11 Year Old Chiswick Girl in US Jail
Poppy visits the Angola 3 at Louisiana State Prison
An 11-year-old girl from Chiswick has become the youngest ever British person to visit two members of the so-called Angola 3, who remain incarcerated in Angola prison, Louisiana more than three decades after they were convicted of the murder of a prison guard.
Poppy met Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace, found guilty in 1973 and 1974 respectively of the 1972 murder of Brent Miller at the notorious Angola prison.
“Meeting Herman and Albert was surreal yet amazing. It was incredible just to sit with them and listen to everything they had to say”
She began writing to the two men in 2007 after learning about their cause through her mother, Carrie Reichardt , a 41-year-old artist and activist, aka The Baroness, who has become known for her mosaics infused with social and political commentary that cover the exterior walls of her London home and studio. In June, she unveiled an extensive work depicting the Angola 3 and Kenny ‘Zulu’ Whitmore – also at Angola and the focus of a new, international campaign mounted by Richards and other artists and activists.
Carrie said about her daughter’s trip - ‘I feel it is important for me to pass on an awareness of some of these injustices to my daughter. These men have been held in horrible conditions, in tiny cells for years on end, convicted with little or no evidence. They deserve our support, and I’m thrilled my daughter had this fantastic opportunity to visit Angola and our friends Herman and Albert.’
Woodfox and Wallace have always maintained their innocence, claiming they were framed for the crime due to their political activism; both were members of the Black Panther movement and had spoken out about the horrific conditions at the prison.
The third of the Angola 3, Robert King was released in 2001, after his conviction for the murder of a fellow inmate at Angola was overturned. He recently visited the UK to raise awareness of the global grassroots movement for the release of Wallace and Woodfox and launch the ‘Free Zulu’ campaign.
Poppy spent four hours on 9th Aug at Angola prison talking with the men, who, until recently spent a minimum of 23 hours a day in their cells.
“When I first saw Herman and Albert I ran up to them and gave them a huge hug. It was weird to think that this is a rare treat for them, just to have a hug from another human being”
In March this year, following increased media attention and a visit to the prison by chair of the US House Judiciary Committee John Conyers, Woodfox and Wallace were moved from solitary confinement, after almost 36 years, to a maximum-security dormitory. Campaigners say they are likely to have spent longer in solitary than anyone else in US history, a belief that has prompted Amnesty International to highlight their cause.
The precocious 11-year-old, who says she intends to become a human rights lawyer to help abolish the death penalty, also visited New Orleans during her two-week stay in the US, visiting and documenting sites still devastated after Hurricane Katrina.
August 22, 2008