4strugglemag’s resident artist, Rashid Johnson, urgently needs your help.
Sign this petition to demand that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice complies with the following:
1. Immediately provide medical attention to Kevin “Rashid” Johnson before returning him to a decontaminated cell
2. Immediately return/replace his stolen legal materials and commissary items
3. Prosecute the guards who gassed Kevin “Rashid” Johnson for neglecting post-contamination procedure
4. Protect Clements Unit guard Britta Townsend from physical and administrative retaliation
5. Stop the gassing of prisoners at Clements Unit
Why is this important?
On Wednesday, December 21, 2016, a prisoner at the Texas Clements Unit, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, was gassed in his cell while handcuffed from behind. A letter written by Mr. Johnson to a supporter, dated December 22, 2016, reported that his gassing was “all retaliation for my involvement in exposing the foul abuses here.” Kevin “Rashid” Johnson is a well known scholar and prison activist who has dedicated his efforts to exposing the civil and environmental injustices behind bars.
His most recent letter also reads:
“I’m in a gas-covered cell now. The law requires that they decontaminate a prisoner and his cell anytime they spray gas on him/her. They refused in my case. My sheets and bedding are covered in bright orange gas, underwear too, as is the cell wall.” According to the supporter who received Rashid’s letter, she could smell the toxic gas as soon as she opened the envelope.
The vicious treatment of Mr. Johnson is part of a clear pattern. There is evidently a culture among prison staff that encourages such sadistic behavior. What they have done and continue to do — both to Mr. Johnson and to thousands of other victims — constitutes a clear violation of basic human rights.
A signed statement from prison guard Britta Townsend corroborates that Mr. Johnson was confined to a gassed cell that was not decontaminated and forced to sleep with sheets covered with the bright orange gas. According to Mr. Johnson, Ms. Townsend now fears that she will be targeted by her peers and higher ranking officers.
Carol Saucier, Ray Luc Levasseur and I write today to ask that you help our dear sister and former co-defendant, Barbara Curzi. Barbara is a former political prisoner, one of the Ohio 7, who, after their arrests in Ohio in 1984, went on trial for actions by the United Freedom Front against corporations who upheld apartheid in South Africa and contributed to the wars in Central America. (Please donate).
Unfortunately, Barbara was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer. She is beginning an intensive six-month chemo regimen and then is expected to undergo surgery, possibly followed by radiation. Barbara lives in Greenfield, Massachusetts with her cats and dog and hopes she can keep her home while she fights this terrible disease. Barbara hasn’t been well for a while most especially since she lost her beloved son, Ricky (whose father is political prisoner, Jaan Laaman) five years ago. The more health problems she had, the more she has struggled financially to keep a roof over her head and is now dangerously close to losing that.
She was about to get a part-time job just before her diagnosis,to supplement her disability check but now instead finds herself way behind not only on her mortgage and utilities, but can’t get Internet and phones services back until she pays them off completely. Fortunately, the amount to keep her in her home and get her back to functioning, is not so insurmountable that we can’t raise enough to at least take those worries away from her. Once caught up, Barbara would still need some support to keep up with her monthly expenses, while waging this battle. Her struggle will be compounded by additional expenses related to trying to get better, including travel and integrative treatments, among other things. Suffice to say that she is in dire straits and those of us who love and respect her, want to reach out to others who can chip in whatever they can to help alleviate her burdens.
Barbara served 7 years of a 15 year sentence she received after conviction in Brooklyn, New York for Conspiracy. She returned to Massachusetts after her release from the federal prison system to rebuild her life with her children. As many former prisoners, and especially political prisoners, Barbara has struggled to find work and survive, but she is still deeply committed to the struggle for justice.
If you would like to contribute to the effort to minimize the stress for Barbara, and help her make it through this battle, please see the linked “Go Fund Me” page at: https://www.gofundme.com/barbaras-loving-circle-2w49vnqs
Barbara’s daughters, Lucia and Nina Colombaro, have set up a “Lotsa Helping Hands” page to help organize care and comfort for Barbara, so if you think you can help with practical matters or would like to follow Barbara‘s progress, please see: mycancercircle.lotsahelpinghands.com/c/737929/
Donations received will go directly to Barbara to help alleviate her troubles. Please spread the word by sharing this email and contribute whatever you can. Thank you.
Long time revolutionary , and former Political Prisoner, Bo Brown‘s health
Bo was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, a disease that is not as well
known as but very similar to Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s however it is very
likely that this will soon lead to Parkinson’s. Some of the unfortunate
features of Bo‘s medical condition are falling due to a lack of awareness,
fainting, and then there’s the seizures. Bo has had eight seizures since
January of this year. Also, Bo has made it very clear that she’d like to
live at home for as long as possible. The current shower at her house is a
bath tub, shower combination, and the tub has a high wall, so the need for
a new shower to suit Bo‘s needs is now an urgent issue.
With the unfortunate news of Bo Brown‘s diagnosis and all that comes with
it, there are plenty of individuals doing what we can to support Bo
through these tough times. There are medical expenses that the funds here
will be directed to as well as the very specific shower that is more
conducive then her current one to her condition.
It is so important that we support our comrades through the tough times.
Bo Brown has worked tirelessly against racism, sexism, homophobia,
transphobia, and has brought awareness and attention through all means to
the plight of the prisoner. She hasn’t forgotten about the Political
Prisoners either and we definitely should not forget about the current
Political Prisoners or the former. Prison is a tough road to travel , and
then there’s the weeks , months and even decades that pass in the post
prison period, but the prison experience doesn’t ever leave. From growing
up in Klamath Falls to the federal prison time in Alderson , WV to the
current struggles that she now faces in Oakland CA where she resides, Bo
has been fighting all her life.
Help us show Bo the kind of support that she deserves. Let’s raise this
$10,000 for her!
Thank you so much! We’re going to need all the help we can get!
Prisoners from across the United States have just released this call to action for a nationally coordinated prisoner workstoppage against prison slavery to take place on September 9th, 2016.
This is a Call to Action Against Slavery in America
In one voice, rising from the cells of long term solitary confinement, echoed in the dormitories and cell blocks from Virginia to Oregon, we prisoners across the United States vow to finally end slavery in 2016.
On September 9th of 1971 prisoners took over and shut down Attica, New York State’s most notorious prison. On September 9th of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.
In the 1970s the US prison system was crumbling. In Walpole, San Quentin, Soledad, Angola and many other prisons, people were standing up, fighting and taking ownership of their lives and bodies back from the plantation prisons. For the last six years we have remembered and renewed that struggle. In the interim, the prisoner population has ballooned and technologies of control and confinement have developed into the most sophisticated and repressive in world history. The prisons have become more dependent on slavery and torture to maintain their stability.
Prisoners are forced to work for little or no pay. That is slavery. The 13th amendment to the US constitution maintains a legal exception for continued slavery in US prisons. It states “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” Overseers watch over our every move, and if we do not perform our appointed tasks to their liking, we are punished. They may have replaced the whip with pepper spray, but many of the other torments remain: isolation, restraint positions, stripping off our clothes and investigating our bodies as though we are animals.
Slavery is alive and well in the prison system, but by the end of this year, it won’t be anymore. This is a call to end slavery in America. This call goes directly to the slaves themselves. We are not making demands or requests of our captors, we are calling ourselves to action. To every prisoner in every state and federal institution across this land, we call on you to stop being a slave, to let the crops rot in the plantation fields, to go on strike and cease reproducing the institutions of your confinement.
This is a call for a nation-wide prisoner work stoppage to end prison slavery, starting on September 9th, 2016. They cannot run these facilities without us.
Non-violent protests, work stoppages, hunger strikes and other refusals to participate in prison routines and needs have increased in recent years. The 2010 Georgia prison strike, the massive rolling California hunger strikes, the Free Alabama Movement’s 2014 work stoppage, have gathered the most attention, but they are far from the only demonstrations of prisoner power. Large, sometimes effective hunger strikes have broken out at Ohio State Penitentiary, at Menard Correctional in Illinois, at Red Onion in Virginia as well as many other prisons. The burgeoning resistance movement is diverse and interconnected, including immigrant detention centers, women’s prisons and juvenile facilities. Last fall, women prisoners at Yuba County Jail in California joined a hunger strike initiated by women held in immigrant detention centers in California, Colorado and Texas.
Prisoners all across the country regularly engage in myriad demonstrations of power on the inside. They have most often done so with convict solidarity, building coalitions across race lines and gang lines to confront the common oppressor.
Forty-five years after Attica, the waves of change are returning to America’s prisons. This September we hope to coordinate and generalize these protests, to build them into a single tidal shift that the American prison system cannot ignore or withstand. We hope to end prison slavery by making it impossible, by refusing to be slaves any longer.
To achieve this goal, we need support from people on the outside. A prison is an easy-lockdown environment, a place of control and confinement where repression is built into every stone wall and chain link, every gesture and routine. When we stand up to these authorities, they come down on us, and the only protection we have is solidarity from the outside. Mass incarceration, whether in private or state-run facilities is a scheme where slave catchers patrol our neighborhoods and monitor our lives. It requires mass criminalization. Our tribulations on the inside are a tool used to control our families and communities on the outside. Certain Americans live every day under not only the threat of extra-judicial execution—as protests surrounding the deaths of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and so many others have drawn long overdue attention to—but also under the threat of capture, of being thrown into these plantations, shackled and forced to work.
Our protest against prison slavery is a protest against the school to prison pipeline, a protest against police terror, a protest against post-release controls. When we abolish slavery, they’ll lose much of their incentive to lock up our children, they’ll stop building traps to pull back those who they’ve released. When we remove the economic motive and grease of our forced labor from the US prison system, the entire structure of courts and police, of control and slave-catching must shift to accommodate us as humans, rather than slaves.
Prison impacts everyone, when we stand up and refuse on September 9th, 2016, we need to know our friends, families and allies on the outside will have our backs. This spring and summer will be seasons of organizing, of spreading the word, building the networks of solidarity and showing that we’re serious and what we’re capable of.
Step up, stand up, and join us.
Against prison slavery.
For liberation of all.
Find more information, updates and organizing materials and opportunities at the following websites:
By Jaan Laaman
More than 2.4 million human beings are imprisoned in the US.
This massive incarceration-overwhelmingly aimed at people of color and criminalizing youth makes the US by far the greatest purveyor of punishment in the world.
Among these millions are a number of political prisoners, and among these courageous sisters and brothers is Herman Bell. Herman Bell has been a political prisoner in the US for nearly 40 years. When national liberation and revolution rocked the world in the 1960s and 70s, Herman was active in the social justice movements of those times, particularly the Black Liberation movement and the Black Panther Party.
Support Herman’s parole here: freehermanbell.org
January 22nd 2016
Happy New Year, Family and Friends! Many, many thanks for so much support
and care over this year from both long-standing friends and new pen pals.
I feel very grateful and am always humbled by the encouragement and
resources sent my way by folks who are doing so much already to increase
our collective chances for survival. The news has been full of stories
about someone winning the big money pool that has accumulated for the US
Lotto – but the most important “win” has nothing to do with money. I am
betting on the movement to win big this year: in getting more control over
their communities and defending against police brutality and racial
inequality, in winning more victories for animal and in the defense of
wild spaces, in creating social relations based on respect, dignity and
compassion for all people….irregardless of their race, orientation,
creed or gender presentation.
Thank you for coming together today, to hold up those members of our
community who struggle so hard behind walls to keep their sense of self
intact. Sovereignty over our selves, our bodies is essential for any other
kind of liberty to be possible. By reaching out to trans prisoners, you
affirm their right to define themselves for themselves – and defend them
against the overwhelming voices who claim that they do not exist, that
they must allow others to define them. In the isolating environment of
prison, this is toxic and intimidating, and amounts to the cruelest form
of psychological torture. By offering your help and solidarity, you may
just save a life. I know that for thelast year and a half, as I have
struggled to assert myself as a transman, as I have advocated for the
relief of appropriate medical care for my gender dysphoria – it has been
the gentle and loving reminders of my extended family of supporters who
have given me strength and courage to continue. Please join me in offering
this help to so many others who need it to keep going. Never underestimate
the healing power of a letter, those letters have kept me going…and I
want to pass that gift on, if you will help me.
Thank you again for coming together on this day, for connecting to those
on the inside who truly need you, who need you to see them as they really
are and striving to be. Until the prisons are gone, we need to work hard
to support those of us inside – especially those of us who are not always
as visible to the rest of the world. We are always stronger together.