Being Out Here For The Prisoners in NC / Mesh Networks
This week we feature two portions to this podcast bonus, two abolitionists in North Carolina talk about detention issues during and after Covid-19. Then Grant Gallo of Sudo Mesh talks about community mesh data networks and alternative infrastructure for autonomy.
First we’ll hear from two prison activists based in the Durham and Asheville, North Carolina about critical situations around incarceration in this state including but not limited to the Covid-19 outbreak. Jules is a member of Blue Ridge Anarchist Black Cross, a local abolitionist group that works around popular education around incarceration and anti-repression for movement work. Katie is an anarchist legal and anti-prison activist.
After that, you’ll hear Grant Gallow from Sudo Mesh talk about Peoples Open Network and Disaster Radio. We’ll hear about collaborative, community mesh network projects as peer-to-peer internet in general and about the idea behind Disaster Radio, a minimalist digital messaging system in case the cellphone, landline or power grid goes down in a dire circumstances. You can find out more at the website, disaster.radio
Join us for a film screening and discussion of the short documentary film “Condemned,” which tells the story of Bomani Shakur (or Keith Lamar) who is on death row for five murders he did not commit or play any part in during the 1993 Lucasville Prison uprising.
Bomani was recently scheduled for execution in November, 2023. His many advocates and loved ones called for a month of action in April to publicize the biased legal process that led to Bomani’s conviction, involving gross prosecutorial misconduct including failure to provide exculpatory evidence during discovery as required by law.
** A link will be posted in the facebook event on the day of the screening that people can click to join at the event start time! **
After the film we’ll hold a discussion including how people can support Bomani in continuing to fight for his life.
COVID-19 and the Prison System: 5 Voices from the Front Lines of Resistance
Today we have a show about COVID-19, specifically how the pandemic is being handled in prisons and detention. This show includes a lot of voices, and we structured it that way in order to both include as many perspectives as we could and also to take some of the expectation that interviewees speak to us for an extended period; everyone who is working on this is very busy and we wanted to respect that.
In this show you’ll hear from:
– Rebekah Entralgo who works with the non profit Freedom for Immigrants,
– Finn, a healthcare worker and member of Mutual Aid Disaster Relief (MADR) working in an outbreak epicenter here in North Carolina,
– Elijah Prioleau who is incarcerated at Waupun Correctional in Wisconsin, where there is a COVID-19 outbreak and they are currently on lockdown,
– and JM and Nikkita of (among other groups) COVID-19 Mutual Aid in Seattle, which is at the outbreak epicenter in the Pacific Northwest.
Because I couldn’t include everything that each person said in full, and frankly that was the hardest part about editing, I’m making a page on our collection at archive.org which will include each interview in full. Just give me until tomorrow to get that up, cause my eyes are starting to cross from all the radio related screen time!
Many thanks go out to everyone who was interviewed, and a special thanks to Ben Turk and the folks at Forum for Understanding Prisons who passed along his phone call with Elijah. More about them, their updates, and lists of demands can be seen at prisonforum.org
. … . ..
To write to Elijah at Waupun Correctional, address letters to:
Leon Elijah Prioleau 420053
Waupun Correctional Institution
PO Box 531
Waupun, WI 53963-0351
To get plugged into mutual aid efforts in Asheville, you can follow the Asheville Survival Project on Facebook, and if you are interested in donating to these efforts in our town the venmo is @AVLsurvival.
List of people and projects that I’m aware of who are boosting prisoner’s voices right now:
Kite Line Radio, which has a Coronavirus call in line for people who are both impacted by incarceration and by Coronavirus, that is 765-343-6236
This week on The Final Straw, we’ll hear a conversation from a few month back with Anthony Rayson and Mike Plosky, who have run the South Chicago Anarchist Black Cross Zine Distro since 1998. They send zines to prisoners, publish the writings and art of politicized prisoners as a project of public education, and help advocate and support prisoners organizing for their own education and liberation. You can find a full catalogue of zines at DePaul University library’s zine special collection. Donations can be made to their GoFundMe, and you can request catalogues and titles or just contact them at:
South Chicago ABC Zine Distro
PO Box 721
Homewood, IL 60430
We’ll also hear Sean Swain, who in many ways was brought to anarchism and had his books, cartoons and zines published by South Chicago ABC Zine Distro chat with Tony and Mike. More of Sean’s work, as always, at https://seanswain.org. We’re also joined in the conversation by Casey Goonan, an editor of True Leap Press which also does similar work to SC ABC Zine Distro. More of True Leap’s work, including their catalogue at https://trueleappress.com.If you’re listening to the podcast and want a more concise edition of an hour, check out our archive.org post linked in the show notes.Some of the prisoners and activists mentioned in the interview include:Sean SwainCoyote AcaboTalib RashidLeigh SavageAnastasia SmithKevin Rashid JohnsonTodd Hyung Rae TarselliRussell Maroon ShoatzTony Hunnicutt
This week we got the chance to sit down and catch up with Ben Turk, who is an anarchist and prison abolitionist living in Milwaukee WI, about some recent efforts that he has been involved in and some ways that listeners can plug in and do solidarity work from afar. We speak about the lockdowns that have been occuring in Columbia CI, continued efforts to raise awareness about solitary confinement and bringing mental healthcare services to people undergoing incarceration, efforts to change legislation regarding old law prisoners, efforts to free Chrystul Kizer, and how the face of anarchist abolitionist organizing is shifting.
If you’re interested in getting networked with Ben and the work of Forum for Understanding Prisons, to help with compiling information from the WI DOC shift logs, to help support people being tortured via solitary confinement, to donate to efforts to free Chrystul Kizer, and many more you can email him at email@example.com or follow the websites prisonforum.org, freechrystul.wordpress.com, and fireinside.noblogs.orgif you’d like to read more about prison abolition.
Detailed notes from our guest concerning the topics we covered in the show:
Resisting lockdowns at Columbia CI and elsewhere.
We leaped to action against the prolonged and excruciating lock-down at Columbia Correctional Institution, which started on November 8, and wasn’t completely lifted until December 22. Midway through the lockdown Muhammad (Larry) Bracey was killed by guards through medical neglect. We posted 13 reports, letters or updates about the lockdown on our website. We also staged a New Year’s Eeve noise demo outside Columbia and two rallies at the Wisconsin DOC building.
We mirrored the demands of incarcerated people, including hunger strikers, who called for Warden Susan Novak to be fired. Our efforts got us a meeting with Secretary Carr and other top DOC officials, who haven’t yet met our demands, but have fired some racist and sadistic guards, including multiple involved in Muhammad Bracey’s death. Unfortunately, conditions remain unsafe at CCI following the lockdown, two more mendied preventable deaths on the week of January 13.
We are still getting responses to our open records requests, and will put out more reports shining a continuous light on the horrors that creep in the corners of this institution. We will continue to fight for our demands until they are satisfied, including the firing of Susan Novak.
How you can help this campaign:
Show up. We plan to be wherever Secretary Carr is and to repeat our demands there. He will be appearing at a Supporters of Incarcerated People (SIP) meeting at Grace Episcopal Church on February 12. Join us there.
Shine a light. Much of this work involves research, going through released records and correspondence with incarcerated people to generate reports and expose the hardships. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to help with that work.
Remain vigilant. Shortly after the CCI lockdown, there was a 10 day lockdown at WaupunCorrectional. People held there say it was the worst they’dexperienced. We need to be ready to mobilize and maintain pressure to keep the DOC from dragging out more of these unlawful lockdowns and humanitarian violations.
Abolishing solitary confinement and advocating for mental health treatment.
Ending the torture of long term solitary confinement has been the driving goal of FFUP’s work for more than 15 years. We are continuously dismayed to see this practice and attending tortures expanding in Wisconsin, despite inspiring reform efforts happening elsewhere.
In February, we will release a comprehensive report by FFUP founder Peg Swan, describing the history of solitary in Wisconsin and its many impacts, large and small. Joining testimonies from survivors, historical events and legal analysis, the report advocates for strong and decisive action toward restricting and eliminating Wisconsin’s use solitary confinement and replacing it with mental health treatment.
Governor Evers and Secretary Carr have talked about reforming solitary confinement, but cautioned us that the changes will be gradual. David Crowley and other law-makers have introduced a bill calling for psychological reviews of people in solitary confinement. The trouble is, DOC doctors are already routinely altering mental health diagnoses to enable the use of restraint chairs and other forms of torture that aren’t officially sanctioned for use on people diagnosed with serious mental illnesses. We expect that if the proposed law or similar restrictions come to pass, DOC staff will dodge their effect by continuing their practice of altering diagnoses to put whoever they want into solitary.
Instead, Wisconsin needs the follow the success story in Colorado. When Rick Raemisch took over the DOC there, he made a dramatic commitment to replace solitary confinement with mindfulness practice and treatment. Within his first year, changes were happening, and now Colorado restricts solitary confinement to a maximum of 15 days.
How you can help this campaign:
Reduce the harm of isolation. Peg Swan has begun an email newsletter and penpal program to provide people held in long term solitary confinement with what they need most: human connection. If you would like to receive the newsletter or can write to someone in solitary, you may help save lives. Contact Peg at email@example.com.
Contact Governor Evers. Tell him you support the abolition of long term solitary confinement. Half measures and gradual steps are not enough when lives hang in the balance. Call (608) 266-1212, email GovPress@wisconsin.gov, file public comment here.
Fighting for old law prisoners.
Volunteers with FFUP have been attending recent parole board meetings to track progress toward reforms and increased releases by the new administration. There are about 3000 people held in Wisconsin prisons under the old law, most of them would be released by the standard expectations of their sentencing judges by now if not for very regressive policies of the DOC and parole commission. Peg and other FFUP contacts maintain regular correspondence with many old law prisoners. Releasing these people will not only reunite them with their families, it will have a significant impact on the overcrowding that makes everyone’s life harder in prison- both captives and staff.
Last spring Governor Evers appointed John Tate II to be the Chair of the Parole Commission, promising increased releases and long overdue justice for people sentenced before Dec 31, 1999. Unfortunately, from what we’ve observed in meetings transition to that agenda has been very difficult. On January 8, we witnessed an alarming level of obstruction, disrespect and apparent sabotage of reform efforts by parole commissioners. This behavior, combined with obstructive practices by DOC staff in classification, programming and community corrections are drastically curtailing the possibility for release of people incarcerated under the old law.
We have decided that a stronger public voice in support of reform and releases is necessary, so we’re encouraging people to attend parole commission meetings and will follow the next meeting (Feb 5) with a rally. We also released Ben’s notes from January publicly and sent them to hundreds of people incarcerated under the old law. Last summer we delivered a rules change petition to Governor Evers and Chairman Tate. At the monthly meetings we will be delivering the petitions again, showing increasing public support for the release of old law prisoners.
How you can help this campaign:
Support Tate’s confirmation. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has delayed Tate’s confirmation for seven months. Contact him to demand that he allow a confirmation vote for Chairman Tate. (608) 266-5660 or Sen.Fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov
Voice support. Sign the petition calling for parole reform and expanded releases.
Bear witness. Attend or invite people to the February 5 meeting at 9:30 and / or the rally at noon. Both at the DOC building 3099 E Washington.
Defending sex trafficking survivor Chrystul Kizer.
On June 20, 2018 a 17 year old Black girl named Chrystul Kizer from Milwaukee defended herself against a 34 year old child pornographer and sex trafficker named Randal Volar, ending his life. Volar had been investigated by Kenosha police since at least February when he was arrested, but released despite possession of child pornography and other clear evidence. Kenosha DA Michael Graveley failed to charge Volar, but is now pursuing first degree murder charges against Chrystul.
FFUP volunteers are working closely with Chrystul and her family to raise awareness of her case and to demand that charges be dropped. We’ve helped pack the court for each of her preliminary hearings and taken control of the narrative around her case. We are also helping organize a rally at 5:30 pm on February 5 at UW Parkside, where Graveley teaches Criminal Law. On Thursday February 6, 8:45 am Chrystul has another hearing at Kenosha County Courthouse. She is requesting a bond reduction to one we can fundraise enough for, so she can come home while awaiting trial.
How you can help this campaign:
1. Follow #FreeChrystul on social media and share the campaigns stories and updates.
People all over the world are mobilizing to combat the climate crisis. It’s time to build skills and take action!
Join us for 10 days of learning, training, and taking direct action to disrupt the systems that are destroying our climate. We will come together to build on Appalachia’s rich history of direct action against extractive industries, which has included tree sits, blockades, and walk-ons to resist mountaintop removal, fracking, and fossil fuel pipelines. After fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline for over two years, we aim to grow the resistance to fossil fuel exploitation and take power out of the hands of corporations and politicians that are threatening our collective future.
We are inviting community members, activists, students, and families to learn the skills needed to execute a variety of actions that disrupt the power structures wrecking the environment we depend upon and contributing to climate change. We will be hosting people in the southwestern Virginia/ southern West Virginia along the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, providing food and trainings to participants for 10 days. We will have more information in the coming weeks.
Location and more event details to follow upon registration!
Floods in Eastern Kentucky and South West Virginia
There’s a request for funds for relief from recent floods in Appalachia in coal-country. Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, in partnership with local activists who helped support Black Jewel Miners Blockade are requesting funds and goods to Harlan County and surrounding areas. You can learn more on instagram at @weloveminersblockades, you can donate on venmo at mutualaidky, cashapp at $ekyswvafloods, paypal via firstname.lastname@example.org and you can email them there as well.
Anti-ICE protestors harassed in Florida
A group of activists known as the GEO9 who were arrested while protesting on December 3rd, 2019, outside the Boca Raton office of GEO Group, which contracts immigration prison services for ICE, have experienced ramped up harassment. They received misdemeanor charges for trespassing and the use of a megaphone and were released on their own recognizance after their initial arrests. But now apparently are facing felonies and one activist of the 9, Alexis Butler, was even rearrested under fishy circumstances at her house by Broward County Sheriff on February 7th. More info is available in the write-up at itsgoingdown.org linked in the show notes and a fundraiser for the activists legal defense via EverRibbon.com can be found in our notes as well.
Chuck Africa is Free
We are happy to announce that Chuck Sims Africa, the remaining member of the MOVE 9 left behind bars was released from prison after 42 years on February 7th, 2019. There is a fundraiser for his post-release situation up at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-chuck-africa-rebuild to help Chuck get rolling on the outside. Free Them All!
Michael Kimble Legal Defense
His support crew needs funds to challenge his initial conviction. Here’s the text from that site:
Michael Kimble is a passionate freedom fighter who has been held captive by the Alabama Department of Corrections for nearly 33 years. After defending himself during a homophobic attack by a known white supremacist in 1987, Michael was arrested, charged with murder, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. His trial was typical of what could be expected from a racist criminal justice system in Jefferson County, Alabama.
Since his conviction, Michael has been fervently involved in efforts to free himself and others, assisting in legal defense for fellow inmates, organizing reading groups and Black History events, speaking up for queer folks behind bars, and helping to organize and agitate alongside the Free Alabama Movement for the historic national prison strike of September 2016.
The Alabama prison system has recently come under fire from the federal government for its abhorrent conditions, and Holman Prison, where Michael is incarcerated, is being decommissioned and largely shut down. In this context, many Alabama prisoners have been successfully challenging the length of their original sentences. A group of Michael’s supporters on the outside have recently joined forces to hire a new legal team to help him push for a sentence reduction. Given the amount of time already served, we are hoping this could result in his release.
All the money raised will go directly towards filing motions for sentence reduction, and anything left over will be used to support Michael’s day to day life inside with things like stamps, books, and commissary funds. Fingers crossed, we’ll also be raising money to support Michael once he joins on the outside.
For more information, check out this awesome interview with Michael from a few years back, as well as his blog.
Until Every Cage is Empty,
–Michael Kimble Support Crew
First, we’ll hear from Jason Goudlock, a prisoner under the so-called “Old Law” in Ohio serving his 26th year of a 6-25 year sentence. Jason talks about the situation in Ohio between the “Old Law” and the “New Law”, for instance if he had been convicted of the same robbery and battery crimes three years later he might have served half of the time. Jason also speaks about the whims of the the Ohio Parole Board, some corroborated in public statements by former OPB member, Shirley Smith (linked in the show notes, and mentioning the situation of Marc Houc for instance).
Jason is the subject of a documentary, “Invisible Chess: The Jason Goudlock Story”, which can be found for free at FreeJasonGoudlock.org. Education packs for teachers can be found on the site for the film, InvisibleChess.com. The film will be shown on Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020 from 1:30-3pm alongside a discussion at Bard College led by the filmmaker, Samuel Crow, along with prison reformer Bill Nichols. It can be viewed it at the Bertelsmann Weis Cinema on the Bard College campus. You can find Jason’s website and blog up at his website. There is a gofundme run to raise funds for Jason’s legal defense and raising awareness of his case and those of other Old Law prisoners.
Jason also suggests FairTreatmentReformAndReentry.org to learn more about the struggle and check out recent legislation put forth in Ohio to affect the Old Law/New Law sentencing disparities (and in particular, Beverley A. Seymore, author of the Parole Reform Bill).
Near the end I ask Jason about recent hunger strikes by Mark Hinkston and David Easley, two other Ohio prisoners held for a bit at Toledo CI, who we’ve interviewed before on the show. The hunger strike was a protest against the use of solitary confinement specifically to torture prisoners suffering from mental health crises. More on that below. Jason also mentions the recent sexual abuse of prisoners at Toledo CI by mental health staff member Maggie Jedlinsky.
Finally, Jason shouts out the cases of the Lucasville Uprising. Check our show notes for links to our interviews with Hasan over the years and with Bomani Shakur, aka Keith Lamar, on his book Condemned and Greg Curry from the case. We also spoke with an attorney (Niki Schwartz) and another prisoner present on the 25th anniversary of the uprising.
David Easley Faces Inter-State Transfer
We’ll be hearing briefly from David Easley about some updates in his situation, including the hunger strike that he and Mark “Mustafa” Hinkston just got off of in protest of the torture of prisoners suffering mental health distress by stuffing them in segregation at Toledo CI and the legal shenanigans by administration at Toledo CI in an attempt to get them on an out-of-state transfer. You can keep up on Mark and David’s activity on their supporters twitters. There is a request that folks email and call the Ohio Interstate Compact Administrators to demand David and Mark not get transferred far from their family, loved ones and supporters and to emphasize that they are being threatened with transfer for legitimate free speech. You can contact:
“Hello. I am calling as a concerned citizen about the ongoing crisis at Parchman. The Board of Directors must ensure that the superintendent find an amicable and peaceful solution, as well as, address the prisoners needs. They need to ensure that the prisoners have sanitary and safe housing conditions. We, as a community, along with the prisoners have these demands: 1. Immediate separation of all rival groups to halt the violence. 2. Restore full food service and immediate emergency medical care. 3. Removal of the corrupt guards who instigated violence. Remember, the world is watching. Thank you.”
Health update on Dr Shakur
Dr Mutulu Shakur, a Black Liberation activist and Accupuncturist has been imprisoned for 33 years and this year was found to have bone marrow cancer. There is an article up on SFBayView.com linked in the show notes. Supporters are requesting letters of support and love to Dr Mutulu at:
Dr. Mutulu Shakur 83205-012 USP Victorville, P.O. Box 3900, Adelanto, CA 92301
They are also asking for donations for his medical, legal, commissary and more with details in the article and up at mutulushakur.com and the associated donate button. At Dr. Shakur’s request there is, at this time, no public campaign for his release.
Twin Trouble interview
Incarcerated hactivist and anarchist, Jeremy Hammond and his twin brother, Jason (who served some time for participating in the anti-fascist action at Tinley Park, IL in May of 2012) have started releasing a new media project. The show self-describes as:
“Twin Trouble – the podcast about fighting the system and staying rebellious while being incarcerated.The showtakes the form of a recorded phone call between Jason in Chicago, and his twin brother Jeremy,locked up in Alexandria, VA, just outside D.C. “
There is an update on Eric King’s support page, supportericking.org, giving details on materials he can receive and what he cannot. Drop Eric a line and use the final straw promocode… wait… that… Eric could use some love. And please be aware also that each letter he receives is read by a guard.
Yah, if only. But there’s this awesome source for updates on political prisoners across the so-called US authored by the lovely folks at Certain Days that is a regular column on IGD. Prison Break gives case updates, health situations, releases, passings and calls for support we can participate in, helping to keep this movement multi-generational and spread support for our comrades taken captive by the state while in struggle. We need to be in for the long haul if our movement will have teeth.
This week Cypress spoke with Io Ascarium. The conversation covered their work as a member of ABO Comix Collective and their work in comics and print.
Io is “a maurading pillar of salt just doing their best to make what
could, in a sense, be described as ‘art'” (I love them dearly but could not bring myself to write this into the actual script).
ABO Comix Collective is a group of buds and comrades working to help LGBTQ and HIV + prisoners publish their art and stay connected to the outside world. They also provide direct material aid to those inside and spread the good word of prison abolition. Their 3rd volume was released for presale earlier this month. All proceeds go back to the contributors.
This week we bring you two different segments. First, Cypress spoke with Jenny from Project Fang, a project that financially supports visits to earth and animal liberation prisoners. Since 2016, Project Fang has worked to combat the isolation of incarceration these prisoners feel by providing a fund for financial assistance for visits. The prisoners and their loved ones can apply to the fund to help pay for prison visits, which is one of the most important ways of supporting prisoners. Project Fang is currently in the middle of a fundraising push as they look to double their annual budget to continue their work.
Much has been said about the vital importance that visits from friends, family, and loved ones can have for folks forced to undergo incarceration at the hands of the state. Jenny goes into detail about the work she and the project do to help turn isolation around, and about how this work fits into a broader whole of creating sustainable communities of rebellion.
Today you’ll hear Bursts interview Pepe, an anarchist from so called Connecticut. As of September 4th 2019, Pepe has been sentenced to 5 years in prison on federal charges. In this interview he speaks on a range of topics related to the prison industrial complex, from detailing how prosecutors operate within the “criminal justice” system, to his personal experience in preparing with his family for his incarceration. Folks can support Pepe and his family by visiting his record label at diybandits.bandcamp.com.
He will be releasing his own podcast soon at preparingforfreedom.org. We will announce when these episodes drop so stay tuned!
This week I had the chance to interview three people who organize with La Concha, which is an anarchist space in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles that does many projects such as prisoner solidarity, legal and popular education, reading groups, bike brigades, and lots else. We talk about their work, and how the three came to be doing what they are doing right now, and also about the incursions that they’ve been experiencing from authoritarian Communists in the area. I felt great getting to have this conversation with them and really energized to build where I’m at, but also to help build more bridges between places all over so we as anarchists can enrich and nuance each other’s thinking and praxis.
Big thanks to the folks at Firestorm for putting TFS in touch with La Concha! Here’s to many more colabs and for a furtherance of anarchist, Indigenous, and decolonial spaces.
To learn more about La Concha and the Psycos, you can follow them on all their social medias:
Also if you come across a documentary about the Ovas and are curious to watch it, get in touch with them for a copy! For this inquiry and all others, say if you have something to contribute to the zine they were talking about, you can email them at email@example.com
This week we are presenting two segments, first up is an interview done by Cypress – a new member of The Final Straw collective! – with Grace (they/them pronouns), who is doing support for anarchist prisoner Jeremy Hammond. From his support website, Hammond is “currently spending a decade in prison for allegedly disclosing information about the private intelligence firm (…) Stratfor, revealing that they had been spying on human rights defenders at the behest of corporations and governments. WikiLeaks published these files in partnership with 29 media organizations worldwide as the Global Intelligence Files.”
Grace talks about Hammond’s case and repressions he has been facing in prison, and also about resisting a summons for a grand jury and what support could look like for him given the uncertainties of his case at the moment, plus many more topics!
>>> Regarding this week’s segment from anarchist prisoner, Sean Swain: Sean’s commentary today discusses his claim to the Organization of American States, filed in 2012. Sean was unaware of the OAS’s response until he was moved to Virginia where the mailrooms no longer blocked this attempted correspondence. Sean’s recorded testimony is up at SeanSwain.org. Content warning, Sean discusses sexual violence he suffered at the hands of Ohio officials.