I Know My Destiny

I KNOW MY DESTINY

My name is Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, s/n R. N. Dewberry. I am a fifth generation of New Afrikan people whom were kidnapped from the continent of Mother Afrika and delivered to the shores of Babylon—North Amerika, by force, in chains and against our will. And, yes, we have never ever stopped fighting for our liberation to regain a true sense of freedom, justice and new Afrikan nationhood. But, “I know my destiny,” to fulfill the many responsibilities as a manchild in brotherhood, in manhood and in fatherhood which many of my righteous elders were attempting to pass on to me.

I was compelled to learn many important lessons in life, based upon harsh, personal experienced. As a very young child, I was told many stories about my grandmothers, father, aunts, uncles and past/present extended family. The members of my family tree were born during the mid-1600s on up to the present.

The Black Reconstruction Movement, Harlem Black Renaissance, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the Afrikan Blood Brotherhood, and a number of similar self-help organizations, were actively coming together to ‘take a stand’. The purpose of these organizations was to try to resist the many life-destroying conditions of white racism, terrorism and domestic colonial domination, and fight to keep alive our true sense of ancestral identity—as a new Afrikan community struggling to rebuild a collective sense of nationhood.

Several members of our family grew up in association, embracing the doctrines of Marcus Garvey’s (U.N.I.A.). These doctrines were based upon/around Garvey’s 54-point platform and the Baptist Christian faith that sought to teach our people that we must seek to regain a strong sense of ethnic (Black/Afrikan) pride, self-worth, moral values, self-help programs, culture, self-protection, collective unity and self-determination.

Still, as a young child, I didn’t know my destiny, nor did I understand the historical wisdom that was being shared with me. I continued to follow many of the same incorrect fads/ways, as most other Black children of my generation.

When I was a youth, during the mid-60’s and mid-70’s, I continued to hear more stories about our family tree. During this period of my life, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X (N.O.I.) and the Black Panther Party had established a strong base of influence in the Oakland, California community which was my ‘stomping grounds’ as a teenager. The Black Muslim community embraced a 20-point platform which sought to teach Black people that we already possessed both the power and a duty to take control of our lives and future. And, we must learn how to organize and do for  ourselves. We can never ever expect or depend upon the white racist, the government and related white settler communities to do what is necessary to heal and uplift our Black race.

These family elders/community elders sought to aid my transformation into a young follower of the Christian faith, of the Nation of Islam, of the Black Nationalist[s], in an effort to help me learn a stronger sense of self-knowledge, self-discipline and a Black community value system to which my parents were the primary educators. But, also, as a young Black child, who had endured the devastating personal tragedy of losing my father at an early age in my life!

Once again, I was not always ready to make the correct choices in life. I continued to follow a road that would lead me through many precarious trials and tribulations.

By the time I reached age 22 (the time of arrest on my original 1980 case), I found that I was wholly trapped by an ongoing tug-a-war between the many, many, many positive forces that were in my family life, extended family life and the multitude of negative forces which plague every level of modern day Babylon. These wars were waging a life and death battle to determine what would be my future destiny. Unfortunately, a number of wicked forces prevailed after a brief trip down the ‘fast lane’ of illegal drugs, easy women, quick money and destructive Black-on-Black crime.

I became the target of a combined government-organized crime/anti-drug task force and as a part of a calculated ‘divide-and-conquer’ strategy. I was arrested for the charge of first-degree murder of which I was not guilty. I was specifically threatened by government police agents if I did not agree to become a State witness for the prosecution and afford court testimony against a list of alleged Black drug kingpins and their network of operations, it would be very easy to take steps to ensure that I would be prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to the California prison system for the remainder of my natural life. Fortunately, I have always been taught by my family, extended family and our Black community, that it is wholeheartedly unacceptable for any person to act as a ‘snitch’ for the white police agencies. So, I steadfastly refused to agree to become a State informant.

Unfortunately, the white police agents were also true to their word. As punishment for my refusal to cooperate in major felony criminal investigations, I was ‘railroaded’ by a white racist and corrupt injustice system. I was falsely convicted of a murder I did not commit. I was sentenced to serve life in prison for first-degree murder. And, even though I was not always ready to face the many difficult twists and turns of my life, I knew that I was facing an ordeal that would change my entire life and future.

I respectfully ask for your assistance in helping me correct this miscarriage of justice that I am suffering. My case is another perfect example of the judicial system gone bad. The evidence in my case clearly demonstrates my innocence. In fact, the person guilty has provided sworn testimony in Open Court that he committed the offense and that I had no involvement in the incident. I have been confined since 1980 for the case and I feel if I am given some help from your office/organization, the judicial misconduct will not go unchecked. I have all the legal documents to show the merits of my innocence, yet, I am still being held because of financial constraints won’t permit me to get the attention needed to get a fair review on the State and Federal levels. I am sure your office is swamped  with many different responsibilities and assignments, yet I plead with you to help me correct this wrong. You must know, as I do, that the law is applied unequally when it comes to poor Black/Afrikan men in this country (U.S.)!

When I first arrived in San Quentin State Prison (S.Q.) in September 1981, I was confronted by a deep rooted test of faith. On the one hand, I had sought to re-establish my prior relationship and training of being the protector of my people (Afrikans) which was taught at an early age to me by my parents,  being that I was a prison activist and a follower of the N.O.I. – an effort to restore my life to a more proper balance. But, the Muslim community within the California prison system had had been ordered by Walace Deen Muhammad, years prior to my entering S.Q., which had caused a split in the Black Muslim community (inside/outside) of prison that we must embrace a position of non-violence unless a member of our Muslim community was confronted by violence only. On the other hand, I had been born and raised within a Black community in which all Black lives were deeply valued. An act of disrespect, racial violence or bloodshed of any Black human being must be strictly enforced by a correct military response.

A series of violent racial wars broke out within the California prison system and numerous of my fellow Black Prisoners were being stabbed, shot and killed on a regular basis. On June 19, 1982, I was faced with a life or death situation to become a casualty of war during a racial riot (war) or become a beacon to my fellow (Afrikaan Brothers) prisoners and defend myself and my people. History can tell us now, that on June 19, 1982, I was shot five (5) times on my left side of my body from head to feet by one (1) prison gun rail guard carrying a shotgun. But, this guard had reached for his 38 revolver and if it wasn’t for his supervisor yelling at him, it is reasonable to say, this correctional officer would have killed me on June 19, 1982 on San Quentin’s upper yard. I was compelled to make the correct choice to embrace a position of Active Resistance (Activist).

During this time, there were numerous killings, stabbings on a regular basis, in Kalifornia prison system, to which the New Afrikan Klass dealt with all opposition effectively!

During 1981 to 1986, as a direct result of various events, the N.O.I/Black Muslim community within the California prison system, we became isolated and gradually reducing in size. We were no longer able to effectively fulfil our chosen mission. Therefore, my Afrikan spirit was moved to end my active membership, specifically with the Black Muslim community. I began to undergo a revolutionary transformation, which would afford me to complete my self-development as a New Afrikan man who is willing to commit my life to the liberation of our Afrikan people: to protect, serve and continue our protracted liberation struggle to rebuild our Afrikan family and entire New Afrikan nation.

I know my destiny! To uphold our traditional responsibilities as a New Afrikan manhood, brotherhood and fatherhood. With the passage of time, I have come to appreciate the fact that in spite of the very wicked events by the Kalifornia Department of Korrection (KDK) against Black Afrikan prisoners, which resulted in my protracted 33 years of captivity, I am the living seed of my New Afrikan foremothers, forefathers, perseverant family tree.

On July 9, 1987, Kalifornia Department of Korrection (KDK) and its prison Kalifornia Korrectional Institution, IV-A made their attempt to destroy this freedom fighter—physically, and mentally by shooting eight (8) 38MM stun guns, three (3) Taser darts. It was clear to me that the KDK wanted this freedom fighter to be featured in the local newspaper as another subjected to electronic torture by a Taser or murdered by the improper and unauthorized use of mechanical weapons. If it was not for the ancestral spirits of the freedom fighters proceeding my time, such as M. Garvey, Nina, W.L. Nolen, W. Christmas, G.L. Jackson, J. “Khatari” Gaulden, A. Powell, Arthur “Fly” Harris, C. Causey and Malcolm X, I would have been added to the long list of freedom fighters. Review the California Eastern District Court No. CIVF-90-0494 0WW-GGH-P, and you can also review the second Civil case this freedom fighter (FF) had to file against the KDK for their attempts to maim for life or murder me (#CIVF-96-5962-0WW-SMS-P) both out of the District same court. Based upon the fact of being outspoken against KDK and educating all Afrikan prisoners of how the U.S. Government is without justice when the laws are applied toward my people (Afrikans).

I am a liberator of my people’s minds, bodies and souls! Therefore, KDK has held me in solitary confinement for the past 28 [35] years for my political beliefs and spiritual morality as a “New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist” (NARN). I shall never be found among the broken men of my era! I now know my destiny. In a very bold technique and political campaign directed to enlighten the people (prisoners) about the police brutality, inadequate health care, inadequate housing, mis-education, Afrikan-on-Afrikan crimes, etc., it is through action that an organizer or revolutionary can uplift and enhance the consciousness of the Afrikan masses at large are said conspicuous injustices and oppressed conditions and try to be that exemplified and influential to encourage the people to fully contribute their … of expediency to serve within the framework of our political, economical, social, cultural and military sacrifices to our people.

KDK has labeled me as a member of the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) and used that as a means to lock me up in SHU/Control Unit for the past 30+ years [since May 15, 1985]. In order to silence me from educating other Afrikan prisoners, but during my 30+ years of solitary confinement, I have continued to educate my people! Thirty years ago, KDK offered me a way out of the Control Unit to which I proudly rejected their wicked offer to return back to the general population.

If I undergo their “debriefing,” to which I have refused to do for the past 30+ years, and shall not change my mind!!! I ask myself, “What weight does customs hold under the law?” For though it may be termed “debriefing,” using a euphemism does not change what it is: betraying a confidence, committing an act of treachery for personal gain. Considering how our community in the U.S. was brought into being and considering the command and control needs which existed from the ‘get-go,’ if any community has a historical aversion to stoolies, tattlers, rats and the like, isn’t it ours?

As stated in Brother L.Bennett Jr.’s book, page 97: “Before the Mayflower recounts an incident from the mid-eighteen hundreds, where a slave named Jim, who killed a slave named Isaac for ‘betraying him after his escape in Tennessee. The judge at the trial noted that one of their own color, subject to a life of servitude, should abandon the interests of his caste, and betray black folks to the white people, rendered him an object of general aversion.”

Therefore, I shall die before my tormentors (KDK/U.S. government) turn this freedom fighter into a debriefer.

It is my ancestral deity and personal responsibility to act as a proud beacon of new Afrikan manhood, brotherhood and fatherhood. And, from this day, until the day I die, I shall always be ready to keep fighting/struggling and liberating the mental chains from our people’s minds, to fulfill my chosen purpose in life. I now know my destiny!

Comrad Sitawa

Pelikan Bay New Afrikan Kollektive
Pelican Bay / Prisoner Human Rights Movement
N.C.T.T. Chairman

Contact this liberation:

Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa
s/n R. N. Dewberry, C-35671
CCI-4B-7C-209
P.O. Box 1906
Tehachapi, CA 93581

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Injustice Runs Deep

In: SF Bay View, September 27, 2013

by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

I am a 55-year-old New Afrikan man. I came to prison in 1980 for a first degree murder that I did not commit. The prosecutor, judge, victim’s family and my family know that I did not commit this murder. How is it that I can say it as a matter of fact? Because the actual killer confessed to the murder during the trial, did the time for the murder and he has since been released in 1986.

Sitawa2pics

Two photos of Sitawa show him in 1988 and 2012. – Photo: Adithya Sambamurthy, CIR

But because I wouldn’t give up information on an alleged drug dealer that the Oakland police wanted to take down, I was also charged for this crime and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law although everyone involved knew I was innocent. This is Amerika’s justice.

I was then sent off to one of the many CDCR prisons. I ended up, 22 years of age, young and very innocent and never been into any trouble with the law or involved with any criminal activity prior to being sent to one of the most violent prisons in the U.S., and there I was forced to make my own way.

Prison guards do not save or protect prisoners despite all the hype around the safety and security of the institution, nor do the police protect the average Amerikan or New Afrikan in the free world. People are literally on their own where there exist all kinds of predators. We all are prey and predators. I was a young man who was looked upon as prey and, in order for me to survive in an environment where my life was in constant danger, I had to learn the ways of a predator and it is this understanding that allowed me to survive.

But being that I came from a home where my mother was a follower of Martin Luther King Jr. and John Kennedy and my father was a follower of Marcus Garvey, violence was not and has never been a part of my household or something that I chose to indulge myself in. I know how to defend myself where there lurks danger, but preying on prisoners was something I personally despised, so I became someone who could help prisoners improve their lives!

I have never had a violent history nor do I aspire to have a violent future.

Since I had some schooling and my mother was a school teacher, I became a teacher, but behind these prison walls. I started educating some of the many prisoners who were given outrageous times by racist judicial proceedings for petty drug charges, three strikes laws – gang members who could not read or write nor understand some of the simplest curriculums.

My civilization was realized through my education, and I don’t care what anyone says; I’ve seen many, if not countless, prisoners change their lives and I have been privileged to have a hand in some of those changes. I have never been in no gang and never had the desire to be in any gang, but I understand their situation: Many of these individuals were born into these gang cultures in some of the harshest conditions. Just like when I lost my freedom, snatched off the streets and placed in the deadliest prison for a crime – murder – I did not commit.

But prison officials did not like the fact that I was contributing to the growth and development – education – of many prisoners and I am talking across the board: Whites, New Afrikans, Mexicans, Latinos, Asians etc. I have never had a violent history nor do I aspire to have a violent future.

I was locked up in solitary confinement because of my ability to educate prisoners successfully. Yes, I have been held in solitary confinement for the last 29 years because I am an “educated nigger” in the eyes of my captors.

My captors use gang labeling as a justification for subjecting prisoners in solitary confinement to cruel and unusual punishment – torture. For the 14,000 prisoners in solitary confinement, CDCR gets $70,000 a head annually to hold prisoners inside administration segregation units and security housing units and only $50,000 for holding prisoners on general population (GP). This is a waste because each and every one of us can program on general population. Yet we are deemed unable to program because CDCR officials do not want to lose any money they get for holding prisoners in solitary confinement.

People like Debra J. Saunders of San Francisco Chronicle speak from a position of ignorance or she’s a conspirator toward exploiting taxpayers out of their tax dollars. She generally casts her criticism based on information she has not investigated. So when she made a statement without taking the time to get the inside story of the individuals she spoke to, it’s obvious that she practices junk journalism, where people attempt to pop-off at the mouth to make a name for themselves off the backs of others’ pain and suffering regardless of their innocence.

She can care less that I am the one who has been subjected to many injustices by the state and continue to suffer at the hand of the state. Ms. Saunders believes that it is justifiable for me to be held in solitary confinement for the politics I chose to believe in, although I have not committed not one violent act or criminal act nor have I been associated with any rules violation reports (RVRs).

I was locked up in solitary confinement because of my ability to educate prisoners successfully.

I have been held in solitary confinement for 29 years, and if you think this is right, then the problem is people like yourself, which is what’s wrong with this country. It is the same mentality of the torturers: Gov. E.G. Brown, Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard and state Attorney General Kamala Harris. Ms. Saunders takes prisoners’ post-convictions that occurred over 20 years ago and re-prosecutes prisoners who are serving time for their alleged crimes.

To use their post-convictions to justify why they should be subjected to torture goes against everything this country supposedly stands for. This is still a nation of laws, isn’t it? Or do our captors get to arbitrarily persecute us however they see fit, whenever they want to?

Ms. Saunders, none of us were sentenced to torture. While I know you believe all the people in prison are criminals as long as they have been convicted, you do not know what are the circumstances that led to the alleged incidents in respect to the four [main hunger strike] representatives. You are speaking from a position of ignorance because you know no one and have no desire to meet any of us, especially since your interests stem from pure greed for prestige.

I know all these men and all of them have become my personal friends – men who, for over 30 years, were seen as my adversaries. This in itself is change. I’ve spent the last 13 years with these men and some longer, and I see their humanity every day. We’ve talked endlessly about many subjects that pertain to our livelihood and how we can, as men, improve on our lives and the lives of our fellow human beings – prisoners.

None of us were sentenced to torture.

Ms. Saunders, you know the system once said I was only three fifths of a human being and it was not true. They will not always tell you the truth. There were no weapons of mass destruction. The bill giving the media access to prisons and prisoners was vetoed by Gov. Brown so they can continue to control the narrative, always.

We are also clear here: CDCR officials cannot protect no one nor do they desire to. CDCR has for the last 40 years murdered, beaten and tortured prisoners while given immunity. Gov. Brown is continuing CDCR’s legacy. He clearly knows what is going on and what’s been going on and has no desire to end it.

Torture. Prisoners are the victims of state-sanctioned torture and any Amerikan or New Afrikan citizen who wants the facts to when, where and how CDCR has deliberately murdered prisoners, beaten prisoners and tortured prisoners in solitary confinement, I will personally give you a breakdown of these atrocities, historical and current.

This current strike is not about our captors; it is about prisoners and the civil and human rights afforded to us by the Constitution of the “USA.” The blatant violations of the Constitution when it comes to prisoners’ First, Eighth and 14th Amendment rights are a direct result of a society that has gone lawless and government’s abusing the powers they have been entrusted to use in the name of the people.

We prisoners fight for our justice because no one else will fight our cause.

Resist, resist and liberate

I hear demagogues go on their vicious attacks about how violent prisoners held in solitary confinement are, yet we are actually the role model prisoners, if there is such a title. Many of us have sat in these tombstones back here under concerted torture while correctional officers have violated and disrespected us routinely, subjecting us to physical and psychological torment each day we have been back here.

Photo: Occupy San Quentin Marie Levin, Sitawa’s sister, speaking 022012-4 by Bill Hackwell, web

Sitawa’s sister, Marie Levin, speaking here at Occupy San Quentin, a large rally outside the San Quentin gates on Feb. 20, 2012, has become a leading spokesperson in the struggle for justice for her brother and everyone in solitary confinement. – Photo: Bill Hackwell

We have collectively opted to refrain from any violence – even though CDCR has been very violent toward us! Especially when they took a mentally ill New Afrikan prisoner and forced him into boiling hot water, then laughed about it, saying, “He’ll be a white boy now,” as his skin fell from his flesh. [See the AP story dated Sept. 18, 1993, on the trial that first revealed the torture of Vaughn Dortch.]

I witnessed this with my own eyes. This was an insidious, racist attack that was unprovoked by prisoners. So we have been very disciplined, and this is just one of many attacks prisoners have suffered.

The “gang shot-caller or leader” rhetoric is a farce. One thing CDCR does well is label its prisoners as gang members or associates. Of everyone in solitary, 85 percent have been given a gang title; of the 137,000 prisoners in California, 11,600 are labeled as gang members or associates.

CDCR throws gang titles around to dehumanize prisoners to the public; that is why they label everyone. You’ve got to seek the truth. There are 14,000 prisoners held in solitary confinement. There are 3,000 who prison officials say are gang leaders or generals.

They say everyone they hold in solitary confinement is the most violent of prisoners. We are the masterminds, they say, but they cannot show the public anything but rhetoric. No violence, no criminal gang acts committed by these gang leaders or generals who are supposed to control or “lead.”

The “gang shot-caller or leader” rhetoric is a farce.

They try to use hype and old alleged incidents in order to propagate to the public. With all the rhetoric, one would think they could show and tell, but it’s all hype. And we prisoners have to dispel these lies because it’s done to pull the wool over the public’s eyes in order to win their support.

I am one of the four representatives. When CDCR uses a violent act to denigrate my character, they generalize and go back 40 years, as did Secretary Beard. Why do you think he referred to the 1970s in order to speak to violence he alleges we are associated with? Because he has no evidence. I wasn’t even in prison in the 1970s, nor were any of the other four representatives.

Then he went to the streets when he tried to link us to violence, because he had no record of any violence inside prisons. So he associates us with whatever violence he can out there! Those allegations are placed on us, but we’re never charged or prosecuted. They just use it to propagate to the public that we’re the worst of the worst.

The public needs to know we are under more scrutiny than those held in Guantanamo Bay. Our isolation has been for up to 43 years for the longest held prisoners, for me 29 years and others 10, 20, 30 years straight for only being validated as a gang member or associate.

There is NO VIOLENCE! The CDCR lied when they said we are violent men. Our lockups are “administrative lockups,” not in response to violence. They can show NO Rules Violation Reports – disciplinary reports. We have not committed any offenses to be placed in solitary confinement.

Allegations are placed on us, but we’re never charged or prosecuted. They just use it to propagate to the public that we’re the worst of the worst.

The prison gang officers screen our incoming and outgoing mail. They do not allow us to have phone calls. We sit in our tombstone 23 hours a day, if not 24.

There is no way any of us could do what CDCR is charging that we did, if we even wanted to. Their lies are not about your safety and security. They are about your hard-earned tax dollars. They have prisoners they hold in solitary confinement that they know are going home sooner or later, but they won’t let them out on a prison yard because they’re “too dangerous,” according to them. But it’s cool to release them back into the public after they have been subjected to years of torture.

So much for the public safety. Wouldn’t it be safer to allow a prisoner to program in a social atmosphere inside the prison in order to get him or her out of that isolated anti-social state? Plus, if we are to be tormented each day of our lives, why won’t the state just murder us? Why hold us back here under these torturous conditions?

We’re not animals, although we’re treated like animals. We’re not savages, although we’re treated like savages. The issue is that we are a commodity – a surplus – and CDCR is profiting off our lives and using violence as a premise to justify it.

This is why Gov. Brown keeps the media out of the prisons. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Ombudsman and Internal Affairs will never investigate against their own interests. They get paid because of prisons and prisoners’ placement in them.

We had the OIG Chief Deputy Rusty Davis walk the tier talking about he’s here to check on the hunger strikers. When people made complaints, he disregarded them, nor did he take one note. He just wanted to look at us. He had no interest in our suffering, nor did he care to see any facts in relation to our situation.

We’re not animals, although we’re treated like animals. We’re not savages, although we’re treated like savages. The issue is that we are a commodity – a surplus – and CDCR is profiting off our lives and using violence as a premise to justify it.

He used this opportunity to reacquaint himself with his old prison official colleagues. There were countless complaints he could have looked into, but he refused to do his job. This is what’s wrong with this system: no checks and balances.

The CDCR is run where all personnel fail to uphold their responsibility, which is why the system is self-destructing from the inside out. We can only do what we’re doing to secure our lives from such torture. Peacefully resist … Resist …

In struggle,

Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa

Sitawa is one of the four main prisoner representatives who called for the peaceful protest that began in 2011 and resumed July 8, 2013, with 30,000 participants.