USA: Before Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib were the Black Panthers, by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Charles Graner with Abu Ghraib prisoner tortured to deathFrom San Francisco Bay View (USA):

Before Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib were the Black Panthers

by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Long before the words Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib entered common American usage as reference points for government torture, there were several young Black men who knew something about the subject.

The year was 1973, and among 13 “Black militants” arrested in a New Orleans sweep were three men: Harold Taylor, John Bowman and Ruben Scott.

The three were beaten, tortured and interrogated by New Orleans cops, acting on tips supplied by San Francisco police.

The men were stripped, beaten with blunt objects, blindfolded, shocked on their private parts by electric cattle prods, punched and kicked and had wool blankets soaked in boiling water thrown over them.

Under such torture, the three gave false confessions in the shooting of a San Francisco cop in 1971.

The charges were eventually thrown out after a judge in California found that the prosecution had failed to tell a grand jury that the confessions were exacted under torture.

Today, over 30 years later, Taylor, Bowman and Scott have again been called before a grand jury to try to resurrect what was dismissed in 1976.

Imagine what these men thought when they heard about the U.S. government torture chambers in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

The names may have been different, but the grim reality was the same.

Today, these men have formed the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights to try to teach folks about what happened so many years ago and what is happening now. …

The roots of Guantanamo, of Abu Ghraib, of Bagram Air Force Base, of U.S. secret torture chambers operating all around the world are deep in American life and its long war against Black life and liberation.
Charles Graner in Abu Ghraib jail torture, photo
Is it mere coincidence that the most notorious guard at Abu Ghraib worked right here in the U.S., here in Pennsylvania, here in SCI-Greene for over six years before exporting his brand of “corrections” to the poor slobs who met him in Iraq?

[By San Francisco Bay View: The “most notorious guard at Abu Ghraib” Mumia refers to, who got his training in “SCI-Greene for over six years,” the prison where Mumia is held, is Charles Graner, shown here grinning into the camera for one of the infamous torture photos.]

Mumia and France: here.

Angola Three update: here.

More Black Panthers: here.

And here.

Herman Wallace: Terminally ill but free at last … after 41 years in solitary confinement: here.

13 thoughts on “USA: Before Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib were the Black Panthers, by Mumia Abu-Jamal

  1. Assata: An Autobiography, By Assata Shakur

    “A deftly written book… a spellbinding tale.” -New York Times Book Review

    On May 2, 1973, Black Panther Assata Shakur (aka JoAnne Chesimard) lay in a hospital bed, while local, state, and federal police attempted to question her about the shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike that had claimed the life of a white state trooper. Long a target of J. Edgar Hoover’s campaign to defame, infiltrate, and criminalize Black nationalist organizers and their leaders, Shakur was incarcerated for four years prior to her conviction on flimsy evidence in 1977 as an accomplice to murder.

    This intensely personal and political autobiography belies the fearsome image of JoAnne Chesimard long projected by the media and the state. With wit and candor, Assata Shakur recounts the experiences that led her life to a life of activism and portrays the strengths, weaknesses, and eventual demise of Black and white revolutionary groups at the hands of government officials. The result is a contribution to the literature about growing up Black in America that has already taken place along sideThe Autobiography of Malcolm X and the works of Maya Angelou.

    Two years after her conviction, Assata Shakur escaped from prison. She was given political asylum by Cuba, where she now resides.
    1987, Forward by Angela Davis, 2001, softcover, 247pp


  2. Former Black Panther Party leader, Elaine Brown, on Ohio speaking tour to build awareness of the Lucasville Five case

    Public forums in the first week of April in Toledo and in Cleveland will feature Elaine Brown, a long time activist who became national Chairman of the Black Panther Party in 1974, following Huey P. Newton’s exile into Cuba. The forums are entitled, “Why is standing up for your rights a capital crime in Ohio? The case of the Lucasville Five.”

    Brown, a former political prisoner herself, will address the issues of the prison-industrial complex and political prisoners. The forums are intended to heighten public awareness of the grassroots movement to abolish racist and anti-poor capital punishment. Brown is specifically focusing on the Lucasville Five who were sentenced to death in relation to their involvement in the 1993 prison uprising in Lucasville, Ohio. The cases against the Five were based on perjured testimony that several of the “witnesses” have now recanted.

    The forum in Toledo is Apr. 5, 7:00 pm, University of Toledo Student Union, Room 2582. The forum is Cleveland is Apr. 7, 12:00 pm, Cleveland State University, University Center (E.22nd and Euclid Ave.) Room UC1.

    For more information on the Toledo event call (419) 944-5327 or for the Cleveland event call (216) 481-6671 or email

    * A play on the 1993 prison rebellion and the sham trials that followed is being presented in 7 Ohio cities starting April 11, which is the date in which the uprising broke out 14 years ago. It is entitled “Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising” after the book by the same name by Attorney Staughton Lynd (available at The play is to be presented in Portsmouth, Cincinnati, Toledo, Andover, Columbus, Athens, Cleveland, and Youngstown. Ticket information is available at (216) 472-2209 or

    *Tell Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio to overturn the convictions of all prisoners with charges related to the Lucasville rebellion. Tell him to halt executions in Ohio. Write to him at Riffe Center, 77 S. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215-6108; fax him at (614) 466-9354 or call him at (614) 644-4357, or email him at


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