Prisoners of Conscience Committee
From Social Justice Wiki
What is the Prisoners of Conscience Committee?
"We are not a prison activist organization. We are a revolutionary organization." -Fred Hampton, Jr.
The Prisoners of Conscience Committee was founded by Fred Hampton, Jr. during the nine years he spent in jail in the 1990's. In the words of Chairman Fred, Jr: "[The POCC] was literally birthed from behind enemy lines, its birth canal was the concentration camps, its umbilical cords are the prison chains." Now a national organization, the P.O.C.C engages in revolutionary work throughout the country, both through their own programs and through coalition building with other revolutionary peoples and organizations.
"I always knew 'Aint nobody gonna save us but us,' says Hampton, Jr., "So now how can we get as many people organized as possible?" Coalition building is extremely important, and the P.O.C.C. is able to connect with people "locked up in different struggles" by framing the conversation in terms of the concetration camps and the prisoners held captive within them.
Many organizations differ over what constitutes a political prisoner of war, but Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. contends that "all prisoners are political."
In their own words they are "an organization that consists of African Revolutionary Freedom Fighters whose agenda is to liberate the minds and hearts of African and Colonized people." Though they do not consider themselves a prison activist organization, the P.O.C.C. uses what happens inside the concentration camps as a type - a model to explain the oppressive power structure on the outside.
POCC Clarification of Terms:
"We must start using brutal terms for the brutal realities we exist in."- Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr.
The POCC does not use terms defined for them, but instead promotes terminology that can more accurately convey the severity of the situation they are addressing. For example,
Prisons--> "Concentration Camps"
Gentrification--> "Land Grab"
Police Brutality--> "Police Terrorism"
AIDS, Heroin, Crack, Ebola--> "Chemical & Biological Warfare"
Harriet Tubman Code
Members of the POCC teach and live by this code which is summed up by M1, Minister of Culture of the POCC, as: 'Leave no brother or sister behind enemy lines." Anyone "fortunate enough to come from behind enemy lines cannot forget those who are still held captive."
An example of this spirit of accountability is that of Aaron Patterson, Minister of Defense of the POCC, currently held behind enemy lines. Upon release from jail after 17 years on Death Row on a false conviction, he took the $100,000 restitution given him by the state of Illinois to use as a bond on another prisoner's release. The P.O.C.C. is currently engaged in a campaign to free Aaron Patterson.
Please see the SF Bayview for more information.
POCC Educational Epic
Chairman Fred Hamtpon, Jr. and the P.O.C.C. make a clear distinction between being educated and being trained. Academic education must be used for the purposes of liberation! Academics writing books simply for the sake of writing books, and not with the purposes of making change, is unacceptable. These are exercises in futility or "Intellectual Masturbation," as Fred Hampton, Jr. calls them. Classrooms should be places of revoluationary change: class projects, according to the P.O.C.C., should be real work, like actively working on the case of death row inmate and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
POCC Code of Culture
“There're too many of us in Sing Sing for us to be talking about bling bling.”- Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr.
The P.O.C.C's Code of Culture applies to artists and musicians and is a call for cultural production to work toward positive change and not to distract from the battles at hand. An example: Puff Daddy cancelled his Chicago wing of a 'Vote or Die' campaign because the P.O.C.C. and community members would not allow the campaign to cross Illinois state lines. They say, "Organize or Die!" not Vote or Die.
“We have nothing to lose, but our chains," Karl Marx wrote, and the P.O.C.C. adds: “and ours ain’t platinum.”
Specifics of the P.O.C.C.
"The great grandchildren of Garvey, offspring of Malcolm and the cubs of Panthers." -Fred Hampton, Jr.