In this minisode special, Bursts spoke with an anarchist comrade in Rome about the hunger strike initiated on May 29th by Anna and Silvia, two anarchists rounded up in police actions (Anna in Operazione Scripta Manent and Silvia in Operazione Scintilla) and still facing trial for accusations of participating in direct action against the state and its borders. The hunger strike is against the solitary nature of their incarceration and it’s impacts on other prisoners.
Silvia Ruggeri and Anna Beniamino are being held in a prison condition called AS2 (High Security 2) at L’Alquila prison in the center Italy, the only two women in this section of the prison. Here is a link to a translated letter from them. As if the high security level weren’t harsh enough, the AS2 in L’Alquila in reality matches the application of what’s known as 41bis, invented by the Italian state during the Years of Lead (Italian civil war during the mid 70’s) and housing mostly accused political radicals, mafia foot-soldiers and jihadists.
41bis was implemented as an emergency measure and kept on the books, the kind of State of Emergency that Agamben writes about, staying on as a torture regime that now houses nearly 750 prisoners, tightens every year. 41bis has provoked protest from human rights groups, the European Court of Human Rights, the California legal system (which refused to extradite the mafioso Rosario Gambino to Italy for fear of subjecting him to torture under 41bis) and soliciting protest and solidarity on the outside. The twitter account of the @YPJInternational put out a statement of solidarity with Silvia and Anna and protests have occurred around Italy and in other countries, and comrades in Italy hope to hear about more solidarity.
This week we had the chance to interview Matt Meyer, who, among many other pursuits, is a retired professor and an editor of A Soldier’s Story: Revolutionary Writings by a New Afrikan Anarchist, out from PM Press, which highlights the life and writings of Kwasi Balagoon. Balagoon was a defendant in the Panther 21 case in the late 1960s, in which 21 people were arrested and accused of planned coordinated bombing and long-range rifle attacks on two police stations and an education office in New York City. He was ultimately acquitted of this, but was caught up on charges related to a robbery some time later and passed in prison in 1986.
Sean Swain on food in prison 2:48
Matt Meyer on Kuwasi Balagoon 11:44
Support Matt Hinkston announcement 1:06:08
In this interview, Bursts and Matt discuss Balagoon’s life and writings and why this book is especially relevant right now. They’ll talk about his abiding love for his comrades, a things which seems to have driven much of his politics, and his queerness, an aspect of his life which seemed very important and also complex. Stay tuned to the end of the conversation for questions submitted to The Final Straw by imprisoned anarchist Michael Kimble, who has been a guest on this show and is an admirer of Kuwasi. To see more of Michael’s work and to write to him, you can visit anarchylive.noblogs.org
. … . ..
Support Matt Hinkston!
Police violence in Lucasville-Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. Call Monday in support of Matt Hinkston (A724969). Matt is the brother of Mustafa, who Bursts interviewed a few weeks back.
Matt Hinkston (A724969) is being retaliated against for filing a PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) grievance against a correctional officer and for having gone on hunger strikes in protest of human rights violations against himself and others in the past. One of the main officers who has been mistreating him is named Officer Lawless. They’ve put him in solitary confinement without a disciplinary ticket and restricted his access to communication. Although correctional officers claim that Matt has been put in solitary confinement for his protection, they’re also denying him access to his property and to technology for communicating with the outside world.
Incarcerated people’s lives and human rights matter. Nobody should be sent to solitary for filing a PREA report against a guard. Let’s call Lucasville this weekend and Monday at 740-259-5544 to:
-ask for a wellness check on Matthew Hinkston, A#724969
-tell officials in the Warden’s area and on Matt’s block that we support Matt’s demands and oppose continued retaliation against him for filing a PREA grievance.
Support Matt in this continued struggle against police violence, racism, and rape culture!
. … . ..
Finally, thank you to everyone who replied in response to our 9th anniversary podcast special in which me and Bursts interviewed each other about why we do what we do, some personal backstory for each of us, and opinions on media in general. We also used the opportunity to solicit listeners for another co host, to share the work load and extend the option in case there was anyone out there who was interested.
We got way more responses than we ever thought we would, and are working through to answer them in as complete and responsible a way as possible. If your interest is piqued and you wanna hear this episode, it’s up on our website along with all our other archived material.
. … . ..
Music at the beginning of the show was an instrumental version of Hip Hop by Dead Prez off of Let’s Get Free.
So for this episode, we tried something new. This show is in its 9th year of production, and we realized that we as hosts very rarely have interacted on the show. While this is a project that is one we do for reasons other than boosting our own personalities, we talked about it and felt it was time for us to interview each other and give some personal context for why we do what we do.
To that end, we are actively searching for another co-host! This would obvi be an unpaid position until we all get our $oros$ checks, but the responsibilities would be gently scaled up to. If you like what you hear here, and have always wanted to do something like this, or have done something like this in the past a wanna jump back in, holler at us!
This week we share an interview I conducted a few months back with two folks, Inman and Bleep, about community armed self defense. They talk about their experiences of handling firearms, lessons learned from their visibly armed presence at the Charlottesville Unite The Right protest in 2017, wider ideas of community self-defense beyond open carrying firearms (like engaging in like unarmed self-defense, infrastructure for food and health autonomy). The guests also talk about skills expanded and muscles flexed in Appalachian and southern participation in autonomous disaster relief in the last few years, some resources and ideas to keep in mind or steal if your group is thinking about training in firearms or medic’ing and more.
There’s a lot cut from the radio version, so if you’re listening live, we suggest you check out the online edition up at thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org where you can stream any of our shows or subscribe to our podcast.
Blue Ridge ABC events upcoming
If you’re in Asheville on Sunday, June 2nd, you can join Blue Ridge ABC for their monthly political prisoner letter writing night from 5-7pm at Firestorm Books. No experience is requred. And on Friday, June 7th from 6:30 to 8:30 instead of Trouble, BRABC will be showing the documentary “The Bail Trap” and having a discussion about it afterwards.
This week, we hear the voices of three prisoners: anarchist prisoner Michael Kimble and jailhouse lawyer Arthur “Akbar” Griggs at Holman CI in Atmore, Alabama, and Mark “Mustafa” Hinkston at Toledo CI in Ohio.
In the first portion of this episode William and Bursts spoke with black, gay, anarchist prisoner, Michael Kimble, being held at Holman Prison in Alabama serving a life sentence for the murder of a white, homophobic, racist bigot. This audio is from a longer conversation we had in the context of an upcoming episode about Fire Ant zine featuring the voices of prisoners and outside folks involved in its production. Keep an ear out for that. Meanwhile, Michael talks about the gang breakdown of the prison he’s at, the queer & mostly white prisoners he’s around now, pushes to reform the prison system in Alabama. Here are a few links referencing what we talked about: William’s 2015interview with Michael Kimble; Swift Justice on Kinetic Justice and AL prison expansion; Thurgood Marshall was an FBI informant on Robert F Williams during the Civil Rights struggle. Michael can be contacted by writing:
3700 Holman Unit
Atmore, AL 36503
Arthur “Akbar” Griggs
Michael then passed the phone to Arthur Griggs, known by folks inside as Akbar. Akbar is a jailhouse lawyer who talks a bit about his work, pushing back against administration, his involvement in the Free Alabama Movement and a request of listeners outside of the prison walls. Akbar can be written at:
3700 Holman Unit
Atmore, AL 36503
Mark “Mustafa” Hinkston
Finally, we hear from Mark “Mustafa” Hinkston. Mark is a member of Central Ohio IWOC (fedbook & twitter) who was just transferred to Toledo CI in Toledo, OH. He had just come off of a hunger strike to challenge his mistreatment by guards and administration of mentally ill prisoners at Youngstown (SOCF) in long term isolation. He himself came out of almost 3 years of isolation at Youngstown, despite having no violent incidents in almost 3 years. In the latter half of the show, Mustafa talks about his experience in the hole and the advocacy he does for other prisoners and his ideas about prison abolition. Mustafa can be reached via his JPay at by looking him up by his name and number (#A707808) at jpay.com to those people who have JPay accounts. He can also be written letters at:
Toledo Correctional Institution
2001 East Central Avenue
Toledo, OH 43608
Sean Swain Transferred (again!)
Guess who just got transferred again!!! You can write to Sean Swain at his latest address as of mid-May 2019 at:
Sean Swain #2015638
1349 Correctional Center Road
Dillwyn, VA 23936
Keep an ear out for an upcoming podcast episode of TFSR with the co-hosts, William and I, talk about the project, about our politicization and get personal. This’ll be dropping quite soon.
If you are in the southeast of the so-called-U.S. for the weekend of May 31-June 2nd, consider dropping by the North American Anarchist Studies Network Conference at 1083 Austin Ave NE, Atlanta, GA in the Little Five Points neighborhood. The theme for this year is Emergent Horizons and more info, including abstracts of presenters and the schedule is updated at https://wiki.naasn.org/NAASN_2019_(en) Stop by and visit the Final Straw table if you are around!
Sean Swain on Jpay and New Documentary About Band Negro Terror
This week, we feature an interview with Sean Swain about the JPay system being incorporated into the North Carolina prison system based on his experiences in Ohio, increased tension leading to a riot in mid-April at Piedmont facility and the employment of former Ohio Prison Director Gary Mohr as a consultant to the NC system. Then, documentarian John Rash shares about his latest documentary about an all-black, anti-racist oi punk band from Memphis, TN. This band is called “Negro Terror” and the movie is touring the southeastern U.S. More on that in a moment.
Sean Swain on JPay
starts at 6:54
In the first portion of this episode, you’ll be hearing from anarchist prisoner Sean Swain, but in a slightly different manner, where Bursts gets to ask a few clarifying question in the time we had available. First off, sorry about the call quality, we’re still working out our recording ability for VA. When we first started talking to Sean all those years back (November 2013 if you want to hear it) it was because of his resistance to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s privatization of services through the company Jpay, about which this cantankerous jailhouse lawyer wrote an article about the f’d up relationship between private service providers and prison-crats. Now, North Carolina DPS is employing Gary C. Mohr, former ODRC head, as a consultant and since the move the NCDPS has instituted a more intense privatization and limitation of prisoners ability to receive money on their commissary via the 3rd party corporation Jpay. In response to the restrictions of materials people need in their day to day and the support they can receive from the outside (such as limitations to who can donate to a prisoner and what info they have to give up to Jpay to send material support) has created a powder keg of austerity and tension in the NC system leading to a riot at Piedmont Correctional in mid April. Sean sees reflection of the impacts that Mohr and JPay had in Ohio and what appears to be happening with the same techno-logic in NC. A recent protest took place in the neighborhood of NC Prison Director Kenneth Lassiter and keep an eye out for more, deepening protest and organizing around this issue in NC.
Of note, the latest episode of Trouble from sub.Media, features Sean talking about mass incarceration and capitalism in the U.S., echoing some of what he says in this week’s episode of our show. Jackie Wang, author of Carceral Capitalism (a really great Materialist approach to looking at racialized mass incarceration in the U.S.), along with Sean, “C” from Hamilton, Sylvie and El Jones talk about the prison industrial complexes in the so-called U.S. & Canada. Really worth a watch.
Documentarian John Rash
starts at 22:04
In the interests of a headsup, the next segment includes a couple of white folks using an out of date term that could be considered racist. The word is in the title of a documentary film about a band by the same name, and the name is said in the spirit of helping folks more easily access the material. The band has an all Black lineup and is called Negro Terror. John Rash is a documentarian with the Southern DocumentaryProject who for most of the hour shares about his recent film, entitled “Negro Terror”. The film follows the punk oi band from Memphis by the same name and it’s three members, Ricardo Fields, Omar Higgins and Ra’id Kursheed as they play around Memphis, supporting various music scenes, speaking about their project and communities. Omar, the lead singer and bassist, came up as a SHARP (Skinhead Against Racial Prejudice) between Brooklyn, NY, and Memphis, TN, and brings the skinhead approach to the music. Omar Higgins died, tragically, at the age of 38 a few weeks ago and his funeral makes it into the film. John Rash, along with Ricardo (or Rico) and Ra’id Kursheed, the remaining bandmates, are now touring with this innovative film and engaging audiences in q&a sessions. After this broadcast, you can still catch the presentation in Durham at North Star Church of the Arts on Sunday, May 12th and at Fleetwoods in Asheville on Monday, May 13th (which is tomorrow as of the first broadcast of this show) for two showings, 6:30 and 8:00pm followed by that aforementioned q&a with Rico, Ra’id and John.
Proceeds from the merch sales on this short tour and from the entrance to showings is contributing to covering Omar’s medical and funeral funds that currently are hanging over the family. Donations can be made at supportomar.com.
While this tour is short running, John hopes to show it at various film festivals, so if you’re putting on such a thing or have such influence, consider contacting John and Southern Documentary Project to make that happen. If you can’t see it on this tour, at some point it’ll be available in full for free at southdocs.org. Once they release their final album, Paranoia, there’s a chance the film will be available for free on the CD alongside the audio, so keep an eye out.
. … . ..
Music in order of appearance:
Ras Michael & the Sons of Negus with Jazzboe Abubaka
Antifa + Anarchy Down Under: Andy Fleming of SlackBastard
This week, we’re sharing a recent conversation with Andy Fleming. Andy is an anarchist and anti-racist organizer based out of Melbourne, Australia. For the episode, Andy tells us about his research into far right organizing in Australia and, to a lesser degree, Aotearoa (aka New Zealand), who key players are, what tendencies are present and their influence in popular and political culture. We also speak about the resistance to the far right, Australia’s immigration policies, Settler-Colonial status, cultural context for far right organizing in Australia and a bit about government counterinsurgency-style repression of radical left, ecological and indigenous movements in Australasia.
[Sean Swain starts at 3min 17sec, Andy Fleming at 10min 07sec + Announcements at 1hr 34min 21sec]
We apologize for the audio quality on this chat, we had connection issues consistently and upping the quality of the sound is a thing we’re striving for. If you are listening to the radio edition of this episode, you should REALLY check out the podcast version for extra chat and some musical suggestions from Andy.
Archives of Andy’s writings can be found dating back over 15 years at SlackBastard.AnarchoBase.com, and his commentaries on the far left and the far right in Australia are well worth reading. Andy also contributes to the SUWA radio show on 3CR on the 4th Fridays (good luck finding archives of the emission, you may just have to listen within a week of the broadcast). You ca also find Andy on twitter and fedbook and he just started up a patreon where you can support his research and commentary. Here’s a link to the Oxford University Press book containing his essay “The Far Right in Australia”. A question I’d meant to ask but because of time differences and it being 1am my time by the time we stopped talking I forgot to ask was about his ideas on Antifa as an anarchist and the need to go beyond Antifascist organizing, the internal limitations of a lack of a positive program. Turns out Andy wrote about this topic in an article called “Antifa is liberalism, feminism is cancer, and I’m a monkey’s uncle.”
BRABC Letter Writing
If you’re in Asheville, Blue Ridge Anarchist Black Cross and Companeros Inmigrantes en las Montanas en Accion (or CIMA) invite you to join us for letter writing at 5pm, Sunday May 5, Cinco de Mayo. We’ll be writing letters to support the parole campaign for Jalil Muntaqim and to Joseph “Shine White” Stewart who’se faced repression for speaking out. CIMA will also about HB370, a North Carolina law heading across the desk of Gov. Cooper for a final approval or veto that would re-deputize local law enforcement as ICE or immigration agents. CIMA’s going to help us write letters to express our opposition to cops acting as Migra in the racist internatlization of the border that is ripping apart our families and communities in this state and across the country. This is 5-7pm today!
Misremembering the Shoah
The band psych-rock band Trupa Trupa from Gdansk, Poland, helped the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation produce an hour long audio documentary about the un-remembering of the first Nazi death camp of the Shoah (or Holocaust), called Stutthoff. This work is worth a listen and contemplation as lead singer Grzegorz Kwiatkowski as lead singer of the band points out many places face a mis-remembering of inconvenient history and a rise of right populism that seeks to white wash what came before. There is a link in our show notes to the CBC piece entitled “The Invisible Shoes of Stutthof Concentration Camp”. Never Forget.
Humor, Shaming and Yelling At Racist Dogs w Tom Tanuki
On the show this week, Bursts spoke with Tom Tanuki, front man of the group Yelling At Racist Dogs (Y.A.R.D.), a performance anti-fascist group that directs insulting yells at far-right, xenophobic events and speakers. For the hour we talk some about Tom’s background, the landscape of far-right politics in Australia and the place of humor and public shaming in confronting racist public figures in the work that Tom and his comrades do. You can follow Tom on twitter at the handle @tom_tanuki, on instagram at the same handle minus the underscore (@tomtanuki), and on fedbook by finding Yelling At Racist Dogs. And you can find the shirts Tom talks about at their bigcartel page.
[Sean Swain at 2min 53sec, Tom Tanuki at 11min 23sec]
We stole this picture from Subversion1312’s interview with Tom. A couple of the resources that Tom references at the end of the interview are Blackfulla Revolution and Black Feminist Ranter by Celeste Liddle, both pages on fedbook, and the book on Australian history he suggests is called Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe. Stay tuned for an upcoming episode where we share my interview with Andy Fleming, the maniac behind SlackBastard, an exhaustive commentary on the far right in Australia (as well as the tankie left and Andy’s thoughts about anarchism, antifa and more) up at slackbastard.anarchobase.com.
May Day in Asheville
If you’re in Asheville this May 1st, Wednesday, there’re a few events we’re happy to share. At 10 am there’s a rad families meetup at Vermont Ave playground at the West Asheville Park. Buncombe County schools are closed due to call ins by teachers as a part of the organizing wave known as Red4Ed and there’ll be a large march and rally in Raleigh, the state capital. For those unable to make it, there’s an 11am rally by teachers at the Vance monument downtown. Festivities begin at 3pm at the park on Vermont Ave with a roving bike ride, with some bikes provided. This’ll be followed at 4:30pm by a game of kickball and at 6pm, a short parade will commence from 644 Haywood Rd complete with a marching band. At 7:30 there’ll be a potluck with free vegan and gluten-free options and, finally, a public showing of the working class-ic, “9-5”, featuring Dolly Parton. More info by visiting https://tfsr.wtf/avlmayday
****This show carries a heavy content warning for institutionalized violence against incarcerated people, suicide, and issues related to mental wellness//unwellness.******
This week I’m sharing a conversation with David Easley, an imprisoned member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, or IWOC, currently held at Toledo Correctional in Ohio. In response to his organizing around the Nationwide Prison Strike in 2018, he and a few other prisoners were thrown into segregation, have had their mail tampered with and stolen. David has also been transferred between numerous facilities around the state as punishment, losing personal items and his ability to communicate with the outside along the way. We were also joined by Jasper, a supporter of David’s and a participant in the Free Ohio Movement. For the hour, David and Jasper talk about the prison system, the challenges they’ve faced opposing it and ways that folks can get involved.
You can write to David at the following address:
Toledo Correctional Institution
2001 East Central Avenue
Toledo, OH 43608
David mentions a few other prisoners who have struggled and faced repression for facing down injustice in the Ohio prison system. Keith Lamar, aka Bomani Shakur, is a death row prisoner and author of Condemned. He needs public support to fight his wrongful conviction in relation to the 1993 Lucasville Prison Uprising and to hold the State of Ohio accountable. More on his case can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pg/keithlamarcondemned. Check out our interview with Bomani about his book Condemned at our website. Bomani is set to be executed by the state of Ohio on Nov. 16, 2023.
Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan is another Ohio prisoner facing the death penalty for helping resolve the 1993 Lucasville Uprising. You can hear our interviews with and about Hasan up at our website. Updates on Hasan can be found at LucasvilleAmnesty.org and more about the Free Ohio Movement is up at their website, FreeOhioMovement.org and also their fedbook under the username @FreeOhioMovement.
Matt Hinkston (A724969) is another prisoner that was on hunger strike with David Easley. Kristopher Chilton (A558673) is the an IWOC member that David mentions who’s working on challenging adult sentencing of minors in OH. Kristopher and Matt are both at Toledo CI, same as David, so can be written there.
Central Ohio IWOC has been very helpful in supporting David and other prisoners through this. IWOC is a union of Incarcerated Workers and outside supporters, and their fedbook can be found under the username @OfficialCentralOhioIWOC. Their main site for IWOC is incarceratedworkers.org, where you can find tons of resources and updates on calling campaigns and ways to get involved.
We found out a few days ago that Sean has been interstate transferred from Ohio to Virginia. While it’s nice that he’s closer to the radio show, it’s bound to be a very tumultuous move for Sean. VA has a different legal system in it’s prisons, Sean likely has none of the friends from his last 27 years inside the Ohio system present where he’s at, he’ll be facing a whole set of new challenges settling in. I don’t know anything about the specifics of his transfer but we hope to hear from him soon. Write him a letter at his new address (and new prisoner number) if you can:
Sean Swain #2015638
Nottoway Correctional Center
P.O. Box 488
Burkeville, VA 23922