Tag Archive: Ben Turk

Anarchist Perspective on Mass Prisoner Resistance Movements


From Anarchist News / By Ben Turk

There is a widespread, growing and committed resistance movement happening in US prisons across the nation. This movement is not going away, and with more outside support and national coordination, it could be powerful enough to reshape not only the US prison system, but the entire society.

At the time of this writing thirty prisoners at Ohio State Penitentiary, the supermax prison in Ohio are recovering from a hunger strike that has lasted over 30 days. Prisoners in Georgia, accused of leading the largest prison work stoppage in US history in 2010 are on hunger strike demanding relief from torture conditions they’ve been subjected to in solitary confinement as reprisal for their non-violent protest. The Free Alabama Movement (FAM) has been dealing with threats, beatings and lockdowns they’ve been subjected to in reprisal for the mass work stoppages that shut down three Alabama facilities for weeks in January of 2014.

Massive hunger strikes that rocked California’s prison system in recent years are now getting slow results in favorable court decisions for their class action lawsuit. Prisoners in IllinoisGeorgiaVirginiaNorth Carolina and Washington State have all engaged in historically large protests in recent years. In February, thousands of immigrant prisoners in a federal detention facility in Texas refused to work, and protested and sabotaged the facility, rendering it uninhabitable. At around the same time women at an Arizona county jail were on hunger strike refusing to eat the moldy food they’d been served.

The above examples are only the most coordinated and best publicized of these protests. Many prisoners see individual acts of courage and resistance as necessary for their identity and survival. When the country locks up as large a portion of its population as the US does, prisoner protests are inevitable and almost constant. (more…)

Ben Turk and Alexander Abbasi on The Final Straw

ferguson-palestine_0From Asheville FM

Streaming at AshevilleFM from 3am EST on August 25th through August 31st, 2014, then podcasting atradio4all.net. Also airing this week on KOWA-LPFMin Olympia, WA, KWTF in Bodega Bay, CA, KXCF in Marshall, CA, and WCRS-LP Columbus Community Radio 98.3 and 102.1 FM

If you’re in the asheville area, there will be a vigil at Pack Square in downtown at 6pm tonight, Sunday the 24th of August for those who’ve lost their lives at the hands of pigs, such as Michael Brown, the unarmed black man gunned down by pigs in Ferguson and A.J. Marion, gunned down by asheville pigs who’ve just been cleared of charges.https://www.facebook.com/events/696569130391969/

This episode features two conversations. The first is with Ben Turk, anarchist, playwrite and prison abolitionist. We chat briefly about the upcoming North American Anarchist Black Cross conference in Colorado, about what folks can expect if they go and how to support the event. https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/ek5vc/ab/f3E260

After that, a conversation with Alexander Abassi. Alex is a palestinian-american from Los Angeles, an activist in the BDS (That’s boycott, divest and sanctions movement against the Israeli occupation of Palestine) and a student at Harvard’s divinity school. We talk about decolonization, the uprisings in Ferguson, the struggle to liberate Palestine from the occupation by Israel and what solidarity and liberation might look like. (more…)

Ben Turk on the silencing of Sean Swain, anarchist prisoner in Ohio

seanswainFrom The Final Straw

Streaming at AshevilleFM on Monday, 04/14/2014 for a week, then podcasting later at radio4all.net and airing on KOWA-LPFMin Olympia, WA, KWTF in Bodega Bay, CA, and KXCF in Marshall, CA.

On April 6th of 2014, anarchist prisoner Sean Swain, who’s been kind enough to allow us to present his audio commentaries (available at http://www.seanswain.org) had his access to phone calls and email shut down by JPay corporation (which facilitates financial transactions between prisoners and their families and other corporations while skimming profit and also saving and mining the private user data) alongside of Global Tel* Link. This comes just after Sean was able to engage a new lawyer, Richard Kerger, who’s done work on the Lucasville Uprising death row prisoners.

This episode, we speak to Ben Turk, a supporter of Sean’s about new updates in Sean’s case, his silencing and how folks can help pressure the state to give Sean back his access to phones and email.

Prior to that interview, however, a special guest reads a script from Sean for this week’s “You Are The Resistance”. Take a listen, or find it later at archive.org as youaretheresistance04132014 alongside the past segments for download or streaming. (more…)

Political Prisoner Birthday Poster For November/December 2013 Is Now Available

birthdayHello Friends and Comrades,

1) Here is the extremely late political prisoner birthday poster for November and December. As always, please post this poster publicly and/or use it to start a card writing night of your own. FYI, the graphic on the poster this month is a picture of a Russian activist who nailed his testicles to the ground at Red Square to protest the extension of the prison further into all parts of society.

Some News And Updates:

2) As most of you already know Herman Wallace passed away on October 4th after enduring 42 years of solitary confinement. Here is his obituary as well as pictures of a couple of public remembrances for Herman in North Carolina.

3) The Final Straw, an Asheville, North Carolina based podcast, has been putting out a lot of great episodes on anti-prison struggles. Here are links to episodes on the Lucasville Uprising, Red Bird Abolition, and Anarchist Prisoner Sean Swain. (more…)

Sean Swain, Blackjack & The Army of the 12 Monkeys

This week’s show is about the case of two prisoners in Ohio. In 2011, the staff at Mansfield Correctional Institution (MANCI) became aware of a nascent guerilla sabotage movement starting among prisoners called the Army of the 12 Monkeys (A12M). A12M sabotage and organizing manual and propaganda began circulating among prisoners. Cells were searched in detail and James “BlackJack” Dzelijilja was found to have angry hiphop against prison he’d written and also a book on Ericco Malatesta, the long-dead Italian anarchist. Sean Swain, an outspoken anarchist prisoner and jailhouse lawyer at the same institution, was found to have an article he was writing criticizing the privatization of the prison system. Neither were found with A12M materials. As time passed, 2 other prisoners were accused and assented to membership in A12M and that Swain and Blackjack were unaffiliated. Ohio’s prison court, however, disagreed. Now this movement has spread throughout multiple facilities in Ohio, such as Noble, Lake Eerie and Toledo.

This episode is a conversation with Blackjack and Sean Swain, both serving in high security at Youngstown (OSP), and also with Ben Turk of Redbird Prison Abolition and supporter of Sean Swain. We talk about Sean’s activism and writing, how the A12M case has effected Sean & Blackjack, the targeting of anarchists within prisons and more. (more…)

Ben Turk on Insurgent Theatre & Prison Abolition

InsurgentTheatre_Know_Your_Enemy_600From The Final Straw

This week’s episode is a conversation with Ben Turk. Ben’s a co-founder of Insurgent Theatre, the decade-old theater troop that has presented a number of original and refurbished theater workshops and performances around the country. Topics of IT’s works have ranged from discussions around Militancy framed through Homer’s Odyssey to Administrative Segregation to a Terrorists Fairytale.

Insurgent Theatre’s current play is called “Know Your Enemy.” The play is a one-person presentation based around a community liaison cop with a liberal heart of gold. As the play goes on, the cop begins to question whether he can actually do his job and help the community. A psychological study into the head of the “good cop” and community/cop relations, it also serves as a history of policing in the United States (ala “Our Enemies in Blue” by Kristian Williams) and a discussion of safer practices when interacting with cops (a sort of Know Your Rights presentation).

“Know Your Enemy” is touring with the second film by D Jones in the “The Great Incarcerator” series. That film, “The Shadow of Lucasville” includes some eye opening just came out and a preview can be found online at: (more…)