A judge told Mutulu Shakur two years ago that his cancer wasn’t bad enough yet and to come back when he was on his deathbed. Now he is.Natasha Lennard June 22 2022
Mutulu Shakur in 2012.
Photo: Courtesy of Friends and Family of Dr. Shakur
WHEN MUTULU SHAKUR applied for compassionate release in 2020, the presiding judge told the Black liberation elder that he was not close enough to death. At the time, Shakur was 70 and had spent nearly half his life in federal prison, where a moribund parole system created interminable barriers for his release.
In 2020, he was sick with hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, glaucoma, and the aftereffects of a 2013 stroke while in solitary confinement. He also faced high risks of severe Covid-19 complications. The cancer in his bone marrow, though, was not yet killing him fast enough. It was understood to be terminal, but chemotherapy treatment had been successful in keeping it at bay.
As such, according to then-90-year-old Judge Charles Haight Jr. — the very same judge who had sentenced Shakur to prison over three decades before — the respected and beloved elder, who posed zero risk to society and held an impeccable institutional record, was not eligible for compassion.
“Should it develop that Shakur’s condition deteriorates further, to the point of approaching death, he may apply again to the Court, for a release that in those circumstances could be justified as ‘compassionate,’” the judge wrote in his decision.The judge is still alive and, astoundingly, on the bench. Shakur, meanwhile, is on the very edge of death.
Two years later, Haight is still alive and, astoundingly, on the bench. Shakur, meanwhile, is on the very edge of death, cancer disabling his every bodily capacity.
Bureau of Prisons-contracted doctors have given him less than six months. The prison chaplain has advised his family members to come “very soon” to say their final goodbyes. Shakur may not even be able to recognize them.
According to reports from prison staff, he is “hallucinating,” “confused,” at times “unintelligible,” needs assistance with all so-called “Activities of Daily Living,” and is “frequently incontinent.” The details of his condition were revealed by medical professionals and Shakur’s family members in an emergency motion for compassionate release, which was filed by his lawyers on Sunday,
Shakur weighs 125 pounds and is unable to get out of bed. His support team told me that he currently resides in the federal prison hospital at FMC Lexington, where “he is too ill to have visitors as his white blood count is too low and he is completely immune-compromised.” (In response to my request for comment on Shakur’s condition, a Bureau of Prisons spokesperson wrote, “For privacy, safety, and security reasons, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) does not discuss information on any individual inmate’s conditions of confinement including medical care.”)
The time for true compassion — or anything close to justice — has long passed for Shakur, well-known as rapper Tupac’s stepfather and celebrated for bringing holistic health care and self-determination to the Bronx’s Black community in the 1970s. Like most Black liberation elders, the circumstances of Shakur’s conviction were colored by the government’s decadeslong, all-out war on the movement. This should not be forgotten, but it is also not relevant to the current grounds for Shakur’s long overdue release.
The question now is simply whether the federal punishment system will, against its own purported standards, force a dying man to expire behind bars out of ideological intransigence.
Shakur was a member of the Black nationalist organization Republic of New Afrika, which worked closely with Black Panther Party members and New Left activists. He was convicted of racketeering conspiracy charges alongside several Black liberationists and leftist allies for his involvement in the 1981 robbery of an armored truck during which a guard and two police officers were killed. He was also convicted for aiding in the prison escape of Assata Shakur. He has taken responsibility for his crimes and repeatedly expressed remorse for the lives lost and pain caused. All of his co-defendants have been released or have died.
Co-defendant Marilyn Buck, who was convicted on the same charges as Shakur, was granted compassionate release by the Bureau of Prisons on July 15, 2010. She died of uterine cancer on August 3 that year.
The harsh standard applied in Buck’s case was the same one that the judge used in denying Shakur’s release two years ago: Come back only when, like Buck, your only activity outside of prison walls will be dying. Shakur has now arrived at this tragic place. Anything but immediate release constitutes an abundance of cruelty.
SHAKUR’S RELEASE HAS been blocked by layer upon layer of institutional intransigence and procedural arcana. Even while a number former Black Panthers and other liberation elders — all incarcerated for all too many decades in state prison systems — have finally been released on parole in recent years, the strange vagaries of outdated federal rules, abuses of discretion, and administrative failures have foreclosed such relief for Shakur.
Shakur’s legal team has sought every avenue for his release, including the superannuated federal parole system, the Bureau of Prisons’ compassionate release process, the calculation of Shakur’s earned “good time” in prison, and even the unlikely route of presidential clemency — all to no avail.
In the federal system, compassionate release rulings are determined by the very court —the very judge — that sentenced a defendant in the first place. Shakur’s fate is once again in his sentencing judge’s hands. Yet there is hope in the fact that Haight himself previously wrote that in circumstances of “imminent” death, compassionate release “could be justified.” As Shakur’s lawyers note in their motion, “It is now imminent.”
Both prior to and during his incarceration, Shakur has been respected as a mentor and a healer. In the emergency motion for his release, numerous men incarcerated alongside Shakur are cited, attesting to his profound positive influence on their lives.
“I recognize Dr. Mutulu Shakur not only as my father, but as the man who changed my way of thinking and saved my life,” wrote Ra’ Sekou P’tah, who was serving a double-life sentence plus 30 years for a nonviolent drug offense when he met Shakur. President Barack Obama commuted P’tah’s sentence after he had served 20 years. When reporting on Shakur’s case last year, I heard several similar stories of mentorship and care from men formerly incarcerated with the Black liberation elder.
The time has passed for Shakur to continue his healing community work as a free man. He will not live to see his mandatory release date in 2024. He is, as his lawyers note in their motion, “on the downward side of an end-of life trajectory.”
The least — and it is the very least — Haight, the judge, can do now in the name of decency would be to allow Shakur to die in the California home of his son and daughter-in-law, in the presence of loved ones, uncaged.
Two years after the 2020 Black Lives Matter uprisings began, mainstream politicians are pushing a reactive, fear-based law-and-order politics. In this precarious moment, Jarrod Shanahan’s new book Captives is more necessary than ever. The book traces the history of post-war New York City through the lens of the city’s jails, focusing largely on the notorious Rikers Island jail. Shanahan shows, in vivid detail drawn from extensive research, how the facility became the squalid penal colony it is today. In 448 pages, Shanahan covers city politicking, jail rebellions, the dismantling of the welfare state, and finally, the rise of police and guard unions as reactionary political entities in their own right.
Shanahan knows Rikers well; he served 30 days there in 2016. I met him while preparing to begin my own one-year jail sentence there in 2019. We stayed in close contact throughout my sentence, and have remained close since. Here, I interview him about Captives, and what this history means in light of the city’s plan to replace Rikers with new jails designed under “progressive” ideals, the looming threat of a federal takeover, and our personal experiences as captives there.
David Campbell: Tell me about your writing and research process for this book.
Jarrod Shanahan: This project began when I went on Amazon and typed in “Rikers Island history book” and nothing came up. I just wanted to know the history and understand the social context of this awful place that I got sent to, because you try to process it when you leave.
I also really want to emphasize that archival research is essential, even though it was a fraught undertaking in this case. Documentation was often from the perspective of the jail administrators or their allies in city government. It’s also easy to mistake the information that you have with all of the information [that exists]. But archival work is essential for putting together the basic skeleton of how an institution came to be and how it’s changed over time, and it’s getting easier and easier as a lot of this material gets digitized.
Another important component is speaking with people who were there, whenever possible. I understand there’s an oral history of Rikers coming out. I can’t wait to read it!
The more I learn about Rikers, the more I realize I know so little. Do you ever have that feeling, as a scholar?
Oh, definitely. I actually had that feeling while finishing this book, specifically talking to you about it. When you were locked up there.
Right. You were working on Captives while I was serving my sentence, and we communicated about all kinds of things regarding Rikers.
Yeah. One discussion we had was very humbling for me because I had collected documentation of a number of prisoner disturbances and I thought I had a fairly coherent thesis for how they were connected. And then when we published your article in Hard Crackers about the strike that you helped organize around COVID conditions in Rikers, I told you, “Man, this is so amazing, what you did.” And right away you said, “This stuff happens all the time at Rikers.” So that was a reminder to me that the vast majority of the history that I was writing about, I don’t actually know. So much of it is never documented at all.
One of the most fascinating things in Captives for me was the history of the jail rebellions you were able to uncover, and how they often actually succeeded, even receiving total amnesty. Less surprisingly, the same is true for the guards, who have gotten away with some horrifying things, and rarely is anyone punished. Every once in a while, someone gets some sort of administrative slap on the wrist.
Every once in a while, yeah.
But by and large, for both guards and prisoners, refusing to play by the rules — and often sheer insurrection — has tended to work.
There’s an old saying: “direct action gets the goods.”
Another thing I found really striking was just how petty, nefarious, and reactionary a force COBA [the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, the main DOC guards’ union] had been.
No less a prison scholar than Heather Ann Thompson has written that guard unions are actually potential allies in the struggle against mass incarceration. By contrast, I tried to carve out a very clear picture of the reactionary political role of guards and cops in our society, in particular how they have been instrumental in pushing for and reinforcing the entire social order in which mass incarceration forms such an important part. There’s an even more pernicious tendency to view guards and cops in their workforces as simply an amalgamation of individual people. And it’s very much true that these institutions are comprised of individuals who might, in their interpersonal behavior and sometimes even at work, diverge from the overall political function of the organization. But these are very much coherent political power blocks. They serve very clear social functions, and pursue clearly defined interests that are opposed to the dignity and safety of most of the people they police and guard.
Most Rikers staff, like most prisoners, are working-class people of color. They often come from the same communities. Do you think that telling themselves they’re serving some higher social good functions as a kind of coping mechanism for some guards?
I think the best way to view workforces of cops and guards is as remarkably ordinary people who are doing jobs that should not exist, and which transform them over time. It’s an interesting case study in how social being determines consciousness. The vast majority of young people who become jail and prison guards do so because it is the most palatable option among a relatively narrow set of choices. And guards at Rikers, for instance, refer to the 20 years that they must serve before collecting a partial pension as their “20-year sentence.”
You often hear them chatting to each other about how much time they have left…
Yeah. There’s even a popular saying, “Hired in my 20s, retire in my 40s — can’t touch that.” This is the pervasive ideology around the job among rookies: I’ve gotten this lucrative job that’s going to build a secure future, and all I need to do is suffer through it. Law-and-order ideology tends to come later.
So, when they say they’re just doing their jobs, that’s not wrong, just irrelevant. Some of them end up really believing that they’re taking care of prisoners, who would be in Rikers anyway, or that they’re dangerous and need to be separated from society. And none of that’s true.
When you went on strike at Rikers, which directly contributed to the mass release of almost 1,500 people, you were part of a social experiment that demonstrated concretely that at least 1,500 people did not belong there. As we saw in a similar 1983 mass release, which I write about at length in Captives, the local right-wing newspapers were obsessed with finding the wrongdoings committed by the released prisoners to prove that they should not have been let out in the first place. And to my knowledge, there isn’t very much to that effect at all.
Statistically, 13 percent were rearrested in the following months, and very few for serious crimes. But we’re still locking people up.
I took great heart from the No New Jails campaign in New York City a few years back [which sought not only to close Rikers, but also to stop the construction of the new borough-based jails and redirect that funding to investing in communities in order to promote permanent decarceration]. The campaign didn’t succeed in stopping the jails, but it was a small activist campaign, composed of people working in their spare time, lacking the mountains of foundation money that propped up the pro-new-jail side, and it was taken seriously by many New Yorkers as an alternative. It’s easy to get demoralized when you lose, but my primary takeaway from this campaign was that there’s a potentially large audience for abolitionist ideas.
When you were at Rikers in 2016, the Nunez monitor (a court-appointed federal oversight body arising from a 2011 lawsuit regarding the use of force by Rikers guards against prisoners) was fairly new, and security cameras were just beginning to appear. When I was there in 2019-2020, cameras were ubiquitous, and toward the end of my sentence they even started to roll out bodycams.
Cameras were not new under Nunez. Previously, they were required for certain high-risk actions. But as the Department of Justice has shown, guards were adept at strategically concealing violence from view, or failing that, making the footage disappear altogether. So actually, the guards have had a long time to prepare for the prevalence of cameras, which are really only the latest iteration of a long history of reformers documenting abuses in the city jails. Before that, you had plentiful written reports from monitors, city officials, civilian workers and sometimes even guards. And what did they amount to? For instance, I was able to reconstruct two incredibly violent staff riots, one in 1986 and one in 1990, in startling detail. The prison scholar Abby Cunniff hit me up and said, “Come on, Jarrod. How did you know that it was drizzling outside?” It was because these events generated mountains of detailed paperwork, investigations, internal reports, responses to the reports, in which all kinds of ranking members of the department and respected civilian overseers, in addition to the prisoners themselves, presented a similar picture of widespread brutality, the kind of violence that if a normal person meted that out in their day-to-day life, they would be going to prison for a long time. And virtually nothing happened.
Yeah, a lot of guards would say “We’re making a movie,” in regards to the cameras, when they performed a perfunctory pat frisk or something.
One guard told me in 2016, “I have two Academy Awards at home.” Meaning he could act compellingly for the cameras and justify his actions later. I think that the guards like this, who told us that they weren’t worried about the cameras, should be taken at their word.
We both spent time at the Eric M. Taylor Center, or EMTC, which was designed as the flagship facility of penal welfarism at the height of a progressive golden age in New York, and under the stewardship of Commissioner Anna Kross, a devoted local champion of “humanitarian incarceration” and prison reform. We both know firsthand that EMTC is, in layperson’s terms, a shithole.
That’s an academic term, actually [laughs].
Well, one thing that surprised me in Captives was how little time it took to get that way. Within three years, none of the progressive policies envisioned by Commissioner Kross were being implemented, and the place was already abysmal.
You see a lot of the same arguments being made today in New York, about repurposing jails as “sites of civic unity,” as [Judge Jonathan] Lippman calls them, and all the rest of it. If this was ever going to happen, it would’ve happened in the 1950s and ’60s under Kross, for a number of reasons. There was a remarkable bipartisan consensus on crime and punishment, the city had a lot more money for investment in public welfare expenditures, and there was a much more progressive political climate not just in the city but in the nation.
What about the possibility of a federal takeover of Rikers in the form of a receivership? There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the possibility of this last-resort legal tactic, in which a court-appointed authority assumes control of an institution unable to manage its own affairs, to effect positive change at Rikers.
The city has been given a firm timeline, through a series of federal lawsuits, to provide the bare constitutional minimum standards for care at its jails almost continuously since the early 1970s. There’s no reason to expect that the local monitors or the federal government will have any more luck enforcing their will than their predecessors. The guards have too much power and there’s no counterpower willing to oppose them, including the federal judiciary. The bureaucrats and technocrats will not save us. And what that calls to mind, for me, is the necessity to build collective power capable of pushing back.
The subtitle of your book is “How Rikers Island took New York City hostage.” On the one hand, it means very literally holding large numbers of New Yorkers captive. It also means that the present arrangement, by being held up as untouchable, prevents us from finding any meaningful way of moving toward decarceration.
Yeah, it should be clear after at least 50 years of law-and-order politics that it’s actually not making things any better. But simultaneously, this social order has done a very good job of presenting itself as the only possibility. So, the solution to violence is more of the same social constellation that creates violence in the first place. And so, we are very much held captive.
A court upheld Jessica Reznicek’s excessive sentence for vandalism aimed at stopping the Dakota Access pipeline. Natasha Lennard June 8 2022,
Jessica Reznicek sits at the entrance to the drilling site in Sandusky, Iowa, where the Dakota Access pipeline goes under the Mississippi River on Aug. 10, 2016.
Photo: Courtesy of Joshua Smith
A PANEL OF three Trump-appointed judges this week upheld an excessive eight-year prison sentence handed down to climate activist Jessica Reznicek, ruling that a terrorism enhancement attached to her sentence was “harmless.”
The terror enhancement, which dramatically increased Reznicek’s sentence from its original recommended range, set a troubling precedent. Decided by a lower court in 2021, it contends that Reznicek’s acts against private property were “calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government.” The appellate justices’ decision to uphold her sentence, callously dismissing the challenge to her terrorism enhancement, doubles down on a chilling message: Those who take direct action against rapacious energy corporations can be treated as enemies of the state.RelatedDakota Access Pipeline Activists Face 110 Years in Prison, Two Years After Confessing Sabotage
Reznicek, an Iowa-based member of the Catholic Worker Movement and a participant in the Indigenous-led climate struggle, engaged in acts of property damage in an attempt to stop the completion of the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016 and 2017. Along with fellow activist Ruby Montoya, Reznicek took credit for various acts of sabotage, which harmed no humans or animals but burnt a bulldozer and damaged valves of the pipeline. The damaged equipment was property not of the U.S. government, but of private pipeline and energy companies.
Following Reznicek’s guilty plea to a single charge of conspiracy to damage an energy facility — which brought a recommended sentencing range of 37 to 46 months — Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger, in allegiance with prosecutors, added the terrorism enhancement. This increased her sentencing range to 210 to 240 months, making the eight-year sentence Reznicek ultimately received fit comfortably below the accepted range, though it’s more than double the previous recommendation. (Montoya, who also pleaded guilty, has filed a motion to withdraw her plea, claiming that it was coerced.)
Both courts’ decisions on Reznicek’s sentence reflect unsurprising but deeply troubling priorities in our criminal legal system. It would be unempirical to the point of foolishness to expect the courts, stacked as they are with right-wing justices, to side with individuals taking risks to stop environmental devastation rather than those corporations making millions on the back of it. Yet Reznicek’s appeal was on a point of law: Terrorism enhancements are only supposed to be applicable to crimes that target governmental conduct; Reznicek’s targets were private corporations.
The collapsing of government and corporate interests signified by Reznicek’s terrorism enhancement is worthy of profound challenge, but the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges did not even address the substance of the activist’s appeal. In a short, unsigned opinion, the court wrote that even if there had been an “error” in applying a terrorism enhancement, it was “harmless,” because Ebinger had stated on the record that she would have imposed an eight-year sentence with or without the terrorism enhancement.
It is a cynical move indeed to sidestep the chilling effect of labeling such acts as “terrorism,” as if it carries no material consequences for the future of water and Indigenous land protection and other social movements. As Reznicek’s support team wrote in a statement Monday, “Federal prosecutors only pursued terrorism enhancements against Reznicek after 84 Congressional representatives wrote a letter in 2017 to Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting that Reznicek and other protesters who tamper with pipelines be prosecuted as domestic terrorists.” These members of Congress, note Reznicek’s supporters, have together received a combined $36 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry.Determinations over which actions are labeled “terrorism” are always political.
Determinations over which actions are labeled “terrorism” are always political, and in this case nakedly so given the clear pressure applied on prosecutors by politicians and their industry backers. Ebinger’s claim — that she would have imposed the excessive eight-year sentence with or without the terror enhancement triggered — cannot be considered the final word here. Reporting on Reznicek’s case, ABC News — an outlet hardly aligned with the environmental left — noted that neither white supremacist murderer Dylann Roof nor avowed neo-Nazi James Fields, who plowed his car into anti-fascist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, received a terrorism enhancement when sentenced.
Reznicek’s legal team will continue to challenge her sentence in court, especially since the question of the misapplication of a terrorism enhancement remains open, despite the judges’ decision this week. A full court hearing by the 8th Circuit, an appeal to the far-right Supreme Court, or a request for clemency from President Joe Biden are all technical options, but hardly are any of these sites of optimism.
As her legal battles continue, Reznicek, whose acts of sabotage place her firmly on the right side of history, if not the law, deserves full-throated public support. As she noted in her 2017 statement claiming responsibility for the actions against the Dakota Access pipeline: “We acted from our hearts and never threatened human life nor personal property. What we did do was fight a private corporation that has run rampant across our country seizing land and polluting our nation’s water supply.”
Join us as we unite the freedom campaigns, love, and culture for three of our elders and Political Prisoners: Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Imam Jamil Al-Amin, and Kamau Sadiki
On Saturday, June 11, at 6pm campaigns to free our elder Political Prisoners will come together in a unified Rally. Public support is needed to win the immediate release of our freedom fighters Dr. Mutulu Shakur age 71, Imam Jamil Al-Amin age 78, and Kamau Sadiki age 69 all of whom have life threatening illnesses due to medical neglect. The Freedom Weekend Rally will be held at Malcolm X Park 1111 Oak Street SW Atlanta, GA in front of the murals. Live performances and speakers will address Political Prisoners and prisoners rights issues. For more information freekamau.com
I recently read “Nation on No Map” and recommended this book to everyone I can reach, which is somewhat limited in prison. I am now reading “After the Revolution“, a novel by Robert Evans. “Nation on No Map” is probably the best non-fiction book I’ve read since going to prison, and “After the Revolution” is now the best novel I’ve read. The author has front line experience as a war correspondent and this shows in the skillful storytelling. Being a combat veteran I am deeply moved by this book. More importantly than the realistic descriptions of humanity’s violence is the prophetic prediction of the life cycle of the United States government.
Before white colonists came to North America there were nations of Indigenous people here. Columbus raped them and so did British colonists. After slave owners rebelled against the British colonialists the United Sates government was born on the backs of African and Irish slaves, then immigrants from all over the world. This country has been the battlefield of Revolutionary War, Civil War, a War with Mexico, a war with Spain, and an ongoing war against slave uprisings and the present day war against the working class wage slaves. My point is that America is a battlefield. In reality the entire world is a battlefield. The misconception that North America will not be the scene of modern warfare is a gross illusion based on privilege at the expense of the global victims of American imperialism. Many countries are known for some cultural trait, like tea, or spiritual traditions, technology and so on. America is known for guns. Not only is America going to experience civil war, sooner than later, it is inevitable. All things are temporary, this is a fundamental law of physics. This includes governments and nation states. Every country, empire and government has a life cycle. They are born in coups or revolutions and the rise and fall over time. “After the Revolution”, while indulging in science fiction for the entertainment of the reader, accurately describes the process by which the United States will eventually fracture and divide into states resembling European and Middle Eastern countries, each about the size of a current American state. America is already at war within itself, with the police working for the interests of the wealthy ruling class to criminalize race, poverty and pretty much anyone else they can. Charismatic leaders like Donald Trump want the whole pie for themselves and their wealthy heirs, but they will settle for a seceded white nationalist Christian ethno state. Likely candidates for the first to secede include Florida, Trump’s base of racist operations, Texas, who already consider themselves a republic, and Alaska, a state of fiercely independent survivalists.
I’m not just spewing conspiracy theories. In Florida, where I grew up, a toxic culture of white Christian nationalism exists in coordination with the descendants of the confederacy of the old south. When they say “the south shall rise again”, they mean it, and they are willing to fight and die for that. In Tallahassee, my home for the last decade, I was approached by Jordan Jereb, leader of a neo nazi gang which has wisely rebranded itself as “the Republic of Florida”. They pulled up to the corner where I was begging for my daily bread while homeless and unemployed, at a Wal-Mart on Tennessee Street, holding a “hungry veteran” sign. Their offer was food, housing, weapons and training in exchange for my militant loyalty to their racist organization and ideology in coordination with members who had already infiltrated local and federal police and the military. They said, “You look like a racially aware person, with your shaved head.” I told them to fuck off of course, but that day I began to receive aggressive attention from the FBI, Tallahassee Police and the Leon County Sherriff’s department, specifically a deputy called Larry Folsom, who is widely active in the Jujitsu, MMA and Judo communities in Tallahassee. The end result of their campaign of targeted harassment is that I am now sitting in federal prison. Jordan Jereb bragged about training school shooter Nicholas Cruz by the way. He also recruits kids at high schools and middle schools with flyers in plastic bag with candy. I’ve seen them, they are similar to the flyers he used to distribute at Walmarts around town until my friends and I organized a town council meeting to put a stop to this. The flyers ask kids if they feel threatened by people from other cultures picking on them, and foreigners, and invite them to join RoF for safety and camaraderie. The reason I bring all this up is because there are very real organization who are already deeply supported by so called law enforcement in Florida and Nationwide, who are actively, openly and covertly working to create white ethno states, to return to “the good ol’ days” of plantation slavery. These are not people who will listen to reason. The hippies cannot “hug it out” with these people. They are very real, they are already here, they are armed and they are now globally networking with white supremacists, fascists, racists and far right wing conservatives in Austria, Germany, Italy, the U.K., Turkey and Russia, to name a few. Some of them have infiltrated the YPG international, like Ryan Patrick Kasperik. The danger is real.
We have been warned by authors like Robert Evans. In dystopian, authoritarian police states like the United States it is dangerous to even write truths like this, but a medium that is available for many is fiction, where dangerous truths can be shared with less violent response from the cops. We live in a time when the prophets of the new age include Robert Evans, Margaret Atwood, with her Handmaid’s Tale’s and Abdullah Ocalan.
The words of these great minds serve as parables and clear warnings to present and future generations. We know about the Holocaust, but we are watching another approach us over the top edges of our smart phones, sinking lower into our seats to just keep scrolling and swiping. This is not enough for us to be on the correct side of history, or even to survive long enough to allow truth and freedom to continue to evolve in the face of regressive forces of domination, hierarchy and dogmatic mysticism. Please take the time to read these writers messages to the world.
Just because war seems distant in the Ukraine, Rojava, Syria, Iraq or anywhere besides the U so called United Sates does not mean that it is happening in a different world. If you listen closely you can hear the screams of immigrants dying in America, the sounds of gunfire and artillery in Ukraine, the smell of burning bodies on the wind from the Middle East. It’s a small world and America’s sins are coming home sooner than later. My personal ideal is nonviolence with an emphasis on rescue and healing, but survival may necessitate a variety of tactics. Listen to the well travelled and well read, and then become well traveled and well read and realize the warning signs before it’s too late to fight back. A country built on slavery will always be that, and the wrong life cannot be lived the right way. This is the land of the fee and the home of the slave. It will stay that way until we make something new and better to take its place. We can and we will. We should not cause the needless loss of life or instability but when these things come naturally in the course of nature, beginnings, middles and ends, then we can create something new, continuing to evolve and refine the application of fairness, equality, truth, beauty, love and freedom in human global society.
Thank you all again for all of your support. Please reach out to other political prisoners, like Lore, Jessica Reznicek, Eric King, and the elders, like the Black Panthers and Leonard Peltier. More and more people are being rounded up, but we don’t seem to be making the connection between the American prison industrial plantation and the German death camps, mainly due to the liberalization of prison culture. Please reflect deeply on this, and reach out to activists you admire, and raise awareness in your community. We need your help to get through this.
We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and support for Mutulu – and we want to update his friends and supporters with information from Mutulu himself, and from the medical records. We understand that people want to share information on social media, but we respectfully ask that people share only information that Mutulu and his support team have consented to be shared publicly.
We learned last Friday that Mutulu’s health had taken a turn for the worse. The chemotherapy drugs and other medications that Mutulu is on are very strong and have side effects that can be difficult to manage, particularly within the confines of prison. His legal team is closely monitoring the medical records every week with the help of outside medical practitioners. The hospital where he has been receiving treatment for the last 2 and a half years is already planning on starting a different form of cancer treatment, another kind of chemotherapy. Depending on his test results and whether he is strong enough, he may get a newer form of treatment that has a higher chance of succeeding – but which can also make him feel sicker. We want to get him home to his family – and Mutulu and his team are also still looking for treatments that will give him as much time as possible to be with his family and friends.
The legal team is actively pursuing all avenues for Mutulu’s immediate release, including compassionate release and parole. Please keep Mutulu in your thoughts and prayers and stay tuned for further updates.