Sekou Kambui – Life After 47 Years as a Political Prisoner

From Unicorn Riot:

sekou

Denver, CO – It has been two years since Sekou Kambui was released from the Alabama prison system after spending 47 years of his life incarcerated. He and fellow Human Rights activist Audri Scott Williams spoke in Denver on Thursday, July 14th, 2016 at an event hosted by Denver Anarchist Black Cross about his life after prison and their current collective work.

During his teenage years in the 1960s, Sekou participated in the Civil Rights movement through mobilizing fellow youth in Alabama and providing security for meetings of the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC), Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

When Sekou was 19 years old, he became affiliated with the Black Panthers Party for Self-Defense, as well as, the Republic of New Afrika. In the 1970s, Sekou spent most of his time community organizing in Birmingham, Alabama with the Alabama Black Liberation Front, the Inmates for Action, and the Afro-Amerikan People’s Party.

kambuiBecause of his activism in the Civil Rights movement, he was watched closely by the FBI’s counterintelligence program entitled COINTELPRO, and was subsequently profiled and pulled over on January 2, 1975 for allegedly running a yield sign and/or speeding. During the traffic stop the officer found a pistol in Sekou’s vehicle, and after strong suspicion by the officer that it was the weapon listed as stolen during a Tuscaloosa, Alabama murder, Sekou was taken into custody and charged for the murders of the two white men; a fireman and KKK official Olmstead Copeland and multi-millionaire oilman John Harbin.

Throughout both trials, major witnesses admitted that they had been coerced into testifying falsely against Sekou and were repeatedly visited by certain members of the Tuscaloosa County and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and were deliberately coached on what to say during their testimonies.

Sekou was never placed at or near the crime scene, the real murder weapon was never found, nor was there ever any direct evidence to connect him to the murders.

While in prison Sekou remained politically active by becoming a jailhouse lawyer and prisoners’ Civil and Human Rights activist. Many prisoners owe their freedom to Sekou’s legal efforts on their behalf. He has won numerous civil actions regarding medical malpractice, abusive treatment, abusive segregation, and abusive prison conditions.

Sekou explains his motivation for becoming a jailhouse lawyer:

“Once I entered prison, what was I going to do but do the same thing I did out of prison? And that was organize—fight the powers that be for a better life and quality of life. The prisons were overcrowded and people in beds were about as close as arm-to-arm. It was filthy and the food was bad. A lot of times you’d find feces from some animal or another—mice, roaches, whatever. You’d break open a piece of cake and it had been invaded by spiders and you’d just pull it and spider webs would come with the cake. So we had a lot of work to do. As I was becoming an up-and-coming jailhouse lawyer, I began to attack and challenge those things, and with some success. And out of their success, I became notorious throughout the prison system as one ‘leave-him-alone’ litigator.”

Since his release on June 30th, 2014, he has relentlessly continued his Civil and Human Rights activism by touring nationally with The Red Flame for Freedom. The organization’s main goal is to raise awareness about the proliferation of modern day slavery experienced through sex trafficking, human trafficking, mass incarceration, and children in poverty.

“Going back to prison is not on my agenda. It’s not an option to be considered. But I’m not going to stop doing what I’m doing. And I’m going to take every breathing moment I can to get out and propagate truth and reveal the lies about what’s going on behind prison walls,” Sekou added.

redflameforfreedom

Audri Scott Williams, one of the founders of The Red Flame for Freedom, spoke about her lengthy and expansive international and national Human Rights activism. Since 2000, she has participated in and organized many walks for social justice change, the environment, and for many more causes.

During the Q&A dialogue, Audri added:

“It’s that relentless pursuit of what calls you, alright, and believe me you wouldn’t be sitting here if something wasn’t calling you. We’re living at a time now where the issues are so big and so broad that you can literally just pick one and go for it. The biggest challenge is not whether there’s something you can align with, the biggest challenge is you must know that you can make a difference.”

Sekou is also involved in the Free Alabama Movement, which is an organization formed by people in men’s prisons in Alabama to fight mass incarceration and prison slavery “that supports the Non-Violent and Peaceful Protests for Civil and Human Rights by the men and women (and children) who are incarcerated in Alabama, Mississippi, and anywhere else in the U.S.A.”

Watch the entire presentation by Sekou Kambui and Audri Scott Williams here:


 

 
If you would like to support their organization, click here.

UPDATE: Phone Blast for Ely Hunger Strike

Ely

Corrected 11:31AM MST:
———————-
UPDATE JULY 22:
Yesterday, five of the original six protesters ended their hunger strike when personal demands had been met. Three have since been moved out of Disciplinary Segregation.

Thank you everyone who helped! They greatly appreciate your support.

The fight is not over:

Two of the strikers are still being held in Segregation. One of them, Marcus Hagerman, was told he’d be moved out before administration suddenly changed their mind with no explanation. Marcus strongly believes he is being targeted. Guards are treating him differently and Warden Renee Baker is alleging him to be the leader. As a result Marcus has gone back on hunger strike (solo). He will continue until ALL his demands are met.

Please take a couple minutes to send him a letter and show support:

Marcus Hagerman #1093533
Box 1989
Ely, NV 89301-1989

– – – – – – – – – –
https://www.facebook.com/events/1766723410250080/
July 18 – July 19

As of July 12th, prisoners at Ely State Prison (Nevada) went on hunger strike in protest of the policies and conditions of the Disciplinary Segregation Units. We’ll be publishing their names shortly. We encourage everyone to send them letters to boost their morale and let them know they are supported. It’s been confirmed that six prisoners are still going strong with the hunger strike. Warden Renee Baker has given some prisoners their MP3 players back. She also said to send a kite if without shower shoes, and a free pair will be given. Both prisoners and supporters believe she is only doing this to dissuade them, but the hunger strikers have said they will NOT give up until all demands are met!

Please take a couple minutes to support these prisoners by calling one or more of the Wardens at Ely State Prison (ESP), as well as the director of Nevada DOC. Be sure to mention all five prisoner demands, and tell them to meet these demands immediately. Leave messages as needed. Afterwards, please post (reply) here to let everyone know how the conversation went and who you talked to.

Contact :
1) Ely State Prison Wardens Office (775) 289-8800 ext.3
Warden Renee Baker ext.1
Associate Warden of Operations ext.2
Associate Warden of Programs ext.3
2) NV-DOC director James Dzurenda (775) 887-3249

Sample Script:
“I’m calling because I’m concerned with the current conditions and treatment of people inside ESP (Ely State Prison). This involves prisoners who are participating in a hunger strike with humanitarian demands for the basics needs of life. We fear their concerns are being ignored and want to ensure that their grievances are being addressed and their modest demands met. Those demands include:

-That additional phones be installed so there are two phones per wing, and allow them to make two calls per day.

-2,500 calories on each day with adequate food portions.

-If write-up free, the ability to buy appliances every 60 days.

-To go to the barber two times a week.

-To be able to purchase clothes, hygiene, and food from commissary.

International Political Prisoner Database

From South Brooklyn ABCF:

prisoner-solidarity-logoIt has been several months since we updated this blog because we have been knee-deep in preparing for the beta launch of Prisonersolidarity.net, a new website built by members of the Anarchist Black Cross Federation that seeks to provide a one-stop-shop for people to get accurate and up-to-date information about political prisoners worldwide. We’re seeking to solve the problem of out-of-date prisoner lists forever!

We’ve been working on this project for two years, and as a support group for political prisoners, Prisonersolidarity.net offers a number of important features:

– A searchable, exportable database of political prisoners internationally. This enables you to do things like send birthday cards to every prisoner associated with a particular movement, or find all Amazon wishlists of prisoners associated with a particular movement.
– An openly-editable database of prisons internationally that includes contact information for prison officials, links to official rules/regulations, prison history, and lists of political prisoners housed in each prison.

Additionally, we are planning a number of awesome features for the site once we get out of beta such as an ability for people to write prisoners directly from their page, have action alerts, be notified when a prisoner’s birthday is coming up, etc. We’d appreciate your input on what features you’d like to see and hope this will be an awesome organizing resource for you!

The Criminal Legal System for Radicals: Zine Release by Tilted Scales Collective

From Tilted Scales Collective:

tilted-scales-collect

Tilted Scales Collective is excited to release a zine version of the heart of our guide to the criminal legal system in anticipation of publication through Combustion Books in late 2016.

We wrote this book after noticing that the state is highly skilled in using criminal charges to neutralize, disrupt, and destroy radical/revolutionary social movements–and that most defendants are ill equipped to handle those charges in ways that advance their struggles. We reached out to around 100 people across the country–including current and former political prisoners/prisoners of war–to provide radicals with the best tools and insights for fighting criminal charges while continuing their struggles.

An excerpt from our forthcoming book is being released in advance of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions; in a time when anti-pipeline struggles are digging their heels in to prevent those Earth-destroying projects from moving forward; in the midst of protests and rebellions around the country in response to police murders of people of color and poor people, predominantly young black men. We hope that this excerpt and our forthcoming book will help the radical Left move our communities/regions/nation closer to the revolution we are constantly fighting for.

Many thanks to Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness for designing our zine, “The Criminal Legal System for Radicals: Setting and Balancing Personal, Political, and Legal Goals.”

UPDATE: Hunger Strike at Ely State Prison, NV

Ely

– – – – – – – – – –
UPDATE JULY 15:
Brooke Keast of Nevada DOC public relations said today that two prisoners accepted their trays, leaving six still on the strike (if what she says true). We’re still waiting on confirmation from those inside.

In the mean time, make calls to the Wardens office as well as the director of Nevada DOC. Be sure to mention all five prisoner demands, and tell them to meet these demands immediately. Leave messages as needed.

1) Ely State Prison Wardens Office (775) 289-8800 ext.3
Warden Renee Baker ext.1
Associate Warden of Operations ext.2
Associate Warden of Programs ext.3

2) NV-DOC director James Dzurenda (702) 486-9910.
– – – – – – – – – –

July 13:
Last night, prisoners at Ely State Prison went on hunger strike in protest of the policies and conditions of the Disciplinary Segregation Units.

Here are their demands:

  • That additional phones be installed so there are two phones per wing, and allow us to make two calls per day.
  • 2,500 calories on each tray with adequate food portions.
  • If write-up free, we demand to be able to buy appliances every 60 days.
  • To go to the barber two times a week.
  • To be able to purchase clothes, hygiene, and food from commissary.

This morning a concerned supporter called Brooke Keast of Nevada DOC public relations. Brooke mentioned that eight prisoners refused their dinners last night. We DO NOT know how accurate Brooke’s numbers are. We’re waiting on more information from prisoners inside. Updates will be posted as they arrive.

Please support the hunger strikers. Take two minutes to call Brooke Keast (775) 350-0037 and demand that Ely State Prison meet their needs immediately. Please voice all five prisoner demands during your call.

Maroon Sues DOC and Wins! Settlement Reached

Settlement reached in Shoatz v. Wetzel

July 11, 2016: Pittsburgh PA —A settlement has been reached in the case of Shoatz v. Wetzel, which challenged the 22-year solitary confinement of Abolitionist Law Center client and political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz. This brings an end to litigation begun in 2013. In February 2014, following an international campaign on behalf of Shoatz, he was released from solitary confinement.

In exchange for Shoatz ending the lawsuit the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) has agreed that it will not place Shoatz back in solitary confinement based on his prior disciplinary record or activities; Shoatz will have a single-cell status for life, meaning he will not have to experience the extreme hardship of being forced to share a cell following decades of enforced isolation; a full mental health evaluation will be provided; and the DOC has paid a monetary settlement.

Russell Maroon Shoatz had the following to say about the settlement: “I have nothing but praise for all of those who supported me and my family for all of the years I was in Solitary Confinement, as well as helped to effect my release. Since joining the struggle for Human Rights in the mid 1960s, I have always chosen to fight! Frederick Douglass was right when he said ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand.’ So have no doubt that I see this Settlement as anything but the latest blow struck, and you rest assured that I will continue in the struggle for Human Rights. Straight Ahead!”

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Mendez, said: “This settlement is a major contribution to the quest to outlaw prolonged solitary confinement in the US and around the world. I congratulate Mr. Shoatz and his family for not giving up and his team of lawyers for a committed and highly professional approach to justice.”

Shoatz had been held in solitary confinement in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) since 1983. For 19 months between 1989 and 1991 he was held in the general population of the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth. Upon return to the PADOC in 1991 he was immediately placed back in solitary confinement and held there until February 20, 2014, when he was released to the general population at State Correctional Institution Graterford, 10 months after he filed suit in Shoatz v. Wetzel.

The case challenged the more than 22 consecutive years that Shoatz spent in conditions of solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment due to the severe deprivations of basic human needs imposed on Shoatz, including mental health, environmental stimulation, social interaction, sleep, physical health, and exercise. Shoatz also challenged violations of his procedural and substantive due process rights.

As noted by Judge Eddy in her February 2016 decision ordering a trial in the case, plaintiff’s expert, psychiatrist Dr. James Gilligan, stated in his report in the case that Shoatz has spent “virtually his entire adult life in complete and coerced social isolation (and sensory deprivation) – which is among the most abnormal and pathogenic environments in which it is possible to place a human being.”

The decision also quoted United Nations Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez, who was another expert for the plaintiff:

The conditions of detention of Mr. Russell Shoatz, in particular his indefinite solitary confinement eventually lasting 29 years, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment under customary international law standards. . . . [E]ven if isolation of inmates is not per se contrary to those practices, indefinite or excessively prolonged regimes of solitary confinement like the one suffered by Mr. Shoatz certainly do. In addition to the excessive duration and indefinite nature, his isolation contradicts the trend of all civilized Nations in that it was imposed on the basis of status determinations unrelated to any conduct in his part, and through a meaningless procedure that did not afford him a serious chance to challenge the outcome.

Shoatz was released from solitary confinement after an international campaign led by his family and supporters. The campaign to release Shoatz included the support of five Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor, Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Jody Williams from the United States, and Adolfo Perez Esquivel of Argentina. Several U.S. civil and human rights organizations also endorsed his release from isolation.

In March 2013, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Juan Mendez, called on the government “to cease the prolonged isolation of Mr. Shoat[z].” (see Democracy Now! interview with Juan Mendez and Matt Meyer discussing Maroon at this link).

Shoatz was represented in this case by Bret Grote and Dustin McDaniel of the Abolitionist Law Center; Harold J. Engel; and Reed Smith attorneys Rick Etter and Stefanie L. Burt.

Contact:

Russell Shoatz III   rshoatz@gmail.com  347-697-5390
Theresa Shoatz     tiye1120@gmail.com 267-456-7882
Bret Grote  bretgrote@abolitionistlawcenter.org  412-654-9070

Fascist Group Identity Evropa Begins Poster Campaign, Anarchists Respond

Submitted to It’s Going Down:

IEpic

Identity Evropa (IE) is a white nationalist and fascist formation headed by Nathan Damigo, a veteran and former leader of the National Youth Front (NYF), which was the youth wing of the Neo-Nazi American Freedom Party, which itself is connected to the Golden State Skinheads (GSS) and headed by LA corporate lawyer, William Johnson. Damigo was convicted of a hate crime several years ago after he pulled a gun on a cab driver in New York while intoxicated and since then has become a key player in the expanding white nationalist movement that seeks to create an all-white fascist ethno-state akin to the Confederacy on North American soil.

IE-01

 

Damigo is close with Johnny “Monoxide” Ramondetta of Berkeley, CA who does a white nationalist podcast, “John Hess,” a Neo-Nazi in the Phoenix, AZ area, and Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute (NPI) who resides in Whitefish, MT. After holding a rally on UC Berkeley in May of 2016, Identity Evropa began a poster campaign in the bay area and beyond. The posters were all quickly found and destroyed and the pictures posted by the group were often of flyers that had been ripped down over a week before, largely by random individuals on the street.

IE-02

 

Despite this, its seems that IE have been using the publicity of the event and the contacts made to ship out full color posters throughout the US. In response, people in various cities are going out and destroying this crap. If you see one in a city you live in, please get to work! Even if you don’t live in the cities listed but know someone that does, hit them up now. While you’re at it, take some time to put up some anti-fascist ones as well! See list of potential posters below.

IE-03

 

With a call out for solidarity with Sacramento Anti-Fascists on July 10th, make this an opportunity to bring people together and not only find the Neo-Nazis posters and destroy them, but also put up posters, banners, and stickers of our own. Don’t let groups like IE grow and expand, let’s smash them in their tracks and build our movement in its place. Send in reports, tweets, and pictures to itsgoingdown.org

IE-04

 

Cities Currently With IE Posters:

San Francisco, California (also here)

Santa Rosa, California

San Diego, California 

Fairfield, California 

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Topeka, Kansas

Charlotte, North Carolina

Wichita, Kansas (also here)

Aspen, Colorado

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Birmingham, Alabama

Houston, Texas

Dallas, Texas 

Atlanta, Georgia
 

Already Destroyed:

destroyed-IE-01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tempe, Arizona

destroyed-IE-02

destroyed-IE-03 destroyed-IE-04
 
Minneapolis, Minnesota

 
destroyed-IE-05
 
Chicagoist also wrote a story that essentially is a rewrite of this one.
 
Chicago, Illinois

destroyed-IE-06
 
Berkeley, California

destroyed-IE-07
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kansas City, Kansas
 

Anti-Fascist Poster PDFs

Anti-Fascist Zone
 
Make the Guillotine Red Again
 
Solidarity with the Anti-Fascist Combatants
 
Support the Sacramento Anti-Fascists
 
Nazi Scum, Your Time Has Come
 

Anti-Fascist Flyer PDFs

Antifa Zone (Size 1)
 
Antifa Zone (Size 2)
 
Keep the City Nazi Free (Size 1)
 
Keep the City Nazi Free (Size 2)
 
No Nazis
 

How to Make and Use Wheatpaste

‘The Walls Are Alive:’ How to Guide From CrimethInc.
 
Wheatepaste Recipe
 
How to Make Wheatpaste in 2 Minutes
 

 

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