On February 12th, 1994, Ernest Lee Johnson and his ex-girlfriends’ two sons participated in the botched robbery of Casey’s General Store that took three victims’ lives: Mable Scruggs, Mary Bratcher and Fred Jones. Mr Johnson has no recollection of the murders, was in despair and had been drinking and smoking crack in the hours after his ex-girlfriend broke up with him. A Black man with intellectual disabilities and no former, violent convictions, he was convicted by an ill-informed, all-white jury with the help of Boone County, Missouri, Prosecuting Attorney, Kevin Crane. Ernest Johnson now faces an execution date of October 5th, 2021.
This week, we spoke with Elyse Max, State Director of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty about the life of Ernest Johnson, the media and court situation he faced, his twice overturned death penalty, the links between the lynching of Black people in the US and the current death penalty, intersections of race and class in who are the victims of capital cases and who sit on death rows, the mishandling of Ernests intellectual disability in the case and other topics.
You can learn more about Ernest’s case, including ways to help press Missouri Gov Parson for a commutation of Ernest’s execution and the work of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty by visiting MADPMO.org. You can follow their work on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram via the handle @MADPMO.
As we reported last week, Chelsae Manning was facing indefinite solitary confinement on some pretty seriously trumped up charges. After over 100,000 people signed a petition on her behalf she is now no longer facing solitary, but has been found guilty of all the four things she was being investigated for, and these are: 1 having an expired tube of toothpaste, 2 asking to speak to her attourney, 3 having an issue of Vanity Fair magazine, and 4 maybe accidentally knocking a packet of mustard onto the floor.
From her support page:
“We won an important victory by keeping Chelsea out of “indefinite solitary confinement;” however, this ruling of guilty on all four absurd charges is not without significant ramifications.
“Now these convictions will follow me through to any parole and clemency hearings, forever. I was expecting to be in minimum custody in February, but now years have been added to that,” Chelsea explained (via phone) after her recent hearing.
“As Chelsea’s lawyer, I am horrified and angry about these convictions. This was a star chamber where Chelsea had to defend herself in secret. These convictions will not silence her. She will only be stronger and we will fight that much harder in her appeal to overturn her convictions and her sentence,” declared Chelsea’s lead attorney Nancy Hollander.”
At this time, it’s horrifyingly clear to us at The Final Straw that if it weren’t for all the petition signatures and media coverage of this issue that Chelsae would indeed be thrown into solitary confinement indefinitely. So, keep it up everyone! It’s extremely important for people to keep talking about this issue. Also, funds are needed to keep her legal defense going, they are only a few bux short! You can see info about this case and how to give support at http://www.chelseamanning.org
At least 9 people were arrested after St. Louis police shot and killed an African-American 18 year old man, Mansur “Man-Man” Ball Bey, who was fleeing police while they attempted to serve a search warrant in the northern party of the city. In the wake of the killing, crowds poured into the street, where they were met with military police tanks and tear-gas. People cursed the police, burned American flags, erected barricades, and chanted “Black Lives Matter”. This is just one of the protests that have occurred since the year anniversary of Michael Browns murder at police hands in Ferguson, Missouri.
More information and personal commentary on this event can be found at the excellent news website http://itsgoingdown.org
From anarchist prisoner Michael Kimble’s support page and blog at http://anarchylive.noblogs.org on the situation of the Holman 3:
“St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville, Alabama is the subject of a class action lawsuit filed by the Alabama Justice Initiative on behalf of prisoners housed at St. Clair. The focus of the lawsuit is the extremely violent atmosphere at the prison, the violent assaults inflicted upon prisoners by high-ranking and low-ranking guards. There has been a long train of assaults on prisoners by guards.
On June 17, 2015, prisoners at St. Clair called a halt to the unchecked assaults: by retaliating against two guards who were assaulting a prisoner. A crowd of prisoners beat the two guards, who have a long history of assaulting prisoners. Seventeen prisoners were swept up in the haste to quell the rebellion. Prison officials don’t know what prisoners took part in the rebellion. All seventeen prisoners were placed in segregation. Of the seventeen, three were transferred to Donaldson Max. in Bessemer, Alabama and three were transferred to Holman Max., and eleven are still at St. Clair.
The three prisoners – Brandon Lee, Johnathan Mallory, and Jamie Montgomery – transferred to Holman’s segregation unit, have not been charged and/or received any disciplinary write up for any institutional rule violation, but are continually being refused release to general population.
We need everyone that reads this to call the Warden at Holman prison and the Commissioner of the Alabama Dept. of Corrections, and demand that Brandon Lee, Johnathan Mallory, and Jamie Montgomery be immediately released into general population due to the fact that none of them have been charged with any rule infraction at St. Clair or Holman.
Call the below listed phone numbers. Continually call them until we get results.
Warden Walter Myers
Commissioner William G. Sharp, Jr
to reach him by phone, dial 334-353-3883
or to fax him stuff you can use 334-353-3967”
From the Denver ABC website https://denverabc.wordpress.com/:
In summer 2013 members of several Anarchist Black Cross (or ABC) groups discussed the necessity of introducing an International Day for Anarchist Prisoners. For listeners who are unaware, the ABC is a long standing anarchist model for political prisoner support and also serves as an educational engine on issues pertaining to the prison industrial complex. Given there are already established dates for Political Prisoners Rights Day or Prison Justice Day, we found it important to emphasise the stories of our comrades as well. Many imprisoned anarchists will never be acknowledged as ‘political prisoners’ by formal human-rights organisations, because their sense of social justice is strictly limited to the capitalist laws which are designed to defend the State and prevent any real social change. At the same time, even within our individual communities, we know so little about the repression that exists in other countries, to say nothing of the names and cases involving many of our incarcerated comrades.
This is why we have decided to introduce an annual Week for Anarchist Prisoners on August 23-30, starting on this very day! We chose August 23 as a starting point, because on that same day in 1927 the Italian-American anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed in prison. They were convicted of murdering two men during an armed robbery at a shoe factory in South Braintree, Massachusetts, United States. Their arrest was a part of a bigger anti-radical campaign led by the American government known as the Palmer Raids. The State’s evidence against the two was almost totally non-existent and many people still today believe that they were punished for their strong anarchist beliefs.
Given the nature and diversity of anarchist groups around the globe, we have proposed a week of common action rather than a single campaign on a specific day making easier for groups to be able to organise an event within a longer target period.
Therefore, we call on everyone to spread the information about the Week for Anarchist Prisoners among other groups and communities and think about organising event(s) in your city or town. The events can vary from info-evenings, screenings and benefit concerts to solidarity and direct actions.
This month is also historically significant as a yearly marker of anti-prison, anti-racist and anti-capitalist struggle in the U.S., known as Black August. Black August began in commemoration of the murder of Jonathan Jackson, George Jackson, William Christmas, James McClain and Khatari Gaulden in the California Penal system between 1970 and 1971. “Yogi Bear” aka Hugo Pinell was a prisoner convicted of participating in the attempted uprising on August 21st 1971 at San Quentin in which George Jackson died. After suffering decades in the Pelican Bay SHU, he was recently released into general population and was killed by white prisoners. He served 50 years behind bars and struggling against the racist prison system. He is gone but not forgotten.
Also pulled from DenverABC.wordpress.com:
PKK and PAJK political prisoners in Turkey are now on the sixth day of their indefinite hunger strike.
On August 15, prisoners accused of being members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Kurdistan Women’s Liberation Party (PAJK) started an indefinite hunger strike with three demands. The day coincided with the anniversary of the first armed action of the PKK.
The prisoners are demanding that the Turkish state end its ongoing isolation of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been unable to meet with anyone from the outside since April. They are also calling for the bodies of YPG and YPJ fighters to be allowed entry to Turkey for burial by their families and for the “political genocide” operations against Kurds to come to an end.
The political prisoners have announced via their lawyers that they will continue their hunger strike until their demands are met. There will be a support action for the prisoners today outside the women’s prison in the Bakırköy neighborhood of Istanbul.
This week we spoke with a supporter of Eric King. Eric is a 28 year old vegan anarchist in Kansas City, Missouri, who’s facing possibly life plus 20 years in federal prison for allegedly attempting to molotov a Senator’s office. No one was inside the building or in danger of direct injury. He has been held in Solitary confinement at CCA Leavenworth in Kansas for 6 months as a July 14th due to his potential life sentence. Eric’s trial has been pushed back to October 26th,
Click here for a firsthand account of anti-KKK actions that occurred Saturday, July 18th in Columbia, South Carolina that we received and wanted to share.
Interesting video and pictures from this event can be found at It’s Going Down, a new anarchist news site focusing mostly on North American struggles.
Now, an update from the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee about the complaints of forced medicalization and medication of concerned prisoners at SECC outside of Charleston, Missouri. Sadly, time constraints made it so we couldn’t announce this in the episode, but here it is anyway:
“Update 7-15-15 ~ FINALLY!! A month and a half after receiving the first letter of complaint about psychological and medical torture, we received a letter from one of the people involved saying that things are getting better and they are working their way off the forced medication now. Many, many thanks to everyone who has participated in this calling campaign. This would not be getting better without all of your help. Please continue to stay in touch with us by liking the IWOC fakebook page here https://www.facebook.com/incarceratedworkers “
Also from IWOC:
“You may be familiar with Ricky Kidd’s case of innocence and his request to have DNA from the crime scene tested is being considered in Jackson County Courts. To find out about his case you can go to http://freerickykidd.com
In the meantime, Ricky is fighting another battle with the MO Department of Corrections that could lead to losing a leg or even his death. Ricky is a diabetic and has a soft tissue sore that has gotten into the bone of his leg and created a condition that is potentially life threatening. He was diagnosed with Osteomyelitis about four months ago, a condition that if it had been properly treated at the time would have healed by now. The proper treatment is a 6 week course of very strong antibiotics administered via an IV. The DOC has been giving Ricky an Oral antibiotic every other week and now the infection has moved from the tissue to the bone and is putting him at risk of losing his leg. The medical personnel have told him his situation is dire and must be properly addressed immediately as there is not only the risk of amputation but a risk of death if this infection migrated to his bloodstream.
Please call the Missouri Department of Corrections at 573-751-2389 and request to speak to Adrian Hardy in the Medical Division. You must reference Ricky Kidd # 528343, he is housed at Crossroads Correctional Center. They probably will not transfer you and will tell you that Harriett Clark is the contact person for this case. Register your concern and then call again the next day. We cannot allow this innocent man to be maimed or killed by the DOC by neglect or malfeasance.
Please forward this to your friends, associates and State Representatives, as well as post to FB where you can. We need a flood of calls to help get Ricky proper treatment.
Here is that account of the KKK getting trounced in South Carolina on July 18th:
“Yesterday in Columbia SC the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan assembled in order to protest the removal of the Confederate flag from the state house. I’m told that their permit was originally set to accomodate 100-200 people. However, this pathetic organization has dwindled in numbers since its heyday in the 1920s, and there were fewer than 75 klan present at any given time. This event happened on the same day as an anti-colonial and antiracist event was held in Tuscon to protest an islamophobic and white supremacist group, and is happening in the wake of a resurgence of white supremacist rhetoric and actions in this country. People came out in droves and showed the racists that they are not welcome in Columbia, or anywhere!
Despite the almost 100 degree weather and at least the 100 cops, paramilitary, and state troopers swarming the grounds, I’d say that there were at least 2,000 anti racists, anti-fascists, and community members present ranging from concerned clergy to the much maligned out of town anarchists of all races. I was in a group of caucasian folks and non black people of color, and it felt vibrantly good to show our faces in the midst of this crowd, which I’d say consisted primarily of black people of all ages and the remaining third were folks of other races. The solidarity in the crowd was palpable, with people starting conversations with strangers, helping others out with water, and looking out for each other in the face of police violence.
When I rolled up to the event, the anti conf flag counter rally on the other side of the state house was starting to wrap up. This seemed to be mostly made up of New Black Panther Party and Nation of Islam members. The KKK harrassed these people with racial slurs when they themselves paraded up minutes later through a funnel of their cop protectors, brandishing confederate flags and Nazi swastikas and screaming “white power”.
They were instantly met with jeers and heckling from their numerous enemies, which reached such a pitch that it made one of the racists burst into tears. At one point, one racist got separated from his group and was surrounded by the crowd, which screamed at him to go the fuck home and things like that. One man got arrested at this point and carted off to the crowd yelling “let him go”.
The KKK then stood in the baking sun on the steps of the state house for about an hour. They roasted in the heat and waved their flags behind a phalanx of their pig handlers, all the while making pitiful attempts to engage the antiracist crowd, which had them outnumbered almost 27 to one. Some of their sympathizers who were dressed in confederate flag apparel were chased off the premesis during this time, including one homophobic preacher and one Nazi peace police who was attempting to verbally shame people into leaving the racists alone. Several of the klan passed out from heatstroke during this time, including one old racist who had to be carried away by the cops wrapped up in a confederate flag.
The police cut their flag waving rally short by an hour due to the numbers of antiracists, which were growing steadily. The real fun began when the klan began to move out to the parking garage where their vehicles were being guarded by even more police. The cops attempted to hoodwink the crowd into focusing on one exit of the garage, while the klan was exiting out of another around the back. When the crowd got wind of this, we took to the streets and ran around the building to confront the klan as they drove out of town. They mostly had their windows up, staring forward and looking beaten. One klansdude however became so enraged at the verbal attacks he was recieving that he drove his SUV into a pole, crushing the front end of the car which leaked radiator fluid all over the pavement. The cops were unprepared for this, and the car was surrounded by antiracists who pounded on the windows and hurled rocks at the damaged vehicle. The cops then forceably surrounded the car and drove the antiracists back. Several people got detained briefly by the police and then violently unarrested by their comrades at this point. After about half an hour of tussling between cops and antiracists, a perimeter was established around the car and it drove away amid more heckling.
After this time the crowd marched back up to the state house, where the few remaining klan supporters were confronted and driven out of Columbia. I’m not sure how many people got arrested, but I think it was at least 5 people, for disorderly conduct and assaulting an officer. I’d urge people to keep up with that news, and help with people’s bail however they can. Since this happened on a Saurday, I think people should be out by Monday.
Throughout all of this, it seemed very clear that the crowd had pinpointed their real enemies as being the police. While people were mad about the klan they were even angrier at the cops for protecting these Nazi racist scum. The weak attemts by cop sympathizers on the AR side to focus the crowd’s anger at solely the KKK were entirely unsuccessful. I think that this event will be one in a series of many active and vibrant displays of anti racist and anti white supremacist actions in this country. I hope that people are staying safe and keeping their friends close.
Toward a world without racism, without police, without jail cells, and without the klan.
Solidarity from a comrade in Columbia, South Carolina.”
This episode of The Final Straw is served in three portions, all concerning prisons and prisoners.
Before the segments begin, a couple of announcements concerning upcoming events in Asheville, North Carolina for the days surrounding June 11th and the International Day of Solidarity with Long Term Anarchist and Eco Prisoners. These events include a Books to Prisoners open house at Downtown Books & News on Thursday the 11th at 3:30, a showing of a documentary about Mumia Abu-Jamal at 7:30pm at Firestorm that night and a dance party and pie auction on the night of the 13th at the Odditorium. Facebook pages exist for these events, with details listed.
Also in there is mention of the call-out for Monday the 8th & every Friday to protest the Durham County Jail’s refusal to allow prisoners there the chance to get out of their cells for more than 2 hours a week. For more info on this struggle against the so-called Lockback, check out http://amplifyvoices.com
First among the segments, following commentary by Sean Swain, we’ll hear an up date on his situation from his friend and supporter, Ben Turk. Sean’s outgoing communication has been blocked, so his segment has had to go underground. This is in repsonse to Sean speaking up for another prisoner and using his outside support network to press the prisons after a racist attack by guards on a fellow prisoner at Lucasville. More at http://seanswain.org
Following that, we hear from Jenny of Sacramento Prisoner Support about the call-out for the upcoming June 11th International Day of Solidarity with Eric McDavid, Marius Mason & Long Term Anarchist and Eco Prisoners. Jenny tells us about the history of June 11th, talks about differences in the circumstance of June 11th for this year, and other aspects of prisoner support. More info on June 11th can be found at http://june11.org
Finally, we talk to Brianna Peril & Tommy Powell from the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee & the Missouri Innocence Project (respectively) about prisons in Missouri and what appears to be the psychiatrization and forced drugging of inmates at the SouthEast Correctional Center (SECC) outside of Charleston, Missouri, and this week’s call-in-campaign to pressure the jailers to stop the process and bring more transparency to the situation. More about the call-in can be found on the fakebook page for the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/405416019661232/
Linked from there is the fakebook page for IWOC.
The page for Midwest Innocence Project, affiliated with the MO Innocence Project can be found here: http://themip.org/
The episode is capped by a sludge metal track by General Grievous. More info in the playlist.