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Freedom Fighter Sekou Kambui Needs Your Help!

May 15, 2015

This veteran of the Civil Rights movement needs your help through tough times.

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Sekou Kambui spent forty years behind bars as a political prisoner, and now he needs our help! The former Panther, CORE, and SCLC member was diagnosed with liver cancer shortly after his release, and has been in and out of the hospital for cancer treatment as well as other health problems, including severe edema in his leg. The edema requires almost weekly trips to the hospital to have fluid drained from his leg, an expense in time and money he can’t afford. Though chemotherapy has produced encouraging results so far, the medical bills keep piling up. Despite his poor health, Sekou has continued his work with the organization he founded in prison, the Social Consciousness Development Group, and has continued to speak publicly on behalf of U.S. Political Prisoners. Now he needs our support to get through the trying times ahead. Help Sekou Kambui continue his long fight for justice in good health!

Support Needed for Anarchist Facing Federal Trial

May 15, 2015

The Eric King Defense Committee

http://supportericking.wordpress.com/

Eric G. 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 in September 2014. Eric is being charged with throwing a hammer through a window of the building, followed by two lit Molotov cocktails. 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.

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Eric was identified as a suspect by local police because he had previously come under suspicion for anti-government and anti-police graffiti. He is currently being held in the Corrections Corporation of America’s Leavenworth Detention Center.

Since his arrest last September, he has been extremely isolated from his loved ones and has repeatedly been targeted by the guards, who have repeatedly put his safety in jeopardy. 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.

We are asking for funds to help us support our comrade as he continues to weather the deplorable jail conditions. His trial may get pushed back yet again before it actually happens, which would mean more time for him to sit in the private jail awaiting his day in court. The funds collected through this campaign will go towards:

* phone calls with friends and supporters to prevent him from being isolated
* the costs of books and shipping to help him pass the time inside (much
of which has been in solitary confinement)
* commissary to help him purchase toiletry items and vegan food

*helping folks be able to come support him and pack the courtroom for Eric’s trial

These funds will not be used for legal defense or bail. He is being represented by the federal public defender and thus does not have any pending legal fees.

Every donation helps us support Eric that much better, which will help keep him stronger and more able to fight back against this state repression!

Thoughts on killer cops and the May 13th, 1985, MOVE massacre

May 13, 2015

By JAAN LAAMAN
Almost every day the news hits us with another case of a man, a youth, sometimes even a woman, shot, choked, or beaten to death by cops.  Almost always the victims are people of color and usually the killer cop is white.  We are hearing a lot more about these cases, and that is probably because the brutality and killings are captured on video.  It is a lot harder for the government and mainstream corporate media to ignore these cases when the images are presented and seen on various social media platforms.

The sad and hard reality is that cops have been injuring and killing people, especially people of color for years and years.  Many of us might remember the names of some decades old victims: Clifford Glover, Eleanor Bumpers, Rodney King, Sean  Bell, so many other.

We are coming up on the 30th anniversary of probably the most horrid modern day police killing of 11 people, including 5 children.  On May 13, 1985, the Philadelphia police surrounded and besieged the home of the Move Family in a Black neighborhood in Philadelphia.  Move was and is a community and revolutionary organization that advocates for issues like natural and healthy nutrition, animal rights, opposition to government repression and corruption, including a long time exposure of and resistance to abuses and killings by the Philadelphia police department.

Rashid-MOVE

Art by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

On that May 13 morning, 30 years ago, the cops surrounded the home.  First they fired tear gas, and soon they began shooting bullets into the house.  Over 10,000 rounds were fired into that house.  Neighbors and live TV media were watching this police siege and assault.  After some hours the police launched an outrageous and horrible escalation of their assault.  A police helicopter swooped down over the house and dropped a bomb on the roof.  The bomb exploded sending pieces of the roof and house flying.  The bomb also set off a fierce fire, which soon spread downward across the whole house.  The fire also spread to the houses on both sides of the Move home.  Although fire trucks were on hand, the cops refused to allow firemen to fight the fire.  Ultimately the entire square block of 61 houses burnt to the ground.  Dozens of families, over 200 people, had their homes and all their possessions completely destroyed.

As the flames were engulfing the Move home, a back door opened and some women and young children tried to run out.  Police opened fire on these women and children, driving most of them back inside.  Ramona Africa, clutching one young boy, Birdie Africa, ran through the bullets and made it out alive.  These were the only two survivors of this police massacre.
Eleven Move family members dead.  A bomb, made by the FBI and given to the Philadelphia police department, is dropped on the roof of a family home.  The bomb explodes and begins a fire.  The fire department is not allowed to put the fire out, and one entire square block of houses is burnt to the ground.
From this entire series of deadly and horrible events, how many people, would you suppose, were held accountable, faced criminal charges or went to prison?  One person, Move member Ramona Africa, who ran through police bullets and saved young Birdie Africa, was the only person who was charged and she went to prison for 9 years.  No police, government officials, fire department personnel, the cop who dropped the bomb or the helicopter pilot, were held accountable or charged with any crime.  11 people dead, 61 houses burnt  and not one cop or government official was held accountable for anything.
Police killings in Philadelphia and across the U.S. have continued.  But the public’s knowledge about such killings and people’s outrage and resistance has also continued, and in this past year has grown into a national movement against killer cops and government repression.
This Movement today is a proper memorial to the Move members and children who died 30 years ago.  We can never forget those who died and we must put an end to cops randomly killing, men, women and children.
This is Jaan Laaman, your political prisoner voice — until next time, remember, Freedom Is A Constant Struggle!

May Day greetings from Jaan Laaman

May 1, 2015

Well hello my friends – family — MayDay has always been a holiday I have
celebrated, enjoyed, supported and shared.  Here in 2015, I certainly
believe that MayDay is as important and necessary to raise up, talk about,
shout about, take it to the streets and MORE…!!   And people are taking
to the streets in Baltimore and yesterday around the country and in many
towns and cities, that most of us don’t even hear much about.  A new wave
of outrage and disgust at the cops and the system they protect and serve
is rippling across this imperialist beast of a nation.  It is part of a
long chain of similar protests and resistance, but a new and vigorous
generation is taking some real initiative right now — so what more can I
say — follow the youth and give them some guidance as well.  As my old
comrade Bill always says “The Future Holds Promise!” MayDay-MayDay — a
warm and Red Revolutionary MayDay salute and greeting to you! –jaan

JAAN KARL​ ​​LAAMAN​
#10372-016
USP Tucson
P.O. Box 24550, Tucson, AZ 85734

Urgent update on Mumia

April 15, 2015
ACTION ALERT
Facebook
Twitter
Prison Radio Website
We are keeping our “Eyes on Mumia”. Your support has enabled his family see him. On Thursday Mumia’s wife Wadiya Jamal visited him. She shared with us that his weakened state continues, and she is deeply concerned that he still has not had the appropriate care and diagnosis–  and in fact has been returned to the environment that allowed his chronic but treatable conditions to nearly kill him.

We demand that:

1) Mumia’s chosen private physician has immediate regular phone access to Mumia in the infirmary. Phone access is limited in the infirmary, and Mumia and his physician need to be in conversation throughout each week.

2) His doctor be allowed to communicate freely and regularly with the prison infirmary physicians who are currently overseeing Mumia’s care.

3) The PA Department of Corrections (DOC) allow Mumia’s doctor to schedule an immediate Independent Medical Examination in an examination room with a table and medical instruments.

4) The PA DOC develop a diagnostic and treatment plan adequate to understand any underlying conditions that have contributed to his current ongoing crisis, and that consultation with appropriate specialists be arranged in a timely fashion and be used to assist in this effort.

We need a mass mobilization of calls and letters to:Tom Wolf, PA Governor
717-787-2500
governor@PA.gov
508 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg PA 17120

John Wetzel, PA Department of Corrections
717-728-4109
1920 Technology Pkwy, Mechanicsburg PA 17050

John Kerestes, Superintendent- SCI Mahanoy
570-773-2158 x8102
Fax: 570-783-2008

Rising out of his infirmary bed to reach out to us, Mumia recorded a commentary that night. Now we need to reach out to him.On Saturday from his wheelchair in the visiting room, Mumia discussed the steps necessary that both he and his outside doctors and supporters have to take for him get the care he needs. His attorney, Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center, discussed the ongoing efforts to pursue immediate diagnosis and adequate treatment for his medical conditions.

On Monday Mumia met with Suzanne Ross, again in a wheelchair, in the visiting room and only for an hour to preserve his strength. She noted that although he remained very sick, his mind was sharp and focused.

Please know that it is your calls, faxes, emails, and letters that have literally kept Mumia with us.

Mumia Abu-Jamal has provided to the world a body of work that is a heartbeat of resistance; brilliant and incisive. It is now our turn to take care of our brother and make sure that he has the support and treatment he needs.  

The next few weeks are crucial to making sure that he receives appropriate care. Pleasecontinue calling. Continuing rising up. Stay involved.

Wadiya Jamal visiting Mumia last Thursday at SCI Mahanoy.
Our Call for Support:
Mumia’s Medical Fund
With 18 days left, we want to give everyone a chance to make Mumia’s Medical and Legal Fund possible.

We’re calling on you to help us get Mumia’s medical fund to $40,000, now!

In an unstoppable mobilization of support, 414 supporters from around the world joined our Indiegogo Campaign and raised $21,720 in 14 days! When we launched the Campaign, we didn’t think we could raise more than $20,000. But the truth is that we need to raise double that to get Mumia the medical care and legal assistance he urgently needs.

Please click here to support Mumia with a gift of $25, $52 or even $10 now!

We are in the thick of the struggle to keep Mumia alive and healthy. Mumia’s chosen outside doctor is reviewing his medical records while we’re pushing to allow phone communication between the two; and we’ve spent over 100 hours of legal fees for Mumia. And we need your help to defend Mumia’s right to medical and legal access now

Join us to defend Mumia’s life! Now is the time! 

Send get well cards to Mumia

April 8, 2015

Greetings friends and comrades, I went with other folks from DC to Join Pam &  Ramona Suzanne Ross and Ms. Fernandez at the PA. Dept of Corrections. While Ramona, Suzanne, Megan, Kwasi, Simile, myself and others from Pittsburgh, Philly and NYC attempted to have a meeting with John Wetzel head of the DC. We were not allowed to stay in the foyer but instead made to stand in a “Staging Area” out side away from the building for the safety and security of the bldg & workers. Neither Wetzler nor Mr Perez the Counsel for the Dept. was willing to meet with us. They called the local police and state troopers to make sure we stayed in that specific area. While we were there Pam and others we able to see Mumia and they took some pictures which they will be sending out with a report of their visit.  In the mean time PLEASE GET A CARD OR WRITE A LETTER TO MUMIA TO GIVE HIM YOU LOVE AND BEST WISHES.

I HAVE ALSO INCLUDED THE E-MAIL OE JOHN WEXLER SEND HIM A NOTE ASKING HIM  TO ALLOW OUTSIDE DR. TO EXAM AND  SET UP A PLAN TO HELP MUMIA WITH HIS DIABETES.

THANKS PAULETTE DC JERICHO

ra-crpadocsecretary@pa.gov

​Mumia ​Abu Jamal ​

#AM 8335 SCI-Mahanoy

​301 Morea Rd.

Frackville, PA 17932 USA

Mumia Abu-Jamal In Medical Crisis

April 2, 2015

From The Source

mumia

Former death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal is currently in ICU at Schuylkill Medical Center in Pottsville, PA

Political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is being treated for diabetes complications. Abu-Jamal’s blood sugar was dangerously high when he arrived at Schuylkill Medical Center on Monday, and he could have slipped into a diabetic coma. He has remained under heavy guard since intake. His family continues to be limited in accessing and monitoring his condition and his health. Literally for 20 hours his family was in the Intensive Care ICU and were told nothing.

Abu-Jamal, 60, is a former Black Panther serving life in prison for the 1981 murder of white Philadelphia Officer Daniel Faulkner. His conviction was upheld through years of appeals, but he has gained international support for his claim that he’s the victim of a racist justice system. A federal appeals court threw out his death sentence in 2008, citing flawed jury instructions.

His wife, Wadiya Jamal says he is still very weak. Two guards are posted outside Abu-Jamal’s hospital room, and two others are stationed inside, according to his wife. She said Abu-Jamal was handcuffed to a chair during her half-hour visit Tuesday, and she fed him ice chips.

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Here is an excerpt from the hospital press conference yesterday:

Mumia’s wife and brother were allowed to see him separately for 30 minutes each late this morning. The mobilization worked. But our job is not yet done. On the morning of March 30, 2015 Mumia fainted in the prison and was taken to the ICU of a nearby clinic. His blood sugar count was dangerously high at 779. He was in a diabetic shock. For perspective: diabetic coma is 800.

He is recovering slowly and still in ICU. His blood sugar is currently at 333. That Mumia had diabetes was a complete shock to all of us. For the last 3 months, he has been under medical care in the prison and diagnosed with eczema. And since he had three “comprehensive” blood tests since February, diabetes should have been diagnosed and treated accordingly. But it never was. Instead he has been subjected to hell by the prison medical system. In January Mumia was shaken out of a deep sleep by guards during count. For the infraction of not being awake during count he was punished for 2 weeks, without calls or yard. Deep trance-like sleep and lethargy were the first signs of the problem. In addition to the physical depletion produced by untreated diabetes, he was/is also dealing with a severe outbreak of eczema. He likened his skin to that of an elephant’s. It was raw, blistered and bloody all over. He was so sick that he was not taking visitors. The “meds” he was given for his skin produced an extreme adverse reaction. His skin swelled and ruptured and he was put in the prison infirmary for 2 weeks.

The two very brief visits by his immediate family were important, but the un just actions by the PA DOC continue. They are controlling the hospitals actions and limiting all information about his condition. These actions are preventing Abu-Jamal and his family from getting access to the critical information they need for his care.

His family and lawyers still have little information about his treatment and his conditions. They are trying to limit additional visits now that they have had a visit. They are attempting to speak with the doctors and get medical records, yet after 20 hours of torture Mumia remains in intensive care.

Prison Officials are lying. Mumia is going through torture at the hands of Department of Corrections through medical neglect. It is clear to people that they want to kill Mumia. They gave him the wrong medication which made his condition worse. Inmates on the inside who questioned what was happening have been subjected to direct retaliation by the superintendent. They have been moving concerned inmates out of Mumia’s unit in an effort to both bury and keep this critical information from the public.”
Pam Africa

Mumia’s family is keeping vigil in the ICU critical care visiting room. Schuylkill Medical Center in Pottsville, PA. His supporters and lawyers were at trial challenging theRevictimization Review Act a.k.a. the “Mumia Silencing Act” in Harrisburg, PA when they received word that he had been taken to the hospital.

The Abolitionist Law Center’s Bret Grote is in Pottsville and taking all necessary steps to gain access to his client for the family and access to his medical records so that independent doctors can intervene.

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s brother Keith Cook stated:

The rules that the prisons have are very arcane. They don’t give out any information about prisoners to their families or anyone else. It’s like you have your hands tied because you don’t know how the prisoner is and you have no way of talking to him. I remember a month ago…Phil Africa exercising in the prison, next thing they know they moved him to a hospital and didn’t tell his family where he was, and three days later he was dead. It’s scary. This situation needs to change. The prison authorities need to be more humane to the families of prisoners.”

Johanna Fernandez of the New York Campaign to Bring Mumia Home noted:

Mumia has been complaining about being ill since January. If he had gotten the proper care he needed originally, he would not be in this situation. This crisis illustrates the problem of health care in American prisons as a basic human rights violation. I am personally concerned because Phil Africa of the MOVE organization was rushed to the hospital not long ago in good health and a few days later he was dead. We need to fight to defend Mumia’s life, and that of all prisoners.”

To support the family of Mumia contact the supporters below:

Bret Grote: bretgrote@abolitionistlawcenter.org
(PH:) 412-654-9070

Johanna Fernandez: jfernandez1202@gmail.com
(PH:) 917-930-0804

Pam Africa: (PH:) 267-760-7344

Keith Cook: kdc52@aol.com
(PH:) 919-302-4177

Noelle Hanrahan: info@prisonradio.org
(PH:) 415-706-5222

-Infinite Wiz (@InfiniteWiz)

Q&A: Jericho Movement’s Paulette D’Auteuil on U.S. political prisoners

March 9, 2015

From Free Speech Radio News

Paulette D’Auteuil is on the advisory board in of the National Jericho Movement. She recently delivered remarks to the 12th International Symposium Against Isolation in Beirut, Lebanon.

The conference brings together political prisoners held in countries around the world. She told the conference that the U.S. is no exception to countries that lock up political dissidents on trumped up charges or deny parole to political prisoners who have already served the terms of their court-mandated sentences. During the conference, she spoke with FSRN’s Jacob Resneck.

Download Audio

FSRN: The issue of political prisoners is something we, as Americans, hear a lot about in other countries. But your organization argues that the U.S. is no different. Is the criminal justice system targeting individuals for lawful political activities?

PD: Um, yes. It’s been targeting them since Sacco and Vanzetti and it continues to target them today. We have many political prisoners: Leonard Peltier, Jalil Muntaqim, Herman Bell… and we also have some who are engaged in struggles against the state and have seen now that COINTELPRO situation which was a program, a counter-intelligence program, by the government was considered illegal. And after 9/11 and the PATRIOT ACT everything that was considered illegal in COINTELPRO has now been incorporated and is considered a legal government means to keep people from resisting and struggling for a better society.

FSRN: Tell us what the Jericho Movement and other legal advocates for these prisoners are doing to try and secure release for these prisoners.

PD: One of the things we are trying to do is that coming to the end of the Obama administration  some of our prisoners have, or are in the process rather, are in the process of completing a set of documents for the Justice Department which will be turned over to a clemency lawyer that will be reviewed and then put on Obama’s desk.

This packet is an incredible listing of this person’s history from before they were incarcerated. If they were arrested or something happened to them in high school they have to start there and give them everything that they’ve done and then every infraction that they’ve been charged with within that.

FSRN: We’re here in Beirut hearing the testimony of former political prisoners and also their advocates. What message are you bringing to them from the U.S. and what message will you be taking back to the states?

PD: I’m going to take back this struggle that needs to be done to help build an anti-imperialist front. And that is we must take the struggles of other countries back into the United States to expose French imperialism, American imperialism and whatever and build the unity between our prisoners and their prisoners. We’ve done this with people in the Basque country, we’ve done it with Turkish prisoners, and so what I’ve brought is a group of statements from our prisoners Herman Bell, Jalil Muntaqim, Leonard Peltier, Mutulu Shakur all sent greetings of solidarity. For them this is a way for them to have their voices heard in other countries and so we have reciprocity, a revolutionary reciprocity, to support each other’s prisoners and to stand in solidarity against this capitalist class throughout the world.

FSRN: Finally, what can ordinary Americans do to support these political prisoners and what support networks exist to help people who think they or friends or family may be targeted by the criminal justice system for their lawful political activities?

PD: On our website there are all kinds of suggestions. You can just go online and Google “political prisoner organizations” and get in touch.

FSRN: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

PD: You’re welcome. Thank you. Free the Land!


Related note: FSRN has long aired the commentaries of Mumia Abu Jamal, former Black Panther and radio journalist, via Prison Radio. In October of last year, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a bill, the Revictimization Relief Act, that could subject anyone convicted of a personal crime to legal action if they speak publicly. Last week Chief Judge for the U.S. Federal District Court in Harrisburg, PA heard opening arguments in Abu-Jamal vs. Kane on 2/26/2015.  If he rules that the plaintiffs (Prison Radio & Mumia Abu-Jamal) have standing in federal court, a ruling which is expected shortly, the case will proceed on the merits of whether SB508 is a violation of the First Amendment, and an unconstitutional silencing of prisoners’ voices.

Jericho Movement Position Papers: Future Focus

March 9, 2015

http://thejerichomovemet.blogspot.de

BY JALIL MUNTAQIM

In seven years, by 2023, the U.S. will be 40 percent minority, and 50 percent of the entire population will be under 40 years old. These are the demographics that cannot be ignored as progressives move forward building opposition to institutional racism and plutocratic governing.

In my thinking, it is incumbent on today’s activists to take into account what America will look like in ten years, so we will be better positioned to ensure the future will not be governed by deniers of change. In this regard, I am raising dialogue toward building a National Coalition for a Changed America (NCCA) comprised of social, economic and political activists who are prepared to build a future-focused America based on equitable distribution of wealth. It is important that progressives seek the means to organize greater unity and uniformity in ideological and political objectives toward the construction of a mass and popular movement. It is well established that the most pressing issues confronting the poor and oppressed peoples are wage inequities, housing displacement, dysfunctional public schools and student debt, climate change, the criminalization of the poor, mass incarceration, and the militarization of the police. In each are negative racial and economic implications creating social conflicts and confrontations.

However, the most pervasive and devastating cause for all of these issues is the unequal distribution of wealth. It is well researched and recorded that the wealth disparity, income gap between whites and blacks is 40% greater today than in 1967, with the average black household’s net worth at $6,314 and the average white household’s at $110,500 (New York Times, “When Whites Just Don’t Get It,” by Nicholas Kistof). When we account for how such economic disparity impacts educational opportunities or criminal behavior in the black community, we are better able to identify the overall pernicious problem. The Brookings Institute reported last July that: “As poverty increased and spread during the 2000s, the number of distressed neighborhoods in the United States—defined as census tracts with poverty rates of 40% or more—climbed by nearly three-quarters.” The report continued: “The population living in such neighborhoods grew by similar margins (76%, or 5 million people) to reach 11.6 million by 2008-2012.” (New York Times, “Crime and Punishment,” by Charles M. Blow).

Obviously, America is in increasing economic crisis, especially when considering … “According to a recent paper by the economists Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics, almost all of the increase in American inequality over the last 30 years is attributable to the “rise of the share of wealth owned by the 0.1% richest families.” And much of that rise is driven by the top 0.01%. “The wealth of the top 1% grew an average of 3.9% a year from 1986 to 2012, though the top one-hundredth of that 1% saw its wealth grow about twice as fast. The 16,000 families in the tiptop category—those with fortunes of at least $111 million—have seen their share of national wealth nearly double since 2002, to 11.2%.” (New York Times, “Another Widening Gap: The Haves vs. the Have-Mores,” by Robert Frank).

Can there by any serious disputing the reality that this so-called democracy is actually a plutocracy, and the governing plutocrats have us all hustling and scraping for the crumbs, demanding a minimum wage increase, when we should be demanding control of production? Hence, it is necessary for progressives to realize the future of our struggle must be based on participatory democracy, direct-action engagement. It is important for the more educated and experienced activists to teach the younger activists, and young people in general need to know the future belongs to them, and we are concerned about what that future will look like and how to make it productive. It is essential we figure ways to bridge differences between the evolving demographics and growing minority population.

For instance, I am heartened to see young people taking to the streets challenging the common impunity of police repression and violence. Indeed, Black Lives Matter! However, I am not confident these protests will result in anything substantial in terms of institutional changes or build a sustainable movement. We remember Occupy Wall Street (OWS) had created similar national attention, but void a national organization, leadership or agenda (demands), it was a matter of time before OWS would dissipate and disappear after police removed the public nuisances.

In this regard, I am asking activists to post on their Facebook pages and other online sites these musings, for open discussion and dialogue. Specifically, I suggest that young people across the country enter open debate about the future of specific issues that have captured national attention. Obviously, it is necessary to build a mass and popular movement to effectuate real institutional change in this country. This was a vital lesson from the civil rights movement challenging the institution of Jim Crow. Therefore, I am urging young activists to consider organizing toward a “Million Youth Independence Day March” (MY-ID March) for July 4, 2016, in Washington, D.C., making the following demands:

  1. De-Militarization and De-Centralization of the Police, Demand Community Control of Police;
  2. Debt Relief for College Students, Lower Tuition Cost for College Education;
  3. Support the Manifestation of the Dreamers Act—Stop Deportations and the Splitting of Families.

These three issues, as they become part of the national dialogue and challenge to the plutocratic government, are able to unite a universal national determination. A one-issue protest/campaign is not sustainable when confronting an oppressive/repressive government policy supported by right-wing corporate interests. However, these interwoven issues reach three demographics of young people, each directly challenging institutions of government. Again, it is important to use the current unrest to forge a unified and uniform national youth movement.

Secondly, politically, we need to consider how best to ensure these issues become a major factor in the national debate, possibly imposing them into the national election of 2016. In this way, inspiring and encouraging a mass and popular youth movement organized during the election year of 2016, we empower the youth to be future focused. It is well established that it was the youth who were instrumental in getting Obama elected as President. Despite our collective disappointment with his presidency, the lesson learned is the power of the youth when united and determined to accomplish a task. Again, recognizing that in 7 years the electoral demographics will be drastically changed, it is time to prepare for that eventuality, even if some do not believe in the electoral process. Therefore, during the election year of 2016, not a single candidate will be permitted to conduct a public forum without being challenged by these issues. These would be acts of participatory democracy and direct-action engagement. Obviously, to hold a national rally and march in Washington, D.C. during the July 4, 2016 weekend tells the entire country that young people will divorce themselves from the status quo, becoming independent of the Republican/Democratic party politics.

In closing, it is anticipated this proposal will raise questions concerning the potential for the development of a National Coalition for a Changed America (NCCA). Permit me to say that this proposed organization is only a suggestion. I firmly believe that building a national coalition is necessary to establish a mass and popular movement capable of forcing institutional changes, including the ultimate goal of redistribution of America’s wealth. I request this paper be widely distributed and discussed. I am prepared to enter discussion with anyone interested in the potential development of a National Coalition for a Changed America. Lastly, I humbly request activists to review what I wrote in“Toward a New American Revolution.”

“Our First Line of Defense IS Power to the People!”

Remember: We Are Our Own Liberators!

In fierce struggle,
Jalil A. Muntaqim
Attica, February 2015

Write to Jalil:

Anthony J. Bottom #77A4283
Attica Correctional FacilityP.O. Box 149
AtticaNY 14011-0149

Introducing Maya Chase, formerly Jared Chase of the NATO 3

March 9, 2015

February 6, 2015

https://freethenato3.wordpress.com 

The prisoner we have been supporting as Jared Chase is ready to let her supporters and comrades know that she is a trans woman who prefers to be called Maya and uses she/her/hers pronouns. She also wants to go vegan, although she is currently not able to receive adequate nutrition in general, much less according to her ethical decisions.

She wrote us recently to say:

“I am writing to tell you all and the world that I am a TransGender woman. All of my life I have always identified as a woman. After 30 years I am finally done hiding, pretending to be something I’m not.”

Communicating with Maya has been difficult, in large part due to repression she is suffering on the inside. As such, we do not have an up-to-date report on her well-being at this time. We will keep you updated about how she is doing and about any opportunities to advocate for her as we learn more.

She will need even more support than before as she tries to get her needs met as a transgender, vegan political prisoner with serious medical needs. An easy way to support her is to write to her (note that her state name will need to be used on the outside of the envelope):

Jared Chase
M44710
2600 N. Brinton Ave
Dixon, IL 61021

Donations to support Maya and Brent Betterly, the other defendant still incarcerated, can be made at:

http://www.payitsquare.com/collect-page/29941

Brent Betterly could use some letters of support as well:

Brent Betterly
M44724
4017 E. 2603 Road
Sheridan, IL 60551

Jacob Church was released to a half-way house last November and continues to search for housing and employment while facing harassment from the probation system. Donations for his support can be made athttps://www.youcaring.com/JacobChurch. If you have any insight into jobs or housing opportunities in the Chicago area, please contact us at free.the.nato3(A)gmail.com.

“A Victory For One Is A Victory For All” – A Letter From Anarchist Prisoner, Eric King to Sacramento Prisoner Support and Eric McDavid

March 9, 2015

From Denver ABC

January 9, 2015

POW CAMP Leavenworth

Dear SPS,

What a feeling of victory and vindication that must be flowing through your ranks, as well as through all those who have offered prisoner support. The news of Eric’s release reached me Friday afternoon and it felt as if I myself had been set free. What a long, difficult road he has had to travel upon to finally reach freedom’s exit sign. As unjust as the sentencing was, is as sweet the release must feel! Just imagining the Joy his comrades, partner, family must all be feeling fills me with the same joy. A victory for one is a victory for all. Please send my kindest congratulatory message to Eric and everyone involved in his support team.

I have heard that his support team (many of you) has done well to make sure his rehabilitation into freedom will go as smoothly as possible. No one can undo the injustices suffered but many can make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible and I have a good feeling that the people around him will take full care of that. I am curious what, if any at this point, plans Eric has for the future? Work for prisoner support, continued environmental fight? I hope the suffering the state has put him through hasn’t diminished his belief in the causes he once (currently?) took solace in.

Most importantly though is the now, and the now is that our comrade is free, not just free but free substantially sooner than the state would have preferred. With the amount of comrades being released early, hopefully the tone will be set to prevent such vicious inhumane sentencing in any future cases. May this victory lead the way baring the torch of freedom, lighting the darkened path many of us still must thread. I am grateful that Eric had such brilliant support, that no one gave up hope. I am thankful that groups exist to be there for those of us who need it desperately. So congratulations to everyone involved, and to our beautiful cause as a whole. Please keep up the fight. Until All are Free.

In immense Joy & Solidarity,

E K

Eric King 27090045
CCA Leavenworth
100 Highway Terrace
Leavenworth, KS 66048

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

Introduction to Issue 24

May 26, 2014

Hello interested readers, activists, friends and fellow revolutionaries, welcome to Issue 24 of 4SM.

 

Yes, we are about a month late with this Spring Issue.  One reason is because our printer, good movement comrades and great professional printers, moved and had to set up their new shop.  We still intend to do a Summer Issue in late August and another one in November.

 

This issue is full of information and analysis that you will find useful.  With the ongoing struggle in the Ukraine and the ever more war-like threats coming from Washington and other imperialist country capitals, we are running three articles with thoughts and analysis about events in the Ukraine.

 

Former political prisoner and a Jericho leader, Kazi Toure, has a very important announcement about a march and rally that will take place in New York City this November; check it out.

 

We have a list of updates, including the Great news about the release of former Black Panther Eddie Conway, from decades of wrongful imprisonment.  Also, definitely check out Ward Churchill’s column.

 

This issue has some interesting and thoughtful poetry from several people.  So enjoy number 24 and pass it along — let your friends and fellow activists know about 4strugglemag.  Send us your thoughts and feedback on anything in this or previous 4SM’s.  We’ll see you in issue 25, out in late summer.

Freedom Is A Constant Struggle!

Jaan Laaman, editor

 

CORRECTION: A beautiful painting by political prisoner Thomas Manning on the cover of Issue 23 was mistakenly attributed to another artist. We apologize to Tom for this error, and thank him for lending his talents to 4strugglemag numerous times over the years.

Pre-order “For Love and Liberty” by Tom Manning

May 26, 2014

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/for-love-and-liberty

A full color book of paintings by freedom fighter and political prisoner, Tom Manning.

Show Your Solidarity and Help Make this Inspiring Book Come Alive!

Tom Manning is a freedom fighter, political prisoner and prolific artist. His paintings are stories that jump off the page, revealing the outlook of people who struggle for liberation around the world. His paintings are about life and his landscapes recall times of importance.

The years of work to produce this beautiful book and important document are nearing their end and we need your help to fund the last phase of production!

  • Preorder YOUR copy of For Love and Liberty today to make this project come alive.
  • Choose from the three options to the right based on the level of support you can give

All proceeds, after production costs, will be donated to the Rosenberg Fund for Children: Twitter: @wwwrfcorg  Facebook:rosenbergfundforchildren

Preorder Your Copy Today!

Featuring:

  • 86 full color reproductions of Tom’s Painting
  • Preface by Robby Meeropol
  • Article, “In My Time” by Tom
  • Poem by Assata, “Affirmation”
  • Autobiography of Tom Manning
  • Afterword by Ray Levasseur
  • Notes from photographer Penny Schoner

Tom Manning: Freedom Fighter, Political Prisoner

From the Preface by Robby Meerpol:

“Tom’s been incarcerated for 29 years.  But even before he received his current life sentence he was trapped by the limited choices left to an impoverished child surviving in Boston’s infamous Maverick Street Projects. The military during the Vietnam era seemed like a way out, but that too became a hellish form of confinement.

Tom broke free, he revolted.  He became a revolutionary.  He committed the unforgivable sin of confronting today’s great imperial empire, the United States, on its home turf.  For that, I expect the prison industrial complex will do its best to keep him confined for as long as it can.”

LA-ABCF’s Annual Running Down The Walls 5K Run/Walk/Bike

May 26, 2014

www.abcf.net/la

 

On Sunday, September 7th, 2014 at 10 a.m., the Los Angeles Anarchist Black Cross and RAC-LA will host a 5K Run/Walk/Bike around MacArthur Park. This Run is designed to raise much-needed funds for the Anarchist Black Cross Federation’s Warchest program and for Revolutionary Autonomous Communities (RAC).

 

We are attempting to reach the goal of $3,000 with the run. Funds will be divided between the two programs:

 

ABCF Warchest:

The ABCF Warchest program was created in November of 1994. Its purpose is to send monthly financial support to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War (PP/POWs).  The Warchest funds are divided and distributed through monthly stipends to political prisoners who receive little or no financial aid. Prisoners use this money to cover the basic necessities of everyday living. These funds have been used by prisoners to pay for stamps, shoes, clothes, as well as assisting their families with what little they can.

 

Revolutionary Autonomous Communities (RAC):

In the aftermath of the May Day 2007 police riot targeting migrant workers who dared stand up for our human rights, members of the MacArthur Park area and others joined together to support those with no papers and those with no means. RAC-LA came forward to aid the community in self-organizing such that with the help of each other we might make an inhuman way of living a bit more bearable while at same time acquiring the means to one day transform this system into an image of our own humanity.

 

Solidarity Runs:

Every year, prisoners and supporters of political prisoners organize solidarity runs with Running Down the Walls. In Sync with each other, we will collectively pound the pavement with our feet and bike tires as we exhibit our strength and stamina as examples of our tireless effort to free our imprisoned comrades.  In past years we had runs in: Albuquerque (NM), Arcata (CA), Ashland, (OR), Bellefonte (PA), Boston (MA), Connecticut River, Dannemora (NY), Denver, (CO), Detroit (MI), Elmore (AL), Guelph (CAN), Inez (KY), Los Angeles (CA), Marion (IL), Mexico City (MEX), New York City (NY),  USP. Navosta (TX), Pelican Bay (CA), Phoenix (AZ), Sandstone (MN), Tucson (AZ), USP Tucson (AZ), and Toronto (CAN).

 

Support the Struggle:

We must remember that many of those arrested in the past or present are not far from us. Many of them were and are community and labor activists, queer, and environmental activists; people who decided to speak out against various forms of oppression and paid the price of their freedom for their actions. We must remember that anyone of these people could have at one time stood beside us in a demonstration, at a speak-out, or even at an organizing meeting. At any given moment it could be us who finds ourselves in this situation, so it is imperative that we ensure that a strong enough community of support exists for these people as well as ourselves. The strength of our movement is determined by how much we support our fallen comrades. As Anarchist and former POW Ojore Lutalo says, “Any Movement that does not support its political internees, is a sham movement.” So please help us, help them! Help us help you!

 

We encourage people to participate in helping us raise funds for the Warchest, which can be done in the following ways:

 

Be a runner:

We are asking people or groups who are running to collect as many sponsor for the run as possible. Remember the money received is going to help imprisoned comrades who need your help. The person who collects the most amount of funds will be given a prize for their involvement and dedication to helping our fallen comrades.

 

Sponsor a runner:

This can be done through a flat donation to the runner of your choice, each flyer is a sponsor sheet. We ask from those who wish not to run to actively support those who are running in hopes of collecting as much for our comrades as possible.

 

Sponsor Running Down the Walls:

Any amount helps. Contact the Los Angeles Anarchist Black Cross if you wish to simply donate money to the cause.

 

Donate to:

-The Warchest:

Send funds directly to the Los Angeles ABCF (PO Box 11223, Whittier, CA 90603) or to the Philadelphia ABCF (PO Box 42129, Philadelphia, PA 19101) make checks or money orders out only to Tim Fasnacht.

 

-Revolutionary Autonomous Communities (RAC): http://revolutionaryautonomouscommunities.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/raclosangeles

 

Get involved in the planning of Running Down the Walls:

We always need help with organizing the event and we encourage people to contact us if they would like to get involved. You can do this by contacting the LA Anarchist Black Cross, www.abcf.net/la, la@abcf.net

 

-Jaan Laaman, UFF Political Prisoner Statement of Solidarity

October 19th 2002 My Brothers and Sisters,

 

“Thank you for running at this special event that means so much to many of us all over the world, both free and imprisoned. In a relative way, we are all political prisoners because it is the politics of this system of things that is exploiting, crushing, imprisoning, and destroying the masses all over the world and the earth itself. Then there are those who know this and take actions against those who seek to deny us our rightful place on earth as common human brethren. Those are the ones we run for and seek to help… whom sacrificed their family, freedom and lives, so that our lives may be better! The fact that you ran with us is a sign that when the red-hour comes, you will not be caught asleep. You are conscious and you too are willing to represent. The potential in you is great. Thank you for running for the cause!”

 

“As we ran we were thinking and talking about all the runners in Los Angeles and how we’d love to be out there running with them. We also spoke about the other political prisoners who were running with us in at least some other prisons.”

 

 

 

Running Down the Walls 2014

When: Sunday, September 7th, 2013, 10 am – 2 pm

Where: MacArthur Park, (West corner),2230 W. 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90057

 

Registration fees:$15, preregistration $12 (Make checks out to Tim Fasnacht)

Or for paypal:

Log in to your PayPal account and send your donation online to the email address “timABCF@aol.com” (Tim Fasnacht). Make sure to add in the notes section that your donation is for RDTW 2014.  If you’d prefer to stay anonymous or are donating in the name of an organization, let us know.

 

For more information contact the Los Angeles Branch Group of the Anarchist Black Cross Federation

PO BOX 11223

Whitier, Ca 90603

http://www.abcf.net/la/laabcf.asp?page=la/rdtw

http://www.abcf.net/la

la@abcf.net

In Context: Sometimes it Comes Back to Bite ’em in the Ass

May 26, 2014

BY WARD CHURCHILL

 

On February 13, 2013, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals entered a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in Peruta v. County of San Diego, a suit challenging the latter’s authority to arbitrarily constrain or deny the right of citizens to carry concealed handguns. In rejecting the criteria employed by San Diego County to govern its occasional issuance—or, more accurately, its routine denial—of concealed carry permits as being unconstitutionally narrow,  Peruta takes its place among a cluster of recent judicial opinions—notably District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), and Moore v. Madigan (2012)—that serve to undercut the government’s sustained effort to incrementally disarm the populace in the face of policies not only equipping the police and related entities with a continuously expanding and more lethal array of weaponry, but an ever-broader license to use it.

 

Of particular interest in Peruta is the court’s observation that it was “not holding that the Second Amendment [to the U.S. Constitution] requires the states to permit concealed carry,” but rather that it “does require that the states permit some form of carry for self-defense outside the home [emphasis original].” Since the open carrying of firearms is prohibited under California law, the judges reasoned, concealed carry is left as the only alternative. That being so, the imposition of any literal or de facto prohibition of concealed carry is rendered unconstitutional. In the alternative, the prohibition of open carry might have been declared unconstitutional—one senses that this would have been the judges’ preference, had the issue before them allowed such a ruling—but under no circumstances can both open and concealed carry be prohibited.

 

Needless to say, the ruling has already generated quite a lot of chatter, most of it from the usual sources and giving voice to an equally predictable range of sentiments, from boilerplate professions of dismay from self-styled “progressive commentators” to open gloating by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other such fixtures of the “libertarian” right. Although neither was party to the original suit, and thus lack discernible legal standing upon which to do so, both the California attorney general and the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence quickly filed for an en banc hearing by the full Ninth Circuit in hopes of having the Peruta opinion reversed, a maneuver that has yet to be addressed by the court itself. To date, no one has mentioned what stands to be the most ironic aspect of the whole case, however.

 

By and large, the earlier-mentioned prohibition under California law of openly carrying firearms in public has been treated in discussions of Peruta as if it were given, something that has always existed. That is simply not so. Throughout most of its history—from September 9, 1850, the date on which it was admitted to the Union, until June 28, 1967—open carry was perfectly legal in California. On the latter date, the state legislature passed the so-called Mulford Act, a measure named in honor of its principle sponsor, representative Don Mulford, an openly racist Republican whose East Bay district included the city of Oakland.

 

Explicitly intended to outlaw the practice adopted by the recently formed and Oakland-based Black Panther Party for Self-Defense of conducting armed street patrols to “police the police,” which the Panthers quite accurately characterized as an all but exclusively white “occupying army” long notorious for its routine infliction of violence upon and otherwise systematically violating the rights of those living in the city’s sprawling black ghetto, the Mulford Act cannot be rationalized as an attempt to reduce social violence, as such, whether real or potential. To the contrary, since the Panthers’ patrols, far from precipitating an uptick in ghetto violence, had demonstrably forced a marked and rapid drop-off in its gratuitous dispensation by the Oakland PD to residents in that part of the city, it was plainly meant to serve a very different purpose.

 

Bluntly put, the Act was in every respect akin to the Klan-endorsed and -enforced Black Codes effected by the former Confederate states during Reconstruction for purposes of disarming and thereby re-subjugating free blacks. The substance of both was/is to sanction certain modes of official and quasi-official violence, the institutional function of which was/is to keep African Americans—and, by extension, other communities of color—in the places collectively assigned them at or near the bottom of America’s sociopolitical-economic hierarchy, while simultaneously criminalizing/precluding the assumption of any viable defensive posture by those communities. At base, such laws form an essential structural component of white supremacy in the U.S. (and elsewhere, for that matter). In their absence, no system of racial domination can be stabilized, much less sustained in perpetuity.

 

Viewed in this light, the real motives prompting California’s virtually all-white legislature to vote overwhelmingly in favor of the Mulford Act are transparently obvious. So too, those underlying then-California governor/later U.S. president/now grand “conservative” icon Ronald Reagan’s much-vocalized support for the bill, which he signed into law immediately after its passage. It should be emphasized, moreover, that among the right’s strongest organizational proponents of the Act was none other than the NRA. So much for the Association’s pretense that its typically vociferous opposition to gun control is in any sense a principled defense of the rights of citizens guaranteed by the Second Amendment. While this may be true as regards white citizens, or at least the certifiable Good Americans among them, when, as with the Mulford Act, gun control serves the purpose of disarming “militants” bent upon empowering blacks and other peoples of color to successfully reject the white supremacist status quo, the NRA has been and remains all for it.

 

For their part, California’s white progressives—which is to say, its liberals—proved no less enthusiastic in their embrace of the Mulford Act than did the Cro-Magnons to their right. Unlike their more radically minded counterparts on the genuine left, those of the “responsible” variety willingly made common cause with the state’s most racist and reactionary forces, in no small part as an expedient to “removing guns from the process of social change,” or so they claimed. In this, they might be credited with evincing at a least some degree of sincerity, however hopelessly naïve, had their prescription for taking guns out of the equation included the least acknowledgment that this would necessarily require disarmament of the police as well as the Panthers (and colored folk more generally). But of course it did not, and still does not, not even to the extent of opposing the build-up of police armaments, proliferation of SWAT units, and so on, already underway in 1967.

 

No better illustration comes to mind of how most whites, irrespective of the stylistic, rhetorical, class, and usually superficial ideological differences seeming to divide them among themselves, invariably find consensus in defending the privileges attending their whiteness when confronted with serious challenges to the existing order. That California’s white liberal establishment now finds itself hoisted on its own petard as the result of one such maneuver gives cause for a measure of bitter mirth. The more so, since the reactionaries with whom the liberals so willingly linked arms in an effort to neuter the Panthers back in 1967 clearly outfoxed them, shortly amending the Mulford Act so that open carry of rifles and shotguns was allowed in rural—read, predominately white and conservative—areas of the state.

 

Cynical chuckles aside, where all this leads is anybody’s guess. Among the more hopeful prospects, however, is that Peruta and the related opinions cited above signal an unraveling of the deeply contradictory logic underpinning the mandatory imposition of “enhanced” sentences for conviction of offenses committed while in possession of a firearm. The mechanism in question has of course applied mainly to drug-related cases, themselves still subject to Reagan-era mandatory minimums and long notorious for the vastly disproportionate rates of incarceration inflicted on young African American, Latino, and—in some locales—American Indian men. The sheer cost of warehousing the results, even under conditions of outright slave labor, has already triggered a significant rethinking of the relevant statutes, accompanied by signs that increasing numbers of “nonviolent drug offenders” may see early release over the next few years. A comparable rethinking with respect to sentences arbitrarily lengthened by firearms possession stands to heighten the effect considerably.

 

Translated, this could ultimately mean that the outflow of dark-skinned bodies from behind the walls might finally exceed the influx for the first time in living memory. If so—and it must be admitted that any such projection is wildly optimistic—we will have ample reason to celebrate just as wildly. If not, as seems far more likely, we should—and therefore will—make good use of every gain we can register along such lines, both tactically and strategically. However things turn out in this regard, much work will obviously remain to be done. The struggle will continue.

From Ukraine to Venezuela: U.S. Wages Dirty Wars

May 26, 2014

BY FRED GOLDSTEIN

Excerpted from workers.org

 

Destroying the Ukraine government through an armed insurrection is part of a broader strategy by U.S. imperialism to colonize the former Soviet republics and encircle Russia. The right-wing forces now running Kiev would let the Ukrainian masses become debt slaves to U.S., French and German banks.

 

Washington has escalated its global campaign of reactionary subversion from Ukraine to Venezuela. A takeover in Ukraine would bring the Pentagon and Wall Street to the borders of Russia. In Venezuela, the Bolivarian Revolution is crucial to the bloc of countries resisting U.S. imperialist domination in Latin America.

 

The U.S. ruling class would like nothing better than to weaken Russia and return it to the semi-colonial status it was heading toward immediately after the collapse of the USSR, when Boris Yeltsin was president. It would also like to return to the era of Yankee imperialist domination of Latin America that prevailed until the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

 

Right now the big imperialist powers in Washington, Berlin, Paris and London, who preach democracy to the skies, are hailing the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Victor Yanukovich in the Ukraine.

 

To be sure, the Yanukovich government was corrupt and no friend of the working class. It was an instrument of a section of Ukrainian oligarchs. But the same can be said of the forces that overthrew him. The corrupt character of Yanukovich has nothing to do with why Washington joined in his overthrow.

 

The destruction of the Yanukovich government by armed insurrection and the installation of pro-Western puppet politicians is part of a broader strategy by the European Union (EU), in cahoots with the U.S. imperialists, to colonize the former Soviet republics and encircle Russia as part of a new Cold War.

 

Phony Call for “Democracy”

 

Yanukovich was overthrown by a combination of illegal political scheming by the pro-imperialist parties in the parliament, weeks of demonstrations by right-wing, pro-West forces and by threats and violence from fascist shock troops who took command of the streets and spearheaded the takeover.

 

The big business media portrayed this as a contest between the western Ukrainians, who want to align with “democratic” Europe and the West, versus the eastern, Russian-speaking Ukrainians, who want to align with autocratic Russia.

 

This is a completely superficial view that conceals the essence of the conflict.  With Ukraine facing imminent bankruptcy, Yanukovich was vacillating over whether to align the country’s economic relations with Europe or Russia. The EU offered paltry loans that would impose conditions of austerity and privatization and hinge on the release of right-wing, pro-EU billionaire politician Yulia Tymoshenko from prison.

 

European Union, United States, International Monetary Fund

 

Russia, on the other hand, offered a $15 billion loan, a one-third reduction in the price of gas and favorable trade relations. Yanukovich, whose base is in the Russian-speaking East and South of the country, decided to accept Russia’s terms. This infuriated the EU, Washington and all the oligarchs, bourgeois and middle-class elements who wanted to integrate with Western capitalism and imperialism.

 

The right-wing forces who now prevail in Kiev preferred to put Ukraine in the position of becoming a debt slave to German, French and U.S. bankers and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This is the same agenda imposed on Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, as well as several countries in Eastern Europe.

 

This is not to say that the capitalist, expansionist Putin regime, in making its offer, was guided by anything other than a desire to retain its sphere of influence in the former Soviet republics for the benefit of Russian oligarchs, bankers and industrialists who are living off the spoils they plundered when they broke up the economy of the Soviet Union.

 

But in the struggle between Russian capital and Western imperialism, the worst outcome is for Washington, Wall Street and the Pentagon to extend their reach to the borders of Russia and gain domination over the former Soviet republics. United States imperialism is a far more dangerous enemy to the people of the world than Russia.

 

The political victory of Western imperialism was carried out with fascist intimidation and without a shred of capitalist democracy. Laws were passed and the Ukrainian Constitution was changed by a rump parliament.  Members opposed to the right-wing takeover were physically attacked or intimidated by the anti-Semitic, ultra-nationalist Svoboda Party inside the Parliament and by the anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi forces of the Right Front in the streets.

 

The Parliament took charge of the police and ordered them to retreat from the battle in Independence Square just as the fascists were getting more and more aggressive. The withdrawal of the police from the square—the site of government buildings, including the presidential quarters—set the stage for fascist squads, under the command of the Right Front, to take charge of the entire area.

 

As shown by the now infamous “f… the EU” phone call between U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, Washington was vying with the EU for control of the situation and discussing who to pick to lead the new government, while relying on the fascists to get rid of the elected government of Yanukovich.

 

Once the government was overthrown and Yanukovich fled from Kiev, Yulia Tymoshenko, who led a similar pro-Western coup in 2004 (the so-called Orange Revolution), was released from jail. She rushed to the platform in the Maidan and harangued the crowd, promising to integrate with Europe, among other things.

 

Her first phone calls were “with Angela Merkel as well as with Stefan Fule, a top European Union official, and with Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., and Richard Durbin, D-Ill. Tymoshenko also met with ambassadors from the United States and EU countries.” (New York Times, Feb. 24)

 

Clinton: “Re-Sovietize” the Republics

 

As to imperialism’s broad strategy, it was to keep Ukraine from joining the Russian-sponsored Customs Union, an economic alliance of Russia with Belarus and Kazakhstan. Last November, the EU tried to get Ukraine to join the so-called Eastern Partnership. Yanukovich, along with leaders of several other former Soviet republics, turned it down, and the whole scheme to absorb the republics into the EU fell apart.

 

Venezuela Under U.S. Attack Again

 

In the Western Hemisphere, Washington is also fighting to set up a “democracy” for the capitalist oligarchs in Venezuela in much the same way they are bringing “democracy” to Ukraine—by organizing and financing a right-wing mobilization in the streets of Caracas, San Cristobal and other cities. Fortunately, the masses in Venezuela, unlike in Ukraine, are mobilized to defend the Bolivarian Revolution established by Hugo Chávez.

 

Furthermore, the politics of the struggle are clearly understood by the Venezuelan masses and the entire progressive population of the world. The goal of Washington is to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution and restore the domination of U.S. imperialism in the country.

 

Washington lost that domination when Chávez came to power in 1998.  He took control of the oil revenues and created institutions to empower the masses and improve their health, education and living conditions on a wide scale, eventually declaring socialism as the goal of the revolution.

 

The pro-U.S. right-wing was defeated in a coup attempt to oust him in 2002, and has lost election after election, by large margins, since then. It has been unable to regain political power by democratic, parliamentary means. Thus the CIA, the counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie, working with the reactionary regime in Colombia, embarked on a new campaign of subversion and destabilization to destroy the government of Chávez’s successor, President Nicolás Maduro.

 

Washington has unleashed aggressive right-wing forces led by Harvard-educated Leopoldo López. López has ties to Colombia’s former president, Alvaro Uribe, who ruled by death squad.

 

The masses in Venezuela are in a more advantageous position than the working class in Ukraine. They are far more organized, politically conscious and determined to defend the revolution, which has brought real gains for the people. But given the U.S. record of counterrevolutionary subversion in Chile, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and many other countries in Latin America, this campaign must be taken deadly seriously.

 

Goldstein is the author of “Low-Wage Capitalism” and “Capitalism at a Dead End,” which has been translated into Spanish as “El capitalismo en un callejón sin salida.” The books are available on Amazon.

Russia, Crimea, Ukraine, Venezuela and U.S. Imperialism

May 26, 2014

By JAAN LAAMAN

 

United States imperialism’s contradictions with Russia have drastically increased in the past two months. Ukraine, Crimea and Russia are prominently and regularly featured on all platforms of the corporate media in the United States.

 

Russia is portrayed as the enemy, the intruder and belligerent country. The U.S. government and its European Union (EU) imperialist allies are put forth as supporters of democracy and legal order. This is almost the complete opposite of what has actually taken place in the Ukraine and Crimea. But if the U.S. corporate media repeats its version loudly and frequently enough, it starts to be accepted by viewers and listeners. 4SM is printing a more insightful and critical report of Ukraine and Crimea, put out by the Workers World newspaper (the WW article precedes this one and 4SM edited it for length). There certainly is need for more independent, objective and critical information and analysis. Most importantly there is the need for concerned and intelligent people to analyze and evaluate what is happening.

 

Any analysis should start with an objective view of who the parties are and what their interests and objectives really are. United States imperialism, even with dissension in its elite ranks, is the most powerful modern-day empire in the world. The EU and especially its major players— Germany, England and France—are smaller imperialist powers who usually follow the U.S. lead.

 

Russia, today, is a capitalist regional and to a lesser degree world power. Russia does not automatically and routinely accept or submit to U.S. imperialism’s lead, as the EU often does. Russia is an independent nation with its own interests.

 

Russia was the heart of the former Soviet Union. The USSR and Western imperialism had a decades long fundamental contradiction between socialism and capitalism/imperialism. With the demise of the Soviet Union, this contradiction also ceased to exist. The contradiction between U.S. imperialism and Russia today is the contradiction between two competing capitalist powers. Both are trying to seek advantage, resources and power for the benefit of their respective ruling elites. Capitalist powers mostly compete and collude with each other. But we should be very clear—some of the worst wars in modern times have been the result of capitalist countries fighting for markets and resources (e.g., WWI, WWII).

 

Since the end of the USSR and its socialist system, the USA, in its drive for world hegemony, has been trying to curtail Russia’s strength as a regional power. United States imperialism has continuously expanded NATO into East Europe. It has also attempted to install pliant regimes through a series of color “revolutions” in former Soviet republics. The U.S. government has established bases on Russia’s periphery, in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, to militarily encircle most of Russia.

 

On the other hand, Russia is the world’s biggest producer of oil and gas. It also still has a large nuclear arsenal and a sizable military. Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and has the power to, at times, block U.S. moves, such as when Obama threatened to attack Syria last year.

 

While events in Crimea and Ukraine have dominated corporate news in the U.S., there have been reports of demonstrations and struggle in Venezuela. There have also been minor news reports of U.S. citizens and embassy officials being accused of organizing activities against the Venezuelan government and president.

 

United States imperialism basically lost its control and domination over Venezuela and its very large pool of oil with the 1998 election of Hugo Chavez as president. When Chavez died last year, a leader of his party, Nicolas Maduro, was elected to replace him. President Maduro has continued Chavez’s revolutionary and socialist policies, but he is perceived as more vulnerable to a renewed imperialist and local right-wing assault. Somewhat under the cover of news about Russia and Ukraine, there is an ongoing imperialist effort to destabilize and subvert the popularly elected government of President Maduro in Venezuela.

 

Events in Ukraine, Crimea and Venezuela are serious. The confrontation with Russia, in particular, has the potential for unimaginable consequences. By all measures, much of the American public is sick and tired of U.S. government wars, invasions, bombings and drone attacks. Despite this, U.S. imperialism and the USA government have not stopped their machinations and attempts to gain control over other countries and their resources, or to lead the United States into a new war. This makes it so important for us—the people, and particularly activists and organizers—to evaluate and analyze developments and struggle independently, and not simply follow corporate news and government versions of events.

 

One very significant and clarifying issue to hold on to is understanding who our primary enemy really is. What is the main obstacle in our struggle for greater peace, freedom and economic justice? What is the principle or primary contradiction? Understanding this and keeping it firmly in mind as we examine developments makes it much less likely that we will get swept away with government pontifications of who we should consider our enemy. Dialectical materialism is the scientific revolutionary method of analysis that allows any situation to be broken down and examined. In issue 11 of 4SM, we printed an entire short booklet (“A Basic Introduction To Dialectical and Historical Materialism”) that lays out this method.

 

As people in the United States, we must always keep in mind that whatever the government does, it acts in our name. We may not and probably do not have any control or voice in what the government does, which country they declare an enemy and/or attack, but it is done in our, the people’s, name. This makes it crucial that we determine for ourselves what is correct and real or propaganda. If we do not accept the government’s plans for war, we must loudly and clearly make known to the government and the world that we oppose, and will try to stop, what the U.S. government does in our name.

 

The country of Russia is not our, the American People’s, enemy. Crimea has been part of Russia since the 1700’s. In late March, for the first time in its history, the Crimean people got the opportunity to vote on whether they wanted to be part of Russia, and they overwhelmingly voted to join the Russian Federation.

 

The elected President and parliament in Venezuela may not be the leaders who U.S. imperialism and the USA government approve of, but it is the right of the Venezuelan people, not Washington politicians and Wall Street bankers, to decide who leads Venezuela’s government. The people of Venezuela, Russia, Crimea or Ukraine are not our enemies. We should make that clear to politicians in Washington and to the world, and we must not let the USA government launch any wars or attacks against these people, their governments and countries.

Let’s Get Free: Nationwide Call for a Huge Nov. 2, 2014 Rally!

May 26, 2014

4strugglemag and everyone connected with it, supports and joins with the Jericho Movement’s call for a major nationwide gathering, march and rally, at the United Nations in New York City, this year, on Sunday, November 2, 2014.

This march and rally will call for rescinding the 2 million dollar bounty on the life-long Black leader, Assata Shakur and the release of ALL political prisoners held in the United States.

The government of the United States, has and continues to hold political prisoners, in state and federal prisons, longer than any other country in the world imprisons political activists.  Incredible human beings, leaders and freedom fighters like Sundiata Acoli, Sekou Odinga, Herman Bell and Leonard Peltier have been in prison for 40 years and longer.  Many others like Janine Africa, Tom Manning, Dave Gilbert and Oscar Lopez have been in prison for 30 years and more.  The list goes on and on.  Many younger activists from the environmental, anti-war and anti-racist struggles have been imprisoned in just the past few years.  Despite often being held in the harshest conditions, isolation cells, control units, sensory deprivation cells, in the most locked down abusive prisons, U.S. political prisoners overwhelmingly continue to uphold and maintain their principles of justice, freedom, equality, peace and protection of our planet.

Over the years, many organizations and individuals have spoken in support of and concern about U.S. political prisoners. This November 2, is the time for all people and organizations involved in social and economic justice, in anti-war work and environmental protection, and of course prison abolition and political prisoners support work, to step forward and come to NYC, to the UN and demand justice and freedom for U.S. political prisoners and for Assata Shakur.

We do have some months to organize and prepare for a really large and powerful march and rally.  Your support, advice and solidarity is needed.  You can be part of a very positive and necessary effort, and all U.S. political prisoners are asking for your support now.

Freedom Is A Constant Struggle!  — Jaan Laaman, editor

 

BY KAZI TOURE
Hopefully this communication finds you all in good health and revolutionary spirit. Let me first apologize for the delay in getting this out to you. I hesitate to make this call for many reasons; my lack of a strong oratory voice and the public persona to put forth the call and generate the necessary response. Someone once told me that the issue doesn’t matter, only who put out the call. I remain hopeful that is not true.

 

Former political prisoners and prisoners of war have always guided the Jericho Movement. We reject the messianic worship of such leaders as Louis Farrakhan, and organizations such as those who call for mass anti-war demonstrations, yet have questionable funding sources and no grassroots presence.

 

To all of our comrades in struggle, in the words of Bob Marley, “Rise up fallen fighter, Rise up and take your stand again.” On November 2, 2014, the Jericho Movement is calling for a March/Demonstration to the U.N. to demand rescinding the $2 million bounty on Assata Shakur, the respect of Cuba’s sovereignty, and the freedom of Sundiata Acoli, Oscar López Rivera, Debbie Simms Africa, Leonard Peltier, Jaan Laaman, Herman Bell, Afia Sadaki ,  Antonio Negrón, Jalil Muntaqim, Tarek Mehanna, Russell Maroon Shoatz, Janine Africa, Veronza Bowers, Robert Seth Hayes, Jamil Al-Amin, and all Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War. Our efforts may not bring about the desired result, to “Free ’em All,” but we must keep up the pressure. This call goes out to the movements whose struggles have produced Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War, and to those organizations doing anti-prison (PIC) work. Jericho has consistently supported all PPs and POWs, so we send out this call with the hope that you will include it in your work this year.

 

We hope that all of those who support the release of PPs and POWs, and those who oppose the prison-industrial complex, will join us on this march to the U.N. on November 2. Jericho presently has chapters in ten cities across the country. We will have events in all of those cities during the year, in addition to the coalition work we engage in with other organizations. We will reach out to comrades and activists from various movements throughout the country who we have worked with in some capacity, as everyone will have to step it up to make our collective voices be heard.

 

Having recently mourned the passing of Nelson Mandela, we must remind our communities of the scores of “Mandelas” who remain locked away in the dungeons of America’s gulags as PPs and POWs. It will be the height of hypocrisy to support the spirit and struggle of Mandela and the ANC in South Africa, yet abandon the veterans of our liberation struggles here in the U.S. We will start up conference calls in April.

 

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!

 

Amandla

 

[1]Aafia Siddiqui?

Victory Bus Rides

May 26, 2014

Where farmers and political prisoners come together to serve prison families

BY JALAL SABUR, Farmer, Activist and Herbalist with Sweet Freedom Farm and the Freedom Food Alliance

 

Our Inspiration

 

In 2009, along with activists from Brooklyn, I started visiting Herman Bell (freehermanbell.org) when he was transferred to Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsberg, NY after taking a deal in the San Francisco 8 (SF8) case. This agreement played a part in paving the way for the dismissal of charges against four of the SF8. Since 2011, myself and other farmers from upstate NY have been visiting Herman a few times a year with the intention of figuring out how to address the intersections between farming, food access and prison abolition. We were truly inspired by the work Herman was doing with the Victory Gardens Project from 1995 to 2005 and we wanted to figure out a way to recreate that transformative work. The Victory Gardens Project was started by Herman, farmers Carol Dove and Michael Vernon, and a number of volunteers to build a collaboration between inner city and rural communities in the northeastern United States. They used food as an organizing tool, by growing vegetables and distributing them free of charge back into the communities as well as educating folks around the prison-industrial complex and political prisoners.

 

The Project

 

The Victory Bus Rides grew out of our discussions with Herman because a lot of prisoners talked about the financial hardships their loved ones face visiting them in prison. In New York state, 90 percent of prisoners are in upstate New York prisons and 75 percent of prisoners are from seven neighborhoods in New York City. So in 2011, we bought a school bus as part of the VROOM Bus Cooperative to deal with some of the displacement that happens when you take people out of their communities and away from their families. We came up with the idea to take families to our targeted prisons for the price of a food package. Each package is filled with local, nutritious vegetable staples that families can either bring in as a care package for their incarcerated loved one or keep for themselves. The inclusion of food in this journey is an important piece in connecting the prison-industrial complex to our equally inequitable, racist food system. It provides an opportunity to nourish a community, spark a conversation, increase the relationships between urban and rural residents, and create a lens in which we can begin to examine the larger systemic issues facing us today.

 

Get on the Bus

 

When families step on to our bus, they are becoming members of our Community Supported Agriculture program. They pay $50 per food package, which can be paid for with food stamps. Once members pay for the food, it includes a ride for two people to one of our target prisons. We have targeted three New York State correctional facilities (Sullivan, Woodburne and Eastern) in our pilot year given our existing relationships with political prisoners housed within them. One of the other political prisoners we have been working with is Robert Seth Hayes. Seth Hayes has been very vocal in expressing his frustration at the lack of health services and access to healthy food he needs as a diabetic in prison, an issue we hope to address through our program. His health issues recently became an urgent matter, please check http://www.jerichony.org/sethmedical.html for updates.

 

Goals Moving Forward

 

Some of our short-term goals are expanding to service families in all five boroughs and the Hudson/Harlem Valley, increasing visits from once a month to twice a month, and eventually doing trips once a week. We will take our travel time as an opportunity to dialogue with families on the prison-industrial complex, using Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow, so we can build on movements to end mass incarceration. Also, we want to open a space to have a conversation around food and farming and offer farm visits to interested parties. We want people to rethink the relationship between urban and rural communities: instead of urban folks thinking about upstate New York as a place where prisons are, to start thinking about the benefits of having connections to farms and rural communities. In the long term, we want to make sure this is a model that can be replicated for other farms and prison advocacy groups in other areas to transform our communities.

 

To learn more about the Victory Bus Rides, to visit loved ones on our bus or to support us, please contact: jalal.sabur@gmail.com or 917.704.3354.

The Art of Resistance

May 26, 2014

BY RAY LUC LEVASSEUR

 

A fundraising event to honor political prisoners Tom Manning and Jaan Laaman was held at Community Church in Boston on February 23. Sixty people attended the gathering along with ten children ages one to six, who added their own high spirits.

 

Performances included conscious hip hoppers the Foundation Movement, the Puerto Rican-flavored songs of Myriam Ortiz, the sharp-edged resistance tunes of Evan Greer and a reunion performance of Presente doing “There Are Other Names,” highlighting many other political prisoners.

 

Excarcerated political prisoners Kazi Toure and Ray Luc Levasseur spoke about the historical and present context from which political prisoners arise and affirm their lives and vision.

Paintings and reproductions of Tom’s art were displayed and copies of 4SM were sold. Boston Jericho organized the event and reached its goal of raising $1,000.

Pages From the “Pig Playbook”: Reading #1—Scapegoating “Bad Apples”

May 26, 2014

BY KEVIN “RASHID” JOHNSON

 

What is the Pig Playbook?

 

Not many people are familiar with the Pig Playbook, or PPB. The PPB is a stock of tactics and schemes the capitalist imperialists use to achieve and maintain power and domination over everyone else. It is like an unwritten dirty tricks manual for cowards and sociopaths, containing a range of techniques used to keep masses of oppressed people blind, deaf and dumb to their own exploitation and their being manipulated by the pigs to aid in oppressing others.

 

In his Art of War, Sun Tzu keenly observed that one of the most effective ways to defeat an opponent is to stop his plans. Studying and learning the PPB reveals the range of tactics the pigs draw on in devising their plans. With its knowledge, we can recognize and counter those tactics and even predict and prevent their use altogether. Furthermore, we can even devise a few plans of our own toward putting them out of biz.

 

To this end we want to give regular readings in the PPB. In this first reading, the pig tactic of focus will be the “bad apple” blame game.

 

The “Bad Apple” Blame Game

 

Often when the dirty workings of the capitalist imperialist system are exposed to the public, and its legitimacy or that of some crusade of it is consequently discredited or brought into question, the response is to pretend that some “bad apple” acting outside and against the system’s rules and moral standards is to blame and not the system itself.

 

In which case they’ll scapegoat one or a few of their own agents or puppets (usually as low in rank as possible) and throw them under the bus.

 

We find examples of scapegoating “bad apples” in situations ranging from cases arising from the pigs’ imperialist war practices to their massive prison slave system. Let us examine a few of them.

 

Example #1: Mass Murders in Vietnam

 

We take our first example from the genocidal U.S. war against Vietnam. Enough time has passed where a lot of the dirt that was concealed at the time has surfaced.(1)

 

In the case of Vietnam, which is of course notexceptional, mass murder and massacres of unarmed civilians by U.S. forces were not merely everyday occurrences, but were established military strategy set by officials at the highest levels of planning and command. However, U.S. officials scapegoated Lieutenant William Calley when one such massacre—the infamous My Lai massacre—came to public attention. Public exposure came only because one soldier shaken by his own experiences broke ranks and the military code of silence upon returning to the States and did everything in his power to expose the atrocity. This soldier was Ron Ridenour.

 

On March 16, 1968, Calley led his Charlie Company in a raid on My Lai, a village of women, children and old people. The Company had been specifically instructed the day before by their commanding officer, Captain Ernest Medina, to “kill everything in the village.” And when specifically asked for clarification by one of the company’s artillery gunners if he meant women and children as well, Medina replied, “kill everything that moves.” Even the German Nazis were seldom so explicit.

 

The soldiers went on a killing spree, even pumping bullets into infants at point blank range, and shooting up the village’s livestock. In the middle of this literal orgy of bloodletting and rape of women and young girls, the soldiers settled down for a quiet lunch break then returned to their grisly task. In the end, over 500 civilians lay dead.

 

The top ranking U.S. military commander, General William Westmoreland, commended the massacre, which was falsely portrayed as a gun battle in which 128 enemy fighters were killed.

 

The truth surfaced over a year later when Ridenhour’s efforts managed to gain the attention of investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. Hersh uncovered the massacre and published an article on his findings, including an Army photograph of dozens of dead Vietnamese women and children dumped in a ditch. The image even showed a dead infant’s head stuffed between a dead young female’s legs as if to force it back into the womb.

 

Lieutenant Calley, the lowest ranking officer on whom overall blame could be placed, was portrayed by officials as a mentally unstable “bad apple” responsible for the slaughter. For the murder of 22 civilians, he was prosecuted and sentenced to life in prison, but was quickly released by President Richard Nixon and required to serve only 40 months, most of it in his own quarters.

 

The public bought the official story scapegoating Calley. However, the Army’s own inside investigation found that 28 ranking officers, including two generals, were involved in misconduct related to the My Lai butchery and the cover-up that followed. But of course none were punished and the public never knew of it.

 

Hersh’s article exposing My Lai was published in 35 papers, following which another soldier involved in the massacre, Paul Meadlo, was interviewed on CBS by Mike Wallace, confessing the murder of civilians “and babies.”

 

In an effort at damage control, General Westmoreland appointed General William Peers to lead an inquiry into My Lai solely to give the appearance of the military’s taking action. Westmoreland explicitly instructed Peers not to investigate any actual murders, but to look only into the prior inadequate investigations of the My Lai situation.

 

But Peers went much further and his investigations uncovered massacres like My Lai all over the place, including one in another village, My Khe, which occurred on the same day as My Lai just a few miles up the road.

 

Concerning My Lai, the Peers investigation found such “crimes” committed by the soldiers as “individual and group acts of murder, rape, sodomy, maiming and assault on non-combatants,” with numbers killed in excess of 400 people. Also it found a deliberate cover-up of the massacre by officials “at every command level from company to division.” Subsequently, Westmoreland had Peers and his report censored so they revealed nothing to the public beyond the already published official version. As investigative journalist Nick Turse observed:

 

“The Pentagon was especially dismayed that Peers had chronicled not only the slaughter at My Lai by Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, but also the killings carried out on the same day in the nearby village of My Khe by the men of Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd Infantry. The whole Pentagon strategy centered on portraying My Lai as a one-off aberration rather than part of a consistent pattern of criminality resulting from policies set at the top. Having two different massacres carried out within hours of each other by two entirely different army units in two separate villages was hardly compatible with that message. So when reporters asked about the events at My Khe, Peers sidestepped the questions, and Pentagon briefers simply lied, saying that that massacre had been perpetrated by South Vietnamese troops. ‘Westmoreland covered his ass,’ Colonel Henry Tufts, the head of army criminal investigative command, would observe years later about the chief of staff’s response to the My Lai affair. ‘He did what he had to do to preserve the system.’ Note this insider’s admission that it is the system itself that is fundamentally to blame and had to be protected.”

 

Most telling is that after the Peers report, Westmoreland set up an unofficial task force to investigate future atrocities in Vietnam, the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group. But the purpose of the group was not to stop atrocities nor bring perpetrators to justice. It was instead formed to do the exact opposite—to bury such incidents and protect the U.S. military’s public image. What’s more, the group reported directly to top U.S. military officials and the White House.

 

In fact, My Lai style slaughters were only a tiny factor in the official U.S. military strategy of systematic mass killings of civilians in Vietnam, resulting in millions dead. This strategy, devised at the highest levels of planning and command, was based on targeting the civilian population with bombers, gunships, chemical weapons, experimental weapons designed to inflict high casualties, incendiaries and explosives, etc. The object was to break the large popular opposition to the U.S. invasion and division of Vietnam, and to produce astronomical casualty rates, which were falsely portrayed as enemy troops, killed so as to falsely project U.S. military operations in Vietnam as a “success.”

 

This strategy and its incalculable cost in human life and suffering, as well as environmental destruction, certainly was much larger than a single scapegoat in the form of a low-ranking officer could be responsible for. But it all was whitewashed and covered up by blaming one incident (which was actually part of an overall genocidal strategy that could not be publicly admitted) on a single “bad apple”—Lieutenant William Calley.

 

Example #2: Torture in Iraq

 

The same “bad apple” scapegoat tactic was used when photographs surfaced in 2004 of U.S. soldiers torturing and sexually degrading Arab detainees in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. In response, a handful of low-ranking U.S. soldiers were portrayed as renegades acting on their own. Several of them protested, however, that they were acting on directions of the highest-ranking officials at Abu Ghraib and according to their training.

 

In fact, it was later revealed that the torture and humiliation techniques exposed in those photos were methods refined and practiced under the direction of General Geoffrey Miller at Guantanamo Bay, which the U.S. military and CIA was using as a torture research laboratory during 2002. And in response to widespread resistance to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Miller was transferred to Abu Ghraib in 2003 to implement his techniques on captured Iraqis.(2)

 

Furthermore, as of 2006, in studies conducted by New York University, Human Rights First, and Human Rights Watch, based on government documentation, hundreds of cases of torture of detainees by U.S. forces were found. Among them were over 100 who had died in U.S. custody, including 34 that the Defense Department [sic!] admitted were homicides, many of whom were tortured to death.

 

Long before the 2004 photos or the 2006 reports surfaced, Pentagon officials and then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld knew of and approved what was happening. Scott Morton of the New York Bar Association investigated the targeted prosecutions of U.S. soldiers during the torture scandal and found they were simply being scapegoated. He observed, “the highest profile cases in which the severest sanctions are sought consistently involve those soldiers who … permitted photographic evidence of the crimes at Abu Ghraib to become public knowledge.” He concluded, “it wasn’t the abuse of prisoners which was being punished, but the fact that the military, and particularly Rumsfeld, has been embarrassed by these matters becoming public.”

 

Also, inside Pentagon investigations of detainee torture concluded in 2004 found detainee torture systematic. These investigations were used not to stop torture or to punish its perpetrators, but instead to redefine torture so the abuses could be “legalized.” One such investigative report by Major General Antonio Taguba detailed extensive torture and abuse, although no efforts were made to seriously inquire into torture-related murders in U.S. custody.

 

Taguba’s report was leaked in May 2004 to the media. Shortly afterward, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith, sent an email to ranking U.S. officials warning them not to read the Taguba report, claiming the leak was being investigated for “criminal prosecution” (which is another Pig Playbook tactic; namely, discouraging and silencing whistleblowers from exposing official crimes to the public by persecuting and prosecuting them instead of the criminal acts they expose, and denouncing the public exposures as endangering “national security”—which is being done today to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, pfc Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and various U.S. intelligence agency whistleblowers).

 

The matter of systematic torture of detainees by U.S. forces was testified to by Deborah Pearlstein, former Director of the Law and Security Program at Human Rights First, before the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives on July 21, 2008, to no avail.(3)

 

Only much later (after it could no longer be suppressed that the military and CIA were systematically torturing Arab detainees under the George W. Bush administration, and based on established military policy and memoranda coming directly out of the White House) did President Barack Obama make a public show of denouncing the practices. Yet none of the top-level officials responsible for the torture program faced any punishment.

 

Yet when the matter presented the danger of discrediting and affecting U.S. military policy, detainee torture was portrayed as deviant acts of a few low-ranking soldiers who were scapegoated as “bad apples.”

 

Example #3: Brutality in U.S. Prisons

 

The same goes for U.S. prisons. One account I can personally give. As a published statement I sent out on October 24, 2013 revealed, I and numerous other prisoners here in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ) Bill Clements Unit (BCU), witnessed the murder/wrongful death of another prisoner, Christopher Woolverton, at the hands of BCU officials.

 

Woolverton, a known asthmatic, had been left for several days without help, lying unresponsive on his cell floor in obvious medical distress. He was left in this condition, not accepting meals or his medications, and lying in his own body waste (including bloody stool) for over four days.

 

On October 22, 2013, still lying unresponsive on the floor and posing no threat to anyone, Woolverton was repeatedly sprayed directly in the head and face with large quantities of OC gas by Sergeant Andrew Gratz. Gratz is an extremely abusive and cocky guard almost unanimously disliked by BCU prisoners because of his abusive impunity. The quantity of gas used by him on Woolverton far exceeded that authorized by policy. And both policy and law forbid the use of caustic gas both on asthmatic prisoners and non-disruptives.

 

The assault on Woolverton was supervised by lieutenant Matthew Seymour and nurse Debra Killian, with clearance from the BCU Warden and Major, who personally observed Woolverton on the floor and were briefed on his situation only minutes before he was gassed.

 

Following the gassing, he was subjected to further use of excessive and needless force by guards dressed in full body riot armor raiding the cell. He was then taken out of the cellblock by them for about three minutes unable to walk, then brought back in and left lying unresponsive on the floor of another cell with no property or his asthma inhalers, and still drenched in gas—where he died a few hours later.

 

He was never given any fresh air nor was he decontaminated, as the law requires whenever a prisoner is contaminated with gas. Upon being brought back into the cellblock by the armored group of guards, he had distinctly told them and Gratz, “I can’t breathe.” They ignored him. I spoke out as well, stating he was in obvious medical distress and in need of help. I was also ignored by them.

 

Several other prisoner witnesses and I filed grievances inside the institution about Woolverton’s treatment and the abuse of OC gas. I also sent word to the outside about it, which resulted in wide exposure via reports and an article written and circulated by one of my publishers based largely on my description of the incident.(4)

 

Following this exposure and protests, the nurse Killian was scapegoated and lost her job. Nothing was done to those who had left Woolverton in distress for days, nor who had assaulted him, supervised or authorized it.

 

Instead, all of us who grieved it were told in responses by BCU Assistant Warden James Beach that what happened to Woolverton was none of our business and they had no interest in our statements as witnesses. Here is what Beach wrote in response to my own grievance #2014033040, in relevant part:

 

“The situation that you described has nothing to do with you and you were not involved in this incident concerning offender Woolverton. The incident [,] investigation [and] the result of that investigation will not be discussed with you.”

 

In my appeal of Beach’s response, I pointed out:

 

“Curious . . . that in many other professional investigations of a potentially illegal situation, witnesses are considered to have something to do with such incidents and are consulted in the process of conducting any competent investigation. However, in this notoriously corrupt TDCJ, even vocal witnesses who present actual complaints of witnessing foul play concerning a prisoner’s death are told they have nothing to do with such incidents and are not questioned to even pretend to conduct an impartial investigation, and the involved staffs’ word is simply taken as true. If this isn’t corruption and creating an environment detrimental to our safety and lives, my name is Santa Claus.”

 

In response to my appeal, a TDCJ administrator, Jason Henton, wrote, “You were correctly advised in your step one answer.”

 

A genuine investigation had to be avoided since responsibility for Woolverton’s abuse would go too far up the TDCJ chain of command. And such an investigation could not avoid the conclusion that his death was the result of widespread, long-standing, systemic abuses of force in general and OC gas in particular in the TDCJ and at BCU especially.

 

In fact, a Texas Tribune article published just a month before Woolverton’s death reported that BCU has the highest number of uses of force and OC gas on prisoners in the entire TDCJ. With over 1,500 incidents of uses of chemical agents and over 3,400 uses of “major” force on BCU prisoners just between 2006 and 2012, numbers that the article reports experts find “overwhelming.”(5) What really puts such numbers into perspective is the findings of Texas federal courts that the TDCJ has a culture of malicious and sadistic violence and abuse of chemical agents by guards on prisoners that is worse than in any other U.S. prison system.(6)

 

This situation and Woolverton’s death occurring in the context of such conditions is clearly the result of official policy and not the acts of a few “bad apples,” and certainly not the fault of a mere single nurse.

 

Conclusion

 

Fruit never falls far from its tree. If everywhere we see atrocities occurring at government hands that are passed off as the acts of “bad apples,” but upon closer inspection are revealed to be chronic, systemic and widespread, we must begin to recognize that the tree this bad fruit is falling from is itself thoroughly rotten, and the source and cause of their decay.

 

This tree has a name. It is called capitalist-imperialism—the most putrid and environmentally and socially destructive political-economic system history has known, a decadent system that V. I. Lenin characterized as “rotten ripe for revolution.” Settling for any “solution” short of revolution will see us all go extinct. We must wake up to its designs and stop it cold.

 

Hopefully, these reflections on the PPB will help remove our blinders and fortify our resolve.

 

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!

 

All Power to the People!

 

Notes:

(1) An extensive and thoroughly documented expose on the Vietnam War, which includes source references to much of my discussion in this section, can be found in Nick Turse, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War In Vietnam(Henry Holt, New York, 2013).

(2) On General Miller’s torture program developed at Guantanamo Bay and transferred to Abu Ghraib, see Alfred McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror(Henry Holt, New York, 2006) pp, 126-30, 133-34, 137, 153-56.

(3) See Deborah Pearlstein’s testimonial account of the 2006 torture reports and official efforts to hide the Taguba report, before the Committee on the Judiciary at http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/pdf/Pearlstein080715.pdf.

(4) Karl Kersplebedeb, “Asthmatic Prisoner Doused With Pepper Spray, Refused Medical Care, Dies: Just Another Day in the Texas Prison System,” November 8, 2013, at rashidmod.com.

(5) Brandi Grissom, “Violence Behind Bars—A Tie to Mental Illness,” The Texas Tribune, September 22, 2013.

(6) See Ruiz v. Johnson, 37 F. Supp. 2d 855 (S. D. Tex. 1999); Ruiz v. Johnson, 154 F. Supp. 2d 976 (S.D. Tex. 2001); also my article on the extensively documented abusive nature of Texas prisons, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, “U.S. Prison Practices Would Disgrace a Nation of Savages: Texas—A Case on Record,” at rashidmod.com

Letters: Sean Swain, Richard Romero Jr., Piru Umoja

May 26, 2014

Dear Friends –

 

I’m enclosing a couple of things. First, a photo of me in my cell reading 4Struggle. Feel free to use it however you like. Second, I’m submitting an article for publication. It’s a critique of Socialism from an Anarchist perspective. I could submit this to an Anarchist publication and everyone reading it would agree with me, or I could send it to you with a decidedly larger Socialist-oriented readership, and possibly begin an interesting dialogue.

 

In other stuff, I recently did an interview with part of a podcast posted at http://www.ashevillefm.org/the-final-straw. New work at seanswain.org includes “Colonizer’s Corpse” about staying sane in solitary (through resistance), and a response to Gender Anarky’s criticism of the California Hunger Strike.

 

Stay dangerous.

 

Freedom,

 

Sean Swain

 

 

Richard Romero Jr.
SCI Greene
175 Progress Dr.
Waynesburg, PA 15370

 

To: The Comrades of 4Struggle Mag,

 

First, I send you my salute and 360° respect for your work in connecting and propagating revolutionary-minded individuals and their words. I have just received issue 22 for spring 2013. In the first article titled “Introduction to Issue 22,” brother Jaan Karl Laaman stated that it is being worked on to have an elder of the Puerto Rican Independence Movement contribute an article more frequently. Well, this gave me a smile from ear-to-ear as most of the time the liberation struggle of Puerto Ricans is either overlooked or omitted in many self-proclaimed revolutionary sources. So I thank you very much for this. I personally am not an elder (only 27 years old), but I am a dedicated Puerto Rican patriot and communist. So I felt compelled to contribute something. I appended a poem that I had written in 2011 and that has only collected dust. If you are not hindered by space constraints, I would appreciate the inclusion of the poem in your next issue. Hopefully it will touch the heart of some of my brothers and sisters being held captive in other gulags and compel them to stand up. Your work and time is greatly appreciated.

 

Yours,

 

Romero

 

P.S. I will be forwarding essays in the immediate future.

 

 

To my beloved brother Jaan,

 

Peace and blessings to you, my brother, and all those within your realm whose aim is to eradicate all forms of oppression. Despite the circumstances, I’m remaining strong in the face of adversity.

 

My brother, I want to applaud you for giving us prisoners a way to voice our concerns and issues to the public abroad and to further reach the youth. What you’re doing is very tremendous. I’ve been meaning to write you for quite a while now. Unfortunately, I’ve been pre-occupied with so much legal work that my communication with everyone has been temporarily placed on hold; at least until I completed my motion, which required my undivided attention. Now that I have some spare time, I’m responding to all my mail. Since I’m writing to the magazine, I figured I’ll write you as well, my brother, to applaud you on what you’re doing.

 

My brother, at the moment I’m financially indigent. I look to prevail on a pending lawsuit in which my dreads was yanked out my head and then I was thrown down 2 flights of stairs while in handcuffs towards my back. I will be sure to donate financially provided I prevail, my brother.

 

Until then and afterwards, I can donate my services in the form of writing articles that can be printed within the 4strugglemag. The title of the article I am sending the 4strugglemag is “Your Struggle is My Struggle.”

 

I look forward to communicating with you, my brother. You stay safe, strong, focused and healthy. Tough times don’t last, tough people do.

 

Salutes…Piru Love

 

 

America’s War Against Black Power

May 26, 2014

BY CHARLENE MUHAMMAD

FinalCall.com

Human rights activists are calling on the government to grant amnesty and unconditional freedom to all political prisoners incarcerated because of COINTELPRO, a secret federal law enforcement program that destroyed Black and dissident organizations in the 1960s and 1970s.

Men and women who sacrificed their lives so others could enjoy civil liberties and human rights in America are now aging and suffering failing health as they languish in prison, some for 40 years, and many in solitary confinement cells, unfit even for dogs, said their advocates.

It is imperative that those they fought for remember and fight for them, said the activists.

J. Edgar Hoover, former head of the FBI, began the covert, illegal CounterIntelligence Program in 1956 to destroy militant organizations.

The National Jericho Movement, which advocates for political prisoners inside the United States, wants emergency congressional hearings on the impact and continuing legacy of America’s domestic war against soldiers in the Black Liberation Struggle. It also wants political prisoners released and some activists want the freedom fighters compensated for their unjust suffering.

“The effort to try to expose the horrible impact of the FBI’s CounterIntelligence Program has been an ongoing thing,” said Jihad Abdulmumit, chair of the National Jericho Movement. That exposure undergirds Jericho’s push for the congressional hearings. Although Mr. Hoover announced in 1971 that COINTELPROhad ended after the anonymous Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI exposed the program, secret government operations, set-ups, stool pigeon operations and political assassinations continue today, activists warned.

“COINTELPRO by any other name is still COINTELPRO. … Homeland Security as an institution of the United States security now, the Patriot Act, the Anti-Terrorism Effective Death Penalty Act I and II—all of this now has really led up to still what we have today as a CounterIntelligence Program and the War on Terrorism,” Mr. Abdulmumit told The Final Call.

The online petition, “Jericho: Congressional Hearing on Cointelpro’s Legacy and Continuing Impact,” is part of Jericho’s attempts to educate people and have the U.S. government revisit COINTELPRO’s continuing legacy.

In the future, the group plans to deliver the petitions to Congressional Black Caucus members and the record of a 2011 Peoples’ Tribunal Hearings on COINTELPRO. Organizers hope the campaign will inspire Black Caucus members to speak up for political prisoners. They also hope to send 100,000 signatures to the Obama administration before he leaves office.


The Time and What Must Be Done

In this April 6, 2005 file photo, Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt speaks during funeral services for attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. at the West Angeles Cathedral in Los Angeles.

In the 1960s and 1970s era of COINTELPRO, and actually going back to the 1930s, Black leaders, activists and the community knew they were under attack and fought back, often through self-help and independent education campaigns, according to Mr. Abdulmumit.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad introduced a Black Self-Help Program and Economic Blueprint to promote independence through pooling resources and building businesses. He opened schools to educate Muslims and children in the Black community. The Black Panthers started a free breakfast program for children and armed self-defense programs in response to deadly police brutality.

Today in the “age of Obama,” the lines are blurred, Mr. Abdulmumit noted. The painful question Blacks must raise is how did they, after making so much progress in conscious and collective action, let that culture slip right from their hands? he noted.

Black leaders have become beguiled by materialism, the former slave master’s system and they’ve taken their eyes off the future, said Mr. Abdulmumit.

A plan by Senators Richard “Dick” Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) sought $30 million to arrest and imprison 18,000 so-called members of the Gangster Disciples street organization and were opposed notably by Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and Father Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church on Chicago’s Southside.

“That you would marshal the forces of the federal government, and come into our community and sweep 18,000 so-called members of the Gangster Disciples—and you’ve already carved out a prison that you could put them in?  How many of you have ever sat down to think of how you can solve the problem by creating jobs and employment for the young people in the inner-cities of America, particularly Chicago and Los Angeles?” Minister Farrakhan asked.

The proposal out of Chicago absolutely speaks to the evolution of COINTELPRO, Mr. Abdulmumit argued. There is no revolutionary culture as such in the U.S. as was in the 60s and the 70s, but there is still a massive powder keg and that’s Black youth today, he said. “The effort of the government and the forces that be has always been to make sure that this powder keg mass, its consciousness is never awakened, so what’s happened is that vacuum that’s been created is the demise of a lot of these revolutionary organizations either through death or imprisonment over time.”

We want freedom

Some political prisoners targeted by COINTELPRO are more well-known than others, partly because of efforts like the FBI’s million-dollar bounty against Assata Shakur, who is exiled in Cuba. Ms. Shakur, a Black Liberation Army member, has been living in exile since 1984 after she escaped from prison in 1979. Ms. Shakur, formerly known as Joanne Chesimard, was convicted of murdering a New Jersey State Trooper in 1977, but she has maintained her innocence. Her supporters have denounced the FBI’s $2 million bounty and listing her as an armed and dangerous terrorist.

The late Geronimo “ji-Jaga” Pratt, a Vietnam War veteran and high-ranking leader of the Black Panther Party, served 27 years in prison and after a long-fought legal battle forced his release in 1997. His wrongful conviction for murdering a White couple was shown to be a set-up tied to a government informant.

Imam Jamil al-Amin

There’s Jalil Muntaqim, co-founder of the Jericho Amnesty Movement, a former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army member. He was convicted of killing two police officers in New York and has spent 42 years in prison. Supporters are pushing an online petition to Tina Stanford, chairwoman of the New York Board of Parole, seeking his parole this year.

There’s Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin whom supporters argue was wrongfully convicted in the 2000 shooting of two Fulton County deputies, one died, in Atlanta. He is serving life in a federal Super-Max underground prison in Colorado.

The incarceration of Imam Al-Amin, former Black Panther leader H. Rap Brown, represents COINTELPRO finally “getting their man” in a ridiculous case where someone confessed to the crime, but the FBI will not acknowledge the confession, Mr. Abdulmumit said.

Nearly six months after his 70th birthday, Russell Maroon Shoatz was recently released from solitary confinement under court order and after the involvement of United Nations Rapporteur Juan Mendez on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment and Punishment.  His release ended more than 22 consecutive years in isolation. The former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army member was convicted of murdering a cop in Pennsylvania and sentenced to life imprisonment.

On December 7, 2011, prosecutors announced they were dropping their quest for the death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a journalist and former Black Panther, convicted in 1981 on charges of killing a police officer in Philadelphia.

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mr. Abu-Jamal was removed from death row after his case was taken to the Supreme Court on appeal. He’s now jailed for life without the possibility of parole, but his supporters remain vigilant in their fight for his release and exoneration.

Marshall Eddie Conway, another former Black Panther Party member, was recently released due to a faulty jury instruction after serving 44 years in prison in solitary confinement. “An error in the jury instructions is a far step away from saying that Eddie Conway is a freedom fighter, which he is in our book, and he should be released on that alone,” Mr. Abdulmumit said.

“Our position is that we should be released on the fact of we were political prisoners and victims of this counterintelligence, victims of these conditions. We are freedom fighters … just like Nelson Mandela. Just like people are celebrating him as a hero now, that’s how our political prisoners should be treated.”

Many feel that’s naïve or unachievable but it’s Jericho’s position and battle, and God knows best, he continued.

Activists say getting fighters who are dying in prison out remains paramount, especially cases based on contradictions and injustices thanks to lawyers like Bob Boyle, Soffiyah Elijah, Lynne Stewart and others.

Herman Wallace, diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, died at age 71, less than a week after being released from prison. He was one of the Angola 3 convicted of stabbing a prison guard.  He served more than four tortuous decades in solitary confinement in a Louisiana prison, but maintained his innocence until his death. Mr. Wallace and Albert Woodfox said they were targeted for helping to set up a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party at Angola State Prison in 1971. International supporters of the Angola 3 are still fighting for Mr. Woodfox’s release.

Activist Efia Nwangaza, director of the Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination in Greenville, S.C., feels America must not only remedy wrongs against political prisoners, but also compensate victims and survivors of government plots and targeting.

Jericho’s list includes hundreds and many are Muslims, according to Mr. Abdulmumit. It also includes Native American freedom fighter Leonard Peltier, Oscar Lopez Rivera and other Puerto Rican nationalists, as well as some White anti-imperialists, he said.

“It’s important that we keep that challenge before the U.S. government kind of the way that the Jewish community keeps before the public the wrongs that it suffered at the hands of the Germans and its holocaust. We must be as vigilant in reminding our oppressors of the wrongs of our holocaust or Maafa as we call it.”

Unfortunately, the often apathetic response to U.S. political prisoners, the notion they must have done something wrong if they’re behind bars, is symptomatic of the pathology living under White Supremacy engenders, Ms. Nwangaza said.

But what’s worse, she continued, is most Blacks aren’t aware of COINTELPRO or the existence of political prisoners. Many are blinded by a harsh, daily economic, social and political struggle to survive, others embrace willful ignorance, she noted.

“It’s sort of like the question of reparations. As we get generations away from the actual violation of the holocaust of enslavement, the less we know about it and therefore the less we are outraged by it and the less we feel entitled to compensation for it,” Ms. Nwangaza continued.

Most aging political prisoners are enduring excessive sentences, disproportionately held in solitary confinement, suffering from severe illnesses and prisons are not responding to their needs, activists added.

There must also be an investigation into deaths that occurred during the COINTELPRO-civil rights-Black Power era, activists said.

Harry Farrell peers out from between Eldridge Cleaver
and Bobby Seale in a photo that became a Black Panther
poster. Photo: AP/Wide World photos

“Who killed Bobby Hutton? And whatever was done about that?” asked Ms. Nwangaza. Bobby Hutton was a teenage member of Panther Party killed in California. Likewise the 1969 killings of Chicago Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark and the relationship to the larger national campaign of the U.S. government must never be forgotten, she said. The dynamic leader Hampton and comrade Clark died in a hail of bullets fired into their West Side apartment. The Panthers were asleep, drugged by a sedative put in their drinks by an informant, activists have long charged. “While authorities claimed the Panthers had opened fire on the police who were there to serve a search warrant for weapons, evidence later emerged that told a very different story: that the FBI, the Cook
County state’s attorney’s office and the Chicago police conspired to assassinate Fred Hampton,” said Juan Gonzalez in a broadcast of the news program Democracy Now in 2009. The program marked
the 40th anniversary of Black Panther Fred Hampton’s death.