Insight with Robert King: The Angola 3 and their fight for justice
Robert King will be joining us at the Frontline Club in conversation with founder and director of Reprieve, Clive Stafford Smith to recount his personal story of injustice and how his life’s focus now is to campaign against abuses in the criminal justice system and for the freedom of Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox who are now serving their 40th year in solitary confinement
In May 1972 Robert King entered Angola prison, the state penitentiary of Louisiana after being convicted of an armed robbery he denied committing.
Along with Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox he was later convicted of murder in Angola prison; Wallace and Woodfox for the murder of Angola prison guard Brent Miller and King for the murder of fellow prisoner August Kelly.
Known as the Angola 3, the men have always proclaimed their innocence, saying that they were framed and targeted by the prison authorities for their activism as members of the Black Panther Party. Through their activities they successfully organised prisoners to improve conditions; reducing sexual assault, improving food quality and tackling racism – all condoned by prison security.
Between them King, Wallace and Woodfox have spent more than 100 years in solitary confinement in Angola’s maximum security Closed Cell Restricted (CCR) block in cells 2 x 3 metres for up to 23 hours a day.
All three were sentenced on insubstantial evidence and contradictory eye witness reports, they fought their convictions and in 2001 King was freed after 29 years in solitary.
In 2008, Woodfox’s conviction was overturned after a federal court ruled that his core constitutional rights had been violated at his original trial. But Louisiana attorney general Buddy Caldwell contested the decision and Woodfox, aged 64, was returned to Angola. Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox remain in solitary confinement, conditions which they are legally challenging as being a violation of the US Constitution prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment.
Robert King will be talking about his mission to fight the cruelty of the prison-industrial complex challenge the systemic injustices involving class and racism that lead people to unjust incarceration and the human rights violations that prisoners must endure.