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Update from Daniel McGowan

February 10, 2008

July 26, 2007

[Daniel McGowan is an environmental and social justice activist. He was charged in federal court on many counts of arson, property destruction and conspiracy, all relating to two incidents in Oregon in 2001. Until recently, Daniel was offered two choices by the government: cooperate by informing on other people, or go to trial and face life in prison. His only real option was to plead not guilty until he could reach a resolution of the case that permitted him to honor his principles. As a result of months of litigation and negotiation, Daniel was able to admit to his role in these two incidents, while not implicating or identifying any other people who might have been involved. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison on June 4, 2007 and began serving his time on July 2, 2007.]

I’m pretty convinced at this point, nearly 20 months after my arrest, that I am incredibly lucky to have the best support network I have ever seen, the aptly named Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan. No offense is meant to any other defendant (or prisoner) support group, but I’ve only experienced the love and support of my crew.

That intense support – moral, legal, financial and otherwise – has made all the difference to me and it’s why I write today with acceptance of my current situation and with clear conscience. Ok, maybe not full acceptance – I mean, I still have eyes and ears and can see what is going on in America’s prisons.

I can remember a conversation I had in early January 2006 with my wife jenny. I was in Lane County Jail in Oregon and my bail hearing was a few weeks off but she told me, “We put a website up for you –” That news helped sustain me through my 23 hour lockdowns knowing my friends had my back and the country would soon hear about the Green Scare being promoted by the good ol’ US of A. To name or attempt to list the many things my support network has done would be a failure. The list is too long and surely I would forget many things. More than things I could list are the intangibles – the subtle and not-so-subtle hints – “Either way, we got your back”, “I don’t care if you did it or not”, “We’ll be here to the end”. Most recently, I’ve had people remind me they will be there with a hug the day I walk out of these prisons.

This will sound cliché, and it is, but maybe that’s a sign you are doing something right. Mail call is my favorite time of the day! You’ve heard this before, maybe from Josh Harper, Peter Young or Jeff Free Luers and others. Since I’ve been here at MDC, I have been embarrassed (in a good way) over and over, each and every day by the insane amount of mail, books and magazines I get. It keeps me reading for hours and although I cannot write people back right now, I at least have a mountain of mail to chip away at. I get this mail because my support network sends out countless bulletins on my list, myspace, IMCs, etc and has printed over 250,000 flyers with my mug on it and because my wife works her ass off on my website. I could go on forever praising people but it can never fully express how thankful I am for all of the support. Solidarity is what makes this term on the “disabled list” doable. (sorry for the sports reference – I stole that one from a friend.)

As always, please keep my codefendants Sadie (statename Joyanna Zacher), Exile (statename Nathan Block) and Jonathan Paul (set to be sentenced in early August) on your mind and in your hearts. All of us are or will be in federal transport soon – a very stressful and chaotic affair.

Finally, I’ve read a few good books lately and highly recommend them: Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground by Cleo Woelfle-Erskine (Editor), Laura Allen (Editor), and July Oskar Cole (Editor) (2007). This anthology of writings on water range from dam removal, international water struggles and Manifest Destiny to grey water system construction. This book made me long for the outside where I could set up a grey water system in my own backyard. Published by Soft Skull Press and available there or through AK Press.

The Fight in the Fields: César Chávez and the Farmworkers Movement by Susan Ferriss (Author), Ricardo Sandoval (Author), Diana Hembree (Author). I was so hopelessly ignorant of the plight of farmworkers in California before reading this excellent book. I still am but realize there is a tremendous amount to learn from this hard-working and fairly successful movement. It also made me think a lot about the recent campaigns against Taco Bell and Burger King by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida.

Love and rage,

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