Herman Wallace of the Angola 3—Full of Courage and Revolutionary Spirit to the End

October 4, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Herman Wallace, one of the Angola 3

Herman Wallace, one of Angola 3.

Herman Wallace, one of the Angola 3, has died. A message on Herman’s Facebook page on October 4 read, “Herman Wallace has gone to the ancestors. He passed peacefully in the night surrounded by people who loved him. He spent his last free days in a safe comfortable home in New Orleans. His legacy continues in our hearts and our efforts.”

Herman had been in prison since 1971, most of that time at the infamous Angola prison farm in Louisiana, a former slave plantation on the banks of the Mississippi River. Herman Wallace spent 41 years in solitary confinement, caged for decades in the torture of a 6 foot by 9 foot cell.

Herman was one of the Angola 3—prisoners who were unjustly and wrongly convicted for the stabbing death of an Angola prison guard. The three—the other two are Robert Hillary King and Albert Woodfox—together have spent over 100 years in solitary for a crime they did not commit. All three have stood strong for decades in the face of sadistic and vengeful persecution by prison and judicial authorities in Louisiana. Robert King was released from prison in 2001 after 29 years in solitary when a judge overturned his conviction. Albert Woodfox is still in prison. His conviction for involvement in the guard’s death has been overturned three times, but each time the state of Louisiana has managed to keep him in prison, confined in the torment of solitary.

The Angola 3 were part of a generation of youth who became radicalized in their millions during the great upheavals of the 1960s. While in prison, the 3 became revolutionaries associated with the Black Panther Party. For the Louisiana prison authorities, this was their unforgiveable crime. The case against the Angola 3 was riddled with lies, inconsistencies, and fabrications. The state claimed it “lost” DNA evidence favorable to the 3. Bloody prints found at the scene of the killing do not match any of the 3. All 3 men had multiple witnesses who testified that each of them was far from the murder scene when the killing happened.

But they were convicted for murder, and punished relentlessly for their revolutionary conviction. The Angola warden justified the decades they spent in solitary in a court deposition: "Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace is locked in time with that Black Panther revolutionary actions they were doing way back when.” He said that if he released them to the general prison population, "I would have me all kinds of problems, more than I could stand.”

But the 3 never broke. Albert Woodfox spoke for all the 3 in the movie In the Land of the Free when he explained, “I thought that my cause, then and now, was noble. So therefore, they could never break me. They might bend me a little bit, they might cause me a lot of pain. They might even take my life. But they will never be able to break me.”

The state of Louisiana sought to punish Herman Wallace up to the moment of his death. A report on the New Orleans Times-Picayune website said that the District Attorney for West Feliciana Parish reindicted Herman for murder two days after he was released and went to a hospice in New Orleans to die. The D.A. was quoted as saying, “I say he is a murderer…”

Herman Wallace spent most of his life in one of the most brutal and racist prisons in this country. He was deprived of the most basic human contact, day after day, for 41 years. Over and over he was tormented by the sadistic, bottomless cruelty of this capitalist-imperialist system’s legal and police structures. But from his tiny cell in the depths of a prison deep in the Louisiana swamps, Herman’s enormous courage and unvanquished revolutionary spirit touched, inspired, and gave strength to countless people around the world. Three movies have been made about the Angola 3, and shown around the world. Thousands of people in many countries have rallied to their defense, and signed petitions for their release.

As he faced his death, Herman Wallace courageously released a final statement. “I want the world to know that I am an innocent man and that Albert Woodfox is innocent as well. We are just two of thousands of wrongfully convicted prisoners held captive in the American Gulag. We mourn for the family of Brent Miller (the murdered prison guard) and the many other victims of murder who will never be able to find closure for the loss of their loved ones due to the unjust criminal justice system in this country. We mourn for the loss of the families of those unjustly accused who suffer the loss of their loved ones as well.

“Only a handful of prisoners globally have withstood the duration of years of harsh and solitary confinement that Albert and myself have. The State may have stolen my life, but my spirit will continue to struggle along with Albert and the many comrades that have joined us along the way here in the belly of the beast.

“In 1970 I took an oath to dedicate my life as a servant of the people, and although I'm down on my back, I remain at your service. I want to thank all of you, my devoted supporters, for being with me to the end.”

Our revolutionary love, respect, and salutations go out to the memory and legacy of brother Herman Wallace.

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.