“If one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country … one goes to the unprotected – those, precisely, who need the law’s protection most! – and listens to their testimony ... ask the wretched how they fare in the halls of justice, and then you will know, not whether or not the country is just, but whether or not it has any love for justice, or any concept of it.”

–James Baldwin

 

On 28th February 1972, the trial of African-American intellectual Angela Davis for murder, kidnapping and conspiracy began in San Jose, California. The trial resulted from a courtroom shootout in 1970 in which four people were killed.

Davis had purchased some of the firearms used in the incident. However, Davis herself was not present, and she declared herself innocent of all charges. By the time the trial had begun, nearly 300 groups had sprung up around the world, supporting her and working for her freedom. John Lennon and Yoko Ono contributed the song “Angela” to the campaign.

Angela Davis had a team of experienced lawyers, but she delivered her opening defence address herself. The defence demolished the prosecution’s case, and eventually, on 4 June, the all-white jury came back with not-guilty verdicts on all charges.

Later on, a book titled, If They Come in the Morning edited by Angela Davis herself tells of her incarceration and the struggles surrounding it. In fact, this book is perhaps the most comprehensive analysis of the prison system of the United States and the political prisoner.