Monday, December 31, 2007

Millions in the Slammer: We Must Reverse America's Zeal to Incarcerate

By Nomi Prins, The Women's International Perspective
December 30, 2007

The movie Atonement is a heart-breaking love-story, a historical WWII saga. Without giving away the ending, which must be seen to be adequately felt, it tells the tale of two lovers' lives irrevocably changed by false testimony against one of them -- for a crime he did not commit. Thus, it's also a condemnation of unreliable witnesses, the willingness of people to believe the worst, particularly of those in a lower economic-class, and the havoc that a false accusation and conviction can wreak upon human life. It's a film and message that every judge, jury member, and prosecutor should see and consider before convicting or sentencing anyone accused of a crime.

On December 10th, the United States Supreme Court voted 7-2 to recognize a gross injustice with respect to sentencing guidelines which disproportionately penalize those convicted of crack versus cocaine related crimes. The disparity gives equal punishment to a person caught with 5 grams of crack (a poor person's cocaine) and one caught with 500 grams of coke (a drug dealer's amount). In their validation of a federal district judge's below-guideline sentence for a crack case, the Supreme Court reconfirmed the 2005 Booker ruling that federal judges could have more discretion in levying below-guideline sentences. They did not rule on the validity of the guidelines themselves.

This decision should be viewed as the tip of an iceberg. American prisons teem with non-violent prisoners. Our juries are caught between wanting to rush home for the evening and wanting to appear law-abiding. Members are too quick to bow to the loudest voice amongst them, and not necessarily in The Twelve Angry Men direction. Meanwhile, false convictions, due to witness error, prosecutorial misconduct, inferior defense lawyers or coerced "snitching," continue to destroy multiple generations of lives. They throw the idea of "equal protection under the law" under the same bus as our Declaration of Independence mantra of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

We've simply got to reverse this zeal to incarcerate. The United States has more inmates and a higher incarceration rate than any other nation: more than Russia, South Africa, Mexico, Iran, India, Australia, Brazil and Canada combined. Nearly 1 in every 136 US residents is in jail or prison. That's 2.2 million people, an amount that quadrupled from 1980 to 2005. (There were only 340,000 people incarcerated in 1972.) Adding in figures for those on probation or parole, the number reaches 7.1 million.

Over the next five years, the American prison population is projected to increase three times more quickly than our resident population. The Federal Prison system is growing at 4% per year with 55% of federal prisoners serving time for drug offenses, and only 11% for violent crimes. Women are more likely than men (29% to 19%) to serve drug sentences, dismantling thousands of families. One-third of prisoners are first time, non-violent offenders. Three-quarters are non-violent offenders with no history of violence. More than 200,000 are factually innocent. Whether our citizens are wrongly incarcerated or exaggeratedly so, our prison figures are shameful.

December 19th marked the five-year anniversary of the 2002 exoneration of the five "perpetrators" who were originally caught, indicted, and convicted in the infamous Central Park Jogger case. The five black and Hispanic youths, ages 14 to 16 at the time of their imprisonment, were exonerated only after they had spent between 5 and 13 1/2 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. Their freedom came late, even as it was conclusively confirmed by DNA testing results. At the time of their arrests, they confessed to crimes after prolonged interrogation by police.

The Innocence Project counts 210 people, mostly minorities, who have been exonerated post-conviction by conclusive DNA results (350 people have been exonerated including non-DNA related exonerations). Fifteen of them spent time on death row for crimes they did not commit. The average age at the time of their convictions was 26 years old. The average time served was 12 years. The total number of violent crimes that were committed because the real perpetrators were free while the innocent were imprisoned was 74.

Those total numbers may seem small, as those who favor a harsher penal system would argue, but they only consist of the situations that have been put through years of legal battles to conclude innocence. They don't include cases where there is no money left for the wrongfully convicted to fight for their freedom. They don't include the cases of people who are so beaten down mentally or physically by their imprisonment, they can't fight. They don't include the ones who don't even know what steps to take.

Freedom is a basic human right destroyed by a felony conviction. And in some states, so is the right to vote. Other casualties include the ability to adopt children, find housing or have certain employment. The stigma is permanent. Thus any mistake in a court-room, whether due to a self-serving witness or an ambitious prosecutor, costs someone a part of their life, severing them from the fabric of a justice system designed to protect them. As Martin Luther King said from the Birmingham Jail in 1963, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

Thus, there's more work to do. Providing judges more latitude to reverse jury convictions in which there's no physical evidence, or there exists the potential of fraudulent or self-incriminating testimony coerced under hostile conditions or threats, would be another step in the direction of justice. Reducing guidelines substantially would also help, as would be alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders. Without addressing these issues, our prisons will continue to burst beyond the seams of their present 134% overcrowding rate, our prisons systems will continue to get more funding than our schools, and we will be a sadder nation for it.

Nomi Prins is a senior fellow at the public policy center Demos and author of Other People's Money and Jacked: How "Conservatives" are Picking your Pocket (Whether you voted for them or not).

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Anarchist Birthday Brigade List for January

AM4984 / Follies Road, Drawer K
Dallas, PA 18612 SCI Dallas
January 1, 1956

P.O. Box 12015
Terre Haute, IN 47801
January 6, 1943

39794-066 / Box 3000
White Deer, PA 17887
USP Allenwood
January 14 1937

San Francisco County Jail
850 Bryant St.
San Francisco CA 94103
January 14, 1948

1 Kelley Drive
Coal Township, PA 17866-1021
January 15, 1946

W94197 506-26-04 (low)
CCWF / PO Box 1508
Chowchilla. CA 93610-1508
January 16, 1947

29429-086 / Box 5000
Sheridan, OR 97378
FCI Sheridan
January 31

Two bits of American ALF/ELF news

ELP Information Bulletin (29th of December 2007)

Dear friends

ELP has just received two bits of American news. First off ALF/ELF prisoner, Jonathan Paul, has released his first prison dispatch. Secondly, we have been infored that ALF/ELF prisoner. Chris McIntosh has been moved to a new address:

Firstly here is the dispatch from Jonathan Paul....



Friends, supporters and family,

This is the first of 51 monthly dispatches I will be
writing until I am released in 2011. Although I will
be writing to let everyone know how I am doing while
incarcerated at FCI Phoenix, the purpose of these
dispatches are not going to be about me, but about the
real issues that threaten life as we know it on this

First, I would like to thank everyone who has written
me in the last few weeks. Your letters of support have
overwhelmed me with emotion and have given me strength
and hope. I thank all of you from the bottom of my
heart. From the Anarchist writing group in NY, to my
tribe of friends and to those I have never met, the
time you took to write to me has given me much
strength. I would like to put out special thanks to
my sisters, Caroline and Alexandra, my wonderful Mom
(Mumsie) and my dear sweet wife, Tami. I understand
your love is unconditional and with that I am blessed
to have you as my family. To my wife Tami - who has
been by my side since 1999, your devotion and
commitment to me is unmatched by anyone, ever. Thank
you for helping me pick up the mess left in the wake
of this very difficult time in our life. To those who
are supporting Tami on a daily basis - I thank you
also. All I can to all of you is I would do the same
for you and I am in your debt.

As for life here in prison, I want you all to know I
am okay. Every day that passes is a day closer to my
freedom. I look forward to that day and that day will

I want to say a few words about someone who has
inspired and amazed me over the years, a committed
activist who has been "down" for a very long time.
Moved to activism after experiencing the brutal
poverty and racism experienced as a part of everyday
life, American Indian Movement warrior, Leonard
Peltier, has been in prison for over 30 years and is
serving two life sentences for crimes he did not
commit. Leonard worked to protect his people and the
earth from the powerful energy corporations and the
government they rule. On the Pine Ridge reservation
in the 1970's the traditional Native Americans fought
for their way of life while under attack from the
government sponsored goons, the FBI and the coal and
uranium energy corporations that wanted the Black
Hills for resources. The Native Americans of this
land have been systematically destroyed and oppressed
in a genocidal campaign since the white man first
stepped his ugly foot on North America.

Leonard was accused and convicted of killing two FBI
agents during a shootout on the Pine Ridge reservation
in 1975. Leonard was wrongly convicted in 1977 based
on coerced testimony and suppressed evidence.
Leonard's case is one of the most egregious examples
of prosecutorial and investigative misconduct in the
history of American jurisprudence. I first became
aware of the struggles of the American Indian Movement
when I was in jail for resisting a political grand
jury in 1992-1993. I read In the Spirit of Crazy
Horse by Peter Matthiessen while incarcerated and
couldn't put it down. Leonard’s story gave me
strength during my 6 months resisting the grand jury.
When I was released from jail I was complimented on my
strength and all I could think of was Leonard's

When I turned myself into prison last month, one of
the first books my wife sent me was In the Spirit of
Crazy Horse. I read this book, for the second time,
behind bars and finished it in the first two days. I
consider the struggles of AIM and think about their
fight not only against genocide, but also ecocide.
Our struggles are one struggle.

To my supporters and friends - when you sit down to
write me a letter, please put the paper aside and
write to Leonard Peltier. He has been in prison for
more than 30 years - he has remained strong with
unprecedented integrity. If you support me, please
support him. He has sacrificed his freedom for his
people and for mother earth. Leonard needs to hear
from our "tribe"...the environmental and animal rights
movements for his struggle is our struggle. Show him
and his people that we are all part of one movement -
a movement to stop the genocide, ecocide, and
oppression of all beings. We are one and when we join
into one we may actually move forward and be able to
effect change. By supporting Leonard, you are
supporting me. If Leonard hears from you and it makes
him smile, gives him some hope and strength, and lets
him know that he is not and never will be forgotten,
then you are giving me the strength and strength to
our movements.

Please write to Leonard at the following address:

Leonard Peltier

# 89637-132



P.O. BOX 1000


In solidarity for the earth and animals,

Jonathan Paul


FCI Phoenix

Federal Correctional Institution

37910 N. 45th Ave.

Phoenix, AZ 85086

Jonathan's co-defendants:

Daniel McGowan
FCI Sandstone
Federal Correctional Institution
PO Box 1000
Sandstone, MN 55072

Nathan Block #36359-086
FCI Lompoc
Federal Correctional Institution
3600 Guard Road
Lompoc, CA 93436

Joyanna Zacher #36360-086
FCI Dublin
Federal Correctional Institution
5701 8th St - Camp Parks- Unit E
Dublin, CA 94568

Friends and Family of Jonathan Paul
PMB# 267
2305 Ashland St., Ste. C
Ashland, OR 97520

Secondly, an ELP supporter has informed us that Chris 'Dirt' McIntosh has moved. Chris' new address is:

Chris McIntosh
FCI Fairton
Federal Correctional Institution
PO Box 420
Fairton, nj 08320

According to Chris is expected to be at this address until 2012.

Please send letters of support to Chris, Jonathan Paul, and all the other prisoners. Remind them they are not forgotten.

ELP Support Network


Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network
BM Box 2407

Friday, December 28, 2007

Angry Populace Burning British Surveillance Cameras

By Bruce Sterling December 22, 2007 Link: Speed Cameras.

"This page is probably the highlight of the entire site. To my knowledge this is the largest collection of wrecked Gatsos on the internet, and its growing rapidly. So long as these cameras are robbing motorists of their cash they will continue to be destroyed.

"Five Gatsos have just gone up in Nuneaton. One of them was completely destroyed before it had even gone live. The workmen hadn't even finished installing it...."


(((And check out the chest-pounding vigilante manifesto here... my goodness me.)))

"A Summer of MADness?

"Motorists Against Detection, the vigilante anti-speed camera group have announced a summer of MADness which will see them target for destruction all speed cameras in the UK. It’s now going to be a period of zero tolerance against all speed cameras, said their campaigns director Capt Gatso. (((A remote descendant of General Ludd, I reckon.)))

"The group claims speed cameras are just money-making machines and they have given the authorities long enough to prove their worth. The first camera to fall in the summer campaign is in south east London on the A2 at the Sun in the Sands roundabout on-slip heading northbound towards the Blackwall Tunnel.

"Capt Gatso, the group's campaigns director, (((he's a multitalented guy))) said: "We have completely pulled it out of the ground, it is now lying flat. You can see some of our handiwork posted on

"He added: In many areas the cameras have not saved one life - the statistics for road deaths haven't gone down. In some areas they have actually gone up - in Essex, for instance, which has a high density of cameras there are more people being killed. We are now planning to target any and all cameras until the Government sees sense and rethinks its road safety policy. Before we had speed cameras we had the safest roads in Europe - since their introduction this is no longer true."

The announcement will surprise many in road safety circles since the group has publicly declared it would not attack cameras outside schools or on high streets. But Capt Gatso said: We need to focus attention on what the cameras are about. We’ve said we wouldn’t attack the ones in built up and urban areas but that’s not where most of the cameras are. There are a lot of frustrated people among our members who have seen the number of cameras increase while road safety levels have fallen. Indeed, the only thing the cameras have done successfully is to reduce the number of traffic officers patrolling our roads and lose a lot of decent people their driving licences and their livelihoods. (((Giving them lots of spare time to wander around with big jugs of petrol and huge flammable tires to be flung round the necks of videocams.)))

"MAD is the UK’s only direct action anti-speed camera group and it’s been going since summer 2000. (((!))) In that time they have taken out just over 1,000 cameras. (((Can such things be?))) Their membership who are normally law-abiding people - vary in numbers but there is a hard core of around 200 (((I'd be guessing this figure means "20," but wow, for a saboteur gang, that's a lot))) people throughout the UK who use Internet chat forums, encrypted email and pay as you go phones to keep in touch and plan campaigns.

"The group says it has perfected a new and quick way of destroying speed cameras which will enable them to destroy a roadside camera in just a few seconds...".

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Remembering one of our own

With us celebrating friends and familes, take a moment
to remember one of own who was born today but died in

Celedonio Garcia Casino (“Celes”) was born in
Barcelona in December 25th, 1922. When not yet 17 he
was arrested on June 24th, 1939 and accused of being
associated with a Young Libertarian group, having
illegal propaganda and possession of guns. He was
paroled on November 23rd, 1945 and immediately joined
the Young Libertarians of Carmelo. He attended some
of the sessions of the second congress of the
Federation of Young Libertarians of Iberia (FIJL),
which took place in Toulouse in March 1946. He
belonged to the Libertarian Resistance Movement (MLR),
an organization of armed struggle against the
Francoists, which had a short life. In 1947, he
attended the second congress of the Libertarian
Movement in Exile, which was also he in Toulouse.
He died on August 26th, 1949 in a Guardia Civil ambush
on the French frontier. He was buried in the cemetery
of Espolla (Gerona). He was 27.

New political prisoners of Black liberation in Los Angeles

Three leading members of the Black Riders Liberation Party, General
T.A.C.O. (Taking All Capitalists Out) and Comrades Stress and Aryana
Shakur, have been indicted and arrested on charges of a conspiracy to
possess automatic weapons and attempted possession of a machine gun,
in a b.s. set-up and entrapment case. They are being held on bail of
half a million (Aryana) to a million dollars apiece (T.A.C.O. and
Stress). Despite the heavy bail and serious charges (the D.A. is
alleging the Riders were going to enter and shoot up various LAPD
stations, but has brought no such charges, only using the
unsubstantiated allegation as the basis for justifying the raids,
undercover cops and surveillance directed at the BRLP), neither the
D.A. nor the L.A.P.D. has made any public statements about the case.
This reflects the weak and baseless nature of their case, but also
their attempt to disrupt the Party by locking up its leaders,
attempting to bury them in prison without arousing a public clamor or
base of support for the BRLP. It is vital that we present a strong,
community based opposition to these nefarious efforts by the LAPD and
District Attorney's office to criminalize Black youth and
revolutionary politics.

The D.A. sought and obtained a gang enhancement on the charges, even
though the undercover officer testified under cross-examination that
the BRLP in fact claimed no territory, bore no identifying gang-style
tattoos, and in fact resembled the Black Panther Party! The cop
acknowledged under oath that the Black Riders were proud Africans,
advocates of Black unity, and avowed communists! This testimony makes
clear the political nature of the charges and the whole case.
Although the BRLP have been the targets of police harassment and
set-ups for their entire ten-year history, the recent series of busts
and high-power raids have taken place in the context of the BRLP
popularizing the case of the San Francisco Eight (for Black Panther
Party members and associates) at a street level in Los Angeles, as
well as leading Black resistance and building Black-Brown unity
against the racist Minutemen. Combined with the effectiveness of
their "Watch-a-Pig" programs and their peace-making efforts and
political education with Bloods and Crips street organization
members, these successes brought the BRLP under the cross-hairs of
the highly-political repressive apparatus of the LAPD. Based on a
LAPD affidavit and warrant, LA and San Bernardino sheriffs raided a
home in August out in Highland CA -- the raid, which involved a huge
number of deputies as well as federal agents, armored personnel
carriers, battering rams, now appears to have been based on the same
unsubstantiated allegations of a BRLP "plot" to shoot up LA police

We cannot allow the repressive forces of the state to carry out their
plan to lock up the leaders of the BRLP and roll up the party! Come
to court for the next appearance of the Black Riders Three on Friday,
December 28, 8:30 AM at the Los Angeles Criminal Courts Building, 210
W. Temple Street in downtown Los Angeles. The BRLP also needs
additional legal assistance, funds to help with court costs and other
defense efforts, and other forms of community support. Another
planning meeting will be held shortly, and outreach will be taking
place at Kwanza events all next week leading up to the court
appearance and beyond. Contact the BRLP at PO Box 8297, Los Angeles
CA 90008.


By Mumia Abu-Jamal

[col. writ. 12/18/07] (c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal

For much of the US populace, the very idea of a Black president is one so new, so novel, that it forces many people to think of it as if it is barely possible; as if it is the stuff of fiction, not fact.

Fiction has indeed been the realm of this idea, as in movies, and television series, actors have played the part, but that, of course, is on TV.

Of course, time will tell if that is more than imagination, but for millions of people who share this vast land space we call North America, the idea is neither new nor ground-breaking.

That's because there are some 100 million people living in Mexico, and that country had a Black president (albeit briefly) --some 173 years ago.

It was during their war for independence from Spain, when a warrior emerged, a Black Indian named Vicente Guerrero.

In his first battle, he was commissioned a Captain. As the independence war raged on, many of the leading revolutionaries were either killed, or captured. Guerrero fought on, leading some 2,000 men into the Sierra Madre mountains to continue the fight.

By 1821, the Mexicans were prevailing over the Spanish, and Guerrero was hailed as an incorruptible independence fighter. In 1829 he became President of Mexico, and as scholar William Loren Katz writes in his 1986 book, Black Indians:

He began a program of far-reaching reforms, abolishing the death penalty, and starting construction of schools and libraries for the poor. He ended slavery in Mexico. Yet, because of his skin color, lack of education, and country manner, he was held in contempt by the upper classes in Mexico City. This president who had, according to {US. historian M.H.} Bancroft, " a gentleness and magnetism that inspired love among his adherents." was still " a triple-blooded outsider." Black historian J. A. Rogers summarized Guerrero's striking accomplishments by calling him 'the George Washington and Abraham Lincoln of Mexico."[p.48]

Guerrero, who in his youth was an illiterate mule driver, once bitten by the bug of Mexican independence, rose to the highest office in the land.

He learned to read when he was about 40, and helped craft the Mexican Constitution, of which he wrote the following provision: "All inhabitants whether white, African, or Indian, are qualified to hold office." He wrote this in 1824, over 30 years before the US Supreme Court's infamous Dred Scott decision, which announced, emphatically, that"...a black man has no rights that a white man is bound to respect." and that black people weren't, and could never be citizens of the United States.

In that era of revolution and social transformation, a Black man became president of the second largest country in North America.

Today, 178 years later, we still wonder if such a thing is possible.

What does that say about the United States?

--(c) '07 maj

{Source: Katz, William Loren, Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage (New York: Simon Pulse, 1986 [Simon Pulse/pb ed.,2005], p.42}

Reflections on December 7th

By Daniel McGowan

If I could, I would wear black today, not because it’s my preferred color (which it is), but because today is a day I mourn. Not in a traditional sense of mourning a person’s death but a day to mourn the end of one part of my life the day I said goodbye to a part of my life no one in my life knew about. Some people order their lives into ‘before September 11’ and ‘after September 11’ – for me, it’s before and after December 7, 2005, the day of my arrest.

Sometime around 4:15 on that day, my past caught up with me in the form of 3 federal agents standing in the entrance of my cubicle at my job. I was not quite sure why they were there but I had a feeling it was going to be bad. Although I sensed nothing that day, I had experienced anxiety in weeks prior about (then) hypothetical matters like “Who would do x if I was gone?” or “Do I really need all the Jeff Luers campaign materials, original master VHS tapes, et cetera ?” I chalked it up to anxiety – the holidays were coming up and I was woefully behind on getting gifts for my family; plus the first semester midterms in my graduate acupuncture program were approaching. The perfunctory “Are you Daniel McGowan?” along with the macho and unnecessary declaration, “You’re going back to Oregon!” snapped me out of my stupor. The office holiday cards were dropped, I was cuffed and led outside into the frigid air without a coat into an unmarked car. It hit me at that point that my life would not be the same. The feeling of my secret past colliding with my present and all I could do was slip into survival mode. My inner voice screamed, “be quiet! Don’t say a word to them! You know people care about you and they will have your back, hire a lawyer and you’ll fight this.” I am grateful to all the lawyers and legal workers who put on legal trainings as it really came in handy then.

Here I am, two years later sitting in federal prison; if all goes well, I’ll be out in about 5 years. When December was approaching, I wondered what this date means to me and how I would feel when it came. Last year, I was insulated from it all as my community held a rally for me at Foley Square in downtown Manhattan, near the FBI headquarters I was brought to and the jail I was housed in for a week. So, Dec 7th is here and it has brought up a number of feelings: frustration, anger, fear, nostalgia, loneliness and hope. I fear that as time goes on, people will move on and focus their attention elsewhere; that by being out of sight in prison, that I’ll be out of mind. I’m scared that people will forget what it is we were (and are) fighting for – that this ‘Green Scare’ is not just about punishing us but about preventing them from advocating for a culture that doesn’t destroy every ecosystem and see our planet as something to profit from. We are here as trophies for the government and symbols to you that scream: “mess with us and our god of private property and we will crush you. Talk about stopping our plans and we will label you a terrorist and when we catch you, we’ll offer some of you reduced sentences for selling your friends out.” In the absence of information, it’s hard at times to figure out whether or not this strategy the government uses is having an impact or whether it’s backfired (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun!).

Recently, I read an excellent book by social justice activist, former editor of Onward!, (and someone who I met last year), Dan Berger called Outlaws of America. It focuses on the Weather Underground and their actions against US imperialism in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Dan argues that the WU’s significance is not in the property bombings of US government buildings and corporations – albeit spectacular and daring actions. The significance and legacy to today’s social and ecological resistance movements is the politics and beliefs behind the actions, not the details of the bombings, how each site was chosen or the devices themselves. As I read this, it raised a familiar frustration in me – that no matter how hard I tried, the things people remembered about the ELF wasn’t the rationale behind the actions but were, the rumors mentioned in court, who slept with whom, how much damage the fires did and other trivial matters. There is a problem with the dominant idea of the ELF and our actions as ‘activists who burn things’ or as the government labels us, ‘arsonists’ or ‘terrorists.’

For me, the tactics were not the driving force in my actions but were the means to an end. In fact, the use of fire caused me great anxiety and I felt it was generally used with little strategy as we were trapped in a self-created race to be more “effective.” This led to strategy and ideas taking a back seat to the ‘why,’ which is infinitely more important to any discussion of what we were trying to do. I should say that I speak for myself on this issue and my opinions may not be similar to any of my co-defendants – cooperating informants or otherwise. My point then is that similar to the Weather Underground, the significance of the ELF actions was not the arsons, but the beliefs behind them.

I suppose in reflecting on actions I have taken and how they were perceived, it made me think I need to write more about them. If all people took from the actions were the sensational aspects – then we have failed. It is our rationale for engaging in such extreme action that matters, not the tactics. People have asked me about the actions and I’ve been very cautious about saying things for a variety of reasons. One – I don’t want what I say to be taken out of context. I’ve been screwed by the government using an interview I gave to Amy Goodman on "Democracy Now!" as justification for opposing motions for me to stay out on bail longer. Secondly, I have my own perspectives on what went down and I am neither ELF cheerleader nor detractor. I will not be used by others to criticize people who choose the same tactics I chose no matter what my personal opinions may be. Unlike the critics, I know where they are coming from and I can empathize. Nor do I want my words to be used by people whose main goal seems to be to encourage young people to do actions they will support but lack the courage to do themselves. I’ll do my best to avoid these dynamics and instead try to explain the complexities of one’s motivations and where we were coming from, to the extent I can.

December 7th reminds me that this fight is not over. On the legal front, many of us are in prison with long sentences to do plus years of probation and multi-million dollar restitutions. One person is going to trial in early February 2008 in a related ‘Operation Backfire’ case (see The government has convened a grand jury in Minneapolis regarding ELF actions and Eric McDavid is facing 5-20 years in prison after losing his September trial. US environmentalist Tre Arrow is fighting extradition from Canada for very similar charges I faced although he has proclaimed his innocence. Jeff ‘Free’ Luers gets re-sentenced soon as well. Please take some time to educate yourself about the cases and extend your solidarity to these people and others. Perhaps more importantly, this government and its corporate friends continue to destroy ecosystems here and abroad in pursuit of unfettered profits. People may be opening their eyes to the perils of global climate change but much effort is needed to fight for real alternatives – not fake ones like bio-fuels, nuclear power, or straight-up “green capitalism.”

*Many of these ideas will be expanded on in a zine I am writing-- hopefully out within the next year *

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Descendants of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse break away from US

December 20, 2007

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States, leaders said Wednesday.

"We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us," long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means told a handful of reporters and a delegation from the Bolivian embassy, gathered in a church in a run-down neighborhood of Washington for a news conference.

A delegation of Lakota leaders delivered a message to the State Department on Monday, announcing they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the United States, some of them more than 150 years old.

They also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies, and will continue on their diplomatic mission and take it overseas in the coming weeks and months, they told the news conference.

Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

The new country would issue its own passports and driving licences, and living there would be tax-free -- provided residents renounce their US citizenship, Means said.

The treaties signed with the United States are merely "worthless words on worthless paper," the Lakota freedom activists say on their website.

The treaties have been "repeatedly violated in order to steal our culture, our land and our ability to maintain our way of life," the reborn freedom movement says.

Withdrawing from the treaties was entirely legal, Means said.

"This is according to the laws of the United States, specifically article six of the constitution," which states that treaties are the supreme law of the land, he said.

"It is also within the laws on treaties passed at the Vienna Convention and put into effect by the US and the rest of the international community in 1980. We are legally within our rights to be free and independent," said Means.

The Lakota relaunched their journey to freedom in 1974, when they drafted a declaration of continuing independence -- an overt play on the title of the United States' Declaration of Independence from England.

Thirty-three years have elapsed since then because "it takes critical mass to combat colonialism and we wanted to make sure that all our ducks were in a row," Means said.

One duck moved into place in September, when the United Nations adopted a non-binding declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples -- despite opposition from the United States, which said it clashed with its own laws.

"We have 33 treaties with the United States that they have not lived by. They continue to take our land, our water, our children," Phyllis Young, who helped organize the first international conference on indigenous rights in Geneva in 1977, told the news conference.

The US "annexation" of native American land has resulted in once proud tribes such as the Lakota becoming mere "facsimiles of white people," said Means.

Oppression at the hands of the US government has taken its toll on the Lakota, whose men have one of the shortest life expectancies -- less than 44 years -- in the world.

Lakota teen suicides are 150 percent above the norm for the United States; infant mortality is five times higher than the US average; and unemployment is rife, according to the Lakota freedom movement's website.

"Our people want to live, not just survive or crawl and be mascots," said Young.

"We are not trying to embarrass the United States. We are here to continue the struggle for our children and grandchildren," she said, predicting that the battle would not be won in her lifetime.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Remembering William Rodgers

by Daniel McGowan on December 21st, 2007

This is a eulogy, two years too late, for my friend William Rodgers — known to friends, family and the movement as Avalon. Avalon took his life on December 21, 2005. This was just two weeks after our arrests in the Operation Backfire case and, by no coincidence, the Winter Solstice. In his absence, much has been made of his role in our Earth Liberation Front (ELF) group. Not surprisingly, the prosecutors in the case have painted him as a leader who recruited young, impressionable activists to do his bidding. This is not only false, but also insulting to the younger people in the case, who did get involved on their own. Snitches in the case have used his inability to respond to dramatically maximize his role in certain actions in an attempt to lesson the consequences of their own actions. One person went so far as submitting to the judge video evidence and testimony that has not been made public because it was deemed too personal for public consumption. Others on the margins have chosen to focus on Avalon’s flaws by spreading rumors or even by talking to the private investigators hired by the snitches.

I first met Avalon in the months leading up to the World Trade Organization (WTO) protests in Seattle in late 1999 and developed a friendship with him instantly. His sly grin, easygoing and warm personality and humility impressed me, and I was happy to see that this quiet, older enviro was up to more than attending the EF! gatherings at which I first saw him. His rationality and quick thinking prevented disaster for our affinity group during the Seattle protests (I’m proud to say we took part in the Black Bloc). I distinctly remember getting ready to leave Seattle, and hearing his suggestion to “keep in touch.” Well, we did keep in touch. Much has been said of what we did in the years after that, but that will be told elsewhere.

Like so many of us, Avalon suffered from depression and despair, fueled by the realization of what our species is doing the planet. Living underground, juggling details of planned actions and double lives, and eschewing many of the things that our movement allies had access to is stressful. I know because I did it, and yet Avalon’s experience in that underground life dwarfed mine. I can’t help but think that this isolation and despair were major factors in his suicide. We moved on, and yet the cruel hand of the past — in the form of old friends and a Joint Terrorism Task Force — pulled us all back into our secret histories. Maybe for Avalon, it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. We will never know for sure. I remember seeing his name in a list of arrestees in a New York Times article while sitting in a New York City jail. It gave me some hope — I thought we could all fight these charges together, as a group of people who had lifelong solidarity with each other, as people who honored the oaths we made to each other. Sometimes, I lie there at night asking the questions I try to avoid: Could Avalon have stemmed the tide of informing? Would he have been the person who, having known some of the snitches for much longer than I, could really reach them — beyond their fears and to their core? I’ll never know these answers, but I do know this: Avalon would rather die and make a jailbreak than cooperate in any way with this immoral and unjust process.

The prosecution, knowing only hierarchy and bureaucracy, cannot conceive of a group without a leader, a pecking order and strict rules. Without Bill around to protest and because he was older than all of us, they found their puppet master. Suddenly the so-called “book club” was his invention and was deemed a “training school for arson.” Meyerhoff and Gerlach, grand quislings that they are, had the audacity to say with a straight face that Avalon pretty much did the Vail arson all by himself. Just reading about the ski resort’s geography, the large amount of fuel that was used and Bill’s slight stature made me laugh bitterly to myself about these lies. On some level, it’s the way the game is played for snitches. The government tells them what it wants to hear, and the cooperating witnesses jump through hoops like the well-trained pets that they are. To be clear, everyone involved with these actions and the “book club” are people like you and me. We have skills — some of us excel at one thing, others of us at another. However, there was no formalized hierarchy as suggested by the prosecution, and William Rodgers was no kingpin or leader of the ELF.

Avalon, like all of us, had his flaws and made mistakes, both personally and politically, in the way he lived his life and how he resisted environmental destruction. Our group attempted to deal with one of these areas — an accusation of sexual misconduct — and I’m sorry to say that we failed, due to not being equipped with the right ideas and strategies. It is all too easy to assuage our guilt about our own shortcomings by attacking others. I think it’s a better idea to focus on what we are doing in this world, rather than criticizing people who are not here to defend themselves. I thought of this often in court when I looked at my family, seeing the pained looks on their faces as they listened to attacks on me. Bill’s family and partner have had to endure a lot of grief in the last two years.

So when I think of Avalon, I don’t believe the hype spewed by aggressive and narrow prosecutors. No, I think of a soft-spoken, caring person who would give you the shirt off his back or carry a snake off the road; an avid, even obsessive recycler; someone who supported indigenous struggles and really got the connection between Earth-based cultures and ecological action. I knew Avalon was involved in the struggle against the Mount Graham telescope, but only after his death did I find out that he and his infoshop, The Catalyst, supported the campaign to protect the San Francisco Peaks (see Earth First! Journal May-June 2005).

When snitch Jacob Ferguson recorded a conversation with me through a wiretap in 2005, I asked him how Avalon was. He lied to me (big shock!) and told me that Avalon was happy and lived in an intentional community in Canada. I remember being really happy for him and hoping to run into him again one day, but for different reasons than why we last saw each other.

Avalon has been gone two years now, and yet it still isn’t real to me. Since I haven’t seen him for years, I can’t really take it all in without getting upset. Yes, one of our own betrayed us, and that action caused the death of my friend. How do I reconcile the truth? I don’t have a good answer except to say that we need to talk about these things and confront death in our movement. We need to grieve for our friends. Most of all, we cannot forget. This is my contribution to never forgetting William Rodgers: radical environmentalist, ELF activist, cave lover and sweet, kind man. I miss you, buddy.

–As printed in the Earth First! Journal, November-December 2007 issue.

Daniel McGowan is an environmental and social justice activist. He was charged in federal court on many counts of arson, property destruction and conspiracy, all relating to two incidents in Oregon in 2001. Until recently, Daniel was offered two choices by the government: cooperate by informing on other people, or go to trial and face life in prison. His only real option was to plead not guilty until he could reach a resolution of the case that permitted him to honor his principles. As a result of months of litigation and negotiation, Daniel was able to admit to his role in these two incidents, while not implicating or identifying any other people who might have been involved. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison on June 4, 2007 and began serving his time on July 2, 2007.

Friday, December 21, 2007

No Change in Harold Taylor's Bail

Judge Philip Moscone said that "while it is a violation of bail
conditions," that Harold Taylor's bail will remain the same at this
point. In front of a large turnout of supporters in the courtroom, it
was determined that issues relating to a recent arrest in Florida
would be revisited in January after it is determined what Florida
courts will do. Harold Taylor is scheduled to appear again on
January 17th on that matter in Florida. The prosecution in the SF 8
case had filed a motion to revoke bail or increase it from $350,000
to $7 million because of the recent Florida arrest. Judge Moscone
ruled against that request.

The judge was clear that he does not consider these issues to effect
public safety or Harold Taylor's intentions to appear in hearings for
the San Francisco 8.

The next hearing for all of the SF 8 is on Thursday, January 10th at
9:30 am in Department 23, 850 Bryant Street. Several motions to
dismiss one of the counts will be heard. The brothers will be also be
entering their Not-Guilty pleas


Date: 12/19/2007 1:37:29 PM

I like to send out the URL to the Stanford Prison Experiment from
time to time, because we have a constant flow of "new folks" entering
the prison reform/human rights arena. I think it's very important
for everyone to see this slideshow, which documents what happens to
the characters of both the incarcerated and the incarcerators within
a prison setting.

If you have never viewed the account of this remarkable experiment,
it will amaze you. It's at

It's also worth a re-viewing, by those who have already seen it. It
now contains a section, documenting the parallels between the
Stanford Prison Experiment and the events at Abu Ghraib.

The Stanford Prison Experiment is one of the most astonishing
psychological studies of all time!

Peace and Blessings,
Linda Tant Miller

San Francisco 8: A Case of Injustice and Torture

Interview with San Francisco 8 Defendant Richard Brown San Francisco 8: A Case of Injustice and Torture

Eight former Black Panthers were arrested January 23, 2007 and charged with murder and conspiracy related to the killing 35 years ago of a San Francisco police officer. This is not the first time these same charges have been brought against some of these defendants. Similar charges were thrown out in the 1970s after it was revealed that police used torture to extract confessions in New Orleans in 1973. It appears that the government plans to introduce the same torture-tainted evidence in 2007.
This case comes at a time when the government is openly justifying the use of torture and attacking fundamental rights. Bill Goodman, Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said, “The case against these men was built on torture and serves to remind us that the U.S. government, which recently has engaged in such horrific forms of torture and abuse at places like Bagram, Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, has a history of torture and abuse in this country as well, particularly against African Americans.”
The Black Panther Party was a powerful revolutionary force in the 1960s and early 1970s. They stood up to police terror, they popularized the Red Book of Mao Tsetung, they put revolution on the political map in the U.S. in a way that had never really been done before. They drew support from millions, both among the basic masses and from more privileged sections of society. For this the government viciously attacked them, and they have never forgiven or forgotten this, attacking former Panthers as well as trying to erase their revolutionary legacy. And this is especially true in the current situation with the many crimes of the system intensifying, including importantly the oppression of Black people, and with many people of all nationalities looking to resist and seeking answers to big questions.
The case has begun to generate significant support, although much more is needed. Rappers Mos Def and Talib Kweli have appeared at programs for the SF8 that have drawn hundreds of people from the community, including many youth. Ozomatli had SF8 members introduce their four San Francisco concerts and their L.A. dates as well. Hearings for the 8 have been packed with supporters. Recently the City of Berkeley passed a resolution calling for all charges to be dropped. Two Nobel Laureates, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mairead Corrigan Maguire, have initiated a petition signed by human rights and religious groups demanding that the charges be dropped on the SF8, that the government launch an investigation of the allegations of torture, and that Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim be freed immediately.
The San Francisco 8 are Richard Brown, Richard O’Neal, Ray Boudreaux, Hank Jones, Francisco Torres, Harold Taylor, Herman Bell, and Jalil Muntaqim. Bell and Muntaqim have been held as political prisoners for over 30 years in New York State prisons.
Revolution sat down with Richard Brown, one of the San Francisco 8, to talk about the case and its importance. Richard Brown has worked for the last 25 years as a community organizer with the Ella Hill Hutch Center in the Western Addition in San Francisco.
Revolution: Could you tell me about the charges against you and the other defendants who make up the San Francisco 8?
Richard Brown: We’re being charged with the 1971 Ingleside Station attack where a police sergeant by the name of John Young was murdered. Because we were Panthers we are being charged with that murder and conspiracy to murder police officers and commit certain crimes. This was brought up for the first time in the 1970s. When the case was taken to court, the three people charged, John Bowman, Ruben Scott, and Harold Taylor all stated that they were tortured and forced to confess. Because of that and the fact that they were questioned without any attorney being present in New Orleans, the court threw the so-called “admission of guilt” and the case out. In January of this year, 2007, they rearrested eight of us for the same crime and the same charges and as far as we can tell from what we’ve heard in court they plan to use the same “confessions” that were ruled illegal in the first place. If you go according to what they said in court, what they’ve presented so far, they don’t even have any new evidence. We are being recharged with the same thing again which was already stated as illegal back in the 1970s.
Since then I might add that a lot of things have changed because of the Patriot Act and Homeland Security and the environment of the country period where they feel that they can come back and use what they couldn’t use before because it’s not so clear whether [the torture] is illegal or not.
Revolution: Could you give people a picture of the torture that took place in New Orleans?
Richard Brown: Three members of the Black Panther Party—John Bowman, who was a San Francisco Panther; Ruben Scott, who was a San Francisco Panther; and Harold Taylor, who was a Panther from Los Angeles—were arrested in New Orleans in 1973. Actually they arrested 13 Panthers. They were separated and for days they were tortured. They were stripped naked, handcuffed, isolated, repeatedly beaten, denied sleep, food, and all that type of stuff. They were beaten around the stomach and back. They used slapjacks on their shins and legs, where torturers are trained to beat people so the wounds don’t show. They used what is called waterboarding now. Technically what they were using were hot and wet blankets. Also plastic bags were placed over their heads until the point where they would pass out. They used electrical cattle prods to their private parts and to their anus. Their treatment was so inhumane it’s hard to even describe, let alone endure. And my friends who had to endure this, I see how this has affected them. How they look when they describe it. It’s horrifying and it’s hard for me to even talk about it, honestly and truly. It’s horrible for human beings to treat someone else like that for days.
They tortured them like that for three or four days.
Revolution: There were two San Francisco police who participated in the torture in New Orleans. What’s their role?
Richard Brown: Ed Erdelatz and Frank McCoy were San Francisco homicide detectives and had run-ins with the Panthers long before the Ingleside case. In 1973, they were in New Orleans. Their part was that they never actually touched them. They would come into the room along with the detectives from New York, Los Angeles, and the FBI. They would come in and ask questions and if the questions weren’t answered to their satisfaction they would leave the room and the New Orleans Police Department would come in and they would start the torture. Actually the torture started before the questioning even started. They arrested them, took them in, stripped them, isolated them and just started beating them. They just enjoyed torture. They would do a job on them and then leave and tell them ‘we’ll be back.’ Then the detectives would come in and start asking questions. First they would try and tell the detectives that they were being tortured and then the detectives would get up and walk out of the room and the New Orleans police would come in. This went on for days. They would keep them up at night, not allow them to sleep. Wake them up every hour or so. Throw water-soaked blankets on them, scalding hot water so they couldn’t breathe. This is the treatment that they had to endure for days.
Ed Erdelatz and Frank McCoy were the ones who in 2005 came knocking on people’s doors during the grand jury investigation asking, ‘Do you remember me?’ and giving us subpoenas to appear before a grand jury. They were brought out of retirement and deputized by Homeland Security in order to do these cold case things [opening previously closed cases involving the Black Panther Party—Revolution] that were going on nationwide.
Revolution: What happened with the grand jury investigation?
Richard Brown: When they first came and wanted to talk to us we were told that they wanted to question us about white people that we knew. But once they started asking questions it was clear that they were interested in Black people’s role in the Ingleside attack. They had made up their minds already that the Panthers had to be responsible for this. It was a situation where they were trying to make the evidence fit the theory, and they’ve been trying to do that ever since then.
In 2005 we all refused to testify before the grand jury. Five of us were held in contempt of court: Hank Jones, Ray Boudreaux, Harold Taylor, John Bowman (now deceased) and myself. We were held in contempt of court and locked up until the Grand Jury expired. We were released on October 31, 2005.
Revolution: How long were you locked up for?
Richard Brown: I was locked up for about a month. People were locked up at different times depending on when we were called in front of the grand jury for questioning. I think Hank Jones was first and he was in the longest. John Bowman was the last and he was only locked up for eight or nine days. I think Hank did something like two and a half months. We weren’t guilty of any crime. We were just standing on the fifth amendment and because of that I was taken away from my family, locked up. I was transferred all around. Nobody actually knew where I was, including my attorney. It would take days for them to find me and then when they did find me, I’d be transferred to another place. They just messed with us as usual to put pressure on us or to just be vindictive, whatever motive people like that have, that’s what they were doing. I’m sure they always have some motive in their twisted mind about why they torture people or why they lie about people or why they kill people, why they lock people up for life knowing that they are innocent. They can obviously justify that shit in their mind because they do it and they’re still here and they continue to do it. I find it difficult to see and understand though.
Revolution: Could you speak a little more about why you decided not to cooperate with the grand jury?
Richard Brown: First of all because they’re trying to convict me of something that I am innocent of. The grand jury is trying to go along with this story that was concocted in New Orleans by the conglomerate of agencies that were there, putting together a case involving torture that was targeting me and saying that I was a part of it. And now you ask me to go before a grand jury and participate and say something so that it can be used against me. I know that as a Black man in America and as a Panther I have not been treated fairly by the judicial system in the courts. Every time I have gone to court I have never seen justice, so why would I? And we’re talking about a murder, a homicide, and they want me to cooperate with them? And I know from the facts that all this is bullshit; they are trying to convict me of something that I am not guilty of.
Even if you could get past all that, these same people, Ed Erdelatz and Frank McCoy, the police departments, and the FBI and the rest of them tortured my friends. It’s pitiful. I truly will never get over that, what they’ve done to my friends. I will never, ever cooperate with people like that. I will have no respect for them. I don’t like them. I think they should be arrested and held accountable for the crimes that they committed back then. Until that happens they can forget about me even having a decent word to say to them. I don’t want to have nothing to do with them and I’m sure the rest of the people share that. I will never cooperate with them, I didn’t then and I never will.
The things that were done to the Black Panther Party by the Cointelpro and by the local police departments all across the country and the way I was treated every time I went to court, I have nothing but disdain for them. Even if there was something to cooperate about they couldn’t get it from me.
Revolution: You started talking about Cointelpro and we were talking about it a little earlier. A big part of the background to this case is Cointelpro, the Counterintelligence Program by the FBI that targeted the Black Panther Party. Could you speak to what Cointelpro was and what it did, both any personal experience you have as well as its overall role?
Richard Brown: What they did overall was destroy the Black Panther Party as it was. Their job as the Counterintelligence Program was to destroy the movement period, all of the progressive political movements that were going on at that time. If I’m not mistaken at that time [FBI Director J. Edgar] Hoover declared the Black Panther Party the greatest threat to the nation’s internal security. And we in the Panthers, even at the time he was saying that, had no idea, I actually don’t even remember him saying that. I was too busy as a Panther trying to do something to serve my community. I was a young Black man in a community of Black people. And Black people at that time were in a world of trouble—actually today we still are. We had nothing in the world going for us. The government didn’t represent us at all. They weren’t doing anything for us. The only thing we saw every day was repression from the police department as an occupying force in our community, trying to keep us in line or intimidate us from doing anything against the other parts of society. We were the lowest on the totem pole. We didn’t have decent housing, we didn’t have decent food, we didn’t have decent schools, we didn’t have decent jobs—we had no jobs. So when the Black Panther Party came along and said we can do all this stuff for ourselves, people like me and hundreds of other young people joined the Party in order to serve the Black community and to help the people. We were interested in feeding children, getting people to organize, to unify, to bring about the vote so that we could control the politicians in our community, to putting together schools for our children, clinics—all of the things that the government had failed to do for us we were willing to do for ourselves and we were beginning to do that.
For this the counterintelligence program deemed us the number one threat in the United States and focused on us with an intensity that I to this very day find astonishing. I didn’t believe it at all back then. None of us believed that the FBI and the Counterintelligence Program and all of these agencies were spending all this money, going through all these tricks, doing everything they could to undermine our efforts to help our people—framing us, using up all our resources by taking us to jail every other day, falsifying documents and evidence to send people to jail for life to get rid of them and destroy our leadership, torture and even murder. It has been proven that they were guilty of all of that. We honestly did not know that they would do something like this, that they were doing it. I’m still finding out things that the Cointelpro did today.
In the 1970s the Senate’s Church Committee investigation found that the Counterintelligence Program was illegal and unconstitutional. A couple of agents were even found guilty of some charge but they never did any time because their sentence was commuted by the president. He decided that we should forgive and forget. But here I am, almost 40 years later, not forgiven and forgotten—and I’m not even guilty! These people were guilty of those crimes.
Revolution: This case goes back more than 35 years. Why do you think they are bringing it back now?
Richard Brown: Number one, they want to legalize torture. They felt this would work for them because we are all Black people and it’s easier to find Black people guilty than it is to find white people or anyone else guilty. It’s a ready-made case for them. They thought they would be able to turn the public against us because a police officer lost his life, especially with eight Black men accused. They want to see if this case will fly because of the new laws and the doing away with of certain constitutional rights that we used to have. They call it ‘relaxation,’ that they’ve temporarily taken them, but we don’t have them any more. They feel that if they can do it with us and get away with it then they can push it forward and take it nationwide to anyone and everyone who is opposing and will oppose them because of the direction that this country is going in. They are alienating all of the masses and they have to find some way to keep them in line and intimidate people so that they know that “if you go against us we ain’t going to never let it go. We’ll come back at you time and time again. You will suffer. So you better think twice.”
Revolution: Two of your co-defendant,s Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim, have been in jail for the last 30 years. I know you wanted to speak about their situation.
Richard Brown: Them and all political prisoners who are still suffering behind the Counterintelligence Program or Cointelpro. It has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that people were framed, that evidence was manufactured, that people were paid to lie, they withheld evidence that could prove people was innocent. The case of Geronimo ji Jaga who was framed and did 27 years before the government was forced to admit that they knew he didn’t do it. They withheld the evidence that could prove that he was somewhere else when the crime was committed. These types of things are what I would really like America to understand and take a good hard look at. Not only does it affect us, Black people at this particular time—and most of the political prisoners though not all are Black. But I would like all of the political prisoners’ cases to be reopened. I would like everyone who was touched by the counterintelligence program in any way, for their cases to be revisited and for something to be done in order to remedy the situation.
You have people still to this day like Herman and Jalil who are locked up only because of the participation of the Counterintelligence Program and how they went about conducting their business over the years.
I was framed, just blatantly framed, given a case. At the time I was raising nine children in the same house. And they took me away from my family for over two and one half years behind that crap. I still say I was fortunate because I didn’t have to stay in for 27 years or 35 years like some of my other comrades who are still locked up today. And I could have been in prison much longer if it hadn’t been for the attorneys who were able to legally get me out and prove that I was innocent.
This has to change. We have to do something. We have hundreds and hundreds of people all over this nation who are locked up in prison and who it appears have no chance of ever coming home because of the Counterintelligence Program and what it did to them. The masses are not in charge of when they come home or don’t come home. This fascist government is still saying we deem these people a threat just like they deemed me a threat for trying to feed children in the Black community. And they’re not going to release them and that is one of the biggest crimes being committed by this government.
Revolution: What gives you the strength to carry on the struggle?
Richard Brown: The love for my great-grandchildren, my grandchildren and my children, my love for the people. The fact that I’m just not the type of person who’s just going to lie down and take anything. You hit me, I hit back. I believe in people. That’s another thing that the Party taught me, that true power comes from the people. I love the masses. I actually love America and I love the American people. There’s a difference now. I’m not talking about the American so-called government. The so-called President and his administration, if you go by the definition of what a president is, he doesn’t fit that. He fits more of the definition of a dictator and therefore he’s in charge of a regime. It has nothing to do with the American people. I believe that the majority of the American people are decent people who believe in freedom, justice and equality for all, who truly want this to be “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” It is not that but it can be that, and I have faith that it will be if we continue to try and bring forth the contradiction, which is what I’m doing and educate people to get them to understand the true picture of what’s going on so that things will be better not just for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren but for everybody’s children.
I can’t stop. If the people understand and take control like they can, they can turn this around and they will. As long as I can be effective and as long as I can try to continue to do that, I’m going to be working toward that. I guess I’m doing this out of love for the people and love for peace and freedom. And until we get it I’m going to continue to fight.
Revolution: Anything else that you want to add?
Richard Brown: Again, political prisoners and prisoners of war. Honestly and truly I want people to understand and take a good look at that. We started the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, that’s what the SF8 has started. And out of this we want to reopen an investigation of the Counterintelligence Program. It’s kind of silly to think that the government is taking freedom and constitutional rights away from us and we’re talking about investigating an agency that did the same thing that the government is doing now. It’s in order to get the people of the United States to understand what’s truly going on and until we paint a clear picture of what happened and what is happening now political prisoners don’t have a chance of coming home. We not only want them to come home, we want people who are guilty of these crimes against them and against all of us to be held accountable.
Honestly and truly when I think of Jalil and Herman and other political prisoners I feel real, real, real bad. I feel like I’m not doing enough. You asked me what keeps me going. The love that I have for those brothers, who gave so much because of their love of the people, and who’re suffering like they are. And I want to stop that.
To follow developments in the case of the San Francisco 8 see their website:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jeff "Free" Luers Resentencing

Dear Friends,

We finally have some news about Jeff's re-sentencing!

A hearing is scheduled for January 8, 2008 in Lane County Circuit Court in Eugene, Oregon. The date could very well change, but this is what we have been told so far.

Circuit Court space is very limited and we want to be sure Jeff's family has plenty of space available, so at this time we are requesting that only Jeff's family and close friends attend the hearing. We are also requesting that things are kept low-key--any protest or similar activity would be acting against the wishes of Jeff and his family.

We hope that everyone can understand our request and continue to be supportive during this very crucial time for Jeff. We will certainly continue to keep everyone updated and share information with you all right away. Stay tuned for updates and reports.

Jeff's attorneys have been working very hard over the past few weeks and our hopes remain high. If you are able and haven't done so already, please contribute to Jeff's growing legal debt: and continue to write to Jeff at:

Jeffrey Luers #1306729
Lane County Adult Corrections
101 West 5th Ave
Eugene, OR 97401-2695

We wish everyone the happiest of holidays. Let's all hope for good news in 2008!

Thank you all for your continued support!

-Friends of Jeffrey "Free" Luers

California Department of Corrections sued over records

Herald Salinas Bureau

Article Last Updated: 12/19/2007 08:57:31 AM PST

The publisher of a legal magazine for prison inmates and their attorneys has filed a lawsuit against California's corrections department, saying the agency failed to answer a request for records about payoffs in legal settlements.

The suit was filed Tuesday on behalf of Prison Legal News in Sacramento County Superior Court, and named California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary James Tilton as a defendant.

The magazine's publisher said his lawyers sent a request to the department for records having to do with payments made as a result of lawsuits filed against the department since January 2002.

The magazine also requested records from lawsuits filed for "overdetention" — holding individuals beyond their legal release date.

Paul Wright, publisher of the 7,000-circulation Prison Legal News, said the records request was sent by certified mail Nov. 9.

"We have the receipt," he said. To date, he said, he has received no response.

According to the California Public Records Act, government agencies have to respond to public records requests within 10 days, although they can take longer to actually provide the documents. In some cases, agencies can deny the release of records, based on various exemptions the law allows, but they still are required to respond.

Wright said he feels the CDCR is stonewalling.

"There's no legal basis for not giving us the records. It's about the expenditure of public funds," Wright said. "We're talking

about taxpayer money here. This isn't someone's secret payout fund. They have to be accountable to the public."

Department spokesman Bill Sessa said after business hours Tuesday that he would check the status of the letter with the department's public records unit today.

The suit comes on the heels of an "overdetention" lawsuit filed last week by the Service Employees International Union Local 1000. Representatives of the union's 15,000 members who work in California prisons allege the department is so far behind on paperwork that thousands of prisoners might be held past their legal release dates.

The day that suit was filed, Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, and other officials toured Monterey County's two state prisons and met with SEIU employees there.

In the past few years, state courts have ordered release dates re-calculated for prisoners serving simultaneous sentences for both violent and nonviolent crimes because the time off allowed for "good behavior" for each is different.

The SEIU lawsuit alleges the department ignored those court orders and has only re-calculated release dates for prisoners who have individually sued the CDCR.

But in an August memo sent to prison wardens around the state, the department's director of adult institutions, Lea Ann Chrones, wrote that some 33,000 inmates had been identified as possibly eligible for earlier release.

After that suit was filed, corrections spokesman Seth Unger told The Associated Press the department plans to hire more staff members to start reviewing how many inmates are affected.

"It's possible there could be 33,000 cases that have to be re-evaluated. That doesn't mean 33,000 inmates would be released," Unger said.

Sessa said the department acknowledges it is short on personnel.

"In the past, we weren't successful in getting the financing to increase the staff," he said.

Sessa said that to his knowledge, no inmate has been released early because of the erroneous calculations. And if any inmates have been released later than they should, he said, the problem isn't widespread.

"We're talking about taking a couple months off a multi-year sentence. If there is a case, it's an exception and a rare instance," he said.

Earlier in the year, the corrections department settled another case filed by Prison Legal News and was ordered to permit greater access to the magazine and other publications inside California prisons.

Julia Reynolds can be reached at 648-1187 or

Solidarity with Andrea!

On the 1.12 the Berlin´s antifascist Andrea has ben arrested by
plainclothes cops of LKA´s political branch.
She was in a neighbourhood in southeast Berlin where a neonazi
demonstration was taking place.
Since five months she managed successfully to avoid her inprisonment,
which should have happened already on the 2nd of august.
She will have now to spend her next 14 months behind the bars and
therefore she absolutely need all our support from outside the walls.
After one and half week spent in the prison of Lichtenberg, Andrea has
been transferred by surprise on the 11th to the prison of Pankow.
Through this she lost a visit she had already applied for, and now she had
to apply again for all the usual things like packets, sport, visit..

A bit of history

On the 12.07 the Münich´s local court sentenced her to 4 months without
probation.She had a pepperspray on her.
Even though on that day there was none lefty demonstration taking
place,and therefore it was legal to carry a pepperspray, the court said
that on that day a "state of exception" had been declared.
Of course they forgot to inform the rest of the population about this.
Following this sentence, she faced also the loss of a precedent probation
of three months,back then being caught with some eggs full of pepper
during an antifascist action on 1st of May 2005, in Berlin.
During a process on 31st of july, under which several accusations against
her got regrouped,she has been sentenced to five months more.
She has been accused in participating within an action of the
"Überflussigen" (an autonomous group active mainly on the theme of
precarity) against the racist immigration office in Berlin-Lichtenberg, in
october 2006, for a blockade attempt against a neonazi march in august
2006, for masking up during the protests against a neonazi demonstration
towards the prison of Tegel in solidarity with Michael Regner "Lunikoff"
(singer of a famous neonazi band,serving a couple fo years in that
prison), in october 2006.
On top of this come two months without probation following a squatting
acton in the Liebigstrasse, Berlin-Friedrichshain.

These sentences are clearly political ones, meaning that an enganged and
unwilling to bow activist has been sent down for quite sometime.

Write her letters and postcards:

Andrea Neff
Bnr: 746/07/2
Justizvollzugsanstalt für Frauen in Berlin
Arkonastraße 56
13189 Berlin

For money donation:

Rote Hilfe e.V.
Kontonummer: 7189590600
BLZ: 100 200 00 Berliner Bank
Verwendungszweck: Soli Andrea

Solidarity actions are of course always welcomed!

ABC Berlin

for anarchy!

Monday, December 17, 2007


News & Analysis: North America
By Joe Kay

The US government's case against seven impoverished Miami residents for allegedly plotting to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower and other buildings was dealt a major setback on Thursday. A jury acquitted one of the defendants on all charges and could not reach a decision on the other six.

Judge Joan Lenard of the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida declared a mistrial. US prosecutors said they would move to retry Narseal Batiste, the alleged leader of the group, along with five co-defendants.

The individual acquitted, Lyglenson Lemorin, had moved from Miami several months before the arrests took place. There is no breakdown in the jury positions on the other cases, but the foreman said the jury was "evenly split." The jury was deadlocked on all seven cases for over a week.

The seven men--who all live in Liberty City, one of the poorest sections of Miami--were accused of trying to link up with Al Qaeda to blow up the Sears Tower and several federal buildings in the Miami area. Five of the individuals are US citizens, while two are Haitians. Those who were not acquitted face up to 70 years in prison if eventually convicted.

The arrest of the seven men in June 2006 was announced with much fanfare. US government officials declared that it was a major victory in the fight against "homegrown terrorism," with media headlines declaring that the disrupted plot was "even bigger than September 11." Then US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales warned that the men were prepared to "wage a full ground war against the United States," while the government declared that the indictment was "yet another important victory in the war on terrorism."

However, from the very beginning it was clear that the government charges were highly sensationalized for political purposes. The alleged plot was more the product of the imagination and prodding of two FBI informants, and there was never a threat of a terrorist attack. FBI Deputy Director John Pistole acknowledged at a press conference announcing the arrests that the alleged plot was "more aspirational than operational"--that is, there were never any real plans to do anything.

The manufactured character of the accusations has since come more fully to light. It soon became clear that the main source of all the plots and the principal source of resources for the group came in the form of an FBI informant posing as an "Al Qaeda representative."

One of the central components of the government's case was a video, recorded in a warehouse set up by the FBI to which the group was led by the informant, documenting an "oath" to Al Qaeda. The defendants were charged with, among other things, "conspiracy to provide material support to Al Qaeda." However, the only supposed contact that they had with "Al Qaeda" was through an FBI informant--they had never been in contact with a real member of the organization.

The men never acquired weapons or formulated actual plans to carry out what the government claims they planned to do. It was a government informant who provided the initial suggestion that they join up with Al Qaeda, and it was the same informant who provided the men with a camera and car to photograph some buildings in Miami.

In the trial, the defense for Batiste argued that the men only began cooperating with the informant posing as an "Al Qaeda representative" because they were desperate for money. Batiste's attorney, Ana Jhones, said that at one point Batiste pawned a camera he was given by the informant for $56 in order to feed his family.

Jhones said that the FBI entrapped her client in a "fabricated crime." In her opening statement, Jhones said, "This case is about an orchestrated event, a ploy. These two informants knew how to work the system. They wrote the script."

In particular, the defense argued that Batiste was going along with one of the informants in the hopes that he would deliver on $50,000 he had promised them, but which never arrived. Batiste said that several of the "plans," including the plot to destroy the Sears Tower, had been developed without the knowledge of the other men. The sole intention, Batiste said, was to get money out of the informant.

"Nobody knew about [the Sears Tower plot]. Like I said, this was imagination," Batiste testified, according to the Miami Herald. "I would have been deeply embarrassed if any of the brothers knew I was engaging in that kind of conversation."

One relevant aspect of the case that did not come up in the trial was the identity and history of the government informants, both of whom have a shady past. The two informants--Abbas al-Saidi and Elie Assad--earned over $130,000 for their services to the FBI, and were therefore eager to provide evidence in order to justify their employment.

Early in the trial, Judge Lenard ruled that key information about these two men could not be presented to the jury. Al-Saidi had previously been involved in an attempt to extort money from a friend who had raped Al-Saidi's girlfriend. He was later convicted of battery for beating the same girlfriend.

An article by Bob Norman in the Miami New Times notes, "[Judge] Lenard has seemed intent throughout the trial to keep the jury in the dark about the nature of the government informants. And it got worse. The most damning revelation about [Assad] ... was barred from the jury altogether." Assad was the main informant who set up the alleged plots.

"Agents flew Assad ... to Miami from Mexico to pose as an Al Qaeda operative," Norman notes. "The fed ultimately paid the career informant $80,000 for his efforts, but former FBI agent James Wedick, who was hired as an expert witness by the defense, says Assad never should have been authorized to work on the case at all" because he had previously failed a polygraph test. "Although the credibility of a confidential informant might seem relevant, Lenard barred any mention of the polygraph during the trial," Norman wrote.

The identity and character of the government informants simply serves to underscore the fraudulent character of the government case as a whole.

The case of the Liberty City 7 is only one in a series of "terrorism" cases brought by the government, based on extremely flimsy evidence, often produced by paid informants.

In April 2006, a jury convicted Hamid Hayat of providing material support for terrorism based on testimony of an informant who was paid $250,000. Hayat and his father were allegedly part of an Al Qaeda cell, and Hayat is alleged to have attended an Al Qaeda training camp, though there is no evidence that he did so. In September, Hayat was sentenced to 24 years in prison.

Also in 2006, the government won the conviction of a New York City man, Shahawar Marin Siraj, for a supposed conspiracy to bomb a New York subway station. The plot was concocted by an informant who was paid $100,000. As in the case of the Liberty City 7, there were no material steps taken toward realizing the alleged plot.

Other more prominent cases have also revealed serious government misconduct. Zacarias Moussaoui, who pleaded guilty to playing a role in the September 11 attacks, was sentenced to life in prison in 2006. The government later revealed that it had withheld videotapes that it had said did not exist. The CIA's destruction of the separate videotapes of the interrogation and torture of two key prisoners also calls into question the entire case against Moussaoui.

One of the prisoners that the CIA interrogated and tortured was Abu Zubaydah, who fingered Jose Padilla as a member of Al Qaeda. The destruction of the videotapes of Zubaydah's interrogation casts further doubt on the trial of Padilla, who was convicted in August and awaits sentencing. Padilla was held in solitary confinement and tortured for years before he was brought to trial, and the entire case against him was based on extremely weak evidence.

What the Liberty City 7 case principally reveals is the utter fraudulence of the so-called "war on terrorism," which from the beginning has been used for two essential purposes: as a rationale for US militarism abroad and to justify attacks on democratic rights in the United States. It has formed the principal basis--accepted by both political parties and the media establishment--for an unpopular policy demanded by the American ruling elite.

In order to justify this policy, including the systematic erosion of basic democratic guarantees--the Patriot Act, the expansion of government spying powers, the designation of prisoners as "enemy combatants" who can be held indefinitely without charge, the use of torture--the government has required a constant stream of supposed threats. When such threats did not exist, it was necessary, as in the case of the Liberty City 7, to manufacture them.

Copyright 1998-2007 World Socialist Web Site. All rights reserved.

Torturer killed in Argentina

Prefect Febres, a genocidal torturer, member of the state terrorist
death squads under the military government (1976-82), assigned to the
concentration camp in ESMA (Petty officers' Mechanic Naval School)
during the "lead years" was found assassinated two days ago at his
detention center, a Naval Prefecture Garrison where he was avaiting
sentence for four of the more of 300 cases of dissappearences,
torture, babies appropriationsa and other crimes he was accused of.

He was murdered four days before the sentence was to be dictated by
the panel of judges that put him on trial. He was held prisoner in a
confortable two-room apartment, with TV, DVD, air conditioned,
unrestricted visits, access to cellular telephone and internet and
without key to his front door.

His corpse was found at 10:30 AM two days ago, when his guards climbed
to the second floor apartment surprised by the fact that he did not
come down to have breakfast with them as usual. Pressured by the
lawyers of the victims (Collaborative Justicia Ya! where the CP, PTS
and people connected with Izquierda.Info participate) an autopsy was
performed and found he had several times over the deadly dosis of 0.5
mmgg of cyanide in his blood stream.

Febres was accused of torturing and murdering, as well as appropiating
babies born in captivity of over 300 members of Montoneros, FAR, PST
as well as human rights and trade unionist activists as well as
intellectuals and the founder of Madres de Plaza de Mayo, Villaflor.

The message of the crime was clear and is sendind a chilling reminder
to everyone: Nobody talks, nobody will be punished, they can still
touch everthing inside and outside prison. Febres was supposed to
address the tribunal tomorrow adn some expected he would have disclosed
who has some of the babies born in captivity. The General Attorney
asked the tribunal to hand out a 25-year sentence because he was only
being judged this time for four crimes of torment and illegal arrests.

Two of his guards had been arrested and possibly the head of the Naval
Prefecture will be removed from his post. But he message of terror
was, again, delivered.

Boricua Nationalist Extols Cuban Social Workers

Santa Clara, Dec 14 (acn) Puerto Rican ex-political prisoner Dylcia Pagan, extolled the work of Cuban social workers as she visited the Abel Sanatmaria Medical School in the central province of Santa Clara.

Pagan, who is a fighter for the independence of her country, told this agency that Puerto Rico should take Cuba as an example, as doctors trained in the island, whom she called doctors from the soul, are ordinary people who are able to understand the problems of society.

She said what is most important for a health professional is to struggle along side individuals and suffer their problems.

Dylcia Pagan was kept in jail for 20 years in the United States for fighting for the freedom of Puerto Rico. She said during her days in prison, she occasionally served as a social worker counsellor of the American penitentiary system, which she described as inhumane because of its hard conditions and constant violations of the rights of the prisoners.

Pagan expressed her unconditional support of the cause of Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez, known as the Cuban Five, who are serving unfair sentences in American jails for trying to stop terrorist actions against Cuba.

The Puerto Rican nationalist made a call to unite to fight together for the release of the Cuban Five and for the freedom of her country fellows Alberto Torres and Oscar Lopez Rivera who are also political prisoners and are imprisoned for claiming the independence for their country.

Join The Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5 as we declare December 2007 to be VISA Month for the Cuban 5!!

For the entire month of December, we are calling on people to fax or mail (international mailing rate applies) out this letter to Louise Arbour The High Commissioner of Human Rights of the Office for Human Rights-United Nations Office at Geneva.

We are asking her to intercede on behalf of the Cuban 5’s mothers/wives to pressure the U.S. government to grant them VISAs to visit their husbands/sons!!

Due to the U.S. government’s denial to approve visas, Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo and Rene Gonzalez Sehwerert have not seen their wives since their incarceration!! Others in the Cuban 5 have not seen their parents, wives and children with regularity, because the U.S. government has taken prolonged periods of time to issue them visas.

The U.S. government’s denial of visitation rights is a cruel and horrible form of psychological torture. Their rationale for denial is ridiculous and baseless; none of these family members are a threat to national security.



download the letter at: