and that’s longer than any other prisoner in US history.

Robert King states that both are innocent and were targeted because of their activism in the Black Panther Party. He says they fought against the corruption between criminal gangs and prison wardens that controlled the prison.

In a recent interview Robert spoke about their experience in Angola State Pen;

“After abolition they put the prison on the plantation and it repopulated it with black prisoners.”

Referring to their campaign for justice he said;

“The authorities were losing control because we were bringing this knowledge to the prison. When you challenge them you become ‘dangerous’. But we weren’t a danger to anyone, except the people running the jail because we undermined their system.”

He goes on to explain how he managed to cope with so many years in isolation;

“I had already changed my mindset about prison before I was put in solitary. So, I was in prison, but prison wasn’t in me. I don’t want to give the idea that it was easy. But I had the ideology of the Black Panther Party and the truth on my side. I was a political prisoner, being held for a crime I hadn’t committed.”

This fascinating documentary provides a glimpse into the hardships endured by these three men and the growing global campaign to have Howard and Albert released. A great film worth seeing.

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