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Hasan Shakur on Death Row

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    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 4, 2006
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      "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.

      Hasan Shakur: A Maroon on Death Row
      By Walidah Imarisha
      San Francisco Independent Media Center
      Wednesday 30 August 2006

      I am sitting in my rented Chevy Equinox outside of the Polunsky
      Unit, in Livingston, Texas. It's 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 web site 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 member 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 the 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."


      * http://www.hasanshakur.com

      * Office of Texas Governor Perry: phone: (512) 463-1782 / fax:
      (512) 463-1849



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