As spring rolls in across the northern hemisphere, every bird seems to be busy building nests, streets and parks are filled with neighbors enjoying the warmer air, and the sun is shining longer and brighter. As much as those of on the outside welcome the seasonal renewal, it would be remiss of us to not also give time and energy to our friends and comrades for whom freedom is continually denied. Solidarity is perennial. In light of this, we keep going on with our bi-weeklyletter-writing events, which remain socially distanced for the time being due to the ongoing pandemic. We will return to in-person events once it seems responsibly safe to do so, though we are not looking forward to returning to any “normal” that includes complacency with settler-colonial white supremacy.
This week please join NYC ABC and Page One Collective in writing to Joe-Joe Bowen. A native of Philadelphia, Joe-Joe was a young member of the “30th and Norris” street gang before his incarceration politicized him. Released in 1971, his outside activism was cut short a week following his release when Joe-Joe was confronted by an officer of the notoriously brutal Philadelphia police department. The police officer was killed in the confrontation, and Bowen fled. After his capture and incarceration, Bowen became a Black Liberation Army combatant, defiant to authorities at every turn. In 1973, Joe-Joe assassinated Holmesberg prison’s warden and deputy warden as well as wounded the guard commander in retaliation for intense repression against Muslim prisoners in the facility. In 1981, Bowen led a six-day standoff with authorities when he and six other captives took 39 hostages at Graterford Prison as a freedom attempt and protest of the prison conditions. More information here.
Please take the time to write a letter to Joe-Joe (and share a photo of your completed envelopes with us online):
Smart Communications/PA DOC Joseph Bowen AM4272 SCI Fayette Post Office Box 33028 Saint Petersburg, Florida 33733 *Address cards/letters to Joe-Joe.
Its payday for many of us. Donate to the ABCF Warchest and support political prisoners imprisone for decades!
The Anarchist Black Cross Federation (ABCF) initiated the Warchest program in November 1994 to send monthly checks to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War who have been receiving insufficient, little, or no financial support during their imprisonment. Its purpose is to collect funds from groups and individual supporters and send that money directly to commissary accounts of vetted Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War (PP/POW) via monthly checks. Since its inception, we have distributed over $130,000 in funds.
As Sekou Odinga (a former POW recipient) wrote, “Thanks much for the support you’ve been organizing, I really appreciate it. After not having any or very little support for so long, it now seems like (people) have all of a sudden realized that I am alive.”
We are consolidating efforts going on around the country in support of PP/POWs in order to substantially aid such prisoners. There are many such efforts going on. Prisoner supporters are often small in number and finance, so it is usually difficult to meet the material needs of PP/POWs. We may be small pockets of resistance, however, we are also part of a much larger struggle. Former POW Ojore Lutalo said, ‘our enemy is consolidating their efforts against us, we have to do the same.’ One way this is done is through collecting monthly donations from groups or individuals. Many of us cannot afford more than $5, $10, or $20 per month. Alone, this does not amount to much. But, when we pool our resources and give that amount to one Warchest, we are able to make progress. The success we have had thus far attests to this. In the first several years, we were able to increase the number of prisoners we support with consistent support of up to $60 per month. Due to financial restraints in 1999, we were forced to reduce the monthly aid to $40 per recipient. However, since then we significantly increased the number of recipients, and in 2020 we increased the monthly stipend to $50 for the 19 current recipients.
Still, the need is more than we can offer at this time. With your help, we can change this– become a regular contributor, or contact us with your ideas! You can, for instance, support Running Down the Walls, an annual 5K held in and out of prisons all over the U.S. that raises money for the Warchest. Please help this much needed program expand and increase the number of prisoners supported and the amount they receive. There is any number of ways that you can do so. If you want to put on a benefit, please contact one of our chapters first so we can supply you with promotional and informational literature.
Where Does This Money Go?
All Warchest recipients are verified as political prisoners or prisoners of war based on international standards. The current Warchest recipients are:
“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]
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