A 2011 year-end reportback from Denver Anarchist Black Cross

We hope these words find our comrades around the world in the best of health and spirit, during this time of massive social upheavel and revolt. The world has definitely seen a spread of anarchist influenced and revolutionary praxis throughout the last half of 2012, and we’ve definitely been feeling the massive change in current here in Denver.

2011 saw the busiest time yet for our collective, as we worked to support social movements active in Denver, and across the world.

GENERAL/INTERNAL:

The most recent formation of the Denver Anarchist Black Cross has now been active in the Denver metro area for 2 1/2 years. During that time our collective has seen a lot of ebb and flow with our membership and our work. However, the last 6 months of 2011 saw our collective solidify to a consistent membership base. At the close of 2011, we had 11 dues paying members, with three more people expected to complete their membership process sometime in January 2012.

2011 saw the start of what will hopefully become an annual tradition of hosting a weekend retreat for ABC members. Through events such as this one, we’ve seen our membership not only solidify numerically, but also become a tighter and more cohesive group. We look forward to our bonds continuing to strengthen in the New Year.

Denver ABC has maintained our blog at denverabc.wordpress.com for the entirety of our collective’s existence. The blog is updated nearly everyday with news about political prisoners, state repression, and other stories of interest to members and supporters of DABC.


LONG TERM POLITICAL PRISONER/POW SUPPORT:

One of the mainstays of Anarchist Black Cross work will always be support for long-term imprisoned comrades, classified as political prisoners and prisoners of war. Denver ABC has continued our dedication to supporting our kidnapped warriors through a variety of ways.

Since our inception, Denver ABC has worked to maintain a comprehensive listing of political prisoners and social movement prisoners held captive within the U.S. An electronic version of our listing is continuously updated and available at our blog at denverabc.wordpress.com. An 11th edition of a print version of that listing was made available in November, with a new edition to be made available sometime in January 2012.

For the second year, Denver ABC maintained a $30 a month stipend for long held Black Liberation prisoner, Mutulu Shakur. Mutulu had been held in Florence, Colorado, until earlier this year. After his transfer to California, DABC also donated $100 to Mutulu’s commissary fund to help him purchase personal items that were not transferred with him. DABC also helped to publish a pamphlet by Dr. Shakur, available through P&L Press: http://plpress.bigcartel.com/product/justice-and-amnesty-the-new-afrikan-policy-initiativeMore information on Dr. Shakur and his case can be found at this support website: http://mutulushakur.com

Near the end of 2011, DABC expanded our monthly stipend program to include another prisoner, Siddique Hasan, a participant in the famed Lucasville Prison uprising that took place in Ohio in 1993. Siddique is currently on death row and has started to receive a $20 monthly stipend from DABC. He relies on phone calls to supporters to help organize around the cases of the participants in the Lucasville uprising who still rot in prison cells in Ohio. More information on Siddique can be found at: https://denverabc.wordpress.com/political-prisoners-database/siddique-abdullah-hasan/

In July, DABC held our 3rd annual Running Down the Walls 5k benefit for U.S. held political prisoners. The run was held in solidarity with the chapters of the Anarchist Black Cross Federation and other ABC chapters across North America. This year’s run was the most successful by far. 40 participants helped us raise over $1,100. $800 was sent to MOVE prisoner Michael Davis Africa to be used for the purchase of a bass guitar and related equipment to help start a revolutionary jazz band within the Pennsylvania prison in which he is held. More information on Mike and his case can be found here: https://denverabc.wordpress.com/political-prisoners-database/michael-davis-africa/

Our efforts at supporting individual political prisoners also included sending $300 each to the last two members of the United Freedom Front held captive within the United States, Tom Manning and Jaan Laaman. DABC responded to a request by Jaan for emergency financial relief after he spent hundreds of dollars on phone calls to his family following the unexpected death of his son this Fall. Tom was (and still is) in need of emergency funds, as his current medical condition has made him unable to work within the prison facility and he has become indigent without any income. More information on Tom, Jaan, and the United Freedom Front can be found here: https://denverabc.wordpress.com/political-prisoners-database/jaan-karl-laaman/ and here: https://denverabc.wordpress.com/political-prisoners-database/thomas-manning/

Our work to support our long held comrades has included a myriad of other programs and initiatives, including participating in a night of action for long term anarchist prisoners which took place on June 11th. DABC members helped plant dozens of flowers throughout Northwest Denver, accompanied by vibrant full color posters explaining the cases of two comrades, Eric McDavid and Marie Mason.

In the spring, DABC mailed out a questionnaire to every prisoner that we list. The questionnaire covered many topics, ranging from support needs to visions for the broader revolutionary movements that our comrades have been kidnapped from. Our goal with the questionnaire was to create a dialogue that could help shape and inform the support work that DABC and other political prisoner support groups are engaged in. We received responses from over 30 comrades (a response rate of roughly 35%). The results of the questionnaire will be made available early in 2012.

August marked the 2 year anniversary of our monthly poltical prisoner letter writing nights, and thus far, we’ve never missed a month. During the first Wednesday of each month, participants meet at 6:30pm at the 27 Social Centre for a meal and an introduction to a different case or group of cases. A casual atmosphere is created for writing cards and letters of support. Participation in our monthly letter writing nights has steadily increased, with some of our largest letter writing events ever happening in the closing months of 2011.

DABC continues to help mail and distribute 4StruggleMag, a publication edited by the Toronto Anarchist Black Cross and United Freedom Front prisoner Jaan Laaman. 4StruggleMag celebrated its 20th issue this past month. P&L Printing, a project of several members of DABC (see topic heading below) has provided the printing for 4StruggleMag for over a year now, while DABC packages and mails the nearly 600 copies of the magazine to prisoners and subscribers across the U.S. and Canada.


FORMER POLITICAL PRISONER SUPPORT:

The struggle a political prisoner faces does not end once they are released from prison, no matter how long they have been outside of the prison gates. It is with this contention in mind that DABC also believes it is important to support our previously imprisoned comrades. They have lost years of their lives to our social movements, and they deserve our continued support.

In August, Denver ABC staffed a book table for former Angola 3 prisoner Robert King during a speaking event at a conference of trial defense lawyers held in downtown Denver. The event presented a screening of the documentary “In the Land of the Free” about the case of the Angola 3. King is the only released member of the trio. Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox are still held by the state of Louisiana. More information about their cases can be found here: http://www.angola3.org/

Following the conference, DABC organized a dinner with King and local American Indian Movement organizer Ward Churchill to commemorate Black August. The event was very well attended and helped raise several hundred dollars for the Angola 3 as well as some more money for the North American Anarchist Black Cross conference that was organized by DABC (see topic heading below for more information).

This summer, Denver Anarchist Black Cross was able to donate a brand new and high end laptop to Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, an anarchist and former Black Liberation political prisoner who currently resides in Memphis. Since August, DABC has been able to create a solid working relationship with Lorenzo and his wife, JoNina. More info on that can be found under the ABC Conference and P&L Printing headings below.

PRISON ABOLITION/MIGRANT DEFENSE:

Throughout 2011, Denver ABC continued our commitment to supporting local movements resisting mass imprisonment throughout Colorado. Our work focused on two fronts: the Colorado state prison system and the ICE detention system.

Our work within the Colorado state prison has been multi-pronged. We still maintain a free literature program for prisoners; sending radical, revolutionary, and anarchist titles into prisons across Colorado. 2011 finally saw the release of a new catalog of titles, as well as the solidification of the project, which had stalled last year for various reasons.

DABC held several solidarity rallies with women prisoners actively struggling against violence and sexual assault at the hands of guards at the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility in northeast Denver. Twice in the spring, a group of 20-30 people held banners proclaiming solidarity with the women struggling inside. The reactions from the women inside were supportive and excited, as women banged on the windows of prison cells and raised fists in solidarity. Our efforts to create a solid working relationship with these women has stalled out, after some correspondence with women who got our address off of a large banner held outside the prison, encouraging them to write us. We hope to work more on this in 2012 and correct our mistakes.

Our solidarity with prisoner struggles was not just limited to the geographic confines of Colorado. During both rounds of hunger strikes that spread across the California prison system, Denver ABC took a role in organizing local solidarity. In July, we helped organize local movement members to call and write the prison system, and to write and develop relationships with the prisoners active within the hunger strike. In October, we organized a march and rally, where we handed out hundreds of fliers with information about the strike. We continued our phone call and letter writing campaigns, and also held a teach-in and strategy session where we were able to get Bo Brown, a former member of the George Jackson Brigade and a member of the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike Support Committee, to video chat with the participants about the strike and the efforts to offer support.

Our work supporting the efforts of local migrant and Chican@ liberation movements was not as active as it was last year, but still took up a considerable amount of our organizing efforts, particularly in early 2011.

Our efforts started right out of the gate of 2011, when in January, we worked to raise $700 for a dear comrade and friend from local migrant liberation organization Comite Defensa del Pueblo, whose son was facing deportation and needed urgent legal help. Our efforts helped secure a lawyer, and our comrade’s son was not deported, though he continues to serve a jail sentence. He is due to be released in the coming months.

DABC maintained our presence at monthly vigils against the ICE Detention Center in nearby Aurora. We also worked to offer physical support and solidarity around two higher profile cases of local migrant organizers facing deportation, Jeanette Vizguerra and Gerardo Noriega, cases that local organization Rights for All People took the lead in organizing. We also helped to donate $300 to El Centro Humanitario, a center for day laborers that was facing a possible eviction from their building.

For the second year, DABC has maintained our involvement with Colorado AID (Abolish Inhumane Detention) an organization that provides visitation and courtwatch for migrants facing detention and deportation. DABC members have been instrumental in helping maintain the courtwatch program, and in setting up a website detailing those efforts.

LEGAL SUPPORT:

DABC has been providing legal support to local social movements since our inception. 2011, however, pushed this work to a whole new level, as we worked to support participants in the local anti-police movement, including an attempted murder case. By the tail end of the year, our legal efforts were completely tied up with support for Occupy Denver, the local incarnation of the Occupy Wall Street movement. (Occupy Denver is covered under a separate topic header below).

The main thrust of our legal support work during the first 9 months of 2011 centered around providing legal defense for demonstrations against Denver area law enforcement agencies. In all, our support efforts focused on 4 arrestees from two separate demonstrations. 3 of these arrestees faced minor misdemeanor charges for defacement of public and private property. All of the arrestees were able to take plea deals that resulted in very minor fines or community service. Our support included providing bail as well as court observation.

The most serious case we have ever offered our support for was the case of Amelia Nicol, a woman arrested during the “March Against Police Terror” that took place in May. Amelia was accused of throwing a molotov cocktail (or a bomb, depending on which capitalist media source you choose to read) at police officers. She was charged with two counts of attempted murder of a police officer, arson, use of explosives, possessing explosives, and a host of other felonies and misdemeanors. In all, Amelia faced over 100 years in prison for these charges.

Denver ABC took the initiative to offer the support necessary to win this court case. Our support took on a myriad of roles; starting with providing correspondence, speaking to Amelia on the phone everyday, and working to develop a pressure campaign against the District Attorney.

DABC organized a letter and phone call campaign, where hundreds of postcards, letters, faxes, and emails were sent to the District Attorney from all over the world, demanding that the charges against Amelia be dropped. We organized a press conference outside the DA’s office, and a half dozen supporters went inside to drop off hundreds more postcards directly to the DA. This was the first time DABC had organized anything like this. Video of the press conference can be found here: https://denverabc.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/amelia-nicol-press-conference-rally-and-da-confrontation-6911/

On June 9, after being imprisoned for over a month, Amelia had her most serious charges dropped in court. She was bonded out by DABC members on June 13, facing one felony count for possession of explosives, and 3 misdemeanor charges for assault and resisting arrest. DABC provided Amelia with a place to live, a job, clothing, and other physical resources that she needed upon release.

By September, the remainder of Amelia’s charges were dropped in court. Amelia went from facing over 100 years in jail to being completely free and clear in a matter of months.

This was the first time DABC has ever performed a support role of this magnitude and with these dire of consequences. It was definitely a learning experience, and one that will continue to inform our legal support work. It also was a major victory for our collective and for local revolutionary movements.


OCCUPY DENVER:

A lot can be said about our participation in Occupy Denver. The comments, history, analysis, and insights we have gained could fill an entire periodical at this point. However, we’ll just offer a brief overview of our involvement.

Denver ABC was present from the first General Assembly ever held at Occupy Denver. In fact, members of our organization facilitated the first five general assemblies. We were also a part of helping to adopt guidelines that would ensure an acceptance of a diversity of tactics, embodied by the St. Paul’s Principles, four guiding points drafted and adopted by organizers of a diverse array of political and tactical persuasions during the 2008 protests against the Republican National Convention in Minnesota.

Early on, DABC helped host a workshop on anarchism that was very positive and seemed to generate quite a bit of interest in our work and ideological framework. DABC took on the role of the legal working group from the start of Occupy Denver until we issued a statement of a decision to no longer perform the legal support role on December 4. Read our statement here: https://denverabc.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/denver-abc-statement-on-occupy-denver/

During our time performing the legal support role for Occupy Denver, we maintained a 24 hour staffed legal line, utilizing anywhere between 2-15 volunteers depending on the intensity of the actions we were supporting. We performed this role during 4 brutal and militarized police evictions of the camp, and many smaller actions and events that Occupy Denver hosted or participated in over the course of 2 months.

To date, there have been 104 arrests at Occupy Denver or related actions, including the eviction of a squat occupied by anarchists and participants in Occupy Denver. DABC has been directly responsible for bonding out 44 of those arrested, and contributing in bonding out an additional 21. In total, Denver ABC raised $16,531 for Occupy Denver legal defense, and expended $16,512 in the process. However, due to various failures of defendants to appear for court, DABC members have been left in debt nearly $5,000. This figure has been reduced from the previously released estimate of $8,500, since one person has been re-arrested, and their bond canceled through the bondsperson, meaning we are no longer responsible for their full bond.

In addition to providing bond support and a legal line to support arrestees, Denver ABC coordinated with the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild to provide free attorneys to every person arrested. Further, DABC coordinated courtwatch activities for the overwhelming majority of the first appearances and hearings that happened before December 1st.

DABC members also took on a variety of other roles, including acting as street medics along with our comrades at the Colorado Street Medics, as well as picking up arrestees from jail, providing them meals and often providing them with places to sleep or decompress after being released.

Although Denver ABC pulled out of our support role in an official capacity on December 4, the eviction of December 19saw DABC helping organize support for the arrestees, most of them homeless youth accused of fighting the police and burning barricades and structures during the eviction. We have been meeting with members of Occupy Denver to help them set up their own support infrastructure, and hope that we can help set up a proficient legal team made up of people outside of our collective.

EMERGENCY FINANCIAL SUPPORT:

The Denver ABC Mutual Aid Fund provides emergency financial relief to social movement members in dire economic need. Since its inception, the fund has provided thousands of dollars to local movement members.

Over the course of 2011 the Mutual Aid Fund provided $1,430 in loans and grants to cover medical expenses, legal and bond fees, groceries, and other expenses.

Most of the funds for the Mutual Aid Fund were generated through two fundraisers this year: a cake walk that has become an annual spring tradition, and our annual Martyr’s Ball celebration. This year’s Martyr’s Ball raised more money than both of the previous years combined. A change of venue and the support of many new allies made through Occupy Denver helped make this possible.

TACTICAL DEFENSE:

The Denver Armed Resistance Committee is a working group of Denver ABC that works on providing tactical and self defense skills and resources to members of local social movements. This past year, DARC offered 4 public introduction to firearms trainings, with over 40 participants attending. DARC also partnered with local blog QueerRadical.com to offer an event entitled “Queers, Dinner, and Guns”, a small dinner followed by an introductory firearms training.


CHILD AND FAMILY SUPPORT:

DABC continued our work to build a multi-generational movement and support parents and families throughout 2011. In the early part of the year, DABC members helped construct a new room at the 27 Social Centre that would act as a childcare room and a base for our Nurturing Liberation program. The room has since been filled with a seemingly endless supply of toys, books, games, and radical youth and parenting resources.

The room sees a lot of action at the 27 Social Centre, providing a place for kids to play, interact, and hang out during events, weekends, and even during the work hours of P&L Printing, a collective print shop housed in the 27 Social Centre, where parents affiliated with DABC are employed.

DABC also provided childcare at several events for outside organizations, and hopes to really work to further develop the Nurturing Liberation program into the coming year, with more classes and events for kids and families involved with local social movements.

NORTH AMERICAN ANARCHIST BLACK CROSS CONFERENCE:

In August, Denver ABC hosted a conference for North American Anarchist Black Cross chapters and other anarchist based prisoner support formations. Around fifty participants representing at least 14 different organizations and defense committees active in the United States and Canada participated in the weekend long conference.

Former prisoners Bo Brown (George Jackson Brigade) and Lorenzo Komboa Ervin (anarchist, Black Liberation prisoner) as well as local organizers Ward Churchill, Glenn Morris, and Pavlos Stavropoulos offered their experiences and insights during the conference.

It was an amazing and constructive weekend, filled with networking, strategizing, and information sharing. Some projects and initiatives came out of the conference, though nothing very formal was created. Overall, the conference worked to strengthen social and movement relationships between various ABC and anarchist support collectives and programs.


P&L PRINTING/27 SOCIAL CENTRE:

Members of Denver ABC have been running a collectively owned commercial print shop for nearly 3 years. P&L Printing is a union, worker owned shop, affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World, and the Communications Workers of America Local 7777.

P&L mainly works with non-profits and unions in the Denver area, and also provides all the printing needs of DABC and many other movement organizations in the Colorado area. P&L provides direct employment for 5 collective members, 3 of whom are ABC members.

In 2011, P&L provided printing for a variety of anarchist and radical projects, including:

-Anarcho-Syndicalist Review

-4StruggleMag

-Eric McDavid Defense/Sacramento Prisoner Support

-Christy Road

-Certain Days Calendar collective (outreach materials)

-Kersplebedeb

-Jericho Movement

-Rob Will and DRIVE

-And of course, Denver ABC

P&L Printing’s distribution arm, P&L Press also released our first book publishing project, Driven by the Movement, a book written by JoNina Ervin, the last editor of the Black Panther newspaper and wife of anarchist and former political prisoner, Lorenzo Ervin. The book covers the history of some of the most influential, yet forgotten, ground level organizers of the Black Liberation struggles of the 60’s and 70’s. The book is available through P&L Press: http://plpress.bigcartel.com/product/driven-by-the-movement-activists-of-the-black-power-era-by-jonina-irvin

Money spent through printing at P&L works to not only support the workers of the collective and the work of DABC and other anarchist groups, but also the 27 Social Centre, a large warehouse that serves as a radical community center in Northwest Denver. 27 Social Centre is home to nearly a dozen anti-capitalist projects and groups, including Denver ABC.


OTHER SUPPORT/ANTI-REPRESSION WORK:

In April, DABC organized to support one of our members and close comrades, Stefan Martinez, in response to mounting FBI pressure against him. Stefan had been contacted and harassed by the FBI for years, demanding information on Earth and Animal Liberation activities and groups, and other radicals. Stefan always refused to answer their questions or to talk to them, and after months of harassment, they stopped contacting him.

However, in the early Spring of 2011, the FBI again repeatedly attempted to contact Stefan, leaving multiple messages on his voicemail. Stefan never called them back, but it was time to up the ante with a different response.

DABC organized a rally outside the Denver FBI Headquarters, and attempted to meet with the FBI Special Agent that had been contacting Stefan, to demand that he stop and to make it clear to the agent that the community knew about their attempts to contact Stefan, and that community members would support their comrade. Agents at the gate refused to allow entry into the building, and a minor argument ensued, resulting in police arriving. No arrests were made and after some time heckling the FBI agents and security, the rally disbanded.

Since the rally, the FBI has not made any further attempts to contact Stefan. We see that as a major success. The FBI thrives off of secrecy and alienation. When we can expose them publicly and they see that the community knows about their efforts to recruit snitches, we can effectively fight their efforts.

DABC has also participated in a variety of other local organizing efforts, including involvement in an anti-capitalist contingent within the various labor protests that happened in March and April in solidarity with the worker movements in Wisconsin and the Midwest, as well as organizing a panel discussion in the early Spring to discuss strategy for a growing anti-police movement in the Denver area.

DABC members spent much more time doing outreach at higher profile events and shows this year. DABC tabled at shows featuring Dead Prez, the Subhumans, and other bigger name acts when they played local shows.

For the second year, DABC members were also able to speak at a class on anarchism held at the University of Denver. The stipends received from this speaking opportunity went toward our funds program for political prisoners and prisoners of war.

SUPPORTING DENVER ABC:

In 2011, the workload of Denver ABC increased exponentially from the previous year. We were able to support dozens of legal cases, provide thousands of dollars worth of financial support to movement members inside and outside of prison, and ensure that many people would no longer sit in jail cells, and would not spend their lives inside of them. We’ve only been able to accomplish what we have because of financial and physical support and solidarity from hundreds of supporters in Denver and across the world.

This year, more than ever, it has become very clear that we can only continue our work because of YOUR support.

So, if you want to make sure the DABC Crew can continue to fight the evil forces of statist, capitalist, and reactionary repression, we need your help!

Here’s a few ways to show your support and solidarity, and make sure we can continue to support you and social movements across the world:

You can support the work of Denver ABC in a variety of ways:

-Buy a DABC T-shirt!

This year, during our 3rd annual Martyr’s Ball, we unveiled a new shirt design to show your support for DABC. T-shirts and other DABC swag is available at http://plpress.bigcartel.com

 

-Buy a Martyr’s Ball poster print!
Each year before Martyr’s Ball, DABC releases a limited run of three color screen printed posters featuring three fallen icons of liberatory social movement. The posters measure 19×27 and are hand signed by the artist, DABC’s own Matt Verges. The poster is also available at
http://plpress.bigcartel.com.

 

-Donate to the DABC Mutual Aid Fund or our Prisoner Warchest!
DABC’s Mutual Aid Fund and Prisoner Warchest are always in need of donations! The money is well spent and goes a long way to offer meaningful financial support to Denver based comrades in urgent financial need and our imprisoned comrades held captive across the United States. Just contact us to find out how to make a donation!

 

-Subscribe to our email announcement list and our Emergency Response Network/Twitter
Details are available on our blog at
https://denverabc.wordpress.com

 

-Get involved!
DABC hosts open meetings every other week at the 27 Social Centre in northwest Denver. For details, check out our blog.

 

-Print with P&L Printing
Supporting P&L directly benefits the 27 Social Centre (for which P&L pays most of the rent and bills) and Denver ABC. For information, email P&L at
plprinting@msn.com

 

Support your local ABC or other anti-authoritarian projects!

To inquire about purchasing posters, t-shirts, or making a donation, drop us a line at denverabc@rocketmail.com or visit http://plpress.bigcartel.com

 

In love and solidarity!
Your comrades at Denver Anarchist Black Cross

2727 W. 27th Ave Unit D

Denver, CO 80211

https://denverabc.wordpress.com

denverabc@rocketmail.com

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5 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for the great work you guys do! Colorado Occupy Groups could learn a lot from you guys.

    Unfortunately circumstances in my life make it impossible for me to be a collective member, but please know that I intend to support you guys and your work in any way I can.

    Solidarity,
    Chris

  2. hi there, great work and a fine example to all.
    I will re blog a summary with a link
    all the best….. mike

  3. […] A 2011 year-end reportback from Denver Anarchist Black Cross (summary)  denverabc  We hope these words find our comrades around the world in the best of health and spirit, during this time of massive social upheavel and revolt. The world has definitely seen a spread of anarchist influenced and revolutionary praxis throughout the last half of 2012, and we’ve definitely been feeling the massive change in current here in Denver.2011 saw the busiest time yet for our collective, as we worked to support social movements active in Denver, and across the world. […]

  4. LOVE u all, ya leave me with a warm & gushy feeling inside…..now, if only what we do as anarchists could spread into our wider communities/societies—-wouldn’t the existence of humans be a much more positive thing!!
    Thanx for all you do…..

  5. Hello, its nice piece of writing regarding media print,
    we all be aware of media is a great source of information.

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