Filed under: Featured, Prison Break
With The Marshall Project reporting that 1 in 5 prisoners in the U.S. have had COVID-19, we are beginning the new year with an intense struggle ahead. In the last few weeks it was announced that political prisoners Russell Maroon Shoatz, Mutulu Shakur, Eric King, Rattler, Jaan Laaman, and Joe Dibee have tested positive for COVID-19. Since April, other political prisoners including Marius Mason, Sundiata Acoli, Reality Winner, Jeremy Hammond, and Jalil Muntaqim have also contracted the virus. Elder political prisoners Imam Jamil Al-Amin, Ed Poindexter, David Gilbert, Chip Fitzgerald, Leonard Peltier and numerous others face acute risks due to their continued confinement.
Looking back at 2020, we welcomed home several political prisoners, including Chuck and Delbert Africa (the last of the MOVE 9 still imprisoned), Ramsey Orta, Chelsea Manning, Red Fawn Fallis, David Campbell, Jay Chase, Jeremy Hammond, and Jalil Muntaqim. We mourn the passing of Delbert Africa in June, though we are glad he was able to do so from outside the prison walls. Since the police killing of George Floyd in May, we have witnessed a rise in people willing to directly confront the system, many of whom are currently facing lengthy prison sentences if convicted. Providing support and solidarity to these groups and individuals will be paramount in the year ahead.
via Charm City ABC
The new 2021 Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendar is selling out quickly. Both the artwork and the essay for the month are by political prisoner and Certain Days collective member Xinachtli. All funds go to prison abolitionist organizations and political prisoners in need. You can also use the calendar to raise funds for your own organization or group.
Political Prisoner Birthdays
With four political prisoner birthdays in January, the new year is a great time to throw an online prisoner letter-writing party! The personal touch of a birthday card means so much to those inside, so write a letter, have people sign a card, and show your solidarity with those locked behind bars. Remember that prisoners at Federal prisons (USPs and FCIs) cannot receive cards, colored paper, or colored ink.
Warren Ballantine, #19-1878
Citrus County Detention Facility
2604 W. Woodland Ridge Dr.
Lecanto, FL 34461
*Address card/letter to Abdul Aziz
Clark Squire*, #39794-066
PO Box 1000
Cumberland, MD 21501
*Address letter to Sundiata Acoli
Joseph Bowen*, #AM4272
Smart Communications / PA DOC
PO Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733
*Address card/letter to Joe-Joe
Marius Mason, #04672-061
Danbury, CT 06811
On December 22, Abdulrahman Odeh was released from prison after 15 years, as one of five Palestinians imprisoned in the U.S. as the Holy Land Foundation 5 (HLF5). Of the HLF5, Odeh received the shortest sentence, with the remaining defendants still fighting for their freedom.
Ongoing Cases and Appeals
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has dismissed a petition to remove the DA’s Office from handling the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. What this means for Mumia’s case is yet unknown.
The New Year is upon us. Don't miss out. There are so many great places to get our 2021 Certain Days calendars!
Our friends at @BurningBooks sells copies and has bulk rates! https://t.co/pzK1EytvlH pic.twitter.com/0DaadQ7fvV
— Certain Days (@CertainDays) December 29, 2020
In early December the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against compassionate release for NSA whistleblower Reality Winner. Winner tested positive for COVID-19 in July and has several health issues that are not being addressed. She is eligible for release in November 2021 and is still fighting for clemency.
In December, Rebekah Jones, a former Department of Health data scientist, had her home raided by police in an ongoing whistleblower investigation of COVID-related data. In late December, 22 people were arrested in Minnesota as they protested the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in solidarity with Indigenous struggles. In St. Paul, Mike Forcia, charged with destruction of a Christopher Columbus statue in the capitol in June, received no conviction in a unique example of restorative justice.
The Kings Bay Plowshares 7—aging Catholic peace activists who symbolically sabotaged nuclear weapons on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.—are reporting to prison as concerns continue to rise about COVID-19 for those incarcerated. Defendants Carmen Trotta, of the St. Joseph House Catholic Worker in NYC, and Martha Hennessy (Dorothy Day’s granddaughter) reported to prison in mid-December. Clare Grady and Patrick O’Neill report to prison in the coming weeks, while Mark Colville’s sentencing has been delayed until February. Fr. Steve Kelly is already in prison and being transferred, while Elizabeth McAlister (widow of Plowshares co-founder Philip Berrigan) was released after time served. You can read more here, here, and here, with addresses below.
Carmen Trotta, #22561-021
FCI Otisville Satellite Camp
PO Box 1000
Otisville, NY 10963
Martha Hennessy, #22560-021
Danbury, CT 06811
* If you correspond with Doug Wright, note that he has been moved.
Doug Wright, #57973-060
USP Florence – High
PO Box 7000
Florence, CO 81226
In Case You Missed It
- Members of the Certain Days collective have done several recent interviews/podcasts (here, here, and here) to promo the new 2021 calendar. Listen now and grab a calendar while they’re still available!
- Starting later this month, former political prisoner and Jericho Movement founder Jalil Muntaqim will be hosting the We Are Our Own Liberators webinar, a six-part series.
- Eddie Benton-Banai, co-founder of the American Indian Movement and former political prisoner, died late last year.
- Karen Smith, abolitionist and longtime organizer, also passed away in a fatal car accident at the end of last year.
- Ruchell Cinque Magee, one of America’s longest held political prisoners, recently released a message speaking of his continued confinement.
- The Xinachtli Defense Committee and the Central Texas ABC Collective have produced a Tribute to Ricardo Flores Magon, Mexican revolutionary and former political prisoner.
- “40 Years a Prisoner” is a new documentary exploring the MOVE 9, political prisoners connected to Philadelphia’s back-to-nature organization, which has faced police brutality and state repression since its inception.
- Victoria Law has written a new piece exploring how the prison system is ill-suited for the health care needs of a quickly aging populace.
- Check out ProPublica’s recent piece on the current rush of Federal executions, an unprecedented and horrifying move by a departing Trump Justice Department.
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Certain Days to Keep in Mind
As you’ll notice in your brand new 2021 Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendar, January is full of radical and commemorative dates. From Shays’ Rebellion to the Zapatista uprising, Bloody Sunday to Trans Prisoner Day of Justice you’ll be reminded daily of historical and ongoing struggles for justice. Get one now and you won’t be disappointed!
On this day in 1994, the Zapatistas (EZLN) began a 12-day uprising in Chiapas, Mexico in protest of the enactment of the NAFTA. Their commitment and tactics continue to inspire. Radical dates like these can be found in our Certain Days calendar.https://t.co/0XdhGRqyPx pic.twitter.com/WMD6yOpsjj
— Certain Days (@CertainDays) January 2, 2021