by Veronza Daoud Bowers Jr.
Dear people…..I send each and every one of you my very warmest greetings from (31) plus years deep inside the Belly of the Beast.
My name is Veronza Bowers Jr. (so named after my father), but many people call me Daoud. I’m a former member and Captain of the original Black Panther Party, and even though government officials claim there are no political prisoners in this country’s prisons and jails, it’s simply not true. Having already “served” over three decades in continuous custody in federal prison, I’m one of the longest held political prisoners in the U.S of A. There are quite a number of us scattered about, but that’s a very long story.
Picture this in your mind…if you dare: After 30 years of being denied release on parole, despite the fact that your conduct has been exemplary for over (20) years and you have long since met the criteria to be released on parole, finally your MANDATORY PAROLE/RELEASE date rolls around. April 7,2004. Everything is set. Your beautiful and precious daughter, who was (5) years old when you were taken away to prison, and is now (36), sent you a top- of- the- line fashion suit of clothes so that you would be properly dressed to “step in the name of freedom, with love.” She along with three of your sisters, fly in from across the country to be there at the prison’s gate to pick you up. In fact, there will be a whole entourage of dear friends and well-wishers who will be out in front of the prison with plans to all gather at the home of a friend about an hour’s new red Cadillac’s ride away. A grand celebration is planned: a big cook-out at which your God Mother had cooked hot-wings and you favorite home-made strawberry cheesecake. Another family of friends from the Island Kingdom of Tonga, in keeping with their cultural traditions, has roasted underground fresh fish. Others are bringing all kinds of food.
There will be a live band playing, jazz and blues, a swimming pool, etc.,etc.,etc. In a word, a lot of caring people have gone through a lot of effort, not to mention expense, to welcome you into their “brave new world” far removed from the world of prison walls that had kept you on ice for so long. They are there to welcome you with unconditional love and support.
On the inside of the prison there has been “going home” gatherings put together by friends, replete with food, music, and emotion- filled, open-hearted, teary-eyed talk and laughter. Everyone came together to wish you well and a prosperous life.
You’d given away to friends all of your meager possessions: watch,alarm clock,sweat clothes, running shorts and tennis shoes, handballs, weight-lifting belt, visiting clothes and shoes, commissary items, rain poncho and winter coat. The only things you kept were (3) Tai-Hei Shakuhachi (bamboo flutes), silver flute and some books. You’d used up all your (300)-for-the-month telephone calling minutes because after April 6th you wouldn’t be needing any more from the B.O.P. You’d made the rounds, shaking hands and hugging so many men you’d probably never see again. You’d even tried to give words of encouragement and hope to young and old men alike who you were leaving behind in a very desperate and hopeless situations. Yes, the time was growing near to leave the world of concrete and steel and razor wire and gun-towers–the land of the living dead–and you were very happy and at the same time
The last “official thing” you were required to do, you did. All prisoners, on the day before their acutual release date, are required to “go on the merry-go-round,” i.e you must take a check-out form around to each department head for their signature, which means that you are cleared of all obligations to that department , viz: your commissary account is closed, your telephone access is shut off, the laundry department is satisfied that you don’t have any institutional clothing (you can’t imagine why they would think a prisoner would want to keep
any), the education/library services department are satisfied you don’t have any books checked out, and a perfunctory signature from the psychology department, Lieutenants’ office, hospital and receiving & discharge. You did all of that on April 6th. Everything is all set and good to go. “We have a lift-off, Houston!”
After doing all that, you’re sitting outside in the Native Americans’ Sweat Lodge area with two of your closest friends, just enjoying each other’s company in SILENCE. A loud announcement over the loudspeaker ordering you to “report to your unit-team immediately” breaks your peace. You KNOW that something is not RIGHT…years and years of dealing with representatives of the Beast has honed your sixth sense (maybe even a seventh one) that lets you know the “hidden” right away.
As you walk into your counselor’s office, you know what he’s about to say, even before he says it. So you focus upon that one thing that has sustained you and always pulled you through the roughest of times–even pulled you through those times when knife blades were slashing at flesh, when you learned of the passing of your Dear Mamma and the officials wouldn’t allow you to attend her funeral even though you had only seven months until your mandatory parole/release date. Yeah…one breath at a time. “You won’t be leaving tomorrow.”
You already knew that, but you didn’t know why. A strange silence fills the room, and since it’s quite obvious that some reaction is expected of/from you, you just continuing focusing upon the Breath. “Why?” “Well, all we know is that the National Parole Commission called the institution and ordered that you not be released tomorrow. The warden is very upset and he’s been on the phone with them all day trying to get some clarity.” Just like that! A simple phone call from a National Parole Commissioner in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and all of the
plans for you to be “stepping in the name of freedom, with love” are cancelled, wiped out,voided until further notice. How do you feel?… A. Me too!
September 1st, 2005 marks the 522nd Day of Unlawful Detention of Political Prisoner Veronza Bowers Jr. Check out his website for an up-date and how you can help at: www.veronza.org and/or write him at:
Veronza Bowers Jr. #35316-136
FCC Coleman Medium C-1
P.O. Box 1032
Coleman FL 33521-1032 USA