This week on The Final Straw, we’ll hear a conversation from a few month back with Anthony Rayson and Mike Plosky, who have run the South Chicago Anarchist Black Cross Zine Distro since 1998. They send zines to prisoners, publish the writings and art of politicized prisoners as a project of public education, and help advocate and support prisoners organizing for their own education and liberation. You can find a full catalogue of zines at DePaul University library’s zine special collection. Donations can be made to their GoFundMe, and you can request catalogues and titles or just contact them at:
South Chicago ABC Zine Distro
PO Box 721
Homewood, IL 60430
We’ll also hear Sean Swain, who in many ways was brought to anarchism and had his books, cartoons and zines published by South Chicago ABC Zine Distro chat with Tony and Mike. More of Sean’s work, as always, at https://seanswain.org. We’re also joined in the conversation by Casey Goonan, an editor of True Leap Press which also does similar work to SC ABC Zine Distro. More of True Leap’s work, including their catalogue at https://trueleappress.com.If you’re listening to the podcast and want a more concise edition of an hour, check out our archive.org post linked in the show notes.Some of the prisoners and activists mentioned in the interview include:Sean SwainCoyote AcaboTalib RashidLeigh SavageAnastasia SmithKevin Rashid JohnsonTodd Hyung Rae TarselliRussell Maroon ShoatzTony Hunnicutt
This week we’re speaking with Daryle Lamont Jenkins of One People’s Project based in Philadelphia, PA. Mr Jenkins is a writer, activist, and committed anti fascist. This hour we’ll speak about the state of fascism in the US and how to approach dealing with fascists and racists in your community. We talk about the One People’s Project, its history, and its goals. Keep an eye out for their new website at http://idavox.com/ to be up next month. You can see our previous interview with Mr. Jenkins at The Final Straw’s website
To write to the One People’s Project, address letters to:
One People’s Project
PO BOX 42817
Philadelphia, PA 19101
Some of you will remember the hunger strike in
January-February 2014 by prisoners in Administrative Detention at the Menard Correctional Center in Menard, Illinois. During and after the hunger strike, several of the hunger strikers were sent to prisons as far away as California, Virginia, West Virginia, and New Mexico. Others remain in Administrative Detention at Menard. Many of the 2014 hunger strikers wanted to know why they were there, and they wanted to know what they had to do to get out of Administrative Detention. Although the Illinois Department of Corrections now issues some notices, the notices still don’t answer those questions.
The following information is drawn from letters received in
September 2015 from prisoners in Administrative Detention at Menard, compiled by Alice Lynd.
Here in A.D., everything is still the same. No one is being released and we are still not getting meaningful hearings. We are still not getting any written reasons or any new info relied on for the basis of the Committee’s decision for our continued placement in A.D. We are still getting the same vague memos.
We now only get 1 day a week of out-of-cell exercise (yard). We are in our cells 24 hrs. a day, 6 days a week. We are being excessively confined in our cells. We are still not allowed to participate in any educational programs. Our mail is not being picked up or passed out 5 days a week, as they are supposed to.
We don’t see any end to this indefinite isolation/solitary confinement. Due to these issues and more, we are going to go on hunger strike once again. *We will be declaring a hunger strike on September 23, 2015. *We will feel very thankful for your help in spreading the word.
*Our core demands are:*
We demand an end to long term solitary confinement.
We demand minimum due process at Administrative Detention Review Hearings by providing inmates with written reasons, including new information relied upon, for Committee’s decision for our continued placement in A.D. and be allowed to grieve all adverse decisions. As it stands, the basis of the Committee’s votes are kept secret.
We demand more access to outside recreation for the sake of our physical and mental health. As it stands, we are confined indefinitely to these cages for 6 days out of the week, with the exception of one 5 hour day. This is unbearable.
We demand that meaningful educational programs be implemented to encourage our mental stability, rehabilitation, and social development for the sake of ourselves and our communities that we will one day return to.
We demand access to more visiting privileges. For most of our families traveling to Menard is like traveling to another state. Considering the distance, 2 hour visits behind plexiglass is insufficient. We should be allowed 5 or 6 hours. Moreover, our family members, including inmates, should be provided the human dignity and decency to purchase food items and refreshments from vending machines after traveling such great distances. This would benefit one’s social development, as well as benefit prison staff environment.
We ask the public’s help by calling the warden, the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, and the Governor on September 23, 2015, and so forth, to check on our welfare.
Warden Kimberly Butler, 618-826-5071
Menard Correctional Center
711 Kaskaskia Street
Menard, IL 62259
Director John Baldwin, 217-558-2200
Illinois Department of Corrections
1301 Concordia Court
P. O. Box 19277
Springfield, IL 52794-9277
Governor Bruce Rauner, 217-782-0244
Office of the Governor
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
We will stay on hunger strike as long as possible in order to hopefully bring some change to our conditions. We thank you for any kind of support you can give us.
First, we hear Sean Swain, anarchist prisoner in Ohio’s super-duper-mega-ultra-uber max prison at Youngstown talk about accusations of Utopianism thrown at him for his anarchism.
Secondly, we speak with author, activist and advocate Staughton Lynd. Mr. Lynd speaks with us about the ongoing hunger strike at Menard Correctional Facility’s administrative segregation units in Illinois. The strikes are in response to prisoner complaints of lack of heat and hot water in the freezing facility that was built in the 1870’s, leaks around the windows, rodent infestations and the lack of transparency around how people get put into the hole or get out of it. Upon initiating the hunger strike, prisoners (in particular Armando Velasquez who was witness being beaten, thrown down stairs and stomped by correctional officers/screws) have faced threats of force, including forced feeding for which Illinois law does not require court orders. You can find out more by contacting the Alice and Staughton Lynd at salynd(aat)aol (d ot)com. Also, check out articles at The SF Bay View on the subject.
If you care to call/write officials to press for an end to the torture:
Warden Rick Harrington, (618) 826-5071, P.O. Box 711, Menard IL 62794-9277
Illinois Department of Corrections Director Salvador Godinez, (217) 558-2200, ext. 2008, P.O. Box 19277, Springfield IL 62794-9277
Gov. Pat Quinn, (217) 782-0244, http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/Pages/ContacttheGovernor.aspx, 207 State House, Springfield IL 62706
The final portion of the episode is an interview with ecological and social activist, Yaroslav Nikitenko. Yaroslav has been involved for years in the struggle to save Khimki forest, the only old growth forest in the Moscow area, from development by a public-private construction project between Russian government, companies and VINCI construction (out of France). Yaroslav argues a lack of transparency by government, profit not surprisingly overshadowing concerns for peoples lives or the environment, neo-nazi thugs hired for home invasions and street attacks on journalists and activists working to speak out about Khimki and about how people can do solidarity work with those struggling to save this forest. Yaroslav also did solidarity work for incarcerated members of Pussy Riot, some of whom were involved in social struggles including the defense of Khimki. President Putin, prior to the Sochi Winter Olympics, released a number of political prisoners including members of the feminist punk band, Pussy Riot (albeit 2 month before their release). Lastly, Yaroslav shares his perspectives on the #euromaidan protests threatening the Ukrainian government, threats from the far-right in that nation, and his own fears as a Russian of the Ukrainian civil society coming further under Russian political sway. http://khimkiforest.org