Kuwasi Balagoon

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Kuwasi Balagoon
Kuwasi Balagoon.jpg
Donald Weems

December 22, 1946
DiedDecember 13, 1986

Kuwasi Balagoon (December 22, 1946 – December 13, 1986), born Donald Weems, was a New Afrikan anarchist and a member of the Black Liberation Army. After serving in the U.S. Army., his experiences of racism within the army led him to tenant organizing in New York City, where he joined the Black Panther Party as it formed, becoming a defendant in the Panther 21 case. Sentenced to a term of between 23 to 29 years,[1] he escaped from Rahway State Prison in New Jersey and went underground with the BLA in 1978. In January 1982, He was captured and charged with participating in an armored truck armed robbery, known as the Brinks robbery (1981), in West Nyack, New York, on October 20, 1981, an action in which two police officers, Waverly Brown and Edward O'Grady, and a money courier (Peter Paige) were killed. Convicted of murder and other charges[2] and sentenced to life imprisonment, he died in prison of pneumocystis pneumonia, an AIDS-related illness, on December 13, 1986, aged 39.[3][4]

Balagoon authored several texts while in prison, writings that have become influential among black and other anarchists since first being published and distributed by anarchist prisoner support networks in the 1980s and 1990s.[5]

Political Statements[edit]

In his Brinks Robbery 1981 trial, Balagoon made the following statements in defense of the BLA and its actions:[6]

"The B.L.A. is an organization that takes credit for pre-planned assassinations. In our history there are numerous instances of ambushed police where credit was clearly taken, where communiqués were issued to the media ... These ambushes have always been retaliations for terrorist acts against Black people."

"The goal of an expropriation is to collect revolutionary compulsory tax and not casualties. A unit is no better off with a guard killed. Shots are signals that alert more police more quickly and directly than an onlooker’s phone call. Guerrillas prefer to take the weapons from the holsters of guards or pick them up after they’ve been dropped, and completing the action without anyone except guards and guerrillas being any the wiser."

"The B.L.A. has a history of aiding the escapes of comrades from prisons and other detention centers. Every day we come to court there are scores of fat middle-aged cops crouching behind trees, phone poles and cars, guns at the ready. This is not because they think we can break out of handcuffs, waist chains and leg chains and then dive out of closed car windows and sprint to the next county before anyone notices what is going on. They do this because the B.L.A. does not forfeit comrades in the hands of the enemy and does not forfeit those who struggle beside us into the hands of the enemy. There are enough instances of aided escapes, attempts at escapes and fierce battles to avoid capture to make it clear how we feel and how we deal."


Guilty of murder, robbery and assault for his role in the bungled Brink's holdup in Nanuet, N.Y., 1981.

Guilty of assault and attempted murder of a police officer, 1971.


  1. ^ "Black Liberation Army member Donald Weems, wanted on murder". United Press International. January 21, 1982.
  2. ^ Associated Press (1984-10-24). "THE CITY; Defendant Guilty In 2d Brink's Case". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-08.
  3. ^ Perez Esquivel, Adolfo; Alston, Ashanti (2008), Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S. Political Prisoners, PM Press, p. 364, ISBN 978-1-60486-035-1
  4. ^ Loughery, Jessica (2006-12-13), NB: link is dead "Freedom Song: Building an Icon Out of Kuwasi Balagoon" Check |url= value (help), Philadelphia City Paper
  5. ^ https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/kuwasi-balagoon-letters-from-prison
  6. ^ ""Brink's Trial Closing Statement" by Kuwasi Balagoon (September 13, 1983)".

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]