New article by Daniel Baker-“It’s a “Wonderful” Prison Life

Hello friends,

I’m writing today on Christmas because I was not able to call anyone. Here at FCI Memphis in each unit there are 4 phones for 100 people. In other prisons there were 6 to 8 phones for less people. In addition to this they have been practicing a policy in which they open all of the cells but refuse to let us leave the cells until the last cell is unlocked. They they say “GO!” and laugh while they watch everyone scramble for the phones and computers. It creates the circumstances for a fight to break out. They are intentionally pitting us against each other by providing limited resources, emotional tension and then creating a stampede. They do this to turn us against each other and to instigate violent incidents so they can justify locking us down. People who become cops are lazy bullies. They don’t want to do their fair share of labor for the community, they want to get paid to sit around, sleep through the night shift and get paid overtime to do nothing. They are parasites.

Daniel Baker

Today I sat in line for several hours for one phone call and then we were locked down right before I got to the phone. After lockdown I got back in line, and when I got to the phone it did not work. Several others around me were also unable to complete calls. The call went forward as usually but right when it was supposed to ring there was a sound like someone hung up the phone repeatedly. This institute does not have the resources to provide everyone they are keeping here with the required constitutional rights and conditions. They are understaffed and undertrained. They have become complacent due to long covid lockdowns and they want to return to the indefinite lockdown. In order to do less work and get paid even more to do less they are allowing people to get hurt by holding us hostage and extorting us for phone calls. Every day we have to remind each other that this is a conscious, malicious strategy forced on us by the enemy of the common people, the police class. We are organizing ourselves to avoid conflicts, to avoid playing into their lazy, sadistic hands.

On a less bitter note I watched “It’s A Wonderful Life’ today on TV and was reminded of all the amazing solidarity I have received for the last year, and the solidarity I have experienced in Tallahassee and worldwide since I hit the road to become a full time activist in 2012. I was once again moved by the scene of this movie where the main character confronts the richest man in town for treating the working people like cattle. He asks the decadent banker if he even knows how long it takes a worker to save up $5000, and reminds him that these people wouldn’t even be able to live in a home if his abusive business practices continued. He then goes to work to undermine this rich banker and he builds a strong community through mutual aid, infrastructure, building homes and putting others before his won personal interests. The paradox here is that through building community by helping others with daily direct actions we too are taken care of. Despite the blind patriotism and mythology indulged in by this classic film, I found my Grinch heart softening.

The final scene where the community comes together to raise funds for the main character’s freedom moved me deeply. It glosses over the fact that he was about to go to jail at the hands of corrupt police, politicians and bankers. It reminds me of how my international community has come together for me, sending books, assigning me ACLU lawyers, putting money on my account and writing heartfelt letters to me and those involved in my case. It is through seemingly mundane work, often boring and time consuming labor, paperwork, farming, construction, companionship, maintenance, healthcare and education that we build strong communities. Capitalist society wants us to romanticize and glamorize violence, authority, hierarchy and selfish ambition. But these kinds of activities do not build a healthy home, much less a community. They divide us and create the illusion of independent patriots fulfiling some mythological manifest destiny of colonization. In reality we are all INTERDEPENDENT. We rely on farmers, plumbers, construction workers, healthcare workers, educators, electricians and all the other ordinary people who are our neighbors. We rely on so called foreigners, friends and family. The health of so called strangers directly effect our health.

So please continue to take good care of yourselves and each other. I send you all my heartfelt love, gratitude, strength, courage, rage and motivation! Please help your homeless neighbors and think of me while you do this. Please make daily direct actions of solidarity and courage. Stop when you see police have pulled over or arrested minorities and other neighbors. Hold them accountable and you will see your neighbors released – who otherwise would have been jailed for no reason other than there were no witnesses. Live stream these interactions from your phone and declare your presence to these cops betraying the working class. I have done this. I would not ask you to do anything unless I had already done it. Anything I can do, you can do better – you can do anything better than me! I only wish I had done more community building before I went to prison. I pledge to spend the rest of my life making up for this lost time by supporting other prisoners and reaching out to neighbors, both the housed and the unhoused. Together we will make a better world, because we have to in order to survive. We are responsible for every person who dies in prison and on the streets from exposure and preventable violence and diseases. Murray Bookchin says we must be practical by doing the impossible. We will create a world where everyone has food, shelter, healthcare and community. One day we will look back on this era as the age of corrupt police, illegal imprisonment, neo-slavery, wage slavery and we will shame the oppressors. Help me by taking responsibility for each other and the social problems you see in your daily life. Thank you for being there for me.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
Don’t let the bastards grind you down!
Dan aka Alishare

Daniel Baker 25765-509
FCI Memphis
PO Box 34550
Memphis, TN 38184