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Put Down Your Phone And Save My Black Life

Paul Lachine illustration

From Hartford Courant / By Frank Harris III

I was thinking about Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Eric Garner and other blacks across the country killed by police. I was thinking about their images posted on YouTube for the world to see. I was thinking about how I don’t want to be like them.

See, I survived police interactions that could have gone bad at ages 13, 16, 18, 19 and 57.

I am now 58 and despite my advancing maturity, I have long understood there is no age-related statute of limitations on being a black male in America. I have also come to understand that many in this country believe that whipping out their smartphone to record these “incidents” is the ultimate fulfillment of their civic, if not humane, duty. (more…)

Political Prisoner Birthday Poster For May 2015 Is Now Available

cupcake!!

Hello Friends and Comrades,

1) Here is the political prisoner birthday poster for May. As always, please post this poster publicly and/or use it to start a card writing night of your own.

2) Baltimore! You can donate to a legal defense fund for Baltimore arrestees here. Also, check out this video of former political prisoner Eddie Conway and Dominique Stevenson on Democracy Now! talk about the early stages of the Baltimore uprising.

3) Body cameras strengthen the police and further limit freedom. Anti-prison advocates need to be fighting them, not lobbying for them. Check out this new local blog that opposes surveillance in general and body cameras in particular.

4) Be sure to check out the latest Political Prisoner/Prisoner Of  War every-other week update by the  NYC-Anarchist Black Cross. There are lots of important updates on many political prisoners.

Until Every Cage Is Empty,

Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective

Riots work: Wolf Blitzer and the Washington Post completely missed the real lesson from Baltimore

Wolf Blitzer

The police—not to mention capitalism—have done far more to damage Baltimore than any riot could

From Salon/ By

When Oscar Grant was shot by transit cop Johannes Mehserle in Oakland in the early hours of January 1, 2009, a week passed with no institutional response, while videos of Grant’s murder spread on YouTube like a prairie fire. Then people rebelled, rioted, and took over the streets of Oakland twice—on January 7 and January 14—and just like that, and with the threat of another rebellion hanging heavily in the air, the mayor and the governor leaned on the Alameda County district attorney to bring charges.

When Mike Brown was gunned down by Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014, the community exploded in massive and sustained resistance on the streets. Aside from galvanizing public opinion and sparking a national movement against white supremacist policing, this street insurgency first forced the replacement of Ferguson PD by the St. Louis County Sheriff, and later bythe  state Highway Patrol, as well as prompting both a federal investigation and a grand jury considering—but ultimately rejecting—Wilson’s indictment for murder.

And when Freddie Gray died on April 19, 2015, after a week in a coma provoked by Baltimore City Police, we all know what happened next: in a wave of resistance rivaling Ferguson in the national attention it garnered, Black youth across Baltimore responded as directly as possible to those terrorizing their communities, in some cases chasing the “forces of order” out with bricks. After nearly a week of resistance—including the occupation of Baltimore by heavily-armed National Guard—Maryland state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby stepped into the fray, announcing charges against six officers and admitting that her hand had been forced by the streets: “To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America: I heard your call for ‘No justice, no peace.’”

(more…)

A Statement from a Comrade and Baltimore Native About the Uprising There

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From SIC

Im heading home in two days.

There is something very important happening not only in Baltimore, but across black America. As of now there have been no reported deaths at the hands of protesters in a city where 250 people are killed a year, nearly all of those homicide victims being black. In spite of the fires and the looting, the young people of Baltimore are still showing a greater restraint in their conflicts with police and store-owners than they have shown in their conflicts amongst each other. I say this because for years it has been my family too that has done some of the killing and much of the dying.

Why is it that the current uprising has, in spite of its violence, not tilted toward a shooting war between whites and blacks, cops and kids, landlords and tenants, bosses and workers, given the fact that the shooting war between young black men across the region is invariant? Because young black people still value the lives of their structural enemies more than they value their own. The engineering of what is possibly the most efficient self-cannibalizing social organism in history – the nightly shootouts, the stabbings, the overdoses – is a project that has been centuries in the making.

The black youth of Baltimore have been conditioned to view themselves as the problem. Every socio-economic issue that arises is somehow the result of their behavior. They hear this not only from the white cops, the filipina teachers, the korean liquor store owners, but also from too many of the blacks who attended Coppin or Morgan and secured decent jobs and decided that the reason the police still profile them, or their home values dont rise, or they didnt get that pay raise, is because “the niggas” moved out the county, or they are still robbing each other, or they make “the rest of us” look bad. (more…)

A Leaflet Handed Out in Turin on the First Day of Trial

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ALL OUR STRUGGLES AGAINST THEIR WORLD

From informa-azione.info /translated act for freedom now

Today two actions of sabotage are on trial in Turin: the attack on a TAV yard in Chiomonte, of which Lucio, Francesco and Graziano are accused, and the attempted sabotage on an IBM nanotechnology research site in Switzerland, of which Costantino, Silvia and Billy are accused.

However little we care about the deadlines dictated by repression, they can be an opportunity to re-launch the solidarity with the struggles and practices carried out by the comrades on trial. As we stand outside the sterile liturgy and rules of courtrooms, we prefer to highlight what is common to the impulses of those who choose to act in first person, without delegating the urgency to resist the nocivity running through the existent, with or without a movement behind them.

Territories devastated by railway tracks, high voltage masts, nuclear power plants, military bases, gas pipelines and similar projects are the most obvious phenomena of the transformation and commodification of the existent, which is penetrating the very foundations of human communities, ecosystems and the living matter in a less immediate perceptible way. (more…)

Over 100 Private Prison Protestors Converge at GEO Group’s Shareholder Meeting

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Company denies hunger strike at Texas family detention facility

From Prison Legal News

Boca Raton, FL – Today, over 100 people from across the country joined a protest outside the GEO Group’s annual shareholder meeting at the Boca Resort and Club. GEO, a private company, bills itself as the “largest provider of correctional services in the world.” Groups participating in the protest included the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) from Lake Worth, Florida and the Austin, Texas-based Grassroots Leadership.

HRDC associate director Alex Friedmann, an activist shareholder who owns a small number of shares of GEO Group stock, attended the meeting. When he asked about recent reports of hunger strikes by immigrant women held at the GEO Group-operated Karnes County Family Detention Center in Texas, he was informed by GEO Senior Vice President John J. Bulfin that there was no hunger strike; rather, he said it was a “boycott of dining facilities” at the detention facility.

GEO Group founder and CEO George C. Zoley further remarked that the women detained at Karnes awaiting asylum hearings “have a higher standard of living” than they had elsewhere, implying that they should be grateful for being incarcerated – along with their children – at the company’s for-profit detention center. (more…)

The Spread of Electronic Monitoring: No Quick Fix for Mass Incarceration

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From Prison Legal News/ By James Kilgore

In a troubled criminal justice system desperately looking for alternatives to incarceration, electronic monitoring is trending. North Carolina has tripled the use of electronic monitors since 2011. California has placed 7,500 people on GPS ankle bracelets as part of a realignment program aimed to reduce prison populations. SuperCom, an Israeli-based Smart ID and electronic monitor producer, announced in early July 2014 that they were jumping full force into the U.S. market, predicting this will be a $6 billion-a-year global industry by 2018.

The praise singers of electronic monitoring are also re-surfacing. In late June 2014, high-profile blogger Dylan Matthews posted a story on Vox Media, headlined “Prisons are terrible and there’s finally a way to get rid of them.” He enthusiastically argued that the most “promising” alternative “fits on an ankle.” Joshua Earnest, press secretary for the Obama White House, even suggested ankle bracelets as a solution to getting the 52,000 unaccompanied immigrant children out of border detention centers and military bases in the U.S. Southwest.

The reasons behind this popular surge of electronic monitoring are obvious: Prisons and jails (along with immigrant detention facilities) are overflowing from decades of mass incarceration. State, local and even federal authorities are looking for budget-cutting quick fixes. In the era of the smart phone, smart watch and smart textiles, nothing reads solution like technology. (more…)

Nonviolence as Compliance

riot

Officials calling for calm can offer no rational justification for Gray’s death, and so they appeal for order.

From The Atlantic/ By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Rioting broke out on Monday in Baltimore—an angry response to the death of Freddie Gray, a death my native city seems powerless to explain. Gray did not die mysteriously in some back alley but in the custody of the city’s publicly appointed guardians of order. And yet the mayor of that city and the commissioner of that city’s police still have no idea what happened. I suspect this is not because the mayor and police commissioner are bad people, but because the state of Maryland prioritizes the protection of police officers charged with abuse over the citizens who fall under its purview.

The citizens who live in West Baltimore, where the rioting began, intuitively understand this. I grew up across the street from Mondawmin Mall, where today’s riots began. My mother was raised in the same housing project, Gilmor Homes, where Freddie Gray was killed. Everyone I knew who lived in that world regarded the police not with admiration and respect but with fear and caution. People write these feelings off as wholly irrational at their own peril, or their own leisure. The case against the Baltimore police, and the society that superintends them, is easily made:

Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations. Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson ….

And in almost every case, prosecutors or judges dismissed the charges against the victims—if charges were filed at all. In an incident that drew headlines recently, charges against a South Baltimore man were dropped after a video showed an officer repeatedly punching him—a beating that led the police commissioner to say he was “shocked.”

(more…)

Call & Fax in for Robert Seth Hayes: April 27-30

robertsethhayesFrom POW Medical Justice

Robert Seth Hayes is one of the longest held political prisoners in the US. He is 66 years old and suffers from multiple chronic and concerning medical problems. As many of you know, we recently waged a medical campaign for him a few months ago regarding rapid and concerning weight loss as well as poorly controlled diabetes. Neither of these concerns have been addressed to date. NYS DOCCS states on its website that denial of adequate medical care is a violation of a person’s eighth amendment constitutional rights, so please help demand that Seth be provided with proper care.

***Please join our phone and fax campaign!***
Talking points and sample letter below.

THINGS YOU CAN DO: (more…)

We must disband the police: Body cameras aren’t enough — only radical change will stop cops who kill

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The courts, the media, and the political system are designed to back killer cops. Only radical change will work

From Salon/ By GEORGE CICCARIELLO-MAHER

After Michael Slager gunned down Walter Scott in a North Charleston park, a deafening chorus of voices has emerged, insisting that “the system worked.” And they are right. The system did work, just not in the way that they mean.

The system didn’t only begin to work when the video of the shooting emerged days later: it went into motion immediately. The system began to work when Slager cuffed a dying man and then ran (ran!) back to grab his alibi, the Taser he would then plant near Scott’s failing body (as some have noticed, Slager did so in an eminently practiced way).

The machinery continued to whirr smoothly as the second officer on the scene—Clarence Habersham, who is Black—ignored the planted evidence, raised no questions, and did not administer CPR. Habersham insisted that he immediately applied pressure to Scott’s wounds, but recently synched audio suggests that he was instead counting the bullet holes in a still-dying man. Multiracial policing, after all, is still just policing. (more…)