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.
This week, Bursts spoke with Birch and Judy, two folks involved in the Tree Sits on Peter Mountain along the Appalachian Trail on the border of Virginia and West Virginia. The tree sits are operating in order to block the Mountain Valley Pipeline or MVP. Before all of the permits have been ok’d, contractors with the help of local law enforcement have been clearing the path for the pipeline. This preparation would include 3,800 feet blasted through the mountains or if that didn’t work the blasting of a trench that length through the mountains. We also talk about the ACP, or Atlantic Coast Pipeline, in this conversation and the connections between the two projects and their resistance.
These constructions (or destruction) and the resultant pipelines threaten the plants, animals (human and non) and all of the water systems along the route as well as continuing to foster an energy system that feeds off of the unsustainable extraction, transport and burning of fossil fuels to the short term benefit of a few government officials and capitalists and to the detriment of the entire world via anthropogenic, or human initiated, climate change.
For more information on the the Peters Mountain tree sit, the campaign against the MVP and how to join in or support where you are, check out the fedbook page Appalachians Against Pipelines. To keep up on resistance to the ACP, you can follow the twitter account, NoACP. And to learn more about anti-pipeline struggles in Virginia, in particular, check out the podcast, “End Of The Line“. We interviewed a producer of this project in an earlier episode.
Retraction of a previous Sean Swain segment
To open our announcements section, I’d like to air a brief statement in the spirit of accountability. As per the very reasonable request on the part of the folks doing support for Alvaro and Abraham, we have omitted the Sean Swain segment for the episode in which we interviewed Bruno Rennero-Hanan regarding Keep Loxicha Free, which originally aired on February 18th. The You Are the Resistance topic did not pair well with the main interview content, and the group that was being interviewed did not have any prior knowledge of the segment. We very much regret any confusion or discomfort that this caused, and all versions of the show have since been updated to remove the segment in question.
We would like to take a bit of space here to contextualize these segments for new listeners, which is to say that the Sean Swain segments are presented in the spirit of satire; Swain himself has been a political prisoner for over 25 years at this point, and his humor can get abrasive, but he is a committed believer in the dismantling of all forms of oppression. This is in no way to imply that they should be free of interrogation or troubling, and we are open to feedback on this segment and any other content we present!
Due to separate, technical difficulties, we are unable to air a Sean Swain segment this week. But fear not, Swainiacs, for next week Sean should be back. To brush up on the over 200 segments we’ve recorded of Sean over the years, please visit SeanSwain.org
Some Events in Asheville
Mutual Aid Disaster Relief Tour
At Firestorm in Asheville, NC, Mutual Aid Disaster Relief will continue it’s tour of 2 night presentations around the region with Protectors v. Profiteers: Communities in Resistance to Disaster Capitalism on March 9 @ 7:30 pm EST. The next day at 3pm(correction, had said noon in the podcast), in the basement of Firestorm, at Kairos, MADR will also host Part 2 of their tour, Giving Our Best, Ready For The Worst: Community Organizing as Disaster Preparedness. These events will be free. More info on these and other tour stops is available at https://mutualaiddisasterrelief.org.
Coming up: the group, Jewish Voice for Peace – Asheville presents a film screening of the 35-minute documentary Hebron, by Palestinian filmmaker and now Asheville resident Yousef Natsha, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with the filmmaker and other community members.
The showing will take place on Sunday, March 11th, at 3:00pm at THE BLOCK off Biltmore, 39 S Market St B in downtown Asheville. More info on the film can be found at his website here, and stay tuned for an interview with the filmmaker on this film and many other topics on this here radio platform!
Other Announcement: J20 West Coast Tour
J20 West Coast Speaking Tour will be doing a daily stops down the Pacific coast of Turtle Island. Today, March 4th, they’ll be in Olympia, Monday the 5th they’ll be in Portland, Tuesday they’ll be in Eugene… etc, ending up (announced so far) in Tuscon on March 18th. If you find yourself in that route and want to hear the voices of defendants and build that movement support, give a visit to http://defendj20resistance.org/blog/ and find the link and image.
Support Ruchell Cinque Magee!
(at ~ 8 min, 40 sec)
And here’s an announcement about the man who may be the longest held political prisoner in the world. Ruchell was originally from Franklinton, La., he was falsely charged with “attempted rape” for being with a White girl in KKK territory. He was 16 and sentenced to the infamous Angola State Prison. Ruchell Magee was politicized alongside George Jackson and was involved in the Marin County Courthouse Rebellion alongside Jonathan Jackson, William Christmas and James McClain in 1971. He’ll be up for parole this year after 54 years behind bars, 7 of which were for his prior conviction.
Ruchell is the longest held political prisoner in the U.S., having been locked up since 1963. Politicized in prison, he later participated in the Marin County Courthouse Rebellion, the attempted liberation of political prisoner George Jackson. Ruchell Magee pled guilty to the charge of aggravated kidnapping for his part in the assault. In return for his plea, the Attorney General asked the Court to dismiss the charge of murder (Magee being the shooter of Judge Haley). Magee later attempted unsuccessfully to withdraw his plea, and was sentenced in 1975 to life in prison. He has lost numerous bids for parole. He has also worked tirelessly as a jailhouse lawyer, working on his own case and helping many other prisoners win their freedom.
He had been in L.A. for 6 months when he and his cousin Leroy got in a fight over a $10 bag of marijuana. In court, the two ended up with trumped up charges of kidnapping and robbery and he was given life in prison.
While in prison Ruchell began learning the long and rich history of Black liberation history. He adopted the middle name of Cinque, after the enslaved African who led the takeover of the slave ship Amistad, which eventually lead to the freedom of all the people being held on board. He began petitioning his unjust sentence to no avail. Although critically wounded on August 7, 1970, Magee was the sole survivor among the four brave Black men who conducted the courthouse slave rebellion, leaving him to be charged with everything they could throw at him.
Here is some background on the Marin Courthouse Incident
On August 7th, 1970 Jonathan Jackson, age 17, George’s younger brother, raided the Marin Courtroom and tossed guns to prisoners William Christmas and James McClain, who in turn invited Ruchell to join them. Ru seized the hour spontaneously as they attempted to escape by taking a judge, assistant district attorney and three jurors as hostages in that audacious move to expose to the public the brutally racist prison conditions and free the Soledad Brothers (John Clutchette, Fleeta Drumgo, and George Jackson).
McClain was on trial for assaulting a guard in the wake of Black prisoner Fred Billingsley’s murder by prison officials in San Quentin in February, 1970. With only four months before a parole hearing, Magee had appeared in the courtroom to testify for McClain.
The four revolutionaries successfully commandeered the group to the waiting van and were about to pull out of the parking lot when Marin County Police and San Quentin guards opened fire. When the shooting stopped, Judge Harold Haley, Jackson, Christmas, and McClain lay dead; Magee was unconscious and seriously wounded as was the prosecutor. A juror suffered a minor injury. In a chain of events leading to August 7, on January 13, 1970, a month before the Billingsley slaughter, a tower guard at Soledad State Prison had shot and killed three Black captives on the yard, leaving them unattended to bleed to death — Cleveland Edwards, “Sweet Jugs” Miller, and the venerable revolutionary leader, W. L. Nolen, all active resisters in the Black Liberation Movement behind the walls.
After the common verdict of “justifiable homicide” was returned and the killer guard exonerated at Soledad, another white-racist guard was beaten and thrown from a tier to his death. Three prisoners, Fleeta Drumgo, John Clutchette, and Jackson were charged with his murder precipitating the case of The Soledad Brothers and a campaign to free them led by college professor and avowed Communist, Angela Davis, and Jonathan Jackson.
Magee had already spent at least seven years studying law and deluging the courts with petitions and lawsuits to contest his own illegal conviction in two fraudulent trials. As he put it, the judicial system “used fraud to hide fraud” in his second case after the first conviction was overturned on an appeal based on a falsified transcript. His strategy, therefore, centered on proving that he was a slave, denied his constitutional rights and held involuntarily.
Therefore, he had the legal right to escape slavery as established in the case of the African slave, Cinque, who had escaped the slave ship, Armistad, and won freedom in a Connecticut trial. Thus, Magee had to first prove he’d been illegally and unjustly incarcerated for over seven years. He also wanted the case moved to the Federal Courts and the right to represent himself.
Moreover, Magee wanted to conduct a trial that would bring to light the racist and brutal oppression of Black prisoners throughout the state. “My fight is to expose the entire system, judicial and prison system, a system of slavery.. This will cause benefit not just to myself but to all those who at this time are being criminally oppressed or enslaved by this system.”
On the other hand, Angela Davis, his co-defendant, charged with buying the guns used in the raid, conspiracy, etc., was innocent of any wrongdoing because the gun purchases were perfectly legal and she was not part of the original plan. Davis’ lawyers wanted an expedient trial to prove her innocence on trumped up charges. This conflict in strategy resulted in the trials being separated. Davis was acquitted of all charges and released in June of 1972.
Ruchell fought on alone, losing much of the support attending the Davis trial. After dismissing five attorneys and five judges, he won the right to defend himself. The murder charges had been dropped, and Magee faced two kidnap charges. He was ultimately convicted of PC 207, simple kidnap, but the more serious charge of PC 209, kidnap for purposes of extortion, resulted in a disputed verdict. According to one of the juror’s sworn affidavit, the jury voted for acquittal on the PC 209 and Magee continues to this day to challenge the denial and cover-up of that acquittal.
Ruchell turns 79 years old this month and eligible for parole for several reasons, including the impanelment of a federal three-judge order to release elderly prisoners to reduce the prison population.
You can write to Ruchell by addressing mail to:
Magee, Ruchell #A92051 B3-270
California Men’s Colony State Prison
PO Box 8103
San Luis Obispo,, CA 93409-8103
To read a recent article by former Black Panther Kiilu Nyasha including words by Ruchell, you can go to the SF Bay View.
First, there’s the interview that Bursts held with Michael Davis Africa Jr., a member of the MOVE organization. MOVE is a Philadelphia-based black liberation group founded by John Africa in 1972. The group lives communally. During the conversation, Michael Jr. talks about the case of the MOVE9, who were 9 members of that group who were arrested and accused of the killing of a police officer in 1978 in Philadelphia, a charge they each deny. Officer James Ramp was killed following a year of the Philly PD blockading the house for a year under an eviction order and the police besieged the house on August 8th, 1978. The MOVE 9 have been incarcerated for almost 40 years now, with Merle & Phil dying behind bars. Police and white supremacist affiliated groups have successfully gotten parole denied for Eddie, Michael and Delbert Africa over the last 9 months as they do for many Political Prisoners from the 1960’s through 80’s in the U.S. There are upcoming are parole hearings for Janet, Janine and Debbie Africa and more info on who to petition for their release can be found at http://onamove.com/move-9/. The name of the D.A. who prosecuted the MOVE9 in 1978 and who is still on the paperwork and has a say on the parole of the MOVE9 40 years later is named John Straub.
Coming up this Saturday, February 24th starting at 4pm there’ll be an event called “Framed In America: The Making of Political Prisoners”. This will take place at The National Black Theater, 2031 5th Ave in Harlem, New York and will include presentations by Ramona Africa, Fred Hampton Jr, Pam Africa, Roger Wareham, Betty Davis, Ralph Poynter and Johanna Fernandez. More info can be found on the Justice for the Move 9 fedbook group.
Stare Into The Light My Pretties
The second conversation you’ll hear today is an interview by Dissident Island Radio from London from their February 2nd episode. In this, a collective member interviews Filmmaker Jordan Brown, director of ‘Stare Into the Lights My Pretties’, discussing their documentary about screen culture and its implications. The film is available for free on archive.org, youtubeand at truthstreammedia.com. DI is a member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts available at channelzeronetwork.com.
Anarcho-Syndicalist Organizing in Kosovo
Finally, we’ll be airing an interview conducted by our friends at Črna Luknja on Radio Student in Lubjlana, Slovenia, that they conducted with members of an anarcho-syndicalist collective from Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. This segment was released as a part of the February 2018 edition of B(A)DNews: Angry Voices From Around The World, from the A-Radio Network of which The Final Straw, Črna Luknja and Dissident Island are members.
Mere days before FDC’s repression effort began scattering active prisoners into new facilities, and into solitary confinement for the weeks surrounding January 15, an Operation PUSH prisoner’s anonymous voice reached the world and called on outside supporters to “shine a light from the outside in on the system.”
In essence, this prisoner saw what was coming and passed the torch to us on the outside. With three clear demands and a simple strategy, this invisible group of prisoners gave a glimpse of what could be, if the networks of outside solidarity and inside communication could coalesce.
While we have heard from many prisoners since January 15, we know that the vast majority of FL prisoners still do not know how much support they garnered on the outside. And many who made plans to struggle together have not seen or heard from each other in weeks. In many ways, the next steps towards victory for them are in our hands.
It is with this understanding that a group of us on the outside are developing an additional list of demands, based primarily on communication from prisoners we’ve gotten in recent weeks, that aims to honor the countless who have suffered major sacrifices to develop or report on Operation PUSH as well as those who had no idea what it was, but were punished preemptively simply because they were viewed as potential organizers or participants.
We will do all we can to bring these demands to FDC, the Governor and State Legislature, in an effort to carry the prisoners’ vision for Operation PUSH forward.
In addition to the Operation PUSH demands of payment, parole and pricing, we, supporters of all Florida prisoners struggling for dignity, demand:
An end to censorship of publications that give voice to prisoners and/or critique prisons;
An end to repression of prisoners for communication with outside advocates;
An end to the use of Security Threat Group status as a means for political repression;
An end to strip cells and extreme temperatures to torture prisoners;
An explanation of the cause for a major spike in 2017 prisoner deaths;
Protection of prisoners health from nearby industrial activity, including phosphate mining and landfills;
An end to black mold-infested facilities, spoiled food and dilapidated buildings;
Removal of all KKK members, and other recognized racist hate groups, from FDC staff;
An end to the medical co-pay that results in financial debt and untreated illness;
An immediate reduction in prison population using existing guidelines for clemency; and
A face-to-face meeting with FDC officials to further discuss these matters.
This week William got the chance to speak to Bruno Renero-Hannan, who is an anarchist historical anthropologist from Mexico City, about their solidarity work around two of the original 250 Loxicha Prisoners in the state of Oaxaca. This rebellion and imprisonment occurred almost simultaneously to the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas in the mid-late 90s with very different results. We talk about the long and complex history of this case, the similarities and differences between this uprising and that of the Zapatistas, the ongoing political repression of Alvaro Ramirez and Abraham Ramirez, and the economic solidarity push being orgainized by our guest, as well as some stark parallels between this case and that of the remaining 59 J20 defendants. If you would like to see the 45 minute broadcast edit of this interview, you can go to The Final Straw Radio Collection on archive.org.
As per the very reasonable request on the part of the folks doing support for Alvaro and Abraham, we have omitted the Sean Swain segment for this episode. The You Are the Resistance topic did not pair well with the main interview content nor were Keep Loxicha Free supporters aware of the segment. We regret any confusion or discomfort that this caused.
We would like to take a bit of space here to explain to new listeners that many of the Sean Swain segments are meant in the spirit of satire; Swain himself has been a political prisoner for over 25 years at this point, and his humor is sometimes abrasive, but he is a committed believer in the dismantling of all forms of oppression.
He and we are open to feedback on this segment, and any content we present!
Sean Swain #243-205 Warren CI P.O. Box 120 Lebanon, Ohio 45036
Resist Nazis in Tennessee
On Saturday, Feb 17, Matthew Heinbach of the Traditionalist Workers Party will be speaking at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville from 1-4pm. If you don’t like this, you can contact the University by calling 8659749265 and demand that they disinvite this open neo-nazi organizer from their campus!
Some Benefits in Asheville
For the drinkers in Asheville, this week features two libation-centric benefits for books to prisoners projects.
On Wednesday, February 14, Valentines Day, three bars in Asheville will be participating in a drink special that will raise money for Tranzmission Prison Project, our local LGBT books to prisoners project with a national scope. You can visit the Crow & Quill on Lexington, the Lazy Diamond around the corner in Downtown or the Double Crown on Haywood in West Asheville on Wednesday for more details.
On Thursday, February 15th at the Catawba’s South Slope Tasting Room & Brewery (32 Banks Avenue #105) for their first New Beer Thursday fundraiser of 2018!! Starting with the release on the 15th and running through March, a portion of the cost of every glass of their pomegranate sour sold will be donated to the Asheville Prison Books Program!
More events coming up this week include: Thursday the 15th at 7pm Blue Ridge ABC is holding a benefit show at Static Age for a local activists with a sliding scale cost. Bands featured are Kreamy Lectric Santa, Cloudgayzer, Secret Shame, Falcon Mitts & Chris Head
Later that night in Asheville, the monthly benefit dance party called HEX will be holding an event at the Mothlight to raise money and materials for A-Hope, which provides services locally to houseless and poor folks. Bring socks, footwear and camping gear to donate!
On Tuesday, April 20th at 6pm at The Shell Studio, 474 Haywood Rd on the second floor, there will be a showing of the locally produced documentary entitled Hebron about human rights struggles in Palestine.
On Friday the 23rd at 6:30pm, the Steady Collective will be participating in a Harm Reduction forum at the Haywood Street Congregation at 297 Haywood St. in downtown.
Also that night, BRABC will be showing the latest TROUBLE documentary by sub.media at 7:30pm at firestorm books and coffee. This will be a second on Student Organizing around the world.
Finally, on Saturday the 24th 9am to 3pm at Rainbow School, 60 State Street in Asheville there’ll be a Really Really Free Market organized by the Blue Ridge General Defense Committee or GDC. Bring stuff that’s still good to share and come back with other stuff that’s still good for free! Perfect for spring cleaning or dealing with inclement weather on a budget.
A Call for Art Submissions for ACAB2018…
A reminder that if you are the sensitive, artistic type, the ACAB2018, or Asheville Carolina Anarchist Bookfair is soliciting art for fundraising and advertising purposes. If you have image ideas that you can put into action and want to share them, that’d be dope. We’re looking for things we can put onto postcards, t-shirts, posters and other swag to spread word about the event and help us cover the costs of operation. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
…and for Yours Truly at TFS
Likewise, if you are feeling artsy fartsy and want to help out this show, we’re looking for swag imagery, either as a logo or a standalone piece of art we can feature for fundraising purposes. If you like the show and want to help, post your files on share.riseup.net and send us a link at email@example.com or share it with one of our social media identities. If we choose to use your art, we’ll send you a mix tape with one side produced by each of our regular contributing editors.
First, we air a portion of Ursula K. Le Guin’s acceptance speech from the 2014 National Book Awards, where she received the Lifetime Acheivement award. Ursula K. Le Guin, wrote fantasy and sci-fi for 77 years of her life, contributing many books such as The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Word for World is Forest & The Earthsea Series. She died on Monday, January 22nd at the age of 88. Her fiction touched on many themes, including anarchism, taoism, gender, environmentalism, sociology, anthropology and psychology. Her official website is here. The full video this was pulled from, including the introduction by Neil Gaiman can be found here.
The third and fourth portion of CKUT’s Prison Radio Show interviews with former Black Panther and BLA Political Prisoner of War Jalil Muntaqim. In the third segment, Jalil speak about being incarcerated during the Attica Uprising, the ideas of Intercommunalism, Internationalism and Nationalism, as well as the idea of revolution. In the final portion, Jalil speaks on spirituality and politics, ISIS and a message to rappers. More of his writings and info on his case can be found at freejalil.com
Support Kevin Rashid Johnson!
We are nearing the end of the second week of #OperationPUSH!, which is described in a statement released by participants, as a work stoppage or “laydown” in at least eight prison facilities around the state of Florida. The beginning of this plan coincided with Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday on January 15th 2018, in protest of the deplorable conditions in FL prisons. This comes hot on the heels of the September 9th prison strike which took place in 2016 on the 45th anniversary of Attica, and disrupted operations in dozens if not hundreds of prisons across the country. This is being called the largest prison strike in US history, and was followed by several subsequent strikes all over the country. It has been difficult to get information about OperationPUSH!; FL prisons are being predictably recalcitrant and have also been imposing communication blackouts for even suspected participants.
However, there has been one major insight into this situation in the form of an article by Kevin Rashid Johnson entitled Florida Prisoners are Laying It Down. In this article, Rashid (who is a prison journalist and self taught paralegal) describes conditions within Florida prisons in detail, including the high cost of goods in the commissary coupled with the fact of forced and unpaid labor, up to and including a culture of abuse and neglect by prison staff. In retaliation, Rashid has been thrown into an unheated cell, with no working toilet and with a window that cannot properly close, making the temperature equal to the subzero environment outside.
This is a clear sign of retaliatory torture, and surely is what Rashid calls “a true emergency”. It is urgently requested that people call the prison to advocate for and demand the immediate cessation of this abuse on the part of the prison!
Warden Barry Reddish
Florida State Prison
Raiford, FL 32083 904-368- 2500
The demands are:
Move Johnson (#158039) to a properly climate controlled cell with working toilet
Immediately allow Mr. Johnson to make phone calls to his attorneys
Stop retaliating against him for reporting on conditions within your prisons.
A little heads up about media worth checking out. This week, It’s Going Down aired a podcast interview with an anarchist in the U.S. who’s from Turkey about the Turkish assaults on Afrin, one of the cantons of Rojava, the autonomous Kurdish region in Northern Syria. Afrin is administered by the Democratic Confederalist PYD and defended by the YPG & YPJ militias. The interview covers some of the history as relevant to anarchists, some of the developments of Rojava through the Syrian Civil War, their alliance with the United States and Rojava’s relationship with Turkey and other states involved in the proxy wars in the region. This interview is well worth a listen, and hopefully can aid you in organizing reading groups, fundraisers or demonstrations in your area in support of Rojava and it’s tenuous experiment.
An Update from Us!
Just a little heads up, too, we’re messing with our podcast a little bit, not so much in format but more so in distribution. So, we set up a soundcloud with the three latest episodes and all of the episodes in our podcast stream are now up youtube though the videos only plays our show as you’d hear with the episode image as the background. If those platforms are your deal, swing by and follow us. I’d also like to remind y’all that we’re up on itunes. If you go into that blasted program and rate our content and write reviews, it fucks with the algorithms and will make the show visible to wider audiences.
Also, I’d like to reiterate what we say in the introduction to the show, that we have a free edition of the show that’s 59 minutes in length and falls within the requirements of the FCC here in the U.S. for radio broadcast. If you have a community or college radio station in your area and you’d like to hear us up on the airwaves, getting into folks’ cars, houses, jail cells, work places or whatever by the magical accident of radio science, check out our Radio Broadcasting link at our website, hit us up on social media or email us to get the ball rolling. In addition, we suggest getting some friends together to petition the local radio overlords to get us on their station.
Finally, just to remind y’all, we love hearing feedback and show suggestions. Finding a different person or persons every week to fill an hour with interesting content is hard work, and cues from y’all really helps us plug away at this volunteer endeavor. As always, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week on the Final Straw we feature 2 interviews.
Walid, an asylum seeker held at the Manus Regional Process Center, Papua New Guinea
First up, you’ll hear a conversation that Bursts had with a refugee seeking asylum in Australia. His name is Walid, he is 24 years old and from Afghanistan. Manus Regional Processing Centre, where Walid is being held alongside nearly 450 other men, is a facility on Papua New Guinea on the PNG Lombrum Naval Base. The processing center, from here out called Manus for short or MRPC, was run up until October 31st by the Spanish multinational company Grupo Ferrovial on behalf of the Australian Government as a way of off-shoring the housing of people seeking asylum. The center was closed October 31st after the Papuan Supreme Court determined the facility unconstitutional in breech of the promise of personal liberty.
So, the Australian government withdrew it’s medical workers, shut off electricity and water and food shipments. However, the residents of MRPC have refused to be resettled into other facilities in PNG due to fears of physical harm by members of the PNG Defence Forces, as is alleged to have happened in April of this year, as well as violence coming from local gangs wielding machetes and other weapons. The population of the island is just short of 6,000 people and locals have expressed concern that resettlement would affect their economy greatly. In the conversation, Walid mentions two fellows from the MRPC who were found recently hung by their necks in the jungle near the Processing Centre as a proof of danger the refugees face if they leave the premises.
The Obama administration had agreed in 2016 to resettle many of Australia’s asylum seekers. However, do you remember that first presidential phone call that Trump made, where he ended by saying it was a stupid deal and it was the worst conversation ever? That was #45 chatting with Australia’s Prime Minister Turnbull about the resettlement deal for refugees on Nauru and Manus Islands. Cancelling that at the time fed into the issues in PNG & Australia’s national politics with the refugees being caught in the middle as pawns. The U.S. has now apparently changed it’s tune about the Asylum seekers, having applied for whatever “extreme vetting” it was seeking and has taken in 24 of the men and resettling them.
I will admit to being a bit ignorant of the situation in Manus that people like Walid are facing, but what I do understand is this: borders are imprisoning some of the most marginalized people fleeing dangerous situations and holding them in dire circumstances. The men at the Manus Regional Processing Centre are refusing to leave for fear of their lives and in hopes of reaching a safer space and are being starved by bureaucracy. And many Australians are voicing a desire to resettle these people on the mainland.
We at the Final Straw wish the residents of MRPC the best of luck and solidarity and will continue to air their words as we receive them.
Aaaaalso, a big big big thanks to Linda from Subversion1312 podcast for helping us make this contact with Walid and with some pointers on the questions. Definitely check out their work, it’s (under various names) one of the longer running English-language anarchist radio shows and is jam packed
Sara Falconer and Daniel McGowan on the 2018 Certain Days Calendar for Political Prisoners
Secondly, we are airing an interview presented recently by the Which Side media collective with Sara Falconer and Daniel McGowan about the 2018 Certain Days Calendar for Political Prisoners. Jordan Halliday and Jeremy Parkin host the interview, and range along a wide array of ideas and topics.
From the show notes “The calendar is a joint fundraising and educational project between outside organizers in Montreal and Toronto, and three political prisoners being held in maximum-security prisons in New York State: David Gilbert, Robert Seth Hayes and Herman Bell. The initial project was suggested by Herman, and has been shaped throughout the process by all of our ideas, discussions, and analysis. All of the members of the outside collective are involved in day-to-day organizing work other than the calendar, on issues ranging from refugee and immigrant solidarity to community media to prisoner justice. We work from an anti-imperialist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, feminist, queer and trans positive position.”
If you’d like to hear The Final Straw’s conversation with Herman Bell’s daughter in law Dr Kihana Ross which details the incident mentioned in the interview plus some more about his case, you can visit our website.
Whichside Podcast is a member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts, of which we are as well. Check out our website for a steady stream of up to date anarchist audios and keep an eye out for our mobile app coming soon.
Audios of Interest:
Just a heads up, if you missed it. we launched our occasionally weekly intro to tech security podcast series, Error451 this week with a conversation on safer approaches to burner phones. Check it out and keep an ear out for more!
First this week, we had the opportunity to speak with Dr Kihana Mariah Ross, who is the daughter in law of Herman Bell, a former member of the Black Panther Party and a political prisoner who is currently clocking 44 years behind bars. We will speak about recent developments in his case, plus some historical context, and actionable items moving forward.
To learn more about Herman Bell and to read some of his writings, you can visit freehermanbell.org. To send him a card – and be aware that his 70th birthday is on January 14th and his upcoming parole hearing is in February 2018 – you can write to him at
Herman Bell 79 C 0262
P.O. Box 700
Wallkill, NY 12589-0700
How Best to use Signal?
In the second segment of today’s episode, we’ll air another conversation with William Budington, a digital security expert and trainer about the Signal end-to-end text encryption app for smart phones and desktops. Signal, produced by WhisperSys, is an easy to use, free means for folks to avoid one type of surveillance in their day to day communication. The ubiquitous, normalized use of encryption shields the purpose of the use, obscuring whether the practice is to shield illegal activity or not. In the conversation we talk about the human failure side of communication, as well as the informational leakage possibilities of the devices we use to engage Signal app. If you really enjoy the pie-baking/Betty Crocker metaphor, don’t despair, it doesn’t end with this segment. Check out more on this topic in our occasional series, Error451.
Stay tuned soon for a conversation with William about burner phones and more. If you have a topic about digital security, devices and programs, surveillance or related topics, leave us a suggestion at email@example.com ! If you want our pgp key, check our website.
Now, it’s my turn for a brief editorial, dear listeners. This is Bursts. I grew up in a part of so-called California known as Sonoma County, lands stolen from the Pomo and the Miwok peoples first by the Spanish, then by Mexico and Russia and then the U.S. I lived there from the mid-1980’s through 2009 and consider it my home in a way I could no other place. The rolling hills, the foggy mornings, the Coastal Live Oak groves, the nasty but 100 year old Eucalyptis groves, the early evening sky that turns a goldish orange into purple, the Manzanita, the people, the ocean breeze coming out from Bodega. These are things that I remember fondly from the deeply damaged yet still beautiful biome I called home for most (and definitely the more formative years) of my life.
This has been a year for spectacular disasters around this hemisphere, with a record 10th hurricane now appearing in the Carribean and southern U.S., 2 major earthquakes rocking Mexico and now the fires in Northern and Southern California. The fires in the north, which I’ve been paying more attention to because they QUITE literally bring home to me a sense of devastation I still haven’t been able to digest from this distance, have been whipped up by winds, a seasonal dryness out of the ordinary and fed by the aftermath of a wet winter that created a ton of easy-to-burn fuels. California has long been racked by fires, but never this many deaths and never have they consumed large parts of cities as they have with Santa Rosa. Thousands of homes have been turned to ash, monuments standing over a hundred years are cinders, human and non-human animals have been killed, damaged and displaced. California is yet another part of the world feeling the first hand effects of anthropogenic climate change, after years of over-taxing it’s water levels with large scale and animal and food agriculture, it’s manicured industrial lawns, the barely regulated weed industry booming, the building of human settlements in the middle of deserts and the idea promoted by high levels of industry and state that as the 6th largest economy in the world it could buy itself climate chaos. Day by day, year by year, this is proven more and more a delusion. But I digress.
I’d like to give a shout out to the brave folks doing search and rescue in my home away from home, the neighbors who look out for each other, that roused each other from sleep to escape the fire storms, who shelter and feed each other. Also to the fire professionals who are working to fight back the fires. An element of this that is under reported, of course, is the fact that over a thousand prisoners of the state of California and it’s included counties, are putting their lives on the line for $1 to $2.56 a day to train and then fight these blazes. That can be compared to the $31.85 an hour of the median hourly wage for non-inmate firefighters. I would like to bring this up because as the climate becomes more chaotic and the ever-tighter squeeze of austerity capitalism turns further and further away from more sustainable and stable incomes like unionized firefighters this continues a nasty trend.
Putting prisoners on the fire lines to fight the blazes, while more deadly for them than other modes of work, arguably offers them a potentially more meaningful and lucrative engagement with community service. This also fuels the profit motive of governments bent on incarcerating mostly poor communities of color, often people with chemical dependencies and neuro-divergencies the state can’t be bothered to treat but to stick them in a concrete and steel cage. More prisoners means more low-pay and expendable firefighters who’s crime was to be born the wrong color or class in the age of mass incarceration. I don’t bring this up to denigrate those risking themselves to save lives and homes, whether a prisoner or not, but to point out that this is not how a community organizes itself for it’s members, this is the logic of capital and thus streams value to the top of the pyramid.
My heart goes out to those who suffer at the hands of these fires. Let’s fight for futures where we are better prepared, where we don’t employ slave labor to fight them, and everyone has what they need to live in true community, which means true accountability to the impact of our survival on the non-human environment with which we share this awesome world.
Secondly, our comrade and sometimes contributor Disembodied Voice shares several short interviews with members of politicized prisoner Keith Malik Washington’s support team.
Comrade Malik, as he is known to his friends and supporters, is currently in solitary confinement in Texas at Eastham Unit, where he was placed as retaliation for coordinating a work stoppage during last year’s nationwide prison strike on September 9th. In addition to his work around the End Prison Slavery movement, Malik is a member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of the IWW and the Deputy Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party prison chapter, and is active in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign.
Malik has an extensive network of support nationally and even internationally, both within and outside of the anarchist community. The interviews we will share today show the diversity of backgrounds, motivations, and stories that go into forming a support network for those engaged in revolutionary struggle while incarcerated, which is to say, from behind enemy lines. The conversations cover a wide range of topics, including a look at the range of issues prison activists like Malik work around; the kinds of relationships prison activists form with their supporters on the outside; the importance of being in solidarity across identities and political labels; and what a revolutionary abolitionist movements means to the people doing this work.
As Malik would say: DARE TO STRUGGLE. DARE TO WIN. ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE.
Keith ‘Comrade Malik’ Washington
2665 Prison Road #1
Lovelady, TX 75851
The audio for these interviews is a bit rough because the interviews were done somewhat on the fly. Stay tuned (look for?) a transcript of these interviews in order to make comprehension a bit easier! It should come out sometime within the next two weeks.
Dear listeners, we would like to invite you to give a listen to the newest edition of the International Anarchist Radio Network’s monthly podcast, B(A)D News: Angry Voices From Around The World, fresh for September 2017. This 4th episode, available at our website, is about 45 minutes of updates from projects based in the UK, Chile, Greece, the Aegean Sea, Germany, El Salvador and from us!
Feel free to give a listen to ARadio Berlin’s Charlottesville reportback episode, done with none other than your host William Goodenuff. This was geared toward an international audience, so the news may not be new to a US based listening crowd, but if you want to hear why one of your hosts has been a lil absent for a sec, this is why. Everything’s fine tho, and I’ll be back to opine over the airwaves next week.
This week we’ll be taking a little break. We’ll be sharing a short interview conducted by friends of ours at Prison Radio at CKUT from the studios of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec in so-called Canada. This interview is the first of a few with Jalil Muntaqim, incarcerated since 1971 as an accused member of the Black Liberation Army. In the interview, he talks about his conviction, about the Counter Intelligence Program of the FBI (COINTELPRO) used against the Black Panthers, and the participation of the Policeman’s Benevolent Association and Fraternal Order of Police in pressing to withhold parole from Jalil and others of the New York 3. More segments speaking with Jalil about his case and his attempt to build power in supporting Jalil in his bid for parole while resisting the efforts of the racists at the BPA & FOP’s to make him die in prison.
The first conversation is with a supporter of Kara Wild. Kara is an anarchist, a trans woman, an artist and is currently incarcerated and awaiting trial in France for participation in the Nuit Debout protests that swept across France in 2016 against changes to labor laws in that country. Kara was arrested on May 16, 2017 and will finally be going to trial Sept 19-22nd and so could use some immediate support. More information on Kara’s case can be found at freekarawild.org.
* Here’s a little background on the Aachen robbery case referenced in the interview.
* And here’s a guide to writing to Lisa of the Aachen Case
* Solidarity to Aachen from International Revolutionary People’s Guerrilla Forces
* Info about the Kalimero Solidarity Group
* An article about Damien’s release
* An article about Damien being beaten
* Kara retracts her apology that she was weaseled into giving to the judge by her previous lawyer. She really regretted it and after Krem was arrested, she decided to retract her apology.
To write to Kara:
BRAULT, David (Kara) #428682,
MAH de Fleury, 7 Ave des Peupliers,
91705, Fleury Merogis, Cedex, FRANCE
Conflict in Movement
Next, we do something a little experimental. We present a conversation with a member of an anti-authoritarian movement in Europe. We don’t say what movement. We talk about conflict internal to their movement, but we don’t name the parties involved. The conversation was conducted from an anti-authoritarian perspective, in the interest of creating heterogeneous communities of struggle. The purpose of this recording is to promote a mental exercise on the part of the listener to plug in their own experiences in movements with many different trajectories inside of it. The anonymous nature of the conversation was in part to not contribute to internal conflict to the movement, conflict is better addressed between parties involved than with an outside party (our radio show) who’s interest may not be the same as the movement. I hope that this conversation is helpful, for all of it’s purposeful vagueness.
If you are in Asheville, there will be a benefit for North Carolina grand jury resister Katie Yow on Tuesday the 29th of August at the Double Crown on Haywood Road in West Asheville. There will be bbq of the vegan and non vegan sorts, plus a great lineup of bands including Margaret Killjoy’s Nomadic War Machine, Snake Musk and Wyatt Yurth and the Gold Standard.
Yow, who is a social worker with a professional past in education, has been an anarchist for over half her life. Her commitment to resist this grand jury shows a bravery in the face of the kinds of trauma and isolation that only the state can instill, yet she has named this resistance as “the easiest decision I have ever made”.
Stay tuned for an interview with Katie Yow and a supporter on next week’s Final Straw!
For more information on Yow, updates on her resistance, and many resources on grand juries and grand jury resistance, you can visit https://ncresiststhegrandjury.com/
Cvill, AVL, and Calls for Solidarity
It’s been a week and a day since the events in Charlottesville, and for me it is a bit difficult to know what to say. There have been many excellent report backs – from Solecast, It’s Going Down, CrimethInc Ex Worker, and Radical Underground podcast – definitely check those out for in depth analysis and on the ground perspectives from anarchists and antifascists. Since Cville there have been very well publicised resistances to fascism and ongoing white supremacy in Durham, Boston, and right here in Asheville where four brave community members attempted the removal of a plaque commemorating Robert E. Lee at downtown’s Vance Monument. These four folks put themselves and their safety on the line to fight white supremacy and racist, revisionist history by engaging in this act. If you want to read a statement from these folks or donate to their legal fund, you can visit youcaring.com and search for “Asheville Monument Removal Legal Fund”.
Activity seems relentless right now, with elements on both sides galvanized by recent events, marches and calls to action are coming fast and furious. It is important to mobilize, but mobilize wisely, in the spirit of complete honesty about your capacities and energy. We cannot fight longterm unless we fight alongside all our comrades, support those who put themselves or are on the frontlines, and help prioritize all levels of antifascist engagement and accompliceship.
With that in mind, I want to say that if you are interested in keeping up with these calls or solidarity keep your eyes on itsgoingdown.org for announcements and updates.
One that’d like to mention right now are a call for solidarity in Phoenix AZ. This is a “call for an anti-fascist & anti-colonial contingent against Trump’s rally on Tuesday, August 22 at 6pm at the Phoenix Convention Center.
We will converge, in the spirit of solidarity and hostility to the current order, and as a physical body ready to act in self-defense and mutual protection of each other from cops, fascists, and liberal/radical ‘peace police.'”
This rally is a reaction to Trump’s suspected decision to pardon former AZ sheriff Joe Arpaio who was recently found guilty of criminal contempt for defying a state judge’s order to stop traffic patrols targeting suspected undocumented immigrants. Those patrols were kept in place by Arpaio for 17 months after the order was issued. This same sherrif rose to infamy for his intentionally cruel and sadistic treatment of incarcerated people.
This rally will be held on Tuesday, August 22 at 6pm at the Phoenix Convention Center at 100 N. 3rd St. in downtown Phoenix. It’s recommended that people arrive and look for the black flags.
On August 12th in Charlottesville, many IWW and GDC members from across the country were present. Members of Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Committee, or MACC, from New York City also had members present at the vehicular manslaughter that occurred that day. The NYC GDC and MACC stand in solidarity with all those who oppose the growing wave of fascism around the world. Cowardly attacks will only strengthen our resolve to fight back and defend ourselves. An injury to one is an injury to all!
To support all those injured by fascist violence in Charlottesville, NYC GDC of the IWW as well as MACC are holding a fundraiser and screening of the latest episode of “Trouble” by SubMedia at Rebecca’s, at 610 Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn on Sunday, August 27th from 8pm to 10pm. “Trouble” is a new monthly documentary series that broadcasts first-hand accounts of struggles for community self-defense. Previous episodes have explored topics like water protectors fighting the construction of the DAPL pipeline at Standing Rock, anti-fascist organizing, solidarity efforts for refugees and resistance to state repression. SubMedia has encouraged groups to host screenings of the show to bring communities together and provoke discussion of tactics, struggles and movement dynamics.
The best defense against fascism is a strong and supportive community, based on principles of mutual aid, solidarity and self-defense. Heather Heyer will live in our hearts forever!