This week we are airing a presentation that Margaret Killjoy gave at Firestorm Books on the release day of her new release The Barrow Will Send What it May. This is the second in her Danielle Cain series which highlights magic, anarchism, queerness, punk squatter subculture and a bunch more.
The presentation consisted of a brief intro, a reading, and to end up a q&a session. As a warning to listeners, the reading describes the events of a car crash. This occurs between 11 and 12 minutes after the presentation starts, it is not graphic but if you aren’t in a good spot to hear that please feel free to turn the volume down.
Also, we have transcribed and re-recorded the questions in the final section, not because anything said was sketchy, but just to not air people’s voices that may not have wanted to be broadcast.
To find copies of Margaret’s book you can go to tor.com and search her name or the title of the book, and to see more of her work you can visit birdsbeforethestorm.net
To hear an interview that we did with her on the release of the first novella in this series alongside other interviews with her, check out our website.
To round out the hour, we are presenting a much abridged version of the most recent Error 451, our sometimes weekly tech podcast that tackles tech as it pertains to anarchism, anarchists, and more generally, how to understand this strange, often terrible and sometimes alright world of tech!
Any aspiring techsters can find the full version of this podcast here, and if you wish you can keep up to date on these releases by either subscribing to our podcast feed by using “The Final Straw Radio” as your search or by keeping an eye on our website.
. … . ..
Juneteenth and BRABC Event
This year incarcerated human rights activist Comrade Malik Washington put out the call for an international day of actions in solidarity with the movement to #EndPrisonSlavery on Juneteenth.
Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated on the 19th of June to commemorate and celebrate the end of legalized slavery in the United States. However, as prison rebels from Alabama to Texas to Florida and beyond have pointed out, the 13th amendment to the Constitution, which supposedly ended slavery, actually carves out an exception for people who have been convicted of a crime, meaning slavery was never fully abolished for incarcerated folks–a condition of exploitation and dehumanization clearly visible within the brutality of every aspect of the US prison system, and in the fact that incarcerated workers receive no meaningful compensation for their labor while in prison.
In response to this call for events, Blue Ridge Anarchist Black Cross will host a Juneteenth event at 5:30pm on June 19, at Firestorm Books. We will screen Ava Duvernays award-winning documentary “13th,” discuss how people can get involved in the movement to #EndPrisonSlavery, and send some cards to prison rebels who need a little love and light right now! Hope to see you there!
Malik Washington’s Statement in Support of Sean Swain
Revolutionary Greetings, comrades! It’s me, Comrade Malik in Texas.
This June 11th I’d like to ask all of y’all to send some Love, Light, and Commissary CA$H to my brother in struggle Sean Swain in Ohio.
Sean has dedicated a lot of time and effort to supporting and sustaining the work done by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. Sean has edited our publications and provided much needed direction for our Abolition movement. Sean continues to make personal sacrifices for the good of all, and he never ceases to speak Truth to Power. In the following months I hope to work directly with Sean so we can tear this entire thing down!
Hopefully I will become an honorary 13th Monkey!!?
This week, we present an interview that Bursts conducted with the sci-fi and picture book author, technologist and social critic Cory Doctorow. Cory is an editor of the blog BoingBoing, a fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and his most recent book is entitled Walkaway, out from Head of Zeus and TOR books. The novel plays with themes of open source technologies, class society, post-scarcity economics, ecological remediation, drop-out culture and liberatory social models. It was released a few days ago in paperback, along with matching re-issues of his other adult sci-fi novels.
For the hour, they chat about themes from the book, sharing, trans-humanism, imagination and monsters. To find more work by Cory, check out his blog craphound.com. You can also find him on twitter, free writings on Project Gutenberg, his content on archive.org, or his podcast.
Due to technical difficulties, we have no Sean Swain segment this week. We hope this will be remedied next episode.
For a slightly longer version of this episode, make sure to check out the podcast version.
Stay tuned mid-week for a podcast special interview with an anarchist from Indonesia about May Day in Yogyakarta and the repression that has followed. Also, if you haven’t been checking our podcast feed, you’re missing out. We have been regularly releasing extra content mid-week including our 8th Anniversary episode with interviews of hosts of two Channel Zero Network podcasts. You’ll also find two episodes of #Error451, our sometimes-weekly tech security podcast from an anarchist perspective.
If you’re in Asheville this week, consider attending the Another Carolina Anarchist Bookfair benefit show at the Odditorium on Haywood Road on the West Side. The show starts at 9pm, it features the music of Kortriba, Mother Marrow, Lynathrope and a special battle set of the project Fatal Comfort versus the stylings of FUNK JAMz. If you visit the ACAB table, you could be one of the first one of your friends to grab an ACAB2018 poster hot off the presses or ACAB2018 tshirt, both designed by super awesome local artists. Proceeds from the entry, shirts and posters go to pay for the local anarchist bookfair taking place between June 21st and 24th. More info on the bookfair at acab2018.noblogs.org
Also, this Friday Blue Ridge Anarchist Black Cross will be hosting it’s monthly presentation of the short documentary series, TROUBLE, by sub.Media. This month we’ll watch the second episode of two on the topic of gentrification and resistance to it. The film will be 30 minutes and then followed by a discussion with prompt questions suited to the Asheville’s specific brand of problems. The show starts at 6:30 and will last roughly an hour. Invite your friends!
This weekend there were large counter presences to a national socialist movement rally in the small town of Newnan Georgia, about 45 minutes outside of Atlanta. This group, which was formerly known as the American nazi party, has been called one of the most active white supremacist groups in the US, and was gathering to celebrate the birthday of one dead white power a-hole. Despite the protesters outnumbering the wp group by as much as 10 or 20 to 1, militarized police heavily repressed the diverse coalition of anti racist activists by using extreme physical force resulting in over 10 arrests.
From the support page:
As feared, cops attacked and arrested people with absolutely no justification – particularly people of color and other marginalized individuals. So far, we’re aware of up to 13 arrests, some of whom are dealing with serious medical conditions while in jail.
We need to get them out as soon as possible, and we need a lot of money to do it. Together we have the power to free them!
From an update posted this morning:
We have several protesters free already thanks to bail contributions! We have contacted everyone still in jail, and have learned some concerning things: Some protesters are being given trumped up felony charges, despite video evidence showing they did nothing. We believe the charges are intended to make it longer/more expensive to get them out.
We have also learned that some protesters have been put in the same cell block as NSM members (a Nazi group). This makes it even more urgent that we get folks out as soon as possible.
From the Neighborhood Anarchist Collective in Eugene, Oregon
“For this May Day, the Neighborhood Anarchist Collective will be hosting an International Workers’ Day Solidarity Share Fair on Tuesday, May 1st! The event will be at First Christian Church* from 2-6PM. This free market is a project organized by NAC to provide free goods and services from local organizations and community groups to the unhoused and working class communities in need of these basic necessities, along with food, live music, and a chance to know other folks in the community – and it’s all free!
The collective is also still accepting donations and volunteers! If you or your group, business, or organization would like to provide goods or services at this event or lend a helping hand, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get connected. Your contributions are greatly appreciated!
For info on May Day events in Santa Rosa, CA & in Asheville, NC, stay tuned for the April 29th , 2018, episode of The Final Straw for interviews with organizers of events in both of those places.
Certain Days Calendar
For any artists or folks in touch with artists out there, heads up reminder on this:
The Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar collective is releasing its 18th calendar this coming fall. The theme for 2019 is ‘Health/Care,’ reflecting on the overlapping topics of health, care/caring, and healthcare. We are looking for 12 works of art and 12 short articles to feature in the calendar, which hangs in more than 3,000 homes, workplaces, prison cells, and community spaces around the world.
For anyone interested in giving a presentation or looking to table at the 2018 ACAB, or Another Carolina Anarchist Bookfair in Asheville from Thursday, June 21- Sunday, June 24, 2018, there’s been an extension of deadline. Sign up for either or both of those things or find more information at https://acab2018.noblogs.org
And now a couple of repression announcements:
Herman Bell back on track to parole!
In some good news, the lawsuit to block the release of political prisoner Herman Bell, former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army POW in New York State, has been thrown out by a judge, so he should be released on his scheduled parole after nearly 45 years inside. Thanks to everyone who sent letters & emails, made phone calls and spread the word about Herman Bell’s case. We wish him a welcome back to the outside. Free Them All!
In some not as good news from Hamilton, Ontario, so-called Canada:
As some of you may have heard, our beloved friend, Cedar (Peter) Hopperton has been arrested and charged in relation to the property damage that occurred on Locke Street in Hamilton.
In the very early morning hours of Friday, April 6th, the Hamilton SWAT team broke down the door of Cedar’s house, threw in a flash grenade, and entered with assault riffles drawn. Cedar was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offense (unlawful assembly while masked). While a publication ban is in effect that prohibits us from sharing the details of the crown’s flimsy case, we can say that this is clearly a political prosecution: Cedar is being targeted because they are a visible face to anarchist organizing in Hamilton, and because of their self-affirmed and proud anarchist politics. As we learned from the G20 in Toronto, and again more recently with the J20 defendants in the US, conspiracy charges are ambiguous and deeply political. This is no different.
On Tuesday, April 10th, having already been in custody for 5 days due to stall tactics used by the crown, Cedar was, devastatingly, denied bail. Despite the fact that they have no history of violence and have never been charged with a violent crime, Cedar will remain indefinitely in jail, a place that is profoundly violen t and leaves lasting trauma. In addition to the routine violence of jail life, Cedar, as a gender nonconforming person, faces additional harm from the institution, the guards, as well as the other prisoners.
Please visit https://hamiltonanarchistsupport.noblogs.org/ for more information or to make a donation to Cedar’s legal defense fund. Also consider writing Cedar. Keep in mind all correspondence will be screened by guards. Use ink only – no glue, fragrances, glitter, stickers, etc. Sending books is prohibited. Staples are also not allowed.
Peter (Cedar) Hopperton
c/o Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre
165 Barton St E
Hamilton, ON L8L 2W6
This week on The Final Straw, Bursts presents a conversation with Kristian Williams about his recently published book, Between The Lie & The Bullet: Essays on Orwell, published by AK Press. Kristian is maybe best known for authoring Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America.
For the hour we speak about Kristian’s reading of Orwell, the importance of intellectual honesty, weaknesses in modern Anarchist engagements with ideas and facts on the ground and other topics stemming from the book. A slightly longer version of this conversation will be available in our podcast, which can be downloaded from our website. More writings & interviews by
Kristian can be found at KristianWilliams.com.
We’d like to apologize for the strange sound during most of Kristian’s portions. This’ll be present in upcoming interviews, it’s a technical difficulty that hopefully we’ll have sorted quite soon. Thanks for bearing with us!
First, we air a portion of Ursula K. Le Guin’s acceptance speech from the 2014 National Book Awards, where she received the Lifetime Acheivement award. Ursula K. Le Guin, wrote fantasy and sci-fi for 77 years of her life, contributing many books such as The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Word for World is Forest & The Earthsea Series. She died on Monday, January 22nd at the age of 88. Her fiction touched on many themes, including anarchism, taoism, gender, environmentalism, sociology, anthropology and psychology. Her official website is here. The full video this was pulled from, including the introduction by Neil Gaiman can be found here.
The third and fourth portion of CKUT’s Prison Radio Show interviews with former Black Panther and BLA Political Prisoner of War Jalil Muntaqim. In the third segment, Jalil speak about being incarcerated during the Attica Uprising, the ideas of Intercommunalism, Internationalism and Nationalism, as well as the idea of revolution. In the final portion, Jalil speaks on spirituality and politics, ISIS and a message to rappers. More of his writings and info on his case can be found at freejalil.com
Support Kevin Rashid Johnson!
We are nearing the end of the second week of #OperationPUSH!, which is described in a statement released by participants, as a work stoppage or “laydown” in at least eight prison facilities around the state of Florida. The beginning of this plan coincided with Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday on January 15th 2018, in protest of the deplorable conditions in FL prisons. This comes hot on the heels of the September 9th prison strike which took place in 2016 on the 45th anniversary of Attica, and disrupted operations in dozens if not hundreds of prisons across the country. This is being called the largest prison strike in US history, and was followed by several subsequent strikes all over the country. It has been difficult to get information about OperationPUSH!; FL prisons are being predictably recalcitrant and have also been imposing communication blackouts for even suspected participants.
However, there has been one major insight into this situation in the form of an article by Kevin Rashid Johnson entitled Florida Prisoners are Laying It Down. In this article, Rashid (who is a prison journalist and self taught paralegal) describes conditions within Florida prisons in detail, including the high cost of goods in the commissary coupled with the fact of forced and unpaid labor, up to and including a culture of abuse and neglect by prison staff. In retaliation, Rashid has been thrown into an unheated cell, with no working toilet and with a window that cannot properly close, making the temperature equal to the subzero environment outside.
This is a clear sign of retaliatory torture, and surely is what Rashid calls “a true emergency”. It is urgently requested that people call the prison to advocate for and demand the immediate cessation of this abuse on the part of the prison!
Warden Barry Reddish
Florida State Prison
Raiford, FL 32083 904-368- 2500
The demands are:
Move Johnson (#158039) to a properly climate controlled cell with working toilet
Immediately allow Mr. Johnson to make phone calls to his attorneys
Stop retaliating against him for reporting on conditions within your prisons.
A little heads up about media worth checking out. This week, It’s Going Down aired a podcast interview with an anarchist in the U.S. who’s from Turkey about the Turkish assaults on Afrin, one of the cantons of Rojava, the autonomous Kurdish region in Northern Syria. Afrin is administered by the Democratic Confederalist PYD and defended by the YPG & YPJ militias. The interview covers some of the history as relevant to anarchists, some of the developments of Rojava through the Syrian Civil War, their alliance with the United States and Rojava’s relationship with Turkey and other states involved in the proxy wars in the region. This interview is well worth a listen, and hopefully can aid you in organizing reading groups, fundraisers or demonstrations in your area in support of Rojava and it’s tenuous experiment.
An Update from Us!
Just a little heads up, too, we’re messing with our podcast a little bit, not so much in format but more so in distribution. So, we set up a soundcloud with the three latest episodes and all of the episodes in our podcast stream are now up youtube though the videos only plays our show as you’d hear with the episode image as the background. If those platforms are your deal, swing by and follow us. I’d also like to remind y’all that we’re up on itunes. If you go into that blasted program and rate our content and write reviews, it fucks with the algorithms and will make the show visible to wider audiences.
Also, I’d like to reiterate what we say in the introduction to the show, that we have a free edition of the show that’s 59 minutes in length and falls within the requirements of the FCC here in the U.S. for radio broadcast. If you have a community or college radio station in your area and you’d like to hear us up on the airwaves, getting into folks’ cars, houses, jail cells, work places or whatever by the magical accident of radio science, check out our Radio Broadcasting link at our website, hit us up on social media or email us to get the ball rolling. In addition, we suggest getting some friends together to petition the local radio overlords to get us on their station.
Finally, just to remind y’all, we love hearing feedback and show suggestions. Finding a different person or persons every week to fill an hour with interesting content is hard work, and cues from y’all really helps us plug away at this volunteer endeavor. As always, you can email us at email@example.com
This week William and Disembodied Voice had the chance to interview Walidah Imarisha, who is an Oregon based writer, educator, public scholar and spoken word artist about her book Angels With Dirty Faces: Three Stories of Crime, Prison, and Redemption, her 2016 book out from AK Press and IAS, which highlights three distinct experiences that are all in different degrees tangential to the realities inherent to the prison industrial complex.
This book just won the Creative Non-Fiction Award in the state of Oregon earlier in 2017. In this interview we got to touch on a wide array of topics, mostly centered on Angels With Dirty Faces but also on accountability processes and what might have to change in order for them to feel more effective, her relationship to anarchism, and some upcoming projects and appearances.
We also get to touch on the book Octavia’s Brood, a compilation of speculative fiction that Imarisha co edited with Adrienne Maree Brown, who also wrote the book Emergent Strategy.
Resist Package Restrictions for Those Incarcerated in New York State!
The thugs who run the NYS prison system (NYS DOCCS) has issued a new directive (4911A) that describes new, draconian package rules that they are testing in 3 facilities as a ‘pilot program’.
Currently, at most facilities, family and friends can drop off packages at the front desk when visiting- packages that include fresh fruit and vegetables that supplement the high carb/sugar, meager diet provided by DOCCS.
These new rules are problematic in a lot of ways including:
1) Packages can be ordered only from approved vendors.
2) Fresh fruit and vegetables are not allowed.
3) Family and friends cannot drop off packages while visiting. All packages must be shipped through the vendor.
4) Each person is limited to ordering three packages a month for him or herself and receiving three packages a month from others. Each package cannot be more than 30 pounds. Of the 30 pounds per package, only 8 pounds can be food.
5) Allowable items will be the same in all facilities. (No more local permits.)
6) There are far fewer items allowed than before and of the items that are allowed, far less variety. This includes additional restrictions on clothing.
7) The pilot rules are not clear about how books, media, religious items and literature, or other items subject to First Amendment protection will be treated. This could mean that groups like NYC Books through Bars will not be able to send free books to the 52,000 people in the prison system.
The pilot program implements an “approved venders only” package system. This means that only packages from approved vendors will be accepted. The vendors appear to be companies that specialize in shipping into prisons and jails. There are currently five approved vendors identified on the DOCCS website. This amounts to a cash grab for these companies.
The pilot program is starting at three facilities: Taconic, Greene, and Green Haven. Those facilities will stop accepting packages from non-approved vendors on
January 2, 2018.
We have to make this package directive unworkable. These new rules are cruel- eliminating fresh fruit and vegetables and creating massive profits for the vampire companies that will fill the niche.
2-Get in touch with your people in NYS Prisons and let them know about this. Inform them, send them the info. Massive non-cooperation on the part of NYS prisoners will play a huge role in this.
3- Flood the electeds with postcards. Send one to Governor Cuomo and one to Anthony Annucci, the acting commissioner of DOCCS. It costs 34 cents.
Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Acting Commissioner Anthony Annucci
Building 2, State Campus
Albany, NY 12226
Some sample text:
Dear Governor Cuomo,
This holiday season is about giving, not taking away. I object to the new DOCCS package rules.
(Your relationship to people in prison, if applicable)
Dear Acting Commissioner Annucci,
The new DOCCS package pilot punishes innocent families. Having a loved one in prison is already expensive and difficult—the new rules make it worse. Rescind the package pilot!
(Your relationship to people in prison, if applicable)
4) Write a letter to both of these people (address above)
5)Call Cuomo’s office and leave a message about it. You won’t have to talk to anyone. Just leave your message. 518-474-8390
From the studios of 103.3 FM in Asheville, NC, this is the Final Straw and I’m William Goodenuff. This show will later be archived at thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org and you can email us with questions or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you’re interested in rebroadcasting any episode or segment of the show, you’re free to do so. If you do so, just send us an email. You can send us letters at the Final Straw, c/o Asheville FM 864 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806.
This week, I and sometimes contributor & commentator Disembodied Voice had the chance to interview Walidah Imarisha, who is an Oregon-based writer, educator, public scholar and spoken word artist, about her book Angels With Dirty Faces, which came out in 2016 `out From AI and AK Press, [and] which highlights three distinct experiences that are, in different degrees, tangential to the realities inherent to the prison-industrial complex. This book just won the creative nonfiction award in the state of Oregon earlier in 2017. In this interview, we got to touch on a wide array of topics, mostly centered on Angels With Dirty Faces but also on accountability processes, and on what might have to change in order for them to feel more effective her relationship to anarchism, and some up-coming projects and appearances. We also get to touch on the book Octavia’s Brood, a compilation of speculative fiction that Imarisha co-edited with Adriene Marie Brown, who also wrote Emergent Strategy. More about Imarisha, her work, and up coming event can be found www.walidah.com. [spells out].
B: And here’s an update for those with loved ones behind the bars in New York that promises to further isolate and erode the health of inmates while squeezing more profits from friends and families and into the pockets of prison profiteers. Quote, “The thugs who run the NY State DOCCS have issued a new directive, 4911A, that describes new draconian package rules that they are testing in three facilities as a pilot program. Currently, at most facilities, families and friends can drop off packages at the front desk when visiting, packages that include fresh fruit and vegetables that supplement [the] high carb-and-sugar, meager diet provided by DOCCS. The new rules are problematic in a lot of new ways, including:
1. Packages could be ordered only from approved vendors.
2. Fresh fruit and vegetables are not allowed.
3. Family & friends cannot drop off packages while visiting. All packages must be shipped through the vendor.
4. Each person is limited to ordering 3 packages a month for him or herself and receiving three packages a month from others.
5. Each package cannot be more than 30 pounds. Of the 30 pounds per package, only 8 pounds can be food.
Allowable items will be the same in all facilities. No more local permits.
6. There are fewer items allowed than before, and of the items that are allowed, far less variety. This includes additional restrictions on clothing.
7. Pilot rules are not clear about how books, media, religious items and literature, or other items subject to First Amendment protection will be treated. This could mean that groups like NYC Books Through bars will not be able to send free books to the 52,000 people in the prison system.
The pilot program implements a, quote, ‘Approved vendors only’ end quote package system. This mens that only packages from approved vendors will be accepted. The vendors appear to be companies that specialize in shipping into prisons and jails. There are currently only five approved vendors, identified on the DOCCS website. This amounts to a cash grab for these companies. The pilot program is starting at 3 facilities: Teconic, Greene, and Greenhaven. These facilities will stop accepting packages from nonapproved vendors on January 2nd, 2018. We have to make this package directive unworkable. These news rules are cruel, eliminating fresh fruits and vegetables, ad creating massive profits for the vampire companies that will fill the niche.
We can organize the roll back of these rules. Here’s some ideas how.
1. You can sign a petition. You could share it with your address book, share it on Twitter, share it on FB. It takes two seconds. You can find it in our show notes.
2. Get in touch with your people in the NY state prisons and let them know about this. Inform them, send them the info. Massive noncooperation on the part of NY state prisoners will play a huge role in this.
3. You can flood the electives with post cards. One could be sent to Cuomo and one to Anthony Annucci, the acting commissionaire of DOCCS. It costs 34 cents. Andrew Cuomo can be reached at:
Andrew M . Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NY State Capital Building
Albany, NY 12224
Acting Commissioner Anthony Annucci can be found at
New York State DOCCS Building 2
Albany, NY 12226.
Some sample text can be found in the show notes at thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org
But first, here are some words from Anarchist prisoner, Sean Swain.
Q1: So, we are here with Walidah Imarisha, author of Angels with Dirty Faces, and co-editor of Octavia’s Brood. Thank you so much for coming on to this show. Would you introduce yourself a little bit more and talk a little about what you do?
A: Sure! Thanks for having me. My name’s Walidah Imarisha and I’m an educator, and a writer, and I work in a number of different areas. I see my work all tying together as trying to claim a right to the future and trying to be able to move folks toward imagining and then creating better and more just futures.
Q1: Will you talk more about your experience as an educator who is also involved in movement work, and also maybe more broadly about the role of the academy in movement?
A: Sure. I think I’ve been very lucky to teach in places and positions that have allowed me to shape and to have as much autonomy as possible around the content of my classes and the subject material. I think that intellectualism is incredibly important in movements for change. I think its important to have spaces where we are thinking about theory, and we’re thinking about larger frame works and questions. To me all intellectualism should be public intellectualism, which is, in my definition, intellectualism not in service of the powers that be, but in service of the people, and in service of creating new just worlds. And, to me, the distinction that is very important is about, “Who are you accountable to, and who is your work accountable to?” And I’m very proud to call myself a public scholar, because, to me, that means I am accountable to those communities who are marginalized, who are oppressed. I’m accountable to making sure my work reflects them, making sure my work is centered in their leadership and their resistance, and that my work inherently attempts to support changing the structures that created that oppression in the first place.
Q1: That’s really cool. Sometimes I find in far left, at least the strains of the far left that I find myself in, that there’s this kind of anti-intellectualism that happens. Do you find that that has been the case for you, or do you have a different experience with that?
A: I think I’ve seen, you know, both sides of the extremes, and I think that’s part of the problem — is that it’s extreme. So I’ve definitely seen folks who are anti-intellectualism and focused only on practice. I’ve also seen folks who have only immersed themselves in theory and are not engaged with or thinking about how that moves on the ground. And I think that both of those extremes ultimately keep us from being able to create the kind of change that we want, so there has to be a balance. And I also think it’s important, again, that intellectualism and the engagement with thinking about the future is really not only rooted in oppressed communities, but includes the imaginings of oppressed communities. So I think it’s important that we’re not just looking to public scholars to just articulate these ideas, but we’re looking to public scholars to help and hold space for communities to articulate these ideas and these imaginings for themselves.
Q1: Yeah, definitely. I couldn’t agree more. Yeah, the acknowledgment that intellectual theory comes from so many different places and not just out of academies or whatever — though there is a lot of super useful stuff coming out of academies too. So, you’ve done a lot of lectures, and you say you’re an educator and a writer, and you wrote this book Angels with Dirty Faces a couple of years ago. Would you describe this book for anyone who hasn’t read it yet?
A: Sure. It’ Angels With Dirty Faces: Three Stories of Crime, Prison, and Redemption. It’s a creative nonfiction book that looks at the criminal legal system, at prisons, and at the idea of harm and accountability through the narrative and the stories of three people. My goal in putting the book out was to create spaces here we can have conversations about the idea of what happens when harm is done. So when there’s been harm done in communities, when folks have hurt each other, then what happens? And the book doesn’t answer that question, but what I realized in doing my work as an a prison abolitionist is that we needed to humanize those folks who are incarcerated, and also folks who have done harm, and they actually aren’t necessarily the same people, because those folks have been dehumanized. And we can’t begin to have conversations about how to heal communities when we’re imagining folks in the communities not as human beings who have, in some cases, made incredibly atrocious mistakes, but as monsters.
Q1: Yeah, that resonates a lot with me, and one of the questions that we were really interested about, is kind of this disposability mindset that the world at large seems to have for so many people, and that that’s certainly conditioned on forces of classism and racism and anti-Blackness.
A: Absolutely. I think that when you live in a capitalist society, everything becomes a commodity, including human beings, and I think that, you know, it’s very clear that, you know — and I think there`s been a lot of amazing scholarship work done about this, the connections between system of racial oppression, like slavery, and the prison system. And recognizing that the prison system is not about safety, it’s not about reducing crime – it’s about exploitation and control of potentially rebellious communities. You know, folks like Angela Davis, Ruthie Gilmore, and Michelle Alexander have moved these conversations in the public. And so I think it’s important to have a historical and larger frame work around it, so that we can see its not just that people are being thrown away – it’s that certain folks especially are being thrown away, because they were never wanted in the first place.
Q2: Absolutely, yes. What you just said about that there are particular folks who tend to become dehumanized and disposed of in our society is very much true, but what I appreciated about your book and the stories that you tell in it, is that you’re really approaching it from a space where you’re talking about people…who we actually care deeply for who create harm and hurt us, and that is something that has often been an conversation in the community that I’m in, and that we’re in, with things like accountability processes and different ways of trying to address harm at the community level, that – where we don’t want to throw people away, right? And we’ll talk more about that question a little later on in the interview, but I’m curious because you mentioned prison abolitionism. What do you feel, when we talk about the end of prisons, what would need to be true of our society, in order for us to stop throwing people away?
A: Yeah. I think, you know, it’s important to talk bout what abolition is, and I think that Angela Davis has a great short book that she wrote called Abolition Democracy that’s based on the ideas of W.E.B. Du Bois, and him talking about the fact that, you know, calling ourselves “prison abolitionists” is specifically and directly linking back to abolitionists who are fighting against slavery. and Du Bois was writing about slavery and said that, you know, abolition is not just the end of slavery – it is the presence of justice for those who were enslaved. It is the ability to participate fully in society, so it’s not just the tearing down; it’s actually a replacement and a building up of those folks who had for so long been exploited and brutalized and terrorized. And I think that that’s a very important and useful framing when we’re talking about prison , because when we talk about prison abolition, often folks think only of tearing down the walls. They think of an absence. And the question becomes, well then, you know, if you wanna tear down the prisons, then what? And I think that for many prison abolitionists, we believe that abolition as a mind set is about ending this carceral mentality, this idea that punishment and retribution that prisons are founded on, but it’s also about creating systems that actually focus on keeping communities whole and safe, and when harm is done, to healing those communities. And so I think it’s important to recognize that abolition is not just about destruction. It’s also about creation. And Alexis Pauline Gumbs, who is an amazing Black Feminist visionary thinker, wrote “What if abolition is a growing thing?” and I think that that idea, as abolition as growing, as a garden, as a plant, rather than as a wrecking ball, is a really powerful one.
Q1: Yeah, definitely. It seems like yeah, I – it’s hard for me to grapple with this question, super, like — what might need to be true of our society in order for us to stop throwing people away is a really huge question that I sometimes don’t really have great foot holds in — the carceral state, and capitalism, and all of these things like patriarchy, anti-blackness, misogynoir – all these things build walls between people, and you know, take the element of caring out of the human equation, which is a super huge shame. So I think approaching it like that makes a lot of sense to me.
Just to get back to the book, I was really taken with the style that the book was written in, the narrative or creative nonfiction, and I’m really interested in about the evolution of this book. Would you talk a little bit about how it changed stylistically throughout the writing process?
A: Sure. So, Angels With Dirty Faces focuses on three people stories: myself, my adopted brother Kakamia, who is currently incarcerated in CA, and James McElroy, also known as Jimmy Mac, who was a member of the Westies, which was the Irish Mob that ran Hell’s Kitchen in NewYork from the 1960s to the 1980s, and also served as hit men for the Gambino family, for John Gotti, for the (???). And the book actually began because Jimmy Mac and my brother were incarcerated in the same place and got to know each other, and Jimmy Mac had never done an interview with any journalist, but, because of my brother, he agreed to do an interview with me. And through doing that process, he, you know, was like, do you want to write my biography? And I was like yes, this would be fascinating. But as I began to write the biography, I realized that it was something that was growing. I had been doing work around prisons and justice within prisons for, you know, 20 years or more then. I couldn’t help but want to bring that into talking about Jimmy Mac to give it a framework and to be able to give a full picture of these ideas of crime, of violence, of prisons, of justice, that are so racialized, that are so much about class and gender and sexual identity, and are so much used as a method of social control. And so the book just grew from there to include my brother, to include myself, and then to include the work that I’ve done that has been a lot around Black Liberation political prisoners. And so, I really began to realize that i think the best way to change folks’ minds is through stories. And I think that what really causes a deep shift within a person is being able to emotionally connect with someone else’s experiences, and I think that is p of the reason that this system works so hard to dehumanize those who it is scared of, because if we are not people, if we are things, then there is less of a possibility of other folks in society empathizing, connecting, and then seeing the ways that the system functions. And so I felt like sharing those stories would be an important way to create a shift. So, the creative nonfiction genre is kind of a giant snatch bag with a lot of things in it. But, you know, my book definitely — it includes statistics, it includes history, it includes analysis. It also includes personal narrative. I’m a poet, so some of the writing incorporates the aesthetic of poetics. So, it definitely is a hybrid creature. But I think that actually how we live our lives is seeing everything as connected rather than in these neat boxes.
Q2: Yea, and that is one of the most remarkable aspects of the book. I can imagine that this is something that people comment on to you frequently about it — the way you just charted that evolution of kind of talking about Jimmy Mac and then realizing that more stories needed to be included sounds very natural and organic, and yet the stories that you chose to include about yourself and your brother were highly personal, and I was wondering because, I suppose, you could have chosen to talk about some other folks who are incarcerated who you had learned about or corresponded with, but you chose to speak about yourself and your relationship with your brother and your family. I wonder if you could reflect a little bit on the choice not just to widen the scope of the book from one story to multiple stories, but specifically to those stories.
A: Sure. Well, as I was working on what I thought would by the biography for Jimmy Mac, I came to feel that I was really connected with Jimmy and with this process. I mean, the reason Jimmy spoke to me was because of my brother and, you know, Jimmy was calling me his niece, and said I was an “ Westie,” which I was like, “I don’t know that I want to do that, but thank you,” um, [laughter] and I felt like I was very much a part of the story. I think that any idea of objectivity is a fallacy in human beings. I don’t think that you can be objective. And I think that folks who say they’re being objective in their writing, in their creation, in their education, teaching — they are either lying to you or to themselves. I think that the most principled things is to be clear about your subjectivity, and to be clear about how your subjectivity affects the information you’re presenting, and then to allow the reader to engage with it on that level. And so that’s what I began doing. And as I was doing that, I was realizing that these conversations around harm, around crime, around violence, were things that I was also grappling with personally. And so, you know, my brother was arrested and tried — at the age of 16 tried as an adult and has served almost 30 years in prison at this point. And then, you know, I had actually gone through a failed accountability – a community accountability process with my partner at the time who had sexually assaulted me. And really recognizing that these stories are not stories that are easy to discuss, these are not stories that there is a neat simple ending that can be created, but these complicated, messy, difficult, painful stories are the ones we have to talk about, because if we don’t talk about them, then any conception of justice we’re creating will eventually derail when we get to places like that. And so I think that, for me, we have to go into those places that make us uncomfortable, that make us scared, that are painful, to be able to sit with the complexities and contradictions of humanity. And I think that’s the only way that we can build new systems of justice, new processes to address harm, new ways to keep communities safe, that will actually both be effective and will embody the values and principles that we have and that we want for this new world.
Q1: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more, and I think that that point just can not be overstated. There’s no amount of times when, you know, having that information will ever be too much.
Q2: I wanted to say that one of the things that really challenged me in the book, when you talk about sitting with that complexity, you speak about how — I’m sorry, can you pronounce your brother’s name for me again?
Q: Kakamia. That you talk about how Kakamia really resisted becoming an informant, and really didn’t want to play that role, but eventually did, and that was really painful for him, it was difficult for you, and it really made me sit with the complexity of that because I think in the circles that I run in there’s like this anti-snitch kind of thing, and it’s this very knee jerk, kind of all of nothing kind of approach that can just be so harsh toward people who do that. And on the one hand, yes, it’s a decision that we can condemn, but on the other hand, it’s also — you capture the horrible choice of that so well in the book. So I just wanted to say that, just for me, that was a moment where the story really forced me to sit with that complexity, so… thank you [laughs].
A: Yeah…thanks. I think that I just wanna be, I mean, Kakamia is anti-snitch, and, you know, hates himself for debriefing. And also probably wouldn’t be alive if he hadn’t debriefed. And that both of those things that are in seeming contradiction with each other is absolutely true. I think it is important to take in to account context. I think that one of the things, one of the many things that is so flawed with the criminal legal system is the idea that people fit neatly in to categories, and human interactions fit neatly into categories, and so we can predict what needs to happen when a situation occurs. And I think one of the things that’s really powerful about the idea of transformative justice, which is you know, prison abolition is a part of that, is the idea of saying, as we are living the values we have for this new world, how are we respecting that every human interaction is different, is unique, and how are we responding to that and creating situations that address that moment? I think that’s on e of the things that is so both challenging and powerful about transformative justice — is that it accepts that each situation is unique.
Q1: I’m wondering about what the reception of the book has been, either critically or, if you’ve done book events, how have people received the book?
A: Well, the reception has been really good for the book. I think I definitely was very nervous about putting out the book for many reasons. Because the book is so deeply personally for myself, and for Kakamia and for Jimmy Mac, as well as other folks who’s stories are partially told in the book, I wanted it to be as honest as possible, and I tried to be honest and accountable to those folks– Jimmy & Kakamia read different versions of the book, they got to see the book and give feed back on it. I felt that was very important, especially writing about folks who are incarcerated, where so much has been taken from them. I did not want tot take their stories and their experiences from them as well, and use it to my own end. So, even though I worked to try and make the book as honest and as real as possible, that also meant that all of us are kind of laid open for the world, which was you know a very scary idea, I think. And the response to the book has been really incredible and powerful. It’s – I think what has honored me the most is when folks who’s family members are incarcerated, people who have been incarcerated, and folks who are survivors of sexual assault all say they felt like they saw themselves and their experiences reflected accurately in the book, and that the complexities of that which they live with every day, was something that was in the book. And that to me was the highest honor that I could receive in relationship to the book. But the response has been powerful from all sectors and I won the creative nonfiction award for the Oregon Book Awards in 2017, and that has kind of given a new round of interest in the book, so it’s been really powerful to use the book as a way to have conversations in communities, and as a way for communities to begin having that dialogue of saying, “Well than, what do we do? And what can we create now that can be ready when harm happens in our community?”
Q1: Definitely. And congratulations for the award, and speaking for my own self, one of the most powerful aspects of the book, which seemingly I’m not alone in this, the fact that you name all these really difficult complexities that are just inherent to human interactions, and you know, the question of snitching and the question of the accountability process — those were really, really powerful, powerful moments, and like very, very real. And I’d love to hear, has — so the reception has been good, but I’d love to hear, has Kakamia or Mac’s or even your situation, has have there been any material changes to any of y’all’s lives or situations because of Angels With Dirty Faces?
A:Well, unfortunately, Jimmy Mac passed away before the book came out so, it is one of my biggest regrets that he didn’t get to see the book out in the world. And I worked hard with Kakamia – because he is still trying to make parole and get out of prison – to, you know, protect his identity as much as possible around that. But he has shared the book with folks who are also incarcerated with him and that has meant a lot to me because the book is very personal about him as well, and he has felt comfortable enough to hare that with folks who have all given positive feedback to him about it.
Q1: That’s awesome. You touched on accountability processes several times and I – they are kind of the thorn in, you know, kind of a thorn in the side of the far left in a way, and they probably don’t work as well as we like to believe that they work. I was wondering if you cold reflect on accountability processes a little bit and kind of talk a little bit about – can we boil down the failure of these processes to individual flaws or is there some sort of structural component, structural aspect to their consistently lukewarm results?
A: I think one of the biggest things, and I talk about this in Angels, I think a lot of the problem is what we consider to be failure and success, and how we are judging community accountability process, especially when it has been serious harm that’s been done around, especially intimate violence and sexual violence. And I think that we have the idea that has been, is very much a product of this capitalist society that we can find a quick fix for these things. And that we can create something that ,at the end of the day, everyone will feel healed and will feel whole and will move on from. And I think that those are fairly unrealistic expectations. I think that there is no quick fix to healing, and there is no quick fix in the process of transformation. And so, for me, what I have really come to think about is, are the individuals and is the community, at the “end” of the accountability process, healed enough that they are able to continue their healing and growth and accountability in a less formal structure afterwards? And I think that if that was one of the criteria we may see accountability processes very different. But I think that we have to begin shifting the ways we talk about harm that is done, the ways we talk about who is doing this harm, because I think that, you know, and I think that things like the #MeToo campaign, and this response to individual men who have committed sexual assault and sexual harassment, is you know, we have to see that it is pervasive, that it is something that happens. We often talk about how many women and gender nonconforming folks have experienced sexual assault, but we don’t talk about how many folks are assaulting, right? And I think that we have to talk about that, because that is where it is most awful and uncomfortable, to think about people in our lives, people we care about, people we respect, who are committing this harm. And yet, that is the case. And if we don’t talk about that, we cant begin to actually transform our communities. And then we just rely on these individual instances and our response to them, which will continue to feel inadequate, unless we really begin to shift how we’re thinking about it, and have these larger conversations about the culture, and the pervasiveness of intimate violence and sexual violence.
Q1: You touched on #MeToo and other initiatives which highlight survivors of sexual assault. I was wondering if you had any more reflections on how much they break from normative narratives, or alternatively do they uphold narratives, or is that not really a helpful framework for thinking about that?
A: I mean, I’m of the mind — my co-editor for Octavia’s Brood, Adrienne Maree Brown, talks a lot about growing possibilities, and so I think that there is no one right way to do things. I think that there are actually, – we live in a quantum universe so there infinite possibilities, and to me, infinite ways to create justice. And so for me, as long as folks are holding on to their values and principles, I think that the work can and should move in many different ways. So when we do Octavia’s Brood, we do workshops, and we ask folks to say practicing “yes, and” rather than “no, but.” I think that we live in a ‘no, but…” society. There is one right answer, so all the rest must be wrong, right? This dichotomy which creates hierarchy. Rather than saying yes and all these things can be true and therefore there is no hierarchy, it’s all decentralized, its all here and accessible. So, you know, I am thankful for the campaign, I am thankful to the Black woman visionary who created and held that campaign for 10 years before it’s — this kind of mainstream resurrection . I’ve seen many positive things come out of the campaign and I think there are great conversations that are happening, and I think that to me, it is about capturing moments. And so I think that this is a moment that we can be using to ask these bigger questions so that it becomes about, “How do we fundamentally change a rape culture. how do we fundamentally shift the ways that institutionalized oppression have been ingrained in us, and how do we envision and begin to build something different?”
Q2: Absolutely, and I’m not surprised that in speaking with you, that I hear you asking all these questions, and really posing kind of how you think about the world in question form, because that really came across in book, in a way, that it really feels like the whole book is about posing questions. And certainly for folks who are familiar with your other work, that also questions is very much a through-line in the way that you do your work. And to us, we felt that questioning and kind of like seeking out more conversation and not seeking closure is very much like an intrinsically anarchist thing, and we wondering if you would talk a little bit about your relationship to anarchism.
A: Sure. Yeah, I definitely think that asking questions is incredibly important for may reasons. And you know — a number of folks have been disappointed by the book, because they are like, “You just asked questions, you didn’t give us the answers.” [Laughs] Like, boo, if I had the answers, I would have done something along time ago. But I also think even more importantly than that is the understanding and importance, and the value of collectively, and recognize that no one person is going to have the answers, and anyone who says they have all the answers is lying to themselves or to you. And I think that the recognition that is part of that collective process that will ultimately help us build different futures, and come up with new questions. Because this movement for change, there’s no end point. It’s a continual revolution in the fundamental sense of that word, in continual movement. And you know, I think some folks could feel depressed about that. I choose to feel incredibly hopeful, because it means that we continually have the opportunity to ask ourselves is this the world we want to live in? And we continually have the opportunity to re-envision the part, as we grow, that we also want to grow. And so, to me, those are a lot of my principles and values, and I do believe that the idea of anarchism can be useful and helpful. I identify politically closest as an anarchist. I also think that to me, if a label is useful in encapsulating ideas in a way that helps move work forward, then use them, and if it doesn’t, then keep the values and principles and move on. And also, as a Black woman, I want to recognize that a lot of what we call anarchism, which we think of as being created by these old european white dudes, are actually principles and values and ways of being and ways of knowing that communities of color have practiced for eternity. And so, I also think it important to acknowledge and recognize that this information is not something that is separate from oppressed peoples, it is something that actually comes from oppressed peoples and that, in may, ways it’s about time traveling and having those values and principles help us to inform and envision different futures.
Q2: I love what you said about the label being useful only if it moves the work forward, and that actually reminds me a lot of things that I’ve heard people, particularly who do prisoner support, say, because it is a space where you’re offering solidarity and you’re offering support, and sometimes you’re offering it to people who aren’t ideologically on the exact same page as you, and it becomes an evolution of your relationship to that person and the reasons that you’re in relationship to them. So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about, beyond just about yr brother, and how you write about, your experience with supporting incarcerated people, and maybe, like, your best practices around that.
A: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know that I have a checklist, but I think for me I have been incredibly lucky and honored to learn and be mentored by many different folks who have been and are incarcerated, and to work in solidarity and as compañeros with those folks. I would not be the person I am as a human, as someone involved in change or as an artist without the mentorship and guidance and leadership of folks who are incarcerated. So for me, I think it’s important to see folks who are incarcerated who you are engaging with as, A. Part of the community, because they absolutely are; and B. As folks you are working with rather than helping or working for. I think that a lot of folks who get involved come in and are often white folks. They come in with a savior mentality, and folks who are incarcerated and more, broadly, POC don’t need saviors, they need allies. Because some of the most courageous, innovative, incredible organizing work is happening in prisons, behind these walls, in some of the worst conditions possible. And we on the outside have so much to learn, and we need the wisdom – we need that leadership, we need that ingenuity and creativity, and bravery. And so, I think it’s important to come from that perspective, rather than coming from the perspective of, “I’m doing this to help this person,” rather than coming from the perspective of saying, “I’m doing this because we are both in shared struggle, and this person has a lot to share with me about that, and I want to be in communion and in conversation with this person to be able to make our communities and make our world better.”
Q2: Absolutely, thank you for that.
Q1: Yeah, definitely. Perhaps to veer off topic just for a moment, you’ve mentioned Octvia’s Brood throughout this interview, and this is an anthology of speculative fiction that you co-edited. Will you talk little bit about how this project compared to Angels With Dirty Faces? Like similarities, differences..?
A: So Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements is an anthology of fantastical writing by activists, organizers, and change-makers. So it’s science fiction created by people doing work on the ground to envision different futures. My co-editor, Adrienne, and I created the anthology with the premise that all organizing is science fiction, and therefore all organizers are creators and visionaries of science fiction, because these worlds — they are trying to imagine a world without borders, without prisons, a world without sexual violence — that is science fiction, because we haven’t seen that world. But also recognize we need imaginative spaces like science fiction, where we can explore beyond the boundaries of what we’re told is possible, because we cant build what we can’t imagine. Imagination is the first step to new worlds. So we have to have spaces where we can throw out what we’ve been told is realistic and possible, and instead start with the question, “What do we want? What is a world we want to live in? “ And I’ve – yeah. This project has been incredible. It’s something – we spent five yeas putting the book out, and it is something that has helped me be more visionary in my life and in my work, and I very much see Angels With Dirty Faces as connected with that. It was funny because I worked on Angels With Dirty Faces for ten years. So I started it well before we even had the idea of Octavia’s Brood, but it came out after Octavia’s Brood. And so, when I would tell people, “I have a book coming out,” and they would be like, “Oh, is it science fiction?” and I would be like, “No, it’s a creative nonfiction book about prisons and harm,” and they’re like, “Whoa, that’s really different.” I’m like, “Is it?” [laughter]. Because in my mind, again, they’re intimately connected because the reason I think it’s important to put Angels With Dirty Faces is to create the space so that we can imagine diff futures. And to me, you know, Angels With Dirty Faces is about helping to cultivate the values that will allow us to build a different world. And so for me, all of my work is connected. And I understand why other folks are like “You just jump around a lot,” but I feel strongly that, I’ve hoped that my work is able to embody sort of a visionary ethos and aesthetic that allows to create space for more possibilities, as my co-editor Adrienne says.
Q1: That’s so excellent. You mentioned you write poetry. do you write speculative fiction as well?
A: I do, yes. And I write science fiction poetry as well.
Q1: Excellent. How can people get their hands on that?
A: I’m still working on it. So I’m working on a book of science fiction poetry that is called Tubman’s Uncertainty Principle and looks at Black women’s liberation movements through the lens of quantum physics. [laughter] So nerdy. I do love the project because when I tell people, I find my folks real quick. Cause most people’s reaction is “Um, what now?” But the folks like you who are like [audible gasp] [laughter] — there my people are. [inaudible due to laughter] So I’m working on that, and I’ve been working on some science fiction short stories and projects as well, so I have some sci-fi stories that have been put out in various places, but I’m still sort of working on putting out more work on that. But right now, my main project is actually a nonfiction historical book on Oregon Black history, because I live in Oregon. So yet again, you’re jumping to something new and I’m like, I don’t really see it a being different, but I feel you.
Q1: Yeah, for sure. That all sounds super super exciting. I remember seeing just a YouTube talk that you did, or a talk on YouTube that you did about the racist history of Oregon and I definitely learned a lot. I think you did it anywhere between 3 and 5 years ago, or something like that, and I got a lot out of it.
Those are all of the questions that we had. Is there anything else you wanted to add a a part of this interview?
A: I don’t think so.
Q1: Well, Walidah Imarisha, thank you so much for coming on to this show for an extremely thought-provoking and incisive interview. Yeah, thank you so much for your time, and your energy, and for this book you’ve written. It’s been great to have you on.
A: Well, thanks so much for having me, and for creating spaces to have these conversations. There aren’t enough, so I’m thankful for the space that y’all are holding.
Q1: Yeah, absolutely.
Q2: It’s been wonderful.
A: Thank you.
Q1: Thanks for listening to our interview with Walidah Imarisha. Again, more can be found from er at www.walidah.com
For a 59 minute long, radio clean version for syndication purposes, please visit the archive.org collection. For a full version, click the link under the picture on the left.
This week I had the opportunity to speak with Margaret Killjoy about her new novella The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, which is coming out on August 15th from Tor.com. In this interview we will talk about how she got into writing genre fiction, how writing has shaped her politics, about the book itself, and about fighting a battle on a cultural front, among many other things.
If you are interested, you can come to a book release event that Killjoy will be doing at Firestorm Books and Coffee on August 15th at 7pm! You can pre-order a copy of this book from your local bookstore or from Red Emmas, an online anarchist source.
You can find more of her writings at her website, Birds Before The Storm, alongside some of music and artwork!
NC Resists a Grand Jury, Solidarity with Katie Yow!
On Monday, July 31st, people will gather in Greensboro at 9am at the Federal Courthouse, 324 W. Market St in order to support Katie Yow, who is refusing to comply with a Federal Grand Jury convening there to which she’s been subpoena’d.
And here’s an update from Katie on what she’s learned about the fgj:
“We have now learned more from the Assistant US Attorney about the subject of the federal grand jury to which I have been subpoenaed. This grand jury is looking into what the government has described as a bombing at the GOP headquarters in Hillsborough, NC this past fall. The AUSA has also indicated that they are interested in “other people” and “other events.” I don’t know anything relevant to a criminal investigation of the alleged incident at the GOP headquarters. The broad nature of the government’s interest in other information makes clear the way that this and other grand juries are used as fishing expeditions to attempt to coerce testimony on 1st amendment protected information. This is one of the many ways grand juries are used to repress social movements, and one of many reasons why we resist them.
Whatever new information we may learn about this grand jury, I will continue to refuse to cooperate. We didn’t have to know what this grand jury was about to know what we are about. Our values are long held, they are nurtured through both triumph and incredible loss, and they cannot be compromised. My resistance to this grand jury is the easiest decision I have ever made, even if the consequences may be difficult. I will continue to refuse to comply with this subpoena, and I have every faith in my community’s ability to support me in doing so.”
If yr feeling it, show up in Greensboro on Monday to show support!
If you are in Asheville on Wednesday, you are invited to attend a workshop at Firestorm Books and Coffee (610 Haywood Rd) at 7pm entitled “What Is A Grand Jury?” The discussion will be presented by the Scuffletown Anti Repression Committee.
Smashing the Fash, Every Day
Keep your eyes on your favorite anarchist news source for updates on resisting AmRen in Tennessee, which is going on today and tomorrow (7/30 and 7/31). For context, you can hear an interview that Bursts did about this resistance by searching “AmRen” on our blog. Also, keep your eyes peeled for information on resisting the far right in Charlottesville on August 12th by following the #NoNewKKK
This week, we air our conversation with Shon Meckfessel. Shon is a longtime anarchist and activist from Sacramento, CA. He has penned numerous articles and the book “Suffled How It Gush: A North American Anarchist in the Balkans.” In this interview we talk about his most recent book, “Nonviolence Ain’t What It Used To Be: Unarmed Insurrection and the Rhetoric of Resistance.” We spend the hour chatting about concepts of Nonviolence in the U.S. and how they’ve developed, the threat and use of violence in and by anti-capitalist and anti-racist social movements. The chat moves through Lockean Liberalism, Insurrectionalism, Ghandian-Kingian non-violence, Anarchism, Nihilism and more.
It was a fun chat and we talked in some real depth that we couldn’t fit into this one hour. So, we made a podcast episode that’s just over an hour PLUS another hour-long podcast of the secondary materials. The second part will soon end up as an episode as well.
At one point we talk about Rojava (the Kurdish-led, Bookchin influenced anti-capitalist revolution being run in parts of Turkey and Syria) & the Syrian Revolution and anti-authoritarian participation in it. I mention an interview that subMedia did with Robin Yassin-Kassab, a co-author of Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War,
On April 7th there will be a MARATHON BENEFIT DAY for two things, the first being a show at the Odditorium on Friday April 7th to benefit the fast approaching Asheville Anarchist Bookfaire, keep in touch with the event and request housing at https://acab2017.noblogs.org. The second will be a dance party across town at the Lazy Diamond to benefit IGNITE! NC’s efforts for May Day organizing. All door proceeds will go toward direct action training led by one of the co-organizers of the Charlotte uprising. DJd by Lamar B. and DJ Malinalli.
On April 15th, shake/run/play it out with folks at Anarchist Field Day in Asheville NC! Festivities will begin at 1pm and go til 7pm at the West Asheville Park at 198 Vermont Ave. Athletes and non athletes of all levels welcome, as well as kids!
On April 15th in Berkley CA, there will be a bloc party and cookout to oppose an alt right gathering in MLK Civic Center Park from 10am to 2pm. There will be speakers and events, bring food and games to share if you can! It’s also suggested that folks bring discreet face coverings to help keep your and others identities safe from fascist and alt right creeps, who love to doxx and harrass people over the internet.
It may come as a surprise to some that we are at the VERY BEGINNING of a week of resistance to the Trump administration and everything it stands for and has empowered. From April 1st thru 7th, actions, informational events, film screenings, and benefits will all take place across so-called North America and beyond. The purpose of the week of action is simple: to come together and push back against a wave of repression that has been growing in the United States and accelerated by the coming to power of the Trump administration.
You can check this article for more on this subject, and either plug into existing events in your area or start planning one of your own!
Free Jennifer BabyGirl Gann!
Jennifer Gann is a trans woman and anarchist prison rebel who has been held captive since 1990. While serving a seven year sentence for robbery, she became politicized during the 1991 Folsom Prison Food Strike and survived more than a decade of torture in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay SHU. She was convicted of the non-violent prison offenses and given multiple 25 year-to-life sentences under the “Three Strikes” law, but now qualifies for a sentence reduction under California’s Proposition 36 and early release under the newly enacted Prop. 57, which Governor Grown supported.
She is currently asking for help in raising just under 3 grand for a case evaluation, which will help her lawyer put together a game plan for fighting her conviction and sentence. Currently, she only has $300 saved and needs at least $1,000 for the down payment on the NLPA legal consulting fee. Donations of any amount are appreciated and can be sent to her online legal fundraiser, by cashier’s check, or money order(marked “for Jennifer Gann”) sent to:
National Legal Professional Associates
Margaret A. Robinson Advocacy Center
11802 Corney Rd., Ste. 150
Cincinnati, OH 45249
You can donate to this lovely and powerful person here
This week we are re-broadcasting an episode which originally aired in early May 2015 with Jesse Cohn who is the author of the book Underground Passages: Anarchist Resistance Culture 1848-2011, published by AK Press. In the book, Jesse explores trajectories in literature, cartoons, comics, music, poetry, drama produced at times by and or for or just conspicuously consumed by anarchists in europe, north and south america and asia during that time period. More info on the book can be found at https://www.akpress.org/
Stay tuned next week for a conversation with an anarchist who has spent a bunch of time in struggle at Standing Rock about their experiences and moving forward with an explicitely anti colonialist approach to resource extraction resistance.
But first here are some announcements
“Imperial Wizard” kicks it!
To start off with some good news, yesterday February 11th the bloated corpse of KKK Imperial Wizard Frank Ancona was fished out of the Missouri River, apparently after having been there for a hot minute. This piece of human garbage white supremacist is the bonehead who was credited with saying that Ferguson protesters, showing their rage at the police murder of Mike Brown, had awakened a “sleeping giant” in the KKK and claimed unlimited violence in “retaliation”. Who’s sleepin now, Frankie? In whatever way this death occured, here’s hoping that KKK will follow their leader in this ultimate act.
Support NC #DisruptJ20 arrestees
On January 20, 2017, tens of thousands of people converged in Washington, D.C. for the #disruptJ20 protests opposing the inauguration of Donald Trump. A combination of blockades, marches, and festive demonstrations made it clear around the world that the people do not recognize Trump’s authority or support his policies.
In response, D.C. police went on a rampage, shooting pepper spray, tear gas, and concussion grenades indiscriminately at protesters, including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. In one instance, police cordoned off an entire block and mass arrested 257 people, including dozens of North Carolinians.
This attack on political dissent is intended to create a chilling effect to keep protesters out of the streets so that Trump can move forward with his divisive agenda. We owe it to the arrestees to support them through the legal process so they can get adequate representation and as fair a hearing as possible.
A group of North Carolinian community organizers created the NC J20 Legal Defense Fund to quickly and efficiently support the arrestees from North Carolina. Please join us in donating, and spread the word to everyone who cares about civil discourse and the future of our world.
If you are a North Carolinian arrested at #disruptJ20 and are not yet in touch with us, email email@example.com
We cannot accept donations in individual’s names, but all donations will be used to provide legal support to #disruptJ20 arrestees from North Carolina.
You can donate at http://ncj20defense.com/
Antifa Sacramento medical support
From Antifa Sacramento:
One of the six antifascists who was stabbed by Neo-Nazis at the capitol building in Sacramento on June 26th, 2016 still has thousands of dollars in medical bills to pay. An artist has made a beautiful print to support this person, and it is now being sold to continue fundraising for this brave individual’s remaining medical bills. They are 5 dollars each, and printed on 7×8 cardstock. If you would like one, please head over to the website https://antifasac.noblogs.org/donate/, make a donation, and email the crew to let them know how many cards you’d like and what address we should mail it to.
Thank you for the support!
Herbal Clinic at la ZAD
From comrades at la ZAD, the autonomous occupation resisting the building of an airport in in Notre Dame des Landres outside of Paris, France:
We’re a group of people who have been working with medicinal plants on the ZAD for the past 6 years. We’ve made a collective medicinal plant garden and do wild harvesting to stock a small apothecary of dried plants that we distribute at the non-market or out of a house. Some of us do first aid in demos or everyday on the ground, and others do education like plant walks and workshops.
In an effort to have more collective autonomy in healthcare, we would like to be able to do consultations, both individual and group. The idea is to have one day a week for free price individual consultations, and another for people to come and learn together, combining different people’s knowledge while having access to plants, to figure out common acute illnesses. However, to have enough medicine for 300 people all year long, would mean full time in the garden and probably bitter burnout. Which is why we are asking for money.
Just this week a group in solidarity finished building a cabin where we can dry, process, and store plants, and do consultations and workshops. We’re able to get access to bulk tinctures that are super cheap (€2 an oz.!!!) and plan to distribute medicine at free or indicated price so that we can make some of the money back and the clinic can fund itself and time can be spend gardening instead of having to beg for money all the time. Money raised will go primarily towards tinctures and dried plants, but also to bottles, tools and machines, and menstrum for making more medicine.
Please help us out! Also if you can donate dried plants or medicine get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
This time we are rebroadcasting an episode which originally aired in March 2015 with the two authors of the book “The Inspection House”, Emily Horne and Tim Maly. In this interview we talk about the book, the idea of the panopticon, the concept of security theater as a psychologically repressive tool and much more. We decided that now would be a good time to rebroadcast this particular episode because, what with a bunch of comrades and heros ramping up in righteous ways on various fronts, it might be a good idea to re-introduce this idea of panoptic surveillance with an eye to helping spark conversations in yalls communities about security culture and keeping safe in the midst of a high key surveillance state. It’s believed that under Trump, the surveillance will only get more nightmarish and more fascistic, however we can and will adapt to this newer state of affairs.
If you are listening in Asheville, there is a protest called for at 4pm TODAY at the Atlanta airport – which is the busiest in the country – in response to Trump’s ban on Muslim people from countries including Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This has led to folks with greencards getting detained and questioned in airports all over the U.S. If you can make the drive and want to be a part of the already massive resistance, please do!
Be advised that protesting at airports is a different ballgame than in the streets, the presence of homeland security makes the possibility of being detained for lengthy periods without access to legal aid more likely. Keep yourself and your crew safe by making sure no one gets lost or separated.
Sean Swain on Hunger Strike
Sean Swain continues his hunger strike against his unfair treatment at the hands of the Ohio Department of Corrections at Warren Corruptional in Lebanon, Ohio. For those who don’t know Sean, here’s some background.
Sean Swain went to prison in 1991 for defending himself during a home invasion. He was dating and living with a woman and her kids when her abusive ex-partner and father of the kids was released from prison and came to confront Sean, who he saw as a usurper. When dude kicked in the door to the apartment Sean defended himself from what he saw was an attacker with a weapon and stabbed the man. Sean had no prior record. The home invader was related to court officials and so the case was made and Sean Swain was convicted.
As time went on, Sean became politicized in prison, developed anarchist critiques and began publishing zines with the help of outside groups like Anarchist Black Cross. As time went on, Sean became a thorn in the side of the administration of his prisons by developing and implementing skills as a jailhouse lawyer, adept at filing lawsuits on behalf of himself and other prisoners against deplorable conditions.
In 2012, Sean was charged with being an organizer with the Army of the 12 Monkeys, a guerrilla sabotage movement in the Ohio Prison system that spread ideas of resistance among prisoners and organized conflagrations in institutions. Sean denied his participation with what he called a self-styled Maoist organization, though he expressed appreciation of the content. Due to this conviction, Sean was shuttered away in super duper uber mega ultramax prisons. This is when our relationship with Sean began.
Since January 19th, 2014, we’ve aired mostly weekly installments of a segment by Sean called “You Are The Resistance”, in which Sean talks about his time inside, his ideas, shares his humor at the illogical world of politics and what he calls Swivelization and more. You can find these segments linked from Sean’s support site, http://seanswain.org, alongside his writings and updates on his case.
Sean is currently being held in a suicide cell, away from general population at Warren CI in Lebanon, Ohio, as I mentioned. He has refused to speak to administrators and refused food since December 26th of 2016, only taking water. This is worrisome as he’s no spring chicken, he’s hunger struck before, and according to word that got out a few days ago he’s dropped in weight by 28 pounds and has crossed the 30 day threshold, increasing the danger of organ and bone damage due to lack of nutrients.
Sean is striking because administration keeps throwing unwarranted charges his way and isn’t providing him with functioning means of communication with his aging parents and his supporters.
Here’s what you can do, dear listeners: you could annoy the Deputy Warden of Operations at Warren CI by calling him at 513 932 3388 extension 2005 and requesting that he seee to the repair of all broken phones at the institution holding Sean and a regular schedule of maintenance be established.
You can also call Warden’s Assistant Greg Kraft (513) 932-3388 ext. 2010 and request that they retract the charge of extortion that’s been placed on Sean and that they stop messing with our boy.
Stay Dangerous, Swainiacs, and let’s get Sean outta the hole and back on the mac n cheese.
Legal Defense for J20 Protesters
Various community defense funds have sprung up around getting support moneys to folks facing charges from arrests in Washington DC while protesting the Inauguration of Donald Kampf, I mean Trump on January 20th. On that day at around 11AM, a group of over 200 folks were kettled at the intersection of 12th & L (12L!), including journalists, medics, legal observers from the NLG & ostensibly protesters. While the kettle was valiantly charged and briefly broken, the majority of these folks inside were arrested and face felony riot charges. Likely, most of these charges will be dropped AAAAND a suit against the city and USPP and other law enforcement that kept kettled folks out in the 40 degree weather over the course of 7 hours is pending. But, check out our blog post for various fundraisers to get moneys to friends across North Carolina, in PA, Virginia, and other places who could use help covering lost wages, legal fees and travel costs outside of what’s being offered by the DisruptJ20 crew.
J20 New Orleans Arrestee Support Durham DisruptJ20 Legal Fund Pittsburghers arrested in DC Richmond Antifa of the Seven Hills defense fund
Keep your eyes out for more defense initiatives, this is by no means a complete list.
Richard Spencer got clocked and everyone loves it!
Philly antifa is also pre-emptively raising money to support the person who sucker punched alt-right pundit and nazi saluter Richard Spencer in the head on January 20th in the streets of DC. While conducting an interview and being heckled by folks around him, Richard Spencer was just reaching for his trusty Pepe the frog pin to explain the meme to the cameras when, irony of irony, he was about to become one himself. While the puncher has yet to be unmasked, don’t think that the state and autonomous right don’t want to make a trophy of them.
During a protest against a speaking engagement by over-rated, pro-genocide & anti-semetic alt-right yackjob and Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, a right winger shot an unarmed antifascist IWW organizer. The shooter later turned himself in, claiming self defense, and was released by Seattle police. The Wobbly who was shot is apparently not filing charges and is requesting dialogue. If you’d like to offer medical support to the shot antifascist, you can find a fundraising page at https://www.crowdrise.com/medical-fundraiser-for-iww-and-gdc-member-shot-in-seattle