Fellow Worker Uhuru Rowe was condemned to die behind bars when he was just eighteen years old. The man who passed judgment on him was shown to be part of a racially biased justice system in 1990s Richmond, Virginia. The Industrial Worker, along with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of the Industrial Workers of the World, calls on all readers to stand in solidarity with Uhuru as he petitions Governor Northam for clemency.
Please take the time to read Fellow Worker Uhuru’s request for solidarity, in his own words:
Greetings to you,
This is incarcerated fellow worker Uhuru Rowe, IWW #X380858, a 44-year-old black man who has been incarcerated in Virginia for 26 consecutive years. I have been warehoused at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Virginia for the last two years.
I am reaching out to you for your support. I, along with members of my Justice for Uhuru Coordinating Committee (JUCC), are in a long and protracted struggle to pressure Virginia governor Ralph Northam to commute my death-by-incarceration (DBI) sentence of 93 years without the possibility of parole, which was handed down upon me by a racist judge with a documented history of racial bias while on the bench. In order to accomplish this task, we are trying to build a multiracial movement based here in the Commonwealth. So I am asking you to please get involved in whatever capacity to help liberate me from my DBI sentence.
How can you help?
Upcoming events we are planning include a coordinated phone zap directed at Governor Northam’s office, urging him to commute my DBI sentence to time served; a “solidarity selfie” campaign where individuals take selfies of themselves holding a sign that reads “I support clemency for Uhuru Rowe” and post it to social media using the hashtag #FreeUhuruRowe; and a third Justice for Uhuru rally to be held in Richmond in June 2021.
These planned events will be posted on my blog and the JUCC social media. I humbly ask you to get involved in my freedom struggle. If the militant anti-racist protests in the aftermath of the police murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have taught us anything, it’s that we, the people, have the power to force change. Please help me, my friends, comrades and supporters to change my plight from slavery to freedom.
I thank you in advance for you support.
~ Please sign and share both of the following online petitions that JUCC members have posted online at:
~ Please follow and share JUCC social media at:
~ Please participate in the Solidarity Selfie campaign by posting a photograph on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with the hashtag #FreeUhuruRowe
~ Please follow and share my writings on my blog at:
Uhuru B. Rowe #1131545
Greensville Correctional Center
901 Corrections Way
Jarratt, VA 23870
Judge James B. Wilkinson, who sentenced Rowe, was a circuit court judge for Richmond, Virginia’s South Side for over thirty years1. Uhuru Rowe’s criminal sentencing was presumably a data point in a statistical analysis of over 10,000 Richmond criminal proceedings between June 30, 1994 and September 30, 1997, which showed that black defendants from Richmond’s South Side received sentences on average more than double the length of white defendants2; and that sentences were 38% longer for black defendants convicted in Richmond’s South Side compared with black defendant’s from the wealthier North Side, whereas the difference for white defendants was only 13%3. Those findings were released in 1998. Wilkinson continued to preside as a circuit judge until 2001 and died in 20111.
If Judge Wilkinson had adhered to the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission, assembled to address the racial and geographic disparities noted, Uhuru would have been eligible for release in 2006.
1. Retired Richmond Judge James B. Wilkinson dies at 84. (2019, September 19). Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved fromhttps://richmond.com/news/retired-richmond-judge-james-b-wilkinson-dies-at-84/article_b50d6237-4ebd-55e2-a702-6493211f9ce9.html
2. Computer report shows black felons receive longer sentences. (1998, March 10). The Alestle, page 8.
3. Hammel, T. (2019, December 27). Area lawyer goes to bat for inmate who says he was sentenced harshly because of his race. The Daily Progress. Retrieved from https://dailyprogress.com/news/crime/area-lawyer-goes-to-bat-for-inmate-who-says-he-was-sentenced-harshly-because-of/article_5d8014d7-27d2-595d-8853-feb59e46268d.html