This week I am very excited to present an interview done with Aishah Shahidah Simmons, who is a writer, community organizer, prison abolitionist, and cultural worker who has done just an immense amount of work over the years to help disrupt and end the patterns of sexual abuse and assault within marginalized communities. In this interview we talk about a lot of things, her background and how she came to be doing the work she’s doing right now, how better to think about concepts like ‘accountability’, what doing this work has been like for her as an out lesbian woman, and about her book “Love WITH Accountability, Digging Up the Roots of Childhood Sexual Abuse” which was published in 2019 from AK Press.
This interview feels very important for me right now, because we are in a time of overturn, tumult, stress, and uncertainty, and I think that in order for us to really be able to knuckle down and go in this for the long haul it’ll be imperative for our radical communities to take solid care of ourselves and of each other. I hope you get as much out of hearing Aishah’s words as I did conducting and editing this interview.
Before we get started, as a content notice: we will be talking about some difficult topics in this interview. I will do my best to repeat this notice at regular intervals, but please do take care and treat yourself kindly (however that looks).
If you are interested in seeing more work from Aishah, visit our blogpost or scroll down to the show notes! We will post all the links in those places.
If you are interested in reading her book, Love WITH Accountability, AK Press is doing a limited time sale on all their books on their website. Visit akpress.org for more info.
To help support community bookstores at this time of greater economic precarity for such places, consider visiting our affiliates Firestorm Books, who are currently doing online sales from their brick and mortar location. More about how to order at firestorm.coop!
To keep up with Aishah, for updates on future projects and more:
Being Out Here For The Prisoners in NC / Mesh Networks
This week we feature two portions to this podcast bonus, two abolitionists in North Carolina talk about detention issues during and after Covid-19. Then Grant Gallo of Sudo Mesh talks about community mesh data networks and alternative infrastructure for autonomy.
First we’ll hear from two prison activists based in the Durham and Asheville, North Carolina about critical situations around incarceration in this state including but not limited to the Covid-19 outbreak. Jules is a member of Blue Ridge Anarchist Black Cross, a local abolitionist group that works around popular education around incarceration and anti-repression for movement work. Katie is an anarchist legal and anti-prison activist.
After that, you’ll hear Grant Gallow from Sudo Mesh talk about Peoples Open Network and Disaster Radio. We’ll hear about collaborative, community mesh network projects as peer-to-peer internet in general and about the idea behind Disaster Radio, a minimalist digital messaging system in case the cellphone, landline or power grid goes down in a dire circumstances. You can find out more at the website, disaster.radio
Join us for a film screening and discussion of the short documentary film “Condemned,” which tells the story of Bomani Shakur (or Keith Lamar) who is on death row for five murders he did not commit or play any part in during the 1993 Lucasville Prison uprising.
Bomani was recently scheduled for execution in November, 2023. His many advocates and loved ones called for a month of action in April to publicize the biased legal process that led to Bomani’s conviction, involving gross prosecutorial misconduct including failure to provide exculpatory evidence during discovery as required by law.
** A link will be posted in the facebook event on the day of the screening that people can click to join at the event start time! **
After the film we’ll hold a discussion including how people can support Bomani in continuing to fight for his life.
Doing For Selves: Open Source Supplies and Tenant Organizing
Welcome to a podcast special from The Final Straw. While William is was busy producing an episode featuring voices of medical professionals and activists inside and out of prison to talk about the impacts of covid-19 on incarcerated people for broadcast, I had a couple of conversations about work folks are doing on the outside that I’d like to share.
Sean Swain [00:08:06-00:15:12]
Hacking To Fight Covid-19
First, I spoke with Bill Slavin of Indie Lab, space in Virginia that is in the process of shifting it’s purpose since the epidemic became apparent from an broader scientific and educational maker space to work on the manufacturing and distribution of covid-19 related items in need such as testing kits, medical grade oxygen, ventilators and 3d printed n95 quality masks for medical professionals to fill public health needs. Bill talks generally about the ways that community and scientists can come together through mutual aid to deal with this crisis left by the inaction of the government on so many levels. They are also crowd-sourcing fundraising for scaling up their production and facilities and there’s a link in our show notes on that. The platform that Bill talks about in the chat is known as Just One Giant Lab, or JOGL. Consider this an invitation for makers to get involved.
Organizing With Your Neighbors For Homes and Dignity
Then, I talked to Julian of Tenants United of Hyde Park and Woodlawn in Chicago. What with all of the talk about rent strikes in the face of such huge leaps in unemployment during the spread of covid-19 and accompanying economic collapse, I thought it’d be helpful to have this chat to help spur on these conversations of how we seize power back into our hands while we’re being strangled by quarantine and hopefully afterwards. You can learn more about the group Julian works with at TenantsUnitedHPWL.Org. Philadelphia Tenants Union and Los Angeles Tenants Union were both mentioned and will be linked in the show notes, alongside a reminder that the national Autonomous Tenants Union Network (ATUN) is being organized and folks can reach out to Philly TU or LA TU via email to get onto their organizing zoom calls. Finally, if you’re in the Chicago area and need a lawyer for housing, check out Lawyers Committee For Better Housing online at lcbh.org. Julian also mentioned squatting of homes in southern CA owned by the state, here’s a link to an article.
WNC Mutual Aid Projects
Linked in our show notes is also a googledoc that Cindy Milstein and others are helping to keep updated that lists many mutual aid projects that have sprung up all over concerning the exacerbation of capitalism by the covid-19 crisis, as well as a similar page up from ItsGoingDown.Org
If you’re in so-called Western NC and want to get involved, the project Asheville Survival Project has a presence on fedbook and is soliciting donations of food and sanitary goods for distribution to indigent, bipoc, elder and immune compromised folks in the community. We’ll link some social media posts on the subject that list our donation sites around Asheville in the show notes and you can venmo donations to @AVLsurvival.
And check our show notes for an invitation to call the NC Department of Public Safety and Governor’s offices to demand the release of NC prisoners susceptible to infection and possible death of Corona Virus in the NC system due to improper care. Wherever you are listening, consider getting together with others and calling jails, prison agencies and the executive branches to demand similarly the release of AT THE VERY LEAST the aged, infirm, folks in pre-trial detention, upcoming release or who are held because they can’t pay bail.
North Carolina Corrections Department-Prison Division
My name is ________, and I am a North Carolina resident deeply concerned about the safety of the states’s incarcerated people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Incarcerated people have a unique vulnerability to disease due to their crowded, unsanitary living conditions and lack of access to adequate medical care. For humanitarian reasons as well as reasons of public health, we call for the immediate release of all people in the North Carolina prison system. We also urge that you stop the intake of new prisoners during the pandemic. The cost of failing to take these steps will be paid for in human lives, and we refuse to abandon our neighbors and loved ones to die in lockup.
Even while the world burns, our 10th anniversary still approaches and we’re still soliciting messages from you, our listenership. Not sure what to say, likely you have a LOT of time on your hands, so go back through our archives and dive in. If you want a deep dive, visit our website where you can find hundreds of hours of interviews and music. If you want to drop us a line, check out the link in the show notes, or you can leave a voicemail or signal voice memo at +18285710161, you can share an audio file with the google drive associated with the email email@example.com or send a link to a cloud stored audio filed to that email address. Tell us and listeners what you’ve appreciated and or where you’d like us to go with this project.
If you appreciate the work that we do here at TFS, you can also help us out by making a donation if you have extra cash rustling around. The link on our site called Donate/Merch will show you tons of ways. If, like most of us, money is super tight at the moment, no prob, we struggle together. You can share our show with other folks to get these voices out there and more folks in the conversation. And if you REALLY like us and have a community radio station nearby who you’d be excited to have us air on for free, get in touch with us and we’ll help. The page on our site entitled Radio Broadcasting has lots of info for radio stations and how to let them know you want us on the airwaves. Thanks!
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From Monument To Masses – Sharpshooter – The Impossible Leap In One Hundred Simple Steps
COVID-19 and the Prison System: 5 Voices from the Front Lines of Resistance
Today we have a show about COVID-19, specifically how the pandemic is being handled in prisons and detention. This show includes a lot of voices, and we structured it that way in order to both include as many perspectives as we could and also to take some of the expectation that interviewees speak to us for an extended period; everyone who is working on this is very busy and we wanted to respect that.
In this show you’ll hear from:
– Rebekah Entralgo who works with the non profit Freedom for Immigrants,
– Finn, a healthcare worker and member of Mutual Aid Disaster Relief (MADR) working in an outbreak epicenter here in North Carolina,
– Elijah Prioleau who is incarcerated at Waupun Correctional in Wisconsin, where there is a COVID-19 outbreak and they are currently on lockdown,
– and JM and Nikkita of (among other groups) COVID-19 Mutual Aid in Seattle, which is at the outbreak epicenter in the Pacific Northwest.
Because I couldn’t include everything that each person said in full, and frankly that was the hardest part about editing, I’m making a page on our collection at archive.org which will include each interview in full. Just give me until tomorrow to get that up, cause my eyes are starting to cross from all the radio related screen time!
Many thanks go out to everyone who was interviewed, and a special thanks to Ben Turk and the folks at Forum for Understanding Prisons who passed along his phone call with Elijah. More about them, their updates, and lists of demands can be seen at prisonforum.org
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To write to Elijah at Waupun Correctional, address letters to:
Leon Elijah Prioleau 420053
Waupun Correctional Institution
PO Box 531
Waupun, WI 53963-0351
To get plugged into mutual aid efforts in Asheville, you can follow the Asheville Survival Project on Facebook, and if you are interested in donating to these efforts in our town the venmo is @AVLsurvival.
List of people and projects that I’m aware of who are boosting prisoner’s voices right now:
Kite Line Radio, which has a Coronavirus call in line for people who are both impacted by incarceration and by Coronavirus, that is 765-343-6236
Today you’ll hear Bursts interview Pepe, an anarchist from so called Connecticut. As of September 4th 2019, Pepe has been sentenced to 5 years in prison on federal charges. In this interview he speaks on a range of topics related to the prison industrial complex, from detailing how prosecutors operate within the “criminal justice” system, to his personal experience in preparing with his family for his incarceration. Folks can support Pepe and his family by visiting his record label at diybandits.bandcamp.com.
He will be releasing his own podcast soon at preparingforfreedom.org. We will announce when these episodes drop so stay tuned!
We talk about harm, entitlement as relates to positions of power like masculinity or whiteness in our cultures, the need for connection engrained into our biology and sociality, accountability and healing among other topics.
Next weekend is the Another Carolina Anarchist Bookfair (or ACAB) happening in Asheville, NC. Events start on Friday with a welcome table at Firestorm from 1-7pm. Simultaneously, there’ll be presentations on Veganism and non-violent direct action, trans-national and indigenous poetry, anti-racism in Appalacha, Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement and anarchism in Puerto Rico. That night, Pansy Fest begins with a show at Sly Grog Lounge at 7pm. This sparks a weekend of activities from 11am til 2am around the city. If you want to learn more about either event, check out acab2019.noblogs.org and pansycollective.org or give a re-listen to our August 4th episode of The Final Straw. And please come visit our table if you’re in town on Saturday or Sunday and say hi.
Sean Swain’s 50th Bday
We’re lucky enough to include Sean Swain in this week’s broadcast. If you’ve been missing him on your radio emissions, you can find a link to his audio essays up at our website, he produces one every week, find updates on him at Sean Swain.org or now follow him on twitter at @SwainRocks. Please be aware that his 50th birthday is coming up on September 12th, so send him some loving kindness. Also, if you’re in town for ACAB, swing by The Final Straw table on Saturday, August 24th before noon to participate in a birthday surprise for Sean. Shhh, don’t tell him.
There are some updates on the case of anarchist prisoner, Eric King up at his support site, supportericking.org. And stay tuned to our website and podcast stream for some special audios about him. Also, keep an ear out for the August 2019 episode of BADNews in the same places.
Cindy Milstein is an anarchist, activist and author who was a touring few months back with Rebellious Mourning: The Collective Work of Grief, published last year by AK Press. The book is compilation of essays by various authors about loss in it’s myriad forms experienced under cis-hetero-patriarchy, in a capitalist settler colonialism, anti-Black and otherwise racist, able-ist society. After Cindy came to speak at Firestorm Books in October 2018, we sat down for a LONG chat. In this FIRST hour, Cindy shares thoughts on the following topics and more: a prior book they put together, Taking Sides (AK Press, 2015); the process of making Rebellious Mourning and creating “brave spaces” for engaging with hard topics; prefiguration during the anarchist summer camp they help organize called the “Institute for Advanced Troublemaking”; and multi-generational care and care-taking in anarchist communities.
When I say the conversation was long, I mean that we recorded for about two and a half hours. We present the first hour here for radio audiences. We’re also going to do an out of the ordinary for us thing, which is that we’re going to release the second half along side it. You’ll find part two linked in this blog post soon, so you can listen to the both back to back if you choose. Next week, this second half will air for radio audiences but our podcast listeners will get a special treat because in place of a new Final Straw episode,, we’ll be sharing a new episode of our occasional tech security from an anarchist perspective podcast, Error451. So, stay tuned for the voice of someone engaged in spreading tools of encryption for free to help you to protect your right to whisper.
First, we happy to announce that we’ll should be airing this Sunday at 12pm Pacific time for the first of many broadcasts on the airwaves of KFUG-LP, Crescent City in Del Norte County in California. KFUG broadcasts at 101.1fm and streams on the website kfugradio.org!
Unist’ot’en Camp Needs Help
The Canadian State has declared an injunction against the First Nations Unist’ot’en camp blocking Transcanada from building a pipeline through their unceded territory from the Alberta Tar Sands to the east. They need folks to come and join the blockade, they have an updated asks list for donations and you can keep up by find them on social media or checking their website Unistoten.Camp
Jeremy Ricard, Prisoner Check In
Jeremy Ricard, a prisoner at David Wade Correctional in Homer, LA, has been facing repression from guards in the forms of getting maced, kept in solitary, beaten, had his personal and legal property taken and given only a paper smock for the 30 days at a time. A friend has asked folks to contact the prison and express concern about his situation and care. Jeremy Ricard’s prison number is #511078 and the Warden at David Wade is Jerry Goodwin. Warden Goodwin can be reached at (318) 927-0400
Donations & Support
If you care to support The Final Straw Radio, please consider a one-time donation via our paypal or a recurring donation via our Patreon or librepay. We have items on the Patreon and our BigCartel webstore to thank supporters including stickers, buttons, t-shirts and zines, great for the socially required gift-giving holiday season. We never charge for our audio work, so if you feel like you can kick back some cash our way, we really appreciate it! Find more info at our website by clicking the Donate/Support Button.
This week we are very pleased to present an interview with Mango and Marin, who are mental healthcare workers based in New York City. We are going to get into a lot of topics, including anarchist critiques of psychiatry, ways that anarchists can be comrades with people who have survived the psych industry, and the Earth First MAD Camp. Shoutout to Jayden for setting up this interview!
We had to cut a bunch out of the broadcast version of this interview but check out the podcast up on our website and streaming on all the apps, for much more information about how to access open dialogue style therapy and tips on how to start a MAD Camp. Also you can check out our blog for a list of further reading material from our guests, again at our website.
On Monday, October 1st at 8am sharp in Raliegh, NC, there’ll be a protest at the North Carolina Department of Public Services, which oversees prisons in the state demanding the release of prisoners from solitary confinement accused of participating in the non-violence 2018 Nationwide Prison Strike and as a reminder that people are paying attention. The DPS can be found at 831 W Morgan St in Raleigh. This jumps off a week of activity state-wide to support prisoners on the inside as a follow up to the 2018 Prison Strike.
AVL Blue Ridge ABC events this week
For folks in the Asheville area, this week will have two Blue Ridge ABC events y’all should consider taking part in. On Friday, October 5th, there’ll be a showing of the latest Trouble by sub.Media about Hip Hop as Resistance from 6:30-8 and will be followed by a discussion. Two days later on Sunday, October 7th at 5pm, BRABC will also be putting on a letter writing to reach out to political prisoners whose birthdays come up this month as well as prisoners in NC facing repression for alleged participation in the Nationwide Work Strike.
If you want to hear a great, recent podcast on the repression since the #PrisonStrike, check out the September 21st episode of Kiteline Radio. Kiteline is a weekly radio show that covers prison from inside and outside, and is a member of the Channel Zero Network of Anarchist podcasts. We’re excited to announce the addition of Rebel Steps to CZN.
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** Correction on the song announce, the first track heard was “Ghost of a Chance” by Danny Dolinger from the 1997 cassette, “Rome Wasn’t Burnt In A Day” out from Barnstorm Music**
This week on the show we feature two interviews. The first is with a volunteer at the Steady Collective, a group that self-describes as “ dedicated to promoting the wellness of people who use drugs through empowerment and respectful collaboration. Our goal is to improve overall community health by reducing the rate of drug overdose and the spread of infectious disease with education, advocacy, and direct services. “ Their ability to operate a harm reduction program around needle exchange and narcan distribution to stop overdoses in the midst of the #opiodCrisis in Appalachia is being threatened by the city of Asheville. Here’s the website for 12 Baskets, the food distribution program out of Kairos West.
Then I spoke with Mary Ratcliff, the editor of 27 years of the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper, with a print distribution of 20,000 copies around the U.S., including thousands behind bars. For the hour, Mary talks about the history of the paper, it’s relationship with prisoners and prison struggles and the difficulties faced by the poor and populations of color in white supremacist capitalism in the so-called U.S.
A12 in D.C., Cville & Boston
Last weekend witnessed far right, nazi-affiliated, sexist, homophobe rallies in Portland and Berkeley, which I’m sure folks are aware of. Patriot Prayer and Proud Boy goons schlepped their way out from under rocks in their goofy-ass larping costumes to spit their deranged and hateful screeds and threaten and attack counter-demonstrators where they could. And the police helped by holding back and assaulting the anti-racists at both events with pepper spray, batons, tear gas and rubber bullets, as well as legal charges. Big ups to the brave folks who came out to stem the tide of hate on the West coast, and also a big a thanks to the comrades who came out in Providence, R.I. where they were able to shut that crap down real fast.
This weekend the year anniversary of the August 11th Torch Rally and August 12th Unite The Right Rally in Charlottesville approaches. On Sunday, August 12th in Cville there’s a day of events of remembrance and mourning starting at 9am in Washington Park. The police presence has been shown to be huge in the runup to this weekend with Martial Law and States of Emergency declared by local and state officials, leave for police being suspended, and swaths of the city shut down and blockaded. Follow #AllOutCville for updates. In Washington, D.C., haters are trying to put on a second UTR to draw their morons in swastika and Pinochet shirts and confederate bafoons into the streets. Information about what’s happening and how to congregate against it can be found at https://shutitdowndc.org/ . And check out the ItsGoingDown’s “This Is America #24” for voices from the ground in DC & Cville.
On August 15th in Boston there is planned a Town Hall Meeting at the Arlington St Church in preparation for the counter-demonstration on August 18th at the MA State House to shut down the far-right hate front group, “Resist Marxism”. More info at http://bit.ly/fight-right-boston
Be safe out there, cops and klan go hand in hand. Bring water, watch out for your friends, don’t leave alone.
Worker’s Assembly Asheville
On Monday, August 20th at 6pm and every 3rd Monday of the month, the Asheville IWW is hosting a service industry workers assembly at Kairos West. If you work in food serice, retail, hospitality, breweries, or other service industries and don’t have the right to hire or fire, come by and join the discussion on issues facing your ilk including wages and hours, but also issues such as racism and gendered violence that workers face in and outside of their workplaces. The discussions are aimed at creating direct action solutions and creating class solidarity. To hear about their first Assembly, check out our interview on the topic.
Reminder on upcoming #August21
A few CZN member projects have been producing content specific to supporting and understanding the Nationwide Prison Strike. You can find great, related content to enjoy and share by ItsGoingDown podcast, Kiteline Radio & Rustbelt Abolition Radio. Links are in our notes to those recent episodes. Also, visit incarceratedworkers.org for the new and very shareable video breaking down IWOC’s role in the strike and reasons to support #August21.
If you appreciate this podcast and the voices that we bring to you each and every week (at least once), please consider a one-time or recurring donation via paypal or liberapay. You can also subscribe to recurring donations to us at patreon.com/tfsr and get some pretty sweet swag. If you want one of the shirts or mixtapes or sticker and button packs we offer to patreon supporters but can’t afford a monthly donation, drop us an email and we’ll work something out.
Anti-Fascist Organizing in Charlotte against AntiCom
The first is with an antifascist in Charlotte, NC, about the “March Against Communism” event that MIGHT be taking place in that city on Thursday, December 28th. Anticommunist Action, the nazi group that originally announced the event had hoped to hold it in Marshall Park but never applied for a permit, got told off by the city and MAYBE cancelled it. This anti-fascist, Soyboy, thinks it might still occur and wants folks to show up.
(A) Healthcare Workers respond to 7 Words Banned at CDC
Then, William talked with two anarchist healthcare workers in Asheville, NC about the Trump administration’s censorship of language regarding the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2018 budget proposal documents. In this short episode we talk about what this means, some recent context for similar censorship, how CDC budget documents affect people’s everyday lives, and recommendations for how to move forward. This appeared as a “minisode” in our podcast feed. They chat about possible implications of removal of the following terms from the CDC’s budgeting proposals: fetus; transgender; science-based; evidence-based; diversity; vulnerable; & entitlement.
Announcement: Asheville NYE Noise Demo
On Sunday, 12/31/17 at the downtown Buncombe County jail and courthouse complex in Asheville, a noise demonstration will happen at 7pm to bring outside attention to the jail and let the folks on the inside know that we’re thinking of them. Bring noisemakers, pots, pans, horns, whatever. Here’s a link to the jpg of the flyer. Not in Asheville? Organize your own damn thing. Or check itsgoingdown.org to join with an existing event!