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Prisoner-Plaintiff Responds to Retaliation with Hunger Strike

August 22, 2014

“They want to be free to pursue the maintenance of the SHU torture units and the expansion of the prison industrial complex (and the ever-growing portion of the public’s tax dollars) without the prospect of legitimate criticism and the voice of opposition.” -Prisoner in Corcoran State Prison SHU

In the summer of 2012, a prisoner who had been repeatedly beaten with impunity by guards at Central Prison’s notorious Unit One began a lawsuit against the prison and against NC DPS.

This lawsuit soon expanded to become a class action with seven other prisoners who had had similar experiences at the same segregation unit. In particular, guards were known for taking prisoners to “the desert,” a camera-less area of the facility, to beat them. Serious injuries occurred.

Now, one of those prisoners, Stanley Corbett, Jr., has reported to us by letter that he is being retaliated against by the guards at Warren CI in Manson, NC, to which he was transferred after beginning the lawsuit.

Retaliation has included censorship of mail, denial of medical treatment, and urine in his food.

Corbett has announced that on Monday, August 25th, he will begin a hunger strike until such retaliation ends.

Supporters are encouraged to contact the NC DPS director as well as the administration at Warren CI to express their concern and anger that a prisoner is being retaliated against for exposing guards’ brutality.

Contact information for relevant officials can be found here.

Corbett also recently published a book of poetry entitled, “The Heart and Soul of a Poet” under the name Knowledge G. A sample can be downloaded at prisonfoundation.org

The Making of “Outside Agitators”

August 21, 2014
This illustration is available in poster form from artist Corina Dross, to raise funds for arrestees in Ferguson.

This illustration is available in poster form from artist Corina Dross, to raise funds for arrestees in Ferguson.

From Crimethinc.

On August 19, ten days after police murdered Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a slew of corporate media stories appeared charging that“criminals” and “outside agitators” were responsible for clashes during the protests. CNN alleged that “all sides agree there are a select number of people—distinct from the majority of protesters—who are fomenting violence,” quoting a State Highway Patrol Captain, a State Senator, and a former FBI assistant director to confirm this.

Today’s militarized police understand that they are operating on two different battlefields at once: not only the battlefield of the streets, but also the battlefield of discourse. So long as most people remain passive, the police can harass, beat, arrest, and even kill people with impunity—certain people, anyway. But sometimes protests get “out of hand,” which is to say, they actually impact the authorities’ ability to keep the population under control. Then, without fail, police and politicians proceed to the second strategy in their playbook: they declare that they support the protesters and are there to defend their rights, but a few bad apples are spoiling the bunch. In this new narrative, the enemies of the protesters are not the police who are gassing and shooting people, but those who resist the police and their violence. When this strategy works, it enables the police to go back to harassing, beating, arresting, and killing people with impunity—certain people, anyway.

Sure enough, a few hours after these articles about “criminals” and “outside agitators” appeared, the St. Louis police killed another man less than three miles from Ferguson. Here we see how defining people as “criminals” and “outsiders” is itself an act of violence, setting the stage for further violence. You can predict police behavior at protests with a fair degree of accuracy based on the rhetoric they deploy in advance to prepare the terrain.

So when we hear them say “outside agitators,” we know the authorities are getting ready to spill blood. All the better, from their perspective, if people buy into this rhetoric and police themselves so no officer has to get his hands dirty. This is often called for in the name of avoiding violence, but self-policing returns us to the same passivity that enables police violence to occur in the first place. How many people would have even heard about Michael Brown if not for the “criminals” and “agitators” who brought his death to our attention? Self-policing also preserves the impression that we all choose this state of affairs of our own free will, reinforcing the impression that anyone who does not is anoutsider. Read more…

What They Mean when They Say Peace

August 21, 2014

policestateFrom Crimethinc.

The Forces of Peace and Justice

“I’m committed to making sure the forces of peace and justice prevail,”Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said in Ferguson on Saturday, August 16, after a week of conflicts sparked by the police murder of teenager Michael Brown. “If we’re going to achieve justice, we first must have and maintain peace.”

Is that how it works—first you impose peace, then you achieve justice? And what does that mean, the forces of peace and justice? What kind of peace and justice are we talking about here?

As everyone knows, if it weren’t for the riots in Ferguson, most people would never have heard about the murder of Michael Brown. White police officers kill over a hundred black men every year without most of us hearing anything about it. That silence—the absence of protest and disruption—is the peace which Governor Nixon wants us to believe will produce justice.

This is the same narrative we always hear from the authorities. First, we must submit to their control; then they will address our concerns. All the problems we face, they insist, are caused by our refusal to cooperate. This argument sounds most persuasive when it is dressed up in the rhetoric of democracy: those are “our” laws we should shut up and obey—“our” cops who are shooting and gassing us—“our” politicians and leaders begging us to return to business as usual. But to return to business as usual is to step daintily over the bodies of countless Michael Browns, consigning them to the cemetery and oblivion.

Governor Nixon’s peace is what happens after people have been forcefully pacified. His justice is whatever it takes to hoodwink us into accepting peace on those terms—petitions that go directly into the recycle bin, lawsuits that never produce more than a slap on the wrist for the killers in uniform, campaigns that may advance the career of an activist or politician but will never put an end to the killing of unarmed black men. Read more…

Daniel McGowan Sues the BOP

August 21, 2014

daniel_mcgowan_FREE!From HuffPost:

Daniel McGowan may have been the first person thrown in solitary confinement for writing a HuffPost blog. Now he’ll be the first person to sue the Bureau of Prisons over it.

The environmental activist and former prisoner filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the prison system over an April 2013 incident in which U.S. Marshals threw him in a Brooklyn federal jail — ironically, for criticizing earlier violations of his free speech.

“The Bureau of Prisons does not like criticism and their reaction was unsurprisingly to try and crush someone who stepped out of line,” McGowan told HuffPost Tuesday in an email.

After a federal judge labeled him a terrorist in 2007 for arson committed with the Earth Liberation Front, McGowan spent years in some of the federal prison system’s most restrictive prisons, the communication management units (CMUs). The Bureau of Prisons denies it, but internal prison files strongly suggest McGowan was placed there because of his continued outspoken association with the environmental movement. Read more…

Rally for Ferguson, Friday August 22nd at Post Office

August 20, 2014

fergieposter

A little over a week ago a cop in Ferguson, Missouri killed Michael Brown with his hands up, unarmed. What happened to Michael Brown happens everyday across America: police kill poor people and people of color with impunity. The only reason we even know Brown’s name is because of the protests and riots that ensued afterward. Everyone who could have been next decided it was better to risk their freedom together than simply hope they could survive the mortal lottery that is life under police rule.

Almost a year ago Jesus “Chuy” Huerta died in police custody, the fourth black or Latino man to die at the hands of law enforcement in Durham, NC that year. Three years ago Chapel Hill Police raided the non-violent occupation of the Yates Automotive Building on Franklin Street with military rifles drawn. What happened in Ferguson is not the result of one bad cop; everywhere police go they see enemies and protect property at the expense of human life. The best way we can resist police murder and violence is by standing up to them before it is too late, sending the message that any abuse will be met with resistance.

All out for a rally in support of everyone who is resisting in Ferguson, Missouri on Friday, August 22 at 8 PM at Peace and Justice Plaza (on the corner of Franklin and Henderson in downtown Chapel Hill, NC). Bring noisemakers, signs, and speeches.

Called for by The UNControllables

Countdown to the Really Really Free Festival!

August 19, 2014

rrfm10-1From Really Free Carrboro

The first fliers are finished announcing the ten-year anniversary of Carrboro’s Really Really Free Market this coming October 4!

Please print and circulate these widely. We are expecting participants from all over the region, making this a day to remember.

In addition to a variety of booths, installations, and the usual cornucopia of free materials, the festival will feature several different tracks of programming: bands, DJs, puppeteers, workshops and discussions, games, and more. If you would like to speak, perform, or organize some other activity, please email carrbororrfm (at) riseup (dot) net.

We have confirmed that the Recyclery will be there fixing bicycles—and giving them away! A licensed massage therapist has signed on, too, alongside other participants. Really really free bicycles, really really free medical care—the sky is the limit. What can you bring?

We will be publishing a preliminary schedule of events and performers shortly. (Alternatively, you could plan to surprise everyone!) There will also be at least two competitions—birthday cakes, and piñatas.

See you this October!

Orange County Leads NC In Military Surplus Armored Vehicles For Police

August 18, 2014
A V150 used by the Saudi Arabian National Guard in 1991.

A V150 used by the Saudi Arabian National Guard in 1991.

From Chapelborro

According to Department of Defense data published last week by the New York Times, law enforcement agencies in Orange County have acquired more military surplus armored vehicles than any other county in the state.

In the wake of the heavily-armed police response to protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, a federal program to direct military surplus to local law enforcement agencies is coming under renewed scrutiny. The 1033 program dates back to 1997. In the last year alone it funneled nearly half a billion dollars worth of military gear to police departments and sheriff’s offices across the nation.

Since 2006, Orange County law enforcement has acquired six armored vehicles using the 1033 program, according to the Times.  By comparison, Wake County, with a population of just under one million, received only two armored vehicles, while Durham County, with twice the population of Orange, received none. Only 16 of North Carolina’s 100 counties purchased armored vehicles of any kind using the federal program. Stanly, Cabarrus and Davidson counties each boast four. Read more…

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