Filed under: Featured, Incarceration, Political Prisoners, Prison Break
So much has happened in the last month. Kenosha, Wisconsin and Lafayette, New Orleans have joined the growing number of cities in ongoing protest against police violence and murder. Renowned anarchists and anti-Franco militants Stuart Christie and Lucio Urtubia have died. Police departments continue to be defunded, while right-wing violence escalates. Meanwhile, two white racists vie for power in the most corrupt and dangerous country on the planet.
COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in prisons and jails around the continent. The Marshall Project examines how ConAir spreads the virus throughout the Federal system. Essence has an ongoing series on how this pandemic is impacting those caught up in the prison industrial complex. While visiting areas are reopening in some facilities, those incarcerated remain fearful that the virus will spread.
As you flip your Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendar to September you’ll notice the vibrant art, courtesy of political prisoner Oso Blanco. The essay for the month, written by artist and activist Christi Belcourt, discusses the role of reconciliation in the ongoing struggle for Indigenous land rights in Canada. In case you missed it, artwork from previous years of the Certain Days calendar are featured in “The Art of Liberation – Black August 2020,” care of the Center for Constitutional Rights. If you haven’t picked up a calendar yet they still are only $5 at Burning Books!
Here’s a look at what went down in August, and a look ahead at September.
Political Prisoner Birthdays in September
There are only two political prisoner birthdays in September, so it’s easy enough to get two birthday letters to these encaged revolutionaries. 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 fighting for a better world. Remember that prisoners at Federal prisons (USPs and FCIs) cannot receive cards, colored paper, or colored ink.
Brian Vaillancourt, #M42889
Robinson Correctional Center
13423 East 1150th Ave.
Robinson, IL 62454
Leonard Peltier, #89637-132
USP Coleman I
PO Box 1033
Coleman, FL 33521
Running Down the Walls
It’s that time of year again, when we trade in our black bloc attire for running shoes and political support t-shirts. Running Down the Walls 2020 (RDTW) is scheduled for September 6th. As political prisoner Jaan Laaman stated, “In the midst of this deadly COVD pandemic and the even more deadly centuries-long racist pandemic, we need to come together across the country and on both sides of the walls, this year more than ever.”
With many of those incarcerated also on lockdown, and social distancing restrictions in place outside the walls, this year’s RDTW will need all the attention and publicity possible. This event is a major fundraiser for political prisoners, and they need our support now more than ever. If you can’t run, you can donate to the RDTW nearest you. Donate to RDTW in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, or New York, with more info on the Anarchist Black Cross Federation here.
Paroles & Commutations
- On August 4, Jalil Muntaqim, who is recovering from COVID-19 during his 49th year of incarceration, had oral arguments in his Article 78 appeal of his 2019 parole hearing. A de novo parole hearing is scheduled for September. You can sign a petition demanding Jalil’s release here.
- On August 17, Black Liberation political prisoner Ed Poindexter filed an application for commutation. Poindexter has been imprisoned for 50 years as of August 31, 2020. If you can, write a letter and support freedom for Ed Poindexter now!
As we have seen in the last few months, since the police murder of George Floyd, more and more people are engaging in direct action against the state. Seven protesters in Utah who are accused of splashing red paint on a prosecutor’s office are facing life sentences because of trumped up “gang enhancements.” A protester in Saint Paul, Minnesota is facing felony charges for supposedly toppling that city’s Christopher Columbus statue back in June. Authorities in Portsmouth, Virginia have issued warrants for 14 people who were present when a confederate statue was destroyed in that town.
Support sites are still active for Urooj Rahman and Colinford Mattis in New York, and Margaret Channon in Seattle, all of whom are facing severe charges. Sadly, Lore Elisabeth Blumenthal was recently denied an emergency appeal for release on house arrest. She remains in custody, facing arson charges from protests in May.
While we are currently seeing an influx of political prisoners, we cannot forget those currently incarcerated 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)
In Case You Missed It
- Don’t miss this new article on how the Black Panther Party’s multiracial anti-fascism is relevant to today’s movements for liberation.
- Yara Shahidi recently interviewed Angela Davis about the ongoing struggles to abolish white supremacy and create a better world.
- Mike Africa, Jr., son of former MOVE 9 political prisoners Mike and Debbie Africa, recently published an article questioning the value of recent apologies surrounding the historically tragic treatment of the MOVE Organization by the state.
- Anarchist political prisoner Eric King had his poem “Am I Allowed to Breathe?” and other writings recently published online.
- Indigenous political prisoner Rattler is interviewed in a new In These Times article about the ongoing struggle to remove and prevent pipelines across Indigenous lands.
- William C. Anderson has released a moving piece on Martin Sostre, the famed prison rebel, jailhouse lawyer, and prisoners’ rights advocate.
- Connor Stevens, recently released Cleveland 4 political prisoner, has a new website of his collected writings, much of which were written while imprisoned.
- Don’t miss this gripping new account of the women of the Brown Berets and the contributions they made to liberation movements around the globe.
- Former Federal Judge Kevin Sharp discusses the case of longtime political prisoner Leonard Peltier in a recent podcast. In a separate article, citing health problems, Peltier has removed his name as VP for the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Peltier is also the focus of a new podcast, Leonard: Political Prisoner, available here.
- Late last month Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale sat down for an interview, where he discussed the Panther legacy and ongoing police violence.
- James McIntosh released a compassionate plea for the release of all elderly Black political prisoners due to COVID-19 concerns, specifically Jalil Al Amin, Mutulu Shakur, and Jalil Muntaqim.
- Don’t miss this piece on the Abolition Movement in the latest edition of Vanity Fair (of all places!)
- Shane Burley recently published a timely and important article, “How to Survive Anti-Police Protests.”
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Certain Days to Keep in Mind
September provides a good example of the radical dates you can find within your Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendar. From the anniversaries of the Attica Prison Rebellion and the second Palestinian Intifada, to El Grito de Lares and the massacres at the Sabra & Shatila refugee camps, there is so much to be learned from the struggles that preceded us. Also memorialized are the captures of former Black Liberation fighters Herman Bell and Veronza Bowers, and the assassinations of Steve Biko, Filiberto Ojeda Rios, and Crazy Horse.