This week on The Final Straw we’ll be airing the second half of our interview with anarchist, author and cartoonist nonagenarian, Donald Rooum from Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. Donald has written introductions to anarchism and has been a leading organizer in movements in the U.K. against nuclear war, the death penalty and the use of corporal punishment against children in schools. This summer, Bursts and William found their way to London and were delighted to sit down and chat with Donald in the East End hear his stories.
In the first portion of this chat, which aired on July 29th, 2018, Donald spoke about his beginnings in anarchism, his art studies, his time creating the Wildcat comics for which he’s best known, anarchists of his time from the 1940’s through today and his activism mentioned above.
Now, you’ll hear about Donald Rooum’s “15 minutes of fame” in which he was nicked on his way to a demonstration against a visit to London by King Paul of Greece and Queen Frederika in 1963 and charged by Detective Sergeant Harold “Tanky” Challenor for carrying a brick to the demonstration. The problem for Donald is that the brick was placed in his pocket by Challenor while he was in police custody. The problem for Challenor is that Donald was smart enough to realize this, collect the proof of the framing attempt and successfully defend himself in court against the charges. In what became known as the “Challenor Affair”, Donald’s self-defense shook the public trust in policing in the U.K. and lead to the Detective Sergeant’s downfall for corruption. Donald also talks about the case that overshadowed the “Challenor Affair” at the time, known as the Profumo Affair. After that, Donald defends the work of Max Stirner on Egoism, Benjamin Tucker’s translation and it’s mistakes, Eddie Shaw (mentioned in this libcom article) and the Glasgow anarchists of the 1940’s, multi-generationality in anarchism, human nature and anarchism, Rojava, and Murray Bookchin. Of note, Donald confuses Murray Bookchin’s “Social Ecology” ideas with the “Deep Ecology”, which Bookchin railed against.
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Support The Virgin Island 3
Philly Anarchist Black Cross is asking people to write letters in support of the Virgin Island 3. The Virgin Island Five (aka Fountain Valley Five) are group of activists wrongly convicted of murdering eight people in 1973 at the Rockefeller-owned golf course in St. Croix. They were all in their early twenties when they were rounded up with hundreds of others and forced confessions were obtained. Because now only three are held in prison, they are now referred to as the Virgin Island 3. There is a campaign to commute the sentences of Abdul Azeez (aka Warren Ballentine), Hanif Shabazz Bey (aka Beaumont Gereau) and Malik Bey (aka Meral Smith) as they have been in prison for 46 years for a crime they deny committing. You can find more on this, including addresses to write and numbers to all and more about the campaign at https://phillyabc.wordpress.com/vi3-campaign/
This week’s episode is part one of two (keep an eye out for part two in the future). Most of this show post is notes about repression updates, calls to take part in demonstrations and to support repressed prisoners. YAY!
This week, we invite you to listen in on the first part of a conversation we had with 90 year old anarchist, cartoonist and author, Donald Rooum. Donald was born 1928 in Bradford, UK. Donald is most known for his longtime illustration of the wiley, bomb-throwing, firebrand anarchist cartoon character, Wildcat. In this episode, Donald talks about his early political trajectory and development from childhood involvement during World War II in a Communist Party front group into anarchism via the speakers corner in Hyde Park. Donald talks about the Malatesta Anarchist Club, his artistic development and love of cartooning and engagement with activism to stop corporal punishment in schools in the U.K. and ideas about social change and anarchist intervention.
Donald’s work was recently the focus of an animated film by film-maker Adam Luis-Jacob. Here’s a brief biography with some of Donald’s art (including some Wildcat comics).
Some notes from the conversation (followed by announcements):
“Sean Swain, a long-term anarchist prisoner in Ohio, has come under fire by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The ODRC has increased Sean’s security level from 3 to 5b, an increase that has sent him to solitary confinement, led to him being handcuffed during visits, and further removed him from any possibility for parole. Additionally, the ODRC is threatening to put Sean on interstate compact, a system that ships subversive prisoners around the country, places heavy restrictions on communication, and interns them in the black hole of the interstate compact system. We’re calling for any who feel compelled by Sean’s plight to call ODRC director Gary Mohr and demand that Sean’s appeal to the current disciplinary hearing be granted and that Sean’s security level be lowered. (A script for the call can be found below.)
“I am calling on behalf of Sean Swain, inmate #243-205. I am a friend of Sean. I am calling to request the ODRC grant Mr. Swain’s appeal regarding his most recent disciplinary record, drop the charges, and lower his security level from 5b to 2. Mr. Swain is not a physical security risk, and there is no reason to keep him at such a high security rating where he will be unable to get the programming he needs to be eligible for rehabilitation and parole. Thank you for your consideration.”
In prisoner news, we’d like to start off with a little bit of positivity:
Nicole Kissane, indicted in 2015 for conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act via releasing thousands of animals from fur farms and destroying breeding records in Idaho, Montana, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, was released after 21 months in federal prison. She still has 3 years of supervised release, but she’s out from behind the actual bars. Welcome home, Nicole!
In local concerns:
If you’re in the Asheville area next weekend, August 3-5, consider Pansy Fest II, a DIY queer/trans music and art festival. The fun starts at 2pm on Friday the 3rd at the Mothlight with a full-ticket of bands and ending out with a dance party til 2am. The weekend includes workshops at Firestorm Books & Coffee with more shows & after parties. Proceeds will go to support the Trans Kindred Fund & Tranzmission Prison Project. More info on their fedbook, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
And now a few updates from the world of anti-fascist street presence:
First, coming up fast in early August, fascist and proto-fascist groups are trying to build up some steam for the one year anniversary of the Unite The Right rally on August 12th. The Islamophobic and Western Chauvinist groups Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys are calling for a demonstration and plan to amass a large and likely violent mob in Portland, OR, on August 4th. Antiracists are organizing under #AllOutPDX & #StopTheHate. So a coalition called PopMob, or popular mobilization, is organizing a broad event on August 4th at 10:30 at PDX city hall and then moving at 11:30 to join the larger event at Chapman Square. You can find more information by checking itsgoingdown.org, or finding the events on fedbook called “Stop The Hate” and “Resist Patriot Prayer”. The latter is being called by Eugene Antifa & other groups and will meet up at 11:30 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
Then a week later on the east coast of the so-called U.S. on August 12th there is a call for an Antifascist/Abolitionist Bloc to join the resistance to the far right’s call for the Unite The Right 2 at a time and place to be announced on the site ShutItDownDC.org and news can be found under the tag #DefendDC & #AllOutDC.
On August 30th in Philadelphia, PA at 13th and Filbert there will be a rally during the hearing of imprisoned journalist, intellectual and former Black Panther, Mumia Abu-Jamal. From 8am til 11am people are asked to show up in support of this man who has spent nearly 40 years in prison, 30 of it in solitary on death row, for a political show trial for the killing of a cop many believe he didn’t commit. Whether he did or didn’t, Mumia was obviously railroaded for his political beliefs and his reporting critical of the Philly PD & the administration of Frank Rizzo. More on the event, including the nature of the current legal motion, can be found on fedbook.
#August21 Repression Starts
People are pushing back. For starters:
Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan
There is a phone zap in support of Lucasville Uprising prisoner and death row inmate, Siddique Abdullah Hasan, a voice you’ve heard on this show before. Hasan, a member of the Free Ohio Movement and outspoken activist behind bars for peoples dignity, is believed to be suffering similar repression as he did in the run up to the 2016 National Prison Strike. He has been transfered into the hole, likely as a way to shut him up. There is a phone zap called by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee on Monday, July 30th between 9am and 5pm central time. Details forthcoming on the fedbook event.
Kevin “Rashid” Johnson
Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, a leader of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (NABPP) and member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), whose organizing was discussed in DHS/FBI fusion center “terrorism threat assessment” publications as far back as 2009 (page 50) is being kept in solitary confinement after being given an “inciting a riot” charge for writing an article about the Operation PUSH strikes in Florida, and has faced punitive transfer after transfer.;
Keith “Comrade Malik” Washington
Keith “Malik” Washington, a Texas inmate who is also involved with the NABPP and IWOC, has spent the past two years in ad-seg (solitary confinement) on a bogus riot charge connected to his involvement in the 2016 prison strike. He was due to be released from ad-seg, but then had his clearance abruptly revoked and was sent back to solitary on the grounds that the classifications committee had “received additional information” from the Fusion Center in Texas. He has also had issues with medical information about his health issues mysteriously disappearing, leading to the administration putting him in dangerous situations, and is currently being held in an extremely hot and humid punishment cell that he describes as being like “a living hell” and causing headaches, nosebleeds and dizziness.;
Jason Renard Walker
Meanwhile, Jason Renard Walker, another Texas inmate involved with the NABPP and the 2016 strikes, and a contributor to the Fire Inside zine, has managed to get released from solitary, but faces constant threats and harassment from staff, including threats to send him back to solitary on bogus charges for things as simple as asking for water and medical attention, and trying to get back into his own cell so he can use a fan to cool down.
Both Malik and Jason have reported having their mail tampered with, and the explicitly political nature of this censorship was made clear in a conversation with a prison official who told Jason that any writing containing the words “black panther” would be treated as gang material.
Supporting the prison strike means monitoring and opposing the repressive methods that the prison system uses to try and break it, and paying attention to the treatment of 2016 strike organizers like Rashid, Malik, Jason and others can indicate the tactics that are likely to be used more widely in the weeks to come.
Numbers and scripts to call in with for Malik’s situation:
Malik has specifically requested a call-in campaign urging Texas legislators to investigate the conditions at the McConnell Unit. Below are some details of Texas legislators and TDCJ officials, along with a suggested script you can use:
John Whitmire, chair of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee –
“Hello, my name is —-, and I am contacting you about conditions in the prisons run by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
I demand that the dangerous conditions of extreme heat and humidity that are widespread in units such as the McConnell and Telford Units are fully investigated and rectified immediately. I further request that immediate heat relief measures are put in place, as this is especially urgent for prisoners with health issues.
The prison administration needs to stop the retaliation and harassment of whistleblowers such as Keith Washington (TDCJ 1487958) and Jason Walker (TDCJ 1532092). This retaliation includes, but is not limited to, unjustified use of solitary confinement as a punishment for constitutionally protected speech, denial of parole applications, and direct threats of harm. Please be aware that the State of Texas and the TDCJ may be held legally responsible for any harm suffered by these or any other inmates as a result of the administration’s negligence or punitive actions.
The practice of giving guards quotas of disciplinary reports to meet must also be stopped at once, as this leads to the generation of false or trivial reports as a way of meeting quotas.
In closing, I also wish to state my support for the demands of the ongoing prison strike movement.
Other ways to help Malik:
1. *Finding legal representation*
Malik has stated that he urgently needs professional legal help in challenging the various forms of harassment he has been subjected to, particularly the interference with his mail. If you know of any sympathetic lawyers or other legal-minded folk who might be able to help, please contact them and ask if they could take the case on.
2. *Write to the comrades!*
Every letter they receive lifts their spirit and protects them, because it lets prison officials know they have people around them, watching for what happens to them. It should also be possible to contact them via jpay.com if you prefer.
Keith H. Washington, #1487958
3100 South Emily Drive
Beeville, TX 78103
Jason Renard Walker, #1532092
3899 Hwy 98
New Boston, TX 75570
Kevin Johnson, #1007485
Sussex 1 State Prison
24414 Musselwhite Dr.
Waverly, VA 23891
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Margaret Killjoy is an author, designer, musician, cartoonist and a proponent of an artisanal anti-civiliization anarchism called Post-Civ. We speak about subcultures, storytelling, technology and myth.