Filed under: Featured, Incarceration, Political Prisoners, Prison Break
The rebellion that began in Minneapolis following the brutal police murder of George Floyd quickly spread across the country, and the world. Police stations burning, commercial zones being liberated, police budgets being defunded in multiple cities – it has been a busy month. An impressive list of solidarity actions can be found here. Police violence and arrests are increasing daily, as well. Four people have been arrested in New York City on federal charges, accused of throwing Molotov cocktails at police cars, two of whom are lawyers. A person has been arrested for allegedly setting five police cars ablaze in Seattle, another person was tracked down in Philadelphia, and two have been arrested for similar actions in Salt Lake City. The need for immediate jail support and long-term political prisoner support is growing.
COVID-19 related infections and deaths continue to rise in prisons, jails, and detention centers across the globe. Renowned jailhouse lawyer Benjamin Smalls recently died of the virus, and current political prisoners Sundiata Acoli, Jalil Muntaqim, Jeremy Hammond, and Marius Mason (who was recently denied compassionate release) are all recovering from the virus behind the walls.
Former long-time MOVE 9 political prisoner Delbert Africa, who was just released from prison in January after 42 years, died on June 15 at age 74. He died exactly two years to the day after Debbie Africa was released from prison, the first of the MOVE 9 to be freed. You can read the MOVE statement here. Delbert Africa Presente!
As you flip your Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendar to July we hope you appreciate the moving illustration by Molly Fair, created for the 2019 Black Mama’s Bail Out. The essay for the month, by Stevie Wilson, is entitled ‘How People on the Outside Can Support the Political Work of People on the Inside.’ If you haven’t picked up a calendar yet they are only $5 at Burning Books!
Here’s a rundown of what went down in June, and a look ahead at July.
Political Prisoner Birthdays in July
There is only one political prisoner birthday in July, so show your support by sending Gage a note/letter/card. The personal touch of a birthday card means so much to those inside, so write a letter, host a card writing party, and show your solidarity with those inside. Remember that prisoners at Federal prisons (USPs and FCIs) cannot receive cards, colored paper, or colored ink.
Gage Halupowski, #21894460
Snake River Correctional Institution
777 Stanton Blvd.
Ontario, OR 97914-8335
Ramsey Orta, CopWatch activist who filmed the police murder of Eric Garner in Long Island in 2014, was released at the end of May, after serving four years at various New York State prisons.
Renowned California prisoner and hunger strike leader Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa has been granted medical parole after 40 years of incarceration. It is unclear when or where Jamaa will be released.
Political prisoner Kamau Sadiki has been transferred to Augusta University Medical Center in Augusta, GA, due to an ongoing infection in his left foot and leg. More information is expected soon. When he is transferred from the medical center to the prison you can write to Kamau at:
Kamau Sadiki, #0001150688
Augusta State Medical Prison
3001 Gordon Highway
Grovetown, GA 30813
*Address envelope to Freddie Hilton
As mentioned above, several people have been arrested for alleged actions done during protests that erupted after George Floyd’s murder. Urooj Rahman and Colinford Mattis were released to home confinement yesterday, vacating an earlier stay. Samantha Shader (#83823-053) is currently being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn (MDC Brooklyn, Metropolitan Detention Center, P.O. Box 329002, Brooklyn, NY, 11232). Margaret Channon (#49955-086) has been arrested in Seattle and is being held in federal custody (FDC SeaTac, Federal Detention Center, P.O. Box 13900, Seattle, WA 98198). Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal (#70002-066) is being held in federal custody in Pennsylvania (FDC Philadelphia, Federal Detention Center, PO Box 562, Philadelphia, PA 19105). Two Louisiana Bucket Brigade activists have turned themselves, both facing felony charges for harassing a fossil fuel lobbyist. In DC, four people are being charged with destruction of federal property after toppling a statue of Andrew Jackson. This is by no means a definitive list. Follow us on social media for up-to-date bail funds and support networks as they arise.
While we are currently seeing an influx of political prisoners, we cannot forget those who already imprisoned and fighting charges, longtime prisoners fighting for freedom, and those recently released.
- Sundiata Acoli (fighting an appeal on a recent parole denial)
- Eric King (fighting additional charges carrying 20 more years)
- Chuck Africa (recently released)
- Janet and Janine Africa (recently released)
- Eddie Africa (recently released)
- Nina Droz Franco (recently released)
In Case You Missed It
- Longtime political prisoner and former Black Panther Party/Black Liberation Army militant, Jalil Muntaqim is recovering from COVID-19 and still fighting for his freedom. Both Victoria Law and Dan Berger have written recent articles highlighting how the refusal to release elderly prisoners during this pandemic is a brutal act of state violence.
- June 11th was International Day of Solidarity with Marius Mason and All Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners. You can listen to messages from Mason and hacktivist prisoner Jeremy Hammond at The Final Straw.
- Several members of the original Black Panther Party have published an open letter to Black (hip-hop) artists, hoping to “create a united Black Liberation Front to challenge our oppressive conditions.”
- Kent Ford, founder of the Portland, Oregon Black Panther Party chapter, sat down recently for an interview with The Nation, where he discussed current unrest and similarities to earlier struggles.
- Several former members of the Young Lords recently reflected on protests, racism, and police violence, as well as previous Young Lords strategies to combat these issues.
- There is a new, very cool Page One Collective zine, focusing on political prisoners from the Black Liberation Movement.
- Former Black Panther Party Aaron Dixon did a recent interview where he discussed his role in the Party, its lasting impact, and the ongoing struggle for Black liberation.
- Former political prisoners and Angola 3 members Albert Woodfox and Robert King did an interview in Ontario back in 2017. The interview is now up and can be viewed here.
- Former Black Panther Party members and family members discuss the similarities between the current protest movement and those of the past.
- If you have not yet checked out the Prosecution Project, which tracks and provides an analysis of felony criminal cases involving illegal political violence occurring in the U.S. since 1990, be sure to do so now.
- Abolition Journal just released a fairly comprehensive study group guide for people new to the idea of abolition. You can check that out here.
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Certain Days to Keep in Mind
July is full of prison strike anniversaries, ranging from hunger strikes at Pelican Bay and Soledad Prison in California to strikes at the federal prison in Terre Haute and the women’s prison at Bedford Hills. This month also marks the one-year anniversaries of the death of political prisoner Tom Manning and of antifascist Willem van Spronsen, who was killed by the State while attacking the ICE detention center in Tacoma. July 14 is the 50th anniversary of the Young Lords Party’s takeover of Lincoln Hospital (aka The Butcher Shop) in the South Bronx, when young Puerto Rican militants took over a city hospital in New York City and left behind a legacy of community health care.