First, Matt from Rural Organizing And Resilience, or ROAR, in Madison County talks about efforts in the country to shift mutual aid efforts to address difficulties associated with the covid-19 pandemic. More on their project at ruralorganizing.wordpress.com.
And we also got to sit down with David Forbes, who is an independent journalist here in Asheville, about her work, some updates from here in the mountains, ways to think about journalism, and the online platform The Asheville Blade which she founded and helps maintain. To see more you can visit ashevilleblade.com, follow her on twitter @davidforbes, and donate to the Blade at patreon.com/avlblade!
Sean Swain Is Ill
Sean is currently suffering from a bacterial lung infection and not being offered adequate healthcare (nothing new for prison). If you are concerned for his health as the novel corona virus swells, consider visiting his support site to read more. Anyone reading this should feel free to contact Buckingham at (434) 983-4400 . Either Warden John Woodson or Assistant Warden Jeffrey Snoddy are there each day during normal business hours. Ask for one, and he’s not there, ask for the other. Feel free to fax this update to them, (434) 983-4017.
Final Straw 10th Anniversary
Still coming up, plague bedamned. We’ve been running the show for coming on 10 years and would love to hear your thoughts, memories, suggestions. This is an opportunity to share with us and share your ideas directly with other audience members. You can leave us or a signal voice-memo or a voicemail at +18285710161, or email a link to mp3 audio via wetransfer.com or another service, or you can share it with the googledrive for firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com!
This week on The Final Straw Radio, I’m happy to share a conversation with Rozalinda, Pura and Lynn from La Villita Red de Solidaridad or the Little Village Solidarity Network in so-called Chicago, IL. LVSN, in the English-language acronym, is an autonomous community organizing project based in La Villita or Little Village neighborhood and networks with other residents of the area. If you’re listening to the podcast or online version of this episode, just an fyi that there is cursing, but compared to putting babies in jails which offends more?
In the first hour, LVSN members talk about organizing on the ground against Heartland Alliance, a 501c3 non-profit running baby jails for federal funding (they call them shelters) around Chicago, in coalition with the Chicago Catholic Arch-Dioecese. Soon, at our website, on youtube, spotify and other sites we offer a 2 hour version of this conversation, including our Sean Swain segment and LVSN comrades’ words directed at people resisting detention facilities around the country.
LVSN also speaks about the case of Jose, a young father who was in these facilities and faces deportation currently from Texas where his family is. Information about Jose’s case and how to support him can be found, alongside more info about the work of LVSN, on their fedbook page and twitter account or at their website, lvsolidaridad.com.
In an update to Jose’s situation, he has gotten a stay of deportation. You can donate to his case via the lvsn venmo (@lavillitasolidaridad) or paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can see and hear Jose in his own words in testimony on vimeo talking about what kids on the inside experience noise demos outside and the sense of desperation of the youth inside. And here is another of Jose describing the experience of staff attempting to extract information about his loved ones by Heartland Staff, in particular how it’s experienced by children in the jails.
. … . ..
Keep an eye out in our podcast stream, website and social media for a link to the latest episode of BADNews, angry voices from around the world. BADNews is a 2 and a half year-running, collaborative, monthly anarchist news show in English with participation by anarchist radio and podcast projects from around Europe and all over the so-called Americas, North, South and Central. Find our back episodes up at a-radio-network.org.
Digital Security / Tenant Organizing / #MeToo Hong Kong
This week, we feature three portions.
Lauren Regan of CLDC
First up, we share a chat with Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, or CLDC, to chat about safer practices around technology for activists, as well as the “reverse search” warrant used by the NYPD with Google to capture info on antifascists and the Proud Boy attackers last year. More at https://cldc.org. An article about tech security and phones that Bursts references is called “Never Turn Off The Phone” [starts 10m 08s]
Palm Beach Tenants Union
Following this, Withers (a new collective member at The Final Straw) shares a chat with Adam and Amy, two organizers with the Palm Beach Tenants Union out of Florida about their work and the sorts of mutual aid disaster work they’ve done with Hurricane Irma and advocating for and organizing with renters in their communities for dignity in housing. More on the Union at https://pbctu.org and more on how you can get involved in mutual aid up at https://mutualaiddisasterrelief.org. There are a number of donation sites around the region to prepare for this Hurricane season, as well as distribute support to Bahamas that you can find by searching social media for DRASL (Dorian Response Autonomous Supply Line), as mentioned on itsgoingdown.org. [starts at 54m 06s]
#MeToo and Updates from Hong Kong
Finally, you’ll hear a conversation with Enid and Rebecca, who feminist activists in Hong Kong about the current state of protests there. Content warning, that segment deals in part with organizing around sexualized assault by police and by protestors. To hear our prior interview with Ahkok on protests in HK, check our website and see the great articles up at crimethinc. Also, the guests talk about the term 自由閪, or “Freedom Cunt” as a re-appropriation of a misogynist insult by police from the protests. [starts at 1hr 15m 51s]
*Correction to the HK conversation: The full name of the IPCC mentioned in regards to the establishment of an independent police inquiry is called the Independent Police Complaints Council. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam appointed two new committee members to the already existing committee, not independent investigators. However, the IPCC has hired five foreign investigators to participate in examinations, though it must be clarified that the role of the IPCC is observational rather than investigative. The IPCC has no jurisdiction to either call witness nor collect evidence for the independent inquiry called for by citizens.
If you’re listening to the radio version, as usual, we suggest that you check out the podcast version for longer versions of all three chats in this episode as well as Sean Swain’s audio this week. You can hear that at thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org or via various streaming platforms we publish to, such as youtube, soundcloud, stitcher, pandora and so-on.
This week we share an interview I conducted a few months back with two folks, Inman and Bleep, about community armed self defense. They talk about their experiences of handling firearms, lessons learned from their visibly armed presence at the Charlottesville Unite The Right protest in 2017, wider ideas of community self-defense beyond open carrying firearms (like engaging in like unarmed self-defense, infrastructure for food and health autonomy). The guests also talk about skills expanded and muscles flexed in Appalachian and southern participation in autonomous disaster relief in the last few years, some resources and ideas to keep in mind or steal if your group is thinking about training in firearms or medic’ing and more.
There’s a lot cut from the radio version, so if you’re listening live, we suggest you check out the online edition up at thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org where you can stream any of our shows or subscribe to our podcast.
Blue Ridge ABC events upcoming
If you’re in Asheville on Sunday, June 2nd, you can join Blue Ridge ABC for their monthly political prisoner letter writing night from 5-7pm at Firestorm Books. No experience is requred. And on Friday, June 7th from 6:30 to 8:30 instead of Trouble, BRABC will be showing the documentary “The Bail Trap” and having a discussion about it afterwards.
This week we had the chance to talk to Sascha, who is a community organizer in the triangle area of North Carolina, about ongoing organizing to help rebuild and continue to aid folks after the multiple hurricanes recently hit this region. This interview went in directions that we couldn’t have predicted, and really went on a deep dive of how to conceptualize of disaster relief in our changing climate, in addition to more practical topics. We hope you enjoy it!
To get in touch with the project that our guest is talking about, and if you have extra monie$ to spare, you can visit maddistronc.org for ways to donate or drop by to 800 Henderson Street in Durham if you’re in the area.
To hear the interview that we referenced about halfway through, you can go to our website and search “Indigenous Activist”, it should be the first item in the search results. You can also hear a 10 minute edit of this interview with Vanessa on how to be better accomplices to Lumbee folks in Lumberton NC in the October episode of B(A)D News, Angry Voices From Around the World which you can find both at our website or at aradio.blogsport.de.
B(A)D News is a monthly news collaboration between projects in the A-Radio Network, which includes anarchist radio from Chile, various places in Eastern and Western Europe, and right here on Turtle Island. Keep your eyes peeled to our feed for when this show updates!
Blue Ridge ABC events in Asheville
If you’re in the Asheville area this week, Blue Ridge Anarchist Black Cross has two upcoming events.
TROUBLE showing at Firestorm
On Friday, November 2nd at 6:30pm at Firestorm Books & Coffee, BRABC will be airing the latest episode of Trouble, the mini-documentary series by sub.Media. This month’s episode is focused on the J20 inauguration conspiracy case that ended some months back. This’ll be followed by a brief chat about the film and the case. This event happens the same time, same place, on the first Friday of every month and is a great way to start of your weekend.
Political Prisoner Letter Writing
On Sunday, November 4th at 5pm, just a little after next week’s episode of our show of this show, BRABC will also be hosting their monthly Political Prisoner letter writing night at, you guessed it, Firestorm! ABC will be bringing info on prisoners whose birthdays are upcoming or who are facing repression or coming up on parole, will provide the materials and a friendly atmosphere and help in writing letters to prisoners. If you’ve ever thought of writing someone in prison before but been overwhelmed by the prospect of it, this is a great way to get started.
Recent Violence from the Far Right and What to Do
We don’t frequently comment on this show about ongoing events we aren’t either announcing or featuring on the episode, but this is a rare example. This last week saw a couple of racist attacks that we want to mention in case you missed them, in order to point to the continued and intensifying need for anti-racist and anti-fascist organizing, research and street presence. On October 24th, a white man named Gregory Bush allegedly failed to break into a black church in Louisville, KY, and instead decided to shoot a black man (Maurice E. Stallard) inside of a Kroger and a black woman (Vickie Lee Jones) in the parking lot, killing them both. The shooter told a witness “Whites don’t shoot whites.”
Yesterday, on Saturday October 27th during shabbat services, a gunman with white nationalist ties named Robert D. Bowers, entered the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, and killed 11 congregants while wielding an AR-15 and two handguns, injuring 3 more congregants. These are just two recent examples of white rage acting out against others, a visible trend and not out of sync with the settler-colonial and anti-black violence of the United States, yet undeniably horrendous. The victims families are in our hearts, as are all of the many unmentioned victims of reactionary violence. On this note, we’re including a couple of anti-racist announcements folks can join in on if they care to.
To literally steal a line from the latest Hotwire episode from crimethInc, “To mark the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht and to push back against the uptick in anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and xenophobic violence around the world, there’s a Jewish call for International Days against fascism and anti-Semitism.” The call reads:
“On November 8–11, we will sing out and celebrate the survival of our peoples. We will say Kaddish for those who gave their lives in the fight against fascism. We will engage in acts of Kherem and ritually excommunicate those Jews who aid and abet the fascists of our time. And we will march on the institutions, the political parties, and the private businesses that collaborate with their genocidal agenda. At the same time, we will show the world that the real threat to our security as Jews isn’t our Muslim neighbors, but “Western Chauvinists,” Christian supremacists, and white nationalists – the would-be pogromists of our day. Starting now and continuing through [the year] 5779 and beyond, we will (re)build an international network of anti-fascist Jews and our allies. From the streets where we live to the places we work and play, we will organize to defend all of our communities from those who would exterminate us. We invite you to join us in the fight: For a world without pogroms. For a future without fascism.”
Atlanta Antifascists are asking folks to contact Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School about one of it’s students, Casey Jordan Cooper. Cooper has made explicit lynching threats against black students, has organized Alt-Right efforts around the school and has documented connections to white nationalists like Sam Dickson. Alongside a bunch of really amazing research that AFAinATL has done, you can find more about Casey Jordan Cooper, including a video and 500+ page dossier on him, the request for a call-in on Monday, October 29th to the University and a script up at atlantaantifa.org. We don’t need anymore nazi lawyers and this school should be ashamed to continue to hold Cooper as a student considering it’s lip service to the importance of it’s students providing non-prejudicial service to their clients.
WNC undercuts Patriot Front
A big ups to comrades in WNC who, very carefully and soberly, infiltrated a new chapter of the white nationalist grouping Patriot Front and were able to disrupt their activities during an attempted banner drop. This sort of high level of engagement is dangerous and not to be taken lightly, but can be quite effective at gaining intelligence on the enemy and ruining their days. More info on this can be found on this IGD post!
Support Malik and Rashid!
In prisoner news, two affiliates of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter are in the news. Keith “Malik” Washington, whose supporters we’ve had on the show before, shared that he’s on a hunger strike at the McConnell Administrative Segregation Unit in protest against his continued repression and repeated medical endangerment. More info can be found at comrademalike.com. Also Kevin “Rashid” Johnson who we spoke to in September. He has been refused medical aid by guards at Sussex II, denied the ability to send or receive mail, including legal mail. He has been threatened with dogs while chained up, kept in his cell 24/7 and other terrible circumstances. Visit rashidmod.com for more details and the numbers and officials that you can call to protest on his behalf.
Mutual Aid in Post-Hurricane-Florence Lumberton, NC
This week we had the opportunity to connect with Vanessa Bolin, who is an indigenous artist, community organizer, and activist who has been helping with flood rescue and rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Florence in Lumberton, NC, which is in Robeson County. In this interview we talk about what still needs to be done in this area, how to help out, some important parallels between post hurricane relief and anti pipeline organizing, and the importance of foregrounding marginalized voices in mutual aid efforts.
Mutual Aid Disaster Relief is also coordinating a bunch of efforts, you can learn more about this group at mutualaiddisasterrelief.org or look them up on any social media platform. If you have 4-14 days spare and want to get down to Robeson County to help out, especially if you have proficiency in Spanish and skills in logistical coordination, you can send them an email to get networked in at WeKeepUsSafeVC@protonmail.com.
To connect with EcoRobeson, the group which is doing anti pipeline work in Robeson County that is mainly affecting already disenfranchised people, you can follow this link.
Somethings we’d like to mention:
When Vanessa talks about the struggles of the Dine people (who are sometimes known as Navajo) where she mentions uranium mining, this is a huge issue that spans many generations. You can visit Black Mesa Rezistance, which is an organized effort in Black Mountain and Big Mesa (also known as Arizona) on the part of the Dine and Hopi people to defend themselves and their existences. You can learn more about this effort at https://blackmesa.rezist.org/ and follow the links for further material to learn about the history and present day projects and struggles.
And finally, for a look into some of the truly amazing legacy of the Lumbee Tribe in so called NC, we at The Final Straw recommend the book To Die Game by William McKee Evans. This book details a resistance movement at a time when Lumbee youth were being targeted for conscription into the Confederate army, and how they along with a diverse coalition of other resistors, eluded capture in the swamps of eastern NC for over 5 years. You can also read about this in the book Dixie Be Damned, along with many other lesser reported moments of resistance in the American Southeast.
Announcements for Prisoner Support
Jalil Muntaqim, former member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army is facing the parole board in November as his August visit was postponed due to clerical issues. He’s going to be getting a lot of pushback from the Policeman’s Benevolent Association, Fraternal Order of Police, Corrections Guards associations and the rest of the gallery of reactionary so-called unions for cops. Those groups are on alert, as we’ve seen with the tug of war around the release of Herman Bell, any time an aging political prisoner, especially one accused of involvement in the killing of a cop, comes up for parole. The parole boards are often made up of former judges, D.A.’s, Prosecutors and law enforcement, forming an added blue wall for prisoners facing parole boards. So, Jalil needs us to write letters of support for his release. Although some of the links are dead from the earlier parole push, you can check this IGD link (see our shownotes at thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org for the link) for a list of achievements Jalil has since his incarceration.
Also, Jalil’s birthday is October 18th, so feel free to send him a separate birthday greeting!
Also, also, check out our website to hear past episodes featuring interviews with Jalil conducted by buddies at Prison Radio on CKUT in Montreal.
To support Jalil, follow these instructions passed on from National Jericho NY:
Write a letter in you own words in support of parole for Jalil, address to:
Senior Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator
Sullivan Correctional Facility
325 Riverside Drive
Fallsburg, New York 12733
BUT SEND TO:
The Parole Preparation Project
168 Canal Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10013
The subject line should be “Anthony Bottom 77-A-4283”
We are making an effort to include letters of support for Jalil that are personalized and from people who are familiar with him and his work. If you want further instructions for how to write a strong, personalized letter of support, please email email@example.com.
Also, please send a copy of your letter to Jalil for his files:
Casey is an anarchist political prisoner who also has a parole hearing coming up, his one and only for his 12 year stint for the stabbing of the president of a university in Missouri. Casey recently got married to a woman being held in another Missouri prison. He’s studying calculus so he can go to school to be an aerospace engineer once he’s released. He goes before the parole board November 2018. He’s unsure of exactly when he gets out, but knows he isn’t eligible until November 2020. He’s currently saving his money (and asking for help) to afford a cheap vehicle when he gets out in order to transport himself to work and school. His intentions are to parole out to the St. Louis area and attending a community college until he gets his basic credits and can transfer to a university. His eyes are set on the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Casey suffers from depression and has a history of schizophrenia. he describes himself as socially awkward and says he often feels misunderstood. He has a kind heart and he looks forward to getting out relatively soon and getting to see all of those who have shown him support over the years. He thanks you all.
Casey was recently transferred to the Farmington Correctional Center in Farmington, Missouri. In November, he will go before the parole board for the first and ONLY TIME and he needs your help!
Thoughtful and professional letters to the parole board by people who care about Casey and are willing to offer support to him during his transition back to life outside of prison can make it more likely that Casey will be released.
*Even though the letter should be addressed to the parole board, all letters should be sent directly to Casey and he will deliver them to the parole board:
Casey Brezik #1154765
Farmington Correctional Center
1012 West Columbia Street
Farmington, MO 63640
Anarchist prisoner Sean Swain is still being silenced by the state of Ohio and could use your letters. He’s potentially in the process of being transferred in an inter-state deal which will make his life way harder. Sean has communicated that he was at one point on hunger strike and is extremely isolated. You can write to Sean at :
Sean Swain #243-205
P.O. Box 120
Lebanon, Ohio 45036
It’s suggested that concerned listeners call
ODRC Director Stuart Hudson (614) 387-0588
Governor’s Counsel Kevin O’Donell Stanek (614) 466-3555
Callers should voice concern over Sean’s health, access to communication and the blocking of counsel from his recent RIB hearing that threatens to transfer him out of Ohio.
On IGD you can read the list of demands specific to NC prisoners that Joseph Stewart wrote back in July. He was transferred after the outside published his statement in support of the strike and has intermittently been left off of prisoner support call-ups so he can surely use some supporting letters at Polk CI where he is currently housed. You can write Joseph at :
Joseph D. Stewart
Butner, NC 27509
Three other prisoners in NC, are held within the Hyde Correctional Institution, a facility in Fairfield, NC, are being threatened with retaliation for their active support and organizing in solidarity with the national #PrisonStrike. They’re facing threats of administrative repression, as are any other fellow prisoners connected to the national strike. More info in our show notes
From a statement by the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement (RAM) and Vaughn17 Support in Philly:
On Feb. 1, 2017, after a series of peaceful protests yielded no results, incarcerated comrades took over a building at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Delaware to demand slight improvements in their treatment. After a 20-hour stand-off, the prison’s response was to literally bulldoze their barricades and figuratively bulldoze their demands, retaliating with constant beatings, destruction of prisoner property, and denial of food and medical care.
Furthermore, the state has accused 17 of the incarcerated with egregious offenses even though these charges have no basis in reality. The state’s response shows once again that any prisoners standing up for themselves, to regain dignity and achieve decent treatment, is a threat. And the state will collectively punish everyone and anyone to hide its barbarism. The only role of prison guards, wardens and the Department of Corrections (DOC) is the perpetuation of slavery and subjugation.
There is a call for court support for the 17, who will be attending trail in small groups, at New Castle County Courthouse, 500 N. King St., Wilmington, DE 19801. The first trial starts on Monday, October 8th and the last is slated for February 11th, 2019. People in the area interested in helping volunteer for court support can learn more by reading this IGD article.
A pdf of a poster with addresses, pictures and info on the 17 prisoners pulled into this case can be found here
This week on the Final Straw, we air two interviews.
In the first segment, we hear from two organizers with the Centro de Apoyo Mutuo or Mutual Aid Center in Caguas, Puerto Rico. Emilu and Kique talk about Caguas, about the colonial relationship between the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico, the post-hurricane disaster relief they’ve been doing as a continuation of social organizing in the wake of that colonialism, and building a network of C-A-Ms around Puerto Rico. More on their project can be found on fedbook.
Then we hear from Camille, a resident of the ZAD in Notre Dame des Landes in Western France. Camille shares the news of the recent French government statement that they are cancelling the planned airport in NDDL, which has been a goal of social movements and the land occupation at the ZAD. More info on that project can be found at zad.nadir.org. To hear our past interviews on the ZAD, check out this initial interview, this response to major demonstrations in Nantes, this conversation with participants at ZAD du Testet, this response to the police killing of Remi Fraisse in relation to the ZAD du Testet and this interview from Dissident Island Radio about State of Emergency.
Trans Prisoner Day of Solidarity, Event in Asheville
TOMORROW January 22nd is the 3rd annual Trans Prisoner Day of Solidarity as initiated in 2016 by eco-anarchist prisoner Marius Mason. Last year’s call-out, plus a list of some events around the U.S. can be found at itsgoingdown. If you’re in Asheville, Tranzmission Prison Project will be hosting a card signing event and discussion at 7pm at Firestorm Books and Coffee. Cards will be supplied and it’s suggested to bring vegan snacks to share.
Breaking News from the VA NLG
Third Charlottesville Counter-Protestor Arrested
January 21, 2018:
Charlottesville, VA: Mr. Donald Blakney was arrested at his home on Friday by Charlottesville Police Department (CPD). He is charged with Malicious Wounding — a felony that carries a 5 year minimum and the possibility of up to 20 years in prison.
On August 12, he was physically attacked by a participant in the Unite the Right rally, who also yelled racist slurs at him. Later that fall, he was questioned by CPD and the FBI under the pretext of the ongoing criminal investigation into right-wing violence that day.
The charges against Mr. Blakney are apparently based in part on a video broadcast by the ABC News program 20/20 that depicts him at the scene.
Mr. Blakney is the third counter-protester to be arrested and charged arising out of the events in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017. Corey Long and DeAndre Harris are both also facing criminal charges. All three are Black men and local residents who were attacked that day.
Mr. Blakney was released on personal recognizance Friday. He has an arraignment tomorrow, Monday January 22 at 10AM in Charlottesville General District Court and is requesting that supporters come in solidarity. Mr. Blakney is represented by attorneys Sandra Freeman and David Baugh.
The Heat is On: Update from Blue Ridge ABC on Week 1 of #OperationPUSH!
One week ago prison rebels across Florida launched Operation PUSH. Their demands were simple: end prison slavery and price gouging, restore access to parole, and put an end to the brutal conditions they are subjected to daily.
Information has been slow to trickle out due to intense repression and communication blackouts, but we know there has been strike participation at 15+ prisons, and we know that support on the outside is growing, with 150+ organizations endorsing the action and major solidarity actions in Florida occurring at various locations, including a 5-hour long occupation of the DOC office in Tallahassee on Tuesday.
The repression is already starting to come down: people being thrown into solitary confinement; being threatened with violence; being bribed to end their action and inform on other strike organizers; being transferred to new facilities to disburse strike activity throughout the system and isolate people.
One disturbing feature of this repression is DOC’s focus on identifying specific groups coordinating support on the outside such as the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons and IWOC and disrupting prisoners’ communication with these groups.
Prison organizers who correspond with these groups are being targeted for having their “security threat level” increased–a practice that translates into greater isolation and harsher conditions of confinement. One prisoner was told point blank, “As long as you communicate with these people you’re always going to be labelled a security threat and you’re always going to be put under investigation.”
Communication has been curtailed so severely that it’s hard to know how much of an economic impact the strike has had so far; we do know that in some cases scab labor has been brought in to keep facilities running. This state of uncertainty is a strategy prison administrators use to sap organizing energy. As IWOC recently wrote, “a common theme among report backs is the attempt to sever communication in order to create the perception of inactivity and break the spirits of those participating in the strike.”
But strikers won’t be fooled so easily, and neither will we. We will keep showing up because those on the inside are putting it all on the line, and we are in absolute solidarity with their courageous acts of resistance.
NOW IS THE TIME TO STEP UP OUR SUPPORT!
– Letter writing to striking prisoners TODAY at Firestorm, 4pm
– Join the “phone zap” (calling campaign” TOMORROW, MONDAY 1/22! Go to incarceratedworkers.org to find the call script and make those calls!
Yesterday marked the year anniversary of January 20th, 2017. The by now all too familiar litany of charges, events, numbers, police tactics, and trials sometimes bears repetition at, but at other times can obscure the human element at play, lives that have been varying degrees of upended or lost in this process.
Three days ago on January 18th 2018, 129 of the original defendants were acquitted of all charges “without prejudice”, a phrase that sounds benign and even somewhat positive. In actuality, it is in place here to protect the plaintiff (in this case, the state) from the defendant (here, the 129) invoking a doctrine called Res Judicata (meaning “a thing decided” in Latin), which essentially states that someone cannot be brought up on charges for the same thing twice.
I think it is important to belabor this point, not in any way to nay-say the relief that anyone may be feeling right now or diminish some very very well deserved congratulations, but to say again and again that the state is not here to give anyone who opposes it relief, or joy, or a sense of justice. The daily realities of so many of us who resist the state by our actions, beliefs, or our very existence is proof enough of the state’s essential nature. This phrase “without prejudice”, when used in the case of a dismissal of charges, means legally that the original charges could be brought again at any time, as though those charges never existed in the first place.
This is a very smart move on the part of the courts. It seems very likely that this was a carefully timed mass acquittal, having little to do with meting out so called guilt or innocence, and everything to do with attempting to fracture support and stymie momentum. They can be seen to be throwing us a bone while actually going ahead with their original intention.
What is unfortunate for the courts is that support for the J20 defendants is not being taken in by this tactic. This is a time for us to focus all our resources on the remaining 59 defendants, keep an eye or two on the shenanigans of the court trying to pull legal fast ones over on our comrades, and take care of ourselves and each other cause this is far from over.
You can see a beautiful statement of solidarity with the remaining defendants at defendj20resistance.org, and as always, keep up with developments in this case by following the hashtags or handles related to “defendj20” on all your fav social media platforms.
To see a list of actions and endeavors in this anniversary week, you can go to itsgoingdown.org.