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Texas Death Row
A Thief A King and A
Horse - A Note From Gabriel
Live From Death Row!
I am alive in this place of
the soul-dead and forgotten.
This is my seventh year (2004) on Death Row and my tenth
year of incarceration .
However, I am no lesser a man for having shouldered such
a hard life for so long. I came to prison as a volatile youth. Since than
Ive grown into the man my mother tried but could not raise.
I am a man reared on lifes hard experiences, on books and prison knowledge
; on pepper gas and protest. On Solitude. On Tears.
There lies in me the basic human
need and desire to share who i am and what Ive experienced in life with
other people. That is the motivation behind me placing this ad.
I miss the confraternity of friendship. Have you ever wanted to express
a feeling to someone in hopes that they would understand or at
least appreciate the depth of how you felt? If I am seeking
something in particular, it is a real person I can feel, and who,
in turn, tries to feel me.
I am a Cuban man, a father of 3
children that I love with my entire being, a Poet and an Arti st. My
favorite pass times are reading, writing my kids and playing chess.
My least favorite is working out, but I do so, religiously. Fighting
to live is my main priority. Im open to speak about my case if
youre intrested in knowing or assisting. Yet, this ad is meant
to ask for no more from you than an opportunity at friendship.
Thanks for your time.
Gabriel Gonzalez # 999225
Polunsky Unit D.R
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston Texas 77351 USA
Gabriel Writes About
Life On Texas Death Row :
THE BRINKS OF INSANITY
By: Gabriel Gonzalez
Time and time again, I have been asked the question: “What
is death row like?” But truthfully, no matter what I say I can’t paint the
image od death, rage, anger, love, sadness, and hope together all iun the
same breath. The only thing that death row reminds me of is simply life itself,
but with unbearable pain amplified to a towering level where its depths may
never be known. However, to say life isn’t painful would be an unconscious
statement, so how and where do I begin?
For many years now I have been living with this thought,
forever alone with the idea of death whispering sweet nothings in my ear.
As I lay down to sleeo each night and when I awake, I only realize with more
certainty than the previous day that, if there was a hell, it could no means
get any worse than this—Death Row. Like the flames of hell lick at one’s
soul, the coals of death row burn with a constant battle between a thirst
for life and a thirst to quickly see it pass you by.
Once upon a time the years seemed like decades ago rather
than one coming decade alone. I was a man like any other’ Young, innocent,
and hungry for adventures. I had as many dreams as there were minutes, but
before my eyelids could blink twice, like the Phantom of the Opera, I had
disappeared momentarily somewhere in a place that was similar to purgatory.
I am still a young man, but with all the innocence gone,
dreams fleeting in the wind, and my once adventurous mind now fixated on
one idea. I am held hostage, my body trapped in a steel cahe, and my brain
searching for abounding knowledge that seems surely to lead me down a path
of insanity. Try as I will, I separate myself from the madness around me
that reeks with sick twisted souls, innocence trapped in a living nightmare,
and life itself being taken as fast as a river falling off an endless cliff.
At the deepest point in my eager search for understanding
of complete chaos, I am disturbed; Count time—get your ass up and stand at
the door with your ID’s up in hand!” a guard yelled down the run. And as
soon as he approached my cahe and asked for my number, I looked blindly as
if he wasn’t there at all. “Inmate! Your number!” the guard yelled again.
He stood silent for a moment as I looked at him, and I responded, “I don’t
have a number but I’ll give you my name,” I said rather coldly. This time
neither the heavy tread of his boots moved forward or anything, but instead
he asked me, “Are you okay?” Seeing his uncertainty at that moment, I shook
my head and he continued his count.
Like a haunting ghost that roams the halls of the dead
is just how I perceived that guard as he left. Other prisoners responded
rapidly to a number in place of their names, and the thought sickens me to
think my life has become merely a number to the system—nothing more. We are
caught in its lifeless grips like that of a corpse being driven into a nonsexist
state, but I refuse to succumb. So if separating myself from my environment
means to live in the consant state of anger, so be it. I have seen blood
silently run from cages next door to me because a human being was put in
these inhumane conditions and could not deal with his isolation and humanity.
His sukence was too loud and he killed himself. I have seen prisoners viciously
beaten damn near to death by prison guards for simply standing for his dignity
as what he is; A HUMAN BEING! I have heard the screams and cries of ones
insanities locked in these cages like animals 23 hours a day. And as I sit
here at my desk where I am writing right now, I realize that this is a world
none of us were meant to live in.
Often I have been jolted awake, chased by thoughts that
are not who I am as a person, so I am consciously awake in the reality of
my surroundings—hell. If anything in the world can be hell, I believe it
is man’s creations in many forms. For death row prisoners, the system traps
an emotion that never escapes and that emotion is hopelessness, which eventually
compounds other emotions together which can only destroy people. The most
common result is to exact vengeance. So not only does this feeling become
genuine, society teaches it as a whole when they use it to punish. And like
a great man once said: “Vengeance should only come from an individual, if
ever any punishment left in God’s hands altogether.” However, society is
poised between the two, and it is amplified here on death row. Prisoners
forget who has confined them here, and for whatever reasons, they focus that
newly found aggression at each other.
I believe in God and I pray for the answers every day
to make the right decisions, but I often fall from the graces of God because
of my thoughts, if not my actions that paralyze my heart from its natural
beat. Those who judge us claim that the death penalty is necessary, because
life in prison won’t suffice. When any man or woman enters these begging
halls of redemption, what can possibly be left except bitterness and anger?
We are treated like savage beast that are soon to be slaughtered by public
opinion, if nothing more, and then executed.
In truth, society is paranoid with each other, and it
shows in all aspects of prison, not just death row. Our lawgivers speak of
philanthropy, progress, humanity, justice, and claim it all in the name of
God! How it sickens me to hear such things, to support such things, and to
accept it like that of a faithful dog. I WILL NOT!
Bending his ear to the words of the devil is where we’ll
find our politicians—who do nothing in the name of God, but instead for self
gain and profit while at the same time trying to abolish God from the law
of the land, and even this world. So if you wonder how such places death
row are created, look there and you will find the creator of hell. Some of
us fight to remain who we are, and in the process grow into the best people
we can possibly be, but we can only hope it isn’t all for nothing.
Moreover, let it be clearly understood that many men here
are sick by nature. They have done things which are sick, detestable, and
immoral. Actually, I speak of myself because I am considered one of these
men. I, just like many others confess not to be any of these things. I consider
myself to be a man of many principals, visions, and seek my actions to be
righteous in all that I do, yet is there a place for such a man on death
row—I FEAR NOT. Death row is no place for any man to remain caged like some
animal and totally isolated in a permanent solitary. In the racist South,
the name of the victim has a Black face and can easily be found dead hanging
from a dirty white sheet in some backwater town. Although race does play
a larger role in the death penalty than people would like to believe, as
well as class, people of all color are added to the long list of those waiting
to become victims by various states’ state-sanctioned murder: Execution!
The tales of life are no different than death row, maybe
those condemned to die on death row obviously are more deserving of detestation,
but its increased barbarity only reinstates the code of justice by bloodshed.
So if I am repeatedly asked, “What is death row like?” I can only say it
is the part of the world we live in, without the joy. It is everything all
together in an explosion—complete chaos.
As I will always try to separate myself from the chaos,
sadly, I must understand it and feel it in order to survive its rugged course.
This is not by choice, but in order to survive the grips of hell itself,
I have to cut through the steel bars with my mind and heart in order to become
the free man I am fighting to become. I live the life I was given, but I
try not to accept my fate and let this world live in my mind. So, if I am
to escape it all, I live if the brinks of insanity.
"Greetings, Salutations, and
Happy Holidays to All,
It is my sincerest hope and wishes that by the time this letter reaches
your hands there, it finds you, as well your families and friends all in
the very best of health and spirit. And it is my prayer that despite the
adversities we all face in this situation (the Death Penalty in its entirety),
it finds you all ever-rising in this stage of life. Afterall, adversity is
the ladder to growth, and growth are the steps to wisdom. May we all attain
it. My name is Gabriel Gonzalez. None of you there personally know
me, although I have received birthday and holiday cards from you all throughout
the years, and I thank you for them. I perceive each card and letter as
a blessing. Words to me, are a very powerful thing; wordsare the vibrations
of intentions from one heart to another
/ others. And I have come to understand in living life under such
adverse circumstances that intentions are everything because they are the
very force of manifestation in everything..... So each card received, each
letter received, each prayer spoken, each hope, each wish made (whether
in thought or verbally) is embraced this way as vibrations of intentions
sent for continued strength, for love, for upliftment of the spirit, for
freedom, justice, human rights, and eventually the abolishment of the death
penalty and much more. So each card and letter makes a difference.... And
we here are grateful.
It is saddening that you all are having to hear from me under such a
predicament. However, knowing that those of you at the Coalition to Abolish
the Death Penalty stand in solidarity with the death row community, who better
to turn to than comrades of the same struggle. At the moment I am
caged on B-Pod, F-Section. I have been on this pod since November of 2003.
I was caged on A section up until about mid-July when I was moved over here
to F Section. Since I have been on this section there has been problems
with the hot water in the shower. I, and quite a few others on F section
have addressed it, have had guards file maintenance reports to have it fixed,
have been told by several ranks that it will be looked at and fixed. Here
it is 6 months--nothing has been done about it. It is now winter time
and they have not turned on the heat on this pod--it is cold in here. Many
of us on F Section have gotten fed up with the cold showers and have been
refusing to take cold showers. F Section and E Section are the only 2 sections
with no hot water for the shower. E Section has also been refusing to get
in those cold showers. So the guards have been taking us to other sections
with hot water to shower. However, on 12/6/04 on second shift, the officers
working the pod were being lazy (as always), and because they did not want
to walk around to the other sections (which they felt was too far from F
Section -- that is ridiculous!), they began writing "VR" down on their shower
sheets, which means a prisoner "verbally refused"--which none of us did--
and did not allow some of us to shower. Others did not want their showers
taken by the guards so they went ahead and took a cold shower. That is a
health risk in this kind of weather. They have no heat at the moment, or
should I say, they have not yet turned on the heat, and it is very cold (so
much so that I wear my state-issued jacket in my cage all day, and sleep
with it on), and for them to force us into taking cold showers and being
in this cold is the perfect combination for pneumonia. And for the joke
of a medical department they have here, it is too easy to get sick and die
in one of these cages from lack of medical care and treatment.
On 12/06/04 a prisoner on F Section, 2 Row came out and was going into
the cold shower. However, because the guard (officer Pope is his name) was
upset that those of us refusing to take a cold shower were requesting to
speak to rank to come to a solution concerning the problem, as the prisoner
stepped into the shower (still handcuffed) one of his shower slides came off.
As he stopped to try and slip it back on his foot, the guard Pope slammed
him on the floor. The prisoner was not resisting anything! The prisoner
did nothing wrong. However, because the guard was mad at those who did not
want to take cold showers, he took it out on this prisoner. Fortunately,
the female guard working with the guard Pope told rank the truth when they
arrived on the pod. The prisoner was not sent to F Pod for assault -- he did
nothing wring. Officer Pope was however taken off of the pod that night for
unnecessary use of force.
Here it is two days later (12/08/04, and they have him working right
back over here on B Pod with this shower problem still going on.
Tonight, nothing happened, and everyone has been showered. Sgt. Cannady
came and told us that one of the hot water heaters are broken on this pod,
and they have an order in for the new one. He also said that since E and
F sections are the only ones not getting hot water, we will be showered
on 2nd shift after all other sections have been showered. That way the
water the other sections take up will come to E and F sections so we will
have hot water. Obviously there are supposed to be 2 hot water heaters per
pod (1 for every three sections or something) -- I am not completely certain
on that, and the authorities seem to not want to give that information.
Non the less, tonight some prisoners did shower on this section (I being
one of them just to see if the hot water would work on F Section since the
other sections had been showered and supposedly that meant the hot water
would circulate to E and F Section so we could shower in hot water). The
hot water still does not work on E and F Section. None of us have gotten
violent, nor do I intend to.
Non-Violence is my way. However, I will continue to refuse going to
a cold shower until they get the hot water fixed on E and F Section. So
do come out of my cage handcuffed and squat down, or rather sit on
the floor to show resistance in a non-violent manner, it does not necessarily
mean the guards escorting me will not try to pick me back up and slam
me and beat me and take me to F Pod. I am not looking for any trouble.
However, I will not let the authorities here continue forcing me to
take cold showers when I am entitled to a hot one, and risk my health and
get sick. I and others have addressed rank from Captains on down, have filed
grievances, etc. We are getting a bunch of good excuses, but no results,
and though tonight they took some of us to other sections to get a hot shower,
I know once again in the next few days one of these guards will cause trouble
again trying to get us to take cold showers.
I could refuse, others could verbally refuse our showers, but then what?
We don't get a shower, which is exactly what the guards want simply because
they do not want to do their job and shower us to begin with -- they are
lazy! If we do that, they will intentionally let the shower stay broken
to keep us refusing just so that won't have to do the showers. That is unsanitary.
I am a clean human being. I need my showers, and so to the rest. This
is why I will continue to come out of my cell for shower and tell the guards
escorting me to take me to a section with hot water. If they refuse, I
will sit down and request to speak to rank to address the issue once again.
However, eventually the retaliation will come for my non-violent resistance.
There are others doing the same.
Of course, we know this system cares nothing about one's Human Rights--
And unquestioned and unsupervised power makes many men abuse their
authority. I take it that because nobody from the outside is calling
down here and putting the pressure on the administration to get theseshowers
fixed and the heat turned on, they feel they can do as they wish. Some my
accept it. However I, and others, will not. It would be greatly appreciated
if those of you there at the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
would bombard them with phone calls, e-mails, letters, and let them know
you are aware of the situation and will do the necessary to ensure things
are handled properly. I and others here have done what we can, and have been
However, some things are unacceptable as a human being with dignity
and self love and respect. I am trying to avoid trouble. Maybe you all
there can play an integral part on this in attempt to try to avoid any
further confrontations that could end in a prisoner being retaliated against
by prison guards simply because we are requesting what policy says is due
to us as a prisoner on Texas Death Row.
On that note I will close this letter in hopes that I hear from someone
there and that we get some assistance in the matter that is beginning to
get quite ugly -- and can end quite fatal with the sadistic mentality
of a lot of these prison guards in here. You all take care. Have a great
and safe Holiday season! Best Wishes and Bright Blessings to all.
Peace and Solidarity
Gabriel Gonzales #999225 Polunsky Unit 3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351
Murder. That seems to be the centrepiece my
life revolves around. Death Row is my confinement. I am confined to
a 6 by 10 corner of this slaughterhouse forced to witness the torturous prelude
to executions of the people around me. I am here, sentenced to die. But
that is not simplistic and swift as it may sound. The thought of death,
the constant flow of death alone with the monotonous lifestyle of Death
Row combines for a lethal dose of daily mental and emotional deterioration.
I am dying in part every day. Actually I fare well by comparaison to
some men. Maybe it is that I am still young and considerably stubborn. Or
maybe it is the fear that runs through me when I witness men slowly slip
into different stages of dementia. I can honestly say I do not fear dying,
but I do fear losing all sense of myself as a human being. When a man mops
his cell down with feces or urinates on the floor as if to mark his territory
like an animal, his human self is no longer intact. Furthermore, he is
no longer a part of society - not even prison society. He is merely subsisting
on the peripheral edge of everyone elses consciences. In other words, no
one gives a damn about him. It is the indiscriminate rapisity in which
this craziness strikes that I fear most
The building Death Row prisoners are housed in is seemingly designed
to drive one out of their minds. It is as if the prison administrators are
driving men insane so that they match the sensationalized death row image
that precedes them. I assume it is easier to kill a man thought to be crazy
over one who is still coherent and desperate for living. I do not know.
But that appears to be the theme around here.
There are no televisions nor craft programs. There is no work program
and prisoners are locked in their cages 23 hours each Day. From the moment
they come here until the day they are wheeled out: Visitation, mail, recreation,
showers are the only exceptions. Recreation consists of one hour alone
in a cage slightly larger than the one I live in. Every day living here
is a constant struggle to maintain the desire to live. Many men are eager
to go don to the executioner. Their constitution has been murdered. Their
strength has been murdered. Their desire for living has been murdered.
What is there left to sustain life? That is a question I hope I never
have to ask myself.
For now, I know I have much to live for. But sometimes, the constant
killing of the men around me makes all that I have in life seem mediocre
compared to all that I have to live with.
Gabriel Gonzalez#999225 Polunsky Unit 3872 FM 350 South
Livingston TX. 77351
Thanks to : http://www.hasanshakur.com/InterviewGabrielGonzalez.html
for this interview.
Reproduced here to be part of Gabriel's archive :
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH GABRIEL GONZALEZ
By: Hasan Shakur
The following is an interview that I did with a brother down
here on death row. I really hope that you enjoy it because thos brother -
Gabriel Gonzalez - is touching on some very serious issues. I also hope that
this interview sheds like wise light into this young man's mind, and feel
free to contact him as well. You will find his address at the end of the
page. Let me get off into this, dinner is served......
Hasan: Man, I’m glad to finally get this interview done! Been
a long time coming! Why don’t you introduce yourself to the people and
tell them how long you have been down here….
Gabriel: Hey, what’s up Hasan? How are you bruh? Yeah, it’s good to
finally get this interview going. Well Hasan, you already know me, but
for those who don’t – my name is Gabriel Gonzalez. I’ve been on Death Row
for 7 1/” years. Strange thought! The struggles I have endured being here
in this purgatory at times make me feel like I have been here for 70 years.
In contrast, staring death in the face in such a unique way, at times makes
me feel like I just got here. When you finally become aware that every moment
is being counted and you are engaged like this, it seems like time flashes
by you at the speed of light.
Hasan: You are not originally from Texas, correct? How long have
you been down here?
Gabriel: No, I’m not from Texas. I am originally from California,
but I have been in Texas for 14 years.
Hasan: You were over on Ellis Unit with us (formerly housed death row
prisoners), in comparison, how does Polunsky unit compare to Ellis unit?
Gabriel: Man, in my years on death row I have seen constant acts of violence
that have become as routine as breathing. Suicides, depression, gassings
to the point of suffocation, beatings by guards where physical damage is
permanent and sometimes fatal, and unbearable pain levels one can’t even
begin to imagine….Sometimes I refuse to think about what goes on here on
Polunsky unit in an attempt to maintain my sanity, and above all, hope. Hope
is all we have to get us through the day. Hope acts as an assurance that
a better tomorrow lies ahead. Once hope is gone….all life is gone. When I
think back on the years at Ellis unit, the same problems happened there as
they do here. But at Ellis unit, the men were able to work, recreate and
interact with one another, watch television, walk without shackles and dream;
all in a controlled environment. All these things showed signs of life. Since
being transferred to Polunsky unit, we are isolate 23 hours per day (allowed
to recreate 1 hour in a small cage the size of a very small living room),
no physical contact not even for visits, random and unnecessary strip searches
where guards mock and ridicule, no television to keep up with current world
events, no personal property other than a few books and a few other items,
no education system (as most prisoners have little or no formal education),
no work programs, no religious programs, small food rations (often spoiled
and under-cooked), cell temperatures that are freezing in the winter and
scorching in the summer, lack of medical attention for those who really need
it (resulting in deaths of those who desperately need it), and countless
inhumane and sub-human conditions. With that said, I think that speaks for
itself – don’t you agree? Both places are bad, but this one is much worse!
Hasan: You have been paying attention to the plight of several people
down here. How do you feel the current political climate will affect prisoners
as a whole?
Gabriel: man, this struggle has been going on since before we were born.
Many have been fighting for a long time from both inside and outside of
these concrete walls. Had all that fighting not been going on all these
years, despite how bad things are at the moment, they would have been even
worse. So the fighting is making a gradual difference. As for how the political
climate will affect prisoners as a whole? Man, everything we see going on
right now today, and what we have been seeing for centuries is based on
politics and the political climate. That is pretty blatant. In my opinion,
I feel the question should have been, due to how the political climate has
been affecting prisoners as a whole, what can we keep doing to try and stop
this injustice for prisoners as a whole? You look at the conditions here
and what is going on behind these walls. Politicians don’t give a fuck! With
prison being one of America’s biggest incomes, it seems the government is
set on wanting to criminalize the world to lock us down for a profit. To
them it’s politics (business as usual). What’s really happening here concerning
the political climate and how it does/will affect prisoners as a whole is
the take-over by corporate interests of the legal structures that govern
The government of the Congress and the state governments and let’s say
school boards: these are the institutions that have a lot of effect on
poor Black, Latino, and all kind of different people of color, as well
as middle-class people of color. I bring up people of color because that
is the majority of the population in prisons and death row. Anyway, they
are the public agencies, you know, like the health, education, and welfare,
or some type of public housing set up by the government, or courts set
up by the government. These are the kinds of institutions that are public
institutions supposed to operate for the welfare of the people, but Congress
and the budgets and the tax system, it’s all really serving major corporate
interests, largely because of major corporations finance much of the legislative
For example, right after the World Trade Center bombing, there was discussion
in Congress about who should be bailed out, and who should get economic
stimulus. And they were all major corporations! Massive benefits to airline
companies, not massive benefits to the people out of work by airline companies,
but to the corporate entity. So there’s a bias in favor of concentrated economic
power. Why the airline industry? Everybody was messed up by the bombings,
let’s say all the restaurants that depended upon people who worked in the
World Trade Center, all the offices that were in the World Trade Center,
all the shops that were in the World Trade Center, there ere a lot of small
businesses there. Did we hear about stimulus packages for them? NO! But I’m
saying that’s because they are not plugged in. And they’re not considered
politically dominant. There’s a book called “Opposing the System” by Charles
Reich, and he talks about corporate power, which he calls economic government,
taking over functions of the state, and the state now operates at its behest.
But we don’t see it; we still see political government. But he says in a
work place in the corporate world, you don’t have a vote, you don’t have any
participation, you don’t have any freedom or association, you do what you
are told. And so as the corporations become more and more powerful in charge
of the government, their hold of dictating what people do becomes what happens
in government, and the values of the corporate world become the values that
are reflected in government, and so it becomes essentially that the Italians
called “the corporate state”. That’s what we’re up against; the corporate
state. That’s not accessible or responsive to the people. When you got people
like Meryl Lunch and when Enron used to be Enron donating the biggest amounts
to Bushes campaigns, and all these companies have billions of dollars invested
in the prison industry (profiting off of prisoners free labor and profiting
off of each prisoner that comes into the prison system whether in general
population or death row) what you are going to get is what we are seeing
today on death row, in the general population in prison etc. These corporations
are dictating and controlling the politics bro. We are the results of those
corporations dictating government and politics. Though it is part racism,
it is beyond that: This is about money and profit and power.
So it is not about how the political climate will affect prisoners as
a whole. Bro, we are being affected every day due to the political climate.
And look who is in the driver’s seat, Bush and his capitalist friends. We
just have to keep fighting the best that we can from inside and outside.
Hasan: You know I am a labeled fundamentalist; how do you describe yourself
as in the light of your persona?
Gabriel: If you are asking me what is my political affiliation, I
don’t have one in the sense of political labels today like left or right.
I am not a part of a political party like that. I am simply a spiritual
person: A child of God! And I believe spirituality is true politics, and
in that sense I am political. I am a person who believes that a strong
spiritual conviction, a love of mystery, tolerance, and that part of positive
magic that exists hidden in each life, could afford us a less unhappy,
less cruel world, full of realizable dreams. Amidst a world rampant with
violence and insatiable yearnings for power, I believe that we mustn’t
dispense with the fragile child we all carry within, which speaks of lost
innocence, which we mustn’t renounce if we want to understand something of
what we are and why we live. We are all in some way orphans of our dreams
for the fairer society we fought and paid for in flesh. I am now convinced
that it’s not the great ideologies that will change the world. Many of them
have failed and the birth of new and even more dangerous ones remains a
threat, such as the new fundamentalisms. I still feel myself to be a political
man, but the politics I believe in are about breaking down the walls of cultural
conventions that lead to fanaticism. I believe the most important thing,
as the Spanish philosopher Savater affirms, is a strong ethical commitment
from each one of us, without which future society will be ever more fratricidal
and ever less fraternal. I am convinced that each person my t now make their
contribution to society, because of that I believe strongly in the new wave
of solidarity that is growing around the world, especially among young people.
As I told you before, I consider myself a political man, but not a party
man. I think that my interaction with people is political, because I help
people realize many things with my own personal experiences, with the awakening
of the spiritual side, the need to tear up the official Manual of Good Conduct
and pay the price for their dreams. As well as alerting people to all kinds
of fanaticism, to those who try to take over the role of other’s consciences,
to the false culture of knowledge and to the hypocrisy of certain politicians
who, instead of serving the citizens, are self-serving using citizens to
satisfy their own personal whims. Fe me, one way of participating in politics
is by repeating in every possible way that it necessary to live life with
enthusiasm, that each of us is responsible for our own fate and can’t delegate
it to anyone, that a writer, activist or whoever etc. is no more important
to the world than someone who sells coconuts, or a policeman who patrols
the streets, although he may erroneously feel himself to be more important
than anybody. For me, politics is contributing to changing what I call the
“Academy”, that is fossilized, bureaucratic, conventional wisdom that thinks
itself the only repository of knowledge. The power of the privileged. We have
to go back to giving free rein to creativity, giving the common man a voice,
considering that there shouldn’t be an educated elite who think they’re privileged
with titles and honors to impose their cultures on the rest. In this sense,
I believe the Internet can help substantially. It’s an instrument that, despite
all the dangers it brings with it, can contribute to everyone having the
possibility of getting their voice heard. If the powerful do not destroy
the internet by taking control of it, I think it could become a formidable
forum for universal debate, where no one feels excluded. I believe it could
create a sane anarchy, that can’t be controlled by those who hold power.
But maybe that’s just another utopia I want to believe in. Now don’t misunderstand
me, this doesn’t mean that because I’m not a political party man that I am
neutral. I always give my stand and opinion on a situation. You can’t be
politically neutral because otherwise you are letting others decide about
your life and interests. You have to participate actively. But I’m not a
professional politician, nor an expert in political philosophy.
On another note; based on politics in the last century there have been
too many wars and blood spilt. We are faced with the end of civilization.
And we’re not able to sense what the one now being born will be like. It’s
difficult to predict the future. What I can tell you is that it all depends
on what happens in the next fifty years. They have marked the new millennium.
A lot depends on whether people decide to set out on a serious, solid spiritual
quest. It’s been said, that either this century will be spiritual or it
won’t. Others say it will be the feminine century. On the contrary, the danger
exists that the bomb of fundamentalism could explode. Paradoxically, to
my understanding, fundamentalism implies a lack of faith. My antidote to
the new wave of fundamentalism that is beginning to surround us? This might
sound banal, but it’s necessary to understand that our spiritual path must
be a search for individual responsibility, not delegating it to masters of
captains. It is necessary to increase the values of tolerance, the idea that
there is space for everyone in every sector – in religion, politics, and
culture. No one should impose their world-view. As Jesus said, “In my Father’s
house are many mansions.” There’s no reason we should all have to live on
the same floor with the same ideas. Wealth lies in plurality, in diversity.
The rest is fascism. With fundamentalism we would return to the deepest of
the worst of the obscurantism of the past. What has to be said is that one
can be atheist or Muslim or Catholic or Buddhist or agnostic and it doesn’t
matter. Each person is responsible for their own conscience. The opposite
irremediably leads to war, because it conceives of someone different as an
In closing this answer I want to say two things: I worry about the idea
of economic globalization being carried over to the globalization of God.
In the same way that the idea of a homogeneous culture made to everyone’s
measure horrifies me, I’m frightened of the idea of a standard God, dogmatically
valid for everyone, as opposed to the personal, to what can be discovered
by the color of the conscious of each human being. Culture and religion have
to be the expression of the individual soul. The same community has to be
made up of free, original, different people, each with their own spiritual
wealth. The greater danger of the global market lies in producing a culture
as universal mind-control. From there to a new Nazism, it’s just a small
As I said, my politics is spirituality. I consider myself to be like
a spiritual warrior of the light, of peace. What is distinctive about the
warrior of light? On the personal plane, accepting oneself as a person who
cannot be polarized by fears, who struggles against them, carries on in search
of their own personal spiritual purpose. On the collective plane, by avoiding
all forms of cultural, political or religious fundamentalism, avoiding everything
that could be taken as exclusion of others, of those who are different,
and by opening oneself enthusiastically to all new experiences: communication
among men, co-participation and, if you’ll allow me – although this word
is much prostituted – Love.
Hasan: What has been the most dramatic thing that has affected you
since you’ve been incarcerated?
Gabriel: Watching my kids suffer so many different changes in their
lives without me, and watching them go through so much suffering because
of my situation.
Hasan: What are some of the things you are involved in – in a positive
Gabriel: Well, I can’t say that I’m involved in a lot of well-known
programs or anything like that. At the moment I’m in the creating stages
of my own Newsletter called “E2L”, which means “Educate 2 Liberate!” Aside
from that and fighting my case, my focus is the youth. I love children.
Hasan, you have known me for some years now, and you know what kind of social
injustice I come from: The Ghetto. Sad to say, but I was born and raised
in the streets, and in that sense my life has been shocking. I have experienced
a lot. I’m grateful though, because I learned a lot. So my concern is youth
who are in that same predicament I grew up in. I’m in the beginning stages
of a children’s book. I am also in the beginning stages of a book concerning
being a parent on death row, the effects, how to try and deal with them,
and how to best try to stay bonded with your children. You and I both know
how difficult that can be because we have been through much concerning that
and have discussed in depth our deep pains in dealing with that.
Hasan: You were housed on one of the most restrictive wings on Ellis
unit. Compare the attitudes of the prisoners there and the prisoners now
that you encounter?
Gabriel: As a result of being transferred to this permanent solitary
and total isolation, most men here are now suffering from “Sensory Deprivation.”
What is Sensory Deprivation? Sensory Deprivation is the break down and loss
of ones senses (touch, taste, hearing, sight and smell). When the body
receives no stimulation (not even something as simple as a handshake), the
need of mental and physical balance is non-existent. When the mind becomes
overwhelmed, a deep depression sets in, resulting in the inability to control
moods. I am not a psychiatrist and cannot list all the effects this is having
on the men here, but I can tell you from experience that what is going on
here is altering the minds of men; literally killing them long before the
executioner physically murders them.
Hasan: What is your daily routine?
Gabriel: I can’t say I just have a daily routine that is continuously
repetitive. My routine differs based on what happens when I wake up. How
I feel, what I’m thinking about. But for the most part I like to wake up,
wash up, clean my cage, and sit here, or pace my cage for an hour or two and
just kind of set my attitude for the day realizing that my attitude for the
day will be based on how I choose to perceive that day. So I try to always
set a good attitude. I mediate for a little while, go to recreation for one
hour (and you gotta watch your minute because the guards are quick to try
and wrack you up 10 to 15 minutes early). Come in, shower and study for a
while. Then I’ll write my kids and a few friends. My cage is situated right
in front of the dayroom, so often I am interrupted from my routine by a prisoner
wanting to talk, or just from something feeling down. I come to my cage door
and try to talk with them and encourage and inspire them, because as men of
humanity we are responsible for our community no matter where we are. Divinely
I have a responsibility to humanity, and part of it is encouraging and inspiring.
So when I see somebody down I try to life their spirits and make them recognize
despite the madness we’ve got to keep keeping on bruh. Believe it or not
this makes me feel good, to be able to do this because it keeps me in touch
with my humanity – something this system seems determined to want to steal
from me. But it’s in staying in tune with my humanity that keeps me determined.
I also have conversations with other brothers in here, like yourself, on
how we can continue to organize, unite, rise and combat the establishment,
which always keeps me motivated on trying something. Bruh, the days around
here can get to be so much of the same that one day runs into the next in
a way where it all just seems like one whole day in the spend of years bruh.
I try to stay free of that.
Hasan: You have kids, correct? How do you explain to them your situation,
and how hard is it to do so?
Gabriel: Man bruh, my oldest just turned 14, my middle daughter is
13 now, and my son is 10, he’ll be 11 next month on July 7th. 5 years ago
right before they transferred us to over here my oldest daughter was 9. I
love my three kids the same, but you always have that one who is closest to
you. She is my one, a Daddy’s girl, and I’m proud of that. We have a beautiful
bond. She has always been a smart child, advanced in school, teachers wanting
to move her up grades etc. – and nosy like all children are (ha, ha, ha!).
I’d sent some paper work home to my Queen and she left them laying out
and my daughter read the words death row and saw my name on the papers
and knew something was up. She asked my Queen if I was on death row, and
what is death row? Does it mean her Daddy’s going to die? My queen didn’t
know what to say. She brought her to see me and my daughter asked what she
wanted to know. I don’t lie to my kids, but up until that day she never knew
I was on death row – none of them did. They just knew daddy was in prison
for a crime Daddy didn’t commit.
She asked me what death row is and if it means I’m going to die. I had
to be real and tell her that could be a possibility. She started crying
and I did too. The next words hit me like a mack truck. She said: “Daddy,
why did you hid this from me all this time? What if you would have died before
I told you everything I need to tell you? What if you would have died before
I shared everything I wanted to share with you?” She was hurt and mad at
me. With tears in my eyes I told her I felt she wouldn’t understand, and
I didn’t know how to tell her I was on death row. I didn’t want to put that
strain and worry on her. Bruh, she was so hurt that I’d hidden it all the
time that she wasn’t trying to hear it. She wouldn’t even talk to me for
the rest of the visit. I was shattered. For 9 whole months she didn’t want
to see me. She went from advanced honor role student to failing all of her
classes, she had to start going to counseling because she was messed up at
knowing about my situation. She wouldn’t eat, she got even skinnier than she
already was. She began having nightmares that I was going to die here, and
I hate she had them because they would mess her up real bad. But I am grateful
for them because they are what made her start wanting to see me and write
me again. When I saw her after 9 months, I saw a little woman-child. She
had been through so much and endured a lot concerning my situation. I couldn’t
believe this was a 9 year old child. She made me make her a promise – that
I would never hide anything from her again. I gave her my word on that and
I don’t break it.
I fear telling them about my situation, but I do so, even though it is
extremely hard. But I want them to know the truth: They have the right
to know because I’m their Daddy and they’re my kids. I wouldn’t want mine
to lie to me. The scariest part is knowing how sensitive children are,
and how knowing something at the wrong time can completely alter their lives
in a negative manner. Children are fragile, but too, we can’t underestimate
them. They understand a lot and can endure a lot. My kids have been through
hell with my situation and they are strong because of it, and the goodness
that has come out of it I am grateful for. But I regret they ever had to
go through this and suffer all these years. And this is what makes me angry:
The system never takes into consideration the vicious cycle that they continue
with the death penalty. Someone commits a crime and takes a life. Someone
is accused (whether you are guilty or innocent is of no importance to the
judicial system). A person is sentenced to death for that crime, which in
turn makes his mother and father innocent victims, makes his children and
siblings a victim, and victims continue to be made. Children tend to be affected
the most. Many don’t know how to deal with their father or mother being in
prison, and their anger drives them to live a self-destructive lifestyle
that eventually leads them to prison or death row. Feel me bruh? The system
never things about these things.
To look only at individual responsibility is to look away from social
responsibility. To look only at individual criminality is to close ones eyes
to social injustice and to close ones ears to the question or whether our
social institutes have exploited or violated the individual. Justice is
s two-way street, but criminal justice is a one-way street. Individuals owe
obligation to their fellow citizens, because their fellow citizens owe obligations
to them. Criminal justice focuses on the first and looks away from the second.
Thus, by focusing on individual responsibility of crime, the Criminal justice
system literally acquits the existing social order of any charge of Justice.
And so the vicious cycle continues…
The following is a continual of a two part interview that was conducted
with Gabriel in the January Issue of HRC Tx. – Newsletter (see Volume II
– Issue I). The first part was very informative and I think people were able
to get a lot of knowledge out of the interview. Well it is time to go a
little deeper and shed a little more light on everything around us.
Hasan: What is it and what do you aim to accomplish with it? I
mean, I know it is a newsletter, but what is the purpose of it?
Gabriel: E2L stands for: Educate to Liberate. The reason
for the 2 in the E2L is because this concept was inspired by a book I read
by Huey P. Newton called ‘To Die for The People!’ He shares their 10 point
program and one of them was “Each one, reach one, and teach one.” That means
to educate for liberation. They each continue to reach one and teach one
and now you have 4 educated and striving towards liberation. I like that
concept because without that, we don’t stand a chance as a people or a class
being stepped on by an oppressive government. So for each person who may
read the newsletter, it is education for liberation and they should pass
it on for someone to be educated and liberated. The newsletter is pretty universal.
My aim is to reach everybody in the African and Latino communities in America.
Its education to death row and the death penalty, African and Latino history
in America, the social, political and economical and academic inequities
we are subjected to, and how we can rise to be self reliant in all those
areas, as well as culturally. I am not saying I have all the answers, because
I DO NOT. Nonetheless, I see some problems and from my point of view, based
on my experiences, I share as well as others what we feel can be done about
the problems getting things going with the newsletter, but that should be
ironed out soon.
Hasan: You spoke earlier of ‘your responsibility to humanity.’
What do you do to encourage and inspire humanity inside and outside of the
Gabriel: In this confinement we are restricted so much.
In here there is so much work to be done. What I do in here? This isn’t something
I really like to talk about. To me, in a way, it’s like patting your own
self on the back for your deeds, and I’m not looking for praise from men.
Yet, I understand your reason for asking the question. Maybe what I have
to share could inspire someone else to do the same or something else – I
am always looking to do that simply because I enjoy that.
As you know, I am one who grew up in a run down, poverty stricken neighborhood
where gangs, drugs, prostitution and violence were commonplace (The Ghetto).
A place where role-models are drug lords and gang members. A place where
one develops a false sense of manhood and lives in a perpetual state of fear.
No, we’re not talking about death row just yet! I speak about a sub-division
in Pomona, California, and another in San Antonio. These are the places
I grew up, and San Antonio is the county that placed me in captivity. 2 years
and 10 months later I found myself on Texas death row in a 5 by 9 cage.
There I sat, young, unconscious, and with no idea of where I was or where
I was going. That was 7 ½ years ago, Hasan. October 14, 2004, I can
hold my head up and say to the world, “I have embraced the gates of manhood,
and I am no longer that young, unconscious individual whom was sent to death
row under truly controversial circumstances.
In this area of my life, there is so much that needs to be shared, and
so much that needs to be understood, but that is a story for another time.
My point is, I understand what it is like coming here young, from the ghetto,
uneducated, unconscious to the governmental conspiracies aimed at trying
to make me a failure and lead me to my current situation: Death Row! I eventually
became aware. So what I do in here is seeing these young, unconscious individuals
who come from the same circumstances, and I reach out to them trying to
make them aware of their surroundings, what led them to this reality – all
the elements many of us are not aware of politically, socially and economically
which subjects us to the injustice system for their brand of Justice. I
was involve din the negative, self-destructive aspect of gang life. Where
I’m from you are raised into it. It’s not something you just wake up and
decide you are going to do. In the Ghetto, it’s a certain way of survival
for the hostile surroundings. So almost all get involved, they get involved
with the dope selling, and everything else surrounding street life. So I know
what goes through these young cats minds. I was selling crack cocaine by
the time I was 8, gang active by 9, and so far gone into the gang and drug
selling life by the age of 15 that I didn’t know or see any other way, or
a way out. I know how it feels to be in that situation and end up here still
lost. Though I am no longer involved in any of that madness and negativity,
I reach out to those who are, try to awaken them to something better, because
many of just weren’t aware that there is something better, that there is
another reality aside from the one we were living in the ghetto. So this is
something I do in there reaching out to the youngsters. Damn, I said that
like I’m old, I’m not old, just 30, but I’m saying, though, I know the pain
at being lost and unconscious, so I reach out to ones who come from where
I came from and experienced what I did to show them: There’s purpose in life,
doing positive things, serving humanity – and it feels good! REAL GOOD! I
share with them books that opened my eyes, but books only teach so much. I
do better just sharing experiences and what I have learned. That’s what inspires,
because many of the youth can feel that a lot better than just reading study
books on social, political, judicial, penal etc. re-form!
As for what I do on the outside? Bruh, that’s the purpose of my newsletter
– to reach the outside world. So once I get it going, which it’s been a
while in the making, I’ll be reaching that outside world, and prison as well
because I want it circulating everywhere!
Hasan: Ok, I also recall you speaking on Social Responsibility
as well. This is something powerful! I like! Now, how can one command such
a responsibility? Also, how does one go about carrying out that responsibility?
I mean, how can one even recognize their social responsibility, because
some people cannot even recognize it or even know they have it. Enlighten
Gabriel: Bro, you can’t force anyone to recognize their
social responsibility. What is the difference in responsibility for humanity
and social responsibility? In my opinion, I do not think there is a difference.
You are still dealing with human beings, inspiring them and trying to make
a better way of life, or change lives for the better.
I do not think you can command social responsibility although we all
have it whether we are aware or not. This is why when I reach to ones that
may be unconscious, I do not take the route of them having responsibilities.
Most of us growing up unconscious like we did, haven’t been responsible
with our own selves, and yet I am commanding someone to be responsible for
a community etc.?
Nobody made me realize my own. It was only through my own journey, through
just wanting to better myself, through spiritual enlightenment and application
of that knowledge did I become aware of my divine responsibility to not
only myself, but others as well. But it took me helping myself first before
I could help anyone else. It was by bettering my own inner state that automatically
made me want to better my physical reality and manifest something better,
and that made me realize I had a social responsibility to do that.
I perceive life to be all cause-and-effect. For every action there is
a reaction. I look at the state of the world today and shake my head in shame.
Man is so ignorant that he doesn’t realize he himself is manifesting his
own reality. Man didn’t have to manifest Armageddon – we could literally live
in an Utopian society. Don’t we know how beautiful a place we could live
in? But….the Spirit is tainted – and wounded. Anyhow, the realization is
that man fears change, thus our change (elevation) is met with resistance
on every level. That is difficult to deal with. So I don’t command social
or humanitarian responsibility from anyone. The way I see it is: Change man
and you change society. Try to change society without the inner change in
man, and confusion will be the sole result.
How can we expect someone still mentally and spiritually in the slums
to rise to social responsibility? We can’t. So I strive to inspire them to
first rise within themselves mentally and spiritually. First better their
inner state of being on all levels. When they do that, automatically they
embrace social responsibility, responsibility to Humanity! Because automatically
they want their outer reality to reflect their inner state of being.
Hasan: I feel that! Has sensory deprivation affected you?
If so, please tell me how?
Gabriel: I am sure the effects are on us all in one form or
another; some endure and some don’t. I don’t really know how it has affected
me. Maybe I am crazy and just don’t know it (smile). You know how they say
when a person is crazy, they don’t even realize it! No Bro., I am just messing
with you….sometimes I have my times when I get depressed and feel discouraged.
I feel so drained, from sensory depravation that I literally feel like
doing nothing at all. Some days it puts me in a foul mood to where I don’t
want to be bothered. Some days I feel a destructive rage and anger although
I do not act on it. And I feel that way at times because something as simple
as not being able to hug you or shake your hand, Hasan. Or because sometimes
I’m overwhelmed with a lot and I can’t even go sit somewhere with you in
private and tell you what’s going and listen and vibe with you knowing
you’d understand, and maybe that’s just what I needed to feel better.
But on the flip side is…….My attitude is something else. My Queen always
told me ‘Mi amore (that means ‘My Love’ in Spanish), there is nothing in
this world you can’t handle. Nothing can break you unless you choose to let
it. You are your biggest limitation…’ It took me becoming a grown man to understand
it, but her always telling me nothing can break me that I can handle anything,
that is my attitude: That is my truth! Nothing can break me – I can endure
anything! So though it’s hell in here, the positive to it is that I am, in
a sense, forced to sit down with myself and what I go through and deal with
it in a positive manner. In the end I walk away stronger and wiser. So the
challenge (not mattering how difficult), keeps me going and ever-rising.
Hasan: What is your take on street organizations and have
you been involved yourself?
Gabriel: First of all, who of us can deny the Revolutionary
influences on our walks of life? Many don’t know our history, and others
deny it, but to deny that Revolutionaries did not influence the formations
of street organizations would be like saying Black folks didn’t come from
Africa, and Cubans didn’t come from Cuba. You can’t deny the origination.
Being that I have been personally involved in a street organization since
I was a child, I have first hand knowledge and experience. But as I stated
earlier – I am no longer a part of the self-destructive lifestyle of current
street organizations! My take on street organizations is that they all began
for good reasons and with good causes. I was a CRIP for instance, and what
it meant was: Community Revolutionary Independence Party Services! It was
formed to protect the black community against racist cops who would come
through the neighborhood trying to brutalize and kill black people, to provide
for the less fortunate etc. This was back in 69. BLOODS & PIRUS were about
the same things, which is why BLOOD means: Brothers Lets Organize Or Destruct!
In other words let’s organize and come together against a racist system who
wants to brutalize and eradicate us simply for our skin color, or destroy
if we don’t come together and organize. PIRU stands for: People In Righteous
Unity! These were all beautiful causes, plights towards helping and building
the community, as well as protecting the community against racist cops. These
organizations were inspired by the Black Panther Party for self-defense. Unfortunately
by then they had been wiped out, and these organizations lacked knowledge
and being organized. Take into consideration that CIONTELPRO was still in
effect trying to destroy all Black and Latino organizations who chose to
stand up against racism, social, political and economical inequity etc. They
were united. To this day it is not clear as to who exactly caused the division
amongst CRIPS, BLOODS and PIRUS. It is suspected that COINTELPRO paid to
have a member of one organization killed, and made it look like it was done
by another. From there the division began, and from being a United Front
everybody started fighting and killing amongst themselves.
In 1972 the CRIPS tried to find its way back to the essence and real
cause of its foundation. A new constitution was drawn up for reform, and
still things got worse. But that had a lot to do with the government’s doing.
Anytime a truce was made and brothers tried to unite and reorganize, the
government paid to have someone from one faction killed and make it look
like it was done by another that were consolidated. They divided and conquered.
And to this day the self-destruction in the Black and Latin communities
continues. But, till, there are things being done by the older heads in
prison, and some who are still out there in attempts to unite and reform.
I am very much involved in that, trying to educate the ones still living
self-destructive lifestyles. One of the elements that plays an integral part
in the self-destructive lifestyle is that a lot of these younger ones are
not being taught the truth of the factions they are a part of. They are
being given these misconceptions about it’s about being Gangstaz, Pimps,
Hustlaz and all that, and that totally contradicts the essence of these factions.
These same cats claim to do it all in the name of Love For The Hood!
Bruh, how can you love your ‘hood’ when everything you do contradicts that
love, everything you do destroys you, and your community, the very same
community your children and grandchildren will grow up in? And if we don’t
do something to change it, our children and grandchildren will be doing
the same things we once did out there in ignorance.
Brotha, I can’t speak for everyone, but I myself, can never see me going
back to the self-destructiveness we once lived by. I love and respect myself,
my children and my community and my people too much for that. Hasan, you
know what’s up bro! You used to bang too, the same thing that I did. I know
people around here hear you and me talk about building the community, rising,
eradicating the negativity and a lot of those who are still unconscious can’t
fathom that, they think that is week – and to each their own. At the same
time bro, the reason I am so involved in trying to wake these young brothas
and sistas up to the reality is because number 1 – I got love! And 2, we
(you, me, and many others) are just as much to blame because we once promoted
and glorified the negative lifestyles. Now we’re fighting against stigmas
that we once helped create. It’s ironic. We live in a society that helps
us oppress ourselves. They help us glorify things that will belittle us,
because this is how they stay up and we stay down. If we were ever given a
fair chance we’d definitely rise to Power because we are natural cultivators
and intellectuals. Our aggressors and oppressors know that. This is why we
are constantly bombarded by the drugs, guns, poverty, discrimination, physical
resistance, manipulation which breeds division, self-hate, depression, confusion,
anger and so on. It’s a mental war tactic. Why mental? Because the mind controls
the body. The mind and spirit are one team – it’s like a quarterback and the
center. You have to have a center to snap the ball to the quarterback. Without
that you can’t even run a play!
What we have come to realize though, is that we are parts of a greater
whole. And like I said earlier, we can’t deny the revolutionary influences
on our walks of life. Many don’t know our history, and others deny it,
but as I said earlier: To deny that revolutionaries did not influence our
formations in street organizations is like saying Africans didn’t come
from Africa and Cubans didn’t come from Cuba. You can’t deny the origination.
Therefore, for us to become revolutionary minded (which is what you, I,
and many others have become, and are striving to wake others up to be) would
this not be us just coming full circle? Think on that.
What’s revolutionary? Does that mean brothas screaming “Right On”, or
“Viva Cuba” and wearing berets and stuff like that? No! That was just a trend
of the time. Revolutionary is within not without! Revolutionary is created
of three essences, Revolve/Evolve/Evolution. The bottom line is that all
3 of these things deal with motion, moving, changing. This is the essence
of it because, if you’re not growing, you are dying. If you aren’t evolving,
you are shrinking to stagnant. That’s key brotha. So; revolution is not
solely about overthrowing a government, it is about change! In our lifetime
revolution has been pointed at governments because…..they got stagnant.
So, it was out with the old and in with the new. But, do not let media
and propaganda categorize such terms. Look at the depth of the words. Revolution……starts
with YOU! For ones like us – the most revolutionary things we can do is define
ourselves. If we do not know who we are as Africans, Latinos etc., as human
beings, how can we expect to manifest? When we define ourselves this does
not mean we limit ourselves – it means we attain something to ourselves
for the time. Today I may build cards, but tomorrow I may have to build
a garden so we can eat.
Stay out of the box. With all that said, I am very much involved – but
not in the negativity. Only positive. I am involved in helping these brothas
and sistas to define themselves culturally, spiritually, politically, etc.
because when we know who we are, where we come from, and how we got here,
we’ll know where we need to be going and how to get there. Educate 2 Liberate
bro! That’s my motto!
Hasan: What’s your message to those that wish to get involved?
Gabriel: Well….if I encountered a young brother who was infatuated
with the self-destructive aspect, I’ll tell him all those glitters ain’t
gold bruh. It’s not fun being on the corner slanging dope to take care of
your family. It is not fun having to watch your back everywhere you go, peeping
your rearview for rivals, losing homies to the system, to drive by killings,
to drug addiction. It is not fun being in a gang war where it is so crazy
you have to take a shit with the light off; in the dark with an assault
rifle on your lap and you got the light off cause you are afraid your enemy
may see your shadow on the window and kill you where you sit – that’s not
fun, funny, manly or being real. That is fucked up!
I’ll tell you something that is still very shameful for me even to this
day. When my older daughter was 1, one early morning I drove her mother to
work, and I was taking my daughter to my mother’s house so she could see
her Gramma cause she loves her Gramma, and as I am sitting at a red light
I see a Cadillac pull up right behind me. They are rival gang members. They
know me and I know them – I was well-known in them streets. I can see them
contemplating if they should try and get me. They can’t see my daughter, and
my only concern at that moment is her. I was afraid they’d shoot at me with
her in the car. Right there I put the car in park, I had a Mac-11 which is
a gun that looks like an uzi with a 30-shot clip, I opened the card door,
got out with the gun and ran straight at them aiming and letting loose. Nobody
was killed. I wasn’t trying to be crazy or stupid. My daughter was in the
car, I figured if I got out and did that I would protect her, and if they
shot at me I was away from the car by that time. That’s not the point. Point
is this is life, life isn’t a game. Whether we realized it or not back then,
I put my own child in jeopardy – there is nothing funny about that. To this
day I still carry shame at that. You got to be stupid to take risks like that.
These are the type of things I would share with these cats who want to join
a gang and live self destructive.
The lifestyle ain’t shit. I said that! Meant that! Represent that! I
would tell that same person that if he wants to get down with the real,
to educate himself to the true essence of what he wants to represent, be
whatever party he wants to be a member of. Learn about who he is as an
African, Latino, etc. I would tell him to become a part of the positive
so that he can help be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem,
because if he really has love, then building and preserving it is what
that love is all about – not destroying it and future generations that will
follow in his/her footsteps. But honestly, you just can’t tell the young
brothers and sisters, you gotta be involved in their lives, be an example
by action of the thing we speak.
Hasan: Do you think street organizations are the baby’s of
the so-called justice system?
Gabriel: Of course, no doubt about that! How do you
think heroin, cocaine, crack and all other drugs got into the Black and
Latino communities? How did the guns get there? Back in the 40’s, 50’s,
60’s etc. we didn’t have nothing. We sure didn’t have air planes and submarines
to fly tons and tons of cocaine into the Black and Latin communities, we
didn’t have planes to fly in tons of guns into the Black and Latin communities.
The government did that to destroy us, knowing they could make profit from
us by free labor from prison. That is why the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
states that no person will be forced into slavery or free labor unless they
have been convicted of a crime! Slavery never died, or got abolished. It
simply changed form. Prison became the new form of slavery which is why we
know it is nothing but INSTITUTIONALIZED SLAVERY! Why did the government leave
that in the constitution? Because they saw their vision for a new way to
keep us enslaved. It’s a setup. Flood the ghettos and barrios with guns and
drugs, pass laws to make it illegal, let them kill themselves and whoever
is left, we’ll put them in our new form of slavery (prison) and make a profit
of them. That is why the prison industry is a multi-billion dollar industry
now. Who do you think invests in those private prisons? Politicians like
Bush, corporations like Meryl Lynch, AT&T, etc. Corporations are dictating
politics today. They pay the politicians to have it their way. They pay
the politicians, the politicians dictate the prosecutors, judges, and guess
who gets fucked? We do!
Hasan: Let’s go into the belly of the beast now, what are
some of the problems here on the Polunsky Unit?
Gabriel: Everything is messed up! Total isolation, no
physical interaction! No educational system whatsoever. The isolation is
causing sensory deprivation which has people falling into deep states of
depression and never coming back, causing suicide, causing people to lose
control or emotions taking anger out on everybody, taking violent actions
against each other and guards as well. The food rations are ridiculous,
the food is often spoiled, cold and under-cooked and medical treatment is
a complete joke! The showers are never cleaned right, and you have nats
flying around in there, people catching foot and skin infections (rash and
fungus). The cells are falling apart. When it rains, they leak. And they
continue to add more restrictions, such and not being able to have certain
books, magazines. You can only have a very small amount of property in you
cell. They try to suppress our voice by cutting down on the amount of stamps
we can purchase at the prison store. We were once allowed to purchase 50
stamps, plus 50 stamped envelopes. Now we can only purchase 30 stamps every
2 weeks. They did that to try to cut down on our correspondence. You can’t
have visits with certain media outlets. And if you have a media interview
with a certain media outlet, they will not let you have anymore with that
same one. They want to shut us up, treat us like trash and then kill us.
Hasan: How can we as prisoners go about fixing this then?
Gabriel: Bro, we can talk about this all day. First of all,
we need to unite and take action. We need to protest non-violently on a collective
scale. But we don’t have that kind of unity here. Without that we don’t
stand a chance. But we can file lawsuits and write up arguments that activists
in the free world can take and file to the courts and legislature.
Hasan: Now I know this is a long interview, seems like we’re
interviewing for Oxford or something (smile). But seriously, how can we seek
positive change and help end the cycle of incarceration of our young and
so-called minority? And by we, I mean us prisoners? One more thing: What advice
can you give to the people that come from our background?
Gabriel: Bro, long interview? This isn’t an interview, this
is a book! Go ahead and tell everybody how I don’t like doing interviews.
Say everybody, this big meat head ass brother had to tie me down to my desk
and typewriter and make me do the interview! That’s alright, cause when
he lets me up, I’m gonna bite his pintoslantback head ass right on the back
of that big meaty ass head he got (smile)! Just look at that big ol’ head
he got. Damn I know his shoulders and neck hurts trying to hold all that
head up! (smile). Alright bruh, I’ll quit cutting on you. That’s for all
them times you cut on me! (smile). It is all love. He didn’t tie me to
my desk an typewriter yall, he can’t, cause we’re isolated. And if we weren’t,
he’d still have to catch me first! (smile). Let me stop trippin man, can’t
be serious all the time. We need to laugh at times because people out there
like you all keep your hope strong and alive!
Now to answer your questions: I don’t claim to have all the answers to
all of the problems. To stop that ugly cycle, I think there is only so
much we can do. We can try to teach our own children how to side-step this
situation. We can educate them to who we are as a people, we can write
books for children, for grownups too. We can use ourselves as examples
on how not to be. Not to say we are negative. We are certainly positive
and on the correct path. But we once were, and we can always use our mistakes
to teach those out there which is something I often try to do with my kids.
But bro, we can only do so much. To avoid incarceration, I think the education
has to start in the home: Cultural, political, spiritual, economical, social,
etc. education. Your foundation is knowing who you are on all levels, and
that starts in the home. That’s where the foundation is laid. That sets
the direction in life. Without that it’s like blindfolding your child, spinning
them around and just letting their dizziness take them wherever it leads
By not educating them on all levels, I feel that’s exactly what we do.
Had I grown up in a house where my mother had taught me about my history
as an Afro-Cuban on all levels, I would have had that identity as a child.
Therefore when I saw these cats on the streets where I grew up, I would
have know off the top: “Naw, that’s not me, that’s not my purpose! I come
from a line of Revolutionaries who fights injustice, racism, fascism, imperialism,
colonialism, capitalism. I know what’s creating the circumstances in my
environment – I’ll be part of the solution, not the problem.”
Unfortunately I did not know. So watching my own family in the streets
selling dope, banging’ etc., and seeing everybody else I was growing up
with doing it, this is what I embraced as being me and us. Why? Because
I did not know who I was as an Afro-Cuban, as a human being, and was fed
misconceptions about what being real and a man is. But that is part of the
set-up! That they don’t have good schools in America that teach African History
or Latin History; the truth anyways! They got this bullshit in school about
how Columbus discovered America! Yeah right! He stole America! And as we
know, history is always told by the victor, that is why it is all his-story.
The system purposely deprives us of our history and knowledge of self on
all levels. That keeps us lost and confused.
As to what advice I would give to people from our background? Well, I
would direct it at the youth, especially the ones in them streets banging
and hustling and stuff. I would tell them to educate themselves about self
and that what we all need to learn to forget our differences. When we come
together, we don’t come together as Baptists or Methodists (or CRIPS or BLOODS).
We don’t catch hell because you’re a Methodist. You don’t catch hell because
you are a BLOOD, and you don’t catch hell because you are a CRIP…..You catch
hell because you are a Black or a Latino man. Al of us people of color catch
hell for the same reason. We need to come together against the same oppressor.
One more thing, many still continue to bang on the unconscious and self
destructive level, yet a new consciousness is dawning (and I am proud to
be a part of that positive consciousness); and a positive revolutionary transition
however gradual, is taking place. And in that stirring of bodies and meetings
of minds, revolutionaries (Bunchy Carters, Fred Hamptons, George Jacksons,
Che Guevaras and Sanyika Shakurs of the new Millennium) are in the making.
Adding to the number that the repressive establishment will have to reclassify!
Because gang actions are seen as self-destructive (and they are) and not
a threat to the security of this country, it’s not necessary for them to
stop you. But if you begin to question the right of those in authority or
resist the chains that constantly bind you, then you’ll be elevated as a
security risk and more than likely put in the Agitators Index file.
Many of us are destined for the Agitators Index file because we stand
with and for our people, not against our people! I want to see that number
of us grow in standing with our people. We are destined for the Agitators
Index file because we are extending LOVE to our people and community nationwide.
And much love to all the bangers who are waking up to a great truth and
doing something to make a difference no matter how big or small.
In closing I’d like to thank you brother for this time and opportunity.
We know I don’t like doing interviews too much – they can be draining. But
in all actuality, man it’s been a blessing and an honor to do it with you.
Thanks for creating an avenue to give those of us here a voice in here. I
know you often catch problems just for that alone because they want to suppress
us, shut us up completely and murder us. So I respect what you do and it’s
been a real blessing to be an integral part of that. And to all of you out
there who have love for us, help and support us, whether I know you or not
– it’s all love. And I can’t say thank you enough!
One more thing about the death penalty and I will sit my long winded
ass down somewhere! (smile). To anyone who may be reading this, the US
ranks along with China, Iran and Iraq in its uncivilized use of the death
penalty. No other country in the western world is so barbaric. Even in the
rest of the world only Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen execute children
under the age of 18 years of age, as does the United States. As recently
as 1989, the US Supreme Court upheld executions of 16-year-old children.
24 states allow the execution of children under the age of 18. 38 have the
capital punishment. The United States Supreme Court and the majority of the
judges that sit on the panel refuse to recognize that the death penalty is
arbitrarily and capriciously applied. Or that it is cruel and unusual punishment.
That it is racist and discriminatory. That is a violation of human rights,
it denies due process of law and it is clearly unconstitutional. It is embarrassing
to live in a country where the decisions of the highest judges in the land
are so irrational, so unenlightened and so lacking in human decency. The Supreme
Court justices ought to lead society in setting the highest moral and ethical
standards for the country rather than dragging us back into the middle ages.
As long as the general public continues to ignore the issue involved
in the practice of executing people, this gross violation of conscience
will continue. The criminal justice system isn’t capable of correcting its
own errors and it is not capable of leading society to adopt a more civil
enlightened policy. In closing I would like to thank you brother for this
time and opportunity. We know I don’t like doing interview too much, they
can be draining. BUT, in all actuality man, it’s been a blessing and an
honor to do it with you. Thanks for creating an avenue to give those of
us here a voice in here. I know you often catch problems just for that alone
because they want to suppress us, shut us up completely and murder us. So
I respect what you do, and it’s been a real blessing to be an integral part
of that. And all of you out there who have love for us, help and support
us, whether I know you or not, its all love, and I can’t say thank you enough…..Peace
and Blessings to you all!
You can reach Gabriel at……
Gabriel Gonzalez #999225
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, Tx. 77351
CCADP Penpal Request - PLEASE WRITE
Death Row is an arena where Political and Sociological policies
of Power, Retribution, and
Violence encase a man in steel and concrete until he, himself, becomes
as strong as steel, and his heart as hard as concrete. But steel is
strong, yet pliable, and may change into many forms. And a Heart of
concrete still beats like thunder and Love and Life split it open to care
for others, and greater Principles embodied in self and integrity.
I am a 25 year old Cuban man with a strong love for life, and people who
are Real, and sincere enough to be themselves, and who care to know me.
I lived much of my life in California before coming to Texas. I have
three beautiful children who I love very much. I enjoy working out,
writing, poetry and music, as well as letters, listening to music and reading.
If you would like to know more, to really know who I am, write... Respectfully yours,
I would greatly appreciate it if you would locate me a pen pal to correspond
with during my trying times of existence here within Texas death row.
I would prefer to correspond with females or men who are at least 25 years
old and up. Personally I'm a 26 year old Cuban man, formerly
residing in California. I have 3 beautiful children also.
I have just begun my struggle within the confines of this hell hole called
"death row" just 3 years ago. I know my struggle will be long
and hard, and I would simply like to be able to share thoughts and strength
with anyone sincere enough to be willing to correspond with someone like
myself. Thank you sincerely, Gabriel Gonzalez # 999225\
****** DEC 2004 addition :
GREETINGS ! There resides within me a foohearted mischievous little
man. He seats the throne of my heart. He is abomination of Billy
Goat laughter serenatng the afflictions that hold him court. He's
a free spirti; a rascal that farts sentences like "Be Happy", and "Smile
Sucker" when my time becomes particularly dffiicult in this sterile and harsh
prison. I depend on him to get me through. He is a spitting image
of all things I consider beautiful and humanitarian. A taipan curls
contentedly around his warm rock head, and his beard is a colorful rainforest
of talking trees. This little man is really the embodiment of my imagination.
I thrive on fleeting moments to be him in real life. These death
row years have forced me to depend on him to maintain my serenity; and he
has grown more restless as my appreciation for life has deepened. I
want to share him with you. I want to make you laugh; listen to your
stories and dreams....I want to catch your tears in my palms, hold them till
they take root, nurture them into trees that bare smiley faced fruits. Write
if you like to smile!
Gabriel Gonzalez # 999225
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston Texas 77351 USA
The CCADP offers free webpages to over 500 Death Row Prisoners
Contact us for more information.
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This page was
last updated May 20, 2005
Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty
This page is maintained and updated by
Dave Parkinson and Tracy Lamourie in Toronto, Canada