“If I Die in Police Custody, Burn Everything Down!”

Originally posted to IT’S GOING DOWN:

Across the US, in response to the outpouring of rebellion in the wake of a tidal wave of police murders, a handful of cops have been charged, several have been fired, and a few have simply quit. Those in power, from president Obama to the local police chiefs, rush to make cosmetic changes to an ever militarizing police force. They hurry to buy police body cameras while at the same time departments spend millions on decommissioned military vehicles and weapons to suppress future rebellions.

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They say the conversation on policing and race and America has changed, but the daily reality of American life continues to produce piles of dead bodies and millions of people incarcerated. Since Mike Brown’s murder by Ferguson police, over 1,100 people have been killed by law enforcement in the United States.

We aren’t in a crisis of policing – we’re in the middle of a war.

“That’s the Only Way Motherfuckers Like You Listen!”

At the same time, due to the ongoing rebellions in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Oakland, those in the “opposition,” from the unions, to Jackson and Sharpton, to the Nation of Islam, have all intensified their rhetoric. The commemoration for the ‘Million Man March’ is entitled, “Justice or Else!” The recent disruptions of the Presidential debates, from Sanders to Clinton to Bush all point to a growing anger at politics as usual and an acceptance of more radical action. But these protests also continue this idea that if “justice” is not served, there will be consequences. “If you don’t negotiate with us, we’ll set the rabble loose!,” say the activists and politicians in waiting.

But it hasn’t been the ‘leaders’ of the official Black Lives Matter group, the New Black Panthers, or any of the leftist parties that have pushed the current uprisings; the revolts has by and large been carried out by the people themselves and the youth in particular. In Baltimore, it was high-schoolers who trashed cop cars and threw stones at police, driving them out of the neighborhood. In Ferguson, it was the neighborhood of Canfield which fought back every night for weeks in the face of a military occupation. It was a collection of graffiti writers, youth of color, and anarchists who held the streets and blocked freeways in Oakland for close to a month.

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During these rebellions, the “official” organizations, whether the Democratic Party or the non-profits, were all trying to smoother the uprisings. Now, they hope to turn this energy into votes and new members. But while the official groups try to match their rhetoric to the actions of the people, all they have as leverage against those in power to make changes is the actions of the people they hope to drown out. “Listen to us and we will make sure there isn’t a riot,” they say. “Make these changes, put us in power, and there won’t be an uprising.”

But things must change, everything must change.

The riots were just the start, we must go much further.

“Rise the Fuck Up! Shut that Shit Down!”

Buildings have been burned, freeways have been blocked, and millions of dollars of property and police equipment has been destroyed. “But nothing has changed,” we hear people say over and over again. And they are right.

With each cycle of revolt, things only seem to get worse. The anti-war movement, the student movement, Occupy, and Black Lives Matter – all of these moments were largely based around the idea of exacting a cost on a system in order to push it to make structural changes. From blocked freeways, to burned buildings, to shaming hashtags, “Here, have a taste of our anger,” was our mindset.

But those in power became quite adapt at making changes – changes that didn’t amount to shit. Their rhetoric changed; they said words like, “the 99%” and “Black Lives Matter,” around election time. They put cameras on police, but in the end the cameras are still pointed at us. They took healthcare away from prisoners and diverted it into higher education. They passed laws upping the minimum wage to $15 in several years time; keeping us squarely locked in poverty. All the while, this society continues to break down and the ecological system continues to hurtle us towards apocalypse.

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The militant movements of the last several years have been failures because they have only sought to generate reforms from the present system, even if they didn’t make demands. We went into the streets knowing something was wrong, but in the back of our minds we hoped those in power would listen to us and make changes.

Those in the Left groups with their newspapers claimed we lacked a vanguard party to guide us. The unions claimed we lacked representation in the workplace. The churches and mosques said we lacked moral superiority in the face of state violence. The non-profits whined we had a poor outreach strategy.

The riots, blockades, occupations, and shut-downs failed because they didn’t go far enough.

Revolutions that go half-way, dig their own grave.

“If I die in police custody, don’t let my parents talk to…Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, or any of the motherfuckers who would destroy my name.”

Being a revolutionary in the present terrain means knowing that things aren’t going to get better; that currently there are no reforms that the system can grant that will get us out of the current crisis. Those in power will continue to offer only more repression, surveillance, incarceration, and policing to quell in rebellion, while also attempting to placate to popular anger by attempting to offer cosmetic changes or “expand the dialog.”

But what would a revolutionary strategy look like? What has already taken place in the streets that can show us a way forward? In the past several years, across the world, from Oakland to Egypt, we’ve seen the proliferation of various tactics and strategies – all responding to a historical moment of crisis that defines our era.

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We have seen the proliferation of occupations, whether in camps, squares, or buildings. These communal spaces serve as a vehicle to get organized from and meet the needs of the insurgents involved. We saw this in many Occupy camps, in Tahrir square, and in Ferguson around the burned QT building. All insurrections need bases of operations; they need space. But we have to push and expand this space, into schools and universities (such as in various occupations across Chile and Europe), in occupied union halls and workplaces (such as in Greece), and into public areas and whole regions (such as in Turkey at Gezi Park, throughout the Rojava Revolution in the autonomous region of Kurdistan, indigenous blockades of pipelines such as across Canada, and at the ZAD in France).

Autonomy is power.

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Beyond just being a place where people talk and make plans, these places need to expand the communal activity of people organizing themselves and meeting their needs directly. But such space will always need to be defended. Whether it is the streets of Ferguson from the police and the National Guard, or the occupied Egyptian squares, rioting has been the offensive capacity by which people have defended themselves from government forces and expanded their territories.

“Let them know, that my sisters got this!”

Rioting, in a defense and offensive capacity also allows people to attack the infrastructure of the enemy: namely the police, surveillance systems, and the like. However, beyond bank windows and burned patrol cars, the use of blockades has proven to be a very effective tactic in shutting down the flows of capital, stopping the construction of a project, and preventing the movement of state forces. We can see this most spectacularly in the indigenous struggles in Canada (such as the Mi’kmaq and Unist’ot’en), where Native groups are setting up encampments to stop the development of fracked oil pipelines.

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But these tactics by themselves are just that, tactics. Blockading a freeway against white supremacy might be the start of a longer revolutionary struggle or a way to gather our forces, but simply going onto a freeway and hoping that something will materialize (or worse yet, someone will listen,) is delusional thinking. If we want to build a revolutionary force capable of destroying this system of domination, white supremacy, and exploitation, then we have to think about tactics in terms of a strategy.

Thinking about a strategy means paying attention to the situation we are in both locally where we live, but also nationally and internationally. We have to think about how the Left and those that try and control social struggles will react and try and hinder our efforts. We have to think about how the state will try and repress us for attacking the social order.

But above all, we have to think about how our actions can grow, expand, become more powerful, and ultimately link up with others across the social terrain.

 

The above text has been condensed into a flyer which you can download below. Use the box to fill in a link to local projects. 

Whole page. Quarter sheet.

August 10 is Prisoners’ Justice Day: Let’s Bring the BOP’s Plans for a Prison on Mountaintop Removal Site to the Forefront

From Earth First! Journal:

By Panagioti / Prison Ecology Project

August 10 is a day that prisoners have declared Prisoners’ Justice Day. It’s a day to demonstrate solidarity in remembrance of those who have died unnecessarily behind bars—victims of murder, suicide and neglect—at the hands of the police state.

August-10-plants-break-cuffs

 

It started in Canada in 1975 following the death of prisoner Edward Nalon in a solitary unit of Millhaven Maximum Security Prison located in Ontario, and it has remained most recognized in that country. While there has been some success in calling to use this day as a way to bring awareness to the plights of incarcerated people who suffer injustice worldwide, it still hasn’t quite caught on in the U.S. … yet.

[Check out a collection of reflections from Prisoner Justice Day in recent years here, specifically this “open letter to construction workers at prisons” released in tandem with a 2012 call for blockades of work aimed at expanding the Collins Bay and Frontenac prisons.]

But anti-prison activists in the U.S. and abroad, particularly those with an interest in environmental justice, should note that this year’s August 10 is marked by the proposal to build a new federal maximum security prison in the Appalachian mountains of Letcher County in eastern Kentucky, on top of a former mountaintop removal coal mine.

Just this week, after several years of local debate about the economic failures of building prisons on low-income rural areas, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has announced plans to move forward with another prison in a region that has been dubbed Appalachia’s Gulag Archipelago.

Despite the area’s long history of pollution from decades of blasting for coal, politicians like U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers have insisted on piling prisoners into this remote location which is likely to poison prisoners with tainted water. It also happens to be far from any reasonable transit options for family visitation, not to mention being planned on threatened and endangered species habitat of the incredibly biodiverse region.

What to do about the BOP’s Letcher County plan this Aug 10? 

Prisoners’ Justice Day is fast-approaching, but it’s not too late to plan for action. A quick place to start is sending over a letter to the BOP within this 30-day window telling them that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS )is insufficient, as it does not recognize the civil rights that prisoners have to receive environmental justice protections. This is, of course, in addition to the myriad concerns related to perpetuating the racist and classist mass incarceration system by building more prisons to extract poor people from their communities and warehouse them in toxic places.

Also worth noting is that there is a major PR firm called Cardno who is contracted by the BOP to conduct the EIS study. They are likely representing many more of your corporate and state enemies as well. According to their website, “Cardno now has about 8,200 staff working in 300 offices, on projects across more than 100 countries around the world.”  Their corporate offices are located within the following regions:
Australasia    Middle East    UK/Europe
North America    Africa    Asia
Latin America

 

 

The following text provides some additional history on Prisoners Justice Day becoming international day of solidarity with prisoners:

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In 1983, prisoners in France refused to eat in recognition of August 10th, the following statement would be read on the Paris radio station Frequence-Libre:

Why not have on August 10 an international day of solidarity with our imprisoned brothers and sisters,

For here or elsewhere, prison kills,
Whether it be Nalon in Ontario, Bader or Meinhoff in West Germany,
Claude or Ivan in Switzerland, Bobby Sands in Ireland,
Mirval, Haadjadj, Onno, Youssef or so many others in France,
Whether they are serving 53 years like Alexandre Cotte or 16 years like Youssef,
Whether they are considered political or common prisoners,
PRISON KILLS!

By the mid 1990´s prisoners in parts of Germany, England and the United States would join this day of protest.

The number of issues focused on over twenty-five years has been extensive:

Double Bunking
Youth Incarceration
Safe Tattooing Inside
Special Handling Units
The Wrongfully Convicted
Twenty-five Year Sentences
The Right to Freedom of Speech
The Women Self-defense Review
Abolition of National Parole Board
The Right to Vote in Federal Elections
Decriminalization of Victimless Crime
Health Care Needs of Prisoners With HIV & AIDS
Return to Shorter Sentences with 1/3 Time Off For Good Behaviour
Medical Care and the Same Options for Treatment as Outside Prison
The Integration of Protective Custody prisoners into General Population
Decarceration – Release of Prisoners Who Already Served Their Sentence
Alternatives to Incarceration – the Eventual Abolition of Prisons
The Recognition of Political Prisoners in Canada
Early Intervention Programs for At-Risk Youth
Moratorium on the Building of New Prisons
The Incarceration of Refugee Claimants
The Prisoners´ Right to Unionize
Privatization of Food Services
Needle Exchange Programs
Privatization of Prisons
Involuntary Transfers
Education Programs
Gating of Prisoners

The Right to Recognize August 10th Without Reprisals

PRISONERS’ JUSTICE DAY IS…

…August 10, the day prisoners have set aside as a day to fast and refuse to work in a show of solidarity to remember those who have died unnecessarily — victims of murder, suicide and neglect.

…the day when organizations and individuals in the community hold demonstrations, vigils, worship services and other events in common resistance with prisoners.

…the day to raise issue with the fact that a very high rate of women are in prison for protecting themselves against their abusers. This makes it obvious that the legal system does not protect women who suffer violence at the hands of their partners.

…is the day to remember that there are a disproportionate number of Natives, African-Canadians and other minorities and marginalized people in prisons. Prisons are the ultimate form of oppression against struggles of recognition and self-determination.

…the day to raise public awareness of the demands made by prisoners to change the criminal justice system and the brutal and inhumane conditions that lead to so many prison deaths.

…the day to oppose prison violence, police violence, and violence against women and children.

…the day to publicize that, in their fight for freedom and equality, the actions of many political prisoners have been criminalized by government. As a result, there are false claims that there are no political prisoners in north american prisons.

…the day to raise public awareness of the economic and social costs of a system of criminal justice which punishes for revenge. If there is ever to be social justice, it will only come about using a model of healing justice, connecting people to the crimes and helping offenders take responsibility for their actions.

…the day to renew the struggle for HIV/AIDS education, prevention and treatment in prison.

…the day to remind people that the criminal justice system and the psychiatric system are mutually reinforcing methods that the state uses to control human beings. There is a lot of brutality by staff committed in the name of treatment. Moreover, many deaths in the psych-prisons remain uninvestigated.

Info on Prisoners’ Justice Day courtesy of PrisonJustice.ca.

Montreal: 447 arrests at anti-capitalist May Day demonstrations

Montreal police arrested 447 people last night during a May Day demonstration in Montreal organized by a group called the Anti-Capitalist Convergence, or CLAC.

Those arrested at the demonstration that coincided with International Workers’ Day were released over the course of the night and handed a $637 fine for unlawful assembly.

The noisy, colourful rally Wednesday was almost festive when it began early on the unseasonably warm evening.

Restaurant patrons watched from outdoor terraces as drummers, musicians and chanting, flag-waving demonstrators gathered in Place Jacques-Cartier.

However, police declared the gathering illegal shortly after it started under the controversial Montreal public order bylaw P-6. The bylaw makes it illegal to participate in an assembly with a face obscured by a scarf, hood or mask, and requires protesters to disclose to police in advance the location and itinerary of their demonstration.

Police said they issued a dispersal order, and also confirmed criminal acts, which consisted mainly of wielding sticks and throwing billiard balls at officers, were performed.

“It was getting dangerous for peace and safety and the public order,” said police Sgt. Jean-Bruno Latour.

Dozens of demonstrators tried to make their way to the march’s destination, a private club known by its street number, 357c.

Witnesses at Quebec’s inquiry into corruption in the construction industry have referred to the club in testimony as a meeting place for entrepreneurs, high-level bureaucrats and politicians to discuss business.

However, the demonstrators never reached the club.

Hundreds of police encircled the protesters at the intersection of de la Commune Street and St-Sulpice Street. They began herding — and in some cases, physically carrying — those detained into awaiting buses.

By 8 p.m., the police had wrapped up their operation.

The CLAC denounced the police intervention, saying they used disproportionate force against protesters.

Latour could not say if anyone would face criminal charges.

Canada: Ann Hansen’s Statement on Her Recent Arrest, Imprisonment and Release

Originally posted to the Media Co-op

Ann Hansen is a former member of Direct Action, an underground anarchist group active in the 1980s, who presently lives as a writer, farmer and public speaker in the Kingston area. On August 3, 2012, Ann was arrested and had her parole suspended for ‘unauthorized associations and political activity’ in the context of growing anti-prison organizing in Kingston, Canada’s prison capital. Ann, with the advice of her lawyer, chose to not publicize her arrest until after her parole hearing. On October 30, the Parole Board canceled her parole suspension and released her on stricter conditions. This is her first public statement regarding her arrest and imprisonment.

On August 3, I was at my home near Kingston, Ontario, sitting in a lawn chair after supper when out of the corner of my eye I saw a line of black SUVs speeding towards our driveway. With a sinking feeling, I realized one of my reoccurring fears as a parolee was becoming a reality. Four SUVs turned into our driveway, slammed on their brakes and out hopped about six to eight cops from the Ontario Provincial Police dressed in full Darth Vader gear with a couple of them brandishing automatic weapons for full dramatic effect. As I struggled to stay calm, I noticed the acronym ROPE (Re-Offenders and Parole Enforcement Squad) in bright yellow blazoned across their bullet proof vests.

They parked askew all over the driveway, and while a couple of them with their fully automatic rifles took positions at the top of our property, the rest walked rapidly up to where I was and handcuffed me without saying a word. I asked the one female cop what this was all about and she said my parole was being suspended.

I spent a few days at the local remand center, Quinte Detention Centre, before a new parole officer (my regular parole officer was suddenly replaced) and a Security Intelligence Officer (SIO) from Correctional Service Canada (CSC) came to see me for a post suspension interview. They spent an hour and a half interrogating me and trying to intimidate me into giving them the names of anyone involved in EPIC (End the Prison Industrial Complex) or any other anti-prison activists, as well as information about any possible “bombings and arsons” which the SIO warned me I would be responsible for “if it all went sideways.” Needless to say, they were not satisfied when I told them I didn’t have names for them. The interview would have made a hilarious Monty Python script with the SIO comparing me at times to Ghandi and then in the next breath to James Holmes, the “joker” who killed twelve people during the Batman film in Colorado. The outcome of the interview wasn’t quite so hilarious.
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Every Prisoner is a Political Prisoner: Kelly Rose Pflug-Back

From From Crimethinc, via Anarchist News:

On July 19, Kelly Rose Pflug-Back was sentenced to eleven more months in prison for her participation in the 2010 G20 protests in Toronto. She remains unapologetic about her role in the black bloc that caused so much disruption during the summit, demonstrating that the forces that impose capitalism and patriarchy are not invulnerable.

To support Kelly and the millions like her who are imprisoned for the inconveniences they pose to the powerful, we are proud to present her eloquent and thought-provoking memoir of the time she spent incarcerated after her original arrest: “Every Prisoner is a Political Prisoner.” In this account, Kelly powerfully evokes the experience of captivity and the importance of understanding all captives of the state as political prisoners.

Our friends Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness are publishing a book of Kelly’s poetry as a fundraiser to benefit her during her incarceration. Walt Whitman argued that “to have great poets there must be great audiences,” but audiences is precisely the opposite of what there must be. To have great poetry, there must be people who are willing to act on their ideals rather than just watch from the sidelines. We are deeply grateful to Kelly for finding the courage to live her poetry as well as writing it.

Write to Kelly:

Kelly Pflug-Back
Vanier Centre for Women
P.O. Box 1040
655 Martin Street
Milton, Ontario
L9T 5E6 Canada
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Canada: Kelly Pflug-Back sentenced to 15 months for G20 Toronto actions

From Anarchist News:

Ontario based anarchist Kelly Rose Pflug-Back appeared in court July 19 to finish sentencing. Pflug-Back, 24, had accepted a non-cooperation plea bargain, pleading guilty to six counts of mischief and one of wearing a disguise with criminal intent. Kelly was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her sentence is reduced by 4 months to a total of 11 months in prison do to time served. Following her prison time she will be on probation for 3 years. This is after already being on house arrest and strict conditions for nearly a year preceding her trials completion.

To place this in context, the man who was convicted for murdering her friend, Victoria street kid Ariana Simpson (Harley) by pushing her under a bus was only given a one year sentence with 250 hrs of community service.

Kelly is a long time community organizer, activist, published writer, poet, artist and musician. Kelly works as an editor with various anarchist publications including The Fifth Estate, and Iconoclast Magazine based out of Ontario. A collection of Kelly’s poetry titled These Burning Streets is being published by Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness to support her.

Previous to her involvement in the Toronto G20 Black Bloc, Kelly was a long time activist, involved with groups such as Food Not Bombs and Camas Books collective in Victoria, and doing harm reduction work with SOS in Ontario, as well as hosting workshops and doing outreach for queer youth, and doing Indigenous solidarity work.
At the time of her sentencing Kelly was a full time student working towards finishing her degree. Kelly also eats a vegan diet which is very difficult to maintain in the Canadian prison system.

Most mainstream media has depicted Kelly as a violent vandal who has no remorse for terrorizing ‘innocent shoppers,’ as well as calling her cowardly for wearing a mask while taking on fully armed and armored riot police in the midst of one of the largest surveillance cultures in the world. Media has routinely referred to the breaking of windows by black bloc members as violent and occasionally even referring to it as terrorism. Meanwhile predictably downplaying the police violence and misconduct even though there was numerous cases of police sexually assaulting or threatening to rape female bodied persons during the 11 hundred person arrests. In one well known case related to the G20 in TO, police tore the prosthetic leg off a disabled man, as well as a deaf man was violently taken down and arrested. These were the largest arrests in the history of this nation state; nearly doubling the 700 people arrested during the implementation of the War Measures Act under Trudeau in response to the FLQ kidnappings that took place in 1970 in Quebec.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Kelly before her sentencing was completed. If you would like to hear her own thoughts on all this and how this has affected her, you may find the interview
here

The courts have clearly stated that they intend to send a message with this sentencing. We need to send a message back by increasing resistance, and supporting our imprisoned comrades so that they come out strong with a fighting spirit! Currently prisons in this nation state are being double bunked, while the Harper government is busy constructing 10 new ones and passing new legislation that includes mandatory minimum sentencing as well as cutting most programs and funding to help reduce prison recidivism. While Kelly, Mandy, and the others involved in resisting the G20 and global capitalism sit in prison cells, the men who are responsible for the policies that kill millions from poverty each year live in luxury and will likely never see the inside of a prison cell.

Please write to Kelly, she loves letters, and poetry. Writing to prisoners is one way to ensure they know they have not been forgotten.

Kelly will most likely be held in Vanier Prison. To send letters or post cards please address them to:

Kelly Pflug-Back
Vanier Centre for Women
P.O.Box 1040
655 Martin Street
Milton, Ontario
L9T 5E6 Canada

Toronto G20: Another comrade sentenced to jail

From sabotagemedia, via Anarchist News:

We learn through their media that a comrade was sentenced in Saint-Jérôme by judge Valmont Beaulieu to seven months of jail for charges related to the G20 in Toronto in 2010.

Charles Bicari has been sentenced after pleading guilty to charges of mischief, robbery, wearing a mask with intent, public nuisance and endangering public safety for having smashed the windows of two police cars, two stores and an ATM with a hammer.

some declarations from the juge taken from their Press:

“The courts must exercise wisdom and foresight. They do not have to wait until people die or are injured or that furniture or buildings are destroyed to denounce the unacceptable violence of non peaceful demonstrators”

“These crimes of this nature can not be treated as if they were commonplace incivilities, simple public disturbances, lack of control due to the spontaneous actions of others, or an exaggerated response to expose a social injustice … No court needs expert testimony to understand that rioters call for the police to intervene in large numbers, the cost being paid once again by workers. Because of delinquents, the image of our democracy and the country is distorted… “