[This is a letter from Bay View, the San Fransisco National Black Newspaper.]
FBI attack – First, I want to apologize for agreeing to the KGO-ABC7 interview last week on an FBI Black August bulletin. I agreed in a phone call that came when I had just sent the August paper to the printer after pulling an all-nighter. My judgment was lousy and the interview was appalling. A white woman – a cackling witch, as one fan described me – should not be the face of a Black paper. Here’s the report for those with the stomach to watch.
The threat to the Bay View is, however, very real. While the FBI has sent out all points bulletins warning of danger to police and prison guards in previous Black Augusts – last year’s predicting trouble in Baltimore – this year’s bulletin criminalizes Black August. It reminded me of J. Edgar Hoover’s 1968 FBI bulletin naming the Black Panthers as the greatest threat to U.S. security.
Black August, observed both inside prison and out, is a month of fasting, studying and deep thought in commemoration of fallen freedom fighters, initially Jonathan Jackson, 17, who died in the Marin Courthouse Slave Rebellion on Aug. 7, 1970, trying to rescue his big brother, George Jackson, who was assassinated on the San Quentin yard on Aug. 21, 1971.
This year’s FBI Black August bulletin, which I was not told of or shown until the camera was rolling, put all police and prison guards in the country on high alert mainly because this year is the first anniversary of the assassination of George Jackson’s comrade, Hugo “Yogi” Pinell, on Aug. 12, 2015. The Black Panther newspaper wrote, in a Nov. 29, 1971, article headlined “The Black Panther Party and Hugo Pinell”:
“Comrade George Jackson and Comrade Hugo Pinell, one Black and one Latino, were the living examples of the unity that can and must exist among the prisoner class,” adding that now that George had been assassinated, “Their plans to slaughter Hugo Pinell are in full swing.”
We celebrate the loving unity that Yogi practiced every day of his life, but the FBI fears it. They see a unified community as endangering the lives of law enforcement officers, and they criminalize the Bay View for suggesting prison guards played a role in Yogi’s death – the guards who wrote immediately on social media, “May he rot in hell” and “Good riddens” (sic) – presuming Black folks will seek revenge this month.
Among the possible consequences of this FBI bulletin, what most concerns me is the likelihood that corrections departments around the country will use it as an excuse to ban the Bay View. I’m usually able to talk wardens and corrections directors into releasing copies they have a quarrel with to subscribers, but if the censorship spreads nationwide and prisons seek a permanent ban, we may need legal help.
To find out more about Black Media Appreciation Night and how to help, go here.