This is a brief instructional video, outlining how to write U.S. political prisoners, including a brief history of the Anarchist Black Cross. It’s intended as a resource to be shown at local political prisoner letter writing events, or watched by individuals looking to learn some basics about writing political prisoners. It was produced by a collaboration between Page One and Burning Books.
Much of the model presented here was developed over several years of practice by the New York City Anarchist Black Cross. Special thanks to the Buffalo Committee Against State Repression, the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, the Friends of Jeff Luers, and the Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan.
“Davon-Marie Grimmer has been struggling to get help for more than year for her cousin, Kent Clark. Sometimes, when he calls from prison, he asks to speak with relatives who are no longer alive. Sometimes, he forgets the name of his cell mate.
“As far as I know, he hasn’t received any medical attention for the dementia, and he’s just so vulnerable in there,” Grimmer said. “He’s 66 years old. He can’t take care of himself.”
Clark is one of about 150 people in federal prison who time mostly forgot. This group of “old law” prisoners committed crimes before November 1987, when the law changed to remove the possibility of parole. But even with the grandfathered-in chance for parole — and despite a push to reduce prison populations — dozens of men in their 60s, 70s and 80s still have little hope of release.”
While the Panthers have become a staple of pop culture, veteran members of the group remain invisible.
On October 7, 2020, Jalil Muntaqim exited the Sullivan Correctional Facility in upstate New York a free man. A member of the Black Panther Party and its more militant, clandestine offshoot, the Black Liberation Army, Muntaqim was 19 years old at the time of his 1971 arrest, which was followed by his conviction three years later for the murder of two NYPD police officers, Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini. After nearly a half-century behind bars and over a dozen parole requests, Muntaqim’s parole was approved last September, one month before his sixty-ninth birthday.
Download this zine by the Page One collective that highlights the 13 elders currently incarcerated for their participation in Black liberation movements. Write them, support them, bring up their names. Hand this information out at a protest, at a family dinner, or in your neighborhood. Let’s keep these names in our minds and hearts.
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 — NYC ABC Post Office Box 110034 Brooklyn, New York 11211
Many thanks to all of you who have participated in our ongoing drive to benefit NYC Books Through Bars! We truly appreciate your generosity at this time (over 8,000 books purchased on their behalf since June 2020!), when those incarcerated face ever greater obstacles getting access to written material.
May 2021’s pick: Assata: An Autobiography, Giovanni’s Room, and a selection from the Penguin Great Ideas Series–three books for $30
Following April’s drive (almost 700 books collected!) is a bundle focusing on great thinkers and political iconoclasts. Assata Shakur and James Baldwin were firebrands in the 1960s and 70s who challenged mainstream culture and racial assumptions through their words and activism.
Shakur’s 1987 autobiography has become an important document of Black resistance movements that reveals the incredible lengths the U.S. government went to stifle revolutionary thought at the height of the Civil Rights era.
Though James Baldwin’s own nonfiction (essays, criticism, polemics) is substantial, we decided to focus on his fiction this month, and the novel Giovanni’s Room. Set in 1950’s Paris and amongst a community of American expatriates, Baldwin tackles social isolation, gender and sexual identity crisis, as well as conflicts of masculinity within this story of a young bisexual man navigating the public sphere in a society that rejects a core aspect of his sexuality.
Rounding out the bundle are classic works from the Penguin Great Ideas Series, which your purchase will allow us to provide incarcerated readers with a variety of, like works on evolution, political theory, the ethics of the Samurai, and women’s rights.
To learn more about the important work NYC Books Through Bars does, go here.
It’s May 1st: Mayday and that means our column on It’s Going Down: *Prison Break* is out for May! Check it out at the link and read all about political prisoner birthdays, releases, acquittals & dropped charges, ongoing cases and our new Call for Submissions for our 2022 calendar!!! Be sure to check out the amazing art by indigenous PP Oso Blanco featured as well!
Children’s Art Project (CAP) was first conceived by Indigenous political prisoner Oso Blanco several years ago.
Imprisoned by the US government for expropriating from banks to fund the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), Oso Blanco has been using art to continue his mission. These first four designs were all painted by Oso Blanco after he had been captured in 1999. Proceeds from the sale of these greeting cards will benefit children in the autonomous Zapatista zone of Chiapas, Mexico, and on reservations here on Turtle Island.
“I did all this art under extreme duress. For years I was trying to make this happen, I was living in a literal hell on Earth where I did these pieces (SMU Lewisberg). Sometimes I couldn’t get paper, other times no pencils. Every day was violence, every day was conflict with staff and prisoners. Sometimes I had crazy cellies. I was living in an absolute horror. Often times we got pepper sprayed, we got shook down. My pieces got ripped or damaged or stolen by staff. I would have to struggle, REAL struggle, that most people on the streets couldn’t survive, let alone imagine. But I never gave up!
I continue to believe in Children’s Art Project (CAP). This art was done by hand, not by some computer. The toil and the suffering and the high cost of sending out my art via certified Mail is seriously no joke. I’m not sitting at some resort in Washington state, relaxing, doing this art with all the best art supplies and resources. I’m literally doing this with extreme difficulty and the bare minimum. I think people must respect the fact that they could probably not even survive in the environments where I completed this art.
So, please, honor the Children’s Art Project, so that we may help the children in Chiapas, where I’ve risked my life many times in Mexico sending old army surplus, bullets, medicine, horseshoes, vitamins for pregnant women (folic acid), veterinary medicine for horses, you name it. I didn’t just fall off the potato wagon and become a Political Prisoner, I earned this through my great sacrifice, through life and death, through turmoil. Being shot by the police and the FBI and having police dogs sicced on me during this case, ripping me apart, all for the humor of the FBI and Albuquerque police.
Love, Oso Blanco Zapatista Supply Warrior & Native Anarchist”
You can print a trifold about Oso Blanco here, and write him at this address:
Byron Chubbuck, #07909-051 USP Victorville PO Box 3900 Adelanto, CA 92301