Filed under: Editorials, Featured, Incarceration, Political Prisoners, Prison Break
It’s now the year 2020 and we’ve still got an abundance of prisons and a stubborn willingness to fill them. There is, however, a steady resistance and a growing awareness of the need to fight back against forces of oppression and imperialism. If you need to be reminded of that, you probably have not yet gotten your 2020 edition of the Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendar, (or maybe you just haven’t hung it up yet).
The January artwork, which is also featured on the cover of the calendar, is by artist, educator and DJ Mary Tremonte. The essay for the month is written by author, organizer, and care worker Cindy Milstein. As a collective, we thought both pieces strongly illustrated the theme for the 2020 calendar, ‘Knitting Together the Struggles.’
On December 21, former political prisoner and founding member of the calendar project Robert Seth Hayes passed away. Seth worked with both the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army, and served 45 years in prison before his release in 2018. The callous and neglectful medical treatment he received while in prison, particularly at the hands of the NYSDOCCS, played a role in shortening Seth’s life, though he remained devoted to the freedom struggle until the very end. Seth Hayes Presente!
Here is a look back at December and a look ahead at the new year.
Political Prisoner Birthdays in January
There are five political prisoner birthdays in January, and the new year is a good time to host a card writing party and to show your solidarity with those inside. Remember that prisoners at Federal prisons (USPs and FCIs) cannot receive cards, colored paper, or colored ink.
Jeremy Hammond, #A0182888
William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center
2001 Mill Rd
Alexandria, VA 22314
Warren Ballantine, #16-047
Citrus County Detention Facility
2604 West Woodland Ridge Dr
Lecanto, FL 34461
*Address card to Abdul Aziz
— Ⓐ #GrumpyCuntSec Ⓐ (@brazenqueer) January 1, 2020
Clark Squire, #39794-066
PO Box 1000
Cumberland, MD 21501
*Address card to Sundiata Acoli
Joseph Bowen, #AM4272
Smart Communications/PA DOC
PO Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733
*Address card to Joe-Joe Bowen
Marie Mason, #04672-061
Danbury, CT 06811
*Address card to Marius Mason
Late last year, Puerto Rican political prisoner Nina Droz Franco was released from prison after serving 37 months for her participation anti-austerity protests in 2017. There is an ongoing fundraiser for any who are able to assist.
Longtime political prisoner Sundiata Acoli, 82, had his recent parole denial upheld by a three-judge appellate panel. Imprisoned since 1794, Acoli has consistently been denied parole since 1994.
Both Chuck and Delbert Africa, the last remaining imprisoned members of the MOVE 9, recently went before the parole board. Stay tuned here for updates on the ongoing struggles for their release.
Longtime political prisoner Dr. Mutulu Shakur released a medical and legal update last month. After years of medical neglect and excruciating pain, Dr. Shakur, at 69 years of age, was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. This comes after a stroke in 2014, which was exacerbated by 33 years of imprisonment. After filing for compassionate release, on December 5 the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) denied Shakur’s petition.
Black Liberation Army political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz, imprisoned since 1972, was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer last summer. In November of last year he released the following statement:
“I underwent three chemo sessions and will have a fourth tomorrow, on November 12th. I’m prescribed three-day sessions every three weeks, for six months, which is to be followed by a test at an outside hospital to judge the results of the treatment. The side effects leave me “beat up” for two weeks every month.
This is the place Pennsylvania state prisoners are concentrated to receive chemotherapy. Can you believe the prison has been cited for its extreme toxicity, due to being built over or next to mounds of coal waste?!
Lawyers of the Abolitionist Law Center (ALC) exposed it in a powerful piece, and I’m fortunate to have the ALC assisting us in our multi-pronged healthcare struggle. As of a few days ago, MOVE political prisoner Chucky Africa was transferred here and placed two doors from me. He also is battling very serious health issues!”
As of this writing, whistleblower Chelsea Manning and hacktivist Jeremy Hammond remain imprisoned in northern Virginia for refusing to participate in a Federal Grand Jury inquisition into Wikileaks. A noise demo at the detention center where they are locked-up was organized on New Years Eve, in solidarity with their non-participation.
Accused ELF saboteur Joseph Dibee was released on pre-trial release on December 13 but was taken back into custody on December 18 when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the Judge’s order releasing Dibee. He awaits trial at the local Portland jail below.
Joseph Dibee, #812133
11540 NE Inverness Drive
Portland, OR 97220
If you’ve got some holiday money burning a hole in your pocket, consider donating to recently-released political prisoners. Making that transition from prison to the outside can be a very trying and at times difficult switch. Any and all support that we can provide goes a long way towards showing solidarity with those who gave up so much fighting for our freedoms. Here’s a list of places to donate that directly support recently released political prisoners as well as those still inside.
Mutulu Shakur, #83205-012
PO Box 14500
Lexington, KY 40512
Casey Brezik, #1154765
Western Missouri Correctional Center
609 East Pence Rd
Cameron, MO 64429
Ronald Reed, #219531
Minnesota Correctional Facility-Lino Lakes
7525 Fourth Ave
Lino Lakes, MN 55014
In Case You Missed It
An important article was recently published about our inside collective member, longtime political prisoner David Gilbert. Written by a group of law professors, they highlight the egregious felony murder law that has kept Gilbert imprisoned for 38 years with no hope of parole.
Longtime political prisoner and former member of the Black Panther Party, Veronza Bowers recently published an article about a unique journey he has undergone during the 46 years that he has been imprisoned. To learn more about Veronza and to write him a letter, visit his website.
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Certain Days to Keep in Mind
We start the year off with many memorable dates from movement history. January 17 marks the 51st anniversary of the murder of Los Angeles Black Panther Party leaders Bunchy Carter and John Huggins, and January 23 marks the 13th year since the San Francisco 8 were arrested on charges of almost four decades earlier. This year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day falls on January 20th, which is also the anniversary of the arrest of the Squamish 5 in British Columbia in 1983, the release of anti-imperialists Susan Rosenberg and Linda Evans from prison in 2001, and the arrest of the J20 defendants in 2017. Also, January 30th marks the 52nd anniversary of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam as well as the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland. These any many more radical dates and movement anniversaries can be found in the Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendar.
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