Joe Penney is a photo-journalist based in West Africa and the co-founder of, a news site covering sub-Saharan Africa. (March 2018)

Follow Joe Penney on Twitter: @joepenney.


The Hunger Strikers of Pine Prairie Protesting Indefinite Detention by ICE

Over the last couple of years, Louisiana has become a national hub of immigrant detention, with eleven facilities that hold more than 15 percent of the total population in ICE custody. Normally, an average stay for an asylum-seeker held at Pine Prairie would be forty-five days, but the detentions of many of the African immigrants seeking refugee status now range from eleven months to two years. To protest these extraordinarily prolonged detentions, forty-eight African detainees began refusing food on August 10. “We are like slaves, and the master is ICE,” one detainee told me. “We are begging you to help us in here. We are dying, for real.”

The Fight for Justice Takes Its Toll on Ferguson Activists

Danye Jones’s mother, Melissa McKinnies, handing out flyers concerning the family’s efforts to get an investigation of Jones’s death, at a St. Louis mall, December 8, 2018

Danye Jones is one of at least five young Ferguson activists who have died since 2014. The suspicion in the activist community “speaks to the level of distrust for law enforcement in many communities in St. Louis,” said ArchCity Defenders director Blake Strode. “It speaks to what many people have experienced themselves with law enforcement, and what they believe law enforcement to be capable of.” St. Louis police have by far the highest rate of shootings in the country, with more than five per 100,000 people, and most of the victims of police shootings are black. Even black St. Louis police officers believe the St. Louis police are racist—there are two, essentially segregated police unions, one white, one black.

Africa, Latest Theater in America’s Endless War

Security forces passing near a refugee camp for Nigeriens displaced by Boko Haram attacks, Niger, 2017

From a small village in rural Niger all the way to the White House, the US military has increasing influence over American foreign policy in Africa. Niger is just one of the many countries in sub-Saharan and West Africa in which the US has trained elite military units in the name of counterterrorism. But while America is making war in Africa and military engagement morphs into a proxy for foreign policy run by the Pentagon, China is doing business.