July Prisoner Letter Writing Night

Come on down to Firestorm in Asheville from 5-7pm for our monthly political prisoner letter writing night, where we write to prisoners with upcoming birthdays or facing repression. This month, one receiver of our letters is Nina Droz Franco. From NYC ABC:

Nina Alejandra Droz Franco was arrested by the Puerto Rico Police as she sat on the street to block a line of riot cops during disturbances that followed a 2017 May Day march. Later that day, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) took over the investigation. On May 2nd, she was transferred to federal custody and charged with damaging or attempting to damage by means of fire a building engaged in activity affecting interstate commerce. Specifically, she was accused of trying to set fire to the Banco Popular building, which was the target of rage for hundreds of protesters who smashed its glass windows and wrote on its walls. Droz Franco initially pled not guilty, but on July 12 changed her plea after reaching a non-cooperating agreement with the prosecution that recommended a sentence of three years and one month in prison, while her attorney argued for two years. On June 12th, 2018, she was sentenced to 37 months in prison and three years of probation.

If for whatever reason you are not able to join us, please write to Nina:
Nina Droz Franco #50427-069
FCI Tallahassee
501 Capital Circle, NE
Tallahassee, Florida 32301

Trouble #20

Friday, March 1st + Sunday, March 3rd: Trouble #18 (ACAB) + Letter Writing

Friday, March 1st is the first Friday of the month and therefore the Trouble Showing at Firestorm Books and Coffee in Asheville, NC. Episode 18, entitled ACAB (for All Cops Are Bastards) airs at 6:30pm and will be followed by a little over an hour of discussion. Preview the episode here.

Then, on Sunday March 3rd, as the 1st Sunday of the month, BRABC will hold it’s Political Prisoner letter writing event, again at Firestorm. The event begins at 5pm, letter writing materials including stamps, prisoners names and stories, addresses and help in writing. If you’ve never written someone a letter or someone in prison in particular, no worries. It’s a nice social time. The event runs from 5pm to 7:30pm.

Trouble #17: Mad Worlds

This coming Friday (Dec 7) at Firestorm, join BRABC at Firestorm Books & Coffee​ from 6:30 til 8pm for a screening of the final Trouble (by Sub.Media​) of the year! We’ll watch the mini-documentary and chat about radical approaches to mental health under capitalism. A good way to start your Friday night. Mental Health in…

December Prisoner Letter Writing Night

Sunday, December 2nd, as in the first Sunday of every month, we meet at Firestorm to write letters to prisoners facing repression or whose birthdays are coming up soon. Join us, no experience necessary, we provide addresses and stationary and can talk about the cases of folks we’re writing to. Come and write letters to…

Workshop on tech security and preventing doxxing

Saturday, Nov 17th @ 4:00pm Abolishing Your Selfie: Managing One’s Online Presence Blue Ridge Anachist Black Cross continues its ongoing series of tech security workshops, this time with a focus on “doxxing.” Come learn what doxxing is and what you can do to keep it from happening from you. Participants will weigh the pros and…

Trouble #16: The J20 Conspiracy Case

Join BRABC for our monthly showing of TROUBLE by sub.Media, a serialized short-documentary series of interest to anarchists and the liberation minded.  This month we’ll feature the latest episode on the J20 case, over 200 people arrested and facing up to 80 years in prison for protests during the inauguration of Donald J. Trump on…

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 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*