Virginia State Republicans’ Proxy War Against Poor, Black and Brown People and the Birth of the Free Virginia Movement.

By Uhuru B. Rowe*
June 10, 2016

Well, it seems another Virginia (VA) Governor may bite the dust. Recently, CNN reported that Democratic VA Governor, Terry McAuliffe, is under investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Dept. of Justice for alleged improper financial contributions made to his 2013 Gubernatorial campaign by a Chinese businessman estimated to be worth $1 Billion.
This comes as no surprise as McAuliffe received swift political backlash from state republicans in April after he summarily restored the civil rights of over 200,000 violent and nonviolent convicted felons who have successfully paid their debt to society and made great strides toward leading a productive, law-abiding lives. State republicans responded in kind by immediately filing a federal suit to block McAuliffe’s blanket restoration of civil rights to these deserving individuals which is something McAuliffe’s predecessor, former Republican Governor, Bob McDonnell, sought to do prior to and after his corruption scandal sent shock waves through the political arena.
As a revolutionary, I am not a proponent of this American capitalist, two-party political system; but there are some politicians who have a conscience, a sense of humanity and the guts to risk political alienation by serving the needs and interests of those of us on the bottom tier of society- particularly Black, Brown and poor white people. With his mass restoration of civil rights to convicted felons, his relentless push to expand medicade under ObamaCare, and his creation of the Parole Review and Inquiry Commission as a vehicle to possibly reinstate parole, McAuliffe has done, or attempted to do, more for marginalized and disadvantaged people than the last four Governors combined.
The vestiges of the old confederate era still has a death grip on VA politics where state conservatives and Right-wingers are waging a proxy “civil war” against poor and oppressed people behind the walls of the General Assembly Building located in the city of Richmond- the former capital of the Confederacy.
Any politician in VA who does not adhere to established conservative, Right-wing, confederate-style politics- which, by its very nature, is anti-poor people; anti-people of color; anti-women; anti-LGBT people; anti-immigrant; anti-young people; and anti-planet, becomes the target of an aggressive investigation because of some ALLEGED malfeasance, or is vilified and slandered in the media as a corrupt official in an attempt to turn public opinion against them and the laws and programs they attempt to implement that’ll benefit those of us that are often neglected, ignored, oppressed and exploited by the bourgeoisie.
Incarcerated people- an overwhelming majority of whom are from working class communities- are bearing the brunt of this state’s racist politics.
Since parole was abolished back in 1995, incarcerated people have experienced the following:
1) food portions have been dramatically reduced to coerce us into spending more money with the private-owned Keefe Commissary corporation which has free reign to price-gouge the hell out of us;
2) what little food we do receive is often ill-prepared, outdated, spoiled rotten or putrid to the taste and smell;
3) medical neglect and deliberate indifference to our serious health issues is the order of the day. We are often untreated or under-treated by the medical department in order to save money. Profit and savings are more important than human lives;
4) treatment, educational, vocational and work programs have been reduced resulting in an idle, stagnant, tense and volatile prison environment which is counterproductive and unsafe for both prisoners and prison staff;
5) and most importantly, because of the abolition of parole and the implementation of draconian Truth-in- Sentencing laws which requires us to serve 85% of our sentences, incarcerated men and women- many of us first-time offenders- are serving excessive and disproportionate amounts of time in prison compared to prisoners in other states with the same criminal offense and history.
This is the political climate under which we live and the issues that we’re daily confronted with that has forced incarcerated people in VA to come together and form the Free Virginia Movement- the political vehicle by which the prisoner-class is being organized to wage the struggle behind the walls of Virginia’s various gulags in a desperate attempt to dismantle to Prison Industrial Complex and its affect on Black, Brown and poor white communities. Stay tuned!

*I am a 39-year-old socially conscious, politicized prisoner who has been serving time in Virginia for the last 21½ years. I will love to hear your comments on this essay as well as any of my other writings on my blog. Download the JPay Mobile app to your phone and sign up to exchange emails with me. Enter my name and prison number (1131545) when prompted. Electronic stamps must be purchased from JPay. Or you can write to me via snail mail at Uhuru Rowe #1131545, B.C.C., P.O. Box 430, Dillwyn, VA 23936.


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