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Feb 20, 18

Bloc Party: Repression and Political Prisoner Updates

While there’s been a lot going on around the bloc, we wanted to get out these very important political prisoner and repression updates as fast as possible.

First up, Scott Walker, a volunteer with No More Deaths was indicted on further felony charges by a grand jury last week. If found guilty, it would mean that others could be charged with “felony harboring” and also, conspiracy for providing humanitarian aid to those in need in the borderlands. These charges, along with the J20 case, attacks on Black Lives Matter and Water Protectors, tell us that the State is looking to expand existing laws in order to attack resistance movements. In this case, they are looking to criminalize the life-saving humanitarian work that No More Deaths has been doing for years. As No More Deaths wrote:

Humanitarian Aid Worker Scott Warren indicted on additional felony charge, facing up to 20 year sentence

A grand jury has indicted Scott Daniel Warren, a volunteer with the organization No More Deaths/No Más Muertes, with three felony charges: two counts of felony harboring and one charge of felony conspiracy. The maximum sentence for these charges is 20 years in prison.

The new conspiracy charge is notable, as conspiracy charges have been used by the government to scare and suppress social justice movements and target political dissidents. This case holds critical weight as the Trump administration targets immigrant rights leaders and those who stand with them nationwide. Please donate to our legal defense campaign here:

No More Deaths is committed to resisting this troubling trend in enforcement and continue our work of ending death and suffering in the borderlands.

The trial for the #BlackPride4 has ended. During the trial of the four Black queer and trans activists, who participated in an action that blocked a Columbus PRIDE march last year to bring attention to the murder of trans people of color, the group Stonewall Columbus actually testified against the #BlackPride4. No Justice, No Pride has the following report:

The trial has concluded for the #BlackPride4; protestors who, with Black Queer & Intersectional Columbus and in solidarity with #NoJusticeNoPride, took direct action on June 17th of last year to disrupt the pride parade in Columbus—the second largest pride celebration in the Midwest.

The direct action by the Black Pride 4 sought to draw attention to “the violence against and erasure of black and brown queer and trans people, in particular the lack of space for black and brown people at pride festivals,” and to highlight the disproportionately high number of trans women of color that had been murdered already, only six months into 2017.

For peacefully protesting police violence in a city whose Division of Police killed at least 28 people (21 of whom were black) since 2013 and is facing over two dozen lawsuits, many of which are for civil rights violations, Wriply Bennet, Kendall Denton, Ashley Braxton, and DeAndre Antonio Miles-Hercules were arrested on charges including aggravated robbery, resisting arrest, causing harm to a police officer, failure to comply with a police officer’s order, and disorderly conduct. Bail was originally set at $100,000.

As of Monday, February 12, the trial has ended and the Black Pride 4 are awaiting a verdict.

LGBT spaces should be spaces that value and make room for the most marginalized members of our communities and encourage and support acts of resistance like those carried out by the #BlackPride4. Not spaces where activists are criminalized and attacked for speaking out.

Organizations that choose to name themselves after the Stonewall Riots should be supporting trans and queer people of color in their fight against police violence, not testifying against them. This is a desecration of the legacy of our ancestors.

The #BlackPride4 took action to draw attention to the violence and erasure of black and brown trans and queer folks within LGBT spaces. The fact that their actions were met with criminalization, violence, and laughter from white onlookers is a testament to the urgency of their message. Like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera before them, the #BlackPride4 are the latest in the trans and queer tradition of those who are most vulnerable and marginalized within our communities putting themselves on the line in pursuit of liberation for us all.

The online website, them wrote:

Stonewall Columbus’ executive director, Karla Rothan, has called their parade “a testament to the diversity and inclusiveness of this great city.” Those words were echoed in a post on Stonewall Columbus’ Facebook page following the verdict, which said the organization “is committed to increasing visibility, inclusion, and connection for the LGBTQ+ community.” Yet commenters on the post noted that that commitment became superfluous when Dr. Tom McCartney, Chair of the Stonewall Columbus Board of Trustees, testified in court against the Black Pride 4, calling them a “hate group,” according to the Columbus Free Press. And the swiftness with which the organization threw the protesters under the bus instead of protecting LGBTQ+ people of color says it all. Their efforts represent an attempt to hijack marginalized communities’ much-needed search for visibility for their own gain, under the guide of “diversity” — diversity, it would seem, that has never come.

Last year was cited as the deadliest year on record for transgender women, beating the year prior. Just six weeks into 2018, the fourth known transgender woman was murdered, continuing what has been called a state of emergency for trans women of color, who are killed on average of once or twice per week.

A fundraiser for the #BlackPride4 has been set up, and is getting close to its goal. With sentencing expected in a few weeks, it’s important that people donate and stand behind the #BlackPride4. The fundraiser’s last update wrote:

Legal support fees and care needs for the #BlackPride4 continue to mount, as they have been informed they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Wriply Bennet, Kendall Denton, Ashley Braxton and Deandre Miles are estimating costs to exceed $40,000 and need your support in this struggle for liberation for all.

We also want to bring attention to a man being accused of punching an officer in San Diego during protests against Alt-Right trolls coming to Chicano Park. In the following video, you see how the incident plays out, as an African-American man attempted to walk across the street to get away from the far-Right protest. Police then approached the man over literally j-walking, and then swung at him. Police then attacked the man and piled on him, spraying him in the face with pepper spray. As always, the police claimed that the man was looking to grab the officer’s gun, and that their lives were in danger. Support is needed for this individual, who faces several years in prison. Check the video here:

NYC Books Through Bars posted that they’re looking for donations of specific books. If you aren’t able to donate physical books during their book drive, hit them up via Twitter and send them some of that cash burning a hole in your pocket.

Animal liberation prisoner Walter Bond has been moved to the Terre Haute CMU:

Walter Bond
FCI Terre Haute CMU
PO Box 33
Terre Haute IN 47808

If you recently wrote to Walter at the Greenville Illinois prison address, your letter will probably be forwarded to the new address. If your letter is returned in the mail, just re-send it to the new address.

Thank you to all the supporters who have sent funds for Walter over the last few months while he was on hunger strike and later while he was in the SHU. Now that he is no longer in the SHU and transferred to a new location, your donations will be put to good use.

New York City Anarchist Black Cross has an updated catalogue of political prisoners for download:

We’ve finished the latest version of the NYC ABC “Illustrated Guide to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War” and it’s available for viewing (and download) by clicking on the tab at the top of this page. This update includes updated mini-bios, photos, and address changes for several prisoners.

While NYCABC’s prisoner guide is an incredible effort, it is by no means a full listing of prisoners who need your love and support. In the coming weeks we plan to share a list of prisoners not otherwise listed in this guide, but who wish to receive support from anarchists and have consented to public address listing. Keep an eye out on the column for that.

The fight for keeping package access for New York State prisoners continues:

Keith “Malik” Washington has a new article out on conditions of livestock animals in Texas prisons. Check out the monthly Black and Pink newsletter. In Harlem there is an upcoming benefit and event to free the Move 9 and bring attention to their fight for parole. Eco-anarchist prisoner Marius Mason has also been busy:

Meanwhile in Durham, over the course of Monday and Tuesday, all charges against remaining #DefendDurham defendants were totally dropped. Yay! The Herald Sun wrote:

Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols announced Tuesday afternoon that he is dropping the charges against the five remaining people accused of destroying a Confederate statue in downtown Durham last summer.

The announcement follows a long day in District Court Monday in which a judge acquitted one defendant, Raul Mauro Jimenez, and dismissed the charges against two others, Peter Gilbert and Dante Strobino, after an assistant district attorney presented all her evidence.

“For my office to continue to take these cases to trial based on the same evidence would be a misuse of state resources,” Echols said.

Lastly, with all of the buzz over the film Black Panther, there has been a renewed call to free all former Black Panther and black liberation prisoners. As Left Voice writes:

Dozens of Black Panthers are locked away in prisons across the country or are living in exile like Assata Shakur and Pete O’Neal. We demand the immediate release of ALL political prisoners across the country, especially the members of the Black Panther Party! Former political prisoners like Angela Davis and the late Huey P. Newton were freed only through mass mobilizations. We call on our readers to support Black Panther political prisoners by educating people about their campaigns, writing letters to incarcerated Black Panthers, and donating to them directly in prison.

That’s the roundup for the week. We’ve got an exciting guest column coming up from some comrades in Canada involved with prisoner support and organizing efforts. For now, find a couple friends and crank out some letters to send between the bars!

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Bloc Party is an ongoing column that looks at State repression, counter-insurgency, prisons, political prisoners, as well as what people are doing to resist them.

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