Steve Martinez, an Indigenous and Chicano activist who participated in the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) on the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota in 2016, is being held on charges of contempt of court for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury.
Steve invoked the Fifth Amendment in an effort to avoid participation in the grand jury. The Fifth Amendment protects individuals from being forced to testify against themselves in court. In a common procedure intended to coerce testimony, the judge in the case granted Steve immunity, meaning that he could no longer be charged with crimes associated with his testimony. In so doing, the judge created the conditions by which Steve could be forced to testify or jailed if he refused to do so. Steve can now be held for as long as the grand jury before which he has been called remains empaneled. For more information and resources on grand jury resistance, visit supportstevemartinez.com
Please take the time to write a letter to Steve (and share a photo of your completed envelopes with us online):
Steve Martinez Burleigh County Detention Center PO Box 2499 Bismarck, ND 58502
Hello friends, comrades & government voyeur (sic) creeps!
Recently the fucking pukes at the bureau decided it’d be best to cut off my mail again…. this along with the telephone ban, essentially strangling my contact with the outside world… all this while pre-trial… ugh. Really its fucking exhausting and it gets really old, This is systematic and intentional and a vindication of both my revolutionary spirit/actions inside, and the AMAZING Support from our community.
It was really amazing throughout December, getting to reconnect with dear friends…. And getting to meet so many great new people. Truly I felt so loved and supported coming off the first mail ban, It blew me away to have so much solidarity and support. Unreal love.
I’m hoping to have the mail shit overturned before six months, in the meantime. We have trial in early October. I’m asking everyone to keep me in mind, to encourage trial attendance, to call out the BOP (at every level), to pls keep in touch with the site-either checking for updates or dropping a line.
To all the folks that have sent magazines and books holy fuck thank you! You’ve spoiled me endlessly. To everyone who came out on New Year’s eve to make some noise. Job well done we have got to be vocal and visible and put a spotlight on the Bureau.
Ok friends, I’ll update again soon. Thank you for everything 🙂
We wanted to let you know that Eric King’s trial has been pushed to October 12th in the U.S District Court of Colorado in Denver. This was granted by the Judge because Eric’s lawyers requested a continuance, in part, based on gaps in the discovery (legal documents shared between both parties) and that FCI Florence is closed to legal visits (the site of the incident in question needs to be inspected).
Eric continues to be held in segregation at FCI Englewood and has been held there a minimum of 23 hours a day for 551 days or over 1 year and 6 months. The United Nations has stated that being held in solitary confinement/segregation over 15 days constitutes ‘torture’ and we fully agree. Eric has not only been held in segregation but has experienced near constant harassment, many incident reports and is now not allowed to receive mail from outside (other than his immediate family) for the second time, for sketchy reasons. Eric wrote a pretty amazing description of life in segregation recently. Read it at https://solitarywatch.org/2020/09/30/voices-from-solitary-flipping-the-script/
While you cannot write Eric directly, you can still send him books and magazines. In fact, when Eric was last allowed to write, he expressed how much he appreciated the deluge of books he received from supporters. Please check out Eric’s list at tiny.cc/EK_Books and order 1-2, or what you can! He is a voracious reader and helps him deal with the situation before him.
Eric’s lawyers continue to plow through discovery and prepare for trial. The Civil Liberties Defense Center, who represents Eric, is a non-profit organization that relies on donations to fund its solid work. You can donate to them at https://cldc.org/donate/ Note “Eric King legal defense” in the memo section.
Eric is facing up to 20 years for an incident in which he was actually assaulted. He needs your support. Please follow us on social media and continue to hold him in your hearts. We will let you know when there are more concrete requests.
Our friends at Burning Books is selling this amazing grab bag of DVDs and CDs for just $20 that will benefit the release funds of long-time political prisoners. Support them if you can!
Are you a Luddite, fearful of the technocratic evils of streaming, desperately clinging to the good ole days of shiny Digital Video Discs and Compact Discs? If so, these limited Obsolete Media Grab Bags are just for you! For $20, you receive at least 2 DVDs and 2 CDs that have been staunchly occupying otherwise useful shelf space here at Burning Books! We’ve got less than 2 dozen, so get them while you can.
100% of sales from these grab bags go towards helping newly released long-term political prisoners. Finally, you can support our allies in the struggle while simultaneously indulging in a mystery package of these surprise relics! You’ve been waiting a long time for this, we know, so order now (and figure out if your player still works later).
MARCH 3RD, 2021 — Water Protector Steve Martinez has been taken back into federal custody in Bismarck, North Dakota today following an appearance before the federal Grand Jury. Martinez is also being fined $50 a day for every day he maintains his refusal to give testimony. He continues to stand in solidarity with his Indigenous relatives and Water Protectors by refusing to testify or cooperate with this secretive and unjust process.
On February 24th, after being jailed for 19 days for refusal to cooperate with the Grand Jury subpoena served to him, Martinez said:
I was served another subpoena before I was released, making it the third one. My lawyers are working hard to keep me from being imprisoned for standing up for my constitutional rights as an American citizen. After having my rights stripped from me, I was imprisoned with no charges for 19 days. Even with the work of our legal team, the chances are high that I will be imprisoned once again for up to 18 months or the duration of the grand jury. I humbly ask for your continued prayers & support as I continue to speak volumes through my silence. Thank you. MNI WICONI, WATER IS LIFE.
Martinez was previously subpoenaed in 2016 to a Grand Jury allegedly seeking information regarding the injuries incurred by Sophia Wilansky in November 2016 at Standing Rock; a now infamous night where law enforcement used fire hoses on Water Protectors in freezing temperatures. Wilansky was gravely injured, nearly losing her arm, and unable to receive emergency medical transport due to the blockades implemented by law enforcement and the State of North Dakota. Martinez acted as a good Samaritan on that night, driving Wilanksy in his vehicle to receive emergency medical care. He was then summoned to appear before a grand jury and refused to cooperate.
Four years later, Martinez is once again being targeted by the government and detained for his principled refusal to participate in a secret process that has historically been highly susceptible to politically motivated abuses. “The secrecy of federal grand jury proceedings and the unfettered power and discretion that federal prosecutors have in the proceedings makes federal grand juries ripe for abuse against dissident political activists and their movements,” said James Clark, a lawyer with the National Lawyers Guild. “Mr. Martinez’s saga with federal grand juries seems to have already been characterized by a number of procedural abuses and irregularities, such as his incarceration last month by a magistrate judge who lacked legal authority to order it,” Clark continued.
Chava Shapiro, a legal worker and supporter of Martinez since 2016 said “We are all standing in solidarity with his choice to invoke his constitutionally protected right to silence to the Grand Jury. Political activists know that Grand Juries have historically been used as a tool of political repression against Indigenous people in their efforts to maintain sovereignty, push the United States government to honor treaties, and achieve self-determination for their relatives and nations. The best and safest choice for Steve and for all those who protect the water is to maintain silence in the face of this Grand Jury.”
MORE INFORMATION ON GRAND JURIES AND RESISTANCE TO THEM
There are 2.3 million people in U.S. prisons and jails, and 67% of those are people of color. Many are there as a result of widespread prosecutorial misconduct. Episode 26 is the first of a two-part webinar examining this issue. Joining us is Curtis Flowers, a Black man from Mississippi who spent 23 years fighting for his freedom because of a racist prosecution. His disturbing story was covered in depth in season 2 of the popular podcast, “In the Dark.”
Joining him will be Alan Bean, Executive Director of Friends of Justice, which advocated to free Flowers for more than 12 years.
Finally, Jeffrey Deskovic, another exoneree, attorney, and founder of the Deskovic Foundation will speak about efforts to end prosecutorial misconduct and how to get involved.
Though a short month, much indeed went down in February. We mourn the passing of activist and musician Anne Feeney as well as former Chicago 7 defendant Rennie Davis, both of whom fought tirelessly to create a better world. In early February, detainees at the St. Louis “Justice Center” took control of the facility for several hours, while reports emerged of officers at a jail in Oregon pepper-spraying prisoners who were being isolated for possible COVID-19 exposure. It was revealed in early February that political prisoner Bill Dunne had contracted COVID-19, and in the last days of February it was publicized that Mumia Abu-Jamal has also contracted the virus. Meanwhile, the crisis in Texas prisons and jails—and in Connecticut—continues to deteriorate, with important and tragic details here and here.
Greetings everyone: Mail going into and out of the prison seems to be subject to long delays. After a month in transit, we received a health and legal update from Dr. Shakur that you can read on his website. As always, he cannot personally respond to every letter, but he is receiving mail. Everyone in his prison was also just given a memo about new mail restrictions, initiated by the Trump administration, that are to go into effect in all federal prisons. The essential difference is that all mail will be sent to an outside ‘Smart Communications’ facility where it is scanned and it will have to read on kiosks in the prison. We hope that this change is reversed by the current administration before it is initiated, but if it is not Dr. Shakur might soon not be able to receive photos and greeting cards.
The legal and health update in sum is that he was notified last month that he was denied parole after the hearing in October. Our legal team immediately appealed the decision on multiple grounds, and is actively exploring other avenues to argue for Dr. Shakur’s release. He seems to have mostly recovered from both the stem cell transplant for the stage 4 bone cancer as well as from COVID that he contracted shortly thereafter. He is a strong man! Unfortunately, we know that this cancer is incurable and COVID can recur, so we are continuing the struggle to free him from prison just as hard if not moreso. We appreciate that people are moved by the film ‘Dope is Death’ and want to know how to lend support! We thank everyone who has been donating online as it helps us make sure that all of Mutulu’s needs, legal and otherwise, are met. Another way to support him right now is to share this graphic on social media with your thoughts on the film, how learning about his case affected you, etc. If you are unable to download the image from this email you can do so on the website:
Lastly, we want to share the news with our extended family that Sid Wilson, close friend of Mutulu and former director of FFMS, has joined the ancestors. He passed in peace in Ghana, as he wanted to transition. Contributions to aid his journey may be sent by PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org or CashApp to $wonderfulbless.
Stay in the struggle, Family & Friends of Mutulu Shakur
URGENT! Please call these 4 phone numbers now, and tell them: The prison must immediately test Mumia Abu-Jamal, and provide him with treatment, monitoring of his oxygen levels, and hospitalization if his oxygen falls below safe levels.
Yesterday Mumia Abu-Jamal called from his cell block at SCI Mahanoy, reaching Pam Africa , and letting all of us know that he is seriously ill. He has had difficulty breathing and chest pain, symptoms of COVID. We will continue to closely monitor his health, and provide updates.
At a demonstration this afternoon, his grandson spoke: “We have to each one teach one, and we when we teach one we teach more. They are trying to bury my grandfather… freedom is the only solution in Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case’. They have have built careers off of trying to convict and kill Mumia Abu-Jamal. I need Larry Krasner to do what he was elected to do, give Mumia a fair trial, and let the evidence be heard in court. We have to shout from the roof tops.”
As a survivor of chronic hepatitis C, and medical neglect, Mumia Abu-Jamal is an elder and at a heightened risk for serious complications.
The prison must immediately test Mumia Abu-Jamal, and it must provide him with treatment, monitoring of his oxygen levels, and hospitalization if his oxygen falls below safe levels.
Every action matters. It is time for our political prisoners and elders to return home to their families.