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Judge in Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case blasts Krasner for trying to block latest appeal

The Pennsylvania judge in the Mumia Abu-Jamal case has issued an opinion blasting Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner for trying to block the world-famous death row inmate from having a chance to reargue his case in front of the state’s high court.

In December, Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker breathed new life into Abu-Jamal’s case by reinstating the former Black Panther’s appeal rights, citing new evidence that emerged during the appeal’s legal discovery allegedly showing that a former Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice who denied Abu-Jamal’s appeal was biased against him.

Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing a city police officer more than 30 years ago, and, during some of the appeals, Ron Castille was Philadelphia district attorney. Castille later became a state  Supreme Court justice, then chief justice of the court, where he was among the judges who rejected Abu-Jamal’s final appeal in 2012.

The evidence that rejuvenated Abu-Jamal’s case is a 1990 letter Castille wrote to then-Gov. Bob Casey urging him to more quickly sign the execution warrants for death row inmates “to send a clear and dramatic message to all police killers that the death penalty in Pennsylvania actually means something.”

Tucker said since Abu-Jamal did not know about the letter at the time of his appeal, he could not point to it as justification for Castille to recuse himself. And so, Tucker said in his Friday opinion, Abu-Jamal deserves a new chance to make the case for his innocence to the state Supreme Court.

But lawyers in Krasner’s office are fighting to prevent that from happening. In court filings, Krasner’s assistants wrote that Castille was merely expressing his personal view in the letter to the governor, saying it did not affect his ability to be a fair judge during Abu-Jamal’s appeals.

In a new opinion elaborating on the December ruling, Tucker doubled down on his rejection of Krasner’s position.

“Our system of laws, rightfully so, endeavors to prevent even the appearance of bias,” Tucker wrote, saying the letter to Casey creates “an unconstitutional appearance of bias and would lead a significant minority of the lay community to reasonably question Justice Castille’s impartiality.”

“He’s basically making the very strong rebuttal to DA Krasner’s statements that this is just an overly broad decision and also a rebuttal to the factual misrepresentations in the DA’s recent filings,” said Rachel Wolkenstein, former lawyer and longtime activist for Abu-Jamal.

State Supreme Court to decide

The decision is now up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which is weighing whether to take Abu-Jamal’s new appeal and potentially grant him a new trial.

Judith Ritter, Abu-Jamal’s lawyer, said the judge elaborating on his former opinion “clarifies even more that Judge Tucker’s decision is correct.”

Krasner spokesman Ben Waxman said the office is “still evaluating the new opinion and have not made a decision yet on how to proceed.”

But in filings, Krasner’s office has maintained that Tucker’s ruling is problematic since it could potentially require “any lead prosecutor who becomes a judge to recuse in every case that was pending in that person’s office when the now-judge was the lead prosecutor.”

In other words, Krasner’s prosecutors say, defendants involved in cases from a judge’s past career should not necessarily be barred from being heard in that judge’s courtroom. Otherwise,  scores in Philadelphia would have trouble finding an impartial judge.

But Tucker said pushing for Abu-Jamal to be executed, then ruling to dismiss his appeal was a clear conflict of interest.

“To have the former leader of the district attorney’s office decide the outcome of a dispute involving that office which occurred during his tenure as district attorney gives the appearance of being fundamentally unfair, unjust and improper,” Tucker wrote.

Earlier this year, prosecutors wrote to the court about six boxes linked to Mumia’s case found in an out-of-the-way storage room. The surprise discovery set off much speculation, which was put to rest when Krasner shortly after said there was nothing new found in the boxes, mostly paperwork and legal filings. Still, how and when the boxes became separated from the rest of Abu-Jamal’s case documents remain a mystery.

Abu Jamal, 64, who has cirrhosis of the liver and is receiving treatment for hepatitis C, has continued to write extensively from behind bars about race and mass incarceration.

The family of the officer Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing, Daniel Faulkner, has said that the new appeal is reopening old emotional wounds. During a court hearing late last year, Maureen Faulkner, the widow of the slain officer, had an emotional outburst and had to be escorted out of court.

Running Down the Walls Coming Soon!

First Issue of the Black Cross Bulletin!

Check out the first issue of the Black Cross Bulletin!


Running Down the Walls 2016!

We Want To Run With You!

On Sunday, September 11th, 2015 at 10 a.m., the Los Angeles Anarchist Black Cross Federation and RAC-LA will host the 5K Run/Walk/Bike around MacArthur Park. Runs with take place in Denver, New York, and other cities. This Run is designed to raise much-needed funds for the ABCF Warchest program and for RAC. We are attempting to reach the goal of $3,500 with the run. Funds will be divided between the two programs:

ABCF Warchest:
The ABCF Warchest program was created in November of 1994. Its purpose is to send monthly financial support to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War (PP/POWs).  The Warchest funds are divided and distributed through monthly stipends to political prisoners who receive little or no financial aid. Prisoners use this money to cover the basic necessities of everyday living. These funds have been used by prisoners to pay for stamps, shoes, clothes, as well as assisting their families with what little they can.

Revolutionary Autonomous Communities (RAC):
In the aftermath of the May Day 2007 police riot targeting migrant workers who dared stand up for our human rights, members of the MacArthur Park area and others joined together to support those with no papers and those with no means. RAC-LA came forward to aid the community in self-organizing such that with the help of each other we might make an inhuman way of living a bit more bearable while at same time acquiring the means to one day transform this system into an image of our own humanity.

If  you are able, we would love for you to organize a Running Down the Walls in your location.  We wish to expand the solidarity runs to more cities and prisons.  In past years we’ve had runs in: Albuquerque (NM), Arcata (CA), Ashland, (OR), Bellefonte (PA), Boston (MA), Connecticut River, Dannemora (NY), Denver, (CO), Detroit (MI), Elmore (AL), Guelph (CAN), Inez (KY), Los Angeles (CA), Marion (IL), Mexico City (MEX), New York City (NY),  USP. Navosta (TX), Pelican Bay (CA), Phoenix (AZ), Sandstone (MN), Tucson (AZ), USP Tucson (AZ), and Toronto (CAN).  Regardless of how you identify politically, your support for RDTW is an important statement of solidarity for all movements for social justice.  We recognize the contributions to the struggle given by a diversity of PP/POW’s imprisoned for their pursuit of liberation.

Let Us Know:
Every year we get runners who are unfamiliar with Political Prisoners and the movements they came from.  We read statements of solidarity from PP/POW’s before each run begins because we want people to run with PP/POW’s issues on their minds

•If you are able to run, please write us and let us know that you can run and your thoughts on the run.
•If you are not able to run, we still want your words, your thoughts, your knowledge and encouragement.
•Please mail us your statements of solidarity as soon as you can.
Stay up & Stay Strong!

Los Angeles Branch Group of the
Anarchist Black Cross Federation (LA-ABCF)
PO Box 11223
Whittier, CA 90603

[email protected]

Settlement reached in Shoatz v. Wetzel

July 11, 2016: Pittsburgh PA —A settlement has been reached in the case of Shoatz v. Wetzel, which challenged the 22-year solitary confinement of Abolitionist Law Center client and political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz. This brings an end to litigation begun in 2013. In February 2014, following an international campaign on behalf of Shoatz, he was released from solitary confinement.

In exchange for Shoatz ending the lawsuit the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) has agreed that it will not place Shoatz back in solitary confinement based on his prior disciplinary record or activities; Shoatz will have a single-cell status for life, meaning he will not have to experience the extreme hardship of being forced to share a cell following decades of enforced isolation; a full mental health evaluation will be provided; and the DOC has paid a monetary settlement.

Russell Maroon Shoatz had the following to say about the settlement: “I have nothing but praise for all of those who supported me and my family for all of the years I was in Solitary Confinement, as well as helped to effect my release. Since joining the struggle for Human Rights in the mid 1960s, I have always chosen to fight! Frederick Douglass was right when he said ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand.’ So have no doubt that I see this Settlement as anything but the latest blow struck, and you rest assured that I will continue in the struggle for Human Rights. Straight Ahead!”

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Mendez, said: “This settlement is a major contribution to the quest to outlaw prolonged solitary confinement in the US and around the world. I congratulate Mr. Shoatz and his family for not giving up and his team of lawyers for a committed and highly professional approach to justice.”

Shoatz had been held in solitary confinement in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) since 1983. For 19 months between 1989 and 1991 he was held in the general population of the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth. Upon return to the PADOC in 1991 he was immediately placed back in solitary confinement and held there until February 20, 2014, when he was released to the general population at State Correctional Institution Graterford, 10 months after he filed suit in Shoatz v. Wetzel.

The case challenged the more than 22 consecutive years that Shoatz spent in conditions of solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment due to the severe deprivations of basic human needs imposed on Shoatz, including mental health, environmental stimulation, social interaction, sleep, physical health, and exercise. Shoatz also challenged violations of his procedural and substantive due process rights.

As noted by Judge Eddy in her February 2016 decision ordering a trial in the case, plaintiff’s expert, psychiatrist Dr. James Gilligan, stated in his report in the case that Shoatz has spent “virtually his entire adult life in complete and coerced social isolation (and sensory deprivation) – which is among the most abnormal and pathogenic environments in which it is possible to place a human being.”

The decision also quoted United Nations Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez, who was another expert for the plaintiff:

The conditions of detention of Mr. Russell Shoatz, in particular his indefinite solitary confinement eventually lasting 29 years, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment under customary international law standards. . . . [E]ven if isolation of inmates is not per se contrary to those practices, indefinite or excessively prolonged regimes of solitary confinement like the one suffered by Mr. Shoatz certainly do. In addition to the excessive duration and indefinite nature, his isolation contradicts the trend of all civilized Nations in that it was imposed on the basis of status determinations unrelated to any conduct in his part, and through a meaningless procedure that did not afford him a serious chance to challenge the outcome.

Shoatz was released from solitary confinement after an international campaign led by his family and supporters. The campaign to release Shoatz included the support of five Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor, Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Jody Williams from the United States, and Adolfo Perez Esquivel of Argentina. Several U.S. civil and human rights organizations also endorsed his release from isolation.

In March 2013, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Juan Mendez, called on the government “to cease the prolonged isolation of Mr. Shoat[z].” (see Democracy Now! interview with Juan Mendez and Matt Meyer discussing Maroon at this link).

Shoatz was represented in this case by Bret Grote and Dustin McDaniel of the Abolitionist Law Center; Harold J. Engel; and Reed Smith attorneys Rick Etter and Stefanie L. Burt.

Russell Shoatz III [email protected] 347-697-5390
Theresa Shoatz [email protected] 267-456-7882
Bret Grote [email protected] 412-654-9070

Support Political Prisoner Sundiata Acoli’s Ongoing Legal Appeals

Dear Friends and supporters of Sundiata Acoli:

A New Jersey Appellate Court in September 2014 ordered the release of Sundiata, resting its decision on the eligibility requirements under the New Jersey Parole Act of 1979. The decision left us overjoyed and at the same time, cautious as the State announced it would appeal the decision and request a “Stay” of the release until the appeal was heard. The “Stay” was granted which resulted in Sundiata remaining incarcerated while awaiting a decision from a New Jersey Supreme Court.

Arguments were heard on October 13, 2015 and on February 23, 2016, the Supreme court of NJ reversed the Appellate Court’s order. The court did not rule on the merits of the Appellate case ordering release, but focused rather, on procedure. The Supreme Court held that the Appellate Court exceeded its authority in ordering release because a procedural process had not been followed- in New Jersey the full parole board has to make a decision in cases involving murder convictions. Sundiata appeared before the full board in June, 2016 and again, denied parole. An appeal will again be taken to the same Appellate Division that ordered his release.

Additionally, a certiorari petition has been filed in the United States Supreme Court and that filing involved legal fees, printing and filing costs. Please know and understand that all of your support is so much appreciated and needed as we continue to work towards Sundiata’s release. He will be 80 years old on January 14, 2017!!!

It is most respectfully requested that everyone continues to exercise discretion and discipline in not making what could be interpreted as inflammatory remarks on social media or elsewhere. I know all of us who love and support Sundiata will want no reason for a denial of parole when this case again comes before the New Jersey Appellate Court- the court that issued a strong order that Sundiata must be released in accordance with the NJ parole Act of 1979. Sundiata has continued his positive actions since that decision.

Further, do understand that as much as we would like to keep supporters and friends abreast of what is going on with the case, it is not in Sundiata’s best interest to expose each and every detail and legal strategies. We will all celebrate his freedom when he is released, but until then we will exercise restraint.

Please make checks/money orders payable to: Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign (or SAFC)

Mail to:

Florence Morgan
120-46 Queens Blvd.
Kew Gardens, New York 11415

Statement from Eric King’s support Committee Regarding King’s Sentence

Today, Eric King was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in the federal district court in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Eric accepted a non-cooperating plea to one count of “use of explosive materials to commit arson of property used in or affecting interstate commerce” (18 U.S.C. § 844[h]). The action he admitted taking was throwing a hammer and two Molotov cocktails through the window of the empty office of a US congressperson from Missouri late at night on September 11th, 2014.
The statutory minimum and maximum sentences for that charge are both 10 years, meaning that the set penalty is 10 years. Eric will receive credit for time served for almost two years of pre-trial incarceration, leaving him a little more than eight years to serve.
We do not know where he will be spending those years, though we commit to keeping you all up-to-date on his placement and well-being until he is free once more. The most recent updates will always be at
A number of people gathered together today and made it through the court’s security check to fill the rows with love and solidarity. Thank you to everyone who came out! Eric was in the best spirits one could anticipate considering the grim circumstances at hand. As always, he demonstrated the incredible balance of light-heartedness and serious commitment to his values that we have come to appreciate in him so much. He entered the courtroom smiling at supporters and signed “I love you,” to his partner, a gesture of affection that was quickly squashed by a US Marshall. Despite the shackles on his ankles and wrists, he was warmly animated throughout the proceeding, smiling and rolling his eyes at the more laughable court proceedings, and even flipping off the prosecutor. He also delivered a powerful sentencing statement to the court, refusing to back down. Not even the gravity of the moment could keep his spirit down or his words in check.
Putting into words the emotions we’re all feeling right now is difficult. There is a certain sense of relief in knowing that he will soon be transferred out of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) Leavenworth. CCA is notorious for abhorrent prison conditions, and Eric’s time there has consistently shown that infamous reputation to be well deserved. We do not expect his time in federal prison to be good, but hope that he will have a better chance of getting his basic needs met in that system than he was able to find in the for-profit, slave-holding facility in Leavenworth. While there is a feeling of closure in this chapter of Eric’s story, there is also a palpable rage as Eric has been stolen from us and will remain locked away for the next eight years.
Prior to imposing the sentence and conditions of release, Judge Fenner felt it necessary to announce to Eric and enter into the court record that Eric is “obviously a sick, deranged and dangerous person” with a “history of mental illness.” While there is always room for learning and growth every time a comrade is imprisoned, we refuse this narrative that Eric’s actions can be summed up as those of a deranged individual. We want to strongly counter this assertion of the state and remind those who hold power that resistance to and direct attacks against systems and structures of oppression is not a sign of mental illness nor delusion. In fact, in many cases these acts of resistance, large or small, are the most sound reaction one could take when faced with the daily horrors and brokenness that are imposed on us all. Eric expressed no regrets today in court and we continue to stand in solidarity with him.
We’ll be sharing the transcript from the hearing as soon as we have it, including Eric’s sentencing statement (which he improvised in the moment). Overall, he lambasted the classist, racist, and patriarchal government and the way it destroys families and communities for the sake of the rich. He insulted the court, the judge, and the supposed “justice” they claim to represent. He stood proudly behind his act of rebellion, refusing to beg for mercy or to apologize for his actions. “This court is a farce. I stand by what I did. I’m happy I did it. I’m sorry that I got caught.”
We’d like to close with some of Eric’s own words, transcribed from a phone call with Eric last night:
“This has been a really fucking long and hard journey. CCA sucks. It is a horrible, horrible place. They have done everything imaginable just to drain all of the life and soul out of everyone here. I have been incredibly fortunate to have some many people come into my life and take a stand with me so that I didn’t have to face this shit alone. I have seen how difficult prison can be when you don’t have a support team and don’t have folks in your corner. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody but unfortunately it is the reality for most. The system breeds such an environment.
“There have been so many people that interjected themselves in my life with the sole purpose of being there for me and limiting the state’s crushing effect. I don’t know what I would do without those people. From the smallest greeting to the big gestures, everything has meant so much to me. Prison support is a real tangible thing that people can do for each other. We cannot have a functioning radical community without it. So thanks to everyone who reached out to me, if we still talk or not, you have been awesome.
“Now that said, I stand by my actions. After seeing what happened in Ferguson, so close down the road, I was disgusted by the lack of mobilization in my city. Three hours away people were fighting for their lives and we weren’t even taking to the streets. We were doing nothing. My act as a very personal display of my anger and rage toward the state as well as an act of solidarity to everyone in Ferguson. We never know our own strength until we are tested and even with my ridiculous sentence I feel at least proud to have been able to stand strong and refuse to cooperate with the state.
“I am just really happy that I don’t have to take this alone and have so many amazing people standing next to me. Until all are free.
“Thank you for your roles in my life and for your support.”
Keep posted for future updates on Eric. And drop him a line to show him your solidarity:
Eric King
CCA Leavenworth
100 Highway Terrace
Leavenworth, KS 66048
You can also donate to his support fund at You can get a kick-ass support t-shirt when you donate $20 or more!
Love and rage,
EK Support Crew

Janye Waller’s New Address

New Address:
Janye Waller BA2719
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, CA 94974
via nyc abc After the police murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner in 2014, thousands of people took to the streets in protest. Janye was one of those folks and was recently sentenced to two years for incidents related to those actions.
From Janye’s support crew: “He lives and works in Oakland, providing financial support to his mother, his two younger brothers, and his cousin. He attended Berkeley Community College where he planned to major in Accounting, but had to take leave in order to help support his family, and he hopes to return to college soon. Janye also volunteers at a social center in West Oakland that works to empower Black and indigenous people living in the Bay Area through education and mutual aid. Within this space Janye works tirelessly, helping coordinate and administer programs focusing on skills like urban farming, which foster both community and individual autonomy.”
There is an ongoing campaign to raise funds for Janye’s commissary and legal fees:
Hands off Janye (on facebook)

Daniel McGowan Speaking Event in Los Angeles


On July 28, 2016, former political prisoner Daniel McGowan will be speaking at the RAC Mutual Aid Community Center at 2515 W. 7th Street in Los Angeles. This will be Daniel’s first speaking event in Los Angeles since his release from federal prison. In June of 2007, Daniel was sentenced to 7 years in prison for his involvement in activities associated with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). While in prison, Daniel was transferred to the Communication Management Unit in Terre Haute, Indiana, often referred to as “Little Guantanamo”, because of his continued political activism while in prison. Daniel was released on probation in June of 2013. He will be speaking about his experiences as a political prisoner and the need for continued support of other political prisoners still incarcerated.

The event is free. Doors will open at 6:00 pm. Between 6:30 and 8:00 pm, the documentary, “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”, will be shown which highlights the case and prosecution of Daniel McGowan and his co-defendants. Daniel will be speaking directly after the end of the film.

The event is co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Anarchist Black Cross and the Revolutionary Autonomous Communities.

Event Date/Time: July 28th, 2016 (6:00-9:00 pm)
Location: 2515 W. 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90057-3801

LA ABCF’s Statement on the Death of Hugo Pinell

Today we learned about the death of our beloved comrade, Hugo ‘Yogi’ Pinell. Pinell was a member of the ‘San Quentin 6’ and was one of the longest held political prisoners in the U.S. According to early reports another inmate attacked him with a makeshift knife, which sparked a riot in California State Prison, Sacramento in Folsom.

The news of his passing has weighed heavy on the hearts of the members of this organization, as well as the rest of the political prisoner support community. It is a reminder to us that many of our comrades have, in essence, been given a death sentence by the State; whether that death comes in the form of old age, disease or in a violent manner similar to the situation that happened today. It is a sad reality that unless a viable and powerful movement is created that demands the freedom of all political prisoners, Pinell’s death will be just one of many. The death of one comrade is one too many for this movement to accept.

We cannot forget our comrades that live behind the prison walls. We must not allow the death sentences to be served without with a groundswell of resistance. While we should never forget our fallen comrades, we should never allow our own to be so easily martyred. Let the numbers of those liberated overshadow the numbers of those lost. Free All Political Prisoner!

Los Angeles Anarchist Black Cross