Rep. Conyers speaks up for the Angola 3

By Caleb T. Maupin

Cleveland FIST at Baldwin Wallace College

Rep. John Conyers, chairperson of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, recently toured one of the most harsh and repressive prisons in the United States. He came to Louisiana State Penitentiary to investigate the case of the Angola 3. Though Robert King has finally been freed through mass struggle, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace remain behind bars.

Conyers visited with the two prisoners on March 20 for two hours. On the same day, Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond held a press conference in Baton Rouge on the case.

These men were young when they entered the prison at Angola with rebellious spirits in the 1970s. They formed a chapter of the Black Panther Party within the prison’s walls. They led their fellow prisoners in hunger strikes and sit-ins. They made demands and fought back against the conditions of the capitalist hellhole at Angola.

In a written statement, Conyers urged “a swift and just resolution” of the matter. He said that he recently became aware of evidence that may suggest both Wallace and Woodfox were wrongly convicted in the death of a guard at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

The repressive state apparatus was used to punish King, Woodfox and Wallace for standing up. From every prison guard to every racist cop on the street, this repressive state apparatus is used to keep the repressive order of this society intact.

But things are changing for the Angola 3. Robert King was freed in 2001 when the state could no longer deny his innocence. MSNBC, a major news channel, recently ran a television spot on the Angola 3’s case. In the spot, they interviewed the widow of the officer Wallace and Woodfox are accused of killing. She openly stated before a national TV audience that she, a grieving widow, had doubts about whether the men were guilty or not.

It has taken years of mass struggle, but with the increasing social climate of dissent, the hope is that the Angola 3 may soon reunite, outside of the prison walls.

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