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A message from the editor

February 22, 2015

Dear 4sm readers, old and new, fellow political prisoners, revolutionaries, activists, allies, friends and supporters, 2015, will be a year of some necessary changes for www.4strugglemag.org.

From its beginning 11 years ago, 4sm set out to publish 3 hardcopy issues a year.  We also publish each edition online.  Until about a year ago we were mostly successful in coming out 3 times a year.  At this point we have put out 24 issues (all back issues remain online).  As you know prisoners receive 4sm for no charge and the online edition is also free.  The large majority of hardcopies are mailed to prisoners across the usa.  We do receive some donations and are always ready to accept paid subscriptions and donations.

The reality is, 4strugglemag is the primary voice of political prisoners in the United States.  4sm is a small and totally volunteer operation.  We are dedicated and committed to putting out this unique, independent, and we feel, necessary revolutionary voice of political prisoners.  In order to continue putting out 4sm, we will cut back to 2 hardcopy issues a year.  They will be published in July and December.  These two issues will also still be  published online.  In addition, 4sm will put up monthly updates, features and news articles online.  In total 4sm will be putting out more information, but only 2 paper magazine issues.

Keep sending us your feedback, insight and information.  And certainly, we always need your financial support too. You can subscribe and donate here.

For Freedom, Justice, Peace and the Revolutionary future our Planet and so many of its people need,
Jaan Laaman — editor + anti-imperialist political prisoner

Some Reflections on Comrades, The Spirit of Resistance, Struggle and Death

February 4, 2015

by Jaan Laaman – 4sm editor
2015 is almost a month old and my overall outlook has been optimistic and energized. With a months long new movement in the streets, fighting against government repression and police killings of unarmed men, boys and women too, mostly of color, for me it has been a time of gathering information and supporting and contributing to this new movement.

It is within this context, that I just received somber and hard information about two comrades of mine, two very good human beings, steadfast brothers and courageous fighters in the Freedom Struggle. I am talking about two friends of mine, both long held political prisoners — Phil Africa and Bill Dunne.

William Phillips Africa died on January 10, 2015, in the Pennsylvania state prison system, at SCI Dallas.
Phil Africa was one of the Move 9, all of whom have been in captivity since August 8, 1978. On that day, the Philadelphia police and other government forces launched an unprovoked assault on the Move home. The Move 9 are completely innocent women and men who were thrown into prison for 30 to 100 year sentences. They are all still in prison, except for Merle Africa who died in 1998, and now Phil.

Phil Africa never stopped struggling for justice and freedom, not only for the Move Family and his co-defendants, but for poor and oppressed people of all colors, across this country and around the world. Phil was a good man, intelligent and brave, thoughtful and caring. He could make you laugh and he was self disciplined and worked to stay in shape. He was a father figure, as well as a boxing teacher and sports coach to many younger men.

Phil’s death in the Pennsylvania state correctional institution at Dallas, came under very questionable and suspicious circumstances. See a more detailed posting on Phil’s death here.

My political prisoner brother and friend, Phil Africa, died in that Pennsylvania prison cell in his 37th year of captivity. Phil’s hardships and deprivations are now over. Phil was never a man who bemoaned the harsh, inhumane and injust realities he and other prisoners were forced to endure. Dying in prison is always a sad reality. Phil’s hardships are now over and that is a good thing, even while we mourn his passing. We should also question the circumstances surrounding his death and demand answers from Pennsylvania prison officials.

Continuing in this journey of hard news and harsh realities, let me share some information on another friend and fellow political prisoner, Bill Dunne. Bill is alive and I’m pretty sure in decent health. Like other political prisoners, Bill stays fit, in fighting shape, because it doesn’t matter how old you are or how many decades you have been imprisoned, the government and its agents never cease in their efforts to defeat you, break you and stop you in your/our struggle for justice, freedom and a revolutionary future of peace, equality and protection of our planet. So Bill, like all political prisoners, tries to keep the Spirit of Resistance firm and his body and mind fit.

Bill has been in captivity since 1979, that is for 36 years. He has been held in maximum security penitentiaries and special lock-down control units for all these years. In 2000, when he already had spent 21 years in prison, the United States parole board gave Bill a 15 year hit! That is, he was ordered to spend 15 more years in prison. Two months ago, Bill again appeared before the parole board and in a vicious act of inhumanity and hatred for the Freedom Struggle and Freedom Fighters, the U.S. parole board hit Bill with another 15 year set off! He is not eligible to see the parole board again until 2029. See a more detailed report on Bill Dunne’s parole hearing here.

The ugly reality is that there are political prisoners, courageous and noble leaders like Sundiata Acoli and Leonard Peltier, who have been locked up even longer; Sundiata has been in captivity for 43 years, Leonard for 39 years, and there are others like them.

The parole board’s primary questions, as well as its ‘justifications’ for ordering Bill to, quite likely, spend the rest of his life in prison, was his “continuing association and affiliation with anarchist organizations”, which was, “evidence you still harbor anti-authoritarian views…”

The U.S. government, through its parole board, made very clear that Bill’s real offense, like the so called crimes of all U.S. held political prisoners, was his political beliefs and associations. The activities Bill and other political prisoners may have taken in support of liberation and justice based political views is not the main “crime” in the eyes of the United States government. The ultimate “crime” is Freedom and Justice based revolutionary thinking and beliefs. Anarchist; socialist; communist, National Liberation for Puerto Rico, the Black Nation in the usa, the Native/Indigenous Nations; the Green ecological ideology of protecting our Earth and all its life against imperialist plunder, these are the “crimes” of political prisoners.

I am certain Bill Dunne will challenge and litigate this unprecedented second 15 year hit. I am also sure Bill will continue to work with the ABC collectives and other outside groups the parole board listed; the groups they so hated and feared.

I wanted to express my complete solidarity and support for Bill in his harsh ongoing struggle for justice, life and freedom. And I wanted to convey my heartfelt solidarity and revolutionary love to all the Move Family and Phil Africa’s closest people. We will always remember and be inspired by Phil Africa.

Sharing this information and reflecting on the types of realities that all political prisoners confront and have to deal with, I hope, gives you people outside, a little more understanding of revolutionary struggle and life behind prison walls. I do have some concern that perhaps some of you activists and people of conscience, may be overly intimidated by these realities of prison life. Engaging in the Freedom Struggle always has the potential of confrontation with the state and its abusive police power. This can include being thrown into prison. People should be clear about this. You should also be clear though, that even in extreme examples, like the heroic lives and struggle of Phil Africa and Bill Dunne, imprisoned Freedom Fighters can and do maintain their principles, their dignity and their will and ability to struggle. The more that people and the media, including the non-corporate media, are aware of and supportative of political prisoners and prison struggle generally, the more protection this provides us.

In the Spirit of Phil Africa —
let us remember,
Freedom Is A Constant Struggle!

Jaan Laaman – January 27, 2015

Rest in Power, Phil Africa

January 11, 2015

We are saddened to learn of the passing of MOVE 9 political prisoner Phil Africa.

m9

In his own words:

 

LONG LIVE JOHN AFRICA! On the MOVE!

My name is Phil Africa, I’m from Philadelphia and one of 13 children born to Frank and Maude Phillips. I’m a high school graduate and capable in a number of trades. Altho I’ve been involved in street life since a early age I was never arrested for anything until adult life, not that I was into anything other than growing up poor, in a big family in materialistic, racist 50-60’s America.

As most kids I ran the streets, partied, and played sports in my early teens.

At the age of 16 I was into drinkin, smokin cigarettes, weed, and had my first real contact with the racism of the Philadelphia police. I came to the defense of my older brother who had been stopped coming out of a check cashing place by cops. He was jacked up by them and they said “What is a young nigga doin with that kinda money,” when I stepped forward from the crowd of scared adults, who’d come to “watch” victimize another young Blackman. I attempted to explain how my brother had just cashed his check from workin at the PGA Hospital. Instead of the cops listening to what I had to say, I was snatched up by the neck by this big white boot cop (I was 14 or 15 at the time), told to “face the wall nigga,” at which point the cop proceeded to kick me once in the balls so hard I couldn’t breathe or scream out in pain! I was simply told to “get my Black ass home before I got what my brother was gone get” and as I laid on the pavement they put my brother in their car and drove off.

By this time I reached high school I was drinkin, smokin, sellin drugs, workin and a complete victim to the addictions of the streets this system use to enslave folk to it’s destructive ways.

In my last year of high school I began to feel a need to make some changes in my life. With the Vietnam War goin on, the Civil Rights Struggle, the Black Power Movements poppin up I began to look in more areas for some direction in my life, some solution to the problems I had cause I realized my life was full of complexes, insecurities, depression, hates, and questions. I knew I was on a self-destructive course where at one point I felt I’d never live to see 16, 18, 21 years of age! It’s how I and those around me were living at the time.

I looked to religions, the streets, drugs, education, the different Black movements, at the time, but found none able to offer the inner peace I sought, give me security of direction or give me answers to my questions.

In the early 1970’s I moved to a Powelton Village apartment around the corner from the MOVE Headquarters. I had no idea who or what “MOVE” was, who the man “JOHN AFRICA” was, however right away I saw a difference in these people called “MOVE,” a confidence, health, warmth, strength, security vibrated from them! They worked as a family everything they did and the information they spoke when talked to, “The Teachin” they called “MOVE Law,” the clarity of it, the absolute power of it reflected the source of it JOHN AFRICA! Long Live JOHN AFRICA!

The attraction, the pull on me to MOVE is as profound now as it was almost 30 years ago, in fact it is even more so now!

As one of the MOVE 9 I’ve been unjustly imprisoned since August 8, 1978. I’ve been thru both of the Camp Hill riots in ’83 and ’89 and have spent half of those 19 years in the hole-solitary confinement.

At the present time our P.C.R.A. appeals were denied and we are preparing to appeal to the Federal Courts. We do not expect “justice” from this system as JOHN AFRICA explain, this system ain’t got justice to give cause this system ain’t just, ain’t right!

JOHN AFRICA expose how this system can be made to do what’s needed when it is pressured to. Pressure-massive pressure is what the people must put on this system to save Mumia, end the death penalty, Free the MOVE 9 and all P.P.s and P.O.W.s–and most importantly, work with MOVE to bring about the end of this rotten reform world system!

Long Live JOHN AFRICA! On the MOVE!

In Total Revolution,
Phil Africa

 

onamove.com

The Empire hits! Bill Dunne denied parole

January 11, 2015

BY BILL DUNNE

bill
The U.S. Parole Commission conducted a hearing for a 15 year reconsideration of my case on 5 November 2014.  The last 15 year continuance (“hit”) was set to expire in December.  The hearing examiner went through the usual things:offender characteristics; the circumstances of my 1979 offenses; a 1983 escape attempt; ancient disciplinary infractions.  I was thinking a good outcome would be a one year date, a bad one, five years (and, having long experience with the agency of repression, expecting the worst!).  Then the examiner went unusual.  He unleashed a tirade about anarchist connections and anti-authoritarian views.  He recommended another 15 year hit on the basis thereof.  Four weeks later, I got a Notice of Action (NOA) from the commission adopting the recommendation and setting my next reconsideration for November of 2029.

The commission made much of the facts that I was on parole and the 1979 conspiracy included three armed bank robberies to finance the escape of a federal prisoner who had killed a customs agent. It also changed the assault of a Seattle police officer during the escape to attempted murder, using this change to raise my offense behavior category and guideline range.  It did so notwithstanding that I was not at the scene of the shooting, the shooter was paroled ten years ago, and having established the old category in 2000 and defended it through seven hearings and appeals. The real reason for the higher offense behavior category is that its guidelines have no upper limit.  I’ve already served more than the top guidelines under the previous, lower category.

The commission then added a specific amount of time to my parole guidelines for each disciplinary infraction I’ve had.  That came to (erroneously, but ad arguendo) 32-132 months.  Next, it singled out five of those infractions from 31, 31, 30, 25, and 19 years ago (attempted escape, knife, handcuff key, “uncompleted” handcuff key, escape paraphernalia — the second and last bogus) as indicative I was a more serious risk than my parole prognosis showed.  These infractions, the commission alleged without saying why, further justified exceeding the guidelines by so much as the 15 year hit.  It thus used the infractions to both raise and exceed the guidelines contrary to its own rules.

The commission required my codefendant to serve some 198 months on identical charges stemming from the jailbreak conspiracy, and our offender characteristics are virtually identical.  The 132 month maximum the commission’s rescission guidelines say should be added to my parole guidelines thus suggests a sentence in the range of 330 months for me. The commission and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) both agreed I had 344 months in at the time of the hearing.  (I actually had 421 months in, but they say the other 77 months went to the state time I got as a result of the same events.)  The commission also ignored the statutory injunction that “old law” prisoners like me should be paroled after 30 years, which would put me out no later than 18 March 2016, even under their erroneous calculation.

The commission shifted into political police mode, saying, “the Commission finds your continued association and affiliation with anarchist organizations is evidence you still harbor anti-authoritarian views that are not compatible with the welfare of society or with the conditions of parole.”  The NOA says zero about what it means by “anarchist,” “association,” “affiliation,” or “anti-authoritarian views” or why they might be problematic for society or parole.  The examiner did mention a few specifics and waved some printouts, but did not explain what was so wrong with their content.  He said I’d get copies, but so far I have not. There is no BOP or commission rule forbidding information by or about prisoners being published on the net.

The commission’s hearing examiner mentioned three sites: Prison Radio, LA-ABCF (Los Angeles Anarchist Black Cross Federation), and Denver ABC. None of them advocate violence or criminality.  They are posted by mostly working class and poor people who want to make their communities and world better places.  The examiner denounced “Running Down the Walls,” but did not say why.  RDTW is a running event sponsored every year by LA-ABCF for more than the last 20 in which people from many communities participate to express their opposition to the overuse of incarceration, especially for political purposes.  The Prisoners’ Committee of the ABCF, of which the examiner also disapproved for no stated reason, advises the ABCF on effective ways to support political prisoners, none of which involve illegality.  Nor is the committee’s advice always solicited or followed. Prison Radio produces broadcasts of news and information about prison issues from a radical left perspective but advocates no violation of the law.  All of these web sites post information about particular cases, prisoners, situations, and events their operators think the bright light of public scrutiny would help reach a more positive resolution.  They make their posts based on their own analysis and choices; they are self-directed and independent.  As for anti-authoritarian, that’s supposed to be the position of the government itself: “anti” authoritarian regimes such as Putin’s Russia, etc., and pro democracy.  The commission’s decision was the reverse.

The commission also said efforts to contact my codefendant were evidence I am likely to “reengage in similar criminal activity” if released, but does not say how so.  My codefendant was released from prison 10 years ago and from parole five years ago.  I don’t think he’s had so much as a traffic ticket in that time.  One would think the commission would want me to learn from him whatever it was he did to convince them to release him from both prison and parole.  No hearing examiner could tell me, and I asked at many hearings.

The commission apparently feels anything it deems anarchist — and, by implication, any radical left–political activity or connection warrants denial of parole. It denied me because it feels I am thus involved.  I’ve already served more time than could be reasonably assessed for my offense behavior and disciplinary record.  My codefendant’s offense role and offender characteristics are virtually identical.  Hence, the time demanded of me should be comparable plus prescribed disciplinary time. That total would be less time than I’ve already served.  Nor is politics any basis for parole denial.  The notion that mere correspondence with anarchists or my codefendant evidences criminal intent is simply frivolous: no print or pictures or audio to felonious intent were ever alleged, and there are no rules against such contact.  Nor has the commission ever objected before to these long-standing connections, and the BOP approved them.  Neither the “anarchist organizations” nor my codefendant has any criminal history during the relevant times.

The commission’s blatant use of such demonstrably inadequate and inappropriate reasons to deny my parole is remarkable. I have already filed an administrative appeal and will continue the appeal via habeas corpus against both the BOP and commission.  Not only are the unsupported, conclusory, and irrelevant claims cited for denying me parole a violation of the commission’s own rules, their use constitutes a gross infringement on the First Amendment.  That use violates what remains of my right to hold and express positive, progressive politics as well as that of the people and groups whose speech and association are undermined by such government attacks on political expression via the internet. I am confident that I and any comrades who have supported me by putting information by or about me or my politics into the public domain to protect me from the depredations of power have done so in good faith and not in any way that could legitimately be construed as “not compatible with the welfare of society.”  I’m confident we will not cave to such pressure to self-censor.

Write to Bill:

Bill Dunne #10916-086
FCI Herlong
Post Office Box 800
Herlong, California  96113

Cause for celebration: Eric McDavid released

January 8, 2015

images.duckduckgo.com_Dear friends and comrades,

It is with bursting hearts that we write to tell you some amazing news. Today, January 8, Eric was ordered released from prison.  It has been almost 9 years exactly since he was arrested in Auburn, CA, on January 13, 2006.

Eric’s release came about because of the habeas petition that he and his legal team filed in May 2012.  Because the government withheld important documents from the defense at trial, Eric’s original judgment and sentencing were vacated and he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge that carried a five year maximum sentence.  This means Eric has already spent four years longer in prison than could have been required under the statute for the charge he pleaded guilty to.  He received credit for time served and was ordered released.

Eric’s projected release date – until today – was February of 2023.

We are beyond thrilled that Eric will soon be back home with us, where he belongs.  But nothing can change the fact that Eric and his loved ones have had 9 years stolen from them by the state.  At times, this fight seemed almost impossible.  Eric endured hunger strikes, solitary, the separation of hundreds of miles from everyone and everything he loved, and the isolation and cold walls and wire of prison.  These things were meant to break him – but the state has utterly failed in this endeavor.  Eric remains steadfast and strong.  Eric fought the charges against him 9 years ago because he knew it was the right thing to do.  He has maintained his integrity all of these years by staying true to himself and to the things he believes in.   But he has not done this in a vacuum.  Thank you to everyone who has shown their love and support these last nine years.  It has made all the difference.  To everyone who has ever written a letter, sent drawings of dragons or pictures of fairies, or included pictures of something as simple as a blade of grass…  you have given Eric’s life color, fire and connection these past 9 years.  You have proven that our solidarity is our strongest weapon.

We are anxious to celebrate!  But we also must remember that Eric’s case is just one among many – and it is by no means the most egregious.  Since 9/11 the state has engaged in political prosecutions of hundreds of people in this country – the majority of them from Muslim communities – for their religious and political affiliations.  And our comrades continue to be targeted and arrested for daring to dream.  We are overjoyed that Eric is coming home.  But we also know that we must never rest until all are free.

Eric will soon be released from Sacramento County jail in a matter of hours, but his struggle is far from over.  He received two years of  supervised release and will be under their watch during that time.  Coming out of prison is a complicated and difficult journey,  but it is one that we are excited and ready to begin.

Thanks again to all of you – and a big shout out to Eric’s lawyers  – Mark Vermeulen and Ben Rosenfeld – who have worked tirelessly and passionately on his case for years, pro bono.

We will be in touch in the coming weeks.  Until then – celebrate!
Struggle!  And as Eric would say…Find UR Joy!

So much love to you all.

Until all are free!

SPS
sacprisonersupport.wordpress.com

The Cuban 5 are finally home!

December 17, 2014

BY ICFC5

cuban5shotThis morning after more than 16 years, the 3 remaining members of the Cuban 5 were finally freed and are now home in Cuba with their loved ones.  Gerardo has now been reunited with Adriana, Ramon is back with Elizabeth and his 3 beautiful daughters and Antonio is with his mother Mirta, the 84 year old tireless inspiration of this struggle, who feared she would die before she saw her son back in Cuba. And of course they are now reunited with their 2 other brothers, Rene and Fernando.

 This is a moment in which everyone in the solidarity movement with Cuba can rejoice. It is also a victory for the resilient people of Cuba who never wavered in their support for the Five who were always considered heroes of the homeland.

The Cuban 5 spent their time in prison with great dignity and energy and they always made it clear to us that their case was a political struggle that needed a broad movement to be victorious. And that is exactly what happened. What began as a small number grew into a formidable international movement that continued to gain momentum and influence to the point that the pressure was too much for the U.S. government to bare.

The Cuban 5 spent 16 too-long-years in U.S. prisons but today shows that with a collective struggle of the people justice will prevail.

International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5

Hugo (Yogi Bear) Pinell – denied Parole on May 2nd

June 11, 2014

In 1964 Yogi Bear was sentenced to 3 years to life, and quickly became politicized upon his entry into the California Department of Corrections. Being fluent in both English and Spanish he was able to help bring together and organize prisoners in the various prisons he was at in the CDC.

After a prison rebellion occurred in Yogi Bear’s unit at San Quentin in 1971, he and 5 others were put on trial for their part in the uprising. They have since been known as The San Quentin 6. He was convicted of assault on an officer and still remains in prison in California today.

Yogi Bear has not received a single write up since 1981, and has been in solitary confinement since 1990. He is out of the torturous conditions of the S.H.U unit in California State Prison – Pelican Bay, but has been moved to the S.H.U in a different prison in Represa, CA.

Yogi Bear has persevered despite the conditions he’s been forced into over the years. He is a very warm human being and a strong one at that, who stands for social justice and human rights. On May 2nd, Yogi Bear was denied parole. He is not due for a parole hearing for another five years. This will not defeat him. He is still shadow boxing during his rec time in his assigned cage outside, and he is still writing powerful letters that have a real gentleness to them. Check out his support site to stay up to date, it is: hugopinell.org , and write a letter to show him and the CDC just how much support he has from all over. Here is his address:

Hugo Pinell #A-88401

B-FAC. FB3-125

CSP – Sacramento

PO Box 290066

Represa, CA 95671-0066

Yours in solidarity,

Sacramento Prisoner Support

sacprisonersupport@riseup.net

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