- js reader version
- view hidden posts
- tags and related articles
by Walidah Imarisha
Thursday, Aug. 31, 2006 at 9:29 AM
"Whether they murder me or not on Friday, I'm telling you, watch what Ima do, the ancestors are gonna be proud." Hasan Shakur uttered these powerful words a few days
before he is scheduled to be executed in Texas, Thursday August 31st.
I am sitting in my rented Chevy Equinox outside of the Polunsky Unit, in Livingston, Texas. The middle of farm country, there are stables right next door to the prison, within pissing distance of the electrified fence and concertina wire. I wonder if they belong to the prison. How much of this farmland is the prisons? The inmates wear all white here. It is ghostly figures I see pushing wheelbarrows, carrying rakes through a manicured lawn with flower boxes shaped like the star of Texas. This place reminds me so much of the California state prison my adopted brother Kakamia is in, the town, the hotel I’m staying at, the prison itself, that I walked into the visiting room expected to see my afro-haloed hermano. But I guess maybe all prison towns start to look the same.
The processing is the fastest I‘ve ever been through going to a prison. I have had to wait hours before to be cleared. I do not know if it is this prison, or the fact that I’m visiting at off times, or the fact that I am visiting someone who has an execution date set. Set for Thursday. Days are bleeding away, the 29th is just a breath away from the 31st.
Hasan Shakur, aka Derrick Frazier, aka #999284, is dressed all in white as well. Visiting is only through glass, and Hasan sits in a cage, the telephone pressed to his ear. He is as big as I figured he would be. He stands up to go to the bathroom, sticking his hands through the slot so they can put the handcuffs on him and he towers over the three guards around him.
But what doesn’t come through in the photos on his website is his baby face. 29 years old now, with a face of a 15 year old. He barely made it to 29, wasn’t supposed to make it. His life reads like a text book case of black ghetto life (“I always felt more comfortable in the ghetto, you know?” he says, eyes clear as spring water): dad gone, addicted beloved mother gone, didn’t graduate high school, slanging and banging and hardening his face to survive, and here he sits, for 9 years, on Texas’ death row, dressed in baptismal white. He was reborn here, held not by heavenly loving hands but by night sticks and pepper spray. Not gently laid back to be quietly submerged, but head pushed into toilets, and balls crushed under boots. Hasan Shakur born out of Derrick Frazier, not through water but a hail of bullets and billy clubs, child of George Jackson and Angela Davis, Mumia and Sundiata and all the political prisoners. Grandchild of Nat Turner and great great grandson of Seminoles and maroon colonies and quilombos. He takes his heritage serious as a heart attack, induced by a pound of poison shoved into your veins by the state.
The visiting room is busy today. Yesterday was family day, with his aunt and grandmother coming in to see him, making a three hour drive both ways. Today is supporter day. Hasan’s wife and support coordinator Debbie came from Canada a few days ago. Ray from the New York-based group the Welfare Poets came, and me from Philly. Only two people are allowed in the visiting room for him at one time, so we keep trading off, two hours in, two hours out, a game of death room musical chairs.
I met Hasan six years ago when I helped to found the Human Rights Coalition, a prisoner family organizing group. It was the brainchild and heartchild of Russell “Maroon” Shoats, a Pennsylvania political prisoner, former Black Panther/Black Liberation Army who has served almost 20 years straight in solitary confinement, never touching another human being except for his captors. Hasan is also Maroon’s heartchild, his adopted son. “This,” Maroon wrote, ”this brotha is our future, with his lion’s strength and determination.” Hasan wears a bracelet embroidered “MAROON” around his wrist that twists and turns as he writes and organizes groups and organizations, concerts and newsletters, campaigns and strategy planning from a cell the size of a bathroom that has the held breath of murder in it. Hasan started a chapter of HRC in Texas and serves on our advisory council. He has given invaluable insight to our planning and visioning for the organization, and he keeps us grounded. “Wa Wa, I’m a workhorse,” he says with a half smile, “and I’m going to push everyone around me, if I see someone leaning back, Ima crack that whip.” He says I should be proud of him, because he got six hours of sleep the night before, double his usual dose, which I often nag him about. “Yeah but how many did you get the night before?” I ask, laughing.
Debbie comes back in and says the affidavits will be filed in court today. The hope is that these affidavits will win a stay of execution for Hasan. There is also hope of perhaps getting a stay of execution from the governor, and an international letter writing campaign has been in effect since the date was handed down several weeks ago. Hasan was convicted of killing a white woman and her son in Refugio, Texas. There is a lack of physical evidence to tie Hasan to the scene. In fact, the main piece of evidence against him is a forced confession the police illicited from him, a 19 year old black young man, while in their custody, after a promise that he would only get 30 years for it. He was found guilty by an almost all white jury, some of whom had contact with the victim’s family during the trial. He had an incompetent lawyer who was later suspended, and a questionable indictment that outlined several different theories about the murders. I said to Hasan that some people, even black folks, still believe in the inherent goodness of they system, that there are some glitches but once those get cleared up, it will be back on track. He snorted and said, “That’s where we go wrong, believing that simple shit. The system is on track… it’s on track to ride over us.”
But there is still reason for hope. Hasan had an execution date scheduled for April 27, the day before his 29th birthday. Three days before, the courts gave him a stay. The prison shut down his visiting the minute the paperwork was filed, so I didn’t get to see him on that trip. This is our first time meeting face to face, even though we have organized and worked together for years. Also, another brotha was released from death row last week, a new trial won him a different sentence, and since he’d already spent 20 years on the row, they let him go. Debbie said, “Of course they got tight restrictions on him, he can do nothing, can’t use the computer, can’t leave the house, can’t drink… but shit, at least he’s home.”
But this is Texas, after all, and hope does not grow well in this soil. When it manages to take root, it is promptly stomped back down. “Our people don’t prepare for the future, you know?” Hasan says, scowling. The shatterproof glass between us reflects the light from the vending machines behind the cages, and it looks like Pepsi is written sliding down Hasan’s face like tears, cracked right down the middle. “It took us damn near thirty years to recover after we lost Malcolm. We have to set it up so that things will continue even if they take us out, cause you know that’s what they’re going to do. Wa Wa, just wait, just wait until you see some of the things I’m going to do. Watch what I’m going to do,” he says, smile showing the nine-year-old face I saw on the internet, little 80s afro and solemn eyes. “Whether they murder me or not on Friday, I’m telling you, watch what Ima do, the ancestors are gonna be proud.”
Call and fax to Governor Perry and ask for a stay of execution:
phone: (512) 463-1782
fax: (512) 463-1849
Report this post as:
Change Links 2018 July posted
More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena
"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena
Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles
Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California
Change Links June 2018 posted
The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years
Unity Archive Project
Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi
CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police
Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies
California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings)
Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico
Change Links May 2018
Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed
GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE
lausd whistle blower
Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images
UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light
Change Links April 2018
Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018
Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018!
Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A.
Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released
Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups
More Local News...
Un monde de pauvreté
14 Disturbing Facts About Scott Gottlieb, Trump's FDA Head
Behind the scenes at fbi National Academy
Treasury Takes Aim at Shell Companies
Paraphysique de l'intelligence
Oklahoma GOP Senator Jim Inhofe's Bloody Record
Globalization: hope on the horizon despite Fake Liberals.
Sorry President Trump,Ted Cruz Texas Judicial System,is Worse Than Many Shithole Countries
The Shortwave Report 07/20/18 Listen Globally!
The System Question as a Survival Question
Nation's Largest Voting Machine Co., ESS, Admits Lying Re Having Installed Remote Control
Du pain et des jeux
Paraphysique de martyrologie
Children Incorporated Earns 4-Star Rating on Charity Navigator
Democratic Socialists of America
Leonard Peltier Non Violent Native American Political Prisoner since 1970's
Paraphysique miscellanées de l'aggiornamento
FBI Investigated LA County Sheriff Baca,Why Not Hank Skinner's Persecution?
Updated Partial List Of Famous Vegetarians, Vegans, & Fruitarians
The Shortwave Report 07136/18 Listen Globally!
Social Policy as Social Infrastructure
Vol I: 84 Varieties Of GOP Election Fraud
Texas Can Call it An Execution,But It is A State Sponsored Murder of Hank Skinner..
June 2018 Honduras coup update
Maria Estrada doubles down on racist support
New York Women in Film & Television Announces 2018 NYWIFT Ha Phuong Scholarship Recipients
Trapps de la domination, trapps de l'aliénation
Please Work For The Defeat Of Brett Kavanaugh And Why
More Breaking News...