by Joe Veale | June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


In reading the May 23-29 issue of the Black-owned newspaper Los Angeles Sentinel, there was one article that especially jumped out and grabbed me, making my blood boil.

Photo: AP

The article is speaking about how with the passage of a new law, the state of California will now be notifying parents and guardians when their children are placed in the gang database.

What grabbed me in this way and I'm quoting from the article here: "In California, individuals can be added to the CalGang Database without being arrested or accused of a crime, based solely on interviews by police during routine stops. The CalGang Database is then used to add people to gang injunctions, support arguments for enhanced sentencing in court and disqualifying entire families from living in public housing."

And it goes on to say "Children as young as ten are included in this database..."

This is one of the ways that the school to prison pipeline begins. Today, there are close to 200,000 people in California prisons. There is an equivalent of this CalGang program in every major U.S. city, so that now there are over 2.4 million people locked up nationally, the majority of whom are Black and Latino. And THIS slow genocide is what the Stop Mass Incarceration Network is talking about and working to put an end to.

Photo: AP

I can't help but be reminded of what happened to some of my friends, as well as family members, who were sent to jail as children in the early 1960s. My 12-year-old brother was arrested and sent to California Youth Authority (CYA) for defending himself against a physical assault by a teacher in West Berkeley, a poor and Black neighborhood (see Bob Avakian's memoir From Ike to Mao and Beyond..." for a sense of segregated Berkeley of that time).

This was my brother's first encounter with the police. And it was the first time our whole family felt totally powerless as my grandmother and five of us kids all went to court, crying and pleading for my brother's release. Our anguished compassion and love for my brother meant nothing to the judge, who sent my brother away for a year. His life was over. He was raped and came out of CYA refusing to accept that we lived in poverty, and would go in and out of CYA on parole violations. At 18, my brother ended up taking his own life.

CH was one of my best friends who I knew since elementary school. By the time he was 10 years old, he was put into CYA "for fighting." His life was basically over from then on. He spent more time in CYA and state prison than on the streets. I ran into him in prison when we were both in our early 20s. I could still talk to him but it was clear that prison and its brutal treatment had robbed him of much of his humanity and his personality. One of their torments was to repeatedly promise him parole, and then renege for no real reason. I was the only person who could reach him because we grew up like brothers, but he was no longer the person I knew and loved.

During those years, any time I was also sent to county jail or prison, it would be more like an informal high school reunion. My brother and CH, like millions today trapped in America's INjustice system, have the potential to contribute so much, under a radically different society. But this will take a revolution.

So when BA asks the question at the start of his live talk BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! of "how long must this nightmare of oppression and brutality go on?", it makes me think of all this and also all the other great suffering of humanity all over the world.

But what's most significant today is that because of BA's new synthesis of communism, all this suffering is no longer necessary.


Editor's note: Joe Veale was actively involved as a member of the Black Panther Party in the revolutionary upsurge of the 1960s. He's a veteran comrade of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, having joined the Party in the 1970s.


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