This week we start off with a dispatch from Sean Swain, read by William. Sean is an anarchist prisoner we’ve featured commentary from over the past 2 years. Sean Swain has been under media block for the past few months, so his commentary here has been sparse. In this segment he addresses his media silencing and his bid for presidency of the U.S. in 2016. More of Sean’s writings at seanswain.org
Paul Z. Simons on Rojava, pt3
For the meat of the episode, we feature part three of Bursts conversation with Paul Z. Simons about his experience of the Rojava Revolution going on in northern Syria. The Rojava Revolution began in 2012, as an outgrowth from the insurgency of the PKK and other Kurdish groups in Turkey that’s been locked in an off-and-on civil war for 30 years. Paul, a post-left anarchist from the U.S. talks about his experiences in Rojava in October of this year of their multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, feminism revolution.
The Rojava Revolution has been described as anti-state, anti-capitalist, feminist and ecological, however in the conversations Bursts has had on what’s gone on in Rojava with students of it, little has come out in terms of how the Rojava experiment has been ecological or anti-capitalist. So, in this conversation Paul and Bursts spoke about Paul’s understanding of economic models, property rights, modes of exchange in Rojava as well as discussions of it’s war-time and long-view approaches towards ecology in Rojava.
The first two parts of this interview can be found here.
In 2012, a power vacuum formed in parts of northern Syria as a result of the civil war. These areas, part of the lands inhabited by Kurdish peoples,soon became a testing ground for an implementation of an anti-state communalism influenced in part by an American former Anarchist turned Communalist named Murray Bookchin. Bookchin’s thought helped to shape the ideas of Abdullah Ocalan, ideological leader of the Kurdish Worker’s Party, PKK, in neighboring Turkey. The people participating in what’s been branded The Rojava Revolution are organizing administration and defense based from the neighborhood councils. Popular militias are attempting to fight external enemies like the Syrian military of Bashar Al-Asaad and ISIL/Daesh as well as the internal structures which hold in most societies such as patriarchy, class division and xenophobia. Anarchists, anti-capitalists of all stripes from around the world, feminists, ecologists… these peoples and more around the world are among those engaging with the 3-year-runnning experiment of Rojava.
This week’s episode features the first of three segments of conversation with Paul Z Simons,a post-left anarchist and co-editor of Modern Slavery Magazine. Paul, writing under the name El Errante, documented his recent tripto the Rojava region in Northern Syria. This first episode will not be followed up immediately by another episode on the subject, however we are making the second and third episodes content availablealongside of this one online. If you’re in a hurry to hear the complete conversation on his observations of institutions and organizing On The Ground in Rojava, follow this link for part II and this link for part III. These segments will make their way into radio versions in the near future.
Bursts and Paul talk about Democratic Confederalism, gender, ecology, international intervention, religion, ethnicity, anti-capitalism, competing tendencies, holding tensions, international fighters and much much more
To follow the links that our guest mentioned in this interview, just click these websites below!
To see more of Paul Z. Simon’s work, you can visit this website
Next week on The Final Straw, you’ll hear a conversation with an anarchist in Spain about recent and continued repressions of anarchists in that country. Updates on that situation can be found at https://efectopandora.wordpress.com/category/english/ and for past episodes of The Final Straw check here.
At Grand Valley Institute for Women (GVI), a federal prison in Kitchener, Ontario there has been a recent crackdown against LBTQ2+ prisoners and/or prisoners in relationships amongst themselves. Intimate relationships between prisoners are being attacked by a clique of guards acting without apparent direction or oversight from the Corrections Canada administration. We need your support with a call-in campaign to end these practices.
Harassment of prisoners includes throwing them in solitary as punishment for being in a relationship, threatening them with transfers to remote parts of the country, separating partners by placing them in different parts of the prison, and laying spurious institutional charges that can lead to being locked in the maximum security unit.
Most troublingly, guards have been using physical intimidation and invasions of personal space to harass prisoners who speak up against these practices.
The prisoners have been organizing in response to these attacks, but have faced increasing repression for their efforts.
Outside support right now can make a major difference in putting a check on the repression of prisoner relationships and dissent among prisoners.
To protest this treatment, it’s asked that people call Grand Valley Institute for Women at (519) 894-2011. For more guidance about how to conduct this phone call and for updates on this situation you can visit the website https://gviwatch.wordpress.com/
This week we feature two segments concerning struggles in Europe:
Firstly, we speak with Linus. Linus is a member of an autonomous socialist group based in Malmö, Sweden, and is an organizer of the upcoming Connecting European Struggles conference in Malmö. The theme of the CES conference this year is “Gender and Crisis” and invites anti-state & anti-capitalist individuals and groups from around and beyond Europe to attend from September 18-25th to have discussions, watch films, attend presentations and engage towards a more integrated system of autonomous action and ideas. Bursts and Linus discuss the conference, the prior year’s, Crisis Politics, feminism, anti-capitalism, reaction and more. More on the conference can be found at http://connectingeuropeanstruggles.tumblr.com
Next, Bursts chats with Julnel, a member of Ü, an anarchist black metal band from Potenza, in Basilicata, southern Italy. Julnel is a founder of the The Black Metal Alliance anti-hate metal and punk collective, as well as a founder of Dark Skies Above Us Collective and Ü has contributed music to benefit compilations for both of those collectives as well as Crust or Die distro.
Recipients of the benefit funds, earned by selling albums of donated songs by similarly anti-nationalist, anti-racist, feminist, pro-LGBT (and so on) metal and punk projects and include: http://caravana43.com; Emilio (anti-fa resistor beaten by a crowd of fascists) and Dordoni Social Center in Cremona which was attacked in January of 2015 by hooligans from CasaPound; Eric McDavid; http://www.womenonwaves.org providing info, contraceptives, safe and legal abortions and more by sailing ships into intl waters around coastal countries where abortion access is prohibited; and 350.org.
These collectives (DSAU/BMA/CoD) include bands from Europe, North America, Australasia and South America. We spend about 20 minutes talking about uses of subcultures like punk and metal to engage politically by both revolutionary (for instance, RABM) and reactionary ideologies (in particular RAC & NSBM).
There is no Sean Swain segment for this week, but stay tuned for our next episode which will feature a conversation on the No New Animal Labs tour and initiative out of Washington State to stop the building of an animal testing lab at UW and fight against animal testing. We’ll also be speaking with a supporter of Jessica Burlew, an 18 year old girl diagnosed as schizoeffective and autistic, who has been held in isolation in Estrella Jail in Phoenix, Arizona, since January, 2014. She is being charged with 2nd degree murder for the accidental death of Jason Ash, a 43 year old man who was sexually exploiting her as a 16 year old. http://freejessieb.org/
The following is an update on the Resist 450 event in St. Augustine Florida, which was written on Tuesday September 8th and posted to the EarthFirst! Newswire at http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire. It should be stated that all who were arrested are now free, but the bail fund website is still active and accepting donations.
From EarthFirst!: Six people were arrested today for demonstrating against the celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Spanish invasion of so-called Saint Augustine, Florida. Arrestees are being held at the St Johns County Jail with misdemeanor charges. So far, three have been released. The support team does not have enough support to bond out all arrestees. Donations to the legal/bail fund can be sent to https://www.everribbon.com/ribbon/donate/22383
Tribal elders and the Council of the Original Miccosukee Simanolee Nation Aboriginal Peoples called for resistance demonstrations months ago. The Council asked Saint Augustine city officials not to glorify the rape, torture, displacement, enslavement, and genocide that accompanied European colonization but they were repeatedly ignored.
“Acts of genocide and crimes against humanity conducted on our ancestors by Spain is nothing to honor, glorify, commemorate or celebrate,” said clan and spiritual leader Bobby C. Billie. Billie led tradition prayers in defiance of a reenactment of a colonial landing this morning.
Other protesters took to the water. To the chagrin of haughty actors dressed in shiny hats and other aristocratic regalia, protesters held signs and chanted from kayaks, canoes, and pool floaties in the water surrounding the rowboat and forcing the boat back several times and finally reaching land with reenactors only under heavy police boat escort. More picketers disrupted the opening countdown ceremonies. They delivered messages like “celebrating 450 is celebrating genocide,” “heal the past,” “no honor no pride” and “conquest is not discovery.”
Police officers singled out and arrested four canoers participating in the water protest. On land, officers arrested two other people who interrupted a procession of dignitaries and escorted away others who called attention to the grotesque nature of the festivities.
Protester Libelula commented
“Today’s demonstrations seek to unmask St Augustine’s romanticized version of conquest as a vile glorification of the horrific and heinous acts committed against the original people’s of this territory by the Spanish Conquistadors. I’m from an indigenous background and celebrations like this one are not only offensive but also attempt to erase indigenous people’s suffering. This makes our demands for emancipation and dignity invisible. This is a blatant celebration the murder, rape, and torture of the original peoples of Turtle Island. It’s important to not let this go unchallenged.”
Anarchists across the US have been taking part in events to raise funds for the Anarchist Black Cross in cities from Denver, New York, and LA. The events, called ‘Running Down the Walls’ raise funds for the ABC Warchest, which goes to help ABC Chapters send money and literature to political prisoners across the US. The runs are conducted in US cities and inside prison walls, building solidarity between incarcerated prisoners and those on the outside. Bill Dune, anti-authoritarian political prisoner imprisoned for an attempted 1979 prison break from the King County Jail in Seattle,Washington wrote on the occasion:
“Running Down The Walls has become a fine and honored tradition on our side of the barricade. I could run like the wind in past RDTWs even where I ran alone because the sense of solidarity took away the pain of physical exertion and of distance from my community – from you all. This year, unfortunately, I will be unable to physically run with you. I’ve been relegated to FCI Herlong’s dungeon because in the agency of repression’s mythology, an anonymous note purports that I’m planning to run from them. It was most likely written by a person of the porcine persuasion actually worried I might be planning more litigation. But so it goes in life with big brother! I will be with you this day nevertheless, if not in person, in mind, in heart, in solidarity as you – as we – run, walk, roll, move however we can down the road to revolution. See you closer to the finish line!”
To write to Bill Dunne, address letters to:
Bill Dunne #10916-086
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 800
Herlong, CA 96113
The Final Straw sees fit to mention a court decision – which we wouldn’t normally do, this being a somewhat anti-state anarchist radio show – but this little number highlights a few things which interest us and relates back to the interviews we conducted in 2011 & 2013 around the hunger strikes that spread up from California prisons to include prisoners in other states and even Canada in solidarity against solitary confinement. The case in question is called Ashker v. Governor of California, and it is a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of prisoners held in the Security Housing Unit, or SHU, at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison who have spent a decade or more in solitary confinement. The case was settled by the Governor’s office on September 1st, 2015.
“The case charges that prolonged solitary confinement violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, and that the absence of meaningful review for SHU placement violates the prisoners’ rights to due process. The legal action is part of a larger movement to reform conditions in SHUs in Calfornia’s prisons that was sparked by hunger strikes by thousands of SHU prisoners in 2011 and 2013; the named plaintiffs in Ashker include several leaders and participants from the hunger strikes. The case is part of the Center for Constitutional Rights broader efforts to challenge mass incarceration, discrimination, and abusive prison policies.”
“This settlement represents a monumental victory for prisoners and an important step toward our goal of ending solitary confinement in California, and across the country. California’s agreement to abandon indeterminate SHU confinement based on gang affiliation demonstrates the power of unity and collective action. This victory was achieved by the efforts of people in prison, their families and loved ones, lawyers, and outside supporters.”
This case represents to us a huge and interesting step in our United States, which happens to be the country with the most percentage of incarcerated citizens in the world. Prison visibility in the media is at unprecedented levels, from the prison themed TV show “Orange is the New Black” to NPR coverage of prison strikes and the deleterious effects that incarceration and solitary confinement has on people. Since this particular case could not have occurred so successfully in a more apathetic social environment – support from families and on social media have been instrumental to any steam its gained – it yet again highlights to us the importance of sticking to your guns, to having strong solidarity with your comrades, friends, family, and neighbors, wherever and whenever it makes sense. So listeners, keep on talking to each other. It could lead in some great directions.
This week Bursts spoke with Steve from the Inside/Outside Alliance in Durham, NC. IOA is made up of folks with incarcerated family in the Durham County Jail, friends and concerned community members and they work to amplify and organize inside and outside (hence the name) of the jail walls to challenge the punishment those on the inside are facing.
In April of this year, Lt. Col. Natalie Perkins (who serves as Detention Director for the Durham Sheriff Michael D. Andrew’s Dept) decided to cut people’s access to out-of-cell time from up to 6 hours a day to 2 hours a week and limit their time out at the same time. This means that prisoners could maybe expect to take a shower and make a 2AM call to their family/lawyer once a week. The reasons for this change have shifted over the months from costs to potential danger to prisoners and Detention Officer’s safety. The end result is an increased pressure on the mental health of the inmates, leading a greatly increased number of suicide attempts (so much so that the Sheriff’s dept just requested funds to make the cells more suicide-proof rather than decrease the pressure on those they imprison).
Alongside of this is the increased cost and decreased quality of services available to those incarcerated at DCJ due to privatization of aspects. Aramark‘s medical services have doubled the rate for medical visits from $10-$20 each. Food under another service by Aramark has down-shifted from 3 hot meals to 2 sandwiches daily. The facility is contractually obliged to provide a certain number of inmates for Aramark to feed and to extract labor from in serving and cleaning up after their food services. And if an inmate’s too hunger after their 4pm dinner of a sandwich, they are certainly free to buy junk food from the Aramark canteen if they have money in their commissary (via I-Care & FreshFavorites, both brands of Aramark). TouchPay services for putting money on an inmate’s commissary account charges a $5 and some cent fee each time you use it and the DCJ has drastically cut back the hours of the fee-free window with a teller to help you make the transaction.
On top of all of this, the jail doesn’t allow inmates to have pencils (ostensibly in case they become improvised weapons), so the only time that they can write to family, friends or their lawyers is during that 2 hour window a week. Their only way of making complaints is a receipt-free service using their TPay console, the same as they use to check their commissary.
The extractive and frighteningly Kafka-esque circumstances at this facility, one which like most in the United States disproportionately incarcerates poor people and people of color is certainly not one of a kind. To check out the work that folks at Inside/Outside and the inmates at Durham County Jail are doing, check out their website and listening page at http://amplifyvoices.com
In the last ten minutes we hear 2 aggressive musical tracks. Firstly, Ast from their recent split with Ancst (both German anarchist Black Metal projects) we hear the track Von Einem Ende.
Finally, we close out hearing Human Wreck with Liquid Savior from their album, Catch 22. Human Wreck is from Athens, Greece.
Over the hour, Hilary talks about her 7 years of living in Chiapas and recording the stories and experiences of women there, collecting stories on their behalf. The book covers the Zapatistas experiences before the EZLN uprising of 1994, during that period and after. Discussion address what gender, indigeneity and class looked like and how that’s changed in the Zapatista communities, the state of Chiapas and in Mexico. William and Hilary also explore the effects that the EZLN & La Otra Compaña have had on radicals and anarchists abroad, the origins of the EZLN, some parallels and distinctions between anarchism and Zapatismo and much more.
This week, we’re excited to present a conversation with Saralee Stafford and Neal Shirley, editors and authors of a new book out from AK Press entitled “Dixie Be Damned: 300 years of Insurrection in the American South”. The book is a study of Maroon, Indigenous, White, Black, worker, farmer, slave, indentured, women and men wrestling against institutions of power for autonomy and self-determination. All of this in a region stereotyped to be backwards, slow, lazy, victimized and brutal. The editors do a smash-bang job of re-framing narratives of revolt by drawing on complex and erased examples of cross-subjectivity struggles and what they can teach us today about current uprisings in which we participate.
Throughout the hour we explore some of the examples that became chapters in the book, critiques of narrative histories and academia and what new ways forward might be towards an anarchist historiography. Keep an ear out for Saralee and Neal’s book tour, coming to a bookspace near you.
This week on The Final Straw, we feature an update from Sean Swain, who’s just been moved along with other people in his security level at Ohio State Prison in Youngstown to SOCF Lucasville. Information on his new call-in campaign can be found at: http://seanswain.org/support-sean-resisting-harassment-at-socf/
His new address is:
P. O. Box 45699
1724 State Rt. 728
Lucasville, Ohio 45699
For the majority of the episode, a comrade in Greece has provided us with interviews concerning the resistance to the gold extraction and refining destroying Mt Skouries in Chalkidiki, Greece. The mining and refining are going to line the pockets of the Vancouver-headquartered company called Eldorado Gold Corporation. Resistance to this mining in Northeastern Greece has been in it’s current phase since 2006.
First, we’ll hear portions of our friend’s conversation with a young activist and her mother at a blockade on Skouries about some of the economic alternatives locals are trying to create to remove reliance on mining jobs that destroy their land, air and water. They also speak about the resistance as it’s developed over the years and some of the methods Eldorado Gold Corp has been trying to implement to drain the water-table in the mountain in order to aid the mining process.
Next, our friend speaks with Heli and a friend about more of the history of resistance to the mining there, changes in organizing that’ve occurred, waves of repression by the Greek State. They’ll also touch briefly on expectations (or the lack thereof) among the residents of that region of the current leftist Syriza regime’s political will to stop the destruction of the environment around Skoures. The Syriza Party’s Energy Minister, Panagiotis Lafazanis, has pledged to do everything it can within the law to block the Skouries mining by Eldorado Gold Corp.
Prior to the main portion of this week’s episode, we hear a Sean Swain segment and also Ben Turk comes on to talk about difficulties Sean’s currently facing (for instance beginning a hunger strike on Monday due to shenanigans by officials at OSP, where Sean is being held, and possibly JPAY (the company that contracts communication with Ohio’s DRC) that have limited his communications again.
The majority of this week’s episode is a conversation with incarcerated members of the Free Alabama & Mississippi Movements. The FAMMC (now including inmates in California as well) is an inmate-drive non-violent, civil disobedience movement with the goal of bettering the situations of prisoners, challenging the profits of prison corporations and departments of correction, ending the impunity of wardens and guards and abolishing the “new slavery” of mass incarceration in the U.S.
Due to the poor connection with the guests, some of the audio is difficult to hear, so a transcript should be posted in a few days at ashevillefm.org/the-final-straw where this post can be found and later at thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org (oh yeah? where is that, now?)
Melvin Ray (aka Bennu Hannibal Ra(y)-Sun) at St. Clair Correctional Facility/SCCF and R.EARL (aka Kinetic Justice Amun) at Holman/HCF near Atmore, AL, two founders of the Free Alabama Movement along with a member of the Free Mississippi Movement break down mass incarceration, the forms of struggle they’re taking, the economic underpinning to prison labor and prison privatization, issue of sanitation, diet, cost to inmates and family of incarceration, assault and rape in Women facilities, networking across state borders… M & Kinetic also talk about the recent lock-downs at their facilities.
An upcoming way for folks around the country to get involved in this movement is to share the information of the FAMMC with folks on the inside and try to help them to get involved in the movement. Keep up on the upcoming pushes to protest at and outside of prisons around Alabama, Mississippi and more by checking out their facebook and twitter pages. These groups are planning to focus demonstrations and campaigns against McDonalds Restaurants (which use prison labor to make it’s burger patties, uniforms and more) and other businesses that are all around us that contract prisoner labor to make a profit.
These folks run a weekly (often up to 3 times a week) podcast-radio show called The People’s Platform that can be listened to and called into when live or found as archives. More on this show can be found at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/freealabamamovement
A recent report about the violence (sexual and otherwise) perpetrated by officials against the prisoners at the Juliet Tutwiler Women’s Facility in Alabama (at which the current warden of St. Clair, Curtis Davenport, who’s overseen this rise of violence was once an official), check out this US DOJ report from January of last year: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/documents/tutwiler_findings_1-17-14.pdf
“This week features a conversation with attorney, educator and trans activist, Dean Spade about his new book, “Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the limits of law”, just out from South End Press. Normal Life is a finalist for the 2012 Lambda Literary Awards. Follow Mr. Spade’s writing at http://www.deanspade.net/”
In the conversation, we discuss “mainstreaming” efforts by liberal LGBTQI organizations towards pressing for same-sex marriage, removal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, hate crimes legislation and other reformist measures in the U.S. Dean contrasts these efforts and visions with abolitionism. We also discuss calls for justice in the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin, attempts to reform aspects of the Prison Industrial Complex and discuss Foucaultian models of power in society.
Following the interview, we featured tracks from Skaphe, Youth Avoiders, Oblivionation and more for the last half of an hour.
Today’s show features an interview with the Portland-based author and activist, Kristian Williams. Williams speaks on his first book, Our Enemies in Blue (a history of policing in America), on recent articles about community policing and the counterinsurgency training shared between the U.S. military and domestic law enforcement agencies and the growing movement calling for the abolition of police in the United States, and the Pacific Northwest in particular).