In this episode we interview Ray Luc Levasseur. During his time underground Levasseur was a purported member of the United Freedom Front, and the Sam Melville Jonathan Jackson Unit. Prior to that Levasseur organized in several above ground formations, including the Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC), Vietnam Veterans Against The War, and SCAR.
We talk to Ray about his early life, and the influence of his experience in Vietnam on the development of anti-imperialist politics and commitments. He also shares his first incarcerated organizing experiences in Tennessee. And we have brief discussions of his time in SSOC, Vietnam Veterans Against The War, and SCAR.
After that we discuss Ray’s time underground, and the claimed activities the Sam Melville Jonathan Jackson Unit and the United Freedom Front. Specifically he discusses IBM’s involvement in Apartheid, and the targeting of the military and prison industrial complexes by those underground groups.
We end with a discussion of Ray’s time in Marion and the refusal there by Levasseur and other political prisoners to build weapons for the federal government. Ray also shares thoughts on his experiences during 13 years of solitary confinement at Marion and later at ADX. And discusses why small acts of generosity and care on the outside can mean a great deal to people experiencing extreme repression.
He leaves the discussion with several ways folks can get involved in supporting political prisoners. We will include links in the show notes for folks who want to get involved in that necessary work.
Last week, on his final day in office, Gov. Andrew Cuomo commuted David Gilbert’s sentence, making him eligible for parole. Since then, a parole hearing for David has been scheduled for later this month. The Parole Board needs to hear that there is widespread support for his immediate release.
Once again David needs your help. Personal letters to the Parole Board are the best way to show your interest in this case. Time is short. We have only one week to collect letters for the Parole Board members to grant David parole at this hearing. Letters must be submitted by 6pm on September 8th.
If you wrote a letter supporting clemency for David, thank you! Please also consider reworking the letter to urge the Parole Board to grant him parole at this upcoming hearing. Every letter helps!
See below for guidelines for the letters. Note that a hard copy of the letter must be mailed to David’s counsellor and a digital copy should be submitted to https://friendsofdavidgilbert.org/parole/
NOTE: When making a purchase, click on the appropriate button and in the notes/comments (depending on PayPal or Venmo), make sure to include: • the item name • size (if applicable) • mailing address
Also, make sure to enter the correct purchase amount. PayPal does not require you to have an account and you can pay with a credit card through them.
ACAB T-shirt – $25
Looking for a smart shirt that let’s everyone know ACAB? Here’s the answer. We have a few of these left and won’t be printing this design again. Scoop one up before they’re gone. Shipping within the continental United States is included in the price of this t-shirt (include size–extra small, medium, large, extra large, or double extra large, and your address in the notes for the sale).
I Am Anarchist T-shirt – $25
Negate ambiguity with this fetching garment. With every politician looking to scapegoat anarchists, here’s a practical way to show some love. Shipping within the continental United States is included in the price of this shirt (include size, small through extra large, and your address in the notes for the sale).
Sugar Skull T-shirt – $25
“Solidarity is the heart of fighting the power.” This shirt was designed by comrades in CNA-DF (Cruz Negra Anarquista – Mexico City) and funds raised go to political prisoners they support. Shipping within the continental United States is included in the price of this shirt (include size, small through extra large, and your address in the notes for the sale).
Palang Hitam T-shirt – $25
NYC ABC printed these shirts in solidarity with anarchists in Indonesia, facing continued, intense state repression. Prisons are for BURNING! Shipping within the continental United States is included in the price of this shirt (include size and your address in the notes for the sale). Only small and medium sizes remain.
Black Flag Enamel Pin – $8
Nothing tells the world “no nations, no borders, fuck the state, law, and order” like a black flag enamel pin. Wear it on your lapel at court support or anywhere else. Shipping within the continental United States is included in the price of this pin (include your address in the notes for the sale).
Anarchist Black Cross Enamel Pin – $10
Show your solidarity with political prisoners with one of these enamel pins. Perfect for your cap, jacket, or…balaclava (no, not really–stay away from identifying details). Shipping within the continental United States is included in the price of this pin (include your address in the notes for the sale).
War On the Panthers Infographic Poster – $25
This poster is a marvel in screen-printing on paper—intricate, precise, and outstanding. This poster is a graphic reproduction from the book “Edible Secrets” by Mia Partlow and Michael Hoerger, measures 9 1/2″ by 21″ and is shipped in a poster tube. The history of state repression against the Black Panther Party in this infographic will have you revisiting it over and over. Shipping within the continental United States is included in the price of this poster (include your address in the notes for the sale).
Abolition Not Reform Poster – $20
It’s no secret that we deplore prisons and the bootlicking that goes into trying to make reforms to them. These amazing posters are letter-pressed, in a print run limited to 131 (2 proofs were also printed), each numbered. The white variation is limited to 96 pieces and will not be reprinted. Due to the inherent nature of letter-press, the color of the text is uniform, though opacity varies from poster to poster. Thanks to Wasp Print for the layout and help with printing that made these possible, and to The Base and NYC Anarchist Action, with whom funds raised from these posters will be split. The poster measures 13″ by 20″ and will ship in a poster tube. Shipping within the continental United States is included in the price of this poster (include your address in the notes for the sale).
Leave, Take Kill poster – $13
Leave, Take, Kill is a poster is from photographer Kelly Sena’s 2005 two-person exhibition “International Geographic.” The poster is printed on glossy poster stock, measures 7″ by 30 1/4,” and is mailed in a poster tube. Shipping within the continental United States is included in the price of this poster (include your address in the notes for the sale).
Since 1999, prisoners and supporters throughout North America have participated in the annual event known as Running Down the Walls (RDTW) often running or walking simultaneously in many cities and prisons at once. This is a 5k non-competitive run/jog/walk/roll in order to raise awareness and funds for the numerous political prisoners currently held in North American prisons. The 2021 event is scheduled for Sunday, September 12th.
Every year, prisoners and supporters of political prisoners organize solidarity events with Running Down the Walls. In previous years, we’ve had runs in Albuquerque (NM), Arcata (CA), Ashland (OR), Bellefonte (PA), Boston (MA), Buffalo (NY), Chico (CA), Denver (CO), Elmore (AL), Inez (KY), Los Angeles (CA), Lowell (MA), Marion (IL), Minneapolis (MN) New York (NY), USP Navosta (TX), Pelican Bay (CA), Phoenix (AZ), Tucson (AZ), Seattle (WA), and Toronto, Ontario.
This annual event is also one of the primary fundraisers for the ABCF Warchest Program – a fund designed to assist political prisoners who normally received little or no financial support with monthly checks. Other funds raised should be used to support local groups of your choosing, whether that is your own organization or another group you’d like to support. The choice is yours. Warchest video.
List of Running Down the Walls events for 2021 (alphabetically, by city)
Chicago Running Down the Walls We will run/walk/caravan around Cook County Jail in solidarity with political prisoners and the movement to abolish prisons. Gather at 2pm at Cook County Jail Complex 5k starts at 3pm That evening we are having a show at the Orphanage. 643 W. 31st Street in Bridgeport. The show starts at 8pm.
Los Angeles Running Down the Walls
LA ABCF will be hosting a virtual event on September 12th from 11am – 1pm PST. We will be hosting a Twitter Storm (as well as Instagram, and facebook) . Please join us and participate in both the exercising portion and in tweeting out support for political prisoners. Feel free to make noise all day for those imprisoned.
NYC Running Down the Walls 5k Run/Walk/Jog/Bike/Hang WHEN: 2:00-7:00pm, Sunday, September 12th, 2021 WHERE: Prospect Park– Lincoln Road/East Lake Drive, east of the Terrace Bridge. Map. COST: $10 registration (if COVID permits, will include food/drink afterwards. TBD) You can donate online by going to paypal.me/nycabc or venmo: @nycabc
After making the difficult decision to not hold last year’s event in person, we are very much looking forward to gathering as a community for the first time in a long time. Please stay tuned to our website, sign up for our newsletter, and follow us on twitter (@nycabc) for updates.
This year we hope to expand the amount of runs in prisons and other cities, as well as increase the amount of funds raised for community projects. NYC ABC‘s goal with this year’s run is $4,000.
Philadelphia Anarchist Black Cross invites you to our fourth annual Running Down The Walls (RDTW)! Join us for another revolutionary 5K run/walk/roll and day of solidarity amplifying the voices of our comrades behind bars, lifting them up in their struggles, and maintaining material support. If you would like to participate in light yoga and warm-up stretches before, please arrive by 10am and bring a mat if you can.
Running is not required! You can also walk or roll. 5K is two loops around the park and at a walking pace will take about 45-60 minutes. Light refreshments and socializing will take place in the park afterward.
This year’s event is in honor of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Join us as we once again raise energy and funds for the freedom struggle of another Philly comrade and long-term Black liberation prisoner. This year marks the 40th year that Mumia has been behind bars as a voice for the voiceless. Due to multiple health issues from medical neglect, he needs our support now more than ever.
Running is not required. We welcome all forms of participation, remote or in-person.
Mumia needs us more than ever. He suffers from coronary artery disease, diabetes, liver cirrhosis from years of untreated Hepatitis C, and Psoriasis. Incarceration is going to kill him, and that is why #FreedomIsTheOnlyTreatment. We HAVE to bring him home this year.
Your participation in #rdtw also supports the ABCF Warchest – a fund that sends monthly stipends to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War who have insufficient, little, or no financial support. Since initiation in November 1994, the program has dispersed more than $140,000.
So let’s come together, inside and outside prison walls. Let’s run/walk/roll for revolution, for Mumia Abu-Jamal, and the freedom of all Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War!
NYC ABC, along with several other individuals and prisoner support crews, now send hard copies to all political prisoners and prisoners of war we support.
If you consistently mail the latest updates to a specific prisoner, please let us know so we can insure there’s no overlap. The goal is to have copies sent to all of the prisoners we list.
We’ve also been told that some prisoners are not receiving the copies sent in, yet we aren’t getting rejection notices. If you are in steady contact with a prisoner, please ask them whether or not they are receiving the updates and let us know.
Free ’em all, NYC ABC Post Office Box 110034 Brooklyn, New York 11211 [email protected]
Black August began in the 1970s to mark the assassination of the imprisoned Black Panther, author, and revolutionary George Jackson during a prison rebellion in California. Each year in August we take time to honor captured freedom fighters of the Black Liberation struggle as we study, train and recommit to the struggle for freedom year-round.
In lieu of our normal Monday night letter-writing, we will be co-hosting a Black August event with Philly Jericho. We will be focusing on sending meaningful letters of solidarity to long-term political prisoner Sundiata Acoli. Sundiata was a prominent member of the Harlem chapter of the Black Panther Party. After targeting by the FBI’s illegal COINTELPRO, Sundiata continued the struggle underground with the Black Liberation Army. In 1973 he, Zayd and Assata Shakur were stopped by New Jersey state troopers. Zayd Shakur was killed, while Assata was wounded and taken into custody. One state trooper was killed during the incident and another injured. Sundiata was later captured and sentenced to life plus 30 years in a politically charged and biased trial. We will also send birthday cards to political prisoners with birthdays in September: Leonard Peltier (the 12th) and Maumin Khabir (the 15th).
Never written a letter to a prisoner before? No Problem! Join us at Clark Park (stone platform near 45th and Chester) and we will go over some of the basics and have all the letter-writing supplies and snacks available.
If you are unable to make the event, please send your solidarity to Sundiata at:
ALBANY — Just hours before leaving office, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo granted clemency to five men, including the commutation of the 75-years-to-life sentence of David Gilbert, a former member of the radical Weather Underground who in 1981 took part in the robbery of a Brink’s armored truck in Rockland County that left two Nyack police officers and a security guard dead.
Steve Zeidman, a CUNY Law School professor who began representing Gilbert in 2019, said Monday evening that his client is one of the oldest and longest-serving among the state’s roughly 38,000 inmates. He said that Gilbert has expressed deep remorse for his role in the crime, and while behind bars has taken part in efforts such as the creation of an AIDS education program that became a statewide model as the epidemic was raging in the 1980s and ’90s.
Zeidman, who directs the law school’s Criminal Defense Clinic, said that beyond the impact on Gilbert personally, Cuomo’s action sends a message to incarcerated people who fear they have no chance for release. “When a governor issues clemency, it echoes, it reverberates, it spreads hope,” he said.
Gilbert’s son, Chesa Boudin, was elected district attorney for San Francisco in 2019. His mother, Kathy Boudin, was also incarcerated for decades for her part in the heist, and received parole in 2003.
The Times Union’s Paul Grondahl wrote in November about the efforts of Chesa Boudin and Green Island’s Jeff Jones, a family friend and former ’60s radical turned environmental advocate, to press Cuomo to release Gilbert from prison — especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As someone who has known David since 1966, I’m just ecstatic,” Jones said Monday evening. ” … He’s a guy who deserves to be out of prison.”
Gilbert and Kathy Boudin were in a transfer truck waiting for the getaway car carrying the robbers and the $1.6 million they had stolen from the Brink’s truck at the Nanuet Mall. Boudin received a sentence of 25 years to life after hiring a lawyer, pleading guilty and accepting a plea deal; Gilbert defended himself and went to trial.
“My father was not present in the courtroom for much of the trial and nobody advocated for him, which is why it is a bad idea to represent yourself,” Chesa Boudin told Grondahl. “My mother and father did the exact same thing and had identical culpability in the crime. My mother served 22 years in prison and was paroled 17 years ago, while my father is still in prison. It’s an example of criminal justice imbalance.”
Boudin noted that his father is perhaps the only person his age who has served as many years in state prison who was unarmed during the commission of the crime. Another Brink’s robbery co-defendant, Weather Underground member Judith Clark, who drove the getaway car, was granted parole in 2019 after Cuomo commuted her 75-years-to-life sentence in 2016. Prosecutors and law enforcement bitterly opposed her parole and called it an insult to the victims’ family members.
Tarred by scandal, Cuomo is scheduled to relinquish his office at 11:59 p.m. Also Monday, he commuted the sentences of four other individuals who will not have to go before the parole board to earn release. They are:
Greg Mingo, 68, convicted of four counts of second-degree murder as well as burglary and weapons charges, who has served 39 years of a 50-years-to-life sentence;
Robert Ehrenberg, 62, was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder as well as robbery and burglary charges, who served 28 years of a 50-year-to-life sentence;
Ulysses Boyd, 66, convicted of one count of second-degree murder and weapons charges for an incident in which he was not the gunman, who has served 35 years of a 50-years-to-life sentence.
Paul Clark, 59, convicted of three counts of second-degree murder and one count of second-degree attempted murder, who served 40 years of an aggregate 58 years and 4 months-to-life sentence.
As with Gilbert’s case, Cuomo cited the men’s efforts to educate themselves and do good works while incarcerated.
Note:An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect first name for attorney Steve Zeidman.
WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing with NYC Anarchist Black Cross WHEN: 7pm, Tuesday, August 24th, 2021 WHERE: Virtual (not in person)
The Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) originally began as a channel for mostly Jewish anarchist emigres from the Russian empire to support revolutionaries locked up for struggling against Tsarism in the early 20th century. Known at first as the Workers Red Cross, then the Anarchist Red Cross, and eventually as the Anarchist Black Cross, the early ABC would raise awareness and funds, keep up correspondences and send money and food packages to their imprisoned comrades. After the Bolsheviks seized power the work remained to support non-Communist Party approved revolutionaries, re-imprisoned by the new bosses for continuing the fight against the old ones, and Alexander Berkman continued the work from exile in Berlin.
As the decades passed the increasing urgency of countering fascism and the great depression shifted priorities, and the ABC fell away as an organization (though many comrades continued the work of supporting political prisoners). It was revived by Albert Meltzer and Stuart Christie in the 1960’s, and while originally focusing on veterans of the ongoing struggle against Franco’s regime, it expanded rapidly to other include other struggles and international chapters. Former political prisoner Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin revived it in the belly of the ‘american’ beast, and today we see ABC chapters throughout the world.
Whatever the demands of time and place, the watchword of the ABC has always been solidarity. As Albert Meltzer said: “It is not intended to be a charity. It is to organize solidarity for victims of the class war.“ If by class war we mean the intersecting struggles against all forms of oppression—and we do—then we stand by Albert’s words. Regimes and pandemics come and go, but true solidarity is for ever.
As we have said before, it is matter of anarchist principle for us that we do not only support anarchist political prisoners, but all those engaged in struggles against oppression. But now, as has been the case for over a century, anarchist prisoners around the world are in need of solidarity.