Bill Dunne: August 25th RDTW statement

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Salutations and Felicitations to all the RDTW comrades!

Running Down The Walls has become a fine and honored tradition on our side of the barricade. I could run like the wind in past RDTWs even where I ran alone because the sense of solidarity took away the pain of physical exertion and of distance from my community – from you all. This year, unfortunately, I will be unable to physically run with you. I’ve been relegated to FCI Herlong’s dungeon because in the agency of repression’s mythology, an anonymous note purports that I’m planning to run from them. It was most likely written by a person of the porcine persuasion actually worried I might be planning more litigation. But so it goes in life with big brother! I will be with you this day nevertheless, if not in person, in mind, in heart, in solidarity as you – as we – run, walk, roll, move however we can down the road to revolution. See you closer to the finish line!

Bill Dunne, FCI Herlong, 25/Aug/15

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Write to Bill:

Bill Dunne #10916-086
FCI Herlong
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 800
Herlong, CA 96113

Some Reflections on Comrades, The Spirit of Resistance, Struggle and Death

Sacramento Prisoner Support:

jaan

by Jaan Laaman – 4sm editor

January 27, 2015

2015 is almost a month old and my overall outlook has been optimistic and energized.  With a months long new movement in the streets, fighting against government repression and police killings of unarmed men, boys and women too, mostly of color, for me it has been a time of gathering information and supporting and contributing to this new movement.

It is within this context, that I just received somber and hard information about two comrades of mine, two very good human beings, steadfast brothers and courageous fighters in the Freedom Struggle.  I am talking about two friends of mine, both long held political prisoners — Phil Africa and Bill Dunne.

William Phillips Africa died on January 10, 2015, in the Pennsylvania state prison system, at SCI Dallas.

Phil Africa was one of the Move 9, all of whom have been in captivity since August 8, 1978.  On that day, the Philadelphia police and other government forces launched an unprovoked assault on the Move home.  The Move 9 are completely innocent women and men who were thrown into prison for 30 to 100 year sentences.  They are all still in prison, except for Merle Africa who died in 1998, and now Phil.

Phil Africa never stopped struggling for justice and freedom, not only for the Move Family and his co-defendants, but for poor and oppressed people of all colors, across this country  and around the world.  Phil was a good man, intelligent and brave, thoughtful and caring.  He could make you laugh and he was self disciplined and worked to stay in shape.  He was a father figure, as well as a boxing teacher and sports coach to many younger men.

Phil’s death in the Pennsylvania state correctional institution at Dallas, came under very questionable and suspicious circumstances.  See a more detailed posting on Phil’s death at www.4strugglemag.org.

My political prisoner brother and friend, Phil Africa, died in that Pennsylvania prison cell in his 37th year of captivity.  Phil’s hardships and deprivations are now over.  Phil was never a man who bemoaned the harsh, inhumane and injust realities he and other prisoners were forced to endure.  Dying in prison is always a sad reality.  Phil’s hardships are now over and that is a good thing, even while we mourn his passing.  We should also question the circumstances surrounding his death and demand answers from Pennsylvania prison officials.

Continuing in this journey of hard news and harsh realities, let me share some information on another friend and fellow political prisoner, Bill Dunne.  Bill is alive and I’m pretty sure in decent health.  Like other political prisoners, Bill stays fit, in fighting shape, because it doesn’t matter how old you are or how many decades you have been imprisoned, the government and its agents never cease in their efforts to defeat you, break you and stop you in your/our struggle for justice, freedom and a revolutionary future of peace, equality and protection of our planet.  So Bill, like all political prisoners, try’s to keep the Spirit of Resistance firm and his body and mind fit.

Bill has been in captivity since 1979, that is for 36 years.  He has been held in maximum security penitentiaries and special lock-down control units for all these years.  In 2000, when he already had spent 21 years in prison, the United States parole board gave Bill a 15 year hit!  That is, he was ordered to spend 15 more years in prison.  Two months ago, Bill again appeared before the parole board and in a vicious act of inhumanity and hatred for the Freedom Struggle and Freedom Fighters, the U.S. parole board hit Bill with another 15 year set off!  He is not eligible to see the parole board again until 2029.  See www.4strugglemag.org, for a more detailed report on Bill Dunne’s parole hearing.

The ugly reality is that there are political prisoners, courageous and noble leaders like Sundiata Acoli and Leonard Peltier, who have been locked up even longer; Sundiata has been in captivity for 43 years, Leonard for 39 years, and there are others like them.

The parole board’s primary questions, as well as its ‘justifications’ for ordering Bill to, quite likely, spend the rest of his life in prison, was his “continuing association and affiliation with anarchist organizations”, which was, “evidence you still harbor anti-authoritarian views…”

The U.S. government, through its parole board, made very clear that Bill’s real offense, like the so called crimes of all U.S. held political prisoners, was his political beliefs and associations.  The activities Bill and other political prisoners may have taken in support of liberation and justice based political views is not the main “crime” in the eyes of the United States government.  The ultimate “crime” is Freedom and Justice based revolutionary thinking and beliefs.  Anarchist; socialist; communist, National Liberation for Puerto Rico, the Black Nation in the usa, the Native/Indigenous Nations; the Green ecological ideology of protecting our Earth and all its life against imperialist plunder, these are the “crimes” of political prisoners.

I am certain Bill Dunne will challenge and litigate this unprecedented second 15 year hit.  I am also sure Bill will continue to work with the ABC collectives and other outside groups the parole board listed; the groups they so hated and feared.

I wanted to express my complete solidarity and support for Bill in his harsh ongoing struggle for justice, life and freedom.  And I wanted to convey my heartfelt solidarity and revolutionary love to all the Move Family and Phil Africa’s closest people.  We will always remember and be inspired by Phil Africa.

Sharing this information and reflecting on the types of realities that all political prisoners confront and have to deal with, I hope, gives you people outside, a little more understanding of revolutionary struggle and life behind prison walls.  I do have some  concern that perhaps some of you activists and people of conscience, may be overly intimidated by these realities of prison life.  Engaging in the Freedom Struggle always has the potential of confrontation with the state and its abusive police power.  This can include being thrown into prison.  People should be clear about this.  You should also be clear though, that even in extreme examples, like the heroic lives and struggle of Phil Africa and Bill Dunne, imprisoned Freedom Fighters can and do maintain their principles, their dignity and their will and ability to struggle.  The more that people and the media, including the non-corporate media, are aware of and supportive of political prisoners and prison struggle generally, the more protection this provides us.

In the Spirit of Phil Africa —

let us remember,

Freedom Is A Constant Struggle!

Jaan Laaman
#10372-016
USP Tucson
P.O. Box 24550
Tucson, AZ 85734

The Empire Hits! and an update on Bill Dunne

Bill_Dunne_color2Bill Dunne #10916-086
FCI Herlong
Post Office Box 800
Herlong, California 96113

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The Empire Hits!

The U.S. Parole Commission conducted a hearing for a 15 year reconsideration of my case on 5 November 2014. The last 15 year continuance (“hit”) was set to expire in December. The hearing examiner went through the usual things:offender characteristics; the circumstances
of my 1979 offenses; a 1983 escape attempt; ancient disciplinary infractions. I was thinking a good outcome would be a one year date, a bad one, five years (and, having long experience with the agency of repression, expecting the worst!). Then the examiner went unusual. He unleashed a tirade about anarchist connections and anti-authoritarian views. He recommended another 15 year hit on the basis thereof. Four weeks later, I got a Notice of Action (NOA) from the commission adopting the recommendation and setting my next reconsideration for November of 2029.

The commission made much of the facts that I was on parole and the 1979 conspiracy included three armed bank robberies to finance the escape of a federal prisoner who had killed a customs agent. It also changed the assault of a Seattle police officer during the escape to attempted murder, using this change to raise my offense behavior category and guideline range. It did so notwithstanding that I was not at the scene of the shooting, the shooter was paroled ten years ago, and having established the old category in 2000 and defended it through seven hearings and appeals. The real reason for the higher offense behavior category is that its guidelines have no upper limit. I’ve already served more than the top guidelines under the previous, lower category.

The commission then added a specific amount of time to my parole guidelines for each disciplinary infraction I’ve had. That came to (erroneously, but ad arguendo) 32-132 months. Next, it singled out five of those infractions from 31, 31, 30, 25, and 19 years ago (attempted escape, knife, handcuff key, “uncompleted” handcuff key, escape paraphernalia — the second and last bogus) as indicative I was a more serious risk than my parole prognosis showed. These infractions, the commission alleged without saying why, further justified exceeding the guidelines by so much as the 15 year hit. It thus used the infractions to both raise and exceed the guidelines contrary to its own rules.

The commission required my codefendant to serve some 198 months on identical charges stemming from the jailbreak conspiracy, and our offender characteristics are virtually identical. The 132 month maximum the commission’s rescission guidelines say should be added to my parole guidelines thus suggests a sentence in the range of 330 months for me. The commission and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) both agreed I had 344 months in at the time of the hearing. (I actually had 421 months in, but they say the other 77 months went to the state time I got as a result of the same events.) The commission also ignored the statutory injunction that “old law” prisoners like me should be paroled after 30 years, which would put me out no later than 18 March 2016, even under their erroneous calculation.

The commission shifted into political police mode, saying, “the Commission finds your continued association and affiliation with anarchist organizations is evidence you still harbor anti-authoritarian views that are not compatible with the welfare of society or with the conditions of parole.” The NOA says zero about what it means by “anarchist,” “association,” “affiliation,” or “anti-authoritarian views” or why they might be problematic for society or parole. The examiner did mention a few specifics and waved some printouts, but did not explain what was so wrong with their content. He said I’d get copies, but so far I have not. There is no BOP or commission rule forbidding information by or about prisoners being published on the net.

The commission’s hearing examiner mentioned three sites: Prison Radio, LA-ABCF (Los Angeles Anarchist Black Cross Federation), and Denver ABC. None of them advocate violence or criminality. They are posted by mostly working class and poor people who want to make their communities and world better places. The examiner denounced “Running Down the Walls,” but did not say why. RDTW is a running event sponsored every year by LA-ABCF for more than the last 20 in which people from many communities participate to express their opposition to the overuse of incarceration, especially for political purposes. The Prisoners’ Committee of the ABCF, of which the examiner also disapproved for no stated reason, advises the ABCF on effective ways to support political prisoners, none of which involve illegality. Nor is the committee’s advice always solicited or followed. Prison Radio produces broadcasts of news and information about prison issues from a radical left perspective but advocates no violation of the law. All of these web sites post information about particular cases, prisoners, situations, and events their operators think the bright light of public scrutiny would help reach a more positive resolution. They make their posts based on their own analysis and choices; they are self-directed and independent. As for anti-authoritarian, that’s supposed to be the position of the government itself: “anti” authoritarian regimes such as Putin’s Russia, etc., and pro democracy. The commission’s decision was the reverse.

The commission also said efforts to contact my codefendant were evidence I am likely to “reengage in similar criminal activity” if released, but does not say how so. My codefendant was released from prison 10 years ago and from parole five years ago. I don’t think he’s had so much as a traffic ticket in that time. One would think the commission would want me to learn from him whatever it was he did to convince them to release him from both prison and parole. No hearing examiner could tell me, and I asked at many hearings.

The commission apparently feels anything it deems anarchist — and, by implication, any radical left–political activity or connection warrants denial of parole. It denied me because it feels I am thus involved. I’ve already served more time than could be reasonably assessed for my offense behavior and disciplinary record. My codefendant’s offense role and offender characteristics are virtually identical. Hence, the time demanded of me should be comparable plus prescribed disciplinary time. That total would be less time than I’ve already served. Nor is politics any basis for parole denial. The notion that mere correspondence with anarchists or my codefendant evidences criminal intent is simply frivolous: no print or pictures or audio to felonious intent were ever alleged, and there are no rules against such contact. Nor has the commission ever objected before to these long-standing connections, and the BOP approved them. Neither the “anarchist organizations” nor my codefendant has any criminal history during the relevant times.

The commission’s blatant use of such demonstrably inadequate and inappropriate reasons to deny my parole is remarkable. I have already filed an administrative appeal and will continue the appeal via habeas corpus against both the BOP and commission. Not only are the unsupported, conclusory, and irrelevant claims cited for denying me parole a violation of the commission’s own rules, their use constitutes a gross infringement on the First Amendment. That use violates what remains of my right to hold and express positive, progressive politics as well as that of the people and groups whose speech and association are undermined by such government attacks on political expression via the internet. I am confident that I and any comrades who have supported me by putting information by or about me or my politics into the public domain to protect me from the depredations of power have done so in good faith and not in any way that could legitimately be construed as “not compatible with the welfare of society.” I’m confident we will not cave to such pressure to self-censor.