This week on The Final Straw, we’re excited to bring you perspectives on resisting Federal Grand Juries in the U.S. In particular, we focus on the situation of imprisoned, former army whistle-blower, Chelsea Manning. Ms. Manning, who was in military prison for releasing information about U.S. war crimes in the Afghanistan and Iraq theaters in 2010, had her sentence commuted by former U.S. President, Barack Obama in 2017. Having refused in 2019 to testify on principal before a grand jury in Virginia, spent 4 weeks in solitary confinement and has just been released to general population under the charge of civil contempt.
In the first part of this hour, we’ll hear from El & Eli, two supporters of Chelsea, about the grand jury, Chelsea’s resistance to it, and her incarceration. After that, we hear from two anarchist Grand Jury resistors of the last decade who support Chelsea about their personal experiences standing up to this unjust legal practice. First formerly incarcerated Grand Jury resistor, Jerry Koch, speaks about his experiences of resisting a grand jury for which he was imprisoned and mustered a defense that won his release. Then, Katie Yow speaks of her experience resisting a grand jury beginning in 2016 and her admiration and support for Chelsea. You can hear prior interviews with and about the resistance of Jerry Koch and Katie Yow at https://thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org.
From june11.org about the international day of solidarity with Marius Mason and long-term anarchist prisoners.:
In the 15 years this tradition has been observed, June 11th has facilitated support and action inspired by imprisoned anarchists — from noise demonstrations outside of jails to letter-writing nights, from fundraisers to arson. Setting aside this day is one way of remembering anarchists who are serving long prison sentences, generating support for them, and inspiring solidarity actions.
Because social struggles phase in and out, this day is a way to make sure that our imprisoned comrades are not forgotten. Our lack of memory is partially a result of the techno-alienation of the larger culture we’re fighting against. But it’s also a product of the dynamics of the anarchist space. People become burnt out and the cycle of forgetting continues.
June 11th is a way of combating that amnesia, of trying to sustain a long-term memory in the anarchist space. Not only does this generate support for anarchists locked in the state’s prisons, it forces us to look back at what came before. Considering what previous generations did can both inspire us with ideas we’ve forgotten, and help us understand how our current practices came to be.
So, this is a call to organize ourselves actions for June 11th, 2019. Get some friends together, remember folks inside, remember our common struggles and engage in making ourselves the resistance we need to reverse this course of ecocide and tyranny.
The North American Anarchist Studies Network (NAASN) is a network for the engagement of intellectual work, both within and without institutional walls.
The goal of the network is to serve as a means of mutual support for North American anarchists engaged in intellectual work, both theoretical and empirical; to facilitate and promote anarchist studies by bringing together students,academics, independent scholars, and activists from across the United States, Canada, and Mexico; and to provide a space for critical dialogue and reflection on anarchism.
This year’s NAASN conference, “Emergent Horizons” will be hosted in Atlanta, GA. In keeping with the spirit of mutual aid and accessibility for all, we are asking for donations to help make this conference happen.
Over the past years, NAASN has brought together hundreds of activists, academics, intellectuals, and artists across North America , including: Mexico City, Montreal, San Francisco, New Orleans, Portland, San Juan, and Toronto. Previous presentations have included grassroots struggles, social and peasant movements, decolonization and Indigenous resurgence, border/imperialism, racism, police violence, torture, surveillance, technology, as well as biography, oral histories, historiography, and anarchist subcultures.
This week on The Final Straw Radio, we feature a conversation with Pearson, an anarchist resident of Tallahassee, Florida, and is involved in storm relief mutual aid work in the wake of Hurricane Michael. Pearson is also the co-host of the leftist podcast “Coffee With Comrades”.
For the hour we talk about Hurricane Michael, which just passed through the Florida Panhandle and up through the Carolinas, affecting Georgia and Alabama as well. Within a 36 hour period, the hurricane ramped up from a Tropical Storm to a category 4 or 5 hurricane (depending on who you talk to). Michael was the strongest hurricane to hit that part of Florida ever on record, making landfall on Wednesday, October 10th in the morning and may be the third largest to hit the U.S. mainland with winds surges of up to 175 miles per hour and sustaining at 150. Because of the quick increase, localities in the storms path found themselves under prepared for such a devastating catastrophe. The state of Florida Department of Corrections refused to evacuate about 12 prisons that were in the Mandatory Evacuation areas in the path of Hurricane Michael despite a call-in campaign by Fight Toxic Prisons.
For the hour, we talk about the immediate response efforts in Tallahassee, Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, anthropogenic or human-caused Climate Change and it’s various impacts on the residents and environs of Florida, and a bunch of other related topics. Later, Pearson shares about his podcast, “Coffee with Comrades”, available at http://coffeewithcomrades.com/
Here are a few links for info if you’re in Florida as well as ways to donate from a distance:
Florida People’s Advocacy Center in Tally is a safe space for people to come for disaster relief (trans inclusive and very supportive of undocumented individuals)
On Saturday, October 13th in Greenville, SC, there was a racist “Build The Wall” anti-immigration rally organized in support of Trumps xenophobic policies. Naturally, there was a counter-demonstration. Two anti-racists were arrested for picketing ordinances and another for disorderly conduct. If you’d like to help them, there’s a paypal where donations are being collected for legal and any medical fees attached to this at paypal.me/upstatesc
Connor Stevens post-release fund
First, Connor Stevens, one of the convicted Cleveland 4, is up for potential parole as soon as November, 2018! From the fundraizr for Connor:
“Connor Stevens is one of the Cleveland4. He is being released soon so we’re raising funds to help get him basic necessities when he is released! It’s possible he’ll even be released by November!
Click here if you are out of the US and would like to donate via Paypal
The Cleveland 4 were four Occupy Cleveland activists who were were arrested on April 30th, 2012, accused of plotting to blow up a bridge. But it was the FBI, working with an informant, that crafted the plot, produced the “explosives,” and coerced these four into participating.
Connor took non-cooperating plea deals and pled guilty to all charges. The judge applied a “terrorism enhancement” to their sentences, elongating their sentences as well as subjecting them to harsher prison conditions. Connor served 8 years 1 month—all to be followed by lifetime supervised release.”
Zak Kostopoulos, an 33 year old lgbtq+ drag performer and activist who worked against prejudice faced by folks who are HIV positive was beaten to death in a homophobic attack near Omonia Square in Athens, Greece on September 21st. Zak lept into a jewelry store in order to avoid a nearby brawl when the emergency shutters descended, trapping him inside. He was then set upon by the owner of the shop and others who were heard uttering homophobic and hate statements against those with HIV. After escaping the store, by smashing through the window with a fire extinguisher, he was followed out by the owner and another thug. Zak was beaten to the ground while surrounded by mostly male onlookers. When police showed up, they handcuffed Zak. The murder was captured on camera. The shop owner was only arrested after the video went viral and he was only charged with manslaughter, not murder, as he claims to have been protecting his property, which is absurd. Following news of the murder, an emergency anarchist assembly was called and a march of 500 took the streets of Athens with smaller marches happening in nearby cities. Marches followed that week.
Apologies for the wait in announcing this sad news which a listener sent us after the murder took place. We are thankful for being informed.
There is a call for supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal to fill the court room and the streets on October 29th from 8am til 11am in Philadelphia at the Criminal Justice Center, 13th & Filbert. Mumia is a former Black Panther, is a journalist and Political Prisoner who was put on death row for decades for the killing of a cop he says he did not commit. Mumia’s trial has been recognized internationally, including by Amnesty International, as a political show trial. More info up at http://mobilization4mumia.com
Certain Days Calendar benefit show
On October 19th at the Pine Box Rock Shop, 12 Gratton Street in Brooklyn, NY, there’ll be a benefit for post-release funds by the organizers of the Certain Days: Freedom For Political Prisoners Calendar.
From Certain Days:
In the last year, we have been fortunate enough to welcome home a handful of political prisoners from US prisons. Our movements have not exactly been prepared for this good fortune, and so support committees, families and friends of these folks have been forced to scramble for funds for basic living expenses. In addition to that, many of these people have been targeted in the media and beyond by various law enforcement unions and organizations, making open fundraising online a difficult proposition.
We need to step up our game and aid not only the handful of political prisoners that have been released this year but also, the people who may be leaving prison soon.
The show will feature performances by Despairwolf, MAAFA_Hardcore, High Cost, and Trophy hunt, and we understand that the door fee will be VERY reasonable for a show in NYC.
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 we are very pleased to present an interview with Mango and Marin, who are mental healthcare workers based in New York City. We are going to get into a lot of topics, including anarchist critiques of psychiatry, ways that anarchists can be comrades with people who have survived the psych industry, and the Earth First MAD Camp. Shoutout to Jayden for setting up this interview!
We had to cut a bunch out of the broadcast version of this interview but check out the podcast up on our website and streaming on all the apps, for much more information about how to access open dialogue style therapy and tips on how to start a MAD Camp. Also you can check out our blog for a list of further reading material from our guests, again at our website.
On Monday, October 1st at 8am sharp in Raliegh, NC, there’ll be a protest at the North Carolina Department of Public Services, which oversees prisons in the state demanding the release of prisoners from solitary confinement accused of participating in the non-violence 2018 Nationwide Prison Strike and as a reminder that people are paying attention. The DPS can be found at 831 W Morgan St in Raleigh. This jumps off a week of activity state-wide to support prisoners on the inside as a follow up to the 2018 Prison Strike.
AVL Blue Ridge ABC events this week
For folks in the Asheville area, this week will have two Blue Ridge ABC events y’all should consider taking part in. On Friday, October 5th, there’ll be a showing of the latest Trouble by sub.Media about Hip Hop as Resistance from 6:30-8 and will be followed by a discussion. Two days later on Sunday, October 7th at 5pm, BRABC will also be putting on a letter writing to reach out to political prisoners whose birthdays come up this month as well as prisoners in NC facing repression for alleged participation in the Nationwide Work Strike.
If you want to hear a great, recent podcast on the repression since the #PrisonStrike, check out the September 21st episode of Kiteline Radio. Kiteline is a weekly radio show that covers prison from inside and outside, and is a member of the Channel Zero Network of Anarchist podcasts. We’re excited to announce the addition of Rebel Steps to CZN.
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** Correction on the song announce, the first track heard was “Ghost of a Chance” by Danny Dolinger from the 1997 cassette, “Rome Wasn’t Burnt In A Day” out from Barnstorm Music**
This week we are presenting audio from the Callisto Collective, which is a local collective “addressing conflict, abuse, assault and everything in between” by utilizing autonomous models of resolution, especially in closer knit communities of affinity. This workshop is called Conflict Resolution for folks who do Anti State Organizing.
In this workshop, they talk about many things, including anarchist critiques of Non-Violent Communication, which is a developed process in use mostly by leftist organizers, possible tools for dealing with conflict, and also some discussions on yogurt (stay tuned…). This workshop was originally presented at the 2018 Asheville Anarchist Bookfair at Firestorm Books.
This was an extremely interactive workshop, and to protect the anonymity of participants I had to cut a bunch of material out. This sometimes makes the audio a bit disjointed to listen to, but I hope you’ll enjoy it all the same.
Before the workshop tho, we want to plug certain hurricane relief efforts going on in town. As you are probably aware, the coasts of North/South Carolina and Georgia as well as many regions off the coasts are being hit right now with a quite sizeable hurricane. Appalachian Medical Solidarity is helping coordinate disaster relief efforts, running supplies inland to the coast and supporting those who are doing on the ground relief efforts. Donations of supplies can be sent to Firestorm Books at 610 Haywood Road in West Asheville.
Things which are needed include:
Pop top canned foods which are high in calories that people can eat cold and without utensils
First aid supplies
Any and all baby supplies
Flashlights and batteries
Travel size personal toiletries
Charged battery packs for cell phones and cell phone chargers
If you would like to help but cannot send supplies, you can donate to relief efforts in Asheville by going to:
If you are going into affected areas as a relief worker, it’s very important to be networked with local efforts and to foreground the work of locals and directly affected populations. If people are interested in reading further about cultural competency in disaster work, we would suggest further reading by the Mutual Aid Disaster Network, which is available on any social media platform. You can contact Appalachian Medical Solidarity through their Facebook page, and they are coordinating efforts on behalf of those affected by hurricane flooding both on the coast and in Asheville.
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Finally, we would also like to plug a phone zap on behalf of Jason Renard Walker, a Texas inmate associated with the 2016 prison strike and who contributed to the Fire Inside zine. He has been subject to an increasingly intense campaign of harassment from staff at the Telford Unit, who first issued him with a fake case for threatening a member of staff, and then sent him to lockup, preventing him from even being able to attend his own hearing for the so called case. The prison strike timeline has officially ended, but repression related to the strike is only just ramping up. For a full article on this case you can visit the full article here.
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The music which we used in the intro is the instrumental version of the track “7” by Frank Waln, who is a Sicagnu Lakota rapper and hip hop artist. His work is very searchable on any streaming media platform.