Hello interested readers, activists, fellow revolutionaries, friends and comrades, to issue 25. Yes, it has been over a year since our last issue, 4sm 24, came out in Spring of 2014. We have had several obstacles and problems to deal with. Our printers, good movement activists and great professional printers, have had their own struggles with the state, but are now back in operation. Most hard copy subscribers are receiving both issues 24 and 25 in this mailing.
You will see from our revised “Welcome to 4strugglemag” on the inside cover, that we have had to change our printing schedule. 4sm is now producing 2 hardcopy issues a year. One in July/August and the second issue in December. We will now be publishing on this new schedule. Your material/monetary support is always needed.
This issue has many important and informative selections. You’ll certainly want to check out Jalil’s “Future Focus” analysis and call for action. We also have a great interview with Lynne Stewart and her husband Ralph. There are lots of updates and information about political prisoners. With the continuing police killings of so many men, women and even children of color, you should check out “Thoughts on Killer Cops – MOVE/May 13”. This issue is full of useful information. As always, we welcome your feedback and original writings, letters and poems. We’ll see you in issue 26, out in December. And for all you online readers, 4strugglemag.org online now posts new material and information early each month.
Freedom Is A Constant Struggle!
Jaan Laaman, editor
P.O. Box 24550
Tucson, AZ 85734
I am sending a poem that I hope can become your “theme poem.” I based it on your editorial column… I had a discussion with a few brothers that I felt did not understand fully what oppression was, but being a humble man, I realize it’s possible I myself have a limited view, I wondered how many others understand it. If so, can you oppress the oppressor?
Also, I would like to learn exactly what a political prisoner is. There are so many terms: PPOC, POC, PP, etc. that I feel it should be explained. From my knowledge George Jackson was considered a political prisoner, but it was something he became while incarcerated as opposed to being locked up for political reasons. If you can orchestrate a dialogue on that, I’d appreciate it.
1300 Western Blvd.
Raleigh NC, 27606 USA
Note: See 4sm issues 12 and 13 for an earlier version of our “Glossary,” a collaborative and evolving list of definitions. In future issues, we will continue to explore and work together to define terms that are useful to our analysis – so feel free to suggest others.
By COMRADE WAZO
I am against suffering
I am against buckling
I am against any and everything other than
What I am 4… struggling
Of oppressive conditions
Orchestrated by the select
For protecting their interests
Their possessions are senseless
Too excessive, expensive
While the rest of us skimping
So, yes, I am against them
But the masses I am with them
When attacking the system
Because I am against
I am 4 the just
The equal, the free
I am 4 war
In order to achieve peace
I am against facism
I am against racism
I am against agent provocateurs
And their fakism
Of political prisoners
I am 4 the release
I am against the strong
Who are exploiting the weak
In solidarity I speak
With the tongue of the streets
With the heart of the revolutionary
In the belly of the beast
If you are 4 socialism
Are 4 no more trouble
If you are 4 a change
They you must be 4struggle
[Below we share a letter from Tonio X, a long-time reader and supporter of 4sm. This reached us quite a while after it was sent, but we still wanted to share his words.]
I have for years, received and read all of your pamphlets and enjoyed reading every bit of them. Your pamphlets have kept me moving in these death camps, ‘cause they kept me focused on my real enemy in this struggle.
Your pamphlets made me adjust lots of my views – and views of those who I have always shared your pamphlets with.
Before I get too ahead of myself, I want to greet all my comrades with a revolutionary clenched fist. Without us there would be no revolution, the world needs people like us so they can point and say, there goes the people who are agitating the status quo.
I consider all of you my comrades ‘cause even though we are not side by side fighting those forces (enemies) who are trying to keep us silent, we are in spirit. Even though I’m behind these prison gates, and you all are on the other side, our fights are the same, ‘cause we are all the same people.
I love learning from your pamphlets, so I hope you keep sending them to me. It has been a while since I received one. The last Issue I recall receiving was with the picture of a good friend of mine – Geronimo Ji-Jage. He taught me a lot within the struggle, he taught me not to give up, ‘cause once you do then they will come pouncing.
So I say, keep those pamphlets coming. It’s not August, a month which we refer to as Black August, a month of remembrance. We remember all of those who came before us, and among us, it’s also a time when we gather together to remember how the past fallen brothers and sisters have given their lives in the struggle for the people, including not forgotten brothers and sisters who are engaged for speaking up and for challenging this rotten system.
We must remember in 1831 a Black man rose in the midst of slavery and proclaimed to the world that no man, woman and child was meant to be property of another person. This man stood strong, a man we all of an Afrikan descent recognize as Nat Turner. He is a symbol for all of us in the struggle. I always remember him because his spirit lives in me.
I also remember others who made way for us to follow; I remember David Walker (Walker’s Appeal), Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. DuBois, Malcolm X, George Jackson, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth.
In the trenches,
By MICHAEL MACKIE
Formidable are the locks
Which stand sentry to your thoughts
Resistance courses your heart
As the Black Panther walks —
At your side, oh Mu’Mia!
Our Black Shining Prince;
And that’s ever since…
Brother Malcolm’s demise.
From the Phoenixes’ charred ashes
Like smoke you will rise!!!
Paragon of the struggle,
For we see you and love you…
Standing ready to rumble,
Should your captors prove careless.
As cold as they are,
Yet your spirit remains fearless!
In solidarity with the Star —
That you are–
Comrade Pather Jamal!!!
Exceedingly clever and extremely calm,
Yet as torrid as Napalm —
Your words and verbs,
Are like the Mother Of All Bombs!
Brandishing such nerve.
Making “All Things Considered,”
As you’ve blazingly shown,
That Fire can’t be censored,
When it’s “Live From Death Row!”
Cynthia White wasn’t right;
Daniel died by his own.
Fixed was the fight,
At Lady Injustice’s Throne…
Yet for 29 years,
Borne by Blood,
Sweat and Tears,
Her scales wavered in the balance.
For Justice NEVER cared about —
Me nor You, oh Abu of The Truth…
Still the morrow awaits,
For it breathes for you!
Which means to turn back now provides no solution;
We have come too far —
Long live The Revolution!!!
An ode to Mu’Mia Abu Jamal.
Submitted by reader Calvin Davis
December 2014: Cuban 5 Released
From the speech of Gerardo Hernandez to the international solidarity movement for the Cuban 5 at the Palace of the Conventions, Havana, May 2, 2015:
“We still face the battle to free Oscar López too, so that he can enjoy freedom as we do today. We still have Mumia Abu-Jamal. We still have Leonard Peltier. We still have other compañeros who are political prisoners. The committees in solidarity with the Five that supported us so much must see what we can do to end these injustices, too.
We want Oscar and the other compañeros to know that the Five, now that we are free, will continue remembering you and supporting you.
See: “The organizers who never gave up on the Cuban Five” on page __.
1/8: After serving nearly 10 years in prison, the judgment and sentencing against green anarchist Eric McDavid was vacated when it became known that the FBI had failed to disclose potentially exculpatory evidence to the defense.supporteric.org
1/15: Norberto Gonzalez Claudio was released from prison, and began his journey back home to Puerto Rico. When he arrived he was welcomed by a crowd of supporters. prolibertadweb.org
1/16: After spending nearly two decades in federal prison, Tsutomu Shirosaki was released to an immigration facility, and later deported to Japan.
1/27: Marissa Alexander, a survivor of domestic violence from Jacksonville, FL, spent 3 years behind bars for defending her life from an abusive husband. She is now sentenced to two years of house detention while being forced to wear and pay for a surveillance ankle monitor. freemarissanow.org
3/13: Anarchist prisoners Carlos López, Amélie Pelletier and Fallon Poisson were released from Mexico City (Amélie and Fallon deported back to Canada) 325.nostate.net
4/16: Brent Betterly was the second of NATO 3 to be released. Prior to the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago, three Occupy activists were arrested and eventually charged with 11 felony counts. See update on Maya Chase below. freethenato3.wordpress.com
5/16: Plowshares prisoners Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed were released. Eighty-five year-old activist nun Rice told Mother Jones that it felt “Not that much different, because none of us is free… and it looks like we are going to go on being un-free for as long as there is a nuclear weapon waiting.”
6/1: Kevin Chianella (from Queens, NY) was released after a 2 year prison sentence for his participation in the G20 protests in Toronto in 2010.
Please remember that prisoner support doesn’t end when a comrade is released. Through halfway houses, supervised release, parole, or probation, there is usually state supervision beyond the initial sentence. Also, prison is traumatic. And of course there is the stigma of being a former prisoner that affects nearly every aspect of one’s life. All of this adds up to the less obvious, but equally necessary, support needed when our loved ones come home.
09/2015: Eric King, a 28-year-old vegan anarchist, was arrested and charged with an attempted firebombing of a government official’s office in Kansas City, MO. The criminal complaint states that both alleged incendiary devices failed to ignite. Scheduled to go to trial in July 2015, he is facing up to 30 years in federal prison.
Since his arrest last September, he has been extremely isolated from his loved ones and has been targeted by the guards, who have repeatedly put his safety in jeopardy. Eric is being held in the segregation unit and has been assured that during his time at CCA Leavenworth he will remain in segregation. Despite these struggles, he continues to maintain his good spirits and his resolve to see his legal situation through to the end. He is also maintaining his dedication to struggling for a world free of domination and oppression. supportericking.wordpress.com
1/21: U.S. journalist Barrett Brown was sentenced to 5 years 3 months, for charges related to the 2011 Stratfor hack. freebarrettbrown.org
1/21: Anti-mining activist Katie “Krow” Kloth was sentenced to 9 months in county jail. This Eco-Warrior has been in custody in the Iron County, WI jail since early February 2015 for standing up to Goegebic Taconite which was trying to level the ancient Penokee hills to create the world’s largest taconite mine. earthfirstjournal.org
1/22: Jason Hammond was sentenced to 41 months in prison after accepting a non-cooperating guilty plea for his role in a militant direct action directed at white supremacists in the suburb of Tinley Park. freejasonhammond.blogspot.com
3/12: Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh sentenced to 18 months for allegedly giving false answers on her immigration applications. Rasmea is a 67 year old Palestinian American community leader who was tortured by the Israeli government in 1969. Her case is part of a larger campaign against Palestinian leaders, institutions, and community members; as well as an example of government repression waged against oppressed nationalities, anti-war, social justice, and international solidarity activists. justice4rasmea.org
6/12: After over 43 years of solitary confinement and wrongful conviction, on June 8, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge James Brady ruled that the Angola 3’s Albert Woodfox be both immediately released and barred from a retrial. The Court has extended a stay of release at least until the time that it issues its ruling later in the fall. See “Will Albert Woodbox be freed?” on page __. angola3.org
7/2015: Kevin Johnson and Tyler Lang pleaded to a single count of conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. They each face up to 5 years at their upcoming sentencing hearings. supportkevinandtyler.com
Please help to make sure that Kevin and Tyler feel a lot of love and support during this time while they are in prison and awaiting sentencing. Send them a letter, donate to their commissary, and continue to work to help animals.
Long-time 4strugglemag supporter and artist Peter Collins passed away August 13, 2015 at 2 a.m. He will always be remembered for his endless fight for justice, his sense of humour, his kind heart and his unwavering integrity. His contributions to changing the world we live in will continue to live on through his art, cartoons, audio recordings, short films and his writing. His spirit will live on through our hearts and minds as he deeply touched so many of us.
Over the coming months there will be memorial services held in Ottawa, Kingston, Montreal and Toronto.
There is so much to say about the lack of proper care that he received but we will write more about that later. facebook.com/PeterCollinsSupportCommittee
Mumia Abu-Jamal remains weak, ill, and in the prison infirmary.
Five months after being admitted to the hospital with lethal blood sugar levels and in renal failure, he continues to have debilitating skin rashes, open wounds and swelling across his lower extremities. Because of our relentless demands for medical testing and treatment, we finally know the likely cause of his severe ailments: Hepatitis C.
But what is news to us is not news to his jailers. Prison officials have known that Mumia was Hep. C positive since 2012 – and have done nothing.
Even now that prison doctors know that Mumia’s Hep. C is active – from testing they performed solely because we demanded it – they are refusing to provide treatment.
Today, we are going back to court to demand justice for our brother.
Mumia’s legal team (Bret Grote of Abolitionist Law Center and Robert Boyle of New York) is filing an amended lawsuit today, ‘Abu-Jamal v. Kerestes’, to include medical neglect and demand immediate treatment.
Meanwhile, Prison Radio is working tirelessly to make sure Mumia’s legal and medical team have the necessary resources to get Mumia the critical care he needs.
And we can’t do it without you.
We need your help today to ensure that the prison treats Mumia’s Hepatitis C now!
Mumia’s Skin Disease and Mass Incarceration as Lethal Threat
by MARK LEWIS TAYLOR
Mumia Abu-Jamal’s fight today for his physical health exposes the pervasive inhumanity of US mass incarceration’s very nature. It is a lethal system.
Abu-Jamal is currently incarcerated in a Frackville, Pennsylvania state prison, serving a Life Without Possibility of Parole sentence (LWOPP). That began after nearly 30 years on death row for a death sentence that courts ruled unconstitutional in 2011.
But Abu-Jamal’s imprisoned body is now confined in another way. He is encased from head-to-toe by a skin disease that has remained undiagnosed since January. Dr. Johanna Fernandez, Fulbright Scholar and historian at Baruch College/CUNY, who has visited Abu-Jamal regularly for over a decade saw him this past Saturday, June 13, and her report includes these descriptive phrases:
*A leather patch now covers Abu-Jamal’s whole body
* He is told his hemoglobin levels have been going down
* His skin . . . is “really, really dark and leathery” from head to toe
* His face seemed a bit swollen and darker that I’ve ever seen it
* Two finger tips have visibly cracked lesions that look painful
* He still has open lesions on his legs
* His feet and toes were very swollen
* Prison infirmary doctors tell Abu-Jamal, “when the body is healing itself it releases fluid”
* Nurses and specialists at the nearby Geisinger Medical Center, where Abu-Jamal received professional and humane treatment for a brief time in May, report they “have never seen a case like this before”
Abu-Jamal’s tightening and painful leather encasement of his body is a kind of prison within the prison for him. Indeed, for nearly all the confined, especially for the sick and elderly, the chronic systems of medical mistreatment in US prisons forge another imprisoning sphere, one of sickness, desperation and dying.
Moreover, stunningly, no diagnosis for this condition has been given to Abu-Jamal, his family or attorneys. For 6 long months, the prison has proven incapable of diagnosing this serious attack on Abu-Jamal’s health. Along with the skin disease, he developed diabetes triggered by prison doctors’ experimental application of steroidal cream. Despite documented, elevated levels of blood sugar in the prison infirmary, doctors there did nothing to address the fatally high blood sugar spikes until he collapsed and went into diabetic shock. His blood sugar registered at 779, accompanied also by a catastrophically high sodium level.”
Not surprisingly, though, the prison has been quite capable – indeed relentless – in keeping Abu-Jamal’s weakened body in custody. Only national and international advocacy successfully forced his transport from his guarded prison infirmary to outside medical centers. Even then, he was kept hidden from family, friends and lawyers. He was monitored 24/7 by a full six prison guards while at the hospital, where he also was kept shackled to his bed, even during medical testing.
In short, prisons prioritize security procedures over medical care. They know no other way.
This is mass incarceration’s war on life and health. University of California law professor Jonathan Simon writes in his 2014 book, Mass Incarceration on Trial,
. . . the very things that define mass incarceration as a distinctive mode of punishment – its scale, its categorical nature, and its prioritization of custody over reform or rehabilitation – all predict that intensified health crises will be an inherent problem (88).
Simon’s words are about California, a state where even the courts now have found persistently incompetent medical care to be a form of torture and a violation of the Eighth Amendment against “cruel and unusual punishment” (89). Simon emphasizes that in California “litigation had begun for the first time to define mass incarceration as the source of unconstitutional conditions” (108, emphasis added).
Any who may have desired Abu-Jamal silenced and dead – and Pennsylvania officials have made no secret about the strength of this desire – have only to wait upon the prison system to do its work. Mass incarceration kills. This is not death by old age. Mass incarceration makes one “elderly,” unduly vulnerable to disease and debilitation. It is the manufacture of premature, high-risk aging. Analysts argue that by age 55 one should be categorized as “elderly” in prison – many lower that age to 50 for all who are incarcerated more than 10 years. The ACLU’s in-depth analysis “The Mass Incarceration of the Elderly” calculates that by 2030 the number of those 55 and over in US prisons will skyrocket to over 400,000, this being a 4,400% increase in elderly prisoners since 1981 when mass incarceration rates began to rise exponentially.
This chronically lethal system, though, also includes prison guards who assume their own right to torture and kill prisoners. They have been known to intentionally handle patients roughly. Bureau of Justice statistics report that prison guards and staff are responsible for as much as half of sexual assaults in prison. Court-mandated studies document “systematic hostility of correctional officers to medical treatment for prisoners and to those who provide it” (Simon, 101). Prisons themselves are lethal cultures, simmering with a tension that Columbia University Law Professor Robert Ferguson describes in his book, Inferno, as always prone to violence, a violence that guards come to desire (95-137). Prison personnel can kill for various reasons, as in Florida in 2014 when 346 prisoners were murdered by law enforcement and prison guard personnel.
The New York Times ended a 2014 editorial, “The American experiment in mass incarceration has been a moral, legal, social, and economic disaster. It cannot end soon enough.”
But no one has written about precisely these matters for so long and as directly, eloquently and for so diverse a set of audiences as has Abu-Jamal himself. Across eight books – a new one being published just this year – and thousands of essays in venues as diverse as Street News, Forbes, and the Yale Law Journal, Abu-Jamal has opened the public’s eyes to the multiple ways of the US killing state.
It is Abu-Jamal’s powers of pen and voice for exposing the state’s ways of death and torture, and for a mass readership among the poor and voiceless, that has driven US officials to seek his death for decades – first by execution, and then now, failing that, by the prison system’s own chronic modes of lethal assault. Abu-Jamal is an effective catalyst for change because he is marked as a “public enemy no. 1″ figure by the U.S. killing state while remaining a catalyst for a wide-array of social movements against the state’s structural violence.
The people for whom Abu-Jamal writes have kept him alive. Winning his release now would be a public event of value to any justice-loving people. Abu-Jamal will need well deserved rest and restoration. But with his release must come also a coalition of social movement work – to end mass incarceration. This means ending its torture of hundreds of thousands of elderly in its clutches. It means ending the warehousing of the mentally ill, more of whom are in jails and prisons than reside in state psychiatric care facilities. It requires terminating the brutal culture of death that mass incarceration institutionalizes. In short, it is time to dismantle the US killing state that uses its prison system to control and terrorize anyone whose revolutionary work means building truly alternative institutions that can safeguard a comprehensive freedom – especially for the long colonized, exploited black and brown communities and for the growing numbers of the poor today.
This all can begin with the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal today.
The People with Disabilities Caucus of the People’s Power Assembly joins the international progressive community in condemning the attempted execution by medical neglect of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Writing from behind the walls of the prison-industrial complex, internationally renowned political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal is known for exposing the racist foundation of capitalism, from mass incarceration of people of color in for-profit prisons to U.S. war and intervention abroad.
Unjustly convicted of killing a police officer, Mumia has spent 30 years in prison, until recently in solitary confinement on Pennsylvania’s Death Row. His demand for a new trial and freedom is supported by heads of state and prominent politicians in France, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America and by Nobel laureates Nelson Mandela, Toni Morrison, Desmond Tutu and others.
Mumia is now seriously ill. He is suffering from life-threatening diabetes, full body skin disease, weight loss of 80 pounds in the last two to three months, extreme dehydration, multiple neurological symptoms, [including] uncontrollable shaking, slurred speech and loss of memory with fugue states. He now uses a wheelchair. Mumia’s family and friends hold the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections directly responsible for neglect, malpractice and inadequately addressing the alarming deterioration of his health. Only if he is released will he be able to get the proper medical care to give him a chance at recovery.
Prisons are a disability issue. Mass incarceration has resulted in the jailing of people with mental, developmental, emotional and physical disabilities in disproportionately high numbers. Many are unjustly incarcerated. Once in jail, they often receive inadequate treatment for their disability or no treatment at all. This violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which guarantees prisoners with disabilities the right to adequate health care.
As activists in the disability rights movement, we demand that Mumia, and all prisoners with disabilities, be immediately granted full medical rights, as protected by the ADA.
We demand that Mumia be able to see a doctor of his choice. We demand that Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been imprisoned for decades for a crime he never committed, be released immediately.
We urge you to join us in phoning and emailing:
- Secretary of the Department of Corrections, John Wetzel, to demand that Mumia be treated by a doctor of his choice. 717-728-2573; racrpadocsecretary@ pa.gov
- Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to demand that the state halt attempts to execute Mumia by medical neglect. 717-787-2500; fax 717-772-8284; email@example.com
We also urge you to circulate this statement as widely as possible.
People with Disabilities Caucus of the People’s Power Assembly