Tag Archive: prisoner voices

An interview with Russell Maroon Shoats on Democracy, Matriarchy, Occupy Wall Street, and Food Security

Interviewer: How would you define democracy?

Maroon: In it’s broadest sense – to me – democracy is the ability of the individual to exercise self-determination in the core areas of economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex, war and peace; taking under consideration the need to both support and guide children until they can responsibly exercise those things on their own.

If one falls victim to believing what Marimba Ani calls “rhetorical ethics,” (the practice that has held sway surrounding the word democracy) then you would dismiss my definition as superfluous. Nowadays, however, more of the masses, globally, are accepting the fact that except for a small minority, democracy is something they do not exercise in any of those core areas.

So the question we must ask ourselves is “How do we construct societies where the individual is able to broadly exercise self-determination?

Interviewer: Do you find the concept of democracy to be useful to popular movements?

Maroon: For the already mentioned reasons, the exercise of democracy/self-determination is paramount at every stage of a popular movement, and for such an effort to remain true to the word “popular.” After all, individuals usually feel a need to look out for their own interest, and to promote and support democracy/self-determination goes hand in hand with that need. If a popular movement deviates from that, then it too will fall into the practice of utilizing rhetorical ethics if it continues to call itself popular.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Suicided

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

by Chad Landrum*

The CDC’s shameless attempt to suppress the tragic loss of life of three recent hunger strikers has inevitably failed in the whole, despite the fact that it still refuses to knowledge its own complicity with regards to the particular details surrounding these deaths. The essential facts are widely known among the prison masses.

This comes as no surprise for those of us familiar with the practices of the CDC. Yet for those naïve to the CDC’s duplicity, there are valuable lesson to be learned from all of this. With respect to the three men who needlessly lost their lives, it is significant that we not pass judgment on them prematurely.

The taking of one’s own life is a conscious decision, and such a decision is as relevant as the surrounding conditions that gave rise to the decision itself. This inseparability between our consciousness and our environmental conditions is summed up well in Karl Marx’s simple, yet revealing, statement:

“…the ‘ideal’ is nothing more that the material world reflected in the human brain and translated into forms of thought….”

To speak of these avoidable deaths in the context of “suicides” is to legitimize the state’s role in creating the oppressive conditions that resulted in these deaths, and thus, exonerates it of responsibility. (more…)

An update from Eddie Conway

Revolutionary Greetings, to all my family, friends, and supporters.

The last few months have been a very busy time for me. I am very happy to report that some progress has been made in several areas. The best news to date is the progress with my parole situation. Since my last update letter, my lawyer filed a request for a parole hearing for me. I had the hearing on November 30, 2011. I met with two commissioners and they decided to advance my case to the next level of the parole process for persons with life sentences. That level requires a psychological evaluation, which means that sometime in the near future I will be transferred to another institution for a three month evaluation. This whole process is called a Risk Assessment, and once this level is completed the case goes before the full body of the parole commission. There are ten commissioners and a majority vote is required before the case can be sent to the governor who has the final right to approve or deny.

Thanks to all of you who wrote support letters or sent cards. One of the key reasons for moving my case forward was the enormous amount of community support reflected by those letters and cards. You all really helped, thank you once again. For those who did not know that this process was underway, it happened fast, but there is still time for you to write. The case will go before the full commission and the members will once again read the letters of support. So please continue to send letters requesting parole to:
Mr. David Bloomberg
6776 Reisterstown Rd.
Baltimore, MD. 21215 (more…)

Prisoner Exposes Abuse and Torture at Lanesboro CI

The following is from a letter written by a prisoner wishing to expose the long train of abuse visited upon inmates at Lanesboro CI, particularly those held in solitary:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I just read your “Black Rose” October 2011 News Bulletin and would like to elaborate on the issue presented concerning prisoners at Lanesboro CI in Polkton, NC.

I was a close custody prisoner housed at Lanesboro from March 9th, 2004 until November 26th, 2008, at which time I was transferred. During my stay at Lanesboro I was on several occasions subjected to chemical agents such as pepper spray, mace, and tear gas, while locked securely behind a steel door in a single cell where I posed no threat to staff, myself, or anyone else. This was done in response to alleged rule violations for which I was never even written up. (more…)