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Call for Art and Article Submissions: Health/Care

April 6, 2018

What: A call for art and article submissions on Health/Care for the 2019 Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar.

Deadline:  May 18, 2018

The Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar collective (www.certaindays.org) is releasing its 18th calendar this coming fall. The theme for 2019 is ‘Health/Care,’ reflecting on the overlapping topics of health, care/caring, and healthcare.

We are looking for 12 works of art and 12 short articles to feature in the calendar, which hangs in more than 3,000 homes, workplaces, prison cells, and community spaces around the world.

We encourage contributors to submit both new and existing work. We also seek submissions from prisoners – please forward to any prison-based artists and writers.

THEME GUIDELINES

In 1972, The Black Panther Party formally added healthcare to its ten point program:

WE WANT COMPLETELY FREE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL BLACK AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE

We believe that the government must provide, free of charge, for the people, health facilities which will not only treat our illnesses, most of which have come about as a result of our oppression, but which will also develop preventive medical programs to guarantee our future survival.

Then, as now, health in all its dimensions — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, environmental, community — remains fundamental to liberation. Some of the topics that could be explored within this theme could be:

  • health care and medical neglect in prison
  • movement healthcare projects (anything from the Black Panther Party free clinics, to current projects providing both western medical and other forms of health support)
  • radical reproductive health projects, past and present
  • the politics of care work in its myriad forms (care for people living with illness and/or disability, childcare, elder care, etc)
  • mad pride and resistance to forced psychiatric treatment
  • aging and health issues in prison
  • disability and health
  • Indigenous healing and other non-western health practices and projects
  • trans health projects and activism
  • radical organizing among health care workers and/or in defence of public healthcare
  • medical parole
  • strategies for, and stories of, (collective and individual) self care within movements

FORMAT GUIDELINES

ARTICLES:

• 500 words max. If you submit a longer piece, we will have to edit for length.

• Poetry is also welcome but needs to be significantly shorter than 500 words to accommodate layout.

• Please include a suggested title.

ART:

1. The calendar is 11” tall by 8.5” wide, so art with a ‘portrait’ orientation is preferred. Some pieces may be printed with a border, so it need not fit those dimensions exactly.

2. We are interested in a diversity of media (paintings, drawings, photographs, prints, computer-designed graphics, collage, etc).

3. The calendar is printed in colour and we prefer colour images.

Due to time and space limitations, submissions may be lightly edited for clarity, with no change to the original intent.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

1. Send your submissions by May 18, 2018 to info @ certaindays.org.

2. ARTISTS: Please send images smaller than 10 MB. You can send a low-res file as a submission, but if your piece is chosen, we will need a high-res version of it to print (600 dpi).

3. You may send as many submissions as you like. Chosen artists and authors will receive a free copy of the calendar and promotional postcards. Because the calendar is a fundraiser, we cannot offer money to contributors.

Prisoner submissions are due June 8, 2018 and can be mailed to:

Certain Days c/o
Burning Books
420 Connecticut Street
Buffalo, NY 14213
USA

ABOUT THE CALENDAR

The Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar is a joint fundraising and educational project between outside organizers in Montreal, Hamilton, New York and Baltimore, with three political prisoners being held in maximum-security prisons in New York State: David Gilbert, Robert Seth Hayes and Herman Bell. The initial project was suggested by Herman, and has been shaped throughout the process by all of our ideas, discussions, and analysis. All of the members of the outside collective are involved in day-to-day organizing work other than the calendar, on issues ranging from refugee and immigrant solidarity to community media to prisoner justice. We work from an anti-imperialist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, feminist, queer and trans positive position.

 

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Oppose the new directive from DOCCS eliminating food packages

January 7, 2018

The thugs who run the NYS prison system (NYS DOCCS) have issued a new directive (4911A) that describes new, draconian package rules that they are testing in 3 facilities as a ‘pilot program.’

Currently, at most facilities, family and friends can drop off packages at the front desk when visiting- packages that include fresh fruit and vegetables that supplement the high carb/sugar, meager diet provided by DOCCS.

These new rules are problematic in a lot of ways including:

1) Packages can be ordered only from approved vendors.

2) Fresh fruit and vegetables are not allowed.

3) Family and friends cannot drop off packages while visiting. All packages must be shipped through the vendor.

4) Each person is limited to ordering three packages a month for him or herself and receiving three packages a month from others. Each package cannot be more than 30 pounds. Of the 30 pounds per package, only 8 pounds can be food.

5) Allowable items will be the same in all facilities. (No more local permits.)

6) There are far fewer items allowed than before and of the items that are allowed, far less variety. This includes additional restrictions on clothing.

7) Groups like NYC Books through Bars, Inside Books Project, and South Florida Prison Books will not be able to send free books to the 52,000 people in the NYS prison system.

 

The pilot program implements an “approved venders only” package system. This means that only packages from approved vendors will be accepted. The vendors appear to be companies that specialize in shipping into prisons and jails. There are currently five approved vendors identified on the DOCCS website. This amounts to a cash grab for these companies.

The pilot program is starting at three facilities: Taconic, Greene, and Green Haven. Those facilities stopped accepting packages from non-approved vendors on January 2, 2018.

We have to make this package directive unworkable. These new rules are cruel- eliminating fresh fruit and vegetables and creating massive profits for the vampire companies that will fill the niche.

 

WE CAN ORGANIZE TO ROLL THESE RULES BACK.

Some ideas how:

1-Sign the petition- share it with your address book, share it on Twitter, share it on Facebook. It takes two seconds.

https://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/no-package-restrictions-for-nys-prisoners 

2-Get in touch with your people in NYS Prisons and let them know about this new policy.

3- Flood the electeds with postcards. Send one to Governor Cuomo and one to Anthony Annucci, the acting commissioner of DOCCS. It costs 34 cents.

Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of New York State

NYS State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224

 

Acting Commissioner Anthony Annucci

NYS DOCCS

Building 2, State Campus

Albany, NY 12226

 

Some sample text:

Dear Governor Cuomo,

Prisoners should have access to fresh fruits, vegetables and other support from their families. I object to the new DOCCS package rules.

From,

(Your Name)

(Your relationship to people in prison, if applicable)

 

Dear Acting Commissioner Annucci,

The new DOCCS package pilot punishes innocent families. Having a loved one in prison is already expensive and difficult—the new rules make it worse. Rescind the package pilot!

From,

(Your Name)

(Your relationship to people in prison, if applicable)

 

4) Write a letter to both of these people (address above)

 

5)Call Cuomo’s office and leave a message about it. You won’t have to talk to anyone. Just leave your message.

518-474-8390

 

6) Email

Cuomo: http://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form

Annuci anthony.annucci@doccs.ny.gov

 

7) Tweet at Cuomo: @NYGovCuomo

8) Write your NYS Senate and Assembly reps as well:

9) Get media to cover it especially outfits like Democracy Now and the NY Times

 

Links:

Petition

https://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/no-package-restrictions-for-nys-prisoners

 

NYC Books through Bars letter to Cuomo:

https://booksthroughbarsnyc.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Statement-against-4911A.pdf

 

Media:

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/families-forced-pay-basic-items-inmates-article-1.3706046 

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/inmate-advocates-urge-cuomo-ditch-package-rules-prisons-article-1.3712078

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/doc-facing-backlash-new-prisoner-package-system-article-1.3735439

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2018/01/04/the-latest-big-win-for-prison-privatization?ref=hp-2-111

https://www.hudsonvalley360.com/article/families-can%E2%80%99t-send-packages-direct-inmates-greene-correctional-under-new-doccs-program-0

Jaan Laaman transferred to USP McCreary in Pine Knot, Kentucky

December 28, 2017

Avoids Transfer to CMU, After Long Period in Segregation

As of December 28, 2017, Jaan K. Laaman, long-time anti-imperialist political prisoner, has been transferred to USP McCreary in Kentucky — after being held in segregation at USP Tucson for over 270 days — over 8 months. Please write Jaan at his new address right away so he feels the love. We want the prison to be aware that he is supported by folks and we have his back.

Please send greetings & love to:

Jaan Laaman #10372-016

USP McCreary

U.S. Penitentiary

P.O. Box 3000

Pine Knot, KY 42635

We’re happy to report that Jaan is back in general population! While at Tucson, Jaan was held in segregation (minimum 23 hours a day, locked down in a 6×9’ cell) since his birthday on March 21, 2017. Jaan was placed into segregation because of two short messages which were shared with his close family and friends: this statement in support of the “Day Without a Woman Strike” (International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017) which was printed in the NYC Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) update, and “Farewell Thoughts to My Friend, Lynne Stewart” which was broadcast on Prison Radio on March 9, 2017. Prison officials made the absurd claim that these statements ‘threaten the security of the prison.’

Transfer to CMU Prevented!

Jaan was threatened with transfer to a Communications Management Unit (CMU) because of these statements. Jaan’s pro-bono attorney, Paul Gattone filed a lawsuit challenging the attempt to transfer Jaan to a CMU. Paul is a people’s lawyer who practices in the areas of civil rights and criminal defense, and an owner of Revolutionary Grounds infoshop in Tucson, AZ.

Preparing for Parole Hearing:

Jaan is a Freedom Fighter and Must Come Home!

Preventing Jaan from being transferred to a CMU was the first goal. Jaan is an Elder (69 years old) and needs to be brought home. Jaan should be home with his siblings, family and loved ones. Jaan is a freedom fighter who was convicted of actively fighting some of the worst crimes against humanity in recent history–US backed atrocities like apartheid in South Africa and genocidal wars in Central America. Jaan is a lifelong anti-racist and anti-imperialist. We need his vision and voice at home now more than ever. This work to bring Jaan home will be led by Jaan and folks on the outside that Jaan identifies to lead up this effort. Please let us know if you would like to help in this effort. Jaan and all political prisoners must be brought home and we can make it happen!

This update was written by friends of Jaan Laaman. Contact: jaanlaaman@gmail.com; Facebook: Free Jaan Laaman; Twitter: @4StruggleMag. Learn more about Jaan here and here

This update was written by friends of Jaan Laaman. Contact: jaanlaaman@gmail.com Facebook: Free Jaan Laaman Twitter: @4StruggleMag

Support Herman Bell’s Attempt at Parole

November 26, 2017

Political prisoner Herman Bell’s next parole attempt will be taking place in February 2018. As you probably all know, it’s been a difficult fall for Herman, as he was assaulted viciously by guards earlier this year. However, his health is recovering and he has been so deeply touched by all of the support that he was showered with from all of you. And of course beating the charges was such an incredible win!Because of the tremendous support Herman received behind the assault, and because activists in New York recently succeeded in having the worst parole commissions removed from the parole board in NY state, and new parole commissioners appointed in their place, many of us feel this 8th time will be his best chance yet of finally getting out of prison, after four-and-a-half decades. We’re all most certainly going to put forward our very best efforts toward this goal.

pdf packet is linked to here containing information re: parole-support letters for Herman. The due date for all letters is December 15, 2017. The address of where to send the letters is in the attachment. All of the information contained in the attached documents can also be found on Herman’s website, on the Parole Efforts tab (freehermanbell.org). We are trying to focus on getting letters from “influential” people, on getting letter from people who have met or corresponded with Herman, and having as many letters as possible on professional letterhead. Also, ideally letters would be mailed rather than emailed.

This is an important initiative; Herman has spent most of his life behind bars, a result of the U.S. government’s war against the Black Liberation Movement. It is time we got him out!

David Gilbert’s Looking at the U.S. White Working Class Historically

November 26, 2017
David Gilbert's Looking at the U.S. White Working Class HistoricallyLooking at the U.S. White Working Class Historically tackles one of the supreme issues for our movement, the contradiction embodied in the term “white working class.” On the one hand there is the class designation that should imply, along with all other workers of the world, a fundamental role in the overthrow of capitalism. On the other hand, there is the identification of being part of a (“white”) oppressor nation. Gilbert seeks to understand the origins of this contradiction, its historical development, as well as possibilities to weaken and ultimately transform the situation. In other words, how can people organize a break with white supremacy and foster solidarity with the struggles of people of color, both within the United States and around the world?

Gilbert began this project in the early 1980s, while in jail facing charges stemming from his activities in the revolutionary underground. It  started as a pamphlet reflecting on writings about race and class by Ted Allen, W.E.B. DuBois, and J. Sakai.  In the 1990s, Gilbert added a retrospective essay, reviewing lessons from the 1960s and the New Left he had been active in at the time. Over the years, Looking at the White Working Class Historically (as it was known in previous editions) has been widely circulated across multiple waves and generations of activists. As Gilbert writes in the introduction to this 2017 edition, this text remains the most popular of his writings for younger radicals seeking to build movements against racism.

This new edition contains all the material from previous versions (including an essay by J. Sakai), along with a new introduction, Gilbert’s take on the election of Donald Trump, and an extensive new text surveying changes in the global political order since the 1960s. More than ever, Looking at the U.S. White Working Class Historically explores and illuminates perspectives for radical change and resistance to racism in the United States today.

 

What People Are Saying

“This book embodies what I have come to expect from all of David Gilbert’s writings: precision insight tempered with humanity, nuanced historical analysis for the purpose of learning lessons, and an everpresent willingness and even insistence on questioning everything, especially his own work. Gilbert’s honesty in his introduction about what this book lacks strengthens rather than weakens its impact – He does not pretend to have all of the answers, instead insisting the only right answer is a collective one. He invites conversation and critique rather than running from it, highlighted so clearly with a rebuttal by one of the people’s work he delves into. This book, like the politics needed to build a new future, shows struggle as the dynamic living growing creature it is.” —Walidah Imarisha, author of Angels with Dirty Faces: Three Stories of Crime, Prison, and Redemption, and co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements

“David Gilbert’s analytical clarity, commitment to universal justice, and unswerving integrity shine through his words.” —Barbara Smith, founding member of the Combahee River Collective, and of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press; Consulting Editor, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me
Around: Forty Years of Movement Building With Barbara Smith.

When Malcolm X said John Brown was his standard for white activism, he could have easily meant David Gilbert. He is our generation’s John Brown. His support of Black liberation as a method of freeing the world is to be studied, appreciated, and applied.” —Jared A. Ball, author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto, and professor of Media and Africana Studies at Morgan State University

“If we want to organize white people against racism and for racial justice, if you want to build up a broad-based majority for economic, racial, and gender justice, if you are enraged at the devastation of structural inequality in our lives and on our planet, then this book is key.  Class inequality is organized through white supremacy, and the ruling class strategy of divide and rule of pitting working class and poor white people against communities of color, must be understood.  David Gilbert gives us historical analysis to understand this ruling class strategy, and how we can unite white people across class to a collective liberation vision with racial justice at the center.” —Chris Crass, author of Towards the “Other America”: Anti-Racist Resources for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter

 

About the Author

David Gilbert, a longtime anti-racist and anti-imperialist, first became active in the Civil Rights movement in 1961. In 1965, he started the Vietnam Committee at Columbia University; in 1967 he co-authored the first Students for a Democratic Society pamphlet naming the system “imperialism”; and he was active in the Columbia strike of 1968. He later joined the Weather Underground and spent a total of 10 years underground.

David has been imprisoned in New York State since October 20th, 1981, when a unit of the Black Liberation Army along with allied white revolutionaries tried to get funds for the struggle by robbing a Brinks truck. This tragically resulted in a shoot-out in which a Brinks guard and two police officers were killed. David is serving a sentence of 75 years (minimum) to life under New York State’s “felony murder” law, whereby all participants in a robbery, even if they are unarmed and non-shooters, are equally responsible for all deaths that occur. While in prison, he’s been a pioneer for peer education on AIDS and has continued to write and advocate against oppression. He’s been involved with the annual Certain Days Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar since 2001 and has written two books from prison that are available from Kersplebedeb: No Surrender and Love and Struggle, as well as the pamphlet Our Commitment is to Our Communities: Mass Incarceration, Political Prisoners and Building a Movement for Community-Based Justice.

You can write to David at:

David Gilbert #83A6158
Wende Correctional Facility,
3040 Wende Road
Alden, New York 14004-1187

 

Looking at the U.S White Working Class Historically can be ordered from leftwingbooks.net here

Or order from AK Press here, or Amazon.com here

The press sheet for this book (pdf) can be downloaded here

Herman Bell’s charges dropped and moved to Shawangunk

October 7, 2017

http://www.freehermanbell.org

Herman Bell now in general population! He was told that the charges will be dropped! From Herman (written earlier) with many thanks for all of our efforts:

September 27, 2017

My dear brothers and sisters,

Thank you for the outpouring of cards, letters, healing-love and energy that you sent me in response to the unprovoked brutal assault on me by NYS prison guards at Comstock, NY – a vicious slap aside the head from behind and shoved to the ground. I protected myself as best as I could. I sustained multiple kicks, punches to the face and eyes, repeated head slams into concrete, and 2 cracked ribs. They tried to bury me with raining blows, not knowing that I am a seed. But the burning pepper spray sprayed into my eyes and mouth is what did me in – and yet, here I am.

Now I know why visitors bring flowers and candy to the hospital. I was immediately sent, however, not to a hospital but to the Box for “assault on staff,” so the cards and letters and love you sent me were my flowers and candy. You did great!

I was astonished, not by the outpouring of your support, but by the enormity of it.

People are coming together and are standing up. They are finding that they are not entitled to the rights and freedoms they think they have as americans. Instead of the consideration americans – many of them voters – deserve, they are ignored by authoritarian and elected officials.

They lack healthcare, suffer from unrestrained police violence, mass incarceration, lack a living wage, experience poverty and homelessness, and suffer from a toxic environment. People are standing up against these injustices, insisting that their demands be respected and addressed.

The social injustice, jackboot repression, racist attacks, discrimination, wealth disparities, unemployment, lack of affordable housing (the list doesn’t just end there), creates waves of fierce discontent which ls gaining steady momentum, becoming a full-blown cleansing tsunami, the force of which is irresistible.

And that force is you, the People, coming together and taking a stand. My flowers and candy is your outpouring of support for me, our political prisoners, the mass incarcerated and the voiceless.

To write each of you (I’ve literally received hundreds of letters) a personal “thank you” at this time would be impossible. So, I send this “thank you!” instead.

Thank you! I thank you deeply one and all for the empathy, outrage, love and support you’ve expressed in the face of the assault on me. May our resolve to produce social change remain unshakeable.

Herman Bell
79C0262
​Shawangunk Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 700
Wallkill, New York 12589

Political Prisoner Herman Bell Assaulted

September 11, 2017

Black Panther Party political prisoner Herman Bell was viciously assaulted by guards at Great Meadow Correctional Facility (Comstock) on September 5, 2017.  While being “escorted” by a guard back to his housing unit, a guard struck Herman, age 69, in the face causing his glasses to drop to the floor.  This same guard then repeatedly punched Herman about the face, head and body.  Responding to a commotion, 5-6 other guards arrived and joined in the assault.  One of them was able to knee Herman in the chest causing two cracked ribs.  Another guard took out a bottle of mace and sprayed it all over Herman’s face, eyes and mouth.

Herman was then taken to the prison infirmary.  X-rays have confirmed fractured ribs.  Herman’s left eye is damaged from the mace and blows.  He has bruises to his body and is suffering headaches, a sign of a possible concussion.

Herman Bell has now been charged with “assault on staff”.  Defying common sense, they allege that Herman, for no apparent reason, slapped the guard escorting him.   He did this, they claim, in a location out of the view of all inmates but in the presence of other guards. He is now in the Special Housing Unit (box) at Five Points Correctional Facility where he was transferred after the incident.

Herman Bell has not had a disciplinary violation in over 20 years.  He was scheduled to begin a three day family visit with his wife a few days after the incident, their first such visit in over 2 1/2 years.  In addition he is to appear before the parole board, for the 8th time, in February 2018.

Herman has, however, been the target of guard harassment due to his political background.  Visitors report that guards processing them and in the visiting room comment that they are visiting a “cop killer” or “terrorist”.  Some guards have been seen passing around the book “Badge of the Assassin” written by Herman’s prosecutor.

At this time, we are encouraging everyone to take the time to write to Herman or send him a get-well card, so that the authorities know we are paying attention and are concerned for Herman. Stay tuned for updates as we develop this campaign.

Herman Bell’s new address is:

Herman Bell #79C0262
Five Points Cor. Fac.
P.O. Box 119
Romulus, N.Y. 14541​