Filed under: Bloc Party, Editorials, Incarceration, Political Prisoners
Originally published to It’s Going Down
This past weekend we had the opportunity to sit in the woods with about 50 folks, mostly anarchists, engaged in prison organizing across North America. This is the 6th year for the North American Anarchist Black Cross conference and over those years there have been some genuinely exciting developments to come out of that space. One of the things that can be said to have come out of that space has been a very intentional anarchist presence in the September 9th Strike organizing. A strike that might not have looked as it has without the opportunity for cross pollination that the NAABC conference has provided. Let’s just say that it is fucking dope and we’re glad to have been a part of that space once again.
As anarchists who got our feet wet in regards to prison organizing through the traditional approach to anarchist political prisoner support and then transitioned to a much broader view of supporting prison rebellion, we feel the push and the pull of both locations. We aren’t interested in the tired debates of what constitutes a “political prisoner,” or scrambling over the same $20 bill we all seem to be passing around to one another. This shit is hard. It is hard to attack an intricately built series of interlocking systems of horrific oppression, but what is exciting is that we’re fucking doing it despite how impossible the task might be. Anarchists are collaborating in intensive ways with those on the inside to tear this shit apart. Can we get a “fuck yeah,” on that tip?
While we are firm believers in supporting people who go in on political or revolutionary charges, we are also firm believers that there are only going to be more opportunities created for folks to get free together when we broaden our approaches to tearing down the prisons. Right now we are seeing the broad social delegitimization of the prison industrial complex much in the same way we have seen the broad social delegitimization of police since Mike Brown’s murder and the Ferguson rebellion. This is an opportunity to connect with those on the inside, social movement prisoners or otherwise, and push at the fractures of carceral society. We intend to continue to use the space of Bloc Party to facilitate and highlight the ways in which this is happening, so we’ll be featuring some interviews over the coming weeks with people coming at this shit from all sides. We’re excited about that and can’t wait to share those.
From prison strikes to empty cells! Now for all that news from the bloc…
In the lead up to the North American Anarchist Black Cross conference there was another panel discussion featuring former political prisoners. You can catch a recording of the panel over at Unicorn Riot. Keep an ear out while watching for our favorite quote from former prisoner, Daniel McGowan:
“Whack communications management units!”
Yeah, Daniel, we agree that shit is whack.
At the time of writing this we received an update that Robert Seth Hayes, one of the longest held political prisoners in the U.S., had experienced a diabetic coma as of Monday, this being the third time in a two month period. There is no fucking reason anyone’s diabetes should be uncontrolled like this and it is clear he is experiencing gross medical neglect:
Seth has been suffering from uncontrolled diabetes for over 15 years now. His sugars go up to the 400’s, then down so low he falls into a diabetic coma. He has had 3 such code blue diabetic comas in the past 2 months. Each diabetic coma he goes into could end in death if not noticed and treated right away.
We are asking that Seth be given an insulin pump/sugar monitor immediately to avert these near fatal incidents. He has just recently been seen by an outside Endocrinologist who recommended he be issued the device. The NYS DOCCS is aware of the situation and is moving in the right direction but it is not fast enough; we cannot afford to have another incident of low sugar. The last coma just happened earlier this week on Monday and Seth had to spend the night in the hospital.
The sugar monitor sends a loud warning if his sugars are beginning to get either too high or too low and the pump allows him to use small dosages of insulin when needed along with his eating schedule and daily activity.
We therefore urge you to call, write and fax to demand immediate provision of an Insulin Pump/Sugar Monitor to Robert Seth Hayes 74A2280. We are thankful that DOCCS has been more responsive to Seth’s medical needs lately, but Seth needs this device immediately!
PHONE, WRITE, FAX THIS DEMAND TO:
Carl J. Koenigsmann M.D.
Deputy Commissioner/Chief Medical Officer
NYS DOCCS Division of Health Services
Harriman State Campus, Building #2
1220 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12226-2050
Thank You for Your Time & Effort. It has and continues to make a difference!
Write to Seth and let him know he is in our hearts and on our minds:
Robert Seth Hayes #74A2280
Sullivan Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 116, Fallsburg, NY 12733-0116
To contribute to ongoing efforts supporting Robert Seth Hayes, please donate online here.
I remember that I am not adrift, I remember that I did what I could. I fought to make this Earth a better place for Animals and I remember that the only regrets I still truly harbor are the regrets of the human centric world in which I still live. And I don’t mean just within these prison walls. I mean a world in which Animals Lives are so cheap that they die by the billions upon billions and hardly a person cares. A world in which human supremacy has reached dizzying heights. A world in which the vanity of our species collective unconscious has turned our kind into a plague that ravages the Earth and breeds discord where once there was balance. A world of human filth and greed.
Walter is about halfway through his 12 year, 4 month sentence. Send some solidarity that way:
PO Box 5000
Greenville IL 62246
Marius Mason’s support folks are currently fundraising so that he can enroll in college courses. Marius and his support crew had this to say about the desire to take these classes:
Marius wants to study psychology in order to, in his words, gain a better understanding of how the mind works, to develop a deeper understanding of his own diagnosed gender dysphoria, and the way in which we all develop a sense of self and our relationship to the larger society. He adds, “When I am released I don’t want to be a burden to my family, I have a huge fine and will also have many costs to pay for my life-time of probation. It will be necessary to provide for those costs, in order to avoid a return to prison…and more than anything else, I’d like to think that I could contribute something meaningful to society, to be a help and support as so many others have helped me through these prison years.”
Please consider throwing some money his way! Daniel McGowan also wrote a letter that helped double the contributions for Marius’ college fund. We want to remind people that sharing these fundraisers through our networks is vital and actually has a tangible impact. From Daniel’s letter:
Marius is being held at a strange unit that is a combination of a CMU (Communication Management Unit), female death row (the federal system had one woman on death row) and a mental health unit (where people with significant mental health needs are kept but not treated). It is also a unit for women and Marius is the only male there.Prospects for release are not good and he has been there for 6 years now. Like the CMU I was held in, there are loads of problems- a tiny group of political dissidents and no programming coupled with intense censorship. Marius has a 22 year plus sentence and is trying to make a life for himself after prison while fighting very intense battles with the BOP to get medical treatment consistent with his gender. Early battles have been won on this front and Marius is now getting testosterone shots (first documented trans man to get this, by all accounts)…Educational pursuits behind the walls really helped my survival in prison. Like Marius, I was not able to take many courses as many correspondence courses have gone to an online format only. Marius has a very real chance though to pursue these efforts so that when he is out, he has a chance to acquire employment.
Please give what you can.
with love, daniel
We also want to make a renewed call for mail to Marius! As of October 15th his support crew said he was receiving very little mail. Send something his way:
Marie (Marius) Mason
PO Box 27137
Ft. Worth, TX 76127
Anonymous prisoner and hacker, Martin Gottesfeld, began a hunger strike as of October 3rd. We actually had not heard of Marty’s situation until this was shared with us via submission, but we learned a lot from his support site and encourage you to check it out. Marty could really use some letters of support and solidarity:
Marty Gottesfeld #12982104
Donald D. Wyatt Detention Facility
950 High St.
Central Falls, RI 02863
Sean Swain made a plea for some support fellow prisoner Michael Rhodus, who was subjected to sexualized targeting by two guards in the prison which put Michael at risk for sexual abuse at the hands of fellow prisoners or prison staff. Fuck Ohio prisons. Fuck all CO’s. If you have a minute to send Michael a quick postcard of support, you can do so at this address:
Michael Rhodus #714-293
Warren Correctional Inst.
P.O. Box 120
Lebanon, OH 45036
Up in North Dakota folks continue to resist the Dakota Access Pipeline, with thousands of indigenous people and those in aligned struggles continuing the encampments at Standing Rock. A story started going around this week about mistreatment of arrestees including strip searching and being held naked overnight. While the abuses by law enforcement up there are ongoing, we also wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the joy that came along with the first baby born at the Dakota Access resistance camps. Welcome, little one! Know that you were born to a warrior and will grow in a time where so many people are standing against that which seeks to destroy us. We also want to acknowledge the midwives up there who are offering care to pregnant, birthing and parenting people. Y’all are incredible.
In Los Angeles people continue to protest the planned construction of a new women’s correctional facility in Lancaster, CA. The protestors sported hazmat suits to draw attention to the intersection of public health concerns with prison construction:
The hazardous materials suits donned by the protesters were intended to draw attention to concerns that jail construction could result in cases of Valley Fever or coccidioidomycosis, according to Antje Lauer, an associate professor of microbiology at Cal State Bakersfield.
“The Antelope Valley is a hot spot for the pathogen,” Lauer said.
Lauer told the board that there is medication but no cure or vaccine for the fungal infection.
Construction, or even wind, can stir up microscopic soil-based spores that when breathed into the lungs can cause fever, chest pain and coughing.
Most people who breathe in the tiny spores do not get sick, but pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or diabetes bear a higher risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and county health officials. Those who are black or Filipino are also at greater risk of developing severe forms of the infection.
Even those with acute symptoms can often be treated with fluids and bed rest. But the infection can lead to death in the most severe cases, according to the county’s Department of Public Health.
In 2014, 28 cases in which the infection spread beyond the lungs and 426 total cases were reported to county health officials. A more recent count was not immediately available.
State prison officials are facing multiple lawsuits filed on behalf of dozens of inmates who have contracted the disease. In 2015, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation had to transfer at least 2,100 inmates susceptible to the disease out of Central Valley prisons to other facilities.
There is a sick interview with the folks behind Fight2Live in New York that you can read over at Mask Magazine. Fight2Live is working on support for those targeted by the state through fundraising, prisoner support, prison visits, coordinating legal teams and attending court dates. This is also the organization that BRUJAS new 1971 skate wear line will be benefiting. You can check out BRUJAS Kickstarter over here. We’ll be featuring an interview with some folks from BRUJAS in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for that.
It’s Going Down just published an excellent write up and report back from someone who was present at the uprising at Kinross in Michigan on September 9th and 10th. Gilbert Morales could use some support right now in the form of letters, donations to his commissary and some books. You can write Gilbert at:
Gilbert Morales #186641
Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility
13924 Wadaga Rd.
Baraga, MI 49908-9204
Gilbert can only receive books through three approved vendors: Edward Hamilton Books, Barnes and Noble and Amazon (books must come from Amazon itself, not a person listing books on Amazon). The books must be new and the package must include a receipt. Not all books will be approved. Please choose books that are unlikely to attract negative attention from the prison mailroom.
Prisoners spoke to deputy wardens and said they were upset about the low wages they receive for their labor. They complained of the commutation process and the lack of space in the visitation room, which leads to the turning away of visitors.
They discussed high phone rates, terrible food provided by the contractor Trinity Services Group, and crowded living conditions in which eight prisoners are forced to live in a room built for four. They spoke out against the lack of re-entry programs, the lack of bleach for their laundry, and MP3 players given to the prisoners that break easily and can neither be fixed nor replaced.
The prisoners said there was not enough room in the law library and complained that they were not allowed to transfer to other facilities. Just as their predecessors at Attica did 45 years earlier, the marching prisoners demanded “no retaliation for their peaceful protest.”
Evelyn said the warden promised he would take care of whatever he could, and if there was something he couldn’t take care of, he would take it to the legislature. “The guys, thinking everything was fine, begin to disperse, go back to their rooms, go back to their everyday routine.”
But Anthony told her that as soon as the warden returned to the control center and the doors were locked, emergency response teams entered the yards with guns, tear gas, and shields.
The assault led to chaos on the yard. Prisoners panicked as officers fired tear gas canisters directly at them while others barricaded themselves in their units. Fires were set, windows were broken, and other facility property was damaged after officers attacked the inmates.
Prisoners hands were zip-tied behind them. Others, believed to be instigators of the strike, were roused from their beds.
“They put them outside in the rain for hours, left them out there even some of them wanting to use the bathroom, they refused, so a couple had to use it on themselves,” Evelyn said. “Then they ended up shipping those guys out.”
Right now there is still a lot of support work to be done around the prison strike and those in rebellion against their captors. Over at Support Prisoner Resistance there is an updated list of ways you can plug in. We’d like to specifically highlight the ways in which you can provide support from anywhere:
Call prisons to defend rebels they are targeting: tinyurl.com/phonezap
Write to prisoners: https://tinyurl.com/solidaritymailingStrike Tracking: tinyurl.com/striketracking
Joshua Cartrette and Scott Elam are both acive IWOC (Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee) members. They have been advocating for improved conditions and an end to the serving of food unfit for human consumption at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution in Madras Oregon.
As a result prison officials have placed Scotte Elam and other IWOC organizers in a “Disciplinary Housing” & segregation unit and have enforced a communications blackout. They have also transfered Joshua Cartrette to a prison far away from his family. Josh’s family reports that the prison have been turning them away when they have gone to visit, prior to his transfer.
There is also a lengthy letter from Joshua about the repression he is facing on the inside. He could really use some support right now. Please send Josh “Zero”, books and letters to help him in his stint in solitary. He’s asking for books on sociology, history, economics, business, war, astronomy, just no fiction.
Joshua Cartrette SID #12225965
Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution
Pendleton, OR 97801
Phone numbers: (573)-751-2389 and (573)-751-3222
Message: “Hello, I am a concerned citizen contacting you on behalf of Joshua Williams #1292002, who is currently housed at the ERDCC in Bonne Terre, MO. Joshua Williams has been unjustly housed with violent offenders in level 5 at this facility, when he should be in level 2. Joshua Williams is a non-violent, wrongly convicted young man with no priors. Because the prison has jeopardized the safety of Joshua Williams and housed him haphazardly, we are also demanding that Joshua Williams be transferred to a facility closer to his home in St Louis, MO.
We need Joshua Williams transferred from level 5 to level 2, and his transfer papers should be approved and in process immediately.
I need this message to be passed on to the director, deputy director, and any other parties who can expedite this process. This is an emergency and of the utmost importance.”
You can also drop Josh a line, because support means the world to folks behind the prison walls:
Josh Williams #1292002
2727 Highway K
Bonne Terre, MO 63628
Project FANG is a much-needed attempt to fill a gap in the ongoing support work for earth and animal liberation prisoners in the United States. Below is detailed information about the fund; we extend an invitation for prisoners and their supporters to use it. For now, the fund is limited to earth and animal liberation prisoners in the United States and their visitors. With additional funding, we hope to expand access to the fund in the future.
Initially, project FANG will be facilitated by NYC Anarchist Black Cross and Sacramento Prisoner Support. More folks may become involved in the project should the need and interest arise. You can donate by going to projectFANG or sending a check or money order payable to NYC ABC to:
project FANG c/o NYC ABC
Post Office Box 110034
Brooklyn, New York 11211
We’re continually inspired by everything folks are doing to provide meaningful support to folks who went in for political actions and those who got politicized after going in. We hope that we can all continue that work as well as create space for even more badass ways of breaking apart prison society.
With visions of burning embers and crumbling walls,
– bad kids now and ever more