After years of struggling behind bars for prison abolition, anarchy and against white supremacy Joshua Zero Cartrette will be returning to the community sometime in the next few weeks! But the struggle continues! Let’s make sure our comrade who has been so important in the fight against white supremacy and the prison industrial complex in Oregon has the chance they deserve to build a life beyond prison walls!
While incarcerated, Josh was an active member of the IWW’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) and the founding member of the Anarchist Black Cross Oregon Prison Chapter.
Over the years Josh encouraged dozens of Prisoners around the state of Oregon to contribute to the Oregon Prisoner Forum – a monthly newsletter that circulates articles and information from incarcerated peoples – which he also founded. (Read about that here http://pdxabc.org/oregon-prisoner-art/). Josh also became an outspoken anti-racist and spent years mentoring incarcerated youth to escape the trappings of the white supremacist movement. For his organizing, he was repeatedly targeted by organized white supremacist gangs with death threats, forcing him to spend much of his time in protected custody.
Across the state Josh was able to form several study groups that provided both basic civil rights education as well as more in-depth political analysis for prisoners. Josh’s educational work has empowered prisoners from across the state to take steps towards self advocacy and to take a stand to improve the deplorable conditions they are subjected to – the 2016 prisoner work strike at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution being just one example (read more here http://pdxabc.org/noise-demo-at-deer-ridge-correctional-interview-with-oregon-iwoc-prisoner-on-the-inside/).
On September 9th 2016 prisoners across the country self-organized to take a historic stand against prison slavery and its continuation of institutionalized white supremacy and genocide. Oregon joined other states across the country in the wave of resistance that worked its way into institution after institution.
As a result of the subsequent wave of repression across the country, Josh was subjected to over 6 months of solitary confinement (a punitive practice considered across the world to be a form of torture) when prison officials found him to be working to “orchestrate Oregon prison inmates to become involved in a massive prison work stoppage in all institutions” where the “purpose of these prison work stoppage was to shut down the daily operations of the institutions based on the inmate’s perception that institutions utilize inmate labor for capitalist needs”. (See Joshes Report back and the ODOC official Misconduct Report here.)
White supremacists openly organize, fascist violence creeps back into the commonplace and the reactionaries are all abuzz – in this age, we have an obligation to support those who contest the fascist creep in the belly of the beast, where it festers and finds its most fertile recruiting grounds. Not only does the prison industrial complex act as a coercive and disciplinary institution created to enact and “legitimize” violence against marginalized communities, it serves as an incubation chamber for supremacist ideology and street violence by routinely allowing open white supremacist gangs to promote their toxic ideas, thus recruit more henchman and build lucrative criminal syndicate networks – within and outside its walls.
The severity of racism in Oregon prisons was expressed by the all afrikan revolutionary Rashid Johnson while incarcerated in Oregon in 2011:
“while the mainstream postures to project racism as a thing of the past, its rabid forms persist. Which I found upon my imprisonment in Oregon, where in contrast to most everywhere else in Amerika, the prison population is overwhelmingly white and thus feels no compulsion to conceal its bigotry. Security in numbers.
…despite the delusions of many, is the level of civilization in Amerika, which one sees reflected in Oregon prisons, where a rabid racist culture parades openly stripped of pretense and lying in wait for the moment it can be given free violent expression.”
To bring down the walls of racism and fascism we must begin by bringing down the prison walls.
Anti-racists and anti-fascists have an obligation to support those on the inside – the ones engaged in a life or death battle against these forces – and to welcome back our comrades when they re-enter our communities.
Support your fellow worker, fellow anti-racist, anti-capitalist and anarchist Joshua Ames Cartrette! We are asking folks across the country to consider throwing a benefit show or a letter writing night to incarcerated anti-racists and to donate some funds to Josh’s re-entry. Help him get his life off the ground once again and continue the work that he once began in prison.
The funds will be used to help josh find a new place to live and with all of the associated move in costs, to provide him time to look for work and to recover from the traumatic experience of incarceration.