Empty the Cages: Former Political Prisoners Speak Out

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https://www.facebook.com/events/754237618050159/

Join ABC and political prisoner support chapters across the continent in our annual panel discussion featuring former U.S. political prisoners:

Thursday October 13th
Doors open at 6:30pm
Speakers 7-9pm
Location: Whittier Community Center, 2900 Downing St.

Spanning generations of political struggle for liberation in the U.S., we are proud to help host this panel that will prove to be informative, inspirational and will help us build a stronger movement of support around resistance to repression by the State.

Speakers:
Sekou Kambui
Daniel McGowan
John Tucker
More TBA
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Sekou Kambui:
Sekou is a New Afrikan/Cherokee former political prisoner who survived 47 years of incarceration. Throughout the 1960’s, Sekou participated in the Civil Rights movement, organizing youth for participating in demonstrations and marches across Alabama, and providing security for meetings of the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Sekou became affiliated with the Black Panther Party in 1967 in Chicago and New York. While in Detroit, he became a member of the Republic of New Afrika, before returning to Birmingham. Back in Alabama, Sekou coordinated community organization activity with the Alabama Black Liberation Front, the Inmates for Action (IFA) Defense Committee and the Afro-American People’s Party in the mid 1970’s. Sekou was also a soldier in the Black Liberation Army (BLA) during these years before his capture.

In 1975, Sekou was falsely arrested and charged with the murder of two white men: a KKK official from Tuscaloosa and a multimillionaire oil man from Birmingham. There was absolutely no evidence against him, only coerced testimony from individuals who subsequently recanted their statements. The judge refused to allow the recanted statements to be stricken from Sekou’s record. He continued the fight throughout his time in Prison. On June 30th, 2014, Sekou was released on parole.
———-
Daniel McGowan:
Daniel is an environmental and social justice activist from New York City. He was charged in Federal court on counts of arson, property destruction and conspiracy, all relating to two actions in Oregon in 2001, claimed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). McGowan was facing a minimum of life in prison if convicted when he accepted a non-cooperation plea agreement. His arrest is part of what the US government dubbed Operation Backfire; a coordinated, multi-state sweep of over 15 activists by the federal government who have charged the individuals with practically every earth and animal liberation action in the Pacific Northwest left unsolved. Many have considered this round up indicative of the government’s ‘Green Scare’ focus which has activists being arrested and threatened with life in prison. Many of the charges, including Daniel’s, were for crimes whose statute of limitations were about to expire. Daniel was released from prison on December 11, 2012.
———-
John Tucker:
John was one of five antifascists arrested in May 2012, after an altercation between white supremacists and antifascists in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park that left ten injured fascists, three of which needed hospitalization. The case of the Tinley Park 5 received an overwhelming amount of public support. Despite the fact that the meeting was organized by violent white supremacist organizations including the National Socialist Movement, Council of Conservative Citizens, and Ku Klux Klan, the state showed their cozy relationship with white supremacy by refusing the accused antifascist activist bail or a plea deal comparable to any other criminal defendant in Cook County. In January 2013 the Tinley Park Five accepted a non-cooperating plea deal. John Tucker was released in February 2014. As of September 2014, all of the TP5 are released.
———-
Donations are encouraged, and will go towards the 6th Annual North American Anarchist Black Cross Conference.

If you can’t make it and would like to help cover travel costs for the panel and the conference, please donate here!
https://fundly.com/na-abc-conference?showsteps=1

We’ll see you there!

Jay Chase Denied Care for Huntington’s Disease: Send Letters of Support

From POW Medical Justice:

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Political prisoner Jay Chase is currently experiencing rapid progression of symptoms from Huntington’s Disease as he is being denied a diet and supplements that are recommended for his condition.  Navigating any type of chronic health issue within prison is difficult, and HD is no exception.  The symptoms of HD can be described as having ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s – simultaneously, including:

  • Personality changes, mood swings & depression
  • Forgetfulness & impaired judgment
  • Unsteady gait & involuntary movements (chorea)
  • Slurred speech, difficulty in swallowing & significant weight loss

At this time, mail and letters to Jay are being requested so he knows he has the support of people who care about him.  Jay will probably not be able to respond to every letter, but it is anticipated that he will appreciate all mail and writing periodic letters, even if he does not respond initially, is welcome.

Support Parole for Eddie Africa

From the Move Organization:

eddie-africa-color-260x400pxIn October 2015 our Brother Eddie Africa is set to make another appearance before the Pennsylvania State Parole Board. Your letters of support is urgently needed. All of the information is below as follows:

We are asking for your support at this critical stage to secure the freedom Eddie deserves.  Feel free to use parts of the sample letter below. Please write in your own words and with your own experiences of/with Eddie.

NOTE: Please send all letters of support to Orie Ross, P.O. Box 575, Times Square Station, New York, NY 10108-0575 so they can be reviewed and sent to the Board. The deadline for letters will be Wednesday September 30, 2015.

Sample Letter:

Board of Probation and Parole
Attn: Inmate Inquiry
1001 South Front Street, Suite 5300
Harrisburg, PA 17104

September  3, 2015

Regarding October 2015 Parole Hearing for: Edward Goodman #AM-4974

Dear Honorable Members of the Parole Board:

As a concerned citizen interested in helping Mr. Goodman successfully transition into life outside prison, I am writing to ask that you please grant him parole. He has served now 37 years of a 30-100 year sentence, even though the average sentence for his charges is 10-15 years. He is still in prison years after his minimum sentence despite having no major disciplinary problems in the last three decades. The notice provided to Mr. Goodman for his last parole denial lists the reasons for the denial as: “Your minimization/denial of the nature and circumstances of the offense(s) committed,” “Your refusal to accept responsibility for the offense(s) committed” and “The negative recommendation made by the prosecuting attorney.”

I understand the severe nature of the crime of which Mr. Goodman was convicted, however, I am concerned that Mr. Goodman maintaining his innocence is seen as an attempt to minimize or deny the nature and circumstances of the offense(s) or refuse to take responsibility, even while there is evidence that corroborates that the shot was fired from
a location where it is well known he was nowhere near. This phenomenon is referred to as “the innocent prisoner’s dilemma” implying that it is unfair and unethical to require someone who may have been wrongly convicted to provide false admission of guilt or remorse. Please take this dilemma into consideration.

I also understand that Mr. Goodman has not been recommended for parole by the institution where he is held despite having a clear disciplinary record for many years. In fact, the only time he received a disciplinary infraction in the last fifteen years was for not cutting his hair. He has completed all of the institutional programs he was asked to complete and has volunteered for others. Please take into consideration his good conduct as well as him having housing and employment secured upon his release. These factors, along with strong family and community support, make it very unlikely that Mr. Goodman will recidivate and I firmly believe that he is an excellent candidate for parole. I will personally help him acclimate in any way I can upon his release.

Mr. Goodman has now spent most of his life in prison, and the recidivism rate for people released at his age is very low. Please grant parole and allow him to be a part of, and contribute to, society as free citizen, a loving father and grandfather.

Sincerely,

[Name and signature]

 

Political Prisoner Birthday Poster For September 2015 Is Now Available

From Prison Books Collective:

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Hello Friends and Comrades,

1) Here is the political prisoner birthday poster for September. As always, please post this poster publicly and/or use it to start a card writing night of your own.

2) We’ve put the text online of our new zine How To Start A Prison Books Collective. We hope that this humble contribution will help other prison books groups get started and expand the important work of sending political, legal, and self-educational resources to prisoners. You can find the text here.

3) The Prison Ecology Project has extended its online fundraiser. They are creating tools to dismantle toxic prisons. So far, they are the only group focused on the intersection of environment and mass incarceration. Currently they are building a database of the five thousand prisons and jails around the country, finding the weak points in the environmental realm, and providing tools to organize locally. You can donate here.

4) Michael Kimble is up for parole in December and we are trying to get people to write letters to the parole board on his account.

Michael is a gay, black anarchist imprisoned in Alabama since 1986 for murdering a racist homophobe. He has been active for much of that time in prison organizing and rebellion. In recent years, he has been involved in hunger and work strikes in Alabama, working with the Free Alabama Movement. Michael has suffered severe consequences for his uncompromising attitude, including numerous stints in solitary (where he currently is held). Despite this, he remains committed to struggle against prison and the state.

Please, if you can, write the parole board and help get Michael free. Also, please spread this information using whatever media have available to you. Here’s a link to Michael‘s website, with a write-up on how to support his parole.

5) On Wednesday, August 12th, long term political prisoner, Hugo “Yogi Bear” Pinell was murdered. The context for his murder remains unclear, save for the fact that it happened in the midst of a prison riot.

In the early 1970s, while imprisoned in San Quentin State Prison, Hugo Pinell made contact with revolutionary prisoners such as George Jackson, one of the Soledad Brothers, and W.L. Nolen. On August 21, 1971, there was a prisoner uprising in Pinell’s housing unit at San Quentin, led by George Jackson. On that date, Jackson used a pistol to take over his tier in the Adjustment Center. At the end of the roughly 30 minute rebellion, guards had killed George Jackson, and two other prisoners and three guards were dead. Of the remaining prisoners in the unit, six of them, including Pinell, were put on trial for murder and conspiracy. Together, they were known as The San Quentin Six. Three of them were acquitted of all charges, and three were found guilty of various charges. Pinell was convicted of assault on a guard. For more on Hugo Pinell’s life and death see this excellent article from the San Francisco Bay View.

6) Be sure to check out the latest Political Prisoner/Prisoner Of War every-other week update by the  NYC-Anarchist Black Cross. There are lots of important updates on many political prisoners. This one includes updates on Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown, Memorials for Hugo Pinell, poetry and more.

Until Every Cage Is Empty,

The Prison Books Collective

Greece: Call in solidarity with Evi Statiri

From Act For Freedom Now:

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Inter Arma received and translated:

On September 3, the Judicial Council is going to decide on the extension of the pre-trial detention of Evi Statiri.

In the context of the nationwide call for action and solidarity which has been organized by comrades for the 2nd of September, we invite all anarchist individualities, direct action cells and comrades to sabotage normality and to destroy the clock of power. To brake the silence with counter-info actions (posters, flyers, banners, slogans) and to end the immobility of passivity with actions and sabotage.

On September 2, let us challenge the world of organized apathy with hostile gestures of insubordination.

NO REGRET

NO DEFEAT

IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF EVI STATIRI

2 SEPTEMBER NATIONWIDE DAY OF ACTION

individualities tending towards chaos

“Until we are free” a poem by Eric King

From Support Eric King:

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My wrists are chained cold

but my heart beats pure lava

waiting for your image to grace

the 12 inch screen that contains my dreams

fingertips graze the screen, can you feel me?

60 minutes until lights go out

why can’t I freeze time just once?

why can’t we both have what we want?

I want to live in your deep almond eyes

somewhere safe where we can always hide

where we can turn off the pain & turn off the lights

panic sets in, when the thoughts begin

what if I never see my love again?

every second separated is its own lifetime

trying to focus now on every expression

cause goddammit when you are gone I need to remember

before we’re staring at blanks and the clock reads zero

is your flight boarding to carry you away from me?

i’ll see you in my dreams

until we are free

Bloc Party: Insurgency, Repression, and Prisoners

Originally posted to It’s Going Down:

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This being the inaugural writing of our bi-monthly column here at It’s Going Down, we’re going to take a brief moment to fill y’all in on what you can expect to find in this space. As two anarchists who have long been immersed in movement defense work we find that the connection between what is happening on the inside of prison walls and what occurs on the outside is too often disconnected. We hope to highlight the connections, broadening all of our definitions of movement defense in regards to prisoner support and anti-repression work. You can expect to find a mashup of prisoner updates, repression news from across North America, and some analysis on both the connections and the general state of movements.

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In the spirit of expanding our ideas about repression, we strive to open up new questions and dialogue about what it will look like to prepare and intensify our struggles. Since the uprisings in Ferguson, MO, and Baltimore, MD, and all the smaller ruptures over the last year, we think its fair to say that there is a consistent, low-level insurgency developing in the U.S., that we haven’t seen in the last 30 years. The pigs and the State have been looking at various populations of people as potential insurgents for decades. Its time we start seeing ourselves as such, and act accordingly.

“As two anarchists who have long been immersed in movement defense work we find that the connection between what is happening on the inside of prison walls and what occurs on the outside is too often disconnected.”

We know that the State tries to bring its hammer down inside prison walls, and it appears to be ramping things up on the outside as well. Folks who are newer to political struggles can be shocked or dismayed at the lengths the State will go to in attempting to keep back the crashing waves of revolt that have been sweeping the country. The more spectacular expressions of state repression, such as conspiracy charges, grand juries, and informants, have the effect of spreading paranoia amongst comrades and creating an atmosphere of distrust and fear that can deter new people from engaging.

Often times, as we have seen just in the last few years, heavy-handed crackdowns can have their drawbacks. Though many find themselves galvanized into joining struggles after the State appears to overstep its bounds. The contradiction of U.S. values of free speech and stormtroopers in riot gear become too obvious for even the most hardline fence sitters to continue to ignore.

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Sometimes, its the less overt forms of repression, that come long before the big news headlines, tear gas, and drawn out court cases, that can do the most damage to our movements. Everyday policing and thinly veiled “investigations” of various communities have the effect of beating down the collective confidence of populations. It is no coincidence that these things intensified and have befallen poor communities of color alongside the rise of Black and Brown Power movements of the ’70s. When a community begins to see itself as a community-in-struggle, folks tend to get too uppity and its time to criminalize and harass them into submission.

Since the racist murder of 9 Black people in Charleston, SC, there have been sweeping direct actions against symbols of the Confederacy across the South. After Bree Newsome declared war on the rebel flag by scaling the flagpole on the Capitol grounds in SC, a flood of similar actions spread across the Southern U.S. and beyond. In Chesterfield, VA alone, just in a few weeks there were 2 confederate flags stolen from front porches and burned, garnering hyped-up coverage by local news outlets.

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Confederate monuments across the region have been vandalized, some even hit multiple times, resulting in more news coverage than graffiti would typically garner. There has even been an occasionally trending hashtag, #noflagginchallenge, of people videotaping themselves stealing confederate flags from porches and the backs of trucks, sometimes in the middle of traffic. Aside from the unadulterated joy that comes from watching white middle america fly into a frenzy over what is essentially Bart Simpson-style antics, it is important to note the mainstream media’s coverage of these actions. At every opportunity, petty, political pranksterism becomes a reason to lock your doors at night, even without flying racist symbols outside your house.

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After over 2,000 people attended an Anti-Klan counter-demonstration in Columbia, SC, the only arrests made were anti-racists, with almost comical media narratives making the pettiest of charges strike fear into the heart of already fearful white people. Two of the arrestees, Eddien Patterson and Stephen Loughman, are requesting financial aid and other support. While Stephen’s charge of “Breach of Peace,” may seem insignificant, the media portrayal of him paints him as a random white hooligan with no clear anti-racist affiliations. This also serves to widen the distances between communities of color in struggle and potential white accomplices. Eddien has been portrayed as an ultra-violent Black man with no political analysis around race of his own, leaving him to only fit within a racist narrative of “gang bangers,” and “thugs.”

“The more spectacular expressions of state repression, such as conspiracy charges, grand juries, and informants, have the effect of spreading paranoia amongst comrades and creating an atmosphere of distrust and fear that can deter new people from engaging.”

While many of the actions described appear small, we don’t want to seem as if we aren’t elated at a new tradition of militancy re-surfacing across the country. This low-level but consistent attack on white supremacy sets the bar for how far future ruptures can go, legitimizing tactics in the popular imagination that previously were off the table except to the most militant political factions. Evidence of this is seen in the political landscape of the St. Louis area, forever changed by the events of last August.

On the anniversary of Mike Brown’s murder, thousands flooded the streets to mark his death and celebrate the uprising. Demonstrations and disruptive actions went off around the country, spilling over into the week after. Showing again who they really are, the police tried to kill again that night, a shoot out erupting in the middle of the protests that details are still very fuzzy on, even from the protestor’s side. A state of emergency was declared as anger in the streets flared once again.

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Then once more, 10 days later, on the anniversary of the police murder of the Kajeme Powell, police killed Mansur Ball-Bey. Media estimates anywhere from 100-150 people, mostly from the neighborhood engaged in the initial protest immediately following the shooting. Riot police quickly came in force, forming lines and beginning to push back against the crowd. Before too much time had passed, fires were lit and tear gas was deployed. A new tone is being set in St. Louis and Ferguson that has spread like a wildfire across the country.

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Moving our attention back to what’s been going down on the inside, in the last two weeks of political prisoner news there have been some major losses. While many hearts are aching from the murder of Yogi Bear on August 12th, the resolve to fight against the state apparatuses that wish to destroy us can only grow stronger. With hearts heavy, but fists up, here is the last two weeks in North American political-prisoner news.

“This low-level but consistent attack on white supremacy sets the bar for how far future ruptures can go, legitimizing tactics in the popular imagination that previously were off the table except to the most militant political factions.”

Yogi Bear, aka Hugo Pinell, died under mysterious circumstances after having spent the majority of his 50 year imprisonment in solitary confinement. Yogi Bear died much as he lived, in struggle, as his death was during a uprising and riot within the prison. The details of his murder are still unclear and we can only imagine how little help CO’s and prison administration will be in providing answers. This Black August we remember not only the uprising at San Quentin more than 40 years ago, but we remember our fallen comrade. Rest in power, Yogi Bear.

There is a fundraising effort that has started with the goal of creating a public memorial for Yogi Bear. You can learn more and donate here.

hasan-bomani

On August 19th, Bomani Shakur (Keith Lamar) released a statement about the denial of his appeal to the Sixth Circuit United States Court of Appeals. At this point his case will go before the Ohio State Parole Board who will then set an execution date. Bomani released a brief statement this week that can be found at Lucasville Amnesty. While this news comes as yet another blow to those in struggle alongside Bomani, his head is up and heart is strong “It’s not over yet–and even if they succeed in murdering me, I won’t let that stop me from living my life NOW. I’m not going to unravel, or break down in a heap of sorrow.”

Eric King, anarchist prisoner awaiting trial in Leavenworth, Kansas released a new poem through his support crew this week. His support crew are currently raising funds to help with the bullshit costs of incarceration as well as travel funds for attendance to his trial coming up this Fall. With Eric’s recent return from solitary housing to general population, he now has greater access to recreation time and communications. Drop him a line of support at:

Eric King
27090045
CCA Leavenworth
100 Highway Terrace
Leavenworth, KS 66048

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Chelsea Manning, currently being held at Fort Leavenworth, was found guilty on allegations of prison infractions. Apparently having expired toothpaste and LGBTQ publications is a no-no in military prisons. Chelsea was being threatened with solitary confinement, but instead received restricted access to recreation time for 21 days. While this is certainly better news than indefinite solitary confinement, it isn’t without possible long term ramifications as Chelsea reminded folks in her recent statement: “Now these convictions will follow me thru to any parole/clemency hearing forever. Was expecting to be in min custody in Feb, now years added.” Chelsea also has a current fundraising effort to gather legal fees for her appeal. Find out more about donating or instructions for writing Chelsea here.

Abdullah Majid, New York state political prisoner, is currently launching a campaign around his parole. He is in need of financial support during his parole process as hiring legal representation and an investigator is an expensive endeavor. You can make donations to:

Abdullah Majid Freedom Campaign
Post Office Box 1274
Bronx, New York 10467
718.512.5008
info@abdullahmajid.com

‘Krow,’ aka Katie Kloth, is also in need of legal defense funds. There is a fundraising site that also breaks down Krow’s wishes of how donations are being split between their own legal fees and some radical projects. Remember though, even when you don’t have the funds to donate, a letter of support is of massive importance! So write Krow a letter:

Katie Kloth
300 Taconite Street
Suite 226
Hurley, WI 54534

All letters must be addressed to Katie Kloth (not Krow Kloth) or they will not be received.

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Brandon Baxter of the Cleveland 4 has been in SHU since June after having been assaulted by a correctional officer after having called out the CO’s for their negligence in handling a sexual assault of one inmate by another. It is unclear how long Brandon will be housed in SHU, but several more months are expected. SHU is torturous and your letters of support are vital during this time. Send Brandon some love and soli at:

Brandon Baxter
#57972-060
FDC Oakdale
P.O. BOX 5010
Oakdale, LA
71463

Michael Kimble, a black gay anarchist, currently serving a life sentence for the murder of a white, homophobic and racist asshole. Michael has served 28 years is up for parole this December and needs support in this process! Letters, petitions and phone calls of support are requested. You can find all the details to support Michael over here.

That’s the roundup for this edition. Until next time, keep those fires burning and the insurgency rising.

– Your friendly career bad kids