Who’s heard of this one then? A belting hurrah for anybody that’s acquainted, but the chances are that this excellent 2011 production never even hit your radar. It’s not hard to see why certain parties would like it to remain as marginal as possible. Despite significant acclaim, award nominations & narration from Samuel Jackson, it remains in phantom mode.
And so, in an environment already overgrown with extremes & spilling-over with injustices, another expansion & foul-faced contender for the worst example available shambles out of the atrocity pile-up. it’s the case of the so called “Angola 3” (Herman Wallace, Robert King & Alfred Woodfox), a group of Black Panthers who were framed for the murder of prison guard Brent Miller in 1972 whilst incarcerated in the notorious Angola prison camp in Louisiana. It’s one of the worst stitch-ups on record, an absolute super-shambles of overlooked evidence, blatantly false testimonies, contradiction, error & aberration, all under extreme prejudice falsification & wrongfully malicious persecution. Even worse were the results that were exacted after this peek-farce was passed – all three men were charged with the murder & sent into solitary confinement..INDEFINITELY!
what an extraordinary desecration of justice. Not to worry, the wheels of American justice quickly came to the rescue right? I mean right? A million miles away. Robert King spent over 29! Yes that’s 29! – years in closed cell restriction (CCR) solitary confinement! 29 years! Herman got out only a few years back, after completing something like 40 years in CCR (he died shortly after) & Alfred got out about two years ago. Yes! really! today! in America! They were finally proved innocent, or rather their blatant & already proven innocence was finally deemed ‘acceptable’ by the state & they were released (after concerted & growing pressure from a whole body of national & global campaigners). Oh! & the crux of the conviction came from the witness testimony of another inmate, Hezekiah Brown, who was “legally blind, mentally retarded” and serving time for “multiple rapes”. He was later released for his help in framing the 3. So a lying mentally retarded serial rapist was released whilst three innocent soldiers of truth were languishing in CCR ‘indefinitely for a crime they very clearly were not responsible for (leaving the real perpetrators at large). This tells us a great deal about the country in question.
Where, do you even start to deal with such irremissible fucking evil??? How can you even factor, measure, sum-up, acknowledge the sheer breadth of top-tier malignancy??? Does the worst, and I mean the very worst, of what the world holds in all its history books, in all the terrorism, war, oppression, exploitation and wrongdoing scale-up to something of such mind-bending wrongness??? Which era? Which country? Who exactly? The American state. Indelibility….the gravest offense, immortalized in a country that likes to call itself “Land of the Free”.
Here’s what else you can take from this documentary, & that, amazingly, possesses as much magnitude as the depravity that America has perpetrated against these human beings – all three men, in a truly epic amongst epic example of human endurance & strength, managed to remain sane & even positive under such exponential cruelty. It is mind-blowing. The descriptions of their confinement (just the most devastating dungeon shit you have ever heard) polarized by their astonishing civility, joviality, grace & strength. Its Olympic.
It does not seem to be enough for America to have 5% of the world’s population but have 25% of the world’s prisoners. It is a business. A commercial norm…jailing its own people in a modern day penal-corporate-slavery. This is America & how it feeds on its own people..it’s true face/incontestable ground-zero reality behind all the freedom/wide-open road/dreaming/wild frontier shit-splatter that’s supposed to mask it’s inner hell-scapes. But it has to go further, not just jailing world record numbers of its own people, not only having the worst jail conditions in the western world but also outdoing even the developing world & everywhere else with record numbers in solitary confinement in uniquely severe conditions. As one of the Angola 3’s lawyers remarked (& this is back in 2011 or earlier), its growing! Chumps comment about “shit hole countries”… that definition could not be more applicable to America. It takes the world title, by miles, for its treatment of its prisoners. Nowhere else is this callous, perverse, insane, sick, twisted, inhuman. Even the people I hate most in the world, I would never wish this on anybody ever. There are fates worse than death, but this is just obscene. I would not wish it on any creature. Its literally a ‘crime against life’ itself. Even in concept. Indefensible.
Aside from some really terrible background music (all weepy clarinets, & emotionally coercing tawdry junk), this is a very well-constructed & produced documentary. Away from the actual case the Angola 3, there’s loads of archive footage & interviews with survivors of Angola, lawyers etc that are of immense value. The case was absolutely horrendous as you will see, but also, Angola itself & its conditions were absurd. The rape & violence customs (which was facilitated by prison staff) is fucking harrowing with some very frank & hard-to-the-core accounts from a previous inmate.
Woodfox (& I would heavily suspect Robert King too) remains a very vociferous campaigner to ending the USA’s unique practice of this horrific torture.
A phenomenal documentary that needs to be seen by all.
2011, Golden Circle, the Mob, Yesterday Films