Report from the Huntsville Prison Barricades
By Travis Morales
Revolutionary Worker #1061, July 1, 2000
For the last 25 years I have been a revolutionary communist, a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party. For 25 years I have dedicated my life to preparing for the day when millions of people can rise up, guns in hands, and make revolution, overthrowing this system. And I thought I knew all the reasons why the system needs to be overthrown.
But Shaka Sankofa has given me the 1,000,001th reason to overthrow U.S. imperialism. With their hundreds of Texas Department of Criminal (In)Justice guards, Texas Rangers, Huntsville Police, Walker County Sheriff's Deputies, FBI, ATF, and who knows what other pigs, with their shotguns, rifles, and riot gear, all to protect their right to legally lynch Shaka Sankofa - the ruling class taught us once again a profound lesson. As the great Chinese revolutionary Mao Tsetung told us, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."
I joined with hundreds of people who went to Huntsville determined to stop the execution. At 5:55 p.m., five minutes before the scheduled execution, one of the barricades came down and people raced for the front doors of the Death House. A large red flag and a large anarchist black flag flew through the air in alliance. The police freaked. They rushed to raise the barricade back up and keep back more people who were trying to break through.
Over 1,000 people had answered the call from Shaka and the Gary Graham/ Shaka Sankofa Justice Coalition to resist. "I place my faith in people's ability to stand up and confront this injustice, this situation is bigger than me," Shaka had said. People were pounding on the barricade and trying to pull it back down. Six youth and two of us older people were arrested and taken to the Walker County Jail. After we were taken away, the crowd burned a Texas flag. Later the New Black Panther Party and New Black Muslim Movement showed up with their guns, attracting a big crowd of Black youth. Some of the Black nationalists burned an American flag. And finally, the effigy of George Bush went up in flames. This whole scene was a glimpse of the revolutionary future.
We were welcomed by the prisoners at the jail. In the women's tank, the prisoners were watching the non-stop TV coverage of the demonstrations. When the women protesters came in, they were immediately recognized. The prisoners told them, "It's so wrong for the system to be killing him.... You don't understand how we feel. That's our brother there that they're killing. That's our brother that they just murdered." The women said that they were honored to have the resisters in the cell with them. When the six-minute statement Shaka made right before his execution was excerpted on TV, the women listened attentively. Three times they repeated his statement, "You can kill a revolutionary but you can't stop the revolution" - at which point the women's hands went up in the air as they yelled, "Right on brother, tell it brother." They were very uplifted by what he said.
In the men's tank the TV had been taken out two days before the execution. When the first protester walked in and told the other prisoners why he was there, they said, "We've been hearing about that. What's going on? Did they kill him? Did they kill him?" They said, "That sucks. That happens all the time. People getting railroaded." When another protester came in the tank they'd yell, "Alright, another protester!" and ask for another update, saying, "Did they kill him?" People were calling relatives on the outside asking what they saw on TV. They got really excited when they heard reports of people burning flags. That put the cell block into an uproar. "Burn flags, burn flags, fuck it."
Shaka fought the enforcers physically and with his words to his very last breath, calling on the people to make revolution. He set a standard of determined resistance in his life and his death for all to follow. And even as he lay dying, his revolutionary optimism and faith in the people shone through. Shaka was an inspiration and a teacher for many.
It is one more crime of U.S. imperialism that young Black men have to go to prison to learn about the history of their people. Shaka became a revolutionary in prison. And he put his trust in the masses of people. We must learn from him. Though the system has stolen him from us, in the process they have forced open the eyes of many to the reality of the U.S. Death Machine that routinely railroads Black people to execution. The U.S. words of human rights stand exposed as words of hypocrisy around the world as blood drips from their lips. And more, the hearts of the youth have been filled with a fire to overthrow this beast. Execute the slave master, not the slave, hasten capitalism to its grave. Long live Shaka Sankofa!
Travis Morales, Houston, Texas
June 25, 2000
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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