Filed under: Critique, Editorials, Incarceration, Police, Political Prisoners, Repression, US
Originally posted to It’s Going Down
Bloc Party has been getting such positive feedback, we have decided to give you twice the party every month! We want to move to a weekly format, allowing for quicker return on current events related to cops, courts, and prisons. We appreciate all of you who have read and shared this column. We hope that our humble contribution is leading to some good dialogues in your own locales. Perhaps in some small way what we share is pushing narratives forward in ways that are thoughtful and militant. With all that being said, please don’t forget to write to prisoners! Their struggle is our struggle. Okay, here we go:
This week on Ghost Pranks and Other Bullshit, the FBI released a call for revolt by what we believe to be their “terrorist cell” front group, the National Liberation Militia. Either that or some 17 year old neck-beard in their mom’s basement. Regardless, the FBI is certainly trying to set a tone for the holiday season. The anarchist meme world has already reacted with satire and trolling, as well as maybe a little over-zealous paranoia about what this means as far as the repression that may be heating up.
After a week of scheming on our porches and jokes with comrades about costume ideas, we would like to suggest another aspect to this move on the chess board of struggle. Y’all, there is a win in this shit soup. Not just for anarchists, but for all the rebels of the last year that have been rising up against the cops, the state, and their sympathizers. This type of hysteria about “anarchists” and other crazed villains is a weak way of attempting to shift narratives that have been developing in the wake of Ferguson and Baltimore. When individual charges or comments by right wing commentators aren’t enough to disrupt solidarity and organizing, you have to more generally and officially point a finger at a scapegoat.
This scapegoating has been happening on local levels since the uprising in Ferguson, not to mention all the millions of other times before that. Though this is the first time, on such a large scale, that the Feds have attempted to make a boogeyman out of anarchists and other “outsiders” within this new social movement. While we must be strategizing about ways to counter these attempts at divisiveness, its also important for us to recognize our victories. There is power in recognizing that anarchist methods and ideas are more popular and generalized than they have been in a long time. This has the opposition scrambling to regain ground. Lets keep the pressure on! The best thing to do in times of repression is to keep fighting, harder, and more publicly. Make it impossible for them to make a boogeyman out of us. They have given us an even bigger platform for our ideas, use that shit.
Speaking of trolling, as anarchists increasingly become better at not taking themselves so damn seriously, the meme page Anarchists for Bernie Sanders has taken on a life of its own, with sightings being reported at the most recent GOP debate in Boulder, CO. We are excited to see where this goes, not only for the LULZ, but because a humorous intervention into the electoral process is something we see as highly effective to shift dialogue away from the limited moral debates around voting. We hope a few sympathizers can be won over, and a whole lot of liberals will have their fragile sensibilities shaken!
Also from Colorado, some rebellious houseless folks and their supporters attempted to occupy a recently sold park slated for development in Denver. The rebels attempted to erect Tiny Homes to establish a more permanent presence in the gentrified neighborhood, in a city with one of the highest (and growing) homeless populations in the country. This comes the same week that a nearby neighborhood association snitched to the city complaining about a homeless mission that was slated for expansion. This new facility would give people with no house a warm place to be during the day, with games and other entertainment, free internet and job resources, as well as laundry machines and snacks. The actions have gotten national attention, highlighting what many are calling a housing crisis in Denver, backed by a brutal police force that has no problem beating up elderly blind people, roughing up protesters, and gunning down people of color at the second highest rate in the country. The city is already caving to outside pressure, as they have already reversed the decision to shut down the homeless mission.
Unfortunately the occupation at Sustainability Park only existed for about 6 hours, and 10 people were arrested. Personally, we would love to see a militant defense of lands that aspiring insurgents attempt to seize, choosing locations that are easier to defend and will force a city to rethink the way it handles people who aren’t willing to back down and play the typical “activist” game. This can also be achieved in fun and less serious ways, as apparently some are attempting to do with a “To Our Friends,” reading group being hosted at a McDonald’s. As it becomes increasingly difficult for folks, radicals included, to hold down spaces that are accessible to them, maybe a reclamation of the commons looks a lot more like apple pies and French theory at McD’s than it does Zuccotti Park. Insurrection, dollar menu, free refills. #imlovinit
Before you jump to conclusions and critiques about McDonald’s, the apple pies are vegan y’all. Vegan.
Onwards towards what’s been going down with all those on the inside & those who wish to destroy the cages that hold our friends:
Anti State STL posted a letter from an Alabama state prisoner giving a report back on a recent uprising that took place back in early September.
The guys in the block eventually got sick of [being on lock down] enough to start talking about taking action. Ahhh MAN! It felt so good to walk around the block (when they did let us up) and hear everyone talking about running it on the CO’s! Black, white, Blood, GD [Gangster Disciple], young, old, 205, 334, Mobile, Birmingham. None of the things that kept us divided seemed to matter anymore. Everyone had identified one common enemy.
Our enemies are clear and numerous. Keep an eye out over at Anti State STL for updates on the struggle out in Alabama as well as opportunities to express your support and solidarity for what they’re fighting for.
Speaking of how much we fucking hate prisons, Will Potter put out a new TED Talk on the “secret US prisons you’ve never heard of.” Clearly a lot of you who read this have heard of the CMUs, but it is great to see Potter using this platform to expose this bullshit to a wider audience. TED Talks often suck and reiterate some boring, capitalist garbage. Good job with this one, Will!
Mumia Abu Jamal has some great new pieces up over at Prison Radio. Check those out for sure.
Marius Mason’s support crew just posted two beautiful new painting that he completed. Send Marius a letter letting him know how much you loved them. You can write him at:
Marie (Marius) Mason #04672-061
Federal Medical Center
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127
Remember that Marius has communication restrictions that limit his ability to respond, but he will receive your mail and that it means a lot to him!
So many of our comrades have been sending out beautiful art and powerful poetry for their support crews to share! Eric King’s site has a new poem up as well:
I refuse to make a habit
of being oppressed or oppressive
to wear chains and pretend
nothing orange is stylish
these meals aren’t gifts
and these captors aren’t our pals
don’t give a fuck how their day is
or if they’re breathing
that pepper spray isn’t cologne
these beatings aren’t for show
the fire got put out in our cans
but the power is in our hands
till they rob the air we breathe
i’ll stand on the side of action
lessons learned today
mental weakness overcome today
will make a better me tomorrow
for refusing to be broken
and refusing to make a habit
of being oppressed
or of being oppressive
such will keep me free
no matter what they bring
Please send Eric a letter of loving solidarity. Also please consider donating to his ongoing fundraising or picking up one of the rad shirts available through his support site. Send that letter over to:
100 Highway Terrace
Leavenworth, KS 66048
Connor Stevens of the Cleveland 4 shared another awesome piece of poetry. Please send Connor a letter or maybe send him something off of the Amazon Wish List that NYC ABC has set up! Your awesome letter can be sent to:
Tyler of Kevin & Tyler has sentencing on Monday, November 9th. Here are all the details for those who are in or can travel to the Chicago area:
Monday, November 9, 9:15am, Courtroom 1241, Judge Amy St. Eve U.S. District Court, Northern District of IL Everett McKinley Dirksen U.S. Courthouse 219 South Dearborn Street Chicago, Illinois 60604
Please wear court-appropriate attire and behave respectfully. Please also be aware that you will likely have to show ID and be subject to search to enter the courthouse. Arrive early as the courthouse may be busy.
Kevin Olliff’s sentencing will be scheduled for a later date. He is currently in federal custody, so please continue to write him. You can write Kevin at:
Metropolitan Correctional Center
71 West Van Buren Street
Chicago, IL 60605
There is a great documentary about Leonard Peltier that is now available to stream on YouTube. This documentary includes a lot of great interviews with Leonard and his family members. This film has previously been difficult to get a hold of, but is a great way to share his story. You know, you could probably set up a time to show it in your hometown with all your old friends and a bunch of new ones.
Another great PP/POW birthday poster is available online for sharing and printing from The Prison Books Collective. Wish Ed Poindexter a happy birthday, okay?
Jalil Muntaqim is being denied books, including a copy of his OWN fucking book that he wrote, after they had been previously approved for receipt. Jalil had this to say about the situation:
Again, when the officer today recognized one of the books was of my own writing, sent by my publisher, he decided at the window I could not have the book after first giving me the receipt paper for me to sign to receive the book. He then rejected the three other books out of hand, again denying they be sent to the Media Review Committee, although invoices for each indicated they were properly ordered.I would prefer not to presume the officer at the package room was prejudiced due to my being the author of the book. However, the only conclusion to be reached, after the books were initially approved to be 20 of 22 received, is that the officer’s refusal to permit me to have the books at the window obviously provides no other plausible reason than his personal disdain and prejudice.
Fuck that. You can send a letter over to the prison that holds our captured comrade and let them know that the arbitrary refusal of Jalil’s access to books and mail needs to stop. Write to Commissioner Annucci at:
Anthony Annucci Commissioner of DOCCS
Albany, New York 12226-2050
Um, so 2015 is almost over. Instead of focusing on the overwhelming sense of failure or impending doom so many of us feel as the holidays approach and the years draw to a close, how about you order a sick Certain Days Calendar instead! Or maybe you want to use this as a fundraiser or Hanukkah gifts for the kids? You can order in bulk directly from the Certain Days folks by heading over to their site.
Former political prisoner and all around cool guy, Daniel McGowan, has been involved in an ongoing lawsuit being spearheaded by the Center for Constitutional Rights called Aref, et al v. Holder. This lawsuit surrounds the use of CMUs by the government to stamp out political dissent. These units are a dystopian sci-fi novel come to life, as most prison units tend to be of course. In Daniel’s case it is quite clear he was sent to the Terre Haute CMU for the exact reason that he dared to remain politically minded while incarcerated:
The Bureau of Prisons has kept everything about their Communications Management Units opaque—from how you end up there to how you get out,” said plaintiff Daniel McGowan. “I only learned through this lawsuit that I was sent to the CMU because I continued to care about politics when I was incarcerated and because I wrote letters to my friends on the outside about social justice issues. Other people in the CMUs should have the right to learn why they were actually sent there, too.
Anarchist prisoner Casey Brezik has been transferred from Jefferson City Correctional to Northeast Correctional Center in Bowling Green, Missouri. Please take a minute to drop him a line or send him something to read to help him acclimate to his new surroundings.
Casey’s new address is:
Casey Brezik #1154765
13698 Airport Road
Bowling Green, MO 63334
Folks in a migrant detention center 35 miles outside Austin, Texas are on hunger strike. The number of participants in the strike have climbed to upwards of 500 at this point, up from just 30-40 women participating back on October 27th when the story first reached the outside. While the giant pieces of human garbage from the CCA facility that holds these women captive claim there is no hunger strike going on, the organization that is coordinating outside support is posting scans of hand written letters that clearly state otherwise. The women involved in this strike are unanimous in their one demand: immediate release. FUCK YEAH. That is a demand based strategy that we can get behind.
A new publication is a brewing! We’re pretty sure that Unstoppable is going to be fucking sick. Here are all the details and the information on getting involved:
Unstoppable is specifically by and for incarcerated folks who identify as women, gendervariant, and/or trans. This anti-authoritarian publication seeks to blend radical political analyses with personal experiences and observations. We want to elevate the voices on the inside that are often excluded from political dialogues, while also asking people on the outside to convey their social and political realities to people on the inside. Unstoppable aims to build bridges across prison walls and beyond them by facilitating dialogue and engagement between those who are incarcerated and those who are not.
Unstoppable is asking for contributions in the form of artwork, poetry, writings, social commentaries, fieldnotes from the prison yard or the streets, critical views of power structures and more. Unstoppable is particularly interested in focusing on gendered issues and systems of social control in the U.S. context, but we invite a wide array of topics. Such topics might include: organizing against police terror; personal triumphs in overcoming past or ongoing trauma; community-based responses to gendered violence and abuse; self-care in high stress environments; the consequences of deprivation in the U.S. prison system; environmental liberation; forms of resistance in women’s prisons; do-it-yourself ethics; astrology and planetary transits; et cetera!
Please email [email protected] if you wish to be involved with this project in any way or if you have a contribution to share.
Or you can write us at unstoppable, po box 11032, pueblo, co 81001 to contribute or to get a free subscription if you are currently incarcerated! Please spread the word to folks on the inside and out; we want this distributed broadly!
From the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, or IWOC’s website, the group that we interviewed in June of this year about the drugging of prisoners in Missouri:
Imprisoned social justice activist Kenneth Bell is being targeted by the administration at Potosi Prison in Missouri. From a letter dated 10-24-15… “Until a couple of days ago I was the prison law clerk, “Jailhouse Lawyer”, but I was fired for filing grievances and for assisting others who are incapable of doing it themselves. . . . Please form a network of people who will call and confront officials about my firing. If I am to continue to help them here in PCC I need to be back in my position. . . . By firing me, prison officials hope to intimidate other prisoners and thereby discourage anyone who would be inclined to complain about conditions here, or who would try to help another prisoner do so.”
Many of you may remember the horrendous conditions that we described at Potosi last winter and the torture endured by prisoners who went on hunger strike after being retaliated against for complaining then.
For a list of phone numbers to call, scripts, instructions and updates, check out http://iwoc.noblogs.org
We’ll see you again in a week. In the meantime we suggest you write a few letters, look into how to subversively lay claim to McDonald’s as a social centre, figure out clever ways to troll the Feds back as vengeance for a shitty job at making us look bad and keeping the damn heat on.