Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Former Federal Prisoner Frederick Fisher

I am forwarding on this message from Frederick Fisher on his behalf,
please do what you are able to assist him and his partner in what they
are doing up in Minnesota for the community and getting resistance from the
(Date of letter 8/15/2010)







ironhousecreations@yahoo.com or at:

ANOKA, MN. 55303

(UNTIL 9/12/10)


Surge in government repression: FBI visits, warrants, more

by Voice of the Voiceless ( info [at] voiceofthevoiceless.org )
Tuesday Aug 31st, 2010 indybay.org

A roundup of recent FBI visits, subpoenas, and other government assaults on the animal liberation movement:

New AETA 4 DNA warrant

This week, Joseph Buddenberg of the AETA 4 was the target of a warrant for his DNA. A quote from the agent who authored the affidavit:

"I believe probable cause exists that Buddenberg was involved in the February 24, 2008 altercation at the L.H./J.R. residence in Santa Cruz.... The samples from the bullhorn found in Khajavi's vehicle will yield evidence that Buddenberg was involved in force, violence, and threats involving animal enterprises, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 43 & 371"
Read the full affidavit here.

Buddenberg submitted himself to FBI agents this week, who took four swabs of DNA.

While the AETA 4 indictment was recently thrown out, this recent government offensive indicates the case is not yet over. The case , if continued, stands to be a precedent-setting Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act case with implications for all activists.

Carrie Feldman Re-subpoenaed

Last week, Carrie Feldman was approached by FBI agents in Rock Island, IL, and handed a subpoena,ordering her to testify at the trial of Scott DeMuth. DeMuth is charged with a conspiracy role in the A.L.F. raid of the University of Iowa, in which 401 animals were rescued. The trial is set to begin on September 13th.

Feldman was previously jailed for four months after refusing to testify to the grand jury investigating the Iowa raid.

FBI visit

The FBI reportedly visited a former east coast activist last week, inquiring about an animal rights activist in Utah. The questioning appears to be related to the recent raid of an activist house in Salt Lake City.

Rod Coronado sent back to prison

Rod Coronado has been sentenced to four months in prison for a probation violation. A judge found him guilty of adding well-known Earth First! co-founder Mike Rosselle as a friend on Facebook, which the judge found violated his probation conditions. The conditions bar Coronado from associating with anyone involved with Earth First. He was also found to have used a computer which was not approved by the probation department.

Another FBI Visit

An activist in Minneaoplis was approached by two FBI agents at a gas station August 16th. The report does not specify what the agents were investigating, or what information was sought. The person refused to speak to them, and drove away. Read the full report below.


Here’s what I recall about my encounter with the FBI today: I was topping off a full tank of gas at the Holiday Gas Station in Plymouth (Rockford Road and HWY 169) at 10:28am this morning when two FBI agents approached me. They identified themselves. One was heavset with dark short hair. The other was skinnier with a goatee and shorter dark hair. The skinnier agent did all the talking. I mostly ignored their presence by looking at them and stating, “I have nothing to say to you guys.” I then hung up my gas pump and walked into the Holiday Gas Station to pay. The two agents followed me as I walked across the parking lot to pay inside the gas station. They stopped at the door and waited for me when I went inside to pay.

After I paid and exited the building, the two agents followed me to my vehicle. They were persistenly asking me to cooperate with them and repeatedly mentioned that they wanted to give me an “opportunity.” Again, I ignored their presence as I walked to my vehicle, opened my door, and drove away. It was 10:32am when I left the parking of the gas station. To my knowledge, they did not follow me.

They were standing by a red (metallic red) four door (pontiac?) with licence plate # MNB 615 (or a combination of those letters and numbers).

Dialogue I remember them saying to me as I was ignoring them:

“Dominoes are starting to fall all around,” and “we want to give you an opportunity,” and

“it would be shame if you didn’t talk to us.” My daughter was concerned because she heard them say the word “kids” when I was getting into the car and shutting the door. I don’t know what exactly they said, but it was probably something to push my buttons. My two children were with me when the agents approached me today. All three of us are fine now.

Feel free to pass this info on to any lists or groups that you wish.

Dr. Toxic

If you have been conctacted by he FBI, call the National Lawyers Guild Green Scare Hotline at: 1-888-NLG-ECOL.

- Peter Young

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign Legal Update

Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign

Legal Update

Black August 30, 2010

On March 4, 2010 Sundiata Acoli, who is 73 years old, was denied
parole for the third time by the New Jersey State parole board.
Sundiata has served 37 years in prison as he was convicted in the May
2, 1973 shooting of a New Jersey State Trooper on the NJ Turnpike.
Sundiata was last denied parole in 1994, the parole board continues
to cite among other things, that "He was not rehabilitated." Sundiata
has maintained an infraction free prison record since 1996.

Over a thousand letters and petitions from a diverse group of
influential people, including psychologists, lawyers, clergy,
professors, journalists and community members were sent to the parole
board expressing love from the community and support for his release.

Nevertheless, Sundiata was denied parole just minutes after an in-
person review by two members of the board. No time was taken to
deliberate the decision, and notice of the denial was given to him on
a sheet with barely legible hand-written notes on it. Not only was he
denied but he was told his case would be referred to a 3-member panel
to establish a FET ("hit") outside the guidelines. In mid July,
Sundiata received written notice that a three member panel, two of
which included the two members who denied him, had decided to give
him a 10 year hit which means he must serve an additional 6 years in
prison before he will again be eligible for a parole hearing. He will
be 79 years old.

The "hit" is particularly harsh since on August 1, 2010 a new law was
passed in New Jersey capping to 36 months, the number of years the
parole board can establish a FET. The New Jersey Parole Board rushed
to send this letter to Sundiata to avoid the August 1st deadline. As
of this posting, Sundiata has not yet received any explanation from
the board for this 10 year "hit".

The Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign continues to be vigilant in
seeking justice for Sundiata and his right to freedom. Sundiata's
legal advisors have consulted with a NJ attorney to appeal the
decision. The attorney has been retained and has prepared and filed
an administrative appeal to the NJ Parole Board outlining in very
clear terms, the errors made by the panel in denying Sundiata's
parole. The appeal was filed on August 27, 2010.

We believe the case for appealing the NJ Parole Board's decision is
strong! SAFC will continue to keep pushing for Sundiata's release and
raising awareness about his case. Members of SAFC are available to
speak and share information with any group who requests it. Simply
email mailto:thesafc@gmail.com.

Sundiata needs your love and support and SAFC needs to raise funds to
cover Sundiata's legal expenses. Regular commissary donations to keep
Sundiata smiling and knowing he is loved are also encouraged. We
understand the financial limitations of people during these times and
we appreciate anything you can give.

Please take a moment and give what you can to support his release:

To make a contribution to Sundiata's legal expenses, please send a
check or money order payable to SAFC:

PO BOX 766
New York, New York 10027

Please be sure to note in the memo field that your check is for Legal Fees

To send money directly to Sundiata's commissary send money orders
only made out to:

Clark Squire #39794-066 and mail to:

Federal Bureau of Prisons
Clark Squire #39794-066
Post Office Box 474701
Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001

Do not send a note with your money order or it will be returned.

Commissary donations can also be made online or by phone using a
debit or credit card through Western Union Quick Collect. For more
instructions on that just email mailto:thesafc@gmail.com .

To send Sundiata a card, a photo, a poem, artwork or just a simple
letter saying you are thinking about him, write him:

Sundiata Acoli #39794-066 (Squire)
PO Box 3000
FCI Otisville
Otisville, NY 10963-1000

Any one of these things is a great way to show your love and support.
Thank you in advance!

A message from Sundiata to his supporters:


Support Russian anti-fascists in the fight for the Khimki forest

Forwarded message (in Swedish below)

This has today been sent to several political weeklies in Sweden...

The news that President Medvedev have ordered a halt to the highway
construction through the Khimki forest close to Moscow until further
investigation has been made has taken the environmental movement by surprise
on Thursday. The fight against corruption behind the project and to increase
political pressure in seemingly hopeless situations has been very hard.
Chief editor Mikhail Beketov for a local newspaper who stood on the
barricades against the highway and the corrupt politicians in Khimki was
attacked and injured for life with one leg and several fingers amputated and
his ability to speak lost. Anarchists have collectively been assigned the
blame for a direct action against the center of the political corruption in
Khimki and are now hunted by the police with torture. Witnesses said as
according to the relief organizayion Anarchist Black Cross of Moscow that
Nikita Nikolaevich Chernobaev in the hand of FSB security service suffered
blows to the head and other parts of the body, dressed head
bag and blocked the air for breathing. Thus he was forced to make
confessions of guilt and self-testimony of others participating in the
campaign against Khimki's town hall.

Many more than the anarchists are currently threatened in the witch hunt in
the attempt to demonstrate the ability to act in the State response to the
action against the Khimki town hall, an action not directed against persons
but resulting in damage in the form of graffiti against deforestation, a few
broken windows and a door broken up. People who police think may have had
contact with anarchists who may have had with the action to do have their
computers seized and are taken to hearing. Many are afraid for both their
own sake and their families far beyond anarchist circles. Not least are the
journalists who interviewed anarchists who participated in the operation
vulnerable. Biggest is the fear for the destiny of Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim
Solopov who were arrested and then detained against normal procedure in
realtion to the action against the town hall. The two known representatives
of Antifa in Moscow, as the largest anarchist movement in Russia is called,
could easily be found by the police but no evidence that they participated
in the action was proposed as the basis for their detention which made
several human rights organizations reacting strongly against the arrest. The
two Anti-fascists have been lost to an unknown location and there is great
concern for what as happened to them.

Solidarity with anti-fascists and other victims of repression in
connection with the defense of Khimki forest is now important for both
democratic reasons and for protecting the Khimki forest permanentely.

Read more in Friends of the Earth Sweden statement: Khimkiskogen have
rescued - Save now also activists! On www.mjv.se. You can also join the
facebook groups Khimki Defense Of The Forest,
http://www.facebook.com/?sk=ru #! / pages /
Zasita-Himkinskogo-lesa-Defense-of-the-Khimki-Forest/152500571430115? ref =
ts and Freedom for Russian antifascists Alexei Gaskarov & Maxim Solopov!
http://www.facebook.com/?sk=ru #! / group.php? gid = 123233894390151 & ref =
ts where much of the material is in English. With the help of Google
translation function can also be passably read Russian texts.
A background article on why the need for solidarity with links can be found
at social forum journey blog on www.aktivism.info where more material on
Khimki conflict will be posted.

Tord Björk, active in the Friends of the Earth Sweden

Few minor corrections

>The two
> known representatives of Antifa in Moscow, as the largest anarchist

I would not call Antifa in Russia an anarchist organisation. There are many
anarchists, but in many regions (including Moscow), they are a minority.
Russian Antifa has people with a wide variety of opinions, from anarchists
and socialists to liberals and even conservatives, practically anything else
except fascists. From the arrested, Gaskarov considers himself as anarchist
and Solopov as leftist.

> movement in Russia is called, could easily be found by the police but no
> evidence that they participated in the action was proposed as the basis for
> their detention which made several human rights organizations reacting
> strongly against the arrest. The two Anti-fascists have been lost to an
> unknown location and there is great concern for what as happened to them.

Their location is not unknown, they are held in Mozhaisk remand prison in
Moscow region. This far they have not wanted to have the mail addresses

Below in Swedish

Stöd ryska antifascister i kampen för Khimkiskogen

Nyheten om att president Medvedev beordrat stopp för motorvägsbygget genom
Khimkiskogen vid Moskva till dess att ytterligare prövning genomförts tog
miljörörelsen med överraskning i torsdags. Kampen mot korruptionen bakom
projektet och för att öka det politiska trycket i till synes hopplösa lägen
har varit mycket hård. Chefredaktören Michail Beketov för en lokaltidning
som stått på barrikaderna mot motorvägen och de korrupta politikerna i
Khimki attackerades och skadades för resten av livet med ett ben och flera
fingrar amputerade och förlorad talförmåga. Anarkister som kollektivt
tillskrivs skulden för en direkt aktion mot den korrupta politiska maktens
centrum i Khimki jagas nu av polisen med tortyr. Vittnen uppger enligt
hjälporganisationen Anarkistiska Svarta Korset i Moskva att Nikita
Nikolaevich Chernobaev av säkerhetstjänsten FSB utsatts för slag mot
huvudet och andra delar av kroppen varpå en huva träddes över huvudet och
lufttillförseln stoppades för att framtvinga bekännelse om egen skuld och
vittnesmål om andras deltagande i aktionen mot Khimkis kommunalhus.

Många fler än anarkister drabbas nu i den klappjakt som pågår för att
uppvisa handlingskraft i statens reaktion på aktionen mot kommunalhuset som
inte riktade sig mot personer men ledde till skador i form av graffitti mot
skövlingen av skogen, ett fåtal krossade fönster och en uppbruten dörr.
Personer som polisen kan tänka sig haft kontakt med anarkister som kan ha
haft med aktionen att göra får sina datorer beslagtagna och blir tagna till
förhör. Många är rädda för sig och sina familjer långt utanför
anarkistkretsarna. Inte minst blir journalister som intervjuat anarkister
som deltagit i aktionen utsatta. Störst är oron för Alexei Gaskarov och
Maxim Solopov som greps och sedan häktades utan normal bevisföring först av
alla efter aktionen mot kommunalhuset. De två är kända företrädare för
antifas i Moskva som den största anarkiströrelsen kallas i Ryssland och
kunde därför lätt hittas av polisen men några bevis för att de deltagit i
aktionen lades inte fram som grund för häktningen vilket flera
organisationer för mänskliga rättigheter kraftigt reagerat mot. De två
antifascisterna har försvunnit till okänd plats och oron är stor för vad
som lkffrskett med dem.

Solidaritet med antifascister och andra som drabbas av förföljelser i
samband med försvaret av Khimkiskogen är nu viktigt både av demokratiska
skäl och för att skyddet av Khimkiskogen ska bli bestående.

Läs mer iMiljöförbundet Jordens Vänners uttlalande: Khimkiskogen har
räddats ­ Rädda nu också aktivisterna! På www.mjv.se. Du kan också gå med i
facebookgrupperna Defence of the Khimki Forest,

e-Khimki-Forest/152500571430115?ref=ts och Freedom for Russian antifascists
Alexei Gaskarov & Maxim Solopov!
http://www.facebook.com/?sk=ru#!/group.php?gid=123233894390151&ref=ts där
mycket av materialet är på engelska. Med hjälp av googles
översättningsfunktion kan man också hjälpligt läsa ryska texter.
En bakgrundsartikel om varför solidaritet behövs med länkar finns på
bloggen social mforum journey på www.aktivism.info där mer material om
Khimkikonflikten kommer läggas upp.

Tord Björk, aktiv i Miljöförbundet Jordens Vänner

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Moscow anti-fascist hospitalised with a brain injury following a torture by police

26th of August, three plain-clothed officers detained anti-fasict Nikita
Nikolaevich Chernobaev in Moscow suburb of Ramenskoye, born 1991. According
to lawyer and human rights activist Mikhail Trepashkin.,Nikita was taken to
local premises of Ministry of Interior, where an employee of the security
service FSB, began to demand from him a confession for his participation to
an action at the administrative building of the city of Khimki July 28, 2010.

During his first interrogation he succeeded to make a phone call to his
mother, saying that he was not allowed legal counsel and that he will sign
anything police demands. The mother asked: "Are they beating you up?". Nikita
answered: "Yes." Chernobaev was only released at 1 AM 27th of August , after
having signed a "confession" and an agreement on further cooperation.

After leaving the police station, mother called an ambulance. Nikita told
that they demanded him to sign a confession about having been in Khimki and
witnessed some people having participated to the action, and when he
refused, they beat him to the head and other parts of the body, dressed head
bag and blocked the air for breathing.

After such torture, he signed everything without reading it. After release, he
had visible traces from the handcuffs on his hands, traces from suffocation
around his neck and a black eye.

Paramedics brought Chernobaev to a hospital where doctors reported traces of
torture ito the local police station. They recorded a statement. After that,
the same three officers who beat Chernobaev attempted to pick up Nikita from
the hospital. For security reasons, he was transferred to a hospital in
Moscow However, this step does not guarantee him a calm treatment.

According to Trepashkin, these three police officers first declared to
Chernobaev that they are from the criminal investigation, and during
interrogation they claimed to be from the FSB,. They flatly refused to give
their names.

Please call to number +7-496-46-342-10, and ask names of the people who
tortured him. It is with this phone they called mother of Nikita and tried to
find out to which hospital Chernobaev was moved.

Anarchist Black Cross of Moscow
P.O. Box 13 109028 Moscow Russia
abc-msk AA riseup DD net

We are now also in facebook - please like both of our pages if you have an

(in English)
(in Russian)

(source: http://avtonom.org/en/node/13141)

Support Parole for PRican PP Oscar Lopez Rivera

The ProLibertad Freedom Campaign's New Campaign

In solidarity with the National Boricua Human Rights Network's (NBHRN) new campaign
to ask for parole for Oscar Lopez Rivera, one of our two Puerto Rican Political
Prisoners, ProLibertad has started an online petition to pressure President Brack
Obama to give Oscar parole or to commute his sentence.

We are asking all freedom loving people to support both the online petition, which
will be sent to President Barack Obama once we have reached our goal of 10,000
petitioners, and to support the letter writing campaign by the NBHRN. Our letters
and online support will help us bring one of the longest held political prisoners

Both campaigns are important! We must use all avenues available to help win
parole/commutation for Oscar.

Sign our petition: http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/Parole4OscarLopezR/

and send a letter out: http://boricuahumanrights.org/

"Agitation, organization, resistance, struggle and love are the ingredients that
will guarantee us VICTORY!" -Oscar Lopez Rivera, Puerto Rican Political Prisoner

For more information on Oscar Lopez Rivera and to write to him:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

international Day of Action for Jock on 19th of October

Anti-fascist in prison in Bulgaria

Jock Palfreeman is a 23 year old Australian who had the courage to stand
up against 16 Nazis on a night out in Sofia, Bulgaria. He witnessed the
fascists chasing and attacking two young Roma boys. Jock ran to the boys'
aid, he did his best to keep the Nazis at bay by waving a knife at them but
they attacked him. Jock was left with nowhere to run and had no choice but to
defend himself. Andrey Monov, one of the Nazis, was stabbed and killed and
another, Antoan Zahariev was injured. The Roma boys ran away.
Jock has since been tried and sentenced for murder and attempted murder.
He has been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment and has been fined 375,000
Australian dollars.
Andey Monovs Father is well known in Bulgaria and at the funeral there
were a mixture of judges, police and politicians.
Jock's trial was a complete sham-yet another example of corruption and
secret hand shakes in the judicial system. The prosecutions case was built on
the witness statements made by the other Nazis that were there that night,
all claiming that Jock randomly attacked the group and chased them with the
intent of killing somebody. Key people and possible witnesses were never
interviewed by police and CCTV footage from the scene miraculously went
missing and many of the statements made at the time were not the same as the
statements submitted to the court by the prosecution. Jock has two appeals
before his sentence becomes final.
We must campaign to free Jock and put pressure on Bulgarian authorities to
accept his appeal. If his charges were downgraded to excessive use of force
during self-defence, he would be already out. We must make sure that this
judicial farce is highlighted and that they will not be able to repeat it

Jock has its appeal on 21st of October- it is his only chance to walk free. We
need to do everything we can in order to get him out of there. There is going
to be an international Day of Action for Jock on 19th. If you can organise an
event in your are please get in touch with us
anarchosolidarity(at)yahoo.com . It is also of vital importance to keep
pressure with protest messages and smaller actions up till this time.
More messages to follow. Please distribute this appeal widely, put it on your
blogs, websites, forums, email lists.
Anarchist Solidarity

more information about the case on: www.freejock.net

What you can do:

-write to Jock – letters help him survive this difficult time and keep his
spirits high:

Jock Palfreeman, Sofia Central Prison, 21 General Stoletov Boulevard,
Sofia 1309, BULGARIA

- Organise solidarity actions outside Bulgarian embassies, consulates etc.-
use your creativity !

-Write messages of protest to Bulgarian authorities. It can be letters,
faxes, emails or you can even even phone calls.
We include sample letter, but you are welcome to write your own message.

Sample message:

To whom it may concern

We are writing in regards to Australian national Jock Palfreeman currently
imprisoned in Bulgaria. Palfreeman had been sentenced to 20 years of prison
for defending a passer-by and later on, himself from a vicious attack by a
group of drunken football hooligans. As a result one of the attackers died
and another got injured. Despite it being a clear case of self-defence and
his version of events being supported by numerous witnesses, his trial was a
farce. Anything working in favour of his defence was completely ignored by
the judge.

We demand that Bulgarian authorities grant him appeal and that he will be
acquitted of murder charges. We will be watching the next actions of the
Bulgarian Ministry of Justice. We will not rest until Jock Palfreeman will
get his appeal and is acquitted from those absurd charges.

Addresses to send your protests:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria
Address: 2, Aleksandar Zhendov Str., Sofia 1040, Bulgaria
Tel.: +359 2 948 2999 +359 2 948 2999

Information, Public Relations and European Communication Directorate

Director: Sofia Vladimirova
Tel.: +359 2 971 14 08 +359 2 971 14 08 g, 971 37 78, 948 22 18
Fax: +359 2 870 30 41
e-mail: iprd@mfa.government.bg

Ministry's Reception Desk
Tel.: +359 2 948 20 18 +359 2 948 20 18 971 10 54
In the work days from 9.30 to 12.00 h and from 14.00 to 16.00 h

Ministry of Justice:

Moscow antifascist needs help for treatment

Anarchist and anti-fascist from Moscow, who was attacked by nazis at 15th of
August 2010 after the football match
(https://antifa-action.org.ua/en/node/863), needs financial help for
treatment. His life isn't menaced, the harm to the health can be assessed as
moderate, treatment requires significant amounts of money.

You may read here how to donate:


In article in website of Ukrainian Helsinki group in Ukrainian language you
may see photos of the damages:


Anarchist Black Cross of Moscow
P.O. Box 13 109028 Moscow Russia
abc-msk AA riseup DD net

We are now also in facebook - please like both of our pages if you have an

(in English)
(in Russian)

(source: https://avtonom.org/en/node/13135)

New Oscar Lopez Rivera campaign letter

From: Alejandro Molina alejandrom@boricuahumanrights.org
Subject: New Oscar Lopez Rivera campaign letter-40,000 by January 2011!
Date: Sat, 28 Aug 2010

Dear compañeros/as, we’ve written a new letter to
the president for the campaign, based on a
decision Oscar has made, in response to a call
that he come home, whether by presidential
commutation or by parole. In the U.S., the
compañeros/as of National Boricua will be
collecting signatures and sending them to
Chicago, so that at the appropriate time we can
send them to the president and/or the parole
commission. A parole hearing is scheduled for January.

We also attach a call... National Boricua will be
collecting signatures from elected officials, as
well as leaders from the various sectors (community, artists, religious, etc.).

Finally, some new talking points about Oscar.

If you have any questions, please call Alejandro
at 312/296-7210 or at the above email.

Queridos compañeros/as, hemos escrito una nueva
carta al presidente, para el uso de la campaña,
basada en una decisión que ha tomado el
compañero, en respuesta a un llamado que aceptara
salir ya de la odiséa carcelaria, por conmutación
presidencial ó por salida bajo palabra, como ya
saben. En los eeuu, los compañeros/as del
National Boricua van a recoger firmas en la
calle, para que, en el momento apropiado, la
campaña se las enviémos al presidente y/ó la
junta de salida bajo palabra. Habrá una vista de la junta en enero.

Adjunto también un llamado... National Boricua
esta recogiendo firmas de los líderes electos,
comunitarios, artísticos, religiosos, etc., en ello.

Finalmente, unos “talking points” sobre Oscar.

Cualquier pregunta, favor de contactar a
Alejandro al 312/296-7210 o al correo electronico arriba.

Man pleads guilty to gross misdemeanor in RNC protest case, gets 91 days

From a bang to a whimper.

The criminal case against Republican National Convention protester Erik Oseland was resolved this afternoon, when he pleaded guilty to third-degree conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property, a gross misdemeanor.

The other charges against him were dismissed.

The former member of the RNC 8 admitted to talking with several other people before the 2008 event about knocking over newspaper boxes, thus "impeding the flow of convention traffic," said his attorney, Ted Dooley.

"You understand when you tip over these things, it damages the property," Dooley asked Oseland.

"Yes," Oseland said.

Oseland didn't damage any property; he was arrested two days before the convention began.

Ramsey County District Judge Teresa Warner sentenced Oseland to the time agreed upon in the plea agreement: 91 days in the workhouse — with the condition that he not be called to testify against any other RNC defendants.

It was a far cry from two years ago, when investigators raided the homes of two would-be protesters and Sheriff Bob Fletcher displayed at a press conference what they had found: sharp objects to pierce delegates' buses, buckets of alleged urine to throw at police and materials to make Molotov cocktails, among other things, he asserted.

Fletcher said at the time that plans were under way "to both shut down the Republican National Convention and actually harm the officers that are working this convention" and added that what was found "is only a portion of what is out there."

Eventually, eight members of the RNC Welcoming Committee, an anarchist protest group, were charged with second-degree conspiracy to commit riot in furtherance of terrorism — a charge that carried a potential five years in prison.

The county attorney's office later dropped the terrorism charges. But the eight still faced charges of first-degree conspiracy to commit property damage and second-degree conspiracy to commit riot, both felonies.

The 2008 criminal complaint against the group alleged that Oseland put a video on YouTube entitled "Video Map of the St. Paul Points of Interest," which featured prominent buildings and hotels in downtown St. Paul. It alleged that he and another man had discussed making Molotov cocktails to use during the RNC protests. It also accused him of planning to disable delegates' buses.

Oseland, 23, of Nisswa, Minn., declined comment after the hearing.

County Attorney Susan Gaertner said that whenever a case involves multiple defendants and conspiracy charges, "you're going to have varying degrees of culpability.

"You're also going to have varying degrees of evidence to support the charge of conspiracy," Gaertner said. "That certainly was an aspect of resolving the case against Mr. Oseland."

She said she did not know whether any other plea offers were on the table for the remaining defendants.

Dooley said the fact that Oseland would not have to testify against his co-defendants was "pivotal" to his agreeing to the plea.

"He wouldn't do that if you burned his feet," Dooley said.

At least two of the other RNC defendants attended the hearing.

"The seven of us are still committed to taking it all the way to trial," said defendant Garrett Fitzgerald.

Asked if they were disappointed in today's plea, defendant Max Specktor said, "Conspiracy charges create these situations where the state tries to divide us. That's the greater disappointment."

Critics have derided law enforcement and the county attorney's office for prosecuting the protesters, saying the focus on them has been an attempt to "criminalize dissent."

"This is clearly not about criminalizing dissent," Gaertner said. "It's about criminalizing destructive behavior and prosecuting destructive behavior. He pleaded guilty to that, and I think that's appropriate."

Oseland must report to the Ramsey County workhouse on Oct. 20.

Emily Gurnon can be reached at 651-228-5522.

Free the Scott Sisters March and Rally Sept, 15, 2010

Free the Scott Sisters March and RallyWhen: Sep 15, 2010 11:00am

Where: Beginning at Farish St. Park and ending at the Mississippi State Capitol,
Jackson, MS
Contact: The Committee to Free The Scott Sisters, freethescottsisters.blogspot.com,

On December 24, 1993, the Scott County Sheriff's Department arrested Jamie and
Gladys Scott for armed robbery even though three young males, ranging from ages 14
to 18, confessed to committing the crime and the women have unwaveringly maintained
their complete innocence.
The corrupt Mississippi Sherriff used coercion, threats, and harassment to compel
them to turns state's evidence against the Scott sisters due to a long standing
vendetta against a family member. The judge in the case, Marcus Gordon, has an
extensive racist past that includes granting bail to the KKK murderer of 3 civil
rights workers (Chaney, Goodman & Schwerner) in 1964.
In October 1994, the Scott sisters were sentenced to extraordinary double life terms
each, despite the fact that no one was harmed, neither sister had prior convictions
and the amount allegedly taken was $11.00.

The punishment does not fit the alleged crime!
The Scott Sisters are now in their 15th year of unjust imprisonment. Jamie Scott's
kidneys have recently failed and she is currently undergoing dialysis at the prison
3 times a week. On at least one occasion, it was reported that the catheter
(originally placed in Jamie's chest) became infected. It was also reported that
Jamie was rushed to the emergency room due to reports of chest pain. Jamie's health
is fading fast.
Please forward letters of support addressed to governor Haley Barbour to:
Free the Scott Sisters
c/o Attorney Chokwe Lumumba
440 N. Mill Street
Jackson, MS 39202
For more information:
The Committee to Free The Scott Sisters

Death penalty backers join calls for Ohio man to be spared

Doubts over murder conviction of Kevin Keith fuel demands for reconsideration of
death penalty in Ohio

An unlikely coalition of death penalty backers and opponents, including conservative
politicians and former judges, is attempting to prevent the execution of an Ohio man
they say was wrongly convicted of murdering a young child and two women.
Suggestions that police fabricated evidence against Kevin Keith, 46, has led the
group to urge Ohio's governor to spare him should his parole board hearing fail.
The case is also fuelling demands for a rethink of the death penalty in Ohio, which
carries out the second highest number of executions in the US.
The group is urging the Ohio governor, Ted Strickland, to spare the life of Keith,
who is scheduled to plead for a pardon or a new trial.
If the board rejects the appeal, Strickland will have to decide whether Keith will
be executed by lethal injection in September after 16 years on death row.
The case is fuelling demands for a rethink of the death penalty in Ohio, which
carries out the second highest number of executions in the US after Texas.
More than 30 former prosecutors and judges are pressing Strickland to free Keith or
order a new trial.
Among them is Jim Petro, a former Ohio attorney general and Republican who supports
the death penalty. "I am gravely concerned that the state of Ohio may be on the
verge of executing an innocent person," he said in a letter to the governor.
Herbert Brown, a former justice in Ohio's supreme court, also wrote to Strickland.
"There is a mass of exculpatory evidence, suppressed evidence, faulty eyewitness
identification and forensic reports that support legitimate claims of innocence," he
Keith was convicted of breaking into a flat and spraying it with bullets. Police
found four-year-old Machae Chatman dead alongside her mother and aunt. Two other
children survived, as did Richard Warren, who provided the eyewitness testimony that
convicted Keith.
At the trial, Keith was accused of murdering the Chatmans because one of their
relatives was an informant who had identified him as a drug dealer.
Keith said he had a watertight alibi – four people said he had been at his aunt's
house, 12 miles from the crime scene. But the jury convicted him.
Critics have suggested police fabricated a crucial piece of evidence. Keith's trial
was told a nurse who treated Warren said he had identified his attacker as someone
called Kevin.
After the trial, however, no nurse could be found with the name given by the police
officer who made the claim, and the nurse who treated Warren said she had never had
any such conversation.
Keith is optimistic that he will be saved from execution. "I don't want to die, but
I don't want life without parole either," he told Ohio's Columbus Dispatch
"I want out. I'm innocent. I want a life, but I'm afraid to let myself think about
what that might be like ,because it will hurt that much more if it doesn't happen."

miscarriage of justice primarily is the conviction and punishment of a person for a
crime they did not commit. The term can also apply to errors in the other
direction—"errors of impunity", and to civil case. Most criminal justice systems
have some means to overturn, or "quash", a wrongful conviction, but this is often
difficult to achieve. The most serious instances occur when a wrongful conviction is
not overturned for several years, or until after the innocent person has been
executed or died in jail. "Miscarriage of justice" is sometimes synonymous with
wrongful conviction, referring to a conviction reached in an unfair or disputed
trial. Wrongful convictions are frequently cited by death penalty opponents as cause
to eliminate death penalties to avoid executing innocent persons. In recent years,
DNA evidence has been used to clear many people falsely convicted.
Scandinavian languages have a word, the Norwegian variant of which is justismord,
which literally translates as "justice murder." The term exists in several languages
and was originally used for cases where the accused was convicted, executed, and
later cleared after death. With capital punishment decreasing, the expression has
acquired an extended meaning, namely any conviction for a crime not committed by the
convicted. The retention of the term "murder" represents both universal abhorrence
against wrongful convictions and awareness of how destructive wrongful convictions
Also, the term travesty of justice is sometimes used for a gross, deliberate
miscarriage of justice. The usage of the term in a specific case is, however,
inherently biased due to different opinions about the case. Show trials (not in the
sense of high publicity, but in the sense of lack of regard to the actual legal
procedure and fairness), due to their character, often lead to such travesties.
The concept of miscarriage of justice has important implications for standard of
review, in that an appellate court will often only exercise its discretion to
correct plain error when a miscarriage of justice (or "manifest injustice") would
otherwise occur.[1]

[Causes of miscarriages of justice include:

Plea bargains that offer incentives for the innocent to plead guilty
Confirmation bias on the part of investigators
Withholding or destruction of evidence by police or prosecution
fabrication of evidence or outright perjury by police (see testilying), or
prosecution witnesses (e.g. Dr Charles Smith)
Biased editing of evidence
Prejudice towards the class of people to which the defendant belongs
Poor identification by witnesses and/or victims
Overestimation/underestimation of the evidential value of expert testimony
Contaminated evidence
Faulty forensic tests
false confessions due to police pressure or psychological weakness
Misdirection of a jury by a judge during trial
perjured evidence by the real guilty party or their accomplices (frameup)
Perjured evidence by supposed victim or their accomplices
Conspiracy between court of appeal judges and prosecutors to uphold conviction of
innocentRisk of miscarriages of justice is one of the main arguments against the
death penalty. Where condemned persons are executed promptly after conviction, the
most significant effect of a miscarriage of justice is irreversible.
Wrongly-executed people nevertheless occasionally receive posthumous pardons—which
essentially void the conviction—or have their convictions quashed. Many death
penalty states hold condemned persons for ten or more years before execution, so
that any new evidence that might acquit them (or, at least, provide reasonable
doubt) will have had time to surface.
Even when a wrongly-convicted person is not executed, years in prison can have a
substantial, irreversible effect on the person and their family. The risk of
miscarriage of justice is therefore also an argument against long sentences, like
life sentence, and cruel sentence conditions.

Relief Urgently Needed for Innocent Man on Ohio's Death Row

Targeting: Ohio Parole Board and Governor Ted Strickland
Started by: Supporters of Kevin Keith
The State of Ohio is poised to execute Kevin Keith on September 15, 2010, in spite
of overwhelming evidence supporting what Mr. Keith has maintained from the time of
his arrest – he is actually innocent, wrongfully convicted of a crime based on
faulty eyewitness identification. The Ohio Innocence Project, the National Innocence
Network, and a group of leading eyewitness and memory experts all support relief for
Mr. Keith. Help urge the Ohio Parole Board and Governor Ted Strickland to grant
clemency to Kevin Keith by adding your name to this letter.

Report close You must be signed in to report content.

Petition Text
Clemency For Kevin Keith

The State of Ohio is poised to execute Kevin Keith on September 15, 2010, in spite
of overwhelming evidence supporting what Mr. Keith has maintained from the time of
his arrest – he is actually innocent, wrongfully convicted of a crime based on
faulty eyewitness identification.

Mr. Keith has an alibi for the time of the crime supported by four witnesses.

The Ohio Innocence Project, the National Innocence Network, and a group of leading
eyewitness and memory experts all support relief for Mr. Keith.

I urgently appeal to the Ohio Parole Board and Governor Ted Strickland to grant
clemency to Kevin Keith to prevent the State of Ohio from doing the intolerable:
putting a man to death for a crime he did not commit.

The primary evidence against Mr. Keith was the erroneous eyewitness identification
of one of the surviving victims of the crime, who identified Mr. Keith in spite of
initially telling at least four witnesses that he was unable to identify the
perpetrator. This identification of Mr. Keith relied on the very procedures
recognized to be unreliable and inaccurate by Governor Strickland and the Ohio
Legislature when the State passed into law in April new requirements for eyewitness
identification procedures.

New evidence recently uncovered by counsel for Mr. Keith further discredits the
identification. Thirteen years after he was convicted, Mr. Keith discovered that one
of the State’s supposed “witnesses” – who was critical to corroborating the
legitimacy of the eyewitness identification – does not actually exist.

Additional new evidence also implicates an alternative suspect who told a police
informant that he was paid to carry out the crime for which Mr. Keith stands to be

No court has ever had the entirety of new evidence before it.

More information on the case can be found at: www.kevinkeith.org.

Mr. Keith has steadfastly maintained his innocence from the time of his arrest and
throughout his 16 years on death row. The State of Ohio now risks putting to death
an innocent man with no jury ever hearing the entirety of evidence of innocence.

I appeal to the Ohio Parole Board and Governor Strickland to grant clemency to Kevin

[Your name]


Raymond Grenier (Woonsocket, RI)
Signed letter
about 4 hours ago

Echo G. (Ashland, OH)
Signed letter
about 5 hours ago

Tina Neylon (Cork, Ireland)
Signed letter
about 8 hours ago

Michael Richardson (Hawthorne, CA)
Signed letter
about 12 hours ago

Robert Humphrey (Brookings, OR)
Signed letter
about 15 hours ago

Martina Rocha (Houston, TX)
Signed letter
about 17 hours ago

Patricia M Johnson (Columbus, OH)
Signed letter
about 23 hours ago

James Neagley (Leesburg, NJ)
Signed letter
Aug 14

Phoebe Murphy (norwich, United Kingdom)
Signed letter
Aug 14

Candice Barnett (Santa Monica, CA)
Signed letter
Aug 13


Take Action @change: Relief Urgently Needed for Innocent Man on Ohio's Death Row
3 days ago

Michael L. Love
Relief Urgently Needed for Innocent Man on Ohio's Death Row | Criminal Justice |
Change.org http://ping.fm/0rY40
3 days ago

Amanda Williams
Take Action @change: Relief Urgently Needed for Innocent Man on Ohio's Death Row
4 days ago

Badweather Crow
Take Action @change: Relief Urgently Needed for Innocent Man on Ohio's Death Row
5 days ago

Hans Lussenburg
Take Action @change: Relief Urgently Needed for Innocent Man on Ohio's Death Row
5 days ago

@ACCADP: Stop OH execution of #KevinKeith convicted on faulty eyewitness I.D. SIGN
PETITION & PLEASE RT!! http://tinyurl.com/2aut7c2
5 days ago

@ACCADP: Stop OH execution of #KevinKeith convicted on a eyewitness that DOESN'T
EXIST. Sign&Pls RT Thanx http://tinyurl.com/2aut7c2
5 days ago

Take Action @change: Relief Urgently Needed for INNOCENT Man on Ohio's Death Row
5 days ago

Bruce Eggum
Take Action @change: Relief Urgently Needed for Innocent Man on Ohio's Death Row
5 days ago

Darcy Delaproser
RT @ACCADP: Stop OH execution of #KevinKeith convicted on faulty eyewitness I.D.
SIGN PETITION & PLEASE RT!! http://tinyurl.com/2aut7c2 ...
6 days ago

Women Detainees Sexually Abused as ICE Polices Itself

Photo: Standing FIRM

Wednesday, August 25 2010, colorlines.com

For some of the women at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, the indignity of immigrant detention became a full-blown nightmare when Donald Charles Dunn got his way, according to criminal charges recently filed in Texas.

The ACLU reports that Dunn, an employee of the infamous Corrections Corporation of America, “is accused of abusing the detainees as he was transporting them to the airport after they had been released on bond.” An announcement from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office reveals more disturbing details:

Three women that were interviewed told detectives that they were inappropriately touched outside of their clothing on their breast, vaginal or buttocks areas. Two of the three victims said they were unlawfully restrained. The two charges of unlawful restraint occurred when Mr. Dunn took the victims to the above location against their will. One victim told officers she thought she would be either “killed or violated.”

The allegations are particularly striking in light of the fact that Hutto underwent a major face-lift when it transitioned from a notoriously cruel “family” facility to a women-only institution. In a letter sent to Homeland Security in June, the ACLU argued:

The ICE Assistant Secretary had long made clear that ICE has a “zero tolerance” policy for sexual abuse. Hutto had been refurbished in recent years (pursuant to litigation brought against Hutto when it was used to detain families with children) and ICE had assigned a Detention Services Manager to Hutto to ensure oversight of daily operations. This raises a troubling question: if sexual abuse of detainees could take place under these ideal circumstances, how then is the detention system today functioning any more securely or humanely than it did under the previous administration? The ICE failure at Hutto ultimately points to a fundamental flaw in ICE’s detention system - ICE cannot regulate itself.

The letter also listed other sexual abuse cases in the detention system. Last September, for instance, “a former guard at the Port Isabel detention center in Texas admitted to forcing female detainees to strip in isolation cells so he could molest them.”

Dunn now resides on the other side of law enforcement, facing counts of official oppression and unlawful restraint. But that’s hardly comforting to the women who harbor stories of exploitation that may never see the light of day. According to the Sherriff’s press release, “Several women who were interviewed denied any contact with Mr. Dunn,” and “Several women could not be located for questioning because of out of date addresses with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

We’ll never know how many survivors were too terrified to come forward. As for the missing women, even if authorities located them, what incentive would they have to cooperate with the same criminal justice system that flagrantly exposed them to sexual coercion?

The detention system may well have released many victims of sexual abuse over the years, either deporting them or returning them to their communities in America to live again as second-class citizens. Whatever their fate, they’re forced to live in silence with the trauma, knowing that whatever they say, they’ll always been seen as criminals, not survivors.

1st Annual Black August Independent Film Festival

"Where we live and work, we must Not only escalate discussion and study Groups, we
must also organize on the ground level. The landlords must be contested through rent
strikes and rather than develop strategies to pay the rent, we should develop
strategies to take the buildings. We must not only recognize the squatters movement
for what it is, but support and embrace it. Set up communes in abandoned buildings,
sell scrap cars and aluminum cans. Turn vacant lots into gardens. When our children
grow out of clothes, we should have places where we can take them, clearly marked
anarchist clothing exchanges and have no bones about looking for clothing there
first. And of course we should relearn how to preserve food; we must learn
construction and ways to take back our lives, help each other move and stay in
~Kuwasi Balagoon
THE MALCOM X GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT presents the 1st Annual Black August Independent
Film Festival at the National Black Theatre in Harlem, NY:

The 1st annual Black August Independent Film Festival highlighting OUR resistance to
OUR oppression. ON August 28th from 1pm-10pm as a way to continue to commemorate the
month of Black August as a month to commemorate OUR resistance to oppression, the
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement will be hosting a one day-film festival highlighting
films that showcase OUR resistance to Our oppression. We hope you can join us at the
National Black Theater 2031 5th avenue (between 125th and 126th Street) for this day
of films and discussions highlighting OUR resistance to our oppression. The entry
fee is only 10 dollars and all proceeds raised go towards our political prisoners
and freedom fighters in the United States.

National Black Theatre

Film times:

1pm Introduction
1:30pm-1:40pm I Am Sean bell
1:40pm-2:40pm Operation Small Axe
2:50pm-3:20pm Panel on Organizing against Police Brutality:
On Panel: JR Valery POCC, (Director of Operation Small Axe),
Stacey Muhammad (Director of I am Sean bell)
Lalit Clarkson (Malcolm X Grassroots Movement)
3:35pm-4:00pm Sping break in Haiti
4:00pm-4:30pm Panel on concrete ways to support Haiti

On Panel: Jesus LUC (Director of Spring Break in Haiti)
Natalie Pierre (Malcolm X Grassroots Movement)
Dr. Kwame Easterling (Malcolm X Grassroots Movement)
JR Valery (POCC)
4:30pm-5:15pm Dinner/Lunch
5:15pm Introduction for second half
5:30pm-6:50 Slingshot Hip-hop
7:00pm-8:30pm Ni Wakati
8:30pm-9:15pm Panel on International Resistance thru Hip-hop

On Panel: Nancy Mansour (Existance is Resistance)
Michaeal Wanguhu (Director of Ni Wakati)

The 2 Videos below is a piece of what you will see at the Film Festival:

I Am Sean Bell

Operation Small Axe

The Khimki forest is saved ­ Now save the activists!

To friends of Russia and forests everywhere:

The Khimki forest is saved ­ Now save the activists!

Thanks to an impressive solidarity and historically courageous struggle,
activists in Russia from all parts of society supported by people in common
have been able to save the Khimki forest close to Moscow. The plan was to
build a toll high way through one of the last forests in the green belt
surrounding the city. Direct action to save the forest and wider and wider
support at street rallies and in opinion polls made president Medvedev
decide in favour of protecting the forest for the moment.

Russian democratic culture has shown its strength in a historically
important battle. Journalists exposing corrupt economic interests with
political support in the project of the high way through the Khimki forest
have been attacked and crippled for life. Environmentalists, antifascists,
human rights activists and liberal and left wing parties have together with
many others been able to confront the interests of the exploiters of the

No to new Moscow trials against activists!

Russia brought literature to the world that inspire generations everywhere
and Soviet Union brought us the great victory over German fascism. Cultural
inspiration and sacrifice for which we are grateful. Moscow brought us also
trials in the 1930s built mostly on fraud and sometimes on grossly
exaggerated charges.

The news about the successful outcome of the Khimki forest conflict is
accompanied with the information that the activists Alexei Gaskarov and
Maxim Solopov still are in jail facing trials which we fear will be built on
fraud evidence. They were arrested after a protest action at the Khimki
administration building causing some material damage in July in defence of
the Russian forest without evidence against them and against normal
procedure. The reason why they were arrested was not that they were
present at the action but that they were well-known spokespersons for
antifascists in Moscow in other matters. They are threatened by many years
in the dangerous Russian prison system.

The Khimki forest is saved but it has happened before in Russia in other
environmental cases that promises have been given and then not kept. There
is only one way to make the victory in the battle for the Khimki forest a
victory in the struggle for all forests in Russia and the world. That is to
turn the victory into a struggle for the defenders of the forest and all
those that have been arrested as the result of the conflict. Only by showing
our seriousness in continuing to defend the victory and those that made it
possible can we be for sure that the forest will be protected and make our
commitment a warning to anyone exploiting forest anywhere in disrespect of
ecological and social concerns.

This is why we call upon organizations and individuals everywhere to
continue the struggle.

Free the activists Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov!

Save the Khimki forest for ever and protect forests everywhere!

Statement by Friends of the Earth Sweden, August 27th 2010

Minneapolis 'zombies' give $4000 to 'targets of state repression'

By Stephanie Dearing. digitaljournal.com

Minneapolis - One of the seven people who put on a zombie street performance in downtown Minneapolis in 2006 to protest mindless consumption announced Thursday is donating a portion of his settlement to other anarchists who are fighting legal charges.
Infoshop News reported on a video announcement made by Raphi Rechitsky Thursday, when Rechitsky said he and the others who make up the group now known as 'the Zombie 7' would donate at least $4,000 of the $165,000 they will receive from the City of Minneapolis to other anarchists fighting legal charges. The Zombie 7 have decided to donate the money to eight people known as the RNC 8 and a separate activist, Scott DeMuth. Rechitsky explained the decision in his video release, saying
"... We wanted to hold the city accountable for suppressing political action. And this week we were awarded a $165,000 settlement from the City of Minneapolis. In my opinion, this money doesn't just belong to me, but all those who work for a better world. For that reason, I'm asking winners of political settlements to pay it forward and donate to targets of state repression."
Rechitsky said he personally was giving $1,500 to the RNC 8 and Scott DeMuth. "Repression is not isolated," Rechitsky explained. "Neither is resistance." Playing on the zombie reference, Rechitsky concluded,
"Use your brains. Pay it forward and defend all targets of state repression."
A press release accompanied the video announcement posted at Vimeo, explaining the Zombie 7 had donated a minimum of $4,000 towards the RNC8 and Scott DeMuth. In the release, Rechitsky said the Zombie 7 were motivated to donate a portion of their settlement because
"The Zombie 7 were not slapped with criminal charges after being absurdly arrested for 'simulating weapons of mass destruction. But countless others are prosecuted for their artistic and political expression, views, and associations, much like the RNC 8 and Scott DeMuth. They face not only jail time and exhausting legal proceedings, but also costly legal defense. My fellow zombies and I have come to understand that with a flip of a coin, we could have been the ones to face criminal charges on outrageous accusations of 'violence.'"
The donation answers some of the questions asked by the public since the Zombie 7 settlement was announced earlier this week. The group also said it will split the $165,000 award with their lawyer. The RNC 8 are a group of eight anarchist activists who were arrested pre-emptively for their organizing efforts. The group was preparing to launch political protests at the Republican National Convention, which took place in Minneapolis in the spring of 2008. Police zeroed in on the eight after they posted a video promoting protests at the convention in 2007 they called."We're Getting ready! RNC Welcoming Committee trailer ." According to the website, Defend the RNC8, the eight face serious charges.
"... The “RNC 8″ were originally charged with conspiracy to riot in the 2nd degree in furtherance of terrorism, a felony which was the first ever use of Minnesota’s PATRIOT Act. In December 2008, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner (who is also running for Governor of Minnesota as a Democrat) added three more felony charges: 2nd degree conspiracy to riot (without the terrorism enhancement), 1st degree conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property in furtherance of terrorism, and 1st degree conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property (without the terrorism enhancement). Then, in April 2009, Gaertner dropped the two “in furtherance of terrorism” charges due to political pressure from RNC 8 supporters. The other two conspiracy charges still remain, and the RNC 8 still potentially face several years of prison time."
The eight charged, Luce Guillen-Givins, Max Specktor, Nathanael Secor, Eryn Trimmer, Monica Bicking, Erik Oseland, Robert Czernik and Garrett Fitzgerald, say their arrests are an attempt to 'criminalize activism.' In a press release issued in June, the group maintains they were arrested without probable cause. Just prior to the 2008 Republican National Convention, St. Paul police arrested over 200 people. Common Dreams reported that 27 of those arrested filed a class action lawsuit against the city. In May this year, Democracy Now and journalist Amy Goodman also launched a lawsuit against Minneapolis for arresting Democracy Now journalists while they were covering the protests at the 2008 Convention. In spite of the preemptive arrests, protests still took place. Attempts by police to control protesters resulted in at least one lawsuit filed against police for police brutality. 22 year old Scott DeMuth was arrested under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act in Iowa. He was arrested and charged with conspiracy after he refused to testify "... before a federal grand jury in Davenport that was investigating an Animal Liberation Front (ALF) raid at the University of Iowa in 2004." DeMuth is alleged to have participated in the 2004 raid of the University of Iowa. During that raid, activists removed 401 animals from the University of Iowa, while vandalizing research labs and offices; destroying research. The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) claimed responsibility saying
"... If not for the brave efforts of these compassionate activists, these animals would have been forced to continue to face horrific treatment at the hands of the university’s researchers, having holes drilled into their head, being forced to suffer through severe dehydration, electrocution, and extreme cold, as well as the forced ingestion of cocaine, methamphetamine and PCP."
Those who support DeMuth say the charges against him are 'politically motivated.' A press release posted to Davenport Grand Jury explained
"... the prosecutor, Cliff Cronk, has repeatedly stated in court that DeMuth is a “domestic terrorist” because of his alleged political beliefs and associations."
The ALF alleges the investigation is fraudulent. Preemptive arrests prior to major events have become a preferred way to police protests around the world. Denmark gave police power to arrest people preemptively just before the December 2009 UN climate change negotiations that took place in that country. The Guardian reported the new law meant police could arrest people solely on the suspicion that those arrested might commit a crime in the near future. Police were also allowed to detain people for 12 hours without charges. The latest examples of preemptive arrests took place in Toronto, Canada during the G20 summit meeting. Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom summed up the issue as being a case where
"... those in charge of the police found civil liberties inconvenient."
Walkom concluded his article by saying preemptive arrests are "... the totalitarian’s recipe for public order." Update: City Pages reported Zomie 7 would donate $4,000 to Scott DeMuth and another $4,000 to the RNC 8. Correction: The title originally had the wrong city (Minnesota) ... and the title has been corrected to reflect this du-oh moment on the part of the author. Many apologies.

Friday, August 27, 2010

David Japenga Convicted, Jailed Pending Sentencing

Anarchist News Thu, Aug 26, 2010

It is with heavy hearts that we regretfully inform you that on August 25th
a jury returned a guilty verdict for each of five counts against our
friend David Japenga. Citing him as a high flight risk and a danger to the
community, his bail was revoked and he was taken into custody pending his
formal sentencing, which was scheduled for November 23rd. David's lawyer
filed a Petition for Bond the same day and we are awaiting a hearing on
the motion. In the meantime, David can receive mail sent to:

David Japenga 153760
950 Second Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
[community <> windows?]

He can receive money orders with his DOC number written on them to his ACJ
address. Otherwise ABC Pittsburgh will be collecting donations for his
commissary. They can be mailed to:
ABC Pittsburgh
PO Box 9272
Pittsburgh, PA

Or email abcpittsburgh(a)riseup.net to arrange a pickup.

Later that night, approximately 30 of David's friends and supporters held
a demonstration for him outside of the Allegheny County Jail where he was
housed. For about a half an hour, they chanted "David Japenga" and "Fuck
the police" while banging on metal guardrails with rocks, lighting road
flares and smoke bombs, and playing music over a boombox. Inmates flicked
their lightswitches and banged on their windows in response.

David Japenga was arrested during a riot in Pittsburgh on the first night
of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, PA. He was ultimately charged with three
counts of criminal mischief (one of which was a felony), one count of
posessing an instrument of crime and one count of false identification to
a police officer.

Court notes will be published shortly. For more information about
supporting Dave, email abcpittsburgh(a)riseup.net.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Roman Circus in Peru - The Persecution of Lori Berenson

August 26, 2010

By DANTE CASTRO ARRASCO Counterpunch.org


Once again the guardians of law and order fatten
themselves on human suffering, assisted by their
solicitous epigones of the press. They wanted to
produce a spectacle for the bleachers; they
wanted to demonstrate the sacrosanct principle
of authority; they wanted to satisfy the thirst
for vengeance of many. But what they did was
make the biggest fools of themselves in the
international media, leaving on the floor the
prestige of the “state of law” in Peru. Lori
Berenson returns to jail on a legal technicality,
totally ridiculous, like the authorization of her
residence, which everyone knew and which
attracted attention when the “good neighbors” of
Miraflores protested her presence.

It was not a matter of ripping off the clothes of
a North American connected to terrorism. Nor of a
pitiful plea by someone supposed to be guilty and
whom the tenderness of the tribunals left at
liberty. It is a case of disrespect for the
judicial decisions, the result of due
process. We have seen with disbelief how an
order of parole was revoked by consent of the
most reactionary and retrograde sectors of the
Executive Power. It is a case of limited or
non-existent independence of Judicial Power.

But in addition to violating the guaranties of
the party to be judged, they are merciless with
the person sentenced and her infant. The
newspaper media have inherited from the
Fujimori/Montesinos period a way of acting as if
lynching by periodicals were one tool more in the
service of the repressive authority of the
State. This overload typical of the black shirt
squadrons which surround the one interviewed to
cut off his escape, make him stumble, cause him
to despair and harass him without any
consideration, pretends to be the expression of
the rejection by the “good citizens” of
everything they consider dangerous for the democratic system.

We saw it recently when indigenous leader Alberto
Pizango returned to Peru and was arrested. We
saw it when presidential candidate Ollanta Humala
tried to set up a debate with Alan García in
2006. We saw it and suffered when at the end of
the megatrial against the MRTA, far from the
Naval Base prison of Callao, reporters threw
themselves on the families, blinding them with
their reflectors, sticking the cameras and tape
recorders in their faces, assaulting them with
questions and preventing them free
movement. Whatever resistance there is to this
massive aggression is interpreted as “an attack
on the press.” This same thing happened to Lori
Berenson. And the whole world has seen it.

They say there is no reason to make “any
concession to terrorism which caused 69 thousand
victims in the country.” And this resembles
chewed gum or a slogan; it is the refrain
repeated by automata which makes no difference
between victims caused by the subversive groups
and those caused by the terrorism of the
State. Lieutenant Telmo Hurtado, assassin of 74
children and old people in Accomarca in 1985,
when he was extradited from the United States in
2008, was not lynched by the press nor repudiated
by the deceitful interpreters of public
opinion. Nor is anything said about those who
govern us, president Alan García and vice
president Admiral Luis Giampietri, guilty of the
biggest massacre of political prisoners in Latin
America: over 200 Sendero Luminoso captives in 1986.

For white collar thieves, a luxury compartment in
San Jorge! For state terrorists, impunity. For
the corrupt and genocidal, re-election. The
ex-paramilitary of the Comando Rodrigo Franco
death squad (1985 to 1990), work today in
government posts, some on the roll of Congress,
and retire under law 20530, the superficial
decentralization project of García. For Lori
Berenson, accused of collaboration with
terrorism, knowing that she killed nobody nor
planted bombs, the exact contrary is applied.

It is not strange that bourgeois nationalism,
that which welcomed militants like Congressmen
Meckler and Torres Caro, and which paints itself
as an alternative to raw capitalism, joins in the
hysterical uproar of the middle class. Even the
nationalist newspaper – which only the stupid
consider leftist – said that there were shady
deals under the table between García and Obama
to free Berenson. (¡Thanks Don César!) But
let’s remember that Ollanta Humala, in the
elections of 2006, agreed with Alan García not to
raise the issue of human rights. He even
demonstrated in favor of the termination of
trials for the military who fought
subversion. And he, like his bishop Abugattás,
spoke out against the parole of Lori Berenson in
May 2010. Now Pedro Santos, nationalist
congressman, says that "the Judicial Power is
acting as it should. We are acting without
pressure from international organizations. This
is the most advantageous." Very little can be
expected of someone who has a brother abandoned
to his fate behind bars for having commiteed the crime of rebellion.

The dangerousness of Lori Berenson or the risk of
recidivism only occurs to the ignorant. The MRTA
ceased to exist and there is no political
situation favorable to the renewal of armed
struggle. The ex-prisoners of the MRTA have
reincorporated themselves into society and try to
function politically by democratic means. None
of the former Tupacamarist prisoners have
suffered a Calvary like that of Lori
Berenson. Therefore we must suppose that behind
all this fanfare are other reasons which no one
in the government dares confess. It is question
of an exemplary case which meets the necessary
conditions for global propaganda, demonstrating
“inflexibility” towards foreign interference and
the possible renunciation of international
covenants, agreements, and treaties with regard
to human rights. These are the means of
indemnization of persons tried and convicted for
terrorism by military tribunals during the
Fujimori/Montesinos dictatorship, to whom the
guaranties of due process were denied.

They have in their hands a cinematic victim to
throw into the Roman circus: it is a woman and a
foreigner. Concerning the bravery of Alan García
with foreign women, his own wife Pilar Nores, who
has chosen to be prudent, could offer good
testimony. Brave subject, he who governs
us! Very brave against helpless women, against
worn-out prisoners (1986) and against defenseless village children.

Dante Castro is an ex-MRTA political prisoner who
has won various prizes as a writer in Peru
Translated by Bill Nottingham

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Alex Hall moved - new address

ELP Information Bulletin (25th August 2010)

Dear friends

ELP has just received the following e-mail.

> Convicted mink liberator Alex Hall has been moved to a federal prison. This is his
new address, please disseminate widely:

> Alex Hall
> 15908-081
> He has been told he will be released to a halfway house in December. Meanwhile,
the BOP has seemingly arbitrarily decided his co-defendant, William Viehl, will be
released in September.

Race, Culture and Incarceration: An Investigation

racism against blacks by cops Race, Culture and Incarceration: An Investigation

By Liz Appel peopleofcolororganize.com

This paper seeks to place specific texts, authors, scholars, and activists under a political microscope, differentiating among reformist, abolitionist and revolutionary ideologies. Obviously the act of classification is problematic and can often be counterproductive; however, in critiquing the politics of different people and their respective works, arranging texts within broader ideological categories facilitates a greater discussion about the foundation, representation, interpretation, and embodiment of the politics themselves. This is not to say that the politics of each text is clear cut, or that irreconcilable tensions do not exist. All of these aspects are important to tease out in establishing a better understanding of how politics operate and are often contradictory in discourse and action. The dominant mainstream player on the “left” is the reformist, whose nonthreatening politics strive to create the most all-encompassing, broad based movement. As reformist politics strive to create the most all-encompassing, broad-based movement, this is the mainstream, nonthreatening dominant player on the left. Those with more radical beliefs are often detached from their ideological base(s) when struggling with or acting in coalition with a group that works underneath and with respect for the State. Prison “activism” has taken center stage in current liberal politics, and the danger of coopting messages of radical transformation and abolition are not to be discounted. The bulk of this paper will critique reformist texts/activist strategies/intellectuals for their lack of race-based analyses of incarceration and their unquestioning allegiance to the State, thus perpetuating the very institutions whose external symptoms they attempt to bandage.

I will also argue that abolitionist politics, although more “progressive” than reformist ideology in its critiques of the State, still falls short of the mark in not prioritizing a need for a fundamental transformation of society. Whereas abolitionists might want to tear down State structures, other manifestations of the State will continue to appear in place of the old. Therefore, working towards the end of prisons without placing it within the context of capitalism, white supremacy, and racism, one’s efforts are counterproductive. All too often, so-called abolitionists create a self-fulfilling prophesy in their efforts to destroy specific sites of the State rather than the State itself.

Considering these definitions of reformist and abolitionist politics, revolutionary politics necessarily requires not only a critique of the State, but the entire obliteration of the source. If this source remains in tact, structured inequality and systematic marginalization of certain sectors of society will also hold form. For many who seek end an end to injustice and oppression, this language is extremist and alienating. For others, (I would argue that this specifically applies to people in contained and isolated environments, like the college campus), this kind of language is novel, and removed from any context or oppressed population. It is often overly-intellectualized, theorized, and made solely into a disconnected empty discourse. Revolutionary movements in the United States have been repressed by State violence and erased through State ideology. Thus, for most people, the idea of revolution is just that. Abstract and often removed, revolution has been skewed. In my opinion, many students, activists, and scholars alike are quick to spout revolution but often digress to reformist tendencies.

In thinking about the different conceptualizations of freedom, perhaps we can begin to see these various ideologies play out. The idea of freedom is not a static concept, but rather something that has been constructed to hold various meanings. To reformists, those currently incarcerated are living in a state of unfreedom, and everyone not detained by the State is “free”. To many abolitionists, people incarcerated throughout history have existed in shackles. The interrogation of the State’s fundamental role in this phenomenon is still limited. However, to those embracing revolutionary politics, I would argue that they believe that, to a certain extent, everyone exists in a state of unfreedom in a society founded upon racism and inequality, (although some are certainly more unfree than others). For example, there are marginalized groups that exist on the outside of prison walls who are subjected to similar forms of surveillance and racist policing regimes as those who are warehoused within. Therefore, a revolutionary critique of the prison system would argue that external carcerals exist, thereby blurring the barriers constructed by the State. Because the prison population continually in flux, the racialized body is always at risk of incarceration and therefore is policed in both prisons as well as external carcerals. Thus under this model, in order to achieve true freedom, one must necessarily surrender the “rights” of a “free” individual and put oneself at war with the State.

It is essential to deconstruct the State’s methods of transmitting information to its populace, as well as the information itself, in attempting to understand why revolutionary rhetoric is interpreted as extremist, even in most “activists” circles. One sector to investigate is the public education system, whose primary function is to legitimize the State and thus, not hold it the government accountable for any wrongdoings. Therefore, State utilization of public education becomes a powerful tool of domination. The State continues to reproduce itself through the ideological interpellation of its “populous” starting, for many, as early as two or three years of age. What a silent, seemingly nonconfrontational weapon, to reproduce generations of people who are trained to think and act only as individuals with “free” choice and the “right” to self-determination, that well-being is based on material consumption, to never question the authenticity of the State, and that the status quo is in fact, fixed.

When focusing on the criminal justice system, specifically, the State has been almost flawless in its utilization of the media and other “popular” sources, in its ability to mass produce ideas about “crime” and criminality. The State in its perpetuation of white supremacy and racism, must necessarily promote large-scale fear of the racialized body as criminal: “The principal contradiction between oppressor and oppressed can be reduced to the fact that the only way the oppressor can maintain his position is by fostering, nurturing, building contempt for the oppressed” (Georgia Jackson Freedom Archives). In the educational space, speech is often only for the sake of speech itself, thus reproducing empty words. The educational atmosphere is systematically detached from society so that speech and ideology need not inform and incite action. Thus even the select minority who are equipped with the tools to think critically often do not use them to fight, as the oppressive atmosphere of isolation creates apathetic and lethargic attitudes. One is trained place such high value on comfort and safety so that it any action is stifled by mental paralysis. Interrogating the State and theoretically calling for a destruction of that State in the educational space is safe because there is no responsibility to follow through with action.

Race and the State are two central players that seem to disappear in reformist politics. In marginalizing race from ideology, the reformist is necessarily reinforcing the white supremacist hegemonic structures of the State. Being uncritical of racially coded words perpetuate the racist assumptions upon which this country was “founded”. Making race central to one’s argument, therefore, must be a conscious and deliberate act of defiance. Reformers many times choose not to include race or point to it as fundamental to their argument. This is often because there is a privilege to make this choice. Because white reformists are not racialized, they have the freedom to think about race when it is convenient. Also, many reformists, although aware of injustices, still buy into the State’s propaganda that racism is only individual, not structured into social institutions.

As mentioned previously, also absent from a reformer’s arguments is a critique or questioning of the State itself. That is, reformers choose to work under the guise of the State. Whereas they may fight some of its obvious excesses and flaws, the State itself is always legitimized and remains fundamentally uninterrogated. This points back to larger questions of freedom and from what framework people choose to operate.

In One Dies, Get Another, Matthew Mancini exposes the convict-lease system for its blatant horrors. Whereas the importance of this project is not to be disregarded, the framework from which Mancini writes is highly problematic. Mancini’s arguments become fatalistic. That is, in his attempts to over-emphasize the horrendous atrocities of the convict-lease system, he decontextualizes this practice from slavery, a system of genocide, racism, etc. By creating an image of the convict lease system as an aberrational phenomenon, it becomes difficult to link it to other State creations. Mancini attempts to completely isolate the convict-lease system as a separate incident detached from its historical context, in which lynchings (at their height in the late 1800’s/early 1900s), other forms of racial violence, and race-based discrimination in the forms of housing, education, suffrage, and jobs were all prevalent. In fact, due to Mancini’s lack of acknowledging the convict-lease system as a manifestation of State sanctioned violence, very few options to abolish this system appear.

It is interesting to note how a book closely detailing the convict-lease system could so blatantly exclude race from its discourse. Obviously texts that focus on political economy can also make race central to their argument. Mancini, however, does not make this important link and therefore negates the role of racism and white supremacy in the very construction of the convict lease system itself. Mancini’s (neo)liberal politics are evidenced by his inundating readers with arguments distinguishing the convict lease system from slavery or any other State construction: “A more conclusive difference arises when one considers the slaves’ status as radically dishonored beings, a standing linked to their condition as outsiders. Before emancipation slaves might not have been a part of “society”, but Reconstruction endowed the freedmen with the status of citizenship” (Mancini 21). This argument is completely arbitrary and in my mind, false. Citizenship does not translate to being considered normative, and certainly whites have “radically dishonored” blacks and other people of color since they “achieved” citizenship.

In focusing on the many differences in racist phenomenon throughout history, it becomes increasingly difficult to make linkages among them and understand each particular project as a manifestation of the State itself. Race has always been endemic to incarceration, but these historical connections are necessary to expose the fallacy of the State.

Mancini demonstrates that although this system was abhorrent, it could have only been stopped through the “action” of wealthy white males, who are not called to action by any moral appeal, but rather by the interest of their own pockets: “It was not until the system lost its profitability to the lessees that it was finally abandoned” (Mancini 226). Mancini absolves these political actors of any accountability to the conditions of those living under the convict-lease system. Thus in Mancini’s model, exploitation, racism and deep seated State oppression can continue to exist — Black and other racialized bodies may not be controlled and policed under the convict-lease system but other forms of domination will certainly rear their heads: “Southern prison reform was essentially a reallocation of forced labor from the private to the public sector — from leasing to chain gangs to prison farms” (Mancini 221).

Mancini gives scant attention to forms of popular resistance. At best he often mentions the work of white “humanitarians”, especially Julia Tutwiler, a teacher in Alabama who made appeals on behalf of the prisoners for reforms. Yet even she never questioned the role of the system itself. His mention of the worker-prisoner solidarity, in addressing the coal miners’ action of liberating the prisoners, is important in that workers supported the prisoners rather than viewed them as enemies responsible for driving down wages and in competition with their jobs. However, this seems to be an isolated incident and is not tied to anything larger. Most problematic in Mancini’s (lack of) discussion of resistance is his total exclusion of the prisoners themselves. Of course, in a system of domination and oppression, there was little room for choice. However, giving the convicts no agency in objecting to their situation is not only disempowering but disregarding and silencing voices of resistance.

If these texts are to serve not only as important historical documentation but also as a call to action, then what is to be said for the message of One Dies, Get Another. Under this rhetoric, Black people and other marginalized groups are supposed to wait for rich white men to restructure the systems of power which dominate them or hope that white women will be called to advocate for their well-being by a sense of morality and sensitivity. Or, in the rarest of incidents, if they were really lucky, fellow laborers may come to liberate(save) them.

Similarly, many of the articles in Part I of States of Confinement subscribe to a reformist notion of change. In Robert Meeropol’s essay, “Testimony”, the focus is again drawn away from the State. Lines are instead drawn, distinguishing innocent from guilty. Much of the prevalent discourse in anti-death penalty organizing rests upon these divisions. This thereby reinforces the criminalization of marginalized sectors of the population. The dominant argument against the death penalty in the country today points to its imperfection when put into practice: “Obviously, there is no room to correct the execution of an innocent person, and because no human system is mistake free, mistakes are inevitable. That means that innocent people will be killed, and most people don’t want this to happen” (Meeropol 5). That is, for many, giving the State the ability and responsibility to take life from its “people” is often not a controversial issue. The fact that many have been “wrongly” murdered by the State is what calls people to action.

Many fighting the death penalty do not object to those who have been “correctly” convicted by the State, believing that they are, in fact, deserving of such heinous punishment. However, the idea that “innocent” members of society are being put to death becomes the galvanizing tool. This argument falls under the very notion of individualism that the State wants its “members” to perpetuate. Rather than understanding the death penalty in structural terms and linking it to historical examples of State sanctioned executions, Meeropol seems to parallel Mancini in isolating one aspect of the criminal justice system from its larger context, thereby reinforcing notions of criminality, “guilt”, and racism.

Snitch, a film recently screened in class, subscribes to the “liberal” language of reform in its critique of the criminal justice system’s use of informers in “catching criminals”. This Frontline special on PBS in many ways sensationalizes this phenomenon, again analyzing it as an entirely separate entity from the criminal justice system or State itself. Although important information highlighting the flaws of the government is presented, no linkages are made nor are any alternatives presented. Instead, the producers intend to leave viewers outraged at the snitches themselves, rather than the system created to turn marginalized people against one another. This is similar to the divisive tactic Meeropol uses in distinguishing the innocent from the guilty. In Snitch, assumptions about crime and the racialized body as criminal are reinforced, and thus the State remains perfectly in tact.

In terms of race, the young white male who is currently serving time for a drug-related incident is victimized. His parents are shocked by the horrors of the criminal justice system and are appauled that their son could be so harshly punished for his “mistake”. They wonder about the “moral fiber of this country”, but make no connections to the systematic warehousing of entire communities of color. After thoroughly exhausting this story, Snitch shifts its focus to an entire black community in the South, one that is plagued by poverty and “naturally”, crime. In displaying the entire town, the notion of criminality as endemic to the black body is perpetuated. Here, the viewers are supposed to distinguish the “good”, hard-working individual blacks from those dubbed “bad” criminals and potential informants. This divisive tactic not only fortifies the use of criminal as a racially coded word, but also exists as a distraction, forcing the viewer to blame individuals for the policies of a racist colonial State. Regardless, it becomes evident that in the minds of the film’s producers, the fear of chaos and anarchy still prevail over the fear of an “imperfect” state, and therefore no radical transformation of society is proposed as an alternative.

Many of the Critical Resistance East workshops I attended put forth reformist propaganda. Craig Gilmore and Ruth Wilson Gilmore, both members of California Prison Moratorium Project, led a workshop entitled “Prisons in Rural America: Overview for Social Change Activists”. Whereas the group opposes the building of new prisons and could therefore be classified as abolitionists, the strategies and tactics suggested by the group suggest a markedly less radical attack. Since the late 1970s, the flight of industrial capital and the collapse of farm and manufacturing economies has left poor rural communities across the United States devastated. Politicians come into these despairing communities, pitching the idea of building a prison as an economic stimulus that will boost development and provide jobs for local people. (Ruthie Gilmore CR East Conference) Enter anti-prison “activists” who often forge alliances with “strange bedfellows” to stop prisons from taking hold in a community. I would place this workshop into the reformist category because discussing local economies is strategic but in no way critiques the State, general assumptions about criminality, or that prisons are sites of torture, brutality and racism.

Many rural communities in the U.S. are predominantly white, and therefore, engaging in struggle with members of these areas often amounts to compromising more radical, anti-racist politics. Consequently, does it become more important to build broader coalitions and work towards a goal that has much more immediacy (a prison being built)? Or, is it more important to recognize that struggling with people with differing and often opposing ideologies to one’s own is counterproductive and reinforces larger systemic hierarchies and domination?

As mentioned in class just this past week, when one is drawn away from his or her particular communal base, does he or she become distanced from that specific ideology? This issue of coalitions is obviously very important when conceptualizing large scale social movements, but how many people ultimately compromise their revolutionary ideology and critiques of the State when joining with the ranks of those who are less confrontational and whose political understanding of society is fundamentally different ? Are these people, in working towards building a larger movement necessarily complicit in reinforcing the co-optation of their insurrectionist beliefs?

On this note, I wanted to address former political prisoner Laura Whitehorn’s workshop entitled “Release Campaign 2001: Working to Free Political Prisoners”. Much of the work of this group as well as other local New York groups in coalition has been fighting around issues of political prisoners’ rights and freedom. It struck me as ironic in that the organizing efforts have used legal and legislative channels to gain popular support for political prisoners, many who were incarcerated by the State for their revolutionary ideology and political actions taken against the government. Therefore, it is interesting that many on the outside, including former political prisoners, engage the State to liberate the “freedom fighters”. I wonder if a general consensus of opinions exists among political prisoners considering that many envision a world without the State or at least understand the need to destroy it. Esparanza Martel, a veteran activist of over thirty years working to free Puerto Rican political prisoners from Lolita Lebron (freed in 1979) to more recent Independentistas (11 freed in 1999), addressed this tension specifically: “Political prisoner work means ‘you’ have to put your politics in your pocket and engage the State” (Martel CR East Conference). Does bartering/pleading with the State for concessions and ultimately clemency disregard or oppose the efforts and fundamental beliefs of those revolutionaries on the inside? Obviously, the case of Assata Shakur’s liberation in November 1979 was an isolated incident, but wasn’t this means of achieving freedom (or exile) much more in line with the politics she espoused ?

Most of the classroom discussions and dynamics also fall under this reformist category. Whereas critiques of the State are often initially given space in conversation, self-imposing dominant voices usually take over the “dialogue”, resulting in only a critique of the State’s most extreme excesses. I think that our class is a microcosm of anti-prison work and other forms of current “activism”. The criminalized sectors of society (people of color/poor people/etc) become objects of study and are therefore vulnerable to “othering” and exotification. Through this reification, we (speaking particularly of white students) further create and reinforce boundaries between ourselves and those policed and incarcerated. Many members of the class fall into the rhetoric of “pop” activism, where proclaiming one’s disgust the criminal justice system becomes fashionable. Perhaps this opinion can be construed as elitist or overly harsh, but the cooptation and reappropriation of leftist propaganda for oneself is an increasing phenomenon, and it only serves the State in its ability to neutralize.

Often times, however, the focus of discussion moves away from race and/or incarceration completely, replacing these central players with discourse around white people, their role in the movement, etc. As a white student speaking about/for other white students, I feel that “we” are trained to be self-interested and expect all dialogue to reflect “our” needs and concerns, thus reinforcing white supremacist hierarchies. In fact, in many cases, the State itself becomes no longer necessary because we (the majority of white students) come to embody and play out the State’s hegemonic forces through our everyday interactions. Hence, self-policing of revolutionary or even abolitionist discourse continues to prevail in the classroom.

How much does focusing on reformist strategies detract from a larger critique of the State, or beyond that a revolutionary struggle in which one seeks to abolish the State itself? Thus, when promoting education/religious/health/etc programs under the prison system, is that “activism” prolonging the system that creates repulsive conditions in the first place? Can one work on smaller struggles while keeping in mind the larger picture? In my opinion, reformists often aid the State in its white supremacist, racist policies and practices. By working within the lines drawn by the government, the State will always have the final say. Reacting to State violence and pleading for changes within that framework allows the State more time to preempt these self-entitled “activists”. What may take twenty years for reformers to achieve can be overturned by the State within minutes. This is exemplified in the struggle to end indeterminate sentencing, a cause championed by many prison reform activists in the 1970s. After years of dedicated work, the State replaced indeterminate sentences with an arguably more draconian measure of mandatory minimums, ensuring a continued expansion of the prison state.

Marc Mauer, certainly not a revolutionary, straddles the collapsible fence between the abolitionist and reformist camps in his work Race to Incarcerate. Although Mauer chooses to attack the issue of incarceration a bit more directly, he often fails to question the State as well. As a general critique, he has trouble making any definitive statements, indicative of his politics and attempts to appease a broader base audience: Much of his book rests upon the assumption that the State itself is necessary, and at best critiqued for its imperfect policies/programs/etc. Chapter 6, “The Limits of the Criminal Justice System” specifically demonstrates this tendency, where he focuses on the distinguishing among victimless and violent crimes, rather than addressing how the State is absolved, as the biggest perpetator of crime.

Mauer certainly attests to flaws within the criminal justice system but does not see them as endemic, and thereby believes that reformist measures are possible. According to Mauer and many other (white) liberals, increasing the number of Blacks and other people of color within government institutions is a powerful vehicle for change: “Within the criminal justice system, black rose through the ranks to become police chiefs, judges, and prison officials — not in proportion to their share of the population, to be sure, but certainly to a greater degree than in the days of all-white justice” (Mauer 122). Many radical and revolutionary theorists would certainly disagree with this statement. Just because a portion of the State’s representatives “looks” like those it racializes and subsequently criminalizes, does not mean that brutality and policing decrease. If anything, State representatives of color often have to overcompensate by acting tougher on people of color in order to demonstrate their allegiance to the government. If the law is steeped in white supremacy and racism, the color of the enforcer’s skin should not matter. It is further interesting to note that the book is entitled Race to Incarcerate, when race-based analysis is missing from most of the text.

Mauer is self-contradictory in his arguments against prisons but for more police in offering alternative models of “community supervision” (Mauer 81). In divorcing the prisons from police, Mauer undermines his entire argument. The police act as street level enforcers of the State, which posits that the prison is a panacea for those “unassimilable” to society. There exists a need for massive policing and surveillance of certain communities, as “black men function today as the main human raw material for the prison-industrial complex” (Davis Convict Lease System to Super-Max 72). Thus, police act as the State’s mules, transporting racialized bodies from one marginalized arena of society to another isolated area. Abolishing prisons while expanding the number of police would only result in a sharp rise in State sanctioned public violence. Although there are no longer made a spectacle, torture and brutality within the prison still exist. Once the prison walls are torn down, State violence moves back into a public arena. Proposing alternative solutions such as restorative justice projects are important, but in my mind, under this government, there is no place for small scale alternatives. The State creates an unbreakable link between justice and punishment. Therefore any alternatives “criminal justice” models under the current system are doomed to replicate the original in some form or another.

Juanita Diaz-Cotto and Julia Sudbury, two academics, led a workshop at the Critical Resistance East conference entitled “Race, Gender and the Prison-Industrial Complex”. In her analysis, Sudbury contextualizes the PIC within a larger global framework. She drew a cycle with several intermediary points, tying all individual parts back to the State. Thus, the PIC is ultimately linked to the State, and is consequently influencing and influenced by other manifestations of the apparatus. Some important points on this cycle are the feminization of poverty, relocation of multinational corporations (MNCs), structural adjustment programs (SAPs), and the racial fear of crime. In her breakdown, Sudbury necessarily links every phenomenon back to the State, thereby differentiating her from other authors and individuals isolating the PIC or some of its excesses as historical or current aberrations. Rebuking the abolitionist argument, Sudbury believes that if the PIC is eradicated, the State will prop something else up in its place.

With this argument in mind, slavery, the convict-lease system, and the current prison industrial complex are all different sites of warehousing those that the State needs for to compose a racialized underclass. Sudbury’s critique was by no means exhaustive, but rare in its calling for a radical transformation of society. Whereas most people at the conference generally agreed that prisons were “bad”, that “we should tear down the walls”, and that there is something fundamentally “wrong” with a country that incarcerates over two million people, most workshops did not give such a detailed and critical assessment of the State. Rather, most people seemed to be comfortable spewing propaganda as a unifying tool without actually conceptualizing what would exist in the place of a prison, or more radically, what an entirely new society would look like? Sudbury too should be critiqued as an academic in her privileged position and access to research channels, legitimate status, etc. Also, as a professor at a private university, how many people are able to access her impressive analyses?

Luana Ross’ text Inventing the Savage could be construed as revolutionary. Ross holds the State accountable for genocidal practices and colonial domination of indigenous peoples. She offers alternative models of life and justice outside of the State, as well as calls for individual acts of resistance against the repressive apparatus. However, Ross’ arguments become problematized in her elitism, discrediting collective acts of insurgency as well as specific groups that espoused insurrectionist principles, eg. AIM (American Indian Movement). She refers to their leaders as “kitschymen of tribal manners” (Ross 63). In criticizing their efforts as nothing more than performative, Ross also discredits AIM’s agency in its actions. In removing her “competition” from the activist landscape, Ross presents her form of resistance as the alternative option, rather than one of many. One could argue that she is complicit with the State’s anti-AIM rhetoric in her overall misrepresentation and to a certain extent negation of their attempts at forging a revolutionary pan-Indian movement.

Much of the book, although it critiques the State for historical colonization, points to the importance of improving programs within women’s prisons: “In general, then, the WCC parenting program is ineffective. Staff demonstrate minimal efforts to adapt the program in ways that could truly strengthen the relationships between imprisoned mothers and their children” (Ross 232). Considering her understanding of the State, statements like these seem almost surprising. Does she expect that women receive humane treatment within the prison ? Obviously, it is essential to educate the public about the brutalities that occur within the prison. In working to lessen the brutality targeted at Native women, does Ross legitimize the State? Instead of linking the current prison system to larger histories of conquest, Ross seems to narrowly tailor her argument to the confines of the prison. Working under this system, Ross reverts back to reformist politics.

BLU magazine puts forth the histories and voices of many self-proclaimed revolutionaries. Whether or not this makes BLU itself a revolutionary form of media is to be questioned. One argument would be to say that anything formally packaged and commodified for mass consumption necessarily coopts the messages of its content and therefore cannot exist as a revolutionary art form. Connected to that is the fact each issue costs $5 which is a hefty sum, that perhaps many a “progressive” middle-class (white) student could pay, but for many working folks, this doesn’t enter the priority list of expenses. This then begs questions asking whom the intended audience is, as well as how the readership is supposed to respond to the content of the articles. Does this magazine display revolutionaries as mere spectacles, thus perpetuating a culture of voyeurism? Are critiques of revolutionaries given, or are their lives (especially those that have since passed) held frozen in time, mythologized as flawless martyrs? How is a younger generation able to learn from the mistakes of its elders if they are not presented in their histories? Is presenting only a positive side disrespecting and doing a larger disservice to these revolutionaries’ ideals? Or do these articles exist to refute/counter the negative propaganda and publicity that surrounds most if not all of these revolutionaries put forth mostly by dominant forms of State funded media?

In arguing that reformist and abolitionist politics recreate the State in ideology and practice, can any activist work under the guise of the State be construed as counterproductive? That is, if one has the larger goal of destroying the State constantly in focus, can working towards smaller targets help galvanize others in the struggle? Or does it necessarily legitimize and reinforce the State’s power and therefore is not conducive to a revolutionary struggle?

Also, after critiquing different revolutionary activists/texts/etc., can “true” revolution be put into practice? Does critiquing get to a point where it reproduces itself as its own ideology and thus completely detach from people and only embrace a theory? Is a revolutionary purist an elitist disconnected from the community? What does it mean to be isolated from the very populations whose lives one is trying to fight for? Can spewing rhetoric without any space for connected action be equated to and just as fatalistic as action without theory or a knowledge base?