Last nite after a day-long standoff between State authorities and a Federal Judge, Herman Wallace was finally released from prison, with only days, if not hours, to live.
Watch the tear jerker episode of Democracy Now here (Not sure how to embed this here). Below is an excerpt from the show:
AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re joined by one of the people who met Herman Wallace to deliver the news he would be released: fellow Angola Three member Robert King. Until Tuesday night, King was the only freed member of the Angola Three. He spent 29 years in solitary confinement for a murder he did not commit. He was released in 2001 after his conviction was overturned.
The third member of the Angola Three, Albert Woodfox, remains in prison at the David Wade Correctional Center in Homer, Louisiana. In recent months, he says he’s been subjected to strip searches and anal cavity searches as often as six times a day.
Robert King joins us from Austin, just back from visiting Wallace. In fact, he was the one who delivered the news to Herman Wallace that his conviction had been overturned.
Here in New York, we’re joined by Herman Wallace’s defense attorney, George Kendall.
But first we go directly to the New Orleans hospital where Herman Wallace lies. We’re joined by Jackie Sumell, the artist behind Herman’s House. She joined us on Monday in studio in New Orleans when Democracy Now! was broadcasting from there, broadcasting about the case of Herman Wallace, then still in prison. Now she joins us by phone at the bedside of Herman Wallace from the LSU—Louisiana State University—Medical Center, where Herman Wallace is now.
Jackie, can you talk about Herman’s condition at this point?
JACKIE SUMELL: Yeah, good morning, Amy. Herman has taken a turn for the worse. At about 3:00 in the morning, I got a phone call from one of the other supporters, who said, "You should come in." The doctors aren’t sure if his kidneys are also failing, as well as his liver. So I’ve been with him since 3:00. He’s not very—he’s able to speak a word, like if you move him around, he’ll yell or indicate that he’s uncomfortable, but he doesn’t seem to be cognizant in any other way. Yeah, it’s a really intense time right now. And it’s myself and a few other long-term supporters and his sister that are bedside with him.
AMY GOODMAN: Jackie, did he understand yesterday at the prison that he was being released?
JACKIE SUMELL: You’d have to ask George and King whether or not he understood it at the prison. I know that he did understand it last night when we had about a hundred supporters cheering him on, welcoming him home with banners and signs, chanting "Power to the people!" He was very cognizant then. You know, this turn for the worse happened, like I said, at about 2:30, 3:00 this morning.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s turn to Robert King, another member of the Angola Three. Robert King is free after 29 years. Albert Woodfox remains in prison. And, of course, as we said, Herman Wallace, in a complete surprise move of a federal judge, had his conviction overturned yesterday with a demand for his immediate release, which happened last night. Robert King, you were in prison with Herman Wallace visiting him to say your final goodbye as he lay dying of liver cancer. You delivered the news to him about the overturning of his conviction. How did Herman respond?
ROBERT KING: Thank you, Amy. Straight to the point, yes, of course, when we brought the news to Herman that he was being released, we had to do it in part, in bits and pieces. We only learned on our way to the prison from George Kendall, the head attorney, that Herman’s case had been overturned, and so we were a bit surprised, but we had some good news for him. And when I saw him, I saw, as Jackie indicated, he’s pretty—pretty bad; he’s in pretty bad shape. His body is failing him.
But I was there, Amy, you know, not so much as to witness his death, but, as you said, to also try to encourage him to hold on and to try to get him to recognize that his supporters, lawyers and all included were on board and trying to get him released from prison. And when we heard about this, we told him. And I think we managed to penetrate—we managed to penetrate and get to him the point that he would probably be released or could be released. I remember the lawyer on the way out telling Herman to hold on. And his word, which were the best words of the day, he said, "I will hold on. I’ll hold on. I’m going to hold on." And it was pretty touching.
And I do feel this, Amy, that he will hold on, in spite the fact that his body has failed and is failing him. I believe in—I still believe in miracles, and I believe we can perform miracles. People can perform miracles. And there are doctors among us who can perform miracles to deal with a situation such as this, and hopefully this is one of those times. Hopefully, it is not too late.
But in any case, Herman, whatever happen or whatever transpires, Herman will know one thing. I think he recognizes this, and he understood this and understands that there are many people, millions of people, who really love him and who support him, and they are by his side. And he feel that he has contributed in some way to the struggle, regardless of what happen. If Herman survive, he will continue to struggle. But if not, then his millions and legions of supporters around the world are on board to continue the struggle, but it’s—because this is not just a fight to have him released from prison, but to have his conviction overturned and to deal with so many other. And we have Albert Woodfox to consider, as well. He is still on board, and he is suffering just as much as Herman. He has now the—will now be the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement. So we have to deal with him. We have to continue with all the rest of the stuff that is going on regarding prison, the Mumias of our society. We have to think about them, as well. But Herman—
AMY GOODMAN: Robert, he was with you—
ROBERT KING: —will be OK.
AMY GOODMAN: Robert, he was with you yesterday, Albert Woodfox. I mean, this is an unusual, to say the least, gathering. You would never have been allowed to visit Herman Wallace. And, of course, Albert Woodfox wouldn’t, either, as he remains in prison. But it was the final goodbye. What was Albert Woodfox’s words for Herman Wallace in that prison cell, in the prison, where you were with him, in the hospital there?
ROBERT KING: Well, Albert’s—yes, thank you. Albert’s last word was, "Herman, we love you, and you’re going to get out here today. We’re trying to get you out. The lawyers will have you out today." And it was his last word, and he kissed him on the forehead. But prior to that time, he had been encouraging him and that—you know, to hold on and that he will be free and that there are people working for him and that he won’t be—he won’t be forgotten in any way.
AMY GOODMAN: Was he shackled?
ROBERT KING: Albert Woodfox was very much shackled and handcuffed. He had the usual, traditional belt on, chain with the belt, the locks and so forth and so on. And it was difficult for him to eat his meal. He was having problems. We had to help him to eat, because he could not hold the tray in which the food—that held the food.
(From the A3 Coalition)
Yesterday was truly an amazing day! We want to thank all of our supporters and we will have more photos and information soon. Until then, we want to share with you the two 'update' posts we released yesterday (partially posted at FDL as followup comments). The first reported on Judge Jackson's second order for Herman's release, and the second was the announcement of Herman's actual release. Links to a wide range of media coverage are also included. We are also featuring several photos from last night taken by A3 supporters, posted at Flickr and Indybay. Also be sure to view the touching photos of Herman taken by the Times-Picayune.
MEDIA COVERAGE: Oct. 2 episode of Democracy Now (embedded above) II NY Times II CNN II Times-Picayune (with photos of Herman's release) II NBC II ABC / AP II South China Morning Post / AFP II NY Daily News / Reuters II Huffington Post Live TV (w/ Robert King) II WAFB CBS News Baton Rouge (video) II CBS National News II UPI II Catholic Online (w/ WGNO ABC video of Herman's arrive at LSU) II The Independent, UK II Medical Daily
(Posted at 7:05 pm EST) After this morning's bombshell ruling by Judge Jackson overturning Herman's convictionand ordering his immediate release, his legal team has spent the day trying to convince Louisiana officials to do as the Court requires and let him go free.
MEDIA COVERAGE: CNN II Times-Picayune (features photos of Herman's release) II NBC II ABC / Associated Press
(Posted at 9:15 pm EST) After a long, dramatic day, we are humbled to report that the indomitable, irrepressible Herman Wallace has just been released after spending over 4 decades in solitary confinement.
Even after Judge Jackson's late evening ruling denying the State's attempt at a stay and again ordering his immediate release, the State continued to stall. Once notified of the continued delay, Judge Jackson stoically refused to leave his quarters until Herman was released, and just minutes ago, Herman was driven away from the prison a free man, awake and able to revel in this miraculous turn of events.
The State will likely still appeal to the 5th Circuit and attempt to have the order reversed, and may even re-indict him, but it seems that Herman, against all odds, has won.
Now we must resolve collectively to harness this rediscovered energy and excitement and dedicate ourselves to getting Albert the same result without delay.
If you happen to be in New Orleans, supporters are holding a vigil tonight starting in just a few moments at 8pm. Everyone is welcome to come and celebrate this incredible news. Coliseum Square was the original location, but it has been changed to LSU, outside the hospital emergency room, at 2021 Perdido St New Orleans, LA 70112.
With awe, bewilderment, and a renewed optimism, we will keep supporters updated.
EVEN MORE MEDIA COVERAGE: Amnesty International II Solitary Watch II The Atlantic II The Advocate II The Times-Picayune II NOLA Defender II BBC II SF Chronicle / Associated Press II Think Progress II Democracy Now II News One II UK Telegraph / AFP II UK Daily Mail II UPI II teleSUR (in Spanish)