Long live Hugo Pinell, who showed us the power of the human spirit, that love can survive and overpower hell on earth.
Beloved political prisoner Hugo ‘Yogi Bear’ Pinell, feared and hated by guards, assassinated in Black August after 46 years in solitary
Black August adds another hero and martyr to the roll.
By some accounts, it was his first day on the yard after 46 years in solitary confinement when Hugo Pinell, affectionately known as Yogi Bear, was assassinated Aug. 12. The news sparked a victory celebration by prison guards on social media: “May he rot in hell” and “Good riddens” (sic), they typed. Yogi was the only member of the San Quentin 6 still in prison, and his role in the events of Aug. 21, 1971, the day George Jackson was assassinated, has earned the guards’ incessant enmity ever since.
“This is revenge,” declared his close friend, fellow Black Panther veteran Kiilu Nyasha, on Hard Knock Radio Aug. 13. “They hated him as much as George Jackson. They beat him constantly, kept him totally isolated for 46 years – no window, no sunlight – but they could never break him, and that’s why they hated him.
“The only way he survived was that this man was full of love.” ….
Please read more of this excellent SF Bay View article
which includes “The Black Panther Party and Hugo Pinell” from The Black Panther newspaper of Nov. 29, 1971
….Hugo became a part of the Prison Liberation Movement, which saw the prison as a front of struggle connected to the global upsurge of oppressed people against colonialism, imperialism, and white supremacy. This was a period of intense education, organizing, and resistance among imprisoned people—some locked up as political prisoners, some transformed while inside, nearly all targeted by prison administrations for their political stances and activism. In 1971, Hugo, along with 5 other prisoners at San Quentin State Prison in California, were charged with raising a rebellion at the facility’s Adjustment Center, during which prisoner movement leader George Jackson was assassinated. Several weeks later, actions commemorating the assassination of Jackson by prisoners at Attica went on to spark the massive rebellion at that prison. The story and political trial of the San Quentin Six helped people across the planet to understand the conditions inside prison, the resistance of prisoners, and the connection across the walls that the Prison Liberation Movement was trying to make.
Hugo Pinell would go on to spend over 40 years in the solitary confinement units used to punish prisoners and break up their social, political, and religious organizations—indeed, Pinell was the longest held prisoner in solitary confinement in California, before recently being released into the general population. Despite the torturous conditions of solitary, Hugo remained steadfast politically, and tried to stay connected to people and struggle, inside and outside the prison. Hugo participated in the recent California Prison Hunger Strikes and was vocal supporter of prisoners’ 2011 Agreement To End Racial Hostilities. In his late 60s while on hunger strike, Hugo talked about his activism with journalist Kilu Nyasha:
Hugo Pinell- Rest in Power
August 13, 2015 by Claude Marks
We are saddened by the news of Hugo Pinell’s death. Hugo Pinell always expressed a strong spirit of resistance. He worked tirelessly as an educator and activist to build racial solidarity inside of California’s prison system. ….
….As the California Prisons began to lock people up in long-term isolation and control unit facilities, Hugo was placed inside of the SHU (Secure Housing Unit) in prisons including Tehachapi, Corcoran and Pelican Bay. There, despite being locked in a cell for 23 hours a day, he continued to work for racial unity and an end to the torturous conditions and racially and politically motivated placement of people into the SHU. This work included his participation in the California Prison Hunger Strikes as well as supporting the Agreement to End Racial Hostilities in 2012.
At the time of his death, Hugo had been locked behind bars for 50 years yet his spirit was unbroken.
Please read the full writing, Hugo Pinell- Rest In Power
Here is a link to the Freedom Archives San Quentin 6 collection
brief poem by Luis ‘Bato’ Talamantez
Hasta Siempre Hugo
And we are saddened
You when (it) should have
Counted for something and
What your long imprisoned
Life stood for
Now all your struggles
To be free have failed
And only death an
Inglorious and violent
At the hands of the
Cruel prison system
La Luta Continua
-Bato and the San Quentin 3
A short poem written by Hugo Pinell from a publication issued in 1995.
How long it takes,
Real Changes will come,
And the greatest personal reward
Lies in our involvement and contributions,
Even if it may appear that nothing significant
Or of impact really happened
During our times,
But it did,
Every sincere effort
Is as special as every human life
-Hugo Pinell (1995)