Asheville #August21 Prison Strike meetup

What does prisoner support mean to you? Is it personal, political, a mix of the two? Is it something you’ve wanted to get involved in but haven’t known how? Prison rebels are gearing up for a massive action that will result in repression and the need for outside support; so now is the time to…

June 11th Benefit Bbq in Asheville

Join Blue Ridge ABC and other community members for a potluck, grill out to share space and celebrate long term anarchist prisoners, including Marius Mason.  Bring some food to share if you can. Begins at 6pm, Monday the 11th at 6pm at West Asheville Park (off of Vermont Ave). j11 2018 pdf flyer

June 11, 2018: A Day Against Oblivion

“June 11th is an international day of solidarity with Marius Mason and all long-term anarchist prisoners. A spark in the eternal night of state repression. A day set aside for honoring those who have been stolen from us. On this day, we share in songs, events, and actions to celebrate our captured comrades and loved ones. In years past, June 11th celebrations have been international and wide-ranging – from potlucks with friends to various inspiring attacks; fundraising benefits and prisoner letter writing nights to all of the untold and unknown ways we keep the flame alive.”

Read the June 11th 2018 callout here:
https://june11.noblogs.org/post/2018/04/07/june-11-2018-a-day-against-oblivion/

Join us at 6:00PM on Monday, June 11th, in West Asheville Park for a potluck bbq in honor of our imprisoned comrades.

Vegan and GF options will be provided!

 

The Gentleman Bank Robber: Free Film at UNCA

To cap off the weekend of the UNCA Queer Studies Conference on “Prisons, Borders and Pipelines: Toward a Queer Abolitionist Movement”, Blue Ridge ABC & Tranzmission Prison Project will be presenting a documentary film entitled “The Gentleman Bank Robber: The Story of Butch Lesbian Freedom Fighter rita bo brown.”

From the filmmaker:

The Gentleman Bank Robber is a portrait of revolutionary rita bo brown, a white working class butch from rural Oregon who became known as “The Gentleman Bank Robber” in the 1970s for combining her butch style of dress with a polite way of demanding funds from bank tellers. The film moves between everyday moments with bo in and around her current home in Oakland, California, and historical retelling of the events of bo’s extraordinary life through interviews with bo and her collaborators, archival materials, and rare social movement ephemera. The Gentleman Bank Robber weaves together personal and political perspectives on 20th century social movement histories, including queer liberation in the 1960s; militant, underground activity with the George Jackson Brigade in the 1970s, a revolutionary prison abolitionist group; political prisoner support work in the 1980s, and prison activist work into the present day. bo brown is a model for how to lead a life of committed activism while maintaining a sense of humor and humanity.

Learn more about the film and watch a trailer at Julie Perini’s website.

Can’t make it?  No worries, we’ll be showing it again in Asheville in mid-June.  Details forthcoming.

bo brown has been diagnosed with Lewys Body Dimentia, a degenerative and terminal neurological disease.  To learn more about bo’s health and to donate to her healthcare fund, visit youcaring.com.

TROUBLE showing, April 1st, 7pm @ Firestorm

Rather than our normal film-showing on the last Friday of the month, we’re joining our Trouble showing to the end of letter writing.  5pm, Sunday the 1st of April at Firestorm, come down and write some letters and meet BRABC friends.  Stay for the showing of Trouble at 7pm.  A description follows:

Destroying Domination: Revolutionary Feminism in an Age of Misogynist Reaction

Today, decades of hard-fought victories in the struggle for female emancipation are under threat from waves of resurgent misogyny. From attacks on abortion and reproductive justice, to the revival and spread of religious fundamentalism and authoritarian nationalism… patriarchy is on the march. Meanwhile, as the corporate media celebrates the #TimesUp movement initiated by rich women in Hollywood, femicide, sexual exploitation and rape continue to tear more marginalized communities apart.

Systems of male domination lie at the very roots of capitalism and state power. During periods of political crisis and counter-revolution, women, and all those who eschew their socially-assigned gender roles, are often the first to be targeted for repression and increased violence. In part, this is because of the important position that women have always occupied, as the beating hearts of communities of resistance. But this repression is also intended as a token gesture to working-class men that are upset by their declining social and economic status, and who rather than focus their rage at their true enemies – the rich and powerful – have historically and consistently opted to clutch ever tighter to their positions of relative power and control over their would-be female comrades.

In this month’s edition of Trouble, sub.Media takes a look at patriarchy as an enduring system of social, economic and political control, and shares stories from some of the front-line struggles being waged by women around the world – from Indigenous communities fighting against the colonial dispossession of their lands, to the challenges faced by migrants forced from their homes by economic inequality, climate change, and war.
Love & Tacos,
The Troublemakers @ sub.Media

BRABC Benefit Show Friday, 2/16

This will be a benefit to help with local activists legal fees. Suggested $5-$20 donation. If you’d like to donate but can’t make it please contact us via our contact page!
  Doors @ 6p.m. Show at 7:30 p.m.

Here are the acts in no particular order, invite all your friends!
-Kreamy Lectric’ Santa
https://kreamylectricsanta.bandcamp.com/track/everything

-Chris Head
https://chrishead.bandcamp.com/

-Cloudgayzer
https://cloudgayzer.bandcamp.com/

-Falcon Mitts
https://soundcloud.com/patrickkukucka

-Secret Shame
https://secretshame.bandcamp.com/

TROUBLE #10: Student Organizing

On Friday, 2/23 at Firestorm, #BlueRidgeABC continues it’s tradition of showing the newest episode of TROUBLE immediately upon it’s release from the video gulags deep in the tundra of Klanada by the hard-working proles at sub.media. Join us at 7:30pm the last Friday of the month to watch and discuss the film.  Here’s a flyer for this episode’s airing in #Asheville.

This month, come and see their second episode on student organizing. The first, available for free at sub.media, covers the student strikes in Montreal of 2013, student revolt from the dictatorship through the Penguin Revolution til today, and anti-austerity organizing by students in Puerto Rico.

February 2018 Letter Writing Night

Join us at Firestorm on Sunday, February 4th (5:00-7:30PM) for an evening of solidarity with long term political prisoners: people who are locked up for their activism and resistance to systems of domination and oppression.

This week we also need help addressing copies of Prison Action News to incarcerated subscribers.

Richard Mafundi Lake

Long Time Held Political Prisoner Mafundi Lake transitioned January 21, 2018.  Mafundi was found on the floor of his cell on that day. His wife Carolyn says that Mafundi suffered from various health conditions and had suffered three strokes in the past.

Richard Mafundi Lake, Family Hour was on Saturday, January 27, 2018. Survivors are his loving wife, Carolyn Lake; children, Dr. Vanessa Anderson, Richard (Janice) Harris, Sonya (Patrick) Lloyd, Clinton (Vanessa) Hagler, Assata Lake, and Maia Lake; sisters, Veronica Lumpkin and Theda Craig; and brother, Stephen Lake.

You can leave a condolence message for Mafundi’s family:
https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/richard-lake-obituary?pid=1000000187972518&view=guestbook

Mafundi’s decades of schooling the youth in Alabama prisons makes him the progenitor of the Free Alabama Movement and the current, burgeoning prison abolition movement across the country.

Mafundi was one of our longest held political prisoners – 38 Years!

Mafundi served as the National Organizer for the African National Prison Organization in the late seventies and early eighties. He was also a main organizer of the Atmore-Holman Brothers inside the Alabama prison system. He was originally set up on a false robbery charge and convicted of a felony crime. He was a high school senior at the time. He turned his resistance into activism during that first prison term by organizing prisoners against attacking one another at the behest of the guards, establishing basic education and law classes for Black and white prisoners, and putting together a group called Inmates for Action. He remained an activist upon his release; he organized a defense committee for prisoners, support for their families, documentation of police brutalization of the community, corruption, graft – and presented the findings to the City Council and in public forums.

Mafundi was locked up again in September 19, 2001 for allegedly creating a security hazard by writing anti-American propaganda on the black board during an Islamic service. Mafundi stated that he was leading a discussion regarding reparations for Black people for enslavement and centuries of injustices. He was re-imprisoned as a consequence of anti-islamic hysteria after 9/11.

In a recent letter from Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun, formerly known as Melvin Ray, of the Free Alabama Movement:

“Our Elder Richard “Mafundi” Lake used to always express to us the importance of studying our history in our struggle. Baba Mafundi used to say, “Black people can find the answers to all of our problems by studying Black History.” Then he would say, “See, you got to organize the people.” That precept, ORGANIZE, is one of the pillars of civilization that our Ancestors left to us. They organized! every facet of their life. Indeed, the process of life itself, and all things in the universe, is organized. And if we are to achieve our goal within this movement, then we, too, must organize – because the opposition is already organized.”

Erik King

Eric suddenly and tragically lost his brother recently. Grieving the loss of a loved one is tough as it is, but for almost two weeks now Eric has been trying to figure out the best way to mourn the loss of his brother in an already dark place. While EK is not in the head space right now to be able to respond to the letters and cards he has been receiving he’d like everyone to know all the love and support he has received reminds him that he is not alone in this fight. He wanted to apologize for taking a longer time to respond to folks who are reaching than he’d like. Receiving the news was clearly devastating for EK and moving forward has certainly been a struggle, so please keep him in your thoughts while he navigates through this difficult time. We encourage you to keep the cards and letters coming because it’s those incoming communications full of light that can really help to keep his spirits up. Here is Eric’s address once again:

Eric King # 27090045
FCI FLORENCE
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
PO BOX 6000
FLORENCE, CO 81226

Thank you so much for your continued support.
-EK Support Crew

February Birthdays

Veronza Bowers, Jr.

Birthday: February 4

Veronza Bowers, Jr. 35316-136
FMC Butner
Post Office Box 1600
Butner, North Carolina 27509

Veronza was a member of the Black Panther Party, convicted in the murder of a U.S. Park Ranger on the word of two government informants, both of whom received reduced sentences for other crimes by Federal prosecutors. There were no eye-witnesses and no evidence independent of the informants to link him to the crime. At trial, Veronza offered alibi testimony, not credited by the jury. Nor was testimony of two relatives of the informants who insisted that they were lying. The informants had all charges against them in this case dropped and one was given $10,000 by the government according to the prosecutor’s post-sentencing report. Veronza has consistently proclaimed his innocence of the crime he never committed, even at the expense of having his appeals for parole denied for which an admission of guilt and contrition is virtually required.

Norman Edgar Lowry Jr.

Birthday: February 4

Norman Edgar Lowry Jr. KN 9758
SCI Dallas
1000 Follies Road
Dallas, Pennsylvania 18612

Norman was sentenced to 1-7 years in May 2012 for his third trespass at a military recruiting office in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Kamau Sadiki

Birthday: February 19

Freddie Hilton #0001150688
Augusta State Medical Prison
3001 Gordon Highway
Grovetown, Georgia 30813

Kamau Sadiki is a former member of the Black Panther Party and was convicted of a 30-year old murder case of a Fulton County Police Officer found shot to death in his car outside a service station.

Oso Blanco

Birthday: February 26

Byron Chubbuck #07909-051
USP Victorville
Post Office Box 3900
Adelanto, California 92301

Indigenous rights activist serving 80 years for bank robbery, aggravated assault on the FBI, escape and firearms charges. A confidential informant reported that Oso was robbing banks in order to acquire funds to support the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico throughout 1998-99.

The Heat is On: Update on Week 1 of Operation Push!

One week ago prison rebels across Florida launched Operation PUSH. Their demands were simple: end prison slavery and price gouging, restore access to parole, and put an end to the brutal conditions they are subjected to daily.

Information has been slow to trickle out due to intense repression and communication blackouts, but we know there has been strike participation at 15+ prisons, and we know that support on the outside is growing, with 150+ organizations endorsing the action and major solidarity actions in Florida occurring at various locations, including a 5-hour long occupation of the DOC office in Tallahassee.

The repression is already starting to come down: people being thrown into solitary confinement; being threatened with violence; being bribed to end their action and inform on other strike organizers; being transferred to new facilities to disburse strike activity throughout the system and isolate people.

One disturbing feature of this repression is DOC’s focus on identifying specific groups coordinating support on the outside such as the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons and IWOC and disrupting prisoners’ communication with these groups.
Prison organizers who correspond with these groups are being targeted for having their “security threat level” increased–a practice that translates into greater isolation and harsher conditions of confinement. One prisoner was told point blank, “As long as you communicate with these people you’re always going to be labelled a security threat and you’re always going to be put under investigation.”

Communication has been curtailed so severely that it’s hard to know how much of an economic impact the strike has had so far; we do know that in some cases scab labor has been brought in to keep facilities running. This state of uncertainty is a strategy prison administrators use to sap organizing energy. As IWOC recently wrote, “a common theme among report backs is the attempt to sever communication in order to create the perception of inactivity and break the spirits of those participating in the strike.”

But strikers won’t be fooled so easily, and neither will we. We will keep showing up because those on the inside are putting it all on the line, and we are in absolute solidarity with their courageous acts of resistance.

NOW IS THE TIME TO STEP UP OUR SUPPORT!

More info

Operation Push

Operation Push Flyer

On January 15, people imprisoned across Florida will begin a “lay down” to cripple the state’s system of prison slave labor and to challenge the brutal conditions they experience daily.

Thousands across the state will not go to work, go to chow, make purchases from the prison canteen, go to visits, use the phone system, or participate in any activity that feeds or is fed by the legalized extortion racket and slave labor system that is Florida state prison!

The best way folks can help from Asheville/far away:

*1)* *Spread the word! * The media rarely pays attention to prison struggles, so getting the word out is CRUCIAL; send to any contacts you have in the media and people you know, especially in Florida; share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (#OperationPush #layitdown #endprisonslavery)

*2) Attend a letter-writing night hosted by **Blue Ridge ABC on Sunday 1/21 (4-6pm @ Firestorm). *One week into the lay down we’ll gather to send messages of solidarity to folks who are striking–they have asked specifically for this form of support! Check out BRABC’s Facebook page for upcoming event details, updates, media coverage and more!

*3) Look out for updates from BRABC. *Prison rebels will face repression. Organizers will be posting about needs as they arise and BRABC will be sending out these updates as they occur. https://www.facebook.com/BlueRidgeABC/

*4) Get Informed! *Below, read an article from Florida prison revolutionary Kevin “Rashid” Johnson on Operation Push; and to listen to an interview with a lead organizer with the action on the outside, listen here: https://thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org/

*Links:*

YouCaring Donations to send 1000+ zines publicizing the strike into prisons
statewide
https://www.youcaring.com/operationpush-1051439

Gainesville IWOC
https://incarceratedworkers.org/branches/gainesville
https://www.facebook.com/Gainesville-IWOC-995837620542847/

Fight Toxic Prisons
https://fighttoxicprisons.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Campaign-to-Fight-Toxic-Prisons-1744188675811724/

SPARC Network
https://www.facebook.com/SPARC-133851070619730/

Blue Ridge ABC
https://www.facebook.com/BlueRidgeABC/

———–

*Florida** Prisoners Are Laying It Down*

*By Kevin “Rashid” Johnson*

During early 2018 prisoners across Florida are gonna “laydown”
in nonviolent protest of the intolerable conditions in Florida’s prisons.

The objectionable conditions being protested include unpaid
slave labor, compounded by outright price-gouging in the system’s
commissary and package services, and the gain-time scam that replaced
parole, which, coupled with extreme sentencing, has created overcrowding
and inhumane conditions.

The “laydown” will consist of a prisoner work stoppage and
their refusal to participate in any state-sanctioned or related activities,
and is planned to last for several weeks, or perhaps indefinitely, until
their concerns are addressed.

It is imperative that the public be aware of the prisoners’
need for resolutions and of their abuses.

A Culture of Abuse, Corruption and Inhumane Conditions

Having been confined in the Florida Department of Corruption
(FDOC) for six months at the time of writing this, and being able to
contrast conditions here with those in other prison systems (Florida’s is
my fourth state prison system in six years), I can personally attest that
conditions here are among the worst I’ve seen.

In fact, the past four months have passed without me writing
any articles, and during that time I have fallen behind in my own legal
pursuits because I’ve been overwhelmed trying to help others’ efforts and
needs to counter and challenge the extreme levels of abuse occurring
constantly around me here at Florida State Prison (FSP).

On a literal daily basis prisoners are gassed, tortured and/or
brutally beaten by guards with the full complicity of medical and mental
health staff. As part of this culture of abuse, grievance officials
routinely trash prisoners’ attempts to grieve their mistreatment. This to
eliminate any records of the abuses and to frustrate any potential attempts
at litigation (1).

These and attendant conditions illustrate the inhumane and
unjust outrages that Florida prisoners are protesting.

Take for example that FDOC prisoners are forced to work without
pay. Only one job pays a token wage (namely the prison commissary), which,
at $50 a month, is lower than 3rd world sweatshop rates.

The enforced slave labor in the FDOC is a literal continuation
of the old antebellum slave system, selectively enforced against people of
color and the poor and based upon the 13th Amendment which only modified
slavery at the end of the Civil War in 1865, to permit enslavement of those
convicted of crimes. It was under this reformed slavery that Blacks were
targeted for re-enslavement and the FDOC was established three years later
in 1868 which the FDOC proudly boasts on its seal (2).

Coupled with Florida prisoners receiving no wages, they must
purchase basic hygiene supplies, seasonal clothing, shoes and supplemental
foods and beverages from a grossly overpriced commissary and package
system, which weighs heavily on their loved ones. Otherwise prisoners must
do without.

Again, by contrasting the FDOC with other prison systems that
I’ve been recently confined to, I can readily illustrate and attest to this
pricing scam. In fact, those on the outside can compare the prices between
FDOC’s packaging system with that in Texas, by visiting access.comand
FloridaPackages.com for Florida prices and
going to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (sic!) website and
going to Ecommdirect.com for Texas prices.

FDOC prices are literally double or more the prices of the same
or similar items sold to Texas prisoners. Here are some random examples
comparing the 2017 prices of the same or similar items sold to FDOC versus
TDCJ prisoners:

1. A Speed Stick deodorant is $2.50 (TX); while a generic Oraline Secure
roll-on deodorant is $4.00 (FL);

2. One AA battery is $.27 (TX); a pack of two AA batteries is $3.02 (FL);

3. A roll of toilet paper is $.50 (TX); $1.00 (FL);

4. Ten letter size envelopes are $.30 (TX); $.80 (FL);

5. Multivitamins—100 count—are $2.30 (TX); $7.21 (FL);

7. A 3.5 ounce pouch of mackerel fillets is $.85 (TX); $1.59 (FL);

8. A 4 ounce bag of coffee is $.85 and $1.90 (TX); $6.03 (FL);

9. One Top Ramen soup is $.30 (TX); $.70 (FL);

10. Ten individual packs of oatmeal are $1.50 (TX); $5.30 (FL);

11. A bottle of nasal spray is $1.85 (TX); $8.75 (FL), and so on.

Again, these are only random samples showing the comparative
overpricing of items sold to FDOC prisoners. It should also be kept in
mind that the quality of goods sold by prison vendors are typically
inferior to those sold to the general public.

Forced to work without pay and to purchase goods at usurious
prices, while most come from poor communities, prisoners are especially
vulnerable to such pricing scams, and most obviously cannot afford to
purchase basic necessities, supplement the inadequate prison meals and
nutrition, and acquire the few allowed amenities at the prices set by the
FDOC.

This is particularly problematic where, as the Florida media
has exposed, the FDOC has been caught denying its prisoners such basic
necessities as toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, etc. and have issued and
forced them to wear clothes that are threadbare and literally shredded.
They are also made to live in housing units that are falling apart around
them. (3)

And while prison officials love to profess their function to be
that of “rehabilitating” those they confine so that they might become
productive members of society upon release, nothing be further from the
truth. Slavery does not teach one work ethic nor how to be free.

With little to no outside support, most prisoners areforced to
hustle and scheme as a means of acquiring necessities and amenities.
Forcing people to work without pay while denying them needed and desired
things, only teaches them to becomes thieves, predators and swindlers. So
officials are actually teaching criminality. Which is only reinforced by
the culture of corruption that pervades the FDOC, which is beyond the pale.

Some of that corruption began to come out in the media during
and after 2014 when outside protests and litigation exposed patterns of
FDOC prisoners being killed by officials and covered up at the highest
administrative and investigative levels. Particularly the murder of a
mentally ill prisoner, Darren Rainey, in 2012 by guards scalding him to
death in a rigged shower at Dade Correctional Institution which was swept
under the rug until exposed in 2014.

The public exposure of this incident and the attempts to cover
it up opened a can of worms, leading to the exposure of numerous other
killings, routine malicious beatings and gassings of prisoners by guards,
systemic denials of mental health care, and more, as a deeply entrenched
statewide culture (which continues) (4).

Also exposed was a system of retaliations, firings and
harassments against investigators and other staff who tried to report or
expose such abuses, engineered at highest levels of power in the FDOC. (5)

This abusive environment has been made all the worse by such
staffing problems as frequent guard turnovers, low pay, chronic
understaffing, and a generally inadequately trained and unprofessional
staff body.

These are among the many inhumane and intolerable conditions
and abuses that FDOC prisoners suffer every day with no voice or help, and
which they are protesting for relief from. They need and deserve all
possible support.

Dare to struggle, dare to win!

All Power to the people!

*__________________________*

*1. Under federal law prisoners must exhaust any existing prison grievance
procedures before filing suit. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). This requirement
is however invalidated when officials obstruct a prisoner’s
grievances. Turner v. Burnside, 541 F. 3d 1077, 1083—84 (11th cir. 2008).*

*2. See, Jessica Lipscomb, “Unpaid Florida Prisoners Forced to Clean Up
After Hurricane Irma,” The New Times, Sept. 28, 2017.*

*3. Mary Ellen Klas, “Florida Prisons Have Toilet Paper, But They’re Not
Supplying it to Some Inmates,” Miami Herald, July 19, 2017; Paula Dockery,
“Inspector General Fiasco Adds to Prison Woes,” Florida Today, May 9, 2015.*

*4. A series of many , many reports covering these issues have come out in
the Miami Herald from 2014 to present, many written by journalists Julie K.
Brown and Mary Ellen Klas. These reports are too numerous to list here but
can be reviewed online by interested readers.*

*5. Julie K. Brown, “Top Cop Accused of Thwarting Investigations Quits
Florida Prison System,” Miami Herald, December 21, 2016; Mary Ellen Klas
and Julie K. Brown, “New Prison Policy Punishes Investigators Who Speak
Out,’Miami Herald, February 5, 2015, Mary Ellen Klas, “Florida Prison
Inspectors Detail Alleged Interference in Their Investigations,” Miami
Herald, June 1, 2016*