This week we had the chance to interview Matt Meyer, who, among many other pursuits, is a retired professor and an editor of A Soldier’s Story: Revolutionary Writings by a New Afrikan Anarchist, out from PM Press, which highlights the life and writings of Kwasi Balagoon. Balagoon was a defendant in the Panther 21 case in the late 1960s, in which 21 people were arrested and accused of planned coordinated bombing and long-range rifle attacks on two police stations and an education office in New York City. He was ultimately acquitted of this, but was caught up on charges related to a robbery some time later and passed in prison in 1986.
Sean Swain on food in prison 2:48
Matt Meyer on Kuwasi Balagoon 11:44
Support Matt Hinkston announcement 1:06:08
In this interview, Bursts and Matt discuss Balagoon’s life and writings and why this book is especially relevant right now. They’ll talk about his abiding love for his comrades, a things which seems to have driven much of his politics, and his queerness, an aspect of his life which seemed very important and also complex. Stay tuned to the end of the conversation for questions submitted to The Final Straw by imprisoned anarchist Michael Kimble, who has been a guest on this show and is an admirer of Kuwasi. To see more of Michael’s work and to write to him, you can visit anarchylive.noblogs.org
. … . ..
Support Matt Hinkston!
Police violence in Lucasville-Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. Call Monday in support of Matt Hinkston (A724969). Matt is the brother of Mustafa, who Bursts interviewed a few weeks back.
Matt Hinkston (A724969) is being retaliated against for filing a PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) grievance against a correctional officer and for having gone on hunger strikes in protest of human rights violations against himself and others in the past. One of the main officers who has been mistreating him is named Officer Lawless. They’ve put him in solitary confinement without a disciplinary ticket and restricted his access to communication. Although correctional officers claim that Matt has been put in solitary confinement for his protection, they’re also denying him access to his property and to technology for communicating with the outside world.
Incarcerated people’s lives and human rights matter. Nobody should be sent to solitary for filing a PREA report against a guard. Let’s call Lucasville this weekend and Monday at 740-259-5544 to:
-ask for a wellness check on Matthew Hinkston, A#724969
-tell officials in the Warden’s area and on Matt’s block that we support Matt’s demands and oppose continued retaliation against him for filing a PREA grievance.
Support Matt in this continued struggle against police violence, racism, and rape culture!
. … . ..
Finally, thank you to everyone who replied in response to our 9th anniversary podcast special in which me and Bursts interviewed each other about why we do what we do, some personal backstory for each of us, and opinions on media in general. We also used the opportunity to solicit listeners for another co host, to share the work load and extend the option in case there was anyone out there who was interested.
We got way more responses than we ever thought we would, and are working through to answer them in as complete and responsible a way as possible. If your interest is piqued and you wanna hear this episode, it’s up on our website along with all our other archived material.
. … . ..
Music at the beginning of the show was an instrumental version of Hip Hop by Dead Prez off of Let’s Get Free.
For the hour, Paulette tells about Leonard’s life, his case, his health, the resistance that Leonard was and continues to be a part of, COINTELPRO, and Leonard’s art. You can learn more about Leonard Peltier by visiting the ILPDC’s website, http://whoisleonardpeltier.info, where you’ll find lots more info, Leonard’s artwork, ways to plug in and do events to raise awareness of Leonard’s case and keep up on updates. You can also find the ILPDC on twitter and fedbook.
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.
Check out our website. There you can find our past episodes going back to 2009, as well as easy ways to subscribe to our podcast so that you never miss an episode of The Final Straw, our occasional tech security podcast Error451 or B(A)DNews: Angry Voices From Around The World (our latest here), an English-language podcast from the A-Radio Network of which we are a part. You can also find our contact information, info about following us on the various anti-social medias, as well as how to donate.
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 on The Final Straw radio we are sharing a chat that Bursts had with Zolo Agona Azania. Zolo is from Gary, Indiana where he lives now, working a job and also doing re-entry work with the formerly incarcerated and community service to break cycles of trauma. After 7 and a half years in prison from ages 18-25 where Zolo engaged in political education with members of the Black Panther Party from Indianapolis, he was released. In 1981 he was re-arrested, picked up by the Gary police while walking around the city after a bank robbery took place, resulting in the death of a Gary police lieutenant. Because of his political views and circumstantially being on the street at that time, Zolo was convicted by an all white jury and sentenced to death.
Zolo beat that death penalty from within prison twice and blocked a third attempt by the state to impose it. For the hour, Zolo talks about his life, his parents, his art, his education, his time behind bars, his political development, the Republic of New Africa, and his legal struggle.
This week, we share some more perspectives on prison, stretching back decades. You’re about to hear the second half of our conversation from earlier this year with Ray Luc Levasseur. Mr. Levasseur is a longtime activist, Vietnam War vet, revolutionary and former political prisoner in the U.S. Ray was a reputed founder of the Sam Melville / Jonathan Jackson Unit, later known as the United Freedom Front which conducted sabotage, expropriations and attacks against profiteers and symbols of American Imperialism and oppression abroad. After 9 years of activity in the group and living underground, members of the group were apprehended and became known as the Ohio 7. Ray was paroled in 2004, about 20 years after his arrest. We aired the first half of my conversation with Ray back in March where he talked about his time underground, his relationship with Tom Manning and the resistance Tom has given and repression Tom has faced as an aging prisoner in the Federal System for the death of a cop he claims to be innocent of.
This hour, Ray talks about his introduction into political organizing in 1968 after returning from the Vietnam War. Ray joined an anti-racist, anti-Vietnam War and pro-Labor organization called Southern Student Organizing Committee in Clarksville, TN. He was incarcerated in 1969 for a drug charge (he was selling weed to supplement his G.I. Bill), and repressed as an anti-racist prisoner and organizer, and began to put the pieces together about criminalization, capitalism and white supremacy. He talks about his time at Brushy Mountain, where Convict-Lease (the transition of forced labor after slavery) prisoners had been forced to mine coal, and where Ray was held on death row. Ray later talks about the activities of the Marxist guerrilla group, the Sam Melville / Jonathan Jackson Unit, 1975-1978. From 1982 to1984, the United Freedom Front (UFF) began bombing and bank robbery activities for which members were convicted and served time in Prison, again with Tom Manning and Jan Laaman still inside. Ray then responds to our question about his views as a long-term anti-racist organizer about the resurgence of street-level fascist and racist organizing in recent history, and inform us about engaging as anti-racists in support of the Indigenous Penobscot nation’s resistance to the Penobscot river being commercialized. Finally, Ray mentions Sacco and Vanzetti being brought up in his trial statements, so I’ll link to those statements here.
We apologize for the quality of audio during this interview, we were having technical difficulties with our new audio setup when this was recorded.
The #August21 – September 9th #PrisonStrike is in full bloom with participation around the U.S. among immigrant detainees, folks in County, State and Federal facilities as well as prisoners in Halifax, Nova Scotia putting out a solidarity statement. Rather than list out all of the inside and outside solidarity, again we’ll point y’all to https://prisonstrike.com, where you’ll find links to IWOC, IGD, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, SuwariMi and other resources and clearinghouses where press releases, images, posters, interviews, updates and call outs are being collected, tools for you to use to amplify and spread this prison strike. And check out this audio postcard that someone produced for the ears of prisoners. Share it with someone inside if you can!
There’s also a request for a phonezap for Monday the 27th in support of Hunger Striking prisoners at the North West Detention Center in Tacoma, WA. In solidarity with the #August21 Nationwide Prison Strike and in their own struggle, undocumented prisoners at NWDC began this hunger strike on Tuesday the 21st. You can call Acting ICE Field Director, Bryan S. Wilcox at 206 835 0650 ext. 2 and Assistant Field Director for ICE Detentino William Penaloza at 253 779 6000 ext. 1, wait for the message and then dial 4 to get through. It’s requested that you tell them to meet the hunger strikers demands and that GEO cease and desist in retaliating against the hunger strikers. More at incarceratedworkers.org/
Last Monday, August 20th , the Silent Sam statue to confederate soldiers from UNC Chapel Hill was removed by anti-racist students and community members and now Neo-Confederate goons are rattled. Saturday, August 25th there was a rally with racists waving Stars and Bars in Chapel Hill and scuffled with anti-racists. A number of anti-racists were arrested and released at the Monday event, then 3 warrants were set for people in the Triangle and more arrests occurred at the rally today. When fundraising sites are up, we’ll be sure to pass on that information. In response to the monument coming down, one in a line of monuments in New Orleans, Memphis, Charlottesville, Richmond and even little old Asheville, Neo-Confederates are up in arms. There is a call up for a counter to the League of the South demo in Elizabethton, TN, on September 29th. More info on that can also be found in future episodes of this show.
And here’re a few announcements we stole from crimethInc’s latest Hotwire!
“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.”
Also of note, we’re sorry to share with you that alleged Earth Liberation Front activist Joseph Dibee, was captured by the Cuban state and handed over to the FBI. Joseph is being charges with arson and conspiracy charges related to ELF actions taken almost 20 years ago. Here’s a crimethInc article about his case. You can send letters of care and encouragement to Joseph. DO NOT write about his case or reference anything illegal. Write him here:
Joseph Dibee #812133
Multnomah County Detention Center
11540 NE Inverness Drive
Portland, Oregon 97220
Zurich Tattoo Circus
Anarchists in Zurich, Switzerland will be hosting a Tattoo Circus there from august 31 to September 2, to raise money for political prisoners and the Anarchist Black Cross. Find out more at TattooCircusZurich.noblogs.org.
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
If you’ve made it this far into the announcements, you are obviously a glutton for punishment. Congrats! Now, we’d like to invite you to help us out a bit. The Final Straw Radio has been bringing you interviews with anarchists, anti-capitalists, feminists, eco-defenders, anti-racists and anti-fascists, prison rebels and prison abolitionists, authors and iconoclasts every week since 2009. And we’ve only been getting better. If you appreciate the work that we do, here’re a few things you can do to show your appreciation:
If you live in an area with a community radio station, one of those that isn’t run by something like ClearChannel and just bumping the top 40’s hits nor one that’s preaching a gospel of pie in the sky when you die, consider helping us get onto your local airwaves. Community radio is often a shoestring venture with little locally produced content and is often happy for suggestions of what may bring listeners to their airwaves and get involved in local media and activism. If you are one of the lucky ones who lives near one of these stations, you can email the station or programming director and say that you are an avid listener and that you want to hear The Final Straw Radio on your local airwaves. Tell them that our show is free to air, that we produce an FCC-acceptable show that won’t get them tattled on and that we produce it consistently, each Sunday night at 59 minutes in length. You can find out more about our radio option at our website by clicking the “Radio Broadcasting” tab.
Another way you can help us out might be to share our podcast with people you care about in your community. You could rate us on iTunes so more people will see us, or share us on the obnoxious social medias that we are present on which you can find links to on the kontact page of our website. While you’re sharing us, why not share the monthly anarchist news show we participate in known as B(A)D News: Angry Voices From Around The World produced by the A-Radio Network or check out the shows that share the Channel Zero Network?
Or, you could drop us a line, tell us how we’re doing, comment on our shows or give us suggestions for future episodes. We are always welcome to dialogue and suggestions, though we don’t take ‘em all.
Finally, you could give us a donation, one time over paypal or recurring via Liberapay, an open source donation platform from France, or Patreon. Check out our Patreon for the thank you gifts that we offer to recurring donators. We have shirts, buttons, stickers and other swag up on there. See something you like but can’t afford a monthly donation? Send us an email and we’ll see what we can work out. The money goes to cover our production costs and save up for travels to conferences and events where we can get you more of that anarchist audio that you crave. Thanks so much!
“You may be nonviolent, but I’m not gonna let these white people kill you”. A presentation with Charles Cobb on This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed.
This week we are very pleased to present a presentation done some months ago at Firestorm Books with Charles E. Cobb, Jr. Charles Cobb is a journalist, writer, and current senior analyst at allAfrica.com, which is “is a voice of, by and about Africa – aggregating, producing and distributing news and information from over 140 African news organizations and our own reporters to an African and global public.” Cobb has had a long career full of landmark moments, for example being the first Africa correspondent for NPR and being the first Black staff writer for National Geographic Magazine, among many other achievements.
In this presentation, done on April 2nd 2018, Cobb talks about his 2014 book “This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed”, which details his work from 1962 to 1967 for the SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), the most influential youth and student organization during the Civil Rights Movement. He also fills in a much overlooked gap in the understanding of the Civil Rights Movement, that is, the lived experiences of Black people living in the rural South at this time, gives his insights on embedding in communities for social justice purposes, and draws lessons from those insights as they pertain to the current Movement for Black Lives. In this talk he is being interviewed by Carol, who is a long time comrade and friend.
Week of International Support in Lead Up to Nationwide Prison Strike
A call from a variety of groups to make some noise for the upcoming prison strike, kicking off on August 21st, 2018. This is a challenge to every anarchist, abolitionist, rebel and determined fighter against prison society and white supremacy in Amerikkka:
‘Between Monday, July 16 and Saturday, July 21, we’re calling on you to help unleash a concerted and spectacular array of solidarity actions before the upcoming prison strikes! Prepare now, bring mayhem everywhere! As you likely know, prisoners will strike from August 21st to September 9th. They anticipate guards and administrators to respond with violent reprisals, media distortions, and extended lockdowns. Defending the strikes from the outside is an essential component of its success. Don’t wait; retaliation has already started and as August 21st approaches we expect to see transfers, preemptive lockdowns, and more. Outside support efforts, in collaboration with imprisoned rebels, have already begun. Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, IWOC, and other organizations are building phone trees, publishing call-outs, and mounting pressure campaigns. Another thing outside supporters can do is promote and set a stage for the strike. From July 16-21, we want to make an opening act that warms up the public consciousness and media landscape.
If we’re successful, it will also be a loudspeaker for the prisoners’ call, blaring it past the censors, the mailroom pigs, and the dense walls of isolation and silence that prevent prisoners from knowing what’s cooking in other states or facilities until it’s already served up cold. The challenge before us is to do things so spectacular, creative, and unexpected that the mainstream media cannot neglect them. Hashtag: #prisonstrike2018. Use any means necessary to break that media blockade: take the streets, paint the town, disrupt the status quo, hack a site, get things lit, or go ahead and chuck your anarchist purity, resort to wooing celebrity endorsements, buying clever ads, or schmoozing your way into the news. Remember, the radical and independent outlets most likely to cover our activities exist mainly online.
We need to leverage that coverage to force the big old media (the kind that gets into prisons: TV, radio, print editions of newspapers) to report this news due to fear-of-missing-out. The goal: get the phrase “Nationwide Prison Strike: 8/21-9/9” printed or spoken on the largest platform so prisoners can see it and no one outside can ignore it. So get out there and surprise us! Overwhelm amerikkka’s hostile media environment and get the word into prisons large and small across the nation. ‘
Groups endorsing the 2018 Nationwide Prison Strike:
Jailhouse Lawyers Speak
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
The Fire Inside Collective
Millions for Prisoners
The People’s Consortium
Asheville Prison Strike Info Session
If you’re in the asheville area, Tuesday the 17th from 5-7:30pm at Firestorm, Blue Ridge ABC is holding an info session about the prison strike. There’ll be an introduction workshop to writing to prisoners followed by news about the strike, propaganda to take home and brainstorming on outreach methods we can take to get word flowing on the outside and support those rumblings on the inside. This event is open to anyone who’s interested in uplifting prisoner voices.
Intl Week of Solidarity with Anarchist Prisoners
In other prison-related news, here’s an announcement about the August 23- 30th 6th Annual Week of Solidarity with Anarchist Prisoners. From https://solidarity.intenational/ :
We are coming back with global week of solidarity with anarchist prisoners. Since last year, a lot has changed in our countries, but the general tendency is going in the worse direction with more repressions applied against anarchists not only in Europe but worldwide. With this in mind, we are calling for sixth annual week of solidarity!
Last year lots of people sent us their reports from different parts of the world and we hope that this year the tradition will grow even bigger. We need to support our comrades! Use this week to spread the information about anarchists behind bars. Don’t have prisoners in your country? No worry, support prisoners from other countries in your region or use those days to raise awareness of repression mechanisms and how anarchist communities can fight against them!
Build up security culture, support your local anarchist prisoners and fight back.
In other anarchist prisoner related topics, the partner of Eric King has just suffered some major tragedies in her life and could use some help. She was recently in a car accident from which she’s recovering but now lacks a vehicle for her day to day work life, the childcare of Eric and her two kids, and her weekly visitations of him in prison. On top of that and her partner serving a sentence on which he has 5 more years, Eric’s partner was also just diagnosed with thyroid cancer. If you have any extra dough you can toss to her, there’s a go fund me page where she’s soliciting donations. This can be found at gofundme.com.
The Texas prison system is trying terrorist-jacket politicized prisoner Malik Washington!
Politicized prisoner Malik Washington was cleared for removal from Ad-Seg by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s state classification committee last month. He has spent the past two years in solitary confinement on a bogus riot charge, which TDCJ has since admitted was not for actual rioting, but for organizing fellow prisoners to engage in work stoppages during the 2016 nationwide prison strike.
But as soon as Malik got to his new unit, he was informed that his clearance had been revoked, and that he was heading back to Ad-Seg. He was given no explanation of why, but his support network did some digging, and found out that the classification committee is claiming to have “received additional information” from the Fusion Center in Texas, causing a determination that “it was in the best interest of the department that he not be released from Ad-Seg.”
Fusion Centersbad news; they are based in the Department of Homeland Security and deal with anti-terrorism intelligence gathering, which, as we know, means manufacturing evidence to label people associated with the anti-authoritarian left, and others, as terrorists.
Fusion Centers are shadowy, unaccountable arms of the repressive state apparatus, and are quickly becoming one of state’s new favorite tools. What just happened to Malik is a signal that TDCJ is upping its repression of anarchist-identified prisoners, Muslims, and those engaged in black liberation struggle.
Please share this info with any media contacts you have; urge them to investigate Fusion Centers, and to ask questions about what kind of information they collect, how it is fact-checked, and how this data collection contributes to political repression–and urge them to dig into Malik’s situation!
Write to Malik at:
Keith H. Washington
3001 South Emily Drive
Beeville, TX 78102
Sean Swain update
To check in about last week’s ask about Sean Swain’s condition, we have yet to hear anything back from Sean, the prisoner who has for the last 4 years been doing a weekly segment on our radio show. Sean had been missing from the ODRC database of prisoners and not showing up as a transfer to another prison but the day after last week’s episode of our show it was brought to our attention that Sean was now back in the Ohio database’s website. Anyone with clues about Sean’s condition and state of being, please drop us a line at email@example.com.
In May, Michael “Little Feather” Giron was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison for actions taken to defend pipeline resistance camps from police assault. Several other water protectors still face federal charges, with potential sentences of decades in prison, stemming from their participation in the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline.Indigenous Water Protector Red Fawn Fallis, a political prisoner arrested during the movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, was sentenced today in federal court by Judge Daniel Hovland. Fallis was sentenced to 57 months (4.75 years) in federal prison. She will receive a credit of 18 months ‘time served’ taken off of her sentence, from time spent in North Dakota jails before trial proceedings began. Fallis is expected to serve a total of 39 months in prison followed by 3 years probation.
In January 2018, Fallis entered a non-cooperating plea agreement in which prosecutors agreed to seek a sentence of less than seven years. In exchange, she pleaded guilty to charges of ‘Civil Disorder’ and ‘Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Convicted Felon.’
Red Fawn and her supporters had previously maintained her innocence, and had stated that Fallis accepted the plea deal under the assumption that she would not receive a fair trial due to prosecutors withholding evidence.
Judge Hovland had forbidden Fallis’ defense team from mentioning treaty rights or other issues related to her arrest at anti-pipeline protests near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation border.
The case against Red Fawn had centered around allegations she fired a gun during her arrest on October 27, 2016, when a massive police and military raid seized indigenous treaty lands on behalf of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The gun allegedly fired by Fallis was later revealed to have belonged to Heath Harmon, an undercover FBI informant who was romantically involved with Red Fawn at the time of her arrest.
Before she was sentenced by Judge Hovland, Red Fawn Fallis told the court,
“No matter where I go from here I am going to continue going forward…I wanted to move forward in a positive way away from Heath Harmon and the things he tried to put on me while I was trying to push him away.” – Red Fawn Fallis
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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
25 Years After Lucasville; Two Perspectives on the Uprising
This week is the 25th anniversary of the longest prison uprising in US history in which lives were lost. The rebellion, which lasted 11 days, took place at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, more commonly know as “Lucasville,” in April 1993. The disturbance broke out on L Block, which housed over 400 people. Over the course of the uprising one correction officer being held hostage and nine prisoners were killed.
The most immediate cause for the riot was a group of Muslim prisoners’ refusal to take a tuberculosis test which was going to be administered in a form that would have violated their religious beliefs. But serious grievances had simmered under the surface at Lucasville for many years, and ultimately the prisoners’ demands far exceeded Muslims’ opposition to TB shots, addressing concerns about conditions of confinement held by the entire inmate population.
After 11 days a negotiated surrender ended the siege. Prisoners gave up control of L Block in return for the state’s concession to a “21 point plan” responding to their demands. Afterwards, authorities engaged in widespread retaliation, including the targeting of five individuals who were perceived as leaders for capital offenses. To this day, the Lucasville 5, as they are called, sit on death row for murders that numerous investigations have proven they did not commit. Prisoners still facing repercussions for the Lucasville Uprising include: Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Jason Robb, George Skatzes, Bomani Shakur & Greg Curry.
To reflect on the Lucasville uprising 25 years later, Disembodied Voice spoke with two individuals who were involved in the event in very different ways. First, we hear from Mosi Paki, who was present on L Block during the rebellion and served 19 years, most of it in isolation, after the siege ended. We will then hear from attorney Niki Schwartz, who represented prisoners during their negotiation of the 21 point plan that ended the siege of Lucasville.
To hear past episodes we’ve aired with interviews of former Lucasville Uprising prisoners or other topics, check out our site.
An Update on ICE Raids Near Asheville
This is from an official press release which came out this morning regarding continuing activity concerning ICE raids in Asheville NC:
News began to arrive early this morning that ICE was continuing their activity throughout Buncombe County. Local organizers have been monitoring unmarked vehicles that have been driving through West Asheville neighborhoods and the surrounding areas. Due to these mobilization efforts, no one has been detained.
CIMA and the WNC Sanctuary Movement encourage community members who fear for their safety to remember your rights. You may refuse to open your door or let ICE agents in unless the agent has a warrant signed by a Judge. If they have a warrant, you may ask for them to slide it under your door, and it must have both your correct legal name on it as well as your correct address in order for it to be valid. Only a court and /or Judge warrant is enough to enter your premises. Do not lie or show false documents and do not sign any papers without speaking to a lawyer. You may also ask for an interpreter.
Consider coming out and supporting members of affected communities this evening at the Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte’s immigration forum, “For You Were Once a Stranger in the Land of Egypt – Immigration: Why We Care and What We Can Do.” The forum is being held this afternoon, April the 15th at 5:00 pm at St. Eugene Catholic Church. Mayor Esther Manheimer and Sheriff Van Duncan are invited to attend. Come voice your concern about ICE ripping families apart in our community. We appreciate your support and for more information please follow the CIMA (Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción) and Nuestro Centro Facebook pages online.
If you have any information which would contribute to helping keep affected communities safer in the Asheville Area, the hotline to call is 1-888-839-2839. Please make sure that the information you have is both verified and up to date if you call this number! You can also check out CIMA or Nuestro Centro NOT on fedbook.
Update for Herman Bell’s Parole
The hearing began around 3pm. The Judge relayed at the outset that he did not plan to issue a decision today, and that the temporary restraining order would remain and not be lifted until a decision was rendered. The Judge also asked that the hearing be focused primarily on standing. The question is whether a member of the victim’s family (Diane Piagentini) has “standing” in court and in this case. Without standing, the case cannot go forward. Each side then had around 10 minutes to give their arguments on that issue, which they did.
Again, no decision was rendered, and there wasn’t much indication of how the Judge would rule. The Judge did say that he understood the urgency of the case and that Herman‘s liberty was at issue, and that he would begin making a determination on Monday.
June 11th is Every Day
The folks who are organizing the worldwide day of action and solidarity with Marius Mason and all long term anarchist prisoners have released their announcement for the scope and prisoners (including ones in Germany, Chile, Greece, and the U.S.) alongside a message for this year. We’re just going to excerpt the very end of the call-up here, but here’s the end of it and you can find the whole thing at june11.noblogs.org
June 11th is an idea, not just a day. June 11th is every day. And ideas are bulletproof. Let’s breathe life into the rest of the year and renew the celebration of anarchist prisoners’ lives by carrying on their struggles alongside them.
In short: It’s a call-out, so we’re calling on you! June 11th is what you make of it. Follow your heart and fill the world with beautiful gestures. There is no action that is too small or too grand.
For this week’s episode, Bursts spoke with Ray Luc Levasseur, longtime activist, Vietnam War vet, revolutionary and former political prisoner in the U.S. Ray was a reputed founder of the Sam Melville / Jonathan Jackson Unit, later known as the United Freedom Front which conducted sabotage, expropriations and attacks against profiteers and symbols of American Imperialism and oppression abroad. After 9 years of activity in the group and living underground, members of the group were apprehended and became known as the Ohio 7. Ray was paroled in 2004, about 20 years after his arrest.
Here we present half of our interview with Ray, which covers some of his political development. The other portion of this interview will air soon.
Now, though, we’ll hear about Ray’s organizing with prisoners after his own political incarceration for organizing and possession of small portions of marijuana for sale, the organizing of SCAR (Statewide Correctional Alliance for Reform), meeting Tom Manning, the process of going underground and why they chose this route and the formation of the underground movement later known as the SM/JJU. Then, Ray speaks about the case of his still incarcerated co-defendants, Jaan Laaman, and in more detail about co-defendant Tom Manning. Tom has been kept off and on in solitary confinement for very long periods of time, has been summarily transferred, has received inadequate medical care for the injuries of incarceration and aging inside of prisons. He was producing artwork until 2010 when he almost lost his leg due to an injury while being held in Florida. He was recently transferred from the Medical Facility at Butner, NC, to USP Hazelton in West Virginia. Tom Manning has only recently been able to start drawing again because he finally relieved some medical care relieving some of his pain & there’ s an art room at Hazelton with some supplies.
If you’d like to correspond with Tom, you can write him at:
Thomas Manning #10373-016
Post Office Box 2000
Bruceton Mills, West Virginia 26525
If you want to check out Tom’s art while monetarily supporting him, consider getting “For Love And Liberty”
We’ll have more info on the case of Jaan Laaman, the other mem
ber of the UFF still in prison soon. Jaan’s birthday is coming up on March 21st, so send him a birthday greeting if you want.
Jaan Laaman #10372-016
Post Office Box 3000
Pine Knot, Kentucky 42635
To keep up on support for Tom, Jaan and other political prisoners in the U.S., check out the for The National Jericho Movement Fedbook page, or signing up for the Freedom Archives Political Prisoner News list. Also, you can check out 4StruggleMag, which Jaan helped to found.
If you’re in NYC, the National Jericho Movement (website & fedbook) is having it’s 20th anniversary gathering on March 24th (as Ray mentions in the chat). Here’s a link to the JerichoNYC page for more details.