CA Prisoners Win Historic Gains with Settlement Against Solitary Confinement

From Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity:

Agreement reached in Ashker v. Brown ends indeterminate long-term solitary confinement in CA, among other gains for prisoners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 1, 2015
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

Oakland – Today, California prisoners locked in isolation achieved a groundbreaking legal victory in their ongoing struggle against the use of solitary confinement. A settlement was reached in the federal class action suit Ashker v. Brown, originally filed in 2012, effectively ending indefinite long-term solitary confinement, and greatly limiting the prison administration’s ability to use the practice, widely seen as a form of torture. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of prisoners held in Pelican Bay State Prison’s infamous Security Housing Units (SHU) for more than 10 years, where they spend 23 hours a day or more in their cells with little to no access to family visits, outdoor time, or any kind of programming.

“From the historic prisoner-led hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013, to the work of families, loved ones, and advocate, this settlement is a direct result of our grassroots organizing, both inside and outside prison walls,” said Dolores Canales of California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC), and mother of a prisoner in Pelican Bay. “This legal victory is huge, but is not the end of our fight – it will only make the struggle against solitary and imprisonment everywhere stronger.” The 2011 and 2013 hunger strikes gained widespread international attention that for the first time in recent years put solitary confinement under mainstream scrutiny.

Currently, many prisoners are in solitary because of their “status” – having been associated with political ideologies or gang affiliation. However, this settlement does away with the status-based system, leaving solitary as an option only in cases of serious behavioral rule violations. Furthermore, the settlement limits the amount of time a prisoner may be held in solitary, and sets a two year Step-Down Program for the release of current solitary prisoners into the prison general population.

It is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 prisoners will be released from SHU within one year of this settlement. A higher security general population unit will be created for a small number of cases where people have been in SHU for more than 10 years and have a recent serious rule violation.

“Despite the repeated attempts by the prison regime to break the prisoners’ strength, they have remained unified in this fight,” said Marie Levin of CFASC and sister of a prisoner representative named in the lawsuit. “The Agreement to End Hostilities and the unity of the prisoners are crucial to this victory, and will continue to play a significant role in their ongoing struggle.” The Agreement to End Hostilities is an historic document put out by prisoner representatives in Pelican Bay in 2012 calling on all prisoners to build unity and cease hostilities between racial groups.

Prisoner representatives and their legal counsel will regularly meet with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials as well as with Federal Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas, who is tasked with overseeing the reforms, to insure that the settlement terms are being implemented.

“Without the hunger strikes and without the Agreement to End Hostilities to bring California’s prisoners together and commit to risking their lives— by being willing to die for their cause by starving for 60 days, we would not have this settlement today,” said Anne Weills of Siegel and Yee, co-counsel in the case. “It will improve the living conditions for thousands of men and women and no longer have them languishing for decades in the hole at Pelican Bay.”

“This victory was achieved by the efforts of people in prison, their families and loved ones, lawyers, and outside supporters,” said the prisoners represented in the settlement in a joint statement. “We celebrate this victory while at the same time, we recognize that achieving our goal of fundamentally transforming the criminal justice system and stopping the practice of warehousing people in prison will be a protracted struggle.”

Legal co-counsel in the case includes California Prison Focus, Siegel & Yee, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, Chistensen O’Connor Johnson Kindness PLLC, and the Law Offices of Charles Carbone. The lead counsel is the Center for Constitutional Rights. The judge in the case is Judge Claudia Wilken in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

A rally and press conference are set for 12pm in front of the Elihu M Harris State Building in Oakland, which will be livestreamed at http://livestre.am/5bsWO.

The settlement can be read on CCR’s website, along with a summary. CCR has also put up downloadable clips of the plaintiffs’ depositions here.

 

“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.

July Newsletter of Free Maroon Global Network

From Russell Maroon Shoatz:

Greetings Maroon supporters,

We’re back with our monthly newsletter/e-mail blast on the status of U.S.-held political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz. Many thanks for your continued support and solidarity as we push on in the struggle to free our beloved father, grandfather, husband, and mentor.

This month, we bring you an update on Maroon’s recovery from radiation treatment of his prostate cancer, the second installment of our interview series with human rights champion and longtime Maroon supporter Selma James, a letter Maroon recently wrote to the Pope in hopes of having him visit prisoners in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and a brief reportback on the Spring Maroon Tour’s final event in Oakland, California.

As always, please feel free to contact us directly with your own ideas and connections to support our efforts.

Please also consider contributing to our ongoing fundraising for Maroon. No amount is too little, and all contributions are greatly appreciated.

Connect with Maroon directly by writing to Russell Shoats #AF-3855, SCI-Graterford, P.O. Box 246 Route 29, Graterford, PA 19426 – 0246

Straight Ahead!
The Shoatz Family and Friends

Health Update:
Rebounding From Radiation Treatments

Maroon Writes:

Good News! The radiation therapy that I have been receiving has been successful!

After completing my radiation treatment on June 3, 2015, my oncologist (“Dr. K”), had me seated in a separate “examination room” where, weekly, both he and his physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner (“C.”) would review with me the week’s treatments and my overall condition. He told me that my treatments were completed, asked about my overall feelings, and said something like “From my mouth to God’s ear” what we had accomplished “should do the trick”; which I took to mean rid my body of the cancer. Still I asked him, “Is there any cancer in my body?” And he said, “Any cancer cells in your body are dying,” and that the radiation would continue to attack any cancer cells, that I would begin to feel much better within six to eight weeks, and “get better and better.”

On behalf of my family and myself, I again want to extend my deepest thanks to everyone who has helped in any way. Cancer is simply an exceptionally trying condition to deal with, and when a political prisoner like myself suffers that condition, without strong support from the streets there are many elements within the criminal UNJUSTICE establishment who may very well take that opportunity to interfere with the medical professionals who are willing to help heal you. A tragic history that continues to unfold.

Straight Ahead!
Maroon

To read Maroon’s full detailed health journal follow this link.

Selma James Interview

Selma James, writer, activist, co-founder of the International Wages for Housework Campaign, and coordinator of Global Women’s Strike, is interviewed by Raphael Cohen, for the campaign to free Maroon, in Oakland, California, April 25, 2015. In part 2 of this 4-segment series, James discusses her impressions of Maroon’s recent writings regarding sexism and patriarchy in the racial justice movements of the 1960s and ’70s. She applauds Maroon’s critical self-reflection, supportively questions some of his conclusions, and shares her thoughts on the potentially transformative implications of his and other male prisoners’ commitment to naming, condemning, and ending violence against women.

As the #SayHerName movement to seek justice in often overlooked police killings of black women intensifies following Sandra Bland’s tragic death last week, James’s thoughts on the importance of men’s solidarity in the struggle for women’s liberation couldn’t be timelier. Watch the interview segment here, and stay tuned for parts 3 and 4 in the coming months.

Maroon’s Letter to the Pope 

popeIn the lead-up to Pope Francis’s trip to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families in late September, Maroon has written the Pope an open letter, inviting him to visit with prisoners in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections during his stay, and to hear directly from prisoners about their vision for true rehabilitation and an end to mass incarceration, a topic that now seems to be on the U.S. public’s consciousness more than at any point in the previous few decades.

As Maroon states in his letter: “… while I seek forgiveness and work towards reconciliation with those I have wronged and hurt, the bigger picture urges me to also strive towards laying a foundation to help younger people extract themselves from a generations-old racial, economic, and historical set of contradictions that not only led to my imprisonment, but has since metastasized into the criminalization of millions based on their racial and/or economic standing – an unjust, unethical, and ultimate poisoning of society that is at odds with the compassion and broadness of vision that Your Holiness is held in such high esteem for championing.

Society has everything it needs to rescue itself from the MASS INCARCERATION fallout that has resulted from these failures. And by overcoming this part of our problems, we place ourselves in a position to challenge others to fashion solutions to other social issues that have been eating away at us for so long.

A way forward in uprooting MASS INCARCERATION rests with offering every prisoner – as well as every prison employee – an opportunity to obtain the type of education and skill-sets needed by society in the 21st century, all of which can be accomplished by joining the global online revolution in higher education.”

To read Maroon’s full letter to the Pope follow this link.

We’ve received indication that the Pope will, in fact, visit Philadelphia’s Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility (CFC) while in town, and we invite you to reiterate the importance of such a visit, and express your support for it, by tweeting the official Papal Twitter account, @Pontifex, with a message echoing Maroon’s sentiments. We ask that you not specify Maroon by name, but rather, use the slogan he’s put forth in his letter. One such tweet tweet might read: “@Pontifex Please take time to meet Pennsylvania prisoners. MASS EDUCATION–YES! MASS INCARCERATION–NO!” If you do choose to tweet, please also include the hashtags #PopeVisitPAprisoners and #PopeInPhilly.

Spring Maroon Tour Concludes

Lastly, the Spring Maroon 2015 Book and Culinary tour concluded this month in Oakland, California, with an event entitled “The 4th of the Lie,” a panel discussion “about the importance of independence and self-determination for colonized peoples,” hosted by the Qilombo Cultural Center. Maroon’s son, Russell the III, joined Shaka At-thinnin, founder of the Black August Organizing Committee, on the evening of July 4th, to expound on some of his father’s ideas from the essay collection Maroon The Implacable.

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While fireworks and car alarms were going off every couple minutes right outside of Qilombo’s doors, Russell shared his thoughts with a multi-generational audience on the importance of coalition-building across movement sectors, even and especially when said sectors may be unfamiliar with one another’s mores and norms; the importance of men challenging sexism and supporting the aspirations and self-determination of women; and the crucial role of localized food production in the midst of large agri-business expansion, coupled with lack of access to healthy food and chronic health problems in working class communities of color.

This last point proved especially timely, as Qilombo community members have recently been involved in a struggle to preserve the Afrika Town Garden they established for the purpose of providing healthy, locally-grown produce to their neighborhood. After years of neglecting the lot on which Afrika Town was recently born, its owner has threatened to evict volunteers and raze the garden, in a clear attempt to make his property more appealing to potential well-off buyers in a rapidly gentrifying part of town. Read more about the struggle to defend the Afrika Town Garden.afrika-town

As always, we offer you our profound gratitude for your support, and our hope to celebrate greater victories with you in the days to come…

The Shoatz Family and Friends

 

Free Dante Cano! Arrested During Bay Area Rebellion!

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On Wednesday, March 11th, the District Attorney’s office pushed in court for Dante Cano to be hit with a felony charge for vandalism. The one police officer in court claimed that after hearing a window being hit, he saw a person in black running in a sea of other people in black. Several moments later, Dante was in police custody, despite no evidence actually linking him to the crime. We are asking people to please help bail Dante out of jail, which will increase his changes of defending himself in court. We also call on everyone to continue to support the Ferguson 3, youths arrested during the first night of the rebellion in the Bay Area.

Please donate to bail out Dante at: http://www.gofundme.com/ok4ksg

“He is a danger to the community,” declared the lawyer. The lawyer representing the DA stated that the boarded up windows of which Dante is accused of attacking during a protest in February, represent all that is wrong in Oakland. People like Dante we were told, “Cause violence in peaceful protests.” People like Dante Cano, a poor working-class youth from the Bay Area, we are lead to believe, are the most dangerous element in Oakland.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The window that is alleged that was broken, is currently owned by one of the largest developers in Oakland. One of the same developers which is helping to raise rents, push out long-term residents, and displace communities of color. During the time of the demonstration, police had just murdered Vuyvette Henderson in Emeryville, while police shootings occurred in San Jose, Richmond, East Oakland, and police were let off in the murder of Alex Nieto in San Francisco. Dante Cano isn’t a threat to the people – he’s someone that stands up against the violence of the police and is criminalized for it.

Across the Bay Area, thousands face evictions as developers and landlords raise rents, push out the homeless and poor, and displace communities of color. Meanwhile, the police come down hard in these communities and attack demonstrations against evictions and police terror. This is why tens of thousands of people took to the streets in solidarity with the Ferguson uprising and against white supremacy and the police in the Bay Area in late 2014 and 2015.

Dante Cano is not a danger to the community – the State is.

We ask that you please donate to help bail him out. By getting Dante out of jail, you will help his chances to reduce his felony charges and allow him to fight the charges while on the outside.

Dante Cano has already been in jail for a month. We must stand behind Dante, the Ferguson 3, and all those that the State is trying to single out for collective punishment for the generalized rebellion.

Donate to get Dante out now!

Free Dante Crew
http://freedante.noblogs.org

 We encourage everyone to support all the youths that were arrested during the uprising against white supremacy and the police in the Bay Area in 2014 and 2015. Please donate to the Anti-Repression Committee.

Support the Ferguson 3! Write and support Davontae!

Santa Rita Jail
Davontae Smith BGK969
5325 Broder Blvd.
Dublin, CA 94568

http://www.gofundme.com/ok4ksg

Oakland: First Person account of the recent FBI/OPD/CH Raid of the Music Box

From Indybay, Via Anarchist News:

On February 13th, a punk house known as the Music Box, was raided by the FBI, OPD, and at least one Citrus Heights officer in West Oakland, Ca. This is a first person account of what took place. It was submitted anonymously to Indybay.org on February 16th, 2013.

3 days ago on Feb 13th 2013, my home , The Music Box, located on 3404 Market St in Oakland was raided by the FBI, OPD and various officers leading the investigation from Citrus Heights, CA.

The police officers at first vocalized that the intended purpose of the raid was to look for a murder suspect. Latter, they vocalized that they were there only to search for his personal belongings that could be connected with the case. The warrant stated that they were there to search for a myriad of different objects, mostly pertaining to electronic devices, digital media storing devices, clothing, and objects connected with illegal cannabis production. The warrant also stated that they could come back within 10 days of the raid to confiscate other electronic devises, specifically cell phones.

The person whose homicide case they were conducting the raid in conjunction to was in prison for other charges during the time of the raid and had been behind bars for at least a month.

The raid started at approx. 7 am, with one of the residents spotting armed police officers and federal agents approaching the house across the street, the officers then approached the front door, coming through the gate and busted in, flashing a search warrant at the resident who answered the door. They busted all of the residents o of the Music Box out of their bedrooms and forced us all to wait outside in the front of our house, forced to pee in front of them, all of us in our underwear and pajamas for approximately 2 hours while they searched through our home, taking and breaking things leaving with what we saw to be 3 or 4 bags of things. No known electronic devices were taken. They originally told us we were detained but then that too was verbally retractted. They let us all take a look at a copy of the warrant that they left for us. They attempted to interrogate some of the residents about the suspects character, his whereabouts and asking if he had ever attempted to get them to do illegal things with them. One of the residents was put into handcuffs after they went to get a pack of cigarettes.
Continue reading

Oakland: Statement regarding January 8 courtroom chaos

From Anarchist News:

for comrade Jack

statement below:

This past Tuesday morning, nearly 100 people gathered at Oscar Grant Plaza to say goodbye to Jack. Jack was arrested on January 7, 2012 during the very first FTP march in downtown Oakland. This march was called as a response to OPD and the local Oakland state apparatus’ repression of all rebellious elements in Oakland with brute force in the wake of Occupy Oakland. After clearing the encampment at Oscar Grant Plaza twice, a struggle over territory in Oakland’s downtown became a near daily event. Some would try to hold on to Oscar Grant Plaza as a zone where struggles could be coordinated and actions organized. A twenty four hour vigil continued even as the camp was gone. After many brutal arrests and regular brawls with pigs over control of downtown turf, a Fuck the Police march, that ended up becoming a weekly tradition for months, was called for the first Saturday of January. It was at this demonstration on January 7 that Jack was arrested and given bullshit charges – multiple felonies for assaulting a police officer and a made up “possession of an explosive device” charge that would eventually be dropped due to lack of any evidence. A year long court battle eventually resulted in Jack taking a plea deal: 1 year at Santa Rita Jail (though with “half-time” and “good behavior” he’ll be out in six months) and multiple years of probation.

Together with our comrade and his family leading the way we walked quietly in the street some eight blocks to the court house. About 50 of us somberly filed into the courtroom. Jack was called before judge Carrie Panetta (daughter in law of former CIA director Leon Panetta) who rambled about the length of his sentence. She banned our friend from ever making contacts with “his victims” (as though pigs can be victims!) otherwise known as officers of the Oakland Police Department. After agreeing to the year long sentence, with only half to be served, the judge ordered the bailiffs take Jack into custody. Almost immediately dozens of people were clapping and hissing. Screams filled the air. “Burn the prisons!” “Fuck the police!” “Death to pigs!” “Hang the Judges!” “Pig Fuckers!”“Brick by brick, tear this court to the ground!” People stomped on the ground, cursed the judged, and brought smiles to the dozen or so inmates being sentenced that day. It was a modest yet appropriate response to a system that tears loved ones away from each other and reproduces the laws that defend the horrors in this world Jack was resisting in the first place.

After a minute or so of yelling we decided on our own accord to leave the court. By the time half of us were in the hallway the bailiffs had been ordered to arrest at least one person. These court-pigs rushed into the crowd with tazers and extendible batons. By the end of the pig-initiated melee four people were in custody and dozens of others were fleeing the courthouse. Family members of other prisoners were pleased with our disruption and shouted, “Fuck the police!” from passing cars. Another person leaving the courthouse in the aftermath of the fight nodded in approval and stated “I want friends like y’all”. We do not mention this to inflate our egos or position ourselves as a vanguard. This is merely evidence to prove that the people of Oakland continue to identify the courts and pigs as the enemy despite media representations to the contrary.

Oakland experienced a social explosion in 2011, an explosion no anarchist could have foreseen. One that soaked our wettest dreams. Inspiration drawn from concurrent struggles throughout the United States and across the world fed the naivety of even the most seasoned street fighters. Oakland seemed to be in the midst of an insurrectionary moment. It would not be long before the consequences of a year long social rupture caught up with us.

A wave of repression continues to crest over the West Coast. In the Bay Area alone many dozens of our comrades are in jail, on probation, or facing charges. Squats have been evicted and our social centers are under the gun. From the Bay to Seattle houses have been raided, grand juries have been convened, comrades are in prison, others have fled, and some have cowardly turned their backs on us in cooperation with the State. We acknowledge our stories are not unique. This wave of repression has crashed down on multiple cities across North America and the world.

Sometimes we drown in our collective hopelessness. We take cover in our homes. We cradle ourselves with distractions. We cope with silence. Last Tuesday we spontaneously chose a different path. We grieved loudly. The reality of yet another loved one ripped from us proved to be too much. If only for a moment their halls of justice were graffitied with disruptive screams and we brought the Oakland Commune to our enemy’s pig pen. We hope memories of yesterday will bring strength to our friends behind bars. This time the gavel did not delay our resistance. Our hopelessness has again turned into rage. May our struggles reflect such a turn.

Fire to the prisons. Fuck the police.
Freedom to our comrades. Freedom to all prisoners.

Postscript: As of Friday January 11, all four comrades arrested in the courtroom melee have been released from Santa Rita. Only one has appeared in court and his charges are not being filed at this time by the DA. Hopefully the same will be true with the other three who have court in February.

“Chaos” in Oakland court — Occupy activists arrested

From SFGate:

The scene has played out dozens of times in Oakland courtrooms in the past 14 months. An Occupy activist, arrested during a demonstration, makes a court appearance as supporters look on from the gallery. Sometimes the supporters sit quietly, obeying the strict rules set out by the court, and other times they shout disapproval, or chant slogans, and get the boot.

On Tuesday, three of them got arrested, authorities said.

It happened in Department 11 of the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, during the 8:30 a.m. sentencing of 24-year-old activist Jack Rusk of Oakland. Earlier, he had pleaded guilty to one count of felony assault in a deal with prosecutors that called for a year in jail. Prosecutors dropped a slate of charges — including assault on a peace officer and possessing explosives — that stemmed from an Occupy anti-police rally Jan. 7, 2012.

Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick, an office spokeswoman, said Rusk was indeed sentenced in a brief hearing and remanded into custody by Alameda County sheriff’s deputies.

Sgt. J.D. Nelson, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, said some audience members then shouted at Judge Carrie Panetta, who ordered one woman to be arrested for contempt. He said that as deputies arrested the woman, two other people interfered and were also taken into custody on suspicion of obstruction. The arrestees, who were jailed, were not identified.

One of Rusk’s attorneys, Jeff Wozniak, said there were about 30 supporters in the courtroom, and that after the sentencing they began to chant, “Jack, Jack, Jack.” When Panetta ordered sheriff’s deputies to clear the court, Wozniak said, the supporters started chanting, “F— the police” and “F— the courts.” As people filed out, he said, Panetta ordered the arrest of the woman, who was within a thick crowd, and chaos followed.

“By the time I got out into the hallway, they had Tased someone, taken out their batons and arrested four people,” Wozniak said. “It was a very unfortunate series of events.”

Nelson said he did not know whether deputies had deployed a Taser.

“Whenever there’s any courtroom disruption, our deputies are going to be there to handle it,” he said. “If a judge orders a person to be arrested, they’re going to be arrested.”