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SOLIDARITY WITH PRISONERS
OCCUPY SAN QUENTIN
Jack Bryson of Occupy Oakland (left) with Kevin Cooper of San Quentin (right).
by Kevin Cooper It seems that many people are glad, and in some cases downright happy, that the Occupy movements have taken place across this country. Many people around the world are asking, “What took so long?” All of them want it to grow and to include all of the people who are being affected by the 1% and their policies.
One cannot live on this planet and not know the bed capitalism lays here within this country. The roots from the tree of greed have spread to damn near every part of this world. They have had an impact, directly or indirectly, on every person in this world, to one degree or another. Capitalism, and the capitalists who run and control it, need very important ingredients to
make it work. They need “The Haves” and “The Have-Nots.” These days, as it once was when this country was first formed, it is very easy to tell the difference between the two. Some of the people, who for most of their lives considered themselves the “Haves,” are finding out that they were living a lie. That now, they are part of the “Have-Nots.” This reality is (continued on page 7)
Monday | February 20, 2012
Souls on Ice
by Mumia Abu-Jamal
When I heard of the call, just raised in Oakland, California, to “Occupy the Prisons”, I gasped. It was not an especially radical call, but it was right on time. For prisons have become a metaphor; the shadow-side, if you will, of America, With oceans of words about freedom, and the reality that the U.S. is the world’s leader of the incarceration industry, its more than time for the focused attention of the Occupy Movement. It’s past time. For the U.S. is the world’s largest imprisoner for decades, much wrought by the insidious effects of the so-called ‘drug war’—what I call, “the War on the Poor.” And, Occupy, now an international movement, certainly has no shortage of prisons to choose from. Every state, every rural district, every hamlet in America has a prison; a place where the Constitution doesn’t exist, and where slavery is all but legalized.
When law professor, Michelle Alexander, took on the topic, her book, the New Jim Crow, took off like hotcakes – selling over 100,000 in just a few months. And where there are prisons, there is torture; brutal beatings, grave humiliations, perverse censorship – and even murders – all under a legal system that is as blind as that statue which holds aloft a scale, her eyes covered by a frigid fold of cloth. So, what is Occupy to do? Initially, it must support movements such as those calling for the freedom of Lakota brother Leonard Peltier, the MOVE veterans of August 8th, 1978, the remaining two members of the Angola 3: Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, Sundiata Acoli, Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, and many other brothers and sisters who’ve spent lifetimes in steel and brick hellholes. But, the Occupy Movement must do more. As it shifted the discussion and paradigm on economic issues, it must turn the wheel of the socalled ‘Criminal Justice System’ in America, that is in fact, a destructive, counter-productive, annual $69 billion boondoogle of repression, better-known by activists as the Prison-Industrial-Complex. That means more than a one-day event, no matter how massive or impressive. It means building a mass movement that demands and fights for real change, and eventually abolition of structures that do far more social damage than good. It means the abolition of solitary confinement, for it is no more than modern-day torture chambers for the poor.
It means the repeal of repressive laws that support such structures. It means social change – or it means nothing. So let us begin – down with FREE the Prison Industrial Complex! Mumia Abu-Jamal is a renowned journalist, author, and activist who has been in prison since 1981 for allegedly shooting Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence, prosecutorial misconduct, constitutional violations in his trial, police coercion of witnesses and documented racism, he remains on death row.
Occupied Oakland Tribune Editorial and Design Sarah Morgan Scott Johnson Celeste Christie Legal Counsel Michael Siegel, Siegel & Yee In Support Of Occupy Oakland Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org http://occupiedoaktrib.org Special Thanks To: all supporters of Occupy Oakland, 1984 Printing, Art for a Democratic Society The Occupied Oakland Tribune is not in any way affiliated with the Oakland Tribune or Bay Area News Group, its parent company.
Monday | February 20, 2012
Free Bradley Manning!
“If you had free reign over classified networks… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC… what would you do?” -Quotes from an online chat attributed to Bradley Manning Bradley Manning, a 24year-old Army intelligence analyst, is accused of leaking a video showing the killing of civilians, including two Reuters journalists, by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. He is also charged with sharing the documents known as the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and embarrassing US diplomatic cables, with the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. The video and documents have illuminated such issues as the true number and cause of civilian casualties in Iraq, human rights abuses by U.S.-funded contractors and foreign militaries,
and the role that spying and bribes play in international diplomacy. Not a single person has been harmed by the release of this information. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has called their affect on U.S. foreign relations “fairly modest.” Yet, Bradley faces 22 charges, including “Aiding the enemy by indirect means,” for which a conviction could result in the death penalty or life in prison. Although Bradley has not yet been tried, he was held in solitary confinement for the first 10 months of his incarceration. During this time he was denied meaningful exercise, social interaction, sunlight, and has occasionally been kept completely naked. These conditions were unique to Bradley and are illegal even under US military law as they amount to extreme pretrial punishment. In March 2011, chief US State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley called Bradley’s treatment at the Quantico, Virginia Marine Corps brig “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” He was forced to resign within hours. Bradley’s treatment has sparked a probe by the United Nations chief torture investigator Juan Mendez. According to Mr. Mendez, he has been, “frustrated by the prevarication of the US government with regard to my attempts to visit Mr. Manning.” After also being rejected an official visit, Congressman Dennis Kucinich noted, “What is going on…with respect to Pfc. Manning’s treatment is more consistent with Kafka then the US Constitution.” In one week in April 2011, over a half million people signed a petition calling on President Obama to end the isolation and
torture of Bradley Manning, as those conditions serve as “a chilling deterrent to other potential whistleblowers committed to public integrity.” Over 300 top legal scholars declared Bradley’s conditions of detention a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee against punishment without trial. Among the signatories is Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who taught Barack Obama. Prof. Tribe was until recently a senior advisor to the US Justice Department. Partially in response to public outcry, on April 21, 2011, Bradley was moved from Quantico to Fort Leavenworth, KS, where his conditions greatly improved. The very day he was moved, President Obama was surprised at a breakfast fundraiser by a group of protesters. At the end of the fundraiser, a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network, Logan Price, began questioning him about Bradley’s situation. The President stated that “He [Bradley Manning] broke the law,” a pretrial declaration of guilt that has caused concern among many legal experts. Now, at the start of the second decade in the second millennium, Bradley Manning has a growing list of supporters. Included among them is another famous whistle blower, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. We hope that you will join us as well. See what you can do to support justice in this historic time. The above statement is from the Bradley Manning Support Network. Go to www.bradleymanning.org for more info.
Monday | February 20, 2012
Monday | February 20, 2012
Inhumane Conditions for Jailed Occupiers
by Jason Cherkis Alyssa Eisenberg just wanted her multiple sclerosis medication that she uses to allay fatigue and help her concentrate. A member of Occupy Oakland, she had been caught up in last Saturday's police kettling and transferred to the Santa Rita jail. Police refused to let her keep her meds, which she takes a few times a day, she said. Once inside, a guard dismissed her distress, she said, telling her, "It doesn't look like you're having a medical emergency." Eisenberg, 44, who claims she was arrested without warning, spent 18 hours in the Santa Rita jail. Before her release, the guards told her she could get access to her medication only if a nurse observed her for a few hours, she said, adding that they implied that if she took them up on the offer, her release would be delayed a day. "It was so frustrating trying to understand what was going on," said Eisenberg, who became disoriented during what had already been a cramped, chaotic ordeal. "That's the part that stuck with me," she told The Huffington Post. "That's because they didn't give me my medicine." In the wake of last Saturday's police actions, Occupy Oakland and city officials are going through the now familiar routine of all sides expressing outrage. But this time, the investigations won't end with tracing the last tear gas canister fired and last activist led away in
plastic cuffs. The controversy extends to what occurred inside both the Santa Rita jail and the Glenn E. Dyer Detention Facility after Saturday's arrests. Activists like Eisenberg allege a range of misconduct on the part of jail personnel, from denial of critical treatment to inhumane conditions. None of the protesters interviewed by The Huffington Post were part of the unruly events that took place in Oakland that night, including a flag-burning and vandalism to city hall, they said. Incarceration violated law Dan Siegel, Mayor Jean Quan's former adviser who quit her administration over her handling of Occupy Oakland's eviction in October, said incarcerating the activists violated state law. "What is outrageous is that ... people were jailed all weekend instead of cited and released as required by California law," he wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. Some activists were charged with burglary for trying to escape the mass arrest by running inside the nearby YMCA building, Siegel said. "Burglars generally enter to commit theft," he wrote. "At most, they trespassed. People say they were invited in, so there was no offense at all." Rachel Lederman, an Oakland civil rights attorney with the National Lawyers Guild, told The Huffington Post she's received reports that some of the activists had been cuffed and left on the police buses for as long as six hours without access to a bathroom. One woman, she said, reported nerve damage in her hand. Once inside, the activists claimed to have been crammed into
shower rooms with no beds, no blankets, no heat and not a single chair, Lederman said. Quan's office deferred a request for comment to the Oakland Police Department. The department did not answer the request. Sgt. J.D. Nelson, the spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, which oversees the Santa Rita and Dyer facilities, did admit to The Huffington Post that the jail cells were crowded and some services might have been slowed. Santa Rita took in more than 250 protesters, while Dyer received 110.
The arrestees were not denied care, Nelson said. "Everybody that comes in sees a medical staff," he explained. "Our job and our issue is that people come in and make all kinds of claims. We have to verify those claims before handing out medication. You can't just take everything at face value." If conditions were tough at Santa Rita, Nelson said, it was because police decided to divert more arrestees to that facility after Occupy activists attempted to block the entrance to Dyer. Sean Keaveny, 32, told The Huffington Post the sign in his cell listed capacity at seven inmates. As many as 20 were crammed inside,
the water fountain did not work and the cell went without toilet paper for as long as 12 hours, he said. The guards were constantly moving people in and out of cells, one of which contained at least 50 activists, Keaveny said. There was no toilet paper and the only water they had access to was scalding, he said. "We requested water for hours and hours before we gave up." Denied HIV medication "I saw a gentleman with HIV who was asking again and again for his HIV medications," Keaveny said. Every time a guard would walk by, the man would ask for his meds; eventually, Keaveny and others joined in, he said. At one point, they began kicking against a door to get the guards' attention, Keaveny said, adding that the man never got his HIV meds. Noah Zimmerman, 31, remembered hearing activists chanting for some assistance for the activist with HIV. Michael, 21, who did not want his full name used, remembers the HIV-positive man asking for his meds as well. Sgt. Nelson did not recall a specific issue with an activist who has HIV. "Just because somebody comes in and says they need HIV meds, we're not just going to start handing out HIV meds," he said. Salon reported that there may have been one other HIVpositive activist who was denied medication. Michael told The Huffington Post that at one point, women nearby began chanting for a medic since a protester had gone into a diabetic seizure after not getting enough food. "They were screaming for a medic, going 'medic! medic! medic!' and banging on the door,"
he said. "That happened many times." Activist women demanded sanitary napkins for an inmate who had her period, Keaveny recalled. "They were singing the entire time, FREE chanting, banging," he said. "They slammed and banged and demanded tampons for hours. It took hours for them to get a roll of toilet paper." Keaveny was incarcerated until Wednesday at 5 a.m. He claimed that he never had access to a lawyer, had his Miranda rights read, or was given a prisoner ID. "What we endured in Santa Rita is suffered every day by millions of inmates in the United States prison system." Activists said they endured similar conditions at Dyer. Courtney Wentz, 31, a preschool teacher who served as a medic on the march before being snared in the mass arrest, said she got placed in a 10-foot-by-10-foot holding cell with more than 20 other inmates. During one inmate count, a guard went around and threw out all the food they had just been given, Wentz said. Matt Smaldone, 37, said he was placed in a shower room for seven hours. "One guy had a broken wrist," he said. "He kept asking for assistance. He didn't get looked at until 8 a.m. They gave him like a wrap with an ice pack." Smaldone said others with injuries were placed in isolation. Jason Cherkis is a reporter and researcher for The Huffington Post. He previously worked at the Washington City Paper where he covered social services and law enforcement. This article was originally printed in The Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission.
Police kettle protesters at the Oakland YMCA. Photo from Occupy Oakland Media.
Monday | February 20, 2012
Invisibility of Women Prisoner Resistance
by Victoria Law Between 1990 and 2000, the rate of female incarceration increased 108%. Despite the fact that the number of women incarcerated is increasing more rapidly than that of men, interest in women prisoners’ organizing around their conditions of confinement remains much lower than that of their male counterparts. Why the cloak of invisibility? Like their outside counterparts, women in prison are perceived as passive. Such neglect leads to the definition of prison issues as masculine and male-dominated, dismissing both distinctly female concerns (i.e. the scarcity of sanitary hygiene products, the lack of medical care specifically for women, especially prenatal care, threats of sexual abuse by guards, etc.) and any actions, which women take to address and overcome these concerns. Thus, researchers and scholars do not search out acts of defiance among the growing female prison population. Furthermore, while male prisoners have well known examples of figures like George Jackson, and instances like the Attica uprising among other well-publicized cases of prisoner activism, women have limited resources and well known people or events that are relevant to them. On the 28th of August 1974, inmates at Bedford Hills, an all women’s prison, protested the beating of a fellow inmate by holding seven staff members hostage for two-and-a-half hours. However, the
“August Rebellion” is virtually unknown today. All male state troopers and (male) guards from men’s prisons were called to suppress the uprising. Twenty-five women were injured and twentyfour others were transferred to Matteawan Complex for the Criminally Insane without the required commitment hearings. This event was virtually ignored because it lasted only two-and-a-half hours, and no one was killed. The story was relegated to a paragraph buried in the back pages of The New York Times. The “August Rebellion” is seen as less significant than the Attica Rebellion. The women at Bedford Hills also did not have any opportunity to contact media, bigname supporters and politicians, whereas the men incarcerated at Attica were able to gain public attention. The “August Rebellion” is easily overlooked by those seeking information on prisoner protests and disruptions. Similarly, women in a California prison held a “Christmas riot” in 1975 to protest the cancellation of family holiday visits and holiday packages, inmates gathered in the yard, broke windows, made noise and burned Christmas trees in a “solidarity” bonfire. Once
again, because there were no blatant acts of violence, this was not considered a major act of disturbance. This act is overlooked by anyone researching prison disturbances. Mainstream ideas about prisoners are gendered masculine: the term “prisoner” usually calls forth an image of a young, black man convicted of a violent crime such as rape or murder. Politicians seeking votes, as well as media seeking specific audiences play on this representation, whipping the public into hysteria to get tougher on crime and build more prisons. The stereotype of the male felon, makes invisible the growing number of women imprisoned under the various mandatory sentencing laws passed within the past few decades. Because women do not fit the media stereotype, the public does not see them and are not then aware of the disturbing paradoxes of prisoners as mothers, as women with reproductive rights and abilities, and as women in general. A longer version of this article was originally published at Women and Prison: A Site for Resistance womenandprison.org
Monday | February 20, 2012
SAN QUENTIN, continued from page 1 causing them, or at least some of them, to become part of this Occupy movement, and understandably so. I have never considered myself to be a “Have” nor has this country ever treated me as a “Have.” No man or woman on death row in this state, or any other state, is a “Have.” We are the “Have-Nots.” We are the bottom 1%, who damn near everyone shits on. We are scapegoated, ignored, humiliated, disowned, and ritually tortured and murdered by, and at the hands of, the top 1%, and some of the 99% as well! Those people who are truly the “Haves” within this country have not made it to any death row. For the most part, they never have and they never will. America has a deep seeded philosophy in which it only allows for the execution of its poorest people. These seeds have taken root and have grown in such a way that no person who this system sees as a “Have-Not” is safe from its death machine. Whether they are within this building, or on a BART platform. It seems that the 1% are immune from the sentence of death, even when their policies in war, or peace, have killed untold numbers of people around the world. The bottom 1% is not immune, and seems to be used as part of entertainment, from the media to the politicians. While these truths must be known to the 99% who are now saying that they are the “HaveNots,” these truths are not acknowledged by the majority of them. We who are the bottom 1%, the historical “Have-Nots,” the ones who are paraded before the public and
humiliated, strapped to a gurney, tortured and murdered by the powers that be; we ask “Why aren’t we included in this Occupy movement?” While people are, and should be, occupying Wall Street and every other money street in the country, as well as occupying every city that they can, I ain’t hearing no one say, "Occupy death row!" Nonetheless, I have been doing so since 1985. And death row itself has been occupying this country since even before this land became a country. The various ways that poor people have been executed throughout the years prove that executions are part of this country’s DNA. So, I now respectfully ask this to those of you who are part of this occupy movement: Will you please not make the same mistake that was made by previous movements seeking civil, or any other type of rights? That mistake was not to include the ending of capital punishment as part of the demands. Our fight, and our plight from here on death row is just as important to us, as your fight and your plight is to you! We understand this and respect this. All we ask, and all we have the right to ask, is that you not leave us behind, and/or out of the conversation. Any house, even a house full of “HaveNots,” divided upon itself cannot, and will not, stand. We must unite! In Struggle and Solidarity from Death Row at San Quentin Prison. Kevin Cooper is an innocent man on Death Row in San Quentin prison. For more information on his case, or to support his struggle for freedom, go to savekevincooper.org
FREE FREE All of Us or None, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, California Prison Focus, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Committee to Free Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, Critical Resistance, December 9th Georgia and International Prisoners’ Movement, Decarcerate PA, DRIVE Movement, Freed Woman Empowerment Association, International Coalition to Free the Angola 3, International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, International Socialist Organization, Iraq Veterans Against the War, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, Justice for Shifa and Haris Support Committee, Justice Now, Kevin Cooper Defense Committee, Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu Jamal, Labor for Palestine, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Life Support Alliance, Lynne Stewart Defense Committee, Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu Jamal, National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality and State Repression, Prison Radio, Prison Watch Network, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, Prisoners Are People Too, Inc., Project NIA, Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Network
National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners February 20, 2012 Partial list of endorsers: Organizations:
Angela Davis, Anne Weills, National Lawyers Guild (NLG), Barbara Becnel, founder, STW Legacy Network, Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow,” Carole Seligman, Kevin Cooper Defense Committee, Elaine Brown, Diana Block, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Kevin Cooper, Michael Letwin, Former President, Assn. of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325, Noelle Hanrahan, Project Director, Prison Radio, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Sarah Shourd, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, former hostages in Iran and human rights activists, Stanley Tookie Williams IV, Corcoran SHU
Monday | February 20, 2012
Education Not Incarceration!
by Dana Blanchard and Jesse Hagopian One in 31. As a public school teacher, I am quite familiar with this figure – it's a typical teacher-to-student ratio in the classroom in California. In recent years that proportion has taken on new significance: a report released on March 2, 2009 by the Pew Center on the States found that one in every 31 adults reside in the U.S. corrections system – now totaling over 7.3 million people. That means roughly one student per classroom in America will end up in prison, on parole or on probation. In recent decades the U.S. has experienced a surge in its prison population, quadrupling since 1980 while at the same time violent crime and property crime have declined since the early 1990s. In addition to adults, there were 86,927 held in juvenile facilities as of the 2007 Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement (CJRP), conducted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In California the typical cost to keep a juvenile incarcerated for a year is around $90,000. Many of us are also familiar with the idea that California politicians use 3rd grade reading scores across the State to determine how many jail cells to build in the future. The prioritization of funding for prisons, not for schools has meant that since the 1980’s California has invested in a dozen new correctional facilities and no new institutions of higher education. By putting massive amounts of money into prisons for youth and adults and starving our public education system the state of has made its priorities clear. If you like these policies of planning prison construction based on elementary reading levels, of closing schools while opening jails, you might consider a couple of other equally rewarding ventures: smashing holes in your boat and investing in buckets to bail out the water, or, equally clever, slashing holes in the tires of your car and subsequently investing in tire patches. We all know that funding essential services and education are crucial to building the future we all want to see. If we don’t change these priorities
Children have the right idea. Source: Katie Stafford Strom
now we will be dealing with a bleak future for ourselves and our children. What can we do to advocate for schools not jails? A big first step towards this FREE is that teachers, students and parents need to get organized and demand California stop closing schools, start closing prisons, and tax the rich in order to get more money for the things we need, like public education and public services. This is a fight that speaks to the goals of the Occupy movement: we are the 99% and we cannot abide any longer with the priorities of the 1%. The Occupy Education movement in California is calling for two days of action in March to demand that the state fully fund public education and social services and that the rich pay their fair share. March 1 is a national call for action and will consist of local actions across the country. In Oakland, people will be protesting banks to raise awareness of how they got bailed out while local schools got sold out – and closed. On March 5 Occupy Education is organizing a statewide occupation of the Capitol in Sacramento. The protests and occupation in Sacramento will demand that state education policy makers and politicians stop cutting public education and social services and support tax initiatives to make the rich pay their share in our state. This is an important step in changing the narrative in California that jails are a replacement for quality education and services. The authors of this article are public school teachers in Berkeley and Seattle.
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