Filed under: Featured, In Contempt
Welcome to In Contempt, a new column based on the existing prison rebels birthday listing, but expanded into a more general look at repression and other relevant news from a prison abolitionist perspective. Here’s a few things that have been going on over the last month or so let’s dive in.
AARC continues to track federal law enforcement contact with people across metro Atlanta. On January 15 and 16, we received two reports of FBI contact with Atlanta residents. These instances of FBI harassment fit into a pattern both local and national. In the past week, there have been numerous confirmed reports of FBI contact with anti-racists across the United States, including in Philadelphia, PA, Portland, OR, New Jersey, Arizona and within prisons.
Federal agencies, especially the FBI, have been granted a new legitimacy across the political spectrum following the Trumpist takeover of the U.S. Capitol building in D.C. on January 6th. Institutional consensus directs these agencies to crush those involved in the Capitol takeover. Now the state institutions seeking their own self-preservation are supported also by leftists who wish to see the Capitol protestors jailed. Reports indicate that the FBI, sometimes supported by other police agencies, have approached anti-racists at home asking for their cooperation in sharing information about right-wing organizing, also known as fishing. It is evident that the FBI will also use the newfound support of feds cracking down on “extremism” to continue to harass and repress anti-racist and anti-state movements.
Granting legitimacy to federal and state law enforcement will ultimately always bring the most significant burden of repression on those directly challenging white supremacy and the state. Carceral institutions and technologies do not protect us, and they can not be made to work in our favor.
Police Repression Against Striking Workers
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) released a statement of solidarity with the strikers at Hunts Point Market after a picket line was attacked by police on Martin Luther King Day. While the Hunts Point strike has now ended after the strikers won a pay raise, it’s a useful reminder that any effective struggles, from workplace disputes to environmental protection, will always face police repression. Anarchists, abolitionists, and others with experience of resisting this kind of state intimidation should always be thinking about how to make connections with other targeted groups and how our skills and experiences can be used to help bring struggles together.
It’s been a busy month in the Alabama Department of Corrections. The Free Alabama Movement had released a call for a 30-day economic blackout, consisting of both a work strike and a boycott of all services offered by prison profiteers, throughout the month of January. Prisoners held in solitary confinement joined the movement by going on hunger strike. At least one hunger striker, Ronnie Miller at Kirby CF, was violently attacked by staff in response. The Swift Justice blog is an important resource for news from Alabama as it develops, as FAM organizer and hunger striker Swift Justice continues to provide updates on the struggle as frequently as he is able. For more information on the situation in Alabama, see the recent Final Straw interview with FAM organizer Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun, which is also available as a printable zine.Ella Fassler has also written a detailed report on the Alabama system’s use of violence and solitary confinement in response to the strike.
We spoke with Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun, co-founder of the @FREEALAMOVEMENT about the prisoner-led National Freedom Movement, abolishing prison slavery, #30dayeconomicblackout, ADOC and Federal promises about parole and pandemic in #alabama prisons and more.https://t.co/M09RBrLsjU pic.twitter.com/8kyI5KDR4z
— The_Final_Straw (@StrawFinal) January 10, 2021
Mongoose Distro has a lot of updates from Texas, where Comrade Z and others are calling for a prison strike and facing serious retaliation as a result. See Comrade Z’s writings “The Reality of the Modern-Day Slave Complex” and “The Proper Form of Politeness is Attack”, along with “Texas, Pay American Inmates Their Due” by Comrade GW and “TeKKK$a$: Where Black Lives Have Never Mattered” by Comrade Monsour. The retaliation against Comrade Z is detailed in “Warden Armstrong and Corruption Team Attempt to Use Age-Old Slaveholder Tactics to Suppress Comrade Z’s Free Speech” and “TDCJ Retaliates on Comrade Z, Again.”
Abolitionist Media Worldwide has also published a report on Texas prisoners setting fires to protest their conditions.
Florida Prisoner Solidarity recommend a recent Kite Line Radio interview on the growing and shifting policies of repression used by the FDOC, an article by the late Karen Smith on how Black prisoners have been targeted for speaking out about worsening conditions during the COVID-19 epidemic, and an objection from a prisoner against FDOC’s proposed move to eliminate paper mail.
The Final Straw recently interviewed Joseph “ShineWhite” Stewart, a revolutionary from the Panther tradition, about his organizing inside North Carolina prisons. This interview is also available as a printable zine. Some of the same themes are also discussed in a new article from one of ShineWhite’s comrades, Douglas “Double-G” Patrick, about the repressive use of STG or SRG “gang” classifications.
Perilous Chronicle has a report on hunger strikes, uprisings and other resistance in the Saskatechewan jail system. The resistance in Saskatechewan has also been covered by Kite Line Radio and Abolition Media Worldwide.
Jailhouse Lawyers Speak
Jailhouse Lawyers Speak shared the following update about their plans for the new year:
In 2021 it is Jailhouse Lawyers Speak’s agenda to continue to grow, develop, and interlock organized US prisoners resistance to ongoing human rights violations within the larger perimeters of the international community. We firmly believe that our struggles are tied directly with the international struggles around the world. We have to rebuild that bridge of international prisoners solidarity. A large portion of this work you will find being done directly through our prisoners-led JLS International Law Project.
Jailhouse Lawyers Speak will be focusing on developing better modes of communications into the prisons. Currently we are planning to invest more into traditional forms of communications. It is our objective to expose additional contradictions under the Biden regime in order to keep the fires lit inside. This will mean calling for demonstrations inside and out. We are working on options for events and dates. So are you all to expect a call of resistance from us? Yes. It will be directly from us or in collaboration. We are as hopeless today as we was before the major elections. In order for anything to change there has to be resistance.
2021 we will continue to encourage resistance at the highest degree against all prisons and jails wherever they may stand.
You can help raise funds for JLS’s work by buying merch from their store, JLS Rebel Wear. The JLS South Carolina chapter have also issued a call for a phone and email zap to save the life of one of a prison activist who is in danger at Perry Correctional Institution.
We try to never get caught up in breaking the prison class down into sections for a variety of reasons. But here's a nugget:
Based on the prisoners tradition we spring from if we had a choice we would sacrifice for the children and women first.
Let ALL our children and women go pic.twitter.com/joUB5XFB8M
— Jailhouse Lawyers Speak – #DefundThePolice (@JailLawSpeak) January 27, 2021
Incarerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC)
This year has been rife with escalating repression and retaliation for people behind the walls along with growing concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in a death sentence.
Comrade Keith ‘Malik’ Washington, Editor of the San Francisco Bay View National Black newspaper wrote an article about how the Western District of Louisiana was ignoring the pleas of federal prisoners in FCI Oakdale to be placed on home confinement in April of 2020.
In New Mexico, Clifton White, an IWOC and Millions for Prisoners New Mexico organizer was arrested on an Illegal parole intake after organizing a Black Lives Matter protest in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. After months of protests and an international movement to secure his release, Deputy Chief Aaron Vigil at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico retired after using the N-word in a text message referring to Clifton in a state owned cell phone. Clifton was subsequently freed.
In the wake of a COVID-19 Outbreak at the Core Civic run Coffee Correctional Center in Nichols Georgia, we received an audiogram from a prisoner expressing fear for his life as the virus spread throughout the facility with an 85% infection rate. We understand that the pandemic has disproportionately affected people of color and the poor, and that gravely inadequate handling of the international crisis has resulted in what amounts to a violation of 8th amendment protections for incarcerated people.
In July of 2020, incarcerated IWOC member Comrade Kevin ‘Rashid’ Johnson led a hunger strike with the participation of close to 200 prisoners and penned a number of articles. His cell was ransacked after the publishing of one of his articles and his tablet was stomped on repeatedly.
Conditions at the FCI Jesup facility reported people testing positive were housed with people testing negative for COVID-19. Prisoners requested extra good time credit and financial compensation for the physical and psychological effects of the lockdown that was placed punitively and without the purpose of isolating COVID-19 cases. Child sized portions of food were given to prisoners.
Comrade Mfalme Sikivu, an outspoken organizer behind the walls for 20 years and founder of the Ujaama Fraternal Dynasty was retaliated against for working with outside organizers to support rallies to support and uplift the voices of Black and oppressed people. He was placed in solitary, resulting in ongoing demands to end ALL SOLITARY CONFINEMENT as it is a violation of 8th amendment protections.
In July, IWOC organizer Talib Williams experienced a violent 3AM raid on Black people at Soledad State Prison on July 20th, which was documented by his wife Tasha Williams whose article in the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper alarmed the world to the violence enacted by guards who zip tied prisoners, dressed in fatigues, wearing helmets, equipped with night vision and black masks. An all white inter-agency security squad interrogated the zip tied people stating “Black Lives Don’t Matter.” Their aim was to classify the Black men as an STG, the ‘Black Guerilla Family.” They were interrogated about what happened to George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter Moment. IWOC kicked off a phone zap on Anti-Police Brutality day on October 22nd, 2020.
In August 1st, 2020 the Ware State Prison Slave Rebellion took place in which prisoners revolted in the night with three incarcerated people losing their lives. They were rising up about the severe medical neglect with the Human and Civil Rights Coalition of Georgia posting about how folks enslaved in Ware State Prison only receiving 2 sandwiches a day and few to no showers.
Comrade Keith ‘Malik’ Washington released a Black August message highlighting late stage White Supremacy in America and the oppression faced by comrades confronting paramilitary shock troops nationwide.
Oakland Abolition and Solidarity reported that carelessness in handling the COVID-19 pandemic in the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran, CA resulted in crowding, medical neglect and unfettered spread of the virus as transfers of positive cases into housing units without positive cases continued. Social distancing non-compliance, a lack of mask wearing, and lack of communications to prisoners were only a few of the grievances that led to a press release and phone zap to demand basic human rights.
Currently, we are in an uphill battle to end the retaliation against one of our core IWOC members, editor of the SF BayView, Keith ‘Malik’ Washington by the GEO Group run Taylor Street center which he has been housed in. His phone has been confiscated and he was denied home confinement. A press release is due to occur today [January 27th] with his Lawyer Richard Tan announcing a move to oust GEO Group from California – more on this below.
Malik vs Geo Group
In California, Comrade Malik, a formerly incarcerated IWOC member who now works as an editor at the SF Bay View, is facing retaliation for speaking out about a COVID outbreak at his Geo Group-run halfway house. Taylor Street management have confiscated his phone and are refusing to allow him out for work, claiming he is not an essential worker despite news media workers being included in the official California guidance on essential workers. The case has been discussed on KPFA’s Flashpoints and WorkWeek on KPOO, and IWOC called for a phone/email zap in response to this retaliation and GEO Group’s ongoing refusal to release Malik to home confinement, where he would be at less risk of COVID infection.
Bay View editor may take legal action against private prison company:
Keith Malik Washington charges that Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Geo Group retaliated after he contacted a reporter about COVID outbreak in halfway house. https://t.co/2KVuUxiaOJ
— 48 Hills (@48hills) January 19, 2021
In Russia, anarchist Azat Miftakhov has been sentenced to six years in prison for allegedly breaking a window at an office of Putin’s United Russia party. In Greece, there’s an appeal to support eight students facing state repression for allegedly “forming and participating in a criminal organisation”. There’s a fundraiser running for their legal fees, along with another more general fundraiser for Greek revolutionaries facing imprisonment and repression.
Abolitionist Media Projects
Prisons Kill is a new project set up by incarcerated organizer Justin Kaliebe. They have a zine that you can print off and send to contacts inside, and have carried out a number of interviews including one with prisoners at McCormick in South Carolina, which was the site of a rebellion at the end of 2020. This interview should appear online shortly. Other recent interviews from the project have included one about a COVID outbreak at FCI-Fort Dix, and another with Lucasville Uprising prisoner Greg Curry about abolitionist perspectives on police shootings, and the challenge of seeking justice without just upholding the carceral system.
Greg Curry, along with other Ohio prisoners, also contributed to a recent Shadowproof story about the use of solitary confinement to retaliate against organizers.
The San Francisco Bay View recently published a new article by Todd Ashker, one of the main organizers of the historic 2011-2012 California hunger strikes, along with another about the ongoing campaign to free Kenny Zulu Whitmore in Louisiana.
Perilous Chronicle recently published an obituary for the Oregon anarchist prisoner Brian McCarvill. Kite Line continues to put out regular broadcasts including discussions of health advocacy in prisons and environmental justice and incarceration. The Final Straw also puts out quality prison-related content on a regular basis, such as this recent episode featuring David Easley in Ohio, one of the Kings Bay Plowshares Defendants, and a statement from a Chilean anarchist prisoner on the anniversary of a prison massacre there.
Everyone should support the defendants facing charges related to their alleged participation in the George Floyd uprising – this list of our imprisoned comrades needs to be getting shorter, not longer. The status of pre-trial defendants changes frequently, but to the best of my knowledge they currently include:
Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal #70002-066
P.O. Box 562
Philadelphia, PA 19105
David Elmakayes #77782-066
PO Box 562,
Philadelphia, PA 19105
Shawn Collins #69989-066
PO Box 562,
Philadelphia, PA 19105
Steven Pennycooke #69988-066
PO Box 562,
Philadelphia, PA 19105
"I have fought hard for all of us to be on one accord. However, in the process I was made a target." – John Wade
Write to & support John, an Atlanta protestor currently being held without bond in a GA federal facility. pic.twitter.com/VO0C7ZcbX3
— Atlanta Anti-Repression Committee (@atl_arc) January 14, 2021
Washington County Jail
15015 62nd St. N
P.O. Box 3801
Stillwater, MN 55082
Washington County Jail
15015 62nd St. N
P.O. Box 3801
Stillwater, MN 55082
Loren Reed #36045508
P.O. Box 6300
Florence, AZ 85132
PO Box 730
Lovejoy, GA 30250
When writing to pre-trial prisoners, do not write about their cases or say anything that you wouldn’t want to hear read out in court. If you have any updates, either about status changes meaning that people should be removed from this list, or about names that are missing and should be included, please reach out.
Birthdays and Other Days of Note
A few notable upcoming dates: there’s a call for mass clemency on Feb 1st as “national freedom day.” February 6th is observed as the international day of solidarity with Leonard Peltier. Further ahead, there’s a call for a day of actions focused on parole on April 3rd.
Michael “Rattler” Markus
Water protector convicted of a Civil Disorder charge from the Standing Rock protests. Rattler has now been released to a halfway house, so he’s technically no longer in prison, but there’s no visitation and people are only allowed to leave for work, so it’s not much of what you could call freedom either.
Birthday: February 2
Michael “Rattler” Markus (address envelope to Michael Markus)
100 6th Ave SE
Mandan, ND 58554
Veronza Bowers Jr. is a former Black Panther Party member framed for the murder of a U.S. Park Ranger. He is being illegally held past his 30 year sentence, making him one of the longest-held political prisoners in U.S. History.
The Federal system uses Corrlinks, a system where a prisoner must send a request to connect to someone on the outside before they can exchange emails, so if you’re not already connected to Veronza then you’re best off just sending him a card or a letter.
Birthday: February 4
Veronza Bowers, Jr. #35316-136
P.O. Box 1600
Butner, NC 27509
A former Vaughn 17 defendant. While Deric was acquitted in court of all charges in relation to the uprising, he is facing continued retaliation, as he has been moved out of state to Pennsylvania, where many Vaughn defendants are being held on lockdown indefinitely (via placement on PA’s Restricted Release List) on vague and questionable grounds. Years after the uprising, these prisoners are still being abused for staying in solidarity with one another against the state.
Pennsylvania uses Connect Network/GTL, so you can contact him online by going to connectnetwork.com, selecting “Add a facility”, choosing “State: Pennsylvania, Facility: Pennsylvania Department of Corrections”, going into the “messaging” service, and then adding him as a contact by searching his name or “NS2698”.
Birthday: February 6
Smart Communications / PA DOC
Deric Forney – NS2698
SCI Coal Township
PO Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL, 33733
Kamau Sadiki (Freddie Hilton)
Kamau Sadiki is a former member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army, who was convicted of a 30-year old murder case of a Fulton County Police Officer found shot to death in his car outside a service station. At his trial, the judge ruled that statements by a witness who heard other people discussing their participation in the shooting, and stated that he had nothing to do with it, could not be accepted as evidence. The state recently attempted to amputate his foot despite this not being medically necessary, but were forced to back off by outside solidarity.
Georgia uses Jpay, so you should be able to send him a message by going to jpay.com, clicking “inmate search”, then selecting “State: Georgia, Inmate ID: 0001150688”.
Birthday: February 19
Freddie Hilton #0001150688 (address card to Kamau, envelope to Freddie)
Augusta State Medical Prison
Bldg 13A-2 E7
3001 Gordon Highway
Grovetown, GA 30813
Luis Sierra (Abdul-Haqq El-Qadeer)
A former Vaughn 17 defendant. While the state has now dropped its attempts to criminalize Abdul in relation to the uprising, Vaughn defendants continue to face retaliation. Abdul is also a contributor to “Live from the Trenches,” the Vaughn 17 zine.
Delaware appears not to have an inmate email system.
Birthday: February 19
Luis Sierra #00455723
James T. Vaughn Correctional Center
1181 Paddock Rd
Smyrna, DE 19977
Red Fawn Fallis
Water protector convicted of a gun charge from the Standing Rock protests. The gun in question was supplied to her by an undercover government informant. Red Fawn has now been released to a halfway house, but continues to endure federal surveillance while on probation.
Birthday: February 25
PO Box 985
Ft. Yates, ND 58538
Byron Shane “Oso Blanco” Chubbuck
Also known as “Robin the Hood,” Oso Blanco is serving 80 years for bank robberies to raise funds for the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, along with additional charges for escape and resisting the FBI.
The Federal system uses Corrlinks, a system where a prisoner must send a request to connect to someone on the outside before they can exchange emails, so if you’re not already connected to Oso then you’re best off just sending him a card or a letter.
Birthday: February 26
Oso Blanco (Address envelope to Byron Chubbuck, address card to Oso Blanco)
Post Office Box 3900
Adelanto, California 92301
Ana Belen Montes
Ana Belen Montes was a Pentagon intelligence analyst who, opposed to the plans of aggression against Cuba being developed, felt morally obliged to alert the Cuban government of said plans. Her actions were uncovered and she was accused of high treason, a crime punishable by death. She was forced to negotiate with the prosecution and to plead guilty to espionage on behalf of Cuba. In 2002, she was sentenced to 25 years in prison, a sentence she has been serving under extreme and inhumane isolation. As part of her conditions of severe isolation, she is only allowed to receive letters from 20 specific people, but she can receive books sent directly from bookstores or publishers. She recently beat breast cancer while imprisoned.
Birthday: February 27
As above, please note that she can’t receive normal mail, just books from publishers or bookstores.
Ana Belen Montes #25037-016
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127
photo: Andrew “Donovan” Valdivia via Unsplash